Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, March 5, 2015
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On financial reform, Pope Francis doesn’t blink
John L. Allen Jr., Crux

By now, one thing ought to be abundantly clear about Pope Francis: Faced with attempts to hobble his reform efforts through character assassination of his reformers, this pope just doesn’t blink.

Surveillance and Care
Alan Jacobs, Snakes and Ladders

Another day, another story about the legal trouble you can expect if you’re a free-range parent. This matters, a lot, and what’s at stake needs to be made clear.

Where Have All The Unions Gone?
Rachel Lu, The Federalist

Unions are losing members and public sympathy, and instead of polishing off our ballads, we should ask why that’s happening.

Biblical Orthodoxy And The Disqualification Of Christians From Public Service
Nana Dolce, RAAN

Given recent events, does holding a orthodox biblical view automatically disqualify Christians from public service?

ArchieFrankensteinCover250The left’s war against genetically modified foods continues apace. Last week, the nonprofit Green America outfit boasted a victory over The Hershey Company, which has agreed to use “simpler ingredients” in its addictive Hershey’s Kisses Milk Chocolates and Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars. Yes, “Frankenfood” fearers, the delicious GMO-derived sucrose of Hershey’s chocolate soon will be replaced with an identical product coincidentally known as sucrose.

Finally, the “Sugar, Sugar” bubblegum world imagined by The Archies in 1969 has been realized as “Sucrose, Sucrose.” You might still be my candy, girl, but you’ve got me wanting to lecture you in basic science and economics. Just as most candy Easter bunnies are only air wrapped in chocolate, the Green America triumph is a hollow victory. (more…)

M. Stanton Evans

Lovers of freedom lost a longtime ally this week with the passing of author, journalist and intellectual M. Stanton Evans at age 80. Stephen Hayward penned a remembrance of Evans at Powerline:

If you’ve never heard Stan’s deadpan midwestern baritone in person, you’ve missed a great treat, as it won’t come across anywhere near as well in pixels.  But all is not lost: there are supposedly some recordings of his greatest hits available on the Philadelphia Society website.  [There are also several great YouTube videos of Stan in action: just plug his name in to a YouTube search engine, and be prepared to grin.]  Stan’s specialty is using mordant irony against liberals.  He loves to throw liberal clichés over his shoulder.  Back in the 1960s he wrote, “Any country that can land a man on the moon, can abolish the income tax.”  Or he would shock liberals by saying, “I didn’t agree with what Joe McCarthy was trying to do, but I sure admired his methods.”

Back in 1995, the Acton Institute hosted Evans in Grand Rapids, Michigan and he delivered a lecture entitled “The Theme is Freedom,” which would also be the title of the book he was writing at the time. We’re pleased to provide you with the audio of his remarks from that September night as we too remember a friend and comrade in the fight for liberty.

Update: We’ve added the audio of M. Stanton Evans’ 1995 Acton Lecture Series address, including an introduction by Annette Kirk and the full Q and A session, to our digital download store. It’s available for purchase here.

acton-commentary-blogimage“What could possibly go wrong with a regulatory power grab by a government agency applying an 80-year-old law to the most dynamic and innovative aspect of the world’s economy?” asks Bruce Edward Walker in this week’s Acton Commentary.

The Federal Communications Commission last week voted along partisan lines for passage of network neutrality regulations. The first two attempts were both defeated in U.S. Circuit Court, and one hopes this third try meets the same fate.

The latest strategy deployed by the FCC is reclassification of the Internet from a Title I information service to a Title II communications service. Whereas Title I prescribes a light regulatory touch, Title II opens the floodgates for the agency to regulate as a utility all aspects of the Internet under the 1934 Communications Act. The 1934 law was devised specifically to police landline phones as common carriers with the unfortunate unforeseen consequence of establishing a decades-long telephone monopoly by creating significant barriers of entry for start-ups and smaller companies.

The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.

ISIS Al-Qaeda Militants Fighting Syrian Civil WarThe rapid rise and threat of the jihadist group Islamic State has confounded the secularist West. The idea that their motivations could truly be driven by religious ideology simply fails to register with those who view religion as an individualistic, private affair.

If we are going to defeat ISIS, though, this will have to change. As Kishore Jayabalan says, it’s time to start taking the relationship between religion and politics seriously:
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lincoln-inaugural-addressThe end of the Civil War was five days away when Abraham Lincoln gave his second inaugural address on March 4, 1865. Yet in his speech, delivered 150 years ago today, Lincoln did not gloat about the impending victory, choosing instead to use the occasion to bring both sides of the conflict together.

