Magisterium re-opens the Index Librorum Prohibitorum

September 30, 2013 § 4 Comments

The Faithful should read the motu proprio for themselves, but here is the central rationale:

A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics. Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again. Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to “debate” on television. And because comments sections tend to be a grotesque reflection of the media culture surrounding them, the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories, within a website devoted to championing science.

Apparently issuing Fatwas is not enough to keep the heretics from blaspheming.  Fortunately, formation in seminaries is still reinforcing sound doctrine.

(HT commenter Maryland Bill at  Catholic and Enjoying It).

Provincialism of the present in papal polemics

September 28, 2013 § 17 Comments

I’ve mentioned before that I am watching from a distance, with a kind of bemusement, all of the various reactions to Pope Francis.  I personally haven’t read a single thing he has said that – read charitably – I disagree with; although I haven’t been reading and scrutinizing everything he says at all, so that may not say much.  For example I have seen a few snippets of, but have not read, the Big Scandalous Interview that has everyone so worked up.

Well, there is one exception.  His remarks about the Church “talking too much about abortion” do strike me as … uninformed.  I’ve been to lots of Masses of course, and the number of Masses where abortion is mentioned at all are very few and far between.  And I can understand how those specific remarks could be demoralizing to folks who have dedicated their lives to fighting abortion, which is one of the largest-scale atrocities ever committed by human beings in all of history, far outstripping anything done by the Nazis or the Communists.  I wonder if the Holy Father’s perspective on this is skewed by Argentinian provincialism, because Argentina is a Catholic enough country that abortion is illegal there[1].

But here is the thing.  Lets grant – purely for the sake of argument – that Francis is a terrible heretic out there saying and doing all sorts of scandalous things.  People who think that a pope saying and doing scandalous things contrary to doctrine undermines Catholic ecclesiology simply have to be, among other things, ignorant about some of the basic history of the Church.  They simply must be suffering from a kind of provincialism of the present.

What precisely is it that makes such people think that the current age deserves – that we personally deserve – a better pope than Alexander VI or Benedict IX?

It would be wildly out of character, but I can’t help but picture John Paul II kind of winking at traditionalists and saying “miss me yet?”

195-JPIIBonoGlasses01

(This post is an expanded version of a comment I left at the Orthosphere).

[1] There is a “life of the mother” exception written into the law, as I understand it.  If that exception permits doctors to perform any procedure whatsoever to save the mother, no matter what that procedure entails, it goes against Catholic doctrine and the natural law.  If however it carefully delimits procedures and circumstances it might not.  But in any case the point is that abortion as a political football is quite different in Francis’ homeland than it is in the first world, so his personal view of how things are in America and Europe could be wildly inaccurate.

An Overton paradox

September 27, 2013 § 4 Comments

In the discussion below two of the things we talked about were (1) that the Overton window is right now moving in a more modernist liberal (leftward) direction, and (2) the question of what kind of political organization can influence the direction of the Overton window.

I think that a movement’s influence on the motion of the Overton window is a function of how well-aligned that movement happens to be with the current position and motion of the Overton window.  If you aren’t on the bandwagon you can’t influence the song.

With apologies to Groucho Marx, a club that was willing to have me as a member would not be an influential club.

Rescued from hijacking the Titanic

September 27, 2013 § 7 Comments

At Sunshine Mary, a commenter makes the commonplace claim that social stigma often prevents someone from seeking help with his problems from the medical establishment.

Given that only heart disease and cancer kill more people than iatrogenesis that is probably a good thing, at least statistically speaking.

Pseudonyms and the Overton window

September 25, 2013 § 39 Comments

In a comment thread at the blog Anarcho Papist, commenter Samson J. asks the following question about using pseudonyms versus real names on the Internet:

Can a pseudonymous movement shift the Overton window?

I suspect that this experiment has already been run.   The great majority of the Internet was pseudonymous before a twenty-something narcissist convinced a billion people to post all of the minute details of their lives and opinions on the public Internet under their real names.  YouTube used to explicitly advise people not to use their real names on line; now they are pushing toward it becoming a requirement under the Google+ initiative.  Heck, the Federalist Papers were written under a pseudonym, pushing the Overton window with musket-and-tricorne style.

So all you have to do to answer the question is ask yourself whether the Overton window is wider inside of Facebook or out in the blogosphere, where pseudonyms remain common, if not as pervasive as they once were.

Another argument that property taxes are intrinsically unjust

September 25, 2013 § 12 Comments

A while back I made an argument that property taxes are intrinsically unjust.  Based on my understanding of usury as taking profits from what does not exist, I argued that property taxes are levied against transactions which haven’t happened.  (That’s why an assessment is needed: the assessment is an imaginary transaction wherein the property is valued without actually being sold).

In this post I will make an independent argument that property taxes are intrinsically unjust.  This argument will not depend on any particular understanding of currencies, usury, etc.

Assume that income taxes are not always unjust, but that a 100% income tax – an income tax which confiscates literally all of a man’s income – is unjust.

Then observe that a property tax confiscates 100% of the property against which it is levied.  A 2.5% annual property tax will confiscate the entire property over the course of 40 years.

The fact that it happens in slow motion does not make it less than a 100% levy.

So in order to believe that property taxes are just, we must accept the premise that a tax which confiscates 100% of a man’s property is just.  It follows, since income is property, that a 100% income tax is just.  This contradicts our original premise that a 100% income tax is unjust.

Nixon goes to China

September 23, 2013 § 11 Comments

Pope Francis update.  HT Lamentably Sane.

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