Archived Posts October 2006 - Page 6 of 9 | Acton PowerBlog

A brief bit of Herman Bavinck, taken from his Beginselen der psychologie, 2d. ed. (Kampen: Kok, 1923); English translation Foundations of Psychology, trans. trans. Jack Vanden Born (M.C.S. Thesis: Calvin College, 1981). p. 92:

The freedom with which imagination brings forward its creation is, however, not a lawlessness. Unbridled fantasy produces only the outrageous. As fantasy is objectively, albeit indirectly, bound to the elements of the visible world, so it must subjectively be under the control of understanding. It must be led by moral ideas especially. But within these limitations fantasy is a splendid capacity.

See also, “The Morality of Narrative Imagination.”

Blog author: jballor
Friday, October 13, 2006

Dignan’s 75 Year Plan is now Good Will Hinton (after a manner of speaking…details on the change here).

Our blogroll will be updated just as soon as BlogRolling cooperates.

“Rest on the Flight to Egypt,” from the Matthaus Evangelium. From the collection
of Edward and Diane Knippers. By Otto Dix.

Five Talents International, a ministry which aims to “to fight poverty, create jobs and transform lives by empowering the poor in developing countries using innovative savings and microcredit programs, business training and spiritual development,” is sponsoring an art auction beginning this coming Monday, Oct. 16.

“A Helping Hand: Artists’ Exhibition and Sale,” is an online silent art auction, with the proceeds devoted toward the creation of the Knippers Eduation Fund. The newly established fund will “provide scholarships for the next generation of church leaders, missionaries and poor entrepreneurs, who are living or working in developing countries, with business and management tools needed to transform their communities and churches.”

The fund is named in memory of Diane Knippers, a Five Talents founding board member who coined the organization’s name and president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. Time magazine named Diane one of the 25 most influential evangelicals in the United States in 2005.
Here’s the agenda for the auction:

Starting Monday, Oct. 16, bids for paintings, sculptures and original prints will be accepted online at Featured art will include the works of nationally recognized artists such as Sandra Bowden; Tim Botts; Tanja Butler; Bruce Herman; Ed Knippers; Dean Larson; Nathaniel Mather; Dorsey McHugh; Sam Nash; John Olsen; Ted Prescott; Karen Swenholt; and David Zuck, among others. Works by Marc Chagall, Otto Dix, and a page from the Nuremberg Chronicle will also be included.

The online auction will close at 5 p.m. EST on Friday, Nov. 10 and culminate with a silent auction and reception on Saturday, Nov. 11, at the Foxhall Gallery, 3301 New Mexico Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. The auction and reception will be from 5:30 to 9 p.m.

More details are available here.

Blog author: jballor
Friday, October 13, 2006

David Roberts of Grist magazine, responding to his recent read of George Monbiot’s new book Heat, wrote about skeptics of climate change:

When we’ve finally gotten serious about global warming, when the impacts are really hitting us and we’re in a full worldwide scramble to minimize the damage, we should have war crimes trials for these bastards — some sort of climate Nuremberg.

Following this, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works issued a statement calling Roberts to task and deemed his comments to be part of a broader movement, noting a “new found penchant by environmentalists and some media members to charge skeptics of human caused catastrophic global warming with ‘crimes against humanity’ and urge Nuremberg-style prosecution of them.”

Roberts later responds by saying that he “was, as might be obvious, rather angry,” and that “Too often, this kind of thing is treated like a partisan political squabble, a game of rhetorical sparring between the ‘sides’ of a debate.” Not much rhetorical about calling for Nuremburg-style criminal tribunals, though, eh?

Yesterday the New York Times editorialized and took Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, to task, “He accuses scientists and the media of hysteria. But if there is such a thing as a hysteria of doubt, then Mr. Inhofe is its master.” Might the Times editorial staff be amenable to the sorts of trials Roberts called for?

If the scientific case is so rock solid and the consensus is so sure, why are climate change believers so worried about criticism? Are they truly that thin-skinned? Or is the evidence perhaps not as airtight as they would have us believe?

