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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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Would you pretend to be Jewish to secure some sort of advantage for yourself? Would you go even further, attending synagogue once a week for a full year, mouthing the ancient prayers, in order to get what you want?
You might think that such behaviour would be an insult to real Jews in the community.
This prompts the question: why is it socially acceptable for atheists and agnostics to feign their commitment to the Anglican faith to get their kids into a good state school? The answer is that the Church encourages them to do so. This kind of strategic middle-class church attendance produces high-achieving schools and swells congregations in many parishes. It suits the Church and it suits the sharp-elbowed – a formidable alliance. The practice seems particularly widespread in London, where it is standard behaviour among well-heeled, well-informed parents. It’s an unwritten rule of middle-class family life.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Children Education Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK
Many people change faiths, but not like Brad and Chad Jones.
Identical twins, the brothers grew up in Elkin, N.C., a small town in the Bible Belt, the only children of devout Baptists. As boys, they attended the First Baptist Church of Elkin, studied Scripture, went to vacation Bible school and sang in the choir, as did many of their cousins, classmates and neighbors.
Today, Brad, 43, is a Roman Catholic priest in the Diocese of Charlotte, and Chad is an Anglican bishop in Atlanta. Their parents, Jo Anne and Robert, remain faithful members of their Baptist congregation. When their sons visit, each celebrates mass according to his own rite in the dining room or living room of what has become a very ecumenical Jones household.
Read it all.
...the list of things we’re not supposed to do anymore gets longer all the time. I recently encountered an article headlined:
IS YOUR HANDSHAKE AS DANGEROUS AS SMOKING?
The answer, in case you are a complete idiot, is: Of course your handshake is as dangerous as smoking. The article explains that handshakes transmit germs, which cause diseases such as MERS. MERS stands for “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome,” a fatal disease that may have originated in camels. This is yet another argument, as if we needed one, against shaking hands with camels. But the article suggests that we should consider not shaking hands with anybody.
Read it all.
The Primate of Australia, Archbishop Philip Freier of Melbourne, and Archbishop Jeffrey Driver of Adelaide are concerned about the effect the changes will have on children and families.
The proposed changes would bring forward by 90 minutes to 7.30pm mature-aged material including violence, sexual content and advertising for alcohol, gambling and M-rated movies. PG-rated material would also be allowed across all channels all day.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Australia * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Movies & Television Religion & Culture * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Read it all and follow all the links.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
I fear I will be in trouble once again with some people in the church as I find myself, in conscience, having to go against the line that the churches are taking on so-called three-parent families.
I am, to be clear, firmly in favour despite the opposition shown by some of my colleagues and a powerful lobby of critics from abroad.
A Bill passed by the House of Commons earlier this month will allow for a procedure in which a small proportion of a third person's DNA is used to create an embroyo in order to prevent potentially fatal genetic disorders. Scientists have found techniques to replace faulty mitochondrial DNA - mitrochondria are microscopic energy creating structures in the human cell - with donated DNA, and Britain is set to be the first country to endorse the practice.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
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.
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.
The number of words we can’t use without offending is ever growing, and if the supporters of the right-to-die movement have their way, it will stretch yet again to include the word “suicide.” At least when that suicide is the result of a dying patient taking a lethal dose of drugs to avoid impending mental and physical anguish.
It’s insensitive at best to use the “S” word in this context, I’ve been informed by several advocates, because people would not be choosing this option because of a psychiatric disorder or despair over life. They don’t want to die; their diseases have forced that on them. Senate Bill 128, legislation recently introduced in California to allow physicians to write lethal prescriptions under tightly controlled circumstances, not only refrains from calling this suicide but would not allow death certificates to reflect how the death occurred.
“The cause of death listed on an individual’s death certificate who uses aid-in-dying medication shall be the underlying terminal illness,” it reads.
In other words, it wouldn't mention the legal drugs that actually caused the death. The public should have a problem with that.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Elder care is also often done for low wages by new or undocumented immigrants. Will that change?
Manufacturing in the ’20s and ’30s was sweatshop work, largely done by new immigrants. We turned factory work into good jobs with pathways to opportunities. That professionalization was the basis for 20th century prosperity. That’s what the care workforce needs to be. These have the potential to be really good jobs.
You compare investing in home-care workers to investing in railways or the Internet. But aren’t those about growth, not dying?
For working-age adults right now, especially with what they call the sandwich generation–people who are caring for children and aging parents–this is having an impact on their productivity.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Children Health & Medicine Marriage & Family Middle Age Psychology * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Our world-wide flight from family constitutes a significant international victory for self-actualization over self-sacrifice, and might even be said to mark a new chapter in humanity’s conscious pursuit of happiness. But these voluntary changes also have unintended consequences. The deleterious impact on the hardly inconsequential numbers of children disadvantaged by the flight from the family is already plain enough. So too the damaging role of divorce and out-of-wedlock childbearing in exacerbating income disparities and wealth gaps—for society as a whole, but especially for children. Yes, children are resilient and all that. But the flight from family most assuredly comes at the expense of the vulnerable young.
That same flight also has unforgiving implications for the vulnerable old. With America’s baby boomers reaching retirement, and a world-wide “gray wave” around the corner, we are about to learn the meaning of those implications firsthand.
In the decades ahead, ever more care and support for seniors will be required, especially for the growing contingent among the elderly who will be victims of dementia, or are childless and socially isolated. Remember, a longevity revolution is also under way. Yet by some cruel cosmic irony, family structures and family members will be less capable, and perhaps also less willing, to provide that care and support than ever before.
Read it all (my emphasis).
On the eve of Chinese New Year, photos of a father and daughter traveling to see her grandparents have gone viral – picked up by dozens of blogs and media outlets worldwide.
Seen waiting together in Beijing Capital International Airport, Chen Yen has handcuffed himself to his little girl to ensure she is not kidnapped for use as a future bride.
“I saw a warning by police on the TV to take care as traffickers and pickpockets would be out stealing in the holiday rush,” said Mr. Chen according to reporting by The Daily Mail. “I don’t care about pickpockets, but I do care very much about losing my daughter.”
Read it all.
Through marriage, it became clear, Mr. Callis had undergone the type of indelible change in a soul that no personal injury or earthly event can undo. “Having someone believe in me and waiting for me back home, that is what gives me purpose. I am more than myself because of our marriage,” he said, expressing his hope that people not give up on marriage even when the sparks of romance seem distant.
All this brought to mind the words of the German Lutheran pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, when he wrote from a Nazi prison to his niece before her wedding: “Marriage is more than your love for each other. . . . In your love you see only the heaven of your own happiness, but in marriage you are placed in a post of responsibility toward the world and mankind. Your love is your own private possession, but marriage is more than something personal—it is a status, an office.”
The story of Ford and Daisy generated lots of discussion on hospital rounds that day. Theirs was not a tale of military or medical rescue, as exciting and perhaps technically interesting as those were. It was one of marital rescue. This covenant has liberated their souls and given them a higher purpose. Each of us that day, married or not, caught a glimpse of where our true north lies and a reminder of when we are at our best—in serving another.
Read it all.
In promoting the homosexualist agenda, activists and their allies have argued with the ferocity and absolutism of sturmtruppen that those who have homosexual and lesbian attraction are “born that way,” and that, in all cases, such attraction is immutable. They will often compare homosexual attraction to skin color. Therefore, any antipathy towards those who experience homosexual or lesbian attraction is akin to racism. Thus, moral disapproval by Christians or others of homosexual and lesbian activities and relationships is tantamount to hatred for those persons who have same-sex attractions. Even my occasional blogs about the homosexualists and their agenda always draws the greatest number of comments opposing my views. It has even penetrated deeply into our culture. For example, in the current season of Downton Abbey, set in bucolic Yorkshire during the mid-1920s, the footman Barrow is told by the local village physician that any effort to change his homosexuality is futile. Building on the physician’s remark, today’s activists argue that because homosexuality is 100 percent immutable and heritable (though the search for the homosexual gene has proved elusive even after the entire human genome has long been mapped). Accordingly, any effort to help homosexuals or lesbians change their orientation, or to diminish the attraction for same-sex individuals, or to fail to affirm such attraction, is not only cruel and futile, but also harmful.
