Friday was the last day of Acton University 2012. Here are a few photos from the day’s events. Did you miss AU this year? Be sure to check out our downloadable lectures here.
The first is an interview with Kishore Jayabalan, director of Istituto Acton in Rome, on Distributism as a ‘Third Way':
Gorra: Why do you think distributist premises are so appealing to some?
Jayabalan: Distributism is appealing because it recognizes that there is more to life than economics and especially the production and consumption of material goods. Liberal commercial societies have produced all kinds of wealth and opportunity, but from a Catholic perspective, we know that these are not the ends of life, but rather the means to ensure a just society and eventually to help us lead holier lives. It’s also true that large corporate interests and big government collude to reduce competition and that there is something wrong with our current economic system. It’s always tempting for humans to think that the past was better, that progress is delusional, that we’ve lost our way. But the question is whether the past was as noble was we think it was, and whether some kind of return to a pre-modern way of life is possible or even desirable.
Thursday at Acton University included a lot of high quality lectures, including ones from Eric Metaxas, Victor Claar, Samuel Gregg, Jon Pinheiro, and Jonathan Witt. Here are just a few photos of the day’s events. If you’d like to listen to some of these lectures, we have a digital downloads page for AU2012 set up where you can buy each for $0.99 here.
On the drive over to Acton University this morning I heard an argument on the radio about how the economy would have been fixed if only the dollar amount of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 would have been doubled. What a sad statement to pin your hope to in order to fix the American economy. That argument is unlikely to be uttered at Acton University. Fixing economic problems and lifting up the human condition is not measured by dollars here. Present at Acton University is the strong sense that solving complex problems and failures in society are attainable outside of centralization or a materialistic worldview.
It is easy to walk outside the community and walls of AU and give up on society. But this week has been a powerful reminder that there are hundreds of people here who are certainly brilliant, but more importantly, empowered by our Lord. The conference convicts you that you can do more to transform a hungry and needy world.
It has been a blessing to converse and share fellowship with people like Michael Novak. Novak was speaking out aggressively about the free and virtuous society when free markets were even less popular in the intellectual and academic arena. In a lecture on Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn, Ed Ericson cited Novak’s brilliant essay in response to Solzhenitsyn’s Harvard Address in 1978. Novak, in responding to that address, notes that “the most serious seekers after truth come to unexpected and remarkable convergences.” I can’t think of a better summary for the community and fellowship here at Acton University. While there are certainly theological differences, we are all united and invigorated by the truth. And as Solzhenitsyn himself declared, “One word of truth outweighs the world.”
One of the excellent presentations at Acton University today was Andreas Widmer’s class on “Business as a Moral Enterprise.” For those who missed it, Joe Gorra of the Evangelical Philosophical Society recently interviewed Widmer, a Research Fellow in Entrepreneurship at the Acton Institute, on that same topic:
Gorra: Entrepreneurship is in your bones. You are the co-founder of the SEVEN Fund, which is doing some remarkable work “to dramatically increase the rate of innovation and diffusion of enterprise-based solutions to poverty.” To start off, I want to have you address what might be aptly described as one of your life themes: business as a moral enterprise. Why is it a moral enterprise and not merely a profit-maximizing machine?
Widmer: There is a misconception in our society that business is amoral, or that the pursuit of profit is mutually exclusive to conducting business with virtue. A Moral Enterprise is one that approaches business in the spirit of co-creation: as we pursue entrepreneurship, we mirror God’s image as the creator, and pursue his invitation to participate in his creative power.
Were you unable to attend Acton University 2012? Want to hear a lecture you missed? You’re in luck, because we have (almost) all of the lectures available so far. Stay tuned to grab them as they’re posted to our digital lecture store. Here’s what’s available so far:
Day 1 – June 12
- A Conversation with Michael Novak
Day 2 – June 13
- Christian Anthropology (’12) – Dr. Samuel Gregg
- Person and Property in the Pentateuch – Dr. David Baker
- The Church and Urban Education – Dr. Anthony Bradley
- de Vitoria and Economic Liberty – Dr. Alejandro Chafuen
- The Role of Ideas in Economic History – Prof. Ross Emmett
- Christian Vision of Government – Michael Matheson Miller
- East Meets West: Consumerism and Asceticism – Rev. Gregory Jensen
- Religion and the 21st Century – Rev. Raymond de Souza
- The Unknown Solzhenitsyn – Dr. Edward Ericson
- The Role of the Mega-Church – Rev. Dan Scott
- The Economic Way of Thinking (’12) – Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse
- The Church and God’s Economy – Dr. Jordan Ballor
- Communitarianism: Theory and Critique – Dr. Kenneth Grasso
- Corruption – Prof. Carroll Rios de Rodriguez
- The Gospel of Luke – Prof. Chris Armstrong
- Value Investing – Mr. David Bahnsen
- 19th Century Reflections on Liberty – Michael Matheson Miller
- Tensions in American Conservatism – Dr. Jay Richards
- Biblical Foundations of Freedom – Dr. Charles Self
- An Evening with Arthur Brooks
Day 3 – June 14
- Economics and Human Action – Dr. Peter Boettke
- Orthodoxy, Church and State – Very Rev. Michael Butler
- Christianity and the Scottish Enlightenment – Dr. Samuel Gregg
- Poverty in the Developing World – Michael Matheson Miller
- The Church and Modern Civilization – Dr. Greg Forster
- Vocational Stewardship and Community Transformation – Dr. Amy Sherman
Visit the digital lecture store here to buy individual lectures and to view additional descriptions. Be sure to bookmark it since we’ll be posting more into next week.
Wednesday was filled with learning at Acton University with courses running the entire day. Here are some photos of the second official day. If you see me around the event, don’t be afraid to ask for a picture. We have other photographers covering the event as well and you’ll get to see their pictures later on.
The Acton Institute’s annual Acton University conference kicked off on June 12, 2012 with an evening plenary session featuring a conversation with public intellectual, author, and former US Ambassador Michael Novak.
Tuesday was the first official day of Acton University. I made my way around the Acton office and DeVos Convention Center capturing photos of the initial registration and arrival of participants. Stay tuned for more posts about Acton University.
This is a huge week for us here at Acton. The annual Acton University kicks off tonight and runs through Friday with more than 700 attendees expected from dozens of countries. I’ll be blogging some of the scenes from this amazing event, starting with yesterday’s “prep rally” and breakfast at our offices in Grand Rapids. Stay tuned for more great postings on AU here on the PowerBlog and be sure to follow the Twitter feed on the right hand sidebar. If you’re at the event, make sure you connect with everyone with the #ActonU hashtag.