Archived Posts April 2013 » Page 4 of 13 | Acton PowerBlog

Orthodox-Bishops-KidnappedTwo Syrian Orthodox bishops have been abducted by terrorists in a suburb of Aleppo in Syria as they were returning from Antioch (Antakya, Turkey). While both clergymen are believed to be alive, their driver was killed during the attack:

Syriac Orthodox bishop Yohanna Ibrahim and Greek Orthodox Archbishops of Aleppo Paul, who also happens to be the brother of Patriarch John of Antioch and All The East were abducted en route to Aleppo from a town on the Turkish border where they were carrying out humanitarian work.

As they neared the city, they were met with an armed group in the village of Kfar who forced them out of the car. The driver, who was also a deacon was killed during the attack.

The bishops are believed to be alive and efforts are ongoing to secure their release, NNA reports.

The Greek Orthodox diocese of Aleppo declined to comment on the incident. The Russian orthodox church has condemned the act.

In May 2011, International Christian Concern said that the Christian minority—Christians make up less than 10 percent of the Syria’s 23 million people—are more afraid of the opposition forces than of the government, because under the Assad regime there has been tolerance towards religious minorities. Metropolitan Hilarion, the chairman of the Department of External Church Relations, noted that his close contact with the bishops of the Antiochian Orthodox Church made him believe that “in those places where the authorities are replaced by the rebel groups, Christianity is being exterminated to the last man: Christians are expelled, or physically destroyed.”

Update: Some news agencies have been reporting that the bishops have been released. But the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch says the reports are not true.

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Triumph of Capitalism
R.R. Reno, First Things

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, free markets have ruled without much in the way of resistance. As a consequence, for the most part our political problems now involve coming to terms with the global triumph of capitalism.

The Men Who Built America: John D. Rockefeller’s Faith
T. Kurt Jaros, Values & Capitalism

Rockefeller was a devotedly religious man and one of America’s greatest philanthropists.

Stuck With Big Government?
John Samples, RealClearBooks

The friends of limited government tend to blame politicians and the media for its popularity. They are imposing, as it were, a false consciousness on “the people.”

What are the Economic Implications of the Fall?
Hugh Whelchel, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics

Given humanity’s sinful nature, we should be concerned about any centrally-controlled economic system that concentrates power in the hands of a few individuals.

It’s called the “Marketplace Fairness Act,” but how fair is it and who does it really benefit? The legislation, which is expected to pass the Senate, is heralded by supporters as instituting market equity to the brick and mortar retailers. Supporters also proclaim it will help to alleviate state budget shortfalls. The Marketplace Fairness Act gives new authority to states to directly collect sales taxes from online retailers. Jia Lynn Lang at The Washington Post explains:
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This past weekend, I had the privilege to attend and present a paper at the 2013 Kuyper Center for Public Theology conference at Princeton Seminary. The conference was on the subject of “Church and Academy” and focused not only on the relationship between the institutions of the Church and the university, but also on questions such as whether theology still has a place in the academy and what place that might be. The discussion raised a number of important questions that I would like to reflect on briefly here.

In the first place, I was impressed by Dr. Gordon Graham’s lecture on the idea of the Christian scholar. He began by exploring a distinction made by Abraham Kuyper in his work Wisdom & Wonder. Kuyper writes (in 1905),
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The Halki seminary near Istanbul was the main school of theology of the Eastern Orthodox Church’s Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople from 1884 until the Turkish parliament enacted a law banning private higher education institutions in 1971. ALeqM5joRHWNahzI013E9-PkQKkKTe2m3gFor more than 40 years, the law has kept Orthodox clergy schools closed. But in an encouraging development for religious liberties, Secretary of State John Kerry is urging the Turkish government to reopen the seminaries:

“It is our hope that the Halki seminary will open,” Kerry said during a press conference in Istanbul after two days of talks on the Syrian crisis and the Mideast peace process.

Kerry said he discussed religious freedom in overwhelmingly Muslim Turkey and the possible re-opening of the theological schools in talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

The Halki seminary, where Orthodox clergy used to train, is located on an island off Istanbul and was closed in 1971, after Turkey fell out with Greece over Cyprus.

Kerry also met on Sunday the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, whom Turkey considers the spiritual leader only of Turkey’s tiny Greek Orthodox minority.

Both the United States and the European Union, which Turkey aspires to join, have increased pressure on Ankara to re-open the seminary as well as introducing further rights for religious minorities in the new constitution it is currently drafting.

(Via: First Things)

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Monday, April 22, 2013

Electric Cars and Crony Federalism
Rich Tucker, The Foundry

The bottom line is that governments shouldn’t be using taxpayer dollars to push certain products or technologies.

Business, Entrepreneurship, And A Vatican Think Tank
Alejandro Chafuen, Forbes

Today, most of the topics dealing with economics and free enterprise are handled by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Its work is conducted in consultation with experts from different social disciplines.

What’s behind the funding of the welfare state
George Will, Washington Post

The regulatory, administrative state, which progressives champion, is generally a servant of the strong, for two reasons.

Economics: Part of God’s Created Order
Taylor Barkley, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics

The market economy we live and participate in everyday here in the United States is impersonal. It is often derided because of that characteristic. However, there are many impersonal rules in the universe that are part of God’s created order. The market economy is no different.

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) was one of the key architects of Obamacare and one of the legislation’s greatest champions. But now he fears a “train wreck” as the Obama administration implements its signature healthcare law. In a recent hearing he asked Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for details about how the Health Department will explain the law and raise awareness of its provisions, which are supposed to take effect in just a matter of months:

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Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Friday, April 19, 2013

What does it mean to see like a State? “In short, to see like the state is to be myopic,” says Brian Dijkema. “This myopia views geography, people, their customs and traditions in a way that “severely brackets all variables except those bearing directly” on the state’s interests of revenue, security, and order.”

An example from the institutional point of view of schools illustrates the point well. Education, and the shape of the schools that provide it, is one of the most contentious issues in Canadian and American public debate. While there are notable—and hopeful—examples to the contrary, both countries tend to view education, and therefore schools, as being in the service of the state and its goals. Both tend to see schools as being at the service of the economy and the state. Don’t believe me? Listen to recent Canadian debates about education in the trades, or consider the size of Harvard’s endowments and the culture that has grown up around America’s elite schools. It is a rare occurrence indeed to hear a politician speak of schools as places of character formation or of the deepening of wisdom. Instead, they are training grounds for the modern economy. Where deeper questions about the purpose of education are asked, they too are posed with a view to the interests of the state. Where Canadian schools—usually religious schools—attempt to maintain their freedom from central state schemes, they have faced the full brunt of the coercive power of the state. The same fate has befallen other religious institutions that attempted to work outside of the directives of the state in America.

Read more . . .

There is a saying that going to church doesn’t make you a Christian anymore than standing in a garage makes you a car. Apparently, the good folks of Freedom From Religion Foundation and the 7th US District Court aren’t clear on this…and they are making a federal case of it.mustang_gt_fastback-1965

According to Robert P. George in The Washington Times, the Freedom From Religion Foundation can’t bear the thought of a public high school graduation being held in a church, even though the only reason it’s being held there is for convenience sake:

The case began in 2009, when a secularist organization sued the Elmbrook School District in Wisconsin for its decade long practice of renting a church auditorium for graduation. The district chose the church auditorium at the request of its students, who complained that the prior venue the school gymnasium was cramped and uncomfortable, and lacked adequate parking, air conditioning and seating. It is undisputed that the district selected the auditorium for purely secular reasons namely, the convenient location, ample seating, free parking, air conditioning and low cost and that the graduation events were devoid of prayer or any other religious references.

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There are arguably two forces that may be destroying the ethics of journalism today. The first is the competition for rankings and advertising that drives the obsession to report something “first” in a 24-hour news cycle. The second is that social media exacerbates the first. These two forces make journalists vulnerable to poor, unethical reporting. We are seeing this play out in what could easily be considered unethical coverage of the tragedy in Boston by CNN and other news platforms.

On Wednesday CNN’s John King reported from law enforcement “sources” that the suspect was a dark-skinned male.
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