This week STEP class is about church teachings on morality. This week's assignment asks:
Explain the basic principle of Christian morality. What is at the heart of all behaviors and actions?
As usual no more than 200 words, so here goes:
Love is at the core of Christian morality. "This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." (John 15:12-13) "So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love." (1 Cor 13:13) "I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you" (Matt 5:44)
Loving our neighbor is hard. Loving our enemy is even harder. But CS Lewis put it well:
“Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”
Yet, as this week's reading explained, love is not enough. "Love alone, set adrift from moral direction, can easily descend into sentimentality ...." By itself, love is undirected and uniformed. It needs norms and principles to channel feeling into action. And then the Grace to obey the rules and put love into action.
This week STEP class is about church teachings on morality. As Catholics, we distinguish between mortal and venial sin. The readings inform that:
There are three conditions for a sin to be a mortal sin: grave matter, full knowledge, and deliberate consent (freedom). Mortal sin destroys the loving relationship with God that we need for eternal happiness. If not repented, it results in a loss of love and God’s grace and merits eternal punishment in hell, that is, exclusion from the Kingdom of God and thus eternal death.
Is becoming intoxicated a grave matter especially when one knows the consequences from past experience? But can one deliberately consent if one's judgment is impaired as one gradually becomes intoxicated? Is it the ex ante consent to the first drink that matters?
Relatedly, suppose one commits what would ordinarily be a mortal sin when one is intoxicated. Does being intoxicated negate deliberate consent? But what if you got intoxicated on purpose?
Frankly, I often get confused when one digs down into the weeds of Catholic theology on (among other things) sin. The best advice a priest ever gave me on this issue was to make frequent use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, tell the priest everything on your conscience and let God sort it out.
As previously noted, I'm enrolled in Notre Dame's STEP program and currently taking the Core Course: Introduction to the Catholic Faith. This week's class focused on Morality.
One of the discussion questions asked "What are the Theological Virtues," which sent me to the Catechism (para, 1803 ff):
Human virtues are firm attitudes, stable dispositions, habitual perfections of intellect and will that govern our actions, order our passions, and guide our conduct according to reason and faith. They make possible ease, self-mastery, and joy in leading a morally good life. The virtuous man is he who freely practices the good.
Four virtues play a pivotal role and accordingly are called "cardinal"; all the others are grouped around them. They are: prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. "If anyone loves righteousness, [Wisdom's] labors are virtues; for she teaches temperance and prudence, justice, and courage."
The human virtues are rooted in the theological virtues, which adapt man's faculties for participation in the divine nature: for the theological virtues relate directly to God. They dispose Christians to live in a relationship with the Holy Trinity. They have the One and Triune God for their origin, motive, and object.
The theological virtues are the foundation of Christian moral activity; they animate it and give it its special character. They inform and give life to all the moral virtues. They are infused by God into the souls of the faithful to make them capable of acting as his children and of meriting eternal life. They are the pledge of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit in the faculties of the human being. There are three theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity.
I was unaware of that distinction. So, yet again, I've learned something new and, at least to me, interesting from this course. It's been a great experience. I'm sad that this is the last week, but a new course starts next week.
I am saddened to learn that Michael Novak has passed away. The American Enterprise Institute, where he was a resident scholar for many years, reports that:
Michael was an AEI scholar for three decades until his retirement in 2010, and remained a close friend of the Institute.
Michael arrived at AEI in 1978. ... And once here, he built a hugely distinguished career as our George Frederick Jewett Scholar in Religion, Philosophy, and Public Policy.
The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism (1982), likely Michael’s most important book, advanced a bold and important thesis: America’s system of democratic capitalism represents a fusion of our political, economic, and moral-cultural systems. No facet can exist apart from the others. This thread ran through Michael’s whole career, including his most recent book, a co-authored work entitled Social JusticeIsn’t What You Think It Is (2015).
Michael Novak loved the Catholic Church and the United States passionately. And with his death at 83, both Church and nation have lost one of their most imaginative and accomplished sons: a groundbreaking theorist in philosophy, social ethics, religious studies, ethnic studies, and economics; a brilliant teacher; a winsome journalist and apologist; a great defender of freedom, as both ambassador and polemicist; a man of striking energy and creativity, some of whose books will be read for a very long time to come, and in multiple languages.
Over a long life Michael Novak traveled from writing speeches for George McGovern to serving as Ronald Reagan’s ambassador to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, reflecting an intellectual journey from socialism to capitalism. He died Friday at age 83, but in many ways he remained the boy forged in Johnstown, Pennsylvania: a working-class town of steel mills, coal mines and immigrant Slovak families trying to find their way in this new land called America.
Raised as a Roman Catholic, Novak believed as a young man that socialism was the ideal economic arrangement. But he began to notice a flaw: While socialism sounded good in theory, in practice it didn’t work—and non-elites fared the worst.
