Archived Posts February 2007 - Page 5 of 8 | Acton PowerBlog

Blog author: mvandermaas
Monday, February 12, 2007

Well, it’s happened. Ellen Goodman, writing last week in the Boston Globe, effectively ended the debate over climate change by invoking the most dreaded comparison of all:

I would like to say we’re at a point where global warming is impossible to deny. Let’s just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers, though one denies the past and the other denies the present and future.

This time, the sky really IS falling! Sincerely, Chicken Little

All-righty, then. One reasonable question: do those of us who are skeptical of the climate-change consensus now have the ability to claim ultimate victory in the debate by invoking Godwin’s Law? I leave it to you, gentle reader, to decide.

Meanwhile, David Warren has written a series of good columns in recent weeks on the latest fashionable doomsday scenario:

We have, I confidently predict, a repeat of the “ozone layer” imposture. The ozone layer is like a cloud in the upper atmosphere, that thickens and thins, disappears and reappears, constantly. But by selective readings of it, a scare was put about that, “The ozone layer is shrinking!” That controversy has itself blown over, because there was nothing to it. Likewise, the extrapolation of long-term trends from short-term temperature variations will blow over. The studies only misstate a truism: that the earth’s climates are in constant flux. (It was warmer in Europe in the 13th century, than the IPCC now predicts it will become by the 22nd. Was that caused by uncontrolled CO2 emissions from rampant industrialization in the earlier Middle Ages?)

The good news is, that it should not take long for the latest environmental scare to join the “ozone layer”, “global winter”, the Club of Rome forecasts, and many other crocks on the shard-heap of history. The bad is, it will be succeeded by more Chicken-Little expostulations, with the same propagandist theme: “Unless the planet is delivered immediately into the iron embrace of the environmental bureaucracies, we’re all going to die!”

Read the whole thing, and when you’re done, just keep clicking down the sidebar for a rollicking good series of commentaries.

Blog author: jballor
Monday, February 12, 2007

Travis Sinquefield at Disorganizational Behavior examines this Washington Post article on new parts of an annual survey given to government workers.

Among the new statements the employees were asked to evaluate was this: “Pay raises depend on how well employees perform their jobs.” Only 22 percent of the respondents agreed with this statement, while 45 percent disagreed (25 percent were neutral).

John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said that a performance-based system of rewards would not work in the federal system, in part because “most federal workers don’t trust a system by which they would be compensated or receive raises based on how they are judged on their performance by their managers.”

As Travis observes, it says something bad about “a workplace and its management if the employees don’t trust their managers to give honest, objective performance reviews.”

Your tax dollars are at work to ensure, to use the words of Clay Johnson III, deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, that “every employee, from unsatisfactory to outstanding, gets the same annual raise.”

Blog author: jballor
Monday, February 12, 2007

Most of our talk at Acton about educational choice addresses K-12 programs, i.e., the public schools. There already exists a great deal of choice at the levels of higher ed, and so they are not of the most immediate concern.

But the issues I raised earlier this month about the integration of faith and learning are just as relevant in the realm of higher ed as they are in secondary education. Here’s what David Claerbaut, author of Faith and Learning on the Edge: A Bold New Look at Religion in Higher Education, has to say:

There is a distinctly Christian view of what life is all about, about the nature of humankind, about what our purposes ought to be, and about where we are headed eternally. To dance away from these distinctives is to marginalize faith as an element in the learning process.

Today’s Zondervan>To the Point features this quote as well as a link to this piece from Inside Higher Ed, “Spiritual Accountability.”

Blog author: jarmstrong
Friday, February 9, 2007

Our religious and political rights are uniquely bound up together. Most young Americans, and far too many older native born American citizens, have little or no idea how important this truth really is.

The central idea behind this unique relationship in American political understanding is limited government. This is really what classical liberalism understood and fervently practiced. Modern liberalism has little or nothing to do with this understanding, preferring to stress ideologies that are neither truly liberal nor limited.

The founding fathers fervently believed that we were all created equal, with inherent rights to life and liberty given to us by God. This belief was rooted in both Judeo-Christian beliefs and some elements of Enlightenment philosophy. The securing of these rights was the very basis for a limited government. And a limited government was based upon the understanding that true power arose from the governed who were willing to consent to a just government.

