New Delhi TV recently published a Agence Franch-Presse report describing the former pope’s “invisible presence at conclave:”

Retired pope Benedict XVI is gone but far from forgotten as cardinals begin voting for candidates to replace him, with his personal secretary Georg Gaenswein one of the last to leave the Sistine Chapel before the start of the conclave.

Rev. Robert Sirico addresses Benedict’s influence on the conclave:

Benedict has “been very careful not to insert himself into the proceedings” for his succession.

He pointed to Benedict’s “removal of himself to Castel Gandolfo, and the fact that he made no comments or expressed any preferences on a number of the things leading up to his resignation.”

The “pope emeritus,” who turns 86 next month, has begun his retirement at the papal summer residence outside Rome with promises of being “hidden from the world” and living as a “simple pilgrim.”

“Obviously there are consequences to his decision and obviously not all good,” Sirico acknowledged, adding: “It has to weigh on his mind (that the cardinal electors) are in this position because of his decision.”

One obvious consequence is that “future popes could more easily resign,” he noted. (more…)

Blog author: abradley
Wednesday, March 13, 2013

In their book, American Society: How It Really Works, authors Erik Wright and Joel Rogers make the case that when we talk about social injustice most Americans think in terms of some sort of material inequality that might be considered unfair and possibly remedied if our social institutions were different. There are multiple problems with this reduction but it is fair to say that this is a dominant conceptual framework in our culture today. As a result, one of the ways to frame the “fairness” divide is to discuss it in terms of “fair play” versus “fair shares.”

Wright and Rogers explain that in the “fair play” vision, inequalities are fair so long as the rules by which people compete for valued goods are fair. In this framework there are winners and losers. When losers lose, as long as the rules are the same, the first assumption cannot be that they lost because of injustice and that, all things being equal, had they been equal from the start they would not have lost. That is, so long as there is equal opportunity, inequality of results is not a moral problem.

Taking a look at these videos will give you a pretty good idea of what the Duck Commander’s mission is. You’ll see how the popular A&E series Duck Dynasty, focusing on the lives of the Duck Commander products, embodies a vision of business as mission on a variety of levels. As Phil puts it, “we all are preachers.”

Here’s Phil Robertson, the Duck Commander, describing his journey to faith in Jesus Christ:

Here’s the Duck Commander on the origins of his entrepreneurial enterprise:

And finally, here’s the Duck Commander highlighting the TV series as a vehicle for living out the gospel:

Charlie SelfAEI’s Values & Capitalism recently posted an interview with Dr. Charlie Self, professor at Assemblies of God Theological Seminary and senior advisor for the Acton Institute. In the last few weeks, I’ve posted several excerpts from Self’s new book, Flourishing Churches and Communities: A Pentecostal Primer on Faith, Work, and Economics for Spirit-Empowered Discipleship, which he discusses at length in the interview.

When asked what a Pentecostal worldview adds to the “larger Christian conversation about faith, work and economics,” Self responded with the following:

…[W]hat I think distinguishes Pentecostalism is our conviction about empowerment for mission. Fundamentally, it is our belief that God the Holy Spirit is active in the world: using his people in a myriad of ways to share the good news of redemption in Christ. That includes the ongoing supernatural work of God—the delivering, healing, reconciling work of Christ. Sometimes we see exorcisms or other miraculous things. These ongoing spiritual gifts are an important part of the Great Commission.

In terms of a connection with faith, work and economics, we aren’t talking about being spooky or weird at work (trust me—that doesn’t get you promoted!). Rather than speaking in foreign tongues, it’s welcoming God’s presence and action—welcoming God’s guidance into everyday tasks. It’s welcoming God’s involvement in daily work, whether washing dishes or balancing revenue statements.

