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Is it good news that cohabitation rates are falling?

There is good news here though, I think. The good news is that this is one more indicator that the sexual revolution is, ultimately, boring. Marriage and family can be discarded, but, in time, their proposed replacements become the new norm, and it’s time for the revolutionaries to rebel again. That can only go on for so long before a broken and bored people begin to wonder what else is there out there?

Growing trend in pastors working for free

That’s changing, however, as churches face declining numbers and look to new ministry models to make ends meet. Thumma sees more mainliners cutting back to halftime or one-quarter-time packages for clergy, who increasingly work second jobs. The unpaid cleric model is gaining traction among Episcopalians. In the mid-1990s, for example, the Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming had few if any unpaid clergy serving its 49 congregations. Now, 20 priests in Wyoming – more than one-third – are unpaid.

Russian Orthodox Church on the rise

Orthodox academics have also been contributing to the insurrection against the church hierarchy. In the Soviet period, scholarship had to be couched in crudely Marxist terms, and the Orthodox Church was mostly excluded from any scrutiny. But since 1990, sophisticated scholarship on contemporary religiosity has been a growth industry. Conferences on, and studies of, religion abound. And, as with the religious mass media, the striking thing is the Orthodox academia’s refusal to commit to the party line. A growing number of scholarly publications emphasize the diversity among Russian spiritual beliefs — what the religious life of believers actually looks like (many Russians claim spiritual rewards from buying organic produce from Orthodox farmers), as opposed to what sociologists or clerics think they ought to look like (say, praying or going to church). Sociologist Nikolai Mitrokhin, who has studied the contemporary Orthodox Church in the greatest detail, goes furthest in criticizing the church-state alliance — including what he calls the “gay mafia” in the church hierarchy. But even those scholars who do not support an explicit political agenda have helped to undermine the church’s claims about a single “true” Orthodoxy.

Thomas Aquinas on property

This seems straightforward enough, but things become complicated when the question is asked: How is property obtained? First, Aquinas refutes the idea that man individually or corporately gives and takes away property: “God has the chief dominion over all things. And he in his providence has ordained some things for the material sustenance of human beings.” Property is a gift from God. All things belong to the Creator who graciously gives man material goods.

Millenials’ changing priorities on marriage

Now, after several semesters of discussing marriage with my introductory ethics classes, I’ve heard these concerns expressed enough times to conclude that, for all their righteous zeal concerning sexual freedom, undergraduates do actually know that they are confused about marriage. This is interesting, particularly since the young people in question are not particularly religious or conservative. My students represent a fairly standard cross-section of middle-class American 20-year-olds. They can talk all day about the evils of global warming and homophobia, but the decline of marriage is, for most of them, a fairly new subject. Nevertheless, they are easily convinced that our society has a marriage problem, because they know that they have a marriage problem, which their teachers and parents have done little to help them resolve.

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What Does The Bible Say About Income Inequality?

income inequality

And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.

Matthew 25:15

I wanted to take a detour from my journey to discuss something that has been on my mind regarding the nexus between the Bible and economics and morality. This will happen often so do not be surprised or puzzled.

The parable of the talents is a story that I have always looked to for an indication about what the Bible says about income inequality. I believe it shows that it is not the problem that people make it out to be. However, I think that the Bible does show that it can be a symptom of a problem that we do need to resolve.

Our theologically and/or politically liberal friends view income inequality as a social injustice that must be rectified. They have been very successful in that it seems natural for us to view such inequality as unfair. We believe in the equality of men and that no one is inherently entitled to more than anyone else because of their birth, race, gender, other arbitrary characteristic. But there is one fatal flaw in the argument.

The problem with this perspective is that it confuses equity with equality. It says that inequality is necessarily, and inherently, wrong. Since all men are created equal they must all be equal in terms of material wealth. While we would like everyone to enjoy a quality of life that meets certain basic necessities and provides some physical comfort the Bible does not go as far as those on the Left go.

This parable shows, among other scriptures, that God does not distribute His gifts equally to all His people. We are not equal in many respects. Everyone is not equally skilled in athletics, academics, art, or strength. And not everyone is equally wealthy. We can easily think of examples of Godly men and women who were both wealthy and poor. Abraham and Solomon were very rich and Jesus and John the Baptist were poor.

