Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
By

Climate Change Costs By 2100: Doing Nothing Has the Same Price Tag as Doing Something
Ronald Bailey, Reason

Adapting to climate change would cost roughly the same as trying to slow it.

5 Reasons Your Church Should Care about Hunger
Jill Waggoner, Pastors Today

For many Christians, the concept of hunger ministry brings to mind a governmental agency or a local food pantry. Yet the hunger need around the world is diverse and the ministries required to meet these needs will be also.

What Does Liberty Really Mean for Christians?
Jim Tonkowich, Juicy Ecumenism

Both people on the right and people on the left “alike seem confused about what liberty and progress really mean and require,” writes Ethics and Public Policy scholar, Yuval Levin in the October First Things.

How Serious Is the Supreme Court About Religious Freedom?
Dawinder S. Sidhu, The Atlantic

A new case will test whether the justices’ defense of conscience in Hobby Lobby applies to minority religions like Muslims, or just to Christians.

baby-boomersIn the nineteenth century, fertility in Europe began to drop — and it never rose again. Of all the explanations given for the change (e.g., increase in birth control technology), there is one that is often overlooked: public pension systems.

Does knowing you’ll get a social security check at 70 limit the number of children you have in your 30s? Most people would say it wouldn’t (or, at least, shouldn’t). But a new study finds that in the past there is a strong correlation between state-provided pensions and fertility. The working paper produced by the European Central Bank finds,
(more…)

In progressive ideology, liberal billionaires are like a cardigan-wearing Mr. Rogers, inviting the rest of the world to the Land of Make Believe for a cup of nonfat, organic, free-trade cocoa. On the other end of the spectrum reside the Koch brothers, twirling their respective mustaches as they push wheelchair-bound pensioners down flights of stairs. Such increasingly has been the narrative since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010, a controversial (for progressives) ruling that launched activism to overturn it from every left-of-center group, including religious shareholder activists As You Sow, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility and Bruce Freed’s Center for Political Accountability.

On September 24, Freed’s group released its annual CPA-Zicklin Index, about which it trumpets:

On their own initiative, dozens of leading American corporations are embracing disclosure of their spending to influence political elections. These companies are supporting disclosure even as several of the biggest trade associations oppose it, according to a nonpartisan index released today.

As the nation approaches mid-term elections that may be the most expensive in history, the Center for Political Accountability issued its fourth annual CPA-Zicklin Index of Corporate Political Disclosure and Accountability.

(more…)

Pope Francis meets with representatives of Albania’s Muslim, Orthodox and Catholic communities, at the Catholic University “Our Lady of Good Counsel” in Tirana, Albania

Pope Francis meets with representatives of Albania’s Muslim, Orthodox and Catholic communities, at the Catholic University “Our Lady of Good Counsel” in Tirana, Albania

Last Wednesday, Pope Francis spoke about his Apostolic Journey to Albania on September 21. He stated first why he wished to visit this country, highlighting the Albanians ability to peacefully co-exist in a nation with two strong religious factions.

This visit was born of my desire to go to a country which, after long being oppressed by an atheist and inhuman regime, is living the experience of peaceful coexistence among the country’s different religious components. I felt it was important to encourage it on this path, that it may continue with tenacity to evaluate all the implications for the benefit of the common good. For this reason the Journey had at its centre an interreligious meeting where I was able to observe, with great satisfaction, that the peaceful and fruitful coexistence between persons and communities of believers of different religions is not only desirable, but possible and realistic. They are putting it into practice! This entails an authentic and fruitful dialogue which spurns relativism and takes the identity of each one into account. What the various religious expressions have in common is, indeed, life’s journey, the good will to do good to one’s neighbour, without denying or diminishing their respective identity.

(more…)

exileStephen Grabill and Evan Koons recently joined John Stonestreet on BreakPoint to discuss For the Life of the World: Letters to the Exiles, the latest film series from the Acton Institute.

You can listen to the full discussion here.

The conversation covers a range of topics surrounding the series, but focuses mostly on the central theme of life in exile: How ought we as Christians to think about our role in culture and society, and what does the series aim to uncover when it comes to that question?

As Grabill explains:

Exile, in the Old Testament was God’s judgment on the nation of Israel for not doing something or being something that they were called to be. In the New Testament, exile is more a state of being. It’s more like being a sojourner and a pilgrim. And you’re kind of always on the way, in between. And that’s the sense of exile that we’re really building on in For the Life of the World—that sense of that new state of being. And Christians are feeling like they’re on the outside of their culture right now. Everything is changing and things are getting all messed up. We want to capture that sense of tension and exile, but we want to take it in a…constructive way.

