Notre Dame, Charity and Socialism

 

This article from the New York Post on the rebuilding of Notre Dame Cathedral is fascinating. It seems that 90% of the donations to rebuild the burned Church are coming from America and small French donor, with the French government making up the rest of the giving. French billionaires pledged a lot of money, but none of it has been given yet.

This does not surprise me; one of the problems with a large State and a State religion is that people lose their sense of personal responsibility for their fellow man and when the mentality is, “the State does that” and the individual is free to ignore his obligations.

As Arthur Brooks has discussed regarding who really gives, once people go on government assistance their giving and generosity nearly stop and the demands for more, and their greed, increases. This is always the problem with the role of the State in society, the State distorts everything that it touches and people when they receive benefits from the State tend to see those benefits as their right instead of privilege and they see no need to modify their behavior. This State giving is opposed to someone receiving help from a church; they are receiving personal care and teaching from real people; they feel blessed and they feel as if they owe the givers something and they modify their behavior. This is all of course said in the aggregate sense personal exceptions will, as always, abound.

France is often lauded as being protective of her cultural heritage and traditions, but it will be a sad state of affairs if Notre Dame is rebuild largely with American charitable giving instead of the French themselves taking care of it. When government is too big and does too much people shrink and that is not a good thing for any nation and a fundamental flaw in all Socialist schemes.

We must recall that Socialism is supposed to free a person to do a variety of things that fulfill them as a person and adds to the human experience of us all, but in reality Socialism shrinks a person and makes them dependent.

Socialism should be an advancement over Feudalism, should it not? It is a sad testament if Feudal France could manage to build Notre Dame when the far more Socialist France of today cannot.

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There are 29 comments.

  1. Misthiocracy secretly Member

    Brian Wolf: This does not surprise me. One of the problems with a large State and a State religion is that people lose their sense of personal responsibility for their fellow man and when the mentality is, “the State does that” the individual is free to ignore his obligations.

    Quibble: France does not have a state religion (other than Rational Secularism).

    France’s constitution forbids the government from recognizing any religion, though it’s allowed to recognize or forbid religious organizations for “non-religious” reasons. e.g. If they’re deemed a threat to public safety.

    Regarding Notre Dame specifically, the French state owns the building and the land on which the building stands, and the French state tolerates the building’s use by the Catholic Church, but the state does not endorse the religion.

    • #1
    • July 17, 2019, at 10:49 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  2. Saint Augustine Member

    Brian Wolf:

    We must recall that Socialism is supposed to free a person to do a variety of things that fulfill them as a person and adds to the human experience of us all. In reality Socialism shrinks a person and makes them dependent. 

    Socialism should be an advancement over Feudalism should it not? It is a sad testament if Feudal France could manage to build Notre Dame when the far more Socialist France of today cannot.

    So. Well. Put.

    • #2
    • July 17, 2019, at 11:03 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  3. Brian Wolf Coolidge
    Brian Wolf Post author

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Brian Wolf: This does not surprise me. One of the problems with a large State and a State religion is that people lose their sense of personal responsibility for their fellow man and when the mentality is, “the State does that” the individual is free to ignore his obligations.

    Quibble: France does not have a state religion (other than Rational Secularism).

    France’s constitution forbids the government from recognizing any religion, though it’s allowed to recognize or forbid religious organizations for “non-religious” reasons. e.g. If they’re deemed a threat to public safety.

    Regarding Notre Dame specifically, the French state owns the building and the land on which the building stands, and the French state tolerates the building’s use by the Catholic Church, but the state does not endorse the religion.

    I have been trying to keep my posts shorter. France did have a State Religion that had its baneful effects before the current Secular Republic took over. And because of the current nature of the French regime government and religion are painful entangled still since France has a tradition of conformity instead of religious freedom. 

    But your clarification is very much welcomed.

    • #3
    • July 17, 2019, at 11:06 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  4. Full Size Tabby Member

    The lack of responsibility caused by government supplanting of charity is an interesting flip side to the lack of accountability discussed in a Quote of the Day thread by @susanquinn (made more interesting because both of you quote Arthur C. Brooks).

    When the government takes over we lose the ability to teach responsibility both to those with wealth and power and to those who lack wealth and power. In Christian terms, we lose the ability to teach what “loving our neighbor” is. 

    • #4
    • July 17, 2019, at 11:09 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  5. Misthiocracy secretly Member

    Brian Wolf: Socialism should be an advancement over Feudalism should it not?

    Though he didn’t put it in so many words, the gist of much of Marx’s writings was that society threw the baby out with the bathwater when it abandoned feudalism. He wanted to bring back the “good things” about feudalism without giving up the “good things” about industrialism.

    Put another way, Marx’s problem with feudalism was that a) the feudal lords were hereditary, b) feudal lords were monarchical, and c) the feudal lords competed against each other. Meanwhile, in post-feudal society, the feudal lords were simply replaced by “the rich”.

    If everybody was subject to the same feudal lord, that lord was a committee rather than a single person, and that committee was chosen by merit rather than by heredity or personal wealth, then everything would be hunky-dory.

    • #5
    • July 17, 2019, at 11:12 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  6. Brian Wolf Coolidge
    Brian Wolf Post author

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):
    Put another way, Marx’s problem with feudalism was that a) the feudal lords were hereditary, b) feudal lords were monarchical, and c) the feudal lords competed against each other. If everybody was subject to the same feudal lord, that lord was a committee rather than a single person, and that committee was chosen by merit rather than heredity, then everything would be hunky-dory.

    There is only so much Marx I can take so I will admit there are gaps in my knowledge but did not Marx believe the Committee even would eventually melt away? The Anarchists are more famous for that belief but I think Marx shared it but he insisted that the workers had to be organized for the overthrow portion of the program and Bukhunin and his followers thought that the workers and the peasants could rise up, even spontaneously to overthrow their Capitalist or Aristocratic overlords.

    Maybe I have that wrong but I know that Communism in practice was an Oligarchy based on the ability to protect, encourage and enable corruption. In the Kim’s case in North Korea it became weird mix of Cultic Monarchy.

    So your point stands regardless but I had it my mind that Marx himself thought the committee would itself melt away.

    • #6
    • July 17, 2019, at 11:21 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  7. Brian Wolf Coolidge
    Brian Wolf Post author

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    When the government takes over we lose the ability to teach responsibility both to those with wealth and power and to those who lack wealth and power. In Christian terms, we lose the ability to teach what “loving our neighbor” is. 

    Amen. Thanks for the shout to @susanquinn too!

    • #7
    • July 17, 2019, at 11:22 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  8. Saint Augustine Member

    Brian Wolf (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):
    Put another way, Marx’s problem with feudalism was that a) the feudal lords were hereditary, b) feudal lords were monarchical, and c) the feudal lords competed against each other. If everybody was subject to the same feudal lord, that lord was a committee rather than a single person, and that committee was chosen by merit rather than heredity, then everything would be hunky-dory.

    There is only so much Marx I can take so I will admit there are gaps in my knowledge but did not Marx believe the Committee even would eventually melt away? . . .

    . . .

    So your point stands regardless but I had it my mind that Marx himself thought the committee would itself melt away.

    I’m not sure about the Committee, but he did say the Proletariat would cease to exist as a class after the Communist Revolution / abolition of private property.

    • #8
    • July 17, 2019, at 11:23 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  9. Full Size Tabby Member

    Many years ago after some natural disaster in the Far East, the pastor of my then church cited an at-the-time-commonly-used statistic that the United States supplied some tiny fraction of the total “disaster relief” aid, and that France supplied much more than the US did. The pastor used that statistic to blast us Americans on how stingy we were.

    When I later looked into that statistic, I discovered that the statistic counted only government supplied aid. It turned out that voluntary private donations from US residents swamped all the government aid combined, and that virtually no private donations came from residents of any country except the United States. [The statistic also left out the value of the relief delivery logistics provided by the US Navy.] (The pastor is a big socialist who thinks government is the only legitimate means to accomplish any social good.)

    • #9
    • July 17, 2019, at 11:27 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  10. Misthiocracy secretly Member

    Brian Wolf (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):
    Put another way, Marx’s problem with feudalism was that a) the feudal lords were hereditary, b) feudal lords were monarchical, and c) the feudal lords competed against each other. If everybody was subject to the same feudal lord, that lord was a committee rather than a single person, and that committee was chosen by merit rather than heredity, then everything would be hunky-dory.

    There is only so much Marx I can take so I will admit there are gaps in my knowledge but did not Marx believe the Committee even would eventually melt away? The Anarchists are more famous for that belief but I think Marx shared it but he insisted that the workers had to be organized for the overthrow portion of the program and Bukhunin and his followers thought that the workers and the peasants could rise up, even spontaneously to overthrow their Capitalist or Aristocratic overlords.

