Friday, December 11, 2015

Finland: Asylum seekers will work for free

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finland's government will require asylum seekers to work for free and to acknowledge a "national curriculum" on Finnish culture and society, it said on Tuesday, launching measures to tighten its immigration policy.

It will also regularly reassess conditions in the asylum seekers' home countries twice a year, and if necessary, cancel residence permits accordingly.

After its latest reassessment on Afghanistan, it said it would no longer grant subsidiary protection, claimed by people who say they face death or torture, to asylum seekers from South and East Afghanistan.

Read it all here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Islamic Violence Against Women

According to her testimony in the Hadith, Muhammad physically struck his favorite wife Aisha for leaving the house without his permission. His less-favored wives would have fared no better. Aisha narrates, "He struck me on the chest which caused me pain."

Muhammad's wife complained of the abuse that Muslim women suffered relative to other women. "Aisha said, 'I have not seen any woman suffering as much as the believing women.'" (Bukhari (72:715) Of course, she did not live to see the abuse of Christian and Yazidi women at the hands of ISIS.

Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradhawi, a famous Sunni cleric, said here that "It is forbidden to beat the woman, unless it is necessary." He went on to say that "one may beat only to safeguard Islamic behavior," leaving no doubt that wife-beating has religious sanction in Islam.

According to a university study, nearly half of Saudi women are beaten up by their husbands or other family members at home. Many of them are hit by sticks. The photo below shows Rania al-Baz, a Saudi Television Channel One anchor, in a hospital after being beaten by her husband in 2004.

In its continuing attempts to make peace with Islam, the U.S. State Department erroneously reports "that although Sharia (Quranic law) prohibits abuse and violence against innocent people, including women…" it admitted that "such violence and abuse appear to be common problems." 

Sexual abuse

On Wednesday, December 2, 2015 Abdulrahman Ali kidnapped and raped a female gas station attendant in North Dakota while chanting Allahu Akbar. When the police arrived he claimed that the woman was his wife. He has refused to appear in court. Ali’s sister responded by claiming her brother was suffering from mental health issues. That is likely true, but it does not explain why he felt religiously justified in violating the victim.

It is time to face the facts about Islam and sexual abuse. Let us consider recent incidents.

In September 2015, a 31-year-old Moroccan “asylum seeker” was arrested for raping a German woman in the city of Dresden. According to a report carried by Radio Dresden, the attack took place on Thursday, September 17, at the Nossener Bridge in the Dresden. That same month, a 7-year-old girl was raped by a North African migrant in a German park.

Since Sweden opened its doors to mass immigration, rapes have skyrocketed, with many of the rapists being immigrants. The Swedish Crime Prevention Council, which compiles the nation-wide statistics, shows that rapes are up from 3,787 in 2005 to 6,697 in 2014.

Gang rape -- virtually unknown before in Swedish criminal history - increased between 1995 and 2006.  One of the worst cases occurred in 2012, when a 30-year old woman was raped by eight men in a housing project for asylum seekers, in the town of Mariannelund. Sweden's public prosecutor has called the incident "the worst crime of rape in Swedish criminal history."

A document made public by four organizations: LFR (Landesfrauenrat) Hessen, Der Paritätische Hessen, Pro Familia Hessen and the Landesarbeitsgemeinschaft Hessischer Frauenbüros, asserts that women and children at a migrant camp in Hessen are being raped by Muslim “refugees” on such a regular basis that they are afraid to go to the bathroom at night and have to remain fully clothed when they sleep. 

The United Kingdom, which is also set to accept 20,000 more refugees, has numerous cases of Muslim rape gangs, including a Pakistani sex trafficking ring in Rotherham.  At least 1,400 children were sexually exploited by gangs of predominantly Pakistani men in the Rotherham area from 1997 to 2013. 

In Telford, Muslims are responsible for drugging and sexual abuse of up to 1,000 children. A 16-year old victim, Lucy Lowe, died with her mother and sister after her abuser Azhar Ali Mehmood set fire to their house.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Quote of the Week - Giorgio Ghiringhelli

Giorgio Ghiringhelli
Photo: Samuel Golay

“Those who want to integrate are welcome irrespective of their religion. But those who rebuff our values and aim to build a parallel society based on religious laws, and want to place it over our society, are not welcome.”--Giorgio Ghiringhelli

In light of Islamic terrorism around the world, Switzerland is following the lead of Bavaria, France, Hungary and Italy, in cracking down on Islamic symbols and clandestine mosques. Even the generally open-minded Swiss are banning the “burqa” in public.

Voters in a predominantly Italian area of Switzerland voted Sunday, November 29, 2015 to ban full-face veils. According to the Agence France-Presse the decision has outraged the country’s Muslim community and Amnesty International,

The town of Ticino approved a referendum to ban burqas, after the Swiss parliament decided a ban would not “violate the country’s federal law.”

Read more here and here.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Who Was Mohammad?

Required reading for Ethics and Religion 285

He it is who has sent His Messenger (Mohammad) with guidance and the religion of truth (Islam) to make it victorious over all religions even though the infidels may resist. Quran 61:9

Muhammad was born in Makkah (Mecca) in AD 570.  His father Abdullah, son of Abdul Muttalib, died before his birth and his mother Aminah (daughter of Wahhab, the son of Abd Manaf, the son of Zahrah) died when Mohammad was six years old. Aminah was of the Bani Qureish (Quraysh tribe) and Mohammad belonged to the Hashim clan of the Quraysh tribe. (As noted by the French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, in a patrilineal kinship system, mother and son do not always belong to the same clan.)

After his mother’s death, Mohammad’s paternal grandfather Abdul Muttalib took care of him for 2 years. At 8 years of age, Mohammed was taken in by his uncle Abu Talib who did nothing to educate the boy. Mohammad was raised illiterate, and remained unable to read or write until his death. Islamic fundamentalism continues to distain formal education.

Abu Talib was of the Quraysh tribe. He never accepted Mohammad’s new religion. The first to accept Mohammad’s beliefs were his wife Khadijah, his cousin Ali son of Abi Talib, his friend Abu Bakr and Abu Bakr’s wife. Mohammad’s original followers numbered only about 40 people and all were related. At first they met in secret.

In AD 595 Mohammad married Khadijah, a wealthy merchant of Mecca. He was 25 years old and she was 40 years old. Mohammed was her third husband.

Mohammed left Mecca in 622 after the Meccan chiefs attempted to kill him. He went to Medina (Yathrib). The town had a population of roughly 10,000 people when Mohammed arrived. Word of his prophetic utterances had gone before him and he was greeted by the common folk as a prophet, many urging him to stay in their homes which they believed would bring a blessing upon their households.

