Saturday, February 03, 2007

Jesus in the Talmud

From Amy Welborn:

We'll no doubt see much discussion of this forthcoming book: Jesus in the Talmud. From Publishers' Weekly:

Will Peter Schaefer's new book, Jesus in the Talmud (Mar.), be controversial? "I'm afraid so," Schaefer told RBL. "That's why I'm nervous."

His editor at Princeton University Press, Brigitta van Rheinberg, laughed but agreed: "You think, oh, whoa, this is not going to go over well in certain circles."

Schaefer, who heads up Princeton's Judaic studies program, has collected and analyzed all the passages in the Talmud that apparently refer to the founder of Christianity, texts that were previously censored from Talmud editions for centuries. In his book he argues—against other scholars—that the scandalous passages indeed refer not to some other figure of ancient times but to the famous Jesus of Nazareth.

What exactly is so scandalous? How about Jesus punished in Hell for eternity by being made to sit in a cauldron of boiling excrement? That image appears in early manuscripts of the Babylonian Talmud, as does a brief account of Jesus' trial and execution—not by the Romans but by the Jewish high court, the Sanhedrin. The Jewish community, to the extent Jews were even aware of these excised texts, has been content to let them remain obscure and unknown.

Schaefer, a distinguished German-born Christian scholar who describes classical rabbinic literature as "my first love," has now definitively let the cat out of the bag. This undermines a widespread assumption that, of Judaism's and Christianity's respective sacred texts, only the Christian Gospels go out of their way to assail the rival faith, whereas Judaism's classical texts refrain from similar attacks.
It seems fair to say now, however, that the Talmud is every bit as offensive to Christians as the Gospels are to Jews.

Fr. Neuhaus:
These questions are likely to come in for more attention with the publication next month of Peter Schafer’s Jesus in the Talmud (Princeton University Press). Schafer is head of Judaic studies at Princeton, and his book studies references to Jesus in both the Palestinian and Babylonian versions of the Talmud (around 500 A.D.), some of which have been excised from subsequent editions over the centuries. There is, for instance, the assertion that Jesus is being punished in hell for all eternity by being forced to sit in a cauldron of boiling excrement. More to the point of the present discussion, a text of the Babylonian Talmud offers a brief account of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus by the Jewish Sanhedrin and not by the Romans. Schafer’s book aims to serve the cause of historical truth and, while some worry about its potential for complicating Jewish-Christian relations, we should not be surprised that, in the relationship between these two communities, polemics have not been entirely one-sided. Nor should we draw an easy moral equivalence between polemicists. After the destruction of Temple Judaism by the Romans in 70 A.D., the contest between the two traditions of Judaism–Rabbinical Judaism and the Church–had, by the fourth century, overwhelmingly turned to the advantage of those who believed Jesus is the fulfillment of Israel’s messianic promise.

Might it be that "right-wing" Catholic apologists are not wrong in pointing out how the Talmud is hostile to Christianity? There probably are real and genuine anti-Semites who use the Talmud to justify their hatred of Jews. Nonetheless, PC-ness should not blind us to what the texts of the Talmud might actually say. The publication of the book will undoubtedly bring about a new round of controversy.

For future reference: the Bradley method

Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth

Father Cantalamessa on Fish and Sheep

Father Cantalamessa on Fish and Sheep

Pontifical Household Preacher Comments on Sunday's Readings

ROME, FEB. 2, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of a commentary by the Pontifical Household preacher, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, on the readings from this Sunday's liturgy.

* * *

Fishers of men
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 6:1-2a,3-8; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Luke 5:1-11

The miraculous catch was the proof that convinced a fisherman like Simon Peter.

After they returned to shore he fell down at Jesus' feet saying, "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man." But Jesus answered him with these words that represent the culmination of the story, and the reason for which it was recorded: "Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be a fisher of men."

Jesus uses two images to illustrate the task of his co-workers: fishermen and shepherds.

For fear that modern man find these images little respectful of his dignity and reject them, let us explain their meaning. Today no one likes to be "fished for" by another, or be a sheep in a flock.

The first observation that should be made is this: Ordinarily in fishing the fisherman is after his own good and not that of the fish. The same goes for the shepherd. He shepherds and cares for his flock not for the good of the flock, but for his own good because the flock furnishes him with milk, wool and food.

In the Gospel we find just the opposite: the fisherman who serves the fish; the shepherd who sacrifices for the sheep to the point of giving his life for them. When we talk about men being "fished" for it is not a disgrace, but salvation.

Imagine people who find themselves cast upon the waves in the high seas after a shipwreck, at night, in the cold; seeing a rope or a lifeboat lowered for them is not humiliation, but their supreme hope. This is how we must understand the work of fishers of men: They are like those who lower a lifeboat into the sea, often in the midst of a storm, for those who are in danger of their lives.

But the difficulty which I noted reappears in another form. Let's say that we do need shepherds and fishermen. Why is it that some should have the role of fishermen and others of fish, and some that of shepherds and others that of sheep and flock. The relationship between fisherman and fish, as that between shepherd and sheep, suggests the idea of inequality, of superiority. No one likes being just a number in the flock and recognizing a shepherd over him.

Here we need to rid ourselves of a certain prejudice. In the Church no one is only a fisherman or only a shepherd, and no one is only a fish or a sheep. We are all, in different ways, all at the same time. Christ is the only one who is simply a fisherman and simply a shepherd.

Before becoming a fisher of men Peter himself was fished for and fished for again, many times. He was, literally, fished for when, walking on the waves, he was overcome with fear and was on the point of sinking; he was fished for again, above all, after his betrayal of Jesus. He had to experience what it meant to be a "lost sheep" so that he could learn what it meant to be a good shepherd; he had to be fished out of the depths of the abyss into which he had fallen in order to learn what it meant to be a fisher of men.

If, in a different way, all the baptized are both fished for and fishermen themselves, then here there opens up a large field of action for the laity. We priests are better prepared to be shepherds than we are to be fishermen. We find it easier to nourish with the word and the sacraments the people who spontaneously come to church than we do going out to look for those who have strayed and are far away. The role of the fisherman remains in large part to be discovered. The laity, because of their direct insertion in society, are irreplaceable co-workers in this task.

Once the nets were lowered at Jesus' word, Peter and the others who were with him in the boat caught such a quantity of fish that the nets broke. Then the evangelist writes that "they beckoned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them." Even today the successor of Peter and those who are with him in the boat -- the bishops and priests -- beckon to those in the other boat -- the laity -- to come and help them.

Papal Address to Roman Rota

Papal Address to Roman Rota

Marriage: "A Bond Which Is Unique and Definitive"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 2, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is the Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave to the members of the Roman Rota, the Church's central appellate court, delivered Tuesday in the Clementine Hall.

* * *

Dear Prelate Auditors,

Officials and Collaborators of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, I am particularly pleased to meet you once again on the occasion of the inauguration of the judicial year.

I cordially greet the College of Prelate Auditors, starting with the Dean, Bishop Antoni Stankiewicz, whom I thank for his words introducing our meeting. I then greet the Officials, the Advocates and the other Collaborators of this Tribunal, as well as the Members of the Studio Rotale and all those present. I willingly take this opportunity to renew to you the expression of my esteem and, at the same time, to reaffirm the importance of your ecclesial ministry in as vital a sector as judicial activity. I am very mindful of the valuable work you are required to carry out diligently and scrupulously on behalf of this Apostolic See and with its mandate. Your sensitive task of service to the truth in justice is supported by the illustrious traditions of this Tribunal, which each one of you must feel bound to respect.

Last year, at my first meeting with you, I sought to explore ways to overcome the apparent antithesis between the institution of causes of the nullity of marriage and genuine pastoral concern. In this perspective, the love of truth emerges as a point of convergence between processual research and the pastoral service of the person. We must not forget, however, that in causes of the nullity of marriage, the legal truth presupposes the "truth of the marriage" itself. Yet the expression "truth of the marriage" loses its existential importance in a cultural context that is marked by relativism and juridical positivism, which regard marriage as a mere social formalization of emotional ties.

