Archived Posts November 2005 - Page 4 of 6 | Acton PowerBlog

Well, maybe not exactly. But apparently not every European nation has decided to turn its back on Christianity.

The EUObserver reports that Slovaks are voting this week on their national euro coin design – and some notably Christian images are leading. (Click here to see the images.)


It’s quite noteworthy that the Christian images are popular rather than dictated by the government. Not surprisingly, many Poles are pushing for the image of Pope John Paul II on their euro. Now if only the people of Europe could decide on other matters directly affecting them….

Blog author: jballor
Monday, November 14, 2005

By now most everyone has heard about Pat Robertson’s warning to a Pennsylvania town that voted out their school board. The move seemed to be in response to the board’s attempt to introduce curriculum including “intelligent design” theory. In an announcement to the people of Dover, PA, Robertson said: “if there is a disaster in your area, don’t turn to God — you just rejected Him from your city.”

Robertson advised the city’s residents to seek assistance from someone other than God if trouble were to overtake them: “God is tolerant and loving, but we can’t keep sticking our finger in his eye forever. If they have future problems in Dover, I recommend they call on Charles Darwin. Maybe he can help them.”

No one ever accused Robertson of a lack of rhetorical flourish. But beyond where his point may be legitimate, that intelligent design should not be banned from public schools, Robertson makes the mistake of confusing belief in a generic “intelligent designer” with belief in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

It’s one thing to argue for the possible supernatural origins of the universe. It’s quite another to identify those origins with the God of the Bible. This is a point that seems to largely be lost on the evangelical world, even among those who are somewhat more circumpsect and thoughtful that Pat Robertson. I wonder, in fact, whether it would be much more palatable for Robertson if the people of Dover prayed to the “unknown god” of intelligent design rather than Charles Darwin.

Supernatural theism in general is closer to Christian belief than naturalistic atheism. But supernatural theism isn’t identical with Christian belief; it’s merely compatible with it. It’s also compatible with a host of other religious views. For more on this, read Hugh Ross on why Christians should be concerned about “More Than Intelligent Design.”

Blog author: dphelps
Monday, November 14, 2005

The separation of church and state–that slippery topic–was dealt with recently with simplicity by the Holy Father. In speaking to the US Ambassador to the Vatican regarding ethics in politics, he said:

“The disturbing spread of social disorder, war, injustice and violence in our world can ultimately be countered only by renewed appreciation and respect for the universal moral law whose principles derive from the Creator himself.”

For the state to counter social ills, it must understand that societal problems are not primarily policy-oriented problems, simply a matter of the wrong combination of legislative forces. The problem is a problem in the human heart, a disconnect between the sinful creation and the holy Creator, that can be treated (if not cured) by acting in accordance to the Creator’s moral law.

Those were the words of a German-born businessman in New York, quoted in today’s Wall Street Journal op-ed by Daniel Henninger.

This lucky German continues:

“A European at the age of 25, with little money but a lot of ambition and ideas, could not expect to move outside his own country–move to say the center of France, or the center of Italy, Belgium or any other country–and have much prospect of succeeding. He would remain an outsider.”

In the wake of the riots in France, there’s been a lot written about the Islamist influences, the lack of assimilation into French life, the stagnant economy – all of which show the worst sides of both religious and economic life as its now exists in Europe. The litany of European woes is just too long to list.

There is no doubt that America, as a nation of immigrants, assimilites foreigners much easier than European countries do; I never expect to pass for an Italian, no matter how long I live here. The problems France and other European nations are facing should teach us just how exceptional America really is, and how thankful we should be for our blessings, despite our own gathering problems of national identity and multiculturalism. (On these, see Charles Kesler’s recent Heritage Foundation lecture.)

In another post next week, I’ll try to show you how just how absurdly difficult it is to reform European ways…but I don’t want to ruin my weekend.

An interesing piece in the new New Atlantis, The Moral Education of Doctors.

…the transformation of doctoring in the image of science may also obscure, in important ways, the real character of the medical vocation. If we educate doctors solely or largely as mechanics of the body, we may leave them unprepared for the human encounter with the sick and desperate, the brave and dying, the healed and grateful.

The point in a nutshell (with apologies to the author): there is a human person here; act accordingly. This seems to me to be something we might all remind ourselves of, no matter what our profession. To remind ourselves of the human element of our work–that somehow what we are doing is benefiting and serving another human person–this reminds us of the dignity of human work and of its reality to the truth of the human person. To paraphrase John Paul the Great, we become most human when we make of ourselves a gift to others. We ought to view our work, therefore, as a way we realize the truth about ourselves as gifts to others. What a fine way to see ourselves and our work, whether we be doctors or trash collectors, teachers or machinists.

This coming Sunday, November 13, is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. The effort is billed as “a global day of intercession for persecuted Christians worldwide. Its primary focus is the work of intercessory prayer and citizen action on behalf of persecuted communities of the Christian faith. We also encourage prayer for the souls of the oppressors, the nations that promote persecution, and those who ignore it.” This effort is meant to embody the model of suffering given by Jesus himself: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:44–45 NIV)

The political acceptance of Christians has been an issue throughout the Church’s history, beginning with measured toleration by the Romans when viewed as a sect of Judaism, moving on to local and occasional intolerance, and finally the suffering of sustained empire-wide persecution.

This is to say nothing of the Church’s reception by other religious groups. The apostle Paul began his career by persecuting the Church out of a zeal for Judaism. He writes that he “was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the saints in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme. In my obsession against them, I even went to foreign cities to persecute them.” (Acts 26:9–11 NIV) But Paul himself is a clear example that those who once were our bitterest of enemies can become our dearest of friends.

The one comfort that privileged Christians can offer those of our brothers and sisters who are suffering beyond intercessory prayer is a word of reassurance and hope. We are told by the Lord that along with the apostles we will suffer rejection from the world and persecution at the hands of others (Luke 21:12–19), but he says that “By standing firm you will gain life.” Indeed, we honor and pray for the sacrifice of our fellow Christians, realizing at the same time that they are storing up for themselves “treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:20 NIV)

A report published last week by the US State department left a previous listing of the worst violators of religious freedom in the world unchanged: Vietnam, Myanmar, China, North Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Eritrea. The failure to add Uzbekistan to the list is seen by some as political capitulation. Uzbekistan is seen by many human rights groups to infringe on religious freedom to the extent that it deserves to be seen as a “country of particular concern.”

Indeed, Forum 18 News Service reports that the last legally-sanctioned Protestant church in the northwest portion of the country is facing closure. According to the report:

“Harsh measures have been targeted at Christians,” Forum 18 News Service has been told by a Protestant in Uzbekistan, with the authorities especially targeting ethnic Uzbek church members. “Unfortunately in Uzbekistan today there is no Protestant church that doesn’t face persecution, whether registered or not,” Forum 18’s source added.

A prayer “For the Persecuted” from A Prayer Book for Sailors and Soldiers (1941):

O blessed Lord, who thyself didst undergo the pain and suffering of the Cross; Uphold, we beseech thee, with thy promised gift of strength all those of our brethren who are suffering for their faith in thee. Grant that in the midst of all persecutions they may hold fast by this faith, and that from their stedfastness thy Church may grow in grace and we ourselves in perseverance, to the honour of thy Name, who with the Father and the Holy Ghost art one God, world without end. Amen.

For more on the persecuted church:

“Our Particular Concern: Praying for the Persecuted Church,” BreakPoint Commentary, November 10, 2005

Persecution Blog

Forum 18

God Bless America. 18-year-old Michael Sessions was elected mayor of Hillsdale, MI, on Tuesday in a write-in campaign. Aside from having a great addition to his college applications (Float Committee; Football; Honor Society; Mayor), Sessions has shown not only what the power of initiative can achieve in a free society, but the importance of individual involvement in politics, involvement that helps keep that society free.

Four hundred MILLION dollars!

Whoops. This week, GM retracts its earnings report from four years ago, saying it overstated its profits by somewhere between $300-400 million dollars. The tendency with a story like this is to cry “fraud!” and then denounce corporate America for its inherently corrupt nature. Now, who can say what the cause is of this slip-up (blunder, goof, unbelievably huge mathematical oh-oh?)? But in the absence of the whole story, how proper is pessimism? Is it possible to be ambivalent toward GM and give them the benefit of the doubt?

Detroit auto is in a bad way (for other ways Detroit is in a bad way, see here). With Delphi in big trouble, SUV sales plummeting, and a $1.6 billion dollar third-quarter loss (that’s billion with a ‘b’), why would GM come out and report a mistake this embarrassing at the most inopportune time? If there is scandal and GM was involved in shady, Enron-like accouting, why would they fess up now? One could easily say they would get caught anyway (the SEC has an investigation going), but even so, why pile sorrow upon sorrow if you are trying to deceive people?

Speculation can be healthy only to a certain point. So let’s at least give them the benefit of the doubt. For once, let’s make a point of recognizing what seems to be–at least at this point–corporate honesty. (You won’t hear that in the news.) See, not all guys in suits are trying to take over the world.

Blog author: jspalink
Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Black Americans have enjoyed only a mixed record of progress in the fifty years since Rosa Parks took her seat on that Montgomery bus. Anthony Bradley examines her legacy and the nature of liberty in today’s America. “Truly free blacks are those who are free to make their own morally formed choices without government involvement,” Bradley writes.

Read the full commentary here.

Blog author: jballor
Wednesday, November 9, 2005

A long oral and written tradition about the mixing of species has been noted on this blog before, specifically with regard to Josephus. I just ran across this tidbit in Luther that I though I would share, which points to a continuation of a tradition of this sort running down through the Reformation.

Luther is commenting on the Old Testament character of Anah, and debating whether we might consdier Anah to have committed incest. He writes:

We could say that Anah also slept with his mother and that from this incest Oholibamah was born and many similar things. But nothing is to be imagined in Holy Scripture without clear testimonies of the Word. Below (v. 24) we shall hear that Anah was a notorious rascal and the author of an abominable act of copulation, namely, of asses with horses. But if he had no respect for the order and sight of God and nature but dared to mingle animals of a different genus, which is contrary to nature and the ordinance of God in the creation and concerning which Holy Scripture says in Gen. 1:25: “God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the cattle according to their kinds, and everything that creeps upon the ground according to its kind,” it could also come to pass that he slept with his mother.

Here we can see Luther’s logic: if Anah were the type of person to so flagrantly violate the creation order and engage in that “which is contrary to nature” and “an abominable act,” the mixing of animals across genus, he is clearly the type of person who would commit incest iwth his own mother. I would say that’s a rather striking indictment of such primitive genetic engineering.

Luther actually thinks that we should not attribute the crime of incest to Anah, but engages in this thought experiment to show us one way of arguing that Anah could have. The basis for this commentary is a genealogical passage, specifically Genesis 36:18, which could lead one to believe that Anah’s daughter was conceived by his own mother. Luther rejects this interpretation, attributing it to Jewish rabbinical tradition, but interestingly enough at the same time affirms an interpretive tradition regarding Genesis 1:25 and the ordering of the animal species.