Hope for the Common Good

The Society of Adventist Philosophers gathered in San Antonio for their 12th Annual Conference on Nov. 18. Seven members presented papers on the ideas of Heidegger, Levinas, Rawls, and others engaging the topic of “What’s Become of the Common Good: Philosophical Reflections of Power, Justice, and Virtue.”

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11521

“Common good” depends on common culture. When language was scrambled at Babel, so was culture. Culture wars have been waged since the beginning of time. Peace happens only when the farmer’s kid stays on the farm. As soon as he takes the Greyhound off the I-70 and heads to either coast, common good becomes meaningless.

North America is packed with various cultures that keep hanging on for generations. The emigres arrived with baggage other than suitcases. Their cultural needs begin to evolve and become diluted but they’re still there in the depths of who they are.

The only “common good” possible in a cultural conglomerate are the basics of food, water, and shelter. Even these are up for debate. The only glue that keeps it all together, is personal respect for your neighbor. The current trend is to relate to groups rather than individuals. There are neat little boxes with ideological labels, and we are expected to relate to the groups we have placed in the boxes. Individuals don’t count any more. Just tell me your theology and your politics and go to the prescribed box where I will deal with you all later.

The recent Rittenhouse trial is the perfect example. Right out of the box he was obviously guilty of a set of crimes - you just have to look at him - no trial necessary. And yes, that works against other cultures in this amalgamation. This may be the reason “Love your neighbor” is only second to Love God. There is nothing between the two ideals. But you can’t love a whole group, because you don’t know them. Group identity is an all together different thing.


I love the definition of structural injustice that Sally Haslanger talked of. I have been reading a book titled " the Tyranny of Merit " can we find the common good by Michael J. Sandel which talks about how our systems of rewards for merit - what we believe we deserve has harmed us as well as those who do not measure up to the ideal - it also reminded be of the story of vineyard in the bible where everyone was paid the same for a days work even though the workers came at different times --thus some worked less and were paid the same - interesting ideas - sounds like the conference was inspiring-


The “Common Good” appeals to most people as a logical benign slogan or objective we should all pursue – The name has been used and is being used as a Roman Catholic Social Doctrine that can be directly traced to Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum in 1891 and followed by Pius XI’s 1931 encyclical Quadragesimo Anno. I don’t think I would be the first person to link both to the instigation of significant, even catastrophic social upheavals, the Bolshevik Revolution and the Fascist regimes in Europe, respectively.

I find this choice of topic by the SAP (Hope for the Common Good) very curious to say the least considering its’ undeniable socialist “justice” undertones throughout the 20th Century and even more so as it represents the present social agenda of the current Pope (Francis) to promote everything from what he calls an “ethical economy” to coercing the entire world into making and accepting unprecedented environment-related policy, and even mass population sacrifice consent in the implementation of Covid lockdowns and vaccination mandates at incalculable human cost.

I am saddened, but not surprised, to learn that this group also seems to be following the trend using the social ills du jour to perhaps seek attention to a new gospel

I’m reminded of another parable where three men are given different quantities of talent and the servant who makes no use of his has them taken away and given to the person who invested wisely.

Given such conflicting object lessons, one is left to wonder what Jesus, if he actually existed, thought about the concept of meritocracy.

This circumstance also tends to confirm the reasonable assertion that everyone is free to make whatever one will of the Bible’s contradictory “good news”.

it’s probably true that one can generally find a jesuit under every rock within every search field, but the “common good” dogma has currency in all developed democracies, whatever it’s provenance…in fact it’s arguable that democracies have no other choice…imagine if a government overlooked the health and safety of the majority in order to cater to the so-called conscientious objections of a clamouring minority who were plugging up the hospital system…chaos would ensue…

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Jeremy, why do you bring out the topic of “Jesuits” and rocks? Are you implying something you are not comfortable with spelling out? (I personally did not mentioned looking for or finding Jesuits at all).
Democracies are by definition a Western Civilization development and the RCC obviously has a presence in all of them, including educational organizations, church membership and officials in government office - so what is your point?

Maybe everyone deserves an “A” for effort in a relay race in primary school; but would you allow a surgeon who barely squeaked by to operate on you or your child? We look for “above the average” when looking for help navigating life.

You do realize this Bible story is an allegory explaining that neither our efforts nor merits get us to heaven?

Having taught in both, the public school system, as well as SDA schoolsI I’ve discovered, one big mistake our schools make, is not allowing competitive sports. Kids need to learn how to win and lose gracefully; and what it means to do your best. Learning to just squeak by does no one any favours - and neiher does lowering standards just to make everybody feel good. The majority of our population is not self-motivated. If you can get rewarded for less effort, most people would go for it.


My nephew’s public school district didn’t allow elementary level soccer teams to have goalies, as the emotional impact of letting the ball get past any one responsible player and into the net might be devastating for that child!

I had even easier “solution”.

Take away the net.:rofl:

The obvious problem with such thinking, however, is that whether or not one wants to compete in any area of life, there are people who do and those who savor the competition rather than shy away from it will win out every time, particularly over those who can’t or won’t acknowledge that they’re being “played”!


my point is that although “common good” dogma may have a catholic provenance, it is an immensely useful, and probably necessary, paradigm for democracies of today…there’s no need to be suspicious of something just because it can be traced to a catholic pope…

my point about a jesuit under every rock is the same point you’re making about the Catholic Church having a hand in every major aspect of western civilization development…I’m not necessarily disagreeing with you here…

as you know, headship keeps us tethered to the Catholic Church, even though headship advocates tend to see themselves as being least influenced by the Catholic Church…


In all fairness to you I will offer that perhaps it is me not understanding your logic. Hopefully you can expand on the following: If the so-called “Common Good” doctrine (Catholic or otherwise) resulted in the Marxist and Fascists regimes and the literal human holocausts that followed in recent history, how can its’ application now be a “useful and necessary” paradigm for democracies today?

Before I go and demonstrate how this doctrine affected not only Europe but South and Central America in the 60s and 70s), I will wait for you to respond in case you have a different perspective I am missing.

do you think the holocaust, Stalin and Mussolini illustrate the Common Good doctrine…I don’t…to me, these were perversions of the principle…I don’t think either Pope Leo or Pope Pius envisioned these aberrations…certainly Pope Francis isn’t calling for anything like this…

what I think is more concerning is the current state of America’s GOP: they gave trump a pass in two impeachment trials that would have convicted him in previous decades; they sat by as Barr turned DOJ into trump’s personal law firm; they’ve acquiesced to the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump; in fact they’ve sought to obstruct any kind of investigation into Jan 6, with many GOP voices calling that insurrection both a tourist excursion and an impersonation by antifa and BLM; they’ve largely dismissed vaccine efficacy, turning it into a faux conscience principle; and now they’ve made a hero out of Kyle Rittenhouse who willfully and openly murdered two people…

this wholesale denial and obliteration of truth - of putting darkness for light, and light for darkness - is what in my mind paves the way for fascism, and worse, which of course will be denied even while it’s happening…what some pope said or envisioned centuries ago, or advocates today, in order to lighten the load of the world’s poor, doesn’t concern me…I do agree that pope Francis’ calling for a sunday shutdown in order to combat climate change is concerning, whether he understands its MOB significance or not, and I doubt he does…


An obvious oxymoron.

If Jesus’ claim that his Abba sees everything is to be believed, every human decision is a necessarily a very real question of conscience.

To insist that the vaccine doesn’t rise to that level demonstrates a faux, or flawed, sense of conscience.

Resounding YES
To start with: have you read either of these encyclicals? I think you should. I realize that to some Generation-X people history from the early 1900’s seems like ancient history, and probably this is precisely the reason we are headed straight into repeating it its mistakes, but I will answer your question with a quote from the very topic we are discussing – Pius XI’s encyclical: Don’t forget, we are still discussing the “Common Good” and private property, the main component of it then, and now.

“Fascism is a form of socialism that retains the forms and trappings of capitalism, but not its substance. Under fascism, property titles and deeds are intact, but the institution of private property has disappeared. Government regulations and mandates have replaced it. For this distinction between legal ownership and actual use, the fascists owe a debt to the Roman Church-State.”

