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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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The notion that Facebook and other social networks will suffer most deeply when the bubble bursts sounds plausible because it rehashes the last tech boom and bust, when advertising revenue run-ups at huge web portals (remember those?) turned out to be funded mainly by venture capital investments. In 2001, revenue at Yahoo — the largest portal, and something like the Facebook of its time — plummeted by almost $400 million when start-ups stopped spending during the bust. Yahoo has never recovered its former glory. Could Facebook face the same fate?
Probably not — or not yet, at least. On closer inspection, the theory that Facebook’s growth depends on unsustainable venture capital is mostly overblown, another strain of Facebook Second Guessing Syndrome. It’s a story that misses important facts about Facebook’s advertising business. For one thing, as Facebook’s executives have repeatedly pointed out, ads from app companies make up a small percentage of the company’s overall business. Most of the social network’s revenue comes from video ads and ads for large brands.
Continue reading the main story
The theory also misses two other points. Not all these ads are coming from unproved start-ups. And the ads are set to be adopted more widely because they actually work.
According to several app makers and observers of the industry, the ads are tremendously effective at leading paying customers to new apps. It’s the effort to reach these paying customers — and not venture funding — that is often the reason for all the money pouring into ads for apps.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Media Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
...the trickle of volunteers has come from across the country. On Tuesday, a 47-year-old Air Force veteran with a checkered work history was charged in Brooklyn with trying to join the Islamic State. Two weeks earlier, a computer-savvy 17-year-old boy in Virginia was charged with helping a man a few years older make contact with the terrorist group and get to Syria.
The cases raise a pressing question: Is the slick online propaganda that ISIS has mastered enough to lure recruits, or is face-to-face persuasion needed? A federal grand jury in Minneapolis is investigating whether an Islamic State recruiter gave Mr. Nur and Mr. Yusuf cash to buy plane tickets.
“No young person gets up one day and says, ‘I’m going to join ISIS,’ ” said Abdirizak Bihi, 50, a Somali activist who has worked against radicalization since his nephew left Minnesota in 2008 and was killed fighting for the Shabab.
“There has to be someone on the ground to listen to your problems and channel your anger,” Mr. Bihi said. “Online is like graduate studies.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Globalization Religion & Culture Violence Young Adults * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary Middle East * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Jonathan Haber majored in philosophy at Harvard University. And Yale. And Stanford. He explored Kant’s “The Critique of Pure Reason” with an Oxford don and Kierkegaard’s insights into “Subjectivity, Irony and the Crisis of Modernity” with a leading light from the University of Copenhagen.
In his quest to meet all the standard requirements for a bachelor of arts degree in a single year, the 52-year-old from Lexington, Mass., also took courses in English common law, Shakespeare’s late plays and the science of cooking, which overlapped with the degree in chemistry he earned from Wesleyan in 1985.
Here’s the brilliant part: Mr. Haber didn’t spend a dime on tuition or fees. Instead, he gorged from the smorgasbord of free courses offered by top universities. He documented the project on his website, degreeoffreedom.org, and in a new book exploring the wider phenomenon of massive open online courses, or MOOCs. He didn’t earn a degree — the knowledge may be free but the sheepskin costs dearly — but he was satisfied.
Read it all.
Saudi Arabia defended its human rights record on Saturday in its first public reaction to international criticism over last year's sentencing of liberal Saudi blogger Raif Badawi to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for "insulting Islam".
The first 50 of Badawi's lashes were carried out in January, prompting strong criticism of the kingdom's rights record in Western countries, including its laws on political and religious expression and the status of Saudi women.
"Saudi Arabia expresses its intense surprise and dismay at what is being reported by some media about the case of citizen Raif Badawi and his sentence," said a statement carried on state media and attributed to an unnamed "foreign ministry official".
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Globalization Law & Legal Issues Media Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Of the many new words that bubbled up from our technological culture in 2014, perhaps the most unsettling is doxxing.
Typically carried out by anonymous online users with axes to grind and little to lose, doxxing involves making someone’s private information public. That includes home addresses, phone numbers, financial histories, medical records—anything that can be found in the endless databases available to canny hackers.
Doxxing can be a drive-by prank on most anyone who draws attention. But more often its targets are singled out for humiliation. In a series of events last year that came to be called GamerGate, certain active video gamers targeted journalists, mostly women, who had criticized the outright misogyny found in many popular video games. The backlash began with the bilious insults that have become astonishingly common online. But it quickly escalated to “revenge blogs” purporting to reveal those journalists’ past indiscretions, and doxxing attacks.
Doxxing is extreme and rare. But it marks the limit of a trend that affects every one of us: aspects of our lives that were once private and fleeting can now be publicly, and permanently, exposed.
Read it all.
In a country recently transfixed by the trial of a famous politician that revealed details of his orgy escapades, and where the president was found to be cheating on his live-in partner, an ad promoting extramarital affairs might not seem like such a big deal.
But even in famously libertine France, the latest advertising campaign — evoking the temptations of Eve with a partly eaten apple — for a dating website geared to married women looking for affairs has spawned a backlash and a national debate.
The ads for the dating website Gleeden, which bills itself as “the premier site for extramarital affairs designed by women,” were recently splashed on the backs of buses in several French cities. Seven cities decided to withdraw the ads, and opponents have mobilized against them on social media, providing the latest example of a prominent cultural divide in France about the lines between public morality, private sexual conduct and the country’s vaunted freedom of expression.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * International News & Commentary Europe France * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Much has changed in the world since 2000, and few can deny that many of those changes have been facilitated by technology.
The Internet, in particular—both how much we use it and what we use it for—has dramatically altered the way people live their lives, do their work and engage in their relationships. Pastors are no exception: In the past 15 years, church leaders have significantly increased their use of the Internet and have, by and large, come to accept it as an essential tool for ministry in the 21st century.
In a recent study of U.S. Protestant church leaders, Barna Group looked at pastors’ use of the Internet and their attitudes toward it today compared to 15 years ago, at the turn of the century.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The bishop was not amused.
Not with the video of one of his priests — complete with clerical collar — advocating gratitude for marijuana.
"Now, thanking God for weed might feel a little awkward at first," says the Rev. Chris Schuller — a former rector at St. Thomas' Episcopal Church in the Snell Isle neighborhood — in the short video that's punctuated with the reggae rhythms of Bob Marley.
"Thanking God is going to feel so much better than throwing stones at people who are already stoned," he says.
Read it all from the Tampa Bay Times.
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Drugs/Drug Addiction * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The real point is that the economic landscape in which we are operating is not only competitive; it is changing constantly. This year, our industry reached an important milestone. For the first time, people are spending more time on mobile devices than on their desktop computers. Time spent on desktops has now fallen to just 40%. And people use mobile devices very differently from the way they use desktops. Seven out of every eight minutes spent on a mobile phone is spent within an app, and the most popular app in the world is Facebook.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Globalization Law & Legal Issues Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Foreign Relations Politics in General * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
These days Persson pays less attention to the heckling on Twitter and more to the insults hurled his way by close friends on a WhatsApp group they’ve crudely titled Farts. The unleashed Persson has regressed toward adolescence. At the temporary office for Rubberbrain, jokes about male genitalia and laughter bounce off the ceiling and elicit annoyed floor banging from the upstairs neighbor.
Persson ignores the foot-thumped berating much like he’s done with the armchair trolls. He says he’s taken fondly to the mute button on Twitter, which allows him to tune out unkind people without notifying them that they’ve been blocked. Occasionally, though, his curiosity will get the best of him, and he’ll reply. Lately he’s been responding to his haters with a moving image from the movie Zombieland of Woody Harrelson wiping tears away with a wad of money. “I’m aware that tweeting the image is a little douchey,” he shrugs. He’s equally gauche with people he likes, broadcasting his vacations via chartered jet on Snapchat. As for girls, “I tried to use Tinder, it didn’t work. In Sweden it’s horrible; there’s only like four people.” Hence the $180,000 nightclub bills.
