Category : Consumer/consumer spending

(DHEC) South Carolina announces 528 new cases of COVID19 and 7 additional deaths

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) today announced 528 new cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 and 7 additional deaths.

This brings the total number of people confirmed to have COVID-19 in South Carolina to 15,759 and those who have died to 575.

Five of the deaths occurred in elderly individuals from Chesterfield (1), Florence (1), Greenville (2), and Spartanburg (1) counties, and 2 middle-aged individuals from Greenville (1) and Newberry (1) counties.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, State Government

(The State) As South Carolina surpasses 15,000 COVID19 cases, infection rates, hospitalizations hit new highs

Following a record breaking day, Department of Health and Environmental Control officials announced Tuesday that South Carolina has surpassed 15,000 coronavirus cases.

On Tuesday, 434 more people tested positive for the virus, and 11 additional people have died after contracting it, DHEC officials said. The 434 represented 14.7% of the total daily number of tests results reported Tuesday — the highest daily rate of infection the state has seen in at least the last 28 days.

Another statistic also is rapidly rising: the number of hospital beds across the state occupied by patients with confirmed COVID-19 cases or who are under investigation for the disease. On Saturday, for example, the state had 482 COVID patients being treated in hospital. In just two days, that number has rocketed up to 541.

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

A Second Straight Record Day of New Coronavirus Cases in South Carolina

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) today announced 512 new cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 and 7 additional deaths.

This brings the total number of people confirmed to have COVID-19 in South Carolina to 13,916 and those who have died to 545.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, State Government

(The State) South Carolina ends record breaking week with 447 new coronavirus cases

The coronavirus has continued its speedy spread across South Carolina, with state officials announcing 447 new infections on Friday, setting a new record for the largest single-day increase in cases, state Department of Health and Environmental Control officials said in a statement.

In all, 13,453 people have tested positive for the virus across the state. Also announced Friday were an additional 13 deaths, bringing the death toll to 538.

The latest case and death statistics come near the end of a record week. Over the last week, state health officials have seen record high case numbers each day, including three days with more than 300 cases and two days with more than 400, topping the previous records set in April and May by dozens of cases.

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

(The State) Coronavirus case total in South Carolina grows by 361. Officials note seven more deaths

The new cases are the latest indicator that South Carolina is seeing an increase in coronavirus activity. Over the past few weeks, DHEC officials have noted high weekly case numbers, higher seven-day average number of cases and increasing percents of tests that turn up positive.

Four of the last seven days have seen more than 300 cases, a milestone the state never reached before.

Thursday, officials said that 5.5% of tests conducted the previous day were positive.

And even those metrics don’t paint a complete picture of the coronavirus’ spread across South Carolina. DHEC officials estimate that as much as 86% of people who have contracted the virus have not been tested. As of Thursday, they estimated that a total of 92,900 people across the state had actually contracted the virus.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Death / Burial / Funerals, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, State Government

DHEC South Carolina’s Latest Covid19 Update–People are Reminded to Take Actions to Limit Spread of COVID-19

As restrictions are reduced by reopenings and South Carolinians return to their workplaces and participate in recreational activities that might involve crowds, DHEC continues to urge everyone to be vigilant in practicing social distancing and wearing masks to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

This reminder comes amid public health experts’ concerns over the recent rise in COVID-19 data trends in South Carolina.

“The more people you expose yourself to, the more you multiply your risk of being exposed to the virus,” said Dr. Linda Bell, state epidemiologist. “There are those who are finding ways to hold graduations and open businesses safely through careful planning and attention to crowd density and safety measures such as wearing masks. When we don’t do those things, we can put ourselves and others at risk, and case counts will rise.”

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Posted in * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, State Government

(Bloomberg) Australia’s Water Is Vanishing

The early afternoon sun was pounding the parched soil, and Gus Whyte was pulling on his dust-caked cowboy boots to take me for a drive. We’d just finished lunch—cured ham, a loaf of bread I’d bought on the trip up, chutney pickled by Whyte’s wife, Kelly—at his house in Anabranch South, which isn’t a town but rather a fuzzy cartographic notion in the far west of New South Wales, a seven-hour drive from Melbourne and half as far again from Sydney. I’d been grateful, as I pulled off the blacktop of the Silver City Highway to cover the last 10 miles or so, that I’d rented the biggest 4×4 Hertz could give me. I was on a dirt road, technically, but the dirt was mostly sand, punctuated with rocks the size of small livestock and marked only by the faintest of tire tracks.

We climbed into Whyte’s pickup, and I reached instinctively over my shoulder. “Don’t worry about seat belts,” he said, amiably but firmly. “I know it’s a habit.” His Jack Russell terrier, Molly, balanced herself on his lap as he drove.

Whyte, who has reddish-brown hair, sheltered his ruddy, sun-weathered face beneath a battered bush hat. He raises livestock, mostly sheep and some cattle, on nearly 80,000 acres. Normally he’d run about 7,500 sheep, but he was down to 2,000. There wasn’t enough water for more. “I can’t remember it being this dry,” he said. “It’s disheartening to see a landscape like this. You hate it. This is where I was born and grew up, and it means the world to me.”

He kept driving, rattling off statistics about rainfall (down) and temperatures (up). Every so often he’d stop and get out to check on one of the storage tanks dotting the property, which held what little water he had. After a while we pulled onto the crest of a small hill, and Whyte pointed out Yelta Lake, a kidney-shaped landmark that’s colored, on maps, in a reassuringly cool blue. In real life it was the same dun color as everything else. “It hasn’t had any water in it since 2014,” he said.

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Posted in Australia / NZ, Climate Change, Weather, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology

(The State) DHEC reports 285 new South Carolina coronavirus cases and one additional death

South Carolina’s coronavirus case count continued to grow Tuesday after Department of Health and Environmental Control officials announced that tests had resulted in an additional 285 positive infections across the state.

The latest daily case count, which marked the fourth day in a row that more than 200 infections had been identified, brings the total number of COVID-19 cases statewide to 12,415.

The death toll also increased to 501 after one person who contracted the virus died. That person was elderly and from Horry County.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, State Government

(Local Paper) South Carolina officials report 297 new coronavirus cases as deaths reach 500

South Carolina logged 297 new cases of the coronavirus on Monday and reported six new deaths.

Across the state, 12,148 people have now tested positive for the virus, while 500 people have died.

The six newly deceased patients were people above the age of 65 from Colleton, Fairfield, Horry and Lexington counties.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, State Government

Yesterday’s NYT Front Page–Renters Out of Work, Money And, Very Soon, Their Homes

The United States, already wrestling with an economic collapse not seen in a generation, is facing a wave of evictions as government relief payments and legal protections run out for millions of out-of-work Americans who have little financial cushion and few choices when looking for new housing.

The hardest hit are tenants who had low incomes and little savings even before the pandemic, and whose housing costs ate up more of their paychecks. They were also more likely to work in industries where job losses have been particularly severe.

Temporary government assistance has helped, as have government orders that put evictions on hold in many cities. But evictions will soon be allowed in about half of the states, according to Emily A. Benfer, a housing expert and associate professor at Columbia Law School who is tracking eviction policies.

“I think we will enter into a severe renter crisis and very quickly,” Professor Benfer said. Without a new round of government intervention, she added, “we will have an avalanche of evictions across the country.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance

South Carolina Daily Reported Cases of Covid19 take an encouraging turn down

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) today announced 156 new cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 and 4 additional deaths.

This brings the total number of people confirmed to have COVID-19 in South Carolina to 10,788 and those who have died to 470.

The deaths occurred in 4 elderly individuals from Chesterfield (1), Fairfield (1), Greenville (1), and York (1) counties.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, State Government

Latest Figures–No new coronavirus deaths as South Carolina logs 276 new cases, bringing the total to 8,661

At least 8,661 people in South Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus and 380 have died, according to state health officials.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reported…[over 250] new cases of the virus and no additional deaths Friday.

Patients who died were residents of Sumter, Cherokee, Clarendon, Fairfield, Florence and Pickens counties, according to health officials.

Worldwide, more than 4.6 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported and more than 310,000 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 1.4 million cases and 88,000 deaths have been reported in the United States.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, State Government

(Local Paper) How Summerville, South Carolina businesses have managed amid the coronavirus pandemic

Like countless cities and towns across South Carolina and the world, Summerville was uprooted by a pandemic that left residents secluded at home and many businesses either adjusting their services or closing down shops.

It has led to a delay in the annual Flowertown Festival, an event that brings thousands of tourists and potential customers to Summerville in April. It’s also led to less foot traffic in a town with dozens of small businesses that rely on local customers.

For some owners, this has meant a complete remodeling of their business practices.

The Greater Summerville/Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce recently put out a survey to grasp how the pandemic has impacted local business owners in the area.

Seventy owners have responded so far. Around half were able to remain open while following guidelines. The rest had to either rely solely on new virtual services or close doors completely, like Sutton’s salon.

“It’s a very scary and very pressing time for people,” said Rita Berry, president of the chamber.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Health & Medicine

(NPR) Coronavirus Latest: Despite Trump’s Optimism, There’s Still A Long Road To Reopening

1. How do issues with testing impact governors’ ability to meet the benchmarks laid out in the guidelines?

Testing remains one of the biggest problems with containing the coronavirus and allowing places to move toward recovery. Despite Trump’s boasts, testing is still not widespread in the U.S. Not everyone who wants a test can get one. Only people with symptoms are getting them — and not all of them are — and asymptomatic people are able to spread the disease. That means no one really knows just how widespread the virus is. And without a vaccine or known treatment, there’s the risk of more outbreaks….

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Donald Trump, State 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

(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.”

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

(Guardian) The highest YouTube earner this year? An eight-year-old

An eight-year-old YouTube presenter has topped its list of high earners, making $26m last year.

Ryan Kaji (real name Gaun) made his toy review empire unboxing toys on YouTube from when he was just three. Now the eight-year-old has his face on toys and gets spotted in the supermarket.

A video from four years ago shows him woken from a toy-car bed by his parents, to find a giant egg with toys inside next to him. His speech is not yet fully developed – in the intro he says “welcomes to Ryan toy review”.

He plays with a series of toys that he retrieves from the egg, including a large racetrack that he puts toy cars on. Everything in the room, from his bed to the toys he plays with, is on the theme of the popular Pixar movie Cars.

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Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Children, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Globalization

(NYT) One Nation, Tracked: An Investigation Into The Smartphone Tracking Industry

For many Americans, the only real risk they face from having their information exposed would be embarrassment or inconvenience. But for others, like survivors of abuse, the risks could be substantial. And who can say what practices or relationships any given individual might want to keep private, to withhold from friends, family, employers or the government? We found hundreds of pings in mosques and churches, abortion clinics, queer spaces and other sensitive areas.

In one case, we observed a change in the regular movements of a Microsoft engineer. He made a visit one Tuesday afternoon to the main Seattle campus of a Microsoft competitor, Amazon. The following month, he started a new job at Amazon. It took minutes to identify him as Ben Broili, a manager now for Amazon Prime Air, a drone delivery service.

“I can’t say I’m surprised,” Mr. Broili told us in early December. “But knowing that you all can get ahold of it and comb through and place me to see where I work and live — that’s weird.” That we could so easily discern that Mr. Broili was out on a job interview raises some obvious questions, like: Could the internal location surveillance of executives and employees become standard corporate practice?

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Science & Technology

(FT) Some of Brazil’s evangelical church preach the Bolsonaro revolution

Paulo Guedes, Mr Bolsonaro’s economy minister, was spotted in Congress recently wearing a bracelet with a Bible verse given to him by an evangelical pastor. “These guys support the president,” he beamed. Mr Guedes is leading his own crusade to bring the free-market economics he learnt from Milton Friedman in Chicago to his homeland. The Universal Church’s message that state handouts are no way to live is music to his ears.

The Sunday service featured on its giant screens the story of a believer who raised himself from scavenging on a rubbish dump at the age of 17 to the ranks of the bourgeoisie. Now a successful lawyer and the proud owner of three apartments, he was invited on stage by Mr Macedo to explain how his devotion to the church had transformed his life. His strict adherence to a rule that believers tithe one-tenth of their income to the church — even when eking out an existence on a rubbish dump — was emphasised repeatedly.

Mr Mendonça says the message is an entrepreneurial one. “The same things you hear at a seminar for people starting their own business — the need to believe in your potential and in what you do, to be creative and to take risks — are exactly the same” as the advice in church, he says.

The formula has worked for Mr Macedo. His personal wealth has been estimated by Forbes magazine at $1.1bn, making him one of the world’s richest religious leaders.

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Posted in Anthropology, Brazil, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(IP) How some American Christians distort the gospel

Watch and listen to it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Techcrunch) Twitter updates hate speech rules to include dehumanizing speech around religion

Against a backdrop of rising violence against religious minorities around the world, Twitter today said that it would update its hateful conduct rules to include dehumanizing speech against religious groups.

“After months of conversations and feedback from the public, external experts and our own teams, we’re expanding our rules against hateful conduct to include language that dehumanizes others on the basis of religion,” the company wrote on its Twitter Safety blog.

The company said it will require tweets that target specific religious groups to be removed as violations of the company’s code of conduct.

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Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture

A Statement from InterVarsity Press on Counterfeiting Books

You may have seen the recent article in Christianity Today describing two of our books, Liturgy of the Ordinary and Delighting in the Trinity, which have been sold in counterfeit editions by re-sellers on Amazon.

As the article stated, in response to InterVarsity Press’s proactively filing a formal complaint through Amazon’s standard protocols and after Christianity Today had made contact with its media relations team, Amazon removed the re-sellers of the counterfeit editions from its store. We are grateful for Amazon’s response to our complaint and its expressed openness to hear directly from us if we encounter counterfeit editions in the future. We consider Amazon a valued trade partner and recognize the extraordinary place it occupies in the global supply chain for books.

We have recently invested in a new service which allows us to more closely monitor our data distribution and to routinely pull a report of who is controlling the Amazon buy button on each of our books.

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Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Books, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology

(CT) Amazon Sold $240K of ‘Liturgy of the Ordinary’ Fakes, Publisher Says

IVP estimates that at least 15,000 counterfeit copies of Liturgy of the Ordinary were sold on the site over the past nine months, their retail value totaling $240,000. That nearly cuts sales of Warren’s book in half; IVP reported 23,000 legitimate copies were sold over the past year. IVP also found evidence of counterfeiting on a smaller scale for one other title, Michael Reeves’s Delighting in the Trinity, which came out in 2002.

“I’ve been constantly thinking of the verse about, ‘Do not store up treasures where moths and rust can destroy, and where thieves can steal, but store up your treasures where moths and rust cannot destroy and thieves cannot steal’ (Matt. 6:19–20), and it’s really hard to process,” Warren told CT last week, a day after she learned about the scope of the fraud when IVP officials called her at her home in Pittsburgh.

“It’s a huge loss of money for my family. Percentagewise of what I make as a writer, it’s an enormous amount of that.”

Read it all.

Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Books, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues

(AM) Andrew Symes–“We don’t do prosperity theology” – or do we?

Historically, among white British Christians there has probably been a more natural tendency towards emphasis on the stiff upper lip against adversity and even poverty rather than expectation of miraculous and abundant provision. There remains a suspicion of demagoguery; also, the huge improvement in living standards generally over the past 50 years has meant less fertile ground for the preachers appealing to those desperate for supernatural intervention in personal fortunes. As Joel Edwards comments:

“Most traditional evangelicals …who belong to affluent churches have less need of a God who acts vibrantly in the material world… the prosperity gospel and its audacious faith holds little cultural or theological attraction”.

But is this the whole story? Perhaps most challengingly from this book, experienced mission leader Eddie Arthur warns the British church against arrogance and complacency. We might not be taken in by the white-suited emotional preachers, but have we unwittingly swallowed other forms of prosperity teaching without realizing it?

Certainly we’re not immune from consumerism. When as lay people we drive half an hour to a large church, is it because of the “good teaching”, or the well-staffed kids work, excellent coffee, numerous programmes and sense of ‘success’? As clergy faced with powerful pressure to conform to new ethical norms, or making decisions about ministry, do we tend to prioritize personal comfort and steer away from sacrifice, rationalizing perhaps that the more godly approach is to keep quiet in the face of obvious wrong (for the sake of “continued opportunities for the gospel”) rather than speaking out?

Many Western Christians continue to be generous in their giving and humble and servant hearted in their leadership – these are good ways of counteracting greed and hunger for power in ministry. But as our affluence increases at the same time as the possibility of persecution and the temptation to avoid it through disobedience, the need is more pressing for us to learn from the disadvantaged and suffering parts of the global church which have not succumbed to the prosperity preachers.

Read it all.

Posted in Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Evangelicals, Psychology, Theology

(Wash Post) The sky is falling for fast food, but not for Chick-fil-A. Here’s why.

[David] Portalatin says that industry experts agree that the biggest distinguishing feature for Chick-fil-A is the customer experience.

“The level of customer satisfaction is highly differentiated from many of their fast-food peers.”

Chick-fil-A’s customer service is legendary, prompting rafts of memes enumerating real and imagined over-the-top polite employee interactions.

Global restaurant consultant Aaron Allen says some of this is about the speed of the drive-through and a culture of saying “please” and “thank you.” Some of the positive customer-service experience can be linked to an embrace of technology. In 2016, the chain debuted what it called Mom’s Valet, which let parents order at the drive-through, then go inside where a Chick-fil-A employee would have a table ready.

More recently, the company launched a successful app, and it is routine for employees to walk the drive-through line taking tablet orders to expedite.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Psychology

(Albert Mohler) Would You Trade Eternal Life For A Ferrari? The False Gospel of Prosperity Theology

Edward Luce, the American Editor for the Financial Times, penned [an] article [in the Financial Times in April], which chronicles his visit to Lakewood Church, the most significant temple to the prosperity gospel in America. Luce marshals all his prowess and analytical skill to craft this insightful article—a story that explores the friction between the prosperity gospel of Joel Osteen and the historic, orthodox Christian faith.

Luce’s report not only details what is present in prosperity theology, but what is absent. He attended a men’s support meeting and wrote, “Optimism, hope, destiny, harvest, bounty—these are Lakewood’s buzzwords. Prosperity too.” Then, he reveals the glaring absence of crucial theological terms: “Words that are rarely heard include guilt, shame, sin, penance and hell. Lakewood is not the kind of church that troubles your conscience.” The supervisor of the men’s support group said to Luce, “If you want to feel bad, Lakewood is not the place for you. Most people want to leave church feeling better than when they went in.”

This statement distills the essential message of prosperity theology—a theology not centered on God and his glory, but an anthropocentric psychological message aimed at making individuals merely feel better about themselves.

Indeed, self-promotion undergirds the success of the prosperity gospel. All meaning and significance in the universe revolves around the self. Thus, meaning and identity have shifted away from the self-revealing, self-existing God and towards the self-important, self-worshiping individual whom God loves.

God certainly loves us. Indeed, the Bible says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” The prosperity gospel, however, shifts the impetus of that love away from the praise and glory of the Creatortowards the praise and glory of the creature. Luce captures this sentiment in his report, noting that Osteen said, “If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If he had a computer, your face would be the screen saver.”

Osteen has reversed the entire theological order of biblical Christianity—an order that begins with the supreme priority, glory, and holiness of God.

Read it all (and please note you need an FT subscription to read the Luce article).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Personal Finance, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Theology

(NYT) As Trade War With U.S. Grinds On, Chinese Tourists Stay Away

A new battlefront has opened in the trade war between the United States and China: the $1.6 trillion American travel industry.

A Los Angeles hotel long popular with Chinese travelers saw a 23 percent decline in visits last year and another 10 percent so far this year. In New York City, spending by Chinese tourists, who spend nearly twice as much as other foreign visitors, fell 12 percent in the first quarter. And in San Francisco, busloads of Chinese tourists were once a mainstay of one fine jewelry business; over the last few years, the buses stopped coming.

Figures from the Commerce Department’s National Travel and Tourism Office show a sharp decline in the number of tourists from China last year.