Consequently, not only is it becoming incidental, as human sentiments can be, but it is also presented as a legal superstructure of the human will that can be arbitrarily manipulated and even deprived of its heterosexual character.

This crisis of the meaning of marriage is also influencing the attitude of many of the faithful. The practical effects of what I have called "the hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture" with regard to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, (cf. Address to the Roman Curia, 22 December 2005; L'Osservatore Romano English edition [ORE], 4 January 2006, p. 4), is felt especially acutely in the sphere of marriage and the family.

Indeed, it seems to some that the conciliar teaching on marriage, and in particular, the description of this institution as "intima communitas vitae et amoris" [the intimate partnership of life and love] (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, "Gaudium et Spes," n. 48), must lead to a denial of the existence of an indissoluble conjugal bond because this would be a question of an "ideal" to which "normal Christians" cannot be "constrained".

In fact, the conviction that the pastoral good of the person in an irregular marital situation requires a sort of canonical regularization, independently of the validity or nullity of his/her marriage, independently, that is, of the "truth" of his/her personal status, has also spread in certain ecclesiastical milieus. The process of the declaration of matrimonial nullity is actually considered as a legal means for achieving this objective, according to a logic in which the law becomes the formalization of subjective claims. In this regard, it should first be pointed out that the Council certainly described marriage as intima communitas vitae et amoris, but this partnership is determined, in accordance with the tradition of the Church, by a whole set of principles of the divine law which establish its true and permanent anthropological meaning (cf. ibid.).

Furthermore, the Magisteriums of Paul VI and John Paul II, as well as the legislative action of both the Latin and Eastern Codes, have followed up the Council in faithful hermeneutical continuity with regard to both the doctrine and the discipline of marriage and indeed, persevered in its effort for "reform' or "renewal in continuity' (cf. Address to the Roman Curia, op. cit.). This development was based on the indisputable presupposition that marriage has a truth of its own -- that is, the human knowledge, illumined by the Word of God, of the sexually different reality of the man and of the woman with their profound needs for complementarity, definitive self-giving and exclusivity -- to whose discovery and deepening reason and faith harmoniously contribute.

The anthropological and saving truth of marriage -- also in its juridical dimension -- is already presented in Sacred Scripture. Jesus' response to those Pharisees who asked his opinion about the lawfulness of repudiation is well known: "Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one'? So they are no longer two but one. What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder" (Mt 19: 4-6).

The citations of Genesis (1: 27; 2: 24) propose the matrimonial truth of the "principle", that truth whose fullness is found in connection with Christ's union with the Church (cf. Eph 5: 30-31) and was the object of such broad and deep reflections on the part of Pope John Paul II in his cycles of catecheses on human love in the divine design.

On the basis of this dual unity of the human couple, it is possible to work out an authentic juridical anthropology of marriage. In this sense, Jesus' conclusive words are especially enlightening: "What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder". Every marriage is of course the result of the free consent of the man and the woman, but in practice their freedom expresses the natural capacity inherent in their masculinity and femininity.

The union takes place by virtue of the very plan of God who created them male and female and gives them the power to unite for ever those natural and complementary dimensions of their persons.

The indissolubility of marriage does not derive from the definitive commitment of those who contract it but is intrinsic in the nature of the "powerful bond established by the Creator" (John Paul II, Catechesis, General Audience, 21 November 1979, n. 2; ORE, 26 November 1979, p, 1).

People who contract marriage must be definitively committed to it because marriage is such in the plan of creation and of redemption. And the essential juridical character of marriage is inherent precisely in this bond which represents for the man and for the woman a requirement of justice and love from which, for their good and for the good of all, they may not withdraw without contradicting what God himself has wrought within them.

It is necessary to study this aspect further, not only in consideration of your role as canon lawyers, but also because the overall understanding of the institution of marriage must also include clarity with regard to its juridical dimension. However, conceptions of the nature of this relationship can be radically divergent. For positivism, the legality of the conjugal bond would be solely the result of the application of a formally valid and effective human norm. In this way, the human reality of life and conjugal love remains extrinsic to the "juridical" institution of marriage. A hiatus is created between law and human existence which radically denies the possibility of an anthropological foundation of the law.

The traditional role of the Church is quite different in the understanding of the juridical dimension of the conjugal union following the teachings of Jesus, of the Apostles and of the Holy Fathers. St Augustine, for instance, in citing St Paul, forcefully affirms: "Cui fidei [coniugali] tantum iuris tribuit Apostolus, ut eam potestatem appellaret, dicens: Mulier non habet potestatem corporis sui, sed vir; similiter autem et vir non habet potestatem corporis sui, sed mulier (I Cor 7: 4)" ("De Bono Coniugali," 4, 4).

St Paul who so profoundly explains in his Letter to the Ephesians the "mysterion mega" of conjugal love in relation to Christ's union with the Church (5: 22-31), did not hesitate to apply to marriage the strongest legal terms to designate the juridical bond by which spouses are united in their sexual dimension. So too, for St Augustine, lawfulness is essential in each one of the three goods (proles, fides, sacramentum) that form the backbone of his doctrinal exposition on marriage.

With regard to the subjective and libertarian relativization of the sexual experience, the Church's tradition clearly affirms the natural juridical character of marriage, that is, the fact that it belongs by nature to the context of justice in interpersonal relations.

In this perspective, the law is truly interwoven with life and love as one of the intrinsic obligations of its existence. Therefore, as I wrote in my first Encyclical, "From the standpoint of creation, eros directs man towards marriage, to a bond which is unique and definitive; thus, and only thus, does it fulfil its deepest purpose" ("Deus Caritas Est," n. 11).

Thus, love and law can be united to the point of ensuring that husband and wife mutually owe to one another the love with which they spontaneously love one another: the love in them is the fruit of their free desire for the good of one another and of their children; which, moreover, is also a requirement of love for one's own true good.

All the activity of the Church and of the faithful in the context of the family, must be based on this truth about marriage and its intrinsic juridical dimension. In spite of this, as I recalled earlier, the relativistic mindset, in more or less open or subtle ways, can also insinuate itself into the ecclesial community.

You are well aware that this is a risk of our time which is sometimes expressed in a distorted interpretation of the canonical norms in force. One must react to this tendency with courage and faith, constantly applying the hermeneutic of renewal in continuity and not allowing oneself to be seduced by forms of interpretation that involve a break with the Church's tradition.

These paths lead away from the true essence of marriage, as well as from its intrinsic juridical dimension and, under various more or less attractive names, seek to conceal a false conjugal reality.

So it is that the point is sometimes reached of maintaining that nothing is right or wrong in a couple's relationship, provided it corresponds with the achievement of the subjective aspirations of each party. In this perspective, the idea of marriage "in facto esse" oscillates between merely factual relations and the juridical-positivistic aspect, overlooking its essence as an intrinsic bond of justice between the persons of the man and of the woman.

The contribution of ecclesiastical tribunals to overcoming the crisis of the meaning of marriage, in the Church and in civil society, could seem to some people of somewhat secondary or minor importance.

However, precisely because marriage has an intrinsically juridical dimension, being wise and convinced servants of justice in this sensitive and most important sector has the significant value of witness and is of deep reassurance to all. Dear Prelate Auditors, you are committed on a front in which responsibility for the truth makes itself felt in a special way in our times.

In being faithful to your task, make sure that your action fits harmoniously into an overall rediscovery of the beauty of that "truth about marriage", the truth of the "principle", which Jesus fully taught us and of which the Holy Spirit continually reminds us in the Church today.

Dear Prelate Auditors, Officials and collaborators, these are the considerations to which I felt impelled to call your attention, in the certainty that I would find in you judges and magistrates ready to share and make your own so important and serious a doctrine.

