Applied Ethics: Peter Kreeft’s Summa Philosophica Part VIII

Read Part VI.

Remember, we’re doing summaries of summaries here; only bare sketches are possible. Buy his book for more detail.

Question VIII is Applied Ethics. Time to get dirty!

Article 1: Whether there is a moral obligation to worship God?

Yes. Yet the Qur’an teaches “there must be no compulsion in matter of religion”, plus not everybody knows or believes God exists.

And what about those folks not exposed to religion? St Paul says that knowledge of God is “clearly perceived in the things that have been made.” Paul “does not argue that [pagans] were wicked because they did not know the truth but that they did not know the truth because they were wicked: ‘who by their wickedness suppress the truth.’…And St. John also diagnoses evil as the cause of ignorance rather than ignorance as the cause of evil…This obligation [to worship God] is known by nature, and binds.”

Obligation is not the same as compulsion. Moral obligation itself does not work by compulsion but by free conscience, as the Qur’anic quotation says. Enforcing a moral obligation by public and civil sanctions does add compulsion, and this is an argument for the separation of church and state, contrary to what Muslims practice, but it is not an argument for a denial of the moral obligation itself to worship God.

Article 2: Whether it is immoral to worship idols?

Certainly; and this includes the Mighty Dollar, you “consumer” you.

If God is the infinitely perfect Creator, then this…excludes the worship of any finite creature whatsoever, including abstract causes, ideas, or ideals, as well as concrete things and people, whether others or oneself—or one’s pleasure, wealth, health, honor, comfort, intelligence, freedom, or virtue.

Article 3: Whether leisure is as necessary for man as work?

Yes, so go home. Kreeft reminds, “Higher civilizations appeared only among those peoples who cultivated leisure.” David Stove (yes, another plug) often said the only path to learning is quiet and leisure. So remove the thinking suppression device from your skull, switch off the IQ-lowering box, and take a walk to no place in particular. Maybe even read a book. Make it a real one because if it’s connected to the internet or on a computer you will invariably be distracted.

Article 4: Whether family and ancestors must be revered?

Of course! Such a question would not have seemed necessary, say forty years ago, since the answer was blindingly obvious. Now we don’t see as well.

[H]onor to family and ancestors is morally obligatory because it is a debt of justice. In fact the debt of justice owed to one’s parents and ancestors cannot possibly be adequately repaid, for our parents transmitted to us human life itself…and our ancestors invented almost all the good things, physical and spiritual, that we inherit by entering the world they civilized.

Part of reverence is respect for tradition. Chesterton:

Tradition means giving a vote to most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our father.

Article 5: Whether private property is a natural right?


[S]tealing another’s private property would not be wrong by nature if the possession of private property was not a right.

Also, “the original version of the American Declaration of Independence spoke of three nature, ‘inalienable’ rights: life, liberty and property (which was changed to ‘the pursuit of happiness’ for rhetorical purposes).”

Article 6: Whether it is ever right to kill?

Yes, especially for dinner.

The use of lethal force when necessary to protect innocent human life does not claim the authority to remove the natural right to life, but responds to the fact that the attacker has already done so…

The Hebrew word misleadingly translated “kill” means not all forcible taking of human life, but only murder. In fact, though private vengeance was outlawed, the right of capital punishment was instituted, by the same Authority that have this commandment.

There are many worried what will happen to the culture if the state refuses its duty to punish capital crime.

Article 7: Whether it is ever right to lie?

No, not really. But what about lying to the murderer about where his victim is hiding? Or to the government who is after your neighbor for a thought crime? Or to your wife (if we’re still allowed to use that word) when she asks about the possibility of excess poundage?

Lying breaks trust, “which is obviously a great evil.” What is a lie? “[T]he deliberate contradiction between what one knows or believes and what one says to one who has a right to know the truth.” Note carefully the last condition. Also know that there “is no universal right to know the truth about everything, even if tyrants, the paparazzi, and the media may assume they have such a right.”

Lying is bearing false witness; but not all speakers are in the position of giving witness, for a witness swears to tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

Telling the murderer an untruth is not lying, nor is refusing to rat out your neighbor, and everybody knows “Am I too fat” always means “Do you still love me?” “[D]eliberately deceiving those who have no right to know is not lying.”

