The Green Patriarch and the Victims of Haiyan

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Source: First Things.

Dylan Pahman writes at First Things…

When Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in the Philippines in early November, the nation suffered catastrophic devastation, including the tragic loss of over 10,000 lives. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow sent a letter of condolence, praying for relief for the people of the Philippines. Both the Vatican and the Dalai Lama added to their sympathies and prayers humanitarian aid, the Pope’s initial alms being $150,000. According to Reuters, the Vatican has additionally pledged three million euros.

Yet one major religious leader took a different approach. His All-Holiness Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch has earned the title “the Green Patriarch” for his environmental activism. At the time that other religious leaders were offering their sympathies to the downtrodden people of the Philippines, His All-Holiness issued a statement on the occasion of the opening of the Warsaw Conference on Climate Change, which concluded on November 22.

Read the rest here.

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Limited Time Free eBook Offer: An Orthodox Christian Perspective on Environmentalism

A new book on Orthodox Christian theology and the environment from Acton. In the interest of full disclosure, the authors are both friends of mine!

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory

Source: Acton PowerBlog.

Beginning today, Acton is offering its first monograph on Eastern Orthodox Christian social thought at no cost through Amazon Kindle. Through Tues., Nov. 12, you can get your free digital copy of Creation and the Heart of Man: An Orthodox Christian Perspective on Environmentalism(Acton Institute, 2013). The print edition, which runs 91 pages, will be available later this month through the Acton Book Shop for $6. When the free eBook offer expires, Creation and the Heart of Man will be priced at $2.99 for the Kindle reader and free reading apps.

A summary of Creation and the Heart of Man:

Rooted in the Tradition of the Orthodox Church and its teaching on the relationship between God, humanity, and all creation, Fr. Michael Butler and Prof. Andrew Morriss offer a new contribution to Orthodox environmental theology. Too often policy recommendations from theologians and Church authorities have taken the form of pontifications, obscuring many important economic and public policy realities. The authors establish a framework for responsible engagement with environmental issues undergirded not only by Church teaching but also by sound economic analysis. Creation and the Heart of Man uniquely takes the discussion of Orthodox environmental ethics from abstract principles to thoughtful interaction with the concrete, sensitive to the inviolability of human dignity, the plight of the poor, and our common destiny of communion with God.

About the authors:

Fr. Michael Butler

Fr. Michael Butler

The Very Reverend Michael Butler is an independent scholar and an archpriest of the Orthodox Church in America and is serving a parish in Olmsted Falls, Ohio. He received his PhD in church history and patristics from Fordham University and his MA in theology and BA in psychology from the University of Dallas in Irving, Texas. He blogs on environmentalism and other subjects at FrMichaelB.com

Prof. Andrew Morriss

Prof. Andrew Morriss

Professor Andrew Morriss is D. Paul Jones, Jr., and Charlene A. Jones Chairholder in law and professor of business at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. He received his PhD in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, his JD and MPA from the University of Texas in Austin, and his AB from Princeton University. He has written extensively on environmental issues and is the author or coauthor of more than 50 scholarly articles, books, and book chapters. He serves as a Research Fellow at the New York University Center for Labor and Employment Law, a Senior Fellow at the Property & Environment Research Center in Bozeman, Mont. and a Senior Scholar at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.

Excerpt from the book:

Everything in creation exists by sharing in and manifesting God’s energies: created things are beautiful by sharing in and manifesting God’s beauty; true by sharing in and manifesting God’s truth; good by sharing in and manifesting God’s goodness; and so forth. This means … that every created thing can be a theophany—a revelation of God.

What does this say about nature? About any creature? It says that nothing is simply an object to be used, an inert, meaningless thing. Everything, every creature—from spotted owls to veins of coal in a mountain—shares in the energies of God. It says that somehow God is present and can be discerned there, if we can see, not only with our eyes but also with our hearts…. We must also remember that Christianity is not Jainism—we are not called to gently sweep insects from our paths for fear of inadvertently stepping on one. Rather we are called to stewardship, an active role in which we must do more than preserve what God has given to us but responsibly and prayerfully use it in pursuit of our responsibilities to God and our brothers and sisters.

