“Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.” (St. Francis of Assisi)
Disabled children place too great a burden on the country’s nationalized health care and other services and ought to be “put down” to save money, an independent councillor for Wadebridge East in North Cornwall has said. The comments, made to a member of the Disability Cornwall charity at County Hall in Truro in 2011, have cost Collin Brewer his position. He announced yesterday that he will resign.
At an event organized to help councillors meet and speak with various charities, Brewer approached a stall run by Disability Cornwall. When told about the work of the charity, he responded, “Disabled children cost the council too much money and should be put down.” Brewer said the remarks were designed to “provoke a debate” and has apologized. “I was wrong, I admit it,” he told the BBC. “I will continue to apologize.” Since making the comments, Brewer has been under pressure from charities for the disabled and caregiver groups to resign, but had refused until now, saying that it had been nothing but a “flippant remark.” A spokesman for disability charity Scope said, “To hear such an ill-judged and insensitive statement from a councillor is deeply disturbing and demonstrates that they are clearly not fit for office.” MORE….
The United States Supreme Court is currently trying to decide whether we as a nation will redefine marriage from a sacred union between a man and a woman to some sort of secular contract between whomever desires to participate. This historically unprecedented move, though bizarre on its face, is the logical result of the current confusion we face as a nation, which is simply the question of what we intend to use to replace God as we move “forward”, to use the U.S. President’s favorite phrase. MORE….
An upcoming “Nontheist” book and talk show aimed at promoting discussion between faiths and supporting a spiritual brand of atheism has drawn criticism from an acclaimed Christian apologist. Apologist and professor of philosophy at Denver Seminary, Douglas Groothuis, attacked the inconsistencies of education adviser and coach Mark W. Gura’s position in his book Blind Faith Virus Vaccine, due to hit Amazon.com on September 1 and the airwaves in October. In the book, Gura calls for open dialogue among different faiths, but argues that worship of Jesus Christ may separate one from the inner peace only found in atheism and Buddhist meditation. ”The atheist says that the universe is just here,” Groothuis explained in a Thursday interview with The Christian Post. But Gura “is trying to sneak in some kind of purpose to a universe that can’t have any purpose, given atheism, and he’s trying to find a subjective spiritual meaning – hope – apart from a personal, moral, God, which cannot be done either.” MORE….
Twenty prominent conservatives have joined Media Research Center (MRC) President Brent Bozell to demand broadcast networks, like ABC, NBC, and CBS cover the story of an abortion doctor on trial for murdering born-alive babies in Philadelphia. The group is asking that the testimony of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood in favor of killing babies who survived botched abortions be covered as well. The conservative leaders—like Bozell, Craig Shirley, Richard Viguerie, David Bossie, and Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the effective and influential Susan B. Anthony List—called the media’s blackout “unprofessional,” “disgusting,” and “inhuman.”
Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia abortion doctor who made millions performing late-term abortions, has been accused of murdering seven born-alive babies in a run-down abortion clinic that has been described as a “house of horrors.” He allegedly committed infanticide by plunging scissors into their necks and may face the death penalty. MORE….
As I wrote last year, the culture war is over, and conservatives lost. For Christians, though, there might just be a silver lining. Now, of course, it’s understandable why many of my fellow cultural conservatives mourn the decline of Christian values in the public arena, inasmuch as they had a powerful influence on the rise of western civilization. Historians like Rodney Stark and sociologists like Mary Eberstadt (and many others) have chronicled this phenomenon. It’s not simply about “losing power and market share,” but mourning the very real downstream effects of secular liberal policies on issues such as defending the unborn. But there are reasons for Christian conservatives to be optimistic about these societal changes, too. For one thing, the good times weren’t always so good. The peak of “Christian America” was probably the 1950s, and while this era had a veneer of spirituality and perhaps the post-war evangelical movement was at its apogee (think Billy Graham), America was plagued by the ugly reality of racism, which goes against the gospel. In many ways, the 1950s was a gilded age. While a lot of Americans presented themselves as Ward Cleaver, they drank and philandered like Don Draper.
