Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Acton University 2009


A. Introduction
The term “liberty” has been used by peoples throughout history—by the Greeks, the English, French revolutionaries, Marxists, etc.—and all groups have used the term in a different way. However, to truly understand liberty, we must not examine it as independent from truth or morality. Liberty is not to be understood as the right to do whatever one wishes; construed as such, one may come to understand it not as liberty but as slavery to sin.

B. Christian Virtuous Liberty – Freedom for Excellence
1. Liberty Integrated with Morality and Truth
The Christian understanding of liberty is to be viewed as “freedom for excellence.” In the Hebrew Scriptures, sin was always associated with slavery. One who sinned was often given up to slavery or slavery was given as a consequence for a people as a result of sin. The Christian notion of morality is highly demanding because happiness is seen as the result of the response to Christ’s call to live in the Truth according to a perfection that goes beyond the Mosaic law. St. Paul speaks of liberty in Christ and calls Christians to find the best that can be found and contemplate what is true and beautiful and virtuous. His writings are filled with references to stoicism that his gentile Greek audience would understand. At the very beginning of the church, there is a collaboration of faith and virtue and the integration of the classical virtues into faith. Augustine heeds great attention to the classical virtues.
2. Thomas Aquinas: Freedom for Excellence
For Aquinas, free choice is a matter of choosing good. Freedom, or free choice is based on two spiritual capacities: reason and will. Humans are free and in control of their actions because of their rational inclination to truth and to happiness. If a child with no training or discipline plays the piano, the result sound will be a barbaric and cacophonic expression of human freedom. It may seem like sin is an expression of human freedom, but it really is not. However, if the student engages in training by taking his natural inclination to play the piano and wills himself to learn it, he would be acquiring self-mastery. So it is with sin and virtue. We can achieve self-mastery to overcome sin and realize virtue in our lives.
3. Potential Objection
- It seems too Greek and Aristotelian and ignores grace, the scriptures, and faith
- Response: Augustine and Aquinas draw just as much from Scripture as they do from classical philosophy. Augustine grounds all of the virtues on Christian love. They are doing what St. Paul did: using philosophical contexts to clarify the scripture.

C. Freedom of Indifference
The alternative of freedom for excellence is freedom of indifference. This was articulated in the Fourteenth Century by William of Ockham, perhaps most responsible for what we today call “freedom of indifference.” He is the father of an alternative vision of human liberty: the nominalist vision of liberty that we have today. He is the chief exponent of nominalism: there are no universals such as the virtues, of universal human nature. According to his view, the absolutes are merely labels that have no inherent meaning. Freedom is simply a neutral faculty of choice; the will is man’s defining attribute. Nominalism implies that revelation is irrational and God is irrational.

D. Consequences of Freedom of Indifference
Nominalism holds that it doesn’t matter what we choose, just as long as we are free to choose. This leaves us in a world of indeterminate wills. We no longer have a God of love, but a God of obligations whose will clashes with ours. Nominalism prohibits us from treating good and evil and right and wrong and ultimately leads to Nietzsche’s arbitrary use of power.

E. What is to Be Done?
To make the Christian case for virtuous liberty in a nominalist world, we must live our lives in a non-nominalist manner by rehabilitating reason in the Christian faith. We should remember that the resurrection in the earliest Christian Church was presented to the rational assent of others. It was never forced upon anyone who was called to the submission of the Apostles. Rather, we read in the book of Acts how early believers, watching the Apostles as they performed signs and wonders, came to faith in Christ and in His resurrection. It was a process of reason that brought them to faith: as they watched the miracles, they concluded that there was something happening beyond the natural. This in turn convicted them that the signs and wonders were to be attributed not to some superstitious truth or religious doctrine, but rather, to the True God that the Apostles were preaching. Deprived of reason, faith becomes subject to feelings and emotion. Ultimately, when not anchored in reason, faith may degenerate into a form of superstition whereby people interpolate their own wills into God’s Word and ultimately worship nothing but their own selfish desires. When St. Peter stood up and presented his declaration in Acts 2:14 and following, he didn’t present it as an opinion, but rather, as truth for apprehension. He appeals to forensics, arguing with respect to the resurrection of Christ that we all are witnesses (Act 2:32). This is an appeal to reason; Peter is showing that because we have witnesses who saw this resurrection, it is therefore true.
In a sense, Luke also appeals to reason in the prelude to the Gospel under the same name, where he says, “It seemed good to me, having made observation, with great care, of the direction of events in their order, to put the facts in writing for you, most noble Theophilus” (Luke 1:3). The Blessed Augustine wrote that an act of faith is ultimately an act of reason and that faith in God is reasonable. Christianity is the religion of the Logos: it was never unreasonable. Some of Christ’s disciples did not understand Him until the day of Pentecost, but His teaching was nonetheless reasonable.


A. Introduction
1. Connection to Anthropology
Aristotle tries to deal with the good life to conclude what it is. It’s not pleasure and it’s not honor. What holds on that no one can take away is the life of virtue. The purpose of the polis is the good and perfection of its members. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, it is freedom for excellence. John Paul II said that the problem with socialism is anthropological in nature.
2. Example of the problem
How do free persons live together? Even with the modern secular idea: you still have the problem of resolving conflicts between exercises of liberty. When should you use legal coercion to deter people from choosing ends/activities that diminish their freedom for excellence? He wants to lay a groundwork for the state.

