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Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

“Catholax” by Deacon James H. Toner

In 07 Observations on 2016/09/09 at 12:00 AM

What we think is the right road
I go to Mass every Sunday, usually. But when Mass is over, I have a life to lead as I want. I’m a Catholic, but I’m not a fanatic or a zealot.

But it’s the wrong road

Vice President Joe Biden is Catholic, as are five of the eight current justices of the Supreme Court, about 160 members of Congress, and about a dozen of the 35 (or so) people President Barack Obama has named to his cabinet. One might conclude that U.S. public policy must be well grounded in Catholic moral and social teaching. Not so, of course.

The reason that our public policy often directly contravenes Church teaching is that so many of our “leading” Catholics are, well, “Catholax.”

Laxism (from the Latin for “slackness”) is a 17th-century concept in moral theology that excused Catholics from their moral duties on very slight and insufficient grounds. When Catholic teaching authorities (ranging from parents and priests to college faculties) abandon the inculcation of moral virtue, replacing it with casuistry – case studies and weak-kneed or perplexed ethical “analysis” – laxism results.

Modern laxism dates at least to 1960 when presidential candidate John F. Kennedy declared, “I do not speak for my Church on public matters; and the Church does not speak for me.”

If, as we Catholics believe, Our Lord is head of the Church, then denying the authority of the Church is tantamount to denying the authority of Christ.

So often, all of us – not just politicians – find it much easier to acknowledge the “authority” of a “replacement supreme being.” That replacement may be the idol or mammon of power, prestige, pelf (money) or politics, but the replacement of God or of God’s authority is always at the heart of sin. When we substitute anything for God, we endorse that substitute as divine, and we begin the worship of false gods (see Catechism of the Catholic Church 398).

Worshipping spurious gods invariably leads to treating the world and the things of the world as more sacred than what is truly divine. Wrote philosopher Peter Kreeft: “The Church needs to recover some moxie, some chutzpah. We need to stop being nice and conforming to the world, saying, ‘We’re going to win you by being just like you.’ The Church has got to say, ‘We’re better than you – not better people than you, but we have a better worldview, a deeper truth. Our product’s the best one on the market.’ The Church has been so bedeviled by the American religion of egalitarianism that we are terrified to claim superiority. Only if you believe you have something better can you be enthusiastic about it.”

Having become tepid about Catholic teaching, we find it convenient, perhaps necessary, simply to ignore the admonition found in Revelation: “Because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I am going to spit you out of my mouth” (3:16; see also Rom 12:11).

So Catholic enthusiasm may be necessary but, as St. John Paul II told us, enthusiasm alone is not sufficient: “The enthusiastic faith which enlivens your communities is a great enrichment, but it is not enough. It must be accompanied by a Christian formation which is solid, comprehensive and faithful to the Church’s Magisterium.”

“Catholax” may be remiss or negligent about doctrine. They may be vague or slack about the faith. They may be careless or indifferent about the liturgy. The effects of such moral atrophy, however, are well beyond the realm of what may be. The result of lax Catholicism is public policy unmistakably corrupted by “serious errors in the areas of education, politics, social action, and morals” (CCC 407).

Our pre-eminent Catholic duty is always to be witnesses for Christ and for His Church (see CCC 2044). That duty is not minimized – in fact, it is maximized – when one enters the corridors of power and politics. We must speak for Christ and for His Church; and God have mercy upon our souls if we say that Christ and His Church do not speak for us. Courageous public witness requires our being steadfast in the faith: “Unless your faith is firm you shall not be firm” (Is 7:9; see also 1 Cor 16:13). No wonder the lax flicker and flutter, slip and slide, and toss and turn in every political wind: they have no moral anchor. So they are “children, carried by the waves and blown about by every shifting wind of the teaching of deceitful men, who lead others into error by the tricks they invent” (Eph 4:14; see also Col 2:8, Heb 13:9).

We are called “to be the light of the world. Thus, the Church shows forth the kingship of Christ over all creation and in particular over human societies” (CCC 2105). That is our duty, despite the siren songs of the world. And firmness – not laxity – in the faith is our trust (2 Tm 1:14) and our joy (Rom 12:12).