…. Christ promised that genuine Christianity would be met with opposition. And the entire book of 1 Peter was written for this purpose: How do we live as a faithful minority? I don’t think anyone should be rooting for persecution, of course, but I do think there may be some very positive developments to come from a nation that no longer pretends to be Christian. It’s hard to be a rebel when you’re The Man. MORE…
Nathan J. Winograd wrote an extensive exposé for the Huffington Post on the history of euthanizing animals perpetrated by the supposed animal-loving group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Winograd reports that thousands of animals are killed every year, and his post is filled with unsettling photos to prove his point. Warning readers right away that the images in his report are “graphic” and may “distress the reader,” Winograd goes on to reveal that “approximately 2,000 animals pass through PETA’s front door every year and very few make it out alive.”
Amazingly, the article claimed that 96 percent of the animals that pass through PETA’s doors ended up dead. Worse, PETA’s donors are the ones paying for these killings even as those same donors think they are sending money to save animals. ”Most animal lovers find this hard to believe,” Winograd says. He goes on to bitingly say, “if it is true that a picture speaks a thousand words, the following images speak volumes about who and what PETA really stands for.” MORE….
Hilary White: Europe’s bishops discover what we all knew: most Catholics reject teaching on sexual morality
For four decades, faithful Catholics throughout the western world have publicly lamented the near-total absence of teaching on moral issues from Catholic pulpits – now a Vatican survey has incontestably shown their concerns were justified. The German and Swiss Catholic bishops have issued the results from their countries of a survey initiated by the Vatican in October asking what Catholics believe and adhere to when it comes to Church teachings on sex and the family…. It said “‘pre-marital unions’ are not only a relevant pastoral reality, but one which is almost universal” and that the great majority of respondents felt Catholic teaching on sexual morality is “unrealistic.”“Between 90 percent and 100 percent of couples who seek a Catholic wedding are already living together, despite church teaching that sex outside of marriage is sinful.
…. Many, in fact, consider it irresponsible to marry without living together beforehand,” the German report said. The Swiss report, which surveyed Catholics who attend church regularly, found that while they “fully agree on the importance of sacramental marriage” it is “difficult to accept the Church’s doctrine on the family, marriage and homosexuality.” About 60 percent said that the Church should “recognize and bless” same-sex unions, and there was “strong disagreement” over contraception. The “number one” request of Swiss Catholics, however, was that people who had been divorced and remarried outside the Church should be allowed to receive Holy Communion. MORE…
Why are we here on earth? What did God intend when he created us and placed us on this planet? And what is the purpose of the human race’s continued existence? These questions may never be fully answered. And even if they are, we may never fully comprehend the answers with our Finite minds. However, there is no reason we should not explore some possible answers. In fact, many people have already done so and have come to different conclusions.
Sadly, some of those conclusions have created “Christian glass ceilings.” By that, I mean limitations Christians have imposed on themselves because of a particular understanding of Scripture that emphasizes heaven over earth; spirit over mind and body; church and evangelism over work, commerce, and enterprise; and the planet Earth over the rest of the universe. MORE…
Recently I’ve revisited the massive shakeup of Catholic theology occasioned by Henri de Lubac’s remarkable study Surnaturel(French for “supernatural”), published just after the close of World War II. The whole episode demonstrates the immense consequences that can follow from getting key ideas just a little bit wrong. Almost in one fell swoop, De Lubac demonstrated the weakness of too much modern Thomistic thought by exposing the consequences of what had become an almost classic division of the order of Creation into the natural and the supernatural. Part of the problem was that Thomism had been carefully elaborated by somewhat entrenched scholars who had grown to depend more on the tradition of the great commentators than on St. Thomas himself…. One of the interesting questions introduced into Catholic theology by its growing use of Aristotelian philosophy as a fundamental component was whether or not God was constrained by His own creation to give the human person a supernatural end. This was not much of a problem before Aristotle was rediscovered and brought into Catholic theology in the high Middle Ages…. What happened here is that, in theological terms, the horizon of human nature in itself was severely restricted. This calls into doubt the very ability of God to clearly communicate with man.
