According to a study published in the International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, atheists show scientifically measurable responses indicating probable belief in God.
When Finnish investigators measured emotional response with skin conductance measurements, atheists showed the same conflicted response as religious people did, when asked to dare God to do terrible things.
Despite atheists’ verbal claims that they did not find God statements such as “I dare God to make my parents drown” unpleasant, measurement of their emotional arousal while making those statements were identical to those of religious people, who verbally acknowledged such statements to be highly disturbing.
Previously, it was reported that Richard Dawkins, a globally prominent atheist leader, acknowledges his own uncertainty on the existence of God; Dawkins assigns a probability of 15% to the existence of God. See World’s Most Famous Atheist Not Sure Whether God Exists.
An interfaith service was held at Boston’s Catholic Holy Cross Cathedral on April 18, 2013, dedicated to those affected by the terror attack at the Boston Marathon. President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama attended, and President Obama spoke at the gathering.
The pros and cons of giving President Obama the pulpit in an American Catholic Cathedral can and will be argued, particularly by Catholics.
The use of a Catholic Church for public prayer at a time when Boston turns to God is a very powerful and appropriate symbol of the universality of the Catholic Church, and of its predominance in America and in the world. The Catholic Church is the largest religious denomination in Boston, in Massachusetts, in the United States, and until, recently, in the world.
However, giving America’s most radically pro-abortion President who supports the redefinition of marriage and of family, and who has spearheaded the violation of the religious freedom of Catholics in the United States, giving this President the pulpit in a Catholic Cathedral from which he can spread his dubious theology is also a contestable choice.
On President Obama’s violation of the religious freedom of Catholics:
Not surprisingly, prior to the interfaith service, the wisdom of letting President Obama take the pulpit at Holy Cross Cathedral was questioned by many.
Catholics asked themselves whether the Catholic Church’s customary role as mankind’s intermediary with God would be exercised through this arrangement, or whether the Catholic Church and her teachings would be debased by the presence of Barack Obama in the pulpit. The same Barack Obama, who 6 days later became the first US President to speak at Planned Parenthood, where he ended his speech by invoking God’s blessings on Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood performs 1/3 million abortions per year, and receives over half a billion federal dollars annually towards that effort. Six out of ten Americans oppose federal funding of abortion (3 of 10 approve). Abortion is a much bigger deal than most think.
The key to what would happen at the interfaith prayer service, whether it would facilitate a beautiful ecumenical lifting of souls to God, or whether it would resemble more a cheap political stunt debasing the Catholic Church, would lie in what each of the two men, Cardinal O’Malley and President Obama, said while standing in the pulpit.
As it turns out, neither man went to any heroic or shocking extremes, and it is not clear to this Catholic whether the use of Boston’s Holy Cross Cathedral for this purpose was appropriate.
Other faiths, in including Islam, were also represented at the prayer service. Mercifully, the choice of Islam representative was corrected in the nick of time, before an Imam from a Muslim Brotherhood-linked Mosque ended up in the pulpit of Holy Cross Cathedral.
For text of Cardinal O’Malley’s homily, scroll down below.
In his homily, Cardinal O’Malley did somewhat courageously mentioned the culture of death, abortion, the devaluation of human life, and the need for steering clear of revenge. These subjects reflect Catholic Church teaching, and are relevant and appropriate to the Boston Marathon tragedy. Cardinal O’Malley’s role as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities made him an ideal spokesman on these issues.
Other comments made by the Cardinal must have reflected his more personal views. Cardial O’Malley voiced his disappointment over insufficient gun control, and made almost friendly, or at least neutral references to the Communist Party and to “community building,” a phrase that has taken on somewhat progressive political connotations in recent years. The Catholic Church takes no position on gun control or on “community building,” but it does tread cautiously where Communism is concerned:
Paragraph 2425: The Church has rejected the totalitarian and atheistic ideologies associated in modern times with “communism” or “socialism.” She has likewise refused to accept, in the practice of “capitalism,” individualism and the absolute primacy of the law of the marketplace over human labor.207 Regulating the economy solely by centralized planning perverts the basis of social bonds; regulating it solely by the law of the marketplace fails social justice, for “there are many human needs which cannot be satisfied by the market.”208 Reasonable regulation of the marketplace and economic initiatives, in keeping with a just hierarchy of values and a view to the common good, is to be commended.
The text of President Obama’s address is also provided below; scroll down.
