Dave Ramsey—Our Favorite Catechist: A Response to Richard Becker

 We have no wish at all to pass over in silence the difficulties, at times very great, which beset the lives of Christian married couples. For them, as indeed for every one of us, “the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life.” —Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae

Earlier this month, Richard Becker published an essay in Crisis on financial guru Dave Ramsey. The occasion for Becker’s article was a phone call to Ramsey’s radio show from Karen, a mother of seven whose family was struggling with out-of-control debt. Ramsey told her that getting family finances back under control is much more difficult when “you choose to have seven children.” “It’s not a criticism,” said Ramsey, “it’s just a mathematical fact.” He also said that the family’s size will inevitably “slow them down” as they battle to escape their debt. Nevertheless, he insisted that Karen and her husband work hard to get their money under control, and not use the size of their family as “an excuse” to be irresponsible. Becker’s response was respectful, orthodox and well-written. He presented himself and Ramsey as differing more in emphasis than in good will, and I’m sure Mr. Becker won’t mind if I for my part make a case for tipping the scale of emphasis back in Ramsey’s direction. Becker was “blunt” enough about his point: While Ramsey is “all the rage” among Christians, his advice is “not for childbearing Catholic couples who take the teaching of the Church seriously.”

As a young Catholic couple, my fiancée and I take Catholic teaching very seriously, which is precisely why we take Dave Ramsey’s advice. Since I proposed to Carey, she and I have looked for what good counsel we could find. We get the bedrock stuff from Catholic encyclicals. But when it comes to applying Catholic principles in the concrete world, Ramsey has been our greatest help. Why? Because Ramsey emphasizes an aspect of Catholic teaching that is severely under-emphasized in Catholic circles: A moral duty for couples to contribute to society instead of taking from it.

Gaudium et Spes emphasizes the integrity and value of marriages during the hard times when conception should be avoided. When the family finances are in disarray, a prudent concern for “the welfare of the children” demands “that the mutual love of the spouses be embodied in a rightly ordered manner.” At times like these, couples may decide to delay the conception of a child, despite their “often intense desire.” Casti Connubii praises this effort as “virtuous continence.” The same encyclical denounces the self-excusing claim by some couples that “they cannot on the one hand remain continent (practice NFP) nor on the other can they have children because of the difficulties whether on the part of the mother or on the part of family circumstances,” such as unmanageable family debt. In the eyes of the Church, you can’t have it both ways. Couples must decide whether “family circumstances” allow for another child. If not, then nothing will do but the “virtuous continence” of NFP.

Getting engaged doesn’t mean signing up for a honeymoon cruise away from the madding crowd of society. As much as Carey and I would like to simply bask in the glories of Catholic marriage, the task in front of us involves a lot of planning for the future—and planning isn’t fun. We can hardly wait to have a child (we’re already arguing and laughing over names!). But Humanae Vitae teaches us to weigh the “economic” and “social conditions” that might keep us from getting what we long for just as soon as we would like. If we shirk this marital responsibility—in defiance to the Church—then there will be a price to pay. And most importantly: we won’t be the only ones to pay it. According to Humanae Vitae, to treat our marriage imprudently would be to fail not just ourselves, but our family, Our Lord, and the common good of society.

From this it follows that they are not free to act as they choose in the service of transmitting life, as if it were wholly up to them to decide what is the right course to follow. On the contrary, they   are bound to ensure that what they do corresponds to the will of God the Creator.

And how are we to determine God’s will? According to Humanae Vitae, we must use the means that God has given us: Reason and free-will.

The self-discipline, will-power and prudence that Ramsey advises are hardly “all the rage” in this generation, and Catholics are not exempt from the cultural influences that downplay “responsible parenthood.” The very same corruption that is leading secular society to ruin has also infected the Catholic subculture. This corruption is characterized by an avoidance of responsibilities, an emphasis on rights, and a belittling of the public virtues taught by the Catholic Church and encouraged by Dave Ramsey. Couples like me and Carey are not only up against an anti-family secular culture, but also a Catholic culture that celebrates our right to have a family while giving us no guidance in the very aspect of our family that the secular world attacks: The duties that family entails.

In fact, we Christians have a pitfall all our own in taking rhetorical recourse to Grace (“God will provide!”), and testing God at the very moments when He may wish to test us. Just as secular hedonism leans heavily on outside forces to supply one’s base desires, so Catholic couples are tempted by this age to “throw caution to the wind,” and to put their families’ welfare in their neighbors’ hands. Catholic authors often promise that this approach allows us more freedom in pursuing the holy vocation to transmit life. But in the end, this promise is a trap. When incautious families fall on hard times, they can lose control of what God entrusts first of all to them and not to WIC and Medicare, or even to their local parishes or parents. We have a duty to give to society a morally upright example that contributes to the common good. We do not have a right to demand material goods from society in order to feed our own imprudence.

There are perhaps wealthy Catholics, or Catholics who live in exceptionally healthy communities, who do not understand what it is to be “poor” in today’s America. I do. I’m familiar with what might be called the “dependent class,” a large group that should be distinguished from the hungry and the homeless. These dependents don’t lack food and warm clothing, roofs over their heads, running water or even healthcare. What they do lack is the dignity and moral character that comes with being free and contributing members of society. As Pope Benedict XVI wrote in Caritas in Veritate, we must respect “personal dignity by recognizing in the person a subject who is always capable of giving something to others.” This respect for the subsidiary duties of the family is a protection against what he called “any all-encompassing welfare state.” When people are relieved of their duties, it is only a matter of time before they are deprived of their rights.

As we approach marriage, Carey and I dread the thought of putting our family in danger of losing its dignity. So we make plans. And Dave Ramsey helps us. He recognizes what is at stake; the welfare, not only of our family, but of society. He also understands that this welfare is not only a material right, but a moral duty. Ramsey is one of the few voices who encourages young Catholic couples to live sober and upright lives, and we believe he should be cherished by Catholics and imitated by catechists.

Stephen Herreid

By

Stephen Herreid is currently a Fellow at the John Jay Institute (Philadelphia) and the arts editor for Humane Pursuits. He has been a Contributing Editor to The Intercollegiate Review Online and has contributed several chapters to the latest edition of ISI’s Choosing the Right College.

  • Deacon Ed Peitler

    You are to be commended for taking Church teaching so seriously. Would that every other engaged couple did the same. Give your brief essay to every couple about to be married in the Catholic Church and my guess is that 95% of them would have no idea what it is you are talking about. If my hunch is correct, it is time for bishops, priest and deacons, as well as all those involved in catechesis around marriage to get busy – especially since in the coming year the USCCB will be focusing on issues pertaining to marriage and the family.

    • Stephen J. Herreid

      Thanks so much, Deacon. I agree. I’d love to see more solid catechetical preparation for couples!

  • Mary

    This is such a good response to the former article. It hits the nail on the head. I know that sometimes Catholic couples who have limited their families because of financial concerns have felt the sting of judgment for not being the family with more children in the pew. Stewardship demands sacrifice from the steward at times. My prayer during my marriage was “Lord give me the children I was meant to bring into this world” I had three children. I lost two as miscarriages. I trust that God answered my prayer. My husband and I were tested, we made mistakes but in the end our hearts were always aimed at trying to do what God would want for us. Is that not the meaning of being a “man of Good Will?” Lord, not my Will but Yours be done…having a large family is sometimes more our Will than God’s Will for us. If God does give the children, than we can trust He will help us provide for them. That is why ‘natural family planning’ is not the same as birth control as many would argue. It is still being open to life and the possibility of conception although the stewardship part of it is that the couple is working within the reasonable paramaters of their means.Sadly, I have heard from Priests that birth control is alright…as has probably every married woman at some point. It is wrong because it is a purposeful choice against the possibilities God may have for us. Natural family planning allows for those possibilities. Priests assume sometimes they understand the married person’s issues but many times they have not thought them through.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    From an older man who once thought as you do, and who chose the wrong path and for whom it will take adoption to grant my son even one sibling: do not take fertility for granted. Even without intentional abuse of contraceptives, tomorrow may be too late.

    You cannot serve both God and material wealth. And 30 years from now, society will benefit far more from having an additional human, plus your debt snowball, with work, will be paid off. NEVER use finances to delay having a family. It is not worth it.

    • Barfly_Kokhba

      You’re often correct, Mr. Seeber, but you knocked it out of the park with this one. Great comment.

      • TheodoreSeeber

        Wish I could go back in time and tell my 18 year old self that. At 43, it’s too late.

        • catlaughter

          It is NEVER too late to share your wisdom, knowledge and acknowlege the mistakes you make. At 65 I’m frequently sharing my story and I know some have benefitted and hope that many more than I know have!! Don’t stop!! God bless.

          • TheodoreSeeber

            I meant my wife and I (she’s only a year younger) are too late. Our borderline fertility, after 10 years of trying since my son was born, seems to be utterly gone.

            • Jamie

              My youngest son was born just before I turned 44 years old. I hadn’t been pregnant in 14 years. We weren’t trying to have a baby or not have a baby. And when God chose the time for us to have a baby we were already grandparents. Today our youngest son is serving in the Navy and our oldest grandson is serving in the Marines.

            • slainte

              My sister was born to my mom when she was 43; my brother when she was 45. Never say never Mr. Seeber. : )

        • musicacre

          43 is young!!!

      • Adam__Baum

        The comment was brief, informed, coherent, relevant.
        It’s too bad more of his comments don’t exhibit those attributes, instead of the normal offering (pulley and rope computers, general economic confusion, neologiss dressed in a doctrinal veneer)

  • Austin

    Of course a budget is important and ditto to your great points. We have taken the Ramsey course; but you should try the Phil Lenahan’s budget advice. He is Catholic.
    Ramsey’s advice is sometimes profoundly uncatholic; like the example I heard on the radio last week when he lectured a man about not giving any more money to his exwife. Ramsey asked no questions of any backstory but harshly said that “ex” meant “ex” and the money should go to a lawyer rather than an ‘ex’.

    • Ellen Birdnow Durnbaugh

      Yes!!! Finally, another Catholic who has heard of Phil Lenahan! I keep telling people about him, all the Catholics seem to be jumping on the Dave Ramsey bandwagon. Phil would NEVER tell you to not have children, and is also very supportive of Catholic education, whereas Dave would probably say that tuition money should go to debt reduction.

