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.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

McElroy on Income Inequality | National Catholic Reporter

McElroy on Income Inequality | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: Its an interesting piece and he hits the right areas, including not just the accomplishments but also the problems with capitalism, the free market and the whole makers v. takers thing.  Of course, he, like the Pope, does not prescribe solutions, although several exist - among them realizing that capitalism, both domestic and international, exist not to encourage free markets, but to restrict them for the benefit of the capitalist. The Government, with the support of the Church, as created some floors, but as yet nothing to change the nature of the system - and without such change we are simply perpetuating makers v. takers as a political debate (guess who wins - its not the GOP anymore).  The comments, by the way, run the gamut, including those who stridently defend the status quo as both effective and just (which is obviously is not).  Of course, it would be interesting to visualize politics in an equal society - I am fairly sure we would need no such thing.

Pope Francis & Accompaniment | National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis & Accompaniment | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: Roddy offers an interesting reflection - of course accompaniment can mean a Church that is leading or a Church that his following.  I suspect that in dealing with the questions of the Synod, it must do a little of both.  The extent to which the Synod fathers actively engage the people and get their hearts, rather than their data, is the extent to which the Church will make progress.  Of course, we cannot enter this walk in confusion and they must end it with the smell of the sheep on them and a willingness to understand these questions a bit more openly than before. Sometimes the understanding of a truth can change, even if the underlying truth does not.  Reject even that, and there has been walking without listening and therefore no accompaniment.

Prisons and Spirituality | National Catholic Reporter

Prisons and Spirituality | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: This is relevant to the old Quaker Penitentiaries, which were abandoned because every prisoner was put in solidarity confinement to meditate on his sins.  Turns out they obsessed and went mad.  Not much has changed.  The problem is that not segregating prisoners can lead to violence.  We must find a medium someplace and it should probably include some social time - although doubling up on cells is probably more of a cost cutting measure than residual socialization.  Without a good treatment model, it hardly matters anyway - we are likely making matters worse.

Understanding Francis: Saint Cicero and the Jesuits | National Catholic Reporter

Understanding Francis: Saint Cicero and the Jesuits | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: I suspect that Abbe Pierre Favre had it right on seeing to the spiritual health and peace of all his neighbors, although the later manuals probably would have served him better in this purpose.  It certainly shows why it matters what we do regarding divorced and remarried Catholics (or even those who were at cause in their divorce, even if they never marry - or are even never allowed to marry again).  As for gay marriage, this is not a question for confession at all, save for the need to confess the many errors anyone makes within a marriage.

MSW Responds to Matthew Franck et al. | National Catholic Reporter

MSW Responds to Matthew Franck et al. | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: Too funny.  It seems the Chaput is the one confused (and I suspect mostly about how to get his red hat - or why he has not gotten it yet - after all, Donald Wuerl got his?).  All he must do is listen to his flock with an open heart - rather than having an answer ready when he disagrees with them.  That is why it called listening and not suppression.  If Satan is bothering him about this, I suggest he either find a better Confessor or an Exorcist (or a nice place to retire).

Cum Douthat et sub Douthat? | National Catholic Reporter

Cum Douthat et sub Douthat? | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: Oh, wither the poor conservatives and their apocalyptic dreams! Douthat's poor potentially lost conservatives, if they were to leave, would have done so when the Mass was translated into English. Rationalizing how give Communion to the divorced and remarried - and how we deal with why marriages are ended - allowing the wronged party as much say in forgiving the other as the Confessor - and realizing gays are not the monsters the conservatives think they are can be considered good things. Hopefully the faithful will tell those bishops that Douthat is enabling their views on this in no uncertain terms.

Kudos to Mollie Wilson O'Reilly | National Catholic Reporter

Kudos to Mollie Wilson O'Reilly | National Catholic Reporter to MSW,  MGB: Let us hope that such treatment opens George Weigel and Archbishops Pell, Chaput and Tobin to see that the virtue they need may be openness rather than Orthodoxy - if only so that these bishops can listen to their own flocks with an open heart (rather than using it as an opportunity for further discipline).  Sadly, since we are not forced to resort to ridicule to get their attention, such openness is not very likely.

