Thursday, March 28, 2013

Shroud dates from 1st century: New study - CathNews


This makes its compatible with the tradition which claims that the cloth with the image of the crucified man imprinted on it is the very one Jesus’ body was wrapped in when he was taken off the cross. The news will be published in a book by Giulio Fanti, professor of mechanical and thermal measurement at the University of Padua’s Engineering Faculty, and journalist Saverio Gaeta, out tomorrow. “Il Mistero della Sindone” (The Mystery of the Shroud) is edited by Rizzoli (240 pp, 18 Euro).

What’s new about this book are Fanti’s recent findings, which are also about to be published in a specialist magazine and assessed by a scientific committee. The research includes three new tests, two chemical ones and one mechanical one. The first two were carried out with an FT-IR system, so using infra-red light, and the other using Raman spectroscopy. The third was a multi-parametric mechanical test based on five different mechanical parameters linked to the voltage of the wire.

The new tests carried out in the University of Padua labs were carried out by a number of university professors from various Italian universities and agree that the Shroud dates back to the period when Jesus Christ was crucified in Jerusalem.

Final results show that the Shroud fibres examined produced the following dates, all of which are 95% certain and centuries away from the medieval dating obtained with Carbon-14 testing in 1988: the dates given to the Shroud after FT-IR testing, is 300 BC ±400, 200 BC ±500 after Raman testing and 400 AD ±400 after multi-parametric mechanical testing.

The average of all three dates is 33 BC ±250 years. The book’s authors observed that the uncertainty of this date is less than the single uncertainties and the date is compatible with the historic date of Jesus’ death on the cross, which historians claim occurred in 30 AD.

Shroud dates from 1st century: New study - CathNews

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Wrong March for Marriage

Written by John Horvat II
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The Wrong March for Marriage

As the Supreme Court deliberated upon the same-sex “marriage” issue this March 26, two groups of protesters converged upon Washington to make their views known. Among the many present on the pro-family side was a large contingent from the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP), the youth of the Saint Louis de Montfort Academy and the TFP marching band.

If the national media are to be believed, the two demonstrations should have been a classic clash of cultures. On one side—supposedly on the side of history, one would expect to find a numerous throng composed of “oppressed” racial and other minorities, civil rights activists and youth. On the other, expect to find an entrenched minority, the rich and the upscale establishment intent upon holding on to power.

This clash did not take place. In fact, anyone who approached the pro-family March for Marriage might conclude that this was the wrong march. Something was seriously wrong with the media script. It seems all the people the media say should be supporting same-sex marriage are on the pro-family side.

To begin with, just look at the numbers. The pro-marriage throng of well over five thousand clearly outnumbered the 500 or so same-sex “marriage” advocates that lined the sidewalk near the Supreme Court. The pro-homosexual tide that supposedly has turned did not turn up.

The next striking impression of the pro-marriage crowd was its diversity. There were huge numbers of African Americans who stood for marriage and felt insulted that some sought to equate marriage “equality” to civil rights. There were Hispanics and other ethnic “oppressed” minorities who came out in large numbers dispelling the idea that this bloc is a natural ally of the same-sex “marriage” crowd.

And the youth? Plenty of youths of all ages and races. Students, teenagers, boys, girls, infants all were well represented and gave a refreshing tone to the whole affair and indicating that traditional marriage has a future.

Mainstream America was also present as people from all over the country travelled incredible distances to be present. One could find families of all ages and people from all walks of life who felt the need to be present to defend marriage. The throng at the March for Marriage was truly a cross section of the nation. The group reflected profoundly religious and vast sectors of the American public who see this development as a sin and affront to God. The atmosphere at the march was calm, prayerful and orderly.

On the other side, the contrary was true. The media can spin it any way they wish but the pro-same-sex “marriage” group could not claim the same diversity. This group was predominately white, upscale and twenty or thirty-something in age—hardly mainstream. There were few children or families present. The crowd included some university students, celebrities from the liberal establishment or those who have taken to the latest trend of showing how spineless they are by changing (or “evolving”) their principles on marriage because “everyone else is doing it.”

