Category: Business & Economics

What TurboTax Teaches Us About Lent

There's something liturgically appropriate about the alignment of Lent and tax season. Both are solemn occasions for discipline and self-reflection, and both anticipate the promise of new life—well, at least for those expecting a refund. Perhaps it's fitting, then, that many in our congregations will likely spend as much time on the TurboTax website as they do in church during Holy Week. Like many…  [more]

The High Calling of Corrections Officers

Mourners gathered in Delaware this month to pay respects to Lt. Steven Floyd, a veteran correctional officer who died during a violent uprising and hostage standoff at the state's largest prison. The tragic ordeal, which some analysts believe was a long time coming, stemmed from inmates’ allegations of inhumane treatment and administrative indifference. Floyd’s selfless heroism during the takeover…  [more]

Fighting Blight with a Gospel Mentality

Blight is like pornography: it’s hard to define, but you know it when you see it. A new Ohio law intends to prevent not blight, but the appearance of blight, by requiring boarded-up (i.e., abandoned) homes and buildings to wear polycarbonate sheets on their windows instead of the default material: plywood. The state’s thinking goes that nothing says “blight” like a bunch of boarded-up…  [more]

Grace for the Rich and Powerful

The woman sitting next to me wore a lovely pink dress and had well-sculpted blond hair. She was quiet and unassuming, patiently waiting her turn to share in the group discussion. When she finally spoke, her voice was modulated. “Hello. I’m the Queen of Belgium.” It took a mighty effort for me not to look surprised. I had heard Belgium’s queen would be at the World Economic Forum (WEF),…  [more]

National Returns Day and the Consumer Liturgical Calendar

Any savvy consumer knows the shopper’s triduum of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the relatively recent addition of Green Monday. How many, though, have heard about National Returns Day? Last week, on Jan. 5, shoppers returned 1.3 million packages. That’s only the number forecasted by UPS. Other carriers like Federal Express and the United States Postal Service will add their own returns, creating a…  [more]

No Room at the Inn? Try Airbnb

I was thinking about G.K. Chesterton’s poem, “The House of Christmas,” this week as I read the news about an ongoing legal battle between the home-sharing company Airbnb and the City of New York. Since 2008, Airbnb’s business model has disrupted the entire hotel industry with the simple idea that people will pay money for the opportunity to stay in someone else’s home rather than in a…  [more]

Soylent and the Cost of Convenience

“Agriculture’s one of the most dangerous and dirty jobs out there… There’s so much walking and manual labor... Surely it should be automated.” This is the candid response that startup entrepreneur Rob Rhinehart gave in a 2014 interview shortly before shipping the first batch of the meal substitute beverage, Soylent, that he and his tech buddies had invented. While reviews on the flavor…  [more]

Donald Trump and the Trouble with Taxes

If taxes are in the news and it isn’t early April, then the story must have something to do with politics. The slow boil of controversy surrounding the tax returns of presidential candidate Donald Trump has now bubbled over into a hot mess of hubris, greed, and grasping for power. And while the odor of political and economic machinations may be enough to turn one’s stomach, there are legitimate and…  [more]

Is Apple Designing Your Future?

On the eve of Apple’s rollout of the iPhone 7, in which the earphone port has been replaced with wireless AirPods, a design firm unveiled a spoof product of its own: the Apple Plug, meant to cover the headphone jack on your old iPhone. The parody led Atlantic tech writer Ian Bogost to wonder whether Apple wants to forcibly dictate the future, or simply gently lead us there. Bogost’s verdict is mixed, but…  [more]

How Christian Intellectuals Can Get Their Groove Back

Alan Jacobs’ recent essay in Harper’s poses the intriguing question: what became of the Christian intellectuals? By this term Jacobs means not merely Christians who are intellectuals, but Christians who function as interpreters and go-betweens of the cultural gaps between the Christian community and the cultural intelligentsia of secularized America. In Jacobs’ view, these public intellectuals have…  [more]

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