Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
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o-UNEMPLOYMENT-HEALTH-facebookFor many people the holiday season is their favorite time of the year. But for the 9 million Americans who are currently unemployed, this can be an especially difficult time. The feeling of hopelessness and despair that can come with looking for work often increase with the approach of Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

Lauren L. Moy was recently unemployed during Thanksgiving and recalls the feelings of awkwardness when meeting with friends and relatives over the holidays. Moy offers recommendations for how to deal with unemployment at this time of year and why Christians have reason for hope:
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Blog author: bwalker
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
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yamsLet’s face it – if not for genetically modified organisms, many of us wouldn’t be celebrating Thanksgiving in the traditional sense. Instead of turkey, cranberries and sweet potatoes, we’d be reduced to something far less appealing such as, say, Beans-and-Franksgiving.

Unfortunately, some shareholder activists – including those affiliated with As You Sow – work long hours to ensure GMOs are eliminated as a dinner option. According to the AYS website:

The genetic modification or engineering of plants and animals has become a significant economic and environmental issue. As investor advocates, we are concerned that many companies are exposed to material financial risk from the environmental, food security, and public health issues associated with GMOs.

Currently, 85% of corn, 93% of soybeans, and 82% of cotton in the U.S. is genetically engineered. It is estimated that 75% of processed foods in supermarkets contain GMOs. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Agriculture, and the Environmental Protection Agency do not conduct or require long-term safety studies on the environmental or health impacts of GMOs. Independent researchers, however, have documented the increasing environmental impacts and negligible benefits of genetically modified crops, and the significant and growing consumer preference to avoid them.

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power of youthThe United Nations has just published its State of the World Population Report 2014, “1.8 Billion Strong: Adolescents, Youth and the Transformation of the Future.” I always enjoy a good read from the United Nations, and this does not fail to provide much fodder for discussion.

The U.N. is very pro-young people. Youth are capable of great things. Our world needs their intelligence, their spirit, their intelligence, their innovation. The report is full of photos of beautiful and vibrant young people from around the world.

But let’s not get carried away. The U.N. doesn’t love them that much. (more…)

2014-Thanksgiving-GraphicWhile it may not seem like it when you’re at the supermarket checkout, Americans benefit tremendously from relatively low food prices.

Consider the typical Thanksgiving feast. According to an informal price survey conducted by the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), the average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving meal for ten people is $49.41—less than $5 per person.

The AFBF survey shopping list includes turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and beverages of coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient not only to serve a family of ten, but to have leftovers.

That same meal a century ago would have been much more expensive. According to Business Insider, when adjusted for inflation the same meal for ten would have cost $167.77. One reason is that turkeys are considerably cheaper. A 16-pounder in 1911 prices would cost roughly $110 today (the AFBF says the average turkey today costs $21.65).

So when you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, be sure to include prayer of thank that you don’t have to spend as much of our income on food as your ancestors.

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
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Catholic Social Thought and the Law: Usury
Steve Bainbridge, ProfessorBainbridge.com

In my seminar on Catholic Social Thought (CST) and the Law tonight’s discussion focuses on usury. Why does the Church oppose usury? What is the current teaching on usury? What is usury? Has the Church’s definition of usury and/or its position on usury changed over time? If so, what does that mean for other Church teachings?

Six new Catholic saints at a glance
Associated Press

Pope Francis on Sunday canonized six new saints, two Indians and four Italians, all of whom dedicated their lives to helping the poor.

Why the Crackdown? Christians Now Outnumber Communists in China
Steven W. Mosher, Aleteia

China’s Communist government has been on an anti-Christian rampage of late, tearing down churches in the coastal city of Wenzhou and elsewhere, arresting underground bishops and home church leaders, and illicitly ordaining pliant priests as Catholic “bishops.“ But underneath this escalating campaign of repression – in fact, the reason for it – is a rapidly growing population of Christians.

You’ve Never Heard of This Legislation. But If Passed, It Would Increase the Welfare State.
Robert Rector, The Daily Signal

The ABLE Act (H.R. 647) would effectively eliminate the asset test for many families that receive means-tested welfare assistance. Consequently, it would expand the welfare state.

UntitledToday the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released their 2014 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons.

“Unfortunately, the report shows there is no place in the world where children, women and men are safe from human trafficking,” said UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov “Official data reported to UNODC by national authorities represent only what has been detected. It is very clear that the scale of modern-day slavery is far worse.”

Here are seven figures you should know from the latest report:
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humanumMy favorite psychology professor, when I was an undergrad, had a saying: “We are all more alike than we are different.” While most of us would never know the horror of paranoid psychosis, he said, we all know the fear of walking into a room and thinking, “Why is everyone looking at me? Is something wrong?” It’s in this realization of the common human experiences that we could begin to see even the most ill person in a compassionate manner.

It seems as if Rick Warren, founder and senior pastor of Saddleback Church, has come to a similar revelation. After taking part in the Vatican’s Humanum conference, Warren came to this conclusion:

I think the beauty is that we have far more in common than we have what separates us. When you think about it, what is a Christian? They believe in the Trinity — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They believe in the Resurrection. They believe in the Bible. They believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins. If you believe those things, we’re on the same team. We may have different disagreements on other issues, but if you love Jesus Christ, you’re my brother, my sister.

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Today at Public Discourse, I examine recent data that strongly suggests that “freedom from government restrictions on religion often paves the way for economic liberty.”

I write,

Thus, we can say that if someone wishes to promote economic liberty worldwide, one should not neglect to encourage religious liberty at the same time. This requires facing the challenges of any given country’s religious context and history, while underscoring the importance of interreligious studies for international economic development efforts.

These findings also ought to affirm a tempered realism among international development organizations and advocates who hope to encourage free economies in countries with high government restrictions on religion. Such liberalization is not impossible, as Singapore, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain demonstrate. However, the strong correlation clearly favors those countries with moderate to low government restrictions on religion and preferably with moderate to low social hostility toward religion as well. A country that values and protects religious liberty offers fertile soil for economic liberty to flourish.

Exploring the connection between religious and economic liberty is one of the central focuses of the Acton Institute. For more on this subject, check out Michael Novak’s recent Acton Commentary, “Economic Tyranny Trumps Religious Liberty,” and be sure to look into our Religious and Economic Freedom Conference Series (here).

You can read the rest of my article, “Connecting Religious and Economic Liberty” at Public Discourse here.

cathedra“By putting male and female together as the image of God, there’s something very powerful being said about the rest of creation… about how the male and female together have the task of bringing the love and life and stewardship and care of creation of God into the rest of the world.” –N.T. Wright

Christians believe that all humans are created in the image of God, a notion that shapes our understanding of human dignity and transforms our view of human destiny. In Genesis 1, God pairs this truth with his command to “be fruitful and multiply” and to “replenish the earth,” showing us how bearing his likeness points toward a particular kind of service and stewardship.

Yet for as much as we focus on the general reality of all this, how often do we consider that other part: “male and female he created them”? God created two distinct sexes to reflect his image — to work alongside and complement each other in enacting his purposes throughout the earth in divine unity. What does this imply for our approach to dominion and whole-life stewardship, and if we fail to recognize it, as the broader culture seems inclined to do, what might we miss?

In a video series for the recent Humanum event, an inter-faith conference on marriage and family, these questions are explored at length, beginning with a stunning introductory episode on the meaning of marriage and its importance for human destiny.

As N.T. Wright makes clear around 12:50, God created man and woman together to display his image and likeness, to serve as a symbol of our Creator, and in doing so, to bring “the love and life and stewardship and care of creation of God into the rest of the world.” (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, November 24, 2014
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Office Space: The Benefits Of Working With Your Hands
Dylan Pahman, Humane Pursuits

While most people cannot excuse themselves every day at noon to go dig a ditch out behind their office, we all can find ways to incorporate manual labor into our daily spiritual practice (something I continually need to remember myself).

Christian Inmate Suing Indiana To Recognize Religion
Daniel Silliman, Religion Dispatches

An Eastern Orthodox prison inmate won a small but important victory in his legal fight to have the Indiana Department of Corrections recognize his religion.

The Justice Department becomes a schoolyard bully in Wisconsin
George F. Will, Washington Post

Eager to sacrifice low-income children to please teachers unions, the Justice Department wants to destroy Wisconsin’s school choice program.

Churches and Obama’s Executive Amnesty
Mark Tooley, First Things

That U.S. immigration policy should be based on several Scripture passages simply urging kindness to strangers was a dubious claim but one that supposedly would mobilize millions of Evangelicals to compel the Republican House of Representatives to approve the Democratic Senate’s legislation for mass legalization.