Category Archives: Œconomics

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Self-Determination through Guilds

bakers’ guild

William Morris on the power of mediæval guilds, in ‘A Summary of the Principles of Socialism’:

‘The trade guilds which in the first instance were thoroughly democratic in their constitution, protected the craftsmen against unregulated competition, or from the attempt to oppress them in any way. Moreover, as it was easy then for a labourer to obtain a patch of land, and to remove himself wholly or in part from the wage-earners, so a journeyman apprentice starting in life as a mere worker could and generally did attain to the dignity of a master craftsman in mature age. The amount of capital to be amassed ere a man could work for himself was so small that no serious barrier was placed between the journeyman and independence; besides, the arrangements of the guilds were such that wherever a craftsmen wandered he was received as a brother of his particular craft. Although also the rest of Europe was behind England in the settlement of the people on the soil, the craft-guilds were even more important in the Low Countries and part of Germany in the Middle Ages than in England. Thus it should appear that in the record of the feudal development the period reached in each country when the peasant was a free man working for himself upon the land, and the craftsman was likewise a free man master of his own means of production represents the time of greatest individual prosperity for the people.’

From Distributism to Better Things

What took me away from distributism: too much wishful thinking and nothing significant about actually using force to protect national sovereignty. Concretely, there is overlap between distributism and national syndicalism, but the former seems to suit ultimately bourgeois fantasists who have little concern for geopolitical reality. The latter actually aims to defeat international capitalism and strengthen the place of the nation. Some will reckon that a weakness; I consider it a strength. There are alternatives to the usury-owned bourgeois managerial state, but I think distributism is not it. What force it lacks, national syndicalism has. So forgive me for not being a hobbit.

Natural Beef

cattle-pasture-ozarks

By Julie A. Brown (CC BY 2.0).

I once saw a specimen of beef in Wegman’s, so fine that I could not help drawing my parents’ attention to it, that they too might appreciate the beauty by which naturally raised beef is distinguished: the meat’s deeper red and the fat’s orange tinge, but especially the fat’s delicate fractal interlacing with the muscle. When we consider the necessity of food for the human race’s large population, and for its various populations considered severally, I hope we can treat with dignity what is often a short and miserable life.

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Mere Wage Increases Alienate the Worker

cog

Karl Marx, in ‘Wages of Labour’, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, against the notion that a mere increase in wages is adequate or even ultimately useful to the worker:

‘The raising of wages excites in the worker the capitalist’s mania to get rich, which he, however, can only satisfy by the sacrifice of his mind and body. The raising of wages presupposes and entails the accumulation of capital, and thus sets the product of labour against the worker as something ever more alien to him. Similarly, the division of labour [which is increased by the accumulation of capital] renders him ever more one-sided and dependent, bringing with it the competition not only of men but also of machines. Since the worker has sunk to the level of a machine, he can be confronted by the machine as a competitor.’

Raising the worker’s wages has not given him greater power over his own work; instead, because of the other things a wage increase involves, it has only further alienated the worker from his work and its product. Thus, Marx says, Proudhon is wrong to regard æquality of wages as the goal of social revolution; instead, he goes on to say, the workers need to seize the means of production for themselves in order to take back their own work.

Offences’ Debts

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Will God’s forgiveness free me now
From bondage unto man?
Are all my debts to man absolved
According to the plan?

I know his Spirit gives me pow’r,
Upon Christ’s perfect merits,
Without the law to plead his grace;
For whom he loves, inherits.

But what inheritance is worth
Enough my dues to pay?
For if I shun my duties now,
My hope will not appear:

If by my works I see my faith,
Which only justifies,
Then all assurance I dream up
Is nothing but cruel lies.

Could Newton make it up
To those he’d taken slaves?
No, he could only hope in God,
His final judge who saves.

No tears, no groans, no paltry works
Can heal the lashes’ scars;
But Christ, who meekly gave himself,
Will make them like the stars.

