On Gratitude

On Gratitude

I started today intending to write about Fiducia Supplicans, the Papal declaration “On the Pastoral Meaning of Blessings.”  Not long into the process, however, I called it quits – for two reasons.

First, I’m not sure what I would add to what I’ve already said about the Church, its current leadership, and the specific issue of conforming to the social and political norms of the present day:

One of the great tragedies of the Enlightenment and its aftermath was that the Church, of all institutions, lost faith in its legitimacy and in the legitimacy of its mission.  As a result, it surrendered that mission’s otherworldliness and agreed to fight only on temporal grounds.  In other words, when the Church responded to its attackers, it did so not on its own terms, but on the terms – and in the terms – of those attackers.  Rather than focus on its mission and the eternal truths for which it had become the earthly vessel, the Church became distracted.  The problem wasn’t that the Church failed to defend itself, but that it did so on the foreign turf of the rationalist philosophers, economists, sociologists, and politicians.  And it continues to do so.

When Immanuel Kant insisted that God’s existence cannot be proved by philosophy, science, or reason, Christianity should have conceded and moved on.  Christianity is not about proving those things to nonbelievers.  It is about fostering the faith necessary to believe them without proof.

Second, and more to the point, confusion and frustration are not the themes I want to embrace in what will (likely) be my last note of the year.  As I have remarked many times recently, these are generally dark days for much of the world, and the last thing I want to do is add to that darkness.

Rather, I would like to do my humble best to embrace the spirit of the following, written by a Catholic scholar far less confusing and exasperating than Pope Francis, the inimitable G.K. Chesterton: “I hope it is not pompous to call the chief idea of my life; I will not say the doctrine I have always taught, but the doctrine I should always have liked to teach. That is the idea of taking things with gratitude, and not taking things for granted.”

The list of those to whom I have cause to be grateful this year is long.  If I forget any of you, please accept my apologies in advance.  As the color of my hair and beard can attest, I ain’t as young as I used to be, and my memory wanes.  Additionally, I know that some of you would rather not be acknowledged by name (for various reasons), and I am happy to oblige.

First, and most obviously, my eternal thanks to my erstwhile boss and longtime partner in this operation, Mark Melcher, who will be 84 in less than two months but remains a font of intellectual inspiration; and also to my longtime partner in life, the lovely and talented Mrs. Soukup, who, among other things puts up with me.

My thanks to the good folks at the Free Enterprise Project (Scott Shepard, Stefan Padfield, and Ethan Peck) for continuing to tackle the issues of stakeholder activism head-on; to my friends at Strive Asset Management, who work tirelessly every day to restore a shareholder-centric approach to capital markets; and also to the rest of the loose confederation of individuals and organizations who have found new ways to quantify, qualify, and otherwise identify the near-constant predations against free and fair markets.

My deepest gratitude to my friend Bill McMorris for, among other things, commissioning my essay on Justin Trudeau for The Spectator World; to various editors at various publications throughout the conservative media-space, who have published my brain droppings, most especially Andrew Stuttaford, the editor of the “Capital Matters” section and newsletter at National Review Online; also to Russ Greene from Stand Together, who had the patience and resilience to co-author a piece with me for NRO.

My profound thanks to my new colleagues at Consumers Research, “America’s oldest consumer protection agency;” to Will Hild, our fearless leader, and Beau Brunson, who puts up with my “flexible” writing schedule to put together our public pension newsletter every week; and to the people and organizations that support CR and supported my senior fellowship there, but whom I will not mention by name, lest the mainstream media write scary profiles about them and us and how we’re dastardly trying to undermine ESG and, thereby, destroy the world.

My eternal and unqualified thanks to the folks at Encounter Books, who not only published The Dictatorship of Woke Capital two years ago but also kindly published a paperback edition (with an all-new preface by the author!) this past spring.  My gratitude to them as well for their ongoing patience and support with the follow-up project; and to Andy Puzder for working with me in that project (whether or not the final product reflects that work).  To Roger Kimball in particular for his support in these and other endeavors.

To the Axel & Margaret Ax:son Johnson Foundation for including me in its annual Engelsberg Ideas Summit and as a contributor to its anthology on “woke” (which will be out next Spring).

As I said, there are many, many more whom I should thank, some I’ve forgotten and others who know who you are (and know why you’re not mentioned by name).  Many of you helped – selflessly, generously, to no benefit of your own – this struggling operation search for a new home when circumstances dictated.  I can’t thank you enough for your kindness and diligence.

Most importantly, though, I want to thank all of you, gentle readers.  Without you, there would be no point in any of this.  As a participant in other newsletters, I have been told twice recently that 25% or 30% open rates are considered pretty good.  This “letter” is consistently (as in every day) opened by 50% of you, and some 70+% of you are considered “frequently engaged” by the analytics compilations.  Many of you engage with me directly on a regular basis and are forgiving when I take excessively long to respond to emails.  Many of you share your thoughts and inspire my own.  Above all, you put up with my typos, my unedited rambling, and my (more than) occasional missives on “unorthodox” subjects (especially for what is ostensibly a market-related newsletter).  Thank you.

Merry Christmas to all of you and best wishes for a happy and prosperous New Year.

Thank you again for your kindness, friendship, and remarkable support.

With Gratitude,


Stephen Soukup
Stephen Soukup
[email protected]

Steve Soukup is the Vice President and Publisher of The Political Forum, an “independent research provider” that delivers research and consulting services to the institutional investment community, with an emphasis on economic, social, political, and geopolitical events that are likely to have an impact on the financial markets in the United States and abroad.