Posts tagged with: Acton University

Continuing the tradition from 2010, Acton University 2011 lectures will be available for purchase online from our secure order page.  New lectures will be posted as they conclude throughout the week, so check back often.

The downloads are in MP3 format and can be transferred to any device that plays audio files such as an iPod or smartphone.

Here are some useful Acton University links:

We now have a live stream of the #ActonU hashtag on Twitter running on the right side of our blog. This tab will keep you updated on the folks who are using this tag in their Twitter posts. Feel free to join in and be featured on the blog! You might even find someone to meet up with between sessions. For those of you who aren’t at Acton University you can use the feed to find out what you’re missing. If you do not see the feed on the right side of the blog you may need to refresh your browser.

Update 6/20/2011: The live stream has been removed since Acton University has concluded.  You can still check out the stream on Twitter if you’re interested.

Blog author: jcouretas
posted by on Friday, March 18, 2011

Metropolitan Jonah

Julia Duin, a veteran religion reporter, has written a profile of the embattled leader of the Orthodox Church in America, Metropolitan Jonah, for the Washington Post weekend edition. She does an admirable and fair job of not only telling us about this American-born bishop but explaining why his short tenure has sparked so much controversy within the various Orthodox jurisdictions in the United States. (Let me bring to your attention, right away, that Jonah is our plenary speaker on June 16 at Acton University.)

The metropolitan’s outspoken stances on issues like marriage and abortion, and his desire to operate from a base in Washington, has sparked a palace revolt in the OCA. As Duin puts it:

Jonah’s move to Washington strikes at the core of the traditional Eastern Orthodox reluctance to be on the front lines of the culture wars, much less political conflicts. The religion’s 1 million American adherents, who remain split into 20 separate ethnic groups, are more likely known to the general public as sponsors of bazaars featuring Slavic or Mediterranean food, crafts and dancing than as societal firebrands.

“Orthodox Christianity tends to be heavily theological and more concerned with matters of doctrine, liturgy and belief than evangelical Protestants and certainly the conservative Christian right,” said Rabbi Niles Goldstein, a senior fellow at the Utah-based Foundation for Interreligious Diplomacy. “They’re wrestling with how to find this balance between Christianity and activism, which makes it difficult for them to speak with a unified voice on social policy and foreign affairs.”

But Jonah sees American Orthodoxy at a crossroads where the choice is either to remain in ethnic enclaves and be irrelevant or jump into the stream of culture and politics and make a difference. He dreams of Orthodox Americans speaking out “as a conscience for the culture.” They would have clout in Congress, advocating for persecuted Orthodox around the world, such as the Egyptian Copts. They would stand equal with evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholics in opposing abortion, same-sex marriage, cloning and euthanasia.

Fr. Gregory Jensen, a writer for Acton News & Commentary and contributor to this blog, says the battle that Jonah is waging goes beyond polemics on “hot button” issues. On his Koinonia blog, Fr. Gregory says the real fight is whether or not the Orthodox Church will proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the public square. I agree with his assessment wholeheartedly.

Fr. Gregory:

Especially in the historical centers of American Orthodox experience, what is unique to the person or the parish has often been minimized if not ignored and even rejected. Our managerial approach to Church polity has historically often confused communion with conformity and consensus with capitulation to the group. And it has done so to the detriment of the individual believer (clergy AND laity), parish and diocese. To those who have become conditioned to think of Church life as a zero sum game (which more often than not means “I” lose and “they” win) an entrepreneurial approach, that is to say an unapologetic evangelical approach that embraces an explicit proclamation of the Gospel in the public square, would be terrifying. We are wrong when we think that new people, new ideas, can only come at our expense.

So I’m clear, this fear is understandable but wrong and based in a Satanic lie and must not be allowed to take hold in our hearts, in our parishes or our dioceses.

Yes, there is a power struggle in the OCA and really in all the Orthodox jurisdictions in America. I would even suggest that this conflict is being played out internationally among all the Orthodox Churches and it is happening for the same reasons we see it in America—we’ve adopted an implicit zero sum model of Church that confuses position with self-aggrandizement. But in Christ power, ecclesiastical or civil, is always in the service of others and His promise to us is that we will spread to the ends of the earth and always overcome the powers of sin and death.

Read “Metropolitan Jonah goes to Washington” in the Post.

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Monday, September 20, 2010

Victor Claar, Acton University lecturer and professor of economics at Henderson State University, will give a talk tonight in Washington, D.C., hosted by AEI, “Grieving the Good of Others: Envy and Economics.”

If you are in the area, you are encouraged to attend and hear Dr. Claar as well as two respondents discuss the topic of envy and its moral and economic consequences.

