Category: General

Is the morality of an act solely based on the intentions of the person acting?  Moviegoers may get some insight into this question when Ender’s Game is released in theaters Nov. 1.

Orson Scott Card’s classic Ender’s Game book series began in 1985 with its most well known first installment, winning the Nebula and Hugo Awards for best science fiction novel.  The book tells the story of an alien invasion, where the world’s population prepares for an imminent second attack by training as many specialized soldiers as possible.  Most of these special soldiers are children, honing their skills on an orbiting space station in zero gravity simulations called “Battle School.”  Ender is a potentially gifted future commander, selectively bred by the International Fleet, the organization combating the alien force.  The book follows Ender’s journey through the beginning of Battle School.

In an interesting essay on Ender as a killer from the International Review of Science Fiction, John Kessel concludes that Ender is far too innocent for someone who commits murder and violent acts in the book (warning: this essay contains many spoilers if you have not read the book).  John makes some good points, illustrating the expertise of Card in encouraging the reader to root for the “innocent killer.”  The book’s story is even more potent when you add the fact that Ender is abused during most of his life, partly because he is a third child when couples are only allowed to have two.  Does the reader root for the “murdering savior,” or is Card content in saying that committing immoral deeds in ignorance is acceptable?  These questions and more are addressed in the rest of the Ender series.

…when you write without deliberately expressing moral teachings, the morals that show up are the ones you actually live by. The beliefs that you don’t even think to question, that you don’t even notice– those will show up. And that tells much more truth about what you believe than your deliberate moral machinations.

–Orson Scott Card

The right’s rhetoric is all about individual liberty, says Michael R. Strain, but love of fellow humans is essential to a functioning society — or policy.

Many on the right correctly emphasize individual liberty, but they do not emphasize what conservatism knows to be true: It is in community that people learn how to be free.

Ryan argued that “the federal government has a role to play” with respect to community, but that “it’s a supporting role, not the leading one.” This is generally true. Government should distance itself enough from the individual that civil society — which exists in the space between government and citizen — can flourish. Speaking generally, government should help support these institutions, but it should not do their work for them.

But this is not to say that a communitarian ethic should be absent from politics and public policy — quite the opposite. Proceeding with a spirit of community would help conservatives formulate and support better policies. Let’s discuss a few.

Read more . . .

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to apply for a Fall 2013 Calihan Academic Fellowship. The fellowships provide scholarships and research grants to future scholars and religious leaders whose academic work shows outstanding potential.

Graduate students studying theology, philosophy, religion, economics, or related fields are encouraged to apply. The application deadline is July 15. Information about eligibility, conditions, the selection process, and application requirements can be found on the Calihan Academic Fellowship page of the Acton Institute website.

It felt a little like the conclave week all over again inside the Vatican Press Office. Journalists cornering other journalists. Educated guesses and bets. Raised eyebrows of suspicion and plenty of pencil wagging, not to mention the nervous knees bouncing iPads and notepads in the foyer.

Journalists gather in Sala Stampa, the Vatican's Press Office, to hear comments on Lumen Fidei from curial experts

Journalists gather in Sala Stampa, the Vatican’s Press Office, to hear comments on Lumen Fidei from curial experts

While we were not waiting for black or white plumes of smoke to rise from the Sistine Chapel’s chimney, we were anxious to get an embargoed copy of Pope Francis’s encyclical, Lumen Fidei, and hear some of the most expert curial representatives comment on the release of a much anticipated papal encyclical.

Lumen Fidei – “The Light of Faith” – was released to the public this afternoon, July 5. The encyclical, Francis’s very first, is the last of a trilogy of magisterial writings begun by Benedict XVI on the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity.

(more…)

The passage of Obamacare in 2010 remains one of the most contentious legislative battles in recent memory. It was such an “attractive” bill that in order to garner the final few votes needed for its victory President Obama had to promise certain senators that their states would be exempt from its regulatory measures. It was unpopular when it passed. It’s unpopular today.