To each and every one I express in particular my pleasure and my total confidence that the Apostolic Tribunal of the Roman Rota, an effective and authoritative manifestation of the juridical wisdom of the Church, will continue to carry out consistently its own, far from easy munus, at the service of the divine plan followed by the Creator and the Redeemer in the institution of marriage.

As I invoke divine help upon your work, I cordially impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you all.

[Translation issued by the Holy See]

© Copyright 2007 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Chinese Archbishop of Fuzhou Dies

Chinese Archbishop of Fuzhou Dies

He Spent 28 Years in Prison

FUZHOU, China, FEB. 2, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The archbishop of Fuzhou, who spent nearly one-third of his life in prison, has died of throat cancer. He was 94.

The news agency Fides reported that Archbishop Giuseppe Zheng Changcheng died in December in his residence.

Benedict XVI, upon hearing of the archbishop's illness, had sent him a letter and a bishop's ring from the Holy See as a sign of communion with the Pope.

Born to a poor family of carpenters in 1912, Giuseppe Zheng Changcheng entered the seminary in Fuzhou in 1926. He studied for the priesthood in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

He was ordained a priest in 1937 and appointed administrator of the archdiocese in 1951.

In 1955, he was accused of being a counter-revolutionary and was sentenced to 28 years in prison. While in detention, he converted several prison inmates with his witness, reported Fides.

Released in 1983, he worked to revitalize the local Church. He was rector of the seminary from 1988 to 1992.

At 79, he was ordained archbishop in Fuzhou.

Over the next years he restored some 30 churches, and built the diocesan shrine Rosa Mystica, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is located 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) outside of Fuzhou.

Fides reported that the archbishop "was never heard to complain during the long years spent in prison."

After his death, the archbishop's body was taken to the Rosa Mystica Shrine where daily prayers were said until his funeral Mass at the end of December.

With more than 200,000 Catholics, the Archdiocese of Fuzhou is one of the oldest dioceses in China.

Poor Fr. Telemond.

Actually, I don't think it is possible there to be such a person as Fr. Telemond, as depicted in the movie The Shoes of the Fisherman. But it's easy for feelings to be manipulated through the audiovisual media. Obedience is obedience, there is no way around it--without obedience, there can be no sanctity.

Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian
23. When the Magisterium of the Church makes an infallible pronouncement and solemnly declares that a teaching is found in Revelation, the assent called for is that of theological faith. This kind of adherence is to be given even to the teaching of the ordinary and universal Magisterium when it proposes for belief a teaching of faith as divinely revealed.

When the Magisterium proposes "in a definitive way" truths concerning faith and morals, which, even if not divinely revealed, are nevertheless strictly and intimately connected with Revelation, these must be firmly accepted and held.(22)

When the Magisterium, not intending to act "definitively", teaches a doctrine to aid a better understanding of Revelation and make explicit its contents, or to recall how some teaching is in conformity with the truths of faith, or finally to guard against ideas that are incompatible with these truths, the response called for is that of the religious submission of will and intellect.(23) This kind of response cannot be simply exterior or disciplinary but must be understood within the logic of faith and under the impulse of obedience to the faith.


Veritatis Splendor
Some authors, however, have proposed an even more radical revision of the relationship between person and acts. They speak of a "fundamental freedom", deeper than and different from freedom of choice, which needs to be considered if human actions are to be correctly understood and evaluated. According to these authors, the key role in the moral life is to be attributed to a "fundamental option", brought about by that fundamental freedom whereby the person makes an overall self-determination, not through a specific and conscious decision on the level of reflection, but in a "transcendental" and "athematic" way. Particular acts which flow from this option would constitute only partial and never definitive attempts to give it expression; they would only be its "signs" or symptoms. The immediate object of such acts would not be absolute Good (before which the freedom of the person would be expressed on a transcendental level), but particular (also termed "categorical" ) goods. In the opinion of some theologians, none of these goods, which by their nature are partial, could determine the freedom of man as a person in his totality, even though it is only by bringing them about or refusing to do so that man is able to express his own fundamental option.

A distinction thus comes to be introduced between the fundamental option and deliberate choices of a concrete kind of behaviour. In some authors this division tends to become a separation, when they expressly limit moral "good" and "evil" to the transcendental dimension proper to the fundamental option, and describe as "right" or "wrong" the choices of particular "innerworldly" kinds of behaviour: those, in other words, concerning man's relationship with himself, with others and with the material world. There thus appears to be established within human acting a clear disjunction between two levels of morality: on the one hand the order of good and evil, which is dependent on the will, and on the other hand specific kinds of behaviour, which are judged to be morally right or wrong only on the basis of a technical calculation of the proportion between the "premoral" or "physical" goods and evils which actually result from the action. This is pushed to the point where a concrete kind of behaviour, even one freely chosen, comes to be considered as a merely physical process, and not according to the criteria proper to a human act. The conclusion to which this eventually leads is that the properly moral assessment of the person is reserved to his fundamental option, prescinding in whole or in part from his choice of particular actions, of concrete kinds of behaviour.

66. There is no doubt that Christian moral teaching, even in its Biblical roots, acknowledges the specific importance of a fundamental choice which qualifies the moral life and engages freedom on a radical level before God. It is a question of the decision of faith, of the obedience of faith (cf. Rom 16:26) "by which man makes a total and free self-commitment to God, offering 'the full submission of intellect and will to God as he reveals' ".112 This faith, which works through love (cf. Gal 5:6), comes from the core of man, from his "heart" (cf. Rom 10:10), whence it is called to bear fruit in works (cf. Mt 12:33-35; Lk 6:43-45; Rom 8:5-10; Gal 5:22). In the Decalogue one finds, as an introduction to the various commandments, the basic clause: "I am the Lord your God..." (Ex 20:2), which, by impressing upon the numerous and varied particular prescriptions their primordial meaning, gives the morality of the Covenant its aspect of completeness, unity and profundity. Israel's fundamental decision, then, is about the fundamental commandment (cf. Jos 24:14-25; Ex 19:3-8; Mic 6:8). The morality of the New Covenant is similarly dominated by the fundamental call of Jesus to follow him — thus he also says to the young man: "If you wish to be perfect... then come, follow me" (Mt 19:21); to this call the disciple must respond with a radical decision and choice. The Gospel parables of the treasure and the pearl of great price, for which one sells all one's possessions, are eloquent and effective images of the radical and unconditional nature of the decision demanded by the Kingdom of God. The radical nature of the decision to follow Jesus is admirably expressed in his own words: "Whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the Gospel's will save it" (Mk 8:35).

Jesus' call to "come, follow me" marks the greatest possible exaltation of human freedom, yet at the same time it witnesses to the truth and to the obligation of acts of faith and of decisions which can be described as involving a fundamental option. We find a similar exaltation of human freedom in the words of Saint Paul: "You were called to freedom, brethren" (Gal 5:13). But the Apostle immediately adds a grave warning: "Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh". This warning echoes his earlier words: "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery" (Gal 5:1). Paul encourages us to be watchful, because freedom is always threatened by slavery. And this is precisely the case when an act of faith — in the sense of a fundamental option — becomes separated from the choice of particular acts, as in the tendencies mentioned above.

67. These tendencies are therefore contrary to the teaching of Scripture itself, which sees the fundamental option as a genuine choice of freedom and links that choice profoundly to particular acts. By his fundamental choice, man is capable of giving his life direction and of progressing, with the help of grace, towards his end, following God's call. But this capacity is actually exercised in the particular choices of specific actions, through which man deliberately conforms himself to God's will, wisdom and law. It thus needs to be stated that the so-called fundamental option, to the extent that it is distinct from a generic intention and hence one not yet determined in such a way that freedom is obligated, is always brought into play through conscious and free decisions. Precisely for this reason, it is revoked when man engages his freedom in conscious decisions to the contrary, with regard to morally grave matter.

