Monday, January 7, 2008


A post to the First Things blog titled "Servants and Immigration"
poses the following question; “Professional women are one of the major reasons immigration control has been so hard to achieve.”
The thesis is that women want successful careers and successful families. In order to have both they must employ domestic help and foreign help is cheaper. However, the article continues “The children of these immigrants…prove to have little more desire to be personal servants than the legal Americans do. And so the flow of new immigrants has to be kept open to provide new servants.” Therefore in order to keep maintain their standard of living these women politically resist immigration reform.
Though I agree with the first part of the premise, that a desire for cheap labor keeps immigration reform a nice idea but never a reality, I can not agree with the narrow vilification of career women as the major reason. Career men must also be blamed, greed and over consumption is not an issue confined to one gender. It is the problem of our common humanity sold into sin. This “slavery to sin” as St Paul calls it, has twisted our desires and the institutions we create.
Indeed, the Holy Father spoke on this during his Epiphany homily when he said “The only way to bring about just and sustainable development in the world is to live in moderation” we must “prefer the common good of all people (as opposed) to abundance for the few and misery for many."
St James has this to say in reference to the twisting of our desires.
“You covet but do not possess. You kill and envy but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war. You do not possess because you do not ask.
You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
Adulterers! Do you not know that to be a lover of the world means enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wants to be a lover of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

The problem is that the world needs to be transformed by Christ.The problem is that we need to be transformed by Christ. The premise offered is wrong. It has been used before though, long ago, in a perfect garden.


Laura The Crazy Mama said...

Which premise? That a woman caused the fall of man? I'm just a bit confused by that last comment. I agree that we need to be transformed by Christ. Of course!
“The only way to bring about just and sustainable development in the world is to live in moderation” we must “prefer the common good of all people (as opposed) to abundance for the few and misery for many."...was a good snip from his homily, but it made me think about how our new church could not have been built if it weren't for the generosity of a few people who lived in abundance for some years (and still giving as they are). It's the dirty, little (not-so) secret that there were a few VERY LARGE donations that helped to fuel the fire of donation in the masses. I'm not sure what to think about that. I'm just throwin' it out there, I guess. Also, I'm afraid (maybe needlessly so?) of becoming a socialist nation. After years of study of what happened in Russia, it scares the heck out of me and I cringe when I hear (yes, even from the Holy Father as much as I love him) words like "common good of the people". I'd like to think he means more of the common good of our souls than our pocketbooks.

Germanicus said...

Yes, the premise of blaming one person for whole mess. If it were only "the woman" then God would have been unjust in punishing all of humanity.

As to where the Holy Father stands on socialism, liberty and the common good read the middle sections of Spe Salvi. There he describes two failed attempts to use political power to create hope. He describes the failures of socialist thought through Marxism and liberty through the French revolution. It is interesting that current French president Sarkozy recently acknowledged the failures of a radical secular liberty in France, a liberty that was the ideal of their revolution and ours. As far as Marxism is concerned the failures of that system are now historical realities.
And from the his previous encyclical Deus Caritas Est
''The Church cannot and must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible. She cannot and must not replace the State. Yet at the same time she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice. She has to play her part through rational argument and she has to reawaken the spiritual energy without which justice, which always demands sacrifice, cannot prevail and prosper. A just society must be the achievement of politics, not of the Church. Yet the promotion of justice through efforts to bring about openness of mind and will to the demands of the common good is something which concerns the Church deeply''
As to the call for moderation and common good it is useful to recall that the church is to proclaim the need for justice”

As I understand it Benedict is calling not for socialism but temperance from both individuals and nations. Temperance is the virtue that makes one curb their natural appetite. Socialism on the other hand is the ideology that the ideal society will be achieved by a more equitable distribution of wealth and that this re-distribution must be forced. Temperance is a choice socialism is not. In fact the Church maintains that the repressions of pure socialism, such as the right to own property, are not in the interest of the common good and therefore wrong. Just as the excesses of a pure free market economy, such as multi-million dollar CEO salaries, are not in the interest of the common good and are also wrong. The economy in this country is a mixed economy. At times more free market at other times more socialist. (A point to bear in mind when listening to FCC radio
How much of either extreme is best for the common good is the point of Benedicts homily. He is not arguing against wealth or the creation of wealth, rather the hoarding of wealth to the detriment of neighbor.
Finally, I do not understand him to mean common good of our souls only. I understand him to be saying pocketbooks. Why would that bother you? It would bother me if he were only proclaiming a spiritual kingdom. I would suspect the reality of it!

Laura The Crazy Mama said...

Okeydokey on the first question. That's what I thought you meant!

Yep, I see what you're saying and I agree. I did read the whole document and understand how the Holy Father has an aversion to socialism.

"He is not arguing against wealth or the creation of wealth, rather the hoarding of wealth to the detriment of neighbor."
When I ponder this and think about all of the other things you've written, I still get confused (maybe I go too far into it?).
It seems to me that the pope is teaching us to balance our faith life with the political life of the world. It gets tricky in the semantics, if you ask me. I am putting it here simply, but it twists around in my mind quite a bit. Thanks for responding.

Joshua 24:15 said...

Not sure about the professional woman connection-- I guess data would help me. Most of the people who appear to me to be immigrants, are construction workers, burger flippers, or janitors and none of them in a domestic setting. I also see them in most cases absolutely working their asses off, which I can respect.
Having said that, I think we have an obligation and moral right to control the flow of immigrants into the country, while still welcoming them. And they should speak English.