This blog started out as a companion piece to my book, Musings from the Christian Left (excerpts of which can be found in the July 2004 link) and to support a planned radio show. Now, its simply a long term writing project from a Christian Left Libertarian perspective (meaning I often argue for liberty within the (Catholic) Church, rather than liberty because the church takes care of a conservative view of morality.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Clouthier: How Much Is Enough (Income)? | National Catholic Reporter

Clouthier: How Much Is Enough (Income)? | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: Third way economists ask these questions all the time (the third way being not capitalist, not Marxist, and attempting to put meet on the bones of Catholic Social Teaching, especially Rerum Novarum.  The answer, by the way, is it depends - mostly on family size - rather then comparison between estimates of the same size that are geographically sensative.  The better question is, how do we get families that amount of income with or without government action - because capitalism can't seem to do it - or the free market (not the same as capitalism).  The other pregnant question is how do you make sure the boss and the janitor have roughly the same standard of living (nice house, good food, decent clothes, working transporation).  THAT is the question no one likes to ask, because it is more Marxist than Third Way - but it is the demand of both justice and mercy.  By the way - that includes the worker in China who is actually making the products.

The Problem with Dr. Mirus | National Catholic Reporter

The Problem with Dr. Mirus | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: I am not sure why MSW gives this idiot the gift of a mention, although Mirus certainly is an example of why Ph.D means Piled Higher and Deeper.  I would recommend to Mirus that he read the Book of Amos, as well as all of the scriptures in the Old Testament which requiring gleaning and the forgiveness of debt during Jubilee years, then shift to all the times Jesus has the wealthy go to Hell.  I will grant that the Third Way thinking which has evolved from Leo XIII's Rerum Novarum has been fractured into many paths (Georgism, Distributism, Binary Economic, Inter-Independence) - but the fact that it has not been implemented speaks more to the opposition of the Capitalists than to the coherence of either the message or any of its options.  The one thing that is constant in all of these streams of thought is the REQUIREMENT (not the prudential option) for a just wage that considers the size of the family and its needs.  The prudential part is HOW to make it happen, not IF - and action is necessary because Capitalism does not seem to be able to. Since Capitalism cannot, then capitalism is what must be replaced - and any capitalist funded operation like the Tea Party and should be disregarded entirely.

Mercy, Part I | National Catholic Reporter

Mercy, Part I | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: Kasper makes a nice start, but does not go far enough.  The key scripture when considering the mercy and justice of God is when the Lord says "Come to me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon your shoulders and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart. Your souls will find rest, for my yoke is easy and my burden light. (Matthew 11:28-30)"  In other words, the justice of the Lord is not for the Lord, it is for us.  The justice of the Lord is the Mercy of the Lord.  It is how we live our human lives best.  More importantly, where a moral precept has been made and it is not merciful it is also not just.  That must be true with divorce and with who can get married.

God never says, sorry, you are out of luck - you must suffer.  It is both just and merciful to say that a physically abuse marriage is ended or that a long time companion whose husband lay dying is the legitimate next of kin when others would exclude him from making the appropriate decisions a spouse makes.  The perfection of God is His love for us - for the law is for us, not for God.  God is necessary for us, but we are not necessary for God.  He is not offended when we err - but when we likewise show no mercy to the other. Indeed, all the requirements to do right by the poor are acts of mercy and also justice - for no one owns the bounty of the Lord, it is given to us all and must be shared by all.  That is true in ancient agricultural societies and in modern Capitalism - and woe those who do not deal mercifully with those who depend upon them.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Why is Bill Donohue Defending Finn? | National Catholic Reporter

Why is Bill Donohue Defending Finn? | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: Donohue is not accountable to the Church.  He listens to his donors, who honor the clerical culture that made child sexual abuse by priests possible.  Its best just to say the word "Shame" over both Bill and Finn and let the Nuncio handle it.  Indeed, Arroyo and Donohue defending Finn will give them a black eye once Finn is removed and/or jailed.  The only reason he is likely there is for sentencing.  No ticked to Rome for him at all.

GOP Senate Prospects: Wave or Wipeout? | National Catholic Reporter

GOP Senate Prospects: Wave or Wipeout? | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: As Larry says, its still early and the big six are still competitive.  These states will likely all have chances for the Tea Party to embarrass their candidate or the candidate can embarrass themselves.  Indeed, if any of them start thinking that motivating the base is their best move, Harry Reid will stay majority leader.

