• RSS Queering the Church

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • RSS Spirit of a Liberal

    • To my Republican Friends July 6, 2020
      You voted for Trump even though you didn't like him. Doubted his character. Questioned his fitness for the job. Yet, your aversion to Hillary was even greater The post To my Republican Friends first appeared on Spirit of a Liberal.
      Obie Holmen
    • Wormwood and Gall a Midwest Book Award Finalist May 4, 2020
      The Midwest Independent Publishers Association (MIPA) recently named Wormwood and Gall as one of three finalists for a Midwest Book Award in the Religion/Philosophy category. The awards program, which is organized by MIPA, recognizes quality in independent publishing in the Midwest. The post Wormwood and Gall a Midwest Book Award Finalist first appeared on S […]
      Obie Holmen
  • RSS There Will be Bread

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • RSS The Wild Reed

    • Ruth Ben-Ghiat on the Return of Fascism in Italy September 29, 2022
      Perhaps like me you’ve been long aware of (and troubled by) the rise of authoritarian leaders and governments around the world.The most recent example of this is in Italy where, in the wake of recent elections, the country’s first far-right leader since Benito Mussolini, Giorgia Meloni, has declared victory, as the right-wing alliance led by her Brothers of […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
    • Summer’s Parting Gift September 21, 2022
      See also the previous Wild Reed posts:• Summer’s End (2021)• Summer Vignettes• Photo of the Day – June 22, 2018• Nelson Mandela and the Rainbow Connection• Late Summer Blooms• My Rainbow Sash Experience• Photo of the Day – August 27, 2015• First Signs of “By Far the Most Paradoxical” SeasonImage: Michael J. Bayly.
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
  • RSS Bilgrimage

    • Ruth Krall, A Bilgrimage Bibliography April 2, 2021
       A Bilgrimage BiographyRuth Elizabeth Krall, MSN, PhDNote: Since 2015 my friend William D. Lindsey (Bill) has published my work on his blog Bilgrimage. At this time, the blog is inactive, so I have decided to pull together my various posts so that future researchers and academics can find them in one place.  I have arranged this bibliography so that more rec […]
      noreply@blogger.com (William D. Lindsey)
    • Ruth Krall, "Persephone’s Journey into the Underworld: Lessons for Our Time" February 3, 2021
      Ancient portrayal of Demeter and Persephone, Apulian red-figure loutrophoro, ca. 4th century BCE, from the J. Paul Getty Museum, at the Theoi Project websiteWhen I announced at the start of this year that I've decided no longer to maintain Bilgrimage, I also noted that if readers have something they'd like me to consider for posting here down the r […]
      noreply@blogger.com (William D. Lindsey)
  • RSS Enlightened Catholicism

  • RSS Far From Rome

    • the way ahead March 23, 2013
      My current blog is called the way ahead.
      noreply@blogger.com (PrickliestPear)
  • RSS The Gay Mystic

    • A saint for the millenials: Carlo Acutis beatified today in Assisi. October 10, 2020
       A saint for the millenials: the young Italian teen, Carlo Acutis, who died in 2006 of galloping Leukemia, will be beatified today in Assisi by Pope Francis (last step before being officially declared a saint). Carlo came from a luke warm Catholic family, but at the age of 7, when he received his first 'Holy Communion', he displayed an astonishing […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Unknown)
    • Ronan Park and Jack Vidgen: The Travails of Gay Pop Stars October 28, 2019
      (Jack Vidgen)Quite by accident, through a comment from a performance arts colleague of mine, I stumbled across the recent bios of two boy teen singing sensations, both of whom made a big splash worldwide 8 years ago. The first, Jack Vidgen, won Australia's Got Talent Contest in 2011 at the age of 14, primarily for his powerful renditions of Whitney Hust […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Unknown)
  • RSS The Jesus Manifesto

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • RSS John McNeill: Spiritual Transformations

  • RSS Perspective

    • Elendil October 6, 2022
      There's an interesting article about The Rings of Power in the Hollywood Reporter: ‘The Rings of Power’ Showrunners Break Silence on Backlash, Sauron and Season 2[...] The call from the lawyers came in to Amazon on a Friday in 2017: The Tolkien estate was going to entertain proposals for a Lord of the Rings show. Prime Video, along with every other ente […]
      noreply@blogger.com (crystal)

Fidelis’s CatholicVote.org Enbraces the Apostate Glenn Beck and More!

