Senate Punts on Obama Trade Deals. The people Lose Again.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

The United States Senate once again abrogated its responsibilities in favor of letting the Prez do it.

This, my friends, is how we got the imperial presidency. Congress accedes its responsibility because the vote is too “hot” or, as in this case, the corporatist interests want the deal that’s being done.

The Senate gave up the right to amend the Prez’ trade deals and just let him, you know, Rule.

Who’s the loser in all this? Why, you and me, of course. When the Rs and the Ds get together on their corporatism, we always end up in the dirt.

We might all stand on the West Coast and wave our jobs good-bye.

From the Huffington Post:

WASHINGTON — The Senate advanced President Barack Obama’s trade agenda Thursday, voting to end debate on bill that would grant the administration power to fast-track massive new pacts through Congress.

A number of senators objected to the process, complaining that they were unable to get votes on amendments they deemed essential to making sure that looming deals with 12 Pacific Rim nations and Europe live up to promises of helping U.S. workers.

But 62 of their colleagues disagreed and voted to halt debate anyway, setting up passage of the fast-track bill by the end of the week.

… Fast track, formally known as Trade Promotion Authority, would allow the president to cut trade agreements with other nations, then advance them through Congress with expedited procedures that allow no amendments, filibusters or delays, guaranteeing him simple majority votes.

 

 

Today, Right Wing Nut Catholic Bashers Attack the Church

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Russ https://www.flickr.com/photos/89119745@N00/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Russ https://www.flickr.com/photos/89119745@N00/

Yesterday, we were informed by left wing nut Catholic bashers that the Catholic Church Will Now Forgive Your Abortion. 

This was described as a departure from the bad old days when the Catholic Church didn’t forgive such sins. It was credited to Pope Francis and his efforts to make the Church more “relevant.”

“Relevant” as it used to describe the Catholic Church by left wing nut Church bashers, means that the Church is going to get with it and join the trendy new zeitgeist in canceling out personal responsibility before God. We can have our god, they tell us, but in order for him to relevant (to them) he must conform to them. Ie, our big G God Who makes the rules, must become their little g god who follows the teachings of the whats happenin’ now.

Presumably, when what’s happenin’ changes to some other trope, our newly minted idol will follow course. That shouldn’t be much of a stretch, since the little g god they want truly is an idol of their own making. We can change what little g gods expect of us because little g gods are us.

That was yesterday.

Now comes the right wing nut Catholic bashers and their lying, smearing attack on the Church.

The folks over at Western Journalism evidently decided that yesterday was the day for them to repeat the slander that the Catholic Church has Gone Socialist. They spread rancid hate butter on this wormy bread in their lead paragraph by saying that Pope Francis is — you know I’m gonna say it — a “Marxist.”

If that isn’t purple enough, they add that “the Roman Catholic Church has joined the campaign for a global socialist state that could turn into an anti-Christian tyranny.”

This isn’t bias. It’s Looneytoons without the laughs.

The “evidence” for these bizarre lies?

Well, Pope Francis has met with Raul Castro and “other Marxists.” The article claims that this meeting with sinners is “a new Catholic scandal as significant and terrifying as the presence of pedophiles in the church.” It questions “how conservative Catholics can continue to pay respect to a pope intent on making friends with the enemies of religious liberty.”

Then, it gets to the real motive for this Catholic bashing. Pope Francis is writing about climate change or the environment and he speaks out for the poor.

You know, like somebody else Who once said, “Blessed are the poor,” and “If you do it to the least of these, you have done it to me.” That guy.

As for the Pope’s concern about the environment, give it a rest folks. Remember Somebody Else once told us, all of us, that we had “dominion” over the earth.

I don’t believe that grant of dominion said anything about rape the earth, pillage its resources by slave labor, concentrate wealth in a few hands and impoverish everyone else, destroy every animal that walks the planet except for those you keep as pets, make the air unbreathable and the water undrinkable, all for the almighty profit of multinational corporations who dominate governments to the detriment of their citizens around the globe.

St John Paul II spoke of corporatism as a great evil that destroys human dignity and human life. Pope Benedict XVI did the same. Both popes also spoke of the threats to the environment.

So far as I can remember, the Beatitudes and Jesus’ words about the judgement have not been removed from any Bibles. True, they are thoroughly ignored by fallen clergy who, like their left-wing brethren who bow down before the D, prostrate themselves before the R.

But if you follow Jesus Christ, as opposed to puppet political jesus, you’ve got to know that Pope Francis is right on in what he’s doing, just as St John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI were right on.

As for Pope Francis meeting with sinners, well folks, that’s what people who want to convert the world have to do. I’ve got a big news flash for you: It’s very possible that Mr Castro, who’s talking publicly about converting, may end up entering heaven while the self-righteous, Church-bashers behind this article stand outside.