Mercifully, President Obama refrained from commenting on hot-button issues, and did nothing shocking like asking God to bless the dismemberment of unborn and accidentally born infants at Planned Parenthood. He did not push his views directly, as he had done at the recent dedication of the George W. Bush Library, where he had promoted his immigration views.
|.The most controversial aspect of President Obama’s speech was his omissions. The President avoided any mention of jihad or terrorism, and limited his reference to the bombers to calling them “perpetrators of such senseless violence — these small, stunted individuals.”|
The President’s speech also reflected the his global world view, including a somewhat personal perspective.
President Obama’s assured Boston that those who carried out the Boston Marathon bombing would face justice. He said that Americans always “come together to celebrate life,” and referred to the source of American strength. According to the President, our American strength comes from our faith in each other. President Obama said that Boston is “the perfect state of grace,” and that the political and religious leaders of Boston, as well as the people of Boston, are the source of grace.
The President’s focus on people (instead of God) as the source of faith, of grace and of justice, was disconcerting. Religious Americans usually consider God to be the source of faith, grace and justice. Non-religious Americans generally avoid discussing faith and grace altogether, and struggle to agree on what constitutes justice.
So the President’s use of terms like the “state of grace” in a secular context made his intent somewhat obscure.
The President did reference God several times, as the source of our power, love, and self-discipline, as one Who holds close those who died, Who comforts their families, and Who will continue to watch over the United States.
The President seemed to have no understanding of the irony of his comments regarding “celebrating life,” or “visiting death upon innocents” in Boston. As President, he must know that half of his nation opposes abortion and two thirds of us oppose its federal funding. So to speak of “celebrating life” and “death of innocents” in the aftermath of the Boston tragedy, while failing to show any compassion for the 1 million annual innocent lives lost to abortion, and failing to comment on the horror stories of the Gosnell abortion clinic trial and scandal, was bound to antagonize much of the President’s audience.
Jesus said “they will strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter”; that is what happened to His disciples after the Crucifixion, as they scattered in fear, doubt and panic.
This week we are all scattered by the pain and horror of the senseless violence perpetrated on Patriots Day. Last Sunday at the 11:30 Mass here at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Fr. O’Leary led a special blessing for the many runners who participated in the Mass. Some people here were among those injured and those who witnessed the terrible events that unfolded at the finish line of the Marathon, but everyone was profoundly affected by the wanton violence and destruction inflicted upon our community by two young men unknown to all of us.
It is very difficult to understand what was going on in the young men’s minds, what demons were operative, what ideologies or politics or the perversion of their religion. It was amazing to witness, however, how much goodness and generosity were evidenced in our community as a result of the tragic events they perpetrated.
It reminds me of a passage in Dorothy Day’s autobiography where she speaks about experiencing a serious earthquake in California when she was a young girl. Suddenly neighbors that never spoke were helping each other, sharing their food and water, caring for children and the elderly. She was amazed and delighted, but a few weeks later people retreated to their former individualism and indifference.
Dorothy Day spent the rest of her life looking to recapture the spirit of community. That led her to the Communist Party and eventually it led her into the Catholic Church and to found the Catholic Worker Movement, dedicating herself to the care of the homeless, the drug addict
This past week we have experienced a surge in civic awareness and sense of community. It has been inspiring to see the generous and at times heroic responses to the Patriots Day violence. Our challenge is to keep this spirit of community alive going forward. As people of faith, we must commit ourselves to the task of community building.
Jesus teaches us in the Gospel that we must care for each other, especially the most vulnerable; the hungry, the sick, the homeless, the foreigner; all have a special claim on our love. We must be a people of reconciliation, not revenge. The crimes of the two young men must not be the justification for prejudice against Muslims and against immigrants.
The Gospel is the antidote to the “eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth” mentality. The parable of the Good Samaritan is the story about helping one’s neighbor when that neighbor was from an enemy tribe, a foreign religion, a hostile group. The Samaritan cuts through centuries of antipathy by seeing in the Jewish man who had been beaten and left for dead not a stranger or an enemy, but a fellow human being who has a claim of his humanity and compassion.
We know so little about the two young men who perpetrated these heinous acts of violence. One said he had no friends in this country, the other said his chief interests were money and his career. People need to be part of a community to lead a fully human life. As believers one of our tasks is to build community, to value people more than money or things, to recognize in each person a child of God, made in the image and likeness of our Creator.
