Artur Rosman invited me to write something on integralism for Church Life Journal, and so it went up today under the title “What Is Integralism Today?“— a reference to Balthasar’s “Integralismus heute“. Here is a snip:
All political agents, whether they admit it or not, imply some definite conception of the good for man in their action. As Leo Strauss used to tell his students, all political action is concerned with change or preservation. When it is concerned with change it is concerned with change for the better. When it is concerned with preservation it is concerned with preventing change for the worse. But the concepts of better and worse imply a concept of the good. Therefore, all political action is concerned with the good. The Weberian account of separate spheres of social activity, each acting according to its own inherent rationality, conceals more than it reveals of modern social life. There is not and cannot be a neutral “political rationality” that reduces politics to a technique of achieving certain penultimate objectives. For, such penultimate objectives can only become objectives pursued by human beings when they are ordered to an (implicit) ultimate objective. And if the ultimate objective is not the true end of man, the City of God, then it will be a false end, the diabolical city.
Read the rest at Church Life Journal.
In the latest issue of Studies in Christian Ethics, I review of Marcia Pally’s book Commonwealth and Covenant: Economics, Politics, and Theologies of Relationality. The review can be read online at Sage Journals. It’s free at the moment, but will probably be behind a pay-wall later. Some excerpts from the review follow below. Continue reading
Over at The Josias I have a new piece on the distinction between radical (or hard) liberalism and moderate liberalism, and to what extent the American Founders can be called liberals. The header image, incidentally, is by N.C. Wyeth and depicts the Lord Advocate Prestongrange from R.L. Stevenson’s David Balfour.
Over at the bloggingheads spinoff meaningoflife.tv I have a conversation with Aryeh Cohen-Wade, in which we discuss the Mortara case, debates about liberalism and integralism among Catholics, and finally the monastic life. The conversation was enjoyable, though I was a bit groggy from flu and flu medications.
We discussed an interesting essay by Nathan Shields at the Jewish magazine Mosaic, liberal propaganda about the wars of religion, and Gelasian Dyarchy (I’m afraid I forgot to mention The Josias, the integralist website for which I have written a number of pieces), and then a little about the monastic life and the practice of lectio divina.
In a brilliant essay on the Social Kingship of Christ, Peter Kwasniewski discusses the effect that the organization of temporal political life has on the way in which the doctrine is received. He writes of,
the Catholic vision of society as a hierarchy in which lower is subordinated to higher, with the private sphere and the public sphere united in their acknowledgment of the rights of God and of His Church.
And he writes of how this vision is undermined by the modern, horizontal, secular conception of politics. He argues, quite rightly to my mind, that royal government has a peculiar suitability to communicating a hierarchical vision of social order, and the majesty of temporal kings is help in understanding Christ the King.
My favorite Catholic republican, Aelianus of Laodicea, has responded with a sharp attack on Prof. Kwasniewski’s piece. Aelianus points out that the question of the political recognition of the Social Kingship of Christ, is separate from the question of the best form of government. The Church has always been content to allow various forms of political rule— monarchical, aristocratic, democratic, or mixed— as long as they are “integralist” in the sense of recognizing the superiority of the spiritual power. Aelianus as is right as far as the argument goes. But he does not thereby disprove Kwasniewski’s point. Kwasniewski was not arguing that the Social Kingship of Christ demands a Christian monarchy as the form of temporal power, but rather that such a monarchy “lends itself most readily to collaboration and cooperation with the Church.” And this seems to be primarily because of the “image of sacred majesty” that it presents to the minds and hearts of its subjects. This image calls to mind the “wonderful resemblances” that according to Pope Leo XIII’s teaching in Diuturnum illud, are to be found in the different levels of authority that are all derived from the authority of the one God.
The Josias has started a podcast, in which I and two other Josias writers talk about ethics and politics and Catholic social teaching. In the first episode we discuss the common good— what it is, what it isn’t. The conversation touches on many things including the relation of practical and speculative virtue, Alexander the Great’s complaining of Aristotle’s publishing decisions, and an esoterically anti-Nazi book published by a German professor under the nose of the National Socialist censors.
The cover story of this week’s Catholic Herald is something that I wrote on Angela Merkel and Pope Francis (but more the former). I briefly refer to the influence of Jacques Maritain on post-war, European, Christian democracy. For a fuller account of the shift in Catholic politics that Maritain and others helped bring about I recommend a paper by Tom Pink, and Alan Fimister’s book.
I also have a book-review in the current issue of First Things of A.W. Jones’s brilliant Before Church and State. I mean to write more on Jones in future— right now I am working on something on his interpretation of St. Thomas’s account of law in the Summa.
Over at The Josias, we have just posted a thought-provoking essay on Leo XIII policy of ralliement and its implications for our situation today by Felix de St. Vincent. Yesterday, Patrick Smith had posted a reflection on the same topic at Semiduplex, with some interesting quotes from Leo XIII’s letter Notre consolation, in which Pope Leo defended the policy against its critics. (Notre consolation has yet to be translated into English; we hope to offer a translation at The Josias soon). On Wednesday I had myself offered a reflection on ralliement in the form of an introduction to Pope Benedict XV’s letter Celeberrima evenisse. Continue reading