And is that treasure not enough
To satisfy all want,
Abundant beyond man’s design,
Your baptism’s full font?

From riches give that he has giv’n,
Incalculable worth,
And weigh not money’s sum but love –
Now have you any dearth?

Aside

Are there Christian mutual funds that, like Amana and other Islamic mutual-fund trusts, are not involved in usury? Or have Christians treated it as a foregone conclusion that, in a capitalistic world œconomy, avoiding usury is neither morally necessary nor … Continue reading

Aside

‘Among many people on the right, social justice has as little meaning as can be fit on a piece of confetti. They want to defend the nation but ultimately care very little for the people. They still do not understand … Continue reading

South China Morning Post to Become Pro-CCP Propaganda

Spectators in front of a large sign on Nixon’s motorcade route in China.

Mainland Chinese Internet giant Alibaba, reports the New York Times, is buying Hong Kong’s respected South China Morning Post (SCMP).

Alibaba is acquiring an award-winning newspaper that for decades has reported aggressively on subjects that China’s state-run media outlets are forbidden to cover, like political scandals and human-rights cases. Alibaba said the deal was fueled by a desire to improve China’s image and offer an alternative to what it calls the biased lens of Western news outlets. While Alibaba said the Chinese government had no role in its deal to buy the Hong Kong newspaper, the company’s position aligns closely with that of the Communist Party, which has grown increasingly critical of the way Western news organizations cover China.

I agree that WEIRD (Western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic) nations have pretty biased mainstream media, which is why I also read RT with its pro-Putin bias; but the way to confront the false propaganda of the WEIRD media, with their often duplicitous talk of ‘human rights’, is not to add false propaganda supporting the CCP and ‘China stronk’ (強國). Because of money, the SCMP is already under pressure from the HK-China oligarchic establishment, but this development just seals the deal.

Aside

Oswald Mosley on the good sense of British abstention from Jewish quarrels: ‘We, always rejected the nonsensical doctrine that a whole people were born wicked, and doomed to sin and damnation from birth. This is the deep moral and intellectual … Continue reading

Aside

St John Chrysostom: ‘I am often reproached for continually attacking the rich. Yes, because the rich are continually attacking the poor. But those I attack are not the rich as such, only those who misuse their wealth. I point out … Continue reading

Restoring the Sabbath

Charles II touching the scrofulous.

One matter about which Christian students sometimes have questions is the keeping of days of rest. Having created the world, God rested on the seventh day; in the law of Moses, he confirmed his ordinance of days of rest by commanding ancient Israel to work six days and on the seventh cease completely. Today, no less than in the days of Moses, we have the example the Lord has set: as testified even by the rhythms of the earth itself, there is a time to labour and a time to cease. This necessity is written into nature itself, which no ordinance of man will take away, and to which the opposition of man can make no law at all. Let him beware who in the name of grace and truth in Jesus Christ makes bold to declare all nature abolished in favour of his own acquisitive desire.

And let him who has not imagined Sabbath, even he who is not a Christian, first mark what humane value there is in a weekly day of rest. Peter Hitchens says,

Does anyone miss the British Sunday, when our cities were like vast, well-ordered cemeteries, the sky always seemed to be black with impending rain, and a deep quiet fell on the land?

Actually, I do. I chafed at it as a child, because children don’t grasp the point of such things. Now that I know what it was for, it is too late.

I know this partly because of the experience of being in Cairo on a Friday morning, or Jerusalem on a Saturday, cities where a universal day of rest still exists, in defiance of all the racket and commerce of the 21st Century.

Before you have even opened your curtains or fully woken from sleep, you can sense that the day is different from all the others. You can feel the peace in your bones and blood.

But any Christian practice of a day of rest, as by nature it must be social, is incomplete without the power of the civil magistrate. Without such a power protecting its practice from the concrete predations of internationalist finance and (as much as lies in temporal care) the spiritual prison of greed, even among Christian believers the exercise of days of rest, though a testimony, is only a shadow of justice, an impoverished manifestation of the righteousness of God.

