Web Notables (Feb. 13, 2015)

The black family after 50 years, Republicans and the middle class, forgotten Eastern Christianity, etc.

By The Editors Published on February 13, 2015

“Web Notables” is a daily feature that highlights articles readers may want to see but might have missed. It is compiled by senior editor David Mills.

How Christianity’s Eastern History Has Been Forgotten, by Rowan Williams in the BBC’s World News website. “The familiar story is of the Christian faith moving west, towards Rome,” writes the former Archbishop of Canterbury. “But the facts are dramatically different. Christians were active in what is now Iraq and Iran by the 2nd Century. They were in India and the north of the Arabian Peninsula by the 3rd Century. By the 7th Century there were monks and scholars from Iraq working in China.”

[T]hese communities are a massively important part both of the Christian family and of the history, culture and intellectual development of the nations in which they live. Many Christians were at the forefront of Arab nationalist movements in the 20th Century. They stand as a reminder that Christianity is not just about European — let alone American — power, but also of the fact that the Arab and Iranian world is not just Muslim in its history.

Still Right on the Black Family After All These Years, by Jason L. Riley in the Wall Street Journal. 50 years after publishing The Negro Family, Daniel Patrick Moynihan and his report have proved prophetic, though he and it were widely attacked at the time. With Johnson’s Great Society welfare programs, explains Riley, “Marriage was penalized and single parenting was subsidized. In effect, the government paid mothers to keep fathers out of the home—and paid them well.”

The result is that “in 2012 the poverty rate for all blacks was more than 28%, but for married black couples it was 8.4% and has been in the single digits for two decades. Just 8% of children raised by married couples live in poverty, compared with 40% of children raised by single mothers.”

Securing the Republican Advantage, by David Frum in The Atlantic. “Although the president’s rhetoric has targeted the wealthy few at the very top, his policies have hit hard against people in the middle and upper middle,” writes the political analyst. The burdens of Obamacare fall hardest on the middle class, for example.

“In their times of greatest success, Republicans came from the middle class. Republican politicians felt middle-class aspirations and anxieties as their own. They would do things that tangibly helped the people who sent them to office.” Now, not so much. Frum offers six suggestions for policies that would bring the middle class to the Republican party.

What Reagan’s Greatest Economic Adviser Thought About Austerity, by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry in Forbes. “No one believed in small government more than Milton Friedman, and yet he couldn’t endorse austerity and immediate spending cuts,” writes the French economist, a rare French exponent of the free market. Friedman thought austerity “was wrong — not wrong politically, but wrong on the merits. Why, because like it or not, deep immediate spending cuts are bad for the economy.”

The Careless, Astonishing Cruelty of Barack Obama’s Government, by George Monbiot in The Guardian. Worried about money reaching terrorists, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency ordered American banks to cease transmitting money to Somalia. “Remittances from the Somalian diaspora amount to $1.2bn-$1.6bn a year, which is roughly 50% of the country’s gross national income, and on which 40% of the population relies for survival,” writes the liberal columnist. “Over the past 10 years the money known to have been transferred to suspected terrorists in Somalia amounts to a few thousand dollars. Cutting off remittances is likely to kill more people than terrorists will ever manage.”

And from the archives:

Cardinal Ratzinger Tells Why Many Misperceive Christianity, from the Catholic news service Zenit. “It is critical to come to this fundamental point of a personal encounter with God, who also today makes himself present, and who is contemporary,” said the future pope Benedict XVI. “If one finds this essential center, one also understands all the other things,” the cardinal said. “But if this encounter is not realized, which touches the heart, all the rest remains like a weight, almost like something absurd.”

And about the picture: For more on the church and monastery, see this short documentary.

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