Where to find me until the orcs come

October 30, 2015 § 31 Comments

Folks are always asking me what we should do from a practical standpoint, given the pervasive triumph of the satanic lies of progressive leftism even within Catholicism. Mostly I think we are just in the hands of Providence. Prayer and fasting and the sacraments are the best things, and living our own lives in the best way we can. Feed the hungry, admonish the sinner, and engage in the other works of mercy. Mostly that is really all anyone can do, all Christians have ever been able to do in the Vale of Tears.

But every now and then, you might feel like picking up a shovel and scooping another little bit of dirt away from the foundations of Barad-dûr.

If you buy the premise that the current progressive freak show is a product of metaphysical anti-realism, and that popular metaphysical anti-realism is a result of pervasively practiced anti-realism in modern economic life, then where to plant your shovel starts to reveal itself. Direct confrontation with progressivism over sex and marriage isn’t likely to get anywhere, because sex and marriage sit at the top of the anti-realist edifice, right next to the Great Eye with all of its current attentions and ministrations. In order to be there at all you have to stand atop a vast tower of unreality.

It seems to me that it makes more sense to take a shovel to the foundation, not the ramparts. The bottom of the anti-realist Tower of Mordor sits in darkness, a haze where little can be seen. For the most part, most people don’t even know what usury means anymore. Most people think that authority is the problem. But every new person who learns, who understands, who accepts is a tiny shovelful of dirt carried away from the foundations sitting in the rock miles beneath the Great Eye.  We might be able to spade away there for quite some time without attracting too much notice.

If you do decide to dig there, make sure you don’t get distracted by the anti-realist rats scurrying around the foundations, infectious modernist ideas whispering lunatic missives against fiat currency and fractional reserve banking, murmuring about the virtues of hoards of gold and how greed is good. They too, witting or unwitting, are just servants of Mordor, creatures embracing unreality as if it were Being, darkness as if it were light. The fact that they don’t sit next to the Great Eye in the Circle of Sodom doesn’t make them servants of the light. They are there to chew out your eyes while you sleep, so that reality becomes obscure as you wander about blind and desolate in the darkness on the barren plains of Mordor.

Maybe there is a Frodo out there somewhere, carrying a great and terrible Ring toward the Mountain of Fire as I write this.  I don’t know. We don’t even get the comfort of knowing that there is a frail Ring-Bearer out there with his lone companion; just the comfort that in the end, the light has already triumphed and this darkness too shall pass.

But in the meantime you’ll sometimes find me down here in the murk, digging one little shovelful at a time in the rocky and treacherous ground.  I have no great hope of toppling this vast Dark Tower with my little shovel, or even with an army of thousands of shovels.

But I’ll still dig. It is worth digging simply for the sake of defying the Evil One in the name of what is good, true, and beautiful.

There is some good in this world; and it is worth fighting for.

If we are going to name a new heresy, we should get the etymology right

October 30, 2015 § 10 Comments

At One Peter Five, Michael Lofton writes:

It would seem that a new heresy is being created before our very eyes. What is this new heresy? If Arianism was named after the priest and theologian Arius, who championed the denial of Christ’s divinity, it seems fitting to call our present corruption of Catholic belief, “Kasperism” – inasmuch as it has been promoted most vigorously by the German Cardinal Walter Kasper. What is Kasperism? It is the view that dogma is to be left intact in theory, but may be contradicted in practice.

This is giving Cardinal Kasper far too much credit.  If we want to give credit where credit is due, we’d be better off calling the position that dogma is to be left intact in theory, but may be contradicted in practice Castiglionism or Capellarism.

Where the modern sexual freak show comes from

October 29, 2015 § 111 Comments

It is actually rather difficult to get regular, salt of the earth human beings to stop believing in objective reality.  But nevertheless, when you look around at the modern sexual freak show, you can see that it is a result of lots of ordinary human beings denying the existence of an objective sexual reality which transcends subjective human perceptions and preferences.  I could give examples, I suppose, but things are so perversely surreal there is simply no need.

Getting regular salt of the earth people to stop believing in reality takes generations of inculturation.  It requires introducing anti-realism into their everyday lives in a basic way which involves their constant participation: through a pervasive process in which opting out is simply not reasonable or even possible for most people.

