Richard Rohr: Sermon on Mount: Description of a Free Life

 For ancient people, salt was an important preservative, seasoning, and symbol of healing. What does Jesus mean by such an image?

First, he’s not saying that those who live this way are going to heaven. He is saying that they will be gift for the earth. We think of Jesus’ teaching as prescriptions for getting to heaven (even though we haven’t followed them). Instead, the Sermon on the Mount is a set of descriptions of a free life.

Jesus’ moral teaching is very often a description of the final product rather than a detailed process for getting there. When you can weep, when you can identify with the little ones, when you can make peace, when you can be persecuted and still be joyful . . . then you’re doing it right. He is saying, as it were, this is what holiness looks like. When you act this way, “The Kingdom of God is among you” (Luke 17:21). Jesus doesn’t seem to be concerned about control, enforcement, or uniformity.

.. If Christians—Jesus’ self-proclaimed followers—no longer believe the Gospel, if we no longer believe in nonviolence and powerlessness, then who’s going to convert us? We’re supposed to be the leaven of the world, yet if we no longer believe in the Gospel, what hope do we have of offering anything new to anyone?

.. “The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better” is one of the Center for Action and Contemplation’s core principles.

How two decisions in Washington could turn AT&T into a uniquely powerful company

The future of AT&T could be shaped by two big decisions in Washington this week, with the Justice Department suing the telecom giant on Monday to block its $85 billion purchase of Time Warner and the Federal Communications Commission announcing a plan Tuesday to roll back net neutrality rules, handing a big win to Internet providers.

.. If it wins its antitrust case against the DOJ, AT&T could buy Time Warner without offering any concessions to the government. It could then benefit from the repeal of the government’s net neutrality rules, allowing it to leverage Time Warner’s massive library of shows, television stations and films like few other companies.

  • Some, such as May, argued that the loosened regulations would allow AT&T to market Time Warner’s content in new and different ways that could theoretically help Americans.
  • Others argue that the combination of a bigger AT&T with a more relaxed regulatory environment could simply increase the firm’s incentives to harm competitors in the marketplace.

.. “One can’t imagine that there are any broadband providers who would be eager to test the limits of what is now allowable under this regulatory regime, given the enormous risk of popular and/or regulatory or legislative backlash,” said Moffett.

.. the combined company could use its newfound control over HBO, CNN and TNT

.. AT&T’s chief executive Randall Stephenson has said that the goal of purchasing Time Warner is to build an advertising behemoth that can compete with Google and Facebook.

.. “The problem from the point of view of DOJ is that if the deal is approved, it will be very hard to police any commitment

.. “The record of such commitments is very poor. The companies do whatever they want. And that’s well understood by everybody.”

 

Elizabeth Warren: One Way to Rebuild Our Institutions

When Novartis, a major drug company that was already effectively on federal probation for misconduct, paid kickbacks to pharmacies to push certain drugs, it cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and undermined patient health. Under the law, the government can boot companies that defraud Medicare and Medicaid out of those programs, but when Novartis got caught, it just paid a penalty — one so laughably small that its C.E.O. said afterward that it “remains to be seen” whether his company would actually consider changing its behavior.

.. Last year, five of the world’s biggest banks, including JPMorgan Chase, pleaded guilty to criminal charges that they rigged the price of billions of dollars worth of foreign currencies. No corporation can break the law unless people in that corporation also broke the law, but no one from any of those banks has been charged. While thousands of Americans were rotting in prison for nonviolent drug convictions, JPMorgan Chase was so chastened by pleading guilty to a crime that it awarded Jamie Dimon, its C.E.O., a 35 percent raise.

.. Personnel is policy.