Tag Archives: religion

Economic Freedom

An interesting story from Ethiopia – something for everyone:

Northern Ethiopia is rugged and poor. It is a place where people mostly get by as subsistence farmers. The government and international organizations like the World Bank have tried and failed for years to improve the well-being of locals. But then, one village went and did it all on its own.

The community is called Awra Amba. About 500 people live here in simple wattle and daub houses, and they keep busy in a variety of money-making activities.

The village has a mill, where grain is crushed into flour. There is a textile factory, where villagers make clothes for themselves and to sell. You will also find a café, a tourist hostel, and two stores that cater to people from outside the village.

With all of these businesses, Awra Amba has managed to pull itself out of poverty. Compared with the rest of the region, the average income here is more than twice as high. Literacy rates are higher than in neighboring villages. Mortality rates are lower.

“Everyone here dreams of becoming more prosperous — that’s a big reason why our economy has grown faster than others,” says Zumra Nuru, who founded the village 40 years ago as a kind of utopian community. He says at the time, he was dissatisfied by the injustice he perceived in traditional Ethiopian culture and wanted to organize a society along more egalitarian lines. He also saw the community as a way to increase wealth.

“We use all our time for work and to improve our village,” he says.

One reason the people of Awra Amba are able to work so hard is that they do not follow organized religion.

In neighboring Christian and Muslim villages, residents respect the Sabbath and holidays. “They have quite frequent religious days, so on those days, they don’t go to [do] farming work,” says sociologist Ashenafi Alemu of Ethiopia’s University of Gondar. “But for Awra Amba, this is not the case. They work every day.”

The lack of religion is not the only competitive advantage for Awra Amba. The village invests a lot of energy in educating its children and diversifying its economy. It also embraces gender equality. You will see women here doing what is traditionally considered “men’s work,” like plowing, which effectively doubles the workforce.

Hard work, lack of religion and gender equality.


On Phil Robertson – From The Left

It’s been fun watching the reaction to the whole Duck Dynasty thing.

It started out with his comments from the interview, then moved to his suspension.  From there, Cracker Barrel got into the game by pulling Duck Dynasty merchandise that only upset THEIR customer base.  After much complaining on the innertubes, Cracker Barrel relented apologized and put the stuff back on sale.

My take?

I think that an employer should be allowed to fire anyone for any reason, so I have no issue personally that Phil got the axe.  But we don’t live in my world – we live in the real world, where firing someone for their religion is against the law – or at least I think it is.  I can’t image that an employer, upon learning that his employee isn’t Christian, could fire him.

Anyway – so I think that Phil’s civil liberties were abused to a degree.  And if they weren’t, if there is a legal standing that A&E can rest on – think morals clause or spokesman – I have some trouble wrapping my head around the whole thing.  I mean, the whole show is based on the fact that these Robertson people are God Fearing evangelical Christian rednecks.  There isn’t one single person alive that would have thought Phil would think that homosexuality wasn’t a sin.

So, yeah, it’s been fun watching it.  But here is a take I didn’t expect:

I have to say I’m befuddled by the firing of Phil Robertson, he of the amazing paterfamilias beard on Duck Dynasty (which I mainly see via The Soup). A&E has a reality show that depends on the hoariest stereotypes – and yet features hilariously captivating human beings – located in the deep South. It’s a show riddled with humor and charm and redneck silliness. The point of it, so far as I can tell, is a kind of celebration of a culture where duck hunting is the primary religion, but where fundamentalist Christianity is also completely pervasive. (Too pervasive for the producers, apparently, because they edited out the saying of grace to make it non-denominational and actually edited in fake beeps to make it seem like the bearded clan swore a lot, even though they don’t.)

Now I seriously don’t know what A&E were expecting when the patriarch Phil Robertson was interviewed by GQ. But surely the same set of expectations that one might have of an ostensibly liberal host of a political show would not be extended to someone whose political incorrectness was the whole point of his stardom. He’s a reality show character, for Pete’s sake. Not an A&E spokesman.

Robertson is a character in a reality show. He’s not a spokesman for A&E any more than some soul-sucking social x-ray from the Real Housewives series is a spokeswoman for Bravo. Is he being fired for being out of character? Nah. He’s being fired for staying in character – a character A&E have nurtured and promoted and benefited from. Turning around and demanding a Duck Dynasty star suddenly become the equivalent of a Rachel Maddow guest is preposterous and unfair.

What Phil Robertson has given A&E is a dose of redneck reality. Why on earth would they fire him for giving some more?


North Carolina: Church and State

Earlier this week I posted on North Carolina submitting legislation that would allow for the creation of a State Religion:

I can’t imagine that this bill will pass into law.  In fact, I have no idea what the point of the legislation is about.

Well, it turns out that the bill won’t become law after all, in fact, it won’t even make it for a vote:

RALEIGH — The resolution that would assert North Carolina and its counties have the right to declare an official religion won’t be voted on, the office of House Speaker Thom Tillis said Thursday. That means it’s essentially dead.

Further, and I didn’t catch this at first:

Resolutions like the Defense of Religion Act do not become law if they are passed. They are generally used to honor dignitaries or groups, or to launch commissions to study issues.

It was never meant to actually BECOME law, just make a point.

And the legislators who submitted the resolution?

SALISBURY, N.C. — One of the North Carolina legislators who sponsored a resolution declaring the state can make its own laws about religion without involvement from the federal government and courts is apologizing for any embarrassment to his community and state.

Warren says he only intended to allow Rowan County officials to continue opening meetings with prayer, not to establish a state religion. The American Civil Liberties Union sued county commissioners last month, accusing the panel of violating the First Amendment by routinely praying to Jesus Christ.

Whatever else the bill/resolution did or didn’t say, I have to add that I think a small community, even a county, should be able to open their meetings with a prayer to whoever they wanna pray to.  What they cannot do is to force everyone in that community to offer the same prayer to the same divine.

Liberty And Faith

Pope Francis

I should note that I am not Catholic.  Like all good upper Europeans I am Lutheran, born and bred for generations.  In fact, it was Martin Luther that broke from the Catholic Church all those years ago when he nailed his issues to the church doors.

That being said, read on.

Not hours after being elected to head the Catholic Church, being the first Latino Pope and the first Pope to be elected from the Americas, the Facebook is aflutter with his views on homosexuality:

Let’s not be naive, we’re not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.

First I should point out there there was zero -NONE- hope that the new Pope would change course on the Catholic view of homosexuality.  Whatever your view  of homosexuality, folks who are gay or the rights of gay people in a government, to think that the Pope would come out and change direction is a totally pie in the sky hope or expectation.

That being said, I have no issue with people who view the issue of homosexuality as a binary proposition and chose to leave the church over their view.

But this gets to the heart of the matter.

In my understanding of Christianity as a whole, and certainly my personal belief, is that all of humanity is born into sin and cannot escape  our condition as imperfect people.  That our acceptance into heaven, and here I break with Catholics, is based on the Mercy of the Divine and not the merit of the creature.  In the same way I love my new born child, who has no cognitive ability to love at that moment, I accept that my inability to love my Creator in no way affects His love for me.

Gay or straight.

My issue with people who take the position that homosexuality is a sin isn’t so much with their verdict, my personal take is that I have no earthly idea what the Almighty will consider, but with their treatment of the individual.  In the same way that we love, tolerate and pray for all people, I would expect that the church an its followers would extend the same love and compassion to members who might be gay or who might in other ways and manners exhibit sinful behavior.

Lastly, I would like to add that being Catholic is a personal choice.  Their beliefs and tenants are their own.  I may not agree with every group of people in their own private missions, but I don’t begrudge them for having them.

Bigger Government – Higher Taxes: A Liberals Charity

For a long time now we’ve know that religious belief, political affiliation and charity correlate.  Certainly correlation isn’t causation but it does provide for interesting conversations.  Which brings me this story:

BOSTON — A new study on the generosity of Americans suggests that states with the least religious residents are also the stingiest about giving money to charity.

