Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Information

21 J. L. & Religion 413 (2005-2006)


Consider two phrases in Professor Marie Failinger's charge to those of us discussing Jeffrey Stout's Democracy and Tradition, October 28, 2005, at Hamline University: (i) "How would we construct a real democratic sociality holding each other responsible for ethical life that would warrant trust in democracy? . . . and, (ii) How do the religious traditions help us reflect on this issue?"

My reflection, probably sectarian, refers more to where we come from than to what we choose. The reference here is to three communities, none of which is primarily concerned with "real democratic sociality." But none of them is radically withdrawn; all three of them contribute to the civil community, if only in the way that my late friend and teacher John Howard Yoder meant when he said in our conversations that, for all their separation, the Mennonites of Northern Indiana were as concerned as anybody else with getting the potholes filled.

The three communities I am thinking of are (a) the community of believers formed in the tradition of the Radical Reformation, the Anabaptists; (b) the community of Italian-American immigrants who formed their children in a communal virtue they named rispetto—the virtue that trains a person to be a member in a family; and then radiates out—so that rispetto is practiced in ethnic community, in civil community, nation, and world; and (c) the community contemplated in modem Roman Catholic social teaching on solidarity, which is, among other things, the virtue that trains members of the community to seek the common good, the good that is common.


Reprinted with permission of Journal of Law and Religion.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.