Saturday, November 14, 2009

Rod Dreher: The joy of the priesthood

Mr. Dreher links to this story, "After 50 years, Father Bill still remembering the joy," which would seem to testify to the reasons for a celibate priesthood (first enumerated by St. Paul):

"She's my caregiver," he said of Effie. "A few years ago, I had to replace a heart valve. Then it was prostate cancer. Now it's leukemia. I'm dead without her. And over the years, I sometimes feel I've abused time with her, too. That I should have spent more time with her and my kids. I didn't see their Little League games, and so on. But there are two sides to the coin."

Lawrence Auster criticizes the Pope on immigration

Same old open-borders preaching from Pope John Paul III

The post links to this article: Pope, migration is opportunity: World Congress on Migrants opens in Vatican. Zenit has some more coverage--Migrants a Resource, Nothing to Fear, Says Pope:

The Pontiff contended that "genuine development always has a solidary nature" and globalization "can be a propitious occasion to promote integral development, but only if cultural differences are accepted as occasions for meeting and dialogue, and if the unequal distribution of world resources sparks a new awareness of the necessary solidarity that must unite the human family."

Benedict XVI called for "adequate answers to the great social changes under way, taking into account that there cannot be effective development if the meeting between peoples, the dialogue between cultures and respect for legitimate differences are not fostered."

"Migrations are an invitation to perceive clearly the unity of the human family, and the values of acceptance, hospitality and love of neighbor," he added.

The Pope reminded the faithful of the Church's invitation to "open their hearts to migrants and their families, knowing that [...] they constitute a resource that must be valued at the proper time for humanity's journey and its genuine development."

In his opening address, Archbishop Antonio Vegliò, president of the pontifical council that organized the conference, explained that among its objectives is addressing the reality of departure, transit and arrival, which goes across society and Christian communities.

"The present movements of peoples make it necessary to further knowledge," he said, "on topics such as the fundamental unity of the human race, freedom of religion and worship, universal fraternity, the universal destiny of the goods of this world, the right to liberty of movement, the centrality of the human person and the protection of his fundamental rights everywhere, as well as the reunification of families, an education that respects the native culture of migrants and, finally, the responsibility of political leaders to find stable solutions, in the socioeconomic field, which do not oblige citizens to emigrate."
Do we find here an instance of liberalism, with its assumption that societies are made up of rootless individuals who have no ties to anyone else? It appears not, though one could prematurely leap to that conclusion.

Does the exercise of charity require that we extend citizenship to immigrants? And does universal fraternity override the order of charity? Would one argue that migrants are in greater need of our charity than our fellow citizens, because of their needs are greater and they have much less? As for liberty of movement -- how much land does a political community need for itself? How much can it claim for future generations and expansion? The human family may be one, but how does one reconcile this fact with the "legitimate differences" that divide peoples and cultures? Cannot a host society demand that those who wish to become parts of it assimilate and adopt the host culture as their own? To do any less would seem to invite division which could lead to actual conflict.

What is to be done if immigrants refuse to assimilate? Can they be legitimately expelled from a community? Or can the children be educated against their parents' will? (Could this be done successfully without taking the children away from their families?) If they cannot be legitimately expelled, those who do not choose assimilation can be kept under resident alien status until their death, along with their children. But what about a demographic war? What if immigrants reproduce at a greater rate than that of the natives? Would one be so glib as to say that the natives deserve this, for practicing contraception? Or that this is what happens "naturally," with one people displacing another?

Can state education replace the moral formation provided by parents? If immigrant families do not educate their children as well as natives, then what is to be done once the results become manifest with rising crime, illegitimacy rate, and so on?\

In general, when people cannot lead or control themselves, should they be placed under the rule of another? Liberals are vehemently opposed to this, but what would they do if this was the only rational solution? (How many white liberals feel free to preach multiculturalism, tolerance, and a laissez-faire attitude towards moral education because they do not have to live next to non-whites?)
A notorious South African white and Afrikaaner nationalist blog, which Mencius Moldbug duscusses, has been terminated by its founders. (Some of the contributors have started another one here.) Could the whites have successfully split the country in half or more in order to keep the whites separate from the blacks? Would a white country have been able to survive for long? And what about the division of the natural resources in South Africa? Would a white government be forced eventually to share the mines, if they could not see the justice of doing so? Or would its military be sufficient for it to keep them? (Probably not.) If the government of South Africa and its black majority are unable to protect the whites from attacks by blacks, what else can the whites do but leave?
Paul Gottfried, A Call to the Alternative Right

