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Religion & Liberty Article Listing

Healing Lives, One Person at a Time

Her name was Anna. Her mother was an alcoholic, and she and her live-in boyfriend were unemployed. Looking for an apartment and a job was overwhelming, because she had never done so before. She had no savings, no furniture, and few clothes. Anna was estranged from her older daughter and her husband. She was cynical and believed in nothing because she had seen little in life to trust. Truth was a matter of expediency to her—she did and said what she needed to, in order to get along, get a check, and keep her subsidized apartment. No, Anna is not an American welfare mother. She came from East Berlin just as the Berlin Wall fell, but she suffers from the same malady as her counterparts in the inner cities of Washington, D.C., New York, and Los Angeles today. The victims of socialism have the same sickness as the victims of the welfare...

The New Challenge of Reform

The news from the front is encouraging. “Welfare reform working,” shouts one USA Today headline. “Welfare rolls falling,” another paper declares. The bold new course of reform charted by the 1996 welfare reform act appears to be on a path to success. In Arizona, there is a surge of married men looking for, and finding, jobs. In Florida, welfare rolls have fallen seventeen percent in just seven months. Nationwide, states are reveling in the additional 1.5 billion dollars in welfare money they have this year. Set against the declining rolls, states are having to work to figure out how to spend all the extra money they have, and all of this has occurred before the welfare laws are officially enacted. There is a temptation to look at facts and figures like these and say contentedly that our work is done. In...

The Only Hope for Civic Renewal

In the last few years, there has been a revival in interest in the role that private charity can play in the revitalization of civil society. This renewed interest is partly driven by an overwhelming sense that most of us have, regardless of political and ideological interests, that the modern welfare state has produced less-than-impressive results. I would take this analysis much further: The welfare state has been a complete disaster, in some instances creating, and in others enhancing, a myriad of problems—family disintegration, the loss of respect for the elderly, the moral nihilism of the youth, the loss of a clear sense of right and wrong, and the collapse of community at all levels in society.

But if we are really entering the post-statist age in which the welfare state is going to continue...

The Cross and the Rain Forest

The most fruitful and majestic tree in the history of the world was the one on which hung its Savior, Jesus Christ. Today there is a growing trend among some environmentalists to look past the incarnate expression of God's love and see only a violated and barren tree. This trend toward reinterpreting symbols and the created order is an outgrowth of a larger crisis in the belief that God is both Creator and Father.

Uncertainty about God also calls into question the human person. Consequently, those whose divine mission is to exercise dominion over the created order become interlopers, strangers, and, as several authors have called humans, “diseases” upon the earth. The next step toward deifying the earth is a short one, and rather than man judging how the goods of the earth might best give glory to God,...

Earthkeeping through Markets

In 1977-78, a group of scholars gathered at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to produce an interdisciplinary book on environmentalism from a Christian perspective. Earthkeeping in the Nineties was a serious attempt at integrating Christian faith and the insights from several disciplines. That volume was revised substantially and reissued in 1991. The revised edition builds on the scholarship of the first and represents an important contribution to the ongoing discussion of environmental issues. The book is particularly strong in articulating a well-reasoned Christian perspective that is nicely placed in a historical context. How we see and interact with God's creation is very much influenced by our worldview, and Earthkeeping traces numerous influences on that view. It is well-written, engaging, and nicely...

Free Markets Best Protect the Environment

R&L: Now that communism has been defeated and discredited, many see radical environmentalism as the next great threat to freedom. Do you agree with this analysis?

Hodel: Yes, and I define radical environmentalism as a mechanism for permitting the collectivist mentality to feed its impulse to control society. In other words, there are very valid environmental concerns we all care about; I've never run into anybody who isn't an environmentalist. No one wants dirty air and water or wants to pass on that condition to his or her grandchildren. But radical environmentalism seeks to alter the form of government and in the name of the environment imposes on individuals the kinds of controls we fought against in the name of economics, such as the collectivism of communism....

Have Dominion Over All These

I recently visited a friend of mine in Tuscany, an American artist named Shelly Goldstein. Shelly paints impressionist landscapes of the Tuscan countryside, with plenty of poppies, olive groves, herds of oxen, orchards, and usually the remains of an ancient torre, or an isolated chapel already centuries old when Columbus was a boy in Genoa, or off in the distance a typical little Tuscan town perched on a hilltop. Shelly paints in other parts of the world as well--Africa, Hawaii, New England, and the American Midwest--but I have never found his portrayal of those parts of the world as appealing as his depiction of the Tuscan countryside. During a recent visit, Shelly explained to me what he thinks I must find appealing in his Italian work; he said that what I see in his Tuscan landscapes is the hand of man who has worked upon the divine...

Shining a Light in a Dark Place

To anyone familiar with its vast and growing literature, the environmental movement seems dominated by darkness. Consider the messages of just a few of its more vocal segments:

• The biological egalitarianism of the “Deep Ecologists,” whose founder, Norwegian ecosopher (philosopher of ecology) Arne Naess declares, “the equal right to live and blossom is an intuitively clear and obvious value axiom. Its restriction to humans is an anthropocentrism with detrimental effects upon the life quality of humans themselves.”

• The mystical, gnostic, and New Age thinking of the Gaia Hypothesis, popularized by James Lovelock in The Ages of Gaia: A Biography of Our Living Earth, which some environmentalists have incorporated into a modern pantheism.

• The unremitting...

Our Stewardship Mandate

The Genesis account of creation is clear on a central point that many secular environmentalists find scandalous: The earth is entrusted to the human family for our use. After God created man and woman in his image, he blessed them with the words: “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the seas, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on this earth.” This is the first charge, long before the Fall, given to human beings directly by God. And in the second chapter of Genesis, after God had created the earth for man's sake, he created man to till the soil. It was an explicit command to mix labor with God's creation to make more of that which appears in a pure state of nature. God's covenant with Adam required him to exercise dominion over the earth, to be a steward of creation...

Edmund Burke

Nacido, crecido y educado en Irlanda, Edmund Burke fue uno de los estadistas y filósofos políticos ingleses más famoso del siglo XVIII. Después de haberse ganado los primeros reconocimientos gracias a sus habilidades literarias, Burke formó parte del Parlamento en 1766, donde permaneció por las siguientes dos décadas.

A menudo se le recuerda por su vehemente oposición a la Revolución Francesa, expresada ​​en sus Reflexiones sobre la Revolución en Francia. Él de hecho observaba en la Revolución Francesa un peligro mortal: un Estado ferviente pero mal gobernado es capaz de destruir todos...

Edmund Burke

Nato e cresciuto in Irlanda dove si dedicò alla propria istruzione, Edmund Burke è uno degli statisti nonché filosofi politici inglesi più famosi del XVIII sec. Dopo essersi guadagnato i primi riconoscimenti grazie alle proprie capacità letterarie, Burke entrò a far parte del Parlamento nel 1766 dove vi rimase per i due decenni a venire.

Viene spesso ricordato per la propria violenta opposizione alla Rivoluzione Francese, espressa nel suo Reflections on the Revolution in France. Egli vedeva infatti nella Rivoluzione Francese un pericolo mortale: in quanto uno Stato zelante ma mal governato è in grado...

Edmund Burke

Born, raised, and educated in Ireland, Edmund Burke was one of the most well-known British statesmen and political philosophers of the eighteenth century. After gaining early recognition for his literary skills, Burke entered Parliament in 1766 and remained there for the next two decades.

Burke is often remembered for his vehement opposition to the French Revolution, presented in his Reflections on the Revolution in France. He saw in the French Revolution a fatal danger: A zealous but misguided state can destroy the delicate attachments on which a free society is built.

Because of his defense of tradition, Burke is sometimes thought of as a...

His Holiness: John Paul II and the Hidden History of Our Time

Who killed communism? Western analysis (and not a few communists) first pointed the finger at the economic incapacities of Marxist-Leninist states. In a world defined by silicon chips and fiber-optic cables, communism–it was argued–just couldn’t compete. This gimlet-eyed focus on the economic causes of the collapse always seemed, though, an oddly Marxist “answer” to the puzzle. Happily, more thoughtful analyses based on a better understanding of the cast of characters in the gripping drama of the Marxist crack-up are now available.

That Pope John Paul II played an indispensable role in that demise is now widely conceded by numerous historians of (and actors in) the Cold War end-game–not least among them Mikhail Gorbachev. But the terms in which the pope’s role should be...

The Vocation of Enterprise

As its title implies, Michael Novak’s Business as a Calling brings a somewhat missionary zeal to the defense of commerce and capitalism, subjects that have been mainly exposed in the recent past to the zealotry of frenzied opponents. Mr. Novak’s effervescence and originality as an advocate and his rigor as a scholar make for a provocative and interesting read. He traces the rise of capitalism, the docile acceptance by its practitioners that they were concerned with means and not ends, the identification of commerce with Darwinian and Spencerian unsentimentally, the rise of religious opponents like Paul Tillich and socialist opponents like R. H. Tawney, and the recent great public relations crisis of business.

A Morally Serious Enterprise

His counter-attack starts early...

Changed Hearts, Not Politics, Prompt Social Renewal

R&L: In some Christian circles, social action has taken precedence over evangelism. I am here thinking of the way that the pursuit of social justice has taken the place of the proclamation of the Gospel. What are your thoughts on this trend?

Palau: My view is this: Evangelism, proclamation of the Gospel, is social action. It is social action because it changes the core of the problem, which is, the individual out of control from God. Conversion brings the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, and His life into the picture and changes people who, in turn, become salt and light by living their lives without necessarily acting politically or in terms of “social action.” So I put Gospel proclamation first, because you have nothing to work with unless you have people who have been...