I’ll be blogging from the Acton University conference this week. If you’re not familiar with Acton, it’s a conservative group that focuses on economics, politics, theology, and philosophy. So, I’ll be commenting on a fairly broad range of issues throughout the week.
I attended Acton last year and once again I find myself in the interesting position of being one of the least conservative people in the room. Hanging out here, I feel like a downright liberal as I push back on some of the ideas presented in the various papers. Indeed, if you look at my posts from last year (see below), you’ll see that I was pretty critical of many of the papers I attended before.
So, if that’s the case, why am I here again? Well, partly because they paid for me to attend again, and it’s hard to pass on a free conference. But, mostly it’s because Acton’s diversity in geography (over 20 countries are represented this week), tradition (Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox), and discipline (theology, philosophy, economics, politics, ethics, etc.) helps press my understanding of what it means to be human in new and challenging ways.
Last night’s opening banquet was a great way to begin. They started us off with some humorous guidelines for the week. My favorites were the following:
- To the Catholics and Orthodox: “You don’t need to talk about Mary all the time. We know that Mary has a lot to do with economics, but don’t tell the Protestants.”
- To the Catholics: “Go back to your hotel room, open the dresser drawer, and pull out the book you find there. It will have the letters B-I-B-L-E on it. Open the book and peruse it. It’s okay, Mary’s in there.”
I’m sure he had some good comments for the Protestants as well, but I was probably too busy writing these down at the time.
After that, we were treated with a testimony from a woman who worked with the Dutch underground during WWII to rescue Jews from the Nazis. She shared openly about her struggles, fears, and sacrifices. But, in the end, she declared, “I’m nothing special. Anyone who loves Jesus would have done the same.” That was humbling.
Stay tuned for more from Acton. I’m attending papers today on the social and economic context of the New Testament, corruption and politics, political economy in early American history, and medieval economics. I’m hoping at least one of those will be interesting enough to keep me awake. (I didn’t sleep well in the hotel last night, so I’m already dragging a bit.)
Posts from last year’s Acton University:
- In the beginning there was work. And it was good?
- Thoughts on human dignity
- Shouldn’t a Christian anthropology be noticeably Christian?
- The inadequacy of a “Christian” anthropology (Acton 1)
- What makes a view of government/law Christian (Acton 2)
- Questions for a “Christian” view of economics (Acton 3)
- Thoughts from Acton
- Free market economics through the lens of sin, power, and human flourishing (Acton 4)
- Creation theology and human flourishing (Acton 5)
- Sustainable stewardship (Acton 6)
- Concluding reflections (Acton 7)