‘Pastoral solutions’ and magisterial sin-nods are not new

October 24, 2015 § 70 Comments

The modern temptation to view ourselves as uniquely ever-so-special in the history of Christianity is something ordinarily (and appropriately) associated with progressives.  But it is a temptation into which many modern-day traditionalists also fall: before Vatican II things were going pretty well, it is thought or implied; but now progressives are triumphantly vandalizing the Faith.

I hate to say it, but today’s sour-faced traditionalist Catholic typically does not have an adequate grasp of the facts, and as a result is entirely too optimistic. I often find that my comments in traditionalist forums, in which I explain the parallels between progressive ‘pastoral solutions’ with respect to usury and currently proposed ‘pastoral solutions’ with respect to adultery and sodomy, flounder in the moderation queue.

I don’t really mind.  These forums are welcome to publish what they want to publish and reject what they do not want published, just as I do here.  And some writers, to their great credit in my view, are willing to engage the possibility that formally-not-heretical but pastorally-deliberately-amnesiac progressive triumph in the Church, often putatively justified by appeals to ‘mercy’, predates Vatican II by centuries.

But I suspect that the reason why many traditionalist forums do not seem to want to engage the nuts and bolts of usury, and in particular the now centuries-old progressively ‘pastoral’ deliberately-amnesiac magisterially-endorsed ‘triumph’ with respect to usury, is because it demonstrates that we are not really all that special.  We’ve seen all of this before — and lost, with core moral doctrines of the Church not formally denied but nonetheless flushed down the memory hole.

And I have no particular reason to believe that we won’t continue to lose; because the problem is us.

§ 70 Responses to ‘Pastoral solutions’ and magisterial sin-nods are not new

  • King Richard says:

    Here is something I do with Catholics who are trying to emulate 1950’s Catholic schools when they home school.
    Me: “Why are you trying to educate as if it were 6 decades past?”
    Them: [the discussion invariably gets to Vatican II]
    Me: “Who was it that championed ‘the spirit of Vatican II’? Who were the laymen and agitators that tried to silence bishops and change everything?”
    Them: “Progressives and homosexuals; Catholics without a properly formed faith”
    Me: “Didn’t most of them go to Catholic schools in the 1930’s, 40’s, and 50’s?”
    Yes, we have these images of strict schools full of nuns that semi-define the Catholic experience in America in post-WWII America. But they produced poorly catechized people who were the engine of the change people who admire those schools hope to reverse.
    The impact of Vatican I is ignored, yet the immediate result of that council was more than one formal schism and a wide-reaching tumult. Some believe that Vatican II was called so soon after Vatican I in an attempt to quell the upheaval of that earlier council. Yet most contemporary Catholics who claim to be Traditionalists are more than willing to blame Vatican II for every ill.

    Personally I think this focus on the contemporary is part and parcel of Americanism.

  • My general attitude when it comes to the Church is that, in 2,000 years, are you really convinced you’re so special?

    It’s not as if we haven’t been torn apart by wide-reaching heresies before.

  • CJ says:

    It’s not as if we haven’t been torn apart by wide-reaching heresies before.

    From what I understand trads aren’t (just) upset with the heresies being proposed, but with the Baghdad Bob-style happy talk. Santa punched out Arius because he didn’t have any illusions about what was at stake. But in this case, concerned trads are being dismissed with “discipline-not-doctrine” as if that settles the matter.

    King Richard – Are you opposed to all homeschooling, or just the type of “golden age” thinking you criticize here?

  • Patrick says:

    Do you think we’re going to lose this one? I’ve been getting the impression that the fake-mercy crowd have lost this round.

  • From what I understand trads aren’t (just) upset with the heresies being proposed, but with the Baghdad Bob-style happy talk. Santa punched out Arius because he didn’t have any illusions about what was at stake. But in this case, concerned trads are being dismissed with “discipline-not-doctrine” as if that settles the matter.

    Still not buying that we’re in an extra-special-awfully-bad time.

    Sure, new problems might be bad. But in the past things have been really, REALLY bad.

  • Zippy says:

    Patrick:
    This looks an awful lot like one of the post-Vix-Pervenit skirmishes over usury. Whether doctrine ‘wins’ or ‘loses’ this round in some sense or other is less significant than the fact that it is up for discussion at the highest levels of the Magisterium in the first place.

  • Jnana Hodson says:

    I just read a history of the schisms of the 4th century, and what you see today could just as easily be set back then … applied to both sides … apart from all of the accompanying violence.

  • Zippy says:

    KR:
    The pattern is similar to the various untermensch-scapegoat narratives. Feminism for example has precisely as much power as men have given it; antiracism in fact has only as much power as has been delegated to it by white men; etc etc. The attempt to project endogenous problems onto a scapegoat is pervasive, despite the fact that, even if it is stipulated that the scapegoat is guilty, his power is wholly dependent upon social sanction of his power by the broader society.

    CJ’s point is valid, but it isn’t as if disputes prior to those of the present century were carried out in a spirit of gentlemanly collegiality. It is probably true though that “if you will not be my brother I will crack your skull” is a mostly modern phenomenon. On its own terms modernity has to see itself as “above the fray”, which conflicts with the fact that in order to govern it has to comprehensively exterminate all of its rivals.

  • Mike T says:

    And where do you draw the line between a scapegoat and a true victimizer?

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:
    In my previous comment I said “even if it is stipulated that the scapegoat is guilty”. For example the Jews and the Lombard usurers were guilty, but they were only able to do what they did because society tolerated it and even encouraged it. The usurers, like modern day feminists or the Frankfurt school or SJW’s (just for example), only flourish because society supports their flourishing.

    Heuristically, what a society outlaws and punishes vs encourages and supports form a kind of line. But that is just a fuzzy heuristic, not an ontological or epistemological category.

  • Patrick says:

    “Whether doctrine ‘wins’ or ‘loses’ this round in some sense or other is less significant than the fact that it is up for discussion at the highest levels of the Magisterium in the first place.”

    That’s true, but winning round by round as far as explicitly reaffirming the doctrine against challenges to it is necessary at this point.

  • Mike T says:

    only flourish because society supports their flourishing

    I can think of two counter-examples: the destruction of Catholicism in England and the rise to dominance of Communism in Russia. In both cases, you had a well-organized, extremely coercive (to put it mildly in the case of the USSR) elite that didn’t hesitate to use whatever means necessary to accomplish its ends.

    I don’t see much signs that English or Russian society “supported” those radical changes. At any time, the Catholics could have slaughtered the Protestants while they were a minority; the non-Communists could have risen up and slaughtered the Communists. However, given that the radical minority held onto the levers of power, including state military forces, it doesn’t seem to be a good case to make that they existed because society “let them.”

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    t any time, the Catholics could have slaughtered the Protestants while they were a minority…

    Right.

  • Zippy says:

    Patrick:
    You are right of course, but my main interest is in helping folks see past the battle of the moment and discern the larger process at work. “Winning” a tactical battle often as not obscures the very process by which our strategic losses (of doctrinal orthodoxy through ‘pastoral’ amnesia) rack up.

  • To clarify, I’ve had discussions with folks making the points CJ is making before. He’s not wrong. I just don’t think having new problems means we’re having anything like the worst problems. It’s romantic, perhaps, to believe that, and more dramatic as well, but it doesn’t pass the smell test with me.

    Remember what the reaction of the rest of the bishops was after St. Nicholas punched Arius: He was thrown in jail and stripped of his bishop’s garments. St. Nick himself, instead of taking a hard line on the assault, prayed for his own forgiveness.

    Nicholas as then rewarded by Christ and the Blessed Mother because of his love for them, not because of the assault.

    There’s more to the story after “And Nick punched Arius”, awesome as that is. Part of that “more” is Nick’s repentance, and the very specific phrase he used that lead to his reward – he did not defend his actions, only his motivations. We would do well to remember that sometimes, punching Arius is the wrong thing to do, and loving Christ is right.

  • Mike T says:

    Right.

    If you mean right without sarcasm, then that raises an interesting set of questions about how the Protestants could have been pushed back licitly by the Catholics. Most of the push was from the top, down. Should the Catholics have risen up and committed regicide and wiped out the privy council and all of its agents? Would that have been morally licit as a response to what King Henry VIII did?

    Even just refusing to go along and actively resisting with non-lethal force would have escalated into open civil war as royal forces would be dispatched to put down the rebellion. The rest of society would have to choose capitulation or to meet the escalation with killing royal forces and eventually pursuing the king.

    Another thing that I don’t think you’re factoring in is that in the case of usury, the usurers helped create the demand. The presence of open sin itself creates a demand for it. If prostitutes were everywhere, more men would be using their services because the opportunity would be in their faces. One of the government’s purposes is to suppress such things, as the people themselves don’t have the authority to just take matters into their own hands whenever they see immorality.

  • Mike T says:

    **Some sins, mainly vices, are resisted by the masses more out of a lack of opportunity than concrete will to not engage in them. So I’m not convinced that society is just entirely to blame for them existing. Sometimes it is directly the fault of a minority, mainly the ruling class, that such a thing becomes an epidemic in the culture.

  • Svar says:

    “For example the Jews and the Lombard usurers were guilty, but they were only able to do what they did because society tolerated it and even encouraged it. The usurers, like modern day feminists or the Frankfurt school or SJW’s (just for example), only flourish because society supports their flourishing.”

    That may be true of Britain and America but European society and Russian society most definitely did not tolerate this. And yet, they seemed to be/have been under the yoke of Cultural Marxists/Progressives/SJWs and the Jews.

    Let’s stop tolerating these groups of people then. That’s the first part of the solution.

  • Zippy says:

    As usual, the point is missed.

    [3] And he spoke to them many things in parables, saying: Behold the sower went forth to sow. [4] And whilst he soweth some fell by the way side, and the birds of the air came and ate them up. [5] And other some fell upon stony ground, where they had not much earth: and they sprung up immediately, because they had no deepness of earth.

    [6] And when the sun was up they were scorched: and because they had not root, they withered away. [7] And others fell among thorns: and the thorns grew up and choked them. [8] And others fell upon good ground: and they brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, and some thirtyfold. [9] He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

  • Svar says:

    Not really, my point is that America and Britain is forcing the rest of the world to tolerate the intolerable.

  • vishmehr24 says:

    If the Church has for centuries now condoned usury, it might even mean that it is unprofitable to worry about it. Far more worrisome might be non-usorious finanicial sins of the State including printing of money.

  • Zippy says:

    “… the Church has for centuries condoned usury” badly misstates the situation. And printing money (issuing bearer options for settling tax liabilities), unlike usury, is not intrinsically evil – though of course as discussed here many times “not intrinsically evil” is not license, it just means that the morality of the action depends upon intentions and circumstances.

  • King Richard says:

    Svar,
    How are who forcing anyone to condone what?

  • Svar says:

    “Svar,
    How are who forcing anyone to condone what?”

    Three examples:

    Serbia – bombing campaigns

    South Africa – sanctions

    Russia (for making queers cry): impotent threats (it’s hard to bully Russia)

    And those are just a few examples.

  • c matt says:

    Yet most contemporary Catholics who claim to be Traditionalists are more than willing to blame Vatican II for every ill.

    Most contemporary Catholics who claim to be Traditionalists that I have come across see V II more as a symptom (or culmination) than a cause. Modernism is cited as the cause, and relates back decades, if not centuries, prior to V II.

  • Bruce says:

    “But I suspect that the reason why many traditionalist forums do not seem to want to engage the nuts and bolts of usury, and in particular the now centuries-old progressively ‘pastoral’ deliberately-amnesiac magisterially-endorsed ‘triumph’ with respect to usury, is because it demonstrates that we are not really all that special.”

    Zippy, you bring up usury a lot. Do you have any other examples? – Bruce

  • Zippy says:

    Bruce:
    Usury is the one on which I’ve done due diligence, so that’s what I talk about; but the paragraph prior to the one you cite links to some other proposed examples:

    http://www.lmschairman.org/2015/10/can-church-forget-doctrine.html

  • […] Expectations of the Synod. Related: Nothing new. […]

  • Bruce says:

    Zippy,
    Thank you for the link. With respect, I am not impressed with his argument. I completely disagree with you all that there’s not something uniquely bad going on.
    Papa won’t say that anal sex and oral sex are wrong and lets the world think he’s ok with it. Church officials tell millions of married people they aren’t married so now millions of Henry VIII’s are free to commit adultery and fornication. Most Catholics (lay and clergy) have the same basic view of morality as libertarians do.
    And a bunch of other things. Something is different now.

  • Bruce says:

    Completely disagree with “King Richard” about tradish Catholics and education. The ones who are trying to do it like it’s the 1930’s 40’s and 50’s are doing the best that they can. The old Catechism was very good. You can’t blame old Catholic schools for Vatican II. What is his solution? Send your kids to public school? Novus Ordo schools? Educate them like medieval Catholic kids?

  • Zippy says:

    Bruce:
    Usury is just as despicable as sodomy.

  • Bruce says:

    I don’t know any tradish Catholics in real life. Just over the internet. Is the “sour-faced traditional Catholic” thing really fair? I know Jeff Culbreath from his internet writings. He doesn’t strike me as sour-faced. He knows something’s seriously wrong and acts accordingly for the welfare of his family. Should he be happy with how things are?

  • Bruce says:

    “Usury is just as despicable as sodomy?” Is there a reference to Holy Scripture to support this?

  • Scott W. says:

    While Scripture does not directly compare usury to sodomy in terms of gravity, usury can be considered oppression of the poor which, along with sodomy, is listed as “sins that cry to Heaven.”

  • Bruce says:

    It isn’t clear to me which definition is being used. Usury can mean any loan with interest or a loan with exploitive or exploitively-high interest. Particuarly exploiting those in absolute (not relative) poverty. The scriptural citations on usury seem to reference exploiting the poor which would probably be the normal usury circumstance in ancient times. Christians should help others, particular other Christians without exploitation – this is basic charity.

    We should also be content with little; raiment and food as St. Paul tells us.

  • Zippy says:

    Bruce:

    Is the “sour-faced traditional Catholic” thing really fair?

    By suggesting that the sour-faced traditional Catholic is too optimistic I was gently mocking the stereotype, though I may not have pulled it off well.

    Is there a reference to Holy Scripture to support this?

    I am reluctant to get into a proof texting competition since those tend to be a waste of time, and folks can doubt whatever they are determined to doubt; but by the same token I want to take good faith questions seriously. Scripture doesn’t define the Holy Trinity but both sodomy and usury are condemned by name. The Magisterium has condemned both explicitly for millennia. Dante put both usurers and sodomites in the same circle of Hell.

    I think we are seeing the same pattern here in the sexual domain which we’ve already seen play out in the domain of property. As property technology became more advanced people became confused about why usury was condemned in the first place, it became more pervasive, and pressure mounted to change doctrine. As it became clear that formally doctrine would not change the tactic shifted to marginalizing doctrine as a decorative bit of theology in the sky with no practical implications on the ground, where ‘pastoral accommodation’ rules the day.

    Already even reasonably well-formed young people, if you talk to them candidly and they trust you enough to speak openly, do not grasp the difference between procreative sex in marriage and sodomy and therefore tend to be very ‘tolerant’ of sodomy. Absent the intervention of Providence, in another generation or two the sexual domain will look just like the domain of property: dominated by an anti-realist metaphysic which makes man and his subjective assignment of meaning into the measure of all things.

    To me the parallel is clear, but I can’t give out seats for the view from inside my head so as always ultimately folks have to make up their own minds what they think is true.

  • Zippy says:

    Bruce:

    Usury can mean any loan with interest or a loan with exploitive or exploitively-high interest.

    That latter definition is a modern innovation. Usury is any interest charged on a mutuum, and it was obvious to most everyone that it was morally despicable up until (some of) the Jesuits started sowing confusion about it in the late middle ages.

  • Bruce says:

    You will have to forgive me for the following but there’s still a lot of Protestant in me.
    What is described in Holy Scripture (without getting into the dueling Bible verses thing) is usury in a world where it inevitably involved the greedy exploitation of the materially, absolute-poverty stricken. It is easy for a German ploughboy to see that this goes against Christian charity, particularly charity for our fellow Christians. I guess I’ll sound like Francis here, but this is the spirit of the prohibition against usury. I don’t believe there is any equivalent statement one can make about the spirit of the prohibition against sodomy, fornication or adultery.
    Maybe there should be no usury in a Christian society. I am able to have a house that I will soon own instead of paying an exploitive landlord (govn’t ability to take it due to non-payment of taxes notwithstanding) because of usury.
    It is easy for a German ploughboy to see that anal sex is demonic in all circumstances. There isn’t a natural law revulsion to usury. There was no city usurers that was destroyed by God. St. Paul doesn’t mention usury again and again as a sin that will see us cut-off and destroyed.
    There is no mass scale effort by clergy to accommodate millions of poor-oppressing exploitive usurers the way there is divorcees who want to commit adultery.
    Something is different.

  • Zippy says:

    Bruce:

    … is usury in a world where it inevitably involved the greedy exploitation of the materially, absolute-poverty stricken.

    “How does gay marriage affect your marriage?”

    I am able to have a house that I will soon own instead of paying an exploitive landlord (govn’t ability to take it due to non-payment of taxes notwithstanding) because of usury.

    Non recourse home mortgages are not usury. So maybe what you mean is that a full recourse mortgage allows you to sell a part of yourself into slavery in order to buy a bigger house than you could afford through a non recourse mortgage.

    Even that begs the question though, because home prices, like the price of college educations, are inflated by capital made available through usury. So your assumption that in the absence of usury you would not be able to afford as good or better a home is really just a question-begging assumption.

    There isn’t a natural law revulsion to usury.

    That’s just wrong, as a comparison to sodomy. Culturally conditioned people do not find sodomy repulsive either.

  • Zippy says:

    Which sin cries out to Heaven for vengeance even more doesn’t really undermine the case I’ve argued here, in any event.

    Suppose we stipulated for the sake of argument that sodomy is worse in some sense or other than usury. It doesn’t follow that acceptance of sodomy is not following exactly the same pattern as acceptance of usury, or undermine the thesis that pastoral accommodation of usury paved the way for pastoral accommodation of sodomy.

  • King Richard says:

    Bruce,
    You wrote,
    “Completely disagree with “King Richard” about tradish Catholics and education.”
    You soon thereafter wrote,
    “I don’t know any tradish Catholics in real life. Just over the internet.”
    Feel free to disagree.

    You went on,
    “The ones who are trying to do it like it’s the 1930’s 40’s and 50’s are doing the best that they can.”
    And with the best of intentions, I am sure. That is not my point to them or here. My point is that they can do better.

    You continued,
    “The old Catechism was very good.”
    First, which? The Baltimore?
    Second, was it? How many Catholic children raised on it left the faith?

    You continued,
    “You can’t blame old Catholic schools for Vatican II.”
    And I didn’t. What I *actually* wrote was,
    ‘Who was it that championed ‘the spirit of Vatican II’?’
    Vatican II was a Council and a perfectly valid one. I was referring to the Progressive attitudes amongst the laity of about the same time.

    You wrote,
    “What is his solution?”
    Ah! A question.
    “Send your kids to public school?”
    No; the conceptualization behind public schools seems to be the main problem.
    “Novus Ordo schools?”
    No; Catholic schools are just public school with a Catholic coating. The systemic issues remain.
    “Educate them like medieval Catholic kids?”
    In broad strokes, yes. The trivium and quadrivium are excellent bases for a child to be prepared for continual learning.

  • King Richard says:

    Bruce,
    Also, feel free to use just Richard.

  • Bruce says:

    Richard,
    Yes, The Baltimore.
    I don’t think it’s fair or accurate to blame the lack of goodness of the Catechism or schools for the mass apostacy.

  • King Richard says:

    Bruce,
    You wrote,
    “I don’t think it’s fair or accurate to blame the lack of goodness of the Catechism or schools for the mass apostacy.”
    Why not?
    I know many people who attended these schools in the ’40’s through ’70’s’ more besides from the ’80’s through the current day; and a handful of the parents that worked very, very hard to send their children to the schools of the ’40’s+.
    The goal was not just a good education, it was to ensure that the children were well-educated in the Faith and remained Catholic.
    Evidence indicates that they failed. The lapsation rate of children that graduated from Catholic schools was over 80% in the ’70’s.
    It is higher today.
    If 80%-90% of the students graduating from Catholic schools failed basic reading, writing, and math tests, would you tell me I shouldn’t blame the textbooks or the schools?

  • Bruce says:

    Zippy,
    Then I don’t understand usury. It’s lending money at interest? What does non-recourse vs. full recourse have to do with it? Bank of America lent me money because I only had 20% of the cost of my home. When I pay it off, I’ll have paid a bunch of extra money.
    Their CEO or whoever is a usurer or not?

  • Bruce says:

    Richard, I have no idea who you should blame for the mass apostacy.
    The old catechism was solid. The sour-faced radtrads are doing as well as anyone could under the circumstances they’ve been given.

  • Zippy says:

    Bruce:

    Then I don’t understand usury. It’s lending money at interest? What does non-recourse vs. full recourse have to do with it?

    I go over all of that in tremendous detail in the Usury FAQ.

  • Bruce says:

    “Culturally conditioned people do not find sodomy repulsive either.”
    I don’t know. Most boys still think being a homo is gross and use “gay” as a general pejorative.

  • King Richard says:

    Bruce,
    You wrote,
    “The sour-faced radtrads …”
    Are these poor, benighted souls the same ‘tradish’ sorts you do not know in real life?

    You wrote,
    “I have no idea who you should blame for the mass apostacy.”
    Nor do I. But I do argue that to emulate a system and use a tool which did not reduce this phenomenon is foolish.

  • Zippy says:

    Bruce:
    If it would help you to think of usury as ‘no worse’ than adultery, polygamy, contraception, and the like, with sodomy as uniquely worse than those, that is fine by me. I don’t agree, but contraception is gay anyway; and if you think sodomy is somehow uniquely evil compared to masturbation, adultery, contraception, polygamy, abortion, etc I can (as I already mentioned) stipulate without affecting the quiddity of my thesis in the slightest.

  • Bruce says:

    Contraception is, by some accounts (even the heretic Luther), categorically a sodomitic sin. Yes, it’s awful. And heterosexual sodomy, practiced by a large fraction of the non-homo population might even be worse than homo-sodomy since it’s practicing sodomy or sodomitic-mimicry within the institution of matrimony. Masturbation, abortion etc. are awful too. All seem much worse than usury but that doesn’t affect your arugment – I understand that.

