Category: Acton Commentary

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Day five of the Holy and Great Council. Photo: Dimitrios Panagos

Recently, The Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church was held in Crete, culminating in a document titled “The Mission of the Orthodox Church in Today’s World”.  In the most recent Acton Commentary, research fellow and managing editor of the Journal of Markets & Morality Dylan Pahman comments on the flaws in economic principles and guidelines espoused in the document.

In framing the criticism, Pahman argues that “the statement’s economic pronouncements range from ambiguous and questionable to both wrong and harmful.”  Says Pahman:

While claiming that the “Church cannot remain indifferent to the economic processes which have a negative impact on all humanity,” the mission document gives little indication that its authors are aware of any actual, basic economic processes like competition, the price system, business cycles, creative destruction, inflation, and so on. Instead, it ambiguously asserts the “need … of structuring the economy on moral principles.”

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51DoYmEdweL“When I first read the description of Fr. Alexander Torik’s novel Flavian, I was skeptical,” says Rev. Gregory Jensen in this week’s Acton Commentary. “Recently translated from Russian, it is the story of “an unexpected turning point in the life of Aleksei, a quite ordinary city dweller.”

A chance meeting with a former classmate turned much in the life of this physics-major-turned-successful-manager upside down, setting Aleksei on a new path with many amazing discoveries along the way.” I couldn’t help wondering if this was going to be simply a diatribe against business, the free market and the West.

But read it I did. And what I discovered wasn’t an angry preacher heaping scorn on the unrepentant but a loving pastor offering spiritual guidance to his flock.

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

Image credit: Guy Mendes

Image credit: Guy Mendes

A new documentary, The Seer: A Portrait of Wendell Berry, misses the real story on U.S. farming productivity, says Bruce Edward Walker in this week’s Acton Commentary.

Perhaps it’s the fact that the bulk of the film’s running time ignores two-thirds of what, for me, makes Berry so special – his fiction and poetry – in favor of what renders him more of a curmudgeon, which is his activism against industrial agriculture. Somebody cue up the mid-1980s John Mellencamp and rally the Farm Aid troops, because tobacco farms in Berry’s backyard are struggling. According to the film, some tobacco farmers – gasp! – have been forced to diversify their crops, or increase the amount of acreage farmed in order to optimize expensive new equipment while eking out miniscule profits.

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

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
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ca-civilwarThe new Marvel film Captain America: Civil War examines the conflict between conscience and coercion, says Jordan Ballor in this week’s Acton Commentary.

The latest superhero blockbuster Captain America: Civil War opened to a huge box office as well as to critical acclaim last weekend. The basic dynamic of the film focuses on conflict between authority and responsibility. The film could well be understood as an extended reflection on Edmund Burke’s observation: “Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without.”

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

Banca_Monte_dei_Paschi_di_Siena_in_Pisa“Money has not only the character of money,” says Samuel Gregg in this week’s Acton Commentary, “but it also has a productive character which we commonly call capital.”

Like all medieval clergy, Olivi and Bernardine fiercely opposed usury. “Usury,” Bernardine wrote, “concentrates the money of the community in the hands of a few, just as if all the blood in a man’s body ran to his heart and left his other organs depleted.” Yet the same Bernardine also invested time in explaining why it was legitimate for creditors to charge interest on loans to compensate themselves for relinquishing the opportunity to invest their money elsewhere. In such circumstances, the lender had a right to be compensated for what amounted to foregone profits. “What,” Bernardine maintained, “in the firm purpose of its owner is ordained to some probable profit has not only the character of mere money or a mere thing, but also beyond this, a certain seminal character of something profitable, which we commonly call capital.”

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

A few weeks ago in connection with Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, I looked at Lex Luthor as the would-be crony capitalist über Alles, and pointed to Bruce Wayne along with Senator Finch as the economic and political counterpoints to such corruption, respectively.

In this week’s Acton Commentary, Daniel Menjivar looks more closely at Bruce Wayne as representative of aristocratic virtue, the capitalist hero to Luthor’s crony capitalist villain. And while, as Menjivar concludes, “In cape and cowl he is a true hero, the Dark Knight. But in suit and tie, Bruce Wayne is the quintessential capitalist superhero, a shining example of corporate nobility,” Menjivar also notes that Wayne is an imperfect hero.

Threat Bruce Wayne“One clear fault is Bruce’s assumption that by simply fulfilling the material needs of the survivors he has done his part. This is most clearly evidenced in the character of Wallace Keefe, the very man that Bruce Wayne pulled from the rubble of the Wayne building in Metropolis. Wallace loses his legs in the aftermath of the battle, however, he refuses and returns all of Bruce Wayne’s checks,” writes Menjivar.
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Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
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batman-v-superman-poster-batman-vs-superman-and-the-dc-movies-slow-down“The real hero of the recently released Batman v. Superman film is an often overshadowed character, Bruce Wayne,” says Daniel Menjivar in this week’s Acton Commentary. “Batman’s alter ego, Bruce Wayne is the CEO of Wayne Enterprises and the hero that Gotham, and in the case of this film, Metropolis needs too. Bruce Wayne is, in fact, a capitalist superhero.”

In an opening scene, we find Wayne landing in the city of Metropolis as Superman and General Zod battle in the skies and skyscrapers above him. As citizens flee the ongoing destruction, Bruce Wayne does the opposite, dodging collapsing buildings and abandoned vehicles. We find that his goal is Wayne Tower, and his mission is to oversee the evacuation of his employees. Upon arriving at the tower Bruce immediately begins helping those around him, pulling a man from the rubble and saving a little girl from falling debris. Wayne does not sit back safely from afar and either mourn the loss of human capital or make mental notes to hire more employees. Neither does he do a cost-benefit analysis of trying to save those who work for him: instead he knows the value of human life and risks his own to save it.

The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here. And in case you aren’t familiar with the movie Menjivar is referring to, here is the official trailer:
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