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Covenant, Hope and the Human Future

Douglas Knight

Hope is the source of the human future, and covenant is the source of
hope. Humans may hope because, having brought them into relationship
with himself, God hears them and has promised to do so always. As God
speaks to us, and hears from us, so we receive our existence and purpose.
We may live in hope and confidence as we continue to refer to his

Because they are loved and heard by God, humans are persons. The
relationship that God sustains with each and all is the basis on which each
person may be heard and received also by other persons. The love and
covenant of God for man is the medium within which man can receive
man. Within that covenant, man receives the time by which he can wait
for his fellow man, and learn how to judge and value him truly. Each
human may be known only in love and freedom, and thus with patience.

The Church confesses that God is with man, and that man is therefore a
covenantal being, a person in relationship with other persons. Enabled by
God, and within this covenant, man may be with his fellow man. The
Church is that body of people gathered to make public acknowledgement
of this covenant. The Church is the body created by Jesus Christ from the
Gentiles who look forward to reconciliation with the people of Israel as the
united people of God. The worship of the Church is the form of now taken
by the thankfulness of man, and this thanksgiving is made for the sake of
all men and the world as a whole.

Man flourishes as he knows he is loved, and by love is enabled to love and

give himself in service. All communities and societies are entities of love.
Loves aspires to permanence: we desire its growth, not its break down;
love aspire to greater self-control, so that it becomes truer and more

The Church confesses that there is no more fundamental unit than the
individual person. It acknowledges that we are never alone, but always in
company. We must seek one another’s recognition and approval, for we
may, and must, love and wait to receive it. Man is in receipt of the act of
God, and so may look for the future and continuing acts of God. We may

term this a metaphysics of promise and hope, an eschatological ontology.
The Church therefore speaks in hope, indeed, in faith, hope and love. If
man is a creature of covenant he is not merely an individual but also a
creature in relationship, and we may deduce, since he is not yet in
relationship with all his fellows, that relationship with them lies ahead of
him, so he is a creature with more future than past. The society that
receives the Church and receives the character that flow from this
thanksgiving, and the gifts, chief of which is self-control, that flow from it.

Any society may affirm that love and freedom, and thus also patience, is
required for knowledge of any individual person. A society can be
sustained, day-by-day and even for generations, by those who fail to treat
one another as ultimates. But over the long term, the society that refuses
to admit the possibility that man is loved and heard by God, will be unable
to comprehend and sustain the high calling of the individual human being.
Without the concept of person, there is only fate, under which the
particularity and freedom of each individual person is in doubt, and each
individual lives under threat of being absorbed into the whole, with the
result that everything they are and do is in question.

The society that does not acknowledge the covenant of God with man, and
thus does not know that it is loved and sustained by God, will suffer a
crisis of confidence that will from time to time manifest itself as crises,
which may be individually suppressed and mastered. The presence of the
Church to any society represents a gift of the hope of freedom. But the
connection between the presence of the Church and the quotient of
freedom and confident experienced by that society, is not so directly
observable that any society is obliged to recognise it. It is a matter of
faith, which this secures this freedom; nevertheless the connection is
there to be made by the society that is willing. The society that receives
some of this confidence at second-hand from the Church prospers. But
without the Christian understanding of covenant, the default position of
Western society is that man is man is on his own and so fundamentally an
isolated being, and thus one who has create his own purposes, and who
may from time to time, and perhaps also finally, tire of doing so. Only over
the very long term, societies that do not receive the confidence derived
from this covenant may give up not only hope but life, and so disappear.
Societies come and go, but the Church remains.

The Church that confesses that persons are ultimate. It tells us that we are
not alone, self-enclosed monads, but always act before other persons. We
are in company, and that as all other persons are valuable, so their
opinion is valuable too. We are embodied persons, available to one
another through the medium of materiality that creation affords us. The
Church proposes the two doctrines of creation and redemption, which tells
us that the world is created and given to us by God as gift, and as the
medium of our mutual love in freedom for humankind. It is good both in its
thereness, and because it puts us in a social and political world made up
of other people who expect good things of us. The world is a gift, from God
to man, one person to another, so that it may be the source of endless gift
from one man to another and thus the beginning and condition of a
relationship that will continue without limit.

The Church is the assembly of those who by baptism and discipleship
learn the skills of self-judgment, which involves confession, repentance
and asking for forgiveness, by which human autonomy is established.
Society benefits from the community that can repent, receive the
cancellation of debt, and which can hear and speak the truth in critical
self-judgment: it is not enclosed in of resentment and retribution, in which
blame can only ever be given but fault never admitted.

Also fundamental to the concept of hope is the prospect of a new

generation to continue the human race. Our present life is without
meaning if the future turns out to contain no human beings. The future
can only be the human future, the future of persons who receive,
recognise and acknowledge one another, and do so on earth and for the
sake of the earth. Christians are the future-orientated people because they
are the people who wait, for whom, since they are the people summoned,
the future is a real question.

There are therefore two ontologies to which we must refer in what we say
about ourselves. One is an ontology of nature. The world is a heavy and
unyielding place, given and non-negotiable. We are confronted by its brute
materiality, and our every encounter reflects its finitude; there is scarcity,
competition and the hardness of work. We proceed through the world by
accumulating and discarding substance; we proceed through the world by
accumulating the means of life, by arranging the creatures of the world
into nearer or more distant relationship to ourselves, exchanging he less
for the more valuable and so ordering and re-ordering creation. Moderns
regard materiality as so hard that no material thing sticks to us or leaves
any taint on us, so find it difficult to concede that the material world holds
on to us and forms the medium of our every encounter.

In addition to an ontology of nature or createdness, we require an ontology

of charisma. The world is all a matter of appearances, that is, of how
things look, and thus how they look to other people. We demand that
people respond to us and give us their affirmation, for the affirmation we
receive from them gives us the permission we need to go on to new
encounters. We give and receive honour and esteem, approval and
permission, and we give it by exchanging accounts of how the world is.
Because created persons are embodied persons, they are denominated in
terms of both substance and charisma. Modernity divides holds these two
ontologies, of substance and charisma, nature and freedom, apart, so that
each modern appears to be two separate entities, a body and a self. The
Christian faith holds these two ontologies together; it regards nature as a
matter of creation, and relates charisma as a matter that will be
established at the eschaton. They exist in a relationship established by
faith. Christianity knows creation as that which will be redeemed, and
what will be redeemed is creation.

In the Christian account of the human economy, the concept of person is

fundamental. All our media of inter-personal encounter must ultimately be
personal; embodied persons are the media of our encounter with other
embodied persons. The inter-personal medium must itself be personal,
and give us its name and identity if we are to be free in relationship to it.
One person is the source and giver of our economy and the medium of all
our encounter and exchange. Christ is this person. We can name him. We

can do so because he has given us his name. Our freedom to name him is
our freedom to accept or reject him. We are not confronted by him as we
are by nature and mortality. We can know him or not know him, as we

The concept of body is also fundamental. All substance is caught up in a

world formed by human interaction, and thus forms our environment and
opportunity, and so substance always has a history. We are available to
one another only because we are embodied persons, that is persons who
order creation by giving and receiving its materiality. The world in its
materiality is therefore caught up in our inter-personal relating. The
Church understands creation as the good gift of God. It regards all persons
as good, and regards the life in which we discover the goodness of each
person, as itself good. The Church regards all forms of mediation, mutual
acknowledgement and payment as the gift and hospitality of previous
generations to us, and as good to the extent that we are free to accept or
refuse them.

The ontology of nature helps us to talk about man by talking about his
embodiment, and his situation in a given and finite world. It helps us to
count persons and so to talk about man in terms of groups and crowds,
and therefore of quantity and number. But when the ontology of nature
and quantity is overused, we forget to talk in the ontology of charisma, in
which the view of each person must be sought, and nothing finally is what
it is until each person has in freedom named it so. All of us must seek the
approval and recognition of all other persons, and thus in which the
personhood of each of us is dependent on the personhood of us all. The
ontology of charisma enables us to talk about the quality of man, and to
insist that the depth and mystery of man is both present and future, waits
to be revealed, and that it is not entirely amenable to calculation and
cannot yet be finally accounted for. Though we find ourselves in
relationships, and are embarked on life with one another, we cannot
decide that we have finished with one another. All relationships and
human history, and within it, the history of the material world, remain

The Christian economy, the discipled life in the Church, is denominated by

the identity and name of Jesus. Through him we may acknowledge one
another’s true identity and pay one another our proper dignity. The Church
has a payments system, and it is itself a payment system, denominated
by this name. Indeed the Church is the original system of payment,
because it refers to the original and ongoing act by which God honours
Man and honours each human person. God grants us, or pays us, the
dignity and honour by which we can pay one another honour and dignity.
In this primal gift of recognition and honour given by God to Man and to
each man, we receive the means by we can pay one another and give one
another our recognition and esteem.

In the name Jesus Christ we may worship God. We can receive this name
with gladness or we can refuse it, and withhold our worship from God by
using another name, or many other names. We may perhaps withhold our
worship from the God of Israel because we believe that some other
divinity, whose name we do not know, is God. We may believe that the
God who withholds his name, does not respond to our prayers, and so who

remains unknown to us, is higher than the God who has given us his name
and who does hear our prayers. Perhaps we believe that the person who
conceals his identity from others is more powerful than any other, and that
the society that worships such a God or which conceals its ancestors and
origins from all others, will wield power over those other societies confess
a specific covenant with the God who gives his name.

One and two

Christians propose that persons are both many and one. They are not one
before they are many, nor many before they are one. Christian theology
suggests that according to the logic of persons, oneness and plurality are
simultaneously and co-fundamental. The profound consequences of this
confession emerge in a variety of ways.

