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A few words from the Pope June 14, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, General Catholic.
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I think this is clear enough.  The Holy Sacrifie of the Mass is not a concert, or a movie, or anything that should every be oriented towards human pride and priviledge.  It is the only Perfect Sacrifice that honors God and pleases Him. 

h/t Fr. Z

Another view on social justice June 14, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in General Catholic, Society.
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There has been much discussion of different notions of ‘social justice’ both locally and around Teh Intarwebs lately.  Teresamerica weighs in with comments directed at our friend Kyle Cupp, who blogs at his own site and Vox Nova, the traditionalist sounding non-traditional site.  She has copious videos of Glenn Beck deconstructing the leftist view of social justice, while at the same time clarifying what the Church has proclaimed in documents ranging from Rerum Novarum to USCCB statements.  You should read all of Teresamerica’s post, it’s quite good, but I’d like to focus on this clip from the USCCB, from their statement “Economic Justice for All, released in 1986:

Catholic social teaching, like much philosophical reflection, distinguishes three dimensions of basic justice: commutative justice, distributive justice, and social justice. Commutative justice calls for fundamental fairness in all agreements and exchanges between individuals or private social groups. Distributive justice requires that the allocation of income, wealth, and power in society be evaluated in light of its effects on persons whose basic material needs are unmet… Social justice implies that persons have an obligation to be active and productive participants in the life of society and that society has a duty to enable them to participate in this way.

I don’t think there is any disagreements among Catholics regarding this bald statement regarding social justice.  All faithful Catholics should recognize the imperative to be generous with the gifts God has given us, and to share our bounty with others.  Leaving aside the fact that there are very few in the United States whose basic material needs are unmet (food, clothing, shelter), to the point that the biggest problem facing the poor in this country is not starvation, but obesity, the fundamental argument over social justice among Catholics comes down to whether we are called to be generous as individuals, or should fight for a change in the politico-economic system in the United States to be more ‘just.’  Among those who advocate most stridently for social justice in the Catholic Church in the United States, this more ‘just’ society always means a far more socialistic society – one that focuses on confiscatory taxation, greatly expanded power of the state, and even the transfer of property (the means of production) to the ‘poor’ (proletariat). 

The problem is, as Teresamerica’s post indicates, aligning this view of ‘social justice’ with Catholic doctrine is difficult.  Repeatedly throughout its history, the Church has taken a very dim view of socialism.  The tendency among some Catholics in Europe and North America to see this as the ONLY way to a just society seems to be more oriented to political preferences than it is to Catholic doctrine, and becomes particularly unfortunate when the entirety of Catholic social and moral ‘teaching’ becomes subsumed in this desire for a more socialist society.  There are seven main tenets of Catholic social teaching: respect for the human person, promotion of the family, protection of property rights, working for the common good, observing the principle of subsidiarity, respect for work and the worker, and caring for the rights of the poor.  Of these, three immediately jump off the list as being at cross purposes to socialism – promotion of the family, adherence to subsidiarity, and protection of property rights.  Respect for property and true socialism are impossible – either you can have one, or the other, but not both at the same time.  And as we have seen in Europe, China, and the former Soviet Union, promotion of stable family life is also very difficult to achieve under socialism, as socialism is primarily ‘sold’ as being a selfish enterprise, where the “many” take from the few.  Since socialism requires a pervasive, national government to enfoce the wealth transfers and oversee every detail of daily life, subsidiarity is completely violated.  In my view, oriented towards maximum personal liberty as it is (within the confines of Church doctrine), all of the 7 tenets listed above are difficult if not impossible to align with socialist dogma: respect for the human person is impossible, as the person is subsumed by the state, working for the common good becomes increasingly difficult, as the state and its goals and agendas become predominant, and caring for the rights of the poor is a sad joke, as under socialism the inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.  Even the worker, ostensibly the main concern of socialism, becomes little more than a means to an end, and once socialist policies are in place, care for individual workers becomes a forgotten promise in the face of government hegemony and careless bureaucrats. 

But the view of social justice that tends towards socialism has already been rebutted countless times in ways far better than I can, by far greater authorities on the Church than I.  From my man Leo XIII in Quod Apostolic Muneris and Quod Multim, through Pius XI in Divini Redemptoris, to Pope John Paul II opposing ‘liberation theology’ and clarifying Catholic social doctrine as needing a path well clear of socialism, to Caritas in Veritate, which calls for individual initiatives and private group efforts to spearhead Christian charity.  Catholic social doctrine is complex, it is beyond the realm of easy answers, but it is focused on the individual.  It calls each of us to a great transformation in Christ, to not be corrupted by the materialism of the world, but to foresake as much as we can and help others as much as we can.  My family and I try very hard to live by this challenging, complex doctrine. 

Two of the biggest selling points of the kind of social justice that tends towards socialism are that it plays towards the vices of laziness and pride.  It is far easier to say “I voted for candidate X, and he supports a huge welfare state, therefore I’ve helped the poor” than it is to actually research a charity, send them some money, etc.  It is also far more gratifying to some people to get that reinforcement from many elites that they are a good person because they support a given cause, or a given candidate.  This latter tendency was most pronounced in the 2008 Presidential election.  But neither of the above motives really satisfy the demands of Catholic social doctrine.  Neither drive towards that interior conversion and personal sacrifice that is the ultimate aim of the Church.   And therin lies much of their appeal.

Everything that is wrong with the popular culture in one easy to absorb photo June 14, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in foolishness, scandals, Society.
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Noah Cyrus, daughter of the talentless and shamelessly exploitative “Billy Ray” Cyrus, age 9:

I have a 9 year old daughter.  I wouldn’t let her wear a get up like that around the house as a gag, let alone out in public, in front of dozens of cameras, where you know this photo will become part of the public record and, worse, be plastered all over the internet, which is forever.  There have been much shock and angst as Noah Cyrus’ older sister, Miley, has rapidly transmogrified from a public image of a sweet, innocent, even Christian girl, into a hyper-sexualized vamp singing whose public persona is as much stripper as it is singer.  The Cyrus family at least waited until Miley was 16 or so before trying to cash in by exploiting her as a fantasy for the massively pornographic minds of so many Americans. Apparently, Noah is not even to be allowed that luxury.

I’m sorry, I’m not being very charitable.  There are two things which seem utter poison to the soul, which corrupt even the most well balanced of people – fame and money, and of the two, fame seems far worse.  I don’t think it’s possible for regular people to understand the unreality of fame, or its corrosive effect on the soul.  There seems to be something particularly destructive about the Disney star production system – Britney Spears, Lindsey Lohan, Hilary Duff – all were essentially washed up at 20, but after receiving ridiculous fame and adulation during the critical years of adolescence, do not seem to be able to cope with the rest of their lives.  It’s really worse than being unable to cope – it’s a nonstop train wreck that only seems to get worse.

I would implore her parents not to so shamelessly exploit their own flesh and blood, but that’s probably unlikely.  I’d implore people not to watch the kind of pablum that exists on the Disney’s and MTV’s of the world, but that’s probably even less likely.  I guess we just pray for a changing of hearts and minds, for a rediscovery of Christian virtue and for a much deeper sense of faith to permeate not only those on the sickening treadmill of fame, but for the broader culture that so voyeuristically enjoys watching these train wrecks.  I don’t know where this headlong descent of morals is headed, but it’s hard to see it going anywhere good.  I agree with Dennis Praeger, for many reasons – we seem headed for a new dark ages.

As I was saying.  Just what you want from a kid’s network – encouraging the porn culture!