Posted by Kendall Harmon

"A Church that is no longer able to say ‘it is written’ has placed itself in great spiritual danger, but that is where the Anglican Communion could be led according to a review just released of ‘Living Reconciliation’, a book written to promote the 'Continuing Indaba' project."
My dear brothers and sisters,

I send you greetings in the precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ who by his suffering and death has destroyed death!

The gospel writers normally portray Jesus’ mission as the unfolding of a clear divine purpose so I find it striking that the only occasions when we find him wrestling with choices are the temptations in the wilderness at the beginning of his ministry and in the Garden of Gethsemane as he approaches the cross.

In contrast, we easily become preoccupied with self-centred choices that distract us from the challenges of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. The temptations that Jesus faced remind us that we too are in a lifelong spiritual battle. This is a truth we affirm in the baptism service of the Anglican Church of Kenya which includes the words ‘Do not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified. Fight bravely under his banner against sin, the world and the devil and continue his faithful soldiers and servants to the end of your lives.’

Read more...

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of KenyaGlobal South Churches & Primates

February 27, 2015 at 11:47 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is a fact well known to certain Episcopalians—both those who have left the Episcopal Church (USA) and those who have remained—that ECUSA and its dioceses have followed a pattern of suing any church that chooses to leave for another Anglican jurisdiction. But the full extent of the litigation that has ensued is not well known at all, either in the wider Church, or among the provinces of the Anglican Communion. (Otherwise -- one would think -- it would never have been deemed to be conduct to be rewarded by this honorary degree, rather than this one.)

Your Curmudgeon proposes to do what he can to rectify this situation, by publishing an annual update on this site of the current status of all past and present cases in which ECUSA or any of its dioceses has been or is involved, from 2000 to date. Feel free to link to this post, to email links to it to other Episcopalians, and to send it to your Bishop -- and feel free to post any updates or corrections in the comments. In another update to be posted as General Convention approaches, I will publish a revised total for all of the money spent by ECUSA and its Dioceses to date on prosecuting all of these lawsuits (and, in the case of the second group below, defending them).

The lawsuits initiated by ECUSA and its dioceses to date are first listed below. They far outnumber, as you can see, the second list of the eight cases begun by a diocese or parish against the Episcopal Church (or a diocese). The listing endeavors to be as complete as I can make it. The first 83 cases, generally grouped by the State in which they each originated, are the legal actions filed since 2000....

Take the time to read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

February 24, 2015 at 7:01 am - 25 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For the second time in less than a month, South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Diane S. Goodstein rejected arguments by The Episcopal Church and its subsidiary, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, that the two groups are rightful owners of the churches, symbols and other assets of the Diocese of South Carolina.

In her Order denying the motion for reconsideration she stated, “Large portions of the motion are simply the proposed orders previously submitted to the Court or reiterations of the Defendants’ positions at trial.”

The motion had also argued that because the Diocese had argued legal positions in the All Saints case contrary to those now being presented, that Judicial Estoppel should apply. In response, Judge Goodstein sharply noted... “The court finds that the Judicial Estoppel argument is without merit....If the Defendants’ argument in the instant action was correct, no party previously adjudicated to be wrong would be able to correct their conduct in compliance with a court’s holding. Such a result would be contrary to all sense of justice and order... With regards all other matters presented in Defendants’ Motion for Reconsideration, they are hereby denied.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: South Carolina* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

February 23, 2015 at 6:00 pm - 7 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

February 16, 2015 at 9:12 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read the remarks of Bishop William White, generally recognized as the leading founder of PECUSA, as I reported them in this earlier post (with my bold, again):
. . . And there appeared [at that more general meeting in October 1784] Deputies, not only from the said three States, but also from others, with the view of consulting on the exigency of the Church. The greater number of these Deputies were not vested with powers for the binding of their constituents; and therefore, although they called themselves a Convention . . . yet they were not an organized body. They did not consider themselves as such; and their only act was, the issuing of a recommendation to the churches in the several States, to unite under a few articles to be considered as fundamental.
Moreover, at pages 6-7 the motion again reverses temporal order: "The Diocese [of South Carolina] came into existence as the Diocese when TEC's Constitution was adopted in 1789." This claim is metaphysical, not legal -- if the Diocese did not have any legal existence before its authorized representatives signed ECUSA's Constitution in 1789, then how could their signatures on the Constitution have been authorized? And why did they sign as "Lay Deputies from the State of South Carolina" if the Diocese (i.e., "State") did not yet exist? (The "State of South Carolina" [in the political sense] was not the entity forming PECUSA. The word "State" was also used in an ecclesiastical sense, as the predecessor to the later word "Diocese" -- which began to be used after the State of New York split into two "Dioceses" in 1839.)

