Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Notable Notes and Some Links

* Shiller and Shiller, Economists as Worldly Philosophers (PDF)

* I pay more Federal taxes than General Electric.

* Some interesting news with respect to Eastern Catholicism, which I am late in getting to. The Maronites have a new Patriarch, Béchara Boutros Raï. By all accounts he is a good man who stands a chance of curing the disease of political partisanship that has afflicted much of the Maronite Church. He is the 77the Maronite Patriarch. There are about 3 to 4 million Maronite Catholics in the world, although there is some guesswork in that number; a little less than a third of those live in Lebanon, where they make up more than a fifth of the population. Raï will have to face some considerable challenges; it's like being elected to sit on the powder keg.

In the meantime, the Ukrainian Catholic Church has elected a new Major Archbishop, a relatively young one: Sviatoslav Shevchuk. He has already been pushing a request for Rome to give the Ukrainian Catholic Church patriarchal status; this was an important issue for his predecessor, but Rome has always worried about the reaction of the Orthodox Church to such a recognition, and so has dragged its feet. It would make some sense for the Ukrainian Catholic Church to be given the status of a patriarchate; it is the largest of the Eastern Churches in communion with Rome, having at best estimate about 4.3 million members.

* For those who don't know what I'm talking about when talking about Eastern Catholics: not all Catholics are Roman Catholics (or Western Catholics, as they are sometimes also called); there are varieties, so to speak, of Eastern Christians who are in communion with Rome and thus are Catholic, although in many ways independent of the Western Catholic Church (sometimes, alas, in principle more than in practice). These varieties are called sui juris (roughly, self-governing) Churches; there are 23 such Churches. Six of these (Coptic Catholic, Chaldean Catholic, Melkite Greek Catholic, Maronite Catholic, Armenian Catholic, and Syrian Catholic) are headed by a bishop with the highest rank in the Church, Patriarch; the rest are headed by Major Archbishops. They are often grouped by their primary liturgical practices, into Alexandrian, Armenian, West Syrian, East Syrian, and Byzantine. A little less than half of Eastern Catholics belong to Churches that have some sort of Syrian rite, and a little less than half belong to Churches that have some sort of Byzantine rite. As noted above, the largest sui juris Eastern Catholic Church in terms of population is the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (Byzantine rite, hence the 'Greek'), which includes about one-quarter of all Eastern Catholics; the second largest sui juris Eastern Catholic Church is the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church (East Syrian rite), which has about 4 million members and includes about one-fifth of all Eastern Catholics. The Maronites (West Syrian rite) are the third largest. Most (although not all) Eastern Catholic Churches are pieces of the Eastern Orthodox or Oriental Churches (neither of which are in full communion with Rome) that broke off and joined with Rome which heads the one and only sui juris Catholic Church that is not 'Eastern'. They are at present dwarfed by the Roman Catholic Church, which is currently approaching 1.2 billion members, but have over time been slowly playing an increasingly important role in Catholic life.

* Of course, almost everything is dwarfed by the Roman Catholic population (the population of China is itself about 1.3 billion members). Some other comparison numbers to keep in mind: the total number of atheists in the United states is about one million, the total population of Los Angeles is less than 4 million, and there are 16 million Southern Baptists, 14-18 million Jews, 14 million Mormons, and 8 million Bahai in the world. All these numbers are rough approximations, of course, and don't really admit of direct, unqualified comparison. But they suffice to show that the larger Eastern Catholic Churches, while not immense, are also not small fry.

* John Wilkins has a good post on the Turtles All the Way Down story.

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