Daily Archives: April 21, 2012
I lived many years in Italy, and charitable work was firmly in the hands of the Church or other big organisations, like Caritas.
Then I moved to Germany, where (again) Caritas and the Diakonie were the giants.
Here in the UK, it is different. Everyone must have a charity, and I mean everyone. Even big conglomerates wants you to know how they save the children, or the planet, or the forest and use this so massively, you don’t know what they want to sell you anymore.
But it is even worse than this, as this charity mania extends to simple individuals, all of them either persuaded they are changing the world, or moved by less noble motives (I’ll come to that).
I see several problems in this:
1. Where I grew up, every form of putting oneself in centre stage was considered in very bad taste, and rather stupid anyway. You were supposed to do good without anyone knowing, because if the left hand knows what the right hand is doing there’s something wrong already.
Not up here. Here in the UK the entire street, village and office are supposed to know and, if they really don’t want to fork out, they are supposed to pay one in recognition.
2. Perhaps not in all cases, but in many cases there is a huge conflict of interest, which may become outright scrounging. As some of you might know, every fundraising charity can deduct (as it is only natural) the cost of its activity before paying the proceed of their charitable activity to the organisations meant to receive them.
Let us say I love running and would like to run the New York Marathon, but the inscription, the fares to fly across the ocean and the other costs amount to a couple of thousands. What I can do to soften the blow is to create my own fundraising initiative (which is cheap, and fast). I can, for example, “run against diabetes” and select a charity to which the proceeds of my fundraising activity, after costs, will go. Then I start “raising awareness”, that is: pumping the unwitting colleagues of the big company for which I work (if I work for a big multinational, HR might well allow me to mail thousands, or dozens of thousand of them) making myself beautiful and asking for money for the cause. If I don’t work for a multinational, there will still be a lot of potential sources of donations: club, fitness studio, colleagues, even friends and acquaintances (in that case, I’ll probably “bike against diabetes” in West Sussex, though). Of course I will never recover the costs of aeroplane, hotel and inscription fees, but I will able to set all the proceeds from my naive colleagues against my costs, and will run with the beautiful t-shirt of my charity: ain’t I a splendid fellow…
Bottom line: the “real” charity does not see a penny (unless I give them £50, because I am so good), I get a subsidy for my New York Marathon, and make myself beautiful at the same time. The example of the New York Marathon was not chosen at random (it is, actually, personal experience; with several “fundraisers”), but you can see similar examples everywhere: I sail against this, I run against that. Fine, but you would have sailed and run anyway because it’s your hobby, and unless you promise me you won’t charge your own costs I pretty well know you want me to, well, pay for your hobby.
I can’t say whether the first or second issue grates me more. The first, probably, because the behaviour of these sanctimonious (if in good faith) scroungers (if in bad faith) is particularly disturbing when you come from a country and mentality where such behaviour is particularly frowned upon. But I can’t avoid thinking that every day in this country hard-working people give away money thinking they are doing something good against leukaemia, when they are merely subsidising the favourite sport activity of some colleague they don’t even know.
My suggestion is that the readers pick a limited a number of very good Catholic charities above every suspicion (like Aid to the Church in Need, or The Verona Fathers, or The Catholic Truth Society) and stick to that and to the donations to their own church.
In case your day is proving rather dull, perhaps I may help: KATH.NET informs us the imaginative group “Wir Sind Kirche” plans to descend on Rome from, apparently, several countries in December 2015 and once there (besides having a short holiday; Rome in December is beautiful) proceed to what they call a “big protest march”, at the end of which the new documents of their own “Third Vatican Council” would be presented. The documents on Kath.Net’s desk also say the participants are preparing alternative plans in case it should rain, as they don’t want the revolution to get wet and one imagines many of the participants will not be in their greenest years anymore; this, besides the worries the usual wannabe priestesses would then ruin their coiffure.
Seriously: if they want the holiday, why not jump on the plane? Oh, wait: because they want other people to pay for them?
Reblog of the day
One concept I shall never tire to express is that every Nazi needs to show himself sensitive. In fact, I do not recall many examples in history (the Vikings are certainly one; some Redskin tribes another; but these examples are few and far between) of populations and ideology making of cruelty an accepted part of social behaviour.
Generally, even the most cruel people will want to show themselves sympathetic, and desirous to help.
Take the killing of babies. Monstrous, right? Certainly so, until The Sensitive Nazi appears on the scene. Being he/she a Nazi, the child who is to be killed is conveniently put in the background, and substantially ignored. He is immediately downgraded to collateral damage of the Sensitive Nazi’s goodness. But you see, the Sensitive Nazi is so good: he thinks of the suffering mother, and will create pitiful stories about abortions obtained with the most atrocious means…
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Sign the petition here.
This is possibly already more signatures than homosexuals in the United Kingdom.
One wonders. Food for thoughts for that idiot Cameron, and (once?) Conservative MPs.
In what can only have been the first battle of a long war, the Irish Parliament has defeated a bill seeking to introduce abortion in Ireland.
You can read the details on E F Pastor Emeritus. I will, as usual, limit myself to some comments:
1. The member Mick Wallace tried to impress his colleagues (apparently almost ending up in tears; he, not his colleagues) reading an email from a lady who had travelled to Britain in a desperate effort to kill her baby after knowing he suffered from a fatal foetal abnormality. No surprise the colleagues weren’t impressed. Perhaps the c just couldn’t see where the point was. I admit, I couldn’t either. Still, in Mick Wallace you see a beautiful example of sensitive Nazi at work.
2. Unfortunately, the weak and tired Western European political systems seems to follow the idea that if you have lost once, you have lost forever. Therefore, the abortionist camp will insist on abortion legislation in the years to come, and the first time they win the matter will be archived as a historical battle, lost by the anti-Catholic fraction. Not so in the US, where capital punishment has been revived, Obamacare might soon be killed (by the Judiciary, perhaps; and by Legislative, if Romney can be scared enough) and the various pro-homo laws are being vigorously attacked were judicial activism (never the majority of the voters) has put them in place.
3. This is interesting: “Abortion is often presented as being pro-woman but what abortion advocates refuse to confront is the devastating impact abortion has on many women. In 1997, we were convulsed by the ‘C’ case involving the young girl made pregnant through rape. The courts again decided that the compassionate solution was to send the girl to the UK for an abortion, but 12 years later the woman at the centre of the case spoke of her devastation and deep regret at having the abortion. It is not clear to me how it could be “compassionate” to kill a baby. If the mother did not want to have anything to do with the baby, an orphanage would have been the solution. This idea of killing a baby because the mother was raped is simply murderous madness.
I would like to rejoice at this news, but I cannot. I feel the stories of coat hangers will start to circulate again (better to kill the baby faster, they mean; hey, we want to kill him anyway, right?) and the Irish people will throw in the towel at the first defeat.
They are not alone in this mentality, though. I remember the priest at school feeling smart as he told us the Church doesn’t fight battles she know she can’t win. What a bunch of cowards.
If you ask me, it seems a phenomenon is becoming increasingly more evident in the United States, and will one day make its appearance on European shores: the self-abortion of so-called pro-choice positions.
I would love to say to you that the growing opposition to abortion among younger voters in the US (I have blogged about this in the past, but you only need to google around a bit to be sure of this) is the result of the courageous work of the Church hierarchy to support Christian values; but I am afraid the contribution has not been near as vocal as it should have been, at least until the very last years.
In my eyes, what is happening is something more brutally simple: pro-choice supporters have simply aborted the next generation of potential pro-choice supporters. Whilst there will always be the one or other saying he is in favour of others killing their babies whilst not killing their own, a short observation of the reality around us persuades pro-choice supporters tend to practice what they preach; you can put it in the other way, and reflect the often spread legend of the good observant Catholic girl as beneficiary of the abortion laws doesn’t really pass the test of reality.
Rather, it would appear for a couple of decades a bigger number of children was born in pro-life households than in so-called pro-choice ones. Let these babies reach voting age and look at support for pro-life measures grow all over the country; add to this the soon sharply increasing mortality rate among the old potheads (mortality rises sharply after 70; this is 2020 for your archetypal Sixty-Eighter) and you’ll see why “pro-choice” is, in the long-term, doomed.
After reading an interesting article about The Problem With Patheos, I decided to give the site a couple of minutes more.
I discovered some of the well-known Catholic blogs are, in fact, there. I must admit my ignorance here, and openly confess when I read Mark Shea’s (seldom) of Fr Longenecker’s (somewhat more often) blog I did not even care to see whether their site is embedded in a bigger organisation; or perhaps they weren’t in the past, and I didn’t notice when they were embedded. I google them, and follow the link.
Now I did go to visit Patheos, and I must say I wasn’t pleased.
I see three main issues here:
2) independence, and
3) moral relativism
As to 1), let me say beforehand I have nothing against people who make money with their blogs. If they attract enough readership to complement their earnings, or are even able to make of blogging their profession, more power to them. I do not consider money “filthy”, or money earning “bad”, nor do I think Catholicism should never be “contaminated” by monetary considerations; Real Catholic TV, a private organisation, is a good example. Still, there should be no suspicion financial considerations influence the way they blog.
Which leads us nicely to 2). I wonder if a blogger would be allowed to stay on Patheos who would be seen to contravene to the “safe” environment Patheos wants to create. What if a Catholic blogger should insistently and vocally ask for the reintroduction of, say, sodomy laws, and the one or other pervert would start to bitch around saying how traumatised he is? This is just an example, but at some point “big Patheos brother” would intervene, because at some point Catholicism must be at war (otherwise, it wouldn’t be Catholicism) with the world, and give scandal to non-Christians. You might say the same thing happens with the editorial policy of a newspaper or magazine, but the beauty of blogging is exactly that there is no such control, and this is the reason why blogs are rapidly becoming a better alternative to professional journalism – always constrained within the “policy” and “directives” of the newspaper or magazine owner – whenever this kind of “sensitive” information is to be exchanged.
Then there is point 3). I seem to remember (vaguely; perhaps it was two years ago; perhaps I wasn’t paying attention) the site to be aimed at Christians of various denominations; apparently, it is aimed at (or it has been extended to) not only Muslims and Jews, but even atheists, pagans and the oxy-moronic “progressive Christians”. I can’t see how this very format cannot be seen as encouraging moral relativism, and I cannot see how if one is in such a company he can deny to give a contribution to it.
I (and many others, I am sure) see Catholicism as a world apart. Catholicism does not put itself in the shop window, asking “customers” to consider it. Catholicism does not participate in a system by which it is perceived as one of many possible flavours. May it be that in life a potential convert would see Catholicism as one “alternative”, but this is exactly what a Catholic must not do. There is no alternative to Catholicism, therefore Catholicism never puts itself in the position of being considered one of many possible “flavours”. Catholicism builds churches, sends priests and missionaries around, grows on the granitic conviction of its followers. Catholicism doesn’t participate to beauty contests, because there is no contest.
This, besides the grave reservations described in the article concerning the way Catholic doctrine is “explained” to those, so to speak, coming from outside, and by which the suspicion arises the one or other Catholic bloggers has read them, and decided to do nothing. Granted, this latter problem can be rather rapidly solved (though perhaps having to pay some attention to the “sensitivities” of the structure). The problem of moral relativism, instead, cannot be solved, because it pertains to the very nature and structure of Patheos.
Now let us ask ourselves: are there really no alternatives? Hugely followed blogs like Father Z’ feel no need to be embedded into a big multi-faith (or no faith) blog structure; their autonomous structure is guarantee of their independence. They have become big because those who visit their blog know they need not fear interference or (more probably) unspoken self-censorship.
More importantly, the idea itself of a blog reacts to the concept of endeavouring to reach an audience. The beauty of blogging is someone sitting at the computer and writing what he thinks should be said, without constrictions and without even caring whether he will have many readers, or none. This is what makes the freshness of blogs, and determined their success; and this is particularly important in Catholic blogs, which are provocative and counter-cultural by definition.
A big platform with its own editorial policy (which it must have, at some point) will at some point become nothing else than an online magazine. This can’t be good for blogging in general, let alone Catholic blogging.