When Helping Hurts. Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett wrote in “When Helping Hurts” that sometimes our good intentions are not enough. If we want to truly help the poor, or those who have been touched by disaster—such as those in the path of Hurricane Harvey—we must account for unintended consequences. This wisdom will help our leaders as we think through how to rebuild in the aftermath of Harvey and other natural disasters, and one area getting scrutiny is the National Flood Insurance Program. Recently, even the New York Times Editorial Board, which rarely criticizes a big-government program, argued for a dramatic overhaul, perhaps even an end to the program. Investigative journalist John Stossel did a major report on this program years ago, and he beat a drum about it for many years afterward. One of the problems he discovered is that the program has a lot of wealthy advocates and beneficiaries. So this program will not be easy to kill, but when both John Stossel and the NYT Editorial Board agree something is a bad idea, it’s a good bet it’s a bad idea. And there are a half-dozen ways that have been floated to fix this problem, though most of them involve phasing out the government’s role over time and letting the price of insurance float to true cost. In short, let the private market price the insurance based on true risk.
Many Saints Seeing All Saints. The new faith-friendly movie “All Saints” is not setting box-office records, but it is quietly moving from obscurity to respectability. The movie about a pastor who re-invigorates a dying parish cost only $2 million to make and in just two weeks has taken in about $3.8 million. The movie is getting generally good reviews, even from secular reviewers; the movie review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 93 percent, which is unheard of for faith-based movies. Even the venerable review site RogerEbert.com says: “All Saints feels like a bit of a miracle. It’s a faith-based movie inspired by a true story that lets its dramatic moments unfold without relying on melodrama.”
Deciding Who Dies. An Oregon man wants to help his wife die by withholding food from her. According to USA Today, Nora Harris “was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease in 2009.” She signed an advance directive “to prevent her life from being prolonged when her disease got worse.” Her husband Bill Harris says, “She’s being kept alive with assisted eating and drinking against her stated wishes.” However, Alex Schadenberg, director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, told WORLD, “If a patient is still able to open his or her mouth for food and water, they are making a cognitive choice, even if they have a mental disability.” According to Oregon law, spoon or cup feeding is not medical treatment. Schadenberg said, “If it is seen as medical treatment, then we can basically dehydrate anyone to death.”
No Sacred-Secular Divide. A message you’ll hear often from the Colson Center is that there is no such thing as a “sacred-secular” divide. All callings are sacred, whether that’s the calling to be a pastor or an electrician. And all these callings come with duties and responsibilities if we are practicing our vocations for the glory of God. That’s why I was gratified to hear the story of Farha Roofing in Wichita Kansas. According to a statement from Wichita-based Operation Rescue, South Wind Women’s Center, a well-known abortion facility, “sought the services of Farha Roofing under the guise of Kellogg, LLC, concealing the fact the building was actually an abortion facility.” Pro-life activists in the area made Farha Roofing aware of the true nature of the business, and the roofing company pulled out of the job, leaving it unfinished. Operation Rescue stated: “It may be a long time before any more work is done. South Wind has had difficulty finding anyone in Wichita to work on their building and have had to go out of town—and even out of state—for some venders, such as plumbers and electricians.” Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, said, “The message is loud and clear. The people of Wichita do not want an abortion facility operating in their city.”
Image courtesy of Provident Films. Illustration designed by Heidi Allums.
Warren Cole Smith is an investigative journalist and author as well as the Colson Center vice president for mission advancement.