Thursday, May 24, 2018

Nuns and guns

Apropos of the last few threads about school shootings and capitalism ...

A group of nuns (including the Dominicans in Adrian, Michigan, who send me updates) bought stock in a gun company and forced it to file a report on how its weapons have been used in school shootings, and what it is doing to make guns safer. They've been trying to tweak corporate consciences for the last 20 years. Read more here.

More information on the group's other activities through the Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center is here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A couple of additional thoughts on Oeconomicae et pecuniariae quaestiones

Yesterday I posted on the Holy See's new document on the financial system and the 2007 financial crisis, Oeconomicae et pecuniariae quaestiones.  In this separate post I'd like to make a few additional observations  that have been spurred by the document.

Economic and financial prudence

Pop quiz time: who wrote the following quotes:

"Profit should be pursued"

"Economic activity cannot be sustained in the long run where freedom of initiative cannot thrive."

"The financial dimension of the business world, focusing business on the access of money through the gateway of the world of stock exchange, is as such something positive"

"Money in itself is a good instrument, as are many other things at the disposal of the human person, as a means to order one's freedom and to expand one's possibilities."

Was it:

a.  Friedrich Hayek
b.  Ludwig von Mises
c.  Milton Friedman
d.  Alan Greenspan

Monday, May 21, 2018

Sorry, I can't fake shock anymore

 Last Wednesday one of the guys in our group said we can’t be missionary disciples if all we offer is  cynicism and sarcasm.
 I was interrupted in taking his words to heart Friday when I heard about the Santa Fe shooting. My reaction was: “OK, roll out the candles and flowers and teddy bears for the standard makeshift memorial, and let’s hear the expressions of  ‘thoughts and prayers’ from the great and good so we can get back to cleaning our weapons for next time.
 “I mean, 10 dead in a school shooting is so routine we can react without taking our minds off the Preakness.”
 Now that is sarcasm. I would argue that sarcasm and cynicism are not the same thing. A cynic has given up on the issue. But a user of sarcasm has given up only on arguing with irrational people; he is trying to deal with them some other way. Cynicism is despair; sarcasm is a sign that hope weakly remains.
 For example, the Parkland kids calling b.s. on “hope and prayers” pushed that knee-jerk meaningless to the edge of the stage. The president got by (barely) without  it:

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Preaching to the royals [Updated]

Well, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are married, so we can all exhale.  I elected not to roll out of bed at 4 am to watch the live coverage.  When, pursuant to the invariable custom in our home, I did emerge from behind the bedroom door to be beset by starving cats at the still-ungodly morning hour of 6:30 or so and switched on NPR for a spot of news, already there were reactions to the homily being reported.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Deacons: who are these guys, anyway?

On May 12, the Chicago Archdiocese ordained 19 men to the diaconate.   The archdiocesan newspaper, the Chicago Catholic, provides a little bio and headshot for each of them.

This is the so-called "permanent" diaconate; these are not the seminarians on the road to priesthood.

My class (2004) also was a class of 19, although in my day that was the English-speaking class; there was a separate ordination for Spanish-speaking men.  I think (but am not certain) that they ordain both language groups in a single ceremony now.  Still a good-size class.

Based on the sketches of each guy, I'd say this is a pretty typical ordination class: the ages range from early 40s to mid 60s; some diversity; most are husbands and fathers.  A handful work full-time for the church but most don't.  Some are certain what ministry they'll be doing, while others seem to have no idea :-).  Some are in the city, some are suburban. 

I think it's interesting and exciting.   It brings back memories for me; formation was a blessed time in my life.  I'll try to post more about that when I get a chance.

If you can spare a prayer for these guys and their wives, children and grandchildren, I'm sure it won't miscarry.

Declining birth rate in US

NPR is reporting that, for the second year in a row, the birth rate in the US declined sharply.  2017 witnessed the fewest number of live births in the US since 1978.  That year, the total US population was about 225 million, a hundred million fewer than today.