Anti-Government Ideology and Hypocrisy Undermines the Common Good

EJ Dionne writes:

Our core problem is a dogmatic antigovernment attitude…that arose in the 1970s and ’80s. This makes it impossible for us to have a constructive debate about what government is for, what tasks it should take on and what good it actually does.

In truth, the whole antigovernment thing is fundamentally fraudulent. So is the conservative claim to believe passionately in states’ rights and local authority.

In practice, conservatives regularly vote for lots of government — so long as it serves the interests they represent. Start with farm subsidies, massive defense spending, regulations that disempower unions and measures that sharply tilt the tax code in favor of corporate interests and the wealthy.

As for the power of states and localities, conservatives regularly propose federal action to override state governments that issue safety and environmental regulations that business regards as too robust. Somehow, they think we need national “consistency” on these matters but not on, say, voting rights. And right-wing state legislatures regularly preempt laws passed by more liberal local governments…

The shutdown reminds us that government is not the problem but the solution, or at least part of it, when it comes to many aspects of our common life.

We can see the damage done to the air transportation system, bureaus that gather useful economic statistics, the Internal Revenue Service, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Add in the Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, the Forest Service and the Weather Service. And this is a very partial list…

Dick Armey, the Republican House majority leader during the Clinton-era shutdown, was as candid as anyone in revealing the hidden radicalism that serves as a straitjacket on our politics.

“Beneath our New Deals and New Frontiers and Great Societies,” Armey wrote in a book published in 1995, “you will find, with only a difference in power and nerve, the same sort of person who gave the world its Five Year Plans and Great Leaps Forward — the Soviet and Chinese counterparts.”

Sorry, but no. FDR, JFK and LBJ were not Stalin or Mao, nowhere close. Only by examining the anti-government view in its unabashed form can we understand why our two parties can’t be seen as equivalent and why rational negotiations are so difficult.


Social Media Friendships Might Be More Special Than We Realize

At Grotto Network, Millennial editor Robert Christian writes:

When distorted by hyper-individualism, being authentic can become associated with things that are superficial and ephemeral, behavior and preferences that are unrelated to who a person is at their core — their deepest values and the unique position that each occupies in the world of persons. A distorted sense of authenticity might inspire one to create a distinct social media identity that is closely linked to a particular lifestyle, mood, or look that the person values, but that only reflects a fraction of the person’s everyday life. Genuine authenticity is more likely to impede the construction of this separate identity and narrow picture of reality.

My friend’s feed was not filled with staged shots, skinny arm, and an endless parade of good news. It looked like real life. There were countless cute photos of her darling daughter, but these included ones where her daughter was sick or causing trouble, like little explorers so often do, or disrupting her work. She was very active on social media and her feed was fun, but we got to see a mom who got tired or had a new mess to clean up or could laugh at a slightly awkward moment. I saw a real person, a real family, and it created a sense of connection.

Bonds of solidarity often grow through shared experiences — and the joys, struggles, and sheer hilarity that often accompany parenthood are well-suited for creating such bonds. But in an increasingly atomized society, where intermediary institutions are crumbling and countless forces are fostering a (sometimes involuntary) lived individualism, strong bonds of friendships and solidarity are more difficult to realize and sustain…

as we consider the limits (and disastrous ills) of social media, we should not ignore the ways it can enrich our lives if used wisely…

Sometimes that means having the opportunity to follow the lives of our loved ones across the country more closely and to share more in their everyday experiences. But it can also mean developing a greater sense of connection and solidarity to more casual friends — the depths of which may not be known until an acute moment of joy or sorrow reveals how much we care.



Cardinal Joe: Trump’s Immoral Wall Threatens Lives, Is Based on Lies and Anti-Immigrant Agenda

Cardinal Joseph Tobin writes:

A wall would probably drive them into more remote areas of the desert or mountains, possibly to their deaths, as the forces driving them — violence, persecution and extreme poverty — are more life threatening than a risky border crossing. In fact, close to 8,000 migrants have died in Arizona and parts of Texas since the construction of the San Diego and El Paso sectors of the wall in the mid-1990s.

The latest arrivals at our border are primarily asylum seekers from the Northern Triangle of Central America, who, when they cross the border and ask for protection, are in compliance with both our domestic and our international laws — the Refugee Act of 1980 and the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention and its 1967 protocols.

A wall would prevent asylum seekers from asking for protection at any point along our border — their right under the law — and would leave many of them at the mercy of drug cartels and other criminal groups in northern Mexico. More humane ways to achieve border security can be found to avoid these harmful consequences, through technology, additional legal avenues for entry and policies that address the factors pushing migration….

Other policies his administration has pursued, including family separation, the rollback of asylum laws, family detention, the elimination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and termination of Temporary Protected Status for most of its beneficiaries, show that the administration’s intent is to rid the United States of as many immigrants — legal or otherwise — as possible….

His justification for the wall is based upon lies and smears against the vast majority of immigrants who are law-abiding and moral, but whom he paints as less than human.


The Imagisterium vs. the Actual Magisterium

At Where Peter Is, Mike Lewis writes:

The Magisterium is the teaching office of the Church. According the the Catechism (#100), “The task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the bishops in communion with him.” In other words, orthodox teaching is to be found in the official teachings of the pope and the bishops in communion with him.

I understand that many Catholics have trouble with particular teachings, have questions about specific papal decisions, and hope for certain doctrines to change. Some Catholics might even outright reject one or more official Catholic teaching. In most of these cases, the person might express their disagreement by saying, “I wish the Church would change that teaching,” or “I don’t agree with the Church on that.” Many left-of-center Catholics are open and honest about where they dissent. There is a clear sense that “the Church teaches X, but I believe Y.”

In such cases, vigorous dialogue and discussion can take place, but there is clarity about the Church’s official position on the issues. Someone might say, “I think same sex marriage should be sanctioned by the Church,” or “I think artificial contraception is morally acceptable,” but one rarely hears, “the Church teaches that same sex marriage is morally acceptable,” or “the Church’s position on contraception is that it’s absolutely licit.” People might have different positions on these issues, but there is little debate on where the Church stands.

On the right, dissent is often a much more muddled situation. One can point to an official teaching or practice of the Church that they clearly reject, but they will insist that the “new” teaching is wrong, and that what they hold is the true Catholic doctrine. They proudly insist upon their doctrinal orthodoxy, while boldly asserting that official teachings from Church are not orthodox.

Many of these Catholics seem to believe that there is an objective standard against which the teachings of the papal Magisterium and the official Church must be weighed. Whether it’s questioning the doctrinal soundness of parts of Amoris Laetitia or the orthodoxy of the change to the Catechism’s official teaching on the death penalty, they seem to think they have an obligation to review and (if necessary) critique official Church teachings against this standard.

Rather than listening to the Magisterium and simply assenting to the teachings in the way that the Church instructs us, many Catholics instead adhere to a different authoritative body of teaching, which I’ll call the “imagisterium.”…

Catholics who adhere to the imagisterium claim they are weighing novel teachings from the Vatican against Church Tradition or the “perennial magisterium,” or that they are attempting to reconcile the official teaching with “doctrinal orthodoxy.” Among the adherents to the imagisterial approach are journalists, canon lawyers, prominent theologians, priests, bishops, and at least one cardinal. The problem with this is that it has absolutely no basis in what the Church teaches about the Magisterium, and threatens to divide the Church….

The imaginisterium is not new. I wrote a piece months ago about the dialogue in the 1970s between St. Paul VI and Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, leader of the SSPX movement. The issue is fundamentally identical to today’s, but the players and the specific issues have changed….

Catholicism is a received faith, passed down through the centuries by an unbroken line of successors to the apostles. We don’t see the Magisterium as a static collection of doctrines, but we understand and accept that the teachings given to us today come from the same source of authority as those promulgated decades or millennia ago. Don’t fall for the lie that says, “Listen to me, not Pope Francis.” The imagisterium is a fantasy.

Where Peter is, there is the Church.


Pope: Use Internet, Social Media to Foster Communion Not to Spread Hatred and Lies

Here are some highlights from the Message of the Holy Father Francis for the 53rd World Day of Social Communications:

Ever since the internet first became available, the Church has always sought to promote its use in the service of the encounter between persons, and of solidarity among all…

If the Internet represents an extraordinary possibility of access to knowledge, it is also true that it has proven to be one of the areas most exposed to disinformation and to the conscious and targeted distortion of facts and interpersonal relationships, which are often used to discredit.

We need to recognize how social networks, on the one hand, help us to better connect, rediscover, and assist one another, but on the other, lend themselves to the manipulation of personal data, aimed at obtaining political or economic advantages, without due respect for the person and his or her rights. Statistics show that among young people one in four is involved in episodes of cyberbullying

Moreover, in the social web identity is too often based on opposition to the other, the person outside the group: we define ourselves starting with what divides us rather than with what unites us, giving rise to suspicion and to the venting of every kind of prejudice (ethnic, sexual, religious and other). This tendency encourages groups that exclude diversity, that even in the digital environment nourish unbridled individualism which sometimes ends up fomenting spirals of hatred. In this way, what ought to be a window on the world becomes a showcase for exhibiting personal narcissism…

While governments seek legal ways to regulate the web and to protect the original vision of a free, open and secure network, we all have the possibility and the responsibility to promote its positive use…

How, then, can we find our true communitarian identity, aware of the responsibility we have towards one another in the online network as well?…

God is not Solitude, but Communion; he is Love, and therefore communication, because love always communicates; indeed, it communicates itself in order to encounter the other…

By virtue of our being created in the image and likeness of God who is communion and communication-of-Self, we carry forever in our hearts the longing for living in communion, for belonging to a community…

The present context calls on all of us to invest in relationships, and to affirm the interpersonal nature of our humanity, including in and through the network. All the more so, we Christians are called to manifest that communion which marks our identity as believers. Faith itself, in fact, is a relationship, an encounter; and under the impetus of God’s love, we can communicate, welcome and understand the gift of the other and respond to it.

Communion in the image of the Trinity is precisely what distinguishes the person from the individual…. . I am truly human, truly personal, only if I relate to others…

Our life becomes more human insofar as its nature becomes less individual and more personal; we see this authentic path of becoming more human in one who moves from being an individual who perceives the other as a rival, to a person who recognizes others as travelling companions….

If the Net becomes an opportunity to share stories and experiences of beauty or suffering that are physically distant from us, in order to pray together and together seek out the good to rediscover what unites us, then it is a resource.

We can, in this way, move from diagnosis to treatment: opening the way for dialogue, for encounter, for “smiles” and expressions of tenderness… This is the network we want, a network created not to entrap, but to liberate, to protect a communion of people who are free. The Church herself is a network woven together by Eucharistic communion, where unity is based not on “likes”, but on the truth, on the “Amen”, by which each one clings to the Body of Christ, and welcomes others.


US Bishops Praise New Climate Change Bill

via USCCB:

After the introduction of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019 (EICDA) yesterday, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, welcomed the legislation as an important step forward in addressing climate change.

“This bipartisan bill is a hopeful sign that more and more, climate change is beginning to be seen as a crucial moral issue; one that concerns all people. If enacted, this proposal is expected to result in significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. At a time when the dangerous effects of climate change are becoming increasingly apparent, the need for legislative solutions like this is more urgent than ever….

Additional in-depth and independent analysis is still needed to fully understand the potential impacts on poor and vulnerable persons, families and their communities. Supplemental support for these households may be needed to further alleviate potential financial burdens. Climate change can only ever be adequately addressed if it is done with an eye towards ‘the least of these.’”