Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, March 19, 2015
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Misguided UCLA debate over bias of believers
Adèle Keim, San Francisco Chronicle

“Given that you are a Jewish student and very active in the Jewish community, how do you see yourself being able to maintain an unbiased view?” That sentence, uttered last month by a UCLA undergraduate evaluating a Jewish student-government candidate, has ignited a firestorm.

Why Net Neutrality Regulations Should Concern You
Ed Feulner, The Daily Signal

There’s a reason the words “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help” are a punchline. Government involvement rarely helps. In many instances, in fact, it exacerbates the situation.

Lord of the Permanent Things
Jonathan Witt and Jay W. Richards, Intercollegiate Review

Scholars have spent decades debating the literary and theological significance of his novels. There’s been less careful treatment of Tolkien’s political and economic thought, even though, as Tolkien commentator Joseph Pearce has put it, the longer novel’s “political significance” is “second only to the religious in its importance.”

First they came for the women. Then they came for the Christians. Then they came for the nuns.
Dr. (Sr.) Ananda Amritmahal, Quartz

Shock. Horror. Outrage. Another church burnt, another place of worship desecrated. Another group of Christians attacked.

rubio-leeWhat is the Rubio-Lee Plan?

The plan—officially titled the “Economic Growth and Family Fairness Tax Plan”—is a white paper in which Senators Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) lay out a tax reform proposal they believes will “resolve these major problems in the tax code.”

What’s in the plan?

The plan has two main sections, one “pro-growth” and one “pro-family.” The pro-growth side of the plan includes seven recommended changes:
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cogIn a recent piece for the Wall Street Journal, Rachel Feintzeig sets her sights on the latest trends in corporate “mission statements,” focusing on a variety of employer campaigns to “inject meaning into the daily grind, connecting profit-driven endeavors to grand consequences for mankind.”

Companies have long cited lofty mission statements as proof they have concerns beyond the bottom line, and in the past decade tech firms like Google Inc. attracted some of the economy’s brightest workers by inviting recruits to come and change the world by writing lines of code or managing projects.

Now, nearly every product or service from motorcycles to Big Macs seems capable of transforming humanity, at least according to some corporations. The words “mission,” “higher purpose,” “change the world” or “changing the world” were mentioned on earnings calls, in investor meetings and industry conferences 3,243 times in 2014, up from 2,318 five years ago, according to a Factiva search.

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Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
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Christians and College Debt
Samuel James, Patheos

This story poses an important moral dilemma for Christian collegians, many of whom find themselves in exactly the kind of financial straits described above.

Study: Americans are mostly OK with the government’s online snooping
Mike Murphy, Quartz

For the most part, Americans seem to have greeted the revelations about government snooping from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden with a shrug.

Does the Minimum Wage Hurt the People It’s Trying to Help?
Anne Bradley, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

Ultimately, minimum wage laws disrupt the natural market process. They choose winners and losers, and the losers face increasingly restricted choices and higher prices.

NYC’s plan for prayer break in pre-K classes raises concerns
Associated Press

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ambitious plan to expand public pre-kindergarten for all 4 year-olds depends in part on the participation of Jewish, Christian and Muslim schools, under a proposal that would permit religious instruction and prayers during midday breaks.

men-waiting-outside-soup-kitchenThe people of Seattle recently voted to put their poorest residents out of work by increasing the minimum wage to $15 over the next seven years. But wealthier residents may soon find out just how quickly it will affect them too. A number of area restaurants are already shutting down, and many others will soon closing their doors. As Anthony Anton, president and CEO of Washington Restaurant Association, says, “It’s not a political problem; it’s a math problem.”

[Anton] estimates that a common budget breakdown among sustaining Seattle restaurants so far has been the following: 36 percent of funds are devoted to labor, 30 percent to food costs and 30 percent go to everything else (all other operational costs). The remaining 4 percent has been the profit margin, and as a result, in a $700,000 restaurant, he estimates that the average restaurateur in Seattle has been making $28,000 a year.

With the minimum wage spike, however, he says that if restaurant owners made no changes, the labor cost in quick service restaurants would rise to 42 percent and in full service restaurants to 47 percent.

“Everyone is looking at the model right now, asking how do we do math?” he says. “Every operator I’m talking to is in panic mode, trying to figure out what the new world will look like.” Regarding amount of labor, at 14 employees, a Washington restaurant already averages three fewer workers than the national restaurant average (17 employees). Anton anticipates customers will definitely be tested with new menu prices and more. “Seattle is the first city in this thing and everyone’s watching, asking how is this going to change?”

