Archived Posts April 2013 - Page 13 of 13 | Acton PowerBlog

The High Calling recently posted a helpful video about creativity in the workplace, drawing insights from innovation consultant Barry Saunders.

Saunders notes that, despite our tendency to think of creativity only in terms of artistic expression, creativity is simply about “building ideas.” Pointing to Genesis, he observes that God gave us a clear directive to “go create things,” offering us a “foundational understanding of what we were meant to do and how we were meant to spend our days.”

But getting creative in the workplace can be tough, as Saunders duly notes. Each of us will face unique struggles in bringing our whole selves to the work we do. When it comes to creativity, it means tapping our imaginations, but more fundamentally, it involves aligning those imaginations to the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. Building ideas for our own purposes is one thing, but this next step of obedience and alignment will prove challenging even for the most forward-thinking and out-of-the-box entrepreneurs.

Through this understanding, creativity is ultimately about innovating our way toward better stewardship and sacrifice, submitting our imaginations to the divine and unleashing them toward the service of others. How can we innovate better ways of managing, molding, and growing what God has given us? “All is on loan,” as Lester DeKoster says, so how do we multiply the talents? (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
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Federal judge rules that Dallas’ homeless feeding ordinance violates ministries’ religious freedoms
Robert Wilonsky, Dallas Morning News

For six years the city of Dallas and two ministries have been locked in a legal battle over their right to feed the homeless and hungry wherever and whenever they find them. But at long last, U.S. District Judge Jorge Solis ended that tussle today — for now, at least — by siding with Rip Parker Memorial Homeless Ministry and Big Heart Ministries.

U.S. Private Schools All the Rage for China’s Booming Middle-Class
Zhang Jing, Worldcrunch

In the last five years, the number of Chinese children trying to get into prep schools in the U.S. has soared from just a few hundred to nearly 10,000. Meanwhile, school quotas for foreign students haven’t changed, so it’s getting increasingly difficult for Chinese children to get into American schools.

Hobby Lobby Granted Full Rehearing of Obamacare Abortion Pill Mandate Challenge
Heather Clark, Christian News

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals announced on Friday that Hobby Lobby’s appeal will go before the entire court as per the company’s request. Cases are customarily held before a panel of three judges, except in what are called en banc hearings.

Is Market Failure a Sufficient Condition for Government Intervention?
Art Carden and Steve Horwitz, Library of Economics and Liberty

We don’t exaggerate when we say that sound economic reasoning could have saved tens, if not hundreds, of millions of lives.

Today at Ethika Politika, Fr. Gregory Jensen, a contributor to the PowerBlog as well as other Acton publications, explores the potential of the Orthodox Christian ascetic tradition as a response to the paradox of American individualism:

We come to know each other in our uniqueness “only within the framework of direct personal relationships and communion…. Love is the supreme road to knowledge of the person, because it is an acceptance of the other person as a whole.” Unlike the more theoretical approaches we alluded to above, to say nothing of our own neurotic strivings, love doesn’t “project on the other person” our own “preferences, demands or desires.” Rather love accepts the other as he or she is, “in the fullness of [his or her] uniqueness.” This is also why our highly individualistic culture struggles with a whole range of problems related to sexuality. It is “in the self-transcendence and offering of self that is sexual love” where husband and wife learn to live in mutual acceptance of each other’s uniqueness (Yannaras, p. 23).

For the theological anthropology of the Orthodox Church, “‘person’ and ‘individual’ are opposite in meaning. The individual is the denial or neglect of the distinctiveness of the person” (p. 22). Christian asceticism has as its goal the liberation of the truly personal from the merely individualistic. In the full and proper sense, moreover, the liberty that ascetical struggle offers is not simply an absence of constraints (a “freedom from” if you will) but a “[p]erfection and sanctification” that makes possible the person’s “restoration to the fullness of [his or her] existential possibilities” and so to be what he or she “is called to be — the image and glory of God” (p. 109).

Read more . . .

Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokoamsk

Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk

For Syria’s Christians, it’s a time of great peril and uncertainty. Over the Holy weekend, one Christian in Syria summed up the situation in The New York Times: “Either everything will be O.K. in one year, or there will be no Christians here.”

In Religion & Liberty, Metropolitan Hilarion gives considerable attention to the plight of Christians in Syria and the Middle East. On ecumenical relations, the Metropolitan also talks about the obstacles of a united front for Christianity because of doctrinal liberalism within some Protestant branches, who incessantly rebel against historic Christian teachings. Metropolitan Hilarion is a bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church and chairman of the Department of External Church Relations.

“First Citizen and Antillon” by Samuel Hearne is a timely contribution given the rise of religious persecution in America today. The Charles Carroll of Carrollton and Daniel Dulany debates in 18th century Maryland helped to advance religious freedom in the colonies. Charles Carroll was the only Roman Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence and the last signer to pass away in November of 1832.

Timothy J. Barnett reviews Dennis Prager’s Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph and Bruce Edward Walker reviews Silent Spring at 50: The False Crises of Rachel Carson.

The “In the Liberal Tradition” figure is Metropolitan Phillip II (1507 – 1569). Phillip was a martyred Russian Orthodox monk. His life and courageous testimony serves as an example for Christians everywhere.

One of the most misunderstood and maligned aspects of businesses throughout history and certainly today are profits. Profitable companies and services still stir considerable misunderstanding and even rage in some. Rev. Robert Sirico offers an excerpt on “The Role of Profits” from his book Defending the Free Market.

You can check out all of the content in the R&L issue here. The next issue features an interview with Peter Schweizer on cronyism. Schweizer is a best-selling author and fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Philip at the Solovki monastery

In the most recent issue of Religion & Liberty, the “In the Liberal Tradition” section profiles Metropolitan St. Philip II of Moscow for his defense of faith and freedom in the face of the tyranny of Tsar Ivan IV, known to history as “Ivan the Terrible.” In contrast to Ivan, who used his power to oppress his own people, Philip taught, “He alone can in truth call himself sovereign who is master of himself, who is not subject to his passions and conquers by charity.” Among the many spiritual disciplines of the Orthodox Christian spiritual tradition geared towards freeing a person from being “subject to his passions,” we can see Philip’s love of labor in his many projects at the Solovki monastery in the years before he was made Metropolitan of Moscow. (more…)

If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them. Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need. (Deut. 15:7-8)

As part of its annual summer program series, St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary is producing a conference on poverty on Friday, May 31, and Saturday, June 1. The event, held on St. Vladimir’s campus in Yonkers, N.Y., is being produced in collaboration with the Acton Institute.

The event, which looks at the causes of poverty, how Christians should respond to the poor, and broad questions of social justice, is offered as a tribute to Dn. John Zarras, a 2006 SVOTS graduate who earned his M.Div. degree over a period of several years as a late–vocations student. Deacon John also served as a member of the Board of Trustees and the president of the St. Vladimir’s Seminary Foundation.

If you register online before May 15, the seminary will waive the $50 registration fee.

Speakers include Jay Richards, author of Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute; Susan R. Holman, adjunct lecturer at Episcopal Divinity School, senior writer at Harvard Global Health Institute, and editor of Wealth and Poverty in Early Church and Society; and Michael Matheson Miller, Acton Institute Research Fellow.

When I was twelve my family lived on a small, dry piece of land in rural Texas. Since we lived far outside of any city limits, we couldn’t rely on services like water (we had a well), sewage (we had a septic tank), or sanitation (we had a 12-year-old boy and a 50-gallon burn barrel). Before my weekend free-time could begin, I’d have a list of chores to get done, including burning the week’s trash and burying the ashes in a pit dug in the back field.

forks-garbage-collection-1d60cf213d2f6b3aOne terrible Saturday I learned a valuable lesson about not burning spray paint cans when the wind is gusting at speeds that would get you ticketed in a school zone. The explosion was small but the brush was dry, and the ensuing fire came perilously close to my neighbors on three sides. Fortunately, the intervention of God and the Eastland County Volunteer Fire Department contained the blaze, saving my hide and several homes.

That was the day I gained an undying appreciation for firefighters—and sanitation workers. We don’t fully value the work of “garbagemen” until we have to live without their services.

Considering that urban civilization would degenerate into chaos and disease without their labor, society is shockingly unappreciative of the men and women who maintain our system of sanitation disposal. It’s not surprising, then, that few people are eager for such a career considering the work is thankless, dirty, and dangerous. Indeed, astonishingly dangerous: Sanitation workers have twice the fatality rates of police offers, and nearly seven times the fatality rates of firefighters.

But the work also requires a special type of knowledge and intelligence. Anthropologist Robin Nagle joined the ranks of the underappreciated sanitation workers of New York City and discovered what life in the mysterious world of trash collection was really like:
(more…)

Blog author: jballor
Monday, April 1, 2013
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In the current Acton Commentary, I take a look at what I call a “modern-day Robinson Crusoe,” the survivalist Richard Proenneke of “Alone in the Wilderness” fame.

But as I also note in the piece, there are some other instances of this classic shipwrecked literary device, including the TV show Lost. The basic point of these reflections on community and the human person is that no man is an island, even when they are on an island.

Consider this speech with the conclusion “if we can’t live together, we’re going to die alone,” from Jack Shephard, in Lost episode 1.5, “White Rabbit.”

As the tagline of the “Hang Together” blog reminds us, the dynamic between human sociality and community is at the heart of the American experiment in ordered liberty. As Benjamin Franklin put it, “We must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

Economists did not need psychology to tell them that people can act irrationally and unjustly, says Michael Hendrix. They just needed to listen to theologians:

Why don’t we study the links between the two fields? Both economists and theologians operate on the basis of certain fundamental beliefs on the nature of humanity. They are subjects under the sway of irrationality. They are both, as Michael Jinkins put it, “in the business of constructing belief systems based on faith assumptions, and both of us are subject to irrational forces.”

Economics is a long way off from developing a fully coherent and versatile alternative to the rational actor model. The alternative is a certain bounded rationality, informed at turns by psychology and theology. Individuals become more than creatures bent solely and selfishly on maximizing utility. Humanity is seen as both created and creator, fashioned in the image of God and yet embedded in its fallen nature and institutions. The potential ultimately is for economics to be both a hard science and a social science.

Theology can and should serve as a foundation for interdisciplinary study into economics, especially its behavioral kin. Economics needs to know why humans act the way they do and begin to construct a more complete science that reflects human nature. To be clear, Christian anthropology and secular psychology are not quite on speaking terms, but their contributions to economics may prove far more complimentary than most people think. Groups like the Acton Institute and the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics are blazing a path toward the reconciliation of these disciplines in the economic sphere.

Read more . . .

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, April 1, 2013
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District Court Rejects Challenge to September 11 Cross
Marc DeGirolami, Mirror of Justice

In an opinion issued March 28, the court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment in a case brought by American Atheists, Inc., which challenged the constitutionality of displaying the September 11 cross in a state museum.

Forward, and downhill
John Hayward, RedState

In truth, slippery-slope concerns are perfectly reasonable. They are a standard part of the “progressive” battle plan. A core tenet of progressivism is to take incremental, but irreversible, steps toward the total State.

Markets & Morality from a Biblical Perspective
Hugh Whelchel, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics

In a recent Washington Post article Steven Pearlstein, a professor of public and international affairs at George Mason University, asked the question “Is Capitalism Moral?” His answer, although interesting, seemed incomplete.

An America that is losing faith with religion
Michael Gerson, Washington Post

There is a close relationship between culture and cult — between the shared attitudes and values of a people and their religious views and practices. American culture is increasingly shaped by men and women who would rather sleep in or play golf on a Sunday morning.