Blog author: bwalker
Monday, July 13, 2015
By

Excerpts from Pope Francis speech attacking global economic order
Reuters

Pope Francis made a sweeping speech on Thursday during his Latin American tour criticizing the global economic order and asking for forgiveness from indigenous peoples for crimes committed by the Church in the past…. Here are key excerpts from the official English version and translations by Reuters of parts he improvised:

Local interfaith leaders discuss Pope Francis’ encyclical
Arlene Edmonds, The Philadelphia Tribune

The recent session sharing of ideas on how each would individually consume less energy, recycle and nurture the planet. Some mentioned the need to amplify the climate change issue even amid congregations where members were skeptical or too immersed in their day to day problems to consider it. One member suggested that one could ask them to share a simple way they could save energy rather than extend an open invitation to join a time-consuming organization or movement.

Pope Francis apologises for Catholic crimes against indigenous peoples during the colonisation of the Americas
Zachary Davies Boren, The Independent

The affectionate response Francis received was in stark contrast to the furore his predecessor Benedict XVI sparked when he visited the continent in 2007. He said the indigenous people of Latin America had been “silently longing” to become Christians before they were forcefully converted and displaced.

Heading to the beach — with the pope’s encyclical
Effie Caldarola, CatholicPhilly.com

So, as I use clean, hot water in the shower, my thoughts go to all of the people worldwide who suffer poor water quality and shortages. And those most impacted, the pope points out, are the poor. But even those of us who live in areas where spring rains have been plentiful worry about depletion of our precious aquifers. Poor public policy and overuse strain our water supply everywhere. Water, of course, is just one of many areas the pope touches on.

Bishop reflects on the pope’s encyclical
Bishop Edward Weisenburger, Catholic Diocese of Salina

The encyclical is thus a teaching document, not a set of secular policy proposals. Certainly the dialogue with science is essential. Indeed, the scientific consensus on the link between human activity and a negative impact on the environment is strong — clearly as strong as the consensus on the link between cigarettes and cancer. I find it sobering to note, too, that the U.S. military and business community agree that climate change is happening and they’re preparing for it. To ignore the science would be reckless.

(more…)

“The cultivation of imagination is to begin to integrate life into faith and every other facet, whether mundane or extraordinary, whether 9-5 work realities or worship in a church. Imagination is key to the thriving God intends for us.” –Makoto Fujimura

makotoThe burgeoning faith-work movement has does a fine job of re-orienting our perspectives about the meaning of everyday toil and the importance of stewardship in the area of work and creative service. But one area that continues to suffer neglect is that of the human imagination.

The problem isn’t so much with imagination in a strictly “for-profit” or utilitarian sense. We all recognize the importance of the imaginative capacity of a Steve Jobs, for instance, insofar as he delivers some innovation or experiment or new convenience.

But do we have a more basic concern for cultivating and stewarding the imagination in and by itself? Do we see value and meaning in simply learning to connect reality with faith, truth with beauty? Do we recognize the type of long-view foundation it takes to even get to that more “useful” Silicon-Valley phase?

As Stephen Grabill reminds us in Episode 6 of For the Life of the World, we rarely give ourselves the time and space to pause and cultivate this corner of the human intellect, and even when we do, it’s often for the wrong reasons. “We need to develop a palate for what is good,” he says, “not just for what it can do for us, but for what it is in itself.” (more…)

A bit of humility is in order. Alvin E. Roth to Russ Roberts on EconTalk:

… I think that economists have to approach their role as engineers with great humility. There’s a lot we don’t understand. Economics is still an early science. But let me read you the quote from Hayek that I included in my book. This is a quote from his free-market manifesto, The Road to Serfdom. And he wrote, “There is, in particular, all the difference between deliberately creating a system within which competition will work as beneficially as possible and passively accepting institutions as they are.”

So, that was Hayek. He understood that what makes a market free is that it has rules that allow it to work freely. And one of the metaphors I use in the book is of a wheel that can rotate freely. It’s not rotating in a vacuum. It has an axle and it has well-oiled bearings. And over time–people have been designing markets for millennia. And often the process of trial and error leads to better and better markets. But it can be a lengthy process of trial and error. And as we better understand what is required for marketplaces to help markets work freely we can sometimes intervene. And, you said ‘top down,’ but earlier you talked about Uber and Airbnb. Those are marketplaces that are not top down. People have been designing marketplaces forever. It’s what we do.

7figuresWhat do Americans think about the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment? The Newseum Institute attempt to find out in their annual national survey of American attitudes about the First Amendment. Here are seven figures you should know from the survey:

1. When asked to name the five specific freedoms in the First Amendment, 57 percent of Americans name freedom of speech, followed by 19 percent who say the freedom of religion, 10 percent mention the freedom of the press, 10 percent mention the right to assemble, and 2 percent name the right to petition. Thirty-three percent of Americans cannot name any of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.

2. About half of respondents (51 percent) agreed that the U.S. Constitution establishes a Christian nation. Women (55 percent) are more likely than men (46 percent) to believe that America was created as a Christian nation. Also, those 50 or older (54 percent) are more likely to think that than their younger peers (37 percent).

3. 54 percent believe the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage will have no impact on religious freedom. Just under a third (31 percent) feel as though the decision would be harmful to religious freedom, while only 8 percent say it will be good for religious freedom. Republicans (50 percent) are more likely to see this as harmful than either Democrats (19 percent) or independents (24 percent).
(more…)

pope-francis-01-800

Pope Francis in Bolivia | VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty

Acton’s Director of Research, Samuel Gregg, recently wrote a piece for The Stream about Pope Francis and his visit throughout Latin America. This part of the world is dominated by “leftist-populist governments.” Latin governments often combines left-wing politics with populist themes. Leaders’ rhetoric generally consists of anti-elitist sentiments, opposition to the system, and speaking for the common people. Gregg argues that this sort of talk generally puts one group against another: the rich against the poor, foreigners against nationals…etc. This is especially true in Chávez’ Venezuela where it has caused countless problems:

Contrary to the protestations of Hollywood celebrities, Venezuela is simply the most advanced down the path of out-of-control inflation, price-controls, shortages of basic necessities (such as toilet paper), the systematic use of violence against regime critics, and complete contempt for rule of law.

(more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, July 13, 2015
By

Pope calls for new economic order, criticizes capitalism
Philip Pullella and Sarah Marsh, Reuters

Pope Francis on Thursday urged the downtrodden to change the world economic order, denouncing a “new colonialism” by agencies that impose austerity programs and calling for the poor to have the “sacred rights” of labor, lodging and land.

How international relations got religion, and got it wrong
Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Washington Post

Disaggregating religion highlights the gaps between the constructs of religious governance — such as religious freedom, religious outreach and interfaith dialogue — authorized by experts, states and other authorities, and the lived experiences of the individuals and communities they aspire to govern.

How science can help address poverty
Angela Rachidi, AEI Ideas

The stickiness of the official poverty measure suggests that new approaches are needed and science may have an answer.

How Bosnian Muslims view Christians 20 years after Srebrenica massacre
Angelina Theodorou, Pew Research

This weekend marks 20 years since the Srebrenica massacre – the killing of 7,000-8,000 Muslim men and boys by Bosnian Serb forces in a Bosnian town that had been designated a United Nations safe haven.

Blog author: bwalker
Friday, July 10, 2015
By

The Pope tries to keep a diplomatic face as he receives a gift from the Bolivian president… a crucifix featuring Jesus nailed to the Communist symbol of a hammer and sickle
Flora Drury, The Daily Mail

As crucifixes go, the one with Jesus nailed to the Communist symbol handed to Pope Francis during his meeting with the Bolivian President was unusual at best, blasphemous at worse. But the Pope did his very best to keep his face neutral as he was handed the gift by Evo Morales during a trip to the country on Wednesday. But the hammer and sickle crucifix wasn’t just an example of bad taste: in fact, the gift was a politically-charged offering in a country which has been trying to separate itself from the church.

