Acton Notes - September/October 2013 Notes

P.J. O'Rourke Delivers Keynote at Acton Annual Dinner

Noted political journalist and satirist, P.J. O'Rourke, spent much of his address at the Acton Institute Annual Dinner in Grand Rapids, Mich., heralding the contributions and thought of Lord Acton. He tied many of Lord Acton's quotes to contemporary issues in national politics today, reminding the assembled of their timelessness. O'Rourke is the best-selling author of 15 books and both TIME and the Wall Street Journal have labeled O'Rourke "the funniest writer in America." Close to 600 guests attended the 23rd Annual Dinner at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, on October 24.

Rev. Robert Sirico and Rev. Christopher Brooks, Campus Dean at Moody Theological Seminary in Detroit, Mich., also spoke at Acton's dinner. "Acton has given me a backbone by reminding me that brave souls are needed to step into the hearts of cities that have experienced the disease of dependency and the bondage of bureaucracy and the sin of low expectations," declared Rev. Brooks. He praised Acton for being committed to great ideas that can heal cities with heavy doses of "self-government and free-markets." Rev. Brooks emphasized the importance of a vibrant faith to heal the broken cities all across America, and said "only individuals empowered by God when given the opportunity can ultimately flourish."

In his remarks, Rev. Robert Sirico reinforced to the audience the seriousness of the hour facing the prospect of liberty today. He also contrasted the impersonality of the welfare state with the relational aspect of community and Church charity. "We need to see human beings as more than the material, and take them into our care and provide for them, that is the source of authentic charity," said Rev. Sirico. He added that Mother Theresa provided one of the most devastating critiques of Marxism when she declared, "We have no right to condemn the wealthy, we do not believe in class struggle and conflict, but class encounter, where the rich save the poor and the poor save the rich."

Acton Co-Sponsors Sustainable Freedom Conference in Belgium

The Transatlantic Christian Council along with the Acton Institute, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the Colson Center, will be hosting the inaugural "Sustainable Freedom" Conference on December 4, 2013 in Brussels, Belgium.

Featuring keynote speakers Os Guinness and Frits Bolkestein, as well as distinguished panelists and guest speakers from both Europe and the United States including Acton's Rev. Robert A. Sirico as a panel moderator, the conference will focus on the Judeo-Christian roots of individual liberty, free markets and human rights. It will be an exciting day of networking and debate that is open to all who share a belief in human dignity and liberty. The Judeo-Christian belief in the equal and inviolable dignity of each human being as an image-bearer of God is at the root of the common democratic values that form the basis of the transatlantic alliance. In our pluralistic societies, Judeo-Christian perspectives on public policy issues are not only legitimate, but necessary to the European and American commitment to freedom rightly understood.

This event starts at 10:00 a.m. and ends at 5:00 p.m. followed by a reception until 7:00 p.m. Conference costs, including lunch, are covered by the Transatlantic Christian Council. Participants will need to provide their own transportation and accommodations.

For more information, contact Todd Huizinga at or visit to register.

Religious and Economic Liberty Emphasized at Pittsburgh Dinner

On Sept. 18, the Acton Institute held its annual Pittsburgh dinner and lecture downtown at the Duquesne Club. Rev. Robert A. Sirico delivered the keynote lecture for the evening: "Religious Liberty and Economic Liberty: Twin Guarantees for Human Freedom." Rev. Sirico stressed the importance of the citizenry making the important connection between the tie of economic and religious liberty.

Rev. Sirico asked the assembled, "Why is property important to religious liberty?" He made the point that, "property allows us to put ourselves into the creation of things." In the talk, he continued to stress humanity's relationship and attachment to the material world. "From what exists, we can transform nature," added Rev. Sirico. Listen to the entire address at

Acton on Tap Returns

On October 8, Foundation for Economic Education president Larry Reed spoke on the "Lessons our Society can Learn from Rome." Reed spoke at the Speak EZ Lounge in downtown Grand Rapids. Reed explained to the attendees that there is truly nothing new under the sun, as Rome implemented many of the same economic policies that create many of the unintended consequences we see today. "If there is one lesson in history that repeats itself over and over, it is that no people who have lost their character have kept their liberties," added Reed. Acton on Tap is an informal gathering in Grand Rapids that takes the message of a free and virtuous society to new audiences.

David Deavel Receives Novak Award

David P. Deavel, Ph.D., gave the 13th annual Calihan Lecture on Wed., Oct. 30, at the University of St. Thomas Woulfe Auditorium (North) in St. Paul, Minn. Deavel presented "Second Thoughts on Newman: Newman, Constitutions, and Markets." John Henry Newman was a notable 19th Century English Catholic Cardinal. Deavel is an associate editor of Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture and a contributing editor for Gilbert Magazine.

He is currently a fellow of the Center for Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas, where he teaches courses in the Department of Catholic Studies and the St. Paul Seminary. The award acknowledges and rewards those who, relatively early in their academic careers, have made significant contributions to the study of the relationship between religion and economic liberty, and who are deemed likely to make further important contributions. Much of Deavel's research and writing has been on topics related to the Catholic intellectual tradition, most often reflecting his acquaintance with John Henry Newman and G.K. Chesterton.

Deavel, is a frequent contributor to Acton's Religion & Liberty, and a host of other publications that include Catholic World Report, First Things, Journal of Markets and Morality, National Review, and Touchstone. He has also been a faculty member of Acton University in Grand Rapids, Mich.

The Calihan Lecture is delivered by the recipient of the Novak Award, a $10,000 prize. It is named after the American theologian Michael Novak. Recent past award winners include Giovanni Patriarca (2012), Hunter Baker (2011), and Father Kestutis Kevalas (2010). More information about the Novak Award can be found at