August 2, 2014

Jacques Berlinerblau: Secular America Wins!

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I could go through this article point by point and how how a materialist, non-sacramental worldview shapes how a person sees culture and politics. I am not going to do that. Instead, read through the article to understand how a person committed to radical secularism interprets the Obama victory. It's a revealing and, in its own way, honest article that illustrates the crisis and divide that America faces. Source: Huffington Post | Jacques Berlinerblau After last night's election, secular Americans can do things they haven't done in years: They can celebrate. They can feel a smidgen optimistic about the future of their country. And they can stop prattling on about repatriating to Canada. For a while there, house-hunting expeditions in Manitoba seemed like a plausible course of action. After all, "secularism" in 2012 was the dastardly -ism whose name could not be spoken. Across nearly 18 months of garrulous campaigning, I counted fewer than a dozen references to the … [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...]

The Limits of Secularism

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An outsanding analysis by the Chief Rabbi of England Lord Sacks. Some highlights: In 1997...I argued that the world had moved on since (Isaiah) Berlin's great 1957 lecture "Two Concepts of Liberty" (.pdf), and that the threat to liberty was now different: not totalitarianism but rather the internal moral decay of free societies. So there it is: the evidence that intellectuals have systematically misunderstood the nature of religion and religious observance and have constantly been thinking, for the better part of three centuries, that religion was about to disappear, yet it hasn't. In certain parts of the world it is growing. The 21st century is likely to be a more religious century than the 20th. It is interesting that religion is particularly growing in places like China where the economy is growing. We must ask ourselves why this is, because it is actually very odd indeed. Think about it: every function that was once performed by religion can now be done by something else. … [Read more...]

Orthodox and Catholics Face the Same Challenges

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Making common cause against secularism and other maladies of the modern era with the Catholic Church is a wise course. The Russian Orthodox Church approves (see my articles on Catholic Online). But how will Constantinople respond? Below is a press release where Pope Benedict sounds the same theme in a message to Pat. Bartholomew of Constantinople. It will be interesting to see what Constantinople's response will be, if any. Apart from environmental care, they have not addressed secularism, the demographic implosion of the West (including abortion), ethical issues, and other critical problem facing Western culture in any substantive or comprehensive ways in years. Care for the environment is close to Pat. Bartholomew's heart but even there most of the thinking remains trapped in the polemics of Progressive ideology (global warming, supporting international cap and trade legislation, embracing secular apocalyptic scenarios, and so forth), while the Vatican frames environmental care in … [Read more...]

With the Rise of Militant Secularism, Rome and Moscow Make Common Cause

Pat. Kyrill and Pope Benedict

The Acton Institute just published my essay. Source: Acton Institute | Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse The European religious press is abuzz over recent developments in Orthodox – Catholic relations that indicate both Churches are moving closer together. The diplomatic centerpiece of the activity would be a meeting of Pope Benedict and Patriarch Kyrill of the Russian Orthodox Church that was first proposed by Pope John Paul II but never realized. Some look to a meeting in 2013 which would mark the 1,700th anniversary of the signing of the Edict of Milan when Constantine lifted the persecution of Christians. It would be the first visit between the Pope of Rome and Patriarch of Moscow in history. A few short years ago a visit between Pope and Patriarch seemed impossible because of lingering problems between the two Churches as they reasserted territorial claims and began the revival of the faith in post-Soviet Russia, Ukraine and elsewhere. The relationship grew tense at times and while … [Read more...]

New European Union school calendar omits Christian holidays

European Union

So we are supposed to believe that omitting the Christian holidays was a mistake? Source: Catholic News Agency | HT: Monomakhos Strasbourg, France, Jan 14, 2011 / 02:11 pm (CNA).- A 2011-2012 school calendar published by the European Union has omitted Christian holidays, while continuing to note important Jewish and Muslim celebrations. The European Union has printed three million copies of the calendar which will be distributed free-of-charge to students who request them. Former French politician and government minister, Christine Boutin, wrote in her blog Jan. 11 that the calendar leaves out Christianity, “the religion practiced or recognized as forming the cultural assembly of our ‘old’ continent.” Boutin is a consultant for the Pontifical Council for the Family, as well as president of the Christian Democratic Party in France. She went on to lament that Christianity has “fallen into the limbo of collective ignorance.” While Christian holidays such as Christmas … [Read more...]