The gift of God is the basis of all inter-personal acknowledgement and

encounter. The gift of God is therefore the basis of all giving-in-exchange
and of whatever currency denominates our exchanges. The Christian
economy of the Church is a ‘system’ of gift and self-giving, and of waiting
to receive whatever aspect of themselves others offer us. Each Christian
becomes a member of the indivisible person of Christ at baptism. Each
encounter, and particularly ritual encounter during the service of worship,
of Christians reveals this unity. The Christian Church, the body of Christ, is
one body, is an entity with a unity that cannot be divided or broken down.
It is we may even say, a single ‘person’. When two Christians come
together they are united in a ‘holy embrace’ which reveals that they are
one person in Christ; they ‘give each according to their needs’, and ‘hold
all things in common’. They are a single person, in Christ. They cannot be
taken from Christ or from one another and fragmented into many
‘individuals’. Neither Christ nor his body can be fragmented. Together with
him, they make an indivisible presence in the world, a single body that
makes this one person and these many persons simultaneously available
to us. This body is single and visible for the sake of the world, and it is also
present in every place in the world, in the form of each individual Christian
in his or her particular vocation and place. Because the Christian
community appears as this distinct body, as one body amongst others, the
world is free to receive or refuse it, as it wishes, so the visibility of the
Christian body secures the freedom of the world.

In the Christian account, two persons may become one person, without
any diminution of their distinction and twoness. God loves man and brings
him into that communion in which man may participate in that love. In this
communion God and man are one, whilst also being two and distinct. As
God receives man he accounts him ‘one’ and whole. The love and unity of
God with each person is the basis on which that person is himself or
herself a single person; the oneness of the person is not a matter of nature
merely, but also of the free acknowledgement of all that he or she is that
selfsame person. It is in their reception by God and all humanity that the
identity and integrity of each person is affirmed and established.

Man is a creature of covenant. Man is with God. Man with God is both two
and one. God is not known without man, or apart from man, or other than
as the God who is for man and with man. God is thus both two and one
with man. As a result man is not himself without his fellow-man. He is not
first an autonomous individual, and then a social being. Man is

simultaneously fundamentally two and one, a covenanted and coupled as
well as a single and singular being. The concepts of covenant, relationship
and of gift and its reconciliation relate to the way that man is himself.

Man and woman

Man is a creature of covenant in a second way. Mankind is twofold because
he is always either man or woman. Humanity is not unisex, but sexed and
so dual. So man gives himself to his fellow as man to woman. Men and
women may desire and love each other enough to give themselves to
each other. They may do so entirely, without reservation, or limit of time.
They may give themselves utterly and finally, to another human being,
and so they reveal that they are masters of themselves. In marriage a
man gives himself to a woman and receives the gift of herself that this
other person makes him of herself. There is no more fundamental act or
form of human existence than the gift-giving and -receiving that is

A man and woman may desire one another, and seek and find one
another. They may do so now, and they may also hope to desire to give to
and receive from one another more and without limit. Since we may hope
to love one another more, we may welcome whatever discipline supports
our love. Love may be discipled so that our future love may be greater
than our present love. Marriage is a form of mutual self-control that
enables this self-giving that is directed to a further self-giving and
receiving and discovery. There is both a given difference between men and
women, described by the doctrine of creation, and natural law, and there
is a promised difference that relates to the redemption of men and
women, described by eschatology. It relates to what we are, so to the
present, and regards this as good, even as the gift of God. And it relates to
what we may or will be, and so the course of our formation and
transformation, and so to a future, which since it is genuinely future, we
cannot presently see.

A household is generated by the relationship of one man and one woman.

A marriage is the public recognition given by society, of the single
household and single ‘person’ that this man and woman make. A marriage
creates a little society. Each family is a new society, one which is as
primitive and basic as ‘society’ itself. The little societies created by
marriage serve the renewal of society as a whole.

A man may be called to be a husband and a woman to be a wife. He is

called to be husband to her only, and she wife to him alone. His call to be
her husband is also a call to create with her this little society, that is
entirely distinct from society as a whole and from all other societies of
which society is made up. Their relationship is exclusive, and it is creative
and renews society as a whole only because it is exclusive. Their calling is
not simply as man and woman nor generically as husband and wife, but it
is her exclusive call and claim on him and his singular call and claim on
her. Only she can make him this. The distinction between man and woman
relates to their call to be husband and wife: this sexual difference given by
nature is our invitation to hear this call and to receive the uniqueness and
freedom offered in this vocation. Nature precedes this decision only as a
question. They are not bound by nature; nature offers to provide the
means and idiom by which they can bind themselves to one another, and

by which all society can receive their binding and covenant as good, also
for itself.

But what about the equality of men and women? If men are, either by
nature or by culture, members of the public economy, are woman
prevented from finding their identity in that economy? Do the demands of
equality and thus of justice not demand that the distinction between these
two economies be removed? But we do not need to say more than that
there is this asymmetry, and such asymmetry means that the present
cedes something to the future, and we have to look forward to a
redemption. In what aspects man and woman may be asymmetrical and
thus equal, or not equal, cannot decided solely by the present. When a
man and woman freely enter a covenant, in which he becomes a husband
and she becomes a wife, they covenant to become one another’s equals.
They promise to be a match for one another, in a future not entirely known
to either of them. Then we can say that the husband may aspire to be
worthy of his wife, to be her equal, and she may aspire to be his equal and
his mate. Their equality is then a matter of hope and redemption.
Marriages work when each party talks to other up, and reckons the other
more, rather than less, than him- or herself.

In freedom this husband and this wife create a new unity and duality.
While remaining two, they become one. Their oneness is the source and
possibility by which each of them may grow and discover his and her own
particularity and uniqueness. Marriage enables self-discovery: it provides
the discipline and culture by which each of us may grow in ourselves, as
we grow towards our marriage-partner. If the private economy of the
household is the sphere of the married woman, the public economy of the
market and formal economy is the sphere of the married man. The
distinction between husband and wife is analogous to the distinction
between public and private realms. Yet there is never husband without
wife nor public sphere without the inner sphere of the household. Each
economy exists only as its seeks and serves the other. The distinction
between these economies and functions continues as people are willing to
give themselves to this one other person and so become husbands and
wives, for the sake of that which they can only bring into existence
together. The public sphere may aspire to be worthy of the private sphere
of the family, and that this generation may aspire to be worthy of the
previous generation and of the next. Each party must talk up the other,
and so aspire to an ‘equality’ which hopes for redemption but which must
remain presently under-determined. Equality, like unity and reconciliation,
has an eschatological referent: it is a function of hope, which itself the
function of that covenant in which faith and love also feature.

Marriage is public. It exists also for the sake of those who remain outside
it. It creates the possibility that new such third parties may be created.
Children may come. Marriage gives the recognition that the products of
this encounter is not just the biological phenomenon of a human child, but
a person, who may expect to be brought up by the woman and man from
whose bodies they come, and hope for their love and service without time-
limit. Marriage uniquely intends to serve its offspring all the way up into
adulthood, providing these children with security in which their own
readiness to receive and enter covenants, and their own generous
individuality, may develop. In order that there be children, and that those

children become adults, a society must value the institutions that secures
the conditions which enable children to become mature persons. For the
sake of the children who will allowed to develop into persons through it,
and therefore for the sake of the production of new generations and thus
for its own continuation generation by generation through time, society
must honour marriage.

Children must be the first product of any economy and society, and
persons brought to maturity in the virtue and industriousness that has
created that society must be the second product of that economy. This
virtue and industriousness makes each generation ready to enter those
covenants which bring a new generation into existence and then to
maturity. There is a covenant and marriage between this generation and
all possible future generations, between the present and the future, but
only those communities that understand themselves in terms of covenant
are able to say so.

Two economies
Marriage involves a distinction between those who are, and are not,
married. This distinction generates another, between the household and
the wider world. Members of households meet and enter covenants with
members of other households, so there is a world of civil society, business
and politics. There is a public and a private sphere, two sectors or two
economies. There is the economy of the household that is created by a
marriage. And there is the public economy of the market and public
square, which we know as ‘the economy’. There is the home and the
market square, the private and public spheres. Each serves the other;
neither should attempt to absorb the other or make it redundant. There is
a distinction between these two economies, the inner and outer, and a
symmetry between them. But that symmetry cannot be complete. The
tension created by their inevitable asymmetry generates the movement
from one generation to another, and so ensures the continuation of society
through time. Too much symmetry forestalls this movement by which one
generation brings another into existence.

But in modern societies a more episodic account of marriage is given.

Their marriage is a function of the will of these two partners. He has to
gratify her and she him, today and every day. But their desires are not
formed or disciplined by the marriage. If one of them comes to believe
that their individual desires are better sourced from outside the marriage,
the marriage is over. Society as whole believes that has nothing invested
in it, so is indifferent to it and offers it no incentive or support.

The market has so overpowered the contemporary household that of its

many functions have been outsourced. It buys in the good and services
that it used to provide for itself. Still the market encircles the family,
seeking ways to break what remains of its autonomy, stimulating the
‘needs’ that each has to provide for in order to satisfy their partner. When
the family cannot resist and husbands and wives demand what they
cannot give each other, the marriage covenant is broken. When the family
breaks up, the state moves in to meet what it sees as the needs of the
individual members of that family.

When society does not understand the concept of covenant, or more
generally that some things are good even though we have been given
them rather than willed them for ourselves, that society will assume that
humans are individuals rather than persons, solely single and only
occasionally and voluntarily dual and plural beings. The government of the
society without covenant will insist that we are primarily individuals, and
that its duty is to rescue us from the inevitable fallout of the covenants we
occasionally attempt for ourselves. Such governments assume that living
alone is the norm, and living with your spouse and children the exception:
their policies will moreover make this normative. But the state that tries to
take over the functions of the family takes on an impossible burden. It will
not be able to prevent itself from constructing a welfare state that
attempts that not only to compensate for the failure of family but which
ensures that families will fail.

