Blog author: jcarter
Friday, October 14, 2016

Why Evangelicals Are Divided over Trump
Joe Carter, TGC

Here’s why conservative evangelicals are divided over Trump—and what we can do about it.

Should Christians Vote for Trump?
Eric Metaxas, Wall Street Journal

Trump’s behavior is odious, but Clinton has a deplorable basketful of deal breakers.

Faith leaders call on Obama, Congress to reject controversial religious liberty report
Kelsey Dallas, Deseret News

A diverse group of religious leaders, including the chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ ad hoc committee on religious liberty and the presiding bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, have called on President Barack Obama and Congress to reject the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights’ recent report on religious freedom law.

A Christian Perspective on Innovation and Economic Growth
Anne Bradley, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

As a Christian economist, I’m often asked to comment on the incredible pace of change regarding technology, innovation, and its impact on the economy – and how Christians should approach these issues.

When Bob Dylan wrote, “The Times They Are A Changin’,” I doubt he had the Swedish Academy in mind. Nevertheless, by awarding him the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature the Academy has made a bold statement for a change in the way songwriting is viewed as literature.

Many people have already complained that there were many more worthy potential recipients. But let’s face the facts: Bob Dylan won, and they lost.

He likely didn’t even know he was competing. (Reportedly, he was in Las Vegas for a performance when the award was announced.) But he won.

Now, I suppose it could be argued, as have some, that he hasn’t really produced any literature. Whatever one thinks of him winning, however, I don’t think that’s fair. Haters gonna hate, I guess.

The official press release, cited here in full, states, “The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2016 is awarded to Bob Dylan ‘for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.’”

This isn’t much to go on. One would think that with such a revolutionary choice, more explanation would be in order. But, I mean, c’mon. (more…)

“There are many things government can’t do—many good purposes it must renounce,” said Lord Acton. “It must leave them to the enterprise of others. It cannot feed the people. It cannot enrich the people. It cannot teach the people. It cannot convert the people.”

Unfortunately for us, too few of our fellow Americans would agree with Lord Acton on that point. Many people think the government can feed, enrich, and teach us—and even convert us to the “right” (i.e., politically correct) way of thinking.

The good news is that a slight majority of our neighbors (54 percent) still say that government is attempting to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses. But according to a new Gallup survey, 41 percent say government should do more to solve the country’s problems. As Gallup notes, the divide breaks down along political party lines:

These broad general population trends mask the fact that Republicans and Democrats have widely divergent views on the issue, consistent with each party’s philosophy on the role of government. Republicans overwhelmingly favor the “doing too much” option, and Democrats are almost as likely to favor “should do more.”

Currently, 82 percent of Republicans say government is trying to do too much, while only 24 percent of Democrats say the same. Gallup also notes that  women, minorities, and young adults are more likely to be Democrats and are least likely to say the government is doing too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses.

In this video, Dennis Prager explains why it matters whether government does too much or too little.

Time-Magazine-The-Me-Me-Me-GenerationWhether directly connected with our passions or not, God calls us first and foremost to do the next thing well, to his glory, with all of our might, says John Stonestreet. Short of this awareness, we risk “Christianizing” a sense of entitlement.

Christians are guilty of inculcating false expectations to their young as well. For at least a couple of generations, Christian colleges and other educational institutions, with the noble intention of communicating the biblical concept of “calling” being more than full-time ministry jobs, have taught students to look at their own giftedness as the key (sometimes the only key) to discovering “God’s will.” I must confess my own guilt in this regard.

Of course, there’s certainly truth to the idea that the Lord has gifted us in unique ways to serve Him and that we can discover these gifts through our passions and use them for His glory. Remember Olympian Eric Liddell’s wonderful line from “Chariots of Fire”? “God has made me for a purpose, for China. But he’s also made me fast, and when I run, I feel God’s pleasure.”

While the biblical picture of calling and vocation includes our giftedness, it also includes things like sacrifice, persecution and an awareness of the needs of my neighbors. Jesus said that those who follow him carry crosses. Paul said that anyone who wishes to follow Christ will be persecuted. (Remember, Liddell died in a Japanese prison camp.)
It’s really only Christians in the West, especially America, who have had the luxury of dwelling on the question, “What has God made me to be, and what is my calling?” Unfortunately, along the way, we’ve missed other lessons about calling that our brothers and sisters around the world are forced to learn.

Read more . . .

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, October 13, 2016

How to understand the three A’s of religious liberty as Christians
Andrew T. Walker, ERLC

Everyone worships something (adoration); everyone wants to live truthfully (authentically); and everyone has an ultimate standard for what they value (authority). These concepts are the building blocks of religious liberty.

How income varies among U.S. religious groups
David Masci, Pew Research

While there is a strong and proven correlation between education and income, it’s harder to know whether there also is a link between religion and wealth.

The case for free enterprise in a populist moment
Arthur C. Brooks, AEI

With no simple solution for reviving equal opportunity, conventional politicians struggle with increasingly angry voters.

How Medieval Towns Paved the Way for Capitalism
Richard M. Ebeling, FEE

It was in the towns of the Middle Ages that there began to emerge the economic, legal, and social prerequisites of the market economy.

wikileaks-catholicHave you ever wondered what liberal political activists and politicians think of Catholics? Well, thanks to Wikileaks you can get a glimpse into their views. In a couple of emails from Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s account there are exchanges in which conservative Catholics are mocked.

The first is the amusing titled “Catholic Spring.” Sandy Newman of Voices for Progress tells Podesta that she thinks there needs to be a “Catholic Spring” akin to the “Arab Spring”, the series of protest against authoritarian regimes that took place in the Middle East in 2011. Newman writes:

This whole controversy with the bishops opposing contraceptive coverage even though 98% of Catholic women (and their conjugal partners) have used contraception has me thinking . . . There needs to be a Catholic Spring, in which Catholics themselves demand the end of a middle ages dictatorship and the beginning of a little democracy and respect for gender equality in the Catholic church. Is contraceptive coverage an issue around which that could happen. The Bishops will undoubtedly continue the fight. Does the Catholic Hospital Association support of the Administration’s new policy, together with “the 98%” create an opportunity?

Of course, this idea may just reveal my total lack of understanding of the Catholic church, the economic power it can bring to bear against nuns and priests who count on it for their maintenance, etc. Even if the idea isn’t crazy, I don’t qualify to be involved and I have not thought at all about how one would “plant the seeds of the revolution,” or who would plant them. Just wondering . . .

Yes, the Sisters of the Poor would be totally onboard with requiring them to pay for abortifacients if only they didn’t count on the Vatican to subsidize their lavish lifestyles.

Podesta responded by saying:

Earlier this week the 2016 Nobel Prize in economics was jointly awarded to Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmström on Monday for their shared contributions to our understanding of contract theory. “Taken together the work of Hart and Holmström has allowed all of us to understand more clearly what a “good” contract might look like,” says Victor V. Claar in this week’s Acton Commentary, “even when both parties face an uncertain future.”

Most of Professor Hart’s work has dealt with “principal-agent problems.” These arise out of information asymmetries: instances in which one party, the “agent,” is charged with carrying out the wishes of its overseer, the “principal,” though the agent knows more about its own behavior than the principal. Stated another way, principal-agent problems are characterized by an overseer who is not, in fact, all-seeing. In such cases the principal and agent do not share complete information about the behavior and effort of the agent: Thus, information is asymmetrical between the parties, with the agent holding the informational upper hand.

In such cases it makes sense for the principal to structure its contracts with an agent in a way that renders the incentives of all parties compatible. Otherwise the agent will serve two masters, serving his own interests first while merely appeasing the principal.

The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.