St Thomas agrees with St Augustine that one may “prudently conceal the truth by some dissimulation” in certain situations. Like if your wife really wants to know about her pants size.

Article 8: Whether sex is sacred and not to be adulterated?

Yes. The commonest objection is that before the sexual “revolution”—a state of internal war with bitter fighting and gruesome casualties—“when sex was seen as a sacred taboo, mankind lived in fear and superstition about sex.” We are now “liberated” and even schools should and “must” teach (by example) kiddies porn is good.

Yet isn’t it curious that every culture except the modern West’s have approached sex and death (its natural pairing) “with awe and reverence, surrounded them with taboos, proprieties, ceremonies, and laws, and taken great care not to adulterate them.” Now “the sacredness of sex can be deduced from two premises: the sacredness of each individual person and the fact that sex is his origin.” To call sex “sacred is not to deny its ‘secular’ status in reason and nature.”

The casualties of the sexual revolution? Glad you asked: “divorce, and the dead victims of backup birth control, or abortion.” Children born in wedlock. Now marriage and the family. Soon civilization.

Article 9: Whether lust is evil?

Yes. On the other hand, “Condemning lust causes fear, guilt, a low self-image, and a lack of self-esteem, and these are evils. Therefore it is the condemnation of lust, rather than lust itself, that is evil.” Oh! Don’t hurt anybody’s feelings, you brute!

Lust treats people as objects, as ends to your personal means. The ends do not justify the means.

Lust is disordered because it is selfish. It is selfish because instead of loving the other as such, for his or her own sake, it loves the experience of sexual pleasure in oneself…The commonest opposite and enemy of love is not hate but use.

Is lust “natural”? Depends on what you mean by “natural”. If it’s “behavior that is observed” then lust is natural, but then so is murder and theft. If instead it’s “behavior that complies with a man’s essence” then it is not natural and is a perversion.

Article 10: Whether greed is evil?

Yes, Ayn, it is.

Recall Marley’s lament—and warning:

‘Business!’ cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. ‘Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!’

Greed is selfishness, as is lust. Yet some see greed, masked by the sometime euphemism “profit motive”, is good and that it “stimulates” the economy. But this does not prove that greed is good, “but that the world economy is bad because it is dependent on something bad, viz. on disordered human desires not on genuine human needs.” Plus this little tidbit:

“Richer” does not entail “happier.” Suicide, the most obvious index of happiness, is found much more among the rich than among the poor.

And so is institutionalized lust, abortion, divorce, etc.

Read Part IX.


  1. Luis

    The casualties of the sexual revolution? Glad you asked: “divorce, and the dead victims of backup birth control, or abortion.” Children born in wedlock. Now marriage and the family. Soon civilization.

    Really, do you honestly believe in all this bull? Really? I thought only mad people would revel in this kind of silliness.

    People were once forbidden to divorce, now they aren’t. And lo and behold, now there’s more divorce!!! People were once forbidden to abort, now they are not. Lo and behold there’s more abortion going on!!! And this is what will make the civilization go dark. Briggs, you’re in the bubble. Get out of the bubble. Take a vacation of ten years from your christian life and get to know how other people actually live their lives.

    You won’t do so, nor will you ever understand a non-christian way of life.

  2. Ye Olde Statistician

    And lo and behold, now there’s more divorce!!!

    And lo and behond countless women are living in poverty

    Lo and behold there’s more abortion going on!!!

    And lo and behond countless babies have been slain.

    And this is what will make the civilization go dark.

    What do you mean “will”?

  3. Briggs


    Kind of interesting that Japan, whose people still retain strong reverence for family, but who have fewer taboos on public demonstrations of sex don’t have them. I mean sex and families. Didn’t we read somewhere that the major diaper factory there last year for the first time sold more adult diapers than infant diapers? And then there are all those creepy guys inventing creepier robots to replace real women. I recall seeing recently a new robot which simulates hugs from non-existent girlfriends.

    Interestingly, abortion is (technically) illegal there. So instead of relying on that it appears the people are using contraceptives and abstinence (the fool proof method). Demographers are projecting Japan’s population to plummet. Genes aren’t too selfish there.

