Something for the Feast of Stephen

Something for the Feast of Stephen December 26, 2014

The difference between the values exalted by a Christian civilization:

And those of a post-Christian Civilization:

Largest Homeless Camp in US Evicted to Make Way for Tech Billionaires

Oh, and on a completely unrelated note:

French Homeless Forced to Wear ‘Yellow Triangles’

Christian civilization, grappling with the problem of the poor we have with us always invented things like the hospital, orphanage and university system.

Our post-Christian civilization is feeling its way toward more Final Solutions for the weak.

But it is never too late to strike a blow for the Kingdom of Heaven, aka the Kingdom of the King who, for our sake, became poor that we might become rich.

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  • Paxton Reis

    “Life must be met with goodness, with meekness. When we realise that God is in love with our smallness, that he made himself small in order to better encounter us, we cannot help but open our hearts to him, and beseech him: “Lord, help me to be like you, give me the grace of tenderness in the most difficult circumstances of life, give me the grace of closeness in the face of every need, of meekness in every conflict”.”

    Pope Francis

  • kenofken

    The problem with this Christianity vs post-Christian evil is that a very solid majority of devout Christians in this country have been, bar none, the most strident and effective advocates of Social Darwinism which now informs our political and legal systems.

    • Dan13

      That’s a fair point. Our retort is those people are “doing Christianity wrong”–either because they have heretical beliefs that eschew “love your neighbor” or they are hypocrites* (e.g., some conservative Catholics). Essentially, these are people who “love God” but don’t love their neighbor (of course, by not loving their neighbor, they aren’t loving God either).

      The secular humanist, on the other hand, espouses to love his neighbor but doesn’t love God. The Christian fear to secular humanism is twofold. First, we think that “loving your neighbor” can become sentimental arbitrariness. Second, it is questionable whether secular humanism has any staying power. Will secular humanism last or will it shift into a cruel hedonism such as the links Mark posted suggest?

      *All Christians are, of course, hypocrites to some extent.

      • D.T. McCameron

        “Hypocrisy is not the failure to practice what you preach but the failure to believe it. Hypocrisy is propaganda.” – Peter Kreeft

        • Dave G.

          Thanks. Too often and for too many years the charge hypocrisy was simply a thinly veiled attack on the values in question. People who believe adultery is wrong sometimes have affairs, therefore only hypocrites believe adultery is wrong. Not quite that flagrant, but that was often the assumption you came away with.

          • Dan13

            “Too often and for too many years the charge hypocrisy was simply a thinly veiled attack on the values in question.”

            Well yes. And in this environment, the only certain ways to escape charges of hypocrisy are to be an absolute saint or to stand for amorality. If we espouse values, we will certainly fail to uphold some of them in our daily lives. But this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t espouse them.

            • Dave G.

              You’re absolutely right.

        • Dan13

          Most people have added believing in X but doing “not X” to its definition, which is how I’m using it. It is a bit analogous to “jealousy” and “envy,” which used to mean two different things but have merged in popular usage to practically become synonyms.

          In this manner hypocrisy can be synonymous with sin–which is why I mentioned that all Christians are hypocrites, because all Christians are sinners.

      • Jonk

        Because the people who have said the practice of putting government between the poor and their neighbors was fundamentally dehumanizing and desensitizing, and would naturally result in atrocities like those mentioned above are obviously heretics and hypocrites, and can’t possibly be on to something about how using the wrong institution to do the right thing ends up wrong in the end.

        • Dan13

          Note I wrote “some,” not all. There’s a difference between “compassionate conservatives” who believe the poor should be helped and conservatives who despise the poor. The latter are social Darwinists. The former (who I assume you are one) are certainly not. I do disagree with compassionate conservative in that I believe government is needed to address structural inequities, but I believe that is what Catholics call a “prudential disagreement.”

          Anyway, similar charges of social Darwinism can be levied against progressive Christians who support abortion and euthanasia.

    • This situation is several kinds of messed up but I’m not detecting a lot of social darwinism. What are you talking about? Clearing out squatters so they never acquire adverse possession rights is generally not considered social darwinism.

  • David Naas

    OK, fine-all for the Rovers, but I like this one better.

  • Just to inject a little reality into the proceedings, ‘the Jungle’ is a collection of properties in Santa Clara county inside the city of San Jose. The city of San Jose has owned this property according to the assessor’s office since 1/1/73, or 42 years. The Jungle is, apparently, periodically cleared of homeless according to news reports. The homeless have no practical way to secure property rights to their improvements and are thus, periodically despoiled in the language of the Apericida document that Pope Francis has suggested is a good window into his views on economics.

    Under a ‘free market’ or US ‘conservative’ regime, this wouldn’t be happening because the city would have sold off the land decades ago to put up something else. This might provoke different problems but that’s a tale for another day. Virtually all the stories I skimmed to get a feel for the coverage neglected to mention that this is all public land that has been in the city’s hands for almost half a century.

    The traditional american solutions of homesteading, adverse possession, or adjusting the law to comply with the facts on the ground have all been held off. The city neither wants to put up housing nor does it seem to want to allow a neighborhood to arise.

    The idea that ‘tech billionaires’ are taking over the land to develop something there seems to be a complete fiction. Other than headlines to draw clicks there is nothing. There are no investor names, no project names or descriptions, no developer named, no land use hearings mentioned, none of the signs of actual private development by anybody. In other words, it’s a bit of ‘two minutes hate’ to stir up those orwellian juices.

    Significant numbers of private landowners would be ecstatic to band together and sell their properties to build more dense developments that would make housing more affordable to San Jose. They aren’t allowed due to the land use regulations. This bumps everybody down the housing chain and you get more homeless than otherwise would be the case. Development restrictions did go on the ballot some time ago in order allow more development but was voted down.

    The US’ deranged mental illness policies already guarantee a rich population of mentally ill homeless which is its own separate scandal. This zoning caused housing shortage is on top of that.

    So let’s face the reality that this is public land that the city is evicting the homeless from because otherwise the poor could homestead it. This resistance to further development is popular and is of decades long standing. This has been going on since at least the 1980s, otherwise people would have taken it in adverse possession. Unless the people accept more development, high housing prices will continue and there’s not a lot to be done about it.

    San Jose is in a beautiful, but geologically dangerous area. There is a certain amount of extra expense associated with dealing with the earthquakes. People who can’t afford to build earthquake safe shouldn’t be there.