Archived Posts May 2005 - Page 7 of 8 | Acton PowerBlog

Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ in his earthly life shared our toil and hallowed our labor: Be present with your people where they work; make those who carry on the industries and commerce of this land responsive to your will; and give to us all a pride in what we do, and a just return for our labor; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

–U.S. Book of Common Prayer, “For Commerce and Industry,” (1979), p. 259

As was noted in an earlier post, talk-radio host and friend of the Acton Institute Laura Ingraham was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Her website is now reporting some promising news following her most recent surgery:

This afternoon, Laura went back into surgery for a further “cleaning of the margins” around the original breast tumor. Dr. Katherine Alley excised a few more millimeters of tissue, and she drained the recurrent “golfball” (Laura’s term, not Dr. Alley’s) of liquid that had formed around the earlier lymph node incision. Laura is at home “resting” comfortably. No pull-ups for Laura for at least a few weeks. Thanks to all of you for the prayers and good wishes. Keep ‘em coming!

Laura continues to be in our thoughts and prayers.

And that’s apparently a bad thing: “Researchers say that more solar energy arriving on the ground will also make the surface warmer, and this may add to the problems of global warming.”

Note also that this article states that the cleaning of the earth’s skies coincided with “the collapse of communist economies and the consequent decrease in industrial pollutants.”

Christian Post columnist R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, compares business schools and theological seminaries, which are both “tempted to redefine their mission in strictly academic terms.”

In explicating a recent study published in the Harvard Business Review, Mohler passes on the conclusions about the trend among business schools, “Today, it is possible to find tenured professors of management who have never set foot inside a real business, except as customers.”

Mohler writes of a similar threat to theological schools,

It should be unthinkable that the faculty in a theological seminary would include professors of such limited experience in church life. And yet, I have interviewed applicants for faculty positions who, when asked about their church involvement and ministry experience, have virtually nothing to offer. The task of seminary leaders is to make certain that persons of such minimal church experience and commitment are not offered faculty positions in our schools.

With all due respect to Dr. Mohler, my experience with seminary theological traning is that it is becoming less academically rigorous, not more. True systematic theology, for example, is often viewed by ministerial candidates as too difficult and not practical enough, so instead of reading Louis Berkhof’s Systematic Theology or Herman Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics, students might read Philip Yancey’s What’s So Amazing about Grace?
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Blog author: jballor
Thursday, May 5, 2005
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An editorial in today’s New York Times attests to the severely myopic lens through which the editorial board views the world. In “A Better Way to Fight Poverty,” the editorial effusively praises a United Nations program for its work in showing how “direct aid can largely bypass governments, getting money and help straight into the hands of the people who not only need it the most, but also know what to do with it.”

Direct aid? Since when are ANY of the funds the United Nations uses “direct aid”? Perhaps because the aid bypasses the domestic governments…but the aid certainly isn’t direct in the sense that it comes directly from any other nation.

The editorial admits as much when it states, “The United Nations plan, spearheaded by the economist Jeffrey Sachs, seeks to expand the program to the entire district, and then all over Africa. But that will happen only if rich countries make good on their promise to ratchet up foreign aid to 0.7 percent of G.D.P. by 2015. Britain, France and Germany have all put out timetables for meeting the goal. The United States, the world’s richest country, has yet to do so.” That doesn’t sound very “direct” to me.

So the UN aid work is essentially an international bureaucracy, redirecting and redistrbuting funds from member governments. And if the NYT editorial board thinks that such a supra-governmental body is somehow more immune or less corruptible than national governments, they need a reality check.

The NYT editorial praises the UN for circumventing “corrupt” governments, but fails to recognize the corruption in the UN. Has the NYT editorial board not heard of a little $67 billion snafu called the “Oil-for-Food” scandal?

Blog author: jballor
Thursday, May 5, 2005
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Visit Fox News for this exchange between John Gibson and Richard Thompson, president of the Thomas More Law Center, about charges of religious intolerance in the military.

Here’s a key part of the discussion:

GIBSON: But, Mr. Thompson, I know you’re in this business, so you would be hypervigilant about this. And we all know how this cadet structure is. The seniors have enormous power over lower cadets.

Do we have a situation where senior cadets who are Christians are saying, “I don’t care if you’re a Zoroastrian; I don’t care if you’re a Wiccan; I don’t care if you’re a Muslim; I don’t care if you’re Jewish; Say these prayers”?

THOMPSON: No. That is not true.

First of all, we are not talking about students in kindergarten or high school students. We’re talking about military personnel. They certainly don’t have to say a prayer even if there is a prayer, let’s say, before meals. They can stand quietly. They don’t have to engage in prayer at all. I think it’s really, again, a red herring that is really being drawn into the public arena because of the agenda of Americans United For Separation of Church and State.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, in his former role as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was more focused on the theological implications of political heresies such as liberation theology than he was on questions of economics. Yet Benedict has written eloquently on the subject of markets and morality, as this 1985 presentation at a Rome conference amply shows. In a paper titled Market Economy and Ethics, he affirms that “market rules function only when a moral consensus exists and sustains them.”

Benedict rejects a capitalism that advances a radically deterministic view of economic life guided purely by market forces. Yet, he reserves his harshest condemnation for the equally deterministic Marxist economic philosophy that makes the “fundamental error to suppose that a centralized economic system is a moral system in contrast to the mechanistic system of the market economy.”

Benedict concludes by calling for a “self-criticism of the Christian confessions” on political and economic ethics:

A morality that believes itself able to dispense with the technical knowledge of economic laws is not morality but moralism. As such, it is the antithesis of morality. A scientific approach that believes itself capable of managing without an ethos misunderstands the reality of man. Therefore, it is not scientific. Today, we need a maximum of specialized economic understanding, but also a maximum of ethos so that specialized understanding may enter the service of the right goals.

Blog author: jballor
Thursday, May 5, 2005
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“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:10 NIV).

According to The Christian Post, “On May 22, churches in several parts of the world are planning to hold ‘No Bible’ services where The Bible, even hymn books, over-head-projector slides, or anything else containing Scripture, will be locked away from view.”

The purpose is to illustrate the state of Christians and others across the globe, who do not have the material wealth or resources of the West.

“We hope that No Bible Sunday will help the Christians in the UK appreciate and value the feast of resources God has provided us with from his word. Many people groups only have crumbs,” said Geoff Knott, the Executive Director of WTB in a statement.

Of course it is not only Bible and hymnals that the West has in plenty. Christians in the developed world have the resources to construct huge church buildings, expansions, and other facilities. Often in poorer nations, congregants have no building to gather in, or missionaries struggle with inadequate housing.
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Blog author: jballor
Thursday, May 5, 2005
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On this date, in 1813, Danish philosopher and Christian Søren Kierkegaard was born. Five years later, on this date in 1818, German philospher and atheist Karl Marx was born.

For a rough sketch of where these men fit in the history of philosophy, see this “Flow Chart of Modern Philosophy After Kant.”

A respondent over at Mere Comments gets right to the heart of what the scientific and technological ethos is (i.e., Technopoly):

"If we can do it, it’s right" and "If we can do it, we do it" which resolve to "it’s right if I do it." Always an ethics committee is there to help sear the consciences of those involved.

These are precisely the guiding principles of university ethics panels that permit creation of genetic chimeras, promote embryonic stem cell usage and human cloning and the recent NAS "guidelines."

Does it remind you of anything else? How about the Tower of Babel:

"Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth."

To this I resond,
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD and shun evil.
Proverbs 3:7 (NIV)