But could this truly be so? Is one born homosexual or lesbian? Well, to answer that question, rather than focus on my views and/or the views of conservative Christian academics and researchers, it is important to observe that such claims are rejected by many serious “LGBTQ” academicians and thinkers. The always interesting and deeply thoughtful author, feminist scholar, and lesbian Camille Paglia, writes in her book Vamps & Tramps:
Is gay identity so fragile that it cannot bear the thought that some people may not wish to be gay? The difficulties in changing sexual orientation do not spring from its genetic innateness. Sexuality is highly fluid, and reversals are theoretically possible. However, habit is refractory, once the sensory pathways have been blazed and deepened by repetition….[H]elping gays learn how to function heterosexually if they so wish, is a perfectly worthy aim. We should be honest enough to consider whether homosexuality may not indeed be a pausing at the prepubescent stage when children anxiously band together by gender.Emphasis added. Building on Ms. Paglia’s point, a number of studies have indicated that today’s teens will often identify themselves as “gay” or “queer,” but the overwhelming majority will no longer consider themselves to be so by their early 20s.
Read it all.
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
arriage is in crisis throughout the Western world. The data from the United States alone tell an unmistakable—and unmistakably sad—story. Fifty years ago, some 70 percent of American adults were married; today the figure is just over 50 percent. Then, close to 90 percent of children lived with their natural parents; today fewer than two-thirds do. The birth rate has declined, and the abortion rate has climbed from less than 1 percent of live births to over 20 percent.
Everyone suffers from the current crisis in marriage, but some suffer more than others. A growing class divide is becoming alarmingly clear. College-educated men and women marry and are unlikely to get divorced. The less educated are less likely to marry, and those who do so are three times more likely to get divorced. Rates of illegitimacy are even more striking. A very small percentage of college-educated women have children out of wedlock (6 percent). Nearly half of women without a college education now have children out of wedlock.
In considering the demise of marriage culture and the decline of the institution of marriage, we are profoundly aware of the challenge posed by the Lord, that “whatever you did to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Matt. 25:40). The effects of the decline of marriage on children are dramatic, unequal, and deeply disturbing. Among the well-educated and economically well-off, the traditional family remains the norm. This is no longer true for children born to less educated and less affluent women. By age fourteen, nearly half of these children no longer live with both parents, posing dire consequences for their futures. Young men raised in broken families are more likely to go to prison. Young women in these circumstances are more likely to become pregnant as unwed teenagers. The dramatic decline of marriage is a major factor in the misery of many in our society.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals Roman Catholic * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
Treyvon’s case is emblematic of a quiet revolution in juvenile justice sweeping across the country. Driven by the high cost of incarceration and a growing understanding of adolescent behaviors, states and localities are launching initiatives to provide counseling, drug treatment, and other support for young offenders rather than locking them up. The idea is to save money – and try to keep them from committing more crimes by addressing their problems at the roots.
Lucas County, which includes Toledo, is one of the leaders in this movement. Juvenile Court officials here do the “my kid” test with every case. They want to ensure all young people are being treated fairly, and they live by the mantra “The right kid in the right place at the right time” – targeting services to their needs and taking care not to mix children who are unlikely to commit more crimes with high-risk youths.
But they also rely on research instead of just gut instinct. When it comes to deciding whether to lock up arrested youths – while awaiting a hearing or even after they’ve been judged to have done something wrong – they use standardized risk assessments.
As alternatives to lockup, they’ve built a “continuum of care” – various treatment options and levels of court monitoring – so most children can stay connected to family members, school staff, and community groups while reforming their ways.
Read it all.
The divorcing couple invited 50 people to the ceremony, which was followed by a wine and cheese reception. They spoke about the hopes they had when they first married and how they still cared for and respected each other. Then they burned a copy of their marriage certificate in a glass bowl using the candle they had lit at their wedding. Guests were invited to contribute a flower to a special “bouquet of love and affection.” At the end of the 45-minute service, the parting couple gave their weddings rings back to each other. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
If the idea of spouses dissolving their marriage in such a loving way sounds radically enlightened, well, even Meighan admits to a twinge of divorce-ceremony envy. When she split from her first husband more than 20 years ago, “there was too much pain” to formally mark their parting, she says. “But when I did that ceremony, I saw what a powerful healing process it could be.”
Forty percent of Canadian marriages end in divorce. Those who go through it commonly describe the experience as one of the most painful of their lives. Yet there are few established rituals that offer the emotional and spiritual closure couples often need. Some argue that marriages start with ceremony and should end the same way — that marking this significant life event can help prevent adversarial and costly court proceedings, reduce the emotional impact on children and allow the couple to move on. Separation rites can also help church communities when they find themselves caught in the middle of a marriage falling apart.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Canada * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
I know you better than any person on the planet, having now been married to you almost 40 years (June 21), so I say confidently you are the most extraordinary person I’ve ever met.
Of course I know your weaknesses, as you know mine, but they are NOTHING compared to your strengths. Your wisdom, your character, your gifts, and especially your willingness to always face the truth and never stop growing makes me want to be a better man, a better husband, father, and leader.
Read it all.
According to Christian understanding, in human existence, the personal is also capable of bearing the tragic, ground that is foreign to Modernity, its eradication being the goal of every Modern project. Boundaries are tragic for the ego – they say “no” to its unfettered demands. The “tragic” is viewed as any undesirable event or result in Modernity. It is viewed as suffering and is to be avoided, controlled and minimized.
Classical Christianity understands that the Cross is the way of life and that its paradox turns the tragic inside-out. For the Cross is not an unfortunate requirement, something God is forced to do in order to rescue sinful man. The tragedy of the Cross is also the pattern of healing, wholeness, well-being and eternal life. It is the revelation of true personhood.
All of the arguments regarding new definitions of marriage, aggressive reproductive technologies, gender re-definitions, etc., are made within a model that views any and all suffering as both tragic, needless and unacceptable if at all possible of alleviation. Such a line of reasoning was inevitably on a collision course with an ethic originally rooted in the Cross. The Christian view of personhood is an invitation to voluntary suffering and self-sacrifice. Nothing could be less modern.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Secularism * Theology Anthropology Christology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
Anglicans gathered with other faith leaders in London to set recommendations for how faith communities can work collaboratively, together with governments and national and international stakeholders, to end sexual violence in conflict. The two day inter-faith consultation was convened by the We Will Speak Out coalition and UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office – see our coverage of the meeting here.
The Anglicans taking part in the meeting were: Mathilde Nkwirikiye (Anglican Church of Burundi), Archbishop Henri Isingoma (Anglican Church of Congo), Revd Joseph Bilal (Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan), Vijula Arulanantham (Church of Ceylon), Archbishop Francisco de Assis da Silva (Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil), Bishop Margaret Vertue (Anglican Church of Southern Africa), Bishop Ellinah Ntfombi Wamukoya (Anglican Church of Southern Africa), Bishop Christopher Cocksworth (Church of England) and Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin (Church of England).
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Culture-Watch Children Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Psychology Sexuality Violence * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The United Methodist Church could have openly gay clergy and clergy could officiate at same-sex marriages if a proposal affirmed by a denomination-wide leadership body prevails.
The Connectional Table plans to draft legislation that members hope can be “a third way” in church’s long debate over homosexuality.
The body on Feb. 10 overwhelmingly affirmed a proposal to remove prohibitive language that makes it a chargeable offense under church law for clergy to be “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” or to officiate at same-sex weddings.
The action was not a formal vote, but the reported results of two hours of small-group discussions. The Connectional Table will take up proposed legislative language for an actual vote when it meets in May in Nashville, Tennessee.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Methodist Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths) * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
A new baptism service without mention of the devil was debated by members of the Church of England General Synod today
The synod, which sent the texts through to the next stage of the authorisation process, heard that the new texts are needed because the world has changed so much, even in the last 15 years.
Parents are turning up to have children baptised who have lost the language of Church, if they ever had it in the first place.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family * Theology Sacramental Theology Baptism
General Convention 2009 began to undermine the authority of the BCP when it authorized its Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to develop “theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same gender relationships” (Res. 2009C056; emphasis added)—all the while pretending that no changes were being made to traditional marriage as celebrated in the BCP. In response to its work, General Convention 2012 commended . . . for study and use in congregations and dioceses” certain rites for the “Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant in a same-sex relationship” (Res. 2012A049; emphasis added).
Do you see the subtle word games going on to this point? God forfend that General Convention should be doing anything to alter marriage as such; all it is purporting to do is to develop some experimental liturgical rites to celebrate “same-sex relationships”.
