soraya

Tomorrow, June 26, theaters across the nation will begin screening for the general public “The Stoning of Soraya M.” This drama reenacts the true story of an Iranian woman falsely accused of adultery and punished according to sharia law. The film is produced by Stephen McEveety (“The Passion of the Christ”) and features an impressive international cast.

Since the movie’s title gives the climax away, rest assured that the film contains much that is suspenseful. Jim Caviezel portrays French-Iranian journalist Freidoune Sahebjam. Much like Spencer Tracy’s character in the 1955 John Sturges film, “Bad Day at Black Rock,” Sahebjam chances upon a town with a dark secret – in this instance, the stoning of the title character through the manipulations of a husband who wishes to take a 14-year-old child as a wife and fears he cannot afford to maintain two households.

When Soraya refuses her husband a divorce, he puts in place the dramatic machinery leading to her death. The filmmakers ably display how a less-than-free society can be easily corrupted, but doesn’t adopt the too easy tropes that all men are bad, all women victims – or even that Islam is a bad religion.

I highly recommend this film, but must warn that the violent act of stoning is graphically depicted. The direction of the script is taut and suspenseful, and the acting and production values superb.

I interviewed McEveety on June 10. Below are several of my questions and his answers. For more of this interview, readers can access the Mackinac Center for Public Policy Web site beginning July 3.

Bruce Edward Walker What is it about Soraya’s plight that you and your collaborators found so compelling?

Stephen McEveety It was the characters that were for me so intriguing. I knew that the story could be new and fresh if done right. I think the story unfolds quite well and that viewers come to care very deeply about the characters. There are good guys and bad guys, but viewers can see parts of themselves in all of the film’s characters.

BEW When/how did you decide, “I have to make this movie”?

SM The story that was presented to me blew me away. I wasn’t looking for this, it came to me. I was able to finance it without too much difficulty. It just came together…. When I finished reading the script, my reaction was probably similar to when I finished watching the completed film. The story was so compelling, and it was incredible how quickly we were able to put it together. But I have to say that I think the movie is 10 times better than the script.

BEW I like how the filmmakers succeed in making nearly all the characters three-dimensional. Even the husband isn’t depicted as being 100 percent evil.

SM It would’ve been easy to show him as the embodiment of pure evil, Bruce, but that’s seldom true of any human in any society. It’s important to know that even if he’s a terrible man with horrible motives, he’s not beyond redemption. Maybe not by human standards, but certainly by God’s.

BEW Is the film intended to be an indictment of Islam or the hypocrisy of some of those who may practice it as in any other faith or religion?

SM I believe this is a very pro-Muslim movie. From the beginning we approached this as very respectful toward the true Islamic faith. This wonderful, beautiful Muslim woman keeps her faith to the end. She’s representative of the Muslim faith. The film is an illustration of how any religion can be abused in a repressive environment. It’s a true story made by persons familiar with the world Soraya M. lived in. We have shown it to Middle Eastern audiences and they have embraced it.

Blog author: lglinzak
posted by on Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Obvious Expert, a blog for Empowering Coaches, Consultants and Entrepreneurs, gave a great review for The Call of the Entrepreneur today in their blog post.  The Obvious Expert demonstrates that the film teaches that the call to become an entrepreneur is a spiritual calling:

But the film is not a critique of entrepreneurs; far from it.  Instead, Rev. Robert A. Sirico of the Acton Institute likens the calling that leads visionary men and women to become entrepreneurs to something that is almost spiritual, comparing entrepreneurship to being like a religion in the devotion it inspires.

Even furthering their support for The Call of the Entrepreneur, The Obvious Expert attached a link to Rev. Sirico’s interview with David Asman on America’s Nightly Scoreboard which was broadcasted on the Fox Business Network.

You can read the entire post on The Obvious Expert by clicking here.

To watch the trailer for The Call of the Entrepreneur click here or if you are interested in purchasing the video visit our Bookshoppe by clicking here.