I’m getting that notion from the same big G God Who said Blessed are the poor and if you have done it to the least of these you have done it to Me. He’s the One Who told the fallen priests and sold-out officials of His day that prostitutes and tax collectors would enter the Kingdom of Heaven before them.

These slimy Church-Catholic-Christian bashers, both of the left and the right, need to get wise. Their false gods of abortion, gay marriage, euthanasia, corporatism won’t save them on the Day of Reckoning. What are they going to do when they stand before the Living God and face the fact that they used their time and their talents to drive people away from Christ? How much worse for those who committed this terrible sin in order to make money, promote themselves and bow down to the R and the D, or, to the corporatist empires who pay them?

People who write this tripe do not need to be attacked. They need to be pitied. No matter how much money and fame they garner by attacking Christians, Christianity and the Catholic Church, they are laying up dross for themselves in eternity.

They need our prayers.

What they should not get is our followership.

Christians who abandon Christ to follow after these false prophets of false gods of the left and the right are leaving the Way and going down the path to perdition behind them.

Follow the Pope. Stay with the Catholic Church. And do what Jesus tells you to do.

Anything else is the wrong path.

From Western Journalism:

Since we published our article, “Catholic Church Captured by ‘Progressive Forces,’” it is starting to dawn on many in and out of the media that Pope Francis has come down on the side of the “progressive,” and even Marxist, forces in the world today.

Writing on TheBlaze and commenting on the pope’s friendly meeting with Cuban dictator Raul Castro, Catholic writer Stephen Herreid of the Intercollegiate Review called the pope’s dealings with Castro and other Marxists “a new Catholic scandal” as significant and terrifying as the presence of pedophiles in the church. He wonders how conservative Catholics can continue to pay respect to a pope “intent on making friends with the enemies of religious liberty.”

Gay Marriage Activists are Kinda Making My Point

Indiana Govenor Mike Pence. Photo Source: Wikimedia, by Gage Skidmore

Indiana Govenor Mike Pence. Photo Source: Wikimedia, by Gage Skidmore

I wrote a post a couple of days ago in which I asked the question Are Gay Marriage Activists Too Needy to Take Yes for an Answer?

The combox response was immediate and vociferous. Before I could say “wedding cake,” the discussion had abandoned the matter of political exigencies, as well as the weighty Constitutional questions involved, to become a discussion about whether or not gay people are people (yes) and what causes homosexuality (as of today, unknown, but I’m personally betting on a combination of causes both genetic and social, along with unique personal vulnerabilities.)

It seems that nobody is willing to deal with the real issues involved in the media drubbing of Indiana in favor of the use of government force against a long-held and time-honored religious belief that spans the millennia, circles the globe and directly challenges the freedom of religion of fully 70% of the American electorate. Likewise, nobody wants to discuss at all — and I mean at all – the vicious corporatism involved in corporate heads directly and effectively dictating the actions of governors, as Wal Mart did in Arkansas, or as many other corporations are trying to do with Indiana.

Nobody asks what, pray tell, does a corporate boycott of a state mean? Is Apple planning to close its Apple stores in Indiana? Is it planning to refuse downloads from the app store to Indianians? If it tries this, will it be legal? Corporations are certainly allowed to sell their products where they will, but are they allowed to use the sale of their products as direct political blackmail of elected officials? Are cell phone companies allowed to refuse service, are corporate hospitals allowed to refuse treatment, to citizens whose elected officials vote in ways that offend the plastic sensibilities of corporate heads?

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson Photo Source: Wikimedia, public domain

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson Photo Source: Wikimedia, public domain

How far have we gone down the road toward corporate fascism, otherwise known as corporatism, when these businesses feel no temerity whatsoever in using their clout to dictate public policy in this manner?

None of this is a surprise to me. I’ve seen the Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce shove people around like garden variety thugs for a long time now. I’ve seen the corruptions of legislation written by corporate thinkers and passed by a toady legislature to the detriment of the people. I’ve seen a legislature and a governor that flat-out refused to provide storm shelters for school children in this most tornado-bound of states because the Chamber of Commerce wanted to repeal the tax that would have funded it.

So I’m not surprised at all to see the corporate leaders decide to flex their muscle on a national scale to bring errant elected officials to heel. And I’m also not surprised to see those elected official tug their forelocks, bow from the waist and perform as ordered.

Both political parties have their corruptions. I’m going to write Monday about a corruption coming from the Democratic White House. But the Republicans are corporatist puppets first, and everything else, including pro life, pro family, pro second amendment, and pro religious freedom, second. These things we care about are campaign slogans to them in exactly the same way that “getting America working again” is a campaign slogan for the Democrats.

Elect a majority Republican governing body and what do you get? Corporatism.

