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Pope Francis Knocks Consumerism, Trickle-Down Economics

One fellow you won't be seeing at the mall on Black Friday: the Pope! Pope Francis I issues this hefty apostolic exhortation against consumerism and the idolatry of money:

The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too. Many fall prey to it, and end up resentful, angry and listless. That is no way to live a dignified and fulfilled life; it is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit which has its source in the heart of the risen Christ [Pope Francis I, Evangelii Gaudium, 2013.11.24].

Think about that while you're standing outside in the cold at midnight on Friday hoping to get Legos or a new multispeed drill for 75% off.

And when you sit down for turkey with your Republcian in-laws, toss this note from the Pope across the table:

In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us [Pope Francis I, 2013.11.24].

Oh, how I'd like to be at certain Catholic tables this holiday season.


  1. Deb Geelsdottir 2013.11.26

    Go Francisco!!!

  2. Jenny 2013.11.26

    I'll pass on that, Cory. As a recovering Catholic, can any words a new popular pope say begin to undue the damage done for decades and still currently going on?. The latest Catholic scandal going on in St Paul MN under Archbishop Nienstadt is turning up new allegations almost daily. Jennifer Haselberger is the hero whistleblower for this latest
    corrupt coverup by the Catholic church.

  3. Jerry 2013.11.26

    Of course, there have been centuries of scandal and misuse of religion for evil purposes in the Catholic Church as well as all the others. You have to admit that this is a real breathe of fresh air after listening to the former Bishop of Rapid City, Charles Kaput and those other wild and crazy dudes like Timothy Dolan and Pat Buchanan/Bay Buchanan (ye gods what a pair). Give them hell Pope Franciso, we may be beyond redemption.

  4. interested party 2013.11.26

    you praying people best get on it for this guy: he makes MLK look like just another black preacher.

  5. Cranky Old Dude 2013.11.26

    Oh great! Now the Pope is preaching failed economics, too.
    Why no words of wisdom about the contributions of a religon that espouses uncontrolled breeding?
    It was observed a while back, on this blog, what a great place Denmark is with their great social safety net. What was not observed was how they have a very free market system that produces the revenue to pay for it. Wonder how much of the church's wealth they will dedicate to this "new" idea? Or will they just exhort the money from someone else in the name of "charity"? Bah! And Bah!

  6. interested party 2013.11.26

    "failed economics:" tell us how a multi-trillion dollar debt generated by our predecessors is a good thing.

  7. interested party 2013.11.26

    while american imperialism has generated trillions for the few, the many have perished so that socialism could be thwarted. god must be an israelite.

  8. interested party 2013.11.26

    may dog have mercy on us.

  9. interested party 2013.11.26

    you wretched slobs.

  10. interested party 2013.11.26

    entitled whitebread inbreds.

  11. interested party 2013.11.26

    sanctus, sanctus, sanctus....

  12. Deb Geelsdottir 2013.11.26

    God's Economics is not capitalism. It is an economics/theology of Abundance. It's not top-down. Not trickle down, not supply and demand, not market-based.

    All across the Biblical witness we see this abundance. God has enough love for everyone. It's in limitless supply. God has enough food for everyone. No one gets a full belly while others feel hunger pangs. God has enough clean, clear water. It's there to give away without concern for having enough. God has enough clothing for everyone, enough shelter.

    Again and again in the Gospels we see Jesus giving away everything he has, hand over fist, with no interest in any particular qualifications. In fact, several times Jesus gives healing/forgiveness/love/food, without even being asked. Jesus pays close attention to those around him and when he perceives a need he quickly meets it.

    God does not deal in limited supplies. If Jill receives love, that does not mean that there is not enough love for Jack. If Sue is fed that doesn't mean that Sam has to go hungry. There is enough for everyone.

    Capitalism, if well-regulated, has shown that it can be a very effective economic system. My point is contrary to what Prosperity Preachers say. They preach that if you are a Good Christian, according to that preachers definition, God shows approval by making you rich. They actually pray for God to give them money. Other, less extreme preachers say that capitalism is backed by God. No. It is not. God's theology/economics is Abundance. Abundance.

  13. grudznick 2013.11.26

    This God you type of, Ms. Geelsdottir, she seems a bit toothfairyish.

  14. Stan Gibilisco 2013.11.26

    The commercialisation of God shall not go unpunished.

  15. Steve O'Brien 2013.11.26

    A few weeks ago, on the RIght Side Blog, a thread entitled "Pastors Must Be Political" used veiled language to advocate preaching an anti-abortion agenda from the pulpit. I asked then if other political issues ought to also be given that endorsement from the clergy - especially condemnation of the economics of greed and upholding of social justice and charitable works. It seems The Pope has answered that question to remind all the faithful that there is more than one moral issue in politics.

    A huge mistake liberals have made is to allow the right to appear to take the "moral high ground" on their political issues. We need to remember that the issues we on the left advocate are also moral issues.

  16. Jerry 2013.11.26

    Vermont says that it is looking into taxing the property of churches, hospitals and other organizations including girl scout properties. So if Gordo and his horde want to preach politics from the pulpit, I say go ahead with your bad selves and pay for your property like the rest of us savages have to. No more free rides and hide the ball, full disclosure on where your moolah comes from and how much value you have on your property. Jesus would approve of this message for the money changers in the temple.

