The Acton Institute has added a new podcast segment called Radio Free Acton to their website. Associate Editor Jordan Ballor noted about the popular podcast, “Radio Free Acton was conceived as a new media forum for lively discussion and dialogue about current issues and events. It’s a way that we can connect with a lively audience and disseminate information to a broader constituency. Each episode offers a brief glimpse into the intellectual world of the Acton Institute, what we as a think tank are thinking about. We hope to engage our listeners more in the future by integrating audience comments and suggestions into the show.” On February 27, the Acton Institute was fortunate to have Dr. Joseph Knippenberg as a special guest. Dr. Kinippenberg offered his assessment of the newly released research on the American religious landscape by the Pew Forum. Dr. Knippenberg is a professor of politics at Oglethorp University in Atlanta, Georgia. Associate editors Ray Nothstine and Jordan Ballor and host Marc Vander Mass also participated in the discussion. The podcast was titled “Contemplating Consumerist Religion.” Past podcasts included discussions of primary results and religion in politics. Also featured in the podcast were special bonus interviews with 2008 Acton Lecture Series speakers Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse and Dr. Glenn Sunshine. “It has always seemed to me that a podcast was the next logical step after the creation of Acton’s PowerBlog. It’s another way for the Acton Institute to take the ideas we’ve been thinking and writing about for nearly twenty years and apply them to the issues and events of our time in a relevant and timely way. That’s what we’re trying to do with Radio Free Acton,” says Vander Maas.
The Acton Institute has been awarded a $100,000 grant by the Social Equity Venture Fund. This generous prize was the result of a competitive review process led by judges who are leaders in business and academic fields. The funds will go towards persuading Americans and other Westerners of the need for free enterprise solutions for alleviating poverty conditions in the developing world. We plan to use the prize for original research on this topic and to fund our third documentary. “The winners are inspired innovators who are breaking new ground that will help shape the dialogue around wealth creation,” said Michael Fairbanks, co-founder of the Social Equity Venture (S.E.VEN) Fund. This competition and gift was made available through a generous gift from the John Templeton Foundation.
Upon hearing of the passing of conservative icon William F. Buckley, Rev. Robert A. Sirico noted that Buckley was a supporter and contributor to the Acton Institute as well as a close friend. “He was the speaker at our first dinner, a year after we founded the institute. He accepted no honorarium for that, he wanted to give us a boost and was very successful at that,” Rev. Sirico said. Rev. Sirico spent considerable time with Buckley when Pope John Paul II visited Cuba. “He was a man of faith and a man who understood his faith. He was a man who believed in liberty and organized one of the most significant magazines that made the case for human liberty and the conservative cause,” Rev. Sirico added.
Dr. Glenn Sunshine spoke about wealth and work in relation to Christian Scripture and tradition at the Acton Lecture Series on February 14, 2008. “Adam was created to work, and work predates the fall,” Dr. Sunshine said. He noted how Adam was intended to enjoy the fruits of his labor. He also explained how, after the fall of humankind, work turned to drudgery and our ability to produce, as well as our ability to enjoy fruits of our labor was damaged. God’s purpose is to bless and restore human flourishing. Dr. Sunshine used numerous examples in the Old and New Testament to address the topics of wealth, economic justice, and giving.
Speaking of Old Testament accounts, Dr. Sunshine noted, “God is concerned about idolatry but he is also concerned with economic matters. Wealth is not necessarily a sign of blessings. Some receive their wealth the wrong way or spend it the wrong way.” Addressing New Testament passages and errors in prosperity gospel or the Word-Faith movement he said, “Poverty is not necessarily a curse. Being poor [is] not necessarily virtuous. The poor however, often live by faith and their survival relies on the faith and God.” At the same time, Dr. Sunshine noted, “The poor can be just as materialistic as the rich.” Speaking of the Gospel story of Zaccheus he said, “We are to use our wealth for the advancement of his kingdom and Christ will hold us responsible for that.”
Dr. Sunshine explained how there are massive problems with the condemnation of wealth by some in the church. At the same time, prosperity gospel theologies make serious errors. It mistakes our desires for God, and it puts authority over God. “It also suggests Mother Theresa blew it as a Christian. That is ridiculous. We need to find a proper sense how all of this works together,” Dr. Sunshine said. If you would like to listen to the entire address, visit the website of the Acton Institute.
The 2008 Acton University is set for June 10-13 in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. Acton University is much more than an educational endeavor; it is about building a culture of faith and freedom. “People of faith do not understand the market and condemn it on moral grounds. Economists, meanwhile, have come to see the discipline as a purely secular enterprise,” says Rev. Robert Sirico. While progress is being made, there is much work to be done. Some of the lecturers include Lord Brian Griffiths, who has held many highly prestigious economic leadership and teaching positions and has served as a special adviser to Margaret Thatcher. Mr. John Beckett will also speak at Acton University. Beckett is the celebrated author of Loving Monday: Succeeding in Business Without Selling Your Soul. Beckett is also a founding board member of The King’s College in New York City, serves on the board of Campus Crusade for Christ, International, and is a director of Graphic Packaging Corporation. He has also been named “Christian Businessman of the Year” by the Christian Broadcasting network (1999). If you have any questions about Acton University contact Kara Eagle at the Acton Institute.