Like all fundamentalist faiths, Chicago School economics is, for its true believers, a closed loop. The starting premise is that the free market is a perfect scientific system, one in which individuals, acting on their own self-interested desires, create the maximum benefits for all. It follows ineluctably that if something is wrong within a free market economy – high inflation or soaring unemployment – it has to be because the market is not truly free. There must be some interference, some distortion in the system. The Chicago solution is always the same: a stricter and more complete application of the fundamentals.
Several years ago I read Fr. Sergei Bulgakov’s claim that Marxism is not social science but a kind of religion. Recently I realized his argument could also be applied to the laissez-faire capitalism promoted by “market liberalism” (which is basically libertarianism). Beginning with Bulgakov, here are a few reasons why I think market liberalism is a religious movement. Continue reading →
I received a call the other day, inviting me to participate in a panel on public theology in March. I said I would think about it. There was a time, not too long ago, when I would have said a resounding “Yes!” to that opportunity. But the past few months made me keenly aware of my tendency to overcommit. I still have several projects on my plate before I can really move on to other things. I have an essay on Bulgakov and Edwards, a review of McGuckin, possibly a proposal for the Sophia conference, and two courses to design. I am committed to my life as an academic theologian and a public theologian. Blogging reminds me who I am writing for. Essays help keep my work from getting “fluffy.” The trick is balancing my two roles. Here is my plan. Continue reading →
This morning I read a quotation from my well worn copy of The Orthodox Church by Fr. Sergius Bulgakov, and I wanted to share it with you. Writing “by the rivers of Babylon,” so to speak, exiled from Soviet Russia and tending to the Orthodox Christians in Paris, Bulgakov writes about the way church and state have related in the past and they way they should relate in the future.
The Church’s methods of influence change; the work is no longer done outside, from above, but from within, from below, from the people and by the people. The representation of the people by the Christian sovereign, in force at the time of the Orthodox Empire, no longer exists; the laity participate in the life of the Church, without any intermediary, so that the Church influences the state in a democratic way. But it is a democracy of souls. New dangers, new difficulties arise in this way, analogous to those which existed at the time of the alliance between Church and state. The Church m ay be led to interfere in party politics; the latter, in its turn, may divert the Church from its true path. But an essential advantage remains; the Church exercises its influence on souls by the way of liberty, which alone corresponds to Christian dignity, not by that of constraint. Constraint leads more quickly to certain results, but it carries with it its own punishment. Contemporary history in both East and West proves this. Continue reading →
The following is a review of Gayle E. Woloschak’s article, “The Compatibility of the Principles of Biological Evolution with Eastern Orthodoxy,” published in St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly, 55.2 (2011).
I added Gayle Woloschak’s article on evolution and Orthodoxy to my reading list for a couple of reasons. For one, it goes to my interest in the culture wars and the ideas that fund them. It also bears upon my role as a recovering-evangelical convert to the Orthodox Church and the way I evaluate the impact people like me have on Orthodoxy at large.
Woloschak’s basic argument is that denying evolution is theologically problematic for an Orthodox Christian.Continue reading →