Friday, February 6, 2015

A Different Perspective

Let them eat cake

This morning at Mass Father talked about threats to the Sacrament of Matrimony and to the survival of the family.  The Gospel was Herodias’ anger at John the Baptizer for telling her “husband” that he shouldn’t be shacking up with her because she had been the wife of his brother.  OK I get it.  And we need to look at the threat to the survival of marriages and families.  But Father gave us the usual stuff, the Party (as in Republican) Line.  Same sex marriage is the overwhelming destroyer of the traditional family.  Hmmm.  Maybe Father needs to wake up and smell the manure. 
When a kid graduates from College or Grad School with 200,000 or 300,000 dollars in school loans, how is he or she going to even think about marriage?  And when the job market is so closed that he or she ends up back home with Mom and Dad (the Boomerang generation), how is he or she going to think about marriage?  And should he or she marry at some point, when it takes both partners working full time outside the home, and there is no paid parental leave, how are they going to think about having a kid?  A kid, we are not talking about three or four much less six or seven.  And when to make 60,000 or 70,000, or 80,000 a year—the minimum it takes to live in a metropolitan area like Washington DC or Atlanta or San Francisco or Chicago or Boston or Dallas or Saint Louis or wherever—one parent or the other has to work a 50 or 60 or 70+ hour week and gets home at 8 at night or later—how is a family going to have dinner together or the other activities that bond spouses to each other and children and parents?  The biggest threat to the family is an economy where 1% of the population holds 40% of the wealth; expand that to 5% and they control 82% of the wealth; and the bottom 80% of the population hold only 11% of the wealth. 
I went to a fascinating workshop last Saturday at the Stamford Church of Christ where Tony Keating who coordinates their adult education forum gave a fascinating presentation on Income Inequality.  This is a subject that has recently been addressed by leaders as varied as Pope Francis and President Obama.  I had been expecting a presentation from the moral/ethical perspective but when the problem was presented from an economist’s perspective, I was blown away to see the sociological chaos resultant from an obscenely lopsided distribution of resources.  As a Christian I cannot but recognize the sinfulness of such a structure; as a historian I can only fear the consequences: Qu’ills mangent de la brioche. 


  1. The economic reality is certainly contributory to the family decline but it is not the only factor. The lack of a prudent asceticism to help bridle people's passions and desires is a major player as well.

    I agree that there is severe moral/ethical problem, but no society can thrive on a populace where there is personal moral anarchy. The mere redistribution of wealth will not cure the moral ills of the human heart.

    1. I agree with you, all sin including the sort of greed that is destroying our economy, ultimately is personal sin. Anyone who thinks they should to make and keep 400 million a year or live in a 33 million dollar Manhattan Penthouse needs a strong dose of "prudent asceticism." Someone like Warren Buffet who realizes that his immense income requires that most of it be funneled into projects that benefit the health and education of those at the lower end of the world's income spectrum and who maintains a reasonably measured life-style is not the problem but those responsible for the sort of corporate greed that is destroying our society need a frank encounter with the Jesus of the Gospels,

  2. Thank you for this. The things you mention are one reason I refer to the crowd that marched in Washington last month as being "pro-birth" and not really "pro-life." (I also refer to their "pro-choice" opponents as "anti-criminalization" with respect to abortion for similarly clarificatory reasons -- but I digress). I have encountered far too many right-wing Republicans in the pro-birth movement to think they have no social goals beyond the one I suggest. I am quite sure a significant number of them would oppose the policies and benefits you mention on the grounds they favor smaller government and heightened personal responsibility. They are also often either ignorant of, or hypocritically unfaithful to, the magisterium when it comes to the social doctrine of the Catholic Church. One wonders about the political persuasion of the priest you mentioned who blathered on about "family values." Get ready for more of it as the Synod approaches along with the very narrow concerns about birth, marriage and who can receive Communion.