“I’m a little bit making up for lost time when I was just programming through my twenties,” he says. “Partying is not a sane way to spend money, but it’s fun. When we were young we did not have a lot of money at all, so I thought, if I ever get rich I’m not going to become one of those boring rich people that doesn’t spend money.”
Right now he’s spending on the permanent office for his new company–a teenage boy’s fantasy that will include a full-service bar, a DJ booth (he’s learning how to spin) and secret rooms hidden by bookshelves–despite the fact that Rubberbrain is nothing more than a name waiting for an idea.
Little inspiration seems imminent.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Psychology Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Personal Finance * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Remember that the more specific you can be, the more the rest of us will get from your comments--KSH.
Recently, the General Board of Church and Society in Washington D.C. has done a pretty good job – of keeping a low profile and not making the kinds of radical statements that have baffled and bothered traditional United Methodists for decades. But all that changed when one of the Board’s senior staffers, Dr. Bill Mefford, posted a picture of himself on Twitter as a spectator to the March for Life this January in Washington D.C. As sincere persons of faith marched for the unborn , Mefford greeted them with a large sign, stating, “I March for Sandwiches.”
Mefford serves as the board’s “Director of Civil and Human Rights.” While others were marching to protect the most basic human right – the right to life – our United Methodist champion for human rights seemed to be more concerned about his next ham on rye....
You have to wonder how Mr. Mefford would have reacted to someone holding a similar placard at a pro-immigration, anti-gun or climate change march whose defense was nothing more than, “I just wanted to make people laugh.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Religion & Culture * General Interest Humor / Trivia * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Methodist * Theology
In the wake of the Sony Pictures hack, the cybersecurity firm FireEye demonstrated that the sort of breach that Sony experienced is not likely preventable with conventional network defenses.
Instead, the firm noted that “organizations must consider a new approach to securing their IT assets ... [they] can’t afford to passively wait for attacks. Instead, they should take a lean-forward approach that actively hunts for new and unseen threats.”
But what constitutes a "lean-forward" approach to cybersecurity, and why are more organizations not already taking one?
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Globalization Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Economy Corporations/Corporate Life * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Read it all.
...propagandists for jihad describe life under IS and wartime domesticity. Ms Mahmood gloats about microwaves and milkshake machines seized from non-believers. But they also express the pain of leaving families and the feeling of being very foreign in the Middle East. In a series called “Life of a Muhajirah [emigrant]”, a pregnant woman posts a picture of her ultrasound and worries that her husband will be become a shahid (martyr), though she accepts that this may be God’s will.
By establishing a caliphate, IS, unlike previous jihadist groups, is attempting to build a state. That has opened up roles for women. Fighting, though, is off-limits. “Women in the Islamic State”, a document published in January by an all-female unit of IS known as the al-Khansaa Brigade (translated into English by the Quilliam Foundation, a counter-extremism think-tank in London), explains that women should be mothers and homemakers, while men are by nature restless; “if the roles are mixed the basis of humanity is thrown into a state of flux and instability.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Globalization Religion & Culture Violence Women * Economics, Politics Terrorism * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Bangladeshis on Sunday paid tribute to an American critic of religious extremism killed in Dhaka, in the latest of a series of attacks on writers who support free thinking values in the Muslim-majority nation.
Avijit Roy, a US citizen of Bangladeshi origin, was hacked to death by machete-wielding assailants on Thursday after a book fair, sparking widespread condemnation from home and abroad.
His wife and fellow blogger Rafida Ahmed suffered head injuries and lost a finger and remains in hospital in a serious condition. The attack comes amid a crackdown on hardline Islamist groups, which have increased activities in recent years in the South Asian nation of 160 million people. No arrest has been made.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Religion & Culture Violence * International News & Commentary Asia Bangladesh
A prominent U.S. blogger, known for his writing against religious fundamentalism, has been hacked to death by unidentified attackers in Bangladesh's capital, police said Friday.
The attack on Avijit Roy, a Bangladesh-born U.S. citizen, took place late Thursday when he and his wife Rafida Ahmed, who was seriously injured in the attack, were returning from a book fair at Dhaka University.
It was not known who was behind the attack, but Roy's family and friends say he was a prominent voice against religious fanatics and received threats in the past. No groups have claimed the responsibility.
The local police chief, Sirajul Islam, told The Associated Press that the assailants used cleavers to attack Roy and his wife, who is also a blogger.
Read it all.
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.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Globalization Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture Science & Technology Violence Young Adults * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary Middle East Syria
I only managed 7/12--see how you do.
Much fodder for the soul here--check it out.
Traditional or conservative Episcopalians living in my part of South Carolina sometimes feel cut off from their brothers in the lower half of the state. News of what our friends are up to is never, I repeat never discussed except perhaps in mocking terms overheard at coffee hour. The last time I heard a high ranking clergy person in Upper South Carolina try to say anything nice about the "lower diocese" it was with a slightly derogatory tone, "I'm from there, but I can't work there."
Unless an Episcopalian reads the blogs, they will remain clueless.
Whatever happened to the idea of engaging in a listening process, or to the idea of sitting down with someone and learning more about them? Isn't that what we have been told to do when faced with people holding different views on human sexuality and how it relates to the Church?
I guess the listening process is unidirectional.
As proof, I offer the following evidence: Each year, lay people, priests, bishops, and archbishops gather in Charleston South Carolina for a conference that goes by the benign sounding name of "Mere Anglicanism." These conferences offer lectures featuring guest speakers from around the world on topics which should be of interest to all concerned Anglicans, and I include all concerned Episcopalians in that group....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Media Religion & Culture * South Carolina * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
What’s at stake: Andrew Sullivan’s decision to shut down his blog has sparkled a conversation about the future of blogging. While most authors recognize that the conversational nature of blogs has decreased over the years, there is less agreement on the fundamental cause behind this trend and what this means for the future of blogging.
Read it all.
Citizens of Bangor, Maine, lament the constant mispronunciation of their hometown in a musical parody of "We Are the World."
Watch it all.
I would be the only person she spoke to on the record about what happened to her, she said. It was just too harrowing — and “as a publicist,” inadvisable — but she felt it was necessary, to show how “crazy” her situation was, how her punishment simply didn’t fit the crime.
“I cried out my body weight in the first 24 hours,” she told me. “It was incredibly traumatic. You don’t sleep. You wake up in the middle of the night forgetting where you are.” She released an apology statement and cut short her vacation. Workers were threatening to strike at the hotels she had booked if she showed up. She was told no one could guarantee her safety.
Her extended family in South Africa were African National Congress supporters — the party of Nelson Mandela. They were longtime activists for racial equality. When Justine arrived at the family home from the airport, one of the first things her aunt said to her was: “This is not what our family stands for. And now, by association, you’ve almost tarnished the family.”
As she told me this, Sacco started to cry. I sat looking at her for a moment. Then I tried to improve the mood. I told her that “sometimes, things need to reach a brutal nadir before people see sense.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Globalization History Psychology * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Archbishop of Canterbury said he was “often deeply embarrassed” by some failings of the Church of England in tackling anti-Semitism,
Justin Welby said people should be shocked by the rise in anti-Semitism and described it as “blasphemy”, as he hosted the launch of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Anti-Semitism at Lambeth Palace.
The Archbishop said the spike in anti-Semitic incidents in the UK and the Paris terror attack on a Jewish supermarket had made the report more timely. “The need for increased police patrolling of Jewish neighbourhoods in response to security concerns was a “peculiar and remarkable obscenity when we are in the midst of commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz”, he said.
