A Special Season in the Desert – A Journey into Deeper Ecumenism (1)

The mission of ACT3 takes me to many cities and communities, to meet with leaders in private as well as large and small groups of earnest Christians from many churches. Some of my most enjoyable work is building relationships with some of the most interesting and mission-focused leaders that I’ve ever had the pleasure of sharing my life-journey with as partners. Such was the case again because of a visit to the Phoenix area, January 16-21. Over the next few days I plan to share this mission with friends by means of these blogs. I ask you to share in the joy of what Christ is doing and to pray for me as I seek to be faithful to God’s John 17 call upon my life.

On Saturday, January 17, I spoke at a Phoenix-area John 17 Movement meeting hosted by Catholic Renewal Ministries of the Diocese of Phoenix. Catholic Renewal Ministries (CRM) is a ministry organization that provides a variety of services to parishes and prayer groups across the Phoenix diocese, including: seminars, retreats, conferences, healing masses, praise nights and other devotional resources. CRM can best be

Alta Gracia – A Business Venture in the Developing World That Provides a Living Wage

about_workerEvery Sunday I record a program on PBS called “Religion & Ethics Weekly.” It is one of the finest programs I know on the major stories of the week in world religions. Several months ago I saw a broadcast that featured the story of Alta Gracia, an American company owned by a Catholic businessman in the U.S. Alta Gracia manufactures clothing. The owner is willing to make a smaller corporate profit in order to provide livable wages for his workers. He defines a livable wage as including the following:

Adequate money to provide for life’s essentials for an entire family: 

  • 3 Healthy Meals a Day
  • A Safe Home
  • Transportation
  • Healthcare
  • Education

The Workers’ Rights Consortium verifies that all workers at Alta Gracia receive a Living Wage, ensure that the workplace is safe and that workers’ rights are respected. Alta Gracia claims to be  the only clothing factory in the developing world that pays the people who make clothing a LIVING WAGE – more than 3X the minimum wage. 


Many of us have heard about the “name brands” and how they

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

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,

Complete Trust and Commercial Assurances

In the worship of this past Lord’s Day the divine liturgy that I shared in led us to confess that there were times when we failed to think of God’s call upon our lives properly. Because of these times we could not live an “impossible dream” because we saw this call as “an unwelcome interruption.” I was struck by how powerful this simple confession was to me. The line which followed said, “Faithful God, the apostle Paul emphasizes Abraham’s complete trust and faith in your promises and how he grew ever stronger in faith, fully convinced of your ability to fulfill what has been promised.”

Then this affirmation was followed by an application and confession which genuinely struck me as soul-searching in a profound way:

We find it hard to hear your promises above the commercial assurance of transformation–promises tempting us to trust the newest and trendiest product to realize our dreams. For all the times when we do not place our hope and trust in you alone, forgive us, O God. 

I thought about this confession over the last 24 hours. I believe that it is

By |September 17th, 2012|Categories: Business, Liturgy, Personal|

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|

Words of Wisdom for Labor Day

Friedman Milton Friedman (1912-2006) was born in Brooklyn, New York. He was a prolific public intellectual, and an American Nobel Laureate economist, something we need a lot more of these days. He made major contributions to both economics and statistics. In 1976 Friedman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics for achievements in the fields of consumption analysis, monetary history and theory, and for his demonstration of the complexity of stabilization policy. Simply put, Milton Friedman was the best known advocate of economic freedom in recent American history.

According to The Economist, which is not a pro-Friedman magazine, Milton Friedman "was the most influential economist of the second half of the 20th century . . . possibly of all of it.” Former Federal Reserve Board chairman Alan Greenspan stated, "There are very few people over the generations who have ideas that are sufficiently original to materially alter the direction of civilization. Milton is one of those very few people." I agree with Alan Greenspan’s analysis. This does not mean

By |September 5th, 2011|Categories: Business, Economy/Economics|

Dealing with Consumerism Through Biblical Asceticism

Let’s face it – there is a growing personal freedom that comes by living in a culture deeply rooted in materialism and consumerism. If I have enough money, and the desire to spend it, I can buy a new car, a bigger home or a new iPhone or iPad. In fact, I can have all of this stuff and never even pay for it, or at least not for several years anyway. This is not all bad. But this particular kind of consumerism feeds into two major problems – individualism and hedonism. And these two problems create devastating moral consequences in our society. This explains, I believe, why so many well-intentioned Christians link free markets with consumerism and them reject them both in the process. I tried to show yesterday why this connection was false.

Make no mistake about this — the dangers here are very real. In fact, a great deal of modern evangelistic practice has fallen into a consumerist trap. We seek to fill a personal niche by appealing to consumer needs and desires. We tell consumers (the non-Christians we are evangelizing) that they need

Does Economic Freedom Lead to Consumerism?

A number of false conclusions are drawn by focusing only on outcomes. A common one focuses on the dangers of free markets and an open economy. Critics, especially earnest Christian critics, often attack economic freedom and capitalism based upon the very real dangers of consumerism. This association between markets and consumerism is so common that it often goes unchallenged. I hear it almost daily. But is the connection between free market capitalism and consumerism correct? Does opposition to consumerism, which is clearly a rampant problem in the church in the West, obligate one to oppose markets and growing a (global) business? Keep in mind, before you leap into this debate, that you should always ask a few questions before you leap.

globe_and_money The first question should be obvious? What exactly is consumerism? So far as I can tell the term "consumerism" was first used in 1915 to refer to the "advocacy of the rights and interests of consumers" (Oxford English Dictionary). But this is not the common way most

By |July 22nd, 2011|Categories: Business, Economy/Economics, Wealth|

The Barnabas Group

I recently had a unique opportunity to speak about unity in Christ’s mission. I was asked to present an address to The Barnabas Group (TBG) in San Diego (May 9) and Costa Mesa (May 10). The Costa Mesa site is in Orange County for those who do not know Southern California. My title for both meetings was: “The Unity Factor: One Lord, One Church, One Mission.”

The Barnabas Group is one of the more unique missions and ministries I’ve encountered. It combines a high view of business as divine vocation with a big vision of Christ’s kingdom and personal responsibility to his mission. The members of the Barnabas Group are thoughtful, serious and successful people. (I am using the word success here in a business sense thus I do not mean by it that success equals Christian faithfulness per se.)

The Barnabas Group (TBG) has existed since 2000. Their purpose is to make a powerful impact on ministries around the corner and around the globe. In contrast to many great individuals and organizations who support ministries primarily with the checkbook, TBG believes ministry-minded people can provide so


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: