July 23, 2014

The Colloquium and Pope Francis

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Several weeks ago I spent a weekend with Catholic and Orthodox scholars in a colloquium titled "Liberty, Society, and the Economy in Modern Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Thought." I am a parish priest, not an academic, which means I approach the big questions from what I call a "rubber meets the road" perspective. I start with the problem or issue that I am thrust into and work out from there. It's real, sometimes messy, and almost exclusively existentialist. That also meant that I approached the colloquium as a student and did not have much to contribute until the how the ideas we discussed applied to everyday people in everyday life. That's the world in which I practice my vocation so that has become my area of expertise. The practical dimension was welcomed especially by the academics who, as most of us know, can distance themselves from the concrete consequences of ideas and sometimes fail to distinguish the power of one idea over another. It's a professional hazard … [Read more...]

Is America Becoming Europe?

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Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and How America Can Avoid a European Future Across the Atlantic, Americans see European economies faltering under enormous debt, overburdened welfare states, governments controlling close to fifty percent of the economy, high taxation, heavily regulated labor markets, aging populations, and large numbers of public sector workers. They also see a European political class that is unable -- and, in many cases, unwilling -- to implement economic reform. This timely and sobering video explains why Americans cannot ignore the "canary in the coalmine" across the pond in determining our future. We must ask the question: "Is America becoming Europe?" To learn more read Dr. Samuel Gregg's Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and How America Can Avoid a European Future: "This is a book that every economist, historian, and politician should read." — Amity Shlaes, syndicated Bloomberg News columnist "Europe is a … [Read more...]

Catholic Online: An Orthodox Priest Reflects on the Retirement of Pope Benedict XVI

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Catholic Online published an essay I wrote on the abdication of Pope Benedict. Source: Catholic Online | By Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse NAPLES, FL. (Catholic Online) – Like almost everyone, the resignation of Pope Benedict came as a shock to Orthodox believers. Those of us who have watched Pope Benedict and his predecessor Pope John Paul II work to lessen the estrangement between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches hope that Pope Benedict’s successor will continue on the same path. Two things stand out in Pope Benedict’s relationship with the Orthodox Churches. First is his deep understanding of the Christian patrimony of Christendom. The Christian foundation of culture should be self-evident to most, but in our post-Christian (and poorly catechized) age our historical memory has grown increasingly dim. Religion vivifies culture. Christianity is the well from which meaning and purpose are drawn. That meaning and purpose shapes law, institutions, and the … [Read more...]

Fr. Andrew Damick – A Conversion Story: Leaving Westboro Baptist

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Source: Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy | By Fr. Andrew Damick (KWCH Eyewitness News) They’re known worldwide as the group from Kansas that protests at soldiers’ funerals, and says God hates America because it allows homosexuality. Now, Westboro Baptist Church is reacting to the defection of a key member. “She just decided she did not want to obey God,” spokesman Steve Drain says. “She did not want to obey scripture.” She is Megan Phelps-Roper. The 27-year-old had risen to become a leader in the family church founded her grandfather. In a blog post from Megan Phelps-Roper entitled “Head Full of Doubt / Road Full of Promise” it was announced to the world yesterday that a leading member in the execrable Westboro Baptist Church had, along with her younger sister, in the words of the news story linked above, “defected” and “apologized” for their actions as members of WBC. What the news story (and probably other news stories in the days to come) doesn’t seem to get is that this … [Read more...]

The Super Bowl and Morality

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- Source: Fr. Peter Preble Blog | By Fr. Peter Preble In my last post, I wrote about my favorite commercial from the Super Bowl, And God Made a Farmer. However, there were some pretty disturbing commercials as well as the entire half time show that I think needs to be addressed. Now I realize that each generation moves along a spectrum, and the previous generation does not always agree.  I was reminded on Facebook that Elvis raised some eyebrows in his day with his gyrating hips and what not.  But, as I remarked, Elvis kept his clothes on. The first exhibition of how low America has sunk into the moral gutter was the GoDaddy dot com commercial.  GoDaddy spokesperson, and race car driver Danica Patrick talks about the merging of the sexy with the technical.  The camera moves to a scantily clad woman and, what I would describe, as a geek.  The two them start to kiss and the sounds are just stomach turning, and this goes on for what seemed like … [Read more...]

Acton Blog: Dunn, Oikonomia, and Assault Weapons: Misappropriating a Principle?

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For better or for worse (probably better) discussion of Orthodox teaching to cultural issues and every day life takes place more often on public blogs than anywhere else. Some critics deride the development of a virtual public square but how does it differ from essays written on paper except that delivery is faster? Moreover, the quality of the writing is often good and sometimes excellent. The communications revolution is changing the Church as it has every other institution. Sharpening ideas by offering them for public critique is a good thing overall. People engaged in public life who know that ideas are important have been doing it for centuries. Below is a response to David J. Dunn's essay An Eastern Orthodox Case for Banning Assault Weapons by Dylan Pahman published on the Acton Institute Power Blog. Fr. Gregory Jensen also crafted a response to Dunn that published immediately below this post. David J. Dunn yesterday wrote an interesting piece arguing for a … [Read more...]

