Healthy Economies Rely on Healthy Marriages

Pope Benedict XVI has some fascinating things to say in his latest encyclical titled Caritas in veritate “Charity in Truth.” A papal encyclical is a general letter to Roman Catholic Christians, and Popes use such letters to teach the church the Christian viewpoint on key issues. The document is 30,472 words, which translates to about 54 pages of single-spaced text. For a good summary, see Francis Beckwith’s piece at the Christianity Today website.

Among other things, I found it interesting that the Pope attempted some “public access” arguments in favor of marriage. Much of this letter is taken up with economic issues, and the Pope insists that healthy economic policies must be built upon the recognition that economies are comprised of persons created in the image of God and that these persons owe one another “love in truth.” The Pope holds furthermore that some “formerly prosperous nations” are experiencing economic decline precisely because of a shortage of human capital due to “falling birthrates” (44). For this reason, the Pope concludes: Continue Reading →

Quotables from Caritas in Veritate

“Religious freedom does not mean religious indifferentism, nor does it imply that all religions are equal.”

Reason always stands in need of being purified by faith: this also holds true for political reason, which must not consider itself omnipotent.”

–Caritas in Veritate, 55 & 56

AG Holder To Investigate Bush Interrogation Practices

United States Attorney General Eric Holder is contemplating something pretty big. Here’s the scoop from Newsweek:

“Four knowledgeable sources tell NEWSWEEK that he is now leaning toward appointing a prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration’s brutal interrogation practices, something the president has been reluctant to do. While no final decision has been made, an announcement could come in a matter of weeks, say these sources, who decline to be identified discussing a sensitive law-enforcement matter. Such a decision would roil the country, would likely plunge Washington into a new round of partisan warfare, and could even imperil Obama’s domestic priorities, including health care and energy reform.”

Derek Webb: Clean or Explicit?

Derek Webb has a new album out, and it comes with a bit of controversy. reports the following:

‘Derek Webb’s new album, Stockholm Syndrome, will be released in September in two versions: a clean and explicit version.

‘The controversy surrounds the lyrics to one of the songs, “What Matters More,” in which Webb says apparently the word “sh*t”. In typical Derek Webb fashion, he’s used a bit of shock value to make a point and in the process made his label a little nervous. (And used it all to promote the album.)
Continue Reading →

Feel My Pain

Carl Trueman writes with poignancy and verve. His essays on Reformation21 are always must-reads. His latest one on whining is no exception. You’ll need to read the whole thing, but here’s the conclusion:

‘Expressions of hurt are too often really something else: cowardly attempts by representatives of a cosseted and self-obsessed culture to make themselves uniquely important or, worse still, to bully and cajole somebody they dislike to stop saying things they don’t want to hear or which they find distasteful.   My advice to such is akin to that of the counselor in the Bob Newhart sketch: Stop it!  If somebody’s writing or speaking hurts you, ask yourself “Why?”, don’t whine about the discomfort. Get a grip, get yourself some trousers, stop feeling sorry for yourself, and please, please, please, don’t hide behind the aesthetic pietisms of the tiresome and clichéd `feel my pain while I process my hurt’ posse.  Have the backbone, have the decency – nay, have the honesty – to take your licks and move on, either to addressing the substance of the argument or to some area of endeavour that is, well, perhaps less painful and hurtful for you.’

Russell Moore Takes on ‘Orphan’ Movie

Russell Moore guest-hosted “The Albert Mohler Program” (AMP) yesterday and took on the negative stereotyping of the new horror movie “Orphan.” It was a timely show, and you should listen to it. Below is the audio and description of the program from the AMP website.

“How to Protect Orphans from Hollywood”

“Why are people so afraid of orphans? Orphans often find themselves demonized by Hollywood, and it’s happened again with the release of a new horror film about a deranged orphan girl called, Orphan. Why is it that the least of these are so easily preyed upon by those who should protect them? Guest host Dr. Russell Moore discusses the blessings, challenges, and necessity of adopting with guest Jedd Medefind, Executive Director of Christian Alliance for Orphans.”