Most disturbing about this mob was their irreverent attitude toward what America holds sacred. They were aggressive, angry and in-your-face. Some jumped the police line separating the two groups mixed in the pro-family crowd and engaged in behavior which was provocative. Some of their signs made religious references that were clearly blasphemous and offensive to Christians. When the  National Anthem was played by the TFP marching band, the pro-same-sex “marriage” demonstrators did not stop to show respect for the flag flying before them but only screamed their slogans all the louder at the pro-family marchers. One demonstrator showed his “tolerance” by destroying a pro-marriage sign.

This was definitely a clash of cultures on the steps of the Supreme Court. But the media got the scripting and the casting all wrong. In this particular case, the same old liberal establishment came out for same-sex “marriage” as they always do. Likewise, mainstream America turned out for God and family—and, despite setbacks, are on the winning side of history.
The Wrong March for Marriage

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Bottom Line on Marriage

Written by John Horvat II
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The Bottom Line on Marriage
  There are those who claim that the notion of traditional marriage should be “redefined.” In fact, the Supreme Court is now considering the future of marriage in this country. Those who advocate “redefining” marriage fail to understand that we do so at great risk.

There are plenty of moral arguments that deal with the need to defend traditional marriage. However, many refuse to recognize the existence of an objective morality.

To read the full article, click below:
The Bottom Line on Marriage

Friday, March 22, 2013

When Men Calmly Carried Out Their Trades

 Written by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
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When Men Calmly Carried Out Their Trades
In the placid waters of this canal of the Belgian city of Ghent, the facades of some buildings typical of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance have been reflected for centuries. These buildings create a singular architectural impression of balance because of the harmonious contrast between their imposing, serious and solid mass, and the rich, varied and almost dreamlike decoration on their facades.

What was the original use of these buildings, which are so recollected that we would call them almost pensive? Were they the houses of patricians? Study centers? No. They were used by trade associations. On the far right can be seen the corporate headquarters of the Free Boatmen. Next is the center for Grain Measurers and a small Customs building where medieval merchants came to declare their goods. Then comes the Barn, and finally the offices of the Guild of Bricklayers.

Guild offices in Ghent, Belgium
Thus, these were buildings for work and business. And history tells us that a most intense and productive trade went on inside them.

However, at that time, economic production was still not affected by today’s materialistic influences. Work took place in an atmosphere of calmness, thought and fine taste, and not in the feverish, frantic, thoughtless and proletarian atmosphere that so often marks our days. Who could suspect so much nobility and good taste in these bourgeois buildings destined for guild work?

This is not a matter of taste but rather a question of mentality. According to a conception of life that gives value to spiritual things, the best course of human action is guided by the mind. Thus the quality and even the quantity of economic output is best when it takes place in a calm atmosphere without idleness and with meditative recollection.

On the other hand, the materialist conception values quantity over quality; body over soul; agitation over reflection; and nervous hyperexcitement over authentic thought. That is why we see the vibrant atmosphere of certain stock markets or large modern thoroughfares.

*          *          *

A climate of hyperexcitement reflected its cause: the agitation inside man. The image of the businessman that chews gum, chomps on his cigars, perhaps bites his nails, stomps his feet on the ground, is known to all. He is hyperactive, cardiac, and neurotic.
Rembrandt: “The Syndics of the Cloth Merchants’ Guild”
It was men like these who working in tranquility, and we would almost say recollection, extended their network of activities in all directions and laid the foundations of modern trade.

How different are the placid, stable, dignified, prosperous and intelligent-looking merchants in the admirable painting from the brush of Rembrandt: “The Syndics of the Cloth Merchants’ Guild.”

It was men like these who, with the communications media still uncertain and slow, extended their network of activities in all directions and laid the foundations of modern trade. However, their work took place in tranquility, and we would almost say recollection. They also reflect the particular atmosphere of the old buildings that we analyze.

This is a fecund lesson for our poor world, increasingly ravaged by neuroses.

Originally published in Catolicismo, No. 92 - August 1958, in the series “Ambiences, Customs, Civilizations.” It has been translated and adapted for publication without the author’s revision. –Ed.

When Men Calmly Carried Out Their Trades

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Holland Discusses 'Group Marriage' as Next Step

The politician who masterminded the gay marriage campaign in Holland says that “group marriage” is now being discussed in the country.

Boris Dittrich, a former Dutch politician, gave a video interview about how he successfully introduced gay marriage. He said, “There is now a discussion in the Netherlands that sometimes people want to marry with three people and maybe even more.

“But that’s the beginning of something completely new and that will take a lot of years I guess.”
Dittrich was speaking to a French gay news agency, and he revealed that he softened public opinion to gay marriage by first introducing registered partnerships.

He said, “We thought it might be psychologically better to first introduce registered partnerships."
It was a good decision, he said, because people got used to legally recognized gay unions and called them gay marriages.

The next logical step was to introduce full gay marriage by law, he said. Now he admits there are discussions about marriage for more than two people.
 For more, click below
Holland Discusses 'Group Marriage' as Next Step

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

True Joy

Written by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
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True Joy

We must serve God with joy and communicate this joy in doing holy things. Saint Thomas Aquinas named this weariness for holy things and the subsequent sadness of living in the service of God, acedia, which means weariness and lack of joy and desire for things.

Today, joy is only seen in the things of the world.  People no longer find joy in virtue and serving Our Lord. Along with the saints, we are called by God to communicate this joy, which is not the giddy joy of a gag or a joke. This is the joy without silly jokes, joy without being a clown. It is the joy of seriousness, which is the highest and noblest of all joys.

The preceding article is taken from an informal lecture  of Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira. It has been translated and adapted for publication without his revision. –Ed.

True Joy

Monday, March 18, 2013

American TFP Sends Filial Letter to Pope Francis I

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American TFP Sends Filial Letter to Pope Francis

Following the election by the cardinals in Rome of the new Pontiff, Francis I, the American TFP sent His Holiness a letter beseeching Divine Providence to protect his ascension to the Papal throne, as well as thousands of petitions gathered during the conclave.

Letter of American TFP to Pope Francis I

March 15, 2013


His Holiness Pope Francis I
Apostolic Palace
Via del Pellegrino
Citta del Vaticano
Vatican City State, 00120

Most Holy Father:

Kneeling before Your Holiness, the directors and members of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property—TFP ask Divine Providence to protect your ascension to the Papal throne.

In the days leading up to the conclave, we launched the attached “Filial and Reverent Message to the Unknown Pope” and were able to collect 11,163 signatures on this petition which expresses our hopes and concerns in these difficult days.

May the Most Blessed Virgin obtain for Your Holiness most privileged graces and Her maternal protection in the arduous responsibility of feeding the flock of Her Divine Son, and may your pontificate bring with it a great return to the Faith and a glorious restoration of Christian civilization.

Assuring Your Holiness of the American TFP’s most filial devotion, and on behalf of all its directors and members, I humbly and respectfully request the Apostolic Blessing.

In Jesus and Mary,

Raymond E. Drake

American TFP Sends Filial Letter to Pope Francis I

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Holy Spirit and the Next Conclave

Written by Roberto de Mattei
The Holy Spirit and the Next Conclave
The eyes of the whole world — not just Catholics — are turned to St. Peter’s in Rome, wondering who will be the new Vicar of Christ. This time, after a series of shocking and confusing events, the expectation that precedes every conclave is sharper and more intense.

Massimo Franco writes in Corriere della Sera of February 27, 2013 that, “what is happening inside the Vatican City is the end of a model of governance and of a concept of the Papacy.” He compares the difficulties the Church is undergoing to the final phase of the crisis in the Soviet Kremlin. “The decline of the Vatican Empire,” he writes, “follows those of the United States and the European Union in economic and demographic crises. It shows a centralized model of the Papacy and ecclesiastical government being challenged by a fragmented and decentralized reality.” Thus, the crisis of the Vatican Empire is presented as the crisis of a model of the Papacy and ecclesiastical government which are deemed inadequate for the twenty-first century. And, supposedly, the only way out would be a process of “self-reform” that would save the institution, but distort its essence.

