A StubbornThings Symposium 9/28/15
Introduction • If this quote found on the web is correct, no wonder Catholicism has been so friendly to socialism. Apparently in the Summa Theologiae, Thomas Aquinas said that greed: “is a sin directly against one’s neighbor, since one man cannot over-abound in external riches, without another man lacking them… it is a sin against God, just as all mortal sins, inasmuch as man contemns things eternal for the sake of temporal things.”
In a time when freedom, technology, democratic government, and the institutions to support a free market were nearly non-existent, the attitude was that there was a limited pie and if some had more than another, that meant that someone else had less. This definition of “greed” is out of date, backward, and highly destructive.
If one cares for “the poor” then eating the rich is not the solution, no matter if a Pope or a Doctor of the Church says otherwise. Teaching “the poor” the ethics of hard work, honestly, the value of education, perseverance, being law-abiding, and developing an all-around good character is what one does if one cares more for the poor than one does for failed theories of economics or one’s own smug sense of benevolence.
Still, Thomas’ point is well taken. When temporal things are over-emphasized, it leaves less room for eternal things, let along things whose value cannot be measured by money. So let’s see how this group of writers tackles this subject. They should be greedy for the truth.
— The Editor
Seven Deadly Sins: Greed
One definition is; excessive or rapacious desire, especially for wealth or possessions. I think I would add a bit. I think this desire must contain some form of covetousness to rise to the level of greed and become damaging. To amass great sums of money or land or whatever does not necessarily make you greedy. You need to overdose on the desire part for those things, and maybe to desire so strongly for them that you want to take or keep the “things” of your desire from others. Most people look at greed as only having to do with money, so I will try to look at some other things as well.
Greed is one of these sins that I think every one of us must have participated in at some point in our lives, most likely as very small children. If you ever see a baby when he learns the word “mine” — whoever came up with the line, easier than taking candy from a baby, must have never tried to take candy from a baby. But the attitude of this is mine and you can’t have it, whether I need it or not, whether I have more than I could use in ten life times, is not the issue. If that becomes all-consuming, it is a big problem and may be greed.
Because I was raised by a father who was a true entrepreneur, as a kid we went through times of great wealth and plenty and times of near poverty. (His company would go bust for one reason or another and we had no money, but we were never poor.) Through all of that I think I learned to be grateful for what I had when I had it, and to share with others when I had it. Maybe that is the opposite of greed. I don’t know. Maybe that is the solution for greed, gratitude; it is hard to be so driven to acquire more and more when you are thankful for what you have.
If, on the other hand, you have an excessive or rapacious desire for anything, you probably have the first two sins covered: Lust and Gluttony. Pride in how much you have amassed, Envy over what your competitor has, Wrath about what you did not or cannot acquire or how someone else acquired more, all fit in the world of Greed. Although I just can’t seem to make Sloth fit with this one.
I am quite sure that we are all susceptible to the power of greed due to the forces of all of the other sins we are discussing. But the most vulnerable seem to be the utopian libers, on both sides of the spectrum. Both of these groups are clinging to their inner child. Mine, mine, mine could be their mantra. Leftist liberals take covetousness to a level that it falls into the category of greed for absolute equality in all things including outcomes. The damage that does to society does not matter — equity uber alles.
And rightest utopians, aka libertarians, have such a rapacious desire for freedom that they lose all reason. Libertarians would say; freedom to do whatever I want is “mine” and you can’t take it, I will not bow to your stupid laws, I will not bow to some God that demands anything from me. Ethics, morality — hogwash! — I reject any and all limitations on my freedoms. And don’t they both sure have the Wrath part linked in to their greediness?
When all is said and done, the deadly part of this sin may just be in the loneliness and unhappiness that this greed will bring to you. Just look at the libers: both are miserable.
So if you are greedy, you may not be needy, but gratitude without, there is no doubt, no true friends you will have, and that is what we should be about. (a lame attempt at poetry)
— Pat Tarzwell was born conservative, runs a successful hi-tech business, and lives a red-state life in a deep blue one. He is greedy for Ted Cruz for president.
