Epiphany/Theophany

January 6, 2010

For those of the Western liturgical tradition:

“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.”

When Herod the king had heard [these things], he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

And they said unto him, “In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, ‘And thou Bethlehem, [in] the land of Judah, art not the least among the princes of Judah: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.’”

Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, “Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found [him], bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.”

When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.” -Matthew 2:1-12 (KJV)

For those more Greek/Russian/Antiochian minded:

“In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to [our] father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and [with] fire: Whose fan [is] in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer [it to be so] now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” – Mathew 3

Whatever the tradition to mark the end of Christmastide, Merry Christmas.

Advertisements

Christmastide: Christmas

December 25, 2009

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this [shall be] a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’ And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen [it], they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard [it] wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered [them] in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.” – Luke 2: 8-20

Christmastide: Christmas Eve

December 24, 2009

“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. ([And] this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” – Luke 2:1-7

Encyclical

Part 1

Part 2

I stopped at the end of Section 27 last time, let’s see if I can finish the Chapter…

Section 28:

“Not only does the situation of poverty still provoke high rates of infant mortality in many regions, but some parts of the world still experience practices of demographic control, on the part of governments that often promote contraception and even go so far as to impose abortion. In economically developed countries, legislation contrary to life is very widespread, and it has already shaped moral attitudes and praxis, contributing to the spread of an anti-birth mentality; frequent attempts are made to export this mentality to other States as if it were a form of cultural progress.”

Amen. China’s one-child rule is evil, as is Obama’s science czar’s forced abortion ideas to fight the population bomb boogieman.

“Some non-governmental Organizations work actively to spread abortion, at times promoting the practice of sterilization in poor countries, in some cases not even informing the women concerned. Moreover, there is reason to suspect that development aid is sometimes linked to specific health-care policies which de facto involve the imposition of strong birth control measures.”

UN Millenial Goals, anyone?

Openness to life is at the centre of true development. When a society moves towards the denial or suppression of life, it ends up no longer finding the necessary motivation and energy to strive for man’s true good.”

Amen.

Section 29:

“There is another aspect of modern life that is very closely connected to development: the denial of the right to religious freedom… [People] frequently kill in the holy name of God, as both my predecessor John Paul II and I myself have often publicly acknowledged and lamented. Violence puts the brakes on authentic development and impedes the evolution of peoples towards greater socio-economic and spiritual well-being. This applies especially to terrorism motivated by fundamentalism, which generates grief, destruction and death, obstructs dialogue between nations and diverts extensive resources from their peaceful and civil uses.”

Sounds a little too much like Rosie (or, alternatively, political correctness, which is a sin). Can you not call a Mohammadean a Mohammadean?

“Yet it should be added that, as well as religious fanaticism that in some contexts impedes the exercise of the right to religious freedom, so too the deliberate promotion of religious indifference or practical atheism on the part of many countries obstructs the requirements for the development of peoples, depriving them of spiritual and human resources. God is the guarantor of man’s true development, inasmuch as, having created him in his image, he also establishes the transcendent dignity of men and women and feeds their innate yearning to “be more”. Man is not a lost atom in a random universe: he is God’s creature, whom God chose to endow with an immortal soul and whom he has always loved. If man were merely the fruit of either chance or necessity, or if he had to lower his aspirations to the limited horizon of the world in which he lives, if all reality were merely history and culture, and man did not possess a nature destined to transcend itself in a supernatural life, then one could speak of growth, or evolution, but not development. When the State promotes, teaches, or actually imposes forms of practical atheism, it deprives its citizens of the moral and spiritual strength that is indispensable for attaining integral human development and it impedes them from moving forward with renewed dynamism as they strive to offer a more generous human response to divine love. In the context of cultural, commercial or political relations, it also sometimes happens that economically developed or emerging countries export this reductive vision of the person and his destiny to poor countries. This is the damage that “superdevelopment” causes to authentic development when it is accompanied by “moral underdevelopment”.”

Amen.

Section 32:

“The dignity of the individual and the demands of justice require, particularly today, that economic choices do not cause disparities in wealth to increase in an excessive and morally unacceptable manner, and that we continue to prioritize the goal of access to steady employment for everyone.”

I’m sorry, but the only way I can read this statement is that Ratzinger is calling for economic equality of outcomes, which denies the humanity of all involved. 2 different people which 2 different skill sets are going to naturally have 2 different outcomes (amount of wealth, prestige, benefits, et cetera); an extraordinary person will have a much more desirable outcome than an incompetent person, ceteris paribus. Is he saying we should ensure that everyone get an equal (or equalish) outcome? The only way that will happen is to quash the things that make the people extraordinary. Thomas Sowell being spotted 50 points against Michael Jordan, for example. And everyone suffers the decrease in quality when job tasks are reduced to something an incompetent can handle.

And that is essentially the end of the chapter. I’m going to stop here to try and contain all of Chapter 3 in a single post (next time). It should be short enough (10 sections) that I can reasonably expect to be able to do so.

Again, the encyclical is here.

Part 1 is here.

Last time, I got through the introduction and Part 1 before stopping for the sake of post length. Let’s see how far I get this time. Same rules as outlined in Part 1 apply.

Section 21:

“Paul VI had an articulated vision of development. He understood the term to indicate the goal of rescuing peoples, first and foremost, from hunger, deprivation, endemic diseases and illiteracy. From the economic point of view, this meant their active participation, on equal terms, in the international economic process; from the social point of view, it meant their evolution into educated societies marked by solidarity; from the political point of view, it meant the consolidation of democratic regimes capable of ensuring freedom and peace.”

That’s a warning flare. No mention of the Gospel. Does that mean that Paul VI did not care about their souls by focusing primarily on their physical needs (without spiritual salvation as the ultimate goal)?

“Profit is useful if it serves as a means towards an end that provides a sense both of how to produce it and how to make good use of it. Once profit becomes the exclusive goal, if it is produced by improper means and without the common good as its ultimate end, it risks destroying wealth and creating poverty. The economic development that Paul VI hoped to see was meant to produce real growth, of benefit to everyone and genuinely sustainable. It is true that growth has taken place, and it continues to be a positive factor that has lifted billions of people out of misery — recently it has given many countries the possibility of becoming effective players in international politics. Yet it must be acknowledged that this same economic growth has been and continues to be weighed down by malfunctions and dramatic problems, highlighted even further by the current crisis.”

Highlighting bad business sense. Profit has to be an ultimate goal of a company if it is to survive. Profits mean plowback to improve the state of the company and happy shareholders. It would not matter how much “common good” activities a company does if it cannot make a profit; it will have to make cuts somewhere until it can.

I’m going though that right now. My pay rate was cut down to minimum wage during the summer. Am I happy about it? Of course not. Am I happier about my economic state right now than I would be if we went under? Of course.

“The crisis thus becomes an opportunity for discernment, in which to shape a new vision for the future.”

Sounds more like Rahm than Emmanuel, does it not?

Section 21:

“The world’s wealth is growing in absolute terms, but inequalities are on the increase. In rich countries, new sectors of society are succumbing to poverty and new forms of poverty are emerging. In poorer areas some groups enjoy a sort of “superdevelopment” of a wasteful and consumerist kind which forms an unacceptable contrast with the ongoing situations of dehumanizing deprivation. “The scandal of glaring inequalities” continues. Corruption and illegality are unfortunately evident in the conduct of the economic and political class in rich countries, both old and new, as well as in poor ones. Among those who sometimes fail to respect the human rights of workers are large multinational companies as well as local producers. International aid has often been diverted from its proper ends, through irresponsible actions both within the chain of donors and within that of the beneficiaries. Similarly, in the context of immaterial or cultural causes of development and underdevelopment, we find these same patterns of responsibility reproduced. On the part of rich countries there is excessive zeal for protecting knowledge through an unduly rigid assertion of the right to intellectual property, especially in the field of health care. At the same time, in some poor countries, cultural models and social norms of behaviour persist which hinder the process of development.”

The globalized nature of the economy makes some of this pie-in-the-sky Utopian thought less than worthless. Does Ratzinger realize how prohibitively expensive it is to develop medical tech? Without those intellectual property rights, new medical technology would NOT BE EVEN ATTEMPTED. A company needs to recoup the cost of Research and Development; letting some start-up reverse engineer the product and undercutting the cost would mean med tech companies would stop working on new things. You know who loses? People that get sick from diseases we do not already have effective treatments for. Some examples of those diseases? Cancer, AIDS, diabetes, BSE, Alzheimer’s. You are bound to know at least one person with one of those diseases. You want to take away their hope for a cure?

That being said, the gross gap between the middle and upper classes is a little ridiculous. It is hard to justify multinational CEO salaries when they are not the entrepreneur.

Section 24:

“Today, as we take to heart the lessons of the current economic crisis, which sees the State’s public authorities directly involved in correcting errors and malfunctions, it seems more realistic to re-evaluate their role and their powers, which need to be prudently reviewed and remodelled so as to enable them, perhaps through new forms of engagement, to address the challenges of today’s world. Once the role of public authorities has been more clearly defined, one could foresee an increase in the new forms of political participation, nationally and internationally, that have come about through the activity of organizations operating in civil society.”

Alright. 24 sections in, we finally see the first pertinent suggestion. Retooling the financial overseers could have some benefits, but his implied suggestion to change them into a more localized responder for some international oversight organization is NOT the way to do it. Too many nations do not share the values that make a strong economy (democracy, right to work, right to operate one’s business that way they see fit, right to negotiate with employers, et cetera); they would use the power of the international organization to pursue their goals, killing economic freedoms and prosperity everywhere.

Section 25:

“Consequently, the market has prompted new forms of competition between States as they seek to attract foreign businesses to set up production centres, by means of a variety of instruments, including favourable fiscal regimes and deregulation of the labour market. These processes have led to a downsizing of social security systems as the price to be paid for seeking greater competitive advantage in the global market, with consequent grave danger for the rights of workers, for fundamental human rights and for the solidarity associated with the traditional forms of the social State. Systems of social security can lose the capacity to carry out their task, both in emerging countries and in those that were among the earliest to develop, as well as in poor countries. Here budgetary policies, with cuts in social spending often made under pressure from international financial institutions, can leave citizens powerless in the face of old and new risks”

Why, Ratzinger, does social safety nets need to be government controlled ones? Is that not one of the primary jobs of the Church? Why are you endorsing the continued outsourcing of this essential function to the government? Are you saying the the Body of Christ should not be taking care of the poor, merely letting the State do it for us?

“such powerlessness is increased by the lack of effective protection on the part of workers’ associations. Through the combination of social and economic change, trade union organizations experience greater difficulty in carrying out their task of representing the interests of workers, partly because Governments, for reasons of economic utility, often limit the freedom or the negotiating capacity of labour unions. Hence traditional networks of solidarity have more and more obstacles to overcome.”

Unions have a place under certain work circumstances. In the current economic state of America, they do more harm than good. In other countries that are starting to industrialize, they could (if operated properly) help. Not acknowledging these facts (by uncritically promoting unions) are intellectually dishonest.

“Being out of work or dependent on public or private assistance for a prolonged period undermines the freedom and creativity of the person and his family and social relationships, causing great psychological and spiritual suffering. I would like to remind everyone, especially governments engaged in boosting the world’s economic and social assets, that the primary capital to be safeguarded and valued is man, the human person in his or her integrity: “Man is the source, the focus and the aim of all economic and social life””

Amen. Hey, first time I got to write that this chapter.

