I will be tomorrow (Thursday) at Notre Dame. The time is 7:30 p.m. and the place is Debartolo 129.

And I’ll be speaking in Dallas at the Adolphus Hotel on Saturday afternoon. (For more details, go to the ISI website).

YOU are invited to both events free of charge.

The topic in both cases will be the contribution of the neglected American Catholic thinker Orestes Brownson to the “building better than they knew” approach to gratefully but critically venerating the great political accomplishments of the American Founders. According to Brownson (and later John Courtney Murray), the best contribution the American Catholic realist can make to his country is to articulate the theory that corresponds adequately to our free political institutions. As I’ve said many times before, we can see that our Declaration was a statesmanlike legislative compromise between Lockeans and Calvinists, and the result was a kind of accidental Thomism. Something similar can be said about the actual language of the religion clauses of the First Amendment, which point in the direction, contrary to Madison’s theoretical anti-ecclesiasticism, of freedom of the church.

To prepare for for listening to ME, you might review my 40,000 word introduction to the ISI edition of Brownson’s THE AMERICAN REPUBLIC, which is one of the most ingenious and original things I’ve written. But I can see now that I didn’t manage to present Brownson’s thought properly as a whole.

So come out and hear how Brownson’s quite distinctive appreciation of America as a catholic nation, his misunderstood (actually mangled by Russell Kirk) idea of territorial democracy, his criticism of our Founders’ theory based on “the right of succession,” and his explanation of how our providential constitution is prior to our written constituion all fit together in terms of the whole truth of the human being as an economic, political, and religious (or created) being.

In Dallas on Saturday afternoon, you’ll also be able to hear the sage of Latrobe Brad Watson and Dr. Pat Deneen. It goes without saying that I’ll be the sensible mean between two extremes: The Claremonster view that our political Fathers taught the truth and nothing but and the Porcher dismissal of the dominant currents of our Founding as most deeply an atheistic project for the imperial mastery of nature.

More on: Etcetera

Articles by Peter Lawler

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