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Religion & Liberty Article Listing

Breaking Bread at Acton University

A rabbi, a school teacher, an economics major and a director of a non-profit sit down for a meal: It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but I assure you, it is not. It is lunch at Acton University.

I find it difficult to think of another single event that draws together such a diverse group of individuals from around the world, all focused on one ideal: exploring the intellectual foundations of a free and virtuous society. The Acton Institute sets the benchmark very high for this event, held every year in Grand Rapids, MI, in June, and I am pleased to say that every year, we seem to exceed our own expectations.

Don't mistake this for hubris; it is the very people who attend that make Acton University the heady experience that it is. I could talk about our impressive faculty (whose expertise ranges from economics to human trafficking to theology to community...

Hildegard of Bingen

Hildegard of Bingen

God has gifted creation with everything that is necessary . . . . Humankind, full of all creative possibilities, is God's work. Humankind is called to co-create . . . . God gave to humankind the talent to create with all the world. Just as the human person shall never end, until into dust they are transformed and resurrected, just so, their works are always visible. The good deeds shall glorify, the bad deeds shall shame.

"This strange child" is how Hildegard was once described. Born in 1098, she was known to have visions, but kept them private for many years. Her family sent her at the age of eight for religious education. It was not until the age of 42 that she realized the full extent of her...

Why is Acton accepting Bitcoin donations?

In December of 2013, the Acton Institute started accepting Bitcoin donations. Bitcoin is the first decentralized digital currency that is created and exchanged electronically. While the currency solely exists in an online capacity, it can be transferred or used to purchase non-virtual goods and services. It allows online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through financial institutions.

It's a new, cheaper, and easier way for some to transfer payment in the global economy. Bitcoin can easily be exchanged into currency, which is exactly what we plan to do with our donations. It would be unwise for Acton to use resources to try and speculate about the fluctuating value of Bitcoin in the market so we will immediately convert the donations into dollars. As I write this, one Bitcoin is currently trading at $605.

A few retailers accept...

Knowledge and Power: The Information Theory of Capitalism and How it is Revolutionizing our World

Knowledge and Power by George Gilder

Review of Knowledge and Power by George Gilder (Regnery Publishing, 2013) 400 pages; $27.95.

We are trained and educated to comprehend the operations of the universe in a materialistic way, where physical and chemical processes are assumed to be the deepest level of knowledge that can be acquired. George Gilder, in his new book Knowledge and Power, disputes that. The universe, he writes, is actually a vast information system of unfathomable limits.

Ever since the rise of information theory in the 1940s, it is becoming increasingly clear that the universe is, in a sense, digital. Information, logic, data, whatever you want to call it, lies even deeper than the material...

Reckoning with Markets: Moral Reflection in Economics

Reckoning with Markets

Review of Reckoning with Markets: The Role of Moral Reflection in Economics by James Halteman and Edd Noell. (Oxford University Press, 2012) 240 pages; $31.50.

Sometimes a book has considerable value for readers beyond its primary audience. Such is the case for a slender hardback written by two professors teaching business and economics at two Christian colleges (Wheaton in Illinois and Westmont in California). Not surprisingly, Reckoning with Markets seems aimed for Christian college students. Nonetheless, readers need not hail from collegiate environments to gain from moral reflections on economic justice and an exploration of developments in economic thought today.

Chapter one begins...

Double-Edged Sword: The Power of the Word - Psalm 136:1

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.

This passage is unique amongst the Psalms because the refrain "His love endures forever" is repeated throughout all 26 verses of the Psalm. As the British evangelist and theologian Charles Spurgeon points out, "We shall have this [refrain] repeated in every verse of this song, but not once too often." No matter what we give to the Lord or offer Him, He always offers so much more.

One of the aspects of life that is difficult for many is how often our lives change. But the Lord remains faithful in every aspect of His nature. Christ came to earth to rescue us, He will return for us too. There is a great and grand comfort in the enduring and eternal nature of His presence, sovereignty, and His love.

The Lord is Himself goodness. Humanity has witnessed the...

The Tipped Scales Against our Youth

If you listen to any pop-music outlet today, there is a song titled "American Girl" by Bonnie McKee. In the song's chorus, the line states, "I was raised by a television, every day is a competition." It is unclear whether that line was written out of a sociological observation, life experiences of the songs' writers, or simply because it is catchy. Regardless, those of us left sitting on the wire observing society, are left to ponder whether the line has a deeper meaning than its bubblegum pop crust. Is it possible that some within this new generation are lost and confused by the glitter and glamour of worldly options? That all of the shiny things in life, all the guarantees of behavioral dogmatics and all of the...

Poverty and Ultimate Riches

An Interview with Fr. James Schall SJ

Father James Schall was a Professor in the Department of Government at Georgetown University for over 35 years. He retired from that position in 2012. He is the author of numerous books, including: Another Sort of Learning (Ignatius Press, 1988); Idylls and Rambles (Ignatius Press, 1994); and Religion, Wealth and Poverty (Fraser Institute Press, 1990). His most recent book is Reasonable Pleasures: The Strange Coherences of Catholicism (Ignatius Press, 2013). In August of 2013, Schall published a piece in The Catholic World Report that received considerable attention titled, "Do Christians Love Poverty?" He recently spoke with managing editor Ray Nothstine.

R&L: What is the most common misconception that Christians make today about how...

Editor's Note

It's always appropriate to discuss the tragedy of poverty, perhaps even more so with the approaching 50th anniversary of many of The Great Society programs. Much of America's government centralization has been motivated by movements to alleviate poverty and care for the downtrodden. An iconic Life Magazine photo spread in 1964 titled, "The Valley of Poverty" visualized for Americans haunting images of poverty in Appalachia. But many agree that the government's war on poverty has largely been a failure with devastating consequences.

In this interview with Father James Schall, he helps us to think differently about poverty. Father Schall, a logical and clear thinker, turns many of the arguments we hear in society about poverty on their head and reintroduces us to deeper truths about the human person and Church teaching.

Rodger E. Broom...

Creative Destruction

It is heart-breaking: a major city in our nation, Detroit, filing for bankruptcy. For anyone having visited Detroit recently, there are prominent images: rows of ruined houses, empty lots given over to weeds and strewn garbage, empty storefronts and graffiti. Just a few decades ago, Detroit was a major hub of industry, vitality and culture.

Many issues are at play here, and I don't mean to discuss them all. Instead, I wish to focus on something I related in Defending the Free Market: the Moral Case for a Free Economy. One chapter in that book focused on "creative destruction:"

… the phenomenon whereby old skills, companies, and sometimes entire industries are eclipsed as new methods and businesses take their place. Creative destruction is seen in layoffs, downsizing, the...

Margaret Thatcher

No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he'd only had good intentions; he had money as well.

Margaret Thatcher was the only female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and was leader of the Conservative Party from 1975 to 1990. Thatcher won the general election for Prime Minister three times (1979, 1983, and 1987) before finally stepping down in 1990. Conservatives hail Thatcher as the "Iron Lady" for her unwavering conviction to her political beliefs and commanding leadership style. It's a moniker she first received from The Red Star, a Soviet army newspaper that profiled her harsh denouncements of communism.

Thatcher was born Margaret Hilda Roberts in Lincolnshire County, England. As a...

Why is Acton Participating in ArtPrize?

Philanthropist Rick DeVos has described ArtPrize, a public art competition within the city of Grand Rapids, as a "celebration of creativity." DeVos developed ArtPrize five years ago and it's been instrumental in the continued economic and cultural development of downtown Grand Rapids. The ArtPrize competition and exhibits epitomizes the characteristics of human flourishing. That is one of the reasons it makes sense for the Acton Institute to lend its support and get involved as one of the display venues.

ArtPrize, which takes place from September 18 – October 6, is an instrumental event for education and cultivating entrepreneurial skills. The 19 days of public exhibits and art competition is completely free to the public. A total of $560,000 is available to winners at ArtPrize. The public participation and interaction with the art pieces has proven to be...

A Catholic Revolutionary

This article is excerpted from Tea Party Catholic by Samuel Gregg. The new book draws upon Catholic teaching, natural law theory, and the thought of the only Catholic Signer of America's Declaration of Independence, Charles Carroll of Carrollton—the first "Tea Party Catholic"—to develop a Catholic case for the values and institutions associated with the free economy, limited government, and America's experiment in ordered liberty.

On October 15, 1774, the ship Peggy Stewart owned by the Annapolis mercantile company of Dick and Stewart sailed into the harbor of Annapolis in the colony of...

Sentimental Hearts and Invisible Hands

Review of James R. Otteson's, Adam Smith (Bloomsbury Press, August 2013) 200 pages; $29.95

In our day, Adam Smith has generally been represented as if he were simply the Wall Street movie character Gordon Gekko dressed up in an 18th-century wig and breeches. This has not been simply a leftwing view. In his 2006 book Crunchy Cons, the journalist Rod Dreher claimed to be arguing in the name of Russell Kirk that "Adam Smith and Karl Marx are two sides of the same coin"-- gross...

Double-Edged Sword: The Power of the Word - Philippians 3:7-11

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ— the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

Outside of Christ himself, nobody influenced Christianity more than the Apostle Paul. He wrote almost half of the books in the New Testament. Before his conversion, he was named after King Saul, a notoriously...