Category: News and Events

??????????????Christian’s Library Press has now released Psalms II, the fifth primer in its Opening the Scriptures series, and the second in a two-part release on the book of Psalms. The book is currently available for order on Amazon.

Written by Dutch Reformed minister Frans van Deursen, and newly translated by Nelson D. Kloosterman, the volume provides an introduction to Psalms, a book which serves as “the oldest songbook that God’s people possess,” as well as the “oldest breviary or prayer book,” the author writes.

Like other volumes in the series, Psalms II is neither a technical commentary nor a collection of sermons, but rather an accessible primer for the average churchgoer. In this case, van Deursen hopes we learn lessons on both theory and practice when it comes to the great tasks of honor and worship, prayer and praise.

Whereas the first part provided a bit more of core theological and historical set-up on the Psalms as a whole, Psalms II dives straight into the summaries and analyses on the individual psalms themselves.

Van Deursen connects each psalm with many others and notes its Biblical surroundings, historical context, and the implications within our post-crucifixion Christian reality.

As an example of this approach in action, in examining Psalm 119, van Deursen notes the poet’s position as one persecuted by those who were supposed to be on his side. An excerpt of his analysis follows:

Psalm 119 is hardly a timeless poetic production about the glory of the Law; rather, it is a psalm in which a poor sufferer like Jeremiah could have recognized himself, someone who for his entire life had to remonstrate against political and ecclesiastical leaders in Judah who took counsel against him and spread lies about him (see, e.g., Jer. 36).

But the greatest fulfillment of Psalm 119 occurred with our chief Prophet and Teacher, who was smeared by prominent leaders in the Jewish ecclesiastical life of his day (he was called “Beelzebul, the prince of demons” by the Pharisees, Matt. 12:24). He also encountered “princes” like those members of the Sanhedrin who laid snares for him (trick questions) and were just as harsh as the opponents of our psalmist. And the servants of Jesus Christ were no greater than their Master. Church history often displays the pattern of Psalm 119: “princes” who “take counsel together” against innocent righteous ones who desire nothing more than to respect God and his Word…

We would encourage Bible readers, however, to read each verse of this psalm from the point of view of the historical situation of the writer. Then you will see the haze of “generality” and “timelessness” that covers this psalm for some people automatically disappear, and you will hear this psalm in terms of its flaming, polemical, confessional language—in the church world of our day, as well, which is just as full of contempt for the Word.

Purchase the book here and add it on Goodreads here. Also, see the other titles in the Opening the Scriptures series.

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Mother Earth?

As eco-warriors glom onto Pope Francis’ Laudato Si encyclical for its dire warnings of climate change, they often ignore this inconvenient line: “Instead of resolving the problems of the poor and thinking of how the world can be different, some can only propose a reduction in the birth rate.” Quoting the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, Francis writes:

 At times, developing countries face forms of international pressure which make economic assistance contingent on certain policies of “reproductive health.” Yet, “while it is true that an unequal distribution of the population and of available resources creates obstacles to development and a sustainable use of the environment, it must nonetheless be recognized that demographic growth is fully compatible with an integral and shared development.” [50]

The pope continues to explain that it’s not the population that matters inasmuch as consumerism and waste that’s the problem. But, but let’s be clear about this, the pontiff doesn’t advocate for zero population growth or anything remotely resembling it however much the climate-change crowd ignores this fact (more…)

they-pull-me-back-in-image“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!” I’m no Michael Corleone, nor am I much of a businessman, but Al Pacino’s Godfather III quote came to mind this morning after reading an email I received from Ceres’ President Mindy Lubber. Ms. Lubber is quite happy with the Clean Power Plan, the Environmental Protection Agency and President Obama’s latest boondoggle to raise energy prices in the interest of saving Mother Earth.

It seems no matter how many gallons of ink spilled in protest of the religious left’s complicity with schemes that undoubtedly will reverse the past few decades’ gains in eradicating poverty throughout the world, I’m always pulled back in.

Ceres is a nonprofit group “advocating for sustainability leadership. We mobilize a powerful network of investors, companies and public interest groups to accelerate and expand the adoption of sustainable business practices and solutions to build a healthy global economy.” Ceres’ Coalition members include As You Sow and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility as well as a plethora of other so-called faith-based investors. A quick look at the entire list of members reveals a veritable who’s who of leftist and progressive shareholder activists, lobbyists, unions and renewable-energy crony capitalists. (more…)

The religious shareholder activists over at As You Sow, Clean Yield Asset Management, and Trillium Asset Management are all abuzz over a commitment made by General Mills to adhere to the White House Pollinator Health Task Force strategy on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides (hereafter referred to as neonics). AYS submitted a proxy shareholder resolution to the Minneapolis-based cereal giant this past spring, seeking:

Shareholders request that, within six months of the 2015 annual meeting, the Board publish a report, at reasonable expense and omitting proprietary information, on the Company’s options to prohibit or minimize the use of neonics in its supply chain.

Proponents believe the report should include:

Practices and measures, including technical assistance and incentives, provided to growers to avoid or minimize the use of neonics to pollinators; and Quantitative metrics tracking key crops that are grown from seed pre-treated with neonics, and the specialty crops in General Mills’ supply chain that depend on pollinators.

AYS and the other investment groups fear that neonics are the hypothesized culprit behind colony collapse disorder, the unexplained phenomenon of bees leaving their hives never to return. However, the theory that neonics caused CCD remains extremely hypothetical, and research reveals honeybees are doing quite well, thank you very much, as long as they avoid riding in trucks. In fact, American Council on Health and Science reports that “There are 81 million commercial honeybees in the world, and each hive contains about 50,000 bees.” (more…)

Your writer has been telling readers for some time now that so-called “religious” shareholder activism is more political than spiritual. I’ve also pointed out time and again that the priests, nuns, clergy, and religious affiliated with such shareholder groups as As You Sow are opposed to corporate donations to political activities only when it suits them.

This last point was clarified recently by events in Arizona. First Affirmative Investments and Calvert Investments joined AYS in an attempt to force Arizona Public Service Company and its parent company, Pinnacle West Capital Corp., to disclose whether either had donated money to the Free Enterprise Club, a 501c(4) nonprofit. It seems FEC provided funding to candidates campaigning for seats on the Arizona Regulatory Commission, and the source of the “dark money” disbursed by FEC to the candidates may or may not have come from APSC and Pinnacle. The kerfuffle stems from suspicions voiced by a Washington, D.C. outfit, the Checks and Balances Project, that an Arizona Corporation Commission official breached ethics or broke the law by communicating with APS and FEC.

Confused? Don’t be. The Arizona Attorney General is sussing out whether the official actually broke the law. The remainder of the story boils down to the left’s distaste for private political donations, which have been protected since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Citizens United. (more…)

Bill McKibben’s New York Review of Books essay on Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si, has prompted two previous posts by your author (here and here). Working through the review has helped identify McKibben’s affinity for liberation theology and his outlandish claim that Pope Francis shares this affinity.

In the The Wall Street Journal, Lord Lawson, former Great Britain Secretary of State for Energy, Chancellor of the Exchequer and current chairman of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, reviews Ronald Bailey’s most recent work, The End of Doom. Lawson favorably compares Bailey’s book to Matt Ridley’s The Rational Optimist (high praise indeed). Much of the material Lawson recounts in his review directly refutes McKibben and, to a lesser extent, Pope Francis. The world, according to Bailey, Ridley and Lawson, and contrary to McKibben, is a much better place for the poor than it was a half-decade ago – largely attributable to technological advancements and the midwife who made it possible: capitalism.

Ronald Bailey begs to differ. As his book demonstrates, a careful examination of the evidence shows that, at least in material terms (which is not unimportant, particularly for the world’s poor), life is getting better. The overriding reason for this, according to Mr. Bailey, is continuing technological progress, facilitated—and this is crucial—by the global triumph of market capitalism.

(more…)

On Tuesday, I dealt with approximately the first third of Bill McKibben’s New York Review of Books’ essay on Pope Francis’ Laudato Si encyclical. Today, I review the middle third, which includes McKibben’s alarming defense of liberation theology and his claim that this discredited ideology is embraced by Pope Francis.

McKibben continues to read into Laudato Si things that simply aren’t there. For example, he depicts oil companies as inherently rapacious when compared to native peoples.

Even more striking, in this regard, is his steadfast defense of “indigenous communities and their cultural traditions. They are not merely one minority among others, but should be the principal dialogue partners, especially when large projects affecting their land are proposed,” because for them land “is a sacred space with which they need to interact if they are to maintain their identity and values.” Compare that attitude with, say, the oil companies now destroying aboriginal land in order to mine Canada’s tar sands.

Never mind that the First Nation people who lived in the bituminous-rich area of what is now Alberta, Canada, found plentiful use for the oil sands McKibben disparages. And well before white settlers. Then this:

But the pope is just as radical, given current reality, when he insists on beauty over ugliness.

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