Category : Economy

(Stat News) Biotech VC Bob Nelsen called it right on the coronavirus. Now he has thoughts on therapeutics — and masks

How do we get through this pandemic?

Social distancing is number one; contact tracing and antibody testing are number two; and therapeutics in the fall are number three. And then vaccines. We’re going to be fine. And I know this because the Chinese are asking me all kinds of questions about business stuff that I don’t want to answer because we’re in the middle of a pandemic.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Corporations/Corporate Life, Health & Medicine

(NYT Op-ed) Russell Moore–God Doesn’t Want Us to Sacrifice the Old

A generation ago, the essayist and novelist Wendell Berry told us that the great challenge of our time would be whether we would see life as a machine or as a miracle. The same is true now. The value of a human life is not determined on a balance sheet. We cannot coldly make decisions as to how many people we are willing to lose since “we are all going to die of something.”

A life in a nursing home is a life worth living. A life in a hospital quarantine ward is a life worth living. The lives of our grandparents, the lives of the disabled, the lives of the terminally ill, these are all lives worth living. We will not be able to save every life. Many will die, not only of the obviously vulnerable but also of those who are seemingly young and strong. But every life lost must grip us with a sense of lament, that death itself is not natural but is, as the Bible tells us, an enemy to be withstood and, ultimately, undone.

That means we must listen to medical experts, and do everything possible to avoid the catastrophe we see right now in Italy and elsewhere. We must get back to work, get the economy back on its feet, but we can only do that when doing so will not kill the vulnerable and overwhelm our hospitals, our doctors, our nurses, and our communities.

And along the way we must guard our consciences. We cannot pass by on the side of the road when the elderly, the disabled, the poor, and the vulnerable are in peril before our eyes. We want to hear the sound of cash registers again, but we cannot afford to hear them over the cries of those made in the image of God….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Theology

(NPR) When The President will see a time to reopen the economy remains a very difficult decision with many dimensions

In his Tuesday afternoon briefing with the coronavirus task force, President Trump couched earlier comments about the need to reopen the U.S. economy within weeks, emphasizing the decision would ultimately be data-driven and made in consultation with public health experts.

The president said he still wants Americans working again by Easter Sunday, something he first said during a virtual town hall with Fox earlier in the day. But he was much more circumspect over whether that would be possible from a medical standpoint.

His previous comments about reopening the economy prompted alarm among public health experts across the country, who said it’s far too early. Trump seemed to much more carefully toe the line during his briefing as he talked about “carefully and responsibly reopening the country.”

“I want to assure Americans that we have a team of public health experts … also economists and other professionals working to develop a sophisticated plan to reopen the economy as soon as the time is right, one based on the best science, the best modeling and the best medical research there is anywhere on earth,” he said.

Trump stressed that this is a “medical crisis, this isn’t a financial crisis.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, President Donald Trump

(Local Paper) ‘Essential’ businesses making their case with SC governor to remain open

Gov. Henry McMaster’s office is being inundated with notices from businesses that say they want to continue operating if a shelter-in-place order is issued in response to the coronavirus, even though McMaster said he is not yet considering such an order at this time.

The notices are in response to a federal memo that broadly outlines the types of businesses considered essential to “ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security” during a crisis, such as the current outbreak of coronavirus, known as the COVID-19 pandemic. The memo was issued Thursday by Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security office.

Those essential businesses include sectors such as healthcare, energy and law enforcement as well as transportation, public works and critical manufacturing.

Read it all.

Update: “In his most recent press briefing, Governor Henry McMaster issued an executive order authorizing law enforcement officers in the state to prohibit or disperse any gatherings of people in groups of 3 or more outside of your own home, focusing in on spontaneous gatherings and leaving the decision up to the discretion of the law enforcement officer.”

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, State Government

(AP) As offerings dwindle, some churches fear for their future

As in-person worship services are canceled or downsized amid the coronavirus outbreak, some churches across the U.S. are bracing for a painful drop in weekly contributions and possible cutbacks in programs and staff.

One church leader, Bishop Paul Egensteiner of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Metropolitan New York Synod, said some of the 190 churches in his region were unlikely to survive because of a two-pronged financial hit. Their offerings are dwindling, and they are losing income from tenants such as preschools which can no longer afford to rent church venues.

“As much as I’d like to help them, everybody’s reserves are taking a hit because of the stock market,” Egensteiner said,

At Friendship Baptist Church in Baltimore, a mostly African American congregation of about 1,100, the Rev. Alvin Gwynn Sr. bucked the cancellation trend by holding services last Sunday. But attendance was down by about 50%, and Gwynn said the day’s offering netted about $5,000 compared to a normal intake of about $15,000.

“It cuts into our ministry,” he said. “If this keeps up, we can’t fund all our outreach to help other people.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Economy, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

A Reflection on Saint Joseph the Worker for his Feast Day

ZENIT spoke with Father Tarcisio Giuseppe Stramare of the Congregation of Oblates of Saint Joseph, director of the Josephite Movement, about Tuesday’s feast of St. Joseph the Worker….

ZENIT: What does “Gospel of work” mean?

Father Stramare: “Gospel” is the Good News that refers to Jesus, the Savior of humanity. Well, despite the fact that in general we see Jesus as someone who teaches and does miracles, he was so identified with work that in his time he was regarded as “the son of the carpenter,” namely, an artisan himself. Among many possible activities, the Wisdom of God chose for Jesus manual work, entrusted the education of his Son not to the school of the learned but to a humble artisan, namely, St. Joseph.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Theology

(WSJ) Top Health Official Urges Americans to Stay Home Amid Coronavirus

“Americans should be prepared that they are going to have to hunker down significantly more than we as a country are doing,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Dr. Fauci, appearing on all the major Sunday morning television shows, warned that it could be several weeks to a few months before life in the U.S. begins to return to normal. Dr. Fauci urged people to work from home if they can and practice “social distancing” to prevent a potentially catastrophic spike in infections.

He said he wouldn’t eat at crowded restaurants or fly on planes unless it is necessary, advice that he said applies especially to older Americans and those with health conditions. He said parents should think twice about sending their children out to crowded playgrounds. And young people, even though they appear to be less vulnerable, could be endangering the lives of their grandparents or elderly relatives by not heeding public health warnings, he said.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea to congregate anybody anywhere,” Dr. Fauci said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

As Dr. Fauci issued his warnings, the Trump administration grappled with how to handle an influx of Americans and other travelers into the country, who were clogging customs at major airports in response to the European travel ban.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, The U.S. Government

(Stat News) Coronavirus testing is starting to get better — but it has a long way to go

The Roche case offers some encouragement: Brown said that the company started working on its new test last month, and finished the work in six weeks. Roche asked the FDA for emergency clearance earlier this week, and received it around the stroke of midnight Friday. As he announced a national emergency Friday afternoon, President Trump promised that testing capacity would eventually reach 5 million.

Testing serves two purposes. It can tell whether an individual person is sick. But it also acts as our way of knowing how bad the epidemic is, and where it is worst. Other types of technologies might help with the second part, if not the first. Blood tests that look to see if people have antibodies for SARS-CoV-2 –when they become available — can tell us how many people have had Covid-19. Next-generation DNA sequencing technologies could also play a role in monitoring it.

Through all this, the CDC and other health officials now need to follow an old maxim: Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Regulatory standards are important, and if the U.S. had organized its response sooner, getting the developers of diagnostic tests and major labs ready, there would have been time for an orderly process. But this is an emergency. And there is a need for speed.

Read it all.

Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology, The U.S. Government

EF Interviews Jonathan Tame, the Director of the Jubilee Centre in Cambridge–“The Bible says debt is a form of enslavement, and interest a means of oppression”

Q. You mentioned the precarious jobs and low wages. An example of that is a much praised film in the UK, titled “Sorry We Missed You”, a story about a man who starts working as a deliveryman in one of the new businesses such as Amazon, Uber… What ‘curses’ come with these new types of jobs linked to mobile phone ‘apps’ and the new ‘needs’ of costumers to have everything as fast and as cheap as possible?

A. Yes, it has been very interesting in the last decade that the combination of the new technologies that developed, especially smartphone apps, and that high unemployment at the beginning of the decade following the financial crisis, created the perfect conditions for what we call the ‘gig economy’ to emerge.

This form of capitalism, if you like, has developed where we have a cultural individualism and a market economy; but the consumer’s choice and freedom are becoming the most important thing of all. So we have 24/7 shopping, and somehow, we accept the ‘curse’ zero-hours contracts. And people who have to deliver this service are people we don’t really see, that are kind of invisible and anonymous. They are working having very anti-social hours and often not given much advance warning, only one day or two before they are told when they can work. This makes the worker in this ‘gig economy’… Well, it is a new kind of oppression, to be honest.

The loss of rights, the loss of freedom, especially for family relationships which came out in the film, is a very high price to pay for this new kind of consumerism – the new way we do buying and selling. So yes, it is something we should look out very critically.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance, Personal Finance & Investing, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(PCN) Dean’s Beans: Blackburn Cathedral launches new coffee business

Blackburn Cathedral is launching its very own blend of coffee in the latest of its drinks businesses set up to boost its mission and ministry.

Hot on the heels of the first ever cathedral branded gin, Dean’s Beans Coffee has been produced by a local company and will be sold in the cathedral’s cafe.

Like its gin business, it’s hoped the coffee will soon be stocked in supermarkets.

Named in honour of the Dean of Blackburn Very Rev Peter Howell-Jones, Dean’s Beans retails at £5 a 225g bag for both ground and beans.

A tea business is expected to launch later this year too.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Economy, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(USA Today) Midwest farmers face a crisis. Hundreds are dying by suicide.

Heather Utter, whose husband’s cousin was the third to die by suicide, worries that her father could be next. The longtime dairy farmer, who for years struggled to keep his operation afloat, sold the last of his cows in January amid his declining health and dwindling finances. The decision crushed him.

“He’s done nothing but milk cows all his life,” said Utter, whose father declined to be interviewed.

“It was a big decision, a sad decision. But at what point do you say enough is enough?”

American farmers produce nearly all of the country’s food and contribute some $133 billion annually to the gross domestic product….

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Economy, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Suicide

(WSJ) Nathan Lewin–The US Supreme Court Justices Punt on Religious Liberty

[Justice Byron] White then rejected the notion that TWA should have to pay “premium wages” to a substitute, wrecking employment opportunities for many religiously observant employees. “To require TWA to bear more than a de minimis cost in order to give Mr. Hardison Saturdays off is an undue hardship,” he wrote. He justified this repudiation of respect for conscience by declaring that if TWA bore any cost whatever, it “would involve unequal treatment of employees on the basis of their religion.” Never mind that any accommodation by definition results in unequal treatment.

Accommodating religious observance usually requires more than “de minimis” cost and inconvenience. By defining religious accommodation as voluntary cost-free etiquette, Justice White empowered bosses to treat an employees’ religion as a mere inconvenience.

Justice Thurgood Marshall declared in dissent: “Today’s decision deals a fatal blow to all efforts under Title VII to accommodate work requirements to religious practices.” He concluded that “one of this Nation’s pillars of strength—our hospitality to religious diversity—has been seriously eroded.”

In Patterson v. Walgreen, the drugstore chain claimed that it had accommodated Mr. Patterson’s religious observance by offering him a lower-paying position in which he could observe the sabbath and by allowing him to swap shifts with other employees who wouldn’t have to be paid extra. Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch said they were prepared to overrule White’s noxious Hardison declaration. But they believed there were too many technical hurdles in Patterson v. Walgreen to make it “a good vehicle for revisiting Hardison.”

I am an Orthodox Jew, and I’ve been blessed with accommodative employers for nearly all of my professional life. Read it all.

Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court

(CT) Advice for Churches from the Surgeon General: Preparing Your Church for Coronavirus

First, communicate well with your church when it comes to your commitment to keep your people as healthy as possible.

This includes reminding your people that if they have any type of symptoms of coughing, sneezing, fever, nausea, achiness, or any flu-like symptom, to stay home. Remind them that you love them, but that you can see them next week if they are experiencing anything that may be contagious.

Second, reeducate your church staff and volunteers regarding good hygiene for all.

Especially those working with older and younger populations need to enforce the importance of hand-washing and good health practices with all those in your programs. Remind them that we need to be especially cautious of those who may have suppressed immune systems.

Finally, now might be a good time to (at least temporarily) modify routines that may threaten to spread disease.

For example, during the greeting time (if you have one), encourage people to simply say hello instead of shaking hands or hugging. (We used elbow bumps in our meeting this morning.) Already churches have been considering altering their practices, and it appears to be time to increase those measures just a bit.

