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Things To Come: Faith, State, and Society in a New World

We live in complicated times. It’s easy to be angry and distressed. Earlier this month a friend sent me an email with a message of exactly four syllables: “Worse is better.” He was quoting a famous line from Vladimir Lenin. And his message did have some merit. The worse things get, the more painful they become. The more painful they become, the more urgently we ask why. And when we know the reason “why” behind our troubles, we can start to fix them.

But there are two problems with the Lenin quote. First, it’s not clear that he ever actually said those words. And second, even if he did say them, they’re not true.

Parents of the students massacred last week in Florida don’t think “worse is better.” They know what worse means. It’s unbearable. Murders in Chicago have been getting worse for years. They’re now so common that the rest of the country sees them as routine. Worse is not better. And one of the tasks of the Church, and each of us as individual believers, is to live and work in a way that does help to make the world around us better. What that means and how we do it are questions I hope we can talk about this afternoon.

The subtitle of my remarks is “faith, state and society in a new world.” Each of those categories – faith, state and society — is important. They’re all closely connected in thinking about the shape of our country’s future. But I want to reverse their order. I’ll start with some thoughts on society and end with the role of faith, and especially the mission of the Church. The reason is simple. There’s no healing without a good diagnosis. If we claim that we need the Church as a source of healing and hope, then we need to show what our culture’s illness is, and why. So let’s turn our focus to that work.

We’ll begin with a fact. The United States is the most powerful market economy in the world. We can probably agree on that. And most of us would probably agree that since World War II, American democratic capitalism has reshaped much of the world; in effect, created a new world of political and economic relationships.


Read more at Catholic World Report. 

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