Friday, February 26, 2010

Bad Mouthing Gold...Again

In our local diocesan paper this week, in a column written by a member of the clergy, the
pursuit of wealth is once again impugned in favor of the "Golden Rule."

I say "once again" because the pursuit of wealth is a favorite "whipping boy" of the clergy. Time and again materialism, wealth generation, and business in general is castigated from the pulpit.

I have no doubt of the good intentions of the particular column, i.e. encouraging charity, etc. However, it's time our clergy begin to think of some new ways to encourage it without the obligatory swipe at the making of money.

The author contrasts gold with the Golden Rule. In doing so, he equates gold, and the pursuit of gold, with all that is wrong with the world: greed, lust, power, envy...the usual suspects.

I don't have time to do a whole Bible study here, but God commands the use of gold in the making of the tabernacle, the ornamentation of the temple, etc. In Revelations we find Jesus himself in a gold sash, as well as many references to gold. The Church requires that gold, or at least silver, be used for the liturgical vessels, etc.

I don't mean to be disrespectful here, but "Father" is going to be able to eat tonight and sleep in a bed. I don't have the same guarantee. Everyday I must find ways to "find gold" in order that my children can eat and sleep in safety.

The standard reply to my "need for gold" is "fine, as long as it is not excessive". But who get's to decide that? If I go out and buy an expensive house that is bigger than what "I need" or what others think I need, I would be judged, by common clergy standards, as being materialistic.

But how many people got to feed their families because I bought a house, regardless of whether or not it is what I need or not? How many people worked on that house and got paid because someone was going to buy that house? How about the people who may be hired to keep up the house and the yard? I could go on.

What amazes me most is that despite the tongue lashing the business community gets at Mass on a regular basis, the business community is the first people pastors will go to when they need something that costs money.

Let's stop the hypocrisy and the assumptions. On a material level, many of the clergy live better than we lay folks do. They have a place to stay, guaranteed meals, health insurance, and some degree of retirement security. Most of us have none of that, especially those of us who have children, lots of children.

Again, I understand Father's intention. But really, it's time to find another way of elevating charity other than demeaning those of us who must "pursue gold" every day.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Why Only Two

Bill 158 (Guam) will require that the words "between one man and one woman" be added to The Contract of Marriage in the Guam Code. While the introduction of this bill has set off a predictable battle between those who would defend this definition and those who would oppose it, the next level of argument will be "why only two?"

Polygamy has a much wider and deeper pedigree than does same-sex marriage. For most Americans polygamy is a thing of the biblical past or perhaps an oddity of Mormonism. However, according to some studies, polygamy today is accepted and practiced by as much 78% of the world's societies.

In fact, polygamy has always been the norm, which is why Christ's teaching on the matter was so radical and remains radical today. Essentially, marital monogamy as a key societal institution, is a Christian legacy. Even the Supreme Court has said so.

In an 1890 Supreme Court decision against plural marriage, Justice William O. Douglas wrote that polygamy was "contrary to Christianity and to the civilization that Christianity has produced in the western world". (Obviously he didn't know about the separation of church and state.)

If our laws are no longer to be informed by Christian moral teaching, as we are consistently reminded by the proponents of same-sex legislation, then we must ask "Why only two?". If marriage is simply reduced to a legal contract between two people who care about each other then why not three people who care about each other?

This is not an "illogical extreme". The U.S. Supreme Court recently (2007) declined to hear a case involving a Utah man's claim that laws banning polygamy are a violation of his First Amendment religious rights and unequal treatment under the law.

While the Court may have declined to hear the case, the fact that it made it to the Supreme Court is telling of what is to come and validates Justice Scalia's warning that the Court's previous "signing on to the homosexual agenda" would pave the way for challenges to laws against polygamy, incest, and in fact all laws governing sexual conduct. (Lawrence vs Texas, 2003 - dissenting opinion)

Get ready Guam.
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