Surely the human consciousness of the Divine must be at best irremediably weak, even inchoate, on the assumption that nothing in man’s nature is equipped for it. Indeed, for thinkers who were not already reflexively orthodox—thinkers, that is, who chose to focus on man’s nature and not on this super-added gift—Modernism would be (and was) an almost inevitable result. In a slight paraphrase of an old song, you could take the boy out of the country, but you couldn’t take the country out of the boy. The boy was not just part of nature; he was part of a purely natural order completely separate from God’s supernatural order. You do not find this in the first thousand years or so of Christian history. Nor do you find this, for example, in the more contemplative traditions of Eastern Catholicism. MORE…
In 1939, the historian Christopher Dawson penned an essay that called for resistance to the bourgeois mentality. Dawson set a hostile tone almost immediately by declaring that “it is difficult to deny that there is a fundamental disharmony between . . . the mind of the bourgeois and the mind of Christ.” Dawson’s is no Marxist analysis, however. A bourgeois mentality is not reducible to a particular class. Its anti-type is the “man of desire”…. For Dawson, the bourgeois mind exhibits an urbanism that divorces humanity from nature. “It turns the peasant into a minder of machines and the yeoman into a shopkeeper, until ultimately . . . the very face of nature is changed by the destruction of the countryside.” Just two years after Tolkien reminded Britain of a time of hobbits and a verdant Shire, Dawson declared that the bourgeois was an enemy of the peasant.
…. Dawson’s analysis of a bourgeois mentality highlights a contradiction at the center of postmodern life. On the one hand, there is an emerging back-to-nature movement with its urban gardens, whole foods, and environmental stewardship. The postmodern person craves an organic connection to creation in the same way that Willa Cather’s Alexandra in O Pioneers! set her face toward the land “with love and yearning. . . . Her eyes drank in the breadth of it, until her tears blinded her.” MORE…
The U.S. Department of Justice has revealed in a court filing it agrees with the philosophy of the German government that bureaucrats can punish homeschooling parents. And the agency explained parental rights to keep their children free from instruction that violates their faith essentially are negligible when the government’s goal is an “open society.” The arguments were made in a pleading before the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that encourages the judges to send a German homeschooling family, the Romeikes, back to Germany where members likely would face persecution. “The goal in Germany is for an ‘open, pluralistic society,’” wrote the government’s pleading, signed by Senior Litigation Counsel Robert N. Markle in Washington. So, he said, there is a law requiring attendance by all at government schools and punishment is levied against anyone failing to comply, whether they are truant or have religious objections to the indoctrination at the public schools. MORE….
Following the financial crisis of 2008, many voices used “capitalism” as if it were a dirty word. We can understand why. The short-term, purely self-interested thinking that contributed to the crisis and subsequent recession has also contributed to a long list of human tragedies: Thousands of workers killed when unregulated factories collapse; a growing income inequality where one billion people barely survive on less than $1 a day; and dangerous climate changes pressuring the supply of basic commodities. Some blame “capitalism” for these problems and, by extension, condemn capitalism as inherently unethical. At the World Economic Forum in Davos this year, a group of business, NGO and government leaders discussed this question in a panel titled “Ethical Capitalism – Worth a Try?”.
…. From my perspective, this notion that “capitalism” is inherently unethical is not only philosophically wrong but factually refutable. The problem is not with capitalism; the problem is with those capitalists who focus on the present without caring for the future. Consider the extraordinary human achievement of the past two centuries generated by capitalism. As John Mackey reminds us in his book, Conscious Capitalism, 85 percent of the globe lived in extreme poverty just 200 years ago. Today, that number is 16 percent. Life expectancy has more than doubled, individual freedom has bloomed across the globe, and extraordinary innovation spurred by capitalism has changed daily life immeasurably. No other economic system yet devised has the power to create such positive change.
In the concluding session of the recent successful Citizen’s Conference on Environmental Governance organized by Informed-Conscious and Responsible Existence (ICARE) in his closing remarks Phrang Roy raised a pertinent question about the role of faith-based groups in protecting the environment. Rev W. Khongwir, senior pastor of the Presbyterian Church who took the dais later informed that his Church has been organizing Environment Sunday on the first Sunday of June every year. Some days ago it was reported that the Catholic Church under the Mawbir diocese came up with a brilliant idea of generating a new sacred forest and organized a blessing to sanctify the same…. The United Church of Christ (UCoC) established a special ministry called the Environmental Ministry which is grounded on Biblical foundation. In Genesis: 1, when God created the heavens and the earth he saw that everything was “very good.” Genesis: 2 says humankind has the freedom to make moral choices; all are responsible for their personal actions or inactions…. The scriptures compel Christians to act out their faith which is based on wonder, reverence, love, and respect for all of God’s creation. But evidently God’s creation today is groaning under the burden of injustice, greed, and arrogance. Our choices have resulted in vanishing and degraded farmlands, air unfit to breathe and water unfit to drink, unsustainable energy processes and consumption, and the perilous immediate and long-term worldwide consequences of global warming and climate change. And now, we realize every day that our choices threaten the voiceless natural systems that sustain life itself says the UCoC statement. MORE….