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

The Tom Monaghan-linked group Fidelis which has seemingly dabbled in financial fiddling seems to be at it again. It’s political affiliate, CatholicVote.org is employing Catholic Right culture war memes to help elect Mitt Romney to the presidency – while also falsely casting economic libertarianism as the basis of the Church’s understanding of Social Justice.

We’ll talk about that in a moment, but let’s first call on Glenn Beck to help us set the stage.

One would think that Glenn Beck should be the last person to instruct American Catholics on how to vote in the upcoming election. After all, Beck is the former Fox television talk-show host who gave religious folks an odd admonition:

“I’m begging you, your right to religion and freedom to exercise religion and read all of the passages of the Bible as you want to read them and as your church wants to preach them . . . are going to come under the ropes in the next year. If it lasts that long it will be the next year. I beg you, look for the words ‘social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words.  Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes!”

Now, a few oddly influential neocons or libertarians notwithstanding, economic justice is a cornerstone of Catholicism, especially since 1891 papal encyclical Rerum Novarum.  This means the right for workers to organize; the right to a living wage; and the belief that labor is not to be treated as a mere commodity.  This has been repeatedly reaffirmed, most recently in the papal encyclical Caritas in Veritate.

I guess no one should be surprised that Mr. Beck abandoned Catholicism to become a Mormon in 1999 because “For me some of the things in traditional doctrine just doesn’t work...”

The actual Catholic view of economic justice is as lost on the folks at CatholicVote.org as it is on the apostate, Glenn Beck.  So much so, that the group created a September 25th town hall call-in event designed to reach Catholic voters centered around the self-described “Rodeo Clown” in the hope of roping them into the GOP.  Uncoincidentally, the group’s the group’s president, Brian Burch, took a leave of absence to work for the Romney campaign.

As previously noted, CatholicVote.org is a project of Fidelis (it may have superseded Fidelis itself as its web site no longer exists)

Fidelis is currently affiliated with Champion the Vote, a project of United in Purpose (UIP), which has been quietly financing and organizing a revived, dynamic religious right. Who makes up UIP’s leadership? The Los Angeles Times reports, “Most of its financial supporters remain anonymous, but one of its main backers is technology entrepreneur Ken Eldred, a generous Republican donor. Its board includes Reid Rutherford, a Silicon Valley solar-energy plant developer.”

UIP is the group that bankrolled at least American Family Association’s involvement in the Perry prayer rally – an event that featured prominent anti-Catholic New Apostolic Reformation ministers.

There seems to be some hypocrisy here. Conservative Catholics and conservative evangelical Protestants both oppose reproductive rights; marriage equality; and embryonic stem cell research. Those issues are consistent with the Vatican hierarchy. But with that said, CatholicVote.org is clearly out of sync with Rome – and the larger Church — on economics and environmental stewardship.

This disconnect was readily apparent by their town hall event featuring none other than… the apostate Glenn Beck!

This disconnect is evident right on the CatholicVote.org’s “Issues” page on its web site where culture war hot button issues – marriage, for example – are prominently featured.

But also front and center is an an essay in the “Taxes and Government” by Ramesh Ponnuru, senior editor of The National Review, complaining about how entitlements for the elderly are financed. The link to Economic Justice features a brief essay authored by Samuel Gregg, Director of Research for the libertarian Acton Institute.  And the link to Environmental Stewardship while darkly warning of the “worship of nature” makes no mention at all of global warming.