The Surgeon General emphasized that we will know a lot more “in a week or two” on how this will play out, and in some places “large public gatherings” such as church services may have to be restricted.

However, social distancing is something that should start happening now. I specifically asked if we should be limiting church activities like shaking hands. He responded, “It is prudent to limit touching, especially hand-to-hand.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, The U.S. Government

(FB) Charles Fain Lehman Reviews Ross Douthat’s ‘The Decadent Society’

Each of Douthat’s “four horsemen of decadence”—economic stagnation, collective infertility, political sclerosis, and cultural repetition—represents structural choices to sacrifice the future for the present. Weak innovation is driven by selecting short-term returns over investment, and by a publish-or-perish paradigm that makes careers but not discoveries. Collapsing fertility rates reflect deferred childbearing, spending the future social and personal benefits of children to ensure individuals’ present stability. Sclerosis is produced by a political class that clings to its own power, at the cost of training a future elite. And cultural repetition is in large part a product of Hollywood playing it safe, churning out blockbuster pablum instead of investing in something that might fail.

In other words, what is meant by “decadence” is in part “risk-averseness.” Where once we dared to do impossible things in the hope of a better tomorrow, now we pour everything possible into simply preserving the status quo.

The book’s last section sees Douthat imagining ways we could break out of this feedback loop. Through three chapters, he considers a societal collapse driven by mass strife over immigration, a la Michel Houllebecq; a rising Africa driving “renaissance,” and a return either to the will to power through renewed space exploration, or the will to meaning through a religious revival.

Even in the case of catastrophe, Douthat seems to see such regime-shattering possibilities as fundamentally positive. The return of history, even in its worst forms, might be better than the eternal now. As writer Tara Isabella Burton put it in her own review, “What we need, Douthat implies, is a renewed eschatological vision of what history, and what we, are for [emphasis in original].” It is little surprise that among Douthat’s many positive reviewers is arch-techno-optimist Peter Thiel, who writes that, “If there is a problem with the book, it is that Douthat does not press his own theme [of returning to the future] urgently enough.”

For all the book’s many strengths, there is one question to which Douthat gives perhaps inadequate treatment: Why has decadence happened?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Books, Children, Economy, Marriage & Family

(Church Times) Lincoln diocese ‘living beyond its means’

The diocese of Lincoln — the wealthiest in the Church of Eng­­­­land, with the lowest level of giving — has warned that it cannot continue to sell its assets to balance the books.

This week, a rector in the diocese, who is also a member of the Arch­bishops’ Council’s Finance Com­­­­­mittee, suggested that its historic wealth had “blinded us to the real costs of mission and min­istry”, and that it would be “immoral” to ex­­haust it.

A statement issued by the diocese last week notes that it is running an annual cash deficit of about £3 million, “which has been steadily increasing for some years, and is not sustainable”.

“For several years, bridging the gap between the parish share income and the clergy stipend costs has been met by disposing of our assets,” it says. “Although this does result in an immediate injection of funds, we lose a proportion of the interest (in­­come) on the greater amount of the asset, thus putting further pressure on our finances.

“Whilst the diocese has some his­­­toric assets, by 2021 we will have reached the safe limit of what we can sell off to pay the deficit with­­­­out caus­ing damage to those assets.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Economy, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Express) Anger Bubbles over in Debate in House of Lords on war widows’ pensions

The Treasury has been at the centre of the resistance to demands for change highlighted by our War Widows’ Pensions Crusade.

In 2015 the Government ruled war widows could keep the £7,500-a-year “killed in active service” pension if they remarried.

But around 300 widows missed out as they’d remarried before then and the law was not backdated.

The Bishop of Peterborough, the Rt Rev Donald Allister, said the “particular scandal of this situation is that it only applies to those where the incident causing the death occurred between April 1973 and April 2005”.

Those widowed before or after didn’t lose their benefit if they remarried, he said. “This is complete nonsense and is shameful. It must be put right.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Military / Armed Forces, Pensions, Politics in General

(C of E) Competitions launched for church projects tackling housing crisis

Two competitions aimed at helping local churches to support people in housing need – from advocacy and advice for vulnerable tenants to ‘micro-housing’ schemes on church land – are launched today by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commission on Housing, Church and Community.

The Project Lab competition, run in partnership with the Cinnamon Network, will identify five church projects working to support local people with housing needs and building community. These might include mentoring and befriending services, tenancy training and advocacy on behalf of vulnerable clients, including mediating with landlords.

The five finalists will be invited to an event in July, at which they will present their projects to an audience of philanthropists and a panel of judges. Two winning projects will receive a £30,000 development grant and there are up to five places available on the two-year ‘Cinnamon Project Incubator’ – where projects will receive support from industry professionals to develop their initiative.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Housing/Real Estate Market, Religion & Culture

(Gallup) Is Working Remotely Effective? Gallup Research Says Yes

Recently, several federal agencies reported they’re scaling back remote work programs, citing a lack of data regarding remote workers’ effectiveness.

“Given our current service challenges and lack of data on [the agency’s telework policy’s] impact on public service,” Social Security Administration spokesman Mark Hinkle told The Washington Post, “now is not the time to experiment with working at home.”

And a 2016 U.S. Government Accountability Office report on federal telework stated that the agencies it studied “had little data to support the benefits or costs associated with their telework programs. All of the selected agencies could provide some supporting documentation for some of the benefits and only two could provide supporting documentation for some of the costs.”

Gallup analytics has the data.

And the data are clear: Remote work not only improves outcomes and employee branding but is a policy that the most talented employees desire.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Science & Technology

(FT) Behind closed doors: modern slavery in Kensington, featuring the C of E parish Saint John’s, Notting Hill

….the domestic worker from Mindanao in the southern Philippines ended two years of overwork, underpayment and underfeeding by slipping through a throng of people and into the street. As she headed between the elegant Victorian apartment blocks of Harrington Road, she asked for God’s help.

“As I’m walking, I’m praying, ‘Lord, bring me to your people,’” Canuday recalls.

Her prayer was answered. After a little more than two miles, Canuday, a slight, round-faced woman who is now 50, heard Filipino religious music coming from a west London church. When she followed it, she found herself at a service being conducted in Tagalog, the country’s most widely spoken language.

Members of the congregation sat her down, gave her coffee and food and offered reassurance. Today, Canuday remembers the event as an act of divine providence. “God took me to beside people who took care of me,” she says. “They said, ‘Don’t worry; don’t worry — relax.’”

Canuday’s reception at St John’s, Notting Hill — a prominent Gothic-revival building that houses London’s only Tagalog-language Church of England congregation — represented a rare nugget of good fortune for an overseas worker fleeing an abusive employer in the UK.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Religion & Culture, Violence, Women

(NPR) Amid Census Concerns, Religious Leaders Asked To Quell Fears

JUDITH ANN KARAM: The outcome of the census is important because it signifies the dignity of the human person and resources that impact the quality of life of each individual. That is so fundamental to not only Catholic social teaching.

[HANSI LO] WANG: Sister Karam said it’s fundamental across many other faith traditions. It’s a U.S. tradition to use census numbers to determine each state’s share of congressional seats and Electoral College votes, as well as the redrawing of voting districts. During the summit, Census Bureau officials tried to counter worries that census data could be misused.

DILLINGHAM: The data comes in and statistics go out – numbers.

WANG: Federal law also prohibits the bureau from releasing information identifying individuals until 72 years after the information is collected. But Pastor John Zayas of Grace and Peace Church in Chicago raised concerns about how the Trump administration may try to misuse census data to help ICE officers carry out immigration raids.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Census/Census Data, Religion & Culture

(ESPN FC) Manchester City to appeal 2-year UEFA competition ban for FFP (financial fair play) violations

Manchester City will appeal UEFA’s decision to ban the club for two seasons from European competition — including the Champions League — after the governing body found them guilty of breaching financial fair play rules.

UEFA announced on Friday that the reigning Premier League champions will be excluded from the Champions League for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 campaigns and have also been fined €30 million ($33 million) for “overstating its sponsorship revenue in its accounts” and failing “to cooperate in the investigation,” according to findings by the UEFA Adjudicatory Chamber.

In response, City said they were “disappointed but not surprised” by the ruling and gave notice of their intention to lodge an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Sources have told ESPN that City believe UEFA’s process has been flawed and that they remain confident they will be cleared of any wrongdoing once their appeal is heard by an independent body. Sources have told ESPN that, until then, the club will go about their business “as usual.”