To separate the fundamental option from concrete kinds of behaviour means to contradict the substantial integrity or personal unity of the moral agent in his body and in his soul. A fundamental option understood without explicit consideration of the potentialities which it puts into effect and the determinations which express it does not do justice to the rational finality immanent in man's acting and in each of his deliberate decisions. In point of fact, the morality of human acts is not deduced only from one's intention, orientation or fundamental option, understood as an intention devoid of a clearly determined binding content or as an intention with no corresponding positive effort to fulfil the different obligations of the moral life. Judgments about morality cannot be made without taking into consideration whether or not the deliberate choice of a specific kind of behaviour is in conformity with the dignity and integral vocation of the human person. Every choice always implies a reference by the deliberate will to the goods and evils indicated by the natural law as goods to be pursued and evils to be avoided. In the case of the positive moral precepts, prudence always has the task of verifying that they apply in a specific situation, for example, in view of other duties which may be more important or urgent. But the negative moral precepts, those prohibiting certain concrete actions or kinds of behaviour as intrinsically evil, do not allow for any legitimate exception. They do not leave room, in any morally acceptable way, for the "creativity" of any contrary determination whatsoever. Once the moral species of an action prohibited by a universal rule is concretely recognized, the only morally good act is that of obeying the moral law and of refraining from the action which it forbids.

68. Here an important pastoral consideration must be added. According to the logic of the positions mentioned above, an individual could, by virtue of a fundamental option, remain faithful to God independently of whether or not certain of his choices and his acts are in conformity with specific moral norms or rules. By virtue of a primordial option for charity, that individual could continue to be morally good, persevere in God's grace and attain salvation, even if certain of his specific kinds of behaviour were deliberately and gravely contrary to God's commandments as set forth by the Church.

In point of fact, man does not suffer perdition only by being unfaithful to that fundamental option whereby he has made "a free self-commitment to God".113 With every freely committed mortal sin, he offends God as the giver of the law and as a result becomes guilty with regard to the entire law (cf. Jas 2:8-11); even if he perseveres in faith, he loses "sanctifying grace", "charity" and "eternal happiness".114 As the Council of Trent teaches, "the grace of justification once received is lost not only by apostasy, by which faith itself is lost, but also by any other mortal sin".115

Friday, February 02, 2007

Ugh

What is Agape Latte?

"Agape" is a Greek word for a kind of love that seeks nothing in return.

Agape Latte is a monthly event designed for students seeking to learn more about faith and religion in an inviting social environment. Occurring the first Tuesday of each month in Hillside Cafe at 8:30 p.m., students are treated to free desserts, coffee, and an engaging lecture followed by Q & A.

source

Thanks for a definition of agape that fails to show its significance for Christianity. This is liable to the kind of fuzzy-wuzziness that has replaced a robust understanding of agape/caritas that is inseparable from God's commandments. And who might be representative of such a false form of Christianity? The next speaker:

Jim Keenan, S.J., Professor of Theology at Boston College will be speaking on Tuesday, February 6, 2007 at 8:30pm in Hillside Cafe for the next Agape Latte. The event is open to all undergraduate students. For more information, please visit our Student Corner.

The title of the talk is "Family Dynamics of the Church: Love and Disagreement." Using the family to understand the Church can be problematic even if done in a legitimate manner, since the correspondence between the two is very imperfect. What is worse is when it is done in an illegitimate manner; I hope this will not be exercise in showing BC students how one can love the Church and still disagree with the teachings of the Church. You might think that this sort of disobedience was outdated and out of fashion, but no, we still have plenty of whacked theologians around.

How better to justify dissent and failure to follow the commandments of God, especially the 6th and the 9th, than to appeal to an amorphous conception of love? Insofar as the comparison between the Church and American families is apt, one can think of dissenting moral theologians and others as spoiled, rebellious teenagers who think they know it all and can do anything they want, as long as they don't "hurt" anyone, and as long as they "love."

Let me make it clear: I don't care for Professor Keenan or his opinions concerning moral theology. (Or his new-fangled casuistry.) He is a priest, but why tranish the priesthood by associating his name with that sacred order?

Online expose of Fr. Keenan; from a review of Fr. Michael Sherwin's book, By Knowledge and By Love:

The theologians of moral motivation, which includes such figures as Karl Rahner, Josef Fuchs, and James Keenan—a group to whom we owe that remarkable invention called the fundamental option—take the basic position that, in moral action, will takes precedence over intellect, and for that reason they can be fairly described as voluntarist. In effect, these moralists attempt to rule reason out of moral behavior. Reason, for them, has to do with what is right, not with what is good. The pursuit of the good is, of course, the whole purpose of the moral life, but as these moralists view things, it is only will, or charity, that can attain the good, and a charity that somehow manages to be antecedent to, and independent of, practical reason. But if this is true, then “moral man” is only half a man, an uninformed Will.

(Review of the same book by Reinhard Hutter)

God have mercy on moral theologians who have forgotten what St. John says in his epistles: "And this is love, that we follow his commandments." (2 John 6)


Matthew 18:5-9
Et, qui susceperit unum parvulum talem in nomine meo, me suscipit. Qui autem scandalizaverit unum de pusillis istis, qui in me credunt, expedit ei, ut suspendatur mola asinaria in collo eius et demergatur in profundum maris. Vae mundo ab scandalis! Necesse est enim ut veniant scandala; verumtamen vae homini, per quem scandalum venit! Si autem manus tua vel pes tuus scandalizat te, abscide eum et proice abs te: bonum tibi est ad vitam ingredi debilem vel claudum, quam duas manus vel duos pedes habentem mitti in ignem aeternum. Et si oculus tuus scandalizat te, erue eum et proice abs te: bonum tibi est unoculum in vitam intrare, quam duos oculos habentem mitti in gehennam ignis.

Something the administration at BC, as well as the majority of the Jesuit community there and of the theology faculty, should keep in mind.

Tea at Trianon

Elena Maria Vidal recently started this blog late last year, but I found it just now when visiting her website. Check it out!

Departed Sequel?

Script treatment in progress.
January 31, 2007 - Screenwriter William Monahan is working on a treatment for a sequel to The Departed, reports Variety, and he's even passed the notion by the director of the first film, Martin Scorsese.

Without getting too spoilery, anyone who has seen Warner Bros.' The Departed might wonder how a sequel to the Oscar-nominated crime drama could even be possible judging by how things end up in the picture. But then again, the film is based on the Hong Kong flick Infernal Affairs, which of course went on to spawn two follow-ups.

Mark Wahlberg, who co-stars in the film, recently said that he may be back for a sequel, and that Robert De Niro was in talks to appear in the picture as well -- if it were to happen. Of course, as Variety points out, there's no sign that Scorsese would return for a Departed 2 or that Warner Bros. would even want to produce the sequel.

The Hollywood Reporter, however, claims that "Scorsese would need to approve any take before development was to move forward. A prequel is not being ruled out, either." THR also adds that Warners' deal had option rights to the two Infernal Affairs sequels, but that it is uncertain how the next Departed film might figure into that since Monahan could be fashioning an original tale.

Marky Mark's character deserves more screentime--I hope they don't opt to make a sequel along the lines of the Infernal Affairs sequel. That would be a bad idea.

Screenshots from First Snow, starring Guy Pearce

The Seven Principles of the New Radicalism

A CATHOLIC PHILOSOPHY OF ECONOMICS: The Seven Principles of The New Radicalism

Excerpt:

The Purpose of The Seven Principles

When we speak of economic reconstruction on a moral basis it is not meant that the whole of economics can be comprised in a moral code. The view of economics as a non-moral, quasi-mathematical science contains this much truth: that a great part of it must always consist of technical description and analysis, since it has to determine what economic aims are technically practicable and what are the most efficient methods of attaining them.

But the subject matter of economics is, after all, a field of human activity, namely man's efforts to supply his material needs. Its material aims, therefore, must ultimately be judged by their conformity to the moral ends of human life, and its methods by the moral standards of human conduct.

