The top 11 news, faith and culture headlines of 2017


 

 

 

 

Listen to the 10 min audio

Read the transcript:

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, today is our last In Perspective of 2017. We look down through the years and it is history, or “His Story.” Today, I’d like to talk a look of “His Story” through 2017: I’m going to go through a series of headlines and get you to react. It’s going to be rapid fire.

First off, January 20th, Donald Trump is inaugurated.

1. TRUMP’S INAUGURATION

DR. REEDER: A populist presidency riding a populist wave and appeal. General Eisenhower was somewhat of a populist movement out of his military fame and then General Grant out of the Civil War, but most applicable would be Andrew Jackson that defies conservative and liberal definitions. It’s more or less a movement of the people and for the people by profession and promoted policies.

2. TERRORISM IN SCHOOLS AND CHURCHES

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, another headline from this year is terrorism and how it came to schools and churches.

DR. REEDER: You not only have the ISIS terrorist threats, but you’ve also had the various terrorist activities against churches and schools and massacres. That, of course, is something that’s promoted by the tenor of the culture and what was considered, at one time, sacred places now become a killing field. However, God’s people must not be deterred. We will assemble to worship, and we will give praise to our God and we will confess our Savior to this world.

3. ISIS ON THE RUN

TOM LAMPRECHT:  If ISIS has not been defeated, they’re certainly on the run.

DR. REEDER: Clearly, what’s being done is much more effective than what’s been done in the past. All of their territory has been removed from them. They still have a means of communication and “lone-wolf,”  “strikes” – which really aren’t lone-wolf as they’re nurtured and developed through social media – but the “ISIS armies” have been pretty well destroyed and all the land has been retaken and that is both a strategic and tactical victory that civilization ought to applaud.

4. NORTH KOREA’S MISSILE LAUNCHES

TOM LAMPRECHT: The rogue regime in North Korea and their launching of missiles.

DR. REEDER: Yeah, this is a headache that has faced many presidents ever since the Korean Conflict that established North Korea and it has been a proxy state for communism, in general, but now is a rogue state on its own through the cult-like leadership of Kim Jung-Un. Tom, it remains to be seen whether this will lead to armed conflict or can the president’s initiatives with Russia and China be successful in choking off North Korea economically and relationally.

5. TRUMP-RUSSIA COLLUSION DEBUNKED

TOM LAMPRECHT: Perhaps the biggest story of the year: the accusations of Trump and Russian collusion leading to Clinton corruption, leading to the firing of Jim Comey.

DR. REEDER: My dad used to say, “The worm has turned a little bit,” in that most of the discussion now is the uncovering of Clinton collusion with governmental activity and Clinton collusion with Russia and other states that were giving to the “Clinton Foundation” and finding their way into the Clinton campaign. And, individuals in the Trump campaign, there were charges against them, but it was pretty much outside of campaign activity.

What’s been most enlightening is the uncovering of FBI politically motivated investigations and pronouncements that affected Andrew McCabe, who has led the FBI, and then, of course, the previous leader, Comey, who was fired and that move to fire him seems to be affirmed by the present discoveries, as well. However, what is really being seen here, Tom, is another big story for the year and that is the loss of confidence in government structures.

6. NEIL GORSUCH SWORN INTO SUPREME COURT

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Neil Gorsuch is sworn in as a Supreme Court Justice to replace Antonin Scalia.

DR. REEDER: Many people, of course, who had great difficulty in who they were going to vote for ended up voting for President Trump because of his stated list of nominees for Supreme Court justice and that was pretty much their only reason. Well, they were repaid this year as Neil Gorsuch replaced the empty seat of Justice Scalia and has proven to be an insightful originalist or strict constructionist as a justice.

7. NATURAL DISASTERS

TOM LAMPRECHT: California wildfires and three major hurricanes.

DR. REEDER: And famines and earthquakes – multiple disasters. Of course, we are reminded of what the Bible says that one of the things that we are to be aware of is that the birth pains of, “natural disasters” or, “acts of God” will continue alerting us to the final end of all things in the Judgement seat.

And we continue to both hear of these increasing climactic dynamics that are going on from weather, and earthquakes, and the famines, and the hurricanes and all of those situations that have brought tremendous challenges to nations, in general, and our own nation, in particular. We need to continue to pray for the people of Puerto Rico, whose infrastructure and its fragile nature was fully exposed in these disasters.