Read it all.

Posted in Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Men, Sports

([London] Times) Oversized vicarages send wrong message to the poor, warns rector

Plush vicarages put off working class Christians claims a priest as the Church of England warns of a “serious threat” to its future in poorer areas.

In a debate about struggling to reach people on low-income backgrounds, Rev Canon Chris Tebbutt, rector of Canford Magna, Salisbury, said he had forged much better relationships with his community after giving up a seven-bedroom “manor house” to live in a new local development.

“Clergy housing is a hugely important factor for mission and evangelism,” he said. “Inappropriate housing sends out totally the wrong message to the community.” The vicarage is now occupied by an archdeacon, he added.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Housing/Real Estate Market, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Stewardship

(AP) More US firms are boosting faith-based support for employees

It has become standard practice for U.S. corporations to assure employees of support regardless of their race, gender or sexual orientation. There’s now an intensifying push to ensure that companies are similarly supportive and inclusive when it comes to employees’ religious beliefs.

One barometer: More than 20% of the Fortune 100 have established faith-based employee resource groups, according to an AP examination and there’s a high-powered conference taking place this week in Washington aimed at expanding those ranks.

“Corporate America is at a tipping point toward giving religion similar attention to that given the other major diversity categories,” says Brian Grim, founder and president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation that’s co-hosting the conference along with the Catholic University of America’s Busch School of Business.

A few companies have long-established faith-in-the-workplace programs, such as Arkansas-based Tyson Foods, which deploys a team of more than 90 chaplains to comfort and counsel employees at its plants and offices. That program began in 2000.

Read it all.

Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Religion & Culture

(NPR) Preparing For The End Of The World, On A Budget

At first glance, this modest home nestled against a hillside in the mountains somewhere west of Colorado Springs appears to have all the amenities you’d expect in a quiet retreat. There’s even a two-story tower built right in. An otherwise peaceful place to catch the 360-degree view of winter’s splendor.

“[It’s a] really nice place to sit and vacation — enjoy. But, if necessary, it’s a guard post,” Drew Miller pointed out.

A Harvard Ph.D. and former military intelligence officer with 30 years of experience, Miller would know a good defensible spot when he sees it. Miller is a self-described “prepper,” someone who makes active preparations to survive the fall of human civilization. The nationwide prepper community is often painted as composed of conspiracy-crazed eccentrics, he said, thanks in large part to television shows such as the National Geographic Channel’s Doomsday Preppers.

It’s a reputation he soundly rejects.

“These are people who are smartly concerned, who want some insurance so that if the electric system goes down, a pandemic occurs, you know, they can survive,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Economy, Eschatology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture

(Atlantic) The Great Affordability Crisis Breaking America–In one of the best decades the American economy has ever recorded, families were bled dry

In the 2010s, the national unemployment rate dropped from a high of 9.9 percent to its current rate of just 3.5 percent. The economy expanded each and every year. Wages picked up for high-income workers as soon as the Great Recession ended, and picked up for lower-income workers in the second half of the decade. Americans’ confidence in the economy hit its highest point since 2000, right before the dot-com bubble burst. The headline economic numbers looked good, if not great.

But beyond the headline economic numbers, a multifarious and strangely invisible economic crisis metastasized: Let’s call it the Great Affordability Crisis. This crisis involved not just what families earned but the other half of the ledger, too—how they spent their earnings. In one of the best decades the American economy has ever recorded, families were bled dry by landlords, hospital administrators, university bursars, and child-care centers. For millions, a roaring economy felt precarious or downright terrible.

Viewing the economy through a cost-of-living paradigm helps explain why roughly two in five American adults would struggle to come up with $400 in an emergency so many years after the Great Recession ended. It helps explain why one in five adults is unable to pay the current month’s bills in full. It demonstrates why a surprise furnace-repair bill, parking ticket, court fee, or medical expense remains ruinous for so many American families, despite all the wealth this country has generated. Fully one in three households is classified as “financially fragile.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Economy, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance & Investing

Sunday Afternoon Encouragement–(NBC) Beer can leads to Minnesota woman reuniting with missing dog after 3 years

A Minnesota woman was reunited with her dog, Hazel, this week after spotting her missing pet’s picture on a Florida brewery’s beer can.