I would also stress the divergence between our sides when it comes to extricating ourselves from the multicultural fever swamp. Possible neoconservative alternatives to what I’ve described, by such characteristic advocates as Lynne Cheney, David Horowitz and Bill Bennett, might include a compulsory course on the American heritage. This course would showcase our country as a self-perfecting global democracy; and it would take students on an inspirational journey from the Declaration of Independence’s proclamation that “All men are created equal” through FDR’s Four Freedoms down to Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. This and other similar measures would be used to teach students of all races and creeds “democratic values,” the spread of which, we would be told, is the high moral end for which the U.S. was brought into existence.

We might also hear a recommendation from neoconservative social commentator Dinesh D’Souza, calling for extraordinary efforts to integrate college students of all different ethnic backgrounds. D’Souza would accuse our administration of not going far enough to commit students and faculty to a universally exportable democratic way of life. We would also likely be told that recruiting minorities for the wrong reasons would create islands of separateness on our campus instead of making everyone into a member of the world’s first global nation. Finally we might be warned, perhaps by Cal Thomas or David Horowitz, that lurking behind calls for diversity is a hidden plea for anti-Zionism or a defeatist response to the War On Terror. Such hidden agendas characterize the advocates of diversity; who in any case are deviating from the goal of the saintly Martin Luther King, a firm opponent of all forms of quotas, even for black Americans.

Needless to say, I couldn’t think of anyone on the Alternative Right who would take any of these stands. Our side would stress that not every adolescent can do college work. Colleges that are serious about traditional disciplines might appeal to, at most, 20 percent of the young, which is the percentage of those who have the cognitive skills for doing college-level study. Given the fraudulent product that now passes for college education, it is not surprising that most students and faculty can neither learn nor teach what was once deemed appropriate as college subjects.

One could easily point to speakers at this conference who have taken the positions outlined. These fearless critics have questioned the transformation of American higher education into a devalued consumer product, made available to those who are incapable of real learning. Small wonder that colleges are turned into centers of multicultural social experiments and diversitarian gibberish! What better use could one find for a falsely advertised institution that is trying to entertain young social work, communication and primary education majors while taking their parents’ money!

Neoconservative educationists, we might also hear from the Alternative Right, have their own fish to fry. They are seeking to defend their version of the democratic welfare state as the best of all governments. They also have another far-reaching goal that is explicit or implicit in their college outreach. Neoconservatives, to speak about them specifically, wish to limit any disagreement on campuses generated by their aggressively internationalist foreign policy. In pursuit of this end, they happily falsify or obscure certain embarrassing historical facts, e.g., the massive deceit applied to pushing the U.S. into past foreign wars, and the published views of such neocon heroes as Churchill and Wilson dealing with racial and ethnic differences.

Neoconservatives and their defenders would accuse our side of taking positions that have no chance of being accepted. And they might be right on this last point. Our positions would infuriate the educational establishment and much of the public administration apparatus. Many of us, moreover, are strict constitutionalists, who would argue, to the consternation of the political class, that the federal government is excessively entangled in state and local education. It should be of no concern to public administrators whether a private college has or has not been recruiting designated minorities. Academic education should not be an occasion for government social planners to impose their vision on the private sector. Indeed private colleges, if they were truly concerned about being independent, would reject federal and state aid, and they would do all in their power to keep our managerial government from interfering with their institutions.

Note I am not defending “our side” in these debates. I am only making clear that we and they do not hold the same views about American education or about how its problems are to be engaged. I would also concede the obvious here, namely, that some people on our side of the divide may occasionally work for those on the other side and that the GOP out of power will occasionally get behind books and authors presenting arguments that would not please Republican administrations. Not all who make the arguments of the alternative Right have been subject to equally oppressive sanctions or have been uniformly denied a place in the sun. There are disparities in the ways that the GOP-movement conservative establishment has treated individual critics on the right. What seems beyond dispute however is that we and they disagree fundamentally on a wide range of questions, far more than we in this room would disagree with each other. The conventional conservative movement is therefore justified in recognizing that we are more different from their movement than establishment conservatives are from those on the center left. Movement conservatives and neoconservatives dialogue openly with the liberal Left while ignoring or ridiculing us—and this happens for a very good reason. The authorized version of the conservative movement understands that we and they are not of the same spirit. Unlike them, we do not serve the GOP; nor are we obliged to go along with neoconservative whims and fixations lest we lose our jobs or media outlets.
FPJ & Modern Age: Felix Morley on Freedom, Liberty, and Power by Joseph R. Stromberg
Zenit: University Federation to Look at Postmodernity
Rector Says Church Must Present Truth to Anyone Seeking It

