A year and a half ago, New Liturgical Movement did a small feature on the Schola Sancta Caecilia, a choir of young women who regularly sing at the Tridentine Mass at Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Their first recording, Stella Splendens, received a great deal of praise. I am confident their new album, In Bethlehem, will receive even more.
From the looks of it, the CD has not had its full launch through the usual channels, but I thought I should make all of you aware of it now so you can let the possibility of purchasing it percolate in your brains for a bit. All of the proceeds from the album will go to support Sacred Heart’s outstanding music program.
I will post more details on the disc when they become available. In the meantime, if you don’t yet own Stella Splendens, you can purchase and/or download it here. The album is also available on iTunes.
As I was sorting through some old boxes of books I came across my copy of Wilhelm Ropke’s Economics of the Free Society. In flipping through the pages I was surprised to discover a great deal of underlining and some marginal notes that I must have made several years ago when I was still enraptured by libertarianism lite. This paragraph, which I had bracketed, jumped out at me (pg. 210):
As a last resort, there is available the extra-economic correction of the distribution of income. This consists in the state awaiting the results of the economic distribution of income as they are crystallized in the market processes, and then correcting these results by taxing the rich and spending for the poor. As a matter of fact, a considerable portion of the public finances is devoted to such rectification, supplemented by the efforts of private welfare groups. Obviously, there are certain limits here which may not be overstepped if paralyzing effects on the process of production are to be avoided. It is, of course, clear that the state can go much further in employing such corrective measures the smaller are its expenditures for other purposes.
To follow-up on the link I posted to Professor Brian McCall’s 2013 talk on usury, let me direct your eyes to Professor Stephen Bainbridge’s recent web-log post, “Catholic Social Thought and the Law: Usury.” Though not as comprehensive as one might hope (it’s only a blog post), Bainbridge’s comments, along with those of his students, shed some needful light on the tensions between the modern financial system and Catholic Social Thought (CST). Bainbridge does not engage with McCall’s work at all, and his assessment of the Church’s teaching on usury is limited to two encyclicals — one by Benedict XIV and one by Benedict XVI.
Regardless, Professor Bainbridge reveals that he has at least one very sharp student. Consider the following:
Given that reality, as one of my students asked, “What can be gained by continuing to talk about usury and how it should influence individual moral decisions, even when it will only have a marginal influence on the broader society?” His answer was that “it may lead individuals as Christians to approach their business affairs with more a grain of salt, shattering what is all too often a complacency with which Christians engage in the affairs of the world and the assumptions the demands of justice do not conflict with our behaviors as workers, business people, and consumers in a capitalist economy.” He also noted that “A return to a traditional understanding on usury might provide an impetus to restore Catholic charitable civic institutions, which can provide a more Christian alternative to the corrupt institutions of a secular society.” Indeed.
I think there is a larger question to ask here as well, which is, “Does CST condemn our contemporary financial system?” And if CST does condemn it, what should be put in its place? Keep in mind that reforming the present system does not mean the end of investment. The Church has never condemned productive loans where repayment is linked to the use of the loaned capital.
Rorate Caeli has posted an excerpt of a recent interview with Pope Francis where he, inter alia, condemns not just terrorism, but “State terrorism,” which apparently occurs when “each State on its own feels it has the right to massacre terrorists[.]” Even so, the Pope concedes that “[t]errorists must be fought,” albeit only with “international consensus.”
I have made critical mention of Dylan Pahman’s writings on this web-log before, not because I have any personal beef with the Acton Institute’s young Research Associate, but because he happens to come down on what I judge to be the wrong side of a number of issues pertaining to religion and economics. His latest piece for Public Discourse, “Connecting Religious and Economic Liberty,” concludes that “[n]ew data suggest that countries that value and protect religious liberty offer fertile soil for economic liberty to flourish.” In the article, Pahman draws out this “suggestion” by comparing data from the Heritage Foundation’s 2014 Index of Economic Freedom and two appendices from the Pew Research Center’s recent report, Religious Hostilities Reach Six-Year High. While Pahman pays passing notice to the limits of such reports’ rating systems, he is confident that “[t]hey reliably reflect the concrete realities in the countries they rate.” He never explains why, however. Perhaps that’s a minor quibble. Ultimately, this is what Pahman concludes from his examination of the reports’ ratings:
First Things editor R.R. Reno has called for Catholic priests to sign the so-called “Marriage Pledge” and “get out of the [civil] marriage business.” Joseph, a contributor at The Josias, has some poignant thoughts on the matter. I have my own thoughts, which can be found in a brief reply to Joseph here. Since comments are not allowed over at The Josias, feel free to disagree with me vehemently over here.
Professor Brian McCall, author of The Church and the Usurers: Unprofitable Lending for the Modern Economy, offered a summary of his findings at last year’s Fatima Conference. Sadly, I have not yet read McCall’s book, but that will change now that I have had the chance to digest this excellent lecture. Once again, the Church’s perennial wisdom shines brighter than the “truths” of an ostensibly objective “economic science” and the culture of impoverishment and debt it upholds as necessary elements of the modern financial ordo.
Alright, you know the drill.
Daniel Saudek, making his debut over at Ethika Politika (EP), has a piece worth reading: “Faith, Reason, and the Two Camps.” Of course, not every piece worth reading is worth agreeing with on all points. While Saudek does a commendable job surveying the tensions that exist between Catholic Social Teaching (CST) and contemporary political conservatism (“free-market conservatism”), be brings in concepts and documents which aren’t particularly helpful. For instance, when discussing a living wage, Saudek points to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a shopworn charter that is more hortatory than substantive. Most countries around the world ignore part or all of it. It seems to me that if one is going to talk about a living wage (or, rather, a just wage), then the place to begin is the Church’s social magisterium, starting with Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum and Pius XI’s Quadragesimo Anno.
Because it is snowing still in West Michigan and the icy streets have me trapped inside for the second day in a row I am going to break from the typically “detached” nature of this web-log for a bit. The good news is that this will provide a break for those of you who are tired of what seems like an endless series of posts on the Christian East. The bad news is that I am still neglecting the other topics that seem to draw the most readers here, namely Catholic Social Teaching (CST), traditional Catholicism, and liturgy. What can I say? Sometimes I bore even myself with the subjects that matter to me most.