We must keep our focus on a person’s spiritual condition. For those who do not believe the most pressing issue is their salvation, more important than their physical needs. Among believers the main concern is whether we are using the gifts that God has given us to be fruitful and produce a return on His investment. God also shows us that our tendency is to neglect the vulnerable among us which include the poor, orphans, and widows. To deny them justice and even to take advantage of them is an evil that God will avenge.

Jesus taught us to seek the kingdom first, and His righteousness, and trust that God will provide for our physical needs. He may call us to a life in which we are blessed financially or He may call us to a life of poverty. We have to be willing to follow the Lord in either scenario and be content. That is by no means an easy thing to do but the Holy Spirit enables us to do the will of God and please Him. And by pleasing Him we discover our true purpose and joy in this life.

Will The Church Forget America’s Christian History?

Dr. D. James Kennedy gives a timeless message to remind Christians of the christian history of America’s founding. He encourages and calls on believers to speak out on the major issues of the day. We shouldn’t sit idly and quiet as the culture takes our nation to destruction and ruin.

The Crisis In Syria: A Biblical Perspective

Boys walk along a damaged street filled with debris in Deir al-Zor

Nahum is one of the minor prophets and was called to send God’s message of Nineveh’s fall. It was an astonishing message given that the city was the largest in the world at the time. Nahum’s message was that God is a savior to those who trust in Him and a terrible judge to His wicked. The Lord explains why He is bringing judgment to the city:

Behold, I am against thee, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will burn her chariots in the smoke, and the sword shall devour thy young lions: and I will cut off thy prey from the earth, and the voice of thy messengers shall no more be heard.

Woe to the bloody city! it is all full of lies and robbery; the prey departeth not;

The noise of a whip, and the noise of the rattling of the wheels, and of the pransing horses, and of the jumping chariots.

The horseman lifteth up both the bright sword and the glittering spear: and there is a multitude of slain, and a great number of carcases; and there is none end of their corpses; they stumble upon their corpses:

Because of the multitude of the whoredoms of the wellfavoured harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts.

Behold, I am against thee, saith the Lord of hosts; and I will discover thy skirts upon thy face, and I will shew the nations thy nakedness, and the kingdoms thy shame.

And I will cast abominable filth upon thee, and make thee vile, and will set thee as a gazingstock.

And it shall come to pass, that all they that look upon thee shall flee from thee, and say, Nineveh is laid waste: who will bemoan her? whence shall I seek comforters for thee?

Nahum 2:13-3:7

It is important to keep in mind that this message is for a pagan empire. We can clearly see that God still has expectations of them and holds them accountable to those standards. He is concerned about the idolatry, violence, and oppression that ran rampant in the city. I believe we can also conclude that the people had the opportunity to repent and put their trust in the Lord.

Daniel tells us in chapter 4 that God sets rulers over the kingdoms of men as He pleases. God allowed Bashar al-Assad to take over and will remove him when He desires. We should ask ourselves: “What does God think of this nation and what is He doing with them?”

As we follow the events that occur in Syria we should remember that the Lord knows what is happening there and He is intimately involved. This was not an accident or a surprise for Him. In fact, this may be a sign of His judgment of the current regime and its downfall, if that should happen.

God cared enough for Nineveh to send Nahum there and preserve his prophecy as part of His special revelation to us. I believe that this means that Christians should also be concerned about a nation’s spiritual condition. We should pray for justice, peace, deliverance from oppression, the proclamation of the gospel, and the salvation of the kingdom. For those who are in or near those regions they should resist the evil being promulgated through those societies.

Believers should not lose heart at the tragedies that occur in Syria but look to God to manifest His power and glory. He is faithful and just and has all wisdom and understanding. Who else would you want in charge of the world?

Is America A Christian Nation?

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I have been working my way through Wayne Grudem’s book, Politics According To The Bible. It is meant to be a guide for Christians that helps them understand the political issues and how they should engage in political activity.

One section of the book talks about the oft repeated question, “Is America a Christian nation?” I think Grudem does an excellent job of answering this question in an instructive and helpful way.

