Spiritual Bankruptcy

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It is hardly a surprise that a committed altruist would extol shoplifting.

Delivering his festive lesson, Father [Tim] Jones told the congregation: 'My advice, as a Christian priest, is to shoplift. I do not offer such advice because I think that stealing is a good thing, or because I think it is harmless, for it is neither.

'I would ask that they do not steal from small family businesses, but from large national businesses, knowing that the costs are ultimately passed on to the rest of us in the form of higher prices.

'I would ask them not to take any more than they need, for any longer than they need.'
Color me unsurprised, but hardly jaded. It is an outrage that someone to whom others look for moral guidance could condone theft under any circumstance. Father Jones is as morally bankrupt as they come.

What is perhaps less apparent, but no less remarkable is the declaration of spiritual bankruptcy also evident in his sermon. Consider the notion that theft from a big corporation is somehow better than theft from a mom-and-pop store. Is a shareholder or a customer of such a corporation any less violated simply because the impact of such a theft might seem to be proportionally less, or because it is impossible to say precisely who suffers from such crime? Of course not.

Indeed, big corporations, due to their size, are often among our greatest benefactors as measured by their ability to bring large numbers of paying customers excellent value. Should their owners, invisible or not, have a pack of shoplifters as their reward? According to Father Jones, they should.

It is common today for people to regard theft from big, "faceless" corporations as somehow not really stealing. Many such people do not think in abstractions well enough to see that they are, in fact, violating fellow human beings when they do, or the abstraction of a corporation makes it easier for them to evade the fact that they are stealing. Father Jones quite obviously doesn't see the owners or customers of large corporations as human beings. He furthermore doesn't see the "haves" as having rights.

The inexorable logic of Father Jones's altruism thus blinds him to achievers as human beings. If you are able, particularly is you are "big" (i.e., successful), you are fair game to legions of people down on their luck. Perhaps, if you're driven out of business as a result, he'll spare you some sympathy and tell you whose pocket you can pick.

It says something about a man -- something not good -- when what it takes to get his notice is your misery.

I cannot recall exactly where I read it, but I have encountered the idea more than once that great historical atrocities against one group or the other were often preceded by depersonalization, by people in a society coming to regard such a group as less-than-human, and thus not worthy of moral consideration or political protection.

Altruism has long goaded people into persecuting businessmen, usually through government regulations and the like. Not that persecuting businessmen through a government intermediary is any less immoral, but this telling people individually to do so is a new low. Whatever debt the idea of individualism might have to Christianity, the ethics of that religion is plainly at odds with it.

We are, it seems, permitted by its light to be wretched, stunted versions of what we potentially could become.

-- CAV


Dismuke said...

Isn't this priest the guy who Obama is pushing to bring on as the new Czar of Economic Coping and has brought about all sorts of controversy because some outside the Administration claim that it is not legal for a foreign citizen to hold that office?

Mike said...

Catholic doublethink is much the same. "The great shall be humbled and the meek shall be exalted." That never sat right with me. It was like, "Uh, shouldn't the *great* be exalted? You know, on account of them being... great? Because we kind of need those guys down the road, I'm pretty sure. They're the ones who keep solving stuff and making things work and saving lives."

Your typical Catholic will just accept this with cognitive dissonance. They will donate to the poor and seeth at the rich, but then don a replica jersey and cheer for their team to be "great" enough to win the Super Bowl. Where the rubber meets the road, failure is NOT exalted. If it were, the 2008 Detroit Lions would be the most exalted team in history.

Gus Van Horn said...


Heh! They'll get him in yet, after the new Citizenship Czar declares him a subject of Barack Obama.


I recall feeling quite brilliant back in my Catholic days for answering a question at a lecture on what freedom is. "Being able to do what is right," I answered.

RAWR, as they say in the submarine force. Back then, I thought that meant volunteering to be taken advantage of.

