78 thoughts on “Let the Interpretation Commence

  1. The encyclical questions the widespread adoption of air conditioning. Maybe that explains why Jeb, who is from Florida, picks and chooses what he’ll believe.

    Maybe the Reformation would have been started by a Floridian if air conditioning and Francis were both around in the 16th century.

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  2. I don’t read Latin, but I’m thinking “Laudato Si” translates as “This Encyclical sucks”?

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  3. DGH,
    I’m no Roman, but the pontiff made an interesting point…
    “Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion,” the encyclical says. “How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties?”

    May make the left who were looking for religious credibility a little nutzo… And that is good theater!

    http://www.nationaljournal.com/energy/pope-francis-climate-change-and-abortion-are-interrelated-20150618

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  4. It makes the US tax code look simple. Oops, shouldn’t have brought that up or the Bishop of Rome will want to write that as well.

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  5. The Catholic Church: The United States Internal Revenue Service of Religion.

    Apologist Tom tells us it’s almost all optional, so don’t sweat it.

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  6. Now that the new “green” pope has spoken so strongly in favor of environmental controls and Gaia worship, the automobile drivers in this densely populated, heavily RC urban area should be bowing down to me when I’m out and about on my bike instead of trying to run me off the road.

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  7. Gage, as with many papal documents, who will care? We need a novel about a pope who grows frustrated with his failure to get people to follow his instruction and so he resigns and goes into politics.

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  8. “There is no political cause more amenable to the conservative vision than that of the environment.” –Political Philosopher Roger Scruton (Anglican).

    I think most are against the encyclical (without having read it) because they think seeking to limit unnecessary destruction of the God-created natural environment promotes some nebulous left/liberalism- they put on their partisan “thinking” caps.

    Scruton argues environmental conservation should really be considered a patriotic issue. The bellicose Teddy Roosevelt acknowledged that the long-term of our nation depends on it, and I’m with him on that (and little else).

    If all of this means more parkland in Brazil, birds in Cape May, and preservation of our remaining supplies of oil (which we may well need someday and are fools to be digging up now), great.

    Climate Change / Global Warming is a slightly different issue – I’m not convinced on the science of it, myself. If Francis is, then indeed he is offering pious advice – perhaps not ideal for the genre of papal encyclical.

    And whether he himself wrote it or not, his name is on it, so it is his, i.e., ‘The buck stops here.’

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  9. DGH,
    Ah. Yep. Good point. He’s obviously not a 2k Escondido guy.
    Making libs… Cray-cray (sorry… Learned that from my 15 yr old daughter) is a good sport to watch but of course your right. Parsing the papacy is like parsing the FV.
    Hard to do… So u just ¯_(ツ)_/¯

    Learned that from my daughter too… Sorry

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  10. Erik Charter
    Posted June 18, 2015 at 1:20 pm | Permalink
    The Catholic Church: The United States Internal Revenue Service of Religion.

    Apologist Tom tells us it’s almost all optional, so don’t sweat it.

    Y’all’s distortions of what I say are bad enough, but distorting what I didn’t even say is a new level of Old Life wack.

    As for Darryl’s confused rant here, Benedict explicitly says in Caritas in Veritate [2009]

    The Church does not have technical solutions to offer and does not claim “to interfere in any way in the politics of States”

    I’m a skeptic on warmism, but something is happening. The question of degree of harm is technical, as is the cost-benefit analysis of what we can do about it. But it’s entirely proper for the pope to open dialogue on the issue.

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  11. D. G. Hart
    Posted June 18, 2015 at 2:52 pm | Permalink
    “I’m a skeptic on warmism”

    How are you doing, vd, t, with the resurrection?

    It’s always so odd when you change the subject like this, especially making a gotcha game out of your own religious beliefs. It seems, I dunno, profane. I suppose it might be to deflect from this essay not holding up very well under closer inspection. There’s really nothing untoward about Francis’s actions; Benedict and JPII made similar noises.

    http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Blog/3601/if_pope_francis_is_a_radical_environmentalist_what_was_pope_benedict_xvi.aspx

    As to your question, if God could become man, He certainly could rise from the dead. Indeed, if He doesn’t, the Christian narrative doesn’t really make any sense.

    1 Corinthians 15:12-20 12: “Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13: But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15: Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16: For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18: Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19: If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 20: But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.”

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  12. Kevin,

    The issue those who object to the Encyclical likely have is that the Pope has no clue how wealth is created or what it takes to run an enterprise that employs people. What does the Church produce? They rely on charity and pay/pray/obey for their material survival. For once it would be nice if he would say “thanks!” to capitalism vs. always looking down his nose at it. That’s what liberals do. Liberals usually reside in liberal institutions.

