Thursday, May 31, 2007

Cultural Imperialism

The guys over at Acton are actin' up again. This time, they've pointed out the fatal flaw in mandatory "reproductive health" funding for third world countries.
...the common perception is that population growth causes poverty, so reducing population should also reduce poverty. But the facts do not bear this out. Neither do basic economics....

Statistics show no real correlation between population and poverty....

Despite the evidence, the World Bank continues lavishing American tax dollars on population control when that money could be put to better use on such things as infrastructure, telecommunications, and fighting corruption....

We know the factors that create economic growth and development: consistent rule of law for all citizens, property rights, sensible regulation, and a culture that encourages and rewards entrepreneurial behavior. These traits have never existed perfectly anywhere on earth, but the degree to which they have been present reflects the degree to which prosperity has been achieved. Conversely, where they remain absent -- as in much of the developing world today -- poverty and misery are found in their stead.

Many of the same people who protest the “cultural imperialism” of multi-national corporations like McDonalds, Coca-Cola and Wal-Mart vigorously support forcing the Western, secular sexual morality of contraception and abortion on women in Latin America, Africa and Asia -- many of whom view them as moral evils and a violation of their dignity.

People can choose whether to eat a Big Mac or shop at Wal-Mart, but when foreign aid is made contingent on reproductive health policies that include abortion -- and there is no choice -- that is real cultural imperialism. It is ironic that Europe, the very continent facing an economic crisis because of population decline, is busily promoting its own disease as a panacea for what ails the developing world.

Read all about it here.

Parliament Funk

“A little government and a little luck are necessary in life, but only a fool trusts either of them.”

- P. J. O'Rourke, Parliament of Whores, xxv.

There's an awful lot of politicking going on right now about issues I care about. I get frustrated with Washington and with myself about how issues are framed and approached. As a member of a religion that has been oppressed, ignored, and manipulated by the government (as well as one that has used the government to oppress and manipulate), church-state relations are always kind of foggy to me.

It strikes me as odd (maybe even hypocritical) that folks who normally tell us to keep our Christianity out of politics (for example, on abortion, LGBTQ issues, what have you) see no problem with using Christianity to criticize the government's stand on immigration (SoJo, I'm talking to you!). I'm pretty sure that a lot of this comes down to how we view the perspecuity of Scripture (at least in the Christian tradition). What does it address, and what doesn't it address? Where are normative statements and where are descriptive statements? How do we discern?

In my seminary training, there was no course offered on hermeneutics - the science of interpretation. We're paying for it now that we have a little bit of biblical knowledge, a whole lot of "praxiological reflection," and no where to hang it all within a system because - other than systems theory - there is no acceptable systematic expression of life because that's a product of European intellectual hegemony. Most of my assumptions are either implicitly derived from the way confessional documents interpret Scripture or are simplistic statements that need to be parsed (such as Scriptura sacra sui ipsius interpres, which assumes that the Scriptures have both veritas and claritas). I've been supplementing my training by reading folks like Craig Blomberg, but it would have been nice to have this in the curriculum.

What to do....