Sunday, December 11, 2016

What does a family teach?

According to Esolen and his reading of Pope Leo XIII's writings, a family is a true society and must be obedient to legitimate authority.  The leader of a family is the father, whose authority comes from God. (This, of course, does not mean that the father is better than the mother.)  The father himself must be obedient to God and faithful in his duties.  In particular, husbands should "live considerately with your wives" (1 Peter 3:7), and fathers must work together to establish good schools for their children.

More generally, parents must (and have the right to) teach their children about what is true and right, including the truth about God and His creation.  A solid education starts with sound philosophy (such as that of St. Thomas Aquinas), for true philosophy leads one to God.

In a family, a child has a history, a place in the story of creation, and a relationship with God and His people.  In a family, a child learns to live with others and to live for others.

On the other hand, what will a government without God teach?  It will teach that marriage is an agreement defined and controlled by the state; that divorce should be simple and marriages are temporary; and that the state should teach the children because transient parents cannot.  In this way, the state will remove fathers from families and corrupt their children, who will learn nothing except the "most abject theories of Materialism."

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Importance of Families

According to Esolen and his reading of Pope Leo XIII's writings, the family is "the cradle of civil society" and the "foundation of all other societies."  A family is not like a brick in a building or a group of workers in an ant colony; instead, it is a small but whole society, it reflects the life of God, who is a society of love, and it has rights that the State must recognize and respect.

Without families, society dissolves into chaos (cf. Lord of the Flies) or becomes totalitarian (cf. Brave New World).

In a family that begins with a good marriage, the father and mother raise children who are "animated by a good spirit and filled with reverence and love for God" and who seek to "obey those who rule justly and lawfully, to love all, and to injure no one," for Christian faith opposes tyranny and unjust laws.  This faith helps our reason understand creation, and our reason clarifies our faith and protects it from error.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Political liberty

According to Esolen and his reading of Pope Leo XIII's writings, modern man views freedom as an exercise of the will.  This, however, has no aim because it denies God and human nature.  In a society that accepts this view of liberty, the government must "stand in for God," and it will compel everyone to support it as it grows with nothing to stop it.  This leads to tyranny and mob rule.

On the other hand, in a just state, human law embodies God's law, and the government respects true liberty and therefore appeals to the hearts of its citizens.  In a just state, all will be "free to live according to law and right reason" and have "the unimpeded capacity to fulfill our God-ordained end" (to enjoy the very life of God).

In other words, doing whatever we want may sound like freedom, but some things are unreasonable because we're not meant to do them, they won't make us happy ultimately, and our society will fall apart.  We're better off if our laws follow God's laws and keep us on the path to true happiness.

Monday, November 21, 2016

First principles and human realities

I've started reading Anthony Esolen's Reclaiming Catholic Social Teaching. I hope to post occasionally my notes on Esolen's book.

To understand our world and our lives, one must begin with and reason from the correct first principles but also use common sense about human nature. That is, one must be aware of the limitations that men and women have and avoid an idealism that ignores that reality.

 Pope Leo XIII, who was the pope from 1878 to 1903 (when Saint Leo University was founded), worked in this way, using reason to apply to current concerns the truths that Jesus taught. Leo began by considering why God made men and women; that is, what is our purpose? What is the meaning of life? (Not "42"!)

God, who is love, made men and women, in his image, to enjoy the very life of God. God, the Trinity, is a society; in the same, men and women belong in a society. Society should be built on this fact; otherwise, the society will be built on wrong principles, and our attempts to make it better will make it worse. A false society is dominated by passion and appetite.

A true society might look like the world in the painting The Angelus. A man and a woman, a poor married couple, when they hear the bells from the church, pause from their work in the open field to pray. A true society would recognize that we have both material and spiritual needs. In the painting, the couple's work is good, and their prayer is good. When our material needs are met, we are free to pursue our spiritual needs, to seek virtue and truth. Moreover, before God, we are all equal, and we are bound as brothers to help each other achieve these needs.