Section 26:

“Today the possibilities of interaction between cultures have increased significantly, giving rise to new openings for intercultural dialogue: a dialogue that, if it is to be effective, has to set out from a deep-seated knowledge of the specific identity of the various dialogue partners. Let it not be forgotten that the increased commercialization of cultural exchange today leads to a twofold danger. First, one may observe a cultural eclecticism that is often assumed uncritically: cultures are simply placed alongside one another and viewed as substantially equivalent and interchangeable. This easily yields to a relativism that does not serve true intercultural dialogue; on the social plane, cultural relativism has the effect that cultural groups coexist side by side, but remain separate, with no authentic dialogue and therefore with no true integration. Secondly, the opposite danger exists, that of cultural levelling and indiscriminate acceptance of types of conduct and life-styles. In this way one loses sight of the profound significance of the culture of different nations, of the traditions of the various peoples, by which the individual defines himself in relation to life’s fundamental questions. What eclecticism and cultural levelling have in common is the separation of culture from human nature. Thus, cultures can no longer define themselves within a nature that transcends them, and man ends up being reduced to a mere cultural statistic. When this happens, humanity runs new risks of enslavement and manipulation.”

Okay. Score one for absolutism. Moving on…

Section 27:

“Hunger is not so much dependent on lack of material things as on shortage of social resources, the most important of which are institutional. What is missing, in other words, is a network of economic institutions capable of guaranteeing regular access to sufficient food and water for nutritional needs, and also capable of addressing the primary needs and necessities ensuing from genuine food crises, whether due to natural causes or political irresponsibility, nationally and internationally.”

This needs to be fleshed out for me to make a judgement on it. How is this to be organized? Controlled? Maintained? Is he calling for some kind of international regulatory agency? How are we to ensure that it is done right, when previous international food programs were absolute debacles (Iraq Food for Oil and Somalian food aid comes to mind)?

I am over 1800 words again. I’ll finish this chapter next time and (maybe) start on Chapter 3.

Again, you can read the encyclical here. Whenever I quote, I’m going to only stick in the most striking part of a section or paragraph for the sake of space. I am also going to delete any links the text has, which is mainly references. If you want to look at them, go to the original text and find where I quote.

Section 2:

“I am aware of the ways in which charity has been and continues to be misconstrued and emptied of meaning, with the consequent risk of being misinterpreted, detached from ethical living and, in any event, undervalued. In the social, juridical, cultural, political and economic fields — the contexts, in other words, that are most exposed to this danger — it is easily dismissed as irrelevant for interpreting and giving direction to moral responsibility. Hence the need to link charity with truth not only in the sequence, pointed out by Saint Paul, of veritas in caritate(Eph 4:15), but also in the inverse and complementary sequence of caritas in veritate. Truth needs to be sought, found and expressed within the “economy” of charity, but charity in its turn needs to be understood, confirmed and practised in the light of truth. In this way, not only do we do a service to charity enlightened by truth, but we also help give credibility to truth, demonstrating its persuasive and authenticating power in the practical setting of social living. This is a matter of no small account today, in a social and cultural context which relativizes truth, often paying little heed to it and showing increasing reluctance to acknowledge its existence.”

Amen. Without the Truth, charity is worthless. Without meeting the needs of people though charity, the truth is worthless to them. One has no time to think of Christ when one is agonizing in hunger.

Section 6 is a mess:

“First of all, justice. Ubi societas, ibi ius: every society draws up its own system of justice. Charity goes beyond justice, because to love is to give, to offer what is “mine” to the other; but it never lacks justice, which prompts us to give the other what is “his”, what is due to him by reason of his being or his acting. I cannot “give” what is mine to the other, without first giving him what pertains to him in justice.”