The question cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no” until we define more carefully what we mean by “a Christian nation.” That is one reason why people sometimes become so upset about this question—different people have different meanings in mind for the phrase “a Christian nation,” and therefore they can end up talking about different things but using the same words and just misunderstanding one another.

Here are several meaning one can attach to the phrase “a Christian nation,” together with an answer to the question that varies according to each meaning:

(1)   Is Christian teaching the primary religious system that influenced the founding the United State? Yes, it is.

(2)   Were the majority of the Founding Fathers of the United States Christians who generally believed in the truth of the Bible? Yes, they were.

(3)   Is Christianity (of various sorts) the largest religion in the United States? Yes, it is.

(4)   Did Christian beliefs provide the intellectual background that led to many of the cultural values still held by Americans today?…Yes, Christian beliefs have provided much of the intellectual background for many of these and other cultural values.

(5)   Was there a Supreme Court decision at one time that affirmed that the United States is a Christian nation? Yes, there was, but that wasn’t the issue that was under dispute in the case…

(6)   Are a majority of people in the United States Bible-believing, evangelical, born-again Christians? No, I do not think they are. Estimates range from 18 to 42% of the U.S. population who are evangelical Christians, and I suspect a number around 20% is probably more nearly correct…

(7)   Is belief I Christian values the dominant perspective promoted by the United States government, the media, and universities in the United States today? No, it is not.

(8)   Does the United States government promote Christianity as the national religion? No, it does not.

(9)   Does a person have to profess Christian faith in order to become a U.S. citizen or to have equal rights under the law in the United States? No, certainly not…

In conclusion, how can we answer the question, “Is the United States a Christian nation?” It all depends on what someone means by “a Christian antion.” In five possible meanings, the answer is yes. In four other possible meanings, the answer is no. Because there are that many possible meanings in people’s minds (and possibly more that I have not thought of), I do not think the question is very helpful in current political conversations. It just leads to arguments, misunderstanding, and confusion. The same points that a speaker wants to make with this claim can be made more clearly, without causing confusion, in terms of one or more of the expanded meaning that I have listed above.

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We need to kill Christian music

Harmony, melody, rhythm, rhyme, dynamics — these are not the joys of the material or even the animal world. Music is a creation unique to those “made in the image and likeness of God”, namely, to human beings. To sing is to express our immense dignity. To sing at all is to praise the God who distinguishes us from all things songless.

The stakes for internet pornography

They just don’t know what’s wrong, but they know a Christian marriage isn’t supposed to feel like this. It’s at this point that I interrupt the discussion, look at the man, and ask, “So how long has the porn been going on?” The couple will look at each other, and then look at me, with a kind of fearful incredulity that communicates the question, “How do you know?” For a few minutes, they seek to reorient themselves to this exposure, wondering, I suppose, if I’m an Old Testament prophet or a New Age psychic. But I’m not either. One doesn’t have to be to sense the spirit of this age. In our time, pornography is the destroying angel of (especially male) Eros, and it’s time the Church faced the horror of this truth.

Ted Cruz: America needs spiritual revival

“I think we’re at the edge of a precipice. If we keep going down this path we’re risking losing our nation. We’re risking losing the incredible oasis of liberty.”

Ordinary vs. radical Christianity

But therein lies my point:  the ordinary moments are moments which intersect with eternity, where the meaning of our lives hangs. We’ll be judged for every errant word, yet many of us pray and write as though there is nothing more cheap than a few syllables to throw away. Focusing on the mundane isn’t a call to comfort: it’s a terrifying call to remember the judgment which we stand beneath, a judgment that exists when we drive past our neighbor whose car is stranded in the night.  ”You have never met a mere mortal,” Lewis wrote.  Nor have we had an ordinary day. – See more at: http://mereorthodoxy.com/the-ordinary-is-not-comfortable-richard-stearns-radical-misreading/#sthash.HmpdQaqk.dpuf

10th Circuit rules in favor of Hobby Lobby

A federal court has granted a preliminary injunction allowing Hobby Lobby not to comply with the HHS mandate requiring the business to furnish the morning-after pill and other abortifacient means of emergency contraception to its female employees with no co-pay. The decision comes shortly after the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court’s ruling against Hobby Lobby in a 5-3 decision and remanded the case to a lower court. That court had denied the Christian-owned arts and crafts chain a temporary injunction against the HHS mandate.

