Sunday, July 19, 2015

It Does Affect Me?

I have written a lot recently about the false sense of community Catholics unconsciously adopt from the secular world, and it adopts from us too. First of all, there is no community in the Medieval or Greek sense of the word in North America, at least not one represented by the state. CBC attempts to prove there is one so they can be it, so does the Canadian Government, etc. But they are not and nothing unites us as a community. We simply share space and believe we must therefore be a community.

But I've talked about that. What I want to talk about today is kind of the flip-side of that: how I have an interest in other people's lives because I cannot get away from them. No, that doesn't make a community. It makes nothing more than a negative relationship. The question is, can I be a libertarian, really? I say I am one by default because I don't want people I do not respect to affect my life. One friend of mine always says, in effect, that it's all stupid because there is no Catholic state, therefore everything's a mess and there's no use to talk about any of this.

If I am going to adopt a libertarian position then I have to leave people alone too. Is that possible? Is it possible to let the public school system do its thing as long as they leave the Separate Board alone? They don't leave the Separate Board alone, so that's a mute point. But what if they actually did? I am starting to think that not even that is possible. What if the Separate Board decides that September 18th is 'Naked Day,' and all their kids walk to school naked and spend the day at school naked? Well, that affects me because I would see them go to school, so would my kids, and even if we didn't, what kind of country will that produce? If I want to be immune from their influence I would then have to leave the country, or at least Ontario. Of course, it's easy to see that 'gay marriage' affects much more than just the couple undertaking it - and that's the point. And while it might seem unfair for me to take a position on something that does not directly involve me: it does indeed affect me in many, many ways. But what the right degree? If I don't like bikinis, do I have a right to commit political mayhem to get them banned? Banned from everywhere, banned from libraries, banned from grocery stores...?

Now many half-wits operate from the maxim that because there is nothing inherently wrong with X then X is always good. Because Zulu women go topless, there is nothing inherently wrong with it, therefore it can happen anywhere regardless. That type of rationale explains the trajectory of the whole sexual revolution. Animals are not monogamous, therefore there is nothing inherently wrong with monogamy. Their reasoning stops short with cannibalism, although not, apparently, in the minds of Planned Parenthood. Homosexuality does not do any direct damage, therefore it is fine. How one can quantify direct damage to include smoking and not sodomy is beyond me, of course.

I am not a big fan of rules. I like to do things my way. I am not a herd animal. Trends offend me. That's me, and I've always been that way - hence my t-shirts at mass tirade. Sleeveless shirts at mass gravely offend me.

But how ought one go about recommending fair conduct?

1. By compromise: I won't wear shorts, if you don't go sleeveless?

2. By far-reaching regulations: no one has anything uncovered ever?

3. By no regulations: I wear whatever I want, you wear whatever you want?

Is barn-raising actually a political metaphor?
Obviously, all of these are doomed to fail eventually. Reaching a satisfactory state of affairs is never going to happen. The Amish (2) sort of present an image of having solved the problem with the second type of solution. The 'French Riviera' (3) solution seems to make people happy there.

How do we know who's solution is better? Is there more AIDS, more happiness, more X, Y and Z with the Amish or at the French Riviera? Does it even matter?

I think a really good example of (1) is Madonna House. I am always amazed how well their inter-sexed scenario seems to work. They have rules, but I would not say that they are especially far-reaching as to put them in the Amish category (although some might beg to differ). Of course, in the case of Madonna House, it's not the rules that make it; it's the community's commitment to prayer and to following the Gospel. The rules are secondary and yet logical extensions of the primary reason.

It's hard to get a real read on this. Gay people get such a great sales-pitch from the MSM and Hollywood. Yet is it the case that all non-Christian living leads to AIDS and catastrophe? It depends what you mean by catastrophe. Abortion is catastrophe and it is essential to maintaining the status quo. Divorce is too. Then again, war is catastrophic, and I think one would be hard-pressed to say that nations can exist without it.