One of the most influential figures in Christian history in the second millennium, St Dominic invigorated the Church during one of those periodic times when man’s imperfections had led it down the wrong roads and so inspired heresy…. In 1214 De Montfort (father of the English political leader in the Barons’ War) gave him a castle at Casseneuil. Dominic, along with six followers, founded an order devoted to converting the Cathars, and though canonically approved, failed to win approval at the Lateran Council of 1215. It was only a year later that Pope Honorious III allowed him to set up the Order of Preachers, or Dominicans…. Influenced by the Benedictine vows of his youth, Dominic lived an austere life, abstaining from meat and observing periods of fasting and silence. He always, according to one chronicler, “selected the worst accommodations and the meanest clothes” and “never allowed himself the luxury of a bed”. He would also walk barefoot, “however sharp the stones or thorns, he trudged on on his way”. Before Christmas 1218 Dominic arrived at Bologna, where he established a convent and he settled in a nearby church, where he died in 1221, “exhausted with the austerities and labours of his career”. In the last moments of life he asked his followers to “have charity, to guard their humility and to make their treasure out of poverty”. He was canonised in 1234 and his remains, buried in a simple coffin, were moved to a shrine in 1267. MORE…
Three events this past fall suggest the need to grapple with the nature of populism again, especially religious populism and its relationship to renewal and the life of the mind. While each of these events deal with different slices of Christianity (Pentecostal, Evangelical, and Catholic), they all center upon a resurgence of the populist mind and thus have prompted some anxious reflections by commentators…. As diverse as these three events are, they point to three significant features of religious populism…. What is needed is a greater appreciation of the whole Christian tradition as the ground of discernment for any form of populism.
This is a fundamental aspect of the conservative imagination, namely, that the dynamism that gives rise to new forms of Christianity issues from a deep immersion into the fabric of Christian life and witness in its many historic expressions. From the vantage point of the whole tradition, we can begin to understand the sentiments behind populist movements and the ideas they intend to transmit. We can also begin to discern how to integrate those ideas back into the fabric of the tradition from which they emerged and of which they seek to foster renewal. MORE…
A new spirit is abroad in the Vatican…. What is new? Much attention has been paid to Francis’s friendly words to groups that historically have been regarded as beyond the pale by Catholic Church authorities, notably gay people and atheists. Yet this aspect of his radicalism seems the least convincing: a case of style over dogma…. What is undeniably new, though, is Francis’s desire to cleanse his Church of luxury. He is truly the Austerity Pope for this new age of austerity.
…. He expects the rest of the Catholic Church to follow his example. This summer he told a group of young nuns and monks, “It hurts me when I see a priest or nun with the latest model car. You can’t do this.” He added, “Just think of how many children die of hunger and dedicate the savings to them.” Last month he denounced those ambitious “airport bishops” looking out for a more prestigious diocese, whom he compared to men “who are constantly looking at other women more beautiful than their own”; and he commented, “Careerism is a cancer.” MORE…
Three Christian groups have called on their members to fast and intensify their prayers to ensure the sustenance of peace and tranquillity in the country, especially after the Supreme Court delivers its judgement on the election petition. They have also urged Ghanaians, particularly their members, to make personal vows with God not to derail the peace of the country. The Christian Council of Ghana (CCG), the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference (GCBC) and the Action Chapel International (ACI) made the call in separate statements. The 22-member CCG, in its statement, declared August 4 to 11, 2013 as a week of fasting and prayers in all congregations and institutions. The council also pledged to engage its congregations on the need to uphold the peace after the Supreme Court ruling on the election petition. According to the CCG, the prayers would be directed at the panel of judges of the court and various adjudication processes to enable them to make the right decision. MORE….
Father James Schall was a Professor in the Department of Government at Georgetown University for over 35 years. He retired from that position in 2012. He is the author of numerous books, including: Another Sort of Learning (Ignatius Press, 1988); Idylls and Rambles (Ignatius Press, 1994); and Religion, Wealth and Poverty (Fraser Institute Press, 1990). His most recent book is Reasonable Pleasures: The Strange Coherences of Catholicism (Ignatius Press, 2013). In August of 2013, Schall published a piece in The Catholic World Report that received considerable attention titled, “Do Christians Love Poverty?”
