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Clergy were the most important members of medieval society, but they never composed more than ten percent of the population (and often much less). Holy Days, which would include Feast Days and also every Sunday, were more important than ordinary days, but there were only about one hundred holy days each year, compared to over two hundred and sixty ordinary days. Of the ten Commandments in Exodus 20 and again in Deuteronomy 5, three are about our relationship with GOD, but seven are merely human morality.

I went to France two months ago. On May 30th, I landed at the Charles de Gaulle Airport and took a taxi-cab to central Paris. I had jet lag and so was not very sharp at that moment. I looked at my cell phone and then, instead of returning it to my pocket, I laid it down on the seat next to me. When the taxi-cab arrived at my destination, I paid the driver and then exited. About one minute after the taxi-cab drove away, I realized that I had left my cell phone in the car. So, like that, I lost my cell phone.

Medieval thinkers emphasized the fact that human beings are between two levels of being: the material and the spiritual. We are like beasts because we have physical bodies; we are like angels, because we have spiritual souls. C.S. Lewis, who was a great medievalist, wrote that this strange reality is what makes sexual humor amusing: on the one hand, we are noble beings with great thoughts and we can and sometimes do love GOD not only as creatures but even as friends; yet, we are animals who express love and reproduce ourselves in the same way as all other mammals.

The book Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism, by Larry Siedentop, was published only a few weeks ago and already I bought it and read it. It is great because it includes so much. In only 363 pages of text (and about seventy more pages of notes and index), Siedentop explains the ethos of ancient Greco-Roman civilization, how it was affected by early Christianity, and how it developed for a thousand years during the Middle Ages until the early modern period.

A human person is a complex being, and human communities are very complex phenomena. When discussing religion, morality and politics it is necessary to keep this in mind. I write this as a response to what others have recently written about the United States as a “Christian Nation,” and the links between belief in God and ethical behavior. May we all humbly admit that we cannot in a short article or one long letter settle this issue definitively?

I spent Sunday afternoon, after attending Mass, reading a book by the French philosopher Paul Ricoeur. I had already read three other books by him, and I realize that all four of these are thought-provoking, not conclusion-giving. This is as philosophy should be, and it is also the reason why most people dislike philosophy. Most people dislike thinking, so they want simple answers to their questions that would allow them to do what they should, or avoid doing what they should not, without thinking any more about it.

I recently watched the following video on youtube: . By watching this video, I learned that, according to F. Hayek, capitalism created the proletariat, which is what Karl Marx said, except that it did not create the proletariat by reducing otherwise noble men and women to the level of unskilled laborers, rather, capitalism created the proletariat by creating so much wealth that folks who otherwise would have died were able to live. Prior to capitalism, survival was very difficult.

This presentation is not intended as a book report. I intend to use this book Soul, Self, and Society: The New Morality and the Modern State by Edward L. Rubin as a tool to better understand certain aspects of reality which I find interesting. My hope is that y’all agree with me that this is interesting and an intelligent discussion will follow. Throughout this talk I shall intertwine among the statements of the book some of my own thoughts and experiences, and where appropriate I shall mention current events.

“Regarding the act of receiving a salary as reward for an immoral act, the Schoolmen condemned the immoral action itself, but not the salary. They state that prostitutes, for example, sin by disobeying the sixth commandment but not by receiving a price for their services,” (page 109 of Faith and Liberty: The Economic Thought of the Late Scholastics, by Alejandro A. Chafuen, Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2003).

A new phenomenon is taking place in England: obesity shaming. In the United Kingdom, there is socialized health care, meaning that everybody pays for everybody’s medical expenses. Because of this situation, if some folks need expensive medical care they harm everyone else because everyone else must pay for them. Most medical expenses are necessary, so the British people have no animosity against those who need them, but some medical expenses are caused by voluntary unhealthy behavior. One voluntary unhealthy behavior is overeating.