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Monday, November 29, 2010

Thomas and TEA

Is Catholicism incompatible with the TEA party ethic?  Many prominant churchmen and the usual CST drones say no. Frederick Copleston's A History of Philosophy,Volume Two says of Aquinas,

"If this principle, that the part is ordered to the whole, which represents St.Thomas's Aristotelianism, were pressed, it would seem that he subordinates the individual to the State to a remarkable degree;  but St. Thomas also insists that he who seeks the common good of the multitude seeks his own good as well, since one's own good cannot be attained unless the common good is attained, though it is true that in the corpus of the article in question he remarks that right reason judges that the common good is better than the good of the individual.  But the principle should not be overemphasized, since St. Thomas was a Christian theologian as well as an admirer of Aristotle, and he was well aware, as we have already seen, that man's final end is outside the sphere of the State:  man is not simply a member of the State, indeed the most important thing about him is his supernatural vocation.  There can, then, be no question of 'totalitarianism' in St. Thomas, though it is obvious that his Aristotelianism would make it imposssible for him to accept such a theory of the State as that of Herbert Spencer:  the State has a positive function and a moral function.  The human being is a person, with a value of his own;  he is not simply an 'individual'."

The first remark I would make is that Aristotelianism cuts both ways.  Maybe Aristotle wasn't Ayn Rand or Herbert Spencer, but he was certainly no collectivist either.  Read the Politics, and you will see somebody who thought that spending money on others was praiseworthy, but always saw private giving as a sign of moral worth, and certainly never would have endorsed a monolithic government of spoils and largesse.

The second remark I would make is that St. Thomas also would never have approved of tolerance for Protestant sects, much less the easy access to pornography that distinguishes modern America.  In other words, Thomas's dream of a government that helps us to Heaven is rather inconsistent with the American system.  If government is supposed to get us to heaven, how do public schools and housing projects do that, other than by seperating our bodies from our souls? 

The Fifth Column: Moral Pygmies

The Fifth Column: Moral Pygmies
Kellmeyer is right, once again. Contraception is always morally wrong because God is always the author of life, not us. The church is pandering to modern notions about sex only being procreative when man wishes for it to be procreative. It is crazy to expect Catholics to regard contraception as intrinsically immoral so long as professional theologians keep inventing exceptions to the immorality. It is the logic of the secular world that says that, well, you can commit sins, but prudence dictates that you make it safe for yourself to commit such sins. Isn't that the same logic as "safe, legal, and rare" abortion? If anything is safe to do, it isn't likely to be rare. What the Pope might have said is this: "Using condoms to prevent AIDS may be a good idea, but it is still a sin for the same reason that wearing a mask during the commission of a robbery doesn't change the nature of a robbery. And while wearing a mask isn't in itself immoral, contraception in and of itself is immoral."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

From Sinai's Height, Part Two

Catholic Nurse Catherine Cenzon De Carlo, whose horrendous account of being forced by her employer Mount Sinai Hospital to perform an abortion appeared in Q.E.D.'s sister blog Aristotelian Moments last December, had her lawsuit against her employer thrown out by a judge.  Apparently, the judge thinks that, although any other form of emotional trauma can make one extremely wealthy, being forced to commit murder by your employer against your will is something your employer bears no liability for.  Maybe DeCarlo should have just taken the wrong acne medication--that is far more serious than being forced to betray your faith.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Limits of "Fiscal Conservatism"

There is quite a debate going on in conservative circles right now over whether or not pro-lifers should stuff their principles right now.  The argument is that economic issues are more important.  Social issues are "divisive."  We need a "big tent." Where was all this talk about a big tent during the years when economic conservatives got free trade, and pro-lifers got nothing?  Where was the big tent when Bush cut taxes, and succeeded in doing nothing outside of appointing two pro-life supreme court justices?  I really love it when we social conservatives are fine when it comes to unseating Bela Pelosi, but now that we won, we get to sit back and let the Ayn Rand club rule the roost.  Really?  Don't think so.