William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

New Pope Video: Ain’t The Planet Great?

Well, you can see it for yourself. The Pope, God bless him, brightly lit from below and in a voice most mellow, emphasized by environmentally friendly music, tells us that the earth is swell and, to keep it that way, you should pick up your damn trash.

Who could argue?

Video has cute fish, cute frolicking kids, cute multi-cultural faces, bikes, greenery, lovingly fondled and in abundance, some shots of what looks like New Jersey, and dangling feet blocking the son.

Then there are words; chiefly these:

The relationship between poverty and the fragility of the planet requires another way of managing the economy and measuring progress, conceiving a new way of living.

Because we need a change that unites us all.

Free from the slavery of consumerism.

I can’t make much of the economics of planetary fragility and poverty, except as it relates to the ancient wisdom of not mixing the location of the food input and output cycle, if you catch my meaning.

But I sure understand the slavery of consumerism. I despise the word with its true connotations of greed, avarice, and insatiability. Try it. Say “I am a consumer“, thinking hard about what it means to consume.

Consumerism compliments, if that’s the right word, narcissism. Everybody knows that, yet we don’t often think about it. Pace:

Fine, eliminate the word, have folks live more “in tune” with nature. Let ascetics abound. Then what? Good question, that.

There are certain advantages to a more ascetic or stoical life than many of us currently lead. These advantages aren’t only spiritual, but physical, too. Buying less unnecessary food is an excellent way to drop those extra 80 pounds—and to zap the credit card bill.

So you heed the advice to cut back—or have it heeded for you—and now you’re at fighting weight and debt free. Then what? A little planet or nature worship, maybe? Well, not worship worship, as hippy Woopie might say. Instead a kind of deep, yoga-mat-carrying appreciation that nature—rather, Nature—is alive. And maybe even looking out for you. Or maybe just a recognition that life can be so spiritual.

Care and appreciation of the thin scraping of dirt and water that forms the surface of our planet can’t be a goal in and of itself. Keeping things neat and pretty can’t be our natural end or the ultimate reason for out existence. Rather, they can be. But they surely can’t be what the Pope meant, right?

Would turning somebody into an environmentalist make them more or less likely to embrace Christianity? How about a vegetarian or even, God help us, a vegan? How about just a more caring person?

Could go either way, but I think the answer is weighted toward no for any of these categories. Lot of folks will look at this video and think to themselves that all the Pope really wants is for us to be nicer to Earth, maybe even nicer to each other. Niceness isn’t enough, though. Sometimes it’s even the wrong thing. Anyway, since most people already think themselves nice, their next thoughts will turn to those they feel aren’t so nice. Like polluters. Who are they? Capitalists? Mean people?

It takes real work to think that a person will watch this video and worry about that state of his soul. Would a person watching even know he had a soul that might be imperiled?

Ah, but what can you do in a minute-and-a-half, anyway? It’s only seed planting. Besides, the Pope said proselytism is “solemn nonsense.”

Incidentally, the Pope is wrong about global warming.

——————————————-

Hat tip to our friend Steve Skojec where I first learned of this video.

33 Comments

  1. I do truly miss the days when the Pope and God communicated and the Pope spent his days in prayer. Seems the Pope has gone commercial on us, doesn’t it?

    I’m a lousy consumer (you can stop giggling now, JMJ), having bought no new furniture, few new clothes, no cable TV, really old cars, etc. It’s not because I think this is so moral or makes me better than everyone else—it’s because I have no interest in said things. Also, I’m not foolish enough to tell everyone to stop consuming, since we already have massive unemployment and it’s growing in size daily. Work used to be an important part of religion, though I think maybe the Pope is starting to lean to the “take from others who work” side in this and leave people home watching Jerry Springer. Not good. Anyway, consumerism is something one must have interest in and one must care about appearances, etc. It seems quite evident the church has failed to get this message across, including in its own buildings and workings. If we want people to consume less and care more about the planet, then a massive reworking of society would be needed. A voluntary one, with more hand labor and less machines, lower standard of living, probably rotating people in and out of jobs. If this does not happen very, very quickly, gangs and drugs and criminals take over. I doubt the Pope understands or even cares about this (sorry, but this Pope does not seem to comprehend reality in any way.)

  2. dangling feet blocking the son.

    Your enemies have a subtle sense of humor. The Pope blocking the Son. Indeed.

  3. Keep in mind that yesterday’s consumerism is today’s essential. Consider early ads for washing machines — more focused on desire than need. Yet that singular device freed many from the hour-consuming drudgery of hand-washing clothes.

    Is the Pope — and similar voices — truly arguing that we give up today’s desires for yesterday’s life of want and suffering (note: that was rhetorical and I suspect that answer for many is “Yes”, though they have not really considered the consequences)?

    Note: Many of the yes folks suffer from what Ludwig Mises called the Fourier Complex (see Liberalism or https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourier_complex).

  4. Every living thing must consume or it looses it’s life. If the pope’s definition of consumerism means “a desire for things we do not need” almost every person, animal and plant are indited in this “evil”. If a desire for improvement for the status of self or humankind is what he is warning against he has forgotten the very center of Christ’s teaching.
    I am left wondering what is his point and is there even the seed of a message here.

  5. Where is JMJ? (here are extra letters to make this longer and less like spam)

  6. Sheri,
    “I’m a lousy consumer (you can stop giggling now, JMJ), having bought no new furniture, few new clothes, no cable TV, really old cars, etc. It’s not because I think this is so moral or makes me better than everyone else …”

    Of course, you can’t buy used items unless someone else buys them new first. This would seem to be obvious but is often forgotten by many or maybe it reflects my previous observation that one can not be virtuous unless others sin. This is the theme behind the vow of poverty and possibly the Pope’s video. I’m glad that you have not fallen into that trap, Sheri.

    “Free from the slavery of consumerism.” Sounds like “Freedom is Slavery”

    “…another way of managing the economy and measuring progress, conceiving a new way of living.”
    I suggest don’t attempt to manage it at all since this is an illusion. Measuring progress, a new way of living? Such arrogance is scary.

    “Buying less unnecessary food is an excellent way to drop those extra 80 pounds …” I’m sad that you seem to believe such foolishness Briggs. Apply your statistical insight to this claim.

  7. This video reminds me of Adeamus Karl Jenkins. I think it would have been a better soundtrack.
    The pope seems to have chosen power and politics over truth. I know many will excuse him and say he is misinformed but he has no excuse for this.
    This is not original, BA has done this, the Portuguese tourist board, a Scandinavian furniture store, and a long list that will surely land me in the sin bin, but no chocolate manufacturers as yet!
    Who owns the planet anyway?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibwxzxER_pY

    If Trump wins he’s going to have words with the pope! and that make me smile.

  8. Scotian: I had a boss that bought everything including gifts at garage sales. She was very proud of this—I pointed out exactly what you have here, that someone has to buy things first. She just said “Well, I didn’t say it would work for everyone”. (This always buying second hand was a source of moral superiority for her, along with being rich and claiming not to be.)

    As you note, trying to conceive of a “better” way to run a society is a scary thing. How much is too much? My mother always thought “too much” was anyone who had more than she did. How does one decide? I suspect that many people use the same standard as did my mother. Scary indeed.

  9. Sheri,
    When I was poor I often bought second hand but when I could afford to buy new I did. It is all a matter of circumstances not virtue although occasionally second hand is the better deal when they just don’t make them like that anymore. For example the best pocket calculator ever made:

    http://www.hpmuseum.org/11c.jpg

    which can now only be bought used on e-bay at higher than the original price. I was lucky enough to buy it new and it is still in excellent condition. I plan to make it a family heirloom along with my K&E slide rule so that it can be handed down through the ages.

    There is one good standard for excess consumerism. That is going into dept in order to support a lavish lifestyle.

  10. Scotian
    I got my 11-C second hand about 20 yrs. ago.Its been through lots of trials as I am land surveyor in Montana and I tossed out the slide rule last time I moved. Did you see the snake joke on Brigg’s joke day? The younger guys need help with that one.

  11. “But I sure understand the slavery of consumerism. I despise the word with its true connotations of greed, avarice, and insatiability. Try it. Say “I am a consumer“, thinking hard about what it means to consume.” – Briggs

    I always think of ‘The Blob’ (an old science fiction film from circa 1960) when I hear that word. If a person’s primary purpose in life is to just consume, then they are just as mindless and ugly as the monster that appeared in that film.

  12. “Would turning somebody into an environmentalist make them more or less likely to embrace Christianity? How about a vegetarian or even, God help us, a vegan? How about just a more caring person?” – Briggs

    Yes, I can’t stand vegans either. They are just so pompous, preachy, arrogant, condescending, and have such a highly developed holier-than-thou attitude, much like… the vast, overwhelming majority of self-proclaimed Christians.

    Yes, where is JMJ? It’s not as much fun without him, although I still have Sheri to pick on 🙂

  13. Sorry, Peter A., I have a far away appointment and will be away from the computer for a while. (Longer if that nasty snow keeps falling and causing road closures). 🙁

  14. Oh, and being the lousy consumer I am, I have no smart phone (only a flip-phone), no tablet and no laptop. I will be officially unplugged.

  15. Oh no! 🙁

    I don’t have a ‘smart’ phone either, or even an internet connection (I use a public computer to access sites like this). I just don’t understand the need so many seem to have to ‘possess’ things. So illogical.