In reality, what is in crisis is not the “monocratic” form of government proper to Church tradition, but the system of government created by the post-conciliar reforms, which over the last fifty years have expropriated the Papacy’s sovereign authority and redistributed power to bishops’ conferences and to an all-powerful Secretariat of State. Above all, Benedict XVI and his predecessor, though very different in temperament, became victims of the myth of collegiality in government — in which they sincerely believed — and, as a result, they failed to assume many responsibilities whose exercise could have solved the problem of the Church’s seeming unmanageability. The perennial relevance of the Papacy resides in the charisma which is proper to it: the primacy of government over the universal Church, whose decisive expression is the infallible Magisterium.

Some say that Benedict XVI has not properly exercised his governing authority because he is a meek and mild man, without the character or physical strength to cope with this grave situation of unmanageability. And, they continue, the Holy Spirit has infallibly enlightened him, suggesting that he make the supreme sacrifice of resigning the Papacy in order to save the Church. Such people fail to realize, however, how this claim humanizes and secularizes the figure of the Supreme Pontiff. The government of the Church is not based on a man’s character, but on his correspondence to the Holy Spirit’s divine assistance.
Blessed Pope Pius IX
Blessed Pius IX corresponded more perfectly to grace, and ascended to the heights of sanctity, by heroically exercising the papal government.

The Papacy has been occupied by men with an imperious and warlike character like Julius II, and a mild and amiable temperament such as Pius IX, but it was Blessed Pius IX and not Julius II who corresponded more perfectly to grace, and ascended to the heights of sanctity, by heroically exercising the papal government. The idea that a weak and tired Pope should resign is not supernatural, but naturalistic, for it denies the decisive help that the Holy Spirit provides to the Pope — an assistance that was improperly invoked above. Naturalism transforms this point into its opposite: a fideism of a pietist nature, whereby the Holy Spirit’s intervention absorbs human nature, and becomes a regenerating factor in the life of the Church. These are ancient heresies, and they are re-emerging now, even in more conservative circles.

The increasingly popular error is to try to justify every decision taken by a Pope, a Council or a bishops’ conference based on the principle that “the Holy Spirit always assists the Church.” Certainly, the Church is indefectible because — thanks to the assistance of the Holy Spirit, the “Spirit of Truth” (Jn 14:17) — she has received from Her Founder the guarantee of perseverance until the end of time, in the profession of the same faith, the same sacraments, and the same apostolic succession in government. However, indefectibility does not mean that infallibility extends to every act of the Magisterium and government, nor that the supreme ecclesiastical hierarchy is incapable of sin.

In the history of the Church, Pius XII explains, “there has been an alternation of victories and defeats, rises and falls, and heroic confession [of the Faith] with the sacrifice of property and life; but among some of her members there have also been falls, betrayals and divisions. The testimony of history is unambiguously clear: portae inferi non praevalebunt (Mt. 16:18); but others attest to the fact that even the gates of hell have had their partial success” (Speech With All My Heart, Sept. 14, 1956). Despite hell’s seeming and partial successes, the Church is not shaken by persecution, heresies, or by the sins of Her members, but rather draws new strength and vitality from the severe crises that befall Her.

But while we should not become discouraged by errors, falls, and defections, we must not deny them when they occur. Was it, for example, the Holy Spirit who inspired the decision of Clement V and his successors to transfer the seat of the Papacy from Rome to Avignon? All Catholic historians today agree that it was a seriously flawed decision, one that weakened the fourteenth century Papacy, and paved the way for the Great Western Schism.

Was it the Holy Spirit who suggested the election of Alexander VI, a Pope whose conduct before and after his election was profoundly immoral? No theologian, no Catholic could argue that the 23 cardinals who elected the Borgia Pope were enlightened by the Holy Spirit. And if that did not happen in his election, one can imagine that it did not happen either in other elections and conclaves that picked weak and unworthy Popes who were inadequate to their high mission as well. Such events did not diminish the grandeur of the Papacy.
Pope Saint Pius X
The perennial relevance of the Papacy resides in the charisma which is proper to it: the primacy of government over the universal Church, whose decisive expression is the infallible Magisterium.   Photo of Pope Saint Pius X.

