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Re: A Theology of Freedom


Rich, the President could do worse than to take a look at European history.  In very broad strokes, and granting that the developments overlapped, European history after the fall of Rome goes something like this:

  • The struggle to establish order—that is, the effort to contain and regularize violence.  Countless struggles, warlord on warlord, took place during the emergence of the feudal order—and I’d place emphasis on that word, order.
  • The emergence of the rule of law, including a delineation of property rights.  Magna Carta is the outstanding example here, of course, but an enormous amount of medieval history represented jostling over who owned what.
  • The appearance of certain economic freedoms:  the rise of the towns as centers of trade and enterprise, including the development of banking—that is, of reasonably sophisticated systems of exchange
  • Last, the rise of democracy.  In Britain, Parliament didn’t dominate domestic policy until the Revolution of 1688, foreign policy until a good century or more later.  In France, the crown retained absolute power until 1789, after which absolute power simply transferred to the Directory, then to Napoleon.  In Germany, of course, democracy never really took root until after the Second World War.  And in Spain, Generalissimo Franco was still running the show until his death in 1975.

The point?  That even in our own civilization, democracy represents a very, very recent achievement—and that it seems only fair to suppose the Iraqis want a semblance of order and economic opportunity a lot more than they want any particular set of voting rights.  The Almighty may indeed have given each of us a yearning for freedom, just as the President says; but He gave us certain prior yearnings as well–including the yearnings to provide for our families in peace.


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