Blog author: jcarter
Monday, May 19, 2014
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The 8 worst places in the world to be religious
Daniel Burke, CNN

Among the most worrying trends, according to the State Department, are “authoritarian governments that restrict their citizens’ ability to practice their religion.”

Swiss Voters Defeat $24.65 Minimum Wage by a Wide Margin
Melissa Eddy, New York Times

The proposed rate — considerably higher than elsewhere in Europe and more than double the $10.10 President Obama has sought in the United States — found little support in a national referendum, with 76.3 percent opposed, according to initial results released by the government.

What Does Religion Look Like in Prison?
Casey N. Cep, Pacific Standard

Ex-Catholics, atheists, Cherokees, Lakotas, Lutherans, and Wiccans all make an appearance in Joshua Dubler’s Down in the Chapel.

Please, Leave the Hagia Sophia Alone
Wesley J. Smith, First Things

Turkey’s Islamist government threatens to destroy Hagia Sophia’s crucial “neutral” status. ANSAmed reports that the government plans to turn the former basilica into a mosque in the afternoon and evening, while allowing it to remain a museum during morning hours.

shutterstock_119092402-580x331In his latest column, David Brooks examines the limits of data and “objective knowledge” in guiding or directing our imaginations when it comes to solving social problems.

Using teenage pregnancy as an example, he notes that although it may be of some use to get a sense on the general drivers of certain phenomena, such information is, in the end, “insufficient for anyone seeking deep understanding”:

Unlike minnows, human beings don’t exist just as members of groups. We all know people whose lives are breathtakingly unpredictable: a Mormon leader who came out of the closet and became a gay dad; an investment banker who became a nun; a child with a wandering anthropologist mom who became president.

We all slip into the general patterns of psychology and sociology sometimes, but we aren’t captured by them. People live and get pregnant one by one, and each life and each pregnancy has its own unlikely story. To move the next rung up the ladder of understanding you have to dive into the tangle of individual lives. You have to enter the realm of fiction, biography and journalism.

For the solution, he points to Augustine:

[Augustine] came to believe that it take selfless love to truly know another person. Love is a form of knowing and being known. Affection motivates you to want to see everything about another. Empathy opens you up to absorb the good and the bad. Love impels you not just to observe, but to seek union — to think as another thinks and feel as another feels. (more…)

Terminator-2-Judgement-Day-posterI oppose implementing Skynet and increasing minimum wage laws for the same reason: to forestall the robots.

It’s probably inevitable that a T-1000 will return from the future to terminate John Connor. But there is still something we can do to prevent a TIOS from eliminating the cashier at your local McDonalds.

In Europe, McDonalds has ordered 7,000 TIOSs (Touch Interface Ordering Systems) to take food orders and payment. In America, Panera Bread will replace all of their cashiers with wage-free robots in all of their 1,800 nationwide locations by 2016. There is even a burger-making robot that can churn out 360 gourmet hamburgers per hour.

I, for one, welcome our new fast-food robot overlords. I’m just not ready for them yet.
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stop traffickingIn the past few years, Americans have learned a lot about human trafficking. It’s increasingly encroaching into our cities, towns, neighborhoods. Many groups are working valiantly to bring victims out of trafficking situations, and help them become safe and productive members of society.

However, U.S. immigration laws are getting in the way. Jennnifer Allen Jung, a immigrations attorney specializing in human trafficking cases, says are current laws are keeping many victims from stepping out of the shadows and getting help.

I’ve listened to clients tearfully and slowly pour out the details of the horrors they’ve lived through, only to find out they don’t qualify for a particular immigration relief because they entered the country two months too late. Immigration law is as complex as tax law. Few understand it, and yet it impacts millions: U.S. citizens in mixed-status families, an alphabet of visa holders, the contentious undocumented immigrants.

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Blog author: jcarter
Friday, May 16, 2014
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Kasper versus Kasper
Samuel Gregg, Crisis Magazine

Book-tours can be risky affairs. There’s always the chance you’ll say something during your tenth radio interview of the day which you retrospectively wish you’d phrased differently. Then there’s the possibility you’ll play up to a live audience and make some truly imprudent comments.

U.S. Jews vs. U.S. Christianity
Dennis Prager, Jewish Journal

It’s not something that Americans mention in public. And it may not even be something many note in private. But a Jew writing in a Jewish journal ought to point out a fact that, no matter how much ignored, is significant.

Sudan judge sentences Christian woman to death
Sydney Morning Herald

A Sudanese judge on Thursday sentenced a Christian woman to hang for apostasy, despite appeals by Western embassies for compassion and respect for religious freedom.

The Discipline of Matrimony in the Orthodox Church
Metropolitan Jonah, Juicy Ecumenism

In the Orthodox Church the sacrament of Holy Matrimony is seen as an ascetic discipline. Matrimony is one of the two paths given and sanctified by the Church as a means of working out one’s salvation; the other is monasticism.

poverty-declinedWould you say that over the past three decades (since about the mid-1980s) the percentage of people in the world who live in extreme poverty — defined as living on less than $1.25 per day — has:

A) Increased
B) Decreased
C) remained the same

The right answer is B: extreme poverty has decreased by more than half. Yet according to a recent Barna Group survey more than eight in 10 Americans (84 percent) are unaware global poverty has reduced so drastically, and more than two-thirds (67 percent) say they thought global poverty has risen during that period.

Additionally, more than two-thirds of US adults (68 percent) say they do not believe it’s possible to end extreme global poverty within the next 25 years. One exception to this pessimism is practicing Christians. Defined by Barna as people who have attended a church service in the past month and say their religious faith is very important in their life, practicing Christians under 40 are the most optimistic at nearly half (48 percent), with practicing Christians over 40 slightly higher than the general population (37 percent compared to 32 percent of all adults).

The reason for the pessimism about eradicating extreme poverty generally fall into one of five categories:

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privilege-and-prejudiceStudents attending Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government have a new mandatory class: Checking Your Privilege 101. This is, in part, a response to the conversation started by Princeton’s Tory Fortgang, who wanted to be known by the content of his character rather than the color of his skin (which happens to be white.) Reetu Mody, a master’s degree student is thrilled by the Harvard’s new class and describes it thus:

The substance of the training, while still under discussion, is to prepare students to understand the broad impact of identity on their decision-making and to engage them in constructive tools for dialogue,” Mody says. She likens it to the math classes masters candidates are sent to so they can apply economic theories. “If you don’t have an understanding of sociology, political science, critical race theory, feminist critique, and revisionist history,” Mody warns, “it’s going to be very difficult to talk about certain groups’ experiences, and why these other groups continually have this advantage in society.”

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