Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Left and the Parable of the Two Sons

I'm sorry, but it's still a fact.  Americans are among the most generous people on the planet.  Again.  As in almost every case in every year.  This is individual generosity by the way.  And in America, religious people seem to be more giving than non-religious people.  And some argue that more conservative leaning individuals tend toward a more generous spirit than liberals.

I'm sure the stats can be fought over.  I'm sure they will be.  The great thing about statistics is that with a little golly-gee-wiz, you can make them say almost anything you want them to say.  But at best, conservatives are no less giving on the whole than their liberal neighbors

And yet we have today, where the narrative is that liberalism and liberals are simply the default good people who care and worry and want to help the poor.  As opposed to those rascally right wingers who don't like the poor and beat up on teddy bears and everything.  Yet time and again, pesky stats and studies and surveys suggest that conservatives actually give more, are more generous, and donate more time to helping the poor and the needy.  How is that?  Easy.  I give you the parable of the two sons:

“But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’ And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he regretted it and went. The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, ‘I will, sir’; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you.
The answer is obvious.  The son who did the Father's will was the one who may have said no, but then went out and actually worked.  The one who simply barked the bark, but didn't actually do anything, did not do the Father's will. 

Nonetheless we have an interesting trend starting up in Catholicism as it swings more and more to the left of center.  In a way similar to the antiracism witch hunts, we're seeing a new crop of Catholics who insist that they care about the poor more than anyone else.  They care a thousand times more than anyone else.  And they back it up with endless appeals to books and letters and writings and theories and Democratic proposals and, of course, Pope Francis. 

But what of those who don't agree with them?  Could it be that they merely disagree with the solutions, but actually do care about, and work to help, the poor?  I give you an oldie but a goodie: Mark Shea's Facebook page (I know, I know).  He posts on the Bernie Sanders' cry of "Revolution!".  He doesn't give a nod to Sanders as much as he uses it to blast conservatives under the false premise that those on the Right don't want to solve the problems of the poor and the struggling.  Which is odd, given that stats suggest those on the Right are more willing to actually help the poor and the struggling.  Lesson: reread parable of the two sons.

But that's not the focus of this post.  The focal point is one of Mark's regular readers Dan Conway.  Dan has a very simple worldview: to the left of center are the beautiful people, to the right of center are stupid and hateful people who suck and are wrong about everything.  So Dan comments on this in his usual fashion.  But then someone else asks Dan, "But have you considered [Father] Barron?"  That is, Father Barron who apparently didn't live up to snuff when compared to their own concern for the poor.

Why no, he doesn't, explains Mr. Conway.  A blind spot no doubt.  Someday Fr. Barron might actually visit the Catholic Worker in LA (I guess those who minister to the poor anywhere else don't matter, or I guess Fr. Barron has never actually visited the poor?).  Then, of course, Fr. Barron will get his mind right:

Did you see that?  Fr. Barron, who is loved and adored by Mark Shea, is called out on the carpet for not caring enough about dealing with the poor.  He didn't handle Day well enough.  He didn't speak the words.  How much Fr. Barron actually cares about the poor or actually has done for the poor doesn't even matter.  In fact, it is almost assumed that since he didn't speak to the issues the way Mr. Conway and friends demand, he couldn't possibly have done enough or even exposed himself to those who do.

And that is the New Fundamentalism, leftist style.  It doesn't matter what we do, it only matters that we support the correct ideas, and embrace the correct writings in the correct way.  If we don't, it must mean something is wrong, no matter how many poor we've helped or aided in times of need.  I have no problem with ideas and solutions.  I'll listen to anything.  But when we act as if only having the correct interpretation of the correct ideas matters, and if we don't then it necessarily means we don't care  enough about the problem, then there are issues.  It might be a staple strategy for the modern Left, but it goes down hard for the reputation of Catholicism when Catholics follow suit.


  1. Of course what never seems to occur to someone like Dan Conway is that the poor in America today have more wealth than the rich man from Lazarus' parable.

    But then such questions would make the statement, "real treasures of the church are the poor" nonsensical. Is it the poor by absolute standards? (meaning basically... the church has no treasures in America, only in other countries) Is it by a relative standard? If so, then why isn't Bill Gates or Steve Jobs etc a saint since his material wealth is so great we all end up poor by comparison - thus meaning they have caused the Church to gain more treasure by their efforts.

    They certainly seem diligent in their efforts to enforce the stereotype of modern Catholicism as a societal parasite.

  2. That's something I've been wanting to post on, I've just not had the time to get my thoughts around it. Something about the way Pope Francis approaches things seems to set Catholic and Catholic, and also seems to encourage a growing sense among Catholics - at least on the Internet - who seem to think the big problem with the Church is everyone else. Pope Francis has no problem saying that Catholics are the big problem with Catholicism. But it doesn't seem to stick that way, and many seem to see themselves standing next to the pope, wondering why the rest of those Catholics can't get their act in gear. So it is with this. The idea that 'evil rich' goes down tough when I consider that, compared to a huge swath of the world, I'm quite rich indeed.


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