Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Santorum’s views on the Earth is questionable

The other day Rick Santorum attacked President Obama for having a "phony theology," an apparent reference to the President's belief that man should do what he can, whatever he can, to protect this earth on which we all live, the earth that is, not counting the Newt Gingrich plan for lunar colonization, the only place we, our children, their children and forever into the future have to live.
Santorum called this concern for a healthy planet as being a religion that puts the earth "above man."  I suppose he's talking about the concern scientists and most thinking people have with climate change and what we are doing to affect it.  Anyway, it's all "phony," he says, this serious concern about what we're doing to the earth, all part of a "phony theology."
So I wonder who else believes in this "phony theology" Santorum derides from his electoral pulpit.
Here's someone I came across who believes in climate change and what we need to do about it.  It's someone addressing diplomats just last month.
"Environmental protection and the connection between fighting poverty and fighting climate change are important areas for the promotion of integral human development.  For this reason, I hope that, pursuant to the seventeenth session of the Conference of States Parties to the UN Convention on Climate Change recently concluded in Durban, the international community will prepare for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development as an authentic "family of nations" and thus with a great sense of solidarity and toward present and future generations." 
Who is this figure summoning the nations of the world to band together as a "family" to work on the problem of global climate change?  Who is this person dabbling in what Rick Santorum calls "phony theology?

It's Pope Benedict XVI, leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

So where does Santorum get "his" theology on climate change and other environmental concerns.  Where does he get this odd language of Christians have "dominion" over the earth?  Could he be getting it from the faction known as "dominionists," who also believe that Christians should control civil society as well as their church? Could an American politician really be talking theocracy - control over the state by a religion?
Keep your ears open.  This is getting interesting.

Santorum: Climate Science Is Obama’s ‘Phony Theology’

This Sunday, Republican presidential candidate and conspiracy theorist Rick Santorum argued that climate science is President Barack Obama’s “phony theology.” On CBS’s Face The Nation, Santorum was asked to justify his recent controversial claim that President Obama has a “phony theology” that’s not “based on the Bible.” Santorum replied that he was describing the Obama administration’s actions based on the science behind man-made global warming. Obama’s acceptance of science, Santorum said, is a “worldview that elevates the Earth above man“:
When you have a worldview that elevates the Earth above man and says that we can’t take those resources because we’re going to harm the Earth; by things that frankly are just not scientifically proven, for example, the politicization of the whole global warming debate — this is all an attempt to, you know, to centralize power and to give more power to the government.
Watch it:

On Monday, Santorum expanded on his conspiracy theories, saying that global warming is “political science,” not “climate science.”

Rick Santorum and Theology

Thursday, February 23, 2012

In the history of the Roman Catholic there are many theologians; some are more famous than others. For example, you may have heard of St. Thomas Aquinas. He is one of the Doctores Ecclesiae or "Doctors in the Church". These writers have received this title on account of the great advantage the whole Church has derived from their doctrine. St. Augustine of Hippo is another theologian that has this title, along with  St. Ambrose of Milan and St. John Chrysostom to name a few.

So, what if I told you that President Obama and St. Thomas Aquinas have something in common? In a way they do. If we look at what former Sen. Rick Santorum said about President Obama recently, we would see that Obama and Aquinas have something in common. Whey do I say this? Allow me to explain.

Santorum said the following about Obama but, before I go on: it is true that Santorum spoke later about this issue to "clarify" his remarks. However, that does not take away from what I am trying to get to and I ask you my dear reader to hang on with me on this. Santorum said: It’s not about you. It’s not about you. It’s not about your quality of life. It’s not about your job. It’s about some phony ideal, some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology, but no less a theology.

Let us take the last sentence of that paragraph: 
Oh, not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology, but no less a theology. Now, I am a student of Theology. By this I mean, that I have taken courses in Theology; one of classes was an independent study class I took a few summers ago called "The Theology of St. Augustine". With the help of my professor, I read and studied many of Augustine's works including some that I was already familiar with like Confessions, and others like Free Choice Of The Will. I also read a lot of theologians. As I say all this let me be clear: I DO NOT consider myself a Theologian or an "expert" in Theology. Again, I am only a student of Theology. (Note: This is something that I enjoy and if you know me personally you may have seen me at a coffeeshop with books by Augustine, Tillich, Bonhoeffer, Rahner, etc sometimes with a philosophy book by people like Nietzsche or Kierkegaard in the mix because let us face it: I am very much a theology/philosophy geek.)

