Thursday, April 30, 2009

Four questions that demand answers

This came from an argument for same sex marriage found here.

In it he brings up four very good questions that many Protestants don't understand about Catholic human sexuality. After I answer his four questions, I'm going to throw in a fifth that most people don't understand, and then I'll wrap up with a why at the end.

1. Why should sex by an infertile couple be considered "open to procreation" when sex with a spermicide isn't?

This is the Abraham and Sarah answer- Sarah was considered infertile when she has Isaac, the start of the whole Judaeo-Christian world. Sex by an infertile couple is considered open to procreation because miracles of this form have been known to happen throughout human history. I'd point out though that while medical science now can duplicate this miracle- it's still only RCC-approved if GOD does it, not MAN.

2. Is Natural Family Planning considered acceptable only because it is less reliable?

No, and in fact, modern NFP is more reliable not less than many competing forms of birth control. Rather, the ideal form of human sexuality for the Roman Catholic Church is to follow St. Paul- and not do it at all (several times in his letters Paul recommends celebacy over marriage, only reluctantly allowing it to "prevent worse sin" and when it becomes clear that Christ's return isn't going to be tomorrow). NFP shows solidarity with celebacy because it is based on abstinence (more on this in question 5 below).

3. (If condoms were less reliable, would they be acceptable?)

Nope, because the problem with condoms isn't their reliability, but rather man's attempt to thwart the will of God in procreation. Remember, the ONLY reason Catholics are allowed sex at all is for procreative purposes, and while this does include the unitive aspect of sex (keeping the parents together in marriage at least long enough to raise the kids), it doesn't include specifically denying God's will.

4. Is there really anything "open to procreation" about a couple who know they are infertile because of physical deformities, age, medical conditions, previous surgery, or any other reason?

Back to Abraham and Sarah, and the answer is YES. Except in certain "previous surgery" cases that is, where the purpose of the surgery was infertility (for the same reason cosmetic or any other elective surgery is also considered ethically questionable by the church).

and then a question brought up here:
5. If homosexuality is bad because it's not open to procreation, why isn't celebacy?

I think I've skipped a logical point here that caused this question to be asked, and that's my fault. Holiness in the Roman Catholic Church is all about denial of self, and submission to God's will- I think that's why some in the 1960s and 1970s explored Zen Buddhism as well. The Church's teaching on human sexuality includes two levels of holiness, and two levels of sin:
1. Celebacy. The ultimate denial of one's sexual orientation, by simply not having any. Denial of self for the will of God.
2. Marriage & NFP. Denial of oneself for the continuation of the species, which is ordained by God in the Book of Genesis.
3. Monogamous but outside of Marriage or Using Birth Control, or these modern extended families built out of serial monogamy, aka divorce- I kind of get the feeling this is considered a Venal Sin, not Mortal. I'd put monogamous homosexual couples in this group- denying the procreative aspect of sex, but as welcome as any other sinner in the church.
4. True depravity- that 1% of fetishists and the like that makes the rest of us gag, whose sexual practices and addictions are so far outside the norm that even the most tolerant of us says, we can't support that.

Burn in hell for all eternity? Just being homosexual and monogamous won't make you do that. Jesus loves you too much to allow that to happen.

And I need to say a word about divorce. If your marriage is sacramental- that is you take seriously your vows and you try your best to place Christ at the center of your marriage and you're a good level 2 heterosexual Catholic as listed above, it doesn't matter where your lusts lead you- you've chosen your path, and NO other options should be available to you. Commitment, not love, is at the center of a good Catholic marriage- because love may come and go, but you've made a commitment to yourself and your God to stick with this family NO MATTER WHAT.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Forget Same Sex Marriage- Civil Unions are needed

I got a challenge to place this on my blog instead, as it expands beyond the idea of gay-vs-straight to the outright attack on 1950s middle class America by the upper class going on in economics right now.

In the 1950s, The United States experienced the greatest expansion of the middle class the world has ever seen. Despite the fact of the recession/stagflation of the 1970s, this peaked into a middle class that was greater than 50% of the population by the late 1970s.

Reagan started reversing this, by cutting the tax rates on the richest 5%. From the 1950s when a single individual could work 40 hours a week and provide for a family of four to six kids, in 2009 we are finding that both parents working can't even provide for a family of 2.1 kids.

