Thursday, February 4, 2010

Two Prayer Requests

Just when I thought I had a blogging/commenting plan/agenda in place, life intervened.

I have two relatively urgent prayer intentions over the next few days. If you pray, I would very much appreciate immediate prayer for these as soon as you read this, then again when you remember over the next several days. Please bring these intentions to the altar, whether as priest or lay person. Please ask the Blessed Virgin and the other Saints to intercede for me, my family, and these two intentions that I have.

Just when I thought I had a plan...

Monday, February 1, 2010

From Thomas Jefferson...

An Internet Chicago friend, Frank Avila, Jr., posts the following on Facebook:

"I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend."- Thomas Jefferson

Personally, despite all disagreement, I value friendship very highly.

A Modest Proposal...

And now, something to raise the hair on the back of the necks of readers who are "strict constructionist" when it comes to the Constitution, who believe in the possibility of interpreting same according to "original intent", and who, of course, think that God somehow ordained unrestrained free market capitalism:

"Making globalisation pay: Big corporations are using the banking crisis as an excuse for exploiting cheap labour. Is it time for a global minimum wage?"

"Just as the vast majority of developed economies from which most multinationals hail have minimum wage systems in place, it's time global corporations were made to apply similar practices in their overseas operations in poorer countries.

"In addition to an absolute rock bottom wage which they cannot go below, multinationals should be obliged to implement an indexed salary system in which workers in their overseas operations cannot earn less than, say, half of what a worker doing a similar job in their home territory earns.

"Complaints are bound to be heard about how this interferes with the efficient functioning of the free market. But I doubt CEOs and top managers would be so blase if it was their own jobs that were to be outsourced. I'm sure India and other developing countries are teeming with intelligent, capable entrepreneurs who could probably do a better job than many of our current crop of avaricious business leaders, and at a fraction of the cost.

"Besides, the free market already functions inefficiently – the rich domestic markets of multinationals are still quite well-protected fortresses. And, though we may have freer movement of goods and services than in the past, the movement of labour is severely restricted. In a truly free market, workers would go where the best-paying jobs are, rather than the jobs going to where the worst-paid workers are.

"More importantly, at its core, economics is about human wellbeing and if free-market orthodoxy fails to deliver on this, then something needs to be done to balance efficiency against ethics." (emphasis added)

On Romans 13 and Government: a post in which Fr. Ernesto tropes me

Fr. Ernesto Obregon is Cuban-American. A former "Jesus Freak" and former Anglican priest, he is now a priest of the OTHER Antiochian jurisdiction, the byzantine Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese, led by Metropolitan PHILIP. Fr. Ernesto is pastor of a parish in Florida. In the following, he speaks to comments I made on another post on his blog, in which I, on the basis of Romans 13, other scriptures, and the entire patristic tradition, defend the legitimacy of government as such, in that government is divinely-instituted.

"On Romans 13 and Government"

Obviously, Fr. Ernesto and I largely agree. I differ slightly with him on two points. On the first, I think it is possible and useful to think of the so-called "American Revolution" as a ("just") war for independence rather than as a revolution per se. Second, I do think it is possible, on the basis of Augustine's "just war" theory, to posit a theory of just revolution. From "the repository of all knowledge," Wikipedia, here are the criteria usually given for just war:
Just cause
The reason for going to war needs to be just and cannot therefore be solely for recapturing things taken or punishing people who have done wrong; innocent life must be in imminent danger and intervention must be to protect life. A contemporary view of just cause was expressed in 1993 when the US Catholic Conference said: "Force may be used only to correct a grave, public evil, i.e., aggression or massive violation of the basic human rights of whole populations."

Comparative justice
While there may be rights and wrongs on all sides of a conflict, to override the presumption against the use of force, the injustice suffered by one party must significantly outweigh that suffered by the other. Some theorists...omit this term, seeing it as fertile ground for exploitation by bellicose regimes.

Legitimate authority
Only duly constituted public authorities may wage war.

Right intention
Force may be used only in a truly just cause and solely for that purpose—correcting a suffered wrong is considered a right intention, while material gain or maintaining economies is not.

Probability of success
Arms may not be used in a futile cause or in a case where disproportionate measures are required to achieve success.

Last resort
Force may be used only after all peaceful and viable alternatives have been seriously tried and exhausted or are clearly not practical. It may be clear that the other side is using negotiations as a delaying tactic and will not make meaningful concessions.

The anticipated benefits of waging a war must be proportionate to its expected evils or harms.
One large theoretical problem immediately pops out of the above: the matter of legitimate authority. Anyone seeking to justify a violent revolution on Christian grounds would immediately have to deal with this question. As to the rest of the criteria, it is also immediately clear that one could not, at least from a Christian perspective, justify the incitement of violent revolution in the United States at this time. As Fr. Ernesto rightly points out, revolution is a dangerous and unpredictable way of attempting to secure one's political aims.

For all that, as I said, Fr. Ernesto and I largely agree. I do wish to underscore one area of agreement here. Fr. Ernesto writes, "the Anabaptists remind us that verbal violence is just as bad as physical violence. This is why Our Lord said that to even call our brother a fool was tantamount to murder." There is also the matter, as highlighted by Fr. Ernesto, of accurately representing our opponents' positions on issues; Christians must not bear false witness.