Winter Lent

We are now a week or so into the season of “Winter Lent,” Fr. Thomas Hopko’s felicitous name for the Nativity fast. For Eastern Christians (Orthodox, Oriental, and Eastern Catholics), the Nativity Fast is pretty much the same thing as Great Lent: forty days of fasting leading up to the Nativity Feast (Christmas). I am enough of a romantic (and born and raised northerner) that it doesn’t feel like the Nativity Fast until it looks like winter outside. Today is our first real snow of the season. (The picture accompanying this essay is from the window I look out while typing away.) With snow on the ground, my mind is finally beginning to turn toward Winter Lent.

In the Latin and Protestant West, Advent focuses on preparation for the coming of Christ. The Sunday before Advent is all fire and fury, with the readings about the Second Coming, the Judgment, and the end of the world. The four Sundays of Advent then focus on preparation for Christ coming into the world as we prepare to celebrate his First Coming.

While this sense of preparation for Christ’s coming is certainly present in the Nativity Fast, there is another element that plays a major role: giving. The theme of giving certainly centers around the gift of Jesus Christ, offered to us by the Father. But while Christ is central, the imagery and thematic content is then rounded out with a focus on the gifts of the Magi, which are also celebrated at Nativity. (The Magi are not celebrated until Epiphany—twelve days later—in the West.)

Watching a schmaltzy and saccharine seasonal advert foisted upon the television watching public by Apple, I was reminded how the whole concept of giving has been largely emptied of content in contemporary culture. It is a promotion of the god of consumerism, all dressed up in a Christmas-y costume that I find to be at best banal, but in my secret heart of hearts, to be rather repulsive. The advert is a metaphor for how God’s chrism of grace (that quietly insists on a response!) has been transmogrified into a world of presents, decorations, parties, and no doubt a bit of wassail or rum punch consumed to dull the ache of emptiness that lingers in this dark and cold season. … But enough Grinch-iness, let’s ponder what giving truly means in these darkening and joyous days of Winter Lent.

The Magi brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. All three give us glimpses into the true meaning of giving. Gold relates most closely to our contemporary practice of giving gifts. Giving gold costs the giver something significant. Such a gift requires a commitment the giver has to the receiver. Just as the incarnation was terribly costly to God, so our response back to God is costly to us. Gold also represents permanence. It’s a reminder that Christian giving (not just of wealth, but of time, and emotional sharing) is not just a Christmas thing, but something defines who we are and ought to be year round as Christians.

Frankincense (a particularly expensive form of incense) symbolizes prayer. “Let my prayer arise before you as incense” (Ps. 141:2). If gold is a symbol of giving, then incense is a symbol of fellowship or communion. I remember my father inviting a drunk to dinner one night. My mother was furious. The dinner was uncomfortable. The guy spent all of his money on booze and needed something to eat. Dad could have bought him a hamburger and sent him on his way. Instead he brought him into our home. Buying him a hamburger would fall under the category of gold. And that would be a worthy gift. Bringing him into our home took that act of charity up to the level of incense. It was an attempt, not only to give, but to connect in the very act of giving. Authentic giving almost always has facets of this sort of connection and fellowship and Frankincense is a reminder that we need to be intentional about this connections.

Myrrh was used, among other things, for anointing the dead. It is both a fragrance and a preservative. The Magi’s gift of myrrh pointed toward Jesus Christ’s death. And this is truly where the rub is when it comes to giving. Authentic giving is not only costly, it empties us. Other people resent givers. Other people take advantage of givers. Give too much without protections in place and it leads to death.

But this last gift is not a call for purposeless martyrdom, it is rather a snapshot of the deepest mystery of the Christian life. Just as Christ sacrificed his life on our behalf so that we could enter into fellowship with God, so we are called to to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God (Rom 12:1-2). The mystery of giving is that if it is halfhearted, it is all for naught. Giving is an all-in sort of proposition. And as unpleasant as that sounds, it turns our that when we do this, true fulfillment and joy results.

