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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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...what are the specific behaviors that get couples through the decades? For starters, long-lasting couples adopt a commitment to “marital permanency,” says W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project and associate professor of sociology at the University of Virginia. “They don’t see divorce as an option.” That’s vital given that even the happiest marriages aren’t always happy.
They also work hard to master effective communication — not just talking, but listening. And such couples make generosity and kindness habitual, committing small acts of service, like cleaning up without being asked. They’re willing to forgive their spouse’s faults and failings. They treat each other with respect.
There’s one other thing long-married couples devote effort to: keeping their marriage interesting. Even after decades together they carve out time as a couple, take an interest in each other’s passions and take steps to foster intimacy.
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Marriage is rooted in and arises from the natural complementarity of men and women, and this complementarity is ordered to, even if it does not always issue in, the procreation and rearing of children. Though couples make an intentional choice to marry, marriage is more than an intentional arrangement. Marrying couples enter into an institution that is naturally ordered to certain ends and that naturally provides certain goods. In the words of the Vatican II document Gaudium et Spes,
[B]y that human act whereby spouses mutually bestow and accept each other, a relationship arises which by divine will, and in the eyes of society too, is a lasting one. For the good of the spouses and their offspring as well as of society, the existence of the sacred bond no longer depends on human decisions alone. For God Himself is the author of matrimony, endowed as it is with various benefits and purposes.Herein lies the principal danger to marriage in this court-imposed legislation. Post-Obergefell, marriage is no longer understood as ordered to the completion and fulfillment of our nature. Rather, it is merely the fulfillment of our desires—for now. And if all marital arrangements are merely intentional acts of will, there is no longer any principled reason to object to anyone's act of will, desire, or intention if he claims it is sincere: "It's natural to have desires," the argument goes, "so whatever you sincerely desire is 'natural.'" But a marriage entirely of our making is not a marriage at all. In short, Obergefell spells the end of a coherent understanding of marriage.
Read it all.
Vicar of Battersea (Southwark) and Prolocutor of the Convocation of Canterbury in General Synod, Canon Simon Butler, an openly gay priest, told us he has not interpreted the actions of the Primates’ Meeting as primarily an attack on The Episcopal Church (TEC USA) or on LGBT people, but instead has come to see it as reaffirmation of the bonds of communion from the Primates.
He said it was a statement of love and fellowship that steadfastly refuses to exclude American Anglicans, including those who are LGBT, while at the same time reaffirming ‘what cannot be but obvious to most people’ – that the majority of the Communion’s member Churches have not reached the point where they can go along with TEC’s position.
“The Primates’ ‘consequences’ should not, I believe, be seen as punitive, but as a reflection of the current state of play in the Communion with respect to marriage equality,” he said.
“The same must be true of the current situation in the Church of England,” he said. “Like it or not, those who wish to see our Church change its position have to accept that we have not done so yet. That may be an offence to the Gospel for some of us – and an enormous mission challenge among the under-40s in most of our urban and graduate cultures – but it is the reality.
“We have not yet changed enough minds.”
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
New research suggests that not only is there no end in sight, but there are few signs of hope for revival in rapidly aging, shrinking groups such as the Episcopal Church, the United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Consider these findings from two of the largest surveys of U.S. congregations:
• In just the last five years, the percentage of mainline Protestant congregations where more than one-fifth are ages 18 to 35 has decreased dramatically. In 2010, some 4.8 percent of mainline congregations reported having that large a proportion of young adults in the pews; by 2015, just 1.3 percent reported that high a percentage, according to initial findings from the 2015 Faith Communities Today (FACT) survey.
• Children made up just 16 percent of regular attenders in mainline Protestant congregations, compared to an average of 29 percent in other Christian traditions, according to a new analysis of the 2012 wave of the National Congregations Study (NCS).
• Mainline Protestants recorded a nearly 30 percent decline – from 24 percent in 1998 to 17 percent in 2012 – in the proportion of its members filling U.S. pews, the NCS study found.
• In the 2005 FACT survey, a little more than half of mainline churches said fewer than 100 people on average were at weekend worship; in 2015, nearly two-thirds attracted less than 100 worshippers. Sociologist David Roozen, a FACT study director, reported the findings at the annual meeting of the Religious Research Association.
How serious are the numbers?
“It might already be beyond that point” where a significant recovery is possible, said Duke University sociologist Mark Chaves, NCS director and author of “American Religion: Contemporary Trends.”
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Children History Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sociology * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Methodist Pentecostal * Theology
Last month, the archbishops of the Anglican Communion voted to temporarily kick the American branch of the Communion, the Episcopal Church, out of its international association to a degree for its acceptance of gays and lesbians.
Two-thirds of the 37 leaders of the Communion voted for the censorship, suspending the Episcopal Church from voting and decision-making for the next three years.
While the decision is said to have derived from the Episcopal Church’s decision in July of last year to allow its priests to perform same-sex marriages, Father Joe Mikel, priest at St. Timothy Episcopal Church in Chehalis, agrees with the Episcopal Church’s acceptance.
“If you’re gay, a lesbian, transgender human being, do I throw you on the ash heap of life?” Mikel asked. “Are they human beings? Do they need love? Do they long for inclusion and forgiveness … just like me?”
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Primates Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Primates Primates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016 Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Parishes * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
"I'd thought about the families that were bombed. There was one in which the package arrived to the man's home and his little 2-year-old daughter was there. She was almost in the room when he opened the package. Luckily she left, and his wife left. And then he died," Patrik told ABC News' Byron Pitts. "And there were others. And so I spent those days thinking about those people."