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  13. Kevin – and preservation of our remaining supplies of oil (which we may well need someday and are fools to be digging up now), great.

    Erik – I would leave that decision to the owners of said oil and the marketplace to decide, not to a religious leader in Rome (formerly in Argentina).

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  14. From the WSJ last weekend:

    Notable & Quotable: Milton Friedman

    ‘Is there some society you know that doesn’t run on greed?’

    June 14, 2015 5:49 p.m. ET

    193 COMMENTS

    From an interview with economist Milton Friedman by television talk-show host Phil Donahue in 1979:

    Phil Donahue: When you see around the globe the maldistribution of wealth, the desperate plight of millions of people in underdeveloped countries, when you see so few haves and so many have-nots, when you see the greed and the concentration of power, did you ever have a moment of doubt about capitalism and whether greed’s a good idea to run on?

    Milton Friedman: Well, first of all, tell me, is there some society you know that doesn’t run on greed? You think Russia doesn’t run on greed? You think China doesn’t run on greed? What is greed? Of course none of us are greedy. It’s only the other fellow who’s greedy. The world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interests. The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus. Einstein didn’t construct his theory under order from a bureaucrat. Henry Ford didn’t revolutionize the automobile industry that way. In the only cases in which the masses have escaped from the kind of grinding poverty you’re talking about, the only cases in recorded history are where they have had capitalism and largely free trade. If you want to know where the masses are worst off, it’s exactly in the kinds of societies that depart from that. So that the record of history is absolutely crystal clear that there is no alternative way, so far discovered, of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by a free enterprise system.

    Donahue: But it seems to reward not virtue as much as ability to manipulate the system.

    Friedman: And what does reward virtue? . . . I think you’re taking a lot of things for granted. Just tell me where in the world you find these angels who are going to organize society for us.

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  15. #thisisthesubjectchangercallingthesubjectchangersubjectchanger

    Glad to see you affirm the resurrection and the Bible. Just testing where you belief in science begins and ends. I recall you had a little trouble with the First Adam.

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  16. All,

    Actually, I just read the first quarter of Laudato Si (Italian, not Latin, as indicated in its first sentence – sorry to be the schoolmarm, Erik). Since few will actually read it, I’ve summarized a section I found of great interest.

    FYI, he disclaims the Church’s authority to determine the science of climate change (61).

    Addressing ecological issues requires consideration of social issues (49) such as loans by wealthy nations and international bodies (c.f. Confessions of an Economic Hitman?, although he doesn’t name names) which impoverish poor countries and require them to implement birth control (50).

    Multinational corporations (51) catering to short-sighted consumerism interfere with the political process (54) and enable a culture devoted to financial speculation (56) which is incapable of honoring God as Creator; “this is how we end up worshipping earthly powers, or ourselves usurping the place of God”; by putting an end to man’s absolute claim of dominion over the earth (only God’s claim is absolute), we make it more difficult for them to “try to impose their own laws and interests
    on reality.” (75)

    “Selective consumerism” is a pervasive problem, and the refusal to acknowledge the totality of God’s plan for creation is often nothing more than the result of special interests’ attempts “to legitimize the present model of distribution,” which is no friend to the poor or a legitimate spirituality (50).

    I’d suggest anyone mildly interested read the paragraphs I cite (and skip the earlier ones summarizing environmental issues). Of particular interest may be “Wisdom of the Biblical Accounts” (65-75).

    Seems like a valuable and permanent contribution to Catholic Social Teachings to me.

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  17. Erik – I generally agree with your policy positions. As an aside, the peak oil alarmists didn’t foresee that technical breakthroughs like fracking would unlock vast stores of oil or that imaging technology would allow exploration companies to discover huge new pools of black gold. Malthusian theories are tedious.

    As for the Bishop of Rome (henceforth the BoR), my own pious advice is that he stick to the ministry of word and sacrament.

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  18. At those L.A. cocktail parties Tom’s social peers find the idea of a literal Adam preposterous, while they’re completely open to the idea of Christ’s resurrection.

    No they’re not.

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  19. Kevin,

    So in other words there is nothing in there that some bearded crazy man in a cabin in the wilds of Montana couldn’t come up with as a critique of markets and capitalism.

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  20. “by putting an end to man’s absolute claim of dominion over the earth (only God’s claim is absolute), we make it more difficult for them to “try to impose their own laws and interests on reality.”

    What does this even mean?

    Since when does reality care what laws and interests are imposed upon it?

    Last I checked, reality was reality. Liberals are the ones who spend all their time trying to deny it.

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  21. “in a competitive religious marketplace; give the people what they want.”

    seems to be what the Lord is allowing, for a time: if it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether multiple gods, man, moroni, etc. Josh 24: 15

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  22. Erik – Or a bearded crazy man writing in the British Library for 12 years.

