Dear Silly People who call me a Damn Librul

Dear Silly People who call me a Damn Librul September 27, 2014

Only in the diseased world of politicized, heretic-burning, right wing Americanized Catholic “thought” could I–a Catholic who believes all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims; who accepts completely the Church’s teaching on the pelvic issues; who hates abortion and euthanasia with a passion; who believes in the infallibility of the pope; who rejects gay “marriage” as an ontological impossibility; who believes in the Real Presence, honors our Lady as the Ever-Virgin, Immaculately Conceived, Assumed into Heaven Mother of God; who takes seriously just war teaching, and endorses capitalism (within the moral limits prescribed by Catholic social teaching)–be described as a “liberal”. Try measuring views according to how they line up with Catholic teaching and not how they line up with FOX and Talk Radio spew.

What such people have taught me is that it’s, y’know, *okay* to believe all the “non-negotiables”. But start blaspheming Walmart, the minimum wage, or guns and all of a sudden you are not a “Real Catholic” anymore–which tells you how important, in the eyes of some, the things I mention above *really* are in taking the measure of one’s Catholic faith.

Thank you.

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  • Petey

    a decade ago I detected a group I called “GOP First, RCC second” catholics. and here they are, still with us. it’s a perversion in the true sense of the word.

    • Hezekiah Garrett

      And yet you are reliably politically leftist, not Catholic.

      Really, it warms my heart to see Mark rail against conservatism, and it makes me sick to see you do it. Just like it warms my heart to see my teetotaling best friend rail against sobriety, but it sickens him to see me do likewise.

      We all need to work on our own beams and ignore those specks elsewhere.

      Pax tecum.

      • Artevelde

        I have been following Mark’s blog for a while and I truly enjoy it, not only because I find happiness in reading a well thought-out catholic polemic, but perhaps even more so because his writings and the posts below them offer such an interesting insight in the American mind. I’m a European myself and would by all accounts be a ‘damn librul’. As a matter of fact we tend to just not have a conservative political movement of any kind. Movements to the right, yes, but they would be very nationalistic and inspired by fascism.
        if you write ‘politically leftist, not Catholic’, does that mean that the two cannot be reconciled? That would be odd to me, since most any American would describe me as a very left leaning ‘socialist’ .. and yet I consider myself a Catholic.

        • Guest

          As another European, I’m also fascinated by the American political landscape. In my majority-Catholic country at least, the Left and the Right define themselves not by economics, but by their attitudes towards patriotism and the Church.
          You could advocate for a stronger welfare state, a preferential option for the poor, and such things, and still be considered a patriotic Catholic, not a “class warrior”.
          Also, gun ownership is minimal, everyone is mad about the usurious banks, all large businesses are foreign-owned and obviously not interested in “trickling down” their wealth, and people are leaving rather than sneaking into the country. So there is less fertile ground for American-style conservatism.

          • Alma Peregrina

            Third European christian-democracy leaning catholic here. Pleased to meet you, Cin Gem and Artevelde!

            I do agree with you about the strangeness that the American political landscape causes us and the rest of the World. We had absolute monarchs before Marx, so we find it a little bit strange whenever an american cries “Socialism” when the State moves his pinky finger to do something.

            But I disagree with both of you that Right-Wing in Europe is mostly based in values, either national or religious. It was so some years ago, but I think there has been an “americanization” of the european landscape in recent years. The same State-phobia, the same tiresome arguments about “lazy poor”, the privatization of our healthcare systems, the allergy towards minimal wage, the indifference towards “pelvic issues”…

            Not only at the national level: the European Union has also been pushing this kind of capitalism lately.

            • Joseph

              I think that’s a recent political shift in Europe because European governments see that, in the US model, so much more tax revenue can be freed up for frivolous projects and to line the pockets of political allies who will return the favour upon retirement when they stop paying for things like public healthcare, education, the dole, and other social perks. It’s only taken hold of the minds of *some* Europeans through a steady stream of propaganda stylised after American media… but it is truly a push by governments to free themselves of the burden of helping their people; America being the template.
              I see it here in Ireland. The way the media portrays this shift as a *positive* with its unending stream of propaganda reminds me so much of home. I laugh and cry at the same time as I hear people in pubs regurgitate what they heard on RTE.

              • Alma Peregrina

                Irish? Cool! One of my favourite countries, and I look forward to visiting it someday.

                Portuguese guy, here. Nice to meet you. 🙂

                I would love to know the nationalities of the other europeans in this forum, though. 😛
                Just to see if our experiences match up. I do agree a lot with what you said.

                • Joseph

                  Nice to meet you, too.
                  Well, I’m American (but an Irish national). My wife is Irish (which is one reason I’m here). This puts me in a unique situation as an observer and it has been very interesting to see the differences between American culture and the macro European culture/micro individual European cultures.

        • Hezekiah Garrett

          I wrote “reliably politically leftist…”

          Let’s look at a more frivolous example. I am a huge soccer fan, and a painter. But when my art collective banned ball play in our studio space, I was a reliable no vote on the issue, because I am a footie first and an artiste second. Painting is what I do but football is how I identify with the world!

          See how those two only intersect when a ball knocks over a canvas? Painting, football? Apples, oranges? Politics, religion?

          Btw, I’m pretty well regarded by Americans I meet as a firebreathing leftist revolutionary, mostly because we have no Christian democrats, in the European sense, here.

          I don’t critique conservatives because I aren’t one. But if you stick around, you’ll see that it’s about the only topic that induces Petey to say more than one word at a time.

          • petey

            “you’ll see that it’s about the only topic that induces Petey to say more than one word at a time.”


        • Joseph

          I think the politically-minded American has a different understanding as to what is left-leaning than an American who uses the Church as the codex to the *left* and the *right*. Mark, I think, seems to be the latter which is why I enjoy reading him too. Unfortunately, the politically-minded American can’t comprehend this and, thus, begin to short circuit as they try and compartmentalise Mark in their flawed paradigm. This is why there is such a kick-back to some of the things he says (from both sides). The Church should inform politics, not be married to it.
          In Europe, for the most part, politics and all things Catholic are considered two separate entities. At least that’s the way it appears to me. So, Europeans don’t define their loyalty to religion based on their particular political stances. That could also be because much of Europe has either become disinterested in Catholicism altogether or has just gone off the cliff of apostacy (this isn’t a rash judgement… there is little difference in that regard in the US, just that those *disinterested* use religion to validate their political beliefs rather than abandoning it altogether).
          Would you think my assessment is correct?

          • Artevelde

            I would agree with it, yes. And no it is neither rash nor unfair. I would say the part of Europe I know best (Germany, Low Countries and large parts of France) has relapsed into a weird sort of atavistic heathendom. I enjoy reading Mark a lot, and I don’t think he has become a ‘liberal’. I think he fears – or realizes – that behind the mask of what was once a valiant attempt to bring Catholic teaching into the political arena, now only lurks a mammon-worshiping demon that would love to punish poor children crossing the border by letting a militarized police use a few grenade launchers on them. Perhaps it feels like a betrayal to him. I certainly feel scandalized when I see that the political brand I stand for – let’s call it social christian democracy – at work. Oh, all the institutions to promote social justice are still in place, and words like solidarity and subsidiarity still are used, but behind the smokescreen the organized killing of the elderly, the unfit and the unborn is in full swing. And I think that’s why I recognize in Mark’s writings something very dear to me: that social justice and holding life sacred are part of the same truth, that one cannot be defended at the expense of the other, and that in the end, only the Church has consistently taught that they are one.