  • AcceptingReality

    Great that you and Carey share the desire to live a holy and virtuous life together. That is highly commendable if not highly unusual. Congratulations! And of course you are right embark on your journey with prudence and a sense of responsibility.

    I didn’t think Becker meant to throw the baby out with bath water by implying that Ramsey’s program was overall useless. My impression was that Becker thought, as did I, that Ramsey’s comments suggested the use of contraception and generally undervalued children.

  • Abby

    I’m concerned to see you limit “contribution to society” to financial contribution. Maybe I misunderstood?

    • Miriam McCue

      No you didn’t. He acts like a secularist.

    • Stephen J. Herreid

      Abby: I’m afraid that you have indeed misunderstood. As I stated in the article: “We have a duty to give to society a morally upright example that contributes to the common good.” Insofar as a family does not deal prudently (i.e. morally) with its welfare (money is required here), it fails to contribute a morally upright example. Thanks for your comment and question.

      • Jenny Tomsic Bioche

        Great article Mr. Herreid. It seems these comments above are taken in an all or nothing context which really limits them understanding your point. I love Dave Ramsey and think he’s saving society from future divorces, the value of which is immeasurable.

      • Zeke Balan

        But you miss the point. Given a fertile couple open to life who would raise as many children as God gives them, which is worse: The witness of the couple who’s accepted every child, but lives in debt or the couple that’s limited the size of their family and is out of debt? Put another way, what is the moral value of a life compared to the moral value of financial independence? And where do you draw the line? What is acceptable debt? What is acceptable dignity? Isn’t driving an 20 year-old beat-up hyundai less dignified than driving a new audi? This kind of thinking is exactly why mom and dad are putting their 1 or 2 kids in day care and after-school care so they can both work to provide the nice house, car, vacations, educational opportunities that they rank more valuable than another child – more valuable than their marriage and their God. Or scrap morality for a minute, as the Pope is reminding us, and focus on Christ: What is the commandment – isn’t it in your gut? – that answers and images the love of God in the Gospel?

  • RH

    “When incautious families fall on hard times, they can lose control of what God entrusts first of all to them and not to WIC and Medicare, or even to their local parishes or parents.” This seems to imply that only imprudent people are liable to falling on hard times, when if fact even prudent, hard-working people may find themselves in need of help from family, friends, or government. I’m not sure it’s possible to be financially stable enough that you can be assured of never needing help in the future.

    “We do not have a right to demand material goods from society in order to feed our own imprudence.” No, but we do have the right to demand material goods to feed our CHILDREN. Whether they are hungry as a result of their parents’ imprudence or not, children need to be fed, and if their parents can’t feed them, it is the duty of society–family, friends, community, and government–to feed them.

    Finally, receiving some welfare, or even being completely financially dependent on others, does not necessarily take away your freedom and dignity. There are other ways of contributing to society than paying your own way; by raising healthy, moral children; by volunteering; by prayer; and by any other number of spiritual ways to serve the community. My family works hard, lives cheaply, and still requires food stamps, medicaid, and heating assistance; but that doesn’t mean we’ve lost our dignity and ability to contribute to society.

    • me

      It’s not the duty of the government to feed your children. I’m sorry, but your response is highly contradictory. If you let the government feed your children, how can you claim you’re free? You’re not, sorry to break the news.

      • Miriam McCue

        You belong in the Libertarian party. Your attitude is smug and secularistic, whether u know it or not. REMEMBER I SAID ATTITUDE !

        • Adam__Baum

          And perhaps you belong in the “it takes a village” camp.

        • me

          I’m not a Libertarian, I’m a Conservative. And you and RH seem to be Democrats. Congrats on ruining this country and increasing the welfare state.

          • TheodoreSeeber

            St. Katherine Drexel was a conservative. You’re a Libertarian.

            • me

              And you, sir, are a Democrat.

              • TheodoreSeeber

                Nope, haven’t voted Democrat in my life. Can’t stand them. They put pennies before people also, they’re just more violent about it (euthanasia and abortion).

            • Adam__Baum

              And Theodore is a statist idolater.

              • TheodoreSeeber

                I’m putting forth St. Katherine Drexel, who kept the federal government from wasting tax money on reservations, as an example and you claim I’m a statist?

                Communionist, maybe, but not a statist.

                • Adam__Baum

                  You are font of vaccuous labels that are neither clever nor concealing.

                  • TheodoreSeeber

                    Communionist as in the Eucharist- that I believe the needs of the family, the needs of the Church, and the needs of the State come first.

                    If that’s statist, so was Peter in Acts chapters 4&5

      • RH

        No one is absolutely free and independent, with no need of help. Even if you are independent from earthly help, which I doubt is possible, you still need God’s grace. I don’t think freedom is an ideal to be held above all others; if I have to give up a small portion of my independence in order for my children to be well fed, then so be it. My children are more important.

        • Adam__Baum

          Most people require cooperation, not “help”, despite the inane “you didn’t buld that” claptrap from the liar in chief.

          You aren’t sacrificing your freedom, (you have leisure time and internet access) you are conscripting my income.

          If you aren’t incapacitated and you are conscripting my income to feed your children, you are making me a slave to your failure to make your children “well fed”.

          I note there are these lachrymose PSA’s (commercials) now touting the prevalence and severity of childhood hunger, and they play on the same stations that run PSA’s that tout the prevalence and severity of childhood obesity.

          • RH

            I think people are confusing “freedom” with “independence,” specifically financial independence. You can still be a free, dignified human being with free will and freedom of though, even if you are not completely financially independent.

            My husband works full time and is also in school, and I work part-time and spend the rest of time at home watching the kids, to avoid childcare costs. No cell phones, no cable, one old car that we share. We had to get on food stamps to afford to move to a better neighborhood, as we were living in a dangerous part of the city with our two toddlers. If you object to paying a tiny fraction of your income to help my children be safe from drive-by shootings, well, that sounds a lot like “am I my brothers’ keeper?”

            • Adam__Baum

              Now we know that you aren’t incapacitated or infirm, but incapable.

              You rattle off the things you do without like that’s evidence of grinding poverty. You live better that 99.999% of all people who ever lived. Old car? Try having an old horse.

              You don’t have cable, but you have iinternet service and there’s always hulu, vimeo and youtube. There are people who live without cable because of it’s septic moral effects, it’s not a necessity. A basic cell phone can be had without a contract cheap, if you are willing to discipline yourself.

              Now on to your ungrateful and presumptious comment telling me that I object “paying a “tiny fraction” of my income when you have no idea what fraction I pay in taxes (it’s not tiny) and then I still write checks. That comment is noxious and undignified.

              The truth of the matter is that if you are unable to provide for your kids- then you need to do whatever it takes (including getting off the internet and deferring school, if necessary) and then if you still can’t do that, the first line of defense is your family, then the Church and voluntary aid agencies in my area there’s a food bank (a voluntary association). Of course those people might condition their assistance on you making some changes and it’s so much easier to take rather than ask.
              You aren’t neiher free or independent but have the unmitigated gall to wax poetic on those concepts and lecture others. Freedom and Independence are rights and rights require responsibilities.

              It’s not that we are just providing you with some food stamps to get through a rough patch, but you are also on the dole for healthcare and heating fuel.

              Actually what we are on the dole for is a mirage. that you are a responsible, capable parent.

              • me

                Couldn’t agree more, thanks for the response. “Actually what we are on the dole for is a mirage. that you are a responsible, capable parent.” (2)

                • Adam__Baum

                  Woops, typo. Fixed

              • RH

                I am paying $20/month for internet. I guess I should cancel that, and use that $20 to cover food for 4 people, healthcare for the kids (we don’t have any), and heating. Yup, that would work.

                Other than that, what changes would you suggest I make? My husband is in school to be a certified special ed teacher, which will enable him to contribute positively to society and also make a better income, so that hopefully we can be more self-sufficient. But yeah, I guess we could scrap that too.

                • RH

                  I didn’t mean to complain about my poverty so much as to say that we are living in a pretty thrifty manner, and I’m not sure what you would like me to do as an alternative to taking government aid.

                  • Adam__Baum

                    “what you would like me to do as an alternative to taking government aid.”

                    Read what I wrote in the first response, I’m not changing it because you find it unpalatable. There are people that need a reality shot between the eyes and that “brother’s keeper” comment tells me you are one of them.

                    • TheodoreSeeber

                      You are your brother’s keeper. You WILL be judged for such an attitude. Matthew Chapter 25.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      I have brothers that need keeping. I’d rather direct my resources to the aged and infirm in my family, rather than perfectly capable strangers who insist that “woe is me”, now gimme some.

                      You will be judged for your statist idolatry, your purposeful ignorance and lack of discretion.

                      2 Thessalonians 3:10

                    • TheodoreSeeber

                      Oh, I’m no statist- in fact, I think the state should be subservient to the Church, remember? And that government and markets don’t scale beyond three levels of friendship?

                    • Adam__Baum

                      You are a statist, no matter what you fancy yourself to be.
                      I really have no time to dignify your economic fantasies with a response. You have constructed an elaborate fantasy that you are the great prophet of a new “Catholic order”, even though these novelties are products of ignorance and paranoia, with an occasional misapplication of Doctrine for verisimilitude.

                    • TheodoreSeeber

                      Describing what is, is not equal to describing what I want it to be. I think you’re getting confused between the two.

                      I’m an anti-individualist, if that’s what you mean. I believe the needs of the family, the church, the community are all superior to the needs of the individual. If you want to call that a statist, then Peter in Acts chapters 4 & 5 was a statist.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      I’m not confused, you are. First, duties have priorities-family first. Second, Peter never said that paying taxes to the administrative superstate discharged that charity.

                      I will refer you again to Thessalonians.

                  • slainte

                    If you have children, you are not poor; you are blessed. You are doubly blessed because your family is intact.
                    Hopefully your economic situation wll improve in short order and you will be in a better place. Chin up; you have the prayers of many.

                • Adam__Baum

                  Twenty, here, twenty there, pretty soon you are talking real money.

                  • me

                    Twenty bucks buy around 10 loaves of bread where I live.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      Forty pounds of bananas, a coupler of big bags of Quinoa (complete protein) and a lot of healthy staples from a warehouse store as well.

              • RH

                I’m sure you pay a lot in taxes, but I”m also pretty sure that only a small fraction of that goes to people like me. I know that the government spends your money on a lot of awful things, but I don’t think feeding children is one of them.

                • Adam__Baum

                  Your children are your responsibility, first. You are not incapacitated or infirm. Now do your job, and stop telling us we have a duty to do your job.

                  • Mr. X

                    Listen to the Church. You do have a duty. Then check the facts. Pennies of your tax dollar actually goes to feeding the poor. Adam, you are failing the poor. You should do better, and not harass a young mother. Where is your charity right now?

                    • Adam__Baum

                      And you harass me. We’re even.

              • TheodoreSeeber

                Charity is a duty, not an option. Either you value people more than money or you don’t.

                I’d much rather have no freedom, and no independence than be an anti-human libertarian.

                • me

                  There’s a difference between private charity and government dole. In one you’re free to give, in the other you’re obliged to. No merit in government “charity”.

                  • TheodoreSeeber

                    And if enough people did, we wouldn’t need the government “charity”, now would we?

                    • me

                      It’s the opposite. If the government didn’t meddle into private business, people would donate more. Can you see now what’s happening with Catholic charities and adoption centers? Government is meddling into their business, and they are going OUT OF BUSINESS. That’s what happens when the Leviathan gets into things.

                      Now, it does meddles into business because it wants the recipients of dole to be grateful into perpetuity, and guess what, keep voting for them. That’s Obamacare, that’s Medicaid, that’s Medicare, that’s food stamps. Nobody has the political courage to decrease those benefits because people like our reader here won’t vote for them, ‘cuz she won’t get the dole. And she claims to be free… Free as a slave.

                    • Mr. X

                      So because of government, you can shirk your duty to the poor? More anti-life nonsense from the conservatives.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      Survey after survey shows conservatives to be more generous than liberals.

                      So, exactly how has the administrative superstate helped the poor?

                      Are you referring to the help provided by such benevolent organizations as the IRS, HHS, NSA, DHS, EPA and all those other “charities”.

                      Stupid, stupid, statist.

                    • TheodoreSeeber

                      Government got the opening to meddle into private business, because during the 1890s and 1930s, people *stopped* donating to the point of letting the crops rot in the fields rather than letting gleaners harvest what could not be sold.

                      And Government has been meddling in business since the bimetal standard of 1873 restricted the money supply and brought business under the total control of government.

                      You own nothing. The government owns everything, thanks to having a monopoly on the money supply. Your use of money as store of wealth is no different than her use of food stamps. You’re both slaves of the government. And a slaveholder has a responsibility to keep his slaves alive and happy enough not to revolt.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      There might be more real charity if there was less of the counterfeit kind. But then again, there’s never been any politicians stoking the fires of envy and none “let a good crisis go to waste”.

                      Yesterday, I received an appeal from a charity which provides corrective surgery for children born with a cleft palate. It would be nice if I could give what I wanted to, rather than what I can.
                      RH can change her circumstances, these kids cannot.

                    • TheodoreSeeber

                      The last time I said that, somebody reminded me of the Widow’s Mite. Our duty isn’t to what we can, it is to what we must.

                      And RH is trying to change her circumstances- that’s why her husband is in school.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      “RH is trying to change her circumstances”

                      Who isn’t?

                      When I look to give charity, I look first among the smallest, the weakest, the infirm or incapacitated, the forgotten (try visiiting a nursing home for that) and those who have no means or are afflicted by sudden and unpredictable catastrophes. Hint: that doesn’t mean idiots that buy beachfront property on Hatteras.
                      RH and her husband have two incomes, are apparently young and vigorous enough to have small children.

                      I don’t have a choice, because she doesn’t ask, she takes and obstructs my right to exercise prudence in, and the execution of my charitable endeavors to those who are in far worse circumstances. and limits my ability to assist those with superior claims, such as my aging parents.

                    • TheodoreSeeber

                      You claimed that RH wasn’t trying to change her circumstances.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      Talk is cheap.

                    • AB

                      Perhaps, you might cancel your own internet access, and live on smaller means. That would help you with your lack of money for your chosen charities.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      You first.

                    • musicacre

                      The government has slowly but very surely made it increasingly impossible for charities to run: with excessive red-tape, focus on scandals, (but not in proportion to similar ones in the secular world) and finally, taking away charitable status. The latest shocking attacks on healthcare institutions are just the final nail in the coffin. Societies in Western society absolutely flourished with the charitable system since the middle ages- monasteries. Used to be a time in Europe when there was one on every street corner, practically. There were something like 60,000 in the heyday, (in Europe) and they took care of the poor. People now expect “charity ” to come straight from the government.

                    • me

                      It’s a win-win situation for both the government and the poor. You see, when they depended on their neighbors to get by the thing was personal: people would check on them, help them find jobs, etc, so they could be independent again. It was supposed to be a temporary help. Now, when people depend on the government, it’s not personal, it’s easy to just get the money every month, there’s nobody making any “pressure” on you. It’s never ending help. And the *only* thing the government asks you is to keep voting for them… So they get the vote and you get the dole, no questions asked. Win-win.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      It is a win for the ruling class parasites, it is a phyrric victory for the poor, who trade their minds, hearts and souls for the castle walls that protect them from a new class of marauders, the king’s phantoms.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      It is a necessary strategy of statism to destroy any mediating institution between the individual and the cold cruel world. That’s why they attack the family and the Church and voluntary associations.

                      It’s a simple process of eliminating alternatives that too many statists simply refuse to grasp.

                      You can serve any refuse to a man as food, if he’s hungry enough.

                • Adam__Baum

                  Charity is voluntary and recipients have a duty to become givers just like the rest of us.

                  • TheodoreSeeber

                    Yes, they do, if they survive the winter.

                    • Colby

                      Exactly.

                  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                    “Charity is voluntary”

                    That has never been the case under Christian governments.

                    Ever since Charlemagne’s ordinance of 778-779 and his capitulars of 789 and 800, the civil law superseded any merely spiritual admonitions as to the payment of tithes. Their payment was no
                    longer a religious duty alone; it was a legal obligation, enforceable by the laws of the civil head of Christendom.

                    So it remained, throughout Christendom, for the next thousand years.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      When it’s not voluntary, it’s not charity. Did you miss the part where Christ allowed the man to walk away?
                      I pity the man who entered eternity telling the Almighty, “I paid the King’s toll”.

                    • slainte

                      FYI, consistent with MPS’ assertions, at least one country in Europe, Germany, continues to collect a “Church Tax” due the Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in Germany. It is not clear, however, whether this church tax constitutes a biblical tithe.

                      “….All Germans who are officially registered as Catholics, Protestants or Jews pay a religious tax of 8-9% on their annual income tax bill. The levy was introduced in the 19th Century in compensation for the nationalisation of religious
                      property….”

                      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-19699581

                      “…in Germany the Catholic Church has another role, a financially important one. It is a public corporation, and it has the state collect its membership dues, generally known as “church tax”. It was this public corporation that Hartmut Zapp wanted to leave, believing that, according to Church doctrine, he could still remain a Catholic. He argued that he couldn’t be excommunicated, because he had no doctrinal doubts and he was loyal to the Pope. He only had doubts about the Catholic Church as a German public corporation.

                      With their €5 million euro church tax under threat, the German bishops replied that payment was compulsory for all Catholics. To Zapp they appeared to be arguing that the Church as the Body of Christ was inseparable from the Church as a German public corporation, a position which he could not accept: “It disturbs me that a member of the Church of Christ loses his salvation as a result of a declaration before a government agency”….”

                      http://www.concordatwatch.eu/showkb.php?kb_id=35601

                    • Adam__Baum

                      I recently learned of that, and the etiology of that tax, apparently politics makes for strange bedfellows, no matter if one is religious or not.
                      Of course the real question is if you were a dying citizen of Germany, would you be striding into the herafter confident of having fulfilled your duty if that was your credential.
                      I would answer in the negative, I don’t think taxes, no matter how used ever discharge your duty of charity. THe word “charity” comes from the Latin “caritas” and I’ve yet to see a person who said, paying taxes is love, so I’ll skip out on deductions or credits I’m entitled to take.

                    • Slainte

                      I agree; giving must be consensual and rooted in love of God or of one’s neighbor or both.

                      I wonder whether the head count of Catholics in Germany is based on the number of people who check Catholic on the tax returns? If so, the official number of Catholics may be under -reported.

                    • slainte

                      You wrote “…..the civil law superseded any merely spiritual admonitions as to the payment of tithes. Their payment was no
                      longer a religious duty alone; it was a legal obligation, enforceable by the laws of the civil head of Christendom…”

                      Caesar’s revenue collection laws do not supercede God’s claim to First Fruits even when the forced “taking” is made by a Caesar claiming authority from Christendom.

                      Matthew 22:20-22

                      20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?
                      21 They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.

                      Oppressive tax schemes divide and destroy families by forcing both parents to work outside the home to replace funds lost to taxation. These tax schemes similarly factor into familial decisions to postpone or forego having more children which many believe they cannot afford. Does this really resonate with you as something from or of God?
                      Catholic bishops who continue to lobby for and utilize the fruits of oppressive tax schemes for social justice initiatives are engaged in a profound dis-service and yes, injustice, to God’s people. These bishops unintentionally impair our personal obligation to consensually perform works of mercy for our neighbors in need. Our salvation depends on God’s grace and our works.

                    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                      Slainté

                      Charlemagne’s capitular of 800, making the payment of tithe universal throughout the Frankish dominions was welcomed by Pope Leo III and the Roman clergy with cries of “Life and victory to our Emperor, crowned by God!” In 829, Pope Gregory IV obtained from the Emperor Louis the Pious (and from Lothair for Lombardy) the remedy of distraint for non-payment; a form of diligence previously only available to the Fisc. It would be tedious to recount all the Pontifical, as well as Imperial, legislation by which payment of teind, oblations, obventions, stole-fees and other dues was compelled. It is fanciful to suggest that such payments were ever treated as voluntary, as long as the secular arm was prepared to enforce them.

                    • me

                      I wonder if in the Frankish dominions the State would use our taxes to fund Planned Parenthood abortions, with the blessings of the Bishop of Rome. Why compare apple to bananas? Those were other times. Government is evil.

                    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                      me (guest)

                      The capitulars all provide for the teind to be “dispensed according to the bishop’s commandment.”

                      In many cases, they were paid to religious houses, who expended them on charity and hospitality. Thus, in Scotland, at the time of the Reformation (1560) (I happen to have the figures to hand) of the 924 parishes, the teind was payable to the parish priest in 262 of them and to religious houses in the remaining 662. About a quarter went to the four great Border abbeys of Kelso, Jedburgh, Melrose and Dryburgh. Their combined revenues exceeded the King’s

                    • slainte

                      Contemporary global governments have fully devolved from
                      Christendom; and any role they may have historically played as moral agents collecting tithes due the Church has concluded.

                      The biblical injunction for Catholics to render unto God First Fruits remains constant, and, when realized through voluntary giving, could provide a source of funding which would enable local parishes to assist its needy parishioners and others in lieu of a faceless and distant governmental bureaucracy. Mr. Seeber rightly concludes that compassion and a personal touch is absent from the latter.

                      In his article “Papal Teaching Warns Against Excessive
                      Government” (Sept 30, 2013, Crisis Magazine), Stephen M. Krason notes that, “…Catholic social teaching holds that the securing of the common good is a main task of the state, it nowhere says that this means that legislation or enacting a new public policy or program is the singular way to do this..”

                      He further notes that, “…in social democracies…..excessive taxation on the productive element of their populations have long since surpassed the level that Rerum Novarum would have
                      considered immoral since it is essentially an infringement on the right of private property (#35).”

                      http://www.crisismagazine.com/2013/papal-teaching-warns-

                      Taxation is an issue with significant Moral dimensions, which, when abused, historically has deprived citizens of life, liberty, and property. Bishops take note when you lobby for these funds in the name of the Common Good.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      Did Charlemagne order the payment to the Church or to his own massive bureaucracy? You leave out important details when you reach into antiquity to support your statist idolatry.

                    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                      Neither. The teind-owner had to draw his teind on the ground of the land, after the teind-payer had given him notice that it had been reaped. In practice, religious houses, whose teind lands might be scattered all over the country, usually, leased them to powerful barons, with the men-at-arms to collect them. These might be royal officers, the count or the sheriff. Compositions from a later period suggest the average cost of collection was about 20%

                    • Adam__Baum

                      We don’t have teinds or Sheriffs. Apply this to contemporary governance and the adminstrative superstate.

                    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                      I covered this in my original remarks.

                      No Christian state, for a thousand years, from Charlemagne’s ordinance of 778-779 to the abolition of the dîme by the National Assembly in 1789 treated payment for the support of the Church’s charitable activities as voluntary. As I said, “spiritual admonitions were superseded by civil law.” The clergy, so far from objecting, welcomed it and the laity, for the most part, acquiesced.

                    • musicacre

                      The time-period you were quoting from was 1560, and Scotland was well on its way to being Protestant. They didn’t mind collecting the money you claim, well you have to take into account also, the intense political activities going on at the time (spreading heresy as fast as possible), and the radically different way Catholic Churches operated. Read Hilaire Belloc’s The Crisis of Civilization to get some perspective on how the world (West) fared economically under the Catholic system,and how that compared with Calvin’s political and economic policies. An truly enlightening read!

                      Since we’re all being wordy, let me quote a relevant part. (description on back of book)
                      ” …he (Belloc) shows the Reformation’s evil results in the economic sphere, through the dissolving of Catholic restraints on usury and unbridled competition. He states that, ” Calvin opened the door to the domination of the mind by money.” (P. 116) thus the Protestant Reformation has led to our present disastrous economic situation, where there are, on the one hand, a few wealthy men, and on the other, multitudes of “wage slaves” who have neither a secure “status” nor a place in society nor any property-except their labor- upon which to rely for their daily bread. He shows how this situation contrasts sharply with that of the Middle Ages, where security of status, with a sufficiency of material goods, was the rule, which thus supported the Catholic goal of frugal comfort in this world and salvation in the next- as opposed to the Calvinist ideal of acquiring material wealth, even at the expense and welfare of one’s neighbor.

                    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                      Bossuet (1627-1704) points out that Calvin and Beza were the first theologians to defend usury. [Histoire des variations des Églises protestantes (1688)] An instructive work, sadly neglected.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      “The clergy, so far from objecting, welcomed it ”
                      May God have mercy on their souls.

                    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                      “The clergy, so far from objecting, welcomed it ”

                      “Karolo Augusto a Deo coronato magno et pacifico imperatori vita et victoria” [Life and victory to the august Charles, crowned by God, great and pacific emperor] were Pope Leo III’s words.

                      Henceforward the political and religious unity of the world was, at least in theory, an accomplished fact. The Holy Roman Church and the Holy Roman Empire were but two aspects of one idea. The spiritual aspect of the Visible Church was represented by the Pope, the political by the Emperor. It was an attractive idea which rules all mediaeval history, and for a time it was not only a metaphysical conception, but a fact. Henceforth, too, the rights of the Church were rights which the world would enforce.

                      Contemporaries appealed to the notion of the two swords: “They [the disciples] said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.” “It is enough,” He replied” (Luke 22:38)

                    • Art Deco

                      I tend to doubt you would find too many early Medieval monarchs with ‘massive bureaucracies’.

                      There was an article in History Today a while back on the Crown during the Restoration in England (1660-88). The Crown officialdom in the capital numbered perhaps 600. The population of the territories ruled by the Stuart monarchs was about 6,000,000 at that time.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      Interesting, there is something like 2.7 MILLION federal employees.

                  • Colby

                    I think that too many people mistake charity for justice. Justice is giving someone his due, and it is the obligation of the employer to provide a living wage. Too many of them don’t (while at the same time receiving corporate subsidies.) Is it any surprise that employees turn to food stamps, especially when working a series of minimum wage jobs still isn’t enough to stay afloat? Something has to give. Please don’t say they should be happy to be making a wage at all. Perhaps the government could start by rewriting the laws in favor of the employee.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      Ok, tell me what a living wage is. All I ever hear is “more”. from people who never had to meet a payroll.

                      The government can pass all the laws it wants mandating wages, but if it prices them too high it goes for naught, because they are insisting on somebody else paying them and that mandate can cause all kinds of changes, fewer employers, shorter hours, lesser benefits, etc. You can subsitute technology or just not hiire at all.

                      Until the present regime took office, I have yet to have met even a half way serviceable employee that stayed making minimum wage jobs for long.

                      On the other hand, I’ve seen plenty of people languish in jobs because they have issues with attendance, performance and attitude.

                      You need something of a more mature and informed perspective on why people are employed, and how they get ahead. Complaining is sure way to a dead end. If you don’t have anything to offer but this kind of ignorance and indignity, please don’t say or write anything.

                      Of course, I realize you are a paid shill, paid to spead ignorance.

          • TheodoreSeeber

            Then you shouldn’t rely on the charity of the government printing your money for your income.

            • Adam__Baum

              Theodore, if you don’t have something coherent, informed and relevant to say, practice the virtue of silence.

              • TheodoreSeeber

                I’m just saying that every business in the country gets help from the government. Why shouldn’t a few individuals?

                The government regulates your money supply so that your prices can be relatively stable. The government guarantees your contracts, and pays for massive police, courts, and armed forces to protect said contracts. There’s an awful lot the government does- and you worry about food stamps, which is about 12 cents on every dollar you pay in taxes? What about the rest of the stuff the government wastes your money on, like foreign wars of aggression?

                • Adam__Baum

                  No, not “every business” gets help from the government, only the ones that are big enough to bid on favors. That you don’t understand that isn’t surprising.
                  The government doesn’t regulate the money suppy, a private organization with a government charter exists to do that, but in the in the interest of “the common good”, it is doing things that are at odds with stable prices.
                  Courts and the constabulary are examples of “public goods”, those things that are nonrivalrous and nonexcludible.
                  Food stamps and other aid has not provided for the poor, it has created feudal subjects, created a dependent class and divided the people against each other so the state can pursue a variety of wars of aggression,some of which are conducted here. Of course a pliable people will countenance anything as long as their pittance is provided

                  • TheodoreSeeber

                    Does your business use a stable money supply? If so, it’s getting help from the government.

                    The FED is entirely owned by the government- it isn’t just a government charter, the Treasury Department owns all the bonds the FED issues, the Treasury department regulates the FED. Before the FED, before the government takeover of the money supply in 1873, prices were anything but stable.

                    If a business was to have no help *at all* from the government, they shouldn’t be using any public goods *at all*- including the courts and constabulary.

                    And your business is as much a recipient of welfare as the rest of the feudal subjects- of which I completely agree is what citizens of the United States have become. They were in fact, since 1796, never anything else.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      Nothing you wrote is true, but its beyond my poor powers to relieve you of the idea that you have some understanding of fiscal matters. As you wrote, at 43, it’s too late.
                      Maybe at 68, you’ll look at 43, the way you look now at 18 now. I doubt it, because your are walled up in a fortess of ignorance and armed to the teeth with fury.
                      So, I’m just going to take one assertion. The Treasury regulates the Fed. Nonsense.
                      The FRB is not accountable to the SecTreas, nor to anyone else. They operate autonomously, without an audit or independent review. There’s no mechanism to supercede Fed decisions or to remove members for infidelity or error.

                    • TheodoreSeeber

                      I didn’t say the Treasury regulates the FED. I said the Treasury OWNS the FED. As in, the Treasury is who profits from the FED’s activities.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      “I didn’t say the Treasury regulates the FED.”

                      Yes you did.
                      ” the Treasury department regulates the FED. ”

                      You wrote this above. Read your own words before denying them.

                    • musicacre

                      That’s a surprising thing to hear; I am Canadian and even I know that the “Fed” is private. It’s basically a private bank with rights, for all intents and purposes. They got their charter voted with a record small number near the turn of the century…just past 1900…during a Christmas recess when most of the politicians had gone home for the holidays! They have had control of the money ever since! In Canada, it is the Government which prints money, etc. Perhaps you have the two countries confused!:)

                    • TheodoreSeeber

                      It is “private”, but all shares are owned by the US Treasury department. You can’t buy shares in the FED.

                    • Adam__Baum
      • TheodoreSeeber

        It is the duty of every member, of every society, towards charity. That includes the government, but it also involves us. If everybody lived like St. Katherine Drexel instead of William Buffet, perhaps we wouldn’t need the government to step in at all.

        • Adam__Baum

          The government is us. It produces nothing, it can only disburse what it takes..

          • TheodoreSeeber

            It produces money to begin with. Look at a dollar bill in your wallet- is your name on it having printed it?

            • Adam__Baum

              And it’s inscribed the same way in your pocket. Obviously this makes all of us claimants on everybody elses. I need money to contribute to RH’s upkeep, so give me yours.

              • TheodoreSeeber

                I do- the same way you do, through taxes, which are really rent on the money we use as legal tender.

                • Adam__Baum

                  No, interest is “rent” on money. Taxes are what we pay to keep wolves in sheep’s clothing at bay.

                  • TheodoreSeeber

                    Taxes are just interest paid to the government.

                    • me

                      Interest is money paid regularly at a particular rate for the repayment of a debt. Tax is a compulsory contribution to state revenue, levied by the government on workers’ income and business profits or added to the cost of some goods, services, and transactions. Is clear the difference?

                    • TheodoreSeeber

                      No, not Is clear the difference, when the money itself is a debt instrument. The FED doesn’t give money to the banks- they LEND it. Money isn’t given to the people for use in business, it’s LENT, and taxes are the interest and fees on that lending- the cost of having a government-as-a-bank economic system.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      Babble isn’t commentary. Either read up or shut up.

                    • Art Deco

                      Agreed.

          • Michael Paterson-Seymour

            The state “takes” nothing. It administers what it already has, through the Social Contract by which it is constituted.

            The Social Contract means that “Each of us puts his person and all his power in common under the supreme direction of the general will, and, in our corporate capacity, we receive each member as an indivisible part of the whole.”

            As Rousseau explains, “Each man alienates, I admit, by the social compact, only such part of his powers, goods and liberty as it is important for the community to control; but it must also be granted that the Sovereign [the People] is sole judge of what is important.”

            • Adam__Baum

              “The state “takes” nothing. It administers what it already has, through the Social Contract by which it is constituted.”

              Well then, I’ll just skip filing my taxes next, oh never mind they already took my money, my 1040 results in a “refund” .

              You have to be be at serious war with reality to pen that military grade lunacy, and a statist idiolater or some other factotem of the leviathan to assume that the state should have a prior and total claim on the productive efforts of the people, especially after closing your effete response with a contradictory quote.

              The “general will” is a fantasy, because it is a construct, no a phantasm. The general will is an imposition, no a veneer of legitimacy on the actions of politicians. It is nebulous and indiscrete, able to service autocracy and representative government because it is a formless void.

              As an aside, I care not a wit about Rousseau. He a was a celebrity gadfly in his day, with no accomplishment aoutside
              Paul Johnson profiled him quite well enough for in “Intellectuals” me to know that he was one of those annoying, parasitic muses that bedevils humanity.

              Robert Nisbet gives an even more devastating critique, that Rousseau was the haidmaiden of totalitarianism.

              http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/2125667?uid=3739936&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21103020059093

              Of course, I await Theodore telling you Rousseau was a Protestant.

              • me

                He’s a communist, he just happens to write he’s a “communionist”. I guess it’s kind of stupid to argue with those people who think we ought to work for the good of the state like he wrote somewhere here.

                • Adam__Baum

                  The argument isn’t with Theodore, he’s an intellectual mess of fantasies, paranoia and disorder. He mistakes compulsive ferocity for righteous rectitude, contentiousness for correction and eccentricity for insight. Then he proceeds to write with abandon.
                  The argument is for the uninformed person who might happen across his innumerable neologisms and think that are doctrines and not just delusions.

                  • musicacre

                    It’s possible to refute him without getting so personal!

                    • Adam__Baum

                      Have you read this guy? I get tired of being called “libertarian”, “mason”, accused of consorting with Protestants, etc, because I don’t agree with Pope Theodore that the state can be conformed to God. Perhaps you should tell him about how it’s working in Canada, where Pastors have to censor themselves for fear of being hauled in front of the CHRC.
                      It explodes his myth that the locus of evil was Jefferson.
                      We all have faults, mine is not suffering foolishness gladly.
                      Perhaps you can deal with him in a manner you prefer. I only ask that you do it frequently, because he’s indefatigable in propagating his heresies.

                    • musicacre

                      OK…..I just noticed things heating up; it’s always good to wrestle with ideas and share truth, as humbly as possible I guess. It’s 10 AM here and morning coffee over, got to get back to homeschooling!

              • me

                Then you know what, I want to read in some other articles if those “communionists” come here complaining about the meddling of the Leviathan in things such as Common Core et al. I hope they are at least coherent in their ideas.

              • me

                Rousseau was that “good” man who abandoned his own kids in order to care for the good of mankind. I dread such people.

                • Adam__Baum

                  Johnson makes that point about all of those celebrity philosophers. Boundless compassion for impersonal masses, brutal misanthropy for the people in their lives.

                  Marx impregnated his housemaid, then forced her to engage in infanticide. No wonder the left is so dedicated to infanticide.

              • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                It was the Catholic historian, Hilaire Belloc, who best described Rousseau’s Social Contract: “What English readers rarely hear is that the triumph of Rousseau depended not only on the first element in persuasion, which is vision, but also upon the second of the two co-related instruments by which a man may influence his fellows—to wit, style. It was his choice of French words and the order in which he arranged them, that gave him his enormous ascendancy over the generation which was young when he was old… .Now it is not too much to say that never in the history of political theory has a political theory been put forward so lucidly, so convincingly, so tersely or so accurately as in this short and wonderful book… Rousseau’s hundred pages are the direct source of the theory of the modern State; their lucidity and unmatched economy of diction; their rigid analysis, their epigrammatic judgment and wisdom—these are the reservoirs from whence modern democracy has flowed; what are now proved to be the errors of democracy are errors against which the Contrat Social warned men; the moral apology of democracy is the moral apology written by Rousseau.”

                • Adam__Baum

                  “Rousseau’s hundred pages are the direct source of the theory of the modern State.”

                  Then the blood of hundreds of millions whether in Auschwitz, the Ukraine or Kermit Gosnell’s butcher shop are on his hands.

                • slainte

                  Why no recognition of Blessed Cardinal Bellarmine (1542-1621) who envisioned a “Social Contract” some two hundred years before Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)?
                  Rousseu’s Enlightenment era rejection of God in favor of subordination to the General WIll inevitably results in tyranny. Locke is more closely aligned with Bellarmine.
                  “The American Declaration, like the political doctrine of Cardinal Bellarmine, declared political power as coming, in the first instance, from God, but as vested in a particular ruler by consent of the multitude or the people as a political body. The social-contract or compact theories sought the source of political power in an assumed social contract or compact by which individual rights contributed or yielded their individual rights to create a public right. Contracts of individuals can create individual rights only, not public or political rights. According to the American Declaration and Cardinal Bellarmine, government implies powers which never belonged to the individual and which, consequently, he could never have conferred upon society. The individual surrenders no authority. Sovereignty receives nothing from him. Government maintains its full dignity, it is of Divine origin, but vested in one or several individuals by popular consent.”

                  Catholic Sources and the Declaration of Independence, Democracy not a “child of the Reformation”, Rev. John C. Rager, S.T.D. http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/politics/pg0003.html.

            • Art Deco

              No.

              1. The state – society relationship is in part one of exchange of cash for services. You pay taxes and receive the services of the military, the police force, the fire department, the public works agency, city garbage collectors, &c. The main difference is that the exchange is compelled and the utility of some of the services to the custom is quite questionable.

              2. It is also one of redistributing resources from one party to another. This can be manifest, as it is with cash transfers like Social Security and unemployment compensation, or with scrip distributions (Food Stamps, housing vouchers). It can also be concealed, as with overstaffing public agencies or paying their employees above-market compensation.

              • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                “If the state is confused with civil society, and if its specific end is laid down as the security and protection of property and personal freedom, then the interest of the individuals as such becomes the ultimate end of their association, and it follows that membership of the state is something optional. But the state’s relation to the individual is quite different from this. Since the state is mind objectified, it is only as one of its members that the individual himself has objectivity, genuine individuality, and an ethical life. Unification pure and simple is the true content and aim of the individual, and the individual’s destiny is the living of a universal life. His further particular satisfaction, activity and mode of conduct have this substantive and universally valid life as their starting point and their result.” G W Hegel, “Philosophy of Right” 258

                Yves Simon agrees: “The highest activity/being in the natural order is free arrangement of men about what is good brought together in an actual polity where it is no longer a mere abstraction.”

                • Adam__Baum

                  Oh you do love the totalitarian thinkers, don’t you?

    • Adam__Baum

      If there is authentic need, there is authentic need, but volunteering is not a substitute for adequate employment, or the search for it.

      • TheodoreSeeber

        adequate employment is not always available.

        • Adam__Baum

          Especially when people don’t look for it. You have to bring more to the interview that “argues the merits of rope and pulley computers on crisismagazine.com”.

          • TheodoreSeeber

            Look for it all you want, doesn’t change the fact that the labor utilization rate in the United States is now down to 42%.

            • Adam__Baum

              The labor PARTICIPATION rate is 60%, (labor utilzation rate is a cost accounting term, not a published macroeconomic statistic)
              It’s way to low, the result of an intervionist government and proof that you can’t even cite a statistic accurately.

              http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS11300000

              • TheodoreSeeber

                Yes, the labor participation rate is around 60%. Subtract U6 unemployment from that, and you’ll get 40%.

                And yes, that’s way too low.

                • Adam__Baum

                  U6 is a subset of those who are counted as not working.

                  You might engage in that kind of double counting, but it’s still your personal contrivance that is errant and meaningless. A statistic is only useful if it’s valid.

                  If you think you are getting the last word, you might, but only when I’ve decided you’ve impeached yourself sufficiently.

    • Adam__Baum

      You should have revealed that you are related to the author.

  • Michael Newhouse

    I like your principled stand, but think it is overstated. I don’t know of any Catholic couple producing children willy-nilly and relying on public support to care for them. Perhaps this happens with some poor Catholics. I do not know. But you are not poor. Not by a long shot. To claim so is a deep insult to those who are truly poor.
    What I do see is a default among young educated Catholic couples of “waiting until we can afford children” which is a moving target and an excuse to sidestep the obligation to be joyfully open to life.
    It is dangerous to convert children into little bundles of financial liability. To do so even a little bit is to already be on the wrong path and in the wrong mindset.

  • patricia m.

    Excellent! Thanks for writing this! Couldn’t agree more.

  • Adam__Baum

    If this essay was meant to be provocative, it hits the mark. Instead, it sounds a lot like an old episode of “All in the Family”, where Mike (“Meathead”) yammers on about all the reasons NOT to have children, but this is all wrapped in a pretty bow with a lot of imposing, but misapplied references to Papal Encyclicals, rather than Malthusianism.

    This essay is less a defense of Ramsey, and more an indictment of the author’s apparent unreadiness to enter marriage. As is the case with a lot of defective reasoning, it begins bad assumptions.

    First, since the author and his fiance are not yet married, the have no “family finances” to be in “disarray”. Instead it does sound like it that they are contemplating entering marriage without sufficient resources to bear the costs, or perhaps as is very common with prior claims (usually from those massive student loans that support the academy these days). One of those costs, is the willing acceptance of children that might result from that union. Yes, a certain amount of planning is a necessity, but life can’t be held hostage to it. Are we to believe there’s so little “slack” in the prospective couples’ finances that one tiny mouth is going to require WIC?

    What ever the utility and limits of planning, it should be undertaken BEFORE marriage, not after. The author discusses planing, but provides no specifics, which is in part why he thinks “..planning isn’t fun.” and buttresses his argument with nebulous references to Encyclicals that were meant to assist married couples dealing with economic misfortune incurred after the union, not to allow couples to marry without adequate knowledge.

    Plans, despite all pretenses to the contrary, plans are speculations about a future that may or may not have a resemblance to what you imagine it to be. If you can’t conceive of conceiving on your “honeymoon cruise”, you simply aren’t ready to marry.

    “We can hardly wait to have a child (we’re already arguing and laughing over names!).” is “playing house”, not engaging in serious premarital preparation.

    Then again there are other costs being imposed on society, Trevor. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=icmRCixQrx8

  • opal

    It is possible to do both. But those choices must be made before marriage and before college even. We have 8 children and no debt. Money in the bank and pay for everything in cash. But that is entirely because I had no debt upon the day we were married. My school loans were paid off the day before. I walked into marriage with assets and so did my husband. All of our choices post marriage were careful and planned and deliberate. No debt. Buying cash only. Not getting frivolous items, not taking vacations, no cell phones, no eating out. We are constantly amazed at those friends and family around us who are in debt but have Ipads, iphones and go out to eat on a “date” once a month. We have no debt but no darn well that we can’t afford that.

  • Mark

    My advice, for what it’s worth: Don’t get married until you can live on one income. And don’t get married until you’re immediately open to having a child. Circumstances may arise where you may need to delay having an additional child and then you can practice NFP if needed. Going in to marriage and planning to practice NFP from the start (if that’s indeed what you plan to do) doesn’t sound like a good idea to me. Living beneath your means is a very good habit to practice, but to completely avoid all debt (like a mortgage) and subsisting on bread and water isn’t necessary to be considered a financially virtuous family. If you’re generous with God in accepting children he will not be outdone in repaying that generosity. Both spiritually and materially.

    • Adam__Baum

      “planning to practice NFP from the start (if that’s indeed what you plan to do) doesn’t sound like a good idea to me.”

      No, because it is using licit means to accomplish an illicit outcome.

      The end doesn’t justify the means and the means don’t justify the end.

      NFP isn’t “Catholic” birth control anymore than a declaration of nullity is a “Catholic” divorce.

    • musicacre

      This is exactly the advice I give my kids; none are married yet, but one is close….wait until you can live off one income, and be open to children. You’re right absolutely; God cannot be outdone in generosity. For us some 29 years ago that meant 800.00 per month, because we knew we could live in a very frugal (practical) manner. Waiting til you live on one income doesn’t mean it has to be an executive salary! We continued to trust in God and we knew our parents were praying for us. Many unexpected things happen in a lifetime that cannot possibly be planned for, (good and bad) but I can only say I would do it all over again in the same way, but not limit our family to the 6 we had. I think reading Chesterton before getting married should be mandatory; he gives you an idea that being Catholic is an adventure and to not be fearful of complications in life, but welcome them as challenges and points of growth. To not crave security and give in to the sickness of society’s material idea that everything and everyone must be planned.

      • Adam__Baum

        Oh come now, readiness for children means having disposable means after planning for a weekly date night, a 50 inch flat screen and a cable upgrade, annual vacations, new cars ever couple of years, and getting whatever Apple throws in its RDF (reality distortion field) every year.

        I have several younger cousins (late 20’s early 30’s) all wed with in the last few years. The one with three kids lives a happier and more fulfilled life than the two that are still posting pictures of their latest not-quite-done-with-college-partying escapades on facebook.

        • musicacre

          Yes we see that here too. My husband has some college classmates that still party and never got married or had kids; it looks ridiculous at 50! And sad.

  • smomof5

    Financial planning is important. I like Dave Ramsey to a point. I agree with Richard Becker. I don’t think it’s more important to have my mortgage paid off instead of having another child. We have 5 and I will not be able to pay my mortgage early. We have debt. But I don’t think God will tell me when I die, “Great bank balance or good financial stewardship.” I hope to hear, “Thank you for the souls you loving received and cared for because of me.”

    • Adam__Baum

      In my state, it’s impossible to have your mortgage paid off. The county always holds a mortgage against my property, even if the acquisition loan has been paid.

      I had an older acquaintence in New Jersey. He purchased a home in the mid 60’s at about 30-40K, by the time he left annual taxes were in excess of 10K.

  • silverphile

    What a breath of fresh air to hear of a young couple who are both serious about their faith, and responsible about their choices and behavior. I am shocked at some of the responses below. I actually am a Catholic libertarian, and a mother of 4. It is absolutely my MORAL obligation to help the less fortunate, and I am very happy and willing to do so. I believe the vast majority of people are goodhearted enough to help those who need it. Moreover, I think the welfare state is primarily responsible for hardening peoples hearts to the plight of the needy – why take personal responsibility to help when, “That’s what I pay taxes for?” Never though, confuse my willingness to help others, with a willingness to have the result of my hard work, my income, be forcibly confiscated to support the “government’s” idea of charity – which simply encourages immoral and irresponsible behavior. I applaud those who are open to the life that God in His goodness has blessed us with, and am encouraged by the faith-filled and responsible attitude of the author.

    • me

      Immoral and irresponsible behavior, you’re right on the spot. Those people below haven’t read about the woman in Texas (single with 5 children) that gets $430 per month on food stamps and instead of buying decent food for her kids buy “hot cheetos” and soda. She’s 45 years old and on disability, her 13 year old is on the verge of having diabetes 2 and her 8 year old takes cholesterol pills. I can’t post links, but it was on the WaPo (“Too Much of Too Little – a diet fueled by food stamps is making South Texans obese but leaving them hungry”). It’s pretty appalling the irresponsibility of these people.

    • Adam__Baum

      “I actually am a Catholic libertarian”

      Well then prepare to be skewered as a heretic and a Mason by the resident statists.

      I think the welfare state is primarily responsible for hardening peoples hearts to the plight of the needy – why take personal responsibility to help when, “That’s what I pay taxes for?”
      Exactly the point Father Sirico makes.
      The “Great Society” and the “War on Poverty” are now 50 years old, Poverty won.

  • Mr. X

    Crisis Magazine gets less and less Catholic with each passing day. This nasty bit of sophistry is second rate thinking expressed by a third rate mind. Keep your damn money, Stephen.

    • Adam__Baum

      Who made you Prefect?

      • Mr. X

        Same person you made you Goofus, I suppose.

        • Adam__Baum

          As usual complaints of inadequate decorum are mere charades with the left. Now stop looking in the mirror.

    • msm

      I keep scrolling to the top to be sure this is actually Crisis Magazine… and then I’m wondering how this is considered Catholic thought, or in any way consistent with Catholic teaching and a Catholic ethic.

      Father of 7 who knows that when his day has come he will have relished in the fact that he chose to be open to these 7 incredible (and yes, challenging) human beings who one day will contribute far greater to society than he ever could have not because they were more prudent with money relative to begetting children, but because their parents taught them that faith, hope and charity are the only things that really last.

  • me

    So, that’s pretty interesting. The author of the article is a relative of RH’s husband. H in her nickname stands for Herreid. I can understand now why she was so virulent in regards to his post. By the way, the author for example likes Michelle Malkin. Michelle Malkin is a great conservative who writes against all that dole that Ms RH likes so much to receive, to feed HER children… Hey, it doesn’t take a hacker, it only takes facebook and google to find that all. I just thought that was pretty interesting.

    • Mr. X

      None of these are Catholic ideas. Please try to read Church teaching before you attack Catholics, even the ones who don;t agree with Michelle Cardinal Malkin.

      • me

        It’s not church teaching to rely on the government either. Get real, communist.

        • Mr. X

          Actually, no. It just does not fit into you pigeon-brained political system to see the benefit of government assistance as part of Catholic social teaching. Please Read Casti Connubii. Start around 118. That is Church teaching that contradicts your Protestant ideas. It is not a sin to be poor, and YOU have no right to deny the marital rights of the married poor.

          • Adam__Baum

            And they have no right to deny mine.

      • Adam__Baum

        And yet another statist quotes JJ Cardinal Rosseau above.

        The left is the city of secular ideologies cloaked as virtue and doctrine.

    • Adam__Baum

      In my profession we call that concealing a materrial fact.

      • Robertson

        A lawyer? That explains some things. How many billable hours went into harassing poor mothers here?

        • Adam__Baum

          That is so funny. Ask Slainte if I”m a barrister.

    • Mr. X

      If the author of this essay had any honor, he would intervene on this point.

      • Adam__Baum

        Right, and remove the pidgeon-brained.

  • Mr. X

    Here’s from Pope Pius XI’s casti Connubii:

    “119. When these means which We have pointed out do not fulfill the needs, particularly of a larger or poorer family, Christian charity towards our neighbor absolutely demands that those things which are lacking to the needy should be provided; hence it is incumbent on the rich to help the poor, so that, having an abundance of this world’s goods, they may not expend them fruitlessly or completely squander them, but employ them for the support and well-being of those who lack the necessities of life. They who give of their substance to Christ in the person of His poor will receive from the Lord a most bountiful reward when He shall come to judge the world; they who act to the contrary will pay the penalty.[94] Not in vain does the Apostle warn us: “He that hath the substance of this world and shall see his brother in need, and shall shut up his bowels from him: how doth the charity of God abide in him?”[95]”

    And:

    “121. Wherefore, those who have the care of the State and of the public good cannot neglect the needs of married people and their families, without bringing great harm upon the State and on the common welfare. Hence, in making the laws and in disposing of public funds they must do their utmost to relieve the needs of the poor, considering such a task as one of the most important of their administrative duties.”

    Like I said, this essay is not Catholic.

  • FourKidsUnderFiveAnCounting(?)

    While no one is saying that families cannot space children out, there must be SERIOUS reasons. The scandal of NFP – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxbj73PmbY8

  • Mr. X

    Here we are:

    “The American Catholic Church, which emphasizes property rights and the integrity of neighborhoods, retained the Latin mass and plays The Star-Spangled Banner at the elevation.” — Love in the Ruins.

  • Benjamin Herreid

    I just wanted to write a response to you Stephen, and I apologies
    for quite likely having a very redundant response as I haven’t yet read all of
    the posts above. Before I was married many people would respond to my brash
    statements on family and marriage with the much hated “just wait until your
    married” line. After I was married they would drag out the old “just wait until
    you have kids” line. Now they STILL give me a hard time telling me “just wait
    until you have teenagers”. Without fail these seemingly cliché admonitions have
    proved to ring true. I am here today to hand you every last one of those lines
    piled high and heaping on a plate of real world experience.

    The prudence you speak of would not have allowed for your own
    existence.

    Also I do believe had Mary been a devotee of Ramsey she would have had to decline the extremely imprudent
    suggestion of the Archangel Gabriel, that as an unwed woman she carry a baby she
    had no way of providing for.

    I am not much for pulling up random quotes to defend my
    points but offhand I do remember (not sure if he’s Blessed or Venerable) Fulton
    Sheen saying something along the lines of you don’t cut off the baby’s head because
    you don’t have enough hats to go around. He went on to say that God is not
    unaware of the financial needs of his people and there is no monetary value
    that can be put on a person. I believe was him that also said “every child
    comes with a loaf of bread”.

    If you read Becker’s article he isn’t explaining how you can
    game the system. He doesn’t advocate abandonment of duty as a provider. He just
    points out the very real and Catholic principle that says a person is more important
    than money, and security, and stability, and and and.

    Your article is well written and the points are articulate
    but they seem more fitting to the discernment of a large household appliance
    purchase then to the discernment of the very basis of living out a Christian marriage
    ie. family. You would sadly have been
    deprived of your five little nieces and nephews over here in the great welfare
    state of WA if we were to adhere to your philosophy. But I have hope, just wait
    until you’re married…..then wait until you have kids…….then wait until you have
    teenagers.

    God Bless you and I love you brother.

    • musicacre

      This reply is closest to what I wanted to say, thank you so much! It is very tempting for many couples to use inflexible stark numbers and other irrelevant data to decide on having a baby, when really it’s not just about affording that kid’s whole future that is the whole issue. It’s also about entering into a deeper mystery of trusting God that has absolutely nothing in common with being single. As a couple- two shall become one- and I like to think that also describes the child; he is part one person and part of the other. A new trinity. An unmarried young couple cannot see this act of trust from their perspective, so it all becomes numbers and waiting until there is personal comfort and predicted wealth. A desire to wait, to put on hold becoming a family can and does have ravaging effects on a marriage. It makes the couple more selfish…..not intending to, it just happens when life is comfortable and there are no pressing demands.
      As a newly married couple we had the good fortune to run into a few very holy priests (through the pro-life movement) and have treasured their advice over the years. One nugget was that when you are new to parenting you have a little cotton-ball of patience, and that baby pulls and pulls on it til it has stretched significantly. ..until you have a room full of it. Simple, but it works. also that if you are using conscience in deciding family size it must be an”informed” conscience…take the time to read what the Church teaches. If my parents were prudent I wouldn’t be here; I was #4 (as my Dad likes to say) in a line of 4 girls in 4 years. There were 3 after me. In those days you were all finished by age 30. My parents struggled, but they loved each other, and prayed hard. We had a great upbringing, and it wasn’t until I became a parent that my heart overflowed with gratitude, knowing what they went through. That’s another secret not revealed until one has children. People want to “wait” to have children, an event that truly opens your heart in a whole new way for the first time in your life. Some people on these comments have mentioned fertility issues which is what we have seen over the years. Couples that waited and waited until their bank account was satisfactory, then they couldn’t have children., My sister is one of those. There are many sad stories of people not having children for various reasons, but I have not run into anyone rich or poor who is sad that they have children.
      All in all, we are in a battle to fight for the faith in this world-the bible is full of this terminology- and we become stronger when there are challenges; one must not be timid and scared of the future.

  • Amy Paraskevas

    I more or less skipped the comments, as this is a heavy post and I didn’t want to drown, but I agree with you. I wanted to give you some encouragement – doubtless you will get a lot of “ahh, but you aren’t married” and “ahh, but you don’t have kids”. Well, I am married, and we do have a child, who’s 3, and he’s a great kid, but we chose to conceive him in the height of financial/providential naivete. We’ve never required public assistance, but only because we live in a province with generous automatic payments for families. And to this day we do indeed continue to deal with the consequences of our timing. Now of course, we adore him, we love parenthood, we can’t imagine it any other way; still, the principles hold true. We’ve since figured out to not count your chickens until they hatch. The pro-natalist bias is extremely strong in the States, in religious circles particularly, and I find the entitlement attitude really perplexing and very un-Catholic. Anyway, in short, God bless you, and may you and your finacee be able to achieve your goals and enjoy the blessing of children with the peace that comes from good planning while you are still young.

    • Ellen Birdnow Durnbaugh

      “pro natalist bias”? What?? Our society HATES children, unless they’re “planned” after you’ve “lived your life”, so much so that abortion is treated as a sacrament. Yes, Christians could be described as “pro-natatlist”, but that’s because GOD is. And it’s Church teaching that married couples are to “welcome children lovingly from God”. NFP is available if you have a serious need to avoid a pregnancy, but openness to life is supposed to be the default for a married couple.

      • Amy Paraskevas

        I generally think of society as hostile to children as well, but I recently read a book, One And Only, which analyzes pronataliat culture in the States (one illustration that stuck in my mind was that during the last presidential race candidates were bragging about how many children they’d had, listing it as a credential) – Americans are divided sort of generally into pronatalists, and small-family/no children groups, thoughthat simplifies it of course, and moreoever, the pronatalists generallyhave strong support within small but sufficient communities (parishes, etc), but seem to be known for perceiving themselves as a tiny minority, when they are in fact not.
        I think holistic fruitfulness isthe ‘default’ in marriage, not simply reproductive fruitfulness. I don’t think having a baby is the ‘default’ position.

    • musicacre

      We did not have “good” planning when my husband and I got married, just an iron-clad commitment to each other and our Catholic marriage. I would be surprised to hear that someone after having one child, would think they had made a mistake. Why would one want to consider the womb an enemy after such a miracle?
      It was our toddler daughter who goaded us on…”I want a brother…I want a sister..” How could we refuse her? After not conceiving right away a gradual panic set in (as it dawned on us that we are not in control) and finally when we decided not to wait but adopt, I found I was pregnant! The joy that resulted made us decide to let any other child who wished to join us, definitely be welcomed into our humble household! One only needs to go through the possibility of not having more children, to know how that feels! Out of six we had, most (4) have attended university and they all play music and love their faith! The homeschooling actually was hugely cheaper since they didn’t care about wearing the latest fashions…etc etc Ditto for not needing electronic devices or the latest toys either (not until they were out on their own and working for their own money!)

      As a side note, I was inspired to give up my career as a nurse early on after a Catholic Conference sponsored by Women for LIfe, Faith and Family, one of the early organizations trying to be voice for life and healthy families. My first born was about 18 months at the time and the guest speaker (Malcolm Muggeridge’s daughter-in-law, Anne Roche Muggeridge), stressed the importance of mothers raising their own children. There were quite a few professionals in the audience who thought she was being unreasonable, but her stats were very interesting. She had an official stat of 17,000 children being farmed out for “care” out in the country near Paris in a certain year in the 1800’s because it was the thing to do, if you wanted to hold your head up high…anyways most of these children got “visited” by their parents only once or twice a year. The mortality rate was over 75%, most of these children not making it to puberty. In nursing we would call that “failure to thrive”. She also talked about the psychological disconnect that happpens in alot of children who don’t have a consistent loving caregiver (mother or relative who treasures them). As a psychiatric nurse I understand that result from lack of nurturing,and as a mother I have watched the results over the years of close relatives putting their kids into daycare shortly after birth. My niece who is the same age as our daughter and a result of early daycare , then after school care etc, calls her Dad by his first name and didn’t even invite her parents to her wedding. She stopped seeing her Grandma at an age when they gave her a choice, about 9 years old. Her parents however, both had steady full incomes all the years she was growing up and made sure they only had one child.
      So…we took chances on our single income family, and yes, all my sibs had better cars etc…but we have a close family and I’m grateful someone older and wiser than me gave me advice at the beginning of my marriage!

    • Stephen J. Herreid

      Thanks so much, Amy! God bless you too.

  • Terry McCarthy Jr.

    Thanks. I was raised in Michigan the oldest of 14 children, 4 of whom died after birth, 10 who are still alive. Dad was a heavy Equipment operator and was laid off every winter. We struggled through the 1950’s with only a mortgage debt but when spring came around and things were tight Dad would ask for charity from a local grocery store. Dad eventually got a good job overseas in the 1960’s and things got better. I remember the summer day in 1967 when my brother and I returned to Michigan with a check from Mom & Dad and handed it over the meat counter the the good grocer who had cared for us in our need.

    • me

      It’s a laudable thing your family had the help of a good soul and did not turn to government dole. I applaud that, and God save the grocer guy.

  • MyKCMom

    Several years ago, God used Dave Ramsey to save our marriage. We’re Catholic. We had a situation of financial infidelity. He helped us find the way out, and there was no doubt God brought him to us at the right time. He is a Christian and as such God can use him to teach and bless us all, even heathens. It’s amazing how God’s truth transcends like that, but then again that is probably why he is God!

    Now we have just come off of the Worldwide Marriage Encounter, and we were worried we would not be able to incorporate the needed tools to continue to grow as God has called us in our vocation. Then it dawned on us, this was very much like the steps and the process we learned with Dave, and we could do it.

    Dave Ramsey helps with motivation. He helps in learning how to pick yourself up and keep trying. He helps in teaching you how to prioritize, and in a world where marriage is crumbling, Godly counsel and leadership is essential. Also, you aren’t following some man or prophet you’re following steps that worked for him…. so if he falls, so be it. The steps are the steps. We can all fall, kwim?

    These things may be so easily dismissed or minimized by others, but for two kids, both only children, who are both from divorced homes, and were starving for Godly examples of marriage around us, he has been an answer to prayer.

    I’m almost 38 years old. I have a graduate degree, but coming out of the contraception deception, I walked 9 mos pregnant. We now have 3 beautiful blessings. My husband works his gluteous maximus off to provide for us so I can stay at home & home school them, while also paying off my 130k dollar student loan debt. We have learned the practical steps of walking out God’s plan for us from his steps.

    Dave Ramsey has been a critical component of learning how to live the vocation God has for us. For that we are eternally grateful. My goodness consider what Cardinal O’Malley just stated in his recent article: “cohabitation, student debt threaten marriage.” Dave Ramsey is a light God uses to shine the way out of that tunnel.

    • Adam__Baum

      That so many Catholics turn to a celebrity “advisor”, whose perspective is more “prosperity Gospel” than anything else, whose advice is often technically flawed and who offers impersonal financial self medication is a comment on the inattention of the Church in offering a relevant ministry.

      I’m half-tempted to approach my Bishop, when our diocesan interregnum is over to request a “Green Mass” (ala the “Red Mass” for lawyers) for those of us who labor in fiscal occupations.

      • MyKCMom

        Have you listened to the show or sat through a class? Because there is nothing prosperity about Ramsey. Ramsey’s goal is to get people free – free from overspending, free from materialism, free from debt, free from being a slave to the master so that Christians can give to the church…. How uncatholic of him (sarcasm). If you listen to Ramsey you would know he’d tell you why are you trying to buy that sports car that has no gain – drive the 10 year old used car and be at peace with where God has you and get yourself debt free so you can give, give, give….

        • Adam__Baum

          I have indicated elsewhere I have no problem with avoiding needless debt. But you didn’t read the rest of what I wrote here before contentious asking me if I gave him adequate consideration.

          I already said I have no problem telling people to avoid NEEDLESS debt, but that like everything else, it’s something to be used prudently.

          Since I have no need of Ramsey, I’ll keep my dough rather than adding to his fortune, and it’s not because I begrudge him his earnings, I’m just past financial baby food.

          Have you ever consulted with a CPA, CFP, or similarly credentialed individual?

          The answer is of course, “no” since if you did, you’d understand that there’s a reason why you take years to acquire the knowledge, abilities that you think you get from his course.

  • catlaughter

    Excellent. I wish you and Carey many blessings in your upcoming marriage and life!! God bless you.

    • Stephen J. Herreid

      God bless you too! Thanks!

  • debval

    I guess it depends on what you consider being ‘financially sound’ is. While I love Dave Ramsey he doesn’t approach the topics of finances from a Catholic perspective. While we must be financially responsible that doesn’t = Ramsey’s definition. Children, not investments, is the purpose of marriage. Keeping your debts minimal to give your wife options (work or home) is advisable. Saving for an emergency, smart. Stock piling cash for a retirement at 62, not necessary. Sounds like you are trying to justify using NFP because that is what you want to do. I couldn’t have kids after 27. We’d take a small house, a 15 year old car, and my husband not retiring until he was 70 if it meant we could have more kids. NFP can be used and it can be abused. It’s a fine line.

  • Rick Becker

    Thanks, Stephen, for your nuanced and thoughtful response. I’ve been surprised by all the reactions (both positive and negative) my article provoked, but I’m glad it helped spark a conversation. Your reflections serve to keep that conversation going—and to expand it I think.

    Others (many others!) have already started to weigh in with their own responses to your article, and I’d like to add a few comments myself.

    1. Sex is for children: There’s a big difference between practicing NFP (which, by definition, involves marital intimacy open to new life) and complete abstinence. To have marital relations is to be open to the blessing of another baby, NFP or no NFP. It’s just part of the deal. And if we had to adequately plan for every contingency before enjoying marital intimacy, we wouldn’t have it at all. And we’d have no kids.

    In the past, the Church used to describe marriage and family life as the “normal means of sanctification.” Ordinarily, that sanctification is directly tied to childbearing and child rearing—the chaos and stresses and challenges of family life, in other words, are the grist for the saint-making machine. Dave Ramsey has a lot of good ideas, but if we buy into his program too completely, we’ll end up with debt-free, yet smallish families—or no family at all if we’re really intent on avoiding debt. Is that really what the Church has in mind? I don’t think freedom from debt is something She envisions when She speaks of the “means of sanctification.” Rather, I think it’s another kid with a poopy diaper.

    2. Debt and the dole: We live in northern Indiana, very close to Amish country. I admire and respect the Amish—even envy them. But I’m not Amish. We live in a city and get around in cars (on roads built and maintained by the government). I work at a college (subsidized by government student loans) and supervise students at a big hospital (which relies on reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid). My kids go to Catholic schools (thanks to the largesse of Indiana’s voucher program), and we live in a house that somebody else built and which is partially owned by the bank.

    Very few of us can completely avoid debt and government assistance of some kind, and even Ramsey brackets mortgage debt as being tolerable in his debt-free utopian vision. I don’t deny that Ramsey has a lot of great ideas and that he can be very helpful to folks with financial struggles. It’s his debt-free mantra that worries me. Once “debt-free” is the overarching goal, then the intrinsic dignity and infinite worth of people—from babies to ailing elders—can too easily be relativized.

    3. Where our treasure lies: “I’m concerned to see you limit ‘contribution to society’ to financial contribution,” wrote “Abby” in a posted response to your article. I share her concern. Yes, we need to be giving back and contributing, but why limit that to money? Sure, I could send a few more coins to the food pantry or the missions if I didn’t have all these kids, but…the world is better off with my kids. In fact, I have it on good Authority that the world needed these kids: God sent ‘em.

    Uncle Sam gives me a tax break for each one of my kids—why? I think it’s because even the feds recognize that societies need kids, and it is cost effective to subsidize childbearing by means of tax incentives. This might not always be the case—we don’t want to take our fertility freedoms for granted—but consider that even China is backing off their one-child policy a bit now.

    Yet even that’s besides the point, for there is no way to calculate, in monetary terms, the value of another child. If we are willing to take on debt to buy a new house—a material object with finite, temporal value—shouldn’t we be willing to take on debt to have another kid—a person made in the image and likeness of God, with infinite value and a soul?

    I say: Yes!

    • Stephen J. Herreid

      Thank you for your kind words and for taking the time to offer your thoughts on my response article. I’m traveling at the moment, but I wanted to let you know that I’ve read your comment and will respond as soon as I can do justice to the task.

      God bless,

      Stephen J. Herreid

  • Liam M

    Good article. People who are leeches on society like to justify themselves saying they had no choice. And catholics do have a tendency to give them the justification they need because some catholic desire to control married peoples beds. Both extremes of uber NFP Catholics and Anti-NFP Catholics. Now, The Church really cares about making sure sex is not disordered. It doesn’t care about telling married people when they should have sex. It would be a bit bizarre if the Church set strict limits that sex is for after marriage and then set limit for sex when in marriage. They should get rid of marriage if this is the case it becomes redundant. To get back to leeches of society, they have something deeper then to many children. If you blame them for that you are unjust. Children are not the problem, if you want to be the people who point at children and say you should have used NFP go ahead. Or on the contrary, point at a married couple with no children and say they are working against will of God be my Guest. Or you can do what I think Stephen is trying to Emphasis. Fight against peoples selfishness, greed, pride etc. the old old problems, You should be already doing this in yourself. Don’t attack children that people put in front of them, and don’t use your children as human shields for your own vices. Both Becker and Herreid both are virtuous and are going for good marriages. The Church says it is virtuous to be prudent, just, charitable–and you must be virtuous. Marriage is a vehicle to be virtuous don’t let it be used as a excuse not to be.

  • Barbara Fryman

    Look people, DR’s stuff is a tool, and it can be used to create a great way to care for one’s family. Of course nothing beats a relationship with God in family planning, but sometimes God leads us to programs like DR’s and helps us manage what we do have better. I really doubt this author is planning on having a baby or not depending exclusively on what his budget says, but more what he and his wife discern in prayer and through reason. I’ve never heard DR tell anyone not to have anymore children, in fact I’ve heard him say flat out, “I don’t tell people weather or not to have a baby, that’s God’s job.” The idea that DR is a problem or the answer to all these family issues is crazy. He can help those who aren’t great at managing their money become more purposeful, and he can help those who find themselves with hundreds of thousands of dollars in hospital bills find a way out. But he also can’t give you all the factors in debating the question of another child. I haven’t met anyone yet who thinks he can.

  • s

    I am really surprised that no one has commented on an error Mr. Herreid has made. Virtuous Continence referred to by Pius XI is when a couple abstains completely from the marital embrace. As long as there is mutual consent this is always allowed by the Church for whatever reason. It is not NFP. NFP is Periodic Continence which is the use of the marital act only at infertile times. This is only allowable for a serious reasons. I don’t like talking about the rules and regs of Church teaching on fertility since it is much richer than that. But I don’t want to let this misunderstanding go by unaddressed.
    I have a large family and I would say you are never ready financially, physically or emotionally for another child. But God does provide and he stretches you. It can’t be quantified. Having children makes you work harder and be more responsible and grow in ways you can never imagine.

  • k

    I thought like you during our engagement. Life is different – you tend to find you are pregnant just after you find yourself unemployed – regardless of reason, you tend to find out that weeks earlier, you conceived.

    Also, no matter how many kids you have eventually – say two – someone will say, when you’re unemployed – you should have thought ahead.

    I hope you’ll think ahead before writing such an ignorant article again – I mean, couldn’t you run it by a 4-year married practicing Catholic individual first? You’re here to help right? This article was NOT GOOD, sorry for my offensiveness, but it’s needed here.

    NFP? That’s good to consider after several or if you aren’t having any yet, but don’t start that way. Have as many kids as God will permit you! That’s what we did and we’re blissfully in love and blissfully exhausted and we deal with hard times in faith. Hard times don’t last forever, even the really hardest of hard times. But God’s way does.

    Kids learn to save and re-use and create by not having enough money to buy and buy anew and throw away – have more kids and less money.

  • JB

    “Just as secular hedonism leans heavily on outside forces to supply one’s base desires, so Catholic couples are tempted by this age to ‘throw caution to the wind,’ and to put their families’ welfare in their neighbors’ hands.”

    What circles is this author hanging out in that the biggest problem among Catholics is that they’re *too* open to life? I’d like to meet some of these people!

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