Commentators Blast Divisive Criticism of Herod’s Massacre of Infants

March 31, 2009 § 6 Comments

Yeah, it’s plagiarism, ripping off what others have said for the benefit of my readers; but it had to be said.

I do find it intriguing, though, that the critics of the Obama column were more offended by my writing than the fact that the President is using their tax dollars to destroy unborn children. (And now to engage in the destruction of human embryos in stem cell research.) But it still seems to me that if the President’s anti-life actions don’t stir up moral outrage in you, nothing will; if they don’t offend your conscience, you need a conscience transplant, my friend.
— Thomas J. Tobin, Bishop of Providence

(Note: When the Haloscan comment system is hinky, which it seems often to be, the first link goes to some ad. It is supposed to link to a comment – from which I swiped the post title – by John McG in the Disputations post at the second link; which also doesn’t display correctly when Haloscan is hinky. The moral being “this post makes less sense when Haloscan is hinky”).

Locked Out of the Concentration Camp

March 25, 2009 § 47 Comments

I was commenting at Vox Nazi in this thread when Henry Karlson started blocking my comments. I’ve saved the thread of course, so I can reproduce the whole thing here if he decides to monkey with it. For the record, the big bugaboo of a comment that he deleted went like this:

Henry: There is no waffling [at Vox Nova] about abortion.

Me: I am absolutely, completely, perfectly willing to let you guys hang by your own words on that particular point.

UPDATE: Henry further opines:

More importantly, Zippy’s continued behavior, which is never accurate in presenting the views and positions of others, went way beyond the call of duty in this thread, and properly earned his exile, when he has to continue to lie to make his point. He isn’t into truth. Nor, Mark, are you.

The odd thing about this particular comment is that what I said in the comment Henry deleted, which I recorded in this post, was that I am completely, perfectly willing to let the words of VN contributors and commenters speak for themselves. Folks are absolutely welcome and indeed encouraged to determine for themselves if they think my characterizations of VN match the actual words and behavior of VN contributors.

I don’t think the word “lie” means what he thinks it means.

(For what it is worth, I rather suspect that Henry actually believes his own BS).

The Words of the Prophet Sting

March 25, 2009 § 6 Comments

Don’t stand so… don’t stand so… don’t stand so close to me.

“[T]he measure of any Catholic institution is not only what it stands for, but also what it will not stand for.”

That is Bishop D’Arcy of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, where the University of Notre Dame is located, explaining why he will not attend Barack Obama’s commencement speech.

Schiavo Case Testimony is now On-Line

March 11, 2009 § 1 Comment

Lydia McGrew, my blogging colleague at What’s Wrong with the World, has researched and posted on-line – the only place available on-line, as far as I know – the actual testimony from the case which resulted in Terri Schiavo’s judicial murder.

Judge Greer’s opinion is on-line here.

Newly available documentation:
–A PDF scan of the testimony transcript of Diane Meyer
–A PDF scan of the testimony transcript of Scott Schiavo
–A PDF scan of the testimony transcript of Joan Schiavo
–A complete transcript of all the witness testimony, including the testimony of Michael Schiavo and Mrs. Schindler, in a web page html form.

Lydia’s original post is here.

Aborting a Miscarried Argument

March 9, 2009 § 68 Comments

As far as we know, lots of babies die in natural miscarriages. This fact is often cited by pro-abortion apologists as evidence that pro-lifers don’t themselves think that embryos are fully human, deserving of legal protection from murder. The sophistry often appended to this “argument” is the notion that since presumably aborted children and miscarried children go the the same eternal fate, Christian pro-lifers should be acting as though miscarriage were as high a priority as abortion.

I don’t understand why anyone would take this so-called argument seriously.

Suppose two million Catholics in a state of grace die, and all presumably go to the same eternal fate.

Now suppose one million of those Catholics were murdered in a mass genocide. The other million died of old age or some other natural cause.

As a political matter, a matter of the exercise of temporal power to protect the common good, which of these two groups of “deaths” – we always have to use language scrubbed of moral implication when speaking to abortion apologists, you see – are a higher priority? Is the genocide of a million people inside our legitimate political jurisdiction a higher or lower political priority than the natural deaths of a million? When we ourselves face judgment, in part for our political actions, are we more likely to be judged harshly because a million people died of natural causes in our jurisdiction, or because a million people were murderd in our jurisdiction as a direct result of policies we supported?

To ask the questions is to answer them.


A comment on contemporary politics

March 5, 2009 § Leave a comment

(Guest Post)

You understand, venerable brethren, that We speak of that sect of men who, under various and almost barbarous names, are called socialists, communists, or nihilists, and who, spread over all the world, and bound together by the closest ties in a wicked confederacy, no longer seek the shelter of secret meetings, but, openly and boldly marching forth in the light of day, strive to bring to a head what they have long been planning – the overthrow of all civil society whatsoever.

