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.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Sex and pleasure

Sex and pleasure  are good in and of themselves. Procreation is too rare for them not to be. Companionship is good in and of itself. This orientation toward an end is classicalism run amok, coming from stoicism and the idealism of Plato toward sex, which likely reflected his Asexuality which infected the entire field. It is perversion.

Jesus never talked means and ends. It is time to unbaptize classicalism, especially when it is based on an undercurrent of sexual exceptionalism (asexuality).

Do traditionalilsts have a reason originating with Christ that does not depend on sexual proclivity of celibates and/or asexuals? Does it stand on its own if I do not accept a common premise, which is my right in a logical arugment? I kind of doubt it.

Their argument works in a hierarchical culture or even a despotic one. It fails in an individualism/libertarianism and in egalitarianism. Both cultures are legitimate world views. It is time to stop wondering why Humanae Vitae is so ignored, quit hopine all will repent or assume all will be damned and make yourselves useful and deal with reality, starting with the sexual orientation of the clergy through the years, which attracted gay and asexual orientees and led to a peculiar sexual morality. Jesus did not intend his miistry to be weird. Remember that he called married men, probably was himself and that the view that he was celibate is likely an asexual myth.

I am not saying that we cannot look for means and ends. We must always remember, however, that they are logical constructs, not reality. The natural order is a construct to. It lives in langues, not nature. It gets beyond the problem of a perfect deity who cannot be harmed by sin. Such concepts are real based on wide agreement. That agreement is going away, largely because the Catholic Church overplayed its hand and the generations born after World War II (as well as those who fought it) realized that their salvation was not in the hands of the clergy, which on a second look seemed peculiar. Indeed, the heteros in the clergy saw the problem first and fled. Probably too many went in from gratitude for surviving the war and realized the implilcit asexuality was not for them. Until the Church accepts modern sexual categories and looks at how its clergy fits them, it will get more and more isolated. This is bowing to reality, not modernity.

Have the emotional maturity to realize that the critics love the Church and want it to thrive and that maybe, if you try on what we are saying, it might have a better chance. The Gates of Hell prophesy by Jesus says eventually you will. 

We are to live this life fully. Obsessing about your sin or the sins of others is to live in the original sin of blame, the knowledge of good and evil. Fixation on sexual sins causes us to ignore the more important issues of poverty and wealth. It is no wonder that Marx and the secularists condemn us, as we are worthy of condemnation. Indeed, their oracle to us is more useful than the fixation on sexual sins that may not even be sinful if looked at from a healthy sexuality.


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Dissent and Obedience in the Church

For the full debate, go to: https://www.ncronline.org/news/parish/church-reform-groups-support-call-year-laity#c-2882847
MGB: Revisiting the whole dissent thing. My dissent on LGBT matters and suggestion that doctrine should change has no impact on me, because I am not gay. While I hope my gay brother finds peace back in the Church, he did leave, largely because of the hateful tones. I will not back hate in my name. Whether hate was intended, it was received that way and when you are the Church, you are responsible for how communication lands.
My dissent on abortion is mostly on law, not doctrine. While I do dissent from the illogic of not having an abortion when a trisomic pregnancy that will assuredly kill the child before birth may also kill the mother as long as the child lives, this is a rare case that most doctors would ignore and most confessors would not even require a penance for. On law, whatever the motivation of the Brennan decision on Roe, the logic is correct. Further, it is obvious when some right wing bishop talks about the abortion law in America that they are ignorant and need not be obeyed. The sad thing is that Catholic politicians have not had the courage to correct these bishops on why Roe is not going away, at least not by repeal, that doing so would repeal most privacy law. While the bishops would love to return to rule by a Catholic mob at the state level, most of us would not.
This goes to the big dissent and obedience argument. It is not contraception and marital chastity, the sense of the faithful has already rejected that and we are not leaving. There will be no small faithful remnant that dotes on every word asexual Catholic bishops speak. Like any dysfunctional organization, we simply ignore the powers that be.
The big argument is about elections. The bishops long for the day that they can speak from the pulpit and be obeyed in the voting booth. Sadly, this happened this year and we got King Donald the Idiot. It did not happen with Obama, who wisely listened to those who said to attack the movement rather than debate the question. It was not made loudly, but it did work on all the Catholics for Obama sites. Catholics voted for Obama those years in the same proportion of the general population. We will see if we can revise this line of argument for the next election and make Catholics MORE likely to vote Democratic again.
In matters of electoral politics, if the Church really wants to have influence, it will ask us first. The bishops can no longer speak in our name without doing so (especially if the Johnson Amendment is repealed - for right now, the Church cannot speak as a group at all except sideways). Simply have a meeting where we can make our arguments and then vote, preferably by secret ballot, on whom to endorse. We used to elect bishops, so none of this Church not being a democracy thing is relevant. It started as one and did well. Of course, the arguments may change some minds, which is the last thing the bishops want, since Truth has a liberal bias.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Four Reasons for Cake Bakers