Elect a majority Democratic governing body and what do you get? It appears that what you get, at least from the White House, is abortion and gay rights thinking points, mainlined into the body politic.

In the meantime, nobody’s going back to work. Nobody’s children are any safer from the next big tornado. Nobody is living fat except the people who bought and own the government to the point that they are now going public with it and publicly instructing governors, as happened with the Governor of Arkansas, as to how to perform their office, and (get ready for this, now) the governor is doing what he’s told.

That’s one aspect of this sorry mess.

The other aspect is the outrageous shark-jumping on the part of gay marriage advocates. They’ve strained credulity repeatedly by equating their wedding cakes and flowers with the massive and singular violation of human rights that we call segregation. This is a bogus argument. (A statement that I’m sure will engender endless rounds of circular debate.)

The political exigency is that gay marriage advocates are endangering their still unsolidified victories in the sphere of gay marriage by seeking to conflate themselves with people who were slaves in this country for several hundred years, and who then were subjected to massive violations of their basic human rights by legal structures that clearly violated both the Constitution and the Gospels.

Gay people have their just claims about mistreatment as well, but the public mistreatment of homosexuals has pretty much fallen by the wayside. As it should have.

If they’re smart, they’ll take yes for an answer and let time resolve this debate about wedding cakes. If they’re stupid, they’ll keep on harassing and attacking hapless individuals and ruining their lives. They’ll pit themselves against basic freedoms that belong to everyone, including themselves.

This is stupid politically, because it raises up an opposition they have not dealt with before. That is those people who actually treasure freedom of religion in this country, irregardless of gay marriage.

It is also stupid because almost all gay people are down here the pits with the rest of us. Empowering corporations to attack the one voice capable of challenging their hegemony over our government and our way of life, which is the Church, is a little bit like arming the mob that wants to burn down your neighbor’s house because you don’t like your neighbor. How long before that same mob, armed with the weapons you gave them, will turn on you? When they do, your neighbor, who would have come to your aid, will be too weak to fight.

To get back to the post I put up earlier. I think that this combox avoidance of dealing with the reality of this present situation is telling. Ignoring the issues at hand to go  skittering down the worn-through debates of just how human gay people are, and what causes them to be gay in first place kinda makes my point. If that doesn’t make my point, then I offer the splendid display of emotional fireworks the post created.

It wasn’t a post attacking homosexual people. It was a post warning of the utter cold-bloodedness of politics. But the ire it wrought was entirely along the “how can you saaaayyyyy that about me?” line. The reason, I think, is that I accidentally hit a nerve. Neediness is at the bottom of a lot of this political sturm und drang. My advice to gay marriage advocates is to get your head out.

Politics is an uncaring bosom on which to lay your emotional head. Gay people are the same as straight people. Nothing will fill the holes inside their hearts except the love of God in Christ Jesus. Take those sorrows, rejections and self-questions to the cross.

Politics is a tool. Use it freely as any other American citizen should. But do not confuse it with your worth or your value as a child of God. There is only one affirmation any of us needs. Without it, no other affirmation will suffice. Go to the cross. And trust Him. Just, trust Him.

Jesus loves gay people as much as He loves any one else. He wants to enfold you in His mercy. He wants to lift your pain off you and set you free from the chains that bind you. Go to Him and trust Him.

As for politics, We the People need to get together against these overbearing corporatists while we still can. By that I mean all the people, both gay and straight.

 

6 Things I Hope the Synod on the Family Does That It Doesn’t Seem to be Doing Now

I had high hopes for the Synod on the Family.

I had hope that it would find ways for the Church to support and strengthen traditional marriage, that it would address the real problems of children of divorce who grow up with half their souls amputated by the constant roiling.

I had hope that it would take a look at ways to help people who are trying their best to follow Catholic teaching in a hostile world where one McJob won’t support a family, so both parents end up with with two or three jobs, leaving the children to raise themselves.

I had hope that the Synod would address the clanging juxtaposition of overprivileged kids in too-expensive Catholic schools staging walk-outs from their fine educations while inner city kids are forced to share textbooks and don’t even feel physically safe.

I had hope that the Synod would find ways to strengthen the family, not abandon and destroy it.

In truth, I not only had hopes for the Synod, I had trust in it. I believed in it and in the men who were participating in it. Now, I’m afraid of what they may do.

Here are 6 things I wish the Synod on the Family would consider that it doesn’t seem to be considering now.

 

Iu

1. Poverty and its deleterious effect on families. As I mentioned above, even here in America, poverty grinds families to bits. American children aren’t forced to scavenge in garbage dumps for food. But they spend most of their lives being raised by everything and everybody except their parents.

There is such a divide between the elites and the rest of this country that I honestly don’t think they know or believe what their policies are doing to ordinary people. Low wages and a stagnant economy caused by exporting our industrial base has led to the need for mothers and dads to work two or three jobs apiece, just to put a roof over their kids’ heads.

