CA-transgender-bathroomThis summer Houston Mayor Annise Parker championed a so-called Equal Rights Ordinance which, among other changes, would force businesses to allow transgender residents’ to use whatever restroom they want, regardless of their biological sex.

In response, a citizen initiative was launched to have the council either repeal the bill or place it on the ballot for voters to decide. The mayor and city attorney defied the law and rejected the certification, so the initiative filed a lawsuit. In return, the city’s attorneys subpoenaed a number of area pastors.

According to Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the city demanded to see what these pastors were preaching from the pulpit and wanted to examine their communications with their church members and others concerning the city council’s actions.
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dream jobIn preparation for the Symposium on Common Grace in Business (co-sponsored by the Acton Institute and Calvin College), I spent time with Shirley Roels, one of the moderators for the event. Roels, a former business faculty member at Calvin College, is now senior advisor to NetVUE (Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education.) The first part of the interview (found here) focused primarily on the upcoming symposium.

Roels now works primarily with young adults, and we spent time talking about vocation, spiritual life, business and how young adults think about these concepts. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
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Surrogacy: The Twenty-First Century’s New Baby-Making
Christopher White, The Federalist

Pro-surrogacy groups argue it’s time the law recognizes some women as breeders.

Nigeria’s ‘megachurches': a hidden pillar of Africa’s top economy
Tim Cocks, Reuters

When a guesthouse belonging to one of Nigeria’s leading Christian pastors collapsed last month, killing 115 mostly South African pilgrims, attention focused on the multimillion-dollar “megachurches” that form a huge, untaxed sector of Africa’s top economy.

The Liberal Religion of “Tolerance”
Paul G. Kengor, Vision and Values

A new survey by Pew Research finds that when it comes to teaching children, liberals place a far higher priority on teaching “tolerance” than teaching religion. That liberals do this in schools is abundantly clear, but they apparently do it in their homes as well.

Ending Extreme Poverty Top Development Goal for Holy See at UN
Josh Craddock, Aleteia

1.2 billion people live on less than $1.25 per day, Vatican representative points out.

Nobel-Peace-Prize-winners-012Who are the people who won the Nobel Peace Prize?

Malala Yousafzai, a 17-year-old Muslim girl from Pakistan, and Kailash Satyarthi, a 60-year-old Hindu man from India, jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize for their “struggle against the suppression of children and young people.”

What exactly is the Nobel Peace Prize?

The Nobel Peace Prize is an international prize awarded annually since 1901 by the Norwegian Nobel Committee according to guidelines laid down in Alfred Nobel’s will (“. . . to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations and the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the formation and spreading of peace congresses.”). The prize includes a medal, a personal diploma, and a large sum of prize money (currently, about $1.1 million).

What did Malala Yousafzai do to deserve the award?
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CREAMIn a talk he gave at Kuyper College for the launch of the new business leadership major some years back, Vincent Bacote made an insightful observation about the “people in the room” where things were decided leading up to and during the Global Financial Crisis. What if, he wondered, the Christians who were certainly there had the resources (intellectual, moral, and spiritual) to do something about the direction that things were headed?

I also wrote about how we need to recognize that the church already occupies Wall Street (as well as all streets!) and the task of moral formation that this reality entails.

But this call to “occupy” Wall Street is perhaps as complex and challenging an arena of cultural engagement and cultural development as there is. This incisive piece from Michael Lewis outlines some of the “occupational hazards” of that particular call.
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Dr. Kent Brantly

Dr. Kent Brantly

I once read a fascinating book about the leper colony on Molokai. The Molokai lepers were literally cast out of society, sent as far away as possible, with almost no support systems.  There was no health care for them, no houses beyond rudimentary shelter, no way to readily obtain clothing, school books for children…it was a frightful and frightening situation. A brave and gentle priest, Fr. Damien de Veuster from Belgium, accepted the assignment to go to Molokai and serve the 600 lepers there.

He arrived to chaos. Those suffering from leprosy were living in a lawless society. They fought over food, areas of land – it was survival of the fittest. In the 16 years that Damien lived on Molokai, he built a church, helped the people build houses that truly were homes, constructed needed buildings and roadways in the mountainous region, taught farming to the residents, and provided education. His greatest gift, however, was spiritual. (more…)

Blog author: jsunde
Monday, October 13, 2014
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capterrorismThe Middle East is enduring yet another wave of terror and political change, spurring countless Western analysts and elites to offer their preferred strategies and solutions, most of which involve military force, foreign aid, or some mixture of the two.

In last weekend’s Wall Street Journal, Peruvian economist Hernando De Soto sets forth a less predictable path, arguing for “an aggressive agenda for economic empowerment,” similar to that which was promoted in Peru during the 1990s.

I know something about this. A generation ago, much of Latin America was in turmoil. By 1990, a Marxist-Leninist terrorist organization called Sendero Luminoso, or Shining Path, had seized control of most of my home country, Peru, where I served as the president’s principal adviser. Fashionable opinion held that the people rebelling were the impoverished or underemployed wage slaves of Latin America, that capitalism couldn’t work outside the West and that Latin cultures didn’t really understand market economics.

The conventional wisdom proved to be wrong, however. Reforms in Peru gave indigenous entrepreneurs and farmers control over their assets and a new, more accessible legal framework in which to run businesses, make contracts and borrow—spurring an unprecedented rise in living standards… Over the next two decades, Peru’s gross national product per capita grew twice as fast as the average in the rest of Latin America, with its middle class growing four times faster.

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7figuresInformation on mortality — when we die, how we die, causes of death — is a key to understanding changes in the health and well-being of nation. The National Center for Health Statistics recently released a report on mortality in the United States based on the latest annual data (2012) that reveals the (mostly) positive changes in America’s health.

Here are seven figures you should know from the report:
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monastic signChurch of England Archbishop Justin Welby thinks young bankers would be well served if they spent time as “quasi-monks” before entering the marketplace. In The Telegraph, Welby says that ambitious young people should

…quit work temporarily so they can pray and serve the poor.

He said he believed their natural ambition would encourage them to join his Godly community.

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Blog author: jcarter
Monday, October 13, 2014
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John Locke and the Dark Side of Toleration
Bruce Frohnen, Crisis Magazine

It seems likely that most Americans would find John Locke’s definition of a church non-controversial, perhaps even obvious. This shows both how relevant the seventeenth century philosopher remains to our public life, and how detrimental it has been on many levels.

Africans to Westerners at synod: We’ve got our own problems
Inés San Martín, Crux

During the Oct. 5-19 Synod of Bishops on the family, many of the biggest surprises are coming from the African continent, where the challenges vary greatly from those of Europe and the US.

How to teach self-control and reduce economic inequality
Walter Mischel, PBS Newshour

Teaching self-control, or the ability to delay gratification, says Columbia psychologist Walter Mischel, author of “The Marshmallow Test,” has enormous philosophical and policy implications, not the least of which is teaching kids how to save.

Education Savings Accounts Are the Next Generation of School Choice
Lindsey Burke, The Daily Signal

“A blind student in Arizona gets about $21,000 a year,” says Marc Ashton, whose son, Max, is legally blind. That $21,000 represents what Arizona spends to educate a student such as Max in the public-school system.