A STILL MORE EXCELLENT WAY

peacecrossThe comment trails that follow blog posts often veer off into unexpected and fascinating directions.  So it was with the discussion between mastersamwise and Keith DeHavelle. Their discussion was on topic, but still quite odd. did not argue for Socialism per se. Yet he often sounds like he is doing exactly that. Therefore, argued in favor of the free market, and that riled .

What exactly favors with respect to government is not entirely clear. That produce a problem for him. No one knows precisely what he is arguing for. That also produces a problem for those who are uncomfortable with what does make clear. Since we don’t know exactly where stands, we don’t exactly know how to respond to his statements. That I think explains this response from .

Wow, I don’t know how this keeps happening but for some reason, whenever I talk about economic Justice, it is immediately interpreted as “create giant welfare state.” (continued here)

‘s words are oddly reminiscent of the speeches of many politicians. What these politicians propose sounds good, at the end of the speech those with some discernment are left scratching their heads wondering. “So what exactly does he intend to do?” However, I don’t think intends to deceive. Even though is an excellent writer, I don’t think he knows how to express what he wants in words.

Think upon the Kingdom of God. Have any of us the words to describe it? We know it how right the Kingdom of God would be. We long for the Kingdom of God. We pray for it (Matthew 6:9-13), but here and now we cannot make it happen. How could we? We can’t even describe it.

‘s stance, however, is relatively obvious. is a fan of the founders of this nation and the free market. Therefore, debated by turning his own words against his arguments. Here is an example.

@mastersamwise, who wrote:

Ah, I see the disconnect. I believe that each person is bound by common humanity to aid his fellow man in an active and direct way.

And you propose to force him to do so. Your system is “charity at gunpoint” which has always been heavy on the force while the charity corrodes away.

You would have each “individual” build up his own wealth and if scraps happen to fall off his table, then the poor can fight the dogs for it. Genius.

As much as you intended this as sarcasm, the recognition of this reality centuries ago really was genius. But despite your acidic description, things work a little differently. This is especially true now that we are, for the moment, not in an age of serfdom. (continued here)

What was the genius? Each of us really does not know how to love our neighbor, not as we should. , I suspect, pines for the day each of us does know how to love as we should. Like any man, he is a bit frustrated when the world does not behave as it should. , on the hand, has learned to accept that this is the world, not the Kingdom of God. Therefore, he is more prepared to accept people as they are, and it is an observable fact that only few people love their neighbor as they love their self.

How we should tackle the problem of poverty? Is there any hope a government program will work? No. Every government program to redistribute he wealth is eventually overcome by an inherent conflict. We cannot trust the same people who are suppose to protect our property rights with the power to steal from us and give what we earn to others.

So what is the solution? Love.

Long ago the Apostle Paul wrote about cooperation and love. If we wish to achieve anything that bears any resemblance to our notion of the Kingdom, then we must each voluntarily choose to love our neighbor. Nothing else we can do has any hope of working.

1 Corinthians 12:12-13:13 New King James Version (NKJV)

Unity and Diversity in One Body

12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For in fact the body is not one member but many.

15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? 18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. 19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be?

20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, 24 but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, 25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. 28 And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.

The Greatest Gift

13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Can we love perfectly? No, but love is the greatest gift we can share, and no government program can tax love and equitably redistribute it.

The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were and ask “why not?”. — John Fitzgerald Kennedy (from here)

11 thoughts on “A STILL MORE EXCELLENT WAY

  1. Beautiful, Tom! I enjoy both of those bloggers.

    Love is a surprisingly complex thing. There are many today who see socialism as a kind of love and it’s maddening because their intentions are good, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Where I live we decided to love people by raising the minimum wage again. No one would listen to me, but what I tried to speak of has now come to pass, companies laying people off and cutting back their hours. Those who still have their jobs are actually asking for their hours to be reduced because a higher wage means a higher tax bracket, which means the loss of several government benefits and also now having to purchase Obamacare. To make matters worse, when minimum wage went up, so did rent and the costs of goods and services. Our working poor, those we claimed to care about so much, are now worse off and really hurting. If we’re going to genuinely “love people” it has to be less about our own emotions and more about the end results and the quality of life we’re trying to improve.