Godly magistrates or not, however, a day of rest will not even begin in earnest until the deacons, even if they have little civil influence at first, have urged and organized the people to do what they can and commit to more as they are able. And until we are convinced of what integral part the day of rest plays in – one might say – social justice, and until we have grappled with the principle of natural law which made it a wise and just commandment in the Old Testament, we shall always be convincing ourselves to limit its application, to quench the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. It is crucial, therefore, that the Church think about the meaning of the Lord’s just order and seek to do what she can, not for her own sake but for the sake of the world to which she is sent. This will entail far more than lies within the ability of individuals alone, and its practice needs to encompass the common good of man.

It is unseemly, for instance, for Christians to keep a Shabbos goy within their gates, working for them while they rest. Such devices are a means of jihad against the Canaanites; but now that the Son is come, and the gospel brought to the heathen, such warring measures are beyond the purview of Christian politics and ethics. The gospel is conquering the earth promised to us as part of our inheritance, but it proceeds by the word brought to all nations, a testimony of the Son’s saving power and purpose.

Arguably, the Sabbath allows of necessary labour during harvest, as was done in Europe. Even so, such necessity cannot be allowed to reduce days of rest to a dead letter, nor yet to the custom of the middle class only. For the spirit of the law, consonant with not only the general law of charity but also the Mosaic law’s specific provision for the household’s servants and even its animal chattels, is to give rest even to the lowliest and humblest, that those who have no power of resistance may, by the justice of their masters, be given times to rest their bodies and souls for the testimony of God’s kingdom. The law of charity rules over the demands of money, as Christ rules over coinage of every inscription; and he who came not to be served but to serve and to give his life for many, he also desires that those who hold power, even lawfully, on days of rest should count it a blessing to give liberally, not requiring the service of their subordinates but rather washing their feet. For is it not the case that our resting is in the finished work of Christ, in justification by faith alone, that what we rejoice in is a certain æquality before God as justified sinners? Is it not clear that power and authority come from God for the good of those who by the law of nature must submit to it? Therefore let not one’s own prætended necessity be the occasion of denying rest to those with no power to take it.

So who is the Shabbos goy? He is an Amorite, whose hardening wickedness of 400 years has moved the justice of God to dispossess him from the land. Who will so præsume of anyone who, like Onesimus, might become a brother in Christ, and to whom one has the Christian duty to proclaim the gospel? Are there any such Amorites even among the Jews, who have assumed an ethnic identity both apostate and anti-Christian?

Along these lines the deacons must reflect on just application. It is not as simple as being the godly among the ungodly, the godly as a whole society separate from the ungodly: for Christ came into the world to save sinners. As long as the gospel is for all men, as long as Jesus of Nazareth gave his life for all, we must so keep days of rest as to testify to the world concerning the righteousness of God. It must give rest for our souls, but it must also call to the weary unbeliever to come to Christ, that in Christ he may enter the everlasting rest in which we believers rejoice in this world and are glorified in the world to come. The Son of God will come to be our judge, and his righteousness must be the clothing of the Church until he returns through the clouds descending.

Falangist Sympathies

Interested in nationalist or fascist movements not wedded to racial theories, movements whose goals I may consider similar in spirit to those of Chiang Kai-shek in China, I find that I broadly approve of the Programme of the Spanish Falange (1937). Its words are sometimes more extreme than I would write myself, but I think the statement can be reconciled to a godly understanding of the commonwealth.

Nation, unity, empire

1. We believe in the supreme reality of Spain. The urgent collective task of all Spaniards is to strengthen, elevate, and aggrandize the nation. All individual, group, or class interests must be subordinated without question to the accomplishment of this task.

