Category : Consumer/consumer spending

Jerri Savuto–Easter Memories: Escaping the Commercial Trap

As I am in the US for the first time in many years, I find myself longing for the simplicity of Maua, Kenya, during Easter time. There Easter has none of the commercial trappings we find here. As I enter grocery stores, discount stores, and department stores I am shocked at the amount of space taken by the Easter candy, bunnies and stuffed animals, baskets, decorations, and new spring clothing. These items take more space than any grocery store has for all their goods in Maua.

I recently read that an estimated $2 billion will be spent on Easter candy this year in the US. Two billion dollars to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who asked us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give water to the thirsty, house the homeless, care for the sick and imprisoned, and welcome the stranger.

Read it all.

Posted in Consumer/consumer spending, Easter, Theology

Easter egg row: Church of England accuses National Trust of ‘airbrushing’ religion out of children’s egg hunt

It was also met with anger by the Archbishop of York, who said the decision to remove the word Easter from the egg hunt logo was tantamount to “spitting on the grave” of John Cadbury, the chocolate firm’s original founder.

He told the Daily Telegraph: “The Cadburys were Great Quaker industrialists. If people visited Birmingham today in the Cadbury World they will discover how Cadbury’s Christian faith influenced his industrial output.

“He built houses for all his workers, he built a Church, he made provision for schools. It is obvious that for him Jesus and justice were two sides of the one coin. To drop Easter from Cadbury’s Easter Egg Hunt in my book is tantamount to spitting on the grave of Cadbury.”

Read it all from the Telegraph.

Posted in Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Easter, England / UK, Religion & Culture

(Globe+Mail) Michael Devillaer: Pot legalization: Canada doesn’t need another profit-seeking drug industry

First, the research is clear that the great majority of current drug-related harm and economic costs arise not from the misuse of illegal drugs but from legal, regulated drugs: tobacco and alcohol. The extent of harm and costs is enormous, and continues year after year.

The epidemic of opioid deaths that has been sweeping across North America had its genesis in the conduct of the legal pharmaceutical drug industry.

Second, we have a history of pan-industry failure to balance revenue interests with the protection of public health. Industries protect their revenue by disregarding existing regulations and opposing the introduction of new evidence-based reforms. They also have a history of breaking the law to maximize revenues.

Third, government has been reluctant to adopt evidence-based regulatory reforms, and the effectiveness of existing regulations is often compromised by permissive enforcement. Rarely-assessed penalties are typically insufficient to discourage recidivism. In sum, drug industry regulation is not simply less than perfect, it is seriously less than adequate, and contributes to the perennial high levels of harm from drug products.

Read it all.

Posted in Canada, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

Do not Take yourself too Seriously Dept.–Church Hunters Episode I from John Crist and Aaron Chewning

Watch and enjoy the whole thing.

Posted in Consumer/consumer spending, Humor / Trivia, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(AP) Pakistan asks Facebook and Twitter to help identify blasphemers

Pakistan said Thursday it has asked Facebook and Twitter to help it identify Pakistanis suspected of blasphemy so that it can prosecute them or pursue their extradition.

Under Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws, anyone found to have insulted Islam or the Prophet Muhammad can be sentenced to death.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said an official in Pakistan’s Washington embassy has approached the two social media companies in an effort to identify Pakistanis, either within the country or abroad, who recently shared material deemed offensive to Islam.

Read it all. Also, WWM has a look at Pakistan’s blasphemy laws there.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pakistan, Religion & Culture

(AP) Besieged by Opioids, City of Everett Wash. says drugmaker knowingly let pills flood black market

As deaths from painkillers and heroin abuse spiked and street crimes increased, the mayor of Everett took major steps to tackle the opioid epidemic devastating this working-class city north of Seattle.

Mayor Ray Stephanson stepped up patrols, hired social workers to ride with officers and pushed for more permanent housing for chronically homeless people. The city says it has spent millions combating OxyContin and heroin abuse — and expects the tab to rise.

So Everett is suing Purdue Pharma, maker of the opioid pain medication OxyContin, in an unusual case that alleges the drugmaker knowingly allowed pills to be funneled into the black market and the city of about 108,000. Everett alleges the drugmaker did nothing to stop it and must pay for damages caused to the community.

Read it all.

Posted in City Government, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Economy, Health & Medicine

Responses to the Washington Supreme Court Ruling (2): Jacob Lupfer

The plain truth is that the Washington religious liberty case is going to be resolved in favor of the proprietor of the business, as it should be.

We need to be as deferential as we can to the rights of conscience, especially as they pertain to small/family businesses. I wouldn’t want the state to harshly fine me if I declined to arrange flowers for the Westboro Baptist Church’s annual banquet.

Progressives are fighting a losing battle, and the optics of financially ruining a 72-year-old grandmother are terrible. If progressives are on the right side of history and we are just moments away from same sex unions being celebrated as marriages by virtually everyone of every faith, then find another florist and leave this poor lady alone.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, State Government, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Responses to the Washington Supreme Court Ruling (1): Rod Dreher

Like I keep saying: this may not be the end of the world, but it is the end of a world. When the might of the State of Washington and the American Civil Liberties Union comes down on the head of gentle, grandmotherly, small-town florist, and seeks her ruin for declining to arrange flowers for a gay wedding, you know that we are dealing with a bottomless well of hatred. You know exactly what we are dealing with here. So, prepare. We are all going to be asked to pay the cost of discipleship. When I interviewed her last summer, Stutzman said to me: “If they can come after me, they can go after anybody.”

True. Expect no justice, tolerance, mercy, or love in these matters. The Religious Right Must Lose. Alliance Defending Freedom, the religious liberty legal organization representing Barronnelle pro bono, is taking tax-free donations to help pay for her defense. If the US Supreme Court refuses to hear the case, or rules against her, the Christian community nationwide will need to step up to pay her fine, and to reward her for having stood in the crucible and held firm, despite the contempt heaped on her head. Today its Barronelle Stutzman; tomorrow it might be you. And one day, it probably will.

I’ll say one more thing here. As regular readers know, I do not like Donald Trump and do not like the glee with which so many of my fellow conservatives view his trashing of longstanding rules and conventions of political behavior. Trump is tearing things down, but what will be left after he’s done that? Having said that, when I contemplate a system and a society that is willing to pour everything it has into crushing a little old Southern Baptist lady who arranges flowers for a living, I find that I have very little enthusiasm for defending that system. A society that would do this to a Barronnelle Stutzman is a corrupt and unjust society. At times like this, it is hard not to adopt a “let the dead bury the dead” attitude toward the whole.

Make sure to take the time to it all and watch the video.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CT) 5 pastors confess their temptations to manipulate, control+cling to worldly significance

Joshua Ryan Butler, pastor of local and global outreach at Imago Dei Community in Portland, Oregon

I want to change the world. But in the process, I’m tempted to see people as a means-to-an-end rather than servants to be discipled deeper into life with Jesus.

When this happens, I find myself using manipulation and guilt as tools to mobilize volunteers. Instead, I want to emphasize the beauty and grandeur of Christ, and use the tools of celebrating who he is and what he has done to draw others to embody his love and serve the world””because they want to, not because they have to.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(BBC) Massive networks of fake accounts found on Twitter

Massive collections of fake accounts are lying dormant on Twitter, suggests research.
The largest network ties together more than 350,000 accounts and further work suggests others may be even bigger.
UK researchers accidentally uncovered the lurking networks while probing Twitter to see how people use it.
Some of the accounts have been used to fake follower numbers, send spam and boost interest in trending topics.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology, Theology

Generation X More Addicted to Social Media Than Millennials, Report Finds

We all know the stereotype: silly millennials, tethered to their phones, unable to accomplish the simplest tasks without scrolling their Instagram feeds, snapping their friends and/or tweeting inanely.

But a Nielsen report released last week shows that Americans from 18 to 34 are less obsessed with social media than are some of their older peers.

Adults 35 to 49 were found to spend an average of 6 hours 58 minutes a week on social media, compared with 6 hours 19 minutes a week for their younger counterparts. More predictably, adults 50 and over spent significantly less time on social media, with an average of 4 hours 9 minutes a week on the networks.

Sean Casey, the president of Nielsen’s social division, said that the finding had initially surprised him, because “the going thought is that social is vastly owned by the younger generation.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology, Young Adults

(NPR) Medical Debt Is Top Reason Consumers Hear From Collection Agencies

A recently released report says medical debt is the No. 1 reason consumers reported being contacted by a collection agency. If efforts to overhaul the Affordable Care Act result in more people losing their coverage, those numbers could rise.

The study by the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that 59 percent of people who reported they had been contacted by a debt collector said it was for medical services. Telecommunications bills were the second most common type of overdue bill for which debt collectors pursued payment, at 37 percent, and utilities were third, reported by 28 percent.

Unlike other types of debt, people with medical debt were prevalent across a range of income levels, credit scores and ages. A poll conducted in 2015 by NPR, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that many people with health insurance still struggle to pay medical bills. Some 26 percent said health care expenses have taken a serious toll on family finances.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance, Stewardship, Theology

Dethroning Mammon: Archbishop Justin Welby's 2017 Lent Book

In his first full-length book, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby looks at the subject of money and materialism.

Designed for study in the weeks of Lent leading up to Easter, Dethroning Mammon reflects on the impact of our own attitudes, and of the pressures that surround us; on how we handle the power of money, called Mammon in this book. Who will be on the throne of our lives? Who will direct our actions and attitudes? Is it Jesus Christ, who brings truth, hope and freedom? Or is it Mammon, so attractive, so clear, but leading us into paths that tangle, trip and deceive?

Read it all and you can read an extract there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Books, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Personal Finance, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Evangelicals should be deeply troubled by Donald Trump’s attempt to mainstream heresy

In terms of religion, this inauguration exhibits the confluence of two major currents of indigenous American spirituality.

One stream is represented by Norman Vincent Peale’s longtime bestseller “The Power of Positive Thinking” (1952). The famous Manhattan pastor is Trump’s tenuous connection to Christianity, having heard the preacher frequently in his youth. For Peale and his protege, the late Robert Schuller of Crystal Cathedral fame, the gospel of Christ’s death for human sin and resurrection for justification and everlasting life was transformed into a “feel-good” therapy. Self-esteem was the true salvation.

Another stream is represented by the most famous TV preachers, especially those associated with the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN). Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn, T. D. Jakes, Joel Osteen and Paula White are the stars of this movement, known as Word of Faith.

Read it all from Michael Horton in the Washington Post.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Evangelicals, Office of the President, Other Churches, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(NYT) We’ll Grow Again’: Bangladesh Cafe Attacked by Terrorists Reopens

By the time the ordeal ended, 10 hours later, 22 people, including two police officers, were dead, the restaurant spattered with blood and shattered glass.

For months, Dhaka’s diplomatic quarter was a spooked place. Restaurants were empty night after night. Foreigners no longer left the safety of their compounds. Young Bangladeshis found themselves wondering who they could trust: Several of the terrorists came from wealthy, cosmopolitan families, not so different from the young elites who died in the siege.

In an effort to break this trance, the restaurant’s owners decided to reopen the Holey, known for its flour-dusted baguettes and homemade pasta. One of the owners, Ali Arsalan, said he was inspired in part by the staff: When he paid them two months’ salary and suggested they return to their villages to recover from the trauma, they said they would prefer to go back to work

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Asia, Bangladesh, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Terrorism, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues