Monday, September 22, 2008

RBCU Theology Professor Interviewed On The Economy

An ongoing "radio interview" series with the beleaguered Professor Ramon Tulio, professor of Catholic Social Teaching at RBCU. Other interviews found here.

IC: Good morning, all. We're here in the studio with Professor Ramon Tulio, a Theology professor at RBCU, to discuss the current state of the economy. Welcome, Professor Tulio.

RT: (bleakly) Always a ... pleasure, IC.

IC: So? What's the good word about the economy these days? It's morning in America, right?

RT: (Coughs) Excuse me, are you going to eat that donut?

IC: Huh? Well, you mean you want it? Here. (munching heard in the background)

RT: Thanks. (munching pause) See, my 403B fell through the cellar this weekend, and I'm a month away from defaulting on my house, so this hits close to home. Literally. So I've given up eating breakfast.

IC: As a penance, right? Cool.

RT: No, to save money. Although there ought to be a lot of penance going around, according to Catholic Social Teaching.

IC: Great segway, Professor! Which Catholic Social Teaching theme do you want to enlighten us about today?

RT: A couple are particularly relevant: The Call to Family, Community, and Participation, and the Dignity of Work and Rights of Workers.

IC: OK, Professor, let's get to the meat: the sound bite definitions?

RT: (sigh) Let's say the Call to Family and Participation recognizes that we are social beings, and that the most intimate and formative human group is the family. We have a right to participate and influence the social realm, to work together for the common good. The Dignity of Work and Workers' Rights...well, work is a means of sanctification, but the economy is made for man, not man for the economy. Humans deserve respect on the job, through just treatment, just wages, and appropriate time off for family and worship.

IC: OK. But that wasn't a soundbite. How about this: "Capitalism totally rocks!"

RT: Yes, well, except the Church doesn't take formal positions on economic just articulates the principles I briefly described. And capitalism without much regulation--as it has been practiced in the past handful of years--has clearly hurt many families and communities, and has played havoc with workers' rights. Wall Street just had a big mammon orgy and now we're all going to pay...and many have been "paying" for years, inside the United States and out.

IC: ...uh...are you saying you're a Marxist? (heard faintly in the sound booth: "I knew it!")

RT: No, I'm a Catholic. It means I want to see an economic system that honors human dignity through just wages for families, just treatment for respect, and just distribution of wealth for the common good of all God's children. Work is supposed to be part of life's purpose for most people. But for most, work gets in the way of life's purpose. That's not God's plan.

IC: Professor, does this all boil down to "do I like my job?"

RT: Well...not quite, but that is a decent place to start.

IC: Because see, I don't think you like your job. You seem kind of exasperated every time you come here. Maybe you need to become a professional blogger. Because we're a very peaceful, fun-loving group, I think. No controversies here, ever.

RT: (long silence, deep breathing heard) Well, I apologize if I have come off as exasperated. (pause) Back to your point, maybe the question we need to ask ourselves is whether our work in some way can point us to God, and if something gets in the way that orientation, to challenge that.

IC: Works for me! (chuckles) Thanks for visiting with us, Professor Tulio!

RT: You're welcome. Hey, are you going to drink that coffee?


Deacon Patrick said...

I'm a student of Catholic Social Teaching and have a very different understanding of how we ought to live it, which I discuss here:


The Ironic Catholic said...

Deacon Patrick,
Thanks for engaging. Alas, the problem with short (and this wasn't that short) humor pieces is that they cannot bear the weight of topics that deserve a semester's worth of I see this as (at best) thought-provoking.

Tulio is not against subsidiarity in the least, as I see it. I think Prof. Tulio is saying that subsidiarity is always in conversation with the common good, and the preferential option for the poor (also prime themes in CST). The beauty of CST is the balance of these principles to promote the dignity of humanity and the ability to live fruitful lives for Christ.

In your article, when you say Tulio speaks of capitalism in this way and that, I think you're reading a bit much into his critique of capitalism as it has been practiced on Wall Street in the past decade or so.

In any case, practicing a system that seems to have pitched our economy and security into a black hole doesn't seem good for the global community or the family community. That's all.

Hey, if you want Prof. Tulio to debate you on your blog, I'd be open to that. That could be fun. My email is in the profile.

Deacon Patrick said...

Dear IC,

I've emailed you and look forward to whatever further dialogue may ensue. Thank you for helping to stir the pot of Catholic social teaching!

Personally, I prefer dialogue to debate, because it allows for a deepening of relationship and a mutual refinement of our own journeys as opposed to the collision of ideas. Grin.

Either way, I'll have further posts on CST in the future -- as I believe that the veritable hodgepodge of principles has more structure than we currently realize. (the paper I link to expounds on this more).

LarryD said...

Man, it always happens. I'm chuckling at the humor, then someone goes ahead and explains the joke. Geez Louise.

(good humored snark off)

I hope Prof Tulio has better days ahead...he seems like a nice guy.

CMinor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.