March for Life(1)Imagine if the government were to tell an organization dedicated to veganism that, because of a new mandate, they must purchase a meat platter to serve at their monthly meetings and that the chair cushions in their conference room must be made of leather.

Appalled by this governmental intrusion, the vegans ask to be excluded from the mandate since none of their members wish to eat bologna while sitting on dead cow skin. They also point out that a group of Jain vegetarians who meet next door were given an exemption and that they are merely asking to be treated similarly.

The government considers their request and decides to deny the exemption. The reason? Unlike the Jains, the vegans’ objection is based on moral philosophy rather than religion.

Such reasoning would be morally and legally absurd. Yet it is the exact reason the Obama administration gave for denying an exemption from the HHS’s abortifacient mandate to March for Life, a non-religious, non-profit pro-life organization whose staff opposes all forms of abortion, including those caused by contraceptives that can act as abortifacients.
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Blog author: jsunde
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
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creativity-capitalism-money-crashCapitalism is routinely castigated as an enemy of the arts, with much of the finger-pointing bent toward monsters of profit and efficiency. Other critiques take aim at more systemic features, fearing that the type of industrialization that markets sometimes tend toward will inevitably detach artists from healthy social contexts, sucking dry any potential for flourishing as a result.

But what if the opposite is true? I offer the argument over at The Federalist.

Free economies introduce their own unique challenges for artists and consumers alike. We are justified in cringing at the array of bottom-dollar record-company execs and merchandising-obsessed Hollywood crackpots (though I will always prefer their ilk to your run-of-the-mill Commissar of the Arts). But the increases in economic empowerment that have led to these many marketing machines have also led to plenty of artistic empowerment in turn.

In an article for New York Times Magazine, Steven Johnson reinforces this very point, observing that the many apocalyptic prophecies about arts in the digital age have not quite manifested. “In the digital economy, it was supposed to be impossible to make money by making art,” he writes. “Instead, creative careers are thriving — but in complicated and unexpected ways.” (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
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Why are Black and Hispanic Evangelicals More Favorable Toward the Prosperity Gospel?
Joe Carter, TGC

A new survey finds that black and Hispanic evangelicals are more likely than white evangelicals to say they have a favorable view of “prosperity gospel” preachers, believe wealth is a sign of God’s favor, and believe that prayer can improve their wealth.

The dharma of dollars: What Buddhism says about money and meaning
Reuters

Buddhism, which holds that wealth is temporary and no path to happiness, might not sound like the best source for money wisdom. Not so, says Ethan Nichtern, the prominent Buddhist teacher, who has written a new book, “The Road Home,” on self-awareness and spiritual seeking.

The Link Between Political and Economic Freedom
Julius Kairey, The Daily Signal

More than 50 years ago, Milton Friedman’s seminal work “Capitalism and Freedom” reminded Americans of the founding principles that made us greatest nation on Earth (economic and political freedom, individualism, and the rule of law).

Let’s hear our next president’s views on poverty
Angela Rachidi, AEI Ideas

More than five years into the economic recovery, the rate of families in poverty is still worse than before President Obama took office. Our next president should articulate an approach that will do better.

Pope Francis recently announced a “year of mercy,” making it easier for the Catholic Church to forgive women for having abortions. Acton’s President and Co-founder Robert Sirico went on WSJ Live to discuss this. Watch below:

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
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sky-psalm192The mission of the Acton Institute is to promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles. We seek to articulate a vision of society that is both free and virtuous, the end of which is human flourishing.

That phrase—“human flourishing”—has become such a buzzword, though, that it’s in danger of losing any real meaning. As Scott Swain says, “Due to its widespread usage across our culture, its susceptibility to multiple meanings, and its role in theological revision, some Christians have begun to disparage the language of human flourishing. I think this is the wrong tactic to take.”

The church has a stake in human flourishing, says Swain. Rather than discard the term, we should rescue and restore the concept:

The challenge for the church is therefore to define and promote human flourishing (which we might otherwise describe as human well-being, human happiness) in accordance with biblical teaching, to present and commend its alternative approach to human flourishing in the face of competing cultural visions, and to embody human flourishing in the presence of God amid a culture of death and destruction. Christian theology has a role to play in assisting the church to meet this challenge.

Christian theology has a lot to say about human flourishing. Following the instruction of Holy Scripture, Christian theology instructs us about human flourishing by instructing us about human nature and about human nature’s relationship to law and gospel.

