Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Zippy Catholic on Prosperity

I've had Zippy Catholic in my sidebar for as long as I've had a blogroll sidebar. He always makes me think, whether I think I agree with him or not.

Here's a post he wrote about a year ago on prosperity that is worth reading, if only to get one thinking. Perhaps the (cough) "money" quote is:
If we are not self consciously making choices that we know are reducing our material prosperity from what it could be, we are doing evil.
At least one of the comboxers seemed to disagree, appealing to Scripture:
the LORD promises material prosperity to those who follow His precepts.
Yes he does, but that's not exactly what Zippy was talking about. He was talking about maximizing prosperity. And the Law of God requires us to give to the poor - which does not maximize my prosperity.

Everyone trying to get as much as he possibly can does not make everyone better off. Anyway, it's an interesting post, and I commend it to you.

5 comments:

Martin said...

A Priest from the Ambo said, "Giving from your excess is not Charity. It's justice. Giving from your need is Charity". I've never forgotten.

Martin

Reginald de Piperno said...

It's a valuable lesson. Thank you for posting it here.

-- RdP

Interlocutor said...

Hi RdP,
This is completely off-topic but I'm not sure if you are notified when comments are made on other posts and had a quick question on an old post on toleration in light of Rome's failure to excommunicate/discipline certain people/groups - http://the-supplement.blogspot.com/2008/07/philosophy-of-st-thomas-limits-of.html.

"In other words: punishment is intended for the sake of justice. But if the punishment will make things worse, then it becomes imprudent to inflict it - even unjust to do so. Seen in this light, the toleration shown by the Vatican (or less authorities) towards the wayward may be understood as forbearance for the sake of avoiding schism."

This is interesting. Do you think this can get close to blurring the line of the means justifying the ends that Catholicism prohibits (i.e. sin/evil cannot be done to achieve good, no matter how great the good/benefit is or slight the sin/evil is)? More practically, do you think the failure of the hierarchy to excommunicate or publicly discipline prominent Catholic politicians who advocate abortion and other sinful behaviors (especially visible during election cycles) and who could lead others astray into sin with their comments (perhaps leading Catholics to think such views are acceptable since there is no disciplinary action being taken) is acceptable?

Are such consequences acceptable even if publicly disciplining them might be imprudent and cause greater harm (so one action's evil consequences (not disciplining them which confuses the faithful and could lead some into sin) is outweighed by another action's evil consequences (disciplining them which I guess could cause some type of harmful schismatic effect or something, not sure why it really would be imprudent)? So the ends do justify the means? Just seems a bit odd.

Reginald de Piperno said...

Interlocutor - Yes, I do get notifications, so don't worry about being missed if you comment on older posts.

Do you think this can get close to blurring the line of the means justifying the ends that Catholicism prohibits

I think that it's a matter of prudence and discretion, and one man's excessive toleration is another man's gracious patience with the wayward.

In the absence of explicit statements explaining the priest's or bishop's or Pope's words and actions, the charitable thing to do is to take them in the best light. In this case what that means is obvious.

More practically, do you think the failure of the hierarchy to excommunicate or publicly discipline prominent Catholic politicians who advocate abortion and other sinful behaviors (especially visible during election cycles) and who could lead others astray into sin with their comments (perhaps leading Catholics to think such views are acceptable since there is no disciplinary action being taken) is acceptable?

I've already answered this question in that post, as well as in the comments there. I'd only add here that the loaded word "failure" is yours, not mine, and I reject the characterization of things that it implies. It may be the case that they have "failed," but I don't think you or I have sufficient information to say.

So the ends do justify the means?

I don't know what motivates you to ask the question. It doesn't make sense in the present context as far as I can tell. The means must be proportionate to the end, and of course must not be evil. It seems that you have reached conclusions about their actions (taking into consideration your earlier use of the word "failure") that seem reckless unless you are privy to information that I am not.

Even if I were to grant your conclusions, the most that could be said is that bishops and popes are sinners. This is not news. It wouldn't change the fact that we may never do evil that good may come. It would be a grave tragedy if your conclusions about them are true - certainly. I'm not prepared to make such judgments and I do not think that they are necessary. YMMV.

-- RdP

Reginald de Piperno said...

Serendipitously the readings for today include Ezk. 33:7-9 and Mt. 18:15-20.

Our priest said that in dealing with sin on the part of our brothers, we must do so with discretion and charity, privately and quietly. I wholeheartedly agree with his instruction on this.

Peace,

RdP

Let's have any more comments on that old post attached over there, okay? Thanks.