Justice and charity

January 31, 2013 § 2 Comments

Following a link in a comment of Proph’s over at the Orthosphere, I found this wonderful Pope Benedict quote:

“Both justice and charity require love for truth, and essentially involve the search for what is true,” Benedict said. “Without truth, charity slides into sentimentalism. Love becomes an empty shell to be filled arbitrarily. This is the fatal risk of love in a culture without truth.”

It just gets better

January 30, 2013 § 49 Comments

Red Cardigan’s intransigence on the Kathleen Quinlan case, explained in her own words:

But then again, I also see Catholic schools these days as hoity-toity pricy private school options to help predominantly white Catholics escape the dysfunction of the local public schools, so perhaps that’s one reason why I snort a bit at the “morality clause” thing. My 9th grade Catholic “health” teacher taught us how to use contraception, made fun of the Church’s teaching against it, mocked the “rhythm method” (she’d never heard of NFP), and told us if we had a problem with what she was saying, we could take it up with our religion teacher; she was teaching “health.” The bishop was too busy laying down on railroad tracks to protest nuclear weapons to care, and our religion teacher was a former flower-child nun who believed an inner child (a little blond girl, IIRC) lived inside of her and that she was also psychic, so she didn’t much care about our grasp of Catholic moral teaching. I have heard NOTHING in the ensuing decades which tells me anything much has changed; in fact, a teacher I know was fired from her job at the Catholic school for the “mortal sin” of teaching children in her biology class that life begins at conception and that abortion is murder.

I could go into my own experiences – then and now –  and how they differ from hers, etc.  But why bother.

I guess that whole Golden Rule thing doesn’t apply to how people who work in and depend upon Catholic education are treated.

The Nine Carat Rule

January 30, 2013 § 1 Comment

Do to others as you would have them do to you. – Luke 6:31

Recently the Golden Rule has been paraphrased thusly:

 The Golden Rule compels me to say that as I would wish to be treated … in [a situation], so ought I to treat anybody else in that situation…

(Emphasis mine.  The elipses contained the words “with great love and mercy”, which begs the question: because precisely what is at issue is what in fact constitutes great love and mercy in a particular situation).

Notice the subtle shift from  “would have them do to you” to “would wish to be treated”.

Now, there is nothing wrong with “wish” if what it means is that from the framework of Eternity, looking back on our lives, we would wish to have been treated that way.  But the word wish has a tendency to subjectify and temporalize into here and now: to make this about my feelings in the moment as opposed to the view from Eternity.

From the perspective of feelings here and now we rarely wish to face difficulties, even when those difficulties are our own creation and responsibility, and even when we acknowledge their justice.  My own experience is that what I wish right now is often very much at odds with what I would have done unto me given the wisdom of hindsight.    Life’s trials, and especially those trials I have brought upon myself, have been tremendous sources of grace.

This brings us to the case of someone who wrongly believes that a consequence of her own immoral behavior is unjust.  From the perspective of Eternity, anything that reinforces an erroneous conscience – even the rare case of a completely non-culpable erroneous conscience – is a very bad thing indeed.  It is difficult to imagine a case where we would, with the perspective of Eternity, have others do that unto us.

Minor details

January 30, 2013 § 7 Comments

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati has faced a lot of criticism for firing an unwed pregnant woman from her job teaching first graders. Critics think the diocese should have been more “forgiving” (under the critics’ understanding of “mercy”). So far none of the school’s detractors have chimed in to condemn the firing of Matt Prill, a Catholic teacher caught by his students sleeping over at his girlfriend’s house.

We’ve heard a lot about how Jesus let the woman caught in adultery go. She was being stoned to death not losing a job, but that detail doesn’t seem to have much traction with the diocese’s critics. That leads me to wonder what kinds of details would have traction with the diocese’s critics.

Red Cardigan a.k.a. Erin Manning gives us the closest thing we’ve gotten so far to an actual principle to work with:

A Catholic school is not acting in the wisest, kindest, most merciful, or most loving way when they fire an unwed pregnant teacher and cut her off of her health insurance for the sin of fornication as revealed by visible pregnancy. While they may have the right to do so …, that does not make it the right thing to do.

This gives us no insight into what standards are enforceable as the right thing to do under Erin’s understanding of mercy.

Suppose it became known that the father was a minor. Or suppose the teacher was a single dad not a single mom, but was fired under circumstances like the ones under which Matt Prill was fired. (Prill, to his credit, seems to have handled his termination with aplomb with nary a lawsuit in sight).

Suppose the immoral act was child molestation not fornication. This is hardly a hypothetical case: the Catholic sex-abuse scandal is quite precisely the result of failure to uphold standards under a rubric of “mercy”.