The individualism and alienation of our age has spawned a culture of death. Over a million abortions a year is one indication of how human life has been devalued. Violent entertainment, films and video games have coarsened us and made us more insensitive to the pain and suffering of others. The inability of the Congress to enact laws that control access to automatic weapons is emblematic of the pathology of our violent culture.
When Pope John Paul II visited Madrid in 2003, addressing one million young people, he told them; “Respond to the blind violence and inhuman hatred with the fascinating power of love.” We all know that evil has its fascination and attraction but too often we lose sight of the fact that love and goodness also have the power to attract and that virtue is winsome. Passing on the faith means helping people to lead a good life, a moral life, a just life. Thus part of our task as believers is to help our people become virtuous.
Plato thought that virtue was knowledge. As Chain Ginott, the concentration camp survivor, reminds us, doctors, nurses, scientists and soldiers were part of the Holocaust machinery, showing that knowledge is not virtue, and often science and technology have been put at the service of evil. It is only a culture of life and an ethic of love that can rescue us from the senseless violence that inflicts so much suffering on our society.
Like Christ our Good Shepherd, we who aspire to be Jesus’ disciples and to follow His way of life, we too must work to gather the scattered, to draw people into Christ’s community. It is in His Gospel that we find the answers to the questions of life and the challenging ideals that are part of discipleship; mercy, forgiveness, self sacrifice, service, justice and truth.
John Lennon once said, ‘Everything will be OK in the end. If it’s not OK, it’s not the end.’ Our faith goes beyond that optimism. Love is stronger than death. We are going to live forever in the Resurrection Christ won for us on the Cross. The innocent victims who perished this week; Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell, Lu Lingzi, Officer Sean Collier, will live in eternity. Life is not ended, merely changed – that is the message of Easter. As Martin Luther King expressed, ‘Death is a comma, not a period at the end of a sentence.’
Although the culture of death looms large, our Good Shepherd rose from the grave on Easter and His light can expel the darkness and illuminate for us a path that leads to life, to a civilization of solidarity and love. I hope that the events of this past week have taught us how high the stakes are. We must build a civilization of love, or there will be no civilization at all.
Scripture tells us to “run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Run with endurance the race that is set before us.
On Monday morning, the sun rose over Boston. The sunlight glistened off the Statehouse dome. In the Common and the Public Garden, spring was in bloom. On this Patriot’s Day, like so many before, fans jumped onto the T to see the Sox at Fenway. In Hopkinton, runners laced up their shoes and set out on a 26.2-mile test of dedication and grit and the human spirit. And across this city, hundreds of thousands of Bostonians lined the streets — to hand the runners cups of water and to cheer them on.
It was a beautiful day to be in Boston — a day that explains why a poet once wrote that this town is not just a capital, not just a place. Boston, he said, “is the perfect state of grace.”
And then, in an instant, the day’s beauty was shattered. A celebration became a tragedy. And so we come together to pray, and mourn, and measure our loss. But we also come together today to reclaim that state of grace — to reaffirm that the spirit of this city is undaunted, and the spirit of this country shall remain undimmed.
To Governor Patrick; Mayor Menino; Cardinal O’Malley and all the faith leaders who are here; Governors Romney, Swift, Weld and Dukakis; members of Congress; and most of all, the people of Boston and the families who’ve lost a piece of your heart. We thank you for your leadership. We thank you for your courage. We thank you for your grace.
I’m here today on behalf of the American people with a simple message: Every one of us has been touched by this attack on your beloved city. Every one of us stands with you.
Because, after all, it’s our beloved city, too. Boston may be your hometown, but we claim it, too. It’s one of America’s iconic cities. It’s one of the world’s great cities. And one of the reasons the world knows Boston so well is that Boston opens its heart to the world.
Over successive generations, you’ve welcomed again and again new arrivals to our shores — immigrants who constantly reinvigorated this city and this commonwealth and our nation. Every fall, you welcome students from all across America and all across the globe, and every spring you graduate them back into the world — a Boston diaspora that excels in every field of human endeavor. Year after year, you welcome the greatest talents in the arts and science, research — you welcome them to your concert halls and your hospitals and your laboratories to exchange ideas and insights that draw this world together.
And every third Monday in April, you welcome people from all around the world to the Hub for friendship and fellowship and healthy competition — a gathering of men and women of every race and every religion, every shape and every size; a multitude represented by all those flags that flew over the finish line.
So whether folks come here to Boston for just a day, or they stay here for years, they leave with a piece of this town tucked firmly into their hearts. So Boston is your hometown, but we claim it a little bit, too
I know this because there’s a piece of Boston in me. You welcomed me as a young law student across the river; welcomed Michelle, too. You welcomed me during a convention when I was still a state senator and very few people could pronounce my name right.
