It looks like Julianne Malveaux is going to have to expand her complaint against the labeling of milk to a whole new spate of products, including yogurt. It may be that the whole scope of items coming from the dairy industry is going to be affected.

Here’s the label off a yogurt container that I ate out of last week:

Malveaux is concerned that this kind of labeling, which she argues deceives the consumer into thinking that the product approximates “organic” certification, makes people spend extra money uselessly.

Now it so happens that Stonyfield Yogurt is also USDA Organic, as certified by a little logo on the side of the container (while Land O’Lakes milk is not certified organic). But despite that fact, the fact that the yogurt is organic is not the information that the label on the top is touting. It’s proclaiming the virtue of having added no artificial hormones to the cows.

Is Malveaux right about the morality of labeling something “No rBST added”? Does her claim only apply if the item isn’t organic?

Let’s hear from some marketing professionals. Do marketers have an obligation only to include information on their labels that an average consumer might find relevant?

Is the fact that rBST has not been added to cows producing particular dairy products a relevant piece of datum for the consumer? And if it’s not relevant, then why do “organic regulations prohibit the use of antibiotics and synthetic growth hormones”?

Perhaps it should be up to the consumer to decide the relevance. Just a thought.

Blog author: dwbosch
posted by on Friday, February 2, 2007

Follow up thought, Kevin:

Church indulgences had their roots in cheerful giving. Lots of cheerful "carbon giving" going on right now too; in fact, I’d call it downright prideful (which is why giving to God always had this condition on it).

That cheerful giving morphed into a guilt-giving, and was ultimately mangled by the Guardians of Truth intoਊ grotesque, compulsory tax on the faithful.

Will we see a similar pattern emerge here? Would not be surprised. Nor would I expect such a tax to be limited by national boundaries.

[Don's other habitat is]

Sen. Dave Schultheis of Colorado has “proposed a ‘Public Schools Religious Bill of Rights’ to combat what he calls mounting, nationwide violations of students’ and school staffs’ constitutionally protected religious freedom.”

Without endorsing any particular elements of Schultheis’ bill, I have to admit that I have actually considered writing a piece on an idea like this before, a students’ bill of rights which includes the right to learn about God. It strikes me that for people who are religious, the current treatment of belief in God in public schools makes it practically impossible to integrate faith and learning.

In reality the only ones who are able to realize this right are those who can afford to send their children to a religious day school. That’s why we need education reform in this country so desperately. The poor who are forced to send their kids to public schools have no choice but to acquiesce before secularism.

Simply because government requires something to be done doesn’t mean that it has to be the provider. My state requires that I have car insurance if I drive a car, but I don’t buy my insurance from the state. Don’t let the cries against an “unfunded mandate” fool you. Whether in the form of vouchers or tax credits (given the constitutional issues involved in using vouchers to fund religious schools), change needs to come.

If the government is going to make K-12 education mandatory, the least it can do is recognize the rights of parents and children to integrate religious education into a comprehensive, character-forming curriculum. And since the government can’t be the one to administer religious instruction, education is a job best left up to private entities.

Prof. Bainbridge on the hijinks of the Boston duo responsible for the now infamous ad campaign for Adult Swim: “These guys validate my life’s work: They confirm that corporations rule the world and are therefore a worthy subject of study.”

Here’s the rather incredible press conference, where almost every question is answered with, “Sorry, that’s not a hair question.”

The best part is when a reporter actually gets them to address the situation, if even in a somewhat round about manner, by asking the brilliant question: “Are you afraid that if you go to prison you’ll get your hair cut?” A close second is the reaction dumbfounded FOX News anchor.

Don’t cities run first responder drills and similar things all the time? Maybe the city of Boston should chalk it up as a training exercise.

Is all this making anyone else think of this?

Update: Seth Godin, speaking of governments and consumer groups, says “whatever they do isn’t going to change the way marketers do (what they erroneously think is) their jobs. There’s just too much money on the table.”

Blog author: kschmiesing
posted by on Thursday, February 1, 2007

Among the immediate causes of the sixteenth-century split in Western Christianity was the sale of indulgences. The theological crudity of this abuse was encapsulated in the venality of Dominican friar Johannes Tetzel, whose activities in Wittenberg riled Martin Luther. Tetzel allegedly preached “Sobald das Geld in Kasten klingt, die Seele aus dem Fegefeuer springt.” (“As soon as the coin in the box clinks, the soul out of purgatory springs.”)

That slogan came to mind as I was reading Jay Nordlinger’s account of the most recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Nordlinger quotes an e-mail notice circulated to all attendees:

Climate Change is at the centre of our discussions, and you can act now. Please consider compensating your greenhouse gas emissions related to participating in the Annual Meeting in Davos.

This is possible with 1 click at any kiosk or at the Davos Climate Alliance desk.

That is to say, for the sin of contributing to climate change by jetting to Davos, one can atone by contributing to the Davos Climate Alliance—”an initiative of the World Economic Forum to promote sound measures and best practice aimed at mitigating carbon related risks.”

Lest anyone doubted that environmentalism is, for some, a religion (of a pre-Reformation variety, no less).

[Ed. Note: See also "Guilt Free Ecology."]

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Thursday, February 1, 2007

This might just be the best argument for increasing the minimum wage that I’ve heard yet:

It’s just not fair that Michelle needs to go deep in hock to “feed her Ninja Turtle obsession,” is it? Well, maybe such an “obsession” leads to making poor economic decisions, but to each her own I guess. How sad.

In related news, the newest TNMT movie is set for release on March 23, 2007.