  16. I see among Catholic conservatives just how Catholic they really are these days.

    JMJ

  17. Briggs

    February 7, 2016 at 9:46 am

    JMJ,

    Huh. Do tell. How do you measure a man’s Catholicness?

    Here’s something interesting for you.

  18. Milton Hathaway

    February 7, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    From my admittedly limited observations, Catholics seem particularly susceptible to falling into the ‘Jesus was a socialist’ trap. Perhaps this derives from a belief that the path to heaven is paved with good works?

    Paraphrasing the great Walter Williams, we would never entertain the thought of collecting money from our neighbors at gunpoint, but we’ll vote people into office to do it for us; either way it’s still simple theft.

  19. Milton, what? You understand neither Christ nor socialism. It isn’t ‘theft’, that’s a n unbelievably stupid thing to claim. The early Christians WERE socialists: they preached it, they practiced it, and they would not have done so had not socialism been endorsed by Christ himself.

  20. The early Christians WERE socialists: they preached it, they practiced it, and they would not have done so had not socialism been endorsed by Christ himself.

    I can’t seem to find the part in the Gospels where Christ told his followers to invoke the coercive power of the state to force non-believers to go along with the program. Can you cite the chapter and verse where he said such a thing?

  21. “I can’t seem to find the part in the Gospels where Christ told his followers to invoke the coercive power of the state to force non-believers to go along with the program.” – Geezer

    That’s NOT socialism! Why do so many, especially Americans, believe it involves coercion by the state? Is it the taxation issue they like to complain about, believing (naively) that the governments of capitalist countries don’t tax their citizens, or that they shouldn’t pay any tax at all because they just don’t want to? There are many things we have to do in life that, in our opinion, we perhaps would rather not (like work for a living, or break the speed limit). Rules exist for a reason, that’s how society works. If you think that’s ‘coercion’, then you are seriously misguided.

  22. Socialism is a variety of social and economic systems characterised by social ownership and democratic control of the means of production;[7] as well as the political ideologies, theories, and movements that aim at their establishment. (Wiki)

    “a way of organizing a society in which major industries are owned and controlled by the government rather than by individual people and companies” (Merriam Webster)

    The definitions of socialism are government control of most everything and no personal property rights. Some argue the government does not have to control the system, but someone does have to monitor for “fairness and equality”, be the government or just a group of guys. Americans don’t see the government as a “benevolent mother” like other countries may. They see the government as being closer to nature, who is indeed a mother. Voluntary sharing is a cooperative or a kubbutz type arrangement, which is what Christians engaged in at times. Its was always voluntary. However, lying about selling something and not sharing the money was a sin and some were punished. They did have to share, they had to be honest.

    People object to taxation because it pays for inflated welfare policies, is given out to pals of the Pres and senate, etc. Most Americans understand there has to be some taxation, for roads, for the military, to pay government officials such as President, Congress and SCOTUS. Anything beyond that is where the problem lies. Workers get tired of working so others can sit at home watching Jerry Springer (like my lazy neighbor does). People are tired of their money making companies richer and richer and politicians richer and richer as the actual workers get poorer and poorer. No one is advocating anarchy, except maybe a few radicals. Few want no government. Many want less. The idea that one needs a “mommy” in the government is not popular in a country that dumped it’s “mommy” in 1776 and managed quite well thereafter. They did not come here for a new “mommy”. Many Americans do view a socialist country as a “mommy” dividing up the spoils of labor. It’s kind of like SOMA in Brave New World—those who lived with it forever did not overdose. Those who did not, did not have the control so they overdosed. Americans are keen on people overdosing on handouts. Perhaps, those in European countries are not. I also find that those getting the handouts tend to be the biggest fans of the system.

    In fairness, there are no truly socialist or capitalist states. Economies may lean in one direction or another, but purity does not exist. Also, I wonder why it is that outsiders are so convinced America is wrong in capitalism? I personally don’t care if Europe wants to be socialist. I don’t live there. Nor Russia nor Saudi Arabia, etc., so I don’t care what form of government they have. I may use it as a comparison to what I see here in making the argument that capitalism is preferable, but I really don’t care how others govern their own lives. (Unlike our pain in the behind Pres that was trying to influence an eleciton in Isreal. I did not vote for him. ) Or do you really not care and are just curious?

  23. That’s NOT socialism! Why do so many, especially Americans, believe it involves coercion by the state? . . . If you think that’s ‘coercion’, then you are seriously misguided.

    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

    That might work for Humpty and Peter, but most of the rest of us prefer to rely on “common usage” — which is what dictionaries report.

    Here’s what the lexicographers at Merriam-Webster have to say about socialism:
    1 : any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods
    2a : a system of society or group living in which there is no private property
    b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state
    3 : a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done

    Here’s what the lexicographers at Dictionary.com have to say about coercion:
    1. the act of coercing; use of force or intimidation to obtain compliance.
    2. force or the power to use force in gaining compliance, as by a government or police force.

