Blog author: jcarter
Monday, February 8, 2016
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When Kirill and Francis Meet, It’ll be an Historic Kick in the Devil’s Gut
Deacon Keith Fournier, The Stream

It was the ongoing “Christian genocide” that finally brought about the meeting after twenty years of discussions. Pope Francis and the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill will be meeting next Friday in the neutral location of Cuba, while the patriarch is there on an official visit and Francis is on his way to Mexico.

Conservatism and the Art of Catechesis
Isaac Woodward, Values & Capitalism

Several denominations of the Christian faith still have formalized methods of catechizing those new to the faith. Yet, it is all too clear that many of these efforts are not achieving the results one would hope they would.

What Should We Do About Natural Law?
James Kalb, The Catholic World Report

Our governing institutions and the public at large have staked their authority and actions on the rejection of natural law in favor of preference satisfaction. So what can be done?

How the Free Enterprise System Is Lifting Millions Out of Poverty Worldwide
Israel Ortega, Opportunity Lives

The free enterprise system has been the greatest force the world has ever known to reduce poverty and increase prosperity. The bad news is that many here in the United States are forgetting this important lesson.

superbowl-monkeyContrary to the trite assertion made every year by people who don’t know how to appreciate football, it is not really true that the commercials the best thing about the Super Bowl (at least not always).

Sure, it may seem that way because the television viewer is seeing commercials than actual game play (in an average game, the ratio of commercials to playing time is seven to one). The reality, though, is that most of the commercials aren’t all that memorable. Only a few stand out every year and they are almost always beer commercials.

But maybe (like me) you don’t like beer, or (also like me) you’re a Southern Baptist and aren’t supposed to condone beer commercials, or maybe (again, me) your just tired of the anthropomorphizing of Clydesdale horses. Beer commercials are also uninspired, they don’t generally tell us much about ourselves as a people (other than that Americans like to drink beer). That’s why I prefer the commercials that focus on vocation and stewardship.

Ads that focus on how we use (or misuse) our resources and vocational abilities have been some of the best Super Bowl commercials of all time. Here are seven of my favorite examples. What do you think these commercials tell us about the American view of stewardship and vocation?

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Unemployment-line-640x245Series Note: Jobs are one of the most important aspects of a morally functioning economy. They help us serve the needs of our neighbors and lead to human flourishing both for the individual and for communities. Conversely, not having a job can adversely affect spiritual and psychological well-being of individuals and families. Because unemployment is a spiritual problem, Christians in America need to understand and be aware of the monthly data on employment. Each month highlight the latest numbers we need to know (see also: What Christians Should Know About Unemployment).

Positive news is marked with the plus sign (+) while negative employment data is marked with a minus sign (-). No significant change is marked by (NC).
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On Jan. 27, Acton’s Rome office sponsored a presentation of The International Property Rights Index at the Dominican-run Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas. The private seminar was a premier event in Rome for the index’s publisher, introducing data and case studies sampled from 129 industrialized and developing nations. It was attended by some 40 leveraged opinion makers from the ranks of legal, political, academic and religious sectors.

coverSpeakers included the university’s dean of social sciences, Fr. Alejandro Crosthwaite, who gave an excellent exposition of St. Thomas Aquinas’s treatise on property, including the medieval philosopher’s explanation of incentives for personal responsibility by way of individual as opposed to collective ownership. He also took time to explain what the Catholic Church teaches on the universal destination of goods, which is often misinterpreted as a contradiction to individual ownership. In referencing the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (quoted in part from No. 177), leaders in attendance were reminded:

“Christian tradition has never recognized the right to private property as absolute…The principle of the universal destination of goods is an affirmation both of God’s full and perennial lordship over every reality and of the requirement that the goods of creation remain ever destined to the development of the whole person and of all humanity. This principle is not opposed to the right to private property but indicates the need to regulate it. Private property… is in its essence only an instrument for respecting the principle of the universal destination of goods; in the final analysis, therefore, it is not an end but a means.” (more…)

umpFor many evangelicals, 2 Chronicles 7:14 has become a predictable refrain for run-of-the-mill civil religion, supposedly offering the promise of national blessing in exchange for political purity.

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

If the nation returns to golden days of godliness, we are told, blessings shall abound and the land shall be restored. If policy follies are fixed and rampant rulers remedied, the garden will once again grow. We are to “take our country back,” saith the Lord, if grace and mercy are to enter the scene.

Yet as Russell Moore reminds us, to apply the verse in such a way amounts to little more than “theological liberalism” – “whatever one’s political ideology”:

This verse is a word written to a specific people – the people of God – who were coming home from exile. They were coming home from a time in which they were dominated and enslaved by a foreign power. At a time when they needed to be reminded of who they were, who God was and what he had promised to do, this passage was given to them to point them back to Solomon’s reign, reminding them of what Solomon did when he built the temple, the house of the Lord, the place of the gathering of the worship of God…

… When God said to them, “If my people who are called by name,” he was specifically pointing them back to the covenant that he made with their forefather Abraham. At a specific point in their history, God had told Abraham about his descendants, saying “I will be their God” and “They will be my people.” That’s what “My people” means.

God reminded a people who had been exiled, enslaved and defeated that a rebuilt temple or a displaced nation cannot change who they were. They were God’s people and would see the future God has for them.

But what future does God promise us?

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Blog author: jcarter
Friday, February 5, 2016
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Capitalism Promotes Equality
Barry Brownstein, The Freeman

In 1900, Americans spent approximately 50 percent of their household income on food and clothing; today, we spend closer to 20 percent. Today, fresh produce from all over the world, not even available to a king a century ago, awaits common consumers when they enter the supermarket.

The $20-billion hole in Africa’s largest economy
The Economist

Most Nigerians live in poverty. Millions would be spared if officials stopped pilfering from the public purse.

Pope’s opening to China skips over religious freedom
John L. Allen Jr., Crux

On Tuesday, an exclusive interview with Pope Francis about China was published by the Asia Times, in which the pope urges the world not to fear growing Chinese power. It’s likely to be hailed as a great opening, as well as another sign of keen Vatican interest in moving ever closer to normalized diplomatic relations with Beijing.

Federal healthcare spending tops Social Security for the first time
Sarah Ferris, The Hill

Spending on federal healthcare programs outpaced spending on Social Security for the first time in 2015, according to an expansive report from the congressional budget scorekeeper released Monday.

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, February 4, 2016
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jesus_was_a_socialist_poster-ra50dbe5fff854b98ad170860c4976c88_wvg_8byvr_324The resurgence of socialism in America, especially among the young, seems to be based on a widespread form of wishful thinking and historical ignorance. Most people who support Bernie Sanders, for instance, do not realize that most of his ideas have been tried already—and discarded as unworkable.

Similarly, many Christians who support Sanders don’t realize that for centuries socialism has been considered incompatible with Christianity. Since the mid-1800s every Catholic pontiff—from Pius IX to Benedict XVI—has forthrightly condemned socialism. Protestants don’t have a single leader to make that judgment call, of course, but we too have determined that based on Scripture socialism is incompatible with biblical principles.

Yet despite the obvious disconnect between Christianity and socialism some people go even further and claim that Jesus himself was an advocate of socialism.

A solid, thorough rebuttal to this baffling notion can be found in Lawrence W. Reed’s essay, “Rendering Unto Caesar: Was Jesus A Socialist?

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