" He is right that many Americans who call themselves Christians and who attend Christian worship services do not live their lives based on the Beatitudes. And then Kavanaugh also says "Nietzsche seems to have understood the Sermon on the Mount better than many Christians." Well wait a minute. If Nietzsche found the Sermon on the Mount "scandalous," and attacked it as "demeaning of the will to power," how can that be construed as understanding it better than many Christians?
To even bring Nietzsche into a discussion about "The Alternative Kingdom" is ludicrous. In Nietzsche's the Birth of Tragedy (p. 23) he says the "Christianity was from the beginning, essentially and fundamentally, life's nausea and disgust with life, merely concealed behind, masked by, dressed up as, faith in 'another' or 'better' life." In his essay, Human, all too Human, Nietzsche denounces the Christian idea of "...sins perpetrated against a god, atoned for by a god" and argues against "...fear of a beyond to which death is the portal." Perhaps Kavanaugh was bringing Nietzsche into this discussion for the sake of contrast, but in any event, it was a confusing analysis that easily can be disagreeable in the eyes of an objective person.
Meanwhile, whether or not Christ intended for the Beatitudes (Sermon on the Mount) to be interpreted literally or not, these themes are poetic, beautiful, and meaningful. He may have meant the Beatitudes in order to present ideas to live by with the highest possible spiritual standards, that only holy people would possibly aspire to, but Kavanaugh does not spell that out. But of course the Beatitudes do not fit very well into the American consciousness at this moment in history. It makes it very hard to live a Christian life and also at the same time follow the paths of the government of the United States. That is, to be a "true patriot" according to the definition of patriotism expounded by the executive branch of the U.S. Government, one has to support the ongoing slaughter in Iraq, a conflict which at this point has no particular battle lines, has very little justification based on the initial explanations of why America is invading Iraq, and one should support the torture of prisoners taken during wartime actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. So it is clear, one can't be a Christian and a patriot at the same time.
For example, the executive branch of the U.S. government criticizes peacemakers - the very people that Jesus Christ blessed in the Beatitudes - who wish to end the unwinnable war in Iraq; those "peacemakers" are characterized as giving aid and comfort to the enemy. During the last election cycle for the U.S. Congress, in 2006, the president of the U.S. went out and campaigned on the theme that those calling for an end to the killing in Iraq are on the side of the terrorists. That is an unfair and un-Christian-like attack on peaceful people. The terrorist attacks in the U.S. And elsewhere all happened many years after Kavanaugh wrote this book (published in 1984), so he can't be held accountable for the un-Christian activities of the executive branch.
But Kavanaugh can be held accountable for his statement on page 73 that Christians "rail against abortion, the use of contraceptives, and premarital sex as 'un-Christian'...even though nothing in the Scriptures can be found to condemn them..." But in a parenthetical aside, after saying nothing in the Scriptures can be found to condemn abortion, contraceptives and premarital sex (save for the "eye for an eye" and "tooth for a tooth" passage in Matthew 5:38-42), Kavanaugh asserts his right as a Roman Catholic priest to "oppose" those three "activities" on "gospel and traditional grounds." So he says that nothing in the Scriptures specifically prohibits the use of contraception or abortion, but he opposes them anyway. I wonder if today, given the AIDS pandemic (especially in Africa) and the 3,000 to 5,000 who die every day in Africa because they were infected (sexually for the most part) with the HIV virus, if Kavanaugh still opposes contraceptive devices.
Kavanaugh, John Francis. Following Christ in a Consumer Society. New York: Orbis Books,
Nietzsche, Friedrich. Human, All Too Human. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press,