July 25, 2014

James Taranto: Common sense is to be avoided just because it is common

James Taranto in Oikophobia: Why the liberal elite finds Americans revolting (from the Wall Street Journal, available for seven days only) discusses the cultural divide made evident by the Ground Zero Mosque debate and what it reveals about America's self-appointed elites. Read Besieged liberals resort to their last refuge: the bigotry charge by Charles Krauthammer piece referenced by Taranto. Listen here: … [Read more...]

Fr. Chad Hatfield: The Manhattan Declaration

Voices from St. Vladimir's

Ancient Faith Radio Fr. Chad Hatfield, discusses The Manhattan Declaration, "a call of Christian conscience" that he helped produce, and defends Orthodox participation in such cultural manifestos. Listen here: … [Read more...]

Pentecost, Lincoln and the American Experiment

One of the things that interests me a great deal is the relationship between the Tradition of the Orthodox Church and the founding political philosophy of the American experiment. At the risk of appearing overly critical, or even dismissive, I think the failure of Orthodoxy in America is our not having engaged theologically and critically the American experiment on its own terms. Instead we have been willing to use America without necessarily seeing ourselves as obligated to contribute anything to her. In this the Church has allowed herself to become merely one interest group among others. The Orthodox Church has not engaged the American experiment as yeast in the dough. We have contented ourselves instead merely to fit within the broad, and decadent, framework of modern identity politics. This failure is more than simply a matter of our presenting ourselves as an ethnic, albeit religiously themed community. Even when the religious character of the Church is focal, it is often the … [Read more...]

Ecumenicism in the trenches…

Two National Rabbinic Groups Issue Religious Ban on Voting for Pro-Homosexual Agenda Politicians; Call on Pope and other Denominations to Follow Suit BROOKLYN, NY, May 27 /Christian Newswire/ -- In light of recent developments in the ongoing push to legislate a Federal Hate Crimes Bill in Congress and same gender marriage legislation in New York and other states, Rabbi Yehuda Levin, spokesman for the 65 year old Orthodox Jewish national Rabbinic organization Rabbinical Alliance of America, surrounded by Rabbis, issued a religious ban on voting for any politician or office holder who supports any aspect of the homosexual political agenda. Go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8VkYFAGR9I to see the actual video of the statement. Rabbi Levin also called upon other Orthodox Jewish religious and civic organizations such as Agudath Israel of America, the OU, the Rabbinical Council of America, Chabad and the Chasidic groups to follow suit. … [Read more...]

Keep the Human in Humane

Wesley J. Smith

Wesley Smith, occasional commentator on AOI blog published the is article on To the Source. Visit Smith's blog Second Hand Smoke. When Aldous Huxley wrote his prophetic 1932 novel Brave New World, he envisioned a dystopian future in which mankind would become, in the words of bioethicist Leon Kass, "so dehumanized that he doesn't even realize what has been lost." Huxley believed we would evolve into a society steeped in radical hedonism—where drugs would be used to erase every negative emotion and promiscuity would be not just the norm, but the expected. He also saw our future as becoming profoundly utilitarian and eugenic, depicted in his novel by genetically engineered babies being decanted through a cloning-type process rather than being born, a society without families, without the old and sick—who are done away with rather than being cared for—and without real purpose other than experiencing transitory pleasure. It is a world in which human life has been … [Read more...]

The god Called Earth

stevethebuilder

Couples who refuse to have children in order to protect the environment, says Steve Robinson, "reject religion and dogma, (yet) their devotion to the earth is indeed a religious devotion very similar to the ancient pagans." In fact, the "eco-fundamentalists has a version of the prosperity gospel… we 'serve the earth god,' name it and don’t claim it, and you get nice stuff and exotic vacations." Robinson continues, "The ecologist and Orthodox Christian agree that the human being is indeed taken from the dirt of the earth and thus shares in the nature of the earth itself. But Christianity says he also is given the breath of God who created the very dirt from whence he came, and so he shares in the nature of the spiritual and is given dominion over the dirt, but not for gluttonous consumption but as a means of expressing love in the image of the one who created all things out of love." Listen to the podcast: " … [Read more...]

