Sunday, February 22, 2009

Caldecott - Lessons from the Middle Ages

Meanwhile, Stratford Caldecott speaks to the topic dear to at least two Mass'keteers' hearts, (neo-)Distributism.

Present-day admirers of G.K. Chesterton (The Outline of Sanity) and E.F. Schumacher (Small is Beautiful) are sometimes accused of wanting to return to the Middle Ages, and can be easily mocked for wanting to do so with full access to modern medicine and laptops.

But neither Chesterton nor Schumacher were so naïve. They were calling for a particular kind of progress – towards a more human-centered, though still technologically sophisticated and creatively developing, society. They both realized that there are particular concepts and ideas that were prevalent in medieval Christendom that we might indeed learn from, precisely to make that progress possible. In fact great cultural movements are often brought about by importing ideas from the past into a new social context – the Renaissance is one example.

So what can we learn from the Middle Ages to get us out of our current global crisis?

As a sympathizer with Chesterton’s philosophy of “Distributism”, and with the recent attempt to revive it by the “progressive conservatives,” I can suggest at least three things in order to encourage further debate ...

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David Nybakke said...

Here a lesson: there a lesson: everywhere a lesson...

But where is the conversion?

I have been coming around to the theory and maybe the legitimacy of Distributism as Chesterton and Belloc spell out. The main issue I have with it though is; how we transform OUR ‘corporate’ (not just individualistic) DESIRE that is entrenched in a massive unlimited and even gross expectation of want to a desire of life?

At the very heart of Distributism (on a national level) is still conversion - in other words our nation cannot go from what we currently have, exploitive capitalism to distributism by our will. We, the public at large, can go from exploitive capitalism to a form of economic nationalism without conversion, but it just is not in the human capability to switch to distributism without conversion.

Athos said...

Yes. I'm afraid for as much as I tout larger than individualistic decisions (affirmations, etc.), that is how it is done.

Not only is it lonely work, it is thankless and even dangerous. Even those who try to offer their selves back to their ontological Source and summit are still mimetic creatures and liable to falling into funny business again and again.

Maybe we're on to an important theme AND structure here for Lent, Aramis. Saying YES with Our Lady as our model in Marian chivalry while repenting of the many ways that our sin symptomology restrains and holds us back from answering our vocations faithfully, hopefully, lovingly.