The New Republic has an interesting essay on Pope Benedict’s encyclical Caritas in Veritate. You have to read it quick as TNR’s website only keeps articles available for free on-line for a matter of days.
The author, David Nirenberg, is a professor of history and social thought at the University of Chicago which may explain why his article is so refreshing and so frustrating. On the one hand, he understands that the advent of capitalism and its values represented a “reversal of a millennial moral consensus” and his brief but incisive recapitulation of that consensus includes a happy sentiment from Gratian’s medieval Decretum with which I was unfamiliar. “A merchant can rarely or never please God,” writes Gratian. “And therefore no Christian should be a merchant, and, if he wishes to be one, he should be expelled from the Church.” I wonder what Michael Novak, Robert George and other apologists for Americanism make of that?