Friday, April 11, 2008
Personal Asides: Paulson and George, Separated at Birth, Entirely Different The `60s Defining Moment V: The Environment1969. Commentaries Oops I Forgot: The `60s Defining Moment VI: Secular City 1965.
Paulson and George.
As you can see, Treasury Secretary Henry (Hank) Paulson and Francis Cardinal George were born twins. One made almost $1 billion as head of Goldman Sachs in the relatively free market, has become George W. Bushs treasury chief. The other with Ph.Ds in theology and philosophy presides over the archdiocese of Chicago. Both have the same amount of hairbut they are as different as possible to be. One is entirely free market. The other is moderately pro-regulation. Guess which is which.
The one youd expect to be laissez-faire the pro-Wall Street advocate of free markets, Paulson has just proposed a plan that sends the feds into the market swiftly when traders err and their markets collapse. He is asking Congress for greater authority to intervene in trading activities of investment banks so as to do what he did to Bear-Stearns to be applied in the case of what he calls systemic risk i.e. the danger of market meltdown. It has been called the most drastic intervention in U.S. fiscal history.
The one you would imagine would be more pro-regulation the bishop who like all his colleagues has been commanded to see that all members should believe the truths propounded by the apostles and their successors and confess what they believe is totally laissez-faire. There are three powers inherent in the episcopacy: (1) the power to administer the sacraments (2) the power to teach authoritatively the revealed truth and (3) the right to govern and direct the people of God according to norms of worship and conduct binding on the faithful. Especially with No. 3 you would expect to see more discipline in the Chicago episcopacy than from a free-market Republican secretary. Wrongo.
Thats where the twins are different. The episcopacy is very laissez-faire. Let a scandal erupt with priests violating children and while its deplored and change is pledged, violations occur againbut thats okay. Let the lay chancellor who, it had been assumed, had supervision over these things but who, it seems, didnt and he gets promotedthats okay. Let everyone who had anything to do with Fr. Dan McCormacks training in seminary and his ordination and who failed be promotedand thats okay. Let a seminary rector who approved ordination of McCormack be promoted to auxiliary bishopand thats okay. Let him say as Bishop of Tucson that he would still ordain McCormack if he had to do it all over again and be tapped to be elected second in rank among all the bishops of the United States on a slate approved by the Chicago archbishopand thats okay.
Let Mercy Home for Boys & Girls which is directly under the archdioceses jurisdiction invite Hillary Clinton to address its fund-raisingand thats okay. Let DePaul University which carries the title Catholic with the permission of the archbishop teach kids Queer Studies 101 on how to be introduced to homosexual sexand thats okay. Let the university president reject the archbishops views on communicating on homosexuality while still keeping the designation Catholic for his schooland thats okay.
Let Fr. Michael Pfleger a priest of the archdiocese and a pastor invite Al Sharpton and a host of other Democratic candidates who espouse abortion and gay rights in opposition to the church to speak at St. Sabinas in violation of the IRSand thats okay. Let Fr. Pfleger go to a legally run gun shop and threaten on TV to drag the owner outside like a rat and snuff him out when the gun shop owner has violated no law and is within the precincts of the 2nd amendmentand thats okay. Let Fr. Pfleger go to Trinity United Church of Christ and shout how dare people criticize its pastor for saying God damn the United Statesand thats okay.
Let Fr. Pfleger go to Springfield and address a rally where Pfleger urges the defeat of all state lawmakers who oppose his specified gun controlin violation of the non-profit clause of the IRS granted to churchesand thats okay. Let Fr. Andrew Greeley, an archdiocesan priest, in newspaper columns mock the supposed fallibility of the Holy Spirit in selecting popes, endorse contraception and women priests in violation of church tenetsand thats okay. Correction: not just okay but Greeley gets to take the Cardinal to dinner and the opera on occasion--very okay.
But dont get the idea there are no limits to this ecclesial laissez-faire. Let one dare to write about these instances and its not okay. He is hauled down to Superior street and chastised and following that calls are made diocese-wide to shut him up including to people he works with. Thats okay.
Just so you dont think that in this archdiocese there are no rules at all. There are and youd better believe there are.
`60s Defining Moment No. V: Environmentalism: 1969.
