In an ongoing effort to find creative ways to engage partnering organizations about whole life discipleship, Acton has created a program to co-sponsor one-day symposiums on selected seminary and university campuses around the United States.
The objective of these symposiums is to provide intense exposure to core ideas about whole life discipleship to the university community. In this way, Acton facilitates stronger Christian understanding and encourages continuing discussion and enrichment in the classroom after the conference itself is concluded. Participants will examine the interface of liberty, faith and learning in society, independently, through integration in their studies, and through ongoing Acton program opportunities.
On January 31st, the Acton Institute held a one-day symposium at Cedarville University titled "Caring For the Common Good: Why It's Important To Integrate Faith, Work, and Economics." The purpose of the event was to present free-market views on economics that are grounded in the Christian tradition to professors, students and staff. Cedarville University is a private, co-educational liberal arts university located in the town of Cedarville, Ohio.
Rudy Carrasco of Partners Worldwide spoke on caring for the poor along with their responsibilities. Matt Zainea, teaching pastor at Blythefield Hills Baptist Church spoke on "Theology and Economics: Seeing the Whole." In addition, Acton convened a panel discussion involving Rudy and Matt along with Cedarville University professors Dr. Bert Wheeler and Dr. Jeff Haymond. The panel was moderated by Acton Institute Director of Programs and International, Dr. Stephen Grabill.
The day concluded with a dinner attended by Cedarville administration and professors for the Bible, Business and Economics department discussing the day's content and how this could be integrated within the University.
Contemporary Europe is in a state of profound economic and cultural crisis. Out-of-control debt and spending, population decline, high unemployment (with catastrophic levels prevailing among young people), low levels of entrepreneurship, a discredited political class that more than ever seems far more intent on protecting its own position than serving the common good, and bloated and unsustainable welfare states – all of this sums up the economic state of the European Union these days. Unfortunately, many of these descriptions can be just as easily applied to the United States.
In his forthcoming book due out in November, Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture and America's Future (published by Encounter Books), Acton's Director of Research Dr. Samuel Gregg examines the origins and nature of the European economic model, and illustrates how similar dynamics are at work in much of America. Using the idea of economic culture, Gregg illustrates, in language accessible for anyone interested in our contemporary economic challenges, how the promotion of different values and their institutional expressions explains much of the economic dysfunctionality of much of today's Europe. He also underscores where similar trends are making themselves manifest in twenty-first century America. According to Gregg, Europe is the canary in the coal mine for America. Though American economic culture continues to differ markedly from what exists in Europe, Gregg argues that America is fast reaching the point where it needs to make some fundamental choices at the level of values if it wishes to remain the world's most dynamic and prosperous economy. The wrong choices, he insists, could easily lead to economic Europeanization – something, Gregg states, would be disastrous not just for America, but for the West as a whole.
The Acton Institute plans to increase visibility and raise awareness of many of its books by publishing e-books. Web Coordinator David Lohmeyer is creating separate websites for each publication.
Fair Trade? Its Prospects as a Poverty Solution by Victor Claar is the first site up and running and can be viewed at www.fairtradeandfreetrade.com. The sites will offer information about the author, articles related to the subject matter, other books in the series, and links for purchasing the digital or print format. Samples of the publication for reading will also be included. In most every case, it will offer more detailed information about the book than an Amazon site or other book retailers.
Acton's President, Rev. Robert Sirico, appeared on "Your World with Neil Cavuto" on February 3 to discuss the president quoting scripture in his call for higher tax rates. The president quoted Luke's Gospel passage "For unto whom much is given much is required." Rev. Sirico called the president's prooftexting bad biblical theology and bad tax policy. You can watch his entire apperance on the Acton Web Site at the PowerBlog.
The Acton Institute has also raised its profile in the media because of threats to religious liberty through health care mandates imposed on religious organizations by the White House.
On October 6, John Blundell delivered a lecture in Grand Rapids on the subject of Margaret Thatcher and her economic reforms in the United Kingdom. Mr. Blundell is the author of Margaret Thatcher: A Portrait of the Iron Lady. He currently serves as distinguished senior fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs, where he was director general from 1993 - 2009.
Margaret Thatcher served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 - 1990. Mr. Blundell quoted notable British journalist Charles Moore who recently declared, "With all due respect to the Queen, Thatcher is the greatest living English Woman." The BBC recently ranked Thatcher the 16th greatest figure in all of British history.
Touching on just a portion of her legacy, Mr. Blundell highlighted the fact that Thatcher,
"Transformed the nation's view of the benefits of a market economy. She took the whole union movement, brought it back under the rule of law and gave it back to its members. She privatized the commanding heights of the economy, thus transforming their fortunes and starting a worldwide movement. She made Brits walk tall again with a principled, firm and robust approach to foreign relations.
Mr. Blundell also noted that Thatcher would be very concerned about the centralization of health care in the United States. "She would be more concerned about that than the financial crisis," added Mr. Blundell. He stated that Thatcher knew even she could not dismantle that system in Europe and that once it is implemented and institutionalized in the bureaucracy, it is almost impossible to decentralize.
On October 20 of last year, Thatcher was honored with the 2011 Faith & Freedom Award at Acton's Annual Dinner in Grand Rapids. Acton's Religion & Liberty publication interviewed Thatcher in 1992.
The Acton Lecture Series began in 1991 as a service to the local community. Acton seeks to bring knowledgeable and thought-provoking speakers to the area, providing our local audience in Grand Rapids, MI, the opportunity to interact with prominent thinkers on issues of faith and freedom.