8. SOLAR ECLIPSE

TOM LAMPRECHT: Speaking of natural occurrences, the solar eclipse.

DR. REEDER: Where we were, it was 97 percent a solar eclipse and quite the experience for everyone, reminding ourselves of the intricacies of God’s creation and how there is no way that this that we enjoy and see can possibly have come into existence by chance, but the laws that govern us are so intricate throughout God’s creation in the heavens and the earth that, in fact, there must be a Lawgiver and that Lawgiver, praise the Lord, has revealed Himself in His Word and, praise the Lord, has made a way for us to be saved through His Son, Jesus Christ. Through Him, all things were created and, in Him, we can be redeemed.

9. SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND #METOO

TOM LAMPRECHT: One of the biggest stories of the year, sexual harassment, hashtag #metoo.

DR. REEDER: The very industries, such as the media, and such as news and such as politics and the government – that have promoted the sexual revolution – which is, in fact, sexual anarchy and it’s sexual devolution – are now having the result of it come back upon them with these power plays in the workplace, and in the media, and in the entertainment field and in the government and now women who have been harassed are speaking up and there are certain consequences. Of course, I’m reminded of what my mother used to tell us all the time: “Your sins are going to find you out.” I’m sure that’s in the Bible somewhere – if it’s not directly, of course, the Bible says, “What a man sows, he reaps.”

We have sown sexual anarchy and we are reaping its destructive effects in the lives of people, most notably, these women that have come out with the hashtag, #metoo, “I also was harassed.” You cannot have sexual deportment that is appropriate without sexual ethics that put sex within the boundaries of marriage between one man and one woman. And, by God’s grace, may the Gospel so move our hearts that we will embrace God’s great gift of sex in its proper place, which would lead to proper deportment, at least the restraint of sinful sexual advances would be again restored instead of the encouragement of it by our government, by our media and by our news agencies.

10. RELIGIOUS FREEDOM PROTECTIONS

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, we did see some positive movement when it came to religious freedom.

DR. REEDER: Yes. We’re very grateful for the protection of hospitals, of church ministries and also of various rulings that protected the First Amendment and the first affirmation of the First Amendment, which is the free practice of religion, even the repeal of the Obamacare mandate of participation and provision of abortifacients by this president.

11. 500TH ANNIVERSARY OF REFORMATION

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, I started out this program by saying “History is His Story.” That was seen in our final subject that I want to cover for today’s broadcast, the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

DR. REEDER: And, this year, we remember that glorious moment when Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses that erupted into the Reformation, which not only impacted the church, but became the basic underlying force to give us what today is known as western civilization with all of its inadequacies and its imperfections.

The advancement of the work of the Gospel, whereby men and women were saved, the Reformation of the church, the revival of the church, and the resulting Great Awakenings – Gospel Awakenings – and how many of us do labor and pray that God would circle back around and give us another Reformation and another Great Awakening in our own country today because, ultimately, that is our great need. As you go through all these stories, Tom, we actually had over 100 significant events. We’ve pared it down to a few of these to make comment upon and to remind our listeners of, but there is much more to be seen as well.

 

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin. Jessica is editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News. Jessica has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and her work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

1 hour ago

VIDEO: Gov. Ivey extends mask mandate, lottery could be an option as gambling bill languishes, Merrill backs off ‘no excuse’ absentee balloting and more on Alabama Politics This Week …

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and political consultant Mecca Musick take you through Alabama’s biggest political stories, including:

— Did Governor Kay Ivey make the right decision when she extended the mask mandate?

— Is the Alabama Legislature going to look to move forward with the lottery if they can’t get a more comprehensive gambling bill?

— Why did Secretary of State John Merrill support and then retract his support for “no excuse” absentee voting?

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Jackson and Musick are joined by Matt Murphy of Talk 99.5 in Birmingham to discuss the issues facing the state of Alabama this week.

Jackson closes the show with a “Parting Shot” at Alabama Democratic Party Chairman and State Representative Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa) for not following through on his plan to make the party more relevant in Alabama.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN and on Talk 99.5 from 10AM to noon.

4 hours ago

Mo Brooks: Stopping H.R. 1, amnesty keys to winning in 2022 midterms — ‘Then we will be able to neuter Joe Biden’

FLORENCE — With the third month of the 117th Congress now underway, House Democrats have pushed forward in their efforts to pass H.R. 1, which would impose so-called reforms to the country’s voting system.

