April 17, 2014

Information, Creativity, and Surprise

gilder-knowledge-power-150x150

My review of Gilder's book published by the Acton Institute follows these preliminary comments. I believe that the book Knowledge and Power: The Information Theory of Capitalism and How it is Revolutionizing our World is indeed revolutionary. Author George Gilder is first an economist so this book, which he sees as the culmination of his life's work (Gilder also wrote Wealth and Poverty), is appropriately about economics. But it is much more. Gilder draws on information theory and posits that information, not chemical and physical processes are the ground of epistemology. What does that mean in plain English? Simply this: science itself is discovering that knowledge can not be circumscribed by what we can see and measure; that much more can be known about the world beyond the measurements of the world's material properties (the chemical and physical processes of things). This is astounding for for two reasons. The first is that it corresponds to what St. Maximos the … [Read more...]

Human Trafficking Enters A New Marketplace: Organ Harvesting

human-trafficking

This is unadulterated evil, a new slavery where the strong prey on the weak. Source: Acton Institute Power Blog |Elise Hilton There have been whispers of it before, but now it has been confirmed: trafficking humans in order to harvest organs. The Telegraph is reporting that an underage Somali girl was smuggled into Britain with the intent of harvesting her organs for those desperately waiting for transplants. Child protection charities warned last night that criminal gangs were attempting to exploit the demand for organ transplants in Britain. Bharti Patel, the chief executive of Ecpat UK, the child protection charity, said: “Traffickers are exploiting the demand for organs and the vulnerability of children. It’s unlikely that a trafficker is going to take this risk and bring just one child into the UK. It is likely there was a group.” According to the World Health Organisation as many as 7,000 kidneys are illegally obtained by traffickers each year around the … [Read more...]

Orthodox Speakers at Acton University – 2013 [Audio]

acton-institute-logo

Acton University is a unique, four-day exploration of the intellectual foundations of a free society. Guided by a distinguished international faculty, Acton University is an opportunity to deepen your knowledge and integrate rigorous philosophy, Christian theology, and sound economics. At this year’s event, the following Orthodox speakers were featured: Fr. Gregory Jensen, Fr. Michael Butler and Fr. Johannes Jacobse. Audio courtesy of Ancient Faith Radio. Audio is available for purchase at the Acton Institute. Listen here: East Meets West: Consumerism and Asceticism Fr. Gregory Jensen Asceticism is concerned with the “inner transformation of the human person, in his being progressively conformed to Christ.” Understood in this way, asceticism has a foundational role to play in any Christian response to the practical and anthropological challenges of consumerism. Orthodoxy and Natural Law Fr. Michael Butler Eastern Orthodoxy is … [Read more...]

SVS Poverty Conference Challenges Progressive Economic Ideas [AUDIO]

svs-logo-150x150

Challenging the Progressive Captivity of Orthodoxy in America The St. Vladimir's Seminary Conference on Poverty held during the last weekend of May, 2013 may portend a loosening of the Progressive grip on Orthodox thinking about morality and culture in America. Let's face it: the Orthodox contribution to American cultural discourse has been meager, often swept along by shallow bromides that conform to popular notions of the common good rather than substantive engagement of the moral tradition within the dominant cultural ethos. The Progressive Captivity leads to all sorts of mischief -- from weakening the teachings of the Orthodox moral tradition (see: A Patriarch who 'Generally Speaking, Respects Human Life'), to lending the imprimatur of Orthodox moral authority to marginal groups like the National Council of Churches (see: NCC EXIT POLL: Why One Orthodox Church Left the National Council of Churches). St. Vladimir's Seminary, to their credit (and to the consternation of … [Read more...]

Russian Orthodox Bishop: Syrian Christians Facing ‘Extermination’

met-hilarion

Over at the Acton Institute blog, John Couretas writes about his recent interview with Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, about increasing Christian persecution around the world. One focus was the mid-east where the Western "Arab Spring" policy has in fact unleashed a torrent of persecution against Christians. Iraq's Christian population had to leave after the American invasion in 2003. Today the same is happening in Syria, especially as we arm insurgents who we are told are freedom fighters but in fact are Islamic radicals. Met. Hilarion is careful in his criticism... It is possible already now to speak of an external military interference in [Syria] as thousands of extremist militants in the guise of opposition forces have unleashed a civil war in the country,” Hilarion said in the Moscow lecture. “Extremist groups, the so-called jamaates consisting of militant Wahhabites armed … [Read more...]

Removing Metropolitan Jonah Hurt the American Orthodox Church

jonah-596x321

- By Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse When the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) axed Metropolitan Jonah they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Mediocrity was the watchword. In the jurisdiction that has been steadily losing ground for twenty years, they rejected the man who displayed the necessary gifts to bring the Gospel as it is understood and comprehended within our Orthodox faith to America. His Beatitude wasn’t a suitable administrator his detractors said. The claim might have some merit but since when has administrative capabilities been the high water mark of ecclesiological competence? Why weren’t accommodations made to employ his prodigious gifts and make up for the weaknesses? Met. Jonah is an evangelist first and an administrator maybe third, but evangelization is what the American Orthodox Church needs to do. Look at the results of Fr. Peter Guillquist and his colleagues. Were there missteps along the way? Of course there were, but no one believes that Fr. … [Read more...]

