Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Liberal Anglicanism Emerges: Religion, Politics, and the Academy (Trollope's View in "Barchester Towers")
Here's an interesting description by the great novelist, Anthony Trollope, of the changing profile of the Anglican churchman (by name, in this case, Dr. Proudie) in chapter III of his wonderful novel, "Barchester Towers," the second of The Barsetshire Novels--and in specific the causes and effects of Anglican liberalization in early nineteenth-century England (when parallel, though not of course identical, liberalizations were occurring to Anglicanism in the United States--see, e.g., Virginia). I found especially interesting the admixture of religion, politics, and academics in the creation of this liberal Anglicanism:
Some few years since, even within the memory of many who are not yet willing to call themselves old, a liberal clergyman was a person not frequently to be met. Sydney Smith was such, and was looked on as little better than an infidel; a few others also might be named, but they were 'rarae aves,' and were regarded with doubt and distrust by their brethren. No man was so surely a tory as a country rector--nowhere were the powers that be so cherished as at Oxford.
When, however, Dr. Watley [MOD: the Irish social reformer] was made an archbishop, and Dr. Hampden some years after regius professor [MOD: Renn Hampden, who famously squabbled with John Henry Newman, and eventually became the Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford], many wise divines saw that a change was taking place in men's minds, and that more liberal ideas would henceforward be suitable to the priests as well as to the laity. Clergymen would be heard of who ceased to anathematise papists on the one hand, or vilify dissenters on the other. It appeared clear that high church principles, as they were called, were no longer to be surest claims to promotion with at any rate one section of statesmen, and Dr. Proudie was one among those who early in life adapted himself to the views held by the whigs on most theological and religious subjects. He bore with the idolatry of Rome, tolerated even the infidelity of Socinianism, and was hand and glove with the Presbyterian synods of Scotland and Ulster.
Such a man at such time was found to be useful, and Dr. Proudie's name began to appear in the newspapers. He was made one of a commission who went over to Ireland to arrange matters preparative to the working of the national board; he became honorary secretary to another commission nominated to inquire into the revenues of cathedral chapters; and had something to do with both the regium donum and the Maynooth grant.
It must not on this account be taken as proved that Dr. Proudie was a man of great mental powers, or even of much capacity for business, for such qualities had not been required in him. In the arrangement of those church reforms with which he was connected, the ideas and original conception of the work to be done were generally furnished by the liberal statesmen of the day, and the labor of the details was borne by officials of lower rank. It was, however, thought expedient that the name of some clergyman should appear in such matters, and as Dr. Proudie had become known as a tolerating divine, great use of this sort was made of his name. If he did not do much active good, he never did any harm; he was amenable to those who were really in authority, and at the sittings of the various boards to which he belonged maintained a kind of dignity which had its value.
Monday, November 14, 2016
Sunday, November 13, 2016
That's the title of a symposium this Tuesday, November 15, organized by the Religious Freedom Project (RFP) of the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University. A number of social scientists will present their work on the relation of religious freedom to the domestic and international common good. As a legal scholar, I will join the opening panel and present some suggestions on how these findings might relate to legal doctrine, and how doctrinal questions in turn might suggest further research emphases.
Here's a bit of the symposium description:
Our symposium will explore the following: To what extent is religious liberty critical for human flourishing? When and how does it contribute to economic prosperity, democratization, and peace? What challenges face religious communities living under repressive governments or hostile social forces? How is the persecution of religion related to other infringements of basic human rights? What is the relationship between religious freedom and violent religious extremism, and is there a role for religious freedom in efforts to undermine radicalization and counter violent religious extremism and terrorism over the long term?
Any readers who are inside or near the Beltway--this should be a really interesting and enlightening day of presentations.
