Jesus of Nazareth, the new book by Pope Benedict XVI, has been described as an attack on capitalism. But Rev. Robert A. Sirico offers a closer reading and finds that no such thing is true. The book, he says, “is explicitly a spiritual reflection on our own interior disposition toward those who are ‘neighbors’ to us and for whom we have some moral responsibility.”
An addendum to my Wedesday commentary, in which I highlighted the positive ecological role human beings play by developing new technologies:
Joel Schwartz at NRO draws attention to the fact that there are some scientists who, for various possible reasons, actually oppose the development of technology that minimizes or reverses the impact of human activity on the environment (called, with respect to climate change, geoengineering). To wit,
For many climate scientists, however, the goal of studying geoengineering isn’t to determine whether any particular proposal is practical or safe, but “to show, with authority, that all such paths are dead-end streets,” and that the focus needs to be on requiring large reductions in people’s fossil-fuel energy consumption.
The London Premiere of the Call of the Entrepreneur has been confirmed — you may RSVP here. This event is sponsored by the Institute for Economic Affairs and will take place at the Cass Business School in London starting at 5:30pm on Wednesday, 20 June, 2007. This event will include refreshments before the film and discussion time and a reception following.
Please remember to visit www.calloftheentrepreneur.com for up-to-date information on premiere locations and times. We will also soon be adding a list of public screenings hosted by volunteers around the country.
Iain Murray, blogging for The Corner on NRO, has this to say about The Call of the Entrepreneur:
I must say [The Call of the Entrepreneur] is the best visual exposition of the moral basis of entrepreneurialism and free enterprise I have ever seen.
By sketching the tales of three men who have taken risks – amazingly big risks in one case – and created not just money but wealth, it underlines the importance of free enterprise to what used to be called the commonwealth.
A warning: you may choke up at some of the human tales it tells. I certainly did. This is no economics lecture, but the true, very human face of free enterprise.
If you haven’t yet seen the trailer for this film, or if you’re interested in learning more, please visit www.calloftheentrepreneur.com.
With many developed nations around the world facing demographic crises, Dr. Kevin Schmiesing challenges the radical environmentalist and population control lobbies that view motherhood as a problem. Schmiesing advocates a more positive form of environmental stewardship, arguing that children, far from being an omen of impending catastrophe, have the potential to “generate prosperity, and leave the natural environment better than they found it.”
This morning Karen Weber and I had the pleasure of speaking to a group of pastors and church leaders organized by a local ministry, Project Hope Annetta Jansen Ministries, based in Dorr, Michigan. We were hosted in the group’s new building, which opened late last month.
I outlined and summarized some of the basic theological insights and implications for effective compassion, focusing especially on the relationship between and the relative priority of the spiritual over the material. Karen Weber, who is Acton’s Samaritan Award Coordinator, talked about the Samaritan Award program and the Samaritan Guide, and how Acton recognizes programs that implement the principles of effective compassion.
The talks seemed well received and we got some engaging feedback and questions. It was good to see a commitment among the people who attended to the concrete demands of the Gospel. Thanks to Teresa M. Janzen, Project Hope’s executive director, for the invitation and the hospitality.
Be sure to pass along the word about the Samaritan Award to your favorite non-profit. Applications are open through the end of May.
There is clearly a "Christian Left" growing among evangelicals in America. We have heard a great deal about the "Christian Right" for more than two decades. I frequently critique this movement unfavorably. But what is the Christian Left?
The Christian Left is almost as hard to define, in one certain sense, as the Christian Right. And it is equally hard to tell, at least at this point, how many people actually fit this new designation and just how many potential voters this movement really represents. Is there real political power in this movement? Time will tell. It seems to be a small right group now but the movement is clearly gaining in terms of public notice. It is especially appealing to some evangelical Christians who draw a lot of attention to a select set of issues that they have linked to the Bible in a certain way.
There can be no doubt that since the 2004 presidential campaign this movement has grown in popularity. It is becoming increasingly outspoken in how it frames the political issues of the day in terms of Christianity. The father of this movement is Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourners, a magazine read by several thousand. Wallis is also the author of one of the most misnamed books I know: God’s Politics (Harper, 2006). If someone my age and background wrote a book with this title I think I would be maligned for my sheer audacity and incredulity. But Wallis is a kind of hero among many young zealous Christians thus his title seems quite acceptable to them. His book is a manual of solutions and social views that represent an activist role for government in solving the issues of poverty, education, and international peace. In fact, if one issue represents the core of Wallis’ interpretation of Scripture it is the issue of ending, or at least of drastically reducing, poverty. (more…)
A new initiative pioneered by Sojourners/Call to Renewal is called “Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.” Included in the platform are “calls for bills that would push for border enforcement while improving guest worker programs and offering chances for illegal immigrants to obtain legal status,” according to the NYT.
The NYT piece points out the potential for this to be a unifying issue for evangelicals, even though few if any prominent politically conservative evangelicals are overtly associated with Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. “The concerns of the coalition mirror those of many evangelical leaders who have often staked out conservative positions on other social issues or who have avoided politics entirely,” writes Neela Banerjee as she points to the cases of Dr. Richard Land of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and Rev. Joel Osteen.
The signatories to the group’s open letter include the executive director of my denomination, Rev. Jerry Dykstra of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. Some of the language in the letter is a bit mealy-mouthed, as might be expected, but I think the statement does capture the spirit of some of the most relevant scriptural principles.
Perhaps the section that some conservatives will find most problematic is the fourth principle: “We believe in the rule of law, but we also believe that we are to oppose unjust laws and systems that harm and oppress people made in God’s image, especially the vulnerable (Isaiah 10:1-4, Jeremiah 7:1-7, Acts 5:29, Romans 13:1-7).”
Many argue that the rule of law regarding illegal immigration needs to be reinforced and respected first, before any of the proposed guest worker or amnesty programs can be effective, no ifs, ands, or buts. And it might also be debatable precisely how a shared “set of common moral and theological principles” ought to be translated into public policy. This raises the question of what is the intent or purpose of law.
The letter says that immigration reform must be “fair and compassionate.” Is the end of the law justice? Love? Mercy? Peace? All of the above? I’ve been trained to understand the normative principle for social ethics, and the behavior of supra-personal entities or institutions, to be justice, as distinguished from (although not opposed to) love. It seems to me that Christians working out of a shared and common sense of obligation to love our neighbors can have legitimate and valid disagreements over precisely these sorts of questions.
With all that said, I think the letter gets it mostly right, at least on this point:
“The current U.S. immigration system is broken and now is the time for a fair and compassionate solution. We think it is entirely possible to protect our borders while establishing a viable, humane, and realistic immigration system, one that is consistent with our American values and increases national security while protecting the livelihood of Americans.”
Last Friday, the New York Times editorialized in critique of American tariffs, which it says “raise the price of goods and are all too often based on outdated political considerations that defy logic and good sense.”
In between jokes, Gore called for a change in thinking about climate issues and the pollution that causes global warming. He was especially critical of the business community’s current focus on quarterly profits at the expense of sustainable business practices.
"That’s functionally insane, but that is the dominant reality in the world today," Gore said.
Functionally insane? Found this at EPA today:
Since 1970 (the year EPA was established by President Nixon), gross domestic product increased 203 percent, vehicle miles traveled increased 177 percent, energy consumption increased 49 percent, and U.S. population grew by 46 percent. During the same time period
and without any help from the IPCC or UN Environmental Programmmme, total emissions of the six principal air pollutants dropped by 54 percent. I’d suggest that EPA and industry are already well on the way to doing the same thing with "greenhouse" gasses.
Yeh, insane alright.