There’s no nanny or au pair for these kids. They end up raising themselves, and being raised by other kids and the second-rate schools they must attend. As soon as the law allows, they get McJobs of their own, often working long hours to help support the family. The resulting exhaustion often ends their education.

Too many of them opt out altogether. Their real family, their real parents, are the gangs and the other kids. They have no moorings to make decisions, so they fall into early and promiscuous sex, babies without dads, drugs and gangs.

That’s in America.

I’m sure it’s much worse — by powers of ten — in developing countries. After all, the reason our corporations shipped our industrial base overseas was to be in places where it could treat people any way it wanted.

Divorce among the working class and lower classes in America is a plague; as is shacking up and having kids out of wedlock.

It destroys families. And the destruction of families destroys lives.

Perhaps the Synod should look at what it can do to help Catholics who want to have families and raise them well but are crippled by poverty that makes living out their vocation a desperate and losing fight. How can the Church support families in the face of poverty and corporatism? I wish they’d look at that.

Catholics praying

2. How the Church can actually teach its teachings to the people in the pews. Re-writing the Gospels to fit the times is not the correct pastoral answer. The correct pastoral answer is to take a look at why the Bishops have been such abysmal failures at teaching Church teaching.The arguments these men are having now are a direct result of their failure to teach in the past.

The Church leadership has gotten soft and disengaged. It has lost its missionary fervor. Its operating ethos is build-a-church-building-then-wait-for-the-parishioners-to-come. Follow that by preaching fine homilies that are nonetheless removed from the fact that ordinary pew-sitting Catholics are out there without ammunition or support on the front lines of a cultural war.

I don’t think that Catholic clergy really “get” what the Catholic laity is facing every single day. I don’t believe they understand the many social martyrdoms that many devout Catholics endure.

My hope is that the Synod could address this failure as it applies to the family and actually talk about how to help Catholic laity be the Light of the World that Jesus calls them to be.

148 1080x675

3. Stop speaking in indirections and obscure language. I would love to see our religious leaders take the marbles out of their mouths and actually communicate in a straightforward manner. The flap over the relatio is a case in point.

I’ve heard comments that people are “stupid” for not understanding that the document is just basically minutes of the previous meetings and nothing official. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my dealings with the public, it’s that if you say it, and they don’t get it, it’s on you to fix that. Leadership is mostly a matter of being understood.

This inability to speak in simple declarative sentences may be a large part of why the bishops have failed so disastrously these past decades in their job as teachers of the faith. If I could make one reform of Catholic clergy it would be to teach them to talk to people about the faith from the heart.

03 600x400

4. Bring Catholic education back in line with Catholic belief, and provide it to the poor. Catholic education is losing its Catholic savor. It is also more and more the inaccessible privilege of the privileged. It smacks of hypocrisy to preach about “the poor” while shutting the doors to a good Catholic education in the “the poor’s” faces.

Catholic families of every social strata need the Church’s help in raising their children to be Catholic. If Catholic schools fail in this mission — and many of them are demonstrably failing horribly — then what are parents to do? By the same token, if access to a Catholic education is denied to parishioners who are trapped in the McJob syndrome, that will only quicken and deepen the destruction of their children.

Teen drug abuse

5. Address the plague of drug addiction that destroys our families. Drug addiction destroys the personalities of the people who suffer from it, and it also destroys the homes and happiness of everyone they love. It is a plague that is filling up prisons, destroying families, leaving children damaged and too bereft to become functioning adults, and hollowing out whole societies.

It leads to corruption and massive violence on a governmental scale. If the Synod wants to help families, it needs to discuss ways the Church can aid them in their anguished fight against drug addiction.

Bishop3

6. Talk about Jesus, not one another. The priesthood is not supposed to be all about the priests. From the sex abuse scandal to some of the things I’m hearing from this Synod, the trouble stems, not from a lack of leadership, but a lack of followership.

Many of our religious leaders seem to think that their world is the whole world and that they have no need for the humble reliance on Christ that is the mark of true Christians the world over. My hope for this Synod is that its participants will follow Christ, and not each other. My number one wish is that our religious leadership would preach Christ. If they would do that, everything else would follow.

Pope Francis: Inequality Between Rich and Poor Threatens Democracy

 

YouTube Preview Image

The Skunk Stinks.

Who needs this?

Who is it going to be used against?

Those are the questions that the Skunk brings to mind. I’m not talking about a beautiful little animal with that possesses a massive olfactory defense system. I am talking about a drone that possesses a massive offense system, and that has been developed and is being marketed for use against civilians by corporations.

