Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, November 7, 2013
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ChristendomOur ideal as Christians is a social world that encompasses everyday life but is oriented toward God and the good, beautiful, and true in all its aspects, says James Kalb. “In our time,” says Kalb, “the phrases ‘culture of life’ and ‘civilization of love’ have been used to refer to basic aspects of such a world, but Christendom seems the best name for it overall.”

Has this ideal of Christendom gone away?

Christendom may be gone as a matter of public law, and perhaps in the consciousness of most believers, but it’s still here as a substantive reality. Obedience and loyalty form a hierarchy for Christians, with God at the top, the Church and secular connections farther down, and natural law helping to sort and order the pieces and hold together the ones that can be used. If something in our present life finds a place in that hierarchy, it’s part of Christendom.

Read more . . .

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, November 7, 2013
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Capital Vices and Commercial Virtues
Jordan J. Ballor, The University Bookman

One of the key realities that Capital communicates about wealth is that it does not in itself change who we are.

Catholic schools work for kids
Naomi Schaefer RileyNovember 5, 2013 | 6:20am, New York Post

For decades, Catholic schools have done a tremendous job of educating poor and minority kids — yet the church continues to close them left and right.

John Howard: Global Warming Battle ‘Has Become A Religion’
John Howard, GWPF

Former prime minister Of Australia delivers annual GWPF lecture.

The Causes of Poverty in the New Testament
David Kotter, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

The New Testament has much to say about poverty, its causes, and the principles undergirding its solutions.

Royal Coat of Arms of the NetherlandsDrawing on some themes I explore about the role of the church in providing material assistance in Get Your Hands Dirty, today at Political Theology Today I look at the first parliamentary speech of the new Dutch King Willem-Alexander.

In “The Dutch King’s Speech,” I argue that the largely ceremonial and even constitutionally-limited monarchy has something to offer modern democratic polities, in that it provides a forum for public leadership that is not directly dependent on popular electoral support. In the Dutch case, the king broached the largely unpopular subject of fundamentally reforming the social democratic welfare state.

This is in rather sharp contrast to the social witness of the mainline of Dutch church leaders, at least over the last few decades. But the churches, too, have a role in acting as makeweights against democratic majoritarian tyranny.
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dictionary-series-philosophy-truthTwo writers over at Aleteia have commented on the current state of affairs with the help of Samuel Gregg’s latest, Tea Party Catholic. Brantly Millegan, Assistant Editor for the English edition of Aleteia, write a post titled, ‘Obama’s Ordinary, No-Big-Deal “Whopper.”‘ He discusses the now infamous words President Obama spoke in 2010, “[I]f Americans like their doctor, they will keep their doctor. And if you like your insurance plan, you will keep it. No one will be able to take that away from you. It hasn’t happened yet. It won’t happen in the future.” Millegan points out that millions of Americans have been told their plans will be canceled and goes on toshow an NBC report pointing out that Obama knew that Americans would lose their coverage, but lied and said they would not. Millegan offers several more analysts and studies that demonstrate that the administration knew Americans would lose coverage but continued to publicly deny it. He quotes Anthony Esolen, professor of Renaissance English Literature and the Development of Western Civilization at Providence College:

Did Barack Obama lie? Of course he did. The American people can hardly be told the truth about anything…Politicians lie to us, because we want to hear their lies; we lie to ourselves just as well. When you fairly admit the Machiavellian premise that there is no good beyond the political, then what can possibly restrain you from lying, especially when you can get away with it?

He then quotes from Samuel Gregg’s Tea Party Catholic. Gregg points out that this issue is merely a symptom of something much deeper: “The willingness to tell the truth, but also the ability to listen to the truth, is in increasingly short supply today.”  (more…)

“We hear a lot about ‘too big to fail’ banks and other financial institutions,” says Jordan Ballor in this week’s Acton Commentary. “But what about a federal government whose size and scope have become so vast as to crowd out civil institutions?”

The existence of banks that are too big to fail is in significant ways the result of the actions of a government that is too big to flourish. Even a cursory glance at the federal spending figures over recent decades, and particularly over the last few years, is sobering. For the first time since 2008, the 2013 federal budget deficit is projected to be below $1 trillion, a surge of debt that has ballooned the federal debt to nearly $17 trillion. Even this most recent dip below a deficit of $1 trillion to $680 billion represents a historically high level of additional debt. Federal spending labeled “mandatory,” including outlays like Social Security and interest payments, has increased from roughly 6 percent in 1963 to nearly 15 percent of GDP fifty years later. These increases in unsustainable patterns of spending are driven largely by increases in entitlements: from 2002 to 2012 spending on Social Security increased by more than 35 percent, while Medicare spending grew by more than 63 percent.

Read the full text of his essay here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.

Sid Meir's CivilizationMy wife despises Sid Meier. She’s never met him, nor would she even recognize his name. But she knows someone is responsible for creating the source of my addiction.

For over twenty years I’ve spent (or wasted, as my wife would say) countless hours playing Civilization, Meier’s award-winning strategy game. Every time I play the game I enter an almost trance-like state of complete immersion. According to positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, what I’m experiencing in that moment is known as “flow.” Csíkszentmihályi describes the mental state of flow as,

being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.

According to Csíkszentmihályi, there are ten factors that accompany the experience of flow:
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Blog author: jballor
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
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Bansky No StoppingOver at the University Bookman today, I review John Lanchester’s novel Capital. I recommend the book.

I don’t explore it in the review, “Capital Vices and Commercial Virtues,” but for those who have been following the antics of Banksy, there is a similar performance artist character in the novel that has significance for the development of the narrative.

As I write in the review, the vice of envy, captured in the foreboding phrase, “We Want What You Have,” animates the book. Capital “provides a richly textured and challenging narrative of the challenges of affluence, the temptations of materialism and envy, and the need for true human community expressed in a variety of social institutions.”

I note the insights of my friend and colleague Victor Claar in the review, and for a more thorough academic engagement of the ethics and economics of envy, check out our co-authored paper recently accepted for publication in Faith & Economics, “Envy in the Market Economy: Sin, Fairness, and Spontaneous (Dis)Order,” as well as my piece slated to appear in Philosophia Reformata, “The Moral Challenges of Economic Equality and Diversity.”