Saturday, April 16, 2016

Bernie Does the Vatican

As an observant Catholic, I take Joyce's "Here Comes Everybody" explanation for its apparent weirdness.  Given the Christ, that any and all struggling to get it right would be followers, and all in various stages of disrepair struggling forward anyway, well, anyone can find a place in the Church.  Like benecredit, the Church is always exactly the right size as soon as someone decides to join in.

We have the term "cafeteria Catholics" to refer to those who pick and choose among the church teachings as to which to adhere or not.  Certainly the majority (and I think the number is about 85%) of self-identified Catholics reject the Church teaching on contraception.  I know few if any Catholics who accept it.

That is tricky business for a Church.  Do you throw them out to maintain purity?  What do Sinner Popes, Cardinals, Bishops, Priests and so on down the line do with people who reject Church teachings that they themselves have no problem maintaining?  And although they find the burden of chastity light, they absolutely fail in other areas.  Not in a position to cast stones, they know.

Well, there is the vade mecum St. John Paul II put out, advising again the eternal guideline of not causing someone with informal error to shift to formal error.  A Catholic who is presently ignorant of the objective good of natural family planning and therefore informally rejects Church teaching ought not be cornered and coerced to formally reject it.

As a practical matter a Catholic may approach a priest and say "Father, the church teaching on birth control is crazy for these reasons (fill in the blank.)  The priest can clearly hear where that person is on their journey.  In any event, the priest will simply restate the church teaching...  "Well, the Church teaches...." and then let the conversant respond.  Any improvement?  If so, work with that.  If not, give it time.  But don't condemn and threaten.  Jesus answered the rich young man who then left sad, but who knows what happened later.

There are about 24 Catholic Churches independent of Rome but accept Rome as primus inter pares, that is first among equals and accept the Church teachings.  Ironically is really only the Roman Catholics, and largely in the Western countries where the teaching is rejected.  Further, the rejections are usually grounded in 1. the teaching is undemocratic, 2. the Church should not interfere in private affairs, and finally raw ignorance of what is actually being rejected.

How come?  It gets down to Calvin and Luther, two sides of the same coin.  The reformation was the beginning of the modern western world most agree.  But the history of the change is mush debated.  I think the reformation was merely a realignments of rents and rent seekers.  After 1000 years, locals resented so much wealth heading to the Vatican.  (To this day in Luxembourg the property of those who die intestate goes to the Church.) Protestants could put a halo on rebellion and they found an unlikely pair that offered that halo.  The wars that followed were over real estate, not religion, like all wars in all times.

Luther was one such person who was cornered and so hardened into a most prolific anti-papist.  Luther suffered from scrupulosity, driven by fear of eternal damnation. Seneca scholar-extraordinaire Calvin supplied Luther with the Stoic position of yes, we are wretched and unworthy, but predestined to be saved.  From these two most of protestantism comes forth, and the modern western world.  And capitalism, the protestant work ethic, and expressly addressed by Calvin, legalizing usury.  And since usury is a process for mulcting wealth from workers to rent-seekers, the northern protestant countries gathered extraordinary wealth.

Those who settled the USA were originally Puritans, and WASP originally meant white anglo-saxon puritan.  Americans do not quite recognize the measure that Puritan streak that we have never shaken off.  Out tendency towards the nanny state, for all our talk or freedom, is rank puritanism.  The milieux of Catholic countries terrifies us: Brazil, Philippines, Venezuela, the Congo, and most terrifying of all: Mexico!  What do they all share?  Poverty!

As defined by usurers.  We actually rank pretty low compared to these countries in any human-level categories: education, infant mortality, health care, obesity, justice...  and so on.  We do have skyscrapers and ...  umm... what..?  fear.  We in USA are scared $#!+less of the rest of the world.  We have that.

The Catholic Church offers the Catechism as a encyclopedia of its teachings.  Well worth a read, I keep a copy handy.  It also has the Compendium of Social Doctrine of the Church, a document I dreaded until I actually read it.  Whereas the catechism is the letter of the teaching, the social doctrine book is how it is applied.  I like if far more than the catechism now, since it is teaching in action.  It is wildly misunderstood by most Americans.

Just as a church that became legitimized by Constantine needed to address war, so a church confronted by the protestant hegemonic state needed to address social teaching.  The just cause and just war theory give the conditions we can make war.  In the 1500 years this teaching has been in place, there has been no instance where the conditions were met.  When faced with a political structure it rejects as illegitimate, democracies, the church came up with a set of teachings that have never been achieved by a state (and never will).  Why bother teaching it?  We are all struggling in our journey.  Teach the truth, and don't force anyone into a corner.

So Bernie Sanders an American, goes to the Vatican and regurgitates what Popes have said.

We need a political analysis as well as a moral and anthropological analysis to understand what has happened since 1991. We can say that with unregulated globalization, a world market economy built on speculative finance burst through the legal, political, and moral constraints that had once served to protect the common good. In my country, home of the world’s largest financial markets, globalization was used as a pretext to deregulate the banks, ending decades of legal protections for working people and small businesses. Politicians joined hands with the leading bankers to allow the banks to become “too big to fail.” The result: eight years ago the American economy and much of the world was plunged into the worst economic decline since the 1930s. Working people lost their jobs, their homes and their savings, while the government bailed out the banks.

OK... so the premise is the problem is grounded in the unregulated and deregulation and the solution is regulation.  Never mind that no sector of any economy of the world is more regulated than finance.  Never mind that regulations provide for what we have wrought.  Keep your eye on the clearly unwarranted claim that lack of regulations is the problem.

The billions and billions of dollars of fines they have paid for financial fraud are just another cost of doing business, another short cut to unjust profits.

Bernie, econ 101, corps do not pay fines, their customers do.  We are coerced into being their customers by regulations.  What is the plan?

Some might feel that it is hopeless to fight the economic juggernaut, that once the market economy escaped the boundaries of morality it would be impossible to bring the economy back under the dictates of morality and the common good.

Bernie, what we have is capitalism, not market economy.  None of these horrors can exist in a free market.  Get your terms right.  But the gauntlet is down.  Those who have benefitted and gained by the regulations in place will be brought back in line...  by regulations!  Yay!

As an American, Bernie has the puritanical core that assumes the Church teaches a nanny-state where coercion is king, and to the penitentiaries for noncompliance!  (The word penitentiary we use for prison comes from the Quakers, the Puritans, who ran our first prisons. They fed sinners oatmeal.)  The church is a completely voluntary organization.   It puts no one in prison.  You are free to accept or reject. If and when, like the church, Bernie, your rules are teachings and compliance is voluntary, then you will "get" Catholicism.

But maybe Bernie understands most American Catholics do not "get" catholicism, inasmuch as they reject Church teaching because it is not put to a vote and it is not easy.

Probably 99% of Catholics know the teaching on birth control and some 80%+ reject it, at least informally.  Probably less than 1% of Catholics know the church strenuously condemns (Vix pervenit = "no sooner than we answer...")  taking or giving any interest in any amount for any duration.  When the  Church gets little compliance on sex when everyone knows the rules, what can they hope for money when almost no one knows the rules?

Right wing Catholics in USA are no more conscious of the voluntary nature of the Church than the lest wing, and so they get apoplectic when social teaching does not support capitalism.  The left wing delights in the thought that the Church coerces people to pay a minimum wage, when the reality is the hegemon cannot get anything right.

As essentially Puritans, these problems will not be solved.  It'll be 300 more years of stumbling along in the dark, then something else.

In the meantime, get self-employed so you can stand aside and let the puritans fight this out.
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