  4. Luis

    Yes, what they lack is God, clearly. If only they listened to that great line “Go and multiply [like the sheep you are]”. Come on, Briggs you are jumping the shark multiple times here. No, civilization won’t crumble due to lack of christian faith. That’s just you projecting your own insecurities to the rest of the world.

    And so what if some people have less kids and somewhat diminish their population numbers? Is that the armageddon? It’s not the best thing that could happen, but come on. And no matter how much theatrical you get, this drama over killing a thousand celled micro-organism as if you killed a human being is medieval – Yes I know you americans allow a eight month baby to be culled, and I find that abhorrent, but that’s just one more example of how you americans have just crazy laws and rules.

  5. Luis

    What do you mean “will”?

    Oh I forgot that to you guys the world has already crumbled into a liberal nightmare. If that’s true, then I’ll just sing REM’s song joyfully. “It’s the end of the world and I feel fiiiiiiiine”

  6. Ye Olde Statistician

    People have always felt fine during the end of the world, precisely because they have thrown off the rules of their society. The twilight of Late Antiquity was an exciting time, and it would have been hard to convince many people then that it was all tumbling down. Likewise the autumn of the Middle Ages was a colorful and fun time. The collapse of the Modern Ages is in no way different. Women used as sex objects and babies slaughtered is just the price of having fun and feeling fine; but then I’m a Modern, more or less.

  7. Luis

    Yes, I’m sure the civilizations of the 18, 19th century were much better, where the peasants knew their place, women’s place was to breed and shut up under the foster and care of their master men, wars were the highest point a young man would likely achieve in his (short) lifespan, beer was forbiden (now how did that work?), and abortion didn’t exist (but everywhere where the burgeouis didn’t look nor count).

    Yes, all this 21st century civilization is clearly in the end times. I mean, people discussing gay marriages instead of nuclear deterrance with Russia, people having fun rather than honorly dying in just wars, people not having so much babies rather than forcing women to have their 10th child (and probably dying in the process).

    Yes, clearly we are going all downhill from now on.

  8. William Sears

    Welcome back Luis, I’ve missed your angry rants. Maybe you have heard of the English expression “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”. What is the purpose of your posts? You surely do not expect to convince anyone with your current approach since it will almost certainly harden opposition to your views. Do you wish only to denounce Briggs, and by extension the rest of us? Don’t get me wrong as I think that there are a few nuggets of useful debate in your posts. I just think that you would be much more effective if they were presented with civility and maybe some humor.

  9. Luis

    Yes, you are right, but I have no particular agenda. I am just baffled that someone actually thinks those things written in the OP have any sense whatsoever, so I don’t think I’m being “angry”, more like in shock. When I ask “really? Really?”, it’s really befuddlement that intelligent people really think civilization is crossing the line towards doom and the problem is divorce and gay marriages. This, coming from the generation that was (ALLEGEDLY) under the fear of nuclear anihilation, literally. I still remember vividly Feynmann saying that right after WW2 he really wondered what were the bridge builders doing, weren’t they nuts building anything whatsoever since everything was soon going all to be destroyed? That was a crazy time. Or how about all those wars raging Europe in crescendo until WW2? Were those better times? According to the poster, yeah!

    I’m used to be surprised around here, but today wow. I … wow.

  10. Ye Olde Statistician

    The love of theory is the root of all evil. That includes a theoretical history full of stereotypes that validate one’s present worldview by portraying the Other as less worthy — precisely insofar as they did not exemplify that worldview.

    The collapse of a world is not always an entirely bad thing. The twilight of Late Antiquity lost classical literature and cultured refinement, but it also lost a ruthless colonialism and an unparalleled cruelty. The Modern Ages were already post-Christian at their birth, half a thousand years ago. Its dimensions were the Age of Europe, the Age of the Bourgeois, of the State, of Money and Industry, of the City, of Privacy, Family, and Schooling. It was the Age of the Book, of Representative Art, and of Science. All of that began to brew up five hundred years ago, and all of it is losing its fizz today. But not all of it was bad, and some things may be sorely missed.

