Posts tagged with: christianity

kindness-heart-image-orgspringSurely, there is not one social conservative or conservative Christian that has not been shaken by the events in our nation over the last week or two. It seems as if everything we know and believe to be true has been cast aside and trampled upon. Should we take the Benedict option? The Buckley option? Should we just put our heads down and go quietly about our lives, hoping no one notices us?

The New York Times’ David Brooks has an idea worth pondering. First, he says (as have many others), we must realize we live in a post-Christian culture. (I think most of us have gotten this point, loud and clear.) Perhaps though, Brooks opines, we are now in a post-cultural war culture as well. It’s over – at least to a point.

Consider putting aside, in the current climate, the culture war oriented around the sexual revolution.

Put aside a culture war that has alienated large parts of three generations from any consideration of religion or belief. Put aside an effort that has been a communications disaster, reducing a rich, complex and beautiful faith into a public obsession with sex. Put aside a culture war that, at least over the near term, you are destined to lose.

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Blog author: bwalker
Thursday, June 25, 2015
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Conservative Catholics Try to Domesticate Laudato Si
Patricia Miller, Religion Dispatches

Meanwhile, the response from the US leadership of the church to Francis’ urgent plea for action has been noticeably muted. Mark Silk reports that at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ eagerly anticipated presser on the encyclical last week, Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl and other leaders seemed to go out of their way to tone down Francis’ message….

Pope Francis’s Poverty And Environment Ideas Will Worsen Both
Kathleen Hartnett White, The Federalist

As a lifelong Catholic with graduate degrees in religious studies and a long stint as the head of an environmental agency second in size only to the Environmental Protection Agency, I am deeply troubled by Pope Francis’ encyclical “Praise to You, Lord (Laudato, Si’): On Care of Our Common Home.” Long anticipated for revelation of the pope’s support for a global climate treaty, the encyclical is, and is not, focused on global warming.

Where Did Pope Francis’s Extravagant Rant Come From?
Maureen Mullarkey, The Federalist

Subversion of Christianity by the spirit of the age has been a hazard down the centuries. The significance of “Laudato Si” lies beyond its stated concern for the climate. Discount obfuscating religious language. The encyclical lays ground to legitimize global government and makes the church an instrument of propaganda—a herald for the upcoming United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference in Paris.

The pope’s climate change message is really about rethinking what it means to be human
Stephen P. White, Vox

What makes this encyclical controversial is its reading of contested questions of science, economics, and politics. What makes it radical — in the sense of going to the root — is the pope’s reading of the profound human crisis that he sees underlying our modern world. Abuse of our environment isn’t the only problem facing humanity. In fact, Pope Francis sees the ecological crisis as a symptom of a deeper crisis — a human crisis. These two problems are related and interdependent. And the solution is not simply to eliminate fossil fuels or rethink carbon credits. The pope is calling on the world to rediscover what it means to be human — and as a result, to reject the cult of economic growth and material accumulation

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Blog author: bwalker
Thursday, June 11, 2015
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Pope’s new encyclical will provoke backlash, says Peruvian archbishop
Catholic Herald

Archbishop Pedro Barreto Jimeno of Huancayo, Peru, told Catholic News Service: “(The encyclical) will have many critics, because they want to continue setting rules of the game in which money takes first place. We have to be prepared for those kinds of attacks.”

Protecting the Whole of Creation
La Civiltà Cattolica

In many societies, from the 1970s to the beginning of the 1990s, awareness of ecological threats grew consistently and progressively. Saint John Paul II was the first pope to talk about the consequences of industrial growth, massive urban concentrations and vastly increased energy needs.

Martyred American nun could be the patron saint of the pope’s eco-encyclical
John L. Allen Jr, Crux

On Thursday, however, Francis provided an indirect clue that there’s another strong candidate as the patron, someone much closer in time though not yet formally declared a saint: Sister Dorothy Stang, an American missionary nun assassinated in Brazil in 2005 for defending the Amazon rainforest and the rights of poor farmers.

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I was reading through Abraham Kuyper’s inaugural speech at the founding of the Free University in Amsterdam, in which he lays out his vision of “sphere sovereignty,” and this passage struck me as particularly noteworthy. It is reminiscent of the appeal that Aslan makes to the “Deeper Magic” wrought at the dawn of creation in Narnia (and by which, incidentally, he overcomes the tyrannical claims to absolute sovereignty made by the White Witch):

Sphere sovereignty defending itself against State sovereignty: that is the course of world history even back before the Messiah’s sovereignty was proclaimed. For though the Royal Child of Bethlehem protects sphere sovereignty with His shield, He did not create it. It existed of old. It lay in the order of creation, in the structure of human life; it was there before State sovereignty arose.

Kuyper goes on to say much more about sphere sovereignty, including the historical form the struggle between sphere and State sovereignty has taken.

Read “Sphere Sovereignty” in Abraham Kuyper: A Centennial Reader, ed. James D. Bratt (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998). There’s also another version of the speech available here.

And check out more details on the ongoing work of the Abraham Kuyper Translation Society.

Author and social critic Os Guinness joined us here at the Acton Building on April 28 (an event that had to be rescheduled due to an earlier encounter with the glorious mess that is Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport) to discuss his most recent book, Renaissance: The Power of the Gospel However Dark the Times.

Many Christians today are discouraged by current events, and left wondering if the best days of the Christian faith are behind us. Guinness answers with a resounding “no,” but notes that the church in the modern world has some very large tasks ahead of it, not the least of which is shedding its own worldliness. Video of Guinness’ presentation is below.

thornburyPresident of  The King’s College in New York City and one of this year’s Acton University plenaries, Greg Thornbury, gives his top 5 book picks for today’s college students.

1. Plato’s Dialogues

Plato’s dialogues are good for virtually everything that ails our society. He takes on relativism, skepticism, materialism, and incivility. Gorgias clarifies the difference between truth-seeking and posturing.

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090806-N-6220J-004President Obama remarked that he would like faith organizations and churches to speak to poverty solutions “in a more forceful fashion” at a Georgetown University summit in mid-May. The meeting included faith leaders from Catholic and evangelical denominations, and included political thinkers Robert Putnam of Harvard, and the American Enterprise Institute’s Arthur Brooks.

Putnam said the voice of the faithful in the U.S. is critical to alleviating poverty.

Without the voice of faith, it’s going to be very hard to push this to the top of the agenda,” said Putnam, co-author of “American Grace,” and “Our Kids,” a book about the widening gap between rich and poor children in America.

If religious observance includes an obligation to the poor, the religious can be a powerful force for positive action and social justice, said Putnam.

Rev. Robert Sirico, co-founder of the Acton Institute, commented on the summit’s call for more involvement by churches in meeting the needs of the poor. (more…)

benedict newspaperWe are five months into 2015, and life is still unjust. People are still ignorant and hurting each other. All the things we hope and pray for – peace, love, faith, understanding – still seem unattainable.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger) has spent his life thinking, theologically, about these things. In today’s Crisis Magazine, author James Day examines Ratzinger’s writings and teachings regarding “the source of mankind’s pervading unhappiness and alienation from each other and God.”

Ratzinger has seen in his lifetime a world transformed from celebrating widespread Catholic feast days in the “years of Our Lord,” Annis Domini—A.D.—to the artificial designation of the relativistic Common Era, and with it, an abandonment of things divine and a lowering of standards so much so we dare not contemplate forgiveness, reconciliation, and a new way. This transformation has been a disaster for both the possibility of real change and recognizing the impact of Benedict’s place in culture’s wake. James V. Schall’s reflection written the week of the pope’s abdication continues to hold true today: “Anyone who is not aware of the intellectual caliber of Benedict simply reveals his own incompetence or incomprehension.”

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poorbox1For those in poverty, or those simply facing tough times, churches are often places they turn to for help. It may be organized aid: soup kitchens and food pantries. It may be a gas card given to a single mom who is struggling to get from one pay day to another. But if that help comes with merely a handout, and no spiritual support, is the church failing the poor?

Ross Douthat says so. In his May 16 column for The New York Times, Douthat first takes to task the “progressive” claim that churches are too focused on hot-button issues like same-sex marriage and abortion, and not enough on really helping people.

Over the last 30 years,” Harvard’s Robert Putnam told The Washington Post, “most organized religion has focused on issues regarding sexual morality, such as abortion, gay marriage, all of those. I’m not saying if that’s good or bad, but that’s what they’ve been using all their resources for … It’s been entirely focused on issues of homosexuality and contraception and not at all focused on issues of poverty.”

President Obama’s version, delivered when he shared a stage with Putnam at Georgetown University, was nuanced but similar in thrust: “Despite great caring and concern,” the president remarked, when churches pick “the defining issue” that’s “really going to capture the essence of who we are as Christians,” fighting poverty is often seen as merely “nice to have” compared to “an issue like abortion.”

It would be too kind to call these comments wrong; they were ridiculous.

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Prof. Harry Veryser stars in a new video from ISI that explores some of the lessons about private property, rights, responsibilities, and stewardship that can be gleaned from the thought of Thomas Aquinas.

For a much more in-depth exposition of the connections between and lessons from Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas, check out John Mueller’s Redeeming Economics (ISI, 2010). For more, check out a slate of review essays on Mueller’s book published in Research in the History of Economic Thought & Methodology, including a piece by me, “The Economies of Divine and Human Love.”