Thursday, March 26, 2020

They want the elderly to lay down their lives for the economy.

This poster (from around 1938) reads: 
"60,000 Reichsmark is what this person suffering from a hereditary illness 
costs the People's community during his lifetime. 
Fellow citizen, that is your money too. 
Read '[A] New People', 
the monthly magazine of the NSDAP Office of Racial Policy."
#20july44 - Gerry Os*

"There is a demonic side to the sentimentalism of saving lives at any cost." - R.R. Reno

Catholic intellectuals/academics are keen to point out the 'vice' of sentimentalism in contemporary culture.  Many consider Pope Francis a sentimentalist.  SSA spokesmen suggest Fr. James Martin's approach to LGBTQ persons, as sentimentalist.  Now, extending care to elderly amid COVID-19 contagion, who will most likely die anyway, is talked about as sentimentalism - 'demonic' sentimentalism.  

"Faux-Christians reveal their true god: $$$"

I had a short commentary on an article discussing what Texas Lieutenant governor Dan Patrick told  Fox News: "Older people would rather die than let Covid-19 harm US economy."  He doesn't look that young, so maybe he canvolunteer to go first.  His thoughts seem to be shared by the Trump administration, which is trying very hard to reopen businesses and send people back to work during the pandemic, which hasn't even peaked in the U.S..

Catholics like R.R. Reno appear to agree, as did a guy on my FB post, who argued:

Terry Nelson writes : "Faux-Christians reveal their true god: $$$"
No. Not money, but instead a functioning economy that provides for human flourishing. An economy where there is a middle class.
Destroying the economy to prolong the life of those who going to die regardless within few years is foolish and contrary to the duty the old owe towards their progeny.
It's no different than a father who would sell the family manufacturing business, or farm or similar in order to prolong his own life. Such an act is irresponsible towards the children.
It's not about money, but instead about responsibility of leaving our children with a functioning society.

The comment took me by surprise.  I had no intention of arguing his point which impressed me as based in an un-Christian ideology, an amalgam of Utilitarianism, Libertarianism, Objectivism and Christian-Nationalism.  Reno's assertions strike me in the same way.  As one friend pointed out, 'it's the result of 30 some years of toxic, right-wing media.' Works for me.

Moral relativism.

I'm always amazed at the Catholic university grads and their ethical contortions - especially since they claim to have nurtured their spirituality and theology on the teaching of JPII.  I suggested recently they go back to their books - the actual texts of JPII's encyclicals and allocutions.  Instead of depending on their favorite authors' interpretations, and/or their own dissertations of JPII's works.  (Just a suggestion, BTW - who am I to lecture such 'scholars'.)

That said, I've been revisiting Evangelium vitae, JPII's encyclical otherwise known as the Gospel of Life, which discusses euthanasia.  The proposal that the elderly have a duty to die to preserve the economy is a sort of 'passive' euthanasia.  I'm amased Catholic university grads do not see it that way.  These people seem to have made the economy an idol - it's the type idolatry Pope Francis has often discussed - not the pretend idolatry a couple of anti-Francis bishops accuse the Pope of.

That said, I don't want to copy and paste a bunch of quotes from St. John Paul's works, but I will close with one or two, to help readers understand what I'm getting at.
Democracy (sub. economy) cannot be idolized to the point of making it a substitute for morality or a panacea for immorality. Fundamentally, democracy is a "system" and as such is a means and not an end. Its "moral" value is not automatic, but depends on conformity to the moral law to which it, like every other form of human behaviour, must be subject: in other words, its morality depends on the morality of the ends which it pursues and of the means which it employs. If today we see an almost universal consensus with regard to the value of democracy, this is to be considered a positive "sign of the times", as the Church's Magisterium has frequently noted. But the value of democracy stands or falls with the values which it embodies and promotes. Of course, values such as the dignity of every human person, respect for inviolable and inalienable human rights, and the adoption of the "common good" as the end and criterion regulating political life are certainly fundamental and not to be ignored. - EV 70
The choice of euthanasia becomes more serious when it takes the form of a murder committed by others on a person who has in no way requested it and who has never consented to it. The height of arbitrariness and injustice is reached when certain people, such as physicians or legislators, arrogate to themselves the power to decide who ought to live and who ought to die. Once again we find ourselves before the temptation of Eden: to become like God who "knows good and evil" (cf. Gen 3:5). God alone has the power over life and death: "It is I who bring both death and life" (Dt 32:39; cf. 2 Kg 5:7; 1 Sam 2:6). But he only exercises this power in accordance with a plan of wisdom and love. When man usurps this power, being enslaved by a foolish and selfish way of thinking, he inevitably uses it for injustice and death. Thus the life of the person who is weak is put into the hands of the one who is strong; in society the sense of justice is lost, and mutual trust, the basis of every authentic interpersonal relationship, is undermined at its root. - EV 66
Pope Francis, speaking of modern idolatry, said something which applies to this new expression ethical relativism:

“Money robs us of life, and pleasure leads to loneliness. Economic structures sacrifice human lives for better profits. One lives in hypocrisy, doing and saying what others expect of us, because the god of self-affirmation imposes it. And lives are ruined; families are destroyed; and young people are abandoned to destructive habits, all to increase profit.” - Pope Francis

I'll leave it at that.  Watch out for your parents and grandparents - make sure they are safe and get the help they need during this pandemic.  Pray for the sick and dying. 

*Poster, h/t Mark Shea


  1. I look for the average age of those dying in hot spots now. The spread is wide with an average in 40's. This could change but likely for the worse. It makes sense that the older and sicker die first, but look at health care workers exposed daily. The pictures I see are young and healthy. Reinfection, alothough widely reported as immune, is not fully accurate or understood. If the spread continues, as seems likely, this will be a slow moving disaster. Letting the old and sick die will not stop the spread.

  2. It's getting a little scary out there.

    A couple of months ago, I had a FB conversation with another Franciscan. He held that we should resign ourselves that robots do a much better job at everything any human can do, from factory work to medical work, and that it is foolish to defend the standpoint that the human touch is better. My argument was/is that robots do not have empathy, ethics, nor morals, and never will - if I were ill, for instance, I would far rather be in the hands of an decent human doctor. I would also prefer to be educated by a teacher who can answer a question of ethics, for example. And when it comes down to it, as a child of the Rust Belt, I would far rather have a real human being manufacture the goods I buy (although I know that genie is out of the bottle).

    This is why we need to hold onto our Faith and the teachings of our good Jesus with both hands. In the end, what matters is how faithfully we serve our God, and how we treat our brothers and sisters. People matter more than money or our own personal comfort level. Forgive me for not explaining myself clearly, but hopefully you know what I am talking about. Peace, and stay well and healthy, everyone!

  3. Terry,

    Several New York and Italian doctors are reporting that their entire ER/hospital workplaces are contaminated with no end if sight. It makes sense since those who are critically ill from this virus are in ICU for about two to three weeks. I am praying and hoping that once they are stabilized, they can be moved out, the ICUs disinfected and then keep going.

    That's me praying that as we go along with my colleagues scared, suffering, determined, the Medical and Scientific community will find a way to do this. until effective medications/treatments and a life saving vaccine can be found.

    Entrusting all of God's precious elderly to the care of the gentle, silent, powerful intercession of Saint Joseph.

  4. Hopefully we get widespread testing so that people know at the moment if they're sick and that a vaccine is developed quickly.

  5. How is everyone holding up? Here, in Western New York, Spring is still slowly arriving. The birds are active. Some returning others leaving. The early flowers are peaking through the soil. Crocus , daffodils and a few tulips. It is a glorious time of year. Always lovely here. My second favorite season. We are used to being home bound during winter storms, but it is strange with no snow. I decorated our annual Easter Egg tree outside with my grandchildren. Seemed strange, unnatural really to do it in gloves and keeping a six foot distance. It was sad for me to see Pope Francis alone in an empty St Peter's Square yesterday. I hope we can soon return to normalcy. I hope we learn something and grow from this. Peace.

  6. Terry I agree wholeheartedly. What Elizabeth Anscombe diagnosed as Consequentialism at its worst


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