Can Catholics Comprehend Cryptocurrency?

I’m typically a late adopter when it comes to technology.

Odd, since I’m a technologist and full-time software engineer.

But I was one of the last people in my set to get a smartphone or an Instagram account (which I don’t use).

But with cryptocurrency, I’ve decided to become an early adopter. This post is all about Bitcoin and blockchain and cryptocurrency, and how it relates to us as Catholics.

The Bitcoin

Bitcoin is a virtual currency, with a limited supply, secured and tracked through a peer-to-peer network of computers around the world. You can watch a video explaining more details here.

What makes it special is that no central organization controls it, yet by using cryptographic algorithms it is unhackable and also ensures that no one can double spend the same virtual bitcoin twice at the same time.

For Americans and others whose governments and currencies have been mostly stable, bitcoin sounds like a solution in search of a problem, but in countries with runaway hyper-inflation like Venezuela, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, bitcoin represents a store of value that is much less volatile and uncertain than their own national currencies.

Other Cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin and its associated technology, the blockchain, which is the public, immutable ledger of all the transactions that have ever taken place, has given rise to tens of thousands of other crytpocurrencies.

Many of these are forks of the bitcoin codebase, with a few of the parameters tweaked. Others are completely different systems that share only the idea of a decentralized, immutable ledger.

Ethereum is the second biggest cryptocurrency, and its claim to fame is the ability to write “smart contract” code that runs on the Ethereum network of computers. These smart contracts are programs that can enforce rules between two or more parties, allowing the exchange of digital goods, the minting of new kinds of cryptocurrency tokens, and the tracking of ownership of real world goods.

If you want to see a list of the top cryptocurrencies, their prices, market cap, and more, check out this site.

What Should a Catholic Think?

At first glance, bitcoin and other cryptos, being decentralized systems, would seem to be opposed by design against the Catholic Church as the most centralized organization in the world.

But in fact, this is not the case. The Catholic Church operates on the principle of subsidiarity, which means a problem should be addressed at the most local level possible. That might be person-to-person, or at the family level, the neighborhood, the community, the town, the parish, the diocese, or the global level (e.g. United Nations, the Pope, etc.).

Therefore, the Catholic Church can benefit from cryptocurrency technology without fearing any existential threat to itself. Catholics should be encouraged to make use of all the technology at their disposal to do good with it. Yes, technology can be used for evil, and of course it has been many times, but it can also be harnessed for good.

So Catholics have been getting into cryptocurrency, albeit at a relatively slow adoption pace. A few Catholics doing crypto are:

Brantly wrote an excellent introductory article about crypto for ChurchPOP a few years ago, yet the comments were anything but favorable:

One person opines this could be the anti-Christ’s world currency. (I’d say they’ve read a bit too many Protestant Left Behind series novels.)

Another commenter discounts Bitcoin as a fad peddled by traders and geeky-feeling people, which is valueless because no sovereign country guarantees it, and further claims the blockchain is hackable.

In brief response, whether it is a fad or not remains to be seen, but its demise has been predicted many times thus far, and each time it has resiliently bounced back.

Sovereign governments guarantee their fiat currencies, yet the market has revealed in many cases that their guarantee is worthless (see Venezuela for a recent example), so government backing is not in itself a sufficient requirement for trust. Finally, bitcoin has not been hacked, even though various exchanges have been due to incompetence or negligence.

Finally, someone accuses Bitcoin of being a scam and a ponzi scheme, and then proceeds to shame Brantly for writing the article.

A decentralized currency that no one owns or controls, whose transactions are fully auditable on a public ledger, which has a fixed supply and proven security through open-source code and cryptography, is an unlikely culprit as a ponzi scheme or scam, each of which always relies on central (bad) actors who control the money and technology.

No, it’s not a ponzi scheme, and it is irresponsible to claim that it is. But this type of ignorance is common with cryptocurrency commentators, and I personally excuse the person for spreading fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD). Indeed, FUD is a key aspect among the cryptocurrency movement, and if you engage in the movement you have to be prepared for it.

Where to Find Catholic Cryptocurrency People

What if you want to know more or chat with other Catholics about cryptocurrency?

Here’s a facebook group of Catholic Cryptocurrency people you can request to join.

You can also follow me on Steemit, which is a facebook-like social network for cryptocurrency that is itself fueled by cryptocurrency.

I provide a paid consulting service for people wanting to get into crypto or who need help with some aspect of it. It is a complex world and one goof can cost you a lot of money, so oftentimes you need some guidance from a trusted source.

But How Can It Help the Church?

Cryptocurrency can be used in the service of the Church in many ways. Brantly wrote two years ago about a sacramental registry system. Many other ideas exist, and I have no doubt that we will see some enterprising projects started in the near future that will bring blockchain technology to the Catholic Church.

Got a question or a comment? Leave it below and let’s chat!

The Liberal Sex Abuse Scandal

Beginning with the avalanche of sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein a few months ago, each week has revealed more and more allegations primarily against liberal men in Hollywood and politics.

As women (and men) are encouraged to step forward, we’ve seen the rapid demise of moguls like Matt Lauer, Kevin Spacey, Ben Affleck, Al Franken, Charlie Rose, Russell Simmons, Steven Seagal, Brett Ratner, Dustin Hoffman, James Toback, and Louis C.K.

It’s safe to assume that, ere the year ends, we’ll see another score of popular male actors and politicos accused of sexual assault, abuse, or harassment.

What’s shocking to me about all this is that people are shocked that these revelations are coming out. None of this is surprising. These reprehensible actions are the expected rotten fruit of a society ruled by lust.

From the Church to the Schools to Hollywood

When I entered the Catholic Church in 2001, the sexual abuse scandal was about to break open. I was not surprised or shocked. I knew what men were capable of, and that went for atheist, Protestant, and Catholic.

What surprised me was that people thought that this problem was unique to the Catholic Church. Growing up, my junior high and high school Spanish teacher, an incredibly popular teacher who had taught in the school system for a long time, was eventually accused of abusing students. Rumors had gone around for years but nothing ever came of them. But now the accusations were not being ignored or dismissed, and my old teacher went to his home after school and set it on fire with him inside of it. He burned to death.

A friend of mine has been afraid to have his children go to Catholic school and has been thinking about sending them to the local public schools. I told him that every week my google local newsfeed has stories of abuse, misconduct, and molestation occurring in public schools down the street, in our metro area, and in our state. And these are just the stories that happen to show up in my feed–I don’t even go looking for them to see what more there are. Our chat history just has link after link to news story about the men (and many women!) caught abusing students in the public schools.

My decision for my own family and my recommendations to my friends is: be vigilant, no matter if your children go to public school, private school, co-op school, and no matter which activities they are in. Know that there are predators out there, both sociopathic ones and ones that operate on circumstance.

And now Hollywood stars, directors, and producers are being outed for their lustful, abusive behavior. It’s disgusting, and yet you see the same thing as in all cases: cover-ups, people looking the other way, and people afraid to come forward, until finally the dam has burst and the skeletons are all falling out of the closets.

What Is the Problem? What’s the Solution?

The problem is the Fall of man through sin, and lust as the particular sin.

Conquering porn

How boring, right? Yet it’s the truth. These men were not virtuous. They were not strong in the virtue of purity. They were instead slaves to sin, slaves of their own lust, that seeks to use people as objects for their own pleasure.

Love seeks the good of the other, wills the good of the other.
Love sees the other person as a human being made for their own sake, in God’s image.

Love is self-gift, self-sacrifice, and one can only give what one himself possesses. If a man is not self-mastered, and these men are not, then they cannot love. Bottom line. Sorry, no soup for you, come back one year.

The simple yet difficult solution is to grow in virtue. To be transformed in mind, body, and heart by Jesus Christ. To follow the truth that He has revealed to us in divine revelation, safeguarded and promulgated by the Church.

None of these men have done this. They never learned the self-mastery of chastity, and so they hurt lots of people, mostly women.

There’s Hope

I have now worked with over 600 (mostly Catholic) men through my purity courses. I’m working with many as we speak.

These are men who 1) have acknowledged that lust is wrong, 2) are striving to overcome it in their own lives, and 3) who have chosen to avail themselves of all the graces God wants to give them to conquer this vice.

And yet even for them it is an uphill battle!
Even for them it takes months, years, decades to grow strong in purity.

Yet they are increasing in virtue, in faith, hope, and love, and gaining mastery over themselves, becoming noble men, saints. It is possible. God gives us what we need to do it, but it requires turning away from evil and to good.

These Hollywood liberals ought to try it.

The program they’ve been following has failed utterly. In fact it has produced the opposite result: women have been victimized by the very men who supposedly knew better, who supposedly championed their rights. It was hypocritical hogwash of the worst kind perpetrated by these guys.

The solution is to change programs. Follow the program of Jesus Christ, where women are created in God’s image to be cherished, respected, and sacrificed for by virtuous men. Imagine if every man chose virtue tomorrow: no more assaults, no more abuse, no more painful wounds inflicted by selfish men!

So each day I’ll watch the news stories confirm all of this. I’ll watch the shock on female hosts’ faces as their male former colleagues get canned and come out with half-hearted, legal-squirming “apologies”.

And I’ll keep striving to help men grow, one at a time, in the virtue of holy purity.