On today’s episode, Acton librarian and research associate Dan Hugger sits down with Acton research director John Pinheiro to talk about the state of higher education in America and contrast it with the philosophy of liberal learning advanced by the late Fr. James V. Schall, S.J. 

Has philosophy fled the academy? How does the crisis in higher education compromise the teaching and learning of the liberal arts? What are the perils and promises of liberal learning outside the university? Are the “Great Books” the solution to the crisis? What role should the Christian faith play in higher education? What practical steps can students and teachers take to advance liberal learning in institutions uncongenial to the cultivation of wisdom and virtue?

In 2022, the Acton Institute launched The Collins Center for Abrahamic Heritage to advance research and education from Jewish, Christian, and Islamic perspectives on economics, liberty, and human flourishing.

As part of its mission, the Collins Center earlier this year launched a debate series on the relationship between government and religion, featuring robust dialogue between scholars and leaders of different faiths.

The modern world is a busy and complicated place for Christians. Obligations to jobs, friends, and family, along with personal interests, frequently overshadow our relationship with Christ.

In spite of all this, John Michael Talbot shows there are many ways to deepen a connection to Christ with a busy life. He’s written 28 books, produced 59 music albums, and still maintains an active ministry from Little Portion Hermitage in Arkansas, where he teaches the importance of community living and finding inspiration in the Scriptures.

When celebrated American novelist and short story writer Flannery O’Connor died at the age of 39 in 1964, she left behind an unfinished third novel titled, “Why Do the Heathen Rage?” Scholarly experts uncovered and studied the material, deeming it unpublishable. It stayed that way for 40 years. Until now.

For the past 10-plus years, award-winning author Jessica Hooten Wilson has explored the 378 pages of typed and handwritten material of the novel—transcribing pages, organizing them into scenes, and collating everything to provide a glimpse into what O’Connor might have planned to publish. “Flannery O’Connor’s Why Do the Heathen Rage: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at a Work in Progress” is the result.

There is no question today that new technology is changing the way we think about and experience work. Speculation abounds about how the rapid evolution of artificial intelligence and other disruptive technologies will affect the workplace. Worries about machines replacing humans on the job are common. Others, however, are optimistic about the way AI is changing how we work—they see AI as an important tool to promote better efficiency and productivity in the workplace. How will AI change the way work is done? How will it affect the workforce? How will it affect the economy?

To answer some of these questions and more, we bring you a panel discussion from our February Business Matters Conference. Acton’s director of programs and education, Dan Churchwell, leads Brent Orrell, Mark Johnson, and Máté Csak in a conversation looking to the future of work and the role disruptive technology will play in it.

Gertrude Himmelfarb was one of the foremost historians of Victorian life. She produced page-turning biographies of some of the age’s most intriguing and influential figures, including Lord Acton, Charles Darwin, John Stuart Mill, and George Eliot. She also produced social histories of the period and brought a Victorian sensibility to American politics as a leading conservative public intellectual.

In this episode, Acton librarian and research associate Dan Hugger speaks with Nicole Penn, author of an essay just published in National Affairs entitled “The Historian’s Craft,” which deftly explores the life and legacy of one of the conservative movement’s most accomplished women.

Many Christian congregations now offer hybrid worship services: you can worship in person or online. While these options have become increasingly popular, our understanding of them has not kept pace. Furthermore, emerging technologies like artificial intelligence will only complicate matters further. The contemporary church needs a way to make sense of the dizzying influx of emerging technologies, practices, and possibilities.

In this episode, Acton director of programs and education Dan Churchwell talks to Rev. A Trevor Sutton, senior pastor of St. Luke Lutheran Church in Lansing, Michigan, and coauthor of “Redeeming Technology,” about hybrid worship, the effect AI will have on the church, and how to respond to concerns from laity and clergy alike.

In this episode, Noah Gould, Acton’s alumni and student programs manager, speaks to Jane Clark Scharl about her verse play, Sonnez Les Matines, which asks, What if John Calvin, Ignatius of Loyola, and Francois Rabelais had their convictions put to the test while navigating their involvement in a brutal crime?

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Our culture tells parents there’s one best way to raise kids: enroll them in a dozen activities, protect them from trauma, and get them into the most expensive college possible. If you can’t do all that, don’t even bother. How’s that strategy going? Record rates of anxiety, depression, medication, debts, loneliness, and more.

In his new book, Family Unfriendly: How Our Culture Made Raising Kids Much Harder Than It Needs to Be, bestselling author and father of six Timothy P. Carney says it’s time to end this failed experiment.

In this episode, we bring you a conversation from our recent Business Matters virtual conference between Acton’s director of marketing and communications, Eric Kohn, and David Bahnsen, founder, managing partner, and chief investment officer of the Bahnsen Group.

They discuss Bahnsen’s new book, Full Time: Work and the Meaning of Life, in which he makes the case that our understanding of work and its role in our lives is deeply flawed—we are unmoored from what he calls “created purpose.” He argues that the time has come to stop tiptoeing around the issues that matter, that separating our identity from what we do is deeply damaging, and that this era of alienation is for many a direct result of a low view of work. It is in work of every kind—effort, service, striving—that we discover our meaning and purpose, and a significant and successful life is one rooted in full-time productivity and the cultivation of God’s created world.

