Archived Posts 2012 - Page 3 of 112 | Acton PowerBlog

The video below of a second grade teacher in Providence, RI reading his letter of resignation has recently gone semi-viral with over 200,000 views on YouTube.

What I would like to offer here is an Orthodox Christian critique of the anthropological assumptions that separate this teacher from the “edu-crats,” as he terms them, who in his district so strongly championed standardized testing-oriented education at the exclusion of all other methods and aims. (more…)

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Albrecht Dürer - Study of the Christ Child - WGA07039In this day after Christmas edition of Acton Commentary, I take a look at the message the Christ child brings to us, particularly in terms of promoting a culture of birth. In “The Hopes and Fears of All the Years,” I note that “Where evil leaves us speechless, God speaks the Word of hope and salvation.”

The Italian greeting Buon Natale captures this a bit better than the English, “Merry Christmas.”

It struck me that this Christmas season, especially given all of the violent tragedies we’ve seen in America over recent weeks, was a wonderfully appropriate time to reflect on the hope of this birth for our world. The Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck writes evocatively that “the holy family is the example of the Christian home.”

Very often the “culture of life” and the “culture of death” are juxtaposed, but I want to point to particular aspect of that juxtaposition. Life and death are in some sense not precisely coordinate; if by death we mean the point of departure from this world (and in the traditional Christian understanding) the separation of the soul and the body, then the time of birth and death are in some sense more precisely related.

It’s no secret that the developed world in general, and more recently the United States in particular, faces some serious demographic challenges. Much of this has to do with the absence of a culture of life in general, and a culture of birth in particular. The causes are indeed complex; but in a profound way they are spiritual rather than merely economic or political.
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Blog author: ehilton
posted by on Wednesday, December 26, 2012

All good people are concerned about the plight of the poor, and there are a multitude of ways to address this. The umbrella of “social justice” seems to get bigger every year, with Millenium Development Goals, the ONE campaign, and a host of other foreign aid projects that seek to remove the scourge of abject poverty. However, many of these projects overlook one fact: foreign aid doesn’t work.

As PovertyCure‘s Michael Miller has said,

While there are some success stories, aid has been largely ineffective. Now why is that? John Paul II said that “The primary fault of socialism was anthropological in nature.” What he meant was, socialism failed because it got the person wrong. Well, I would argue that aid failed because it gets the person wrong.

Leslie Eastman, of Legal Insurrection, echoes this sentiment in a recent blog post addressing the so-called “fiscal cliff”, stating that the answer to our economic woes is the church, with its focus on subsidiarity, and on the free market. She writes:

Mark Meckler, noted national Tea Party spokesperson and founder of Citizens for Self Governance, recently attended a dinner at the Acton Institute.  The Acton Institute works to promote a free and civil society” characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles.”  A great deal of their efforts are directed at highlighting the benefits of free market to clergy.

“It’s inspiring to know that the Acton Institute exists and is working to effect cultural change in the clergy surrounding the issue of free markets and free societies,” said Meckler.  “The founder of Acton, Father Sirico has written the best book ever on the morality of a free market.  His new book, Defending the Free Market; The Moral Case for a Free Economy, presents a clear and convincing case that a free economy promotes charity, selflessness, and kindness and is the surest route to a moral and socially–just society.”

Knowing that economic justice IS social justice is one step closer to alleviating poverty. Thank you, Legal Insurrection, for helping to spread the word.

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Wednesday, December 26, 2012

12 killed in attacks on two churches in Nigeria
CNN

At least 12 people died in northern Nigeria when attackers raided two churches during Christmas Eve services, police said.

Religious Freedom as a Christian Doctrine
Rick Plasterer, Juicy Ecumenism

That traditional Christian doctrine and morality curtails freedom has been a common theme in the ongoing controversy concerning religion and society in the western world.

Artists, Entertainers and Academics
Wesley Gant, Values & Capitalism

It is all too often that the case for capitalism is made in the wrong way to the wrong audience.

Creativity, Purpose, & Freedom: Three Poverty-Fighting Tools
Anne Bradley, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics

We were created by God to do special things. We are more fully alive in Christ when we are actively, obediently using the gifts he gave us.

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Monday, December 24, 2012

Charity for Our Scrooges
Braxton Boren, The Gospel Coalition

Dickens’s masterpiece speaks powerfully today to a nation divided along lines nearly as deep as the class divisions in Scrooge’s London.

Christmas and the Scandal of Particularity
Brett Bertucio, First Things

The greatest sin, according to the dominant cultural mentality, appears to be this claim to particularity.

Christmas in Bethlehem
OCP News

Israel has taken measures to ensure a safe environment, smooth access and movement for the many worshippers and tourists who come to celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem.

