July 25, 2014

Thomas Sowell before the election

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Congratulations to Wesley J. Smith

The Human Life Foundation awarded its "Great Defender of Life" to Wesley J. Smith last month for his tireless work in defense of human life. I've admired Mr. Smith's work for years, have read most of his books, and even reviewed one for Town Hall a few years back. His books are invaluable in keeping you informed about the relentless assault on human dignity waged behind closed doors in our culture. You are not informed about these issues unless you are familiar with his work. … [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...]

California Bishops Support Ballot Initiative on Marriage

Orthodox bishops have announced their support for Proposition 8, known as the "California Marriage Protection Act." The measure would amend the state constitution by adding this line: Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. More on this proposal on the Protect Marriage Web site. Here is the message from Orthodox bishops: A Statement of the Orthodox Christian Bishops of California in Support of Proposition 8: A Constitutional Amendment to Restore the Definition of Marriage The decision of the California Supreme Court on May 15, 2008, unilaterally redefines the sacred institution of marriage in a manner unprecedented in human history — and alien to our Christian tradition. We, the Orthodox Christian bishops of California, were saddened by this decision which constitutes a direct attack upon the longstanding role and freedom of religion in American life. A majority of the justices declared not only that same-sex couplings must be allowed … [Read more...]

Message of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches

Leaders of the world's Orthodox churches released a joint statement that touched on far ranging issues of interest to the Church, including the global economic crisis, the environment and the prospects for further pan-Orthodox consultations and a Holy and Great Council. The primates were gathered for the Oct. 10-12 Synaxis of the Heads of the Orthodox Churches and Pauline Symposium at the Patriarchal Cathedral of Saint George in Istanbul, Turkey. His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I addressed the gathering on Oct. 10, saying that "such a Synaxis is deemed necessary and beneficial, especially in times like ours, when the personal encounter and conversation among responsible leaders in all public domains of human life is rendered increasingly accessible and essential." The Message from the Primates, posted on the Europaica site, also pointedly affirmed the Church's role in the social sphere. "Efforts to distance religion from societal life constitute the common … [Read more...]

Interview with Bobby Maddex, editor of Salvo

Salvo describes itself as a magazine committed to "deconstructing the damaging cultural myths that have undercut human dignity, all but destroyed the notions of virtue and morality, and slowly eroded the appetite for transcendence." Editor Bobby Maddex says Salvo aims for the type of reader that is "open-minded enough to follow the evidence wherever it leads, and invariably, it leads to Christ and his teachings." Maddex spoke recently with Rev. Johannes L. Jacobse, president of the American Orthodox Institute. Read the entire interview on the AOI site. Here's a quote from Bobby: Our "vibe," as you call it, was selected to counter the lies emanating from some of the hipper, youth-oriented, and hugely popular newsstand magazines-such as Rolling Stone and Wired. We were tired of the monopoly that these publications had on slick, edgy, and highly ironic content, especially since the worldviews that inhere in such content are so nihilistic, materialistic, and immoral. We are trying to … [Read more...]

AOI debuts new website for “The Clarion Review”

Clarion Review launches all-new Web site with new content Turning Cows into IdeasRoger Scruton, philosopher & farmer, tells us how to make farms profitable even if no one buys a thing: Very few farms are profitable, and ours exists more...as a rural consultancy and ideas factory. Our neighbors turn grass into milk and make a loss; we turn grass into ideas and make a profit. We keep horses of our own, which we look after, and allow our neighbors to use the pasture for their cows: cows too, viewed from the window, can easily be made into ideas. We also keep chickens, and occasionally pigs, which we turn into sausages, after their brief time as ideas. Aging, Individualism, and Our Middle-Class DreamsPeter Augustine Lawler, ethicist and critic, tells us how caring for the old competes with our work-a-day society's love of freedom and laboring: Surely there is little worse than to have Alzheimer's and be alone...Yet the currents of our time push us almost inescapably in this … [Read more...]