Remembering Lorenzo | National Catholic Reporter

Remembering Lorenzo | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: Letting Msgr. Lorenzo go is the greatest affirmation of love that we can give him.  He understood the incarnation was a free gift of love, unmerited by any act of mankind, and that any expression of Jesus in the Church and the poor has to be exactly that, and he loved any he encountered accordingly.  It is that love which the rigorists seem to miss when they seek the preservation of current understanding over the changing needs of the people - as they desire their version of the truth more than they desire it be an expression of love.  I am sure Lorenzo understood this - his live shows it.  May this life be a witness to those who love the Magisterium more than the Majesty it represents so that they can adjust practice accordingly.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Donatism and Divorce | National Catholic Reporter

Donatism and Divorce | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: Novationism and Donatism are not appropriate to this argument because they had to do with the Church in direct persecution by the Empire.  Unless one is willing to argue with a straight face that secular governments are somehow persecuting the faith by allowing divorce, especially to women, there is no connection.  On the giving of Communion, how we do that has changed numerous times in the past 2000 some years and we still don't have it right - although in practice we are doing good because most people have realized that unless the sin is very major (and loving someone in second marriage is not such a major flaw), going to Communion is not an issue - and it is a question of practice, not faith and morals.  Now, should there be forgiveness in ending a marriage - absolutely but it has nothing to do with remarriage.  If one spouse victimizes the other through adultery, abuse, drunkenness, or abandonment (especially if they had the bad example of a parent), then they should seek forgiveness from the other spouse before marrying again or getting absolution.  The wronged spouse should not have to.  Of course, I have not great expectations of the Synod coming to such a rational moral conclusion, although I fail to see how standing up for a status quo that is wrong (unless you like the fees from marriage tribunals - ah, that's it!) is defensible.

Abp Forte, Call your office | National Catholic Reporter

Abp Forte, Call your office | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: Or just read the Bible, which states that all must repent - not only those in undesirable groups or those on whom a tower collapses (like Shiloam).  The right wingers made this case about Katrina - whose real problem was corruption in fixing the levies and just bad urban and land use planning (especially to the south, where the marshes were lost to the Gulf).  Ebola is the result of bad pubic health, from nurses training to public information for the sick.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

What does Jesus really say about marriage and divorce? | National Catholic Reporter

What does Jesus really say about marriage and divorce? | National Catholic Reporter by Nicholas Collura.  MGB: In Jesus' time, no one got old enough to get a divorce because they got tired of their spouse after the kids have grown.  I suspect that Jesus was talking about arranged divorces and second marriages by the families.  Sadly, I have some experience of that, as does my brother in law, my late sister in law and my former other sister in-law.  Divorce seems to be a disease that runs in families. It desired ease over challenge and love and nothing good can come of that.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete: Requiem Aeternam | National Catholic Reporter

Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete: Requiem Aeternam | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: Rest in peace Monsignor Albacete.  Very wonderful piece on human suffering, which he no longer must face.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Midterm Spending in post-Citizens United Elections | National Catholic Reporter

Midterm Spending in post-Citizens United Elections | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: Let me start by saying that the problem is not money in politics - its too much money by too few people - in short, the problem is capitalism.  The the free market kind libertarians keep mentioning as an apology for big business, but the monopolistic kind that hires workers on its terms, not on mutual terms, and restricts the number of competitors to as small a number as possible.  Being able to do that takes a lot of money, hence contributions - but contribution limits won't fix capitalism.  Employee-ownership will.

As for spending the money for Ebola or some such nonsense, that will only happen with higher taxes on the rich - the funds spent on ads are not transferable.  If there were not political ads, there would be more ads for beer, cars and sugary cereal.

The people who make the negative ads seem to have an exemption for slander, but the big money has now become the ads that run in presidential primary years - because they are aimed at other partisans (in the general election, people who have made up their mind tend to tune out).  the right wingers seem to be products of the College Republican Club system, which rewards cut-throat politics.  (Full disclosure, I was my CR chair in college and it was the most inactive chapter in the history of the party). Still, they are nasty rich kids with feelings of entitlement on most campuses, which is not good training for real life unless you are a partisan hack or corporate capitalist.