There is a covenant and marriage between the present and the future,
between this generation and all possible future generations, but only the
communities, chiefly the Christian Church, that understand themselves in
terms of covenant are able to say so. The distinction between public and
private is analogous to the distinction between this present time and the
future. The future comes in the shape of a new generation that in the birth
of each child, and the long and costly investment in that child, which only
the private sphere of the household, recognised by marriage, is able to
make. Marriage raises public morale, and high public morale encourages
marriage. When marriage is not understood as covenant and as public
institution, cultural confidence is lost. Then singleness is promoted over
life together in the covenant which we can enter freely, and we become
dependents and employees of that other covenant that we have not
entered freely, the state. But the state cannot reproduce society and
cannot of itself motivate persons to do so either. The decline of marriage
represents a loss social capital and from this economic decline follows. We
must explore some of these trends, and relate the loss of the concept of
covenant to the society that does not know what to hope for or how to
wait for it.

Love and freedom

Love, giving and charity are essential to the Christian form of the economy
and Christian account of economics. God has given us all things; we may
therefore live to give. The primary act of giving yourself is the foundation
of all subsequent ‘economic’ activity. The household is the first economy,
and the source of all public service that makes up civil society, which
makes a national culture that is conducive to living well and which
commands our loyalty. The household is the source of all the enterprises
that make up the market, from which we may receive some of the material
by which we may live well. The Church suggests that since the market
cannot provide the entirety of our needs, it should not attempt to provide
what households may provide for themselves and it should not become
the dominant form of the public square. We are called to provide for one
another, for what we provide is relationships offered in love and public
service; what we can offer one another in both household and public
square is ourselves. The concept of person suggests that the dimensions
of this gift are never immediately or entirely explicit.

The modern economy intends to make each act and service entirely
explicit. In the modern economy we refer to work that is paid as
‘employment’; our work is instantly acknowledged and rewarded by that
currency of recognition that we know as money. But not all labour can
receive wages or any other form of public acknowledgement: not all
human effort can be denominated by money or drawn into the formal and
monetised economy. Not everything can be denominated or receive
instantaneous acknowledgement; not everything can be paid, for not
everything is recognisable for what it is now. Christians suggest that work
may be valuable regardless of whether it receives explicit, and thus
financial, reward. There is only freedom of action, initiative and risk-taking
and room for interpretation because some part of our effort does not
receive recognition and reward. There is an honour for those who, are
proved right by the long term, even if they are ignored or despised in the
short-term. Christians, not concerned by how long the long term is, are
content with this latter recognition, since they are wait until God brings
the final judgment to all history. The continuation of culture requires that
much is invested unseen and unrewarded.

The value of money can only be established by what is not money. We

recognise work that is unpaid as worthwhile nonetheless. Love motivates
all Christian work and public action, whether that take the ostensible form
of charity, or of business or public and political service, or evades public
description entirely, as in the case of prayer and worship. Charity serves,
labours and works and such work is purposeful and it is its own reward.
Each of us is free to identify for ourselves whomever we wish as recipients
of our service and charity: we can give them what we think they need as
we think best. Love gives labour its value, and love gives an economy and
its explicit currency their value, not the other way around. Labour is a
fundamental economic concept only as long as it is defined by a Christian
account of both the cost of that self-giving, and the freedom of that self-
giving. The concept of love, which includes generosity, respect, and self-
giving in service, and the freedom of any human being to act publicly and
generously, to take initiatives and form covenants, is essential to any
economics that is able to consider the trans-generational continuity of a
society and its economy.

Two apparently opposite movements have reduced the realm for the work
explicitly motivated by love. The monetised economy has inveigled its way
into the household and family; the realm of calculation and instant return
has squeezed the little economy of love and self-gift. The other movement
is that the realm of the household, the inner realm, has become the
discourse that dominates the public sphere. But the internal realm has
shrunk from the realm of the family to the preferences of the individual, so
becoming the discourse of individual preferences, with a consequent
relativism, so that we have no means of holding one another to account.

The modern economy tells us that we go to work because we have to. The
brutal givenness of the world necessitates work. But Christians suggest
that we also go to work because are willing to. We work in freedom, as
well as by necessity, and Christians propose, necessity is not more
fundamental than freedom. We may truthfully describe the human
economy in terms of freedom, of self-giving and love, and that this

description is as valid as that other description, offered by modern
economics, that refers to the compulsion of nature.

Self-government and public service

From the disciplined Christian life come all the good practices of self-
discipline and self-control that give each person a free and deliberate self-
giver. We are freed to love, and to act, first for ourselves, then for our
families and then more widely. The practices of self-government that are
taught within the Church enable generosity, and public service and
government are what result. Where it receives, however much at second-
hand, the virtues of this disciplined Christian life, our society may find the
resources to acknowledge our various acts of generosity, and may identify
marriage as one of these, and where it does so, our society will command
our affection and loyalty. The society that is able to deal in the currency of
self-giving will hold together. But when we, or our leaders, forget that all
government is sourced in the self-government of the person, the integrity
both of the person and of our society as a whole, comes into doubt.

The state is that set of public servants who serve society. They hope to do
so by safeguarding whatever is necessary to that society’s future. A
government exists to protect the economy of the household, which it does
by recognising marriage as that fundamental event of self-giving that
brings new households and new economies into being. Any government
wants to encourage all those initiatives that make up civil society. It may
do so when it acknowledges that persons are both intrinsically self-
governed and self-restrained persons, and both self-givers and thus public
servants. It does so when it acknowledges that persons may adopt for
themselves those forms of discipleship or formation by which they hope to
become better self-governed and better self-givers: thus the government
must acknowledge the covenants and communities, such as the Church,
that embody such a course of formation. A government is committed to
public service when it recognises these covenants pre-exist it, and thus
when it is modest and self-restrained. Marriage is the one institution that is
more basic than the state.

But when those in government do not acknowledge the fundamental

nature of such covenants, they operate on a different understanding of the
person, one in which the person is an individual. The government that is
not sourced in the self-government and public service of persons, looks for
an alternative and more expansive mandate. It assumes that we are all
undifferentiated beings, and thus declares that all relationships are equal,
and all equally occasional. If we are not dependent on one another
through a myriad particular covenants of family, and its extensions in the
community and voluntary and private sectors, each individual is brought
into direct and involuntary relationship with the state.

If our leaders do not condescend to recognise the decisions of persons to

give themselves to one another in love and freedom, by recognition of that
our covenants constitute a fundamental autonomy, everything
governments do substitutes for our own love and initiative and action. The
relationship each of us has with the state is more important than any other
relationship that we have inherited or entered freely. When the state has
accepted singleness over the covenant of two persons the effect of all its
interventions is to promote singleness over the covenants of two persons.

Then governments do not know how to stop themselves from hearing
everything as a plea for their closer involvement. The public budget is
employed to compensate for the victims of failed marriages, but over the
long term effect such compensation leaches away at all marriages, and we
are all dependents directly of the central power.

If our leaders acknowledge no covenant, they will not know how to restrain
the claims of government. Their determination to solve our problems
drives them to do things for us and instead of us, will take away our
motivation to do things for one another or for ourselves. If it assumes that
no covenant is prior to the state, the state will insist that that every
covenant requires the sanction of the state. If our public servants fail to
sustain the self-restraint that makes for modest government, the ideology
of the group that justifies a more expanded mandate will give the state an
agenda derived from that ideology. Such a state may believes that
humanity is unisex and homogenous. It will attempt to obliterate all
differences and flatten every specific covenant, promoting singleness over
all the covenants of which society and the economy is made up. The effect
of such the mandate given by the equality agenda is to attempt to make
us one sex. If we are all a members of a single unisex human being, we
have no need or desire for any other human being. If we have no interest
in any other specific human being, we are consequently without all
motivation. The state will be unable to concede that we may love our own
family more than others, and prefer our own initiatives and enterprises
over others.

In its attempt to abolish all specific desires, such an ideology will set the
state against every particularity until it is finally at war with nature. The
state will have become a secular theocracy, a rival church. The state is no
longer the expression and limited implementation of our own public
service. Rather it is more fundamental than we. It exists before us. It
nominates and delegate our functions to us. Society is then a single
household. Each of us is then married – to the state. It is our universal
parent and partner. We exist for it. Then only the state is the only true
person, and we are all persons only as we commit ourselves to one
another through it and so derive our identity from it. By attempting to out-
source our own self-government we turn our own public service into the
state that is prior to ourselves, a power that knows no limit. Such a state is
the God that acknowledges only his own will and does not care to give any
account of himself.

Confidence and culture

Our own freely-entered covenants give us the motivation to take
initiatives. A restrained government may hold the ring so that our own
motivations may operate, while an unrestrained government can only
prevent us from discovering such motivation. Since we are not free in
relationship to them, the market and the state cannot motivate us to
anything. If state and society do not recognise the household as the
source of the next generation, there is no incentive to start a new
household. If society does not recognise and commend new households
and all other forms of enterprise and risk-taking, there will be fewer of
them. If society does not praise such enterprises, no one will be take the
risk of initiating them and the result will be cultural and economic

A healthy economy is embedded within, and driven by, a healthy culture
with a healthy public square. A vibrant economy is constituted by a self-
motivated population, confident in the virtues and practices which build a
common culture and economic life. But are the populations which form the
constitute the British and European economies confident? Do they regard
the histories that brought about the cultural and economic development of
that countries as a mistake and the virtues recommended by their
forebears as unnecessary for them? Are they beginning to disavow all that
they have been? Has European culture so devalued the household that
bears and brings up children that indigenous European fertility has
dropped below replacement rate and cannot rise again? Are our economic
crises the expression of a long-term decline in cultural confidence and is
this decline already reflected in a long-term crisis of demography? Is
Europe threatened by demographic winter? Is Europe losing the will to
live? Financial and economic meltdowns may indicate the cultural and
political breakdown that is both cause and consequence of a population no
longer confident enough to reproduce.

