Saturday, November 16, 2013

Quote from Archbishop Charles Chaput…

In a new column at First Things online:

And like material poverty, moral poverty has consequences. It brings fear of new life, a turning away from children, confused sexuality and broken marriages. It results in greed, depression, ugliness and aggression in our popular culture, and laws without grounding in truth. Real human development takes more—much more—than better science, better management and better consumer goods, though all these things are wonderful in their place. Human happiness can’t be separated from the human thirst for meaning. Material things can’t provide that meaning. Abundance can murder the soul as easily as scarcity can. It’s just a different kind of poverty. This is why Ecclesia in America rightly wondered “whether a pastoral strategy directed almost exclusively to meeting people’s material needs has not in the end left their hunger for God unsatisfied, making them vulnerable to anything which claims to be of spiritual benefit” (73). 

To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, the devil is happy to cure our fevers if he can give us cancer in the process. To heal a suffering man is a noble and beautiful thing. But there’s a difference between dulling his pain, and making him whole and well. 

Likewise, solving poverty of the body by replacing it with a starving soul is not a solution. Marx called religion the opiate of the people. But the real opiate of the people—the coca leaves of modern culture that we’re all expected to chew—is the river of consumer comforts and distractions that we use to damp down our deeper hunger for God and our gnawing sense of obligation to so many other people. 

Modern life in developed countries is becoming a cocoon of narcotics, from pornography and abortion to crack cocaine. And that brings us to the issue of drugs, the second of the three problems I mentioned at the start. In a way, drugs are just the symptom, not the root cause, of a deeper social dysfunction. Poverty is the more fundamental problem in understanding a troubled society. But the two issues are closely linked. Poverty drives despair, which seeks relief in drugs. Drugs destroy lives, which end up in poverty and crime. The two problems feed on and compound each other.

Read the whole column by Archbishop Chaput.  I have not yet finished it, but am going back to it now.

UPDATE:  I have since finished reading the full address that Archbishop Chaput was giving to brother bishops.  Do read the whole piece.  That 10-15 minutes out of your day is worth it.  There are other areas even more quote worthy than what I pulled out, but you will have to read the article to find them.

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