Friday, November 11, 2016
Assisted suicide adopted in Colorado; Blaine Amendment survives in Oklahoma; the Death Penalty reinstated in Nebraska
Assisted suicide -- or, the euphemism "dignity in dying" -- was embraced overwhelmingly in Colorado. The anti-Catholic (and, in any event, foolish) Blaine Amendment was retained in Oklahoma; and Nebraska brought back capital punishment (after it had been abolished in the way, in my view, it should be, i.e., legislatively and not judicially).
"Higher education is isolated, insular, and liberal. Average voters aren't", writes Charlie Camosy in the Washington Post. He also points out the problems with the "angry, misogynistic white men did this" accounts. I'm inclined to agree with this (intemperately worded, in places) piece, also, which highlights the role that frustration-with-being-the-objects-of-smug-contempt probably played.
Clearly, like pretty much everyone, I read the situation incorrectly and so, like pretty much everyone (in, as Charlie reminds me, my bubble), am surprised by the results. I continue to have the views about both Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton that I expressed a few months ago, here. Still, I'm hoping and praying for the best.
Wednesday, November 9, 2016
A couple of days before the election, The Gospel Coalition, a leading evangelical website, did a story comparing the prospects for religious liberty under Clinton and Trump. I was interviewed, and I emphasized the likely "direct" religious-liberty threats to conservative religions that a Clinton administration would have posed; then I referred to problems posed by Trump. Those included direct threats to Muslims, but also this "indirect" problem even for white evangelicals' religious liberty, that is, in the long-term:
“Part of the answer has to be that evangelicals act in a way that maintains the kind of moral credibility that allows you to witness for religious freedom,” Berg said. “It’s going to be very interesting to see how the next generation proceeds and how they renew the witness. It certainly needs to be renewed, given how many evangelical leaders have seemed willing to minimize Trump's character problems just because he claims he'll protect religious liberty.”
Despite their efforts to distinguish Trump's many bad words and deeds from his stated policy positions on issues like religious freedom, many white evangelicals have risked their moral credibility by effectively minimizing his narcissism, crudity and meanness, and ethnic and sexual chauvinism. And in an increasingly hostile society long-term, conservative evangelicals will need moral credibility to strengthen their claims for religious freedom.
Now those who've endorsed him are effectively tied to his statements not just for a few months' campaign, but for a four-year term in office. And the stakes are high, especially for the future of evangelicalism. White evangelicals went for Trump 81 to 16 percent (up somewhat from the numbers for Romney and McCain, who were quite different candidates in moral character). Meanwhile, young voters--millennials--went disproportionately (54 percent) for Clinton (as they had, even more so, for Obama). Millennials are already more non-religious than previous generations; the association of evangelicals with Trump threatens to intensify that.
Let me be clear: I understand the reasons for evangelicals to oppose Clinton, even support Trump, because of concerns about abortion and religious liberty. But what is absolutely plain is that evangelical leaders (institutional, media, etc.) must hold him accountable, on an ongoing basis, for his behavior in office. They must criticize him vigorously for any statements or policies attacking minorities, or women, or individuals with whom he gets in a spat. If they do not give him such dogged scrutiny and criticism, their credibility will steadily erode over the next four years--with awful results for their evangelistic task and, ultimately, for their ability to argue for freedom to serve others through their religious organizations.
Tuesday, November 8, 2016
According to Sallust, on this date in 63 BC, Cicero delivered his first oration to the Senate against Lucius Sergius Catilina (Catiline), the corrupt Roman politician who was up for election and who, in Cicero's view, was in large measure responsible for the degradation and ultimate destruction of the republic.
...iam intelleges multo me vigilare acrius ad salutem quam te ad perniciem rei publicae
It seems somehow fitting that this Election Day falls on the birthday of Dorothy Day (1897). I usually include a unit on Day when I teach courses on Catholic social thought because she is wonderfully disruptive of our usual categories. And so here are some quotes for today from this remarkable woman on matters broadly political (Day, of course, was essentially an anarchist when it came to what we would count as "politics"):
From "Our Fall Appeal," The Catholic Worker, November 1955:
In the light of our present difficulties it is necessary to restate our position and tell our readers again just what it is we are trying to do–what it means to us to perform the works of mercy, spiritual and corporal. The most important thing in the world to us is to grow in the love of God, to try to do His will. Our Lord Jesus told us that what we do to the least, we do to Him. St. Paul told us we are “members one of another, and that when the health of one member suffers, the health of the whole body is lowered.”