Compared with arid Mecca, Yathrib was a paradise with lush gardens, date-palm groves, and productive farms. It is situated on the western edge of the central Arabian plateau in the heart of what the Bible calls Dedan. Dedan is named for a descendant of Kush. The highest concentration of Old Arabic scripts has been found in Dedan and the oldest mosques in Baghdad and Cairo were originated aligned to Dedan. Genesis 10:7 tells us that Dedan was a grandson of the Kush by his son Raamah.

The oldest mosques in Cairo and in Baghdad are aligned to a point in Dedan, about 500 miles north-northwest of Mecca.

Dedan is a name found among Abraham’s descendants in association with Abraham’s first born son Joktan (Yaqtan). Josephus knew him as Joctan and his name is preserved in the ancient town of Jectan, near Mecca.

The sub-clade ZS227 includes the Kohanim (priest) haplotype and it is found among some Jews and some Arabs, further evidence of a common patrilineage. The Yaqtanite (Jokanite) clans still reside in southern Arabia.

Genesis 10:26 tells us that Joktan had 13 sons. Almodad appears to be the first-born. If Joktan followed the pattern of his fathers, his two wives would have maintained separate households on a north-south axis. The sons of his concubines would have been sent away to the east and to the west. This may be the meaning of Genesis 10:30 which describes the Joktanite territory as extending "from Mesha [Mecca?] all the way to Sephar in the eastern mountains (Zafari or Dhofar on the Gulf of Oman?]."  The Lebanese scholar Kamal Salibi thought this might be so. Mesha is the name of the Moabite ruler whose celebrated victory over Israel is written on the Mesha stele found in 1868. According to Salibi, Mesha is an Arabian word and Moab was a village near Mecca. The modern road from Mecca to the Gulf of Oman runs west to east, just south of Riyadh.

In Medina, Mohammed built an open-air mosque with a shaded area to the south called the suffah and he aligned the prayer space facing north towards Jerusalem. Adjoining this mosque on the east and west were chambers for Mohammed’s two wives Sauda and Aisha. As with Lamech (Genesis 4), Mohammad set his wives on an east-west axis. The Bible scholar Theodor Gaster notes that the names of Lamech's wives - Adah and T-zillah - relate to the words for dawn and dust. This rounds out the picture of Lamech's arrogance, for besides bragging about killing a man, he set himself up as an equal to God.

In the ancient world placing your wives on an east-west axis this was regarded as sacrilegious. It represented setting oneself up as the Creator whose emblem the Sun made an arc from east to west. All the great patriarchs placed their wives in separate settlements on a north-south axis. Abraham's half-sister wife Sarah resided in Hebron and his cousin-wife Keturah resided to the south at Beersheba. Both were in the region of Edom and Abraham was related to the Horites rulers of Edom who are named in Genesis 36.

Eventually, as Mohammad gained more influence and greater military strength, the qibla (prayer direction) of the mosque in Medina was oriented to Mecca.

Mohammed added other apartments for women his troops had taken as slaves. One of these was a Jewish girl named Safiya, who had been betrothed to the chief Kinana, who was slain when Mohammed’s raiders attacked the Khaibar Jews in their settlement six days journey northeast of Medina.

Among the people in Medina, there was a small community of Jews that had resided in this area from before recorded history. These Jews agreed to protect Yathrib alongside Mohammed in the event of attack. This agreement is called the Constitution of Medina. It stated that “The Jews shall be responsible for their expenses and the Believers for theirs. Each, if attacked, shall come to the assistance of the other.” It also stated that “The Jews shall maintain their own religion and the Muslims theirs.”

The nature of this treaty is the subject of dispute among historians. Many maintain that it is a cobbling together of oral and written agreements from different periods. Ibn Ishak, an 8th century historian wrote a history for Muslims which includes genealogies representing the Islamic tradition. He appears to be the principal source of information about the Constitution of Medina.

The Banu Kainuka was one of the Jewish clans living in Medina. In 624, they threatened Mohammed's political authority by rejecting his claim to be The Prophet of Allah. Around this time, a Moslem girl visited a goldsmith shop owned by one of the Kainuka Jews. As she sat in the shop a mischievous Kainuka pinned her skirt behind her to her upper dress. When she arose she cried out in shame at her exposure. A Moslem then slew the offending Jew, whose brothers retaliated by killing the Moslem. For fifteen days, Mohammed blockaded the Kainuka Jews in their quarter until they surrendered. He then ordered them to leave Medina without their possessions.

These Jews, who numbered about 700 had lived peacefully among the Arabs for many millennia. Their principal occupation was metal work. They resided in two fortresses at the southwestern end of the Yatrib and they had Arabic names.

Considering himself to be at war with the rulers of Mecca, Mohammad felt justified in removing any hostile elements living in Medina. He attacked the Banu-Nadhir Jews, charging them with helping his enemies and plotting against his life. After a three-week siege, these Jews were forced to leave Yathrib, only this time each family was allowed to take as much as a camel could carry. (A large bull camel can carry up to 1323 pounds (600 kg) and smaller camels up to 882 pounds (400 kg). Mohammed then appropriated their date orchards, and distributed other lands and possessions among his supporters. This is how Islamic conquests are rewarded to this day.

Islam today

The divisions within Islam today are multiple and the parties often fight against one another, employing terrorist tactics such as suicide belts in busy markets and bombs in mosques. The Wahhabi branch has the most extreme followers. Mohammad’s maternal grandfather was called Wahhab. However, the Wahhabism of today is named after an eighteenth-century preacher and scholar, Muhammad son of Abd al-Wahhab (1703–1792). He was born around 1703 in Najd, a town in the remote north-central desert of Arabia. As a young man he traveled to Medina and to Basra, in southern Iraq. He returned to Najd to preach. Like Mohammad, he had come to the conclusion that he was the recipient of what it means to be a true follower of Allah. He believed that "not one of my teachers" knew the true meaning of "there is no god but Allah."

Abd al-Wahhab insisted that doctrine of tawhid - absolute monotheism, and the unity and uniqueness of God - had been weakened by popular practices as requests for intercession by saints and prophets, worship at tombs and shrines, and superstitions surrounding numbers and the Jinn. He attempted to reform popular Islam, going so far as to advocate execution of idolaters. His focus was on Muslim apostates who should be killed and this includes adherents of Sufism, Muslim mystics.

Abd al-Wahhab's zeal got him kicked out of a number of places, including his hometown. Eventually, he found a patron in Muhammad bin Saud, a chief (emir) of Diriyya, a large agricultural settlement. The two men shared expansionist ambitions and came to a mutually-beneficial agreement. Abd al-Wahhab would be granted protection and control of religious practice in lands within bin Saud's dominion, and at the same time, Abd al-Wahhab would grant religious legitimacy to bin Saud's rule. The alliance eventually became the cornerstone of the present Saudi kingdom, established in 1932. 