      • petey

        “And yet you are reliably politically leftist, not Catholic.”

        what makes you say that?

  • prairiebunny

    I thought every catholic was supposed to believe everything in your long list.Are you saying liberal catholics don’t and that’s why only a diseased right winger would call you a damn librul? Hmmn

  • Silly Interloper

    The problem is that all parties are liberals–Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, etc., and their is about a 99.99999% chance that the individuals calling you a liberal are also functionally liberals. Liberalism is an incoherent ideology that naturally (though irrationally) integrates whatever sacred cow is important to you. And Mark, even you preach the liberal line from time to time when you get wound up about freedom and equality. (I’m not being aggressive here, I’m just telling you what I’ve observed. And I am absolutely not saying you are liberal for the reasons anyone else has given.)

    I expect when put to the final test you will reject the primacy of freedom and equality in favor of God and Church; however, you often seem to functionally give them greater primacy than they deserve, which admits incoherence into your arguments. (Not all of them, but definitely some of them.)

    It’s this pervasive state of incoherence which we are all steeped in that–having already accepted the deeply ingrained irrational basis of liberalism–makes it perfectly reasonable to paint you with whatever brush is convenient. It doesn’t surprise me at all, and its no more contradictory than any other rationalization that comes from a liberal mind–especially the minds of those liberals who think they are not and call themselves conservatives.

    But I’ve been banging this drum for an eternity now, and my hopes that it will elucidate are waning.

    • Guest

      Well, why is someone “getting wound up on freedom and equality” by necessity also less faithful to “God and the Church”?
      In Catholic thought, freedom and equality are not “incoherent”. They arise from the common human nature given to all people, “in the image of God Himself”, who is free as Himself – the eternal Being – and equal in Himself – the Three Persons sharing the same divine nature.
      I’ve noticed a worrying tendency from some Catholics/conservatives to heap scorn on words such as “freedom”, “equality”, “diversity”, “inclusiveness”, “non-discrimination”, “dialogue”, “compassion”, “mercy” and even “racism”, because they are “liberal”, and liberalism=godless totalitarianism. But this turns Catholicism into a Paranoid Bunker of Truth and Justice, where “when put to a final test”, compassion is mocked, kindness is gullibility, talking to Muslims is apostasy from the Church and people shout at kids in buses.

      • Silly Interloper

        Freedom and equality as supreme values are, indeed, incoherent. They are impossibilities as well as being self-contradictory as predications for governance.

        Equality within the Trinity–whatever that even means–is an entirely different context, completely irrelevant to governance, and way beyond my ability of comprehension.

        And please focus upon what I have been saying, not on what some random group of “Catholic/conservatives” have said. What other individuals having nothing to do with me have said (the “conservatives” you mention are almost certainly their own breed of liberal) is irrelevant to what I am saying, and you only muddle the discussion by bringing them up this way.

        • Cin Gem

          Well, I was critiquing the sentiment that you’ve expressed, which I find in some Catholic subgroups, expressed most clearly, I think, in James Kalb’s book “The Tyrrany of Liberalism”

          According to this viewpoint, which I think you hold as well, “freedom”, “equality”, “diversity” and such are not merely “supreme values”, they are outright dirty words, and anyone who seems to indulge too much in them is branded a “liberal” that is somehow denying “God and the Church” their proper place.

          But I’ve offered some examples on how these words fit well within Catholic thought, and can be expressed freely without always adding, “by the way, God and Church”. The example of “equality” I connected with the Trinity. This is not completely unrelated to political life. For example, the family is said to be “an icon of the Trinity”. So if there is some notion of “equality” within the Trinity, there should be a proper kind of equality within the family.
          What that equality is and should be is a matter of debate, of course, my only point is that there is nothing to be afraid of in advocating “equality”, in the family or even in the larger political community.

          • Silly Interloper

            I haven’t read Kalb’s book, but I’ve read some of his writing online in the distant past. Regardless, it would be helpful if you would focus just on what I say instead of confusing the issue with assumptions you project on me from things other people have said.

            I don’t know what value there is in calling them “dirty words,” but in terms of governance they are irrelevant and self-contradictory, causing confusion and providing irrational ideas to have traction over reason. (Note that I am focusing specifically upon “freedom,” “equality,” and “diversity,” not the longer list you gave in the previous entry.)

            Let’s start with freedom. The entire purpose of government and law is to control what people can and cannot do—to limit their freedoms according to the priorities of the governing body. Therefore, to predicate governance upon the concept of freedom is self-contradictory.

            No one—except *maybe* for an insane anarchist or two—truthfully believes in freedom as a basis for governing. What everyone extolling freedom really means is: “Freedom that is reasonable and within tolerable limits.” But, of course, “freedom that is reasonable and within tolerable limits” can mean *anything* depending on what you find reasonable and within tolerable limits. Thus is the nature of self-contradictory premises—you can rationalize any abomination your little heart desires.

            And this is why the Left and the Right look at each other and think the other is bonkers—because each of them have an emotional attachment to certain kinds of “reasonable” and “tolerable” freedom that *feels* free to them, and each of them find certain freedoms claimed by the other as repulsive because they *feel* like “invalid” freedom. Freedom is right as long as it’s their kind of freedom. And as long as they are captive to this irrational lie, they find themselves rationalizing horrible and destructive things.

            Equality is no better. Laws are made to unequally discriminate between two parties, settling on the superiority of one over the other. To govern predicated upon equality is self-contradictory, and as such any abomination you prefer can be rationalized in the name of “equality.”

            Liberals (including the so-called “conservatives”) deceive themselves that they are not self-contradictory by attachments to “the right kind” of equality that is “reasonable and tolerable” to them. They think it should work because everyone should have equally “reasonable and tolerable” claims—you are equal as long as you are part of their program, which is to say, you are not equal at all if you disagree with them and you will not be tolerated. In the end, it is always one set of beliefs enforcing their priorities over all others. And all this time, they sit upon their high-horse insisting that they are all good because they are for “freedom” and “equality” for everyone. It is truly sociopathic and insane.

            Diversity is almost comical. Do you want diversity or equality? Which is it? The irony here is that rejecting the irrational and tyrannical use of “freedom” and “equality” to impose an ideology with force upon everyone actually allows for *more* diversity. Not only that, but the impossible program to make laws to enforce every tiny problem with “freedom” and “equality” creates more and more comprehensive and invasive laws that stifles diversity and attempts to force everyone to think exactly the same irrational way.

            In regard to equality among the Trinity, I don’t think we can comprehend what “equality” among the persons of the Trinity means—or if it’s even coherent to speak of it that way. I certainly don’t see why we should take that into any consideration at all when it comes to governing, and I furthermore reject outright any attempt to use the concept as a way to undermine the authority of a father over his family or any authority at all for that matter. Further attempts to compare human governance to the Trinity will be a waste of time, so I hope we can drop that part of it.