Here’s a description of the event:

Critics of capitalism often argue that this economic system is irretrievably tainted by the sin of greed. They claim that by empowering government to “spread the wealth around” we can free ourselves from the tyranny of greed, purging the influence of sin. But are they right? At this event, Victor Claar, associate professor of economics at Henderson State University, will discuss the role of envy in collectivist and redistributive economic systems. Beginning with an explanation of the classic theological understanding of envy, Claar will argue that “grieving the good of others” is an unavoidable aspect of social democracy.

Update: The audio and video of the AEI event is now available. (There’s a nice plug for Acton University at the beginning.)

Tomorrow Dr. Claar will also be appearing as part of The King’s College Distinguished Visitor Series in NYC.

Dr. Claar is co-author of Economics in Christian Perspective: Theory, Policy and Life Choices as well as author of the Acton Institute monograph, Fair Trade? Its Prospects as a Poverty Solution.

As Dr. Claar will elaborate, the question that epitomizes envy, which is defined as “sorrow at another’s good,” is the self-centered concern, “What about me?” For fans of the hit TV series Lost, I can think of no better illustration of this than the turn from envy to malevolence in this climactic confrontation between Ben Linus and Jacob from the conclusion of season 5:

Acton University faculty member Jeffrey Tucker has an insightful essay over at InsideCatholic.com, “Why Catholics Don’t Understand Economics.”

Throughout the piece, Mr. Tucker employs a distinction between scarce, economic goods, and non-scarce, infinitely distributable, spiritual goods:

I have what I think is a new theory about why this situation persists. People who live and work primarily within the Catholic milieu are dealing mainly with goods of an infinite nature. These are goods like salvation, the intercession of saints, prayers of an infinitely replicable nature, texts, images, and songs that constitute non-scarce goods, the nature of which requires no rationing, allocation, and choices regarding their distribution.

None of these goods take up physical space. One can make infinite numbers of copies of them. They can be used without displacing other instances of the good. They do not depreciate with time. Their integrity remains intact no matter how many times they are used. Thus they require no economization. For that reason, there need to be no property norms concerning their use. They need not be priced. There is no problem associated with their rational allocation. They are what economists call “free goods.”

[...] This is completely different from the way things work in the realm of scarce goods. Let’s say that you like my shoes and want them. If you take them from me, I do not have them anymore. If I want them again, I have to take them back from you. There is a zero-sum rivalry between the goods. That means there must be some kind of system for deciding who can own them. It means absolutely nothing to declare that there should be something called socialism for my shoes so that the whole of society can somehow own them. It is factually impossible for this to happen, because shoes are a scarce good. This is why socialism is sheer fantasy, a meaningless dreamland as regards scarce goods

The whole article is worth reading (there is even a good St. Augustine reference)

Blog author: jcouretas
posted by on Thursday, July 8, 2010

On his blog Koinonia, Rev. Gregory Jensen thoughtfully reviews a 2008 lecture given at Acton University by Kishore Jayabalan. (One of the neat things about downloading AU lectures is that you can then listen to them just about anywhere, including the car.) Rev. Jensen, who also blogs and writes for Acton, notes how Jayabalan’s talk contrasts “the sectarian approach with a catholic one.”

Another long drive last week gave me a chance to listen to an excellent lecture on the tradition of Catholic social encyclicals. The lecturer, Kishore Jayabalan (director of the Acton Institute’s Rome office) made a distinction between a Catholic and a sectarian approach to the surrounding culture.

While it is important for us as Christian to distinguish truth from error, Jayabalan argues that a sectarian approach limits itself to what is wrong with others. Whether from the right or the left, sectarianism is an ideology masquerading as Christian theology. Again this is not to say that Christians ought should refrain from pointing out where we disagree with the culture–we should but a purely negative approach is not only insufficient it contradicts the very tradition that we would defend. Let me explain.

Life as a disciple of Christ necessarily places us in a tension with not only the fallen world, but also with ourselves. As the late Fr Alexander Schmemmann never tired of repeating, it is this fallen world that God loves and for which His Son suffered and died on the Cross. And it is this fallen world that rises with Christ and will at the end of time not be obliterated but transfigured into the New Heaven and the New Earth.

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful” (Rev 21:1-5)

To be sure, Jesus condemns “the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars” to “the lake which burns with fire and brimstone” and so to “the second death” (v.8 j) but this does not undo the eschatological fulfillment of creation that is described at length in subsequent verses (vv. 9-27; 22:1-5). Indeed it is those who, because of their works (see, Rev 22:12) are unwilling to say Maranatha! “Come Lord Jesus!” and so will not “take the water of life freely” that are condemned (see, Rev 22:17). To borrow from one of the more obscure writers of the early Church the sixth century Latin father, Apringius of Beja, “The Holy Spirit and the Church call all to come to salvation” (Tractate on the Apocalypse, 22:17 quoted on ACCS, NT vol XII: Revelation, p. 406).