Abd al-Wahhab belonged to the Banu Hanifa. Ironically, the Banu Hanifa tribe were involved in military conflict with Mohammad. Mohammad sent his warriors against the Banu Haifa. His men returned with war booty and with the chief of the tribe of Banu Hanifa, Thumamah son of Uthal Al-Hanafi. They tied him to a pole. Presumably he was tortured, but the story dissolves into legends about Mohammad questioning the chief of the Banu Hanifa. The legend goes like this:
Thumamah used to say: "If you were to kill someone, then you would have to choose one of noble descent, if you were to be gracious, then let it be to a grateful man and if you were to ask for money, you would have to ask for it from a generous man." It is said that he repeated that three times on three different occasions. On the third time, Muhammad ordered that he should be released and later Thumamah converted to Islam.

Reality, not legend

The Quran contains 109 verses that call Muslims to war against non-Muslims in order to advance Islamic rule globally. Some include commands to chop off heads and fingers. Terrorist acts are encouraged. "If thou comest on them in the war, deal with them so as to strike fear in those who are behind them, that haply they may remember." Quran 8:57

Islamic leaders perpetuate this legacy with an eye to domination. Saudi Arabia is the first source of financial support for the expansion of Islam worldwide. Recently, Saudi Arabia offered to build 200 mosques in Germany. These mosques will become centers of indoctrination and recruitment for Islam’s ambition of global conquest. In Saudi Arabia, the mosque leaders are appointed and paid by the government. They are removed if they instigate rebellion or incite violence. As a democratic republic, Germany will find it much more difficult to monitor activities in the mosques. 

Democratic states grant greater civil liberties than Islamic states. Islamic states control religious activity and forbid free exercise of religion, speech and gathering. Islam dictates morality through Sharia and does not tolerate opposition. In this context, ethical conversation becomes guarded and almost impossible. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Socialists and ISIS Stop Islamization of the world
France is heading for full blown civil war.

In world news, Putin tells Erdoğan to go to hell along with his ISIS buddies.

The Socialists in Spain, France and Turkey accuse Israel of war crimes and overlook the crimes of Islamic Socialists. A Spanish judge recently issued a warrant for the arrest of Netanyahu.

In June 2005 the Socialist Prime Minister of Turkey, Tayyip Erdoğan, joined Socialist President of Spain José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero as the co-sponsor of the Alliance of Civilizations initiative. Guess what this group does?

Muslims in France vote for Socialists who then tolerant their radicalism to keep their votes. Putin sees through it all. Who could be better at understanding Socialist tactics?

WikiLeaks cables portray Saudi Arabia as a an ATM for terrorists. No surprise. Typically, angry male refugees from failed Islamic states get naturalized, become community organizers, and receive funds from Saudi Arabia to build mosques headed by radical imams who teach hatred against the citizens of their adoptive country. How many of today’s refugees are tomorrow’s terrorists?

The Saudis control terrorism in their country by not allowing entry to Syrians, by monitoring activities in all the mosques, cameras in all the mosques, and through appointment of the imams. Saudi Arabia also pays the imams' salaries so they would be foolish to disturb the status quo.

Following reports that a Syrian refugee was among the perpetrators of the terrorists attacks that took place in Paris on Friday, Governor Mike Pence issued the following statement:
“In the wake of the horrific attacks in Paris, effective immediately, I am directing all state agencies to suspend the resettlement of additional Syrian refugees in the state of Indiana pending assurances from the federal government that proper security measures have been achieved. Indiana has a long tradition of opening our arms and homes to refugees from around the world but, as governor, my first responsibility is to ensure the safety and security of all Hoosiers. Unless and until the state of Indiana receives assurances that proper security measures are in place, this policy will remain in full force and effect.”

We live in interesting times!

Related reading: Facing the Facts About Islamic Extremism

Friday, November 6, 2015

Quote of the Week - René Girard

René Girard with Martha McCullough, his wife of more than 50 years.
Girard died on November 4, 2015 at the age of 91.

"Jesus accepts to be the victim, and we don't really know why," Girard said. "There, what the Gospel said is that it is God himself who has allowed all this scapegoating, and says, 'You can forgive me, since now I am ready to become your victim myself.'"

Related reading:  RIP René GirardRené Girard: Stanford's provocative immortel is a one-man institutionHistory is a test. Mankind is failing it.; In Memory of René Girard: The Truth about Life and Death

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Quote of the Week - George Sumner

"In a time of strained relations (to say the least) with the Anglican Global South, what if Episcopalians could recognize that their more conservative colleagues are preserving something for the whole, and for the future? What if they are preserving a fragile bridge on behalf of the entire church? Isn’t this the positive meaning of remnant? Those with power need to see the minority as able to accomplish something that the majority cannot. Such a realization is usually salutary for the powerful." -- George Sumner, Bishop-Elect of the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas (From here.)

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Denying the Humanity of the Unborn

The problem for abortion supporters is that the humanity of the baby can no longer be denied.

by Niamh Ui Bhriain

It must be a strange place, that parallel universe of the pro-abortion campaigner, where killing is dressed up as compassion, and where, in stout denial of all the scientific facts, babies aren’t really human beings.

Pregnant women aren’t really carrying a baby in their wombs you see. Maybe they find them in cabbage patches. Or storks bring them in cute colourful slings.

It’s like reasoning with small, very stubborn, children except these people aren’t cute. They are fanatics – extremists who believe that unborn babies can be aborted until birth. Take a minute to imagine what that involves: the baby’s heart started to beat at 3 weeks; at 8 weeks she was perfectly formed; babies born at 23 weeks have survived outside the womb, but Irish abortion advocates want to ensure that babies can aborted right through all nine months of pregnancy.

It’s difficult to understand this mind set, since it’s so out of kilter with what we normally understand to be required to be a compassionate or civilised society. It’s in our nature to protect children, and to care for those in crisis. It’s natural to recoil at the thought of ending a child’s life.

Yet, this week when Vincent Browne asked abortion campaigners on Tv3 to explain their opposition to any term limits they said that killing babies until birth should be legal in case the baby had a disability or the woman’s circumstances had changed.

In other words, instead of compassion, they called for killing. Instead of addressing women’s needs, they pushed for abortion. They are calling for the opposite of what a really progressive society would do, which is to terminate the crisis and not the child.

In fairness, some abortion campaigners may well be uneasy at the thought of killing a baby this late in pregnancy, but they are committed to an extreme left-wing/liberal ideology which refuses to give an inch in terms of acknowledging the very obvious humanity of the baby.

