On February 18th, the Acton Institute was pleased to welcome Jay Richards and Joseph Pearce to our Mark Murray Auditorium for an exchange on two distinct ideas on economics: Distributism vs. Free Markets. The gentleman’s debate was moderated by Acton Institute President Rev. Robert A. Sirico.
Joseph Pearce, writer in residence at Aquinas College in Nashville, Tennessee, and Director of the college’s Center for Faith and Culture, argued in favor of distributism; Jay Richards, Assistant Research Professor School of Business and Economics at The Catholic University of America, a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute, and Executive Editor of The Stream, defended free markets. It was a lively exchange, and we’re pleased to present the video of the event below.
The 2016 Acton Lecture Series continued on March 3rd at Acton’s Mark Murray Auditorium with an address by Acton Research Fellow and Producer of Poverty, Inc. Michael Matheson Miller. Miller’s topic for the day was “Technocracy and The Global Political Consensus.”
Many of our current political and social challenges center around the fundamental question of what it means to be a human being, and our understanding of what it means to live an authentic human life. The answers to these questions will have profound consequences for liberty, for the family, and for the kind of society we create. We’re pleased to present Miller’s examination of these vital questions via the video player below.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of taking part in a panel discussion at Calvin College, hosted by the Paul B. Henry Institute, focusing on challenges facing the next president. The topic of this inaugural panel for the series was “The Environment,” and there was what I thought was a very worthwhile conversation with Jamie Skillen of Calvin’s Geology, Geography and Environmental Studies department, moderated by Micah Watson of Calvin’s political science department.
I had the chance to prepare some opening remarks, and I ordered them as five basic theses each paired with its own corollary. To wit:
Thesis 1: Our world belongs to God. Corol. God’s world belongs to us.
Thesis 2: Humans have a unique stewardship responsibility. Corol. Humanity is of unique significance in the world.
Thesis 3: Stewardship involves being productive. Corol. A clean environment is a costly good (cf. Cornwall Declaration).
Thesis 4: Economic and environmental stewardship, rightly understood, are not fundamentally opposed. Corol. Short-termism is the enemy.
Thesis 5: Good stewardship of fossil fuels is the key environmental challenge today. Corol. Nuclear has to be part of the solution for transcending fossil fuels.
On November 19, the Acton Institute was pleased to welcome Marina Nemat to the Mark Murray Auditorium as part of the 2015 Acton Lecture Series. Marina was born in 1965 in Tehran, Iran, in what was at the time a relatively secular and free nation. (Granted, she lived under the dictatorship of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi – the Shah of Iran – but as we were reminded a couple of weeks ago by Jay Nordlinger, when it comes to dictators you have to grade on a curve.) After the Islamic Revolution of 1979, she was arrested at the age of sixteen and spent more than two years in Evin, a political prison in Tehran, where she was tortured and came very close to execution.
Since 1991, Marina has lived in Canada. Her memoir of her life in Iran, Prisoner of Tehran, has been published in nearly 30 countries, and has been an international bestseller. In 2007, Marina received the inaugural Human Dignity Award from the European Parliament, and in 2008, she received the prestigious Grinzane Prize in Italy. In 2008/2009, she was an Aurea Fellow at University of Toronto’s Massey College, where she wrote her second book, After Tehran: A Life Reclaimed. Marina regularly speaks at high schools, universities, and conferences around the world and sits on the Board of Directors at CCVT (Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture) and on advisory boards at ACAT (Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture) and PEN Canada. She also teaches memoir writing, in Farsi and in English, at the School of Continuing Studies at University of Toronto and writes book reviews for The Globe and Mail.
In his encyclical Laudato Si’, Pope Francis appeals for “a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.” (n. 14) The encyclical also calls for “broader proposals” (n. 15), “a variety of proposals” (n.60), greater engagement between religion and science (n. 62) and among the sciences (n. 201), and bringing together scientific-technological language with that of the people (n. 143).
In this spirit of dialogue and engagement, the Acton Institute is organizing a half-day conference around the question, “Can free markets help us care for our common home?” The first session will examine the theological and philosophical foundations of Laudato Si’ while the second will look at specific economic, social and environmental issues from various perspectives, such as finance, agriculture and natural resource management. The conference will attempt to carry out the encyclical’s call for open and honest discussion of these and related areas, taking into account the principles of Catholic social teaching, Christian anthropology and stewardship, and the insights of natural and social sciences.
Below, Acton President Rev. Robert A. Sirico offers his personal invitation to the conference, which takes place in Rome at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross on December 3, 2015.
On November 5th, 2015, the Acton Institute was pleased to host Dr. Bradley J. Birzer for a lunch lecture and book launch celebration for the release of his latest book, Russell Kirk: American Conservative.
Russell Kirk has long been known as perhaps the most important founding father of the American Conservative movement in the second half of the 20th century. In the early 1950s, America was emerging from two decades of the Great Depression and the New Deal and facing the rise of radical ideologies abroad; the American Right seemed beaten, broken, and adrift. Then in 1953, Russell Kirk released his masterpiece, The Conservative Mind. More than any other published work of the time, this book became the intellectual touchstone for a reinvigorated movement and began a sea change in Americans’ attitudes toward traditionalism.
Brad Birzer’s new biography recounts the story of Kirk’s life and work, with attention paid not only to his writings on politics and economics, but also on literature and culture, both subjects dear to Kirk’s heart and central to his thinking.
(After the jump, I’ve included the latest edition of Radio Free Acton featuring Brad Birzer, as well as some audio and video highlights of Russell Kirk’s appearances at Acton’s first Annual Dinner, and as part of the 1994 Lord Acton Lecture Series.)