The motion goes right on inventing new facts and claiming them to be true....

Read it all.

For more recent stories & commentary on the South Carolina Circuit Court Ruling, see here.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: AnalysisEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts SchoriTEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: South CarolinaTEC Polity & Canons* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

February 14, 2015 at 12:15 pm - 3 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O Lord God, keep ever in our remembrance the life and death of our Saviour Jesus Christ. Make the thought of his love powerful to win us from evil. As he toiled and sorrowed and suffered for us, in fighting against sin, so may we endure constantly and labour diligently, as his soldiers and servants, looking ever unto him and counting it all joy to be partakers with him in his conflict, his cross, and his victory; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Filed under:

February 28, 2015 at 7:30 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this he is bound to offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people. And one does not take the honor upon himself, but he is called by God, just as Aaron was.

Read more...

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

February 28, 2015 at 7:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Oh King of grief! (a title strange, yet true,
To thee of all kings only due)
Oh King of wounds! how shall I grieve for thee,
Who in all grief preventest me?
Shall I weep blood? why thou has wept such store
That all thy body was one door.
Shall I be scourged, flouted, boxed, sold?
'Tis but to tell the tale is told.
'My God, my God, why dost thou part from me? '
Was such a grief as cannot be.

Read more...

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchPoetry & Literature

February 27, 2015 at 4:50 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Our God and King, who didst call thy servant George Herbert from the pursuit of worldly honors to be a pastor of souls, a poet, and a priest in thy temple: Give unto us the grace, we beseech thee, joyfully to perform the tasks thou givest us to do, knowing that nothing is menial or common that is done for thy sake; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistorySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchPoetry & Literature

February 27, 2015 at 4:15 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At first, Eva Christiansen barely noticed the number. Her bank called to say that Ms. Christiansen, a 36-year-old entrepreneur here, had been approved for a small business loan. She whooped. She danced. A friend took pictures.

“I think I was so happy I got the loan, I didn’t hear everything he said,” she recalled.

And then she was told again about her interest rate. It was -0.0172 percent — less than zero. While there would be fees to pay, the bank would also pay interest to her. It was just a little over $1 a month. But still.

These are strange times for European borrowers, as if a wormhole has opened up to a parallel universe where the usual rules of financial gravity are suspended.

Read it all from the NYTimes Dealbook.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEuropeDenmark* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

February 27, 2015 at 4:00 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I am sitting by the swimming pool at the Canyon Ranch resort in Tucson, Arizona, only it is not really a resort, it is a fitness/wellness/life-enhancing centre where people who are very stressed come to detox and, as I am discovering, “find” themselves. But this resort is not brimming with stressed-out women, worn thin and ragged by juggling motherhood, wifedom and being the heads of companies. No. The classes here are full of men – men with great big identity issues.

There is 45-year-old Lee, who has just “gotten divorced” and has, in the course of a month, slept with 15 women. “I don’t see myself as that type of man,” he says, “but I feel so lonely and I don’t know what to do with my life.” There is Ryan, aged 53, who has never married and is in crisis about why he hasn’t. Then there is Steve, 49, a travel agent, long-time married, who has hit a midlife crisis. He says he really does want to buy a Harley-Davidson and head off down Route 66. “Is that wrong?” he asks. “I just don’t know what I want in my life anymore.”

They are all part of a “sandwich generation”: they sit between the baby boomers and the digital natives. And they are a group who have, according to recent statistics, lost their way.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyMenMiddle AgePsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

February 27, 2015 at 3:21 pm - 1 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Neuhaus sympathized with [many so-called 'conservatives'] grievances—over abortion and gay rights, challenges to school prayer and to Christian displays in public, and the coarsening of American culture. But he rejected their solution because the groups, he wrote, saw no reason “to engage the Christian message in conversation with public and universal discourse outside the circle of true believers.” Neuhaus instead affirmed the core premise of Enlightenment political thought: the differentiation of public authority into separate, autonomous spheres that valued individual rights.