Societies come and go, but the Church, the community that witnesses to
the covenant of God, remains. The Christian proposal is that we are
primarily givers, who each have something unique to offer, something that
is intrinsic to ourselves. In each economic transaction the other party is
primarily a giver and so a free agent. Social capital is money in the bank.
It is valuable for as long as it is not cashed out. As soon as it is cashed into
explicit money to compensate for love not given or received, it is gone.
When everything is denominated in terms of money, we cannot know
whether to enter services on the debit or credit side, with the result that
money itself suffers a crisis. The social capital gathered accrued over
centuries is being lost, and no amount of welfare spending in one
generation can repair or compensate for its loss.

Cultural decay causes political and economic decay. A culture must be

more than the discourse of rights and a nation more than a crowd of
plaintiffs each claiming to be disadvantaged all others. In the same way an
economy must be more than a collection of consumers. The rhetoric
coming from the market invites us to think of ourselves as primarily as
consumers, and only secondarily and inconsequentially producers. The
result is an economy in which we are uninterested in what is unique, give
no particular recognition or reward to initiatives and enterprises that are
local to us, and so we have economies without small and middle-scale
enterprises. The need to comply with government demands means that
larger businesses do better than smaller ones, with the result that the
economy is dominated by trans-national corporations, and capital has
diminishing relationship to the local social capital of any particular
community and the practices of civil society. A gap is always opening up
between the corporations at the top of the economy, and the supine
population at the bottom that simply consumes whatever results of that
‘growth’ reach it, by receipt of welfare or as the direct employees of the
state that disburse that welfare, two complementary forms of dependency.
Employees that do not push themselves up are pushed down. They are
shed by the corporations, when credit transfers its affections to more
tractable workers with fewer aspirations, on the other side of the world,
and they become state dependents. The economy is then over-developed

at top, with a bulging layer of corporate managers and state employees,
while at the bottom there is a bulging bottom layer of dependents.

Why do the middle of ‘mature’ economies thin out? When motivation and
purposes, and thus the concepts of love and gift, are separated from work,
we no longer reckon what we do as distinctive to ourselves. As work is
detached from sets of skills and from persons and their ends, it becomes
indifferent to locations; as jobs are exported, so is the proprietorship and
social capital that makes for a confident working population. Then what do
we can very easily between done by someone else. Where savers look for
the high interest rate and withdrawal without penalty, they create a
money that will hollow their economy so that even countries with
previously developed culture of law and civil society resemble third world
economies, and the global economy begins to appear as a terrible force of
nature. The modern economy hollows out and suffers crises because
consumers, who have no motivation of their own, are less robust than an
self-givers, who do.

The over-extension of the top end of the market into a single global
economy that threatens the market in each particular place, is the result
of our own surrender of responsibility, and readiness to think of ourselves
as individual and consumer rather than as covenanted person and citizen.
The over-extension of the market into the domestic economy of the
household ultimately threatens the functioning of the market itself. The
rise of the market as colossus is the obverse of the rise of the state as
colossus. The rise of the financial market that overtops all concerted
human government and self-government is analogous to the rise of the
state beyond public service, that has arisen out of the temptation to
distance ourselves from our vocation as self-givers and intrinsic public
servants. By alienating our labour from love and the gift of person to
person, we have brought into existence another ‘person’, a state that
appears to be prior to ourselves. The state is the single unyielding given
before which we must, and to and from which we live. As the State tends
to become a ‘person’, so too the market attracts the attributes and logic of
personhood. The consequence of the modern disinclination to understand
ourselves as self-governed and self-giving public persons, is that our own
carelessly alienated personhood gathers against us in these meta-human
forms. The state and money are two facets of the temptation to which
moderns are prone, to assume that unity is more fundamental than
plurality, that the One is prior, and that persons derive life and a merely
temporary freedom from it. These two aspects of this monad reinforce the
deep fear that everything is already present to us and we may hope for
nothing that we do not already have.

Each generation is in debt to all previous ones. A readiness to

acknowledge this debt and pay our predecessors the honour they are due
makes for a confident society. Each society has to give an account of itself
to other societies and cultures, and it can only do so by giving a more
positive than negative account of its own history and origins. This present
generation has to pay previous generations acknowledgement and honour
in order to acquire the honour it requires from other cultures and
communities, in order that its own confidence about itself may be
renewed. Other nations will be confident of our society and our economy
to the extent that we acknowledge and understand the qualities that

made this society good and this economy powerful and do so by not
disavowing our forebears or their virtues. But modern economics cannot
account for the motivation of man to serve a generation that does not yet
exist, and so to act for the future and the continuity of the human race.
Modern economics is valid only within an existing generation. It is the
triumph of the present over the past and so, disastrously, the triumph of
the present over the future.

The crisis of confidence felt by our contemporary society of individuals

without covenant expresses itself through the equivalence agenda. It has
become public policy to disavow and eradicate our inherited differences.
As a result the Liberal agenda has ceased to be liberal and has started to
silence the public sphere. The state that does not acknowledge the
primacy of self-government tells the Church that it is merely one ‘faith
community’ among others. But the Church replies that, though there be
many faith communities, only one threatens us. The government that is
over-extended and looks round for ideological justification for why it
should become more so, is itself a ‘faith community’ that brooks no rival. It
wants to defend itself from challenge and so guard the public square from
the risk of public speech. It considers confrontation to be a form of conflict
which it has to deter. It prefers to believe that peace has arrived, and is
only threatened when confrontational views are brought to the public

Christians believe that we may be formed and improved by encounter with

one another, and so we should all examine and test ourselves and one
another in public. Christians know that we have to approach one another
both in peace and with a readiness to question and challenge, even at the
risk of confrontation. We expose ourselves to judgment and correction by
others. Christians do not think that anyone is above judgment, or that
peace obviates the need for confrontation; it is only this insistence that we
have not yet reached the universal peace of the end times that keeps the
secular sphere open and secular. But in the economy of modernity no one
has to challenge his neighbour directly, for each holds a greater discipline
over our neighbours, the discipline of ‘exit’ over ‘voice’. We can refuse to
buy their product and can instead ship in a cheaper product from any part
of the world. A century of cheap oil has made brought every part of the
world in immediate reach of, and so under the discipline of, every other.
The universal ability to undercut our neighbour has shrivelled the space
for public argument and ballooned the monetised economy in which all
cases can be settled by price.

The economy is about the formation of man. When we no longer conceive

of ourselves as being formed and discipled, we longer expose ourselves to
the clash of views, under the discipline of communities that embody and
make explicit a particular form of life and course of formation, so that we
can decide for or against it in freedom. The humanities have the resources
to make explicit the historical and cultural tradition which is our social
capital, and so to conceive human action as the action of persons
responsible to one another. The human economy requires that we hold
economics, the discourse in which we are bodies with material needs,
together with culture, the discourse in which we are persons with hopes
and purposes. We therefore have to join the abbreviated account,
represented by economics, to the full account, in which we are responsible

to one another, represented by culture. The economy in which we are
bodies must constantly be related to the cultural economy in which we are
persons who act towards one another in responsibility and freedom. When
this connection between the material and the cultural economies is not
made, economics separates from the whole tradition of the humanities to
become an autonomous realm.

Economics is not autonomous. It belongs to the humanities, and can only

receive its place in the hierarchy of truth from these other disciplines.
Economics is an explanatory system, a heuristic. When it is treated as
more than this and regarded as a ‘system’, humanity is represented as a
series of material phenomena. Then human persons are divided into
material body and self, so divided, the part is treated as the whole, and
the integrity of the human being is lost. Economics is not an inevitable
description of the exchange driven by bodies and their needs; it is not
merely scientific and timelessly true. It has a history of its own. Economics
is the particular ontology and cosmology of modernity, but which is also
the re-appearance of cosmologies which we can identify with the ancient
Stoics, Epicureans, atomists and materialists, and which appear as minor
themes throughout Western intellectual history.

The humanities study man, not only as object but also as the course of
formation that makes us subjects. Since they insist that man has his own
inextinguishable integrity and dignity, Christians also insist on the
wholeness and width of the humanities. They insist on the dignity of
human and they are commanded to remember the past and to pray for
the reconciliation of past, present and future, and enabled by God to do
so. Without the community that remembers the promise of God to man,
and which therefore awaits the revelation and arrival of the wholeness of
man, man is broken up. He is divided between these two ontologies, in
one of which he is a thing among things, in the other of which he is a
single voice without a company to hear or recognise him.

Our history make us what we are. We can decide to talk up certain aspects
of our history and downplay or denigrate certain other aspects. We can
emphasise either the continuity or the contrast between other ages and
our own. If we remain indifferent to history or ignorant of it, we are likely
to become captive to one undeclared conception of it. Modernity is one
undeclared historical canon. Modernity declares that history is of no
interest to us, while intimating that any interest in our history makes us
vulnerable to it so that it is able to exert some dark force over us. But we
cannot simply alter our history by grafting ourselves onto a different or
imaginary tradition. We are who we are, and are faced by a particular set
of issues because we are downstream of Abraham and Moses, Socrates
and Plato, Augustine and Descartes, Hume and Kant. If we were
downstream of Buddha or Confucius, we would ask the sort of questions
that the cultures of Asia ask, and if we were downstream of Mohammed
we might ask more plaintively about the unkindness of fate. The public
square that debates such questions in these cultures, Asian and Middle
East is a much more smaller and more timid place. The extra-large public
square of the West is the direct outcome of the long presence of the
Christian community that promotes and sustains self-examination,
buttressed by those practices of Christian discipleship that puts the

question of truth over the question of who is in power. As western societies
dispense with the witness of the church, so their public squares shrink.