I’m sorry, but charity is an act of mercy, not justice. Justice demands our eternal punishment for, as my pastor would say, “our cosmic treason to the Creator of the Universe” (id est, our sin); mercy is getting what we do not deserve. We do not deserve shelter, nourishment, comfort, or the myriad other things that are charitably given. I did not deserve that bed that was mysteriously given to me (though I am grateful of it); I did not even deserve the mattress that messed up my back. Claiming that people deserve even what they have shows a false sense of God.

And, after talking at length about how Truth is absolute, how can he say that every society draws up their own definition of justice?

So, this is supposed to develop things lined out in an earlier encyclical? Let’s look at the summarizing points (Section 11):

“The first is that the whole Church, in all her being and acting — when she proclaims, when she celebrates, when she performs works of charity — is engaged in promoting integral human development. She has a public role over and above her charitable and educational activities: all the energy she brings to the advancement of humanity and of universal fraternity is manifested when she is able to operate in a climate of freedom. In not a few cases, that freedom is impeded by prohibitions and persecutions, or it is limited when the Church’s public presence is reduced to her charitable activities alone.”

Amen. You exclude the Message of the Gospel from the Body of Christ’s activities and the Church’s efforts are for naught. For that to happen, the Church needs the freedom to do it’s thing.

Though I am not quite sure what that “integral human development” nonsense is about.

“The second truth is that authentic human development concerns the whole of the person in every single dimension. Without the perspective of eternal life, human progress in this world is denied breathing-space. Enclosed within history, it runs the risk of being reduced to the mere accumulation of wealth; humanity thus loses the courage to be at the service of higher goods, at the service of the great and disinterested initiatives called forth by universal charity. Man does not develop through his own powers, nor can development simply be handed to him. In the course of history, it was often maintained that the creation of institutions was sufficient to guarantee the fulfilment of humanity’s right to development. Unfortunately, too much confidence was placed in those institutions, as if they were able to deliver the desired objective automatically. In reality, institutions by themselves are not enough, because integral human development is primarily a vocation, and therefore it involves a free assumption of responsibility in solidarity on the part of everyone. Moreover, such development requires a transcendent vision of the person, it needs God: without him, development is either denied, or entrusted exclusively to man, who falls into the trap of thinking he can bring about his own salvation, and ends up promoting a dehumanized form of development. Only through an encounter with God are we able to see in the other something more than just another creature, to recognize the divine image in the other, thus truly coming to discover him or her and to mature in a love that “becomes concern and care for the other.””

Huh? I’m sorry, but this does not quite make sense to me. Is he saying that institutions of charity are necessary, but need to be run in a Godly way and designed to create encounters with God or they are worthless? Did I read that right?

Section 15:

Humanae Vitae indicates the strong links between life ethics and social ethics, ushering in a new area of magisterial teaching that has gradually been articulated in a series of documents, most recently John Paul II’s Encyclical Evangelium Vitae. The Church forcefully maintains this link between life ethics and social ethics, fully aware that “a society lacks solid foundations when, on the one hand, it asserts values such as the dignity of the person, justice and peace, but then, on the other hand, radically acts to the contrary by allowing or tolerating a variety of ways in which human life is devalued and violated, especially where it is weak or marginalized.””

Amen. You cannot promote charity AND genocide simultaneously (like the UN currently does with the Millennial Development Goals).

“Paul VI clearly presented the relationship between the proclamation of Christ and the advancement of the individual in society. Testimony to Christ’s charity, through works of justice, peace and development, is part and parcel of evangelization, because Jesus Christ, who loves us, is concerned with the whole person. These important teachings form the basis for the missionary aspect of the Church’s social doctrine, which is an essential element of evangelization. The Church’s social doctrine proclaims and bears witness to faith. It is an instrument and an indispensable setting for formation in faith.”

Again, Amen. If you don’t mercifully provide for the basic needs of people, the Gospel would be useless to them. Notice that charity is a part of evangelism and not a end in and of itself.