  • anna lisa

    Today my father received the anointing of the sick. He received it from our ultra -liberal -Jesuit -former -pastor -who -voted -for -Obama.
    They developed a fond affection for each other in a short period of time *despite* my father being a “conservative”.
    The thing is that they both have huge hearts. They love people. That’s what they have in common. It’s the over arching *ideas* about how things need to be run that gets them in trouble with each other.
    Fr. Mario joked about his distress that Papa might miss out on the presidency of Hilary Clinton.
    What my father hates is bad ideas, like giving people a disincentive to be diligent.. He knows this robs people of their dignity.
    He hates big government. He thinks big government keeps poor people poor.
    Fr. Mario thinks big government has the power to protect poor people from the robber barons that are enjoying a splendidly long run, (because big government was derelict in it it’s duty?)
    Fr. Mario hates seeing poor people suffer.
    My father hates seeing poor people suffer.
    Both of them love individual people more than economic theories.
    Fr. Mario tried to cheer my Dad up by telling him funny jokes about what happens when a Jesuit gets to heaven.
    He could tell that my Dad was not his usual feisty self. He took a different approach, and told my Dad that he’d been put on a waiting list on earth, because heaven had already reached it’s small quota of Republicans for the year.
    At this point we had to intervene, and point out to him that our dear Papa believes that the Republican party is the party of “asses and fools”, just as much as the Democratic party is.
    That made Papa smile.

    • sez

      Beautiful! Truly. Your father is in my prayers.

      • anna lisa

        Thank you. 🙂
        We are losing our patriarch and we are heartbroken. But it was a beautiful day.
        And my five-year-old accidentally received her first holy communion.
        I wasn’t looking and she just got in line with the mob of us.
        I’m not sure whether to say anything, or bake her a cake or something.
        Thank you for praying!! God Bless you.

        • Suffer the little children. Bake the cake.

  • Dave G.

    Here’s an observation. We go to a parish that is moderate to left as a general rule. My 16 year old made an interesting observation. There are Catholics who are liberal in the most modern sense. But after a discussion with his youth group last year, he noted that some Catholics say they’re liberal, but compared to the liberal he sees in the world, he thinks they’re mainly just anti-Conservative.

    I went back and found, in one month, at least 26 posts on CAEI attacking those on the Right in ways that would make MSNBC blush, taking the assumption that the radical Left’s worst appraisal of conservatives and American conservatism is true. I found no more than a dozen or so on the things you’re passionately against. And none taking the worst characterization of liberals or liberalism that one might hear on FOX or from talk radio. In fact, you’ve gone on record lamenting liberalism’s embrace of things like abortion since, as you have said, liberalism has so many commendable things to offer. And you openly admire and respect some of our most visible advocates of liberalism, including advocates of some of the things you are passionately against. You have a small handful of exceptions to the rule of conservatives being what MSNBC and Huffpost say they are, but that’s all. Your worst rage and rhetoric is aimed at those holding to various ideals associated with conservative viewpoints.

    So not a liberal in the modern, secular sense, though new readers could be forgiven for thinking so. Maybe not even anti-Conservative. But certainly some strange form of bleeding maize and blue while continually declaring your eternal devotion for the scarlet and grey.That is declaring yourself conservative with an overwhelming focus on the worst interpretations of those things to the right of center, with little comparable focus on those things to the left. Maybe a touch of the Nicholson? It should be noted that when something associated with the Left is hammered on CAEI, it is topic focused. That is, abortion, using gay marriage to smash liberty, things like that. The ‘pelvic left’ is as bad as it gets as sweeping condemnation, and usually only linked to particular issues, not echoing the worst assumptions about liberals in general.

    Oh, and it can’t be because of ‘readership.’ One need only see the high fives and praises given by a wide range of readers for the ‘conservatives are what the left say they are’ posts to see the readership is nowhere near dominated by people from traditional and conservative perspectives as perhaps it once was. Just something I’ve noticed. Not falling into party loyalty is one thing, and not a bad one. Not doing so with an overwhelming focus on only one of the parties is another. Bound to cause some confusion.

    • sez

      This is a fascinating observation. Thank you for this! It should open my eyes to other forms of not-X-just-anti-Y sentiment out there, Something to watch for!

    • jroberts548

      There’s nothing conservative about, e.g., mocking female fighter pilots. Therefore, mocking the people who mock them doesn’t and can’t make you anti-conservative. The reason so many people aren’t so much liberal as they are “anti-conservative” is that purported “conservative” politicians and pundits are intellectually and morally bankrupt, interested chiefly in scoring cheap points over non-existent controversies, when they’re not being shamelessly racist and xenophobic.

      • Dave G.

        I never said there was. I simply note that, to some, there are as many things done on the left of center that arguably aren’t liberal and are worthy of condemnation, yet there is a disproportional level of focus on only one side here on CAEI. That’s my point. That assumes, by the way, that there are just as bad examples on the left side of the tracks. People who insist otherwise, of course, may not see a problem.

        • Artevelde

          Perhaps that level of focus towards one side has everything to do with where Mark’s heart lies and therefore with what hurts and appalls him most? I agree with Mark’s writings in almost every respect, and even though we would most likely not see eye to eye in our basic political views, I feel I should honor him for placing his Catholic beliefs first and above more narrow political considerations. My heart lies on the left (at least Americans would generally describe it as ‘left’ .. I’m actually a European Social Christian Democrat in my political leanings), but I will rail against our parties’ wanton disregard for unborn life, their tendency to promote euthanasia and various other errors, and I will continue to do so.

          • Dave G.

            First, if I may. I think it’s dangerous to assume people put party politics and ideologies above their faith. Not that they don’t. But don’t assume it’s a problem others have. I know Mark tries not to. As do I. You. Everyone here. Most, I doubt, would not say ‘screw the Church, the Party comes first.’ Some might. Most don’t. It’s a dangerous game to assume what we used to call in my Protestant days ‘Goldilocks Christianity’ (that is, everyone is just too cold or too hot, why can’t they be like me? That is, just right). We used to say everyone has things outside of the faith that inform their faith. The trick isn’t to deny it, the trick is to be aware. That cuts down on the assumption the other one is always the problem.

            But that’s for another post. I don’t know *why* Mark spends the lion’s share of his time going after the Right, including accepting the stereotypes from the Right’s harshest critics. I don’t know why Mark praises people on the Left who openly advocate and work for those things Mark passionately hates, but doesn’t have similar leeway for conservatives. I don’t know why, though Mark is a conservative, many of his interpretations sound libertarian at best, and sometimes downright liberal.

            I’ve been coming here for going on 9 years I think. Mark has changed his views on things, that can’t be denied. No biggie there. Most do over time. But listening to Mark appraise the problems with conservatives today sounds more like an Ed Schultz or Bill Maher screed than the careful – tough, but careful – critiques he had years ago. Likewise, though Mark still lashes out against those things he hates, he increasingly has almost exclusively good things to say about various liberal ideals and individuals – even when they advocate those things he passionately hates. And to me, therein lies the goofy.

        • Marthe Lépine

          I don’t agree with what you call “a disproportional level of focus on only one side”, since I see Mark’s blog as a way of sharing HIS opinions. He is not necessarily writing in order to inform his readers about the whole range of viewpoints and opinions about one particular subject. but to describe the way he sees some facts and ways of thinking as being consistent or not with the Church’s teaching.

