On Avarice

On Avarice February 17, 2011

The same Abba Isaiah, when someone asked him what avarice was, replied, ‘Not to believe that God cares for you, to despair of the promises of God and to love boasting.’[1]

Avarice (or greed) is one of the eight deadly sins. For those exploring the spiritual life, the eight deadly sins are the fundamental sins which one must overcome in one’s life if one wants to attain purity of soul. They are the eight major root sins; from them, other sins flow. This is what makes them so deadly. They destroy one’s relationship with God. They kill the soul, and so we must fear them: “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

By following one of the root vices one’s perception of the world changes. The world is seen in and through the lens of sin. They become never-ending desires, bottomless spiritual pits. They demand us to sacrifice some aspect of ourselves to them, and we get some temporary pleasure from them in return. That pleasure, however, is momentary, requiring us to sacrifice more and more of ourselves to the sinful desire, until at last, we end up sacrificing our conscience, and we end up willing to do all kinds of evil for the pleasure the vice offers us.

Those sins which encourage us to do other sins must be seen as more deadly to the soul than those sins which end in the performance of the sin itself. The root vices are the eight deadliest sins to the soul because of how all other sins can and do flow from them. What comes out of them must be accredited to them, for effects are, in a way, already pre-conceived in the cause which leads to it. Thus, while abortion is a grave evil, what causes one to have an abortion is far deadlier to the soul than the abortion itself, because what causes one to have an abortion causes one to follow many other sins as well. If we can overcome the eight deadly sins in our lives, then the secondary sins which flow from them can be stopped as well. Our fight therefore must focus on the root sins of gluttony, fornication, avarice, anger, despair, acedia, vainglory and pride if we want a healthy soul.

Now, Abba Isaiah explains to us what avarice is, not by giving us a definition of the word, but by telling us what factors lead to its development. This is an interesting but important approach. It shows us that even the eight deadly sins have causes of their own. If we understand what leads us to the root vices, what makes us engage them, we will have a far better understanding of how we can overcome them in our lives. So, what does Abba Isaiah tell us about avarice? People engage avarice when they do not have proper faith and trust in God. People accumulate wealth because it provides a sense of security. Those who have faith and trust in God will feel such security without need of wealth. They will keep in mind what Jesus said:

Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass which is alive in the field today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O men of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be of anxious mind. For all the nations of the world seek these things; and your Father knows that you need them  (Luke 12:27 – 30).

Even though we might intellectually understand what Christ told us, and understand it to some degree, it is difficult to live out. We are weak in faith. We do not know how to properly trust God. So we end up trying to do everything ourselves. We seek security, and our wealth becomes the means by which we attain that sense of security. Yet, the more wealth we have, the more we find out we do not have enough. The more insecure we can and do become. The more we desire, the more we wish to accumulate, and, as to be expected with the deadly sins, the more likely we are to follow through with other sins in order to gain the wealth we want so as to feel secure in this life.

Eventually, something changes in us. When we find ourselves having achieved a great amount of wealth, though we still seek to attain more to make sure we are secure, we begin to see ourselves as special. We start looking at ourselves as having attained the good life, and we like to let others know it. We boast to those who we feel we have become superior to because of our wealth. But once we start boasting, we again feel the need to attain more wealth, so that we can boast of our accomplishments to more people. This aspect of avarice is always there, though it becomes more evident the more wealth we have.

It is important to realize what Abba Isaiah says about avarice should be seen as a diagnosis of our society at large. Capitalism is about the accumulation of wealth, about the attainment of goods, and the more one accumulates, the more one is seen to have proven themselves to one’s peers: the more we own, the more successful our lives appear to others. Yet, why do we follow through and look for success in this way? Because we have lost our faith in God. Capitalism offers something else for us to put our faith in: indeed, we are told that the accumulation of goods leads to earthly happiness. Avarice is encouraged, and seen no longer as a vice, but as a good. The moral decay which flows from this should not be a surprise. It does no good to speak against vices one does not like, if one keeps praising the social condition, the capitalistic society, which creates them. Those who keep defending the capitalist way of life, ultimately, are defending the vices which flow out of it.

If one has been poisoned, one must first eliminate that poison. If we want a better, more moral world, we must eliminate the poison of avarice, both in ourselves, and in society at large.


[1] The Sayings of the Desert Fathers. Trans. Benedicta Ward (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 1984), 70.

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  • One of my favorite saying is thus ” I have never seen a U-Haul following a hearse “.

    Great post.

    • A Byzantine-Franciscan priest I know, who used to pastor the parish I went to, loved to use that saying in his homilies.

  • “Those who keep defending the capitalist way of life, ultimately, are defending the vices which flow out of it.”

    I consider that an overstatement, sort of like saying that people who defend the use of alcohol are also defending the vices that sometimes flow out of alcohol use.

    • Agellius

      Capitalism is centered upon avarice, a sin. Drinking alcohol is not, in itself, a sin.

      • Henry writes, “Capitalism is centered upon avarice, a sin.”

        I think that depends on how you define “capitalism”. Wikipedia notes: “There is no consensus on the precise definition of capitalism, nor how the term should be used as an analytical category.” (Footnoted source is “The Idea of Capitalism before the Industrial Revolution. Critical Issues in History. Lanham, Md: Rowman and Littlefield, 1999, p. 1.”)

        Naturally if you define “capitalism” as “the economic system of which avarice is the central component”, then your statements about it are irrefutable.

        For my part I do not accept that it’s necessarily “centered on avarice”. The desire to make money, as much as possible and as efficiently as possible, is not identical with avarice. Avarice is not the desire for money per se, but the *inordinate* love of and desire for wealth.

        A system, even if designed and intended to be the most efficient means of creating and distributing wealth, cannot of itself be an avaricious system. Only people can be avaricious, because only people can desire and love wealth inordinately. And you can only judge their avariciousness on a case-by-case basis. Two men may be equally rich, yet one may be avaricious and the other not.

        • Seriously, we need to pull our axes out of the dead horse and confront our “adversaries” the ones who say they don’t like abortion but support the right to choose. Approach them and say we are going to prove our love and we ask you to help us prove yours.

          Then focus on the root causes, poverty, ignorance, pain, pathetic parenting, lack of purpose (that is a big one) and on and on, etc. and ask them to work with us.

          And if they do not help, we need to do it ourselves. Not just politically, that after all is the devil’s playing field, but most importantly every day in our lives.

          We need to call out all Catholics and ask them what are you doing to show your love?

          We need to turn this ship of ugliness around now.

          And to demonstrate it, Henry I will start using Age if I go with a nickname at all. I can do my part. Each journey begins with the first step,

          • Gisher writes, “And to demonstrate it, Henry I will start using Age if I go with a nickname at all. I can do my part. Each journey begins with the first step”.

            I agree that courtesy and mutual respect in comboxes is an excellent place to start. If we can’t even do that, then an ambitious program of changing the world through the power of love doesn’t seem to stand much of a chance.

        • Ambitious possibly, but as I proved “Age” miracles can happen. It’s not like the old methods have done anything but introduce more trouble anyway.

      • I should say it is a good thing drinking of alcohol is not in itself, a sin otherwise I might know several priests who might be in dire need of a little bit of absolution:)

    • What exactly is supposed to be our goal as Catholics? Is our mission here to maximize profits or to maximize love? Clue me as to your thoughts Aggie.

      • Aggie? Really?

        • Even though you may think I view you as a pest, I am becoming quite fond of you. Not quite as much as Thales mind you, but fond nonetheless. So yes Aggie, a true term of endearment.

          • Gisher: I would prefer you didn’t use that name, please. It sounds feminine to me. Thanks.

            If you want to shorten my name you could call me “Age”.

        • Age is lifeless and cold. Deep down behind that very well fortified skull and slightly crusty and jaded heart, is a real lover, a real sweetheart just waiting to be acknowledged for the truly decent person you are inside. Besides, I really do love bovines.

          Aggie. It’s got love.

          • Gisher

            While I think Aggie has a nice appeal, and reminds me of Texas, for the sake of charity, it might be best just to not use it; you might want to find something else as a term of endearment.

  • MarkH

    “Capitalism is centered upon avarice, a sin.”

    Not according to the Catholic Church, though. CCC 2425 reads “[The Church] has likewise refused to accept, in the practice of “capitalism,” individualism and the absolute primacy of the law of the marketplace over human labor.”

    This is not at all a blanket condemnation of Capitalism, but only of its excesses. The comparison to the Church teaching on alcohol versus its abuse is spot on.

    • MarkH

      What you have said has not repudiated what I said about avarice as being behind the capitalistic enterprise. Moreover, I do not know if you understand what capitalism is, or if you, like many others, confuse “free market” with “capitalism.” They are not the same. You would do well to read beyond the catechism, when the Popes speak of capitalism — when you do that, you will see it is seen to cause as much a problem as socialism, as twin shipwrecks which are causing damage to the modern world and the dignity of the human person.

      What exactly is capitalism about? It is the production of wealth for the sake of the production of wealth, using the most efficient means possible. Why would one want to do this, what leads one to follow such a path? Avarice. Capitalism, as capitalism, knows no universal distribution of goods, no social dimension which regulates the capitalistic enterprise. Those who are most successful are the most cut-throat, those who have moral qualms get ground up. This is capitalism at its root. Capitalism ends up saying everything has a price, including morality, and if you can’t afford it, that is your problem.

      • For example:

        Many other people, while not completely marginalized, live in situations in which the struggle for a bare minimum is uppermost. These are situations in which the rules of the earliest period of capitalism still flourish in conditions of “ruthlessness” in no way inferior to the darkest moments of the first phase of industrialization. In other cases the land is still the central element in the economic process, but those who cultivate it are excluded from ownership and are reduced to a state of quasi-servitude.71 In these cases, it is still possible today, as in the days of Rerum novarum, to speak of inhuman exploitation. In spite of the great changes which have taken place in the more advanced societies, the human inadequacies of capitalism and the resulting domination of things over people are far from disappearing. In fact, for the poor, to the lack of material goods has been added a lack of knowledge and training which prevents them from escaping their state of humiliating subjection.

        Centesimus annus 33.

        In this sense, it is right to speak of a struggle against an economic system, if the latter is understood as a method of upholding the absolute predominance of capital, the possession of the means of production and of the land, in contrast to the free and personal nature of human work.73 In the struggle against such a system, what is being proposed as an alternative is not the socialist system, which in fact turns out to be State capitalism, but rather a society of free work, of enterprise and of participation. Such a society is not directed against the market, but demands that the market be appropriately controlled by the forces of society and by the State, so as to guarantee that the basic needs of the whole of society are satisfied.

        ibid 35

        Or how about this from Pope Benedict XVI

        As a first step, we can respond to this question with another: what is this “reality”? What is real? Are only material goods, social, economic and political problems “reality”? This was precisely the great error of the dominant tendencies of the last century, a most destructive error, as we can see from the results of both Marxist and capitalist systems. They falsify the notion of reality by detaching it from the foundational and decisive reality which is God. Anyone who excludes God from his horizons falsifies the notion of “reality” and, in consequence, can only end up in blind alleys or with recipes for destruction.

        […]

        Both capitalism and Marxism promised to point out the path for the creation of just structures, and they declared that these, once established, would function by themselves; they declared that not only would they have no need of any prior individual morality, but that they would promote a communal morality. And this ideological promise has been proved false. The facts have clearly demonstrated it. The Marxist system, where it found its way into government, not only left a sad heritage of economic and ecological destruction, but also a painful oppression of souls. And we can also see the same thing happening in the West, where the distance between rich and poor is growing constantly, and giving rise to a worrying degradation of personal dignity through drugs, alcohol and deceptive illusions of happiness.

        http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2007/may/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20070513_conference-aparecida_en.html

    • “[The Church] has likewise refused to accept, in the practice of “capitalism,” individualism and the absolute primacy of the law of the marketplace over human labor.”

      Doesn’t sound even remotely like a love letter to capitalism to me but lets go further to a definition:

      avarice: an inordinate desire to acquire or possess more than one needs or deserves, especially with respect to material wealth.

      Now let me ask you, do all good capitalists stop with just what they need to survive and then turn the rest over to their fellow man?

      Would you dare honestly say that for me now?

      Capitalism is indeed centered and built upon avarice, a sin. Maybe you have a different definition of what wealth beyond need is, but Henry is spot on. I will roll with Henry.

  • Henry writes, “Capitalism, as capitalism, knows no universal distribution of goods…”

    And yet capitalistic countries generally have the lowest levels of poverty.

    Let me make myself clear: I am not a champion of capitalism per se. In practice it has many flaws and leads to some bad results. I just reject your contention that someone who defends capitalism, in doing so necessarily defends avarice.

    • I might point out that both the U.S., Canada, GB are not now, nor have they recently been pure examples of Capitalism. All are hybrids and have ample amounts of socialism mixed in.

      A pure capitalistic society is pure dog eat dog, and that would mean no public firefighters, policemen, no government funded military, no social security, no grants, aids, loans, subsidies for big business.

      To attribute lower levels of poverty to capitalism is not based on facts nor does it recognize the primary goals and tenets of capitalism. I might add that poverty has been rising in the United States for well over a decade now.

      Capitalism is not a system that calls for the winners to evenly distribute all gains beyond need to the poor, so it clearly fits into the classical definition of avarice.

      I might also add that Church doctrine does not fawn upon nor support capitalism. It quite obviously frowns upon the practice, and if you desire, I can start posting ad hoc from the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the church to support my argument if you would like.

    • Frankly Aggie, Henry scored with this post. In fact, I am in deep need of confessional as I am green with envy. You and your posse should get out your microscopes and parse his post for weeks till it sinks in.

      He has shined a light on the pathway. I think another guy, can’t quite remember his name now, but another guy did this about 2000 years ago.

      Love is the solution. You can keep flailing away at a symptom, or you can start providing the cure for the disease.

      • Gisher: As stated previously, I was addressing a single statement of Henry’s on logical grounds. This is not (from my perspective) a general debate on the merits or demerits of capitalism per se.

        • Nah, of course not, and would be entirely uncivil for me not to allow you to perform another one of your patented and most delicate of distancing maneuvers.

          I am thinking of getting you one of those beep generators so that we can avoid harm to anyone behind you in the future:)

          • Yeah, I think I’m going to start ignoring you for a while. I wish you well, but it does neither of us any good to engage in this kind of snippiness and sarcasm. God bless.

          • It was not snippy and it was blatantly honest. It was intended to be all good matured fun, and the most gentle of pokes. I do not employ such humor against persons whom I dislike.

            Those people I attempt to shred like a cheap suit.

            You sir, I do see great good in you, I do also see (cough) love. I also see someone who when faced with the choice of Church doctrine and political dogma will come home to God every time.

            I do so hope I have not misread you good sir.

  • I might also add for all those good Catholics who are focused on abortion like a laser beam, Henry has done a much better job here of addressing that, than I have ever been able to do anywhere including on VN. He has made it so very simple to understand. He has pointed to how you really do stop abortions.

    You folks are all focused on a symptom (abortion), trying to stop the symptom, but the diseases that caused them will remain even if you eradicate the symptom, and that you will only succeed in doing so temporarily if you ever do at all.

    You do not treat a lung infection by giving someone cough syrup but that many good Catholics are effectively doing, they are just trying to stop the coughing.

    If you back away from the tree and look at the forest. When you find the source of the disease, only then will you cure it. I can tell you that love will somehow be involved in the cure and hate and anger will be nowhere to be found amongst the hearts of the “doctors”.

  • Age, my friend–
    All you need to do is look around you, at the actual conditions on the ground of the society in which you live, and ask yourself if capitalism, as practiced in the most free nation in the history of the world (so I’m told), has distributed wealth equitably. I would contend that it will not take you long to discover that it has not.
    By constrast, the soft-core socialism of Western Europe has done a much better job of eliminating hard-core poverty and ghettos of the hopeless.
    This country is also allegedly the most religious nation in the free world. So, you’ve got freedom, capitalism, and Christianity in abundance here–and millions of the poor who live without either the means or any realistic hope of overcoming their dire situation.
    Those are the facts: let’s see you reconcile them with your rap.

    • Rodak:

      As I told Gisher, I joined this thread for one purpose: To dispute Henry’s contention that defending capitalism necessarily involves defending avarice.

      However, you write, “All you need to do is look around you, at the actual conditions on the ground of the society in which you live, and ask yourself if capitalism, as practiced in the most free nation in the history of the world (so I’m told), has distributed wealth equitably…”

      When I look around me I see more immigrants than I can count, mostly from poor countries. I see very few poor Americans trying to flee to other countries for better opportunities, as do the poor in, for example, Mexico — which as I understand it has socialized healthcare.

      “…let’s see you reconcile them with your rap.”

      ::sigh:: Apparently the Grand Project of Love still hasn’t even managed to convert the comboxes. Doesn’t bode well for the rest of the world I reckon …

  • I like this series of your posts, Henry. Well done.

  • grega

    “Apparently the Grand Project of Love still hasn’t even managed to convert the comboxes. Doesn’t bode well for the rest of the world I reckon …”
    Touchee

    • Not really, me and “Age” are getting along just swell now. Love is in the air.

  • “When I look around me I see more immigrants than I can count, mostly from poor countries.”

    Who was…now…who said something like “There is none so blind as he who will not see”…? Hmm.
    Someday, I’ll take your hand, and lead you through the Appalachian foothills, where you will see American poor people–generations of them–whose ancestors came to these shores quite possibly before yours did; at any rate, long ago. Ditto, Age, in the inner-cities; people whose ancestors where brought to these shores in chains, long before the ancestors of many of the rich (mostly Caucasian) folk for whom capitalism had proved to be a winning game.
    And all you can see are the newly-arrived Hispanics currently being villainized by the conservative propaganda mongers. Really, Age. Really?

    • Rodak writes, “And all you can see are the newly-arrived Hispanics currently being villainized by the conservative propaganda mongers. Really, Age. Really?”

      No, I was not talking about Hispanics primarily. They were just one example. I don’t know where you live, but in my hometown there are immigrants of virtually all colors and nationalities: Indians, Chinese, Koreans, Filipinos, Africans, Muslims of various nations, as well as Central and South Americans of every stripe. They come here in swarms. Almost as if they expect things to be much better here than at home, and are telling all their friends and family to come too.

      Too bad no one warned them how unjust things were here before they came. I’m sure they will come to regret it once they find out. When we see immigrants leaving in droves, that’s how we’ll know that they have discovered our dirty little secret. ; )

      • Aegellius–
        I certainly wouldn’t argue against an assertion that it’s better to be poor in Miami than it is to be poor in Port au Prince. That would be silly. But if ‘droves’ of foreigners are coming to these shores out of avarice, avarice is remains the issue, and all you have done is to compound the possible problem.
        The question that I asked you to address, is why, in a nationa that combines political freedom, economic capitalism, and majority Christianity, there remain so many pockets of entrenched poverty? Please, have a go at it.

        • I might add good sir, that in addition to those pockets of poverty you mention that the disparity of income is just as large a concern.

          It is downright disgusting how much wealth a mere 2% hold in this country, and that alone is quite obviously attributable to avarice but also does not bode well for even the 2% in the long run, if history is to be an accurate guide to prediction.

        • Rodak writes, “But if ‘droves’ of foreigners are coming to these shores out of avarice, avarice is remains the issue, and all you have done is to compound the possible problem.”

          Who says they’re coming out of avarice? Say, who is it that’s supposed to be villainizing immigrants again? ; )

          Rodak writes, “The question that I asked you to address, is why, in a nationa that combines political freedom, economic capitalism, and majority Christianity, there remain so many pockets of entrenched poverty? Please, have a go at it.”

          There could be a lot of reasons. But I don’t care to get into an all-out debate on economic justice. My only reason for joining this thread was to dispute Henry’s assertion that defending capitalism is defending avarice.

          • But you haven’t disputed Henry’s assertion. All you done is deflect the topic off on a tangent about 3rd world immigration.

  • Liam

    “Capitalism” is an equivocal word.

    I believe that, in Henry’s usage, it refers to an ideological, prescriptive system of thoughts (facts, principles, assumptions and beliefs).

    But it can also mean something descriptive: observations describing how human beings will tend to act under certain conditions of free action. This is truer to, say, Adam Smith, who was not a prescriptive capitalist in the modern sense, and would probably be appalled by them.

  • Gisher writes, “It was intended to be all good matured fun, and the most gentle of pokes.”

    I take your word for it, however I will still withdraw from conversation with you for my own sake. It seems to me that you have been trying to get my goat in various ways. And frankly, you got it. But the thing is, I don’t want my goat got. It tempts me to get angry and start trying to get your goat in return. Eventually we’re having an all-out sarcasm-and-insult contest. I’ve been down that road, and find that it leads nowhere except to the confessional.

    I just wanted to tell you in case you wonder why I’m not responding to you in the future. No hard feelings.

    • Oh none taken, and I will continue to address you when I feel you may have posted a logical fallacy or something that contradicts with Church doctrine, and will do so without offense that you choose not to respond. Frankly I will most often interpret the lack of response as a demonstration of wisdom on your part.

    • Dan

      Why don’t you each buy a goat? Then you’ll both have one. Remember, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goat.

      • I actually do not have a goat to get. I have some rabbits he could get, but I am too poor to afford goats. Goats are a luxury item around my house.

  • Aegellius–
    The point is that defending a system in which there is both great wealth and widespread poverty, is inescapably defending avarice. Those who possess the great wealth allow those in poverty to stay that way: that is avarice in action. If my assertion is wrong, how is it wrong?

    • Rodak writes, “The point is that defending a system in which there is both great wealth and widespread poverty, is inescapably defending avarice. Those who possess the great wealth allow those in poverty to stay that way: that is avarice in action. If my assertion is wrong, how is it wrong?”

      It may be wrong in that the one doesn’t logically follow from the other. The fact that some are rich while others are poor, does not necessarily imply that the rich ones are greedy. You may believe that they are, and I would not necessarily blame you for that belief, since I held it myself at one time. But I later came to believe that life is just not that simple.

      Now certainly I believe that some of them are greedy. And they will have to answer to God’s justice on the Last Day (as will we all for one thing or another). But I have neither the right nor the capacity to judge which ones are greedy, or that they are all greedy. I don’t judge “the system” to be greedy because systems don’t have minds and wills and therefore are incapable of greed.

      I think it’s dangerous for certain people to take it upon themselves to decide who has too much, and to force “the system” to be just (which systems are incapable of being — only people can be just or unjust), because there are liable to be unforeseen consequences. One of which might possibly be, making everyone a lot poorer than they are now. Which we have seen happen in practice when certain countries nationalized all wealth and purported to redistribute it more justly.

      I’m not saying that we should or should not raise taxes or redistribute wealth, or whatever. I’m just saying that things are not as simple as some people like to make them out, and such steps had better be taken gradually and with extreme caution, lest we upset the whole apple cart.