Wesley J. Smith: Orthodox Advocate for Human “Exceptionalism”

afrvertical

Our culture is at a crossroad about the value of human life, argues author and human rights activist Wesley J. Smith in an interview with Kevin Allen on the "Illumined Heart" podcast (Ancient Faith Radio). Do we value human life simply because it is human, or do we value it based on notions and definitions of "personhood" including such characteristics as sentience, awareness, stages of biological development and others factors? The former allows for a universal definition of human rights. The latter reduces human beings to "subjects" that are bound to shifting and often capricious standards that determine who lives and who dies.   Listen here: widget here (43:38) It's a heated battle (one that even spills over into the comments of this blog on occasion). Often, the the level of vituperation in the attacks against religious defenders of human life arise because the utilitarians understand their view allows for no coherent defense of any human rights, Smith says. "They … [Read more...]

Obama and Moral Imagination

Newly elected President Obama, writes John Couretas, Executive Director of AOI in his essay "Obama and the Moral Imagination" frequently makes use of the phrase "common story." This phrase "may sound strange to the ears. But it is impossible to understand the new president unless his brilliant use of narrative is first grasped," Couretas says. It's a page taken from the Reagan playbook and masterfully executed. Couretas writes: Reagan biographer Lou Cannon told the Chicago Tribune last year that Obama has "a narrative reach" and a talent for story telling that reminds him of the late president. Reagan "made other people a part of his own narrative, and that's what Obama is doing," Cannon said. "By doing it, it expands his reach because he isn't necessarily just another partisan Democrat." … [Read more...]

Culture Wars: Fr. Jacobse on Ancient Faith Radio

Kevin Allen, host of Ancient Faith Radio's Illumined Heart program, interviews AOI President Fr. Hans Jacobse for a fascinating discussion on "The Culture War and Orthodox Christianity." Fr. Hans talks about the need for Eastern Orthodox Christians to engage in the moral and social debates -- call them Culture Wars if you will -- that are being waged in American society today. In this 35 minute program, Allen also asks Fr. Hans about the recent discussion on this blog about whether "Religious Right" leaning ex-Evangelical converts are taking over the Orthodox churches in America. Allen asked Fr. Hans if he thought the Culture Wars might be a lost cause, given what we see in society today. Fr. Hans said the battles over moral issues will be difficult, with uncertain outcomes. But he reminded Allen that our faithfulness will determine the shape of tomorrow. "If it be God's will that the world be saved -- and it is -- I think there's a chance we can turn this around," Fr. Hans … [Read more...]

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus — May his memory be eternal

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus

Roman Catholic priest Fr. Richard John Neuhas died yesterday after a protracted battle with cancer. Anyone familiar with Christianity in the public square will recognize Fr. Neuhaus as one of the first to sound the alarm that a public square stripped of religious values would lead to a culture stripped of benevolent morality. In his seminal work "The Naked Public Square," Fr. Neuhaus argued that "moral neutrality" was anything but neutral and would lead to a society in which moral universals would be overthrown in favor or utilitarian interests. What did he mean by this? He meant that once religion has been relegated to a private interest (you believe what you want to believe, I will believe what I want to believe, it really doesn't matter), the universals by which men govern themselves would erode, and society would becomes susceptible to, and finally shape itself around, an ethic drawn from the decisions of elites. The pressure on Christians to privatize their faith Neuhaus … [Read more...]

Mattingly on ‘Culture wars 2008′

Terry Mattingly looks at the most recent battles, from the left and the right: If you could erase one moment from Sen. Barack Obama's White House campaign, which would you choose? That's an easy question for evangelicals, Catholics and other religious believers who back Obama. Most would happily erase all evidence of his speech last spring to a circle of insiders behind closed doors in San Francisco. For those who have ignored national news in 2008, Obama talked about meeting voters in rural Pennsylvania, where hard times have crushed hopes and fueled resentments. "So it's not surprising then that they get bitter," he said, that "they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them ... to explain their frustrations." Welcome back to the "culture wars," all you politicos who hoped and prayed that talk about "values voters" and "pew gaps" would disappear. Instead, Republicans have been chanting this mantra -- "bitter," "cling," "God" and "guns" -- … [Read more...]