Thursday, January 19, 2012
That's the topic of this very interesting post over at Adrienne's Corner. As Adrienne points out, in the real world of small business, the characteristics of many homeschoolers is precisely what business people look for in employees. I would also add that the kind of self-motivated and self-started learning style that successful homeschooling develops in young people helps a lot when it comes to starting and running any kind of venture -- be it in business, a profession, or higher education. Homeschooling -- something to be encouraged!
A comparison of our national budget in 1797-98 compared with the current federal budget is provided courtesy of the New York Times. Well worth a read. While a lot has changed, one thing hasn't: debt by the federal government was then and is now a big problem. Of course, back in the day we were fortunate to have men like Alexander Hamilton around to help manage the debt and ensure it wasn't a threat to the stability of the Republic. Today? Not so much...
Saturday, January 14, 2012
Upon this law depend the natural rights of mankind: the Supreme Being gave existence to man, together with the means of preserving and beautifying that existence. He endowed him with rational faculties, by the help of which to discern the pursue such things as we consistent with his duty and interest; and invested him with an violable right to personal liberty and personal safety.- Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804), The Farmer Refuted (1775).
Monday, January 9, 2012
According to Pope Leo XIII, teaching authoritatively in his encyclical letter Diuturnum (On Civil Government), the answer appears to be: no.
Although man, when excited by a certain arrogance and contumacy, has often striven to cast aside the reins of authority, yet never has he been able to arrive at the state of obeying no one. In every association and community of men necessity itself compels that some should hold pre-eminence; lest society, deprived of a prince or head, by which it is ruled, should come to dissolution and be prevented from attaining the end for which it was created and instituted.According to Catholic social teaching, the state has a positive, beneficial and necessary role to play in human society. It is a good thing -- and insofar as the ideology of libertarianism denials this fundamental truth, it is in conflict with the social teaching of the Catholic Church, a social teaching with flows from the Gospel itself.
Samuel Gregg of the Acton Institute provides one over at National Review's blog The Corner. Well worth a read, as is one of the best short books on political theory out there, Gregg's little treatise On Ordered Liberty, which inspired one of this blog's previous names.
I am inviolably attached to the essential rights of mankind, and the true interests of society. I consider liberty in a genuine unadulterated sense, as the greatest of terrestrial blessings. I am convinced that the whole human race is entitled to it, and that it can be wrested from no part of them, without the blackest and most aggravated guilt.- Alexander Hamilton, quoted in In God We Trust: the Religious Beliefs and Ideas of the American Founding Fathers, edited by Norman Cousins (Harper & Bros.: 1958), pg. 326.
Are explained in this essay by Lee Cheek discussing Allen Tate, posted over at The Imaginative Conservative: Agrarianism and Cultural Renewal. Here's a bit to inspire you to head over and read the whole thing:
Even though the Agrarians were an assortment of representatives with many theoretical and geographical differences, they were united by an unwillingness to accept consolidationist measures, regardless of the form, and insistent upon protecting a decentralized, group-oriented society, as defined in a variety of ways. But the Agrarians cannot be adequately fathomed by simply noting their negative response to particular issues; on the contrary, the Agrarians were part of a clear republican understanding of the nature of the American regime and religious experience.
For Tate and his fellow Agrarians the overwhelming practical and theoretical inheritance was established upon an appreciation of the necessary limitations of social and political life. Primary among the means of limitation was the need for societal and personal restraint when faced with the possibility of radical transformation. While change and social mobility were not the most commonly acknowledged aspects of Southern society, neither were such considerations beyond the pale of possibility. As articulate representatives of agrarian republicanism during the 20th century, Tate could present an Aristotelian mean as the basis for installing an element of restraint in the operation of government. If government could not be restricted and faith encouraged, the regime would necessarily lose a sense of liberty.
The study of history is a powerful antidote to contemporary arrogance. It is humbling to discover how many of our glib assumptions, which seem to us novel and plausible, have been tested before, not once but many times and in innumerable guises; and discovered to be, at great human cost, wholly false.- Paul Johnson, The Quotable Paul Johnson: A Topical Compilation of His Wit, Wisdom and Satire, edited by George J. Marlin, et al (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1994), p. 138.
Thursday, January 5, 2012
George Washington on civic affairs, revelation, and the need to imitate the "Divine Author of our blessed religion"
A good example of Washington's use of language in this regard can been seen in one of his more significant public pronouncements, the Circular Letter to the Governors of All the States regarding the disbanding of the Continental Army in 1783. In that letter, Washington seeks to reinforce the stability of the early American Republic as the Continentals returned home after winning independence. In his letter, Washington makes two particularly important points regarding the role of religion in civil life. The first is that for a variety of reasons, including divine "Revelation," human society is improving. As Washington writes:
The free cultivation of letters, the unbounded extension of commerce, the progressive refinement of manners, the growing liberality of sentiment, and, above all, the pure and benign light of Revelation, have a meliorating influence on mankind, and increased the blessings of society.
Note that Washington, while listing many human accomplishments in this process of improvement, he attaches priority to "the pure and benign light of Revelation." It was divine Revelation, in Washington's statement, that was most to account for the progressive improvement in human society. Not a dry and cramped secularism or a humanism operating in a universe where God is simply an inattentive watchmaker, but Revelation proceeding from an active God who was communicating with human beings, moving them constantly forward toward a better future. Washington argues that because of these many advantages -- both human and revelatory -- the happiness of the citizens of the United States as "a Nation" (and Washington uses both the singular indefinite article and a capital "N") is for the taking. If happiness and freedom do not result, "the fault with be entirely" our own.
Second, Washington further reinforces the importance of God's action in human events by commending the state governors and their respective states to divine care. "I now make it my earnest prayer," he writes, "that God would have you and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection[.]" Washington then states that he hopes that God would move the citizens of the country to "cultivate" a host of proper civic virtues: obedience to governmental authorities, fellow-feeling for each other -- both fellow citizens and particularly for the returning veterans of the Continental Army -- and, most interesting, to emulate those virtues "which werethe characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion[.]" (Italics in the original.) After including a brief and common list of those virtues, Washington states that without "an humble imitation" of the example of the Divine Author, "we can never hope to be a happy nation."
What one sees in Washington's Circular Letter is language used that is non-confessionally specific, but which takes for granted certain key religious ideas: 1) God is active in human affairs, moving human beings towards greater goodness and social solidarity; 2) because of the advantages they benefit from, the citizens of the United States are responsible for their freedom and happiness; and 3) human beings are called to imitate the attributes of God as He has revealed them.
While Washington's Circular Letter is not a fully developed treatise in civic theology, it does manifest the key points of Washington's own views about the role of religion in human society. And Washington's vision in that regard was one that viewed religion as a positive force in human life and civic affairs. It is not, to say the least, a vision of civic life that is hostile to religious faith. While couched in language that is not expressly orthodox, it is couched in language that is certainly amenable to orthodox interpretation. Far from religion ruining everything, to borrow a phrase from the late Christopher Hitchens, to the Washington writing the Circular Letter, religious faith stands as the well-spring for civic virtue and human happiness.
[Cross-posted at American Creation.]