In presenting the assembly, Father Ghirlanda noted how the search for truth is a "constituent element of man's nature, and of his dignity and vocation."

"The Church," he added, "must offer the means for the truth to be discovered by everyone who seeks it. [...] This is why the mission of Catholic universities is not only aimed at the Catholic faithful -- in many of them, in fact, Catholic students are a small minority -- but to all men and women who wish to receive an integral education for the development of a free and responsible personality."

The adjunct secretary of the FIUC, Pedro Nel Medina Varon, spoke of three responsibilities of Catholic universities.

The first, he said, is preserving Catholic intellectual tradition: "the reflection that the Christian community has been developing for the last 2,000 years concerning the most profound questions about life and the human condition, as well as the beliefs and values transmitted by the Gospel."

The second task, Varon suggested, is "the integral education of the person." And the third is "service to the Church."
1. But what mission does the university serve in disclosing truth to those who seek it? Should not the burden be upon the Church to evangelize the non-believer? Without a solid foundation in the natural sciences, what can Catholic universities possibly do, except to add to the confusion and indoctrination that passes for being educated?

2. The Legionaries like to talk about "integral formation." I believe I have seen some curial officials use "integral" with respect to education as well. What is "integral" opposed to, and what sort of curriculum does it imply?

Il sito Web della Pontificia Università Gregoriana

Edit. A discussion of the LC's integral formation over at Life after RC.
Just recently some children were talking about scary movies that they liked -- Freddie v. Jason, Paranormal Activity, and so on. Once again some of the girls mentioned how they thought Chucky was scary. I told them that horror movies were dumb and not good for their imagination, but they laughed it off. I know my cousins and I were fascinated with horror movies when we were young, although I don't remember deriving any pleasure from experiencing fear. Their parents probably watched horror movies when they were young as well, but what is psychological effect of watching all of this brute violence and death?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Reflections from Normandy:
Vatican Council II: A much needed Discussion
Monsignor Brunero Gherardini, a renowned 85-year-old theologian of the Roman school, has written a book under the title Vatican Council II: A much needed Discussion. The Italian version is published by Casa Mariana Editrice, a publishing house connected to the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, and it boasts a forward by Bishop Mario Oliveri (Diocese of Albenga and Imperia in northern Italy on the coast between Genoa and Nice) and an introduction by Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, the former secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, who is now the Archbishop of Colombo and Metropolitan of the Church in Sri Lanka.

(via Stephen Hand)

Two more from Energy Bulletin...

The Oil Situation Is Really Bad
Dave Cohen, ASPO-USA
On the eve of the International Energy Agency’s release of its annual World Energy Outlook (WEO), a whistleblower at the IEA claims the agency “has been deliberately underplaying a looming [oil] shortage for fear of triggering panic buying” in the world markets.

Bailouts for dummies
Dave Pollard, how to save the world blog
Lately I've been reading more about economics, in self-defence against all the corporatist-government thievery and lies going on out there. I'm aware that most people find what is happening in our economy and financial systems unfathomable, so I thought I'd try to simplify the complex.
Sandro Magister, Matteo Ricci. How to "Inculturate" Christianity in China
An exhibition at the Vatican offers as a model the great Jesuit missionary of four centuries ago. But for Beijing authorities as well, "Li Madou" is a national treasure
Searching for a Miracle: ‘Net Energy’ Limits & the Fate of Industrial Society
Richard Heinberg and Jerry Mander, Post Carton Institute and Int'l Forum on Globalization

Perhaps the most significant limit to future energy supplies is the “net energy” factor—the requirement that energy systems yield more energy than is invested in their construction and operation.

