In some parts of the United States, it is legal to hire a surrogate to carry a baby. The surrogate is paid for her services, and then surrenders the baby to the adoptive parents. Shared Conception in Texas (a “surrogacy-friendly” state, according to their website) puts it this way when discussing fees:

Sure there are a myriad of ways to make $20,000+ a year! To be honest, when you factor in morning sickness, sleepless nights, swollen ankles, doctor appointments, clinic visits, injections, labor pains and everything else associated with pregnancy, no logical and reasonable person would apply for that job…unless they have a yearning and a calling to profoundly help a couple or individual who is unable to have kids.

They are certainly right: it’s impossible to put a price tag on motherhood…but they’re going to try! (more…)

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, Virginia Lee BurtonCreative destruction can be a painful thing, particularly when you’re the one being destroyed. I’ve been-there done-that, and when things hit, I can’t say that I cared too much about Joseph Schumpeter and his fancy ideas.

Alas, even when we have a firm understanding of the long-term social and economic benefits of such destruction — that whatever pain we’re experiencing is for the “greater good” of humanity — we can’t help but feel unappreciated, devalued, and cast aside. Our work is an expression of ourselves, something we offer to society and (hopefully) believe to be of considerable worth.

Thus, when we experience such rejection, it’s only natural to react bitterly and become cynical, resentful, or fatalistic, allowing our attitudes and behaviors to correspond in turn. We’re tempted to doubt ourselves or doubt others, to sit back or plod forward halfheartedly, to feel entitled, believing that our “service” deserves a place in the economic landscape, regardless of what the economic signals might say.

Yet amidst theese competing emotions, we mustn’t forget that, in addition to concerns about productivity, efficiency, and economic progress, for the Christian, our work is ultimately service to others, and thus, to God. If someone has discovered new and better ways to meet our neighbors’ needs, it should tell us that it’s time to tweak our game and find new ways to contribute, as hard and uncomfortable as that may be. Our work is not a mere means to a paycheck, and neither are we mindless, powerless cogs in some grand machine, manufactured and predestined to spin mindlessly along only to be bypassed by the Next Big Thing and consigned to the city dump.

In her 1939 children’s book, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, Virginia Lee Burton gets to the heart of all this, tapping into the deep and profound pain of creative destruction, while ultimately pointing the way forward — toward creativity, service, and authentic human flourishing. (more…)

Blog author: abradley
posted by on Thursday, April 10, 2014

ap061011036516The “Christendom Show” really is over in America my friends. It’s a wrap. The culture of American politics is not simply made of up deists, agnostics, and atheists but men and women who are decidedly anti-Christian. To be anti-Christian is not to be merely apathetic or ambivalent toward Christian participation in societal life. Being anti-Christian is to pursue whatever arbitrary measures necessary to ensure that Christians are purged from receiving the same political liberties as other groups. For example, New York State forecasts, yet again, what will likely happen in more and more states in the coming years as state legislators rejected a measure that would allow tax payers to receive tax credits for financially supporting parochial education.

New York’s Education Investment Tax Credit would have provided a state tax credit for:
(more…)

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Thursday, April 10, 2014

Love Is Our King: De-Institutionalizing Enmity
Greg Forster, Canon & Culture

Nothing else we do in the public square will work if we don’t do everything from a position of love that challenges the deeply embedded assumption that we hate our culture.

Losing our Religion: On ‘Retaining’ Young People in the Orthodox Church
Seraphim Danckaert, Orthodoxy & Heterodoxy

The fundamental problem is far scarier and far harder to “fix”: the Gospel of Jesus Christ is neither taught nor followed by the vast majority of Christian parents in America. Period. The data are unavoidable.

Religious Freedom Wins in Mississippi
Sarah Torre, The Foundry

In a victory for religious freedom, last week Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed into law the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Talk is cheap: US, Obama must act now to save lives, protect religious freedom
Johnnie Moore, FoxNews.com

As priests are abducted in Crimea, churches burn in Sudan, and American pastors waste away in North Korean prisons, how long will it take this administration to name a new ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom?

uncle sam life supportAmerica has been underwhelmed by Obamacare. Beyond the website glitches and stories of waiting for hours to sign up, we can start assessing the actual program.

An April 8 Rasmussen poll finds only 23 percent of Americans call Obamacare a “success,” and 64 percent believe it will be repealed. the White House is in a tough spot; the program was built with the understanding that young people would flock to it, eager to snap up inexpensive health care plans. These purchases would help pay for the less-healthy and older enrollees. Young people would be paying their premiums, but since they don’t get sick as often, that money would be used for those who are typically less healthy. Those signing up, though, are tending to be older and sicker than expected:

People who signed up early for insurance through the new marketplaces were more likely to be prescribed drugs to treat pain, depression and H.I.V. and were less likely to need contraceptives, according to a new study that provides a much-anticipated look at the population that signed up for coverage under the new health care law.

