Friday, 5/16/14

    1. AFA stays the (wrong) course
    2. More on Pfizer and the Thing That Used To Be Capitalism
    3. Can “irrational” and “hateful” religion be permitted?
    4. Ecce Femme: St. Mariam the New Martyr
    5. The apocalyptic glory of God
    6. Poison Eucharist

1

I knew a good man, who was a very good lawyer, who I was surprised to learn worked for the shrill, always-on-the-edge-of-outright-lies American Family Association. I’ve lost track of him and of them.

It’s nice, in a rueful sort of way, to see that AFA hasn’t changed. (H/T Rod Dreher)

2

One significant mention in the Pfizer story was the galvanizing role of hedge funds in encouraging companies to pull up stakes in the U.S. and renounce their nationality. It makes sense, I suppose. If you own a big block of stock which has a greater chance of appreciating if a company expatriates itself, you will do what you can to increase your return. And you will have leverage—enough perhaps to persuade a large company to do what you want. You will be rewarded as well. Recent stories about hedge fund chieftans demonstrate without a doubt that they are now the highest-paid princelings of capitalism, making sums well beyond a humble CEO who employs and manages hundreds of thousands of people.

Scott McConnell’s Rule by the Very Few, which takes up where Pat Buchanan left off, after a fashion, by peeking behind the curtain at Pfizer, whose expatriation proposal was Buchanan’s departure point. McConnell sparked some lively debate:

Another article throwing around the term “capitalism” when the author obviously has no clue as to what that is. I believe the reason so many don’t get it, is because its been a gradual trend toward crony capitalism. Big government/big business partnership is what has bred the oligarchs and hollowed out the middle class, not capitalism. That and the central financial planning which has protected and made big finance bigger. The federal reserve politburo is not capitalism.

(Johann)

To say that this is not “true capitalism” is not unlike Western communists saying the USSR was not true communism. It’s a fair point, but it’s not really the point. We don’t get the pure, uncut utopian version. This is “actually existing capitalism.”

(Jones, responding, presumably, to Johann)

Actually, Scott, I believe it was Lenin who wrote that the highest (most mature) stage of capitalism, finance capitalism, was also the most “moribund”. The US transition toward this ‘parasitic’ capitalism (replacement of productive investment with financial manipulation) was stunningly documented in “Barbarians at the Gate” by WSJ investigative reporters Bryan Burrough and John Helyar.

(cameyer joins in) Adam sums up my feelings pithily:

It is the Financialization of America. Until the incentives for this behavior are fixed, it will continue unabated.

3

In United States v. Windsor, while the Supreme Court did not treat the question of religious exemptions from state laws recognizing same-sex marriage, the case could nevertheless affect the success of future efforts to attain religious exemptions. Windsor strongly suggested that any view of marriage excluding the possibility of same-sex unions is irrational and even hateful. Religious institutions and individuals, however, particularly the Catholic Church, are leading proponents of the view that opposite-sex marriage is uniquely valuable. Also for Catholics, this view forms a central and nonseverable part of a theological worldview encompassing teachings about matters such as the identity of God, and the meaning and purpose of life as servant love. Refusing to exempt Catholics from cooperating with same-sex marriage is therefore tantamount to denying them the right to practice their faith, or even insisting that they practice a different faith. In order to address the matter of religious freedom in the context of state-recognized same-sex marriage, post-Windsor, this article will proceed as follows: Part I. will set forth Windsor’s treatment of the nature of marriage and its characterization – as “animus” – of a refusal to recognize a marital union between two persons of the same sex. Part II. will set forth the elements constituting the cosmological and anthropological significance of Catholic teachings about marriage. Part III. will discuss the benefits offered to a pluralistic society by its continuing to allow a visibly Catholic witness on marriage. It will also acknowledge practical hurdles to such a resolution.

(Abstract of Helen M. Alvare’s A ‘Bare…Purpose to Harm’? Marriage and Catholic Conscience Post-Windsor, which I’ve downloaded and hope to read soon; emphasis added) Will “irrational” and “hateful” religious freedom be allowed to survive? Sorry, Justice Kennedy: saying it doesn’t make it true.

4

Her Muslim father abandoned her as a child. Her Orthodox Christian mother raised her as a Christian. She married a Christian. And now the Islamist state of Sudan is going to murder her [for apostasy and adultery].

Yes, in Sudan if you’re father mother’s inseminator is Muslim, you are indelibly Muslim and the attempt to be Christian, as your abandoned mother raised you, is Apostasy, your marriage to a Christian a sham, and your consummation of marriage an act of adultery.

But take heart. Your judicial murder, in the circumstance Rod Dreher describes, will be a modern martyrdom to add to all the others, St. Mariam.

Muslims have some very valid complaints about our prevailing vulgarity and brazen sexual displays. But we’ve got an air-tight cased that Islamists are barbarians.

5

[I]n the Gospel we read:

Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head, as he sat at table. But when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for a large sum, and given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. —Matthew 26:6–11

Not wanting to downplay giving to the poor, we must understand that the purpose of expensive adornment in the Church is not mere waste, excess, or vanity, but is rather the apocalyptic glory of God. In the sacred arts, whether architecture, iconography, or the careful craft of beeswax candle-making, the Church is anointing the Body of Christ. In her sacred beauty, the Church is carving out a space of heaven on the earth here below.

(Gabe Martini)

6

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry points to a reflection on John Chrysostom’s Homily 24 on I Corinthians:

John Chrysostom, the great fourth-century preacher, described Christ’s descent into hell as a kind of poison eucharist. When Christ died, his body descended into the ground. Death ingested his body like food. But this was no ordinary food. It was a fatal poison. It brought on violent stomach cramps, worse (Chrysostom assures us) than the agony of a woman in labour. Death could not digest Christ’s body.

(Patristic peculiarities: John Chrysostom and the poison eucharist) That may be a “patristic peculiarity” to author Ben Myers, but it’s very standard Orthodox homiletical fare, reflected every Pascha in Chrysostom’s Paschal Homily, which is always read as the Homily of Pascha.

On the other hand, I don’t think I’d ever heard Chrysostom homilies used in admonition to be very careful before communing.

* * * * *

“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.