Archived Posts June 2008 - Page 3 of 4 | Acton PowerBlog

Blog author: jballor
Friday, June 13, 2008
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We’re wrapping up the final day of classes here at Acton University 2008. Check out some of the initial reactions to Day 3 proceedings below.

To be updated as more final day posts and overall reflections roll in.

Blog author: jballor
Thursday, June 12, 2008
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Acton University 2008 is in full gear as we proceed with the second full day of classes. Our staff is working hard at capturing audio from the conference, which you can keep abreast of here.

And our attendees are continuing their excellent work in their commitments to attend each session and bring critically thoughtful engagement with the topics. Highlights of the blogging from Day 2 include:

As in our previous blogger round-ups, if you’ve got a post that should be included, let us know by dropping us a line in the comment boxes below.

The WSJ reports, to the relief of the White House and Capitol Hill, no doubt: “U.S. retail sales increased in May, rising double the rate expected in a sign consumers were using stimulus payments and that the economy might not be as weak as feared.” Whether or not this is really evidence of the “success” of the government stimulus package, you can be sure that it will be proclaimed as such from on high over the next days and weeks.

We can have a good debate about the best place to send your charitable dollars (and the Samaritan Guide is a great place to start that conversation), but at least here’s an example of someone who didn’t run right out and buy an air conditioner or a flat-panel HDTV.

(Marc, it looks like the government’s fears may have been misplaced. You can finally rest easy.)

Rebecca Hagelin of the Heritage Foundation picks up on my thoughts on consumerism and capitalism and expands on them helpfully in a Townhall.com column.

We should all take her observations about stewardship to heart. I have been a student and a leader of Crown Financial Ministries curriculum, and during my time at Calvin Seminary was even part of a study group to suggest revisions of the curriculum to better reflect Reformed theological sensitivities. I’ve also recently gone through one of Dave Ramsey’s books.

If you’re struggling with debt and controlling your spending, invest your time in one of these or another practical and biblically-grounded guides to responsible financial stewardship.

And speaking of stewardship, participants in this year’s Acton University get the privilege of hearing Dr. Scott Preissler, who is Eklund Professor and Chair of Stewardship at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He’s giving a talk on “Stewardship and Charitable Giving.” Acton’s own Stephen Grabill is giving a lecture titled “A Theology of Stewardship.” And as his ActonU bio states, you should keep your eyes peeled in coming months for the forthcoming Stewardship Resource Bible: ESV, of which Dr. Grabill is the general editor.

Blog author: jballor
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
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A number of bloggers have begun posting their summaries, thoughts, and reactions to the first day of sessions at Acton University 2008. Below is a list, which will be updated periodically throughout the day.

If you have a post that ought to listed, please note it in the comments below and I’ll add it to our watch list.

“ … what is virtue if not the free choice of what is good?” — Alexis de Tocqueville

Acton University, the four-day exploration of the intellectual foundations of a free society, opens today in Grand Rapids. This event has grown rapidly since its inception in 2005. This year’s AU, which will integrate course instruction in philosophy, Christian theology and economics, is drawing nearly 400 attendees from 51 countries. The schedule features more than 57 courses and 20 discussion and networking sessions, ranging from small seminars to evening lectures. Check out the course schedule here.

Kresta in the Afternoon, Ave Maria Radio’s flagship national production, will be broadcasting live from AU from Wednesday, June 11 through Friday, June 13. For those of you who cannot pick up the broadcast signal, you can listen live on the Ave Maria site as host Al Kresta interviews AU speakers and attendees.

AU’s expert faculty for 2008 hails from 6 continents. A few featured lecturers and speakers include:

Lord Brian Griffiths, Vice-Chairman of Goldman Sachs International and former advisor to Margaret Thatcher. He has served as a lecturer in economics for the London School of Economics at the University of London, the director of the Bank of England and the dean of the business school at City University. He has also written numerous articles and books.

Rev. John Nunes, President of Lutheran World Relief. For over 25 years he has worked as a speaker, musician, writer, youth director, pastor and professor. A research associate for Urban Ministry to Wheat Ridge Ministries and author of Voices from the City. Lutheran World Relief works with partners in 35 countries to help people grow food, improve health, strengthen communities, end conflict and recover from disasters.

Mr. Mustafa Akyol, deputy editor and columnist for Turkish Daily News, Turkey’s foremost English-language daily. His writings have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, International Herald Tribune, The Weekly Standard and First Things. His focus is the relation between Islam and modernity.

Rev. Robert A. Sirico, president and co-founder of the Acton Institute regularly lectures both in the United States and around the world. His writings have appeared in various journals, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Forbes, National Review, The Financial Times, and Crisis.

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, well known economist and Acton Senior Fellow, who is heading up a course series on Marriage and the Family. She has been on the faculty of Yale University and George Mason University, and is the author of Love and Economics: Why the Laissez-Faire Family doesn’t work.

Acton also welcomes its many blogger friends to AU. Over at What Does the Prayer Really Say?, Fr. Z is already blogging about AU and his visit to the Gerald R. Ford Museum.

On the Mere Orthodoxy blog, Tex is promising live blogging from AU. Yeah, Tex!

Check back for updates on the PowerBlog as AU week rolls out.

Blog author: kschmiesing
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
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It might seem like ancient political history to younger readers, but once upon a time there was a Republican Speaker of the House named Newt Gingrich and a Democratic President named Bill Clinton. A new book by Steven Gillon, The Pact, claims that the two ostensibly bitter enemies made a promising but ultimately abortive attempt to reform Social Security and Medicare.

As one who has contributed modestly to that quixotic quest (here, most recently), I was fascinated by this interview with Gillon as he talks about the main subject of his book.

The BBC is reporting that the Indian state of Maharashtra plans to construct a statue on an artificial island off the coast of Bombay (HT: Zondervan>To the Point).

“The statue will be of the Maratha warrior king Shivaji, considered a hero in Maharashtra for his defiance of Mughal and British forces.”

The officials apparently have in mind a rival for the American Statue of Liberty: “Vishal Dhage, a state government official, said the statue would be about the same height as the Statue of Liberty – which, with plinth included, stands at 305ft (92.69m).”

But where the Statue of Liberty was intended in part as a sign of international friendship and, later on, as a symbol of welcome to immigrants. In 1903, Emma Lazarus’ poem “The New Colossus” was posted on a bronze plaque standing inside the Statue of Liberty. The poem reads in part:

Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

That’s a far cry from some of the symbolism behind a modern Indian statue of Shivaji: “King Shivaji is an icon adopted by the militant right-wing Maharashtra group, Shiv Sena, which says more should be done to promote the rights of ‘local’ people in the state rather than ‘outsiders’.”

If the US hasn’t always been as welcoming to distressed and oppressed immigrants, at least since 1903 it has had an ideal to aspire to.

The Archbishop of York Dr. John Sentamu has some notable comments regarding compassion and consumerism in this BBC article. The Church of England leader is fearful that religious charity and compassion is being crowded out and under utilized. “Human rights without the safeguarding of a God-reference tends to set up rights which trump others’ rights when the mood music changes,” he says.

The Archbishop also criticized calls for removal of religion from the public square, saying it would usher in rampant consumerism. You can read the Archbishop’s address entirety at this blog. Surely, you may find disagreement with some of his words, but also a clear truth in a lot of his critique.

The Anglican leader has also made recent news because of a charitable parachute jump he plans to make in support of British soldiers killed and wounded in Afghanistan.

Blog author: jballor
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
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A good hump day timewaster: APM’s Budget Hero.

Try to achieve the national security, efficient government, and economic stimulus badges all at the same time. I couldn’t on my first try, although I admit I was leaning much more heavily on the “efficient government” side of the ledger. Plus there were all the built-in biases to deal with…