    You did not answer my last question which was asked sincerely and not to try to bolster my argument. I do not understand usury or the distinction between loan types you mentioned.

  • Zippy says:

    Bruce:
    I spent months putting together and debating the usury FAQ. If you really don’t understand the answer to the basic question of what kinds of loans are and are not usury, start there rather than re-opening questions already answered there in this thread.

  • Zippy says:

    For example the answer to your question about what “recourse” has to do with it is right there in the first few questions, with an additional explanatory footnote.

  • Svar says:

    “That’s just wrong, as a comparison to sodomy. Culturally conditioned people do not find sodomy repulsive either.”

    I’ve found that queer-loving straight liberals find gay sex acts to be just as disgusting as their conservative counterparts. The only people who truly find it normal would be homosexuals.

    As for Bruce, Christ’s violent reaction to the proto-bankers in the temple shows where He stands on the matter.

    I will admit that I thought usury was exorbitant interest on a loan but even reasonable interest is a sin. I don’t know what the solution to that would be beyond nationalizing the banks and making them non-profit government entities. Which would be a-okay by many folk, even the more capitalist leaning right-wingers agree that the Federal Reserve needs to be nationalized and that Andrew Jackson and Thomas Jefferson regarding banks.

  • Zippy says:

    Svar:

    I don’t know what the solution to that would be beyond nationalizing the banks and making them non-profit government entities.

    I offered a quite straightforward and much less draconian solution here. (The video is gone now but the short post contains the resolution).

  • Bruce says:

    Svar,
    “As for Bruce, Christ’s violent reaction to the proto-bankers in the temple shows where He stands on the matter.”
    My simple reading of the story was that Christ was angered by transactions being done in God’s house and that he would have had a similar reaction if they had been selling chickens or whatever.

  • Svar says:

    “My simple reading of the story was that Christ was angered by transactions being done in God’s house and that he would have had a similar reaction if they had been selling chickens or whatever.”

    Christ did explicitly mention that they were money-lenders which gives credence to Zippy’s view that usury is something especially offensive to The Son.

    My guess is that He would not have been so violently enraged if they were just selling chickens.

  • Bruce says:

    Svar,
    I reread the passage in Matthew. I think we’re both right! It mentions people buying and selling things AND moneychangers. Jesus calls it a den of thieves which could be used to support the belief he was angered by usury.

    Zippy,
    This is scary when you think about it. Maybe the 19th century change in usury marked the beginning of the great apostacy or whatever it is. Maybe it’s 18XX and not 1965. So this means I could expect a couple centuries (at least) of “pastoral mercy” with respect to sodomy and divorce and maybe some new things I can’t imagine. Makes it very hard to become a Catholic.

  • Bruce says:

    Zippy,
    Read some of your FAQ up to the explanation of non-recourse vs. full recourse. I guess it makes sense. Jesus could have called the moneychangers thieves because they were selling something that did not exist.
    One thing I think you implied above that I disagree with. I don’t think usury is what I’ll call “natural-law obvious” the way sodomy is. I (a person of average intelligence) had to think about it and still have a hard time understanding why non-recourse isn’t selling something that doesn’t exist. This doesn’t effect your argument of course.

  • Zippy says:

    Bruce:
    The scariest thing about being or becoming Catholic is all the Catholics, especially the ones in red hats and driving around in Popemobiles. I try to warn people not to treat the Church as if it were their Daddy, or as if it were a truth machine (the way many Protestants treat the scriptures). That road leads to heartbreak and personal disaster, almost without fail.

    At the end of the day you should be formally and explicitly united to the Universal Church of the successors to the Apostles for one reason. Despite the importance of other things, and those things are very important, next to this one reason they all pale to insignificance. That reason is the Eucharist. Fake churches don’t have it, though some pretend to, and the Real Presence of Christ is priceless.

  • Zippy says:

    Bruce:

    I don’t think usury is what I’ll call “natural-law obvious” the way sodomy is.

    What is ‘obvious’ to different people varies a lot, in my experience. The words ‘natural law’ don’t to me mean obvious to everyone, they mean knowable to natural reason. Quantum mechanics and differential equations are knowable to natural reason, but that doesn’t make them obvious to everyone.

    That usury is a grave and execrable sin is as knowable to natural reason as that sodomy is a grave and execrable sin. That people can be acculturated to either accept or despise grave and execrable sins is neither here nor there: they remain grave and execrable sins, knowable to natural reason, nonetheless.

  • buckyinky says:

    I suspect the scandal of Ultramontanism plays into Bruce’s troubles as he’s expressing them here. Whatever the case, The Rad Trad has a worthwhile analysis from a couple years ago on the effects of UM particularly as it has played out among the laity.

  • Bruce says:

    Buckyinky,

    Yes, that doesn’t help but it’s very easy to be scandalized by the general clergy. I’m thinking of the hundreds of thousands or millions of “divorces” that are performed. In some ways it’s worse than Protestantism because there’s the appearance of approval/blessing by figures with real, apostolic authority. It seems like the Catholic way is very dependent on the quality of clergy which seems to be lacking.

  • Bruce says:

    You need a “Usury for Dummies.” (written with all your spare time – right!)
    I read the first part as you suggested. While I can follow your words I still don’t understand how a non-recourse loan isn’t also selling something that doesn’t exist. The lender isn’t selling e.g. the home – he’s selling the use of the money – something that isn’t real.
    I’ll read the rest and ask again if it doesn’t make sense.

  • Zippy says:

    Bruce:
    I go over all of this in the Usury FAQ and in countless other posts, but I’ll give it another shot here just because I am a glutton for punishment.

    A non-recourse loan is a securitization of some actual property which actually exists: say a house.

    In effect the bank and the borrower buy a house together, which they own together in a capital structure which gives them each certain rights to the property. Over time the borrower buys back the bank’s share of the house (the principal part of the mortgage payment) and pays rent for the bank’s share of the house (the interest part of the mortgage payment). He rents the bank’s share because he gets the use of the whole house.

    A full recourse (usurious) loan is not the mutual ownership of some property in partnership (is not a “societas”). It is a ‘securitization’ of a wink and a promise by the borrower to repay independent of any specific property, and attempts to charge ‘rent’ (interest) for the (nonexistent, nonspecific) property which the security represents.

  • Bruce says:

    The bank-borrower co-ownership of the house made it click – if you said that further down in the FAQ then I apologize for wasting your time and in either case I thank you for your time.
    Is it a sin to participate in a usurious loan on the borrower side of the relationship – is my car loan sinful?

  • Zippy says:

    Bruce:
    I do answer that question in the FAQ, as well as your latest one 🙂 (Question 23 uses a student loan as an example).

    I admit there are times when I want to just tell people to read the bloody FAQ and get back to me when they have been through the whole thing and grasped its content, but it is far from a perfect document and the subject matter is just wildly counterintuitive to modern people like us. It was to me, and the record of my own unfolding discovery of the simplicity and sensibleness of the doctrine against usury is mostly public at What’s Wrong With The World (where it started back when I was a founding contributor to that blog), the Orthosphere, a few other places (maybe Mark Shea’s comboxes for example) and here.

    I think its counterintuitiveness tends to reinforce my meta-point that we drink metaphysical anti-realism like mother’s milk in the day-to-day domain of economics, have done so for centuries, and that that affects how we as a society approach everything — including, for example, sex. It wasn’t without reason that Dante put the sodomites and the usurers in the same circle of Hell.

  • Zippy says:

    Also, here in a comment exchange below the FAQ I elaborate on Question 23 for a reader.

  • […] some might think that deafening and willful silence about so-called ‘pastoral mercy’ toward unrepentant usurers combined with outrage over […]

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