Russian Warns on Demonic Roots of Socialism

acton-institute-logo

Source: Acton Institute | By John Couretas In Rome to address a conference sponsored by the Dignitatis Humanae Institute (Institute for Human Dignity) on June 29, Russian pro-life campaigner Alexey Komov expressed amazement for the support that socialism gets in some quarters in the West even though it has “never worked in world history.” In an interview with the Zenit news service, Komov pointed to how this ideology had caused such great pain and suffering “all in the name of social reform, progress and improvement.” His criticism was also leveled at the “softer version of socialism” of administrations in the West led by President Barack Obama and recently José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the former prime minister of Spain.Komov believes that if you “dig deep enough into the ideological roots of these socialist movements, you end up finding satanic roots in them.” And although only a softer version is prevalent now, “it is still very dangerous,” he says. “I would warn all those people … [Read more...]

The End of America? The HHS Mandate’s Threat to Freedom [VIDEO]

statue-of-liberty-postcard

Source: Acton Institute The Obama's Administration's mandate requiring the Catholic Church to conform to government dictates on contraception and abortifacent drugs is more than a war on the Catholic Church argue Jennifer Roback Morse and Eric Metaxas. It's a war on freedom. Eric Metaxas and Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse articulate the grave dangers of the Health & Human Services (HHS) Mandate with regard to religious freedom in America. Eric Metaxas is a public intellectual and author of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, the thrilling biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. A German theologian in Nazi Germany, Bonhoeffer is remembered for his clandestine efforts to overthrow Hitler and the Nazis in the struggle for human freedom. Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse is an economist. She is the Founder and President of the Ruth Institute, a non-profit focused on promoting the sanctity of marriage as the critical foundation for families, communities, and society. … [Read more...]

Fr. Gregory Jensen: Time to End Clergy Tax Breaks?

Fr. Gregory Jensen

Source: Acton Institute | Fr. Gregory Jensen Unless you are a member of the clergy or involved with the finances of a church or temple, you probably don’t know that since 1921 the federal government has subsidized a congregation’s remuneration of its pastor.  This happens through the extension of a housing or “parsonage allowance” that makes it possible for an ordained member of the clergy to live “tax-free in a home owned by his or her religious organization or receive a tax-free annual payment to buy or rent a home if the congregation approves.” Originally, this was meant as a way of helping “minimize taxes on clergy members, whose compensation was often meager.” Recent court cases have extended “the parsonage allowance to an unlimited number of homes, which may be owned either by the religious organization or the clergy member. However unintentionally, in doing this the courts may have opened “the door for the … [Read more...]

John Couretas: Protect the Poor, Not Poverty Programs

john-couretas-thumb

Source: Acton Institute | By John Couretas One of the disturbing aspects of the liberal/progressive faith campaign known as the Circle of Protection is that its organizers have such little regard – indeed are blind to -- the innate freedom of the human person. Their campaign, which has published “A Statement on Why We Need to Protect Programs for the Poor,” equates the welfare of the “least of these” in American society to the amount of assistance they receive from the government -- a bizarre view from a community that trades in spiritual verities. Circle of Protection supporters see people locked into their circumstances, stratified into masses permanently in a one-down position, thrown into a class struggle where the life saving protection of “powerful lobbies” is nowhere to be found. And while they argue that budgets are moral documents, their metrics for this fiscal morality are all in dollars and cents. Not only does the Circle of Protection group appear to be oblivious … [Read more...]

Understanding Rand

Ayn Rand

The critical tension between Rand and Christian theology is on human worth. Christians affirm the inherent and very high value of individuals because of their creation in the image of God. Rand values human beings only for their achievements. Source: Acton Institute By Hunter Baker Christians have a deep ambivalence about Ayn Rand that probably draws as deeply from the facts of her biography as from her famous novels. When the refugee from the old Soviet Union met the Catholic William F. Buckley, she said, “You are too intelligent to believe in God.” Her atheism was militant. Rand’s holy symbol was the dollar sign. Ultimately, Buckley gave Whittaker Chambers the job of writing the National Review essay on Rand’s famous novel Atlas Shrugged that effectively read her and the Objectivists out of the conservative movement. The review characterized Rand’s message as, “To a gas chamber, go!” Chambers thought Rand’s philosophy led to the extinction of the less fit. In truth, … [Read more...]

Acton Institute: Alinsky for Dummies

Saul Alinsky

For those who don't know how Saul Alinsky influenced some of our current political and cultural leaders, listen to this primer on Alinsky held a few months back at the Acton Institute. Alinsky's methodology came of age in the 1960's and 1970's and has been institutionalized especially in the academy and the cultural left where aging radicals still believe the mythology of the chosen generation. For a deeper treatment see: Why There Is A Culture War: Gramsci and Tocqueville in America. Source: Acton Institute blog From the Acton Institute Blog: We’re posting the audio from Mr. Joseph Morris’ excellent May 6 Acton Lecture Series presentation, Alinsky for Dummies: His Persistent Influence and Its Meaning for American Society and Politics. As Lord Acton warned that power corrupts, Saul Alinsky — the father of modern “community organizing” — rejoiced that corruption empowers. As Morris pointed out, decades after Alinsky’s death … [Read more...]