Like you, Michelle and I have walked these streets. Like you, we know these neighborhoods. And like you, in this moment of grief, we join you in saying — “Boston, you’re my home.” For millions of us, what happened on Monday is personal. It’s personal.
Today our prayers are with the Campbell family of Medford. They’re here today. Their daughter, Krystle, was always smiling. Those who knew her said that with her red hair and her freckles and her ever-eager willingness to speak her mind, she was beautiful, sometimes she could be a little noisy, and everybody loved her for it. She would have turned 30 next month. As her mother said through her tears, “This doesn’t make any sense.”
Our prayers are with the Lu family of China, who sent their daughter, Lingzi, to BU so that she could experience all this city has to offer. She was a 23-year-old student, far from home. And in the heartache of her family and friends on both sides of a great ocean, we’re reminded of the humanity that we all share.
Our prayers are with the Richard family of Dorchester — to Denise and their young daughter, Jane, as they fight to recover. And our hearts are broken for 8-year-old Martin — with his big smile and bright eyes. His last hours were as perfect as an 8-year-old boy could hope for — with his family, eating ice cream at a sporting event. And we’re left with two enduring images of this little boy — forever smiling for his beloved Bruins, and forever expressing a wish he made on a blue poster board: “No more hurting people. Peace.”
No more hurting people. Peace.
Our prayers are with the injured -— so many wounded, some gravely. From their beds, some are surely watching us gather here today. And if you are, know this: As you begin this long journey of recovery, your city is with you. Your commonwealth is with you. Your country is with you. We will all be with you as you learn to stand and walk and, yes, run again. Of that I have no doubt. You will run again. You will run again.
Because that’s what the people of Boston are made of. Your resolve is the greatest rebuke to whoever committed this heinous act. If they sought to intimidate us, to terrorize us, to shake us from those values that Deval described, the values that make us who we are, as Americans — well, it should be pretty clear by now that they picked the wrong city to do it. Not here in Boston. Not here in Boston.
You’ve shown us, Boston, that in the face of evil, Americans will lift up what’s good. In the face of cruelty, we will choose compassion. In the face of those who would visit death upon innocents, we will choose to save and to comfort and to heal. We’ll choose friendship. We’ll choose love.
Scripture teaches us, “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” And that’s the spirit you’ve displayed in recent days.
When doctors and nurses, police and firefighters and EMTs and Guardsmen run towards explosions to treat the wounded — that’s discipline.
When exhausted runners, including our troops and veterans — who never expected to see such carnage on the streets back home — become first responders themselves, tending to the injured — that’s real power.
When Bostonians carry victims in their arms, deliver water and blankets, line up to give blood, open their homes to total strangers, give them rides back to reunite with their families — that’s love.
That’s the message we send to those who carried this out and anyone who would do harm to our people. Yes, we will find you. And, yes, you will face justice. We will find you. We will hold you accountable. But more than that; our fidelity to our way of life — to our free and open society — will only grow stronger. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but one of power and love and self-discipline.
Like Bill Iffrig, 78 years old — the runner in the orange tank top who we all saw get knocked down by the blast — we may be momentarily knocked off our feet, but we’ll pick ourselves up. We’ll keep going. We will finish the race. In the words of Dick Hoyt, who’s pushed his disabled son, Rick, in 31 Boston Marathons — “We can’t let something like this stop us.” This doesn’t stop us.
And that’s what you’ve taught us, Boston. That’s what you’ve reminded us — to push on. To persevere. To not grow weary. To not get faint. Even when it hurts. Even when our heart aches. We summon the strength that maybe we didn’t even know we had, and we carry on. We finish the race. We finish the race.
And we do that because of who we are. And we do that because we know that somewhere around the bend a stranger has a cup of water. Around the bend, somebody is there to boost our spirits. On that toughest mile, just when we think that we’ve hit a wall, someone will be there to cheer us on and pick us up if we fall. We know that.
And that’s what the perpetrators of such senseless violence — these small, stunted individuals who would destroy instead of build, and think somehow that makes them important — that’s what they don’t understand. Our faith in each other, our love for each other, our love for country, our common creed that cuts across whatever superficial differences there may be — that is our power. That’s our strength.
