There are too many great recent posts to respond to quickly this morning.

So I will highlight the importance of Jason Joseph’s Catholic response to Pat Deneen: The freedom properly claimed is the freedom the church—an organized body of thought and action—to tell the whole truth about the human person. The limit on politics—what deconstructs the regime as regime—is that personal identity and so personal dignity are not fundamentally political. So the freedom the church claims doesn’t depend on any political recognition that the church is right on contraception. In general, Deneen misses what is called “medieval liberalism” (see Remy Brague) or the true foundation of the separation of church and state. So his view is both too Puritanical and too simply Aristotelian to be properly Catholic.

Locke—by showing (see Zuckert [almost despite himself] and Lee Ward) in his own way that personal identity is neither political nor natural—is in some ways closer to the Catholic view than Aristotle (as Jason says). Locke just slights the social and relational components of “being personal,” and so he insufficiently appreciative of the freedom properly claimed (but which he still allows) by the church. But all experience has shown that enduring and “authentic” personal identity depends on insulating social institutions—beginning with the church—from the full force of the abstract logic of purely (and so lonely and unsustainable) modern individualism. That our Constitution, properly understood, does do.

So in my opinion the anti-ecclesiasticism of Madison’s MEMORIAL AND REMONSTRANCE (which roots conscience in the solitary individual) is not even properly Lockean, and I could prove [following John Courtney Murray] that the American freedom as embodied in the First Amendment [which isn’t Madisonian in the crucial respect] is freedom for religion as an institution. It’s European liberalism that’s insistently anti-Catholic, and the Catholic Church has flourished in peace and freedom (and in some ways in almost unprecedented purity) under the American Constitution. The assault on the institutional church in this employer health-care mandate thing is actually unconstitutional according to the principles of both medieval and the American form of modern constitutionalism. Aristotle, in fact, wouldn’t see a problem.

There’s a great opportunity here to launch into a polemic against government mandating employer-based health care. This controversy will continue as long that mandate does. So it’s in the interest of the church to push for either the privatizing or the nationalizing of health care. Because nationalizing is unsustainable these days—due to the demographic issue on which the church can say “we told you so”—privatization (with minimal regulation, subsidies etc.) is the way to go.

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