The key to one of the greatest questions of the historical guild, referred to in North’s The #1 Historical Question Is Unanswered and How Come We Are So Rich? – the source of the lecture “How Come We Are So Rich?”, provided below:
And it is answered by Deidre McCloskey, a man who rejected his manhood with surgical ferocity, but whose academic work is held in very high esteem by North – and if North respects his work, you know it’s top-tier stuff…
North summarize the video below:
If McCloskey is correct, then it was one main idea, not investment capital, that created modern economic growth and therefore the modern world. The idea was this: entrepreneurial wealth is morally legitimate. The rich man was finally acknowledged to have dignity. All men are equal before the law. “All men have a go at great wealth.” The transformation began in early seventeenth-century Netherlands. It was the preaching of Calvinist ministers that began this change.
So, why did God (quite likely) give the answer to such a critical question to a genius with a bizarre and self-destructive desire, emphatically supported by our morally ill and dying society?
I can’t help but see it as a reproof to all those escapist, lazy, and third-rate slacker Christians who refused to investigate the mysteries He has laid out for us, or to expand His dominion in all ways, including the intellectual disciplines.
The truth must come out, but those who have the natural right to do so refuse to lift a finger to bring the truth to light. So God turns to what is basically an uncompromising cross-dresser to get His truth out.
You can hardly say that He was wrong to do so: after all, we all know how many churches stand four-square behind a popular adulterer, or thief, or out-and-out liar: or, for that matter, a woman preacher (which is in direct defiance of Scripture). If He chooses an instrument that has a more unusual besetting and unpopular sin, what of it?
Especially if said instrument must be acknowledged in all future credible histories of Christian economic thought, regardless of how moralistic and sin-despising any future Christian society may be.
Will supposedly-righteous, endlessly-moralizing, actually bone-lazy conservative Christians simply refuse to do the work of God?
(Points to the distinct lack of conservative Protestants with the multi-decade commitment needed to get on the Supreme Court…)
Well then, He will call forth perverse instruments to do His work… and so slap us in the face with our failure, to our shame.
And about moralizers and deviants…
Aurelius is pictured as a man who just wanted to end the bloodshed. In fact, he was a systematic persecutor of Christians, beginning as soon as he ascended to power in 161. Justin Martyr died under his reign. Aurelius escalated his persecutions in 177.
Commodus generally left the church alone. He was too busy with his 600 concubines, half of whom were women. “Make love, not martyrs” was his motto.
Academics love Aurelius because he wrote his MEDITATIONS. He was the first and last emperor who could be regarded as a philosopher-king in Plato’s tradition. He revoked men’s liberty, and he was succeeded by a debauched tyrant who was worse.
Commodus reigned for twelve years. He died at the hands — literally — of a wrestler who had been hired to assassinate him. The conspirators included the leader of the Praetorian guard and his favorite (female) concubine.
As rulers go, the pervert Commodus was a far better one than the stoic philosopher-monster Marcus Aurelius, beloved by our Intellectual Superiors.
The computer-generated scenes of the Coliseum are astounding. The horror of that magnificent structure should remind us: we have been delivered. For six centuries, the blood lust of those games addicted an entire society. How addictive? Read Augustine’s contemporary account of a friend of his who swore off the games, then was lured back in, and could not quit for years. This was in the final years of the games, when Rome’s emperor was a Christian. This is from Book VI of his CONFESSIONS.
The key passage is section 13.
GLADIATOR is a movie that gets most of the facts wrong, yet gets the story right. You will leave the theater filled with thanksgiving for the way of life we live today. For this, we can thank Commodus far more than Marcus Aurelius. He left the Christians alone. They inherited the political system in 325 A.D. Constantine, the first Christian emperor (he said), officially shut down the games in 326, but they survived in the Western half of the Empire. The games were finally shut down for good in 404, over 600 years after they began.
What? You never heard of this before?
Well, that’s hardly a surprise. The Establishment loves universal, widespread ignorance, especially ignorance of Christianity’s beneficial impact on the whole world. (With the eager assistance of man-pleasing Christian intellectuals, naturally.) An ignorant people is an easily-led people, after all.
Now, doctrinairely-correct Christians can continue to be worthless servants, leaving the Holy Work of expanding Divine dominion, truth, and liberty to cross-dressers today and the future researchers of Islamic Europe tomorrow, just as it was left to Kant-following atheistic Jewish economists to lay down the failures of Marxism and the importance of political & economic liberty. (Done at a time when the brain-dead idiocy of conservatism was the predominant focus of ‘Christian’ – read, warmed-over Right-wing Enlightenment – thought.)
Or, Christians can decide to cast their chains of laziness and slacker ignorance aside, and build the Kingdom of God – first in the spirit of obedience to Christ and His Law-Word, then to the glory of revealing hidden truths, then to disciplining the nations under the tutelage of Christ the King.