But now look at what has happened. The General Convention’s Task Force on the Study of Marriage has proposed to revise Canon I.18 (“On Marriage”). I’m not going to reproduce all of the proposed changes here; you can see them for yourself, at pp. 4-6 of the document at the link just given. Just notice, if you will, that as the title goes, so goes the Canon—the title is changed from “Of the Solemnization of Holy Matrimony” to “Of the Celebration and Blessing of Marriage.” The words “Holy Matrimony” are removed from Sections 1, 2 and 3, so that the Canon (if amended) will speak only to “marriage” as such; and no longer to what is defined by the Book of Common Prayer as “the union of a man and a woman.”
And what is the significance of that change? Seemingly it is rather subtle on the surface, but beneath the surface it runs very deep, into the heart of the Church....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Commentary Episcopal Church (TEC) Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
As we ponder this momentous ruling of our nation’s highest court, let us pray that the gifts of the Holy Spirit will guide all of us in our response: Above all, that the gifts of wisdom, right judgment and courage will flourish among us.
Moreover, we cannot fail to proclaim the gospel of life with both vigor and joy: that every life has an inherent God-given dignity from the moment of conception until life’s natural end. And let the words of St. Paul we heard in today’s second reading ring out in our minds and hearts: “If I proclaim the Gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the Gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16).
The mission ahead of us is not committed only to a few. Rather, it is mine; it is yours; it is ours.
With God’s help, which he offers in this Eucharist, may we fulfill this obligation to proclaim the Gospel for the welfare of all our brothers and sisters.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Canada * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
In 2015, 34% of Americans say they are satisfied with current U.S. abortion policies. This is the lowest percentage since Gallup first asked the question in 2001.
In three of four years since 2012, less than 40% of Americans have been satisfied. Yet between 2001 and 2008, at least 40% were satisfied every year. Gallup asks Americans about their satisfaction with the nation's policies regarding abortion as part of the annual Mood of the Nation Poll, conducted in January. The poll was not conducted from 2009-2011. Between 2001 and 2008, an average of 43% of Americans were satisfied with U.S. abortion policies; since 2012, the average has been 39%.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine History Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) can set and enforce hiring practices based on its Christian faith, the Six Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Thursday. Grounded heavily in the precedent set by the US Supreme Court’s significant Hosanna-Tabor decision in 2012, the verdict maintains that IVCF could legally fire an employee headed for divorce.
In 2013, Alyce Conlon, a former spiritual director at IVCF, filed a lawsuit challenging her firing. She was put on paid leave in 2011 after informing her supervisor she was considering divorce, and terminated that December for what she alleges was "failing to reconcile her marriage." (Her husband filed for divorce the following month.) Conlon claimed that two of her male colleagues in similar situations had not received the same treatment.
“Because IVCF is a religious organization and Conlon was a ministerial employee, IVCF’s decision to terminate her employment cannot be challenged under federal or state employment discrimination laws,” ruled the court. “It matters not whether the plaintiff is claiming a specific violation under Title VII or any other employment discrimination statute.”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Education Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
...Mr McKillop stresses that credit unions are only an alternative to payday lenders, not a competitor. “The model of very short-term lending is not good as a form of financial help. So though many credit unions can make instant loans, they will look at your finances and see if this is a one-off, a way for you to get back on top of your money.”
Last June, Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, launched a scheme to promote credit unions in churches and train volunteers to give financial advice. Martin Groombridge, chief executive of London Capital Credit Union, said it “definitely raised our profile”. Piloted in London and Liverpool, the scheme is set to be introduced around the UK in about a year, potentially marketing credit unions to hundreds of thousands more people.
The Rev Paul Collier, vicar at Copleston church and community centre in Peckham, south London, said debt and payday loans came up as a big concern in his conversations with local organisations, schools and other faith communities. “The older members of our congregation were educated by their parents to avoid debt at all costs, but many have seen their children getting into deep trouble,” he said.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Culture-Watch Children Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Personal Finance The Banking System/Sector * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Loneliness and isolation are England’s most widespread social problems and are common even in affluent middle class areas, according to a survey of vicars.
The number of clergy reporting that social isolation is a major problem in their area has risen by ten per cent in the past three years.
The survey published by the Church Urban Fund and the Church of England showed loneliness was the only issue to be cited by clergy as a significant problem in the majority of wealthier, as well as deprived areas.
Social isolation was listed as a more common problem than unemployment, homelessness and poor housing by the 1,812 clergy who completed the questionnaire.
Read it all from the Telegraph.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The procedure is not yet allowed anywhere else in the world, partly because it is new and untested in people but also because of the opposition that reproductive medicine often inspires. Mitochondria contain DNA, therefore any child born as a result of such intervention will inherit genes from three people—hence the headlines in Britain this week about “three-parent babies”. If the baby is a girl the genetic tweak in her mitochondria will be inherited by her children, and in turn by her granddaughters’ children. It is a “germ-line modification”, and thus irrevocable.
This ethical objection to mitochondrial donation is decisively outweighed by the good that ought to come from it. Mitochondrial disease is a misery to those who have it and a terror to those who fear they might pass it on to their children; curtailing it would be wonderful. The complaint that this is the first step on the road to “designer babies” is as weak as any other slippery-slope argument: approving one procedure does not mean automatically approving others.
A second objection is that this procedure, like any new technique, might not be safe. Those who must bear that risk are not yet born, and so cannot consent to the treatment. But parents already make medical decisions on behalf of their children, even unborn ones....
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FAW: After deployment in Afghanistan, Navy reservist Witherspoon ended up living with her mother and felt, she says, like “damaged goods.”
WITHERSPOON: How did I become homeless? Like where do I begin to look? How do I pick up these pieces, because at that point I felt broken, like somebody just pushed me down, and I just fell apart.
FAW: Deployed abroad twice, Army reservist Chiquita Pena, whose husband was also abroad, was jobless and needed a place to live with her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Nayeli. Final Salute got her back on her feet.
PENA: We stereotype homelessness with, you know, for lack of a better term, a hobo or bum or someone who’s a wino or drinking on the street. This is the new face of homelessness.
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The Church embodies God’s love in two ways: first, when it proclaims the coming of God’s kingdom and the call to repentance this involves and second, equally importantly, when it encourages and supports people as they go through the painful and difficult process of dying to their old selves and adopting a new way of life in obedience to God. So, returning to the debate about sexuality, we see that the Church’s privilege and responsibility is to proclaim the message of the Bible that God has created human beings in his image and likeness as men and women (Genesis 1:27) and that he wills that sex should only take place between men and women in the context of marriage (Genesis 2:24). All other forms of sexual activity, whether heterosexual or homosexual, are explicitly or implicitly viewed as contrary to God’s will and therefore to be avoided by God’s people.
The reason that Sam Allberry’s book is preferable to Alan Wilson’s is that, on the basis of reading the Bible with care and wisdom, Allberry re-affirms this biblical teaching and calls upon the Church to apply it in its teaching and its pastoral care. Wilson, on the other hand, interprets the Bible in a way that distorts the biblical teaching and effectively calls upon the Church to abandon people in their sinfulness by arguing that the Church should accept people’s same-sex activity and even bless it through marriage. This is not loving, because if acted upon, this would cut people off from experiencing God’s re-creative love and participating in his kingdom.
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Over the past decade, seminaries of all types have witnessed declining enrollments, especially in M.Div.
programs, the primary degree for those heading into parish ministry. Minority enrollment has shown a steady increase, with Hispanic enrollment leading the way (at a growth rate of 50 percent), but the overall trend is down. The slight growth in advanced degree programs (S.T.D., Ph.D., and Th.D.) and some master’s degree programs has also not compensated for the steady decline in enrollment for the M.Div. degree.
Distance education courses grew more than 100 percent over the decade, but enrollment at seminary extension centers began to decrease. It may be that distance education is pulling students away from extension centers. Time will tell if there is any net gain.
The past decade was difficult financially for most theological schools. Church support declined 24 percent from its high in 2006. Individual gifts grew steadily until 2008 but dropped sharply when the recession hit.
One way that schools compensate for this loss of income is to become more dependent on student tuition, and indeed tuition and fees rose steadily over the decade—by as much as 68 percent...
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MPs have an important free vote in the House of Commons today on the divisive issue of mitochondrial donation, which would allow the creation of IVF babies with DNA from three different people.
The MPs have come under enormous pressure from scientists and charities to support the historic and controversial amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act.
Britain will become the first country ever to allow the procedures if MPs vote yes. The amendment is aimed at preventing serious or deadly genetic disease being passed on to the child.
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California legislators have introduced assisted suicide legislation modeled on Oregon's assisted suicide law, energized by the heartbreaking story of Brittany Maynard, a young woman with brain cancer, who moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to Oregon to end her own life Nov. 1.
