Archive for January 2nd, 2013

The Common Good pt 1

January 2, 2013


This is the rule of most perfect Christianity, its most exact definition, its highest point, namely, the seeking of the common good … for nothing can so make a person an imitator of Christ as caring for neighbors.

So spoke the great Church Father “golden mouthed” Archbishop of Constantinople  John Chrysostom  who died in 407 CE.

Yes a very old and hallowed tradition. The goods of the earth are meant for the family, the human family. Psalm 24 encapsulates this: “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it.”  This is a cardinal teaching in the Catholic playbook.


Hence one  has a hard time understanding Catholic Republicans whose major impetus seems to be  to defend the 1% over the 99%.The worst examples of this thinking are two avowedly hyper-capitalist  Catholic Republicans  Paul Ryan and John Boehner.These men and many well-heeled Catholics appear captivated by the overwhwlming individualism relentlessly promoted by the hyper capitalism so prevalent in the USA. Catholic social Teaching insists on the wisdom of Psalm 24.We are our brother and sister’s keeper.We need to be innoculated against this death-dealing “greed virus” which has almost managed to submerge the collective ethic of the gospel.

This  virus really accelerated under Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and in Canada under the guy who couldn’t wait to shed  his unionist father’s value system, Brian Mulroney.At one time Republicans in the States were right of centre but were nor rabid–yet. Television and the ad industry had not yet catapulted greed from one of the deadly sins to almost a virtue. Gordon Gecko phrased it well in the 1987 movie Wall Street, “greed is  good”. The  “free market” system was just getting wound up. Grads flocked to Madison Avenue to help create the ersatz needs which capitalism feeds on. By the 90s these same kids were hustling down  to Wall  Street to Lehman Brothers, salomon Brothers  and AIG. They wanted a piece of the action, values be damned. catholic grads were just as rapacious as others.  The common good be damned.



Today we’ve seen the growing gap between workers and CEOs explode to obscene levels.somehow it became acceptable to denigrate working people whose wages had stagnated from the 80s on.

The ultimate naiveté was that people thought the virus  would not effect religion and the life of faith. The truth is the sweet seduction of wealth, power and influence has almost totally corroded the power of religion. The common good became my good.

Harder for a rich man to get to heaven than to pass through the eye of the needle is biblical wisdom

Well, they’re still trying to get through the eye an square the circle.Not possible.

That’s why 1 out of 7 lines in the synoptic gospels are warnings against what wealth will do to you. Human experience tells us our moral lives will be corroded and the common good will be forgotten