Where did Plato go wrong when he set out to plan the ideal state in the Republic and the Laws? I think when he set out to plan the ideal state. Does not Paul tell us quite simply that laws cannot do this, only grace can? Although most students of Plato would agree that Plato's plan in the Republic was not quite as I have set it out here, yet I think that all his provisos aside that are attached to his particular kind of idealism, he still could not think of something much better in politics than a state run with the best laws. Can we think of something better than this? Well, the Church, the City of God... however much those two articulations actually coincide. There is yet one essential wisdom in the Church political view: there is no right formula to be found here on earth.

Now, with this is mind, what should we do about bikinis, gay marriage and schools? Always aim for the closest approximation of the Gospel no matter whether it's our place to do so or not? I call this 'pulling a St. Charles Borromeo.' He tried to regulate every aspect of civic life to reflect Gospel values. He brings us closer to the Amish, but is Catholic Amish qualitatively that much better than Amish Amish?

Is the answer that obvious and have I been so disarmed by secular propaganda by my belief that something closer to libertarianism is fairer given our multicultural context?

One thing is clear, of course: everything affects me. When a bore wants to rev his truck up on a quiet Barry's Bay summer's evening, I am affected. When someone wants to get a divorce and raise his kids in my neighborhood relatively unattended, that affects me. When he chooses to swear around his kids in the privacy of his own home, that affects me. When he tells his kids that homework is unimportant, that affects me...

The argument that 'to each his own' and that 'privacy in the bedroom blah blah blah' requires revisiting.


  1. This is a really interesting post. I've often wondered what kind of a state Catholics should try to build. How closely should civic laws mirror the moral law?

    - Mark F.

  2. My first inclination is to propose that a truly Catholic state is described in the Rule of St. Benedict, but that's perhaps too easy an answer. It might be right, but too summary an answer

  3. Reasons to Believe in Jesus

    Reasons to believe Jesus is alive in a new life with God can be found in quotes from two prominent atheists and a biology textbook.

    Thus the passion of man is the reverse of that of Christ, for man loses himself as man in order that God may be born. But the idea of God is contradictory and we lose ourselves in vain. Man is a useless passion. (Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness: A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology, New York: Washington Square Press, p. 784)

    Among the traditional candidates for comprehensive understanding of the relation of mind to the physical world, I believe the weight of evidence favors some from of neutral monism over the traditional alternatives of materialism, idealism, and dualism. (Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False, location 69 of 1831)

    And certain properties of the human brain distinguish our species from all other animals. The human brain is, after all, the only known collection of matter that tries to understand itself. To most biologists, the brain and the mind are one and the same; understand how the brain is organized and how it works, and we’ll understand such mindful functions as abstract thought and feelings. Some philosophers are less comfortable with this mechanistic view of mind, finding Descartes’ concept of a mind-body duality more attractive. (Neil Campbell, Biology, 4th edition, p. 776 )

    Sartre speaks of the "passion of man," not the passion of Christians. He is acknowledging that all religions east and west believe there is a transcendental reality and that perfect fulfillment comes from being united with this reality after we die. He then defines this passion with a reference to Christian doctrine which means he is acknowledging the historical reasons for believing in Jesus. He does not deny God exists. He is only saying the concept of God is contradictory. He then admits that since life ends in the grave, it has no meaning.

    From the title of the book, you can see that Nagel understands that humans are embodied sprits and that the humans soul is spiritual. He says, however, that dualism and idealism are "traditional" alternatives to materialism. Dualism and idealism are just bright ideas from Descartes and Berkeley. The traditional alternative to materialism is monism. According to Thomas Aquinas unity is the transcendental property of being. Campbell does not even grasp the concept of monism. The only theories he grasps are dualism and materialism.

    If all atheists were like Sartre, it would be an obstacle to faith. An important reason to believe in Jesus is that practically all atheists are like Nagel and Campbell, not like Sartre.

    by David Roemer