shadyBy giving us the ability to buy and sell, says Wayne Grudem, God has given us a wonderful mechanism through which we can do good for each other.

Buying and selling are activities unique to human beings out of all the creatures that God made. Rabbits and squirrels, dogs and cats, elephants and giraffes know nothing of this activity. Through buying and selling God has given us a wonderful means to bring glory to him.

We can imitate God’s attributes each time we buy and sell, if we practice honesty, faithfulness to our commitments, fairness, and freedom of choice. Moreover, commercial transactions provide many opportunities for personal interaction, as when I realize that I am buying not just from a store but from a person, to whom I should show kindness and God’s grace. In fact, every business transaction is an opportunity for us to be fair and truthful and thus to obey Jesus’ teaching: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:12).

Read more . . .

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, October 27, 2014
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Religious Sanctimony in Ferguson
Mark Tooley, The American Spectator

How nice of them to offer forgiveness to police they’ve already convicted.

Criminalizing the Hands That Feed the Homeless
Matt Schiavenza, The Atlantic

More cities are trying to stop residents and food pantries from helping people secure a hot meal.

Shock! Farm Bill Boondoggle Already Bigger than Politicians, Media Promised
Scott Lincicome, The Federalist

You’ll never believe it, you guys. The 2014 Farm Bill could – and I know, this is gonna sound crazy – impose more harm on US taxpayers and consumers than our political and media elite promised us just a few months ago.

Three Views: Do the Common Core Education Standards Endanger Religious Freedom?
Kevin Theriot, Karen Swallow Prior, Kristen Blair, Christianity Today

Why a nationwide standard for classrooms may cause concern.

HitchingPost2_tnWhat is the Idaho wedding chapel story all about?

Same-sex marriage became legal in the state of Idaho earlier this month after a federal court ruled in the case of Latta v. Otter that the state’s statutes and constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. This ruling affected an anti-discrimination ordinance in the city of Coeur d’Alene, which was enacted last year to cover “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” (Since there is currently no similar state or federal non-discrimination laws, the requirement only applies in Coeur d’Alene or other Idaho cities with similar ordinances.)

Donald and Evelyn Knapp, two ordained Pentecostal ministers who run the for-profit Hitching Post Wedding Chapel, asked the city for clarification on how the change in the law would affect their business. The city attorney told them they were now required to perform same-sex ceremonies or face months in jail and/or thousands of dollars in fines.

How did the ministers respond?

Both ministers claim that performing perform wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples goes against their religious beliefs. So on behalf of the couple, attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom filed a federal lawsuit and a motion for a temporary restraining order last Friday to stop city officials from forcing the ministers from being forced to violate their conscience or give up their business.

Is it true, as same outlets have claimed, that the Knapps were arrested for their views?
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Reading-nook-4-480x367It’s no secret that I, like all good perfectionists, love a good list. And this is a good one: Paul Handley at Church Times gives us the 100 best Christian books. Of course, like any good list, we can debate the merits of inclusion and exclusion (that’s part of the fun of a good list!) but certainly, for any serious Christian, this offers great food for thought.

Just to get whet your literary appetite, here are the top ten: (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, October 24, 2014
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Russian monks set up mozzarella factory amid Putin’s Italian food ban
The Independent

Monks living in a remote monastery on an island in Russia have set up a mozzarella factory to supply the country with the cheese after Vladimir Putin’s government banned the import of Italian food.

USAID Shows Commitment to Democracy by Covering Up Failures
Walter Russell Mead, The American Interest

It’s long been clear that the U.S. Agency for International Development’s “pro-democracy” spending in many countries in the wider Middle East has been a boondoggle and a flop. Now it turns out that the agency’s acting Inspector General tried to cover that failure up.

It’s time for Americans to stop giving their junk to the poor
Kristen Welch, Quarz

Why do we give others—often those in service to the poor or the poor themselves—something we wouldn’t keep or give ourselves?

Five Factors Impacting Poverty Today
Anne Bradley, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

Flourishing requires faithfulness. We’re designed to be in relationship with our Creator, and marriage mirrors this intimacy. On a more mundane level, marriage allows a couple to share the burdens of daily life and of raising children.

abortion-is-not-healthcareRemember the Hobby Lobby case when the Supreme Court ruled that an employer could not be required to provide employees with certain types of abortifacients if it was against their religious beliefs? Remember also how some people complained that such exemptions in health care plans should be allowed only for churches and religious ministries?

Apparently, the state government of California thinks that both of those claims are absurd. They think that every employer — including churches — should be required to pay for elective surgical abortions.

