Acton Notes - March/April Notes

Evening Speakers Announced for Acton University

Acton University will take place over June 18 – 21, 2013 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The evening speakers for the conference are Acton President Rev. Robert Sirico, Marina Nemat, William McGurn, and William B. Allen.

Marina Nemat was born in 1965 in Tehran, Iran. After the Islamic Revolution of 1979, she was arrested at the age of sixteen and spent more than two years at a political prison in Tehran, where she was tortured and came very close to execution. Her memoir of her life in Iran, Prisoner of Tehran, was published in Canada by Penguin Canada in 2007. In 2007, Marina received the inaugural Human Dignity Award by the European Parliament.

William McGurn is the editorial page editor of The New York Post. Previously he was a Vice President for News Corporation and a columnist for The Wall Street Journal. From 2005 to 2008, he served as chief speechwriter for President George W. Bush. Prior to his work at the White House, he was the chief editorial writer for The Wall Street Journal, and spent more than 10 years overseas – in Europe and in Asia – for Dow Jones.

William B. Allen is Emeritus Professor of Political Philosophy in the Department of Political Science and Emeritus Dean of James Madison College, at Michigan State University. He served previously on the United States National Council for the Humanities and as Chairman of the United States Commission on Civil Rights. Currently he serves as Visiting Senior Professor in the Matthew J. Ryan Center for the Study of Free Institutions and the Public Good at Villanova University.

For a more in-depth bio of these speakers and other lecturers at Acton University, please visit You can also access more general information about the conference at the website.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, William B. Allen will be unable to speak or attend Acton University.

CLP Publishes Holistic Stewardship Book

The Acton Institute and Christian's Library Press have published Faithful In All God's House: Stewardship and the Christian Life by Gerard Berghoef and Lester DeKoster. The book was edited by Acton's director of collaborative initiatives, Brett Elder. The title references Numbers 12:7 and Hebrews 3:5, which declares the holistic faithfulness of Moses before the Lord. Faithful In All God's House is a revision of God's Yardstick which was originally published in 1982.

Lester DeKoster and Gerard Berghoef define stewardship as "willed acts of service that not only make and sustain the fabric of civilization and culture, but also develop the soul."

In the introduction, Jim Liske, who is CEO of Prison Fellowship Ministries, notes that "Stewardship is the primary human activity that reveals God's image within us. Stewardship is an activity that leads us to an identity. We do what God wants us to do so that we can become who he wants us to be."

Gerard Berghoef (1926-2007) was a furniture manufacturing executive and also served as an elder in the Christian Reformed Church. Lester DeKoster (1916-2009) received his doctorate from University of Michigan and he was a tenured professor at Calvin College as well as director of the library at Calvin College and Seminary.

This book is just over 100 pages and is excellent for personal use, church groups, or Bible studies. It is available as a soft cover for $8.00 or as an eBook for $5.99. You can order it from the Christian's Library Press site at publications/faithful-all-gods-house.

AU 2012 Lecture Capsule: Cultural Critiques of Capitalism

Michael Miller, a research fellow at the Acton Institute, delivered a lecture on June 15 at Acton University last year that addressed different cultural critiques of capitalism. Global capitalism and globalization have been praised or criticized in many areas, including politics, social concerns, economics, and culture. Heavily attended, the course is one of the most popular lectures at Acton University.

Miller examined the question whether "capitalism destroys culture." He argued that while the market can play a role, it does not play a primary role in cultural breakdown or erosion. "We have a secular socialist culture not a capitalist culture," declared Miller. He noted that we don't have a free market culture or capitalist culture in America, but one that is at best a managerial or corporatist culture. "We actually blame capitalism when there are a host of other factors at stake," added Miller.

Miller said the only solution is to reawaken the moral order and he said it was incumbent upon all of us to reform the culture. He noted it is not enough to hand over trust to a secular state to regulate society and decide what is and what is not appropriate.

He also discussed some of the benefits of globalization and offered examples of baskets from Africa that are sold at Macy's department stores. "You can now buy these traditional baskets at Macy's and it's creating a new industry in the region that is lifting people out of poverty." Miller will instruct the course again at Acton University in June of this year.

Becoming Europe Garnering National Media Attention

In January, Encounter Books published Samuel Gregg's latest work Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and How America Can Avoid a European Future. Gregg examines economic culture to explain how European economic life has drifted in the direction of what Alexis de Tocqueville called "soft despotism," and the ways in which similar trends are manifesting themselves in the United States.

Gregg has discussed the book on several radio and TV shows, including Dennis Miller's radio show, Glenn Beck's The Blaze TV, and Ave Maria's Kresta in the Afternoon. If you want to watch or listen to any of these, most are available on Acton's PowerBlog. Matthew Feeney, assistant editor at Reason Magazine's 24/7 blog says that "Gregg's book is a healthy reminder that the United States has indeed been moving toward a more European economic culture… But thanks to Gregg's book, they cannot claim to have not been warned." Fr C. John McCloskey, a Church historian and research fellow at the Faith and Reason Institute in Washington, says that Becoming Europe is

A very timely book, given the concerning state of our economy and, more importantly, our ever-declining moral life… If we do not want to become like current-day Europe, we need to chart a different course. Perhaps only an unadulterated and evangelizing Catholicism may over time help our country survive in recognizable form and reinvigorate us to in turn re-evangelize with gratitude what is left of Europe, the incubator of our culture.

Michael Sean Winters, a writer for the National Catholic Reporter wrote a critique calling Gregg "Europhobic," and arguing that America becoming more European is not necessarily a bad thing. Gregg responds to this article with 'Think (and Read) before You Blog: A Response to Michael Sean Winters" on the Acton PowerBlog.