The 2015 Acton Lecture Series got off to a rousing start last week with the arrival of Jeffrey Tucker, Chief Liberty Officer of Liberty.me, to deliver the first lecture of this year’s series, entitled “Capitalism Is About Love.” If you go by the conventional wisdom, that seems to be a counterintuitive statement. Jeffrey Tucker explains how the two are actually bound up together.

You can watch the lecture via the video player below, and if you haven’t had a chance to hear the Radio Free Acton interview with Tucker, I’ve included it after the jump.

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Creación_de_AdámDorothy Sayers, playwright, novelist and Christian scholar, wrote an important work in the 1930s entitled, Are Women Human? In her essay, she presents the biblical case for gender equality in a humorous and insightful way, grounding mutuality in theological anthropology. From the Genesis narratives to the new earth of Revelation, she affirms this thesis:

We are all human beings, made in the image of God with a job to do. And we do our jobs as a man or a woman.

This theological vision — of men and women in mutual love and respect carrying out their vocations for the glory of God and the good of others — undergirds the best of ecclesial, economic, political, and social liberty, and it has implications for the full range of human interactions and relationships. Notice the order of reflection: Creator > human identity > the call to worship/work > gender identity.

Alas, the effacing (not erasing) of the imago dei has led humankind down all manner of oppressive pathways, from dehumanizing and disintegrating practices of pagan and secular ideologies to the degrading subjugation of women, minorities, and many others in the name of “religious tradition.”

For followers of Jesus, a full vision of God’s reign includes living the future now in the power of the Holy Spirit, with the church as the herald and witness of the fullness to come. This includes redeeming the wholeness of being human, integrating all facets of individual and social being, including relational shalom. Women and men who love Jesus are icons of the coming kingdom. Singleness is not incompleteness, but a signpost of a future where all God’s people are married to Christ and sisters and brothers of one another. Marriage is a special illumination of Christ’s delight in his church, not a superior status. (more…)

slavery-handsThousands of girls and women in Iraq and Syria have been captured by the Islamic State and sold into sex slavery. But one Iraqi man is trying to save them by buying sex slaves in order to free and reunite them with their families.

As the Christian Post reports, “an Iraqi man, who remains nameless, disguises himself as a human trafficking dealer in order to ‘infiltrate’ the Islamic State and get the militants to sell him sex slaves. But in purchasing sex slaves, the man finds a way to reunite them with their fathers, husbands, and the rest of their family.”

It’s hard to criticize a man for using his resources and risking his life in order to free these women. But while the individual effects—women and girls being freed—are laudatory, the long term effect of implementing the policy on a large scale could be disastrous.

In the 1990s, humanitarian groups traveled to Sudan to redeem slaves by buying them out of slavery. The result of the program, as economist Tyler Cowen explains, was likely an increase in the number of people enslaved.

detroitDetroit home owners are being put out of their homes, but it’s not because of bankers. Then by who?

It’s the Detroit city government seeking to collect back real estate taxes. There are always tax foreclosures, but foreclosures are growing from 20,000 in 2012 to an expected 62,000 in 2015. Who is putting poor people on the streets in Detroit? The government.

There is a twist here based on the fact that Detroit homes have an old (and therefore way too high) assessed valuation that the taxes are based on. So for the homeowners, it’s easier to let the property go into a tax foreclosure and then buy it back at a tax sale than it is to pay the overdue taxes based on assessed property values that have fallen 70% in recent years. People follow incentives.

We have a narrative in America stating that all financial evils come from the banks. Even Scott Burns used his space to hammer the banks for the 2008 collapse. His proof: The fines that large banks have paid to the government. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, January 29, 2015
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Morality in the Marketplace: A Catechism for Business
Joseph Pearce, The Imaginative Conservative

There are many books on my shelves that haunt me with a sense of guilt every time they catch my eye. They are my sins of omission, those worthy tomes that deserve my attention and which I should have read but which I have thus far neglected. “Read it?”

Resist or Accommodate Evil: There is No “Third Way”
Jeffery J. Ventrella, Public Discourse

When conscience flirts with the idea of accommodating an unjust law, it must politely, yet firmly, reject the sirens of seduction

How Hurricane Katrina Made Radical School Choice Possible in New Orleans
Katherine Mangu-Ward & Todd Krainin, Reason.com

“Katrina literally and figuratively washed away many of the institutional barriers that had prevented us from even imagining that we could make systemic changes to this school system,” says Patrick Dobard, superintendent of Louisiana’s Recovery School District.

A new study argues cutting unemployment benefits created 1.8 million jobs
Max Ehrenfreund, Washington Post

Economists will debate what happened, but one of the more controversial theories is that Congress’s decision not to extend federal unemployment benefits at the end of 2013 encouraged those out of work to settle for more poorly paid jobs, giving firms a better reason to expand and hire new workers.

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
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“Consumption serves, sustains and deepens community—above all the Eucharistic community,” says Rev. Gregory Jensen in this week’s Acton Commentary.

Consumption is not an end in itself but has a purpose. We are, Schmemann says, called by God “to propagate and have dominion over the earth”; that is to say, consumption serves human flourishing. The first chapters of Genesis portray creation as “one all-embracing banquet table,” foreshadowing a central theme in the New Testament. In the Kingdom of God we will “eat and drink” at the table of our Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 22:30), the Eucharist standing at the mid-point between the creation of the world and its eschatological fulfillment.

We are therefore consumers by nature; if we weren’t then the reception of Holy Communion would be a sin. More importantly, our consumption finds its source and fulfillment in the Eucharist, in our obedient response to Jesus’ command that we “take and eat.”

The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.

DowntonAbbey1After what seemed to be an interminably long wait, Downton Abbey, a British period drama on PBS, recently returned to America. Many of us who have been hooked on the show for four seasons tune in each Sunday night to watch the new twists in the saga of the Earl and Countess of Grantham, their household, and their servants.

But as with most pop culture artifacts, this series about Victorian England is having a subversive effect on the views of modern Americans. Who would have guessed when the show premiered in the U.S. in 2011 that it would undermine liberal arguments about the significance of income inequality?

Many of those concerned about income inequality, though, don’t quite grasp that fact yet. Indeed, some even think the show proves their point. For example, Brett Arends, a columnist for MarketWatch, recently wrote an article titled, “Inequality worse now than on ‘Downton Abbey’” in which he notes,
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“This is useless. This is gratuitous. This is wonder.” –Evan Koons

When we consider the full realm of Christian stewardship, our minds immediately turn to areas like business, finance, ministry, the arts, education, and so on — the places where we “get things done.”

But while each of these is indeed an important area of focus, for the Christian, stewardship also involves creating the space to stop and simply behold our God. Yes, we are called to be active and diligent and fruitful in acts of service and discipleship, but at the core, what is driving the work of our hands? Do we take the time to simply delight in our God, to behold the beauty of his creation, to reflect on his goodness, to fear him deeply and profoundly, to open our hearts and eyes and ears to the whispers of the Holy Spirit?

In For the Life of the World: Letters to the Exiles, they call this space the Economy of Wonder, and over at the FLOW blog, Evan Koons has been leaning on heavyweights like Peter Kreeft and Hans Urs von Balthasar to remind us of its importance. In a society where everything is weighed and rewarded and justified according to its pragmatic use, how do we relish in God’s divine mystery? (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
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Connecticut’s Homeschool Hokum
Matthew Hennessey, City Journal

The Sandy Hook Advisory Commission continues to tread on parents’ rights.​

‘Free’ Community College Will Just Make High School Six Years Long
Georgi Boorman, The Federalist

When personal investments are converted to universal entitlements, quality declines for everyone while the tax increases are a burden we will pay forever.

Princeton professor and others offer to take 1,000 lashes for Saudi blogger Raif Badawi
FoxNews.com

A Princeton University professor and a prominent Muslim American figure, as well as five other religious freedom advocates, are offering to take 100 lashes each for imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi who was sentenced by Saudi Arabia to 1,000 lashes for insulting his country’s clerics.

State high court’s vote affecting Scout affiliation stirs debate anew
Thomas Curwen, LA Times

High court voted to bar judges from belonging to nonprofit youth organizations that practice discrimination.

Jeffrey Tucker at the 2015 Acton Lecture Series

Jeffrey Tucker speaks at the 2015 Acton Lecture Series

It’s always good to welcome old friends to the Acton Building. Last week it was our pleasure to welcome Jeffrey Tucker, author, speaker, and the founder and Chief Liberty Officer of Liberty.me to Grand Rapids in order to deliver the first Acton Lecture Series lecture of 2015, entitled “Capitalism is About Love.” (We’ll be posting audio and video of his address later this week.)

Jeffrey took some time to join me in the Acton Studios to talk about the premise of his lecture, and about his take on the state of the world as we head into 2015. You can listen to the latest edition of Radio Free Acton featuring my interview with Jeffrey Tucker via the audio player below.