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For the Life of the World: The Classic Book and a New Video Series

I have mentioned my friend Byron Borger at Hearts & Minds Books in several contexts. There is no better reviewer of good books than Byron. Everyone who values my blogs should subscribe to his newsletters and pay attention to his reviews and book specials. There is simply no better Christian resource for good books – at least in the Protestant world – so far as I have discovered. Below is a review that covers the brilliant new film series that I am totally stoked about: “For the Life of the World.” Please order this series from Byron and you will not regret it I promise you. Show these films to friends, your small group, your local church, your adult education class, your older children, etc. There is no better introduction to whole life discipleship thinking available. This is not a series of polemical overviews but a good, solid Christian discipleship resource about living well that is applied to life in a holistic way.

Hearts & Minds Books



DVD “For the Life of the

The Emotive Cry for Community

UnknownMichael Novak, in his stirring memoir of a journey from left to right, devotes an entire chapter to community, as I noted yesterday. He writes: “One of life’s most time-consuming tasks is to achieve disagreement with an ideological opposite. Without blinking, you might object; ‘It’s not had to disagree. Heck! Most people do it all the time” (282). But aren’t disagreements really inevitable? After all we have different understandings of terms, widely varying perspectives on history, and unique sets of fears and rosy scenarios that we all entertain? But, says Michael Novak, “We are most often like two ships passing in the night” (282). Is he right? Could this really be true? I think so.

One of America’s most wise and important Catholic thinkers in the last century was the Jesuit John Courtney Murray. Novak says that Murray once said two people cannot (to use Novak’s description of Murray’s point) come to a “real disagreement without sticking to the argument for a very long time–maybe long enough to work through a case of brandy together as they ruminate.

The Carter Years and the Bankruptcy of Bad Economic Ideas

Unknown-2The Carter years profoundly convinced Michael Novak of the bankruptcy of his previous economic ideas. While Novak explains Carter’s personal love for Jesus Christ as genuine, and easily misunderstood, he rightly separates the good heart of the man from some of his very bad ideas about what makes for a free and prosperous society. During the Carter years Novak’s own views were taking new shape. He was writing more about economics and making new friends globally. When Ronald Reagan was elected the president in November of 1980 he asked Michael Novak, lifelong Democrat, to become his ambassador to the UN Commission on Human Rights. After a time in Geneva Novak returned home but then was sent back again in 1982. This work had an immense impact on Novak’s view of the world.

Novak’s new friends, which he cultivated in the late 1970s, began to gravitate to his home for meals and thus came into his personal life as confidants. These friends included Fr. Robert Sirico, Bill Bennett, Jack Kemp, Mort Kondracke, Ben Wattenberg, Irving Kristol, George Weigel, Henry

From Socialism to Capitalism – A Move That Cost Michael Novak Friends and Prestige

124_2013_bknovack8201_s640x821Michael Novak, author of the memoir Writing from Left to Right: My Journey from Liberal to Conservative (Basic Books, 2013), writes eloquently of how he became disillusioned with the “new” versions of the old Keynesian liberalism of the 1970s. This economic view promoted government spending to excess in order to stimulate the economy and create jobs. The core belief was that this approach would solve the problems of the poor through a greater expression of compassion which would come about through direct governmental help. Nothing awakened him to the failure of this kind of thinking quite like the policies, and outcomes, of the Jimmy Carter era.

As I noted in my blog on Novak’s memoir last Wednesday (1/29) one of the reasons that I so deeply appreciate his position, and thus his memoir, is that he openly explains why he  “resist[ed] libertarianism” (159). He admits that he found great reasons in libertarian arguments to reject his strident socialism but not enough to compel him to embrace the total package. To make sure his position is properly stated I

Michael Novak: On Forming Good Intellectual and Spiritual Habits

Unknown-1Michael Novak, not to be confused with the late conservative journalist Robert Novak, has been (rightly I believe) described as “one of the world’s most influential social philosophers.” He has played a number of prominent roles in American life, ranging from advising candidates and presidents to teaching and writing on the ethics of the free market and welfare reform. He has taught at Harvard and Stanford and he has held academic chairs at Notre Dame and Syracuse. He was also one of the early leaders of the American Enterprise Institute, an influential think tank. In 1994 Novak won the Templeton Prize (it has been called the Nobel Prize for the life of the spirit), a prize also won by men like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Desmond Tutu, Mother Theresa of Calcutta and Charles Taylor. His writings have been translated into every major Western language as well as Chinese and Japanese.