John Fund on ‘Why Palin Quit’

John Fund has an interesting OP-ED in today’s Wall Street Journal on “Why Palin Quit.” In a nutshell, he says that the Beltway media have likely gotten it wrong. Fund suggests that there may not have been any political strategery involved in this decision to resign the governorship. The reasons for her departure were uncomplicated. Not only were Palin’s legal bills piling up due to frivolous ethics complaints, but her family was also taking a beating in the press. Fund writes:

“Ms. Palin gave birth to a baby with Down’s Syndrome in 2008, and also has a six-year old. Everyone in the family was weary of endless personal attacks, including mean-spirited suggestions on liberal blogs that all of her children should have been aborted and that she would run on a presidential platform promoting retardation.”

One can only imagine what kind of a toll such venom took on Palin’s family. Fund concludes,

“Ms. Palin mostly likely will not run for president — in 2012, at least. She made many mistakes after suddenly being thrust into the national spotlight last year, but hasn’t merited the sneering contempt visited upon her by national reporters. She simply was not their kind of feminist — and they disdained the politically incorrect life choices she had made.

“In helping to convince Sarah Palin that her road forward in national politics would demand even more sacrifices and pain than exacted from most politicians, the media did nothing to encourage women or people of modest means to participate in politics.”

I am not a Palin-apologist. In the 2008 campaign, I liked her views but not her candidacy. She delivered a barn-burner of a speech at the Republican National Convention but was not up to the task in subsequent interviews where there was no script. To me it seemed she was not quite ready for prime time.

That being said, I think that some of the attacks on her and her family have been unconscionable and completely out-of-bounds. Fund does well to point out this fact. Who can blame her for wanting to spare her family another year and a half of such abuse?

Declaration of Dependence

My family and I spent the 4th of July holiday on Logan Martin Lake in Pell City, Alabama; and on Sunday we worshiped at the First Baptist Church of Pell City. Dr. John Thweatt breaks the bread of life there every week, and on Sunday he called on the congregation to make a declaration of dependence. It was great message from a faithful servant of the gospel, and I am happy to share it with you.

Humble Yourselves

Dr. Thweatt’s Blog | Twitter | FBC Pell City, AL

If Palin Hadn’t Been VP Nominee

In today’s New York Times, Ross Douthat talks about what might have become of Sarah Palin’s political fortunes:

“Had she refused John McCain, Palin would still be a popular female governor in a Republican Party starved for future stars. Her scandals would be the stuff of local politics, her daughter’s pregnancy a minor story in the Lower 48, her son Trig’s parentage a nonissue even for conspiracy theorists. There would still be plenty of time to ease into the national spotlight, to bone up on the issues, and to craft a persona more appealing than the Mrs. Spiro Agnew role the McCain campaign assigned to her.

“Most important, nobody would have realized yet how much she looks like Tina Fey.”

Read the rest here.

Soil Number Three

John Piper has not been Tweeting long, but he sure has done a great job of turning the micro-blog into a platform for the gospel. Yesterday, he posted a line that is worth some reflection. Here it is:

“The devil’s main American M. O. is soil three not soil two (Luke 8:23-24)”

This is a reference to Jesus’ explanation of the parable of the soils in Luke 8 (the verses are actually Luke 8:13-14), and it is an apt word for our culture. Here’s the text:

Luke 8:13-14
13 “And those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away. 14 “And the seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity.

You will remember, that there are four soils in this parable and that only the last one bears fruit. I take it that fruitfulness is the sign of genuine conversion and that the only “soil” that is truly saved in this parable is soil number four. The first three soils bear no fruit and thus show no evidence of conversion.

What is interesting in this text, however, is that it indicates that both trials and prosperity can choke the gospel out of one’s life. Soil number two consists of those who are tempted to turn away from the gospel because of a trial—perhaps some kind of suffering or persecution. Soil number three consists of those who trade-in the gospel for “riches” and the “pleasures” of this life.

According to Piper, soil number three describes the American experience more than does soil number two. Why? Because American Christians by and large live in relative peace and prosperity and aren’t tried by persecution. Soil number three, however, does describe the American experience very well. In fact, it describes my experience very well. It’s a devastating word to my own idolatrous heart—a word I need to hear. Maybe you do too.

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