If we take that sentence we will notice the following terms: theology and bible. Also, Santorum claims that Obama has a theology, but that this theology is not a theology based on the Bible. Since it would take a separate blog entry just on the word theology, the etymology of the word, what my professors said about this word, what it means, etc, I am not going to look at this here. My main focus is on Santorum's statement not a theology based on the Bible and my earlier statement: So, what if I told you that President Obama and St. Thomas Aquinas have something in common?
St. Thomas Aquinas

Let us take St. Thomas Aquinas; according to the Roman Catholic Church, the theology of Aquinas IS based on the bible; I personally know many fine priests and theologians that agree with this. I would also guess that since Santorum is a Roman Catholic that he would also agree with this. However, I also personally know many fine people that DO NOT think that the theology of Aquinas is biblical. In fact, some very famous in people in history said this. All you have to do is look at the writings and letters of the leaders of the Protestant Reformation. Let us pick one: Martin Luther.
Martin Luther
Among the many problems that Luther had with Aquinas, was the use of Aristotle by Aquinas and others after him. In his Prelude on the Babylonian Captivity of the Church Luther Luther wrote that the Church had the true faith for more than twelve hundred years. But that when the Church started to embrace the pseudo-philosophy of Aristotle it came up with false doctrines that were in his opinion unbiblical like the doctrine of Transubstantiation, that to him was forsooth, a monstrous word for a monstrous idea! This is not to say that Luther was "right" and the Roman Catholic Church was "wrong" on issues like these one. There are plenty of arguments and counterarguments on this.
But again we can ask: 
Whose theology is "not based" on the Bible?
Luther, or Aquinas? 
The Churches of the Protestant Reformation, or the Roman Catholic Church?

Obama or Santorum?

To Santorum, Obama's thelogy is not based on the bible. But to Luther, the theology of Aquinas (and the Roman Catholic Church) is not based on the bible and/or corrupted by unbiblical sources like Aristotle. And since Santorum is a Roman Catholic, Luther could say to him that his theology is not based on the bible. So again: who is being "unbiblical" or has a theology not based on the Bible? 

The answers depend on you my dear reader. In the meantime I will continue reading, studying, thinking, talking to people, asking questions, coming up with questions to the questions, etc. I believe that this is more productive than telling people that their theology is unbiblical or that their theology is not based on the Bible. I have no problem having a conversation about this issue (it happens all the time) but usually I don't start the conversation by firing a cannon; I prefer the weapons of conversation and coffee lol.  Also, as a Christian, I simply remind myself that when it comes to matters of Scripture, of Theology, and other related matters I remember that the Son of Man was ready to say that there were things that even he did not know (Matthew 24:36). Who knows...maybe one day Obama and Santorum (away from cameras and microphones) could have a nice chat about this over a beer. Yes, I may be dreaming but hey...I am only a human being.  :)



