For the fourth time in thirty years, well-intentioned but misguided musicians have recorded a new version of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?,” a cheesy Christmas song intended to raise awareness and funds for Africa.

But why don’t Africans every raise awareness and aid for Westerners? Fortunately, one group of Africans has united to save Norwegians from dying of frostbite. By joining Radi-Aid, you too can donate your radiator and spread some warmth in the frozen wasteland of Norway.

Why Africa for Norway?
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Almost twenty years ago I learned an important lesson in Christian ethics from a Jewish writer. In his book, Think a Second Time, Dennis Prager explains a principle from the Talmud about consumer ethics. While I had read several book about business ethics, I don’t recall ever hearing much, if anything, about the ethical obligations of consumers.

Prager helped me see not only how the “shopkeeper’s law” should apply to my consumer choices, but also to many of the relationships in my life. This lesson helped me to understand a practical way of applying the most important principle in Christian ethics (Matthew 7:12).

In the video below, Prager explains the concept and how it shows “the customer isn’t always right.”

Christianity sets forth that humans are made in the image of God — that we have particular God-like characteristics when it comes to creation, cultivation, compassion, relationship, and so on. Such a remarkable truth tells us something deeply profound about the world we live in, as well as how we ought to respond in any number of situations.

In an excerpted video from the PovertyCure series, John Stonestreet explains how the Christian worldview transforms our approach to poverty:

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Roberty P. Murphy at the 2014 Acton Lecture Series

Roberty P. Murphy at the 2014 Acton Lecture Series

On this edition of Radio Free Acton, we talk about sound money with economist and author Robert P. Murphy. What is money? Why does it have value? What happens when a government detaches the value of money from gold or other commodities? We look at these questions, find out what our dollars are really worth, and look at ways to restore the value of our money.

You’ll recall that Murphy was a guest of Acton a few weeks ago and delivered an address as part of the 2014 Acton Lecture Series. You can check out the video of his talk at that link, and listen to the Radio Free Acton podcast via the audio player below.

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
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Erdoğan: Disbelief in Muslim discovery of America lack of self-esteem
Today’s Zaman

“Islam had expanded to the American continent before Columbus arrived,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said.

Clerical Freedom and Academic Freedom
Anthony Esolen, Crisis Magazine

It’s odd to think that all those boys died at Normandy and Iwo Jima so that men of God could have their sermons confiscated by the government, lest they dare to preach against ambiguous bathrooms.

How the War on Poverty Has Hurt American Marriage Rates
Robert Rector, The Daily Signal

It is no accident that the collapse of marriage in America largely began with the War on Poverty and the proliferation of means-tested welfare programs that it fostered.

Why Christianity and the Middle Class Are Both in Decline
Dave Albertson, OnFaith

As the middle class goes, so goes the church.

The Vatican is currently hosting a three-day inter-faith conference and discussion entitled Humanum. According to their website, it is

… a gathering of leaders and scholars from many religions across the globe, to examine and propose anew the beauty of the relationship between the man and the woman, in order to support and reinvigorate marriage and family life for the flourishing of human society.

Witnesses will draw from
 the wisdom of their religious tradition and cultural experience as they attest to the power and vitality of the complementary union of man and woman. It is hoped that the colloquium be a catalyst for creative language and projects, as well as for global solidarity, in the work
 of strengthening the nuptial relationship, both for the good of the spouses themselves and for the good of all who depend upon them.

One of the focal points of this gathering is a beautiful set of videos, each centered on a particular aspect of love, marriage, family and commitment. The video below allows young people to voice their concerns and ideas regarding these issues. (Unless you’re a polyglot, you’ll want your closed captioning turned on; just hit the little “CC” button in the lower right of the frame.)

prison reformThe numbers are discouraging: 1 in 28 American children has at least one parent in prison. Even though crime rates have dropped, our prison population has quadrupled; there are now about 2.4 million adults behind bars. It is costing us $80 billion a year to maintain our prison system. At one point, society thought that prison was about reform. We’ve all but dropped any pretense of reform; we’re just warehousing people.

Can we fix this?

One organization is trying. Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) would like to see changes in harsh mandatory minimum sentencing laws, many of which involve drug cases.

In 1990, Julie Stewart was public affairs director at the Cato Institute when she first learned of mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Her brother had been arrested for growing marijuana in Washington State, had pled guilty, and — though this was his first offense — had been sentenced to five years in federal prison without parole. The judge criticized the punishment as too harsh, but the mandatory minimum law left him no choice.

Motivated by her own family’s experience, Julie created Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) in 1991. Though her brother has long since left prison, has a beautiful family and a good job, Julie continues to lead FAMM in the fight for punishments that fit the crime and the offender.

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jerusalem-synagogue-attackWhat just happened in Jerusalem?

Two Palestinian men armed with axes, meat cleavers, and a pistol, entered a synagogue complex in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of West Jerusalem on Tuesday morning and killed four rabbis, one from the UK and three from United States (all had dual-citizenship in Israel). Israeli police killed the assailants in a gun battle that critically wounded one officer. 

According to the New York Times, relatives identified the attackers as two cousins, Odai Abed Abu Jamal, 22, and Ghassan Muhammad Abu Jamal, 32.

What was the motive for the attack?

According to the relatives of the killers, they were motivated by what they saw as threats to the revered plateau that contains al-Haram al-Sharif (known to Jews as the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism) and the al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam.

Orthodox Jewish campaigners in Israel have increasingly been challenging the long-standing ban on Jews praying at the Temple Mount. Since the Crusades, the Muslim community of Jerusalem has managed the site.
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Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
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Evangelicals Talking With Orthodox
Robert Arakaki, Orthodox-Reformed Bridge

Rev. Graham has been respectful of the Orthodox Church. His goal has been to bring people to faith in Christ, not establish rival Evangelical Churches as an alternative to the historic Russian Orthodox Church.

Two Clashing Orthodox Views of the Past and Future
Terry Mattingly, UExpress

The photo-op on Nov. 7 was symbolic and, for many, historic. The elder statesman was the Rev. Billy Graham, and rather than an evangelical superstar, the man who met with him at his North Carolina mountain home was Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev.

Why The American Founders Cared About Happiness
Robert Curry, The Federalist

‘The pursuit of happiness’ shouldn’t confuse people who study the American founders.

There is No Difference Between Fiscal and “Social” Issues
Mike D’Virgilio, The American Culture

Ever since I became politically and cultural aware some thirty odd years ago(!), there has been a tension among the politically engaged on the right between the more religious who tend to emphasize what are called “social issues,” and the less or irreligious who stress what are called fiscal issues.

It has become a regular occurrence at conservative publications to note the strong correlation between traditional marriage and family and higher income levels. Take, for example, Ari Fleischer, who wrote the following in the Wall Street Journal last June:

If President Obama wants to reduce income inequality, he should focus less on redistributing income and more on fighting a major cause of modern poverty: the breakdown of the family.

He continues, “One of the differences between the haves and the have-nots is that the haves tend to marry and give birth, in that order.”

Despite my traditionalist leanings, I’ve always been a bit skeptical of these sorts of editorials. For example, contrast this with Ben Steverman’s recent article in Bloomberg:

Divorce among 50-somethings has doubled since 1990. One in five adults have never married, up from one in ten 30 years ago. In all, a majority of American adults are now single, government data show, including the mothers of two out of every five newborns.

These trends are often blamed on feminists or gay rights activists or hippies, who’ve somehow found a way to make Americans reject tradition.

But the last several years showed a different powerful force changing families: the economy.

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