Thursday, December 20, 2012

Pope Benedict writes article for the Financial Times


Looks like Benedict is on a roll...
Christians shouldn’t shun the world; they should engage with it. But their involvement in politics and economics should transcend every form of ideology. Christians fight poverty out of a recognition of the supreme dignity of every human being, created in God’s image and destined for eternal life. Christians work for more equitable sharing of the earth’s resources out of a belief that, as stewards of God’s creation, we have a duty to care for the weakest and most vulnerable. Christians oppose greed and exploitation out of a conviction that generosity and selfless love, as taught and lived by Jesus of Nazareth, are the way that leads to fullness of life. Christian belief in the transcendent destiny of every human being gives urgency to the task of promoting peace and justice for all.
Conspicuous absence of any mention of Ayn Rand, liberty, "free markets", creative destruction, social Darwinism, balanced budgets, deficit reduction, inter-generational debt, smaller civil government, metallic "money", etc...

In fact quite a progressive economic view imo.  This progressive view may be getting "legs" at the Vatican as this FT article follows another recent Papal message for World Peace Day that focused mainly on unrestricted economic justice.

Of course no specific policy prescriptions as my read of Benedict is that he thinks (rightly imo) that is ultimately the responsibility of the individuals of the laity who occupy positions of authority in civil government.  He touches on this in the article with a not bad examination of the Lord's recommendation to Israel to be paying the Roman poll taxes imposed by the earthly civil government of that time.

Unfortunately, all of our US faith-possessing economic policymakers seem to be solely sourced from "Christen-DUMB" at present.

15 comments:

frlbane said...

Christians oppose greed and exploitation out of a conviction that generosity and selfless love, as taught and lived by Jesus of Nazareth, are the way that leads to fullness of life. Pope B

Speaking of "exploitation", when is the Pope going to take on the banking cartel which systematically exploits the poor and other less "creditworthies"? There would be far less need to help the poor if they weren't stolen from in the first place.

Matt Franko said...

f,

He stays out of specific policy prescriptions like you mention with the banking system here.... doesnt see that as HIS job and neither do I... that's what we have been given the authority of civil government for... we have to come up with our own laws.

rsp,

Tom Hickey said...

What the pope is talking about is creating a culture, and cultures are created one heart at a time. If you want to change the world begin by changing yourself.

But it is not all individual. It was Aquinas who said, IIRC, that it is difficult to be a good person in a bad society. "Culture" is what cultures the heart and raises humans above mere animality. while we remain animals, we can aspire to be "angels" too. In fact, according to Christian theology, humans are above angels as "brothers and sisters in Christ." So there are elements of individuality and community here.

I thought that this was a simple message and well stated.

Tom Hickey said...

I would also say that this is an implicit indictment of liberalism conflated with overemphasis on personal freedom of choice with pursuit of narrow self-interest. The moral challenge is to substitute altruism form narrow self-interest, e.g., manifested as pursuit of maximum utility narrowly conceived. A truly rational person would realize that the way to maximize self-interest is through the good of the whole.

Of course, this doesn't imply collectivism as extreme individualists object. To the degree that love is selfless one sets others before one, and one's own happiness becomes dependent on the happiness of others. This is being mature as a spiritual being embodied in animal form.

John Zelnicker said...

Tom -- Succinct and well said.

I find the Christian economic perspective to be quite progressive generally speaking because it's communitarian which to me is genuine progress over individualism as seen in our culture.todSedb

Tom Hickey said...

This is why I say that I am to the left of communism.

However, I do not consider myself a Christian in the normative sense, any more than I consider myself a normative Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, etc., although I see all wisdom traditions based on the core spirituality of humanity that is not necessarily "theistic."

Moreover, I reject the naturalism-supernaturalism dichotomy as based on a false understanding, so I aslo see this view compatible with rationalism.

Rig Veda 1.164.46: ekam sad vipra bahudha vadanti meaning, "Being is one, the sages express it variously." Being is truth, that which corresponds with knowledge. In Medieval Scholastic thought, the attributes of being are unity, truth, goodness and beauty. The same or similar transcendentals are found in other wisdom traditions.

David said...