B. Historical Influence of Christianity on Limited Government
The sources of political liberty vary according to how we define “liberty.” Some would pin it to the Glorious Revolution of 1688; others to John Locke’s Second Treatise of Civil Government, to the Declaration of Independence, or to the French Revolution. Still others would trace it to the Enlightenments. Matthew 22:1 teaches that the state is to be limited: “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” Christians are to call for our rulers, but not to them. Christians thus did not consider the state to be the source of all truth. Constantine declared effectively that Caesar was no longer God when he did not subject the church to him. As a manifestation of higher law thinking to which even the Emperor must submit, we can consider the confrontation of Bishop Ambrose of Milan with Emperor Theodosius I for the latter’s slaughter of seven thousand residents of Thessalonica at the end of the fourth century.
Christianity insisted that the state was to be limited. This is why totalitarian regimes always tried to limit or destroy Christianity. Totalitarianism is essentially about subjecting every part of citizens’ lives to the State. This includes citizens’ thoughts and faith.

C. Anthropology and Theological and Moral Analysis
Sound Christian doctrine draws on both human flourishing and fallibility.
1. Human Flourishing
Humans are social beings and we need others to flourish and to live a life of virtue.
2. Human Fallibility and the Reality of Sin
Humans are good but fallen. There is a need for coercion as a form of deterrence or punishment to implement justice. The Core Competence of the State is Punishing Evildoers; Roman 13:4 states that the authority does not bear the sword in vain.
3. Natural Law and Moral Limits
Natural law makes it evident that some things are intrinsically evil. Positive law must be subordinate to natural law. If it’s a serious violation of the moral law, you have the obligation to say no. Thrasymachus in Plato argues that justice is the right of the stronger. Christianity says no.

D. Jurisprudence: Principles for Application
1. Common Good
This allows groups and individuals to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily.
2. Rule of Law
We must distinguish between the rule of law and the rule of men. The law is not meant to be arbitrary. There is to be due process and the enforcement of contracts. One of the problems in many of developing countries is that contracts are not enforced.
3. Subsidiarity
The Catholic doctrine of subsidiarity holds that things that should be administered by the most local level possible, and high-level government should only be involved in handling what cannot be dealt with effectively locally. For example, the family should take care of citizens’ moral upbringing; the state should provide their defense. The Protestant version of subsidiarity is the Dutch prime minister Abraham Kuyper’s “sphere sovereignty.”
4. Morality and the Limits of Law
How Far Should the Law Go? Should the Law Forbid All Evil? Aquinas said that we should not regulate and criminalize fornication, even though it is immoral and against God’s law. Why? Because if you did, it would create a massive intrusive state. Lord Acton: the Government should leave the feeding of the people and enriching of the people to the enterprise of others.

E. Conclusions: Gnostic Temptation
Avoid utopianism, which Christianity does not promote.


A. Introduction
Morse founded the Ruth Institute that promotes marriage among young people on university campuses. Slogan: “One man, one woman, for life.”

B. The Premises of Economic Science
1. There is a Truth to be Discovered
Economics believes there is such a thing as truth. In other areas of the university, the idea of “truth” is treated with hostility. This premise of an absolute truth is something that has undergirded all of the sciences of the West. This is why the west has chemistry whereas other societies have had alchemy. Others have had astrology; we have astronomy. Why? It is because Christianity has led us to believe that there is a truth out there.
2. Other Premises
The study of economics also presumes that there is a such thing as human nature and people respond to Incentives in a systematic and predicable way.

C. Economics Studied in Two Ways
1. Study of Scarcity
This is probably the most common approach to the study of economics. This means that human wants are infinite, but material resources are scarce. Economic science is thus seen as the business of allocating these scarce resources among society.
Note: scarcity applies to the material world. In the spiritual world, we can think in terms of abundance, not scarcity, of such concepts as grace or love. The core problem of the human condition, as we see from Genesis, is not a matter of scarcity (they had all the fruit they could consume), but rather, one of the human will.
2. Study of Exchange or Trade
This is the approach of Adam Smith, who saw people engaging in trade. This gave him insight as to what wealth really was: people engage in trade in a voluntary fashion if each one believes that he will be better off as a result of the trade.

D. Basic Economic Principles
1. People Respond to Incentives
Because people respond to incentives, you can predict what people are going to do based on these incentives. Most economists realize that people are motivated by more than money; they are also motivated by factors such as non-monetary benefits and prestige.
2. Opportunity Cost is the Correct Understanding of Costs
This view considers what else one can be doing with his time. Many of us at Acton University are giving up some income that we could have earned if we had not taken off. This is reflected in the current volunteer army versus the former conscription army; the government has decided that it is a better investment in working with only those who volunteer to join the army, for investing in their formation and training will likely have long term results since they will stay in the armed forced.
3. Prices Convey Information
F. A. Hayek is associated with the importance of prices in the market, which convey an enormous amount of information to both buyers and producers.

E. Basic Institutions of a Free Market
1. Private Property
Private property is significant because it means that someone is in charge of a resource and cares what happens to it.
2. Voluntary Exchange and Free Association
The whole institution of contract law is of key importance.
3. Profit and Profit-Seeking
There needs to be acceptance that some capital will be destroyed but that it will be transformed into a more useful capital. Competitors are there to assure that businesses do not charge too much or seek too much profit.
4. Rule of Law
The rule of law ensures stable rules that enable people to plan their economic activities. An investor cannot do anything significant if he thinks that the rules will suddenly change. The rule of law ensured that the West would develope so well.


A. Lecturer’s Bio
Philip Booth is Professor of Insurance and Risk Management at the Cass Business School in London. He is also the Editorial and and Programme Director of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA). The IEA, which was established by Anthony Fisher, is the first free market institute in the world. With the exception of the IEA’s journal, the web site (www.iea.org.uk) allows users to download everything the IEA produces, including the monograph Catholic Social Teaching and the Market.

B. Myths About the Market
1. Myth One: the Market Economy Encourages Greed and Selfishness
This argument holds that we need government to attenuate the worst effects of greed and selfishness. In reality, self-interest, which is not selfishness, is an important motivator in an economy. As Adam Smith has said that it is not from “the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.” Ultimately, a business must be mindful of the other, or it will go out of business. Might markets foster selfishness? In truth, they might foster the acquisition of material things, since capitalist societies tend to produce a great deal of material goods.
2. Myth Two: Minimum Wages Help the Poor
It may be that minimum wages help some poor at the expense of other poor people, but they do not help the poor globally. In the UK, the minimum wage is 5.75 £ (about $7). In the US, it’s about 60% of that level. What does the minimum wage mean? We are banning people who are willing to work for a certain wage from taking certain employment.
The UK low-pay commission said that the minimum wage has lifted up the wages of the lowest paid with no consequent loss of jobs. However, this study was undertaken soon after the minimum wages were implemented and thus did not take into consideration the full extent of the long term effects.
A US study, in contrast, showed that a 10% rise in minimum wage causes a 2-6% reduction in youth employment.
3. Myth Three: The Financial Crash Was Caused by Unfettered, Deregulated Markets
It is widely accepted that the crash of the 1930s was caused by greed. But the Fed assured market actors that it would lower interest rates if there was a crisis. This led to booming asset prices and low savings. Mismanagement of monetary policy is at the root of all financial crises.
4. Myth Four: Globalization Leads to Increased Inequalities
Some argue that globalization leads to increased income differences. There are actually two distinct questions: (i) the extent to which globalization has reduced poverty; and (ii) the extent to which it has reduced income differences.
Regarding the second question, according to the Catholic Compendium of Social Doctrine, there are many indications that point to a trend of increasing inequalities, both between advanced countries and developing countries, and within industrialized countries. But this may be because of the failure of some states to participate in globalization.
Absolute poverty has decreased rapidly in the globalized world. Thus, even if it is true that income disparities have increased, there are fewer poor people, and this is more important than the fact that there are wider wealth gaps between the rich and some poor people.
If present trends continue, the middle class will rise from 7.6 % of the world population in 2006 to 16.1 % in 2030.


A. Biography
Robby George holds a Masters in theology and a JD from Harvard. He plays the banjo and works to defend America’s founding principles. He is on the board of editors of First Things (with Rabbi Novak, affiliated with the Conservative movement in Judaism and then shifted to the Union for Traditional Judaism).

B. Lecture
1. Introduction
There is a lot of disinformation about what natural law is. Natural law theory is in essence a natural account of the fulfillment of human persons and the communities they form. One should choose and act in ways that are compatible with the human spirit. This includes rights that people possess by virtue of being members of humanity. These are rights that no person conferred and that no government can therefore take away. It is not like the right to a drivers license or some other revocable right. Rather, we are dealing with economic and other rights that we have by virtue of our human nature. No one has improved on Aristotle’s definition of man, the paragon of creation, as a “rational animal” (or “reasonable animal”). A person can be morally and spiritually strong, but physically debilitated.
Though we are individuals, we are individuals that are social by nature. Natural law theorists, however, reject both strict individualism and collectivism. Collectivism tends to subordinate the well-being of the individual to the interests of the larger unit. Neither group does justice to the person—a rational animal within a locus of rights and responsibilities.
2. Natural Rights
Are natural rights hard-wired into our nature? Human rights cannot be treated as the English utilitarian Jeremy Bentham (1748-1831) would say—towards the greatest good. Immanuel Kant though says that we should treat humans as ends and never as a means only. He is referring to both how we treat others and ourselves; we should avoid even acts that degrade our own humanity by treating ourselves as mere instruments of satisfaction.
One natural right that belongs in the set is the right of an innocent person not to be killed, for it is always wrong to kill an innocent person. This is why abortion, euthanasia, and killing of noncombatants in war are considered by Catholicism to be wrong. Robert George wrote the book Embryo: A Defense of Human Life, where he argues that all human life is worthy of the defense of life and where he rebukes people like Peter Singer and Ronald Dworkin who argue that not all people are subject to this protection. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote that God leads man not only through his instincts, but also through his reason, the logos that God freely shares with man. But whether or not one recognizes Biblical authority or believes in God, it is clear that man has certain inherent rights.
3. Shortcomings of Skepticism
David Hume, the father of modern skepticism, argued that reason is to be the slave of the passions. For him, the human experience is illusory and the ends people pursue are given by non-rational factors. People believe they are choosing for reasons, but that is an illusion. They believe they are acting under free will, but ultimately, there are sub-rational forces—feelings and emotions that Hume labels as “the passions”—that influence them. What this means is that Hitler’s goal, motivated by sub-rational passions, was to kill a lot of Jews. Mother Tereas’s goal was to save people in Calcutta. Reason cannot judge either goal; it can only be used to further each person’s respective goal.
4. Natural Law and Religious Freedom
It is often regarded as an embarrassment to natural law thinking the fact that medieval natural law thinkers denied some rights, such as religious liberty. This is partly because they misunderstood the idea of religious liberty, thinking it meant what the French revolution came to mean. But with Vatican II, Catholicism came to realize that religious liberty is not only about the right to believe what one wishes, but also the right to propagate one’s religion in the public square.
This is founded on the obligation of each person to pursue religious truth and follow it according to his conscience. The Church was thus showing that we each have an obligation to contemplate and consider religious questions, yet this right is today violated across the globe.

