Just finished Dr. Samuel Gregg’s helpful book, On Ordered Liberty: A Treatise on the Free Society (Religion, Politics, and Society in the New Millennium). I recommend this book for those who would like to learn a bit about anthropology, philosophy, and how ideas have consequences upon entire civilizations. Gregg, a Roman Catholic, takes to task some of the prevalent libertarian notions of liberty for liberty’s sake. Freedom with no telos, or goal, actually harms civilizations. Many have come up with some utilitarian ethic to govern how freedom is to be used, but such efforts are generally short-lived.
Gregg’s final chapter advocates how freedom should function within a Catholic/Christian tradition. All in all, this is a very difficult read unless you are dying to learn more about these particulars. The book was personally helpful in refining my understanding of how civilizations are shaped by ideas and who some of the originators were. Catholic concepts on the integration of faith in society and proper ordering of society are more nuanced than I ever could have imagined. I had the opportunity to converse with Gregg at Acton University – as well as take a class on anthropology with him – and have benefited much from his contributions as a public intellectual in the Catholic tradition.
By the way, I think all Christians who are recent converts to libertarian politics should read this book to better understand the need for an “ordered liberty”, and therefore better make the distinction from liberation from all authority (French Revolution) in contrast with distinctly Christian notions of liberty in a pluralistic society.
© 2012, Rick Hogaboam. All rights reserved.