The problem of anti-Semitism was “deeply embedded in our history and the culture of Western Europe”, the Archbishop acknowledged as he praised the all-party group for highlighting “the stark reality of rising anti-Semitism in this country and the key responses necessary to counter it”.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Faiths Judaism * Theology
"The Diocese of Guildford has taken extremely seriously the reports and complaints regarding Stephen Sizer over the past two weeks. Concerns surrounding Stephen were raised both in response to allegedly offensive materials linked from his Facebook account, and to comments he made to the Jewish News and the Daily Telegraph thereafter.
"Commenting on this matter, the Council of Christians and Jews has helpfully highlighted that:
‘It is perfectly possible to criticize Israeli policies without such criticism being anti-Semitic, and Christians and others should feel free to do so. However, such legitimate criticism must not be used as a cloak for anti-Semitism, nor can anti-Semitism itself ever be disguised as mere political comment’.
"Having now met Stephen, in my brand new role as Bishop of Guildford, I do not believe that his motives are anti-Semitic; but I have concluded that, at the very least, he has demonstrated appallingly poor judgment in the material he has chosen to disseminate, particularly via social media, some of which is clearly anti-Semitic.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Middle East Israel * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Judaism * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Check it out and see what you think.
Watch it all-just so well done.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Media Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * General Interest Animals
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo is taking personal responsibility for his platform's chronic problems with harassment and abuse, telling employees that he is embarrassed for the company's failures and would soon be taking stronger action to eliminate trolls. He said problems with trolls are driving away the company's users. "We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we've sucked at it for years," Costolo wrote in an internal memo obtained by The Verge. "It's no secret and the rest of the world talks about it every day. We lose core user after core user by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day.
Costolo's comments came in response to a question on an internal forum about a recent story by Lindy West, a frequent target of harassment on Twitter. Among other things, West's tormentors created a Twitter account for her then recently deceased father and made cruel comments about her on the service; West recently shared her story on This American Life and The Guardian.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Law & Legal Issues Media Psychology Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
With the rise of Tinder, mobile digital dating has become a whole new trend. With this, a slew of mobile dating apps and copycats have rushed to fill the niche.
Online dating is not really something new. Sites like eHarmony and OkCupid have long dominated the market. These sites required users to create elaborate online profiles and used algorithms to suggest matches. All this accoutrements, however, have been transformed by the simplicity of Tinder, reports the New York Times.
The app, available for iOS and Android, enables users to scan potential dates based on photos, distance and a short description. To express interest in a potential date, users just swipe right. It is also a cinch to set up, as it uses one's already established Facebook account.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Men Psychology Science & Technology Women Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
"Who's influenced you the most in your life?" "My principal, Ms. Lopez." "How has she influenced you?" "When we get in trouble, she doesn't suspend us. She calls us to her office and explains to us how society was built down around us. And she tells us that each time somebody fails out of school, a new jail cell gets built. And one time she made every student stand up, one at a time, and she told each one of us that we matter." - Vidal Chastanet
When Chastanet, a 13-year-old from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Brownsville, shared his story in late January with a street photographer who has a popular blog on Facebook, little did he know it would generate a million-dollar fundraising campaign to help his middle school offer inspiring programs to its pupils.
After Brandon Stanton featured Chastanet on his photoblog, "Humans Of New York," the photographer wanted to know more and asked to meet Nadia Lopez, Chastanet's principal at Mott Hill Bridges Academy.
From their meeting, Stanton began profiling the school, its students and staff as he raised funds online to provide a financial boost to the academy's mission. That included helping Lopez fulfill a dream of bringing her students to Harvard.
Read (or better watch) it all from NBC.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Children Education * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
Declarations of outrage swept the Middle East on Wednesday as a region already steeled to the brutality of the Islamic State expressed horror at the group’s killing of a Jordanian pilot by setting him on fire.
The region’s leaders have denounced the militant group on many occasions in the past, but the spectacle of an Arab pilot being burned alive in a cage triggered some of the harshest reactions yet.
Images of the grisly killing of Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh were broadcast on TV channels around the region, and the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat headlined its coverage with a single word: “Barbarity.”
“This killing really strikes at home for audiences across the region. Most of the people executed by [the Islamic State] have been foreigners, but this time it was an Arab-Muslim man,” said Labib Kamhawi, a political analyst based in the Jordanian capital, Amman. “That has had a bigger impact on people.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Media Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary Middle East * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The collected works of Jonathan Edwards, the 18th-century preacher and one of America’s most famous theologians, are now available for download thanks to Logos Bible Software. But for those who don’t want to cough up $1,289.95 to purchase them, there’s good news: The Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale Divinity School lets you view them online for free.
The colonial preacher was instrumental in America’s Great Awakening and is known for fiery sermons such as “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” The 26-volume collection, “The Works of Jonathan Edwards,” comprises more than 10,000 sermons, articles and letters that were indexed from 1953 to 2008.
“Edwards is widely recognized as one of the most important American thinkers and religious figures and as a major figure in the history of Christian thought,” said Kenneth Minkema, executive director of Yale’s Jonathan Edwards Center. “Publication of his works is important for providing resources for those, such as students, who wish to learn for the first time about his influences, thought and legacies.”
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet History Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Seminary / Theological Education
It’s not an event unless it’s on video.
That appears to have been the case for terror suspect Amedy Coulibaly, who wore a camera on his body when he attacked a Jewish grocery store in Paris earlier this month, according to multiple news outlets.
The information, first released by CNN, supports an earlier report by French magazine L’Express that Coulibaly used a GoPro camera to record seven minutes of his raid. He then emailed a copy of the clip using a computer at the market before he was killed by police, according to L’Express reporter Eric Pelletier.
Read it all.
... This is my 300th post on the blog, and I thought it might be a good moment to offer a few reflections. I started the blog at the time of a short sabbatical in 2009, but only wrote consistently and substantially after leaving my teaching role in theological education in June 2013. Even in these few years, a lot has changed.
Bloggers have become more influential. A small sign of this is the daily Church of England media release, which alongside newspapers reports and news items includes a number of blog posts. Bloggers' influence is particularly strong in the States, where there are a good number of serious bloggers, and some substantial discussion takes place.
Perhaps the most striking thing I have gained in blogging is the sense of disciplining my thoughts. It is one thing to have a view; it is quite another to put it in writing for all the world to see, read, and comment on. I have found this has fed back into my other speaking and ministry. Every time I preach or speak, I am drawing on a number of things I have written about in the blog—which I hope gives substance and plausibility to what I say, but also gives me resources to draw on and confidence in what I present. The blog has become, for me, a personal library of written resources. Perhaps it is the diary or reflective journal that I have never kept...
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The Archbishop of Canterbury has posted a blog warning Christians not to tweet their disagreements. Electronic communication, he says, lacks the human touch, and in particular the kinds of modulations of tone and the face-to-face aspects of relationships which make it possible to disagree productively.
“Social media does not show tears in the eye, a hand on the arm when saying something painful, body language that speaks of inner turmoil, deep distress – even gentle respect. It is simply there – usually forever,” he writes.
This seems at first sight ungrateful: there must be people who have turned to God because the internet made them lose their faith in humanity. On the other hand, there is no doubt that the schism in the Anglican Communion would have happened much more slowly and perhaps not at all without the help of the internet. Quite possibly the Reformation would never have caught on without the printing press, either. Nothing so promotes self-righteous outrage like the honest communication of sincerely held beliefs.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Religion & Culture * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Tone is equally difficult to achieve; electronic media has no volume control. The US President Teddy Roosevelt spoke of speaking softly and carrying a big stick. Electronic media speaks loudly and carries a big stick – through it we have no other means of speaking, especially in the compressed form that is often used.
