July 24, 2014

Dylan Pahman: Climate Change, the Green Patriarch, and the Disposition of Fear

Dylan Pahman

Source: Acton Powerblog | Dylan Pahman Today at First Things’ On the Square feature, I question the tone and timing of Patriarch Batholomew’s recent message on climate change. While I do not object to him making a statement about the subject in conjunction with the opening of the Warsaw Climate Change Conference, his initial reference, then silence, with regards to Typhoon Haiyan while other religious leaders offered their prayer, sympathy, and support to those affected, is disappointing. I write, While other religious leaders offered prayer and tangible support, all that has come from the Phanar is an environmental statement. Hurting people need practical and pastoral help, not politics. An additionally troubling aspect of the problem comes from his clear implication that the typhoon was caused, or at least intensified, by anthropogenic climate change, using this tragedy to advocate for a political cause through a disposition of fear: This week — even as … [Read more...]

William J. Abraham: The Treasures and Trials of Eastern Orthodoxy

william-j-abraham-150x150

Source: Acton Institute | Dylan Pahman Last night I attended an engaging lecture at Calvin College by Dr. William Abraham of the Southern Methodist University Perkins School of Theology. Abraham, whose religious background is Irish Methodist and who is now a minister in the United Methodist Church and the Albert Cook Outler Professor of Wesley Studies at Perkins, gave a presentation titled, “The Treasures and Trials of Eastern Orthodoxy.” As someone who was once an outsider to the Orthodox Church and is now an insider (as much as a former outsider can be, I suppose), I can say that Dr. Abraham’s lecture highlighted many things that I see in the Orthodox Church myself as well as bringing others into focus, in particular five treasures the Orthodox bring and four trials that they face in our current, global context. Dr. Abraham began with his own background: how had he come to discover Eastern Orthodoxy? Years ago, when he first came to the United States, he … [Read more...]

Dylan Pahman – Natural Law, Public Policy, and the Uncanny Voice of Conscience: An Orthodox Response to David Bentley Hart

Dylan Pahman

Source: Ehtika Politika | In his recent First Things article, “Is, Ought, and Nature’s Laws,” David Bentley Hart puts forth a formidable and subtle critique of the use, “by certain self-described Thomists,” of the natural law tradition in public discourse. While Hart does not deny “a harmony between cosmic and moral order,” he takes issue when “the natural law theorist insists that the moral meaning of nature should be perfectly evident to any properly reasoning mind, regardless of religious belief or cultural formation.” He thus contends that (1) such natural lawyers, despite best intentions, ultimately fall prey to David Hume’s critique that one cannot derive an “ought” from an “is”; that (2) natural law reasoning depends upon a person’s prior acceptance of certain metaphysical commitments (e.g. a teleological world and a harmony between the cosmic and moral orders); that (3) universal … [Read more...]

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

acton-institute-logo

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...]

Asceticism and the Free Society

Dylan Pahman

The underlying thesis in the essay below is that 1) man is fundamentally a moral being, and 2) the restoration of culture is fundamentally a moral enterprise. The essay is reproduced by permission of the Acton Institute but note something about that: There is more interest in the Orthodox contribution about the intersections of faith and culture outside of Orthodox circles than within it. What does that say about us, that we are asleep at the switch? Yes, maybe it does. Apart from the boutique issues we don't really say much. The author brings forward the necessity of ascetic discipline (think of it as self-discipline as an exercise not only of body but also the soul) as an ordering principle not only for the self, but the larger culture as well. No man is an island which is also to say that no man is an individual. Conservatives are correct in resisting the collectivist impulse of secular liberalism but if they think that individualism is the antidote they are mistaken and will end … [Read more...]