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America’s Spiritual Capital

America's Spiritual Capital

Capaldi, Nicholas N. and Malloch, Theodore Roosevelt

This book tells a story, a story about America’s spiritual capital. Spiritual capital is the fund of beliefs, examples, and commitments that are transmitted from generation to generation through a religious tradition, and which attach people to the transcendent source of fulfillment and happiness. America has created the greatest civilization the world has ever known, and it has done this because of its spiritual capital, the values and beliefs by which individual Americans have interpreted and transformed the world. The Judeo-Christian heritage has historically served as the spiritual capital of America. It is not only the spiritual quest of modernity, but that quest has evolved into globalization, and America, because of its spiritual capital, has been able to provide leadership for that quest. The larger thesis is that America is by virtue of its specific spiritual capital heritage not only the beneficiary of its advantages but also the leading exemplar of the spiritual quest of modernity. It is because is engaged in a spiritual quest that it can exercise world leadership as opposed to domination and oppression.

The authors examine the extent to which economic development, growth, and entrepreneurship depend on spiritual capital. They argue that there is a symbiotic relation between America’s spiritual capital and our political institutions and freedoms. The argument here is that the substantive spiritual vision supports the political and economic procedural norms of a free society.

Like any form of capital, spiritual capital may lie dormant or be wasted, it may be used productively, it may be augmented, and it may be diminished or eroded. In the final chapter, we point out how the heritage is under assault from a variety of sources and what happens when scientific, technological, economic, and political institutions are detached from their spiritual roots. The result is a natural progression from governmental bureaucratic centralization to secularism to reductive materialism and ultimately to a social-collectivist conception of human welfare. Within the story there is an argument, namely, that these achievements will not be sustained without that heritage, and for all of the above reasons the heritage needs to be reaffirmed. The authors argue that the future of modernity, globalization, and America depend on the extent to which there is a reaffirmation of America’s spiritual capital.

“A very graceful statement of important truths.” – Rodney Stark, author of The Victory of Reason

“Weaving the thoughts of two millennia into a flying carpet, Capaldi and Malloch give us a breathless ride through intellectual history and a breathtaking overview of how America’s spiritual capital grew.” – Dr. Marvin Olasky, Editor-in-chief, WORLD and Father of “compassionate conservatism”

“America and its commercial civilization are far more reliant on those religious and spiritual impulses that have shaped the Republic from its very beginning. It’s paradoxical that in an age of apparent secularization, the centrality of what is increasingly called “spiritual capital” to entrepreneurship, rule of law, free exchange, and risk-taking is becoming more evident. In America’s Spiritual Capital, Nicholas Capaldi and Theodore Roosevelt Malloch have done all of us a service by explaining the complex and productive relationship between free societies, economic progress, and human creativity through the medium of spiritual capital. It’s a concept whose time has long been coming and, in Capaldi and Malloch, it has found worthy and wise interpreters and teachers.” – Samuel Gregg, Director of Research, Acton Institute

“While the idea and reality of social capital has become widely recognized, spiritual capital has been largely ignored. Yet it offers, as this book so ably demonstrates, a valuable conceptual and empirical framework for the understanding and renewal of contemporary culture.” – Dr Peter S Heslam, University of Cambridge

“America’s Spiritual Capital provides a defense of free markets and the free society which builds on a sound moral and religious framework. It is neither grounded in a narrow libertarian ideological framework nor the professional jargon of the economist. A refreshing read.” – William F. Campbell, Secretary, The Philadelphia Society

“America’s Spiritual Capital is a unique part of modernity and a force for good. Without it our own religious liberty would suffer and with it our role in the world is made more significant.” – Nina Shae, Director, Center for Religious Freedom, The Hudson Institute

“America’s path forward must be illuminated by knowledge of its history and institutions of government. A free society cannot maintain its liberty without a clear understanding of the spirit that animates and informs its practices of self-government and individual responsibility. Our college and university students and trustees both would benefit from taking this book to heart.” Anne D.Neal, President, American Council of Trustees and Alumni

“America’s history, from the Founders to the present is a spiritual journey in liberty; this timely book lays out how that came to be and why it is so critical for our future freedom.” Christopher L.Talley, President and CEO, Liberty Fund

Nicholas Capaldi is Legendre-Soulé Distinguished Chair in Business Ethics at Loyola University, New Orleans. He also serves as Director of the National Center for Business Ethics. He is the author of seven books, over 80 articles, and editor of six anthologies. He is a member of the editorial board of six journals and has served most recently as editor of Public Affairs Quarterly.

Theodore Roosevelt Malloch is Chairman and Chief Executive officer of The Roosevelt Group, a leading strategic management and thought leadership company. His most recent books are: Spiritual Enterprise: Doing Virtuous Business, Encounter Books 2008 (over 25,000 copies sold) and Renewing American Culture: The Pursuit of Happiness, 2006, with Scott Massey, which has been made into an Emmy-nominated PBS documentary.

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