That’s why a bomb can’t beat us. That’s why we don’t hunker down. That’s why we don’t cower in fear. We carry on. We race. We strive. We build, and we work, and we love — and we raise our kids to do the same. And we come together to celebrate life, and to walk our cities, and to cheer for our teams. When the Sox and Celtics and Patriots or Bruins are champions again — to the chagrin of New York and Chicago fans — the crowds will gather and watch a parade go down Boylston Street.
And this time next year, on the third Monday in April, the world will return to this great American city to run harder than ever, and to cheer even louder, for the 118th Boston Marathon. Bet on it.
Tomorrow, the sun will rise over Boston. Tomorrow, the sun will rise over this country that we love. This special place. This state of grace.
Scripture tells us to “run with endurance the race that is set before us.” As we do, may God hold close those who’ve been taken from us too soon. May He comfort their families. And may He continue to watch over these United States of America.
A more detailed description of the Holy Cross Cathedral interfaith service can be found in the National Catholic Register:
Some main points made in the article:
One of the most highly trafficked older articles on this blog, still visited by thousands of people, is an article written in April of 2010, entitled If You’re Looking for Child Abuse, the Catholic Church is the Last Place to Look.
I must admit some surprise, seeing so much traffic going to an article that is three years old.
So I re-read the article, to do a bit of updating. As a courtesy to those who read it, it should be current.
Not much updating was needed, since the main points of the article remain as true today as they were in 2010:
My update to If You’re Looking for Child Abuse, the Catholic Church is the Last Place to Look included listing some of the recent supporting material which exonerates priests and exposes the liberal media bias.
One of the biggest contributors to defusing the false narrative is David F. Pierre Jr.:
Dave Pierre is one of the country’s leading observers of the media’s coverage of the Catholic Church abuse narrative. Dave is the author of two critically acclaimed books, ‘Double Standard: Abuse Scandals and the Attack on the Catholic Church’ and ‘Catholic Priests Falsely Accused: The Facts, The Fraud, The Stories.’
Readers have cited Dave’s work as “essential reading,” “a must-read,” and “a great service to the Church.”
Dave has been interviewed on National Public Radio (NPR) as well as by other radio outlets and newspapers for his work. He has also contributed to print publications.
Dave is a graduate of Boston College and lives with his wife and family in Massachusetts.
At our house, Easter egg making continues through the Easter season, as we resurrect our rusty old skills and the eggs we make start looking better and better.
Then, we save the best eggs, dry them out, and display them as Easter decorations in subsequent years.
See Easter Monday, 2012.
This year, my mom Syte and I revived a hobby from years past: making Lithuanian Easter eggs! There are several methods and many traditional designs.
Here are a few photos of an egg I made. The egg was dyed brown by boiling it with onion skins. Carving the surface with a blade exposes the white shell, which is how I made this two-colored egg.
If you’re wondering how it stands on its own, this particular egg was dyed several years ago, and the inside has dried into a small hard ball. With a bit of effort, you can settle the ball at the bottom of the egg so it balances upright.
Christ is risen, indeed He is risen. Alleluia and Happy Easter!
Non-commercial use is welcomed with attribution (please leave the “tomreitz.com” credit intact).
BTW, Tom’s talents as a Web Developer are at least equal to his talents in Lithuanian Easter Egg making. Anybody who needs a customized website should look him up at his company, ReitzInternet.com.
One face of the egg depicts Christ, the Lamb who was slain, but has been raised. Alleluia!
.The other face features a blooming Easter lily.
Top view of the egg, which resembles a host in a monstrance.
A simple design on the bottom of the egg.
As the world scrambles to deal with North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong-Un’s threats to make pre-emptive nuclear strikes on the US mainland and its Pacific bases in Hawaii and Guam, nobody acknowledges what may have provoked Kim Jong Un’s rage and his threats.
Even Communist China is nervous and disapproves of his posturing.
According to Steve Forbes, the security umbrella provided by the US, which has prevented world wars from developing since the 1940′s, is degenerating. As respect for the U.S. decreases, the boldness of despots and terrorists increases.
What could have sparked North Korea’s Kim Jong Un’s recent rash of seemingly deranged rage and threats towards the United States? Anybody keeping an eye on the news in November 2012, however, might have a suspicion.
Less than a year after his ascent to power, the youngest head of state in the world, just 29 or 30 years old, faced global humiliation and ridicule. The young man who loves American Basketball, Michael Jordan, and collects expensive Nikes, was ridiculed over an Onion article.