This could never have come about through sex on its own, because sex is too private a thing.  But most men simply cannot isolate themselves from the world economically.  There has to be food on the table and a roof overhead.

Which is why when the Diabolical decided to introduce and cultivate anti-realism broadly throughout human society, he did not choose sex as his entry point. The destruction of sex and marriage was a strategic achievement: a prize, not the race itself — a prize which could not have been achieved without centuries of preceding indoctrination in economic anti-realism, with usury at its center. Combined with a moderate liberalism riddled with plenty of unprincipled ‘common sense’ exceptions as the public creed, centuries of anti-realist indoctrination of everyman in his immersion in economic life set the stage for the present freak show.

‘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.

Marriage on death row

October 4, 2015 § 24 Comments

Both a death sentence and a declaration of nullity are fallible juridical decisions, made by fallible people exercising fallible judgment after looking at some evidence.  We are told that it is more merciful to err on the side of not executing a convict, because sometimes we will inevitably get it wrong.

The same kind of reasoning applies to declarations of nullity, it seems to me.  A wrong declaration of nullity  turns the parties into material adulterers.

One difference is that often enough (though certainly not always) parties in the proceeding unanimously want to believe that a valid marriage never occurred.  This gives rise to the idea that, whether factually accurate or not, declarations of nullity are a kind of mercy.  And in that sense a “lenient” annulment process is more akin to euthanasia than it is to  accidentally executing the innocent. Permission to die and permission to commit adultery are considered “mercy”; because sometimes doing the right thing can be very difficult, and that is not something that people like to hear.

A seamless garment of pastoral mercy, because you can’t handle the truth

September 21, 2015 § 4 Comments

I’d suggest that he who is complicit in obscuring moral doctrine with respect to property under a fog of ‘pastoral mercy’ and willful incomprehension has no standing to complain when doctrine with respect to sex and marriage is obscured under a fog of ‘pastoral mercy’ and willful incomprehension.

And vice versa, with emphasis on the vice.

Usury is, in its essence, very simple (really much simpler than contraception/NFP): if you lend (money or anything else) and expect the thing lent to be used up by the borrower and paid back in kind (secured by his personal guarantee) at some later date, you may not contract for any gain whatsoever on that loan without committing the execrable sin of usury.

What mercy looks like

September 16, 2015 § 9 Comments

Our pastors seem to believe that there are large numbers of putative Catholic marriages which are invalid, that is, which are not really marriages.  I find this quite plausible. (See here for more background).

Actions reflect what we really believe though, even moreso than words.  And it seems to me that the actions of our pastors do not at this point reflect what I would expect to see in the face of widespread sacramental invalidity of Catholic marriages.  It may be that the full truth has yet to sink in with many of them, I suppose; but I don’t consider it my role to analyze them psychologically.

However, if they really believed in their bones that a large percentage of Catholic marriages is invalid, I would not expect to see all the pastoral ‘action’ in the area of tribunals and annulment proceedings.  I would expect to see most of the pastoral effort concentrated on education and convalidation of marriages.  If these vast numbers of marriages truly are invalid, the overriding pastoral priority is clearly to get them convalidated.

If there were genuine uncertainty about the validity of the sacramental baptism of large numbers of Catholics, the highest pastoral priority would be to get out and do conditional baptisms to actually address that fundamental sacramental issue.

Pastors live and breathe in a social and political reality.  Some words are expected to be taken more seriously than others: that is only natural, and I don’t find fault with it in general. It follows though that I’ll believe that our pastors take their own words on the number of sacramentally invalid marriages seriously to precisely the extent those words include exhortation and actions which actually address the sacramental invalidity of large numbers of marriages.  Zero talk of convalidating the putative large numbers of invalid marriages implies zero internal “in the bones” commitment to the factual assessment that there actually are large numbers of invalid marriages.

Mercy is as mercy does.

The time value of marriage

February 1, 2015 § 17 Comments

Man is terrified of himself, because of the awesome fact that his free choices have consequences. Every concrete choice has consequences: every concrete choice results in the world being one way rather than another.  But man, especially modern man, does not want to take ownership of the consequences of his own irrevocable choices.

I’ve compared usury to slavery, but it also has similarities to divorce and ‘remarriage’. Like usury, divorce and ‘remarriage’ attempts to reconstruct reality as if we had not made the choices we actually did make.  Insisting that borrowers pay for ‘opportunity cost’ is similar to insisting that Bob’s family and society pay for the fact that Bob married Ginger instead of Mary Ann.

Now, that isn’t to say that there is no utility in thinking abstractly about what it would have been like for Bob to marry Mary Ann rather than Ginger.  But those abstract thoughts don’t translate into an entitlement for Bob to actually sleep with Mary Ann; to recover his “opportunity cost” from the real world as it actually is as a result of his actual choices.

If Bob really did have a better opportunity, he should have taken it. That he did not is something that he and he alone owns as a matter of justice. Other people may – to the extent they can – help Bob recover from his mistakes as a matter of charity.  But their help is not something that he is entitled to in justice, which can be quantified into an interest rate or specific measure of property that specific people owe to Bob.

When I talk about the fact that things like opportunity cost cannot be ontologically real property, many folks do not understand what I am saying. Often some – usually folks with less real world experience than myself – assume that I am just ignorant about money and have never thought about these things.

But these folks are simply failing to get the point.  That Bob could have married Mary Ann rather than Ginger is true enough and might even be helpful in some abstract academic theory of the time value of marriage. But that does not translate into the kind of entitlement in justice that those who support divorce and ‘remarriage’ propose.

It isn’t that I am ignorant of the ‘existence’ in a certain sense of ‘opportunity cost’ and other regrets, and of the utility of those concepts in some kinds of theorizing.  It is just that, like the number four and many other abstract things, regrets are not capable of being property or of giving rise to an economic entitlement resembling property.  If you actually did have a better opportunity and regret the choice you made, you should have actually taken that opportunity and made that different choice; and the fact that you did not is on you and you alone.  Making other people pay for your regrets is intrinsically unjust.

The “clarifications” will continue until divorce and “remarriage” are approved

January 23, 2015 § 10 Comments

Notice the framing of this question:

There is bitter dispute over the meaning of the Encyclical Letter, “Vix Pervenit.” …

“… the penitent perseveres in his plan of giving money as a loan to business men, and objects that an opinion favorable to such a loan has many patrons, and, moreover, has not been condemned by the Holy See, although more than once consulted about it.” (Emphasis mine)

Notice this part of the encyclical in question:

“One cannot condone the sin of usury by arguing that the gain [on a mutuum loan] is not great or excessive, but rather moderate or small; neither can it be condoned by arguing that the borrower is rich; nor even by arguing that the money borrowed is not left idle, but is spent usefully, either to increase one’s fortune, to purchase new estates, or to engage in business transactions.” (Emphasis mine)

If your goal is to get ‘pastoral’ approval for your favorite sins, one of the most effective ways to do so is to build the answer you want into the questions you ask; even when that means turning the questions themselves into lies.

If it makes your skin crawl, there may be a good reason

January 19, 2015 § 19 Comments

In Kristor’s superb post Reality versus “Marriage” he observes:

The sad reality – sad for homosexuals, given how much they’ve poured into this campaign – is that once homosexual “marriage” is legal, everyone will look at them as they walk along together and know that their wedding rings signify that they are only “married,” because everyone will know, just as they now do, that they are homosexuals. Perhaps, then, the truly married will need no special sign. People will look at them, walking along, and know that they are heterosexual, and so their wedding rings will signal that they are married, rather than “married.”

Commenter JMSmith makes an observation I have often made myself:

I think it is only fair to point out that homosexuals aren’t the first to contract sham marriages.

That is what makes “gay marriage” into a kind of step backward for progressives. Unlike the heterosexual sham which came before, it is impossible for the homosexual sham to maintain outward appearances. Heterosexual serial fornicators can easily maintain the outward appearance of marriage, thereby partaking parasitically in its deontological status. Homosexual sodomites, not so much.

Homosexual “marriage” is the part where the hemorrhagic fever becomes so acute that the liquified interior starts bursting through the skin: where the bugs infecting the interior burst forth to crawl on the surface.

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