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March 2020 Archives

March 8, 2020

The Roots of Our Partisan Divide

Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College.

American society today is divided by party and by ideology in a way it has perhaps not been since the Civil War. I have just published a book that, among other things, suggests why this is. It is called The Age of Entitlement: America Since the Sixties. It runs from the assassination of John F. Kennedy to the election of Donald J. Trump. You can get a good idea of the drift of the narrative from its chapter titles: 1963, Race, Sex, War, Debt, Diversity, Winners, and Losers.

I can end part of the suspense right now—Democrats are the winners. Their party won the 1960s—they gained money, power, and prestige. The GOP is the party of the people who lost those things.

So starts one of the best articles I have seen so far on the divisions in America since the 60's, an article by Christopher Caldwell, a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute. It's remarkable for quite a number of things, particularly the vision necessary in identifying the divisions and their causes. The article appears as the banner article (for now) on the Imprimis site by Hillsdale College.

The central point of the article is introduced by this:

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March 29, 2020

Money in the Garden of Eden?

One of the perennial questions – though considered somewhat lightweight – is whether, had there never been sin in the world, would money have come into existence as part of the world of commerce? I admit that it may seem of small moment, given that sin DID occur, and that for several thousand years now we have seen money as not only an item of temptation but even in some sense a core facet of the sin of greed. Yet I think that answering this question helps put economic principles into a clearer light, and for this reason it is not wholly trivial.

I will be working with the Catholic understanding of the state Adam and Even enjoyed in the Garden of Eden, which may have a few small differences from how most other Christians view the matter. In that understanding, Adam and Even enjoyed what we call “original justice”, which entails a special set of gifts over and above the basic and all-important one of sanctifying grace (which is the indwelling of God Himself in the soul as its enlivening principle of spiritual life). The most important gifts in original justice show up in the fact that with their human wills being conformed perfectly to love of God through grace, so also their other faculties – including the appetible faculties and emotions – were subject to reason and will so that they were obediential rather than disruptive: they would feel hunger when and to the extent it was reasonable to feel hunger. One consequence is the immortality they were endowed with: with the body subject to the will, and the will corresponding to God, they were not subject to illness or death. This freedom from illness was (so far as I understand the teaching) extended to the external world as also freedom from intrusive events that would have been gravely troublesome, such as fatal earthquakes, floods, fires, etc.

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