Before her suicide, Maynard, 29, created videos asking for assisted suicide legislation that drew tens of millions of views, and her mother and husband are now campaigning for legalization.
California S.B. 128, as it is called, would allow doctors to prescribe a lethal dose of medication to terminally ill patients who want to commit suicide. Written by Democratic Sens. Bill Monning and Lois Wolk, the bill has sparked strong opposition.
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Through the MPA, the Church of England contributed to this consultation process, affirming the aim of using mitochondrial replacement (or donation as it is also termed) while also differentiating between the two methodologies being proposed; one of which (pronuclear transfer – PNT) required embryos to be created as mitochondrial donors and recipients, the other (maternal spindle transfer) did not. Although the creation of embryos may be licensed by the HFEA, the MPA pointed out that PNT carried greater ethical concerns for many Christians and, indeed, those of other faiths or none.
More significantly, mitochondrial replacement involves modification of the human germ-line, with donor mitochondria being transmitted to future generations through the maternal line. As well as ensuring the techniques were as safe as possible, concerns were expressed that this would not be taken as approval for modifying defective mitochondrial genes that resided in the nucleus. Other concerns had to do with as yet unknown interactions between the DNA in the mitochondria and the DNA in the nucleus; these might potentially cause abnormality or be found to influence significant personal qualities or characteristics.
Such concerns were recognised by the HFEA in its work and recommendations to the secretaries of state.
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He came from Algeria seeking a better life, anticipating an escape from poverty, oppression, and hopelessness. In Paris, he found a low-skill job and had children and grandchildren. As French citizens, they had the right to an education and health care. But they grew up in the ghettos that ring France’s major cities, surrounded by families like theirs, literally on the margins of society. Unable to integrate fully, they had few opportunities for economic advancement. Paradise was never gained.
This story has been repeated millions of times in the countries of Western Europe, with immigrants and their families ending up poor and excluded. In the worst-case scenario, they are recruited by extremist groups that seem to offer what they are missing: a sense of belonging, identity, and purpose. After a lifetime of marginalization, participation in a larger cause can seem worth the lies, self-destruction, and even death that inclusion demands.
In the wake of the attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris and the thwarting of another attack in Belgium, Europe needs to take a good look at itself.
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The opponents of new technologies are always saying things have been rushed, as they did with fracking last week. It’s the last refuge of the person who wants to oppose something but has seen all his arguments shot down. And the change in the law will not create a free-for-all but merely allow clinicians to apply to the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA) for a licence. So each case will be scrutinised and approved by scientists, lawyers and ethicists, who are more competent to do so than your average MP.
Ever since Baroness Warnock’s pioneering report on embryo research in 1984, Britain has regulated advances in genetics and embryology by having parliament set the overall ethical and social tone, then devolving the detail to the HFEA, an approach that is internationally admired. The church is effectively asking parliament to be a regulator of medical research and practice.
Shockingly, I understand that Doug Turnbull, the Newcastle University scientist leading the mitochondrial research, had not once been invited by the archbishops’ council — which advised the Church of England on this decision — to present his case to them before they issued their fatwa against mitochondrial donation.
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As someone who supports all those other liberal causes, yet opposes physician-assisted suicide, I'd ask my fellow progressives to shine a cold hard light on this issue. We have been the target of a decades-long branding campaign that paints hastening death as an extension of personal freedoms. We should bring the same skepticism to physician-assisted suicide that we do to fracking and genetically modified food.
Groups such as Compassion and Choices, the nonprofit advocacy organization spearheading SB 128 and similar bills elsewhere, masterfully employ Orwellian propaganda techniques: Redefine words to mean what you want them to mean. Repeat key points until they acquire an unquestioned air of truth.
“Suicide” is distasteful, so they promote “physician aid-in-dying,” “death with dignity” and the “right to die.” And yet all of these mean taking action to end one's own life. The news media have largely adopted the assisted suicide movement's terminology, so these euphemisms are worth unpacking here.
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Americans are taking the money they are saving at the gas pump and socking it away, a sign of consumers’ persistent caution even when presented with an unexpected windfall.
This newfound commitment to frugality was illustrated this past week when the nation’s biggest payment-card companies said they aren’t seeing evidence consumers are putting their gasoline savings toward discretionary items like travel, home renovations and electronics.
Instead, people are more often putting the money aside for a rainy day or using it to pay down debt. That more Americans are saving their bounty at the pump comes as a surprise, because the personal savings rate, after rising during and after the recession, has declined steadily over the past two years.
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[joshua] Harris is the oldest of seven children of Gregg Harris, one of the early national leaders of the Christian home-schooling movement and a strong advocate of independent learning. Joshua was 21 when he wrote “I Kissed Dating Goodbye,” a memoir that became a cult classic to young evangelicals by urging them not only to hold off on sex but even dating — saying it was a form of promiscuity to spread around one’s emotional intimacy.
In the years since, nondenominational Christianity became more popular and loose. Informal networks of churches, groups and individuals have formed, such as the Vineyard, Willow Creek and the Gospel Coalition — the last of which Mahaney and Harris were leaders. But these are akin to social groups and not meant to hold one another accountable as denominational organizations often do....
Harris said he expects that studying at Regent College, a graduate school of theology, will broaden his perspective, including on accountability.
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A recent study from Duke University analyzed over 5,200 U.S. children who were born out of wedlock and recommended that unmarried parents marry before a child turns three so they'll create the strongest possible bond. Study author Christina Gibson-Davis writes: "If you think that stable marriage is beneficial for kids, very few kids born out of wedlock are experiencing that." Gibson also found that marriages are more likely to succeed if mothers marry biological fathers rather than a stepfather.
Many experts conclude that cohabitation puts children at risk for instability. As the rate of couples who live together without being married rises radically, children in America are more likely to experience cohabitation than divorce, according to W. Brad Wilcox, Director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia. Wilcox posits that they're also at risk for potential psychological and academic problems, poverty, instability, and child abuse. He writes, "Compared to marriage, cohabitation furnishes less commitment, stability, sexual fidelity, and safety for romantic partners and their children."
Consequently, cohabiting couples are more than twice as likely to breakup and four times as likely to be unfaithful to one another, compared with married couples. A recent study from Drs. Sheela Kennedy and Larry Bumpass found that 65 percent of children born to cohabitating parents saw their parents' breakup by age 12, compared to 24 percent born to married families.
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The ethics of becoming a parent and the ethics of being a parent seem to have a different character and different rules. For example, what counts as selflessness in the latter may be criticised as selfish in the former. Thus, on the model of the ethics of war, we may separate the ethics of parenthood into two phases, which might be parodied as jus ad parenthood and jus in parenthood.
The critique of parenthood as selfish relies on a strong distinction between becoming and being a parent, so that a parent's own selfless dedication to their children cannot count in their favour. The charge is that the decision to become a parent is a selfish one because it effectively hijacks society's sense of justice towards the needs of children once created to socialise the costs of a private and therefore necessarily self-interested lifestyle choice.
My concern in this article has been to reject the strong distinction between the ethics of becoming and the ethics of being a parent, and hence the claim that parenthood is selfish.
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Victims’ advocates on Thursday applauded Gov. Nikki Haley’s creation of a domestic violence task force that aims to change a culture in South Carolina that has enabled abusers and led to the deaths of hundreds of women.
Haley said the task force would focus on cultural issues contributing to the state being among the deadliest in the nation for women at the hands of husbands and partners while the Legislature continues its efforts to toughen penalties for batterers.
“Everybody in South Carolina knows about domestic violence, but nobody talks about it — they whisper,” Haley said during the announcement at the Statehouse. “That’s what we’re going to change in South Carolina.”
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Sharp divisions over sexuality mean that as many as 20 per cent of the Church of England may become disaffected, it emerged last week.
As the Church prepares to begin its "shared conversations", a formal process aimed at reconciling Anglicans with differing views on sexuality, it is being acknowledged that the fundamental nature of the division, rooted in different understandings of scripture, identity, and obedience, is likely to prove too much for those at both ends of the spectrum to agree to differ.
The difficulty appears to have been acknowledged by David Porter, the Archbishop of Canterbury's director for reconciliation, according to a Changing Attitude blog published last week.
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Sure, anti-Christian bigots will sometimes act like intolerant thugs, demanding that a Brendan Eich be fired, or calling for a conservative Christian college to conform to ideological liberalism in every respect. But when that happens, critics (like me) will denounce the bigots, drawing on resources from within the liberal tradition to defend the principle of tolerance for every American, secular and devout, against the illiberal do-gooders who prefer moral purity (as they define it) to freedom.