Presents under the tree, secret santas, dropping a few coins in the bell ringers kettle can all point us in the direction of authentic Christian giving and the essence of Winter Lent. But those things can also become substitutes, giving us a momentary sense of goodwill, but helping us avoid the bigger question of giving. So during this season, the challenge is not to settle for the trinkets, but use them as a springboard to the real thing: kneeling before God’s gift to us with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

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Objective Truth, the Living Word, and Divine Wisdom

The blog has been silent for a while because I’ve been busy working on a much larger project related to 1 & 2 Corinthians. One of the preliminary “aha” items is Paul’s description of divine power (which Paul says looks like human weakness) and divine wisdom (which is foolishness). What has struck me most powerfully is Paul’s conception of wisdom (a term he uses in much the same manner that we would use “truth”) as personal rather than objective. I’ll circle back to this in a moment.

Brenda and I just finished listening to The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings, by Philip Zaleski and Carol Zaleski. They spend quite a bit of time on Lewis’s Riddell Memorial Lectures in 1943. He was disturbed by the subjectivism that had crept into both theological and philosophical thought. “For Lewis it was a chance to defend against relativizing trends in education, philosophy, and literary criticism. The reality of the universal moral code inherent in all human beings.”

Lewis held objectivity in high regard. In The Abolition of Man (the book form of the Riddell Lectures), he goes to great length to establish a universal, objective foundation of all truth, and especially for a moral code. Lewis’ argument in The Abolition of Man is no longer compelling and the book seems a little silly now. What surprised me is, according to the Zaleskis, it was not particularly compelling in the 1940s either. It was received warmly by those who already agreed with Lewis but was skewered by his critics.

While listening to ch. 13 of The Fellowship, the argument Paul develops in 1 Corinthians kept coming to mind. According to Paul, objective truth is never very objective because our frame of reference is limited by our own limitations. Even Reformed and Lutheran churches, who both historically embraced objective truth, disagreed on what that objective truth is. (This illustration comes from my own family, some of whom are Presbyterian Church in America and some of whom are Missouri Synod Lutheran. While I don’t think there have ever been any actual arguments, it is clear that there is more than one set of “objective truth.”)

And this is quite precisely the problem Lewis ran into. I agree wholeheartedly with his contention that the “relativizing trends in education, philosophy, and literary criticism” are quite disturbing, but trying to solve those trends with an appeal to some sort of objectivity is bound to fail. This is using one form of human wisdom to combat a different form of human wisdom.

In sharp contrast to this attempt to find objective truth, Paul opts for what I would call “personal truth.” I hesitate to use the term because it can be misconstrued to mean, “My truth is mine while yours is yours, and my true and your truth may be different.” This misconstrual is precisely what C.S. Lewis was responding to in his Riddell lectures. In 1 Cor. 1:4f, Paul says that his preaching was not “with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power.” The foundation is not intellectual nor is it “objective truth” as that term is used in the context of reason. Rather the foundation is divine “power” which is inseparable from divine presence, or more specifically, to the divine persons.

Given my Presbyterian training, all of this reminds me of Karl Barth, who struggled with the same issues as C.S. Lewis. Barth rejected the possibility of competing truths, but didn’t seek objective truth in the manner Lewis did, largely because he recognized that any truth that a human perceives cannot be truly objective, given our sinful proclivity to perceive things with an aim to our own advantage. Lewis’s claim for objective truth, would lead to nothing other than a shouting match of competing truth claims.

Barth viewed the problem with 1 Corinthians in mind, but he also shaped his answer along the lines of Kierkegaardian Existentialism. (Ah, that proclivity to perceive things, not as they truly are, but to our own advantage.) Barth believed the earthly locus of divine truth was in the “preaching event,” which he described in sacramental terms. (Barth himself rejected this comparison, but in retrospect he is clearly using eucharistic language but translated into his existential framework.) Scripture is a “witness to the Word,” “the Word” itself being the Second Person of the Trinity. But the Living Word is enfleshed (although at this point Barth uses the word “encountered”) in the “preaching event,” where Christ crucified is made real to the people of God.

What Barth picks up from Paul, which is in stark contrast to the scholastic Protestantism of his day is that divine wisdom and power cannot be found in scripture itself, but only in the encounter with Jesus Christ, the Living Word, through the Holy Spirit. Barth was suspicious of mysticism and he no doubt would have rejected the idea that we could have the same sort of intense experience today that Paul had. (The Orthodox Church, by the way, does believe that this sort of “pneumatical experience” is an ongoing part of the life of the church.) In spite of his suspicions, he describes a process that is more closely aligned with historic Orthodoxy than with scholastic Protestantism. Being a careful biblical scholar and fluent in antique Christian writings, this should be no surprise.