The problem for them is that the humanity of the baby can no longer be denied – and this has been the case for decades. It's why polls actually show that most Irish people reject abortion-on-demand, and why most people consider the positon of #Repealthe8th groups to be so extreme. (In 2013, Choice Ireland also argued in defence of gendercide – aborting babies because they were girls – an extreme position actually shared by most abortion campaigners but which would be appalling to the vast majority of decent people).

Saying the unborn child is not a baby just won’t work. Too many people have seen ultrasounds, and have marvelled over all the amazing photographs of babies in the womb which pop up everywhere on social media. Too many people have heard their own baby’s heartbeat, or seen their baby waving or smiling in scans, to believe this propaganda.

Abortion campaigners can’t close that window to the womb. So that’s why they try to ignore it, to obfuscate the humanity of the baby with strident claims of competitive rights between “the woman and the fetus”.

But that won’t work either. It would be a very strange and distressing world if women saw their baby as an enemy. Most women with crisis pregnancies don’t do that: they are in crisis and they need support, but sometimes all they are offered is abortion. In this country, most women with a crisis pregnancy go on to have their baby, and those babies are much loved and cherished. No-one regrets giving life to their child.

The recent emergence of videos (below) released by investigative journalists in the US show abortionists callously harvesting and selling baby parts. This horrific footage leaves us in no doubt that the abortion industry knows that this is a baby. They have hardened themselves to deal with that fact because they are making money from selling abortion to vulnerable women.

Deep down, people are opposed to abortion because destroying a human life disturbs us, and because we know that we can do better for women than to simply tell them to get rid of their baby, and then leave them with the all the consequences and the regret and sorrow of that loss.

In the past 14 years we’ve seen our abortion rates drop by a massive 45% in Ireland, so maybe we’re getting better as a society at providing the support that’s needed – though the pro-abortion Labour Party aren’t helping matters by cutting payments to single parents.

We need to do more. Attempts to write the baby out of the abortion debate doesn’t help women and doesn’t help children. The inescapable fact is that, for every baby, their abortion story ends badly, because abortion ends their life. It kills them. And no amount of denial or pretence can change that fact.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

A Muslim Kid with a Clock

Alice C. Linsley

The 14-year old Muslim boy who brought a homemade clock to school was arrested on suspicion of bringing a bomb. The boy was handcuffed and questioned by five police officers at MacArthur high school in Irvine, Texas. Was this over-reaction or proper security?

Ahmed Mohamed
This wasn't a school project. Ahmed said that he wanted to impress his teachers. One teacher said he shouldn't show it to the other teachers. It beeped in 6th period class and he showed it to that teacher. She said it looked like a bomb and reported it. Ahmed said, "From my perspective it didn't look like a bomb."

Here is the statement from one of the White House staff, DJ Patil, on Ahmed Mohamed: 

"Yesterday, a 14-year-old student named Ahmed Mohamed was arrested for bringing his engineering project (an electronic clock) to his high school. Officials mistook it for a bomb.

When I was growing up, my friends and I were fortunate to know how to use soldiering irons, circuit boards, and even a bit of duct tape when nothing else worked. We played, experimented, and learned through trial and error.

The best part? When I brought my work in, my teachers loved it. And that fed my desire to embrace science, engineering, and technology. That learning to play with technology -- that curiosity -- has helped me on every step of my journey so far.

That's why I’m so proud to see people across the country standing up for the innovation and intellectual curiosity that Ahmed has shown.

That includes the President."

President Obama Tweeted:

"Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It's what makes America great."

The President and his wife are known to encourage young people in the sciences. But is this really about education? Would this even have made national news if the boy had been a Christian? The President's praise is for a Muslim boy who the President thinks has been treated unfairly. Would the President have noticed a Christian boy arrested under the same circumstances?

Personally, I think that was a nice gesture on the part of the President. It may soften the boy's trauma at being handcuffed and questioned, assuming Ahmed was traumatized. He strikes me as a young man who enjoys the attention. That is what he wanted when he brought his clock in a briefcase to school.

Richard Dawkins tweeted similar suspicions. Dawkins said: “If this is true, what was his motive? Whether or not he wanted the police to arrest him, they shouldn’t have done so.” In a subsequent tweet, Dawkins said: “Assembling clock from bought components is fine. Taking clock out of its case to make it look as if he built it is not fine. Which is true?

“Yes, there are other reasons why a boy might take a clock out of its casing and pretend he’d made it. Trying to impress teachers, for instance."

Dawkins doubts the boy designed the clock. Yet this young man won a robotics contest in junior high. His family is of Sudanese heritage and his older sister was suspended for reportedly threatening to blow up the school. You would think that Ahmed would recognize that the need for better judgement, but in general teens notoriously are lacking in good judgement.

Ahmed's arrest triggered allegations of racism and Islamophobia from the Left and caution from the Right. Kevin Jackson discussed the Muslim with the clock, insisting that this is a set up; a crying wolf so that next time a Muslim kid brings an electronic device to school in a briefcase people will not react so quickly.

There has since been an outpouring of support for the young man in a NASA T-shirt and handcuffs. Ahmed has received a gift of a Surface Pro 3, a Microsoft Band, a 3D printer, an Office 365 subscription, and much more. These were delivered to him by a Muslim woman Alia Salem who Tweeted: "Enjoyed delivering box of tech goodies gifted by @microsoft to Ahmed! Mashallah!"

Ahmed will continue to receive attention from this incident and much sympathy. Sympathies will swing to Muslims as a whole. Rights groups will jump on this, and the police of this Texas town will likely face litigation for doing their job. Lots of trouble will come out of Ahmed's attention-getting behavior.

Ethics of Animal Experimentation

Xavier Symons | 18 Sep 2015

Animal research – the use of the use of live animals as experimental subjects in biomedical and behavioral fields of learning – has been subject to increasing scrutiny in recent years. A new edition of the Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics contains several articles on the ethics of animal research, many of them from novel perspectives.

The editors of the special volume, Tom L. Beauchamp, of Georgetown University, and David De Grazia, of George Washington University, see the articles as a step toward addressing “the unresolved tension between the noble aspirations of animal research and the ethical controversies it often generates”.

“The moral assumption…that the moral status of animals is inferior to the moral status of human beings—a thesis commonly expressed in the language of “human dignity”…[is] now increasingly called into question”, write Beauchamp and De Grazia in their editorial.

Interestingly, only one of the articles – a short paper by the NIH Clinical Centre’s Holly Kantin and David Wendler – advances arguments against the sort of human exceptionalism that De Grazia and Beauchamp mention. Kantin and Wendler discuss empirical evidence that they believe suggests chimpanzees have ‘proto-agency’, and argue from this that chimps should be expected to ‘acquiesce’ to research.

