Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, October 10, 2013
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Freedom and Civility
Anthony Esolen, Public Discourse

Law cannot replace a nation’s customs, manners, and traditions. Rather, it should strengthen them by corroborating and invigorating the ways of a people.

New Research: Protestants Increase Involvement in Social Justice
Ed Stetzer, Christianity Today

New LifeWay Research statistics show Protestant participation in social justice efforts is on the rise.

Religious groups feel the pinch of government shutdown
Religion News Service

As the government shutdown enters its second week, some religious groups are starting to feel the pinch, and they’re also finding ways to reach out.

Four Principles of Poverty Alleviation
Glenn Sunshine, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

We know that the Bible commands us to help the poor. How can we make a true impact that respects the dignity of the poor?

people's houseToday is day nine of the government shutdown and currently there is little optimism in Washington that an agreement will be reached to end the stalemate. While many are focusing on the unpopularity of ObamaCare, or as the White House claims, Republicans are using the budget to hold funding for the new health care law hostage; however there is an even more important factor that requires our attention: Lawmakers need to get control of our budget.

In The Washington Post, Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is calling for bipartisan negotiations. Republican Congressman and former Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan called for a grand bipartisan bargain in The Wall Street Journal yesterday.

In his op-ed, Cantor quotes James Madison on divided power in Federalist No. 48. In Federalist No. 58 Madison offers these thoughts,

The House of Representatives can not only refuse, but they alone can propose the supplies requisite for the support of Government. They, in a word, hold the purse; that powerful instrument by which we behold, in the history of the British Constitution, an infant and humble representation of the People gradually enlarging the sphere of its activity and importance, and finally reducing, as far as it seems to have wished, all the overgrown prerogatives of the other branches of the Government. This power over the purse may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon, with which any Constitution can arm the immediate Representatives of the People, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure.

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“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…)

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
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In a new book, Roman Catholic Archbishop José H. Gomez proclaims that immigration is always about more than immigration. It’s about families, national identity, poverty, economics and the common good. Elise Hilton reviews the book in this week’s Acton Commentary. The full text of her essay follows. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.

Immigration and the Soul of America

Immigration and the Next Americaby Elise Hilton

America was born from the Christian mission. This is not an article of faith or a pious wish. It’s historical fact. – Roman Catholic Archbishop José H. Gomez

There is little disagreement that “something” must be done about illegal immigration in the United States, but what that “something” is has become national debate. Do we close our borders so as to allow only a trickle of carefully chosen people? Do we simply apply the laws we already have? What do we have to gain or lose from a more liberal immigration policy?
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slot machine reelsCaesar’s Palace didn’t have slot machines in the age of the apostles, so it’s not surprising that there is no explicit, direct, biblical prohibition of casino gambling. How then should Christians in America think about the growing trend of regional casinos?

For some Christian groups, the answers is based on their opposition to all forms of gambling. My own denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, calls on “all Christians to exercise their influence by refusing to participate in any form of gambling or its promotion.” However, other traditions, such as the Catholic Church, take a more nuanced position. The catechism states,

Games of chance (card games, etc.) or wagers are not in themselves contrary to justice. They become morally unacceptable when they deprive someone of what is necessary to provide for his needs and those of others. The passion for gambling risks becoming an enslavement. Unfair wagers and cheating at games constitute grave matter, unless the damage inflicted is so slight that the one who suffers it cannot reasonably consider it significant. (Catechism 2413)

A more thorough treatment is provided in the Catholic Encyclopedia, which lists four conditions that theologians commonly require for gaming to be illicit:
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Paradise0038New York magazine’s fascinating interview with Justice Antonin Scalia offers much to enjoy, and as Joe Carter has already pointed out, one of the more striking exchanges centers on the existence of the Devil.

When asked whether he has “seen evidence of the Devil lately,” Scalia offers the following:

You know, it is curious. In the Gospels, the Devil is doing all sorts of things. He’s making pigs run off cliffs, he’s possessing people and whatnot. And that doesn’t happen very much anymore…What he’s doing now is getting people not to believe in him or in God. He’s much more successful that way.

As my friend Irene Switzer kindly reminded me, Whittaker Chambers set forth a similar hypothesis in an elegantly written essay for Life magazine in 1948. “When the Age of Reason began,” the sub-head begins, “the Devil went ‘underground,'” his strategy being “to make men think he doesn’t exist.”

Setting the scene at a New Year’s party in “Manhattan’s swank Hotel Nineveh & Tyre,” Chambers constructs a fanciful conversation between the Devil and a “pessimist” — a Modern Man what-have-you, who exhibits familiarity with Reinhold Niebuhr and C.S. Lewis (an indication of rejection over ignorance, no doubt). (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
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A Catholic Response to the Demise of Rational Public Discourse
James Kalb, Crisis Magazine

To follow the news today is to get the impression that public life, in the sense of rational discussion oriented toward some reasonable understanding of the common good, has come to an end.

The Scholarly Abuse of Edmund Burke
Bruce P. Frohnen, Liberty Law Blog

Properly introduced and modulated, discussion of partial and mis-interpretations such as these can be highly useful in understanding the interpreters and the social context in which they wrote.

What Politico’s story on school choice failed to mention
James Pethokoukis, AEI Ideas

Give Politico some credit for writing about something other than the partial government shutdown and impending debt ceiling crisis. But its new piece on school vouchers creates an incomplete picture about the efficacy of school choice.

Christian Marriage and Family by Nelson Kloosterman
Nick Smith, Sylvan Manor

Throughout the book, Kloosterman draws on his experiences as a pastor, professor, father, and husband to apply the wisdom of Scripture to a host of contemporary issues.