I have a piece at the Liberty Fund blog responding to Professor Jesse Merriam, a political theorist of legal conservatism, concerning the prospects and obstacles for a new legal conservative fusionism (historically, “fusion” was the term used to describe the coming together of libertarian and traditionalist streams of thought in post-War American politics, as described by Frank Meyer, Brent Bozell, and others). Some of the piece is diagnostic, but there is an extended section offering a few sketches on various constructive possibilities.
One of the most important consequences of the so-called “Constantinian compromise” in the fourth century was the rise of the monastic movement. Once Christianity became part of the Roman establishment, some believed they could preserve a pure faith only by removing themselves for a life of prayer in the desert. The movement was especially influential in Roman Egypt–where Coptic monasteries continue to thrive, under great stress and threat of violence, today. Next month, Cambridge releases a translation of the works of one of the fathers of Coptic monasticism, Selected Discourses of Shenoute the Great: Community, Theology, and Social Conflict in Late Antique Egypt. The translators are David Brake (Ohio State) and Andrew Crislip (Virginia Commonwealth University). Here is the description from the Cambridge website:
Shenoute the Great (c.347–465) led one of the largest Christian monastic communities in late antique Egypt and was the greatest native writer of Coptic in history. For approximately eight decades, Shenoute led a federation of three monasteries and emerged as a Christian leader. His public sermons attracted crowds of clergy, monks, and lay people; he advised military and government officials; he worked to ensure that his followers would be faithful to orthodox Christian teaching; and he vigorously and violently opposed paganism and the oppressive treatment of the poor by the rich. This volume presents in translation a selection of his sermons and other orations. These works grant us access to the theology, rhetoric, moral teachings, spirituality, and social agenda of a powerful Christian leader during a period of great religious and social change in the later Roman Empire.
Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:
- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hosted the second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom from Wednesday to Friday this week, working to promote durable and positive change for religious freedom in the world.
- The Pew Research Center released its tenth annual report discussing social hostility and government restrictions related to religion in 198 countries and territories around the world.
- The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued a McDonald’s franchise for religious discrimination because McDonald’s grooming policy requires all employees to be clean-shaven and the franchise refused to accommodate a Hasidic Jew who applied for a maintenance position.
- A Minnesota district court dismissed harassment charges that were filed against the Christian Action League of Minnesota, several months after the organization received a temporary harassment restraining order; the Thomas More Society plans to challenge the constitutionality of the Minnesota statute that allowed the restraining order on the basis of “unwanted words.”