March 10, 2011

The Origins of a Promise

I forget exactly how Christopher Ferrara learned of my Austro-libertarian views, but do remember his buttonholing me during the intermission of a talk we had attended and his subsequent e-mails in which he tried to draw me into an argument over the just wage.  After a few exasperating attempts on my part to make sense of his complaint, I begged off with the promise to review any book that might result from his series of articles. (After several attempts to write a review of normal proportions, I realized that no brief essay could do justice to Mr. Ferrara's product, and justice is what it richly deserves.  Thus this out-sized, blog-length scrutiny.)
Our encounter occurred shortly before the appearance of my review of Thomas Woods’ The Church and the Market, near the end of which I wrote:

My repeated references in this review to “seven consecutive popes” reflect a recent conversation with a Catholic critic of Austrianism [i.e., Christopher Ferrara]. He used that phrase several times as if to underscore its centrality to his case against Catholic free-market defenders like Woods. As I mentioned, we are not going to find popes handicapping sporting events. And when it comes to faith and morals, it would not take seven but only one pope speaking ex cathedra to bind a Catholic’s conscience. If it does not pertain to those matters, if it is instead about, say, music, architecture, or economics, then not even the considered opinions of 265 consecutive popes, in themselves, would suffice to bind it. Especially ironic about this critic’s line of argument was its sharp contrast with his powerful defense, delivered in a lecture just before he and I chatted, of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre’s 1988 consecration of bishops without the Pope’s explicit permission (and arguably against his wishes). According to this critic, therefore, a faithful Catholic may withstand Paul VI to his face on Novus Ordo Missae, but not on the living wage, or John Paul II on episcopal consecration, but not on “consumerism.”  “A Profound Philosophical Commonality,” April 23, 2005.
But since Mr. Ferrara managed to write a book on the Catholic reception of Austro-libertarianism without evaluating the writings of James A. Sadowsky, S.J., it is a small matter for him to have overlooked me.  More on Father Sadowsky presently.
Since he initiated email correspondence with me, and since I subsequently (but long before he completed TCATL) praised both Woods and Lord Acton on, I wonder why Mr. Ferrara declined to treat me as one of the usual suspects.  (See also my “Lord Acton: Libertarian Hero,” April 4, 2006. )