A number of the articles run a less controversial argument, suggesting that animals – though inferior in moral status to human beings – should nevertheless be spared from research that causes unnecessary harm or that denies the animal basic quality of life. As much is suggested by De Grazia and Jeff Sebo in their article ‘Necessary Conditions for Morally Responsible Animal Research’.

Neurologist Aysha Akhtar questions the very reliability of research on animals for predicting human reactions. She points to a growing body of scientific literature that critically examines the performance of animal modeling (and of animal experimentation more generally) and raises concerns about its value for predicting human outcomes and for insights into human physiology.

This special CQHE section is a valuable contribution to what is sure to become a vibrant area of ethical research in the near future.

Read it at BioEdge.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Why North Koreans Can't Write Research Papers

Born and raised in Seoul, Suki Kim posed as an English teacher at an all-male university in Pyongyang run by evangelical Christians; she spent six months teaching the 19-year-old sons of North Korea’s ruling class. In this excerpt from her investigative memoir, she describes the experience.

“Essay” was a much-dreaded word among my students. It was the fall of 2011, and I was teaching English at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology in North Korea. Two hundred and seventy young men, and about 30 teachers, all Christian evangelicals besides me, were isolated together in a guarded compound, where our classes and movements were watched round the clock. Each lesson had to be approved by a group of North Korean staff known to us as the “counterparts.” Hoping to slip in information about the outside world, which we were not allowed to discuss, I had devised a lesson on essay writing, and it had been approved.

I had told my students that the essay would be as important as the final exam in calculating their grade for the semester, and they were very stressed. They were supposed to come up with their own topic and hand in a thesis and outline. When I asked them how it was going, they would sigh and say, “Disaster.”
Read it all here.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Muslim Flight Attendant Suspended

A Michigan flight attendant says she was suspended by the Atlanta-based ExpressJet because of her refusal to serve alcohol due to her religious beliefs as a Muslim. Charee Stanley filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Detroit last week.

Her attorney says that ExpressJet initially agreed to a religious accommodation, telling her other flight attendants could handle requests for alcohol. And, according to CNN, that arrangement was working fine for about two months until another attendant complained to the airline that Stanley wasn’t fulfilling her duties.

ExpressJet issued a statement saying the airline values diversity but could not comment on personnel matters.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Good Friday Denied to Cranston Teachers

For the first time this year, the Cranston Rhode Island school committee eliminated Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah and Good Friday as school holidays. Instead, it negotiated a collective bargaining agreement that allows teachers to take up to two days off each school year if they are required to attend religious services during the school day.

AP reports that on Monday the union filed suit because the school system has denied requests from some 200 teachers to take Good Friday off, even though they allowed teachers who requested it to take Rosh Hashanah off last fall. School Superintendent Judith Lundsten says that the Good Friday requests are not covered by the collective bargaining agreement because Good Friday does not require attendance at religious services during school hours. According to the Cranston Patch, the suit claims that the discriminatory denial of religious leave here is a breach of the collective bargaining agreement and a violation of the state Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”

The reasoning of the school committee is flawed. Good Friday is properly a full day of fasting and prayer. It may or may not involve a church service, but it does involve fasting, prayer and quiet contemplation of the Lord's Sacrifice. These activities cannot be done in the context of a routine work day.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Population Increases and Hunger Decreases

Contrary to the fear mongering of population alarmists, the world isn’t heading for a demographic catastrophe. The latest data on world population from the UN Population Division reveal a number of trends that indicate otherwise. The following is PRI’s brief overview of some of the findings from the recently released 2015 Revision of the World Population Prospects.

According to the UN Population Division’s medium variant projection, world population is estimated to be 7.3 billion today. That number is expected to rise to 9.7 billion by 2050 and 11.2 billion by 2100. In the past two and a half decades, world population has increased by 2 billion people. Yet despite the rapid rise in world population, the percentage of people living with hunger in developing countries has actually dropped from 24% to 14% over the same time period. Welcoming another 4 billion to the human family, if that in fact actually happens, does not necessitate a demographic catastrophe.

Read it all here.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Lord Weidenfeld Repays a Debt

A Jewish peer who fled occupied Austria as a child is funding the rescue of up to 2,000 Christians from Syria and Iraq as a way of showing his gratitude to the religion whose members saved him from the Nazis.

Lord Weidenfeld says he has “a debt to repay” to Christians fleeing Isis, because the Quakers and the Plymouth Brethren fed and clothed him and helped him to reach Britain in 1938.

The publisher is spearheading Weidenfeld Safe Havens Fund, which last week supported the flight of 150 Syrian Christians to Poland on a privately chartered plane to allow them to seek refuge, making them the first beneficiaries of the resettlement project.

Read it all here.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Ms Cotton on behalf of WATCH

Female clergy of the Church of England
Back row, left to right:
Rachel Treweek, Nicola Sullivan, Annette Cooper, Joanne Grenfell

Front row:
Libby Lane, Jane Tillier, Vivienne Faull, Christine Wilson

Ms. Cotton on behalf of Women and the Church (WATCH) wrote:

"Anyone who ministers within the Church of England must be prepared to acknowledge that the Church of England has reached a clear decision on the matter; [Indeed this decision was a parliamentary one and there remains no real consensus on women priests and bishops.]

Since it continues to share the historic episcopate with other Churches, including the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and those provinces of the Anglican Communion which continue to ordain only men as priests or bishops, the Church of England acknowledges that its own clear decision on ministry and gender is set within a broader process of discernment within the Anglican Communion and the whole Church of God; ..." [The church of England's decision to have women bishops has defined that Church as no longer having the "historic episcopate."]

Ms Cotton argues that the provision of alternative chrism masses for parishes that do not accept the decision of the Church of England emphasises division and is “a cause of much pain to clergy women and their supportive male colleagues.” The continuation of such events is “a thoughtless challenge to mutual flourishing.” [How can there be mutual flourishing? Only the Church that upholds Apostolic teaching, Patristic consensus, and the authority of Holy Scripture can flourish. The other will wither and fade away in time.]

The dispute arose over chrism masses. Chrism masses involve the blessing of holy oils and renewal of priestly vows, and "are an essential part of the sacramental ministry of the bishops concerned to the clergy and people who have been placed by the House of Bishops’ Declaration under their oversight and care." - Statement of Bishop of Wakefield, a bishop of the Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda, an ecclesial community dedicated to maintaining catholic teaching and practice within the Church of England.

Read more about this dispute here.

Related reading: Women Priests and the ACNA; The Question of Women Priests Must Be Addressed; C.S. Lewis on Women Priests; Why Women Were Never Priests; Alice C. Linsley's Address to the ICCA (July 2015)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Growing Tension in the South China Sea

Statue of the Virgin Mary in Bohol fishing waters

A recent letter from a Filipino friend concerning the growing tension in the South China Sea.

