Religion & Liberty Article Listing

The Works and Words of Love

In July 2007, the Rev. John A. Nunes was named president of Lutheran World Relief. He becomes only the fourth president to lead the international development and relief organization since it’s founding in 1945. Nunes, 44, is a former research fellow at the Acton Institute and a long-time lecturer at Acton University and the Toward a Free and Virtuous Society student conferences. At Baltimore-based LWR, Rev. Nunes will lead a staff of nearly 100 people, directing projects in thirty-five different countries, and managing a budget currently at $34.6 million. The author of the book, Voices from the City, Rev. Nunes is a contributing scholar for Modern Reformation magazine, and holds membership in the American Academy of Religion. He spoke recently with Religion & Liberty executive editor John Couretas.


Editor's Note

When the Acton Institute was first established, part of our mission was to influence future leaders. We have done that in countless way through our array of programs, but this issue of R&L highlights one particularly important example. The Reverend John A. Nunes, a Lutheran minister, is our feature interview this month. Nunes was recently appointed to head up Lutheran World Relief. Aside from the genuine pride we have that one of our colleagues has been entrusted with such an important mission, we are also excited to see how the principles that Pastor Nunes wrote about for Acton will now animate LWR’s service to those in material need, and in need of the Gospel.

In our interview, Pastor Nunes speaks about his experience doing community work in Detroit, and what he learned about “accompaniment”—meaning not doing something for or ...

Walter Eucken

An intellectual architect of West Germany’s post-war economic miracle, Walter Eucken was the primary founder of the Freiburg ordo-liberal school of economics. The son of Rudolf Eucken—winner of the 1908 Nobel Prize in Literature—Walter Eucken studied history before turning his attention to economics during his studies at the universities of Bonn, Kiel, and Jena. Eucken became a professor of economics at the University of Freiburg in 1927, remaining there until his death in 1950.

Though proficient in technical economics, Eucken was primarily interested in the broader issue of the legal rules that make both freedom and market economies...

Solzhenitsyn and Russia's Golgotha

In the “Ascent,” one of the autobiographical sections of Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, you will find the justly famous assertion that “the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between political parties—but right through every human heart.”

And read just a little further and you come to these words, not so well known but just as true, which describe the evil that roots itself not in the personal, but in the political:

… I have come to understand the falsehood of all the revolutions in history: They destroy only those carriers of evil contemporary with them (and also fail, out of haste, to discriminate the carriers of good as well). And they then take to themselves as their heritage the actual evil itself, magnified still more.

Solzhenitsyn was a writer whose vast body of work, beginning with the great artistic...

Why is the Acton Institute producing documentaries?

In a word, audience. With this year’s release of The Call of the Entrepreneur, Acton is embarking on one of the most important—and potentially most influential—media programs in its seventeen-year history.

Acton has always been a leader on the communications front. This is true for our high quality journals and newsletters, and for our web presence, which makes use of the latest tools such as podcasts, video, and the Acton PowerBlog. The move into documentaries is a natural progression and one that taps into the dominant medium of our age—the motion picture—in high definition video.

The Call of the Entrepreneur tells the story of three very different entrepreneurs—a farmer, a financial executive...

What is Capitalism?

Rev. Robert Sirico

It’s not entirely easy to understand why, but the term capitalism is almost universally used derisively, particularly in religious circles. To say something is capitalist is to condemn it without argument, as if the label alone settles the question.

Let’s say that we believe that there are only two possible systems of organizing the economic forces of society: capitalism and socialism. It would seem from experience and logic that there is no contest. The experience with socialism has been one long and grueling disaster for every country that has tried it, while capitalism has created prosperity consistent with human rights.

And yet I suspect that this is not what people mean when they refer to...

The Leaky Bucket: Why Conservatives Need to Learn the Art of Story

In his biography of St. Thomas Aquinas, G. K. Chesterton said that “most men must have a revealed religion, because they have not time to argue.” The same might be true for political philosophy. In the Age of Information, most men do not have time to sift critically through the barrage of information that comes their way. So if most people do not have time to reason out their own political philosophy, how do they decide which to adopt as their own?

Sixty years ago, in a time of less noise, Friedrich Hayek offered an answer. His essay, The Intellectuals and Socialism, examined “the character of the process by...

Double-Edged Sword: The Power of the Word

Matthew 6:1–4

“Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let you left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your almsgiving may be in secret. And you Father who sees in secret will repay you.”

In this passage and those surrounding it, Jesus compares the rewards of “the hypocrites” and those who follow his words. But some of the subtlety of the lesson is lost in translation. When describing the reward of the hypocrites, the Greek word used for reward denotes giving of a receipt for a full payment—in other words, a...

Ideology vs. Reality

© Free Software Foundation, Inc.

If one becomes aware that the original moral argument for socialism is wrong—that capitalism is actually benefiting people and serving the common good—why would one hold on to the ideology rather than abandon it? Clearly, it is difficult to abandon a lifelong ideology, especially if one considers the only available alternative to be tainted with evil. Thus socialism was for generations of socialists simply an entrenched dogma. It was possible for them to argue the finer points, but not to abandon it.

However understandable this might be, it is not praiseworthy. To hold on to a doctrine that is demonstrably false is to abandon all pretense of objectivity. If someone could demonstrate to...

Editor's Note

In this issue of Religion & Liberty we meet a giant of the Twentieth century: Alexander Solzhenitsyn of Russia. He has been both widely celebrated and widely reviled. His courage is admirable-—risking his life and suffering the torment of the Soviet gulag. Now in his old age, his place is secure as a hero in the history of liberty.

For those unfamiliar with the great Russian, Acton’s own John Couretas provides an excellent introduction to Solzhenitsyn in his review essay. As Couretas notes, because Solzhenitsyn was at the same time a serious Christian, devoted patriot, and defender of liberty, he was not well received by those who thought Christianity and patriotism were enemies of freedom. For those of us who believe in both religion and liberty, Solzhenitsyn is a friend.

I would like to use this space to note the death late last year of Milton Friedman....

The Culture of Charity

What motivated you to write this book? What questions were you hoping to answer?

Arthur Brooks

I’m an economist and I’ve been doing charitable giving research for a long time. When economists look at charitable giving now, they always ask these prosaic questions like, “what will happen to charitable giving if we decrease the death tax by a quarter?” They’re important questions, but they’re really all about economic incentives. Over the years I’ve been involved in a lot of charitable giving efforts from the university and through my own church. Nobody has ever said to me privately, “The reason I give is because of that sweet tax break.” That’s not...

Mandated Giving Doesn't Come from the Heart

Rev. Robert Sirico

It seems that some Biblical fallacies never go away, especially as regards redistribution and the poor. Hardly a day passes when I don't hear some version of the following: The Gospels speak clearly on the issue of the poor. They must be cared for. Special obligation falls to the rich who have the resources to care for them. This country has programs in place that are designed to do just that. Therefore, Christians have an obligation to politically support these programs.

The problem here is the slick move from personal ethics to public policy. What is required of us as individuals may or may not translate into a civic policy priority. In the case of the welfare state, it is possible to argue...

Tommaso de Cajetan

Tommaso de Cajetan Described as small of stature and giant in intellect, Cardinal Tommaso de Cajetan, O.P., was praised by Pope Clement VII as the “lamp of the Church.” Cajetan is perhaps most famous for being the legate sent by Pope Leo X to Germany to try and persuade Martin Luther to back down from his confrontation with the Roman Church. Less well known are Cajetan’s important contributions to economic thought, described by the economic historian Raymond de Roover as helping “to lift the barriers that still opposed the march of capitalism.”

Born in Gaeta, Italy, into a...

Praying and Paying: Amity Shlaes' The Forgotten Man

In my high school U.S. history class, I often argued with my teacher about the legacy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. My youthful contention was that FDR had expanded the scope of government beyond the intent of the founders and harmed the economy. My teacher took the conventional view of Roosevelt as a hero who got us out of the Great Depression. But I wouldn’t budge.

I had been shaped by my parents, especially my mother—a staunch opponent of Roosevelt since the time she was a teenager. We sometimes forget the passion that Roosevelt enkindled both pro and con. During the depression, my mother would argue vigorously with her father, a Hartford fireman and committed Democrat, that Roosevelt’s New Deal was exacerbating the depression and placing America on a path toward statism. Her father said that she would grow up and know better. “I did,” she told...

Double-Edged Sword: The Power of the Word

Luke 17:12–19

As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

The compassion of Christ is endless. In this passage we hear about Christ and his healing of ten men who were afflicted with leprosy. It is important to note the ten...