Archived Posts May 2006 - Page 5 of 9 | Acton PowerBlog

Over at the Alabama Policy Institute, Gary Palmer takes on University of Alabama law professor Susan Pace Hamill and her assertion that Christians have an obligation to pay higher taxes. In “No Biblical Mandate for Higher Taxes,” Palmer examines her “theocratic tax inquisition.”

In one article directed at Christians in Alabama, Professor Hamill contends that to be truly pro-life you must also support paying higher taxes to give the government more money to provide more government programs for the poor. She contends that because we are all fallen beings with “…inescapable greedy tendencies…a pro-life community cannot rely on charity to meet these standards and must compel taxation.”

Read the full article here.

And here’s a quote from Hamill’s recent “Tax Policy Offends Christian Values.”

Federal law must force us to pay taxes to meet these common needs because nobody pays their fair share voluntarily. Due to our inescapable greedy tendencies resulting from the Fall of humankind, charitable giving cannot replace adequate tax revenues. An “A+” in charity will never average an “F” in justice to a “C.”

The biblical messages, “to whom much is given, much more is required”, and, wealth can only be held with a “light grip” require the tax burden to be moderately progressive. This is not socialistic confiscation.

Rev. Robert Sirico joined Laura Ingraham’s radio show last week to talk about The Da Vinci Code. With the approach of the movie’s May 19 release, there’s quite a stir in Christian communities. Many believers are trying to raise awareness that Dan Brown’s book and now the movie is a historical fiction -– not 100 percent factual history and definitely not theology. A few faith communities are calling for a boycott of the movie, and others are engaging in Da Vinci Code education/discernment classes.

In response to the popularity of the book and the movie’s advance publicity, Rev. Sirico said that “much too much is being made of [The Da Vinci Code]. I don’t know if it even rises to the level of blasphemy, its so banal … ” He and Laura covered several other topics relating to The Da Vinci Code including the Gnostic gospels and their role in the ideology behind the book, attacks on Roman Catholicism, and exaggeration of Opus Dei. If you have access to the archives of the Laura Ingraham show, I encourage you to find this segment (2006-05-08).

Rev. Sirico also spoke on the Neil Cavuto Show (Fox News) about The Da Vinci Code back in March.

Blog author: jballor
Friday, May 12, 2006

For some reason, I get the impression that both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the editorial board of the NYT need a lesson in the birds and the bees.

The NYT criticizes Putin’s plan to address falling population levels in Russia “with a wide range of subsidies and financial incentives, along with improved health care, a crackdown on illicit alcohol, improved road safety and the like.”

Thankfully for the future of humanity, the NYT has a different suggestion: “Perhaps another approach would be to see whether the population could be increased through improved democratic institutions.”

I hate to have to point this out, but populations don’t increase through government programs, policies, or “improved democratic institutions.” They increase as the aggregate result of the successful procreative acts of human beings as blessed by God.

The Times suggests that if Russian citizens were to “share in the country’s governance, riches, debates and dreams, maybe the drinking and poverty would give way to larger families.” The NYT doesn’t seem to realize that countries with “democratic institutions” that function perfectly well, at least according to the Times’ definition (such as in the rest of Europe), also face demographic declines.

What we have here is a spiritual problem that requires a spiritual solution. Yes, material factors can contribute to the aggravation or the relief of the issue, but alone they cannot be the solution.

“God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.'” (Genesis 1:28 NIV)

Blog author: kschmiesing
Friday, May 12, 2006

It’s been in the news for a few days already, but the charges and countercharges continue to fly. Anyone familiar with Catholicism in China knows that the Vatican and the Chinese Communist government have been more or less at loggerheads ever since Mao Zedong drove Catholicism underground. At the heart of the dispute is the Vatican’s insistence on its right to appoint bishops; the Chinese government sees this as “foreign interference” in domestic affairs. The government’s Patriotic Association (PA) is the bureau in charge of Catholicism in China. Complicating the matter is the fact that many (nearly all?) the bishops appointed by the PA have subsequently and clandestinely sought ex post facto approval from the Vatican, thereby normalizing their status as leaders of the local churches.

Of late, there had appeared some indications that relations were thawing. The Vatican expressed its willingness to establish full diplomatic relations with China—it’s one of a few countries that officially recognizes only Taiwan—if only the government would decisively concede the point about episcopal appointments. But earlier this week the PA ordained two bishops without the pope’s approval—indeed, in the face of warnings from Rome. That blew another chill wind across Vatican-China relations.

We at Acton have generally taken an optimistic stance on China, hoping that economic and political engagement would eventually bring about prosperity, openness, and political and religious freedom. Chinese authorities seem determined to call into question that optimism.

Yet glimmers of hope remain. AsiaNews has an extraordinarily thorough and informative roster of stories on the latest dispute here. Reading them provides a sense of the complexity of the Chinese religious situation. One senses that there may be a conflict between the PA and the broader Chinese government over this issue of Catholic bishops. That is, the PA, fearful of the loss of power, is trying to reassert its traditional prerogatives. But the rest of the government is more interested in fostering international goodwill by improving relations with the Vatican—especially ahead of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. One hopes that the PA loses that fight, and that religious freedom, which is a vital correlate of political and economic freedom, takes a big step forward in China.

My presentation a few weeks ago at the Drexel University Libraries Scholarly Communications Symposium went extremely well, all things considered. My talk was titled, “The Digital Ad Fontes!: Scholarly Research Trends in the Humanities,” and I was representing the liberal arts, particularly history and theology.

Dr. Blaise Cronin, who was going to give the first lecture, took ill and was unable to attend. The attendees were quite interested in my presentation, and questions had to be cut off to maintain the schedule, even though I was given more time than I originally anticipated because of Dr. Cronin’s absence.

I want to pass on a bit of the introduction of my piece, in which I set up the question and engage various views of what scholarly publishing in the digital age looks like: (more…)

Blog author: jballor
Thursday, May 11, 2006

Quick quiz: What’s the most obvious difference between the Ansari X Prize and the newly announced “H-Prize”?

HT: Slashdot

Many are alarmed as Latin American countries such as Venezuela and Bolivia veer toward leftist class-struggle politics and socialist economic policies. But, as Sam Gregg points out, the potent combination of state-authoritarianism, populism, nationalism and xenophobia — or “corporatism” — seen today in Latin America was also present in European fascist governments in the 1930s, and later during the regime of Argentina’s Juan Peron. One encouraging sign: Catholic leaders are now speaking out against this corporatist agenda.

Read the complete commentary here.