Another Place I Trust Christ’s Promise to Guide the Church

Another Place I Trust Christ’s Promise to Guide the Church August 9, 2013

…is when the Holy Father speaks to the incredibly sensitive and sacred issue of that thing we all keep in our pants.

I refer, of course, to our wallets.

A reader writes:

In Which our Socialist Pope Spews Socialism

If by socialist, one means beloved, and by spews, one means reiterates, and by socialism, one means the social doctrine. My pastor quoted the following in the bulletin from this past weekend; the whole thing is worth the read, of course:

“This includes, first and foremost, respect for the truth of man, who is not simply an additional economic factor, or a disposable good, but is equipped with a nature and a dignity that cannot be reduced to simple economic calculus. Therefore concern for the fundamental material and spiritual welfare of every human person is the starting-point for every political and economic solution and the ultimate measure of its effectiveness and its ethical validity.

Moreover, the goal of economics and politics is to serve humanity, beginning with the poorest and most vulnerable wherever they may be, even in their mothers’ wombs. Every economic and political theory or action must set about providing each inhabitant of the planet with the minimum wherewithal to live in dignity and freedom, with the possibility of supporting a family, educating children, praising God and developing one’s own human potential. This is the main thing; in the absence of such a vision, all economic activity is meaningless.In this sense, the various grave economic and political challenges facing today’s world require a courageous change of attitude that will restore to the end (the human person) and to the means (economics and politics) their proper place. Money and other political and economic means must serve, not rule, bearing in mind that, in a seemingly paradoxical way, free and disinterested solidarity is the key to the smooth functioning of the global economy.”

Kirk, ultimately a Catholic, admonished the thinking conservative to avoid “[t]hose who instruct us that ‘the test of the market’ is the whole of political economy and of morals.” It seems that neither the thinking conservative nor the pope will find much of a welcome in the modern American right. Thank God for our pope!

There are hopeful signs of attempts to move past the sheer braindeadness of the Right, if Ross Douthat is heeded. But there’s a lot of brain death to repair. Any conservatism that could nominate a Mitt Romney and a Catholic who thinks that Ayn Rand is a genius (and generate a legion of Catholics online to fly cover for Rand’s God-hating contempt for the weak) is a desperately sick conservatism with nothing like a Catholic conception of the common good. I think again of Dale Ahlquist’s wonderful little piece on The Trouble with Catholic Social Teaching.

Money was made for man, not man for money.

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  • Socialism is evil. By associating Catholic social doctrine with it, even in a backhanded, joking way, you set its cause back and wake up those political antibodies who have dedicated themselves to fight socialism to strengthen their impulse to attack what is not socialism in a sort of political autoimmune disorder response.

    The Papacy, including Pope Francis, understands the distinction between Catholic Social Doctrine and Socialism in its many varieties. It would be better if we all kept that distinction throughout the body of Christ.

    • HornOrSilk

      On the other hand, you will have Pope Benedict and others acknowledge elements of Marx’s thought as important, even if Marx as a whole is to be rejected. This absolutism of “all or nothing” is not Catholic. The American “conservative” ideology which dismisses anything which is connected to “socialism” is erroneous (just like a dismissal of anything associated with capitalism would be). Both capitalism and socialism fail, but both have elements of truth which cannot be denied. The problem we see is the absolutism which thinks we can’t acknowledge anything which socialism gets right.

      • Yes, if a socialist says that the sun rises in the east, just like every other sane person, it is foolish to reject the idea because a socialist says it. But that’s neither what I am talking about, nor is it what the original writer did.

        Catholic social thought both predates socialism and is the better theory. By broad convention, you credit the innovator as the original and the follow up idea as the imitator. Much of what is right about socialism is imitation of Catholic and other christian social thought. It is wrong for the right to mistake the one for the other but the post is strengthening the association, not weakening it. That will not have a positive effect, unless you consider enraging righties into further slandering and libeling the Church is a positive goal.

  • Dave G.

    So let me get this straight. A conservatism that would support Paul Ryan is sick. Yet a Catholicism that would vote for Ron Paul, who also spoke of Rand and famously criticized Ryan’s economic plan for not going far enough, is OK? Politics. Egad.

    • wlinden

      I have never gotten the impression that Mark is a fan of Ron Paul.

      • Dave G.

        In case you don’t know, he voted for him. Or are you joking?

        • chezami

          Meh. He didn’t advocate grave intrinsic evil. Good enough for me. You place vastly more significance on a presidential vote than I do.

          • Dave G.

            You mentioned Ryan’s Randian approach to economics, one shared by Paul, except for Paul’s criticisms of Ryan for not going far enough. Based on that issue, there’s reason to question how those Catholics are so wrong for supporting Ryan but OK if they support Paul.

            • chezami

              I criticized Paul’s devotion to Rand too. Paul, however, is not a Catholic. Ryan is. To whom much is given, much will be required. The reason Catholic were wrong for supporting Romney Ryan is that they advocated grave intrinsic evil. Paul didn’t. So he met the bare minimum standard of human decency. That’s not exactly starry eyed messianic adoration.

              • Elmwood

                Paul Ryan supports homosexual adoption, abortion under Romney, trickle down economics, spending vast resources on the military industrial complex, and Ayn Randism, not to mention being a fitness fanatic.

