Everyone knows that Presbyterians, not Lutherans, are the hard-working Protestants


Will writes from Washington, D.C. (well, Arlington, Virginia). You can reach him at willblogcorrespondence at gmail dot com.

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14 Responses

  1. Jaybird says:

    The “Great Man” theory of history is one that makes for the best stories around the campfire, which become the best scrolls, which become the best books, which become the best wikipedia articles.

    There are those of us, however, who have “great folks” in our own lives. Mom says that she never would have become a teacher if it weren’t for Aunt Doris, for example. I went through my membry banks and came up with six people who changed my life. Maybe not “I would be dead today if it weren’t for them!” changes, but I wouldn’t have this house/career/wife without them. “You gotta end up somewhere”, I hear you say and that is true.

    And yet.

    I have no problem thinking, for a second, that I wouldn’t be where I am today if it were not for my chemistry teacher in high school.

    It’s not hard to get from there to “we wouldn’t be where we are if it weren’t for Luther” (or whomever).Report

  2. Hudson says:

    It is a commonplace in America today to talk about “ordinary Americans doing exceptional things.” The idea being that it is basically undemocratic to talk about exceptionaly gifted citizens except, maybe, in sports. But, of course, there are exceptional individuals, in all times and places. Sometimes they make history, sometimes not.

    One can speak of the Elizabethan Age, without Shakespeare, and say that the time and place engendered an exceptional body of art and thought under the reign of the (I must say) exceptional Elizabeth I. You could say that England provided “fertile soil” for these men and women. And that is true, I believe. But it also sprouted Willy S., who stood above the rest, as we know, a man for all ages.Report

    • Will in reply to Hudson says:

      My intent is not to denigrate the achievements of exceptional individuals. Rather, my point was to highlight the conditions that gave rise to social changes we now associate with ‘The West’.Report

  3. Koz says:

    VDH has written a lot of things, and maybe you’re talking about something else. But as far as that link goes, I think VDH gets the better of the argument. From what I can see VDH is not arguing for the “great man” theory of history, and in fact ought to agree that great men of the West are the product of their social-economic environment. But, the social-economic environment (or at least the part of it that counts) is cultural, not topographical or based on access to raw materials.Report

  4. Hudson says:

    Will, despite your stated intentions, it seems to me that what you are saying easily plays into the hands of the cultural relativists who teach and claim, for example, that there are no real differences between North and South, in the Americas, that Henry Ford could just as easily have popped up in Vera Cruz as in Flint, Michigan. Indeed, they upbraid the West mercilessly for its past and present sins, all the while quietly ignoring the massive human tide moving from Central to North America and whatever destructive effects these peoples might wreck on our civilization. Moreover, these same relativists support and empower the illegals over the strong objections of our native population, be they Protestants, Catholics, Jews, whatever.

    Or, to put it differently, in what way does your position benefit the West?Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Hudson says:

      If life in general is just a random walk and some people stumble across success just as others stumble across failure and there is no rhyme, or reason, or any real way to push this one way or the other… well, somebody had to end up here.

      It was us.

      And anyone we happened to step on along the way, well… that’s just the way of the world and it ain’t anybody’s fault, one way or t’other.

      (That last part contains some amount of benefit, I imagine.)Report

    • Will in reply to Hudson says:

      Hudson –

      I will happily admit that the West is unique and, indeed, uniquely successful. My point is that European Ascendancy isn’t the result of some magical intrinsic quality like the Protestant work ethic.Report

  5. Donald A. Coffin says:

    FWIW, David Landes used the fragmentation of Europe argument (somewhere) in his The Wealth and Poverty of Nations…Report

  6. Hudson says:

    Yes, Jaybird, but the illegals don’t care about Wounded Knee, etc., our land is better than their land, and they’ve come to take their fair share, as they see it.Report

  7. Jonathan says:

    All right, some well-deserved love for us Presbyterians!

    Once, during a break at a church meeting in which we did a little study of Calvin at the beginning, a fellow committee member (who is very well educated) started explaining to me that capitalism is a very Protestant/Calvinist (I can’t remember which he said) philosophy/system. Though I’m a fan of Protestantism, Calvinism and capitalism, I was a little skeptical.

    The most interesting part is that my friend is a socialist who converted to Presbyterianism from the Coptic church.

    I have no idea what the implication of his statement was.Report

  8. Clint says:

    correlation, not causation. protestantism is a luxury good.Report