You may have the smartest lawyers on retainer, the most-connected lobbyists on your payroll, and the most powerful politicians in your pocket, but it won’t help you change the law of unintended consequences. When you muck around and make changes to a complex system—such as labor pricing—you’re bound to create problems like the one’s Seattle’s restaurateurs will be facing. The law of unintended consequences always gets the final say.

If it were a matter of mere ignorance this new law might be excusable. If the supporters of the $15 minimum wage were able to honestly say, “We couldn’t have known raising the wage would put people out of work” we could let them off the hook. But they knew—or should have known—because it has been pointed out to them time and time again.
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R&L_25-1In the fall of 2014, business people, scholars, and theologians converged on the campus of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for the Symposium on Common Grace in Business. The event was conceived and co-sponsored by the Calvin business department and the Acton Institute as a way of highlighting Abraham Kuyper’s theological work on common grace – the grace God extends to everyone that enables him or her to do good – to the business world. The gathering was also a celebration of Acton’s translation and publication in English of volume one of Kuyper’s seminal three-volume work on common grace (De Gemeene Gratie).

We’re leading this Winter 2015 issue of Religion & Liberty with a roundtable discussion by three prominent business people who discuss how common grace has a direct, and transformative, application in their workaday lives.

Also in this issue, Ray Nothstine reviews Thomas C. Oden’s autobiography A Change of Heart: A Personal and Theological Memoir. The book chronicles how one of the twentieth century’s most celebrated liberals made a dramatic turn away from pacifism, ecumenism and psychotherapy toward the great minds of ancient Christianity.

Critics of the market economy often say it inevitably leads to Black Friday stampedes and gross materialism. We counter with an excerpt from Rev. Gregory Jensen’s forthcoming Acton monograph The Cure for Consumerism. (more…)

lovely guinnessFor those so inclined, St. Patrick’s Day is a great day to enjoy a pint of Guinness. The legendary beer of Ireland has not only a rich taste, but a rich history.

Arthur Guinness was a brewer and entrepreneur in a time when clean drinking water was hard to find in Dublin. Alcoholic beverages were the norm. While alcohol is preferred to polluted water, it also has the unhealthy effects of drunkenness. Beer was deemed a healthier alternative to homemade concoctions and hard alcohol, and Arthur Guinness set about perfecting the ideal brew.

Guinness was also a man of God. One Sunday morning, while attending St. Patrick’s Cathedral with his family, Guinness heard John Wesley speak.

We do not know exactly what Wesley preached, but we can know a few things. Wesley would have called the congregation at St. Patrick’s to God, of course, but he also would have had a special message for men like Guinness. It was something he taught wherever he went. “Earn all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can,” he would have insisted. “Your wealth is evidence of a calling from God, so use your abundance for the good of mankind.” (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
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Did St. Patrick really drive all the snakes out of Ireland? Was he ever canonized a saint? Was he even Irish?

In this short video Timothy Paul Jones answers those questions and more.

organharvesting2Trafficking in human organs is, sadly, one of the fastest growing criminal activities today. Often, victims are told they have an illness that requires the removal of a kidney or are offered large sums of money, which they often never collect.

Kidneys are a popular item for trafficking, partly because of demand and partly because it does not require the death of the “donor.” The United Nations is now investigating charges that ISIS is trafficking in organs.

The Iraqi ambassador, Mohamed Alhakim, on Tuesday urged the Security Council to investigate the deaths of 12 doctors in Mosul, Iraq. He said they were killed after refusing to remove organs from bodies.

‘Some of the bodies we found are mutilated … that means some parts are missing,’ he told reporters, adding that there were openings in the back of the bodies where the kidneys would be located.

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Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
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Why Don’t American Protestants Care That Middle Eastern Christians Are Dying?
Kazimierz Bem, OnFaith

Liberal Protestants are remaining silent, essentially condoning the actions of ISIS.

Read the words of an Orthodox bishop kidnapped in Syria nearly two years ago
The Catholic World Report

On April 22, 2013, both the Greek and Syriac Orthodox archbishops of Aleppo, Boulos Yazigi and Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, were kidnapped in Syria near the Turkish border. Their driver, Deacon Fatha’ Allah Kabboud, was killed.

Pope Francis Predicts His Papacy Will Be Brief
Elisabetta Povoledo, New York Times

On the second anniversary of the start of his papacy, Pope Francis announced that the Roman Catholic Church would mark an extraordinary Holy Year in December, though he might not be celebrating many more anniversaries in the future.

Right to Work Is About More Than Politics
Reihan Salam, The Corner

Just as a growing number of states embrace right-to-work laws, as John Fund recently observed, Democrats are placing a heavier emphasis on defending the interests of organized labor, according to Lydia DePillis and Jim Tankersley of the Washington Post.