flow-gift-packThe Acton Institute’s latest film series, For the Life of the World: Letters to the Exiles, was created to help Christians dig deeper into and examine the bigger picture of Christianity’s role in culture, society, and the world. The series is well suited to a variety of settings, whether a college classroom, small group, or church setting.

To promote these types of explorations and exchanges, a special Gift Pack version of the series is now available via RightNow Media, an online video library with thousands of sessions accessible to its members. Sometimes described as “Netflix for the church,” it’s a venue that will introduce and equip many with all the series has to offer.

Exclusively available on RightNow, the Gift Pack includes Episode 1 (“Exile”) and a series of 8 video excerpts exploring the implications of the themes of the larger series. Each video comes with a discussion guide for use in small groups, Sunday School classes, and other educational settings. The excerpts can be used along with the discussion guides or as stand-alone videos for sermon illustrations, teasers, event promotion and much more.

For other ways to watch and engage with the series, see the standard DVD version, the Leader’s Edition, or Exile Supply Pack, and the Field Guide. The entire series can also be purchased digitally at Flannel.org.

acton-commentary-blogimageThe Orthodox Church in Russia has proposed a banking model that corrects what it sees as the most serious of that global banking industry’s moral failings, says Rev. Gregory Jensen in this week’s Acton Commentary. However the system the Church purposes is unlikely to foster economic growth. It also overlooks the convergence of the free market with key elements of the Orthodox moral tradition.

Banks require varying amounts of collateral from and charge different interest rates to different customers. Yes, the bank does this to protect its own profitability.  For the Orthodox moral tradition there is nothing necessarily immoral in the pursuit of profit. More importantly for our concern here, however, profit is not the bank’s only concern.

Treating potential customers differently also reflects the bank’s moral responsibility to determine and safeguard the unique circumstances of the person and so the ability of the borrower to repay the loan. This isn’t morally wrong. While it may seem unfair, when we look at the situation more carefully we see that it reflects the very financial personalism that Surmilo says is at the heart of the Russian model.

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

Christian’s Library Press has released Volume 1 of its English translations of Abraham Kuyper’s most famous work, Common Grace, which is made up of 3 books (Noah-Adam, Temptation-Babel, Abraham-Parousia). The books are part of a larger translation project that you can read about here.

The work presents a public theology of cultural engagement rooted in the humanity Christians share with the rest of the world, making it an extremely valuable resource for Christians seeking to develop a winsome and constructive social witness. The books are part of a larger translation project that you can read about here.

Common Grace Volume 1

This week, CLP will be giving away two sets of the volume (3 books in each).

To enter, use the interface below. There are five ways to enter, and each will increase your odds. The contest will end Friday night at 11:59 p.m.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
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Minimum-wage offensive could speed arrival of robot-powered restaurants
Lydia DePillis, Washington Post

About 30 percent of the restaurant industry’s costs come from salaries, so burger-flipping robots — or at least super-fast ovens that expedite the process — become that much more cost-competitive if the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is doubled.

The Economic Way of Asking Questions
Don Boudreaux, Cafe Hayek

Of all the physical, or non-social, sciences, biology is the science that is most like economics: central to both biology and to economics is the quest to understand the logic of undesigned order, and to interpret observed real-world phenomena in light of that understanding.

Authority, Citizenship, And Public Justice
David T. Koyzis, First Things

North Americans famously esteem freedom but are ambivalent about authority. Authority strikes many of us as too constricting and insufficiently supportive of our desires and aspirations. Yet I believe that authority is key to understanding our humanity and the meaning of our creation in God’s image.

Why erratic schedules are one of the worst parts of low-wage work
Timothy B. Lee, Vox

A recent management trend has made the lives of low-wage workers even more difficult. In an effort to save on labor costs, many employers have made employees’ schedules more erratic and less predictable.

We’ve had our busiest Acton Lecture Series in institute history over the course of the first six months of 2015 – we’ve had more public events at the Acton Building in that period of time than we had all of last year, I believe; I’d venture to say that 2015 is already the busiest year in that regard in the 25-year history of the Acton Institute. We’ve had a bit of a pause in the events schedule over the summer, which means that now is a great time to catch up and highlight some events from earlier in the year that you may have missed.

On April 14th, Acton joined with our friends at the Mackinac Center to host Timothy P. Carney – author, senior political columnist at the Washington Examiner, and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute – who spoke on the topic “Is Big Business a Danger to Economic Liberty?” Carney’s talk and the Q and A session that followed are now available for your edification via the video player below.

Blog author: bwalker
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
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California measure fails to create green jobs
Julia Horowitz, MyWay

Three years after California voters passed a ballot measure to raise taxes on corporations and generate clean energy jobs by funding energy-efficiency projects in schools, barely one-tenth of the promised jobs have been created, and the state has no comprehensive list to show how much work has been done or how much energy has been saved.

Papal Encyclical On Climate Change Puts Coal Country Catholics In Tough Spot
Aaron Schrank, National Public Radio

Kevin Roberts is president of Wyoming Catholic College. He says environmentalists are exploiting the Pope’s words to push an agenda that hurts Wyoming. That’s as state leaders fight President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which would require the state to cut its carbon emissions by about 40 percent over the next 15 years.

