Monday, April 16, 2012

"Come Ride the Steel Dinosaur:" or, not

Benedict XVI's "Caritas in Veritate" says that religious freedom is important. Real religious freedom: not the sort of 'free to agree with me' version of 'freedom' you'll run into now and then. I've been over this before. A lot:
  • Catholics must support religious freedom
    (Catechism, 2104-2109)
    • For everybody
      (Catechism, 2106)

The Inevitability of Progress, and other Silliness

I remember the last years of an era when many folks in the English-speaking world assumed that science and technology would end poverty, abolish disease, and solve all our problems.

More recently, it's been fashionable to feel that science and technology will kill us all. I remember seeing house-sized rafts of suds floating down the Mississippi, so I can sympathize with that view. A little.

In retrospect, 'the inevitability of progress' looks silly. But folks who remembered what the 'good old days' before the stethoscope, (safer) elevators, antibiotics, or the soda fountain, were perhaps understandably excited.

I think the "we're all gonna die" attitude is just as silly, partly because of what didn't happen to London in 1944. (July 9, 2011)

Somewhere around the middle of the 19th century, the notion that religion is against science popped up. (March 14, 2012) Maybe since serious thinkers of the day saw science as the path to all good things, the idea that religion is bad for people makes a little sense. Sort of.

When 'we're all gonna die' replaced 'the inevitability of progress,' the notion that 'religion is bad' got carried along with relatively little change.

I'm a practicing Catholic, so I don't share the 'religion is icky' attitude. I also think that science and technology can be very useful: or can be misused. And that's another topic.

Religion: a Pop Quiz

For which of the following is religion a motivating factor?
  1. The Ku Klux Klan
  2. Al Qaeda
  3. The Catholic Church
  4. All of the above
The correct answer is "D."

What happens when folks with different assumptions act on their beliefs depends on what they believe:

A cartoon threatening that the KKK would lynch carpetbaggers, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Independent Monitor, 1868.
(Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Independent Monitor, 1868, via Wikipedia, used w/o permission)
"A cartoon threatening that the KKK would lynch carpetbaggers, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Independent Monitor, 1868."

New York, NY, September 28, 2001 -- A view of the recovery operation underway from a roof adjacent to the World Trade Center. Photo by Andrea Booher/ FEMA News Photo
(Andrea Booher/ FEMA News Photo, via Wikipedia, used w/o permission)
"...A view of the recovery operation underway from a roof adjacent to the World Trade Center. Photo by Andrea Booher/ FEMA News Photo." (September 28, 2001)

(From "The Pope and Children" (January 6, 2003), used w/o permission)
Some Catholic, carrying out standing orders. (Matthew 25:31-46; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2447)

The KKK: More Than Race

In my youth, folks involved in various iterations of the Ku Klux Klan were better known for their attitude toward people whose ancestors came from Africa. The Klan's concerns covered a wider field, though:

From ''Klansmen: Guardians of Liberty'', 1926. Published by the Pillar of Fire Church in Zarephath, NJ. Copyright was not renewed.
(Pillar of Fire Church, via Wikipedia, used w/o permission)
"From ''Klansmen: Guardians of Liberty'', 1926. Published by the Pillar of Fire Church in Zarephath, NJ...."

In American culture, at least, religion often seems to be involved when folks go off the rails. (November 25, 2010) And that's yet another topic. Topics.

Domination, Wealth, and Killing in the Name of God

"There is another aspect of modern life that is very closely connected to development: the denial of the right to religious freedom. I am not referring simply to the struggles and conflicts that continue to be fought in the world for religious motives, even if at times the religious motive is merely a cover for other reasons, such as the desire for domination and wealth. Today, in fact, people frequently kill in the holy name of God, as both my predecessor John Paul II and I myself have often publicly acknowledged and lamented[68]...."
("Caritas in Veritate," 29)
Benedict XVI goes on to say that violence "puts the brakes on authentic development," among other things.
"...This applies especially to terrorism motivated by fundamentalism[69], which generates grief, destruction and death, obstructs dialogue between nations and diverts extensive resources from their peaceful and civil uses...."
("Caritas in Veritate," 29)
Religious fanatics can do a great deal of damage. But trying to stamp out or trivialize religion isn't a good idea either.

