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. 


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]


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.


Ben Who?


Ben Cartwright

Ben Franklin

Big Ben

Ben and Jerry

Ben Hur

Ben Who?


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. 


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. 



"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? 


Growth is slow

Take the idea of Arbor Day as an example.  For over a hundred years communities have planted trees for future benefits.  In a decade or so the labor of planting a tree yields tangible shade at least.  All over America, but especially in the Midwest, there are vastly more trees now than there were in the late 1800s.  Little by little and year after year the labor is invested and the benefits accrue. The number of forest trees stabilized and has been increasing over the last 100 years. But uncounted millions of trees have been added in the form of woodlots, windbreaks, and suburban plantings -- these don't seem to be as documented as timber forests.

Doing something because it is the right thing to do and because it will produce future benefits is an act of mature and reasonable people. Deferred gratification and all that.

I take it as a sign of hope in our presently destruction-oriented world that the First Lady of the United States has announced an initiative to improve the White House Rose Garden. Good for Melania. Good for America.
“The very act of planting a garden involves hard work and hope in the possibility of a bright future,” said Mrs. Trump, who adds the garden project to a list of other White House renovations, including refurbishing the Red and Blue Rooms and building a tennis pavilion on the South Lawn.
“Preserving the history and beauty of the White House and its grounds is a testament to our nation’s commitment to the care of this landscape and our dedication to American ideals, safeguarding them for our children and their children for generations to come,” she said. [KLOVE, Press Release, Additional link to Official Rose Garden Report]


Second Amendment is inherently anti slavery

So believed abolitionist Lysander Spooner. 

This right "to keep and bear arms," implies the right to use them–as much as a provision securing to the people the right to buy and keep food, would imply their right also to eat it. But this implied right to use arms, is only a right to use them in a manner consistent with natural rights–as, for example, in defense of life, liberty, chastity, &c. . . . If the courts could go beyond the innocent and necessary meaning of the words, and imply or infer from them an authority for anything contrary to natural right, they could imply a constitutional authority in the people to use arms, not merely for the just and innocent purposes of defense, but also . . . robbery, or any other acts of wrong to which arms are capable of being applied. The mere verbal implication would as much authorize the people to use arms for unjust, as for just, purposes. But the legal implication gives only an authority for their innocent use. (Lysander Spooner, Unconstitutionality of Slavery, p. 66 ).


The right of a man "to keep and bear arms," is a right palpably inconsistent with the idea of his being a slave. (ibid, p. 97)


Oh yeah. That'll help.

Vandalize the statue of the man who freed the slaves.


The past week or more in one gif

Except in Groundhog Day life keeps making progress and getting a bit better until he gets it right.

Right now it keeps on being same-bleep-different-day -- or worse.


Community response to wrongful death of George Floyd

"Maplewood Police Chief Scott Nadeau said that 'we have had some minor grab-and-run thefts by groups and several attempts to loot stores like Burlington Coat Factory and Best Buy. ... I think that its safe to say that the looting or attempted looting is related' to Floyd’s death."  [Star Tribune]

Safe to say it's related.  Because apparently nothing says "working out my grief" better than stealing electronics from Best Buy.


Of all men Socrates is wisest

The Pythian oracle at Delphi, back in the 5th century B.C., may have let slip that she had an admiration for Socrates, based on that philosophical young man's admission that he deemed himself the most ignorant of mortals. She may or may not have said in Delphic fashion that young Socrates was the wisest man then living -- probably deemed so because he said he knew that he did not know, you know.

What I think I know often turns out to be error.  "Know yourself" was a Delphic maxim. "Don't fool yourself."  But self is so easy to fool.  It's almost like self wants to be fooled.  And Science is hard. There will be Math on the test, as they say.  History is full of past scientific pronouncements that are now considered foolish.  For example, there was a time when everybody "knew" that purging and bloodletting was the cure for most ailments.  Science and scientists have been wrong for so long, edging and sidling toward truth as they do so slowly, that it is a wonder we the peasantry give any time or consideration to men of science.  See "self is so easy to fool" as noted above.