Good day Madame Alice Linsley,

Thank you for this attached article. It is sad that this territory has been left unattended by our government for so long. The government of the Philippines which was constituted as an independent republic by the USA in July 4, 1946 have failed to properly protect this territory.

Historically, in the 13th century a Chinese Admiral of the Emperor"s War Fleet, a Hui Muslim by the name of Admiral Zeng He from Yunnan China, have established diplomatic relations with Kingdom states in South East Asia. His exploits have helped to cement a treaty of friendship and alliance with the Sultanate of Malacca, and with the Kingdoms in what is now Philippines.

In 1600 the Chinese Emperor have entered into a Treaty of Friendship and Alliance with the Sultan Muhammad Dipatuan Nasseruddin Qudratullah, Kudarat I, the Sultan of Maguindanao who was a descendant of the Sultan of Malacca on his mothers side.

The sultanate of Maguindanao which has its territory as Mindanao have fought against Spanish intrusion for more than 300 years without being subjugated. When Spain through its leaders in Mexico, which governs the Philippines, sell the subjugated territory in the far east to America in 1898, without ownership right by conquest or subjugation, have included Mindanao, the territory of Sultan of Maguindanao, to the USA, and in 1946 against the three documented manifestos of the Sultans of Maguindanao and Sulu against inclusion of Mindanao and Sulu to the then created republic of the PHilippines, have forcely annexed Mindanao and Sulu (territories of Sultans of Sulu and Maguindanao) to the Republic of the Philippines.These Sultans are what you have identified as of Kushite ethnicity.

The sale of Spanish territory, which is Luzon and Visayas, to USA in 1898 was facilitated by brother Masons of government of Mexico to the Brother Masons of the government of the United States of America and with Brother Masons of the Filipinas, members of Traditional Institution of Freemasonry. Free Masons in Europe have supported the Traditional Institution of Kingships, even British Masons Sir Thomas Stamfor Raffles have supported the Tradition of Kingships in subjugated territories in South East Asia, but in the the Philippines they have violated the tradition of kingship.

This violation of the right of free state of the Sultanate of Maguindanao and Sultanate of Sulu, against the Statutes of Liberty as enshrined in the US Constitution, have effectively foreclosed the historical and sovereignty rights of the Sultanate of Maguindanao to what is now West Philippines Sea, the disputed area. The fact that China Emperor, the Dutch Government, the British Government, even the United States of America have entered into treaties with the Sultan of Maguindanao and Sultan of Sulu in the past have proven that such disputed territory now is not owned by China as what they are now claiming, that they have historical right over it. It was the Kushites Sultanates of Mindanao and Sulu who has historical ownership right over the disputed area.

Even in the 10th Century our history books told that the Kingdom of Butuan in Mindanao have Treaty of Friendship and Alliance with the Emperor of China. Therefore, being kingdoms it has prior right over the seas around it.

The Republic of the Philippines which constituted by USA in 1946 only, have claimed sovereignty over this disputed territory by citing a claim of a certain Filipino by name of Mr. Cloma made in 1950's, a very late claimant.

There are pains in our heart but we pray Almighty God will correct this injustices in his time.

Thank you very much for your prayers and concerns.

Very sincerely yours,

Mr. Jose Bulang

Mr. Jose Bulang lives in Bohol where dynamite fishing is illegal because it destroys an ecosystem, and the smaller fish. Because of the fear of God, people in Bohol decided that the best way to stop dynamite fishing would be to put a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary underwater so that the fishermen will see the statue pleading with their good hearts and conscience. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Quote of the Week - Archbishop Michael Ramsey

"The faith to which we are called will always be folly and scandal to the world, it cannot be in the usual sense of the word popular; it is a supernatural faith and it cannot adapt itself to every passing fashion of human thought. But it will be a faith alert to distinguish what is shaken, and is meant to go, and what is not shaken and is meant to remain." -- Archbishop Michael Ramsey

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Quote of the Week- Statement of the ICCA

This International Congress invites all Anglicans throughout the world (a) to a reexamination of the doctrine of the Church and (b) to a further consideration of areas of continuing ecclesial contention, for instance, the ordination of women, deemed by some to be a first order issue. This is necessary so that there may be a revival of Catholic Faith and Order, and a return to a biblical, credal, and conciliar fidelity. Only through honest discussion, ongoing prayer, and ultimate agreement will faithful Anglicans discern fully what God is doing in the great realignment taking place globally. This International Congress prays also that in God’s good providence there will be a truly Ecumenical Council of the whole Church to address contentious issues facing Christians and churches and to strengthen the faith of the Church.

Statement of the International Catholic Congress of Anglicans. Read the full statement here.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Quote of the Week - J.I. Packer

In 2002, the synod of the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster
authorized its bishop to produce a service for blessing same-sex unions, to be used in any parish of the diocese that requests it. A number of synod members walked out to protest the decision. They declared themselves out of communion with the bishop and the synod, and they appealed to the Archbishop of Canterbury and other Anglican primates and bishops for help. 
J. I. Packer was one of the people who walked out.
When asked why he walked out, he answered, "Because this decision, taken in its context, falsifies the gospel of Christ, abandons the authority of Scripture, jeopardizes the salvation of fellow human beings, and betrays the church in its God-appointed role as the bastion and bulwark of divine truth.”

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Quote of the Week - Alexis de Tocqueville

"The Union was formed by the voluntary agreement of the States, and in uniting together they have not forfeited their nationality, nor have they been reduced to the condition of one and the same people. If one of the States chose to withdraw from the compact, it would be difficult to disprove its right of doing so, and the Federal government would have no means of maintaining its claims directly either by force or right." --Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Quote of the Week - Kevin Cochran

“People of any faith, when they’re strong in their faith, they would choose to live out their faith over keeping their job,” Cochran said. “But that should not even be a dilemma for any American in this country.”

Kevin Cochran was fired as the Atlanta Fire Chief after gay activists attacked him for a book he wrote titled Who Told You You Were Naked?

“In the United States of America, we are guaranteed the freedom to live without fear of being terminated or experiencing any adverse action for the free expression of our beliefs and thoughts,” Cochran said. “It was an injustice against me on that basis.”

