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.

figure6Religious shareholder activists continuously sing from a counterintuitive hymnal that asserts genetically modified organisms somehow are detrimental to the environment, the financial well-being of the companies relying on GMOs and those people who eat foods containing GMOs. For example, religious shareholder activist group As You Sow boasts on its website:

As You Sow has organized an investor letter sent to the top 50 corporate opponents of GMO labeling ballot initiatives in California (Proposition 37) and Washington (Initiative 522). The letter to public companies was signed by 45 wealth management and investor advocacy groups representing $36 billion, while the letter to private companies was signed by 38 groups representing $18 billion.

The letter describes the American public’s deeply unfavorable opinion of corporate money in politics, and the backlash suffered by companies that spent corporate funds to oppose Proposition 37 and Initiative 522. Investors are concerned that draining corporate funds to oppose these initiatives is especially unproductive as GMO labeling laws and bans continue to gain momentum, including a recent labeling law in Vermont and two countywide cultivation bans in Oregon.

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???????????Christian’s Library Press recently released The System Has a Soul: Essays on Christianity, Liberty, and Political Life by Hunter Baker, a collection of reflections on the role and relevance of Christianity in our societal systems.

To celebrate the release, CLP will be giving away three copies of the book. To enter, use the interface below. To get started, all you need to enter is your email address! After that, there are four ways to enter, and each will increase your odds. The contest will end Friday night (October 24) at 11:59 p.m.


Note: Due to various constraints, print copies are only available to contestants who live North America. Winners who reside elsewhere will receive a digital copy.

publicdiscourseFor conservatives, a retreat into self-imposed isolation isn’t a responsible option, says Acton research director Samuel Gregg. Instead, he argues, we need more conservatives publicly witnessing that humans are wired to know and freely choose truth, and that this has implications for the political order:
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jpiiToday marks the feast day in the Catholic Church of St. John Paul II. His pontificate was extraordinary for many reasons, but one thing St. John Paul II understood well was the need for holiness and engagement of culture by and for the laity. In an address he made in 1987 while visiting the United States and Canada, he spoke of this very thing.

It is within the everyday world that you, the laity, must bear witness to God’s Kingdom; through you the Church’s mission is fulfilled by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Council taught that the specific task of the laity is precisely this: to “seek the Kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God” (Ibid. 31). You are called to live in the world, to engage in secular professions and occupations, to live in those ordinary circumstances of family life and life in society from which is woven the very web of your existence. You are called by God himself to exercise your proper functions according to the spirit of the Gospel and to work for the sanctification of the world from within, in the manner of leaven. In this way you can make Christ known to others, especially by the witness of your lives. It is for you as lay people to direct all temporal affairs to the praise of the Creator and Redeemer (Cfr. Lumen Gentium, 31).

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Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
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How John Adams Helps Explain The American Mind
Richard Samuelson, The Federalist

The dispute between John Adams and Edmund Burke can illuminate today’s differences between American and European conservatives.

Catholicism and Capitalism: Redeeming the System
The Economist

“Indeed the very word ‘neoliberalism’ on the lips of the European (and Catholic) left has become an almost meaningless term for ‘whatever we don’t like.'”

Razed by Terror Attacks, a Church Will Rise Anew
Alex Vadukul, New York Times

Thirteen years ago, a small Greek Orthodox church with a ringing rooftop bell offered a reprieve from the city’s furious financial nerve center, until it was crushed when the World Trade Center’s south tower collapsed on Sept. 11. On Saturday, church officials blessed the ground where the new St. Nicholas church would rise.

U.S. High School Dropout Rates Fall, Especially Among Latinos
Ben Casselman, FiveThirtyEight

Elkhart’s improvement is a particularly dramatic example of a nation-wide trend: Graduation rates are improving, especially for Latinos.1 Nationally, the on-time graduation rate topped 80 percent for the first time in 2012, up from 74 percent five years earlier.

miiltary-businessEvery American, whether native born or naturalized citizen, has an obligation to serve their country. I’ve always believed that to be true, which is why I spent fifteen years serving my country in the Marine Corps.

I even served three years as a recruiter, trying to convince other young men and women of the nobility of military service. But even then I believed, as I’ve always believed to be true, that military service is not the only — or even the primary way — that most people can or should serve this country.

If I were to advise most bright, motivated, service-oriented young people who aren’t the “military type” I’d recommend they take a different path: start a business. Creating a business that provides jobs and offers valuable goods or services for one’s neighbors is a high and noble calling.

Andrew Yang, the founder and CEO of Venture for America, makes a similar claim, and even argues the “greatest service to your country is to start a business.” While “greatest” is certainly an overstatement, I agree it is one of the most needed forms of service in America today. As Yang writes,
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