          • Dave G.

            That’s fine. But let’s face it, if I spend my time trashing the Buckeyes while only occasionally doing other than praising the Big House, people will wonder about my claim that I’m an OSU fan at heart. That’s the essence of his post. Why do silly people question his conservatism. The overwhelming focus on the right’s failings and the acceptance of the worst interpretations of conservatives and conservatism, while giving measured criticisms against certain topics associated with liberalism, and even singing the praises of some of liberalism’s most celebrated advocates for those things he passionately hates, is bound to cause some head scratching. As it logically would.

            • Marthe Lépine

              I disagree once again. The point is that no one is totally good or totally bad, and I assume the same about no one having always and only bad or good opinions. What’s wrong with pointing out the good that would be said or done by a person who is often wrong? Seems to me this is called “positive reinforcement”. And if it happens that Mark gets more annoyed by something wrong said or done by someone who from the “right” who should know better, it might be called “admonishing the sinners”… And, in my own opinion, there is unfortunately a lot that is wrong in some of US conservative thinking. And this does not exclude a number of things being correct in the thinking of the left, particularly about social justice issues. In that case, Mark is correct in saying that concern for social justice does not erase the wrongness of supporting abortion; however, it seems to me that many people on the right are guilty of throwing out the baby with the bathwater, e.g. claiming that nothing that the left says or does can be acceptable because of this acceptation of abortion and other non-negotiables, and maybe, just maybe, using this total rejection as a way to minimize or ignore most social justice issues.

              • Dave G.

                Nothing is wrong. The question was, why do those silly people think I’m a librul. The point isn’t just that he gets annoyed by those on the right. It’s that according to Mark’s blog, there are scant few on the right unworthy of the harshest scorn and derision, but apart from a few sins that cry out to heaven for vengeance, liberals can be awesome and liberalism can be as well.

                Now if I were a card carrying liberal, I would be happy with that.. A conservative who renounces most conservatives and conservatism in general and who accepts the worst conceivable interpretation of their characters and ideals, but seems to admire and regard liberals and liberalism more often than not? Yeah. I’d dig that (a little hippie jargon there). But if I wasn’t – and perhaps even if I was- that would have to make me at least wonder just what is meant by the phrase ‘I’m a conservative.’

    • etme

      “Maybe not even anti-Conservative. But certainly some strange form of bleeding maize and blue while continually declaring your eternal devotion for the scarlet and grey.”

      Why, “some strange form of”, as you say above? Why is it strange? “Maize”, “blue”, “scarlet” and other such, which are shorthand for the political parties/ideologies in the American polity today, are NOT absolute truths, or choices. They’re nothing but some very local, parochial even, and very temporally bound (fashioned yesterday), immediate voting choices. These political ideologies are not absolutes. One does NOT have to correspond to them – one does NOT even have to be aware of them. This is the very problem –

      if you take them as measuring sticks, then you start measuring the Church with them. These are NOT, I repeat, NOT, coherent philosophies. Why not take the Nigerian political positions as your measuring stick of everything? The political parties and ideologies in iceland – they are the absolute measures of truth.

      In other words, the very problem is that sometimes we are better catechized by our times, than by our Church. When we are shaped philosophically and anthropologically by some local, temporally-shaped, momentary ideas, instead of being shaped by what does not change – and judging the times from the perspective of the unchangeable.

      Why not the Guelphs and the Ghibellines? Or how about the reformist vs the empress dowager in early twentieth century China? Forget Repub and Dem, THOSE are the real parties, and you HAVE to choose, ideologically, now! Otherwise you will be a strange, strange mix etc.

      If the US would be a multiparty system, which is simply a matter of electoral system – and ONLY that, really – suddenly there would be a plethora of choices. But even those would be the choices of today, right now, here.

      The Church is a good escape from political and intellectual parochialism, because it forces you to look at things historically and universally, and see how risible are the “great political choice” of whichever minor country at whatever fleeting moment of election.

      So it is not the mix that is strange. It is the forced “choices”.

      Otherwise, cheers and pax et bonum, DaveG.

      • Dave G.

        Actually Scarlet and Maize are sports references. Scarlet and Grey: Ohio State. Maize and Blue: Michigan. An old sports rivalry. I agree with your statements overall, but I was responding to Mark’s post about why people think he’s a librul. I say it’s because he seems to have hated most conservatism, conservative interpretations and not a few conservatives, while he spends little time on all but a couple issues associated with the left, and even openly respects and admires some who advocate those things on the left Mark passionately hates. It’s bound to confuse some people.

    • Joseph

      I may be out on a limb here, but I think that Mark’s particular brutality when it comes to criticisms of the *Right* may be because he himself leans to the *Right* making the disappointment in those who drag conservatism through the mud that much greater. The ideology on the *Left* as anti-innocent human, irresponsible, and mostly interested in forcing everyone to accept a wide variety of uses for the pelvis is already well known, established, and without embarrassment. The ideology of the *Right* pretends to be the place to go for the cure of that insanity, so it is much more disappointing when one realises that they are exactly the same. Much like, in my opinion, altar-boy molesting priests deserve to be dragged out, humiliated, and caned in the media more than the public school teacher who likes to help the soccer team take showers because it’s much more revolting that a Catholic priest would engage in this activity knowing what he’s supposed to know and being who he is supposed to be. The public school teacher, like so many of them, is probably a moral relativist, atheist or agnostic that doesn’t believe there’s anything wrong with his/her desires to molest little boys… and the system he/she works in actually enables that ideology. The Catholic priest has no excuse and is 100% culpable.
      Conservatives are *supposed* to be the antidote to the insanity, in large part, that resides in modern liberalism. But, because it’s not, they *deserve* a greater share of the abuse. When a liberal acts like a liberal, they aren’t being a hypocrite. When a conservative acts like something other than a conservative (or a liberal), they are. That would be my take on it anyway.

      • Dave G.

        I don’t know why he does it, but that he does it can’t really be denied, which is why some could think of him as a liberal partisan. Perhaps it is taking his own team to the wood shed. Which can have dangers attached to it, like anything. Hence my dropping of Col. Nicholson. But it seems to go beyond that. Taking your example of abusive priests. It would be understandable to hold them to higher standards than, say, teachers. But would you accept the viewpoint of anti-Catholic bigots or radical atheists that except for a few exceptions you personally know, priests probably are baby rapists perverted scum? Probably wouldn’t see that as a good tactic. But Mark apart from his own exceptions, seems willing to accept the worst conceivable interpretations of conservatives in general and even individuals by name.

        And more than that, it’s not just Mark’s thrice daily hammering of the Right. It’s also that he increasingly seems to accept various liberal narratives, interpretations, solutions, ideals, and viewpoints. And even if he doesn’t – as in abortion – he still sings praises of liberals who do advocate such things. Find me a conservative who advocates torture that Mark says ‘I disagree, but still think he’s awesome.’ Things like that are bound to confuse people. Again, you can only cheer on one team so much before people start questioning how much of a fan you are of the other team.

