In March 2005 Thomas E. Woods, Jr. published a book titled The Church and the Market : A Catholic Defense of the Free Economy (Lexington Books). A summary of the book is included in one of Wood's columns, Capitalism and Catholicism (LewRockwell.com February 14, 2005).
In light of its chosen subject matter and based on a number of reviews I've read by some credible sources, I saw fit to include it in my website, The Church and the Liberal Tradition, which focuses in part on the interpretation and application of Catholic social doctrine and Catholic approaches to economics.
Writing for the blog 'Catholic Neocon Observer' -- dedicated in theory to "a clinical observation of the spread of the neoconservative [re: predominantly Jewish] virus within the Catholic print and electronic media," but extending in practice to criticism of Catholics who would hardly fit the elusive "neocon" profile -- Thomas Herron (Culture Wars) reads something more into my inclusion of Wood's book.
In his January 2006 post, "Selective Dissent on Catholic Moral Teachings: Economics Department", Herron states:
It appears that Christopher Blosser the web master of The Church and the Liberal Tradition, has made the acquaintance of Dr. Woods and they have become friends which wouldn't be surprising as "the Augustinian-Whig tradition" that Blosser talks about apparently is fairly close to the libertarianism that Thomas WoodsIn a subsequent March 2006 post, Herron revisits the allegation:
Now apparently Mr. Blosser and Dr. Woods are acquaintances in the New York City Tridentine Mass group and we know that it's good to give your friends a boost in your web site . . .That Herron relies entirely on hearsay is evident at this point, as Woods and I have never had the pleasure of meeting in person, in New York city much less at a 'Tridentine Mass group.' My friendship with Dr. Woods has not developed beyond a brief exchange of email last year, our discussion limited to his motivation for writing The Church and the Market.
Also, if I may take a moment to correct Mr. Herron, the term isn't "Augustinian-Whig" but rather "Whig-Thomist" -- which refers to Michael Novak and a few other Catholic scholars who are appreciative of the classical liberal tradition. Given Herron's unfamiliarity with the term and the "Whig-Thomist" / "Augustinian-Thomist" debate, he may want to refer to the very website he has just mentioned, as well as Dr. Tracy Rowland's two-part interview "Benedict XVI, Thomism, and Liberal Culture" (Zenit, May 27, 2005), and my post Aquinas:"First Whig?" - Novak's Catholic Whig Tradition (Religion and Liberty September 21, 2005).
Fuming over Fringewatch and My Alleged "Jewish Neocon" Backers
Mr Herron appears to be particularly upset over a February 2006 collaborative investigation into the background of IHS Press and its founders, John Sharpe and Derek Holland: "IHS Press, Potential Fascist & Antisemitic Connections, Etc.: A Chronicle of Disturbing Patterns" (Against the Grain February 27, 2006). This particular post was a summarization of the investigative series FringeWatch, a blog by Matt Anger devoted to "monitoring the attempted neo-fascist and racist infiltration of conservative/traditional Catholicism."
In the course of his "rebuttal" to the investigation "straining out the gnat, but swallowing the camel", Herron refers to Dale Vree's editorial (What is a Neoconservative? And does it Matter? New Oxford Review December 2005), in which Vree mentions an alleged offer of support by a "neocon foundation," musing
Michael Novak (very pro-Israel) founded Crisis . . . and Fr. Neuhaus (also very pro-Israel) founded First Things, both with huge financial support from neocon foundations. So the neocons found a way to get Catholic and Christian magazines to front for their largely Jewish neocon interests . . . .Vree's neocon-conspiracy theorizing prompts Herron to speculate in turn:
Now isn't it amazing that Mr. Blosser has two web sites dealing with exactly these topics [Just War[?] and The Church and the Liberal Tradition], and it isn't amazing that the attacks on Dale Vree and New Oxford Review started in earnest in St. Blog's Parish when he made this revelation? Just wondering, if that Jewish neocon who visited Dale Vree long ago, took the subway out to visit Christopher Blosser in Queens, N.Y.? Mr. Blosser thinks that I'm attacking him and his family for being recent converts to the Catholic Church. Nothing could be further from the truth, I'd just like to know if he has hidden sponsors.Well, Mr. Herron -- nothing could be further from the truth. I have received neither a visitation nor an offer of financial backing by a "Jewish neocon," and the various online projects I'm engaged in are largely the result of my own inspiration.
Besides, my influence over St. Blog's parish is largely exaggerated. Criticism of Dale Vree "started in earnest" quite some time ago, and (if I recall) chiefly as a result of Vree's sniping at Amy Welborn, Mark Shea, Scott Hahn, Dave Morrison, et al, each of whom have their own reasons for taking issue with New Oxford Review.
If Mr. Herron is truly curious about my own criticism, he can read all about it in Dale Vree and the New Oxford Review (Against the Grain February 10, 2006); and my subsequent criticism of Vree's interpretation of just war reasoning, Toward a Proper Understanding of the Catholic Just War Tradition (May 18, 2006).
The title of Herron's post, "straining out the gnat, but swallowing the camel", refers (again) to my willingness to include Dr. Wood's The Church and the Market, and the fact that I have scrupulously removed books published by IHS Press from my website. Herron asks:
In view of Christopher Blosser's stated scrupulosity with recommending books on his web site from questionable sources, how does he explain an outright attack on the popes which clearly state that they should not be listened to because they don't understand the "science" of economics?"Suffice to say in light of Matt Anger's investigation of IHS Press and my own confrontation of John Sharpe's promotion of anti-semitic works by his organization (The Legion of St. Louis), I have strong reservations about linking to this particular publisher. With respect to The Church and the Market, I know enough by way of reviews (and my own familiarity with Woods' columns on this topic) to give Dr. Woods the benefit of the doubt.
When I was informed of "Catholic Neocon Observer" (and its various allegations about me), I weighed the tedious chore of responding against the likely possibility that, in so doing, I would risk providing Thomas Herron with the online audience he so desperately craves. However, seeing as how Bill Cork has felt compelled to respond to far more serious charges ("From the Fringe ..." Built on a Rock May 20, 2006), I decided now was as good an opportunity as any to get it over with.
Inasmuch as my alleged friendship with Dr. Thomas Woods and financial backing by "Jewish neocons" have caused Mr. Herron no small amount of concern, it is my hope that this post will relieve him of his worries.
- A response to Thomas J. Herron (Culture Wars) September 13, 2005.