When the Shepherds Become Wolves

Bishops and priests who succumb to the temptations of money and the vanity of careerism turn into wolves “who devour the flesh of their own sheep”. Mincing no words to stigmatize the conduct of anyone who, the Pope said, citing St Augustine, “takes the flesh of the sheep to eat it, exploit it or trade in it, and who is attached to money, becomes a miser and frequently also a simonist”. Or else he makes use of the wool for his own vanity, in order to boast.  Pope Francis, May 2013

The Malicious Witness

“Word of the Day: GOSSIP

The other day I heard the first somewhat unflattering description of the behavior of some — some — of our students. It wasn’t that they got drunk, or fornicated, or cheated on papers, or did drugs, or got into fights, as is par for the course everywhere else. It’s that some of the girls engaged in GOSSIP. The trouble is that the walls and floors in the dormitory are rather thin, so that two girls talking about a third girl would be overheard by ten others.

Men GOSSIP too, but it isn’t so much fraught with emotion. Consider it to be another case of a gift gone awry. Women do use words more often than men do, and women are in fact more keenly attuned to the feelings of others. You want that sort of thing in the sex that is to take care of babies and small children. You do not want that sort of thing in the sex that is to hunt buffalo. You want, in the buffalo-hunting sex, a different gift, one that can also be abused or that can harden into something bad: the capacity to bracket your feelings and put them in the closet marked “Inconsequential,” because what counts are not feelings but getting the particular job done. And if the job is complex and risky, like bringing down the buffalo, or building the cathedral, or digging the canal, most expressions of personal feeling are quite simply in the way.

Anyhow, there is the GOSSIP. I was actually a bit surprised by it, because I hadn’t detected a trace of it over a whole year. But then, I wouldn’t. I’m not interested enough in the particular dynamics of any social group to notice. Or — something else: I sense sometimes that I MIGHT notice the swirls and eddies of strong feeling, grudges, hurt, envy, and maneuvering, if I tried really hard, but that I prefer not to notice, because noticing them spoils what’s more important. They might as well not exist.

The sex that is sensitive to the emotional needs of others may use that sensitivity to make the lives of their rivals, namely other girls, just a little more troublesome, a little more blue, a little more lonely. Boys fight, and the fights are sometimes pretty bloody. Yet sometimes the fights conclude in fast friendships. Girls themselves tell me that their fights are not like that at all. Six of one, half dozen of the other.

The Church considers GOSSIP to verge upon a serious sin, one that I must confess to have committed often enough in life — and one that we tend to overlook, because it does not exactly involve lying. It is the sin of DETRACTION. It means that you run down the character of somebody else by telling bad TRUTHS about him, and if DETRACTION is not a LIE, it is in a real sense more harmful to the victim, who has no defense against it. I have had to guard against this sin ever since I was made conscious of it. In general. ALL use of the tongue (or the pen) that violates the commandment of charity against the legitimate secrets of individual persons violates the commandment: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

The word GOSSIP originally denoted a person, not an action: your GOD-SIBB, that is, your SPONSOR at Baptism or Confirmation: your GOD-KINSMAN. The SIBB part of it suggests somebody who is intimately related to you — to your SELF: it is related to the hundreds of words in Indo-European languages having to do with your SELF or your OWN; cf. the Latin reflexive SE; Greek IDIOS, one’s OWN; German SEIN, HIS. Chaucer’s Wife of Bath talks a lot to her GOSSIP, that is, her female neighbor, and already the suggestion is that the talk isn’t very nice.” – Tony Esolen

The Staggering Cost of Economic Illiteracy

Over the last five years the Bishop of Rome has made manifest his ignorance of (or opposition to), Church doctrine on moral issues. Now he has chosen to demonstrate to the world another area in which he is ignorant; history, finance and economics.

We are naturally sad at the latest humiliation for the Church and the increase in confusion that will inevitably result from this promulgation of ignorance, but I am hopeful that God will do great things through the errors of this pontificate, and perhaps one way that will be manifested in the life of Catholics is the total annihilation of the neo-ultramontanist heresy which grips so many on both Left and Right.

Dr. Samuel Gregg offers an exceptionally charitable perspective on the document here.  His conclusion:

Finance is unquestionably a sphere of life in which people are subject to specific temptations—just as politics and the priesthood are callings with their own potential pitfalls. Oeconomicae pecuniariae et quaestiones goes some way towards helping people make good choices in an industry upon which every single one of us is in some way reliant for our economic well-being. Unfortunately, it’s also a reminder that the Church has much more work to do if it’s going to make constructive contributions to the reform of a segment of modern economies that, ten years after the financial crisis, is still in desperate need of substantive change.

The Pope’s essay is here.

Have You Met Each of the Seven ‘Cry Room Mom’ Personas?

Yesterday I spent some time in the back of the church with #13F1.25 who, like her older sisters, thinks she is in charge. It’s not the first time I’ve been the only father in the back with a bunch of mothers. It IS the first time I’ve seen all 7 Cry Room Mom Personas simultaneously, even though there is no cry room.

1) the newish Mom who is overly protective and glares at me for letting my toddler roam out of arm’s reach or get too close to her (older than my) child, 2) the 30ish mom who is pregnant and has what appears to be 6 children under five, 3) the 20ish mom who is trying to nurse a screaming infant but is so worried about her modesty she’s brought a queen-sized comforter from home that infuriates the infant and draws attention to both, 4) the mom who brought all four of her kids (ages 11, 8, 5, 3) to the back and the infant is the best-behaved, 5) the mom who loudly threatens her badly behaved toddler but doesn’t actually ever discipline, 6) the mom whose choice of a summer dress failed to anticipate the possibility she would be crawling around on all fours in the back of the church in front of a father of 13, and of course my personal favorite, 7) the comatose mom who neither participates in Mass nor pays any attention to her toddler who clearly has a vocation to be a US Marine specializing in urban assault.

Why Do Christians Struggle with Economics?

“Here is a theory (with a debt to Rothbard, Hoppe, Kinsella, et al.) about why this situation persists. People who live and work primarily within the religious milieu are dealing mainly with goods of an infinite nature. These are goods like salvation, the intercession of saints, prayers of an infinitely replicable nature, texts, images, and songs that constitute non-scarce goods, the nature of which requires no rationing, allocation, and choices regarding their distribution.

None of these goods takes up physical space. One can make infinite copies of them. They can be used without displacing other instances of the good. They do not depreciate with time. Their integrity remains intact no matter how many times they are used. Thus they require no economization. For that reason, there need to be no property norms concerning their use. They need not be priced. There is no problem associated with their rational allocation. They are what economists call “free goods.”

If one exists, lives, and thinks primarily in the realm of the non-scarce good, the problems associated with scarcity — the realm that concerns economics — will always be elusive. To be sure, it might seem strange to think of things such as grace, ideas, prayers, and images as goods, but this term merely describes something that is desired by people. (There are also things we might describe as nongoods, which are things that no one wants.) So it is not really a point of controversy to use this term. What really requires explanation is the description of prayers, grace, text, images, and music as non-scarce goods that require no economization.”

https://mises.org/library/why-religious-people-struggle-economics