John Cort has taken on a vexed and interesting topic: the politics of Christianity. As intellectual history, Christian Socialism deserves a straight A-even if, as political advocacy, it’s less easy to grade.
Cort has subtitled his book “An Informal History,” but it’s hard to see how a more “formal” approach (whatever this distinction signifies, apart from the author’s welcome lack of academic tonelessness and timidity) could have improved it. Though not encylopedic, Christian Socialism is comprehensive and judicious, full of vivid detail and narrative momentum. The only significant omission, acknowledged by Cort, is a discussion of Jacques Maritain. But then Maritain’s social thought is so bound up with his abstruse and difficult neo-Thomist metaphysics that his exclusion is probably a felix culpa....
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