co-bot“We’re going to need to see your birth certificate,” the manager said, making a notation on my employment application, “But you’re hired. Show up a 10 a.m. on Thursday for training.”

I was too young and dumb to realize he was calling my bluff. I had to be 16 to take the job and I could barely pass for 14 (which I wouldn’t be for a another month). Yet instead of pointing out that I was lying about my age (which, obviously, I was), he figured he’d mark me down in the hired column and assume I’d be one of the dozen new people to not show up for the first day of work.

But I did show up, because I had nothing better to do. I was spending the summer with relatives in Houston, and to get me out of the house my aunt suggested I apply at McDonald’s. A new franchise had just opened and hiring almost anyone who applied. Fast-food outlets have a high worker turnover and new stores have any higher rates of attrition. The hiring manager knew he’d need to hire at least three times as many people they knew that most people wouldn’t last more than a week before getting quitting.

And that’s how I got my first factory job.


Blog author: dpahman
Wednesday, October 5, 2016

In an Acton Commentary two years ago, I wrote about the significance of toil:

In the midst of the now-common Christian affirmation of all forms of work as God-given vocations, the image of Sisyphus, vainly pushing his boulder up a hill in Hades, only to watch it roll back down again, might serve to remind us of the reality of toil, the other side of the coin. While human labor does have a divine calling, we do not labor apart from “thorns and thistles” and “in the sweat of [our] face” (Genesis 3:18-19).

As for the good side of work in general, I can’t think of a better illustration than this clip from For the Life of the World:

This shows the amazing reality of how everything we interact with is the fruit of the labor of others. It connects us to them and ought to inspire a deep gratitude for that fellowship.

But then there’s Sisyphus. (more…)

The oxygen masks dropped as the plane began to drop in altitude and lose cabin pressure. As he and his friends applied the masks, Reid Kapple began to wonder if the end was near.

Thankfully, the plane stabilized and landed safely, but for Kapple, a pastor in Kansas City, the experience stuck with him. A few months later, during a sermon series at his church on faith and work, Kapple was reminded of the mask and how great a contribution a small product can make to the common good.

“The Lord was doing something in my heart and mind by granting me this kind of imagination for the way in which the work of literally millions of people serves to bless me and make my life better,” Kapple says. “I was immediately reminded of the oxygen mask.”

Kapple began to see the bigger picture of work and creative service in the context of widespread economic exchange. In a new video from Made to Flourish, he tells his story. (more…)

Makers of Modern Christian Social Thought Cover Front DraftThe contrast between the treatments by David Bentley Hart and Dylan Pahman of the question of the intrinsic evil of “great personal wealth” this week pretty well established, I think, that in itself wealth is among the things neither forbidden nor absolutely required. In fact, as Pahman puts it at one point, perhaps “Christians should strive to have wealth from which to provide for others.”

But all this is to merely show that wealth isn’t absolutely forbidden. From this it does not follow that we can merely do whatever we want or simply seek to gain as much as we can. Riches do remain a temptation, however, and a powerful one at that.

In this week’s Acton Commentary, the Dutch theologian and statesman Abraham Kuyper expounds in some detail the power of money to corrupt us and turn us away from God. The temptation is unavoidable because of the way in which money can mimic God. As Kuyper puts it, “In money, there rules a power that closely approaches God’s omnipotence, at least insofar as the satisfaction of the needs and wants of one’s outer life is concerned.”

These warnings from Kuyper about the abuse of money and its power to enthrall us come from one of his later works, the first volume of Pro Rege, part of a three-volume series that focuses on restoring the Christian understanding of the lordship of Christ and its implications for all of life (these volumes are also part of the larger Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology).

One of Kuyper’s other works dealing with wealth, poverty, and economics is his earlier speech at the opening of the 1891 Christian Social Congress in Amsterdam. And earlier that same year Pope Leo XIII had promulgated the encyclical letter Rerum Novarum. Together these two texts usher in an era of modern Christian social thought and they sound very similar notes on the challenge represented by “the social question,” or the relationship between labor and capital.

Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy In America is renowned as one of the best examinations of early American society and politics, and remains one of the most insightful commentaries ever written on the practice of democracy in the United States. In this edition of Radio Free Acton, we are joined by John Wilsey, Assistant Professor of History and Christian Apologetics at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, to discuss Tocqueville’s masterwork and its continuing relevance for modern America.

We also discuss the work of Tocqueville’s traveling companion, Gustave de Beaumont, who wrote another important work that perhaps should be seen as a companion to Democracy In America: a novel entitled Marie, or Slavery in the United States, which examines the darker side of 1830s America.

Wilsey is also the author of books examining the ideas of “Christian America” and American Exceptionalism, both of which are highly recommended: One Nation Under God?: An Evangelical Critique of Christian America and American Exceptionalism and Civil Religion: Reassessing the History of an Idea.

You can listen to the podcast via the audio player below.


Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Tradinistas: Angry, Churchy Millennials Who Scorn Freedom and Demand a Guaranteed Income for Breathing
John Zmirak, The Stream

For years, I have been warning of a rising movement among younger, self-styled “orthodox” Catholics (and some other Christians) which rejects important moral truths and embraces crude economic errors.

Back to the Roots: The Founders & the Separation of Church and State
John Rossomando, The Imaginative Conservative

Like all historical documents, the Bill of Rights must be read within the context of what its framers meant when they penned the establishment clause. To get inside the minds of the authors, we must first recall the period in which they wrote.

Bigger Government (Still) Doesn’t Foster Economic Growth
Daniel J. Mitchell, FEE

The bottom line is that small government and free markets is the recipe for growth and prosperity in all nations.

IMF warns of protectionist threat to global growth
Douglas Gillison, AFP

The IMF on Tuesday left its global economic forecasts unchanged into 2017 but called on governments to take action against the threats of low growth and protectionism.

“Our problem [with education] today is not to enforce conformity; it is rather that we are threatened with an excess of conformity. Our problem is to foster diversity.” –Milton Friedman, Capitalism & Freedom

800px-France_in_XXI_Century._SchoolThe education reform movement has set forth a range of strategies to combat the leviathan of public education. Yet more often than not, those solutions are couched only with boilerplate about the glories of markets and competition.

There is plenty of truth behind such rhetoric, but as Greg Forster outlines in an extensive series of articles at EdChoice, a revival in education policy and educational institutions is going to require much more than free-market talking points and surface-level solutions.

“It’s not that the things we’re saying are wrong,” he writes. “We just aren’t getting to the heart of the matter because we are not challenging our nation to re-ask itself the big questions about education: What is the purpose of education? Who has final responsibility for it and why?”

Indeed, while our aversion to technocratic solutions has prodded us to focus on things like improving accountability, expanding competition, and removing barriers to information, many of the subsequent reforms have fallen prey to the same technocratic temptations. As Forster reminds us, in education, “technocracy fails more importantly because it is based on a wrong understanding of what education is for.” (more…)