2. Spain is an indivisible destiny in universal terms. Any conspiracy against this indivisible whole is repulsive. All separatism is a crime we shall not forgive. The prevailing Constitution, insofar as it encourages disintegration, offends against the indivisible nature of Spain’s destiny. We therefore demand its immediate repeal.

3. We are committed to Empire. We declare that Spain’s historical fulfillment is the Empire. We demand for Spain a prominent position in Europe. We shall not tolerate international isolation or foreign interference. Regarding the countries of Spanish America, our aim is the unification of culture, economic interests, and power. Spain claims that its role as the spiritual axis of the Spanish-speaking world entitles it to a position of preeminence in world affairs.

4. Our armed forces – on land, at sea, and in the air – must be sufficiently strong and efficient to ensure at all times for Spain total independence and a world status that befits the nation. We shall give back to the land, sea, and air forces all the public dignity they merit, and we shall see to it that a similar martial outlook pervades the whole of Spanish life.

5. Spain will look again to the sea routes for her glory and her wealth. Spain will aim to become a great seafaring power, for times of danger and for the sake of trade. We demand for the Fatherland equal status among navies and on the air routes.

State, individual, freedom

6. Ours will be a totalitarian State in the service of the Fatherland’s integrity. All Spaniards will play a part therein through their membership in families, municipalities and trade unions. No one shall play a part therein through a political party. The system of political parties will be resolutely abolished, together with all its corollaries: inorganic suffrage, representation by conflicting factions, and the Cortes as we know it.

7. Human dignity, the integrity of the individual, and individual freedom are eternal and intangible values. But the only way to be really free is to be part of a strong and free nation. No one will be permitted to use his freedom against the unity, the strength, and the freedom of the Fatherland. A rigorous discipline will prevent any attempt to poison or split the Spanish people, or to incite them to go against the destiny of the Fatherland.

8. The National-Syndicalist State will permit any private initiative that is compatible with the collective interest and, indeed, will protect and stimulate those that are beneficial.

Economy, work, class struggle

9. In the economic sphere, we think of Spain as one huge syndicate of all those engaged in production. In order to serve national economic integrity we shall organize Spanish society along corporative lines by creating a system of vertical unions that will represent the various branches of production.

10. We reject the capitalist system, which disregards the needs of the people, dehumanizes private property, and transforms the workers into shapeless masses that are prone to misery and despair. Our spiritual and national awareness likewise repudiates Marxism. We shall channel the drive of the working classes, that are nowadays led astray by Marxism, by demanding their direct participation in the formidable task of the national State.

11. The National-Syndicalist State will not stand cruelly aloof from economic conflicts between men, nor will it look on impassively as the strongest class subjugates the weakest. Our regime will make class struggle totally impossible, since all those cooperating in production will constitute an organic whole therein. We deplore and shall prevent at all costs the abuses of partial vested interests, as well as anarchy in the workforce.

12. The primary purpose of wealth is to improve the standard of living of all the people – and this will be the declared policy of our State. It is intolerable that great masses of people live in poverty while a few enjoy every luxury.

13. The State will recognize private property as a legitimate means of attaining individual, family, and social ends, and will protect it against being abused by high finance, speculators, and moneylenders.

14. We shall defend the move toward nationalization of banking and the takeover of the major public services by corporations.

15. All Spanish citizens have the right to work. The public institutions will provide adequate maintenance for those who are involuntarily out of work. While we are moving toward the new overall structure, we shall retain and increase all the advantages the workers derive from current social legislation.

16. Every Spaniard who is not an invalid is duty-bound to work. The National-Syndicalist State will not have the slightest regard for those who do not fulfill any function but who expect to live like guests at the expense of other people’s efforts.

Land

17. As a matter of urgency we must raise the standard of living in the rural areas, on which Spain will always depend for her food. For this reason, we commit ourselves to the strict implementation of an economic and social reform of agriculture.