We must start, therefore, from certain truths of natural religion and morality, which, for our present purposes, must be assumed without argument. Thus, we assume the existence of an all-good God, Whom it is our highest work to serve. We assume that men are free agents in all their deliberate acts, and responsible for them to their conscience and to God. We assume also that the nature of man, like that of every other living thing, is built to follow a definite pattern of behavior and cannot fully realize its possibilities unless it does follow it; and, further, that in the case of man, owing to his moral freedom, this behavior pattern consists, not only of physical and mental laws, but also of moral laws, that is to say, of laws binding, not by physical compulsion, but by moral obligation.

Finally, we assume that the moral powers of man (generally called his virtues), by which he is enabled to fulfill these moral laws, conform to the same general pattern in all men (just as his physical powers do), though they may vary in strength from individual to individual as the result of heredity, training, and use or misuse. Thus, one man may be courageous by nature, another courageous chiefly by training or self-discipline; some men grow up honest but lose the habit of honesty by giving way to the temptations of a particular position; but all men have in them at least the rudiments of courage, honesty and the rest.

These are unchanging facts of the spiritual order. Between them and the technical problems of economics there lies a gap, and the seven principles set out in this outline are intended to bridge it. It will be well, before explaining them one by one, to give the complete list of them without comment.

1) The existence of God should be made the starting point of economic reasoning.

2) The fundamental laws of economics are moral laws.

3) The essential moral rights and duties of man spring from his own nature and not from the State.

4) Economic justice will be best attained (other things being equal) in an economic system resting upon independent individual status.

5) The pattern of life of an economic community is best regulated if the State is built up of spontaneous and self-governing groups each fulfilling a distinctive economic function.

6) An economic system serves real needs best when its objectives are conceived in terms of goods and services rather than of money.

7) The natural needs of men and women as producers and consumers, and not the potentialities of mechanization, monetary technique and salesmanship, are the proper measure of both production and consumption.

God, the Moral Law, The State, and the Individual in Economics

We must now proceed to explain and comment briefly on each of these seven principles in turn, beginning with the first:

1. THE EXISTENCE OF GOD SHOULD BE MADE THE STARTING POINT OF ECONOMIC REASONING.

It is not enough, for the purpose of economic thought and controversy, that God's existence should be believed and that He should be the object of religion. It is necessary to make it clear that His existence bears directly upon the solution of economic problems and to show how it does so.

This working-out of theism in the field of economics and sociology is related to simple theism much as what may be called the sociological atheism of Marxist Communism is related to the atheism of the continental Liberalism that descends from the French Revolution.

That atheism is often complete enough in the theological sphere but stops short at the application of its principles to economic and social life. It professes, indeed, to found its political and economic system on natural liberty and the rights of man without reference to God, but its very appeal to natural liberty and rights is a survival of Catholic philosophy. Indeed, it was this retention of these ideals cut off (by atheism) from their logical basis and their limiting principles that was responsible for the economic lawlessness of the Liberal era. Marx had an easy task in pointing out the license and exploitation that followed in the train of this inconsistent individualism and, with better logic, constructed a new philosophy of human society based from the beginning upon atheistic premises, complete with economic determinism and the absolute subordination of the individual to the class or the community.

Somewhat similarly, the theists of the 19th century stopped short at applying their principles to the economic system except as a kind of afterthought which could do little more than expose them to ridicule. Marxism must be met by a theism that permeates the whole of our economic thinking and by an economies that is theistic from the outset.

The second of our principles is:

2. THE FUNDAMENTAL LAWS OF ECONOMICS ARE MORAL LAWS.

This principle follows from the fact that men remain morally responsible for their deliberate acts in all circumstances, including their economic relations.

In the Middle Ages economists had no doubt that economics was, at bottom, the science of how men ought to behave to one another in the course of getting a living. Hence they dealt primarily with men and their behavior, and only secondarily with goods and money and their accumulation. They emphasized the sinfulness of avarice and of taking advantage of another's urgent necessities; they held that the craftsman was under a moral obligation to do good work; they required that wages, prices, and rates of interest should be just and not merely competitive; and so forth. They rightly considered that to disregard these principles was bad economics.

In the second half of the 18th century economists began to teach openly that each man should pursue solely his economic self-interest. They tried to bring this into a system of morals by declaring that the economic uniformities resulting from this simplification of motives constituted a natural harmony; but the practical effect of their doctrine was to put economics into a separate compartment of life, outside morals, ruled by jungle law under slogans like "business is business."

In the next phase of Liberalism the economic uniformities in question came to be regarded as inexorable laws of nature against which rebellion was as futile as against the law of gravitation. This determinism was used to prevent philanthropists from trying to mitigate the system. Marx gave a fresh turn to it by representing the existing economic system, and all economic change, as brought about entirely by a predetermined historical process.

Our second principle cuts at the root of all these heresies. So far from admitting that moral considerations constitute a deviation from the strict path of economic truth, it implies that maladjustments even on the strictly economic plane may be traceable to moral error.

The third principle follows closely upon the second:

3. THE ESSENTIAL MORAL RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF MAN SPRING FROM HIS OWN NATURE AND NOT FROM THE STATE.

The significance of this lies in the fact that human nature was made by God, so that the essential moral rights and duties of men have an absolute claim upon them. The State can in no way release men from this claim, which it did nothing to create.

The State can create secondary and purely political rights and duties, such as the right to an old-age pension or the duty to keep to the left when driving on the road; and, if these secondary rights and duties are consistent with the eternal moral law and the general moral purpose for which the State exists, they have a certain moral validity so long as the State upholds them. Furthermore, the very existence of men in a Political community gives a fresh turn to the way in which the rights and obligations of the eternal moral law fall upon individuals. Thus, the right and duty of a man to restrain someone who is threatening him or his neighbors, and to bring home to him the dictates of the moral law, may eventually fall upon a prison governor who was not directly threatened by the original violence.

But these alterations in what is called the incidence of the moral law do not constitute alterations in the moral law itself; and, if they were stretched so as to amount to violations of it, the fact that the State ordered them would not make them moral or legitimate. The fundamental moral rights and duties of men, so far from being alterable by the State, are the standard by which all secondary and political rights and duties, and all fresh applications of the fundamental ones, must be judged.

The fundamental ones include:

(a) The duty of self-preservation and self-maintenance at the level of human decency, and the right of access to the means of carrying this out.

(b) The right and duty of parents to rear children in a way befitting responsible creatures and (normally) in the family circle, and the right of access to the means to this end also.

(c) The duty of maintaining justice and charity in all relations with fellow men, not excluding industrial and business relations, and the right (in a political community) to the protection of the law in fulfilling this duty.

(d) The right to scope in economic life for self development, both natural and spiritual.

All these rights and duties bear directly upon economics, because they require that the economic system should provide securities and opportunities fog certain ways of living based upon them.

The fourth principle asserts that:

4. ECONOMIC JUSTICE WILL BE BEST ATTAINED OTHER THINGS BEING EQUAL) IN AN ECONOMIC SYSTEM RESTING UPON INDEPENDENT INDIVIDUAL STATUS.

The essence of status is the secure tenure of a position, in the present context, of an economic position. By contrast with status, the security given by a contract, besides being temporary, may be nullified by the fact that, while one of the parties to it was in a position of economic security when he made it, the other was not, so that he made it under economic constraint and had to accept unjust terms. A person in possession of some permanent economic security is in a position to insist upon the recognition of his moral rights in any bargain he makes.

Moreover, if his status takes the form of ownership of means of production, he will be to that extent less dependent upon bargaining, or upon other persons or the State, or upon external circumstances of any kind, and under less pressure to violate his conscience in his working life. In addition, he will have more opportunities for using his working life constructively for his moral development. The maximum degree of economic self-sufficiency and stability is given by tenure of land by a family which cultivates it so as to supply their primary material needs.

It is not necessary for these purposes that the tenure should be full ownership. They were served by (for example) the land tenures of the Middle Ages, even in the case of the serf, who, though obliged to remain on his plot of land and render services for it, could not be deprived of the occupation and use of it. They can be fulfilled to some extent even in a large 20th century industrial unit if each worker has a real share in the ownership and control, though he cannot dispose of any part of the plant himself.

