“Charity has its place in emergency situations.… A life that is lived on as a recipient of charity is a miserable life. I think, in our DNA, the way God made us, we are made as co-creators. God wants us to perfect and to really finish His creation. And if you’re simply a recipient of charity, you’re not doing that; you’re not fulfilling your real destiny, which is this creative capacity that God has endowed us with, we’re letting that creative capacity sit idle. I think that’s—at probably at the deepest level that I can reach—what’s so inadequate about the traditional response to poverty.” Damian von Stauffenberg
Here at Faith and Prosperity, we believe that morality is the key driver in determining whether an economic system, or an economy in particular, is good. It is not capitalism itself, or socialism itself, but whether the human person is given the opportunity to flourish, develop its talents, and pursue virtue – what is right. Sometimes it seems that governments the world over approach things in the opposite way, so I found this posting on the Huffington Post to be particularly interesting and encouraging. According to Lakoff, Obama recognized the importance of solidarity, one of the pillars of Catholic Social Teaching, and stressed it in his recent jobs speech. Let’s hope that this is not only true in speech, but that it is also reflected in the coming months – that Americans look to further their growth in virtue as they look to overcome economic and financial crises.
Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re recently addressed the topic of the economic crisis at the Eucharistic Congress. His proposed solution? Recurring to the Eucharist. The Eucharist is “the great engine of Christian life: it is encouragement to remake the Christian fabric of society and to educate to the ‘good life of the Gospel’; it is the point of departure for the hoped for New Evangelization, capable of infusing behavior, culture and the whole of life with evangelical contents,” he said. The Eucharist is the source of life for all Catholics. It is our participation in this divine mystery – the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ being made present and available to us – that gives us the strength that we need in carrying out his will, and the grace for our continued sanctification. It is also a sign of unity within the Church. And in times of crisis, there can be no real solution that does not also include Christ. Clearly, the solution must be practical as well, but Cardinal Re is inviting us to look toward the root causes and have us all embrace Christ and embrace the Other in Christ. What do you think?
Yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated the closing mass at this year’s World Youth Day, held in Madrid, Spain. His main message was one of great importance: to “swim against the tide.” It’s a particularly appropriate message considering all of the controversy that the media reported at the beginning of the week. While hundreds of thousands of young people turned out to see the pope and join together in living their Catholic faith, some people also arrived at the event to protest: such an event during a time of economic hardship was not proper, was their argument. That is, they felt that at a time when people were struggling financially, the last thing they needed was Jesus. Some Spanish priests also had issues with the event, but mostly because of its corporate sponsorship. Some companies partnered with the WYD organizers to promote the event, and to these Spanish priests, the Church partnering with business was akin to partnering with “Mammon.” Both sides highlight an interesting issue – nobody thought that faith and prosperity could go together, that business and faith could coexist. It’s very sad to see this happen at such an event, and that is why the pope’s words to… Read more
A few weeks ago, we brought up a video series that discusses the fact that creativity is a reworking of something already done – a remix. I just finished reading Alejandro Chafuen’s book Faith and Liberty, which is an analysis of the economic thought of the Late Scholastics – Catholic thinkers following the same method of inquiry as St. Thomas Aquinas, who lived in the 15th through 17th centuries, and primarily of those in Spain. Chafuen gives a thorough account of their writings and how these dealt with free markets, the determination of just prices, private property, profits, and more. It was these writers who really had an impact on the Scottish thinkers that followed them, and that we often consider the fathers of modern free-market economics: first and foremost among them, Adam Smith. And these Late Scholastics were often working from thoughts developed by Aquinas, and through him, Aristotle. The first few lines of Chapter 12 in Chafuen’s book bear a striking resemblance to what Kirby Ferguson says in that Remix post from a few days ago: Actions are the result of ideas. In studying the origin of ideas, we are actually studying the origin of actions. The ideas… Read more
Another lecture that I had the opportunity to attend at Acton University 2011 was given by Michael Miller, “Social and Cultural Critiques of Global Capitalism.” (The 2011 lecture has yet to be posted for purchase, but the 2010 lecture might offer some of the same. Keep checking the 2011 podcast page for this year’s lecture.) Miller outlined some of the criticisms leveled at capitalism, as well as the strengths that it possesses. Capitalism, he said, is the best mechanism to help the poor, given that it uses price to determine exchanges, and this is less discriminatory that power or friendship. Nevertheless, capitalism, since it always disrupts societies, also has the capacity to destroy societies, part of the idea that Joseph Schumpeter called “creative destruction.” Miller also argued that other issues have had a much more negative effect than capitalism, among them nominalism, relativism, radical autonomy and equality, hyper-rationalism, and methodological individualism. He pointed to Alexis de Tocqueville’s observations of democracy as providing an answer to what could be done to retain positive aspects of capitalism while doing away with the negative: encourage local politics, civil society, and religion. These other institutions prevent both the federal government and the individual from… Read more