18. As part of our economic reform, we shall strengthen agricultural production by means of the following measures:

By guaranteeing all farmers an adequate minimum price for their produce;

By seeing to it that much of what is nowadays absorbed by the cities in payment for their intellectual and commercial services is returned to the land, in order to endow rural areas sufficiently;

By organizing a real system of national agricultural credit that will lend farmers money at low rates of interest, thereby guaranteeing their possessions and harvests and freeing them from usury and patronage;

By spreading education pertaining to matters of agriculture and animal husbandry;

By rationalizing production according to the suitability of the land and the outlets available for its products;

By promoting a protectionist tariff policy covering agriculture and the raising of cattle;

By speeding up the construction of a hydraulic network;

By rationalizing landholdings in order to eliminate both vast estates that are not fully exploited and smallholdings that are uneconomic by reason of their low yield.

19. We shall achieve a social organization of agriculture by means of the following measures:

By redistributing once again all the arable land to promote family holdings and by giving farmers every encouragement to join the union;

By rescuing from their present poverty the masses of people who are exhausting themselves scratching on barren soil, and by transferring them to new holdings of arable land.

20. We shall launch a tireless campaign of reforestation and stockbreeding, imposing severe sanctions on whomever obstructs it, and even resorting temporarily to the enforced mobilization of all Spanish youth for the historic task of rebuilding our country’s wealth.

21. The State will have powers to confiscate without compensation any land the ownership of which has been acquired or enjoyed illicitly.

22. A priority of the National-Syndicalist State will be to return to villages their communal property.

National education and religion

23. It is a fundamental mission of the State to impose a rigorous discipline on education that will produce a strong, united, national spirit and fill the souls of future generations with joy and pride in their Fatherland. All men will receive preliminary training to prepare them for the honour of admission to Spain’s national forces.

24. Culture will be organized in such a way that no talent will be lost for lack of finance. All those who are deserving will have easy access even to higher education.

25. Our Movement integrates the Catholic spirit, which has been traditionally glorious and predominant in Spain, into the reconstruction of the nation. Church and State will come to an agreement on the areas of their respective powers, but any interference from the Church or any activity likely to undermine the dignity of the State or the integrity of the nation will not be tolerated.

National revolution

26. The Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las JONS demands a new order, as set forth in the foregoing principles. In the face of the resistance from the present order, it calls for a revolution to implant this new order. Its method of procedure will be direct, bold, and combative. Life signifies the art and science of warfare (milicia) and must be lived with a spirit that is purified by service and sacrifice.

Your Revival’s God Is Too Small

By Pasu Au Yeung (CC BY 2.0).

A month ago, Matt Wakeling wrote provocatively about the pitfalls of thinking about revival. Responses have been written by Elle Cronin, Ollie Ip, and Yannick Christos-Wahab. I’ll weigh in here so that my blog’s readers can also enter this conversation.

The success of gospel missions will be seen in repentance under the judgement of the Lord of hosts:

Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and stablisheth a city by iniquity! Behold, is it not of the Lord of hosts that the people shall labour in the very fire, and the people shall weary themselves for very vanity? For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.

Woe to them that carry on in idolatry and in the worship of false gods. That is the way of death, and nations who follow it are like Sodom and Gomorrah, doomed to die. But the Lord is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him. A dead world is one that serves dead things, but a revived world is one that keeps an awed silence before the holiness of the glory of the Lord.

So we should not give up the Lord’s vision of a whole earth that worships him. This is the natural end to which creation is ordered, and anything short of this end is not enough. Nevertheless, Matt and Mrs Cronin have a good point, that we must remember that God is already everywhere working, and that the Father has set his choices unalterable, and the Son has already died for the sin of all men, and the Holy Ghost has been working right from the Fall to teach men virtue and give them faith. Let us not forget, then:

Whilst a number of traditional denominations in the UK report a struggle to keep numbers, church plants from various ‘Christian: Other’ denominations are continuing to grow and blossom. I think leaders and congregations can see true revival every week when someone new asks for prayer, or just a coffee and a chat. There is a sudden, heart-felt change, a breath of life, that may indeed set off a domino-effect in others. It might not. God is still there.

