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Interesting site, always a new topic .. good luck in the new 2011. Happy New Year!

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Dear Matt,

Thank you for your comments, which are perspicacious at the very least.

I will surely not do justice to them in this response.

First of all, our understanding of personhood is predicated completely upon the meaning of "person" in Trinitarian dogma. However, I am nervous about the application of hypostasis/ousia to individual/community. I am sure there is a relation, but I do not know if I understand it enough to talk about it.

I think you and I will have to digress in our view of government. I am sure that some social gospel and secularist liberal visionaries wish, through the expansion of the State, that the Church can be replaced. It is probably under this programme of American "disestablishment of the Church that some people may even go so far as to believe the tripe that government can provide a locus for the "communitarian impulse of human nature."

Perhaps some Statists, benighted as they are, believe this. I don't. You don't. And I think most people who have a nodding acquaintance with reality don't. The denizens of liberalism's virtual reality camp can believe this, I'm sure. But I cannot.

Governments cannot create community. Neither can they create civilization.

I do not know what you mean exactly by obedience as "the context of our ontology." Obedience as action? Obedience as belief? Obedience as repentance and prayer? I would rather discuss theosis in the context of ontology, and theoria in the context of epistemology. Or perhaps the other way around.

Well, we are of one accord on Leviathan and its Hydra-like appendages. I have very little patience for doctors who threaten to leave their professions: they who do so prove that they have no "ontological" vocation.

I take your point, with some chagrin, about the fact that the debate is distorted profoundly by the predication upon coverage rather than provision of healthcare.

Thank you for your kindness. It is good to converse long with a symposiast.

Blessings,

Fr. Jonathan

I share your relative unease with freedom as Heideggerian “thrownness,” but not your suspicion and agnosticism regarding discussions of ontology. Is not the Patristic synthesis arrived at through the Trinitarian and Christological controversies instructive to our understanding of the Imago Dei in encompassing conceptually hypostasis and ousia as roughly correlate to the dual nature of the human person as being at once both individual and communitarian? This, it seems to me, brings us to the crux of the issue. The individuality constituent to our nature expresses the singularity and volitional sovereignty that assumes a necessary logical priority over the communitarian. While this point may appear straightaway as being abstruse and irrelevant, it has immense import for a proper understanding of a truly Christian view of the role of government. The delusion we labor under in 21rst Century America is that government can somehow creatively fulfill the communitarian constituent of our nature. In other words, government has displaced God and the Church as the instigator and architect of community. I find the whole idea of community as understood and expressed socially and politically to be an inherent corruption of the word in particular and a degradation of the language in general. In light of the Judeo-Christian origins of the concept, it is impossible for government to create such, as it is inexorably wed to the Covenant that has all the nations of the earth as its end. It is simply something different from, and other than, a social contract. Government cannot create community, it can, at best, create conditions that are propitious for human flourishing. It is a great irony that we are at once social collectivists and cultural individualists, though it should hardly be surprising that duplicity is the rule of the day.
I concur that our thoughts about such things are never a substitute for the simplicity you implore, but I might humbly suggest that our obedience may be the context of our ontology, and our discussions of such, given the dynamism of our life with the Triune God (II Cor. 3:18). This is what makes orthodoxy so “perilous and exciting,” as our friend GK says.
Please know that I am no apologist for the insurance companies. In fact, I tend to sympathize with Teddy Roosevelt’s remonstrations against the whole idea as being un-American, and it is perhaps also destructive of Christian stewardship. I have no love for the “greed is good” crowd either. I happen to believe with George Gilder that free markets are built upon faith and donation rather than greed. But don’t for a second think that we have a choice between the lesser of evils. That is a ruse – big business is itself merely an appendage of Leviathan. Deals are being struck behind closed doors between the two as we carry on this conversation. And of this unholy alliance, no good can come.

As for “good for the poor,” I wish I could bring myself to believe that. The facts simply don’t bear it out. If the current bill passes, millions of the uninsured will be uninsured still. Of those who are given access via the Gov’t option (or Co-op, or whatever they end up with), their baseline coverage will be modeled after the Medicare system. The 2009 Health Insurer Report Card from the American Medical Association reveals that when compared with private insurance companies Medicare has the highest percentage of claim lines denied. In the municipality in which I live, of 300K residents there are only 13 doctors that will even take a new Medicare patient because of low reimbursement rates. In a poll conducted by the largest health care provider in the state, more than 50% of the doctors said that if the bill passed they would consider a career change, or retire. In another national(?) poll conducted by Investor’s Business Daily 45% of doctors said they would consider walking away from their profession. If even a fraction of them actually did, and that was coupled with an influx of 30M or more patients into a primary care system that is already strained, the system could collapse under its own weight.
Let’s not forget that the moral imperative that is being pitched is predicated not upon lack of medical care, but upon lack of insurance coverage. It is already against the law for a hospital to deny treatment through the emergency room. Procedures denied will not be affected by the bill at all(in a positive way); things will go on as they always have.
There are a number of things that chagrin me surrounding the discourse coming out of Washington. The debate has been fundamentally dishonest. The bill was originally pitched under the pretext of skyrocketing health care/insurance costs. Nothing has been done to address the issue. Placing massive new mandates on insurance companies can only result in higher premiums faster. Higher taxes and stiffer penalties on small business (while exempting big business via big labor) are not likely to result in better benefits for most employees. And then there is the spectacle of pretended fiscal responsibility by shifting costs to the States through Medicaid expansions. But enough of that.
I would love to discuss some of your other ruminations, but I won’t inflict any more of my confused ramblings on you now.
Thanks for indulging me; God Bless!

Matt

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