3557statuechris_00000002873Those interested in reviving Catholicism’s saliency in everyday life in Latin America, says Acton Research Director Samuel Gregg, should consider how they can make Christ front-and-center of their social outreach:

It’s hardly surprising that the election of Latin America’s Pope Francis has focused more attention on Latin American Catholicism since the debates about liberation theology which shook global Christianity in the 1970s and 1980s. The sad irony, however, is that this renewed attention is highlighting something long known to many Catholics but which non-Catholics are now becoming more cognizant: that Latin America’s identity as a “Catholic continent” is fading and has been doing so for some time.

By that I don’t mean that most Latin Americans no longer identify as Catholic. That’s still the case. Indeed, in many countries south of the Rio Grande, it remains overwhelming true. But what’s clear is that Catholicism’s ability to shape Latin America’s religious context is in decline, or, from another perspective, faces some significant competitors: and not just from Evangelicals but also agnosticism and atheism.

Read more . . .

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
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Church Giving Tops $50 Billion A Year In U.S.—And Its Future Is Not A Collection Plate
Ruth Graham, Fast Company

“Churches are no different than any other operation in that they need to be relevant and convenient,” said RaeAnn Slaybaugh, editor of Church Executive magazine, who has reported on new giving options. “The difficulty is in capitalizing on a moment of generosity.”

The Basics of a Biblical Theology of Work
Amy L. Sherman, The Gospel Coalition

To inspire their flock about their daily work, congregational leaders need to start with the vital truth that work preceded the fall. This truth is foundational for faithful vocational stewardship. Work is not a result of humankind’s fall into sin. Work is central in Genesis 1 and 2.

In Seven States, Atheists Push to End Largely Forgotten Ban
Laurie Goodstein, New York Times

Maryland and six other states still have articles in their constitutions saying people who do not believe in God are not eligible to hold public office. Maryland’s Constitution still says belief in God is a requirement even for jurors and witnesses.

9 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About the Persecution of Christians
Rick McDaniel, OnFaith

Is discrimination against Christians an acceptable form of prejudice?

As many as 15 million children are caught up in violent conflicts around the globe, reports UNICEF. Globally, an estimated 230 million children currently live in countries and areas affected by armed conflicts.

“This has been a devastating year for millions of children,” said Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director. “Children have been killed while studying in the classroom and while sleeping in their beds; they have been orphaned, kidnapped, tortured, recruited, raped and even sold as slaves. Never in recent memory have so many children been subjected to such unspeakable brutality.”

According to UNICEF, the sheer number of crises in 2014 meant that many were quickly forgotten or captured little attention. Protracted crises in countries like Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, continued to claim even more young lives and futures. This year has also posed significant new threats to children’s health and well-being, most notably the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, which has left thousands of children orphaned and an estimated 5 million out of school.

Interest-Rate-burdenUsury is the practice of making immoral monetary loans intended to unfairly enrich the lender. But what, for Christians, counts as an immoral loan?

For much of church history, any interest was considered immoral. The 12th canon of the First Council of Carthage (345) and the 36th canon of the Council of Aix (789) declared it to be reprehensible even for anyone to make money by lending at interest. But that view eventually changed, and today even the Vatican participates in modern banking.

Some Catholics have used this example to argue for other changes, such as contraception. As Jay Richards notes,
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Blog author: jcarter
Monday, December 8, 2014
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The Case for Religious Freedom
Deborah Castellano Lubov, Zenit

Especially at this time in Western nations, we’re seeing this incredible backlash … the demand that Catholic or Jewish persons surrender their consciences and serve others.

Economist’s View: ‘Maths and Morals, Economics and Greed’
Mark Thoma, Economist’s View

We need to represent markets as centres of communication and deliberation, not as competitive arenas driven by profit maximisation. The clue is in the word forum, which defined both the market place and the political centre of a Roman city.

The Cost of Amnesty
David Frum, The Atlantic

President Obama touts the economic benefits of immigration, but the rising price of the Earned Income Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit alone could be dizzying.


