“Detroit developed best when it was bottom-up,” says Harry Veryser, economist and professor at University of Detroit Mercy. “When small communities, small parishes, small schools were formed… that’s when Detroit prospered.”
In a recent discussion on what makes cities flourish, Chris Horst and I argued that cities need a unique blend of local community action, good governance, and strong business to thrive. Cities like Detroit have monstrous and complex problems, and the solutions will not come from additional top-down tweaking and tinkering. Rather, any such solutions will stem from complex networks of strong families, life-giving churches, healthy businesses, and intersecting institutions, all of which is furthered when governments rightly relate to their citizens. (more…)
The panda cam at the Washington, D.C. zoo is down. The IRS is still taking our money, but not refunding anything. Barricades are up around open air monuments such as the Lincoln Memorial and the WWII Memorial. Only 15 people, instead of the usual 90, are looking after the First Family. There are a number of government employees, such as the National Weather Forecasters, who aren’t getting paid. (By the way, the weather forecaster is South Dakota went to work anyway, because of a massive snowstorm. They are stand-up folks.) During this government “shut-down” only 17 percent of the federal government is really shut down. Most of us are going about our daily lives feeling very little effect (except perhaps a news-induced headache.) (more…)
Christians are frequently accused of conflating politics and religion. And not surprisingly, Christians like me are often frustrated by such claims. Whenever I hear such slurs my first inclination is to push back by asking who exactly can rightfully be accused of such confusion. Can they name even one person who does that?
And then I remember, “Oh yeah, there’s Jim Wallis.”
In the 2004 presidential election season, Wallis’ group, Sojourners, put out a bumper sticker with these words: “God Is Not a Republican, or a Democrat.” Wallis frequently repeats that claim yet he always makes it sound like God is a moderately pro-life Democrat. Take, for instance, his most recent claim that the government shutdown is “unbiblical.”
Wallis claims that those who support the government shutdown are “against government per se. They want to destroy the House.” The most generous thing that can be said about such a claim is that it is idiotic. But I can’t be that generous to Wallis because I know he is an intelligent gentleman. He’s not an idiot, he’s just dishonest. He knows that supporters of a government shutdown (and for the record, that does not include me) are not anarchists. Yet that is exactly what he is claiming. He knows it’s a lie and yet repeats the claim anyway.
His second claims is equally stupid. He says, “Because the government has a Biblical responsibility to care for the poor, they are against poor people. They get hostile to the poor because they are hostile to government. That’s also wrong. It’s unbiblical.”
By Wallis’ logic, opposition to the government of the Soviet Union was unbiblical since hostility toward a government is hostility toward the poor.
(It’s rather telling that Wallis has no problem with the government providing funding for abortions or forcing citizens to pay for abortifacients, yet thinks that laying off non-essential government workers is “unbiblical.”)
With Obamacare (the Affordable Health Care Act) set to begin on October 1, many companies are changing their employee health care. For some, it’s a change in what benefits employees will receive; for others, employees will be losing health care all together and told to sign up under Obamacare.
The Wall Street Journal did a “round-up” of companies who’ve announced changes. Walgreens is the largest employer yet to disclose employee health care changes.
[T]he drugstore giant disclosed a plan to provide payments to eligible employees for the subsidized purchase of insurance starting in 2014. The plan will affect roughly 160,000 employees, and will require them to shop for coverage on a private health-insurance marketplace. Aside from rising health-care costs, the company cited compliance-related expenses associated with the new law as a reason for the switch.
In The Mystical as Political, Aristotle Papanikolaou seeks to construct a political theology rooted in the Orthodox Christian conviction that all of creation, and humanity in particular, was created for communion with God. He begins by offering a helpful survey of political theory in the Orthodox tradition, focusing especially on Eusebius of Caesarea, Saint John Chrysostom, the Emperor Justinian, Vladimir Soloviev, and Sergius Bulgakov, inter alia (chapter 1). In the following chapters, he addresses the relationship between church and state (chapter 2); personhood and human rights (chapter 3); divine-human communion and the common good (chapter 4); and honesty, forgiveness, and free speech (chapter 5). In the process, and refreshingly for an Orthodox writer, he also engages Western theologians and philosophers — including William Cavanaugh, Jacques Maritain, Stanley Hauerwas, and Nicholas Wolterstorff, to highlight only some of the more prominently featured — acknowledging their genuine insights while, nevertheless, criticizing what he sees to be various shortcomings. The Mystical as Political represents a careful and irenic, though not uncritical, Orthodox Christian approach to political theology, ultimately offering a positive appraisal of liberal democracy and human rights. Although essential reading on the subject with much to commend it, it has several shortcomings of its own.
In particular, I hone in on “an overemphasis on the particular over against the general, the dynamic and the uniqueness of persons over against the static and the common nature of humanity.” As this is a continuing interest of mine and a subject I have explored in the past here on the PowerBlog, as well as elsewhere, my review is offered as open access to anyone who may be interested in the subject here.
I previously explored the subject of Orthodoxy and natural law here.
And Fr. Michael Butler lectured on the subject of “Orthodoxy and Natural Law” and “Orthodoxy, Church, and State” at Acton University this summer, my summaries of which can be found here and here.
Obamacare, the popular name for the Affordable Health Care Act, continues to find opposition from both individuals and states. The act is scheduled to take effect on October 1, 2013 for most of the country, but a USA Today/Pew Research poll finds that 53 percent of Americans polled oppose Obamacare. The numbers are even lower when one accounts for political parties.
Overall, just 13% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents approve of the law while 85% disapprove. Fewer than half of all Republicans and Republican leaners (43%) want elected officials who oppose the law to do what they can to make it fail; 37% say they should try to make it work as well as possible.
53% disapprove of the health care law, the highest level since it was signed; 42% approve. By an even wider margin, intensity favors the opposition; 41% of those surveyed strongly disapprove while just 26% strongly approve. Fifty-three percent disapprove of Obama’s handling of health care policy, an historic high.
Poland’s prime minister, Donald Tusk, announced Wednesday that the government would attempt to cut government debt by taking money from its citizens’ private pension funds. Poland currently has a two-fold pension system: mandatory contributions are made to the state pension fund and then to private funds. It is the state funds, known as ZUS, that the Polish government plans to “transfer” money from. According to Reuters:
…Prime Minister Donald Tusk said private funds within the state-guaranteed system would have their bond holdings transferred to a state pension vehicle, but keep their equity holdings.
He said that what remained in citizens’ pension pots in the private funds will be gradually transferred into the state vehicle over the last 10 years before savers hit retirement age.