Category: Publications

Blog author: jspalink
posted by on Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Today marks the day that the Acton Institute broadens its horizons… If you haven’t noticed, we’ve literally widened our blog to 900px, creating a bit more space for all the things we have to say. We’ve also changed the location of the blog to http://blog.acton.org/. All of our old links (http://www.acton.org/blog/…) should still work although there may be occasions when they won’t. Please don’t hesitate to leave notification of old links that don’t work in the comments section of this post.Technorati Profile

You may also want to update your RSS feeds, although the old ones should still work. The general PowerBlog RSS feed is now http://blog.acton.org/feeds/index.rss2. Another nifty feature that we’re adding is the ability to grab an RSS feed of a particular author. So, if you just can’t get enough of Marc’s “Global Warming Consensus Alerts,” scroll down till you find the “Authors” box on the lefthand column of the page and click on the XML icon next to Marc’s name.

If you haven’t checked out this piece in the most recent issue of Religion & Liberty, you owe it to yourself to do so: “The Leaky Bucket: Why Conservatives Need to Learn the Art of Story,” by David Michael Phelps.

In this essay, Phelps makes the claim, “While conservativism is now a powerful force in the American political landscape, it is still the underdog in a war of connotation. (This is evident in the fact that the phrase ‘compassionate conservative’ had to be invented.) And I think there are two reasons why conservativism, by and large, does not yet appeal to the heart as does ‘bleeding heart’ liberalism.”

Here are two items in support of Phelps’ thesis. The first is from Reinhold Niebuhr’s Moral Man and Immoral Society, in which Niebuhr is discussing Marx’s doctrine of the proletariat’s eschatological destiny. It is clear that Marx’s narrative has captured Niebuhr’s imagination:

There is something rather imposing in this doctrine of Marx. It is more than a doctrine. It is a dramatic, and to some degree, a religious interpretation of proletarian destiny. In such insights as this, rather than in his economics, one must discover the real significance of Marx. His economic theory of labor value may be impossible, but this attempt at the transvaluation of values is in the grand style. To make the degradation of the proletarian the cause of his ultimate exaltation, to find in the very disaster of his social defeat the harbinger of his final victory, and to see in his loss of all property the future of a civilisation in which no one will have privileges of property, this is to snatch victory out of defeat in the style of great drama and classical religion.”

The second piece is a quote from a comment on another blog that struck my fancy:

Acad Ronin writes:

I got the following from a mystery novel set on the English-Scottish border in the 14th Century or so. It’s the best treatment of the issue of the rule of law that I have found to date.

Rule of Law

Carey looked down at his hands. “Do you know what justice is?” he asked at last, in an oddly remote voice. “Justice is an accident, really. It’s law that’s important. Do you know what the rule of law is?”

“I think so. When people obey the laws so there’s peace…”

Carey was shaking his head. “No. It’s the transfer of the duty of revenge to the Queen. It’s the officers of the Crown avenging a man’s murder, not the man’s father or the family. Without law what you have is feud, tangling between themselves, and murder repaying murder down the generations. As we have here. But if the Queen’s Officers can be relied on to take revenge for a killing, then the feuding must stop because if you feud against the Queen, it’s high treason. That’s all. That’s all that happens in a law-abiding country: the dead man’s family know that the Crown will carry their feud for them. Without it you have bloody chaos.”

It was strange to hear anyone talk so intensely of such a dusty subject as law; and yet there was a fire and passion in Carey’s words as if the rule of law was infinitely precious to him.

“All we can do to stop the borderers killing each other is give them the promise of justice – which is the accidental result when the Crown hangs the man who did the killing,” he said, watching his linked fingers. They were still empty of rings and look oddly bare. “You see, if it was only a bloodfeud, anyone of the right surname would do. But with the law, it should be the man that did the killing, and that’s justice. Not just to take vengeance but to take vengeance on the right man.”

“So you’ll make out a bill for Sweetmilk Graham and go through all the trouble of trying Hepburn and producing witnesses and finding him-guilty …”

“And then hanging him, when a word to Jock of the Peartree would produce the same result a lot more easily. But that wouldn’t be justice, you see, that would only be more feuding, more private revenge which has nothing to do with justice or law or anything else. Justice requires that the man have a trial and face his accusers.”