He also had this to say:

“Under the guidance and in light of Leo’s encyclical was thus evolved a truly Christian social science, which continues to be fostered and enriched daily by the tireless labours of those picked men whom we have named the auxiliaries of the Church… The doctrine of Rerum Novarum began little by little to penetrate among those who, being outside Catholic unity, do not recognize the authority of the Church; and these Catholic principles of sociology gradually became part of the intellectual heritage of the whole human race …Thus too, we rejoice that the Catholic truths proclaimed so vigorously by our illustrious Predecessor [Leo XIII in 1891’s Rerum Novarum], are advanced and advocated not merely in non-Catholic books and journals, but frequently also in legislative assemblies and in courts of justice

And in 1965 again Pius XI writes: “The experiment with economic freedom, must end, and economic life must again be subjected to planning and government”

If you don’t think this is exactly what is happening right now using Covid as the excuse, then I can bore you with a few more quotes I picked from under the rocks of Vatican II, John Paul II right to Pope Francis, and show how this “Common Good” gospe has evolved into the sy=ustanable means of production, environment-ecology and a few other goodies.

Boy are you wrong. Fascism is the exact opposite of socialism. It is where the state is a corporate state and dictates what is in the best interest of the state, not the people.

The purest form of Communism or Socialism (take your pick) was found in the Acts 2, where the early Cristian Church pooled their belongings and as you put is so bluntly, “property”, for the good of all in the early church. Greed and “property” crept in soon after and they went back to being the self-serving people that we are surrounded with today. In the end time, we will either find ourselves sharing with our brothers and sisters what we have or we will all parish. Plain and simple.


You’ll have to tell it to the guy who wrote that, I was just quoting it, and incidentally, he is the same guy who had a major hand at creating both of these systems.

You are mistaken in your first assertion that Acts 2 represents a pure form of Communism or Socialism which, as an obvious proponent of either or both systems, you should understand the differences. Here are a couple of quick (not comprehensive) distinctions:

  • The Christians sold part of their possessions for sharing in mutual love with their brethren, The goods were equitably distributed where no one was found to be in need.
  • The giving was entirely voluntary, there was no imposed rule or prerequisite for joining this new church.
  • It was partial and temporary, they did not have to sell all their possessions, and continued to own and meet in their own homes (property).
  • By contrast Communism and Socialism are both government-mandated, coercive, forcefully imposed, permanently implemented, and no Socialist or Communist system that has ever existed has been known to equitably distribute from the “haves” to the “have-not”, which is one their primary claims.

But I do agree with you that in the end time, not far from now, we will all have to barter and share to survive to survive as no buying or selling will be possible.

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what I think is this: covid is not an excuse to end private ownership and usher in fascism (this is David Read’s spiel, see Fulcrum7)…vaccine mandates are being issued and fought in courts because those issuing them have clear evidence that mandates protect the most amount of people the most amount of time…translation: vaccine mandates reduce disease and enable economies to prosper…

prosperous economies, and an equitable tax system, enable more private ownership and a stronger individual stake in society…if we look at the world today, prosperous economies and private ownership go hand in hand…communist countries, like Cuba and Russia, are steeped in economies that aren’t prosperous…totalitarian regimes, like Iran, are also struggling…these economies, in which private ownership has very little meaning, are closer to fascism than the prosperous economies of the U.S., Canada and much of Europe…the reason why the world’s populations are storming the borders of prosperous democracies isn’t because people are hoping to get a leg up on participation in a fascist state…frequently they’re fleeing economic collapse, government corruption, gangs, cartels, and a paucity of basics, like food, which for all intents and purposes are mere heartbeats away from fascism…

but again, what I do see having the potential to bring fascism into a prosperous economy like america is a wholesale denial of facts and truth, such as what we’re seeing in today’s GOP…we’ve already seen lawlessness under a first Trump term, which was attended by 30,573 documented lies by Trump, but a 2nd Trump term, with a GOP house and senate, could very well spell the end of democracy as we know it…already the GOP has put people in place for no other purpose than to nullify elections they don’t like - that is, steal an election that trump was unable to because too many scrupulous, principled people stood in his way…

I can’t understand why you reach for a centuries old pope’s ramblings, when a major political party in the here and now represents all the danger anyone needs…


The comedian Chris Rock once talked about the difference between being rich and being wealthy.

“Shaquille O’Neal is rich. The man who signs Shaq’s check is wealthy.”

The same principle applies in politics.

For example, Joe Biden is president.

The people who tell Joe Biden what to do and say are powerful.

And those people, working behind the screen and pulling the strings from above, don’t care who’s president.

They care about one principle: If power is good, then too much power is just right.

So buying into their non-nuanced two party system, where “Biden good. Trump bad” or vice versa, makes things far too easy for them because no matter how you play the game, the house wins and no matter how you vote, you lose.

There are parallels in organized religion.

It makes no difference which church one thinks is right.

Turning one’s relationship with his creator over to anyone other than oneself is wrong.


Ok so I didn’t mean to oversimplify the very complex web of factors being used to gain total world control, Fascism and Communism were just trial balloons in their implementation of what they call “Christian Social Science”, and Covid is just the latest factor/issue 80 years later, but a very powerful one indeed as evidenced by the unprecedented response from all countries.

The RCC’s social philosophy goes all the way back to Thomas Aquinas (the Dr. of the Church) but the quotes I provided earlier are evidence of how this Church-State power had been using “external auxiliaries” in modern times at all levels of society (any ideas who they may be?) to accomplish their aims of implementing their "Catholic principles of sociology”.

These principles can be further understood with the writings of Pope Benedict pointing to Paul VI’s encyclical where Benedict said: ”Populorum Progressio deserves to be considered ‘the Rerum Novarum of the present age” ", and when you look at what Paul VI wrote in the council of Vatican II it says: “if one is in extreme necessity he has the right to procure for himself what he needs out of the riches of others”.

Do you think this may have something to do with what BLM and Antifa are doing in Oregon and Ohio these days? both are self-acknowledged Marxist-trained groups. And guess who is openly justifying them in Government, it is the Right or the Left?**

Prosperity is the hollow promise, the social bait. Looked from another angle, all the prosperous governments of modern times were those who accepted the biblical light that came from the Reformation, starting with Germany, the UK, Netherlands, Switzerland, North America, and even France, through the implementation of freedom and democratic and capitalistic societies. The ones not so prosperous and utterly corrupt were the ones totally dominated by the RCC, Italy, Spain, South America, Etc.

Your focus on US Democrats vs Republicans as the potential for introducing fascist forms of government is very shortsighted, this is happening all over the world, the UK, Spain, France, Venezuela, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, just to name a few, and we SDAs, of all people, should be in a great position to discern what is happening instead of seeing these developments as disconnected or aligning ourselves with any political party. In our analysis we should also include the Vatican’s role in the UN’s Agenda-21, aka Agenda 2030, Etc. which aim to control every aspect of human life in the entire globe, but this will require at least one additional page.

my understanding of Rev 13 is that the U.S. will be the agent that finally brings in the MOB, not Europe, or even the Catholic Church…while worldwide developments are important, it’s what the U.S. does, or doesn’t do, that we should be focussing on…and the complete meltdown of one of your two major political parties is, I think, cause for alarm…even if it means unfettered dem control, which I doubt, it’s still cause for alarm…a healthy american democracy, and by extension, a healthy world, depends on two opposing political parties prioritizing truth and reality, not just one…i don’t think we know what an incapacitated major political party in the U.S. means…to my knowledge, we’ve never seen this before…but I don’t sense that it’s a good omen…

one scenario I see starts with a conservative victory in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the pending Mississippi abortion case taken up by SCOTUS tomorrow…this could embolden the idea that widespread religious beliefs - think sunday laws - can be forced on everyone if the right case can be crafted…

I think we have to recognize that the GOP has been very busy crafting laws that evade accountability - eg., Texas Senate Bill 8 - along with new election requirements that essentially disenfranchise voters, not to mention stacking elected positions that can theoretically overturn voter results…GOP stealth in these areas takes a back seat only to the way they’ve successfully stacked SCOTUS itself, openly breaking with all norms to do so…

but I do expect extreme pushback if SCOTUS actually overturns Roe v. Wade

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