August 28, 2014

Going global with the Cola Bear

(L to R) Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the Coca-Cola Polar Bear, and Archbishop Demetrios

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Demetrios paid a visit to Coca-Cola world headquarters last week to meet with Muhtar Kent, president and chief executive officer of the company. It is a striking image here: Two hierarchs from the ancient see of Constantinople meeting with the mascot of a company that is the symbol par excellence of economic and cultural globalization. One of the pleasant surprises in the Patriarch's book "Encountering the Mystery" was his assertion that "the Orthodox Church is not opposed to an economic progress that serves humanity as a whole." This is about 180 degrees from what you usually hear from Old World hierarchs, who so often condemn globalization and its chief architect, "the West." In truth, there's a bit of that in Bartholomew's views, but more balance. Unfortunately, like other Orthodox hierarchs, he continues to view economic activity as a zero sum game -- whoever gains does so by taking from someone else. There's no real understanding … [Read more...]

Metropolitan Kirill on Economic Globalization

Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, the President of the Department of Foreign Religious Affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate, has written a prologue or introduction to “The Ethics of the Common Good in Catholic Social Doctrine” (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2008) by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s Secretary of State. The article by Metropolitan Kirill was translated from the Italian and into English for the first time by Paola Fantini, an intern in the Rome office of the Acton Institute. Considering the Orthodox concept of the common good, it must be noted that this concept refers not only to material well-being, not only to peace and harmony on earth, but most of all to the aspirations of man and human society to eternal life, which is the ultimate good of every Christian. For this reason, according to the Orthodox conscience, the debate on the common good will always be incomplete if it considers earthly life exclusively, while the highest good – life in … [Read more...]

Conflicted Hearts: Social Justice and Orthodoxy

Conflicted Hearts: Orthodox Christians and Social Justice in an Age of Globalization, my article on economics and social justice, has been posted on the AGAIN Magazine Web site. Read the full article here. Just as there is no real understanding of many bioethical issues without a general grasp of underlying medical technology, there is no real understanding of “social justice” without an understanding of basic economic principles. These principles explain how Orthodox Christians work, earn, invest, and give to philanthropic causes in a market-oriented economy. Economic questions are at the root of many of the problems that on their face seem to be more about something else—poverty, immigration, the environment, technology, politics, humanitarian assistance. In the environmental area, for example, the current debate on global warming is just as much focused on how to finance the means of slowing the rising temperatures of the earth as it is on root causes. And the question always … [Read more...]