Category: News and Events

The Black Book of CommunismLord Acton’s famous dictum, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” has been proven true time and time again throughout history, most vividly in totalitarian systems. The worldwide destruction caused by communism is perhaps the prime example.

According to The Black Book of Communism, communist regimes, inspired by Marxist-Leninist ideology, are responsible for nearly 100 million deaths (and counting). However, in contemporary times there seems to be a tendency to ignore this reality. In The Daily Beast article, “Communism’s Victims Deserve a Museum,” James Kirchick highlights a popular sentiment about communism: “Communism is an excellent idea in theory, it just hasn’t worked in practice.”

A turn through the pages of history, however, to the true tyranny of former communist regimes: gulags, executions, forced famines, and destruction of religious freedom, may cause one to question this optimistic and lighthearted view.

In an effort to expose the inhumanity of communism, the Acton Institute will host a lecture event on November 6th featuring Acton’s director of research, Samuel Gregg, and the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art’s education committee chair, Luba Markewycz. The event will place particular focus on the “Holodomor,” the brutal man-made famine imposed on Ukraine by Joseph Stalin’s Communist regime. Markewycz will share her exhibit, “Holodomor Through the Eyes of a Child: The Famine Remembered,” composed of artwork created by contemporary children throughout Ukraine. Gregg will discuss the historical context and the ways in which the Holodomor amounted to an assault on human dignity and basic individual liberties. More details will follow.

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Blog author: ehilton
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
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Captured Iraqi soldiers under ISIS control

Captured Iraqi soldiers under ISIS control

A second reporter has been killed by ISIS, Steven Sotloff. Women are being sold off as “brides.” Teen girls are raped repeatedly. Thousands are murdered. There are plenty of news reports, but in some quarters, the silence is deafening.

Kathryn Jean Lopez asks what can we do, what must we do, in the face of evil, at National Review Online.

I don’t want to have on my conscience that I was complicit in something as horrendous as this simply by being quiet,” is how Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, D.C., reflected on the persecution being conducted against Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq and Syria — which are far enough away from the U.S. that we mostly go on with our lives, perhaps without even a thought or a prayer.

The President plays golf, Beyoncé is applauded for her “women’s power” performance that is laden with sexual imagery, we worry about our favorite celebrities as their nude photos get leaked. And people die. En masse. For their faith, for where they live, for their willingness to say “I believe” when someone with a sword demands they recant. (more…)

barred windowThis isn’t easy to read. It’s stomach-churning. But we must know our enemy, and ISIS is determined to destroy liberty, freedom, culture and families.

According to The Daily Beast, ISIS is holding girls and women for one of two purposes: to sell them or to destroy morale by raping and torturing them. These are mostly Yazidi women, being held in Iraq. Reports of what is happening in the prison in Mosul come from the women themselves. Some smuggled in cell phones; others have been forced to call their families by their ISIS captors so that the families can listen as the girl or woman is raped repeatedly.

Pakhshan Zangana, head of the High Council of Women’s Affairs for The Kurdish Regional Government Zangana, is literally pleading with the world for help, but every day the situation gets more and more desperate, and help seems further and further away. (more…)

This summer during Acton University, I had the opportunity to be part of a recording for Moody Radio’s Up for Debate program, which has just recently been posted online. The subject for discussion was “Can Catholic, Orthodox, and Evangelical Christians Learn from Each Other?”

The participants were Jay Richards (Roman Catholic), Distinguished Fellow of the Institute for Faith, Work, & Economics and a Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute, John Stonestreet (Evangelical), Fellow of the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and me (Orthodox), an Acton research associate and assistant editor of the Journal of Markets & Morality.

In answer to the question of the show, the short answer that we all seemed to come to was, yes, we do have a lot to learn from one another. Our talk ranged from issues of Scripture and the Tradition of the Church to the current discussion in the public square over same-sex marriage.

Head over to Moody Radio to listen to the program here.

Jeff Mirus, president of CatholicCulture.org, recently wrote about some problems with Catholic social teaching, commenting on Samuel Gregg’s piece, ‘Correcting Catholic Blindness.’ Mirus argues that “Catholic social teaching goes beyond strict principles to assess specific social, economic and political policies, it has too often tended to see the possibilities with a kind of tunnel vision. It sees (or rather its writers tend to see) through the lens of ‘what might be loosely labeled a mildly center-left Western European consensus.’”

…when it comes to social teaching, Samuel Gregg wants the Church (and Catholics generally) to pay attention to what actually does and does not work.

