ResearchLinks – 11.02.12
Religion & Liberty Online

ResearchLinks – 11.02.12

Encyclopedia Entry: “Arts”
Tyler Cowen. The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. 2d ed. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2007.

General economic principles govern the arts. Most important, artists use scarce means to achieve ends—and therefore recognize trade-offs, the defining aspects of economic behavior. Also, many other economic aspects of the arts make the arts similar to the more typical goods and services that economists analyze.

Article: “Freedom — A Suggested Analysis”
Lon L. Fuller. “Freedom — A Suggested Analysis.” Harvard Law Review 68, no. 8 (1955): 1305-1325.

During recent decades the concept of freedom has been undergoing a progressive deterioration and dissipation of meaning. This decline of a once precious symbol we cannot blame on the unpleasant developments that have taken place in Russia, Italy, and Germany. Though words like “democracy” have been degraded and contaminated by totalitarian misuse, so far “freedom” has largely escaped this fate. If this word, which once seemed to serve as a sure compass and guide, has begun to point in too many directions at once, we have ourselves chiefly to blame.

Article: “Social Networks and Religion”
Samuel Stroope. “Social Networks and Religion: The Role of Congregational Social Embeddedness in Religious Belief and Practice.” Sociology of Religion 73, no. 3 (2012): 273-298.

Previous literature argues that social networks influence religiosity, but surprisingly, no studies have used national data of a variety of religious traditions to assess the relationship between embeddedness in congregation-based friendship networks and different dimensions of religiosity. This study uses new national data (Baylor Religion Survey 2007) to estimate models of religious activity (church activities and devotional activities) and of religious belief (supernatural beliefs, biblical literalism, and religious exclusivity). Among U.S. Christians, congregational social embeddedness is a robust predictor of all religiosity outcomes and is among the largest effects in models. These effects are not substantially moderated by religious tradition, although Catholic affiliation attenuates the positive relationship between social embeddedness and church activities. These findings strongly suggest that social sanctions and solidarity rewards within congregational social networks play an important role in heightening religiosity. Religious research would be enhanced by devoting greater attention to the importance of congregational social embeddedness.

Book Note: “On the Law in General”
Girolamo Zanchi. On the Law in General. Translated by Jeffrey J. Veenstra. With an introduction by Stephen J. Grabill. Grand Rapids: CLP Academic, 2012.

On the Law in General is a single chapter of Girolamo Zanchi’s Tractatus de Redemptione, part of what has been called an unfinished Protestant “summa” akin to that of Thomas Aquinas. In this selection Zanchi examines the relationship of the natural law to human law, church tradition, custom, divine laws, and the Mosaic law, offering a rigorous analysis of the nature of law in general, constituting a seminal work in early modern political and legal theory.

Article: “Leeson on The Law and Economics of Monastic Malediction”
Peter T. Leeson. “‘God Damn’: The Law and Economics of Monastic Malediction.” Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization (2012).

Today monks are known for turning the other cheek, honoring saints, and blessing humanity with brotherly love. But for centuries they were known equally for fulminating their foes, humiliating saints, and casting calamitous curses at persons who crossed them. Clerics called these curses “maledictions.” This article argues that medieval communities of monks and canons used maledictions to protect their property against predators where government and physical self-help were unavailable to them. To explain how they did this I develop a theory of cursing with rational agents. I show that curses capable of improving property protection when cursors and their targets are rational must satisfy three conditions. They must be grounded in targets’ existing beliefs, monopolized by cursors, and unfalsifiable. Malediction satisfied these conditions, making it an effective institutional substitute for conventional institutions of clerical property protection.

Jordan J. Ballor

Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is director of research at the Center for Religion, Culture & Democracy, an initiative of the First Liberty Institute. He has previously held research positions at the Acton Institute and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and has authored multiple books, including a forthcoming introduction to the public theology of Abraham Kuyper. Working with Lexham Press, he served as a general editor for the 12 volume Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology series, and his research can be found in publications including Journal of Markets & Morality, Journal of Religion, Scottish Journal of Theology, Reformation & Renaissance Review, Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Faith & Economics, and Calvin Theological Journal. He is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary and the Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity & Politics at Calvin University.