ACLU Wants to Sink Navy Prayers

The American Civil Liberties Union is threatening legal action against the U.S. Naval Academy unless it discontinues a tradition -- believed to date back to the college's founding in 1845 -- of mealtime prayer, the Baltimore Sun reports. "The government should not be in the business of compelling religious observance, particularly in military academies, where students can feel coerced by senior students and officials and risk the loss of leadership opportunities for following their conscience," Deborah A. Jeon, legal director for the ACLU of Maryland, wrote in a letter to the academy. Over at the Scriptorium, John Mark Reynolds notes in "Let the Navy Pray" that everything that does not fit the ACLU's "Utopian ideology" is viewed as something that must be swept aside: Like all ideologues history does not matter, tradition does not matter, and there is no sense of proportion. Every public act must fit their cherished scheme. They are theocrats in reverse and just like the … [Read more...]

Freedom-Loving Orthodoxy

In the May 2008 issue of The Word,* published by the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, Gregory Cook looks at the ways Orthodox Christianity may "transfigure" America. "Orthodoxy has always been open to building on what is true and extant in any nation or culture," Cook writes. "America should be no different." *Also republished here (non .pdf). He quotes Metropolitan Antony Bashir: Orthodoxy is a freedom-loving, democratic faith … it is at its best in our free America. If the best of Byzantium has survived, it is in the United States, and if there is an Orthodox political ideal, it is enshrined in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Cook's article, "Words We Live By: Orthodox and American Ideals in Foundational Texts" is an excellent reflection on what it means to be Orthodox in America and what America has given the Orthodox. While we're at it on this Fourth of July, read the Declaration of Independence. Can anyone … [Read more...]

Independence Day

Thoughts on freedom as we approach the celebration of another Independence Day: From the beginning the Creator allowed human beings their freedom and a free will; they were bound only by the law of his commandment. St. Gregory the Theologian (Orations 14.25 ["On Caring for the Poor"], PG 35:892A) Freedom means being one's own master and ruling oneself; this is the gift that God granted to us from the beginning. St. Gregory of Nyssa (On the Soul and Resurrection, PG 46:101CD) Man is made in the image of God, Who is humble but at the same time free. Therefore it is normal and natural that he should be after the likeness of his Creator -- that he should recoil from exercising control over others while himself being free and independent by virtue of the presence of the Holy Spirit within him. Those who are possessed by the lust for power cloud the image of God in themselves. Archimandrite Sophrony (His Life is Mine, Chapter 9; St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 73) The idea of … [Read more...]

Orthodoxy: A Fertile Faith

When a recent coffee hour conversation turned, unexpectedly, to politics and what if anything the Church has to say about public issues and then all of the "God talk" in the current presidential contest, a friend said, "Oh, that's politics. The Orthodox Church shouldn't get involved in politics. Nothing good can come of it." Well, yes and no. If we're talking about partisan politics then yes, of course, the Church must stay out of it. The Church was not founded to endorse candidates for office or advance a political ideology. But if we're talking about the political dimensions of important moral issues, then yes, of course, the Church may quite properly speak to these. Did we notice that there is something going on in California about marriage? Were political institutions involved? Do we recall the 2003 Statement on Moral Crisis on Our Nation issued by SCOBA? I wonder if some Orthodox Christians wish that the faith could somehow remain removed from politics and other worldly … [Read more...]

“On the Advantages of Dying Young”

Jonathan David Price, editor of "The Clarion Review" (published by AOI) wrote the essay "On the Advantages of Dying Young ", that was recently published in First Principles ("the home of American intellectual conservatism"). Price writes: There is so much talk about the advantages of long life nowadays that when confronted with "tragic" young deaths our only response is pity. Obsession with longevity is no longer merely an existential anxiety; lifespan has even become a key measure of the health of nations. We are concerned with it collectively. And since quantity of life is what we value, death is the enemy. There is no such thing as a good death at any age, much less in youth. . . . Read the essay in the First Principles Journal. This essay was also blogged by Benjamin MacConchie: http://benjaminmacconchie.wordpress.com/. … [Read more...]