But that’s not good enough for Hanby, Weigel, and Dreher. They are in mourning for Christianity’s loss of cultural hegemony in the United States.
I’d like to suggest that they should get over it — that, rightly understood, Christianity can be most fully itself when it relinquishes political and cultural rule, when it ceases to identify itself so closely with any particular political order.
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The Nova Scotia Supreme Court has struck down a decision by the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society to deny graduates of British Columbia's Trinity Western University the right to practise law in the Maritime province.
The Christian university had asked the court to review the society's decision to deny accreditation to its graduates. It argued the law society overstepped its jurisdiction and failed to comply with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
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Dealing with the death of a loved one can be all consuming and overwhelming.
It’s not just the grief that can leave you shattered — but the admin.
You have to pick coffins, book flowers, transport, a church, hymns, an order of service, a venue, music, speeches and food (all within a budget) — and that’s just for starters.
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WHEN the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination line up on stage for their first debate in August, there may be three contenders whose fathers also ran for president. Whoever wins may face the wife of a former president next year. It is odd that a country founded on the principle of hostility to inherited status should be so tolerant of dynasties. Because America never had kings or lords, it sometimes seems less inclined to worry about signs that its elite is calcifying.
Thomas Jefferson drew a distinction between a natural aristocracy of the virtuous and talented, which was a blessing to a nation, and an artificial aristocracy founded on wealth and birth, which would slowly strangle it. Jefferson himself was a hybrid of these two types—a brilliant lawyer who inherited 11,000 acres and 135 slaves from his father-in-law—but the distinction proved durable. When the robber barons accumulated fortunes that made European princes envious, the combination of their own philanthropy, their children’s extravagance and federal trust-busting meant that Americans never discovered what it would be like to live in a country where the elite could reliably reproduce themselves.
Now they are beginning to find out...because today’s rich increasingly pass on to their children an asset that cannot be frittered away in a few nights at a casino. It is far more useful than wealth, and invulnerable to inheritance tax. It is brains.
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[Tameka] Hosendove’s oldest son, now a junior at Irmo High School, saw that his family had a need his mother couldn’t handle by herself. He turned to school social worker Donna Carroll for help.
In response, the Irmo High family lifted up the Hosendoves, providing food, clothing, diapers and housing assistance thanks to a fund supported, in part, by $1 donations teachers make in exchange for wearing jeans on Fridays.
Many Midlands schools care for their own in similar ways, recognizing their duties in the lives of their students beyond the classroom. When children face stressful circumstances in their home lives, the consequences spill over into the classroom – they’re hungry, tired, distressed, distracted – and that’s when schools step in to fill a much larger role than academic teaching.
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In one of his last interviews in the job he's held since February 2013, Hagel refers to the "hidden consequences" of "nonstop war" faced by American combat forces since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. He calls the situation "unprecedented in the history of this country."
He tells Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep that such a protracted combat role means that the same people keep rotating back to the front lines: "four, five, six combat tours — [the] same people."
Hagel says that when spoke with a group of six promising young U.S. military officers in a recent meeting, "five out of the six said they were uncertain over whether they were going to stay in the service and most likely would get out.
"And why? Because of family issues, because of stress and strain," he tells Inskeep.
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In his new memoir, Dear Father, J. Ivy describes the pain of being abandoned by his father. But the book is not just about that relationship and what might have been. It's a retracing of a unique career, and what it took for Ivy to get to the place he is today. A Grammy Award-winning poet and spoken-word artist, Ivy is also the author of the book HERE I AM: Then & Now and has collaborated with Kanye West and Jay-Z.
He tells NPR's Rachel Martin that his path to becoming a writer was a long one....
One of the chapters [in his new memoir] is actually titled ... "Forgiveness is Remembering to Forgive Again." And I learned that because there would be so many moments, you know so many life moments that would happen and ... I wish my father was there for me to pick up the phone and talk to him. A year and a half after that moment, after us reconnecting, he passed away. ... There was a lot of regret, which would lead back to those moments of anger. And there was guilt and there was sadness. And, you know, there were just these things that would reconjure in my mind. And it wasn't until I wrote this poem that I was able to exercise that forgiveness on a regular basis.
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In the wake of an interfaith Vatican conference on marriage two months ago, a coalition of Roman Catholics and evangelicals -- including Southern Baptist Timothy George -- has issued a statement calling the legalization of same-sex marriage "a graver threat" to society than either "easy acceptance of divorce" or "widespread cohabitation."
"We must say, as clearly as possible, that same-sex unions, even when sanctioned by the state, are not marriages," the statement, titled "The Two Shall Become One Flesh: Reclaiming Marriage," says. "Christians who wish to remain faithful to the Scriptures and Christian tradition cannot embrace this falsification of reality, irrespective of its status in law."
At least two additional Southern Baptists -- Rick Warren and Daniel Akin -- have endorsed the statement, which is slated to appear in the March 2015 issue of First Things, the journal's editor Russell Reno told Baptist Press. A list of approximately 30 Christian leaders to endorse the statement may include other Southern Baptists when it is finalized, Reno said.
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The first time he put a sidecar on his motorcycle, JD Whittaker was in Egypt, carting around radio equipment for the Air Force during the Cold War. When he got home, he built one for his family.
"Kids grow up and, of course, they want to bring their dog," said Whittaker, one of 18 riders and their dogs featured in "Sit. Stay. Ride: America's Sidecar Dogs," a Kickstarter-funded documentary. "When the kids are gone, all you've got left is the dog."
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...most viewers are likely unaware of what they are actually seeing. They are not merely watching an historical drama, they are witnessing the passing of a world. And that larger story, inadequately portrayed within Downton Abbey, is a story that should not be missed. That story is part of our own story as well. It is the story of the modern age arriving with revolutionary force, and with effects that continue to shape our own world.
Downton Abbey is set in the early decades of the twentieth century. Though by season four King George V is on the throne, the era is still classically Edwardian. And the era associated with King Edward VII is the era of the great turn in British society. The early decades of the twentieth century witnessed a great transformation in England and within the British Empire. The stable hierarchies of Downton Abbey grew increasingly unstable. Britain, which had been overwhelmingly a rural nation until the last decade of the nineteenth century, became increasingly urban. A transformation in morals changed the very character of the nation, and underlying it all was a great surge of secularization that set the stage for the emergence of the radically secular nation that Britain has become.
Viewers should note the almost complete absence of Christianity from the storyline. The village vicar is an occasional presence, and church ceremonies have briefly been portrayed. But Christianity as a belief system and a living faith is absent—as is the institutional presence of the Church of England.
Political life is also largely absent, addressed mainly as it directly affects the Crawleys and their estate. This amounts to a second great omission.
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Now, three weeks into my son’s preschool career and we are already jockeying for a position next year. I’ve spent three paychecks from my part-time job, plus multiple hours of work-at-home time to get the necessary forms filled out and notarized so he can stay in the school.
Earlier this week, a friend dropped off her son’s registration packet with me to hold on to for registration day, since she will be out of town. I asked her how this whole registration thing will go down.
She told me that moms start lining up at 9 a.m. My eyes glazed over. Now I’m starting the registration process again. I am not a stay-at-home-mom, I’m an agent.
Of course, it could be worse. I could be paying for both school AND an admissions coach, who helps parents navigate getting into the best preschools in Manhattan, which cost upwards of $40K in tuition.
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It should have been a fun occasion – a boy’s birthday party at a tobogganing centre, complete with tea and balloons.
But the event has now turned into the focus of a public row between two families after the mother of the boy holding the party sent a formal invoice to the parents of his friend Alex for a “party no-show fee”.
The document, which included an invoice number, charged Tanya Walsh and Derek Nash £15.95 for the cost of their five-year-old son’s non-attendance at the event, held during the Christmas holidays.
And the Nashes are now being threatened with action at the small claims court if they refuse to pay up, while the mother of the birthday boy has banned her son from ever playing with Alex again.
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In 1979, Larry Lewis picked up a copy of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and saw a full-page ad listing the Southern Baptist Convention among denominations that affirmed the right to abortion.
"Right there beside the Unitarians and universalists was the Southern Baptist Convention," Lewis, a St. Louis pastor who went on to become president of the Home Mission Board (now the North American Mission Board), told Baptist Press. "... That bothered me a lot."
So Lewis did something about it, proposing in 1980 the first of more than 20 pro-life resolutions adopted by the SBC over the next few decades. When Lewis became HMB president of in 1987, one of his first actions was to create the office of abortion alternatives to help churches establish crisis pregnancy centers.
Thanks to Lewis and others, newspapers do not call the SBC pro-choice anymore.
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In October, Seacoast’s Mount Pleasant Campus pastor took the stage to tell its 14,000 weekend attendees that he felt God calling the church to alleviate, even end, the local foster care crisis.
A few weeks later, 550 church members showed up for two interest meetings to learn more. An orientation meeting drew nearly 100 serious about becoming foster parents, almost as many people as licensed foster homes existing in Charleston County today.
Next week, the first series of foster parents licensing classes is full with 20 couples.
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How big a problem is family fragmentation? “Immense,” says Mitch Pearlstein, head of the Minnesota think tank Center of the American Experiment. “The biggest domestic problem facing this country.”
So big he went out and interviewed 40 experts of varying ideology across the nation and relayed their answers in his book Broken Bonds: What Family Fragmentation Means for America’s Future. That’s the good news. The bad news is that none of the experts is confident he has an answer, and neither is Pearlstein.
What is family fragmentation? The facts are easy to state. About 40 percent of babies born in America these days are born outside of marriage. That’s true of about 30 percent of non-Hispanic whites, more than 50 percent of Hispanics and more than 70 percent of blacks.
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For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families, according to a new analysis of 2013 federal data, a statistic that has profound implications for the nation.
The Southern Education Foundation reports that 51 percent of students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in the 2012-2013 school year were eligible for the federal program that provides free and reduced-price lunches. The lunch program is a rough proxy for poverty, but the explosion in the number of needy children in the nation’s public classrooms is a recent phenomenon that has been gaining attention among educators, public officials and researchers.
“We’ve all known this was the trend, that we would get to a majority, but it’s here sooner rather than later,” said Michael A. Rebell of the Campaign for Educational Equity at Teachers College at Columbia University, noting that the poverty rate has been increasing even as the economy has improved. “A lot of people at the top are doing much better, but the people at the bottom are not doing better at all. Those are the people who have the most children and send their children to public school.”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Education Marriage & Family Poverty * Economics, Politics Economy Personal Finance Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Supreme Court announced Friday it will decide this term a historic question about whether the Constitution requires same-sex couples be allowed to marry or whether states are free to limit marriage to its traditional definition as a union only between a man and a woman.
The court will answer a question left open when it last confronted the issue in 2013 and said that a key portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional and in a separate case allowed same-sex marriages to resume in California.
The court Friday accepted cases from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, where restrictions about same-sex marriage were upheld by an appeals court, to confront the issue. The court will hear oral arguments in April and decide the issue by the time justices adjourn in June.
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After high school, I attended a Christian liberal arts college. In the first semester of my freshman year, I signed up for a course with a brilliant, articulate, recently minted DPhil graduate of Oxford University. The textbook for our introduction to the Bible course was Jesus: A New Vision, by Marcus J. Borg, a prominent fellow of the Jesus Seminar. The scholarly project intended to discover “the historical Jesus” apart from creedal commitments or church teaching....
For me, this dose of higher criticism was nearly lethal. Any sense that the Bible was divinely inspired and trustworthy, or that the creeds had metaphysical gravitas, started to seem implausible. The best I could muster was that, somehow mystically, perhaps Jesus was the Christ, existentially speaking....
When I told my father what I was thinking, he was alarmed. He recommended different apologetics works that defended biblical authority. I sloughed them off. Keep in mind that this was an era before figures such as Craig Blomberg, N. T. Wright, and Luke Timothy Johnson had gained notoriety among evangelicals and had written their best work on the historical reliability of the Scriptures.
Then Dad had a brainstorm. He knew that I was enamored with modern philosophy. So one day when I phoned home, he said, “There’s an evangelical theologian who might interest you. His PhD is in philosophy....His name is Carl F. H. Henry. Find the volumes of God, Revelation, and Authority in your library, and read them before you decide to give up the faith.”
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture * Theology Seminary / Theological Education
Declining population growth that shrinks the pool of available labor over the next 50 years will reduce by 40% the rate of growth in global economic output for the world’s 20 largest economies compared to the past 50 years, according to a new study.
The report from the McKinsey Global Institute says that to compensate for the drop in the growth of the labor force, productivity needs to accelerate 80% from its historical rate to keep global growth in gross domestic product from slowing.
Over the past 50 years, global growth increased six-fold, and average per capita income nearly tripled. McKinsey researchers estimate that around half the increase stemmed from gains in productivity and half from the growing labor force.
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Legal experts and the police said a law allowing assisted suicide in Scotland needed more clarity in order to remove the risk of someone being prosecuted.
There is a "fine line" between assisting someone killing themselves and an act of euthanasia which could result in criminal charges, MSPs heard.
The plans, contained in a backbench bill, have widespread public backing, said supporters.
But opponents believed such a move was "unethical and uncontrollable".
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You can find the background there and today's news is here.
I write today to let you know that after much prayer and consideration, I am convinced that the time has come for me to retire from my position as Rector of the Church of the Holy Cross. I believe that I have run my portion of the good race and that it is right for me to pass the baton to the next generation.
I am excited and delighted to tell you that Bishop Lawrence met in a private session with your vestry (without my presence) and after prayer and discussion the vestry unanimously chose Chris Warner to become our next rector. I am of the opinion that there is no better person for the position anywhere.
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The Connecticut Supreme Court's ruling that 17-year-old Cassandra could be forced to undergo cancer treatment sparked thousands of impassioned comments on NPR.org and Facebook.
Cassandra, who is being identified by her first name because she is a minor, had been removed from her home and put in the custody of child welfare authorities after she said she didn't want chemotherapy for Hodgkin lymphoma.
The state and her doctors said that without treatment, she would die. With treatment, she has an 85 percent chance of survival.
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A group of atheists in Rochester, N.Y., has bad news for the Good News Club, a Christian after-school club for children.
The group, consisting of atheists, humanists and skeptics, announced its own after-school program: a Young Skeptics club featuring science, logic and learning activities.
Young Skeptics is being sponsored by a volunteer-led group calling itself “The Better News Club.” Its members come from the Atheist Community of Rochester — the same group that offered the first atheist invocation before a town meeting in Greece, N.Y., after the Supreme Court ruled in May that public meetings could begin with sectarian prayers.
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For some years I worked in two parts of the West Midlands—wonderful places to live and work; I have many friends there still—but they were both characterised as areas that had extremely low aspirations. It was one thing to change the school but if the child went home and was told repeatedly, “Actually, that sort of thing does not make any difference to us. You are wasting your time”, all the work was undone. There needs to be a profound social and cultural change in the family as well.
That was one of the things that struck me when I was reading the comments in the interim report of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility, which reported back in 2012. It summarised its conclusions into seven “key truths”. I will pick out just the first four, which show precisely this connection. The first key truth was:
“The point of greatest leverage for social mobility is what happens between ages 0 and 3, primarily in the home”.
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A show opened in New York recently that didn't get a whole lot of attention, but it features some of the most powerful singing voices you've never heard. You haven't heard them because for most of the performers, this is their first time on the stage. They've been singing their whole lives -- in church, in amateur groups, in the shower -- but like so many who had dreams of making it big, life somehow got in the way.
The show was created by a theater producer and former disc jockey named Vy Higginsen, who has made it her mission to preserve a special part of American culture: African-American music, both gospel and popular music like soul and R&B. She found a pool of untapped talent, men and women in what she calls their "second half of life" just waiting for their chance to shine.
Read (or better watch) it all.
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Oregon holds on to its title as "Top Moving Destination" and continues to pull away from the pack, while the Northeast loses residents for the third consecutive year.
Those are the key findings from United Van Lines' 38th Annual National Movers Study, which tracks customers' migration patterns state-to-state during the course of the past year. The study found that Oregon is the top moving destination of 2014, with 66 percent of moves to and from the state being inbound — that's a nearly 5 percent increase of inbound moves compared to 2013. Arriving at No. 2 on the list was South Carolina (61 percent inbound), followed closely in third by its northern neighbor, North Carolina (61 percent).
The District of Columbia, which held the top spot on the inbound list from 2008 to 2012 and ranked fourth last year, fell to No. 7 this year with 57 percent inbound moves. New additions to the 2014 top inbound list include Vermont (59 percent), Oklahoma (57 percent) and Idaho (56 percent).
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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."
