Blog author: jcarter
Monday, November 18, 2013
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China to Ease 1-Child Policy, Abolish Labor Camps
Gillian Wong, Associated Press

China will loosen family planning rules that limit many couples to a single child in the first substantial change to the unpopular policy in nearly three decades, as leaders seek to address a rapidly aging population.

The Evolution of Conscience in the Western World
Howard P. Kainz, First Things

People don’t always act according to their conscience, but ameliorations in conscience are a sine qua non for moral betterment—necessary, although not sufficient.

Obama Administration Puts a Price Tag on Your Religious Freedom
Matthew Clark, Charisma News

Can you put a price on religious liberty? Apparently the Obama administration has.

Kentucky Baptist children’s agency faces ‘ethical dilemma’
Paul Chitwood, ERLC

Growing hostility toward biblical Christianity in America could cause us to question how long tolerance will be extended to the religion that once dominated our land; but for now, we are blessed with freedom.

2716popefrancis_00000001928Carl E Olson, editor of The Catholic World Report, recently wrote an article addressing the  perception of Pope Francis by media members outside the Catholic Church. He says:

Many in the American media, however, have already made up their minds: yes, the new pope is “liberal”, and that supposed fact is a big problem for those “conservative” bishops who keep harping about fringe issues such as the killing of the unborn, sexual immorality, the familial foundations of society, and the need to evangelize.

Many have labeled the Pope a “liberal” because of a statement he made that was published in America. He said: “I have never been like Blessed Imelda [a goody-goody], but I have never been a right-winger.” Olson asked Samuel Gregg, director of research at the Acton Institute, what an “ultraconservative” or “right-winger” might mean to  Pope Francis. Gregg, who has spent considerable time in Latin America, points out that these terms have different meanings in Latin America than they do in the U.S.

It is, Gregg told me, “crucial to understand just how extreme politics became in Latin America in the 1940s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s.” During those decades, the “left” in Latin America “ was chest-deep in Marxism” as evidenced by “dictators like Fidel Castro and murderers like Che Guevara.” (more…)

Politics_Church+StateAccording to World News Daily the federal government has enlisted black church denominations to enroll people into Obamacare.

Enroll America, a Washington-based nonprofit staffed in part by ex-Obama presidential campaign workers, is leading the enrollment campaign which saw just over 100,000 people “sign up” in October. Jessica Kendall, director of outreach for Enroll America, calls the task of signing up America’s uninsured the “largest enrollment effort that has ever been done in our history.” Her group is working with a broad coalition, including hospital associations, labor unions, advocacy groups and religious organizations, to persuade people to submit to Obamacare. Enroll America’s “Health Care from the Pulpit” initiative to churches kicked off Sunday, Oct. 27, with “over 50 events across the country to further engage the faith community in education about enrollment,” according to a press release.

In the black church tradition it is not uncommon for churchgoers to be made aware of social welfare through various means, especially after the rollout for the “War on Poverty” programs. However, this development is particularly interesting because there appear to be official partnerships between the federal government and black church denominations to enroll churchgoers in Obamacare.

According to the article, Ashley Allison, the director of constituency engagement for Enroll America, said her group is encouraging churches “to put announcements in the weekly bulletin and make literature available for people to pick up at church.” Enroll America hosted one training event for African Methodist Episcopal Church leaders in Las Vegas—which seems rather odd. I cannot think of another entitlement program that would train religious leaders to facilitate enrollment in local communities. One has to wonder if the black church is becoming a de facto agency of the federal government with this level of participation in the federal program.
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WisdomWonderInterVarsity’s Emerging Scholars Blog recently posted two reviews of Abraham Kuyper’s Wisdom and Wonder: Common Grace in Science and Art, one from Dan Jesse, the other from David Carlson.

Carlson nicely summarizes some of the book’s key implications for the life of the believer:

One does not need to do Christian science or Christian art to be a faithful Christian in those domains.  One needs to do good science or good art. Yet, science and art are powerful tools that come without a clear moral compass or centering integration. A believer ought to do art or science in a way that is truly integrated by means of Special Grace.

Jesse focuses a bit more on Kuyper’s discussion of science, concluding that rejecting science “would be a rejection of God”:

What we need to judge, Kuyper concludes, is whether or not science has its starting point with the spirit of the world or with the Spirit of God. The former will always lead us to destruction and the latter towards greater knowledge of our Creator.

When it is all said and done, Kuyper leaves us with a framework to judge science from. We are not to reject science, as that would be a rejection of God. We should not discount science, as it can inform our world. We should not try to proof-text science, and make sure that it conforms with a literal view of scripture, as this would be doing both scripture and science a disservice. Kuyper’s section on science…seems to be calling out to us today. It is issuing forth a call that needs to be heeded by the church. We need to embrace and embody science. (more…)

AYN RANDThere once was a time when I was enamored by the philosophy of Ayn Rand. An émigré from the Soviet Union, the influential novelist and founder of Objectivism had an enthusiasm for market capitalism and a hatred of communism that I found entrancing. I discovered her two major philosophical novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, in my early years in college as I was beginning to wake from my enchantment with liberalism. I was instantly hooked.

Rand’s ideas were intriguing, yet she harbored sentiments that made it difficult for a young Christian to accept. She was an atheist who despised altruism and preached the “virtue of selfishness.” She believed that rational self-interest was the greatest good and sang the praises of egoism.

In retrospect, it appears obvious that any attempt to reconcile these ideas with my orthodox evangelicalism was destined to fail. Still, I thought there might be something to the philosophy and was particularly intrigued by her defense of capitalism. My understanding of our economic system was a rather immature, though, and I failed to recognize that Rand had an almost complete misunderstanding of capitalism. She confused self-interest with selfishness.
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Blog author: jcarter
Friday, November 15, 2013
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Charity Should Be A Choice For Businesses
Kathryn Shelton, AFF Doublethink

Customers have every right to shop at businesses that support the charities they think are important, but to force companies to do this and to criticize other choices is to forget the purpose of business in our economy.

How to Read Pope Francis
John Goerke, Juicy Ecumenism

To understand the Pope you must sift through all the noise to the best commentary available. I applaud those who wish to “dig deep” into what the Pope is actually saying.

Senator Mike Lee: Time to Rethink the War on Poverty
Mike Gonzalez, The Foundry

Progressives sometimes accuse conservatives of not caring about the poor. But it’s liberal policies that deepen, prolong, and institutionalize poverty.

A Relational Limited Government Politics
Pete Spiliakos, First Things

Conservatives can’t win as just another party of government. They can always be outbid. But the bidding of the statist left has its own costs.

Women tending a farm field in Kosovo

Women tending a farm field in Kosovo

In its first five years as an independent country, Kosovo has not experienced the positive developments that were hoped for, and remains far behind most countries in terms of economic development and rule of law. It is one of the poorest countries in Europe, boasting a meager 2012 per capita GDP of $3,453. Partly accounting for this low statistic is the minimal involvement of women in the economy. A 2012 World Bank report measures the portion of working-age women employed to be only 11 percent.

Along with scarce economic engagement, Kosovo struggles with corruption. It remains among the countries with the highest corruption levels, receiving a Corruption Perceptions Index 2012 score of 105, a far worse ranking than most states in the region.

In her recent lecture at Calvin College, Sandra F. Joireman, Weinstein Chair of International Studies and professor of Political Science at the University of Richmond, touched on these topics in relation to another major issue in Kosovar society: private property. In her presentation she explained that, “only 8 percent of property in the country is owned by women.” This statistic is far below most all other countries, including Balkan states.

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