nigeria-boko-haramWhat’s going on in Nigeria?

During an attack that started January 3 and continued through this past weekend, the African Islamic militant group Boko Haram opened fire on 16 northern Nigerian villages. The death toll estimates range from 200 to as many 2,000 people.

Another 10,000 people who managed to escape have fled to neighboring Chad. Many Nigerians drowned in an attempt to cross Lake Chad to escape what is now described as  the “deadliest massacre” in the history of Boko Haram.

Over the past six months, Boko Haram has taken control of more than two dozen towns in northeast Nigeria, most of them in Borno State, and launched attacks into Chad and Cameroon. As Alexis Okeowo notes, their territory now nearly equals the Islamic State’s in Iraq and Syria.

What happened this weekend?

A girl believed to have been no more than 10 years old detonated a bomb concealed under her veil at a crowded northern Nigeria market on Saturday, killing as many as 20 people and wounding many more.

The explosion is believed to be a new tactic in the Islamists’ campaign with Boko Haram’s decision to use perhaps their youngest-ever suicide bomber.

What was the recent criticism by the Catholic archbishop?
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Michael Keaton in "Birdman"

Michael Keaton in “Birdman”

It is award season in Hollywood. Nearly every weekend for the next few months, there will be a parade on some red carpet, commentators bashing some actress on her wardrobe choice, and self-aggrandizing speeches from people who seem to know little about life outside of a West Coast mansion and an East Coast apartment.

Last night, at the Golden Globes, one speech stood out. Michael Keaton has worked steadily for years as an actor, but has never been recognized as one of the greats in his field. He’s best known for a regrettable turn as Batman, and as an obnoxious ghost in Beetlejuice. However, Keaton has garnered acclaim for his role in Birdman, playing a washed-actor who attempts a career comeback on Broadway. Last night, Keaton won best actor in a motion picture, comedy or musical at the Golden Globes. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, January 12, 2015
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To Be A French Jew Right Now
Cécile Chambraud and Amos Reichman, Worldcrunch

The Jewish community in Paris lived through the manhunt for the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks on the Charlie Hebdo magazine in a state of extreme tension. The hostage-taking Friday in a Kosher supermarket, which resulted in the death of four Jewish men, confirmed their worst fears.

Multicultural Suicide
Victor Davis Hanson, Works and Days

Fueling the Western paralysis in dealing with radical Islam is the late 20th century doctrine of multiculturalism. Multiculturalism is one of those buzzwords that does not mean what it should. The ancient and generic Western study of many cultures is not multiculturalism.

Up From Superficial Christian Compassion
Mark Tooley, The American Spectator

Reflections on Christian social justice and eternity.

What is the Future for a Post-Liberal Europe?
Richard Reinsch, Library of Law and Liberty

The weaknesses displayed by many in the defense of free speech, and of the institutions that regularly exercise and depend on that right, has not led to greater peace or to tolerance. The killing of journalists working for a newspaper long known for its satirical work in a ruthlessly efficient, military-style operation is nothing less than a direct attack on the essence of a free society.

I grew up with the attitude that wealth was measured by whether the sun was shining and the fish were biting and whether my belly was full and the family larder stocked with canned vegetables and fruit as well as fresh meat and poultry raised on our tiny 80-acre farm in Michigan. To quote Dylan Thomas: “And the sabbath rang slowly / In the pebbles of the holy streams.” Certainly there were items and conditions we desired, desires often unmet but with little or no detriment to my siblings and me. When one of us would watch a TV commercial, and lament the absence of any given material possession in our respective lives, our mother would tell us: “If ifs and buts were fudge and nuts we’d all have a Merry Christmas.” For his part, dad would say: “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.”

These phrases also hold true when applied to the repeated proxy shareholder resolutions of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. If both my parents still were alive, and the figurative Fern Hill of my youth once again in their possession, I’d suggest to the religious investors of ICCR hold a retreat on the premises. My parents could’ve instructed the good nuns and clergy that their “ifs and buts” and “wishes” related to reducing carbon emissions, if successful, would make energy beggars of us all, reduced to riding horses or bicycles.

Although recent reports indicate U.S. households will spend an estimated average $550 less on gasoline in 2015, ICCR seems to say while endeavoring to drive up energy costs by demanding economically indefensible measures. Among ICCR’s current efforts is backing the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan, which aims to cut 30 percent of emissions by electric power plants. (more…)

Yesterday, in a short, videotaped preview of his upcoming State of the Union address, President Obama unveiled a new proposal: Make two years of community college free for all students who meet certain eligibility standards.

Here is what you should know about the proposal.

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“Stewardship is far more than the handling of our money. Stewardship is the handling of life, and time, and destiny.” –Lester DeKoster and Gerard Berghoef

Faithful in All God's HouseStewardship as a term is tossed around rather widely and routinely, and even (or especially) in church settings, its presumed definition is often surprisingly narrow. Though often used in reference to tithing, fundraising, or financial management (and rightly so), we mustn’t forget that at a more basic level, stewardship is simply about our management of God’s house. All of his house.

“God makes man the master of his temporal household,” write Lester DeKoster and Gerard Berghoef in Faithful in All God’s House. “Like all stewards, man is not the owner. He is the overseer…The quality of stewardship depends on obedience to the Master’s will.”

As Evan Koons learns in Episode 1 of For the Life of the World: Letters to the Exiles, our various earthly economies— or the “modes of operation that God has designed us to work within” — include our families, jobs, governments, schools, charities, and institutions. Each area has its own distinct role, its own distinct “sound,” its own mode of operation. But each was meant to played in harmony with others. God calls us to be stewards across all of life, and assuming that responsibility begins with expanding our imaginations.

Over at Oikonomia, the Acton Institute’s new blog at the Patheos Faith and Work Channel, the first chapter of Faithful in All God’s House is offered in full, helping lay a basic foundation on how we might consider the reach of these things. (more…)

_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 significant change is marked by (NC).
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Blog author: jcarter
Friday, January 9, 2015
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Government Shouldn’t Force Religious Schools to Violate Religious Beliefs
Ryan T. Anderson, The Daily Signal

Just before the Christmas break, the D.C. City Council passed a law that could force pro-life organizations to pay for abortion coverage. But that wasn’t the only piece of bad legislation, violating religious liberty which came out of the D.C. Council in December.

Men Without Chests: How C.S. Lewis Predicted Charlie Hebdo Censorship
Sean Davis, The Federalist

History, theology, and even grammar must bow bow before the altar of terrorism.

The Left’s Unpopular Populism
Amitai Etzioni , The Atlantic

Elizabeth Warren and her Democratic allies should not fool themselves into thinking that Americans who are angry at elites and corporations also favor wealth redistribution.

Why the tsetse fly might be the cause of Africa’s under-development
Tim Fernholz, Quartz

Why has Africa lagged behind other regions in economic development? Part of the problem is a parasite that is endemic to the continent and found nowhere else—and according to a new study (pdf) just published in the American Economic Review, it created social conditions that hindered prosperity there even before the European colonists arrived.

counting-penniesIn the Federalist Papers James Madison noted that “the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society.”

Madison’s observations continues to be proven correct. Even factors such as whether a person has a checking or savings account is strongly correlated with nearly every measure of political engagement, including which dominant political “faction”—Democrat or Republican—they’ll identify with.

But as a new Pew Research study finds, those who are financially insecure are tending to opt out of the political system altogether. In 2014, only about half (54 percent) of the least financially secure were registered to vote while almost all of the most financially secure Americans (94 percent) were registered. Financially insecure Americans are also far less likely than those at the top of the security scale to be politically engaged in other ways:
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Blog author: ehilton
Thursday, January 8, 2015
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A Syrian refugee tries to keep her newborn infants warm

A Syrian refugee tries to keep her newborn infants warm

It is currently 3 degrees where I am. That is without the wind chill. (If you do not know what “wind chill” is, consider yourself blessed.) It is literally too cold to be outside for any length of time without danger of frostbite.

And yet, I’m not complaining. Syrian refugees in the Middle East have it much worse. Some three million Syrians are trying to cope with life in Lebanon refugee camps: tents with no heat, no wood to burn, little or no food, all in the midst of cold and snow. They have fled civil war in Syria, which began with the Arab Spring of 2011 and continues with military sieges and rebellion. (more…)