As I talk to others (who are Protestants) about this, they are politely horrified. The idea of jettisoning objective truth is tantamount to turning my back on the whole Christian program. Evangelicals had a similar reaction to Barth’s “the preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God” aphorism, so this reaction doesn’t surprise me. But is objectivity actually what we want? We are not scientists of faith after all, we are creatures seeking proper relationship with the living God. Working with 1 Corinthians, I have been struck powerfully by the danger of relying on human wisdom, which guts divine truth of its wisdom and power. I have also been struck that the divine path to which Paul calls us will be perceived as weakness and foolishness.

Cultural Imperialism

I’ve picked up Owen Barfield’s Saving the Appearances again after being reminded of it. Just ran across this gem on pp 28f.

The earlier anthropologists assumed as a matter of course that the primitive peoples who still survive in various parts of the earth perceive and think in the same way as we do–but that they think incorrectly.

Ah yes, we Western folk with all our science and technology are the ones who know how to think corretly.

Ah yes, we Western folk with our atomic bombs, chemical weapons, and island intern camps are the ones who know how to think correctly.

It’s such a comforting thought.

Michael Sauter Article

I almost didn’t read the article because I’m not interested in yet another analysis of Jordan Peterson. But, hey, it’s Front Porch Republic, so I gave it a shot. Turns out that this isn’t so much about either Peterson or Sam Harris, but rather about the dangers of utility and the need for solicitude.

https://www.frontporchrepublic.com/2018/08/jordan-peterson-sam-harris-and-the-problem-of-bigness/

I also highly recommend the Own Barfield book Sauter mentions, “Saving the Appearances.”

Finding Nobility rather than Tragedy

There are two old men who smoke cigars every other week, early afternoon, at the Dublin House, where I am a member and go to smoke my pipe. When they come one wears various bits of northern Civil War garb while the other wears southern bits. There they sit, blue and grey, smoking cigars, and talking just a bit too loudly about the nobility of that War and, in particular, the nobility of the southern stand against the northern aggressors.

Racism is an overused word and I certainly resist the temptation to call them racist (they’re more likely merely ignorant, having never been to the south!), but my experience is different. Having lived a couple of blocks from Prospect Ave., the great divide between black and white, in Kansas City, having gone to seminary in Louisville, KY, my first experience with huge, fancy, white private schools built to get around the busing rules, and having spent a year teaching school in Port Gibson, MS, where boycotting white businesses was first experimented with during the 1960s civil rights struggle in the American south, I have a rather different perspective on the war, its causes, and its aftermath.

A few weeks ago, because no one was paying attention to their conversation, in spite of the fact that it was getting louder and louder, the two brothers finally engaged me about my thoughts on that noble chapter in our glorious American history. I had had enough and gave them my frank opinion about the tragedy of the event, the tragedy that has continued to fester ever since, the evil that spawned it (and continues), and their own denial about that particular ongoing chapter in our history, and thus their unwitting participation in that evil.

No doubt they had heard it all be for and even said, “God bless you,” on my way out the door. I found I was disgusted by their righteousness and nobility that whitewashed the tomb of racism that still stinks to high heaven down south of the Mason Dixon line and across the country as well.

I don’t claim to be innocent. I grew up in Montana with Indian reservations all around me, so the racism I am blind to tends to be toward the Native Americans and not the African Americans.

One of the momentous events in the version of Native American history I was taught practically passed by the house where I spent most of my young life. The story I learned in school was one of grit and glory, the Nez Perce helping various groups of western bound white settlers along the way even as they outwitted the five armies chasing them. General George Custer supposedly called Chief Joseph, “the greatest living Indian” at one point. Most of the Nez Perce considered him a coward, an opportunist, and merely the last man standing.

Yep, it’s a complicated history, so I just started reading Kent Nerburn’s book, “Chief Joseph & the Flight of the Nez Perce.” In the introduction he says, “A fine story, full of pathos and nobility and all the poignancy of the American Indian struggle.

A fine story, but false. Or, to be more accurate, only half true. The real story, the true story, is every bit as poignant and every bit as dramatic. But it is obscured by the myth because the myth is so powerful and so perfectly suited to our American need to find nobility rather than tragedy in our past.

Seeking nobility rather than tragedy … I was immediately reminded of the cigar-smoking brothers. Not all tragedies are noble. And in the case of both the American Indians and the African Americans, not all tragedies are in the past.