A nation is not revived, a community is not revived, unless its members are filled with the Spirit. Yet one person filled with the Spirit is through faith a member of the catholic Church, and his regeneration cannot be understood or even complete without the life of the holy Church. Let us not neglect that God works in the little things, the despised things, but let us also remember that the whole world, for whom God’s only-begotten Son died, is naturally meant (by God’s command) to serve as his holy priesthood. And mankind is by nature organized into many kinds of households: families, consociations, and nations. Let him deny the piety of national revival who denies the truth of Psalm 85:

Wilt thou be displeased at us for ever : and wilt thou stretch out thy wrath from one generation to another?
Wilt thou not turn again, and quicken us : that thy people may rejoice in thee?
Shew us thy mercy, O Lord : and grant us thy salvation.

The Lord has not finished dealing with families and nations, nor has he stopped blessing children for the sake of their faithful parents. His faithfulness is real. Though we do not understand it, nor elect for ourselves how he will accomplish his ends, we can and must pray for it to be manifest. Let us beg the Lord, not because we or our fathers have the merits – for we have no such merits – but rather because the Lord is pleased to work through the natural bonds of family while also grafting those into his Church who have never been Israelites.

Let it not be in hypocrisy, but in sincerity and truth, that we seek to serve our families and our nations and to build them up in godliness. The word of God itself demands that we seek for them the peace that only the Holy Ghost confers; but let us trust in the merits of Christ and the persuasion of his Holy Spirit, not in the earthly power and glory of all that tickles the ear and impresses the eyes. In other words, let us be chaste.

The empire of God is not found in the colonial hand of Rome, but instead our citizenship is in heaven. The glory we shall look for, the glory of which the knowledge is to fill all the earth, is to be found when the Lord Jesus Christ shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. As they used to say in the coronations of the Holy Roman Emperor, ‘Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat’: Christ conquers, Christ reigns, Christ gives the orders. For his everlasting glory, though his rule is also in the ministry of the civil power and the grave and learned rulings of godly bishops, we are to look not in the pomp of the world but in the leaven-like work of the Spirit. That alone is a sign of the righteousness that endures to everlasting life. Lift up, therefore, your hearts.

God has used the Roman, British, and American empires for his purposes, just as he has used the Assyrian and the Babylonian and the Persian. There have been good kings and bad kings, God-fearing kings and wicked kings. Yannick rightly draws our attention to the social advances effected through a Christian culture. (And, honesty, would anyone prefer the vile and anti-Christian culture of ISIS?) As Ollie says of the term revival, ‘what is needed is the word’s rehabilitation, such that “revival” is not seeking for a once “Christian” nation to be revived into the image of it’s [sic] former self, but for a broken creation to be revived into the image of the Kingdom of God.’ That is, if our vision is only for the nation to look respectable once again, our vision is too small. God was not contained in Rome, Britain, or America, for not even in ancient Israel was his kingdom contained. It is natural to look at nations and pray for nations – what else do overseas missionaries do? – but our eyes need to be catholic enough to look at Christ’s commission and the Holy Ghost’s emission for the whole world, and to count all other glories loss in comparison with the treasure that will not die.

Taking the bigger view, Ollie points out, ‘He is bringing the Kingdom, which is is something more than just evangelism and discipleship (neither of which I am devaluing in the slightest), but extends to include the ending of systemic injustice on a grander scale. War. Poverty. Sickness.’ So great and so profound are the systematic changes God calls for, and so inextricably bound with things particular to this life, that we who are honest about these changes cannot call them anything but Christendom. The Kingdom of God is no less than that. But it is more.

For Christian Charter Schools

大學之道, in the Edification Hall of Tainan’s Confucian Temple.