The Skunk is, as I said, a drone that is designed for what is euphemistically being called “riot control.” It possesses the ability to monitor people and then fire pepper spray and rubber bullets at them. What no one mentions is that a drone that can fire pepper spray and rubber bullets can also fire any other type of spray as well as bullets made of lead.

It turns out that the corporatist interests in South Africa plan to put the aptly named Skunk to work, protecting their mines. The first 25 Skunks will be delivered to the African mining industry this month. It was developed by a South African company named Desert Wolf.

If all this sounds like a comic book to you, I’m with you. This company is seriously named Desert Wolf???

And they developed a weapon to be used by corporations to protect their interests called the Skunk???

It would be funny, except there’s nothing funny about the potential of the Skunk. It is a drone designed to monitor and attack civilians and it is being marketed to corporations in troubled parts of the world for their private use. Frankly, this device does not belong in civilian hands. It certainly does not belong in the hands of corporatist interests. I’ve had enough dealings with corporatists in the political arena to be convinced that respect for human life, human dignity or just plain human beings is not in them.

They’d kill grandma for a quarter and claim it was free enterprise and capitalism. Then, they’d call grandma’s relatives who objected a bunch of radicals and commies.

Corporatists are down there in the moral swamp with abortionists and human traffickers. They give a whole new dimension to the word “amoral.”

The idea of corporatists with fully armed Skunks and free reign to use them is chilling.

From The Blaze:

Los Angeles hockey fans proved last week that even the friendliest of drones can get a nasty reception from rowdy crowds. But the booze-fueled celebrants may have reacted even more violently if they encountered this drone.

The Skunk is billed as the first riot-control drone: It fires pepper spray, rubber bullets and dye-balls at protesters; blinds them with strobes; and broadcasts audible warnings, all while keeping its all-seeing eye trained on the crowd and recording their actions.

The octocopter is a product of the South African company Desert Wolf. Armed with four paintball guns and ammunition hoppers, it can fire a variety of ammunition to subdue or disperse unruly crowds, or simply mark certain people in the group.

The Skunk is designed to control crowds without endangering the lives of security staff. Bright strobe lights, on-board speakers and “blinding lasers,” the company boasts, enable operators to communicate with and warn the crowd.

But if they don’t respond, look out.

“The Skunk is equipped with four high-capacity paint ball barrels firing at up to 20 bullets per second each, with 80 pepper bullets per second stopping any crowd in its tracks,” Desert Wolf says on its site. “The current hopper capacity of 4000 bullets and high-pressure carbon fiber air system it allows for real stopping power.”

According to Defence Web, payload capacity of the unmanned aerial vehicle is roughly 88 pounds but since the gun assembly weighs just over 30 pounds, the aircraft has an excess of power. And Desert Wolf has found its first customer for the intimidating machine: South African mine owners, hoping to control crowds of workers.

Evangelii Gaudium Cliff Notes Part 2: The Beam in My Eye

 

And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. 

Jesus Christ

Pope Francis is calling all of us to take up what Protestants call the Great Commission.

That is the direct command from Our Lord to Go and make disciples of all nations. The Holy Father is teaching in exactly the same way Jesus taught by advising us to cleanse ourselves of our own sins before we head off diagnosing the sins of other people.

This is an call to evangelize the world, but like the good pastor that he is, Pope Francis calls us first to evangelize our own hearts through genuine conversion to Christ. Evangelii Gaudium is a convicting document. If you read it with an honest and open heart, it will convict you of the need to change your ways.

No one is more prey to the error of condemning others while wrapping themselves in a cloak of self-righteousness than politicians and bloggers. It is an occupational hazard.

Since I am a politician blogger, I get a double dose of the temptation to become a bargain-basement Pharisee. Blogging at the intersection of faith and politics is a location fraught with all sorts of annoyances and frustrations. It’s easy to lose track of the love and desire to do good that brought me here in the first place.

Evanglii Gaudium reminded me that the joy of Gospel, the freedom of the Gospel, the absolute certainty that everything I do matters to God, belongs to me. It is a free gift from a God Who loves me so much that He was willing to suffer the extremities of humiliation, public torture and a hideous death to give it to me.

When I focus on protecting my petty little sins, I toss those joys to the ground and turn to the bitterness and alienation of the lost people I claim I want to help.

That, in the final analysis, is the price for clinging to your precious little sins: Anger, bitterness, self-righteousness. The fruits of the Spirit, which are love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control, are all lost to us and replaced by an angry obsession with what is wrong with other people.

As those of us in the West move more deeply into a post-Christian world, we are going to find that the only thing that sustains us is the Spirit, and that our call to follow Christ will either be sustained by these gifts of the Spirit, or it will fail.

The second chapter of Evangelii Gaudium is a call to personal housecleaning. It is a diagnosis of how we have cast ourselves out of the garden all over again by biting into the bitter fruit of our own cherished sins.

