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Friday Five: Equality and Recovery in Tension

On Fridays we bring you the week’s best from around the web. This week’s collection includes reflections on the Magna Carta 800 years later, Pope Francis’ encyclical, and more.

Magna Carta’s Fruits, 800 Years On Charles C.W. Cooke, National Review

Never in the field of human history has there been a clearer illustration of the maxim “Culture matters” than that which has been provided by the English-speaking peoples and their relationship with Magna Carta Libertatum. On June 15 of this year, we celebrated the 800th anniversary of the signing of the document, and all of the usual platitudes came out in force. What good is our piece of paper now?

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Searching for Purposeby Gracy Olmstead, The American Conservative

If we attempt to find our telos, or end, in work, we will be disappointed. Not because work isn’t important: indeed, the ability to work is fundamental to our nature as human beings. We were made to work. But work is not sufficient for human flourishing: it is only one component of the human soul.

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The Pope’s Encyclical, at Heart, Is About Us, Not Trees and Snail Darters by George Weigel, National Review Online

My particular interest in reading Laudato Si’ is religious and cultural. What does Pope Francis have to say about humanity and the natural world at a moment when incoherence, skepticism, and nihilism dominate Western high culture, and when fanaticisms claiming various divine or quasi-divine warrants wreak havoc from northern Nigeria to the Levant to the Donbas? What does Francis write in this complex and inevitably controversial document that might speak, as a good pastor should, to the flaws in humanity’s understanding of itself today, and that might point us in a more noble direction?

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Acton U: ‘Sentimental Humanitarianism’ Is the Worst Temptation in Our World Today by Elise Amyx, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics

Dr. Samuel Gregg kicked off Acton University on Tuesday night in Grand Rapids with a lecture entitled “Truth, Reason, and the Quest for Equality.” According to him, the worst temptation in a post-modern world that does not trust truth is sentimental humanitarianism. […] While Gregg recognizes that sentimental humanitarianism is rooted in good intentions, he says it’s dangerous because it raises emotions over reason.

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Equality vs. Recovery by Kevin A. Hassett, American Enterprise Institute

Forty years ago, the economist Arthur Okun wrote a seminal book with a self-explanatory title: “Equality and Efficiency: The Big Tradeoff.” America, Okun noted, has a “system of rewards and penalties that is intended to encourage effort and channel it into socially productive activity…. But that pursuit of efficiency necessarily creates inequalities.”

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