All culture is of way of paying our respects, even of paying our debts, to
our forebears. We regard some forebears as important because
instrumental in building the world we have inherited. We can name, and in
some very soft way revere, those who we particularly identify with the
political forms and freedoms we now benefit from. The more a society is
able to look with equanimity on its ancestors, the more it is able to look
forward with the same equanimity. The broader its view of its tradition,
and more forebears and their differing ways of life it is able to take
account of, the greater the resources from which it can judge how to live
well. The further back it looks, the better prepared it is to face future
challenges. The society with a rich account of its own historical journey is
better placed to sustain itself over the long term and thus live in hope of a
good future.

The Christian community is commanded by the words of the Last Supper,

‘Do this in remembrance of me’, to remember its forebears. It remembers
its Lord, his apostles, the prophets and people of the Old and New
Testaments, and all those Christians through the ages who have handed
on this faith and way of life to us. It names those whose names it knows, it
laments the absence of those who are missing from it, and so indicates
that it longs for the catholicity to which it is called. By faith it understands
that all those who have been its members in each generation are present
whenever it is gathered in worship, and it waits for the appearing of all
humanity. It knows that it, this present generation, is not at the centre of
this assembly: that position is taken by Christ. Christians are deliberate
about the task of remembering.

Modern Europeans acknowledge no obligation to remember, preferring to

name only those forebears who freed it from what it regards as the burden
of its further past. They celebrate a shallow history, because it releases
them from their deeper history. They celebrate their modern forebears, the
founding fathers of European and American republics because they tell us
that we are already all we aspire to be, and that we need undergo no
course of discipleship or formation. No effort or labour is required from us,
for they tell us, the economy of persons is a matter of the all-immanent,
all-demanding present.

Europe’s long tradition tells us that some persons, those formed by

particular traditions that teach the skill of judgment, make better judges
than others. Christians suggest that since life is also a matter of striving,
hoping and directing ourselves towards what is not yet present to us, the
future, it requires such an apprenticeship. But the concept of the
consumer enthrones all of us without discrimination and without any
apprenticeship: everybody is right, no view better than any other. This
does not give us the public discourse by which we can talk about what is
good and hope to make good judgments. The long and involved discourse
of speech and ideas has been left on one side and the lighter and easier
discourse of settling on a price been used in its place. Money is public
discourse abbreviated; prices are abbreviated speeches. Making and
hearing speeches requires effort, while making and accepting bids
requires much less effort. We have declined to hear and talk, listen and

argue, and so act as public beings who face one another in the public
square and articulate our differences. We have asked the discourse of
money to take away from us the need for public confrontation. Our
economy is in trouble because we have asked the discourse of economics
to do too much and not asked our culture to do enough.

Modern self-hatred and flight from public discourse

The Christian gospel tells us that we may love our neighbour as ourselves.
It takes for granted that we love ourselves: we dress and feed ourselves
and exhibit a basic care for ourselves. Having done so, we may proceed to
serve our neighbour in the same way. We are loved, by God, and may not
dishonour what God loves. Because they know that they are loved by God,
Christian are freed to love: there is no self-hatred here. But individual
ethical principles extracted from this Christian faith and community, and
thus without experience of the love of God, do not result in self-love and
self-respect, but flip over into self-hatred. Such cultural self-abjuration has
become a public policy directed against the faith that generated our
inherited culture. Secularism is prejudice is aimed at the community that
insists on the integrity of that faith and opposes such dissolution into
separate ethical imperatives. Such self-reviling comes from a great
ingratitude and unhappiness.

The concept of ‘faith communities’ implies that one religion is very like
another, and that none of them has had constitutive impact on us. But
Christianity has had decisive impact on Europe and America. It has made
this culture and these nations what they are now: no other ‘faith
community’ has generated the freedom of the individual, property rights,
the free market and welfare state, and consequent prosperity and stability.
Moreover this culture has been exported around the world, to create what
we could call variously civil society, liberal democracy, individual freedom
and the global free market. These are aspects of European culture, and
they derive from one faith community exclusively. The equality agenda
insists that the imported cultures that now appear on our high street are
as good as the culture that built those streets and markets in the first
place. But the enforcers of this policy there this equality for any culture
that is not the inherited culture, so we may denigrate no religion except
the religion that gave rise to this freedom. Faith communities are
apparently not all the same.

The demand that we cut ourselves off from the past is also an attack on
the disciplines that make possible public reason. Modernity is a flight from
history into a forgetfulness, punctuated with moments of rage at its own
incoherence. Modernity is Manichean: the present must perpetually
struggle against the dark power of the past. Abjuration of history past has
made the commonplaces of twenty years ago controversial enough to
bring the possibility of legal action, and since legal action is costly, it is
finance, rather than debate in open court, that settles an issue. No issue is
reasoned out in public debate, therefore, for the market has always
decided and discounted everything already.

The self-respect that extends into fellow-feeling and sense of belonging is

the glue that holds a people together and makes them a nation. A nation
perseveres through time because it attracts a sense that it is worth dying
to defend, a patriotism. Modernity has forgotten the warrior culture and

pagan religion of ancient Europe. Christianity has preserved some memory
of them. Warrior culture is never simply a matter of history, but is always
at least inchoately present and basic. We see warrior culture in the
confrontations in every playground, boardroom and market. Though
almost nothing is now known of the paganism that that preceded
Christianity, throughout our long history, European intellectuals have re-
imported and re-packaged Roman and Greek accounts of warrior culture,
its gods and cosmologies. We can discuss the contemporary phenomena
of pagan culture through this Greek and Roman intellectual inheritance
that describes the fatalistic worldviews represented by ancient atomism,
Epicureanism and Stoicism. These allow us to identify warrior culture and
fatalistic cosmologies in ourselves, and to identify them in the devious
because undeclared violence of modernity and modern economics.

European was once a continent of feud. Over centuries the practices of

Christian life broke the cycle of violent retribution and enabled a secular
culture open to the world. If over the long-term Europe ceases to be
marked by the Christian faith it will revert to this violence. Christians do
not nurse their grievances but confess their sins and receive forgiveness
and so are reconciled. They do not consider any situation without looking
for God's judgment of it, and with that judgment, release from the brute
facts that bring only condemnation, and thus they consider each situation
along with the prospect of its redemption. Modernity expects things to
continue the same and thus assumes an equilibrium. We have inherited
classical and Christian civilisation because the Church survived the
demographic and economic catastrophe. The Christian form of life tamed
the extreme violence of warrior society; it taught obedience to the law,
brought about a corpus of law that allowed national law to emerge, and so
made nations out of these tribal societies. Christian judgment and
repentance keeps society together. It was the Church that enabled nations
to emerge, as men were glad to hold to a higher law than retribution and
power. It is only the Church that holds a nation together.

To imagine that we could simply swap one history for another, is to suffer
a kind of auto-immune response. Whatever is good cannot derive from the
culture we have inherited. No modern believes that we have received
anything of value from the hands of our own parents: the fifth
commandment has been abrogated. But who makes the positive argument
that we could swap our history and tradition for that of, say, Saudi Arabia
and still remain recognisably British or American? Without this inherited
culture of ours, that relies on an ongoing relationship to the Christian
tradition, would we have the culture of self-examination and public
judgment that has produced the secular public square and market? Would
we find the means to challenge the discourse of economics that would
otherwise entirely dominate and substitute for the public square?
Economics is the culture that abbreviates and throttles culture, but it is not
the only culture that does so.

The question of culture, and the comparison of cultures, arises with the
movement of peoples that is part of globalisation. It does not arrive with
immigration from Asia or Africa, but specifically from South Asia and the
Middle East and thus with the arrival of Muslim culture in Western
societies. Yet in Europe there is a determination to stifle the question.
European governments do not believe that immigrants are culture-bearing

in any public or political sense. Each arrival from Pakistan is thought of as
an individual without history, a mere body, not a cultural or political
integer able to resist the forms that market and state would press him
into. The possibility that other cultures are political cultures, even political
cultures that do not separate religious and political, private and public,
and can defy all their attempts to impose such a separation – this is the
thought which our policy-makers cannot countenance. Their conviction
that Islam can only be a religion and therefore cannot possibly also be a
political system, let alone more robust and long-lived politics than liberal
secularist politics, is the thought that cannot be expressed in the public
square, and which therefore receives no public examination. ‘Equality’ and
‘Religious Hatred’ legislation has been making the question of culture a
punishable offence. But the culture that cannot allow such questions to be
tested has already conceded so much ground that we have to wonder
whether it can last. It cannot tolerate the thought that the little population
so recently introduced, is not collection of individuals each grateful to be
admitted and individually each ready to take the place that market and
state intend for them, but that each brings with him a thick mesh of
indivisible human relationality and an indissoluble political culture that will
in short time bite its the head off its host and eat him whole. Has
secularist liberal culture already been so comprehensively overtaken that
the moment when it could express its panicked recognition has already
been and gone? The inability of modernity to tolerate the question of the
formation of man and our the question of culture, a failure suddenly
apparent with its reaction to asking such question in this new Muslim
presence, raises the question of whether in modernity and Islam we are
dealing with two forms of the same monism and despair.

All cultures are warrior cultures, for confrontation and examination of

differences is intrinsic to the human economy. Public admission of
confrontation is necessary so that we may develop the practices of self-
government by which we may hold confrontation in proper and useful
bounds. The state in Britain and Europe must allow and enable the public
examination of cultures so that their various accounts of man can be
tested by public speech. We can assess Christianity only by the extent to
which its presence ameliorates our own intrinsic warrior culture through
the, at best partial, conversion of the country. Since it is a faith, the
Christian faith is not the permanent possession of any European country.
This faith ebbs and re-grows in this people, and when the Christian tide
goes out it reveals more of the pagan beneath that Christian culture.
Europe is free to shed this faith, precisely because it is a faith, and thus
must be received or refused in freedom. But, no Christian faith: no practice
or canon of public memory. No public canon of memory: no public culture
of reason.

