On October 24, 2012, over 700 people attended the sold-out 22nd Annual Acton Dinner held at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids, Mich. Attendees were updated on the progress of the new Acton Institute building and were shown a video describing the new PovertyCure curriculum. The night also included several informative and passionate speeches in the defense of liberty and the virtuous society.
The honorable Joseph G. Scoville, United States Magistrate Judge for the Western District of Michigan, was master of ceremonies. Despite being in the middle of a political campaign far from Michigan, Congressman Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska attended the event and gave the invocation. He thanked Rev. Robert Sirico for being instrumental in his moral and political formation. Praising the Acton Institute, Fortenberry talked about his journey: "Where can I go study economics that teaches me what ought to be, not just what is?"
Rev. Robert A. Sirico gave a special address in which he warned that citizens of the United States need to do what they ought and not merely what they want, echoing the famous words of Lord Acton: "Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right to do what we ought." Rev. Sirico reminded the gathered "that the Kingdom of God will not be brought about by politics." He said those that do see politics as the solution to our problems strike heretical tones, "because you then concede the whole point to those who see the state as the be all and end all of human society."
In Rev. Sirico's view, statism for some diminishes their concept of God as true King. "That which ails our Republic runs far deeper than one election," declared Rev. Sirico. He challenged people to continue in the work of cultural renewal and to fully understand the true meaning of freedom. The keynote speech by Eric Metaxas is addressed further in this issue on the following page.
Eric Metaxas, author of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, was the keynote speaker at the 22nd Annual Acton Dinner. He inspired and challenged the attendees with the story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the famous German theologian and anti-Nazi dissident.
Metaxas used Bonhoeffer's story of the attack on religion in Nazi Germany to speak of religious liberty more broadly. The Nazis slowly infiltrated the German Church in an attempt to silently and totally destroy it. The Nazis did not openly speak out against the church nor publically announce their intentions. Metaxas emphasized that religious liberty is not necessarily threatened by great dramatic events; it may also be threatened by small, annoying, but seemingly harmless ones. Those who attack religious liberty may only cross small lines incrementally and Metaxas warned that there are certain lines that must never be crossed.
Bonhoeffer obeyed God until his final moments on Earth. He knew that God had led him to the gallows, but Bonhoeffer did not attempt to escape or delay his execution. Metaxas gave Bonhoeffer as an example, not simply as someone we can look up to and appreciate, but rather someone we can emulate. Metaxas challenged his audience to live as Bonhoeffer did: trusting God until the end, understanding threats, and standing against those threats, especially attacks on religious liberty.
Louie Glinzak began working with the Acton Institute after graduating from Michigan State University. He contributed to Acton's PowerBlog, helped manage the Facebook and Twitter pages, and met other needs of the communications department. "I really enjoyed communicating Acton's values and writing about the many different current issues our world faced," declared Glinzak.
After spending some time at Acton, Glinzak decided to continue his dream of furthering his education by attending law school at Valparaiso University. He received a scholarship that paid for a substantial amount of his law school tuition. Glinzak met with the Dean of Admissions and was informed that the admissions office read many of his Acton blog posts. Glinzak was told that his contributions and writing for Acton was a determining factor in receiving the scholarship.
Currently, Glinzak is halfway done with his studies at Valparaiso and was extended an offer from the United States Marine Corps to attend Officer Candidate School (OCS) this summer. Upon completion of OCS, Glinzak will be a commissioned officer, and, after completion of law school and training, will be a Judge Advocate (a JAG officer). "I am humbled by this opportunity and look forward to serving my country," said Glinzak. He added:
I am very fortunate that not only is Valparaiso University a great place for me to call home for a few years, but I have also been successful with both classes and extracurricular activities. I am currently in the top 25 percent of my class, completed an internship at the Cook County States Attorney's Office, and made my school's Trial Advocacy Team. My time at Acton was really well spent. While I already graduated from college, the learning process still continued while I worked at Acton. Working at a place that fosters the same core values I possess was a dream come true. I never would have thought I would work at such a great place as soon as I graduated from Michigan State.
Rev. Robert Sirico and Jeff Sandefer have written a "blueprint" to the heroic life in A Field Guide for the Hero's Journey. The book published in the Fall of 2012 is called "the modern 'how-to' for entrepreneurs working on accomplishing big things" by Andreas Widmer, cofounder of SEVEN Fund. Jeff Sandefer is an entrepreneur and educator. He started his first business at age 16. After earning an MBA, he founded Sandefer Offshore, an oil and gas company that generated hundreds of millions of dollars in profits in less than five years. He then ran Sandefer Capital Partners, a half-billion dollar energy investment fund.
Field Guide for the Hero's Journey, available on Amazon, serves to inspire people to tap into greatness by looking at classic stories and literature. Adam Myerson, President of The Philanthropy Roundtable declared:
Jeff Sandefer and Rev. Robert Sirico have national reputations as extraordinary teachers who change the lives of their students forever. Guided by the premise that everyone has the potential to be a hero, this inspirational and practical book will help you focus on the right questions that will enable you to lead a life of purpose, achievement, and, yes, heroism.
The book contains treasures like the poem "High Flight" by John Gillespie Magee, Jr. Magee died in a mid-air collision in World War II and his poem was quoted by President Ronald Reagan after the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster in 1986. The book will help the reader develop a deeper life, engage in critical thinking, and offer a broader thought than much of the culture is offering today.
Dave Doty, author of Eden's Bridge, declared in a review:
A Field Guide for the Hero's Journey "intelligently captures the core lessons of many lifetimes, the secrets not only to success but the true meaning of success, then offers them up in compelling, manageable, and memorable short bits, easy to read and inviting to be read time and time again."