Talk about an affront to a free and open public debate.

Over at Jim Wallis’ Beliefnet blog, Ron Sider reflects on his interpretation of the landmark text, “For the Health of the Nation: An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility,” issued by the National Association of Evangelicals.

Citing the line, “faithful evangelical civic engagement must champion a biblically balanced agenda,” Sider concludes that of the seven areas the document addresses (religious freedom, family, sanctity of human life, justice for the poor, human rights, peace and creation care), “This document refuses to lift out one area to ‘value most.’ It says they all are on God’s heart and therefore central to faithful evangelical civic engagement.”

If we are to take this to mean that each of these seven areas of moral concern, and presumably more could be added, are of equal weight, we must ask whether or not this assertion coheres with the Bible’s own view. Could the evangelical search for a “biblically balanced agenda” in fact distort the teaching of Scripture?

Maybe so. To say, for example, that it is just as much the State’s role to provide direct assistance to the poor as it is “to bring punishment on the wrongdoer” (Romans 13:4 NIV) does not adequately reflect the true and primary role of the State in administering retributive justice.

It is equally as wrong-headed to assert that the provision “for the proper care of wildlife and their natural habitats” (as important as doing such is), is equally fundamental and important as legal recognition of the right to life.

Jesus did acknowledge that there are greater and lesser matters of the law. It often calls for prudential wisdom to discern the difference. But every aspect of the moral order is not equally weighty.

We are told that we as human beings “are worth more than many sparrows.” If Ron Sider is right in his interpretation, then despite my evangelical sympathies in many other areas, I would have to side against the NAE document and with John Paul II, who affirmed that the right to life is “the first of the fundamental rights,” the basis and foundation of all other human rights.

…civil law must ensure that all members of society enjoy respect for certain fundamental rights which innately belong to the person, rights which every positive law must recognize and guarantee. First and fundamental among these is the inviolable right to life of every innocent human being.

For more on abortion and Catholic Social Teaching, see this interview with Rev. Thomas D. Williams.

It has become popular for evangelicals like Ron Sider and Jim Wallis to often cull the sources of Catholic Social Teaching for validation of their views. We evangelicals would do well to reckon with the essential insight of the basicality of the right to life.

This truth might well mean that a truly “biblically balanced” agenda is one that is radically weighted toward the protection of the sanctity of human life.

Blog author: jspalink
Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Rev. Robert Sirico comments on California’s Proposition 86, a measure which would nearly triple state tobacco taxes to fund health care initiatives. “It is true, of course, that governments always act on moral premises of some sort,” he writes. “Punishing crimes against person and property are acts of moral sanction. But on the taxation of cigarettes, we have seen that numerous faith leaders and religious groups are more than willing to cede their responsibility for moral leadership to the government.”

Read the full commentary here.

Blog author: kschmiesing
Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A while ago, I reported Damon Linker’s turn against his erstwhile colleagues at First Things. Now The New Republic online (free registration required) features an unusually productive and revealing debate between Linker and Atlantic Monthly‘s Ross Douthat on the threat, or lack thereof, posed by “theocons” such as Richard John Neuhaus (and the Acton Institute?).

I especially enjoyed their exchange on the role of religion in historical American social movements, which Douthat got the better of. This passage comes in the context of Douthat’s argument that the use of religious argumentation is hardly unusual in American history and that many political accomplishments that are widely considered beneficial would have been impossible, or at least more difficult, without it:

But the fact remains that the advocates of racial equality didn’t defend their ideals in secular-civic terms–or at least not nearly as often as they defended them in terms of the Christian morality that most of their fellow American shared. And they wouldn’t have succeeded without precisely these kinds of religious appeals, which were crucial to building white American support for black America’s civil rights…. I’m happy to concede that religious believers might benefit, at times, from couching their political arguments in nonreligious terms. But the deal you’re offering, in which religious Americans are supposed to abandon appeals that have the capacity to stir not only the reason of their fellow citizens, but their consciences and souls as well, sounds like a fool’s bargain to me.