Every so often, I post random thoughts on this weblog. Usually when I have a few unexpected moments to my self. So here goes a few more.
Topic One: I often hear the argument that “there isn’t enough money” to pay for this or that program to benefit the poor in our country. I have a lot of problems with that argument. First of all, it is a value statement because the person saying this usually would allocate money to other projects and programs in a more robust manner than they do with programs for the poor, which is indicative of what they value most dear. Second, the “no money” argument is, as best I can ascertain, patently false. There is a lot of money in our society. Lots of it. For some reason, the multi-trillions of dollars spent on such things as war does not offend us as much as the millions of dollars we spend on providing healthcare, food and shelter for the poor. Another value statement.
Topic two: We have lost our ability far too often to have a civil conversation or even debate on moral issues. We no longer have a common language or common set of assumptions from which to start. It is a very laborious task to first establish that common language and bases of assumption before discussing the issue on the table. Because it is so laborious, we try to skip it, and we end up talking past one another and excoriating our opponents. This is the point Pope Francis is making, I think, when he comments that we have to first have an encounter with the poor before we can address the moral issues. In the not too distant past, one could assume a Christian value system, a rudimentary understanding of what we call natural law, and a near universal acceptance of the reality of objective truth. No more. If you assume this, you’re defeated before you begin. What is a better approach? Do what Jesus did. Teach and speak in parables. We have not yet lost our cultural ability to tell and understand stories/parables.
Topic three: Slavery. No, I am not talking about slavery in the usual sense of involuntary servitude by which our history so sadly is marked. I am speaking of slavery to deceptions and lies and the difficulty we have in discerning truth from deception. Of course, the great mystics of the Church talked about this; St. Ignatius of Loyola wrote about this. DIscernment of the spirits. Can you discern what is true from what is false? What are the criteria by which you decide. Isn’t it true that for many of us we abdicate our responsibility to make these discernments by one of these two ways: 1) I don’t trust myself in this matter, so please Church/priest/bishop/deacon tell me so I don’t have to struggle or grow; just tell me what to do! or 2) There is no such thing as real truth or falsity; I determine alone what is true based on my affective experiences, on my own sensible conclusions, so let no man guide me for I am my own “conscience” however poorly formed I may be! Let me suggest that either of those two options lead to slavery, and not toward real Christian freedom of which St. Paul so eloquently spoke.
Until next time….