  17. Deb Geelsdottir 2013.11.26

    Grud, I don't know about a gender for God. I really doubt that God needs one.

    I suppose you could think of God like the tooth fairy if you want to. God made an Abundance of quail fall into camp for the Israelites, and was already making an Abundance of manna (bread) appear on the ground every morning. All free. Poof! Magic! If you want to think of it that way.

    There is a crowd of perhaps 15,000 children, women and men following Jesus around. They dig up a little bit of food. Poof! And Jesus turns it into an Abundance of food, too much for the 15,000 people. Tooth fairy in action!

    10 guys walking along a distance away. Jesus can see they are sick. They have Hansen's Disease (leprosy). Jesus heals them from where he is. No charge. No touch. Poof! They're all better. Tah-dah! An Abundance of Healing.

    God as Tooth Fairy. Interesting spin Grud. Interesting.

  18. Deb Geelsdottir 2013.11.26

    Jerry, I support the full financial disclosure part.

    I'm not in favor of the taxing part, but I think it's inevitable. If churches continue to have the property tax exemption, then all non profits should be treated the same.
    Oops. Tax base gone. City services- cops, streets, sewers, etc - heading down the drain.

  19. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.11.26

    Cranky: Pope Francis is the one noting that there is no evidence to support trickle-down economics for anyone but the non-trickling rich. That appears to be the failed economic theory on the table.

  20. Lanny V Stricherz 2013.11.26

    Deb, I read your first post on this thread and thought at first that I was reading the Sermon on The Mount. No matter what, great post as well as almost all on this thread. Thanks to all and to God.

  21. Lanny V Stricherz 2013.11.26

    Whoops, I guess it was your second, well any way the one at 8:03 PM

  22. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.11.26

    Jenny, you pose a hard quandary. The Catholic Church has a long, ugly history of sexual abuse in its ranks. Does that ugly history remove all moral authority of the Pope, church officials, and/or Catholics in general to speak out on other social and economic issues? If so, what would Pope Francis have to do to earn back that authority?

    I view Pope Francis rather like our local Rev. Hickey. They get some things wrong. But when they challenge the conservative views of their own congregants, that's newsworthy.

  23. Roger Cornelius 2013.11.26

    Didn't Pope Francis recently dethrone a bishop for living in excess?
    Having grown up and educated by Jesuits, the one thing I always admired was their vow of poverty. The ones I knew meant it and lived by it. Even in impoverished Native American communities the parish supported their priest.
    It is fantastic to see a Pope practice what he preaches and he obviously has an acute understanding of economics and no political agenda.

  24. Bill Dithmer 2013.11.26

    Stan Gibilisco, distance makes it easy to be a bogart.

    The Blindman

  25. Deb Geelsdottir 2013.11.26

    Those are good comments Jenny and Cory. Do the good things one does wipe out the bad? A father molests his daughter, then pays for her college. Even steven?

    The Roman Catholic Church has made, and is making, some positive differences in the lives of many thousands of people over the entire planet. The RCC deserves great respect, gratitude and kudos for those tremendous gifts.

    The Roman Catholic Church has been, and is responsible for a great deal of pain across the entire planet. From the deliberate abasement of women, through the Crusades, the Inquisition, the forced conversion of native peoples, the acquiescence to political/military powers, the sexual abuse of women and children, etc.

    So do they balance out? I don't think that's the question. Both things are true and exist side by side. The wonderful part does not make the pain irrelevant. When a victim cries out over the horror visited upon them, good things done for others around the world are meaningless. When anyone judges the Roman Catholic Church, I think one needs to recognize both parts of the RCC. It has both alleviated suffering and caused suffering.

    Other Christian churches have a similar type of bipolar history, but not as extensive as the RCC. The RCC is the largest Christian church by numbers, which increases the attention it receives. Also, the RCC sets itself up for a lot of the negativity. The Vatican claims to be the One True Church. The RCC wants to be the Christian power in the world. All the attention seeking means the RCC gets a lion's share of negative press too.

  26. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.11.26

    Stan, maybe Jesus was a socialist... or maybe he just wasn't entrepreneurial enough to break into the Nazarene carpentry market. But did he smoke?

  27. Les 2013.11.26

    You're a good voice Deb. Comfort in the midst of all the SD angst!

  28. Deb Geelsdottir 2013.11.26

    Thank you Les. That's very kind of you.

  29. interested party 2013.11.26

    Stan, Breaking Bad on Netflix: it's a drug.

  30. Deb Geelsdottir 2013.11.26

    And Lanny, thank you very much for your kind words too.

  31. Stan Gibilisco 2013.11.26

    Blindman, call me clueless .. I got no idea what youse sayin' there.

  32. Bree S. 2013.11.28

    Looks like all the Establishment Republicans including PP are all stoking this nonsense story about the Vatican embassy closing. Even though the current one isn't in the Vatican either, and the new one will be a little closer actually. Thanks guys. Way to make Republicans look honest and credible.

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