Two Cents Blog Archive

Playing the classics, 24/7

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07.29.11 Winning Young Voters by Stephen Richer

Margaret Hoover is determined to prove James Carville wrong.

In 2009, Carville predicted Democratic hegemony for the next 40 years as the result of two words: “young people.” Judged by national elections since 2006, Carville’s assertion seems pretty well-grounded—Democrats have retained control of the majority of the elected branches, and they have done so in part thanks to the overwhelming support of young voters…

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07.28.11 Christians and Climate Change by Paul Mueller

I was saddened and frustrated by this article about global warm… er… I mean climate change written in the name of Christianity. This is exactly the problem I see among Christians on the right and the left. Their ends are laudable but their analysis and policy recommendations are wrong or misguided.

Now, I agree with their concern about the health of the environment. All things being equal, polluting, wasting, and destroying natural resources and ecosystems does not honor God and is not wise. All things are not equal, however, so we need to be realistic in how we apply this. For example, we pollute every time we drive our cars or fly in an airplane. Is that dishonoring to God? If not, why not? That is a question we need to address. But first I want to look at the claims of this article one point at a time.

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07.27.11 Proverbs: Thoughts on Wealth by RJ Moeller

I’m a simple guy. I like vanilla ice cream. I like baseball. I listen to classical music. I enjoy home-cooked meals and scaring the people of my residential neighborhood by taking my menacing-looking-but-utterly-harmless-to-a-fault Rottweiler for an evening constitutional.

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07.26.11 Equality, Envy, and Idolatry by Isaac Morehouse

The poor in the US are doing very well compared to the poor in Kenya and enjoy things like quality housing, access to health care, basic education, and enough food so that obesity is their biggest nutritional threat. The rich in this country are also far better off than the rich in Kenya. There is a big difference in wealth between the richest and the poorest in both countries. This is clear evidence that the rich in the US need to be taxed more.

That’s essentially the case presented by Nate Roberts at Recovering Evangelical. Let’s restate the premises and conclusion of his argument…

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07.25.11 Fair Trade Fast Food? By Joseph Sunde

Back when I was just a pimply young 15-year-old, my parents urged me to get a job for the summer. Given today’s pesky child labor laws, my options were relatively few, but after a bit of searching, I eventually beheld on my horizon those ever-illustrious golden arches.

That’s right. The best I could get was a couple hours per day at Mickey D’s (“And no more! Per state law!”), taking orders, cleaning bathrooms, and assuming any other menial task that wouldn’t risk further restrictive legislation (“Stay away from those fryers, kid!”).

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07.22.11 If We Can Keep It by Jacqueline Otto

In one of the most theatrical and oft-retold pieces of early American lore, a woman approaches Benjamin Franklin after the Constitutional Convention and inquires about what the delegates had created. Franklin replies, “A republic madam, if you can keep it.”

Failing Liberty 101 author William Damon argues that for the first time in our nation’s history, the forthcoming generation of Americans are neither qualified to nor interested in preserving the American republic.

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07.21.11 The RJ Moeller Show: Jay Richards

On this short podcast, R.J. talks with Jay Richards, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute. Richards has previously been affiliated with the American Enterprise Institute, The Heritage Foundation, and the Acton Institute. He’s authored several books, including Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism is the Solution and Not the Problem. Listen to the podcast here, or download here.

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07.21.11 Means vs. Ends by Paul Mueller

How can Christians navigate the turbulent waters of politics and public policy?

I often wonder this as I read through websites and blogs about Christianity and politics. Should Christians generally support liberal causes? Should they generally support conservative causes? Should they be somewhere in the “middle” as one organization suggests and follow the mold of Ron Sider and Evangelicals for Social Action?

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07.20.11 Social Justice Begins at Home by Joy Pullmann

I thieved the title of this post from its inspiration, another by David French on Patheos describing how Christians can implement social justice starting with ourselves and our homes. It also describes and expands research I’ve mentioned about the societal benefits of marriage and intact families. I thought it a mind-provoking follow-up to our last series, and a good introduction to this post attempting the same (though I think it will be my last on the topic for a while to avoid boring us all).

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07.19.11 America’s Full House is Back by Alexis Hamilton

Many 20-somethings who look upon the phrase “Full House” and experience nostalgia for the days when they watched a more innocent Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen play the TV character of Michelle, who tottered beside Dad, Joey, Jesse, and company, may now be living their own real-life version of the hit TV series, according to March 2010 census data from the Pew Research Center.

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07.19.11 A Gift That Keeps On Taking: How “Free” Kills by Wesley Gant

Arthur Brooks, in his lecture to college students at the first “Purpose & Prosperity” conference, emphasized the concept of earned success. He put foreword a challenge that struck me as both unique and incredibly insightful: “never take unearned money.”

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07.18.11 Mortensen, Madonna, and Saving the World by Chris Horst

Picture this scene: You are dining at a new restaurant. The server hastily distributes the plates and departs with a sarcastic, “Enjoy!” You sample each portion of the meal, but with every passing bite, your disappointment swells. The sautéed chicken is undercooked and flavorless. The corn risotto is pasty and infused with inexcusable quantities of black pepper. Wilting iceberg lettuce and gobs of artery-clogging dressing compose a poor façade of a salad.

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07.18.11 A Jubilee From Good Intentions by RJ Moeller

I must admit that growing up in the evangelical Christian world I, like many, assumed that free market capitalism was at least somewhat incongruent with the worldview of a faithful believer. I assumed, mostly out of a combination of ignorance and well-orchestrated indoctrination, that “capitalism = greed” and “big-government liberalism = compassion.”

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07.11.11 The $1,000,000 Question by Jacqueline Otto

Would you give up the internet for 1 million dollars?

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07.08.11 Friday Five

On Friday afternoons, we bring you the best of our blog and the best of the web. This week’s five include Would You Give Up the Internet for 1 Million Dollars?The RJ Moeller Show: Marvin OlaskyAmerica, the ExceptionalLiberty Academy, and Minimum Wage Law Backfires in American Samoa.

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07.08.11 The Virtue of Innovation by Daniel Suhr

Can it be a sin to not start a company?  Or to have an idea for a product and fail to bring it to market?

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the number two man on the Vatican org chart beneath only the pope, suggested the answer could be yes in recent remarks. That is one of several interesting observations to draw from his recent address to the Executive Summit on Ethics for the Business World, which was cosponsored by the curial council concerned with social justice.

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07.07.11 The RJ Moeller Show: Marvin Olasky

On this episode, Dr. Marvin Olasky, provost of The King’s College and editor-in-chief of World Magazine joins the show. Here are links to some items R.J. and Dr. Olasky discuss:

  • The World Magazine podcast where Olasky describes his intellectual and spiritual conversion
  • A debate between Olasky and Jim Wallis at Cedarville University
  • Arthur Brooks’s recent book, The Battle
  • Olasky’s new book, a graphic novel titled 2048

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07.07.11 When We Don’t Marry… by Joy Pullmann

I can sum our problem for you in one sentence: Society dissolves when people don’t marry. Yes, dissolves. And I am not an apocalypse-monger. We don’t keep six months of food in the basement. We don’t own a gun (yet). I didn’t believe Jesus was coming back when Harold Camping said he was. I thought Left Behind was dumb (though I read eleven of the books … please don’t ask why).

But if family forms the core of society—and it does—when there is no family, there is no society. In this series, we’ve talked about why people should marry, why fewer are, and today we turn to the social and economic implications of this trend.

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07.06.11 A Focus on Human Potential

Two Cents blogger Joseph Sunde has written on PovertyCure (a project of the Acton Institute) over at his blog, Remnant Culture:

“The newly expanded web site contains a variety of valuable media resources, along with a mission statement and list of key issues that are strikingly on-target. Overall, it’s refreshing to see an anti-poverty campaign so unabashedly centered on human potential rather than human despair—one that seeks to build on truths we know rather than merely pacify or tame social chaos in the immediate.”

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07.06.11 America, the Exceptional by Eric Teetsel

Jonathan Merritt had an opportunity in his most recent piece for Relevant.com to correct a prevalent misconception of the complex concept of American exceptionalism. But he whiffed.

First, Jonathan Merritt is a friend and a leader among evangelicals. He’s authored one book—a second is on the way—and dozens of articles, while pastoring a church and finishing two master’s degrees. It is precisely because Merritt is poised for influence in the church that his misunderstanding of such a fundamental aspect of American culture merits a corrective response.

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07.05.11 The RJ Moeller Show: A Very Acton Special

This episode of The R.J. Moeller Show podcast is a bonus hour from conversations with attendees of the Acton University conference last month in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The first segment is an interview with Alan Shlemon who works for the Christian organization Stand to Reason.

The second half of the hour is a dialogue between R.J., Matt Levon, and friends-of-the-show Britton Smith, Drew Cleveland, and fellow Two Cents blogger Joseph Sunde. As always, listen here—or better yet, download here.

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07.05.11 Coaches: Good for Life by Greg Lane

In the United States, roughly one in ten kids are growing up in a single-parent home. The divorce rate among first marriages is 40 percent or more, and 40 percent of all births in the U.S. are coming out of wedlock. The consequences of the collapse of the family are well-documented. Of course, challenges also exist for children born into strong and wealthy families. Regardless of the situation for a given child, many youth—roughly 41 million each year—will spend time under the supervision of an adult with a unique title: Coach.

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07.01.11 Friday Five

On Friday afternoons, we bring you the best of our blog and the best of the web. This week, our bloggers and others make the case for free enterprise.

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07.01.11 The RJ Moeller Show

The RJ Moeller Show: Adam Carolla

Don’t miss The R.J. Moeller show’s latest episode with comedian Adam Carolla! Our resident blogger shows how an evangelical conservative and an atheist libertarian can find common ground on cultural issues. Adam Carolla’s podcast is the most downloaded ever — about 59 million downloads in the last two years. Follow this link to listen to the podcast, or download it from iTunes!

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06.30.11 Airplanes and Shooting Stars by Jacqueline Otto

Can we pretend that airplanes in the night sky are like shooting stars? I could really use a wish right now.

“Airplanes” (the second single by B.o.B featuring the amazingly talented Haley Williams of Paramore) went triple-platinum in the United States after its release in 2010.

The song gained popularity due to its hitting many significant social themes, but it was timely for another reason as well. For the first time in history, a person really may be more likely to see an airplane in the sky than an actual shooting star.

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06.29.11 Purpose & Prosperity 2011 Conference Recap

On June 9-11, 2011, we hosted a conference here at the American Enterprise Institute entitled “Purpose & Prosperity: Exploring the Confluence of Faith, Economics, and Public Policy.”

Over 60 students from 15 schools, 20 faculty members, 4 AEI staffers, and 2 pink flamingos gathered in DC to discuss the relationship between values and capitalism. From Thursday evening to Saturday afternoon, we discussed issues including environmental policy, social security, how trade works, and the morality of democratic capitalism.

Video is available here. And the winning post from the conference blog contest is available here.

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06.28.11 Charity, Fairness, and Duty by Paul Mueller

As we think about the poor, the rich, the disadvantaged, and ourselves, I want to clarify two terms that are often confused; namely charity and fairness. Charity is usually defined as providing help or relief, often monetarily, to those in need. Fairness, on the other hand, is much more difficult to define. As I was searching fordefinitions of the word I found many that contradict each other. I think this accounts for some friendly criticism I received from a blogger at The Lesson Applied. So instead of focusing on that vague word as I did previously, let me make my point clear through an example.

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06.27.11 The RJ Moeller Show: Episode XVII

Be sure to catch the latest episode of The RJ Moeller show, recorded from the Acton Institue’s annual Acton University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Eric Teetsel joined Two Cents blogger and podcast host RJ Moeller to discuss everything from reactions to the recent GOP debate to rapper Lupe Fiasco’s inflammatory comments on the president and terrorism.

Follow this link to listen to the podcast, or download it from iTunes!

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06.27.11 The Magic Washing Machine by Jacqueline Otto

Hans Rosling’s lecture is a beautiful testament to the benefits of modernization.

“So what is the magic of the machine? My mother explained the magic of the machine to me the very first day we got it. She said, ‘Now Hans, we have loaded the laundry, the machine will make the work, and now we can go to the library.’ This is the magic, we loaded the laundry. And what do you get out of the machine? You get books.”

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06.23.11 Israel Asks for a King: Part II by RJ Moeller

We left things off last time in verse 9 of I Samuel 8: Samuel’s sons have given God’s system of judges a black eye with their corrupt behavior, and not wanting to be outdone, the people of Israel decide they want to up-the-sin-ante by rejecting God’s plans and demanding a king.

It’s time for Samuel to share with the people what is in store for them should they refuse to course-correct. In verse 9, at the behest of God himself, Samuel offers a “solemn” warning to his people. I note this at the start because I feel it important to remind ourselves that warning people who are heading off a cliff is never a bad thing. God knew the people’s hearts, and knew they would reject the council of His appointed mediator, but He told that mediator to warn them anyway. Samuel’s task was to live right himself and obediently speak truth to his countrymen. The rest was in God’s hands.

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06.22.11 The Immorality of Ayn Rand by Nathan Hitchen

Isaac Morehouse gave an apology for small-government advocates who love both the teachings of Ayn Rand and those of Jesus Christ. While Morehouse admits there are “many ways” in which Objectivism is irreconcilable with Christianity, “there is no hypocrisy” to being a “fan” of both Jesus Christ and Ayn Rand.