Source: Chisolm, P.F. 1994. A Famine of Horses. New York: Walker and Co.

Now there’s a conception of the rule of law portrayed in compelling narrative form.

See also, “The Morality of Narrative Imagination,” “Bavinck on the Moral Imagination,” and Reinhold Niebuhr Today.

Blog author: kschmiesing
posted by on Friday, July 20, 2007

Bringing to your attention two recent publications by Journal of Markets & Morality contributors:

The first is Less Than Two Dollars a Day: A Christian View of World Poverty aand the Free Market, by Kent Van Til, published by Eerdmans.

The second is Economics in Christian Perspective: Theory, Policy, and Life Choices, by Victor Claar and Robin Klay, published by InterVarsity.

Based on a quick perusal, I guess that the latter entry is a little more sanguine about the achievements and potential of free markets with respect to Christian social obligations. Regardless, both books take seriously both economics and theology, a rare but necessary prerequisite for helpful analysis in this area.

All three authors, by the way, teach at Hope College.

My review of John W. de Gruchy’s Confessions of a Christian Humanist appears in the latest issue of Christian Scholar’s Review 36, no. 3 (Spring 2007).

A taste: “At the conclusion of de Gruchy’s confession, the reader is left with a suspicion that the facile opposition between secularism and religious fundamentalism on the one side and humanism (secular and Christian) on the other obscures linkages that ought to unite Christians of whatever persuasion.”

Blog author: jspalink
posted by on Monday, May 21, 2007

There are two new items that should be noted in the Acton Bookshoppe. The first is The Call of the Entrepreneur DVD which is now available for pre-order. The DVD is not expected to ship until the fall but you can start lining up for one of the first copies right now.

The second item is The Call of the Entrepreneur Study Guide by Rev. Robert Sirico. The study guide touches on many of the same themes as the DVD, including the zero-sum-game fallacy, the importance of entrepreneurs in driving the economy and creating new wealth, and the necessity of limited government, rule of law, and property rights in a free-market society. The study guide also expands to topics including the significance of Judeo-Christian tradition in relation to capitalism.

Stop by the Acton Bookshoppe today and see whats new!

Blog author: kschmiesing
posted by on Wednesday, February 7, 2007

I mentioned a long time ago that this book, with its provocative and interesting thesis, was in the works. Stepping Out of the Brain Drain: Applying Catholic Social Teaching in a New Era of Migration, by Michele Pistone and John Hoeffner, is now available from Lexington Books. The blurb:

Catholic social teaching’s traditional opposition to “brain drain” migration from developing to developed countries is due for a reassessment. Stepping Out of the Brain Drain provides exactly this, as it demonstrates that both the economic and the ethical rationales for the teaching’s opposition to “brain drain” have been undermined in recent years, and shows how the adoption of a less critical policy could provide enhanced opportunities for poor countries to accelerate their economic development.

The Journal of Markets & Morality, Volume 9, Number 2.

The newest edition of the Journal of Markets & Morality is now available online and in print. You can pick up a single copy of the print version at the Acton Bookshoppe, or you can subscribe to the Journal.

This issue of the Journal features a new scholia. “Selections from the Dicaeologicae” is an original English translation of several key chapters of Johannes Althusius’ Dicaeologicae, the ground-breaking seventeenth-century work that systematized current civil law, Roman law, and Jewish law into one collective and cohesive legal system. Althusius was a key player in the development of political science as a disciplinary field of study and his Dicaeologicae was one of the first examples of the emerging field in the seventeenth century.

The new issue also features a publicly available editorial by Stephen Grabill. “The Fallacy of Adam’s Fallacy examines Duncan Foley’s best-selling Adam’s Fallacy: A Guide to Economic Theology. Grabill argues that Foley ignores the historical context of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations as well as his other relevant writings resulting in a poorly documented attempt to discredit Smith.

Coinciding with the release of issue 9.2, issue 8.2 has been released to the general “non-subscribing” public. Please feel free to browse the newly available content and pass links along to your friends!