In the Edification Hall of Tainan’s Confucian Temple. By nnice.

One of the implications of public Christianity is that, though education belongs properly to the parents and not to the ordained ministry or the magistracy, homeschooling is not the panacea some Christians make it out to be, because it privatizes a public matter. If we disagree with the defence of abortion which designates it a private matter of personal choice, perhaps we may see that the same applies to schooling: education, like the creation and destruction of life, is not a commodity for private consumption. Therefore, since education is a public matter, the public good calls for Christian parents not to conduct their children’s education in isolation from the public square. Sometimes a relative withdrawal may be tactically necessary for Christians to educate our children in the right way – that is, the truth – but such withdrawal is not the ideal.

What the Church truly desires in education is a public life that holds all truth necessary for the high attainments of civilization, and especially is congenial to the Christian faith which enables civilization’s best and most lasting state. By the common grace of God, pagans have achieved much, even in the way of public justice; but the Christian knows, as both historical experience and the Scriptures tell, that the virtue of human society at which education aims, in order to be sustained and fulfilled, depends on mankind’s regeneration by the word of God and particularly by the gospel of Jesus Christ. So, then, both for the good of the city and for the æternal salvation of men, Christian parents must work to make the public system of education a place hospitable to the gospel.

At the same time, as Steven Wedgeworth says,

The home needs to also be supported, promoted, and protected, and it needs to live in a friendly relationship with the rest of society rather than the hostile one it has been in for the past few decades. And that hostility is most definitely a two-way street. Too many conservatives view their home as a defense-only citadel. But this can’t work, and as we’ve said, the home has already been long emptied. The home instead needs to be a thriving part of the community.

For a school to be truly hospitable to the gospel and the flourishing of human society, it will have to respect the place of family and home, yet draw families together for the common and public good. Somehow, the responsibility and authority of parents and the use of the public schools will have to work together in a way that honours God.

Analects of Confucius. Östasiatiska Museet, Stockholm.

Analects of Confucius. Östasiatiska Museet, Stockholm. By Erlend Bjoertvedt.

In some states, I think this synergy can be served by charter schools, which receive public funding but are not run by the (often) secularist state. The hope of charter schools has always been to invigorate the state schools, and in the matter of religion this is no less the case. Chicago already has charter schools run by the La Sallians, so more charter schools run by Christians should be no problem; what remains is to establish some things a charter school should do, as an example to the state schools, to be friendly to the true faith.

First, it should give parents the freedom to have their children observe religious discipline. The school schedule and calendar should be so arranged as not to obstruct daily prayers and holy day services. They should, therefore, leave time for students to pray in both the morning and the late afternoon, as well as to attend church services during Christmas, Holy Week, Easter, Ascension, and Whitsun Week. More positively, before school and after school there may be chaplains to lead Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer, and chaplains may also be available once a week to give spiritual counsel. An after-school club may also be devoted to discussing the Prayer Book catechism; the Baptists, the Jews, and the Muslims could have their own clubs at the same time.

Book of Common Prayer, Lichfield Cathedral.

By quimby.

Second, for the Trivium, the curriculum should be ordered toward nurturing students in their knowledge of the Christian cultural heritage. In foreign languages, as the Ben Gamla charter schools teach Hebrew, so Christian-friendly charter schools can easily require Latin, with stronger precedent than for Hebrew. Elsewhere in the humanities, teachers may give particular attention to biblical history and literature, as well as to Western Christian literature and the religious history of Europe and America. Teaching this material, after all, makes everyone more literate, not just Christians. Augustine and Donne, Maimonides and Judah Halevi, these are thinkers whose works would do good for all modern students to experience. Intentionally teaching students to become conversant with the Christian tradition is of utmost importance, and there is plenty of excellent material to read and discuss.

