Seeker of Truth

Ruminations of One Suspended between Catholic Christianity and Scientific Utopianism

Location: Washington, United States

Thursday, June 01, 2006

A Catholic Planet, part 2

If we set out to take religion seriously and accept the truth of the Catholic/Orthodox belief, we must also allow for the possibility of a world that structures its institutions and customs along those tenets. Not a theocracy in the sense that the religious leaders have the temporal power, but that religious prescriptions do have reflection in temporal law: usury comes to mind, and charity, and chastity, of course.
Critics will quickly point accusing fingers at the example of the Middle Ages, citing all sorts of misconduct by Church officials, from pope down to parson all across the clerical fabric of European life. And then they will point at the Christian worldly rulers and their excesses, comparing them to the benign and loving humanistically oriented personae from our recent democratic past.
Two arguments against those nay-sayers come to mind immediately: One, that imperfection is a necessary correlate of the fallen state of mankind and its institutions. Neither Church nor King are exempt from that condition, where Evil constantly strives to undermine Good, corrupting and twisting the works of man. These flaws are blemishes on a fundamentally intact whole, though. Errors are eventually corrected, Good overcomes Evil in a never-ending struggle.
The second argument expands on the first one. While there were weak popes, and bad ones, and greedy rulers who called themselves Christian, there were also many worthy ones. If one looks at the balance of religious vs pagan society, it does not look so good for our age: Hitler, Stalin, Mao, the list goes on. So we are to only consider those atheists or materialists who are good, by whatever standards we measure it? Just how good? Is any politician, philosopher or other leader of men who professes sympathy with communism a good man? Many in our society would have no trouble reconciling the two, distinguishing - in my opinion artificially - between the ‘good’ theoretical communism, and some of its bad manifestations. Those are admitted reluctantly, while always emphasizing how much good they really brought, especially compared with some greater evil, like nazism, or the Czar’s rule. The same arguments of course were used by defenders of nazism, and probably of any other tyranny known to man.
Furthermore, why should materialists have the luxury to make such allowances, but Christians be prohibited from distinguishing the true doctrine from its degradation into sin? Is it not simply a matter of who has the current opinion authority, the louder voice in the debate? Communists and other totalitarian ilk have always been good at screaming their message out to anybody, whether it was welcome or not. Does this make them right?

So, if we accept the possibility of a Christian world order, what would its features be?
For one, it would not be capitalist in any way we currently understand the concept. I have mentioned usury, and charity already; there is also the question as to how much value we allot to labor. This is where we say good-bye to our protestant brethren, especially those of the calvinist persuasion, and wish them a happy soft landing in whatever circle of hell the heretics find themselves. For the tolerance and even encouragement of usury and zealous pursuit of worldly accomplishments are hallmarks of their creed, not of ours. Our economies would probably be dismally slow compared to the frantic pace King Mammon commands, on the other hand, a home might cost a fraction of what it does with money lending being sharply curtailed. As a result, the cost of most services would be much cheaper, while manufactured goods would likely be more expensive.
The environment ought to be cleaner, as we are stewards of the world God provided us, but environmentalism in its fanatical manifestations would not be respected. The same is true for all para-religious forms of worship, whether its nature, animals, beauty, sexual indulgence. Hedonism in all its forms might find its rightful place again in the realm of sin, rather than be elevated to the new meaning of life, as it is at present.
There would be absolute values, and an ongoing struggle to define them clearer, better, and to discriminate accurately between true and false, good and evil, sin and virtue. For that purpose alone, education would have to shift its emphasis from skill building to character formation again.
to be continued...


Post a Comment

<< Home