The U.N. and many of its attendant NGOs have often supported dubious and even Orwellian interpretations of human rights (pushing, for example, for coercive population control measures in the name of reproductive “freedom”). A new group, the International Solidarity and Human Rights Institute aims to promote an agenda more in keeping with a Christian concept of rights. One of its goals is to influence the U.N. positively on this issue. Godspeed.
For those of you who enjoy listening to podcasts, Acton has updated its own podcast to be more iTunes friendly. We’ve added an iTunes graphic to the feed, updated our description tags, and categorized it on the iTunes music store. For those interested in checking it out, please follow this link to the iTunes Music Store (iTunes is required).
Here are the Top 5 Acton Institute PowerBlog posts of 2005 (by number of visits):
From all of us here at the PowerBlog, please accept our best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2006!
Care to make any predictions for the new year? Feel free to leave them in the comments.
“Happy Holidays” has become the accepted greeting in December. Even the White House has embraced “Happy Holidays” over the more traditional and Christian “Merry Christmas.” Understandably, many people are upset about the use of the word “holiday” rather than “Christmas.” I wanted to take a quick look at some traditions surrounding the December holidays, sorting out which situations should be using “Christmas” and which should be using “Holiday.”
First off, saying “Happy Holidays” is a very easy, quick, inoffensive and non-oppressive way to express greetings and love to a variety of people. December 25 is a day special to both Christians and Jews, who celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah, respectively. December 26-January 1 is Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, both non-Christian celebrations. Therefore, it would make sense to use “Happy Holidays” to express festive greetings to those who celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa. It is definately quicker than saying “Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Kwanzaa.” When the White House greeting card says, “With best wishes for a holiday season of hope and happiness 2005,” we can assume that rather than waging war against a traditional Christmas, the White House is simply acknowledging that different people are celebrating different holidays.
The same goes for store window signs, or for clerks working at stores (and other people that Rev. Jerry Falwell and the “religious [far] right” are angry at). Why shouldn’t they be able to acknowledge people who aren’t Christians by expressing joy about other cultural or religious celebrations?
Problems exist – I agree; but I think that these problems are more along the lines of cultural ignorance (I’ll quickly admit that I don’t know much about either Hanukkah or Kwanzaa). In the same way that we should be open to other cultural celebrations and holidays, we should be able to keep our own straight. The Christmas Tree (according to the much disputed Wikipedia) was appropriated by Christian missionaries from the German celebration of the Winter Solstice – the Yule. It remains a traditional (although not neccessarily Christian) element of Christmas – which is a Christian celebration; therefore we call the tree a Christmas tree. Logically, if the Christmas tree is adopted by other religions or cultures as elements of their celebrations (which the Christians did) then it would make sense for them to call it what they wanted – the “Kwanzaa tree” or the “Hanukkah tree.”
So – just to summarize – I have no problem with “happy holidays,” so long as you are referring to the holidays, and not to a specific holiday. If you’re talking about only Kwanzaa, say “Happy Kwanza.” Hanukkah? “Happy Hanukkah!” Its a “Menorah,” not a Holiday candle. Its a Christmas tree, not a Holiday tree.
Many in West Michigan have heard about a sculpture in Kalamazoo, Mich., that has become the target of politically correct wrath. The “Fountain of the Pioneers,” a work by artist Alfonso Iannelli, depicts a towering pioneer with a club in his hand standing over a Native American depicted in a kneeling position. Activists say the sculpture should be removed because it is a “monument to evil subjugation, the violent removal of the people who were first on this land.”
Those who want the sculpture to stay describe it as a memorial of the westward progression and conquest of the United States by pioneers and that while a Native American is shown in an inferior position, this is not meant to be a racist statement implying that Native Americans are inferior.
I looked around and found a source that has direct input from Iannelli — Mr. David Jameson, the president of Chicago-based ArchiTech Gallery, which owns the majority of Iannelli’s archives, including sketches, sculptures, correspondance, etc. His research regarding this sculpture indicates that for his time, Iannelli had an uncharacteristically high regard for Native Americans, and through his sculpture indicated their valiant resistance to the seizure of their land by the “white man.” Activists may claim that the sculpture is a shameful image of racism and hate. But could the “shame” they see in the “Fountain of the Pioneers” be caused by the feelings the sculpture is intended to produce?
Shortly after the sculpture was commissioned, Iannelli wrote this to a now defunct magazine called The American City describing the sculpture and his intent behind it.
“I wanted to see suggested the progression of the growth of Kalamazoo, the efforts of the pioneers, the romantic sadness of the vanquished Indians, the onward strides of the industrial accomplishments, the prolific richness of the country they were blessed with…the tower symbolizing the pioneer’s advance and the Indian’s stalwart and fateful resistance…”
Mr. Jameson, in a letter to the Kalamazoo Gazette submitted this week, encourages the city to keep the sculpture exactly as it is.
Kalamazoo is fortunate indeed to have a major public monument by a giant in American art. That it also remains one of the most genuine interpretations of his feelings is a testament to the power of abstraction in modern sculpture. Kalamazoo recognized this in 1940 and should be honored to celebrate it now.
It’s easy to predict what the response will be to The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Walt Disney Company’s latest holiday blockbuster: smiling faces on children of all ages. Rather than recasting C. S. Lewis’ compelling children’s tale along the lines of the Gospel according to Hollywood, producers reserved their creative talent for visually representing the story that Lewis actually wrote.
Lion will effectively demonstrate that, where free enterprise is allowed to flourish, the most profitable filmmaking strategies give people what they want. With 50 million Evangelicals in the United States, the dearth of films representing conservative Christian values in a good light has been unsettling. Now, that is changing. An insightful column in the Economist noted that Hollywood’s delayed response was “thanks to a combination of institutional lethargy and cultural blinkers. But Disney’s support for C.S. Lewis’s children’s classic reflects a realization that the industry needs to learn how to tap into what insiders call ‘Passion’ dollars.”
After viewing Lion, I can say with certainty that Disney has learned to do just that. Significant deviations from the spirit of the story are absent, while many of the tiniest details are included. For example, two—count them: one, two—mothballs drop out of the wardrobe when Lucy opens the door. Also, when the camera quickly pans around Mr. Tumnus’s cave you can catch the titles on his bookshelf, such as Is Man a Myth?
Of course, there are those that will be unhappy with the film. Among them will be avowed atheist Philip Pullman, author of the critically acclaimed children’s series His Dark Materials. Pullman leveled serious charges against The Chronicles and in one instance called the series “one of the most ugly and poisonous things I have ever read.” Some of his other remarks concerning the books are equally or more vituperous. Most of his deep-seated, arbitrary vitriol reminds one of another Lewis character, Wormwood’s Uncle Screwtape, or, in keeping with the season, Seuss’s Grinch who stole Christmas.
This holiday season it appears that Hollywood will be leaving the Grinch out in the cold.
An interesing piece in the new New Atlantis, The Moral Education of Doctors.
…the transformation of doctoring in the image of science may also obscure, in important ways, the real character of the medical vocation. If we educate doctors solely or largely as mechanics of the body, we may leave them unprepared for the human encounter with the sick and desperate, the brave and dying, the healed and grateful.
The point in a nutshell (with apologies to the author): there is a human person here; act accordingly. This seems to me to be something we might all remind ourselves of, no matter what our profession. To remind ourselves of the human element of our work–that somehow what we are doing is benefiting and serving another human person–this reminds us of the dignity of human work and of its reality to the truth of the human person. To paraphrase John Paul the Great, we become most human when we make of ourselves a gift to others. We ought to view our work, therefore, as a way we realize the truth about ourselves as gifts to others. What a fine way to see ourselves and our work, whether we be doctors or trash collectors, teachers or machinists.
An illuminating passage from an interview with Peter Schweizer on National Review Online. Schweizer is the author of Do As I Say (Not As I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy:
…the consequences of liberal hypocrisy are different than for the conservative variety. When conservatives abandon their principles and become hypocrites, they end up hurting themselves and their families. Conservative principles are like guard rails on a winding road. They are irritating but fundamentally good for you. Liberal hypocrisy is the opposite. When the liberal-left abandon their principles and become hypocrites, they actually improve their lives. Their kids end up in better schools, they have more money, and their families are more content. [Their] ideas are truly that bad.
Apparently, the religion of iPod is the fastest growing religion in the world. And now, you can even buy the “divine iBelieve” cap for your iPod shuffle, to let others know of your commitments to your religion and music.
But now bring me a man who plays music. And when the man played music the groove came upon them.
~ 2 Jobs 3:15
Who comes up with this stuff, I don’t know. I can just see it now, though – walking into the weight room at [insert name of some Christian college here] and noticing that every other person in the place is wearing an iPod shuffle cross…