Worth Reading - 9/22

1. Civil Asset Forfeiture is particularly bad news for the poor, who are often unable to muster funds for legal recourse. This FEE post helps explain why it is such a bad policy:

Asset forfeiture primarily targets the poor. Most forfeitures are for small amounts: in 2012, the Institute for Justice, a libertarian law firm that has focused heavily on asset forfeiture, analyzed forfeiture in 10 states and found that the median value of assets seized ranged from $451 (Minnesota) to $2,048 (Utah). Given that law enforcement routinely takes everything they find in a forfeiture case, these small values suggest the relative poverty of the victims.

The procedural hurdles for challenging asset forfeiture also mean that poor people are less able to get their money back. The average forfeiture challenge requires four weekdays in court; missing four days of work can be a prohibitive expense for Americans living paycheck to paycheck. Additionally, claims are challenged in civil court, where the right to counsel doesn’t apply, meaning that claimants need to hire their own lawyer.

Asset forfeiture is especially dangerous for the unbanked, because police and federal agents consider high amounts of cash to be suspect.

In 2013, half of all households with incomes of less than $15,000 were either unbanked or underbanked. In a report on non-criminal asset forfeiture, the Center for American Progress argues that “low-income individuals and communities of color are hit hardest” by forfeiture.

2. My friend, Maria Estes, was interviewed about her vocation as photographer for the Intersect Project. It's worth reading her discussion of how she serves God by delighting in beauty through her work:

Some people have a hard time understanding how their faith connects with their vocation. What encouragement would you give them?

In some ways what we do is less significant than how we do it. Of course we need to be doing what God has called us to do, but he’s called us to do it well. From the high-powered business person to the missionary to the stay-at-home parent and everyone in between, we all have different things we must do every day. Some of these things might seem less important or impactful than others, but God hasn’t called us all to be overseas missionaries; he’s called us all to be Christ-like, faithful and obedient.

If you’re a Christian business executive, the way you do your job should be different than the way your co-workers who don’t know Jesus do theirs. Work cheerfully. Be kind. Think about money differently than the world. Strive for excellence, knowing that you’re an ambassador for Christ, not just your own reputation. These things glorify God in and of themselves, but they may also open doors to share the gospel.

If you’re a stay-at-home mom, be the best stay-at-home mom you can be. Take time to talk about the gospel as you discipline your children even when time and tempers are short. Work hard to be content and thankful. We can’t, and shouldn’t, all be doing the exact same thing, so whatever God has called you to do, do it well for His glory.

3. Mental disorders are a real thing. Our feelings sometimes deceive us (often, really), but that doesn't mean that, for some people, false feelings are not driven by physiological realities. This engaging post by Adam Ford, the man behind the Babylon Bee, illustrates the indubitable reality of his anxiety disorder.

For 7 years I have lived with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, and Social Anxiety. It has completely changed my life. I have written and drawn about these things before and the response has proven to me that there are tons of Christians who relate to my story. This probably includes people you know. I also know that many are hesitant to tell others about their struggles. So for them, based on my experience, I compiled a little list of things you should know about your Christian friends and family who struggle with anxiety.

Before I had these issues I was an outgoing, type-A extrovert. I fed off social situations and loved being the center of attention. Today I’m a serious introvert who struggles mightily with social situations, unfamiliar settings, having any attention on me, meeting new people, talking on the phone, or even writing an article like this one. More often than not, I just can’t do it. I’ve been unable to leave my house for stretches of time. I’ve almost crashed my car while having a panic attack. I hate going to the doctor or the barber shop. I can’t do small groups with people I don’t know. I’ve tried so, so hard to go to conferences (I wanted to go to T4G so bad this year!), but I’ve never been able to go through with it. I’m a mess, really.

4. Samuel Gregg of the Acton Institute responds to a recent article in First Things, which explained why the current editors are promoting socialism. Gregg's response affirms the value of the discussion, but corrects several of the critiques offered by First Things.

In a recent First Things column, editor R.R. Reno confirmed that the magazine founded by Father Richard John Neuhaus has substantially revised its hitherto generally positive view of the market economy.

This formal shift toward what I’ll call “One Reluctant Cheer for—and Many Doubts about—Capitalism” was no surprise for regular First Things readers. In recent years, some First Things authors have expressed considerable criticisms of global capitalism’s social, economic, and cultural impact, and reservations about the thinking underlining various free market positions. One 2016 article, entitled “Mammon Ascendant: Why Global Capitalism is Inimical to Christianity,” even claimed that possessing private wealth was an intrinsic evil.

Reno’s recent piece contains several observations about Western societies with which few religiously informed conservatives would disagree. Examples include Reno’s warnings about how authoritarian liberalism is now crushing freedom in the name of “diversity,” his criticisms of a transnational political class that can’t disguise its contempt for non-members, and his highlighting of corporate America’s intellectual feebleness and moral cowardice in the face of liberal social agendas.

5. A recent opinion piece in USA Today argues that engagement across political lines is essential for the future of the nation and simply developing a healthy empathy for others.

As I settled into life in the Midwest, I heard the same assumptive questions: “Did everyone you know vote for Donald Trump?” “Are there African-American, Jewish, Asian, LGBTQ people in Indiana?” “Do people make fun of you for listening to National Public Radio?”

Never does one ask about Indiana’s history as a blue state (Indiana cast its electoral votes blue for President Barack Obama in 2008). Never does one ask how the Indiana public schools provide many opportunities that have been cut from California’s public schools because of one budget crisis after another. Never does one ask about the low cost of living that is allowing us to pay off the mountain of debt we accrued in California. And never does one ask about my fellow community members, who are running successful businesses, enriching the city’s arts and making a difference for the local environment.

As I got to know my new Midwest home, I realize how living in a bubble and subscribing to the Middle America stereotypes is truly damaging to this country.

While it is true there are far fewer African-Americans living in Terre Haute than San Diego, that doesn’t mean the city is a bastion of racism either. In fact, very few people know the Lost Creek community in Terre Haute was a stop on the Underground Railroad that helped escaped slaves enter the free state of Indiana before the Civil War. The diversity may not be as evident, but the city has a history of activism.