Wall-E1Humans have a tendency to daydream about a day or a place where work is no more, whether it be a retirement home on a golf course or a utopian society filled with leisure and merriment.

But is a world without work all that desirable?

In a recent lecture at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, the question is explored by Dr. Hunter Baker, winner of the Acton Institute’s 2011 Novak Award and author, most recently, of The System Has a Soul: Essays on Christianity, Liberty, and Political Life.

Countering the cultural priorities and pressures of the day, Baker outlines a robust Christian vision of work and the economy, drawing on thinkers such as Wilhelm Röpke and Lester DeKoster, as well as science fiction fixtures such as WALL-E, 1984, and Beggars in Spain.

“Work is a gift from God, not a curse,” says Baker. “…The science fiction dreams of human beings released from all labor should probably better be seen as nightmares…We are made to continually be in fellowship with one another, working, creating value, giving, receiving. This is who God has made us to be.” (more…)

Southwark Cathedral

Southwark Cathedral

Acton Institute Director of Research, Samuel Gregg, wrote a piece for The Catholic World Report yesterday talking about Catholics in an age of secular moralism.  Often times, Catholics fall into a trap of reducing their faith to various political, economic, and social agendas, losing sight of what is at the core of true Catholicism.  This is what Gregg calls secular moralism. Gregg explains this “new morality:”

Moralism, however, isn’t limited to the Christian realm. It has many secular counterparts. Prominent among these is morality’s reduction to my voracious support for particular causes. “I am a good person because I favor environmentalism, socialism, liberalism, unions, business, el pueblo, refugees, feminism, the United Nations, pacifism, an end to air-conditioning, nuclear disarmament, etc.”

In this world, other peoples’ badness is determined by the fact that they don’t identify with, or have significant reservations about, for example, the contemporary environmental movement, the European Union, or some of the absurd claims made today under the rubric of human rights. Such individuals are relegated to the outer realms of acceptability and assigned a label. This usually involves words like “hater” or the suffix “phobic.”

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As I note every month when reporting on the latest unemployment data, jobs are one of the most important aspects of a morally functioning economy. They help us serve the needs of our neighbors and lead to human flourishing both for the individual and for communities. Conversely, not having a job can adversely affect spiritual and psychological well-being of individuals and families.

In fact, a new study finds that for marriages formed after 1975, a husbands’ lack of full-time employment is associated with higher risk of divorce:
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Blog author: jcarter
Monday, September 26, 2016
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Why Moscow’s most iconic church used to be a swimming pool
Marius Mortsiefer and Kerstin Pelzer, DW

The Soviets blew up Moscow’s once majestic Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Now, its golden cupolas shine again in Moscow. Along the way, it was a site for prestigious communist projects – like a massive swimming pool.

A Christian Declaration on American Foreign Policy
The Editors, Providence

Thoughtful Christians who take seriously the roles assigned by God to the church and the state, and who value the equal importance of justice and ordered liberty, should not be silent in the face of this shift.

Religious Persecution in the West: How Bad Will it Get?
Lea Singh, The Imaginative Conservative

Our future may not be like Nazi Germany. Or like Communism, or like Jacobin France. Our future oppressive regime will probably have a new face…but an old body. Dictatorships have come and gone throughout history, and each remake of that same old song is also a bit different from all the rest.

How unemployment can affect marriage
Danielle Braff, Chicago Tribune

Juggling work and family life is a struggle for many couples, but it can be a particular problem if one of the partners feels that the other isn’t contributing enough workwise.

How should Christians address predatory lending that takes advantage of the poor when they are in dire straits? As I’ve argued before, I believe a helpful first step is to get churches and other faith-based organizations involved in providing short-term loans and financial counseling. But sometimes education and sacrificial generosity is not enough to solve the problem, and communities have to pursue other measures.

A prime example is found in Texas where several groups—including an alliance of Baptists and Catholics—worked to defend the poor against the payday loan industry. Deidox Films produced The Ordinance—a documentary which you can watch in its entirety below—that shows what can happen when churches, nonprofits, and individuals join together to protect the vulnerable.

Today at The Federalist, Acton associate editor Sarah Stanley penned an article profiling an artist from North Korea who goes by the name of Sun Mu. This profile is inspired by a recent documentary that highlights the life of the artist. Sun Mu defected from the oppressive state in the late 1990s and since then has been creating art that depicts the story of his life in North Korea.  In order to protect his family, Sun Mu can’t use his real name.  Stanley explains:

The most extraordinary thing about him is that the audience for his art mostly doesn’t know what he looks like, or what his real name is. Sun Mu still has family in North Korea, so he never shows his face in public. His real identity is a closely guarded secret. He insists hiding in plain sight is not a form of thrill-seeking. He puts himself in real danger simply because he was “destined” to become Sun Mu (a phrase meaning “no boundaries”).

When Sun Mu first defected from North Korea he made his way to China where he was first exposed to a society other than the tyrannical state of his home country. Stanley explains his experience:

The most surprising thing he noticed when he arrived in China was the lights. “The glittering lights,” Sun Mu says. “Plastic bags blowing in the winds. Is this rotten capitalism? Is this the rotten capitalism the North has been talking about? Why are so many lights on?” He even began to wonder if he was hallucinating. There couldn’t be that many working lights glittering all over. For at least a decade after he defected, he continued to believe the lies perpetuated by Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong Il, propaganda that said capitalism made other countries worse.

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Blog author: jcarter
Friday, September 23, 2016
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Protectionism Is Theft Wrapped in Flags
Donald J. Boudreaux, FEE

Buyers will not bind themselves in this way in exchange for nothing.

Clinton’s anti-poverty plan
Angela Rachidi, AEI Ideas

One can’t help but think that Clinton missed an opportunity here. She failed to outline a vision for reducing poverty, preferring instead to lay out a few specific policy proposals that are popular with her core supporters, but won’t likely reduce poverty much.

Are these the last days of free trade?
Robert J. Samuelson, Washington Post

Guess what? A President Trump could adopt his new trade agenda without any authorization from Congress — and this could trigger a global trade war and a deep U.S. recession. Policies that promise to make us stronger economically could do the opposite.

Report Reveals Public Support for School Reform, Disdain for Common Core
Evan Smith, Opportunity Lives

The report highlights how school reform remains very popular in the United States, with support for charter schools, merit pay for teachers and teacher tenure reform on the rise.