April 17, 2014

Politics, Ideas, and the West

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An excerpt from an essay published on OrthodoxyToday.org. By Samuel Gregg Yet as the French theologian Jean Daniélou S.J. once observed, there is no true civilization that is not also religious. In the case of Western civilization, that means Judaism and Christianity. The question of religious truth is something with which we must allow every person to wrestle in the depths of their conscience. But if conservatism involves upholding the heritage of the West against those who would tear it down (whether from without and within), then conservatives should follow the lead of European intellectuals such as Rémi Brague and Joseph Ratzinger and invest far more energy in elucidating Christianity’s pivotal role in the West’s development—including the often complicated ways in which it responded to, and continues to interact, with the movements associated with the various Enlightenments. Such an enterprise goes beyond demonstrating Christianity’s contribution to … [Read more...]

Is America Becoming Europe?

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Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and How America Can Avoid a European Future Across the Atlantic, Americans see European economies faltering under enormous debt, overburdened welfare states, governments controlling close to fifty percent of the economy, high taxation, heavily regulated labor markets, aging populations, and large numbers of public sector workers. They also see a European political class that is unable -- and, in many cases, unwilling -- to implement economic reform. This timely and sobering video explains why Americans cannot ignore the "canary in the coalmine" across the pond in determining our future. We must ask the question: "Is America becoming Europe?" To learn more read Dr. Samuel Gregg's Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and How America Can Avoid a European Future: "This is a book that every economist, historian, and politician should read." — Amity Shlaes, syndicated Bloomberg News columnist "Europe is a … [Read more...]

Islam and the Closing of the Secular Mind

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Source: The American Spectator By Samuel Gregg The "enlightened" Western mind can no longer think seriously or coherently about religion. Given the decidedly strange response of the Obama Administration and much of the Western commentariat to the violence sweeping the Islamic world, one temptation is to view their reaction as simple incomprehension in the face of the severe unreason that leads some people to riot and kill in a religion's name. But while the Administration's response has plenty to do with trying to defend a foreign policy that has plainly gone south, it also reflects something far more problematic: the Western secular mind's increasing inability to think seriously and coherently about religion at all. This problem manifests itself in several ways. The first is the manner in which many secular thinkers seem to regard all religions as "basically the same." By this, they often mean either equally irrational or as promoting essentially similar values. A … [Read more...]

Obama and the Dictatorship of Relativism

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When the Manhattan Declaration first came out, Orthodox signers came under considerable criticism. Too much culture wars was the usual response. I signed the document because I saw that efforts to institutionalize secular liberalism could only succeed if dissenting voices were silenced. The cost of that silence is high and will include the loss of liberty if it succeeds. Secular fundamentalism allows no prisoners. Below Samuel Gregg examines the historical antecedents of the present conflict and writes, "(T)he Catholic Church's fight — in fact, the fight of anyone, believer or non-believer, who recognizes secularist fundamentalism as a danger to freedom — against the despotism of "there-is-no-moral-truth..." is only just beginning." He's right. Source: American Spectator | Samuel Gregg There is no moral truth and Rawls is his prophet. If there was ever any doubt about one of the Obama Administration's key philosophical commitments, it was dispelled on Jan. … [Read more...]

Samuel Gregg: Christians in a Post-Welfare State World

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How much of the activism of the Progressive wing of American Christianity (including some Orthodox participants unfortunately) in the current budget battles is nothing more than grabbing its piece of the federal pie before the welfare state collapses? Progressives like Jim Wallis and others routinely use the moral imperatives of the gospel to justify their Progressive moral vision. They conflate the imperatives into Progressive ideology to persuade the unsuspecting that the Gospel of Jesus Christ and Progressive ideology are one and the same. They are, at heart, statists who refuse to examine the soul stultifying and character destroying dependencies that statism fosters. Welfare states are dying because this albatross of good intentions is not economically viable. Welfare states can only exist on borrowed money. Once the bills come due, as they have for America and all the countries of Western Europe, change is inevitable and necessary. "Christian" Progressives understand this … [Read more...]

Socialism: Threat to Freedom

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Samuel Gregg, Director of Research at the Acton Institute offers an excellent introduction to socialism on a recent interview on EWTN. He discusses the philosophical foundations of socialism including its implicit anthropology and cosmology, as well as its historical record. He draws the necessary distinctions between Gramscian vs Leninist socialism (the cultural means of production vs. the economic means of production) and the implications for the larger culture. He is interviewed by Johnnette S. Benkovic, the Founder and President of Living His Life Abundantly International, a Roman Catholic evangelization ministry. I have to put it on a separate page because the autostart-off does not work. Open it in a new tab, then post your comments below. You can see the interview here. … [Read more...]