“For decades, an ecumenical alliance of orthodox Christians has rallied around the consensus that both liberal democracy and the Church flourish best when government is smaller, and that free market works with, rather than against the imperative of human dignity. Recently, however, this conventional wisdom has been called into question by new voices who suggest that capitalism may have, in retrospect, been eating its way through the heart of common culture – which Johann Herder once defined as ‘the lifeblood of a people, the flow of moral energy that keeps a society intact.’
The most notable salvo in this respect has come, to the surprise of some, from R.R. Reno, the distinguished editor of First Things. In a much discussed essay revisiting Michael Novak’s 1990 classic The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, Reno observed, capitalism ‘is our fate – and our problem.’ He went on to advocate a position that sought to revisit the failures of both socialism and the free market.
Some readers were alarmed, including Father Robert Sirico and his colleagues at The Acton Institute – a bellwether organization that promotes free markets moored by religious principles. Others wondered whether or not Reno was giving voice to a coming generation of thinkers who were theologically conservative, but also not sanguine about classical liberalism. Several articles in the Public Discourse have added fuel to the fire.
Realizing the stakes involved in this debate, The King’s College reached out to both Father Sirico and Dr. Reno and asked whether or not they would be willing to appear together in New York City to air out their differences. They said yes.”