Archived Posts November 2012 - Page 5 of 17 | Acton PowerBlog

I just finished re-reading through C.S. Lewis’ “Space Trilogy” and have a Holiday book recommendation for you: the third title in this series, That Hideous Strength.

Certainly all three are fantastic and important reads that incorporate thematic elements relating to theology, philosophy, history, politics, economics and astronomy. It’s “Science Fiction,” but only in the same way that the Bible is “just a bunch of God’s rules.” These three books are bigger than any one genre and the Sci-fi label should not deter a single one of you from digging in.

But the reason I choose to highlight That Hideous Strength here at the blog of an organization dedicated to the advancement of limited government and “the free and virtuous society” is because Lewis tackles these very things in its pages. The novel’s various sub-plots give it its depth and richness, but the “A-story” is that of one progressive organization’s – The National Institute of Coordinated Experiments (or N.I.C.E) – rise to power under the guise of “we simply want to help humanity move forward by centralizing power and allowing our philosopher-kings and experts to run things.”  Sound familiar?

The deification of science. The religion of progress. The manipulation of the electorate via the press. The group-think of intellectuals at prestigious institutions of learning. The bizarre combination of insisting that you speak for the “common man” while at the same time despising him for his common and unsophisticated ways. The mockery of patriotism. The undermining of the Church and the family.

And at the heart of it all: mankind’s pride and defiant, fallen nature. The desire to supplant the Almighty and do what we can to avoid His holy gaze.

I’m telling you, That Hideous Strength is the most important novel you’ve never read. If you care about the things that The Acton Institute cares about, this is your book.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

IMGP2668The estimable Mollie Hemingway has a post up at Ricochet that examines the curious spillover of Black Friday into Thanksgiving Thursday. She writes, “Do Target executives have the right to make employees leave their families to open stores on days when they’ll be home with their families? Of course they do. Should they? Of course not!” Her concern is “that some people are so addicted to shopping that they can’t even take three days off a year.” I think she’s right to conclude that “if you are in any way inclined to shop on Thanksgiving instead of waiting a day for your fix, consider seeking help.”

About this time last year I wrote a piece on this phenomenon, in which I argued that consumers ought to realize the implications of their spending choices: “A variety of polls have shown that the public generally thinks that stores should be closed on Thanksgiving, but they may not always recognize what their shopping habits require of retailers. Shoppers need to realize that they cannot have it both ways. Our decisions have real consequences for the lives of those who work in retail and a host of other industries.”

Religious groups and businesses who, by weight of conscience, are choosing not to participate in the HHS mandate requiring them to provide abortifacients, artificial birth control, sterilization procedures and abortions as part of “health” care coverage, are now faced with massive fines from the government. The fines for non-compliance are $100 per day per employee. For some companies, that means millions in fines.

Eric Baxter, Senior Counsel for The Becket Fund, says

…the mandate places a “significant burden” on religious organizations’ ability to plan, budget and hire.

“Most organizations are already trying to get their insurance plans, for example, in the next year in place,” he said.

The lawyer noted that there is a “great deal of anxiety” because employers are subject to lawsuits from individuals who are not receiving required benefits under their health plans.

“That anxiety is only increasing as the implementation date approaches,” he said.

While some organizations have been given a reprieve from the mandate, there remains a strong sense of confusion among many as to whether or not they will be forced to comply, based on whether they are primarily “religious” or not. For instance, Tyndale House recently won a court case against having to participate in the HHS Mandate, but Hobby Lobby, a retail chain, faced a legal setback in its stance that the mandate violates the owners’ religious convictions.

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver recently told EWTN that

The First Amendment is a promise that no one should have to choose between a public life and their religious integrity. Without the consent of our elected officials, the mandate can change in troubling ways. This kind of unchecked discrimination is dangerous.
Read more on the latest HHS news at the National Catholic Register’s “Becket Fund: Anxieties Mounting over Contraception Mandate.”

Blog author: crobertson
Wednesday, November 21, 2012

In the Autumn 2012 issue of Response, Jeff Van Duzer, wrote an article entitled, “Does Business Matter To God,” on the issue of faith and work. He is a well-respected professor of business law and ethics at Seattle Pacific University who gives a unique look into the role faith plays in business. This entire issue of Response is dedicated to the topics of faith and work. I will write about a few other noteworthy articles over the coming weeks.

Van Duzer starts the article by recounting a conversation he had with his father on the purpose of business. In the middle of his attempt to explain his view on the matter, his dad interrupted him and said:

Jeff, everyone knows what the purpose of business is. The purpose of business is to make money.


A schoolhouse in New England from the 1830s.

According to a recent Pew Center report, “Record levels of bachelor’s degree attainment in 2012 are apparent for most basic demographic groups.” 33% of 25- to 29- year-olds are completing both high school and college. According to the report, this number is up from five years ago and at record levels for the United States in general. But what does it mean? Statistics like these are constantly being produced, but they are no good to us if we do not know how to interpret them. After attending the joint Acton/Liberty Fund conference this past weekend on Acton and Tocqueville, I have Tocqueville on the brain and wonder if, perhaps, he might have some insights that are still relevant today. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pilgrims, Property Rights, & Prosperity
Hugh Whelchel, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics

In their new economic system were planted the seeds of our own free market, which offers incentives for us individually as well as for the mutual benefit of all.

Christian Investors Get Patient With Their Capital
Rob Moll and Rudy Carrasco, Forbes

Now a new movement is well underway that links Christian values and emerging investment opportunities.

Family Christian stores to donate 100 percent of profits to charity under new ownership
Kyle Moroney, Michigan Live

Family Christian will now increase support to its current 25 ministries that benefit widows and orphans scattered throughout 12 countries, with hopes to expand to other Christian-focused charities.

Is Christian Charity Merely Ambulatory?
Keith Pavlischek, Juicy Ecumenism

Ramsey invited us to ask these questions because he believed that the way in which a Christian answered them created in a “fork in the road,” for Christian conscience.

In this week’s Acton Commentary, I take a look at the relationship between sacrifice and self-interest. One of the common complaints against market economies is that they foster selfishness.

But as Paul Heyne points out, it is crucially important to distinguish between self-interest and selfishness: “Many of the most eminent and sophisticated theorists in the economics profession make no effort to distinguish between self-interest and selfishness or between rational behavior and greedy behavior.” The failure to make such a distinction leads to some pretty strange conclusions about the motivations behind human behavior. If you want to know why people work, just look at what they do with the money they earn.

To this end, I also highlight the perspective of Herman Bavinck, who describes the rhythmic relationship between the spheres of family and work:

Through the family God motivates us to work, inspiring, encouraging, and empowering us to work. Through this labor he equips us to survive not for the sake of satisfying our lusts but for the sake of providing for our family before God and with honor, and also to extend the hand of Christian compassion to the poor.

We go out to work to provide for our families, and we return home from work to enjoy and share the fruits of our labors. We do this daily, in fact. There is a deeply intimate connection here in the cycle between home and work, the dual aspects of the cultural mandate: Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and exercise dominion over it.