Peak Oil Hausfrau, Top 10 Euphemisms for Peak Oil
Yahoo!: Ft. Hood ‘hero’ story changes

How responsible was the MSM for hyping up the heroics of a female police officer, for the sake of furthering the new PC order?

More To Grass Than Meets The Eye
Gene Logsdon, The Contrary Farmer
You can tell that the photo above is not a lawn because of the glob of sheep manure in the center. Unfortunately most people do not graze farm animals on their lawns. What you are looking at is mostly bluegrass and white clover, two plants that grow wild all over the United States... No plant “invasion” could be any more beneficial.


Some have responded to the claim that the use of a car is necessary in suburbia -- if one really wanted to, one could get by on public transportation or a bike. Here in the South Bay, the use of either is very convenient if one is travelling long distances. Even trips over short distances can be time-consuming, since buses are not very frequent. Environmentalists might claim, "The time spent on alternative modes of transportation is worth it?" After all, it's good for environmental reasons, or as a form of witness to a car-independent lifestyle. Would these people be so callous as to say, "The poor need to make do with what they have," or, "No one is entitlted to the use of a car"? Certainly that are Republicans who have no qualms over saying these things.

But should not the time be spent on other more worth pursuits, leisure or religion? The car is a convenience, but it is a convenience that is made necessary by the fact that our living arrangements are so inconvenient, and often our family and friends are spread all over a region, not within the city limits. Are those who argue against the necessity of a car not claiming, in effect, that the poor have no "right" to leisure, or the pursuit of a more humane way of life?
WWWTW: BOOK EXCERPT: American Austen
Dave Lindorff, Health Care Reform: DOA

I definitely don't agree with Lindorff regarding abortion:

But with the ban on abortion coverage, there is a chance that at least some principled members of Congress, backers of a woman's right to unimpeded health care that she and her doctor say she needs, will reject the whole obscene package. If they do, this fradulent reform legislation will go down in flames.

But he and some of the other columnists at Counterpunch give us a good idea of how far the current health care bill does not address the problems with the health care system, even if it is from the viewpoint of the radical left, and how much Congress and the President are in the pocket of the insurance companies.
NLM: All Saints of the Benedictine and Cistercian Orders

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Via the Western Confucian: Anchor Lou Dobbs resigns from CNN

What is he thinking of doing? Running for office? Starting a third-party, or perhaps strengthening an existing one? He has been criticized for being racist and deliberately stating falsehoods on the air, but he may be able to show some how to win the votes of MARs.
US News and World Report: Your Kids Can't Say No to Candy? Blame It on Their Brains

Indeed, the past decade of research on children's brain development has shown conclusively that they are not little adults and that the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain used for higher-order decision making, doesn't mature in humans until the teenage years or beyond. That's undoubtedly an evolutionary development, says Thompson-Schill, since there's no such difference between child and adult brains in other primates. She calls that delayed frontal lobe maturation "cognition without control," the title of her new paper in Current Directions in Psychological Science. Cognition without control is a good thing for children, the scientist says, even if it sometimes drives their parents bonkers.

What is the cause and effect here? Materialists think that changes in the brain lead to changes in behavior or "decision-making"; but if the brain is a tool of the soul, and not its cause, might it not be the case that the brain changes once we attain the "age of reason" and reason about our behavior?

Which reminds me, I should type up something about the natural love of God, and whether children intend certain ends in the same way as adults...
Ralph Nader, Failing the People on Health Care
Franklin Spinney, The Afghan War Question

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Michael Shedlock: Sound Money Candidates Running For Congress
Peter Hitchens: Two minutes without silence

Let us remember in our prayers Sarge and everyone else who is currently serving in our military, or did so in the past.
JMG, A Gesture from the Invisible Hand

The arrival of geological limits to increasing fossil fuel production places a burden on the economy, because the cost in energy, labor, and materials (rather than money) to extract fossil fuels does not depend on market forces. On average, it goes up over time, as easily accessible reserves are depleted and have to be replaced by those more difficult and costly to extract. Improved efficiencies and new technologies can counter that to a limited extent, but both these face the familiar problem of diminishing returns as the laws of thermodynamics, and other physical laws, come into play.

