Friday, March 11, 2011


Sunday at Mass the gospel and homily got me thinking about an article I read in a diocesan newspaper a while back. The gospel reading - about building your house on rock, not sand - and homily were about living the life of Christ, rather than talking it up.

The article I had in mind was actually more of a lecture than a news story. Call it a "Leturcle," a transgendered article that is actually a lecture.

The gist of the lecturcle is that our society is "unjust," and that Catholics have a moral duty to vote for more government intervention. The lecturcle asked a couple of soothing rhetorical questions along the way, like a Pete Seeger song ("when will they ever learn?")

Pete Seeger knows what's best for us.

I thought I would answer the rhetorical questions.

Question # 1: "Why are there so many homeless and hungry in our midst?"

A HUD study in 2007 indicated there were about 744,000 homeless people in America, out of a population of more than 300,000,000. AP, 1/10/2007. In a town of 3,000 that would be 7 homeless people. About 0.23 percent of the population. So if that is "so many," then there are "so many."

Otherwise, not so much.

As for the "hungry," we don't actually have a large population of hungry people. Those who are chronically hungry in America typically have the misfortune of having drug addicted or mentally unstable parents who take the bread out of their children's mouths.

What we actually do have are monstrous numbers of obese people, especially among the poor.

So my answer to the lecturcle's question is that there aren't so many homeless or hungry people in our midst.

Question # 2: "Why are there so many jobs that do not pay a living wage?"

Truth is, there are hardly any jobs in America that fail to pay a "living wage."

The HHS Poverty Guidelines define poverty at $10,400/year income for a single person and $21,200/year income for a family of four. That's a $5/hr job for the single person and $10/hr for the breadwinner in a family of four.

Eternal Optimist is aware of a young woman with a high school education who obtained a $10/hr job in a convenience store by going in and filling out a job application. This young woman makes about $20,000/year, double the poverty line. This is not unusual.

There are people without jobs in America. But the people who have jobs are doing pretty well. All this makes a good social justice argument for government to reduce taxes to stimulate job growth.

But I digress.

Here are some better questions for the Catholic lecturclists.

Better Question #1: Why is Catholic charity so . . . skimpy?

The average American gives about 2% of his or her income to charity. The average Catholic gives about 1.2%. The federal government spends about 1.2 trillion dollars a year - 44% of the government's "income" (our taxes), or about 8% of Gross Domestic Product - on Social Security, Medicare and health care.

So this "indifferent" society that the Catholic "journalist" deplores is giving more of its income to the needy than the average Catholic.

Better Question #2: Why are Catholics so blase about sexual immorality and divorce?

One of the cruelest things you can do to your children is to bear them out of wedlock. In 1950 the illegitimacy rate in America was 4%. Today it is roughly 33%.

Illegitimate children face gravely increased risks of poverty, mental illness, drug addiction, homelessness, abuse, disease - you name it. Notwithstanding 2,000 years of Catholic teaching on the subject, today's Catholics have children out of wedlock at a rate that is embarrassingly close to the society generally.

Divorce is almost as disastrous for children as illegitimacy. And guess what? Catholic rates of divorce are uncomfortably close to those of the general population.

Nominal Catholics skew the numbers, I realize. But that leads me to this observation.

If you are Catholic and want to spark a revolution, try these simple (not easy) steps:

(1) Go to church and get God into (or back into) your life.

(2) get married before you have sex. (Incendiary, I know).

(3) stay married as you have lots of nice children.

(4) feed the hungry and take care of the poor, and teach your children to do the same.

These 4 radical steps have the benefit of being orthodox Catholic choices and conforming to Jesus' admonition to (1) build your house on the rock and (2) take the log out of your own eye before trying to take the speck out of your neighbor's eye.

Charitable giving and moral living: a revolution that rhymes.



  1. You are so smart.

    I want everyone to read what you say. But I think they will get mad at you!

  2. EO - Excellent literary discourse! I say make them mad as hell - could be they get a glimpse of what hell is like and decide to repent. Being a revolutionary has it's own reward. In any event, no less authority than Jesus himself says in Matthew 6:26 “Woe unto you, when all men would speak well of you for so did their fathers to the false prophets."

  3. I'd love to respond, but it's not letting me. It says I'm using html (I'm not) and I need less characters, but I have less characters then it says I need. I'd e-mail you, but no e-mail address. Want to go to my unrelated blog and e-mail me to tell me how to respond? Much appreciated.


  4. To Leila: It is a very high honor to have such a smart lady say I am smart. EO has been making people mad as a matter of professional obligation for close to 30 years, and assures you that one does not have to be smart to make people mad. A certain churlishness is all that is needed, but Mrs. EO has been praying about that for 3 decades, so I am convinced it will eventually dissipate.

    To the Testify Guy: So far I am in no danger of having all men speak well of me. So I've got that going for me.

    To The Teddy Bear Family: I will go to your blog and try to communicate. Computers were born about the same time as EO, but they have gotten ahead of me.