Sunday, March 17, 2013


Or at least it feels as if I am, in the desert of nonsense about selling the Vatican and giving the money to the poor.

If you haven't heard anyone talking about selling all the artwork in the Vatican Museum, then you hang out with a better, more sensible class of people than I do, and I envy you and want to know where you hang out. I hear it everywhere I look. I try to explain that the people who would benefit from such a fire sale would be the buyers, who benefit anytime extraordinary things are sold extraordinarily quickly. I try to explain that although the accumulation of art may seem huge to them, it is actually paltry in comparison to the power the Vatican wields.

Could be worse: so far I haven't noticed any demands that the Vatican Library part abruptly with all of its manuscripts.

I think it could be that some of them genuinely hate wealth and luxury and finery, as intensely as any wild-eyed Calvinist ever did. That what bothers them is not poverty, but wealth. Perhaps a huge portion of the world's Left, including atheists, suffers from remnants of Puritan mental illnesses, remnants of bad Calvinist and Pietist mental habits, and Savonarolian tendencies in Leftist Catholics and their descendants, and let's not forget Daddy-hating children of right-wing Catholics, and flat-out crazy anti-Catholic bigots, and I'm less familiar with the histories of non-Christian religiously-based neuroses. And of course it's often clueless pampered rich kids who think they hate wealth, and think that their light slumming has taught them what poverty is.

To destroy wealth is not to alleviate poverty, shall remain my lonely cry. Sometimes there may be a causal link between wealth being accumulated and poverty spreading, as with the wealth of the owners of sweatshops, and with social programs disappearing so that slight taxes on great wealth may sink further. Neither of those models is sustainable. But that link is not universal. If it's assumed in all cases then often the destruction of wealth will only be useless destruction.

I just wish that the fixation on the wealth of the Catholic Church would ease a bit, making room for more thought about what would do the poor some good. It seems so simple to me: if you want to help the poor then they're the ones you need to concentrate on.

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