Parti Québécois and Bernard Drainville, minister of the newly proposed charter, announced yesterday that a new plan would ban overt religious symbols to be worn by “judges, police, prosecutors, public daycare workers, teachers, school employees, hospital workers and municipal personnel.” These symbols would include large crosses or crucifixes, turbans, hijab, and kippas. Smaller jewelry (such as Star of David earrings) would be allowed.
The other night, I sat down with my kids to read one of my favorite Rudyard Kipling poems, “The Camel’s Hump,” a remarkable 19th-century takedown of 21st-century couch-potato culture.
With typical color and wit, Kipling takes aim at idleness, decrying “the hump we get from having too little to do” — “the hump that is black and blue.” Kipling proceeds to elevate labor, noting that hard work refreshes the soul and reinvigorates the spirit: “The cure for this ill is not to sit still / Or frowst with a book by the fire / But to take a large hoe and a shovel also / And dig till you gently perspire.”
The illustrations in my 1949 version of the poem offer additional flair to Kipling’s contrast, aptly showing what can happen, physically and spiritually, if we do or don’t get our hands dirty. But don’t let the boy’s youthfulness fool you: “We all get the hump / Cameelious hump / Kiddies and grown-ups, too!”
[The above pages are taken from Volume 2 of the 1949 Childcraft collection, Storytelling and Other Poems.]
Assault on Christian Town in Syria Adds to Fears Over Rebels
Anne Barnard and Hwaida Saad, New York Times
For Syrian rebels fighting in recent days around the ancient Christian town of Maaloula, any gains made in battle could be wiped out in the war of perceptions.
Conscience Freedoms Denied by Liberal Courts
Anthony Esolen, Crisis Magazine
Two recent court cases illustrate the incoherence and remarkable intolerance of “liberal” views regarding conscience.
The Necessity of Distinguishing Relief and Development
Matt Perman, What’s Best Next
In both cases, the goal is to help the person back to self-sufficiency. But the strategies in each case are different — often profoundly so.
Five Insights About Private Property from Aquinas
Andrew Spencer, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics
Reading church history often provides answers to what appear to be novel questions in our own day (Ecclesiastes 1:9), to support and explain what Scripture teaches. Thomas Aquinas provides a solid argument for private property in his Summa Theologica.
Last week, as the country was remember MLK’s dream of children being judged on the content of their character rather than the color of their skin, Attorney General Eric Holder was suing the state of Louisiana because he’s more worried, as the Wall Street Journal says, about the complexion of the schools’ student body than their manifest failure to educate.
Late last week, Justice asked a federal court to stop 34 school districts in the Pelican State from handing out private-school vouchers so kids can escape failing public schools. Mr. Holder’s lawyers claim the voucher program appears “to impede the desegregation progress” required under federal law. Justice provides little evidence to support this claim, but there couldn’t be a clearer expression of how the civil-rights establishment is locked in a 1950s time warp.
Passed in 2012, Louisiana’s state-wide program guarantees a voucher to students from families with incomes below 250% of poverty and who attend schools graded C or below. The point is to let kids escape the segregation of failed schools, and about 90% of the beneficiaries are black.
During the 2012-13 school year, about 10% of voucher recipients came from 22 districts that remain under desegregation orders from 50 or so years ago.
For example, says the complaint, in several of those 22 districts “the voucher recipients were in the racial minority at the public school they attended before receiving the voucher.” In other words, Justice is claiming that the voucher program may be illegal because minority kids made their failing public schools more white by leaving those schools to go to better private schools.
Peter Greer has spent his life doing good, from serving refugees in the Congo to leading HOPE International, a Christian-based network of microfinance institutions operating in 16 countries around the world. Yet as Greer argues in his latest book, The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good, “service and charity have a dark side.”
Pointing to a study by Fuller Seminary’s Dr. J. Robert Clinton, Greer notes that “only one out of three biblical leaders maintained a dynamic faith that enabled them to avoid abusing their power or doing something harmful to themselves and others.” From King David’s power trip with Bathsheba and Uriah to Jonah’s end-of-life anger and selfishness, the Bible is filled with examples of self-destruction amid service.
“When I looked to Scripture for guidance, what I found troubled me,” Greer writes. “Men and women who had heard from God—who even performed amazing miracles—were just as likely to blow it as everyone else.”
And alas, in all of our discussions about how to best serve our neighbors, how often do we focus on surface-level externalities to the neglect of the human heart? How often do we narrow down our “metrics for success” to exclude any discussion or contemplation about the motivations driving our actions or the potential for pitfalls along the way? (more…)
Reading the 2013 results of proxy shareholder resolutions orchestrated by various leftist organizations affiliated with “religiously” oriented investment groups, a colorfully descriptive phrase came to mind to describe both: Whatever its derivation, useful idiots is employed as “a pejorative term for people perceived as propagandists for a cause whose goals they are not fully aware of, and who are used cynically by the leaders of the cause.”
For the purposes of this post, we’ll grant groups with purported religious and socially conscious authority such as Walden Asset Management, Trillium Asset Management, As You Sow and the Interfaith Council on Corporate Responsibility the benefit of the doubt. We’re not questioning the quality of their faith or the depth of their social concern. But their political agitation is fair game for a thorough critique. And it is clear that these groups have a major blind spot when it comes to financier George Soros. Soros, one may recall, is the Hungarian-born multibillionaire responsible for funding radical leftist causes, including the Center for Political Accountability, Common Cause, Media Matters, Planned Parenthood and ACORN and various and other sullied causes. The man, it should be noted, also amasses vast wealth by, in part, heavily investing in the energy sector.