He argued that the strongest support for these rights came from the Judeo-Christian tradition’s foundational conviction: We are made in the image of God. Demanding absolute obedience to political dictates, whether in the name of God or something else, would undo centuries of political progress, and goes against God’s own gift of free will to every human person.

And so he rejected the Christian right’s political project of establishing an explicitly Christian America. He further reasoned that if the right’s only argument for how Christians could contribute to American public life was through exclusively religious dictates, then it made sense that secular elites were pushing back so strongly.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

February 27, 2015 at 11:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...an appreciation for human sinfulness—which Niebuhr drew from his Christian faith—helps us guard against unchecked power in government. But an appreciation for human potential—drawn from the Biblical notion that human beings are made in the image of God—should also lead us to value human freedom. As Niebuhr famously put it in his foreword, “Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.” Importantly, Niebuhr grounded democracy’s necessity in the nature of mankind, without qualification, not in cultural or social factors unique to the West. What is true about human nature in the West is also true of human nature in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Niebuhr then suggests—contrary to the realists who want to appropriate him—that the goodness of democracy should lead us, by love of our neighbor, to make its spread a part of our foreign policy. Niebuhr’s well-known complaint against Wilsonianism wasn’t that it was idealistic, but that it was naive. In Children of Light and the Children of Darkness he applauds the idealism of democracy, even as he understands that it will inevitably be hypocritical: “Hypocrisy and pretension are the inevitable concomitants of the engagement between morals and politics. But they do not arise where no effort is made to bring the power impulse of politics under the control of conscience.” The effort itself is sound in principle; better to be a failed idealist than a successful cynic.

This is the part of Niebuhr that today’s realists fail to hear.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

February 27, 2015 at 8:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Cathy Keaton’s health insurance premium will jump nearly $400 each month if the U.S. Supreme Court rules that she’s ineligible for a federal subsidy to lower the price she pays.

The 63-year-old part-time College of Charleston student said she couldn’t afford coverage without the substantial discount she receives.

“It’s very scary for me,” Keaton said. “If I lose this, it means that I will have to make some really hard decisions until I can get Medicare.”

She’s not alone. Insurance premiums for thousands of HealthCare.gov customers in South Carolina could increase by 400 percent if the U.S. Supreme Court rules that they’re ineligible for subsidies this summer.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal Finance* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

February 27, 2015 at 7:30 am - 1 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A student group in South Africa this month called on all Jews to leave the Durban University of Technology, an act of anti-Semitism that Americans could not imagine on their own college campuses.

But a comprehensive survey of anti-Semitism at American colleges released this week shows that significant hostility is directed at Jews on U.S. campuses, too.

The National Demographic Survey of American Jewish College Students, produced by a Trinity College team well-known for its research on religious groups, found that 54 percent of Jewish students experienced anti-Semitism on campus in the first six months of the 2013-2014 academic year.

Professors Barry A. Kosmin and Ariela Keysar asked 1,157 students in an online questionnaire about the types, context and location of anti-Semitism they had encountered, and found that anti-Jewish bias is a problem for Jews of all levels of religious observance.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationReligion & CultureYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* Theology

February 27, 2015 at 7:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

New every morning is the love
our wakening and uprising prove;
through sleep and darkness safely brought,
restored to life and power and thought.

John Keble (1792-1866)

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchPoetry & Literature

February 27, 2015 at 6:30 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For months he taunted, knife in hand, his voice slightly muffled behind the mask that became the grim symbol of Islamic State barbarism.

But when the identity of the killer known as “Jihadi John” was revealed Thursday, the profile that emerged was disturbingly familiar: a young man whose parents’ decision to immigrate to the West afforded him a comfortable life and an education, but who ultimately found identity and succor in extremist ideology.

His name is Mohammed Emwazi. And despite friends’ descriptions of a polite and quiet man not capable of violence, Emwazi’s links to extremist groups appear to have been long-standing, and he was well known to counterterrorism officials in London before he went to Syria.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

February 27, 2015 at 6:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What do you see as trends in seminaries regarding discernment of vocation?

I see an increasing focus on the pastor as a person—an increasing awareness of the importance of self-care and of developing strong spiritual disciplines. It used to be that seminary was a time when people’s spiritual discipline waned and their academic discipline increased. Now many seminaries emphasize integrating the spiritual, reflective process with the academic, which I think is all to the good.

We often talk about burnout as a problem among clergy. How do you understand that term?

When we see pastors who are experiencing burnout, sometimes it is simply because they are working too hard. But more often they are doing a lot of things that are not central to their sense of call. When people are working close to their sense of call and purpose and meaning, they can work really hard without feeling burned out. But when they are doing a lot of things that people are telling them should be done or that feel urgent but aren’t close to the heart, that is a strong indicator of burnout.

It’s been said that most pastors are a “quivering mass of availability,” eager to please everybody. That is a path to destruction.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

February 27, 2015 at 5:45 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As usual your editorial on casino gambling reflects the past and current thinking in South Carolina that we must never move into the 21st century. The attitude of our politicians to keep South Carolina as backward as they can is bad enough. But for The Post and Courier to espouse the same old argument that any form of gambling is going to target the poor and irresponsible is just thinking from the past.

Are we to ignore the reality that if someone wants to gamble he will find a way, no matter the cost or any other obstacle? If you don’t believe that, go to any convenience store and observe who is buying all of those lottery tickets.

Wouldn’t it be something for visitors to Charleston to ride down I-26 through the neck area and see large casinos with hotels and theme park environments rather than the blighted area it now is?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGamblingPoverty* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

February 27, 2015 at 5:31 am - 3 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As reported in [a recent] ...Post and Courier, House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, D-Richland, wants to let voters decide, via statewide referendum, whether to legalize casino gambling.

Rep. Rutherford made his case this way last month: “If you have casinos on the coast and dedicate them as a funding source on our roads, you have something that goes into fixing a problem.”

But if you have casinos on the coast you also have other problems, including a notoriously unreliable source of funding from a cruel tax of sorts imposed to a significant degree on the poor, the gullible, and compulsive gamblers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGamblingPoverty* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

February 27, 2015 at 5:15 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A vision to create "one of the most significant interfaith centres in the world" in the City of London was unveiled on Wednesday night at the launch of a £20-million fund-raising appeal.

The planned centre, Coexist House, is the idea of Dr David Ford, Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Cambridge; and is supported by the Inner Temple, the Corporation of the City of London, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Coexist Foundation.

"Coexist House is designed as much for a secular audience as a religious audience and will not promote any one particular faith," the trustees say in a summary of their feasibility study. "It is a civic endeavour which would improve the way people understand religions and beliefs in all their variety. Nevertheless, it will offer a spiritual space, hospitable to all, in the heart of London."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith Relations* Theology

February 27, 2015 at 5:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Regarding the latest legal victory, [Canon Jim] Lewis told CP that he expects the legal action to continue, as The Episcopal Church will likely appeal the Goodstein decision.

"While it is unfortunate that ministry resources on both sides will continue to be wasted in this fashion, it is entirely in keeping with TEC legal strategy," said Lewis, who drew parallels to a similar property case that took place in Illinois between The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Quincy.

"The court sanctions imposed against TEC in Illinois last week are the perfect illustration of the lengths to which their leadership is prepared to go in pursuit of its scorched earth policy. We have no reason to expect different behavior here in South Carolina."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: South Carolina* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

February 27, 2015 at 4:40 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almighty and everlasting God, who for the well-being of our earthly life hast put into our hearts wholesome desires of body and spirit: Mercifully increase and establish in us, we beseech thee, the grace of holy discipline and healthy self-control; that we may fulfill our desires by the means which thou hast appointed, and for the ends thou ordainest; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsLentSpirituality/Prayer

February 27, 2015 at 4:19 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

--Hebrews 4:12-13

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

February 27, 2015 at 4:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two notable differences in family life in the United States have emerged in the past 60 years: average, middle-class families aren’t economically flourishing and there are fewer traditional family units than ever before. Lerman, now a professor of economics at American University and a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, says these two factors are linked. Changes in family structures have sabotaged the financial confidence of middle-class Americans and led to the decline of working-class men in the labor market, say Lerman and Bradford Wilcox in their 2014 paper for the American Enterprise Institute, “For richer, for poorer: How family structures economic success in America.”

The erosion of the intact family — as defined by Lerman and Wilcox as a retreat in marriage, an increase in cohabitation and out-of-wedlock births, a prevalence of single-parent homes, and a rise in step-families — has affected the economic outcomes of children and thus led to further income inequality between American families.

“Young men and women from intact families enjoy an annual ‘intact-family premium’ that amounts to $6,500 and $4,700, respectively, over the incomes of their peers from single-parent families,” wrote Lerman and Wilcox. “Men and women who are currently married and were raised in an intact family enjoy an annual 'family premium' in their household incomes that exceeds that of their unmarried peers who were not raised in intact families by at least $42,000.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinancePolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

February 26, 2015 at 6:08 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

New data shows America's use of opioids hasn't declined.

New federal data released Wednesday reveals the state of America’s pain killer use.

According to the numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the percentage of adults age 20 and over using prescription pain killers remains significantly higher than in the past, with people also taking stronger painkillers than before. Between 2011–2012, nearly 7% of adults reported using a prescription opioid analgesic in the past 30 days, compared to 5% in 2003-2006.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & Medicine* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

February 26, 2015 at 11:31 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Austria’s Parliament passed a law Wednesday (Feb. 25) that seeks to regulate how Islam is administered, singling out its large Muslim minority for treatment not applied to any other religious group.

The “Law on Islam” bans foreign funding for Islamic organizations and requires any group claiming to represent Austrian Muslims to submit and use a standardized German translation of the Quran.

The law met with little opposition from the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic population, was backed by Austria’s Catholic bishops, and was grudgingly accepted by the main Muslim organization. But it upset Turkey’s state religious establishment.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeAustria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

February 26, 2015 at 11:08 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This year’s survey works from a baseline of 1900 A.D., and makes projections out to 2050. Within that century and a half there’s some good news about the global human condition that ought to be kept in mind when remembering the bad news of the 20th century and the early 21st. For example: in 1900, 27.6 percent of adults in a world population of 1.6 billion were literate. In 2015, 81 percent of the adults in a global population of 7.3 billion are literate, and the projection is that, by 2050, 88 percent of the adults in a world of 9.5 billion people will be literate—a remarkable accomplishment.

Of the 7.3 billion human beings on Planet Earth today, 89 percent are religious believers, while 1.8 percent are professed atheists and another 9 percent are agnostics: which suggests that Chief Poobah of the New Atheists Richard Dawkins and his friends are not exactly winning the day, although their “market share” is up from 1900.

There were some 267 million Catholics in the world in 1900; today, the world Church counts 1.2 billion members, with a projected growth to 1.6 billion by the middle of the century. Yet in the last quarter of the 20th century Catholicism was displaced by Islam as the world’s largest religious community, as the global Muslim population grew from 571 million in 1970 to today’s 1.7 billion.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryReligion & CultureSociology

February 26, 2015 at 9:28 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

The head of a Wiltshire-based Christian charity has been found guilty of sexually assaulting a female member of staff.

Patrick Sookhdeo, from the Pewsey-based Barnabas Fund, was also found to have intimidated two employees who were due to give evidence against him.

The jury at Swindon Crown Court found the 67-year-old guilty on all counts.

Read it all and there is a report from the Western Daily Press

Filed under: * Religion News & Commentary

February 26, 2015 at 8:05 am - 4 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At any given time, around 7,000 aircraft are flying over the United States. For the past 40 years, the same computer system has controlled all that high-altitude traffic—a relic of the 1970s known as Host. The core system predates the advent of the Global Positioning System, so Host uses point-to-point, ground-based radar. Every day, thousands of travelers switch their GPS-enabled smartphones to airplane mode while their flights are guided by technology that predates the Speak & Spell. If you're reading this at 30,000 feet, relax—Host is still safe, in terms of getting planes from point A to point B. But it's unbelievably inefficient. It can handle a limited amount of traffic, and controllers can't see anything outside of their own airspace—when they hand off a plane to a contiguous airspace, it vanishes from their radar.