  • I might add w/r/t your immigration tangent, btw, that “socialist” Western Europe is also being flooded by 3rd world immigrants. Even Maoist China has a problem with N. Korean immigrants coming there to escape worse poverty at home. It’s not that the U.S. is the only magnet in the world for the poor.

    • Rodak writes, “It’s not that the U.S. is the only magnet in the world for the poor.”

      Never said it was.

  • Rodak writes, “But you haven’t disputed Henry’s assertion. All you done is deflect the topic off on a tangent about 3rd world immigration.”

    Yes, I have. See particularly my comment dated 2/17/11, 2:31 p.m. and the comments in reply.

    I brought up immigration only because you challenged me to “look around” me, at the “conditions on the ground”. For me the conditions on the ground point to the fact that people from poor countries, far from fearing injustice in this country, instead risk their lives to come here, and once they’re here find opportunity so plentiful that they send for their friends and relatives to follow them. Whereas poor people who are born here hardly ever strive to leave and go to other countries for more fairness and better opportunities.

    OK, now you’ve got me going, I’ll go all the way: Obviously income inequality exists in the U.S. My question is, could it be that the conditions that result in income inequality, also result in greater prosperity for everyone, compared with other times, places and economic systems. I submit that the “normal” state of life for human beings on planet earth, looked at from a worldwide perspective, as well as the perspective of history, is a subsistence living: barely scraping by.

    Capitalism has resulted in a system where most people are so far removed from having to worry about merely surviving, that they can afford to fritter their lives away being addicted to video games, drugs, Entertainment Tonight [is that even still on?] and professional sports. From that perspective it’s not a particularly good thing. Maybe it would be better for people to barely eke out an existence, in order to keep their minds on God, and what really matters. But you will convince very few people to live like that voluntarily.

    Yes, some Americans are a helluva lot richer than others. But hey, everyone’s eating. From the perspective of most people in most places and times, that’s pretty darn good. Which is why people everywhere are dying to imitate our economic system, and fall all over each other trying to come here, and trying to get jobs in factories when manufacturers go overseas in search of cheap labor.

    I agree with people who bemoan the fact that capitalism tends to destroy cultures, and also that it turns people’s minds away from God and true morality, and the things that really matter in life. But you know, people want money, and by and large it’s not necessarily because they’re greedy but because they don’t want to have to worry about themselves and their children going hungry.

  • Aegellius–All I’m going to say in response is this: everybody’s not eating. Nobody may be starving to death, but people are going hungry. And it’s getting worse.
    Does capitalism feed gluttony? Yes, it does. Your fifth paragraph above says that better than I could ever say it.

  • Ronald King

    I have been out of town since Friday and have not had access to a computer until now, so I apologize for not responding to those who have responded to my comments.
    Henry, once again thanks for shining the light on the domineering underlying disposition of heart that historically and currently drives the system of capitalism. Paraphrasing, we will know our hearts by knowing where we put our money.
    Gisher, I agree with you about symptoms and abortion is the obvious symptom of a world that does not love. Since we have a society that is led by and populated with concrete, linear thinkers who do not have a global perspective of how events, thoughts and feelings interconnect and affect the whole, then it seems to me that we must build a strategy based on love and ultimate self-sacrifice that supports the myopic pro-life position but lovingly influences the entire spectrum of life issues.
    Remember that movie The Day the Earth Stood Still? We have the ability to literally stop the earth from its normal operation. It is now happening in pockets and all we have to do as catholics is stop our mechanical way of life and go out on the road praying the Rosary from coast to coast. I would say more now but I have low blood sugar and must take care of the shakes.
    God Bless All of You

    • Ronald

      I am glad to see you back on; no need to apologize to anyone — we all get busy! And yes, we are called to act as catholics; I am trying to encourage this through these posts based upon the wisdom of the desert fathers. They have much to offer, and I think if people listen to all I bring out, it will help show the way we are to act (even if not monks). I’ve tried to make sure I got some of the desert mothers in there, as well, because they are easily neglected.