Swain argues that “we may appreciate the true character of human flourishing by looking at Psalm 19.”
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The Acton Institute has been named as one of six finalists for this year’s $100,000 Templeton Freedom Award for its documentary film, Poverty, Inc. The announcement of the finalists was made Monday by the Atlas Network, a Washington-based organization that advances the work of market-oriented public policy organizations all over the world. The winner will be selected Nov. 12 in New York.

Atlas’ description of Poverty, Inc. says the documentary “provides a comprehensive perspective on the issue, giving voice to charity workers, local micro-entrepreneurs, politicians, and leading development experts such as Paul Collier of Oxford University, Marcela Escobari of Harvard University’s Center for International Development, and Hernando de Soto of Atlas Network partner the Institute for Liberty and Democracy. This film is part of Acton Institute’s multi-year educational initiative, PovertyCure, which also includes a dedicated website, a group study curriculum, a mentorship program, and a ReThink Missions toolkit.”

Kris Mauren, executive director of the Acton Institute, said that on issues of international development and foreign aid, the United States is at a tipping point. (more…)

Blog author: bwalker
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
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5 Interesting Facts About The Christian Faith of Martin O’Malley
Ray Nothstine, Christian Post

O’Malley, a lifelong Catholic, grew up in an Irish Catholic home in Maryland and attended Catholic schools all the way through college. After college, he graduated from the University of Maryland School of Law. He is the only Roman Catholic presidential candidate on record of supporting Pope Francis’s encyclical on climate change.

22 Pope Francis Statements Proving He’s a Leftist
Mike Garcia, NewsMax

Pope Francis upset many conservatives when he released his encyclical on climate change this summer, but it’s certainly not the first time he’s raised eyebrows. The pontiff’s past comments on homosexuality, capitalism, and international geopolitics have also ruffled those on the right.

Faith Digest, Aug. 28, 2015: Forum to focus on Pope Francis’ Encyclical
Santa Cruz Sentinel

The forum will include brief presentations from three distinguished local authorities followed by questions and comments from the audience. Presenters will include Keith Warner, a Franciscan friar with a doctorate in environmental studies; Jeffrey Kiehl, head of Climate Change Research Section of the National Center for Atmospheric Research; and Andrew Szasz: chairmann of the Environmental Studies Department at UC Santa Cruz.

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Pope Francis recently declared September 1 as the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, an annual day of prayer begun by the Orthodox Church in 1989.

In conjunction with the event, Catholic Relief Services and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have released “Care for God’s Creation,” the first of a seven-part video series on Catholic social teaching.

(Via: Crux)

Enlightenment-920x383In a recent article for The Stream, Acton’s Director of Research, Samuel Gregg asks the question, “Is Catholicism Compatible with the American Experiment?” Gregg cites an article by political philosopher Patrick Deneen who suggested that “the main argument among American Catholics will concern the relationship of modern liberal democracies–and, at a deeper level, the American Founding–with Catholicism.” Gregg doesn’t necessarily disagree with this assertion, but argues that it “reaches further back to the early modern period often called the Enlightenment.”

The Enlightenment was hugely influential on the American founding:

Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, for instance, sharply disagreed on many subjects, but all their serious biographers concur that both were profoundly shaped by Enlightenment writers.

The intellectual developments associated with the Enlightenment shared an emphasis on (1) asking every belief and institution to justify itself rationally, and (2) applying the tools associated with the scientific method to as many spheres of life as possible. This focus on natural philosophy and the natural sciences was especially influenced by Sir Isaac Newton’s Principia (1687) and Newton’s successful integration of the mechanics of physical observation with the mathematics of axiomatic proof, and his development of a system of scientifically verifiable predictions. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
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Katrina 10 Years Later: Disaster Recovery and the Political Economy of Everyday Life
Peter Boetkke, Mercatus Center

It is important to explain this history because it was in this intellectual context that the events around Hurricane Katrina have to be understood in order to appreciate our rationale behind undertaking the Gulf Coast Recovery Project in 2005 and continuing it to this day.

The Moral Argument Against the Minimum Wage
Ben R. Crenshaw

The minimum wage is immoral. To understand why, we must first explore its social and economic dimensions.

What Malcolm Gladwell Gets Wrong About Poverty
Robert Doar, The Federalist

In discussing the Hurricane Katrina victims who left New Orleans, Malcolm Gladwell ignores a major factor contributing to modern U.S. poverty.

The Economic Cost of Truancy
Emily Deruy, The Atlantic

It doesn’t matter how good a school is if students don’t show up to class.