August 27, 2014

Wesley J. Smith: Orthodox Advocate for Human “Exceptionalism”

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Our culture is at a crossroad about the value of human life, argues author and human rights activist Wesley J. Smith in an interview with Kevin Allen on the "Illumined Heart" podcast (Ancient Faith Radio). Do we value human life simply because it is human, or do we value it based on notions and definitions of "personhood" including such characteristics as sentience, awareness, stages of biological development and others factors? The former allows for a universal definition of human rights. The latter reduces human beings to "subjects" that are bound to shifting and often capricious standards that determine who lives and who dies.   Listen here: widget here (43:38) It's a heated battle (one that even spills over into the comments of this blog on occasion). Often, the the level of vituperation in the attacks against religious defenders of human life arise because the utilitarians understand their view allows for no coherent defense of any human rights, Smith says. "They … [Read more...]

Greece: No Faith in Ourselves

Writing for the Foreign Policy Research Institute on Dec. 19, Cornelia A. Tsakiridou rightly points to the breakdown of the rule of law as one of the most deplorable outcomes of these riots. Tsakiridou is Associate Professor and Director of the Diplomat-in-Residence Program at La Salle University. The spectacle of young people (and assorted criminals, leftwing extremists, and self-proclaimed anarchists) on a smash-and-burn spree wrapping themselves in the mantle of justice, martyrdom, and victimhood is only rivaled by that of a government incapable of making a clear and effective distinction between political grievance and thuggery, lawlessness and the rule of law. Despite attempts in the national and international press (among them Le Monde and The Guardian) to give a deeper dimension to the Greek riots and to offer a mix of elaborate psychological and sociological explanations, the truth may actually be rather plain. The riots happened because the legal … [Read more...]

The Late, Refined Flower of Culture

Russian emigre philosopher Georgy Fedotov (1888-1951) proposed two basic principles for all of the freedoms by which modern democracy lives. First, and most valuable, there are the freedoms of "conviction" -- in speech, in print, and in organized social activity. These freedoms, Fedotov asserted, developed out of the freedom of faith. The other principle of freedom "defends the individual from the arbitrary will of the state (which is independent of questions of conscience and thought) -- freedom from arbitrary arrest and punishment, from insult, plundering and coercion on the part of the organs of power ... " In an ideal world, all of these freedoms would be present. But Fedotov also cautioned that "freedom is the late, refined flower of culture." For the flower to bloom, the roots need to be watered. A free society, from the ground up, requires a respect for the rule of law, a judiciary and police force that aren't easily bought, a political culture that knows how to rid itself … [Read more...]