Deacon James H. Toner serves at Our Lady of Grace Church in Greensboro.

– See more at: http://www.catholicnewsherald.com/104-news/viewpoints/713-deacon-james-h-toner-catholax#sthash.exHxfnqs.dpuf”

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Abstractions?

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2013/10/10 at 8:29 AM

General Semantics is the study of words and how they are used to manipulate us and affect us in positive and negative ways. For example, the manufacturer of Dove soap has been successful for years. Suppose they had used a synonym, “pigeon,” instead?   A term used in this field is “high level of abstraction”.  This means that a word can mean almost anything because it is so abstract  and exists only in the mind, e.g. religion, education, patriotism, economics, love and the like. Try asking 10 people to tell you the first word that comes to mind when they hear any of these words. There will be at least 7 different words  offered. This is why Socrates said that those who want to debate must first define what they are going to discuss. Suppose persons A and B were always arguing religion. It turned out that when A thought of religion, he thought of salvation, heaven, eternity and peace of mind. B saw religion as money-grubbing, fund-drives, money sermons, etc. No wonder they could not reach any agreement; they were not arguing about the same thing.

There are two words frequently tossed around  freely in political discourse, but actually mean nothing because they mean almost anything to anyone. These words are “liberal/progressive” and “conservative.”  I have heard them all my life, but I would be unable to give a definition to cover what is involved in these terms. In some circles, the words cause knee-jerk reaction. “Liberal is good/bad.”  “Conservative is good/bad.”

While it might be difficult define these terms, it would not be difficult to describe them from the viewpoint of history, how they actually operate in everyday life.

Liberals tend to act on emotion and appeal to emotion to make their points. Their proposals are meant to make themselves feel good about themselves, to feel noble, generous, caring, concerned only with others and wanting  the best for everyone.

Polls have shown they are not particularly religious and when affiliated with some religion, tend to look for the easiest doctrines, or to alter it to suit themselves.

They have a misplaced faith in the almighty Federal Government, and see it as the only source of all society’s needs. Some actually see the Feds as substitutes for religion and parents. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the most overturned appellate court, actually ruled that parental rights stop at the schoolhouse door, which was later overturned.

They have no problem with huge national deficits because life is now. Later on can look out for itself.  Spend now to attain liberal Utopia.

Generally they reject the Judea-Christian element in the history of the U.S.

With this, they reject the traditional moral code of Christianity. All religions are sacred….except Christianity which is always fair game for mockery and cynicism.

The individual who runs afoul of the law is a victim, not a criminal. Society has let him down.

There is no objective truth. Truth is in one’s own mind. We decide for ourselves what is true and what is moral.  We are not to try to impose our beliefs on others. (The exception is liberal policies which are always to be considered above reproach; liberals have no problem trying to impose liberal ideas on others.)

There is a mania for equality at the expense of liberty. This is why they are so fond of whatever schemes promote income distribution. People have no right to be wealthy (except themselves) and to be poor is unfair– the fault of “the rich.”

The U.S. Constitution is “evolving.”  It is not set once and for all; it must be updated to fit new situations. Think of all the activities the Federal government is involved in now that are not in the Constitution. The Feds became dominant after the Civil War and have constantly and consistently added to their power with deafening applause from liberals, e.g  Social Security, Medicare, Obamacare  (the Supreme Court had to be contortionists to declare Obamacare constitutional, but they managed),  most of the cabinet departments, food stamps, etc.

Liberals  (which include most Democrats), for the most part can be described as favoring what in some circles is called sin…abortion (murder disguised as a women’s health issue), same-sex marriage (disguised as a civil rights issue), embryonic stem cell research (disguised as a means of conquering disease; although this has so far resulted in many human deaths and not a single benefit to disease eradication), and euthanasia (disguised as mercy, but is actually cost-cutting).

What have liberals given to the U.S. that we can be grateful for?

Secularism and the almost complete absence of God in the school and in public life.

The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, invented by  Congressional staff members and unread by those who voted for it.

