Saturday, August 28, 2010

St. Augustine on Emperors and Robber Barons

The great St. Augustine (AD 354–430), bishop of Hippo in Africa, was a man of both philosophy and theology who observed the politics and signs of the times. And he analyzed and exhorted those great and small about justice. A marvelous example follows from his classic, the City of God.

"Kingdoms without justice are similar to robber barons. And so if justice is left out, what are kingdoms except great robber bands? For what are robber bands except little kingdoms? The band also is a group of men governed by the orders of a leader, bound by a social compact, and its booty is divided according to a law agreed upon. If by repeatedly adding desperate men this plague grows to the point where it holds territory and establishes a fixed seat, seizes cities and subdues peoples, then it more conspicuously assumes the name of kingdom, and this name is now openly granted to it, not for any subtraction of cupidity, but by addition of impunity. For it was an elegant and true reply that was made to Alexander the Great by a certain pirate whom he had captured.

"When the king asked him what he was thinking of, that he should molest the sea, he said with defiant independence: “The same as you when you molest the world! Since I do this with a little ship I am called a pirate. You do it with a great fleet and are called an emperor.”---Book 4, Chapter 4, The City of God

"Defiant independence," it is the way of justice, we are taught, in a time of ubiquitous injustice.
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--->Lessons. Chalmers Johnson on the decline of empires, signs of decay...

--->A Farce: The UN's World Youth Conference---PRI Weekly Briefing

--->Joe Sobran The Reluctant Anarchist. Note: It's almost understandable to me (i.e., Mr. Sobran's late anarchism) when I look at baptized Catholic politicians even in Europe throwing away every last one of their Catholic social principles, however miserably these priniples may have been implemented at times in history. Those principles are solid in themselves in every way, and transcendentally grounded to boot. They protect and guide us all the way Home in decency. And then when I look at Newt Gingrich's agenda my revulsion all but hurls me into the "anarchist" camp of Sobran and Dorothy Day, whatever their considerable differences.

What troubles me is that the anarchist principle appears unsustainable: power (not to be confused with authority) arises from organization. If we all lived in small groups and came under attack from other tribes, before you know it we'd be organizing a police force and then an army, however small, for the protection for all. And then we'd be full circle---or am I missing something? Wouldn't we be The System before very long?

So I sigh and settle, with many others, for speaking the Truth about reforms and Catholic principles, about justice, adding one more tiny voice to the wide ripple effect of others from where I am planted.

--->Pastor Joshua Kulendran Mayandy was being treated in a hospital in Brampton, Canada. They have now decided to withhold food and water from him, allowing him to slowly die of dehydration and starvation, just like Terri Schiavo. "We're talking about someone who can communicate, breath and move. If we allow Mayandy to die he will be one of many who have been killed by the culture of death...Pastor Mayandy is being publicly executed because Ontario is going broke"

--->Hitler, the Concordat and Nazi Eugenics: According William L. Shirer in his famous The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, "On July 25, five days after the ratification of the concordat, the German government promulgated a sterilization law, which particularly offended the Catholic Church. Five days later the first steps were taken to dissolve the Catholic Youth League. During the next years, thousands of Catholic priests, nuns and lay leaders were arrested, many of them on trumped-up charges of 'immorality' or 'smuggling foreign currency'. Erich Klausener, leader of Catholic Action, was, as we have seen, murdered in the June 30, 1934, purge. Scores of Catholic publications were suppressed, and even the sanctity of the confessional was violated by Gestapo agents. By the spring of 1937, the Catholic hierarchy, in Germany, which, like most of the Protestant clergy, had tried to co-operate with the new regime, was thoroughly disillusioned." (emphasis mine) In that year, before the war, Pius XI in Mitt Brenner Sorge loudly condemned the Nazi racial ideology and its inhuman program of eugenics.

--->Fr. Brian Harrison writes concerning instances of anti-Catholicism, Eucharistic desecration:

Dear Catholic friends, You may like to consider not only taking out three minutes to sign this petition, but forwarding it to other Catholics on your contact list. It concerns a sacrilegious YouTube video in which a sacred Host is deliberately crushed, burnt and stomped on.

Since YouTube already has a professed anti-"hate" policy and has yielded to earlier Muslim demands to remove an "Islamophobic" video, they must be held to consistency in also removing this kind of "Christophobic" vitriol from the Internet. We Catholics should be remembering what the "Church militant" means and start getting used to being increasingly combative, where necessary, in standing up for our faith. (That's what our sacramental Confirmation commitment is all about.) If we just shrug these things off, we will progressively lose the culture war as anti-Christian harassment increasingly gives way to outright persecution.

Yours in Christ the King,
Fr. Brian Harrison

Note: Clearly these sad people are trying to incite violence as was tried in the so-called No-Nothing persecutions in the 19th century where Catholic immigrants were targeted. We can use this as an opportunity once again to show that our capacity to bear suffering and to make reparation for their grievous acts is greater than their capacity to irrationally inflict suffering. One possible way of reparation can be found on this page.