Forgetting to Look Up

The world has lost its bearings. Not that ideologies are lacking, to give directions: only that they lead nowhere. People are going round in circles in the cage of their planet, because they have forgotten that they can look up to the sky

and

Because all we want is to live, it has become impossible for us to live.

Eugene Ionesco, Romanian/French playwright, speaking at the 1972 Salzburg Festival.

That last bit would have been more appropriate to post on Mardi Gras, given what has become of the beginning of Lent in our culture. But I posted it now because Ionesco rather misses the point.

Lot’s of us look up, but there’s nothing to see and nowhere to go except the vast emptiness with the occasional star in between. Because of the blindness of sin, we not only fail to see, we are incapable of seeing—truly seeing—the Creator in creation.

No, Ionesco is mistaken, we need not bother looking all the way to the sky. We should rather humbly limit our upward gaze only as high as the cross.  From it we learn that death to self is more blessed than living to live, for in this particular path of death lies the possibility of truly living and the fullness of life.

Have a blessed Holy Week.

The Gospel of Joshua

It’s been a long time since I read Joshua. Given it’s horrific violence, it doesn’t show up in many devotional reading lists, so it may be a while since you’ve read it too. The story line centers on the genocide of the local residents so God’s people can have the land. (Not a story that matches our modern sensibilities.) And yet Joshua, the leader of this merry band of pirates, has long been considered a type of Christ.

For this to make sense we must remember that the ancient church didn’t venerate the book because it was history. This is not to say that they didn’t believe the book to be true. The fact that we tend to equate truth and history says a lot more about our distorted and reductionist modern sensibilities than it says about the ancient church. They no doubt would have found our tendency to reduce “truth” to these tiny little boxes (scientific method, historical method, textual criticism, empirical evidence, etc.) bewildering. So it is indeed the case that for most of history the church has considered Joshua to be primarily a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ. (They even share a name, Joshua being a Semitic form and Jesus being a Greek form of the same name.) Just as Joshua cleansed the Land of evil, so Christ cleanses us of evil. Just as Joshua led the people from wandering into the promised rest, so Christ does the same thing.

Joshua not only foreshadows Christ, the book shows us something of what the church should be. We need to have a “take no prisoners” attitude toward our corrupted nature and thinking, our mixed loyalties, and our fondness for our culture. Every time Joshua and the army compromised on the “take no prisoners” policy, things started going bad. This, according to the tradition, is the picture of our Christian life. Any sort of compromise will eventually lead to some sort of failure or downfall.

Aside from these two traditional themes, there is something else to be learned from Joshua: God seems quite comfortable being the God of really nasty and not nice people. And I’ll go one step farther. God is far more comfortable with really nasty and not nice people than we are. My perspective might be shaped by the congregations I served, which were mostly aging, midwestern, and quite proper socially, but I think it is true of American Christianity in general that we tend to conflate manners, niceness, and social acceptance with Christian maturity. We tend to confuse business acumen with wisdom. In the language of Joshua, we’re less interested in taking the Promised Land of our soul and more interested in letting Christ move in next door … as long as he’s a nice and polite neighbor.

One of the dangers of our sensibility is that it tends to blind us to our own nasty-and-not-niceness. As long as everyone stays polite and fits in with the religious culture, we tend not to be self-critical. This is one of the few “blessings” of radical Islam. They can see our failures to which we are blind. They look at the Western churches that reside fairly comfortably in Western consumer culture, and what they see is the corruption. They are horrified and are pretty sure that a real god would have no interest in being the god of infidels like us.

But it is precisely at this point that the divine grace of God’s eternal covenant reveals itself. It turns out that we have more in common with Joshua and his merry band of pirates than we’re comfortable admitting. Amazingly, in spite of the denial of our own predicament, God remains faithful to his covenant people “to the thousandth generation” (see previous post). This overwhelming reality of divine grace then gives us the space to safely admit that we have failed spectacularly. And this is the first step to true repentance and the process of rooting out all that is evil in the Promised Land of our souls.

I think I’ll call it “The Gospel of Joshua.”

 

Liberty and Freedom and Gun Rights

In the previous essay I argued that rights are not “endowed by the Creator.” Rather, liberty is “endowed by the Creator,” and in turn, there are a pair of dependent principles that grow out of liberty: rights and responsibilities. The consequence of liberty is that I have rights for myself and responsibilities for others.