    Maybe I have that wrong but I know that Communism in practice was an Oligarchy based on the ability to protect, encourage and enable corruption. In the Kim’s case in North Korea it became weird mix of Cultic Monarchy.

    So your point stands regardless but I had it my mind that Marx himself thought the committee would itself melt away.

    Yeah, that was one of his talking points for sure. He (effectively) argued that once all of humanity’s material needs were supplied at zero cost there would be no need for a ruling class. It’s questionable if he actually believed that such a post-scarcity society was possible, as it depends on either a) eliminating the laws of thermodynamics, or else b) eliminating the human impulse to want things one doesn’t strictly need.

    • #10
    • July 17, 2019, at 11:28 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  11. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    As Arthur Brooks has shown, in who really gives, once people go on government assistance their giving and generosity nearly stop and the demands for more, greed, increases

     

    And this is why I am refusing to accept Social Security and Medicare. I will not be a “ward of the state”, even though I have paid for it all my working life. I know that my taxes go directly to pay for others’ upkeep today, not into some private account for me to draw on later. Still working, and paying FICA taxes, at age 70.

    • #11
    • July 17, 2019, at 12:10 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  12. Stad Thatcher

    Brian Wolf: One of the problems with a large State and a State religion is that people lose their sense of personal responsibility for their fellow man and when the mentality is, “the State does that” the individual is free to ignore his obligations. 

    Forget religion. When the state provides welfare through taxes, people say, “Why should I donate to charity when the government takes care of the poor?”

    In the US, the state religion is The Federal Government, and the state religion’s “high priests” ensure the followers of true religions have little left in their paychecks to contribute to their own churches for charity . . .

    • #12
    • July 17, 2019, at 1:24 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  13. James Gawron Thatcher

    Brian Wolf: France is often lauded as being protective of her cultural heritage and traditions but it will be a sad state of affairs if Notre Dame is rebuild largely with American charitable giving instead of the French themselves taking care of it. When government is too big and does too much people shrink and that is not a good thing for any nation and a fundamental flaw in all Socialist schemes.

    Brian,

    The mental disconnect that adherence to socialist doctrines produces only gets greater and greater. Providing proper military security for France & Europe is an extremely expensive undertaking. The least expensive alternative for France with the highest quality security is to simply make their 2% GDP NATO commitment. Instead, Macron engages his government in a fantasy European Army. Spending incredibly more on this bizarre undertaking could easily result in much less security. However, to maintain the socialist globalist mythic political stance Macron goes all in.

    Notre Dame does not fit the “narrative”. There will come a point in time when France will be forced to choose between this absurd narrative and reality. They aren’t there yet but it will come.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #13
    • July 17, 2019, at 2:10 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  14. Misthiocracy secretly Member

    I wager that far more Americans visit Notre Dame than do French people. Heck, I wager that more Americans attend mass at Notre Dame than do French people.

    Presumably, Notre Dame’s mission is to minister to the faithful, not to minister to the French. There are more faithful Americans than faithful French. Therefore, it makes a certain amount of sense that Americans would contribute more money to its reconstruction.

    In a country that has lost its faith, a cathedral is akin to a foreign mission.

    • #14
    • July 17, 2019, at 2:22 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  15. Misthiocracy secretly Member

    Another thought: I wonder how many of the donations are coming from people of faith who aren’t Roman Catholic? It wasn’t that long ago that it would have been nigh unthinkable for non-Catholics to donate money to help out a Catholic cathedral. 

    Surely it’s a good news story if the world’s faithful set aside their differences to help out Notre Dame, even if the French have become too irreligious to bother.

    • #15
    • July 17, 2019, at 2:32 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  16. TC Chef Coolidge

    Ditto to all of the above regarding the ill effects of living in a nanny state, especially a n overtly godless nanny state. 

    One point of interest that the Post story mentioned in passing- the French billionaires seem to be waiting to “see how the money is going to be spent”. All things considered this seems to me a perfectly reasonable position. The potential for chicanery or outright looting of a large pot of money should not be underestimated. I might have to take a wait and see attitude myself when I get to be a billionaire…

    • #16
    • July 17, 2019, at 3:31 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  17. Brian Wolf Coolidge
    Brian Wolf Post author

    TC Chef (View Comment):

    Ditto to all of the above regarding the ill effects of living in a nanny state, especially a n overtly godless nanny state.

    One point of interest that the Post story mentioned in passing- the French billionaires seem to be waiting to “see how the money is going to be spent”. All things considered this seems to me a perfectly reasonable position. The potential for chicanery or outright looting of a large pot of money should not be underestimated. I might have to take a wait and see attitude myself when I get to be a billionaire…

    It says something pretty terrible that they assume the rebuilders are going to defraud them. Still they don’t need to give the whole pledge. Say they have just $50,000 out of $1 million dollar pledge. They could see how things go with the money, help pay for the emergency repairs and withhold the rest until the full plans of repair are laid out before them. Something like that would not be too much to ask I think. 

    Giving large sum of money blindly is not a good thing, I agree. But this is project in France that they can watch happening on TV. There will be a lot of accountability surely some front money for the emergency is not out of the question?

    • #17
    • July 17, 2019, at 3:37 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  18. Misthiocracy secretly Member

    Brian Wolf (View Comment):

    TC Chef (View Comment):

    Ditto to all of the above regarding the ill effects of living in a nanny state, especially a n overtly godless nanny state.

    One point of interest that the Post story mentioned in passing- the French billionaires seem to be waiting to “see how the money is going to be spent”. All things considered this seems to me a perfectly reasonable position. The potential for chicanery or outright looting of a large pot of money should not be underestimated. I might have to take a wait and see attitude myself when I get to be a billionaire…

    It says something pretty terrible that they assume the rebuilders are going to defraud them. Still they don’t need to give the whole pledge. Say they have just $50,000 out of $1 million dollar pledge. They could see how things go with the money, help pay for the emergency repairs and withhold the rest until the full plans of repair are laid out before them. Something like that would not be too much to ask I think.

    Giving large sum of money blindly is not a good thing, I agree. But this is project in France that they can watch happening on TV. There will be a lot of accountability surely some front money for the emergency is not out of the question?

    I wager one point of contention might be who’s responsible for the design and the project? As already mentioned, the building is merely used by the Catholic Church. It’s owned by the French state.

    So, how much say does the Catholic Church, and more specifically the diocese, have in how the building is repaired? Will the French state insist on having final say on all decisions? Will the French state insist on design “innovations”? I can totally understand why people of faith might be hesitant to hand money over to the French state to rebuild a church.

    Or, maybe there are billionaires who want to donate but they don’t want the Church and/or the diocese to have a say? Maybe they want the French state to “innovate” the building against the wishes of the diocese?

    The bizarre ownership situation injects a lot of uncertainty into the whole project. I think it would be pretty foolish to assume that the French state will act in good faith whenever religion is involved.

    • #18
    • July 17, 2019, at 4:59 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  19. colleenb Member

    As sort of a general thought about charity, it always grinds me how little Democrat politicians give to charity. They (thinking Obama, etc) always beef up their giving to 4 or 5% when their taxes are going to be scrutinized. Before they would be giving .000000002% (ok that might be a slight exaggeration). I especially rail against Biden about this (just ask my husband). He said his daddy told him ‘where your money is, that is where your heart is.’ So he lives that out by giving next to nothing to charity. Grrrrr. Here’s to all of us giving more, even when we think we cannot afford it and looking to the poor for example (per all the stats).

    • #19
    • July 18, 2019, at 7:20 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  20. colleenb Member

    Oh I forgot to say that I am being uncharitable about others’ charitable giving which I think is probably at least a near occasion of sin.

    • #20
    • July 18, 2019, at 7:36 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  21. Brian Wolf Coolidge
    Brian Wolf Post author

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Another thought: I wonder how many of the donations are coming from people of faith who aren’t Roman Catholic? It wasn’t that long ago that it would have been nigh unthinkable for non-Catholics to donate money to help out a Catholic cathedral. 

    Surely it’s a good news story if the world’s faithful set aside their differences to help out Notre Dame, even if the French have become too irreligious to bother.

    This is a very American mindset that is coming from a culture of religious freedom. This kind of attitude is why I think religious freedom has such a good effect on religious belief. Great comment.

    • #21
    • July 18, 2019, at 9:07 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  22. MarciN Member

    Sometimes when people live next door to a monument or a special treasure like Notre Dame, they don’t care about it as much as others who live farther way. In other words, the object, whether natural or manmade, loses its novelty for them and they take its existence for granted. It is very normal for people to look past what’s right in front of them. :-)

    That may explain some of the lack of local donations. :-)

    • #22
    • July 18, 2019, at 11:36 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  23. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Wouldn’t it be simpler to rebuild it here and let them come visit it from time to time? 

