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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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The Czech parliament on Thursday approved an ambitious plan to return billions of dollars worth of church property that was confiscated by the communists in a vote that represented a victory for Prime Minister Petr Necas.
The law envisages handing churches land, property, and financial compensation worth about $7 billion over a period of 30 years. Under the plan, the churches would become independent from the state and gradually stop getting government financing.
The agreement should unlock about 6 percent of the country's forests and fields that once belonged to mostly Christian churches but which have been tied up pending a resolution of the restitution question.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary Europe Czech Republic * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic
All too often, Cristiano Ronaldo stuns the world with his fine footwork. On Thursday, the Portugal superstar used the determination of a raging bull to make the difference.
Ronaldo used his head to score the lone goal against the Czech Republic and send his team into the European Championship semifinals with a 1-0 victory.
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Greece beat Russia 1-0 in Warsaw with a first-half goal from captain Giorgos Karagounis to reach the quarter-finals, a result that sent the Russians home after the Czech Republic beat co-hosts Poland on a similar scoreline in Wroclaw.
Greece, winning for the first time in the tournament, went through as runners-up and will play the winners of Group B in the last eight.
Midfielder Karagounis, winning his 120th cap to equal the record for his country, made Russia pay for a flurry of missed chances when he scored against the run of play deep into first-half stoppage time.
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Sedláček: Eve and Adam grab the opportunity and eat the fruit. The original sin has the character of excessive, unnecessary consumption. It is not of a sexual nature. A desire for something she doesn't need is awakened in Eve. The living conditions in paradise were complete, and yet everything God had given the two wasn't enough. In this sense, greed isn't just at the birthplace of theoretical economics, but also at the beginning of our history. Greed is the beginning of everything.
SPIEGEL: So evil is the result of insatiability?
Sedláček: The demands of people are a curse of the gods. In Greek mythology, the story of Pandora, the first woman, who opens her jar out of curiosity, thereby releasing poverty, hunger and disease into the world, tells the same story as the Bible. In Babylonian culture, the Gilgamesh epic shows how desire rips man out of the harmony of nature.
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Go here and download or listen to it from the December 21stnd morning show. Fascinating the modern parallels he draws--KSH.
As soon as man began considering himself the source of the highest meaning in the world and the measure of everything, the world began to lose its human dimension, and man began to lose control of it.--Disturbing the Peace : A Conversation with Karel Hvizdala (Vintage, 1991 paperback ed. of the 1986 original trnslated by Paul Wilson, 1990), p.11
Calling former Czech President Vaclav Havel a "friend and fellow prisoner," the president of the Czech bishops' conference said the entire nation owes Havel a debt of gratitude for its freedom and the new flourishing of Czech life and culture.
Archbishop Dominik Duka of Prague, who was imprisoned with Havel by the communists, asked that the bells of all Catholic churches in the Czech Republic ring at 6 p.m. Dec. 18 in memory of the former president who died that morning at the age of 75.
The archbishop, who met Havel in prison in 1981 and continued to meet with him after the end of communism in 1989, was scheduled to celebrate Havel's funeral Mass Dec. 23 in St. Vitus Cathedral.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Books History Philosophy Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary Europe Czech Republic * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic
But the smart money was wrong. Havel was the only real choice considered when the new Czech Republic needed a president in January 1993. And Havel's entire career and philosophy, like Orwell's, were dedicated to navigating ideological minefields under the extreme duress of personal participation and suffering. This skill, it turns out, had some relevance in the post-Gorbachev world too. Like Orwell's, Havel's words and zesty one-liners can be (and have been) quoted selectively to make him sound conservative, liberal, and otherwise, and his bedrock belief in the transformative power of "calling things by their proper names" virtually ensured that some of his freewheeling opinions would set off alarm bells among those who see the shadow of socialism in such phrases as "civil society" and "new politics."
"I once said that I considered myself a socialist," Havel wrote in Summer Meditations. "I merely wanted to suggest that my heart was, as they say, slightly left of center." The words could have come directly out of Orwell's mouth: "In sentiment I am definitely 'left,'" he wrote in 1940, "but I believe that a writer can only remain honest if he keeps free of party labels."
Havel went on to discuss the futility of those who would pin an ideological tag to his lapel. "All my adult life, I was branded by officials as 'an exponent of the right' who wanted to bring capitalism back to our country," he wrote. "Today -- at a ripe old age -- I am suspected by some of being left-wing, if not of harboring out-and-out socialist tendencies. What, then, is my real position? First and foremost, I have never espoused any ideology, dogma, or doctrine -- left-wing, right-wing, or any other closed, ready-made system of presuppositions about the world. On the contrary, I have tried to think independently, using my own powers of reason, and I have always vigorously resisted attempts to pigeonhole me."
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Both as a dissident and as a national leader, Mr. [Vaclav] Havel impressed the West as one of the most important political thinkers in Central Europe. He rejected the notion, posited by reform-minded Communist leaders like Mikhail S. Gorbachev in the Soviet Union and Alexander Dubcek in Czechoslovakia, that Communist rule could be made more humane.
His star status and personal interests drew world leaders to Prague, from the Dalai Lama, with whom Mr. Havel meditated for hours, to President Bill Clinton, who, during a state visit in 1994, joined a saxophone jam session at Mr. Havel’s favorite jazz club.
Even after Mr. Havel retired in 2003, leaders sought him out, including President Obama. At their meeting in March 2009, Mr. Havel warned of the perils of limitless hope being projected onto a leader. Disappointment, he noted, could boil over into anger and resentment. Mr. Obama replied that he was becoming acutely aware of the possibility.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Theatre/Drama/Plays * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary Europe Czech Republic
Fed up with shockingly low pay and long hours, doctors in the Czech Republic are threatening to leave the country en masse.
More than a quarter of all Czech doctors have already signed a declaration stating their intention to emigrate to better-paying European countries if the Czech government does not substantively address their concerns by the end of this year.
But the cash-starved Czech government is ignoring the warnings so far, dismissing the threat as a gimmick and moving ahead with cost-cutting plans.
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As a long-standing critic of the idea of a European single currency, I have not rejoiced at the current problems in the euro zone because their consequences could be serious for all of us in Europe—for members and non-members of the euro zone, for its supporters and opponents. Even the enthusiastic propagandists of the euro suddenly speak about the potential collapse of the whole project now, and it is us critics who say we have to look at it in a more structured way.
The term "collapse" has at least two meanings. The first is that the euro-zone project has not succeeded in delivering the positive effects that had been rightly or wrongly expected from it. It was mistakenly and irresponsibly presented as an indisputable economic benefit to all the countries willing to give up their own long-treasured currencies....
The second meaning of the term collapse is the possible collapse of the euro zone as an institution, the demise of the euro. To that question, my answer is no, it will not collapse. So much political capital had been invested in its existence and in its role as a "cement" that binds the EU on its way to supra-nationality that in the foreseeable future the euro will surely not be abandoned.
It will continue, but at a very high price—low economic growth. It will bring economic losses even to non-members of the euro zone, like the Czech Republic.
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Filed under: * Economics, Politics Economy Euro European Central Bank Politics in General * International News & Commentary Europe --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010 Czech Republic
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