Archived Posts January 2013 - Page 7 of 14 | Acton PowerBlog

Acton Institute Research Director Samuel Gregg was recently featured on three different radio shows. He discussed Becoming Europe as well as the complications resulting from a growing religious diversity in Europe.

Gregg was the featured on KSGF Mornings with Nick Reed as the author of the week, discussing Becoming Europe. Listen to the full interview here:

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He also discussed Becoming Europe on the  Bob Dutko Show.  Listen here:

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Al Kresta interviewed Gregg on Kresta in the Afternoon, in order to discuss a recent statement by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States in the Roman Curia.  He sad that the growing religious diversity in European society has produced a “corresponding hardening of secularism.” Gregg and Kresta address problems in Europe relating to secularism, pluralism, and a growing loss of rule of law. Listen to the interview here:

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If you would like to know more about or purchase a copy of Becoming Europe, click here.

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Friday, January 18, 2013

The Heritage Foundation recently interviewed Michigan businessman and entrepreneur Dick DeVos, a former candidate for governor, about how Michigan was able to pass their Right-to-Work law and what lessons conservatives can take away from the victory as they make the case for freedom.

When we think of markets, we may conjure up a picture of goods and services production, supply and demand economics, and freedom of exchange. This of course is an accurate depiction, but what if in addition to this, the marketplace is actually divinely inspired and can be utilized to fulfill God’s mission?

In the upcoming AU Online four-part lecture series, Building a Marketplace Theology: From Conception to Execution of an Evangelistic Marketplace Practicum, serial entrepreneur David Doty will explore this idea. The series is scheduled for January 22 through January 31. Online sessions will be held at 6 pm EST on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Visit auonline.acton.org for more information and to register.

For additional material on the marketplace as a reflection of God’s plan and its effectiveness as a poverty alleviation tool, check out the newly released PovertyCure DVD Series, a project of the Acton Institute.

The Good Rich and What They Cost Us, Robert Dalzell Jr.In a new book, The Good Rich and What They Cost Us, Robert Dalzell Jr. aims to address “a great paradox at the core of the American Dream: a passionate belief in the principles of democracy combined with an equally passionate celebration of wealth.”

In a review for the Wall Street Journal, Amity Shlaes notes that although the book provides an in-depth look at the history of American philanthropy, the author’s own personal prescriptions lend too high a trust to government redistribution:

“The Good Rich” starts out like a tour through a portrait gallery, describing rather than judging. For much of his narrative, Mr. Dalzell refrains from giving his own opinion explicitly and reports merely that the rich have often blamed themselves for their lapses or oversize good fortune, or that their peers did.

Toward the book’s end, though, Mr. Dalzell drops his own screen, putting forward a familiar argument: that democracy suffers unless wealth and philanthropy are redistributed to reduce economic inequality. Even the “good rich” cost us: They don’t give wisely, Mr. Dalzell contends, spending too much on “elite institutions like Harvard, Yale, MIT and Princeton, which seems unlikely to reduce the income gap by much.” …For the sake of the public good, then, the rich must fashion better charity projects while handing over more of their money to the government.

Such philanthropic efforts deserve to be thoroughly examined. Likewise, from the poorest of us to the wealthiest, we should be energetic in examining our own activities, using discernment and wisdom in how we use our resources. But as Shlaes indicates, if it’s difficult for we individuals to wrestle with these deep questions about stewardship — particularly when we’re calling on the Divine for wisdom, as many philanthropists under Dalzell’s microscope claim to have done — how much more difficult will it be for a bloated government machine to utilize proper discernment? (more…)

The winter issue of Leadership Journal is on vocation and callings. In the lead editorial, managing editor Drew Dyck reminds us that while it’s important to affirm the calling of lawyers, journalists, and plumbers, we need to remember that being a pastor is a calling too:

I applaud this move toward a more holistic understanding of vocation. I’ve seen numerous books on the topic published in the past few years. Conferences are springing up. What’s most heartening is to see some churches, like Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York, launching programs to help parishioners think theologically about their vocations. We still have a long way to go, but things are changing. And I’m thankful. Yet amid the excitement to affirm all vocations, I want to offer this caveat. Let’s not forget to also honor the call to full-time ministry.

Since graduating from seminary six years ago, I can’t think of one former classmate who is now a pastor. For many young Christians today, going into missions or the pastorate is now the second-class option. Doing social work, starting a charity, or working for an NGO—those are the cool vocations. Next to such endeavors the ancient, plodding work of shepherding a congregation seems passé to many. That worries me. If the Christians of yesteryear exalted ministry vocations to unhealthy heights, I fear the pendulum may now be swinging too far in the opposite direction.

Read more . . .

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Friday, January 18, 2013

Gleaning – A Guide to Christian Charity?
Andrew Spencer, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics

There are several important points wrapped up in the practice of gleaning which are significantly different than how assistance for the poor is often conducted today.

Egyptian court sentences Christian family to 15 years for converting from Islam
Benjamin Weinthal, Fox News

The 15-year prison sentence given to a woman and her seven children by an Egyptian court for converting to Christianity is a sign of things to come, according to alarmed human rights advocates who say the nation’s Islamist government is bad news for Christians in the North African country.

Work, What is it Good For?
Emily DeBaun, Fare Forward

If work is part of God’s plan for us, why is it so laborious? That’s one of the questions Tim Keller implicitly sets out to answer in his book Every Good Endeavor, a timely read that is shaping my New Years’ thinking.

Another Study Confirms: Head Start Doesn’t Work
Rachel Sheffield, The Foundry

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) just released its latest batch of Head Start data, revealing, once again, that its students are receiving far less than a “head start.”

Yesterday, while his lawyers were busy defending against charges that the Obama administration violated the religious freedoms of his fellow citizens, President Obama was designating January 17 as Religious Freedom Day.

Religious-Freedom-protesters560x350The author of the The Audacity of Hope has the audacity to hope that Americans will not snicker at the idea that he’s a defender of religious liberty. In his proclamation, Obama says,

Today, we also remember that religious liberty is not just an American right; it is a universal human right to be protected here at home and across the globe. This freedom is an essential part of human dignity, and without it our world cannot know lasting peace.

To be fair, Religious Freedom Day is proclaimed every year, so Obama really had no choice but to say that religious liberty is a universal human right that should be protected—even while his administration works tirelessly to undermine the religious liberty freedoms of Americans.
(more…)

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Thursday, January 17, 2013

There are some amazing economic and moral lessons, related to redistribution, zeo-sum fallacies, as well as virtue and desire, embedded in this Sesame Street video:

Can you think of any other ways that both Ernie and Cookie Monster might have been able to be happy instead of sad? And what if the object in question weren’t a cookie, but instead something like an apple, perhaps?

In my cautionary post on the constant temptation to indulge in earthbound economics, I mentioned that even seemingly noble, intangible features such as “happiness” can be just as futile and vain when pursued on our own terms and for our own limited purposes.

If we don’t order and define things properly, the “pursuit of happiness” can easily distract us away from our eternal quest for widespread spiritual transformation. As the author of Ecclesiastes points out, when “testing ourselves” with mere pleasure—even the pleasure of “toil”—all is ultimately “vanity and a striving after the wind.”

In an article for The Atlantic, Emily Esfahani Smith offers some fascinating insights on this broader intersection of happiness and meaning, building initially off of psychiatrist and neurologist Viktor Frankl, who believed that “it is the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness.”

This is why some researchers are cautioning against the pursuit of mere happiness. In a new study, which will be published this year in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Positive Psychology, psychological scientists asked nearly 400 Americans aged 18 to 78 whether they thought their lives were meaningful and/or happy. Examining their self-reported attitudes toward meaning, happiness, and many other variables — like stress levels, spending patterns, and having children — over a month-long period, the researchers found that a meaningful life and happy life overlap in certain ways, but are ultimately very different. Leading a happy life, the psychologists found, is associated with being a “taker” while leading a meaningful life corresponds with being a “giver.”

“Happiness without meaning characterizes a relatively shallow, self-absorbed or even selfish life, in which things go well, needs and desire are easily satisfied, and difficult or taxing entanglements are avoided,” the authors write…

…”Happy people get a lot of joy from receiving benefits from others while people leading meaningful lives get a lot of joy from giving to others,” explained Kathleen Vohs, one of the authors of the study, in a recent presentation at the University of Pennsylvania. In other words, meaning transcends the self while happiness is all about giving the self what it wants. People who have high meaning in their lives are more likely to help others in need… (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Thursday, January 17, 2013

Vatican official: Armstrong’s misdeeds reflect ‘rotten’ cycling world
Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service

“It’s a world that is rotten, all of cycling, even soccer,” said Msgr. Melchor Sanchez de Toca Alameda, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture’s “Culture and Sport” section.

Remembering an Eastern Orthodox Prophet: Nicholas Berdyaev
Bradley J. Birzer, The Imaginative Conservative

In volume 3 of The Gulag, Solzhenitsyn wrote simply: Berdyaev was a “philosopher, essayist, brilliant defender of human freedom against ideology.”

Dignity, Equality and Atticus Finch
Wesley Gant, Values & Capitalism

A proper respect for human dignity should recognize and encourage personal industry and responsibility—for it is this freedom that enables people to flourish and realize their human potential.

The Art of Humanity
Jonathan Jackson, Ancient Faith Radio

Jonathan Jackson is an Emmy Award winning actor and is currently one of the stars of the new ABC primetime drama, Nashville.