francis-and-krill-mugs-duo.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterboxWhat’s going on?

Tomorrow, for the first time in history, a Roman Catholic pontiff and the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church will meet face to face. According to the joint press release of the Holy See and of the Patriarchate of Moscow:

The Holy See and the Patriarchate of Moscow are pleased to announce that, by the grace of God, His Holiness Pope Francis and His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia will meet on February 12. Their meeting will take place in Cuba, where the Pope will make a stop on his way to Mexico, and where the Patriarch will be on an official visit. It will include a personal conversation at Havana’s José Martí International Airport, and will conclude with the signing of a joint declaration.

The meeting is scheduled to last about two hours. Cuba’s President Raúl Castro will join the two religious leaders during the exchange of gifts.

Why are they meeting? 

According to Vatican Insider, Metropolitan Hilarion said in a recent press conference that the the historic meeting between the Patriarch of Moscow and the Pope “had been in the making for about 20 years” but was speeded up by the “Christian genocide” being caused by terrorists. In the face of what is going on and is “causing concern” to both Churches, the two spiritual leaders simply “had to meet.”

Vladimir Legoida, head of the Synodal Department for Church-Society Relations and the Mass Media, said the meeting is called for by the need to exert joint efforts in giving help to Christian communities in the Middle East countries.

Although many problems in relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church remain unresolved, the protection of Christians in the Middle East against the genocide is a challenge that requires urgent united efforts.…The exodus of Christians from the Middle East and North Africa countries is a catastrophe for the whole world.

Why are they meeting in Cuba?
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Previously this week, The Wall Street Journal presented a list of “7 Things Investors Should Be Watching for a 2016 Unfolds.” While there’s much in Michael A. Pollock’s article to recommend it to readers who might’ve missed it, there’s also one significant omission – Number Eight, if you will: A Rise in Proxy Resolutions by Religious Shareholder Activists.

Shortly after reading the WSJ article, your writer received an email from the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, the “corporate God-flies” who mask an actual leftist political agenda with their supposed faith-based concerns over social issues related to climate change and corporate spending on lobbying and politics. ICCR’s email announces the group’s increased efforts to stymie the best interests of the companies in which they invest in 2016 – without mentioning how their activities also negatively impact fellow shareholders as well as company customers and employees. Yet ICCR is undeterred in its efforts in a year thus far beset upon by great economic uncertainty and volatility:

Shareholder proposals on climate change and corporate lobbying and political spending head the list of 257 resolutions filed by ICCR members at 174 companies in the 2016 proxy season. Over one-third of total proposals this year are climate-related, including those related to corporate lobbying, revealing how climate change is viewed as a major risk for investors and engagements on how companies are mitigating these risks are taking on greater importance.

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Blog author: jsunde
Thursday, February 11, 2016
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beautiful-tree-private-schools-poorOne of the popular targets of foreign aid is education, and understandably so. Yet as with most solutions sprouting from Western planners and do-gooders, the reality on the ground is a bit different than we typically imagine. Likewise, the solutions are often closer than we’re led to believe.

In his book, The Beautiful Tree, James Tooley chronicles his own investigative journey throughout the developing world, seeking to uncover the local realities of educational opportunity. Originally commissioned by the World Bank to investigate private schools in a dozen developing countries, Tooley began with the assumption that such schools were designed for and confined to the middle classes and elite.

What he found, however, was a situation far more rich and varied.

Beginning in the city of Hyderabad, India, Tooley’s targets initially appeared as expected: private schools designed for the prosperous and privileged. One day, however, on a holiday off from his usual research, he ventured into the city’s slums, spontaneously stumbling on a private school created by and for the local community. He soon met the school’s headmaster, who explained the widespread dissatisfaction with public schooling, from over-crowded classrooms to chronically absent teachers to the severe lack of accountability or parental control. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, February 11, 2016
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In Sex Trafficking, ‘Kids Are Renewable Resources’
Emily Deruy, The Atlantic

Authorities and advocates in Reno are finding it harder to identify victims and perpetrators, in part due to social media.

Low-Skilled Workers Flee the Minimum Wage
Corey Iacono, FEE

What happens when, in a country where workers are free to move, a region raises its minimum wage? Do those with the fewest skills seek out the regions with the highest wage floors?

The Flawed Economics of Laudato Si’
W. David Montgomery, The New Atlantis

Laudato Si’ provides a moral framework for addressing climate change based on Christian obligations to help the global poor most affected by it. In stressing these obligations, the encyclical fills a large gap in discussions of climate policy, which are replete with statements of what should be done but tend to lack a convincing moral framework for explaining where such obligations comes from or why they should be accepted when they conflict with particular interests.

Wake up, Christians: The Flint water crisis is an issue of public justice
Kevin R. den Dulk, Washington Post

For Christians, access to water ought not be about the arbitrariness of birth and geography or the vagaries of power. It is a matter of justice, and our response is grounded in God’s call to seek shalom, in this case by addressing the access problems and inevitable conflicts that arise when a good is both basic and unevenly distributed.

acton-commentary-blogimage“Sociological determinism informs our public policy,” says Ismael Hernandez in this week’s Acton Commentary. “Those with a stake in the maintenance and expansion of government bureaucracies feed upon pathology and find a willing constituency among those who perceive the world in terms of victims and perpetrators.”

If men are not free, they are not responsible for their misdeeds and ought instead to be treated with pity for falling prey to tragic misfortunes. They are to be healed by those who understand their powerlessness. Such enabling has produced a host of psychotherapeutic terms and treatments attempting to explain every human condition and every degrading act.

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

coal_power_plant

What just happened?

On Tuesday the Supreme Court temporarily blocked the Obama administration’s effort to regulate emissions from coal-fired power plants. The vote was 5-to-4, with the court’s four liberal members dissenting, to put a temporary halt on the implementation of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule change.

Why is this significant?

As the New York Times notes, the Supreme Court had never before granted a request to halt a regulation before review by a federal appeals court:

“It’s a stunning development,” Jody Freeman, a Harvard law professor and former environmental legal counsel to the Obama administration, said in an email. She added that “the order certainly indicates a high degree of initial judicial skepticism from five justices on the court,” and that the ruling would raise serious questions from nations that signed on to the landmark Paris climate change pact in December.

In negotiating that deal, which requires every country to enact policies to lower emissions, Mr. Obama pointed to the power plant rule as evidence that the United States would take ambitious action, and that other countries should follow.

What was the EPA rule change?

In June 2014, the EPA issued a proposed rule change on “emission guidelines for states to follow in developing plans to address greenhouse gas emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired electric generating units.”

Specifically, the EPA is proposing state-specific rate-based goals for carbon-dioxide emissions from energy producers (mostly from 600 coal-fired power plants) and setting guidelines for states to follow in developing plans to achieve new state-specific goals.

Is this is an important change?
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Church-Social-Responsibility“Evangelicals are starting to believe in institutions again — and not a moment too soon.”

So begins Jordan Ballor and Robert Joustra’s introduction to a new collection of essays, The Church’s Social Responsibility: Reflections on Evangelicalism and Social Justice, which ponders the role of the church and the shape of its social witness.

Organized religion, long the object of derision by authenticity-addicted millennials and prophets of the new atheism alike, is losing its boogeyman status among younger generations,” they continue. “Thus has begun a minor renaissance in thinking about the church, less as a gathering of hierarchy-allergic spiritualists and more as a brick and mortar institution — something with tradition and weight and history.”

But what does such a renaissance imply for the church’s social responsibility? Historically, the church has started schools and hospitals and charities. It has taken up and transformed a range of areas and institutions. It has spoken out on injustice, launched political movements, and influenced public policy.

But why is the institutional church so powerful? How should it go about these matters in the current cultural and civilizational landscape? Who ought to speak on its behalf and how?

These questions are at the center of the exploration, including contributing voices such as Carl F.H. Henry, Richard J. Mouw, Vincent Bacote, Jessica Driesenga, David T. Koyzis, Stephanie Summers, and more. Together, they provide a rich portrait to inform and invigorate the social imagination of the church. (more…)