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.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

How to Avoid Another Argentina Foreign Debt Crisis | National Catholic Reporter

How to Avoid Another Argentina Foreign Debt Crisis | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: Sadly, the Argentines took out too much international debt (a lesson for the US Treasury, which is the leading world debtor) without the revenue stream to pay it back.  To the extent that this situation is the result of fraud from others in the finanical world (say, those who sold them on securitizing revenue streams), those individuals should be gone after with a vengence - as the US Courts are obviously not allowing either mercy or forgiveness for Argentina.  Of course, if Argentina defaults, the banks really have no recourse but to threaten their ability to borrow or trade currencies - so Argentina would have to switch to an asset backed currency (gold anyone?) to tell the banksters to shove it.  Their alternative is the one that Europe should use for its debtors - a unified currency, tax, budget and debt with its closes neighbors under one new government.  The bigger the country, the less it can be pushed around or be vulnerable to declines in one industry or area.  Its what the US did when it passed the Constitution and it seems to have worked.  Europe and South America should both try it (Brazil is actually big enough - but has civil values problems) and see how the banksters change their tone.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Mercy, Part III | National Catholic Reporter

Mercy, Part III | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: Having been shown mercy, we must show the same - both in person and in politics (Social Security arrangements are part of this - something I still have arguments with libertarians about.  Mercy  is equated with Love (or Charity) as found in Corinthians Chapter 13.  In other words we must enounter others with love (and pay our taxes in the same spirit.   Kasper mentions the corporal works of Mercy, as found in Matthew 25, which we must accomplish joyfully, while bemoaning their lack of a central place in the current Cathecism. The seven deadly sins are seen as a more productive way to examine the conscience then the Commandments, which often yield an examination of conscience that is self centered rather than other centered - which is exactly the wrong way to go.  He also does not use Mercy as a way to avoid any conscieness of sin - like abortion and assisted suicide (he does not entertain the thought that either might not always be sinful - which to me is a failure of imagination if death is certain or likely to occur in a dangerous pregnancy).

The ultimate end of mercy is not some moral excellence, or enhanced compassion, but the finding of Christ in our acts of mercy - so it is revelation rather than just morality (as often as you do these things you do them for me).  This is not about Heaven, but life here on earth.  MSW writes that this plays into our tendency to reduce morality to ethics - that we must keep God in the center.  This, of course, dances with the words of St. Francis to preach the Gospel, using words only when necessary - about the most succint way of integrating morals with our inner light. It is a light we must share (not hide under a basket). It is not for only our own conversion, but also the conversion of others.  For the whole Church and world, not just for self development.   Kaspar also argues against Mercy as a source of cheap grace to avoid the confessional (maybe - but arguing about the sinfulness of certain acts is not necessarily denial if they have been mischaracterized by the Church).

Kasper also brings in social justice (back to that whole tax and spend thing the Acton Institute rejects as part of Catholic teaching).  Kaspar has taken heat lately because he sounds like Pope Francis - and it seems there is some pent up and unsaid frustration about the Holy Father.  Of course, this book is not about Kasper, the Pope or even Pope Benedict - all of whom say the same thing about this subject.  These words are from Christ - which is bad news for those who would slay the messenger when Jesus is the message.

ROFL: Burke to Chicago | National Catholic Reporter

ROFL: Burke to Chicago | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: I'm not that familiar with Fr. Z, but I have the feeling he was not being tongue in cheek.  Considering that Hillary, who is from Chicago originally (though an adopted New Yorker) may be the next president, nothing would be more of a gag gift than Ray Burke in Chicago.  Or they could send him to Rockville Center so he and Dolan can plot sedition.  Neither is likely - indeed, the whole thing about Curial service being a sacrifice is very funny - since it was more of a penance than an honor - one Burke probably has not yet served out.  Still, I do have a retort to Burke going to Chicago - ordain Fr. Michael Pfleger as his adjunt bishop.  Now that would be funny.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Meyerson on Morally Corrupt Corporate Greed | National Catholic Reporter

Meyerson on Morally Corrupt Corporate Greed | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: A must read.  The Post gives an interesting headline, but the text also includes treatment of how the CEOs gain a bit over much.  The takeway is that nowadays return on investment exceeds economic growth.  In other words, someone is being cheated. (Hint, its both the workers and the consumers).

A Real Religious Liberty Issue | National Catholic Reporter

A Real Religious Liberty Issue | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: You can read the underlying article if you can read Spanish.  Mine is a bit rusty, so I will take MSW's word for it.  I wonder if the harsh tone is meant to get a bit more attention with both the populace and the Cuban government?

Mercy, Part II | National Catholic Reporter

Mercy, Part II | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: The most important thing about the nativity story is not that we believe it, but that Jesus believed it.  That is why he could speak with authority about forgiving sins and curing on the Sabbath.  As important is that he said the Sabbath is for man (in other words, not for God) and that this can be applied to all our moral teaching, including that about the family and including those individuals we don't consider to be families - but are.  What caused Jesus the agony on the cross was that he at some point had to tell his mother that he is dead (Gods don't die), giving up his divinity by giving her to John's care and giving John the mission to care for her, not baptize the world just yet.  This emotional pain, only possible after the physical torture, had Jesus cry out to the Father for mercy - which was granted as he finally drank of the fruit of the fine before dying.

If the Passion is a divine vision quest, not a bloody divine sacrifice, the whole idea of mercy must be turned on its head - probably a bit more than Kasper intended in his treatment of substitutionary attonement. God felt what we feel, so we can now go to him, and his altar, to escape our sin.  Ironically, it is easier for many in the Curia to except two dudes getting married than this change.  Of course, one implies the other.  All morality must be looked at through the lens of Jesus suffering to understand our suffering and as a balm for our souls, not a ransom.  Morals which do not serve that purpose are not, therefore, from God.  Damnation is not part of the afterlife as much as it is part of this one.  Jesus is the answer and should not be the cause of greater alienation through unbearable moral precepts.  The harder thing, of course, is for both clergy and faithful to follow the example of mercy, to bring happiness where there is pain, especially the pain of divorce.

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.