The pastoral–and spiritual–failure of sectarianism is that, unlike Christ, it fails to balance “harsh sayings…with the easy and appealing words so that watchfulness is encouraged” (Venerable Bede, Commentary on the Apocalypse, 21.8 quoted on ACCS, NT vol XII: Revelation, p. 361). Underneath this, indeed underneath all my willingness to judge, to condemn, to withhold forgiveness, is a watchfulness that is not encouraging but suspicious and distrustful. If in the immediate this is directed toward my neighbor it ultimately finds its roots in my own lack of faith in God and trust in the providential working of His grace in your life and mine.

We can, as Jayabalan did, contrast the sectarian approach with a catholic one. While sectarianism often takes a negative tone, what is central is not negativity as such. The sectarian Christian seeks to limit God’s grace to an elite group. That this elite group is eventually a group of one person–the sectarian himself–is ignored or overlooked.

A catholic approach, on the other hand, does not simply criticize what is wrong, it affirms what is good, and true, and just, and beautiful. If sectarianism seeks to tear down, a catholic approach seeks to build up. Sectarianism seeks an ever narrow “purity,” the catholic an ever more expansive wholeness. Again, this doesn’t mean that a catholic approach refrains from pointing out error, but it does so in a way that is both charitable and fearless.

For the sectarian mind, life presents no real dilemmas–only an unending series of enemies, of dragons who can never, quite, be slain. Put another way, sectarianism is a mode of despair.

Read Fr. Gregory’s entire post, “Sectarian or Catholic? Thoughts From Another Long Drive” on his blog, Koinonia.

Blog author: mmiller
posted by on Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Daniel Mahoney, professor of political science at Assumption College and lecturer at this year’s Acton University, (find his lectures here) wrote an excellent review in City Journalof Thomas Sowell’s new book, Intellectuals and Society. Sowell argues against the hyper-rationalist tradition of modern intellectuals whose theories tend to be divorced from reality and hostile to tradition and what Michael Polanyi called “tacit knowledge” of everyday people. As Mahoney notes, this has been a recurring theme of Sowell’s work throughout the years beginning with his fine book A Conflict of Visions. Mahoney writes:

Sowell, it’s true, denies being an intellectual, and we must take him at his word. He renews the critique of “literary politics” first limned by Edmund Burke in Reflections on the Revolution in France and Alexis de Tocqueville in The Old Regime and the Revolution. Burke and Tocqueville both observed a new intellectual type: thinkers inebriated by revolution and the dream of a radically new social order, and dismissive of the inherited wisdom of the past. Burke and Tocqueville didn’t hesitate to denounce injustice when they saw it, whether British oppression of Indians and the Irish or chattel slavery in America. But their critiques drew on the best traditions of Western civilization. They avoided the “rationalist” illusion that the world could be created anew. In this spirit, Sowell refuses to judge ideas by their supposed good intentions, but rather by their effects on human beings.

Read the entire review here.

We’ve posted a dozen or so AU 2010 lectures in our online store and expect to be putting up many more in the days ahead. They’re priced at $1.99 and transactions are through a secure server at the Acton Institute Digital Downloads page. Check back often. Here’s what available now:

– Thoughts on Human Dignity – Rev. Robert A. Sirico – June 15, 2010

– Centralization and Civil Society – Dr. Daniel Mahoney – June 16, 2010

– The Federalist Debate: Balancing Liberty and Order – Dr. John Pinheiro – June 16, 2010

– Alexis de Tocqueville: Philosopher of Civil Society – Dr. Daniel Mahoney – June 16, 2010

– Christian Poverty in an Age of Prosperity – Rev. Robert A. Sirico – June 16, 2010

– Medieval Economics: The Untold Story – Jeffrey Tucker – June 16, 2010

– Cultural Decay in Free and Planned Economies – Dr. Jonathan Witt – June 16, 2010

– The Ecumenical Movement and Economics: A Critique – Jordan Ballor – June 16, 2010

– Introduction to Catholic Social Teaching – Rev. Raymond de Souza – June 17, 2010

– Social and Economic Context of the New Testament – Dr. Stephen Grabill – June 16, 2010

– The Emergent Church – Dr. Anthony Bradley – June 17, 2010

– Stewardship, Generosity, and Charitable Giving – Brett Elder – June 17, 2010

– The New Deal and the Great Society: Moral and Economic Failure – Klay & Claar – June 17, 2010

Blog author: jcouretas
posted by on Friday, June 18, 2010

Because of the crush of Acton University blogging activity, I’ll be posting mostly links today. Watch for a wrap up in the days ahead.