Humanity "is not a lost atom in a random universe." ("Caritas in Veritate," 29)
"...If man were merely the fruit of either chance or necessity, or if he had to lower his aspirations to the limited horizon of the world in which he lives, if all reality were merely history and culture, and man did not possess a nature destined to transcend itself in a supernatural life, then one could speak of growth, or evolution, but not development...."
("Caritas in Veritate," 29)

True Development: Guaranteed by God

"...God is the guarantor of man's true development, inasmuch as, having created him in his image, he also establishes the transcendent dignity of men and women and feeds their innate yearning to 'be more'...."
("Caritas in Veritate," 29)
"God is the guarantor of man's true development" and "feeds their innate yearning to 'be more' " doesn't sound much like the "self-satisfied ignorance" that religious people are supposed to wallow in. I've opined on this before:
Then there are folks who seem determined to prove that religion is a psychiatric condition. As I've said before, with friends like these, Christianity doesn't need enemies:

(Reuters photo, via, used w/o permission)

But, as I've also said before: in my considered opinion, those are not typical 'religious people.' I don't even think they're typical American Protestants.

"Moral and Spiritual Strength"

Here's why religion, the sane kind, is a good idea:
"...When the State promotes, teaches, or actually imposes forms of practical atheism, it deprives its citizens of the moral and spiritual strength that is indispensable for attaining integral human development and it impedes them from moving forward with renewed dynamism as they strive to offer a more generous human response to divine love[71]...."
("Caritas in Veritate," 29)
One of the 20th century's legacies is debris left from idealistic efforts to stamp out religion and set up a workers' paradise. I suspect that we'll be cleaning up the mess for generations. Full-bore Laissez faire capitalism didn't work out so well, a bit earlier, and I've been over that before. (March 13, 2010)

A society without religion can look good on paper. But I think we need the "moral and spiritual strength" that a coherent faith promotes.


"...economically developed or emerging countries export this reductive vision of the person and his destiny to poor countries. This is the damage that 'superdevelopment'[72] causes to authentic development when it is accompanied by 'moral underdevelopment'[73]."
("Caritas in Veritate," 29)
If "development" is good, wouldn't "superdevelopment" be better? That depends on how a person defines "better."

Here's how another pope described "superdevelopment," or "super-development:"
"...This super-development, which consists in an excessive availability of every kind of material goods for the benefit of certain social groups, easily makes people slaves of 'possession' and of immediate gratification, with no other horizon than the multiplication or continual replacement of the things already owned with others still better. This is the so-called civilization of 'consumption' or 'consumerism,' which involves so much 'throwing-away' and 'waste.' An object already owned but now superseded by something better is discarded, with no thought of its possible lasting value in itself, nor of some other human being who is poorer...."
("Sollicitudo rei socialis," 28) [emphasis mine]
I don't think wealth, abundance of material goods, is a problem by itself. Placing too high a priority on material goods? That can be a problem, a lethal one. (August 1, 2010)

"Super-development" doesn't seem to be all that new:
"I amassed for myself silver and gold, and the wealth of kings and provinces. I got for myself male and female singers and all human luxuries.

"I became great, and I stored up more than all others before me in Jerusalem; my wisdom, too, stayed with me.

"Nothing that my eyes desired did I deny them, nor did I deprive myself of any joy, but my heart rejoiced in the fruit of all my toil. This was my share for all my toil.

"But when I turned to all the works that my hands had wrought, and to the toil at which I had taken such pains, behold! all was vanity and a chase after wind, with nothing gained under the sun."
(Ecclesiastes 2:8-11)
About two dozen centuries later, Robert Hazard seems to have a similar reaction to 'riding the steel dinosaur:'


ROBERTHAZARDOFFICIAL, YouTube (April 23, 2011)
video, 5:29 (including VH 1 introduction)

I'm far from immune to avarice and the desire for immediate gratification.