The text of the 10th Circuit’s Decision

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Why there is always an organ shortage

I just need to point out that the perpetual shortage of human organs available for transplant isn’t an unfortunate circumstance, that’s its not really-sad-but-that’s-just-how-things-are, and it doesn’t say something about our society that so few people are willing to donate. We did this to ourselves. Selling organs is banned. This shortage, and the reason that girl is probably going to die, isn’t just happenstance, it’s the direct result of the absence of a free market in human organs. Selling a kidney is legal in Iran and guess what: there’s no waiting list for kidneys.  Free markets don’t create shortages.

Churchgoers ashamed of their faith

According to the survey, 66 percent of American churchgoers agree Christians should seek out honest feedback about their spiritual life from other Christians. Churchgoers also seem to think they live out their faith in a manner that is evident to others. Just 14 percent of churchgoers agree with the statement: “Many people who know me are not aware I am a Christian,” while 72 percent disagree with the statement. However, the survey also shows churchgoers often leave important elements of faith unspoken. Nearly a third (29 percent) agree “Spiritual matters do not tend to come up as a normal part of my daily conversations with other Christians,” while 50 percent disagree this is the case. Still, the survey reveals 57 percent of churchgoers agree they openly share about difficulties they are experiencing when they talk with Christian friends, while 1 in 4 do not.

Female breadwinners have unhappy marriages

Some may resent women who supplant them as providers, but most do not. . . . So expect this: in a breadwomen’s world, women will experience their own share of resentment, competitive feelings, and ambivalent emotions. In the short term, it may be women who are most unsettled by the new world order. . . . They will struggle to preserve their own sexual attraction to men even as they strive to remain feminine and pleasing. . . . They will cling to the hope that this is all temporary. They will feel, in their heart of hearts, that something is wrong. The fact is, men have made a lot of progress; the question is whether women have come as far.

Am I conservative?

I am not and never have been a Republican. I feel roughly as alienated from that party as I do from the Democratic Party. I hold a number of political views that strong-minded Republicans typically find appalling: I think racism is one of the greatest problems in American society today; I am not convinced that austerity programs are helpful in addressing our economic condition; I am absolutely convinced that what many Republicans call free-market capitalism is in fact crony capitalism, calculated to favor the extremely wealthy and immensely powerful multinational corporations; I think that for all of the flaws of Obamacare, it was at least an attempt to solve a drastically unjust and often morally corrupt network of medical care in this country; I dislike military adventurism, and believe that our various attempts at nation-building over the past decade were miscalculated from the outset.

France and same-sex marriage myths

The French are a tough crowd. I learned this when I took to the stage at the March 24 manif and fielded the boos from over a million marchers at the mention of “homophobia.” They weren’t booing me, thank goodness; they were booing the idea of people accusing someone of homophobia for asking obvious questions about the logistics of surrogacy contracts for gay men like Perez Hilton. The crowd cheered me on for most of my six-minute talk. But the moment was educational. Whereas in the English-speaking world we observe some British conventions of privacy and politeness, it is never a good idea to tell French speakers that some questions are off- limits. They are a blunt people. It’s one thing to get booed by a few hundred people in a gymnasium. It’s completely another to stand below the Arch of Triumph and hear over a million French people boo at the same time. You feel the zeitgeist with much more force. It seems like the buildings, the sky, the trees, and even the birds overhead are groaning at you. This is not a scenario that will allow you to fudge facts.

The Christian view of suffering

A robust theology of suffering is necessary but not sufficient, Carson insists, for at least two additional attitudes characterize mature Christians: (1) they admit their guilt before God and cry to him for renewal and revival (see, for example, Neh. 8-9), and (2) they are quick to talk about the sheer goodness of God. To be sure, Carson’s framework is not necessarily the most helpful thing to offer someone first entering the throes of terrible suffering. “You’ve just been diagnosed with Stage 4 Melanoma; do you want this lecture?” he asks. Of course not—and you shouldn’t. The importance of relational sensitivity and tangible compassion in the midst of crisis cannot be overestimated. Moreover, when the immediate needs are concrete (e.g., water, security, shelter), God’s people should be quick to respond in love.

