Category : Economy

(Barna) What Faith Looks Like in the Workplace

In the famous Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, Jesus tells his followers to be the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world.” But what does this look like in the modern workplace? How are working Christians, from the boardroom to the classroom, heeding this call from the New Testament? In Barna’s recently released study on vocation, produced in partnership with Abilene Christian University, we found encouraging signs that Christians are living out their faith with integrity. Previously on Barna.com, we’ve covered data about the sacred value Christians perceive in their professions, the challenges working parents face and the Church’s important role in encouraging faith and work integration. Here, we’ll look at the specific values and virtues that define today’s Christians’ work ethic.

Encouragingly, working Christians say they hold to standards and virtues of professional integrity that represent the Church well. They are rooted in a conviction that Christians should act ethically (82%), speak the truth (74%) and demonstrate morality (72%). On an even more spiritual level, respondents say working Christians should make friends with non-Christians (66%), withstand temptation (59%) and do excellent work in an effort to bring glory to God (58%). Most believe people of faith should be guided by an attitude of humility (63%) and service (53%), while also looking out for others by speaking out against unfairness or injustice in the workplace (53%) and bringing grace and peace to others (48%). The trend is clear: most employed Christians want to do good in their places of work—but not always in a way that stands out. They appear less inclined to see it as their responsibility to be influential: one-third believes they should help mold the culture of their workplace (35%). In addition, only one-quarter says sharing the gospel is a responsibility (24%), pointing to a general wariness of speaking explicitly about faith, an attitude not uncommon in today’s climate. However, the more exemplary Christian workers in this study show more spiritual boldness with a higher willingness to share the gospel than the average Christian worker.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(Local Paper front page) Historically black Charleston churches moving off peninsula as area continues to gentrify

The Holy City’s historic core is losing houses of worship because of gentrification, limited parking and space to grow and do ministry, as well as high church maintenance costs. Shiloh, Greater Macedonia AME, Zion-Olivet Presbyterian, St. Matthew Baptist, Plymouth Church and New Tabernacle Fourth Street Baptist have either moved or have tried to leave downtown — some seeking new opportunities in areas like West Ashley and North Charleston.

Between 1980 and 2010, the peninsula’s black population dropped by more than half from about 30,000 to around 15,000. Simultaneously, its white population rose from 15,000 to just above 20,000.

This coincided with rising rents and property values. For example, the median sale price for homes north of the Crosstown Expressway has more than quadrupled since the late 1990s, from $74,500 in 1996 to $325,000 in 2014.

As the historically black communities change, local churches feel the impact. Enticed by lucrative offers from eager home buyers, some of the churches’ members sell their downtown homes, move away, and never return.

In other instances, increased development leaves congregations landlocked with no room to expand. Parking also becomes more scarce.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) Church investors challenge anti-climate change lobbying

The Church of England Pensions Board is leading a powerful coalition of investors which is challenging multinational companies to stop supporting trade associations and lobbying groups opposed to the Paris climate agreement.

The $2-trillion worth of investors, led by the Church and the Swedish national pension fund AP7, have targeted 55 companies with high greenhouse-gas emissions who were found to be inconsistent in their climate policy by a charity that monitors lobbying activity.

Companies targeted include some of the world’s best-known car producers, including Volvo and BMW, the energy firms E.ON and Centrica, and the food producer Nestlé.

The coalition of investors has asked the companies to review the “insidious” lobbying practices that are being adopted by their trade associations and lobbying companies, to ensure that they are consistent with the company’s own stated support for the Paris climate agreement.

The letter to the chair of each company said: “We would ask you to review the lobbying positions being adopted by the organisations of which you are a member. If these lobbying positions are inconsistent with the goals of the Paris agreement, we would encourage you to ensure they adopt positions which are in line with these goals.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Climate Change, Weather, Corporations/Corporate Life, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stock Market

A WSJ Profile Article About life at Netflix: A Company where Radical Transparency and Blunt Firings Unsettle the Ranks

The Netflix way emphasizes “freedom and responsibility,” trusting employees to use discretion—whether it is about taking vacation, flying business class or expensing an Uber ride home. Virtually every employee can access sensitive information, from how many subscribers sign up in each country to viewership of shows to contractual terms for Netflix’s production deals. Executives at the director level and above—some 500 people—can see the salaries of every employee.

Employees are encouraged to give one another blunt feedback. Managers are all told to apply a “keeper test” to their staff—asking themselves whether they would fight to keep a given employee—a mantra for firing people who don’t fit the culture and ensuring only the strongest survive.

Staying true to Mr. Hastings’ vision, always difficult, is getting harder thanks to the breakneck pace of growth and change at the company. In little over a decade, Netflix has gone from a DVD-by-mail outfit to a globe-spanning Hollywood powerhouse with more than 6,000 full- and part-time employees, including nearly 2,000 added just this year so far.

