Some of my friends are put off by the title of Samuel Gregg’s recently published book. I’m sympathetic with their discomfort but I do wish that they had actually read the book and not just complained about the title. For that matter, I wish that if they weren’t going to read the whole book they at least read the whole title.
Oh, I’ve not told you the title yet have I? Let’s remedy this.
The first thing that you might want to know is that while Gregg is aware (and I think sympathetic) to the “Tea Party” movement that has emerged in recent years, this is not fundamentally his focus. “Tea Party Catholic” refers to the “sole Roman Catholic signatory” of the American Declaration of Independence, Charles Carroll of Carrollton Maryland. In Carroll Gregg finds a man who embodies the distinctively Catholic case for the importance of a limited government and a free economy to human flourishing. Make no mistake, Gregg is not a libertarian or an anarchist arguing for limited government and a free economy as ends in themselves. Rather he sees such limits as serving a more transcendent goal: human flourishing. Or, as Pope Benedict XVI writes in his 2009 encyclical Caritas in Veritate, “integral human development.”
There’s a great deal I can say about the content of Gregg’s argument but let me limit myself to two main points that I think are especially applicable to the situation of the Orthodox Church both here in the US and overseas.