Sometimes a good steward husbands a resource. Sometimes, however, a good steward makes use of a resource in pursuit of the steward’s calling. Orthodox environmentalism cannot thus be a static vision of nature as something to be preserved unaltered. A steward’s task is much harder than either digging up every last lump of coal or refraining from touching any of it. In entrusting us with responsibility for the natural world, God gave us opportunities to exercise judgment, not a simplistic recipe. While life would surely be simpler if he asked less of us, it would leave us as less than he intended us to be. (30–31)

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Vatican Social Communications Leader Encourages Catholics to Embrace Digital Media

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Source: The Catholic Voices Blog.

… the way we give the Internet a soul isn’t simply Christian presence there, but it’s by making sure that there is a “true, integral, humanity expressed on the Internet. That there is space for spirituality, for questioning, for doubt, for learning. By our receptivity to those, we create a space for the Internet to have a soul, but we’re not the soul. Every human being has deeper questions and we need to create the forum, a framework, and a lack of fear that will allow people to do that meaningfully.”

Monsignor Paul Tighe, the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, was the keynote speaker at the Catholic New Media Conference in Boston on October 19, 2013.

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What’s Caught My Eye…

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From Acton PowerBlog post: ” Why Christians Should Oppose the Debt Ceiling Charade”:

Member of Congress who are refusing to raise the debt ceiling (or raise taxes) until their ancillary demands are met are acting immorally, since they are refusing to pay the debts they themselves authorized. Hopefully, they are only bluffing and have no real intention of throwing the country into a financial crisis. But even if they are lying about their true intentions, they are threatening to act immorally if they don’t get their way. As Christians we should find such behavior unacceptable. The fact that they are representing us makes such an action intolerable.

Many of us Christians in America have become jaded and cynical, willing to accept, or at least overlook, dishonest charades that are carried out in our name. Isn’t it time we stop tolerating such nonsense? If we as citizens are to pay taxes to whom taxes are owed, and revenue to whom revenue is owed, shouldn’t the authorities set up as “ministers of God” be expected to do the same?

There are few policy issues on which both the Biblical principle is clear and the issue transcends the political categorization. We shouldn’t waste this opportunity for Christians on the left, right, and center to come together to tell Congress to stop this political theater.

Read the whole thing here:  http://feedly.com/k/16dSv9H.

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A Life Both Unique & Common

For three days last week I participated with clergy and lay leaders in a series of seminars focusing on the meaning of “social justice.” The conference, “Evaluating the Idea of Social Justice” was jointly sponsored by the Acton Institute and Liberty Fund, Inc. brought together Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Reformed Christians and  Evangelicals. We read a wide range of Catholic and secular authors to help us come a critical but appreciative understanding of the various ways in which the term social justice has been used and occasionally abused. While I post about the specific sessions later, I wanted in this first post sketch out what seems to me to be a fundamental, and irresolvable, anthropological tension: the rhythm in human life between uniqueness and commonality.

Historically the term “person” is a theological term deeply rooted in the Christological and Trinitarian debates of the first Christian centuries. The Christological dimension of the debate reflects the Church struggle to understand and articulate their experience of Jesus as God incarnate. How is it possible for the Man Jesus to be a human being, who born of a woman and who lived, worked, suffered and died as all of us do and at the same time be God? This raises then a second question about the nature of God. If as Jewish experience tells us God is One, how can Jesus also be God? There are a number of scholarly and popular works that can be read to learn more about the particulars of these debates (see here and here). For now though my concern is with the distinction between “person” and “nature” or what is unique in our experience and what is shared or common.
Continue reading

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What’s Caught My Eye…

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American capitalism is derided for its superficial banality, yet it has unleashed profound, convulsive social change.  Condemned as mindless materialism, it has burst loose a flood tide of spiritual yearning.  The civil rights movement and the sexual revolution, environmentalism and feminism, the fitness and health-care boom and the opening of the gay closet, the withering of censorship and the rise of a “creative class” of “knowledge workers” – all are the progeny of widespread prosperity.

Brink Lindsey (2007), The Age of Abundance, p. 3

 

h/t Cafe Hayek.

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