Pop culture, men, and lowered expectations

Message boards, blogs, and Twitter are all filled with the ranting and ravings of men between the ages of 18 and 40 who are livid about this super hero movie trailer or that casting decision in the new Star Trek. Layers of expectations are placed upon highly anticipated films or television shows that can only hope to crash-and-burn in the eyes of those same devoted fans. And for what? Because people you don’t personally know made a product you had nothing to do with and after choosing to pay U.S. currency (or devote hours of your life) to watch it you are less than satisfied with the final product? Who cares? The easiest answer: I do (and have most of my life).

Europe’s other crisis: religion

The problem for many of the spiritual leaders attending is that Europe is also undergoing a crisis of religious identity. In several countries, church attendances and religious affiliation have plummeted in recent decades. Just 51 percent of citizens in the EU’s 27 nations said they believed in God, when questioned for a 2010 survey. In Sweden, Estonia and the Czech Republic that number fell below 20 percent – although more said they believed in the existence of “some form of spirit or life force.” Forty percent of the French declared they believed in neither god nor spirt, along with 30 percent of the Dutch, 27 percent of Germans and a quarter of the British. In the 20 years up to 2010, the Evangelical Church of Germany, closed 340 churches and is considering giving up another 1,000, the news weekly Der Spiegel reported in February. Dutch churches are reportedly closing at a rate of two a week – around 4,000 remain from the estimated 19,000 built since the 13th century. From 1999 to 2010, the Church of Sweden says it lost 800,000 members. Even in the traditionally more devout Catholic countries of southern Europe, faith is under pressure. A survey released in February showed 70 percent of Spaniards describe themselves as Catholic, a fall of almost 10 percent in a decade. Among Spanish Catholics just 12.5 percent attend mass at least once a week.

All faiths agree on religious liberty

A Jew, a Catholic, and a Protestant—but also a Muslim, a Mormon, a Sikh, and an Orthodox Christian—walk into, not a bar, but a religious freedom conference where they all sit on a panel entitled “Many Faiths, One America.” And here’s the punchline: they all agree. Not, of course, on doctrinal issues, but on the centrality of religious liberty to the American regime and on the pressing need for a united front to address growing threats to it…Americans of all faiths should not accept the premise of an omnipotent state that doles out favors to various organized interests. This not only encourages factionalism, but it makes religious liberty the exception, rather than the rule.

Atheist believes Christians unfairly treated in media

The non-believing child of secular Jews does his tribe proud by volunteering the opinion that Christians get a bum rap in the national media. The portrayal of Christians as “doctrinaire crazy hothead people” doesn’t square with fond recollections of former public radio colleagues who kept Bibles on their desks and invited him to screenings of Rapture movies (At WBEZ? Really?).

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Threats to religious liberty in America

Besides the on-going battle with the Obama Administration regarding the HHS mandate and the gutting of funding to Catholic programs that fight human trafficking, the bishops want us to be aware of these perils to religious liberty:

Discrimination against small church congregations.  New York City adopted a policy that barred the Bronx Household of Faith and other churches from renting public schools on weekends for worship services, even though non-religious groups could rent the same schools for many other uses.  Litigation in this case continues.

Forcing religious groups to host same-sex “marriage” or civil union ceremonies.  A New Jersey judge recently found that a Methodist ministry violated state law when the ministry declined to allow two women to hold a “civil union” ceremony on its private property.  Further, a civil rights complaint has been filed against the Catholic Church in Hawaii by a person requesting to use a chapel to hold a same-sex “marriage” ceremony.

Arthur Brooks on faith and flourishing

The two discuss how a free enterprise system promotes entrepreneurship and personal responsibility in a way that allows people to reach their fullest potential. Watch the full interview to learn why Arthur says that “…maximizing liberty, increasing individual opportunity, and working for free enterprise gives the most people the best life.”