Tradition as embodiment, history as debt

The Christian account of our identity is shaped by the doctrine of creation:
the world, both material and social, is good and it is given to us. For this
reason Christians acknowledge a debt to our predecessors. We owe thanks
to the saints of the Christian communion, sanctified for our sake in every
generation and century of our history. We do not offer excessive respect
to, and thus are not captive to the mindset or worldview of, any particular
generation. Christian baptism tears us from captivity to all such partial
communities into the true communion. On the Christian account,

everything is embodied and has that outward form by which it can be
recognised for what it is. Everyone receives a body, first from their
immediate parents and then a more extended ‘body’ or presence that
accrues by a process of enculturation from wider circles of cultural
authorities. What have been given is firstly our own families, comprised
first of our parents and their generation, and then through baptism the
Church, then perhaps also children and a generation subsequent to
ourselves. Everyone is shaped and given the public form and ‘body’ made
of what they have received from some combination of the generations
that preceded them. Every form is both new and it is a bricolage of given
and existing things.

But moderns are afraid of what they have been given. On the modern
conception, not only is your own individual and culture embodiment
thought to be of no consequence, but it is thought that you should
energetically repudiate it. Nothing you are do in your body or with your
body is thought to impact on who you are, but you must distance yourself
from the world and its materiality. Moderns imagine that they are able to
dispense with every form of cultural embodiment, and exist without any
inherited form, entirely sourced from their own imagination. Modernity is
entirely unfamiliar with the thought that the past is the matrix and ‘body’
from which each present generation emerges, and is a new instantiation
of. It concedes the past nothing. Economics is the idiom of the modern
account in which it believes that we owe our predecessors nothing, and
acknowledge no debt to them.

Modernity consists in turning from the past to the future, as from the dead
to the living, and turning from the patient hearing to many voices in public
discourse to the discourse in which we buy options on all our preferences
and are obliged to no particular judgment. This apparent promotion of
future over past makes the present problematic. Our society is not happy
with itself, so is adopting Gnostic and escapist mode. The present is under-
valued, and the future is drawn forward; but over the long term this throws
the future into doubt too. If the eschaton and reconciliation of all thing is
already here, it is no longer to be hoped for and we lose the dignity of
crying for justice and waiting for true reconciliation.

Modernity canonises those thinkers and statesmen associated with the

slow separation of economy from politics and emergence of the economy
as an autonomous sphere. Economics became detached from the other
human sciences and disciplines, and was re-conceived as the closed
economy of nature, a mechanism that goes on regardless of us. I have
suggested that to talk about market and government as though they were
systems and mechanisms is a means of distancing ourselves from our
responsibilities to one another and avoiding the formation and labour such
service involves. It is a way of refusing to be accountable to one another
and to generations past and future.

The moral philosophers from Bacon to Kant who championed of the

autonomy of the individual were succeeded by the Utilitarians who
championed the autonomous economy. When neoclassical or utilitarian
economics became the dominant idiom of public life, our various actions in
the public square were described in terms of individual market
transactions in which each of us imagines that we act in private. No action

of ours is understood to be visible to others or likely to be emulated by
them; every transaction is considered in isolation from all previous and
subsequent transactions. The inside world of the human heart is the idiom
in which we understand the public world, and the whole European tradition
of thought about being human in public is turned inside out, so we now
attempt to understand the public world only in terms of the preferences of
the individual, the man who is alone.

These champions of the autonomy of the individual rejected the existing

humanities tradition built up by Christian discipleship, and the Aristotelian
inheritance with which the Christian tradition had been in long
conversation, and so cut away the whole web of complex connections
between the two ontologies of nature (bodies) and culture (charisma). As a
result much of the discourse that held together the doctrines of creation
and redemption, and the two concepts of nature and culture, disappeared
in the West. We therefore have to consider ourselves twice, or as two
separate persons. We consider ourselves once as body and set of needs,
and once as the self that desires freedom from this body and environment.
Each of us has two avatars, but no means of saying how the embodied
and material avatar relates to the avatar with views and purposes. Should
we give up hope of the reconciliation of the two ontologies and economies
of nature (materiality) and culture (freedom)?

The champions of autonomy dismissed the representatives of the great

Augustinian and Aristotelian apprenticeship and hoped that we would
forget them. They denied that this Christian history represented a moral
and intellectual tradition that could serve as the apprenticeship by which
we could become public persons. In doing so, they made it difficult for us
to achieve any critical distance from them or compare their teaching to
that of earlier generations. These champions of the autonomy of the
present have become the modern canon, and assumed an undeclared
authority in contemporary Western societies. This early modern and
modern period is canonical for us because it withholds the names by
which we can interrogate the cultural and economic forms that it elevates.
The founding of the American and other republics, the explicit
disengagement of political and religious sphere, and the emergence of the
disembedded economy, and the foundation of national banks issuing a
single legal tender, made a glorious new morning. Modernity gave us a
narrative of progress, conceived through the nineteenth century in
material and political terms (standards of living, democracy). The Christian
and Aristotelian narrative of the growth of the human person through an
apprenticeship, changed into a narrative of what we now simply call
‘economic growth’.

This promotion of one past, the early modern period, to the status of
canon makes our society brittle. We cannot resolve our present problems
only by referring to the principles articulated by the fathers of the modern
period. We do ourselves damage as long as we obey their injunction not to
enquire about the great tradition that preceded them. When times are
hard we need to take advice from all members of the family, perhaps
particularly those with the longest memories. But this canonical early
modern morning has become an article of faith. The autonomous and
disembedded economy of modernity is not a matter only of beliefs, or of

unarticulated deepest assumptions. It is actualised and given body in each
economic transaction.

Because Western society is not confident of its long future, no one is

willing to receive their public recognition in the long-term and implicit
currency of honour. We demand that we are paid only in the explicit and
immediate currency that is money. Money is a means of communicating
and discounting and ordering preferences. It is not a means of exchanging
accounts of the truth, and testing our accounts, and so of testing and
improving ourselves. The economy has grown to fill the public square,
driving explicit public examination and judgment into enclaves. We avoid
confrontation by tackling public issues in the idiom of economics, so that
discussion is not substantive, about ideas, but procedural, about budgets.
To talk about truth in the discourse of preferences is to introduce money in
order to take away the burden of judging what is right in any case and,
having reached judgment, to turn definitively away from other options. To
do politics in the idiom of economics is to deal with all public issues by
spread betting. Money is a kind of shorthand or pidgin that we oblige one
another to employ for all public issues. Its infinite divisibility allows us to
avoid making any decision definitive. We never have to turn finally to or
from any decision, because we can keep all options open, by greater or
smaller budgetary allocations to all of them. But as we hedge our bets on
all public policy, it is we who are divided, and who therefore fail to develop
and grow.

Economics as modern mode of public reconciliation

We have said that, for moderns, there is no ontological connection or debt
between parents and children and thus from one generation to another.
We endeavour to draw the future towards ourselves because we are not
confident that it will come in its own time. We want to have our future and
consume it now before anyone else can. We have borrowed from our
children and left them with our debt. The result of this is that we are stuck
in a presentism. With no conception of ontological debt and gratitude to
previous generations, moderns never learn how to be generous and
begrudge leaving anything to future generations.

Yet we are public beings. We watch one another, seek one another’s
respect. Our desire to be loved and admired drives all our acts. We do
things because we hope that they will get us noticed and admired by the
right people, make it easier for us to be loved by those whose love we
want most. The Church says that we have received the grace and
recognition from God by which we can give recognition and be generous to
all whom we encounter, and that we come into our own true and catholic
identities only as we receive them from all these persons.

Modernity has its own parody of this unity of persons. Indeed Modernity is
an imitation of the Christian account of the communion of persons, but
which since it is not sustained by the communion of God, is a communion
of individuals, a very paradoxical communion of monads. Modernity avers
that there may be no ultimate unity of persons; two persons may only ever
be two, never two who are also one. The modern economy is the
communion in which individuals, not persons, are united. The economic
transaction is the medium of our reconciliation and unity. Money is the
idiom by which two come together and, for a single moment, are one. Two

individuals come into communion and are united in an event of economic
transaction. In this transaction they are reconciled. They agree that, on
this occasion, these are goods, services and price that express their
reconciliation. The goods they bring to each other and the price they agree
on which denominates their exchange is as stochastic as the day’s date.
Every economic transaction is the event in which two humans become one
for a single instant. Each transaction represents a unity and communion,
yet without duration or public consequence.

In each transaction, one sells goods, the other pays for the goods bought:
goods and services travel one way, money the other. Ultimately we pay for
goods and services with other goods and services. But what makes these
services and goods, is that they are desired by, and acceptable to, the
other side, given and received in freedom by each of the two parties
involved. Each party judges the goodness of this service or this sum
proffered, and is able to do only by comparing it to previous and future
services and sums, that is, by measuring it against a past and future. Each
is able to desire this service, and accept and agree on the adequacy of this
service only on the basis of a history. Each transaction is an encounter
between persons: the encounter takes the idiom that relates to the ritual
built up by a culture for this purpose. This idiom and ritual has
accumulated through a history of such encounters. Each transaction is a
exchange of greetings, in which one side offers the other some
recognition, denominated and embodied by these goods and the other
replies and accepts by returning the same recognition denominated in that
ritualised form of recognition that we know as money. Money is the
medium that makes all things immediately explicit, so that nothing is
outstanding and no future settlement required.

Despite the presumption and insistence of modern economics that these

are two individuals, who encounter one another in this transaction without
history or obligation and thus without enduring relationship, these are not
individuals, but persons. They do not come to the transaction without
history, nor do they depart from it without having together created a little
history that marks them from then on. Together they leave a trace,
however infinitesimal, that characterises future encounters and
transactions. Only history and hope give us purposes and preferences and
so reasons for attempting any encounter at all. Two individuals cannot
become one. Only two persons may become one.