Also, Jordan Ballor’s fine Acton Commentary “Unity or Unanimity at Reformed Council?” was published yesterday in the Detroit News under the headline “Ballor: Church activists shouldn’t adopt separation as doctrine.”

Blogging AU:

– Grzegorz (Greg) Lewicki explains what we mean by, “Get lost from my porch, or I’ll break your neck right now.”

– Jackson Egan offers “Acton University: A Student’s First Impressions of the Acton Institute.” He follows up with “The World is Not Changed by Good Intentions.”

– Adam Thompson unpacks “Hijacked Solidarity.”

– Dr. Charles Self meets “leaders and thinkers from Anglican, Baptist, Congregational, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Reformed, Pentecostal and Roman Catholic and non-denominational traditions” in his Day 2 post.

– Marcos Hilding Ohlsson is “Hablando de libertad y Religión.”

– Amy Hall reflects on “Wealth and the Bible.”

– Joshua Brown digs deeper into the “Notion of Liberty.”

– Brett Kunkle asks: “Can You Change Parenthood With No Consequences?”

– Along the same lines, Erin Kunkle explains why “Children Need Dads, Societies Need Dads.”

– Gerry Breshears indulges his “curiosity bump” at AU.

– Armando Regil Velasco looks at “Populism in Latin America.”

– Jeffrey Tucker wonders: “Why Do We Keep Singing this Music?”

– Patrick Russo does not overlook the “empty spaces” in the Scottish Enlightenment.

– Day Two from Kaetana Leontjeva: “Acton – tęsinys.”

“Immaculée Ilibagiza puts everything in perspective” for Stephen Heiner.

– Kristy Kieda offers an appreciation of “Immaculée” and looks at aid to the developing world in “The Moral Hazard of Charitable Giving.”

– Robby Moeller talks about the friendship he has forged with Acton’s Jim Healy and takes a humorous look at Rev. Sirico on Fox News engaging with the producers of “What Would Jesus Buy?”

– Juan Callejas is back with “Personas sobre Datos.”

– Lenny McCallister has “A Thought on Christian Anthropology and Saving America.” What’s more, Lenny experiences an “Immaculée” moment, and has good things to say about “Dr. [Jennifer Roback] Morse’s analysis” on the breakdown of families and its impact on economic systems.

– Chris Armstrong announces that “Emergent is dead, and the leftovers have gone to the Christian Left, neo-Anabaptism, and neo-Puritanism.” He digs into Catholic Social Teaching and find the foundations of the free and virtuous society.

– Eric Teetsel looks at “Family Matters.”

– Elise Hilton quotes Rudy Carrasco and Jennifer Roback Morse and has better luck with the lemon drop martini.

Blog author: jcouretas
posted by on Thursday, June 17, 2010

More great coverage of Acton University. Also check out our Flickr and Twitter (hashtag: #ActonU) feeds in the sidebar.

– Carl Sanders, chair of Bible and Theology, at Washington Bible College/Capital Bible Seminary in Lanham, Md., has posts up at Insomniac Memos and 100 Days, 100 Books: A Reader’s Journal. He reviews the foundational lectures:

Our final afternoon session was a wide-ranging question section with the panel of presenters from the day. Unlike many such sections, I felt the questions were of high quality and the answers helpful. Topics addressed ranged from the proper definition of nominalism, the distinction between what is moral & evil (i.e., how do we decide when to legislate morality), the notion of just prices (vs. market prices) and a reevaluation of Rousseau (perhaps…). Interesting stuff.

Dr. Charlie Self takes us through “24 Hours at Acton.”

My personal motto is “Think deeply and act decisively.” Acton is proof that deep thinking and decisive action are connected and crucial to the future of our planet. It is refreshing to hear intellectual giants affirm that government exists to protect God-given rights, not bestow them. It is exciting to see compassionate leaders dedicated to helping the poor affirm that free markets are the most empowering way forward, not bureaucrat-controlled enterprises. Economics is more than tax policy – it is the delightful art and science of creating wealth, serving human need and expressing our calling to create, discover and manage the wonders of the world.

– Adam Thompson, the Catholic Teacher Man, reflects on the Wednesday evening talk by Immaculée Ilibagiza.

