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As a practicing Catholic christian AND as a card-carrying small-government capitalist, I especially appreciate your points regarding the influence of the Church on matters usually (and often incorrectly) viewed as narrowly secular.

My only complaint about your post is that now the stack of books next to my chair will grow by two or three, since the titles you cite are, at least to me, irresistible. One day, I fear, said stack will likely topple over and crush me since it is growing much faster than I can read - though my time available for reading has recently been enlarged. I fell and broke a hip a couple of weeks ago, and though I am doing really well, I do seem now to spend more time in one spot, so to speak. Maybe I can get a little bit caught up!

Thanks for your continued thoughtful and timely posts. Many of we "inter-nuts" just spend our time cursing the darkness, where you seem mostly to search for light. Kudos.

What a horrible message: a broken hip, not exactly a trifling matter. Get well soon, Ed. Or rather: get well properly, and if it takes time, so be it. Just get well. My slipped disc has taken two years to heal.

I retain from my Catholic upbringing a strong sense of respect and gratitude toward the Catholic personalities and institutions that have been formative to me.

Recently, I was writing a part of the book I am working on that deals with anti-commercial traditions in the West. It was inevitable to take a look at anti-commercial Christian positions, too, and there are lots of them throughout history. But I am eager to see the full picture, and though anti-commercial views may be preponderant, to this day, I always knew, however, a little too vaguely unfortunately, that Christianity has made very important contributions to the development of freedom and free markets. It is impossible for me to catch up with all the literature supporting this view in the little time I have; the happier I was to chance on these two sources that provide significant evidence for the indispensable role of Christendom in the rise of freedom in the West.

The pragmatic ambitions of the Roman church first for survival, then for growth and finally for power, it seems indubitable to me, have contributed most vitally to the competitive environment for societal forces that were to give the West its edge eventually over monolithic societies (India, China, notably) where the state had everything under control, being able to stifle fruitful social experiments, like the church-state.

I am far from taking an uncritical view of the Roman church, but I am also sick and tired of the crude anti-ecclesiastic stock views that are so hip today, probably even more in Europe than America.

I am glad and thankful (to my parents and educators) to have been brought up a Catholic, and I am curious to find out why I feel this allegiance.

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