There are for ways of looking at the motivations of fundamentalist Christian cake bakers who wish to avoid providing services for gay weddings.
One reason is that they think that society allowing gay weddings will bring on divine vengeance.  Frankly, there are a lot of things, like atomic weapons and capitalism that are more likely to do_that, but the reality is that Jesus said that God does not punish people with natural disasters, which he made clear in Luke 13:1-5 regarding the Tower of Siloam. If that is your logic, bake the cake. The world will not explode.
A second reason is that people may just hate homosexuals, regardless of any biblical teaching.  They are not only abnormal but they vote for Democrats.  Those who admit that have at least been honest, however that kind of hate is covered under the Civil Rights Act.  Bake the cake or face all sorts of legal penalties, although you can probably avoid providing the gay cake topper with two brides or two grooms.  Politely let the couple know that they must order their own cake topper, you don’t carry them in stock.  Being impolite is a sin.
A third reason is that the bakers actually care for the souls of the gay couple and refuse to bake the cake out of fraternal correction.  In Christianity, as the kids now say, we have an app for that.  It is the 18th Chapter of Matthew.  First you quietly admonish them, then add two or three witnesses and then refer to matter to the whole Church (who in my view should be performing the wedding).  When Jesus mentioned the Church, he meant the whole assembly, not just pastor (or overseer or bishop, there were no parish priests or diocese, just communities).  If the person ignores even these, they are to be treated as you treat the heathen and the publican.  Of course, Jesus was known for dining with heathens and publicans, so bake the cake.
The fourth possibility is the most true.  The gay couple in question, unless they have always lived lives of continence, have repented from the kind of promiscuity that is assumed to go with the gay lifestyle (and who would not live it up if they believed that the orientation they were born with damned them to Hell, allowing no sex for the morally disordered).  Leaving behind the wild life for the joys of monogamy, possibly dealing with one or both partner’s children in a parental role (or nieces and nephews in the same way) is considered conversion, as when the lost sheep is found or the prodigal son returns.  In that case, you must surely not only bake the cake, but also order the cake topper as well and encourage the Church to hold the wedding.  If the angels are celebrating, how dare you not share in their joy?
Clergy should take the same test.  Those that can’t see the appropriateness of the fourth possibility should pray about whether the religious or episcopal life is right for them and if not, call Rome as soon as possible to make arrangements to do something else.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Is the clergy objectively disordered sexually?

Whether or not the clergy’s pursuit of chastity for themselves and the rest of us is correct depeds on whether or not it comes from a universal state of sexual being. We will discount for a moment non-chaste homosexual priests (and there are plenty of these) and those who embrace their chastity, either through piety, brain washing or self-loathing. We will also exclude former perfectly healthy heterosexuals, including widowers, who embrace celibacy and chastity, although quite a few of these left the priesthood to marry. I know a few, including a cousin.

This leaves quite a few who simply do not feel attraction to others of either sex. These are called Asexuals. If homosexuals are objectively disordered, certainly asexuals (or aces) are as well because their sexual orientation is not normal in its lack of fecundity, which trads consider the objective goal of sexuality. If sexuality is integral to humanity, then asexuality is objectively disordered. If that is true, then Sacred Continence based on the assumed celibacy of Christ cannot be allowed, because Christ, as the perfect man, could not have been objectively disordered sexually. QED.

