Saturday, May 23, 2015

Catholics for consequentialism?

For those who have never visited the Catholic blogosphere, you might be shocked to find that consequentialism is the most horrible sin one can commit, and it apparently is unique to the United States.  I mean, you can do just about anything and be swell and awesome, but consequentailism might be outside of the reach of God's grace.

So it was at first a bit of a shock when I saw that Mark Shea, one of the most vocal crusaders against consequentialism, posted a post in which he seemed to be saying stealing from people with abundance was justified.  Of course by abundance, we always mean people with more than us.  Not us.

Now there is a long history of feeling that those who have obtained their wealth dishonestly deserve what they get.  And if you steal from someone who has taken wealth wrongly, and give it to those who are in need, there are worse things in the world.  But this post seemed to be saying the rich deserve what they get, no rules.  No Commandments.  As long as you're doing it to the rich, you're in the clear.

Now, in fairness, I've learned that consequentalism, like so many things across the Catholic blogosphere, is only an evil as long as it advances the Cause or wins the latest argument.  So when Catholics violate the Church's clear teaching about how to treat others, or not judging, or interpreting what people say in the best way, it doesn't matter.  For the sake of greater good they are free to ignore those teachings.  Even the teachings of Jesus! And that's how they justify it!  They're doing it for the greater good.

And clearly if it isn't an intrinsic evil, there is no end to the wiggle room that Catholics can find across the blogosphere to justify things.  Why, it has been said a million times that it's better that ten thousand babies be murdered than to tell a white lie to save them.  Nonetheless, you are free to be dishonest, deceitful, and to weave entire tapestries of falsehoods as long as you don't technically lie.  After all, being false is not an intrinsic evil.  Only lying is.

So unless you can show that all stealing is actually an intrinsic evil, then sometimes it might be awesome.  That's not to say you can ask such questions about interrogation methods or anything.  Then you're just trying to be stupid and consistent.  In the case of torture, it's always evil and anything done might be evil without question.  But stealing isn't always evil so it can sometimes be right unless not.

See how easy it is?  Are you confused yet?  For my money, I was more interested in this post, in which Mark praised those holding truly consistent pro-life ethics, including an obviously progressive evangelical who, by his own website, opposes increasing the legal restrictions on abortion rights.  Sure, like most liberal Christians he says he's opposed to abortion.  Just like President Obama.  But like most, apparently he believes that the right to abortion shall not be infringed upon while we seek to eliminate the root causes of abortion like poverty. Something that used to be not pro-life.

Perhaps I misread the evangelical, but he echoed, along with his support of gay marriage, the same viewpoints I heard other liberal evangelicals hold.  So I would be interested in knowing how someone opposed to legally restricting abortions can be consistently pro-life, while a person holding to the Church's traditional teaching - and still its official teaching - regarding the death penalty is not.  But then, again, if you're asking questions like this about the Catholic blogosphere, or how a self proclaimed conservative Catholic can love liberalism and hate conservatism, then I'm afraid you're just being stupid and consistent.

1 comment:

  1. Seeing a group of people, each of who is richer than the Rich Man in Lazarus' parable*, complain about how the poor are treated is just insanity. Reading the post and the comments, one has to wonder if these people have actually been to a church. This reminds me of the post I saw awhile back, IIRC Mark & co were complaining about EBT not being usable to purchase fish. I wanted to scream (but can't, of course) "If every one of you complaining here actually went out and bought fish for these poor, it wouldn't make any difference if the EBT paid for it not! They would all have fish!"

    Private property isn't an absolute? Yeah, I guess God saying "do not steal" isn't an absolute in any way or something.

    I'd believe the it's ok "if a rich guy loses his excess to the poor man" if Mark and his syncopates left their doors always unlocked so all those poor people can go shed them of their excess. The guy makes Catholicism a joke.

    *No I'm not exaggerating. I know things have been tough on you, lately Dave, but scroll down this essay to the section that starts with "We can stop, in little ways, taking so damned much for granted." and read from there. Times are tough, I hope you all get through it, but with such a great wife and 4 magnificent boys, as well as riches beyond the dreams of most of humanity's history? Life is good, man. Our lives, are so. damn. good.


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