It is the Center for Political Accountability, however, upon which I focus today. As noted previously, CPA’s Bruce Freed authored many of the shareholder resolutions introduced by faith-based activist shareholders gathered together to quiet corporate political speech as well as derail profits and place expensive speed bumps in the paths of companies in direct competition with Soros’ financial interests. Doubt it? Herewith from Ceres’ website:
Investors achieved noteworthy victories during this year’s shareholder proxy season, with a near record 110 shareholder resolutions filed with 94 U.S. companies on hydraulic fracturing, flaring, fossil fuel reserve risks and other climate – and sustainability – related risks and opportunities….
Filers of the resolutions include some of the nation’s largest public pension funds, such as the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) and the New York State and New York City Comptrollers’ Offices; socially responsible investors such as Green Century Capital Management and Trillium Asset Management; and religious, labor and other institutional investors, who collectively manage more than $500 billion in assets.
With a bit of breathless excitement (“a progressive theological current“), there is news in Rome that Pope Francis is welcoming liberation theology back into the Vatican. On Sunday, Sept. 8, the Vatican announced a meeting between the pope and Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Mueller has co-authored a book with Gustavo Gutierrez, a Peruvian who is considered the founder of liberation theology, and the two will present the book to Pope Francis.
Liberation theology came out of Latin America in the 1960s and 1970s, emphasizing a preferential option for the poor, but with strong ties to Marxist ideals as well. In 1984, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) noted that liberation theology began with the premise that all other theologies were no longer sufficient, and a new “spiritual orientation” was needed. Further, Cardinal Ratzinger said of this theology,
The idea of a turning to the world, of responsibility for the world, frequently deteriorated into a naive belief in science which accepted the human sciences as a new gospel without wanting to see their limitations and endemic problems. Psychology, sociology and the marxist interpretation of history seemed to be scientifically established and hence to become unquestionable arbiters of Christian thought.
Since they can have religious purposes, churches, charities, and parochial school all have legitimate — and legally recognized — claims to religious liberty. Why then, asks legal scholar Jonathan H. Adler, could for-profit corporations not also have religious purposes?
An individual sole proprietor — of, say, a kosher deli, to use Will’s example — would clearly be able to press a religious liberty claim, whether or not she hopes the deli will make her rich (and whether or not she commits to donate her earnings to a religious charity). Does this individual lose such rights if she incorporated? Does that somehow make her religious motivations any less sincere? Any less judicially cognizable? I can’t see how. What, then, if the deli owner formed a partnership with her equally devout brother? Would that matter? And, again, if an informal partnership would be okay, why would the adoption of a corporate form and limited liability matter?
The consequence of the “no religious liberty for corporations” position is that individuals who would like to go into business are penalized if they seek to go into business without any potential recourse, under RFRA or otherwise. The choice presented by the state is go into business or stay true to your religious beliefs. Although I suggested otherwise before, it seems to me this approach imposes a substantial burden on the exercise of religion. Whether this burden can be justified in a given case is a separate question, but the burden is there
At Houston lecture, Scalia explores Christian virtues and economic systems
Cindy George, Houston Chronicle
“While I would not argue that capitalism as an economic system is inherently more Christian than socialism … it does seem to me that capitalism is more dependent on Christianity than socialism is.”
Australia has ditched an incompetent Anglican for a Roman Catholic of promise
Archbishop Cranmer, Cranmer
Not even casting his vote in St Paul’s Anglican Church, Brisbane, could save the dishonoured and dishonourable Kevin Rudd from the wrath of the people – the ultimate judgment in the democratic fray.
The Last Stand: The Fight of State Attorneys General to Preserve Federalism
Hans von Spakovsky, The Foundry
These four state AGs, along with a number of others, are fighting back by vigorously contesting the national government’s invasion of state sovereignty in legal fights involving energy, health care, the environment, voting and elections, religious liberty, labor relations, and financial transactions.
Why We Should Respect Someone Else’s Conscience
Anthony Esolen, Crisis Magazine
These days in our political and even ecclesiastical battles we hear a great deal about the primacy of the conscience, but almost nothing about what the conscience is and why we should care, not about our own conscience, but about someone else’s.
As Congress decides whether to commit the U.S. to another war in the Middle East, Democratic Representative Charles Rangel of New York is proposing — yet again — that Congress reinstate the military draft. Rep. Rangel, a decorated veteran of the Korean War and the third-longest-serving member of Congress, has proposed reinstating the draft about a half dozen times over the past decade.
After he proposed the legislation in 2004, Congressional Republicans called his bluff and Rangel voted against his own bill. Rangel has never been accused of being a man of principle, but at least he has his priorities straight. “This is hypocrisy of the worst kind,” Rangel said. “I would not encourage any Democrat running for re-election to vote for this bill.”
Despite his theatrics, Rangel doesn’t really want to return a return to military conscription. And he’s not alone. While there are numerous reasons we aren’t likely to see a return to non-volunteer service, the main one is that almost no one wants to reinstate the useless relic.
In fact, there is only one group that likes the idea of conscription less than future draft dodgers: the current all-volunteer military. A draft would have such a detrimental affect on military readiness that the Pentagon would only consider the idea as an absolute last resort. The problems and headaches that came over the past decade with the mobilization of the reserve units would only be compounded exponentially by using untrained and unmotivated conscripts.
More importantly, though, a draft should only even be considered an option of last resort — and perhaps not even then.