Archived Posts April 2005 - Page 5 of 12 | Acton PowerBlog

Blog author: jcouretas
Thursday, April 21, 2005
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If you follow the current controversy surrounding the role of religion in American society, you might conclude that the country faces but two options: throwback theocracy or take-no-prisoners secularism. The following lines sum up an admirably clear and concise understanding of faith and politics:

The state is not the whole of human existence and does not embrace the whole of human hope. Men and women and their hopes extend beyond the thing that is the state and beyond the sphere of political activity. This does not only apply to a state that is Babylon but to any and every state. The state is not the totality: that takes the load off the politician’s shoulders and at the same time opens up for him or her the path of rational politics.

For man, the political animal, these may be hard words. For man made in the image and likeness of God, these words recognize the commands made on us that find their source in ultimate truths. The author of the lines quoted above had more to say on the subject of faith and politics. Read a homily written by Pope Benedict XVI delivered in 1981 in Bonn, Germany, at a service for Catholic members of the Bundestag in the church of St. Wynfrith (Boniface).

Blog author: jballor
Thursday, April 21, 2005
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Rev. Sirico gives a brief survey of the continuity on economic thought between John Paul II and Benedict XVI in this excerpt of an interview on yesterday’s EWTN show Live from the Vatican.

Blog author: jballor
Thursday, April 21, 2005
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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.
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Blog author: kjayabalan
Thursday, April 21, 2005
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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.
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Blog author: jballor
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
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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.