Archived Posts June 2005 - Page 4 of 8 | Acton PowerBlog

Courtesy the Evangelical Ecologist, “A group called ‘Operation Noah’ has re-written parts of Scripture to fit their climate change message,” and goes on to compare two “versions” of Psalm 24.

I suppose this is just the next logical progression; if Scripture can’t be twisted by some perverse hermeneutic to fit your agenda, just change the text!

Author Ruth Jarman writes, “I hope it doesn’t look sacrilegious to re-write the word of God according to Ruth.” No matter if it actually is sacrilegious…just so it doesn’t look like it.

Otherwise, how would this bit of (unaltered) Scripture apply?

Having been tagged by Kathryn at Suitable for Mixed Company, I duly submit my list within the guidelines of the following (and pledge not to repeat any placed on my initial list):

Imagine that a local philanthropist is hosting an event for local high school students and has asked you to pick out five to ten books to hand out as door prizes. At least one book should be funny and at least one book should provide some history of Western Civilization and at least one book should have some regional connection. The philanthropist doesn’t like foul language (but will allow some four-letter words in context, such as expressed during battle by soldiers). Otherwise things are pretty wide open. What do you pick?

  1. The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis – A must read for anyone currently involved in education, has ever been educated, or has ever thought anything about education.
  2. The Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison – The most formative book of my high school years, I will try to sneak this one past the censors (I can’t recall if the profanity, if there is any, meets the requirement of appropriate “context”).

  3. Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold – “A classic of nature writing,” I’ll submit this as one with some regional connection (Wisconsin).
  4. Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, Twentieth Anniversary Edition, Ron Sider – This applies to the twentieth anniversary update only…a challenging, authentic, and worthy call to Christian living, with at least some economic sensitivity.
  5. A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, Kate Turabian – A necessary resource for any student.
  6. Ecumenical Creeds and Reformed Confessions, CRC Publications – This one I submit as providing background primary texts for the formation of Western civilization.
  7. Clan of the Cave Bear, Jean Auel – The first in Auel’s fiction series, Earth’s Children.
  8. The Art of Rhetoric, Aristotle – An oft-overlooked classic text.
  9. The Boy Who Looked Like Shirley Temple, Bill Mahan – Read this as a youth, and it stands out as one of the funniest books I’ve ever read (this one too might have trouble making it past the censors, however. I recall the boy having a foul mouth).
  10. A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle – Although a children’s book, worth reading at any and all ages.

I tag Bunnie Diehl, Stacy Harp, and Josh.

Blog author: jballor
Monday, June 20, 2005

The first Acton Institute Summer Symposium was held last week, and John H. Armstrong, president of Reformation & Revival Ministries, gives a report. Here’s an excerpt:

The group I am attending is titled, “Business, Faith and Ethics.” It is part of Acton’s Center for Entrepreneurial Stewardship. I have been in a room with twenty-five successful business entrepreneurs and one other mission related person, a leader in the Christian Reformed Church. This is not my normal venue so it has been fun to sit back, say very little, and seek to better understand a world quite apart from my own Christian non-profit mission.

In response to the title of this post, you might reply: “Who cares?” I’ll tell you why you should perhaps care who these guys are and where they are. Matt and Brandon are two Michigan natives who have committed to running across the continental U.S. These two Christians (Brandon is a freshman at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, and Matt teaches at Montego Bay Christian Academy in Jamaica) are making the run for charity, Water for Children Africa.

I’ve never heard of the charity, but I do know that access to clean water is one of the most pressing issues facing the poor in developing nations today. And on the positive side, there are three water-based policy projects that are rated as “Good” by the Copenhagen Consensus 2004.

Matt and Brandon’s journey began on May 24th, and as of yesterday they were in Anderson, IN. Visit Run Across The for more information.

This post at a blog hosted by the Ratzinger Fan Club, Against the Grain, gives a brief overview of the “preferential option for the poor” in Catholic Social Teaching. In the process, Christopher writes,

Fr. Robert Sirico’s approach strikes me as being suprisingly close to Dorothy Day’s — at least in spirit, if not in policy. Browse through her extensive writings and you’ll encounter a strong believer in personal responsibility and self-empowerment, highly critical of state-sanctioned welfare and handouts which leave the poor in a state of dependency.

Contrary to the Catholic Workers of today who indulge in either general dismissals or denunciations of ‘the neocons’, I believe Ms. Day would have the desire and the capacity to truly listen to somebody like Fr. Sirico, or Michael Novak for that matter. They may not see eye to eye on the merits of the free market, but it’s likely that they would have discovered common ground in an appreciation of the personalism and social thought of Pope John Paul II.