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We could honestly and accurately describe it as a mystagogy of marriage. He wants us to move from the icon to the reality. Still, he insists that we must also learn to venerate the icon. “Learn the power of the type,” he says, “so that you may learn the strength of the truth.”
It is important for us to realize that John’s mature doctrine of marriage is almost unique in ancient Christianity. His contemporaries tended to look upon marriage as an institution that was passing away, as more and more Christians turned to celibacy. The best thing Jerome could say about marriage was that it produced future celibates. In Antioch in John’s day, there were 3,000 consecrated virgins and widows in a city of perhaps 250,000, and that number does not include the celibate men in brotherhoods or the hermits who filled the nearby mountains.
Yet John glorified marriage. It pained him that Christian couples continued to practice the old, obscene pagan wedding customs. So shameful were these practices that few couples dared to invite their parish priest to attend and give a blessing.
“Is the wedding then a theater?” he told them in a sermon. “It is a sacrament, a mystery, and a model of the Church of Christ. . . . They dance at pagan ceremonies; but at ours, silence and decorum should prevail, respect and modesty. Here a great mystery is accomplished.”
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Dr. Seitz, one of the pledge’s authors, said that as an academic he does not “do the kind of weddings on a regular basis as someone whose full-time job” is in the clergy. And many of those who have signed his pledge appear to be laypeople, or women in traditions in which women do not perform weddings. Like them, he is mostly an observer, and one of his observations is that we are in “a funny time.”
If marriage moves toward becoming just “a contract between two people, the state can take care of that,” Dr. Seitz said. “And it makes a lot of sense — property, custody of children.” But he believes that marriage needs more, and that the state may be weakening, rather than enhancing, the customs and mores that uphold the institution.
Dr. Radner, the pledge’s other author, is on sabbatical in France, which has long separated religious marriage from civil marriage. Seeing the separation up close has only made him more of a fan.
“Just living here made me realize that the church can function rather well,” he said, “and also avoid some of the conflict that we seem to get all embroiled in in the U.S. over sexuality matters, by being somewhat disentangled, practically, from the civil marriage system.”
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Americans tend to lack imagination when it comes to breakfast. The vast majority of us, surveys say, start our days with cold cereal — and those of us with children are more likely to buy the kinds with the most sugar. Children all over the world eat cornflakes and drink chocolate milk, of course, but in many places they also eat things that would strike the average American palate as strange, or worse.
Breakfast for a child in Burkina Faso, for example, might well include millet-seed porridge; in Japan, rice and a putrid soybean goop known as natto; in Jamaica, a mush of plantains or peanuts or cornmeal; in New Zealand, toast covered with Vegemite, a salty paste made of brewer’s yeast; and in China, jook, a rice gruel topped with pickled tofu, strings of dried meat or egg. In Cuba, Brazil and elsewhere in Latin America, it is not uncommon to find very young children sipping coffee with milk in the mornings. In Pakistan, kids often take their milk with Rooh Afza, a bright red syrup made from fruits, flowers and herbs. Swedish filmjolk is one of dozens of iterations of soured milk found on breakfast tables across Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. For a child in southern India, the day might start with a steamed cake made from fermented lentils and rice called idli. “The idea that children should have bland, sweet food is a very industrial presumption,” says Krishnendu Ray, a professor of food studies at New York University who grew up in India. “In many parts of the world, breakfast is tepid, sour, fermented and savory.”
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Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Bernard Membe has hailed the Anglican Church of Tanzania (ACT) for standing firm and rejecting same sex marriages unlike some other churches in the West.
Mr Membe told the congregation that had gathered to mark the 50th anniversary of the Dar es Salaam Diocese in the city that he was encouraged when the church in Tanzania stood firm and stressed to its foreign counterparts that same sex marriages will not be allowed in this country.
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Allan Edwards is the pastor of Kiski Valley Presbyterian Church in western Pennsylvania, a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America. He's attracted to men, but considers acting on that attraction a sin. Accordingly, Edwards has chosen not to act on it.
"I think we all have part of our desires that we choose not to act on, right?" he says. "So for me, it's not just that the religion was important to me, but communion with a God who loves me, who accepts me right where I am."
Where he is now is married. He and his wife, Leanne Edwards, are joyfully expecting a baby in July.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Filed under: * By Kendall Harmon Family * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Christmas * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family * General Interest Photos/Photography
Try to be as specific as you can as it will help readers enjoy it more--KSH.
Alzheimer's patients are finding their voices again with the help of music.
Take the time to watch the whole heartwarming story (only a couple of minutes).
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Children Health & Medicine Marriage & Family Music * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
[Archbp Fred] Hiltz also met with Nigel Stock, the bishop at Lambeth, about when and what the next primates’ meeting would look like. Hiltz said that although Welby had invited all primates to indicate support for a meeting, it was unlikely that there would be one before the end of 2015. The primates last met in 2011.
Hiltz also expressed hope that the next primates’ meeting would not be dominated by a single issue. “If we’re going to have a primates’ meeting, we need not ignore the same-sex marriage stuff, but we ought not to allow it to dominate,” he said. “The Archbishop himself said he wants to focus on prayer, evangelism and reconciliation.”
Another significant point of conversation was around the possibility of an Anglican Congress. “I think an Anglican Congress would be a great thing,” said Hiltz. “A Congress that was focussed around the church in and for the world could make for some very interesting conversations.” Although such a Congress would take some time to plan, Hiltz was optimistic about the effects it could have. He noted that the Anglican Consultative Council would have to be the driving force behind it. “It would take a lot of careful planning,” he said, “but I think it is time.” The last Anglican Congress was held in Toronto in 1963.
- See more at: http://www.anglicanjournal.com/articles/hiltz-and-welby-discuss-marriage-canon-reconciliation#sthash.VXWT2mYW.dpuf
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In truth, we Christians have been losing our traditions for centuries. Misplaced, misappropriated, misapplied—we have pulled the rich timbre from original intent, given ourselves over to cheap plastic toys and premade wassail. We have hurried the season because to us, Christmas is a day and not a season at all.
For our Orthodox brothers and sisters, though, the feasts during the days after Christmas not only mark time but also insert intentional delay in a world gone mad for Christmas kitsch. History aside, we have for centuries chosen to celebrate his coming on December 25. It has become a placeholder of a day when some of us remember that Jesus is the reason for the season. But then we go to bed, full of Christmas spirit, and wake up to traffic and spilled lattes and kids who want to spend their gift cards today. Where are the good feelings now?
For the early church, the purpose for 12 days of feasting following Christmas Day was to bring them to the edge of Epiphany. If, for various reasons, we do not entertain the liturgy of the days, can we at least entertain the purposes?
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I don’t know what a perfect first-century family looked like, but I’m certain that Joseph and Mary didn’t fit the ideal. Joseph had no money. He had no safe place for his wife to give birth and no plausible explanation for her pregnancy. How scared they must have been. Their family was turned upside down before it even began.
I know about unusual families. I come from one. There is a picture in one of my mother’s photo albums of the day she and my stepfather were married. They are holding hands and looking pleased but also totally overwhelmed. Each had lost a spouse to cancer only 18 months before. Their kids are on either side of them—six teenagers with mouths stuffed full of braces, heads full of regrettable ’80s hair, each one of them with a dead look in his or her eyes. When I look at that picture and see my biological sister, my adopted sister, three step-siblings whom I didn’t know, my stepfather, my mother and me, I don’t see an ideal family. I see something quite unusual.
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What can we expect of the Shared Conversations?
By Stephen Hofmeyr QC, Acting Chairman of the Church of England Evangelical Council, writing in the Church of England Newspaper.
The Church of England is embarking on a process of “shared conversations” which has two objectives. The first objective is ‘to clarify how we can most effectively be a missionary church in a culture which has changed its view on human sexuality’. Amen! The revealed truth of the gospel is God’s truth for all people, everywhere, in every age. Therefore, the issue about being an effective missionary church is not about whether we are free to change what God has taught, but how to communicate God’s truth in a culture that has changed its view. In areas of human sexuality, that will require a communication of the Bible’s teaching about the body and sexuality which a generation ago would have gone without saying. So long as the scope of this first objective is correctly understood, it presents a wonderful opportunity. The second objective is ‘to clarify the implications of what it means for the Church of England to live with … “good disagreement” on these issues’. What are the possible outcomes of these shared conversations?
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
Regulations for controversial techniques to create three and four-parent babies have been published.
MPs and Peers will vote early in the new year on allowing the two procedures, Maternal Spindle Transfer (MST) and Pro-Nuclear Transfer (PNT).