C. Conclusions
We may in the future see natural law depicted as an oppressive hidden form of religion.


A. Two Extreme Views
1. The Prosperity Gospel
The Prosperity Gospel was predominantly articulated by Jim and Tammy Bakker. Jim Bakker eventually went to jail for quick rich schemes to take advantage of his flock, but when he was released, he repented and wrote a book.
Proof texts for the Prosperity Gospel include the following:
- Luke 6:38: “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
- Deut. 28:11-13: “And the LORD will grant you plenty of goods, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your ground, in the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers to give you. The LORD will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. And the LORD will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them.”
- John 15:7: “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”
Countering the teachings of the Prosperity Gospel, we can consider the biblical teaching that the giants of the faith led hard lives. In fact, all but one of the apostles was martyred; according to tradition, St. John was the only apostle to die a natural death, but he spent his life exiled on the Island of Patmos. Faith and obedience to God does not thus necessarily guarantee material prosperity.
2. Liberation theology
Gustavo Gutiérrez is perhaps the best known name in liberation theology, which seeks to free the poor from oppression and emphasizes that the poor often abound in spiritual richness.
Proof texts for liberation theology include the following:
- Luke 6:20b-25: “Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said: "Blessed are you poor, For yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, For you shall be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, For you shall laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, And when they exclude you, And revile you, and cast out your name as evil, For the Son of Man's sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets. "But woe to you who are rich, For you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full, For you shall hunger. Woe to you who laugh now, For you shall mourn and weep.”
- Luke 16:13b: “You cannot serve God and mammon.”
- Luke 18:24-25: “And when Jesus saw that he became very sorrowful, He said, "How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."”
- Luke 16:19-25: “"There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. "Then he cried and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.' But Abraham said, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.”
o NOTE: the Lazarus in this story is fictional, but there is a non-fictional Lazarus depicted in the Gospels who does rise from the dead. This thus shows that the dead can come back into the work of the living.
o However, the effect of the resurrection of the non-fictional Lazarus was not the repentance of the religious people; rather, the Pharisees sought to kill him.
- Acts 2:44-45: “Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.”
Among liberation theology-mind youth, Che Guevara stands out as a hero, but in reality, he was a mass murderer. The youth view him as a rebel for the poor, but he was really a murderous Marxist.

B. The Bible Upholds Private Property
Genesis 23 depicts the negotiation between Ephron and Abraham about the purchase of land for burying in the cave of Machpelah from the Canaanites. Ephron insists that Abraham take the field, but Abraham insists on paying for it. In the end, Ephron puts a price on the field and Abraham pays it to him. The valuing of the land, and the subsequent purchase, is one of the earliest accounts that we have in the Bible of the ownership and transfer of private property. Clearly, then, private property is in the scripture and

C. The Rich Young Ruler in Context
We read in Matthew 19 the story of the rich young ruler (some translations call him a “rich young man”) who held wealth as an idol. Jesus told the man, “come, follow Me” (Matt 19:21), but the man “went away sorrowful” (Matt 19:22). We must note that the sin of the young man was not the wealth in and of itself, but rather, that it prevented the man from following Jesus. It is possible that Christians hold wealth, but they must be willing to give up everything at any point to go and follow Jesus.

D. The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus
In this parable, the rich man is sent to be tormented in hell while Lazarus, who sat at his door with sores, was sent to Abraham’ s bosom. According to St. John Chrysostom, the rich man was punished not because he was rich, but because he was cruel and inhuman; he violated the commands to give alms to the poor. The poor man who rested in the bosom of Abraham was praised not because he was poor, but because he bore his poverty with thankfulness.

E. The Rich and the Eye of the Needle
Christ remarked on “how hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:25). Yet he conceded “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27). The point to remember is that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Tim. 6:10a). It is not money in and of itself that is the problem. Rather, it is the love of money.
Luke, in the book of Acts, mentions wealthy Christians as people in good standing. Matthew interprets Luke in stating that “blessed are the poor in spirit,” Matt. 5:3a.

F. God Doesn’t Want Everyone to be Poor
Rather, he wants the rich to love the poor. We read in 1 John 3:17: “But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” There were gleaning laws in Levitcus which stated: “you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger” (Leviticus 19:10) and “when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field when you reap, nor shall you gather any gleaning from your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger” (Leviticus 23:22).
Similarly a system was set up to protect the poor in the “year of jubilee”: “if one of your brethren becomes poor, and has sold some of his possession, and if his redeeming relative comes to redeem it, then he may redeem what his brother sold. Or if the man has no one to redeem it, but he himself becomes able to redeem it, then let him count the years since its sale, and restore the remainder to the man to whom he sold it, that he may return to his possession. But if he is not able to have it restored to himself, then what was sold shall remain in the hand of him who bought it until the Year of Jubilee; and in the Jubilee it shall be released, and he shall return to his possession” Lev. 25-28).

G. Why Riches Are Dangerous
Riches are dangerous because they tempt us to depend on ourselves and on our riches, rather than on God. But riches should not be viewed as a curse.


A. Introduction
Pope Benedict gave a speech where he said, “we need to expand reason beyond the empirical.” We should shift from asking “why is there poverty,” which is abundant, to “why is there wealth,” which is rare. We can shift the focus from “what can international institutions do” to “what can the poor do.” This is a very important topic for Christians, since Jesus exhibited a care and a concern for the poor.

B. Reality of Poverty
Let us consider the following facts: 3 billion people live on less than $2/day (adjusted for purchasing power); 840 million people do not have enough to eat; 1 billion people lack access to clean water; 2 billion lack access to sanitation; 1-3 million die each year from malaria; 10 million from preventable diseases; and 3 million people die each year from AIDS.
Many responses have been devised, including bi-lateral and international assistance; the planning of the IMF, World Bank, USAid, the UN, and development agencies; Official Development Assistance (ODA) population control programs, Structural Adjustment Packages (SAP), debt relief, and billions in aid.

C. What Has Happened?
Despite all of these efforts, aid has largely been ineffective. There is no correlation between aid and economic growth. Lord Peter Bauer argued that foreign aid created the “Third World” and hostility to the West and has politicized development by attaching political strings to development. It has caused a colonial mentality: people are incapable and need help. But we should recognize that people need to do it for themselves.
Aid can be imperialist, with assistance given contingent upon family planning. Barak Obama’s first act in government was to reverse the Mexico Protocol in order to fund abortions in the developing world.

D. ONE Campaign
The ONE Campaign, whose slogan is “Make poverty history,” seeks to fight corruption in the developing world, to increase aid to 1% of the federal budget, to fight malaria and AIDS, and to achieve debt cancellation and trade reform. It uses celebrity appeal to achieve these ends.

E. Causes of Poverty
Among the causes of poverty are corruption, poor institutions, and a lack of accountability.

F. Fallacies about Poverty
Fallacies about poverty include:
- The view that wealth creation is a zero-sum game (poverty for some is caused by others’ wealth);
- Over-population is a cause of poverty;
- People are only consumers, not producers.
- Countries cannot develop without aid.
- Capitalism only benefits the rich.

G. Can Anything be Done?
There is no panacea for development, but we can focus on the causes of success. Hernando de Soto argues that the problem in the developing world is not a dearth of assets, but rather, the inability of entrepreneurs to turn assets into capital that can be used to produce wealth. We thus need to create economic freedom because God created us to be free and to have dominion. One needs space to live out his freedom to act as a co-creator.
We can consider the following cases as examples for lessons: Germany and Japan; Argentina v. Canada; and Hong Kong v. China.


A. Introduction
We cannot say that Islam is based on or represented by all of the violence that we see in the media. After all, Christianity is not to be judged by violence in its own past, such as the Inquisition. According to Bernard Lewis’s What Went Wrong, if we go back to the Middle Ages, we find the most liberal regimes to be in the Islamic world (p. 156).

B. Overcoming the Tribe
Prior to Islam, the Arab society was shaped by the desert and by the values of the desert. The social structure was based on tribalism. The individual had little chance to survive outside of the tribe. Individuals came and went but the tribe was what was important. The Arabs did not believe in the afterlife and they thus saw the individual as unimportant. The immortality that man could achieve is in the tribe and continuation of its spirit (Karen Armstrong).

C. The Birth of the Individual
With the advent of Islam, Mohammed started preaching a new message: the individual has importance and is to live on forever; the tribe is unimportant when compared to the immortality of man’s soul. The German Hans Küng emphasized this. Human dignity was taught in Islam. In addition, Islam introduced rights for the weak. For example, women were very oppressed, and it gave them rights to property, to inheritance, and to choose their husband. Prior to that, one would pay a dowry to the father; but in post-Islamic society, the dowry would be paid directly to the woman as a security in the event she was divorced. In this society, even animal rights were introduced.

D. Islam is a religion of the sword and spread by the sword
It is true that Islam spread by the sword. Mohammed waged wars with pagans during the expansion of Islam. This is because Muslims believed the rule of Islam was good. But while they spread the rule of Islam, they did not require anyone to submit to Islam. The Qur’an states that “if your Lord had willed, all the people would have faith. Do you think you can force people to be believers?” (Qur’an 10:99).
In Muslim-ruled territories, the pagans were not tolerated, but Christians and Jews, called “the people of the book,” were tolerated, but were required to pay a tax for their protection, since they were not required to serve in the military (the Muslims were). The Ottoman Empire eliminated this rule, yet some non-Muslims didn’t like it because they preferred avoiding the military service. The system was actually in many ways more liberal than Europe, which is why many Jews would come to the Middle East.
Islam is very tolerant of Christians, stating in the Qur’an that Christians are even “the best friends for Muslims,” because they are not arrogant and have wise men in their quarters. However, Islam criticizes the doctrine of the Trinity. Theologically, from a Muslim point of view, Christians are not viewed as antagonistic.

E. The Role of Shariah
Some examples of Sharia law, such as the stoning of women to death, come not from the Qur’an, but from the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 22:20-21 states that if “evidences of virginity are not found for the young woman, then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has done a disgraceful thing in Israel, to play the harlot in her father's house. So you shall put away the evil from among you.”
Things may seem extreme in the Sharia, but when one considers that torture was at the time considered the norm, or that the English common law punished theft with death, the Sharia becomes just one more of many legal systems.
Shariah has five basic purposes: the protection of life, religion, lineage, intellect (hence the ban on alcohol and drugs), and property. With respect to the protection of property, it should be noted that the longest verse in the Quran is about how to sign a contract. Furthermore, the Qur’an banned usury.
One notable fact about the Shariah law is that in Medieval Islam, the state (the Sultan/Caliph) didn’t make the law; rather, it was made by the Islamic scholars of the day. The Sultan could not do whatever he wanted; he was bound by the law.