For disputes within church communities, Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel makes it quite clear that personal interaction is essential – yet all of us feel that when someone has done something wrong, we should all say so! Electronic media breaks through locked doors, and pierces people painfully. It is not for all of us to set everyone right on everything. There’s a point at which we need to leave it to those who know people to speak to them personally and quietly – in spaces where the tone is subtle and full of love. That is how people can be put back together rather than torn apart and left lying around in electronic media space.
Love often says don’t tweet. Love often says don’t write. Love often says if you must rebuke, then do so in person and with touch – with an arm around the shoulder and tears in your eyes that can be seen by the person being rebuked.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Psychology Religion & Culture * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
99% of people are stupid. Luckily, I’m part of the other 2%— Bill Murray (@BiIIMurray) January 25, 2015
Some people have obvious activities to chop. If you're surfing the web for four hours a day or spending your weekends in a casino, you know what needs to be done. But I'd wager most of us have more difficult decisions to make. Streamlining our schedules and keeping our sanity involves continually choosing the best from among the merely good.
In my interview with Bill Hybels from the Spring issue of Leadership, I asked him what changes he'd made to simplify his life. He talked about scheduling. "I know that sounds like such a boring subject," he said, "but sitting down before God with a calendar and a submitted spirit is one of the holiest things you can do."
That's good advice. I don't think following it will magically make our lives simple. If we wanted simple, we wouldn't have chosen ministry. But bringing our complicated lives before God and submitting every detail to his will—that's a pretty good place to start.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Psychology Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
A study of more than 86,000 users of Facebook has demonstrated the power of intelligent machines to predict an individual’s character based on what they have listed as their “likes”.
Researchers said the day when computers are able to judge a person’s personality accurately has almost arrived, and even suggested that science fiction films like Her, based on a man’s attachment to an intelligent computer, are closer than we think.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Globalization Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
PROFESSOR JAMES GRIMMELMAN: When you start experimenting on people, you start manipulating their environment to see how they react, you’re turning them into your lab rats.
CHRISTIAN RUDDER: The outrage that greeted that particular experiment far outstripped its practical implications.
DANAH BOYD: Why the controversy blew up at the time and in the way that it did is that we’re not sure we trust Facebook.
LUCKY SEVERSON, correspondent: There were tremors of ethical outrage when a major scientific journal revealed that the social media site Facebook had conducted experiments, altering what customers see on their own pages. The outrage was voiced across all forms of media, both traditional ones and digital outlets like YouTube.
Read or watch and listen to it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Psychology Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
As Andrew Lloyd Webber calls for Wi-Fi in Churches, the Bishop of Worcester, John Inge, explains how it may work.
Listen to it all but before you listen, guess the number of parishes there are in the Church of England which is mentioned during the interview [the segment starts 20 minutes 58 seconds in; it lasts about 4 minutes)].
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Religion & Culture Science & Technology * International News & Commentary England / UK
How to share the gospel in a bazaar world? Lately I’m seeing the need to reverse what I learned as the linear process from inner conversation to service in the world. What if instead the Spirit is leading us to begin with acts of mercy and justice? How can we use our connective technology to host conversations about real-life experiences, to ask thoughtful questions and then see where our stories intersect the gospel? And then how can we take things deeper, challenging one another to live a life of integrity and purpose, using God’s gifts for the healing of the world?
I’ve also been intrigued by communication models such as the TED talks, the Episcopal Story Project and the Khan Academy. Where I’m serving, the question is this: how do we move the discussion from the (mostly empty) couches in the parish hall to the online world that people can access from where they are, when they have the time? It’s about going where people are, rather than continuing to try to make them come to us.
After finally letting go of some old wineskins, my church is finding creative energy to go after new ones. I don’t know what exactly this will look like, but it is a thrill and a privilege to be a gospel-bearer during this reformation. There is much for us to receive, but we won’t have the hands to do it unless we set down whatever things are no longer working.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Adult Education Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Psychology Religion & Culture * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
...not only was I starting to feel left out during dinner table conversations about the latest viral phenomenon, I also realised that social media was the best way to disseminate my writing work. I wrote to be read, not so my words would simply disappear forever into the cloud. If I had ideas, I needed to get them out there.
However, aside from sharing my articles, I’ve actually had some difficulty in knowing what else to say. Well meaning techy friends gave me advice: find your ‘thing’ and just be interesting about it. But it’s felt like a hard task to be witty and engaging about my ‘thing’ which happens to be the subject of religion and spirituality. As an Anglican chaplain and commentator on religious affairs, my ‘thing’ is a deeply held desire to draw near to the divine and see others do the same – try packing that in 140 characters! It’s a rather complex and personal subject to generate regular pithy soundbites about.
All I knew is that there were certain things I didn’t want to say. More than anything I wanted to avoid becoming one of those people who post inane details about their personal life alongside random spiritual hash tags (e.g. ‘Fed the kids now off to prayer meeting #meetwithjesus’), as if by shoehorning references to God into commentary about everyday life they might make spirituality seem more normalised and appealing.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Religion & Culture
Andrew Parker, head of Britain’s domestic security agency, said this week: “My sharpest concern as director general of MI5 is the growing gap between the increasingly challenging threat and the decreasing availability of capabilities to address it.” In a briefing at MI5 headquarters in London he said about half of the agency’s work was now devoted to counter-terrorism.
For Nigel Inkster, a former senior intelligence office and a three-decade veteran of Britain’s MI6 overseas intelligence agency, “a lot of what needs to be done is being done, but it’s a problem of scale.” According to Inkster, now director of Transnational Threats and Political Risk at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies: “There are now more of these people around involved in attack planning.”
The Paris attack was part of a terrorist phenomenon that was fragmenting and taking multiple different directions, he says.
Read it all from Time.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Politics in General Terrorism * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Church of England's Buildings Division has backed a plan to fit all of the C of E's 16,000 churches with WiFi internet access.
The director of the Cathedral and Churches Buildings Division, Janet Gough, said in a statement on Tuesday that the Church was ideally placed to build up a national network.
"We will be talking with those involved to explore how to build on the existing projects, such as the diocese of Norwich's WiSpire programme, and the provision of free WiFi for all visitors at individual cathedrals such as Chester, Canterbury, Ely, and Liverpool, to link up and expand WiFi coverage countrywide."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking History Religion & Culture Science & Technology * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Navigating the Internet used to mean painstakingly typing the exact address you wanted into your computer. The web browser and the search engine simplified that, giving us the Internet we take for granted today.
Now, across Silicon Valley, companies from tiny start-ups to titans like Google and Facebook are trying to bring the same simplicity to smartphones by teaching apps to talk to one another.
Unlike web pages, mobile apps do not have links. They do not have web addresses. They live in worlds by themselves, largely cut off from one another and the broader Internet. And so it is much harder to share the information found on them.
It is not just a matter of consumer convenience. For Google and Facebook, and any company that has built its business on the web, it is a matter of controlling the next entryway to the Internet — the mobile device.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Globalization Psychology Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
If the Lloyd Webber plan ever comes to fruition, the whole concept of Church Wi-Fi will only be of any value if churches actually do something proactive with it. In its own way it will act as a potential catalyst for them to reach out and offer something bigger that can bless their communities. It will only succeed, though, if churches have an understanding of the needs around them, and the vision to put something together that is dynamic and relevant to the 21st-century lives of those who visit.
