Tuesday, April 17, 2007

AFB Book Review

I just finished Rodney Stark's excellent The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success, and I recommend it without reservation.

From the jacket summary: "...Stark advances a revolutionary, controversial, and long overdue idea: that Christianity and its related institutions are, in fact, directly responsible for the most significant intellectual, political, scientific, and economic breakthroughs of the past millennium."

And might I say he does a masterful job of debunking several myths along the way to clearly supporting this theory.

Some of my favorite parts of the book? In assessing the rise of free market economics in the Italian city-states (P. 84), he asserts that "relatively democratic regimes" are a "necessary precondition for the development of capitalism."

He devotes some considerable space to the idea of "religious economy" (P. 198). He describes a "market" of current and potential adherents, organizations seeking to attract or retain adherents and how this dynamic has an economic aspect to it. An interesting historical perspective exists when one considers state churches as "monopolies" and how this affected cultural developments - like any monopoly, firms become lazy and inefficient.

Lastly, he quotes a book by David Aikman (P. 235) to illustrate "that Christianity remains an essential element in the globalization of modernity." The conclusion itself delivers this message powerfully in the words of a leading Chinese scholar who spent years studying the West: it is our religion that is the heart and soul of our culture, and the foundation of our success.

Amen to that.

3 comments:

Call Me Mom said...

Looks like an interesting book, AH.

Say, is it just me or is it a tad lonely here lately?

The Monarchist said...

Mom,

Yeah, you know, I was beginning to think it was something I said...

Nah, people get busy, it happens. But I sure do appreciate the company!

-AH

P.S. If it doesn't pick up eventually, though, maybe I'll just copy the book a chapter at a time for your enjoyment!

P.P.S. I was also wondering why my back's been acting up and you just helped me realize it's because I've been CARRYING WEBSTER AND ADAMS FOR SOME TIME NOW! LOL, if that doesn't get a rise out of somebody, then I don't know what will.

Call Me Mom said...

Lol, I hope to see something from them posted here pretty quick with that last comment---if only to offer you a chair. :)