We believe not only in St. Thomas’ doctrine of the common good, but feel it can be affected only if each one of us alone realizes his personal responsibility to his brother, that his love for God must be shown in his love for his brother, and that love must be expressed in the works of mercy, practiced personally, at a personal sacrifice. So we live together, here at the Catholic Worker, pool resources of money and abilities, and so are able to take care of far more than just ourselves.
People have so far lost that sense of personal responsibility that our country is becoming a country of institutions and a gigantic part of our income goes to support them. State responsibility has come to take the place of personal responsibility.
That love of brother, that care for his freedom is what causes us to go into such controversial subjects as man and the state, war and peace. The implications of the gospel teaching of the works of mercy, lead us into conflict with the powers of this world. Our love of God is a consuming fire. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. It is a living God and a living faith that we are trying to express. We are called to be holy, that is, whole men, in this life of ours.
From Loaves and Fishes (1963), p. 210:
One of the greatest evils of the day among those outside the proximity of the suffering poor is their sense of futility. Young people say, 'What good can one person do? What is the sense of our small effort?' They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time; we can be responsible only for the action of the present moment but we can beg for an increase of love in our hearts that will vitalize and transform all our individual actions, and know that God will take them and multiply them, as Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes.
The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us? When we begin to take the lowest place, to wash the feet of others, to love our brothers with that burning love, that passion, which led to the cross, then we can truly say, 'Now I have begun.'"
From "For the New Reader," The Catholic Worker, December 1936:
THE CATHOLIC WORKER is strongly anti-Fascist because Fascism denies that man has a higher obligation than his obligation to the State, because Fascism believes that man is made for the State and denies that the State is made for man, because, although it believes and acts on these principles, as is apparent in Italy and Germany, it pretends to recognize religious, political, and economic rights, and is therefore more dangerous in many ways than the open enmity of Communism.
THE CATHOLIC WORKER is insistently anti-Communist, in spite of all you may have heard to the contrary, because Communism claims that “man lives by bread alone”; deifies comfort; denies religious, political, and economic freedom, though not as frankly as it did once; has replaced the capitalist and aristocrat with the Communist Party, but still enslaves and exploits the peasant and the proletariat; is, in short, no better than State Capitalism.
THE CATHOLIC WORKER is for Christian communism, as practiced in Catholic monasteries and by the early Christians, as an economy of perfection, possible only on a voluntary basis.
THE CATHOLIC WORKER is anti-capitalist, in the sense that it condemns the spirit of greed, of rampant materialism, that has become synonymous with that system and has led to the present abuses in production and distribution.
THE CATHOLIC WORKER is not opposed to private property, but on the contrary works for “the restoration of property” through co-operatives, credit unions, and the back-to-the-land movement. It supports private ownership of the means of production, except where such ownership is incompatible with the common good, as in certain public utilities, but opposes the concentration of productive power in the hands of a few, because that concentration has almost always been destructive of the common good.
THE CATHOLIC WORKER is not opposed to “saving for a rainy day” and for the support of one’s dependents, but is more interested in giving, not only because it is the duty of Christians to give their surplus to the poor, but also because it is good economics to distribute idle money among those who will spend it.
THE CATHOLIC WORKER does not condemn any and all war, but believes the conditions necessary for a “just war” will not be fulfilled today.
THE CATHOLIC WORKER admits the importance of political action, but is much more interested in the importance of private action, in the creation of order out of chaos.
THE CATHOLIC WORKER admits the importance of public responsibility for the poor and needy, but is much more interested in the importance of personal responsibility for the hungry, thirsty, naked, homeless, sick, criminal, afflicted, and ignorant.