This is funny.
A concerned reader asked if I was not being too harsh yesterday when I said that Michael Novak’s book “Toward a Theology of the Corporation” was “agitprop.”
I submit the following excerpt from that work. You be the judge.
“For many years, one of my favorite texts in Scripture has been Isaiah 53:2-3: ‘He hath no form or comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; he was despised and we esteemed him not.’ I would like to apply these words to the modern business corporation, a much despised incarnation of God’s presence in this world.”
Q.E.D. Such near-blasphemy may get one a corner office at the American Enterprise Institute, but if that is not agitprop, I don’t know what is.
When you find two of your friends in the midst of an argument, it makes sense to walk in the other direction. But the issue of the Tea Party’s significance, currently being debated by E. J. Dionne and Peter Berkowitz is so central to our understanding of this election, that the debate between the two warrants a closer look and I can’t resist the temptation to jump in.
In case you have not been following the back and forth, Berkowitz, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and all-around great guy, wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal in which he explained why liberals “don’t get” the Tea Party. Amongst other culprits, Berkowitz cited the current higher educational system which is, he contends, light on the Federalist Papers and heavy on liberal “big government” approaches. Berkowitz argued that a commitment to limited government has a noble tradition, as indeed it does, and that the Tea Party is essentially the latest iteration of this limited government tradition.
Sometimes, I wonder what planet Michael Novak is living on. Over at InsideCatholic they have an interview with him in which he discusses his 1981 book "Toward a Theology of the Corporation." If there is a piece of conservative religious agitprop more obnoxious than that book, I don't know it.
It is a measure of Novak's lack of understanding of and appreciation for Catholic antropology that he uses a phrase, sometimes used by those on the left as well, that I always find chilling: "human capital."
You will note that "capital" not "human" is the noun there, which tells you all you need to know about why Novak's efforts to baptize contemporary capitalism are mere idolatry.
According to the Daily Progress, President Obama will go to Charlottesville Friday to campaign for Cong. Tom Perriello at the University of Virginia.
Perriello is in a tough fight and a visit from Obama cuts both ways. It may help motivate young voters to turnout next Tuesday but it may also motivate GOP-leaning Independents to do the same. Perriello must have made the calculation that with GOP already fired up, motivating his base was the best way to punch back.
The decision to dispatch the President also shows something the public polls do not: This race must be close enough that the strategists at the White House think they can win it.
We continue the discussion about the distinctiveness of Catholic charitable work with a commentary from Fr. Andrew Small, who is the Director of the Committee for the Church in Latin America at the USCCB.
Small looks at the issue of Catholic identity, which is so integral to the new report issued this morning by the USCCB regarding the work of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.
The question: What is distinctive about Catholic charitable work?
Fr. Small: Without action, nothing changes. But without identity, the action is not Catholic, regardless of who performs it.
How do activity and identity combine to express the virtue of Christian charity? When the external change of activity carries with it the internal change of religious conversion.
In case you missed it on the homepage, my analysis of the USCCB's report on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development is now up. You can read it here.
Two statements on the upcoming midterm elections, one from the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, and one from Communion and Liberation, exhibit a welcome nuance in their estimation of the good achievable by participation in the electoral process.
I defy anyone to read either statement and conclude, "Aha! I must vote for this party!"
Instead, both statements do something really wonderful and essential: they invite voters to serious reflection of the choices they face, unlike so many political ads that merely try and excite the basest of human emotions.
The statements focus the Church's social and moral teachings on the issues of the day, and remind Catholics of the fact that our tradition is far different from the rampant individualism that characterizes so much of contemporary political wrangling.
The statements inform the consciences of Catholics, they do not dictate the consciences of Catholics. Finally, neither statement has any foolishness about Canon 915, denying communion to politicians.
In case you missed it, here is the latest installment in an on-going discussion between the New Yorker's Rick Hertzberg and the Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan on the differences between liberals and conservatives. There are links to the previous back-and-forths in the post. Apart from the inherent fascination of the issues engaged, the prose is really superlative.
With the release of a report from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on “The Review and Renewal of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development,” an immediate question emerges: Will this exhaustive and thorough report satisfy CCHD’s critics?
The answer is likely to be a mixed one.