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03 July 2019


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Interesting. "Farewell to the King" resonated with me.


I have long been fascinated by Liberation Theology. I don't actually know much about it - but what I perceive to be the polarity between the "church hierarchy" which has a reputation of being complicit with the wealthy and with authoritarian regimes, vs the renegade priests who embraced Liberation Theology has long interested me.

A friend from Mexico recommended the film 'The Crime of Father Amaro' to me - and told me that it depicted the reality of Mexico better than any other film I might see. I enjoyed the film very much, and was even more sympathetic to Liberation Theology after seeing it.


When I despair at humanity being able to save itself in its present crazy lust for self destruction, I still have faith in the Catholic Church and its ability to save us. After the Chinese state, the world's oldest institution. It has a tradition, especially an intellectual tradition, which is both immensely practical in this world and built for eternity.

Several people I most admire on the Left in Britain started life wanting to be Catholic Priests - one could be our next Chancellor of the Exchequer, the feisty John McDonnel.

Because we live in a dogmatically secular, not to say aetheistical society, it is often easy to miss the continuing impact of Catholicism and Catholic themes in our culture - especially in our most influential cultural tradition - cinema. The 20th Centuy's greatest film-makers were all Catholics and used deeply Catholic themes in their work - John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock, Fritz Lang and Louis Bunuel. Today I greatly admire the work of the McDonagh brothers - working class Irish Catholics from South London - who made variously (they do not work together) - Calvary, In Bruges, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Also the various Mexican mystical Catholics directing in Hollywood at the moment.

The vivid visual pagaentry and story telling of Catholicism continues to find rich realisation in film.


I am much taken by the work of Michael Hudson on the nature of Jesus' teaching and its economic component. "Forgive them their sins" is one of his books.


I vaguely remember that sunny day back in the 60’s, we were all aligned in formation and stood firmly to listen to Padre Arrupe addressing us all. It was supposed to be a special event, but being almost a child at the time I was not aware of how important and special that person and event were. With time I learned that Padre Arrupe was in Hiroshima, he was a doctor and as such treated the survivors.
Every institution and group of people is far from homogenous, thanks to nature, that’s the way it should be, but at the time the option for the poor was not a unitary position of the Jesuits, in countries where inequality was and today is even more rampant. And probably because of that we were not told that our most distinguished visitor was in Japan, and witnessed that greatest of horrors.
That is why sometimes I smile when I read the Colonel distrust and disdain for bolsheviks and trotskyists. They are a lot closer to your jesuit education that what you think. In any case, I was very fortunate to be educated by that excellent group of people, most of them from the Basque country, our first english teacher whom I shall never forget, a north american Maryknoll nun, not a single mosquito would move in that class, discipline, and Beatles songs translated, we were allowed to do anything in class, like frying an egg, but it had to be in english.
Unfortunately the countries where the Jesuits taught not only did not eliminate inequality, it only grew to disastrous levels. A few of them joined the guerrillas, others were assassinated, AMDG.


I am essentially an agnostic, with a devout Episcopalian wife and a best friend who is a retired professor of religion, so I can't claim that they are wrong. But to me, the central core of Christianity is the Sermon on the Mount and if you live by it, you will be a better person.

I am glad to see that the school is still debating what will make you a better person and I am sure many students will prosper from it. When I was in Junior Highschool, in what was then a rather socialistic Sweden, we had 3 years of Christian education. I still remember a lot of it.

Barbara Ann

This was very though-provoking TTG, thanks for your confession.

As I see it, the primacy of conscience and the obligation of the individual to follow their own is exactly right. Our education system (both religious and secular) must teach a set of ethics and a code of civil conduct consistent with the society which we wish to build. But thereafter the state must respect our right to live largely as we choose.

Yes, individuals should be encouraged to set the world alight. The problem comes when social justice is moved from the domain of voluntary, individual choice to the imposition of obligatory, collective adherence, by the state. The Jesuit doctrine you describe sounds a lot like "live and let live" - i.e. the humility to avoid judging others by your own standards. Political SJW's have totally abandoned this critically important aspect of the doctrine. Their mission is to force us all to conform to a collective set of norms far and away beyond what is necessary for a civil & free society. This makes them indistinguishable from Bolshevik tyrants.

You were very fortunate to have received such an excellent education and it is encouraging that it still exists in some places. It shouldn't be impossible to rebuild it elsewhere, but one aspect will be key; the teaching of real tolerance for others. This is very different from the faux tolerance of Liberalism, which holds that you can be of any color, faith, gender etc - just so long as you think the same way I do. A process of de-snowflakization will be necessary; teaching people that feeling offense is a normal emotion, not something to be avoided at all costs. After all, the Bill of Rights does not enshrine the right to not be offended.

Eric Newhill

IMO in a free society citizens can volunteer to aid the poor all they want to. However, it is not the government's job to take on the task and to force others to "give" in ways that they would not do so on their own. That's the philosophical difference between the Bolshies and free people.

