Blog author: jsunde
Thursday, August 8, 2013
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523470_10151545229211463_1028298364_nOver at the Kern Pastors Network, Greg Forster points to Rev. Robert Sirico’s speech from this year’s Acton University, drawing particularly on Sirico’s emphasis on Christian anthropology. “One may not say that we are spirits inside of flesh,” Sirico said, “but that we are spirits and flesh.”

Forster summarizes:

Christianity teaches that the human person is, in Sirico’s words, both corporeal and transcendent. We cannot make sense of ourselves if we are only bodies. How could a strictly material body think for itself and make its own decisions, much less be aware of itself as it did so? Yet it is equally mistaken to locate our humanity only in the transcendent, as if we are spirits trapped inside bodies. It feels liberating at first to think that the mind and the will are all that matters, and that the body is an appendage to be used and reshaped however we wish. But whenever we try to live that way, our lives quickly become arbitrary and meaningless.

How we approach such matters impacts everything we do. When it comes to economic life, that means everything from our daily work to the economic systems we work within:

The worker who knows that his spirit and body are integrated on equal terms is able to find satisfaction in work. Unlike the materialist, he knows that work can have dignity and meaning. Unlike the Gnostic, he knows that the ultimate source of that dignity and meaning are outside himself. He can see the possibilities for transcendent satisfaction in so-called “menial” work, and he hears the call to humility and service in so-called “mind work” that others would use to glorify themselves. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, August 8, 2013
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Scrooge vs. Röpke: The Limits of Economic Virtue
Gracy Howard, The American Conservative

Dickens and Röpke both seem to suggest that the virtues of dignity and liberty must be tempered and complemented with one more virtue, once called the greatest of them all: love.

Lessons on Conscience Protection from the UK
Paul Diamond, Public Discourse

Unless Americans respond to the Supreme Court’s recent marriage decisions with greater protections for the rights of conscience, our first freedom is sure to lose force, just as it has in the UK.

Does a Free-Market Mindset Harm Marriage?
Joy Pullmann, Values & Capitalism

The Supreme Court’s recent ruling allowing states to grant same-sex couples marriage certificates made me consider the impact of a market mindset on marriage.

Pornography, Self-Government, and the ‘Res Publica’
Aaron Taylor, Ethika Politika

In a properly constituted republic – precisely because government is something that we as a people do to ourselves – laws cannot be envisaged as an imposition by the state on the body politic, as if the government were merely an external force.

13317570-indoor-crime-sceneEmily Badger at The Atlantic Wire posts a common sense story regarding the debate about whether or not the dispersing of poor people out of inner-city housing projects into suburban neighborhoods, through government housing voucher programs, increases crime rates. The article reflects recent research by Michael Lens, an assistant professor of urban planning at UCLA.

A growing stack of research now supports [the] hypothesis that housing vouchers do not in fact lead to crime. Lens has just added another study to that literature, published in the journal Urban Studies. He looked at crime and housing data in 215 cities between 1997 and 2008 – controlling for national and regional crime trends, demographic and income variables, employment rates and more – and found “virtually no relationship” between the prevalence of Housing Choice Voucher Program households and higher crime at the city level or in the suburbs. In previous research, Lens and colleagues had investigated the same question at the neighborhood level.

“Although communities with a higher prevalence of voucher households appear to be higher in crime,” Lens writes, “there is no evidence that this is due to voucher households increasing crime.”

Lens’ findings should not sound too surprising given the fact that poverty does not cause criminal behavior in the first place. In fact, immoral behavior has never been a function of class but a matter of moral fortitude. Granted, poverty most certainly introduces particular temptations (Prov 30:8) but so does wealth (Prov 22:16). Poor people do not have more moral limitations than those who are wealthy. To assume such is make human dignity a function of class and once we cross that road, the poor find themselves the victims of patronizing oppression.

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Accessible IconIn this week’s Acton Commentary, “Disability, Service, and Stewardship,” I write, “Our service of others may or may not be recognized by the marketplace as something valuable or worth paying for. But each one of us has something to offer someone else. All of us have ministries of one kind or another. Our very existence itself must be seen as a blessing from God.”

During a sermon a couple weeks ago at my church, the preacher made an important point about common attitudes toward old people (to listen, click the “Launch Media Player” here and listen to Rev. David Kolls’s message, “Following God Through Transitions” from July 28, 2013). In the same way that we often view those with visible disabilities as passive objects of pity, we often think of those who have reached a certain age as having nothing to offer. This is simply wrong-headed.

We all are important to God. “God don’t make no junk,” as the saying on the T-shirt reads. This isn’t to deny the reality of brokenness and sin. But in the face of these evils, God still affirms and preserves his creation. Life itself is a blessing from God, and mere existence is proof enough that God values people and has purposes for us. Every one.
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America’s Founding Fathers considered religious liberty to be our “first freedom.” But as Ken Blackwell notes, that view is no longer shared by our media and foreign policy elites:

All such understandings of the religious freedom foundation of American civil liberty and foreign policy seem long forgotten by the elites of today. The media cares little about religious freedom. The famous Rothman-Lichter study of 1981 surveyed 240 journalists from the prestige press. Of course, 80 percent of them voted one way, but a whopping 91 percent said they never attended a religious service of any kind. No wonder CNN’s Bill Schneider could famously say that the media “doesn’t get religion.”

But if 91 percent of top journos never worship, they are a tent revival in comparison to our foreign policy clerisy. And there’s the rub: Not only is religion not important in their own lives, our top foreign policy thinkers also fail consistently to understand why religion is important in the lives of others—especially those restive peoples whom they are forever trying to explain to America’s rapidly dwindling readership on foreign affairs.

Read more . . .

Blog author: ehilton
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
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Last week, we took a look at what distributists get right in terms of economics, through the eyes of David Deavel at Intercollegiate Review. Now, Deavel discusses where distributism goes off the rails in that same series. It is a rather long list, rube goldbertbut here are the highlights.

First, Deavel says that simple economics escapes distributists. Despite the fact that economics teaches that actions in the real world have real world consequences, distributists tend to ignore this fact.

They scoff at the notion that there might be predictive laws of economic behavior, such as supply and demand.  But if there are such predictive laws, then it behooves us understand them.  Distributists want third parties, such as governments or guilds, to arbitrarily set wages and prices according to abstract notions of justice.

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Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
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At Christian Companies, Religious Principles Complement Business Practices
Mark Oppenheimer, New York Times,

“Are people able to live out their own agency by making a contribution in the workplace?” is, according to Mr. Hicks, a question Christians should ask. Do employees have meaningful work, or just repetitive, low-paid, mind-numbing work?

How the Gospel Affects Our Work
Matt Heerema, Stonebrook Church

Could it be that our work at writing code, processing insurance claims, changing diapers, building houses, growing crops, or studying differential equations matter to God?

Trade and Cheez-Its: How to Teach Economics to Your Toddler
Wesley Gant, Values & Capitalism

Economics can be a dry subject. Finding a way to illustrate its principles in a way that is informative and fun is like figuring out a difficult magic trick: Once we figure out the trick, we want to show everyone.

Does Religion Matter?
Donald Devine, American Conservative Union

We would argue that America’s historic religion transmitted from Europe has been critical to the West’s spectacular rise as reported in the second table above and to its maintenance over a long period of time as demonstrated in the first for the same reason.