                Ron Paul does support Randism/trickle down economics like Ryan but other than that, is better.

                • Dave G.

                  A fitness fanatic? You just lost me. You just as good as said ‘how can I find things wrong with Ryan’ with that one. Up until that point, fair enough. But fitness fanatic? Oh brother.

              • Mosey

                Can we put an end to this myth that Ron Paul was part of the Ayn Rand cult? See video below, right from the horses mouth:

                Paul is more in line with Rothbard, who was very critical of the Randian movement.

                I’d also like to debunk another internet myth that Paul named his son after Ayn. Rand Paul’s full name is Randal and is no way related to Ayn Rand. Oh…and you’re welcome 🙂

                • HornOrSilk

                  The opening is “had a lot of influence on me.” Even he affirms why people point out the Rand influence on him.

              • Dave G.

                OK Mark, fair enough. But here’s another problem I see. By that standard, your condemnations of Stephen Colbert should be long and harsh,. At least more so than the condemnations leveled against Jon Stewart, or Rush Limbaugh, or Glenn Beck. They aren’t Catholic. Colbert is. Openly. Proudly. And he uses his celebrity as a Catholic to point out why the Church must get with the picture about some pretty non-Catholic things.

                Why you voted for Paul is fine. But understand others voted their way for their own reasons, and reasons allowable by what the Bishops laid out in some pretty clear language. So I guess it’s fine that you support Paul, but understand many who supported Romney or Ryan (or even Obama and Biden) did so because they thought it best in the situation. I know I did, and not because I couldn’t see the problems. Maybe it’s differences in personalities, but I can’t not get on the field and try to make a difference in the game somehow, even if the hope is slim. I think others are the same.

                • chezami

                  I’ve pointed out plenty of times that Colbert is a garden variety progressive dissenter on the usual pelvic issues.

                  • Dave G.

                    You’ve pointed out. But not with the same, shall we say, passion that you’ve blasted Beck and Limbaugh (perhaps Stewart, but I can’t recall). There’s a difference between saying ‘sure, the guy supports killing the unborn, but I think he’s great otherwise’ and the endless reams you’ve spent blasting others. That’s the point. If the reason you were so brutally tough on Ryan vs. Paul is that you hold Ryan to higher standards as a Catholic, again fair enough. There’s something to be said for that. But then that same proportion should hold over Colbert vs. Limbaugh for instance. And quite frankly, it hasn’t.

                    • chezami

                      Um, Colbert’s a comedian, not somebody a large number of my readers regard as a Deep Thinker whose ideas we should all take seriously and constantly repeat and meditate on. Hence the difference in emphasis. I also don’t spend a lot of time pointing out the obvious fact that Pelosi is a theological quack or that Westboro Baptist is peopled with nuts. When we all agree, there’s no need for me to go on trying to convince my audience of something. By the way, Hitler was bad.

                    • HornOrSilk

                      I notice you didn’t condemn Stalin! You must be a secret Commie 😉

                    • chezami

                      Don’t expose the True Agenda, Comrade.

                    • Dave G.

                      And yet, I don’t recall Mark saying Stalin was a fine fellow either.

                    • Dave G.

                      Got the Hitler part, And yet, I also notice you’ve been very harsh on Bill Maher, who is the first to say he’s just a comedian. And you’ve taken Maher to task over the years not just for things he’s said, but for things he has advocated. And yet he’s only a comedian. Like Colbert. Who hasn’t been taken to task. Though Colbert is a Catholic and Maher isn’t. Just looking for some consistency here.

                    • chezami

                      Probably has to do with the fact that the first rule of comedy is “Be funny”. Colbert is funny. Maher is shrill. And stupid.

                    • chezami

                      Here’s the deal, Dave. This whole conversation consists of your searching–desperately–for some way to say that I’m terribly unfair. I thinking it would be wiser to stop wasting time on that project and instead ask “Why is it that Shea doesn’t think he’s unfair and why do I need so very badly to prove he is?”

                    • Dave G.

                      No Mark. It consists of me sitting back and rather easily seeing you apply your standards too inconsistently for a minister of the Gospel – which is what an apologist is. Especially given your preferred approach to discussing things. Saying people serve Moloch or Mammon is all fine and dandy, as long as that approach is used consistently, whether you like a particular person more than another or not.

                      BTW, it’s because I’m very fond of you and consider you instrumental to my conversion, and one of the first Catholics I met who I could call friend while hiding in the shadows trying to learn about the Church, that I do this, not because I’m trying to be a pain in your behind (you may not remember, but I emailed you directly and you sent several passages of your writing to help my wife and me on our journey). Just trying to repay a favor in some small way.

                      Truth is, you can’t apply different standards in the name of the Faith, and you certainly can’t do so because of personal preferences. One of the hardest parts of being a minister was being aware of where the Gospel ends and personal preference and opinion begins. Believe me. Anyone who says that’s a cinch is selling something. Honestly Mark, if your general approach to debate was ‘gee, these folks disagree with me on issue X, let’s approach this issue with firmness, but also understanding, patience, love and compassion and an understanding that different people are at different stages in their pilgrimage’, then you’d have more wiggle room. But let’s face it, that’s not your cup of tea. Which means consistency and consistent standards are an absolute must. If for no other reason, than for your own good.