Since Evangelii Gaudium is a call to the whole Church to evangelize the whole world, it focuses its diagnosis of sin on the corporate sins we commit against one another as part of groups. The Pope doesn’t go over the obvious. He doesn’t remind us of what we should very well know: That when we live our lives built on the cheats of greed, lies of adultery and the brutality of murder we are not God’s people and if we do not repent, we will not go to heaven.

He focuses instead on what the political power brokers and money changers of our times don’t want us to see. That is the vast corporate and social ways in which we commit these same private sins and the enormous price in human suffering that this behavior exacts on so many of the 7 billion people living on this planet today.

A few paragraphs in this second chapter of Evangelii Gaudium have raised the ire of the corporatist apologizers in the media. Most of this particular group has spoken out against abortion down through the years, along with gay marriage. They have not been so eager to condemn other forms of killing, ranging from embryonic stem cell research to wars of conquest, and, as has been revealed from time to time, many of them do not practice a private sexual morality that matches their public statements.

This has confused many good Christians who’ve been taught — by fallen clergy and these same corporatist apologizers — that economics is entirely outside the reach of the Gospels. They have exempted themselves from the piercing eye of Gospel teachings in matters of money, and a lot of good Christians have bought this deal because these same people condemn abortion.

But the same Jesus Who taught that every life is valuable to God sent the young rich man away and said, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.

It was Christ the Lord who drove the money changers out of the temple.

I would imagine that what some of these people are saying about Pope Francis would look mild and mannerly compared to what they might say about Our Lord.

Pope Francis is asking us to stop putting fetters on the Gospel and accept it in all its demanding power. He is asking us to throw off our chains of political fealty and approval seeking and step out on the ice and live the teachings of Christ as the transforming, Kingdom building powerhouse that they are.

Part of this is his condemnation of what he calls “the new idolatry of money.” The pope calls us directly and explicitly to work for economic systems that are based on the good of human beings.

Despite the media focus on these few paragraphs, they are a small part of the message of Evangelii Gaudium, and economic sins are just a few of the things the pope addresses.

He speaks eloquently about the challenges Christians face concerning Christian persecution (emphasis mine):

We also evangelize when we attempt to confront … the attacks on religious freedom and new persecutions directed against Christians; in some countries these have reached alarming levels of hatred and violence. In many places, the problem is more that of widespread indifference and relativism, linked to disillusionment and the crisis of ideology which has come about as a reaction to anything which might appear totalitarian.

The process of secularization tends to reduce the faith and the Church to the sphere of the private and personal … completely rejecting the transcendent. It has produced a growing deterioration of ethics, a weakening of the sense of personal and collective sin and a steady increase in relativism.

… As the bishops of the United States of America have rightfully point out, while the Church insists on the existence of objective moral norms which are valid of everyone, “there are those in our culture who portray these teachings as unjust, that is, as opposed to basic human rights … the Church is perceived as promoting a particular prejudice and as interfering with individual freedom.”

the negative aspect of the media and entertainment industries are threatening traditional values, and in particular the sacredness of marriage and the stability of the family.

Evangelii Gaudium takes an uncompromising position in support of the sanctity of marriage.

The family is experiencing a profound cultural crisis, as are all communities and social bonds. The family … is the fundamental cell of society. Marriage now tends to be viewed as a form of mere emotional satisfaction that can be constructed in any way or modified at will.

There is much more in this second chapter of Evangelii Gaudium. But I hope that you are getting the message. The document itself is a call to evangelize the world. The much-picked-over paragraphs about money are a small part of the message of the second chapter of the document.

The second chapter deals with the areas where we need to give ourselves, both as individuals and as a Church, a spiritual house cleaning. Money is a part of this. If economics have no moral requirements, then Jesus Christ Himself was a fraud, because that is certainly not what He taught.

People who attack the Pope for saying what has been Church teaching for two-thousand years and who try to subvert him when he challenges us to give up our greed and venality about money, are attacking the Gospels themselves.

But the primary injustice they are committing by focusing on these few paragraphs is that they are depriving the people of God of the convicting power of this document. If all you know about Evangelii Gaudium is what you’ve read in the press, then you know nothing about it all.

Evangelii Gaudium is a treatise on the New Evanglization. The second chapter of Evangelii Gaudium is a treatise on some of our most glaring social and personal sins. The Holy Father focused this second chapter on the sins that, as he says, damage or even destroy the ability of the Church and individual Christians to effectively evangelize the world.

He is calling us to reclaim for ourselves the joy of the Gospel by yielding up all our precious sins to the teaching, transforming power of the Gospels. He is calling us to conversion, to walk the walk of our Christian faith in the real world.

Powerful people hated this message two-thousand years ago. Powerful people hate it today.

Part of our job as Christians is to ignore them and follow our Christ. The teachings in Evanglii Gaudium help us do that.