We hear so much leftist propaganda these days denouncing the “greed” of the wealthy capitalists, but such rhetoric ignores some basic facts about this very dangerous sin.
You see, greed swells into many other sins. Greed, all by itself, has little to do with what one already has; it has to do with discontent, with always wanting more. Because of that, both gluttony and lust are mere subcategories of greed, wanting ever more food or ever more sex –health and integrity be damned. Greed can be an insatiable desire for approbation – that all-consuming hunger for applause that destroys so many of those get a taste of fame.
The foundation of greed is the inability (or refusal) to feel satisfaction, contentment, or gratitude, to recognize the source of our blessings and to kneel in thankfulness. Greed is also about envy – wanting what others have, or, even worse, wanting them not to have it.
I recall a student once telling me that some famous person we’d been discussing was greedy because he (she?) had so much more than needed. No. Gees – most people in this country have far more than what we need – we are all more comfortable, healthy, long-lived, and well traveled than kings used to be. We have no right looking at some successful person and declaring his/her greediness. 1) We don’t know what’s in another person’s soul, and 2) if greed is merely having a lot, then all people who are comfortable are greedy.
Sometimes great wealth merely means that God can trust you with that much money; that He knows you will be wise and generous with it and you won’t ruin your life trying to hold onto it. It can mean that you’ve perfected what talent you were born with, and that polished talent is a scarce commodity capable of earning you a very comfortable living. It can also mean that you are both highly competitive and competent and that a large income is merely the way you keep score; it’s not about the stuff, but about winning. I suspect that’s a lot of what drives Trump.
Is greed never connected to money? As the Bible tells us “The love of money is the root of all evil.” But it’s not the money that’s the problem; it’s the love of that which is not worthy, the dedication of one’s life to the accumulation of material things, which, paradoxically, are more ephemeral than the abstract, emotional things – love, integrity, generosity, fun.
If we want to avoid greed, we must first realize from Whom all our blessings flow, and daily spend time in grateful praise for those blessings, while we continue to ramp up our ability to notice them in the first place. Mostly we don’t.
And we need to start separating what we want, yearn for, or enjoy, from what we actually need. I have gone through many phases during which I desperately wanted something – there was the wood cook stove era, the living in New York City time period, the tiny writing house phase, I could go on, but the point is that I have happily survived them all without attaining any of those desires. Hmmm. That’s a useful thing to know.
Greed is also an inability to share what one has – the Ebenezer Scrooge Effect. Instead of wanting more, one merely grasps on tight to whatever one already has. But this is also, at the root of it, a lack of understanding that a generous God gave it to you in the first place.
In conclusion, there is nothing relaxed, or happy, or satisfying about greed. There is nothing hopeful or exciting or joyous about hoarding or grasping for wealth. And since Scripture constantly reminds us to be joyful, greed seems counterproductive.
— Deana Chadwell blogs greedily and eloquently at ASingleWindow.com.
The practical consequences of greed are different from those of lust and gluttony. Those can be directly harmful due to such consequences as venereal disease and obesity. Greed has no such practical effects; accumulating more wealth and more possessions causes no personal harm. It can lead to some degree of emotional distress at the possibility of loss, as Scrooge McDuck was known to demonstrate on numerous occasions (a problem Isaac Asimov made use of for his first Black Widowers story). Those who are especially greedy are probably more likely to suffer this sort of stress.
There are other possible consequences as well with greed. The desire to gain more need not be anti-social; what can seek to maximize wealth by legitimate means. But it’s also true that those who are (to use a term I encountered in a Dick Franics mystery) “money-holic” are all too likely to engage in illegitimate means to acquire wealth. During the Gilded Age, there were those who said that the rich of that era sought to gain money “honestly if possible, dishonestly if necessary” (and some cynics reversed that to “dishonestly if possible, honestly if necessary”). It’s that dishonest part that could lead to legal complications (which can’t always be solved by bribing the relevant authorities, though that often works). Of course, many of those who try to acquire money illegally (such as bank robbers) probably are motivated as much by the desire for excitement as by the desire for gain — a point strongly made in the Twilight Zone episode “A Nice Place to Visit” and also by many critics of gambling. But whatever the motivation, many people who cut corners to enrich themselves further have ended up in jail over the years.
Greed can also be negative in personal terms. Someone who obsessively seeks to acquire wealth will probably have few friends. Partly this results from the tendency to look at everyone and everything in terms of how they can benefit you financially, and partly because this also will tend to affect the personality.
So remember why St. Paul referred to “the lust for money” as the root of evil. Of course, he had no idea that for many power is desired for its own right, not just for the money and perks that go along with it. But he did know that it isn’t so much the desire for more, but what it leads one to do (or not do, as in failing to give to charity), that really matters.
— Timothy Lane writes from Louisville, Kentucky and publishes the FOSFAX fanzine. His greed is mainly regarding the collecting of books.
At what point does one step over the line between “enlightened self-interest” and greed? I suppose the answer depends on the person and the cultural setting.
The above notwithstanding, I would like to play devil’s advocate for the proposition that greed is not a completely irrational or evil emotion.
Throughout history humanity’s overriding concerns were food and disease. Both were interwoven. Poor diet increased the chance of disease. And although they had something of an advantage over the peasants, even the wealthy were plagued by early death.
In those days, wealth depended on, by and large, agricultural production and trade. Both were dependant on human labor. As there were limits on the amount any single person could produce, even in good times, it was often the case that there was very little, or no, surplus to go around.
Given this historical context, it could be argued that “greed,” i.e. the desire for something more than one has, was a major impetus in the human endeavor to break out of this economic prison. Seen thusly, it was in large part “greed” which impelled McCormick and his spiritual antecedents to develop the mechanical reaper to improve agricultural output. It was greed that led Watt to improve the steam engine so as to improve efficiency in a number of areas such as mining and textile production which in turn led to new possibilities in a multitude of areas that bettered the material state of mankind. It was “greed” which prodded Jenner to experiment and develop a vaccine for smallpox.
In our times, a little greed combined with a little sloth has given further momentum to progress in all areas of life, from medicine to computing. The desire to do more with less has improved our lives beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.
So l think it only appropriate that we all take a moment to consider and give quiet thanks for “greed,” as without a small degree of it, it is not very likely that humanity would have gotten much further than following herds of Wildebeests up and down the African savanna.
Kung Fu Zu is a conservative prognosticator who has traveled widely and lived outside the United States. Greedy for attention (he secretly wants to be the next Jonah Goldberg), he suggested this symposium.
THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS AS SET FORTH IN PROVERBS 6:16-19
#2: A Lying Tongue, the same in the KJV, the TANAKH, and the Peshitta
The Lord has told all men not to lie, and yet we do, in ways both small and large. But this – this Lying Tongue has, at its very heart, the sowing of discord between brothers. That would take larger than usual lies and there must be true believers in the targeted groups so that the lies can endure and infect others.
Look around at the Lying Tongues of today. The tongues that turn everything into lies. The tongues of those who don’t even care that everyone knows they lie, the leaders who approve of the lies as long as they create chaos and discord. Not to speak is also to condone the lies, to become partners in the deceit.
The Pope went to New York and sweetly blessed a child of illegal immigrants. Then we learn the whole scenario had been carefully scripted, staged and rehearsed for a year before the event took place. Who are we to trust and when? Who are the people who so carefully choreograph these public spectacles and why? Even seeming goodness becomes an act without meaning when based on a lie.
You know who possess the Lying Tongues, they are the same people who have a haughty look. Watch carefully, they also have dead looking eyes because the lights have gone out in their souls. Look at Marilyn Mosby, the DA, in Baltimore. She and the State Department Bobsey Twins, Marie Harf and Jen Psaki could be triplets, all with flannel hair and eyes that see only their own desires and lies. Partners in deceit and perfect foils for a city and nation beset by evil, they spew filth on all they touch.
