As of this writing, the stock market is soaring like an eagle on the news that 255,000 jobs were “created” in July (which begs the question of how many jobs were “destroyed”). For some strange reason, however, the “unemployment rate” (which really doesn’t measure the unemployment rate) stayed constant at an alleged 4.9%. Does that mean that as many jobs were “created” as were “destroyed”? Does it mean anything at all?
Well, if you want something that means something, here are this week’s news items:
• While waiting for the Diocese of Arlington to give the imprimatur to Easter Witness (below) — evidently books by interfaith publishers, even if the principles of Catholic social teaching are integral to the book (hey, all we want is to be able to reassure our readers that we aren’t saying something about what the Catholic Church believes that the Catholic Church in reality disagrees with) are not a high priority — we submitted another manuscript. Our theory is that if they see another book in the queue they might speed up the process to avoid a backlog. This one, however, has a more obvious “Catholic” orientation . . . although it is based on the natural law, so it applies across the board to any Aristotelians and Thomists out there, Jew, Muslim, Christian, Holy Momzer, or whatever. We call it Letter to a Catholic Lawyer: Setting the Record Straight. Basically, it’s a response to the criticism that because CESJ is not a Catholic or even (strictly speaking) a religious organization, we have no right to present our interpretation of what we think the Catholic Church teaches as universally true . . . on anything. Even if we agree with it. The book grew out of a response to a Catholic attorney, prominent in pro-life circles, who objected to our pamphlet, Supporting Life: The Case for a Pro-Life Economic Agenda (2010) on the grounds that 1) You guys aren’t Catholic and aren’t allowed to talk about the natural law. 2) You guys aren’t Catholic and aren’t allowed to talk about economic justice. 3) You guys aren’t Catholic and aren’t allowed to be pro-life. Actually, the last criticism is (in a twisted kind of way) almost legitimate. CESJ is not “pro-life.” It isn’t “pro-choice” either. CESJ members are both pro-life and pro-choice. All CESJ did as CESJ was to say, “Here’s what one of our members thinks is a solution to the problem that might be acceptable to both ‘sides,’ framed within the context of the Just Third Way.”
• Another project, dealing in part with what happened to the understanding of economic and social justice, as well as distributive and commutative justice, is sixty percent complete. This, too, since it deals with how we understand the natural law teachings of the Catholic Church, will be submitted for an imprimatur. (At this rate, not only are they going to have a huge backlog of manuscripts from one of the world’s smallest publishers, they are going to have more non-Catholic books with imprimaturs than they’ve ever given to Catholic books! — it is their Church, however, and we want to be certain we don’t say anything they believe is contrary to what they really teach. You’d think they’d be pleased that people, especially non-Catholics, want to make certain they get it right before broadcasting it hither and yon.) Perhaps not by coincidence, we’ve discovered that rather large numbers of people make the same mistake, whether you’re talking about politics, religion, or the Great Pumpkin, viz., that the natural law must be based on subjective faith rather than objective reason, and therefore only applies to people you agree with. Consequently, many people have fallen into the error of what Msgr. Ronald A. Knox called “enthusiasm” or an excess of charity that causes disunity: people who do not believe as you do have no rights, and in fact aren’t even fully human or human at all, and you can do anything to them you like.
• CESJ has submitted a draft proposal for a co-project with Virginia Tech. The proposal is from a Just Third Way perspective, of course, which we believe makes it sufficiently interesting to intrigue people who fund this sort of thing. We are looking at developing ways to help countries in Africa (or anywhere else, for that matter) open up the opportunity and means for every person to be a productive and contributing member of society. In broad terms, this means shifting the currency from being backed with government debt (the worst thing for a currency), to backing it with private sector assets, reforming the tax system, and making it possible for every person to purchase capital that pays for itself out of its own future earnings.
• CESJ’s new intern will be starting later this month. She is planning on helping with a survey in the Ukraine to gauge how to institute Just Third Way concepts and programs in the country as a way of establishing and maintaining (what else?) economic and social justice. Her special area of interest is public policy.
• This past week the number of page views on this blog hit 300,000, which does not include those from CESJ, which are not counted in the statistics.
• Plans are being finalized for the CESJ annual celebration, postponed from April. The celebration will take place on August 27 in Falls Church, Virginia.
• CESJ’s latest book, Easter Witness: From Broken Dream to a New Vision for Ireland, is available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble, as well as by special order from many “regular” bookstores. The book can also be ordered in bulk, which we define as ten copies or more of the same title, at a 20% discount. A full case is twenty-six copies, and non-institutional/non-vendor purchasers get a 20% discount off the $20 cover price on wholesale lots ($416/case). Shipping is extra. Send enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. An additional discount may be available for institutions such as schools, clubs, and other organizations as well as retailers.
• Here’s the usual announcement about the Amazon Smile program, albeit moved to the bottom of the page so you don’t get tired of seeing it. To participate in the Amazon Smile program for CESJ, go to https://smile.amazon.com/. Next, sign in to your account. (If you don’t have an account with Amazon, you can create one by clicking on the tiny little link below the “Sign in using our secure server” button.) Once you have signed into your account, you need to select CESJ as your charity — and you have to be careful to do it exactly this way: in the space provided for “Or select your own charitable organization” type “Center for Economic and Social Justice Arlington.” If you type anything else, you will either get no results or more than you want to sift through. Once you’ve typed (or copied and pasted) “Center for Economic and Social Justice Arlington” into the space provided, hit “Select” — and you will be taken to the Amazon shopping site, all ready to go.
• As of this morning, we have had visitors from 40 different countries and 43 states and provinces in the United States and Canada to this blog over the past two months. Most visitors are from the United States, Germany, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, and Canada. The most popular postings this past week in descending order were “G.K. Chesterton v. Modernism and Socialism,” “Book Review: A Field Guide for the Hero’s Journey,” “A Brief Outline of How to Save the World (and Other Modest Goals),” “News from the Network, Vol. 9, No. 28,” and “Why Did Nixon Take the Dollar Off the Gold Standard?”
Those are the happenings for this week, at least those that we know about. If you have an accomplishment that you think should be listed, send us a note about it at mgreaney [at] cesj [dot] org, and we’ll see that it gets into the next “issue.” If you have a short (250-400 word) comment on a specific posting, please enter your comments in the blog — do not send them to us to post for you. All comments are moderated, so we’ll see it before it goes up.