    If I am “seriously misguided” about the meanings of those words, I seem to be in good company.

  24. anti-consumerism just means anti-middle class

  25. Geezer, your insults do not impress, and I still see no ‘coercion’ here. Yes, the government, whichever government that may happen to be, should control the means of production. Who in their right mind could possibly disagree with something so sensible?

    There are many different definitions of socialism that one can find, and even the definition you give above is rather imprecise (“1: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership…”). Collective ownership is an aspect of socialism, yes, but ‘coercion’ is not. I do not see that word in the definition you yourself give above. Why not?

    Yes, you are seriously misguided, because you criticise something you clearly do not understand in a public arena. Aren’t you embarrassed?

  26. peppermint: It usually means “I’m lazy and don’t want to get a real job, so I’ll call consumerism bad and I’ll be taking the moral high ground, not being a lazy creep”.

    Peter A: Anyone in their right mind would disagree that the freaking greedy government should control the means of production. Only the lazy, parasitic people feel differently because they are looking for a free handout.

    Socialism IS NOT voluntary in most cases. You can lie or redefine words all you want. Reality will not change.

    If you’re not embarrassed by your complete lack of contact with reality and the endorsement of government coercion and lazy people bleeding dry the producing ones, why would anyone be embarrassed? If being a leech is something to be proud of and saying you’re incapable of running your own life is a moral plus (Note: That particular path is a religious one, by the way. You just worship the government.) why would anyone be embarrassed by their beliefs? I can’t any reason at all.

    There are many different definitions of government, but you insist on using the one that implies no coercion and benign control. Stop that. It’s WRONG, or at least as wrong and stupid as insisting socialism is voluntary. Many governments are evil and cruel, dictatorships that crush their subjects. If you persist in calling socialism volutary, it may be necessary to persist in calling the government your mommy and mocking your complete lack of ambition and your love of theft and derision of those who support you. By the way, that’s not an insult. It’s by definition and you seem to feel free to define words any way you want, so everyone else, in keeping with your socialist love, are allowed to do exactly the same thing.

  27. Aren’t you embarrassed?

    I am indeed.

    I have heard it said that, in this day and age, it is often difficult to distinguish reality from parody. Peter A. has done an excellent job of portraying over-the-top stupidity.

  28. “It usually means “I’m lazy and don’t want to get a real job, so I’ll call consumerism bad and I’ll be taking the moral high ground, not being a lazy creep”.” – Sheri

    And there we have it – the complete lack of understanding that those who like to whine about socialism have, because they believe the odious cliches perpetrated by the mainstream media (controlled by the rich – gee, what a coincidence) that those who are not currently employed are just ‘lazy’. No, life is never this simple, so clear cut and black and white.

  29. Geezer, point to a single thing that I have said that is actually ‘stupid’. Everything I say is completely accurate, and you know it.

  30. “Anyone in their right mind would disagree that the freaking greedy government should control the means of production. Only the lazy, parasitic people feel differently because they are looking for a free handout.” – Sheri

    A bloody lie! God, some people believe rubbish! Do you know who the real parasites are? The people in positions of power who believe it is their god-given right to cheat the working class, hide their ill-gotten gains in tax havens, and who like to complain about ‘wealth redistribution’ when laws come into effect that actually protect workers from exploitation, but when laws are introduced that benefit them then they say that this is just!

    THEY are the parasites!

  31. point to a single thing that I have said that is actually ‘stupid’

    I meant it as a compliment to a brilliant satirist.

    Go Bernie!

  32. Peter A: Government worshipper indeed. You do have a God and his name is Government and he is to punish all who achieve. Most losers have that God and worship him. Not surpassing to find another such believer. In the secular world of psychology, that’s known as rationalization. You can’t be a loser and it can’t be your fault, so it must be someone else’s fault. It’s kept people enslaved for centuries. It’s actually quite widespread, though it would be nice if people would just honestly say they’re losers and need a Mommy and stop saying religion is bad because it enslaves people. You chose your enslaver. Sadly, Government as God is far less voluntary than religion, so you are in favor of enslaving people in your religion, again, very, very common in those who will never take personal responsibility for their own failings. It’s quite interesting how those who claim to be victims are actually the aggressors and the takers of freedom, demanding all fail because they did. That’s more evil than most classical religions.

  33. By the way, life is black and white. There are winners and there are losers. Deal with it and stop blaming everyone else for your failings. There’s a great book out on this “Shut Up, Stop Whining and get a life” by Larry Winget. It covers all that class envy worship progressives seem to treasure.

    (Oh, and yes, go Bernie. Bernie, whose wife made $200,000 as a college administrator. His net worth is estimated at $500,000 which makes him rich by most standards. And he’s drawing Social Security, both he and his wife. Go Bern. Show America what poverty looks like.)

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