Sunday, July 09, 2006

Here and There . . .

An occasional roundup of links that may be of interest to our readers . . .

  • Separation of Church and State: Some Things Never Change - Reviewing a book by (Separation of Church and State Philip Hamburger. Harvard UP, 2004), Justin Dziowgo (Democracy of the Dead) provides a detailed history of the understanding of this term and the development of religious liberty in America.

  • Willmoore Kendall revisited. Enchiridion Militis June 29th, 2006. Paul J. Cella introduces us to one of his favorite conservatives.

  • Ten Years On: A Caelum et Terra Reader?. Featuring contributions by Thomas Storck, Maclin Horton, Dan Nichols and Robert Gotcher (among others), Caelum et Terra was born of a state of disattisfaction with the state of the Church, "the domination of faith by politics" (whether left or right), and the calumny of sectarian Catholic polemics. It is also known for its criticism of what they perceived to be a misinterpretation of Catholic social doctrine by Fr. Neuhaus, George Weigel and Michael Novak. Some of their articles are contained online here, along with their statement of purpose. The publication lasted from 1991-1996 -- Maclin Horton reflects on its history:
    Looking back, ten years on, from a somewhat altered perspective, having experienced marriage, fatherhood, and a brush with death, there are things I would do differently: a little more realism, perhaps, a bit less romanticism. And I certainly wish I'd paid more attention to the neoconservatives' global political agenda instead of focusing solely on their nefarious attempt to reorient Catholic social teaching, as crucial as that battle was and is.

    All in all, though, our effort was a worthy one, and I believe that Caelum et Terra has stood the test of time.

  • Dan Mitsui vs. Popular Culture - Responding to the release of The Da Vinci Code in American cinema, the blogger of The Lion and the Cardinal makes his case for a general abandonment of popular culture:
    He should not see it.
    He should not see another movie in its place.
    And he should never see another movie again for the rest of his life.
    And he should never watch television again, and he should never listen to popular music again.
    As best he can manage.
    It's really quite simple.
    Gee, you think? -- In part II of the post, Daniel tackles the question of engaging and evangelizing contemporary culture having taken this approach:
    We evangelize it by being a people set apart. By creating art and living lives that reflect the beauty and profundity of our faith. By making visible how much happier we are for having done so. Popular culture can warp minds, but it cannot kill the desire for truth and beauty and meaning inscribed on every human soul. Popular culture ultimately cannot satisfy - Catholicism can, but not only if it is authentic and not an imitation of something base.

    Evangelizing modernism is not like evangelizing paganism. Paganism is at least natural. It is at least sane. It is at least human. You can convert a barbarian, but you cannot convert a vampire. And you certainly cannot convert a vampire by drinking his blood.

    Stop drinking the vampire's blood.

  • Paul Zummo of The Political Spectrum -- "A thoughtful, intelligent, albeit somewhat snarky view of politics, law, and culture" -- offers a 7-Part Series on American Conservatism. (The link goes to the final discussion, on neoconservatism, with links to previous installments.

  • Logic, Natural Law, and Right Reason, a discussion by Jordan J. Ballor on the Acton Powerblog, with contributions by G.K. Chesterton and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

  • “The Eye of the Needle: Economic Lessons from the Parables" was the subject of the 2006 Lord Action Lecture, presented by the Rev. Robert A. Sirico. The Acton Institute has provided the lecture in MP3 format (10 mb mp3 file).

  • Would Adam Smith Approve? National Review's Larry Kudlow takes a look at the convicted Enron crooks Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling and asks the pertinent question: "Of course, we all knew they were crooks before this week’s verdict. But do they represent the moral core of American capitalism?"

  • Thoroughly Modern Mill - "A utilitarian who became a liberal--but never understood the limits of reason." British philosopher Roger Scruton takes a look at the 200th anniversary of the birth of John Stuart Mill, "the greatest exponent of 19th-century liberalism," and offers his usual insightful criticism of the consequences of his philosophy.

    Disagree with him or not, one can but only marvel at the quality of his education:

    "His home-schooling at the hands of his father, the economist and historian James Mill, was a model of rigor, causing him to read and write Greek aged 6, to master Latin aged 9, and to have acquired a thorough grounding in history and mathematics aged 10, when he began work on a history of Roman government. Mill later developed a taste for poetry, acquired a perfect knowledge of French, and, despite his agnostic upbringing, read deeply in the Bible, which he believed to be one of the two Great Books, the other being Homer.

  • Can, and Should, Constitutional Liberalism Survive?, by Maclin Horton Caelum Et Terra May 19, 2006:
    I can probably also assume that we all agree that liberalism in its pure philosophical sense is incompatible with Catholicism, because it (liberalism) is silent, or at least pretty quiet, about fundamental questions: what is life for? how do we know what's wrong and what's right? We can probably also agree that we're watching the collapse of philosophical liberalism into nihilism, because, as Chesterton warned long ago, it was living off the inherited capital of Christianity, which is now pretty much spent.

    The question, then, is whether the political apparatus produced by or at least associated with liberalism--self-government based on the rule of law--can and should survive.

  • Hammer & Tickle: "joke-as-resistance" to Communist nations, by Ben Lewis. Prospect May 2006: "Communism is the only political system to have created its own international brand of comedy. The standard interpretation is that communist jokes were a form of resistance. But they were also a safety valve for the regimes and jokes were told by the rulers as well as the ruled—even Stalin told some good ones."

  • Re-Examining Bonhoeffer "There have been few personalities throughout history who have encapsulated the theological tension within Christianity with reference to pacifism and war like Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer’s dilemma, as he watched his country descend into the horror and depravity of Naziism, speaks in a larger sense to all Christians who wrestle with matters of conscience, war, and civil resistance." Wolf offers his own theological analysis of Bonhoeffer's development from a pacifist (one completely opposed to any Chrisian involvement in politics whatsoever) to a minister in active opposition to National Socialism to the point of involvement in a plot to assassinate Hitler, asking::
    Was this shift informed by a new theological understanding, or “merely” by a visceral carnal reaction to abhorrent government policies? And most important of all, who had the better of the theological question: the early Bonhoeffer (with [David] Lipscomb), or the later?