Category: General

Blog author: ehilton
posted by on Wednesday, June 5, 2013

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.

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Monday, June 3, 2013

mad-menRussell Moore on how Abraham Kuyper predicted the era of Madison Avenue’s culture of art and mammon:

[James Bratt] writes that Kuyper saw the dangerous combination of “Art as captured by Mammon.” Here the two combined to a “commercialized, lowered, prostituted, feeding the mass compulsion for excitement, excess, and the erotic.” In this, Bratt contends that Kuyper was hitting close to explaining the contemporary rise of Madison Avenue as a cultural force, “the marriage of Art and Mammon that is commercial advertising.”

Here’s where Abraham Kuyper has something to say to Don Draper.

Mad Men is successful for many reasons, the first of them being that it features compelling human stories compellingly told. But, behind that, there’s a captivation with something that explains our predicament. Don Draper doesn’t just sell illusions; he is one. He is living with a stolen identity, and a secret past. He is driven to success, Mammon, and he does so by his vast creativity, Art.

Read more . . .

Blog author: rnothstine
posted by on Friday, May 24, 2013

One_Square_Mile_of_Hell_The_Battle_for_Tarawa-119196847028350While enjoying time off this weekend, why not take some time to learn more about America’s military sacrifice in defense of liberty? Many of the best books I’ve ever read have been about American military history. When I worked for former Congressman Gene Taylor in Gulfport, Miss. one of my favorite parts of my job while working constituent services for veterans was listening to stories about battles from places like Okinawa, Khe Sanh, and Hue City. I’ve read all of the books compiled below and all of them tell magnificent stories of virtue, honor, sacrifice, and leadership. Obviously this is not a comprehensive list but I worked at including different conflicts and service branches. While I could expand it, I’m asking readers to add your own recommendations in the comment section.

1) The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: This is easily one of the greatest books on Naval Warfare ever written. The author, James D. Hornfischer, weaves together a dramatic David and Goliath battle in the Pacific, where a force of U.S. destroyers and cruisers took on a Japanese fleet over ten times its size. It was perhaps the U.S. Navy’s finest hour during WWII, but it came with a monumental price. The sacrifice of these sailors deserve to be honored and forever remembered.

2) Joker One: A Marine Platoon’s Story of Courage, Leadership, and Brotherhood: A Great account by Donovan Campbell about his Marine platoon in Ramadi, Iraq in 2004. This is an excellent book that offers Christian themes rooted in love, servant leadership, and sacrifice. I reviewed Joker One for the PowerBlog in 2009.

3) Bury Us Upside Down: The Misty Pilots and the Secret Battle for the Ho Chi Minh Trail: A thorough and riveting look at the air war over Vietnam along the Ho Chi Minh Trail that uncovers lots of new information about the conflict in Southeast Asia. I particularly appreciate the exhaustive research the authors did about the families of these heroic pilots who sacrificed their lives in Vietnam.

4) One Square Mile of Hell: I don’t understand how this narrative about the Battle of Tarawa by John Wukovits has never been made into a movie. The account is vivid and suspenseful with its description of the short lives for many Marines who landed on the Tarawa Atoll in 1943. This book too does a tremendous job of telling the stories of a few of the families who sacrificed their lives. It was also the first WWII battle that showed the bodies of dead Americans in newsreels to the public back home. Special permission had to be granted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to show the dramatic loss of life on film from this battle.

5) We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young: A great chronicle of the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley in 1965 and the courageous men who served in the 1st Battalion of the 7th Cavalry. Written by retired Lt. General Harold Moore and war correspondent Joe Galloway, this book tells the stories of numerous heroic men like John Goeghegan and Willie Godbolt who paid the ultimate price in Vietnam. A popular movie based on the book was released in 2002.

6) With the Old Breed: Eugene B. Sledge was a superb writer and this is some of the best war literature you will ever find. Few accounts capture the human emotion of combat like With the Old Breed. I reviewed the book for Veterans Day in 2010.

7) House to House: This is simply a riveting account on the intense urban combat that wracked Fallujah, Iraq in November 2004. The battle is often referred to the Second Battle of Fallujah. I debated including this work over some other books because of some excessive cussing, but in the end I couldn’t keep it off the list. It’s an emotional and intense read and captures well the courage and sacrifice of so many who fought and died in Iraq during the bloodiest years of the war. SSG Bellavia paid tremendous tribute to the men that fought by his side.

Blog author: ehilton
posted by on Tuesday, May 21, 2013

My persuasion can build a nationpink earth
Endless power
With our love we can devour
You’ll do anything for me

-Beyonce, “Run the World (Girls)”

That’s the apparent fantasy of Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Illinois. She recently hosted her annual fundraising luncheon, with guest speaker, Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards. Schakowsky said, “humanity is at a crossroads on this small planet and that our survival as a species is dependent on women taking charge, taking the world in our own hands.”

Given the fact that we are killing baby girls at an alarming rate all over the world, I don’t think Schakowsky is going to get her wish. Elizabeth Scalia, in a piece at First Things, has a different view. She believes men are increasingly abdicating their traditional roles in our society:

If forensic psychologist and men’s rights activist Helen Smith is correct, Schakowsky and her friends may have their hands full of the world, and sooner than they think. In her upcoming book Men on Strike, Smith offers up statistics and her own research to suggest that men are consciously boycotting marriage, fatherhood, and the “American Dream” because they feel beaten down by politically correct preferences and practices—in school, in the workplace, and in society in general. If the women want the world and all the power, the thinking goes, they can have it; the men will simply retire to whatever man-caves they are permitted.

