Saturday, May 25, 2013

How To Respond When Companies Contradict the Faith

A year ago, Starbucks made headlines when Kalen Holmes, executive vice president for partner resources, issued a statement that read in part: “Starbucks is proud to join other leading Northwest employers in support of Washington state legislation recognizing marriage equality for same-sex couples …. This important legislation is aligned with Starbucks business practices and upholds our belief in the equal treatment of partners. It is core to who we are and what we value as a company.”
A few months later at the company’s 2012 annual shareholder meeting, Howard Schulz, the company’s founder, chairman and CEO respectfully defended its support of same-sex marriage as a core value. Fast-forward to the 2013 annual shareholders meeting. Schulz was asked whether it was wise for the company to be so public in its support of same-sex marriage, given that many shareholders and customers believe in traditional marriage, and that the stance had triggered a boycott by the National Organization for Marriage. This time, Schulz was more aggressive, telling the shareholder: “If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38 percent you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much.”
How are we to respond when a company takes actions contrary to our faith, especially as aggressively as Starbucks has? When it comes to marriage, the Church’s teaching is clear: “The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ to the dignity of a sacrament” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1601).
We are called “to do what is good and avoid what is evil” (No. 1706), in this case supporting traditional marriage and avoiding the support of same-sex marriage. While we wish we could avoid all evil, we are a sinful people, and that sin permeates the culture. It’s unreasonable to think we can completely separate ourselves from the evil around us.

A Matter of Cooperation
This gets us to the issue of cooperation: both formal and material. Formal cooperation is when we help in some way and share the goal of the person or organization we are helping. Formal cooperation with evil is never allowed. Material cooperation is when we help a person or organization, but do not share their goals. The principle of material cooperation recognizes what has been described above: that it can be virtually impossible to completely separate ourselves from participating in sinful actions of others.
This brings us back to the example of Starbucks. If you believe in traditional marriage, you wouldn’t be formally cooperating with Starbucks’ goal of promoting homosexual marriage when you buy a cup of coffee from them; however, you would be cooperating materially. How do you decide whether it is acceptable to materially cooperate? Here are a few points to consider:
Is the issue of a serious nature? In this case, the answer is clearly “yes.” That should prompt us to avoid participating if it’s reasonable to do so.
What level of commitment is the company making? A $5,000 annual donation toward the cause of homosexual marriage from an organization with $12 billion in annual revenues represents a modest level of involvement. Saying that homosexual marriage is a core value of the company and supporting legislation promoting same-sex marriage raises the bar substantially.
To what extent do you need the product or service the company provides? I’ll leave the coffee question up to you!
Are there good alternative sources for the product or service of the company? In this case, there are several.
Recognize that although material cooperation with evil is allowed for sufficient cause, it is meritorious to take extra steps to avoid such cooperation.

By Phil Lenahan - OSV Newsweekly, 5/12/2013.  Phil Lenahan is President of Veritas Financial Ministries (, host of Life and Money radio, and author of 7 Steps to Becoming Financially Free (OSV).

Friday, May 17, 2013

Smart Phone Etiquette

Merry Christmas! You are now the proud owner of an iPhone. You are a good & responsible 13 year old boy and you deserve this gift. But with the acceptance of this present comes rules and regulations. Please read through the following contract. I hope that you understand it is my job to raise you into a well rounded, healthy young man that can function in the world and coexist with technology, not be ruled by it. Failure to comply with the following list will result in termination of your iPhone ownership.  I love you madly & look forward to sharing several million text messages with you in the days to come.

1. It is my phone. I bought it. I pay for it. I am loaning it to you.
2. I will always know the password.
3. If it rings, answer it. It is a phone. Say hello, use your manners. Do not ever ignore a phone call if the screen reads "Mom" or "Dad". Not ever.
4. Hand the phone to one of your parents promptly at 7:30pm every school night & every weekend night at 9:00pm. It will be shut off for the night and turned on again at 7:30am. If you would not make a call to someone's land line, wherein their parents may answer first, then do not call or text. Listen to those instincts and respect other families like we would like to be respected.
5. It does not go to school with you. Have a conversation with the people you text in person. It's a life skill. *Half days, field trips and after school activities will require special consideration.
6. If it falls into the toilet, smashes on the ground, or vanishes into thin air, you are responsible for the replacement costs or repairs. Mow a lawn, babysit, and stash some birthday money. It will happen, you should be prepared.
7. Do not use this technology to lie, fool, or deceive another human being. Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others. Be a good friend first or stay the hell out of the crossfire.
8. Do not text, email, or say anything through this device you would not say in person.
9. Do not text, email, or say anything to someone that you would not say out loud with their parents in the room. Censor yourself.
10. No porn. Search the web for information you would openly share with me. If you have a question about anything, ask a person? Preferably me or your father.
11. Turn it off, silence it, and put it away in public. Especially in a restaurant, at the movies, or while speaking with another human being. You are not a rude person; do not allow the iPhone to change that.
12. Do not send or receive pictures of your private parts or anyone else's private parts. Don't laugh. Someday you will be tempted to do this despite your high intelligence. It is risky and could ruin your teenage/college/adult life. It is always a bad idea. Cyberspace is vast and more powerful than you. And it is hard to make anything of this magnitude disappear -- including a bad reputation.
13. Don't take a zillion pictures and videos. There is no need to document everything. Live your experiences. They will be stored in your memory for eternity.
14. Leave your phone home sometimes and feel safe and secure in that decision. It is not alive or an extension of you. Learn to live without it. Be bigger and more powerful than FOMO -- fear of missing out.
15. Download music that is new or classic or different than the millions of your peers that listen to the same exact stuff. Your generation has access to music like never before in history. Take advantage of that gift. Expand your horizons.
16. Play a game with words or puzzles or brain teasers every now and then.
17. Keep your eyes up. See the world happening around you. Stare out a window. Listen to the birds. Take a walk. Talk to a stranger. Wonder without googling.
18. You will mess up. I will take away your phone. We will sit down and talk about it. We will start over again. You & I, we are always learning. I am on your team. We are in this together.
It is my hope that you can agree to these terms. Most of the lessons listed here do not just apply to the iPhone, but to life. You are growing up in a fast and ever changing world. It is exciting and enticing. Keep it simple every chance you get. Trust your powerful mind and giant heart above any machine. I love you. I hope you enjoy your awesome new iPhone. Merry Christmas!  Mom

Monday, May 13, 2013

Hospital Bill

A man suffered a serious heart attack while shopping in a store. The store clerks called 911 when they saw him collapse to the floor.  The paramedics rushed the man to the nearest hospital where he had emergency open heart bypass surgery.  He awakened from the surgery to find himself in the care of nuns at the Catholic Hospital. A nun was seated next to his bed holding a clipboard loaded with several forms, and a pen. She asked him how he was going to pay for his treatment.

"Do you have health insurance?" she asked.
He replied in a raspy voice, "No health insurance."
The nun asked, "Do you have money in the bank?"
He replied, "No money in the bank."

Do you have a relative who could help you with the payments?" asked the irritated nun.  He said, "I only have a spinster sister, and she is a nun."  The nun became agitated and announced loudly, "Nuns are not spinsters! Nuns are married to God."  The patient replied, "Perfect. Send the bill to my brother-in-law."