The Catholic debate over liberal society

Rod Dreher describes what happened at a conference sponsored by First Things on the future of religion in the public square.  In the course of doing so, he describes a current controversy among conservative Catholics:  The “Murrayites” believe that Catholicism is compatible with American-style political and economic liberalism.  (Not so much liberalism as left-wing ideology, but the ideals of liberty, democracy, and free-enterprise economics.)  Against this view are the “radical Catholics” who believe that this liberalism is incompatible with Christianity.

Read the remarks after the jump and click on the link to Patrick Deneen’s article on the conflict.  Substitute “Christian” for “Catholic.”  Do the points still hold for Christianity in general, or does the debate hinge on specific tenets of Catholicism?  Can there be a “Murrayite” Protestantism vs. a “radical” Protestantism?  Or is Protestantism intrinsically connected to liberalism?  How about “Lutheranism,” or does the doctrine of the Two Kingdoms work for any society?

I’m curious too what the alternative is for the “radicals.”  Some kind of authoritarian regime?  The Pope at the head of an Emperor, as in the Middle Ages?

[Read more...]

A quarter of Americans want to secede

Forty-five percent of Scots wanted to secede from Great Britain, and other secessionist movements are building up steam around the world (the Catalonians in Spain, the Flemish in Belgium, the Kurds in Iraq and Turkey, the Russians in the Ukraine, etc.).  And according to a recent poll, almost a fourth of Americans would like their states to secede from the Union.

The would-be secessionists come from both conservatives and liberals.  I haven’t noticed much nationalistic sentiment directed to one’s state or region, unlike in the Civil War days.  (For one thing, the states and regions have become much more homogenized than they used to be.)  Then again, I don’t notice nearly as much nationalistic sentiment directed to the United States of America anymore, unlike the broadly-felt patriotism of my youth.

Do any of you want to secede from the union?  Could you explain why? [Read more...]

Ebola comes to America

A man in Dallas has  the Ebola virus, the first diagnosed case in the United States.  Do you think this country could handle a plague? [Read more...]

The friendliest and unfriendliest cities

Conde Nast Traveler has conducted a survey to find the friendliest and the unfriendliest cities in the world and in the United States.  See the lists after the jump.  Sound about right?  What does this tell us about the various cultures represented? [Read more...]

The island that time forgot

Back when I was in graduate school, I took a course on American English.  We studied the history and characteristics of the various American dialects, including that of Tangier Island.  This little island in the middle of Chesapeake Bay was settled by English folks from the Cornwall district back in the 1600s.  They and their descendants were so isolated–today it’s an hour-and-a-half boat ride from the mainland–that their language and culture have hardly changed over the centuries.

As a 17th century scholar, I have always wanted to visit Tangier Island.  So we did. [Read more...]

Towards a conservative foreign policy

We have gone from one foreign policy extreme (waging wars to impose democracy on people who don’t want it and who have no cultural or religious foundation for it) to the other (projecting a weakness that has given us Islamic radicals taking over Iraq, Russian aggression in eastern Europe,  Chinese aggression in Asia, a war between Israel and Palestinians, civil war in Syria, and a “new world disorder”).  Is there a happy medium?  What would a truly conservative foreign policy look like?

George Will reviews a new book on that subject that proposes things like “limited government” applied globally, the preservation of local cultures, and “armed diplomacy.” [Read more...]


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