“Mercy” as general-purpose standards-solvent is obviously just a rhetorical way of begging the question. So until the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s critics can tell us what standards they would uphold, and why fornicating schoolteachers (just the female ones who get pregnant, apparently) are a special case, we are free to ignore their criticisms as unfounded.

Erin finishes with this:

The Golden Rule compels me to say that as I would wish to be treated with great love and mercy in a crisis pregnancy situation, so ought I to treat anybody else in that situation, and the rest is just a matter of detail.

Agreed. Characterizing this as a debate of wishes versus details is one of the most accurate statements from the school’s critics so far.

How to tell that liberalism has distorted your moral sense, II

January 28, 2013 § 156 Comments

In the comments below, we learn from Erin Manning a.k.a. Red Cardigan that when Kathleen Quinlan voluntarily disqualified herself from her job in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and was let go, that was the moral equivalent of the diocese torturing her.  (We also learn, though, at the same time, that it is downright heroic not to torture captives when all the cool kids are doing it).  We learn that the reason it is wrong to torture presumed-terrorist captives isn’t because torture is gravely and intrinsically evil: it is because not-torturing them is merciful.  We learn that failing to employ an unwed pregnant woman is equivalent to stoning her to death, like the biblical case of the woman caught in adultery, and the answer to “What Would Jesus Do” is, of course, “what Erin says we should do.”  We learn that when you let someone go from a job after that person has voluntarily disqualified herself (and is therefore, you know, no longer qualified) and broken her contract, that is treating her as an object not a human being.  Treating her as a human being would require us to ignore her choices and actions, as if she were not a moral agent but rather was just an unthinking unchoosing, uh, object.  That’s why it is imperative to ignore the fact that she is suing the diocese because she feels entitled to compensation as a matter of justice: because even though what she wants is “justice” under her warped sense of justice, not mercy, we should impose our “mercy” on her.  This is critical because we learn that supporting the diocese in this incident makes Catholics look bad to pro-abortion secularists (and by golly we can’t have that).

Finally, we learn that only pseudo-Catholic stone-throwing chauvinists support the diocese in this decision.

UPDATE:  A few male chauvinists … I mean female chauvinists … well, whatever they are, have weighed in.

Sparring with the invisible man

January 27, 2013 § 8 Comments

Recent discussions have shown that many people are offended by the fact that some sins are visible while others are invisible.  This makes life inherently and irrevocably unequal, with those inequalities splitting along all sorts of different, um,  fault lines.  One of those fault lines runs along the inherent differences between men and women.

When sins are invisible the sinner often escapes the natural consequences of his sin.  (For the time being, at least.  Ask Lance Armstrong).   How this plays out in day to day life is unfair: reality makes some sins more visible than others, and therefore the immediate, temporal consequences of sin are unequal and discriminatory.

And so it is with the grave, intrinsic evil of fornication.  It is proposed to be unfair that the sin of fornication physically manifests itself sometimes in the woman’s pregnancy.  In order to find out when men fornicate it is usually (though not always) necessary to engage in active and intrusive investigation.  People who complain about the situation seem at first to want us to engage in this kind of active investigation, because it is unfair (supposedly) for women to face consequences, for this particular kind of sin, that men do not face in statistically equal numbers[*].  Equality of outcome must be mandated.

In reality though that isn’t what they propose, because none of them (so far) will sign up for draconian investigations into everyones’ private lives in order to ensure that invisible sins carry equal consequences alongside visible sins.  So in the end the outrage isn’t over the fact that some people are getting away with it.  The outrage is over the fact that some people aren’t.

But you can take that “unfairness” up with God, since He is the one Who made things that way.


[*] It should be pointed out that many men actually do face consequences for fornication and adultery, and many women don’t.  Just ask General Petraeus.

UPDATE: Or Matt Prill, a Catholic teacher fired for sleeping over at his girlfriend’s place. (HT: Vanessa)

Stocking Patty Hearst’s food bank

January 27, 2013 § 59 Comments

I wrote my previous post before I read Red Cardigan’s latest.  I don’t see much point in trying to engage in a conversation since she openly states that she knows her characterizations of my views are wrong (“Oh, I know.  Zippy will say that’s not his argument at all…”), but she hopes to tar me with them anyway.  No amount of exasperation adds up to an actual argument addressing anything I’ve actually said, and pretending to converse in a pattern where I make arguments and my interlocutors respond with sneering is a waste of time.

