Archived Posts January 2007 - Page 4 of 9 | Acton PowerBlog

This is one of the images I see on days I drive home from school:

Yes, that’s a shared storefront for a health spa featuring “rub downs” and “American” girls, along with an adult “super store.” Nothing untoward about that connection. Nope, nothing at all.

And even though it touts “American” girls, this parlor isn’t located in a country like Thailand, which was noted by the US State Department as “a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor.”

In a statement in 2004, Mohamed Y. Mattar, Co-Director of the Protection Project of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, talked about cases in which “massage parlors have been shut down after it was discovered that they were fronts for houses of prostitution. The women working in those establishments did not have massage therapist licenses and traveled from New Orleans to Atlanta, Houston, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Boston, New York, Biloxi (Mississippi) and Grand Rapids (Michigan) to engage in prostitution.”

And as the icing on the cake, these shops are located on this street:

The adventure in cognitive dissonance leading to a street named “Division” to become the site for honoring Martin Luther King Jr. is a whole other story. At least they got one thing right: MLK is “above” division.

Blog author: sgrabill
Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Duncan Foley’s new book, Adam’s Fallacy, is the latest installment among the critics of free-market economics to spin economic history according to the received wisdom of today’s Center-Left intelligentsia. Lest this statement be too harsh, let it be shown that Foley himself reports that his intention in writing the book is not to get bogged down in historical and textual analysis of the key economic texts of the last three-hundred years but to tell his own “imaginatively reconstructed” account of the broad sweep of modern economic history.

If you tend to be a “splitter” as opposed to a “lumper” where historical figures and key texts are concerned, you should heed Foley’s admonition and be warned that Adam’s Fallacy is his “own take on economics and exploits the great figures in the history of political economy shamelessly for [his] own ends.” If your ends don’t happen to match Foley’s ends, then you may find yourself disgruntled like me. But, at the very least, you can take heart that you were warned twice, once by Foley and once by me.

Blog author: dphelps
Wednesday, January 17, 2007

There is no ordering of the state so just that it can eliminate the need for a service of love. Whoever wants to eliminate love is preparing to eliminate man as such.

Deus Caritas Est

Last weekend I had the joy of sharing in a special meeting in Newport Beach, California, that was appropriately named the Issachar Project. This small project is the work, primarily, of my friend Andrew Sandlin of the Center for Cultural Leadership. Andrew is convinced that there must be an intellectual and existential coalition of (1) Christians working in Hollywood and elsewhere in the film industry and (2) serious Christian thinkers in the arts.

You may recall that the sons of Issachar are described in the Scriptures as “men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chronicles 12:32). Their number was small but their impact was great. This unique gathering included men and women, mostly under forty. The purpose of this group was not to form a “think tank” but rather to explore the neglected dimension of knowing God through beauty and imagination, in other words to explore how we know him incarnationally, not merely intellectually.

Most of the invited participants at this unusual meeting were film and television script writers, producers, teachers of the arts and reviewers. We heard four presentations on subjects like how Genesis 1 provides a storyline for narrative, how we should understand Acts 17 as it relates to the Mars Hill context of our times, and why we should watch films in the first place. Brian Godawa, author of the outstanding, and highly recommended new book Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films With Wisdom & Discernment (InterVarsity Press), was a major contributor to the event, as was Jack Hafer, who produced the fantastic feature film, “To End All War.” (more…)

I feel FINE!

There’s nothing like a few dreary Michigan winter days to get me into a midwinter funk. And because I’m a nice guy, I thought I’d share some of my funkyness with you, gentle reader. Especially if you’re in a warmer climate.

First of all, David Warren notes that the foundations of society in Canada are still under assault:

The names of the plaintiffs in that case were suppressed by the court. I would be very curious to know who they were. Media reports have implied it was a perfectly normal new post-modern “loving” family unit, in which the child would benefit from the attention of two lesbian moms and one “natural” (i.e. sperm-donating) dad. But I will bet my pension they were in fact activists, recruited or volunteering for the cause. We’ll see: for despite the incuriosity of our liberal media, the truth will out eventually. And it will be important that future generations, who inherit the social catastrophe that must follow from the destruction of the nuclear family, will be able to learn not just what was done through the courts while our generation slept, but how it was done to avoid waking us.

A civilized mind, heir to the deep “Judaeo-Christian” tradition, is filled with horror at the thought of polygamy, which we associate with primitive tribes, and by extension with many other barbarous practices suppressed in Christendom centuries ago. Yet the intelligent student of social history will realize that nothing human is finally suppressed, and that the most primitive behaviour may suddenly revive, usually under some new guise of sophistry. It is why the civilized must be always vigilant — not only against barbarians on their frontiers, but against barbarous desires arising within their own breasts.

