Category: Publications

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!

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Tuesday, September 5, 2006
Acton in the News

Over recent days a number of Acton staff have authored op-eds in various print outlets. Here’s a rundown:

One respondent to my piece wrote me a missive that opened by inquiring whether I am “a religious nut or just a fat Republican?” Anyone who knows me can see the error of this question immediately: It is presented in “either/or” form instead of as a “both/and” proposition.

A number of these op-eds are based on material that originally appeared as installments of Acton Commentary. If you aren’t a subscriber to our free weekly email update, Acton News & Commentary, get the scoop on the latest Acton writing directly to your inbox by signing up here.

I got a copy of Marvin Olasky’s The Politics of Disaster: Katrina, Big Government, and a New Strategy for Future Crisis in the mail today, fittingly enough on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s devastating storm surge.

Olasky, among many other roles, is a senior fellow at the Acton Institute. You can expect a review of the book to appear here in the near future. Olasky blogs over at the World Magazine Blog.

Update: Related interview with Olasky at NRO here.

The latest issue of the Scottish Journal of Theology is out, and includes my article, “The Aryan clause, the Confessing Church, and the ecumenical movement: Barth and Bonhoeffer on natural theology, 1933–1935.”

Here’s the abstract:

In this article I argue that the essential relationship between Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Karl Barth stands in need of reassessment. This argument is based on a survey of literature dealing with Bonhoeffer and Barth in three basic areas between the critically important years of 1933 and 1935. These three areas come into sharp relief given the political background of the German Christian victory in the church elections of 1933. Their respective positions, both theological and political, on the Aryan clause differ greatly. For Bonhoeffer, the imposition of the Aryan clause on the German churches represented a clear status confessionis, and Bonhoeffer favoured a very public schism. For Barth, while the Aryan clause was certainly troublesome, it was deemed better to wait for a ‘more central’ point, namely, that of the question of natural theology. Barth’s emphasis on the importance of the question of natural theology carries over in his position regarding the significance and role of both the Confessing Church and the ecumenical movement. We see that Bonhoeffer explicitly questions the validity of Barth’s emphasis on natural theology with respect to the Confessing Church and to the ecumenical movement. While many scholars have argued for the basic agreement between Barth and Bonhoeffer, especially on the question of natural theology, a closer examination of the two in the period 1933–35 calls such conclusions into question.

Full reference: Jordan J. Ballor, “The Aryan clause, the Confessing Church, and the ecumenical movement: Barth and Bonhoeffer on natural theology, 1933–1935,” Scottish Journal of Theology 59, no 3. (August 2006): 263-80.

For more on Bonhoeffer, see also: Jordan J. Ballor, “Christ in Creation: Bonhoeffer’s Orders of Preservation and Natural Theology,” Journal of Religion 86, no. 1 (January 2006): 1-22.

The newest edition of the Journal of Markets & Morality is now available online to subscribers (the print version should be along shortly). The newest issue features a “symposium” in which several authors discuss the “Dynamics of Faith-Based Policy Initiatives” (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4).

The editorial for this issue is available to the general, non-subscribing, public and can be read online. “The Economics of Information Control” examines the rising demand for free academic scholarship and literature, specificially within the Open Access movement. Stephen Grabill, the executive editor, asserts that because scholarly publishing is largely funded by journal subscriptions, eliminating a cost-structure for those publications will ultimately cause a shortage of funds for continuing publication of scholarly materials.

In addition to the release of the new journal, a new past issue will be archived. Volume 8, Number 1 is now available to the non-subscribing public.

Finally, a brief announcement about a new subscription option. Following our plan to integrate the journal with an economically sound internet based delivery system, a new option is available to subscribers of the journal. In the past we have offered both individual and institutional based subscriptions in one or two year plans. We have added a new option for individual subscribers: you can now subscribe for an online access account for the low price of $10. This account opens access to the online Journal for one year, but you will not recieve a print copy. We hope you enjoy this new option!

The Spring 2006 issue of Religion & Liberty is now available. The new issue focuses on the topics of hunger and poverty, especially in the developing world. As R&L explores the various aspects of poverty, it touches on issues ranging from the effectiveness of government programs to the benefits of bio-technology and from the implications of globalization to the need for a moral foundation behind the development of economics.

Our feature interview is with Tony Hall; former Democratic congressman from Ohio and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Agencies for Food and Agriculture in Rome. Tony Hall talks about his experiences working with international hunger and poverty relief programs and the influence that his faith has had in shaping his political priorities. Hall also talks about the role that NGOs play in solving the problems of hunger and poverty.

John Schneider, professor of religion at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., explores the more philosophical and theological implications of globalization, especially in regard to loving our neighbor. As globalization occurs, Schneider observes, the definition of “neighbor” changes. While neighbor used to be defined as people living in your immediate physical vicinity, it now includes people living thousands of miles away from you. This expansion of “neighbor” means that our responsibilities toward our neighbors also are enlarged. Schneider addresses these issues by introducing two concepts that he calls “Human Particularity” and “Multiplicity of Goods.”

