For my money, Dr. Charles Krauthammer is the most consistently thought-provoking and insightful columnist around. Whether or not you agree with the weekly assessments he offers in his syndicated column, or the nightly prognostications he delivers on Fox News’ Special Report with Bret Baier, Chuck is an intellectual force to be reckoned with.

As I’ve followed the media blitz surrounding the release of his new book Things That Matter, I’m reminded of the power of big ideas and that people can, in fact, change their mind about once-held views on politics and economics. Dr. Krauthammer started out a big-government liberal who believed in the ideals (and policies) of The Great Society. But, being the intellectually honest man that he is, when mountains of data began to emerge in the 1980’s that showed just how detrimental the “good intentions” of progressive Democrats had become to the very people they claimed to be helping, he sought out new and better ways to address the needs of a complex, diverse and freedom-loving nation. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
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Russia’s “protectorate” over Middle Eastern Christians
Gianni Valente, Vatican Insider

Defending Middle Eastern Christians has become a strategic asset for Putin and is in perfect harmony with the Patriarchate of Moscow’s mission.

Anti-Christian terror is everyone’s concern
Steven B. Nasatir, OCP News

The persecution of any religious minority anywhere by anyone is an evil injustice. It requires all persons of conscience to speak out and, when possible, take action.

Religious Freedom and the Need for Transcendently Based Law
Rick Plasterer, Juicy Ecumenism

The doctrine of “separation of church and state” is in fact Biblical and constitutional, Crumbly said, but its point is “the church being protected from the state, not the state being protected from the church.”

The Church’s Role in Poverty Alleviation
Walter Kaiser, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

The “Robin Hood” approach to solving the problem of poverty has never proven consistently effective. In all economies where such forceful redistribution of wealth has occurred, the standard of living for all has dropped.

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, October 28, 2013
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Children-in-PovertyDuring the late 1970s and early 1980s I spent two extended periods living below the poverty line. The first experience came as I entered the first grade. My father was a chronically unhappy man who was skillful and ambitious, yet prone to wanderlust. Every few months we would move to a new city so that he could try his hand at a new occupation—a truck driver in Arkansas, a cop in West Texas, a bouncer at a honky-tonk near Louisiana. We were always on the move, always a few weeks away from the next paycheck. At the lowest point we had nothing to eat but a half-loaf of Wonder Bread, a five-gallon bucket of unshelled peanuts, and tap water. That lasted for a two-week period in August that stretched across my seventh birthday.

Eventually my father settled down, found steady work, and we inched our way slowly toward the lower rungs of the working class. This period of financial tranquility lasted until I was eleven, when my father walked out on my mother, my younger brother, and me. Brokenhearted and dead broke, we packed the car and moved again, my mother having acquired the nomadic tendency to run away from adversity. (By the time I graduated high school, I had changed schools thirteen times.) Single parenthood tipped the scales and we slipped, once again, beneath the poverty threshold. We survived with the aid of food stamps and government housing until my sophomore year, when my mother remarried and our lives returned to a level of economic normalcy.

I’m always hesitant to share this story because we in America tend to have a knee-jerk sympathy for the “down-and-out.” There are, however, many times, as in my family’s case, when pity is completely unwarranted. A lifetime of foolish decisions by my parents, rather than a dismal economy or lack of opportunity, led to our being poor. We reaped what they had sown.
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iraq persecutionWhile Christians in the West are often faced with moral temptations and dilemmas regarding our faith life, we do not – for the most part – know the persecution faced by our brothers and sisters in places such as Syria, Iran, Pakistan and other countries where Christians are openly persecuted. Archbishop Amel Shamon Nona heads the Chaldean Catholic eparchy of Mosul, Iraq, and knows just this type of persecution. He writes at National Review Online that there is a way for Christians to face these very difficult times: (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, October 28, 2013
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pp2my3Want to be canonized as a saint? Then you should probably move to Italy: 46.7 percent of saints lived in that country at the time of their deaths.

That is just one of the many interesting tidbits to be gleaned from a 2010 paper by Barro, McCleary, and McQuoid titled, The Economics of Sainthood (a preliminary investigation):

Saint-making has been a major activity of the Catholic Church for centuries. The pace of sanctifications has picked up noticeably in the last several decades under the last two popes, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Our goal is to apply social-science reasoning to understand the Church’s choices on numbers and characteristics of saints, gauged by location and socioeconomic attributes of the persons designated as blessed.

Another interesting fact is that after years of service, popes apparently get tired of saint-making:
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Pastor Christopher Brooks, Campus Dean at Moody Theological Seminary in Detroit, Mich., gave the opening remarks and blessing at Acton’s 23rd Annual Dinner on October 24, 2013. As a graduate of Acton University, Pastor Brooks shared the things he has learned from the Acton Institute and how those apply to the people he serves.

Tea-Party-Catholic-196x300Fr. John Flynn, LC, has reviewed Tea Party Catholic: The Case for Limited Government, A Free Economy And Human Flourishing at Zenit. Flynn notes that the book is not about the current Tea Party political movement, but is tied to American history:

In his introduction Gregg explained that the book is not about the Tea Party movement or any particular group, but refers to the many millions of Americans who favor limited government.

Flynn also takes a look at what Gregg means by “limited government:”

The Catholic case for limited government does not mean being against all government, and it also does not mean that it is an endorsement of libertarianism or an Ayn Rand type philosophy, he stressed. (more…)