For even when selflessly sleuthing along the science trail with best intentions (that is, nothing other than truth) the researcher can end up wildly wrong.  But when a less-than-altruistic scientist learns to like the spotlight, and perhaps finds he likes to be the expert in an "experts say" headline (Socrates would say, he turns from philosophy to sophistry), the results can turn from erroneous to evil.  For example there was that thing about a Master Race in the last century.  (Oh, all right, go ahead and ring the Godwin bell.)

Does best science, informing upright Solons, lead to wise public policy?  Or do we mostly have sophists tickling the ears of other sophists?  Or worse?


The planning will be planned according to plan

We have a 4 phase plan to reopen the state. The plan will be a phased plan that we will plan to utilize in phases. The phases will be planned and the planning will be phased. We will move quickly and slowly to open but remain closed. I have created a staff of staffers who will plan the phase and planning while phasing their phases. And that is our re-opening plan.
I do not know the origin of that quote. (I came across it here.) But it seems a lot like what I have been hearing lately. 

Then there was this from California Governor Gavin Newsom.  Quarantine camps and lockdowns until there is a vaccine? And, I assume, until everybody in the state has been vaccinated?  And then re-tested to make sure the vaccine worked? 


2021, Anybody?

I guess what scares me most about the flu shutdowns is not the flu, but the probability that this is going to happen again and again.

I'll feel better after I've had more coffee.


So now Joe Biden is channeling ... the Pope?

I ran into a PJ Media article about what Democrat candidate for president Biden has been saying:
"In two virtual fundraisers this week, presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden called the coronavirus pandemic a 'wake up call' on climate change and said he was 'excited' about the crisis because it presents 'opportunities' for 'institutional changes'."
Pope Francis has been emphatically calling the pandemic and other catastrophes a wake up call.

Religiondigital on 22 March 2020 quoted the pontiff saying "Fires, earthquakes -- nature is kicking us to take care of nature." [Thanks, Google Translate!]

A Breitbart.com article 9 April 2020 stated, "Pope Francis said he believes the Chinese coronavirus pandemic is “certainly nature’s response” to humanity’s failure to address the “partial catastrophes” wrought by human-induced climate change."

The Breitbart article pointed to and paraphrased a Vatican news article that had a longer form of a statement by Pope Francis but only in Spanish:
"Every crisis is a danger, but also an opportunity. And it is the opportunity to get out of danger. Today I believe that we have to slow down a certain rhythm of consumption and production (Laudato si, 191) and learn to understand and contemplate nature." [Thanks Google Translate!]
That's some real authentic Saul Alinsky / Rahm Emanuel anarcho-socialism, there!

Isn't it strange that Biden is echoing the pope like this? What's going on here? Is it fanboying, synchronicity, or is it just plain old lazy plagiarism?


Two steps forward, one step back?

Harvard University stated via Twitter that they would be hosting a pro-homeschooling virtual conference in response to pushback from homeschoolers following their promotion of the ideas and conference of Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Bartholet.

Corey A. DeAngelis Tweeted 24 April 2020 "Harvard's Kennedy School is officially hosting an event to counter the Law School's conference attacking homeschooling. Title: 'The Disinformation Campaign Against Homeschooling' I'm speaking at the event May 1st."


DeAngelis is an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute and is "director of school choice" at the Reason Foundation.  He is also executive director of the Educational Freedom Institute.  

DeAngelis and ChoiceMedia colleague Bob Bowdon have produced a video (too long/didn't watch) which he says they "... discuss how the coronavirus pandemic is impacting all areas of education. We examine and challenge Harvard Magazine’s “Risks of Homeschooling” feature, which is full of anti-homeschooling propaganda, and discuss Harvard Law School’s upcoming anti-homeschooling conference. We also discuss the views of conference organizers, including law professor Jim Dwyer, who claims “the reason parent-child relationships exist is because the State confers legal parenthood,” and Harvard’s Elizabeth Bartholet, who calls for “a presumptive ban” on homeschooling."

DeAngelis' virtual conference seems more like evidence of faculty disagreement (some academic freedom still exists at Harvard?) than any effort by Harvard as an institution to create or maintain advocacy balance.