Additionally, I am convinced that free markets create more wealth so that people can volunteer to help those in need. With the Bolshies, minimal wealth is created and everyone loses and suffers. History has shown us that and theory says it must be that way. There is no way to "get socialism right". The global poverty rate has been in steep decline as more of the world develops into free market economies and older free market societies donate wealth and other aid to societies in need.

I attended a secular prep school K-12, but the message was the same, "Take your talents, maximize them and light the world on fire". Sundays at home were dedicated to religious discussions and readings - all day until dinner.

Eugene Owens

A close friend of mine, now passed away, had a brother who became a Jesuit priest in his middle age after spending many years as an Air Force officer. I was amazed when I first met and talked with him, could not understand why he would do such a thing. But maybe I kind of understood later. He had left the AF and started in a seminary in the 80s not long after the murder of several Jesuits in El Salvador.

De Oppresso Liber not only affected him but some other non-Jesuit Catholic religious orders also. Over 50 priests, nuns, and lay leaders were murdered by death squads in El Salvador. Many were not Jesuits, but they had been slandered as being reds because of their work with the poor. That included the now canonized Oscar Romero who was gunned down while saying mass.

Would MS-13 be as extensive as they are today if those priests had not been murdered and their efforts to end the civil war peacefully had been realized?


Totally off topic --
A week or so ago I was in Greenwich, CT for the Boys & Girls Club annual Golf tournament/benefit. It was held at a golf club on the border of New York State, on land sandwiched between the massive holdings of the Brunswick School (the Winkelvoss brothers graduated from Brunswick), and also Sacred Heart academy for Girls.

That's just the name-dropping part.

Here's my question: driving to and around Greenwich one cannot help but be impressed by the orderliness of the place, and also of the stones. It seems to be carved into a very large mountain of stone. Further, there are constructed walls of dressed stone surrounding very many of the institutions and homes in the area.

This morning I heard yet another recitation of the complaint, "We _ _ _ _ _'s built the United States that you white people are getting rich on."

So I wondered: Who built those stone walls in Greenwich, CT?
Who tamed that stone mountain that characterizes so much of the state?

The person I visited in CT grew up in western and central Maryland, where his German (and Mennonite) farmer ancestors plowed fields around and through acres of stone. If they could not grow a crop on the stony fields, they gathered them in and built their houses, barns and hedge-walls, so many of which are still standing, solid as the day they were built. Western Maryland's agricultural landscape is still neat as a pin, carefully and intelligently husbanded to produce apples, peaches, etc.

I hope this is not as far off-topic as it appears on the surface: the Jesuits have one tradition, but the Benedictines made an equally important contribution to the advancement of civilization: Ora et Labora: Pray and work. As I grew up in Catholic institutions, I learned and practiced that work IS prayer (and prayer is work). The medieval cathedrals were work and prayer made manifest in stone.


looking after those in need makes good economic sense. The alternative is barbed wire, walls, security systems, guns, guards, prisons and gallows. Guess which approach is cheaper.

To put that another way, visit historic parts of europe. Those high walls, barred windows and spiked iron fences were. not there for fake decorations when originally built.


My wife's uncle was a Jesuit, taught at 3 Jesuit Universities and served as a Chaplain in the USN during WW-II; my father had 8 years of Jesuit education, as did I and one of my brothers; another of my brothers had 4. The pre-Arrupe and the post Arrupe Jesuits are two different religious orders bound by a common name. Flirtation with an ideology that solved the problems of humanity by impoverishing everyone but the commissars and burying the 100 million or so recalcitrants undermined the mission of the Church,; it lent legitimacy to corrupt political regimes; and it spread poverty to include ever more people even as the numbers of priests willing to labor in the fields were drying up. There is a reason that John Paul II sent a representative to attend Arrupe's funeral.
In the end, the Jesuits foray into practical politics under ambiguous slogans such as "preferential option for the poor" led to the Robert Drinans and the waffling Catholic prelates and politicians who find ways to justify or look past any behavior contrary to the established doctrine of the Church so long as they can present themselves as being hard at work on behalf of the poor. There are too many examples to enumerate.
And I will note in passing that while the religious implications of the work with the poor will vary with the individual, the work will remain steady: the poor we will have always with us.


Dear Harry,
I beg to differ regarding your characterization of Hudson's work as having to do with forgiving sins. His title is as follows: https://michael-hudson.com/2018/08/and-forgive-them-their-debts/

See the full title above. His book and thesis is about debt. The translation of the Lord's Prayer is often given as "debts" or "trespasses" and "debtors" or "those who trespass against us."

Steve Keen's review makes the same mistake in his gloss: “Michael Hudson reveals the real meaning of “Forgive us our sins.” It has far more to do with throwing the moneylenders out of the Temple than today’s moneylenders would like you to know.”

The conflation of debt and guilt (or sin) derives, I believe, from the root of both in some Germanic languages. This figures prominently in _A Doll's House_ and differing attitudes to debt deriving from them.

Mark Logan

I'll mention a judge who demanded the 10 commandments be placed in his court and disobeyed order to remove them. This disease is certainly not limited to one side. Capital L liberals and capital C conservatives share the affliction, a misappropriation of religion or doctrine, which stripped of humility (all the worthy ones have a bit), become "...oneself with a thunderbolt".