Let’s consider Samuel Gregg a little further. He is also affiliated with the anti-regulation, libertarian Atlas Economic Research Foundation.  A past president of Atlas once said its mission “is to litter the world with free-market think-tanks.” To that end, major funders include Exxon-Mobil ($500,000 since 1998) and Koch family foundations (1997-2008: $122,300). Other similarly-minded contributors include the Sarah Scaife Foundation and the Earhart Foundation (Harry B. Earhart, who started the foundation, funded much of the work of libertarian icon economist Friedrich von Hayek).

Ramesh Ponnuru’s leading role at The National Review speaks for itself.  But he comes from good libertarian stock. He served as a fellow of  The Institute of Economic Affairs , which also gave birth to Atlas. The Institute was founded by another Hayak benefactor, Antony Fisher.

By clicking on “Educational Freedom” we find an essay by Kevin Schmiesing calling for the public funding of vouchers for private school tuition. Who is Mr. Schmiesing? He is a research fellow at the Acton Institute.

Economic libertarianism is anything but synonymous with the principles of Catholic Social Justice. Indeed, it is its antithesis. It is a theory in which workers are commodities and should not be paid much beyond subsistence. I suspect that advancing this belief under the guise of religious freedom (for the hierarchy, that is) is what CatholicVote.org’s agenda is ultimately about.

Writing in his recent book, The “Poisoned Spring” of Economic Libertarianism: Menger, Mises, Hayek, Rothbard: a Critique From Catholic Social Teaching of the ‘Austrian school’ of Economics, Catholic economic author Angus Sibley noted:

Most practical methods of reducing inequalities are repugnant to libertarians. Labor unions are hated because they obstruct the worker’s freedom to agree his own contract with his employer. Minimum wage rates are another blasphemy against the divine free market, whose worshippers assert, against much historical evidence, that fixed minima “inevitably” reduce the demand for labor and so cause unemployment. Redistributive taxation (higher tax rates on higher personal incomes) “is a mode of disguised expropriation of successful capitalists and entrepreneurs” according to Mises, while his admirer Murray Rothbard stated that “Taxation is Robbery” and that “the libertarian favors the right to unrestricted private property and free-exchange”.

He also wrote:

Catholic teaching flatly repudiates all that nonsense. Leo XIII (Rerum Novarum, §45) spoke of “a dictate of natural justice more imperious and ancient than any bargain between man and man, namely that wages ought not to be insufficient to support a frugal and well-behaved wage-earner”, and he strongly commended (#49) workers’ associations, of which “the most important of all are workingmen’s unions.” John Paul II (Centesimus Annus, §20) observed that “unions… are indeed a mouthpiece for the struggle for social justice, for the just rights of working people.”

It is a sham, (arguably self-satire), for any organization that purports to inform Catholic voters of where the Church stands to try to sell them unCatholic ideas. But then again, to understand why CatholicVote.org engages in such mendacity one only need to follow the money — and Glenn Beck!

Catholic Right Rushes to Defend the Ayn Rand Federal Budget Plan

The GOP has been taking a beating of late over their budget plan to effectively end Medicare as we know it.  But Catholic Right operatives Deal Hudson and Robert Sirico quickly mobilized to provide some holy help.

For his part, Deal Hudson delegated the task to Grace-Marie Turner, president of the conservative Galen Institute, to pen a defense of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budgetary intentions at his new site, Catholic Advocate. Turner insisted that “Medicare Must Be Changed to Survive,” but nevertheless tried to downplay a key feature of the proposed change:  the use of vouchers in Ryan’s plan:

Ryan says that the outcry against his reform plan is “not just overheated – it is flat-out false.  Our budget – ‘The Path to Prosperity’ – strengthens the safety net by directing more assistance to those who need it most… Most important, it prevents the kind of debt-fueled economic crisis that would hit the poor the hardest.”

