publicdiscourseFor conservatives, a retreat into self-imposed isolation isn’t a responsible option, says Acton research director Samuel Gregg. Instead, he argues, we need more conservatives publicly witnessing that humans are wired to know and freely choose truth, and that this has implications for the political order:
(more…)

jpiiToday marks the feast day in the Catholic Church of St. John Paul II. His pontificate was extraordinary for many reasons, but one thing St. John Paul II understood well was the need for holiness and engagement of culture by and for the laity. In an address he made in 1987 while visiting the United States and Canada, he spoke of this very thing.

It is within the everyday world that you, the laity, must bear witness to God’s Kingdom; through you the Church’s mission is fulfilled by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Council taught that the specific task of the laity is precisely this: to “seek the Kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God” (Ibid. 31). You are called to live in the world, to engage in secular professions and occupations, to live in those ordinary circumstances of family life and life in society from which is woven the very web of your existence. You are called by God himself to exercise your proper functions according to the spirit of the Gospel and to work for the sanctification of the world from within, in the manner of leaven. In this way you can make Christ known to others, especially by the witness of your lives. It is for you as lay people to direct all temporal affairs to the praise of the Creator and Redeemer (Cfr. Lumen Gentium, 31).

(more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
By

How John Adams Helps Explain The American Mind
Richard Samuelson, The Federalist

The dispute between John Adams and Edmund Burke can illuminate today’s differences between American and European conservatives.

Catholicism and Capitalism: Redeeming the System
The Economist

“Indeed the very word ‘neoliberalism’ on the lips of the European (and Catholic) left has become an almost meaningless term for ‘whatever we don’t like.'”

Razed by Terror Attacks, a Church Will Rise Anew
Alex Vadukul, New York Times

Thirteen years ago, a small Greek Orthodox church with a ringing rooftop bell offered a reprieve from the city’s furious financial nerve center, until it was crushed when the World Trade Center’s south tower collapsed on Sept. 11. On Saturday, church officials blessed the ground where the new St. Nicholas church would rise.

U.S. High School Dropout Rates Fall, Especially Among Latinos
Ben Casselman, FiveThirtyEight

Elkhart’s improvement is a particularly dramatic example of a nation-wide trend: Graduation rates are improving, especially for Latinos.1 Nationally, the on-time graduation rate topped 80 percent for the first time in 2012, up from 74 percent five years earlier.

miiltary-businessEvery American, whether native born or naturalized citizen, has an obligation to serve their country. I’ve always believed that to be true, which is why I spent fifteen years serving my country in the Marine Corps.

I even served three years as a recruiter, trying to convince other young men and women of the nobility of military service. But even then I believed, as I’ve always believed to be true, that military service is not the only — or even the primary way — that most people can or should serve this country.

If I were to advise most bright, motivated, service-oriented young people who aren’t the “military type” I’d recommend they take a different path: start a business. Creating a business that provides jobs and offers valuable goods or services for one’s neighbors is a high and noble calling.

Andrew Yang, the founder and CEO of Venture for America, makes a similar claim, and even argues the “greatest service to your country is to start a business.” While “greatest” is certainly an overstatement, I agree it is one of the most needed forms of service in America today. As Yang writes,
(more…)

Niels Hemmingsen 2At the conclusion of the English translation of Niels Hemmingsen’s The Way of Life (1578) (Latin: Via Vitae) is a series of short prayers. The selection includes one “for the aid of God in the needful businesses of our vocation.” The (modernized) text reads:

“Give me understanding, O Lord, and assist my endeavors, that I may faithfully and diligently perform the works of my vocation, to the glory of your name, the edification of your church, and the commodity of my neighbor.”

Hemmingsen was a significant Danish theologian in the sixteenth century, and a selection of his work on natural law is scheduled to appear in the forthcoming Fall issue of the Journal of Markets & Morality. Subscribe today to get your copy when it becomes available.

Mako Fujimura

Mako Fujimura

Acton broadcast consultant, Paul Edwards, took over the WOOD Radio microphone this morning to guest-host West Michigan Live here in in Grand Rapids. He covered a range of topics over the course of his broadcast hour, and spoke with artist Makoto Fujimura, whose 2014 ArtPrize entry, Walking on Water, was exhibited at the Acton Building. Their conversation focused on this piece, written by Mako, on his experience at ArtPrize and how the competition does – and does not – help artists.

With thanks to WOOD Radio, we’ve posted the audio below for your enjoyment.

As a 20 year old product design student, Veronika Scott developed an innovative coat/sleeping-bag for the homeless. But one day when she was giving the coats away, a woman came out of a homeless shelter and told her, “We don’t need coats, coats are pointless. We need jobs.”

Scott realized the woman was right. So she found a way to provide temporary help and still make a lasting change in people’s lives.

tim-keller-head-shot-2011The Christian life is one filled with risk, driven by active faith in an active God whose ways are higher than our own. In all that we put our hands to, God calls us to turn away from the supposed predictability of our own plans and designs and rely entirely on Him.

Such an orientation transforms each area of our lives, from family and friends to politics to church life and beyond. But for those involved in entrepreneurship and business, the stakes feel particularly high, and amid the rise of modernity and overwhelming economic prosperity, the temptation to rely on our own devices is more alluring than ever before.

Christians are good at talking about “abandoning all” for the sake of the Gospel, to be sure, but what does this look like in day-to-day life? The rich young ruler made a risk calculation when asked to give all of his wealth to the poor, and based on that output, he failed. What similar calculations do we encounter as God prompts our stewardship, whether it means donating to a particular charity or investing in a new idea or enterprise? (more…)

50s-family-300x297It’s easy to say that a “family can be anything you choose.” You can have Molly has two mommies, or Jaxon who splits his time between Dad’s house and Mom’s or some version of “his, mine, ours.” In reality, the traditional family is a necessary economic and sociological element of a strong society. It’s like the game Jenga: you can slide and maneuver things all you want, but eventually, it all comes crashing down.

Jonathan V. Last, writing at The Weekly Standard, discusses this “family fragmentation.” He reviews Mitch Pearlstein’s book, Broken Bonds: What Family Fragmentation Means for America’s Futureand why the family must be saved. The family – that unit of biological mom, biological dad and children – remains the “gold standard” when it comes to not only how well children do in life, but in so many important aspects of society. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
By

Houston Narrows Subpoenas, But Pastors Say Not Enough
Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

The city of Houston, Texas announced yesterday that it has filed narrowed subpoenas against five pastors in a lawsuit against it challenging rejection of referendum petition signatures. At issue is an attempt by opponents of the city’s Equal Rights Ordinance to obtain its repeal.

Faith, Capitalism, and Economic Freedom
Keating Center Staff, Keating Center

Undeniably being the leader of the free world would be an incredibly demanding job. There is a reason why presidents’ hair seems to gray at a remarkably fast pace: they have to make extremely difficult decisions.

What Recent Events in Houston Mean for Religious Freedom
Hugh Whelchel, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

This is not the vision the founders saw for this nation. They saw religious liberty as one of the bedrock principles of the United States. Today our religious freedom is at risk of being replaced, at least in practice, by religious tolerance.

China’s One-Child Policy: Massive Crimes against Women, Supported by the Obama Administration
Chris Smith, Public Discourse

Under the Obama Administration, the United States is breaking its own law by giving taxpayer money to the United Nations Population Fund, which supports the One-Child Policy. It is also failing to implement immigration and visa bans for those who have been complicit in forced abortions and sterilizations.