10/05/2020

Fratelli Tutti Frutti

 Well Pope Francis has done it again.

Another "encyclical" letter.  Fratelli Tutti.  

I have only spent some few hours with it. Too many hours. But not enough time to make or want to make a scholarly review. Perhaps enough to be able to sum up my sense of the holy father's state of mind:  "America bad, socialism good, why can't we all just get along." The bottom line on his reading of the Parable of the Good Samaritan, in the second chapter of the encyclical, seems to be that borders (and especially border walls) are bad, and illegal immigrants are, like, totally cool. There you go. 

Paragraph 93 caught my eye because the holy father cites St. Thomas Aquinas. Below I have included the paragraph from the new encyclical, along with the footnotes, and I looked up the references from the Summa that appear in the pope's footnotes, so you don't have to. The text I added is in red.

Encyclical "Fratelli Tutti" 3 October 2020

93. Saint Thomas Aquinas sought to describe the love made possible by God’s grace as a movement outwards towards another, whereby we consider “the beloved as somehow united to ourselves”.[72] Our affection for others makes us freely desire to seek their good. All this originates in a sense of esteem, an appreciation of the value of the other. This is ultimately the idea behind the word “charity”: those who are loved are “dear” to me; “they are considered of great value”.[73] And “the love whereby someone becomes pleasing (grata) to another is the reason why the latter bestows something on him freely (gratis)”.[74] 

- - - 

[72] Summa Theologiae II-II, q. 27, a. 2, resp.     But the love, which is in the intellective appetite, also differs from goodwill, because it denotes a certain union of affections between the lover and the beloved, in as much as the lover deems the beloved as somewhat united to him, or belonging to him, and so tends towards him. On the other hand, goodwill is a simple act of the will, whereby we wish a person well, even without presupposing the aforesaid union of the affections with him. Accordingly, to love, considered as an act of charity, includes goodwill, but such dilection or love adds union of affections, wherefore the Philosopher says (Ethic. ix, 5) that "goodwill is a beginning of friendship."

[73] Cf. ibid., I-II, q. 26, a. 3, resp.     We find four words referring in a way, to the same thing: viz. love, dilection, charity and friendship. They differ, however, in this, that "friendship," according to the Philosopher (Ethic. viii, 5), "is like a habit," whereas "love" and "dilection" are expressed by way of act or passion; and "charity" can be taken either way. Moreover these three express act in different ways. For love has a wider signification than the others, since every dilection or charity is love, but not vice versa. Because dilection implies, in addition to love, a choice [electionem] made beforehand, as the very word denotes: and therefore dilection is not in the concupiscible power, but only in the will, and only in the rational nature. Charity denotes, in addition to love, a certain perfection of love, in so far as that which is loved is held to be of great price, as the word itself implies [Referring to the Latin "carus" (dear)]. 

[74] Ibid., q. 110, a. 1, resp.     According to the common manner of speech, grace is usually taken in three ways. First, for anyone's love, as we are accustomed to say that the soldier is in the good graces of the king, i.e. the king looks on him with favor. Secondly, it is taken for any gift freely bestowed, as we are accustomed to say: I do you this act of grace. Thirdly, it is taken for the recompense of a gift given "gratis," inasmuch as we are said to be "grateful" for benefits. Of these three the second depends on the first, since one bestows something on another "gratis" from the love wherewith he receives him into his good "graces." And from the second proceeds the third, since from benefits bestowed "gratis" arises "gratitude."

I have a question.  What do the Aquinas cites listed above really have to do with any of the sentences in the encyclical's paragraph 93?  The Aquinas quotations neither clarify what the pope is saying nor shore up his reasoning. And I use the word "reasoning" loosely. 

The last sentence of paragraph 93, with footnote 74, is particularly sticky, as it seems to me.  Here is the pope's citation: “the love whereby someone becomes pleasing (grata) to another is the reason why the latter bestows something on him freely (gratis)”  As quoted in the encyclical, this seems to say that the favors that A grants to B are the reason that B buys A a present; the emphasis is B's motivation for bestowing a gift upon A. St. Thomas says nothing of that kind. I say this for two reasons: firstly, St. Thomas  is talking about usage of the words and the reason a word is used in a certain way, not the reason (in the sense of motivation) for which a gift is given. Secondly, for St. Thomas grace is always an unmerited gift, a free bestowal without payment or entailment. Here is the New Advent Summa translation again: "one bestows something on another "gratis" from the love wherewith he receives him into his good "graces." This means, "We say a gift is given 'gratis' because it is given solely out of the love of the giver, wherewith the giver opens the receiver into the giver's good "graces." 

You may well say that I have strayed way out into the weedy details here, but I am trying to point out a kind of systemic obfuscation used in the pope's syrupy writings. (The writer may be slippery. The writing is what's sticky.) He's taking the name of St. Thomas Aquinas in vain! This should not stand. 