$17 TRILLION dollars of debt, much of which is held by enemies.

Political-correctness which is a denial of reality which makes its devotees live a fantasy world .

Affirmative action which is a positive name for reverse discrimination.

The Great Society and the War on Poverty which cost billions and accomplished nothing.

Global warming propagated by the non-intellectual Al Gore and which is a denial of Divine Providence, to say nothing of fraudulent “research” to assure the “correct” answer.

The media which is so intellectually corrupt that they don’t even pretend anymore not to be biased toward liberals.

Public universities and colleges indoctrinating students into the  ideas of liberalism. No contrary views wanted, thank you.

Feminism which has had a deleterious effect on both women and men, distorting the natural roles of both.

The   annual assault on Christmas via the ACLU.  “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

I assume that many of you will not like the list above. True liberals will complain that I am being judgmental….which I am, but I am judging by the long history of liberals in action. Don’t succumb to the usual liberal way to refute an argument against them…call their opponents names. In the recent government shutdown, Harry Reid could not refute or give any reasons why the Republicans were wrong; he merely called them “terrorists,” “anarchists” and “arsonists.”  (Interestingly enough, the Administration will not use “terrorist” to describe anyone…even terrorists.)

The Conservative approach to the political world is to appeal to reason and common sense.  (We can see immediately that it is much easier for liberals to appeal to feelings  than it is for conservatives to appeal to reason.)

He is more interested in the individual  and his freedom to develop his own life and abilities.

He is less interested in equality because he believes that social and economic equality are not realistic given the wide range of talents, opportunities and effort found in human nature.

He wants the smallest government at all levels consistent with maintaining the common good and basic rights.

He believes that individuals have duties, not just rights.

He approves of private property as a basis for personal freedom.

He has great respect for the history and traditions of this country.

There are extremists and diehards in both camps.  Is there a possible solution?  Let me suggest one.  An idea is neither good nor bad because it is liberal or conservative. We must begin to look at the ideas, proposals, etc. in and of themselves, forgetting which group proposed them.  Can the idea work? Is it worth the cost?  Are there any possible unforeseen consequences?  What will it logically lead to?  Is this an old idea in a new suit?  Does the idea really solve a problem or create more problems?  Can there be oversight, not by politicians who propose it, but by experts in the field?

Would this work? I think it might, but it will never be tried because politics is not about reason; it’s about politics.

“There is no reason why the Church and the State should clash”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2012/06/20 at 9:11 AM
It is not true that there is opposition between being a good Catholic and serving civil society faithfully. In the same way there is no reason why the Church and the State should clash when they proceed with the lawful exercise of their respective authorities, in fulfillment of the mission God has entrusted to them. Those who affirm the contrary are liars, yes, liars! They are the same people who honour a false liberty, and ask us Catholics “to do them the favour” of going back to the catacombs. (Furrow, 301)

You must foster everywhere a genuine ‘lay outlook’, which will lead to three conclusions: be sufficiently honest, so as to shoulder one’s own personal responsibility; be sufficiently Christian, so as to respect those brothers in the Faith who, in matters of free discussion, propose solutions which differ from those which each one of us maintains; and be sufficiently Catholic so as not to use our Mother the Church, involving her in human factions.

It is obvious that, in this field as in all others, you would not be able to carry out this program of sanctifying your everyday life if you did not enjoy all the freedom which proceeds from your dignity as men and women created in the image of God and which the Church freely recognises. Personal freedom is essential to the Christian life. But do not forget, my children, that I always speak of a responsible freedom.

Interpret, then, my words as what they are: a call to exercise your rights every day, and not merely in time of emergency. A call to fulfil honourably your commitments as citizens, in all fields — in politics and in financial affairs, in university life and in your job — accepting with courage all the consequences of your free decisions and the personal independence which corresponds to each one of you. A Christian ‘lay outlook’ of this sort will enable you to flee from all intolerance, from all fanaticism. To put it in a positive way, it will help you to live in peace with all your fellow citizens, and to promote this understanding and harmony in all spheres of social life. (Conversations with Monsignor Escrivá, 117)