The Church is great because she survives the pettiness of men. Thus, an immoral or inadequate Pope may be elected. It may happen that the cardinals in a conclave reject the Holy Spirit’s influence, and the Pope, who is assisted by the Holy Spirit in carrying out his mission, refuses this help. This does not mean that the Holy Spirit is defeated by men or by the devil. God alone is able to bring good out of evil, and thus, Providence guides every event in history. In the case of the conclave, Cardinal Journet explains in his treatise on the Church that what the assistance of the Holy Spirit means is that even if the election were the result of a bad choice, one can be certain that the Holy Spirit, who assists the Church by drawing good even from evil, allows this to happen for superior and mysterious purposes. But the fact that God draws good from the evil done by men, as happened with Adam’s original sin — which brought about the Incarnation of the Word — does not mean that men can do evil without guilt. Every sin must be paid for, either in this life or in the next.

Every man, every nation, every ecclesiastical assembly must correspond to grace, which needs human cooperation to become efficacious. Faced with the process of self-demolition of the Church mentioned by Paul VI, one cannot sit on one’s hands in a state of pseudo-mystical optimism. We must pray and act, each according to his ability, that this crisis comes to an end, so that the Church can visibly display the holiness and beauty that she has never lost, nor will ever lose, till the end of time. (English translation by José A. Schelini.)

*          *          *

About the Author:
Roberto de Mattei teaches Modern History and the History of Christianity at the European University of Rome, where he is Dean of History. He is also president of the Lepanto Foundation. He is the author of many books and publications, including the prize-winning and internationally famed The Second Vatican Council: An Unwritten History. Many of his works have been translated into several languages. He also directs the magazines Radici Cristiane and Nova Historica and the news agency Corrispondenza Romana.

Originally published in Italian by Corrispondenza Romana on March 5, 2013 at:

The Holy Spirit and the Next Conclave

Monday, March 11, 2013

The 10 Answers about True Marriage that USA Today Never Published

by John Ritchie   
Truth under fire

Recently, a collegiate correspondent for USA Today contacted TFP Student Action for an interview.  The young reporter asked ten questions about DOMA and the same-sex "marriage" debate.  She wrote:  "Please return them [answers] back to me by the end of the day so I can include your perspective in the article."

Sure.  So within a few hours, TFP Student Action answered the ten questions.  Well, guess how many answers were published?

None.  Nada.  Not even one.

See for yourself here:  Obama’s anti-DOMA brief affecting LGBT discourse

Why is the media unwilling to print opinions that favor traditional marriage?  Why is the liberal media censoring legitimate points of view that oppose the homosexual agenda's frenzied push to radically redefine marriage?

For the record, here are the answers that USA Today never published.

1. What was your reaction to the news that Obama encouraged a knock down of the Defense of Marriage Act?
I wasn't overly surprised.  But it's really sad when the President uses his authority to undermine the only true definition of marriage -- the union of one man and one woman -- the way God made it.

2. How do you think the Supreme Court will respond to Obama's brief?
I sure hope that the political pressure that is currently being put on the Supreme Court justices won't impair their ability and duty to serve the common good.  In this case, the common good is served best by protecting marriage and the Supreme Court has a moral obligation to do what is right.

3. What do you think is the importance of DOMA as a legal doctrine?
DOMA recognizes a self-evident reality:  that marriage is between one man and one woman.  Given that the institution of marriage is under attack, DOMA is a law should be upheld.

4. How do you think a knock down of DOMA would affect the younger generation in America?
If DOMA is actually knocked down, it would only increase the moral drift that our younger generation now experiences.  It would uproot the anchors that keep the family intact and together.

5. How has Obama's support for gay marriage changed your opinion of his presidency?
No, because most left-leaning governments that follow socialistic platforms seem to push for the radical redefinition of marriage.