Capitalism had little high-minded theory, but in practice it literally provided the goods. If ordinary folks did so much better under capitalism, maybe the caricatures—e.g., that it is all based on greed—were wrong. Maybe free markets had their own virtues and were defensible, and even superior to other economic systems on moral grounds.
From this recognition sprang his most important work, “The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism,” which changed America’s public debate when it was published in 1982. “Democratic capitalism,” he wrote, is “neither the Kingdom of God nor without sin. Yet all other known systems of political economy are worse. Such hope as we have for alleviating poverty and for removing oppressive tyranny—perhaps our last, best hope—lies in this much despised system.”
I only had the privilege of meeting Novak on one occasion, but he had a huge impact on my life. It was reading his work on Catholic social thought as it relates to the corporation that provided the normative foundation for my own work but also provided the impetus and interest in Catholicism that eventually led to my conversion. Indeed, if one had to single out one person who pushed me across the Tiber, it was Novak.
I'll be posting more later about the conference about Delaware corporate law we had here at UCLA this weekend, but as a matter of personal privilege I wanted to note that numerous speakers referred to the failure of North Dakota's effort to attract incorporations away from Delaware.
I'd like to point out that I predicted precisely that outcome:
In this short essay for a forthcoming symposium, I comment on the North Dakota Publicly Traded Corporations Act. North Dakota hopes that the Act will empower it to compete with Delaware in the market for corporate charters. In my view, North Dakota is doomed to failure. If state chartering competition is a race to the bottom, managers will prefer Delaware to North Dakota because the former facilitates the extraction of private rents. If state competition is a race to the top, investors will prefer the director primacy approach taken by Delaware to the shareholder primacy one adopted by North Dakota. Either way, North Dakota loses.
Bainbridge, Stephen M., Why the North Dakota Publicly Traded Corporations Act Will Fail (March, 18 2009). UCLA School of Law, Law-Econ Research Paper No. 09-07. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1364402 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1364402
To quote the great Will Sonnett, no brag, just fact.
As previously noted, I'm enrolled in Notre Dame's STEP program and currently taking the Core Course: Introduction to the Catholic Faith. This week's class focused on the Liturgy. This week's assignment question is:
What is meant by the term, "Real Presence," with respect to the Eucharist?
As always I am limited to the stated maximum of 200 words.
The doctrine of the Real Presence asserts that in the Eucharist, while the bread and wine appear to be bread and wine, Jesus is literally and wholly present—body and blood, soul and divinity—in them. This is a stumbling block for many non-Catholics, who look at the bread and wine and see a rather tasteless cracker and a (usually) bad tasting glass of wine.
But Jesus himself (Luke 22) declared that “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” And, again, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you."
That Jesus was not merely speaking of the Last Supper as a unique event is confirmed in 1 Corinthians 11, where Paul wrote: "Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord."
If Jesus were not truly present in the bread and wine, why should it matter whether we are free of grave sin when we partake of it? It would be a mere symbol. But because it is not just a symbol, but rather the literal body and blood of Christ, those who are unworthy take him into themselves at grave risk.
Dolan is unquestionably what most people would regard as a “conservative.” His closest friends and advisers are conservatives, he’s by-the-book when it comes to faith and morals, and he’s unabashedly proud of being a “John Paul II bishop.”
In other words, Dolan has strong personal views which some would see as fairly partisan.
However, another defining quality of Dolan is a relentless determination to keep lines of communication open, never to demonize or alienate anyone, and to demonstrate that one can have strong convictions without forever going to war against people who don’t share them. ...
Dolan suggests another America, one in which people who disagree can still be friends, still talk to one another, still recognize one another’s fundamental decency, and where disputes don’t have to end in shoving matches and handcuffs.
A friend on FB posted an interesting hypo. My version: Gun to your head; forced to choose: would you prefer to be ruled by a rich man who uses his wealth to gain great power or a politician who uses his power to gain great wealth? No fighting the hypo. Crassus or Caesar, I suppose would be an historical example.
This Loire Valley Cabernet Franc is a balanced, light-bodied red wine that lacks the depth and richness of a truly great wine but makes a yummy match for a casual bistro-style meal. (In this case, Gordon Ramsay's steak sandwich.)
Deep dark ruby. No sediment thrown to speak of.
Strong nose of blackberry, blueberry, and spices. On the palate, there are modest and soft tannins. Blackberry and blueberry again with a streak of minerals. Not a wine for the cellar but at just $15 per bottle, it's a great choice for near term drinking.
This blend of 88% Zinfandel, 8% Petite Sarah, and 4% Carignane from an old vines vineyard in Sonoma made a nice match for stir-fry flank steak with carrots and snow peas.</a>This blend of 88% Zinfandel, 8% Petite Sarah, and 4% Carignane from an old vines vineyard in Sonoma made a nice match for stir-fry flank steak with carrots and snow peas.
Deep purple. Almost no sediment. Dark fruit and warm spices on the nose. Well balanced and medium bodied. Drinkable now, but might improve with a couple of years of bottle age.