It's the End of the World As We Know It

The political primary season is well underway.  I don't intend to use this post to talk politics specifically.  However, in watching and listening to the candidates, I've come to the conclusion that it's time to give up on our politicians.  Let me elaborate slightly before getting to the real point of this post.  I've had inklings lately that our culture is in decline.  If you want to read something interesting along those lines, check out this article.  I see a lot of parallels between things going on in America right now and what was going on in Israel in the times of Jesus (minus the being occupied by a foreign power, of course).  Certainly I think there's a general lack of concern for the less fortunate in our society.  Individualism is getting to the point that what the individual wants takes precedence to the exclusion of other people.  Screw everyone else as long as I got mine.

Which gets me to the point of this post.  I've just finished reading the majority of The Joy of the Gospel by Pope Francis for my Orientation to Theology course.  I HIGHLY recommend reading this book/encyclical whether you're Catholic/Christian or not.  If you care about other people, you need to read this book.  Pope Francis talks about many things, but overall he really lays out the Catholic position on social justice with a focus on helping the poor.  In it, he really nails the problems and malaise with our society (American and global).  I'm sure you've heard about parts of it.  This is the document that states trickle down economics is a fallacy with no proof that it works.  It challenges the notion that growing the economy at all costs results in prosperity for everyone.

And it goes much further than that.  It discusses the rise of a materialistic society and cult of individualism and moral relativism.  He calls everyone to action to stop thinking only of ourselves and think about how we can help others.  He talks about how we are stewards of our resources and should use them to further peace, justice, and elevating the poor.  He talks about how we should not be producing goods purely for profit but for the benefit of humanity.  He's not saying accumulation of wealth is bad, only the unbridled quest for wealth at the cost of others.

There was so much in there that I'm going to need to go back and read it several more times to really absorb it all.  It just blew my mind on the first read.  All the while I was thinking our politicians need to read this and really absorb it.  What a different world we would live in.  Pope Francis even said that being a politician is one of the noblest pursuits, assuming, of course, that you're in politics to improve the lives of your fellow citizens.

I'll need to keep coming back to this book as I go through diaconate formation to see how this might affect my ministry.  Social justice issues have always been of interest to me.  Call it my innate sense of fairness, but I've always had empathy for those less fortunate than me.  The Joy of the Gospel is a call to action to do something to help those less fortunate and build a better society.  Even if  you're not Catholic, you can learn something from him.


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