Polemics & Exchanges: February 2023

The Calvin Influence

On the Stephen Wolfe article, “Christian Nationalism—A Protestant View,” I would raise the argument that it is, more precisely, a John Calvin argument within Protestantism, advocating that we seek grace by pursuing our individual callings and do well so that we can then do good, thereby, for the first time, modifying the formerly-held feudal notion of work being solely the task of the Third Estate, the peasantry, and beneath the dignity of the First Estate (the Church) or the Second Estate (the nobility) and instead ascribing recognition, admiration, and dignity to those who follow their callings to pursue enterprise, invention, and effort as members of the then-new prosperity-seeking bourgeoisie in the then-fairly-new cities of Northern Europe.

Such certainly wasn’t the view of the early Church, as illustrated by such biblical quotations as those in Luke 18: “sell everything you have and give to the poor,” and “how hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God,” and arguably, it was more the view of the Reformation’s John Calvin. For example, it was such authors as Alister McGrath, who wrote that “work was seen as an activity which by which Christians could deepen their faith”—which could fairly be simplified to “do well so that you can do good”—who most significantly changed popular attitudes towards the then-new bourgeoisie composed almost entirely of escaped serfs and villeins, leaving baronial control for personal entrepreneurship and enterprise in the then-unclaimed lands beyond baronial and royal control.

This pattern had begun to emerge in Northwestern Europe long before Calvin—the Hanseatic League for “international” shipping by merchants, craftsman guilds, and market towns was founded in the late 12th century. It was Calvin’s contribution to the Protestant ethic in the 15th century that arguably did more than any other theological voice to stimulate the economic, technical, and even governmental changes that became the Industrial Revolution. That revolution in turn eventually helped the English commoner to escape to New England in the 17th century and to create, in the 18th century, the United States as a new nation, where religion was to be distanced from governance and the free-enterprise ethic would thrive. It was—and we did.

—Martin Harris
Jonesborough, Tenn.

Crossing the Rubicon

Dear sir, When I started to read Pedro Gonzalez’s column, “A Conspiracy Against the People,” in the October issue of Chronicles, I noticed the image of Caesar “Crossing the Rubicon” on the article’s second page. It immediately brought to my mind the logo for Foreign Affairs, the flagship journal of the Council on Foreign Relations, a group that is effectively the United States’ shadow government. Indeed, when I had to plow through magazines that were blocking the three issues of Chronicles on the rack of the Barnes & Noble where I picked up the October issue, I saw Foreign Affairs, opened the front cover, and saw the logo on the contents page of a naked man riding a horse, waving up at the sky. The similarities with Caesar riding his white horse are quite remarkable.

Mr. Gonzalez claims that we’re in the late days of the U.S. empire, and I hope and pray he’s right. He amply describes the corrupt empire in Washington and many of its dirty deeds, like the FBI having become “the muscle” for Democratic Party campaigns. However, there was a curious omission in the lengthy paragraph on the federal magistrate who signed the warrant for the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago: his name. Why didn’t Mr. Gonzalez identify Bruce Reinhart as the judge who signed that warrant?

And in a later paragraph, Mr. Gonzalez fails to consider what was another large reason, possibly the major reason, why the trio of Wray/Garland/Reinhart raided Trump’s mansion: to get voters to vote Democrat in the midterms. The Democratic Party loves dirty tricks, psychological warfare, and revolutionary theater. The raid certainly didn’t help the image of the party of the previous president. It was obvious street theater, like Cesar Sayoc sending letter bombs (none of which went off) to prominent Democrats, which helped the Dems retake the U.S. House with a 40-seat gain in 2018.

Despite these oversights, Pedro has reminded readers that Washington, D.C. is indeed a conspiracy against the people. The big danger, however, is that most Americans don’t recognize the conspiracy, or actually support it.

—Kenneth Reynolds,
Bronx, N.Y.

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