With the coming depression, this is resulting in some new definitions of what is a family, and what is a household. Homelessness, multi-generational households, friends-with-benefits, couch surfing, and dare I say even polygamy, is all becoming more common as joblessness and foreclosure force more people into considering wider options for covering the basics of food, clothing, shelter, sanitation and health care.

To that end, I propose this: I'm still not ready to move marriage beyond one man one woman, but I am ready to say, it's time for the State to exit the marriage business and enter the civil union business, for the widest possible idea of what is a civil union. We have database techniques that can list any number of partners on a contract now (we're not limited to the old non-expandable forms) and it's obvious that we need to expand the definition of what is a family, if only for economic purposes.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Job Growth of Presidents compared with Population Growth

Is America really the "Land of Opportunity" preached about in the third world? Or, over the last 50 years, has our job growth been so slow, so anemic, in comparison to population growth, that we can no longer claim to be offering opportunity to our citizens, let alone new immigrants?

I've seen a couple of obvious partisan attacks on Bush the Younger- and he certainly deserves to be attacked, with only a 13.6% of the new workers in this country finding new jobs for them to move into- but I wanted the bigger picture, and that link above at least gave me a chart to play with. I'm placing it here until I can flesh this out into a post fit for my blog at Economic Populist.

I'll be putting these numbers into a spreadsheet and graphing them when I get time, but as you can see, America has definitely failed over the last couple of decades to add enough new jobs to exceed population growth, which means everybody claiming that America needs immigrants to fill jobs is lying.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

OK, the economy is now invading my dreams

And the nightmare of a response is- fraud will happen until draconian punishment is applied to stop it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Morality is impossible without Religious Devotion To Duty

John Kavenaugh wrote this intriguing article for that left-wing Catholic magazine America. In it, he states that the real problem with moral relativism is that you end up demanding that Other people follow rules that you won't follow yourself- and that the Philosopher Kant argues against this, while arguing for freedom.

I find this fascinating, because I myself have a basic philosophical problem with freedom: Political and Religious Freedom contains the Freedom to Do Good, but it also contains the Freedom to Do Evil.

Immanuel Kant counters this with the idea that if you're going to hold to a principle, you should hold it yourself as a religious duty to the greater good. After all, what good is having a rule if you won't follow it yourself?

This, to me, is the core of morality- to do what is right in the service of the greater good. It's also the core of just about every major religion on the planet, save Protestantism, which has the concept of being saved by Faith Alone (despite the Biblical pronouncement against this in the book of James- which claims we are saved NOT by faith alone, but by good works).

September 2008 taught us that free markets, in the absence of strict ethics and moral code, will fail- that freedom contains the freedom to do evil. Only by adhering to a duty to do good, can we overcome this.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Challenge to Classical Liberalists

Classical liberalism is NOT what we think of in America as liberal- rather it's the economic idea that freedom and the free market is self correcting, and government intervention is not needed.

The problem I find, reading the works of Mises and his fellows who commit mathematical dishonesty in support of free markets, is this: Freedom is a knife that cuts both ways, the freedom to do good, and the freedom to do evil. Quite often, under a "free market", due to a lack of information, doing evil pays quite well- especially when committing fraud.

So well, in fact, that in September 2008, we discovered that fraud in the banking, stock market, and insurance industries (basically, the financial sector) had attracted huge amounts of well-paid talent. Thanks to some well timed deregulation over the past 30 years or so, that talent found fraud to be a much easier way to get richer than everybody else than actually producing anything worthwhile.

So here's the challenge- I will put forth a pair of linked theories, and you prove to me that they are wrong:

1. Ethical Behavior is inversely proportional to Executive Compensation in any given institution.
2. That without draconian governmental interference in the market to make sure everybody has equal information and fraud doesn't pay (as in, life sentences and executions), any half-hearted attempt to prevent fraud will merely be met with more pay from investors who don't understand that they are being defrauded, to cover the increased risk.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Lack of Repect for Age and History

I'm emerged in three basic discussions right now:
1. Economic- this very old former FDR Administration economist tells us exactly how bad off we really are, restoring confidence is key, and the lack of confidence was due to the ignorance of historic perspective.
2. Religions- the Emergent Church & postmodernism is busy reinventing the wheel again, this time on Orthodoxy.
3. Government in general- I take a smaller is better approach, not just in terms of libertarian small government, but actually smaller regional government. We may never have Cascadia as separatists like myself have dreamed of since the novel Ecotopia came out, but we need to start looking at self-sufficient regions as a new economic and governmental model.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Following the Moral Compas

Supreme Knight, Carl Anderson, wrote in this month's Columbia Magazine that a major portion of the failure of the financial industry was the personal sin of greed. I have no doubt that this is true.