The open society and its enemy

Source: The Spectator George Soros has donated $1 million to a campaign to legalise cannabis in California. The Guardian reports (see here for a comment): The cash infusion, one week before Californians vote on a measure that would let anyone over 21 grow and possess up to an ounce of marijuana and allow local councils to tax sales of the drug, marks the first major investment by Soros in the mid-term elections. For several years now, the billionaire Soros has been effectively bankrolling the global campaign for the legalisation of drugs through his Open Society organisation. His influence in undermining western understanding of the crucial role of the law in containing the terrible individual and social effects of illegal drugs cannot be overestimated. But this in turn is but one aspect of the astonishing influence Soros has bought for himself in undermining key cultural building blocks of western society. This important speech delivered a few days ago in the US by … [Read more...]

Norm of faith as norm of life

This essay is outstanding. It represents the quality of thought that should be coming from all Orthodox Churches; the words that speak to the foundational questions of culture as I wrote yesterday. Frankly, the Orthodox in America are capable of contributions of this depth and importance. I have my doubts however, that Constantinople will ever achieve this level of creative engagement with the culture. I wish it were different but I have not seen any evidence that it is. +++++++++++++++++++ by Kirill I, patriarch of Moscow and all Russia A religious way of life – in our case, a Christian-Orthodox way of life – is distinguished by its foundation in the tradition of the Church. Tradition presents itself to us as a collection of truths that by means of the witness of the holy apostles were accepted by the Church, are preserved by her, and are developed in relation to the challenged posed to the Church in the various historical periods. In short, tradition is the vital flow of the … [Read more...]

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk: Culture is at risk of becoming anti-culture without the Church

Metropolitan Hilarion

Brilliant! Met. Hilarion's warning deals with what Nietzsche called the "transvaluation of values" -- what his dark prophesy warned would happen in the West because "God is Dead," by which he meant that Western culture was entering into a period where it functioned within the cultural structures shaped by Christianity but without concrete, existential communion with the Savior -- the kind of communion that would lead to martyrdom if required. Those structures would weaken as the historical memory of Christianity grew increasingly dim from one generation to the next. That is the period we are in today, call it secularism, but understand that secularism is just a layover from one city to the next. We have left the City of God (recalling Augustine) for what -- Islamic domination? Perhaps. Man cannot live by bread alone, and that includes the secularist as well as the believer. Met. Hilarion calls for nothing less than the spiritual transformation of culture. His clarity comes from … [Read more...]

Fr. Chad Hatfield: The Manhattan Declaration

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Ancient Faith Radio Fr. Chad Hatfield, discusses The Manhattan Declaration, "a call of Christian conscience" that he helped produce, and defends Orthodox participation in such cultural manifestos. Listen here: … [Read more...]

Albert Mohler: Vanishing Christianity — A Lesson from the Presbyterians

Albert Mohler

AlbertMohler.com "Liberal Protestantism, in its determined policy of accommodation with the secular world, has succeeded in making itself dispensable." That was the judgment of Thomas C. Reeves in The Empty Church: The Suicide of Liberal Protestantism, published in 1996. Fast-forward another fourteen years and it becomes increasingly clear that liberal Protestantism continues its suicide -- with even greater theological accommodations to the secular worldview. The latest evidence for this pattern is found in a report just released by The Presbyterian Panel, a research group that serves the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) [PCUSA]. The panel's report is presented as a "Religious and Demographic Profile of Presbyterians, 2008." The report contains relatively few surprises, but it is filled with data about the beliefs of Presbyterian laypersons and clergy. … [Read more...]

Patriarch Kirill & Pope Benedict: A Tale of Two Leaders for a new Missionary Age

Pat. Kyrill and Pope Benedict

I've been asked to become an Orthodox columnist on Catholic.org and accepted. Below is my first essay. Regular readers will notice ideas we discussed on the AOI Observer. +++++++++++++++++ Catholic Online (www.catholic.org) NAPLES, FL. (Catholic Online) - Over four decades ago Pope John Paul II said that the restoration of the Russian Orthodox Church was necessary for the cultural restoration of Western Europe. At the time his words seemed audacious. Russia was still under the Communist yoke, the winds in Poland were just starting to blow, and the Berlin wall loomed invincible. Culture watchers dismissed the statement as the wistful longing of a faithful man. Yet John Paul, with his gift of seeing through the clutter of immediate events into the deeper and far-reaching ways of God, knew better. He believed that the fall of Communism would unleash a transformation that could only come from those who suffered. His words are proving true. The Orthodox Church in Russia, … [Read more...]