Archived Posts April 2013 » Page 5 of 13 | Acton PowerBlog

I recently argued that although vocation is important, there is a certain something that goes before and beyond it. As Lester DeKoster puts it, “The meaning we seek has to be in work itself.”

Over at Think Christian, John Van Sloten puts forth something similar, focusing on our efforts to work for the common good— something not altogether separate from vocation:

There’s a lot of talk in faith/work circles about the idea of working for the common good – for the good of your neighbor, city, company, classmate, family member, environment and world.

It’s a good idea and an integral part of a balanced vocational worldview. But I think it falls short. And it’s not all that work is meant to be. In fact, sometimes it gets in the way.

Sometimes working for the common good is an impediment to what is work’s primary purpose: a real-time knowing and experience of God. Sometimes working for the common good becomes a works-based means of vocational salvation. And life with God becomes something that’s based on what we do for God as opposed to who we are before Him…

…Work must first be a gratitude-based response to a grace-filled encounter with our co-working God. It must be a place where we experience the presence of, are swept away by the creativity of, are enthralled by the beauty of, are humbled by the service of and are blown away by the mind of … God. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Friday, April 19, 2013

Ambition Explains America: From Benjamin Franklin to Ronald Reagan
Rich Danker, Public Discourse

As an essential part of our character and a reason for our nation’s exceptionalism, ambition in America has been portrayed both as a sentiment to be contained and a virtue to be cultivated.

Material Problems Have Moral Solutions
Nicholas Freiling, Values & Capitalism

Is material prosperity the key to moral improvement? For Marxists, the answer is yes (as explained in my last post). In fact, according to Marx’s narrative, the moral and social ills of society are directly attributable to their material poverty. The only way to improve moral life, then, is to first improve economic conditions. But history tells a different story.

What Can Jesus Teach Us About Our Work?
Andrew Spencer, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics

Jesus clearly demonstrated what life was supposed to be like. In terms of the four-chapter gospel, he gave us a foretaste of the restoration for which we long. Jesus also gave us a picture of what a heavenly citizen would do.

The Right Way to Reduce Inequality
Seth Mandel, Commentary

The most recent Gallup poll, which shows a majority of Americans believe that some of their neighbors have too much money and that the government should therefore confiscate and redistribute some of it, is likely to please the president, who based his reelection campaign on class resentment.

1. It’s truly international. Last year, we hosted 800+ people from over 70 countries.

2. You can create your own curriculum. Whether you’re interested in business, poverty alleviation and development, economics, history, social thought, urban ministry… just read the list of courses for yourself. You’ll find great stuff there.

2-1/2. We eat really well.

3. There is plenty of time to network, socialize and enjoy meeting all those people from all over the world.

4. The student fee is ridiculously low. Check it out. We love to have students add to the mix of attendees.

5. The featured speakers alone are worth attending, but we also have an astute global faculty.

6. You still have time to register.

Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary and the Acton Institute are co-hosting a “Conference on Poverty,” May 31–June 1, on the seminary campus.

Conference speakers include Jay W. Richards, author of Money, Greed, and God, and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute; Susan R. Holman, senior writer at Harvard Global Health Institute, and author of The Hungry are Dying: Beggars in Roman Cappadocia and God Knows There’s Need: Christian Responses to Poverty; and Michael Matheson Miller, Acton Institute Research Fellow and Director and Host of the Poverty Cure DVD Series.

For on-line registration, visit here. The $50.00 registration fee will be waived for those registering on-line before May 15.

Rev. Robert Sirico was recently featured in El Salvador’s newspaper El Diaro de Hoy. Consuelo Interiano interviewed him about the free market, and social mortgage.

Sirico begins by saying that private property isn’t just important for businesses to thrive, it’s absolutely necessary for their existence. He goes on to say that businesses and private companies are the best way to help individuals escape poverty. Companies, large or small, create opportunities for work and offer individuals a means to elevate themselves out of poverty.

John Paul II said the Church “has consistently taught that there is a ‘social mortgage’ on all private property.” For those not familiar with the term ‘social mortgage,’ it refers to the conditions under which people may use God’s creation.  In other words, if you have private poverty you have a duty to be productive with it. Sirico responds to this by saying that the free market is a means to productivity and therefore social mortgage. He explains that one should not assume that the Catholic Church promotes socialism or communism.The duty of social mortgage falls on the shoulder of private property (which does not exist in these economic systems). He  goes on:

My defense of the free market is not a defense of crony capitalism, not a defense of mercantilism, not a defense of banks or entrepreneurs who buy the courts, who buy the states, because these people act exactly against the free market.

Rev. Sirico bases his explanations of the free market and the role of businesses on the book of Genesis. It says that human beings were created in order to exercise creativity and rule over all of creation.

To read the full article in Spanish, please visit ElSalvador.com.