Indeed, absolute ownership, accompanied by the right of unlimited accumulation, may militate against the moral purposes for which property rights exist. It may weaken the owner's sense of the obligations attaching to property and at the same time enable him to override the property rights of others. The purposes of property are as a rule best fulfilled, and least likely to be violated, if there is a wide distribution of property proportioned to function; that is to say, if the head of each family holds or has assured access to what he and his family can personally use in winning their livelihood. In this way property becomes the security for each man's moral rights in the economic order and the basis for a true industrial democracy and neighborly charity.

The opposite effect is produced when each individual's economic status depends directly upon the State. The State is necessary in order to protect the property that gives the citizen status, but its own guarantee of status is not an adequate substitute for that property. It is more likely to reduce the citizens to a condition of servitude to the State.

The Structure and Aims of an Economic System

The fifth of our principles relates individual status to the organization of a Political and economic society:

5. THE PATTERN OF LIFE OF AN ECONOMIC COMMUNITY IS BEST REGULATED IF THE STATE IS BUILT UP OF SPONTANEOUS GROUPS EACH FULFILLING A DISTINCTIVE ECONOMIC FUNCTION.

In communities in which most citizens have a reasonably assured economic status, their natural sense of justice and their instinct for social conduct will go a long way to ensure the observance of moral rights and duties in the pattern of community life, at least in very small and simple communities. But the size of most States of recent times makes the citizens so remote from one another in every sense, and makes their economic relations so indirect and complicated, that they lose the sense of how to shape their conduct towards one another.

The Liberalism of the nineteenth century tended to leave men to pursue their individual interests with the minimum of policing or moral guidance, on the theory that this would in the long run conduce to moral and economic harmony. Actually it brought about moral and economic anarchy. In the reaction against Liberalism the State tends to fill the void by planning in detail the social and economic relations of its citizens and, in the moral sphere, by extending its authority so as to override the moral rights of the individual by a moral code of its own.

It is practically impossible, in a large State, to avoid falling into one or other of these extremes unless intermediate groups are introduced, standing between the individual and the State. Each group needs to be composed of individuals having real contact and common interests with one another and collectively fulfilling a distinctive function in the community. All those concerned in a single industry or profession, such as agriculture or engineering or teaching, form such a group, and all the groups together should represent all the major economic activities of the community.

In this way the internal arrangements and practices of each industry are controlled, both in their technical and in their moral aspects, by those immediately concerned, and by all sections of them acting together; while its relations with other industries and with the community as a whole are regulated by the common council of the State in which all the groups take part. It is essential, however, that the groups (or "corporations" as they are commonly called now) should as far as possible come into existence spontaneously and have real lives of their own; otherwise they are little more than agents for an all-powerful central government, as they became in Fascist Italy.

The sixth principle is as follows:

6. AN ECONOMIC SYSTEM SERVES REAL NEEDS BEST WHEN ITS OBJECTIVES ARE CONCEIVED IN TERMS OF GOODS AND SERVICES RATHER THAN OF MONEY.

Goods and services must in any case be the real foundation of even the most elaborate monetary economy, which cannot in the long run command confidence unless they exist to back it. But this fact is not sufficient to prevent men from going very far astray from realities, both moral and material, as a result of thinking primarily in terms of money. For example, under a monetary economy the phrase "a favorable balance of trade" describes a state of affairs when more goods are leaving the country than entering it. Or again, millions of needy men, whose country possesses natural resources amply sufficient, with their labor to supply their needs, are allowed to rot in idleness because no monetary profit can be expected from setting them to work.

Money is certainly necessary in all but the very simplest economic communities in order to bridge gaps between the production of goods and the satisfaction of wants. For example, when a workman does not produce the goods he himself needs, or has no control over what he produces, he must be remunerated by wages, so as to buy elsewhere. Similarly, when the productive activity of a factory has to begin long before the products can be marketed, the owner needs money, either saved or borrowed, to pay wages in the meantime.

This is all very well, but there is a tendency to stereotype these gaps and make them appear part of the order of nature. Thus, the wage system seems to give sanction to the separation of men from both the tools and the fruit of their labor, making their labor an article for sale rather than an activity with a purpose. Similarly, international trade, instead of being a supplementary device whereby countries obtain comforts and luxuries which they cannot produce for themselves, becomes an institution for the sake of which nations are deliberately specialized until they become incapable of supplying themselves even with necessities.

Furthermore, money is treated, not only as an instrument for the exchange of commodities, but as if it were itself a commodity to be dealt in for profit. This is a constant cause of profit-making that is intrinsically immoral (for money is not a commodity of this kind). In addition, it creates new vested interests in perpetuating and exaggerating those gaps which must be bridged by money.

Practically every operation in industry comes to be financed by loans, so that it is burdened by the interest upon them and liable to be dislocated by organized gambling on the prospects of a profitable return on them. Even the money used in these transactions comes into existence as debt on which interest must be paid wherever it circulates. A class is called into existence whose sole business is to exploit the dependence of the system upon money, and which claims the right to create money for that purpose. And, since money permeates the system at every point, it wields a power often greater than the State's.

Finally, money, thus made the touchstone of every transaction, has every moral disqualification for this role. It is wholly undiscriminating. One hundred pounds is one hundred pounds whether it is the profit on good work or on fakes, on necessities or on luxuries, on goods that meet a demand or on goods for which an artificial demand has to be created. It has no natural limits, upwards or downwards, such as define (for example) the amount of land a family can cultivate effectively; so that it affords the maximum of opportunity for the unequal distribution of wealth. And these very characteristics, together with its efficiency as an instrument of power, give it an unequalled hold as an object of avarice.

The seventh principle safeguards certain needs of man's nature which economic activity exists to serve but which are liable to be overlooked amid the triumphs of economic technique. It runs:

7. THE NATURAL NEEDS OF MEN AND WOMEN AS PRODUCERS AND CONSUMERS, AND NOT THE POTENTIALITIES OF MECHANIZATION, MONETARY TECHNIQUE AND SALESMANSHIP, ARE THE PROPER MEASURE OF PRODUCTION AND CONSUMPTION.

The purpose of production is consumption, and until recently there was no question, except for a tiny fraction of mankind, of production exceeding man's natural needs as a consumer. Man's power of producing commodities did not exceed his capacity for consuming them profitably, and commonly fell far below it. The use of mechanical power and, still more recently, of mechanized mass-production has enormously increased man's capacity for producing commodities without making any corresponding increase in his capacity for consuming them.

There is, of course, a sense in which a man's capacity for the consumption of goods is almost unlimited. He can make some kind of use of yachts, cars, mansions, grouse-moors and so on. But if we are speaking of a standard of living that is to be widely distributed, then the amount that any one person can consume with enjoyment in the course of his life has comparatively narrow physical limits. Finally, if we take it into account, as we should, those elements in human nature which cannot be satisfied by material goods and are stifled by the over-consumption of them, we arrive at quite definite natural standards, which vary with individuals and classes but are discoverable by each man for himself and which wise men make it part of their business in life to discover. Consuming capacity, therefore, has lagged behind producing capacity, and this has caused production to become largely speculative and to depend to an increasing degree upon the creation of an artificial demand by advertisement and salesmanship. Monetary technique has also been used to expand demand artificially, and the use of it has been seized upon, not only by businessmen seeking profit, but by propagandists preaching increased consumption as an ideal.

This creation of an artificial demand, besides being responsible for great financial disorders, has been disastrous morally. It puts the means before the end and, in serving the means, of necessity inverts the true scale of values; for the means are mass-production, which by its nature puts quantity before quality and the material before the spiritual.

Moreover, the process violates man's nature, not only as a consumer, but also as a producer. Machines are not in themselves either good or bad, and some can be made to serve the higher needs of those who use them. But mechanization, or the general employment of mechanical methods to eliminate the human element in production, inevitably tends to frustrate the very purpose for which it is advocated.