He recently spoke with [Acton Institute's] managing editor Ray Nothstine. MORE…
At first glance, the favela known as Babilônia appears to be nothing more than an impoverished wasteland on a small mountain overlooking Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana beach. But a deeper look and an afternoon spent with some of the shanty town’s 3,500 residents gives light to a community characterized by strong Christian roots and, for the first time in its 80-year history, hope for the future. Since the 1990s, pictures of Babilônia show men with machine guns and rifles standing on street corners and makeshift roofs. Known as the Terceiro Comando and Comando Vermelho, these drug-trafficking groups dictated everything from the hours Babilônia’s residents could leave their homes to the level of noise permitted from each house. But in November 2008, a statewide police force in Rio de Janeiro known as the Police Pacifying Unit (UPP) set on a mission to clean and restore the city’s most dangerous favelas, using force to remove armed drug lords that had dominated the areas for decades. Five years later, Babilônia and 224 other favelas are under UPP control, much to the happiness and relief of their residents. Recognized as one of the city’s most successful social initiatives over the past decade, the UPP has contributed to a drastic reduction in both crime rates and drug trafficking, which has allowed Babilônia’s residents the freedom to vote and practice their religion without the forced influence of weapon-bearing drug lords. MORE….
In the Gospel, Jesus praises a woman who gives from her substance: He noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. He said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood (Lk 21:2-4). Now in praising her act he also gives a teaching for us all which highlights the kind of freedom that often comes with poverty and simplicity, and also the kind of bondage that can come with wealth and worldly connections. The teaching is very paradoxical since, in worldly thinking, we usually conclude that those with the most money, power and access are the most free to do what they please. But frequently the opposite ends up being the case, and our worldly possessions, power, popularity and access lead us in to a sort of bondage and fear that wasn’t featured in all the promises and advertisements about “the good life.”
Why and how is this so? In effect, those with great wealth and who have power, popularity and deep connections in the world, have “too much to lose.” You can’t steal from a man who has nothing and it is a lot harder to intimidate him. Yet those who go up on the heights, tend to look down from those heights, and fear the fall. MORE…
A few weeks ago, a Catholic priest caused quite a stir in one of our local diocesan high schools. He spoke the truth about sex. Pause here to sigh, and to wish that our heresies were more interesting. Some of the parents and students objected. They did not say, “The...Read More »
I have still not seen the new movie Noah, although I have a feeling I’m going to like it after reading about the screening party last month, an affair not quite up to the standards of the New York Post’s entertainment writer. “The buffet tables,” he reports, “were loaded with various...Read More »
What is Jesus trying to tell us in the Parable of the Good Samaritan? What is He trying to tell us today in the church? Today, we call someone who helps another that they are a Good Samaritan. This is because they are helping someone even at their own expense. ...Read More »
It is said to be China’s biggest church and on Easter Sunday thousands of worshippers will flock to this Asian mega-temple to pledge their allegiance – not to the Communist Party, but to the Cross. The 5,000-capacity Liushi church, which boasts more than twice as many seats as Westminster...Read More »
This Lent I’ve gone back to basics and not only read Mark’s gospel, but have posted a daily Bible study here on the blog. In reading the gospels again what strikes me is the radical, bare bones, rock solid, bottom line approach of Jesus. He is not...Read More »
In the Old Testament, God, showed through a system of sacrifices by which ancient Israel acknowledged their sins. The nature of these rituals made it clear that without shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness/remission of sin (Hebrew. 9:22). God commanded the congregation of Israel to shed the...Read More »
Over the years we have found a very interesting comparison between Jesus on one hand, and ethical vegans and animal advocates, including peaceful animal rights activists, on the other hand. The example Jesus set for us leads us to do every peaceful thing in our power to free creation...Read More »
We hear many religious leaders speaking about being born again, but not in connection with our new life in Jesus and living in the heavenly will of God. Most people who claim to be born again are still living the same worldly lives they formerly did, only we hear...Read More »
The Protest Against Evil and the Rise of Atheism: Is Evil Really the Problem? (Deacon F. K. Bartels)
Man was originally “not only created good, but was also established in friendship with his Creator and in harmony with himself” and with the created universe…. However, at the dawn of time, humankind fell from God’s grace through the commission of original sin by our first parents. Adam...Read More »
The Bible tells us that every person was born into sin, this is found in Romans 5:12. It says: ”Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” We were all shaped in iniquity and...Read More »