Tag archives: Religion

Book Review: The New Holy Wars: Economic Religion vs. Environmental Religion in Contemporary America

by Eliza Thurston

January 31, 2011

Economists of the twentieth century looked upon the depravity surrounding them and pinpointed the source of this sin: material shortages. By promoting the development of financially profitable natural resources, progressive economists believed this sin could be erased. A century later, however, this economic religion is suffering and as Robert Nelsons The New Holy Wars: Economic Religion vs. Environmental Religion argues, it may well be on its way out. As environmentalist values continue to permeate public policy, economic arguments are forced to reckon with a whole new ethical framework. Nelsons new book offers a fascinating interpretation of this dilemma. By examining the fundamental tenets of both economics and environmentalism The New Holy Wars provides a fresh perspective on one of the most debated issues of our time.

The New Holy Wars proposes that at their cores, both environmentalism and Western economic theory are informed by Judeo-Christian beliefs. However, the theological underpinnings of these disciplines have been remapped to form secular versions of Christianity. Taking this a step further, Nelson argues that the clash of these two competing secular religions represents the most important religious controversy in America today. It is a startling proposition for which Nelson presents a convincing case. By framing the environmental debate in spiritual terms he makes sense of the intensity with which both sides promote their worldviews. At the same time The New Holy Wars digs beyond the rhetoric to unearth those presuppositions which are essential to understanding both sides of the debate.

Perhaps most intriguing is Nelsons treatment of environmentalism. Nelson argues what few practitioners are willing to admitthe environmentalist worldview is very much a religious one. With clarity and perception he explores the Protestant (specifically Calvinist) underpinnings of the movement. Pointing back to the writings of John Calvin, Martin Luther, and Jonathan Edwards, The New Holy Wars shows how key components of Calvinism have been transformed under the guise of environmentalism. Nelson illustrates how the movements jargon speaks volumes about its philosophical commitments. Steeped in the language of moral urgency, human depravity, individualism, and asceticism that marked much of the early reformed tradition, environmentalism is not unlike its more traditional religious counterparts. But Nelson is careful not to take the association too far. When Jonathan Edwards looked upon the Book of Nature he was awed by Gods glorious and omnipotent hand in creation. In marked contrasted, John Muir responded to the same beauty with transcendentalist adoration that bordered on pantheism. For Muir and the descendents of his preservationist movement, Nature became the ultimate recipient of their worship. And herein lies what Nelson recognizes to be a serious flaw in environmental theology: its failure to offer an adequate substitute for the loving and redeeming Christian God who had been lost.

While The New Holy Wars does not offer a solution to the economic-environmental debate, it does provide significant insight into the issue. Nelsons stimulating case for the role religion plays in the economic and environmental philosophies dominating current public policy is bound to challenge his readers. Those seeking to equip themselves for todays challenges should pay heed to Robert Nelsons work.

New Survey Shows Interesting Trends in Online Activities

by Krystle Gabele

December 21, 2010

A recent Pew Internet Project Survey focused on the online activities which each generation participates in and the changes that have occurred over time. This survey is particularly interesting, especially in the areas of using the internet to obtain religious information and donating to charity.

According to the survey, the G.I. Generation, those ages 74 and older are more than 50% likely to go online to look up religious information among other things, like email or social networking. Compared to the G.I. Generation, the other groups surveyed were less than 50% likely to go online for the same information. This demographic did not change over time either.

On the other hand, donations to charity remain at less than 50% likelihood across the generations. The statistics on giving were constant without any noticeable increases, and this can be attributed to the current economic climate.

Overall, the results from this survey are not surprising, since there is a generational shift towards social networking.

ACLU invades Montgomery County

by Robert Morrison

February 25, 2010

The ACLU is at it again. This time, they are demanding an apology from a Montgomery County, Maryland, public school teacher. Behind this demand is, as always with this federally-funded outfit, the bludgeon-like threat of a huge lawsuit.

What was the teachers offense? Apparently, the teacher threatened a student with detention if she refusedas she repeatedly didto stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. The teacher sent the student to the counselors office for her refusal to stand.

The ACLU immediately invoked the Supreme Courts ruling in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943). That case is often cited as a hallmark of American civil liberties, especially remarkable because it was handed down while the United States was engaged in a world war to defend democracy.

But the Court in 1943 said that students cannot be required to salute the flag or recite the Pledge. That was quite right.

If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.

The Court did not say that students could not be required to stand quietly while other students recited the Pledge of Allegiance. If we stop for a moment, we can all readily agree that it would be wrong to require, for instance, the children of legal resident aliens to pledge their allegiance to our flag. In the famed 1943 case, the parents of the children who declined to take part in the flag salute and pledge were Jehovahs Witnesses. These people had a religious conviction that led them to regard pledging allegiance to the flag as a violation of the Commandment against making graven images. We should not force these students to violate their consciences.

We are constantly told by liberals that the purpose of education is to prepare young people to take part in todays complex and multi-cultural society. Does it? Surely, anyone attending a baseball game at Baltimores Camden Yards between a Canadian team and the home team is familiar with the two national anthems that are played. O Canada and The Star-Spangled Banner are both sung. What are Americans expected to do during the playing of the Canadian national anthem? Just stand silently and to show respect. Its the civil and neighborly thing to do.