The FAA knows all that. For 11 years the agency has been limping toward a collection of upgrades called NextGen. At its core is a new computer system that will replace Host and allow any controller, anywhere, to see any plane in US airspace. In theory, this would enable one air traffic control center to take over for another with the flip of a switch, as Howard seemed to believe was already possible. NextGen isn't vaporware; that core system was live in Chicago and the four adjacent centers when Howard attacked, and this spring it'll go online in all 20 US centers. But implementation has been a mess, with a cascade of delays, revisions, and unforeseen problems. Air traffic control can't do anything as sophisticated as Howard thought, and unless something changes about the way the FAA is managing NextGen, it probably never will.

This technology is complicated and novel, but that isn't the problem. The problem is that NextGen is a project of the FAA.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & TechnologyTravel* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

February 26, 2015 at 8:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Only 20 percent of disabled people work, compared to 68 percent of those who aren't disabled, according to September 2014 numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

[Valeria] Jensen saved the playhouse from demolition and founded the four-theater commercial movie house, a nonprofit, in historic Ridgefield. Most of the more than 80 theater employees are disabled. But they weren't there just because they have a disability, Jensen said.

"They're here because they are a really, really valuable employee," she said.

"We are 'The Prospector' after all," she noted. "And as prospectors I work with my prospects to find out what their sparkle is."

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchCharities/Non-Profit OrganizationsHealth & MedicineMovies & TelevisionRural/Town Life* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

February 26, 2015 at 7:30 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Is a robot uprising coming in 2015?

Maybe – but only to show you up at the arcade.

Led by researchers Demis Hassabis and Volodymyr Mnih, Google-owned DeepMind Technologies has created an artificial intelligence capable of playing simple video games with minimal training. They described their breakthrough today in Nature.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

February 26, 2015 at 7:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An interim government would be “alien to the constitution” says Mohammed Bello Adoke, the attorney-general. Mr Jonathan told the FT such a government could only emerge from a military coup. However, he could theoretically push back the polls and extend his tenure on a rolling six month basis by declaring the nation at war with Boko Haram insurgents. This would require the — unlikely — endorsement of two-thirds of the National Assembly. Alternatively if for whatever reason no winner emerges by May 29, the senate president, former army colonel David Mark, would stand in with 60 days to organise elections.

The fear is that without popular legitimacy, any government — military or civilian — will struggle to repair the fissures that will appear should Gen Buhari’s followers in the north believe him to have been cheated of victory. The same applies to a lesser degree to Mr Jonathan’s supporters, with former warlords in the oil-producing Niger delta threatening to take up arms again should he be bullied out of office. In such a febrile environment, there is a risk of ethnic killing especially in the north — as happened in 1965 in the run up to the Biafran civil war.

Nigeria has withdrawn from the brink on a number of occasions since. This time the army, potentially divided and already pinned down by Boko Haram, might have difficulty containing violence across many fronts, and the country’s future as one nation would be at stake. “These next five weeks are among the most dangerous in Nigeria’s history,” says Nasir el-Rufai, a former government minister contesting the Kaduna state governorship.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

February 26, 2015 at 6:15 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many times we are working with church structures of a different time. I have seen churches with 50 people attending on Sunday morning, and they maintain 12 committees.

There may have been a lot of retirees in the church, so we have committees who meet in the day.

Or there might have been a lot of people without children, so everyone meets at night—on a different night, to ensure that the pastor is at every meeting.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the OrdainedPastoral Care* Culture-WatchPsychology* TheologyEschatologyEthics / Moral Theology

February 26, 2015 at 6:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Given that the connection of Islam to Muslim-majority cultures is particularly strong, does there not need to be, nevertheless, a proper distinction between religion and culture? Should not this be so, even if many cultural practices and values are derived from a particular religious tradition? The problem with identifying culture entirely with religion is that contextualization can begin to look very much like capitulation. The issue becomes sharply focused in the debate about “insiders,” or followers of Jesus within Muslim communities who maintain their Muslim identity. To what extent has there been conversion if people continue to participate in the salat (ritual prayer), make the shahada (the Muslim profession of faith), derive their knowledge of Jesus and devotion to him mainly from the Qur’an and the Hadith, and so on? Other questions concern the relation of communities of such followers (if they are in communities) to other local churches and the worldwide church. Also, how are persons and cultures to be transformed by the Gospel if the status quo ante is largely maintained? There remain serious questions about whether such communities or persons will be allowed to survive within the Dar al-Islam (House of Islam).