    Hint: I prefer Groucho.

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  23. Publius,

    “As an aside, the peak oil alarmists didn’t foresee that technical breakthroughs like fracking would unlock vast stores of oil or that imaging technology would allow exploration companies to discover huge new pools of black gold. ”

    There is some merit to thinking we will overcome projected limitations/problems by our technical prowess and ingenuity (the Audi fuel breakthrough a few weeks ago just one example), but it’s a bit naive to just assume that we will and so we can just keep on chugging along without a care because surely “we’ll figure something out before things get bad”. And alarmist rhetoric can actually help to motivate those very breakthroughs – see Elon Musk and others.

    Erik,

    Yes and part of Milton’s points elsewhere is that government interference has given rise to the corporate special interest groups and lobbyists. That’s pretty much become part of “capitalism” now whether we like it or not. Critics of the status quo are not automatically Marxist socialists.

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  24. Clete – And alarmist rhetoric can actually help to motivate those very breakthroughs – see Elon Musk and others.

    Erik – You never heard of the Boy Who Cried Wolf?

    Alarmist rhetoric mostly just causes people to tune everything out. We’re numb to it.

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  25. Clete – Yes and part of Milton’s points elsewhere is that government interference has given rise to the corporate special interest groups and lobbyists. That’s pretty much become part of “capitalism” now whether we like it or not. Critics of the status quo are not automatically Marxist socialists.

    Erik – It’s called “rent seeking” and it’s quite old.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rent-seeking

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  26. The whole question of whether what the Pope is saying is correct or not is way less interesting than the question that Darryl raises- What separates what he is doing from what the PCUSA does with the exception that he’s still a (nonjudgmental) prude about sex and the PCUSA is not?

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  27. Erik –

    1) “So in other words there is nothing in there that some bearded crazy man in a cabin in the wilds of Montana couldn’t come up with as a critique of markets and capitalism.”

    I think the key difference (aside from the beard) is that many do in fact listen to him, at least intermittently (witness press coverage, at times coyly cultivated), and that greater countenance may be given to just criticisms of particular economic arrangements.

    “Markets and capitalism” are two terms used in a variety of ways… I like what I’ve heard of the postwar WWII “social market economics” that led to the “German Economic Miracle.” Unfortunately, I understand these policies have been diminished by increasing socialism. But I’m not at all well-read in economics.

    2) “by putting an end to man’s absolute claim of dominion over the earth (only God’s claim is absolute), we make it more difficult for them to “try to impose their own laws and interests on reality.” – What does this even mean? – Since when does reality care what laws and interests are imposed upon it? – Last I checked, reality was reality. Liberals are the ones who spend all their time trying to deny it.

    My summary truncates things a bit. Agreed, ideological liberalism constitutes a denial of reality (or an attempt), and yet it really motivates people. So somehow we should address it for the good of our society and implementing the Christian vision.

    I think those who deny their place in society, in history, as a part of families, their own sex, the clear consequences of their own actions, etc. can be said to impose their own laws and interests on reality. Perhaps it’s a manner of speech – but there cases in which man has an immoral desire, formulates its fulfillment as a universal law, and the rest of us have to deal with the consequences. This law is not a true law, but a false idea like ‘pornography is free speech’.

    As for interests, examples aren’t far to come by: permission to transfer pharmaceutical patents to Bermudan subsidiaries and thereby generate an on-paper license fee loss resulting in $0 in US corporate taxes paid; influencing municipal or state governments to use eminent domain to award privately held land to private corporations; the pure frivolity of at least the bulk of contemporary popular entertainments which encourages a solipsism (Like, Oh My God!, He Was Totally, Like) which keeps the advertisers on board.

    Just my thoughts, I’m not infallible when it comes to interpreting Francis.

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  28. Erik – Rent-seeking. Exactly. And the poster boy for rent-seeking is? Elon Musk. Solar City and Tesla would not exist – and are totally uneconomic without – the massive the government subsidies included in the stimulus. He’s basically the corporate version of a welfare queen, living out his dreams on someones else’s dime. He’s a brilliant guy, but the government should not be bankrolling his endeavors. That’s why we have VCs and capital markets.

    Cletus – As for alternatives to carbon based fuels I say, let’s do it. But the best way forward is to let free people figure it out for themselves. Government planning begs for corruption and inefficiency. In the same way the BoR should stick to ministering word and sacrament the gubmint (what some of us like to call “the civil magistrate”) should stick to administering basic justice, the common defense, and public administration.

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  29. Publius,

    “Government planning begs for corruption and inefficiency”

    I agree – it was Audi after all that developed it, not “Central State Energy of Germany”. But let’s not overstate things – even Friedman admitted the government should be responsible for implementing and planning certain things that should not be privatized.

