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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SickoAs of Jan. 1, 2014, Obamacare – or the Affordable Health Care Act – is now law. Harking back to Nancy Pelosi’s now infamous remark, “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it away from the fog of the controversy,” we’ll now find out how it will work.

Given the incredibly rocky start, things don’t look good for the Health Care Act. One sign: documentary filmmaker Michael Moore (who usually loves all things Democratic) has said “Obamacare is awful.” In an op-ed in today’s New York Times, Moore gripes that Obamacare suffered from “clueless planning” and that it’s not affordable for many folks after all. (more…)

Blog author: jballor
Thursday, January 2, 2014
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I certainly like where Dr. Calder ends up, but I’m not quite so sure about the argumentation he uses to get there. This short video is worth checking out: “Breaking the Power of Money” (HT: ESN blog).

Breaking the Power of Money – Dr. Lendol Calder from InterVarsity twentyonehundred on Vimeo.

Is it because students have unconsciously divinized money that they can’t bring themselves to tear a dollar bill in half? Or is there an implicit bias against the seemingly purposeless destruction of value? Perhaps they need some convincing that destroying dollar bills is an exercise in good stewardship.

Money is something powerful, that’s for sure. And the love of it is the source of all kinds of evil. So the challenge is to keep our loves for temporal goods, including money, ordinate. As Calder puts it, we do that not by destroying money, but by putting it to responsible use. Maybe that’s “profaning” money in the sense that we are taking away the purported and idolatrous divinity we ascribe to it. But maybe that’s also by “redeeming” money for godly use.