Category: Acton Media

There’s an old proverb, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

Life is often difficult, full of challenges, trials, and travails. But it is a testament to the human spirit, created in the image of God to mature and develop morally, spiritually, and intellectually, that in the face of such troubles human ingenuity often wins out. Brad Morgan, a dairy farmer turned fertilizer magnate featured in the documentary The Call of the Entrepreneur, put it this way: “You put your butt in the corner, you’ll be surprised what you can achieve.”

I was reminded of this insight in reading a story this week about a local company, National Nail Corp., whose recent experience embodies this reality. As Jim Harger writes, “When the bottom fell out of the home building industry in 2008, the National Nail Corp. was forced to regroup and diversify, says W. Scott Baker, president and CEO of the employee-owned company.”

One of the new products is called Camo, which “created a new way to nail down deck boards without having nails or screw heads poking through the surface to create slivers, pop up or discolor a deck surface.” As Baker puts it, “Camo was birthed when we found ourselves in a place where no one would have willingly gone.”

I’m not very handy, but Camo looks pretty cool to me.

When your butt is in a corner, you’ll be surprised what you can achieve.

This is an important lesson to remember, especially in the midst of economic turmoil and fiscal crisis. Yes, we live in an age of dizzying change, but with these changes also come new opportunities. God has given human beings the august responsibility to be moral agents, to work productively in service of others. Rather than bemoaning our fate when adversity comes, we ought to look forward in hope and creatively exercise those talents God has given us to find innovative new solutions to the myriad challenges facing the world today.

Samuel Gregg, director of research at the Acton Institute, recently joined Al Kresta of Ave Maria Radio to discuss Gregg’s new book, Becoming Europe.

Amity Shlaes, author of The Forgotten Man and Coolidge, said this about the book: “Gregg spotlights the perils of American progressive arrogance so clearly they can no longer be denied or ignored. His logic is incontrovertible. Every economist, historian, and politician should read Becoming Europe.”

Click on the button below to listen to the Kresta interview:

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Becoming Europe is now available. You can purchase the hardcover or Kindle version here.

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Monday, December 31, 2012

As we close out the year, we want to thank our PowerBlog readers for reading and contributing to our blog. If you’re a new reader we encourage you to catch up by checking out our top 10 most popular posts for 2012:

1. What’s Next in the Fight Against the HHS Mandate
Elise Hilton

Kyle Duncan, general counsel for The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, gives us a glimpse of what is ahead in the fight for religious liberty regarding the Obama Administration’s HHS Mandate, given the outcome of Tuesday’s election.

2. Is The Post Office Trying to Send Us a Message About Freedom?
Joe Carter

“Forever stamps” are a form of non-denominated postage first introduced in 2006. The U.S. Postal Service recently issued a “Four Flags” version which “continues [the U.S. Postal Service's] tradition of honoring the Stars and Stripes.” But there seems something peculiar—even a bit ominous—about the new stamps.

3. Popes Say No to Socialism
Michael Severance

Popes in Rome have attempted to steer the Catholic flock away from the “seductive” forces of socialist ideologies threatening human liberty, which since the late 1800s have relentlessly plucked away at ”the delicate fruit of mature civilizations” as Lord Acton once said.

4. How God Makes a Pencil
Joe Carter

In 1958, Leonard Read published his brilliant essay, “I, Pencil.” The Competitive Enterprise Institute recently released a wonderful video that illustrates Read’s point that the creation of a pencil requires an unfathomable level of complexity and undirected cooperation.

5. Cristiada: A Story of Heroic Martyrdom
Michael Severance

Truth be told, many of us had not heard much about the Cristeros War, the civil rebellion led by priests and laity to resist the total elimination of religious liberty in Mexico in the 1920s under marxist President Plutarco Calles.

(more…)

Field Guide to the Hero's JourneyYou don’t have to wait till Christmas to get your present from the Acton Institute. Just head over to Amazon and get a your free Kindle download of the new book, A Field Guide to the Hero’s Journey.

The book, co-authored by Jeff Sandefer and Rev. Robert Sirico, has been called a “the modern ‘how-to’ for entrepreneurs working on accomplishing big things” by Andreas Widmer, and is a terrific book not only for adults but for young people.

The Kindle edition will only be free on Amazon until the end of this weekend, so get your copy soon.

Rev. Sirico recently appeared on the Hugh Hewitt Show to discuss Michigan’s Right to Work law, his books, The Field Guide to the Hero’s Journey and Defending the Free Market,  the fiscal cliff, and more.

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Rev. Sirico will be on Fox News’ “Your World with Neil Cavuto” at 4:20 EST to discuss the school shooting in Newport, Connecticut.

Rev. Sirico will be on Ave Maria Radio’s “Kresta in the Afternoon” at 4 pm EST to discuss Right to Work laws and Catholic teaching on unions.

Blog author: dpahman
posted by on Wednesday, December 12, 2012

G. K. Chesterton
(one of the founding fathers of distributism)

Today at Ethika Politika, in response to a few writers who have offered, in my estimate, less-than-charitable characterizations of capitalism, I ask the question, “Which Capitalism?” (also the title of my article). I ask this in seriousness, because often the free economy that people bemoan bears little resemblance to the one that many Christians support. In particular, I ask, “Which Capitalism?” in reference to the following from Pope John Paul II, who outlines in his encyclical Centesimus Annus (no. 42) two different forms of capitalism as follows:

The first is “an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector” that “is the victorious social system” since the fall of the Soviet Union and that “should be the goal of the countries now making efforts to rebuild their economy and society.” The second is “a system in which freedom in the economic sector is not circumscribed within a strong juridical framework which places it at the service of human freedom in its totality, and which sees it as a particular aspect of that freedom, the core of which is ethical and religious.”

All three of the authors I take issue with are Roman Catholic and two of them have voiced their support for distributism as an alternative to capitalism. However, I ask with all sincerity, “[S]hould not distributists be asking whether distributism is a form of capitalism, rather than setting it up as an alternative to capitalism?” Given the high praise given by Pope John Paul II to capitalism, rightly understood as the free economy, ought not distributists simply be arguing that they, perhaps, have some valuable insights for supporters of capitalism, rather than opposing distributism to capitalism, uncharitably understood? (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Rev. Sirico will be on the Hugh Hewitt Show today at 8:20pm EST to discuss his book, Defending the Free Market.

Listen to the show on your local Salem station or live online here.

Acton’s Director of Media, Michael Matheson Miller, discusses the current state of American thought on state, Church, family and liberty in Legatus Magazine. He focuses on the work of two Frenchmen: Alexis de Tocqueville and Jean Jacques Rousseau.

Many of the differences can be boiled down to what we mean by community. Rousseau’s vision of community is what the sociologist Robert Nisbet called the “political community.” For Rousseau, the two main elements of society are the individual and the state. All other groups — including the Church — are viewed as inhibiting individual freedom and detracting from political community that is found in the state.

Tocqueville’s vision of community, on the other hand, is not reduced to the “political community” but instead means a wide variety of associations, different levels of groups, and layers of authority. Society is not made up of autonomous individuals and an omnicompetent state, but is a diverse group of overlapping associations like families, churches, schools, and mutual-aid societies.

Read “Community, liberty and freedom” in Legatus here.