    On the other side of the political spectrum, someone made a really good argument against defunding planned parenthood or trying to legislate it away. What we have in this country is a heart problem and a need for national repentance, for us to all get on the same page about the immorality of what is happening. Our attempts at legislation are a way of putting a bandaid on something, of trying to quickly fix a problem that emotionally distresses us, when in fact “the problem” is actually only a symptom of the real disease. If we genuinely want to stop what is happening we must address the heart problem, not the legislative problem.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is easy to forget that inflation gets us coming and going. What we have in the bank is worth less, and we get bumped into a higher tax bracket. Increasing the minimum wage has much the same effect. If you are not worth the minimum wage, you lose your job. If your employer thinks you might be worth keeping, the government becomes certain you are more worthy of taxing.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. @insanitybytes22, the last paragraph of your spot-on comment reminded me of a passage from the beginning of Thomas Sowell’s “Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One” (1965). You’ve likely read it before, because you clearly understand it. But here it is again:

      When I was an undergraduate studying economics under Professor Arthur Smithies of Harvard, he asked me in class one day what policy I favored on a particular issue of the times. Since I had strong feelings on that issue, I proceeded to answer him with enthusiasm, explaining what beneficial consequences I expected from the policy I advocated.

      “And then what will happen?” he asked.

      The question caught me off guard. However, as I thought about it, it became clear that the situation I described would lead to other economic consequences, which I then began to consider and to spell out.

      “And what will happen after that?” Professor Smithies asked.

      As I analyzed how the further economic reactions to the policy would unfold, I began to realize that these reactions would lead to consequences much less desirable than those at the first stage, and I began to waver somewhat.

      “And then what will happen?” Smithies persisted.

      By now I was beginning to see that the economic reverberations of the policy I advocated were likely to be pretty disastrous — and, in fact, much worse than the initial situation that it was designed to improve.

      Simple as this little exercise may sound, it goes further than most economic discussions about policies on a wide range of issues. Most thinking stops at stage one.

      – Jeff

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Tom and Keith
    I read through the comments and in my opinion, the conversation overlooked the main topic which is the title of the post, A Still More Excellent Way.

    Pope Francis on November 26, 2013 decried unequal wealth.

    The papal statement, known formally as an apostolic exhortation, is the first to be written by Pope Francis. Using sharply worded phrases, Francis decried “an idolatry of money” and warned it would lead to “ a new tyranny.” And he invoked language with particular resonance in the United States attacking an economic theory most affiliate with conservatives that discourages taxation and regulation.

    (Source Chicago Tribune November 27, 2013)

    When we start talking about the pure economic philosophy of a free market and idolatry of money, the title subject becomes muddled from the Popes message of the effects of idolatry..

    For someone, life is all about money, to another it is not. Whether the differences are in relation to idolatry of money or love, brotherhood, charity, or whatever altruistic motivation is a personal choice we all make when we decide to share our wealth.

    One person may be vexed with giving charity to a lazy sloth, while another has no reservations. Since it is their money, it is their decision.

    However, there is a more excellent way, it is a combination of wisdom and love.

    I believe we should give wisely to the needy only if it will help someone to help themselves in time of need. Problem with government given charity and help is the need seems to perpetuate dependency rather than a setting a mission for the needy to help themselves. That is idolatry of the practice best identified by a lowly insect mentioned in this Proverb.

    The leech has two daughters, Give, Give. (Proverb, 30:15a)

    Any woodsman knows when a leech attaches itself to your skin, the remedy is to give it (rub) salt on it instead of money and it will release itself from you.