Third, in the natural sciences, the honest thing to do is to teach what everyone learns about evolutionary biology but also to discuss data (or lack of data) that Mayr, Gould, and others have admitted to be problematic. There is no question that Creationism is not science, but all students stand to gain from honest enquiry in natural science. They would learn a great deal from teachers showing them the questions that continued to occupy scientists today. In natural history, likewise – in astronomy, geology, and palæontology – it is responsible to stress that one does not draw conclusions in the same manner as in other fields of natural science, since repeated and controlled experiments in natural history are intrinsically impossible. By right reason, nothing in the natural sciences actually destroys Christian faith. Taught well, Christian students should see that natural science is not a threat to their faith, and students of a scientific inclination should see that religious faith is not a threat to science; honesty and truth are virtues that no one, Christian or atheist, needs to give up.

By dzsil.

By dzsil.

Fourth, a charter school congenial to the Christian faith supports the integrity of family life. Students who live close enough to the school, perhaps, can go home for lunch; for those who cannot, it seems good to use only humanely obtained kosher meat and offer vegetarian options. Perhaps even more importantly, the school should keep homework to a minimum – look at all the happy Dutch children. It is also worth looking into arrangements in which students can learn at home some days of the week, as well as accommodations for homeschoolers who wish to join certain classes. On the teachers’ end, I think it best if both regular and substitute teachers can work part-time without losing their health insurance benefits. By serving the families of both the students and the teachers, schools better honour the God who made us able to learn.

The example of charter schools that did all this, even if state schools could not do everything the same way, could encourage state schools to improve the way they did things and become better places for both Christian and non-Christian parents to send their children. It is not always clear what can legally be done, and close ties between Christian groups and schools can be controversial, but I think the idea should be tried. What do you think?

Collegiate Leaven

Much is made of what monasticism has contributed to Western civilization; but better than the cloister is the college.

The cloister serves the purposes of a community whose ascetic life, especially its celibacy, not all can take up; the college, though its core community may live under a rule and even be celibate, exists to teach the larger society it lives in. The college, then, does the best of what a monastery does, but brings this to the service of the ordinary people living around it, not in votive masses but in sound faith and learning and manners.

Today, driving around Dublin, California, a fast-growing city next to the edge city of Pleasanton, I see large vacant lots zoned for residential use, just across Tassajara Road from an array of shops. If this land were acquired for mixed residential use, with a Christian college in its midst, this college would stand in the centre of the East Dublin district, right at the meeting of home and business. ‘The 2010 United States Census’, says Wikipedia, ‘reported that Dublin had a population of 46,036, which grew to 49,890 in 2013. It has been one of the fastest-growing cities in California, as its population nearly doubled during the past decade. Once the building of homes is finished in East Dublin, the city will have a capacity for over 75,000 citizens.’

tassajara_dublin

(Funnily enough, because it is Dublin, you can see to the east a street called Finnian Way, as if to suggest the founders of the Irish monasteries of Clonard and Movilla.)

Imagine what the city stood to gain from a Christian college where Tassajara intersected with Dublin Boulevard. Met by a great steeple, it could have in the college what the southern suburbs of Paris had in Port-Royal, and more. Placed where it was, the college could give instruction that supplied the defects of the state schools, tutoring students not only to do well on standardized tests but also to read and write well in mastery of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. It could send chaplains to the Federal Correction Institution to serve the prison’s female inmates. It could house many persons without the monotony of unbroken lines of house after house – for comparison, King’s College, Cambridge, houses 700 students, but more could live on the grounds of this college. It could be a quiet place for people working in Dublin to pray or seek counsel, and then return to work or go home. In many ways, the dean and the provost and all the canons could – Dublin’s bad-tasting water notwithstanding – make East Dublin a good, humane place to live and work as they sought the good of their city.

We might call this place St Patrick’s College. Such a college not only would not be a school for scandal (though I should be very happy if it put on Sheridan’s play of that name), but would be a school for virtuous living under Christ. And maybe, just maybe, someone at the college could even devise a good system to filter Dublin’s bad water.