Also among the priorities for Democrats, who control the White House, House and Senate, are immigration measures that could include amnesty for illegal aliens.

During an appearance at the Shoals Republican Club on Saturday, U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) panned those efforts and said he hoped to stymie the progress of House Democrats on those two fronts.

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Brooks told those in attendance that if Republicans could prove successful in those efforts, it would set the GOP up for wins in the 2022 midterm elections and hamstring President Joe Biden’s push to promote a left-of-center agenda.

“We’ve got to stop H.R. 1, and we’ve got to stop the amnesty and citizenship that Joe Biden has promised,” he said. “If we do those two things, then we’re going to take back the House in 2022. I hope we will take back the Senate in 2022. And then we will be able to neuter Joe Biden over the next two years if we control the House and Senate and set the stage as well for us taking back the White House in 2024 with whoever our nominee may be.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

6 hours ago

2021 Birmingham Heart Walk goes virtual

COVID-19 has forced many nonprofits to shift gears in their fundraising efforts and the American Heart Association (AHA) is no exception. The AHA’s 2021 Birmingham Heart Walk has been reimagined as a digital experience this year to maintain necessary safety protocols due to the ongoing pandemic.

Through the event design, AHA is striving to get more people moving in Birmingham while continuing to raise life-saving funds and keep participants safe in the process. The Birmingham Heart Walk is Saturday, June 12, from 9-11 a.m. and participants can walk from anywhere.

Leading up to the event, participants are encouraged to track their activity through the “Move More Challenge” using the free Heart Walk activity tracker app that can be downloaded from Apple or Google Play. Once registered, users have 30 days to log minutes, and any activity counts. Top movers and fundraisers will be recognized on Heart Walk day.

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“The American Heart Association holds a special place in my heart,” said Southern Company Vice President of Technology David Coxwho will chair the walk for the second time. “They have done so much for my family and for my daughter, Emily, who was born with multiple congenital heart defects. I’m pleased to partner with this outstanding organization in their efforts help our community connect and stay active as we adapt to this virtual world.”

More than 600,000 Americans die each year from heart disease, and the risks have only been compacted by the pandemic. Among COVID-19 hospitalizations, 40% are heart or stroke patients, so this year, donations from the Heart Walk will help fast-track COVID-19 research and train front-line workers in addition to the many other research projects and resources funded by the AHA.

Fundraising and activities for the Heart Walk are beginning to ramp up as the warmer months approach.

“Now is the time to sign up, lace up and start fundraising for the 2021 Birmingham Heart Walk,” said Hannah Carroll, Heart Challenge director of the Birmingham AHA. “Signing up now ensures you won’t miss any of the fun this year, like Rally Days and our new activity tracker.”

On Feb. 18, Cox hosted a virtual kickoff for business leaders in the Birmingham area who will be fielding teams at this year’s Heart Walk. He encouraged counterparts to begin their fundraising efforts by saying, “We’re here for a reason – to fight for a world of longer, healthier lives.”

To view Emily’s story, click here. To learn more about the 2021 Birmingham Heart Walk or to create a team, click here.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

9 hours ago

Schoolyard Roots growing stronger, smarter kids in Alabama

When kids participate in the life of a garden, they see the complete cycle of growing food, cooking and preparing it to eat. School gardens are exciting places for kids to learn basic academic subjects, too.

The Tuscaloosa community came together more than 10 years ago to develop a garden-based learning program called the Druid City Garden project, now called Schoolyard Roots.

Schoolyard Roots employs a full-time teaching staff that provides garden lessons for students, as well as professional development training for teachers. The school gardens provide an outdoor experience rare to many students. They are more likely to make healthy choices and try new foods. Students gain a sense of responsibility, to collaborate and work together as a team.

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“When we see a child’s health and education improve, we know that we’re not only investing in that child’s life today – we’re helping them build a better future,” said Nicole Gelb Dugat, interim executive director. “Schoolyard Roots builds community through food. By increasing access to fresh, locally grown produce, we empower our community to make healthy and sustainable food choices.”

In March 2020, the impact of COVID-19 significantly affected the teaching community. Almost immediately, the Schoolyard Roots team began distributing produce from its gardens directly to local families. By the end of last year, the program had distributed more than 750 pounds of fresh garden vegetables to the community.

“We stewarded our gardens as fresh-air sanctuaries, where children and adults could relax, refocus and reconnect,” said Dugat. “Through it all, we shared vegetables and flowers. We cultivated moments of peace and learned together. We could not have done any of it without our incredible community of supporters.”