If only the barbarians were outside the frontiers

what happens when “moderate” Muslims stop being polite and start getting real.

It’s not pretty. On the one hand, you have the cultural relativists, who insist that right and wrong are nothing but social constructs, devoid of any real meaning except to the individual who defines what they are. As a result, anything goes – all lifestyles, cultures, religions and philosophies are equal, and the foundations of western society are no longer worth defending. On the other hand, you have radical Islamists, who seem more than happy to exploit the freedoms of the West in order to destroy it from within. It’s the perfect storm…

Blog author: jballor
Tuesday, January 16, 2007

One of ABC’s new dramas, Brothers & Sisters, features Calista Flockhart as a hard-hitting conservative pundit named Kitty Walker.

Despite its title, the show is not all that family friendly (although it has not yet been rated by the Parents Television Council). But for this post, I won’t be focusing on the questionable social and sexual mores of the show. Instead, I’m going to focus on an aspect of the show’s portrayal of politics.

“Politics is about the privilege and the honor of taking care of people.”

In the most recent episode, “Sexual Politics,” Kitty has taken a job as a political adviser to Sen. Robert McCallister, played by Rob Lowe. McCallister is a young and handsome political star from California and is styled as “a John McCain-style Republican.”

Here’s a speech he gives to a group of ladies and donors (My comments are in brackets. The full episode is available for viewing at here by clicking on the Brothers & Sisters graphic and selecting the episode marked 1/14/07. McCallister’s speech begins at approximately the 01:22 mark of the show):

I barely left the house most Sundays [not even to go to church?!]. My mom would cook elaborate dinners for neighbors, friends, and sometimes people we barely knew. By ten I could whip up a perfect meringue, to glaze a pan, dress chicken [these last two may be terms for particular dishes and I probably have not gotten them right].

But by the time puberty rolled around I’d had enough. Football, friends seemed more important. So I told her I was done. I was a guy, I didn’t want to spend Sundays in the kitchen with my mom. And you know what she said? She told me that someday I would realize that taking care of people is not masculine or feminine. It’s a privilege and it’s an honor. And she was right.

And one day I realized that politics is about the privilege and the honor of taking care of people, of making certain that the weak are protected, the poor are sheltered, and the hungry fed. My mother passed away six years ago, but I work every day to honor her memory in politics and in my kitchen. Thank you very much.

This captures pretty well the spirit of big government conservatism, as represented in real life by some other California Republicans. In such a view, it is the task of government to “take care of people,” periphrasis for a nanny State if I ever heard one. Indeed, politics are about sheltering the poor and feeding the hungry, taking care of people who obviously can’t take care of themselves. It’s not about empowerment but about infantilization.

Contrast this with a rather different view of politics, as portrayed in the words of Lord Acton, one that doesn’t arrogate politicking to the status of the highest possible human endeavor:

There are many things the government can’t do – many good purposes it must renounce. It must leave them to the enterprise of others. It cannot feed the people. It cannot enrich the people. It cannot teach the people. It cannot convert the people.

In Acton’s view, the highest purpose for the government is to promote and protect liberty, which is itself only a precondition for virtuous living.

“There are many things the government can’t do – many good purposes it must renounce.”

This leaves room for a vibrant civil society, represented in McCallister’s speech by the kitchen image. But do you see how in McCallister’s speech the role of the kitchen was subsumed, or rather consumed, by politics? Politics is the nanny, but the kitchen is the mommy.

I’m not necessarily a huge fan of the Pledge of Allegiance, and would find it highly difficult to square such a pledge with Christian doctrine if the qualifier “under God” were removed.

But the concluding words of the pledge do get one thing right and that is the necessary relationship between liberty and justice. You can’t have one without the other, for justice grows from the foundation of liberty. And indeed the ideal of this nation is the realization of “liberty and justice for all.”

Blog author: dwbosch
Monday, January 15, 2007

Environmental Justice Blog: "If Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. was alive today he would be an environmental justice activist."

Perhaps. MLK went to Memphis in 1968 on a mission for black garbage workers demanding equal pay and better work conditions. He was killed before he got there. 15 years later, black activists would stop a hazardous waste landfill in Warren County, North Carolina, often pointed to as the beginning of the environmental justice movement.

Are the two related? Sure. Martin transformed civil rights, and his agena might have included environmental justice eventually. But I think his priority (like that of his protege, the Rev. Jesse Jackson) was always people, not pollution.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. (read on…) (more…)