    The collapse of the family is not a Christian thing. It would have horrified the pagans, too. And the liberals of the 1950s, who warned against “defining deviancy down.”

  11. Ye Olde Statistician

    it’s really befuddlement that intelligent people really think civilization is crossing the line towards doom and the problem is divorce and gay marriages.

    Those are symptoms, not causes. IOW, calling gay unions “marriages” will not cause the Modern Ages to collapse. It is the collapse of modernity that has led to calling gay unions “marriages.” Notice that there was never any push to do this while marriages were still supposed to be monogamous and could not be dissolved on a whim. See Andrew Sullivan or Masha Gessen for details.

  12. Stephen J.

    An odd thing to fixate upon, perhaps, but I find some objections occurring in my own mind to the obligation to revere one’s ancestors:

    1) What of those individuals who have been abused, neglected or abandoned by their parents? Does the scope of the debt owed diminish with the quality of the life provided, or with the intent or purpose of the parents in its creation?

    2) If the creation of life through the marital act is (as is often argued) God’s action, and the parents and their union ultimately only the transmitters of a property rather than the true originator of it, should the creditor for this debt of reverence not properly be God rather than the parents?

    3) If, in fact, the debt of reverence for the gift of life cannot ever truly be repaid, in what sense is it just to insist upon continual efforts towards “repayment” nevertheless? As the prohibition against usury shows, a loan whose principal was so large, or whose interest forever increased just quickly enough, that the borrower could never repay it would be an unjust enslavement; parallels in dysfunctional and exploitative families are easy enough to imagine.

    I myself accept the idea of inherent duties to an office that supersede any abuses or failures of specific holders of that office. But in our functionalist age, questions like these should be anticipated, I think.

  13. Stephen J.

    And some other questions that occur, again not in the spirit of hostile challenge, but in the desire to obtain more useful elaborations:

    4) If we stipulate that a moral obligation to worship God can be perceived by natural reason, even for those not exposed to religion, how (in terms of practical, real day-to-day actions and choices) can this obligation be fulfilled in the absence of instruction in the proper methods of so doing?

    5) At what point does investment in a goal, cause, property, person, image or ideal cross the line into “worship”? To whom shall we give the privilege of declaring, “Giving X time to your career is licit; giving X + 1 hour to your career is to worship it, and thus anathema”?

    6) At what point does the natural desire to improve one’s own economic circumstances cross the line into “greed”? To whom shall we give the privilege of declaring, “You are poor, and your desire for more is a moral obligation upon the rest of us; whereas *you* are rich, and your desire for more is a grave moral sin”?

    Edited to renumber to make it easier for those wishing to comment.

  14. Briggs

    Stephen J,

    I’ll have a stab. These are all great questions. Initial thoughts only.

    1) To an extent, yes. If your dad is coming after you with a hatchet you don’t have to accept his gift. I don’t think the obligation function tapers off to zero, but instead thresholds to some positive level, if I may use a mathematical analogy. I don’t know what this level is.

    2) But, as you hear, if Mary said no, we would all be damned. So even if all life were from God, he still needs two people saying yes. And for that we owe thanks.

    3) Not sure I follow, but with parents, see (1); for how long we should hold to tradition, it seems not forever, at least not for all things. For some things it sure would be nice. In order to make sense of this, we’d have to pick off individual traditions and discuss them one by one.

    4) Well I don’t think this means knowing just when to kneel, when to stand, which prayer to mumble, etc. Perhaps worship is really more of a willed acknowledgement of one’s proper place.

    5) Great question. I haven’t any idea. Probably when the it intrudes into other necessary duties, like when a gambler takes out a second mortgage. Or that you take a second job or accept a promotion only to earn more money to buy yet another big-screen TV. Have to look at individual actions again.

    6) Same as (5)?

  15. JH

    Leftists liberals, and progressives like J. Hanson say civilization would be at risk due to global warming if we don’t do anything. Rightist, conservatives and regressives like M. Briggs say that civilization would SOON be among the casualties of the sexual revolution. (What a pleasure it is to label people.) Who cares about the causes! The important this is that leftists and rightists have achieved a consensus: civilization will soon be destroyed. We are doomed.

