Blog author: jsunde
Friday, January 3, 2014
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Risky Gospel: Abandon Fear and Build Something AwesomeIn his new book, Risky Gospel, Owen Strachan calls Christians to an active life filled with faith and risk, cautioning us away from complacency and comfortability, whether in our churches, jobs, families, political witness, or in the deeper workings of our spiritual lives.

“We must give up our man-made plans for worldly peace and prosperity,” he writes. “We must relinquish anxious management of our daily existence. We must break with a ‘play it safe’ mentality and embrace a bigger vision of our time on this earth.”

Though the thrust of such a thesis feels reminiscent of what Matthew Lee Anderson recently summarized as the ”new radicalism,” Strachan’s contribution has a particular emphasis on how such risk plays out in the ordinary and mundane aspects of our lives. In his chapter on vocation and economic engagement, for example, Strachan offers a rather balanced approach for thinking about Christian stewardship.

The Christian life is one filled with entrepreneurial pursuit, Strachan argues, but such a journey is designed and pre-destined for participants of all shapes and sizes, from the assembly line worker to the small business owner to the board-room executive:

God has commissioned us…to build and create. We are, if you will, gospel entrepreneurs. Instead of operating in a beaten-down, scared-to-risk, sitting-on-our-hands mentality in which we passively wait for the world to act upon us, we can, like the faithful servants from the parable of the talents, build godly vocations and careers for God’s glory. This kind of existence is driven by and dedicated to the gospel. Everything we undertake and create is from the outflow of God’s mercy delivered to us by the body and blood of Jesus. (more…)

New U.S. Citizens Sworn In At George Washington's Mount Vernon EstateThe chairman of the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, MSpS, a member of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit and auxiliary bishop of Seattle, has written on behalf of the committee regarding current immigration reform. In a blog post, Bishop Elizondo stated that a 1986 law, the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), made life for immigrants better by lifting many out of poverty. He hopes new legislation will do even more good: (more…)

family-reading-bible-3The decline of marriage and fertility is one factor in the global economic crisis, says sociologist W. Bradford Wilcox:

The long-term fortunes of the modern economy depend in part on the strength and sustainability of the family, both in relation to fertility trends and to marriage trends. This basic, but often overlooked, principle is now at work in the current global economic crisis.

That is, one reason that some of the world’s leading economies — from Japan to Italy to Spain to the euro zone as a whole — are facing fiscal challenges is that their fertility rates have been below replacement levels (2.1 children per woman) for decades. Persistent sub-replacement fertility eventually translates into fewer workers relative to retirees, which puts tremendous strains on public coffers and the economy as a whole. Indeed, one recent study finds that almost half of the recent run-up in public debt in the West can be attributed to rapid aging over the last two decades.

Read more . . .

Notre_Dame_Golden_Dome1Notre Dame University announced yesterday that it will comply with the HHS mandate requiring employers to include contraception, abortifacients and abortion coverage in health care packages for employees. The university made the announcement after a federal judge last week denied the university’s request for exemption of the Obama administration’s law. An emergency stay was also denied by the Seventh District Court of Appeals. Failure to comply with the law means the university would now have to pay fines of $100 per day for each employee.

The university decided to comply with the “accommodation” offered by the Obama administration:

Having been denied a stay, Notre Dame is advising employees that pursuant to the Affordable Care Act, our third party administrator is required to notify plan participants of coverage provided under its contraceptives payment program,” said Paul Browne, Notre Dame’s vice president for public affairs and communications, according to WNDU. “As part of an ongoing legal action, however, the program may be terminated once the university’s lawsuit on religious liberty grounds against the HHS mandate has worked its way through the courts.”

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Blog author: jcarter
Friday, January 3, 2014
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A Flurry of Lawsuits Involving School Choice
Mary C. Tillotson, Reason

Nothing sparks court challenges like trying to expand education options.

The Normal, Drama-Free, Totally-Healthy Christian Homeschool Movement
Ruth Moon, Christianity Today

In a culture that loves shock value, typical evangelicalism rarely makes news

United Nations too Christian, claims report
The Guardian

Study calls for greater religious tolerance with Hinduism and Buddhism under-represented and funding a major issue

Report On Freedom of Religion or Belief Prisoners Issued
Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

Nine countries hold prisoners on blasphemy or defamation of religion charges. The countries with the most freedom of religion or belief prisoners are China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea and South Korea.

andy crouchCan we boil down the idea of “common good” to just 7 words? Andy Crouch is willing to try. As executive editor of Christianity Today, and author of Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power, Crouch is all about culture, human flourishing and humanity’s common good. Crouch told Acton’s Manager of Programs Mike Cook a bit of what he plans to discuss at this year’s ActonU:

‘The common good’ provides a basis for personal choices, shared effort, and social policy deeply rooted in fundamental Christian convictions. It also defies easy partisan categories. We’ll explore a seven-word summary that helps make the common-good tradition widely accessible and concretely practical: ‘the flourishing of the vulnerable in community.'”

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One of the key words at Bill de Blasio’s inauguration as New York City’s mayor was “inequality.” The politics of income inequality were pervasive in the remarks of former President Bill Clinton, who swore de Blasio into office, as well as the prayer of the Rev. Fred Lucas, a Sanitation Department chaplain, who prayed during the invocation for New Yorkers to be emancipated from ‘the plantation called New York City.’

Income inequality as evidence of an unjust society may the be new platform position of the Democrats. Across the country it appears the party is moving away from the more centrist ideology of the Clintons to the more 1912 Progressive commitments of New York’s new mayor. Nevertheless, de Blasio continues to signal a new era of politics of the Big Apple,

Here are a few highlights from his inaugural address outlining his plan to improve New York City:
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