But members of the progressive-Left in this country possess two specific qualities that enable them to move forward with their political and cultural agendas, regardless of the political or cultural climate:

1) They understand that messaging is everything

2) They’re willing to fight the “long war” for what they believe in (more…)

Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, a lecturer at Stanford University, on what makes a philanthropist:

WSJ: How do you define a philanthropist?

Ms. Arrillaga-Andreessen: A philanthropist is anyone who gives time, money, experience, skills, networks [or] passion. The only thing that you need is generosity.

For example, [recently] after class I counseled a young computer science student who wanted to talk about how he could play a role in changing how engineering is taught globally. So we started developing a strategy for how he could start blogging, email professors, networking with other Stanford engineering alumni, and create some momentum through his own actions that have nothing to do with money, but rather have to do with his time, his intellect and his social capital.

Technology is disrupting the way we communicate, connect, create and consume, and philanthropy is no exception. Take [nonprofit lending platform] Kiva, which was actually co-founded by one of my former business school students, Jessica Jackley. We’re talking about the rise of the $10 philanthropist, the $25 philanthropist.

Philanthropy is now accessible to anyone of any age, of any financial resources, in any geographic location.

MRT Fire SaleSay, did you hear about the big Acton University Audio Fire Sale that’s going on now in the Acton Institute’s Digital Downloads Store? 68 presentations from Acton University 2012 have been marked down a full seventy-five percent, giving you access to an amazing range of talks on topics ranging from Christian Anthropology to Corruption, from Abraham Kuyper to Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, from Biblical Foundations of Freedom to Tensions in Modern Conservatism, all for just fifty cents per lecture!

New to Acton and wondering what we’re all about? This is a fantastic way to get to know us. Been with us for the long haul and interested in brushing up on your ethics or economics? Here’s your chance to do that while supporting the work of Acton in the process!

The sale is on right now, and will continue through Monday! Head on over to the Digital Download Store and check out the Acton Audio Fire Sale – you won’t be sorry. What can you expect when you get there? My prediction – savings.

  1. There are almost 2 million single dads raising kids in the U.S.
  2. About 24 million children do not live with their biological father.
  3. In 1965, dads spent about 2 1/2 hours a day with their child; today, dads spend about 6 1/2 hours with their child daily.
  4. 70% of Americans believe that a father’s absence from the home is the most significant problem facing our country today.
  5. Even in high crime neighborhoods, 90% of children from stable 2 parent homes where the father is involved do not become delinquents.

Finally, fathers are fun.

Blog author: ehilton
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
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Reformed theologian Abraham Kuyper, in his work Wisdom & Wonder, explores humanity’s relationship to creativity:

Whereas idol worship leads away from the spiritual, obscures the spiritual, and drives it into the background, symbolic worship by contrast possesses the capacity, by repeatedly connecting the visible symbol with the spiritual, to direct a people still dependent on the sensuous toward the spiritual and to nurture that people unto the spiritual.

Art should lead us to look beyond the created object, the artist and into a contemplation of the Creator God, from whom all creativity flows. Art should be celebrated, because it truly is a gift from God. (more…)

The Dark Ages: that time when people knew the Earth was flat, the civilization of the Western Roman Empire had collapsed, and people basically sat around waiting for something – anything – good to happen.

Except the Dark Ages weren’t so dark after all. Anthony Esolen, professor of literature at Providence College would like to set the record straight.

Nobody teaches history in schools anyway, much less the history of Europe. They do current events, social studies. The literature of the Middle Ages is largely ignored … they’ll either do modern philosophy or jump from Plato to Descartes as if nothing happened of any important in between.

The Middle Ages (roughly the 5th – 15th centuries A.D.) have often been seen as a time of intellectual darkness between the Roman Empire’s achievements and the ascent of the Renaissance. However, Esolen wants to make known that this was a time of great human achievement in art, literature, architecture and philosophy. His five minute video gives insight into the fact that the Dark Ages weren’t so dark after all.