6. Some gay rights advocates believe this action could lead to a federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage. To what extent do you think this is the next step in the process?
In most states, whenever the issue is put to a vote, Americans choose to protect the definition of marriage between one man and one woman.  The homosexual movement loses at the ballot box.  That's why they prefer to push for a federal decision where public opinion is shut out of the process.  If the Supreme Court imposes same-sex "marriage," it will be a Roe v Wade moment.  It will tear the nation in half.

7. Looking forward, how do you think this brief will change the national conversation about gay marriage?

The conversation should focus on what's best for the country.  Since the beginning of time, marriage has been the foundation of every healthy society.  The last time I checked, children still need a mom and a dad.  And same-sex unions are always sterile. That will never change.

8. Overall, how do you think legalization of same-sex marriage will be affected by Obama's action?
Nobody has the power to change nature.  That's why same-sex "marriage" is not marriage.  Calling it marriage doesn't make it marriage.  So it's not inevitable.

9. How do you see the general evolution of marriage equality changing in the next five or so years?
Opinions come and go, but marriage is an institution that doesn't evolve.  It's doesn't change.

10. Is there anything else you'd like to add that I didn't ask?
The future of America depends on the unity of the family.  If we give up on the meaning of marriage, which is naturally connected to procreation, we dismantle the most precious foundation of society.  We destroy the glue that keeps society together.

The 10 Answers about True Marriage that USA Today Never Published

Monday, March 4, 2013

A Reverent and Filial Petition to the Next Pope

A Reverent and Filial Petition to the Next Pope

After Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation, Catholics worldwide are asking: Who will be the next Pope?

This is a reverent and filial petition to the next Pope:

Holy Father, were it not for the promise of Our Lord Jesus Christ that “the gates of hell shall not prevail” against the Church (Matt. 16:18), we could affirm, with sorrow in our hearts, that throughout history, never has the Barque of Peter been tossed around in such a dramatic and universal storm as today’s.

Indeed, the “silent apostasy” of millions within the Church is obvious — as a recent Synod of Bishops verified.

Fundamental truths of the faith such as the resurrection of Christ, the virginity of Mary, the real presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, the existence of Hell, etc. are frivolously challenged even by high-ranking members of the Church hierarchy.

Basic moral principles such as the indissolubility of marriage (and the consequent unlawfulness of remarriage for divorcees), the grave moral deformity of homosexual acts, the monstrous crime of abortion, the stunning cruelty of euthanasia, the immorality of contraceptive devices, etc. are all deemed passé, with many clamoring for their review in light of the new social customs.

The gravity of this picture is compounded by the crisis in the clergy and religious congregations and their vertiginous drop in vocations. This crisis was accentuated by the rebellion of Austrian parish priests — which echoed among priests the world over — and the scandalous revolt of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (U.S.A.) against a just and necessary intervention by Vatican authorities.

To the drama of this internal crisis must be added the aggressions of external enemies. First, the spread of the “secularist tsunami” in Western nations, inducing governments to force the Church and Catholic institutions to become accomplices in countless violations of the Law of God, under the pretext that the State recognizes no law above the people’s sovereignty.

Second, the merciless persecution of Christians in numerous Muslim countries and in those still groaning under Communism, such as China, Vietnam, North Korea and Cuba.

In face of this total opposition to God and His Law in public and private life, can anyone imagine what the world will be like in 20 or 30 years? It will probably be more tragic than the state of mankind at the end of the Roman Empire.

But, just as in the middle of those ruins, a Saint Gregory and a Saint Leo the Great were able to convert the barbarians and lay the foundations for the most beautiful and refined civilization ever known in history — Christian civilization — Your Holiness too can victoriously confront the present and dramatic religious, moral, and social crisis, with the charisma proper to the Vicar of Christ and with the help of Heaven.

That heavenly help and the final victory have already been announced by Our Lady at Fatima when she warned that the world would suffer great punishments and Holy Church would undergo much persecution, while promising that “Finally, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”

Kneeling before Your Holiness, we implore: Do not become enmeshed in the snares of atheist or agnostic secularism. Fight them with confidence in Divine assistance, and millions upon millions of souls will be led back to the right path! Say but a word with your authority as Successor of Saint Peter and the smoke of Satan will be banished from the world and from within Holy Church, as Our Lady promised!