Senator Santorum’s Planet

February 24, 2012

If Rick Santorum is so staunch a Catholic, why does he often sound such a Protestant, not to say puritanical, note? His remarks about how President Obama’s world view is just “some phony theology” have received a lot of attention but too little examination. It turned out that Santorum was talking, in general terms, about “radical environmentalists,” and using environmentalism as a synecdoche for everything he abominates in secular progressive politics. “This idea that man is here to serve the earth as opposed to husband its resources and be good stewards of the earth” is, he maintained on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” “a phony ideal. I don’t believe that’s what we’re here to do. That man is here to use the resources and use them wisely, to care for the earth, to be a steward of the earth. But we’re not here to serve the earth. The earth is not the objective. Man is the objective, and I think a lot of radical environmentalists have it upside-down.” That kind of ideology, he complained, “elevates the earth above man.”
Put aside theology for a moment. Just intellectually, there are many peculiarities here. According to Santorum, environmentalists and leftists believe in serving the earth, while proper Christians “should have dominion over it, and should be good stewards of it.” The distinction Santorum is working here is between a very narrow definition of service as idol-worship (in which the earth becomes our fetish), and stewardship as responsible husbandry. He means, in effect: “Secularists have made a false idol of the earth, whereas God is the only true object of worship.” (And note that he can make this point only by taking the cherished Christian term “service” and casting secular dirt on it.) There may indeed be radical outliers in contemporary ecology for whom the survival of man is subservient to the survival of the world. But for most people anxious about the fate of the environment, service and stewardship would seem to go together. Note, too, that all this talk about making man the objective sounds quite like the supposed heresy of rational humanism. If you took away the theological context of Santorum’s screed, you would have a program for secular politics: Since we are here to serve man, then we should start getting busy with projects of political salvation, like universal health care, environmental protection, the alleviation of poverty, and so on.
Of course, it is not possible to put theology aside. I know the theological weight of that word, “steward.” When I was a boy, my mother, in the grip of her Scottish evangelical Protestantism, used to chide me for my untidy bedroom, adding that, as a Christian, it was an example of “poor stewardship.” Everything is the Lord’s, and our brief role on earth is merely to husband it in a right way, a way that gives the Lord His due. Christianity, with its emphasis on the afterlife, has always had a tendency to derogate earthly living as a kind of spectral vanity. And the early Christians, who like St. Paul were convinced that Jesus’s return, and thus the end of the known world, was imminent, had particular reason to treat life as a ghostly antechamber to the joys of eternity. There is a sharp difference between the other-worldly asceticism of Christianity and the life-filled practicality of Biblical Judaism, which has a vague or non-existent notion of the afterlife. It was this asceticism, among other irritants, that caused Nietzsche to accuse Christianity of turning life upside-down—of privileging sickness over health, weakness over strength, the life to come over the life here. “Christianity was, from the beginning, essentially and fundamentally, nausea and disgust with life, merely concealed behind, masked by, dressed up as, faith in ‘another’ or ‘better’ life,” he wrote in “The Birth of Tragedy.” As the secularist might see it, Santorum is the one who has got things upside-down.
The curious aspect of this apocalyptic asceticism is that it is more obviously associated with Protestantism and Puritanism than with the Catholic Church. Growing up, I was always struck by the relatively relaxed worldliness of Catholics. Their priests were officially barred from sex, but they enjoyed good food and wine, told dirty jokes, lived in the world, and so on. Catholics seemed to lay the emphasis on forgiveness rather than Calvinist damnation; the whole delicious mystery of the confessional bespoke a customary accommodation with the temptations and consolations of secular life. Historically, Protestantism came about, in part, as a reaction to such Catholic relaxation. And a major theme of Protestantism—more sharply focussed through the lens of Puritanism—became the image of life as a kind of shadow of the true life above; of our time on earth as a pilgrimage toward the heavenly kingdom. It is there in the works of John Hooper (c. 1500-1555), considered the father of English Puritanism, when he writes that we must “see, know and understand the vanities of this world, the shortness and misery of this life, and the treasures of the life to come.” It is there in John Bunyan’s “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” and omni-present in Jonathan Edwards’s work, notably in “The Christian Pilgrim,” when he writes that the enjoyment of God is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied:

To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodation here. Fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends are but shadows; but God is the substance.
Melville, brought up in the Dutch Reformed Calvinist faith, plays around with this kind of theology in “Moby-Dick,” when he has Captain Ahab claim that all visible objects are but “pasteboard masks.” Santorum may claim, as he did in 2008, that “mainline Protestantism in this country … is gone from the world of Christianity, as I see it,” but, with his attacks on “Satan” and “sensuality,” and his apocalyptic or even post-millennial Christianity, he often sounds like an eighteenth-century American Puritan.
Hence a particular impatience with the values of environmental conservation. For the apocalyptic Christian, sights set firmly on heavenly life, the earth might indeed be a finite and transitory thing, what William Blake wonderfully called a “mundane egg.” Man is what needs to be protected, because each of us is a soul, whose eternal fate is up for grabs.
So when Santorum says that we must be good stewards of the earth, there is religious zealotry behind the sweet words. He is proposing, in effect, that the earth is dispensable but that our souls are not; that we will all outlive the earth, whether in heaven or hell. The point is not that he is elevating man above the earth; it is that he is separating man and earth. If President Obama really does elevate earth over man (accepting Santorum’s absurd premise for a moment), then at least he believes in keeping man and earth together. Santorum’s brand of elevation involves severing man from man’s earthly existence, which is why it is coherent only within a theological eschatology (a theology of the last days). And he may well believe that man cannot actually destroy the earth through such violence as global warming, for the perfectly orthodox theological reason that the earth will come to an end (or be renewed) only when Christ comes again to judge the living and the dead. In other words, global warming can’t exist because it is not in God’s providential plan: the Lord will decide when the earth expires. This is Santorum’s “theology,” phony or otherwise.
Illustration by Ed Nacional

Is this any way to run the country?

hearing we would really like to see

What can we do, then?  Are we doomed to accept what they are about to force on us?  I say “NO”.  I say that we must insist that “if” they do what I think they are going to do and use reconciliation to pass this bill, we must demand that the new people we WILL elect in 2012 must immediately begin working to repeal anything that moves healthcare out of our hands and into the hands of the Federal Government.  My friends, I feel we are in for a long fight.  Are you up for it?