Theres rich historical irony in this, too. For the words of United States national anthem were composed at nearby Ft. McHenry during the War of 1812. Those rockets red glare and bombs bursting in air were weapons of our British enemies. And the Canadians national anthem contains this line: O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

Against whom exactly were the Canadians standing guard? Hint: It wasnt moose or polar bears. It was us. The Americans repeatedly had failed repeatedly to invade and conquer Canada when it was a British colony. But now, Americans and Canadians are the best of friends. We stand politely for each others national anthems, which may be the only two such anthems in the world that are actually written against each other.

Is the Montgomery County school case too trivial to merit national attention? No. It illustrates how classroom discipline and American patriotism are under constant assault by the ACLU. Our tax dollars are funding this radical outfit. Thomas Jefferson said to require a man to provide contributions of money for the propagation of opinions he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical. Surely, the fact that the ACLU uses our tax money against us is a gross violation of our rights.

Does it matter? John Walker Lindh is currently sitting in federal prison. He is the so-called American Taliban who was convicted of fighting against Americans in Afghanistan. Young Lindh was educated in Montgomery County Public Schools. Was he taught anything about why he should be loyal to his country? Why jihadism is a threat to all our rights? I seriously doubt it. By punishing a teacher who simply tried to give students the opportunity to express their patriotism and support for our country during a time of war, the Montgomery County public schools are doing nothing to avoid future American Talibans.

In the Know…

by Krystle Gabele

October 7, 2009

Here’s some articles of interest for today.

How Long Has Marriage Been the Union of a Man and a Woman? Scientists Say4.4 Million Years

by Peter Sprigg

October 7, 2009

Some people believe that religious dogma is the only reason why anyone opposes same-sex marriage. Those who believe the human race began with Adam and Eve, and that their relationship was Gods model for marriage, believe marriage should be between a man and a woman. But those who dont believe in the Bible, who think Adam and Eve are a myth, and who dont accept a Christian view of the human person, have no reason to believe marriage is an opposite-sex union. Right?

Wrong. They should take a look at a front-page article in the Washington Post about the newest claim by evolutionary scientists. The scientists believe that a primate skeleton found in Ethiopia is that of a human ancestorone that lived 4.4 million years ago. Almost at the end of this long piece, the article describes what C. Owen Lovejoy, an anthropologist at Kent State University, says about the social organization of this species:

The males, he argues, pair-bonded with females. Lovejoy sees male parental investment in the survival of offspring as a hallmark of the human lineage.

So, how long has marriage (i.e., pair-bonding) been a male-female union? About four million, four hundred thousand years, if this secular scientist is to be believed. And what was its purpose? To insure male parental investment in the survival of offspringsomething which the advocates of same-sex marriage contend is now no longer necessary.

And what will we be discarding, if we change the definition of marriage from being a union of a man and a woman? Only a hallmark of the human lineage.

Marriage is not merely a religious institution, nor merely a civil institution. It is, rather, a natural institution, whose definition as the union of male and female is rooted in the order of nature itself. And it doesnt take a Bible to prove it. In this case, evolutionary theory points to the exact same conclusion.

Washington Post:

Ardi’ May Rewrite the Story of Humans: 4.4 Million-Year-Old Primate Helps Bridge Evolutionary Gap (see third-to-last paragraph)

What Would LUTHER Do?

by Jeremiah G. Dys

October 1, 2009

Still stinging from a strong debate among ELCA pastors this summer, The Rev. Dr. Ralph W. Dunkin pushes to move his synod beyond the controversial topic and offer some reasons of support for the work of the ELCA. He begins:

The major news coming from the 2009 Evangelical Lutheran Church in Americas biennial Churchwide Assembly has been the change in policy related to persons in gay and lesbian relationships. The policy change allows congregations to determine for themselves if they wish to offer blessings of same-gender relationships and if they are open to calling a pastor who is in a same-gender relationship.

But, he then moves quickly past the issue, noting the ELCAs broad partnership of full communion with, the Reformed Church, The UCC, the Presbyterian Church USA, the Moravians, The Episcopal Church and now the United Methodist Church. Interestingly, each of these denominations have taken similar measures as the ELCA did this summer.

The point, the Rev. Dr. Dunkin is trying to make is that, regardless of the controversy, the ELCA is still doing some incredible things and, implicitly, the vote to ordain practicing homosexuals not only doesnt affect their overall ministry, but actually may improve their ability to link with others in an effort to do good deeds to this world.

Yet, the Rev. Dr. Dunkin fails to address a fundamental point vis-a-vis the recent ELCA vote: What would LUTHER do?

Continue Reading at The Family Council of West Virginia’s Engage Blog

In the Know…

by Krystle Gabele

October 1, 2009

Here’s some articles of interest this morning.

In the Know…

by Krystle Gabele

September 30, 2009

Here’s some articles of interest.

In the Know…

by Krystle Gabele

September 28, 2009

Here are some articles of interest.

In the Know…

by Krystle Gabele

September 4, 2009

Here’s some news articles of interest to help kick off Labor Day weekend.

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