F. Islam’s Influences
Islam gave rise to the birth of capitalism in the Arab world. Mohammed said, “Nobody has ever eaten a better meal than that which he has earned by working with his own hand.”
Furthermore, Islam preserved the scholars of ancient Athens and offered them to the West. Greek philosophy was lost in the Middle Ages and the Muslim scholars translated them into Arabic. At the time, one would learn Arabic and go somewhere to Muslim Spain or the Middle East to discover Aristotle or other Greek scholars.

G. What Went Wrong
Today, many Muslims are closed off to whatever is Western. What changed? It started off with changes in world trade routes that left the Middle East poorer than it was when it was at the center of trade. Another explanation considers that the Muslim world did not change much, but that rather, the West changed. The question might be: “what went right in the West?” rather than “what went wrong in the Middle East”? The Muslims became self-satisfied about their past and were not curious as to what was happening in Europe. Thus, the developments in European trade, insurance, and legal institutions that led to wealth creation in Europe went largely unassimilated in the Muslim world.

H. Rationalists versus Literalists
There has been a battle in Islam between rationalists versus literalists.
1. Rationalists
The rationalists believe in contextual revelation coupled with reason. They argue that the Qur’an is created and should be interpreted allegorically and non-literally. They also argue that we have reason to interpolate with revelation.
The Mutazili School was the most representative of rational Islam. As Karen Armstrong wrote in A History of God, “justice is the essence of God. He can’t wrong anybody. He can’t enjoin anything contrary to reason” (p. 164).
2. Traditionists
The traditionalists are focused on literalist revelation plus the “sayings” of Mohammed. They follow the Hadiths, or reports of the sayings and activities of Mohammad and his companions. They argue that, rather than try to reason, we should look at Mohammed’s sayings and mimic his acts. This became the Sunna or traditions of Mohammed.
The Hanbali School was the most representative of this branch of Islam. Ibn Hazm captures its philosophy when he stated, “God is not bound by even his won word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us.” This developed into Wahhabism.
3. Ashari
Ashari was a scholar who tried to effect a synthesis of both schools. However, he was closer to the Hanbali side. This later became the tradition of the Sunni Arab world.
4. Maturidi
Maturidi’s view is a close variant of the Ashari view. He came along and this became the official doctrine of the Ottoman-Turkish Empire.


A. Introduction
This is the second lecture on Orthodoxy at Acton. We hope to get a survey of the scholarly literature on globalization and on Orthodox economic thinking.

