Anyone who has been a libertarian for any length of time has probably been accused of being “religious” in their political beliefs at some point. The term is used to dismiss libertarianism as being somehow faith-based, or dogmatic and impermeable to reason (never mind the centuries of rigorous philosophical and economic work that underly libertarian thinking) and therefore not worth taking seriously.
My own tendency has been to defend libertarian thought by pointing to those centuries of important work, and to the evidence both throughout history and in the present day demonstrating that the more free people are, the better off they are. But I’ve come to realize, recently, that those who have accused me of being “religious” in my opinions all these years aren’t entirely wrong.
I owe this new revelation to Father Brown.
I started watching the current BBC series when I learned that it was based on stories by G.K. Chesterton. I know, the series is very different from the stories. I’ve read some of them and I do know that. But however the show measures up against its inspiration, it is an absolute gem that stands apart from most of what is on television – and in 2018 that’s saying quite a lot. The show is deceptive in its simplicity, and downright shocking in its non-cynical portrayal of a protagonist who is driven by principle.
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In the BBC version, Father Brown is a Catholic priest serving the idyllic – yet astonishingly crime-ridden – town of Kembleford, in the Cotswolds. He is also an amateur sleuth who consistently shows up the local police, solving crimes that they cannot. Yet throughout, his focus is on…