Actually, there is profound hypocrisy

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06.21.11 Why We Aren’t Married by Joy Pullmann

Often, when I or a friend complain about some misfortune or evil and ask “Why?” my husband will half-humorously reply, “Sin.” Of course, sin is the source of all social and moral sicknesses, but merely stating that fact is the first step at diagnosis. In this, our second part of a seriesconsidering why you ought to be marriedbut probably are not, we will look at several ways sin manifests in our culture and prevents or mucks up our attempts at happily ever after.

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06.20.11 Poverty In America by Jacqueline Otto

If Christian Evangelicalism were a twitter feed, domestic poverty would be a trending topic these days. On this forum alone, Paul Mueller and Isaac Moorehousehave weighed in on the issue.

In light of all of this attention, a careful effort should be made to define domestic poverty.

We in America truly have a skewed perspective of what it means to be poor. As the wealthiest nation in the world, virtually no one in this country lives in the absolute destitute state that characterizes the way of life for millions worldwide. Poverty, such as in the third world and even looming just south in some parts of Mexico, has no foothold in the United States of America of the twenty-first century.

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06.15.11 The TOMS Development Model by Apoorva Shah

Last week on this blog, Chris Horst gave us his take of the TOMS Shoes and Whole Foods strategies for do-goodism. Praising Whole Foods for trying to make their support for the poor an integral component of their broader business strategy, Chris also brings up an important critique about TOMS: the long-term impact of giving away something for free.

Chris and others herehere and here elaborate on this, but let’s break it down some more. First of all, what happens to local producers and supply chains when goods are given away? When TOMS distributes shoes in a poor Latin American or African community, what does that do to the shoe makers and vendors in that town?

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06.15.11 CNN Debate: Young Voters Win by Stephen Richer and Jimmy Nicolas

Regardless of which candidate won Monday night’s debate, one thing is for certain: young American voters (18-39) emerged as winners. Young voters desperately want both politicians to focus on the economy, and this is exactly what the debaters did.

Youth unemployment is currently 18.4% – more than double the national rate. The numbers are even worse among some groups: unemployment is especially high in urban areas, and unemployment estimates for Black youths range from 17 to over 40 percent.

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06.14.11 Fairness Doesn’t Matter by Paul Mueller

What are Christians to make of the radical disparities between the rich and the poor; or even between the rich and the middle class?

Does it not seem obscene that some people own two, three, four or more enormous houses that sit vacant while many people can’t afford a single small house?

Is it fair that some people have fancy cars, can take multiple vacations a year to exotic places, and have access to the best healthcare money can buy while many are trying to hold down two jobs simply to pay the bills with only a few days off a year?

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06.13.11 Israel Asks for a King by RJ Moeller

My recent piece on the trouble with centralized power (“From Babel to Babylon”) took, historically speaking, a “macro” view of what I believe to be God’s clear disdain for mankind pursuing their own ends instead of His articulated purposes when it comes to how we organize ourselves communally. This time I want to highlight a specific, micro-level example of that same general idea.

The story of Israel’s demand for a king in I Samuel 8 contains so many relevant, interesting nuggets of insight and wisdom that I’ve broken my thoughts into two parts. The first will cover verses 1-9; the second verses 10-22.

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06.13.11 Palin and the Youth Vote by Stephen Richer

Following the 2008 presidential election, strategist James Carville predicted that Democrats would dominate national politics for “40 More Years.” His reasoning boiled down to two words: young voters.

Now Republicans threaten to fulfill Carville’s prediction with their own two words: Sarah Palin.

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06.09.11 The Right to Assemble by Jacqueline Otto

The first amendment encompasses much content in a few words:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

In a previous post, I discussed the issue of freedom of speech. That and the freedom of religion are certainly the most controversial of the first amendment rights.

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06.08.11 TOMS Shoes vs. Whole Foods by Chris Horst

TOMS defines cool. Their hip slip-ons (and recently announced eyewear line) are the garnishment of urban hipsters, but even much-less-cool folks like me love when companies give back. The winning equation for TOMS has been the “buy one get one” approach they pioneered: You buy slick kicks … and poor kids get free shoes. This equation has propelled TOMS to corporate superstar status.

All companies practice and celebrate their do-goodism. There’s even a cumbersome title for it – corporate social responsibility (CSR). Analyzing corporate charity models is one of my hobbies. Today’s doing good battle is between TOMS Shoes, the hipster heavyweight, and Whole Foods Market, the granola momma’s utopia.

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06.08.11 Reconciling Ayn Rand and Jesus by Isaac Morehouse

There have been a number of articles lately about the apparent contradictions among small-government supporters who claim Ayn Rand as a hero and who are also religious. This is supposed to be some kind of “gotcha” moment where supporters of big-government point out the hypocrisy in their opponents’ beliefs. There is no hypocrisy in being a fan of both Rand and Jesus.

There are many ways in which Christianity and Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism are irreconcilable. Though both share a belief in an objective moral law, Objectivists would never attribute such a law to anything supernatural. Rand herself was no fan of religion and emphatically did not want her philosophy reconciled with Christianity.

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06.07.11 A Cautious Spurned Industry by Jacqueline Otto

The video makes two points, first that there is an influx of college graduates this spring, and second, that there are not enough jobs for them because the government is not fostering a business environment for job creation.

There is a quantitative case to be made that the 1.7 million college graduates of 2011 are the result of the financial crisis starting in 2007. When the economy started taking a downward turn, with the bursting of the housing bubble and distortions in the financial markets, uncertainty filled the hearts of high school graduates and their families. This uncertainty drove those high school graduates who may have gone to trade schools, found a job, or started a small business of their own, instead to go the “safer route” of a pursuing a four-year degree under the presumption that the economy will be better by then. Oh, how we were mistaken.

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06.06.11 How Should We Help the Poor? by Paul Mueller

The poorest 20% of our society are generally not the people you hear about in the news or from government bureaucracies. Rather than being destitute and helpless, the poor today are generally wealthier than their counterparts were 40 years ago.

Today the poorest 20% of citizens have substantially more material wealth than the poorest 20% of citizens in 1970 did. In fact, according to Myths of Rich & Poor; why we’re better off than we think, today’s poor have a similar standard of living to the middle class in 1970.

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06.03.11 The Limits of Free Speech by Jacqueline Otto

In recent weeks, cities such as Savannah, Georgia, and Columbus, Ohio, have been visited by members of the now-infamous Westboro Baptist Church. These protesters are well-known for their signs with slogans such as “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” and “God Hates Fags.” In many cases, such a protest at Hilliard Darby High School in Columbus, the counter-protesters have far out-numbered the church members.

