Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Monday, July 21, 2014

How Entrepreneurs Practice Their Faith Through Companies
Chris Horst, OnFaith

When religious practice and corporate policy converge.

What’s Happening To Gordon College Is Just The Beginning
Joy Pullmann, The Federalist

There is far more government bullying ahead for every private school, charity, parachurch organization, and even churches.

The Next Religious Liberty Case
David Skeel, Wall Street Journal

After Hobby Lobby, a Christian college asked for a different kind of exemption. Then came the backlash.

Europe Moves to Outlaw Organ Trafficking Worldwide
Matthew Robertson, Epoch Times

An official European representative body has promulgated a new convention outlawing the trafficking in human organs, calling on all countries to become signatories to it and criminalize the practice and punish offenders.

a_560x0Snowpiercer is the most political film of the year. And likely to be one of the most misunderstood.

Snowpiercer is also very weird, which you’d probably expect from a South Korean sci-fi post-apocalyptic action film based on a French graphic novel that stars Chris Evans (Captain America) and Tilda Swinton (The Chronicles of Narnia).

The basic plot of the movie is that in 2014, an experiment to counteract global warming (which is based on a real plan) causes an ice age that kills nearly all life on Earth. The only survivors are the inhabitants of the Snowpiercer, a massive super-luxury train, powered by a perpetual-motion engine, that travels on a globe-spanning track. A class system is installed, with the elites inhabiting the front of the train and the poor inhabiting the tail.

When I say this is a “political” film I mean it in the Platonic sense of an ideal polis based on the best form of government that leads to the common good. Snowpiercer is an extended political fable about the polis, albeit one that includes scenes of hatchet fights between people carrying torches and people wearing night-vision goggles.

Last week, Snowpiercer was released in eight theaters in selected cities and on video-on-demand. Because of the rave critical reviews (it’s currently at 95% approval on Rotten Tomatoes), it’ll like be going into wider release.

If you haven’t seen it yet, lower your expectations. While visually interesting and, at times, thought-provoking, it doesn’t live up to the hype (director Bong Joon-ho’s 2006 monster flick The Host was similarly over-praised).You should also be forewarned that it’s rated R for violence, language, and drug content.

If you have seen it and still wondering what exactly it was about, read on.

Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t seen the movie yet and don’t like spoilers, stop reading now. Seriously. Massive spoilers below. Stop reading now. Don’t say your weren’t warned.

There are two ways to understand Snowpiercer, the right way and the wrong way. Here’s your guide to both:
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Earlier today, Elise Hilton was featured on the Neal Larson Show discussing several facets of the current “Border Crisis” and suggesting how to address this situation.

Listen below:

Read Hilton’s commentary this week comparing our current situation with one 50 years ago in Cuba.

The Transom links today to a piece about how Proctor & Gamble is ramping up product lines aimed at older adults. “The flip side of the low birthrate is we’re all living longer,” said corporate exec Tom Falk.

In fact, the global trend over the last two hundred years has been toward longer lives and fewer babies. This trend really gathered momentum in just the last half-century or so. Consider this short video I put together for a talk at last month’s Acton University.

The two axes correspond to fertility (horizontal) and life expectancy (vertical). So in the bottom right we are having more children and shorter lives, while in the upper left we are having fewer children and living longer. Each of the countries in the world is represented by a circle, whose size is determined by size of population. Each region is also color coded.

What you’ll see as we move forward through the last two centuries is a gradual shift toward the upper left, which turns into a rush after about 1950. There are a few lagging countries in Africa, which still are moving toward the upper left, just a bit more slowly. Watch it again, and note the brief drops in life expectancy corresponding to each of the twentieth-century world wars.

Where we start in 1800 was just about where humans have been for recorded history: short lives and lots of kids. Now within the last 50 years we’ve seen a monumental shift that really is unprecedented on a global scale. Think for a few minutes about the complex causes of this shift and the massive changes in social, political, and economic dynamics that undergird it and also flow out of it.

We really have never seen its like before.

I recently detailed the relationship between stewardship and the use of one’s God given gifts through vocational jobs as a path toward human flourishing. Much like vocational work’s hands on occupations, are artisanal jobs, which are on the rise in America. These positions are developed by the individual as a creative outlet to provide a good or a service not in the market. They do not require formal training, but education is important as a foundation for inspired enrichment. The artisan economy exemplifies how a private enterprise embodying God given gifts can serve the desires and needs of others.