    “In the same way the BoR should stick to ministering word and sacrament the gubmint (what some of us like to call “the civil magistrate”) should stick to administering basic justice, the common defense, and public administration.”

    Okay so you don’t want the BoR to outline public policy for the environment. Do you want the BoR to affirm and recommend we be responsible and prudent stewards of creation? Similarly, you presumably do not think the BoR should outline economic policy correct? Given that, should he also not call for a just wage at all?

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  30. Darryl,

    Will you be leading the call to dismantle General Assemblies, get rid of the home office in Willow Grove, and dismantle the Committees on Christian Education, Home Missions and Church Extension, and Foreign Missions?

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  31. Darryl – Precisely. Glad to see you are picking up exactly what I am putting down.

    Cletus – Ah yes, Willow Grove the next Papal States. The building at 607 N Easton reminds me of nothing so much as St Peter’s. And the GA in Sioux City is more or less the same as summering at Castel Gandolfo. But where were the Swiss Guards?

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  32. Erik –

    Special interests subverting our political structures are a real problem with real effects. When farm leaders in the 1980s appealed to Fed Chair Paul Volcker for relief on crushing interest rates, his response was “Look, your constituents are unhappy, mine aren’t.”

    Are the powerful segments in government looking out for the common good, or do they have constituents other than every citizen of the USA?

    If the problem can be admitted, shouldn’t we then praise those who seek in good faith to use the power they have to address it, according to the social and institutional roles they hold?

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  33. Publius,

    So it is not bureaucracy thats the problem, just the scale? I do not think Havana reminded people of the Kremlin and Red Square.

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  34. And no fair criticizing me for writing “are” when I should have written “is.” I’m walking through traffic (past homeless people) in Manhattan.

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  35. “So it is not bureaucracy thats the problem, just the scale?”

    A bureaucracy by definition is large scale.

    This is why we can’t trust you, vd, c. You try to hard to say that Budweiser is good beer.

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  36. “So it is not bureaucracy thats the problem, just the scale?”

    A bureaucracy by definition is large scale.

    Right.

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  37. D. G. Hart
    Posted June 18, 2015 at 4:33 pm | Permalink
    vd, t doesn’t your rejection of fundamentalism run up against the resurrection? There are ways of finding the spirit of 1 Cor 15.

    Previously asked and answered. It was a very good discussion we all had here at your blog, even Erik. Shame you missed it.

    http://www.theaunicornist.com/2014/12/can-ed-feser-save-adam-and-eve.html

    But back to business, Butch–you’re clearly not interested in this metaphysical hoohah and instead have moved on to the next game. But before we do, as Augustine warned about getting all literal on Genesis: If you want to insist on a literal Adam, you risk bringing your own religion into disrepute, which IMO you have. A literal genetic Adam is as scientifically untenable as the Mormon claim that the American Indians were genetically Jewish. [They ain’t.]

    Per 1 Cor 15, the reply is yes and no. As a historian, you’re well aware that the even the “unitarian” scientist/theologian Joseph Priestley–who disbelieved Jesus was God–still believed in the Resurrection and that Jesus was the Messiah, that God had sent his only Son to reveal the New Testament, the Good News of salvation, directly to man.

    So, the infidel Priestley still holds half a loaf–Jesus’s resurrection, hence an afterlife.

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  38. Publius – And the GA in Sioux City is more or less the same as summering at Castel Gandolfo

    Erik – Sioux Center is way nicer than Sioux City. OPC delegates aren’t martyrs.

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  39. vd, t “If you want to insist on a literal Adam, you risk bringing your own religion into disrepute”

    By that standard, the resurrection brings Christianity into disrepute.

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  40. Tom forgets how little Calvinists care about good PR. Remember that predestination thing you criticize us for?

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  41. D. G. Hart
    Posted June 19, 2015 at 1:56 pm | Permalink
    vd, t “If you want to insist on a literal Adam, you risk bringing your own religion into disrepute”

    By that standard, the resurrection brings Christianity into disrepute.

    Not so. We discussed all this. You’re unnecessarily complicating the Genesis issue, as Augustine warned against.

    However the claim of Jesus as both God and man is in a different category. By blowing it on something as obvious as Adam, you destroy your credibility on Jesus. You read Mencken, you know the Monkey Trial, Dr. History.

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  42. Erik Charter
    Posted June 19, 2015 at 2:19 pm | Permalink
    Tom,

    How did you make out in Vegas? Up or down?

    See any good shows?

    Lost about 50 bucks, which is really only 10 dollars a day. The price of fun. No high roller, I.