B. Lecture
1. Basic Overview of the Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church is located in many lands that are pluralistic in nature. Freedomhouse has a list of countries that can be said to fit into “Orthodox grouping” if either Orthodox Christians are the majority or it has had an impact on the cultural development of the nation. These countries include: Greece, Russia, Georgia, Finland, Lebanon, Syria, and many others. The Ukraine is also one of these countries, but the Orthodox Church is divided between Moscow and another autocephalous church, called the “Ukrainian Orthodox Church” (there is a lot of grayness as to which one is official).
Orthodox Holy Tradition began with the apostles and goes on to eternity. It is deeply colored by its history, which too often has been tragic. That’s why Orthodoxy is known as the “church of the martyrs.” The greatest persecution was not in Rome, but in Stalin’s Russian and in Romania. Albania declared itself atheist and expropriated churches.
2. The Orthodox View of Globalization
There is a deep suspicion that Orthodox hold towards globalization based on competition with the West and especially with Rome. Orthodoxy sees itself as the protector of cultural identity: to be Greek is to be Orthodox. It is not unusual for Greek poetry to be recited at a Greek Independence Day celebration at a Greek Orthodox Church. This suspicion is based on cultural protectionism of the Orthodox people.
Papism and Protestantism have been influenced on a theoretical and theological level by Augustine in his view of predestination. Unfortunately, the Protestants have been unable to separate themselves from this.
In the words of one Orthodox writer, globalization is an “alien ideology imported by the Franks [Western Christians].” Archbishop Anastasios of Albania, in his book, Facing the World, wrote profound things about globalization. He talks about promoting and resisting a globalization that puts forward a global oligarchy and traces globalization to: (i) technology; (ii) the collapse of the entire world of ideas of the former Soviet block; (iii) actions and decisions of large states and international organizations, which show that globalization is no longer an independently developing idea but is of the economically powerful, such as multinationals. The models of globalization are based on the West, on Western ideas, and on mdels of life that have self-serving goals. The Eastern Orthodox feel helpless that they can’t control the vicious images that are disrupting the lives of families.
A group of US Orthodox bishops in the millennium statement highlighted that in many countries under socialism, Orthodox Christians suffered greatly. At the same time, they state that capitalism does not leave a place for faith in God; capitalist culture is shaped by the bottom line. These bishops are leveling Marxism with the capitalist economy. This is somewhat ironic, because the Orthodox churches in America, unlike those in Greece, are independent of and do not depend on the government for their support. They spread up through the money won by immigrants, who have done very well economically in the US. They view technology and everything else that came with capitalism, including consumerism, as tracing back to Western scholasticism (the rationalization of revealed truth). They thus see themselves as the innocent bystanders of a phenomenon that can be linked to the Franks.
3. The East-West Rift
The lay Orthodox theologian Nicholas Zernov pinpoints the “end of fellowship” between the East and the West on the date of the sacking of Constantinople. He also points to 1185 AD, when Thessaloniki was sacked by Latin Crusaders and was marked by drunken soldiers dancing atop altars. These events of the past are partially responsible for an anti-West feeling in the Orthodox world today that continues to manifest itself as anti-globalization. Many Orthodox consider globalization as a threat to Orthodoxy and thus as a threat to Orthodox nations as well.
Ioannis Stefanidis treats some of these questions in Anti-Americanism in Greece.
4. Orthodox Identity
In 2000, there was an uproar when the government eliminated the “religion” checkbox on the new identity cards. Many in Greece declared that “first we are Orthodox, then we are Europeans.” The mentality is that “history teaches that Europeans were always out to harm us.” The Greek people cling to an identity associated with the church. Some have stated that “the race owes itself to the Church.”
After the fall of Communism, nationalist passions ignited by non-Orthodox missionaries coming into the Orthodox world, especially into Russia. Protestants said they would “Christianize” or “bring the Bible to” Russia, but the Russian government branded the proselytizers as cults. In 2002, when John Paul set up four parishes in Russia, Russia asked it to be downgraded to “administrations.”
5. “The Ambivalent Orthodox”
In “The Ambivalent Orthodox” (Journal of Democracy, Apr. 2004), Elizabeth Prodromou argues that the Orthodox see pluralism as a way of “subordination” or “oppression.” She says that outside of Greece, the Orthodox people have little experience with democracy.
There is thus a great deal of hesitance and suspicion towards change and pluralism. However, the economic life in Orthodox cultures in practice (not theory) is often distinct. The economic practice is at odds with ideological campaigns against Western ideas and the market economy. It is apparent how Orthodox Christians who have fled to the West have flourished under the Diaspora. Furthermore, since the founding of Byzantium, the Orthodox have been producers and traders in the world trade. The Greeks have flourished in world shipping (Leonos, etc.) and entrepreneurial exploits. In fact, before the current economic crisis, most ships belonged to the Greeks and more than 60% of China’s imports came to Europe through Greece.
The Dumbarton-Oaks edition of the History of Byzantium states that economic thinking was acceptable to the Byzantines. It was not profit that was considered to be unclean, but rather, profit made by the oppression of the poor. The Byzantines allowed for the lending of money at interest for everyone except to clerics. Furthermore, Constantinople dominated world trade routes in markets. The wealth of the city attracted merchants from all over the world.


A. Introduction
Business is a moral enterprise that not only benefits the individual, but also society. It plays an important role in developing a flourishing human life.

B. The Purpose and Legitimacy of Business
Milton Friedman argued that the social responsibility of a business is to make profits for shareholders. Peter Drucker, a Christian and the “father of management,” argues that the purpose of business is to create a customer. John Paul II writes that the profit is not the only factor that counts for a business; rather, there are other factors that are important for the life of the business. He prefers using the expression “business economy” or “free economy” to the word “capitalist,” which is a Marxist coined term.
Business is an example of civil society that is based on the natural right of free association. If an entrepreneur does not serve a legitimate social need, he will not make a profit.

C. The Role of Business in Society: Business and the Common Good
A moral enterprise should have a positive effect on the common good. Business makes significant contribution to the common good, such as technological innovation. A disciplined business person needs to have virtue, courage, temperance, and the spiritual gifts of faith, hope, and love, especially when working with customers and especially coworkers. All of these values are intrinsic to the business enterprise. It is not extrinsic, such as the charitable work that a business can undertake.

D. Work in Scripture: Theological Reflections
Work comes before the fall; God tells Adam and Eve to work the garden and to be fruitful and multiply. Man is created in the image of God and receives a the mandate to subdue the earth and to be creative. Proverbs continually speaks about the importance of work and of the dangers of greed. Even Jesus, a carpenter, demonstrates the dignity of work. Throughout the Christian tradition—Catholic and Protestant—we see praise for work and the moral necessity of using one’s talents wisely. Among others, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and John Baxter speak of work in a positive light.
The master tells the servant that his being faithful in the small matters (“well done good and faithful servant”) gives him authority over the big matters. Jesus is acknowledging the value of work and its ability to build virtue. Jesus warns us about wealth (“it is harder for a rich man to get into heaven than for a camel to enter the eye of a needle”), but never says that it is inherently evil.
Paul exhorts the thief not to steal but to work with his own hands to provide a useful service (Eph 4:28). He also says that if man does not work, he should not eat. We are to embrace the “sweat of the brow.”
At the same time, scripture gives warnings. Work on its own does not make man whole, and it can become an idol. Rest is necessary for a flourishing life. We are to keep the Sabbath –a holy day, or “holiday,” to worship God.

E. Conclusion
Business is how most people make their livelihood and meet their needs. It is a model of innovation that has been a force for lifting people out of poverty, creating opportunities, and curing disease while enabling leisure and a rich life. Work is not the ultimate purpose or end of life, but should be recognized for its own value. John Paul says that “it is always man who is the purpose of work.” It’s a balanced vision that warns us about greed; we are not to seek only gold.