Acton Institute Strikes Again | National Catholic Reporter

Acton Institute Strikes Again | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: I would shudder to think what Acton U. would teach in any year.  The truth is that welfare, education and the rest were offered at the township level.  If the Catholic Church or others offered assistance to the poor, it wa because the township level assistance was inadequate, as was private charity. The elderly poor were cared for by families, if they could afford that - or they would be objects of charity as well.  Usually people worked until they died and they did not live that long.  As for Medical assistance, medicine was dangerous - both the practice of and patent medicine available.  We are so much better off now.  Indeed, the reason we have social insurance, and need it, is because people don't die like they used to.  I wonder if Bradly would like his parents and in-laws Social Security benefits taken away and have them live with him.  The reason for such insurance is to prevent accidents of birth (family size) and death (parental mortality or not) make some families poor and others rich, regardless of other factors.  If he really wants to get rid of Social Insurance (and secretly, all wing-nut thinkers do) then he should support equalized Employer contributions in Social Security - with an ever increasing percentage going to employer voting stock (as well as changing pension rules to concentrate investment to 66% of each fund doing likewise).  Then we can get rid of Capitalism (and his funding) and make workers much better off.

Building Solidarity | National Catholic Reporter

Building Solidarity | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: Archbishop Chaput mentions the crisis of children at the southern border and blames both sides for not passing legislation - however legislation to handle this exists (but the crisis needs to be funded and tweeked and we know who is holding things up).  He begins speaking about the Cather's and the bloody Crusade to stamp them out.  Of course in that era, simply talking through it was not an option and thank Heaven the CDF has no army.  What really wiped this out though was the rise of the Franciscans.  In the end of the talk, he links that Francis to the current one.  He also talks about the religious demographics of Latinos (which MSW seems to ignore).  A majority are Catholic, some are Protestant and some are former Catholic.  That actually looks a lot like what Anglo Catholics experience, with non-Catholics becoming more Protestant  - although Latinos go more Evangelical and younger people usually just become non-believers (although many people my age found that they came back to Church when they had kids). Getting back to the Francis effect, it seems that some do come back to Church, or at least reconnect with Reconciliation, due to the election of Francis (both here and abroad).

Chaput said that studies of North American Catholics show them to be cathecized but not evangelized.  That makes sense - everyone who gets confirmed goes through extra cathecesis - which does not always keep them in Church afterward (in my generation, we were confirmed in primary school and went to Mass until College.  Chaput said that Latino Masses are much more devotional.  Also, while almost everyone goes to Communion in English Masses (one last Vatican II effect), this is not the case at Spanish Masses.  Obviously, someone did not get the memo - or rather, some got the memo for the Clergy and others from the Lord.  The clergy seem to delight in creating minor Mortal Sins.  Most Anglo Catholics ignore them.  Who has the greater faith?  That is up to each person to answer.  Chaput also says that Latino Catholics (I suspect he means the immigrants) are more Evangelized that Cathechized.  That could be true if Spanish CCD is not available.  The fact is, many Anglo Catholics (fewer now) went to parochial school.  I suspect that everyone i the CCD generation is probably under instructed, as the nuns have left many parishes making Catholic School more of an elite institution. Sad.

What does Chaput suggest?  1.  More Spanish Masses. 2. More CCD - including for adults. and 3. CALL should ask itself if it is working hard enough or meeting the right needs.

Now for MSW.  He gives a cursory summary that confuses the part about the child immigration crisis with immigration reform as a whole, speaks of some of the statistics and promise more on the Evangelicization v. Cathecization.  Its an interesting question - and I suspect the answer to both is to get more students into Catholic School (all of them actually), regardless of their ability to pay (including public funds).  Also, adult remedial high school should be offered by each diocese - to include relligion classes - again with public funds, except for the religion classes.  The same goes for Vocational High Schools (which the Church does not offer and should).

MSW mentions the difference between the Calvinism and Individualism in American culture, versus the more Catholic Latino culture.  This sounds good, but it is not really true.  Poor people in Latin America have been underserved the the Church.  The more well off, who are less likely to migrate, are indeed Catholic - and urban poor people are more likely to be Catholic as well.  In many nations, the country-side has been left to the Mormons and the Evangelicals (especially the Seventh Day Adventists - a religion that poor people would glom onto, although they will soon find that Jesus is not coming right away to give them propserity).  The exception was the Archbishop who is now Pope Francis.  He actually went out to the poor.  The other bishops, not so much.

The other fact that is unmentioned in MSW's remarks is that to a very great extent, our political culture is Masonic.  Indeed, the Masons can be found in Mexico City in their government (it was their demand that Catholic clergy dress as laity outside of Mass).  I am not sure about masonic penetration to the south, but it would not surprise me.  As you can see, it has different effects on various sides of the Rio Grande. Masons are a bit more benevolent in the US, so no restrictions against the Church emenate from the lodge (where they still exist they do come form Evangelicals who maintain that the Pope - even Francis - is the anti-christ, although the USCCB joining with the GOP on abortion and contraception has removed much of that friction.  In Mexico, the Church was on the wroing side of the last revolution, which was led by Masons, who govern to this day.

