Category: News and Events

Blog author: jballor
Sunday, September 21, 2008
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This morning we opened the final day of GodblogCon 2008 with an exclusive premiere of the Acton Institute’s new documentary, The Birth of Freedom.

I had occasion to think about one of the more compelling parts of the film when I came across this blog post from Justin Taylor. JT shares a section from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s address at Western Michigan University, December 18, 1963.

A key point:

But we must go on to say that while it may be true that morality cannot be legislated, behavior can be regulated. It may be true that the law cannot change the heart but it can restrain the heartless. It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me but it can keep him from lynching me and I think that is pretty important, also.

In a word, the state does have an indispensable role to play in promoting justice, and when it fails to do its job Christian citizens have their own responsibility to call it to its task.

Prof. Robert P. George of Princeton University observes in The Birth of Freedom that it is patently false to think that faith plays no positive role in public life, a position promoted by the New Atheists and popularized by the likes of Bill Maher. George urges us:

Think of what a scandal it would be if we were to say the abolitionists should have kept their Christian faith out of the struggle against slavery. Rev. Martin Luther King should have kept his Christian faith out of the struggle for civil rights. People who fought against the terrible crimes committed in the name of eugenics should have kept their faith out of politics.

The film was well received by the Godbloggers, and there was a great deal of interest in how it fits into Acton’s work and how the film could be passed along to friends, family, and colleagues. We’re grateful to GodblogCon for the opportunity to present this feature to an important audience.


Bloggers should also be aware that we offer a special opportunity to attend Acton University, which will next be held from June 16-19, 2009. Program details will be announced in November, but you can get more information and contact details for Kara Eagle at the Acton University page. Inquire about blogger scholarships and ask to be included on the list of those invited to apply.

Blog author: jballor
Saturday, September 20, 2008
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The first full day of programming at GodblogCon 2008 has begun, and the first session was from Andrew Jones, “The Missional Church in the Internet Age.” There was a marked contrast in attitudes towards new media between Jones’ (missional) talk and the following session, led by Ken Myers of Mars Hill Audio. I think John may have more to say on this later.

But before Jones’ presentation, conference director Dustin Steeve announced that GodblogCon qua GodblogCon will be no more after this year. The first page of the attendee packet proclaims that “GodblogCon is coming to an end.” Indeed, “beginning October 2009, something new is coming….”

What do the GodblogCon administrators have in mind? Expansion of the focus of the conference beyond blogging (and by extension podcasting, vlogging, microblogging, and social networking). The plan seems to include turning GodblogCon into “the premier web media conference of the year to help Christians advance the kingdom through web technologies.”

The idea, which I think is a sound one, is that blogging and other particular forms of new media are simply a part of the interaction between faith and web technology in the 21st century. In my view, GodblogCon should remain a particular track in a larger conference that focuses on Christianity and the Internet.

I’m curious to see what all this will mean for GodblogCon’s relationship other events, particularly this year’s host BlogWorld & New Media Expo, but also other events like BibleTech. Hopefully we’ll hear more about the transition from GodblogCon to a new Christian web media conference as the weekend progresses.

Blog author: jballor
Friday, September 19, 2008
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I have safely arrived at my hotel for the weekend, my home base for this year’s GodblogCon. Tonight is the first event, an opening night dinner at the Rainforest Cafe in the MGM Grand, generously sponsored by the Family Research Council.

The Family Research Council is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Congratulations to FRC on the fine work they continue to do. Be sure to visit their site and add the FRC Blog to your feed reader.

John Couretas is also representing Acton at this conference, and he’ll be arriving later today. We’ll be keeping you updated with developments and highlights throughout the conference.

Blog author: jcouretas
Thursday, September 18, 2008
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Frank J. Hanna III, Georgia CEO of Hanna Capital and cofounder of the Solidarity Foundation, is author of the new book What Your Money Means (and How to Use It Well). Hanna, a board member of the Acton Institute, talked to National Review Online editor Kathryn Lopez in a Q&A titled “Virtue and Volatility” about earning money, using it well, the market meltdown, and more.

