Subsidiarity, the idea that those closest to a problem should be the ones to solve it, plays a particular role in development. However, it can be an idea that is a bit “slippery”: who does what and when? What is the role of faith-based organizations? What is the role of government? Susan Stabile, Professor of Law at St. John’s University School of Law, has written “Subsidiarity and the Use of Faith-Based Organizations in the Fight Against Poverty” at Mirror of Justice blog and has a succinct view of subsidiarity:
Most of the time we spend on this planet we are looking down. Down at our desks . . . down at our feet . . . down at the dishes. Life is full of little details that require us to look down, put our backs into the work and get things done.
From the video vault, a classic presentation by Rev. Robert A. Sirico, president and co-founder of the Acton Institute, based on his monograph The Entrepreneurial Vocation.
I thought this piece in BusinessWeek last month from Mark Oppenheimer was very well done, “The Rise of the Corporate Chaplain.” I think it profiles an important and under-appreciated phenomenon in the American commercial sphere. One side of the picture is that this is a laudable development, since it shows that employers are increasingly aware that their employees are not merely meat machines, automata whose value is only to be calculated in terms of material concerns, and that spiritual matters cannot simply be ignored or factored in as a variable included in the cost of doing business.
But this rise in corporate chaplaincy also reminds me of the comment by Walter Rauschenbusch (noted in this recent article from Hunter Baker) that “business life is the unregenerate section of our social order.”
If by some magic it could be plucked out of our total social life in all its raw selfishness, and isolated on an island, unmitigated by any other factors of our life, that island would immediately become the object of a great foreign mission crusade for all Christendom.
In his latest column at Forbes, Fr. Robert Sirico discusses his memories of 9/11 and the end of freedom:
One might also be tempted to imagine that the answer to bin Laden’s religious mania is a morally neutral public square. But all the great and successful battles against tyranny, all the efforts to build flourishing free societies in the first place, teach a different lesson. Freedom, as indispensable as it is, is insufficient for constructing a society and culture appropriate to man, much less for defending it. If it is to flourish and endure it must be a freedom oriented to something beyond itself, oriented to Truth — the truth of man’s origin, the truth of man’s nature, and the truth of man’s destiny. It must meet envy and the will to negation with an opposite and more than equal force — with the kind of virtue that drove Smagala and his fellow firefighters toward danger that fiery September morning, a virtue that also works in quieter circumstances to knit together the countless ties of a free society.
The paradox of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, James Joseph explains, is that her defense of individual freedom provides a “self-defeating apologia for the American welfare state.”
Here we have Ms Rand’s answer to the murder-fueled regimes of mid-century communism: The Individual is the sole scale of value, individual freedom is necessary to the individual survival, she says, and my survival is the sole end of my existence. Community, in this scheme of values, is entirely without meaning, or at least without objective claims upon the individual.
To truly understand what a conservative believes, you must know what it is they want to conserve. Like many other Christians who identify as conservatives, my own answer to that question would be the same as that of Russell Kirk: The institution most essential to conserve is the family.
The Problem With Modern Economics
Elise Amyx, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics
Economics has become a field for academia snobs and policy wonks, not everyday people. Why is it so confusing? Might it be because we are only looking at a very small part of the picture?