A wise man knows he knows nothing...said someone.

The Twisted Genius

Off topic, but an interesting observation of yours, artemesia. Those stone walls were built by colonial and early American farm families. The soil of all of New England and Connecticut in particular was gifted with countless rocks and stones when the last glacier retreated from North America. You cannot till a piece of land without removing most of the rocks from the soil. The farm families removed the rocks and used them to build the stone walls you saw in Greenwich. I've moved tons of rocks doing just that as a youth and as a farm hand. Building a proper dry stone wall to withstand the winter frost heaves is an art known by many New Englanders. Living in Virginia, I am astounded by the lack of rocks for building such walls. I cannot bring myself to buy them by the pallet as is the practice here. Paying for rocks is not something a New Englander can easily stomach.


To all those here who claim that the only thing communist and socialist systems spread is poverty, i would like you to show some data/statististics, instead of just your own claims.

I use to frequent a Twitter account where many photos of life under the former GDR are shared, and does not seem that they were doing absolutely so bad, on the contrary, what really happened is that after joining FDR, which implied the dismantling of the whole GDR industry for FDR holdings´beneffit, increasing poverty rates started to spread along what at all lights seemed a prosperous and free nation.

Then you have the Chinese, who have taken out of poverty more people than anybody else in the world in the least time ( about these, yes there are statistics...), and all that even with their mixed but still communist system...

I do not swallow the mythical, by Western propaganda standards, ruin of the USSR, since at the heights of 1985, economic indicators were there better than in many Western nations on productiveness and progress at all levels.
The USSR was imploded from outside and within by the inestimable help of a bunch of traitors to the will of the people, whom even in the last referendum expressed clearly their will to conserve the Soviet system, will which was betrayed by Yeltsin and his minions who usurped the popular will by coup d´etat.

As illustration:











To TTG, the author of this post,

I believe that, but I also believe the liberation theologists could benefit from a more rigorous examen to reach a higher sense of discernment and a truly informed conscience.

I detect here an implied critic to the liberation theologists.... Since you are in a sincerity exercise, could you expnad a bit on what you are trying to mean by this?
I would be interested.

Also, and since you seem to have been educated by US Jesuits at prep-school, do you consider that due the background of the US, the genuine Ignatian message and character has been fully developed and then conserved there? I mean, do you thing is this possible, in such an anti-communist country by definition, which promotes a society based on "winners and losers" not finding in this binary distribution more cause than own ability to prospere within the system, whatever the means?

Finally, and if this is not asking already too much, what do you mean by DOL-AMDG?



If you have the opportunity to travel West take a side trip to Walnut Grove, Minnesota. Home of (one of) the Laura Ingells Wilder Museum. They even have a recreated sod home (real sod) just like the one that familiy lived in more than 100 years ago. There is some interesting background on the settling of the forntier as it moved ever westward. On the other hand, if you go South, visit Lincoln's birthplace in Kentucky. The actual log cabin is within a nathional monument outside Hodgenville Kentucky and one of his family's farm's where he spent part of his boyhood is a few miles away. In Trappist, just outside Bardstown, about 45 miles away, is the Abbey of Gethsemani, which opened in 1848. None of these are much celebrated in our modern and diverse school systems but all were important parts in the growth of the Republic.

Mark Logan

I suspect those walls to be mostly accidental. Dumping them on your neighbor's property would have been an extreme sport. it's either stack them on the property line or cart them away.

Eric Newhill

Give them fishing rods - if they truly cannot get one on their own - not free fish. Free fish breaks the human spirit.

Anyhow, we have all kinds of care for those who are actually disabled. I agree with that too.



Immigration business is big business and plenty of autocrats are quite happy to saddle the gullible with their nation's dissidents rather than deal with "the good economic sense" of looking after those in need. Castro comes to mind and all those well off tourists from Europe and Canada who've been going there for decades have only been subsidizing oppression while they get a sunny dog-and-pony show vacation amongst the ruins of Havana.

Eugene Owens

Elsi -

De oppresso liber - Ad maiorem Dei gloriam



"i would like you to show some data/statistics, instead of just your own claims." Statistics lie. Everyone has their own including your communist government. You do not make demands here. You are an enemy and merely tolerated here for the moment.

The Twisted Genius

Elsi, I know of no country where the Ignatian message has been fully developed and conserved. As for the liberation theologists, I believe many of them got too caught up in the Marxist call for totally changing society often through violent means. While the Church and the Marxist revolutionaries may often work towards the same goal of giving preference to the poor, the ultimate reasons for working towards that goal is not at all the same. I reject the idea of a vanguard party be it Marxist or autocratic priesthood.

The Twisted Genius

Yeltsin didn't stage the coup d'etat. It was hard line CPSU and KGB. Yeltsin stumbled into his spot in the collapse of the coup attempt. Although I will grant you that Russia/Soviet Union and China made great economic strides considering where they started.

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