 

 

To read part one in this series, go here.

 

My Take — Not Pope Francis’ — On a Christian Approach to Economics and Government

 

I’ve been the voice of a large number of people in government for 18 years.

During those years, I have voted many times on economic issues. I have a couple of beliefs about government that inform those votes — as well as the others I cast.

1. I am the voice of the people I represent. I must put their interests ahead of all others. At the same time, I feel that their interests are always best served by a just and stable government, because

2. A just and stable government is always the greater good. Look around the world and you will see the human suffering and death the comes from unjust and unstable governments. My constituents deserve a representative who works toward a just and stable government, because that one thing will predicate for better lives for them, all by itself.

3. Government should serve the people, not itself and not special interests. Most elected officials today are beamed into office on a beam of special interest money. These elected officials, represent the special interests who paid for their elections and put them in office. Even though this is legal, it is corrupt. It is also diametrically opposed to the premise I stated: Government is meant to serve the people, not special interests.

These are the parameters I use to decide how I vote. I have a master’s degree in business management, which means that while I am not deeply educated in economics, I do have a passing acquaintance with how economics works in real life. Despite that, I do not place any economic theory at the head of my list in how I vote on issues, including economic issues.

The reason for this is that I consider all economic theories to be tools that are useful so long as they work for the good of the people. They are not a holy grail and they should never be put ahead of the greater good of a just and stable government.

I also believe that Capitalism, as well as all other economic systems, is amoral. Not, notice, immoral. It is an economic system, not a moral system. As such, it stands behind the Gospels and the teachings of the Church in my considerations. I don’t judge the Gospels or the teachings of the Catholic Church by economic theories. I judge economic theories by the Gospels and the teachings of the Catholic Church.

That leaves a lot of room for individual ideas and understanding about economic issues. The teachings of the Church are not a 1, 2, 3 blueprint that we must follow as we craft our solutions to the economic problems that beset us. They are rules about what we should place first in our considerations. The teachings of the Church tell us how to get to heaven.  Their first rule about economics is that if we want to go to heaven we should put the good of people, of human beings who are made in the image and likeness of God, in first place.

That will not lead us to the same conclusions. On the contrary, it opens the way for fruitful discussion and creative thinking. Two good people who are both committed to Christ and who both are trying their best to do the right thing can look at the same situation and come up with diametrically opposed ways of dealing with it. That does not make either one of them wrong. It also does not make either one of them evil. It makes both of them human.

I believe that the best solutions in government and in life come about when we remember this and listen to one another respectfully and try to find a middle way between our competing ideas. I can change my mind, and if you can change your mind, we can learn from one another and come up with solutions that are far better than either one of us would find on our own.

The thing that is lacking in our current debate on almost every issue, including economics, is a mutual commitment to the common good rather than the good of whatever viewpoint or special interest we are espousing. The thing that is lacking in the economic theorizing of some Christians is a proper reverence for Jesus Christ as Our Lord.

There are Christians, both on the left and the right, who have left the Gospels and made a false god of this or that economic theory. Instead of judging their economic ideas by the Gospel, they are judging the Gospel by their economic theory. Many of them (again, on both the left and the right) have cherry-picked the Scriptures to find verses and admonitions which they then use to deify their ideas. This is idolatry. It is also heresy.

Put Jesus back on the throne and look at your politics as one way you live out your call to follow Him. Do the same with your ideas about economics. If people would do that, we’d find solutions to all our problems and get this nation back on track. If they don’t, we are going to continue our spiral down.

To get back to me, if you look at my votes, I think you will see that I am basically an Oklahoma populist in matters of economics.

I believe that capitalism is the best economic system people have come up with so far. However, I don’t think that capitalism, as some people who get worked up about it see it, exists outside of a few on-line chat rooms and the definitions of economic systems in intellectually shallow textbooks. It’s a bit like absolute vacuum; a good working construct that does not exist outside of theory.

Capitalism as it is practiced in America — and in any working government that I know of — is a hodgepodge of competing interests, each of which is trying to use the government to gain an advantage over their competitors. I think that most people believe that legislative bodies spend their days debating great questions of human life such as abortion or gay marriage or some such.

What we do in real life is spend most of our time passing laws for business interests that allow them to gain an advantage over their competitors. Almost all the “pro business” legislation that I have seen in the past 18 years was of this type. Likewise, the tax cuts that I have voted against in the past few years were all weighted to give tax cuts to the people at the top of the column and not those at the bottom.

I would have voted for most of these bills if the people I represent had actually gotten a tax cut from them. However, they did not. That has been true of tax cuts at the federal level, as well.

How does that jibe with my idea that a just and stable government is always the greater good? First of all, tax cuts that only favor those at the top are unjust by definition. I also do not believe that they are good economics.