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06.03.11 Twitterpated Over Poverty by Eric Teetsel

Beginning last night and continuing through my commute to work yesterday morning I had an exchange with a few friends (and a few strangers) over Twitter about a recent piece in First Things. The article, The Preferential Option for the Poor by R.R. Reno, appears in the June issue but is also available for free online here.

That many dedicated Two Cents readers missed the Twitter dialogue is a shame, so I thought I would share it with you here, in chronological order, tweet-by-tweet. Enjoy!

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06.02.11 On Budgets and Bishops by Nathan Hitchen

The Protestant Bishops’ statement issued last week in opposition to the GOP’s budget proposal gets one thing very much right. The federal budget is a moral document.

There are a variety of lenses by which one can view something as fundamental as fiscal policy and the federal budget. Evangelical and conservative Catholic pro-life activists will lament that Planned Parenthood continues to receive federal subsidies. Macro economists will calculate the wealth multiplier of the G in Y = C+I+G+ (X-M). Lobbyists for defense contractors and public sector unions will toast their unnoticed victories. Liberal Protestant and progressive Catholic bishops will publish letters marshalling Gospel arguments against the GOP.

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06.02.11 From Babel to Babylon by RJ Moeller

Unfortunately for mankind, you will not find a detailed prescription for how best to organize a national government or a country’s economy in the Good Book. It’s not in there. I’ve looked.

If you’re looking for specifics on what the United States’ tariff policy toward Finland ought to be, you’re plum out of luck. If you want canonical guidance as to the precise degree of control the filibuster should have over legislative proceedings in the U.S. Senate, you’re barking up the wrong tree.

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06.01.11 National Running Day by Greg Lane

Today is National Running Day, which is fitting given the rising interest in distance running in the United States. Last year, an estimated 507,000 Americans completed a marathon (26.2 miles), a record high trumped only by the number of finishers of half-marathons (13.1 miles), which totaled 1.4 million in 2010 – an impressive 24% increase from 2009, making it far and away the fastest growing road race distance in the country. Though running itself is revered as a low-cost sport, entry fees to races continue to climb – yet, despite a lingering recession, road racing continues to grow in popularity. This is largely thanks to the demographics of recreational runners.

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06.01.11 Debt, Spending, and Taxes by Eric Teetsel

I recently had the opportunity to speak at a Faith & Law gathering on the topic, “Thinking as a Christian about Debt, Spending, and Taxes” alongside my friend, Sojourners Communication Director Tim King. This post is adapted from those remarks.

Faith & Law exists to help Congressional staff understand the implications of a Christian worldview for their calling to public life. It’s a privilege to offer an introduction to what will be the more policy-focused portion of the event featuring Jennifer Marshall and Gideon Strauss. If Tim and I are able to provide a helpful prolegomenon to their discussion I think we will have succeeded.

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05.31.11 Marriage: Core Reasons Why by Joy Pullmann

Back in my instigating post, I said Part 1 would outline reasons why young Christians should, really, be married, with few excuses. Before that outline, however, I’d like to share a bit of backstory.

Looking at my evangelical and Catholic peers, I find a good deal of us already married or desperately trying. So why the need to convince the same audience of something we already seem to accept? Because, while I’ve remained in this target group since adolescence, marriage and children seemed a bit horrid, if unfortunately necessary: an impediment to my career, an insult to my trim little college body, a whole lotta struggle with no glory.

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05.31.11 Private Charity Isn’t Enough by Isaac Morehouse

“The idea that churches can tackle national poverty, take care of those who are ill, and rebuild communities after natural disasters requires a spoonful of bad moral theology and a cup of dishonesty.” - Robert Parham

In a recent blog post, EthicsDaily.com editor and Executive Director of Baptist Center for Ethics Robert Parham claimed that churches and charities could never do enough to alleviate poverty.  I agree.

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05.24.11 Good Intentions Aren’t Enough by Jacqueline Otto

Good intentions are not enough. This statement sums up the primary critique free-marketers have against our central-planning counterparts. Joseph Sunde made this point in his post about fair trade. In February, economist and theologian Jay Richards gave a speech entitled “Good intentions aren’t good enough” at the University of Mobile. Indeed, the argument has been made exhaustively, but for those not blinded by their own good intention the facts make the case themselves.

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05.23.11 A Reluctant Pope & the GOP by Steffanie Hawkins

After months of speculation, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels announced over the weekend that he would not seek the Republican nomination in 2012. Despite the support of some prominent Republican leaders, Daniels put family first and bowed out. The decision was a disappointment to many, but Daniels can hardly be faulted for demonstrating such humility and prudent consideration. These are virtues we should desire in candidates for high office. It seems reasonable that one shouldn’t be dragged against their will into a campaign for the most important job on Earth. However, there is a precedent for forced leadership, and the story may remind us of the rare necessity of hoisting responsibility upon a reluctant leader.

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05.20.11 Are Profits Moral? by Joseph Sunde

I recently wrote about whether capitalism is compatible with Christian values, noting that the answer depends heavily on whether basic free trade is itself compatible.

In a new video from the Atlas Network, Tom G. Palmer explores the same question, offering an answer that is sure to rile many. Although Palmer avoids any discussion of Christian values, the parallels are not hard to discern:

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05.19.11 The Grand Depravity Of ‘Em All by RJ Moeller

It is a legitimate question to wonder why I waited to address “Sin” until four or five posts into my explanation of how I – a post-being-post-things evangelical Christian – arrived at my free market convictions. The answer is simple: I like to know what I’m aiming at before I start firing.

In his treatise on the state of social conditions in early 20th century Great Britain (What’s Wrong With The World), G.K. Chesterton wrote this:

“It is the whole definition and dignity of man that in social matters we must actually find the cure before we find the disease.”

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05.16.11 Fair Trade as a Non-Solution by Joseph Sunde

My exposure to “fair trade” products came slowly, beginning at a Coldplay concert in tenth grade, when I first spotted Chris Martin’s “Make Trade Fair” arm doodles.

My response? “Woah!! Cool!!”

Five years later, as a junior in college, I was a bit more skeptical. My college had selected a particular brand of fair trade coffee to be the exclusive choice in our cafeteria and campus cafes — a decision that surely primed plenty of youngsters into self-righteous bliss.

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05.11.11 Ending Debt Means Entitlement Reform by Daniel Suhr

The ideas present at AEI’s recent forum on “A Call for Intergenerational Justice” are percolating far and wide, as evidenced in this headline from a recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story: Religious groups see budget through eyes of faith – on both sides. The secondary headline could have been a one sentence summary of AEI’s event: Aiding poor, ending debt both seen in moral terms.

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05.10.11 Video: Social Justice Isn’t What You Think It Is

Be sure to catch this video of Michael Novak, the George Frederick Jewett Chair Emeritus at AEI, as he discusses the origin, early development, and contemporary misuses of the term “social justice.” In this video, Novak proposes a return to its original meaning as a new virtue of association.