The Onion, a news source specializing in parody, named Kim Jong-Un the “Sexiest Man Alive.” Clearly a joke, to those familiar with the Onion’s reputation for tongue- in-cheek humor. However, China’s biggest newspaper fell for the hoax story, taking it to be complimentary, and reprinted that article in China.
The Chinese newspaper wrote: “With his devastatingly handsome, round face, his boyish charm, and his strong, sturdy frame, this Pyongyang-bred heartthrob is every woman’s dream come true.”
So the new despotic supreme leader of North Korea was subjected to global ridicule, with hardly a news source missing the opportunity to describe the double public humiliation- the Onion’s ridicule of Kim Jon-Un’s appearance, as well as the gullibility of the Chinese press in taking the parody as a compliment.
It’s not a big surprise to see that the liberal media prioritizes liberal dissident Catholics over faithful Catholics when they cover Catholics at all, and prioritizes liberal dissident Catholic nuns over faithful Catholic nuns when they cover Catholic nuns at all.
Catholic teaching frowns on much of the modern liberal agenda as immoral, so it would be self-defeating for liberals to cover Catholic beliefs in an accurate or persuasive way.
Media prefers to highlight dissident Catholics like Biden and Pelosi, implying that these renegades are representative of real Catholics. In this way, the media seeks to legitimize the radical progressive agenda.
|There is no question that Catholic dissidents do exist, and that dissident Catholic nuns do exist.
But the exact number of dissidents, and the degree to which the media misrepresent Catholics in their attempts to justify the liberal agenda, are important subjects to address.
REMOVING GOD THE FATHER FROM
PUBLIC ART DISPLAY
The Freedom From Religion Foundation(FFRF) is one of the most active hate groups in the country.
They are supported by the media, which ironically favors Democrats, the founders of the KKK.
FFRF misrepersents the separation of Church and State, a concept not found in the Constitution, but from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson, in which his concern is for protecting religious groups from the state, not the reverse.
Quoting from Political Outcast:
The Left loves to issue reports about how conservative groups are actually hate groups and potential terrorists, often comparing them — without any intent of irony — to the KKK, that icon of hate founded by Democrats.
Meanwhile, one of the most active hate groups in this country, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, not only is allowed to continue its anti-Christian activity, it is encouraged and supported by the media and politicians…
The FFRF has harassed and intimidated Christian groups around the country and actively intimidates local governments into banning any non-atheist religious displays or activities on public lands.
It gets away with all this bullying because the FFRF has, on many court benches, duplicitous left-wing comrades who have twisted the concept of church-state separation into a weapon of church suppression by the state.
That infamous “wall of separation” is not a phrase found in the Constitution. It originates from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to a minister who was concerned about the government interfering with religious activity. Jefferson explained that this “wall” was meant to protect religious groups from the state…
Read more at Political Outcast:
Just last week, my husband and I had a chance to visit our old “stomping grounds” in Princeton, New Jersey, where he was invited to give a lecture. While there, we chanced across another incredible lecture by a Princeton alumnus, Steve Forbes, entitled Why the Tax and Monetary Sins of the West Now Threaten Civilization. Just had to share that lecture, and a bit about the incredible people behind it! (for audio and summary, scroll down below)
In the photo (left to right), I am pictured after the lecture with Steve Forbes, and with Robert P. George. These are two very remarkable men, who are making great strides toward instilling virtue in our next generation of intellectuals.
The speaker, Malcolm Stevenson “Steve” Forbes, is an ardent pro-life supporter, and knows the value of a higher moral standard in society. He also advocates common-sense fiscal policies which he distills from his study of history (both recent and not-so-recent), as well as from his family’s capacity as financial experts and journalists for over a century. Steve campaigned for Republican nomination to the presidency twice, in 1996 and in 2000. His views, more liberal in the first election, shifted toward conservatism, and in 2000 he opposed abortion and supported prayer in public schools.
While on the Board of Trustees of Princeton University, Steve’s alma mater (’70), Steve Forbes issued a statement in 1999, withdrawing his donations from Princeton University due to its hiring of philospher Peter Singer, who advocates infanticide and views personhood as being limited to ‘sentient’ beings. Singer, despite his exclusion of some disabled people and of infants from personhood, was appointed by Princeton University to a place of honor in an endowed chair of bioethics. Steve Forbes sent a letter withdrawing financial backing from Princeton, stating that “Peter Singer is part of what the Pope rightly calls the “culture of death.”
