Of interest from the last couple weeks…
Jeremy Smith – Fair Atheists, Religious Jerks and Clergy Taxes. I think in general there is a lot of misunderstanding about how clergy are taxed; because clergy are considered self-employed, and parsonages are treated as taxable income, clergy (at those who play by the rules), are often taxed at a slightly higher rate than most people. But the cause isn’t helped by clergy (especially those like Rick Warren) who do take their income as a 100% housing allowance and then are able to purchase their own homes, effectively “double dipping” by deducing the interest on mortgages.
A quick note on parsonages – the “free housing” provided to clergy – it’s good to remember that this is primarily a benefit to the congregation, not the pastor, who is missing the opportunity to build equity, receive tax credits for home ownership, and will face becoming a first-time home buyer retirement. In an itinerant system parsonages do make a degree of sense, and I appreciate being able to have lived in some very nice parsonages, but it should be made clear that this isn’t some amazing benefit clergy get – most people in the secular world would not voluntarily choose to live in a situation where their employer was also their landlord (especially if the employer had a reputation of doing things as cheaply as possible).
Seth Godin: Is there a reason for the friction? I’ve actually written about this idea in terms of computer security recently, but it certainly also applies to church membership – there are points where a degree of friction is necessary to make people aware of their choices and to take it seriously.
Lifehack: The 7 Deadly Sins of Happiness.
Fred Clark: The American Legion demands that free citizens take a loyalty pledge written by a socialist. Also from Fred, check out: ‘The rich rule over the poor’: Dave Ramsey, McDonalds, and the personal salvation of personal finance (Part 1), and (Part 2).
It’s always 10:10 in watch ads (via):
9 Things You Have Wrong About Introverts.
The Atlantic: When Trying to Rebut Criticism of Your Racial Politics, Try Not to Make Things Worse.
How Hull Inspired Paul Heaton. Love Hull & Heaton both. Despite Hull being the go-to joke in the UK about a town that’s awful and boring, I remember my time there fondly and would love to make a return visit. (Of course I also love Des Moines and Detroit, so maybe I just love cities that frequently are treated like punchlines).
David Steindl-Rast: Want to be happy? Be grateful:
Thinking of Paul Heaton and Hull, here’s an oldie from the Housemartins: