Posted: Tuesday, June 7, 2011 (6:00 am), by John W Gillis
Quote of the Day for Tuesday, June 7th, 2011:
Walter Russell Mead on The Death of the American Dream:
A nation of family farms is a nation of family firms; suburban America was a land of employees. America’s shift from a nation of entrepreneurs to a nation working for corporations and government was a profound change in national life that even today is not well or fully understood.
The ideal of the independent small farmer was at the heart of early American democratic ideology. Critics of democracy had always asserted in the past that a mass of unpropertied and dependent voters would lack both the virtue and the experience necessary to make good decisions for the state.
Americans like Thomas Jefferson retorted that in the United States, things were different. America, uniquely, was a country in which even the average citizen was a property owner and the master of an enterprise.
The mass of the people could be entrusted with government because the masses owned property. They were not like the penniless rabble of antiquity who traded their votes to unscrupulous demagogues and dictators in ancient Rome in exchange for bread and circuses.
It’s been a while since I’ve read Mead’s blog, and after clicking through to this post from HotAir.com, I quickly remembered why I used to like to read him. Mead draws out some important lessons from the history of public life that deserve serious reflection, and, as usual, he does it with very little partisan posturing.
Posted: Wednesday, March 3, 2010 (1:25 pm), by John W Gillis
Related to the juxtaposed references to articles on civic and religious engagement in Monday’s post, Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput delivered an address at Houston Baptist University on Monday entitled The Vocation of Christians in American Public Life, which is particularly interesting for the way he takes John F. Kennedy to task for his famous speech in Houston 50 years ago, in which Kennedy tried to reassure his audience of Protestant ministers that his Catholicism would not play a meaningful role in his public performance of duty, should he be elected President of the United States. Archbishop Chaput lays at Kennedy’s feet much of the facile double-mindedness that has since become so culpably endemic in the lives of too many Catholic public figures. Furthermore, he ties it to a general disintegration of of intellectual, moral, and spiritual vitality within the Catholic Church in America:
Too many Catholics confuse their personal opinions with a real Christian conscience. Too many live their faith as if it were a private idiosyncrasy – the kind that they’ll never allow to become a public nuisance. And too many just don’t really believe.
It’s a pretty sober reflection.
Posted: Monday, March 1, 2010 (11:59 pm), by John W Gillis
I came across a couple of interesting studies today – whether there is any kind of correlation, I’ll let the reader decide.
In a poll done by the Knights of Columbus, the religious attitudes of the so-called Millennial generation are compared to the older surviving generations, breaking out the Catholics among the generations as well. This is a bit of a fluffy presentation – looking more like a PowerPoint deck than a real study – but the results are intriguing, in a morose way. I must say that I question some of the analysis, as presented on the KoC site, since they seem to be able to take as “good news” that 66% of Millennial Catholics consider abortion morally wrong (and an even smaller number considering euthanasia morally wrong). I can’t help focusing on the 1 in 3 who don’t find abortion morally wrong – that’s like Holocaust survivors thinking the Final Solution must not have been all that bad!
The second one, the American Civic Literacy 2010 Report, from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, explores the relationship between civic knowledge and college education, and reports some disturbing, if unsurprising, results concerning the state of civic knowledge in the country. [Note: The actual civic literacy test being reported on is available for taking on-line at the site linked – please go see how easy this was.]
Why am I not encouraged by any of this?