Category: Acton Commentary

acton-commentary-blogimage“Massive government and public-sector expansion combined with runaway deficit spending on increased welfare and pension programs has, in part, led to Greece’s economic downfall,” says Zack Pruitt in this week’s Acton Commentary. Could America be heading down the same path?

While America does not have the same problems collectively as Greece, similar pension debt vulnerabilities are arising across the country. Unfunded state public pension liabilities (the shortfall between promises made to retirees and workers and the funds currently available to pay for them) total an estimated $4.7 trillion nationwide. The City of Chicago alone has unfunded pension liabilities of $26.8 billion. The U.S. trend toward government reliance, despite its harm and lack of sustainability, is clear. Politicians routinely promise greater benefits without a concurrent plan to pay for them, preferring to pass the cost to the next generation. This starts a perpetual loop of politically expedient benefit increases without proper budget adjustments, creating substantial debt. Future generations will be held responsible for this immoral cycle which undermines both liberty and prosperity.

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

Would the denominational leadership of the Christian Reformed Church (CRCNA) rather talk about climate change than abortion or marriage?

The CRCNA has a website for that.

The CRCNA has a website for that.

Based on the launch of a denominational “Climate Change Witness Project,” which I explore at Acton Commentary today, I think this is a legitimate question. The Office of Social Justice, which is leading the project, has previously been criticized by synod for its lack of attention to life issues. A quick scan of the quarterly ministry reports since 2010 reveals no mention of abortion in the OSJ’s updates. (The CRC has yet to launch a “Life Issues Witness Project.”)

Likewise, the current executive director of the CRC, Dr. Steven Timmermans, issued a rather milquetoast statement regarding the recent SCOTUS marriage decision, while he could hardly wait to “celebrate” the papal enyclical Laudato si’ on behalf of the entire CRC.

Of course, the CRC has a website for the issues of abortion and marriage, so perhaps the CRC doesn’t need leadership on them like it apparently does for climate change. Which prompts a follow up question: if the CRC has a website, is there a need for a denominational headquarters?

acton-commentary-blogimage“Whenever government assumes a greater role in a societal or cultural debate, expect both intended and unintended consequences,” says Zack Pruitt in this week’s Acton Commentary. “The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to make same-sex marriage a constitutional right under the Fourteenth Amendment will generate huge conflicts – in some cases unforeseen – with the First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion.”

Until this constitutional showdown is ultimately decided, the campaign on the part of some same-sex marriage advocates to vigorously go after religious people and institutions that do not actively support same-sex marriage will intensify. In their orthodox versions, none of the teachings of the three major faiths in the United States (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) condone same-sex marriage, so there will be a myriad of legal challenges in lower courts against those institutions once same-sex couples are inevitably denied marriage vows by them.

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

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, June 24, 2015

acton-commentary-blogimage“With the Greek welfare state on the skids, the Church has stepped up,” says Dylan Pahman in this week’s Acton Commentary. Many Orthodox parishes have ministries to help those hit by the economic crisis, still struggling six years later.

With negotiations between Greece and its “troika” creditors dragging out like a soap opera with no ending, the economic indicators aren’t providing much cause for optimism. According to Standard & Poor, as of 2014 Greece’s GDP has shrunk to 75% what it was in 2009. The country’s current debt-to-GDP ratio, The Economist reports, “after two bail-outs stands at 180% of GDP.”

Dimosthenis Kouskoukis, a Ph.D. candidate researching the finances of the Orthodox Church in Greece, the established church in this nation, estimated that the number of people fed daily by parish soup kitchens and other ministries has increased from approximately 6,000 in 2009 to 16,000 as of 2014.

In Thessaloniki, the St. George parish has become not only a soup kitchen, but a job service and all around private aid society.

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

acton-commentary-blogimageThe release of Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical raises questions about who has been advising him on global warming, says Catherine Snow in this week’s Acton Commentary, especially since some of the advisers are decidedly on the wrong side of Catholic teaching.

Let’s begin with economist Jeffrey Sachs, a prominent supporter of abortion and population control, who was invited to speak at a conference on climate change at the Vatican. And does it bother anyone else, for instance, that Pope Francis – or the curial officials advising him – have chosen as his only lay advisor on the subject of climate change Hans Joachim Schellnhuber? And exactly why is the Vatican itching to tackle climate change in the first place?

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

acton-commentary-blogimage“New York Times writer David Brooks’ new book, On the Road to Character, examines what it takes to create a virtuous life,” says Elise Hilton in this week’s Acton Commentary. “The author’s central question: Does a person of character focus solely on building on one’s strengths or does he confront and improve his weaknesses?”

It is an interesting topic for a man who makes his living writing pithy, sometimes political, columns in a very secular newspaper. While Brooks is Jewish, a Christian will be comfortable with his language and motifs. And in the end, the book is not simply about character, but about sin, grace and salvation.

This is not an interpretation. Brooks himself reflects, “I wrote it to be honest, to save my own soul.” While the beginning of the book speaks to professional achievement and what it takes to make it in one’s field of endeavor, the book’s secondary themes of joy, love, and redemption make this more than a self-help book or guide to success. In fact, it reads as a decidedly religious work.

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

acton-commentary-blogimage“’Sustainability’ has become big business, especially at universities,” says Kishore Jayabalan in this week’s Acton Commentary. “If there ever was an elitist/populist wedge issue, this is it, with Pope Francis and the Holy See on the wrong side of it.”

So what exactly is meant by “sustainability”? The term originates in 1987 with the World Commission on Environment and Development’s report entitled Our Common Future: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Sounds reasonable enough, but the concept is so broad as to be meaningless. The 2002 UN Summit on Sustainable Development, which I attended as a delegate of the Holy See, came ten years after the Rio Earth Summit and sought to balance social, economic and environmental concerns. The concept today seems to be about fighting poverty while tackling climate change (as in a “new climate economy”). Once again, who can be against it? And what are we supposed to do about it?

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