28 November 2013

On resisting certain temptations while reading Evangelii Gaudium

With the Thanksgiving holiday upon us and NDS out on break, I'm hoping to read the Holy Father's apostolic exhortation, Evangelii gaudium.

More than just read it, I'm hoping to spend some time contemplating it!

So far, Ive done a fair job avoiding the temptation to scan the document for confirmation/refutation of my hobby horse concerns. Fallen human nature and my own particular fallenness make that temptation very, very, very difficult to resist.

For my own betterment and maybe yours as well, here's what I'm struggling to avoid:

1. Hobby Horse Issues: scanning for Culture War hot-button issues to sling at my ideological opponents, i.e., abortion, contraception, women's "ordination," etc. (Confession: I saw the quote about the Holy Father's confirmation of the impossibility of women's ordination before I saw the document itself.)

2. Minimizing the Pope's Expertise: dismissing the Holy Father's teaching on issues where he has little or no technical expertise, i.e., finance, economics, etc. His lack of expertise on these issues shouldn't prevent a fair reading of his moral teachings when those teachings touch these issues. 

3. A Hermeneutic of Rupture: reading EG as if it were a wholly novel, purely innovative document written in an ecclesial vacuum; that is, pretending that the Holy Father is somehow unaware that previous popes ever wrote anything about evangelization, preaching, economics, etc. 

4. Jesuitical Suspicion: not ignoring my natural Dominican suspicion of all things Jesuitical but making an effort to set aside those prejudices and not write in the margins, "Such a Jebbie!"

5. Let the MSM Define What's Important: reading media accounts of the document before reading the document itself. I've already seen two reports in the UK press that predictably applaud the Holy Father for his "anti-capitalist" rhetoric. . .as if the Pope's principal concern is the macro-economics of Western liberal democracies. 

So, lots of things to avoid; lots of things to look forward to. . .especially the longish section on homilies and preaching!
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  1. I've read up through n. 13, with 12 bits highlighted for further rumination. I'm guessing I will find it more fruitful to concentrate of the joy of the Gospel than on economic policy.

    (The one quick pass I did make was a search for the word "obsession," since an AP writer claimed that Pope Francis criticized the Church's "obsession" with doctrine under the last two popes. Unsurprisingly, I couldn't find that in Evangelii Gaumium. Maybe the AP writer was working off a different translation.)

    1. AP is working off the NYT/CNN/DNC translation. . .the one where all references to God, church, Jesus, etc. are deleted.

  2. Anonymous9:19 AM

    Hahaha! Great post! Happy Thanksgiving!

    Sherry Weddell

    1. And to you too, Sherry! Looking forward to your take on EG.

  3. "not ignoring my natural Dominican suspicion of all things Jesuitical"

    I mentioned to my uncle a few months ago that whenever I hear some say that they were "educated by Jesuits," I hear "raised by wolves."

    1. LOL! Seriously. I laughed out loud. That's hilarious.

    2. Y'mean like Romulus and Remus? ;-)

      On a more serious vein, the English translation has many, often quite grave, errors. Several times, crucial phrases or even whole sentences are omitted entirely...sometimes with drastic consequences in terms of interpretation.

      For example, in #54, the official translation says that it's incorrect to assume economic growth will bring greater equality and social inclusion, but in the original it actually says that it's incorrect to assume economic growth BY ITSELF ("por si mismo") will bring greater equality and social inclusion.

    3. JMG, I have no doubt that the translation is flawed. They usually are. These errors/omissions will be fixed. . .eventually.

    4. JMG, I've checked the Spanish version of EG and the phrase "por si mismo" doesn't appear in the document. Can you point me to it?

    5. Nevermind. I found it. "Mismo" is hypenated in the text, so the "find" function missed it.

  4. LudiDomestici3:16 PM

    The new wind blowing through the Church reaches gale force! The obligations of governments to order themselves justly to care for the poor ix crystal clear in the document! Paul Ryan and George Weigel must be popping advils like M&Ms!!!

    1. Why? Nothing in the document suggests that spending trillions on bloated, corrupt, nepotistic bureaucracies is a way to "justly care for the poor."

      No one I know argues that the Church has no responsibility for the poor. The question is: how do we best care for the poor? The last 50 yrs and trillions of wasted tax dollars proves beyond a doubt that Big Gov't Nanny State programs don't help the poor.

      So, Ludi, why do you hate the poor so much? Why won't you support an economic system that has proven to relieve poverty and raise human dignity? You must a public employee union member. . .otherwise, you wouldn't be so gleeful about seeing the poor ravaged by gov't corruption.

    2. LudiDomestici8:57 PM

      So narrow and limited in your thinking. So obsessed with small-minded rules. So sickly and inward looking. Thankfully, Pope Francis properly understands that Moral Theology is a subset of Pastoral Theology, not the other way around...


      Your breathtaking hubris in pooh-poohing the Holy Father's "expertise" in economic matters is truly stunning. If only he listened to a genius like Paul "Ayn-Rand" Ryan? Good grief...

      Whitewashed tombs...

    3. Ludi, go back to school and learn to read. Quote me a line from EG that supports Big Gov't Nanny Statism. I agree with the Holy Father's moral assessment of "unfettered capitalism." Fortunately, there is no such thing as "unfettered capitalism."

      You didn't answer my question: why do you hate the poor? Why do you want the poor to remain in poverty under the control of a bureaucracy that exists only b/c the poor are poor? What possible incentive could the gov't have for actually alleviating poverty when so many gov't workers and politicians benefit from the Poverty Industry?

      Again, Ludi: why do you hate the poor?