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Basic CMYKEarlier this summer a Gallup survey asked respondents to answer the following question:

Between now and the 2016 political conventions, there will be discussion about the qualifications of presidential candidates—their education, age, religion, race, and so on. If your party nominated a generally well-qualified person for president who happened to be _______________, would you vote for that person?

The survey provided some interesting findings, such as 25 percent of Americans would not vote for an evangelical Christian. In contrast, fewer people said they would not for a Mormon (18 percent), Jewish (7 percent), or Catholic (6 percent) candidate.

But while that particular finding is disconcerting (at least to Evangelicals like me), there was another result that was even more troubling. The survey found that 46 percent said they would vote for a socialist while 50 percent said they would not.

If you’re a “glass half full” type of person you may find that result reassuring. After all, half of Americans would not vote for a socialist. But keep in mind that nearly half of Americans would also refuse to vote for a Democrat or a Republican.
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Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
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Who Really Cares About the Poor?: A Socratic Dialogue
Bryan Caplan, EconLog

Glaucon: Can you believe all these rich jerks who refuse to help the poor? Socrates: I’m puzzled, Glaucon. You’re rich, but I’ve never seen you help the poor.

How to stop forced marriage in Africa, soon to have most of the world’s child brides
Lily Kuo, Quartz

According to UNICEF, sub-Saharan Africa will be home to the highest number of child brides in the world by 2050, surpassing South Asia. In Nigeria, for example, where the country’s rate of child marriage has been falling by 1% a year over the past 30 years, its dramatic population growth will mean that an estimated 50 million women (pdf, p.9) in the region’s largest economy will be married before the age of 18.

Don’t Fall for Back-to-School Tax Holidays
Helaine Olen, Slate

These sort of promotions play to everything from our desire for a bargain to our hatred of taxes, not to mention our unwillingness to let someone else get a deal while we pay more money for an item just a few days later.

Fast moving bad news builds prosperity
Glenn Harlan Reynolds, USA Today

Free markets automatically create and transmit negative information, while socialism hides it.

PowerBlog readers will have noticed a strong, and from my point of view justified, negative reaction here to Elise Hilton’s Aug. 11 post titled, “The Lost Girls of Romania: A Nation of Sex Trafficking.” Commenters referred to the post as offensive and poorly researched. As editor with overall responsibility for the PowerBlog, I want to address the many comments we’ve received that take issue with Hilton’s characterization of Romania and Romanian women.

Before we go any further, I want to note that anyone who writes regularly for publication will invariably make errors of fact and error of analysis. In a long career in journalism and other editorial work, I certainly have made my share. The responsibility of the writer and editor is to be accountable to readers and correct the record when needed.

This post missed the mark. It should not have relied on a single Al Jazeera article to make assertions that in Romania “women and girls have virtually no rights.” What’s more, the sweeping generalization that in Romania if women “are not hidden, they are trafficked” is patently untrue. I’ve been to Bucharest, a beautiful European capital, and this statement does not describe what I saw there. I’ve also been blessed to get to know many Romanian families who worship at my Greek Orthodox parish and have found them to be unfailingly kind, hospitable and productive. Romania is an overwhelmingly Orthodox Christian culture, but has significant populations of Roman Catholics and Protestants and small numbers of Muslims. As for the Church, Romanian Orthodox Patriarch Daniel has been unequivocal in his condemnation of human trafficking. The following is from a statement he made in 2009: (more…)

Blog author: bwalker
Monday, August 17, 2015
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Is Poland’s new hyper-Catholic government on a collision course with the pope?
John L. Allen, Jr., Crux

In his recent encyclical letter Laudato Si’, Francis called for strong limits on the consumption of fossil fuels. Yet Law and Justice has vowed to toughen Poland’s stance on climate issues to protect its economy, which relies on coal for about 90 percent of its electricity. A party official in charge of energy policy recently said, “The strategy we’re planning rejects the dogma of de-carbonization.”

United Church of Canada Sells Fossil Fuel Holdings, Commits $6 Million to Alternative Energy to Save Creation
Vincent Funaro, The Christian Post

The Episcopal Church’s position echoes that of Francis who released an encyclical dealing with climate change back June. It dealt with how climate change is affecting God’s creation and was supported by over 300 Evangelical leaders.

Obama Clean Power Plan praised
Insight News

“Cities alone cannot meet the climate challenge. Action at the national scale is necessary,” said Ed Murray, mayor of Seattle. “As Pope Francis wrote in his encyclical on climate change, ‘the climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all.’ I am pleased that this administration, through this action, is taking these words to heart.”

Combating climate change can co-exist with oil, gas industry
Mella McEwan, Midland Reporter-Telegram

“The ‘shale renaissance’ has occurred in spite of actions of this administration,” said Ben Shepperd, president of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association. “This is evidenced by the fact that oil and gas production has risen dramatically on private lands during the last seven years. Meanwhile, production from federal lands has decreased during the same time period.”

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