Excerpt:

Lopez: What do love, virtue, and religious faith have to do with money?

Hanna: Money is merely an instrumentality — a tool. It is a tool designed to serve greater ends, like love, virtue, and our faith. However, if we are not thoughtful and deliberate in the way we treat our money, it can work against those ends, rather than for them.

Lopez: Is it fair to say that “non-essential wealth threatens those we love”? Can’t those we love appreciate some luxuries too?

Hanna: Non-essential wealth is a threat — to all of us. A threat is not synonymous with evil, but it is the potential for something evil. When we have non-essential wealth, there is the chance that we spend it unwisely, in ways that can hurt others or ourselves. This possibility does not, however, rule out enjoying life’s legitimate pleasures.

Lopez: Do you feel guilty about being wealthy? Is that a bad thing?

Hanna: Being wealthy is a gift, just like other gifts, and one should no more feel guilty about it than one would feel guilty about being pretty, or playing an instrument well, or being a great athlete. It is how we treat the gift we have received that determines whether we should have guilt.

Lopez: “Money is good” but not greed? A little revision on Michael Douglas?

Hanna: Greed is an unhealthy attachment to money, and is always bad. It is very similar to an unhealthy attachment to food, which we know as the sin of gluttony, or the unhealthy attachment to one’s appearance, which we know as the sin of vanity. Food is good, good grooming is good, and money is good; the unhealthy attachment to any of these things is not good.

Last week I told PowerBlog readers that we were working on a special event for the upcoming GodblogCon 2008. We’re announcing here that we will be holding an exclusive premiere of Acton Media’s newest documentary, The Birth of Freedom, at GodblogCon 2008.

The film will be shown at the opening of the third day of the conference, on Sunday morning at 10:00am, September 21, at the Las Vegas Convention Center. We’re excited about this opportunity that is available to GodblogCon participants as well as to attendees of the BlogWorld & New Media Expo.

Earlier in the conference, Mark Joseph, a multi-media producer, columnist and author who blogs at the Huffington Post, will be discussing, “Godbloggers & Hollywood: The role of Godbloggers in the Entertainment Industry and Why They Should Care.” The exclusive premiere of The Birth of Freedom at GBC 2008 will provide a nice complement to Joseph’s talk, and introduce the Godblogging community to the vision of Acton Media.

You can view a trailer for the film below, and check out more details about upcoming premieres, as well as the ongoing Birth of Freedom Video Shorts series, at the film’s website.

If you have been considering coming to GodblogCon 2008 but haven’t yet registered, the opportunity to be among the first in the world to see The Birth of Freedom should be incentive enough to make the commitment to come, fellowship, and learn with others in the world of new media.

In this, the third video in Acton Media’s series of shorts accompanying its latest documentary The Birth of Freedom, Glenn Sunshine demonstrates how belief in human dignity spurred invention and innovation during the middle ages.

Acton Media’s video shorts from The Birth of Freedom are designed to provide additional insight into key issues and ideas in the film. A new short is released each Monday. Check out the rest of the series, learn about premieres in your area, and discover more background information at www.thebirthoffreedom.com.

There’s a good read from a state politician familiar with Kwame Kilpatrick, the former Detroit mayor accused of all manner of illicit activity, in the Sep. 12 newsletter (PDF) from Michigan state senator Mickey Switalski (D-Roseville). Switalski’s newsletter is one of the best and is atypical among state politicians, because he writes the content himself.

Before his current run as a state senator, Switalski was a state representative during Kilpatrick’s tenure as Democratic Floor Leader, the #2 position in the Democratic caucus. In his piece on Kilpatrick, Switalski offers what you might expect to be a sympathetic perspective, given their time spent as colleagues and their shared party affiliation (I spent a semester as a legislative intern for then-Representative Switalski in the spring of 2000). Yet Switalski offers what I think is a fair and balanced assessment, based on his judgment that Kilpatrick “is a complex person with many strengths and some tragic weaknesses.”