Friday, July 3, 2015

Quote of the Week - Patriarch Kyril

The general political direction of the [Western political] elite bears, without doubt, an anti-Christian and anti-religious character. We have been through an epoch of atheism, and we know what it is to live without God. We want to shout to the whole world, ‘Stop!'-- Patriarch Kyril of Moscow and all Russia

According to Fr. Patrick Reardon, priests in the Russian Church Abroad are no longer given blessing to sign any civil marriage documents in the United States.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Belgium's Big Business: Organ Harvesting

Belgium is plagued by a culture of death and has been for many decades. By a vote of 50 to 17, the Belgian Senate approved euthanasia for children in December 2013. In a case that attracted world attention, Belgian doctors killed 45-year-old deaf identical twins who were going blind in 2013. Since before 2011, Belgium doctors have been harvesting the organs of euthanised patients. It is a big business there.

In the latest news from Belgium, a 24-year-old woman who is suffering from depression but is otherwise healthy will be euthanised.

She qualifies for "the right to die" under the Belgian law, even though she does not have a terminal or life-threatening illness.

The 24-year-old woman, known simply as Laura, has been given the go-ahead by health professionals in Belgium to receive a lethal injection after spending both her childhood and adult life suffering from "suicidal thoughts", she told local Belgian media.

Laura has been a patient of a psychiatric institution since the age of 21 and says she has previously tried to kill herself on several occasions. She told journalists: "Death feels to me not as a choice. If I had a choice, I would choose a bearable life, but I have done everything and that was unsuccessful." The date of Laura's death is yet to be decided.

Read more here.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Peter Singer "Disinvited" Again

From BioEdge

Peter Singer is in hot water in Germany again over his controversial views.

The Australian utilitarian philosopher began his royal progress through Europe well. In late May he added another two honorary doctorates -- from the Universities of Athens and of Bucharest -- to his extensive collection of awards and distinctions. From there he went to Berlin to receive the inaugural “Peter Singer Prize for Strategies to Reduce the Suffering of Animals”. He was introduced in glowing terms by Maneka Gandhi, Indian Minister of Women and Child Development, who is president of People for Animals in her own country. A German politician explained why he was so popular: “Peter Singer's ideas are logical, free from religion and easy to understand”.

However, these encomiums were lost on a gathering outside where about 250 people had assembled to protest the invitation. Their message was that Singer believes in killing babies.

The protest may have unnerved the organisers of an eight-day (only in Germany!) philosophy festival in Cologne called phil.Cologne. Singer’s invitation to speak on May 31 was cancelled -- a bit odd, considering that he had been described in the conference programme as “one of the world’s most influential philosophers”. "How can you call yourself a philosophy festival, if you are too afraid to discuss issues that bother some people?" an exasperated Singer told the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger afterwards. "Hasn’t that always been the role of philosophers since the days of Socrates?"

What happened?

While the organisers were aware of Singer’s stark views on infanticide and euthanasia, they must have hoped that the public would focus on his role as the foremost theorist of animal liberation. The title of his session was to have been “Will vegans save the world?”

Unfortunately, on May 26 a Swiss newspaper published an interview with Singer in which, under aggressive questioning, he expressed his views with characteristic frankness. Whatever else may be said about Peter Singer, he is no equivocating trimmer. Here are some selections. (Thanks to a reader of the Leiter Reports blog for the translation.)

Neue Zuricher Zeitung: You do not consider an infant to be more worthy of protection than an embryo. On the other hand, you do not necessarily ascribe a higher status to humans than to animals.

Peter Singer: Belonging to the human species is not what makes it morally wrong to kill a living being. Why should all members of the species homo sapiens have a right to life, whereas other species do not? This idea is merely a remnant of our religious legacy. For centuries, we have been told that man was created in the image of God, that God granted us dominion over the animals and that we have an immortal soul.

NZZ: If you were standing in front of a burning house with 200 pigs and one child inside, and you could choose to save either the animals or the child, what would you do?

PS: At a certain point, the animals' suffering becomes so great that one should choose to save the animals over the child. Whether this point occurs at 200 or two million animals, I don't know. But one cannot let an infinite number of animals burn to save the life of one child…

NZZ: How about yourself: are you useful enough?
PS: Considering the influence I've had, my choice of profession is justified. I have motivated people to think about reducing animal suffering and helping people who live in extreme poverty…

NZZ: Would you go as far as to torture a baby if this were to bring about permanent happiness for the whole of mankind?

PS: This question is from Dostoevsky's "The brothers Karamazov"; Ivan poses it to his brother Alyosha. I may not be capable of doing it, as it is in my evolutionarily developed nature to protect children from harm. But it would be the right thing to do. Because if I didn't, thousands of children would be tortured in the future.

This is not the first time that Singer has been “disinvited” in Germany. Back in 1989, 1990 and 1991 engagements in Germany, Switzerland and Austria were cancelled after vehement protests from disability groups. 

Read the comments here.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Quote of the Week - Edward Bouverie Pusey

The revival of High Church catholicity in the Church of England was expressed in the Oxford Movement, and its acknowledged leader was Edward Bouverie Pusey, who said, "We must bend our minds and conform them to the teaching of Holy Scripture, or men will end in bending Holy Scripture to their own minds, and when it will not bend, will part with it."

In 1833 Pusey joined John Keble and John Henry Newman in producing the Tracts for the Times, which gave the Oxford Movement its popular name of Tractarianism.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Controlling the Muslim Population in Myanmar

Rohingya Muslim girls in Myanmar's strife-torn Rakhine state

It is hard to imagine a more inhumane policy than China's one-child policy. But there is one: the two-child policy imposed on Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims. In 2013, the Myanmar government reaffirmed a 2005 policy which punishes Rohingya women who bear more than two children with hefty fines and loss of legal rights for the children.

Here is more on this attempt to control ethnic minorities.

Burma (or Myanmar) has recently passed a law that seeks to control the country's population. According to this report from Deutsche Welle:

“The president of Myanmar has signed a controversial population control bill into law, state media reported on Saturday. The law requires mothers to have their children three years apart. It was passed over the objections of rights activists, who say that it not only represses women, but also religious and ethnic minorities.”

Now, currently Burma's population is about 60 million, but its current total fertility rate is at only 2.23 children per woman, not too far above the replacement rate of 2.1. So where is the crisis of burgeoning population growth to justify such a measure? Well, apparently the Act (The Population Control Health Care Act) was drafted under some pressure “from hard-line Buddhists with anti-Muslim sentiment in mind” according to Burmese media. It is the belief of some that the Muslim proportion of the population (around 10 percent of the whole) has such a high birth rate that it could end up becoming the majority in the future. The head of Human Rights Watch's Asia office, Brad Adams, certainly thinks that this is what is driving the measure and is not afraid of pulling any punches in saying so:

"Activists with a racist, anti-Muslim agenda pressed for this population law, so there is every reason to expect it to be implemented in a discriminatory way"

The power has been given to local authorities to implement the three-year birth spacing requirement in areas with rapid population growth, but as the statute doesn't describe any punitive measures for non-compliance, I presume it will be up to the local authorities to tailor their own penalties.