Section 17:

“Integral human development presupposes the responsible freedom of the individual and of peoples: no structure can guarantee this development over and above human responsibility. The “types of messianism which give promises but create illusions” always build their case on a denial of the transcendent dimension of development, in the conviction that it lies entirely at their disposal. This false security becomes a weakness, because it involves reducing man to subservience, to a mere means for development, while the humility of those who accept a vocation is transformed into true autonomy, because it sets them free. …This freedom concerns the type of development we are considering, but it also affects situations of underdevelopment which are not due to chance or historical necessity, but are attributable to human responsibility. This is why “the peoples in hunger are making a dramatic appeal to the peoples blessed with abundance”. This too is a vocation, a call addressed by free subjects to other free subjects in favour of an assumption of shared responsibility.”

The freedom to be charitable is important. If the system forces one to give, it is not charity, it is coercion. It does reduce people to subservience; it makes the well-to-do submit to it and the not well-to-do rely on it for sustenance.

On the other hand, “assuming shared responsibility” would also deny the humanity of the poor. Saying it is the fault of the well-to-do that one is poor is wrong. People need to take responsibility for their own actions and station in life. Merciful charity would help the poor improve their lot on the initiative of the poor, not subsidize bad behavior. Removing the pressure to develop is a cruel, cruel thing to do.

Section 18:

“Besides requiring freedom, integral human development as a vocation also demands respect for its truth. …The Gospel is fundamental for development, because in the Gospel, Christ, “in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, fully reveals humanity to itself””

 Amen.

Section 19:

“Paul VI, in his Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio, pointed out that the causes of underdevelopment are not primarily of the material order. He invited us to search for them in other dimensions of the human person: first of all, in the will, which often neglects the duties of solidarity; secondly in thinking, which does not always give proper direction to the will. Hence, in the pursuit of development, there is a need for “the deep thought and reflection of wise men in search of a new humanism which will enable modern man to find himself anew”. But that is not all. Underdevelopment has an even more important cause than lack of deep thought: it is “the lack of brotherhood among individuals and peoples”. Will it ever be possible to obtain this brotherhood by human effort alone? As society becomes ever more globalized, it makes us neighbours but does not make us brothers. Reason, by itself, is capable of grasping the equality between men and of giving stability to their civic coexistence, but it cannot establish fraternity. This originates in a transcendent vocation from God the Father, who loved us first, teaching us through the Son what fraternal charity is.”

God needs to be the societal glue for charity to have any real value. Trying to develop it without Him in the mix will only lead to Satan’s Evil Empire, no matter how “good” the intentions are.

And that is the end of Chapter 1. Seeing as I’m at a bit over 1800 words and only a quarter of the way through the encyclical, I’ll continue on with my thoughts later in separate posts.

Interesting Read

July 2, 2009

Tip of the Hat goes to reader Tony.

I, apparently, am not a Bible character.

I do want to note a quibble I have with the author (other than the whole “Blame the Puritans” thing; would it have hurt the argument to change it up? Maybe refer to Cortez or Pizarro?). Here is the pertinent quote:

You are not a Bible character – other than the one indicated in the New Testament – those who have put their faith in Christ and trusted [Him] for their salvation.

First off, it seems like Presbyter Freeman entitled his post poorly. Is he saying the repentant sinner is not a Biblical character?

The bigger problem is that he forgot a possibility. I would argue that you are not a Bible character, except for either the repentant sinner who has put one’s faith in Christ, trusting Him for their salvation, or an unrepentant sinner who (tacitly or not) put one’s faith in Satan, trusting him to keep the good times a’comin’. Putting one’s faith in Satan takes many different forms (idolatry, secularism, straight up Satanism, et cetera), but it all boils down to worshipping the One or the other. Need proof?

“No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.” – Luke 16:13

Mammon, of course, being either the name of an idol of prosperity in Christ’s time or wealth being personified (take your pick).

The question Presbyter Freeman forgot to ask, then, is, which master do you serve?

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” – Mark 1:15