Saturday, January 31, 2009

Statism (again)

This is from a short interview with a J.D. Trout, who wrote a book on empathy I will never read. He is interviewed by The New York Times:

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NYT: You’re employed by a Catholic university, yet in your new book you neglect to mention the enormous role that churches have played over the centuries in helping the poor and promoting compassion.


Trout: The concerns addressed in the book — improved education, health care, existence above the poverty level — are too important to be left to the tender mercies of charity.

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This is the essence of secular statism. (1.) Write the church out of Western history (and be entirely irresponsible in so doing; see the recent work by Rod Stark on this); then (2.) presume that the voluntary good works of the church (and other organizations) are irrelevant and untrustworthy. The secular state must be our primary provider. Of course, it extracts money through taxation (non-voluntary) and requires a merely secular approach to all it does. This is not compassion; it is compulsion.

2 comments:

Steve Schuler said...

I am not familiar with J.D. Trout's work or thoughts. This interview is so brief as to provide little insight into what he believes. Your assesment that "secular statism" writes the church out of Western History elludes me. I don't know how anybody looking into the history of Western civilization, from the Roman era up to yesterday's headlines, could possibly ignore the role of the churches or of religious philosohies as fundamental components of history. That some of the assesments of the roles that religion have played in our history do not concur with your own is probably true.

I do agree with you that compulsory taxation which partialy funds charitable programs funded through the government does not necessariloy represent the compassionate heart of the taxpayer. It also does not deny the compassionate heart of the taxpayer who approves of such expenditures. Likewise, the funding of what I believe to be an imperialist war promoted by deception and misinformation, funded by my tax dollars, does not indicate my collusion with the government that has perpetrated this, by my own uncertain assesment, anti-Christian enterprise.

Paul said...

This historically irresponsible naiveté smacks of John Lennon's hymn to secularism "Imagine" written almost 40 years ago. Of course, Lennon is likely see the relevance of charity now, albeit from a different angle.