The critical moment in the dark night of Ms. Ilibagiza’s soul occurred when all seemed lost as a search party full of bloodlust ransacked the preacher’s home looking for any “cockroaches” and “snakes” to exterminate. In an episode that can only be accounted for by divine intervention, the mob inexplicably abandoned their efforts on the threshold of the bathroom. Ms. Ilibagiza remarked that her faith in God was restored and her life changed in that epiphanic moment. She determined to spread the message of the Good News in an apostolate of gratitude and forgiveness, which she conveyed through her bestselling memoir, Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust. She later returned to Rwanda where she visited her family’s murderer in prison and forgave him.

– Jeffrey Tucker at the Mises Economics Blog on “Revisiting that Rwanda Slaughter”:

As Rothbard has noted, the whole conflict between the two groups stems from the absurdity of colonial borders forcing these two groups to live under one state in which domination of one by the other is an inevitable. What I had not realized until tonight is the extent to which the Hutu government had actually promoted and even ordered the mass death of the Tutsis, in radio broadcasts following the death of the Hutu president. In other words, the genocide had been legally condoned and promoted.

– Kaetana Leontjeva, an attendee from Vilnius, Lithuania, blogs the Acton universiteto programa.

Mieli skaitytojai, artimiausiomis dienomis norėčiau pasidalinti įspūdžiais iš Acton universiteto programos, kurioje šiuo metu dalyvauju. Acton institute Grand Rapids mieste Mičigano valstijoje, JAV vykstanti programa trunka kiek mažiau nei savaitę, tačiau šis trumpas laikas žada būti labai turiningu. Šiandien vyksta “pamatiniai” kursai pirmąkart dalyvaujantiems, o nuo rytojaus lankysiu pasirinktus kursus (kiekvienos sesijos metu galima rinktis net iš 6 skirtingų kursų).

– Stephen Heiner, gives us the Confessions of a Conference Junkie: My first day at Acton University:

Acton delivers what I’ve come to expect at “these sorts of things,” and some extra items:
1. A truly diverse crowd. There are attendees from 6 different countries, including what appear to be at least a dozen priests and even more seminarians. We have Catholic priests, Orthodox priests, and every shade of Protestant minister. It is overwhelmingly male (I’d guess 70/30), but the women who are here are quite attractive (not that a single guy notices such things).
2. A dazzling array of lectures. While I endured the “foundational series” of lectures with the rest of my Acton freshmen colleagues, tomorrow starts the courses that we hand-picked ourselves. Here are a few of them …

– Armando Regil Velasco, from El Instituto de Pensamiento Estratégico Ágora A.C. (IPEA) in Mexico, has “Thoughts on Human Dignity from Acton University”:

I am delighted and inspired to share some thoughts on human dignity. Robert Sirico, President and Co-Founder of the Acton Institute has been a great source of inspiration since I met him in 2006. Every time I listen to him, I feel thankful to know that there are extraordinary persons that dedicate their lives to be intellectual pilgrims and to give testimony of what really matters.

– Erin Kunkle at the Please Convince Me blog reflects on Governance without Government:

Today, society seems to have turned from caring about “persons”—your extended family, friends, neighbors—to caring for “people” in general. When you merely care about “people,” you may want help for those in your community that need it but you are removed from any responsibility or obligation and simply expect the government or someone other entity to provide help. As I reflected on this, I thought of the disappearance of the Good Samaritan in society. News stories tell of someone getting hurt or victimized but instead of individuals stepping in to help, they walk by expecting someone else to take care of it. Father Sirico argued this would never have happened in the 1950’s and 1960’s …

– At the Stand to Reason blog, Brett Kunkle wants to know: “Are You a Greedy Capitalist?”

The basis of capitalism is not selfish greed but rather, appropriate self-interest. This distinction is vital to grasp. Self-interest is not wrong. Do you desire food and shelter? Do you wish to take care of your loved ones? I hope so. Are these greedy desires? Of course not. They represent a proper self-interest. Self-interest is simply looking out for one’s interests. Indeed, Jesus endorses self-interest. How does He tell us we ought to love others? As we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39).

– Juan Callejas from Guatemala offers “Reflexiones sobre la Dignidad Humana” at Discusión Inteligente:

La antropología socialista asume que la persona humana es producto de la casualidad evolutiva y biológica de la naturaleza, y cómo tal, está destinada a la vida terrenal como principio y fin de su existencia. Esta antropología también coloca al hombre como medio para el servicio de la nebulosa entidad del “Estado” o la “Sociedad”. La reducción de la persona humana como mera pieza de la máquina estatal le roba su dignidad porque le despoja de la posibilidad de escoger, del motor creativo y del sentido trascendente que tenemos todos tanto de manera física a través de la familia, cómo de lo que físicamente creamos, como también de nuestra trascendencia espiritual.