The intersection of the timeless moment

At Dissent, Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig, a staff writer at The New Republic, has a piece titled “Why the Left Needs Religion.” The piece itself takes (more or less) a historical look at Christian influences on historically leftist trends, and, thus, comes to a conclusion firmly rooted in history. It seems to us that this is exactly the wrong way to look at it. The Christian critique of capitalism and liberalism—the Christian emphasis on the common good and the human aspects of the market is perhaps a better, more accurate way of phrasing the issue—is a subject of no small interest to us. Accordingly, while we were interested to see Bruenig’s comment (she has become something of a voice for a leftist or left-friendly Christianity in recent years), we were disappointed to see the critique remain so solidly earthbound. The force of the Christian critique of liberalism and capitalism does not depend on reference to specific problems. (Disordered individualism and the all-consuming, convenience-driven drive for profits do not require specific problems, either, to show themselves. The basic reason, of course, is that they are symptoms of a problem as old as Eden.) However, Christianity’s critique, when applied to specific problems, as the Holy Father did brilliantly in Laudato si’, is always timely.