logogqOne of the most popular blog posts at Gentlemen’s Quarterly Magazine (GQ) in 2013 was a commentary giving men 10 reasons to stop viewing pornography. On GQ’s website the piece registered 24,000 thousand “like” on Facebook in just a few weeks. The popularity of the post could be a signal that Americans really are interested in discussing moral issues and perhaps GQ should take advantage of this opportunity to include more posts that offer moral direction even if some might ultimately disagree.

GQ is at least aware that the virtues that make a man emanate from his heart and not simply his wardrobe, to a certain degree, hence magazine’s motto, “Look Sharp, Live Smart.” Sadly, over the past 2 or 3 generations in America an emphasis on character has lost its role as the chief element of style. You can be a man of impeccable dress, taste, and flare and sabotage it all with unsavory character. In modern America, the symbiotic relationship between style and virtue is too easily poisoned by the cultural production of narcissism and moral relativism.
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University_of_Dallas1While the University of Notre Dame has decided to comply with the HHS mandate requiring employers to cover contraception, abortifacients and abortions in employee health insurance, the University of Dallas continues to fight the mandate.

The University of Dallas, a Catholic institution founded in 1910 by the Vincentian Fathers, received a preliminary injunction on January 2, 2014, that would relieve the university of the necessity to comply with the mandate. (more…)

Blog author: jballor
Monday, January 6, 2014
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The following is a letter written in response to a post from my friend Brad Littlejohn on the topic of the minimum wage

Dear Brad,

Thank you for your thoughtful and substantive engagement on the question of the minimum wage. I don’t think the conversation we had on Twitter earlier did justice to your work here, so I’m offering this response in hopes of furthering the conversation. I hope you find it fruitful. I certainly have. I should also note that I have been assuming the context of policy proposals to increase the minimum wage at the federal level in the United States. There are certainly aspects of what we’re discussing that apply to a greater or lesser extent in other contexts and at other levels of government, but at the level of individual states, for instance, the stakes are somewhat reduced and ameliorated by the realities of federalism.

You write that you “want to reflect a bit more fully on what’s wrong with one of the common conservative arguments against the minimum wage: that the laborer is only worth his productivity.” I have significant concerns with equating someone’s worth with the economic value of their labor in the marketplace. I do not argue that the laborer is only worth his or her productive work. I argue that a worker’s work is only valuable in a market setting insofar as someone is willing to pay for it. I agree that there is a subjective element to work that is in some ways intimately identified with and inseparable from the person doing the working. But I do maintain that the worker and the work can, and indeed must, be distinguished. Perhaps what we disagree about is that you think the wage someone is offered is primarily a signal about how much that person is valued. I think that the wage someone is offered is primarily a signal about how much that person’s work is useful to others.
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The late, great Chuck Colson had impeccable taste in literature. By that I mean that he liked all of the same books that I like. Or I suppose that I should say, I like all of the same books he liked.

I especially loved the BreakPoint commentaries he’d do that focused on a great author. It always inspired me to hear Mr. Colson speak so eloquently and passionately about great novels that didn’t need Kirk Cameron starring in the movie version of them for Christians to praise.

While commenting on Fyodor Dostoevsky and his classic work Crime and Punishment, Colson said the following:

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Blog author: jcarter
Monday, January 6, 2014
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Do Christians Threaten Religious Liberty?
R. R. Reno, First Things

Jews ought to back away from any alliance with Christians when it comes to the contraceptive mandate, argues Yishai Schwartz in Tablet.

Why intact families are key to shared American prosperity
James Pethokoukis, AEI Ideas

Family structure is often neglected when policymakers discuss income mobility, stagnation, and inequality. But it matters a lot whether kids, especially ones in working class and lower-income families, grow up with both biological parents.

The Magi and the Eternal Effect of Our Work
Hugh Whelchel, The Gospel Coalition

Who knows how God will use what we do today to further his kingdom tomorrow.

It’s Not Every Day You Get to Save a Five-Year-Old’s Life
Don Fornes, A Million Little Ways

What if your business is primarily commercial and not, well, saving the world?

If you’re interested in how your tax dollar is being spent at the local level, check out Open The Books, a project of American Transparency.  It was founded by Adam Andrzejewski as a “national rallying cry for transparency in public spending.” The mission of this project is to “engage, educate and empower citizens to demand transparent, accountable and smart government across America. If you are one of the tens of thousands from all walks of life who believe in the same principles, we are here to help.” Click through on the “more” link to see the widget and check outgovernment spending in your hometown. (more…)

“With every passing year, and each new EU bailout, Europeans seem to be forgetting where they came from,” writes journalist David Aikman in a new review of Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and How America Can Avoid a European Future. In The Weekly Standard, Aikman commends Acton Research Director Samuel Gregg’s book for showing how the long post-war project designed to advance European integration, economic security and social welfare has in fact degenerated into government dependency and bureaucratic bloat. The former Time magazine senior correspondent and bestselling author also applauds Gregg for reminding us that Marxist inspired “redistributionism” is really the core problem. Excerpt from the review:

The idea of a European federal superstate as an economic and political entity was never far from the minds of Europe’s key founders. Democratic capitalism was to be the main economic engine of that entity. But as Samuel Gregg points out in this cogently argued study—which frequently refers to Alexis de Tocqueville—whereas the American federal experiment emphasized economic and political freedom as the prerequisites for social prosperity and “human flourishing,” Europe’s postwar program was heavily influenced by social democracy. The goal became economic security for everyone, an idea that required labor-union political power and large bureaucracies to administer the welfare state.

Gregg correctly reminds us that behind social democracy’s stress on fair economic outcomes for Europe’s population lay the fundamental Marxist principle of redistributionism. He certainly does not attribute the European Union’s recent woes to the influence of Marxism, but he assembles a variety of ingredients that add up to what he calls “social Europe,” a social-welfare coterie of EU countries in which general prosperity has declined as economic freedoms have been whittled down. (more…)