The second thing that I emphasized in the previous essay is that while liberty is a natural endowment, in the context of civic life and the political systems that organize and protect civic life, rights are granted by the government (in contrast to liberty, which is endowed by the Creator). This might seem harsh and authoritarian, given the libertarian sensibilities that have permeated our society in the last twenty years, but the logic is inescapable. There must be some arbiter when rights and desires come in conflict. According to the American founding documents, the arbiters are the local governments or the Federal government.

It is within this broad context of human liberty and the dependent principles of rights and responsibilities that gun rights must be considered. No right is absolute including the right to life. To clarify this claim, the governments (both federal and state) have the authority of capital punishment in the case of heinous crimes. When chaos breaks out (murder, for instance) governments have the authority to revoke certain rights (such as the life of the murderer) in order to restore the peace.

For reasons not related to guns, our society has become more chaotic. Furthermore, public violence planned as spectacle is rising dramatically. Statistics indicate mass killings are always premeditated, but there are also a complex set of causes. Often mental illness is involved. On occasion these are crimes of passion that affected bystanders get caught up in. At times they are simply cold blooded. In other words, guns are typically the proximate cause rather than the direct cause of mass murders or mass attempted murders. On this point defenders of gun rights are correct.

No matter the direct or proximate causes, it remains the task of government to keep order, and given the trend and the societal effects of gun violence as spectacle, there is a great deal of logic for the government to more heavily regulate firearms. Furthermore, if this is indeed a situation where the chaos that results from the misuse of the freedom is growing out of control, the citizens have responsibilities (in counter-balance to their rights) to cooperate.

Finally, I want to address Christians specifically in this matter because we have something to offer that is mostly missing from the Enlightenment and, in turn, the American founding documents. The Enlightenment was weak on the idea that part of that which defines us as persons is our interrelationships. Consequently, the Founding Fathers were weak on the idea of our responsibility for others. (Remember the Declaration and Constitution are both compromise documents. Deists, who strongly preferred Locke’s original language of life and liberty endowed by nature ended up having to compromise with the Christians and change that classic Enlightenment language to life and liberty endowed by nature to life and liberty endowed by the Creator. In turn, the Christians had to compromise on the doctrine of the person and settle for the idea of the isolated but self-sustaining individual (“I think, therefore I am”). By downplaying the Christian doctrine of personhood and emphasizing the Enlightenment idea of individuality, the foundations for responsibility were undermined.

Christians who have only a rudimentary knowledge of the Christian faith should understand that to be human is to be in relationship. But given the constant emphasis on our individuality, it is easy to forget (even for Christians) that individuality stands in contradiction to the Christian doctrine of relationship. Christian teaching is not that we are individuals in the Enlightenment sense, but persons—entities that are both distinct from others while being unavoidably connected to them. It is therefore a task of Christians to highlight our internectedness and the manner in which responsibilities and rights are restored as the two sides of liberty.

It’s high time that we Christians reject the anti-Christian mantra of “Rights! Rights! Give me my Rights!” and with repentance and humility take up the burden of responsibilities of citizenship. Given the extensive infrastructure of checks and balances constitutionally built into the American government, giving up one right because it is the responsible thing to do will not inevitably lead to a spiral into authoritarianism. There are several areas where authoritarianism is growing that have nothing to do with gun rights. As Christians we need to stand up against authoritarianism where it actually exists and abandon the straw man (dare I say “idol”?) of gun rights as the supposed inevitable precursor to authoritarianism.

 

Liberty and Freedom

In Enlightenment political theory (this is the political theory that is foundational to the American Declaration of Independence and Constitution) the two primary natural “endowments” are life and liberty (and yes, the Declaration adds Happiness, but that’s another story). Given the history of American jurisprudence, the most appropriate definition of liberty is “the right to speak and act without constraint.” Freedom is the application of this natural liberty in various facets of civic life.

It has been generations since we’ve experience true chaos in America, so now one might think that the purpose of government is to do stuff for us. But in the context of the above natural endowments, the purpose of government is to maintain order and keep chaos at bay. The endowment of liberty can only be expressed through freedom in an orderly society relatively free of threats. It’s this orderly society that government seeks to maintain. In the decade of the 1770s the threat to freedom was not the misdeeds of the citizenry but rather the influence of England. It is not surprising then that the Founding Fathers spoke little of the internal conditions that made freedom possible and spoke a lot about external threats to freedom. But according to their practice it seems they believed freedom was only possible if the citizens were educated, civically responsible and involved.

Because the responsibilities of the citizenry was not a primary topic, I want to get at that subject through a far more mundane avenue: children. On various occasions I have heard parents with more than one child talk about the difference between kids. The one is responsible and the parents can let the responsible child borrow the car and stay out until midnight without many worries. The other is far less responsible and as a result far more restrictions about the use of the car or going to a friend’s house for the evening are required. The parents’ attitudes about freedom remain consistent, but differing levels of responsibility lead to differing levels of freedom. Lack of freedom is not the parents’ fault, it’s the irresponsible child’s fault.

Freedom may also need to be curtailed because of the company we keep. As a grade schooler my son was very responsible and we allowed him a great deal of freedom to roam and come and go as he pleased. Then we moved and our son made a new friend who turned out to be a great kid, but who initially appeared to be a wild child. Until we understood the friendship better, our son’s freedom was severely curtailed, not because of his character or actions, but because of the friends he had.

Civic life is similar. Liberty is the naturally endowed right and freedom is granted to the extent that the populace embodies liberty or, to say it another way, is responsible enough to handle freedom without creating chaos. Furthermore, this is not only a matter of individual character. Freedom is the fruit of all (or the majority) of the citizenry having the character and being responsible in a manner that allows a measure of freedom to be granted without it leading to chaos. Just because I am capable of handling freedom responsibly, it does not necessarily follow that the society in which I live can do this. To a large extent my freedom is determined by “the company I keep.”

As I said above, in the United States we have had a remarkable measure of freedom with few ill effects for so many generations that we forget freedom is not a right. We have been relatively free throughout our history, not only because of the Constitution, but primarily because the country was not in chaos…well, except for the wild west. Although the the so-called Indian Wars are a terrible blot on our history, they are instructive at this point. Both the west-bound settlers and the federal government believed that the west was too chaotic to be governed. For the sake of argument we will accept the government’s conclusion that the problem was not the national policies about settlement of the west and was instead the Native Americans themselves. Because of this, the government practiced a policy of imprisonment, forced relocation, and killing. The Native Americans lost their freedom because they and their situation was deemed too chaotic to be governable. Even though they were endowed with natural liberty, the government was not able to grant them the consequent freedom because of their actions. (And yes, there are more facets to this tragedy, including the question of whether they were human, but for this essay I am limiting myself specifically to the question of naturally endowed liberty.) Even though this chapter in history was horrendous from my contemporary perspective, it was acceptable to the citizenry because they understood at a deep level the proper relationship between liberty, which is naturally endowed, and freedom, which is granted by the government to the degree that chaos does not ensue.

The above example reminds us that as compelling as the ideas expressed in the founding documents are, the execution of these ideas is always messy and far from perfect. Legal slavery, North America’s relation to the native population (in both the U.S. and Canada), the U.S. policy toward Japanese, and to a lesser extent, German citizens during WWII are all historic examples where the proper understanding of liberty and freedom and the identification of the core problem were handled badly. There are many contemporary examples, but because of differing beliefs and sensibilities it’s far harder to nail down either the truth or the proper direction forward without the benefit of historical clarity. (This would include ideas as disparate as immigrant rights, LGBT issues, and internet freedom.) Because I am a political conservative and because on the issue of gun rights I fundamentally differ from many, if not most, other conservatives, I will explore gun rights in the context of liberty and freedom further in the next essay.

Hayek on Social Justice

When I read this I had an aha moment. It summarizes very well one of my discomforts with social justice.

Social Justice makes sense as a political ideal within a closed community of like-minded people but cannot coherently be pursued across an abstract order of people who interact with and relate to one another not because they share particular deep ethical commitments but in spite of the fact that they do not

Quote is a summary of Friedrich Hayek’s view of social justice by LSE professor Chandran Kukathas, in the book, Law, Liberty and State: Oakeshott, Hayek and Schmitt on the Rule of Law (David Dyzenhaus and Thomas Poole, eds., Cambridge, 2015), p. 289. It was Kenneth McIntyre’s review in the Anamnesis Journal that pointed me in the direction of this fine volume.