“In other words, contemporary liberalism offers religious groups a choice. They can try to serve the widest possible population, in which case a liberal administration will set rules that force them to violate their conscience. Or they can serve a narrower one, in which case liberal journalists will sneer at them (and their most generous benefactors) for only caring about their co-religionists.”—
OR, they (Christian groups anyway) can follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, and focus on serving “the least among you,” as Jesus put it, regardless of their origin, and avoid both of those problems.
Believe it or not, some congregations do this. But in order to do so, to do as Christ commanded, they have to stop thinking of their religion as an exclusive club, but as an open group in service to humanity. Douthat and many, many others are apparently reluctant to go that far.
"If you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?" -Matthew 5:47
It’s a pretty radical idea, I know, but then Jesus was a fairly radical figure. And still is, frankly. If serving a wide population violates your conscience, you’re following a different Jesus altogether; He said to serve everyone.
You know, I always assumed that those cartoon mascots who were hardcore addicted to breakfast cereal were just overreacting.
I mean, how addictive can sugary breakfast cereal be, anyway?
But I’ve had like six bowls of Honeycombs this morning and I can’t seem to stop and I’m starting to think that those commercials were just public service announcements about the addictive nature of breakfast cereals.
“Crime has not fallen in the United States—it’s been shifted. Just as Wall Street connived with regulators to transfer financial risk from spendthrift banks to careless home buyers, so have federal, state, and local legislatures succeeded in rerouting criminal risk away from urban centers and concentrating it in a proliferating web of hyperhells. The statistics touting the country’s crime-reduction miracle, when juxtaposed with those documenting the quantity of rape and assault that takes place each year within the correctional system, are exposed as not merely a lie, or even a damn lie—but as the single most shameful lie in American life.”—n 1: Raise the Crime Rate (via ronmarks)
I was (briefly) a guest on a BBC World Service radio program this morning discussing Obama’s state of the union speech and income inequality in general. To my mind, this has always been a no-brainer. My argument is: we’ve done this experiment (of lowering taxes on the rich) twice now, once in the 1920’s and again in the 1980’s (and doubled-down in 2000). We have also done the control experiment. Between 1945 and 1980 top marginal tax rates in the U.S. ranged from 70 to 90%.
The results are clear: high marginal rates correlate with broad-based economic prosperity and an expanding middle class. Low marginal rates correlate with extreme income inequality, reduced prosperity overall, and ultimately, economic catastrophe.
“Electronics are our talismans that ward off the spiritual vacuum of modernity; gilt in Gorilla Glass and cadmium. And in them we find entertainment in lieu of happiness, and exchanges in lieu of actual connections.”—Fever Dream of a Guilt-Ridden Gadget Reporter (via aisforayla)
In this and other nations, there are groups of children who can be abused with impunity.
By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 16th January 2012
Texas is a largely-Christian state that appears to believe in neither forgiveness nor redemption. Last week the Guardian revealed the extent to which it has criminalised its children(1). Police now patrol the schools, arresting and charging pupils as young as six for breaches of discipline.
Among the villainies for which they have been apprehended are throwing paper aeroplanes, using perfume in class, cheeking the teacher, wearing the wrong clothes and arriving late for school. A 12 year-old boy with attention deficit disorder was imprisoned for turning over a desk; six years later, he’s still inside. Children convicted of these enormities – 300,000 such tickets were issued by Texas police in 2010 – acquire a criminal record. This makes them ineligible for federal aid at university and for much subsequent employment.
Yet most of them have committed no recognised crime. As one of the judges who hears their cases explained to the Guardian, “if any adult did it it’s not going to be a violation.”
The insanity of this ,shows why this way of life must end…We are ‘seeing’ now very clearly the ‘beliefs’ of those who do not know….
…And I come by here to say that America, too, is going to Hell, if we don’t use her wealth. If America does not use her vast resources of wealth to end poverty, to make it possible for all of God’s children to have the basic necessities of life, she too will go to Hell. I will hear America through her historians years and years to come saying, “We built gigantic buildings to kiss the sky. We build gargantuan bridges to span the seas. Through our spaceships we were able to carve highways through the stratosphere. Through our airplanes we were able to dwarf distance and place time in chains. Through our submarines we were able to penetrate oceanic depths.”
But it seems that I can hear the God of the universe saying, “even though you’ve done all of that, I was hungry and you fed me not. I was naked and ye clothed me not. The children of my sons and daughters were in need of economic security, and you didn’t provide for them. So you cannot enter the kingdom of greatness.” This may well be the indictment on America that says in Memphis to the mayor, to the power structure, “If you do it unto the least of these my brethren, you do it unto me.”
“Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge which is power; religion gives man wisdom which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals. They are complementary.”—‘A Tough Mind and a Tender Heart’, Strength To Love (1963, 1981), 15. — Martin Luther King, Jr. (via cwnl)
Since the 1980s, the main driver of Finnish education policy has been the idea that every child should have exactly the same opportunity to learn, regardless of family background, income, or geographic location. Education has been seen first and foremost not as a way to produce star performers, but as an instrument to even out social inequality.
In the Finnish view, as Sahlberg describes it, this means that schools should be healthy, safe environments for children. This starts with the basics. Finland offers all pupils free school meals, easy access to health care, psychological counseling, and individualized student guidance.
Wherever I go and ask people what is missing from their lives, the most common answer (if they are not impoverished or seriously ill) is “community.” What happened to community, and why don’t we have it any more? There are many reasons—the layout of suburbia, the disappearance of public space, the automobile and the television, the high mobility of people and jobs—and, if you trace the “whys” a few levels down, they all implicate the money system.
More directly posed: community is nearly impossible in a highly monetized society like our own. That is because community is woven from gifts, which is ultimately why poor people often have stronger communities than rich people. If you are financially independent, then you really don’t depend on your neighbors—or indeed on any specific person—for anything. You can just pay someone to do it, or pay someone else to do it.