What is this ‘one’? ‘One’ is our unit of account. It is ‘one’, whether a dollar
or a bag of salt, and it is ‘one’ even when it is four dollars, or four trillion
dollars, or the same number of cowry shells. It is ‘one’ when it is ‘enough’,
when price is agreed, deal closed and the union of two parties brought
about. What is the origin of this ‘one’, the number to which all numbers
and settlements refer? What is the true name of all the numbers which all
represent this unity? What is that oneness which is the basis of every unit,
and of every reconciliation and settlement? The union to which each ‘unit’
and each number refers is the unity of God with man. For God has joined
man to himself, and made man one with himself. Every unit refers to the
union in which man is one with God, and which with God has reconciled
and united the world in man, making creation one, and for creation’s sake,
making man the ‘other’ of God.

Money is an idiom of the reconciliation and unity of persons. It is the
metric by which we apportion the honour we have to give. We honour
people by introducing them to people already honoured. Other persons are
the final measure and judges of persons. No person is solitary; each is
directed to another. Each of us gives permission to others, and needs the
permission of others in order to do what we intend. Money is one means
by which we address one another and intend to be heard by one another,
and so it is a form of speech. But it is not merely speech, but acts, and
permission for future acts. Money is a series of forms, ceremonial and
ritual, by which we formally and publicly grant one another our approval
and permission.

Modernity is the economy in which a more or less explicitly single currency

runs through the hands of every human on the globe. Money is this
currency. We oblige others to address us in this medium, for we insist on
being paid, and in this single hard currency. The economy in which this
banknote is sole legal tender is the imperial cult of the old pagan empires
made universal. By demanding money, this specific and hard currency, we
tell one another that this scrip is universally valid, its writ runs through the
world, and that we will accept no other account of our worth. We must be
paid in this currency only, for with this currency our command can set
anybody, anywhere else in the world to work. This money enforces on all
others the universality and singleness of this economy. As such it is not
only an economy, but a rule, and it is a cult that makes that rule appear as
a given of nature. It is we who enforce this sole currency on one another,
yet this form of money appears natural and our need for it inevitable. It is
the triumph of universality over all particularities. The cost of our
determination to enforce this freedom over all others is that this
universality triumphs over our own particularity too. This universality is
permanent, while we are its merest epiphenomena. In money we are
contained in a single economy with all men by a God that will not give us
his name, and whom thus holds us in unfreedom.

How does this currency communicate this non-negotiable givenness and

hardness? Economics is the discourse of nature, and thus of fate. To
modernity our environment, even our built environment, is inert and dead.
It does not concede that our predecessors left us the material and political
world that constitutes our present situation. The world does not convey to
us the imaginations and hard work of our forebears, some few of whom we
can still name. The concept of the absolute deadness and
disconnectedness of everything that is not ourselves, is foundational to
the modern worldview. If we see the world around as merely physical, we
do not see that there are any claims on it other than those we now make,
so all is raw material which our non-negotiable material needs drive us to
take hold of. In each transaction the two actors agree on the basis of this
hard and non-negotiable givenness, their shared assertion of the absolute
deadness of the given world constitutes the unity which their transaction

This single global economy exists because we all insist that each human
being pay us now in hard currency for every service we offer them. No one
may ask anything of us except when they offer us this single and universal
currency which represents the ultimately fungibility of all persons and
things. The world is always made up of many local and regional

economies. If we insist that there is only one form of money, rather than
many different negotiable forms of money, we are enforcing this
singularity and monadism on one another, insisting all economies and all
ends and purposes can be reduced to the unity that this monad
represents, and that all things are made present to us, here and now in
this present, without loss.

Money is the metric by which we apportion our time and so distribute the
honour we bring to others. Our ability to apportion ourselves by identifying
more and smaller units of time allows us to multiply transactions and so
proliferate money. As we identify a new unit of time we use it to end one
encounter in order to initiate another. We introduce new temporal intervals
that cut existing relationships short to produce new ones in order to make
‘more’, and so to accumulate transactions and increase economic growth.
We divide and denominate the honour we pay on another by the infinitely
divisible metric that is time, and we conglomerate these units of our time
in the idiom of money. Money is human history rendered into substance,
as the relating and working of persons becomes the goods and material
environment, and then into the volatile substance of charisma and credit,
which gives us permission for new encounters and transactions. The
modern economy grows, because we divide ourselves: economic growth is
the front, of which our decreasing attention span and inability to receive
one another as persons and wholes is the back. If everything in the world
can be truly denominated in this single currency, everything may be paid
off, all debt cancelled, differences equalised and relationship ended. Then
there is no reason to look forward to any other world, or any future. We are
enforcing this singularity and monadism on one another, insisting all
economies, and all ends and purposes, can be reduced to the unity that
this monad represents, and so made immediately present, in this time.
Our version of the global economy attempts to drag the future into our
present, heaven to earth, while each of us simultaneously attempts to
leave the present, earth and embodiment in order to ascend into the

Moderns are individuals, and each individual is a piece of the global

economy. In the monetised economy, each of us is individuated from all
others, all intrinsic ties are broken so that we become severed from one
another, without inherited connection, individuals and consumers. Each
transaction removes all trace of previous encounters, so we arrive clean
and odour-free for our next transaction and are re-made as individuals
without past. The monetised economy strips us of relationship to family
and inherited capital, so we are always without history and thus also
without purposes or hope.

The single currency of the autonomous and disembedded economy of

modernity constitutes each of us as a fundamentally single and sole being.
This is not a matter only of beliefs, or of unarticulated deepest
assumptions. No transaction has taken place until we have been paid by
the transfer of the cultic token, by which the other man affirms that there
is no economy but this one, no time but now, that all his claims on me are
satisfied. As that dollar bill is passed over he concedes that I am now free
of him, and that we are now once again essentially individuals, units alone
in the world. Each transaction is a public avowal in which we affirm that
each encounter is an impermanent and reversible affair, because by

nature man is solitary. In each such transaction we enforce on each other
the asseveration that man is alone, that all his relationships are non-
fundamental and fleeting, so each new encounter effaces each previous

We trade in order to meet others and gather ourselves and so to be

gathered together with them, and receive from them our identity. But we
are also divided and separated, parcelled up and sold. The more we speed
on from one another transaction to another, the more we are divided and
re-divided and our lives dissolve into the currency by which subsequent
exchanges are made. When we are individually gone, we have become the
debt and credit that drives our successors further into this one ecumene,
which acknowledges no subsidiary domains beneath it. The modern
economy is unable to recognise that man may definitively come together
with man in a unity and communion that is ultimate. It can only
acknowledge an incessantly repeated coming together of individuals to re-
make ‘Man’, the Universal, that lives from the consumption of all

We are members of one global economy, and enforcedly participants of

that single household that we know as the monetised economy. We all
interact with one another through this global household. Whose household
is this? It is the house of the one who is ultimately alone, the nameless
one who is man without God and God without man. It is the rule of the one
who stands against final reconciliation and relationship with man, who
refuses to accept a fellow, and so who stands against the God who is with
man. He has no existence of his own, so sources his existence from man.
This monadic figure cannot establish the dignity of man or endure the
permanent existence of any person or life that is not himself.

The sway of the one who does not give his name reaches evenly across
the entire world: it does not encourage us to reach out first to those who
are nearest to us in our own town, region, country. This economy rubs
away at each particular locality, as at every particularity. Each unit of
payment represents permission to participate in this economy and so
experience a momentary unity with humankind. We participate in this
household, only by providing its life, that is, as its life is extracted from us.
Our membership in it has to be instantly renewed: each transaction staves
its expiry off for a moment. Since these transactions leave no trail we are
just as much individuated individuals at the end of all transacting in the
monetised economy as we were at the beginning. The result is that we
each only exist in the moment, as we travel through these transactions,
each of which is an instant of reconciliation and unity with another person
and through them with humanity as a whole. When each is over we have
achieved no more than after the very first. This economy is not able to
point to the unity and enduring dignity of person: no human is a whole in
himself, but a fragment of a totality. The individual will be rolled up into
the whole and the titan of humankind will roll on, made up of a myriad
individual life-trajectories, all of which were directed and absorbed into the
Behemoth, ‘Man’. The monetised and global economy is affiliation to
someone who does not care to give us his name. As a result moderns have
no means of extricating themselves from this economy, and as a result
this money is bondage to an alien household and economy.

Western culture is baffled by the question of the permanence of the
human person. It does not recognise the fundamental given of the concept
of covenant, and acknowledge the community that names the source of
that covenant in its public worship. To the extent that our culture turns
from the resources of its long tradition these cultural problems express
themselves as economic crises. Modernity is baffled by our embodiment
and materiality because it does not have a high enough view of the earth,
for it does not see it, by faith, together with its purposes. Since they see
the world without teleology, moderns imagine that no purposes are
intrinsic to it, and thus that purposes have to be imposed upon it, and
since they acknowledge no time other than their own, they impose their
purposes on what they see as an inert world, without past or future.

The driving narrative of modernity is growth. Modernity has cast off the
thought that persons can grow and that they may freely take on any
course of formation by which they could do so. ‘Growth’ means only
‘material’ growth, a rising standard of living. But here again, how to assess
this, when we have given up the criteria by which we can decide between
differing measures by which to assess any standard of living? We are left
with GDP, which is to say, the sum of monetised transactions in any
national economy. The new discipline of the ‘economics of happiness’
suggests that more choice and greater access to material goods is as
likely to bring dissatisfaction as contentment where the economy is
entirely detached from the self-government of the particular person. In an
economy dedicated to ‘economic growth’ two factors grow. Money grows,
but it grows as debt, and so debt grows. As the economy expands, so does
the level of indebtedness and consequent fragility of each local and
national economy. The volatility of this sole medium of transaction
squeezes individual economic agents out of the economy; when money
takes flight, whole populations are left without means of economic
participation. As this form of debt-as-money grows, so does the drive to
make all our wealth explicit now, and so we press ahead to extract all
natural resources, rather than bank them for later, with environmental
consequences that are injurious to our heirs. I suggest that the idea of
growth must not be separated from the growth, or at least maintenance,
of culture, and thus to the personal formation that results in self-mastery,
by which we are able to restrain ourselves, regard resources as savings
and so avoid devastating our environment. The economy of modernity
consists in making everything immediately explicit, so in realising wealth
as present wealth, and separating the economy from the cultural
economy, capital from social capital, body from person, and separating the
immediate from the long-term that is the unity of past and future. But it is
culture that supports, or fails to support, an economy. Economics can only
ever be a shorthand that refers to a certain culture, and prosperity can
only be sustained across generations, when that culture is passed on.