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05.09.11 Why You Should Be Married (But Probably Aren’t), Introduction by Joy Pullmann

My friend, Jody, decided he wanted to marry and be a father by age 25. At the time, he wasn’t dating anyone. He was 23.

He’s 24 now, and in three months will wed a beautiful young lady who actually loves him. Of course, as they are Christians, that baby may now arrive “on time.” From the first day they started dating, Rachel knew Jody wanted to marry as soon as he could find a suitable woman. And she wanted that, too. They dated for four months before Jody proposed.

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05.06.11 The Magic of Regression by Joseph Sunde

Hans Rosling recently gave a TED talk on “The Magic of the Washing Machine,” which has since been widely circulated and lauded accordingly. Rosling’s main point is that something as basic as the washing machine can free up countless humans to pursue bigger and better things — family, education, civilization … that sort of thing.

Indeed, if humans are really the “ultimate resource” as Julian Simon suggested, it’s no wonder that the continuous maximization of human time and freedom will lead us toward ever-increasing output.

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05.05.11 Show Me Your Vocations by RJ Moeller

Last time out I touched upon the work-related implications of God’s “dominion directive.” Because it is such an important concept (and so integral to the free market concept I proudly embrace) I want to take the space of another post up to talk about work again – or more rightly put, vocation.

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05.04.11 Understanding Rand by Hunter Baker

Ultimately, Buckley gave Whittaker Chambers the job of writing the National Review essay on Rand’s famous novel Atlas Shrugged that effectively read her and the Objectivists out of the conservative movement. The review characterized Rand’s message as, “To a gas chamber, go!” Chambers thought Rand’s philosophy led to the extinction of the less fit. In truth, the great Chambers (his Witness is one of the five finest books I’ve ever read) probably treated Rand’s work unfairly.

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05.04.11 An Influence So Subtle… by Daniel Suhr

When a journalist reports on an influence upon events so subtle that it is not visible to the naked eye, he may be exposing something new and important; he may instead be grasping for non-existent straws. As a Wisconsin native and evangelical observer of public affairs, I’m pretty sure a report last week on the New York Times’ “Beliefs” page falls in the second category. Mark Oppenheimer profiles Gary North, a “Christian Reconstructionist” writer and “onetime aide to Representative Ron Paul, a possible 2012 Republican presidential candidate.” The latter description, which appears in the fourth sentence of the story, is true but overplayed; we learn in the 26th sentence that he worked “briefly” as a “speechwriter” for Mr. Paul “in 1976.”

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04.28.11 Fight of the Century by Eric Teetsel

Our friends at George Mason’s Mercatus Center are back with another rap battle in Fight Of the Century: Hayek v. Keynes Round II.

Best rhyme:

Pretty perverse to call that prosperity

rationed meat, rationed butter, a life of austerity

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04.28.11 A Dominion Directive (II) by RJ Moeller

The accumulation (and hoarding) of wealth can certainly become idolatry, but so too can loving the goose-bumps you get when singing worship songs at church more than the actual relationship you supposedly have with your Savior.  For that matter, with how fickle and short-sighted we humans are, R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps could become an idol (although hopefully not for anyone other than pre-pubescent girls).

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04.27.11 A Tragic Shortage of Truth by Eric Teetsel

They attack Paul Ryan and others who have said positive things about Rand as if readers are incapable of distilling the meritorious aspects of her work from the contemptible. The ridiculousness of  a syllogism that  posits that because Ryan reads Rand his politics must be an embrace of her philosophical catalog should be apparent to anyone with an ounce of common sense. Ah, but we’re talking about the left…

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04.27.11 Anti-Capitalism Christians by Joseph Sunde

Of the 46% of Christians who believe capitalism is “at odds” or “inconsistent” with Christian values, how many are themselves actively engaged in the capitalist system? Of the 61% of Americans who believe regulation is necessary to ensure “ethical” business activity, how many truly believe that they need to be regulated in order to ethically trade an apple for an orange? Of the 55% of white evangelical Protestants who believe that income inequality is “one of the biggest problems in the country,” how many have a higher income than someone else? Indeed, if any of these folks are simply working in America today, aren’t they profiting from, indeed encouraging, the very capitalistic system that opposes their religious convictions?

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04.22.11 An Unexpected Consensus by Eric Teetsel

My friend Daniel Suhr has posted a review over at Mere Orthodoxy of our recent event on the document “A Call for Intergeneration Justice.” Daniel points out that the panelists, while engaged in a lively debate, actually agreed on at least five important questions.

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04.21.11 Nobody Died by Eric Teetsel

In fact, our event last night didn’t even reach the level of  “shrill.” Instead, it was a substantive discussion of both theology and faithful praxis, as well as engaging questions of specific policy proposals for solving America’s debt crisis, including reforming the tax code, fixing entitlement spending on health care, and what to do about defense spending.

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04.20.11 Big Bad Machines by Joseph Sunde

My wife owns a handmade apparel business, and because of her success, she is frequently contacted by companies looking for publicity.

Recently, she received a request from the IOU Project, an organization attempting to prop up handmade artisans in India through artificial economic stimulation. In a newly released ad, the group elevates handmade textiles to lofty heights, claiming that without a concerted effort to purchase such products, the enemy (i.e. the machines!) will seize the day.

After skimming through the ad and chuckling a bit to herself, my wife kindly passed it on to me, the cynical party-pooper of the family.

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04.19.11 A Dominion Directive (pt. 1) by RJ Moeller

God knew that mankind would feel tempted to worship nature because of how awe-inspiring it can be, not to mention the fact that nature has no discernable moral code to hold us to (save the one we arbitrarily decide to construct for ourselves).  He knew that we would mistake the creation for the Creator.

This, I believe, is a big reason He made sure to give us dominion over nature.  If we found out that it (nature) is subservient to us, we might be more inclined to remember that we, in turn, are subservient to Him.

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04.18.11 A Christian Budget by Eric Teetsel

I was recently asked by the good people at Relevant to contribute to dueling op-eds on  budget reform. The counter-point came from Ambassador Tony Hall. If I had known he had been three times nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, I probably would’ve balked at offering my measly opinion. Whether or not it’s good that I didn’t find out until after the articles were posted is up to you to decide.

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04.13.11 It Takes a Market by Joseph Sunde

Clinton’s main argument is that we need a society which meets all the needs of all its children (“Just imagine, bro!”). For Clinton, however, such ends are not to be reached by encouraging freedom, instilling dignity, or teaching the importance of self-government and charity. Instead, children are only to reach their ultimate state of nirvana if the State becomes the family itself. After all, much like those other pesky private institutions — churches, schools, businesses…that kind of thing — the private family simply cannot be trusted (fascism alert).

There are plenty of serious issues with this approach, but putting aside each child’s basic spiritual, psychological, and familial needs (at least, for the moment), there is something to be said about the market’s ability to provide the material stuff that children need.