Under his plan, beginning in 2022, beneficiaries are guaranteed a choice among Medicare-approved private health options in a program like members of Congress have today and that one fourth of Medicare beneficiaries have voluntarily chosen – Medicare Advantage.

But Turner omits a critical difference between Ryan’s plan and the current Medicare format: Medicare Parts A and B, the standard government direct payment system, still now exists for those who don’t find a suitable private option.  Ryan and his defenders don’t tell us if they believe those private options will as generous if there is no government competition and less regulation.

This past April the Democracy in America column in The Economist magazine addressed the matter of vouchers.

But there is one thing about it that’s fairly clear, regardless of what’s in the details Mr Ryan will announce today:  Mr. Ryan’s plan ends the guarantee that all American seniors will have health insurance.  The Medicare system we’ve had in place for the past 45 years promises that once you reach 65, you will be covered by a government-financed health-insurance plan.  Mr. Ryan’s plan promises that once you reach 65, you will receive a voucher for an amount that he thinks ought to be enough for individuals to purchase a private health-insurance plan.  (Mr. Ryan insists that his plan doesn’t entail a “voucher”, but there is no meaningful distinction between getting a voucher with which to pay for insurance, and having the government send a payment to the insurer you choose.)  If that voucher isn’t worth enough for some particular senior to buy insurance, and that particular senior isn’t wealthy enough to top off the coverage, or is a bit forgetful and neglects to purchase insurance, there’s no guarantee that that person will be insured. It’s up to you; you carry the risk.

Mr. Ryan thinks this is a good thing, because individuals who are responsible for paying for their own health insurance will be strongly motivated to seek better insurance at a lower price.  I think this is a terrible thing, because the mechanism Mr. Ryan is using to incentivize people to seek better coverage for the price is to expose them to the risk that they will suffer from disease for which their insurance doesn’t cover them.

Soon afterward, Rev. Robert Sirico of the economically libertarian Acton Institute sought to rehabilitate Ryan’s dubious arbiter of capitalist morality, Ayn Rand.

In an essay titled Who Really Was John Galt, Anyway?, Sirico tried to take some of the controversy out of the Ryan’s praise of Rand by attempting to place her within the Catholic tradition she despised.  He claimed that Rand “saw herself operating within the Natural Law Tradition” and had a “…hunger for truth.”

But just when you think Sirico’s argument couldn’t get any thinner, he claims Ryan is a victim of a smear campaign “reminiscent of McCarthyism.”

But it is unwise and unnecessary to merely dismiss out of hand Rand’s ideas or the impact of her writings.  It is especially off-putting to see the left employ images of her to tar and feather political opponents in a dishonest way very much reminiscent of the McCarthyism they so frequently denounce.  They do not argue with Mr. Ryan-for their own ulterior motives, they merely associate him with an admittedly flawed and mean woman, and think they have done society a service.

Of course this is a strawman argument.  Ryan was not associated with Rand and no one has said he was.  Rather Ryan himself has said that he agreed with her ideas, in particular her “morality.”  That’s why Catholic writer Sean Michael Winters was spot-on when he tagged  Ryan’s plan as an “Ayn Rand Budget.”

To try to present the Ryan budget as conforming to Catholic Social teaching by misrepresenting the budget’s contents and selecting a few quotes from a single papal encyclical just doesn’t pass our test.

Perhaps what is most disturbing for us faith leaders is the cynical way in which those who have created this budget, and those who have come to town today to endorse it are trying to wrap it in the language of faith.  This is no faith-based budget.  This is the Ayn Rand budget. Let’s call it what it is.  We have been watching conservative political leaders, and pundits all touting their love for Ayn Rand over the past year.  This budget is completely faithful to her ethical vision, and what is that:

Ayn Rand says:  “I don’t approve of religion.”

Ayn Rand says:  “I have no faith at all.”

Ayn Rand says:  “I am against God.”

