Nice book excerpt by Stefano Zamagni on Christian anthropology v. the technocratic anthropology

I came across this piece by Stefano Zamagni, quoted below, via a piece by Aaron Kheriaty. Can I say that it is interesting to me how overrepresented Christians are when it comes to people offering intelligent opposition to what Zamagni calls the “pandemic phenomenon” (a phenomenon that has now gone far past the mere existence of a disease and so perhaps deserves another name)? And I think that makes sense, because sometimes on a conscious level and (perhaps more often) on an intuitive level, we recognize that the world is operating from assumptions contradicted by our faith.

Zamagni, an Italian graduate student at the Catholic University in America, tries to give words to some of those concerns. Let me give you a couple of quotations to whet your appetite. The first one calls to mind a little bit “I was sick and you visited me”.

Restrictive measures such as a quarantine imposed on all must be judged for what they are: technocracy’s negation of what we are objectively called to be, creatures made to love the other and ultimately to love God.  This is how fear begins to determine relationships, lifestyles, and our whole way of viewing human existence. It is the apotheosis of a post-Christian culture that not only refuses to embrace the leper, but that even refuses to embrace those who are perfectly healthy. Indeed, Christian charity comes to be prohibited by law when the authorities forbid our taking care of the other who is sick, or potentially so. It will take a new Saint Damian who, as a leper, lived among lepers while taking care of them in body as well as in spirit.

Something I’ve said before is that you can’t actually write public health policy without first making judgments about the purpose of human life - it is therefore an inherently religious activity, although the secular world would no doubt scoff at the suggestion. That comes out in an obvious way when churches are labeled “non-essential” but really the whole practice of weighing concerns and regulating human activity is chock full of assumptions about the purpose of life. You can see that in the quotation above. What are we really made for? Just to live? Or to love each other and God? If those two things ever come into conflict (and they will), which gets priority?

Let me give you one more snip as perhaps the best paragraph to summarize his argument. This is part of a discussion about… what do we mean by “salvation”, what is the salvation we should be looking for? How do we reconcile tensions of “particular goods”, for example do we lockdown perhaps to save lives but destroy businesses, or do we stay open to save businesses but perhaps lose lives?

For only the person as a whole can be "saved" in the full sense of the term. It is useless to "save life" (physical life) without at the same time providing for our (spiritual) salvation. True salvation is that which pursues the good of the person as a whole.  The good and the truth of the person, therefore, are never in a relation of antithesis (antagonism). If you look first of all at the person as "whole", the person’s particular goods do not appear in mutual contradiction but rather are saved in their particularity to the extent that they are adequately integrated with one another. The whole precedes and saves the parts. For man who is a creature, this whole is ultimately God to whom he opens himself through the whole that is the community of men. God alone is the supreme good of man; and by analogy is as all-encompassing as that common good towards which politics rightfully tends and to which it opens while seeking a unity that takes into consideration the various social, economic and health aspects of the human good. The reference to a genuine theological anthropology, then, is not merely one ‘option’ among many, but is, to the contrary, a necessity so that the various disciplines can truly work for the salvation of man within the polis.

I could say more, but mainly I just wanted a post to point people toward Zamagni’s original post, give it a read.