My parents endured the great depression of the 1930s, though: so I'm uneasy about throwing out plastic bags instead of cleaning and reusing them. That's no great virtue on my part. It's just the way I was raised. And that's yet again another topic.

More posts about "Caritas in Veritate" (Charity in Truth)
"Caritas in Veritate"

Related posts, getting a grip about:

No comments:

Like it? Pin it, Plus it, - - -

Pinterest: My Stuff, and More


Unique, innovative candles

Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle Store

Popular Posts

Label Cloud

1277 abortion ADD ADHD-Inattentive Adoration Chapel Advent Afghanistan Africa America Amoris Laetitia angels animals annulment Annunciation anti-catholicism Antichrist apocalyptic ideas apparitions archaeology architecture Arianism art Asperger syndrome assumptions asteroid astronomy Australia authority balance and moderation baptism being Catholic beliefs bias Bible Bible and Catechism bioethics biology blogs brain Brazil business Canada capital punishment Caritas in Veritate Catechism Catholic Church Catholic counter-culture Catholicism change happens charisms charity Chile China Christianity Christmas citizenship climate change climatology cloning comets common good common sense Communion community compassion confirmation conscience conversion Corpus Christi cosmology creation credibility crime crucifix Crucifixion Cuba culture dance dark night of the soul death depression designer babies despair detachment devotion discipline disease diversity divination Divine Mercy divorce Docetism domestic church dualism duty Easter economics education elections emotions England entertainment environmental issues Epiphany Establishment Clause ethics ethnicity Eucharist eugenics Europe evangelizing evolution exobiology exoplanets exorcism extremophiles faith faith and works family Father's Day Faust Faustus fear of the Lord fiction Final Judgment First Amendment forgiveness Fortnight For Freedom free will freedom fun genetics genocide geoengineering geology getting a grip global Gnosticism God God's will good judgment government gratitude great commission guest post guilt Haiti Halloween happiness hate health Heaven Hell HHS hierarchy history holidays Holy Family Holy See Holy Spirit holy water home schooling hope humility humor hypocrisy idolatry image of God images Immaculate Conception immigrants in the news Incarnation Independence Day India information technology Internet Iraq Ireland Israel Italy Japan Jesus John Paul II joy just war justice Kansas Kenya Knights of Columbus knowledge Korea language Last Judgment last things law learning Lent Lenten Chaplet life issues love magi magic Magisterium Manichaeism marriage martyrs Mary Mass materialism media medicine meditation Memorial Day mercy meteor meteorology Mexico Minnesota miracles Missouri moderation modesty Monophysitism Mother Teresa of Calcutta Mother's Day movies music Muslims myth natural law neighbor Nestorianism New Year's Eve New Zealand news Nietzsche obedience Oceania organization original sin paleontology parish Parousia penance penitence Pentecost Philippines physical disability physics pilgrimage politics Pope Pope in Germany 2011 population growth positive law poverty prayer predestination presumption pride priests prophets prostitution Providence Purgatory purpose quantum entanglement quotes reason redemption reflections relics religion religious freedom repentance Resurrection robots Roman Missal Third Edition rosaries rules sacramentals Sacraments Saints salvation schools science secondary causes SETI sex shrines sin slavery social justice solar planets soul South Sudan space aliens space exploration Spain spirituality stem cell research stereotypes stewardship stories storm Sudan suicide Sunday obligation superstition symbols technology temptation terraforming the establishment the human condition tolerance Tradition traffic Transfiguration Transubstantiation travel Trinity trust truth uncertainty United Kingdom universal destination of goods vacation Vatican Vatican II veneration vengeance Veterans Day videos virtue vlog vocations voting war warp drive theory wealth weather wisdom within reason work worship writing

Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.