Like I said, this is well known and not surprising.  I would like to say that freedom loving individuals intuitively know that we need to care for our neighbors, but that legalized theft is not the way to do it.  However, I don’t think most people think it through like that.

But it would be fin to try and explain this:

The study released Monday by the Chronicle of Philanthropy found that residents in states where religious participation is higher than the rest of the nation, particularly in the South, gave the greatest percentage of their discretionary income to charity.

The Northeast, with lower religious participation, was the least generous to charities, with the six New England states filling the last six slots among the 50 states.

The study also found that patterns of charitable giving are colored in political reds and blues.

Of the 10 least generous states, nine voted for Democrat Barack Obama for president in the last election. By contrast, of the 10 most generous states, eight voted for Republican John McCain.

Whatever the reason, I think it has to do with how the brain works.  For example, there are studies that show people who “be green” are then more likely to be rude or less moral; at least for a time.  Scientist feel that by contributing to the health of their plant, that “need” in their mind has been met and they are now free to act less charitable.

In fact, I’ve always felt that liberals aren’t less generous, they simply feel that government is their charity.  I honestly feel that when a liberal lawmaker is successful in voting for someone else to build a school for the poor with someone elses money, they feel the same sense of accomplishment that someone who volunteers for Habit for Humanity and actually swings the hammer that builds the school, or house.

Not surprisingly I’m often called out for this line of “garbage” and am told that I’m simply looking at it through too simply and too bias a lens.  Perhaps.  Tribalism is tough and resentment is an unattractive date.  Which is why I was surprised to see this:

Alan Wolfe, a political science professor at Boston College, said it’s wrong to link a state’s religious makeup with its generosity. People in less religious states are giving in a different way by being more willing to pay higher taxes so the government can equitably distribute superior benefits, Wolfe said. And the distribution is based purely on need, rather than religious affiliation or other variables, said Wolfe, also head of the college’s Boisi Center for Religion and Public Life.

Wolfe said people in less religious states “view the tax money they’re paying not as something that’s forced upon them, but as a recognition that they belong with everyone else, that they’re citizens in the common good. … I think people here believe that when they pay their taxes, they’re being altruistic.

I’ll differ with the good professor a little bit here.  I don’t think it’s the act of PAYING the taxes that causes democrats to be less charitable than others, I think it’s the act of VOTING for more spending that causes liberals to be less charitable.

No one likes to pay taxes and even democrats avoid it when they can.

The Downside Of Schools Today

My family attends a local private Christian school.  Very small.  Very awesome.

We love LOVE it.

This past week my kids brought home an assignment that required them to identify a piece of classical “Americana” to memorize.  This could include famous speeches, classical poetry or even religious texts.

Continue reading

Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus: Two Stories

There’s a poem going through the innertubes.  I’ve seen it a number of times on my Facebook feed and finally decided to watch and listen.  I don’t enjoy the genre [never have enjoyed rap] and the lyrics are somewhat strained.  But the message……yeah man, that’s some cool stuff:

So I did a quick search and found a response.  Much less popular, but I enjoyed that message as well; perhaps more so.  I acknowledge that if I were to bow my head in prayer before a meal with a Jew, a Muslim and a Hindi, my God would hear and acknowledge each of our supplications.

It’s a crazy thing, God.  But if you have ever considered a conscience while feeling the wind on a cliff, or the sweet sound of a babies laughter, you’ve heard what I hear.

I Hate Earth Day

I find it nauseating to be lectured by those on the Left regarding MY religion while they legislate theirs.

Ya Get Some Right and Ya Get Some Wrong

It takes a lot of work and time and patience to get it right.  And even WITH all that investment in discipline, the most accomplished master is going to have a moment or two when he looks at his creation and….

Tosses it back.  Does it over.  Learns from his blemish.

Political movements are no different.

Continue reading

A Call For Tolerance

The Bible is the Holy Word of God.  Written by man but directed by God.

The Koran is the same thing, perhaps to Muslims, even more.  In some ways, it may BE Allah.

Burning it, or even threatening to burn it is an insult.

And that crazy Pastor Jones SHOULD be called out for this nonsense.  People are right to be outraged.

But where is the outcry against this?

Continue reading