“The Rise and Fall of Kwame Kilpatrick” is a narrative embodying the wisdom of Lord Acton’s dictum that “power tends to corrupt.” Switalski gives us an inside look at state politics, describing the legislature as “an insane asylum,” given the turbulent dynamics at the time. But Kilpatrick was a voice of reason and stability during the ravages of partisan bickering.

Ultimately Switalski judges that Kilpatrick “had too much power too early. He indulged his prodigious appetites and lacked the maturity and judgment to control his desires and became corrupt.”

Switalski wonders, “Were these faults always there?”

“I suppose they were,” he answers.

But how could a man who saw public service with such clarity in 2000 become so blind and ethically lost just a few years later? It is a sad tale, both for him and for the City. Unlike many people I know, who seemed to relish in his failure, I took no joy in watching him self-destruct. It was an awful waste of talent and opportunity. It was a tragedy for the City and the Region.

I pray his successors will not let power lead them into temptation, and so avoid a similar fate.

Switalski is correct to point to the tragedy of the demise of Kwame Kilpatrick, and that we should always realize the danger that power presents and the responsibility that it entails.

Even those who recognize, as Kwame did, that politicians have a duty to their constituents and “doing good policy for the people we serve” can be corrupted by the illusions of power and the delusions of privilege.

Blog author: jballor
Friday, September 12, 2008
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We are one week away from the beginning of GodblogCon 2008. For the second year in a row the Acton Institute is a sponsor of the event, and we’re proud be be a part of the premier gathering of bloggers and new media connoisseurs. Other sponsors include the founding institutions behind GBC, Biola University and the Torrey Honors Institute. Crossway Books & Bibles, which is publishing the forthcoming Stewardship Resource Bible, is also a sponsor of the event (Acton research scholar Stephen Grabill is general editor of the Stewardship Resource Bible).

Part of our task as a sponsor of the event is to come up with an ad for the attendee booklet, which will go out to all GBC participants. As a PowerBlog exclusive, we’re unveiling this ad here today, inspired by the LOLord Acton Quote Generator.


We’re also working on some exciting last minute plans with the GBC team, so keep the PowerBlog bookmarked for the latest news on GodblogCon 2008. Check out the GBC schedule and speaker list, and register now to attend this dynamic gathering.

The Acton Institute is co-sponsoring a symposium hosted by The Heritage Foundation at the University of Michigan’s campus. The event will take place:

Tuesday, September 30, 2008 at 12:45 PM

Michigan Union Building
530 South State Street
Ann Arbor, Michigan

The future of liberty depends on reclaiming America’s first principles. What are those principles, and what do they mean for today? The First Principles Initiative is one of the 10 Transformational Initiatives making up The Heritage Foundation’s Leadership for America campaign. The publications and programs of this Initiative seek to provide a much-needed education for students, policymakers, and citizens about the ideas of liberty and constitutional self-government, with the objective of reorienting our politics and public policy to the principles of the American Founding.

Director of Acton Media and Research Fellow, Jay W. Richards, will speak on the topic of Conservative Answers to Environmental Questions at 2:15PM

For more information, please contact Emily Sankot Kayrish at (202) 608-6266 or e-mail: specialevents@heritage.org

Mark your calendar! The Fox Business Channel is featuring The Call of the Entrepreneur at the following times:

· Saturday, September 27 5:00 – 6:00 PM EST / 2:00 – 3:00 PM PST

· Sunday, September 28 12:00 – 1:00 AM EST / 9:00 – 10:00 PM PST

To find your local station visit the FOX channel finder. To find out more about the movie, discover related materials, and learn how to host your own screening, visit The Call of the Entrepreneur website.