Catholic social teaching, even at the Magisterial level, invariably addresses two things, only one of which enjoys the protection of the Holy Spirit. The first is the moral principles which must govern our social, economic and political affairs—principles like the universal destination of goods, solidarity and subsidiarity. The second is the prudential application of these principles to real situations in the real world. The former enjoys the protection of the Holy Spirit; the latter depends on practical wisdom. (more…)

RL-logo-wit1Earlier this month, religious shareholder activists from the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, Mercy Investment Services and the Sisters of Mercy nabbed headlines by attempting to force Ralph Lauren Corp. to conduct a needless and politically driven human-rights risk assessment of offshore vendors.

The ICCR effort is another “name and shame” tactic intended to publically embarrass a company refusing to play ball with a left-leaning organization. According to the Huffington Post, the nominally religious shareholders’ proposal is …

… backed by the AFL-CIO Reserve Fund, an investment fund for the national trade union center, that urged Ralph Lauren to assess human-rights risk throughout its supply chain. The company’s board of directors told shareholders to vote the proposal down. (more…)

It was Blaise Pascal who noted that, “Jesus Christ is the end of all, and the center to which all tends.” Whether we are conscious of it or not, our vocation and work plays a part in revealing His glory. Christ comes to meet us in our vocation and circumstances. Cyril of Jerusalem declared:

The Savior comes in various forms to each man for his profit. For to those who lack joy, He becomes a vine, to those who wish to enter in, He is a Door; for those who must offer prayer, He is a mediating High-Priest. Again, to those in sin, He becomes a Sheep to be sacrificed on their behalf. He becomes ‘all things to all men’ remaining in His own nature what He is. For so remaining, and possessing the truly unchangeable dignity of the Sonship, as the best of physicians and a sympathetic teacher, He adapts Himself to our infirmity.”

It’s notable that Jesus helped to define the vocation of Peter and Andrew in Matthew’s Gospel when he said, “Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people.” (Matthew 4:19) As Creator and Redeemer, when we reflect the nature of Christ we can better see His plan for us and excel in our work.

This video below is titled “He Is” and it’s a powerful reminder of John 1:3. It reminds us that Christ as Creator and Sustainer is reflected in and through our vocation:

Mark your calendars! On Friday, October 31, The Acton Institute and Calvin College’s Calvin Center for innovation in Business will present a Symposium on Common Grace in Business. This event will bring members of the faith, academic, and business communities together to explore and consider Abraham Kuyper’s works on common grace and how it applies to various business disciplines. It will also celebrate the publication of the Acton Institute’s first translation of Kuyper’s works on common grace into English. It will take place at the Prince Conference Center on Calvin’s campus in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Keynote speakers are Peter Heslam, director of Transforming Business at Cambridge University, a multi-disciplinary research and development project on enterprise solutions to poverty, and Richard Mouw, former president of Fuller Theological Seminary. Other speakers include business leaders from Grand Rapids and professors, including:

The_Giver_posterThe Giver, a cinematic adaptation of Lois Lowry’s contemporary young adult classic, is great summer action-adventure entertainment. The film also serves as a terrific example for future moviemakers seeking to transfer themes of spiritual faith to celluloid without succumbing to preachiness and overwrought didacticism.

Yes, The Giver is yet another dystopian sci-fi adventure story featuring handsome young protagonists  rebelling against established A-list Hollywood stars portraying adult autocrats. But, unlike the silly, over-the-top political media and often disturbing ultraviolence of The Hunger Games, The Giver delivers the action without unnecessary onscreen carnage. True – for the most part – the adults are still autocratic nincompoops, but the purpose behind their actions derives not from the comic-book arch-villain text book. Instead, the world depicted in the movie is closer to attempts at social engineering witnessed on a daily basis; from all-pervasive surveillance cameras to language policing and nanny-state enforcement.

Taking a cue from the original Star Trek television series, the setting of The Giver has, like Spock’s home planet, Vulcan, eliminated human emotion and biological passions in response to some catastrophe (presumably war). One individual is entrusted to all pre-catastrophe memories, the title character (Jeff Bridges). The Giver resides in an outpost on the edge of civilization, a bunker filled with books and a grand piano. He is charged with transferring his memories to Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), the state-designated Receiver of Memories. Like Spock, the Giver performs his own version of the Vulcan mind-meld for the transference of memories. (more…)

Photo Credit: Washington Post

In a time when U.S. journalism too often feels dominated by infotainment on television and blog/opinion pseudo-news in print and on the internet, it is sad to see instances of real journalism, seeking to act as a check on corruption in the public sphere, being suppressed by that very corruption. But such has been the case, recently, in Ferguson, Mo.

In the wake of the death of the unarmed teenager Michael Brown, shot by Ferguson police (according to witnesses with his arms raised in the air), protests and riots have erupted in the suburb.

In the midst of this, many reporters gathered to cover the story. On Wednesday, however, two reporters would become the story. Wesley Lowrey of the Washington Post and Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post were arrested while they were taking advantage of the free WiFi at a local McDonald’s. Lowrey tells his story: (more…)