This is the appeal that we, the undersigned Roman Catholic faithful, make to Your Holiness, our still unknown Holy Father, kneeling in spirit before You as our sweet Christ on earth.

A Reverent and Filial Petition to the Next Pope

Friday, March 1, 2013

Cobbler Shop Economics

cobblers I had just bought a pair of shoes at a large shoe outlet and within six months the heels were completely worn down. I lost the receipt and probably would have had a little trouble getting a new pair. So I decided to visit the local cobbler with the shoes and a piece of leather carry-on luggage with a broken latch. I only expected him to fix my things but I also came out with a lesson in economy.

The cobbler shop is just off the main street in a small Pennsylvania town nearby. It is an unassuming building where you can walk in from the sidewalk and the bells on the doors announce your arrival. The cobbler lives in semi-retirement upstairs. He is open on afternoons to any who need his services and to all his friends who just want to come around and talk.

Upon entering, the first thing you see is a counter with an old-fashioned cash register and all sorts of leather products with an order known only to the cobbler himself. There is something warm and familiar about the whole scene, which is permeated by the smell of leather. On one side there are some shelves where you can buy a strange array of unclaimed items. Visible in the back is the workshop and stitching machines where the actual cobbling is done.

cobblerThe cobbler is an older gentleman with a round face who greets me with ease. We exchange some small talk and then enter into the business at hand. I present my shoes and he looks at them and delivers his diagnosis.
“Worn heels, I guess I could put a pair on for you,” he says. He takes out a small square of paper and writes my phone number on it, makes a hole in the paper and threads one of the shoe laces through it. He gives me no receipt to show that he has my shoes. I must trust him, and I do.

He looks at my carry-on with the broken latch. That proves a bit more difficult. He opens up a little cabinet and pulls out some latches. None of them will work. And so he ponders the situation for a while looking at it this way and that.

“Snaps,” he says pensively. “I could put on some snaps.” He shows me how he would attach them to the bag to make it easy to open. We discuss the matter and come to an agreement. I must return some time next week.

Leaving the cobbler shop, I thought a bit about what had just happened not from the point of view of foot ware but from the perspective of the economic studies I have long pursued.

Here was an example of economy without that frenetic intemperance that you find in so many parts of modern markets. There was nothing of that frenzied sense of immediacy where you must have everything right away, regardless of the consequence. I did not sense that machine-like treatment that makes so much of modern economy cold and impersonal, fast and frantic.

Instead, my visit had that human element that made the experience warm and personal. I was a valued customer not a number. He became my cobbler. I appreciated the trust that was the basis of our transaction, and which is so essential for any free market. Above all, there was a notion of honor. You could feel the sense of craftsmanship, quality and pride in his work. He would stand behind his work as he has for decades. He does not need to advertise since he lives off his good reputation.

Some might object that the cobbler is a figure from the past that has no role in modern economy. Today’s markets with their cheap goods have eliminated the need for such professions. When something breaks, just buy another one. There is no demand for cobblers anymore.

And yet I would disagree. At least in my area, people are looking for them. The old cobblers are dying off in the region and the unemployed new generations (anxious perhaps for more exciting careers) no longer want to commit to such a profession. I was told that my cobbler laments the fact that he can find no one to take his place in the face of obvious demand.

I am not suggesting that everyone should run their business like my cobbler. However, I am suggesting that we should return to an order where trust, honor and temperance can once again prevail.

In this sense, I cannot help but think of the economic good my cobbler has done by plying his trade. Without the cobbler, I would have been forced to buy another cheap seventy-dollar pair of shoes made in India and an expensive carry-on leather portfolio from who knows where. Instead, I spent some twenty dollars for the repairs…and the human experience. The whole affair had a calming effect upon me and the economy since it tempers that frenetic desire of buying without restraint or reflection that sooner or later leads to frenzied and failed markets.

That is what I learned from a visit to my cobbler and my accidental lesson in economy. If there were more cobblers and fewer derivative traders, I believe the world would be a calmer and richer place.

Cobbler Shop Economics | Return to OrderReturn to Order