Category: Acton Commentary

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
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ca-civilwarThe new Marvel film Captain America: Civil War examines the conflict between conscience and coercion, says Jordan Ballor in this week’s Acton Commentary.

The latest superhero blockbuster Captain America: Civil War opened to a huge box office as well as to critical acclaim last weekend. The basic dynamic of the film focuses on conflict between authority and responsibility. The film could well be understood as an extended reflection on Edmund Burke’s observation: “Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without.”

The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.

Banca_Monte_dei_Paschi_di_Siena_in_Pisa“Money has not only the character of money,” says Samuel Gregg in this week’s Acton Commentary, “but it also has a productive character which we commonly call capital.”

Like all medieval clergy, Olivi and Bernardine fiercely opposed usury. “Usury,” Bernardine wrote, “concentrates the money of the community in the hands of a few, just as if all the blood in a man’s body ran to his heart and left his other organs depleted.” Yet the same Bernardine also invested time in explaining why it was legitimate for creditors to charge interest on loans to compensate themselves for relinquishing the opportunity to invest their money elsewhere. In such circumstances, the lender had a right to be compensated for what amounted to foregone profits. “What,” Bernardine maintained, “in the firm purpose of its owner is ordained to some probable profit has not only the character of mere money or a mere thing, but also beyond this, a certain seminal character of something profitable, which we commonly call capital.”

The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.

A few weeks ago in connection with Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, I looked at Lex Luthor as the would-be crony capitalist über Alles, and pointed to Bruce Wayne along with Senator Finch as the economic and political counterpoints to such corruption, respectively.

In this week’s Acton Commentary, Daniel Menjivar looks more closely at Bruce Wayne as representative of aristocratic virtue, the capitalist hero to Luthor’s crony capitalist villain. And while, as Menjivar concludes, “In cape and cowl he is a true hero, the Dark Knight. But in suit and tie, Bruce Wayne is the quintessential capitalist superhero, a shining example of corporate nobility,” Menjivar also notes that Wayne is an imperfect hero.

Threat Bruce Wayne“One clear fault is Bruce’s assumption that by simply fulfilling the material needs of the survivors he has done his part. This is most clearly evidenced in the character of Wallace Keefe, the very man that Bruce Wayne pulled from the rubble of the Wayne building in Metropolis. Wallace loses his legs in the aftermath of the battle, however, he refuses and returns all of Bruce Wayne’s checks,” writes Menjivar.
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Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
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batman-v-superman-poster-batman-vs-superman-and-the-dc-movies-slow-down“The real hero of the recently released Batman v. Superman film is an often overshadowed character, Bruce Wayne,” says Daniel Menjivar in this week’s Acton Commentary. “Batman’s alter ego, Bruce Wayne is the CEO of Wayne Enterprises and the hero that Gotham, and in the case of this film, Metropolis needs too. Bruce Wayne is, in fact, a capitalist superhero.”

In an opening scene, we find Wayne landing in the city of Metropolis as Superman and General Zod battle in the skies and skyscrapers above him. As citizens flee the ongoing destruction, Bruce Wayne does the opposite, dodging collapsing buildings and abandoned vehicles. We find that his goal is Wayne Tower, and his mission is to oversee the evacuation of his employees. Upon arriving at the tower Bruce immediately begins helping those around him, pulling a man from the rubble and saving a little girl from falling debris. Wayne does not sit back safely from afar and either mourn the loss of human capital or make mental notes to hire more employees. Neither does he do a cost-benefit analysis of trying to save those who work for him: instead he knows the value of human life and risks his own to save it.

The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here. And in case you aren’t familiar with the movie Menjivar is referring to, here is the official trailer:
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Blog author: jballor
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
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Post harvest cultivation - geograph.org.uk - 1223870A distinctive of neo-Calvinism, that movement associated with a late-nineteenth century Dutch revival of Reformational Christianity in the Netherlands, is its focus in emphasis if not also in substance not only on individuals but also on institutions. As Richard Mouw puts it, “At the heart of the neo-Calvinist perspective on cultural multiformity is an insistence that the redemption accomplished by Christ is not only about the salvation of individuals—it is the reclaiming of the whole creation.”

This holistic perspective has led to a variety of speculations and opinions about the (dis)continuity between the redemptive-historical transitions from creation, fall, redemption, and consummation. In last week’s Acton Commentary, a section out of Abraham Kuyper’s Common Grace captures one of Kuyper’s key insights that the “fruit of common grace” has significance not only for this world but for the next as well.
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1600px-Tulip_00126-27“The temporal achievements of science, technology, inventions and the like also have a divine significance,” writes Abraham Kuyper in this week’s Acton Commentary, an excerpt from Common Grace: God’s Gifts for a Fallen World.

With the destruction of this present form of the world, will the fruit of common grace be destroyed forever, or will that rich and multiform development for which common grace has equipped and will yet equip our human race also bear fruit for the kingdom of glory as that will one day exist as the new earth, under the new heaven, overflowing with righteousness?

As everyone immediately realizes, this question is not without importance. If nothing of all that developed in this temporal life passes over into eternity, then this temporal existence leaves us cold and indifferent. Everyone without an appetite for eternal life will then advance in terms of that existence, but everyone seeking a better fatherland will be unable to feel any affinity for it. After all, one day everything will be gone, unlike the caterpillar that is wrapped like a chrysalis in order later to appear in more exquisite form as a butterfly, but instead like a stage on which a series of performances were exhibited but after which nothing remains but an empty floor and unsightly walls.

The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
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acton-commentary-blogimageIn medieval Europe merchants would often write Deus enim et proficuum (“For God and Profit”) in the upper corners of their accounting ledgers or A nome di Dio e guadangnio (“In the Name of God and Profit”) on partnership contracts. These words reflected their authors’ conviction that banking and finance were economically useful endeavors, says Samuel Gregg in this week’s Acton Commentary.

Luis Molina and the many other Christians who explored these areas throughout history were not searching for greater marketplace effi­ciencies. Their concern was moral. They analyzed the decisions that people made in finance to see which actions were morally upright and which fell short of the demands of Christian truth.

As important side effects, such studies helped to identify key fea­tures of money, clarified how interest worked as a means of calibrating risk, and increased knowledge of the true nature of capital, exploring how it could be used to generate wealth. Nonetheless, Christians were — and must continue to be — primarily concerned with the morality of dif­ferent choices in finance.

The full text of the essay can be found here. This is an excerpt from Gregg’s latest book, For God and Profit: How Banking and Finance Can Serve the Common Good.

Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.