Friday, February 23, 2007

Godspy interviews William T. Cavanaugh

Mike Benedetti sent me this interview of William T. Cavanaugh, who talks about how to integrate Catholic teaching into the way we live. I don't agree with all of it, but there is a lot of good food for thought.


At Wednesday, February 28, 2007 at 3:59:00 PM PST, Anonymous Victor said...

I suspect It'll surprise you not at all Adam that I am completely unimpressed by Cavanaugh.

For example, what DOES "render unto Caesar" mean then. The fact that the Lord puts it in a two-sided aphorism implies, Dorothy Day aside, that Caesar does have some things rendered to him -- at least in the immediate sense if not the ultimate sense. This is also far more consistent with what Paul says about bearing the sword and ... um ... the whole history of Christian political philosophy since St. Augustine.

Also DID the Church ever effectively have a de-fide or otherwise-binding power to pronounce a war just or unjust. He seems to answer both ways -- he says both that we need "the recovery of the Church’s sense that it needs to be the place where these decisions get discerned is absolutely crucial" (how would having this sense square with the current Catechism) and his words about the medieval prince as a church instrument, subject to interdicts and whatnot. While stating of JWT that "I can’t think of a single instance where it was used to stop violence." He also goes way too quickly in seeming to use "war" and "violence" to be interchangeable terms.

And his "Eucharistic" claims are just "We are the World" sentimentalism that sits uneasily alongside his hatred for globalization, his rejection of universal subjectivity and his being mystified that free-markets produce homogeneity (the really serious critics of capitalism have always understood that it would do that, so why is he trying "to understand this phenomenon" and wondering "Where does that come from?")

We get same the same ignorance of economics that seems to be a job-requirement for Catholic intellectuals -- Where is this "Big Fence" that he talks about as if there weren't an 8-digit number of illegals already in the US; There is no "race to the bottom" because if that were the logic of capitalism simply, we'd already be there, and Ethiopia would be the world's industrial superpower. His pitting of "capital" against "labor"

We get the same ignorance of diplomacy that seems to be the other job-requirement for Catholic intellectuals -- Osama bin Laden doesn't give a shit about Mossadeq for too many reasons to count (Cavanaugh is really just betraying his own agenda here). And he can't exactly protest the loss of political community in the modern state (a collection of amoral consumers, "like dying for the phone company" etc.) while complaining about the side effect of any serious political community (something that WAS much stronger in earlier times), namely that all are circumscribed by that political identity and share in its fate ("the state made these terrorist enemies for us in the first place"; the Mafia analogy).


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