Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, September 25, 2014
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This map shows where slavery and forced labor are happening around the world
James Pethokoukis , AEI Ideas

An estimated ~21-30m people are in slavery around the world, including forced labour, bonded labour, human trafficking and child slavery.

Business and Conscience
Greg Forster, First Things

The president has discovered that businesses are people, and have a conscience.

Top Ten Things Parents Hate About Common Core
Joy Pullmann, The Federalist

It’s the first school year most parents have heard about Common Core. And they don’t like it one bit.

The Family, A Seedbed of Vocations
Arland K. Nichols, Crisis Magazine

Above all else, it is the family that must manifest a fervent commitment to creating and fostering a culture of vocation. This commitment begins in the home and extends and radiates outward impacting the various small communities in which families are involved—parishes, clubs, and schools, for example.

Abraham KuyperThe new school year has begun, and with it college students have flocked back to their colleges and universities to encounter the challenges, gifts, and opportunities that the life of scholarship entails.

But upon entering this field of labor, what ought Christians to consider and deliver in such a setting? What is the goal of university study, and what does sacred scholarship look like?

In Abraham Kuyper’s newly translated Scholarship, a collection of two convocation addresses given at the beginning of the school year at Vrije Universiteit (Free University), he offers some healthy reminders to kick off the school season:

At the start of the new year I wanted to put this question to you before the face of God: What should be the goal of university study and the goal of living and working in the sacred domain of scholarship? I wanted to see whether I might perhaps rouse in some of you a more sanctified passion.

To have the opportunity of studying is such an inestimable privilege, and to be allowed to leave the drudgery of society to enter the world of scholarship is such a gracious decree of our God. Nature out there (God’s Word says as a punishment for sin) is hard for 99 percent of the human race. Of the 1,400 million people who live on this earth [in 1889] there are at least 1,300 million who literally have to eat their bread “by the sweat of their brow”—on farm or factory, at lathe or anvil, in shop or office, forever occupied in wresting food, clothing, and shelter from nature by processing, shaping, shipping, or selling it. And the real man of science does not look upon this with contempt. On the contrary, he senses that to live such a life should really have been his lot too, and that he, bowing under God’s ordinances if that were his occupation, would have found happiness and honor in it. But God created, in addition to the world of nature with all its elements and forces and materials, a world of thoughts; for all of creation contains Λόγος [Logos]…

…You and I have received this great favor from our God. We belong to that specially privileged group. Thus, woe to you and shame on you if you do not hear God’s holy call in the field of scholarship and do not exult with gratitude and never-ending praise that it pleased God out of free grace to choose you as his instrument for this noble, uplifting, inspiring calling.

It is for God’s honor that there should be scholarship in the land. His thought, his Λόγος in the κόσμος [kosmos], must not remain unknown and unexamined. He created us as logical beings in order that we should trace his Λόγος, investigate it, publish it, personally wonder at it, and fill others with wonder.

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success-2Earlier this month Brian Grim of Georgetown University and Greg Clark and Robert Edward Snyder of Brigham Young University released the results of an extensive study, “Is Religious Freedom Good for Business?,” which concludes that “religious freedom contributes to better economic and business outcomes.”

A few months ago Grim provided 7 reasons why religious freedom is a positive good for businesses:
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2014 Acton University Participants

2014 Acton University Participants

The Acton Institute’s biggest event of the year, Acton University has been named a finalist for the Templeton Freedom Award. Every year since 2004, the Atlas Network gives out this award, named after the late investor and philanthropist Sir John Templeton. It “honors his legacy by identifying and recognizing the most exceptional and innovative contributions to the understanding of free enterprise, and the public policies that encourage prosperity, innovation, and human fulfillment via free competition.”

The criteria for Templeton Freedom Award finalists:

  • Achieved strategic impact (in areas of policy impact, social impact, academic impact, media impact, or student impact, etc.),
  • Made innovative contributions to the field of free enterprise education or policy research, and
  • Laid the groundwork for future progress in improving countries’ scores in rankings of economic freedom (e.g., The Index of Economic Freedom or the Economic Freedom of the World report).

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Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
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Scottishness and Presbyterianism were once synonymous –- and with it reverence for the Union with England, says Ewan Watt in this week’s Acton Commentary. But secularism and nationalism might change all that.

Before he was arrested and ultimately burnt at the stake, the great Presbyterian martyr George Wishart dissuaded his young disciple John Knox from following him to martyrdom with the famous words, “Nay, return to your bairns and God bless you. One is sufficient for a sacrifice.”

Four hundred and sixty-eight years since Wishart was murdered at St. Andrew’s, his native Scotland came closer than expected to seceding from the United Kingdom and becoming an independent country. Although Scotland was a sovereign nation throughout his lifetime, one could make the argument that it’s been the Union with England that has helped cement Wishart and Knox’s greatest legacy, the Reformation and creation of the Church of Scotland. The Kirk’s future was also one of the more silent – but deeply contentious – issues throughout the independence campaign.

