hopebutverifyLast week a group of (mostly liberal) Christian leaders took out a full-page ad in Roll Call calling on lawmakers to support the recent Framework Agreement on Iran’s nuclear program. “As Christian leaders we are telling our political leaders: It is imperative that you pursue this agreement with integrity, commitment, and perseverance,” The ad says. “We will be praying for you.”

The support of the agreement is a mistake, says Nicholas G. Hahn III. Why focus on urging a nuclear agreement when Christians are suffering under the Tehran regime?
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1333630489130_3671856Back in the 1960s and ‘70s, those of us of a particular bent loved the word “freedom.” The word was featured in the lyrics of many popular songs of the era, and the case could be made that hippies were called freaks as a pun on their oft-chanted “free” mantra. Heck, there was even a band named Free, which captivated the zeitgeist with a classic song about a man angling for a little “free” love with a woman too savvy to succumb so easily.

Free speech also once was all the rage. Lenny Bruce and George Carlin’s infamous seven words and all that, am I right? So, what happened? When did the hippies, yippies, liberals and progressives transition from fetishizing all things related to freedom to checking under their beds every night for a missing Koch brother? (more…)

Women in India with the Embrace blanket

Women in India with the Embrace blanket

Entrepreneur Jane Chen and artist Drue Kataoka met in 2012, and while their areas of expertise are quite different, they both wanted their work to have a meaningful impact. Working together through Embrace (Chen’s start-up), they have designed blankets that will save babies lives.

They have designed swaddlers and blankets for parents in the developed world to purchase, a line of products called Little Lotus. These products help regulate babies’ body temperatures in the first few weeks of life. Meanwhile, the purchase of these products help fund products that use more advanced technology for use in the developing world. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, April 17, 2015
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Religious hiring measure appears dead in Indiana
Associated Press

A measure that would allow religious-affiliated organizations to hire employees based on religion and require workers to follow certain religious tenets appears unlikely to advance this year.

‘Sustainability’ gone mad on college campuses
George F. Will, Washington Post

Like many religions’ premises, the sustainability movement’s premises are more assumed than demonstrated.

Gwyneth did the food stamp challenge wrong. So does everyone else.
Danielle Kurtzleben, Vox

Gwyneth Paltrow has apparently failed at the food stamp challenge. She quit after four days, she reports on her website, GOOP. But then, most everyone who takes the challenge does it wrong.

San Antonio chef ticketed $2,000 for feeding the homeless
Bonnie Kristian, The Week

Though she’s been running the “Chow Train” for years, local police recently slammed Cheever with a ticket carrying a fine of up to $2,000 because she brought prepared meals to the feeding location in a pick-up truck, take-out style.

Protect-Religious-Freedom-Rally-SignThe recent pushback against state-level Religious Freedom Restoration Acts has sent a signal that, as Utah legislator Stuart Adams say, “the landscape of protecting religious liberty has changed. Permanently.” Many Christians are drawing similar conclusions about the cause of religious liberty being all but lost. I think this view is premature and that, to paraphrase John Paul Jones, we have not yet begun to fight.

But our arguments aren’t for religious liberty certainly aren’t as persuasive as they should be. The reason, as Jennifer Roback Morse explains, is that such arguments are not “compelling enough to induce our fellow citizens to sacrifice something they value, namely, sexual liberty.” Morse identifies three reasons for this:
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In the latest video blog from For the Life of the World, Evan Koons recites Rainer Maria Rilke’s powerful poem, “Go to the Limits of your Longing” from Book of Hours.

“In this poem is the whole of what it means to live for the life of the world,” Koons explains. “God speaks to each of us as he makes us.”

The poem offers a compelling complement to the conclusion of the series, in which Stephen Grabill reminds us that the “church maintains the hope of the not yet by living the kingdom now.” We are the “lived memory of God’s purposes in the world,” he says. “The church is called to be the very embodiment of the kingdom to come.” (more…)

80s fashionI grew up in a very small town. Our fashion purchases were limited to the dry goods store (yes, it still went by that name) which carried things like Buster Brown shoes and sensible sweaters, or the grain elevator, where you could buy durable overalls for farm work.

As someone who eagerly awaited Seventeen magazine every month and witnessed the birth of MTV, you can imagine my fashion dilemma. The closest mall was 70 miles away. I needed Calvin Klein jeans, Candies heels and Esprit tops like, now.

Steven Quartz, a philosopher and neuroscientist at Caltech, along with Anette Asp, a political scientist and neuromarketer, feel for me. In The Atlantic, Bourree Lam talked with the two about the connection between “cool” and capitalism. Quartz and Asp, believe, in as sense, that capitalism created “cool.” First, though, Quartz says there are four myths linked to capitalism (or what some would call “consumerism”) that their research shows to be false:

First, that it doesn’t make us happy. Second, that it relies on instilling false needs in us because it’s contrary to our real nature. Third, that it erodes public life.  Fourth, that it’s primarily about “stuff.”

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Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, April 16, 2015
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Is There a Shortage of Poor People?
Kevin D. Williamson, The Corner

Call me parochial, but my economic model defines a poor society as a society that has lots of poor people in it.

The Utah Compromise
Stuart Adams, Library of Law and Liberty

Watching the unnecessary dramas that recently unfolded in Indiana and other states, one thing is clear: the landscape of protecting religious liberty has changed. Permanently.

It Takes a Village to Promote Free-Range Parenting
Naomi SchaeferRiley, Family Studies

Want to make free-range parenting possible again? Declare a kids-only afternoon at the park.

The Goal of Classical Education is Truth
Tom Jay, Crisis Magazine

How have our nation’s public schools reached the point where many of them no longer teach grammar? It has happened because schools deviated from the truth about language, which Josef Pieper characterized as a participation in truth.

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
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7figuresToday is tax day, the day when individual income tax returns are due to the federal government. Here are seven figures you should know about tax day:

1. The average federal tax rate for all households (tax liabilities divided by income, including government transfer payments) before taxes is 18.1 percent.

2. Households in the top quintile (including the top percentile) paid 68.8 percent of all federal taxes, households in the middle quintile paid 9.1 percent, and those in the bottom quintile paid 0.4 percent of federal taxes. (Quintiles — fifths — contain equal numbers of people.)

3. Social insurance taxes (e.g., Social Security, Medicare) account for the largest share of taxes paid by households in all but the top quintile.

4. The U.S. tax code is approximately 2,600 pages long (about 1.5 times longer than Tolstoy’s War and Peace and 2.5 times longer than Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged).

5. At midnight, the U.S. Treasury gets an extra $760 million. Taxpayers have three years to claim refunds, so the $760 million that is owed to 918,600 people will, by statute, go to the governments coffers tomorrow.

6. If you’re owed a refund, you won’t get in trouble if you miss the April 15 filing deadline. But if you’re wrong and you actually owe money, you’ll incur a maximum penalty of 5% for each month after the deadline. If you’re more than 60 days late, you’ll be fined $135, or 100% of the unpaid tax — whichever amount is smaller.

7. Examining 30 years of road crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, researchers found that fatal car crashes increase 6 percent on April 15.

Dorothy Sayers“If we put our neighbor first, we are putting man above God, and that is what we have been doing ever since we began to worship humanity and make man the measure of all things. Whenever man is made the center of things, he becomes the storm center of trouble – and that is precisely the catch about serving the community.” –Dorothy Sayers

In orienting our perspective on work and stewardship, one of the best starting points is Lester DeKoster’s view about work being service to neighbor and thus to God. And yet, even here, we ought to be attentive about the order of things, keeping in mind Samuel’s reminder that “to obey is better than sacrifice.”

It may seem overly picky, but it may be more accurate to say that our work is service to God, and thus to neighbor. For without obedience to God, service to neighbor will be severely limited at best, and wholly destructive at worst.

I was reminded of this when reading Dorothy Sayers’ popular essay, “Why Work?”, which she concludes by offering a strong warning against various calls to “serve the community” — a challenge she describes as “the most revolutionary of them all.”

“The only way to serve the community is to forget the community and serve the work,” she writes, meaning that only when we work for the glory of God can we hope for the flourishing of our neighbors (and selves). “The danger of ‘serving the community’ is that one is part of the community, and that in serving it one may only be serving a kind of communal egotism,” she continues. (more…)