Today's Blogs

The Banker Takes All

Bloggers congratulate this year’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Muhammad Yunus; have mixed opinions on the pope’s attempt to bring back Latin mass; and are opposed to a new French speech law.

The banker takes all: Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank have received the Nobel Peace Prize for 2006, marking the first occasion in decades where an economist has earned the humanitarian award for combating poverty. Yunus is the architect of “microlending,” an innovative banking loan program that helps the indigent of his native Bangladesh afford everyday tools—like cell phones or sewing machines—to better their welfare.

Delaware consultant Tom Noyes at Tommywonk writes approvingly of Yunus’ award: “Capitalism without capital means nothing to the poor. The Grameen Bank has created more capitalists than any other institution on earth.”

Genevieve at Genevieve’s Tales of Pillage, Plunder, Piracy, and Other Fun Stuff calls Yunus’ brainchild “beautiful in its simplicity” because “[m]ost poor people work in the informal sector– working in homegrown businesses– small loan lending gets them to start or expand businesses, revitalizes communities, empowers women and improves their status in the household (Yunus’s microcredit lending in Bangladesh targeted women).” She also relays a few mild criticisms of microfinance, chief of which come from Dweep Chana of The Discomfort Zone. A student of global management, Chana on the whole applauds Stockholm’s decision but hopes it doesn’t turn microfinance into a sacrosanct concept: “Yunus is being hailed as having ‘introduced capitalism to the poor’. That is hardly true. The poor … are as entrepreneurial as anyone else, and understand money fairly well. Yunus … has shown that the lack of formal laws is not an impediment to market transactions. Instead, he has shown, that existing informal social rules can very effectively fill in for such formal laws in poor communities.”

Iraqi blogger Miriam at Pearls of Iraq first noticed Yunus in a documentary made about his “microcredit missionary” work. She’s particularly struck by his elegant marriage of economic theory and practice: “Around the world, we have wonderful professors, teachers, researchers and intellectuals. They have developed fantastic theories which they share with their students, among themselves and an occasional think tank or public forum. It is the rare person who can take these theories, ideas and frameworks and transition them to practice in the field. Even the process of moving from theory to practice, sometimes gets bogged down by over analysis. I say, based on experience, just try it - do it! Theories are great, but that is all they are unless they are at least attempted.”

Read more about Yunus’ Nobel.

Stridentine mass: Pope Benedict has drafted a document that would create wider access to the Tridentine Mass, an all-Latin sermon that was abandoned after the Second Vatican Council reforms of the 1960s. If the pontiff does in fact issue a “universal indult” to restore worship in a dead language, plenty of traditionalist Catholics in cyberspace will be pleased, while reformists will interpret it as a nostalgic (and politically conservative) step backward.

In the comments section of legal blog Southern Appeal, “Rex” takes “issue with the idea that the old Latin mass has been said for ‘1,500 years.’ Not wholly true. The Council of Trent, convened in 1563 (maybe where they got their 1,500 number), established the Latin Tridentine Mass. Before then, while many masses were being said in Latin, as was the language of the Church Militant and the greater Roman Empire and subsequent ‘empires’, many masses were still being said in vernacular. The Council at Trent made the Tridentine brand the only and official Mass for the official Church Universal.”

Conservative Catholic Oswald Sobrino at Catholic Analysis is happy with the rumored change and doesn’t think it’s designed to appease schismatics against Vatican II: “I do not believe the Pope is acting primarily or solely to appease schismatic traditionalist factions. The Pope is issuing this decree because it is the right thing to do, regardless of whether it appeases or satisfies schismatic factions. … Liturgy develops organically, not by proscription. We are returning to that fundamental principle of liturgical common sense once again. John Paul the Great paved the way. Benedict is finishing the job.”

“Pseudo-Iamblichus” reduces the issue for laymen in the comments section of religion blog The Cornell Society for a Good Time: “How Catholics practiced their religion before the Second Vatican Council and how they did it afterwards are almost a world apart in most places. So much has changed that for most people it would be the same thing to have a Mass in Cantonese in every church every Sunday as it would be to have the Mass in Latin.”

Read more about the Tridentine rebirth.

Le mot injuste: Fresh off the announcement of Orhan Pamuk’s win of the Nobel Prize in Literature comes news that the lower house of the French parliament has passed a bill that would make denying the Turkish-backed Armenian genocide of 1915 a crime punishable by a year in prison and a fine of $56,570—the same penalty now in place in France for denying the Holocaust. Bloggers mount their free-speech hobbyhorses once again.

Metin at Turko-American blog Talk Turkey writes: “Regardless of whether we like it or not, the ‘freedom of expression’ enjoyed by the Armenians and others against the Turks is something that benefits the Turks as well in return. In fact, Turkey is taking steps, whether to gain entry into the EU … or truly in the name of ‘real’ reform to expand the freedom of expression. Whereas, it seems France (of all people - the champions of Liberte?,) once the homeland of the Renaissance, is taking a backward step.”

On Marquette Warrior,Wisconsinite John MacAdams also dismisses the law: “So history gets decided by politicians, at least in France, and people who disagree with the assessment of the politicians get punished by government.”

Read more about the French bill.