Category: Christian Social Thought

Blog author: ken.larson
Wednesday, January 7, 2015

I’m not one of those folks who are glued to the tube, but some things on television grab and hold my attention. One is Masterpiece Theatre’s Downton Abbey, that just began its fifth season in the United States this past Sunday night. I was one of millions watching according to trade journal reports. As a promotion to the new season the producers created a supplemental trailer so to speak – oldsters might call it a “double bill” – titled Manners of Downton Abbey. You can see it online here.

The manners as depicted in portrayals of either Victorian or Edwardian England do clash quite abruptly with what most of us encounter and or display in our lives today. In the Manners Special we are allowed to view and listen to the various actors and actresses in the show as they comment with gestures and expressions that coincide with the major contradictions in the behavior they present on screen and the one they live in their private lives. Expressions like stiff formality, odd set of rules, no slouching, sitting up straight, wearing gloves at the dinner table, tend to characterize the dialogue.

Our tour guide for this show is a guy the producers hired at the start to make sure that the actors accurately portray their parts. Alastair Bruce is an “expert on British Royal Ceremony” and has a resume and Royal Order of the British Empire to prove it.

Nearly eight minutes into the Manners Special I heard Mr. Bruce say something that knocked me back. In describing the dining room etiquette he puts things in context with,

They say Grace at the beginning [of the meal] and that makes it the Lord’s table and all the detail and sumptuous display and the manners reflects the struggle they all have to achieve a similarly perfect moral approach to life. An immaculate presentation was a statement of moral correctness to all.

Granted, we do not – I don’t recall, ever – see the Crowley’s or for that matter anyone else actually say Grace in these Downton Abbey episodes. After all, this is public television, not Duck Dynasty. But it is comforting to know that Mr. Bruce has grounded intentions. Something to think about the next time you sit down with the family or have guests for dinner.

23692407_BG1To end the 2014 on an incredibly dehumanizing note, CBS aired an episode of Undercover Boss that stirred up protests from all walks of life. Undercover Boss is usually a wonderful program that allows CEOs to see what is happening on the ground in their companies and reward hard workers accordingly. However, this particular episode profiled Doug Guller, the CEO of Bikinis Sports Bar & Grill, who fired a bartender after she decided not to dehumanize herself by wearing a T-shirt instead of a bikini top on television and “rewarded” another employee for her loyalty by promising to pay for her breast enlargement surgery. (See videos below.)

The episode was so bad that Cosmopolitan released as scathing review saying, “what’s also crazy is that CBS aired all this as if it were good fun and zany reality TV, not horribly misogynistic workplace discrimination.” Writers like Rebecca Rose observed that Guller “has always been totally tone deaf about the sexism he enthusiastically promotes and frankly seems to enjoy having offending people with his business practices.”

AzpilcuetaCoverCLP Academic has now released On Exchange, a new translation of a key section in Martín de Azpilcueta’s Manual de confesores y penitents, his most influential work.

Originally published in 1549, the section was included as one of four appendices to the Manual, offering commentary on Gregory IX’s prohibition of nautical usury. The release is part of the growing series, Sources in Early Modern Economics, Ethics, and Law.

Azpilcueta (1492-1586), also known as Doctor Navarrus, was a leading canonist and moral theologian of the early modern period. Although On Exchange was meant to provide moral guidance for pastors and penitents, it has drawn the attention of economic historians for its indirect analysis of 16th-century economic realities, including explorations on exchange practices, supply and demand, and the nature of money. As noted in the book’s overview, Azpilcueta’s “account of the fluctuation of the value of money marks a significant development in early modern economic thought.” (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Imagine you were tasked with creating rules for a nation or a civilization and could only choose ten. Which would you choose?

You’d be hard-pressed to find a better list than the Ten Commandments. As Dennis Prager says, “No Document in world history so changed the world for the better as did the Ten Commandments.”

In a new video series, Prager University clarifies what the Ten Commandments means and explains why they are as relevant as ever to our society.

Here are all ten of the five minute videos:

????????????????????????????????????????The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime recently released a report on intentional homicide (see this post for more on that report). Around the world, there were about 475,000 homicide deaths in 2012 and about six million since 2000, making homicide, the report notes, “a more frequent cause of death than all wars combined in this period.”

While the rate of homicides, particularly in the Americas, remains disturbingly high, the fact that they exceed deaths due to war is should be an indirect source of encouragement.

Consider, for instance, that in the twentieth century, there were at least eight wars whose average deaths per year exceeded the current homicide rate:

Blog author: ehilton
Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Martin Luther King, Jr. accepting the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo

Martin Luther King, Jr. accepting the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo

He was 35 years old, and the Civil Rights Act had passed. For almost 10 years, he had been leading the national struggle in the United States for equality for all citizens, but especially blacks. Today, in 1964, Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke these words as he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize:

After contemplation, I conclude that this award which I receive on behalf of that movement is a profound recognition that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time – the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression. Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts. Negroes of the United States, following the people of India, have demonstrated that nonviolence is not sterile passivity, but a powerful moral force which makes for social transformation. Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. If this is to be achieved, man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love. (more…)

online predatorReligious believer or not, most of us agree that we should take care of the downtrodden. We have to feed and care for the homeless, the hurting, those who’ve temporarily hit hard times or those who, for whatever reason, cannot take care of themselves. These are the people who gather at the entrances of soup kitchens, who live atop garbage heaps, who salvage whatever they can for a shelter to call home.

What about those who live in the “cyberslums?” How do we minister to them? (more…)