    • #23
    • July 18, 2019, at 8:27 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  24. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Many years ago after some natural disaster in the Far East, the pastor of my then church cited an at-the-time-commonly-used statistic that the United States supplied some tiny fraction of the total “disaster relief” aid, and that France supplied much more than the US did. The pastor used that statistic to blast us Americans on how stingy we were.

    When I later looked into that statistic, I discovered that the statistic counted only government supplied aid. It turned out that voluntary private donations from US residents swamped all the government aid combined, and that virtually no private donations came from residents of any country except the United States. [The statistic also left out the value of the relief delivery logistics provided by the US Navy.] (The pastor is a big socialist who thinks government is the only legitimate means to accomplish any social good.)

    For all that I believe in free speech with next-to-zero exclusions (including the pulpit), the nature of religion is that no one in a congregation is in a position to debate an idiot priest. 

    Standing up and arguing would be…well, let’s just say that things would be awkward at the refreshment table. 

    Mind you, the same applies to a rock star getting political in a stadium – but we should reasonably expect better from a would-be man of God. 

    • #24
    • July 18, 2019, at 8:59 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  25. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    James Gawron (View Comment):

    Brian Wolf: France is often lauded as being protective of her cultural heritage and traditions but it will be a sad state of affairs if Notre Dame is rebuild largely with American charitable giving instead of the French themselves taking care of it. When government is too big and does too much people shrink and that is not a good thing for any nation and a fundamental flaw in all Socialist schemes.

    Brian,

    The mental disconnect that adherence to socialist doctrines produces only gets greater and greater. Providing proper military security for France & Europe is an extremely expensive undertaking. The least expensive alternative for France with the highest quality security is to simply make their 2% GDP NATO commitment. Instead, Macron engages his government in a fantasy European Army. Spending incredibly more on this bizarre undertaking could easily result in much less security. However, to maintain the socialist globalist mythic political stance Macron goes all in.

    Notre Dame does not fit the “narrative”. There will come a point in time when France will be forced to choose between this absurd narrative and reality. They aren’t there yet but it will come.

    Regards,

    Jim

    Perhaps their new population will be able to help them come to terms with reality. 

    • #25
    • July 18, 2019, at 9:02 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  26. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Another thought: I wonder how many of the donations are coming from people of faith who aren’t Roman Catholic? It wasn’t that long ago that it would have been nigh unthinkable for non-Catholics to donate money to help out a Catholic cathedral.

    Surely it’s a good news story if the world’s faithful set aside their differences to help out Notre Dame, even if the French have become too irreligious to bother.

    Is the Vatican kicking in anything for this? 

    • #26
    • July 18, 2019, at 9:03 PM PDT
    • Like
  27. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    colleenb (View Comment):

    Oh I forgot to say that I am being uncharitable about others’ charitable giving which I think is probably at least a near occasion of sin.

    [absolved] 

    • #27
    • July 18, 2019, at 9:07 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  28. Misthiocracy secretly Member

    TBA (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Another thought: I wonder how many of the donations are coming from people of faith who aren’t Roman Catholic? It wasn’t that long ago that it would have been nigh unthinkable for non-Catholics to donate money to help out a Catholic cathedral.

    Surely it’s a good news story if the world’s faithful set aside their differences to help out Notre Dame, even if the French have become too irreligious to bother.

    Is the Vatican kicking in anything for this?

    The Vatican has offered “technical know-how”.

    The cardinal’s words came in response to a question by reporters whether the Vatican will provide support for the reconstruction of the cathedral, which was devastated by a nine-hour fire Monday evening. The cardinal underscored that France is economically “self-sufficient” and that the entrance fee to visit Notre Dame was intended “as a fund for eventual situations and restorations.”

    https://www.breitbart.com/faith/2019/04/18/vatican-offers-technical-know-how-to-help-rebuild-notre-dame/

    I don’t think the Vatican has ever been much of a financial contributor to the construction of local churches. I’m pretty sure local faithful have always been responsible for construction and upkeep of local churches. Subsidiarity is a big deal in Catholic governance.

    • #28
    • July 19, 2019, at 10:26 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  29. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    TBA (View Comment):

    Is the Vatican kicking in anything for this?

    The Vatican has offered “technical know-how”.

    [snip]

    I don’t think the Vatican has ever been much of a financial contributor to the construction of local churches. I’m pretty sure local faithful have always been responsible for construction and upkeep of local churches. Subsidiarity is a big deal in Catholic governance.

    ty, that’s good to know. 

    • #29
    • July 19, 2019, at 12:04 PM PDT
    • 1 like