Father Robert Sirico discusses the role of creative entrepreneurship as an individual’s means toward becoming a faithful servant:

In the process, he employs the labor of others, giving them a meaningful means to support their families. And in the end he has created wealth and prosperity that had not existed before. All this comes to be through his faithful service. If the entrepreneur profits thought[sic] the application of his gifts and the assumption of great risks, they are profits well-deserved.

PBS NewsHour recently profiled artisans who have utilized their education to creatively develop solutions to public problems, such as health care. Today, America faces an aging population, and according to Lawrence Katz, health care work has developed into a “minimum wage job where people are effectively babysitting and not really learning, and the elderly are pretty much checked out and sedated in some cases.” (more…)

Natural Family Planning educatiaon in the Saint Anthony Clinic in Dili, East Timor

Natural Family Planning educatiaon in the Saint Anthony Clinic in Dili, East Timor

Once, in a Bible study I was involved with, we women got chatting, and one lady (as we were discussing poverty in Haiti) said, “If we could just get those women to stop having so many kids…” [drawn-out sigh.] My reply was that we didn’t need to stop women from having babies; we needed to help educate women.

For years, organizations like the World Health Organization have tried to distribute artificial birth control in the developing world. The thinking here is that if families have fewer children, there will be more opportunities for the health and welfare of the children who are born. Of course, this mentality fails on several counts. First, it overlooks religious and cultural values in many places around the world where large families are desired, and where artificial birth control is considered sinful. Second, even the World Health Organization notes that many forms of artificial birth control are known carcinogens. Finally, in many developing countries, the simplest of health care is out-of-reach both financially and geographically. That is, a family that cannot afford netting treated to ward off mosquitoes carrying malaria or who has to walk days to reach a clinic are certainly not going to be able to utilize artificial birth control with any regularity – which means it won’t work. (more…)

Recently, the World Bank agreed to partner with Nicaragua to give the country 69 million U.S. dollars in aid. This poses the immediate question of whether or not this aid will be effective in producing its stated goal of decreasing poverty and increasing economic productivity. Should the World Bank continue to give money to the government of Nicaragua, which – especially of late – has been showing a decrease in political stability and democratic processes? History shows that international loans provide little help when countries suffer from decreases in stability and equality within their system.

The World Bank justifies the money that Nicaragua receives: “Nicaragua has achieved a real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of 5 percent in 2012 and 4.6 percent in 2013, returning to pre-crisis growth levels.” GDP, however, does not paint a complete picture of the country’s performance. Most of the wealth within Nicaragua is located among the upper class, making the GDP less accurate for the country as a whole. Gross Domestic Product in purchasing power parity (PPP) in 2012 was estimated at $20.04 billion USD, and GDP per capita in PPP at $3,300 USD, making Nicaragua the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
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Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Friday, July 18, 2014

Christian Cake Baker Appeals Government ‘Re-Education’ Order
Bethany Monk, CitizenLink

A Christian cake artist in Colorado filed an appeal Wednesday challenging a government order that says he and his staff must take “re-education” classes. The classes would “educate” employees about a state law that effectively demands that businesses celebrate same-sex ceremonies.

Re-Islamization in Istanbul: Hagia Sophia Next?
Victor Gaetan, National Catholic Register

Turkish press reported the lead organizer said, “It is our duty to convert it back to its original state [sic] to show Islam’s prevalence in this region and carry out the nation’s will.”

Is The War On Drugs Racist?
Jason Riley, The Federalist

The black inmate population reflects black criminality, not a racist criminal justice system.

Religious Freedom vs. LGBT Rights? It’s More Complicated
John D. Inazu, Christianity Today

The legal context for what’s happening at Gordon College, and how Christians can respond despite intense cultural backlash.

social-mobility-01_500x260Earlier this year I wrote a series of posts explaining 12 principles that generally drive the thinking of conservative evangelicals when it comes to economics. Number 9 on my list was:

9. Social mobility — specifically getting people out of poverty — is infinitely more important than income inequality.

Social mobility is the ability of an individual or family to improve (or lower) their economic status. The two main types of social mobility are intergenerational (i.e., a person is better off than their parents or grandparents) or intragenerational (i.e., income changes within a person or group’s lifetime). Researchers at Harvard University recently released a study of intergenerational social mobility within the United States which controlled for five factors: racial segregation, income inequality, school quality, social capital, and family structure.

Can you guess which factor makes the most difference for social mobility?
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Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Thursday, July 17, 2014

How do we help struggling Americans rise out of poverty? Robert Doar, AEI’s fellow in poverty studies and former New York City welfare commissioner, offers four key principles everyone concerned with fighting poverty should know.