On assimilation - I expect the younger generation to do so, once they have kids - just like American young people.  The only way to get them in the Pews until at least college is to offer Catholic education to grade twelve.  As for common Masses - many Latinos do go to English Masses and participate (including Filipinos who are also Spanish and Tagalog speakers).  I expect that in time there will be more Spanish parishes, rather than Spanish Masses.  Just like there are and were German, Polish and Irish parishes in the midwest. The key to assimilation is inter-marriage.  When we see that, assimilation will be complete (in 50 years or so).

Sister parishes and ESL/SSL classes are a nice step, although unless the Latino partners are rural and a large part of the collection is sent there each week, this is only a nice gesture.  Again, on language classes, full on adult high school seems appropriate for all newly arrived Catholic adults (so civics and religion can be thrown in, as well as English and maybe math)  this should even be true for non-Latino immigrants, like the Bosnian Engineer who was waiting tables MSW describes.  Not that symbols are not important.  The Mass at the Border did not change any votes in Congress (still wonder why no discharge petition has been started), but it might make a difference among bishops who have been absent.

Boston College's suggestions are good and Chaput's are not without merit - but I like mine better, especially because they force the Church to spend more money where there is the most need - so much that they must keep working with civil government.  Rather than lawsuites on contraception (which were always ill advised) we need suits to overturn the Blaine Amendments to the money can flow to Catholic Schools.  These violate our equal protection rights and cannot be allowed to stand.  This will free up money to fund sister parishes south of the border, so that they can make a stand against those who would steal our parishoners away.  Even more should go to Haiti and the Dominicans who so mistreat them should be excommunicated as segregationists were in the Civil Rights era.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Osoro to Madrid | National Catholic Reporter

Osoro to Madrid | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: Only the organization of antiquity gives Spain more than one archbishop (or a Cardinal for that matter).  I wonder if Francis is about to decrease the number of pronvices in Europe?  Interestngly enough, my reading of the word Overseer in the letters of Paul is Pastor - not Bishop.  Imagine the Church if Pastor was as high as you could get - and that became a locally selected office.  We might need a few patriarchs - but for teaching and spiritual leadership - not governance.

Senate Dems Running on Obamacare, the Law, not the Name | National Catholic Reporter

Senate Dems Running on Obamacare, the Law, not the Name | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: Sadly, Obama-anything does not work too well in the southern PR machine - but that is because being against Obama is the last vestige of reasonable racism some of these old birds have, although it is emboldening some of the old ways, especially among law enforcement.

HHS Contraception Saga, Part XXVI | National Catholic Reporter

HHS Contraception Saga, Part XXVI | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: In the order of MSW's points - first, it is clear that this is still a staff driven exercise and it saddens me that Archbishop Kurtz is participating in it.

Second, there is no difference between a form or a letter in participating in covering contraception - which is not evil in any circumstances unless it is provided for Eugenic reasons, which removes power from the patient - as does the Church's policy.  The bishops are under the misapprension that life begins at conception.  It does not.  It begins at gastrulation - as any high school sophomore who is paying attention should notice when the difference between generative and regulative development is explained.  Generative development is not life. As for the goal that all religious employers who object should be provided an exemption - that is not possible since all such employers have been providing contraception if they provide preventative care since 2000 - and because it is not the place of the USCCB to ask - it is the Chamber of Commerce - and they hav been silent on this issue.

Third, the Conference's lawyers won on Hobby Lobby - which was an easy lay-up.  As for the accommodation - Biden won, not the USCCB staff - and Catholic Charities USA and Catholic Health caved so fast, it almost looks like this was all planned.  The Bishops are losing, by the way.  They are keeping alive the perception that they are part of a War on Women - whihc is very believalbe as they continue the fiction that women have some kind of inherent characteristic that does not allow them to be priests (like ovaries?). The Conference is not in melt-down.  It is just being clumsy enough to show itself  to be an integral part of the Republican Party - including the staff.  Its not that too many are leaving - it is that not enough are.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Are Bishops Committing Murder? | National Catholic Reporter

Are Bishops Committing Murder? | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: To be fear to Sirco, he is citing someone else's work on the Bible confirming a rather recent development in American constitutional law (less than two hundred years ago).  Indeed, if what he was calling for was really a level playing field on political speech when all was said and done, he would not be so blatantly obnoxious.  Indeed, if corporations really spoke in the interests of their shareholders, he might get a pass. That is not the case, however.  Corporations speak for their executive leadership, who often plunder both worker salaries and a more generous distribution of dividends to feather their own nests.  They want a monopoly on political speech - including less than truthful advertising campaigns that fool voters into voting against their own interests (see right to work, which is really right to hire undocumented immigrants and treat them like slaves).  I am not one who thinks a simple amendment to rebalance money as political speech will fix everything.  The problem is capitalism, both corporate and private (think Romeny).  Fix that and speech will not be a problem.