There were some very big differences of opinion among our founding fathers, such as two very different views of America’s future as represented by Jefferson and Hamilton. In some ways these two distinct views clashed in the Civil War, as North and South came to represent these two differing positions. But regardless of these early differences what clearly united the founders was a deep respect for individual rights and for limited government. (more…)

Blog author: dwbosch
Friday, February 9, 2007

Coming to a stadium near you (HT)

A series of concerts "bigger than Live Aid" is being planned for July, in a bid to put the subject of climate change before an audience of a global audience of 2bn. The event, scheduled for July 7, will feature co-ordinated film, music and television events in seven cities including London, Washington DC, Shanghai, Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town and Kyoto, with major broadcasters and media owners aiming to extend the reach of public awareness of global warming. It is understood that former US vice-president Al Gore, whose movie An Inconvenient Truth brought climate change to cinema audiences last year, will announce the event tomorrow in London. The organisers hope to involve up to 2.5m people in events and link-ups at the cities involved, as well as other locations. They are promising a line-up of artists to "dwarf" that of the Live8 and Live Aid concerts, thought to be branded under the name "SOS".

Our Brit friends and Climate Change Now get credit for starting (then stopping) this a year ago, by the way.

Think back a moment. Geldof and his compatriots burned gobs of fossil fuel to raise about $300 million for Ethiopian relief 15 years ago. Not an insiginficant amount. Some went to NGOs. A sizeable chunk went to corrupt governments and military juntas. Recreating Woodstock (a brief environmental nightmare in its own right) on a larger scale really changed Ethiopia, well, not much at all.

Here at home Willie and the boys have done Farm Aid concerts every year or so since then. They raise a couple million at a whack for farmers that are getting billions annually in subsidies.

For you people who accuse me of hating the atmosphere, tell me what a "bigger than Live Aid" event is actually going to do for the climate. Don’t feed me that "raise awareness" hokum; folks in a position (as they say) to do something about it are already plenty aware. How much of what SOSers take in must be spent on carbon indulgences CO2 offsets?

Here’s the inconvenient truth: SOS = A global church service with millions of worshipping faithful, resplendent with choirs, paying of penances, and heaps of fire and brimstone from a shiny-suited, sweaty, purple-faced Al Gore in the pulpit.

And plenty of passing the offering plate.

[Don’s other habitat is]

Blog author: jballor
Friday, February 9, 2007

I’m a bit behind on this story, but as was reported by numerous media outlets over the past few months, a new trend has begun at some American churches. ATM machines, dubbed “Automatic Tithing Machines,” are appearing at some Protestant churches in the South. The machines are administered by the for-profit business SecureGive, run by Pastor Marty Baker and his wife, who integrated the machines at their Stevens Creek Community Church in 2005.

Proponents point to the transition to a digital age and the convenience of electronic transactions. Stevens Creek Community attendee Josh Marshall said of using the machines, “I paid for gas today with a card, and got lunch with one. This is really no different.”

Amy Forrest said this, “If you give cash, you think about it. And if you swipe a credit card, you don’t. It makes it easier to type that 4-0.”

These attitudes may not be truly representative, but they at the very least illustrate the potential for the convenience offered by these machines to turn faithful giving into something that is unreflective, automatic, mundane, and worldly. That’s certainly not the kind of giving that God wants.

Baker says of his concept, “It’s truly like an ATM for Jesus.” (more…)

In this month’s issue of Christianity Today, John D. Beckett, chairman of the privately held R. W. Beckett Corporation, speaks about his new book, Mastering Monday: A Guide to Integrating Faith and Work.

When asked, “Do you think churches still don’t understand business as a calling?” Beckett responds,

I do. Relatively few churches and pastors are reinforcing the legitimacy of a call into so-called “secular work.” I have colleagues with tremendous business influence who are starving spiritually in their local churches. There’s zero feeding; there’s zero reinforcing of the call they have in the marketplace.

There’s still much work to be done. Check out the trailer for Acton’s forthcoming documentary, “The Call of the Entrepreneur” here.