        • Joseph

          “But would you accept the viewpoint of anti-Catholic bigots or radical atheists that except for a few exceptions you personally know, priests probably are baby rapists perverted scum?”
          They make those statements for political expediency. Plus, as I’ve established, they are not above their childish rhetoric. That said, it’s not a bad thing for them to continue their attacks. It’s is, after all, a consequence of priests whose behaviour was contrary to their calling… and they should be kept to a higher standard.
          Do I like it? No. But, when I blatantly sin with full knowledge and culpability for it, especially when doing so as a representative of my religion, I think I deserve public chastisement and ridicule no matter how exaggerated. It may shorten my stay in Purgatory. 🙂

          • Dave G.

            Then we all deserve the same level I’d say, since it’s unlikely any of us are guiltless in that charge. And that’s part of the ongoing point. As I said, it’s not just that Mark chastises the Right, but he increasingly affirms the views associated with liberal viewpoints. He also gives passes even when they are advocates of those things he passionately hates.

            And the motives of those who say things about priests might be the key. After all, on one side you say it’s just political, on the other it could be driven by righteous anger. We don’t know. That’s the point here. Why does Conservative Mark increasingly seem to almost hate all things associated with Conservative while increasingly adopting views and narratives and interpretations associated with those on the Left, while reserving admiration and respect for those with more liberal viewpoints, even advocates of those things Mark hates? We don’t know. But clearly, a person could be forgiven for pondering just how Mark clears his conservative identity with his views and behaviors.

  • Willard

    The problem is that you have to write such a post at all. If you’re playing defense, you’re losing. The reality is that huge numbers of right wing Catholics dissent from the Church’s infallible teaching on the RIGHT to a just wage and, therefore, risk the eternal salvation of their souls. They should be on the defensive, not you.

    • Doyle

      The minimum wage is not designed nor purposed to support a family. If the teenager at the McDonald’s makes a minimum wage while he goes to school, shouldn’t that person have that opportunity?

      Or should every manual job be automated?

      Is it not possible that raising the minimum wage won’t improve the lives of the poor? That instead it will put more people out of work? Ten years from now, we’ll walk into a MickeyD’s staffed by two because it will be cheaper to automate the jobs than employ.

      I am not saying nothing should be done to lift the standard of work and living, but if the best answer politicians have is raise the minimum wage, I certainly see why there is a lot of disagreement.

      Thanks for reading.

      • HornOrSilk

        People like you like to mention “minimum wage is not designed” blah blah blah. But you forget the system is not designed for people to get fair jobs. And it is becoming more and more designed so fewer and fewer people can get even living wage.

        The debate over a living wage goes beyond minimum wage jobs. Many jobs which are above minimum wage are below living wage, and these are the jobs which have openings.

        • Doyle

          People like me? You don’t know me. If I used such a phrase I’d really have to question whether I am considering each issue individually or whether I am buying into an ideology.

          There is no one like me.

        • Joseph

          Minimum wage was designed for the same purpose all other labour laws were designed (i.e. 40-hour work week, maternal leave, etc.), to protect workers from abuses, to provide them with a liveable wage (minimum wage literally means the bare minimum that one can *live* on… when it doesn’t meet that criteria it ceases to be *minimum* wage and becomes sub-minimum), to prevent overwork, to provide life/work balance, to make sure that one can support a family while also being there to support them, etc.
          Minimum wage cannot support a small family with one wage earner, thus forces both parents to work… day care negates the second income. At the same time, salaried employees are constantly forced to break the 40-hour week laws without extra compensation. Maternal leave is embarrassingly low in the US. Paid holidays are embarrassingly low in the US. All of these things are actually in breach of labour laws, but nobody gives a damn.

          • If daycare is negating a second income, have four of your neighbors kids over, charge less than the commercial providers and all of those families come out ahead.

            Of course it doesn’t work at scale because the commercial providers of daycare report the moms who do that as soon as they hear of it. I say this because you have this charmingly naive idea that labor laws’ public justification is the only justification. Creating a situation where new entrants have a hard time competing with the established providers is the dominant effect of these laws today.

            Salaried employees are generally either not covered or exempt from the 40 hour week laws. It is not a violation of law to work extra in that situation so no, not all of these things are “actually in breach of labour laws”. Sometimes labor laws are broken. The US has some of the most lawsuit happy people in the world and lawyers are happy to take such cases on contingency.

            • Joseph

              “…have four of your neighbors kids over, charge less than the commercial providers and all of those families come out ahead…”
              You don’t have kids, do you? Parents looking for free or cheap *day care* like this usually don’t respect the time of the people they are leaving their kids with, especially when they have unruly kids. You’re asking for some poor mother to have the stress of not only caring for her own kids, but other kids on a daily basis. If you’ve ever watched over a handful of children without their parents (and realise that you have to make sure their kids don’t fall down the stairs, stab themselves with a pencil, hit their head on the corner of the wall, etc.) for a day, then you’d know that your proposal is an absolute *no go* for most women… the kids have to be fed, cleaned, etc. as does the house when they are done destroying it. Most people in the lower income bracket don’t have the room to create a makeshift crèche.

              • In fact, I have three children, thank you very much. Are you done making mistaken assumptions about me, my family, and my experience in life or do you want to go another round?

                • Joseph

                  OK. So I assume that you and your wife would be willing to turn your house into a daycare for your neighbours (I’m guessing you’ll say ‘yes’ just score points, but in reality you never would… because there is no need as long as the status quo exists… fantasy land is fun).

                  • Joseph, you do not know me. You are being the very opposite of charitable in our discussion, which is giving the most honorable and acceptable interpretations of words which can be interpreted in multiple ways. Instead you speculate without knowledge and impugn my character without a speck of knowledge.

                    This makes our continued conversation an occasion to sin for you, one which I do not feel like cooperating with at the present, not to say yes or no, either of which will only unleash another round of baseless speculation as to my character.

                    But one final correction, fantasy land is not always fun, especially when it’s someone else’s fantasy and one which requires that you play the villain. I have enough real sins to worry about and see no use in having pretend ones heaped on me.

      • jroberts548

        If that’s not what the minimum wage was designed for, why do we even have it? Do you really expect me to believe that the new deal minimum wage was introduced so teenagers could pick up extra money?

        • Doyle

          The point is raising the wage will not get you what you want. Govt. Programs that train job skills for anyone who wishes, I could go for that too improve the quality of the workforce. It’s not that I do not want govt. to help, I want govt. to effectively help.

          4 bucks- buy and gift it to Mark, too:

          • jroberts548

            That is a valid argument, and the risk that raising the minimum wage won’t accomplish the desired effect, or may even backfire is a serious risk that needs to be considered when deciding whether to raise the minimum wage.

            That argument also has no connection whatsoever to the asinine claim that the minimum wage was designed to protect high school kids looking for spending money, and we therefore shouldn’t care whether modern minimum wage earners can support their families.

            • Jonk

              The formulation to which you object comes about because minimum wage is the price of low-skilled, high-supply jobs, and most folks who are low-skilled and in high supply to fill them are young, single people. It’s rhetorical shorthand. How about this:
              Until the state-defined price of labor defines different prices for married, parental, and single workers, the minimum wage as it stands is independent of the worker’s family status. Is that better?

              • jroberts548

                About half of minimum wage earners are 25 or older. Only about a quarter are teenagers. More than a third work full time. More than a third are or have been married. “Teenager” is a useless, misleading shorthand.

                Again, there are reasonable, honest arguments against the minimum wage. If you find yourself characterizing minimum wage earners as teenagers or as young, single people, you’re not making one of those arguments.