Traditionally, churches tend to lag behind the prevailing culture and technologies, often playing catch-up when it comes to taking advantage of the opportunities on offer. The gospel has no need at all to be tampered with - God’s truths are eternal – but the method of delivery needs to updated with every generation if the message is to be effectively presented. Andrew Lloyd Webber is no fool with a harebrained scheme: he sees the potential for churches to be vibrant and provide the lifeblood for the communities around them. The more we see the lead of pioneers such as Tubestation being followed, the greater the likelihood that churches – and the Christian faith – will regain local prominence and community approbation. And if free Wi-Fi comes as standard, then that just makes things better still.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Religion & Culture Science & Technology * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Oscar-winning composer behind Jesus Christ Superstar is planning an even more ambitious scheme to connect the nation with its Christian heritage – wi-fi in every church.
Andrew Lloyd Webber, whose father was music director at a London church, said the initiative would put the increasingly deserted buildings back at the centre of their local communities.
The theatre impresario behind musicals including Cats and Evita has been in talks with Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, who is ‘actively’ considering the project.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet History Religion & Culture Science & Technology * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Paula Smalley was hurt in a hit and run accident during the busy holiday season in the last couple of weeks. We are admirers of the ministry of the parish of which they are a part and her husband, Craig, is a former member of the diocese of South Carolina and known to many here. You can see a picture of the whole Smalley clan and offer your own thoughts if you wish there.
I will quote here Craig's recent facebook post: "Friends, a note to say that though we are consumed with the work of rehab and recovery, and not able to respond sufficiently, we are wonderfully overwhelmed with the love, care, and encouragement from so many. We feel much like Wayne and Garth, "we're not worthy," but we are grateful."
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Pastoral Care Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Children Marriage & Family Travel * Theology Pastoral Theology
The traditional family is dead. Or at least it is for the tens of thousands of people who are choosing to go online to find the parent of their child.
Men and women are finding each other on what look like dating sites in order to have a baby through artificial insemination (AI). Within a platonic relationship, they then share the child without a binding legal agreement.
Co-Parents.co.uk, was begun by Franz Sof in 2008 when he wanted to meet someone he could bring up a child with. The site now has 10,000 members. This website and others like it also caters for those who, rather than looking for someone to “co-parent” with, are looking for a sperm donor, but want to meet him first.
Read it all (requires subscription).
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Men Science & Technology Women Young Adults * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Another Vimeo resource to like; watch and listen to it all.
Americans just have this wrong, this is so inefficient and silly to have as a work day from where I sit.
Try to be as specific as you can as it will help readers enjoy it more--KSH.
We are going to take a break from the Anglican, Religious, Financial, Cultural, and other news until later in the Christmas season to focus from this evening forward on the great miracle of the Incarnation--KSH.
North Korea warned that any U.S. punishment over the hacking attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment would lead to damage “thousands of times greater,” with targets including the White House and Pentagon.
Hackers including the “‘Guardians of Peace’’ group that forced Sony to pull a comedy about the assassination of Kim Jong Un ‘‘are sharpening bayonets not only in the U.S. mainland but in all other parts of the world,’’ the Kim-led National Defense Commission said in a statement published yesterday by the official Korean Central News Agency. Even so, North Korea doesn’t know who the Guardians are, the commission said.
North Korea has called on the U.S. to hold a joint investigation into the incident, after rejecting the conclusion by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that it was behind the attack. President Barack Obama said last week that Sony had ‘‘suffered significant damage,’’ and vowed to respond to North Korea ‘‘in a place and time and manner that we choose.’’
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Movies & Television Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Asia North Korea * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Enjoy the whole thing and you can read more about Hezekiah Walker there and about the gospel flash mob here.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Music Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology
What a strange week it’s been in Hollywood. Tuesday night we actually had a thunderstorm. For those who don’t know Southern California, that’s like saying House Republicans think our country might have a race problem. Or Woody Allen is considering property in Malibu. Or the new Missal really seems to be catching on. (“Under our roof,” translators? “Under our roof”?)
There was even lightning, for God’s sake.
Then yesterday, hack-beleaguered Sony Pictures actually stopped distribution of major motion picture “The Interview,” maybe forever, after the United States’ five major theater chains refused to show it for fear of a 9/11-style attack on any theater that did.
To say the Internet was not happy with this series of events would be an understatement. Hollywood writer/director/producer Judd Apatow called the chains’ decision “disgraceful” and wondered, along with many others, what’s next: “Will they pull any movie that gets an anonymous threat now?” Many called it a sad day for creative expression, and feared that this forebodes a dangerous new self-censorship. Rob Lowe compared Hollywood to Neville Chamberlain (to which the nation of Czechoslovakia replied, “Mmm, Rob, I think not”). Newt Gingrich went so far as to call the hackers’ threat an “act of war,” forgoing the need for an act of war to involve an actual act. Forget the pesky details, there’s really never a bad time for a little preemption.
Read it all from America.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Law & Legal Issues Movies & Television Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Asia North Korea * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
[Deb] Adams, who has lived in Teton Valley for the past 30 years, said she’s been attending St. Francis since it started just over 20 years ago. For the past 10, she’s been studying in the hours off from her job as executive director of the Teton County Library in Jackson, Wyoming.
“This is something I’ve been drawn to for a really long time,” Adams said. “A lot of it comes from the modeling of my parents who were all about service.”
Service, Adams said, was the environment she grew up in. And now, besides delivering sermons and counseling with parishioners, she’ll be able to officiate in the church’s sacraments, which include celebrating communion and performing weddings.
Instead of taking an alternate route of studying at a theological seminary, Adams enrolled in online classes through Church Divinity School of the Pacific and took additional courses and workshops at the Episcopal Church in Idaho Falls.
Read it all and the parish website is there.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Parishes * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet * Theology Seminary / Theological Education
Single women, lesbian couples, and straight couples with fertility troubles are increasingly experimenting at home with store-bought goods, in an effort to skirt expensive fertility procedures like Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) and In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF). At-home inseminators enlist friends or acquaintances to donate sperm, or procure free donor samples from dating-style portals like the Known Donor Registry, Pollen Tree, and Pride Angel. Some go a more orthodox route and purchase sperm from FDA-regulated banks, which can cost from about $500 to $1500 per cycle. In addition to saving money, many at-home inseminators say they prefer bedrooms to treatment rooms, because they can personalize the conception experience, imbue it with romance, and reduce stress. Legal experts warn, however, that inseminating at home can compromise a couple’s legal rights.
Embracing the DIY ethos, Mead and Espinosa assembled a kit of store-bought tools over the ten months they tried to conceive.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Children Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Psychology Science & Technology * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Mohammed Hamzah Khan, 19, rose before dawn on Oct. 4 to pray with his father and 16-year-old brother at their neighborhood mosque in a Chicago suburb.
When they returned home just before 6 a.m., the father went back to bed and the Khan teens secretly launched a plan they had been hatching for months: to abandon their family and country and travel to Syria to join the Islamic State.
While his parents slept, Khan gathered three newly issued U.S. passports and $2,600 worth of airline tickets to Turkey that he had gotten for himself, his brother and their 17-year-old sister. The three teens slipped out of the house, called a taxi and rode to O’Hare International Airport.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Religion & Culture Teens / Youth * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Middle East * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
What do we make of the latest statistics about cathedral attendances?
I've been a cathedral dean for half my ministry, and was a canon residentiary before that. So I once knew a fair amount about Coventry Cathedral and Sheffield Cathedral. 12 years at Durham completes a trio of three very different cathedrals (and if you count my years as an honorary vicar choral at Salisbury, that makes four).