Ayn Rand says:   “Love only those who deserve it.”

Ayn Rand says:   “There is no reason I should be my brother’s keeper.”

Ayn Rand says:   “I promote an ethic of selfishness.”

But it is important to underscore that the Ryan budget is contrary to Catholic teaching not because Ayn Rand was an atheist. If anything, Rand’s virulent strain of neo-atheism also denigrates the character of most non-believers.  Ryan is out-of-step with Magisterium because Rand’s philosophy is unjust. For all Rand’s supposed reliance in Aristotelian ethics, she conveniently ignores his teachings on distributive justice.

Randian morality relies upon a belief that “creators” who pursue money are the only people who pursue excellence. It excludes the likes of  Jonas Salk, Mohandas Gandhi and Vince Lombardi — all of whom pursued excellence in ways that were not primarily focused upon making a buck.  Replacing the cross with the dollar sign, Rand’s definition of love is limited to the self, and forsakes any notion of common effort let alone the common good.

This is why Paul Ryan’s budget plan is at odds with Catholic principles: He too has replaced the cross with the dollar sign.

The Road to Remonstrance

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

I recently wrote about the need for mainstream and liberal Catholics to offer remonstrance — an earnest presentation of reasons for opposition or grievance against the reactionaries now fomenting schism within the Church. I’d now like to further explain the need for such action.

Why is Catholic remonstrance necessary? Here are a few compelling reasons.

First, remonstrance is a form of dissent. Any institution, whether it be a national government or a religious hierarchy, needs to hear about potential problems before they become major problems. Listening and hearing such dissent is essential to institutional health. Arguably: No dissent, no health.

Dissent also draws attention to vital new ideas even if they were treated with scorn upon arrival. For example, a reconsideration of natural law principles in light of knowledge acquired since St. Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century offers strong arguments in support of artificial birth control and embryonic stem cell research while establishing homosexuality is not the aberration Church fathers believe it to be. Even the great Aristotelian thinker, St. Thomas Aquinas was treated as a heretic and excommunicated shortly after his death. And yet his ideas came to greatly influence Catholic theology.

Remonstrance also allows more the esoteric economic agendas of the Catholic Right to be exposed.

Reactionaries now control much of the structure of Church governance. For example, Archbishop Raymond Burke is now the current Perfect of Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, roughly the equivalent of a Vatican Supreme Court. Additionally, Pope Benedict XVI is expanding the ranks of conservatism in the Church by reaching out to the anti-modernist, anti-Semitic Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) and attempting bring socially conservative Anglicans into the fold.

Although he also recently issued the economically progressive encyclical Caritas in Veritate, he is appointing and elevating economically regressive bishops and cardinals — especially in the United States. The very anti-health care reform Kansas City, Kansas Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, as well as Kansas City – St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn, Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia and Bishop R. Walker Nickless, of the Diocese of Sioux City, Iowa immediately come to mind. Many of these church princes cavort with Catholic neocons whose political agenda for the church has more to do with comforting the wealthy and extending empire than with Jesus’s concern for the oppressed, the marginalized, the vulnerable, and the despised.

Finally, Catholicism risks transformation as an appendage not only of neconic oligarchy but opposition to pluralism as espoused by traditionalists. Some such as Tradition, Family, Property, are downright scornful of modern democracy. To that end, these folks often abuse the Catholic notion of obedience. In their hands it is transformed from the idea of living a life in compliance with God’s will to one of blind obedience to those who abuse their hierarchical authority to violate other key components of natural law such as distributive justice. To people like these, dissent is a dangerous thing.

It is not difficult to see where this goes. If the faithful can be bullied into religious compliance by dint of damnation anxiety, then they can be an effective tool for oligarchs who join with traditionalists in equating dissent with disobedience to God.

That is why mainstream Catholics must now offer remonstrance; and refute the substitution of Caesar for God; both in the pew and in the public square.

Next: Catholics who exemplify remonstrance.