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04.1.11 Creation and Imago Dei by RJ Moeller

As I (hopefully) made clear last time, I wish to begin a multi-part series of blog-posts here at Two Cents that will (hopefully) make clear where in Scripture and Christian tradition a free market evangelical like myself derives his socio-economic worldview from.  I firmly believe that the Bible affirms free enterprise, entrepreneurial activity, and the de-centralization of power in the hands of fallen men and women.

What follows is my defense of that belief.

The best place to start, I suppose, is at the beginning.

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03.30.11 A Jetsons or Wall-E Future by Joseph Sunde

A society that “stays on course” is what separates the World of the Jetsons from the World of WALL-E, a realm in which humans assume the role of virtual robots, controlled by their possessions, consumed by their leisure, and subsequently doomed to an existence of myopic and self-destructive idleness.

Instead, the World of the Jetsons is one in which human potential is unleashed. There is a “love of progress,” but such a love is not detached from higher responsibilities and does not confuse or pervert the moral order. For the Jetsons, the stuff remains stuff and life moves on, whether that entails personal goals, family development, community engagement, or a relationship with God (one can only hope, George!).

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03.29.11 All Roads Lead to Rome by RJ Moeller

I am frequently asked something to the effect of the following: “R.J – you say that your socio-economic convictions, which are decidedly pro-free market in nature, are primarily informed by your Christian worldview. How did you arrive at these conclusions? What concepts, doctrines, or even specific verses have led you to this ideological point?”

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03.23.11 Joyful Innovators by Joseph Sunde

Economist Deirdre McCloskey has been making waves with the release of her new book, Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can’t Explain the Modern World. In the book, McCloskey seeks to topple our conventional views on what leads to economic growth, arguing that “economic change depends less on foreign trade, investment, or material causes, and a whole lot more on ideas and what people believe.”

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03.18.11 The Limits of Earth-Bound Altruism by Joseph Sunde

The Gospels are clear about the centrality of sacrifice in the Christian pursuit. In situation after situation, Jesus urged his followers to wash people’s feetgive to the poor, and lay down their lives for their friends.

But although sacrifice is indeed a central piece of the Christian message, the proper nature and orientation of such sacrifice can be easily misunderstood and misplaced in the natural context. To avoid such confusion, we must move beyond our humanistic perceptions of generosity, pushing energetically toward a more heavenly orientation — one that is led by the Spirit rather than the fleshAs Kelly Kapic argues in his recent book, Jesus’ death on the Cross is not just a gift, but an invitation to participate in God’s unique movement of divine generosity.

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03.14.11 A Head for the Poor by RJ Moeller

American Christians with the best of intentions and genuine desire to live their lives according to the teachings of Scripture disagree in very real and pronounced ways over how best to address poverty, injustice, and pollution.  But are good intentions enough?  Does a desire for the idea of helping others supersede the actual ideas that have been proven to actually help others?

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03.10.11 Theology of Bureaucracy by Joseph Sunde

In a recent attempt to influence the budget battles on Capitol Hill, Jim Wallis has taken his typical progressive stance by asking, “What Would Jesus Cut?”

After initially posing the question in The Huffington Post, Wallis’s organization ran a full-page ad in Politico arguing that obviously Jesus would prefer mosquito nets to defense spending. But have no fear: In case such claims don’t offer enough rash politico-religious fusionism to satisfy your appetite, the Sojourners web site is happy to assist you in scolding your local representatives for their lack of Christian charity.

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03.04.11 What Jesus Would Cut by Eric Teetsel

I’m not theologically astute enough to know what constitutes heretical statement. Clearly, followers of Jesus are capable of arriving at very different conclusions about the political implications of scripture. Given the rampant corruption of the human heart, including especially our propensity towards self-serving, a healthy dose of humility and a deference to the good intentions of our fellow believers will go a long way towards discussing these differences as lovers foremost concerned with reflecting the character of Christ and only secondarily interested in discerning the implications of His truth for public policy.

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03.04.11 No Really, They’re Liberal by Eric Teetsel

Byron Johnson’s recent article The Good News About Evangelicalism (February 2011) suggests that all that has been made about the tendency of young evangelicals (often called “millennials”) to lean left on political issues is overblown. Using quantitative survey data, Johnson finds that millennials say they are as conservative or more conservative than previous generations on all the usual issues, including abortion and homosexuality, and not quite as liberal as has been portrayed on more recent questions such as climate change and the election of Barack Obama.

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03.04.11 Islam and Economic Progress by Joseph Sunde

Examining the connections between religion and economic growth can be a tricky task. Thankfully, some great thinkers have stepped up to the challenge.Great minds like Max Weber, Michael Novak, and Rodney Stark have provided compelling arguments to support the notion that Christianity has been a driving force behind numerous economic gains (the most prominently of which is capitalism itself). Weber, for example, promotes the idea of a “Protestant work ethic,” a term that links much of our economic productivity to the Christian notion of “fruit.”

Examining the connections between religion and economic growth can be a tricky task. Thankfully, some great thinkers have stepped up to the challenge.
Great minds like Max Weber, Michael Novak, and Rodney Stark have provided compelling arguments to support the notion that Christianity has been a driving force behind numerous economic gains (the most prominently of which is capitalism itself). Weber, for example, promotes the idea of a “Protestant work ethic,” a term that links much of our economic productivity to the Christian notion of “fruit.”

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03.03.11 Wait a Minute, Mr. Postman by RJ Moeller

When an advocate for free enterprise (and the superiority of the private sector) wants to convey why it is a bad idea to have the government run something that the private sector could (or sometimes, already does) run better, a reference to the Department of Motor Vehicle is usually employed.  The inferior overall service that one receives at the DMV as opposed to, say, Home Depot or one’s favorite restaurant, is an easy and accessible way for the average person to instantly comprehend an obvious, but subtle, point regarding the deep flaws inherent to incentive-free bureaucracy.

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02.23.11 A More Just Union by Joseph Sunde

The most dizzying of the spin has been the notion that public workers are entitled to a “right to collective bargaining” — a claim made so frequently and with such conviction that one would assume the taxpayers were granted some bargaining powers of their own.

But alas, although politicians began to invent such rights in the 1950s, the merits of these unique privileges have been highly contested, even by the likes of pro-union leaders like FDR and George Meany.

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02.21.11 A Far Right Revolution? by RJ Moeller

AEI’s own Jonah Goldberg wrote eloquently about it in his seminal work Liberal Fascism, but one of the most mystifying and damaging myths perpetrated in the West over the past 80 years is that any totalitarian government is “Right-wing.”  This is a myth that is regurgitated everywhere from a high school English class to a graduate-level course at the most prestigious Ivy League universities.

