Blog author: jcarter
Friday, January 29, 2016

Where do good and evil come from? Some possibilities that have been proposed include evolution, reason, conscience, human nature, and utilitarianism. But as Boston College philosopher Peter Kreeft explains in the video below, none of these can be a source of objective morality.

So where does morality come from? “The very existence of morality proves the existence of something beyond nature and beyond man,” says Kreeft. “Just as a design suggests a designer, moral commands suggest a moral commander. Moral Laws must come from a moral lawgiver.”

FITW_World_Map_nolabels_GF2016_FINAL_940pxA new report shows that global indicators of economic and political freedom declined overall in 2015, with the most serious setbacks in the area of freedom of speech and rule of law. Freedom House, an “independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom and democracy around the world,” released its Freedom in the World 2016 Report which included some disturbing statistics and worldwide trends, particulary as it concerns the progress made by women in some regions.

The beginning of the report summarizes the situation:

The world was battered in 2015 by overlapping crises that fueled xenophobic sentiment in democratic countries, undermined the economies of states dependent on the sale of natural resources, and led authoritarian regimes to crack down harder on dissent. These unsettling developments contributed to the 10th consecutive year of decline in global freedom. [emphasis added]

Key findings from the report: (more…)

Enticed by the promise that their children could go to school in America, numerous Guatemalan parents paid to have their children smuggled into the U.S. No one knows how many made it across the border, but some of the children were detained by immigration official and transferred to the custody of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Once in the hands of the federal government, the children should have been safe. Instead, the HHS gave at least a dozen children over to human traffickers.

One group of children was sent to Marion, Ohio where they were forced to work at egg farms for six or seven days a week, twelve hours per day. According to a U.S. Senate report, the children were forced to undertake such tasks as de-beaking chickens and cleaning chicken coops.

The minor victims were also forced to live in trailers owned by the traffickers. Some of the housing was found to be “unsanitary and unsafe, with no bed, no heat, no hot water, no working toilets, and vermin.” If the kids didn’t work hard enough, the traffickers would threaten the victims and their family members with physical harm, and even death. One of the traffickers assaulted a boy and then called the victim’s father and threatened to shoot the father in the head if the minor victim did not work.

Any number of meanings are attached to “the Kingdom of God” as an essential element of Jesus’ teaching for Christian praxis. Used as just another slogan for political activism, in which the shade of meaning is usually reconstructing Heaven on Earth along collectivist lines, has me tossing the theological yellow flag. Another way to put this futile and often dangerous exercise is immanentizing the eschaton. This business has raised many skeptics. From St. Thomas More we received the word “utopia,” which derives from the Greek for no-place. Samuel Butler reminds us in his Darwinian fantasy novel Erewhon that the title is really “nowhere” spelled backwards.

Apparently unfamiliar with the above concepts, writer Gabriela Romeri in Maryknoll Magazine describes shareholder activist priest Father Joseph La Mar as one of the “dedicated builders” committed to “constructing the Kingdom of God here on earth.” Your writer must confess he rubbed his eyes until they squeaked after reading the lead paragraph:

Constructing the Kingdom of God here on earth takes dedicated builders. “Most people are afraid to do this kind of work,” says Maryknoll Father Joseph La Mar of his ministry, promoting corporate social responsibility. “You just have to sit at the table and say what you have to say.” His work takes him to high-level board meetings of multinational corporations where he invokes the Gospel to voice ethical concerns in commerce.


Blog author: jcarter
Friday, January 29, 2016

Why Bernie Sanders doesn’t participate in organized religion
Frances Stead Sellers and John Wagner, Washington Post

“I think everyone believes in God in their own ways,” he said. “To me, it means that all of us are connected, all of life is connected, and that we are all tied together.”

How to Make Liberal Democracy Safe for Religion
Terence Sweeney, First Things

Contemporary liberal philosophy is unable to respond to theological challenges because it cannot account for religious people who are actually religious.

Economic Lessons from ‘Star Wars’ Planet Jakku
Kurt Jaros, Values and Capitalism

In “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”—which at this point I’m sure most of us have seen—we are exposed to some fundamental principles of economics. In this post I would like to examine three principles: supply and demand, economic relativity, and the destruction of value

Why This Local Pharmacist’s Religious Liberty Case Could Go to Supreme Court
Elizabeth Slattery , The Daily Signal

Can a state force pharmacists to prescribe abortion-inducing drugs at the expense of their religious beliefs? This is the central issue in a case the Supreme Court may agree to hear in its next term.

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, January 28, 2016

7figuresA new Pew Research Center survey examines how voters feel about the religiosity of presidential candidates. Here are seven figures you should know from the report:

1. More than half of Americans (51 percent) say they would be less likely to vote for a presidential candidate who does not believe in God. (This is down from 63 percent in 2007.)

2. About half of U.S. adults say it’s “very important” (27 percent) or “somewhat important” (24 percent) for a president to share their religious perspective. This view is particularly common among Republicans, among whom roughly two-thirds say it’s at least “somewhat important” to them that the president share their religious beliefs.

Acton Institute and Instituto Acton have taken top spots in a new ranking. Earlier today, the University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tank & Civil Societies Program released the 2015 Global Go-To Think Tanks Report which maintains data on almost 7,000 organizations worldwide and creates a detailed report ranking them in various categories.

Acton was named in five categories and Instituto Acton was named in one. See the highlights:

  • Acton Institute is 9th (out of 90) in the Top Social Policy Think Tanks ranking (9th in 2014).
  • Acton Institute is 29th (out of 75) in the Top Think Tanks in the United States (29th in 2014).
  • In Top Think Tanks Worldwide, Acton ranks 155th (out of 175) (previously unranked).
  • 10th in Best Advocacy Campaign (11th in 2014) for PovertyCure.
  • 17th (out of 61) in Best Think Tank Conference (17th in 2014) for Acton University.
  • Instituto Acton was ranked 100th (out of 144) Best Independent Think Tanks.