                • Jonk

                  You seem to miss my point. The value of the young, unskilled worker with limited abilities and few responsibilities should set the lowest price for labor. That people not in that small group are also counted in the lowest labor price belies greater problems.

                  It could be an indictment of the failure of the education system to impart real human capital value to students, or the failure of entry-level work experience to lead to advancement in other sectors, or the high cost of living brought about by inflation due to monetary policy and easy lending in home mortgage, or maybe that’s just where we are on the labor supply/demand curve. It’s probably some combination of those and more.

                  If the problem is that people who need a larger living wage can’t make a living wage, we probably should look at solving those underlying factors, rather than just covering them up by raising the floor a little and cramming more people into the bottom wage tier.

                  • jroberts548

                    The whole point of the minimum wage is to set that floor there, and try to reduce the extent to which young, unskilled, single workers can undercut other workers (in fact, the first minimum wage laws only applied to children or women, specifically to protect men in the workforce). You can make a sound economic argument that it shouldn’t do that. I’ll even agree, a little. The minimum wage is not the most efficient way to deal with the costs of the free market; a negative income tax, socialized healthcare and strong union rights would be much better.

                    Just because there are better solutions, or other underlying factors doesn’t mean you avoid imperfect solutions, especially when imperfect solutions are the only plausible ones. When I knick myself shaving, the underlying problem is the razor blade, but I still use the styptic pencil.

                    The only thing I’m attacking is the lazy, asinine assertion that the minimum wage is designed for teenagers. That’s just stupid. It doesn’t even make any sense, given the demographics of minimum wage earners or the context in which it arose.

                    • Jonk

                      The floor labor price is designed for teenagers, if an organically-derived price can be “designed” at all. That the legal minimum wage exceeds that floor, so the minimum wage encompasses a larger swath of workers, is not a reason to raise the floor further.

    • The economic ignorance and injustice of the minimum wage warriors is much more evident to those right wing Catholics you’re complaining about than doing the hard work of thinking through how to advocate a sustainable solution that is consistent with the social gospel. This does not make them dissenters and you are unjust to call them that. It does make them in need of some contemplation and deepening of their faith which is usually not a bad thing. Frankly, that’s a general condition.

      Coincidentally, I published my own thoughts which I suggest I can defend *from the right* from just about any ‘conservative’ attack. It’s a free market solution, relies on fairly minor government action in areas that are clearly government responsibility in the most minarchist definitions of government, and also conforms to Catholic Social Teaching in a way that is more universal, and I think more authentic, than the usual ‘raise the minimum wage’ calls from the left.

      • Willard

        His Holiness Pope Pius XI taught that, “It is an intolerable abuse, and to be abolished at all cost, for mothers on account of the father’s low wage to be forced to engage in gainful occupation outside the home to the neglect of their proper cares and duties, especially the training of children.” – If you disagree with his Holiness, you are a dissenter.

        • Straw man much? It’s currently the dominant economic view that minimum wages, where they are above the market clearing price, cause unemployment and just the sort of intolerable abuse that you quote. Women should not be forced to take a job that they do not want because the labor market has been distorted so much that their husband cannot earn a living wage for the family. If we are actually Catholic, we cannot be happy with policy that imposes that on many so that a few may escape the problem.

          There are several non-Catholic ways to achieve this in the visible community seen in the developed world. Driving large populations into serfdom in order to reduce the supply of labor would be one example. China and India, for historical reasons, were essentially in that position. Our current wage rate crisis in large part is here because these two huge nations are coming out of this condition and vastly increasing the effective supply of labor.

          The only Catholic position that fully fits the social gospel is to attempt to engineer an economy where the living wage is below the market clearing price of the lowest form of unskilled labor. The minimum wage laws do not do this and thus can only be viewed as an expedient that is better than nothing, a plan B when plan A has failed.

          It’s a left-wing failure of adherence to the teachings of the Church to prefer plan B to plan A but that’s the world we live in. We not only ignore plan A but criticize it as if plan B were preferable.

          • HornOrSilk

            But unemployment would not be a big problem if one of the parents could stay at home!

            • This is objectively not true. Periods of unemployment have existed during the time when one worker per household was the social norm. The current period, dating from the opening of China in the 1970s where literally hundreds of millions of workers entered the global labor market would have dispersed that unemployment throughout the system no matter what the rest of the system does.

              • HornOrSilk

                We have even MORE unemployment problems when both parents have to work. That is objectively true. This makes for more competition for jobs, so the rich can cut pay. It is quite true.

                • Marthe Lépine

                  I agree with you here. I have been thinking that about some issues, feminists have been “duped”, since, exactly the rich can cut pay, or more exactly keep the wages usually associated with the middle class stagnating. Our Canadian government has even clearly acknowledged it: In order to counter such statistics (from our official statistical agency, Statistics Canada) as those that demonstrate stagnating middle class salaries, our department of Finance produced other statistics that purported to demonstrate that in fact our middle class has been doing very well, and the incomes of its members have in fact kept increasing, BECAUSE…now a middle class family can benefit from the incomes of two wage earners…

                  • I am in favor of women working. The type of work they should do is a modernized version of Proverbs 31:10-31 especially 16 and 24. This is very different than the sort of work condemned by the Pope in Quadragesimo Anno. Essentially this is capitalist work and home manufacture, done at a pace and a time which does not cause neglect of children and other priorities.

                • There’s a difference between “We have even MORE unemployment problems when both parents have to work” and “unemployment would not be a big problem if one of the parents could stay at home”

                  I agree with the former and disagree with the latter. I cannot see how you perceive both statements to be equivalent.

          • jroberts548

            Who is proposing plan A?

            • I just did. I think that Jack Kemp was proposing in a similar vein back in the 1970s and 1980s and Paul Ryan is working on a similar path today to make public policy that would be friendly to this approach. Hernando de Soto and his fan club are also walking the same path.

              Pope Francis’ radical involvement with the poor is compatible with ‘plan A’ and integrating his call into what I understand about economics is what led me to really put the pieces together, though I think it would be presumptuous to claim him as a fellow traveler.

              • Willard

                Let me guess. Plan A would involve reducing tax rates on billionaires, abolishing capital gains taxes, and eliminating labor laws. You Koch shills are so predictable.

                • Actually tax rates would need to be calculated differently to catch subsidy phase-outs and we would end up with negative nominal rates on the poor and a smoothing out of the soul destroying real tax rates that can exceed 80% in some circumstances. The appropriate tax rates for billionaires are irrelevant for this plan, a separate issue.

                  I would propose what I have taken to call “grubstake” accounts that would be entirely tax free including capital gains taxes. These accounts would be opened for anyone who went on public assistance and would permit the poor to get out of poverty.

                  Certain labor laws would be eliminated. The licensing requirements that stop poor people from opening up their own businesses in order to protect incumbent providers really need reform. Any labor laws that are disguised corporate welfare for large businesses because the paperwork load is disproportionately burdensome would need to be reworked, and we’re probably going to need to revisit child labor laws for ‘learning businesses’. There are too many bureaucrats closing down lemonade stands today.

                  I have to stand in regarding my son’s business too often because he’s legally too young to do what he’s trying to do. The system, at least in Indiana where we live is an industrial age travesty ill suited for the 21st century.