  16. William Sears

    Are you a regressive, Briggs? What an odd label, JH. Remember that most labels are political propaganda. Even left versus right started out that way among the early soviets (post 1917). Although it refers to the French Estates-General seating arrangement, the political connotation didn’t start then.

    Stephen J, your points 5 & 6 seem to assume that wealth and career advancement are a zero sum game and therefore represent greed. This is not so, except maybe in government which relies on taxation. In private industry people become rich by supplying a desired service and increasing the amount of wealth in the world. In accepting a promotion one fills a job that needs to be done. Without promotion into positions of responsibility and without the generation of wealth, society quickly degenerates into poverty and a state of general misery. I’m sure that you can think of many examples world wide where individual initiative was been discouraged, often violently, and this has happened.

  17. Briggs


    I prefer retrogressive, thank you very much.

  18. William Sears

    Briggs, I must defend Ebenezer Scrooge. I greatly enjoy the Alastair Sim version as the only one worth watching, mainly because you can see in that one that Scrooge is the hero of the story in much the same way that Winston Smith is the hero of “1984”. Scrooge is visited by the three ghosts of socialism, or is it Christmas, and is persuaded (tortured) to renounce his retrogressive ways and to declare that he loves Big Brother, or something like that. When I watch the movie I like to note that he is justified in his actions at every stage of his life, whether it is saving a company from bankruptcy and thus the jobs of its employees, ensuring that loans are paid so that funds are available for future borrowers, rejecting a high maintenance girl friend, and so on. It is all great fun, although you might say that Scrooge doesn’t get much enjoyment out of life as noted by his nephew. Such is the price for a life of unstinting service to humanity. Sort of like a monk or priest with a vow of poverty and a diet of gruel since Scrooge’s wealth is poured back into his company and not spent on personal luxuries.

    I have this vague feeling that I may have told you this before.

  19. Bill S

    Dudes and Dudettes,
    It appears to me that “LD” only shows up when Briggs uses the G word.
    Anybody out there sophisticated enough to delve into the question of whether or not
    “LD” is a bot?

  20. MattS

    Bill S,

    AI is not nearly as sophisticated as some people would like us to believe. “LD” is far too annoying to be a bot.

  21. Luis

    We are all bots, or at least there’s a theory going around that we are so.

    However annoying I am to you, you can be positively sure you are annoying to me, and you do appear less sophisticated in your replies, so let’s bring that question if a certain commenter is a bot again.

    Again, YOS, to say that “gay marriage” is a symptom, may be correct but the way I see it, it is a symptom that people are not as bigoted as in the 1950s, when people like Turing were jailed for their atrocious gayness, submitted to chemical castration and ultimately led to commit suicide. Now those were the times! Much better! We didn’t have to suffer “Gay parade” stuff, or spend 5 minutes explaining to our children that we should understand that people might have different sexual inclinations and should respect them. No, those times where we could be free to bully, harass, demonize and make faggots suicide without public upheaval were the times where we didn’t have to worry about the decline of western civilization.

    Nevermind that in such times we lived under nuclear threat. How rude of me even to suggest that nuclear anihilation is a worse worry than gay marriage. YOS you say that I’m stereotyping present time over the others, but what are you doing except exactly that, when declaring that the world is going downhill? Hypocrisy much?

    I’m with JH here. Liberals freaking out about doomsday thermaggedon, conservative christians freaking out about family gaymaggedon. Why won’t you guys just chill the hell out.

  22. Ye Olde Statistician

    Nothing so spectacular as X-ageddon. Georges Bernanos wrote: “A civilization disappears with the kind of man, the type of humanity, that has issued from it.” The Modern Ages weren’t all rainbows and fluffy bunnies. I’ll see your 1950s gay bashing and raise you a continually escalating series of wars and secularism. But I’ll miss parliaments and science.

    I don’t know why you want to pick on the 1950s: that was the decade that saw an end to lynchings, the invention of the video tape recorder, the bar code, optic fiber, tetracycline, the black box flight recorder, modems, lasers, and integrated circuits. Segregation was ruled illegal and Rosa Parks would not give up her seat. The EEC was established, and the first satellites were launched. People could leave their houses unlocked, their keys in their cars, and their children roaming freely about town. Death rates in automobiles plummeted. Black families were still largely intact.

    Despite this, the collapse of the Modern Ages was already well-advanced by the 1950s. That was when people began saying “I feel that…” in place of “I think that…”, when the Adult Abdication set the stage for the Youth Revolution that followed. “Measured, cool reflection” was on its way out; “committed, hot activism” was on its way in. “Square” became a pejorative, “progress” was said with a smirk. Reasoned debate and considered views gave way to naked will. “I choose. Don’t ask me to give reasons – I just choose!” The boring adult world of achieved self-discipline abdicated to an exciting adolescent world of spontaneity and desire. But as Nietzsche had warned earlier, youth is more fascinated with the sputtering fuse than with the explosion to follow.

    But the roots were earlier than even the mutual suicide pact of 1914-45, because the breakdown could be seen along certain lines of the Modern West even at the fin de siecle.

    Just over a half-century ago, certain thinkers began to sense that our era was drawing to an end. Romano Guardini wrote The End of the Modern World in 1950, followed by Jacques Barzun, The House of Intellect, in 1959. In 1970, the historian John Lukacs picked up the theme in The Passing of the Modern Age. At the same time, startled by the Great Northeast Blackout of 1965, electrical engineer Roberto Vacca wrote The Coming Dark Age. Lukacs revisited At the End of an Age in 2002 and Jane Jacobs warned us of Dark Age Ahead in 2004. A few years later Maggie Jackson wrote Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age. By 1900, “artist” and “artisan” had parted company; by the late 1900s, “urban” and “urbane” no longer meant the same thing. After 1960, the term “post modern” made a dramatic entrance.

  23. Yawrate

    Dias, calm down. Briggs along with others here see the dissolution of the family as something that will greatly diminish our way of life in these United States of which gay marriage is only a symptom…demographics is destiny. I think most people here see that civilization has become better over time…were not arguing that point.

  24. William Sears

    Well reasoned, YOS: I give credit where credit is due. There is also Jacques Barzun’s “From Dawn to Decadence” which is excellent although long.

    Luis, you forgot to add the humor. It is not a crime to disagree with you and people will take your anger as a sign of a weak position.

  25. Luis

    I don’t know why you want to pick on the 1950s: that was the decade that saw an end to lynchings, the invention of the video tape recorder, the bar code, optic fiber, tetracycline, the black box flight recorder, modems, lasers, and integrated circuits. Segregation was ruled illegal and Rosa Parks would not give up her seat.

    The nerd of the ni**er. Worse than that, a woman. What is wrong with society? And don’t get me started on that “inter-racial” marriage thing. This whacked liberalism will destroy America and then the world! What next? Church decriminalizing the Jews from Theocide? Oh damn, we can’t have that, we all know how those guys are the devil. No, no no. We must stick to what we value today because if otherwise, it’s hell on earth. We already see the symptoms of this. Just look at all those people marrying for love for godsakes! Everyone knows marriage has never been about love. Jesus * Christ.

    Edited: you should know better.

  26. Ye Olde Statistician

    This whacked liberalism will destroy America and then the world!

    Dude, it is liberalism that’s being destroyed.
    + + +
    What next? Church decriminalizing the Jews from Theocide?

