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Friday Five: Charity, Ice Cream and the Spiritual Realities of Unemployment

On Fridays, we bring you the best of our blog and the best of the web. This week’s roundup includes some advice for college freshmen, thoughts on charitable giving and ice cream, and the spiritual realities of unemployment and wealth. 1. An Open Letter to College Freshmen: At Mere Orthoxody, Matthew Lee Anderson provides some helpful “What I wish I would have known” advice to Christian college students. He also has pointers at the Resurgence blog for students at Christian colleges.
Congratulations on getting into the university of your dreams.  And if it’s not of your dreams, congratulations anyway.  You have the opportunity before you to join the 10% of people in the world who have a college degree.  That doesn’t make you smart, at least not on its own.  But it does make you rare, and that’s something.
2. Charitable Giving and Ice Cream Spending: At his Smorgasblurb blog, Chris Horst writes on the idea that if we all just gave more to charity, we would quickly solve all the world’s problems and reduce poverty much faster. While he encourages giving generously to charity, he writes here on how we can use our money in a variety of ways that also contribute to the alleviation of poverty—even through buying ice cream.
When we perpetuate the logic that “increased charitable giving will accelerate poverty reduction,” we inadvertently suggest that other types of spending don’t have a role to play in reducing poverty. In a sense, we create a monetary “sacred/secular” divide. Each use of our dollars—spending, giving, investing and saving—serves valuable purposes in our economy.
3. Arthur Brooks guest hosts the Hugh Hewitt show: What it means to be poor in America: AEI’s Arthur Brooks recently guest hosted the Hugh Hewitt show and discussed unemployment and poverty in America and how we can think through how to help ourselves and our neighbors better flourish. 4. A day to celebrate work: AEI’s Michael Strain tells the personal side of unemployment and underemployment through the story of his friend with a master’s degree from NYU who has most recently worked as a cashier making minimum wage. He writes on the deeper meaning of work—how work helps us to reflect our Creator and contribute our creativity and expertise—and how unemployment is a deeper issue than we think.
Those who can’t find a job are deprived of all this. In this sense, our badly damaged labor market is not just an economic crisis, but a moral one. How can a young person build a life, find a spouse, and make a home without a job? … How can we help them? How can we get Congress and the president to act? How can we employ our labor to make their lives better, to allow them to reach their full human potential?
5. Rich, Poor, or Righteous? At the Kern Pastors Network blog, Drew Cleveland writes on biblical examples of both the rich and the poor in Scripture. Rather than making the money the issue, as we are so often prone to do, Drew cites a recent book by Gerry Bershears and Mark Driscoll that reminds us that righteousness is the real issue.
…in Scripture, material wealth or poverty is never an indication of a person’s status before or relationship to God. The important thing is what the person has done to acquire or lose their wealth, how they view their material state, and how they relate to others in light of that state.