Islamic expansion in the Dark Ages

Let me put down here some facts that are worth returning to from time to time, as arguments over the history of Islam and Islamism are back in the news with today’s beheading in London. In debates over the history of tension between Muslims and Christians, the Crusades are often cited, out of their historical context, as the original cause of such clashes, as if both sides were peaceably minding their own business before imperialist Westerners decided to go launch a religious war in Muslim lands…All that said, it’s worth remembering that the Crusades arose in the late Eleventh Century only after four centuries of relentless Islamic efforts to conquer Europe, and the Christians of the Crusading era cannot be evaluated without that crucial context.

What’s the big deal with Arrested Development?

he Bluths live in a post-religious culture. The few Christian characters (e.g. George Michael’s on-again-off-again girlfriend, Ann Veal, and her family) are odd, alienating, and disconnected from the real world. The Bluths observe Christmas by reenacting scenes from the Sistine Chapel. But the real holiday the Bluth Family and contemporary America celebrates is spring break. In the opening scene of “Missing Kitty,” Lindsay questions why the Bluth Company remains open “during the holidays.” Michael retorts that the company isn’t that observant. Spring break is a celebration of debauchery, foolishness, and commercialization, making it the perfect occasion for Lindsay to skip work and G.O.B. to perform a magic trick on the hit TV show Girls with Low Self-Esteem (a parody of Girls Gone Wild).

Rachel Held Evans denies the cat

Here is the problem. Rachel Held Evans rebukes John Piper for answering the problem of evil as all orthodox Christians must, but then cops out herself. “We don’t know exactly why suffering happens in every situation . . .” Now of course this is quite right if we are maintaining that Henry got cancer because he cheated on his taxes three years ago. We don’t know that. But it is staggeringly wrong if we are talking about why our world is broken the way it is. We do know that. We have been told.

Public Virtue Is Still Relevant In America

MarkSanfordFamily

This will probably seem outdated since it has been a week since the special election for the First Congressional District in South Carolina and in the current media age that is an eternity. However, I haven’t heard anyone make the argument that I’m going to make so that should make up for my tardiness.

The problem, from the social conservative’s perspective, is that Governor Mark Sanford never should have run for office in the first place. He cheated on his wife only a couple of years ago and he apparently figured that now is the right time to get back into public life. That, to me, sounds like a man who believes he’s entitled to an office. The problem isn’t that social conservatives are holding him to an impossible standard. It’s not like we’re talking about him smoking a joint when he was in college. We’re saying that if you do something as egregious as destroy your marriage you should probably not worry about running again for a long time. I highly doubt that in two years time he has even begun to repair any of the damage he’s done to his family and all the while he was thinking about when he can get out of the dog house and get into politics.

I think this also vindicates social conservatives by showing how character flaws cannot be compartmentalized and kept in the dark. It comes out. It will come out, and affect the public. Our founders knew that the people had to have the republican virtues necessary to protect their liberty and enjoy prosperity. It also matters that our elected representatives are people of virtue and character. The governor lost his job because of his adulterous relationship and the poor judgment it engendered. He was out of the country and his staff didn’t even know because he lied to keep his uncontrollable passions a secret. What if some emergency, like the one in West, TX, happened while the governor was out of the country? This is why Petraeus also lost his job, not simply because of the affair but the security risk that his bad decisions created. When you put yourself in that position you become a target. It is crucial that our elected officials remain above reproach.

Then there are the political problems. Can anyone be sure that when Sanford goes to Washington that he won’t get involved in another scandal that will cost him his seat? What does it say about the GOP that it cannot find one viable candidate to run who hasn’t cheated on his wife? I think that’s the difference between how social conservatives look at these issues compared to everyone else. I find it hard to believe that good leaders are in such short supply that the only people left to pick from are at the bottom of the barrel. What will Sanford say when there is a political debate about marriage and families? It’s no wonder the GOP can’t make the moral arguments for our views.

My short but growing experience with campaigns leads me to believe that candidate recruitment is such an important process that it can change the course of a party and the political landscape. If you want the good fruit you gotta pick it off the tree yourself. The candidates I’ve met and the stories I’ve heard about them are what depress me about the political process and I’m sure it’s what causes people to disengage. I think that with better candidates come more energy and involvement and eventually progress. Instead of going along with the conventional wisdom on successful candidates and campaigns let us do the hard work of throwing out the rule book and change the status quo.