In the last decade or so, the rhetoric has been that cathedrals are 'a success story of the Church of England'. (Some immodestly replace the indefinite article with the definite.) I've often wondered what this means, and whether success/failure language ought to belong to the way we perceive church life. In the heritage sector, there is now much more talk about the importance of 'intangible values', not just the things we can observe and measure. I'm not the only one to worry that church growth/fresh expressions language is seduced by the easy appeal of measurables ('bums on seats'). I doubt if these are what ultimately matter when it comes to understanding the dynamics of a faith community.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Commentary Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK
A deadly fire is all that betrayed a suspected Chinese hacker group in Kenya believed to be trying to infiltrate banks, mobile money transfer networks, and ATMs.
So far, police have arrested and charged 77 Chinese nationals in connection with activities in an upscale Nairobi suburb. During the raids, police found soundproof rooms fashioned like military dorms that were full of computer equipment and outfitted with high-speed Internet connections, which is uncommon in Kenya.
The discovery of what police call a cybercrime command center comes as Kenya is experiencing a wave of computer crime, with criminal hackers carrying out phishing campaigns to extort money from citizens and launching attacks on banks. The arrests are a fortunate break for a police force struggling to contain the problem.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa Kenya Asia China * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
First, the report makes it clear that there is no avoiding the need for the exercise of soft power, and in fact the exercise of hard power (from sanctions to the use of violence) is itself only effective as an addition to the impact of soft power. It is soft power in its many ramifications that makes it possible for this country to exert a benevolent and beneficial influence in the world around.
I saw an example of that when at the degree awards ceremony for Coventry University some two or three weeks ago, one of the best modern universities: 60 per cent of students were from overseas; they are a powerful source of earnings, and they will return home with a brilliant education and an exceptional experience of the UK, in most cases they will be our friends for life.
Secondly, the report points especially to the rapid increase in complexity and what it calls hypersensitivity in the modern world. There has been an introduction of information technology, with more than five billion mobile telephones around the world; we have the growth of access to the world-wide web, which means you can sit in Kaduna and look at what is happening in London, you can look at the shops in New York, you have access to cultural influences of the most extraordinary kind; and the possibilities of this both for governments and for non-state actors are ever more powerful with the advent of the sophistication of modern computers.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Globalization Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Writing for Life and Work magazine, he said that churchgoers should embrace digital technology as they set about engaging a new kind of recruit.
He went on: “It might pain me to say it, but it’s time for a radical change and I don’t mean a change of hymns, or a visually aided sermon or a new time of day for traditional forms of worship —– I mean something much more far reaching than that.
“I’m looking for a way of including the many hundreds of people who are fully engaged in the practical and project work that our churches are doing throughout Scotland, but whose belonging to the faith community is not necessarily complemented by regular attendance at Sunday worship.”
Read it all (requires subscription)
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Religion & Culture Science & Technology Teens / Youth Young Adults * International News & Commentary England / UK --Scotland * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Presbyterian * Theology
Imagine that the bowls of heaven, which are filled with the prayers of the saints (us!), are what God pours out in order to reach those of “every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” As we pray to extend His Kingdom, I imagine those bowls filling up. When they overflow, it is not hard to imagine the grace of the Kingdom pouring out of the bowls and into the dreams of those whose hearts are ripe. Of course we still do all we can to carry out mission, but in this season, more fruit with M**lims is coming from supernatural means.
Dumped fuel has a tremendous impact on the atmosphere. It is profound and negative. It should only be done when there is no other way to save lives. Joining in prayer for the extension of the Kingdom and the conversion of hearts and souls to Jesus Christ through all manner of means both natural and supernatural has a tremendous impact on the spiritual atmosphere. It is profound and life giving. It does not cost anything but time, and it pays tremendous dividends.
By the way…you might wonder why I chose to spell M**lim or Isl*m with “*” instead of just spelling it out. It’s because of search engines. Radical M**lims can Google for articles that mention both Christ and Isl*m looking for ways to identify those whom they view are committing apostasy. A simple thing like an * in the spelling is just a safety net for our brothers and sisters in Christ who came from a M**lim background.
Read it all.
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Iran’s judiciary should vacate the death sentence of a 30-year-old man who faces imminent execution for Facebook posts linked to his account. On November 24, 2014, Iran’s Supreme Court upheld a criminal court ruling sentencing Soheil Arabi to hang. The court transferred his file to the judiciary’s implementation unit, opening the way for his execution.
A Tehran criminal court had convicted him in August of sabb al-nabbi, or “insulting the prophet,” referring to the Prophet Muhammad, which carries the death penalty. Arabi’s legal team has asked the judiciary to suspend the death sentence and review the case.
“It is simply shocking that anyone should face the gallows simply because of Internet postings that are deemed to be crude, offensive, or insulting,” said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. “Iran should urgently revise its penal code to eliminate provisions that criminalize peaceful free expression, especially when they punish its exercise with death.”
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Two years ago, “Max” was a devout Catholic who loved his faith so much he would sometimes cry as he swallowed the Communion wafer.
Then came the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, where 20 schoolchildren and six adults were murdered by a troubled gunman. At that moment, a bell went off in his head, he said, ringing “there is no God, there is no God.”
Now, Max goes by his online handle “Atheist Max.” A 50-something professional artist from the Northeast, some days he now spends two or more hours online trying to argue people out of their religious beliefs in the comments section of Religion News Service.
Read it all.
Rick Cloud, 68, knew that he wanted to stay in his home in Austin, Tex., as he aged. But Mr. Cloud, who is divorced, was not sure how he could do that without relying on his two daughters.
Then he ran across the idea of virtual retirement villages, whose members pay a yearly fee to gain access to resources and social connections that help them age in place. Sold on the concept, Mr. Cloud joined with some friends to start Capital City Village four years ago.
“Our virtual village can connect me with people my own age so I can do more things,” said Mr. Cloud, a retired technology consultant. “I worry about being single and getting older.”
Read it all.
The Supreme Court struggled Monday over where to draw the line between free speech and illegal threats in the digital age.
The justices considered the case of a Pennsylvania man convicted of making violent threats after he posted Facebook rants about killing his estranged wife, harming law enforcement officials and shooting up a school.
Lawyers for Anthony Elonis say he didn’t mean to threaten anyone. They contend his posts in the form of rap lyrics under the pseudonym ‘‘Tone Dougie’’ were simply a way for him to vent his frustration over splitting up with his wife.
The government argues the real test is whether his words would make a reasonable person feel threatened. In one post about his wife, Elonis said, ‘‘There’s one way to love you but a thousand ways to kill you. I'm not going to rest until your body is a mess, soaked in blood and dying from all the little cuts.’’
Read it all.
People in the early twenty-first century seem to struggle to be thankful. One moving story on this topic concerns a seminary student in Evanston, Illinois, who was part of a life-saving squad. On September 8, 1860, a ship called the Lady Elgin went aground on the shore of Lake Michigan near Evanston, and Edward Spencer waded again and again into the frigid waters to rescue 17 passengers. In the process, his health was permanently damaged. Some years later he died in California at the age of 81. In a newspaper notice of his death, it was said that not one of the people he rescued ever thanked him.
Today is a day in which we are to be reminded of our creatureliness, our frailty, and our dependence. One of the clearest ways we may express this is to seek to give thanks in all circumstances (Philippians 4:6).
I am sure today you can find much for which to give thanks: the gift of life, the gift of faith, the joy of friends and family, all those serving in the mission field extending the reach of the gospel around the world, and so much else. I also invite you to consider taking a moment at some point today to write a note of thanksgiving to someone who really made a difference in your life: possibly a teacher, a coach, a mentor, a minister or a parent. You might even write to the parish secretary, the sexton, or the music minister in the parish where you worship; they work very hard behind the scenes.