Surely these are they who, as the sacred Scriptures testify, “Defile the flesh, despise dominion and blaspheme majesty.” They leave nothing untouched or whole which by both human and divine laws has been wisely decreed for the health and beauty of life. They refuse obedience to the higher powers, to whom, according to the admonition of the Apostle, every soul ought to be subject, and who derive the right of governing from God; and they proclaim the absolute equality of all men in rights and duties. They debase the natural union of man and woman, which is held sacred even among barbarous peoples; and its bond, by which the family is chiefly held together, they weaken, or even deliver up to lust. Lured, in fine, by the greed of present goods, which is “the root of all evils, which some coveting have erred from the faith,” they assail the right of property sanctioned by natural law; and by a scheme of horrible wickedness, while they seem desirous of caring for the needs and satisfying the desires of all men, they strive to seize and hold in common whatever has been acquired either by title of lawful inheritance, or by labor of brain and hands, or by thrift in one’s mode of life. …

For, indeed, although the socialists, stealing the very Gospel itself with a view to deceive more easily the unwary, have been accustomed to distort it so as to suit their own purposes, nevertheless so great is the difference between their depraved teachings and the most pure doctrine of Christ that none greater could exist: “for what participation hath justice with injustice or what fellowship hath light with darkness?” Their habit, as we have intimated, is always to maintain that nature has made all men equal, and that, therefore, neither honor nor respect is due to majesty, nor obedience to laws, unless, perhaps, to those sanctioned by their own good pleasure. But, on the contrary, in accordance with the teachings of the Gospel, the equality of men consists in this: that all, having inherited the same nature, are called to the same most high dignity of the sons of God, and that, as one and the same end is set before all, each one is to be judged by the same law and will receive punishment or reward according to his deserts. The inequality of rights and of power proceeds from the very Author of nature, “from whom all paternity in heaven and earth is named.”


Hypotheticals Don’t Exist

March 4, 2009 § 13 Comments

One of the things that Paul Cella laments about the current economic crisis is all of the abstractions. There are certainly a great many abstract and complex structures involved. At the same time we’ve learned (I only just learned) that Aquinas viewed lending money at interest as morally wrong because it involves, in his view, selling something which does not exist.

We confidently reply (as thoroughgoing capitalist moderns) that contra Aquinas, money has a time value. It turns out upon reflection, though, that while it is true that (contra Aquinas) money has a time value, it is true in an equivocal sense: that is, it is sometimes actually true that money has a time value, and it is sometimes only hypothetically true that money has a time value.

Our reasoning for money having a time value in general goes something like this: If I did not lend my money to Bob (I say hypothetically, ahem) then I could invest it in General Electric Corp bonds (ahem) or a savings account, and draw interest on that money. Therefore if I loan the money to Bob, Bob owes me compensation for the opportunity cost: for the money I could have made if I had, hypothetically, done something different with it.

But as the title of the post indicates, and as is hopefully uncontroversially true, hypotheticals are not real. They don’t exist. So if, when I lend my money at interest, I charge that interest based on an opportunity cost, I am charging my “customer” for something which isn’t real. And if I am charging my customer for something which isn’t real, that is almost certainly unjust.

On the other hand, when I hand over the money to Bob and he invests it in something productive, that is, in an endeavor which produces a profit, that money has an actual time value: it actually, and not merely hypothetically, does produce profits and grow over time. So in that kind of case it is perfectly just for me to expect a share of those profits, whether in the form of a dividend, an equity stake giving me a proportion of the profits, or a fixed interest giving me first claim to a fixed share of the profit.

The Papal Encyclical Vix Pervenit, promulgated on November 1, 1745 by Pope Benedict XIV says:

”But by this [prohibition of lending for interest] it is not at all denied that sometimes there can perhaps occur certain other titles, as they say, together with the contract of lending, and these not at all innate or intrinsic to the nature of a loan, from which there arise a just and entirely legitimate cause of rightly demanding something more above the principal than is due from the loan. Likewise, it is not denied that many times one’s own money can be rightly invested and expended in other contracts of a different nature from the nature of lending, either to secure an annual income for oneself, or also to practice legitimate commerce and business, and thus procure an honest profit.”

Now I’ve mentioned a few times that I am only just starting to look at usury in depth for the first time. So I haven’t reached any hard and fast conclusion, where I can say with confidence that I think that such-and-such a model of the moral lending of money is true.

But one thing I do think is that as modern people we might have been a bit too quick to dismiss the wisdom of the ages when it comes to the subject of usury.


What’s Wrong with the Usury?

March 2, 2009 § 51 Comments

Paul Cella started an interesting discussion on the connection between the current crisis and usury. I continue the discussion here.

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