Henry as a wayward ex-Greek Catholic seminarian who struggled mightily many a morning to deal with Matins before coffee, I appreciate the schooling on your thoughts on prayer, its meaning and intent.
Lest there be further confusion, I make no contention that we as Catholics – especially Greek Catholics – have some Protestant notion of faith without works. We can take that straw man and turn it into a scare crow.
The whole point of the Christian faith is that faith and loyalty to the Gospel is through action and not just mere belief. And this means we must constantly be challenging ourselves, and willing to learn from the prophetic utterances of the Church, and see how they serve as criticism for the political environment we are now in.
This is fair enough as a singular perspective, while I am enamored with the level of intellectual rigor attempted on this blog, I can’t help but wonder if a little modesty can be applied in one’s reading. There is a chance that there is more than one reading or school of thought on a matter – again something Greek Catholics are most sensitive to – so taking an opportunity to couch an argument in terms of this being a personal take may not hurt. As it stands, I would not be entirely comfortable with this reduction as THE statement of the purpose and goal of Christianity – that could easily just be me. I think that there is more to it yet.
My objection is that at first glance the point of this entry seems to be framing this prayer in terms of classifying its politics. Doing so might seem to easily detract from a certain spirit of Byzantium that so rigourously and richly calls us to repentence and self-examination. Everything the rich man was guilty of – as any monk or nun (the folks who designed this office, no less) can tell you – is something a monk or a nun themselves can be guilty of. My reading of the parable this text is based on and then the prayers offered herein – again, sung by monks and nuns – is a daming indictment not of wealth, but of a failure to be generous and to comfort those that we have it in our power to help.
Do be careful in remember that it is the
love of money that we are warned is the root of all evil. From there I am not well prepared to make the giant leap that having money even to the point of being wealthy is in and of itself problematic. Or that we are called or compelled to call for a system that precludes anyone ever become wealthy.
What, then, is the goal for capitalism? It is not a moral system; it is an economic system about wealth, its production, and how to get more of it. That’s its point. Just because we live in a capitalistic system – out of necessity — doesn’t make it an acceptable system; just like the early Christians who lived under Nero’s empire and lived and earned their daily living under it, does not mean they accepted its idolatry.
Henry this is a false dichotomy – either one must be a capitalist who is in search of success by the standard of
“I’ve made it rich” which you contend “Capitalism is all about” or they must be something else? I am sorry, I contend that “I’ve made it rich” consumerism
“I’ve made it rich”is about
materialism – which is an easy temptation to which to succumb in a free society, but those are the chances you take with a level of freedom we certainly enjoy in this system.
Conversely, not everyone laboring under this system is out to get rich, and there are plenty of othere means outside of free market capitalism for the accumulation of wealth of sorts.
The grandparents immediately come to mind as modest bread earning capitalists – especially the Greek Catholic Granny who set out her own shingle with a beauty parlor for working class women and raised two boys as a young widow alone. Certainly a capitalist, and certainly not indicted by the parable in the office quoted.
Under your definition of capitalism here, one can perhaps be entreated to see the production of wealth as a good thing for people who were instructed to go forth and multiply. Wealth and being wealthy can easily be two different things. But for those who are rearing children and looking to feed, clothe and home them (all things that are wealth) to have more of it, as there are more people, ain’t a bad thing.
Juxtaposint Nero’s pagan religion and tyranny on top of an argument for or against an economic system is odd to me. I don’t see the clear correlation, and think I need you to explain that one further.
I am ready to concede this may not be a point about which can readily agree but when you say “Just because we live in a capitalistic system – out of necessity — doesn’t make it an acceptable system” I am left to wonder if we DO “out of necessity” as you write labor under it and most all economic reality pre-Marx found all of mankind laboring under the aspiration and hope of having more wealth if they were to be healthy. Only ever having just enough or just as much is a mighty difficult way to sustain a culture. Even in pre-modern cultures, it may well be argued that the land on which folks sustained themselves in a communal hunter-gatherer fashion, even that much would have been looked at as collective wealth, and where the grass was greener, they would move. This seems to lend itself to a natural order that in fact developped rather naturally. I would be open to hearing your suggestion on what would be better intended.
It is also worth consideration that neither in the east nor the west has there been some clarion call or Church teaching against having wealth… In 2000 years, it would seem that if the obvious reading of the parable this prayer is based on is a comdemnation of wealth (which, BTW, you have far beyond the wealthy man in the era of the Gospel – the fact that you have internet access alone is a tip off!) well if that is the obvious reading, or a demand is made to preclude the freedom of the pursuit of wealth at any level, we would have seen more explicit teaching within the deposit of faith. We simply don’t.
I am curious where you get your notions on capitalism? What material have you studied? Adam Smith? Karl Marx? GK Chesterton? Belloc? Michael Novak? John Paul II? For what I see is confusion and ignorance of the system itself. Capitalism is far more than mere free trade. And, no, to say “given that capitalism has held sway since man bartered for his first widget” is ignorance of history.
Forgive, moi brat, but I am not entirely convinced by your tone that you are actually so much as curious about what in my academic background informs my understanding of capitalism, as you wish me to list off what I have read with a view of demonstrating you have read better. Must it always come down to “whipping it out and measuring” on VN? We have to trade our CVs rather than charitably make an argument for our perspectives?
If I just concede that “yours is bigger” can we get on with the business of charitably stating why we agree or disagree rather than wanting to probe into my likely
obviously inferior academic formation? It wouldn’t be enough to make your case gently as to where you see I am wrong, you want me to go through my academic background, maybe we could get into chapter and verse here?
On the last sentence, that is harshly arrogant and condescending. Hard as it may be for some of a more rigourous academic stripe to not act as though they were at all times defending a thesis, is it necessary to essentially call me ignorant as you don’t agree with my assessment?
If that is how you feel, brother, I at least respect your candor, and I hope you keep going to Matins.
Source : http://www.patheos.com/blogs/voxnova/2008/03/09/what-label-would-you-impute-on-these-liturgical-texts/1484