As Matthew S. Holland says, the speech reminds us that we must resist the poisonous temptation to see those with whom we disagree as bitter enemies even as we vigorously defend the moral truths that ought to guide our public life:

By the time of his Second Inaugural, Lincoln’s belief in a great human sameness took on an even deeper and theological dimension. Over many years, Lincoln’s early Enlightenment-inspired skepticism and rationalism increasingly gave room to a biblical, if non-denominational, religiosity as intense as any occupant the White House has ever had. By his extensive reading of scripture and long reflection, Lincoln came to conclude that God was both in control of human affairs and ultimately inscrutable by mere mortals. The view that all human beings were plagued with self-interested partialities and limited cognitive horizons produced in Lincoln a generosity toward even his most implacable foes. This also explains why, in such a short speech, and in a context that so lent itself to a Manichean narrative of good versus evil and us versus them, Lincoln employed sixteen references (“all,” “both,” “neither”) that cast the North and the South in almost exactly the same light.

In making his argument argument for mercy and humility, Lincoln’s speech was steeped in biblical language. He was not the first President to consider the place of providence in the life of the nation, notes Daniel Dreisbach, but his speech was “a more nuanced and searching reflection on the role of providence in the affairs of nations.”
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Radio Free ActonOn this edition of Radio Free Acton, Acton Institute Director of International Outreach Todd Huizinga draws on his wealth of diplomatic and international experience to help us understand the history and context of the ongoing financial difficulties of the nation of Greece, and how the nature of the European Union contributes to the unrest we see today in parts of Europe. You can listen via the audio player below.

RootedGod has clearly given us dominion over creation, yet a variety of divisions and distortions persist. Radical environmentalists dream of a world without us, even as hyper-consumerists wield God’s call as justification for undue exploitation and self-seeking.

Getting the relationship right not only impacts our stewardship, but gets to the core of what we believe about God, why he created us, and who he has called us to be. It’s no wonder, then, that Abraham Kuyper begins one of his sermons on the role of the church by examining humanity’s broader role in creation.

In his sermon, “Rooted and Grounded,” Kuyper proclaims that the church must be both rooted”in the “organism” of the Gospel, even while being grounded in various institutional forms. Yet insofar as we are “rooted” in “organic” life, we must ask: Which garden do we intend to cultivate? How do we plan to do it? Why? (more…)

MallOfAmerica3Is the middle-class economically stagnant? And is “middle-class” a misnomer? Should we really be talking about the bottom of the economic pile? After all, isn’t the 1% controlling everything?

Cato Institute Senior Fellow Alan Reynolds says the government’s claim of middle-class stagnation is based on faulty statistics. In Monday’s Wall Street Journal, Reynolds quotes Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), speaking at an AFL-CIO conference: “Since 1980, guess how much of the growth in income the [bottom] 90% got? Nothing. None. Zero.”

Reynolds take on this?

Real personal consumption per person has tripled since 1968 and doubled since 1980, according to the BEA. Are all those shopping malls, big box stores, car dealers and restaurants catering to only the top 10%? The question answers itself. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
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Vatican security chief confirms ISIS is a threat to Pope Francis
Meghan DeMaria, The Week

Domenico Giani, commander of the Vatican’s security forces, told Italy’s Polizia Moderna that ISIS presents a significant threat to Pope Francis and the Vatican. Giana added, though, that there isn’t indication ISIS is planning an attack directed at the pope.

Iran’s Spiritual Challenge to American Christians
Mark Tooley, Juicy Ecumenism

Nine years ago liberal American religious activists like pacifist Jim Wallis of Sojourners created a “Words, Not War, With Iran” coalition to organize against decisive U.S. action against Iran’s nuclear program.

Bill to slash slavery gains quickly in Senate
Tom Strode, Baptist Press

A new effort to help end human trafficking and slavery worldwide has quickly gained momentum in Congress.

State Legislatures Pit Religious Freedom Against Civil Rights
Sarah Barringer Gordon and Nomi Stolzenberg, Religion & Politics

The debate over last summer’s Hobby Lobby decision has a new source for conflict: state legislatures. The Supreme Court decision, which expanded corporate religious liberty, rested on an interpretation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a federal statute that Congress passed in 1993.