April 23, 2014

SVS Poverty Conference Challenges Progressive Economic Ideas [AUDIO]

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Challenging the Progressive Captivity of Orthodoxy in America The St. Vladimir's Seminary Conference on Poverty held during the last weekend of May, 2013 may portend a loosening of the Progressive grip on Orthodox thinking about morality and culture in America. Let's face it: the Orthodox contribution to American cultural discourse has been meager, often swept along by shallow bromides that conform to popular notions of the common good rather than substantive engagement of the moral tradition within the dominant cultural ethos. The Progressive Captivity leads to all sorts of mischief -- from weakening the teachings of the Orthodox moral tradition (see: A Patriarch who 'Generally Speaking, Respects Human Life'), to lending the imprimatur of Orthodox moral authority to marginal groups like the National Council of Churches (see: NCC EXIT POLL: Why One Orthodox Church Left the National Council of Churches). St. Vladimir's Seminary, to their credit (and to the consternation of … [Read more...]

Chris Banescu, Bp. Savas and the Dust Up

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When ideas clash, they often clash hard. When Chris Banescu took Bp. Savas to task for a mistake he made in reporting the salary of an American CEO, his intention was not only to call Bp. Savas on the error, but to call attention to Bp. Savas' economic assumptions. The error was minor and we all make them. It was easily corrected. The assumptions rest deeper. Since Bp. Savas has entered the public square and unabashedly promotes the assumptions, challenging them is fair game. That is why I decided to publish Banescu's piece. Bp. Savas evaluates and prescribes economic policy exclusively through a Progressive political framework. His thinking differs little, if at all, from Jim Wallis, arguably the leader of what we can call "Christian-Progressivism." Wallis has been a Progressive for as long back as anyone can remember, at least from the 1960s when he first became a political activist. Progressivism has a storied history in American that we won't enter into it here. In the … [Read more...]

EPPC: Culture’s Power to Reduce Poverty

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Here's the Progressive matrix: Foster dependency under the rubric of compassion, then point with alarm to the results of the policies in order to make the dependencies permanent. In the meantime, treat the dependents as a market and build industries around the pathologies that developed that are lucrative to Progressive industry -- abortion, lobbying, and so forth. Resist all efforts to improve education and moral renewal in the impoverished areas, and the result is constituency that keeps the profits and political influence in place from one generation to the next. From the essay: My former White House colleague Ron Haskins points out that "Census data show that if all Americans finished high school, worked full time at whatever job they then qualified for with their education, and married at the same rate as Americans had married in 1970, the poverty rate would be cut by around 70 percent." The best way to keep open the pathway to the American Dream, then, is through a "success … [Read more...]

The Preferential Option for the Poor

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Source: First Things Catholic writer R.R. Reno explains why he became a social conservative. Catholic social teaching has always stressed a "preferential option for the poor" which certainly conforms to Orthodox moral teaching particularly in reference to Matthew 25. Where it gets hazy however is when we discuss how policy should be crafted that meets this obligation. Some Catholics, particularly liberals, embrace the Progressive social agenda taking Progressive rhetoric about care for the poor at face value. Orthodox liberals do the same thing. Reno used to be in that camp until he came to see that care for the poor cannot be reduced to money alone, especially in America. The poor in America also suffer from a depletion of social capital particularly the values and habits that make the climb out of material deprivation possible. This view of course is politically incorrect, but then political correctness is nothing more than pressure from those whose ideas can't stand up under … [Read more...]

FOCUS North America bolsters ministry to poor

August 6, 2009: FOCUS North America Extends Domestic Aid with Hundreds of Orthodox Youth Outreach Volunteers FOCUS North America is excited to announce the extension of its domestic outreach to the poor by receiving the highly acclaimed “Orthodox Youth Outreach” (OYO) program from the Antiochian Archdiocese Department of Youth Ministry and Teen SOYO. Added to FOCUS North America’s diverse ongoing operations and partner ministries, the addition of the OYO program strengthens its domestic ministry to the homeless and hopeless by involving youth in urban service learning opportunities and social action leadership training. … [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...]