This is, as millions already know, Super Bowl week. Nothing is hyped all across America quite like the Super Bowl. This game has reached amazing proportions when it comes to the viewing audience and massive commercialization. It is a stunning piece of popular culture and one doesn’t know whether to weep about it or celebrate. Some pietistic folk see this as clear evidence that there is little real difference between us and the ancient Romans in the Coliseum. Others think this is the greatest day of the whole year with the biggest event of all time at 5 p.m. Everything, so it seems, virtually comes to a halt for the Super Bowl.

Here in Chicago the event is, of course, really big with the Bears in the game. So, how important are the Bears this Lord’s Day? Well, big enough to alter many churches and their plans for the day. What few churches still have services of any sort on Sunday evening will cancel them this week, with only a few exceptions. One priest, whose parish does have an evening Mass (as several Chicago area Catholic congregations do) noted, “To tell you the truth, I don’t think we’ll have a lot of people show up. About the only ones I expect to see here praying are the Colts fans.” Another priest announced last week that there would be no Mass this coming Sunday evening and people wildly applauded. (His staff was less excited about the decision.) One priest noted that in 1985, the last time the Bears played in a Super Bowl, a congregation that normally numbered 500 was only 46!

All of this prompted Ed Fanselow, a staff writer for my local paper, to conclude, tongue in cheek I hope: “The Father, Son and Holy Spirit, it seems, are simply no match for Lovie, Rex and Brian Urlacher.”

What should we make of all this? First, only those of a rigid Sabbath-keeping persuasion see this watching this game as overt sin. I am not so persuaded.

Second, most Christians are not sure what to do with pop culture and this game is pop culture of the most obvious sort. We either embrace it uncritically or damn it as totally ungodly. Neither approach is healthy, at least in my view. What makes “high culture” OK and pop culture trash? Who are the people who determine the differences? A certain elitism still plagues the church at this point, as does an uncritical embrace of all things consumed by the general public and made popular. Older Christians are especially prone to trash the pop cultural forms of youth culture. This actually harms the mission of the church in some important ways by increasing the generational disconnect.

Third, some churches use the Super Bowl to stage evangelistic parties. When they turn these gatherings into “slick evangelistic sales techniques” I have a real problem. If you want to have a big party to view the game with your friends then have a big party. But please don’t do “bait and switch” evangelism with pop culture. It just cheapens the significance of the incarnation and the good news and turns many away. If people come to see the game they do not come to hear you preach!

Fourth, enjoy the day if your conscience allows it. Worship with fellow Christians and keep your priorities straight. This is your central priority this Sunday. But remember that Christian freedom allows you to enjoy this day for the glory of God.

I for one will watch the game and enjoy it, especially if the Bears win. But my life will be fundamentally no different next Monday regardless of what happens in this game. This is where the world misses the mark, placing ultimate meaning, in some sense, upon a football game. And if you hate football then ignore the hype and the game. While millions are watching think of all the time you have for something else that you might enjoy. Use your freedom to serve Christ and to love people. That is the purpose of the law, not to bind you to a particular set of (man-made) rules about this day.

About twenty years ago I was in India on Super Bowl Sunday. I remember preaching that day and then saying to myself, and in my journal: “While millions watched the big game today I had the greater joy, preaching to hundreds of people who had never heard the name of Jesus and seeing some of them enter the kingdom of God.” If this is kept in mind by serious Christians we can survive another day of pop cultural hype and maybe even enjoy it.

John H. Armstrong is founder and director of ACT 3, a ministry aimed at "encouraging the church, through its leadership, to pursue doctrinal and ethical reformation and to foster spiritual awakening."

In this week’s Acton Commentary, I review Will Smith’s latest movie, The Pursuit of Happyness, which stands as an extended argument underscoring the truth of conservative values. This may sound like an improbable anomaly given the traditional political, ethical, and social allegiances of Hollywood, but the power of the story lies in its basis in fact, the real-life story of Christopher Gardner. This in turn prevents it from being appropriated as a tool for liberal political ideology.

The movie’s depicts American life as a meritocracy, and after opening in mid-December, the film has grossed over $150 million domestically. The movie is up for only one Oscar, however, and this is perhaps a testimony to the incompatibility of the movie’s message with mainstream Hollywood political culture. Indeed, Will Smith is nominated for Best Actor, but this is perhaps as much due to the respect he commands from his peers as it is for his role in this particular film.

The Pursuit of Happyness grossed more than any of the nominees in any other of the major categories, most by a large margin. But what the Hollywood elites can’t see, the American public can, and they’ve voted with their feet.

S. T. Karnick reviews the film here, be sure to check it out. And you can read my review in full here.

This review has been crossposted to

Received an announcement today about this event to be held later this week, “Faith and International Development Conference,” at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., from February 1-3.

Check out the list of sponsors at the bottom of the page, including:

  • Bread for the World

  • Micah Challenge
  • Office of Social Justice and Hunger Action

Just a hunch, but I wouldn’t expect a lot of market-friendly perspectives to be included.

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Tuesday, January 30, 2007

“ICANN Reviews Revoking Outdated Suffixes” (HT: Slashdot).

From the piece, “The Soviet Union’s ‘.su’ is the leading candidate for deletion.” A Google search turns up about 3 million sites with the .su suffix.

How exactly did the Soviet Union get a domain suffix? The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and wasn’t yet highly commercialized. But it seems that the administrative record for the .su suffix was created just in time, on September 19, 1990, a little over a year before the formal dissolution of the union on December 8, 1991.