As a society nears the geological limits to production, in other words, a steadily growing fraction of its total supply of energy, resources, and labor have to be devoted to the task of bringing in the energy that keeps the entire economy moving. This percentage may be small at first, but it's effectively a tax in kind on every productive economic activity, and as it grows it makes productive economic activity less profitable. The process by which money produces more money consumes next to no energy, by contrast, and so financial investments don't lose ground due to rising energy costs.

This makes financial investments, on average, relatively more profitable than investing in the kinds of economic activity that use energy to produce nonfinancial goods and services. The higher the burden imposed by energy costs, the more sweeping the disparity becomes; the result, of course, is that individuals trying to maximize their own economic gains move their money out of investments in the productive economy of goods and services, and into the paper economy of finance.

Ironically, this happens just as a perpetually expanding money supply driven by mass borrowing at interest has become an anachronism unsuited to the new economic reality of energy contraction. It also guarantees that any attempt to limit the financial sphere of the economy will face mass opposition, not only from financiers, but from millions of ordinary citizens whose dream of a comfortable retirement depends on the hope that financial investments will outperform the faltering economy of goods and services. Meanwhile, just as the economy most needs massive reinvestment in productive capacity to retool itself for the very different world defined by contracting energy supplies, investment money seeking higher returns flees the productive economy for the realm of abstract paper wealth.

Nor will this effect be countered, as suggested by the well-intentioned people mentioned toward the beginning of this essay, by a flood of investment money going into energy production and bringing the cost of energy back down. Producing energy takes energy, and thus is just as subject to rising energy costs as any other productive activity; even as the price of oil goes up, the costs of extracting it or making some substitute for it rise in tandem and make investments in oil production or replacement no more lucrative than any other part of the productive economy. Oil that has already been extracted from the ground may be a good investment, and financial paper speculating on the future price of oil will likely be an excellent one, but neither of these help increase the supply of oil, or any oil substitute, flowing into the economy.
Asia News: Underground bishop: I joined the Patriotic Association for the good of the Church, by Zhen Yuan

Mgr. An Shuxin says he was not pressured by the Vatican for his choice. In front of the division created in the diocese of Baoding, priests and experts are asking the Vatican and China to free the ordinary Bishop Su Zhimin, , in prison for the past 13 years.
Looking at OKCupid, I have found that the word "sarcastic" show up very often in the profiles of the women who use the website, either as one of the three words they used to headline their profile or in their description of themselves. Young Uhmericans are known for being sarcastic, but why highlight this trait? It's not particularly attractive, even if it is not in excess but only "moderate." If a women were to use sarcasm with her boyfriend, one would wonder if it's a lack of respect, rather than her "normal" sense of humor showing through.
Zenit: Pope: Give God to the World That's Forgotten Him

Kevin Gutzman on Mike Church

Transcript: Everything You Wanted To Know About Consititutional Conventions But Were Afraid To Ask-Part 1; Part 2
Catholic Answers Live: What’s Up with that Church Design?, Guest: Duncan Stroik (rm, mp3)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

We'll Meet Again - Hayley Westenra - Vera Lynn - Fron Male Voice Choir (High Definition)

Hayley Westenra - Variety Club Awards 2008 - Classical Performer of the Year

White Christmas - Hayley Westenra ( ヘイリー 海莉 )

Hayley Westenra - Tears After Tears (涙そうそう)
Winslow T. Wheeler, The Self-Dismembering F-35
Public Discourse: What Makes a Woman a Woman: The Case of Caster Semenya
Christopher O. Tollefsen, October 30, 2009
Sugar, spice, and everything nice or snaps, snails, and puppy-dog tails? A controversy over a South African runner makes us ask what boys and girls are made of.
The Catholic Thing: Are We Beyond the Conflict of Science and Faith?, by John O’Callaghan
Catholic Answers Live: Divorce According to Henry VIII, Christopher Check (rm and mp3)
Jeffery Tucker looks at John Allen's new book, The Future Church: The Elephant in the Living Room. I don't have the book, and I don't plan on purchasing it, but based on what I've read in Mr. Tucker's post and Mr. Allen's brief description of the book, I think Allen gets the long-term future wrong, even if he is extrapolating based on current trends.

The book is my attempt to describe the ten most important trends shaping the future of the Catholic Church, on a global scale. My choices are the product of almost two decades of reporting, and hundreds of hours of interviews with bishops, priests, religious women and men, and laity all over the Catholic world. They’re not styled as my personal vision for the future, but rather a reporter’s effort to capture those forces which really are most significant today, whatever I (or anyone else) might think about them.

The trends are:
A World Church
Evangelical Catholicism
The New Demographics
Expanding Lay Roles
The Biotech Revolution

I believe that the Church, if it is to remain "effective" in the future, must rediscover what it is for the local Church to be local -- only then can there be a complete renewal of Christian spirituality. (And part of that renewal includes a better developed liturgical spirituality.)

If the elites try to hold on to their political and economic power, in the face of peak oil, resource depletion, and the rest, I believe this will be accompanied by greater attacks on the Church, so that the Church must start operating more like revolutionary cells, than a mainstream social institution.
Times Online: Barack Obama 'insensitive' over his handling of Fort Hood shooting
On sale: Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe's The Mystery of Joseph (published by Zaccheus Press). Click on the link to see the details.

Father Marie-Dominique Philippe

More from Fr. Philippe:
Mary, Mystery of Mercy by Marie-Dominique Philippe, O.P.
Matthew Simmons: “Global crude oil peaked in 2005” (interview)
Lars Schall, MMnews
Matthew Simmons, Chairman of “Simmons & Company International”, is the world’s largest private energy investment banker. Moreover, he is a leading expert on the crucial topic of Peak Oil. In the following interview, Mr. Simmons talks about the on-going recession, explains why we might have reached an end of growth and gives his reading of last year’s oil price spike.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Michael Shedlock: The Dollar Meltdown: Book Review

THE DOLLAR MELTDOWN by Charles Goyette

Michael Nystrom, Review: Charles Goyette's 'The Dollar Meltdown'
Dave Lindorff, The Kafka Economy
Judith Miller, The Mexicanization of American Law Enforcement
The drug cartels extend their corrupting influence northward.
Energy Bulletin: Key oil figures were distorted by US pressure, says whistleblower
Terry Macalister, Guardian (UK)
The world is much closer to running out of oil than official estimates admit, according to a whistleblower at the International Energy Agency who claims it has been deliberately underplaying a looming shortage for fear of triggering panic buying. [excerpt]
NLM: Compendium of the Reforms of the Roman Breviary, 1568-1961: Part 7.3 - The Breviary Reforms of St. Pius X (Continued)
Zenit: Papal Message to Seminar on Faith and Sports
"Sport Has a Notable Educational Potential" [2009-11-09]

Through sports activities, the ecclesial community contributes to the formation of youth, offering an appropriate ambit for its human and spiritual growth. In fact, when they are directed to the integral development of the person and are managed by qualified and competent personnel, sports initiatives reveal themselves as propitious occasions in which priests, religious and laity can become true and proper educators and teachers of life of young people. Hence, it is necessary that, in our time -- in which we see the urgent need to educate the new generations -- the Church continue to support sports for young people, fully appreciating also competitive activity in its positive aspects, as for example, in the capacity to stimulate competitiveness, courage and tenacity in the pursuit of objectives avoiding, however, all tendencies that pervert its very nature with recourse to practices that are also dangerous to the organism, as is the case of doping. In a coordinated formative action, Catholic leaders, technicians and operators must be considered experienced guides for adolescents, helping them to develop their own competitive potentialities without neglecting the human qualities and Christian virtues which make the person completely mature.

Anglicanorum Coetibus

Zenit: Apostolic Constitution "Anglicanorum Coetibus""Jesus Prayed to the Father for the Unity of His Disciples" [2009-11-09]
Complementary Norms for Anglican Constitution [2009-11-09]
Vatican Commentary on New Norms for AnglicansFather Gianfranco Ghirlanda Explains Significance [2009-11-09]

[2009-11-09] 1st British Anglicans Headed to Rome
[2009-11-09] Celibacy as a Rule Still in Force for Anglicans
[2009-11-09] New Avenue Leads to Communion

Some posts at other blogs:
Fr. Finigan
Damian Thompson: Apostolic Constitution: Vatican publishes the details, Apostolic Constitution: the full text, Apostolic Constitution: married ex-Anglican bishops may keep insignia of episcopal office, Pope's historic offer creates an Anglican tradition within the Catholic Church
American Papist
Fr. Z

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Michael Shedlock on living wages:

Living Wages

The above viewpoint will undoubtedly bring up endless chater about a "living wage". The problems with "living wages" are many.

Somehow a "living wage" has morphed into a new SUV every 4 years, a 4 bedroom 2,200 square foot home (or better), flat panel TVs in 3 rooms, cell phones for every member of the household, etc. etc.

The first problem with "living wages" is unrealistic lifestyle expectations and attempts to live far beyond ones means. A second and bigger problem, as I have pointed out many times, is that concern ought to be how far the dollar goes (not how many dollars one makes).

If government would stop wasting trillions of dollars in needless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, if we could cut out stimulus spending, stop propping up banks at the expense of taxpayers, stop giving handouts to home builders (and everyone else), and in general just get the hell out of the way, wages would fall (but prices would fall even more), and the purchasing power of the dollar would rise.

If the US slashed corporate income taxes and had a genuine free trade policy (regardless of what any other country does), small business hiring in the US would soar.

Instead, sheep scream for the wolves in Congress to protect them while union leaders prey on their own flock. Never before in history have so many sheep begged to be watched by wolves. Yet, this should not be surprising given we live in a world where sheep are taught to be sensitive to the needs of wolves.
How about earning enough money to support one's family, secure decent housing, and to enable that at least one parent is able to stay home to raise and possibly even teach the children? Can one do that on $20,000 a year anywhere in the U.S.? Probably not in California. And what of the rights of native Californians to live in the area where they were born and raised, and where family currently resides? If the nature of the job is such that it does not require much skill or thinking, then maybe the problem is with the system for not providing not enough opportunities for people to use the skills that they can and do have, rather than with the people.

Moral rigorism

After reading the piece by Natalie Portman on Jonathan Safran Foer, which also explains what action we should take vis-a-vis factory farming, I was reminded of how some advocates, apologists, and pundits clothe themselves in moral purity, while condemning those who do not live up to their standards of right behavior as being immoral or hypocritical (if they endorse those same standards). Others may claim that moral purity requires someone who believes in x to do y, which they see as the "logical" requirement of belief in x. They then use the failure to do y as an ad hominem argument to discredit the proponent of x and to refute x (which is a fallacious argument).

What they fail to recognize is that there are different kinds of cooperation in evil, and that while formal cooperation in evil is prohibited, material cooperation in evil may be permissible, if there is sufficient reason. I say that this sort of moral position is rigorist because their exacting demands go beyond what is required by reason, and notably what is taught by the Church. Because there can be material cooperation in evil, the moral imperative to do y or avoid z in order to prevent some evil may be mitigated by this, along with other considerations, to the point that there is actually no moral imperative to begin with.

This confusion about cooperation in evil underscores the need for careful reasoning within moral theology/philosophy, and shows that casuistry is an inseparable part of the work of the moral theologian.

Am I in turn guilty of being a moral rigorist in using the lessons I have learned to not only reject a normal academic career, but to judge others who have chosen that course? Perhaps. How many of those who teach at colleges and universities are truly guilty of expanding the higher education bubble, or of benefitting from the financial exploitation of students and their parents? How can I make a living off selling a useless, or at least overpriced product to others?

On a somewhat related note: Some have responded to Katherine Dalton's piece on secession by reminding readers that secession will never become mainstream or acceptable to most Americans, so long as it, like states' rights, is tied to the South, slavery, the Civil War, and racism. Of course they assume that the Yankee narrative of the war is correct, and this seems to be the dominant history in the minds of the majority of Americans. This narrative is often used to condemn those who advocate secession as a solution to the country's problems, or at least as a response to tyranny by the National Government.

I concede that resistance to the idea of secession will persist so long as people associate it with racism and intolerance because of their flawed education. They will also refuse to consider it as a political option while their identity is tied up with a unified nation-state. But this aversion may not be shared equally by all Americans in all regions. Perhaps there is still enough independence of thought in various states that secession can become a viable course of action.

Even if secession were to become acceptable, it seems to me that the sad fact of life is that most Americans do not have what it takes to make secession a long-term reality, as they do not have the desire to struggle for political and economic independence, and to live a simpler life, producing what they need for themselves and their neighbors. They would rather have their luxuries and toys than do without them to make for a more equitable and sustainable social order.