“As you scale a company to become bigger and bigger how do you scale that kind of culture?” said Colin Estep, a former senior engineer who left voluntarily in 2016. “I don’t know that we ever had a good answer.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Entertainment, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Movies & Television, Pastoral Theology

(NC Register) Dwight Longenecker–What’s Wrong With a Drive-Thru Parish?

In our town, for instance, we have one church that offers traditional liturgy influenced heavily by the Anglican tradition. They enjoy a beautiful building, excellent servers, fine music. Then we have the Franciscan parish with gospel music, a strong emphasis on peace and justice, lively preaching and involvement with the poor.

Across town we have a couple of typical American suburban parishes — easygoing contemporary music, large and active congregations, busy youth work, Life Teen Mass, a huge CCD program. On the other side of town a parish offers the Extraordinary Form every week — indeed, every day. The parish school is thriving and a busy, enthusiastic traditionalist crowd fills the pews.

So people church-shop.

It is a reality.

Church-shopping has its strengths and weaknesses. The downside is that we lose the natural diversity of a natural local community that has been part of Church understanding for eons. People are scattered and it’s hard to get them together. On the other hand, if people church-shop they are more likely to end up in a church they like and more likely to be committed to that congregation and ministry. Or so the theory goes. In fact, I have noticed something else creeping in which makes my job as a pastor even more difficult.

The church-shopping has started to disintegrate. Not only do people church-shop in order to find a church community to which they want to belong, but they church-shop from week to week.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

An Alabama School goes the extra mile to acknowledge their custodian

Eugene Hinton can’t control his emotions after walking into the gym at an elementary school in Alabama.

He thought he was going to clean up a spill and instead got an awesome surprise from the kids and their teachers….

Read it all and watch the video.

Posted in Children, Education, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(Economist) The next recession–Toxic politics and constrained central banks could make the next downturn hard to escape

As our special report this week sets out, the rich world in particular is ill-prepared to deal with even a mild recession. That is partly because the policy arsenal is still depleted from fighting the last downturn. In the past half-century, the Fed has typically cut interest rates by five or so percentage points in a downturn. Today it has less than half that room before it reaches zero; the euro zone and Japan have no room at all.

Policymakers have other options, of course. Central banks could use the now-familiar policy of quantitative easing (QE), the purchase of securities with newly created central-bank reserves. The efficacy of QE is debated, but if that does not work, they could try more radical, untested approaches, such as giving money directly to individuals. Governments can boost spending, too. Even countries with large debt burdens can benefit from fiscal stimulus during recessions.

The question is whether using these weapons is politically acceptable. Central banks will enter the next recession with balance-sheets that are already swollen by historical standards—the Fed’s is worth 20% of GDP. Opponents of QE say that it distorts markets and inflates asset bubbles, among other things. No matter that these views are largely misguided; fresh bouts of QE would attract even closer scrutiny than last time. The constraints are particularly tight in the euro zone, where the ECB is limited to buying 33% of any country’s public debt.

Read it all.

Posted in Economy

(CNBC) 40% of the American middle class face poverty in retirement, study concludes

Nearly half of middle-class Americans face a slide into poverty as they enter their retirement, a recent study by the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at the New School has concluded.

That risk has been driven by depressed earnings, depressed asset values and increased health-care costs — causing 74 percent of Americans planning to work past traditional retirement age. Additionally, both private and public pension plans have been allowed to become seriously underfunded. So what can be done?

Fundamental changes in the structure of the U.S. economy, combined with increased health-care costs and lack of saving, have created a financial trap for millions of American workers heading into retirement.

Roughly 40 percent of Americans who are considered middle class (based on their income levels) will fall into poverty or near poverty by the time they reach age 65, according to the study.

Read it all.

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, America/U.S.A., Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pensions, Personal Finance, Social Security

(ABC Aus.) Michael Jensen–Sydney has always been a gambler’s town, but it’s a game for mugs

What was and is needed is a description of the deeper causes of this cultural addiction to luck — which is reality a deep-rooted theology of luck.

The Anzac could see that he might be dismembered at any minute. Luck might be against him. Why not see if the universe might turn his way a little?

The farmer on the land knows that hard work might yield no result, if bushfire, drought or flood prevailed. Why not bet on a different outcome, since it was all a gamble anyhow?

The factory worker’s routine was grinding her down and for all her labour brought meagre rewards. Who knows if a quick return for a small investment wasn’t just around the corner?

But there’s an alternative way of telling the story. It’s the story not of luck, but of blessing.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Australia / NZ, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Gambling, Religion & Culture

(Guardian) Net worth v self worth: do we all need inequality therapy?

