Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Rightly Ordered Loves

This is a summary of Joan Lockwood O'Donovan's essay "Christian Platonism and Non-Proprietary Community."

Thesis: The possession of rights is always proprietorship.  In the Western tradition all natural rights originate in property right.

Pope John XXII proposed that from the moment of creation all mankind was collectively endowed with full lordship in the sense of ownership over earthly goods.

Patristic Foundations of Non-Proprietary Community

Augustine distinguished between two rights on which earthly goods are based: divine right, in which all things belong to the righteous, and human right--which is in the jusridiction of the kings of the earth (Ep. 93, NPNF (1) I:400.).

Eventually, this would be seen that in a just commonwealth, "the highest and truest common good, namely, God, is loved by all, and men love each other in Him without dissimulation" (Ep. 137.5.17).  Therefore, bonum commune is above all a sharing in rightly ordered loving--an activity that is entirely common in the sense of inclusive and participatory because entirely spiritual (JO, 80).

"By contrast, Augustine conceived of the disordered love of the soul as the privatization of good, in that it entails the soul's turning away from the universal common good to its private good, that is, to itself as privately possessed."

"In the body politic, disordered love is the destruction of community, of the bonum commune, because it involves radical loss of the shared spiritual possession of being, meaning, and value."
  • regulated interaction of private spheres of degenerate freedom.
Franciscan Poverty: The Theology of Evangelical Non-Possession

In the later middle ages the distinction between common property and common non-proprietary possession never surfaced.
  • Bonaventure moved the debate forward.  By drawing upon the Christian neo-Platonic tradition, he was able to posit the Trinity/Word as font and finis of thought and spirituality. 
  • Christ's life revealed "Evangelical Perfection."
  • This meant that Bonaventure's order saw the claiming of spiritual goods for oneself and against one another.  It disrupts the human response to divine love (84).
  • Renouncing the property right means the wayfarer is not a self-possessor, but is possessed by Christ, receiving from Him all the good that he is, has, and does (85).  
Wyclif's Ecclesiological Revolution

Fitzralph (Wyclif's intellectual predecessor) argued that God's "gift of lordship to Adam is a communication or sharing of himself and his lordship rather than an alienating transfer of lordship, which would diminish God--a communicating and communicable possession and use of things according to rational necessity" (89).
  • "Wyclif's core Augustinian insight is that just lordship over earthly goods involves rightly ordered love toward them, which in turn depends on the true knowledge of them available only in Christ"
  • Evangelical dominion, therefore, is the just communal possession and use of earthly goods that shadows God's own dominion by conserving the being of non-human creatures...

"We are not our own but Christ's" (1 Cor. 6.19).  "As we are possessed by Christ and receive ourselves from him, the central act of our willing is one of conforming to his will" (92). 

  • When we encounter other goods, we first possess them in their essential being, through knowledge illumined by the love of Christ, before answering the demand or claim that they present" (93).
  • We are "claims," not "rights-possessors." 
  • By conforming to Christ, we respond and recognize that the Other is.  We fulfill the demands of Justice, but not the demands of one another (this solves Hegel's problem.  We introduce the Other as loved).  
Righteous human lordship is communal chiefly because it is spiritual (this is where Reconstructionism in its libertarianism is so horribly wrong).
  • Righteous "human community is a sharing in or communication of spiritual goods before physical goods."
  • "Only the fellowship of the Holy Spirit entered into through the divine-human communication of Christ crucified and resurrected makes possible an inclusive communion in the use of physical goods.  No meum or teum
  • Common possession means that no one acts as if any good belongs to him/her in any excluding or even particularizing sense (94).

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