Category: News and Events

Enlightenment-920x383In a recent article for The Stream, Acton’s Director of Research, Samuel Gregg asks the question, “Is Catholicism Compatible with the American Experiment?” Gregg cites an article by political philosopher Patrick Deneen who suggested that “the main argument among American Catholics will concern the relationship of modern liberal democracies–and, at a deeper level, the American Founding–with Catholicism.” Gregg doesn’t necessarily disagree with this assertion, but argues that it “reaches further back to the early modern period often called the Enlightenment.”

The Enlightenment was hugely influential on the American founding:

Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, for instance, sharply disagreed on many subjects, but all their serious biographers concur that both were profoundly shaped by Enlightenment writers.

The intellectual developments associated with the Enlightenment shared an emphasis on (1) asking every belief and institution to justify itself rationally, and (2) applying the tools associated with the scientific method to as many spheres of life as possible. This focus on natural philosophy and the natural sciences was especially influenced by Sir Isaac Newton’s Principia (1687) and Newton’s successful integration of the mechanics of physical observation with the mathematics of axiomatic proof, and his development of a system of scientifically verifiable predictions. (more…)

flag-21096_640Despite ongoing conflict and regional unrest, Israel’s economy is doing exceptionally well. Unemployment is under six percent, incomes are up, and the Index of Economic Freedom shows Israel’s rank improving over the last few years while America and many Western European nations are declining. Acton’s Director of Research, Samuel Gregg, discusses this situation in a new article for the Jerusalem Post. He says:

[I]t’s no exaggeration to say that many developed economies – mired in debt, out-of-control welfare spending and high unemployment – would envy the Israeli economy’s current overall trajectory.

It’s the economist’s job to try and understand why some economies, like Israel’s, are doing comparatively better than others. Less well-known, however, is that more economists are looking beyond strictly economic explanations to explain economic successes and failures. As it turns out, they are discovering that culture matters.



One of the United States’ most-recognized climate-change missionaries, Bill McKibben has made it a habit of late to hide behind the clerical garb of Christian religious to spread his message against free-market capitalism (see here, here, here, here, here and here). The past few months, McKibben has been putting Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si to work in a crusade against the fossil fuels that have generated wealth and lifted billions from poverty. This week, he writes on the New York Review of Books blog that Islam may also be useful in this regard:

On August 19, a convocation of some sixty leading Muslim clerics and religious scholars from around the planet, spurred by the growing siege of climate disasters affecting the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, issued an Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change. It was far shorter than Pope Francis’s much discussed encyclical issued early in the summer, but it arrived in much the same spirit:

Our species, though selected to be a caretaker or steward [khalifah] on the earth, has been the cause of such corruption and devastation on it that we are in danger of ending life as we know it on our planet. This current rate of climate change cannot be sustained, and the earth’s fine equilibrium [mīzān] may soon be lost. (more…)

Bee coloniesThe so-called bee controversy is gaining traction, claiming another company that has promised shareholders it will stop selling neonicotinoid pesticides (pesticides also known as neonics, which they incorrectly blame for colony collapse disorder). Green America announced last weekend it has secured a promise from Lowe’s Companies, Inc., to “phase out neonics and plants pre-treated with them by the spring of 2019 (or sooner, if possible). It is also working with suppliers to minimize pesticide use overall and move to safer alternatives.”

Why is Lowe’s capitulating to an agenda that has no credible scientific basis? (more…)

Pope Francis has started an important global discussion on the environment with the release of his encyclical Laudeto Si’, which the Acton Institute has been engaging in with vigor since it’s release, and has been ably covered as well here on the PowerBlog by the likes of Bruce Edward Walker and Joe Carter. But this isn’t the first time that Acton has waded into the debate over protecting the environment; Acton Founder Rev. Robert A. Sirico was debating Matthew Fox, proponent of deep ecology and a so-called “creation spirituality” back in 2000, and we’ve talked extensively about environmental stewardship as part of our Effective Stewardship curriculum and other publications as well.

Another recent example of Acton’s engagement with issues of environmental protection came as part of the 2014 Acton Lecture Series, as The Very Reverend Michael Butler and Andrew Morriss, Dean of the Texas A&M Law School, collaborated on a presentation at the Mark Murray Auditorium in the wake of the release of their monograph, titled Creation and the Heart of Man: An Orthodox Christian Perspective on Environmentalism. As the debate over Laudeto Si’ continues, we’re pleased to present this valuable contribution from the Orthodox Christian perspective.

Back in June, Fr. Michael Butler responded to Laudeto Si’ at Acton University. After the jump, you can hear his thoughts upon the release of the encyclical. (more…)


Whether they’re old enough to believe in the EcoGospel, or Gaia, or man-made climate change or not, children are the latest weapon pressed into service by the eco-warriors. First, it was co-opting Pope Francis and Laudato Si, and now it’s kids. Will they stop at nothing?

The Wisconsin Daily Independent reported this past Monday that a group calling itself Citizens Preserving the Penokee Hills Heritage Park is promoting its environmental agenda with a painting of a young Native American girl wearing traditional garb holding a bloody blade in one hand and the severed head of Gov. Scott Walker in the other. Nice.

According to the mission statement, the purpose of their group is to provide an avenue for the distribution of research, education, and information pertaining to preserving the Penokee Hills as a national heritage park in Northwestern Wisconsin….

flow-gift-packThe Acton Institute’s latest film series, For the Life of the World: Letters to the Exiles, was created to help Christians dig deeper into and examine the bigger picture of Christianity’s role in culture, society, and the world. The series is well suited to a variety of settings, whether a college classroom, small group, or church setting.

