My friend, Roger Berry, sent this my way. Christian faith in action!
HT: Micah Mattix’s excellent email blast, Prufrock
Two “much food for thought” insights from the article above:
Adam Smith spoke of “the man of system” who “seems to imagine that he can arrange the different members of a great society with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chess-board.” [Richard] Thaler and his benevolent friends are men, and some few women, of system. They hate the Chicago School, have never heard of the Austrian School, dismiss spontaneous order, and favor bossing people around—for their own good, understand. Employing the third most unbelievable sentence in English (the other two are “The check is in the mail” and “Of course I’ll respect you in the morning”), they declare cheerily, “We’re from the government and we’re here to help.”
The great essayist Lionel Trilling wrote in 1950 that the danger is that “we who are liberal and progressive know that the poor are our equals in every sense except that of being equal to us.” The same may be said of Burkeans or conservatives, too. He also wrote that “we must be aware of the dangers that lie in our most generous wishes,” because “when once we have made our fellow men the object of our enlightened interest [we] go on to make them the objects of our pity, then of our wisdom, ultimately of our coercion.”
From C.S. Lewis:
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”
I’ve felt a bit of this shame during the recession when it looked like we might lose our house. I know the weariness of dickering with doctors over an easier payment plan. And yet…we have always had friends who have generously given of themselves and their resources. I can’t imagine what it would be like apart from supportive friends.
Short, but important read on paying more attention:
When our sons were younger we spent some time in the North Caroloina home of legendary Dickens scholar, Elliot Engel. Here is a recent interview with Elliot on The Christmas Carol.
A good interview with the author of a book I’m still processing…
Professor Alan Taylor teaches at the University of Virginia. He has won the Pulitzer prize…twice! Look for a review or interview on his latest book in the months ahead.
Taylor has written a terrific piece on the need for an educated electorate (HT to www.thewayofimprovement.com). I spent some good time marking up and pondering Taylor’s critical assessment and prescription. Here’s a taste:
“Here then was the rub. Visionary leaders insisted that preserving a republic required improving the common people by an increased investment in education. But a republic depended on common voters who lacked schooling and often balked at paying for it, preferring to spend their money on consumer goods. As farmers, they also wanted to keep their children at work on the farm. To justify their preferences, they invoked a populist distrust of the educated. A rustic republican from North Carolina insisted, ‘College learned persons give themselves great airs, are proud, and the fewer of them we have amongst us the better.’ Preferring ‘the plain, simple, honest matter-of-fact republicanism,’ he asked, ‘Who wants Latin and Greek and abstruse mathematics at these times and in a country like this?’ Distrustful of all aristocrats, natural and artificial, he insisted that they should pay to educate themselves, and the poor could make do without book learning; thus, he would vote for candidates who kept taxes low. Common voters in the southern states often did not regard education as essential to preserving their republic.”
“The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that’s wrong with the world.”
—DR. PAUL FARMER
Chief Strategist & Co-founder of Partners in Health
Recent article on my dad’s faith: