Blog author: bwalker
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
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Brave Cardinal Pell challenges Pope Francis’s dogma on climate change
Damian Thompson, The Spectator

‘The Church has got no mandate from the Lord to pronounce on scientific matters.’ In that one sentence, Cardinal Pell puts his finger on what is wrong with Laudato Si‘, Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment. In that document, Francis waded into an argument about climate change and took sides. Moreover, he gave the impression that he was speaking for all Catholics when he did so; and, if by any chance he wasn’t, errant faithful should fall into line.

Pell criticizes the “Laudato Si'” encyclical
Andrea Nornielli, Vatican Insider

The British daily reminds readers that in the past, Pell “has been criticised for being a climate change sceptic”. However, straight after making those statements, which may have given the impression that the Australian cardinal was distancing himself from the contents of Francis’ encyclical, he acknowledged that the “Laudato Si’” was “very well received” and the Pope had “beautifully set out our obligations to future generations and our obligations to the environment”.

Catholics can respectfully disagree with Pope Francis on economics
Fr. John Zuhlsdorg, Fr. Z’s Blog

One can be a devout Catholic and disagree thoughtfully and respectfully with Francis’ economic-political outlook. Moral and ethical conclusions about the actual functioning of domestic economies, international banking, and global largely fall in the realm of prudential judgment. [Exactly.] Should American investors buy foreign bonds? Should corporations build factories in poor countries? Should governments sign free-trade agreements with neighboring states? All of that is up for free discussion and debate.

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Michael Severance, operations manager for Istituto Acton in Rome, wrote an article for Catholic World Report examining the economic concept of scarcity in light of Laudato Si’ and Pope Francis’s trip to South America.

Severance focuses on the pope’s efforts to promote a culture of self-control and asceticism and specifically analyzes the implications of paragraph 222 of the encyclical, where Francis writes: “We need to take up an ancient lesson, found in different religious traditions and also in the Bible. It is the conviction that ‘less is more’”(222).

Acknowledging the difference in perspectives between ecologists and economists, Severance explains how theories of scarcity and “finiteness” apply to the current ecological debate. He concludes that there is merit to the optimistic side of the conversation, which “[trusts] in human capacity to deal inventively with the increasing demands on scarce goods while balancing environmental concerns.”

Do we want less of everything in order to return to some pure form of Eden-like abundance, to go back to the original state of nature free of the high demands of industry and consumers squeezing mother earth’s resources dry? And are we really running out of finite resources, in the first place, or actually creating more because of human ingenuity?

Read the full text of “Is Less Really More? Reflections on Scarcity in Laudato Si'” here.

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
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How “Results Conservatism” Can Unify Conservatives
John Hart , Opportunity Lives

When the nation’s leading anti-poverty warriors recently gathered in Washington, D.C., House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) outlined a strategic vision not just for the anti-poverty movement but for conservatism as a whole.

Election 2016: The Little Sisters of the Poor vs. The Big Merchants of Baby Parts
John Zmirak, The Stream

Christians are called to live in the real, fallen world, not a wistful fantasyland where everyone tells the truth, secretly means well, and is just a winsome podcast or three-minute hug away from repentance and salvation.

The Distortions of Progressive Christians: How Religious Liberty is in Danger
Matthew Lee Anderson, Mere Orthodoxy

The effect of these expansions is not simply that there is more coercive power from the government being exercised on people’s lives, but that we have fewer non-governmental means of resolving our disputes—and that the government itself will increasingly be not the resolver of fundamental conflicts between citizens, but a source of and party to conflicts.

Wage stickiness and unflattering accounts of the unemployed and poor
Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution

It is common for left-wing progressives to complain that conservatives serve up unflattering accounts of the unemployed and poor, such as by calling them “moochers” and the like. But many versions of the standard Keynesian account, once we deconstruct them a bit, don’t paint such a flattering picture of the unemployed either.

Allowing people to think what they want about God and religious beliefs is a considered a cornerstone of a liberal society. But religious toleration hasn’t historically been considered a prized virtue. In fact, as Larry Schweikart says, it’s a historical aberration—an ideological revolution created by the Puritans and pre-1776 Americans.

Blog author: bwalker
Monday, July 20, 2015
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Cardinal George Pell takes a swing at Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical
Rosie Scammell, Religion News Service

Until now, Pell had remained quiet on the contents of the encyclical, despite gaining a reputation in Australia as a climate change denier. In 2011, he clashed with the then-head of Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology, Greg Ayers, who said Pell was “misled” in his climate change views. Despite the cardinal’s criticism of the pope’s environmental stance, Pell noted the encyclical had been “very well received” and said Francis had “beautifully set out our obligations to future generations and our obligations to the environment.”

State Senate resolution praises papal encyclical on climate change
Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times

Gov. Jerry Brown is taking a copy of the resolution with him to the Vatican next week for an international conference on climate change and modern slavery. He’s scheduled to leave the state on Friday and deliver speeches on Tuesday and Wednesday. The resolution, SR 37, says the state’s leaders should “consider the implications of the papal encyclical and climate change in their policy and fiscal actions to prevent further environmental degradation.”

Francis is naïve on climate change
Bernard Donoughue and Peter Forster, Church Times

WE WOULD like to emphasise that we share the Pope’s deep desire to reduce poverty in our world, and we agree that the costs should fall more on the richer nations, and the rich within nations, than on those who are poor. Our basic concern is that the environmental, and especially the energy policies advocated in the encyclical are more likely to hinder than to advance this great cause. . . The discovery of new ways to release the energy stored in fossil fuels was integral to the Industrial Revolution on which modern Western society is based. Let us not forget that fossil fuels are nature’s primary, and very efficient, means of storing the energy of the sun. Burning them has everywhere diverted human beings from burning wood, killing whales and seals, and damming streams: there were therefore genuine environmental benefits to be gained from the switch to fossil fuels.