Industry professionals worry that the drop-off is picking up speed this year, affecting not just airlines, hotels and restaurants, but also retailers and attractions like amusement parks and casinos.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Politics in General, Travel

(Unherd) Giles Fraser on the Culture of Choice–Our modern parenting is making monsters

I also suspect that the way we have come to treat children as mini-consumers, little choice-centres, also has something to do with it as well. For nowhere is this choice-inducing anxiety more toxic than in childhood. It used to be that childhood operated under instruction. For the child, life was a series of givens. And this functioned as a sort of emotional security. But now that we are inducting our children into this culture of choice at an ever earlier age, we deprive them of the necessary scaffolding of care, love and support.

It’s a big claim, I know. But it is worth reminding ourselves of an important aspect of our culture of choice: that it absolves people of a responsibility of care towards others. To put it another way, our culture of choice contains this message: I am not responsible for you because you are responsible for you. Are you fat? That’s your choice. Smoke? Your choice. In debt? Your decisions have got you into trouble. It’s all on you.

It is one thing to take this attitude towards adults. But our culture is so saturated with this culture of choice that it has come to apply even to children. I am ashamed to admit that my two year old could operate a remote control almost before he could walk. And instead of presenting him with his tea, I now ask him what he wants. It’s almost as if the poor boy has a menu in hand before he can even read it. Choose, we demand. “What do you want?….”

The reductio ad absurdum of this overblown culture of choice is the case of a man who is currently taking his parents to court because he didn’t choose to be born. Yes, its true. A businessman from Mumbai, Raphael Samuel, 27, is suing his parents because he didn’t ask to be born. Apparently, by conceiving him without his consent, they were infringing his ‘right’ to choose.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Consumer/consumer spending, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Theology

(AI) CANA bishop denounces “prosperity gospel” heresy

“Prosperity gospel” has become a popular tool in today’s secular world. But it is not of the Bible. British professor of sociology Stephen Hunt explains: “In the forefront (of this type of teaching) is the doctrine of the assurance of “divine” physical health and prosperity through faith. In short, this means that “health and wealth” are the automatic divine right of all Bible-believing Christians and may be procreated by faith as part of the package of salvation, since the Atonement of Christ includes not just the removal of sin, but also the removal of sickness and poverty.”

Prosperity gospel asserts that it is God’s will to bless you with good health, happiness, wealth, and anything you believe you must have if you have enough faith to trust God and decree it by your spoken words. Worse than that heretical assertion is that if you don’t have enough faith to decree those things into existence you will not receive such blessings. Prosperity gospel misrepresents God and promotes greed and materialism. It puts our personal needs above our spiritual needs; above the worship of God and his true mission. It is biblically untrue, pastorally cruel, and misdirects people from Christ and his saving gospel to personal well-being. It turns our relationship with God into a quid pro quo relationship wherein God gives to us according to how much we give him- a total denial of saving grace from a gracious God who loved us and saved us when we hated him.

Let me be clear: God wants to bless us in many ways but sometimes he allows us to go through suffering for our own good and for the sake of others. That’s what he did to the Apostle Paul, our Lord Jesus Christ, the martyrs, and Christians across the centuries, despite their strong faith and faithfulness. It is biblical to pray for healing and blessings, trusting God to bless us in accordance with his providence. It is not biblical to teach that God is obligated to prosper you with wealth, health, and happiness because you have enough faith. This has done much damage to individuals in the body of Christ.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., CANA, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Gallup) Seven in 10 Maintain Negative View of U.S. Healthcare System

Seventy percent of Americans describe the current U.S. healthcare system as being “in a state of crisis” or having “major problems.” This is consistent with the 65% to 73% range for this figure in all but one poll since Gallup first asked the question in 1994.

In that one poll — conducted right after the 9/11 attacks in 2001 — just 49% of Americans said the U.S. healthcare system had major problems or was in crisis. This was because of Americans’ heightened concerns about terrorism after the attacks, which temporarily altered their views and behaviors on a variety of issues.

The latest data are from Gallup’s annual Healthcare poll, conducted Nov. 1-11.

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Posted in --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Sociology, Theology