    Saw the Avengers movie, got a comp. That’s about it, our yearly trip, 29th anniversary. Low key. Thx for asking. 😉

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  43. TVD –

    The link you posted is based upon a challenge issued to evolutionary biologists – what would have to be true for the Biblical account of A&E to be true (ran across it last year). The proposals are interesting in a speculative sense (heresy can be interesting, but we still have to reject it, not that I’m saying everything there is necessarily heretical: http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/so-you-dont-believe-in-adam-and-eve-ask-an-atheist-for-advice/).

    I don’t think there is adequate evidence to compel us to accept evolution (c.f. David Berlinski).

    I also find it interesting the Chinese, Mayan, Indian, Near Eastern, etc. calendars don’t go back before 6000 bc or so.

    I believe A&E were real people, created by God, and possessed of Original Sin, which they subsequently passed down to the human race. As to the origins of man beyond that, I don’t know. If science can offer additional illumination, great, but I’m hesitant to adopt fantastic or fashionable theories.

    Atheists already think I’m nuts for believing a piece of bread will infallibly turn into God following the recitation of a series of words by a priest.

    Catholics ought not to care overly for PR either – I admire all men who don’t mind the ridicule of the world, Oldlifers included.

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  44. “Not so. We discussed all this. You’re unnecessarily complicating the Genesis issue, as Augustine warned against.”
    Yes we did. Mtx took you to the woodshed over this. The bigger sticking point is that you denied physical death of human beings entered because of Adam & Eve’s sin (whether you understand them to be historical people or literary representatives of the first bearers of God’s Image). This is much more problematic and does not rest on a literal reading of Genesis but on a literal reading of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. Your conclusion was that the dogmatic statement from an ecumenical council asserting this was wrong. Interesting conclusion indeed! As a prot, no problemo (come on in, the water’s warm…at least once you get used to it), but for an RC – well you are entering into Wills’s territory. If the ecumenical council could get a dogmatic statement wrong, then the whole CtC apologetic collapses. And Susan’s epistemic superiority goes poof.

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  45. Tom,

    If you want to insist on a literal Adam, you risk bringing your own religion into disrepute, which IMO you have. A literal genetic Adam is as scientifically untenable as the Mormon claim that the American Indians were genetically Jewish. [They ain’t.]

    I’d highly recommend John H. Walton’s work on the compatibility of a real, historical Adam (or literal), and modern science’s evolutionary claims. The fact of the matter is that evolution does no violence to the claims of Genesis, once they are understood in their proper cultural and historical context. I’d maintain it’s also possible to maintain Reformed federalism and the historicity of Adam and to grant modern scientific claims. I’m probably in the minority here, but I don’t think that Science or Scripture properly understood are at odds.

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  46. And Susan’s epistemic superiority goes poof.

    That happened about the time our resident skeptic authoritatively declared her to be the reincarnation of Bellarmine and her arguments were unanswerable.

    Now we are told that the first Adam can by mythic, but not the second.
    Uh huh.

    Where did this guy say he goes to church?
    He didn’t and he doesn’t.
    Figures.

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  47. vd, t, now you side with Mencken?

    Earlier you were defending the Crusades.

    In the spirit of Mencken, you are entertaining — especially when you don’t sing.

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  48. @Jed If you haven’t seen it before, Biologos has a nice primer on why genetic sequencing implies modern humans could not have descended from a single couple. Walton supports a view that holds A&E as archetypal even if there was a historical Adam.

    I’m very sympathetic to this view, but then there is the question of death. If death isn’t a consequence of sin, then I have a hard time understanding what the resurrection is all about (won’t are glorified bodies just die again?). The thread running through scripture is sin=death, !sin=!death, Christ’s work has defeated sin and death, therefore, the believer looks forward to eternal life with a resurrected body. It seems to me that scripture teaches that there is a discontinuity pre/post fall. Is it really just a discontinuity of perspective? I think the parallels with Christ and the hope of a future resurrection of the body rule that out.

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  49. D. G. Hart
    Posted June 19, 2015 at 3:36 pm | Permalink
    vd, t, now you side with Mencken?

    Earlier you were defending the Crusades.

    In the spirit of Mencken, you are entertaining — especially when you don’t sing.

    Incoherent as usual.

    The irony is that instead of leading the Presbyterian Church, the clever ones like you and Machen self-marginalize. By bringing orthodoxy into disrepute by insisting on the unnecessary and untenable, you helped bury it.

    In matters that are so obscure and far beyond our vision, we find in Holy Scripture passages which can be interpreted in very different ways without prejudice to the faith we have received. In such cases, we should not rush in headlong and so firmly take our stand on one side that, if further progress in the search of truth justly undermines this position, we too fall with it.–Augustine

    It is you who marginalize orthodoxy; it is you that makes “one holy catholic and apostolic” church impossible. That’s the irony here, Dr. Hart. The PCUSA did what people do, built a Golden Calf. It is you smart guys who dropped the ball, or rather took your ball and left, pride over prudence.