Blog author: ken.larson
posted by on Wednesday, June 24, 2009

For Father’s Day last Sunday, I asked for and was given Mark Levin’s book Liberty and Tyranny. It’s only 205 pages if you don’t count the footnotes, but it’s Wednesday and I’ve only read 47 pages and the Epilogue, and the type is big and pages only 6” x 9”.

I’m not a fast reader. Dennis Prager admits to reading lots of things out loud and I have a tendency to do the same thing, especially if I want to clearly understand what I’m reading. It took me forever to read Brothers Karamazov or as my daughter calls it, “Brothers K”. And I have plenty of things I’m half way through. I do have other stuff on my plate.

So it’s amazing to me that with all the hope and change being discussed and voted on in Congress these days, that the laws being proposed and voted on — laws, some of which we can down load in massive pdf files — have been read and inwardly digested by the elected representatives who will vote on our behalf. I’ve looked at some of them and spent some time trying to figure out all they portend. Energy, Bailouts, Banking Regulation, Healthcare, Union Elections.

I’m not a fast reader. But some of these proposed laws are over a thousand pages long. And some of these lawmakers sound like people who’ve never read a book, even out loud.

So I ask any of you to give me some help on this. The Waxman-Markey bill is over 800 pages. It contemplates jacuzzi settings and prohibits the illumination of art work. Notwithstanding the amount of time it takes to read the proposal, what kind of person would take the time to compose such a dictate? How many jacuzzis are there? More or less than illuminated paintings?

And how did the Founders manage to get a country going with a document we can still read over a cup of coffee — either silently or out loud?

Amongst the health care debate Ray Nothstine offers a good analysis of Verterans Health Care.  Nothstine brings a good argument to light for those to consider who are in support of reforming health care.  Many supporters of reforming health care look to the health care provided by the Veterans Administration (VA); however as Nothstine is able to demonstrate, the VA health care system is far from perfect.  Nothstine also provides real life situations that demonstrate the flaws of the health care system managed by the VA.

Nothstine advises those who want to reform health care and model it after the VA health care system to proceed with caution:

Veterans’ health care has accomplished amazing feats, and many of the health officials and workers who work in that industry do so because of their desire to serve those who served their country. But the government must and should do a better job taking care of veterans, especially those wounded in America’s wars. The government needs to prove it can handle existing obligations before proposing the adoption of any universal government plan. If it cannot handle the challenge of caring for 8 million veterans, how will a government bureaucracy manage a system dealing with 300 million Americans?

Read Nothstine’s entire article by clicking here.

Recently the Acton Institute pulled back the political camouflage of the Lifestyle Tax, a new tax under consideration by the Senate Finance Committee, and exposed it as an extension of the Sin Tax.  The Senate Finance Committee is considering levying the Lifestyle Tax to raise funds for President Obama’s health care plan.

Reverend Robert A. Sirico, president and co-founder of the Acton Institute, wrote an article on the Sin Tax and the proposal of expanding it to tax soft drinks.  You can read Rev. Sirico’s column in The American.

Click here to read the press release issued by the Acton Institute concerning the propsed Lifestyle Taxes.

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Monday, June 22, 2009

I had the privilege of lecturing at last week’s Acton University on the topic of Lutheran Social Ethics. In preparing for that session, I was struck again at just how “Lutheran” Dietrich Bonhoeffer sounds every time I read him.

Here’s an example. Last week I asked, “Whither justice?” and noted some of Luther’s words on the subject. Here’s Bonhoeffer, from Life Together, virtually echoing Luther:

What does it matter if I suffer injustice? Would I not have deserved even more severe punishment from God if God had not treated me with mercy? Is not justice done to me even done to me a thousand times over even in injustice? Must it not be beneficial and conducive to humility for me to learn to bear such petty ills silently and patiently?

In the midst of the release of his expected encyclical, Pope Benedict is calling for a new world economic order; a model that is “more attentive to the demands of solidarity and more respectful of human dignity.” Professor Philip Booth, editorial and program director of the Institute for Economic Affairs, and speaker at Acton University, was interviewed by The Catholic Herald, a UK paper, about the Pope’s upcoming encyclical:

…it would be dangerous to follow a path of greater socialization and greater regulation of the economy and financial sector.  This is a model that has been tried and which is failing.

But what is essential is ethical renewal in all aspects of life-including in the financial sector.  Trying to deal with problems such as the lack of ethics in economic life with more regulation is like trying to deal with promiscuity through sex education lessons – it is the wrong instrument.

Kishore Jayabalan, director of Istituto Acton in Rome and an AU lecturer, was also interviewed by The Herald.

The Pope’s challenge to all of us is that we make the best possible use of our freedom and gifts, which will require a bit more intellectual and spiritual fortitude than we’ve seen from most of our political and business leaders recently.

To read the article and more comments by Professor Booth and Jayabalan please click here.

Pope Benedict’s encyclical is expected to be released on June 29.  The Acton Institute will be commenting on the encyclical once it is released and we encourage everybody to return to the PowerBlog and our website for more commentary.

Blog author: brittany.hunter
posted by on Friday, June 19, 2009

Here are the first two audio clips I have to share with you from Acton University:

Wednesday Night Opening Speech: Rev. Robert Sirico, Thoughts on Human Dignity

Thursday Night Keynote: Dr. Robert P. George, speaking on natural law

(Files are MP3 format. Right-click to download.)

More media to come today and next week.

Blog author: kschmiesing
posted by on Thursday, June 18, 2009

Evidently, the Obama campaign’s success has attracted imitators. From the People’s Weekly World:

CHICAGO — The Communist Party USA has established a new Religion Commission to strengthen its work among religious people and organizations. In its leadership are activists representing various religious traditions from around the country. Tim Yeager, a Chicago trade unionist and a member of the Episcopal Church, serves as its chair.

“We want to reach out to religious people and communities, to find ways of improving our coalition work with them, and to welcome people of faith into the party,” Yeager said.

I hesitate to say that “reaching out to religious people” is ever a bad thing, but… if this means a renewed effort to demonstrate some kind of compatibility between Marxism and Christianity, then we’ve seen this movie before. It was called liberation theology and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith pretty well settled the question back in 1984 and 1986 (at least as far as Catholics are concerned) in documents promulgated by the man who is now Pope Benedict XVI. The CDF carefully distinguished genuinely Christian forms of ‘liberation theology’ from objectionable versions, but it explained clearly that and why the categories of Marxist analysis and Christian theology are fundamentally incompatible.

The CPUSA recognizes the delicacy of the situation: “Yeager acknowledged that relations between some Marxist parties and religious institutions in other parts of the world have been marked by conflict.” Yes, such as Russia, Hungary, Albania, Lithuania, Cuba, China, Korea, and Vietnam, for starters. Although “marked by conflict” doesn’t seem quite to capture the phenomenon of churches and religious believers systematically targeted for annihilation by totalitarian states informed by an atheist ideology that views faith in Jesus Christ as delusional and a dangerous obstacle to progress.

Blog author: brittany.hunter
posted by on Thursday, June 18, 2009

Today began the second full day of classes at Acton U, and while the conference has been very busy, a few of the bloggers present have had a chance to post some reflections, reactions, and notes.

Fr. Z has had an active few days and has managed to post three Acton University posts so far:

Eric Larson at RedState Electric is experiencing his first Acton University and shared some great observations about the four foundational courses that he attended yesterday.

Denis E. Ambrose Jr has two great Acton U posts on his blog “Provoking the Muse”.

If you’ve been blogging Acton University and I’ve missed you, please let me know!

People have also been active on the Acton University Twitter feed, and we’re working on some audio for later today.

Stay tuned for more from Acton University!