It eliminates craftsmanship (except for a very small minority of technicians) and eliminates also the small units in industry, with the scope they give for personal qualities. Furthermore, it inflicts direct injury on those whom it employs, by requiring them to work as automatons under great nervous strain, and by exacting a servile discipline in the factories, where men are herded and treated in the mass.

Commentary on the Seven Principles as the Basis of an Economic System

The seven principles formulated and briefly explained in the foregoing outline, form, when taken together, a connected whole, linking the fixed realities of the spiritual world and of human nature to economics in such a way as to provide the basis for a complete economic system.

The first principle puts the whole subject matter of economics in its true perspective by displaying the pursuit of material well-being, not as an end in itself, but as an instrument in the service of God. Regarded as an end in itself the pursuit of material well-being cannot do other than drag men down to a merely material level. Regarded as an instrument for God's service it acquires dignity and an eternal value even in its merely technical devices.

The second principle sets up again for the guidance of economists those moral signposts which Adam Smith classed with superstitions concerning witchcraft, but which did in fact save the medieval economists from the confusions and chaos of later economic science. It requires us to reintroduce boldly into economic discussions the ethical precepts condemning (for example) injustice in wage-fixing, extortion by monopolies, and the whole practice of usury. It forbids us to be intimidated by so-called economic laws which purport to have the inflexible character of the laws of mechanics but in fact depend on assumptions concerning human nature that beg the whole question.

These so-called laws beg the question because they assume, not only that men will naturally act in economic life from the single motive of avarice, but also that they will be left to do so without remonstrance from either Church or governments. But our second principle asserts that there can be no sound economic life unless the Church teaches, and governments enforce, the moral law even in the economic sphere, leaving the equations of the economists to adjust themselves to the altered standards of conduct.

The third principle tells us that the State, though the proper agent for enforcing the moral law in the political community, is not the source of the moral law and has no right to override it. Thus this principle vindicates the right of the family and the individual to enjoy certain fundamental liberties and opportunities and fulfill certain fundamental duties attaching to them as human beings before ever the State came into existence. These rights and duties include, moreover, the whole business of maintaining individual and family life at a decent material standard and economic relations with others at a decent moral standard; and this principle by implication lays upon the State the duty of protecting and fostering these activities.

The fourth principle indicates the method by which the third principle may best be put into effect, namely by ensuring to the individual, with his family, an economic status in virtue of which he can exercise his economic rights and fulfill his duties and at the same time be safeguarded against any tendency on the part of the State to exceed its proper functions. This principle requires us to examine the nature of private property and of the right to it, and also the limits to that right. In so doing it points us to the first element of a sound structure of an economic society, namely widely distributed private property, in one form or another, held under the State's protection.

The fifth principle adds a second structural element, namely the corporative organization of industry and of the State itself. This form of organization, like individual status, is both an aid to applying the moral law in economic life and a method of economic construction. In the former capacity it provides a channel for those moral instincts that operate especially through social and collective action. As a method of economic construction it is particularly designed to secure an adjustment of interests and willing cooperation between the various grades of participants in each industry (operatives, management, directorate and investing public), between the different industries, between the banks and industry, and between producers and consumers.

It is, therefore, doubly qualified for giving concrete expression, adjusted to the economic realities of the moment, to the conception of justice in the matter of rents, profits, interest, wages, and conditions of labor and in the operations of trusts and monopolies.

It creates also the possibility of State planning without the dangers of planning conducted solely by a centralized government. The central technical problem of a planned economy (and, indeed, of an economic system of any kind) is the adjustment of supply to demand. Closely connected with this are the problems of the adjustment of investment in producers' goods to the consumption of consumers' goods and of the stabilization of the price level to eliminate the industrial cycle. All these problems of economic interdependence are dealt with most safely by the mutually interdependent organs of the Corporative State.

The sixth principle clears away the chief technical obstacle to these adjustments of interests and this comprehensive planning, namely the habit of thinking of the economic process primarily in terms of money and bringing all economic problems to the test of monetary profit and the well-being of the money market.

That habit is an unending source of confusion and misdirection in economic life. For example, the proper status of agriculture in any particular community can never be judged aright so long as the first consideration is that invested capital should obtain a high or a speedy return. For agriculture can never render a return of that kind where acreage is restricted. Consequently, in a country like Britain, the monetary criterion will lead to dependence on imported food in order to enable foreign countries to pay interest on capital invested in them or to pay for manufactured exports.

Moreover, the whole question of the place to be accorded in the national economy to international trade is wrongly stated when it is put in terms of , monetary profit. For that depends upon local advantages in costs of production of special commodities, and tempts men to exaggerate those at the cost of the nation's general productive resources in men and soil, for the decay of which no artificially stimulated interchange of commodities can permanently compensate.

Similarly, we can tackle the elimination and prevention of large-scale unemployment constructively and directly in terms of idle labor and unused productive resources if we discard the notion, inseparable from the private creation of credit, that money applied to industry must necessarily be burdened by the requirement that it should earn the market rate of interest.

This principle points, therefore, to the control by the State of the creation and cancellation of credit by the banks, and to the assertion by the community of their ultimate authority over money in all its forms. It points also to the control of the stock market, particularly of its speculative elements, in order that its fluctuations may become merely a reflection of the state of industry and not a disturbing factor in it.

The seventh principle sets very necessary limits to the use of the monetary stimulus, or any other, to any part of the economic whole. For, just as the sixth principle subordinates money to commodities and services, so this last principle subordinates commodities and services to the human persons who are meant to benefit by them. It puts, not only monetary technique, but also advertising and salesmanship, in their proper place in relation to the consumer; and puts the use of machinery, the standardization of industrial processes, "Taylorism," and all such impersonal and depersonalizing aids to production, in their proper place in relation to the producer.

It indicates, also, the fallacy underlying the conception of the Leisure State, which is put forward as an escape from the spiritual evils of mass-consumption and mass-production. The advocates of this ideal urge that the productivity of machines should be used, not so much to multiply commodities indefinitely as to make the necessary commodities quickly, leaving everybody ample leisure. They are often willing to admit that the perfecting of a man's personality depends (once necessities are assured) on his own creative activity rather than on external things. But they claim that, when short spells of machine-minding have become the only necessary work, the men and women who have taken their turn at these will then turn spontaneously to the creative crafts of the pre-machine age.

An elementary knowledge of fallen human nature, however, and observation of existing leisured classes, combine to refute this claim. The capacity for using leisure creatively depends largely on the training that the creative powers receive in productive work that calls for their exercise. Methods of production that degrade or stifle these powers, while increasing the craving for leisure, at the same time destroy the capacity for using leisure well.

Moreover, the requisite training of the creative powers and the habit of using them can only be acquired (so far as the vast majority of mankind are concerned) under discipline; and the natural discipline for their acquisition is necessary productive work. If the training is to be enforced in leisure time upon a population with minds rendered vacant and nerves exhausted by their work as machine-tenders, the Leisure State would soon be indistinguishable from the Police State, and the leisure would be only an escape from one form of servitude to another.

By contrast with this delusive mirage, the seven principles safeguard all the essentials of human freedom at the same time as they provide a basis for an exact investigation of the technical problems of economic science.

Taken from The Catholic Mind, Vo1. XXXIX, Nov. 8, 1941, No. 933. Reprinted from The Dublin Review (July, 1941). Introduction written by Mr. Christopher McCann of Angelus Press.

Shaman Warrior

Korean manhwa (represented by the same Chinese characters manhua used for the Japanese manga)

Profile

Not sure if I would like the idea of having a Shaman as a hero; Buddhist warrior monks are a bit better with regard to religious import, but it does not appear the protagonist has any mystical powers, so... I might be interested in checking it out, if it were available somewhere closeby.

