Faster, Higher, Stronger… in Faith

Tuesday, September 8, 2009 \PM\.\Tue\.

Next month, the International Olympic Committee will decide whether the 2016 Olympic Games will be held in Chicago, Rio de Janeiro, Madrid, or Tokyo. The Windy City’s Olympic bid is believed by many to have a good chance of succeeding, although others predict Rio will get the nod in order to bring the Games to South America for the first time.

Supporters of Chicago’s bid (the most ardent among them being Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley) say the Games will provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase the city to the world, increase tourism, and promote economic development.

Those who don’t want the Games, however, argue that it will burden the city and the entire state of Illinois with years of additional taxes and debt, displace poor and vulnerable people from their homes and places of employment, leave behind crumbling “white elephant” venues, and promote exactly the kind of pay-to-play corruption that has made Chicago and Illinois infamous.

Whatever the outcome of the Olympic bid (which we will know on Oct. 2, when the IOC meets in Copenhagen), the competition for the Games has gotten me to thinking about another world-class event that has been proven to have lasting positive effects on the communities and countries that host it: World Youth Day.

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McBrien to Eucharistic Adoration: Step Backward

Tuesday, September 8, 2009 \PM\.\Tue\.

Father Richard McBrien, Professor of Theology at Notre Dame, boy that comes as a shock doesn’t it, doesn’t think much of eucharistic adoration.  McBrien of course has been a fierce defender of the secular zeitgeist for decades, and has done his very best to wean generations of Catholics from anything in the Faith that would not pass muster at fashionable parties in academia. 

For myself I love eucharistic adoration.  I never have done it without feeling much closer to God.  Since John Paul II also approved of it in his letter DOMINICAE CENAE, I guess I will just have to bear up under the strain of being thought backward by Professor McBrien.  Father Z gives McBrien his patented fisking here

You know, tenured dissenters like McBrien have a real problem on their hands in the age of the internet.  It is very easy now for ordinary Catholics to have access to church teaching by a few clicks and read what John Paul II wrote:

“Adoration of Christ in this sacrament of love must also find expression in various forms of eucharistic devotion: personal prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, Hours of Adoration, periods of exposition-short, prolonged and annual (Forty Hours)-eucharistic benediction, eucharistic processions, eucharistic congresses.”

Of course Pope Benedict’s views are well known and are set forth here.  When we have such easy access to the words of Peter, it is much harder for Catholics to be bamboozled by flim-flam artists like McBrien seeking to distort the teaching of the Church in service of their personal agendas.  The modern world provides many challenges to the Church, but I think in the long run the internet may become a great advantage to the magisterium of Holy Mother Church.

Aristotle & Distributism: Part II

Tuesday, September 8, 2009 \PM\.\Tue\.

(Part I may be read here. Some of the discussion may be followed on my blog. Note: the presentation of this essay on this blog may differ somewhat from the outline I set forth in the introduction in Part I. The critique of communism/welfare-statism will be published tomorrow.)

In an academic culture that is often characterized by historicist and relativist viewpoints, the notion that Aristotle may have had anything relevant to say about modern economic systems seems a little strange to us. While it must be admitted that we cannot expect the ancient versions of capitalism and communism to be identical to their modern counterparts, we can nonetheless differentiate the historically-shaped form from what is arguably the timeless content. Moreover, by way of critique of the two dominant economic paradigms (for in the final instance, welfare-statism/Social Democracy incorporates the worst features of both), we can arrive at a more clear vision of the Distributist alternative.

Though it ought to become obvious through the critique of communism, it bears stating up front that the Aristotelian critique of capitalism is not an attack on private property. Difficult as it may be for some readers, the notion that the essence of capitalism is the possession and use of private property is a fallacy bequeathed to us not only by certain capitalist ideologists, but by many (though not all) communists and assorted “anti-capitalists” as well.

A definition of capitalism that accords well with Aristotle’s critique is an economy in which production for exchange is predominant, as opposed to production for immediate use/consumption. Though it is modern technology since the Industrial Revolution that actually allows such an economy to come into being, the pre-industrial tendencies towards this type of economy have been in existence since the dawn of civilization, and reached a pinnacle in the great civilizations of antiquity, including the ancient Greece in which Aristotle lived and wrote.

