Clarity on Catholic Social Teaching and Political Life

But the specifics of electoral politics are a messy business, and it’s often a long way from the principles of Catholic social teaching to the specifics of political choices.

Even the politics of the pro-life cause isn’t always clear. The imperative to protect innocent life translates pretty directly into opposition to our current legal arrangements, which permit abortions. But what will move us forward? Here political judgment comes into play, which is a species of prudence. Should I vote for a pro-life Democrat on the theory that a lasting pro-life consensus will require bipartisan cooperation? Or is the next Supreme Court appointment so decisive that I ought to vote for the Republican candidate?

These difficult questions are all the more pressing when it comes to economic justice. Raise the minimum wage? Yes, it seems like a clear case of expressing a preferential option for the poor, but as some point out the effect may be to reduce the number of jobs for the poor. Bottom line: further isolation from the culture of work that is also an important social value, much championed by Pope John Paul II. What, therefore, is the “Catholic” way to vote?

In view of these ambiguities, about which men and women of faith and of good will can disagree, there is a danger when we theologize our political judgments. It threatens the unity of the church by turning prudential judgments about how to implement Catholic social doctrine into defining issues.

This doesn’t mean that anything goes. Obviously, one cannot claim to be in accord with the magisterium of the Church will asserting the women have a right to abort the children in their wombs. And one cannot affirm social Darwinism or Ayn Rand’s view of the natural right of the rich to dominate the poor and imagine oneself in accord with Catholic teaching. The clerical vocation is to teach the principles that must norm and leaven civic life—some available to reason; others stemming from the Gospel. But the distance from moral principles to political parties should induce caution.
RR Reno, First Things.


Here is One of Sickest Things I've Come Across in a while

IT IS apparently commonplace in the West to let newborn babies starve to death. So commonplace, in fact, that a Canadian group of doctors have released a study on the effects of starving newborn infants - both the physical effects on the newborn, and the psychological effects on the mother and father. They note, with sickening sterility, that "These babies live much, much longer than anybody expects - " you know, longer than you would expect a little baby to live without any food.

But the main concern of the study is for the parents and the doctors responsible for the starvation. It's hard to watch a newborn baby starve, because the baby becomes noticeably more emaciated as time progresses. Apparently the sight of emaciated babies produces bad feelings in the responsible parties. The paper explains that the "doctors" who are responsible for starving the newborns ought to be aware of this phenomenon, so they can provide the right counseling to those involved, and assure them (teach them) that there is nothing wrong. Here's the article:
Despite this, there is one factor that medication cannot alleviate, and that is the visual signs of emaciation, said Ms. Keats. “The longer a child lives, the more emaciated he or she becomes. This is something that we as clinicians need to anticipate. You can alleviate some of the physical symptoms, but this is one symptom, or result of our action, that we can’t relieve. A critical factor for counseling is to anticipate the kind of suffering that comes with witnessing the emaciation. It isn’t something people can prepare themselves for.”Autopsies are often encouraged in such neonatal palliative care cases to help both parents and medical staff gain a better understanding of the reasons for the death, said Dr. Siden. Parents should be warned that the report will document the technical cause of death as “starvation” — a loaded word for all concerned. It is important that parents separate this word from any notion of suffering, he said.
I know there are lots of terrible things that go on, but this strikes me as particularly obtuse and evil. It's not like abortion, where the people performing the procedure are under the delusion that the baby is not a baby, or that the baby is not really alive. In this there is very clearly a baby who is alive and wants to be nourished. This basic need is consciously and actively denied by the people who are responsible for the baby's care.

St. Thomas Aquinas taught it was impossible to eradicate the conscience from the human person; he may have been right technically but I think this proves that it is possible to suppress your conscience to the point where it has no bearing on anything you do. I am terrified.


Similarities and Differences

Both parties care about primarily about money, because they reflect the population, which cares primarily about money. Our culture is not a culture that seeks the common good. If there's anything we seek together, it is shared material prosperity.

But a substantial difference between Republicans and Democrats is that the Democrats care only about money. Democrats are materialists to the core; they believe material well being is the ultimate good of human life and that all efforts should be directed towards increasing our material well being. Democrats believe that justice is material equality in both theory and practice.

The Republicans care about money, too. They are, like the Democrats, philosophically committed to our material-well being, and practically committed to it as well, much more than they should be. But the philosophy of American Republicans also includes commitments to principles and truths that have nothing to do with money.

Even if it is the case that more often than not they ignore or forget their principles, that they have principles that are not materialistic in concern is the Republican party's distinguishing characteristic. It's also the only reason I can stand to vote for anyone in the party these days, with all the talk of money, money, money, money, and how the government will change to fix the problems with our money, and our money and our money.


Patrick Deneen on What I'm Thinking

This guy always has it right:
We are once again in the silly season when small-Government proponents strive desperately to move to Washington and incumbents pretend to be outsiders. Anti-Washington sentiment is waxing as we build to the mid-term elections, with everyone promising to tilt at the windmills of federal spending, and no-one suggesting how any substantial cuts might be effected.

We love to blame Washington and its politicians, but our hatred of D.C. is really only a projected form of self-loathing. Washington is simultaneously the locus of our fears and our expectations: we want to be left alone, but we want to be taken care of. We want government out of our lives, but we want it to solve our problems. We insist on more local solutions, but grow immediately impatient when solutions are not immediate. We look with fear and longing on our President – no matter whom – as the one we despise and the one we adulate.
Liberalism has collapsed on itself, and conservative liberalism is merely a reaction to liberalism's failures.



Choose whichever you like—standard utilitarianism, Rawls’s theory of justice, attempts to ground moral thinking in evolutionary biology or neurophysiology—you will always find, if you subject your preferred ethical naturalism to sufficiently unflinching scrutiny, that at some primal and irreducible point it must simply presume a movement of good will, an initial moral impulse that, with a kind of ghostly Gödelian elusiveness, can never be contained within the moral system it sustains. All the polyphony of nature falls mute when asked to produce one substantial imperative, unless one believes (explicitly or tacitly) that the voice of nature has its origin and consummation in the voice of God.
David B. Hart


Phillip Blond on American Society

The loss of our culture is best understood as the disappearance of civil society. Only two powers remain: the state and the market. We no longer have, in any effective independent way, local government, churches, trade unions, cooperative societies, or civic organizations that operate on the basis of more than single issues. In the past, these institutions were a means for ordinary people to exercise power. Now mutual communities have been replaced with passive, fragmented individuals. Civil spaces have either vanished or become subject-domains of the dictatorial state or the monopolized market.