Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, September 25, 2014
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marriageeconomyFor the past three decades, there has been an attempt by the political class to divide conservatism into two main branches: social and economic. The two are often pitted against each other despite the fact that most conservatives in America would identify with both sides. Mainstream conservatives realize what the elite class does not: economic and social factors are inextricably linked together.

Consider, for example, the connection between the economy and marriage. According to a new report by the Pew Research Center, the share of American adults who have never been married is at an historic high. In 2012, one-in-five adults ages 25 and older (about 42 million people) had never been married; in 1960, only about one-in-ten adults (9 percent) in that age range had never been married.

About half of all never-married adults (53 percent) say they would like to marry eventually. Out of that group, three-in-ten say the main reason they are not married is that they have not found someone who has what they are looking for in a spouse. So what’s holding them back? For women, the reason seems to be primarily economic. More than two-thirds (78 percent) of never-married women say finding someone who has a steady job would be very important to them in choosing a spouse or partner.
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Blog author: bwalker
Thursday, September 25, 2014
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Leo is dreamyThree-hundred thousand protestors waved signs and shouted slogans about man-made climate change in midtown Manhattan on Sunday. Among them were representatives of the same group of religious shareholder activists who – like the swallows returning to Mission San Juan Capistrano each year – annually submit proxy resolutions to the corporations in which they invest. Some of these resolutions demand companies divest from holdings in the fossil fuel sector, draft policies geared toward limiting carbon emissions, end hydraulic fracturing or deal with carbon-based products as “stranded assets” in hopes that solar and wind energy replace them in the near future. According to the progressive online newspaper, The National Catholic Reporter:

Faith leaders joined politicians, celebrities, musicians, labor unions, and tens of thousands of concerned citizens in the march. Demonstrators waved signs that read ‘Jesus Would Drive A Prius’ and ‘System Change, Not Climate Change’ as they snaked their way through the heart of New York City.

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doctor_clipartIn helping developing countries to increase their economic prosperity, says Acton’s Jordan Ballor, we must remember that human welfare cannot be reduced to material realities.

If a nation were to pursue GDP growth as its highest goal, it would probably institute policies and incentives to induce women to work outside the home and professionalize child care. GDP incentivizes specialization and the division of labor, since such transactions are the only things taken into account. As Ritenour concludes, “We ought not give into the temptation that all of human welfare is encapsulated in GDP.” Or in other words, man does not live on GDP per capita alone.

In a subtle way, measuring GDP can give the illusion that human flourishing is identical to economic growth and that economic growth is reducible to GDP. GDP is a useful, if limited, measure. But it should never be seen as a direct proxy for economic development, much less human flourishing.

Read more . . .

HeForShe graphic

HeForShe graphic

Emma Watson, the lovely British actress best known for her role as Hermione in the Harry Potter movies, is now a Goodwill ambassador for the United Nations. The program she is touting is called HeForShe (yes, I know that sounds like a support group for transgendered folk, but that’s beside the point.) It is, according to the website, a “solidarity movement for gender equality.” Basically, they want men (the “He”) to start supporting women’s (the “She”) equality.

There are certainly many places in the world where women face incredible challenges. Far too many women and girls lack basic access to voting, education, the free ability to travel on their own and to own property. These injustices clearly need to be addressed.

Today marks the 34th anniversary of China’s horrific one-child policy. It is hard to think of any other single policy that has claimed the lives of so many women, both born and unborn, and affected a nation in such a detrimental way. According to Women’s Rights Without Frontiers the Chinese government:

The One Child Policy causes more violence against women and girls than any other official policy on earth.

The One Child Policy is China’s war on women.   Any discussion of women’s rights, or human rights, would be a charade if forced abortion in China is not front and center.

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Common Grace 1.2 Front Cover Proof 1 (1)Christian’s Library Press has released the second in its series of English translations of Abraham Kuyper’s most famous work, Common Grace, a three-volume work of practical public theology. This release, Temptation-Babel, is the second of three parts in Volume 1: The Historical Section, following the previous release, Noah-Adam.

Common Grace (De gemeene gratie) was originally published in 1901-1905 while Kuyper was prime minister. This new translation offers modern Christians a great resource for understanding the vastness of the gospel message, as well as their proper role in public life. The project is a collaboration between the Acton Institute and Kuyper College.

Picking up where he left off in Noah-Adam, Kuyper reminds us that in the Garden of Eden, man’s body was “unimpaired and whole,” and “in terms of his spiritual existence, he was perfectly wise in mind, perfectly holy in moral nature, and perfectly righteous in his standing before God.” Such a state would have progressed if not for the Fall, but alas, Adam would indeed fall, and do so by violating an “apparently arbitrary command” — doing “good” because it seems good, rather than “because God wills it.”

Yet, even when sinking into the depths of death, Adam and Eve did not die. Why? (more…)

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.