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02.15.11 Tragedy Isn’t Overstating It by Joseph Sunde

The word dominion tends to make many of us uncomfortable, particularly environmentalists. But God is not talking about rapacious, exploitative eco-destruction. He is talking about fruitful and productive stewardship through ownership. After all, this is His creation.

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02.8.11 Misplaced Indignation by RJ Moeller

With all due respect, and no ill-will in my heart, I have to say that the man has an utter lack of understanding about the proper role of government in relation to the private sector, how that private sector works, how true wealth is created, and how detached from that entire process he, the Commander-in-Chief, ought to be.

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02.3.11 Hating the Sight of Your Voice by Eric Teetsel

Recently I was asked to do an interview for a group called the Search for Common Ground.  It’s an organization led by my friend Jonah Wittkamper aimed at connecting young leaders from across the political spectrum.

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01.31.11 The Love of Man by Joseph Sunde

What this tells us is that Jesus’ works on this earth were not merely born out of mere human love. Contrary to today’s watered-down portrait of a Jesus who is primarily concerned with worldly needs, this passage shows us a Jesus who is ultimately devoted to the needs of His Father. He was on a serious and direct mission, one that went well beyond Peter’s earthly perspective of love and peace and harmony.

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01.31.11 Socialism: Seduction Be Thy Name by RJ Moeller

The reasonable man (or woman) would look at this state of affairs and (hopefully) eventually ask the question: “Why doesn’t someone like President Obama just cut out the middle-man and be pro-business all of the time?  Why must he wait until his back is painted into a fiscally conservative corner to correctly talk like a serious person about the economy?”

The simple answer: socialism is seductive.

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01.21.11 God and Man at Wheaton by Eric Teetsel

The pervasiveness of liberalism in higher education is hardly news.  But what few seem to realize is that this reality is not confined to big state universities and East Coast elite ones.  The preponderance of liberalism throughout the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities would shock and anger the majority of parents who send their kids to these schools.  Indeed, God and Man at Wheaton is a book clamoring to be written.

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01.21.11 Remember, Envy is a Deadly Sin by Jacqueline Otto

This morning, The Economist led with an interesting article about global income inequality.  The article discusses the prevalent view that income inequality is bad for society. This view is broken down into the following three theories:

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01.20.11 Planners and Searchers by Joseph Sunde

Over the last decade, the modern foreign aid movement has grown with incredible momentum. In the name of global charity, various fads have been started, offshoot products have been launched, and taxpayer dollars have been transferred.

But with the rising prominence of foreign aid has come a new group of critics, many of which have serious questions about its success. Thanks to bright young thinkers like Dambisa Moyo and June Arunga, among others, the foreign aid movement’s momentum seems to be slowing.

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01.20.11 Softer Hearts, Thicker Skins by RJ Moeller

It has become wildly popular these days to condemn the “tone” of political discourse in this country.  While I am always in favor of any promotion of treating others with civility and respect, few things rub me the wrong way quite like news pundits and commentators wringing their hands over a situation they, in large part, helped to create.  My problem with such calls for “playing nice” as we have heard in the aftermath of the Tucson shooting is the same problem I have with all misplaced moral indignation.

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01.13.11 Faith and the American Dream by Joseph Sunde

The American Dream has become somewhat of a muddled concept, the tricky part being that it means plenty of different things to plenty of different people.

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01.10.11 Ricochet by RJ Moeller

“In fact, of course, we all do believe that some moralities are better than others.  We do believe that some of the people who tried to change the moral ideals of their own age were what we would call Reformers or Pioneers – people who understood morality better than their neighbors did.”

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01.04.11 Starting 2011 Off Right by RJ Moeller

Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much–Luke 16:10

This verse from Luke’s gospel has always been especially convicting in my life.  For as long as I can remember people have been telling me that I am a natural born leader.  I’m the oldest of six kids and was always expected to model “good” behavior for my younger siblings.  In 2nd grade I was the person called into Principal Snow’s office so that I could go and tell the other boys that the days of tackle football at recess had come to an end.

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01.03.11 The Conviction of Stephen Colbert by Joseph Sunde

A few weeks ago, I was watching the always-funny Stephen Colbert, and was amused by a piece he did on Jesus being a liberal democrat. At the time, I chuckled a bit, shrugged off my disagreements, and moved on.

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12.20.10 What Would Jesus Blog by RJ Moeller

One of the simple pleasures I enjoy in life is – and I know this sounds crazy – when former CBS investigative reporter, and current political commentator, Bernie Goldberg makes his weekly visit to The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News.  Goldberg, you may remember, was an award-winning tele-journalist for nearly 20 years on CBS until when in 2001 he penned a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed that called into question the inherent bias of the predominantly liberal mainstream media.  Despite the fact that he had never voted for a Republican in his life, and still maintains Center-Left political views himself, Goldberg was fired from CBS and for the past 9 years or so has been forced to author multiple best-selling books and be a regular contributor on the most-watched cable network on the planet.

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12.20.10 Gifts for the Family Nerd by Joseph Sunde

It’s that time of the year when bloggers get to parade around their favorite books in the name of holiday spirit. After all, for all the chic and splendor of the latest gadgets and gizmos, any curious reader knows there’s nothing more valuable than finding the right information.

Some folks like to focus their promotions based on titles from the given year (“Best of 2010!”), but for my list I thought I would let you in on some of the works that have been most influential in shaping my own views on faith and free enterprise.

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12.10.10 Union Jack! by RJ Moeller

My favorite columnist, Mark Steyn, made the great point earlier this year that it says a lot about the differences in cultural values between Europe and the United States that when people protest in the streets over there it is to demand more from the government, and when people protest here it is typically to tell Big Brother to leave the citizenry alone.  The vision of the American founders included at its very core the notion that power in the hands of the government would be de-centralized so that the people of this great land would be empowered to take responsibility for their own lives and the needs of “the least” among them.

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12.3.10 The Three Amigos by R.J. Moeller

I’m a perpetually optimistic fellow, but it can be disheartening to reflect upon how disinterested in anything deemed “old” so many of my generation are.  Mention the writings of our Founding Fathers in an important text like The Federalist Papers and most people under 30 roll their eyes.  Reference a film made before Star Wars or E.T. and good luck conveying your original point without several minutes of explanation, clarification and Google searches on the nearest iPhone.

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12.2.10 The (Non-Spiritual) Rewards of Faith by Joseph Sunde

Many of us are used to hearing Christians talk about the spiritual bounty available to those who believe. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus asks for our obedience while also promising us some kind of reward. But whether these rewards are immediate or eventual, many Christians often confine them to the spiritual realm.

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11.22.10 First Principles by RJ Moeller

The mid-term elections of 2010 have come and gone, and while I am generally pleased with their results, my primary concern before the elections remains my primary concern after: the re-education of America with free market principles.  I say “re-education” because as C.S. Lewis so poignantly pointed out in his classic Mere Christianity, in our modern age it is not possible for people to be devoid of indoctrination as it pertains to important ideas relating to theology, history and economics.

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11.15.10 Unintended Rhymes (or, Reflections on the Midterm Elections) by Brett Swearingen

My fiancée and I were recently asked to share some brief thoughts on the midterm elections, which, in terms of modern American history, were cataclysmic—the worst losses since 1948.  People say they are fed up with the status quo in Washington.  A mere two years after hating on Bush and the Republicans, they’ve now dealt Democrats an even more severe blow.  It seems most of the public has little love for either of the two major political parties.  Nothing seems to make them happy.  Revolutionary rhetoric has even surfaced in some quarters.

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11.9.10 Transformation Pays by Joseph Sunde

Throughout the gospels, Jesus consistently frames things in ways that make us think. To highlight this point, most people point to his parables, each of which left Jesus’ listeners scratching their heads in puzzlement.

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11.3.10 An Evening with Jim Wallis by RJ Moeller

Last Thursday evening I had the distinct honor of attending the much-anticipated debate between AEI President Arthur Brooks and social justice advocate Jim Wallis at Wheaton College. The discourse was thought-provoking, the participants engaging, and the event as a whole was, in my mind, a huge success.

There were a number of avenues I wanted to take a blog-post about the Brooks-Wallis debate down, but couldn’t land on just one. So instead of chasing waterfalls, here is a quick re-cap of what I consider to be the most important things I took from the event.

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11.3.10 The Christian Vocation by Brett Swearingen

What is the life to which Christ has called us?  How are we most authentically and joyfully human?  What is the Christian vocation?

Most profoundly, it is a vocation to love and truth, goodness and beauty, justice and freedom; to work and responsibility, self-gift and self-sacrifice—to follow Christ in the way of the cross.  Ultimately, it is a vocation to share in the Father’s everlasting beatitude.

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11.3.10 Ayn Rand v. Jesus by Joseph Sunde

I first encountered Ayn Rand as a sophomore in college. At the time, I didn’t quite know what I was getting into. I was just beginning to have an interest in politics, and the title of her book jumped out at me. My introduction to Rand came as simply as that.

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10.20.10 Thinking Theologically About Markets by Joseph Sunde

For some of us, unfettered markets are the best means for reaching a just and prosperous society. For others, such means will only lead to inequality, exploitation, and misery. In either case, it is obvious that our opinions are heavily influenced by the political consequences.

But what’s wrong with that? If we don’t understand the political implications of our economic thinking, how can we ever hope to properly structure society?

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10.20.10 What’s in a Name? by RJ Moeller

Dr. Walter E. Williams, professor of economics at George Mason University, is consistently a reliable source of reason and insight.  Without having the privilege of knowing the man personally, apart from the exchange of a few cordial emails, it is evident through his writing that a driving force for Dr. Williams is the desire to see ideas, concepts, and commonly used terms clearly defined.

In his most recent column, Williams tackles the perpetually-relevant distinctions (and commonalities) between Leftism, Socialism, and Communism.

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10.13.10  Regulating Temptation by Joseph Sunde

There’s a popular story in the Book of Matthew where Jesus’ disciples ask him, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

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10.13.10  I See Dead People by RJ Moeller

An Associated Press headline this week read: “72,000 stimulus payments went to dead.”  Now, I realize that in some cultures, say, Ancient Egypt, for example, the dead were honored by being buried with gifts of food and treasure for their journey into the afterlife, but rarely does a society go so far as to continue sending checks to the deceased after they are gone.  Not even Uncle Scrooge in his miserly hey-day would demand financial remuneration while in the grave.

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10.6.10 Intellectual Journey by Joseph Sunde

I was 6 years old when the Soviet Union fell apart. For most guys my age, memories from 1991 consist mostly of LEGOs and Super Mario Bros. For me, however, it was the kick-off to my political education.

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10.6.10 The Dignity of Work by Brett Swearingen

This past Saturday a coalition of liberals and progressives held a rally at the Lincoln Memorial, a perceived (though not intended) response to Glenn Beck and the Tea Party’s rally of August 28th.  While Beck’s rally was more akin to a religious revival in the spirit of a God-drenched American exceptionalism, the progressives’ rally was overtly political.

Most of the tens of thousands of rally-goers were members of labor unions, a constituency that has been a powerful and entrenched element of the Democratic Party for several generations.

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9.29.10 The Moral Case for Capitalism by Brett Swearingen

With Oliver Stone’s sequel to Wall Street hitting theaters last weekend—perhaps the capstone to the public beating capitalism has received in more than a few corners over the past few years—one might be forgiven for thinking capitalism exists so that greedy people can feed their greed for more and more stuff, to the detriment of the poor.

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9.28.10 The Debate Remains the Same by R.J. Moeller

For all the partisan bickering, bloviating and Bork-ing that goes on in Congress, there are, underneath it all, some fairly basic and straight-forward ideological and philosophical differences between Republican and Democrat, Conservative and Liberal.  No one should be so naïve as to think that everything every politician does is grounded in principle, but it is to our detriment if we fail to identify when genuinely important ideas are raised and debated in the public square.

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9.22.10 The Least of These by Brett Swearingen

“I am conservative because I care about the poor.”

I remember when I first told a friend this, several years ago, and all of a sudden her jaw dropped and it looked as though her mind short-circuited.  No doubt many others would respond the same way—“Conservative?  Poor?  I thought that’s what liberals did.”  Well, me too.

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9.21.10 The Desire to Fix Things by R.J. Moeller

If you’re anything like me, and let’s hope you’re not, being advised to “do nothing” in response to any problem or crisis is sweet music to my ears.  “Nothing”, I can do; it’s “something” where things get a little prickly for yours truly.

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9.15.10 Everything in Common: Acts 2 and Private Property Rights by Eric Teetsel

“All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.”  (Acts 2:44-45)

Private property is so not Acts 2.  And yet, it is one of the most fundamental aspects of any market-based system of economics.  Why does private property matter and what are Christians to do with Acts 2?

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8.4.10 An Open Letter to the President and CEO of CostCo by Chris Horst

Below is a letter I recently sent to Jim Sinegal and Craig Jelinek (CEO and President, respectively) at Costco Corporation, an international chain of membership warehouses. I am publishing this letter publicly because too often the only businesses we hear about are those which are in some way abusive to customers, vendors and/or employees.

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  • Just Thoughts

    The path he chose was a path going in the opposite direction of many his age, but he chose it with the same thirst for swift achievement. As soon as he reflected seriously on it, he was convinced and convicted of the existence of God and of the immortality of the soul, and at once he instinctively said to himself: 'I want to live for immortality with Him and I will accept no compromise.' -Dostoevsky, Brothers K