But I think, in examining the causes, we haven't gone far enough. The financial industry, as it grew beyond the 6% of GDP in 1965 to the 16% it is today, started paying higher compensation to executives. I'm going to make a radical suggestion: Once the first three levels of Maslow needs have been met, all compensation above that amount only attracts those greedy enough to want and need such a high level of compensation. And just as Jesse James robbed banks because "that's where the money is", today's banksters (unethical executives attracted to the financial industry by high compensation) are in the financial industry precisely because "That's where the money is".

If we truly want to bring back ethics and the public good, we really need to reduce the difference in compensation between the lowest janitor and the highest CEO. Yes, justice dictates that these amounts be different. But in 1965, the average CEO made 44 times what the janitor did. In 2009, he makes 4000 times what the janitor does. I think we can preserve motivation while reducing compensation.

Homosexual Doctors Can't Do Math

Either that or they've got a very different meaning of the word Normal than I do.

I just had a homosexual arguing in an emergent Christian blog for same sex marriage tell me both:

First, homosexuality has now been considered a normal, non-deviant form of human sexual orientation for over 35 years by the American medical profession, longer, far longer in Europe


Third, sexuality is both immutable and the ratio of gay to straight is somewhere between 3 - 10%, depending on who is making up the numbers. If that 3-10% of us who don't reproduce are really that big a survival threat, then I suggest it is only because you haven't been doing your duty and making babies.

Now last time I checked, anything that was practiced outside of the 1st sigma of any given population in statistics was considered "abnormal", while anything inside first sigma was considered "normal". Does anybody believe, even the most radical numbers, that something that is only done by 10% of the population is not outside 1st sigma? And thus, wouldn't it be an ABnormal, deviant form of human sexual orientation? Why is it my autism (1:150 children are autistic) is considered deviant and abnormal when gays are normal?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Does Christ need more Brides in his Harem?

I've been doing a lot of talking, thanks to a cousin, and also an old girlfriend, about theology as of late- I'm being pulled back in to that fascinating topic for me, the life cycle of sects in religion and why schisms happen. It's a fascinating topic for me because it's also largely a mystery to me.

What I still don't get, as an outsider looking in- Why does Christ need more Brides in his Harem? Ever since the Reformation (and despite being Roman Catholic, I do recognize that Martin Luther fulfilled a valid need- I'm very much a child of Vatican II) we've been splitting apart the Church, the Bride of Christ, into thousands, nay, tens of thousands independent bickering brides over the slightest differences in theology.

The challenge I'd present to the emergent movement from the liturgical side of the Church, the very people who defined Orthodoxy to begin with, is why split away? Why form new churches? What the heck was so wrong with the way of the Apostles anyway, from the Didache and the Early Church Fathers and the Bible, that you have to run out and form something new? What is so wrong with Orthodoxy that you must run away from it, be exclusionary against it, and create anew that which was already created for you to be nourished by and learn from?

We already have a Pope (and he's in Rome, not Montana, as some on the entirely opposite side of the debate would claim), so why do we need more?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The big difference: Theology and Science

NO, this isn't going to be yet another screed on evolution. In fact, in my religion, evolution is an accepted fact, it's the theory of random quantum mechanics that isn't accepted.

Still, though, Theology and Science do look at things in one very different way: Dogmas vs Axioms. Axioms in science can actually be disproven- just like any other theory or law or idea. Whole schools of scientific thought have, in the past, had their axioms disproven and they've had to either change or go extinct because of it. Not so with theology- in theology, Dogma is sacred. In Roman Catholic Terms it's the "Deposit of Faith" upon which all else is built. Everything else in theology is explaining the Dogma to new generations- there is never anything added or taken away.

In this way, I charge that the so-called soft sciences of Psychology and Economics are not really sciences at all- but rather theologies. Their dogmas, even when apparently destroyed by an aberrant personality or an economic collapse, are held to be inviolate. Thus, we get Freudian psychologists who explain everything in terms of sexual development; and Milton Friedman economists who claim that cutting taxes is the right thing to do even when consolidation of wealth is destroying the market.
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Oustside The Asylum by Ted Seeber is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
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