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  50. Machen didn’t so much leave as he got the boot. If your choices are knuckling under to liberalism or getting the boot, it’s not so bad to get booted.

    http://www.opc.org/books/conflict/ch8.html

    “Thus ended the trial of the Rev. J. Gresham Machen, D.D., Litt.D., before the Special Judicial Commission of the Presbytery of New Brunswick. Dr. Machen appealed the decision to the Permanent Judicial Commission of the General Assembly, but he lost the appeal and was suspended from the ministry of the church.[31] The years that have intervened only make the decision all the more unfair and sad. This travesty of justice remains as a blot on the history of the Presbyterian Church in the USA, and as an illustration that history repeats itself. The church is once more in a state of apostasy and spiritual decay, for how else could it ‘excommunicate’ one of its greatest and most valiant soldiers of the truth?”

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  51. Erik Charter
    Posted June 19, 2015 at 5:34 pm | Permalink
    Machen didn’t so much leave as he got the boot. If your choices are knuckling under to liberalism or getting the boot, it’s not so bad to get booted.

    I don’t think you’re following the argument. Machen could have shut up and lived to reform his church another day. His soul was in no danger over the mission issue. The irony is that he helped bury orthodoxy by abandoning his church to liberalism, as do many orthodox types who win the battle and lose the war.

    This is exactly what Francis is dealing with. He is not changing orthodoxy as promulgated by Pope Ratzinger; what he IS doing is pastorship. You do not save the church by emptying it; the shepherd does not look at the lost sheep and say, the hell with him. One way to preserve orthodoxy is to spirit it way and set up a new church, but this brings splinter after splinter, schism after schism. This, frankly, is the fruit of the Reformation, and I don’t think the sola scriptura case for endless schism over theological hairsplitting is very strong.

    Hey, I dig and respect orthodoxy, whether or not I embrace it. I admire Jews who live the Law and I wouldn’t give you a shekel for those who don’t. I just see an irony in that the greatest and ablest defenders of orthodoxy such as Machen help bring about its defeat, with pigheadedness over inessentials like this.

    Truth is good, but wisdom is the prudent use of it once you’ve got it. Any fool can use the Bible as a weapon, as a club. But this isn’t how a proper shepherd goes about things.

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  52. Tom,

    The trick is knowing what you can tolerate and what you can’t.

    To be a pillar of orthodoxy in the midst of a bunch of clowns may not necessarily be the way to go. Why? Because clowns begat more clowns.

    It might be preferable to go hang out with serious people.

    Same thing with a team or a company. The bad drives out the good.

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  53. Kind of like solidifying the Cavaliers for a playoff run — by bringing in some Knicks. Didn’t work out so well.

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  54. Erik Charter
    Posted June 19, 2015 at 6:22 pm | Permalink
    Tom,

    The trick is knowing what you can tolerate and what you can’t.

    Well, that isn’t pastorship. Preserving orthodoxy by stealing off with it and leaving them to build their Golden Calf doesn’t ring true to me.

    The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

    Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

    Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”

    Well, the Catholic interpretation of this is pretty obvious. But even in the Protestant context, you can’t feed his sheep if you abandon them. Remember, Exodus shows us that once Moses turns his back, the default of mankind is the Golden Calf.

    To be a pillar of orthodoxy in the midst of a bunch of clowns may not necessarily be the way to go. Why? Because clowns begat more clowns.

    It might be preferable to go hang out with serious people.

    Same thing with a team or a company. The bad drives out the good.

    The future of the Reformation in a nutshell, I make it, specifically when it comes to orthodoxy. There is no safe haven.

    Like

  55. D. G. Hart
    Posted June 19, 2015 at 11:04 pm | Permalink
    #icanspellincoherent

    D. G. Hart
    Posted June 19, 2015 at 11:06 pm | Permalink
    vd, t, what does it matter whether Machen or Francis save orthodoxy since everyone will be saved anyway (except for Esau)?

    The better question is, “If you’re Elect, why does anything else matter? And if you’re not Elect, what’s the damned difference?”

    Anybody can overturn the chessboard, Butch.