AICN review
PopCultureReview

Interview with Philip Simon, Dark Horse Editor

Then there's Samurai Executioner and Path of the Assasin

Shinmun.com

HK Top 10 Chinese Gold Songs


Singer Tsai Chin smiles during her performance at the Hong Kong Top Ten Chinese Gold Songs Award Presentation in Hong Kong January 27, 2007. REUTERS/Paul Yeung (CHINA)

Singer Tsai Chin performs during the Hong Kong Top Ten Chinese Gold Songs Award Presentation in Hong Kong January 27, 2007. REUTERS/Paul Yeung (CHINA)

Hong Kong singer Adam Cheng performs after he won the Golden Needle Award during the Hong Kong Top Ten Chinese Gold Songs Award Presentation in Hong Kong January 27, 2007. REUTERS/Paul Yeung (CHINA)

Hong Kong singer Andy Lau performs after winning the Most Popular Male Singers Award (Mainland) during the Hong Kong Top Ten Chinese Gold Songs Award Presentation in Hong Kong January 27, 2007. REUTERS/Paul Yeung (CHINA)

Hong Kong singer Andy Lau holds the trophy for the Most Popular Male Singers Award (Mainland) during the Hong Kong Top Ten Chinese Gold Songs Award Presentation in Hong Kong January 27, 2007. REUTERS/Paul Yeung (CHINA)

Alain Delon to star in Johnnie To film


The veteran French film star Alain Delon, seen here in January 2006, is to star in an action movie by award-winning director Johnnie To, with shooting to begin late this year in Hong Kong, the actor's office said.(AFP/DDP/File/Tim Schamberger)

Varia, 2 February 2007



Scholarship for Cambodian students: 2006 Miss Korea Contest winner Lee Honey poses for a handset camera after she delivered a welfare scholarship fund to Build Bright University in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Thursday. Lee also gave a “kayagum” (12-string Korean traditional instrument) performance at the Phnom Penh Theater to strengthen friendship between Cambodia and North Kyongsang Province. / Korea Times 02-01-2007 21:02


New money for Lunar New Year
: Employees in hanbok, Korea’s traditional costume, exchange old banknotes for new ones and present lucky bags to customers three weeks before Lunar New Year’s Day at Hyundai Department store in Mok-dong, western Seoul, Sunday. Lunar New Year’s Day falls on Feb. 18. /Korea Times 01-28-2007 20:38

Drew Dyck, The Amazing Wilberforce

The Amazing Wilberforce
by Drew Dyck

Maybe it's just me. But when I think of people who are "super spiritual," I always envision those who withdraw from society. I think of the otherworldly ones — mystics and monks or even that old prayer warrior at church. You know the one I'm talking about: the blue-haired saint who beseeches God endlessly behind closed doors.

Maybe my high esteem for them stems partly from my pathetic inability to pray for more than 20 minutes without losing focus or falling asleep.

The problem is that my thinking about such "super Christians" tends to exclude Christians who are more action oriented — those called to live out their faith in the context of the public square.

What shatters such thinking is the life of 19th century Politician and Abolitionist, William Wilberforce. Wilberforce is the subject of a new movie, Amazing Grace, which opens on Feb. 23. The film's release is timed to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in England.

I plan to be first in line at the theater opening night. Let me tell you why. Lately Wilberforce has become something of a hero to me. His life stands as a stirring testament to what can happen when someone decides to make private faith a public affair.

Not that Wilberforce started out as a firebrand. Ironically, the man who would do so much to transform society suffered the same misperception as me at the outset of his spiritual journey. He thought that Christian spirituality demanded retreating from the world. This conviction created a dilemma. When Wilberforce became a Christian at the age of 25, he had already established himself in British politics. But he didn't believe that he could continue in a secular career as a Christian. Politics, he reasoned, was no place for a man of faith. But what could he do? Politics was his field. It was where he excelled. It was what he had trained for.

That's when he received some sage advice from his friend John Newton (yes, that John Newton, the one who wrote the song, "Amazing Grace"). Newton counseled the young convert to remain in politics. The moment is depicted in the upcoming movie. "The principles of Christianity," says Newton's character, "require action as well as meditation."

"Action as well as meditation." Those may have not been the exact words the historical Newton used to coach Wilberforce. But according to the records they do convey the gist of his message — a message which Wilberforce took to heart. Soon after their talk Wilberforce decided not only to continue his political career, but to do so passionately, using his influence to wage a tireless war against slavery and other scourges of his day.

Success didn't come quickly. When it came to slavery, Wilberforce had his work cut out for him. England's powerful economy was reliant on the slave trade. In 1789 Wilberforce made his first speech on slavery in the House of Commons, arguing that the practice was morally reprehensible. The next year the Parliament agreed to consider the evidence he had compiled on the issue and in 1791 Wilberforce put forth the first parliamentary Bill to abolish slavery. Unfortunately the Bill was defeated by a vote of 163 to 88.

But Wilberforce was far from done. He redoubled his efforts. Along with his fellow abolitionists, Wilberforce mobilized a campaign to shift public opinion on the issue. He raised it in parliament again, though his next efforts, in 1792, 1793, 1795, 1796 and 1797, were all unsuccessful.

Where others may have grown discouraged, Wilberforce pressed on. And he didn't confine his activism to one cause. Moved to reform English society as a whole, he also issued a "Proclamation for the Discouragement of Vice" which aimed to curb the growing immorality in English society.

Additionally Wilberforce promoted legislation that opened the way for missions to India, pushed for child labor laws, advocated for the education of the disabled and founded the African Institution to improve the lives of slaves living in the West Indies. He even founded a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

However, Wilberforce's greatest passion was still abolishing slavery. By 1804 the winds of public opinion were blowing in his favor, in no small part due to the impassioned writings of himself and fellow abolitionists. This time when Wilberforce pushed the Bill it passed the House of Commons, but by the time it did, it was too late in the session to pass the House of Lords, a crucial step in order for the bill to become law. The next year, Wilberforce reintroduced the Bill, but this time it was defeated on the second reading.

Wilberforce did not wait idly by for another chance. As he awaited another opportunity to push the Bill, he proposed a different, related piece of legislation. The Foreign Slave Trade Act prohibited British subjects from participating in the slave trade to the French colonies.

The Bill passed easily.

The maneuver was a savvy one, as it effectively shut down two-thirds of the British slave trade. During this time Wilberforce also wrote an influential essay, "A Letter on the Abolition of the Slave Trade," which included much of the evidence against slavery that had been gathered. It was published in 1807 and paved the way for the ultimate success of the antislavery Bill. That year the Bill passed the House of Lords, the House of Commons and then the "Slave Trade Act" received the Royal Assent on March 25th.

Still, the Act did not completely end the practice of slavery and Wilberforce soldiered on for the cause until suffering an eventually fatal bout of influenza in 1833. On July 26 of that year he received the news with great joy that the Bill had finally passed its third reading in the House of Commons. The next day Wilberforce died.

The life of this extraordinary man, who lived two centuries ago, still speaks clearly today. His sheer passion and persistence should inspire us to live our faith out loud, confident that the God who changed us is able to change our world too.

Yes, a rich devotional life is essential. Being spiritual means seeking God on our knees. But Wilberforce's example reminds us that the Christian life also involves serving God on our feet. Sometimes faith is about contemplating the love of God. And sometimes it's about arguing aggressively in a noisy parliament. Sometimes it's singing choruses at church. On other occasions it means standing for truth at work. It demands meditation and action.

We need more Wilberforces today. Our world is still marred by injustice and sin. There's no shortage of atrocities to tackle: sex slavery, abortion, genocide, hunger, poverty. The list goes on.

To combat these ills we need Christians who are unafraid and unashamed of championing the values of the gospel in the public arena. We need leaders dedicated to changing the world for the good of humanity and the glory of God.

We are not all called to conventional ministry. But we are all called to be salt and light where God places us. When we are faithful in heeding that call, God always does His part. And suddenly, like Wilberforce did, we see the world begin to change.