Thursday, August 6, 2009

Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth), the follow-up

Here it is, a little more than an month since the Pope published the encyclical, and FPR has 6 articles up and at least one nearly on point article not specifically addressing the encyclical. As usual, the most direct approach is that of John Medaille in this post and in this post. In the second, and earlier, post, John makes this curious statement, "Those who have little concern for the baby, at whatever stage, will have, for example, little real concern for the environment, whatever they may claim." This is in reference to the Pope's concern for life from conception to death as stated in the encyclical.

I can't really get behind John's statement, and not simply because I disagree with him. The facts on the ground are against him. The leading environmental activists of this nation, in point of fact the true conservatives if we take the word at face value, are liberal almost to a man or woman, and presumabley mostly pro-choice. Personally, I believe this confusion comes about because John, along with the Pople, discounts completely the woman's life. Once she is pregnant, then the she no longer is an autonomous creation, but rather one subservient to the potential human being she carries. With few exceptions, if men were held to the same standard by biology, I suspect their beliefs would undergo a radical change. :)

Patrick Deneen, in this post makes a very interesting statement, one with which I concur, "It’s to be wondered whether American Catholics and fellow-travelers will overcome their cognitive dissonance to consider the continuity of the pro-life, pro-nature (”environment”) position." I don't take this as primarily aimed at pro-choicers, but rather at the pro-lifers who refuse to see the environment as their problem. Sure, he quibles about partisans a few sentences later, but I think his heart is in the right place.

In an interesting aricle for FPR, Kirkpatrick Sale riffs off the Pope, without any credits, either!, and talks about Buddha and the 8-fold path as it relates to economics:

All in all, this encyclical has not made the splash at FPR for which I'd hoped.

Oh well.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth)

Pope Benedict's new encyclical. I'll be interested to hear what the good folks at FPR have to say, as it appears that much of the Pope's direction is at least somewhat opposite to that of the good folks.

The encyclical can be found here: caritas-in-veritate.

A discussion at Firedoglake can be found here: benedicts-challenging-words-to-congress-and-the-world-aid-the-poor.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Fiscal Scolds and Universal Coverage

How is it that social conservatives can argue for our universal obligations to unborn children, at whatever stage of development, and then in the next breath argue against universal health coverage? What, being born ends our obligation to our fellow human being?

I don't think so.

care-reform/ and comments for background.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Exceptionalism and Localism

Great essay at FPR by Kenneth McIntyre - Exceptionalism and Localism. So good, in fact, I stole his title. :)

When I get to the end, this end, "In this view, there is no claim that local self-government will necessarily be virtuous or that it should be allowed carte blanche, but merely that the diffusion of power will lessen the possibility of governmental tyranny." after having read this (paragraph above) , "Though I have a great deal of sympathy for the republican defense of self-government, I think that the second argument for local autonomy is even stronger." I get a certain sense of cognitive dissonance. Social conservatives talk about obligations for individuals but autonomy for communities. Frankly, I don't get why communities of individuals should get autonomy if the individuals themselves do not.

In truth, what it points out is the confusion in the minds of many about just who has autonomy. I do, you do, she does, he does. Every other kind of autonomy is built upon that understanding, an understanding social conservatives seem curiously reluctant to acknowledge.


Hypocrites? No, I don't think so.

Susan McWilliams put up an interesting post at FPR, So: Are We Hypocrites?. The point of hte post is to address the question of hypocrisy with respect to be all about local and community while simultaneously putting your thoughts out on an internet blog.

The answer is, no, Susan, you are not. The world of ideas is much larger than any physical community. You are not building online friendships (thought friendships may develop) you are putting your ideas out there and then defending them (sort of >:). It is no different the reviewing a peer's publications. You do more good at FPR that you could do without FPR.

Which is kind of Utilitarian, if you think about it. :)


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Now Katherine Has Done It!!!!

Katherine, in this post, Workaday Morals at FPR, has gone and sent me 'round the bend once again.

She opens with a standard opening, and Lord knows, I shouldn't get sucked in, but I do, I just can't help it.

"Those of us foolish enough to call ourselves “conservative” are forced to admit that culturally and politically at least we live amidst less and less worth conserving. We can and should continue to mind our own business, and tackle daily life as cheerfully as possible, but some days one wants to take up the fight for the reformation of this bloated and addled culture of ours. Where to find a cudgel?"

Just who do you want to cudgel, Kate? Just who are you to think you have all the solutions? It's not like the past, even the past you so want to recreate, wasn't a hard luck time for most people. Basically, it SUCKED for all but a fortunate few.

There was NEVER a freaking land of milk and honey. Why Kate and her fellow travelers don't get that is beyond me. As hard as it is to believe, Kate, we are in the best of times for the most of the people. More children live to adulthood, more adults have more opportunity than ever before - opportunity to be conservatives, or liberals, or Christians or whatever. And it's all a CHOICE.

Could things be better? Good gravy, YES!!!!! Whining about how the past is past and oh so much better (which it wasn't) is not helping. Helping is doing exactly what you say you should do - being particular in YOUR life. I know you want to save all the babies in Bangladesh, and a little money goes a long wayto help so send some over there, but for most of us, doing the best we can to be good neighbors, coworkers, husbands, wives, brothers and sisters, children and parents - that is the good that we can do.

So go do it! Nobody's stopping you!! Hell, we'll all cheer you on!!!!

FPR Social Conservatives (not all of them) - always looking backward into the historical mists and missing what's happening right now. Sheesh.


Friday, June 12, 2009


Somewhere on Up Turned I got accused of being a utilitarian. Not being sure of all the historical ramifications of agreeing or disagreeing, I ignored the statement. Having had a chance to refresh my memory, I have to completely agree with whoever said it.

Not that we agree on the meaning of utilitarian - in context, I believe the author of that accusation meant that I exist somewhere in the hedonist/moral relativist spectrum. What I mean is something entirely different.

What I mean is that I treat each person as equal in value to me. That can be seen a relativistic, but I kind of assume that I have too high an opinion of myself, so if anything, I err on the side of too much value. :)

I also mean that "pleasure" in the JS Mill sense is not simply, or even mostly, pleasure in the senses, but pleasure in doing right, in caring about others, in being a true friend.

Autonomy, caring about others, explicity arguing for the good of all - yeah, I can get behind the utilitarian smear.

It's kind of funny, but everything social conservatives argue for is implicitly utilitarian - everybody would be better off if only they would do things the socon way!!!! But of course, everyone would not be better off. Just the socons - for a while, until things came tumbling down around their ears, 'cause, you know, that's already happened once or twice?