One thing that separates Novak from many intellectuals, and elected leaders, is his genuine civility and humility. His thought is clear and he is willing to allow facts to challenge

Writing from Left to Right: An Engaging Memoir

124_2013_bknovack8201_s640x821One of the most fascinating and engaging political stories that I have read in years is the recently published book, Writing from Left to Right: My Journey from Liberal to Conservative (Image: New York, 2013). This unique memoir is written by Roman Catholic scholar Michael Novak. I found Novak’s memoir so deeply interesting, for both Christian and personal reasons, that I decided to write several blogs on the ideas of Novak, a foremost intellectual among serious social thinkers over the last four decades.

I have followed the work of Michael Novak for thirty years. Michael Novak is the retired George Frederick Jewett Scholar in Religion, Philosophy, and Public Policy from the American Enterprise Institute. He is an author, philosopher, and theologian. Michael Novak now resides in Ave Maria, Florida, where he is a trustee and visiting professor at Ave Maria University. I had the privilege of serving on a national board with Michael Novak in Washington about a decade ago. It was through this context that I got to know him personally. Several shared meals allowed me some

Acton University–June 18-21, 2013

The Acton Institute is pleased to announce that registration is now open for the 2013 Acton University (AU), which will take place on June 18-21 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

For four days each June, the Acton Institute convenes an ecumenical conference of pastors, seminarians, educators, non-profit managers, business people and philanthropists from more than 50 countries in Grand Rapids. Here, 800 people of faith gather to integrate and better articulate faith and free enterprise, entrepreneurship, sound public policy, and effective leadership at the local church and community level. With this week of fellowship and discourse, participants build a theological and economic infrastructure for the work of restoring and defending hope and dignity to people around the world. This is Acton University.

This year’s distinguished international faculty will once again guide participants through an expanded curriculum, offering even greater depth of exploration into the intellectual foundations of a free society.

Space and scholarship funds are limited – so register or apply now! Please visit where you will find the online registration form along with complete conference information. If you have any questions,

Is the World on a Permanent Downhill Slide?

Is the world on a permanent downhill slide? To listen to many Christians you would think so. During this political season you would think so even more than during other years. People, left and right, remind us daily of the dire consequences of this election and of what will happen if the wrong person, or party, is elected in November. For many you would think that America's entire future hangs in the balance. Pardon me if I am skeptical about all of this but I heard this message in 1960. I was only eleven years old. It was not true then and it is very likely not true now either. Wars followed Kennedy's election, economic cycles came and went, morals improved and declined (yes there have been ups and downs both). Over and over things went on coming and going like waves of the sea. Some things improved, some didn't. Has our culture drifted? Well, in some ways yes. Marriage is in deep trouble. But then if I was an African American I would say things have improved, at least in

Religion & Liberty: A Magazine Your Should Read

21-4I admit my own bias but one of my favorite magazines is Religion & Liberty, published by the Acton Institute. You can get a print subscription but you can also read issues online. The most recent issue features a great interview on "Rethinking Mission to the Poor." This is vintage Acton thinking expressed by the kind of people who have made a real difference working with the poor. Check out the current issue at Acton's magazine site.

While you're there check out the November-December issue for 2010. You might recognize the guy on the cover. I hope you will enjoy the interview they did with me. I was very pleased with the finished product and how they told my story through this interview. 

I am very pleased to serve Acton as a partner by being a Senior Advisor. In this role I represent Acton to evangelical leaders and seminary professors. I am pleased to

By |February 14th, 2012|Categories: Acton Institute, Poverty|

What Andreas Widmer Learned About Business and Entrepreneurship from the Pope

Front-cover-for-web-194x300 Business entrepreneur Andreas Widmer has a truly great story to tell. His new book, The Pope and the CEO, tells this story and makes a hugely valuable point about both business and poverty. Widmer says, “The pope showed me what real leadership looks like. He modeled for me how to pursue our God-given potential. Not coincidentally, this also makes us and those around us better employees, more capable of and more willing to work hard at building a stronger company. That is something that makes both good human sense and good business sense.” Amen!

Andreas Widmer served as a member of the elite Swiss Guard for two years. The guard is a security detail that protects the pope. (I had the opportunity to talk to some members of the Swiss Guard at the Vatican in March and find their work very interesting.)  In this new book Andreas Widmer gives us a behind-the-scenes look into the life and thinking of Pope John Paul II, “the most authentically human person

By |October 24th, 2011|Categories: Acton Institute, Business, Poverty, Wealth|

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