Blog author: bwalker
Thursday, August 27, 2015
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Religious adopt Earth pledge
Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter

The national association for U.S. male religious has vowed more actions than words in taking up Pope Francis’ global call for protecting the planetary home, hoping their recently passed resolution will lead not only to eco-conscious changes in their own congregations, but will serve as a model for other Catholic institutions.

Pope’s encyclical cited as totem pole blessed on way to coal mines
Ed Langlois, National Catholic Reporter

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales got a roar of approval Monday when he told a packed Catholic church that he opposes new fossil fuel projects that would affect his city. The crowd of more than 400 at St. Philip Neri Church had convened for the blessing of a totem pole that residents of Washington state’s coastal Lummi Nation carved as a symbol of opposition to coal export facilities along the Columbia River.

Challenging the Climate Change Skeptics: Part 1
Martin J. Hodson and Margot R. Hodson, Ethics Daily

But there are also a growing number of activists who believe anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is real and human-induced. They take a variety of actions, including changes in personal lifestyle and campaigning.Skeptical politicians, industrialists, lobbyists, scientists and journalists are often influential and oppose the consensus on AGW in the face of overwhelming evidence.

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family_discipleship-hands-cutouts1The spate of Planned Parenthood videos raises many issues, one of which is the importance of nurturing the lives that we have had a hand in conceiving, adopting, and welcoming into our homes.

As we participate in the Economy of Love, nurturing discipleship will include biblically and theologically informed insights for parents as they express faith, hope, and love in welcoming children into God’s world. Thus, the following insights come from 35 years of parenting and pastoring in churches large and small, including plenty of financial and geographic upheaval and more divine grace than my wife and I deserve.

Our aim with our own children has been partnering with the Holy Trinity to make disciples that are neither anarchists nor automatons, but passionate and principled volitional followers of Christ. We are parents of adult children (ages 31, 28 and 25) and enjoy good relationships with each of them. They are each in different time zones and unique places in their journey, and they bring us no end of delight and concern. Recognizing the diversity of family circumstances and structures, these reflections are not culled from a one-size-fits-all-prescription-laden text.

Here are some thoughts for discipling parents in our communities. (more…)

john-oliver-churchIn 2004, Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show, famously appeared on CNN’s Crossfire and accused the hosts of “hurting America.” He excoriated the show’s hosts for being “partisan hacks” who suck up to politicians and spin the news for partisan ends. Stewart then spent the next ten years hurting America by being a partisan hack that sucked up to politicians and spun the news for partisan ends.

That so many Americans get their news from opinion shows on cable news like Crossfire has always been depressing. But even more disturbing is the fact that for years a relatively small number (about 12 percent) cited Stewart’s The Daily Show as a place they learned about what was going on in the world.

When Stewart and his show retired earlier this month, many of us sighed with relief. Finally, we thought, thirtysomething, college-educated liberals will be forced to turn somewhere else besides a third-rate comedy show to get their information about current events. Alas, that was not to be. Stewart passed the baton to his former correspondent John Oliver who has his own current events show on HBO called Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

If you’ve been on social media in the past year you’ve likely seen one of your liberal friends post a clip from Oliver’s show. There’s nothing particularly insightful about Oliver, but he has a British accent which leads Americans to assume he’s intelligent and profound.

Earlier this month, Oliver did a segment on televangelists. He can be forgiven for being late to the topic since he was still a teenager in England when America got bored of talking about predatory preachers on television. The “prosperity gospel” frauds are still a problem, of course, and should be called out for it. But Oliver (or whoever writes for his teleprompter) isn’t really concerned about televangelists. The real goal of the segment is to promote the idea that the IRS should determine what is and is not a legitimate church.

To show how easy it is to form a “false” church, Oliver created his own church, Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption, and asked for donations. As a comedy bit it’s pretty lame; as a critique of government oversight of religion it’s downright idiotic.
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What is the purpose of money? Is it for our survival? For our status, significance, or success? Is it for the service of ourselves or for the service of others?

In a talk for the Oikonomia Network, theologian Darrell Bock sets out to answer the question, drawing from the numerous treatments of money in the book of Luke — from the rich fool and Lazarus’ wealthy neighbor to Zacchaeus and the widow’s mite.

“Money is to be surrendered into stewardship,” he says, “because that is the way God has designed not just the resources that he gives us; that’s the way he’s designed our very lives.”

Money is ultimately about a stewardship of managing the creation in which God has placed us. It’s for others, and it’s for Him…It’s a stewardship that serves and leads to flourishing, and we are all stewards, every one of us. It’s a surrender to Christ. It’s a surrender to others. And it’s a surrender to the divine design. It’s a commitment not to serve the self, and it’s a commitment not to use other people as currency…

Yes, money does make the world go around, but we drive that bus. And it’s not the money that’s the agent of change; we are the agents of change. So how do we make money that matters? We don’t make money the old fashioned way, by earning it for ourselves. We make money useful the divine way, by stewarding it so that others can flourish and be developed, and by generating value for those who are around us.

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billmckibben-firstparish

One of the United States’ most-recognized climate-change missionaries, Bill McKibben has made it a habit of late to hide behind the clerical garb of Christian religious to spread his message against free-market capitalism (see here, here, here, here, here and here). The past few months, McKibben has been putting Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si to work in a crusade against the fossil fuels that have generated wealth and lifted billions from poverty. This week, he writes on the New York Review of Books blog that Islam may also be useful in this regard:

On August 19, a convocation of some sixty leading Muslim clerics and religious scholars from around the planet, spurred by the growing siege of climate disasters affecting the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, issued an Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change. It was far shorter than Pope Francis’s much discussed encyclical issued early in the summer, but it arrived in much the same spirit:

Our species, though selected to be a caretaker or steward [khalifah] on the earth, has been the cause of such corruption and devastation on it that we are in danger of ending life as we know it on our planet. This current rate of climate change cannot be sustained, and the earth’s fine equilibrium [mīzān] may soon be lost. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, August 27, 2015
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Here’s What the Biblical View of Freedom Means for Your Life
Art Lindsley, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

Believers should be the most free to enjoy life and God’s creation, as long as it is within the structure of how God has made us. We are not free from God-ordained obligations, but we are free to live life as God intended it to be lived.

Germany’s “Green” Transition Is Gouging Its Poor
The American Interest

Germany’s vaunted energy transition—its energiewende—has been extraordinarily costly to the German consumer, and those costs aren’t going anywhere.

When Schools Are Forced to Practice Race-Based Discipline
Adrienne Green, The Atlantic

Students of color are expelled and suspended at disproportionate rates. Educators say policies banning “disparate-impact” discipline are not the answer.

26% of employers could face the ‘Cadillac tax’ on health insurance
Carolyn Johnson, Washington Post

The next fight over the Affordable Care Act may center on one of its most powerful provisions to contain health care costs — the “Cadillac tax” on the most generous health insurance plans.

francis 4With only a few weeks before Pope Francis makes his first U.S. visit, the media frenzy is already beginning. At Crux, the observation is made that “pet projects” of Catholics across the nation will be vying for Vatican attention. However, the pope likely has his own agenda.

With his encyclical, Laudato Si’, still fresh in people’s minds, Pope Francis will certainly speak to the environment. Also, the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia is on his schedule. But with stops in New York City and Washington, D.C., talk will also likely turn to business and economics. And that, says Acton Institute President Rev. Robert Sirico, is concerning.

[Pope Francis] has an allergy to economics, that he doesn’t quite get it, that he’s never really studied it,” Sirico said, referring to the pope’s admission that economics isn’t his forte. (more…)

womensequalitydayIf you’ve been on Facebook today you’ve probably noticed the graphic promoting “Women’s Equality Day” which claims “On Aug 26, 1920, women achieved the right to vote in the US.”

President Obama also issued a proclamation today which begins, “On August 26, 1920, after years of agitating to break down the barriers that stood between them and the ballot box, American women won the right to vote.”

The problem with these claims is that they imply American women had no right to vote prior to the certification of the 19th Amendment. But as Joshua Treviño explains,

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Blog author: bwalker
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
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Pope to commemorate World Day of Prayer for Creation
Catholic World News

At his August 26 general audience, Pope Francis announced that he will commemorate the 1st World Day of Prayer for Creation at a Liturgy of the Word in St. Peter’s Basilica on September 1. “In a communion of prayer with our Orthodox brothers and with all persons of good will, we want to offer our contribution to overcoming the ecological crisis that humanity is experiencing,” he said.

Kenya’s Council of Churches launches climate change campaign ahead of Paris conference
Frederick Nzwili, National Catholic Reporter

Anglican Archbishop Eliud Wabukala of Kenya, said churches should be proactive in lobbying for quick responses to global warming. “Climate change is to blame for conflicts over resources and new epidemics,” said Wabukala. “There will be no peace if we do not act to protect communities from negative impacts of climate change like hunger, water scarcity and loss of natural beauty,” added Wabukala.

Follow both science, faith to battle climate change, Catholic bishop says in Norfolk
Bill Bartel, Hampton Roads PilotOnline

Responding to Pope Francis’ call this summer for prompt action to address climate change, Catholic Bishop Francis DiLorenzo told an audience of about 200 Tuesday night that people must learn about the science of what is happening to the world.

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Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
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acton-commentary-blogimage“Pope Francis is famous for his strident denunciations of a “throwaway culture” that ruthlessly discards human beings not considered useful in an economy that ‘kills’,” says Kishore Jayabalan in this week’s Acton Commentary. But has the pope accurately identified the real cause of the problem?

My concerns were only heightened by the secret videos of Planned Parenthood officials blithely discussing buying and selling the body parts of aborted babies. Part of me is nervously awaiting the pope to denounce capitalism for this social evil as well. In fact, there are U.S. federal laws prohibiting profit-making in this type of commerce and Planned Parenthood itself denies making any money from it. (Even abortionists recognize the evil of profits!) But another part of me questions whether it’s the quest for profits that drives the abortion industry to not only perform but brazenly justify its barbaric practices.

Let me restate the problem this way: Assuming Planned Parenthood is telling the truth that it makes no profit in the buying and selling of fetal body parts, would that make the “crushing” and “crunching” of babies acceptable? Would it be ok to abort babies out of “humanitarian” or “compassionate” rather than “self-interested” motives? Are government-subsidized abortions somehow less gruesome than private-sector ones?

The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.