Unbridled capitalism is the ‘dung of the devil’, says Pope Francis
Reuters

Pope Francis has urged the downtrodden to change the world economic order, denouncing a “new colonialism” by agencies that impose austerity programs and calling for the poor to have the “sacred rights” of labor, lodging and land. In one of the longest, most passionate and sweeping speeches of his pontificate, the Argentine-born pope used his visit to Bolivia to ask forgiveness for the sins committed by the Roman Catholic church in its treatment of native Americans during what he called the “so-called conquest of America”.

Jerry Brown will visit Vatican for climate change talks with Pope Francis
David Siders, The Sacramento Bee

Gov. Jerry Brown, a longtime champion of environmental causes and a one-time seminarian, will travel to Vatican City this month to meet with Pope Francis and attend a gathering of local officials on climate change and human trafficking. The trip, announced Thursday, comes as Brown intensifies efforts to coalesce support for carbon reduction policies ahead of global climate talks in Paris in December. He warned government officials at a climate summit in Toronto on Wednesday that the world is heading toward “total unsustainability and ecological collapse” if it fails to reduce emissions.

A thoughtful conversation about the Pope’s Encyclical
Joel Makower, GreenBiz

Contrary to this conventional opinion, the Encyclical’s influence is limited by several important factors. First, it was published too late to affect policy decisions of the most influential national climate negotiators. Many areas of agreement have already been achieved, and delegates will be guided by more tangible and secular national and economic interests as they attempt to resolve the remaining issues.

(more…)

communistcrucifixWhen leftist Bolivian president Evo Morales met with Pope Francis yesterday, he gave the pontiff a “communist crucifix”—a carving of Christ crucified on the hammer of a hammer and sickle. Clearly uncomfortable with the blasphemous gesture, Francis shook his head and is reported to have said “No está bien eso” – “This is not ok.”

This particular crucifix is a reproduction of one carved during the 1970s by Fr. Luis Espinal Camps, a Spanish Jesuit who was a missionary in Bolivia and was killed in 1980 by a right-wing paramilitary death squad. One of Espinal’s friends and fellow Jesuits said Espinal’s intent in creating the image was for the church to be in dialogue with Marxism, and that Espinal had altered his crucifix to incorporate the Communists’ most potent symbol: the hammer and sickle.

While we can’t know for sure what Espinal intended his statue to mean, Morales appears to have clearly missed the irony of portraying the symbol of communism as an instrument of death and torture.
(more…)

opm-hackLast month the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced that because of a cybersecurity breach, the records of 4 million citizens had been stolen by unknown hackers. Yesterday, the OPM released its official damage assessment, and it turns out the number is much, much larger: 21.5 million, or 1 in every 15 Americans.

Despite the colossal failure, OPM Director Katherine Archuleta told reporters she will not resign and won’t fire her chief information officer. In fact, the Obama Administration doesn’t seem to be holding anyone—other than the perpetrators—responsible for a leak that exposed even the records of the FBI Director James Comey. (UPDATE: Today, Archuleta decided that she will resign after all.)

“I’m sure the adversary has my SF-86 now,” said Comey. “My SF-86 lists every place I’ve ever lived since I was 18, every foreign travel I’ve ever taken, all of my family, their addresses. So it’s not just my identity that’s affected. I’ve got siblings. I’ve got five kids. All of that is in there.”

Here is what you need to know about what some have called the “cyber Pearl Harbor.”

(more…)

FLOW-house-evanAs the Acton Institute’s latest film series continues to reach churches, colleges, and communities, the positive reviews continue to pour in. Andy Crouch calls it “the best treatment of faith & culture ever put on a screen.” Byron Borger calls it “artfully expressed” and “thoughtfully inspiring.” The Gospel Coalition ranks it in the top 10 best resources of 2014.

Today on BreakPoint radio, John Stonestreet of the Colson Center calls For the Life of the World “quirky and yet compelling,” “entertaining and yet thought-provoking,” answering the basic question of whole-life stewardship and cultural restoration “better than any other resource I know”: (more…)