A superficial reading of Fratelli Tutti reveals its twisting of Christian teaching into an apologetic for socialist policy. "The right to private property can only be considered a secondary natural right, derived from the principle of the universal destination of created goods. This has concrete consequences that ought to be reflected in the workings of society."(paragraph 120)  I thought we had gotten past this, but here it is again.  Remember: "Religious socialism, Christian socialism, are contradictory terms; no one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true Socialist." (Pope Pius XI, Encyclical  Quadragesimo Anno, May 15, 1931. n. 120)  The pope might think that releasing this letter exactly one month before the American election will allow Joe Biden to be portrayed as a good Catholic, but I'm with Pope Pius XI on this one. 

9/28/2020

Two A.M. Brain 01

Me: [wakes up and smells nearby skunk]

Two A.M. Brain: There's a skunk. Right. Outside!

Me: [gets up and closes windows]

TAMB: That smells too rank to be outside.

Me: ...

TAMB: It's under the house! That's it! There's an angry rabid skunk under the house, emptying its glands right under my bedroom! 

Me: Uh, shut up?

TAMB: It's spraying and spraying and we're going to smell this for weeks! You have to go down and kill it!

Me: Shut up!

TAMB: Kill it! Kill it! Kill it! 

Me: Shut! The! Bleep! Up! 

TAMB: [noise like a puppy that just got accidentally stepped on]

Me: [awake for another hour]

9/25/2020

How do you STAB somebody with a meat cleaver?

"A terror probe is underway in Paris after two journalists were stabbed in broad daylight today near the former offices of Charlie Hebdo. A man and a woman were seriously wounded after being attacked with a meat cleaver while out for a cigarette break, . . ." [link - (emphasis added)]

Well. I told you smoking would be bad for your health.

9/24/2020

Ben Who?

 



Ben Cartwright

Ben Franklin

Big Ben

Ben and Jerry

Ben Hur

Ben Who?


9/10/2020

Gavin Newsom wastes not the crisis


Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as "bad luck."     -- Heinlein

Thoughout history, being at the mercy of unmerciful Nature is the normal condition of man. Advances -- flood control projects, air conditioning, weather forecasting, etc. -- which permit man's victimhood to be lessened now and then, are the work of a minority.  When this minority is kept from building dams, building nuclear electric generators, executing brush-clearing plans, installing underground utilities -- people slip more deeply into being victimized by Nature's whims.  This is known as "bad luck."  

And now it is known as "climate change." 

Newsom is adhering to his Alinsky-ite religion:  Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste.  

Anarchotyranny first creates the situation then exploits it.  Or when, say, a combination of bad policy and Nature creates the situation, all you have to do is exploit it!  Win-Win, on the cheap!  If the little people suffer, that's just bad luck. 


9/09/2020

2020 Smoke

The sunrise was over an hour ago. The combination of coastal fog and wildfire smoke makes the light a strange dark amber color.  The front yard garden looks like the illumination is from those sickly yellow street lights decades ago. 

My world is a bad Instagram filter.

At least it is cooler. The windows were open when I went to bed, and the air was fresh by Summer 2020 standards.  Some time before it woke me up enough to shut windows, the air changed to smoke and black grit blew in. Black grit on windowsills, black grit on the Ivory soap on the bathroom windowsill, black grit on the white porcelain sink.  

Good morning again, 2020. 

9/03/2020

Limits

"A good man always knows his limitations."
-- Inspector "Dirty" Harry Callahan, played by Clint Eastwood, in Magnum Force, 1973

There are two kinds of limits. 

The first is a line beyond which I will not pass.  This far and no farther.  A moral limit. 

The second kind is a conditional case, a line which you may not pass with impunity. In Dirty Harry (1971), Eastwood's character taunts the punk, "Do you feel lucky?" -- daring the punk to cross the line beyond which Harry will respond differently. 

"Play stupid games, win stupid prizes."
-- Ancient military lore

Because maybe George Zimmerman wasn't being particularly wise when he engaged in the kind of behavior that led to the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin. 

Or because you could argue that Kyle Rittenhouse maybe wasn't particularly prudent when he went down to the Antifa / BLM protest, armed or not. 

Or because maybe making yourself identifiable as the Other Side when walking in the enemy territory of Portland, Oregon is not the brightest thing for a Patriot Prayer participant to do these days. 

On the other hand, maybe Trayvon shouldn't have assaulted the guy with the gun.

Maybe trying to attack the kid in Kenosha and take his openly carried rifle is not the best plan. 

And maybe the assassination of somebody just because he's wearing the other team's hat is inexcusable anywhere, anytime. 

Where is the line?

Why shouldn't an American be free to express himself by his T-shirt or hat as being or joking about anything he pleases? And aren't normal people being pushed past their limit of endurance these days?

I don't know. We do have lines we won't cross. But an awful lot of Americans may have lines we don't want others to cross. 

Do you feel lucky?