Tomorrow is John Calvin’s 500th birthday.
“Wow!” said Patrick. “What a different world we’d be living in if he hadn’t invented the positronic robot.”
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Tuesday morning, while I was still waking up, Beth Meacham cheerfully asked whether I’d heard about the Pope’s new encyclical.
I flinched reflexively. “What did he say?”
“No, it’s good!” she said, correctly interpreting the flinch. And so it is, by which I mean I agree with a fair amount of it. The encyclical’s called Caritas in Veritate: Charity in Truth.
The Economy: In the list of areas where the pernicious effects of sin are evident, the economy has been evident for some time now. :: Globalisation: This global force could cause unprecedented damage and create new divisions within the human family. :: Outsourcing: The so-called outsourcing of production can weaken the company’s sense of responsibility towards the stakeholders—namely the workers, suppliers, the consumers, the natural environment and broader society—in favour of shareholders. :: Hedge fund: What should be avoided is a speculative use of financial resources that yields to the temptation of seeking only short-term profit.My favorite comment thread exchange (in forums other than Making Light), in the Boston Globe:
Comment #5, posted July 7, 09 10:24 AM, by “charity, justice don’t mix”:Some mainstream responses to the encyclical:It is easy for the vatican to define charity within their community, but in the law we should not treat as such becuse it is very injustice, almost as corruption exist everywhere. Sometime I think I am a very giving person, but is that legal?Comment #7, posted July 7, 09 10:56 AM, by “Remy”:Yes.
Washington Post: Pope Criticizes World Economic System, Urges Social Responsibility. :: New York Times: Pope Urges Forming New World Economic Order to Work for the ‘Common Good’. :: The AFL-CIO’s blog: Papal Encyclical: Workers’ Rights to Form Unions Must Be Honored. :: Financial Times (UK): Pope calls for a world authority to lead return to ethical values. :: Andrew Leonard, in Salon: The Pope’s liberal Christian values, in three easy headings.*
Are you perceiving a consensus? Let us proceed.
Michael Sean Winters at In All Things (the blog of America: The National Catholic Weekly), has been tracking an interesting development. Some conservatives, who evidently haven’t been listening to those bits that get read aloud between the Opening Prayer and the Homily, can’t swallow Caritas in Veritate. They’ve rejected all the clear and obvious readings of the encyclical, and are instead insisting that it doesn’t contradict their political ideologies. From The Poverty of Michael Novak, 02 July 2009:
As mentioned yesterday, Michael Novak of the American Enterprise Institute has produced a short discourse on the Pope’s not-yet released encyclical on social justice over at First Things. … Novak is trying, and trying desperately, to frustrate Pope Benedict’s intention in issuing an encyclical on social justice.As Winters observes, when St. Paul said “liberation” he didn’t mean “freedom from government regulation.”
Novak assures us … that capitalism is not all about greed but is romantic, it involves noble sentiments of the human heart like the yearning for innovation and human creativity. “In actual capitalist practice, the love of creativity, invention, and groundbreaking enterprise are far more powerful than motives of greed,” he writes.From New Heights of Hubris from George Weigel, 08 July 2009:
How does Novak know this? I checked his biography and it appears he has never once been an entrepreneur. I can assure him from my years as the manager of a small business that I never once was asked by the owners if I was focused sufficiently on being creative. They asked about the bottom line. … Perhaps Novak spoke with the donors at the AEI. I am quite sure that this interpretation of the source of their wealth suits their self-image nicely. …
Why does anyone listen to Novak? His essays are a shill for rich people, nothing more and nothing less. He once compared the modern business corporation to the Suffering Servant in Isaiah, a comparison so bizarre and outrageous I laugh every time I read it.
The hubris of George Weigel knows no bounds. In a breathtaking essay at National Review Online, Weigel concludes that Pope Benedict’s encyclical Caritas in Veritate “resembles a duck-billed platypus” because it is, in his view, a bad combination of the Pope’s true thought with those “passages that reflect [the Pontifical Council for] Justice and Peace ideas and approaches that Benedict evidently believed he had to try and accommodate.”Sure. Why not? If you can believe that Sarah Palin’s resignation was a masterful political maneuver, why not believe that the former Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is such a creampuff that he can’t put out an encyclical that reflects his actual views?
…In his denunciations of the passages he dislikes, Weigel is not simply ideologically skewed but downright insulting to Pope Benedict. After citing a series of propositions found in the text the Pope signed that Weigel finds objectionable, he opines, “Benedict XVI, a truly gentle soul, may have thought it necessary to include these multiple off-notes, in order to maintain the peace within his curial household.” Funny. Benedict does not seem like the kind of person who would jettison his insistence on truth merely to keep peace in the curial household.
And is it too much to ask that someone videotape George Weigel explaining that to Pope B16?
Meanwhile, at Huffington Post, Art Levine has pointed out that Newt Gingrich, a recent Catholic convert, is firmly opposed to the encyclical’s teachings on the workers’ right to organize.
I unfold my chair, I pop a cold one.
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In other news, Mets share hotel with furries. Let no one cast stones.