There are a couple of economic theories, both of which are capitalist in origin, about how to generate growth in an economy with tax cuts. One, which I do not subscribe to, is that if you enrich the small segment at the top of the economic ladder, their wealth will “trickle down” to those below. (I am aware that the trickle down theory applies to far more than tax cuts.) The other is that if you put money in the pockets of those in the working and middle classes, they will buy more goods and generate growth through their purchasing power.

I am personally persuaded that, in terms of economic growth and taxes, many people at the bottom end of the working class have become so close to subsistence level that they place any extra monies on survival items such as getting their utilities current or fixing the broken window in their car.

What I am saying, (and this is a frightening prospect in economic terms) is that a large section of the working class of our economy, who are gainfully employed, many times working several jobs, is verging on being unable to generate growth of the larger economy because they are too poor. That, in itself, is an indictment of our economic policies of the past few decades.

So far as generating economic growth with tax cuts is concerned, my personal feeling is that the most economic stimulus will come if the tax cut benefits the people in the middle class and the upper working class. Sad to say, the lower working class is verging toward the unemployed in that they need assistance to survive and as such don’t generate much growth with their purchasing power.

Given all that, I guess you could say that I am a bit of a trickle up person in my economic beliefs.

This goes back to my ideas about a Christian approach to economics. It also broadens the discussion beyond the question of tax cuts. I think that a Christian approach to economics has to be based on the same premise as the one I use to make decisions about the sanctity of human life. Those decisions are based on the idea that people are more important than any other consideration.

Government exists for people. Economics exists for people.

Government and economics (you cannot have modern economics without government) exist to serve the people. As such, a respect for the rights of private property is a basic delimiter of good government. People need and want their own things about them. They need homes that are theirs and a place in the world that belongs to them.

The means of making a living, be that a computer, a car, a sewing machine or an 18-wheeler, are a form of private property that people should also have. When those means become factories and patents and vast corporate enterprises, the same rules of private property that apply to individuals also apply to them.

But when this basic right to private property becomes a means of depriving vast numbers of people of their own homes and their own ability to make a living, then it has to be moderated by regulation and tax structures that provide a hope and a future to everyone. I am not talking about attacking capitalism. I am talking about a more level playing field that allows everyone to be a capitalist.

Capitalism, when it becomes a vast corporate hegemony that is linked to the power of government that works at its behest, is no longer capitalism. It is fascism. Look it up in your economics 101 text book.

Capitalism that has morphed into corporate fascism, which is the wedding of government and corporate power so that government no longer serves the people, must be dealt with as the unhealthy thing that it is. There is no place in a just and stable government for corporate fascism.

This has nothing to do with free markets or the right to private property. It is the antithesis of them, since it concentrates the entire mechanism for earning a living and all the wealth of a society, as well as the power of government, in a few hands.

I think government should serve the people. I think that a just and stable government is always the greater good.

Corporate fascism, or as Popes Benedict XVI and John Paul II called it, “corporatism,” does not do these things. It serves the corporations and it tends toward instability in government. It is unjust by definition.

These are the parameters I use for trying to apply economics in a Christian way. I am writing this so that those of you who feel so strongly about these issues can tear into me, instead of the Pope. I can’t abide people attacking Pope Francis on this blog. But you can go at me and it doesn’t upset me so much.

Have at it friends.

Pope Francis Discusses the Dignity of Work

 

In one of his morning homilies a few months ago, Pope Francis talked about societies that put company profits above human dignity, or even human life. “What point have we come to?” he asked.

This kind of talk disturbs cafeteria Christians on the right, just as the Church’s insistence on the fundamental right to life of all human beings and the sanctity of Holy Matrimony disturbs cafeteria Christians on the left.

Each “side” of the culture wars wants the Holy Father to affirm them and their half-Gospel as righteousness so that they can use what would amount to an amputated, phony Jesus to score “gotcha!” points off those on the other side of the various political debates.

But Pope Francis is the Vicar of Christ, not the apologist for the false idols of various religious/political heresies.

Jesus was a worker. A carpenter. By doing that, He elevated work far above the animalistic fight for survival that those in power often try to make it into for working people.

Human beings are made in the image and likeness of Almighty God. As such, we each have a transcendent dignity that extends beyond this life and into eternity. The things we do here, including the work of our heads, hands and hearts, is an expression of that innate, God-given dignity.

All people are entitled to the privileges of owning private property and to have the labor of their lives respected. Part of that respect is a living wage and decent working conditions. When these values are compromised by a moneyed few who mis-use the powers of government to seize the treasure of a nation to satisfy their personal rapaciousness, then those who govern must oppose those actions.

Elected officials who do otherwise may profess Christ with their mouths, but they deny Him by what they do.

YouTube Preview Image


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X