Wednesday, September 12, 2007

My Writings on the Web

To kick off this blog, I thought I'd collect my various writings that are scattered about the Internet and provide links to most, if not all, of them in one place.

Breathing Catholic Air: My conversion story as originally printed in This Rock, April 1994.

Oral Tradition in the New Testament: Originally printed in This Rock, May 1995.

The Reformation: A Break With Christian Consensus

James White vs. "Jesus, Peter, and the Keys"

James White and Robert Sungenis on Matthew 16:18 (Broken link: I'll fix it)

A review of Steve Ray's Upon This Rock

The Real Presence: This article first appeared in Immaculata Magazine, April, 1996 and was republished in The Coming Home Journal, June 1997.

Papal Infallibility: Originally published in The Coming Home Journal.

Papal Infallibility (MP3): From Catholic Answers Live. For the most part I think this is pretty good, but I do have to retract my recommendation of the book The Pope, the Council, and the Mass by Likoudis and Whitehead.

"The Mouse That Roars": Point-and-Click Evangelism: Originally published in Envoy Magazine, Jan/Feb 1997.

The Red Herring of Usury: Originally printed in This Rock, September 1997.

Catholic Dissent vs. Protestant Divisions

What Will You Do When the Chips Are Down?: Proof positive, as if you needed it, that I am not infallible. Originally published in Envoy Magazine, Nov/Dec 1998.

Journeys Home: On Orthodox Christian Teaching (MP3): Originally on EWTN, Journeys Home with Marcus Grodi. I would probably modify my soaring praise of Vatican II a bit, but little else. The folks at EWTN have said that this interview has been helpful to many.

CWR letters on Inerrancy: An exchange of letters in Catholic World Report, October 2001 revealing, sadly, that even ostensibly orthodox churchmen take unorthodox positions on the doctrine of the inerrancy of sacred Scripture.

When Dialogue Trumps Evangelism: My concerns on the stance of various churchmen with regard to Islam, as expressed to Catholic World Report, March 2002.

These next three essays were my contribution to the destruction of the "Heos Hou" canard advanced by Eric Svendsen and James White. I do hope that, at least privately, Svendsen in particular is keenly embarrassed by the utter demolition of his putative doctoral thesis at the hands of John Pacheco and others:
Foreword to He├Ás Hou and the Protestant Polemic: October 2003
Eric Svendsen's Compounding Errors: December 2003
The Non-Rule of Mr. Svendsen: Feb 2004

Catholic Confusion at the Very Top: Originally published in the New Oxford Review, March 2004. Interestingly, feedback on this essay has run about 90% positive (and not just from "rad trads".) Many good Catholics know instinctively that things haven't been quite right—sometimes it's a relief for somebody to just say so.

Separation of Church and State: Manifest Destiny or Manifest Heresy?: Originally posted at The Seattle Catholic, June 2005. Reaction to this essay has been strange, from orthodox Catholics who insist that Vatican II changed the Church's position on this separation despite the text of Vatican II saying explicitly that it does no such thing, to seculars who would not flinch from publicly blaspheming God but are aghast that anyone would have the audacity to challenge the secular dogma of the separation of Church and State. Heretic! Burn him!


Hans Georg Lundahl said...

deretour: Usury, definition of

this was supposed to be a link, but get back to my blogg, then look for the post with that title

it is against your "The Red Herring of Usury"

thepalmhq said...

Thanks for your comments, Hans. To reply very briefly, I think that what we're seeing here is a distinction made between what we would call personal loans and corporate loans. For example, even St. Thomas notes that while it is usury to collect interest on a personal loan, it is licit to collect interest on a corporate loan. He uses different words--"lent" for a personal loan and "entrusted" for what we would call a corporate loan. But it is especially noteworthy that he concedes the main point of the Objection, namely that, "it is lawful to receive interest for money entrusted to a merchant or craftsman." This establishes that even in medieval times not all interest taking was considered intrinsically immoral. And the whole thrust of my article was to point to the very sort of distinctions in the circumstances of lending that St. Thomas brings out here. (Thanks to Ben Douglass for bringing this text to my attention):

Summa Theologica, Par. II-II, Q. 78, Art. 2, ad 5

Objection 5. Further, the lender, by transferring his ownership of a sum of money removes the money further from himself than he who entrusts it to a merchant or craftsman. Now it is lawful to receive interest for money entrusted to a merchant or craftsman. Therefore it is also lawful to receive interest for money lent.

Reply to Objection 5. He who lends money transfers the ownership of the money to the borrower. Hence the borrower holds the money at his own risk and is bound to pay it all back: wherefore the lender must not exact more. On the other hand he that entrusts his money to a merchant or craftsman so as to form a kind of society, does not transfer the ownership of his money to them, for it remains his, so that at his risk the merchant speculates with it, or the craftsman uses it for his craft, and consequently he may lawfully demand as something belonging to him, part of the profits derived from his money.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

The distinction is not between lending to individuals for their needs and lending to merchants, it is between ledning and entrusting. If you buy a share and become a shareholder you entrust. If you lend you do not become a shareholder.

thepalmhq said...

Right. But the typical canard against the Catholic Church, the "red herring" of which my original article spoke, is that any interest taking at all was considered usury in the past but is now allowed. This is plainly false.

In today's economy, if I put my money in the bank it immediately is used to buy shares in various enterprises. Therefore it is reasonable to expect a return of interest and this is not usury.

If I lend money to my neighbor to buy food for his family or pay the electric bill (both fungible goods), charging interest on that loan would certainly be usurous. (This would suggest that a great many credit card transactions today would also be usurous loans.)

But if I lend money to my neighbor to start a business, then again I would expect a return of interest. Today we call this a "loan", but it is what St. Thomas would call an "entrustment". You and he agree that this would not be usury.

I think a real modern gray area is the charging of interest on home loans. Everyone's expectation, of course, is that the property appreciates in value and so the bank is rightly compensated by a return of interest. But as we see all around us in the present mortgage crisis, this is by no means certain. Certainly it was often the greed of the home buyers that got them into so much trouble. But speaking generally it is not clear to me that it is moral to charge interest on a loan to purchase what everybody intrinsically needs, namely shelter. I suspect that we're looking at an example of widespread of usurous lending here. And it's one that really harms especially the working poor because the charging of interest on loans for housing has driven the prices up way beyond what many people can afford even with two adults working full time. I think you'll agree that this is the sign of a seriously disordered society.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

Hmm ... the bank may be intitled to part in gain made by the money they bought shares for - as they are in a share of the losses made if the shares loose in value.

"In today's economy, if I put my money in the bank it immediately is used to buy shares in various enterprises. Therefore it is reasonable to expect a return of interest and this is not usury."

Refuted by the fact that it is not you but the bank that invests.

"On the other hand he that entrusts his money to a merchant or craftsman so as to form a kind of society, does not transfer the ownership of his money to them, for it remains his, so that at his risk the merchant speculates with it ..." You form a kind of society of you are a shareholder, not if you lend to someone who then becomes a shareholder. As you prepare a company by buying tools, not by lending to someone buying tools for the money.

Houses are made for living in not for selling. Therefore the rise in value is totally beside the point. It is also an economic fruit of usurious speculation.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I'm as sympathetic toward the usury case on home loans. While people do need shelter, they do not necessarily need to own it. I think that the easy credit of the recent past has only led people to buy homes they might not really be entitled to. On the one hand, certainly most that I know have more home than they truly need. On the other, is there really an entitlement to own a home (versus renting). It's nice, but hardly an entitlement. Also, the investment in the home loan is in part toward recovering the rent expense--although in reality I think most buy more to have that "ownership" feeling in spite of the fact that taxes make land ownership more of a renting arrangement from the government who holds ultimate title on the land.

Anonymous said...

The link to your Red Herring article is broken. It's now at