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Monday, December 4, 2006

I have reviewed two books for the latest issue of Calvin Theological Journal:

J. William Black, Reformation Pastors: Richard Baxter and the Ideal of the Reformed Pastor (Waynesboro, GA: Paternoster Press, 2004). Appearing in CTJ, vol. 41, no. 2 (November 2006): 370-71.

Peter Golding, Covenant Theology: The Key of Theology in Reformed Thought and Tradition (Ross-shire, Scotland: Mentor, 2004). Appearing in CTJ, vol. 41, no. 2 (November 2006): 385-88.

Blog author: kschmiesing
posted by on Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Acton Institute’s newest publication is volume 10 in the Christian Social Thought Series, The Good That Business Does, by Robert G. Kennedy.

From my foreword:

[Professor Kennedy] helps to elucidate the place of the modern business enterprise within contemporary society. In the best tradition of Christian social thought, his starting points are what we know about morality through reason and revelation and what we know about business through empirical observation. Using this method he articulates the responsibilities of business in a way that is both realistic and in keeping with the timeless truths of the moral law.

It is an excellent, compact treatise on business from the perspective of Christian moral reflection and will be of interest to those in the fields of business, business ethics, or Catholic social teaching.

Click here to learn more about the book or to order now.

The Summer 2006 issue of Religion & Liberty is now available. This issue focuses on the relationship between virtue and success. Looking at this question from several different perspectives – from an economic to a Biblical point of view – we convey that a virtuous society will best satisfy the requirements for liberty and free, and effective, markets.

Inside This Issue:

The Economy of Trust: R&L interviewed Kenneth Arrow, a Nobel Prize and National Medal for Science winner, on the value of morality and religion in markets. Kenneth Arrow poins out that morality, ethics, and religion all help to fill in the gaps that are inherant in markets. Markets require ethics and morality, virtues such as honesty and trust, in order to function efficiently. “Religion calls for a sense of responsibility to the other, which the market, in principle, doesn’t have,” says Arrow.

Trust and Entrepreneurship: Raymond J. Keating, an economist and columnist, talks about the neccessity of trust in a marketplace that would flourish. Keating systematically explains need for trust between businesses, consumers, and the government. If trust breaks down, between business and the government then it becomes doubtful that contracts will be enforced or private property protected. If trust breaks down between business and consumers, consumers will not buy products. Looking at the neccessity of trust, Keating then argues that a re-evaluation of the “big-business” trusts of the 19th century is in order – as they were a “fantastic example of entrepreneurs who served consumers well.”

Second-Career Clergy and Parish Business: R&L interviewed journalist Jonathan Englert, author of The Collar: A Year of Striving and Faith inside a Catholic Seminary, the story of five seminarians through one year of education. The seminary that Englert examines is specifically geared towards men who have begun discerning their vocation later in life, many who came to the seminary from business backgrounds. R&L, always seeking to insersect religion and economics, examines the approach that a business-person turned priest may have when addressing the “business” of a parish.

The Dividends of Social Capital: Michael Miller, director of programs at the Acton Institute, explores some of the ideas presented in Francis Fukuyama’s Trust: The Social Virtues and The Creation of Prosperity. Private property and rule of law, states Miller, are essential for free and prosperous economies. But “social capital,” specifically the existence trust, is also essential.

Defending the Weak and the Idol of Equality: This article is taken from a lecture delivered by Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., at the Pontifical North American College in Rome as part of the Centesimus Annus Lecture Series. In it, Dr. Morse explains the social teaching of the Roman Catholic church in regard to equality, specifically its teaching regarding care of the poor. Dr. Morse explains that the Catholic church advocates for defense of the weak and those in poverty, rather than the socialist tendency to turn “equality” into an idolatrous extreem embraced by the state.

Anders Chydenius (1729-1803)

In the Liberal Tradition – Anders Chydenius:

The more opportunities there are in a Society for some persons to live upon the toil of others, and the less those others may enjoy the fruits of their work themselves, the more is diligence killed, the former become insolent, the latter despairing, and both negligent.

Please visit the Religion & Liberty and read the newest issue (a PDF is also provided for your offline reading pleasure). Archived issues are also available!