    Like

  56. Father Dwight counsels, take it with a grain of salt:

    Can one be a good Catholic and dissent from Laudato Si’? The question is not only one for head-scratching journalists. I had an e-mail from a reader in the Midwest who said, “I’m an ordinary farmer who is preparing to be received into the Catholic Church. I’m excited by taking this step, but I don’t know what to make of the pope’s global warming ideas. I think he’s wrong. Does that mean I shouldn’t become a Catholic?” I wrote back assuring him that the pope’s encyclical was not an infallible teaching and explained that three conditions had to be met for a teaching to be infallible:

    The teaching is on faith and morals

    The pope is speaking in his role of universal pastor

    He has to state that the teaching is infallible

    In the case of Laudato Si’ Pope Francis is not speaking to the faithful on matters of faith and morals, but has stated that he is speaking to everyone on the planet. His encyclical is a discussion document. He is proposing, not imposing. Throughout the encyclical, his phrasing is cautious and undogmatic, and he specifically calls for discussion and dialogue. . . .

    My own attitude to Laudato Si’ is one of critical enthusiasm. I think the pope could have used a good editor. The encyclical is verbose and often vague. I share William Oddie’s concerns about the pope’s choice of advisors and his enthusiasm for an agenda that has been highly politicized. I worry that some passages are unduly sentimental and think the sections on possible solutions go into far too much detail. I question whether a papal encyclical is the proper channel for those proposals.

    On the other hand, I very much appreciate the pope’s critique of the greed and relativism that cause pollution and environmental disaster. I like his prophetic stance against individualism and the unthinking domination of mankind over creation. He is right to challenge our assumptions that all technoscientific advances are inherently good. His insistence that we cannot care for the environment while slaughtering the unborn, trafficking in human beings, neglecting the disabled and immigrants is brilliant, and his emphasis on the connectedness of all creation and his lyrical mysticism is inspiring and attractive.

    Can a good Catholic dissent from Laudato Si’? Sure — if we do so in a positive and creative spirit. It’s perfectly acceptable to question the detail of the pope’s teachings in an attitude of submission and the desire to learn and understand more fully. It’s not acceptable to simply trash the whole thing, give a finger to the pope, and go your own way. We may dispute the detail while still giving assent to the overall moral teaching.

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  57. How to follow Pope Francis and not give up national parks:

    Dear Tree hugger,

    This is not a trivial or self-centered concern: it goes far beyond a question about how to spend your summer vacation. As Pope Francis wrote in his recent encyclical, “Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last 200 years.” The earth is a gift to us from God, he wrote, and it is our responsibility to protect and nurture it, as we would any other sacred gift.

    But how does one do this, in practice? Especially, as you note, when defiling the land is often the perfectly legal and culturally acceptable path of least resistance.

    What makes your question especially resonant is your motivation: you want to join the convoys of polluters and litterers traveling to the parks exactly because of your love of nature, because you respect it, and want to share your love with your family. And, let’s face it, even if you’re driving a huge RV and throwing Styrofoam cups out the window, this hardly compares to the environmental damage done by corporations and governments: the fracking, dumping, polluting and poisoning condoned every day by industry without regard for future consequences.

    My solution is to find some ethical equilibrium.

    Your love of nature is beautiful, and your wish to make it a family legacy honorable. So go to the parks. And during the winter months, pick an environmental cause and fight for it – hard — with time or money.

    Certain environmental groups are trying to address just the kind of environmental erosion that concerns you, by proposing legislation that limits four-wheelers and snowmobiles in parks; restricts the number of helicopter tours; allows visitors access to some of the most pristine places only by lottery. All the national and state parks offer volunteer opportunities in the off season, such as picking up litter or maintaining trails. By working on behalf of the nature you love, you show your children not just that nature is lovely to look at but also that it’s worth fighting for.

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  58. Pope Francis may have been speaking to everyone, but Republicans are not heeding everything he said:

    Jeb Bush, for example, said he agrees with Francis that human activity has contributed to global warming, but does not go as far as the pope, who holds people, not nature, mainly responsible. “I don’t go to Mass for economic policy or for things in politics,” Bush added.

    Campaigning in Iowa on Thursday, GOP presidential contender Bobby Jindal said Francis’ call to regulate the economy to assist the poor overlooks the principle that a less constrained economy can benefit the poor.

    “The best way to lift people out of poverty and improve incomes for men and women is to provide more good paying jobs,” the Louisiana governor said in an emailed statement. And he said that’s done with policies that help small businesses grow, not by government “edicts.”

    Both Bush and Jindal are Roman Catholic.

    Their opinion is echoed by many conservative Republican activists in Iowa and elsewhere.

    “I think he’s got it all wrong,” Loras Schulte, a Catholic and a state Republican committee member from northeast Iowa, said of Francis. “On matters of faith, I will certainly hear him. But these are not matters of faith.”

    Steve Scheffler, a Republican and leader in the state’s evangelical Christian community, said Francis’ writings may peel some Catholics away from the coalition of evangelical pastors and conservative priests united by their position on issues like abortion.