Pastor Rick Warren to Catholics: ‘We Have Far More in Common than What Divides Us’

Thomas D. Williams, Breitbart

To the delight of some and the consternation of others, bestselling author and pastor of the Saddleback community megachurch, Rick Warren is endorsing closer union between Evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholics.

170189260This past summer, Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) reportedly stole uranium compounds from Mosul University in Iraq. Writing to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on July 8, Iraqi UN Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim said that 88 pounds of uranium used for scientific research at Mosul University had been looted. Now, some militants associated with the group are claiming they have built a “dirty bomb” and are targeting London. Is this cause for serious concern?

Not really. Here’s why.

Since the advent of the Atomic Age in the 1940s, catastrophic nuclear events— Hiroshima, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl—have caused the general public to develop a deep-rooted fear of radiation. The new threats brought about by the specter of terrorism, particularly the concept of the radiological dispersion bomb (aka “dirty bomb”), have only increased this “radiophobia.”

Such terror threats are indeed real and we must constantly take precautions to prevent such attacks as we would any bombing. But we also have a moral and civic duty to prepare ourselves, both physically and—even more importantly—psychologically, should such an attack take place on our homeland.

When it comes to dirty bombs, the true power of such a device lies not in its ability to spread radiation but in its ability to spread panic and fear. As we’ve seen in the ear can lead to citizens and their governments to restrict freedoms in a ways that far exceed the threats imposed by actual terrorist attacks.

In order to defuse this anxiety we therefore need to develop an awareness of the myths and realities about radiation exposure:
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The Acton Institute was privileged to host William B. Allen earlier this week as he delivered a lecture as part of the 2014 Acton Lecture Series. His address, entitled “American National Character and the Future of Liberty,” was a powerful examination of America’s national character, beginning with George Washington’s declaration in 1783 that “we have a national character to establish,” to Frederick Jackson Turner’s work 110 years later on “The Significance of the Frontier in American History,” to the progressive project to shape and shift our national character throughout the 20th century up until today. Allen’s lecture is truly a university-level class on American history and political philosophy, and bears repeated watching in order to fully grasp the depth of his presentation.

William B. Allen is Emeritus Professor of Political Philosophy in the Department of Political Science and Emeritus Dean, James Madison College, at Michigan State University. He served previously on the United States National Council for the Humanities and as Chairman and Member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights. Additionally, he serves as Veritas Fund Senior Fellow in the Matthew J. Ryan Center for the Study of Free Institutions and the Public Good at Villanova University and also as Visiting Professor, Ashland University, Ashbrook Center, Master’s in History and American Government.

_70189222_464_unemployedSeries Note: Jobs are one of the most important aspects of a morally functioning economy. They help us serve the needs of our neighbors and lead to human flourishing both for the individual and for communities. Conversely, not having a job can adversely affect spiritual and psychological well-being of individuals and families. Because unemployment is a spiritual problem, Christians in America need to understand and be aware of the monthly data on employment. Each month highlight the latest numbers we need to know (see also: What Christians Should Know About Unemployment).

Positive news is marked with the plus sign (+) while negative employment data is marked with a minus sign (-). No change is marked by (NC).
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It’s not the 12 Days of Christmas yet, but we have a sale in our Book Shop that will get you ready to celebrate.  Every day a new item will go on sale through December 15 and the discounted price will last until January 5.  Since paying a shipping fee for ordering on multiple days is troublesome, these daily sale items have free shipping.  If you order by December 15 you will receive the item by Christmas.

The first three days of items are available:

Click the banner below to visit our Christmas deals page.  The ’12 Day’ items are listed first on the page and are labeled with a badge.

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In a remarkable collaborative effort led by Dan Stevers involving 11 Christian animators and artists, the YHWH Project has released its final product: a sweeping and striking short film that paints a beautiful portrait of God’s abundant love and active presence.

Watch it here:

I’m reminded of that powerful bit by Alexander Schmemann: “All that exists is God’s gift to man, and it all exists to make God known to man, to make man’s life communion with God…God blesses everything He creates, and, in biblical language, this means that He makes all creation the sign and means of His presence and wisdom, love and revelation.” (more…)