The issues make for interesting analysis.  ISIS and Ebola ads play to those Republicans who dream of Reagan - and no one is up for any more Bush bashing, even though ISIL would not exist were it not for Rumsfeld's stupidity in not reconstituting the old Iraqi Army.  Ebola talk is just ignorant, but ignorance seems a premium on the right wing.  Still, the influence of Obama For America should not be underestimated.  They are running their usual ground war - and that may make all the difference in who turns out to vote.

Pope Francis calls for abolishing death penalty and life imprisonment | National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis calls for abolishing death penalty and life imprisonment | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: The Pope nails it, including bringing out the fact which all Lifers know, that life in prison is simply execution by slow torture.  I wonder what the anti-death penalty pro-lifers in and outside the Church will say about this (talk about a wedge issue).  Especially like reference to murder by cop.  The people demanding justice in Ferguson should like this a lot (pass the word so that they know it was said).  He also essentially damned Dick Cheney.  Nice day's work in one speech.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tobin Slams Synod Too | National Catholic Reporter

Tobin Slams Synod Too | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: You knew there had to be a third and it would probably be Tobin.  That makes him Curly Joe, since Dolan is too good a politician to hang out in their tub (as in rub a dub dub).  It appears that these remarks were not staff  generated, although they may have been.  Irregardless, the comments have been closed - so you can image the reaction.

I think that Tobin might have written an article in America more than ten years ago about gay marriage.  He, or some other older bishop, questioned why one could not marry a family member.  No one makes that analogy now.  The reason is it is obvious that family members need no additional legal connection to act as next of kin for each other.  That is actually the reason we need gay marriage. People should have the right to chose their own next of kin.  To not do so is to make them perpetual infants (which is also what happens to you when you are divorced and your kids are under legal age).  Its probably also a good reason to change how we deal with divorce and remarriage (although the usual rules certainly did not do Anna Nicole Smith any good).

Don't Be Afraid of Subsidiarity | National Catholic Reporter

Don't Be Afraid of Subsidiarity | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: Liberal Catholics, or liberals in general, are not afraid of subsidiarity.  We went along with it in creating health insurance exchanges in each state (while doing them for those states who would not).  We accepted what was an ill-advised state by state implementation and funding of welfare programs (which has proved disastrous to the South) and have never opposed state highways.  On the religious side, I would love a lot more subsidiarity in the choosing of bishops and archbishops. Unless the government is interfering with the freedom of the Church, papal appointment is neither necessary nor desired.  Anyone who wants to talk smack about subsidiarity can start there.

Some of us are libertarian socialists - meaning not only employee ownership of the workplace - but also as the provider of direct educational, medical and social services (in lieu of taxes). That is the ultimate in subsidiarity and it definitely lives in the liberal space.  Going back to the Church, if we had an autocephalous English Language or North American Patriarch, one could imagine that it would be much more liberal in its doctrine - especially with a Canadian running the show.  Indeed, much of what is now Protestantism would have no excuse not to merge back in, since Roman overreach would be gone.  The only place where I am not for subsidiarity is in recognizing the true vicar of Christ.  That would be the Ecumenical Patriarch, not the Bishop of Rome who is only recognized in the wider Church as Patriarch of the West.  That is usually where Rome wants as much subsidiarity as possible, since they like their red and purple outfits.

Kurtz Doesn't Take the Bait | National Catholic Reporter

Kurtz Doesn't Take the Bait | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: Archbishop Kurtz, who my wife knew when she was at Catholic Charities as the Episcopal Advisor (before the late Bishop Sullivan) handled this interview well, letting humility defuse the ideological questions.  I suspect, however, that the comment used for the headline,  that there cannot be mercy without truth nor truth without mercy was likely misunderstood by the interviewer.  The Synod is not out to change the truth, but to sniff out what is true.  The other NCR and the dissident conservative bishops don't realize that there may be a difference between their understanding of the truth and the truth itself (which does evolve with the times).