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

The Acton Institute is thrilled to be hosting Makoto Fujimura’s “Walking on Water – Azurite“, which is Fujimura’s official entry for ArtPrize 2014 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The 8′ x 11′ work, created with mineral pigment on polished gesso, must be seen in person to be appreciated; the depth of the colors and textures of the piece are stunning. Acton also has the privilege of hosting additional works by Fujimura from his series, “The Four Holy Gospels,” in the Prince Broekhuizen Gallery inside the DeVos Family Conference Center.

Hosting such a monumental piece of art is not a simple matter; for instance, we had to deal with the basic problem of where to hang such a large work. In this short film, we document the process of preparing an exhibition space in the Acton Building upon which to display Fujimura’s beautiful work for the duration of ArtPrize.

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
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Climate Change Costs By 2100: Doing Nothing Has the Same Price Tag as Doing Something
Ronald Bailey , Reason

Adapting to climate change would cost roughly the same as trying to slow it.

Will Someone Explain Christianity To The New York Times?
Mollie Hemingway, The Federalist

Collecting egregious errors about basic Christian teachings is a hobby of mine and The New York Times gives me some of my favorite examples.

Spontaneous Charity Is Good; Thoughtful Charity Is Even Better
Jayme Metzgar, The Federalist

What’s better than the Ice Bucket Challenge? These six steps for thoughtful charity giving.

100 Christians, Including Children, Arrested During Major House Church Raid in China
Stoyan Zaimov, Christian Post

Over 100 Christians, including children, were arrested during a major house church raid on Sunday in Foshan city in China’s Guangdong Province. Close to 200 police officers stormed in during the service, eyewitnesses said, believed to be part of a large-scale crackdown on Christians in the country.

religion-politics1Americans are tired of religion influencing politics, right? Apparently not.

According to a new Pew Research Center study released yesterday, a growing number of Americans think religion is losing influence in American life — and they want religion to play a greater role in U.S. politics.

Since 2006, Pew had found falling support for religion in politics, notes the Wall Street Journal. But something changed this year. “To see those trends reverse is striking,” said Greg Smith, Pew’s associate director of research. One reason could be that a growing majority—72%, according to the study—say religion is losing its influence in U.S. life, Mr. Smith said, “and they see that as a bad thing.”

“It could be that as religion’s influence is seen as waning, the appetite for it moves in the other direction,” he said.

Here are some of the highlights from the study:

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mad-scientist1“Science.” You know what that means, right? Hard-core facts. Indisputable evidence. No guessing. No “I think.” No opinions. Certainly no faith. If it’s “science,” then there is no arguing. And anybody who doesn’t buy into “science” is clearly wrong.

Right?

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry wants to clear a few things up regarding “science.” First, he wants to make sure that we have the definition correct.

Science is the process through which we derive reliable predictive rules through controlled experimentation. That’s the science that gives us airplanes and flu vaccines and the Internet. But what almost everyone means when he or she says “science” is something different.

If that is what “science” is, what is “almost everyone” else talking about?

To most people, capital-S Science is the pursuit of capital-T Truth. It is a thing engaged in by people wearing lab coats and/or doing fancy math that nobody else understands. The reason capital-S Science gives us airplanes and flu vaccines is not because it is an incremental engineering process but because scientists are really smart people.

In other words — and this is the key thing — when people say “science”, what they really mean is magic or truth.

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UN Climate Summit

No sooner does one proxy resolution season end, it seems, then another begins. The religious shareholder activist group As You Sow has announced last week it will continue to push proxy resolutions at Exxon Mobil Corporation in 2015. If there’s any doubt what stance they’ll take, those doubts should be allayed by As You Sow’s presence at last weekend’s Climate Summit at the United Nations:

The world will be watching, and this is a time to stand up and be counted. As You Sow will be there to march and stand up for the voice of investors. We invite you to walk with us, raising our voices together against climate risk, for a sustainable future, and a strong economy.

What exactly is meant by AYS’s assertions for climate risk, sustainability and a strong economy? In a Sept. 12 press release, the shareholder activists reference a recent report by Carbon Tracker Initiative, a London-based nongovernmental organization in which ExxonMobil is accused of “understating climate-change risk to investors.” CTI’s agenda is to reduce the use of fossil fuels, of course, but over the past several years they’ve presented a new wrinkle to the argument. It seems that – if successful in their renewable-energy mandates and carbon caps – ExxonMobil investors will be left holding an empty sack as a result. According to AYS and Arjuna Capital, another group of progressive investor activists:

ExxonMobil is underplaying the risks presented to its business and investors by the need for international action to prevent climate change, according to a new report.

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