To promote these types of explorations and exchanges, a special Gift Pack version of the series is now available via RightNow Media, an online video library with thousands of sessions accessible to its members. Sometimes described as “Netflix for the church,” it’s a venue that will introduce and equip many with all the series has to offer.

Exclusively available on RightNow, the Gift Pack includes Episode 1 (“Exile”) and a series of 8 video excerpts exploring the implications of the themes of the larger series. Each video comes with a discussion guide for use in small groups, Sunday School classes, and other educational settings. The excerpts can be used along with the discussion guides or as stand-alone videos for sermon illustrations, teasers, event promotion and much more.

For other ways to watch and engage with the series, see the standard DVD version, the Leader’s Edition, or Exile Supply Pack, and the Field Guide. The entire series can also be purchased digitally at

Christian’s Library Press has released Volume 1 of its English translations of Abraham Kuyper’s most famous work, Common Grace, which is made up of 3 books (Noah-Adam, Temptation-Babel, Abraham-Parousia). The books are part of a larger translation project that you can read about here.

The work presents a public theology of cultural engagement rooted in the humanity Christians share with the rest of the world, making it an extremely valuable resource for Christians seeking to develop a winsome and constructive social witness. The books are part of a larger translation project that you can read about here.

Common Grace Volume 1

This week, CLP will be giving away two sets of the volume (3 books in each).

To enter, use the interface below. There are five ways to enter, and each will increase your odds. The contest will end Friday night at 11:59 p.m.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Fr. Michael Crosby

You can’t really take fossil fuel divestment seriously unless you ignore a lot of inconvenient truths. These would include such things as Al Gore’s carbon footprint or the fuel bill for the dozens of private jets flown to any UN climate summit. On a more mundane level, we might point to benefits of abundant and affordable resources of coal, natural gas and crude oil that power modern industrialized economies and will continue to dominate as future energy sources. Alas, according to the World Bank, around 730 million people in sub-Saharan Africa rely on solid biomass for cooking, which – when used indoors with inefficient cookstoves – causes air pollution that results in nearly 600,000 premature deaths in Africa each year. The fossil fuel divestment movement hasn’t really taken off in Africa, for some reason.

Which leads me to the potent term of “hypocrite” when talking about the liberal nuns, priests and other clergy and religious behind divestment campaigns, which currently are all the rage for shareholder activists of the progressive spiritual stripe. What is so strange is that most if not all of the same sort of social justice warriors have vowed to assist the poor.

Journalist Richard Valdmanis notes this strange moral disconnect in a recent Reuters article:

 Pope Francis heartened environmentalists around the world in June when he urged immediate action to save the planet from the effects of climate change, declaring that the use of “highly polluting fossil fuels needs to be progressively replaced without delay.”


??????????????Christian’s Library Press has now released Psalms II, the fifth primer in its Opening the Scriptures series, and the second in a two-part release on the book of Psalms. The book is currently available for order on Amazon.

Written by Dutch Reformed minister Frans van Deursen, and newly translated by Nelson D. Kloosterman, the volume provides an introduction to Psalms, a book which serves as “the oldest songbook that God’s people possess,” as well as the “oldest breviary or prayer book,” the author writes.

Like other volumes in the series, Psalms II is neither a technical commentary nor a collection of sermons, but rather an accessible primer for the average churchgoer. In this case, van Deursen hopes we learn lessons on both theory and practice when it comes to the great tasks of honor and worship, prayer and praise.

Whereas the first part provided a bit more of core theological and historical set-up on the Psalms as a whole, Psalms II dives straight into the summaries and analyses on the individual psalms themselves.

Van Deursen connects each psalm with many others and notes its Biblical surroundings, historical context, and the implications within our post-crucifixion Christian reality.

As an example of this approach in action, in examining Psalm 119, van Deursen notes the poet’s position as one persecuted by those who were supposed to be on his side. An excerpt of his analysis follows:

Psalm 119 is hardly a timeless poetic production about the glory of the Law; rather, it is a psalm in which a poor sufferer like Jeremiah could have recognized himself, someone who for his entire life had to remonstrate against political and ecclesiastical leaders in Judah who took counsel against him and spread lies about him (see, e.g., Jer. 36).

But the greatest fulfillment of Psalm 119 occurred with our chief Prophet and Teacher, who was smeared by prominent leaders in the Jewish ecclesiastical life of his day (he was called “Beelzebul, the prince of demons” by the Pharisees, Matt. 12:24). He also encountered “princes” like those members of the Sanhedrin who laid snares for him (trick questions) and were just as harsh as the opponents of our psalmist. And the servants of Jesus Christ were no greater than their Master. Church history often displays the pattern of Psalm 119: “princes” who “take counsel together” against innocent righteous ones who desire nothing more than to respect God and his Word…

We would encourage Bible readers, however, to read each verse of this psalm from the point of view of the historical situation of the writer. Then you will see the haze of “generality” and “timelessness” that covers this psalm for some people automatically disappear, and you will hear this psalm in terms of its flaming, polemical, confessional language—in the church world of our day, as well, which is just as full of contempt for the Word.

Purchase the book here and add it on Goodreads here. Also, see the other titles in the Opening the Scriptures series.

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