bad-books-illustra_1671130cIt’s August. Still plenty of time to tackle that summer reading list. The good folks at Intercollegiate Review want to make sure that you don’t waste any time on junk – after all, life is too short for bad wine or bad books. Of course, you are free to debate any of their choices but in most cases, wretched is wretched.

Here are a few of their “bad” picks and the thinking behind their choice.

    • Alfred Kinsey, et al., Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948)
      So mesmerized were Americans by the authority of Science, with a capital S, that it took forty years for anyone to wonder how data is gathered on the sexual responses of children as young as five. A pervert’s attempt to demonstrate that perversion is “statistically” normal.
    • Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, Our Bodies, Our Selves (1976)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Or, Our Bodies, Our Liberal Selves. A textbook example of the modern impulse to elevate the body and its urges, libidinal and otherwise, above soul and spirit.

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    1800 year-old church allegedly burned by ISIS terrorists

    1,800 year-old church allegedly burned by ISIS terrorists

    The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter has declared today, August 1, to be a World Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians in Iraq, Syria and the Middle East. They ask that Christians use this day to pray for the perseverance of their Christian brethren in war-torn areas, and that they will be delivered from further suffering. It is fitting that all people of good faith pray for this.

    At The Federalist, writer Mollie Hemingway says we need to pray, but we also need to be practical. She says we need to inform ourselves and others about what is happening in the Middle East, why it’s happening, and what we can do – practically – to help. She refers her readers to an article by Nina Shea at Fox News that bluntly tells us that only Americans can save the Christians in Iraq:

    The last of Mosul’s Christians, those some 5,000 professors, doctors, lawyers, mechanics and their families that left between June 10 and July 19, find themselves suddenly destitute and homeless because of their faith. Some went to the nearest Nineveh Christian villages, temporarily sheltering in schools and churches. These villages would be vulnerable to ISIS attacks, too, but for their protection by the Kurds, who are, themselves, Sunni Muslim. Water and electricity have been cut off for some by ISIS, who told one Christian town official, “You don’t deserve to drink water,” reported Archdeacon Youkhana. The residents are desperately digging wells.

    Many more have fled to Kurdistan, where there are ancestral Christian villages and big cities. (more…)

    Blog author: jcarter
    posted by on Friday, August 1, 2014

    Francis and the Evangelicals
    Fr. Dwight Longenecker, Aleteia

    The pope’s planned reform is larger and more deep rooted than one imagines.

    Genital Mutilation: The Real War On Women
    D.C. McAllister, The Federalist

    Estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that at least 150,000 to 200,000 girls in the United States are at risk of being forced to undergo FGM.

    Gordon College and Pluralism in Higher Education
    Adam J. MacLeod, Public Discourse

    Requiring all colleges and universities to adopt the same practices and policies would destroy their institutional identities and prevent them from achieving their diverse missions.

    Marriage Won’t End Poverty. But It Will Help (A Lot).
    Rachel Sheffield, The Daily Signal

    It’s true that that marriage is not a silver bullet to cure poverty. But problematically some on the left , including Price, use that assertion to conclude that marriage should be left out of the equation to solve poverty altogether. This is completely off base.

    Participant in the Doe Fund, New York City

    Participant in the Doe Fund, New York City

    No one wants to be poor. No one enjoys figuring out how to stretch meals to last just three more days. No parent wants to tell their child they can’t play a sport or get a new backpack because there is simply no money. No one wants to be evicted. Poverty in America is a reality; so what are we going to do about it?

    The American Enterprise Institute has a few ideas. They’ve taken a look at where we are 50 years after the War on Poverty was declared. The conclusion is that we’ve not been successful in that war. Poverty in America—and What to Do About It is a compilation of essays on the topic.

    Aparna Mathur says the talk of late about “income inequality” is misleading. We must address poverty, not differences in individual income.

    We are now in the fifth year of an economic recovery that does not seem like a recovery to most people in the labor market. There are more than 10 million unemployed workers, of which nearly 4 million have been jobless for longer than 27 weeks. In addition, there are another 10 million who are either in involuntary part-time jobs, or are too discouraged to look for work. Therefore, I would argue that the focus on income inequality is somewhat misplaced. This is essentially a problem of poverty.

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    Cocoa-farmersThere’s a famous essay by Leonard Read titled “I, Pencil” in which an eloquent pencil (yes, pencil) writes in the first person about the complexity and collaboration involved in its own production.

    “Here is an astounding fact,” the pencil proclaims. “Neither the worker in the oil field nor the chemist nor the digger of graphite or clay nor any who mans or makes the ships or trains or trucks nor the one who runs the machine that does the knurling on my bit of metal nor the president of the company performs his singular task because he wants me…Indeed, there are some among this vast multitude who never saw a pencil nor would they know how to use one. Their motivation is other than me.”

    Trade makes unlikely friends — friends who, by creating, contributing, and trading, participate in powerful acts of service and gift-gifting, whether they know it or not. “Millions of human beings have had a hand in my creation,” the pencil writes, “no one of whom even knows more than a very few of the others.”

    Written in 1958, Read’s essay has proven to be a helpful illustration of this reality. And now, in a new pair of videos from VPRO Metropolis, we find yet another.