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Aristotle & Distributism: Part I

Tuesday, September 8, 2009 \PM\.\Tue\.

(Upon request, I am presenting my essay, which I will develop in five parts over the course of this week, here at TAC as well as my blog, Non Nobis)

Distributism is a current of Catholic social thought which holds that a greater distribution of private property, used in accordance with higher moral values and within the context of duties to community and society, is the best economic arrangement. It stands in contrast to both nationalized industry (socialism) as well as the permanent existence of a propertyless class (a feature of modern capitalism). For this, it has sometimes been wrongfully criticized as a reactionary anti-technology theory, a political program that would take society back to the technical level of the Middle Ages.

These accusations are groundless, for Distributism does not depend exclusively upon a particular mode of production; a business wherein shares of ownership were distributed among the employees would qualify as a Distributist enterprise. Thus whether we look to businesses such as the Spanish Mondragon, or to the ten-thousand plus Employee Stock Ownership Programs in the United States, Distributist ideas are not only alive and well, but are growing in appeal.

Although Distributism is most often associated with the modern social teaching of the Church, it is arguable that the first Distributist was in fact Aristotle. This should not be surprising, for insofar as Aristotle’s political and ethical philosophy stressed the importance of discovering and implementing the mean, that is, the middle between two extremes, it is only natural that he would arrive at a Distributist philosophy.

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Bad Luck vs. Bad Design

Tuesday, September 8, 2009 \AM\.\Tue\.

In a post on the topic of health care rationing (responding to a progressive post which argued that denying care to people unlikely to see much return was one of the benefits of a centralized health system) Megan McArdle of The Atlantic makes the following observation:

There’s another intuition that at least libertarians have, which is that it is not as bad to have undesirable things result from an impersonal process than from an active decision. It is bad if someone’s house burns down and they couldn’t afford insurance. It’s worse if someone’s house burns down, and they were in the class of people deemed unworthy by a bureaucrat of having their house rebuilt.

I think almost all progressives have the opposite intuition. They think it’s better to try to produce an optimal result, even if that results in individual injustices (which it will–government rules are very broad brush, and will always involve error at the margins). I’m not sure how to bridge that intuitive gap.

It strikes me this is indeed one of the determining differences between those skeptical of and those confident in the ability of a centralized beaurocracy to actually improve the administration of health care (as opposed to its availability, which obviously could be improved simply by throwing enough money around.)

Given the range of viewpoints found around here, I’m curious what others think of this. Is this indeed one of the major dividing lines between progressive and libertarian/conservative viewpoints?

Spending Spree

Tuesday, September 8, 2009 \AM\.\Tue\.

Broke Uncle Sam


Hattip to Instapundit.  John Steele Gordon has a first rate article here detailing how we landed in the debt morass our nation is now bogged down in.    His last sentence is a completely accurate assessment of our options: ” Only necessity will force Congress to control long-term spending on its own.  And unless the body politic forces the needed changes, that necessity in the form of overwhelming debt is inescapable.”

Anteaters? Who Cares?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009 \AM\.\Tue\.

From the only reliable source of news on the net, the Onion.  How terrible to devote one’s life to a study only to end up completely bored by it.  Lawyers of course never have that problem.  Well, at least he made the talk show host look foolish so he did not live in vain!   For those considering anteaters as pets, this article does a good job of putting some lipstick on the ant chow hounds.

Overreacting, The Left Needs To Wake Up To Reality

Tuesday, September 8, 2009 \AM\.\Tue\.

GOP overreaction to Obama speechLiberals and Democrats have accused many Americans of overreacting to the speech that President Obama will be delivering to school children today (at 11:00 am Central Daylight Time).

On the surface this would seem a fair evaluation but if you dig a little deeper, those on the Left may well be making another crucial misdiagnosis of the source and cause of this reaction.

First lets examine the prism that those on the Left have viewed this reaction.

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