Acton Institute President and Cofounder Rev. Robert A. Sirico spoke with Neil Cavuto this afternoon on Fox News Channel, discussing recent polling data indicating that our culture’s skepticism toward political leaders has grown once again. You can check out the interview below.
Holy Week gives us an excellent opportunity to simply take time to look beyond ourselves. When I was little kid, lying in bed at night, I would sometimes become terrified and overwhelmed with the idea of death. I was so petrified of the notion that after death I would be snuffed out of existence for eternity. I’d turn on all the lights and desperately try to distract myself from my deepest thoughts. It didn’t help much that the first dream I can remember as a kid was being chased by the devil with a pitchfork. It made me concerned about the destiny of my eternal state. Ultimately, the only thing that cured me from these panic attacks was the Gospel and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I had to look beyond myself.
With the suffering death and resurrection of Christ, no kind of death should trouble a person clinging to Christ. As the angels said, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead?” And as Athanasius declared in On the Incarnation, “A marvelous and mighty paradox has thus occurred, for the death which they thought to inflict on Him as dishonor and disgrace has become the glorious monument to death’s defeat.” Often we look upon the cross and see violence foremost. It is our sin that put Christ there. But Jesus bore the entire weight of the world and it could not contain him. He was beaten, mutilated, and scourged, but the Father glorified Him in death. Hillary of Poiters noted:
The sun, instead of setting, fled, and all the other elements felt that same shock of the death of Christ. The stars in their courses, to avoid complicity in the crime, escaped by self-extinction from beholding the scene. The earth trembled under the weight of our Lord hanging on the cross and testified that it did not have the power to hold within it him who was dying.
There are several ways to understand that poverty is expensive.
First poor people pay more for the things they buy or they find that cheap stuff is not good. The poor find it hard to pay for housing which leads to having a harder time saving money even by cooking. The poor have a hard time using a bank or even cashing a check without high fees.
Then there are the lower wage part-time jobs that some bosses make worse by urging people to work a few minutes or more or even over lunch for free.
A second way to look at the expense of poverty was highlighted by the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty. The amount spent on poverty reduction, $1t annually, is terrifically expensive. Most of that comes from 80 means-tested federal programs according to Heritage’s Steven Moore.
A trillion dollars is equal to each of 45m people having $22,222. Of course, money is not given to people, there is a vast government and private web of helpers who work hard to improve conditions for those in poverty. And they are paid well.
The third way, a way I think is better than the first two, is to count the cost of poverty in terms of wasted lives, wasted opportunity, and loss to our society.
If even 15m people went to work and earned $22,222 our GDP would thrive, tax revenues would rise and programs to help the poor would require dramatically less money.
There is dignity to work, satisfaction in working with others to meet a goal, and the pleasure of doing your job well and being paid for it. Millions are missing that opportunity and are living lives that tend toward mere passivity.
The high cost of poverty is essentially a human cost that is not limited to economic deprivation. The upside is that many who have little tend to be more spiritually rich than others though this idea is treated as a phony sop to keep people down.
Rev. Sirico was recently interviewed on Fox News by Chief Religion Correspondent Lauren Green about the direction in which Francis is taking the Catholic Church. They discuss some of his unique behavior as well as the unlikelihood of making any fundamental changes to church doctrine. Watch the clip:
Are you confused about religious liberty? Can I do this or say that without losing my job, a friendship, my freedom? Will I get my kid taken away from me? Is there a difference between freedom of religion and freedom of worship? Yeah, we’re all a little confused.
At least we’re in good company. Peter Lawler is confused as well, and he shares his confusion at The Federalist. Of course, everyone agrees that church and state should be separate, says Lawler, but then things get wonky. At one point in American history, we could say that the majority of Americans shared some common religious values, especially regarding marriage and family, regardless of our faith. That’s clearly not the case any longer. In fact, Lawler claims, there are more and more Americans who believe that religion is a spoiler: it gets in the way of freedom.
More and more Americans—although still a fairly small minority—agree with our “new atheists” that “religion spoils everything,” that almost all of the repressive pathologies that have distorted the world can be traced to religious authority. A great number of Americans have proudly moved from the conformism of organized religion into an allegedly more spiritual or privatized realm of personalized belief, which skeptics call the “religion of me,” just as some have moved away from personal religion altogether in the direction of pantheism and kinds of Buddhism.
While riding the subway in her hometown of Barcelona, Eliana Guerrero saw pickpockets steal a case of insulin from two elderly tourists. That crime motivated Guerrero to do something for help her city. “I try to solve things that affect me directly,” says Guerrero. “Pickpockets directly affect me because I adore Barcelona.”
Since 2009, Guerrero has spend about three a hours a day patrolling Barcelona’s subways looking for pickpockets. “My mother always told me, ‘One swallow doesn’t make a summer. Many people are needed to change things,’” says Guerrero. “But I don’t think so. If someone says somethings wrong here, that’ll draw attention and more people will eventually join you.”
Watch how one woman armed only with a whistle, pepper spray, and determination is helping to clean up crime in her city.
Over the past 20 years or so the University of Michigan has been repeatedly attacked for being “racist” because the university is doing exactly what Dr. Martin Luther King wanted. The university is treating prospective and current students according to their characters and not their color. This explains why the university rejected to admit Detroit native Brooke Kimbrough, an academically mediocre student.
Kimbrough is appealing the decision, however, claiming that she should be accepted because the university needs “diversity.” What Ms. Kimbrough fails to understand is that the University is successfully diverse with the students and faculty that it already has without lowering their standards. U of M does not need her.
This story demonstrates the hubris of radicalized entitlement. Ms. Kimbrough is making a desert claim on the basis of her skin color instead of her performance. The irony, of course, is that this type of attitude is exactly what the Civil Rights Movement fought to undo in American society. Kimbrough’s radicalized sense of entitlement is an attempt to manipulate and pervert a system of fair treatment when her qualifications do not meet the standard. It’s an embarrassment to Dr. King’s vision.
3 Things You Should Know About the Paycheck Fairness Act
Romina Boccia, The Foundry
The Senate is set to vote on the so-called Paycheck Fairness Act today. Here are three things you should know about the bill.
Are Christians in America Persecuted?
Kevin DeYoung, The Gospel Coalition
The short answer is “Yes, all the time.” The not as short answer is: “Yes, Christians in America are persecuted, but not as frequently, consistently, or with nearly the intensity that Christians are persecuted in many other parts of the world.”
Christians Must Reject Putin’s Christianity
Ryan Mauro, Juicy Ecumenism
Russian President Vladimir Putin was a KGB officer when the service was promoting an anti-Western, Marxist version of Christianity. He is now, with some success, pitching himself as the man who can save Christianity from the moral vices of the West and Islamic oppression.
Philosophy and Morality in Public Discourse
Robert T. Miller, Public Discourse
If we want to move public discourse in the right direction, we should rely on the many assumptions we share with most of our contemporaries.
With more than a dozen smiling women looking over his shoulder in the East Room of the White House, President Obama signed a proclamation in support of National Equal Pay Day on April 8. The president said he was working to prevent workplace discrimination and helping workers take control over negotiations regarding their pay.
“My Administration remains devoted to improving our equal pay laws and closing the pay gap between women and men,” Obama said in the proclamation. “From signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to establishing the Equal Pay Task Force, I have strengthened pay discrimination protections and cracked down on violations of equal pay laws.”
We live amid unprecedented economic prosperity, and with the promise of globalization and the continued expansion of opportunity and exchange, such prosperity is bound to grow.
Yet if we’re to retain and share these blessings, such gifts need to be received and responded to with a heart of service, sacrifice, and obedience to God. “Man is not the owner,” write Lester DeKoster and Gerard Berghoef. “He is the overseer…Each of us is steward over those talents and those pounds allotted us by divine providence.”
I was reminded of this while reading King David’s powerful prayer at the end of 1 Chronicles. David had called on Israel to give generously for the construction of the template, and God’s people responded in turn. David gave his “personal treasures of gold and silver,” and the people “gave freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord.”
The story provides a basic lesson in generosity and obedience, but David’s subsequent prayer demonstrates something deeper about the heart of Christian stewardship, offering a fine portrait of how our overarching attitudes and allegiances ought to be aligned: (more…)