    Idolatry is what the Pope is referring to, not free markets, free trade, etc. Reality is we have some very wealthy people who use their wealth to bribe some very desperate people to choose tyranny instead of brotherhood in the world. There is as you say Tom, a more excellent way.

    Love and Wisdom, in my opinion.

    Regards and goodwill blogging.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great comment!

      Since I don’t want to get into debates with Catholics about what Pope Francis said, I have not read what he wrote. Rather than risk sounding like I am slamming the pope, I prefer to discuss the subject itself.

      The Bible clearly states that the “love of money” is the cause of many evils. The Bible also emphasizes the importance of wisdom. Therefore, I appreciate your addition to this post.

      Love without wisdom often enables some very bad behavior.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Incidentally, I read Thomas Merton–I know, his orthodoxy in some matters leaves much to be desired–the other day and he explained my inexplicable allergic reaction I have to the word individual. “The heresy of individualism: thinking oneself a completely self-sufficient unit and asserting this imaginary “unit” against all others. The affirmation of the self-mastery of the self as simply “not the other.” But when you seek to affirm your unity by denying you have anything to do with anyone else, by negating everyone else in the universe….what is there left to affirm? Even if there were something to affirm, you would have no breath left with which to affirm it.”

    Show me the covenant that God made with a single person. In the beginning, He made his covenant with Adam and Eve. Then He made his covenant with Noah and his family. Then He made his covenant with Abraham, Sarah, and their tribe. Then He made his covenant with Moses and the whole nation of the Israelites. Then he makes a covenant by offering his own from what was his own with the whole human race.

    Man was not meant to be alone and so we share in forms of community stemming from the family to the whole world. If believe that we are bound by our common humanity to a global community makes you a globalist, then bring on the one world order. But if it does not and we actually take Jefferson’s words in the Declaration to mean all men and not just the ones who happen to be born to specific place, then the American perspective must be much wider than the individual. It cannot rest on the individual and such focus will destroy the republic. Who here likes special interests governing politics? I sure don’t, but who can blame these individuals trying to get their voices heard? The American project must expand its focus beyond the individual, not just our of the mandates of natural law, but out of self-preservation.

    And yet I believe the argument from natural law is the stronger case since I do not believe in motivating people with the fear of destruction but with the attainment of greater existence. Natural law compels the American project onto the global stage. If we truly believe all men are endowed with rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, if this is truly our founding principle, then our entire structure, culture, and attitude toward the world should reflect that. An American should never shirk from the term “universal destination of material goods” or “unequal distribution.” It is not a call to set up the central committee on material goods; that is the other extreme. It is not to allow men to just happen to do things either whenever they feel like it; that is the other extreme. Both are forms of passivity that erode the American spirit and indeed the whole human spirit. It is trusting in . It bases itself on the principles that a) every man has a natural and equal right to the fruits of creation, b) natural evil causes those fruits to be distributed unevenly against the original state of creation, and c) it is man’s duty to right the evils caused by nature as the dominion God gave man over nature has not be abrogated.

    If that is socialism instead of the natural law, then where is nearest kolkhoz?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There is some balance to be found there, mastersamwise, some middle ground. While tall fences may make for good neighbors, we are also to be our brother’s keeper. So while I am totally against Obamacare for example, I realize that having people run around with untreated TB is harmful to the health of us all. No man is an island, community matters.

      Capitalism, freedom, a bit of conservatism, used to be the system that lifted up the largest number of people, that gave us that American dream and idealism. It was system built upon small communities however, state’s rights, individual rights. That is our foundation, or was anyway. How that translates into the global world at large is an unknown to me, but I don’t like what I’m seeing.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. @mastersamwise
      @insanitybytes22

      Thank you for the thoughtful comment. I am busy, and I have got to get to bed. I really should not have written that last post, but the itch had to be scratched.

      Anyway, I think insanitybytes22 made much the same reply I would have made.

      Like

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