Others think that relocalization is not an option, because if it were to be implemented, millions would starve and die. They do not consider the possibility that those who advocate relocalization are recommending a gradual transition, not a sudden one. In effect, what they are saying is that power should remain in the hands of the corporations, because without them, people would not be fed. But do they consider the possibility that it is because of corporations (and the conivance of government) that people are prevented from growing food for themselves, and adopting sustainable measures? And that to perpetuate industrial agriculture is to make die-off inevitable, as we (1) continue to use natural resources without replacing them, and (2) maintain our dependence upon cheap oil to make industrial agriculture possible. Will not food become more expensive and possibly even scarce once it beocmes obvious to everyone that oil production has hit its peak?

I must say that I find this sort of rejoinder to advocates of relocalization to be rather pointless, since none of the PTB take relocalization seriously. Instead, such criticisms give the impression of moral posturing and lecturing on the part of those responding--some even go so far as to judge those advocates as being indifferent to the suffering or deaths of many, simply because they suggest we look to local, sustainable solutions. Another example of some cloaking themselves in moral purity?

More on cooperation:
Formal and Material Cooperation : Catholic Dictionary : MATERIAL CO-OPERATION
A Quiet Catholic: Material Cooperation
Remote Material Cooperation with Intrinsic Evil
Mark T. Mitchell, Same-Sex Marriage, Abortion, and the Limits of Localism

He gives a response to a common paleo objection to involvement by the government in deciding the legal question of marriage:

Perhaps the government should simply get out of the marriage business altogether. But that doesn’t look likely, and so we are left with the question of culture. Can a society survive if the vast majority of the populace do not share a common culture and together affirm a collection of common ideas? Is an affirmation of “liberty for all”—where liberty means the freedom from any constraint or authority—an adequate foundation for a society? Or does, in fact, this sort of absolute liberalism consume itself in the very logic of its existence? Can a society exist when all that unifies it is the continual emancipation of desire? The obvious answer, it seems to me, is no. But where can one find a common culture? The affirmation of certain basic rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness devoid of any metaphysical conception of what it means to be a human being falls short. Rights claims without acknowledgment of obligations and ends suited to human beings are little more than emotivist utterances that can be asserted and expanded with ever-increasing shrillness and incoherence. This is precisely where we are today. The same-sex marriage “debate” is the logical outcome of a society steeped in the language of rights where the understanding of rights has been separated from any notion of the human person as more than a bundle of expanding appetites. Such a “debate” cannot be won by either side, for winning a debate implies rational discussion, but in an emotivist context, the only victory is gained by force.

James Madison argued that the political system produced by the constitution of 1787 provided for certain institutional impediments to the demands of the majority but that ultimately the will of the people could not be stopped. As such, he argued that the virtue of the citizens was the primary bulwark against the usurpation of freedom. But a common consensus about virtue (and about freedom) implies a common underlying culture that consists of more than demands for individual rights. If the sole purpose of human existence is to liberate every desire, same-sex marriage is clearly a good thing so long as it is desired. If, on the other hand, there are ends and means proper to human persons and we are obligated to conform our actions to these norms, then same-sex marriage may not be within the realm of that which is morally good for human persons. It’s a question of culture that, as these questions do, goes to the heart of what it means to be a human. It is a question that cannot adequately be answered by recurring simply to competing rights claims.

Madison could imagine a national community united by a robust conception of virtue. As we have grown larger and more diverse in our thinking, that is no longer the case (if it ever was). We may generally agree on abstractions such as equality and individual rights but that is not enough to form a coherent community. So we are left with an incoherent national community (did such a thing ever exist?) and the possibility of more or less coherent communities of a smaller scale and even these will be difficult to maintain, for we all drink deeply from the fount of a popular culture where the liberation of desire is the first fundamental of the faith.

If he is saying that the National Government should be responsible for promoting a culture of virtue, then how is this National Government to be brought into existence? While one may find supporters for the virtue in certain parts of the country, representatives from other parts of the country would oppose these virtues, or at least supporting them through law, in the name of public agnosticism regarding what is good.

Ted V. McAllister, The Romance of Conservatism
Zenit: On Paul VI's Marian Devotion
"He Placed his Priesthood Under the Protection of the Mother of Jesus"