The “global economy” is an often misunderstood machine. Industries that operate across borders are frequently highlighted by the media, and a skewed image of those industries is often portrayed. The cotton industry is an example. Adam Mills, a teacher of economics and government, explores the other side of the cotton industry, looking at the benefits that a textile mill in Asia can provide to people that might not have any other opportunities for work; or for the entrepreneur in Africa who sells second-hand clothing in an open-air market.

Piero Morandini, a biologist at the University of Milan, explores bio-technology and the possibilities that advances in science can provide for solving the problems of chronic hunger. Morandini looks at a proposed solution to hunger, namely that the supply exists but that there is a distribution problem, and argues that coercing distribution is a flawed, even immoral, solution. Morandini instead argues that advances in bio-tech can allow farmers in developing nations to solve their own problems by increasing their crop yeilds. When up to 80 percent of one harvest can be lost to weeds or 30 percent lost to viruses and pests, growing crops that are more resistant to these problems can have a significant impact; much more so than schemes of food-redistribution.

Rev. Robert Sirico finishes up with “The Virtues of Development.” Fr. Robert quickly summarizes the history of technological development and emphasizes the need for a strong moral foundation in future advancement and the development of global economy. Wealth can cause corruption, but so can poverty. Wealth managed in a moral way can ease poverty and allow society to flourish.

Read the newest issue of Religion & Liberty online today, or download a PDF version to read at your convenience.

A past commentary of mine was featured in a recent book, Democracy: Opposing Viewpoints, published earlier this year by Greenhaven Press, an imprint of Thomson Gale.

My contribution appears as part of Chapter 2: What Should Be the Relationship Between Religion and Democracy? Following a pair of items by Clark Moeller and Bill O’Reilly arguing that democracy is based on secular and religious foundations respectively, I take the affirmative side of my issue in a section titled, “Politicians Should Voice Their Religious Convictions.” The text is based on an earlier Acton Commentary, “Private Faith and Public Politics.”

I argue that “moral considerations of some sort come into play in every policy decision,” and politicians should be up front about their religious views which validate and underlie their moral reasoning.

Taking the negative side, “Politicians Should Not Voice Their Religious Convictions,” Cathy Young, a columnist for the Boston Globe, writes in part, “The idea that politicians should keep their religious faith private may seem outrageously intolerant. But is it not equally outrageous that, on today’s political scene, a secularist figure cannot express his views honestly without committing career suicide?” Her contribution is from an article in Reason magazine.

The democracy and religion chapter concludes with items arguing whether Islam and democracy are compatible, by Fawaz A. Gerges and Amir Taheri respectively. In the periodical bibliography for further reading on this chapter, the book also highlights a piece by George Cardinal Pell, “Is There Only Secular Democracy?” The text of the commentary is extracted from Pell’s 2004 Acton Annual Dinner address, and a longer form with footnotes is published in the Journal of Markets & Morality.

The Opposing Viewpoints series has “more than 90 volumes covering nearly every controversial contemporary topic,” and “is the leading source for libraries and classrooms in need of current-issue materials.”

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Acton Institute has placed three titles from the Lexington Books Studies in Ethics & Economics series, edited by Acton director of research Samuel Gregg.

The first is Within the Market Strife: American Catholic Economic Thought from Rerum Novarum to Vatican II, by Acton research fellow Kevin Schmiesing. The reviews are here. Daddypundit says, “Schmiesing has made his book accessible to persons of all faiths regardless of their own background. He has meticulously researched his book and it shows in the quality of his writing.”

The second book is The Boundaries of Technique: Ordering Positive and Normative Concerns in Economic Research by Pepperdine professor Andrew Yuengert. The reviews are linked here. Wallo World “found it an intriguing book in many respects, and one which offered me yet another way of characterizing my personal perspectives on both how economics works (and “ought” to work) as well as the role of human society itself.”

The final book is Natural Law: The Foundation of an Orderly Economic System by Institute of World Politics professor Alberto M. Piedra. The reviews are accessible here. Sue Bob’s Diary says that the book “is one of the most educational and valuable books I have read.”

Journal of Markets & Morality Volume 8 • Number 2

The latest issue of Journal of Markets & Morality features a new controversy between Michael T. Dempsey and Robin Klay and John Lunn: What Bearing, If Any, Does the Christian Doctrine of Providence Have Upon the Operation of the Market Economy?

Are you a subscriber but don’t have online access? Send us an email here or call us at 1-800-345-2286.

Winter in Vancouver

For those of you looking for some holiday reading, check out the new issue of Religion & Liberty. The issue features an interview with Ralph Winter, producer of such films as X-Men, X-Men 2, X-Men 3, The Fantastic Four, a Star Trek here and there, and a host of other films. Besides being an A-list producer in Hollywood, Winter is known for his Christian faith and insights into ‘the industry of influence’. The issue also features an article by critic and talk show host Michael Medved.