The health of those who enrolled in new coverage is being closely watched because many observers have questioned whether the new marketplaces would attract a large share of sick people, which could lead to higher premiums and ultimately doom the new law.

(more…)

downloadIn his latest column for National Review, Jonah Goldberg notes the difference between being pro-business and pro-market and says the GOP can’t have it both ways anymore:

Just to clarify, the difference between being pro-business and pro-market is categorical. A politician who is a “friend of business” is exactly that, a guy who does favors for his friends. A politician who is pro-market is a referee who will refuse to help protect his friends (or anyone else) from competition unless the competitors have broken the rules. The friend of business supports industry-specific or even business-specific loans, grants, tariffs, or tax breaks. The pro-market referee opposes special treatment for anyone.

Politically, the reason the lines get blurry in good times and bad is that in a boom, the economic pie is growing fast enough that the friend and his competitor alike can prosper. In bad times, when politicians are desperate to get the economy going, no one in Washington wants to seem like an enemy of the “job creators.”

Goldberg is absolutely right about the difference being categorical. As economist Arnold Kling has helpfully outlined, support/opposition to markets and business gives us four categories:
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california-oil-drilling-pageEver-anxious to put another corporate head on a pike, religious proxy shareholders are boasting that their efforts landed them the big daddy of them all – ExxonMobil. Religious investor group As You Sow pats itself on the back that the energy company bowed to its pressure to reveal hydraulic fracturing (fracking) risks. According to the Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Gilbert:

Exxon Mobil Corp. agreed to publicly disclose more details on the risks of hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells, reversing a long-held resistance after negotiations with environmental groups and investors.

The Texas oil company’s decision is the latest evidence of a shift by Exxon’s top executives to address growing environmental worries about fracking, a contentious technique in some North American communities. (more…)

Selfsmall“Christian discipleship is nothing less than conformity to Christ—as individual believers and as local communities,” writes Charlie Self in Flourishing Churches and Communities, CLP’s Pentecostal primer on faith, work, and economics. “The very life of God is in us.”

Most of us have heard the Great Commandment and the Great Commission in their basic forms, but understanding the relationship between the two and living out that combined imperative can be difficult to wrap our minds around.

How do we love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind? How do we love our neighbor as ourselves? How do we love ourselves without descending into selfishness?

Self argues that “all of these ‘loves’ grow together,” and thus, we should be wary of drawing unhealthy divides, focusing on one area or group of areas to the detriment of the other(s). Fruitful stewardship depends on a healthy and holistic focus not just on who we ought to be serving, what we ought to be doing, and how we ought to be doing it, but first and foremost, from where such activities are sourced and directed.  (more…)

gr cityMichigan Capitol Confidential (CapCon) is reporting today that the city of Grand Rapids, Mich., is selectively releasing what should be public information regarding Acton Institute’s tax status in an on-going dispute between Acton and the city.

Grand Rapids city officials gave detailed information about a tax dispute involving the Acton Institute to a select reporter, but not to the nonprofit fighting to prove it is a charitable organization, according to documents received through a Freedom of Information Act request.

In fact, an Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty official complained that the organization was struggling to get information about the appeal of its rejection of an application for tax exemption just two business days before a scheduled hearing.

City attorney Catherine Mish, while not communicating with the Acton Institute, has been exchanging emails with an MLive reporter regarding this dispute. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Second Circuit Rules Against Religious Freedom of NYC Churches
Sarah Torre and Andrew Kloster, The Foundry

In the latest episode of a nearly 20-year legal battle for religious freedom in New York City, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday upheld the Board of Education of the City of New York’s refusal to provide permits to use public school space for worship services after hours and on the weekends.

Republican Senator: ‘GOP First Must End Cronyism in Our Own Ranks’
Daniel Halper, The Weekly Standard

Republican senator Mike Lee has an op-ed decrying cronyism. But first, he says, the Republicans must purge the unseemly activity from within its “own ranks.”

The Lottery And Big Government’s Gambling Hypocrisy
Ben Domenech, The Federalist

March Madness is a time when Americans of all backgrounds, faiths, and ethnicities come together for some good, clean, and likely illegal (depending on where you live) fun: gambling on college basketball.

The Case of Brendan Eich
Ross Douthat, New York Times

This mix of stringency in requirements and expansiveness in application obviously raises certain issues for any social conservative currently employed in a high-ranking position, or interested in ascending the career ladder, in many elite professions.