Christmas skirmishes as old as Puritans
Joseph Bottum, Washington Times

In truth, Christmas has always been something that would devour the world, if allowed. How could it not?

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Friday, December 21, 2012

Field Guide to the Hero's JourneyYou don’t have to wait till Christmas to get your present from the Acton Institute. Just head over to Amazon and get a your free Kindle download of the new book, A Field Guide to the Hero’s Journey.

The book, co-authored by Jeff Sandefer and Rev. Robert Sirico, has been called a “the modern ‘how-to’ for entrepreneurs working on accomplishing big things” by Andreas Widmer, and is a terrific book not only for adults but for young people.

The Kindle edition will only be free on Amazon until the end of this weekend, so get your copy soon.

Ave Maria Communications will be presenting a conference on Saturday, January 13, 2013 entitled “Catholic Witness in a Nation Divided.” The conference, hosted by Al Kresta, CEO of Ave Maria Communications and host of “Kresta in the Afternoon”, will be held at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, MI.

The conference hopes to address faith and cultural issues facing Catholics today:

The focus will be ecclesial, that is church focused not politically focused… If the Church and its membership and its teachers truly applied the Church’s teachings on the life issues, defining marriage, religious freedom and immigration what would our church look like? We can best serve this nation by building the Church.

For more information and to buy tickets, go to www.avemariaradio.net.

solar light, developing worldOver a billion people are still using kerosene as a primary fuel source, with over 1.5 million dying annually from issues related to indoor air pollution and kerosene fires. For many in the developing world, solar lamps are a new, inexpensive solution to the problem. A recent piece in The Economist hails solar lamps as the next “mobile phone” for the poor, noting that “its spread is sustainable because it is being driven by market forces, not charity.”

In an article for Christianity Today’s This is Our City project, HOPE International‘s Chris Horst interviews two business leaders from the industry who share how their purpose and direction in providing these products stems from a strong missional orientation toward work and a belief in the power of markets.

For Brian Rants, vice president of marketing for Nokero, a leading solar light company, involvement in the industry came after a fundamental transformation in his thinking:

“I am very surprised to find myself in business,” Rants says. “Business seemed to be a backup plan to being a missionary. Or being a pastor like I thought I would be. It seemed like businesspeople were just ‘extras’ in God’s story, rather than lead or even supporting actors.”

Over the past ten years, Rants worked for a number of nonprofits and churches. After going through graduate school, however, he began to discover the ways enterprise is improving the lives of the poor around the world. Rants excitedly joined Nokero, equipped with a restored vision of vocation. Through leveraging his knack for marketing, Rants fights poverty not just through his volunteerism and philanthropy, but inherently through his work in business. (more…)

Jeff Sandefer, co-author (with Rev. Robert Sirico) of the newly published book, A Field Guide for the Hero’s Journey, has been nominated for Business Professor of the Year by The Economist‘s Economic Intelligence Unit.

Sandefer, a lifelong entrepreneur, now uses his business acumen in teaching both business students and children. One of his adult students shared this about him:

Jeff has this insatiable thirst to build principled entrepreneurs and business leaders that I have never seen in anyone before. His passion to serve the community as well as the classroom is both contagious and inspiring. . . . As a student and alumni, I had my fair share of bumps, scrapes and humbling moments in class, but nothing has prepared me more than Acton and what Jeff instilled in us. The very tools I used in Jeff’s class is [sic] what I am using on a day-to-day basis as a leader and partner in a quickly growing international company.

The award, which comes with a $100,000 prize, requires a professor to be nominated by students. The long list of top nominees is shortened by a judging panel, and the four short-listed professors will engage in a live “teach-off” in March 2013.

Sandefer’s book, published by the Acton Institute, is available for free Kindle download until December 23, 2013, 3 a.m. EST.

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas as Heavenly Economy
Peter J. Leithart, First Things

Since the early centuries of the Church, Christians have thought of giving and receiving gifts as a fitting way to celebrate the Incarnation. The logic is simple: God so loved the world that he gave; so should we.

It’s a Wonderful Country: Pottersville or Bedford Falls?
Carson Holloway, Public Discourse

In the classic Christmas film “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the humane society of Bedford Falls is built on conservative principles, not contemporary liberal ones.

The Case of the Vanishing Orphanage
Christ Horst, Values & Capitalism

This type of story can cultivate skepticism, prompting us to pull back. But it doesn’t have to.

Selfishness, Self-Interest, and Significance
Jay W. Richards, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics

This March, Greg Smith, an executive director at Goldman Sachs, announced his resignation in the pages of The New York Times. His reasoning: the company’s employees and culture had morphed into a gross entity that sidelines the interests of the client in favor of making a quick buck.