Once again we can see a government seeking to regulate the most intimate decisions that families can make. Presumably if the new Act is to have any effect on people’s decisions the authorities will have to come up with some way of enforcing it and placing people in impossible situations of bending to the law or facing the consequences. Presumably this Act will fall on the poorest most heavily (particularly if the penalty is pecuniary) and presumably will further exacerbate feelings between the Buddhist majority and Muslim minority. Whether it will have a deleterious effect on Burma’s fertility rate remains to be seen.

From here.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Quote of the Week - Rt. Rev Patricia Storey

“I believe that civil partnerships give gay people clear civil rights and recognition as people committed to one another, and I fully endorse this. However, I do not think that this requires the redefinition of marriage to uphold it, and I do not believe that marriage should be redefined.”-- Rt. Rev Patricia Storey, in a letter to the clergy in the United Diocese of Meath and Kildare

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Death for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

The death penalty as punishment for his role in the Boston Marathon bombings of April 2013 was always on the cards for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev once his case was put in the hands of a federal court. Massachusetts, the state where Tsarnaev and his older brother made their fatal attack on the famous marathon run, does not allow the death penalty. But federal law does – and 60 percent of Americans, according to a CBS poll, support this fate for the young murderer.

Is the federal jury’s decision the most just and reasonable response to a horrendous crime? Or have they missed an opportunity to deal a decisive blow to a kind of justice that Americans are increasingly rejecting as inhumane and unnecessary? After all, if the crime of a would-be mass murderer could be adequately punished in another way, there would no reason to execute anyone else.

There is no question that Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev planned lethal harm to many people and executed their plan in cold blood, killing three people and injuring more than 260 at the event. They also shot a policeman, and another policeman died during the pursuit of the bombers, as did Tamerlan himself. Theirs was a terrible crime and deserves a heavy punishment – something that America’s toughest jails are, from all accounts, well able to provide.

Read it all here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Private Ownership vs Public Access

Karl D. Stephan

Let me present a contrast between an ownership lifestyle and an access lifestyle.

Exhibit A for the ownership lifestyle is my late father-in-law Ben. Following his marriage in 1946, he built not one, but three different small houses with his own hands, selling each one and building another while holding down surveying and drafting jobs. Once he found steady employment with the Texas Highway Department, he bought a new contractor-built house in a growing subdivision and a new 1955 Oldsmobile, which he still owned when he died earlier this year.

From that point on, he lived the American dream of ownership. Anything he needed and could afford, he bought: TVs, lawnmowers, appliances, and (much later in life) computers for his wife to pursue her genealogy hobby with.

Contrast that lifestyle with that of a hypothetical 30-something single living in Austin—call him Brad. He rents a stylish apartment near the Metro rail that he rides to work, so he doesn't own a car. He calls vehicle-for-hire services like Uber when he needs to go anywhere that he can't get to in the city with public transportation.

His biggest single expenditure this year was for a three-week European tour with some friends. His most expensive single possession is a mechanical watch. Brad spends most of his discretionary income on experiences and services rather than things. He pays for access, not for stuff.

Brad is part of the reason that rates of new-vehicle ownership, home ownership, and even possession of a driver license are all declining in the age group of U. S. citizens centered around 30, according to an article by James Poulos in a recent issue of The New Atlantis, “Losing Liberty in an Age of Access”. Poulos is concerned that the decline of ownership among young people will lead to a corresponding decline in freedom. Will it?

Before exploring that question, we should admit that technology has played a major role in the rise of the access economy. Technically, software is leased, not owned. "Buying" software (already a fading trend in contrast to ongoing service contracts favored by many software firms) really just gives you the privilege of using it. The planned obsolescence of many products, whose useful life is measured in months rather than years, is enabled by rapid advances in digital technology and manufacturing techniques, even when hardware is involved.

The services so favored by Brad and his friends are usually intermediated by the internet, and would be much harder or impossible to offer without it. So if we are looking for guilty parties in the case of the movement from ownership to access, technology is a prime suspect.

Who is more free?

To the question of whether Brad, the access guy, is more free than Ben, the ownership guy, one might respond, free to what? And here we step into some deep philosophical waters.

Superficially, Brad looks a lot more free—no burdensome car or house payments or other long-term obligations (unless you count student loans), free to up and run off to Antigua or Bermuda or you name it for a vacation—the ideal young-urban-professional life. Only, if everybody in the country acts like Brad, with no wife or kids and no plans for same in the future, the country would die out in a generation. Something like this is already happening in Japan, whose population declined by 268,000 (0.2%) in 2014.

Even people Brad's age seem to have a sense that they are missing something that an earlier generation had, without knowing exactly what it is. I've been invited to the upcoming wedding of a Brad-generation couple who have erected an elaborate wedding website, complete with a list of things to do for out-of-town guests coming to Dallas. One of the items is a visit to a museum about the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, and the prospective couple attached this curious comment to it: "As many of y'all know we were born in the wrong era." What does it mean when a whole generation thinks it was born in the wrong era?

To answer the question of human freedom, you must have some idea of what human beings are for. There are varying opinions on the purpose of human life. In 1992, as part of its decision in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, the US Supreme Court regarded the core of liberty as the right to "define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” That idea would be fine with Brad, whose concept of existence may change from year to year, or even month to month, as he ponders his next appealing experience.

But there are others who regard human beings as marked with the divine image. I came across a fine word the other day in a book by the English professor and translator of Dante, Anthony Esolen, Reclaiming Catholic Social Teaching. The word is "theomorphic," meaning "formed in the image of deity." Esolen says that "the right of private property is grounded, not in practical economics, but in the theomorphic nature of man." Because man is made in the image of God, anything that is a product of man's labor is owned, and ownership is something only humans can lay claim to.

And only people can choose whether to use their ownership of the fruits of their labor to live lives of superficial pleasure, spending their income on transient experiences and then ultimately passing out of existence, like Windows 98; or to found a family—either literally or by playing the role of father or mother to the younger generation—and serving those who come after us, passing the torch of human life and its best meanings to those who come after us.

Doing the latter requires a longer-term vision than the next expensive vacation. Those who work simply to enjoy the access to services provided by giant concentrations of ownership, are ultimately slaves to the owners of those service providers, whether it feels like slavery or not.

The classic image of this type of slavery is Aldous Huxley's dystopian novel Brave New World. But those who work not just for themselves, but to provide for others, using ownership as a means of providing for a real or metaphorical family—they are those who, while appearing to lose their lives in service to others, can actually save them.

Karl D. Stephan is a professor of electrical engineering at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. This article has been republished, with permission, from his blog, Engineering Ethics, which is a MercatorNet partner site.