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, 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).

Archbishop Chaput's Remarkable Challenge to Pope Francis | National Catholic Reporter

Archbishop Chaput's Remarkable Challenge to Pope Francis | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: I would love to see a purer Church - one where Chaput, Burke and Tobin are retreat directors and not bishops.  His confusion comes from the fact that he used to know how to get that Red Hat.  I wish him luck, especially if His Holiness has Internet Access or a staff who tracks what people say about the Synod.  Maybe Burke needs an auxiliary in Malta.  As for the sheep and the goats, I suspect it is Chaput, Burke and Tobin who are wandering around in the wild, not Francis and the rest who seem to know the difference between essential truth (things like the Trinity) and natural law (which can improve with new evidence) and practice - who we allow to get married, how we treat divorce, who receives Communion.



As I said before on the CNS article, Chaput's job is not to tell Philly what to think - but instead to find out what they think.  I have a similarly conservative bishop in Arlington.  Lets hope he is not so confused.  (Even if he is, I will copy the Vatican with my remarks - as well as the reason why I am doing so).  As for same sex marriage and the Church, I suspect that this is where we will find the God of surprises - especially when the Laity weighs in on wanting to have their gay children married in Church.



It was not so long ago that Catholic hospitals excluded long time gay companions from medical decision-making, letting an estranged family member supplant the person who was essentially the spouse.  To a great extent, those little insults created the movement to marriage equality.  If you read the Gospel with an open heart, you will note that marriage is when a person leaves their family and clings to another.  That applies to this issue as much as it applied to a persons family seeking a divorce for their child so that the family can have better marital connections.  Are gay Catholics who left the Church after such insults lost?  Maybe - but it is not sinfulness on their part that drove them away.  Until the Burkes and Chaputs of the world understand that, there will be much kicking and screaming in the conservative camp.   Hopefully, instead of allowing Chaput to shoot off his mouth at Pope during his visit to Philly, someone else may be found for the archdiocese.

Chicago's new archbishop to live in rectory at Holy Name Cathedral | National Catholic Reporter

Chicago's new archbishop to live in rectory at Holy Name Cathedral | National Catholic Reporter by CNS.  MGB: This is how they roll in Spokane.  Good to see.   Getting rid of the mansion is an essential first step in defining his tenure (I will not call it rule).

Archbishop Chaput blasts Vatican debate on family, says 'confusion is of the devil' | National Catholic Reporter

Archbishop Chaput blasts Vatican debate on family, says 'confusion is of the devil' | National Catholic Reporter by David Gibson, RNS.  MGB:  If the Archbishop is confused, then perhaps he needs a job he can cope with - as he will be of absolutely no use to his Archdiocese in listening to the people on these issues.  Indeed, if he told me that Philly Catholics overwhelming supported his position - I would think he was lying.  Indeed, he seems to have some trouble distinguishing between a civil marriage and a Church based one.  Unless Pennsylvania has a remarkably different marriage law, civil marriages are performed by the court - and in Pennsylvania you can even get married with no judge or minister at all (its a Quaker thing - my brother and his wife got married that way).



What frightens Chaput about the Synod is that at the end, most bishops might say that the families of gay Catholics want a sacramental marriage for their children - maybe even in Philly.  It is fear, not doubt or consideration, that is the work of the Devil.  Someone needs to give the Archbishop an exorcism, else he will never get his red hat. (Indeed, what is confusing him is likely how much he will have to bend in order to become a cardinal - it used to be that hard core orthodoxy did it - but not any more)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Democracy For Sale | National Catholic Reporter

Democracy For Sale | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: Super PACs are a problem if your billionaires are not as generous as their billionaires.  Either, the result is probably a TV ad buy designed to put your view of the facts in front of the public in a way that is not flattering to the other guy.  We used to (and probably still) do this with newspapers.  It is as old as the Republic itself - and that is why the Supreme Court is unlikely to do anything,  nor will the parties, because they both use the same tactics.  The libertarian view has always been say what you want - but minimize what government does so that ads are not relevant anyway.  Unless we can organize a really good Socialist Super-PAC, nothing will happen to reign them in.

NRA In Newtown, CT | National Catholic Reporter

NRA In Newtown, CT | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: At some point, boldness becomes stupidity.  I think the NRA is there.

The Synod: What Does It Mean? Part II | National Catholic Reporter

The Synod: What Does It Mean? Part II | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: On the second day's comments, let me first say that if Francis wants the bishops to listen to the Spirit, we must remember first and foremost that the Spirit is Love - and that solutions that do not serve Love come from somewhere else.  Love is not only for families who may need a rethinking of the Church's teachings, but also for such seemingly unlovable people as Cardinals Burke and Chaput.  Dissent must exist between both of those bounds.  We must be gentle with those who think they will be cast into Hell if they revise the prejudices of the past.



Witness must be given to the concept that morality is for people, not for God's sake.  This is usually a hard one for conservatives to handle in their hubris.  Speaking out against Eugenics, which is essential, is an entirely different witness than the project of celibates teaching married couples how to love each other (not that they don't sometimes need help).



As for Mia Farrow encouraging the Episcopal Church - at some point when the Church of Rome makes itself right in relation to the Orthodox Church, which may have taken Peter's primacy with it when it left the shores of the Tiber, there may be reason to make the western Church more like the Episcopal.  How sects and Churches relate (and the uncharitable belief that they are somehow different), is a matter of politics - not faith.  While some Protestant sects need to return to more orthodox beliefs about Eucharist - and when they take Communion it will be obvious to them, bringing them back is something that is absolutely necessary for the march of history.  To do this will take humility on all sides - which is part of Love.



The conservative bishops, with all of their rush to be covered by the media to reassure the world that God is an Orge, at best provide a useful foil to the need for change. They are as wrong today as their predecessors were wrong in the past.  Still, we must love these poor fools. Mercy cannot only be the mercy to the sinner (which even conservatives agree with), but also mercy in realizing that some people may not really be sinning at all.  That kind of stance takes faith, as well as love.



Such love will bind the wounds of the Church.  Francis is showing it - indeed, he is off the Turkey - which always makes the Romanists nervous.  If we follow Christ, through him, we may just get it right.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Silk: Is Douthat a Donatist? | National Catholic Reporter

Silk: Is Douthat a Donatist? | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: Ross makes some interesting observations and comparing his intellect with Silk's is a bit much.  The question of Communion by the remarried is not so much one of sin as practice. The Church could simply opine that receiving unworthily was never part of issues of marital law or even all but the gravest) as opposed to all, mortal sins.  Silk is clever, however, in stating that the argument dissolves into rigor - but that is the nature of the beast.  One can also be called a Rigorist by addressing the question of what kinds of marriages were Jesus talking about in Matthew - all of them or the ones where a family broke up a previously arranged marriage to form a more socially upward one?  Other marriages where the actions of one spouse toward another can be blamed for not just breaking a marriage, but for doing actual harm, should be treated differently - as leaving such marriages is not sinful - and nor would finding a new spouse if one is the victimized party (victimizes should be excluded from future marriage - and indeed the Church - until they repent and the judge of repentance should be the wronged spouse, not just the Confessor.  Is his rigorism?  Probably, but it is useful is setting a question that his been left far too open for centuries.

Wilton Meets with Parents with LGBT Children | National Catholic Reporter

Wilton Meets with Parents with LGBT Children | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: I wonder if some of the gay children (not a good term, as I am sure some of the children described are in their 20s and 30s, if not older) will be at the retreat the Archbishop mentions - and how some of the not so welcoming bishops will howl if they come forward for and receive Christ in the Eucharist.  At least this pastor is listening and seeing - may he be useful in opening the eyes of others.  I like his Charism.  Perhaps Phili should loose its red hat to Atlanta.

Dionne on Dems & White, Working Class Voters | National Catholic Reporter

Dionne on Dems & White, Working Class Voters | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: About Udall, bringing up the war on women only works when the other side is actually lobby grenades at their own feet - especially in a purple state.  He could have done a better job by promising progress on legalizing weed, since those in opposition are not voting for him anyway.  There is also time for the GOP to make some comment on legitimate rape - but Udall should have kept his powder dry until they do.

The Synod: What Does It Mean? Part I | National Catholic Reporter

The Synod: What Does It Mean? Part I | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: It seems the Pope was an equal opportunity scold, saying things about not judging by the letter of the law alone - but also not making change for simply the cause of mercy.  Of course, in looking to be surprised, one need only look to gay marrieds, who can model love sometimes more intense in its care in adversity than straights.  Also, some of us liberals are not pleading for mercy in some cases, but are saying mercy is not necessary if there is no sin.  Indeed, the first place we encounter God is in the family, not the Church (to answer Cloutier).  I suspect that the real work of the Synod is for the bishops to listen to us as to how we encounter God in the family (and when we do not).   Sadly, of course, Cloutier is also wrong about the Church staking out positions for politics sake.  It has done so far to often, especially on gay marriage, rather than encountering gay couples to see if, indeed, there is sin present.  Such would be more profound revelation than any prophet (and it takes no credential in Theology to see it or be a prophet).  As for MSW  on consumerism, he needs to know that consumerism is what prevents workers from a Marxist revolution.  The ball is now in the court of the bishops - which in the US is the USCCB, who meets so.  Let us see if they can get one over the net.

Friday, October 17, 2014

EJ Profiles Next Gov of PA | National Catholic Reporter

EJ Profiles Next Gov of PA | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: I agree that he is much better than Corbett, who I am glad will lose. I am also glad he is the kind of boss who gives a share of profit to his employees - although as a socialist I would hope he eventually gives them a shae of the shares (if not the controlling shares). More importantly, I hope that, barring crisis, he governs in the same way.



There would be a lesson for the Synod fathers in doing this as well.

EJ Profiles Next Gov of PA | National Catholic Reporter

EJ Profiles Next Gov of PA | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: I agree that he is much better than Corbett, who I am glad will lose. I am also glad he is the kind of boss who gives a share of profit to his employees - although as a socialist I would hope he eventually gives them a shae of the shares (if not the controlling shares). More importantly, I hope that, barring crisis, he governs in the same way.



There would be a lesson for the Synod fathers in doing this as well.