An Integralist Manifesto by Edmund Waldstein | Articles | First Things

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Jones provides strong evidence to show that historians have too often distorted our view of the Middle Ages by projecting modern constructions back onto them. But he is not merely making a historical claim. He is also making a normative claim…

Source: An Integralist Manifesto by Edmund Waldstein | Articles | First Things

“Aided by a philosophical and theological sophistication that is unusual for his profession, Jones challenges our most basic assumptions as moderns. He [speaks] of “an integral vision which included all of social reality.” In this integral vision, “church” and “state” did not exist as separate institutions; rather, spiritual and temporal authority cooperated together within a single social whole for the establishment of an earthly peace, ordered to eternal salvation.

“Nor was there an “economy,” in the modern sense of a relatively autonomous system based on private property and contract. Rather, the use of material goods was thoroughly integrated into the peace. “State,” “church,” and “economy” were not merely underdeveloped, waiting to be discovered. They did not exist, and would have to be invented. The vision of social peace gave way to an idea of social life as a violent, primordial struggle for power, and of sovereignty as limiting that violence by monopolizing it…

“Jones provides strong evidence to show that historians have too often distorted our view of the Middle Ages by projecting modern constructions back onto them. But he is not merely making a historical claim. He is also making a normative claim: The construction of modern society with its system of separations between different social spheres was a bad development that inscribes false ideas into our very way of life. Conversely, the integration of spiritual and temporal corresponds to the truth about humanity as revealed in Christ, and is therefore demanded by Christian orthodoxy.”

Provocative claims? You betcha! But fascinating to me, both as an academic medievalist by training, and as a Christian clergyman… and to me, they carry the ring of truth. I have long thought, and often stated, that we have lost much by forgetting or willfully discarding the insights of our medieval predecessors. There is no question that I shall need to add Andrew Willard Jones’ Before Church and State: A Study of Social Order in the Sacramental Kingdom of St. Louis IX to my reading list!

Here are a few more excepts from this excellent review by :

“In the vision of peace that Jones describes, the clergy, who wielded the spiritual sword, and the lay authorities, who wielded the secular, had distinct roles, but they were cooperating toward a single end. They were not engaged in a struggle for “sovereignty,” a concept that had yet to be invented; instead, they actively promoted each other’s power as a means toward their common end…

“Even a short time ago—with the ascendancy of the “religious right” in the Reagan and Bush years—it was plausible to argue that the separation of church and state was good for religion. The accelerating pace of secularization manifested, for instance, in the legalization of homosexual marriage [and, I would add, an increasingly militant atheism making an ever-larger noise in the public square] makes that position much less plausible today. Before Church and State offers an alternative vision, a vision that could be realized only by a profound and fundamental transformation of the whole of our society. I am convinced that in working toward such a transformation, we have nothing to lose.”

Author: The Anglophilic Anglican

I am an ordained Anglican clergyman, published writer, former op-ed columnist, and experienced outdoor and informal educator. I am also a traditionalist: religiously, philosophically, politically, and socially. I seek to do my bit to promote and restore the Good, the True, and the Beautiful, in a world which has too-often lost touch with all three, and to help re-weave the connections between God, Nature, and humankind which our techno-industrial civilization has strained and broken.

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