    While Scheffler said that would be unlikely to affect the state’s Republican caucuses in February, it could impact how Iowa votes in November 2016.

    “You see a lot of coalitions of Catholics and evangelicals working on the life issue together,” Scheffler said. “You could lose some Catholics to this. Some priests buy into that whole social justice, income distribution thing. But not all of them.”

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  59. ~But it is ok to ignore the Pope, because the ‘Catholic’ Republicans are serious on ending abortion, waging only just foreign wars, promoting economic policies that result in wages adequate that a mother can stay home to raise her kids should she choose, and promoting political localism.~

    Like

  60. Something did change after all, says Rusty Reno:

    Let me be clear. I’m not criticizing Laudato Si for its substantive claims. … I agree with Pope Francis’s main point. Although I would put the substantive issues differently, I share his view that the triumph of global capitalism poses significant and fundamental challenges that we must address—and that are going to be difficult to address because of the technocratic domination of our moral imaginations and the very terms of public debate.

    All the more reason why we need teaching, not just exhortation and denunciation. It won’t do to blame our difficulties on “those who consume and destroy,” or to insinuate, as Francis so often does, that the rich and powerful stand in the way of ecological ideals and a just social order. This is cheap populism that falsifies reality. The global ecological movement is a rich-country phenomenon funded and led by the One Percent. And it’s beside the point. If global warming presents such an immediate and dire threat, then we need clearly enunciated principles to guide our participation in debates about what’s to be done, not rhetoric. The same is true of the pressing need to encourage economic development that promotes human dignity.

    … Smart theologians need to apply themselves to redeem the hints and suggestions of a cogent argument [in Laudato Si]. I hope that happens. But as it stands, the encyclical is a weak teaching document.

    This weakness reflects a reality about today’s Catholic Church. After Vatican II, the intellectual life of the Church was profoundly affected by the Great Disruption. The old scholastic systems were superseded by a wide variety of experimental theologies. I don’t gainsay the need for and value of some of those experiments. But we can’t deny the debilitating consequences. The theological formation of church leaders became eclectic at best, incoherent at worst. This has especially been true in the area of social justice. In that domain, which came to the fore after the council, the urgent need to advocate has often overwhelmed the need for patient, disciplined reflection. We see exactly this dynamic in Laudato Si.

    So if we, as Catholics, are to be honest with ourselves, we must allow that we face a difficult season, at least as far as theological cogency is concerned. The men trained in the coherent old theological systems of the ­pre–Vatican II era have passed from the scene. The Church is now led by men who came of age during the Great Disruption. This will have an effect on Church teaching, I’m afraid, and it won’t be in the direction of consistency and clarity.

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  61. Pope Francis wants change too:

    We need change

    “Let us begin by acknowledging that change is needed….

    Do we realize that something is wrong in a world where there are so many farmworkers without land, so many families without a home, so many laborers without rights, so many persons whose dignity is not respected?

    Do we realize that something is wrong where so many senseless wars are being fought and acts of fratricidal violence are taking place on our very doorstep? Do we realize something is wrong when the soil, water, air and living creatures of our world are under constant threat?

    So let’s not be afraid to say it: we need change; we want change.”

    The change must be structural

    “…let us not be afraid to say it: we want change, real change, structural change.”

    “We want change in our lives, in our neighborhoods, in our everyday reality. We want a change which can affect the entire world, since global interdependence calls for global answers to local problems. The globalization of hope, a hope which springs up from peoples and takes root among the poor, must replace the globalization of exclusion and indifference!”

    There is an unjust global system that results in exclusion

    “I wonder whether we can see that these destructive realities are part of a system which has become global. Do we realize that that system has imposed the mentality of profit at any price, with no concern for social exclusion or the destruction of nature?”

    Would this mean changing the globalism of papal supremacy?

    Like

  62. Perhaps reflecting on the conceptual distinction between “good” and “bad” would resolve that question.

    Although public image aside, he seems to be the most authoritarian pope we’ve had in a very long time.

    Like

  63. And here I thought the point of being Roman Catholic was all the unity:

    The Vatican’s financial chief, Cardinal George Pell, has taken the unusual step of criticizing Pope Francis’ groundbreaking environmental encyclical, arguing the Catholic Church has “no particular expertise in science.”

    Nearly 18 months after Pell was brought to the Vatican by Pope Francis and given a mandate to reform the city-state’s banking affairs, the Australian cardinal gave an interview to the Financial Times, whacking his boss’ landmark document.

    “It’s got many, many interesting elements. There are parts of it which are beautiful,” he said. “But the Church has no particular expertise in science …. the Church has got no mandate from the Lord to pronounce on scientific matters. We believe in the autonomy of science,” Pell told the Financial Times on Thursday.

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