Acton is offering a free Christmas gift: a free Kindle download of the new book, A Field Guide to the Hero’s Journey. The book, co-authored by Jeff Sandefer and Rev. Robert Sirico, has been called a “the modern ‘how-to’ for entrepreneurs working on accomplishing big things” by Andreas Widmer, and is a terrific book not only for adults but for young people.
On Friday, a federal court ruled that Christian book publisher Tyndale House is temporarily exempt from the Obamacare contraception mandate.
Tonight at 6:30 EST on TheBlaze TV, Rev. Robert Sirico will discuss that case, along with a wider discussion of religious liberty and opposition to the Obamacare mandate by other businesses and organizations.
Our world desperately needs heroic people—people who shape events, who act rather than watch, who are creative and brave. Such people are needed in every field, in every realm of life—not only in law enforcement and disaster response but also in science, education, business and finance, health care, the arts, journalism, agriculture, and—not least—in the home.
Rev. Robert Sirico and Jeff Sandefer, in their about-to-be-released book, have written a “blueprint” to the heroic life. The two joined Acton last week to talk about their endeavor (listen to the podcast here), and discuss some of the themes of this book. Both stressed the need for people of all ages to strive for living not just a good life, but a heroic one:
We need brilliant men and women…we need people with a broad vision of what can be and what really is of lasting value, people with the strength to surmount obstacles and maintain a definition of success that is deeper and more authentic than what we find in today’s celebrity tabloids.
The book will be ready for sales for the Christmas season, in both print and e-versions. Watch the blog for the upcoming release date.
Rev. Robert Sirico has been invited to participate in The Life and Legacy of Charles W. Colson, a luncheon event at the Evangelical Theological Society’s annual meeting next week. The panel discussion will be held on Thursday, November 15th from 11:45am – 1:15pm in Room 101B in the Frontier Airlines Center in Milwaukee. Dr. John Woodbridge of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School will present “Chuck Colson and Recent Evangelical History.” Dr. Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., President Emeritus of Calvin Theological Society, will speak on “Ecumenical and Kuyperian: The Theological Postures of Chuck Colson’s Life and Work.”
Rev. Sirico and Dr. Timothy George, dean of Beeson Divinity School, will respond to these presentations. John Stonestreet will be moderating.
Chuck Colson was a friend to Acton Institute over many years. He spoke at many events and contributed to Acton publications. A listing of his contributions to the Acton Institute can be found at www.acton.org/colson.
In an essay for Big Questions Online, a site that examines questions of human purpose and ultimate reality, Rev. Robert Sirico considers whether morality is intrinsic to the free market:
Is a hammer intrinsically moral?
Your reply would most immediately be: “It depends on what it was used for. If employed to bash in the heads of people you do not like, the answer is no. If employed to help build a house for a homeless people, your answer might be yes. In either case, the precise answer is to say that the hammer is neither moral nor immoral; it is the person who chooses its use that can be evaluated morally.
Attending to these Big Questions will enable us to more deeply evaluate the economic organization of society. So the real issue here is not a financial one, but an anthropological one: What is man? Who am I? Why am I here? Where did I come from? Where am I going? What are my responsibilities to myself and others? How we answer these kinds of questions will have an enormous impact on every facet of our lives, including how we work and buy and sell, and how we believe such activities should be directed— in other words, on economics.
Read the rest of the article and join in the conversation at Big Questions Online.
“When Christian institutions attempt to mitigate or compromise this understanding of their mission–often as the result of the political pressure–they morph into shadowy versions of their former selves,” writes Rev. Robert A. Sirico. In this week’s Acton Commentary (published October 24), Rev. Sirico explains that by losing the Christological dimension, Christian charitable work becomes essentially secular. The full text of his essay follows. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.
Faced with the prospect of a professional athletic career, a nearly-half million dollar salary, and a perfect lady, what’s not to like? Apparently, for Grant Desme, it was the noise and unrest of the world.
Can a culture of life and the noise and tumult of the marketplace co-exist? Rev. Robert Sirico, reflecting on this, says they can, so long as it is not a place where:
[C]apitalism…places the human person at the mercy of blind economic forces…What we propose, rather, is a free economy that puts the human person at the center of economic actions because the human person is the source of all economic initiative.
Grant Desme is a young man who seems to understand this type of freedom: the freedom to choose the life that God is calling one to, even if that means living a life that appears to be outside the marketplace. Desme had signed a professional baseball contract with the Oakland Athletics, but felt something was amiss.
All the success he craved left him numb. Desme would sit on the bench and talk with his teammates about God. He and Steve Kleen, a non-denominational Christian, engaged in deep philosophical debates long into the night. Desme wouldn’t proselytize, either; he was just there to talk, a father as much as a Father. And the more he thought about it, the more something occurred to him: “I’m getting more enjoyment out of this than hitting the home run I did the other inning.”