Pentecostal Christianity reminds the rest of global Christians that when the Spirit is present, a new sociology emerges. There is a new egalitarianism in terms of inherent dignity and worth—not net worth, but the importance and value of each person in an organization, from janitors to CEOs—or from professors to students to college presidents. (more…)

Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) recently appeared on the MSNBC round-table discussion show Morning Joe and was asked by Senior Political Analyst Mark Halperin to give his personal take on the reality of a world where Obamacare is the law of the land. Here’s what transpired:

JOHNSON: Well, it’s obviously the law of the land right now. Obviously, I’m concerned about it. I think that the cost estimate of Obamacare is grossly understated. I think far more Americans are going to lose their employer-sponsored health care, because there are incentives for employers who drop the coverage and make their employees eligible for the huge subsidies in the exchanges. I think it will explode our deficit. It’s going to lead to rationing. It will lead to rationing and lower-quality care. Here is the basic economic problem.

MIKE BARNICLE: Why will it lead to rationing?

JOHNSON: Because it dramatically increases the demand for healthcare. Thirty million Americans getting their health care, kind of through a Medicaid-like process, while it dramatically reduces the supply. That’s an economic disaster. When you’re taking $716 billion out of payments, primarily to the providers, you’re reducing supply and increasing demand. That doesn’t lower the cost curve. That increases the cost curve.

HALPERIN: Well, again, just to stay on health care. Lots of big issues, I now you want to talk about. But, do you aspire to live in a country where we have universal healthcare? Is that a goal of yours?

Johnson: What I aspire is to health care being governed more by free-market competitive systems. I always use the example of one area of healthcare that generally isn’t covered by a third-party payer or by government. It’s eyeglasses. The free market has actually produced businesses that you can walk off the street, get eyeglasses in an hour, two for the price of one. Take a look at the quality of laser surgery – it’s gone up and up and the price has gone down the last ten years. The free market system is a marvel, in terms of guaranteeing the lowest possible price and cost, and the highest possible quality of customer service. But we’re moving in the opposite direction: government control.

HALPERIN: Yes or no, do you aspire for the United States to have universal healthcare coverage?

I wonder why no one asked Mark Halperin if he aspires to be a real journalist one day?

For the life of me, I cannot figure out if Halperin’s line of questioning has an agenda or not? He’s way too smooth and subtle to betray his own political leanings!

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, March 13, 2013

C. S. Lewis on Selfishness vs. Self-Interest
Art Lindsley, The Gospel Coalition

To Lewis, there is a huge difference between self-interest and selfishness, and there is a proper place for self-interest.

Unity, faith, peace. Why Africans want an African pope
Sarah Brown, CNN

Sub-Saharan Africa is home to more than 500 million Christians, with Catholics accounting for around a third of that number, a 2011 study by the Pew Research Center found.

The Battle Against School Choice in New Hampshire
Ed Krayewski, Reason

A program that would help low-income students attend any private or public school they want, or to be homeschooled, is under fire

Sending A Message to Business: A Christian Perspective On Creative Destruction
Taylor Barkley, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics

What is it, what are its advantages and disadvantages, and how should Christians approach it from a biblical perspective?

The conclave to elect a new pope began today in Rome.  Guy Dinmore and Giulia Segreti from the Financial Times describe the first day:

Cardinals sequestered in the Sistine chapel held their first vote to choose the 266th pope to lead the Roman Catholic church but black smoke emerging from their burnt ballot papers on Tuesday night signalled no one had secured the two-thirds majority needed for election.

The search for a successor to Benedict XVI, who last month became the first pontiff to abdicate in nearly 600 years, will continue on Wednesday with up to four rounds of voting.

In a ceremony combining pageantry and religious solemnity adapted over the centuries, the 115 voting cardinals took their oaths of secrecy in Latin after chanting their way into Michelangelo’s frescoed chapel, windows obscured and swept for electronic devices. Its doors were then closed and locked, and the princes of the church will remain cut off from the world, spending their nights in a nearby Vatican residence, until a winner emerges.

Regarding the color of the smoke, Rev. Robert Sirico points out that,

… white smoke signifying an elected pope would have been highly unlikely on the first day. Cardinals would next analyse which candidates have emerged with a following.

[Sirico] hazarded that Italy’s Angelo Scola and Marc Ouellet of Canada might have obtained around 40 votes each. Cardinals Odilo Scherer of Brazil and Sean O’Malley of Boston might have taken “a smaller amount.”

The full article is available here, but registration may be required to access it.