I don't think Tim Eagan is directly referencing the first major pronouncement of Pope Francis's tenure, but he might as well be.
Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.
Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “disposable” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.
In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.
You would have to be pretty dedicated to plow through the entire tract, but the initial page offers a clickable table of contents so you can jump to the topics you particularly want to see.
And I think Mike Luckovich has summarized much of the financial section.
We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.
While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules.
There's more, but here's the papal sound bite:
The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but he is obliged in the name of Christ to remind all that the rich must help, respect and promote the poor.
I noted on Facebook, facetiously, that Frankie had better not sit with his back to the door, but more paranoid types have quite seriously referenced the conspiracy theory that Pope John Paul I was murdered, which I don't buy. As with the Kennedy assassination, it may not be improbable that someone would want to launch such a conspiracy, but it's ridiculous to believe no smoking gun or death-bed revelation would have emerged in the years since.
More to the point, the way you blunt this message is not to kill the messenger but to ignore him. I fully expect that the hardliners who have taken up papal pronouncements on abortion, contraception and gay marriage in toto will suddenly now begin lining up with their trays in the papal cafeteria line.
And, of course, that crowd has always been more faithful to papal guidance relating to penises and vaginas than to teachings about electric chairs and land mines, for which dedication to "vigilance for the common good" they have been rewarded to such a degree that Catholics, who make up a quarter of the US population, make up two-thirds of the Supreme Court, which figure does include Sotomayor and Kennedy, but also Scalia, Mini-Scalia, Alito and Roberts.
Still, having the successor of Peter calling upon the one-percent to nurture the 99 is something liberal Catholics can cling to, if not as a tool with which to turn the tide, at least as evidence that they are not mistaking the message of Christ.
Juxtaposition of the Day
We've had several cases at the dog park of dogs who no longer come down because, while they are generally very pleasant and sociable, they become aggressive, pugnacious @ssholes when the toys come out.
I'm not sure this isn't somehow related to the above topic, except for the part where someone responsible decides they shouldn't be permitted to mingle in polite society.
As God is my witness ...
This classic Thanksgiving episode -- or a shorter clip -- will be reposted all over the Internets today, but here's a link -- big hat-tip to Andrew Farago -- to a behind-the-scenes discussion of how it all came about.
Even if your only interest is in finding out how TV writing and production used to work, it's worth a read.