In August, California’s Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) began sending notices to health insurance companies notifying them that they were required to cover the cost of abortions. The only exception allowed was that a health plan is not required to pay for abortions of a “viable fetus,” i.e., if there is a “reasonable likelihood of the fetus’ sustained survival outside the uterus without the application of extraordinary medical measures.” There were no exemptions for organizations that might have a religious belief that forbids them from even indirectly paying for abortions. Even a pro-life group dedicated to opposing abortion would be required to cover abortions in the healthcare policies provided to their employees.
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parents-fighting-over-child1I’ll say it again: surrogacy is a bad idea. It’s bad for the child, it’s bad for women, it’s bad for families. Even when everything goes “well,” it’s still a situation where a woman has been used for rental of her womb for 9 months. Using a fellow human being’s body because you want something is wrong, even if you pay them.

Tennessee’s state Supreme Court is trying to untangle a knotted mess of surrogacy nonsense – which is made all the more horrible because this isn’t simply a point of law: it’s about a baby. Here are the not-so-simple facts:

Unmarried Italian citizens—”L.G.” the “intended mother,” and “A.T.” the “intended father,” paid more than $73,000 to pay for “expenses” and “pain and suffering” to “J.J.E.,” the surrogate. She agreed to be artificially inseminated with A.T.’s sperm, to gestate any babies conceived, and then surrender the child and her parental rights to the intended parents. In other words, the baby would be the biological child of the intended father and the surrogate mother. In Tennessee such contracts are called “traditional surrogacy,” in contrast to circumstances in which the surrogate mother is not biologically related to the baby to which she gives birth, which is known as a “gestational surrogacy.” (more…)

4669122802_1eb4ba97de_zTeaching our children about the value and virtues of hard work and sound stewardship is an important part of parenting, and in a privileged age where opportunity and prosperity sometimes come rather easily, such lessons can be hard to come by.

In an effort to instill such virtues in my own young children, I’ve taken to a variety of methods, from stories to chores to games, and so on. But one such avenue that’s proven particularly effective has been taking in Walt Disney’s Silly Symphonies, a remarkably artistic set of 75 animated shorts produced from 1929 to 1939.

Spun from a mix of myths, fables, fairy tales, nursery rhymes, and original stories, the cartoons evolved from simple, musical cartoons to cohesive tales that offer ethical lessons. Although the whole series is well worth taking in, I’ve provided highlights of 8 particular cartoons that have struck me as quite powerful. Each offers a splendid mix of humor and artistry that you’d be hard pressed to find in today’s cartoons, but they also offer healthy prods to the imagination when it comes to how we approach work, wealth, and stewardship.

1. Beware of Short-Term Solutions — Three Little Pigs (1933)

Perhaps the most famous of the series, “Three Little Pigs” went on to win numerous awards and spur several off-shoot shorts. Unlike the traditional tale, it avoids the deaths of pigs 1 and 2, yet it still offers the same striking parallels to Jesus’ parable of the wise and the foolish builders. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, October 23, 2014
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cavemaneconomicsFor a country that talks incessantly about “the economy”, a surprisingly large number of Americans are confused about how an economy actually functions. To help close that educational gap, Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Productions and documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock’s Cinelan have produced a series of 20 short films that explain economic issues.

“At its core, the vision of this project is to fuse artistry and storytelling with economic expertise to engage the public in a truly informed dialogue about the U.S. economy,” Carole Tomko, general manager and creative director of Vulcan, told Entertainment Weekly. “This esteemed group of artists and thinkers galvanizes our mission of bringing innovation to the public discourse about the economy, and empowering people to make better economic choices in their own lives.”

The first film in the series — “Cave-o-Nomics” — provides an effective, albeit rudimentary, introduction to how a market economy works. (I’d recommend the video as a tool for parents trying to explain the market to their kids.)
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Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, October 23, 2014
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Religious Liberty and the Bullies
Jim Tonkowich, Juicy Ecumenism

I strongly suspect that “overbroad, unduly burdensome, harassing, and vexatious” is just what those demands were intended to be with a great big side order of intimidating.

Hong Kong has too many poor people to allow direct elections, leader says
Heather Timmons, Quartz

Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement protesters have been demanding that the city’s top official, CY Leung, step down for weeks now. They may soon be joined by many more of the city’s 7 million residents, after a controversial interview last night in which Leung suggested that election reforms sought by the protestors would invite undue influence from the city’s poor.

Forced labor in America: Thousands of workers are being held against their will
Dara Lind, Vox

There are thousands of immigrants working in forced labor in the United States — lured into the country by false promises and then trapped or threatened by their employers so that they’re unable to leave.

Indiana to Start Requiring Food Stamp Recipients Work, Be in Job Training, Or Job Hunting
Kate Scanlon, The Daily Signal

Next spring, thousands could be cut from Indiana’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Indiana has previously waived the federal requirement that SNAP recipients are either employed, actively seeking employment or in training for future employment.