Archived Posts December 2012 - Page 10 of 12 | Acton PowerBlog

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Friday, December 7, 2012

Patrick Brennan graciously noted my engagement with his piece on subsidiarity, charitably calling it “substantive.” He takes issue, however, with my pace Brennan.” He rightly responds that “the very point of the book to which my chapter is a contribution is a ‘comparative’ perspective on subsidiarity.” He continues, “My assigned task in writing the chapter was to tell the what subsidiarity means in Catholic social doctrine, period.”

To clarify, it seems to me that Brennan is quite ably articulating and explicating a particularly vigorous and metaphysically robust version of subsidiarity often associated with Catholic social teaching, and particularly the neo-Thomist revival of the previous two centuries. My quibble, and I’m not sure if it amounts to much more than that, is with the idea that this is identical to “what subsidiarity means in Catholic social doctrine, period.”

In the papers linked in the previous post I do make more specific claims with respect to subsidiarity in “other” traditions, particularly the Reformed. But given the shared medieval (and even to a great extent the early modern) background and the diversity there, I do wonder whether that more robust, ontologically-freighted version of subsidiarity is the only version at play in the specifically Roman Catholic tradition, either before or after 1891.
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Acclaimed and accomplished, Dave Brubeck died December 5 at the age of 91. He is best known as a jazz composer, who once said Duke Ellington was his mentor. He was known to cancel appearances if his racially-integrated band was asked to leave out non-white members. He was an ambassador of sorts, as well:

“Jazz represents freedom, freedom musically and politically,” he says. He notes that his tour “to show how important freedom and democracy are” targeted countries near the then-Soviet Union, including Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey and India…

What many did not realize was how much Brubeck’s religious faith infused his music. Of course, he did write religious pieces, such as  “A Light in the Wilderness,” and his setting of Thomas Aquinas’ hymn, “Pange Lingua. He wrote music inspired by the astronauts and their isolation in space, in which he said he referenced Christ’s 40 days in the desert.

He believed the creative process was a sharing in God’s design:

In nature, “there is never a duplication, a snowflake is never duplicated. And think of how many billions come down,” Brubeck says. “If God can create like that, we ought to be able to reflect a bit of that.”

Finally, Brubeck believed that the biblical message of loving one’s enemies was at the heart of his creative process.

In a recent blog post, Acton blogger Joe Carter talked about the “cultural mandate” Christians:

As the theologian and former Dutch Prime Minister Abraham Kuyper once claimed, “No single piece of our mental world is to be sealed off from the rest and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’” Because every aspect of creation belongs to God, he can providentially use our interactions in the economic sphere—whether working at our vocations or engaging in the marketplace—to help us fulfill his cultural mandate.

Clearly, this was a mandate Mr. Brubeck heartily and joyfully participated in, and our world is the better for it.

 

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Friday, December 7, 2012

Science Not Way to All Truth
Wesley J. Smith, Human Exceptionalism

There is a difference between “science” and “scientism.” Science is a very powerful method of gaining and applying knowledge.

Egypt’s Draft Constitution: Religious Freedom Undermined
Samuel Tadros, National Review Online

Egypt’s Islamist president Mohamed Morsi’s latest constitutional declaration removing legal oversight and restraint on his powers has been met with a storm of controversy and protests.

Brazil’s Corruption Holds Back Economic Freedom
James M. Robert, The Foundry

Fresh charges of corruption are shaking up the Workers Party of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, as The Wall Street Journal reported last week. Reforms are long overdue.

The Knowledge Problem in the Garden of Eden
Jacqueline Otto, Values & Capitalism

It is fundamental to the Christian faith, just as it is to laissez-faire economics, that knowledge is “not given to anyone in its totality.”

Celebrated fiscal policy scholar Ed Asner, best known for pretending to be a television news producer on the 1970′s classic sit-com The Mary Tyler Moore Show, is the narrator of a new “educational” cartoon produced by a Teachers Union in California called “Tax the Rich.”

Where to begin!

This video was produced with the intent to indoctrinate children with an anti-capitalistic understanding of everything from levels of taxation to how wealth is created to the relationship between a free-born citizen and his or her government. It’s narrated by a member of the 1% demographic reviled so much by the modern progressive-Left. And because it comes from a public teachers union, it was ultimately funded with tax dollars.

Lee Doren has posted an in-depth, fact-checking rebuttal to the ‘Taxing the Rich” video on YouTube and I highly recommend that you watch both clips:
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Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Thursday, December 6, 2012

Now that we know what the fiscal cliff is all about, what are the plans for dealing with it? Below are the four approaches that have been proposed:

The Democrats’ Plan

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner offered the White House’s fiscal cliff proposal to Republicans in the last week of November. Although the proposal wasn’t released to the public, news reports say it was basically a reprise of Obama’s most recent budget request and contained the following items:

• End the Bush tax cuts for those making more than $250,000. The result would be $1.6 trillion in new taxes over 10 years, $160 billion a year.
• Cuts to Medicare and other entitlements over 10 years equal to $400 million, or $40 million a year.
• Additional stimulus spending of $50 billion.
• Authority to allow President Obama to to raise the debt limit without asking Congress in order to prevent “fiscal cliff”-style triggers from being put in place in the future.
• The White House also counts “savings from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan” in their savings tally, even though no one has proposed maintaining war spending over the next decade at the current rate.

Reception: The Republicans rejected Obama’s plan but offered to let it be voted on in the Senate. However, yesterday Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) blocked a vote on the president’s proposal.
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Acton’s Director of Media, Michael Matheson Miller, discusses the current state of American thought on state, Church, family and liberty in Legatus Magazine. He focuses on the work of two Frenchmen: Alexis de Tocqueville and Jean Jacques Rousseau.

Many of the differences can be boiled down to what we mean by community. Rousseau’s vision of community is what the sociologist Robert Nisbet called the “political community.” For Rousseau, the two main elements of society are the individual and the state. All other groups — including the Church — are viewed as inhibiting individual freedom and detracting from political community that is found in the state.

Tocqueville’s vision of community, on the other hand, is not reduced to the “political community” but instead means a wide variety of associations, different levels of groups, and layers of authority. Society is not made up of autonomous individuals and an omnicompetent state, but is a diverse group of overlapping associations like families, churches, schools, and mutual-aid societies.

Read “Community, liberty and freedom” in Legatus here.

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Thursday, December 6, 2012

Cardinal Edwin F. O’Brien, Grand Master of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher, talks about the need for vigilance in defending religious liberty around the world.

Groberg Films has produced “First Freedom: the Fight for Religious Liberty”, which will be airing on local PBS stations during the month of December. The film is described as portraying the “radical” break America’s Founding Fathers made from religion-by-law to a society that depended upon the morality of its citizenry. Noting that this was a “fundamental shift in human history”, the film seeks to portray the establishment of freedom of religion as a fundamental human right.

A preview of the film can be viewed here.

In a similar vein, Acton Media produced “The Birth of Freedom“, which traces the roots of our American freedoms and rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christian Groups Join To Support Tech-Savvy Professionals
William Bigelow, Breitbart.com

There is a growing Christian tech-savvy population that is looking to join with like-minded Christians to promote their businesses.

Q&A: Why marriage may be the strongest antidote to child poverty
New Jersey Star-Ledger

We tell kids not to drop out of school because they’ll be trapped in a life of poverty — but say nothing about other crucial choices, such as marriage. Is that a mistake?

Supreme Court rules against government in flooding case
Richard Wolf, USA Today

The case carries potential significance for future cases involving temporary seizure of property.

Tufts Finds Compromise Over Evangelical Group
Janelle Nanos, Boston Daily

A new policy seeks balance between non-discrimination and religious diversity.

Reject Apathy, RELEVANT Magazine, Tim Hoiland, Is Justice EnoughIn the recent issue of Reject Apathy, an off-shoot publication of RELEVANT Magazine, Tim Hoiland explores what he believes to be a tension between “serving justice” and “saving souls”:

This [young] generation’s passion for justice is, without doubt, something to celebrate. It’s a breathtaking sign that the Spirit is at work, leading young men and women into lives marked by the reigning belief that all of life matters to God, not just the parts we might call “spiritual.”

But in this sincere step toward activism, have other essential aspects of the Christian calling been neglected? As Christians respond to the cries of the oppressed, have they failed to share the life-giving message that is truly good news to the poor?

… If Christians are to bridge the artificial divide between evangelism and social action, they must immerse themselves in the Bible’s story of redemption. They must learn from those who have gone before them. And they must see the strength of the diversity of the Church—a company of uniquely called individuals in God’s cosmic mission.

As Hoiland goes on to remind us, pointing to the work of sociologist Rodney Stark, the church has successfully fused evangelism and social action throughout its history, from the selling and sharing of possessions in the Book of Acts to the church’s widespread establishment of schools, orphanages, and hospitals in more recent centuries (a feature highlighted at length in Rev. Sirico’s recent book).

But in the early 20th century, Hoiland believes, something changed: (more…)