Now, I know better, but the altruists are now baring their fangs.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your article, it accurately describes the evil that often resides in the Catholic church. But not all Christians, (I'm a devout Christian) are Catholics (or equivalent) and blindly obey a Pope type leader or practice "faith" (belief without proof). In fact a careful study of the bible condemns the above ("call no man your master" and "prove all things"). Regarding the issue of theft in your article, I'd like to point out that one of the ten commandments is don't steal,plus other scriptures like "God hates robbery" and "unbalanced scales are an abomination". My point is that there are sincere Christians out there who strive for truth and haven't had our minds stolen by a religious leader. Please don't put us all in one category. And I think you would be shocked to see how savage the persecution is against such people in every day life - I live in Australia. Dhimmitude is strongly applied to such people. And I don't hear objectivists complain about persecution.
Ken Sack

Gus Van Horn said...


I have never said that all Christians are this bad, but I will reiterate that I regard faith (the accceptance of something absent reason or logic) is not a way to know anything and that altruism is evil and impractical.

I think that there are many decent Christians out there, including many of my relatives. That said, the decency is because of varying mixtures of their own rationality and acceptance of ideas extant in Western culture mainly due to the Renaissance and Enlightenment. I have elaborated on all this before (follow links from main post.), so I won't belabor it again here.

It may be true that there is a commandment against stealing, but how does a mere order "backed" by a threat of eternal hellfire that one must accept on faith compare with a rational case against stealing like that made by Ayn Rand as guidance. The former has nothing to do with living one's life and the latter is integral to it.

The Bible contradicts itself all over the place. One can find things that sound good or bad, lifted out of context, but the full context of the Bible makes no sense, and it cannot serve as a rational source of guidance.


Anonymous said...

Gus, you say "
It may be true that there is a commandment against stealing, but how does a mere order "backed" by a threat of eternal hellfire that one must accept on faith compare with a rational case against stealing like that made by Ayn Rand as guidance." The rational case against stealing etc made by Rand only works for the minority of people. Why do you think objectivism is a minority movement. To the majority, reality is simply what they can get away with, what others will tolerate. In other words, only the fatherly "play by the rules or I'II hurt you" approach works. Thats why the supreme authority in the universe calls himself "God the father" - obey or else. And its because of the fatherly approach (the wicked will not understand) that the bible is written in a hard to understand manner. Have you noticed Gus how collectivism has been discredited not by the brilliant writings of Rand (I have read most of her books several times and am highly indebted to her) but rather by half of Europe being given to the communists at the end of the war. Collectivism has been discredited by the school of hard knocks - the fatherly approach. And since you think the bible is a fairy tale, have a read of the book of Danial. It describes a giant statue representing world superpowers through out history. The last superpower is the "10 toes" - the United States of Europe comprising 5 nations or groups of nations from the east of Europe and five from the west of Europe. Its called a "beast" power. They will kick off World War 3, billions will die. Naturally I don't expect you to believe me now, but what if it happens? Many have been warning of this "Eurobeast" since the 1930's. Again, people will only learn the hard way, Rands writings alone wont do.
Ken Sack

Gus Van Horn said...

Forget the book of Daniel. God is a fairy tale.

That said, your idea that "collectivism was discredited by the school of hard knocks" is wrong. Otherwise, why is the United States lurching towards dictatorship so soon after collectivism was discredited?

Part of the answer is because so many people accept Barack Obama's Christian altruism (or secularized variants thereof.).

That said, I would also STILL give people more credit for being capable of rationality than you do. Mankind can and will do better than religion or we will perish.

What is wrong with the world is the raft of arbitrary, "not even wrong" ideas that people hold and act upon, not their lack of native ability.

Anonymous said...

If you take christian ethics seriously, Isnt Father Tim Jones wrong when he says that he doesnt think that stealing is good? Dont the poor have a moral claim to what they need when they take from the rich, is it really stealing if they are just taking whats rightfully theres?

I think Tim Jones doesnt actually want to draw out what hes advocating to its logical conclusion because he knows what it would lead to, so thats why he prefaces what he advocates by saying that he doesnt think stealing is right...but do it anyways.

Gus Van Horn said...

You are right, of course, but not just about Christian ethics, which is just one flavor of altruism.

What you say applies also to the modern, secular version that animates the Left.