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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

JPII vs. Ideology

I intend to devote a post entirely to JPII and Leo XIII, but a general rebuke of ideology in the name of Catholic Christianity is in order via the works of these men, as well as Maciej Zieba's commentary on "Centesimus Annus". The basic premise of my argument is that ideology distorts reality by using persons as means and not recognizing them as ends. This can occur in socialism, capitalism, and nearly every other system, including an ecclesial system, whereby that which is not personal reality, namely ideas and materials, replaces personal reality.

When I use the phrase "personal reality", I am referring to the Catholic Christian understanding that persons are ends in themselves, that is, the only creature, man, whom God created for its own sake (CCC #356). Persons are not ideas or materials for utilization. They can freely cooperate in a given system, as in free market capitalism, and freely respond in faith to God, but they are not systems in themselves to be coerced into action or strictly used for production. Despite the speculative accuracy of Meyers Briggs testing, a person is not a machine to be relied on for utilization in a given specialization. In theory, persons are free and largely unpredictable.

That said, systems are necessary for upholding the common good of persons: economically, socially, and so on. Were there not an agreed upon economic approach for upholding the common good of man, entropy would reign. Capitalism, for example, is the most successful system of economic exchange available to man to date, because all of the others distort the freedom of persons and personal reality. Nevertheless, Capitalism does have its shortcomings, and as an ideology, can prove to severly distort the worldview of its adherents. Likewise, as with any other system--including ecclesial--when taken as ideology can severely distort the worldview of its adherents.

In "Centesimus Annus", JPII argues that Catholic Christianity is not an ideology. In his work "Letter from Poland:Faith is not Ideology", Maciej Zieba O.P. makes constant reference to "Centesimus Annus" and outlines this list of Ideology's red-flags:
(1) it contains a conception of truth and goodness
(2) its followers believe that they are free to impose their conception upon others
(3) it expresses the whole of reality in a simple and rigid scheme.

He then follows the list with a concise rebuttal:

The Pope maintains that Christian truth does not fulfill the second and third conditions, and so Catholicism is not an ideology.(http://www.crisismagazine.com/1994/letter-from-poland)

I would simply add to his rebuttal, that ideologies do not recognize the person as a subject; merely as an object. With this in mind, ideology can therefore operate in opposition to personal freedom in the name of well-intentioned ideas.

Capitalism is a perfect example of this abuse, especially when it operates without reference to morality. The buying and selling of marijuana in some States in America, along with pornography and the business of "gentleman's clubs", constitutes a grave abuse of capitalistic ideology. In these cases, buyers are drawn into behavoirs that inhibit their freedom as persons and sellers are either using themselves, or their "people", as materials for use.

Yet, such ideology is excused as 'freedom' because it employs the willingess of its buyers and sellers to invest in it. On the contrary, the abuse of 'freedom', namely, the guaranteed loss of right reason with marijuana and the use of persons in the adult business, outweighs the ideological excuse. I want to make clear that personal freedom depends upon objective truth and goodness. In other words, the fact that a person is free does not enable him to do whatever he want to enslave himself. Or, in the case of an embryo or fetus, no action by another free person in the name of 'freedom' against the person as embryo/fetus is justifiable (Please see www.personhood.net for more info).

Another example of an impersonal ideology is socialism. Thanks to Pope Leo XIII's encyclical letter "Quod Apostolici Muneris", we have the following identification of socialists:
1) opposed to private property
2) against marriage between one man and one woman
3) advocate unconditional equality

As familiar as #'s 2 and 3 sound to the state of our world at present, #1 is really the most controversial in regard to Biblical Christianity. Indeed, many Christians themselves will site Acts Chapter 2 as justification for socialism/communism. But the sharing of common materials among persons in covenant, as the early Church did, is not the same as opposition to private property. Nor would one argue that a husband and wife and their family are communists because they share living space and other materials. Marriage between husband and wife is a reality that socialists are staunchly against! Why? Because the marriage covenant, as with religious congregations, interferes with the ideology that no one should have private property or take a subordinate position to another (as in the case with parents and children, etc.).

Conscious subordination of persons for the good of the whole of a family or congregation is opposed to entropy and in accord with right reason. It is not ideology to make decisions for the common good of persons. As I said before, some systems are necessary to insure people's well-being.

The crux of this matter, namely, between the common good of people and individual's personal well-being is where the Church has the most trouble with ideology. Orthodoxy is objectively good, so long as it is not used by Church members deliberately against the good-will of individual persons. What I mean by that is far more delicate a subject than with capitalism, because the economy of salvation is all the more valuable. Nevertheless, prosetylization or coercion of any sort at the expense of persons is unjust and ideological. Historical examples I can think of are the Spanish Inquisition, and forced baptisms of non-Christians. These are actions divorced from the recognition of persons, and stand in stark contrast to the familial subordination of persons I mentioned earlier. While the forced baptism of a non-Christian is an objectively and ideologically good idea, it does not respect the underlying covenant of persons involved: including the Persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Infant baptism does not fall under this category because a baptized infant will later have the chance to accept or reject the faith at Confirmation (although the decision is not limited to this Sacrament by time and place).

The Anabaptists, those against infant baptism, take the ideological stance that infants are incapable of receiving salvation at baptism. Therefore, they replace the Sacrament of Confirmation with Baptism later in life, as though baptism did not bring about an ontological change in the person, but was merely based on decision. The Amish in particular, will require their candidates for baptism to spend time away from their tight-knit community in order that they may make an informed decision to join or not to join the group by baptism. Rather than being an offense against the subjectivity of the person in this case, the Anabaptists place too much emphasis on the individual person and not enough on the objective and ontological truths of salvation that accompany baptism. Again, with Catholicism we have a both/and situation against ideology, whereas Anabaptists maintain an either/or approach. (Please see my previous post on Objective and Subjective Solipsism for more information).

Overall, I have laid out an argument that can utlimately be summed up in the differentiation between ideas and persons. The Catholic Church is not a mere framework of ideas, but the living body of her Head, the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus. Unfortunately, many people experience faith as ideology. In reality, the encounter with the Person of Jesus should define a Catholic Christian, and the following of the Lord's commandments should necessarily follow his Person.


Peteybluester said...

If we say 'baptism is the door of faith', then it is unjust to not give someone the door right?
It will be their decision to walk through it or not...

jimminyCricket said...

Integrating/common threads vs. Disintegrating/pillar of salt:
1)Christ/JPII, etc
2)Mass 2x/week nearby, OLD weekly
3)Marriage/Catholic friendships
7)Pattern of living

3)extended family
5)internal criticism

Former list requests:higher salary, work closer to home (maintain nearby Mass,etc.), leadership of SG, public speaking, etc.

Latter list corrections:
focus media use to writing moreso than entertainment, work closer to home, accept family dysfunction, undivided heart,lightheardtedness

FredFlin said...

Freemason reply to Leo XIII:

RightHereRight said...

Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange proposed God as "object" in Thomism, whereas Wojtyla proposed God as "Person":