Women, hyper-focused on “having it all”, are the ones who are now commitment-phobic, Scalia states. Driven by a desire for power that they perceive only men to have, women have managed to leave men “behind and lonely”, fearful of being “devoured” by women who won’t tolerate anyone standing in their way. Gender politics, as Scalia points out, is very complex: we can’t figure out if women should run it all or be removed from the scene before they are even born.

Read “If Women Ran the World” at First Things.

There are arguably two forces that may be destroying the ethics of journalism today. The first is the competition for rankings and advertising that drives the obsession to report something “first” in a 24-hour news cycle. The second is that social media exacerbates the first. These two forces make journalists vulnerable to poor, unethical reporting. We are seeing this play out in what could easily be considered unethical coverage of the tragedy in Boston by CNN and other news platforms.

On Wednesday CNN’s John King reported from law enforcement “sources” that the suspect was a dark-skinned male.
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Nobody can know everything about everything, but in the age of the internet, fact-checking isn’t too tough. It’s one thing for a high-school student to attempt to slide by on “facts” in a research paper for sophomore social studies, but another when professional journalists make errors about easily investigated pieces of knowledge.

Lately, the media has been getting blasted for getting the facts wrong about religion. Carl M. Cannon:

The upshot during Holy Week this year was a spate of news reports so inaccurate and off-key that they comprised a kind of impromptu “Gong Show.” (more…)

Every day we hear about contemporary, serious concepts (e.g., chained CPI) and new, silly fads (Vadering), but in the modern age it’s not always easy to tell which category a new idea falls into. Take, for instance, Bitcoin. As Jordan Ballor wrote yesterday,

bitcoinIt is certainly a phenomenon worth greater attention, and something of significant cultural, social and economic import. But I’m not buying Bitcoin, at least not yet.

My initial skepticism is in part due to my lack of familiarity with the details of the currency and its formation. I certainly need to learn more.

Many of us are in the same situation as Jordan. We recognize that Bitcoin is a significant phenomenon but need to become more familiar in order to develop an informed opinion and be able to “think Christianly” about it’s value and implications. While Bitcoin is not a topic every Christian should know something about (at least not yet), it does overlap with many subject areas of particular interest for Acton PowerBlog readers: business, technology, regulation, ethics, etc. For that reason, I thought it might be helpful to write a series on Bitcoin for Christians.

Over a series of three posts I’ll provide some background information on Bitcoin, explain how it works, and consider some of the reasons why Christians need to develop an informed opinion about the cryptocurrency. The purpose of these posts is not to tell you what to think about Bitcoin (though I have begun to form my own opinion) but merely to provide information that will help you to develop an informed opinion of your own.

We should start with the question “What is Bitcoin?” but before we can answer that we need to consider a more fundamental question, “What is money?” And that question brings us to the story of the rai of Yap.

What Yap Can Teach Us About Bitcoin
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Blog author: mvandermaas
posted by on Monday, April 8, 2013

On October 5, 2011, Acton welcomed John Blundell, Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs, to deliver a lecture as part of the 2011 Acton Lecture Series. His address was entitled “Lessons from Margaret Thatcher,” and provided insight into the Iron Lady from a man who had known Thatcher well before she became the Prime Minister of Great Britain. You can watch his lecture below.

Lady Margaret Thatcher has passed away from an apparent stroke at the age of 87. Here are nine things you should know about the former British Prime Minister.

thatcher1. Thatcher was not only the first—and only—woman to become British prime minister, she was the first to win three elections in a row. When she retired as a Prime Minister she was given the title of Baroness and joined the House of Lords.

2. Thatcher graduated from Oxford University in 1947 with a B.S. in Chemistry (specializing in X-ray crystallography), and worked as a research chemist before becoming involved in politics.

3. Thatcher helped develop soft-serve ice cream.

4. In 1970 Margaret Thatcher became Secretary of State for Education. In the post she stopped free milk for schoolchildren earning her the nickname ‘Thatcher, the Milk Snatcher.’

5. After a speech in 1976 in which she condemned Communism, a Soviet journalist dubbed her ‘The Iron Lady.’ She is said to have liked the nickname.

6. From 1993 to 2000, Thatcher served as chancellor of the College of William and Mary, in Williamsburg, Virginia.

7. On October 12, 1984, Thatcher narrowly escaped an IRA bombing assassination attempt at a Brighton hotel, in which five others were killed.

8. Ronald Reagan called her the “best man in England” and she called him “the second most important man in my life.”

9. Thatcher was brought up as a devout Methodist and remained a Christian throughout her life.

As has been mentioned today on the PowerBlog, Margaret Thatcher was a recipient of Acton’s Faith and Freedom Award in 2011. Due to her declining health, she was unable to accept the award in person. Accepting the award in her place was John O’Sullivan, the Executive Editor of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and former senior aide in the Thatcher government. The comments of O’Sullivan on Margaret Thatcher, her government and her character are below.