Category: News and Events

Blog author: jballor
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
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Statua chrystus królCourtesy Adrian Vermeule at Mirror of Justice, I ran across a word new to me: Kyriarchy. Given the context and my admittedly limited Greek-language skills, I was able to work out the gist of the idea. As Vermeule puts it, “On November 20, the Feast of Christ the King, a coronation ceremony took place at the Church of Divine Mercy in Krakow. The President of Poland and the Catholic Bishops officially crowned Jesus Christ the King of Poland.”

Vermeule goes on to wonder what impact, if any, this might have for Poland’s constitutional order: “Is Poland now to be classified as an authoritarian regime? What is Poland’s small-c constitution, if it still has one?”

Off the top of my head, I would point to the nation of Israel in the Old Testament as a precedent, which is perhaps best understood as a constitutional monarchy, first with Yahweh as the heavenly monarch with judges as the main earthly authorities, and later with a human monarchy subsumed and accountable to that divine rule. Torah was the national constitution, and there was a whole apparatus in place holding various institutions and authorities responsible for various duties.

I don’t think it would be right to call such divine lordship merely “symbolic.” And I don’t see why mutatis mutandis something like that couldn’t also be coherently put in place today.

The Dutch theologian and statesman Abraham Kuyper had a lot to say about something that might be understood as Kyriarchy in a broader sense, at least. For that, I recommend his three-volume treatment of the lordship of Christ Pro Rege, the first of which is now available in English translation.

It is, of course, one thing to affirm the lordship of Christ over everything, including particular nation-states, and quite another to work out the particular ways that ought to be reflected in a particular political order. As Vermeule rightly notes, this isn’t merely a technical issue of polity, but a more substantive question of political, and even public, theology.

Blog author: sstanley
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
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nosaluteLife, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are fundamental rights “asserted in the face of oppression and paid for in blood,” argues Declan Ganley. They “have been the cornerstone not only of American democracy but of western civilization.” In a new article for Prospect Magazine, the chairman & CEO of Rivada Networks says that the West “needs to defend [these] shared values.”

He argues that these fundamental rights are now under attack:

We live in an age where universal values are maligned. During his papacy, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of a “dictatorship of relativism” and “an attack on truth” that defined the modern era. This is on display when a candidate with close financial ties to despotic middle eastern regimes can be the flag bearer of liberal feminists, while cultural and religious conservatives line up behind a candidate who brags about dodging sexually transmitted diseases being “his personal Vietnam” and who was recorded boasting about committing sexual assault.

It is now possible to choose media sources so as to never read or watch a news story that challenges one’s point of view. This is a problem that affects both sides of the political divide. Its consequence is first and foremost a devastating loss of empathy in our society—an increased intolerance for dissenting views and voices that is seen in the comments sections of conservative websites and the safe spaces on our college campuses. Fewer and fewer values are viewed as common, shared or universal and this is an urgent danger.

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Screenshot of Google Earth Satellite image of Chaeha Market in Sinuiju. Screenshot taken 11/23/2016.

“If North Korea shuts downs markets, it will collapse too,” defector Cha Ri-hyuk explains. Satellite images and testimonies from those who have fled the oppressive regime of Kim Jong-un are demonstrating the power of markets. A new report from Hyung-Jin Kim looks at this phenomenon in the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea.

These markets, jangamadangs, are primarily supplied with goods smuggled from China or South Korea. There are hundreds of markets where people can purchase anything from skinny jeans to locally made food. Although South Korean products are illegal, the demand for clothes and entertainment from South Korea is especially high. One defector, Lee O.P., says that despite charging high prices, she would still sell out of South Korean products. She sold clothes in the market until she was able to defect to South Korea. (more…)

President-elect Donald Trump

President-elect Donald Trump

Sen. Lindsey Graham, Republican from South Carolina, wants to change the rules of one of the biggest crony capitalist organizations in Washington.  He wants to make it easier for the Export Import Bank to dish out large amounts of corporate welfare to companies such as Boeing, which already brings in revenues upward of $95 billion per year.

USA Today reported in a recent article that “Graham, as chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that funds foreign operations, has added a provision to the 2017 spending bill that would allow the Export-Import Bank to consider projects of more than $10 million.”

Many supporters of free trade have long opposed the cronyism and corporate welfare of the Export-Import Bank, all while only celebrating minor victories.  In the summer of 2015, the Export-Import Bank’s charter expired forcing it to close its doors until five months later when Congress reauthorized the bank for another five years.

Another minor victory for those who oppose the Export-Import Bank might be the election of Donald Trump.  Although evidence from Trump’s past portrays him as a mercantilist, the president-elect is on record of making critical remarks toward the Export-Import Bank:

I don’t like it because I don’t think it’s necessary. It’s a one-way street also. It’s sort of a featherbedding for politicians and others, and a few companies. And these are companies that can do very well without it. So I don’t like it. I think it’s a lot of excess baggage. I think it’s unnecessary. And when you think about free enterprise it’s really not free enterprise. I’d be against it.

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President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel

President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel

President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel held their last joint press conference as heads of state on Thursday, pressing national leaders – in President Obama’s words – “not to take for granted the importance of the transatlantic alliance.” And they grounded that longstanding partnership on their conception of the bedrock principles that they believe unite North America and the EU.

“The commitment of the United States to Europe is enduring and it’s rooted in the values we share,” Obama said, “our commitment to democracy, our commitment to the rule or law, our commitment to the dignity of all people, in our own countries and around the world.” Merkel agreed that the transatlantic alliance is “based on our shared values.” The tone and content of their press conference echoed Merkel’s statement following Donald Trump’s election as president, as well as their joint New York Times op-ed, also published Thursday, in which Obama and Merkel call on transatlantic nations to “seize the opportunity to shape globalization based on our values and our ideas.”

The notion of shared U.S.-European values has undergone a resurgence since America’s presidential election. French socialist president François Hollande urged President-elect Trump to “respect” such “principles” as “democracy, freedoms, and the respect of every individual.” Other EU leaders have made similar statements. (more…)

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Did Pope Francis just publicly endorse Communism? Recent comments have prompted many to suggest he has. During an interview with Eugenio Scalfari, they had the following exchange:

[Scalfari:] You told me some time ago that the precept, “Love your neighbour as thyself” had to change, given the dark times that we are going through, and become “more than thyself.” So you yearn for a society where equality dominates. This, as you know, is the programme of Marxist socialism and then of communism. Are you therefore thinking of a Marxist type of society?
[Francis:] “It it has been said many times and my response has always been that, if anything, it is the communists who think like Christians. Christ spoke of a society where the poor, the weak and the marginalized have the right to decide. Not demagogues, not Barabbas, but the people, the poor, whether they have faith in a transcendent God or not. It is they who must help to achieve equality and freedom” (emphasis added)

Acton’s director of research, Samuel Gregg, suggests that there’s something else going on. In a recent article for The Stream, he begins: “Marxists, Marxist ideas and Marxist regimes have brought death and destruction to millions. Yet according to Pope Francis, “if anything, the communists think like Christians.” What’s going on here?” He goes on to note that though some have accused the Pope of “Marxist sympathies,” that is simply not true: (more…)

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Vernon L. Smith speaks to Samuel Gregg at Acton University.

UPDATE: The full interview is now available online.

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In June, Nobel economist Vernon L. Smith gave an Acton University speech titled “Faith and the Compatibility of Science and Religion.” While he was in Grand Rapids, he sat down with Victor V. Claar and went into some of the specifics of his lecture, as well as his vast experience in economics, including experimental economics. Their conversation was recorded as the cover feature for the Fall issue of Religion & Liberty. As a preview for this publication — which will be available soon — enjoy part of the conversation between these two esteemed economists:

Victor Claar: How did you first become interested in economics?

Vernon Smith: Well, I was an undergraduate at Cal Tech. I didn’t even know that economics existed. I was studying physics, chemistry, and mathematics. As a senior, we had a course, Principles of Economics. I was just fascinated by economics. By then, I pretty much decided I probably wouldn’t continue in science or engineering. I hadn’t decided what to do instead. But I took that course, and then I knew what I wanted to do next, which was to go back home: to the University of Kansas. I chose Kansas because that’s where I was from and, being entirely self-supporting, I could take advantage of their low in-state tuition. So I got a master’s degree there in economics. (more…)