(more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
By

There are dirty political games behind the Iraq conflict, says Chaldean Patriarch Sako
Gianni Valente, Vatican Insider

“There’s no future for us if the Lord does not help us.” There’s suffering and concern in Louis Raphaël I Sako’s words. The concern of a pastor who sees that his flock is in danger and the suffering of a child of the Chaldean Church who sees Christianity’s age-long history quickly heading towards oblivion. A history that has irrigated the lands between Mesopotamia’s two rivers for millennia. And it is not just the Islamic State’s bloodthirsty jihadists he is concerned about.

Spontaneous Charity Is Good; Thoughtful Charity Is Even Better
Jayme Metzgar, The Federalist

What’s better than the Ice Bucket Challenge? These six steps for thoughtful charity giving.

This map shows where slavery and forced labor are happening around the world
James Pethokoukis , AEI Ideas

An estimated ~21-30m people are in slavery around the world, including forced labour, bonded labour, human trafficking and child slavery.

Business and Conscience
Greg Forster, First Things

The president has discovered that businesses are people, and have a conscience.

Thomas-Piketty-014Thomas Piketty’s new book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, has created quite the stir, and with its overwhelming size (700 pages) and corresponding array of commentaries and critiques, it’s tough to know where to start.

Cutting through such noise, Russ Roberts provides his usual service on EconTalk, chatting one-on-one with Piketty about the key themes, strengths, and weaknesses of the book. The interview is just over an hour, and I encourage you to listen to the whole thing.

Piketty lays out his argument quite concisely in the beginning, followed by a fruitful back-and-forth led by Roberts. For those who aren’t aware, the book chronicles a recent rise in economic inequality, wherein, by Piketty’s account, wealthy elites sit on their stashes while those at the bottom increasingly struggle to keep pace. His solution: Tax, baby, tax.

In response to such an approach, there are many areas to poke and prod, but Roberts zeroes in on one of the more fundamental and overarching questions: What about those who accumulate their wealth by helping those at “the bottom”?  (more…)

gb_pamphlet2An estimated 10 million American households — about 8 percent of all households — are “unbanked” and one in five households — 24 million households with 51 million adults — are “underbanked.” These are households which don’t have accounts at banks and other mainstream financial institutions and use cash for most of their transactions. As a result, notes the FDIC, these “cash consumers pay excessive fees for basic financial services, are susceptible to high-cost predatory lenders, or have difficulties buying a home or otherwise acquiring assets.”

The highest unbanked and underbanked rates are found among non-Asian minorities, lower-income households, younger households, and unemployed households. Close to half of all households in these groups are unbanked or underbanked compared to slightly more than one-quarter of all households.

One of the most common reasons people have for avoiding checking accounts is overdraft fees. If you write a $10 check and it “bounces” (fails to clear because of lack of funds) most banks will charge you a $35 per transaction fee. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the average overdraft fees paid per bank customer was $225. If you make less than $20,000 a year, you can easily find yourself paying one percent of your annual salary on overdraft fees alone.
(more…)

Some feminists will tell you: it’s tough being a woman. We don’t have enough choices. We don’t get paid enough. There’s glass ceilings and sexist stereotypes. Women, arise and unite!

Maybe not. “Hysteria and hype,” says the American Enterprise Institute’s Christina Hoff Sommers. She examines radical feminism vs. truth. Guess which wins?

RaceSaveCentury-finalforrealthistimeWe are only 14 years into this century, and things are grim…but not hopeless. That’s the message of the book, The Race to Save Our Century: Five Principles to Promote Peace, Freedom and a Culture of Life. The book is a collaboration between Jason Scott Jones and John Zmirak. Jones is a human-rights activist and filmmaker (his works include Bella and Crescendo.) Zmirak is a prolific author, known best for his theologically accurate but tongue-in-cheek books on Catholicism, such as The Bad Catholic’s Guide to the Catechism: A Faithful, Fun-Loving Look at Catholic Dogmas, Doctrines, and Schmoctrines.

The Race to Save Our Century is a slim volume, but not a quick read. There is much to mull over here. With chapters like “Total War” and “Utopian Collectivism,” it’s best to take this book slowly. You don’t want to miss any of the good stuff. (more…)