A. Some Comments on Taxation and Related Issues from Papal Encyclicals
Mr. Booth believes it is important to consider these thoughts because the ideas have been issues examined throughout the history of the Catholic thought, and regardless of whether one is Catholic, the opinions and recommendations of the Pope can be informative and can shed new light on old questions.
In Rerum novarum, Pope Leo XIII says that “Socialists, therefore, by endeavoring to transfer the possession of individuals to the community at large, strike at the interests of every wage earner, since they would deprive him of the liberty of disposing of his wages.” In paragraph 15, he states, “The door would be thrown open to envy, to mutual invective, and to discord; the sources of wealth themselves would run dry, for no one would have any interest in exerting his talents or industry; and that ideal equality about which they [the socialists] entertain pleasant dreams would be in reality the leveling down of all to a like condition of misery and degradation.” Pope Leo also believes that property ownership was critical to the poor. Wherefore the Pontiff declared that it is grossly unjust for a State to exhaust private wealth through the weight of imposts and taxes (para 49).
Who is to say that it is right for government to take money from some people to give to others? What if one person was saving in a responsible manner all of his life in order to plan for retirement; does the government have the right to seize this money to distribute it to another person who perhaps was not saving and working as hard and thus does not merit it?
Markets allow for a peaceful allocation of resources, and yet Christians are attracted to a soft left approach. Rather, the Christian view should be to restrain the government to spend the public’s money on redistribution and intervention schemes.
There even comes a point where tax rates become ineffective. The Laufer curve shows that there comes a point beyond which if the government raises taxes, it will actually reduce revenues to the government. This is because, once taxes reach a certain level, people will begin to work less or they will hide their income. This maximum point is somewhere in the field of 40-60% of income. Thus, in the EU, if taxation is around 50%, then governments must tax all people relatively equally in order to reach this 50% margin, since if the EU taxes the very wealthy at a rate that is above 60%, they will either stop working as hard or will avert their taxes. In such a system where the poor are taxed as much as the rich, one ends up with a flat tax that the poor will resist as unfair.

B. Taxation and the Family
Marginal taxation can stifle families. The UK offers a telling example. The UK taxation and finance system makes it very expensive to get married. If a couple is living apart, and the woman is raising the children but is not working, she is eligible for benefits. However, if she marries the father of her children, she will lose these benefits. This is perhaps why so many low-income couples in England remained unmarried when compared to high-income earners.


A. Islam vs. Islamisim
A man at a conference that Mr. Akyol attended demonstrated some extreme ideas by arguing that the whole world should be united under the Caliphate. This helped Mustafa understand the difference between Islam and Islamism. When we leave aside this anti-West and anti-capitalist rhetoric, Islam tells a different story. In fact, the longest verse in the Qur’an is about how to properly sign a business contract. As the Frenchman Maxime Rodinson states in Islam and Capitalism, the Quran encourages economic activity.

B. Charity or Collectivism?
The Qur’an also puts a great deal of emphasis on charity and taking care of the poor. Some Muslims therefore take a socialist approach towards government.

C. “Allah Governs the Market”
When he was asked to lower the price of certain goods being sold, Mohammed refused to do so, stating that “Allah governs the market.” Similarly, the Qur’an and Islamic tradition emphasizes the importance of trade, and this is why trade has been so central in the Middle East.
In the Middle Ages, the Arabs were very open to new ideas and to innovation. They were busily translating the best of the classical Greek writings and undertaking great advances in the sciences throughout the Muslim world. Even the check (“cheque”) as we know it today originated in the Middle East.

D. What Went Wrong?
The Wahabis were very backwards until they discovered oil under their soil. They thus became quite wealthy, but this “discovered” wealth did not transform their societies and ways of thinking.
Turkey, with an openness towards progress and modernity, is a different case. It has never been a colony and has even joined NATO. Most Turks regard the US in a very favorable light because it protected Turkey from Communism.

E. Conclusion
Islam is not a monolithic religion that does not admit for differences in belief and thought. There has been a checkered history of both Islamic statism and Islamic capitalism.


A. Introduction of Fr. Sirico by Kishore Jayabalan, Director of Acton Institute in Rome
Not that many priests live up to the vocation that the priesthood places on them, but Fr. Sirico certainly does.

B. Address
Fr. Sirico grew up in the Brooklyn of the 1950s, a multicultural city. He remembers numbers tattooed on the hand of his neighbor across the hall, Mrs. Schneider. When Fr. Sirico asked his mom what these numbers meant, she explained that in some parts of the world, people are branded, just as animals are, so that their owners would always be known. As of that tender age, Fr. Sirico understood what human dignity meant and how it has been violated.
After many years of interaction, Fr. Sirico turned left and went to Hollywood to participate in many protests and sit-ins. He once came across a young man who was right-wing and lashed out against him for his ideologies, but the young man stared back at him and said, “you are delightfully dumb; I am going to take it upon myself to educate you.” The young man came over Fr. Sirico’s home with a pile of books, including F.A. Hayek’s Road to Serfdom and Von Mises’s Human Action.
Based on a conversation with a priest, Fr. Sirico eventually set off to seminary, but upon arriving, he found under the name “Liberation Theology”everything he left back in Hollywood.

C. Conclusion
The French Thomistic philosopher Etienne Gilson once said that “piety is never a substitute for technique.” We cannot merely construct a society worthy of the human person unless we know how to; technique is necessary. We cannot feed the poor unless we understand business and how to produce food and to build homes. If we are ever going to be sanctified in this world, it will be by means of this world. Today, people think that piety alone suffices, but technique is essential.