    Too late:
    “Furthermore men of all ranks and conditions were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. Gentiles and Jews were the advisers, the authors, the ministers of his passion: Judas betrayed him, Peter denied him, all the rest deserted him. … In this guilt are involved all those who fall frequently into sin; for, as our sins consigned Christ the Lord to the death of the cross, most certainly those who wallow in sin and iniquity crucify to themselves again the Son of God, as far as in them lies, and make a mockery of him. This guilt seems more enormous in us than in the ancient Jews, since according to the testimony of the same Apostle: if they had known it, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory; while we, on the contrary, professing to know him, yet denying him by our actions, seem in some sort to lay violent hands on him.”
    Catechism of the Council of Trent, 16th cent.
    + + +
    Certain of the clergy, and princes, nobles and great lords of your cities and dioceses have falsely devised certain godless plans against the Jews, unjustly depriving them by force of their property, and appropriating it themselves;… they falsely charge them with dividing up among themselves on the Passover the heart of a murdered boy… they are filled with rage against them, rob them of their possessions without any formal accusation, without confession, and without legal trial and conviction, contrary to the privileges granted to them by the Apostolic See… They oppress the Jews by starvation, imprisonment, and by tortures and sufferings; they afflict them with all kinds of punishments, and sometimes even condemn them to death, so the Jews, although living under Christian princes, are in a worse plight than were their ancestors in the land of the Pharaohs. They are driven to leave in despair the land in which their fathers have dwelt since the memory of man…. Since it is our pleasure that they shall not be disturbed, … we ordain that ye behave towards them in a friendly and kind manner. Whenever any unjust attacks upon them come under your notice, redress their injuries, and do not suffer them to be visited in the future by similar tribulations.
    Bull of Innocent IV to the bishops of France and Germany, 1247  
    + + +
    Whereas the Jews are made to the image of God, and a remnant of them will one day be saved, and whereas they have besought our protection: following in the footsteps of our predecessors we command that they be not molested in their synagogues; that their laws, rights, and customs be not assailed; that they be not baptized by force, constrained to observe Christian festivals, nor to wear any new badges, and they be not hindered in their business relations with Christians.
    — Declaration of Martin V, 1419

    Sure, and it’s not the Church, but “the 99%” you have to look out for.

  27. Luis

    The problem of books like “Dark Age Ahead” is that their truth statements depend upon accepting that the previous era was a golden one, filled with honor, lacking curruption, etc. So when she says that people are losing their values, losing restraint, and all the lists she puts, you will only agree with it if you already accept the premise that these traits existed in the first place. But they didn’t. They never did. And the irony is that she talks about the people having this massive amnesia, never even remembering what was lost, but what is happening here is that she’s the one who is having a massive dose of amnesia by romanticizing a past that never was, and blaming the society for leaving a pure state that never existed. IOW, she is mostly delusional. Yes, societies change, and that means that some things that worked well in the past, places where things worked without curruption and so on, are now probably places filled with spider webs, untalented people and curruption. But in other areas that were filled with full-blown bigotry, hatred, violence, tyranny, totalitarianism, fascism, whatever have you, we are better.

    So if you wanna focus on the bad, you are losing a lot. Quite a lot.

  28. Ye Olde Statistician

    The problem of books like “Dark Age Ahead” is that their truth statements depend upon accepting that the previous era was a golden one, filled with honor, lacking curruption, etc.

    Do you mean to say that the Roman Empire was a golden age, filled with honor, lacking corruption, etc. Or do you mean that you don’t think the aftermath of its collapse in the West was not a Dark Age full of barbarians and the smell of burning cities and books?

    Interestingly, Jane Jacobs is a liberal.

  29. LD does not appear to be a bot. He comments on other sites, some Catholic. I recognized the name from another blog I had read.

    I truly hope Luis does not think today’s attitudes toward gays is somehow enlightened, though I fear from his writing, he does. Actually, it’s kind of like the women’s movement. Neither group, gays or women, wanted equality or fairness, just to punish and punish and punish those who held them down. The new “fairness” is: You homophobes were mean to us so we are going to have you charged with hate crimes, fired and generally abused if you cross us now that we are in power.” There’s no fairness or caring in any of this. It’s revenge, plain and simple. Go along with the “new” power structure or pay dearly. Not one bit better than the old way, just a reversal of roles in the play.

    As for “society is really better now”, it’s better to have drive-by shootings, school shootings, bombings, children living in poverty, gangs, extreme hatred (“I kill all the white people in the movie. How great is that?” from Jamie Foxx doesn’t seem like caring a new found tolerance to me)?

    Luis focuses on the positives and omits the negatives. Things will never be perfect. Things can be better or can be worse. We aim for better and hope we don’t land on worse. Removing the rules from society, as is done today, will not make society better. Never has, never will.

  30. Briggs


    Luis, while his language sometimes escapes him, is a sweetheart and I have every hope we can bring him back into the fold.

  31. Agreed. Luis gets get people to think. I have no problem with him.

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