Inequality isn’t just changing the way we deal with economics – it’s perversely altering how we see ourselves and what we value. And Glantz and J Gary Bernhard, authors of the new book Self Evaluation and Psychotherapy in the Market System, want us to understand that.

“What I would do is focus on the reality of the system which puts people in that kind of situation,” Glantz says of his work with Michael. “It has nothing to do with him.”

Welcome to the new world of what might be called inequality therapy.

In a hyper-capitalist world where advertising and financial pressures channel the drive for status into an obsession, no one can really win – even those who appear to have it all. Commerce infiltrates even the language we use to describe our deepest concerns: am I worth it? Am I valued? Do I count?

Posted in Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology

(CT) The State of the Puerto Rican Church, One Year After Maria

During those first few days, we pastors were in shock. What would happen with our families? What would happen with the communities of faith we ministered in? We helped elderly people and small children flee the island for the mainland, unsure if we would ever see them again. The devastation across church facilities and congregants’ houses was enough to stir further panic. How were we going to rebuild? Where would we find the finances and the labor to work through this?

On a deeper level, we were forced to restate the purpose of our ministries: How were we going to minister to our communities during this time of utmost need? After decades of prosperity gospel teaching flooding our Christian churches and networks, we knew the majority of Puerto Ricans were not spiritually prepared to deal with a dream-shattering disaster like this.

But God, who loves us and works everything for our good, used these trying times to refocus the spiritual mindset of congregations everywhere, reshaping our understanding of the Christian life as it was intended to be since the beginning of the church in Acts: a group of chosen and saved people living in true community, loving God, loving their spiritual brothers and sisters, and loving the lost souls.

A few days after the hurricane, local congregations started to meet—no programs, no liturgies, no buildings in some cases. They read the Psalms, sang, and prayed. Without jobs and with no utility services at home, a sense of shared community kicked in, and everyone started to look for opportunities to serve the most pressing needs.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, The U.S. Government

(LA Times Front Page) Unrecovered–A year after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico still struggles to regain what hasn’t been lost for good — while fearing the next big one

The rain falling into Bianca Cruz Pichardo’s home in Puerto Rico’s capital forms a small stream from her living room to the kitchen, past a cabinet elevated by cinder blocks.

The living room is dark, save for some light coming from the kitchen and a bedroom. The 25-year-old cannot bring herself to install light bulbs in the ceiling’s sockets because she fears being electrocuted.

For a year, her landlord in San Juan has told her he will repair damage caused when Hurricane Maria ripped through the island last September, she said, but still nothing. The worst of the rain is kept out by a blue tarp that serves as a temporary roof.

“He says, ‘This week I’ll bring the materials over,’” she said recently. “But he doesn’t do anything.”

Throughout Puerto Rico, the destruction caused by the devastating wind and rain generated by the Category 4 hurricane a year ago Thursday still shapes daily life.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., The U.S. Government

‘Try Not to Go Into Labor’: Tales From Those in the Path of Hurricane Florence

Charles Cejka, Edenton, N.C.
Unfortunately, my family does not have the resources to put gas in our vehicle. If we did, the gas pumps here in Edenton, N.C., are empty just minutes after being filled it seems. Long lines of cars wait for fuel to arrive.

I, myself, came here to this city to care for my father, who was diagnosed with cancer, with next to nothing to my name.

We have no way out, so we are staying. We live together in a double-wide trailer.

The family and I have spent the last two days determining what takes precedence to pack and store away. We have prepared meals ahead of time. I bagged up paperwork and made many of my meals ready to eat and water filtration materials available for use. We struggled to find water to store with so many store shelves bare, but we managed.

As Hurricane Florence gets closer, our fingernails seem to get shorter. All this family can do is double-check things, lose a bit of sleep and pray.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Economy, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Personal Finance, Weather

(FT) The UK facing is ‘crisis of capitalism’, says Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has warned that Britain is facing a “crisis of capitalism”, citing excessive executive pay and unrepentant bankers as symptoms of a system that was teetering on a precipice.

Mr Welby claimed that many in Britain’s economic elite had failed to learn the lessons of the 2008 financial crisis, that bankers still felt a sense of “cultural entitlement” and that market capitalism was in peril.

“Things could go very seriously wrong,” the former oil executive told the Financial Times in an interview, warning that growing public anger about inequality was fuelling extremism in many parts of the world.

“It can turn very, very strongly against business,” he said. “So you can get a snap back of the elastic, which is not good for business or for society because it’s a revenge regulation.”

“It’s more than a crisis of capitalism, it’s also a national crisis.” The archbishop said the country faced a moment of choice, and that a new moral dimension had to be introduced into Britain’s economy before it was too late.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–How are we as Christians to understand Work? (For Labor Day)

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Posted in * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology, Theology: Scripture