How Does Jesus Speak to Our Modern Religious and Social Context?

I am currently reading, rather slowly I confess, through the Gospel of Mark. It is a fast-paced narrative a rooted in oral tradition, something easily forgotten by modern readers. At the beginning of the second century CE this Gospel was affirmed in several texts as the work of Mark. It was also attributed to Peter, who was his companion. Because this … Read More

The Great Degeneration

What causes rich countries to lose their way? Obvious symptoms of decline, in the West in general and America in particular, abound: slowing growth, crushing debts, increasing inequality, aging populations, antisocial behavior. A significant number of social critics will agree that these are the general symptoms of cultural shifts in the West but few will agree on what has actually … Read More

Can Money Buy Happiness? The Real Answer Might Surprise You

One of the most misquoted verses in all the Bible must be 1 Timothy 6:10, which says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains” (NRSV). The text says “the love of money” is the … Read More

The Emotive Cry for Community

Michael 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 … Read More

The Carter Years and the Bankruptcy of Bad Economic Ideas

The 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 … Read More

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

Michael 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 … Read More

Michael Novak’s Liberal Origins and Friendships

Yesterday I gave an overview of Michael Novak’s superb new memoir, Writing from Left to Right: My Journey from Liberal to Conservative (Image: New York, 2013). For me, a teenage in the 1960s, this wonderful memoir seems like a political and economic account of an extraordinary life well-lived through a time of social and political turbulence, the times in which … Read More

The War on Poverty Fifty Years Later

Fifty years today (January 8, 1964), in his first State of the Union address, President Lyndon Johnson proposed a piece of legislation that came to be known as the “War on Poverty.” This legislation was proposed by the president in response to a national poverty rate that had reached around nineteen percent. The speech led the U.S. Congress to pass the Economic Opportunity Act, which … Read More

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 … Read More