The Rules of the Deadly Sins:
The Rule of the First Deadly Sin: By their haughty look ye shall know them.
The Rule of the Second Deadly Sin: The Lying Tongues cause distrust and
blanket the whole land in Deceit.
— Anniel is a frequent contributor to StubbornThings and that’s the truth.
Greed has been re-defined by the Marxists and nicey-nice “Progressives” amongst us. Now you’re “greedy” if you simply want to hold onto more of what you earn and give less in taxes to a wasteful, bloated, and corrupt government. The prostitution of government is now almost complete with this redefinition, and a neutered, bamboozled, and distracted populace doesn’t seem to care. Apparently no price is too high to pay for Utopia — or at least its false promises.
Therefore, how we define “greed” is important in terms of talking about it. Gordon Gecko (played by Michael Douglas) from the film, Wall Street, said:
The point is, ladies and gentlemen, greed is good. Greed works, greed is right. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed in all its forms, greed for life, money, love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind — and greed, mark my words — will save not only Teldar Paper but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA…Thank you.
Your average Progressive, let alone Christian or Catholic, is likely shocked by those words. Free enterprise — having long been besmirched, while socialism and government have been deified — is considered something that, at best, must be tolerated. The “enlightened” mindset distrusts business (for it is driven by the evil “profit motive”) and trusts government because it has supposedly no self-interested motive and (at least when in the hands of the self-anointed “Progressives”) is motivated by “social justice.”
So basically you have this ninnified moral inversion. Where once it was hard work and pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps that was honored — to actually produce something with your life — now everyone does a flop and tells us how they are a “victim” while we all must admire their “courage” while they sit home and collect welfare. And all victims need oppressors, and the Cultural Marxist/Progressive paradigm has provided one: the free market (derided by Marx as “capitalism”).
So although the libtard makers of the film, Wall Street, ultimately meant to use Gordon Gecko as a foil, to be the very personification of the inherent flaws of free markets, his words are far more constructive and good than that of the conniving socialists who would topple free markets and thus freedom itself.
Without free markets — that is, without the ability to profit from one’s efforts and to make one’s own choices — there is damn little freedom. And those ninnies who have been ninnified with the message of “social justice” as devilishly marketed by the socialists and big government types are too stupid, too guilt-laden, or just too fat-and-happy to engage in the ideas that have vital consequences for us all.
So to talk about “greed,” we have to unpack it from the assault being made on our freedoms by the big government scoundrels and their minions.
Still, in my book, “greed” is not the issue. Gordon Gecko is completely right. Re-read what he said, if need be. The problem comes when accumulation is the only or overarching goal. Charity (real charity, not government welfare) is another aspect that helps to create good and free societies, for unless we step in and give effective (not blubbering libtard, but the kind of help that helps, not hurts) charity, overzealous government types will likely try to step in and market their runaway “do-gooderism” and wreck both the morals of society and its finances, as is happening now. And these internal vandals have the audacity to anoint themselves as “compassionate.” Yeah…with your time, effort, and money.
So a balanced life will have a greed for living, but also balance it and temper it with charity, humility, and a pursuit of the things in life that money cannot buy. And a sane person will be highly suspicious of the nitwits, nincompoops, and ne’er-do-wells who try to market government control over your life by demonizing effort — by besmirching the reward for services rendered in the free market. It is government that is greedy for your money even while they tell us how supposedly greedy we are for simply wanting to keep more of what we earn. And although they will use excesses (whether on Wall Street or elsewhere) to demonize freedom, they are after you, not just the “fat cats.”
But most of this essay will go over the heads of the ninnies, and I understand that. They are the ruin of this country. Their excessive greed for thinking themselves the Specially Anointed and Compassionate People is a large part of the problem.
— Brad Nelson is editor and publisher of StubbornThings.org. He is a sinner but assures you that he “did not have sexual relations with that woman…not a single time.”