Always Go to the Nearest Restaurant or Church – Murray Rothbard and St. Augustine

I remember hearing a story about Murray Rothbard years ago. I forget who told it but they said that Mr. Rothbard, if he was asked to go out to dinner with whoever he was with, would always go to the closest restaurant to them. Why he did this the teller didn’t know, but I always thought it an interesting viewpoint, and in many cases I tried to follow it.

Once, while traveling, I needed to find a Catholic Church to go to. I had decided earlier to drive into the city to go to the grand Cathedral downtown. Like I was going as a tourist, to see the grandiosity of it, rather than as a parishioner going to worship God. But, at the last minute, I remembered the story of Mr. Rothbard and decided to go to the nearest Church. It was a good decision. It was a beautiful church, but more importantly, it fit my state of life at the moment, it was what I needed. To this day, I try to follow Mr. Rothbard’s example.

This note by St. Augustine is similar in spirit. He is discussing the customs peculiar to each church. This is true today, as every Mass will have the same structure, but each will recite prayers in different ways, use different metres in songs, etc.

So he says, go to the church where you are at, conform to the practice you find prevailing in the church where (you) happen to be:

“In regard to these and all other variable observances which may be met anywhere, one is at liberty to comply with them or not as he chooses. There is no better rule for the wise and serious Christian in this matter, than to conform to the practice he finds prevailing in the Church where he happens to be. For such a custom, if it is clearly not contrary to sound faith or morals, should be seen as something indifferent, and ought to be observed for the sake of fellowship with those among whom we live.

St. Augustine, from The Fathers of the Church by Mike Aquilina

Maybe this has something to do with why Mr. Rothbard chose the closest restaurant – because you are in a community, and to stay in that community – to eat, work or go to church, is to build it up, for the “sake of fellowship with those among whom we live.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *