Friday, November 29, 2013

A creed is only as persuasive the person professing it

A wonderful "old" song by Sting, "All This Time," is our Friday traditio for this last Friday of this year of grace. The release of Pope Francis' post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, earlier this week, plus the advent of the Friday dubbed "Black," is what prompted me to choose this song (well that and the fact I heard while working out on Wednesday, exercise, especially running is a great source of synthesizing thoughts for me).

The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose
This is nothing new. As evidence for proof of this assertion, I offer- Rerum novarum, Quadragesimo anno, Populorum progresso, Centesimus annus, a document that was badly distorted by several leading Catholic thinkers in the U.S. shortly after its promulgation, Caritas in veritate, which began as an update of Populorum progresso 40 years on (in the manner of Quadragesimo anno to Rerum novarum), but was delayed in order to weigh in on the 2008 global financial meltdown, and now Evangelii gaudium. There are not merely threads, but thick-gauge cables that pull these documents of the past 100+ years of papal social teaching together.

While it is true that Pope Francis' exhortation is not primarily about economics, but evangelization, it is also true that evangelization is not first and foremost about preaching, especially in our day and age. As the late Christopher Hitchens wrote in his final piece for The Atlantic, which was a review of Ian Ker's biography of G.K. Chesterton, "The Reactionary": "we are all fully familiar with the religious practitioner who can’t or doesn’t live up to the merits of his creed. There’s nothing innately paradoxical in that. Any solution, however, is a bit like the Golden Rule: the creed is only as morally strong as the person who happens to be uttering it."

Blessed are the poor, for they shall inherit the earth/
Better to be poor than a fat man in the eye of a needle/
And as these words were spoken I swore I hear/
The old man laughing/
'What good is a used up world and how could it be/
Worth having'

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