If he was the Rabbi at Capernaum before his ministry, knowledge of Jewish religion dictates he was probably married, so the contention is false anyway. Of course, Sacred Continence has no justifiable excuse outside of asexuality, except outright misogyny, which was popular in the stoic wolrd that Christianity merged with when it became the state religion of the Empire. Its continued maintenace certainly has an asexual theme.

Luckily, those of us on the left are more charitable than our asexual traditionalist brothers. Modern psychology recognizes asexuality as another sexual orientation, like heterosexuality and homosexuality. It is not a disorder. Indeed, the biggest champions of the asexual cause are the LGBTQ community. How ironic is that? I encourage celibate asexuals to embrace their identity and in doing so allow LGBTQ Catholics to embrace their’s without being thought of as disordered and without requiring of them a celibacy that may or may not be their personal charism. Unaware asexuals in ministry have done untold damage to their LGBTQ brothers, especially the youth. The first step in atoning for that is self-awareness. Start at http://www.whatisasexuality.com/intro/


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Removing General Lee

When I woke up this morning, I was not planning on writing about removing statues of Robert E. Lee. I certainly did not believe that I would see a Republican Speaker of the House denounce people protesting said removal in Charlottesville, Virginia, although given the conduct of the demonstrators, it is not hard to condemn them. Still, this will take some unpacking. The demonstrators claim that this all about their history. They are correct, so let us start there.

If Abraham Lincoln had not been elected President, the Confederacy would have never been formed. They would have been perfectly happy with a Democratic President who would continue to enforce the Fugtiive Slave Act and continue their economic system, which was based on human bondage, which is the ultimate form of Capitalism. In capitalism, the labor of the worker is wholly owned by the capitalist. Slavery wholly owns the laborer as well, with only in-kind wages provided (which were often produced by the slaves themselves, they were hardly orderign shirts from Europe for them).

Without the enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act, the calls for abolition would goad slaves to vote with their feet on slavery to the North, for Dred Scott made it clear that they were property, so the now used name African American did not apply. Even though he said otherwise, Lincoln may have even freed the slaves, although he promised he would not. The Confederates did not believe him, so they seceded and fired on Fort Sumter. History makes it clear in the acts secession of each state that slavery was the issue, not self-determination, as some Confederate apologists now claim.

The Union soldiers did not orignially go to war to end slavery, although some eventually found that cause. Their motivation was restoring the Union. They certainly were not anti-capitalists, as many worked within that system, although Lincoln certainly made anti capitalist remarks from time to time. How Lincoln would have handled reconstruction is only vaguely known, although he at least had the 13th Amendment pass, although with a dangerous exception for convicts that was expoited harshly after reconstruction. Johnson handled it badly enough to be bypassed by the Radical Republican Congress and Grant led it well, but not so well that lasted when it lasted past 1872, when federal troops were removed for political expediency. The terms of the 14th and 15th Amendments were not enforced well in either the South or the North after that point, with President Wilson making Jim Crow universal.

Northern and Southern veterans alike began to remember the gallantry of battle and a mutual comradeship rather than the reasons for the war. Northern citizens no longer cared how African Americans (as the 14th Amendment made them) were exploited in both the sharecropper and penal peonage systems. Indeed, they still don’t when these come from the War on Drugs or have to do with immigrant labor in factory and field. As long as they get their bacon and orange juice, they have no qualms about how those who make it are treated.

Confederate monuments and highways are a testament to the historical amnesia to both treason and exploitation. Indeed, the Confederate Battle Flag only began flying when the Civil Rights movement and the coverage of racist push back pricked the conscience of the nation on these issues, although advances in agriculture and road building had already removed the economic imperitive for segregation where cotton is grown. 

De-unionization had still not reached meat packing and the abuse of migrant workers someone had not been noticed until Caeser Chavez brought it to our attention. Indeed, civil rights for Latinos took seperate Supreme Court action to have them considered a protected class rather than inferior whites.

