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Should Americans boycott sweatshops?

On 24 April 2013, an eight-story commercial building, Rana Plaza, collapsed in Savar, a sub-district in the Greater Dhaka Area, the capital of Bangladesh, aerial view (Credit: Jabar Al Nahian via Flickr)I write weekly for The Dallas Morning News as part of their Texas Faith blog.  Recently we addressed the Bangladesh factory tragedy by answering to the question, "Should Americans boycott sweatshops in places like Bangladesh?"  The "Accord on Factory and Building Safety in Bangladesh" is one outcome of this horrific event, but the issue remains.  Here's my response:

Mahatma Gandhi believed that "poverty is the worst form of violence."  But there are many kinds of poverty.

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Why you should care about the poor

World Vision President Richard Stearns walks with two young boys through their village (Credit: Jon Warren/World Vision)When our boys were growing up, my wife taught them to "live a life God can bless."  I've become convinced that's the key to living well.  How do we live a life God can bless today?

When I became a Christian, my answers were simple: Ask Jesus to forgive your sins and become your Savior; read the Bible; pray; go to church; be moral.  In recent years, I've come to see that there is a very significant dimension to biblical obedience that I had simply missed.  Richard Stearns, the president of World Vision, calls it "the hole in our gospel."  What is it?

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The faith of Margaret Thatcher, in her own words

Baroness Margaret Thatcher attending a church service to mark the 25th anniversary of the Falkland Islands’ liberation at the Falkland Islands Memorial Chapel, Pangbourne College, Berkshire, June 14, 2007 (Credit: AFP/Cathal McNaughton)Margaret Thatcher was the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, holding office from 1979 to 1990.  When she became Prime Minister, on the steps of 10 Downing Street she paraphrased the Prayer of St. Francis: "Where there is discord, may we bring harmony.  Where there is error, may we bring truth.  Where there is doubt, may we bring faith.  And where there is despair, may we bring hope."

According to the Church of England's leader during her administration, Lady Thatcher "transformed" the United Kingdom.  Britain's Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks called her a "giant" and one of the few people to leave a "personal imprint" on the nation.

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Benedict XVI: From P.O.W. to Pope

The newly elected Pope Benedict XVI, formally known as German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, blesses thousands of pilgrims from the balcony of the St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, April 19, 2005 (Credit: Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach)Benedict XVI is typically characterized as an eyewitness to history more than its maker.  He followed one of the most charismatic and beloved popes in history.  His reign has been marked by debates over gay marriage, the church's opposition to contraception and abortion, and sexual abuse scandals.  However, despite his lower profile and leadership challenges, I view Benedict XVI as one of the most significant popes in recent history.

His remarkable life

Benedict was the first German to serve as pope in 482 years, and has authored more than 135 theological works.  He has no driver's license, but he is licensed to fly the papal helicopter.  Benedict speaks German, Italian, English, French, Spanish, Dutch, Latin, and Portugese.  He can read ancient Greek and biblical Hebrew.  He presided over the funeral mass for John Paul II, the largest requiem mass in history with more than 400,000 attenders in St. Peter's Square.

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Engaging Islam with grace

Masjid al-Quba, the oldest mosque in the world, at dawn in Medina Saudi Arabia (Credit: Abdelrhman 1990 via en.wikipedia.org)Eleven years after 9/11, most people don't know why 19 terrorists flew planes into three buildings and killed 2,974 Americans.  What motivated Osama bin Laden and his fellow terrorists?  Why do they hate America and the West?

Islam is front-page news every day.  1.6 billion people, 19% of the world's population, are followers of the Muslim faith.  There are more Muslims in America than Episcopalians or Presbyterians.  Muslims now outnumber Jews as the second-largest religion in America.  There are more than 1,100 mosques around the country.

What do Muslims believe?  What differentiates "radical Islam" from the rest of the Muslim world?  What does it all mean for us?

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