He left baseball behind for the quiet, regimented life of a monk at St. Michael’s Abbey in California. Now, instead of hitting homers and rounding bases, Desme’s life is taken up by scheduled prayer 10 times a day and manual labor around the Abbey grounds. He even gave up his name, and is now Frater Matthew (“frater” is Latin for “brother”, “Matthew” being the name the community bestowed on him.) Someone who understands Desme’s choice is Father Ambrose, of St. Michael’s, who chose the monastery over a Rhodes Scholarship:
“It’s sort of like the terrible curse of success…I thought, ‘Well, OK, I’ve got what I’m dreaming about. I’m still miserable. My heart is restless. So what does that mean?’ That restless heart – I had to tend to it in a way that before was about attaining something like the Rhodes Scholarship. When there’s still a restless heart, that requires a much more supernatural explanation.
“That’s how God speaks to young men and women in our culture: when the world and what it has to offer will never be enough. Young people want to be heroic. They want to do great things. Not just what the world tells them will be great.”
Of course, one might note that even the abbey is not a place completely removed from the marketplace, as they host an annual summer camp for boys, and sell a few books and CDs. And that’s the point that Fr. Sirico makes: in a culture centered on the human person, imbued with dignity and free will, the marketplace will be a fruitful extension, no matter one’s career choice or path in life. It is the human who chooses the market and invests in it not just money but values, not the market creating the human. Grant Desme – Frater Matthew – seems to understand that, from both sides of the abbey walls.
Public health officials estimate that Americans consume an average of 40 gallons of sugary soda per person per year. But now thanks to the tireless efforts of Michael Bloomberg, NYC’s Mayor and Nanny-in-Chief, the average New Yorker will now only consume 39.2 gallons of sugary soda per person per year.*
On Thursday, New York City passed the first U.S. ban of oversized sugary drinks as a way of curbing the obesity epidemic. Violators of the ban face a $200 fine for selling a soda in a size that exceeds government standards.
While the legislation is absurd, it’s not the first time a big city mayor has tried to promote healthy food consumption through taxation. As Jordan Ballor pointed out in 2005 when Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick proposed a a 2 percent tax on fast food,
The fast food tax, or “fat tax,” is really the newest incarnation of the age-old “sin” tax. The reasoning is that fast foods, which tend to be higher in calories, fat and cholesterol than other types of food, are unhealthy, and therefore worthy of special government attention.
Of course Bloomberg and the other nanny-state proponents don’t really believe the ban will reduce obesity—at least not by itself. For them, this is but one of the first skirmishes in the Fat Wars. As the liberal economics blogger Matthew Yglesias admits, “Giant sodas in one city and calorie menu labeling on chains nationwide are both very modest gestures, but the same forces that pushed for those will keep coming up with new ways to ratchet-up the stigma and inconvenience associated with ‘empty’ calories.”
Rev. Robert A. Sirico, in an article for AEI’s The American comes to the same conclusion:
In his latest column at Forbes, Fr. Robert Sirico discusses his memories of 9/11 and the end of freedom:
One might also be tempted to imagine that the answer to bin Laden’s religious mania is a morally neutral public square. But all the great and successful battles against tyranny, all the efforts to build flourishing free societies in the first place, teach a different lesson. Freedom, as indispensable as it is, is insufficient for constructing a society and culture appropriate to man, much less for defending it. If it is to flourish and endure it must be a freedom oriented to something beyond itself, oriented to Truth — the truth of man’s origin, the truth of man’s nature, and the truth of man’s destiny. It must meet envy and the will to negation with an opposite and more than equal force — with the kind of virtue that drove Smagala and his fellow firefighters toward danger that fiery September morning, a virtue that also works in quieter circumstances to knit together the countless ties of a free society.
In his debut column at Forbes, Fr. Robert Sirico discusses how the collapse of European economies has exposed the false hope of the welfare state:
[T]he great lie at the heart of the all-encompassing welfare state, with its empty promises of eternal security and freedom from want. The welfare state and its advocates would have us believe that they have a political solution for a world where scarcity and human brokenness still hold sway.
This false hope is what Pope John Paul II was getting at in his 1991 encyclical Centesimus Annus. He took the “social assistance state” to task for contributing to “a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies which are dominated more by bureaucratic ways of thinking than by concern for serving their clients and which are accompanied by an enormous increase in spending.” He had it exactly right 20 years before the inevitable fiscal crisis swept through Paris, Rome, Athens, Madrid and Bonn and paralyzed the once smug architects of the EU as “lifestyle superpower.” They never missed a chance to deride the heartless values of “Anglo-Saxon capitalism” (a phrase always wielded as a pejorative). But their “lifestyle” turned out to be a trap.