It has taken fifty years for the civil rights movement to advance to the point of demanding the removal of monuments to Confederate treason. It took some time for civil rights action to grow enough to include this demand and the election of Barack Obama made people realize they could demand more, which has led to pushback from those who would retain power through voter suppression. Obama’s election and the FoxNews pushback has emboldened those who feel the charm of Southern glory to admit the outright racism of their desire to preserve Southern culture, which is was as much about racism and economics as it was about history.

The backlash also resulted in Donald Trump, whose record on civil rights in housing is putrid. Indeed, to hide it, you would think he would double-down on both housing enforcement and countering voter suppression. He has not. He gave us the ultimate Beaureguard as Attorney General and is advised by Bannon and Gorka, whose defenders claim have no racism in their background, even though Breitbart News is all about inflaming racism in the masses. Mr. President, give us a break and fire these three clowns and at least make it look like you honor your oath to enforce the Constitution and laws of the United States.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

The Future We Want Ed. by: Sarah Leonard & Bhaskar Sunkara

When I was a fourteen-year-old recovering from a bad bout of asthma (we had no health insurance and my parents would not apply for Medicaid), I was thinking in my sickbed about the house of the future.  It would be designed to make recycling easy – and why stop there – it would have facilities to grow food, including creating beef muscle tissue without the cow (we can do that now) so that everyone would have what they want to eat, not what the collective told them to eat.  It would be built by workers laboring cooperatively and paid equally.   People work until they paid back the labor hours that went into constructing the house, plus enough for a lifetime dividend – although most things would be done cooperatively so there would be little need for money.  I called the concept Inter-Independence.

This was needed because we were (and are) fowling the earth, raping the land and on the verge of nuclear annihilation (this was 1977). That is how I became a cooperative (and democratic) socialist. I have written several essays related to this and will look at the various chapters of the book through that lens, so I make no effort or claim to summarize the discussion of the book so far by our Book Club.

The Introduction was an interesting statement of the problem and call for a solution, although it was light on demands – although the succeeding chapters had some of these.

Working for the Weekend showed the need for full-employment – the real definition not the neo-liberal one found in government reports and political debates.  Back when worker pay matched productivity we had wage and price control and a 70% marginal tax rate on the wealthy.  Nixon junked the first and Reagan  the second.  We can’t go back, but we can pursue worker ownership and control, i.e., cooperative socialism.  As for the workday, I like 6.5 hours for 4 days and Fridays off.  Who’s with me!  I also want to shift lesser educated workers to mandatory paid training so that no one toils at a bad job because they are less than fully literate.

Socialist Education raises some interesting points, although I temper any analysis of U.S. educational attainment with a desire to compare the US to the EU as a whole, with their member states compared to our states.  Some American states would be at the top – others worse than anyone else in the world.  Of course, if we were really socialistic, teachers and parents would control individual schools, not the central neo-liberal administration.  High School students would be paid to attend (and unionized) and parents who have not attained full literacy would, as above, be paid to go to school.  Going away from property taxes (or even a land value tax) and toward income tax or Value Added Tax funding would be required for goals so large.

How to Make Black Lives Really Truly Matter highlights Dr. King’s admiration of Henry George, with his citizen’s dividend and land value taxation.  Though George had at times been supported by socialists, the vision as it now stands is heavy on liberty and light on government – which is fine when cooperative socialism is achieved, although by then it won’t be needed. We can (and do) have a Universal Basic Income for Kids in the Child Tax Credit, although it is not generous enough and should be paid through wage or VAT taxes as an offset.  Also, land value taxes cannot be federal without an amendment. This is mostly a state proposition.

Sex class is a wonderful essay that highlights, among other things, the injustice of having women work as caretakers for children while their own children do without or are cared for by relatives or neighbors.  It calls for collective community-controlled living arrangements – and I am all for that – but in the cooperative, not the geographical town or city.  I am also all for men being able to stay home as their wives work – indeed more men doing this removes competition for management and executive positions (although I would eventually make such positions electoral and force the incumbents to bid salaries down in open auction in advance of the election).  I would also provide easy access to child care at school and university for teen and twenty-something parents.
The Green and The Red covers the water front on the environment, going back to the New Deal and up to the problem of carbon emissions and overconsumption by America and the West.  Moving toward a shorter work week will help part of this (see 26-hour suggestion above) as well as decreasing consumption.  Note that consumption is the balm for the working class which has prevented a Marxian revolution for all these years.  Owning a home where you grow your own food will, by nature, lead to less outside work as good production takes time.  Fusion powered electric cars do the rest (preferably with central computer control to end most accidents).

Red Innovation demonstrates how much real progress was publicly funded and expropriated by the capitalists, who use technology in their war with labor and against poor nations.  Instead of making a technology a public resource, I would emphasize innovation in cooperative enterprises, giving innovators a bonus and – to the extent the innovation lasts for years – stock, rather than paying engineers and scientists higher salaries but keeping all the gain from innovation in the hands of the capitalists.  Innovators would be able to retire earlier – with more shares quicker in the cooperative and forgiveness of some of the home mortgage debt.

The Cure for Bad Science seeks to make science more on real-world applications.  After two years of doctoral work in political science building to what would have been a career writing more about mathematics than politics and how to help the polity find better solutions, I have to agree.  I would fund science with an excise tax on anything developed with public funds – with a high enough rate to keep research flowing.  I would also find scientists among those who never got a chance for an education – again, through paid remedial education, either publicly or through cooperative socialist employers (in lieu of taxes).

Finding the Future of Criminal Justice was provocative, especially the suggestion to abolish the police. I would more transform them by dealing with crime as a mental health problem – treating some and separating the rest from society in long term care (i.e., the sociopaths who have been dangerous).  Pimps should also get mandatory treatment or be locked up, with the trafficked women just getting treatment.  Legalizing drugs almost goes without mention – and crime committed while high will especially be a mental health issue.  The truth is that the war on drugs has been the war on black male voters, although they can’t help but lock up white trash meth dealers too.   A police state is needed when on part of society demands another behave – when society lacks the General Will Rousseau wrote about.  It’s time to end the police state. Disarming police and getting the guns also goes without saying.  All the guns, including those used against snitches.

After Gay Marriage wonders what is next, especially for Trans people and for those who don’t want to marry.  In some areas, progress has been made and forgotten about until something happens and many places still have domestic partner provisions, although not all.  I would answer that Employment Non-Discrimination should be next on the agenda.  Hopefully cooperatives won’t have these problems.

Small, Not Beautiful talks about business size.  I agree.  Bigger employers and cooperatives are often better for workers (even if CEOs are overpaid – not a problem for cooperatives).  If we ever do pass a Value Added Tax, it should include provisions forcing larger firms to pay the tax benefits to its 1099 contractors and to bring franchises into the larger organization (or at least allow franchise employees to divert their Social Security employer contribution to buy stock in the larger enterprise).  The use of franchising to avoid unionization must end and cooperative socialism will end it. Smallness is not a boon.  It is the flaw in Distributism, which would throw out our technological civilization in a mistaken search for progress.

The Red and the Black gives one of the best explanations of the differences between capitalism, socialism and the  problems of the Soviets that most of us have read.  Instead of a fund to invest in firms, I would use Social Security employer taxes (credited equally) to buy employers out and have a percentage of that as an insurance fund to pay off employees and retirees should a covered business fail.   Cooperative employees would have make v. buy decisions to see what gets made internally, what the cooperative buys and what members buy (and with how much money).  In what would be a free market for labor, everyone would have an equal base wage – with adjusting stock grants for education, innovation and longevity – which must be compensated as part of the supply cost for labor (and the preference for leisure as one gets older).  The last piece is probably what Marx was searching for in the labor theory of value.

Coda has interesting suggestions, but I suspect it was pre-Bernie.  I have some too. Again, on education, I would compare EU members to US states for apples to apples.  I would transfer state and local government pensions to Social Security.  I would regionalize the states into 7 regions, mostly autonomous.  Of course, there will always be differences between ALEC states (or regions) and Blue states, or regions, even if they year all states go blue, which could happen. We need a special emphasis on outreach in ALEC  states, even though it would be dangerous sometimes.  I would nationalize (or regionalize) Medicaid and Social Security Part D.  Public unions should lead the fight for a seven hour work day (to start).  Lastly and again, I would pay poor people to get educated and trained and insure them through the training provider’s health policy.