 

Leading religion commentator, Terry Mattingly looks back on Easter in an article about Catholics attending services despite the overcrowding from “Poinsettia and Lily Catholics,” those who only attend a Mass on Christmas and Easter.

He describes how the influx of those attending mass affects Catholics who faithfully attend church every Sunday. He says:

“I really am glad that they’re there,” wrote Fisher. “It’s got to be better than never going to Mass, and I do believe that the Holy Spirit could easily use that opportunity to send a powerful word, a lingering image, a stray idea into the mind or heart of a fallen-away Catholic, and a casual visit that was made just out of habit, or to please someone’s grandma, might be the first step to coming back home to the faith. And yeah, they’re not being reverent. Neither am I, by going through the motions while grumbling in my heart. (more…)

Nobody can know everything about everything, but in the age of the internet, fact-checking isn’t too tough. It’s one thing for a high-school student to attempt to slide by on “facts” in a research paper for sophomore social studies, but another when professional journalists make errors about easily investigated pieces of knowledge.

Lately, the media has been getting blasted for getting the facts wrong about religion. Carl M. Cannon:

The upshot during Holy Week this year was a spate of news reports so inaccurate and off-key that they comprised a kind of impromptu “Gong Show.” (more…)

New research suggests that school vouchers have a greater impact on whether black students attend college than small class sizes or effective teachers:

Matthew M. Chingos of the Brookings Institution and Paul E. Peterson, director of Harvard’s program on education policy and governance, tracked college enrollment information for students who participated in the School Choice Scholarship program, which began in 1997. They were able to get college enrollment information on 2,637 of the 2,666 students in the original cohort.

The researchers compared the outcome for 1,358 students who received a voucher offer and a control group of 1,279 students who did not. They found that 26 percent of black students in the control group attended college full-time for some period of time within three years of expected high school graduation, while 33 percent of those who received vouchers did.

Read more . . .

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Thursday, April 18, 2013

Religion: A Public or a Private Right?
Susan Hanssen, Public Discourse

Our public debate about religious liberty is missing a clear definition of religion. The absence of that definition has generated confusion, frustration, shrill voices, and short tempers.

Subsidies For Big Hollywood Hurt Middle Class
Jarrett Skorup, AFF Doublethink Online

Along with 43 other states, Michigan offers a government incentive program for movie producers.

Choice Drives Quality in Education
Bob Behning, U.S. News and World Report

School vouchers give families access to an education regardless of income or zip code.

A Wealth-Creating Vs. A Wealth-Hoarding Culture
Jay W. Richards, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics

A wealth-creating culture can be a sign of human flourishing, especially when a culture once in extreme poverty begins to create enough wealth to move beyond destitution.

Over at the National Catholic Reporter, Michael Sean Winters makes some comments about my book Becoming Europe based on a review he had read by Fr. C.J. McCloskey. Here are the most pertinent of his observations:

I know that American exceptionalism lives on both the left and the right, but when did the right become so Europhobic? And why? National Catholic Register has a review of a new book by the Acton Institute’s Samuel Gregg entitled Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, & How America Can Avoid a European Future. I confess, come August, when Europeans sensibly take the month off and head to the beach or the mountains for time with their families, I am envious of them, not scornful. When I look at Europe’s lower rates of income inequality, I am envious, not scornful. When I look at the creative ways Germany minimized unemployment during the recent economic downturn, I was deeply envious.

Of course, given the fact that Gregg works for the libertarian Acton Institute, where the false god of the market is worshipped day in and day out, it should not surprise that he misses the Catholic and Christian roots of the modern social welfare state as it exists in Europe.  And the fact that Rev. C. John McCloskey misunderstands the Christian roots of the modern social welfare state shows the degree to which some members of the Catholic clergy have bought into what can best be described as the Glenn Beck narrative of the relationship of faith and culture.

Alas, Mr. Winters apparently hasn’t actually read the book. Because if he had, he would know that Becoming Europe (1) notes several good economic things happening in Europe (such as in Germany and Sweden) and (2) addresses at considerable length the various Catholic and Christian contributions to the development of European welfare states and the European social model more generally. In the case of the latter, I’d direct his attention to Chapters 2 and 3 of Becoming Europe where these matters are discussed extensively. The point is that it is always prudent to perhaps read a book before venturing criticisms of its arguments.

Then there is the label of “libertarian.” Again, if Mr. Winters took a moment to read a few of my writings, he’d know that, in books such as On Ordered Liberty, I‘ve articulated critiques of libertarian thought, especially with regard to the way that libertarian thinkers approach, for instance, moral questions. Figures such as Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, and Milton Friedman have many interesting economic insights. But I have always viewed their philosophical positions (which include, among others, commitments to nominalism, epicurism, utilitarianism, social-evolutionism, and social contractarianism) to be less-than-adequate. In many ways, their conceptions of the human person are virtually indistinguishable from modern liberals such as John Rawls. (more…)