A Voice in the Wilderness In Defense of "Mere Conservatism"


Man of Faith, Man of Action (and Acton)

By: R.J. Moeller

All of these people were living by faith...they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. Hebrews 11

On the whole, and to their own detriment, my generation holds the wisdom of their elders in contempt.  Our culture is obsessed with living longer and longer, but seemingly unimpressed with (and indifferent to) what those blessed with long life have to say about it.  Where in our society are there institutions or organizations which serve to facilitate inter-generational interaction?  Where are the opportunities, even at American churches, for the young to learn at the feet of the old?

I met Jim Healey (pictured below) in October of 2009 at the annual dinner for the free-market think-tank The Acton Institute in Grand Rapids, MI.  Other than the fact that we are both from the Chicago-land area, and if the way most of my generation treat people their parents' age or older is appropriate, we should have had little else in common.  I am under 30, and Jim is over 70.  Jim is Catholic, and I am an Evangelical Protestant.  I am involved in ministry and teaching, Jim is a "retired" businessman.  Jim still wears a suit-and-tie most days, and I wear Chicago Bulls mesh shorts.Healy 3

But since that initial meeting in Michigan some 8 months ago, Mr. Healey and R.J. Moeller have become fast friends.  What brings us together is our faith in the God of the bible.  What unites us is our appreciation for the institution of the family, and our devotion to our own.  What bridges the gap between decades of life lived is our mutual and relentless pursuit of the truth.

Jim is a patriotic citizen, loving husband, doting father, and seemingly tireless advocate for The Acton Institute and its own worthy goal of doing what it can to help foster a "free and virtuous society."  Whether it is personally making calls to invite people from local parishes to a screening of Acton's Birth of Freedom documentary, or driving up on a Tuesday afternoon to eat lunch and talk strategy for the promotion of upcoming Acton events with a seminary student (like me), Jim Healey's motor never stops running.  His faith is lived and worked out with each prayer he prays, with each phone call he makes, and with each smile he shares with those lucky enough to make his acquaintance.

The great American evangelist and publisher D.L. Moody once said, "If you convince a man you truly love him, you've won him."  Jim Healey wins people over every day of the week.  You can see his love for people in his eyes and hear it in his voice.  You know that the discovery of real, biblical truth is paramount in his life by the way he protects, defends, and promotes it.  Jim is able to fearlessly advance his economic and political worldview because he long ago learned what my generation desperately must: If Christ is Lord, He is Lord of all.  All of it matters to Him, so it must matter to us.

I am grateful for the Acton Institute and all the tremendously important work it does in training the next generation of religious leaders in the West.  But I am more thankful for the friendships and relationships that have begun because of my involvement with Acton.  Friendships like the one Jim and I have begun do not happen in other sectors of society, but they do happen at Acton.  Their commitment to, and honoring of, the wisdom of the ages isn't reserved only for the written words of dead guys like Alexis de Tocqueville, or Lord Acton himself.  The Acton Institute honors and cherishes the wisdom of those still living who have forged a life of faith, hard work, and compassion.

Jim Healey is my friend, and a man we can (and should) all learn a lot from.

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. Hebrews 11:13-16

Comments (7) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Great article Robby. Jim is an incredible man and I am excited to work more with him. Lord willing, it will be sooner rather than later.

  2. Thanks Robby.

    Jim is laying himself down; he is a man. This is what men do…they protect…he sees the danger…he is doing what he can to protect those entrusted to him. I share your gratitude for Jim and his friendship. God’s Peace to you.

  3. Robby — a great article and I am a a member of your mailing list and the proud father of my son, Michael Miller, who is Director of Programs and Video at Acton. Thanks for your very thoughtful comments on Jim Healy,

  4. I met Mr. Healy;I only spoke to him briefly. Nevertheless, he is such a great man. He told me so much in a couple of minutes. WOW – what an AMERICAN ICON!!!!!
    Thanks for the great article and —MR HEALY –YOU ARE THE MAN.

  5. It was very touching to hear about your friendship with Mr. Healey. I don’t know either of you personally, but I could tell your admiration for him was genuine, and it sounds, well deserved. Keep up the great work, RJ.

  6. I too attended Acton U but somehow missed meeting you and Mr Healey. Thank you for this excellent and pleasing note honoring a worthy elder.

  7. Delightfiul to see the mutual humility!

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What is “Mere Conservatism”?

The basic ideas, ideals, and values that generally define and characterize the central tenets of what today might be termed "modern conservative thought."

We believe that a proper understanding of history, economics, and theology leads to certain conclusions. Many of these are the same conclusions our Founding Fathers arrived at in constructing a "more perfect union."

All ideas and opinions are welcome; not all are correct.

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