Defenders of the free market insist that virtue is essential to a just and thriving economy. If morality is relevant to economics, it is equally so to allied fields of social science, all of which have as their object of investigation the human person. Indifference to the moral dimension distorts the study of human action in economics; so too does it deform the discipline that reaches behind that action to the human mind: psychology.
Built on a sound anthropological foundation and guided by an equally sound morality that is clear on the proper goals of human life, the empirical findings and practical techniques of psychology can foster the flourishing of both persons and communities. Unfortunately, as Theodore Dalrymple argues in his most recent book Admirable Evasions: How Psychology Undermines Morality, contemporary psychology has long been not only hostile to traditional morality but also indifferent to and dismissive of the larger context of Western culture within which it arose. As a result contemporary psychology, according to Dalrymple, “is not a key to self-understanding but a cultural barrier to such understanding as we can achieve.”
In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus says,
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
This text is not about poor people generally. It’s about Christians getting the door slammed in their face while sharing the gospel with a neighbor. It’s about the baker/florist/photographer who is being mistreated for bearing faithful witness to Christ. It’s about disciples of Jesus having their heads cut off by Islamic radicals. In other words, it’s about any disciple of Jesus who was ever mistreated in the name of Jesus. This text shows us that Jesus will judge those who show contempt for the gospel by mistreating gospel-bearers.
I’ve been neglected my blog for the past year while I’ve pursued other research and writing projects. Chief among these is a monograph for the Acton Institute on consumerism that’s just come out today on Amazon (The Cure for Consumerism).Here’s the summary that’s on Amazon:
Despite the rapid increase in human flourishing since the onset of the Industrial Revolution, critics of the market economy insist that it leads inevitably to consumerism and other excesses of materialism. Those who make this indictment—including sociologists, political pundits, and religious leaders—also ignore how economic liberty has brought about one of the most remarkable achievements in human history: an 80 percent reduction in world poverty since 1970. The Cure for Consumerism examines popular prescriptions for addressing consumerism that range from simply consuming less to completely overhauling our economic system. In this lively and accessible book, Rev. Gregory Jensen synthesizes insights from the spiritual tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church with modern social science to craft a clear understanding of consumerism, to offer real solutions to the problems, and to put faith and economic freedom to work for both the common good and the kingdom of God.
If you are concerned about social justice, economic issues, or just how to bring you economic life it greater harmony with the Gospel do consider buying it. Thank you!
Charlotte Allen’s editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal writes that if “the Supreme Court rule[s] … that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right” she anticipates “bubonic plague-level hysteria … threats of business boycotts” and even “death and arson threats” like those made against the “Catholic owners [who] told a reporter that, while they would gladly serve gays in their restaurant, they wouldn’t cater a gay wedding” against proponents of traditional marriage. While it is tempting to dismiss this as paranoia during when “Justice Samuel Alito asked Obama administration Solicitor General Donald Verrilli whether a religiously affiliated college that opposed same-sex marriage could lose its tax-exempt status after such a ruling. ‘It is going to be an issue,’ Mr. Verrilli replied.”
Whether or not the culture is lost or whether Christians will face persecution are open questions for me. For what it may be worth to you, I’m not sure that our culture—any culture—isn’t already lost. This isn’t to dismiss culture, far from it. But like any culture, America’s is not monolithic. At best it is a mix of vice and virtue composed as it is by the many often contradictory and disordered loves of the men and women who live here.
Even traditionally minded Christians and other religious believers have surrendered to the attacks on biblical morality that we’ve seen in the last 40 or 50 years. Even among Orthodox Christians the level of support for liberal abortion laws and for changing the definition of marriage are worryingly high. Many of us have simply fail to preach what we practice. Continue reading
Sunday, February 22, 2015: Sunday of Forgiveness (Cheese Fare); Uncovering of the Seven Martyrs’ relics at Gate of Eugenios in Constantinople; Martyr Anthusa and her twelve servants.
St Ignatius Orthodox Church
On the last Sunday before the beginning of the Great and Holy Fast, in parish churches, cathedrals and monasteries chapels, Orthodox Christian formally ask each other for forgiveness. We do this formally in the Rite of Forgiveness: “Forgive me a sinner! God forgives!” Most of the people from who we ask forgiveness today haven’t caused us any real harm. And even in those few cases where offense was given—or taken—the harm is almost always slight given unintentionally and without malice. In the Rite of Forgiveness we have simultaneously two roles to fulfill.
Wednesday, December 24, 2014: Nativity of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ
St. Ignatius Orthodox Church
The Old Testament readings at Vespers take us—quickly—through salvation history. From the first moments of Creation, through the trails of the Jewish People, to the promise of a savior. And throughout this time the coming of a redeemer is always there. Sometimes in the background, other times in the foreground, but the promise of forgiveness and redemption is always there. God will not abandon His People because God cannot betray Himself.
God however doesn’t simply shape the history of the Jewish People.
Again as we see in the Old Testament, not only does God guide His people, He directs the actions of the pagans. No matter how powerful in the eyes of the world, in their own, to God the great and powerful of this life are nothing more than “dust on the scales” (Isaiah 40:15). Even the self-confident and arrogant Roman Empire will play its role in God’s plan of salvation. Even mighty Rome, “in the dispensation of the fullness of the times” will serve God’s plan to “gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth” (Ephesians 1:10, NKJV). Continue reading
Be glad, you just, heavens rejoice, mountains leap for joy; Christ is born and the Virgin sits like the Cherubim throne carrying in her bosom God the Word made flesh. Shepherds glorify the one that is born; Magi offer gifts to the Master; Angels sing praises, saying: Lord beyond understanding, glory to you! (Lauds of Christmas Matins)
To the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of Parish Councils, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Members of Philanthropic Organizations, the Youth and Youth Workers, and the entire Orthodox Christian Family of the United States of America.
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As we gather in our communities to celebrate the Great Feasts of the Nativity and Theophany, we offer praise, honor and worship to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Who has rendered us worthy once again to rejoice with the Shepherds, pay homage with the Magi, and to exclaim with the Angelic Powers, Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill to all!
During this time, each of us looks forward to experiencing our local customs and traditions, which we have received from our ancestors. We adorn our homes and our churches with lights, garland and tinsel; we sing carols together and exchange gifts with each other; and we crown our celebration by receiving the Holy Eucharist. Continue reading