Fr. Gregory Jensen – Canons and Guns: An Eastern Orthodox Response to a HuffPo Writer

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Source: Acton Institute Power Blog | Fr. Gregory Jensen Several of my friends on Facebook pages posted a link to David Dunn’s Huffington Post essay on gun control (An Eastern Orthodox Case for Banning Assault Weapons). As Dylan Pahman posted earlier today, Dunn, an Eastern Orthodox Christian, is to be commended for bringing the tradition of the Orthodox Church into conversation with contemporary issues such as gun control. As a technical matter, to say nothing for the credibility of his argument, it would be helpful if he understood the weapons he wants to ban. Contrary to what he thinks, semi-automatic weapons can’t “fire a dozen shots before a fallen deer even hits the ground.” Like many he confuses machine guns (which are illegal anyway) and semi-automatic weapons (not “assault weapons”). Putting this aside I have a couple of objections to his application of a principle from the canonical tradition of the Orthodox Church, economia, to the Second Amendment’s protection of the … [Read more...]

Homosexual Marriage at the Dusk of Liberty

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- By Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse To define homosexual coupling as marriage violates natural law. It takes one male and one female to create a child and constitute a family. A male-to-male or female-to-female coupling is naturally sterile; biologically closed to the creation of new life. A homosexual "family" then, is necessarily an artificial creation. Marriage is not a creation of the State; it predates the rise of the State. When the State codifies heterosexual marriage, it simply affirms what already exists in nature. However, when the State decrees that a homosexual coupling is a morally licit marriage, it arrogates unto itself an authority to define human relationships that do not exist in nature and thus violates natural law. The State codification of same-sex couplings as a marriage means that moral relativism is being crafted into law. This creates a new conflict. A society cannot live with the tension between the State and nature and thus is left with two available … [Read more...]

Fr. Gregory Jensen: A Field Guide for the Hero’s Journey – Part 1 [Book Review]

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Source: Koinonia The Pursuit of Freedom & Wealth. Though both are good neither freedom nor wealth are morally sufficient ends in themselves for the human family. Like freedom, wealth is for something. Actually strictly speaking wealth and freedom are both in the service of human flourishing. In the Christian tradition this means that both human freedom and all the myriad forms that wealth takes are only fully realized in love and love is always necessarily sacrificial. We strive to be free and wealth so that we are able to love fully and without reservation or compromise. Too often freedom and love are seen as sui generis, as almost Platonic ideals that are simply “there.” My own ministry as a priest has taught me to be wary whenever conversations about practical matters turn theoretical.  Freedom and wealth, their morally legitimate uses, the conditions that foster or obstruct their realization and growth, are all matters of prudence. When we try and discuss prudential … [Read more...]

Metropolitan Hilarion Blasts Anglicans for Renouncing the Faith

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In a recent speech at Villanova University, Met. Hilarion (Alfeyev) of the Russian Orthodox Church said that dialogue between the Orthodox and Anglicans are under threat because of the abandonment of the Christian moral tradition by the Anglican communion. Orthodox and Anglicans find themselves "on different sides of the abyss which separate Christians of a traditional direction and Christians adhering to liberal teachings." I mentioned in the comments on another thread that one Orthodox prelate speaking with this clarity was the recently removed Met. Jonah of the OCA. Met. Jonah was home grown in a sense in that he was an American born Orthodox bishop who has a keen understanding of the currents underlying the Western cultural drift. Met. Jonah's removal was American Orthodoxy's loss (See: Removing Metropolitan Jonah Hurt the American Orthodox Church) although long term it may prove to be a blessing because he will be able to speak unencumbered by lesser men who don't grasp the … [Read more...]

Tolerance is Not a Christian Virtue

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- Hang on to your hat folks. The title does not say Christians should be intolerant. It says instead that tolerance is not an end itself but merely an important working principle in moral discourse and inquiry. Below is a summary of the point given by Abp. Chaput of the Roman Catholic Church. It is taken from a recent speech he gave back in 2009. He spoke to a Catholic audience thus the reference to Catholics, but the principle applies to all Christians particularly his conclusion that "a healthy democracy requires vigorous moral debate to survive." Source: Dover Beach Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia said in the last year that evil preaches tolerance until it is dominant and then it tries to silence good...We need to remember that tolerance is not a Christian virtue. Charity, justice, mercy, prudence, honesty — these are Christian virtues. And obviously, in a diverse community, tolerance is an important working principle. But it’s never an end itself. In fact, … [Read more...]

The America of 2013

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America is in a very deep moral crisis. Source: American Thinker | Steve McCann Americans take great umbrage whenever they, as a society, are portrayed by the residents of other nations as self-centered, avaricious and overbearing. While an egregious exaggeration in the past, is it an accurate description now? Who are the American people today and what sort of country is the United States in 2013? How does one describe a society wherein a majority of the people, and their elected leaders, have embraced the following mindset? a) The United States can commit to unlimited government spending as the long-term future of the nation is immaterial and will take care of itself. b) Based on 66 years of unprecedented economic growth and prosperity, the good times will never end and America will under no circumstance experience massive national adversity as there is a bottomless pit of money to be siphoned from an equally bottomless pit of wealth. c) Since the dollar is the … [Read more...]