Archived Posts 2013 » Page 23 of 167 | Acton PowerBlog

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Wednesday, November 13, 2013

At Least Two Cheers for American Protestants!
John Mark Reynolds, Eidos

As a happy member of an Orthodox Church, I might be able to escape this wrath, but I have always chosen (and still choose) to group myself with Evangelicalism: partly this is out of solidarity, partly because it is true!

Cross Purposes: Catholic Schools and Common Core
Peg Luksik, Crisis Magazine

Is Common Core compatible with Catholic education? Are the concerns being expressed by parents across America just the unfounded worries of the uninformed, or are there real problems with the implementation of Common Core in our Catholic schools?

What Does a “Free Market” in Health Care Look Like? Here’s an Example
Kelsey Harris, The Foundry

Conservatives often talk about the importance of a free market to improve health care quality and lower costs. What would it look like? An example could be found in the development of LASIK surgery.

Are there really 100,000 new Christian martyrs every year?
Ruth Alexander, BBC

It’s often claimed that 100,000 Christians are killed every year because of their religion. Earlier this year, the Vatican called it a credible number. But is it?

RTRFNXLThe HHS contraceptive-abortifacient mandate lost another round last week.

“This is a significant victory for protecting the religious beliefs of individuals and corporations,” said Edward White, Senior Counsel of the ACLJ who is representing a family-run business in Illinois. In a 2-1 decision issued Friday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, the court reversed the federal district court’s denial of a motion for a preliminary injunction and remanded the case for the district court to enter the preliminary injunction.

What is most encouraging about the decision is the reasoning expressed in the majority opinion. The judges think the HHS mandate is ultimately going to be trumped by the right of religious freedom:

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economic-shalom-bolt

[The contest is now closed. The winners are Juan Callejas, Jacqueline Isaacs, and Jeff Wright. Congratulations! Please send your mailing address to joseph@remnantculture.com]

John Bolt’s new book, Economic Shalom, is now available from Christian’s Library Press. The book, which is the final in a four-part series of tradition-specific primers, offers a Reformed approach to faith, work, and economics.

To celebrate, CLP will be giving away three copies of the book. The rules are listed below, and you must comment on this blog post for your name to be in the running.

But first, to whet your appetite, here’s an excerpt from Bolt’s first chapter on whether there is a “Biblical economics”:

A balanced approach to using the Bible to inform our economic life is multifaceted and includes illumination of creation principles, biblical wisdom, a biblical anthropology and eschatology, and the incarnation and example of Christ. Reformed people do not turn to the Bible for specific economic programs or policies, because they believe that these are given in God’s order of creation; we must learn about the specifics of these laws by studying creation and human experience….Reformed people also make use of what they learn from Scripture and use it to understand concrete human experience.

Thus, informed about human nature (that it is created, fallen, and redeemed), and world history (that it is under divine judgment and grace) Reformed Christians form theories and propose policies that will do justice to biblical revelation. We should not say, therefore, that a particular system of economics is “the biblical system”; the best we can do is call attention to features that are consistent with or at odds with a biblical understanding of humanity and the world.

This is precisely what Bolt aims to do, offering a marvelous exploration of how a Reformed theological perspective impacts the way we approach our engagement with the world around us.

There are five ways to enter your name, and you must insert a comment in this blog post for each. The more comments you make, the better your odds: (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Tuesday, November 12, 2013

In every stage of my formal schooling – from high school to college to graduate school – I’ve taken courses in economics. Yet with all that education I still struggle to understand a seemingly simple question: How does the economy actually work?

Sure, I can still draw supply and demand curves or give the equation for GDP (Y = C + I + G + (X − M)). But when it comes to picturing a reasonably functional model of how it all fits together, I’m at a loss. Fortunately, Ray Dalio has come to my rescue.

Dalio is the founder of the “world’s richest and strangest hedge fund” and #31 on Forbes list of richest people in America. But more importantly (at least for our purposes), Dalio is also the creator and narrator of the 30-minute video, “How the Economic Machine Works.”

Dalio’s video is one of the best explanations of economics I’ve ever seen. I’ve watched it twice already and highly recommend setting aside half an hour to watch this entire video.

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lightbulbIn today’s Wired, Microsoft founder Bill Gates shares his thought on how busines, government and philanthropy can make positive changes in the world. Gates makes it clear that he is pro-capitalism:

I am a devout fan of capitalism. It is the best system ever devised for making self-interest serve the wider interest. This system is responsible for many of the great advances that have improved the lives of billions—from airplanes to air-conditioning to computers.

