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Acton University: Economics, Freedom, and Christianity

June 10th, 2008 | 2 min read

By Tex

. . .what is virtue if not the free choice of what is good?”

Alexis de Tocqueville

Today the Acton Institute, and educational and research group promoting the development of free and virtuous societies through individual liberty and Christian principles, kicks off it’s annual summer conference. Events get started with an introduction by institute founder, Rev. Robert A. Sirico that promises to be, at a minimum, electrifying. The conference, or Acton University, is a self-described “unique, four-day exploration of the intellectual foundations of a free society.” Drawing on a wide-ranging and thoughtful panoply of professors and guest lecturers, the conference will explore topics such as the relationship between Christian theology and globalization, the development of social justice theories in Protestant and Roman Catholic thought, the role of natural law in Christian theology, and foundations for private property.

The good blogging folks at the Acton Institute nominated Mere Orthodoxy for a full Acton University fellowship, asking that we send a delegate to attend and blog the conference. After much conferring and under-the-table deals, I managed to convince the other Mere O contributors that I was the man to cover the event. Packing my bags in time to catch the westbound red-eye, I arrived in Grand Rapids, MI this afternoon. First on my list, after checking in to the hotel, was finding a strong WiFi signal in order to welcome you to benefit from my attendance at the conference.

I plan on coming as close to live-blogging as possible during the event. It remains to be seen whether I’ll have an internet connection in the classroom, but at the very least look for a recap of the days major thoughts and topics every evening here at Mere O. The days promise to be packed with an exploration of new ideas, or rather, mostly old ideas reiterated in a new context.

Some people say that good things come in pairs, but at Acton University they seem to come by the truckload. With so many great lecture options, it was almost painful choosing my schedule for the week. Four classes were decided for me, being required material for first-time attendees. I snapped up the opportunity to listen to Mustafa Akyol, deputy editor of the Turkish Daily News and avid blogger, discuss the relationship between Islam, free markets, and capitalism. Choosing to focus on one or two areas rather than gorge myself at the smorgasbord of ideas, I will focus my attention on Christianity and globalization with an eye towards social justice on the international stage and fill in the edges with a brief sketch of the place private property has in flourishing, free societies. My schedule is listed below:

1. Christian Anthropology: Freedom and Virtue
2. Christianity and the Idea of Limited Government
3. Islam, Markets and the Free Society
4. Myths About the Market
5. Theology and the History of Globalization
6. Evangelical Social Thought: Justice Grounded in Love
7. Private Property: Scriptural, Moral and Economic Foundations
8. Natural Law and Protestant Publlic Theology
9. Christianity, International Law, International Institutions
10. Poverty in the Developing World

I welcome any thoughts and questions you might have…as I’m sure I’ll have plenty of my own to work through and to put through the “digital martyrdom” this week.

…now, let the fun begin.