    In the first video, we witness cocoa growers and harvesters in the Ivory Coast, who, up until now, had never before seen, tasted, nor heard of chocolate, a primary output of their toil. They simply harvested the cocoa fruit and sold the beans to brokers. The rest was mystery. (more…)

    Blog author: jcarter
    posted by on Thursday, July 31, 2014

    “To achieve a moral ecology under which the dignity and solidarity of all peoples can thrive,” says Michal Novak, “we must take small steps, little by little—yet not lose sight of the goal.”

    Caritapolis, the City of Caritas. That is, in effect, how St. Augustine defined The City of God. Obviously, most of the world is not Christian, nor even Western, so a term like Caritapolis is not native to much of humankind. Pope Paul VI and later popes preferred the expression “civilization of love.” That phrase, too, is apt, since even the pagan sage Cicero deemed friendship to be the cohesive inner bond that suffuses cities with trust. In other words, between the deeper, richer Christian view and the secular view there is an analogue. There is an earthy way of coming near to the idea of Caritapolis.

    Read more . . .

    Blog author: jcarter
    posted by on Thursday, July 31, 2014

    France offers Iraq Christians asylum after Mosul threat
    BBC

    The French government says it is ready to offer asylum to Iraqi Christians forced to flee by Islamist militants in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

    The CBO Is Using Enron-Style Accounting On Obamacare
    Ben Domenech, The Federalist

    In the case of Obamacare, the sheer largeness of the measure and its many factors contributed to a higher degree of distrust for the CBO’s assumptions about what would come of Obamacare’s passage.

    The Next “Hobby Lobby”: Mandating IVF Coverage
    John M. Grondelski, Crisis Magazine

    [H]as the New York Times given us a glimpse of Hobby Lobby II? The July 26 issue carries a story whose gist is that government and private insurance does not adequately cover in vitro fertilization (IVF).

    Ryan’s Anti-Poverty Plan Sure Can’t Hurt
    Megan McArdle, Bloomberg

    We do, in fact, spend a lot of our entitlement money on the chronically poor — much more than you would think from hearing these statistics. That’s why Ryan is right to make that sort of relatively intractable poverty the focus of his plan.

    eparulesThe New York Times has a new articled titled “Religious Conservatives Embrace Proposed E.P.A. Rules” that raises the question: are the Times’ editors irredeemably biased or are they just not all that bright?

    Presumably, you have to be smart to work for the Times, right? So it must be another example of what my friend and former Get Religion boss Terry Mattingly calls “Kellerism.” Mattingly coined the term Kellerism in homage to former Times editor Bill Keller, who said that the basic rules of journalism no longer apply to coverage of religious, moral, and cultural issues.

    Unabashed Kellerism can be the only explanation for using a headline about religious conservatives embracing EPA rules on a story in which not a single religious conservative is quoted as supporting the proposed new EPA rules.

    Let’s look at who they try to pass off as “religious conservatives”:
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    Today at The Imaginative Conservative, Fr. Dwight Longenecker, in an excerpt from his recent book, bemoans what he sees as “The Spoiling of America.” While sympathetic to his support for self-discipline, I find his analysis of our consumer culture to be myopic. He writes,

    Without even thinking about it we have gotten used to having it our way. Because excellent customer service is ubiquitous we believe it must be part of the natural order. The service in the restaurant is always friendly, efficient and courteous to a fault. The menus are perfectly written and professionally designed not only to inform, but to whet the appetite in a pleasing way. The re-fills on your drink are free, the food is tasty and reasonably priced, the decor is interesting and the ambiance carefully constructed. Is there a complaint? The footman-server will take the blame, the butler-manager will offer you a free dessert and quietly slip you a gift card to soften the price of your next visit as the porter opens the door.

    The same delightful experience awaits you at the big box hardware store, the supermarket, the appliances store and every other major chain. Indeed, even the doctors, nurses and dentists have been trained in customer care. Communications with the customer are superb. You will receive thank you emails and polite enquiries about your experience. If you fill in a questionnaire you might win a free vacation or a hamper of other goodies. Pampering you further is not a nuisance. It becomes an exciting little game in which you might win a prize, for remember the customer is king and Everyman in America must be coddled and cuddled in one big Fantasyland where everything is wonderful all the time and everybody is always happy.

    Longenecker reasons that we become addicted to fleeting pleasures and that this consumerist mentality has even corrupted religion. He continues, (more…)

    Christian churches in the West have been focused on redistribution of income rather than the creation of wealth, says Brian Griffiths in this week’s Acton Commentary.

    Through much of the post-war period in the West, the formation of economic policy was dominated by Keynesian activism on the part of governments seeking an increasing role in providing public services, reducing material poverty, and reshaping income redistribution.

    In the United States, President John F. Kennedy launched the New Frontier program and his successor, President Lyndon Johnson, soon after embarked on what came to be called the Great Society. In both cases, emphasis was placed on increasing the role of the state in order to solve problems of poverty and destitution. In intellectual terms, the economist John Kenneth Galbraith made the case for trade unions and government becoming “countervailing powers” in capitalist economies in order to check the power of large corporations. In Britain, Harold Wilson nationalized various industries, developed a national plan, a comprehensive prices and incomes policy, and extended the scope of the welfare state. Across the Channel and Rhine, the Social Democrat Willy Brandt was a major influence in extending the role of government in social policy throughout West Germany.

    The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.