Are encyclicals getting too long? And is anybody reading (or understanding) them? Judging from all the acrimony over, say Amoris Laetitia (not technically an encyclical, but we’re making a point here), the answer is “no.” The longer and wordier encyclicals get, the less impact they seem to have. The message(s) tend(s) to get lost in all the explanations and qualifications.
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
A few days ago someone commented concerning Gregory XVI’s Singulari Nos, “On the Errors of Lamennais,” at a little over fifteen hundred words, “Man, encyclicals used to be so short!” Yet the same pope’s Mirari Vos, “On Liberalism and Religious Indifferentism” — arguably the first “social encyclical” — from two years earlier, clocks in at a little over four thousand words in the English version, leaving Singulari Nos in the dust.
Monday, June 26, 2017
Today we present our “Man Bites Dog” feature: what happened when Pope Gregory XVI in the encyclical Mirari Vos corrected the hero of our story, the Abbé de Lamennais. Some authorities consider de Lamennais the forerunner of liberal or social Catholicism (see, e.g., J.W. Burrow, The Crisis of Reason: European Thought, 1848-1914. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2000, 225-226).
Friday, June 23, 2017
This past week we’ve probably been finding out more about the history of social justice and the way the term was coopted by the socialists, modernists, and New Agers than we really want to know, but that we need to know. And there have been a few more recent events as well —
Thursday, June 22, 2017
Yesterday we looked at the errors made by the Abbé Hugues Félicité Robert de Lamennais and why they were wrong. This is important because the errors de Lamennais made eventually became the foundation of what many people think is authentic Catholic social teaching — and they are wrong.
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
|Joseph-Marie comte de Maistre|
Yesterday we looked at the Abbé Hugues Félicité Robert de Lamennais’s rather one-sided notion of the separation of Church and State: that the State must not attempt to control the Church, but that the Church must have complete control of the State. De Lamennais’s ideal society was a democratic theocracy, in contrast to the theory of Joseph-Marie comte de Maistre (1753-1821) that the ideal society was a monarchic theocracy. . . .
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Yesterday we looked at the Catholic Church’s condemnation of “freedom of conscience” . . . which sounds pretty shocking until you find out that “freedom of conscience” as it was being used when Pope Gregory XVI condemned it had about as much to do with religious freedom as “free love” had to do with marriage and family, or “free thinking” had to do with reason. “Free” was just a good-sounding word to stick in front of something to hide its real meaning.
Monday, June 19, 2017
While researching the origins of Rerum Novarum (1891), probably Pope Leo XIII’s best-known encyclical, we came across something that needs a little explanation, especially in the twenty-first century. No, we’re not talking about how Leo XIII’s careful analysis of the evil of socialism and mandated alternative of widespread capital ownership was transformed by vested interests into a condemnation of capitalism.
Friday, June 16, 2017
As summer gets underway next week, people in the Just Third Way are taking the opportunity to get various projects moving again. In that, we’re doing a bit better than a lot of governments around the world who seem baffled about what to do — largely because they don’t yet know about the Just Third Way. But we’re doing what we can —
Thursday, June 15, 2017
Yesterday we looked at a few of the papal statements underscoring the importance of widespread private property in capital. As thinkers through the ages have noted, people are either owners, or they are owned — one way or another . . . and the worst way to be owned (not that there is any good way) is to be owned indirectly by having the system or those who control the system keep people in a permanent condition of dependency.
Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Yesterday we looked at the situation of the non-owning worker, and briefly touched on the matter of the fair wage, which many people assume to be the essence of social justice. Much to the surprise of such people, however, it turns out that neither wages nor private property is the essence of social justice. Both wages and private property come under individual justice. As Pope Pius XI explained in § 79 of Quadragesimo Anno,
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
Yesterday we looked at the ancient Roman custom of the peculium and how knowing about it helps us understand what the heck (or heaven) Jesus was talking about. That’s all very nice, of course, but how does this esoteric historical knowledge have any relevance for the modern day and age? After all, it’s interesting to know that the otherwise daunting Roman pater familias with his terrible potestas that (in theory) included the power of life and death over his children and slaves would train them to enter society by letting them manage capital . . . but so what?
Monday, June 12, 2017
Last week we started looking at the “Parable of the Talents,” and found what seemed to be one or two anomalies in it. Not in the message, of course. That is pretty straightforward: use your God-given talents or you will answer for it. What seemed a little odd was the parable itself: a slave owner hands over large sums of money to some slaves and goes on a trip.
Friday, June 9, 2017
The Just Third Way continues to move forward. There have been a number of events this week suggesting that the ideas may be starting to work into the general consciousness, and may soon start stirring up some enquiries about solutions to some of the more pressing world problems.
Thursday, June 8, 2017
At first glance, Jesus’s “Parable of the Talents” in Matthew 25:14-30 seems straightforward — and it is. The message is obvious, especially to an audience that understands English, a language in which by coincidence the word for the unit of measurement used, the talent, is the same as the word commonly used for ability, capacity, or aptitude, i.e., talent. The message of the parable is, use the gifts God gave you, or you will be held answerable for wasting them.
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal carried an interesting piece about President Emmanuel Macron of France, comparing him — at least on the charismamometer — with U.S. President Ronald Reagan. As the article by Walter Russell Mead of the Hudson Institute stated, “[Macron] is approaching the job like a French Ronald Reagan. . . . Reagan presented himself as a heroic and transformational leader. This is what Mr. Macron has been doing.” (“Has France Found Its Ronald Reagan?” The Wall Street Journal, 06/06/17, A15.)
Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Recently someone sent us the link to an article by Steven Kates published in 2010 on “The Failure of Keynesian Economics.” As everyone who reads this blog knows — or should know — we’re not ones to let mere antiquity determine whether or not something is true; we don’t hold with those who worship the past any more than with those who reject it out of hand.
Monday, June 5, 2017
Last week we had a short series on “What is Socialism?” One of the people who commented on it when it was posted in a “distributist” forum tried to make the case that distributism and Catholic social teaching are pretty much the same thing (indicating an inadequate understanding of the difference between application and principle), and that both distributism and Catholic social teaching are socialist . . . in a non-Marxist way, of course . . . unless you’re into the “Theology of Liberation,” which raises other issues such as what you mean by theology and liberty.
Friday, June 2, 2017
There has not been much visible movement in the Just Third Way this week, although there has been a great deal of research and scholarship accomplished, particularly in the understanding of how basic concepts of truth and justice have been corrupted by special interests over the centuries. As for the news,
Thursday, June 1, 2017
Yesterday we looked at a correct understanding of private property: it is both a natural right that is absolute in the sense that every human being has the right to be an owner, and a set of manmade and socially determined rights and duties that define how an owner may use what he or she owns. Today we look at why socialism, defined as the abolition of private property in capital, is wrong, that is, contrary to nature.
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Yesterday we looked at the question of whether private property is a natural right, and what it means for something to be a natural right. After looking into the matter we discovered (okay, we knew all along, but we always learn a few new things each time we look at something from a different perspective) that 1) private property is a natural right, and 2) a natural right is something inherent in human nature and cannot be taken away.
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Every so often in an argument we define socialism, and almost as often we have people (with varying degrees of exasperation) inform us that we don’t know what we’re talking about, because they define socialism differently. That, of course, makes us wrong and them right.
Monday, May 29, 2017
Immediately after President Trump met with Pope Francis last week, we tried to find out what they talked about that was of direct interest to the Just Third Way. All of it was of interest, of course, just not directly . . . even, we suppose, the seemingly endless discussions about people’s attire . . . although at the moment we don’t see how. . . .
Friday, May 26, 2017
The news this week suggests that the Just Third Way is starting to make significant progress in outreach — which means that, to sustain the effort, it needs to make more progress. Obviously, when you’re standing still, you’re not moving forward. People in any movement need to remind themselves constantly that they can’t rest on what they’ve done in the past, but have to keep doing things now and in the future.
Thursday, May 25, 2017
We’ve been poking holes in the Keynesian paradigm that (we assume) dictated Rep. Tom Snozzi’s proposal to create jobs rebuilding infrastructure. We’ve looked at the history of prior economic downturns and what brought them to a successful end (production of marketable goods and services in which ordinary people participated as capital owners) or an unsuccessful end (manipulation of the currency, public works funded by increases in government debt, and a world war), as well as the flawed principles that underlie bad economic and monetary policy decisions.
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
In this brief series we’ve been looking at the contradictions in the Keynesian system that, regardless how plausible Keynes’s approach may sound and how hard Academia and the politicians push it, it is still a recipe for disaster. With all due respect to Rep. Tom Snozzi’s good intentions, what he proposes — creating jobs to rebuild infrastructure — is not only not the best thing to do, but is pretty much the worst.
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
As we saw yesterday, disconnecting production from consumption is a sure recipe for disaster . . . if you define “disaster” as an avalanche of non-productive debt. Spending your way out of trouble doesn’t work, even if it looks as if it does in the short run. In the long run, of course, somebody has to pay the bill, or the system collapses.
Monday, May 22, 2017
Last Thursday we took a look at Representative Tom Snozzi’s proposal to restore the American Dream by creating jobs. And how are jobs created? By hiring people to work on massive public works projects; as infrastructure repair and maintenance has been lagging in the United States for some time, there is a great deal that needs to be done.
Friday, May 19, 2017
Perhaps not surprisingly, there are a couple of interesting items on the international scene that relate to the Just Third Way. Otherwise, this has been a rather quiet week as we wind down from attending the ESOP Association conference last week, and prepare for next week’s monthly CESJ meeting.
Thursday, May 18, 2017
We’ll not keep you in suspense. The rather forced pun in the title of this blog comes from the fact that the article that suggested it, “When the Welders Came to Capitol Hill” (Wall Street Journal, A19) appeared on May 15, 2017, the one hundred and twenty sixth anniversary of the issuance of Rerum Novarum, Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical “On Labor and Capital.”
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Yesterday we reported that His Eminence Gerhard Cardinal Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, noted in his talk at St. Thomas More Cathedral in Arlington, Virginia, on Sunday, May 14, 2017, that restoring the Family, the basic unit of society, is a top priority.
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
This past Sunday, May 14, 2017, at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington, Virginia, we had the privilege of singing for the Mass celebrated by Gerhard Cardinal Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. His Eminence was in the United States as the main celebrant and homilist for the Baccalaureate Mass at Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia, on May 12. He was also the commencement speaker for this year’s ceremonies on May 13, where he received an honorary doctorate before delivering his address.
Monday, May 15, 2017
From 1934 to 1935 the Brookings Institution published a four-volume set, Distribution of Wealth and Income in Relation to Economic Progress, analyzing what needed to be done in a recovery program for the Great Depression. Unfortunately, FDR and his “Brain Trust” listened to John Maynard Keynes and went with the New Deal, rather than with something that made sense.