July 22, 2014

Obama’s “Evangelical” Appeal

The appeal of Barak Obama, who, as far as I can tell, has no discernible ideas, puzzles some culture watchers and worries some even more (see Spengler over at the Asia Times for example). Fr. John Chagnon offers "One Possible Clue" on his blog "The Traveling Priest Chronicles." Obama's appeal, Fr. John suggests, might be that he taps into the desire for salvation that inevitably takes a political shape when secularism rules the day. … [Read more...]

Congratulations, We Are Healthier Than Ever!

I live in Amsterdam. For the geographically challenged -- or for those who have spent too much time in an American high school -- Amsterdam is in Holland. Holland is also called The Netherlands. This literally means "Low Lands", which is why in French it is called the Pays Bays. Low is the word to keep in mind when thinking of this land. There is a free market on sex. Drugs, some soft, and some bordering on hard (i.e., certain mushrooms) are tolerated, de facto legal really. Salaries are stifled (i.e., kept low) by an paternalistic tax regime. And the general culture here is currently competing with American popular culture to see which can slouch further and faster towards Gomorrah (in Robert Bork's coinage). Morality may be a least common denominator approach, live and let die may be the M.O. in all but aid for Africa, and the streets may look like a cross between Istanbul and Bunyan's 'Vanity Fair.' But one thing is for certain, we are sure that we are healthier than … [Read more...]

‘A Patriarch in Dire Straits’

At the Acton Institute, where I labor as communications director, I published a commentary pegged to Patriarch Bartholomew's forthcoming book, "Encountering the Mystery." The commentary was also picked up by the Assyrian News Agency. Read the full commentary here. In 1971, the Turkish government shut down Halki, the partriarchal seminary on Heybeliada Island in the Sea of Marmara. And it has progressively confiscated Orthodox Church properties, including the expropriation of the Bûyûkada Orphanage for Boys on the Prince's Islands (and properties belonging to an Armenian Orthodox hospital foundation). These expropriations happen as religious minorities report problems associated with opening, maintaining, and operating houses of worship. Many services are held in secret. Indeed, Turkey is a place where proselytizing for Christian and even Muslim minority sects can still get a person hauled into court on charges of "publicly insulting Turkishness." This law has also been used … [Read more...]