However, I do find it interesting that her post provides a made-to-order concrete example of what I refer to as pro-life stockholm syndrome.  We can see this by contrasting how the Magisterium of the Church characterizes a choice to murder by abortion to how Red Cardigan characterizes the choice to murder by abortion.  This is the Magisterium:

Among all the crimes which can be committed against life, procured abortion has characteristics making it particularly serious and deplorable. The Second Vatican Council defines abortion, together with infanticide, as an “unspeakable crime”.


The moral gravity of procured abortion is apparent in all its truth if we recognize that we are dealing with murder and, in particular, when we consider the specific elements involved. The one eliminated is a human being at the very beginning of life. No one more absolutely innocent could be imagined. In no way could this human being ever be considered an aggressor, much less an unjust aggressor! He or she is weak, defenceless, even to the point of lacking that minimal form of defence consisting in the poignant power of a newborn baby’s cries and tears. The unborn child is totally entrusted to the protection and care of the woman carrying him or her in the womb. And yet sometimes it is precisely the mother herself who makes the decision and asks for the child to be eliminated, and who then goes about having it done.

Contrast how the Magisterium of the Church describes abortion to how Red Cardigan characterizes it.  Embedded in a rant about how hard it is for a man to understand the difficulties of being a woman and raising children, implying that men (especially men “like Zippy”) are intrinsically incapable of objectively discussing the grave intrinsic evils of abortion and fornication, Red Cardigan states the following about a woman who chooses not to murder her own child in cold blood:

For an unmarried woman who becomes pregnant to choose life in our disposable culture of easy death for the unborn is already a noble and courageous thing to do

(Emphasis mine)

Refraining from committing an “unspeakable crime”  is “noble and courageous”.  I’m tempted to add “you go, girl!”

The Magisterium weighs in on the sociological point:

But today, in many people’s consciences, the perception of  [abortion’s] gravity has become progressively obscured.

No kidding.

Pro-life stockholm syndrome

January 26, 2013 § 17 Comments

Once someone has been held captive long enough dysfunction frequently sets in.  Prisoners become sympathetic to their captors and, wittingly or unwittingly, they begin to adopt their captors’ views and even aid and abet their captors.  Something similar has happened to the pro-life movement.

The reason abortion is legal is because it is physiologically easier for men to get away with casual sex than it is for women to do so.  Abortion provides the backstop that is necessary to make fornication and other consequence-free sex an equal opportunity sport.

This has created a dynamic wherein the pro-life movement often works to reduce, as much as possible, the consequences of female fornication.  Traditionally the consequences of out-of-wedlock sex could include (but did not always include, and never did so equally for both men and women) shame, loss of status and income, and other consequences.  Pro-lifers worry that these things will lead more women to abort: unborn children are hostages, keeping the pro-life movement captive.

As a result nearly our entire society is united on the goal of making unwed pregnancy and out of wedlock motherhood as easy and consequence-free as possible.  People formally support abortion on the left, people materially support abortion on the right (even though many genuinely wish to oppose abortion and do formally oppose it), and almost nobody actually opposes abortion.

More fuel on the fire is not going to put it out.

Waterboarding update: a “new” failed argument

January 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

I’ve updated my waterboarding catalog and nosology to include an argument we’ve all heard many times (number 36) but that my series failed to address.

Double-clutching the standard: how retaining fornicators leads to more abortion

January 25, 2013 § 75 Comments

The case of the unmarried woman who voluntarily disqualified herself from her job as a Catholic first grade teacher by fornicating and becoming pregnant has in my view become something of a litmus test for disordered views of justice and mercy.

Basically it has divided the world into those who care more about standards and those who care more about double-standards.

There is no question of this case being about mercy simpliciter.   If it were about mercy simpliciter the woman would not be suing the diocese.  She is suing the diocese because she feels she is entitled to the job she lost, even though she lost it because she voluntarily broke her contract.

Moreover, she feels entitled to the job precisely because she perceives a double standard.  She is not outraged that men are getting away with fornicating: she is outraged that some women are not.  The existence of a double-standard inherent in the nature of things is an outrage, and must be nullified by eliminating the standard altogether — even though she herself explicitly agreed to the standard when she signed the contract.  Eliminating double-standards – not even actual double-standards in principle, but in-practice double standards dictated by the nature of the differences between men and women – takes priority over standards.

It is precisely this liberal understanding of double-standards as the worst kind of injustice which drives the abortion holocaust.  Anyone who has read some of the canonical feminist works – say Backlash by Susan Faludi, for example – can see that the driving factor behind abortion is the double standard of nature herself: the fact that women can become pregnant but men cannot.  This is a basic violation of equality: a double standard.  So women must be allowed to abort.

If your goal is to add fuel to the fire of the abortion holocaust, one of the best ways to do so is to keep pretending that this case is about mercy.

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