In 1980, Nobel Prize–winning economist Milton Friedman released a 10-part documentary series on PBS called “Free to Choose,” with each hour-long episode giving his perspective on important public policy debates and social issues. The series was a hit and possessed a staying power far beyond the 1980s. Through this and much of his other work, Friedman became one of the leading public intellectuals of his time, and his ideas have influenced economics and public policy deeply.

In this episode, Acton director of marketing and communications Eric Kohn speaks to Jennifer Burns, author of a new biography, Milton Friedman: The Last Conservative. In this important contribution to understanding Friedman’s legacy, Burns explores the great economist’s life, ideas, and the important women with whom he worked.

Managing a business is a challenge no matter the context. Talent comes and goes, supplies change, and you can’t always achieve everything you want. Every day, new constraints create roadblocks to the next goal. There may not be one solution to these problems, but co-founder and managing partner of Michigan Software Labs Mark Johnson says strong company culture is the foundation of any successful company.

In this episode, Acton director of programs and education Dan Churchwell speaks to Mark about becoming an entrepreneur, managing the ever-changing challenges of managing a business, and why it’s important to be a good steward to both clients and colleagues.

Anyone of a certain age will remember the massive hit that was “We Are The World,” the Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, and Quincy Jones produced charity single by USA for Africa. The considerable profits from the that hit song went to the USA for Africa Foundation, which used them for the relief of famine and disease in Africa and specifically to 1983–1985 famine in Ethiopia.

Even though Africa is an enormous and diverse continent with 54 sovereign countries, many people in the United States, and the west more generally, were left with the impression of Africa as destitute and poverty-stricken.

On today’s episode, Acton librarian and research associate Dan Hugger sits down with Acton research fellow and Journal of Markets & Morality executive editor Dylan Pahman to talk about educationThey begin with the 18th-century vision of education advanced by America’s Founders. Why did they believe education was necessary for a free society, and what kind of education did they have in mind?

The discussion then turns to attempts by St. John Henry Newman, F.D. Maurice, and Abraham Kuyper to build institutions of liberal learning in 19th-century Europe. What innovations did these men introduce to education? How did their approaches differ from what came before (and each other), and where were there continuities? What can we learn from these attempts in addressing the crisis in education today?

This week, Eric talks with Mustafa Akyol about his essay in the Winter issue of RELIGION & LIBERTY, a book review of “Wahhābism: The History of a Militant Islamic Movement.” Where did Wahhabist Islam come from and how much sway does it hold in the Muslim world today? Then Eric is joined by Anthony Bradley and Noah Gould as they discuss the He Gets Us ads from the Super Bowl, Tucker Carlson’s interview of Vladimir Putin, and how old is too old to be president of the United States.

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We are living in the age of deconstruction. We are constantly bombarded online, in schools, and sometimes even in our homes by attitudes and arguments aimed at deconstructing our faith. Through this, do we know what it means to question well?

Faith is not the sort of thing that endures so long as our eyes are closed. The opposite is the case: Faith helps us see, and that means not shrinking from the ambiguities and the difficulties that provoke our most profound questions.

In this episode, we bring you a recent Acton Lecture Series event with Kevin Vallier.

The 20th century featured an unusual phenomenon: global secularizing movements. In the 19th century, these movements were confined mostly to Western Europe, but in the 20th century they exploded, suppressing the influence of religion around the world. In some milder cases, as in Turkey and India, the political expression of only the great religions was throttled. In others, such as in the USSR and Mao’s China, ferocious religious persecution was an ideological necessity. In light of new political realities, however, older religious traditions are beginning to take back their influence in the public square. And they’re doing so by rejecting the “liberalism” they see as their oppressor.

On today’s episode, Acton librarian and research associate Dan Hugger speaks with lawyer and chair of Common Good Philip K. Howard about his new book: Everyday Freedom: Designing the Framework for a Flourishing Society. Why do so many people feel powerless today? How can people experience “everyday freedom” at work, in school, and in all of life? What forces in American life today stifle our sense of freedom and responsibility, and how can they be counteracted to ensure flourishing for all? What special role do people of faith have in empowering others in their community to realize freedom and responsibility?

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After decades of trade and investment with advanced democracies, China is far richer and stronger than it otherwise would have been. Simply put, the West’s strategy of engagement with China has failed. Democracies have underestimated the resilience, resourcefulness, and ruthlessness of the Chinese Communist Party. Growth and development have not caused China’s rulers to relax their grip on political power, nor have they accepted the rules and norms of the existing international system.

In this episode, Acton director of marketing and communications Eric Kohn speaks with Aaron L. Friedberg, professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University, about the biggest misconceptions the West has about China and the current Chinese regime—and what the West should be focused on in years to come.

In this episode of Acton Line, Dylan Pahman, Acton research fellow and executive editor of the Journal of Markets & Morality, interviews Dr. Clara Piano, assistant professor of economics at Austin Peay State University, about her recent paper “Familial Liberty: Property and Family in Late Scholastic Thought,” presented at Acton’s Third Annual Academic Colloquium. Their wide-ranging discussion addresses such questions as: What is the connection between family and property? What insights do late Scholastic theologians have for us today? What does modern “pro-family” policy get wrong?

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