Monday, July 21, 2014

Do smartphones change Christians?

I was really getting into the article about 6 ways smartphones and social media are changing Christians, and then read the final paragraph, "To listen to my entire 34-minute conversation with Wells and Groothius on the pros and cons of personal communications technology, subscribe to the Authors on the Line podcast in iTunes, download the recording (MP3), or stream the conversation." The irony. . .

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Google and the Ghetto

Yesterday we had two fascinating lectures at Lakeside.  First a neighbor who got her first work experience waiting tables at The Abigail (local restaurant, now closed) explained the Google culture where she now works in California.  It was unbelievable.  They can bring their dogs to work; they can get the oil changed in their car; they can bring their laundry and dry cleaning; no desk/cubicle is more than 150 ft from food or a restroom. And she added, the food is delicious and new employees usually gain the Google ten or fifteen.  Workers have social clubs—gays, veterans, hobbies, work out gyms, etc.  Everything is for the team, and the intention is to get more production from the employees. And if employees get burnout from spending too much time at work, a supervisor will add a night out with spouse or partner to their work schedule.

Then at 3:30 p.m. an American embassy employee (Pakistan) who is also a Lakesider and a Christian, talked about the Christians in Pakistan, a tiny persecuted minority.  These people also live and work in a closed environment and rarely go beyond the borders of their ghetto.  They are a persecuted minority and recently we’ve seen stories on TV about the church burning and killing.  The police do nothing. When Pakistan became a country 65 years ago, Christians and the few remaining Hindus were promised religious freedom.  But that began to disappear in the 70s and now there is Sharia Law.  The photos I saw (of their ghetto in Islamabad) are worse than the poverty of Haiti.  These people are descendants of the mid-18th century converts by the missionaries the Europeans sent.  Christians are only welcome if they bring alcohol—Muslims are not allowed to buy it.  Everyone has an ID card that identifies the religion.

It’s very difficult to evangelize for the Christian faith in Pakistan, as you can imagine.  But it must be even harder at Google in California, where every need is met and you must be on the team or be out the door.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

God, people, society and the principle of subsidiarity

The principle of subsidiarity is why we must be careful blaming "society" for the sins of an individual, or letting the state take over for the individual accepting responsibility.

"In God's sight every individual matters in the first place as a person and only then as a social being.

Society can never be more important than the individual person. Men may never be means to a societal end. Nevertheless, social institutions such as the State and the family are necessary for the individual; they even correspond to his nature.

The principle of subsidiarity, which was developed as part of Catholic Social Teaching, states: What individuals can accomplish by their own initiative and efforts should not be taken from them by a higher authority. A greater and higher social institution must not take over the duties of a subordinate organization and deprive it of its competence. Its purpose, rather, is to intervene in a subsidiary fashion (thus offering help) when individuals or smaller institutions find that a task is beyond them. (YOUCAT questions 322-323)" [I'm sure this principle exists for some Protestant groups, but this was easier to find.]

I can think of many social programs that originally were designed to help individuals or smaller institutions in the principle of subsidiarity. Then they were flipped on their heads and the bigger authority took over the duties and rights of the individual, given by God. Think of the difference between government aid for hurricane victims (a huge task require efforts of many agencies and state functions) and the government telling parents what they can put in a child's sack lunch for school.