–The Rev. Canon Dr. Kendall S. Harmon is the convenor of this blog and takes another opportunity this morning to give thanks for all blog readers and participants and to wish everyone a blessed Thanksgiving
The family of Lee Rigby have said they hold Facebook partly responsible for his murder, after a report found it failed to take action over an online chat in which one of the killers vowed to slay a soldier.
The Intelligence and Security Committee’s long-awaited report yesterday labelled an unnamed internet company, widely reported to be Facebook, a “safe haven for terrorists” because it did not flag up the online exchange between Michael Adebowale and a foreign jihadist, which took place five months before Fusilier Rigby’s murder.
The parliamentary watchdog’s chair Sir Malcolm Rifkind stated that the web firm could have made a difference by raising the conversation, and said there was “a significant possibility that MI5 would have been able to prevent the attack” as Adebowale would have become “a top priority.”
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Watch it all (only 5 1/4 minutes) and see what you make of it.
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About a week after Tara Elonis persuaded a judge to issue a protective order against her estranged husband, Anthony, her soon-to-be ex had this to say:
“Fold up your PFA [protection-from-abuse order] and put it in your pocket
Is it thick enough to stop a bullet?”
Anthony Elonis didn’t deliver the message in person, by phone or in a note. Instead, he posted it on his Facebook page, for all to see, in a prose style reminiscent of the violent, misogynistic lyrics of rap artists he admired.
In its first examination of the limits of free speech on social media, the Supreme Court will consider next week whether, as a jury concluded, Elonis’s postings constituted a “true threat” to his wife and others.
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PROFESSOR MIA BLOOM (Center for Terrorism and Security Studies, University of Massachusetts at Lowell): They really don’t have the ballast to be able to say, “No, I don’t think that’s what the Sura al-Tawba says.” They don’t really have the knowledge-base to be able to fend off that kind of manipulation of the religion that these groups are doing to convince them that this is the way that they can be the best Muslims they can be.
LOTHIAN: But some of the foreign recruits join the fight in Syria and Iraq with their eyes wide open. True believers in radical Islam. Professor Asani says they’re also lured by money, housing, wives, and a sense of belonging.
ASANI: You come and fight with us, and your visions, your ideas—you’re going to be valued. You’re going to be at the center of power.
LOTHIAN: And it’s not just young men. Three teenage girls from Denver, Colorado were detained in Germany after apparently trying to join Islamic militants in Syria. It’s reported dozens of French girls have also run away from home to sign up with ISIS.
Mia Bloom, professor of security studies at the University of Massachussetts, Lowell, has been investigating the recruiting of Western girls.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Men Religion & Culture Teens / Youth Violence Women Young Adults * Economics, Politics Terrorism * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam
A cyber snooping operation reminiscent of the Stuxnet worm and billed as the world’s most sophisticated computer malware is targeting Russian and Saudi Arabian telecoms companies.
Cyber security company Symantec said the malware, called “Regin”, is probably run by a western intelligence agency and in some respects is more advanced in engineering terms than Stuxnet, which was developed by US and Israel government hackers in 2010 to target the Iranian nuclear programme.
The discovery of the latest hacking software comes as the head of Kaspersky Labs, the Russian company that helped uncover Stuxnet, told the Financial Times that criminals are now also hacking industrial control systems for financial gain.
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In the last few decades, there has been much talk about “Six Degrees of Separation,” which is the idea that any person in the world can be introduced to any other person in the world, by being introduced through our networks of friends. Statisticians have demonstrated that anyone in the US can be introduced to almost anyone else in the US by going through only two or three friends. But as often as we hear such things, it is still amazing when it happens “in real life.”
This week I received a private message on Facebook from a woman I never met. And that was the beginning (or possibly the end) of an unusual series of connections through my life and through social media. To understand the connections that led to this message, let me go back in time to high school.
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Admissions officers at Morehouse College in Atlanta were shocked several years ago when a number of high school seniors submitted applications using email addresses containing provocative language.
Some of the addresses made sexual innuendos while others invoked gangster rap songs or drug use, said Darryl D. Isom, Morehouse’s director of admissions and recruitment.
But last year, he and his staff noticed a striking reversal: Nearly every applicant to Morehouse, an all-male historically black college, used his real name, or some variation, as his email address.
Morehouse admissions officials, who occasionally dip into applicants’ public social media profiles looking for additional details about them, also found fewer provocative posts.
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The human head weighs about a dozen pounds. But as the neck bends forward and down, the weight on the cervical spine begins to increase. At a 15-degree angle, this weight is about 27 pounds, at 30 degrees it’s 40 pounds, at 45 degrees it’s 49 pounds, and at 60 degrees it’s 60 pounds.
That’s the burden that comes with staring at a smartphone — the way millions do for hours every day, according to research published by Kenneth Hansraj in the National Library of Medicine. The study will appear next month in Surgical Technology International. Over time, researchers say, this poor posture, sometimes called “text neck,” can lead to early wear-and-tear on the spine, degeneration and even surgery.
“It is an epidemic or, at least, it’s very common,” Hansraj, chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, told The Washington Post. “Just look around you, everyone has their heads down.”
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SPIEGEL: Delivery is one thing. Why is Islamic State's message finding so much traction with young people?
Soufan: There are different motives that drive people to join this kind of organization. Most of today's IS followers were kids when 9/11 happened. You're dealing with a new generation that has a totally different view of global jihad. To them, al-Qaida is an assembly of old guys. I mean, look at Osama bin Laden's successor Ayman al-Zawahiri. He has no charisma. But IS now is new and modern, they succeeded in being the new guys -- at least relatively speaking. Nevertheless, Osama bin Laden is still their hero. His photo can be found on the websites of numerous IS followers. The ideology is the same, the strategy is different.
SPIEGEL: Are there any means for putting a stop to Islamic State's success?
Soufan: Our problem is that after 9/11 we never had a strategy that included fighting ideology, to counter their narrative. We had tactics designed to keep us safe, to disrupt their plans, to arrest and kill leaders, even to kill bin Laden. But there was no plan to counter their narratives. In 2004, bin Laden had around 400 fighters under oath. IS today has thousands fighters and followers in countries all over the world. This is an unfortunate failure.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Globalization Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Terrorism * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The war between the giants of the technology industry for the attention of the world’s office workers look like it is about to take an unexpected turn.
Fundamental changes in the daily lives of millions of so-called “information workers” have already triggered a corresponding upheaval in the technology tools on which they rely. Staples such as email and Microsoft’s Office suite of products still hold sway, but they are increasingly being supplemented by services like group chat, internal social networks and shared online document editing.
Now, Facebook’s ambition to create a version of its social network for the office, first reported in the Financial Times this week, promises a new twist.
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Russia plans to create its own "Wikipedia" to ensure its citizens have access to more "detailed and reliable" information about their country, the presidential library said on Friday.
Citing Western threats, the Kremlin has asserted more control over the Internet this year in what critics call moves to censor the web, and has introduced more pro-Kremlin content similar to closely controlled state media such as television.
Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia assembled and written by Internet users around the world, has pages dedicated to nearly every region or major city within Russia's 11 time zones, but the Kremlin library said this was not good enough.
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How were the teens radicalized? Multiple signs seem to point to social media.
In addition to following online jihadists from around the world, the teens followed the Twitter account "Jihadi News," which is the same account followed by Martin Rouleau. Rouleau, 25, drove his car into two Canadian soldiers in Quebec last month, killing one, and then committed suicide. They also followed the account "Women of Islam," which encourages women to make sacrifices for the sake of jihad, and they followed an account under the name "Sara," where YouTube jihadi lectures would be constantly tweeted.
"The process they underwent-- from use of social media, radicalization, recruitment online, even through the actual travel route to join the Islamic State -- all follow the exact same pattern shared by several hundred Westerners," wrote Katz, who has called the girls' attempted trip a "case study."
