Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
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World Council of Churches Stands By As Christians Perish, Churches Wither
Malcolm Lowe, Gatestone Institute

The World Council of Churches (WCC) in Geneva claims to represent and serve 345 churches worldwide. What has it done to help the persecuted churches in Iraq, Syria and Egypt? Or the flood of Syrian refugees into Jordan and Lebanon?

Hobby Lobby asks US Supreme Court to take up case over federal birth-control coverage mandate
Associated Press

Lawyers for Hobby Lobby asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to take up the company’s lawsuit against the federal health care law’s requirement that coverage include access to the morning-after pill.

State Dept. Stays Mute on Persecuted Religious Minorities Worldwide
Leanna Baumer, FRC Blog

A post designed to elevate the status of religious freedom in American foreign policy and to move around intractable State Department bureaucracy by directly advising the Secretary of State, the U.S. Ambassador-At-Large for International Religious Freedom in recent years has functioned instead as a sidelined figure in diplomatic efforts.

Faith and freedom depend on each other
Ed Feulner, Washington Times

Religious liberty is as characteristic of America as our democratic political system and our free-market economy.

Brand-Storyteller“The plural of anecdote is not data”, claimed toxicologist Frank Kotsonis, in an attempt to correct sloppy thinking. While Kotsonis has provided a useful aphorism, it can obscure the equally interesting fact that the singular of data is anecdote.

Consider, for example, the following two stories. The first is the shortest work of fiction ever written by Ernest Hemingway:

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

This powerful story is a marvel of economy. In a mere six words and three punctuation marks, Hemingway is able to convey a sense of tragic loss without ever introducing a single character.

Compare to a story with a similar theme from an anonymous author:

Infant mortality rate: 6.9 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Although it lacks the emotional impact, this too is a model of brevity. Seven words, two numbers, a comma, colon, and two periods are used to express — albeit rather dryly — an important fact about the human condition. Indeed, if Hemingway’s story was not fictional, it could be considered a singular instance of the second story; a particular example of a more general phenomenon.

At this point, you may object to the use of the term “story” in reference to a statistic. You may be tempted to repeat back to me Kotsonis’ mantra: “The plural of anecdote is not data.” But if the singular of data is anecdote and anecdotes are a form of story, then why can’t data be a collection of tales, sifted down and pressed together, into a narrative?Transforming data back into narrative form can provide the oft-lamented missing link between the data and analysis produced by conservative think tanks and the storytelling that appeals to the general public.

Lack of storytelling ability is one of the reoccurring themes of modern conservatism. At National Review Online, Lee Habeeb is the most recent writer to point out that conservatives need to become better at getting our point across by the use of stories:
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Blog author: ehilton
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
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moving_to_franceFor those of us on this side of the pond, France conjures up images of baguettes, beautiful women and lush countryside. For the French, the image conjured up might be taxes, taxes and more taxes.

More than 70 per cent of the French feel taxes are “excessive”, and 80 per cent believe the president’s economic policy is “misguided” and “inefficient”. This goes far beyond the tax exiles such as Gérard Depardieu, members of the Peugeot family or Chanel’s owners. Worse, after decades of living in one of the most redistributive systems in western Europe, 54 per cent of the French believe that taxes – of which there have been 84 new ones in the past two years, rising from 42 per cent of GDP in 2009 to 46.3 per cent this year – now widen social inequalities instead of reducing them.

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??????????????????????????????????????????????????????In an essay for AEI’s The American, Henry Olsen does a deep dive on the white working class, a group that Republicans have won by significant margins in recent years. (HT)

Yet upon reviewing evidence in a new book by Andrew Levison, The White Working Class Today: Who They Are, How They Think, and How Progressives Can Regain Their Support, Olsen concludes that “conservatives, not progressives, are the ones in need of an electoral strategy to capture this key segment of the electorate.”*

Olsen proceeds to offer a lengthy critique of what the GOP thinks working-class whites want to hear, focusing on three key messages that fall short. Reihan Salam does us a nice service by briefly summarizing these points, pairing each with its uncomfortable counterpoint:

  1. While white working class voters aren’t pro-government, they are anxious about their deteriorating labor market position, and so they’re not necessarily inclined to celebrate entrepreneurship and the free market. (more…)
Blog author: ehilton
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
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Japanese man and woman lean away from each otherJapan is a nation going under, demographically speaking. It is estimated that Japan will lose 10 million people in population over the next ten years. Like many nations, Japan is not having babies fast enough to keep its population stable. One reason: what the Japanese are callingsekkusu shinai shokogun, or ‘celibacy syndrome.'” Young people don’t want to date, be intimate, get married, have sex. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
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Using Public Information to Protect Religious Liberty
Brian Simboli, Crisis Magazine

The government has tremendous power to obtain information about the citizenry. The latter, however, often has difficulty obtaining information about government activity.

A Map of the World’s Slave Workforce
Tim Fernholz, The Atlantic

According to a new estimate, there are 30 million forced laborers in the world. Some reports show they’re involved in making everything from iPhones to chocolate.

How Business Can Contribute to Flourishing
Brian Baugus, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

If you’re a Christian working in business, or a young Christian interested in pursuing a career in business, what does it look like to use your God-given talents in this arena? What does it look like to serve others through business?

The Federal Takeover of Catholic Education
Anne Hendershott, Crisis Magazine

Although the Common Core was designed to address problems in the public schools, many Catholic schools have decided to adopt the Common Core standards also.

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, October 21, 2013
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3997077930_679738c745Forget Max Weber and his Protestant work ethic, says Greg Forster. We don’t need social science to know that God cares about our work:

Nothing shows the difficulty of understanding the relationship between work and faith more than our continued insistence on framing this issue as a debate over Max Weber’s long-discredited theory of the Protestant work ethic. Weber argued that Protestants value work because they think prosperity is proof that you’re saved; as anyone who knows anything about church history can tell you, this was and is slanderous nonsense. He also argued that teaching people that God values their work created an economic system that thrives on greed and materialism; as anyone who knows economic history can tell you, this is just as preposterous. Weber’s theory has been almost universally dismissed by a century of theologians, historians, and economists.

Nonetheless, Weber’s terms and categories continue to dominate popular discussions, because his approach strictly separates “facts” from “values.” This allows secularists to think about possible cultural connections between faith and work while preserving a comfortable work/spirit dualism in their own lives. That dualism is exactly what the faith and work movement seeks to challenge. As long as Weber dominates the conversation it’s difficult to get people to understand the message.

Read more . . .