Blog author: jcarter
Monday, March 16, 2015
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Conservatives Band Together on Criminal Reforms
The American Interest

It’s been a good week for conservative criminal justice reform, which increasingly appears to be a unifying issue for the base and the party’s national leadership.

Could Pope Francis Teach Here?
Rod Dreher, The American Conservative

Could Jannuzzi hand out a copy of this 1986 pastoral letter by then-Cardinal Ratzinger, writing in the name of and with the approval of Pope John Paul II, giving direction on the pastoral care of homosexual Catholics? If not, why not? It reflects official Catholic teaching.

Unions Thwarting Attempted Rescue of California Hospital Serving the Poor
Steven Greenhut , Reason

Costly contract provisions from the state attorney general are making it more difficult for a hospital to be sold, and saved.

The Economic Scars of Domestic Abuse
Bourree Lam, The Atlantic

The financial damage done to those in violent relationships can last for years—another reason it’s difficult for victims to just walk away.

ISIS-2In a first for the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, 70 countries signed a joint statement specifically addressing the plight of Christians and other minorities in the Middle East. But the Vatican is asking that even more be done for persecuted believers in that region.

The Vatican’s top diplomat at the United Nations in Geneva has called for a coordinated international force to stop the “so-called Islamic State” in Syria and Iraq from further assaults on Christians and other minority groups:
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This is a bit second-hand (a source drawing from another source), but I still think the following tidbit on the modern history of clergy and scientific and technological development and discovery in the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries from Nassim Taleb’s Antifragile is notable:

Knowledge formation, even when theoretical, takes time, some boredom, and the freedom that comes from having another occupation, therefore allowing one to escape the journalistic-style pressure of modern publish-and-perish [sic, probably intentionally] academia to produce cosmetic knowledge, much like the counterfeit watches one buys in Chinatown in New York City, the type that you know is counterfeit although it looks like the real thing. There were two main sources of technical knowledge and innovation  in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: the hobbyist and the English rector….

An extraordinary proportion of work came out of the rector, the English parish priest with no worries, erudition, a large or at least comfortable house, domestic help, a reliable supply of tea and scones with clotted cream, and an abundance of free time. And, of course, optionality [i.e. freedom from intellectual strictures and the ability to change one’s mind based on new discoveries]. The enlightened amateur, that is. The Reverends Thomas Bayes (as in Bayesian probability) and Thomas [Robert] Malthus (Malthusian overpopulation) are the most famous. But there are many more surprises cataloged in Bill Bryson’s Home, in which the author found ten times more vicars and clergymen leaving recorded traces for posterity than scientists, physicists, economists, and even inventors. In addition to the previous two giants, I randomly list contributions by country clergymen: Rev. Edmund Cartwright invented the power loom, contributing to the Industrial Revolution; Rev. Jack Russel bred the terrier; Rev. William Buckland was the first authority on dinosaurs; Rev. William Greenwell the foremost authority on spiders; Rev. George Garrett invented the submarine; Rev. Gilbert White was the most esteemed naturalist of his day; Rev. M. J. Berkeley was the top expert on fungi; Rev. John Michell helped discover Uranus; and many more. Note that … the list of visible contribution by hobbyists and doers is most certainly shorter than the real one, as some academic might have appropriated the innovation by his predecessor.

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Blog author: jcarter
Friday, March 13, 2015
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coptic_christians_egypt_reutersIn the Middle East, the Islamic State is crucifying Christians and demolishing ancient churches, write Bethany Allen-ebrahimian and Yochi Dreazen at Foreign Policy. Why is this being met with silence from the halls of Congress to Sunday sermons?

Every holiday season, politicians in America take to the airwaves to rail against a so-called “war on Christmas” or “war on Easter,” pointing to things like major retailers wishing shoppers generic “happy holidays.” But on the subject of the Middle East, where an actual war on Christians is in full swing, those same voices are silent. A push to use American aircraft to shield the areas of Iraq where Christians have fled has gone nowhere. Legislation that would fast-track visa applications from Christians looking to leave for the United States never even came up for a vote. The White House, meanwhile, won’t say if or when it will fill the special envoy position.

“It’s been difficult to get the attention of the previous administration, or the current one, when it comes to the urgent need to act,” said Rep. Anna Eshoo, the California Democrat who drafted the visa legislation. “The classic definition of genocide is the complete annihilation of a group of people. The Islamic State is well on its way. It keeps me up at night.”

Read more . . .

cross supreme courtIn today’s Christian Post, Breakpoint’s John Stonestreet says it is “bogus” to claim “others have it worse” when it comes to religious persecution as a way of denying claims of the loss of religious liberty here in the West.

Now, let me first state the obvious: Nothing happening here or elsewhere in the West can remotely be compared to what Christians in the Islamic world undergo on a daily basis. Our first and second response should be to pray for them, and our third response should be to do whatever we can to draw attention to their plight.

At the same time, as Rod Dreher has helpfully pointed out, the ‘people in this country who fear and loathe Christians’ are not beneath using what happened in Libya as an ‘argument-ender’ when Christians complain about infringements on religious freedom. Their response is in essence, ‘Get back to me when they’re chopping Christian heads off in Times Square, then we’ll talk.

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og_apple_watch_editionOver at Think Christian today I examine some of the moral implications surrounding the announced release of the new Apple Watch.

In the background of my thinking was a TEDxPuget Sound talk by Simon Sinek that focuses on identifying the “why” of organizations. It’s important to ask the “why” of our consumption as well, which is why I want to know of moral justifications for purchasing something like a $10,000 gold Apple Watch.

Please pass along your suggestions in the comments section.

HTFinal CoverToday is the last day you can get a free copy of Acton’s latest monograph, “A Vulnerable World: The High Price of Human Trafficking” by Elise Hilton. Visit Amazon before midnight to download. For more information about the monograph and human trafficking, visit Vulnerable.World.

Pope Francis has called human trafficking “an open wound on the body of contemporary society.” This monograph discusses both the economic and moral fall-out of modern-day slavery.

Isabel Paterson

Isabel Paterson

“If there were just one gift you could choose, but nothing barred, what would it be? We wish you then your own wish: you name it. Our is liberty, now and forever.”

Isabel Paterson came to influence the likes of Ayn Rand and William F. Buckley, but her early life was rough and tumble. One of nine children, Paterson had only two years of formal education but loved to read. Her father had a difficult time making a living and was constantly uprooting his family in search of work. However, Paterson credited her early life for teaching her self-sufficiency and hard work.

As a teen, she moved to Calgary and began a career as a journalist. It was in Vancouver that she found her voice, writing about the changing role of women both in the family and in the world, and chiding those with servants for their snobbish attitudes towards those who worked for them. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, March 13, 2015
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ISIS destroys historical church in Mosul: Iraqi official
Daily Sabah

An Iraqi government official has accused the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) of destroying a historical church in Mosul early on Monday.

Government and Societal Action Critical for Fighting Human Trafficking
Emily Runge, The Daily Signal

“We can change all the laws we want—but until we change the attitudes and respect for human beings, all this work is for nothing,” said Cindy McCain, head of the McCain Institute’s Human Trafficking Advisory Council, at a recent panel discussion at The Heritage Foundation.

Millennials Want Economic Opportunity, Not Redistribution
Emily Weithman, The Federalist

Millennials are sick of being told to sacrifice our dreams and potential advancement for that of other people whom government picks.

Kenya’s Catholic Church to fight hunger by farming its vast land reserves
Fredrick Nzwili, Religion News Service

Drying livestock carcasses and anguished faces of hungry women and children have become a common feature here as droughts increase due to climate change.

In a meeting with young historians last fall, Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the annexation of Crimea (RT described this delicately as “the newly returned” Crimea) and reminded them that “Prince Vladimir [Sviatoslavich the Great] was baptized, and then he converted Russia. The original baptismal font of Russia is there.” Matthew Dal Santo, a fellow at the Saxo Institute at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, uses a public exhibition of art in Moscow (Orthodox Rus. My History: The Rurikids) to explain in The National Interest how Russia and Ukraine hold intertwined histories rooted in Orthodox Rus’.

“Faulty as history, Rurikids’ defiant expression of offended Russian exceptionalism is nonetheless more than a pose,” Dal Santo writes. “The West’s doggedly legalistic construction of the crisis has consistently underestimated how much Ukraine means to Putin—and a substantial proportion of the Russian public—as well as the high costs Russia is prepared to pay to keep it out of the West’s orbit.” More from his article: (more…)