April 20, 2014

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...]

Russian Warns on Demonic Roots of Socialism

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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...]

Christian Environmentalism that ‘Costs me Nothing’

Ascesis in the desert?

By John Couretas In his June 18 keynote address at the opening ceremony of the Halki Summit in Turkey, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew looked forward to the start of the Rio +20 United Nations Conference on Sustainability, June 20-22. He noted that attendees at his environmental gathering were “deeply frustrated with the stubborn resistance and reluctant advancement of earth-friendly policies and practices.” He called for greater sacrifice and personal responsibility (emphasis added in the quote below): Permit us to propose that perhaps the reason for this hesitation and hindrance may lie in the fact that we are unwilling to accept personal responsibility and demonstrate personal sacrifice. In the Orthodox Christian tradition, we refer to this “missing dimension” as ascesis, which could be translated as abstinence and moderation, or – better still – simplicity and frugality. The truth is that we resist any demand for self-restraint and self-control. [ … ] Each of us is … [Read more...]

John Couretas: Protect the Poor, Not Poverty Programs

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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...]

John Couretas. Greek Patriarch: No Nukes

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With the terrible human toll from Japan’s earthquake and tsunami catastrophe only now being comprehended, and the grave follow on crisis at the country’s nuclear power plants unfolding by the hour, the anti-nuclear power crowd has already begun issuing statements such as the one Greenpeace put out saying that “nuclear power cannot ever be safe.” Predictably, reports Geoffrey Lean in the Telegraph, “battle lines” are being drawn: On Saturday, some 50,000 anti-nuclear protesters formed a 27-mile human chain from Germany’s Neckarwestheim nuclear power plant to the city of Stuttgart to protest against its government’s plans to extend the life of the country’s reactors. Green politicians in pro-nuclear France urged an end to its dependence on the atom, and Ed Markey, a leading Democratic US Congressman, called for a moratorium on building new reactors in seismically active areas. But Chancellor Angela Merkel, after holding a meeting … [Read more...]

Ambiguorum Blogis: The miscellaneous thoughts of Fr Michael Butler — goes live.

Fr. Michael Butler

I always welcome the emergence of new contributions on Orthodoxy and culture by thoughtful commentators. Orthodox Christianity has much to give this country, indeed all of the Christian West, but our thinking has been underdeveloped and our contributions sparse. Much of this is due of course to historical circumstance; Orthodox Christianity is only now finding its voice in the public square. We've seen the contributions primarily in the new media, blogs mostly, but also in journals and elsewhere. We see it on all levels too, from the academy to cultural gatekeepers to those of us who, as Hayek says, are "merchants of ideas." Fr. Michael Butler, a priest in the Orthodox Church in America, just entered the fray and, if his first few posts are any indication, it looks like a blog deserving a place in your favorites folder. John Couretas, Communications Director at the Action Institute wrote a fine introduction copied below. Fr. Michael blogs at the Ambiguorum Blogis. Advising … [Read more...]

Prophet Jim Wallis and the Ecclesia of Economic Ignorance

Jim Wallis

Wallis poses as a centrist but his economic prescriptions are hard-left with lots of self-congratulatory "prophetic" moralizing thrown in. +++++++++++++++++++ By John Couretas. Acton Institute This class of the very poor – those who are just on the borders of pauperism or fairly over the borders – is rapidly growing. Wealth is increasing very fast; poverty, even pauperism, is increasing still more rapidly. – Washington Gladden, Applied Christianity (1886) For three decades, we have experienced a social engineered inequality that is really a sin – of biblical proportions. We have indeed seen class warfare, but this war has been waged by the wealthy and their political allies against the poor and the middle class. – Jim Wallis, Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street (2010) One of Jim Wallis’ long running aims at Sojourners is to cast himself as a moderate or centrist (God is not a Republican. Or a Democrat). This is howling nonsense to anyone who … [Read more...]