MST involves replacing the nucleus in a healthy donor egg with the nuclear DNA from the prospective mother – resulting in a child with DNA from three parents....
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I' ve worked up a good lather in the so-called “culture war” around homosexuality and same-sex marriage for about two decades now. And I’m just as committed to the Christian view on sexuality as I am to engaging the issue in spirited and civil debate. However, to debate the issue seriously and truthfully, we must seek an honest picture of what our opponents actually believe — working from what we think they believe is neither helpful nor respectful.
While there are people of many diverse beliefs and convictions — including gay and lesbian people — who oppose same-sex marriage, here are 10 foundational truths that inform the traditional, orthodox Christian belief.
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Parents have spoken of their disgust after a clergywoman told children that Father Christmas is not real.
Rev Margaret McPhee made the mistake during a choir concert for primary school children from Stalham Academy, in Norfolk.
During the service at St Mary's Church in the town, the curate asked pupils what they thought Christmas was about.
When one child said "Father Christmas", she replied that he was make-believe and not real.
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lzheimer’s disease is by far the most common cause of dementia and one of the world’s most feared disorders. By 2050, there will be 135 million Alzheimer’s sufferers worldwide, a threefold increase from today, with three-quarters of cases occurring in low- and middle-income countries. Predicting the onset of Alzheimer’s, let alone preventing or curing it, remains an immense challenge.
Alzheimer’s disease was identified more than a century ago from autopsy results that showed characteristic brain lesions called “amyloid plaques.” The disease is more difficult to diagnose in the living. Doctors rely on observation of memory loss and other thinking deficits (such as reasoning or language comprehension) – signs that plaques are already present in the brain. But any cure would have to be administered before the plaques form, and years before symptoms of dementia appear.
Alzheimer’s might be more predictable if scientists had the time and resources to conduct far-reaching longitudinal studies over many years. Such studies ideally would involve blood, imaging, memory, and medical tests, as well as detailed lifestyle questionnaires filled out by thousands of young and middle-aged people. Study participants would be followed over decades to see who developed the disease, and which tests proved positive before Alzheimer’s was diagnosed.
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It was the end of his sixth deployment, with barely a month left, the last mission at hand. And nothing was going right.
The best man in his wedding, a man he'd served with since entering the Marines, was hit by an explosive device, burning the man's entire body and claiming three of his limbs.
Then, a helicopter crash killed two American servicemen and several Afghan forces.
Last came the ambush.
Read it all and you can find more about Operation Homefront there.
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The American economy has stopped delivering the broadly shared prosperity that the nation grew accustomed to after World War II. The explanation for why that is begins with the millions of middle-class jobs that vanished over the past 25 years, and with what happened to the men and women who once held those jobs.
Millions of Americans are working harder than ever just to keep from falling behind; Green is one of them. Those workers have been devalued in the eyes of the economy, pushed into jobs that pay them much less than the ones they once had.
Today, a shrinking share of Americans are working middle-class jobs, and collectively, they earn less of the nation’s income than they used to. In 1981, according to the Pew Research Center, 59 percent of American adults were classified as “middle income” — which means their household income was between two-thirds and double the nation’s median income. By 2011, it was down to 51 percent. In that time, the “middle” group’s share of the national income pie fell from 60 percent to 45 percent.
For that, you can blame the past three recessions, which sparked a chain reaction of layoffs and lower pay.
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Within the past year, a series of experiences brought the Rev. Jerome Anderson to his knees.
Not in a posture of defeat, but humble submission to God’s plan.
As a leader in the Christian community, Anderson is accustomed to counseling people during life’s darkest moments, helping them to not just find light at the end of the tunnel, but teaching them how to apply scripture to their situation.
A timeline of the past 18 months of the minister’s life is parallel to the Biblical account of the sufferings of Job in the Old Testament that depicts love, long-suffering and restoration.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture * South Carolina * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theodicy
There is a lot of talk about the decline of the traditional family. Indeed, after remaining steady for more than a decade, the rate of marriage fell last year to a record low. Nevertheless, a new book argues that there remains something powerful about the institution and the role it plays in our lives.
"For decades, we have heard that marriage is on the wane, in Australia and across the secular West," sociologist Dr Genevieve Heard argues in the introduction to Family Formation in 21st Century Australia.
"It may be more accurate to claim that Australians are spending less time within the institution of marriage. This is because Australians are marrying later and are not necessarily remaining married for life ... It is difficult to argue that marriage is on the wane when the institution remains the dominant partnership model for adult Australians."
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One day in 1967, Bob Thompson sprayed foam on a hunk of metal in a cavernous factory south of Los Angeles. And then another day, not too long after, he sat at a long wood bar with a black-and-white television hanging over it, and he watched that hunk of metal land a man on the moon.
On July 20, 1969 — the day of the landing — Thompson sipped his Budweiser and thought about all the people who had ever stared at that moon. Kings and queens and Jesus Christ himself. He marveled at how when it came time to reach it, the job started in Downey. The bartender wept.
On a warm day, almost a half-century later, Thompson curled his mouth beneath a white beard and talked about the bar that fell to make way for a freeway, the space-age factory that closed down and the town that is still waiting for its next great economic rocket, its new starship to the middle class.
They’ve waited more than a decade in Downey. They’ve tried all the usual tricks to bring good-paying jobs back to the 77-acre plot of dirt where once stood a factory that made moon landers and, later, space shuttles. Nothing brought back the good jobs.
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Less than a month after South Carolina began recognizing gay marriages, the state on Friday approved its first same-sex divorce.
Maria Hamar and her now ex-wife, who requested that she not be identified, were married in New York in the fall of 2011, according to court documents that were filed Oct. 31 in Charleston County.
The couple separated two years later, and ultimately dissolved their marriage this week before Family Court Judge Jerry Vinson.
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A new troubling trend marks the U.S. church: the decline in Catholic funerals. It will affect Catholic life in the future if a basic tradition dies out. It also affects pastoral life now if people deprive themselves of closure after the death of a loved one.
Those for whom funeral rites are not celebrated today have often been lifelong Catholics who presume their children will arrange a traditional funeral for them when they die. Some parents may want to alert offspring that they want a funeral Mass.
In 1970, according to statistics from the Georgetown University-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), there were 426,309 Catholic funerals in the United States. More than 40 years later, in 2011, there were 412,145, a decrease despite an increased U.S. Catholic population over that time.
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Not all lawyers agree that gay rights are being violated in this case. Not all Christians agree a true expression of Christianity is being extended in this case. But at the core of this fight, this is not an argument over what kind of sex students should or shouldn’t be allowed to have.
What we’re really fighting over is the right to diversity. Lost in the fireworks of this case is that Canadian students choose TWU and its Covenant because it reflects their identity. Mr. Ruby’s and the Law Societies fight imply that such identity can’t be trusted in their definitions of public life.
“Within the confines of religion, the most inane nonsense can be believed and practiced and passed on to one’s children. That’s freedom of religion, have a nice time. But when you go to the government and say I want your approval for this, I want tax status for this, then it’s beyond mere freedom of religion, there has to be a primacy for the right to equality,” Mr. Ruby said.
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The National Center for Health Statistics just released its latest data brief summarising the bleak news.
There were only 3.9m births in the US in 2013, according to the report, down about 1% from 2012. The general fertility rate also declined 1% in 2013 to another record low: 62.5 per 1,000 women aged 15–44.
The truth is, birth numbers have been in decline for six straight years, dropping 9% from its peak in 2007, according to the report.
If a slow economy is bad news for the birth rate, it also works the other way: declining fertility and birth rates are bad for the economy. Shrinking labor forces, weaker social security, and other consequences soon follow.
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Pastors should stop signing state-issued marriage licenses. They should stop immediately. Individuals and organizations whose agenda is murky at best are hijacking the marriage debate. We have stopped asking the right questions and started reacting to the debate swirling around us.
On the one hand are people who want to radically redefine marriage in the eyes of the state. They are advocating for open and equal access to the benefits given by the state to married individuals. They want tax benefits, inheritance rights and parental privileges that are automatically given to people who marry.
To this group, pastors and churches need to have a simple and clear answer: “Blessings on you. I don’t need to get a benefit from the government that you cannot get. My contracts should not be better than your contracts. Your kids should be as protected as my kids.”
The only way I can with good conscience say this is if I am no longer part of the civil process. No functionary of any religion ought to be able to finalize a marriage contract individuals are making with the state. It is an abhorrent intermingling of church and state. Until the state sees this clearly and changes its rules, we should abandon the system voluntarily.
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