                  • jroberts548

                    I agree that a negative income tax or guaranteed income would accomplish the minim wage’s goals better than the minimum wage.

                    But come on. We live in a world where, e.g., even the “small government” Tea Party fights tooth and nail to protect farm subsidies and cut food stamps. Even the Democratic party isn’t interested in serious efforts to expand the safety net. Maybe once Boomer voters start dying we’ll see something better, but until then, there’s no chance of a negative income tax.

                    • Fighting to protect farm subsidies like this?


                      I’ve no doubt that the farm lobby has managed to peel off a congressman or two that was elected with Tea Party support. The major groups within the movement just don’t seem to be acting as you describe.

                      The point of the plan isn’t to create a negative income tax. That’s a side issue. It’s to create a structure that doesn’t trap people in poverty and actually applies money to the poor in the main, not to the bureaucrats who manage the program. If we could magically apply 100% of poverty spending to the poor, they would immediately become middle class as far as income is concerned. We lose a tremendous amount to transaction costs and dead weight losses.

          • Willard

            Straw man what? The Pope isn’t condemning a situation where the mother has to work outside the home because the husband is unemployed because the minimum wage is above the “market clearing” wage. The Pope is condemning mother’s having to work precisely “on account of the father’s low wage. It is astonishing to see you plainly misquote the clear words of the Holy Father due to your adherence to libertarian dogma.

            • I am similarly astonished at your abuse of the Pope’s words. You are so determined to play the pharisee that you find dissenters where there are none.

              For the record, I didn’t actually quote anything, so I couldn’t have misquoted anything. You, at the very least, are abusing the english language.

              • Willard

                Semantics. You clearly tried to twist the Holy Father’s words to something akin to: “”It is an intolerable abuse, and to be abolished at all cost, for mothers on account of the fact that government bureaucrats have set the minimum wage above the market clearing wage to be forced to engage in gainful occupation outside the home to the neglect of their proper cares and duties, especially the training of children.” Again, if you fail to adhere to the Church’s infallible teaching on the right to a just wage, you are a dissenter.

                • Ah, an improvement, now you twist my words instead of the Pope’s. This doesn’t really help on the whole phariseeism thing but I’m used to having my words twisted and am less offended than when it’s the Pope’s.

                  The Pope condemned a specific case of low wages, where a husband’s wage was below the living wage and the wife is forced by this circumstance to neglect certain duties in favor of entering the workforce out of necessity. This is lifeboat economics. Nobody likes lifeboat economics, not the Pope (clearly) and not me.

                  I proposed a course where no employer could offer a wage so low and get any takers, the prevailing wage for the lowest skilled work being above the level of a living wage. This gets everybody out of the lifeboat. The Pope’s necessary precondition for the condemned circumstance (low wages for the husband below living wage levels) is a priori broken and so the condemned behavior never happens. You label this position dissent.

                  Pharisee! False accuser, go tend to your own soul.

                  • Willard

                    The Pope’s words are so clear and unmistakable that at least you’ve been forced to retract your earlier claim that he was referring to a situation where “minimum wages, where they are above the market clearing price, cause unemployment and just the sort of intolerable abuse that you quote.”

                    I’m used to be calling a Pharisee when I quote the clear teachings of the Church to pro-aborts, libertarians, and other dissenters of Church teaching so those insults have no effect on me.

                    • I do not retract my words, mostly because they are correct. If you do not think that the papacy would be outraged by a too high minimum wage that led to mass unemployment, that’s your problem.

            • ivan_the_mad

              Heh, “libertarian dogma” reminds me of an old comic, with which a former boss, a Democrat, ribbed me after seeing my (then) new Ron Paul bumper sticker. Still makes me chuckle:

        • falstaff77

          “It is an intolerable abuse, and to be abolished at all cost,”

          Does “at all cost” also mean going without latest amenity? Or is only the low wage intolerable?

  • Boethius

    Mark, often you mention a quote – “In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, In All Things Charity”. Minimum wage, gun control laws, and Changing Walmart’s methods are Non-Essentials. The doctrines behind these particular examples are “essentials”, i.e. fair wages, promoting safety and freedom from violence, etc, but the way they are actually implemented falls into “non-essentials”. You might want to reign in the way you dismiss those that may disagree with you about minimum wage or gun control, since they likely agree with you in essentials, and disagree only in non-essentials. Your readers/commenters should have liberty to disagree in non-essentials, it does not mean they disagree in essentials… food for thought.

    • Sam Schmitt

      Don’t you realize that all this talk of “implementation” is just a smokescreen to disguise your unquestioning obeisance to Wal-Mart, the death penalty and the smallest possible wage for the greatest number of workers?
      Stop making excuses and get with the program.

      • Boethius

        FYI, I am for people making a decent wage, and fully against the death penalty. Again your comment shows that there are many who will say there is freedom in non-essentials, but then do not actually allow others freedom to disagree with them…

  • JP

    This is actually why i read Mark’s blog. Some things he says make me uncomfortable. Then, i ask myself, :why does this make me uncomfortable?” Then, what follows is an inner exploration of: have i been absorbing uncritically strains of “conservative thought” that don’t necessarily square with Catholic thought?

  • I honestly don’t know if I’m included in this group in Mark’s head or not. For what it’s worth, I don’t think you’re organized enough in your occasional straying from the faith, by lacking charity, by stretching the truth, by getting your two minute hate on to be called a ‘Damn Librul’. It is, however, not Catholic when you do these things.

    You do good work calling out various stripes of foolishness. Don’t act like your targets deflecting away when others return the favor. You’re not a saint and you know it. You’ve written about it in fact, remember?

  • As far as I know, you have never recanted your support of these rebellious colonies against their rightful sovereign, the monarch of Great Britain. Unless you advocate with all your powers and resources for the return of these stolen lands to the just rule of Queen Elizabeth II and her heirs, “Damn Librul” is the least of the epithets which ought to be inveighed against you. Mayhaps you even should be hanged for sedition and treason, but I leave that to the wisdom and mercy of Her Royal Majesty to decide.

  • At my most charitable I’d say that though you are strongly Anti-Rightist you are certainly not Liberal. You are certainly not about rejecting authority or maximized social liberties.

    Basically I’d say you don’t fit anywhere in the American political spectrum. Your moments of downright contempt for those who do fit in the American political spectrum got intense enough, IMO, it was the right thing to stop reading you. And I’ll stop there as TMLutas said it better.

    • Marthe Lépine

      Since I am a Canadian, I just read with amusement Mark’s comments about people on both sides of the American poltical spectrum… And often enough (but not always), I either agree, or find that Mark’s comments are mild compared to my own opinions… And this brings to mind Jesus’ admonition to clearly say “yes” when we mean “yes” and “no” when we mean “no” (or something to that effect) without cloaking our comments in political correctness in order to not annoy anyone.

  • $122192976

    So Mark…what are your insights regarding Pope Francis’s sacking of the Paraguayan Bishop. And Burke the previous week. How long can you spin away what is becoming clear to many people, including Libruls.

    The Pope clearly put immediate and superficial Paraguayan unity over a more substantial unity with the truth of the Church.

