It’s a bizzy return-to-work week, and I don’t know how to say this any better. This post, from 2013, is presented just as it was because so much of it is relevant. This was elaborated on at length in my discussion series People’s Economics in 2015, but this is the summary. I still believe that this is what we should be talking about rather than the nonsense which passes for “politics” today – and that nearly everyone is utterly missing the ability to analyze what is happening around all of us in any useful way.
The economic teachings of Pope Francis are a hot topic. People feel a need to weigh in on what he said whether they understand it or not. But it’s the simple fact that so many don’t understand where this comes from that is probably the most important point in the public debate.
To sum it up: Money should work for people, and not the other way around. That shouldn’t be controversial, but having forgotten this way of looking at things is may be at the heart of economic and social cycles. The simple answer is that it’s time we remembered. More to the point, that philosophy is at the heart of American tradition going back to our earliest days.
Pope Francis has arrived in the United States.
The focus on his Holiness revolves around his challenges to the American right, something that largely misses the point. There will be admonishments to the left as well when he addresses Congress and the people of our nation – and those will likely be reported with a hint of glee in the press as they search for an “objective” sense of “balance”. But that, too, will miss the point.
Francis challenges all of us to step outside of our bizzy lives and see the world as a beautiful place. The message is that it is time to stop and see creation for what it is.
If we learned one thing this week in Minnesota, it’s that if you wait long enough something’s gotta give. Spring arrived this week and the air nearly sizzles with wet and warmth and life. As it always is, something had to happen eventually.
Everywhere except Congress, of course.
But aside from the entertainment we get from “leaders”, there are other sources of news. Here are three stories Barataria has been all over which had interesting developments in the last week.
A new year is a time to rethink, reset, and recommit. 2014 was a year of transition, where the foundation of a new economy laid in 2013 put grew into the structure that will shelter us in the coming years. But there is more to life than just the economy – and indeed as a reflection of values an economy needs solid direction and purpose.
Enter the need for real leadership, as shown at least in the West by Pope Francis. He has been a consistent champion of the poor and the ravages of a selfish world looking out only for wealth. Beyond that, he is now positioning the Catholic Church to be an advocate for a world that takes care of all of creation. The message is perfectly consistent yet so life changing that it’s hard for many to absorb. But it’s perfect for the new year.
“How good it is for us when the Lord unsettles our lukewarm and superficial lives.”
– Pope Francis, tweeting as @Pontifex, 7 April 2014
Palm Sunday is the start of Holy Week. This is the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a humble donkey, a hero to the adoring crowds. His subsequent challenge to the authorities who were jealous of his popularity got him tortured to death in just five days. It is a day meant for this new People’s Pope, now with a full year under the simple skull cap (or yarmulke) he is usually wears in public in place of the pointy miter of authority. But this Holy Week is a special one, and not just for this pope’s anniversary.
One week after the Easter celebration of resurrection Popes John XXII and John Paul II will be canonized as saints, recognizing their work as reformers of the Church to be the hand of God himself. They make a formidable pair, one more liberal and the other more conservative. Together, along with Francis’ year of tumult, this event will probably mark the start of a major leap for reform and reinvigoration of the Church. This is a good day to question authority and the “superficial lives” that coast along in need of renewal, and Pope Francis appears to have a plan.
It’s been a terrible winter in the Saintly City. The temperature hardly cracked 20F (-6C) the entire month. Roads were so gleaming and slick it was hard to tell if the city should sand them and pray or just put up a net and a blue line. Keeping the sidewalk clear enough so that our intrepid mailman, Mark, could make it through became a constant struggle. The simple act of getting on with life wore heavily.
But through it all there were preparations. Presents had to be bought and a living had to be earned. Life had to trundle on, no matter how difficult it became. New neighbors even put giant bows up on the columns of the house they intend to treasure for many Christmases to come, drawing energy from the holidays past in the house so worn with life when they bought it.
Yet Christmas comes, even in this frozen land. It comes when we all finally stop.
“There is no class so pitiably wretched as that which possesses money and nothing else. Money can only be the useful drudge of things immeasurably higher than itself. Exalted beyond this, as it sometimes is, it remains Caliban still and still plays the beast.”
– Andrew Carnegie
It may seem strange to open a discussion of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) with a quote from an icon of capitalism and a self described atheist. But a deeper understanding of message requires a step back with greater context. Francis is not decrying capitalism – far from it – but he calls for wealth to serve the human spirit and be a genuine force for liberation. The distinction is not academic but is a theme Barataria has elaborated on as well.