Why the House Won't Pass Immigration Reform | National Catholic Reporter

Why the House Won't Pass Immigration Reform | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: It is hardly news that nativism, and lets face it, racism animates the Tea Party rank and file.  A piece about Tea Party Nationalism a few years ago is a great source on this.  What is not widely discussed is that the food industry relies on undocumented workers who can be abused and discarded if they complain with one quick call to Homeland Security.  Whether picking oranges or processing chicken nuggets, a docile workforce saves money (especially if under-paid).  The only real way to give the nativists what they want is to end all work restrictions and repeal right to work.  Then it won't matter whether Food, Inc. workers are Latino or not, they will have the same interests as American workers, leading to more such workers being hired and less foreign labor being used.  Of course, that also means that reliable union Democrats will dominate the South eventually.  Seems that the GOP can't win this one.

Damien Thompson Hits His Thumb | National Catholic Reporter

Damien Thompson Hits His Thumb | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: Once the Spectator is cited as having the article being criticized, you know its going to be bloody.  I am quite sure that the cleric in the know about curial moral is in a state of low morale, if not fear, as our his colleagues.  Fear usually comes when knowledge and trust are not present - and the Pope's reform council is most likely playing things close to the vest.  Also, lack of trust often comes from a certain untrustworthiness - and if that cleric is named Law, Burke or Rigali, that kind of hits the nail on the head.  What they most fear is not loss of position, but lost of a system where position and orthodoxy are important - especially on pelvic issues.  As for the American Church having fire in the belly on the right wing - that fire in the belly is partisan, from supporting an abortion plank that won't win (so it is perfect for fundraising and getting out the vote) to going along with defeating a perfectly decent Republican health care plan passed by Obama (with a few tweeks raising the funds by taxing high income GOP donors - who also contribute to the Chruch), the issue really is more partisan than the Jesuits v. the Jansenists.  I am sure they also fear that the dominos will also fall on the ultimate pelvic issue, woman priests.  This pope won't do it, but I am sure they think that any change in doctrine will shake this issue loose in a way they abhor with all of their beings.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Winright on Policing | National Catholic Reporter

Winright on Policing | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: This piece hits all the right points, especially his first-hand knowledge of that metro area, hitting racism in the police force (and incidentally the Church), the militarization of policing, and the need for a non-violent, British style, community policing model rather than a war on crime.  I would add that ending the war on drugs - not just weed, is an essential first step.  Are murders sane?  Ever? I think not.  In most cases, crime can be treated - either thourgh health or fixing economiic and social deficiencies - like illiteracy.  In this model, should mental health workers carry guns?  Of course not.  Note even tasers.  A nice, fast acting, tranquilizer dart should do.  The only times lethal force should be necessary is defense against terrorism and when a murderous prisoner is not reachable with treatment - say a sociopath - and the only option besides locking them in a cage until they die is euthanizing them quietly (not as a media event showing the strength of the justice system).  This probably should have been the #1 story, not the Obama vacation.

C. J. Reid on Missouri 'Whistling Dixie' | National Catholic Reporter

C. J. Reid on Missouri 'Whistling Dixie' | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: Reid is actually talking about just one neo-confederate Yahoo, or so he says.  For all he knows, the assemblyman in question was pursuing Nullification because he wanted to legalize Weed - or he might be just that kind of idiot.  More importantly is why Ferguson is evolving has it has, a former sundown city that now has a majority black population, with surrounding ghetto towns who are as apt to send protesters to the streets as Ferguson itself - maybe more so.  Housing rights and white flight say more about this than one member of the legislature - especially in a state that is getting more purple all the time (as in, if Kerry had put some money into it, he might have beaten a sitting President).  That is why it is so toxic - because it is potentially in play.

Obama's Vacation: Not a Problem | National Catholic Reporter

Obama's Vacation: Not a Problem | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: Its not that FoxNews does not like Obama's vacations - they just don't like Obama.  They especially don't like Obama at Martha's Vineyard because the Kennedy's live near the Vineyard and the Clinton's vacation there as well.  What they really hate, however, is that he does Christmas in Hawaii, where he is from and where he used to visit his mother while she lived, and now while she reposes.  What galls them as bad is Chicago - which to them is Mayor Dailey (both of them) and now Mayor Immanuel.  He is so quintisentially Democrat they simply hate him to the core.  I think the problem is FoxNews.  To hate someone that much, you must really hate yourself - which is why they don't take vacations.  Even Rush, who is abhorrent, takes vacations.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Christian on Clark | National Catholic Reporter

Christian on Clark | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: Interesting, although communitarianism rejecting both individuality and collectivism is to an extent also combining the best features of both, as I do in inter-independence - which is more about practical considerations than doctrine.  Still, this should be required reading to any Catholic who thinks that Paul Ryan is anything other than a self-seeking idealogue - including Ryan himself.