We must remember that evangelists and missionaries stand within the apostolic tradition and are not semidetached from it or outside it altogether. This means, for instance, not making up elements of contextualization but using the rich and varied sources of Christian tradition—for example, in patterns of worship, liturgy, the public reading of the Scriptures, and forms of private devotion. In Islamic contexts, we are particularly fortunate that so much has been taken from Eastern Christian traditions and can be reappropriated without violence to the integrity of the Gospel. The problem sometimes is that Western Christian missionaries, and even Westernized indigenous Christians, are unaware of this rich heritage waiting on their doorstep or are suspicious of it. In some places, Islam is an import into an existing Christian culture; elsewhere, both Christianity and Islam have come from outside. Whatever the case, rich resources for inculturation are available because of the historic interaction between Muslims and Christians. Let us use them!

The book represents a brave attempt at assessing the many opportunities and problems for Christian witness in Muslim contexts. I hope it is only the beginning and that some of the issues raised in this review essay will be tackled at the next conference and in any publications that result from it.

Read it all (requires free registration).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeMissionsParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

February 26, 2015 at 5:40 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* General InterestPhotos/Photography

February 26, 2015 at 5:20 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Three men from Brooklyn have been arrested and charged with trying to help the Islamic State, according to a criminal complaint unsealed in federal court on Wednesday.

They had also discussed harming President Obama and carrying out attacks in the United States if they were unable to travel overseas. One of the three men was arrested while trying to fly to Turkey, where authorities say he planned to head to the border with Syria to meet with representatives from the Islamic State. Another of the men planned to follow him there next month, while the third man was helping finance some of these travel efforts.

These are the latest in a string of similar arrests, episodes that have highlighted the concerns of federal officials who have publicly worried that young people in the United States could be lured to join the militant group in Syria.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyViolenceYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

February 26, 2015 at 5:15 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“When I got into the field, the notion that you could actually do something about the aging process was viewed as a crackpot idea,” says Richard Miller, director of the Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging at the University of Michigan. “The argument that one can slow aging, and diseases of aging along with it, used to be fantasy, but now we see it like a scientific strategy.”

Nobody is talking about living forever. But as these experts see it, aging is the single most powerful factor in the diseases that are most likely to cut our lives short: cancer, heart problems, immune disorders and degenerative brain conditions like Alzheimer’s. “Everybody knows that the main risk factors for heart disease are high cholesterol, obesity and high blood pressure,” says Dr. Felipe Sierra, director of the division of aging biology at the National Institute on Aging (NIA). “But even stronger than those factors is just being 70 years old.”

And that’s why staving off aging–or at least slowing it–has become such a central focus of research. “We’re going at aging itself,” says David Sinclair, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School. “We might take someone who is showing signs of aging and be able to do something about it, to treat that as a disease. That’s something I didn’t expect to be seeing in my lifetime.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineHistoryPsychologyScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

February 26, 2015 at 5:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last month, the speaker of the Russian parliament solemnly instructed his foreign affairs committee to launch a historical investigation: was West Germany’s ‘annexation’ of East Germany really legal? Should it be condemned? Ought it to be reversed? Last week, the Russian foreign minister, speaking at a security conference in Munich, hinted that he might have similar doubts. ‘Germany’s reunification was conducted without any referendum,’ he declared, ominously.

At this, the normally staid audience burst out laughing. The Germans in the room found the Russian statements particularly hilarious. Undo German unification? Why, that would require undoing the whole post-Cold War settlement!

Which is indeed a very amusing notion — unless you think that this is exactly what the Russian speaker, the Russian foreign minister, and indeed the Russian President, a man who once called the collapse of the Soviet Union ‘the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century’, are in fact trying to achieve.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeRussiaUkraine* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

February 26, 2015 at 4:40 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almighty and eternal God, who has so made us of body, soul and spirit, that we live not by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth from thee: Make us to hunger for the spiritual food of thy Word; and as we trust thee for our daily bread, may we also trust thee to give us day by day the inward nourishment of that living truth which thou hast revealed to us in thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsLentSpirituality/Prayer

February 26, 2015 at 4:19 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

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