Given I have a Presbyterian background, I thought the Pope gave a nice counter to this;


In 2008, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly said of the U.S. budget crisis: “creat[ing] ever-increasing debt and unfunded or underfunded obligations for future generations of Americans are a grave moral concern as well as a clear danger to the republic.” The same Assembly further “call[ed] upon the church and the nation to study the policies and practices that have created this grave moral and economic crisis, to repent of the sins of greed and of stealing from future generations who cannot defend themselves, and to call upon our citizens and national leaders to make the sacrifices necessary to begin to solve this problem before it is too late.”

http://www.pcusa.org/news/2012/12/11/addressing-moral-concern-deficits-through-principl/

Matt Franko said...

David,

I havent posted them but I have been searching and have found some pretty out of paradigm stuff out of the RC Church over time....

That said, perhaps Benedict is trying to LEAD on this... and is not mentioning those typical "self-imposed constraints" that you often hear in these situations...

I dont think it unreasonable to think that any Church leadership could be mislead in this regard just like anyone else out of paradigm... so I'm not necessarily "disappointed" to see this out of the Presbyterians...

The one thing that the Church doesnt seem to grasp is the concept of "nomisma" (which btw is the EXACT word the Lord used in the Greek scripture cited by Benedict here..) vs. other forms of "money"... it all looks the same to them, they cannot see the nuance...

rsp,

Matt Franko said...

John,

One thing I see is that the Church internal to itself probably became "communitarian" because Paul cut them off from access to the economic surplus that was being distributed by the civil govt back then via the pagan temples...

Paul forbade the early believers from attending the feasts and eating idol sacrifices if they were informed that the food was sacrificed... so this probably created a condition of surplus and shortage within the early church... Paul told those who came upon surplus to share with those who faced shortage... but just within the church!

as outside of that it wasnt needed looks like, the civil govt of that day in Greece/Rome, although pagan, still AT LEAST made sure that everyone was taken care of with basic needs... COMPARE THIS TO TODAY!

Anyway, this arrangement still seems to remain in view and has never left.

though now we have the positions of civil govt available to us, but somehow the church cant see fully this and instead continues to focus on this "redistribution" of surplus thru "charity" rather than just using the authority of civil govt that has been given to us to do things better THRU OUR OWN LAW THAT WE CAN CONTROL NOW...

Paul didnt go all around Greece and Rome opening up "soup kitchens"... he didnt have to.

It's all of this libertarianism (small "L") or something that is preventing the church from recognizing the option we have available to us today to exercise true and just authority via our civil law...

They too think we are "out of money"... it's really sad...

rsp,

Matt Franko said...

Tom,

Notice here: "Christian belief in the transcendent destiny of every human being..."

imo Benedict looks like is moving towards universal salvation and shit-canning the demonic and false "Hell Doctrine" once and for all possibly... no mention of "Catholics" here but rather "Christians"... this is significant imo...

rsp,

Tom Hickey said...

Benedict is asserting the "liberal" view here, although he is a conservative and has surrounded himself with conservatives. But it is true that he is moving more toward the center, I think, under considerable pressure of the liberal faction of the Church, which growing while the conservative faction is shrinking. But I have not been following this closely.

John Zelnicker said...

Tom -- I spent some time in my 20's studying various Eastern and Western wisdom traditions and I have always maintained that interest. I've been spending some time at Core Spirituality and someday we might have a good discussion. My thinking is that, as you put it, there is a "core spirituality" that is at the center of all the major ethical and religious belief systems that is the same across cultures, time, and geography. Joseph Campbell and his book "The Mythic Image" have been a major influence.

Tom Hickey said...

Right, more and more people are noticing this and self-identifying as "spiritual but not religious."

It's not possible to contain the ocean exclusively in anyone's bucket.

googleheim said...

I hope the Pope is to counter the Austrian and German models which are pegging Italy and Greece.

The capital flight from Greece was a Greece trap - those who moved their monies to other country banks probably got into tax traps

Just as when Merkel forced the Swiss to uncover Germans hiding their money in Switzerland a few years ago.

Also - what about Merkel's "multiculturalism is a failed experiment" ??

Matt Franko said...

Goog,

Those teutonic morons remain a scourge on the west same as it ever was it seems...

rsp,