Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Friday, August 04, 2006

In even, measured tones...

OK.

I have sat on this for what I believe to be a sufficient amount of time. But something has been bothering me for some time, and which I have addressed peripherally in previous occasions.

To those of you who've gotten the complete dose via email, etc., my apologies. Those on the opposite side of my views, I am trying to write in a calm and charitable manner, even though my natural impulses would have me proceeding in a, um, sharper way. I apologize if I inadvertently express myself in an untoward way. My intention is not to conquer but to convince.

There seems to be, in some quarters, the general sort of mindset that seeks to find in one's religious beliefs a validation for one's political, social and economic beliefs. That is to say, many people who are pro-widget and anti-gizmo will gravitate to religious worldviews which couple themselves neatly to pro-widgetry and anti-gizmotivity. Which is exactly bass-ackwards.

One's religious convictions ought be held on the basis of what one holds to be true about God and His relationship to human beings, and let everything else fall where it may. By this I mean we must have a theocentric view of God's ordained will. "Thus saith the Lord" (the religion equivalent of "Because I'm the Dad and I say so.") ought suffice for us, even though it doesn't. To proceed otherwise is, simply, egolatry.

Why do I believe gluttony is wrong? Because it is my understanding that's God's ordained will. If God was silent on the matter, I assure you my views would be otherwise. But based on what I understand about God and His revelation, I have no choice but to nod assent. What I am careful about is not interjecting my political views into my religious views so as to massage God's will to mine. I have a feeling He might not care for that.

So we come to the Peace 'n' Justice type of Christian.

It is here I have great difficulty "maintaining an even strain." First, because among these brethren is the not-so-unspoken assumption that to disagree with the solutions is to be in militant opposition with the stated goals of securing peace and affording justice to all. Sadly, these solutions often have little basis in reality and even less basis in doctrine. I remember reading, a lo-o-o-o-o-ong time ago, someone reply to a blog entry about how he had left a certain parish because, although this parish was wonderful in its adherence to Catholic identity, its zeal in opposing abortion, etc., it still "was blind to the root causes of poverty."

[Editorial] The root causes of poverty are the artificial "barriers to entry" placed by governments to eliminate or minimize classical--not "laissez faire"--capitalism*. Poor countries are rife with them, affluent countries have almost none. Next question.[/Editorial]

The problem with this mindset is how easily it segues into arrogance. We have seen recently how some have decided that those who oppose abortion as well as solutions which rely on the police power of the state for their implementation are not "pro-life" but merely "pro-birth." Color me cynical, but I believe the God who instilled a soul on every human body wants more for His children than the hay and barns a Federal Plantation promises. To be truly pro-life is not to embrace all manner of collectivism, but to engage INDIVIDUALLY into bringing peace and justice to those who have been deprived of them.

Christ commands us--individually--to feed, clothe, quench, etc. not to demand the government do it and compel all to subsidize it. This is why we have been given Free Will. We may freely choose to visit (or not) peace and justice to our fellows. To have structures in place which involuntarily extract from people the means to attempt (invariably with little success) this removes our free will from the equation. Besides being almost certainly ineffectual and inefficient**, it also gives those who provide the resources being distributed a false sense of fulfilled responsibility. "Why, yes Lord, I have fed/clothed/quenched...it's right here on my 1040 long form. Please let me know if You would like receipts." There's a reason why it's called the Seat of Judgment and not the Seat of Audit.

To make matters worse, those of us with different solutions often feel compelled to issue our bona fides. In fact, I almost started off that way...but I don't have to give an accounting to anyone save Our Lord. Whatever I do I don't do for the benefit of onlookers, but to glorify Him by using the blessings which He has bestowed upon me--quite undeservedly--to help others find Him, help the workers in His vineyard reach more souls and, I pray, save as many souls as possible. While I will never be 100% comfortable with having done all I could (I'm relying on His mercy on this) I am comfortable that whatever I have done is for actual good and not merely to assuage my ego.

What I find upsetting is the outlook which reads more into doctrine than is really there. Just because capital punishment is almost always wrong doesn't mean it's invariably immoral. Just because war is almost always wrong doesn't mean it's never justifiable. To point this out is tantamount to heresy in the eyes of many. What is curious, however, is how silent the adherents of these views are on THE grave evil of our age: abortion.

All the people executed throughout the world combined with all the deaths in war-torn places cannot even approach the number of unborn children killed by the abortion industry under the uncomfortable gaze of a passive and morally discombobulated population in the USA alone. You'd figure the largest, most unambiguously immoral evil would get tackled first, and we could discuss the specifics of the more ambiguous other matters later.

Also, it seems that doctrine is often touted whenever it's convenient for the adherents of a certain view, but quietly put back behind glass in other matters, replaced by a heterodoxy (benign or otherwise) which has more to do with the approval of the world and, I fear, its ruler. You may be certain you're about to get a screenful of this when you see the argument "I don't see why someone can't be both orthodox and traditional as well as 'progressive'." Which is perfectly true in theory, I'm sure...but I'd be a whole lot more convinced if I were to see such a thing.

Lastly, what really gets me having to take deep and calming breaths is that I feel (and have felt) compelled to say "I'm all in favor of peace and of justice" as if that were necessary of anyone who deeply believes in the Gospel, but having a different outlook on how to bring about the message of Christ and cary out His commandments requires a sheepish apology therefor.

AMDG,

-J.

* Do not even ponder possibly entertaining the merest suspicion of confusing these two. I'm trying to remain calm ovah heah, and provocation is both uncharitable and counterproductive.

** I am adamantly of the opinion that a population that tithes is a population that needn't be taxed between 50%-55%.

4 Comments:

  • At 11:49 PM, August 04, 2006 , Blogger Rob said...

    To those who are "pro-choice" and "anti-death penalty":

    If I am willing to murder my own child, why should I care about a convicted felon? Kill 'em all.

    You cannot begin to feel compassion for the depraved unless you already feel compassion for the innocent.

     
  • At 12:09 AM, August 23, 2006 , Blogger Mister Know It All said...

    I thought you were going to counter the Church's general peace and justice initiatives with the need to ensure that members of the Body are saved.

    But then you got onto the subject of taxes and tithing.

    Are you saying peace and justice initiatives are less important than pro-life work, and if so, why? And not from an economic standpoint, please, but the Church's.

     
  • At 12:39 AM, August 23, 2006 , Blogger Joe said...

    There's nothing as important as pro-life work.

    That said, I'd love to address the matter of the relative importance of peace 'n' justice initiatives...but I'm unclear whether you are referring to those initiatives which do nothing but make their collectivist adherents feel good, or those initiatives that actually result in things being more peaceful and more just.

    Because, I gotta tell ya, I don't think much of the former and I've never seen a real example of the latter.

    AMDG,

    -J.

    P.S. I mentioned the matter of tithing vs. taxation in a footnote. How that becomes "getting on the subject" is something of a sealed book to me.

     
  • At 1:48 PM, April 06, 2013 , Blogger gnelson said...

    That was a great post. You should blog more regularly. Or write a book or something. I liked this bit especially: "Christ commands us--individually--to feed, clothe, quench, etc. not to demand the government do it and compel all to subsidize it. This is why we have been given Free Will. We may freely choose to visit (or not) peace and justice to our fellows. To have structures in place which involuntarily extract from people the means to attempt (invariably with little success) this removes our free will from the equation. Besides being almost certainly ineffectual and inefficient**, it also gives those who provide the resources being distributed a false sense of fulfilled responsibility. "Why, yes Lord, I have fed/clothed/quenched...it's right here on my 1040 long form. Please let me know if You would like receipts." There's a reason why it's called the Seat of Judgment and not the Seat of Audit." Funny and to the point. And yes to what you said about bona fides. Whenever I do something awesome in that department, it just goes right to my head.

     

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