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James O’Keefe with Project Veritas, the videographer who brought about the end of ACORN, has now turned his attention to the folks who are supposed to help sign us up for Obamacare: the “navigators.” In Texas, O’Keefe and his crew went to a navigator site run by the Urban League. There, navigators instructed people to lie about their income, their health status, told them their personal information would not be shared with any other organization, and that the program was “not political.” Some of it was sleight of hand, some of it subterfuge and some of it was outright lies.

Read, “The Truth About Navigators” at National Review Online.

william-taft-speechIn a wide-ranging discussion of the Progressive Era in her new biography of Calvin Coolidge, Amity Shlaes quotes a striking excerpt from a little-known speech by President William Howard Taft.

Given in the middle of the 1912 election, in which Taft competed (poorly) against Woodrow Wilson and former President Teddy Roosevelt, the speech focuses on the predominant themes and schemes of his opponents, handily highlighting their limits.

In a particularly snappy swipe at Roosevelt, who had just recently split from the Republican Party, Taft notes that despite various efforts to form new parties, any rumbling therein is largely driven by the “promise of a panacea,” a top-down fantasy “in which the rich are to be made reasonably poor and the poor reasonably rich, by law.” Instead, Taft argues, we should seek solutions that “bring on complete equality of opportunity,” unleashing individuals and communities to work, create, and collaborate. The bones of civilization are not built, first and foremost, by the bidding of the policymaker’s baton. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Do Libertarians Need God?
Tyler O’Neil, Christian Post

The ideas behind individual freedom, personal responsibility, and basic human rights require something more than materialism, a Christian scholar argued.

The Jubilee and Land Ownership
Steven Wedgeworth, The Calvinist International

The Jubilee laws are an unavoidable feature of any discussion of “Biblical politics” or “Biblical economics.”

Virtue is a Desire Modification Technology
Adam Gurri, The Umlaut

Virtue ethics is concerned with the character of the one making the decision, and in that way is much more like the philosophy of the ancient world than of the modern world.

The Church Must Respond to Religious Persecution
Eric Teetsel, Manhattan Project

To understand how the church must respond, we must first understand what is taking place in the broader culture.

We’ve had a busy couple of weeks at the Acton Institute, hosting a number of events here in Grand Rapids including a couple of Acton Lecture Series presentations. The first of those came on October 15, as we welcomed John Blundell, Visiting Fellow at the Heritage Foundation and Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs. His talk was titled “Ladies for Liberty: Women Who Made a Difference in American History,” and provided a fine overview of a the contribution that women have made to the struggle for liberty in American history. We’re pleased to present video of Blundell’s lecture below.

More: John Blundell spoke once before as part of the Acton Lecture Series, in 2011. You can view his earlier address, “Lessons from Margaret Thatcher,” after the jump. (more…)

The Apostle Peter and Cornelius the centurion

The most recent issue of the Journal of Markets & Morality (16.1) features an updated translation of “The Moral Organization of Humanity as a Whole,” the last chapter of the Russian Orthodox philosopher Vladimir Soloviev’s major work on moral philosophy The Justification of the Good. Writing in 1899, Soloviev offers an insightful reflection on the centurion Cornelius, the first Gentile convert to Christianity (Acts 10), regarding the military vocation and the kingdom of God, appropriate to consider as we celebrate Veterans Day today:

Neither the angel of God nor the apostle Peter, the messenger of the peace of Christ, nor the voice of the Holy Spirit himself suddenly revealed in the ones converted, told the centurion of the Italian cohort that which was, according to the latest notions about Christianity, the most important and urgently necessary thing for this Roman warrior. They did not tell him that in becoming a Christian he must first of all cast away his weapons and without fail renounce military service. There is neither word nor allusion about this ostensibly indispensable condition of Christianity in the whole story, even though the point is precisely about a representative of the army. Renunciation of military service does not at all enter into the New Testament concept of what is required of a secular warrior in order that he become a citizen enjoying full rights in the kingdom of God.

While this may appear to be an argument from silence, Soloviev notes,

When Peter came, Cornelius said to him, “Now, therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things … commanded you by God” [10:33]. But in this all that God commands the apostle to communicate to the Roman warrior for his salvation, there is nothing about military service.

Taking seriously that the Apostle Peter did not leave anything out when he told Cornelius everything he needed to begin the Christian life, the omission of any command to renounce military service is a significant silence. (more…)