Shortly after Singer’s appointment, Steve Forbes left the Princeton Board of Trustees, after 10 years of service. In 2000, he co-founded the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton, which today offers students high caliber lectures almost weekly, in association with Princeton’s Department of Politics.
|Steve was introduced by Robert P. George, the Director of the Princeton University James Madison Program. (More information on the James Madison Program after the lecture summary and audio.) Professor George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, and has been called America’s “most influential conservative Christian thinker”.
George drafted the Manhattan Declaration, a manifesto signed by Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical leaders that “promised resistance to the point of civil disobedience against any legislation that might implicate their churches or charities in abortion, embryo-destructive research or same-sex marriage.”
This manifesto has been signed by over half a million people, including about 250 prominent US religious leaders from all faiths, and including 55 Roman Catholic Bishops. For my Madison friends, Madison’s Bishop Morlino was among the first to sign the Manhattan Declaration. I have signed it as well.
I could go on about the seemingly endless credentials of these two men, but let’s get to the lecture. Suffice it to say that I stand in awe of both them, and I pray that efforts like theirs will begin to balance the liberal propaganda offered at most Universities under the guise of education, so that our young people, whose minds and consciences are being formed at Universities, get to hear virtuous alternatives and arguments.
|The lecture took place at Princeton University, in McCosh Hall at 4:30PM, on March 10th, 2013.
Why the Tax and Monetary Sins of the West Now Threaten Civilization:
Princeton Chapel and McCosh Hall
Steve Forbes’ talk, in conjunction with the title, and with the historical analysis he provided, implied that irresponsible policies such as abandoning the gold standard and excessive taxation not only caused the Great Depression, which could have been averted, but may threaten our present civilization, although there is still adequate time for correction.
|Introduction by Robert P. George, Director of the Princeton University James
Madison Program -
Steve Forbes is one of the co-founders of the James Madison Program in
American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University.
He is widely known as Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of
Forbes Media, which was founded by Steve’s grandfather (Bertie Charles Forbes, born in Scotland, 1880). Forbes is the nation’s leading business magazine with a circulation of over
900,000. Each issue’s “Fact and Comment” editorial is written by Steve, and he is widely recognized as a financial journalist whose economic forecasts have proved most accurate.
Steve has served on a variety of influential commissions, including heading President Reagan’s bi-partisan Board for International Broadcasting. He oversaw Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, which have been acknowledged to have helped President Reagan in his efforts to dismantle the iron curtain.
Steve campaigned twice (1996 and 2000) for the Republican nomination for the presidency.
He currently serves on several Foundations, including the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Steve received the BA degree from Princeton in 1970, and he served as a member of the board of trustees of Princeton University for 10 years.
|This is a talk about America’s founding and America’s future.
The US plays unique role in the world – it has been the guarantor of peace
and stability in the world.
Recall what happened in the 1930s when there was no such power in the world.
The security umbrella provided by the US has prevented world wars from
developing since the 1940s.
In the 1970s, a weak US government with weak policies lead to a perceived decline, and world instability grew.
A strengthened government with changes in policy in the 1980s caused democracy to spread world-wide.
The US instituted massive tax cuts, rebuilt its economy and military strength, creativity rose, and the Berlin wall fell.
From the early 1980s to 2007 the world went through an amazing period of growth where never before had so many people enjoyed such economic growth – millions joined the middle class in countries like India, China and Africa.
So what went wrong?
France, Germany, Japan are in recession – massive spending is hurting China.
Crises are seen in North Korea and the Middle East.
Iran’s buildup of nuclear weapons is threatening Israel.
The US has moved military assets to that part of the world to keep oil flowing.
Extremist groups are active, China has massive military buildup, Vietnam is begging the US for help.
All of this is happening because the US is seen as being in decline.
The US’s financial crisis is seen as evidence of a fundamental flaw in free-market capitalism.
Where do we go from here?
The situation we have today is the result of fundamental policy errors in money and taxes, like those of the 1930 and 1970s.
These errors are errors in Monetary Policy and Taxes/Trade – topics that are so boring that the Federal Reserve has no oversight by Congress!
Monetary policy is an intimidating subject.
The Central Bank must supply the right amount of money to prevent stalling or flooding the economic engine.
Our Central Bank has been printing too much money.
They do not understand that money or currency is just a means to facilitate trade.
Distortions occur when the Fed does not understand that wealth is created by you – not by money.
For this to work, money must have a fixed value, like time or length.
If the number of hours in a day does not have a fixed value, how would you know how to pay someone’s hourly rate?
