Archived Posts April 2005 » Page 4 of 9 | Acton PowerBlog

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Thursday, April 21, 2005

Although purporting to be a post about the “economics of religion,” EconLog’s Bryan Caplan discusses what is really the “economics of martyrdom,” or, to be even more accurate, the “economics of a particular type of ‘martyrdom,’ suicide terrorism.” Caplan’s comments are in reaction to a paper by Lawrence Iannaccone, “The Market for Martyrs.”

The pressing question, according to Caplan, is “How come American opponents of abortion engage in almost no terrorism, much less suicidal terrorism?” And his answer is, “Despite their fiery rhetoric, almost no Americans want to go to jail or die just to stop abortion.” Apparently self-interest is at work. Not an all-together surprising reaction from an economist.

Both Caplan and Iannaccone engage in a supply/demand analysis of the situation, both agreeing that there is very little demand for such martyrs, but disagreeing over whether there is a supply.

The discussion to me seems to miss a much larger point, that is, the Christian teaching about civil disobedience. There’s a long line of literature in the Christian tradition that talks about the complex theological and ethical considerations of taking up arms, either against the State or in place of the State that has abandoned its responsibilities.

Blog author: kjayabalan
posted by on Thursday, April 21, 2005

Reporting on an act of vandalism on the cathedral of Buenos Aires, Reuters asserts that Latin America is a region “whose poor and hungry often cannot afford to follow Roman Catholic doctrine.”

How’s that??? Reuters does not expand on its theology, but we can take a guess at what this all implies. The poor and hungry cannot be expected to follow the Catholic Church’s teachings on abortion and contraception, because we all know that poverty and hunger are alleviated by uninhibited sexual activity. It’s a nice twist on the liberation theology condemned by Cardinal Ratzinger in the 1980s, isn’t it?

We can expect more of the same, along with bogus accusations of Ratzinger’s Nazi past, from the disgruntled foes of Pope Benedict XVI.

HT: Power Line

Excellent and challenging comments from Cardinal Ratzinger from the conference held on April 1, 2005, at the Monastery of St. Scholastica, Subiaco, Italy. The entire text will be published by Cantagalli Editore, Italy. Full text of the extract available from the Seattle Catholic (Italian text at www.chiesa):

The true contrariety which characterizes the world of today is not that among diverse religious cultures, but that between the radical emancipation of man from God, from the roots of life, on the one hand, and the great religious cultures on the other. If there arrives a conflict of cultures, it will not be through a conflict of the great religions — forever one against the others, but, in the end, which have always known how to live one with the other — but it will be through the conflict between this radical emancipation of man and the great historic cultures. Thus, even the refusal of a reference to God is not an expression of tolerance which wants to protect non-theistic religious and the dignity of atheists and agnostics, but rather is an expression of a conscience which would want to see God definitively cancelled out of the public life of man and chained in the subjective ambit of the residues of past cultures. The relativism, which constitutes this point of departure, has become such a dogmatism that it believes itself in possession of the definitive understanding of reason, and that it has the right to consider all other viewpoints as a stage in this history of man which has been superseded and which can be thus reinterpreted. In reality, we have a radical need to survive and not to lose the vision of God, if we want human dignity not to disappear.

Some might be acquainted with the argument about education that C. S. Lewis makes in his The Abolition of Man, especially his idea of “men without chests.” If you haven’t read it, please do, it’s well worth the time.

But many are probably not familiar with Lewis’ view of the specifically American educational system. To this end, I’ll share some representative sections from a pair of Lewis’ works below.

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Acton adjuct scholar Alejandro Chafuen argues that the new pope places the concept of freedom centrally to his thinking. And “with freedom comes an incalculability — and thus the world can never be reduced to mathematical logic,” writes Chafuen.

Read the full text here.

On the occasion of the Earth Day celebrations this year, Dr. Samuel Gregg reflects on the role of people of faith in environmental discussions. The exercise of legitimate human dominion over creation “must be actualized in accordance with the requirements of God’s divine law,” he writes.

Read the full text here.

The days following April 15 (and our tax bill, again) I question the government behemoth and how it takes so much of MY money to feed it. My parents struggled financially; they couldn’t send me to college. But I received a great debate scholarship, worked year round and went to grad school too. That self-sufficiency, success model that my husband and I followed means that by 2004 we were increasingly penalized for our success. We can’t make all we can to give all we can to effective charities. We can do that with inefficient, valueless government agencies.

Then John Fund of the WSJ reminds me that welfare reform is working and caseloads, i.e., system cost, is down. Private charity, resourced with volunteers, still costs lots less than government programs.

But related social services, where volunteers and private charity aren’t applicable are hungrier than ever. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), IRS cash assistance for the poor, draws a staggering $37 billion. The taxpayer can really stagger when learning that government audits determine that nearly 1/3 of EITC recipients don’t qualify. Add to that the revelation that recipients are securing Refund Anticipation Loans with the EITC.

Perhaps before the IRS goes trolling for more charity dollars, as they encourage Senator Grassley to do with increased regulation, they should be looking at the food bill for their own EITC behemoth.

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Institute for Religion and Democracy (IRD), and the broader evangelical community, has lost two leaders within the space of a few months.

President Diane Knippers, “an intellectual heavyweight who rallied opposition to the liberal drift of mainline churches,” passed away Monday at the age of 53.

Ed Robb, co-founder of the IRD in 1981, also died recently, passing away on December 14.

Rev. Robert Sirico has been providing commentary in a number of media outlets. Today Rev. Sirico appeared on BBC America and The Laura Ingraham Show.

Research fellow Kevin Schmiesing wrote an op-ed appearing in the Detroit News, “New pope starts debate on direction of Catholic Church” (PDF). Director of research Samuel Gregg also wrote a short reflection for the Detroit News, “Reaction on the streets of Rome” (PDF).

Join Rev. Robert Sirico for a live chat at 11 am ET this morning hosted by Live Online at, “Insight on the New Pope.”