Thank you all for your exceedingly good commentaries on the rise of environmentalism in 1969particularly from our super-star Frank Nofsinger plus Matt Nelson (outstanding), Dan Kelley (superb) and Pat Hickey (his on Greeley but still very-very good).
Youre all correct. I think I wrote about a lot of it yesterday but suffice it to say that while much of environmentalism makes common sense, the pernicious trait of politicized environmentalism is to allege that people are pollutant which plays hand-in-glove with other liberal ideas that have wreaked so much damage and have taken command of the Democratic party. As the Danish statistician Bjorn Lomborg has shown in repeated studies, life expectancy is increasing on a global basis including in the Third World air and water in the developed world are cleaner than they were 500 years agoindeed much cleaner than when I was a boy chemical poisoning of the earth is maliciously exaggerated food and energy are cheaper overpopulation is a mythif anything our own countrys population is declining were it not for immigration and the global outlook is one of great human prosperity.
Now to a sixth and final development in the 60sone which I overlooked and which should have come before Environmentalism. It is the havoc caused by a book which you may not have read but heard of but in fact you have all been influenced by it with modernization of religion. Let me summarize the book which is
`60s Defining Moment No. VI: The Secular City 1965.
It is what has happened to the once stable mainline Protestant churches, formerly a bulwark of societal stability: the Episcopal, Presbyterian, Lutheran (some of which remains). . It was largely done in by a book now largely ignored but which in 1965 was all the rageThe Secular City by Harvey Cox. His prescription was duplicated in my own Catholic church by a man I have made rather notorious among the few who read this websiteFr. Godfrey Diekmann OSB of my own St. Johns University, Collegeville, Minn. Let me define what the Protestant theologian Coxstill alive but now largely forgottenmaintained. Harvey Cox is still called by liberals one of the preeminent theologians in the United States where he serveswhere else?as professor of divinity at Harvard. He developed the thesis that the church by which he means the word in a generic senseJudeo-Christianityshould change from being a closed society to an activist cadre in the forefront of change, celebrating the new ways religiosity is finding expression in the world. He lamented that intrinsic conservatism prevents the denominational churches from leaving their palaces behind and stepping into Gods permanent revolution in history.
Cox listed two motifs in particular to characterize the style of the secular city. He called them pragmatism and steel yourselves profanity. Pragmatism we know. By profanity he meant secular mans wholly terrestrial horizaon, the disappearance of any supramundane reality defining life. Pro-fane means literally outside the templethus having to do with the world. There you have it. But I must leave you with more. When he wrote this book, John F. Kennedy was president and celebrated widely for being an outstanding one.
Wrote Cox: John F. Kennedy embodies the spirit of the pragmatic. Now there is was righter than he imagined and I have written much about Kennedy the pragmatist and so have you. By profane he lists the late French novelist and playwright Albert Camus. Profane by which we do not suggest that secular man is sacrilegious but that he is unreligious. He views the world not in terms of some other world but in terms of itself. He feels thjat any meaning he finds must be found in this world itself. Profane man is simply thisworldly. Anyone from this vantage-point who looks back at JFK knows where rampant pragmatism led us, from his horrendous personal life to serious misfeasances with government and failure to measure up to manynot alltests of the Cold War. This in large measure I think is why you dont hear much of The Secular City or Harvey Cox these days. As a matter of fact, I had to check the Internet to even determine if he is alive (he is: one year younger than I as a matter of fact).
Coxs dogma is in a very real sense is what Virgil Michel anticipated and what his successor Godfrey Diekmann OSB expressly taught with some Catholic variation. Essentially it means not that we bring religious values to the secular cityfor that is what all the Church fathers taught. It means however unintentionally Cox meant it that we convert the church to a social, worldly and political organism, recognizing that it must be a revolutionary force in the worlda force that modern liberal theorists would harness to liberal goals: elimination of all social injustice in the world in short transforming this world to a paradise on earth.
This book has been responsible in large measure for revolutionizing the main establishment of the Protestant church and for eroding in great measure the social teachings of my own Catholic church to an adjunct of the modern Democratic partyviz the priest who drives me somewhat around the bend as you have doubtless perceived, Andy Greeley. Go to it. This concludes the `60s defining moments for now. Lets have your comments.