Archive for June, 2011

What follows are the very words of Abraham Kuyper:

“The life of particular grace does not stand by itself, but has been placed by God amid the life of common grace. Since Holy Scripture is definitely not limited to opening up for us the way of salvation, but has been given also to enrich common grace with new light, for those who confess that Word not to make this higher light to shine upon the arena of science, which belongs to the field of common grace, constitutes deficient devotion to duty.”

(De Gemeene Gratie, volume 3, “Common Grace in Science and Art,” p. 37.)

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Happy Monday morning!

We’re all starting a new work week this morning, having enjoyed a Sunday of rest-in-order-to-worship-so-we-can-work (check our previous post for more on this). Now it’s time to get back on the job.

Here’s a quick suggestion for your summer adult learning.

As part of serious discipleship, a.k.a. mentoring young believers (and each other), let’s design and implement an adult education module of 6 – 10 weeks over the summer entitled “Living the Gospel at Work.” Invite workers from the congregation to interact with the class leader about two or three significant challenges of practicing the Christian faith at their jobs.

Plan to study relevant Bible passages as the context for this discussion, as we seek together to frame a perspective rooted in grace and enlivened by the gospel that does more than “get us through” Monday – Saturday. Let’s learn how stewardly service surpasses survival on the job. (Sorry, alliteration juices me!)

Happy labor day!

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Please do me a favor. For the next 19 minutes and 58 seconds of your life, sit still, watch, but especially listen to this hilariously and gruesomely provocative video. (Note: blasphemy alert at 11:07.)

Then we’ll say more.

Now you know what the “WoW” in our title stands for: our nation, our young people, our tradesmen and laborers, are all being weakened by the war on work.

So, what’s a “ToW”? Glad you asked.

Your next assignment is to read the brief essay, “‘Whatever You Do’: Why Discipleship is Withering and What We Can Do About It” (here).

But why bore you with blathering commentary of my own, when I can direct you to the Oikonomia Network, which is seriously engaged in articulating a robust and relevant theology of work (that’s the “ToW”).

In weeks ahead, we’ll be saying more about this, but in preparation, please join in reviewing these materials whose authors and producers are on the cusp on something truly remarkable, truly creational, truly vocational.

And as this Saturday blends soon into Sunday, remember that differentness (Sunday is not the same as Saturday) does not mean opposition (Sunday and Monday should be holding hands).

So to all those workers out there, among whom are

pig farmers and dairymen, plumbers, car salesmen, therapists, municipal building inspectors, computer systems managers, preachers, think-tankers in Waukesha and Grand Rapids, and so many, many more;

and in memory of my father who taught his children that “if anything is worth doing, no matter what kind of work it is, it’s worth doing well”

this one’s for you! God bless you!

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This week I’ve been enjoying an academic-like conference sponsored by the Grand Rapids think tank, Acton Institute.

Yesterday I presented a lecture, with accompanying Keynote slides, as part of the University academic program, on “School Choice and Private Education.” Having stuffed my lecture with a full 30% more material than I could deliver in 45 minutes, I was compelled to omit, among other things, this wonderful concluding citation, la cerise sur le gâteau:

“In the new politics of education, the conservatives have become the progressives, pushing for major change, promoting the causes of the disadvantaged, and allying themselves with the poor. The progressives of yesteryear, meantime, have become the conservatives of today, resisting change, defending the status quo against threats from without, and opposing the poor constituents they claim to represent. In its consequences for the American system of education, this is perhaps the most important political transformation of modern times—and the private voucher movement, as both a creature of the new politics and a major force for its expansion, is right at the heart of it” (cited from Private Vouchers, by Terry M. Moe [Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 1995], p. 35).

You can, if you’d like, obtain an MP3 recording of the lecture here.

Among the many helpful Internet resources, two were exceptionally useful: Matthew J. Brouillette’s The Case for Choice in Schooling (here) and the website of the American Federation for Children.

Give these resources a look, and think about joining the civil rights movement of this generation.

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A rare breed, this fellow, Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn.

This statesman (a politician with class who puts the national interest ahead of local interests) believes he’ll have the required Senate votes to end the 45-cent blender tax credit for ethanol, and the 54-cent tariff on imported ethanol. In case you’re unclear about the morality of this matter, a new study suggests that the world’s poor would benefit even more than U.S. taxpayers if governments stopped subsidizing the transformation of food into fuel.

Ten international organizations, including the World Bank, together with five different agencies of the U.N., just came out with a study documenting, for those who care, the immorality of biofuel subsidies.

The new study identifies biofuel subsidies as among the leading causes of agricultural price spikes. According to the report, “between 2000 and 2009, global output of bio-ethanol quadrupled and production of biodiesel increased tenfold,” a spike which “has been largely driven by government support policies.” The report cites forecasts suggesting that the price of coarse grains could increase as much as 13%, oilseeds by 7% and vegetable oil 35% on average each year between 2013 and 2017.

Did you catch that? The report cites forecasts. Advance knowledge. In the form of: this is the predictable result of that. We could have known, and we now can know. Knowledge, they say, is power. But knowledge also increases culpability, which means moral responsibility.

Currently, biofuel production uses as its raw material 20% of the world’s sugar cane, 9% of oilseeds and coarse grains, and 4% of sugar beets—and more than 40% of U.S. corn production.

The most recent Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (vol. 16, no. 1, Spring 2011) contains an article corroborating the immorality of biofuel subsidies: “Could Biofuel Policies Increase Death and Disease in Developing Countries?” by Indur M. Goklany, Ph.D. (you can read it here). His conclusion is sobering:

This analysis concludes that the production of biofuels may have led to at least 192,000 additional deaths and 6.7 million additional lost DALYs [disability-adjusted life years] in 2010. These estimates are conservative. First, they exclude consideration of a number of health risks that are, in fact, directly related to poverty (e.g., indoor smoke from burning coal, wood, and dung indoors; and iron deficiency). Second, the analysis only considered the poverty effects of biofuel production over and above the 2004 level; therefore, it does not provide a full estimate of the effect of all biofuel production. Despite the underestimations, these estimates exceed the WHO’s estimates of the toll of death and disease for global warming. Thus, policies to stimulate biofuel production, in part to reduce the alleged impacts of global warming on public health, particularly in developing countries, may actually have increased death and disease globally.

Do you recall those summertime “farm aid” concerts where country singers and movie stars rallied rural America in protest of the current farm “crisis”? Tractors putt-putted all the way to Washington, D.C., chants were raised along with the red bandanas, hands were held, and rallies were staged.

Wonder how much outrage they’ll be able to muster this summer in the agribusiness industry, er, farming community.

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