Friday, February 03, 2017

I Agree With Everything, Except Your Whole Approach

"Imagine a lawyer returning his fee when he loses a case; imagine a television pundit suddenly admitting that he doesn't know what he is talking about; imagine a Hollywood starlet speaking English; imagine the Cubs winning the World Series; imagine anything most absurd, and you have not yet approached the absurdity of those who claim that Catholic Social Teaching implies the existence of a vast welfare state, bureaucratically organized, unanswerable to the people, undermining families, rewarding lust and sloth and envy, acknowledging no virtue, providing no personal care, punishing women who take care of their children at home, whisking the same children away from parental supervision and into schools designed to separate them from their parents' views of the world, and, for all that, keeping whole segments of the population mired in a cycle of dysfunction, moral squalor, and poverty, while purchasing their votes with money squeezed by force from their neighbors."
--Anthony Esolen (Reclaiming Catholic Social Teaching, 2014)

If this could be considered a theme paragraph, then I have some quibbles. And I should say this first: I am not native to the Left; the Right is my home. (Presuming the categories still have some meaning in some context.) 

If this quoted paragraph represents the book in any way, the book has a grave flaw: It assumes primarily that the distortion of Catholic social doctrine comes from the Left. I can't make that assumption. And I don't think you should, either. 

We don't have to accept a false choice between vice, or economic liberalism. Nor ought we accept that all the critiques of the present system are motivated by those contemptuous of virtue. One of my fears about this book is that it would provide intellectual cover for a peculiar, selective, Rightist reading of our social doctrine. I hope I am wrong.

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