The road back together for Monica Mathis, 33, and Hazel began last month when Mathis was scrolling through Facebook and saw a picture of a dog that looked familiar. It was Hazel, her mixed breed that had been missing for three years.

What Mathis had hit upon was a label posted on Facebook from Motorworks Brewing, of Bradenton, Florida, which featured four adoptable dogs, including Hazel. Proceeds from sales of the cans were destined for a fund to build a new county animal shelter.

Read it all or watch the video below (highly recommended).

Posted in Animals, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Corporations/Corporate Life, Marriage & Family, Media

(NYT Op-ed) Ross Douthat–The Age of Decadence

The farther you get from that iPhone glow, the clearer it becomes: Our civilization has entered into decadence.

The word “decadence” is used promiscuously but rarely precisely. In political debates, it’s associated with a lack of resolution in the face of threats — with Neville Chamberlain and W.B. Yeats’s line about the best lacking all conviction. In the popular imagination, it’s associated with sex and gluttony, with pornographic romances and chocolate strawberries. Aesthetically and intellectually it hints at exhaustion, finality — “the feeling, at once oppressive and exalting, of being the last in a series,” in the words of the Russian poet Vyacheslav Ivanov.

But it’s possible to distill a useful definition from all these associations. Following in the footsteps of the great cultural critic Jacques Barzun, we can say that decadence refers to economic stagnation, institutional decay and cultural and intellectual exhaustion at a high level of material prosperity and technological development. Under decadence, Barzun wrote, “The forms of art as of life seem exhausted, the stages of development have been run through. Institutions function painfully. Repetition and frustration are the intolerable result.” He added, “When people accept futility and the absurd as normal, the culture is decadent.” And crucially, the stagnation is often a consequence of previous development: The decadent society is, by definition, a victim of its own success.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Canada, Economy, England / UK, Europe, History, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Reuters) Equinor broadens scope of carbon targets to match rivals

“Repsol has shown the net zero 2050 ambition we need,” said Edward Mason, head of responsible investments at the Church of England, which has been buying shares in oil and gas companies so it can push them to make stronger climate commitments.

“Equinor is doing some great stuff, particularly on (Scope 1 and 2 emissions), but I’m not sure a pledge to halve carbon intensity by 2050 does it any more,” he said on Twitter.

Equinor, which has been building a renewables business mainly focused on offshore wind, will also achieve its renewable investment target sooner than planned, its chief financial officer told Reuters on Thursday.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(CC) Why Andover Newton requires seminarians to take a course from the Yale School of Management

Bill Goettler, associate dean at YDS, says that a quarter of YDS students indicate an interest in taking courses at the SOM, though only a small fraction of that number follow through. By making it a requirement, Andover Newton is nudging people toward a kind of learning that, on some level, they realize they need.

Perhaps most interesting is the way new theological questions can arise in business classes. Washington shared an example of how this happened in the course Strategic Management of Nonprofit Organizations. “I had to answer questions like whether or not nonprofits were supposed to work to no longer be needed, which led me to ask myself this same question as it relates to denominations and churches.”

As long as the world still needs churches, it needs a learned clergy, and the clergy need whatever education is called for by the times. Today congregations are calling out for multidimensional leaders, and business education is rounding out an increasingly important dimension of pastoral ministry.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecclesiology, Economy, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(Economist) Investors at home and abroad are piling into American government debt

In the good old days, America’s budget deficit yawned when the economy was weak and shrank when it was strong. It fell from 13% to 4% of gdp during Barack Obama’s presidency, as the economy recovered from the financial crisis of 2007-09. Today unemployment is at a 50-year low. Yet borrowing is rising fast. Tax cuts in 2017 and higher government spending have widened the deficit to 5.5% of gdp, according to imf data—the largest, by far, of any rich country.

It could soon widen even further. President Donald Trump is thought to want a pre-election giveaway. Fox News is awash with rumours of “Tax Cuts 2.0”. This month the Treasury announced it would issue a 20-year bond, which would lengthen the average maturity of its debt and lock in low interest rates for longer. All this is quite a change for many Republicans, who once accused Mr Obama of profligacy, but now say that trillion-dollar deficits are no big deal. Democratic presidential candidates, meanwhile, are talking about Medicare for All and a Green New Deal. A new consensus on fiscal policy has descended on Washington. Can it hold?

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Budget, Credit Markets, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government