They found hope and inspiration in the small miracle of seeds planted by the students. Gardens bring joy, peace and courage in times of struggle. And gardens remind us to have hope for new growth and what is to come.

Schoolyard Roots partners with Tuscaloosa-area elementary schools to bring learning to life through teaching gardens. The nonprofit works in 11 elementary schools across Tuscaloosa County.

Its mission is to build healthy communities through food with the Gardens 2 Schools program.

Gardens support and encourage healthful eating as a key component of children’s physical wellbeing, which can aid their academic and social success, too. The garden is woven through many aspects of a school’s curriculum and adapted for different grade levels.

“The Gardens 2 Schools program cultivates curiosity,” Dugat said. “The program teaches the students how to work together (and) learn self-reliability and compassion.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

9 hours ago

Has Washington’s stimulus measures saved our economy?

Congress is expected to soon pass President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package, the fourth major response to the pandemic. Did these measures save our economy from a protracted recession?

Our initial response might be yes because of last spring’s economic free-fall. The stock market declined 20%. Unemployment jumped from 3.5% in February to 14.8% in April, the highest level since the Great Depression. GDP fell 10% in the second quarter.

The economy stopped collapsing and began regaining ground. The stock market hit new record highs. Unemployment fell to 6.3% in January and inflation-adjusted GDP in the fourth quarter of 2020 was within 2% of the 2019 level. Post hoc ergo prompter hoc, however, is a logical fallacy.

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Macroeconomists disagree over whether government spending can lift an economy out of recession. Keynesians, following John Maynard Keynes’ analysis of the Great Depression, see a role for government stabilization. Austrians in the tradition of Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek argue that government often causes recessions. New classical analysis has blown many holes in Keynesian theories.

Regardless of the efficacy of a fiscal stimulus, our economy may not have faced a recession in 2020. The COVID-19 slump arguably resembled an off-season shutdown in a resort community more than a recession. Except that the pandemic shutdown was unexpected while seasonal closures are planned.

The economy could have been expected to bounce back on its own if the business closure and stay-at-home orders did not last too long. And this seemingly happened during the summer and fall.

How can we assess the stimulus spending? The Payroll Protection Plan and augmented unemployment likely kept some persons employed and softened the financial blow for idled workers. These programs could also be viewed as compensation owed by the government for business closure orders, not a stimulus. Personal saving has risen sharply, so many households’ stimulus checks produced little spending.

Unemployment programs have been beset by fraud. The Foundation for Government Accountability estimates that fraudulent schemes siphoned off $36 billion, more than the $26 billion in unemployment compensation paid out in all of 2019. Do Keynesians think fraud is a fiscal stimulus?

One trillion stimulus dollars were unspent as of January 2021. While some Republicans argued that we should spend this money before approving President Biden’s proposal, the unspent money was in the process of being spent. Still, money not yet spent did not stimulate the economy in 2020.

Proponents of fiscal stimulus warned that the economy would sputter without a fall stimulus. One forecast warned of a five percentage point increase in unemployment and 5% decline in GDP. The House and Senate did not agree on an encore to the CARES Act until December. And yet unemployment fell and GDP grew in the fourth quarter.

Even if some spending helped in 2020, the current stimulus package is almost certainly unnecessary. The Congressional Budget Office was already expecting growth to recover “rapidly,” with GDP surpassing the pre-pandemic level by mid-year and unemployment returning to its prior level by early 2022. For comparison, after the Great Recession unemployment did not reach its 2007 level until 2016.

President Biden’s package includes $500 billion to stabilize state budgets. States operate under balanced budget rules, so revenue declines due to the pandemic would trigger spending cuts potentially slowing the recovery. The $500 billion was based on an 8% decline in state revenues; the Wall Street Journal reports that revenues will be down only 1.6%.

Whatever the verdict on the stimulus spending, it worsened the national debt by about $3 trillion. The long-term debt impact may easily offset any short-term boost to the recovery.

The economic case that government spending can prevent or end a recession is weak. Fortunately, the COVID-19 shutdowns did not trigger a prolonged recession. While we might say, “Better safe than sorry,” the cost of the stimulus will be with us for years to come.

Daniel Sutter is the Charles G. Koch Professor of Economics with the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University and host of Econversations on TrojanVision. The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Troy University.