Saturday, April 23, 2011

Pope John XXII and the Franciscan ideal of absolute poverty by Melanie Brunner (via

If you think community is so important, then why aren't you living in accordance with what you teach?

More thoughts on the topic of this post.

What about the scholastics? Is their witness diminished because so many of them did not labor where they came from, but were instead teaching at "international" centers of learning? They can be defended because they had been excused from family and communal duties because they had been set aside for God and His work.

I also note that it seems that the treatment of community and its origins in their political treatises and commentaries on Aristotle is short, if not "dry"short if not "dry" because the nature of communal life and how it came to be was not at issue in that day; it was simply taken for granted. Could they have imagined the various social and technological changes that have made modern atomistic living possible? As Fr. Cessario pointed out in class one time, the reason why the medievals didn't write much on the community is because they were living it. It is a more developed topic for us and the subject for so much spilled ink precisely because we don't have it.

I think it is correct to say that the teachers at the medieval universities were all clergy, secular priests or religious. When did lay masters first appear at the European universities, and when did they become a significant minority? How did they live up to their duties to family and community? What institutions were there, other than the state, for forming the laity? How much resistance was there to the centralizers of modern Europe, and was any of it found outside the nobility? Was there a lack of training among the elites in political science, or was alienation from the masses a greater factor? That is, the elites fought against centralization in order to maintain power and status, not to protect the communal life of those subordinate to them.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Stabat Mater

Dominican Liturgy: Dominican Chants of Good Friday
Wired: Gut-Bacteria Mapping Finds Three Global Varieties
Science Daily
Press release

An article from 2010.
Query: According to what laws or standards can a reform of the papal government be carried out? It would seem that a reform of the Roman Curial offices is needed, but could they be abolished? Or does the coordinating function of the papacy require some form of the curia to help it? What functions do the various offices serve? It does seem that they exist for the good of the Church Universal. Can we speak of constitutional law with respect to canon law and the various papal decrees on the congregations?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Happiness Manifesto

Via the FB page for The New Economics Foundation:

TEDxDanubia 2011 - Nic Marks - The Happiness Manifesto

The Happiness Manifesto

Lack of moral witness by academics?

I'd rather live as a member of a community than as someone who just talks about community but doesn't live it. Academics may have some sort of communal life, with their colleagues at their institutions or with fellow congregants at church, but I suspect it is rather limited. If they talk about community and political reform then, on what basis can they be credible witnesses to the way of life they are advocating? Their voting record? Their community activism or advocacy? How do they treat their neighbor? The parable of the good Samaritan applies not only to our treatment of (guest-)strangers we find in our midst (the ancient Greeks knew of hospitality as a duty to the gods) but to those with whom we live or have daily dealings.

The American Thing

Some additional thoughts to this post, but on the American polity, or rather, polities.

I wonder, those American Catholics (especially those who adhere to the Nationalist understanding of the Constitution) who talk about subsidiarity, how many of them live in a real community?

I would argue there can be real authority only when there is a real community, and there is shared commitment to the community and the common good. I would question whether those who are prepared to leave, for the sake of better economic opportunity or advancement, can really be considered members of a local community. Without community, can there be real self-rule or real authority at the "lower levels," rather than rule by a "fortunate" few. Even if one is attached to a romantic notion of democracy (i.e. the capacity of most people for self-rule), do they recognize that in such a situation, when true community is absent, that the regime is usually a bad one, with those who rule doing so for the sake of a few and not for the good of the whole? (What whole?)

It may be the case that most states no longer have a real basis for sovereignty (as they lack autarky and true citizenship), but it seems better for us to recover constitutional order for the sake of reform, rather than attempting to start from scratch. There is something to turning to the Constitution and our own legal and constitutional history for the devolution of power. It may be the case that true subsidiarity can only be brought about when the assumption that states are the locus of sovereignty is addressed, but this would be a better way to decentralize, rather than waiting for things to fall apart. As it is, many Catholics seem to ignore the traditional role of the states when discussing subsidiarity, holding to a nationalist conception of the Union and seeing the states as nothing more than administrative units, one more "level" of authority.

Monday, April 18, 2011