April 20, 2009

Commenting on a comment...

I started to answer a comment by our friend Bisaal at this post, and decided to just make my answer—or rather, partial answer—a post in itself.
I am not clear on this subject at all but are you saying that rough work works so it is OK to do it now and then?.

Mark Shea I don't think radiates any partisan hatred or venom. He is consistent: anything that deviates from Church preaching is to be rejected.

Had the Catholics consistently followed this principle, a lot of past trouble eg World Wars might have been avoided.

Maybe you will object, that this goes against Prudence and thus Catholic States never applied such standard to themselves. But perhaps USA needs to set higher standards for itself.

The virtue of Prudence is crucial for Moral Reasoning. (For all people, not just Christians. Moral law exists objectively, applies to all of us, and can be apprehended by reason.) Prudence is not optional. It is not a "lower standard." It is not some sort of fudge-factor added on so that people can compromise with the strict demands of doing what is just. ALL good deeds and good things can be bad if done at the wrong time or place or situation. The beautiful poverty and service of St Francis would have been an evil thing if he had left a wife and children to starve to death!

There is NO situation—either personal or societal—to which one can simply "apply Church teachings" without considering Prudence.

And therefore there is no complex situation where one can simply take one small aspect and demand that people do the moral thing, without considering the whole. Prudence demands looking at the whole picture.

Therefore, if a moralist is going to try to influence people on how we should fight the "War on Terror," then he or she must consider the situation as a whole, and think through things. Think about questions like how, in general, this new kind of war can best be fought. And how those tactics and strategies fit in with moral principles.

As an example, people need to ponder how Christian "Just War" thinking should be applied to a new sort of war Aquinas never imagined. Another example: one needs to think about how our words and actions will be seen by others, and what behavior they will elicit. Are we tempting people to wrong-doing? (I'd say that Mr Shea is broadcasting messages that encourage terrorism.)

There are lots of similar things that need to be considered to decide what the moral way to deal with our world situation is. I don't follow everything Shea writes, so I may be doing him an injustice, but, it looks to me like he has cherry-picked those issues he happens to be interested in, and opines on them without ever articulating a philosophy of how the situation as a whole should be seen, and how dealt with. This is morally wrong; it is a failure to exercise Prudence.

In fact he not only has the duty to think through the whole situation, he also has the duty to encourage criticism and discourse. The way he sneers at those who disagree with him is itself a moral failure—it is doubling-down on his basic failure of Prudence. I wouldn't even consider challenging Shea's ideas at his blog, because I've never heard of him making reasoned responses like this one I'm trying to write. (Bisaal is doing me a favor by criticizing me, by prodding my reasoning, and I'm grateful.)

And I think Shea is partisan because his attitudes and the issues he in interested seem to match precisely those of far-left political activists. You can SEE this. The issues that make his cheeks glow and his eyes sparkle match up closely with groups like moveon.org or Code Pink. And he never seems (I don't read everything he writes, so I may be mistaken) to work up a sweat over the victims of terrorism, or over the war crimes that groups like al-Qaeda commit every day.

Who are the REAL Christians today? Well, I've blogged my opinion on one that often enough. Try this post. Or this....

(photo by Michael Yon, of a child deliberately slaughtered by terrorist madmen.)

(And now I've really got to get to work, and I haven't even addressed torture specifically. Oh well, another day)

Posted by John Weidner at April 20, 2009 10:31 AM
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