Christians offer another account of the global economy. A truly universal

economy exists, but since we are not yet ready for it, it withholds itself
from us. That global economy already has bodily form, albeit the form that
is hidden, but which in faith may be recognised as the body of Christ. The
future of the human economy is concealed within the catholicity and
universality of the Church. The Christian faith is able to give us the name
by which we can call that universal and catholic spirit, the Holy Spirit, to
wrench us free us of all these particular forms of captivity, so that we can

come unforced into the freedom of his communion. This God lets us come
to him in freedom, so that in his company, we may come to all men. We
must contrast this freedom with the brute givenness represented by the
monism of any occult divinity that does not care to give us its name. So
the Church insists that there are, and must be explicitly, many currencies,
and that each of us issues our own in charity and, free from coercion has
to affirm the worth of whatever payment, and means of payment, is
offered to him.

In its doctrine the Church offers a whole complex of connections between

the world and man, between the doctrine of creation and redemption, that
we can sum in the two concepts of covenant and hope. I have suggested
that only the Church has a strong enough view of man to secure the
uniqueness of each person. It proposes that person is an eschatological
concept, which is to say that man is not yet what he may be, and so must
live in hope. He is called into a hearing and obedience that embarks him
on a course of formation, and so he can grow. I have suggested that the
society that acknowledges no course of formation acquires no self-control,
no motivation for self-giving, and so declines to reproduce itself or defend
itself against other cultures. Church preserves a memory of the long-term
and so it may be said to stand for the long-term claims of society over its
immediate claims. The longer your memory the more resources you have
for naming and dealing with eventualities, for though linear, time is made
up of repeating cycles and patterns. We have therefore to compare cycles
of time, the short, the medium and the long-term. The short and long
terms are not to be contrasted as though opposites, for each is dependent
on the other. In the same way we are not contrasting faith and reason;
though distinct, reason and faith are not separable. We do not reason with
one another without commitments, interests, emotions, and so from
traditions, and sets of principles and assumptions, some too deep for
expression, that we call ‘faith’. We are comparing immediate and short-
term reasons, which we call ‘reason’, with medium and long-term reasons
that we refer to in ‘faith’. Any community must encourage its public
servants to make some decisions on our behalf, and ask them convince us
that their present decisions will not prejudice the medium and long terms.
Every community must ensure that its leaders hear the questions posed
by any community and tradition, among them the Church, about their
service to that society’s long-term good. The society or government that
cannot tolerate such questions has already subjected itself to a self-
defeating short-termism, captivity to a specious present. It can only plead
‘Verweile doch!’

* * *

The Christian confession is that God is with man. Man is never isolated and
alone, not by nature a singular and sole being. Rather man is singular
because he is recognised and made singular by those who receive him as
such in freedom, thus constituted so by his relationships. The covenant of
person with person is derived from this fundamental covenant of God with
man. God has ‘married’ man to himself: man is thus at once a married and
a singular being. All human encounter is founded in God who is himself, and thus
one, and who is with us, and thus two and one with us. Marriage is the
fundamental demonstration of this unity and duality, singleness and

togetherness, of man. Every encounter and transaction of man with man
reveals and affirms our oneness and twoness. Each encounter and
transaction is an instantiation of the covenant of man with man, that rests
on the covenant of God with man. One person to person covenant,
marriage, is intended to witness to the promise of the permanence of
man’s relationship with his fellow. This fundamental covenant of marriage,
and the household it creates, gives purpose to all other encounters and

The covenant of God with man is primal: nothing is antecedent to it and nothing may
undo it. The source of all human oneness and unity is the covenant in which two
persons are created a single ‘person’. The covenant and single ‘person’ of two
married persons is primal and indissoluble. All other covenants, business
relationships and forms of the individual-state relationship are derivations of this
covenant; they will either acknowledge and honour it or attempt to substitute for it
and replace it. All transactions are one, only as they serve to reflect and support this
phenomenon that humans may be at once one and two, simultaneously single and
particular, and together and plural.

If we allow the monetised economy to encroach on the realm of marriage, in which

man is single and double, distinct and together, we are asking it to do too much.
Money can function as a medium of our encounter as long as we have a healthy
married and private household sector. Money cannot be the medium and unit of
human unity when it encroaches into this realm and starts to dissolve marriage, the
covenant which is the basis and source of the many other covenants represented by
our firms and other economic, civic and political institutions. One covenant is
intended for permanence, other covenants are long-term, many more are
short-term and still more are over as soon as begun. A society is healthy
to the degree that the long-term covenants are not eclipsed by the
shorter-term covenants. Person to person relationship, and so dialogue
and culture, should not be eclipsed by those relationships entirely
denominated by money. There must be many currencies and measures of
value that we regard as valid, and so as ‘money’, and thus money itself is
not only ‘one’ but also ‘many’. Money cannot succeed as the medium of our
encounter when the distinct sphere of culture and public discourse recede.
Economics stands in for culture in the short-term, but it cannot do so in the medium
term. If economics eclipsed the medium-term there will not only be no culture, but no
reproduction of the population that bears that economy and culture, and thus no
long-term at all.

In this paper I have suggested that the health of a society depends on its
readiness to observe these sets of distinctions. We started with the
distinction between man and woman, from which followed the distinctions
between marriage and all other form of association, between household
and market, between civil society and charitable sector and the state, and
between market and private sector of individual initiative and the state,
understood as public service supported by national consensus. We saw
that these distinctions are based on others. One is the distinction between
God and man, which is followed by the distinction between the Church and
world. The Church is the irreducibly particular community; it cannot be
assimilated, copied or substituted for. No society can dispense with the
obligation of listening to the Church without substituting a lower account
of man for a higher one. The Church is the community that points to what
man may yet be. The state cannot dispense with the obligation of listening

to the Church, without turning itself into an alternative church and so
becoming totalitarian and impinging on the freedom of man. From the
distinction between world and the Church preserves comes the distinction
between the present and the reconciliation of all things in the end time,
and thus the distinction between the present and the future. The Church
stands against all inclination to confuse or merge the present and future.
We need confidence in our present, and this comes from a comprehensive
account of our origins; a healthy present lives out of a generously-
conceived past. Only the society with a certain self-confidence in its
present does not prematurely try to draw the future forward.

Then we need to observe a further series of distinctions. There is the

distinction between the economy (market) and culture. The economy is
the material aspect of the sustenance of society, man for man. We are
embodied persons: the economic realm reflects the fact that our bodies
require material support. The Church is confident that it will receive its
renewal, so it asks only for each day’s bread. We must talk about culture
because we are embodied persons, who can receive their recognition and
renewal only from other persons, which is to say from humans formed by
the culture by which they can give each other such recognition. Thus
these two discourses, of economy and culture, may be distinguished, so
that each does its proper work in its own vocabulary, but they may not be
separated. Man may regard himself as unity of person and body, live well
before his contemporaries by referring to the covenant from which his
hope is sourced.

We have been comparing two accounts of man, one offered by Christian

theology the other represented by Modernity. One gives us the christology
in which Christ is the truth of man, and man can come into his true
identity as, in fellowship with God, he comes into fellowship with all men
and creation. He needs his fellow man to agree who he is and so to affirm
his identify. As Christ is the truth of man, so christology is the truth of
anthropology. But Modernity represents us with that other ‘man’ and
alternative anthropology, in which man is without God, without his fellow
man and without anything that is not himself. This man seeks to be his
own source and authority, and to be the one who can give him the
acknowledgement he needs and so he finds it difficult to concede the
claims of other creatures. This economic Man does not realise or concede
that he must give way to his own successors, that man is born and dies,
succeeds and is succeeded; he does not know about any past or future,
but regards himself as without beginning or end. If this man without
covenant who is the outcome of the modern economy, cannot
acknowledge love and gift and so is not able to concede deliberate
distribution. He is not able to concede that what we give must ultimately
be ourselves, that we committed to another, and that how much in terms
of goods and services we give, finally they amount only to our give of
ourselves. We may give ourselves – willingly and freely. But if we do not do
this willingly and freely, we spend ourselves without self-control or
freedom, nonetheless. The man and anthropology of modernity and the
modern economy is a one-generation only phenomenon. Love is the
concept that gives us continuity through time.

We have observed a number of dualities. We have said that there is the

duality of time, of present and future, of now and not yet. When we are

able to concede a givenness, we are also able to hope. We have said that
there is the duality of biological man, who is the product of a family, and
political man who receives his appraisal and acknowledgement in the
public arena. And we have remarked on some attempts to reduce these
dualities. We have been giving up our freedom as we have been giving up
responsibility, allowing the market to provide household service for us and
the state to carry risks and responsibilities for us, we give up our freedom
and enter a period of listlessness and fecklessness. Perhaps some
societies are no longer searching for reasons for their problems, and are
no longer able to raise their eyes to the issue of the future. The greatest
favour the Church can do any society is remain distinct from such a
society, and so preserve a duality of Church and world. Only the Church
that is absolutely sure of the covenant of God with man, secure in the love
of God and of the promise of this resurrection can look into the future
without fear and name the threats it sees. The confidence of the Church
sustains the open economy against the closed economy of paganism. To
say that we are the people summoned by God to witness to God is the
single constructive thing we can do for our society and for the human