Archived Posts April 2005 - Page 3 of 12 | Acton PowerBlog

Blog author: jballor
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
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S.T. Karnick at Signs of the Times passes along the words of Dr. Sean Gabb, an English Libertarian author, on the debate about fair trade, which is driven in large part by Christian groups (see Acton Commentaries here and here). Dr. Gabb contends, contrary to the claims of the ecumenical movement, that

“To call the actually existing order liberal—or ‘neo-liberal’—is as taxonomically accurate as calling the old Soviet Communist Party syndicalist. That order is based on tariffs, subsidies and a web of other often invisible regulations. The international institutions are a projection of Western states. The multinational corporations are creatures of these states. They shelter behind the privilege of limited liability. They get their political friends to cartelise markets, and do favours in return.”

“This is not market liberalism. It is a fraud played on us all by our ruling classes—these being those politicians, bureaucrats, educators, lawyers and media and business people who derive wealth, power and status from an enlarged and activist state.”

As a result, Gabb does not support the current free trade system, although it is far better than the presently offered alternative, so-called fair trade. “But give me a straight choice between this and the economics of the jungle that is fair trade,” he said, “and I will choose the present system. Global corporatism may be unfair. But it does at least allow some wealth to be created. It does allow at least some rational economic calculation. Fair trade simply gives even more power to politicians and bureaucrats and favoured business interests in poor countries—that is, to the very people and interests that made and have kept these countries poor.”

Blog author: jballor
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
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An excerpt from a worthy commencement address by Mark Helprin, “Defend Civilization Itself,” delivered at Hillsdale College on May 24, 2002:

I ask you to join this brotherhood, and, in your own way, whatever that may be, to defend and champion the sanctity of the individual, free and objective inquiry, government by consent of the governed, freedom of conscience, and the pursuit — rather than the degradation and denial — of truth and of beauty. I ask you to defend a civilization so buoyant with the presence of God that it need never compel others in His name. I ask you to defend a civilization that rather than deliberately obscuring the difference between combatants and non-combatants, struggles to maintain and respect it. I ask you to defend a civilization of immeasurable achievement, brilliance, and freedom. I ask you to defend civilization itself.

HT: Professor Plum’s EducatioNation

Blog author: jballor
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
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Investigative reporter Steve Wilson has been under attack from public officials in both Detroit and the suburb of Warren, Michigan. And now, a group of Detroit pastors is calling for his termination, according to the Detroit Free Press.

“Whereas Warren officials accused Wilson of mischaracterizing a trip to Costa Rica, more than two dozen pastors said their ire peaked when they heard that the muckraker had, in their words, harassed Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick on a Friday flight home from Boston,” writes M.L. Elrick.

Wilson has been on a dogged pursuit of corruption in city governments. A quick survey of Wilson’s reports on the site of his employer, WXYZ TV in Detroit, turns up this gem: video of Wilson tracking down Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick at a mayors’ convention and being unceremoniously escorted into a meeting with a wall by one of the mayor’s bodyguards after Kilpatrick dodges his questions.

HT: Poynter Online – Romanesko

Blog author: jballor
Monday, April 25, 2005
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The big box giant Wal-Mart is under attack again, this time by a coalition of varied opponents. The group, named “Wal-Mart Watch,” took out an ad in The New York Times last Wednesday, accusing the retailer “of low pay and meager employee benefits that force their workers to rely on Medicaid, food stamps, and federal housing to survive,” according to an Associated Press report.

The Sierra Club, which has long opposed urban sprawl, is one of the groups involved with Wal-Mart Watch. This ad campaign is the latest in a series of scathing critiques of Wal-Mart. The May issue of Christianity Today contains an article detailing some of the efforts of Christian activists questioning the practices of the chain, “Deliver Us from Wal-Mart?” by Jeff M. Sellers.
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In an excellent survey of the writings of Cardinal Ratzinger, Michael S. Horton explores some of the implications of the election of Pope Benedict XVI for Protestantism. After providing a brief background of the relationship between Ratzinger and Pope John Paul II, Horton addresses “some of the representative statements by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, to obtain a better idea of what we might expect from his pontificate. Hopefully we will see that there is much to appreciate in an age of increasing pressure to conform the church’s message to the spirit of the age, while also recognizing the distance that remains between genuinely evangelical churches and the Bishop of Rome.”

I find that the heart of the matter lies in the observation that “those who argue for orthopraxis over orthodoxy forget that with this ‘facile’ and ‘superficial slogan,’ that ‘the contents of orthopraxis, the love of neighbor, radically change (always, but today above all) in keeping with the manner and way orthodoxy is understood’ (23).” In this way, the proper understanding of the relationship between orthodoxy and orthopraxis acts as a check on the tendency to understand unity purely in practical terms, at the expense of doctrinal concord.

Reuters South Africa reports that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi arranged a new coalition government on Saturday, “ending weeks of political turmoil that aroused fears of economic instability in Italy.”

The report also states, “Amongst the winners on Saturday was the UDC’s Rocco Buttiglione, who switches from being minister for European Affairs to the more prestigious culture minister.”

Buttiglione, a member of the Acton Institute Board of Advisors, recently spoke about Pope Benedict XVI. According to the Zenit News Agency,

Rocco Buttiglione, and Italian politician and expert on Pope John Paul II’s thought, was interviewed by the Italian newspaper La Repubblica on Wednesday. Buttiglione, who first met the future Benedict XVI over 30 years ago, commented that the German is a great theologian, “one of the greatest intellectuals of our time,” who also has a marked sense of humor.

One of the key ideas of the new Pope, Buttiglione explained, is that we need to rediscover the eternal truths in the context of modern society. Modernity poses many questions, but it is in Christ that we find the answers. It is in this sense, Buttiglione continued, that Cardinal Ratzinger as prefect for the doctrinal congregation took action, not as some kind of disciplinarian, but as someone who wanted to preserve the essential elements of the Christian faith. A task he will surely continue to carry out.

Blog author: jballor
Monday, April 25, 2005
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According to yesterday’s Independent, “In the first modification of its kind, Japanese researchers have inserted a gene from the human liver into rice to enable it to digest pesticides and industrial chemicals.”

When I wrote up a theological framework for evaluating GM foods, I wasn’t considering the use of human genes. This certainly complicates matters. It sounds like something from the Twilight Zone.

HT: SciFi Faith Golfer