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The rise of the Nones

In fact, between high school and turning 30, 43% of these once-active Millennials drop out of regular church attendance—that amounts to eight million twentysomethings who have, for various reasons, given up on church or Christianity. Over half of Millennials with a Christian background (59%) have, at some point, dropped out of going to church after having gone regularly, and half have been significantly frustrated by their faith. Additionally, more than 50% of 18-29 year olds with a Christian background say they are less active in church compared to when they were 15.

Mark Sanford and the future of marriage

I’m not particularly surprised by that outcome: Sanford was the G.O.P. candidate in a conservative district, and voting on party rather than character is usually the path of least resistance for partisans on both sides. But the fact that South Carolina Republicans took that path, and made his swift and shameless comeback a success, is still a useful indicator of where the energy is on the right — and it emphatically isn’t with people who see the decline of marriage as a bigger issue for conservatism and America than the precise balance of power in the House of Representatives. Again, the preference among conservatives is obviously for stable marriages and family values and so forth — for the example set by the figures McArdle lists, rather than for Sanford-style shenanigans. But there apparently isn’t enough passion behind that preference at the moment to induce Republican voters to sacrifice even a single House seat on its behalf.

Reconsidering Christianity and suburbia

I once heard of this Christian couple who were convinced they had a ministry to people working in a glamorous and exciting professional field. I didn’t know them personally, so maybe they did. But it seemed more plausible to me that they wanted to live a particularly stimulating and exotic lifestyle, but could only justify it to themselves by clothing it in a sense of mission. Hey, God needs His people in those circles too! But it’s well worth considering whether or not we’re really called to a certain life, and to a certain place, or whether we’re using God and the cause of mission to justify our preferences. It’s rarely a clear-cut thing.

Trying to be an awesome Christian

I know more than one evangelical who has gotten into the radical faith movement and decided that those who are not doing it that way are somehow not as pure a Christian. They’ve decided their gospel is greater. Others in the Christian community, as a reflection of the secular world around us, have gone gung-ho into the organic, whole foods make your own bread from wheat you’ve grown craze and buy raw milk!!!! If you don’t, you are a bad person and your gospel is inferior. Some have fallen head long into adoption in a way that excludes them having their own children and deciding that is their path to salvation. But others too have gone to the opposite extreme and decided that anyone who wants to find success in this world and has ambition in this world is somehow not as good a Christian — as if they cannot, in their pursuits, be successful in life and glorify God along the way.

Americans agree on immigration reform, but not on specifics

Americans overwhelmingly say the nation’s immigration policy is in need of sweeping changes. Overall, 75% say immigration policy needs at least major changes, with 35% saying it needs to be “completely rebuilt”—among the highest of seven policy areas tested. Yet the broad public agreement that immigration policy should be revamped is not matched by consensus on how to deal with illegal and legal immigration. The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted May 1-5 among 1,504 adults, finds that 73% say there should be a way for illegal immigrants already in the United States who meet certain requirements to stay here. But fewer than half (44%) favor allowing those here illegally to apply for U.S. citizenship, while 25% think permanent legal status is more appropriate.

Gosnell and the law’s teaching effect

A legal regime that permits the killing of innocent human life, then, does morethan simply permit an injustice against some class of persons: As we have seen in the case of Kermit Gosnell, now awaiting a verdict in Philadelphia on multiple charges of murder and illegal abortion, the law teaches the legitimacy of this injustice, and thus erodes its citizens’ understanding of the nature of justice.

College grads lack professionalism

I gave an exam last week, and one student showed up 25 minutes late. When the hour ended and I collected the papers, he looked up from his seat, cast a pitiable glance and mumbled, “Please, I got here late — may I have another 20 minutes?” I shook my head and said, “Can’t do that.” His request echoed in my head all the way back to my office. Where in the world did he get the idea that an exam doesn’t begin and end at a set time?…Younger workers believe they can multitask and remain productive, the human-resources people told the York researchers. Thirty-eight percent of respondents [employers] blamed multitasking for the lack of “focus” among younger workers. The authors of the study explained that the younger generation “believes that it is possible to multi-task effectively” and that using social media, for example, is an efficient way to communicate. In interviews, the applicants check their phones for texts and calls, dress inappropriately and overrate their talents.