Acton’s busy week of media appearances continued last night with Acton President Rev. Robert A. Sirico joining guest host Arthur C. Brooks – president of the American Enterprise Institute – on The Hugh Hewitt Show to discuss Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, and the compatibility of Catholic social teaching with free market capitalism. We’ve embedded the interview for you below, and added the video of Arthur Brooks’ 2012 Acton University plenary address after the jump.
The Advent season in the United States is typically ransacked by shopping, parties, visits with family, and the like. Perhaps worst of all, it can seem impossible to avoid the bombardment of holiday and Christmas-themed advertisement. People work overtime in order to earn a little extra to buy gifts for friends and family (and themselves). The ethos of the season can seem to be emite et labora, buy and work. Nevertheless, I would hesitate to affirm the understandably natural, knee-jerk condemnation of busyness as such.
Drawing upon the story of “difficult Father Nathaniel” from the recent Russian bestseller, Everyday Saints and Other Stories by Archimandrite Tikhon, I describe how, though busyness can be a spiritual distraction, “sometimes busyness itself can be askesis.”
Busyness can be the adversary of Advent, but it need not be. Instead, the Advent season can be a time for us to examine and practice how our busyness itself can be transfigured by the life of the Church, how our worldly work also may be liturgical labor, how when transfigured by the kingdom of God our busyness can also serve the common good.
The story of difficult Father Nathaniel, however, is worth visiting in further detail here as well. Hand in hand with complaints about the busyness of the season come complaints about the business of the season. (more…)
On some snowy winter afternoon, bored with everything in the house, you probably tried to build a house of cards. From this experience, you know you have to build a large base, and work your way up to a smaller and smaller peak. That’s the only sensible way to do it.
Obamacare, on the other hand, is a house of cards inverted. It is structured in a way that the young must hold up the aging population. And the young are staying away from Obamacare in droves. The base can’t hold up the larger peak. (more…)
Concepts you should know about, explained in five minutes (or less).
Leo Linbeck III, President and CEO of Aquinas Companies, provides a description of subsidiarity and its importance in American governance.
Last week, an exciting new organization called the Transatlantic Christian Council (TCC) hosted its inaugural conference. The theme of the conference was “Sustaining Freedom”, which aligns well with the Council’s mission “to develop a transatlantic public policy network of European and North American Christians and conservatives in order to promote the civic good, as understood within the Judeo-Christian tradition on which our societies are largely based.”
What I find most exciting about this Council, for which I commend Todd Huizinga and Henk Jan van Schothorst on their vision and initiative in founding, is this: like the Acton Institute, the TCC is not exclusively devoted to just one aspect of life, but rather aims to provide a forum for conversation on a broad range of life’s many important and fundamental human questions.
The starting point for these conversations is with a basic concept of human dignity. This concept is rooted in an openness to the idea of man as an image of God — endowed with the capacities for willfulness and reason, a creature and a sub-creator. And it is this understanding of the human person that serves as a point of departure for working through all sorts of interesting questions of politics, economics, liberty, government, religion, and family.
When I mentioned to a friend that I would be travelling to Belgium for this conference, he said to me: “Be sure they don’t euthanize you and harvest your organs!”
“Well,” I thought to myself, “that’s certainly a novel way to wish someone a good trip.”
Acton Institute Director of Research Samuel Gregg sat down with Daniel McInerny, the Editor of the English edition of Aleteia, to discuss his latest book, Tea Party Catholic. McInerny and Gregg explore what Catholics should believe regarding limited government, free markets and capitalism. Check out Sam’s book here, and view the interview below.
Raising minimum wage would be disastrous for minorities
Mark J. Perry, AEI Ideas
Probably the most vulnerable, at-risk group in the labor market would have to be black male teenagers, judging by the 44.3% jobless rate for that group in November.
Churches Gain, Islamists Lose in Latest Draft of Egypt’s Constitution
Jayson Casper, Christianity Today
Egyptian Christians will soon have a law to regulate church building. But this is only one achievement celebrated by Copts in the revised national charter scrubbed of most of its Islamist tinge.
May the Most Well-Connected Win: How Cronyism Steals our Wealth and our Values
Anne Bradley, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics
What if you or someone you knew were kept from pursuing a vocation or making a living because someone else had the power to put you down or block you from opportunities? What if that theft were legal? It is, and some people – even some Christians – think it’s legitimate.
Human Rights Day: Still pursuing religious freedom
Katrina Lantos Swett and Mary Ann Glendon, Reuters
75 percent of the world’s population now lives in countries in which this freedom is highly restricted, according to a recent Pew study.
Although the Slow Movement—a cultural shift toward slowing down life’s pace—began in the late 1980s, it has recently undergone a surge in popularity. Today there are numerous offshoots, including slow money, slow parenting, and slow journalism.
While I’m not quite ready to give up fast food or fast media, I’m eager to align myself with what Robert Joustra calls “slow justice”:
I’m trained to do slow justice. I do what Mike Gerson calls the banality of goodness. Slow, methodical, plodding, articulate and planned justice. Architectonic justice that (supposedly) lasts. Paul Wells said this week in Macleans of our Prime Minister, “Other people are moved by a sonnet or a perfect game. Stephen Harper mists up at the thought of long-term planning.” That’s me. I don’t sign petitions or march on capital hill(s). I grab drinks, take lunch meetings, ploddingly offer stats and case studies, voraciously track cultural and political conditions. I get more than 30 journals.
Those of us who do slow justice seem to be more conservative. Those who do fast justice, more radical, more alternative; less impressed with the systems that provide justice. Slow justice gets PhD’s, writes in journals, runs for office. Fast justice petitions, marches, mobilizes. Slow justice can resent fast justice. I’ve resented fast justice. It’s messy, annoying and – at times – hopelessly ignorant. It hasn’t done the work to get to the table.
Like Joustra, I tend to resent the fast justice approach. Too often it appears to be mainly what economists call signaling, i.e., conveying some meaningful information about oneself to another party. Typically, the information conveyed by the conscious-raising and awareness campaigns of the fast justice types is that the person is both caring and cool (or whatever the cool slang term for cool is nowadays) and is willing to help if it requires a minimal level of commitment.
Acton Institute President Rev. Robert A. Sirico stopped by the studios of TheStreet.com today and spoke with host Joe Deaux about how Pope Francis differs from his predecessors in his approach to economic issues.
The pope is emphasizing “human solidarity,” Sirico said. “He quoted Benedict by saying that globalization has brought us to be close, to be neighbors, but not to be brothers.” Achieving a sense of fraternity is the goal.
We’ve embedded the video for you below.
In my blog post yesterday about our statist healthcare system and the need for more economic freedom, I referenced a NYT piece by Scott Gottleib and Zeke Emmanuel and argued that if their rosy view of America’s healthcare future has any chance of coming true, we’ll need far more economic freedom in the system than currently exists. Now Greg Scandlen has a sobering essay at the Federalist challenging the NYT piece, taking particular issue with their pointing to Massachusetts as a hopeful model and for suggesting that nurse practitioners will help make up the difference once Obamacare starts driving up demand for healthcare services.
Gottleib’s and Emmanuel’s argument had other elements, including a call for increased economic freedom for the healthcare industry, but on the Massachusetts point, Scandlen’s response appears devastating. In a nutshell, he notes that Massachusetts passed Obamacare-style reforms beginning seven years ago and now has much longer appointment waiting times than the rest of the country, despite having far more physicians per capita than the national average. Read the piece and the helpful data tables here.