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It is illegal to threaten someone online. But in recent weeks there have been a number of high-profile threats against women — among the targets were several feminist video game critics and an actress who starred in a video about street harassment of women.
But many victims of online threats say they are frustrated because the perpetrators are never caught.
Rebecca Watson says she's had many threats against her on Twitter, in email and on her website, Skepchick. The site focuses on feminism and science; she ignores most of the threats — but once in a while they truly scare her.
Someone sent Watson a link to a man's website. "He was making music and the album was a picture of me — my face with a target on it," she says. And even worse, Watson says, "the name of the album was I Have A Tombstone With Rebecca Watson's Name On It. "
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[The] Rev Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, executive religion editor for the Huffington Post, moderated the panel discussions. The Christian voice was heard loudly along with other faiths, political experts and US journalists: Bishop Prince Singh from the Episcopal Church, noted that the forum had gathered on the Hindu festival of lights known as Diwali, and said that it was a spiritual discipline to resist the urge to demonize opponents and instead to strive to bring light rather than heat to conversations on potentially divisive issues. This was very much the theme of the forum.
In his day job Paul blogs and hosts a weekly Huff Post podcast dedicated to exploring how religious ideas and spiritual practice inform and shape our personal lives, our communities and our world. Huff Post has an openly liberal/left commentary but does not shy away from debate. They welcome comment but have banned anonymity.
In a moving podcast he recently investigated mental health interviewing Kay and Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, whose son lived with mental illness until his tragic suicide.
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Our mission is to nurture children in Charleston's Eastside by providing a safe environment where they can learn and grow.
The Biblical Family Center provides hope and optimism to the Eastside Community of Charleston.
Through our summer camps and after school programs,we provide year round mentoring and support for families. The Biblical Family Center has created a safe space to address risky behaviors, build on protective factors, and improve relationships. We are addressing: school attachment, avoiding self-harm, positive body image, avoiding tobacco, drugs, and alcohol, communicating needs of families, making healthy choices regarding nutrition, self care, recreational activities, and abstinence.
Check it out.
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God bless online media. Almost half of U.S. adults (46 percent) say they saw someone sharing “something about their faith” on the Internet in the last week.
And one in five (20 percent) say they were part of the Internet spiritual action on social networking sites and apps — sharing their beliefs on Facebook, asking for prayer on Twitter, mentioning in a post that they went to church.
“The sheer number of people who have seen faith discussed online is pretty striking,” said Greg Smith, associate director of religion research for Pew Research Center.
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The Internet is moving to a shopping center near you.
In Fort Wayne, Ind., a vacated Target store is about to be home to rows of computer servers, network routers and Ethernet cables courtesy of a local data-center operator. In Jackson, Miss., a former McRae’s department store will get the same treatment next year. And one quadrant of the Marley Station Mall south of Baltimore is already occupied by a data-center company that last year offered to buy out the rest of the building.
As America’s retailers struggle to keep up with online shopping, the Internet is starting to settle into some of the very spaces where brick-and-mortar customers used to shop. The shift brings welcome tenants to some abandoned stretches of the suburban landscape, though it doesn’t replace all the jobs and sales-tax revenue that local communities lost when stores left the building.
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You can read Mr. Shore's unsound theological reflections here. As Lewis puts it in The Problem of Pain: "Some will not be redeemed. There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this...[but Hell] has the full support of Scripture and, specifically, of Our Lord's own words; it has always been held by Christendom."
Entire families navigate their smartphones while sharing meals at restaurants. Students text in class. Parents take phone calls at their children’s sporting events and plays.
It’s no surprise that cellphones affect even church.
It has become common for parishes to place blurbs in their bulletins about silencing cellphones and for lectors to make announcements about it before liturgies, reminding parishioners they’re in a place of worship.
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3. Technology Enables Discipleship
Our church has an app where people can actually access the sermon outline, and people use their phones or iPads to follow along and take notes. Technology enables members and attendees to enhance their discipleship experience at church.
During certain series, we have encouraged our people to tweet questions in the middle of services, and we try to answer them.
All of these are tools to enhance discipleship. Technology, though, is not the goal. The goal is to enable the church’s mission to make disciples of all people groups.
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Many of the people who read this article will do so because Greg Marra, 26, a Facebook engineer, calculated that it was the kind of thing they might enjoy.
Mr. Marra’s team designs the code that drives Facebook’s News Feed — the stream of updates, photographs, videos and stories that users see. He is also fast becoming one of the most influential people in the news business.
Facebook now has a fifth of the world — about 1.3 billion people — logging on at least monthly. It drives up to 20 percent of traffic to news sites, according to figures from the analytics company SimpleReach. On mobile devices, the fastest-growing source of readers, the percentage is even higher, SimpleReach says, and continues to increase.
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Google just announced a new app called “Inbox” that has the potential to transform the way we email. But it also looks like it’s going to seriously annoy advertisers as a result.
One of the key features of the Google Now-like app is “Bundles.” Basically, Inbox automatically bundles together certain kinds of messages like bank statements and purchase receipts so it’s easy to scan through them quickly.
Another feature likely to catch the eye of advertisers is “Highlights” which helps you find key information like flight itineraries and event info, but it also pulls in information from the web that wasn’t in the original email like the real-time status of your flight.
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In an age of smartphones, instant messaging and 24/7 availability, it’s increasingly hard to find time to step away and reconnect with one’s self, especially in fast-paced tech hubs like Silicon Valley.
But before you lock your smartphone in a closet for an hour a day, check out some of the apps and websites available for learning and practicing the ancient art of meditation and the more contemporary mindfulness-based stress reduction.
You don’t need a new gadget to meditate — all the equipment necessary comes installed in the product.
But some meditation and mindfulness trainers are using technology in interesting ways. They range from simple meditation timers to complete courses.
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Ready? Here’s what was fake on the Internet this week:
1. The only people who contracted Ebola in America, as of this writing, are two nurses who treated a Liberian man in Dallas. That is it, full stop, there is no one else. We could devote an entire Friday debunking — nay, an entire series of Friday debunkings — to nothing but the false Ebola rumors flitting around locations as far-flung as Anchorage. Instead, let’s make this brief: Nobody in the United States currently has Ebola, except (a) Nina Pham, who is currently being treated in isolation at the National Institutes of Health and (b) Amber Vinson, who was recently transferred to Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital,,,.
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In Detroit, a group of Catholics borrowed the idea of flash mobs for "Mass mobs" to help revitalize urban churches.
Every month, a group called Detroit Mass Mobs picks a church, spreads the word on Facebook — and just like that, it fills up and buzzes with the energy it once had.
St. Florian Catholic church is an eight-story, red-brick church built in 1908 by the Polish families who flocked here to work for Dodge, Ford and Packard. It seats 1,500 people, but normally only about 200 people attend noon Mass. On a recent Sunday, Thom Mann, an organizer with Detroit Mass Mob who's not a regular at St. Florian, had to get here early because, he says, "there'll be standing room only."
"People are upset that the churches are closing, but the simple reason is, people don't go," Mann says.
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Kelly Wood, 29, and her husband Ethan Bushman married last month, waiting seven years after they met in order to further their education and careers.
“I felt if I had gotten married at an earlier age, it would have been too young,” said Wood, a nurse in San Francisco whose husband is 30 and finishing a graduate degree. “Just being older and more established in our careers and our goals in life, that groundwork is letting us enter into marriage as strong as we can.”
Couples in the U.S. are increasingly postponing marriage, a decades-long pattern exacerbated by financial struggles still facing young adults five years after the end of the deepest recession since the 1930s. The delays are contributing to a lower birth rate and less homeownership, limiting consumer spending.
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