    At this point, given the material shared publicly, it was either an act of cowardice by the Pope, or worse: cooperation with terminally divisive forces in power in the Paraguayan Catholic Church.

  • Jonk

    There are a lot of shortcuts we take in pigeon-holing people based on our interpretation of their views, rather than who they actually are. You’re the “damn librul” who worships the state from whom all blessings flow, rather than someone who simply views the power of the state as the quickest way to effect economic justice for all, and is willing to make some strange bedfellows on the political left to do it. I’m the Ayn Rand-worshipping egoist who hates charity and believes the only true human institution is the individual, rather than the Hayekian who is incredibly skeptical of all central planning, respects the organic institutions and economic decisions people make, and believes that governments must meet a high bar before visiting violence on anyone, whether that’s on foreign countries in war or their own people by means of taxation.

    This is a good reminder that maybe we should all check our stereotypes and pigeon holes, even if it is harder to do in a comment box than it is over a beer.

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    If the conservatives think you’re a liberal pinko and the liberals think you’re a right wingnut, you’re probably doing something right.

    • StumbleBumble

      Amen to that!

  • ivan_the_mad

    Because all too many are ideologues: “Ideology inherits the fanaticism that sometimes has afflicted religious faith, and applies that intolerant belief to concerns secular.” And as they continuously remind you, “[i]deologues vie one with another in fancied fidelity to their Absolute Truth; and they are quick to denounce deviationists or defectors from their party orthodoxy.” — Russell Kirk, The Errors of Ideology

  • Elmwood

    my thought about a potential “conservative” or reactionary problem in the church is that it may stem from our nation’s history of anti-catholicism. america for better or worse, is a protestant nation where catholics were forced to prove themselves as being true americans. looking at americanist prelates like cardinal gibbons and archbishop ireland, we can see how they felt pressured to compromise a catholic culture in order for catholic immigrants to fit in. I think in the end, this has led to a greater cafeteria approach to our faith than may be seen in other countries, of course this is just conjecture.

    i also wonder how politicized EWTN/Catholic Register has become when they seem to obsess over the HHS mandate, Hobby Lobby, and on pro-abortion (i.e. democrat) politicians. Was EWTN critical of the Iraq War or are they critical about our nation’s outrageous military budget?

    • Joseph

      “I think in the end, this has led to a greater cafeteria approach to our faith than may be seen in other countries, of course this is just conjecture.”
      I’d have to say that it is conjecture. Cafeteria Catholicism knows no boundaries. Here in Ireland, just about everyone is a cafeteria Catholic, both young and old. Priests here are in completely open dissent. I haven’t spent as much time on the mainland to know how it fares there, but the time I have spent there revealed a dying Catholicism that dissenting priests have had on life support by trying to make the Church relevant. Those in my age group simply laugh and scoff at them and have given up entirely on Catholicism, only using it for weddings and confirmations. Europe, much like the US, is eager to fit in with popular culture, and right now it’s very popular to be anti-Catholic. If Protestants had the ability to put forward some intelligent arguments, they’d have a field day here, but they simply ride the popular anti-Catholic wave while competing with the dissenting priests and their kumaya ceremonies… which makes them look silly.
      The fact is, people *crave* truth. Especially the younger generation that have been raised in a morally obtuse world, but when they see these contemporary attempts to *sell* them the faith, it actually works to turn them away. Islam is doing a better job of evangelisation because they deal in absolutes… that’s what people are seeking. They know that *grey* isn’t reality.

      • Elmwood

        there is no doubt that people are more religious in america, but i wonder if our religiosity is more politicized than elsewhere. some commentators here seem to hint at that. you have catholics here who are very angry at catholic immigrants when our faith informs us to welcome the stranger.

        • Joseph

          It definitely is more politicised in America. That’s the problem, and the difference. Where piety exists in the US, it is married to politics. It doesn’t seem to be that way in Europe.

  • Andy

    The issue is not as Mark has stated is not conservative – it is what pass today for conservative “thought” – conservative thought such as it is today seems wrapped up in economic Darwinism, always backed with those who disagree do not have sufficient economic knowledge, lack of compassion for those not like today’s conservatives, always supported with we have to protect America as we know/knew it, repudiation of solidarity and replacement with subsidiarily only. and an insane belief that those who do not agree with the great conservative thinkers of today must be destroyed, rather than reasoned with, coupled with an echo chamber mentality. Today’s conservatives, or at least those who claim to be conservatives seem to me to be self-serving libertarians.

  • Gillis Harp

    Stick to your principles, Mark. Your experience simply confirms how bogus/inauthentic so much American ‘conservatism’ is these days.

  • KM

    When Mark writes about the diseased state of modern American “conservatism,” I don’t instantly think: oh that must mean Mark’s a liberal. I consider that Mark is trying to do an “intervention:” he’s trying to issue an wake-up call. He’s saying, “For the love of God, please get help because as a Catholic I cannot support this.”

    But I think it’s too late for what is currently defined as American “conservatism.” Today a conservative writer (but not a Republican in his own words) at National Review — yes, National Review — tweeted that women who’ve had abortions ought to be hanged. One would think, oh he’s just trolling or joking, but apparently he was serious and dug in deeper.
    It’s causing quite a twitter storm this morning.

    So does this make me, Mark or anyone horrified by the “thought” and rhetoric of modern conservatism into pro-abortion liberals to say that this goes beyond all sanity and reason? No, it doesn’t. Please National Review and modern American “conservatives,” we’re begging you, stop the crazy.

    • Andy

      very well said!

      • KM

        Thanks, Andy. I’m sure someone will say that I’m a liberal because I linked to a liberal website. I only chose that site because it had the best synopsis of the recent twitter kerfuffle.

        • Andy

          Ah yes – the issue with the heretic information cite – how silly of me to forget. Only certain sites are worthy – Naitonal Review for example.
          By the way I don see a liberal – I see a concerned human.

    • Joseph

      Totally agree.

  • cmfe

    Both “conservative” and “liberal” perspectives represent a particular political agenda and are inadequate for articulating an authentic Catholic perspective. We try to put an ocean into a thimble when we do, hence the understandable confusion.

  • Paul

    Perhaps this might help…..

    • Paul


      • Paul

        third times a charm….

        • Paul

          …there is one thing I hate…..this commenting software’s ability to handle digital images……

          • Dave G.

            It came up once. Looks good. But fact is, there are many little circles around that big circle, and chances are we’re in one or more of them, as much as we might like to think we’re the ones who are right there between the H and the U.

  • Morgan Wolff

    Yeah, it’s tough to settle Catholic teaching with U.S. culture and mindset. There is no Catholic party and even if there were there would be huge numbers of Catholics who would identify it as not truly being Catholic. The Church, especially the Church in the United States, is a herd of cats. It’s tough to agree on issues because we think every voice should be heard and Catholics cut across all social, geographic, ethnic, and economic strata (am I using that correctly?). Catholic teaching is supposed to be…big shock coming…universal. However, we are notoriously terrible at applying it universally because of our various other tribal allegiances, not to mention good ol’ self interest. I wouldn’t sweat it, Mark. If you’re writing in union with the mind of the Church and only attract a few insults you’re getting a flick to the nose in an arena where others have been burned alive.

  • ImTim

    Just the sort of post I would expect from a secret-closet neo-liberal. /end sarcasm/