As noted in an earlier post, this week is marks the 790th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta. Five years ago, Religion & Liberty published a series of essays on foundational documents in the history of Western civilization, or, as Edmund Burke called it, "this fierce spirit of liberty." The first of these essays was on the Magna Carta, "In the Meadow That Is Called Runnymede." Here are the others:

Blog author: jballor
Thursday, June 16, 2005

Recent news about debt relief for poor African nations might give the impression that governmental corruption, inefficiency, and irresponsibility are unique to developing countries. This is simply not so.

Take, for example, the situation of the United States government. As of June 14, 2005, the total outstanding U.S. public debt is $7,804,534,405,437.48. That amounts to a share of debt for each U.S. citizen of just over $26,000.

Blog author: jballor
Thursday, June 16, 2005

With the G8 countries preparing to cancel $40 billion in debt owed by several African countries, a fresh start is promised. But what has really changed?

Check out Acton commentary related to African aid and debt forgiveness at our “Aid to Africa” special section. Here you can find an interview with the Rt. Rev. Bernard Njoroge, bishop of the diocese of Nairobi in the Episcopal Church of Africa, and a member of the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission, and Chansi Chanda, chairman of the Institute of Freedom for the Study of Human Dignity in Kitwe, Zambia. In this insightful interview, these two African leaders discuss the debt cancellation agreement and the moral nature of business.

Blog author: jcouretas
Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Reuven Hammer writes about the rabbinic interpretation of the Ten Commandments in a Jerusalem Post article titled, “On Judaism: True Freedom.” He talks about a contemporary understanding of freedom as something that is simply free of all constraint.

We moderns tend to see freedom as the ability to do whatever we want whenever we want and to view any limitations on that as tyranny or slavery. The rabbis seem to be saying exactly the opposite. They see true freedom as residing within self-imposed discipline. Consider the Ten Commandments. They indeed limit our “freedom.” If we observe them, we are not free to rob, murder, commit adultery, abuse or abandon our parents and so forth. The teaching of the rabbis is that only when we accept these limitations have we attained freedom from the urges to do the things that enslave us to our baser selves. By exchanging slavery to our instincts for slavery to the will of God, we attain freedom.

Hammer’s exposition recalls the famous quote of Lord Acton: “Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right of being able to do what we ought.”

Blog author: jballor
Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The book tag meme has made the rounds of the blogosphere, and here I was sitting, eagerly awaiting someone to tag me. This will have to do. Thanks to Jimmy Akin for tagging “all the bloggers reading this who haven’t already been infected by the meme.”

  • Total number of books I own: In the hundreds. We just moved so many are still in boxes, and I haven’t counted recently. But I tend not to get rid of a book if I paid for it unless I’m sure I’ll never need to reference it again. Although this might make me change that policy.

  • The last book I bought: Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Ethics, the new critical translation and edition from the most excellent Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works.
  • The last book I read was: The last book I read and finished (I have many in various stages of progress) was Stanley Hauerwas’ Performing the Faith: Bonhoeffer and the Practice Nonviolence. It was pretty much an odious book, bereft of actual scholarship on Bonhoeffer, making the title very misleading. To get a sense of it, here’s an excerpt from an interview Hauerwas did about the book: Speaking of Bonhoeffer, if he had lived, “people would have been very surprised by his conservative theological position — and by conservative I mean only that he was thoroughly orthodox in his convictions and Barthian all the way down.” I wouldn’t have thought it would be possible to be orthodox and Barthian “all the way down,” but that’s essentially Hauerwas’ read of Bonhoeffer, quickly dismissing or ignoring any counterevidence and reading him as an utter pacifistic disciple of Barth. A review of the book is forthcoming in the next issue of the Journal of Markets & Morality.
  • Five books that mean a lot to me: We’ve mentioned Bonhoeffer enough, so I’ll refrain from mentioning any of his books.
    1. Henderson the Rain King, by Saul Bellow. I first read this in college and it was a revolutionary experience.
    2. Grendel, by John Gardner. A hilariously entertaining and irreverent existentialist romp, from the perspective of Beowulf’s nemesis.
    3. J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. These books were an early and formative foray into moral fantasy.
    4. The Book of Concord. My examination of these texts led me from membership in the Lutheran church to become a confessing member of the CRC and adherent to the Reformed confessions.
    5. Church History: An Introduction to Research, Reference Works, and Methods, by James E. Bradley and Richard A. Muller. An indispensible resource for learning the methods and practice of scholarship, both in general and from an historical theology perspective.

As stated above, everyone is tagged, so we’re all it! You can read some other interesting lists here, here, and here.