With variable value of money, investment in a more productive future is discouraged, and instead money goes into hard assets to preserve what you have.
In the 1970s oil went from $3 to $40 per barrel.
When inflation was stopped by Reagan, oil went down to $20 where it stayed for 20 years.
You know there are problems when people start talking about investing in gold.
Why would people want to invest in gold?
Faulty government policies create mistrust in the value of currency.
Money is not being invested the way it should in building businesses for the future.
If you don’t know whether your investment will pay back an amount in today’s dollars, or in some lesser amount, you do not take the risk.
If the hour was suddenly made 50 minutes by government policy, how would you decide what to pay the hourly worker? Inflation undermines investments, wages stagnate, and social trust is undermined. This demoralizes society by creating arbitrarily winners and losers.
Windfall gains by some lead to unstable commodities. Others lose since they cannot get loans to build businesses.
So what will happen?
I believe that the dollar will be realigned with G-O-L-D, which guarantees a fixed value of money.
The market should determine the value of money, not Washington.
Gold is the one thing we have that keeps its intrinsic value.
Fixing the mile at 5,280 feet, does not mean that you cannot build more highway.
Similarly, gold just fixes the value of money – it sets the standard.
This worked for 180 years – and gave us a stable value of money.
The other error made by government concerns Taxes and Trade.
Taxes are not just a means to raise revenue for government – taxes are the price you have to pay to take risks on your investments.
Therefore it is easy to see that lowering taxes encourages people to do more.
Raise the price of something, you get less, lower the price you get more – it is just that simple!
For the first time since the 1930s we have countries increasing taxes instead of lowering them in the face of declining economies.
This is in spite of plenty of evidence that raising taxes deepens the decline.
Greece is in a depression – yet it is raising taxes, Italy is stagnant – but it is raising taxes.
Portugal, Spain, France are wondering why people are leaving their countries.
Japan raised its taxes and is going nowhere.
Is there hope? Yes!
In the Baltic states and Sweden, where they have not raised taxes, people are doing well.
In the US, states without income taxes do much better than those that do.
Illinois, California, Connecticut, Maryland are going in the the same direction as Greece.
The good news is that people do eventually learn from their mistakes.
Structural changes are needed so that economies can come back.
Put another way, Lincoln’s Gettysburg address is only 272 words, the Declaration of Independence: 1,300 words, the US Constitution and amendments: 7,200 words, the Bible: 773,000 words, and the US Tax code is 9,000,000 words and running!
Nobody knows what is in it!
But consensus is emerging to revamp the tax code.
This includes cutting taxes and eliminating death taxes (i.e., no taxation without respiration!)
The US population spends $6.5B per year on preparing taxes.
This money can be put to much better use!
Signs of change are being seen.
Once the US starts to get it right, other countries will follow.
The Great Depression was the result of massive government error that started with the US government raising taxes and tariff out of ignorance.
In 1930 they decide to raise taxes on imports.
Other countries retaliated by raising taxes, and this destroyed the global trading system, and led to the depression.
Stable exchange rates and removal of trade barriers are simple measures that history has shown lead to success.
These changes will recreate the momentum we had before 2007, where everyone in the world will have, as Lincoln put it, “a chance to improve their lot in life” again.
The James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions was founded in 2000 by the Department of Politics at Princeton University and “is dedicated to exploring fundamental and enduring questions of political thought and constitutional law. It promotes greater appreciation of Western tradition of legal and political thought, and supports the application of fundamental principles to modern social problems, particularly as they are manifested in the domain of public law. By supporting the study of foundational issues, the Program seeks to fulfill its mandate of offering civic education of the highest possible caliber.”
The James Madison Program at Princeton also supports the James Madison Society, which is an international community of scholars whose research contributes to civic education in institutions of higher learning. Members of the Society share the belief of James Madison that only a well-instructed people can be permanently free. They also share a commitment to instill within rising generations an appreciation of the common good and the moral foundations of democratic governance. The Society provides a forum through which scholars who have demonstrated a commitment to excellence in constitutional law, political thought, and related fields, can engage in intensive discussions about their research and teaching.
After listening to Steve’s lecture audio above, or reading the summary of it, it is clear that the James Madison Program should expand its reach to as many universities as possible, so as to instill reasoned values of virtue and common-sense
in our students, the future leaders of our society.
The James Madison Program website offers opportunities for audio and video of previous talks, schedules of future talks, email notification of events, and opportunities to contribute to this crucial program, which specailizes in instilling values in the future leaders of America.