Official Catholic View of Use of Lethal Force in Self-Defense

Miguel at the Gun Free Zone blog posted recently about a new book by a Texas police officer called Jesus Christ on Killing.

jesus-christ-on-killing-coverI expect to see evangelical Christians taking this position, but Miguel brings to light some interesting passages from the Catechism of the Catholic Church that I had not previously read:

The seldom discussed subject of the legitimate killing of a human being and how does that mixes with Judeo/Christian values.  As a Catholic (although in a long hiatus) I refer to the Catechism regarding the Fifth Commandment

2263 The legitimate defense of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the murder of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing. “The act of self-defense can have a double effect: the preservation of one’s own life; and the killing of the aggressor. . . . The one is intended, the other is not.”

2264 Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one’s own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow:

 If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful. . . . Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one’s own life than of another’s.

2265 Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility.

A burden we do not seek but we know we might face.

Catechism of the Catholic Church

 

Contemporary Application of Bourdieu’s Distinction in Musical Taste

In his famous book Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, Pierre Bourdieu reports findings from a French survey of cultural tastes fielded in 1967-68. Of particular note is a figure showing the distribution of preferences for three musical works by class fractions. Bourdieu reports that Bach’s “Well-Tempered Clavier” represents “legitimate taste” and is favored by “those fractions of the dominant class that are richest in economic capital.” Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” stands in for “middle-brow taste” favored by the middle classes. And Strauss’s “Blue Danube” represents “popular taste” — which Bourdieu characterizes as “so-called ‘light’ music or classical music devalued by popularization,” and also “songs totally devoid of artistic ambition or pretension” such as works by Petula Clark. This taste “is most frequent among the working classes and varies in inverse ratio to educational capital” (p. 17).

I do a mini-version of Bourdieu’s survey in my sociological theory class, playing these three songs for my students and asking them to indicate which they like. There are often very seemingly idiosyncratic patterns in the responses to these songs. Strauss is generally pretty popular overall, though, which is exactly the opposite of what Bourdieu would expect from my generally well-educated and fairly affluent student. Discussion of this often highlights the fact that the music in Bourdieu’s study is too old to allow for meaningful interpretation of the relationship between American social class, educational capital, and taste. So, I field another survey for my students.

I am assisted in my choice of songs by a student who sent me a link to the following chart, from an on-line story called “Does Your Taste in Music Reflect Your Intelligence?”

MusicthatmakesyoudumbLargeThe results bring together the most popular songs at 1,352 American colleges and universities and the average SAT scores at those same institutions. Of course, this is not a sociological study, though the person who did the work, Virgil Griffith, is a PhD student at Caltech studying the “information-integration theory of consciousness” (not exactly a rocket scientist, but close to alot of rocket scientists at Caltech).

Bourdieu talks about “educational capital” rather than intelligence, but we do know that one of the things that the SAT measures is the economic and cultural capital of the students taking the exam, so the SAT is not a terrible proxy for what Bourdieu is talking about.

In my reduced version of Bourdieu’s study, I chose three songs that appear high, middle, and low in the SAT spectrum: Radiohead’s “Karma Police” (high), OutKast’s “Ms. Jackson” (middle), and Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love” (low). I asked students to indicate which of the three songs was their favorite. The results were as follows:

HIGH (Radiohead): 21%
MEDIUM (OutKast): 38%
LOW (Beyonce): 41%

I welcome any comments on the results of this exercise!

 

Three Blog Posts on Initiation in the Contemporary Catholic Church

Oxford University Press was good enough to allow me to write three blog posts this Easter weekend with my thoughts on initiation in the contemporary Catholic Church. Here are links to the three posts:

  1. Initiation into America’s Original Megachurch (18 April 2014)
  2. Reinventing Rites of Passage in Contemporary America (19 April 2014)
  3. Easter Rites of Initiation Bring Good News for American Catholics (20 April 2014)

The posts build on my recently published study of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, and hopefully build some interest in it.

You can order it from Barnes & Noble at a 20% discount, and also get it as a Nook book or for the Amazon Kindle (Amazon.com was recently sold out of the book, but hopefully it will come back in stock there, too.)

Becoming Catholic Cover

Teaching the Frankfurt School on the Culture Industry and Standardization of Cultural Products

In my sociological theory class recently, I was teaching about critical theory (i.e., “the Frankfurt School”). Specifically, students were reading excerpts from Theodor Adorno’s and Max Horkheimer’s work on “The Culture Industry,” excerpted from their 1944 book The Dialectic of Enlightenment.

Dialectic of EnlightenmentWe talked about how the production of mass cultural commodities (books, films, TV, music) is the same as all mass production. It is geared toward making a profit by minimizing the costs of production and maximizing consumption (i.e., “audience”). The result is homogeneity and predictability.

As Adorno and Horkheimer observed back in the 1940s, “As soon as the film begins, it is quite clear how it will end, and who will be rewarded punished or forgotten. In light music [popular music], once the trained ear heard the first note of the hit song, it can guess what is coming and feel flattered when it does come…The result is a constant reproduction of the same.”

In his essay “On Popular Music,” Adorno refers to the rules of standardization in popular music, the best know of which is that “the chorus consists of thirty two bars and that the range is limited to one octave and one note.” Mind-numbing.

To make this point, I usually just refer to Katy Perry and Jessie J. and whoever the latest pop star is, but this year one of my students pointed me to a song by the group, “Axis of Awesome” which makes this point much better than I could with my limited understanding of music. Check out the video for their song “4 Chords” below:

20 Reasons Nursing Deserves a Google Doodle

Much respect to the nurses. Doctors diagnose, nurses cure!

Sandra Yamane

Amanda Anderson, a blogger for HealthCetera, has started a campaign asking Google to devote a Google Doodle to honor National Nurses Day on May 6th. I personally enjoy the doodles. I have Google as my home page so I see them every day when I sign on to my computer. Some doodles are interactive such as the one for  Halloween 2012 and others celebrate innovators and various subjects including: birthdays (Dorothy Height’s 102nd), Ghana’s Independence Day, the 2014 Winter Olympics (complete with a hint of a political statement), and one of the best — a tribute to Freddie Mercury (it has an animated Freddie flying on a Tiger singing “Don’t Stop Me Now”) which is fabulous!

florencenightingale

Amanda wants to bring attention to our profession and states, “Maybe, if the millions of Americans Googling something on May 6th saw a tribute to…

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Enter to Win a Free Copy of My Book “Becoming Catholic” from Goodreads

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Goodreads Book Giveaway

Becoming Catholic by David Yamane

Becoming Catholic

by David Yamane

Giveaway ends April 30, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/widget/89025

Q&A With My Friend Black Hawk Hancock on His New Theory Book

My friend and I did an on-line Q&A about his new theory text, Social Theory: Continuity and Confrontation.

The University of Toronto Press put it on their blog last week. Check it out HERE.

I’m looking forward to using the text next spring in my theory classes.

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