Lies, damn lies, and mass murder
March 13, 2017 § 12 Comments
Generally speaking there are a lot more ways to get something wrong than there are to get it right. In the Church there is a special category of lie called heresy, which involves (again generally speaking) denying or distorting a doctrine of the Church specifically. Truth is a unity, but not all truths are doctrines of the Church. That water is H2O is true but is not a doctrine of the Church, for example.
The issue has been raised as to whether one of my claims is that liberalism is a heresy in this technical (rather than merely a colloquial) sense, as opposed to simply false or a lie.
My answer to that line of inquiry, for the record, is that I take no firm position on the question[*]. It is certainly arguable that liberalism as I describe it on this blog — keeping in mind the limitations of language, and the fact that liberalism is what it is in reality independent of those limitations – is condemned in various papal encyclicals, for example Immortale Dei.
But from my point of view it doesn’t much matter, and I don’t think the point is especially worth arguing. Most folks wouldn’t balk at condemning a mass murdering political philosophy like Nazism without really caring much about whether it is or is not, in a technical sense, a heresy. One would think that political doctrines which drive the mass murder of innocents (as just the most obvious and visible in a long list of atrocities) would run afoul of a Church doctrine here or there, I suppose, at least indirectly. But frankly the whole question seems like a bit of a red herring.
The same goes for liberalism and – depending on where you feel the lines should be drawn – its close modernist cousins. Some folks feel compelled to draw the lines this way or that, probably driven by a delusion that the substance of the basic criticisms of liberalism can be deflected by some nominalist semantic dancing.
But my thought is that once the body count of innocents murdered reaches a certain point, quibbling over whether or not a particular political doctrine is or is not technically heresy is just Nazis dancing on the head of a pin.
[*] This contrasts with my position on usury, to which I have not really added any original thought. My work on usury specifically (except where stated otherwise, and of course this doesn’t apply to e.g. more general discussions of currency, securities, finance, property, etc) is simply a reiteration, to the best of my ability, of the timeless moral prohibition against charging interest on personally guaranteed loans “for consumption” (in the pertinent sense) to individuals, with a few suggestions here and there as to why the moral prohibition obtains.
That is, when it comes to usury I do my best to simply restate Church doctrine; and dissent from Church doctrine is heresy.