Faith in change on climate
Lauren Heaton, Yellow Springs News

Last month’s 184-page encyclical was several years in the making and included exhaustive scientific data as well as wide-ranging expert opinion from natural and social scientists, said Jablonski, who holds a Ph.D. in plant physiological ecology/global climate change from McGill University. The document isn’t the first to confirm that climate change is mostly caused by humans — reports such as the 2014 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and conclusions from dozens of scientific academies around the world agree that most of the earth’s warming trend is caused by human activity. But the Pope’s letter is a call to people of all nationalities and persuasions to demand a transformation in the way humans operate in this finite ecology on Earth.

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communion-on-moonToday marks the 46th anniversary of the day we landed on the moon, and as we look back on that monumental moment, it’s worth remembering the efforts taken by one astronaut to pause and recognize his creator.

Prior to the lift-off of Apollo 11, Buzz Aldrin spoke with his pastor about finding the “right symbol for the first lunar landing.” After some discussion, they agreed it was a communion service, and the scripture passage he’d use would be John 15:5:

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

“We wanted to express our feeling that what man was doing in this mission transcended electronics and computers and rockets,” Aldrin wrote. “…I wondered if it might be possible to take communion on the moon, symbolizing the thought that God was revealing Himself there too, as man reached out into the universe.” (more…)

sen.scottLast week Senator Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) proposed an amendment to the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind bill that would allow Title I funds–the funds the federal government allocates to districts with high-poverty populations–to follow students out of their assigned district schools to schools of choice.

Democrats in the Senate (joined by six Republicans) successfully fought to keep the portability amendment as well as school vouchers out of the legislation. As Think Progress explains, the White House and Senate Democrats opposed the amendment because some school districts with high concentrations of poverty would lose federal funds.

This certainly seems like a plausible reason to oppose the measure. After all, who wants to harm poor school districts? But as Sen. Scott notes in an impassioned speech on the Senate floor, we must ensure our focus is in the right place—on the children, not school bureaucracies.

“Education is not about protecting a bureaucracy,” says Scott, “it should not be about empowering Washington, and cannot be about an endless, fruitless push for some one-size-fits-all type of system.”

Scott encouraged the Senate to allow portability and return some measure of power to the states in education, saying “Local and state leaders are figuring out that when parents have a choice, kids have a chance.”

You can hear his entire speech in the video below:
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Blog author: jcarter
Monday, July 20, 2015
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What Did Pope Francis Really Think of the “Communist Crucifix”?
John Zmirak, The Stream

Press accounts have been muddled by misreporting and wishful thinking.

State subsidies take from the poor to give to the rich
M. Steven Fish and Neil A. Abrams, Washington Post

In one area, however, government spending almost always redistributes income from the poor to the rich, encourages inefficiency and fuels corruption: state subsides.

Conservatives warn IRS could target gay marriage opponents
Stephen Ohlemacher, Associated Press

A brief exchange during Supreme Court arguments in the same-sex marriage case has exploded into a full-blown crisis for some conservatives who warn that the IRS could start revoking the tax-exempt status of religious groups that oppose gay marriage.

Do-gooders, do no harm: What are the best–and worst–ways to help those mired in international conflicts?
Laura Seay and Alex de Waal, Washington Post

Since the end of the Cold War, numerous international advocacy efforts concerning global conflict sprung out of these good intentions. Yet the results of these movements are often, at best, mixed, and in some cases actually made a crisis or the plight of innocent civilians worse.

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, July 17, 2015
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graffiti_litter“Modern masters of science are much impressed with the need of beginning all inquiry with a fact,” said G. K. Chesterton. “The ancient masters of religion were quite equally impressed with that necessity. They began with the fact of sin—a fact as practical as potatoes.”

Recognizing the fact of sin should be the beginning of all inquiries in how we should arrange public policy. This is especially true for those of us who champion liberty. Because order is a necessary precondition of liberty, we need to maintain order by limiting and impeding certain types of sinful behavior.

Throughout human history, sin has been restrained through norm, rules, customs, and laws, and traditions. Inevitably, certain individuals push back against these restrictions and complain that they hinder their own personal liberty. Sometimes this is true, of course, but more often than not it is merely an individual wanting to put their own self-centered actions and behaviors ahead of the reasonable needs of society.

Some have argued that as long as only a relatively few people break the norms and rules that it would have little to no affect on society. But this misses, as Chesterton might say, the fact of sin, especially the fact of sin as a social contagion.

Take, for example, the victimless crimes of prostitution, vagrancy, or public drunkenness. Theoretically, we could justify the decriminalization of all these acts since they do not necessarily harm other people or their property. I’m not likely to become a vagrant because I see one on the streets, so what harm does it do?

As it turns out, such actions do lead to harmful affects on society. As the renowned criminologist James Wilson notes:
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Kishore Jayabalan, director of the Istituto Acton in Rome, talked to Voa News yesterday about the flaws in Pope Francis’s pronouncements on free markets and globalization, as articulated in the recent encyclical Laudato Si’.

“When the pope says that this economy kills, that this economy destroys the environment, I’m not quite sure what economy he’s talking about,” said Jayabalan.

Read the full article here.