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Friday Five: Does America Still Have What It Takes?

On Friday’s we bring you the best from around the web. This week’s round-up includes analysis of religion in America, a reflection on Joseph the Worker, and more.

1. Does America Still Have What It Takes?: Drawing from his extensive research into some of the most notable cultural achievements of Western civilization, Charles Murray evaluates the current state of American society and finds:

When a government is increasingly hostile to innovation, as America’s is, and a society is decreasingly industrious, as America’s is, and a culture stops lionizing innovators, as America’s has, and elites increasingly deny that life has transcendent purpose, as America’s do, innovation must be expected to diminish markedly.

2. The Christian Penumbra: Ross Douthat addresses what he describes as the “Christian penumbra,” the inconsistencies between those who claim a Christian identity and the social impacts of their lives.

The social goods associated with faith flow almost exclusively from religious participation, not from affiliation or nominal belief. And where practice ceases or diminishes, in what you might call America’s “Christian penumbra,” the remaining residue of religion can be socially damaging instead.

3. Arthur Brooks’s Push to Make the American Enterprise Institute—and Republicans—Relevant Again: This Newsweek article outlines AEI’s compelling vision under Arthur Brooks’s leadership.

“He understands the need to put public policy in moral and ethical terms in ways that touch the heart, not just the mind,” said Wehner. Politics needs a narrative, he said, and Brooks “has a lot to offer there.”

4. My Newfound Appreciation for Joseph the Worker: Elise Amyx highlights the admirable virtues of the oft-overlooked Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus. Through his humble, faithful, and excellent work, Joseph offers an inspiring example of how to serve God through our vocations.

The work of Joseph’s hands embodied humility, reminding us that we each have the opportunity to express virtue through our work… Joseph reflected God’s nature while laboring away with his wood. Whenever he built, he imitated the way the Lord “built” the vast universe with wonderful skill.

5. Capitalism Is Not the Enemy of Virtue: In response to claims about the moral deficit and lack of virtue of capitalistic corporations such as Hobby Lobby, Andy Quinn proposes:

Christianity holds that Truth is a road we must freely choose to walk, not a carefully-fenced trail where straying off course is impossible. Individual choice and agency may not make our spiritual lives simpler, but it makes them uniquely rewarding. If capitalism has introduced the same wrinkle in our economic lives as well, we should rise to the challenge, not perpetually mourn a very imperfect past.