Friday, November 29, 2013

Limbaugh 'bewildered' by Pope Francis, Catholic teaching

I'm liking Pope Francis more and more. I mean, look at how his simple words -- they could be ripped right from the New Testament! -- make so-called "Christian" conservative commentators squirm in their seats! (Partly, this is because conservatives are much more susceptible than liberals to patriarchy and argument from authority, and you don't get much more patriarchal and authoritative than the Pope).

"Say what?Rush Limbaugh seems to say (see below), "Jesus didn't believe in trickle-down economics? Really? Christianity doesn't teach that we should get a 'thrill' from empty consumerism; we can only find true joy in loving one another and God?"

Rush is the perfect example of a conservative who has put his Christian religion way, way, waaaay behind his politics (second) and his love of money and buying things (first).  I'm gonna quote him at length so you see what I mean [emphasis mine]:

You talk about unfettered, this is an unfettered anti-capitalist dictate from Pope Francis.  And listen to this.  This is an actual quote from what he wrote.  "The culture of prosperity deadens us.  We are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime, all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle. They fail to move us."  I mean, that's pretty profound.  That's going way beyond matters that are ethical.  This is almost a statement about who should control financial markets.  He says that the global economy needs government control. 

I'm telling, I'm not Catholic, but I know enough to know that this would have been unthinkable for a pope to believe or say just a few years ago.  But this passage, "The culture of prosperity deadens us. We are thrilled if the market offers us something new to buy.  In the meantime, all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle."  I have to tell you, folks, I am totally bewildered by this. 

Indeed, Rush is totally bewildered by Pope Francis's remarks, because Rush is completely ignorant of the teachings of Jesus Christ.  Oh, the smite the Sodomites stuff -- he got that memo from the Old Testament. But the entire New Testament seems to have zipped over his bald head. And he's not alone among U.S. Christians, especially Evangelicals.

Here's more. Take a look at these two statements from the U.S. Catholic Bishops [italics mine]:

7. In economic life, free markets have both clear advantages and limits; government has essential responsibilities and limitations; voluntary groups have irreplaceable roles, but cannot substitute for the proper working of the market and the just policies of the state.

8. Society has a moral obligation, including governmental action where necessary, to assure opportunity, meet basic human needs, and pursue justice in economic life. 

Sounds pretty leftist, doesn't it?  It's also True with a capital T! And the Catholic Church's teachings have been very consistent over the years in this regard.

Later, Rush goes into complete revisionist-history/nutjob land: he says modern-day U.S. Democrats are today's Evil Empire that the Catholic Church should be fighting.  

Never mind that there are actual, honest-to-God socialist and Communist political parties dotting Europe, supported by honest-to-God trade unions (they are nearly extinct in the U.S., by comparison), giving all those godless Euro-trash types "free" healthcare, education and old-age pensions... And the Catholic priests and bishops there gladly support all this leftism.... No, according to Rush, the Bishop of Rome should ignore Europe and concentrate on the real enemy: the U.S. Democratic Party. Or as I like to call them, 1990s Republicans.  Unbelievable:

Now, by the way, in fairness to the pope and in fairness to the Catholic Church, I will admit that communism years ago was much easier to see and identify than it is today.  And the obvious evil that was communism was easy to see.  Soviet-sponsored communism, the gulags, the First World military with the Third World economy, the blustery behavior of Soviet Communist Party bosses, the constant Soviet expansionism into Cuba and Sandinista land and Nicaragua and everywhere. 

Communism today is much more disguised. 

Communism today, in large part, is the Democrat Party.  Communism today is in large part the feminist movement. Communism today is found in most of the AFL-CIO-type unions.  As such, it seems just a political point of view.  It's just an alternative political point of view.  It's just the Democrats, and it's a much tougher thing to identify and target, because it can be your neighbor.  It's not some foreign country easily identified as "the Evil Empire." Communism has a much different face today. 

I have to tell you, what has been attributed to the pope here doesn't make sense, with 50 years of the Catholic Church.  It doesn't jibe.  But it sounds exactly like what your average, run-of-the-mill leftist would say each and every day:  unfettered capitalism, trickle-down doesn't work.  I don't know this pope, but I don't know that the bishop of Rome speaks in terms of trickle-down.

Rush and his ilk simply refuse to acknowledge the obvious truth of the New Testament that Jesus and his followers rejected the pursuit of wealth, and established as their primary mission love, aid and fellowship with society's poor and outcast.  This is nothing new.  Pope Francis didn't think this up in the shower one morning.  Rush refuses to understand that, indeed, Christian teaching is basically "run-of-the-mill leftist" thought: equality, tolerance, shared responsibility, multiculturalism, love the poor, etc.

UPDATE (03.12.2013): I'm getting lots of hits on this post so let me add a personal tidbit. I was in mass last year when the U.S Catholic Church was doing its big campaign against Obamacare from the pulpit. I hadn't been to church in a long time. The pipsqueak priest who was about 25 years old said that the Affordable Care Act was "socialism" and that the Church opposed "socialism." It totally infuriated me. I stood up and walked out. "What is this, a Tea Party meeting?" I said to the person next to me.  Never mind that "socialist" Europe has variations on Obamacare in every single country and the RCC priests in Europe aren't railing against it.... Suddenly the global RCC was coming out against it in the USA? It smacked of ignorance and parochialism. So the Church is not snow white, and there is a lot of variation.

November 27, 2013 | The Rush Limbaugh Show

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