Between 1978 and 1995, Kaczynski placed or mailed 16 bombs that killed three people and injured 23 others, according to authorities.
In 1995, before he was identified as the Unabomber, he demanded newspapers to publish a long manuscript he had written, saying the killings would continue otherwise. Both the New York Times and Washington Post published the 35,000-word manifesto later that year at the recommendation of the Attorney General and the Director of the FBI.
A professor of philosophy, Patrik recognized familiar sounding ideas in the manuscript from letters her husband David Kaczynski had received from his older brother Ted, including a 23-page essay in which he raged against the modern world. In the essay, Ted wrote phrases such as, "Technology has already made it impossible for us to live as physically independent beings."
Read it all (or watch the video which is recommended).
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Psychology Mental Illness * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Theodicy
1.) Religious congregations can think creatively about how to welcome unmarried young adults and those from different socio-economic backgrounds into their communities.
When Stephanie visited a nearby Catholic church, hoping to get connected, she couldn't help but notice that most of the parishioners seemed affluent. They dressed nicely, and she felt that her t-shirt from Goodwill, jeans, and tattoos made her conspicuous. She felt like if she wanted to go back, she needed to buy new clothes, but she didn't want to spend the money to do that. No one seemed to smoke, either, so she was the only one who needed to step out during the two-hour Bible study to take a smoke break, which also made her feel awkward.
When she tried bringing her children to Mass, there was no childcare available, and she felt self-conscious about and distracted by their poor behavior in church. As a single parent, it was doubly difficult to get them to behave because there was just one of her and two of them. There was a class her son could attend, but it wasn't the kind of thing you were just supposed to walk into. There were fees and paperwork, so it didn't feel like the kind of place she could just drop her son off, even though the teacher was kind and accommodating when Stephanie inquired.
Even social events meant to foster parish community often seemed to have a cost attached. While that's understandable, it meant attending Lenten fish fries and similar events entailed somewhat of a financial sacrifice for her.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Young Adults * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
But the question remains: If sex is liberated, what is it liberated from, and what is it liberated to?
If sex is just a matter of physical pleasure, then the freedom to enjoy it becomes the default moral position. Any further question concerns the use to which this pleasure is put. Such is implied by Foucault’s title, The Use of Pleasure. This way of seeing things feeds into two other orthodoxies of our time. My pleasures are mine, and if you are forbidding them you are also oppressing me. Hence sexual liberation is not just a release but a duty, and by letting it all hang out I am not just defying the bourgeois order but casting a blow for freedom everywhere. Self-gratification acquires the glamor and the moral kudos of a heroic struggle. For the “me” generation, no way of acquiring a moral cause can be more gratifying. You become totally virtuous by being totally selfish.
Furthermore, it becomes easier to weigh sex in the cost–benefit balance. As society retreats from the vestigial experience of the sacred and the forbidden, we easily imagine that sex has nothing especially to do with love, and that it has lost its sacramental aura. We then try to reconstruct sexual morality in utilitarian terms. Pleasures can be weighed in terms of their intensity and duration, and if there is no more to sex than pleasure we can form a clear and decidable distinction between “good sex” and “bad sex,” qualified only by the principle of consent. It is in these terms that the ethos of sexual liberation is now expressed, with “good sex” being esteemed as the natural outcome of a truly liberated and self-expressing desire—the desire being precisely a desire for pleasure.
If we see sex in that way, as the release of the real me inside, the reward of which is pleasure, then the sexual revolution does not lead to the “withering away of the state,” such as the Marxists foretold. It leads to the withering away of society.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Marriage & Family Psychology Science & Technology Sexuality * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Nervous about Valentine's Day? Try a tiger roll.
First dates at a sushi restaurant are 1.7 times more likely to lead to a second, says Match.com, America's largest online dating site. The sushi tip is just one finding from the sixth annual Singles in America survey, which asked 5,500 respondents everything from which politician they want to vote for to which politician they'd be up for dating (Joe Biden and Marco Rubio dominate with 21 percent and 20 percent, respectively). Match's match-making masterminds conclude that it's probably okay to talk religion, politics and money on Date 1, but keep your hands off your phone. And if you're male, double-check those text messages: women are way less forgiving of spelling and grammar errors.
But even as more and more Americans turn to online dating, as it loses the "desperate" reputation of its early days, the jury's still out on what, exactly, it's doing to singles' hearts and minds. At a time when more Americans are unmarried than ever before, are Tinder and OKCupid changing what Americans want in a partner, or just how they find them?
Read it all.
Sir Jeremy Morse was one of the most intellectually gifted London bankers of the postwar era. He led Lloyds Bank through the challenges of Big Bang, the reorganisation of stock exchange practices and the third world debt crisis, and saw it emerge as one of the strongest of Britain’s retail banking groups.
With the air of a don rather than a City banker, he was skilled at crosswords and brain-teaser puzzles and was even acknowledged as the inspiration for Inspector Morse. The detective’s creator, Colin Dexter, named the character after him because he said that he had never encountered a finer problem-solving mind.
Knowing he had inspired Inspector Morse gave him great pleasure. He was introduced to Dexter in the 1950s at dinners hosted by The Observer for those who had solved their Ximenes crossword. Unlike his fictional alter-ego, Morse said, “I am distressingly unmelancholy.” He drank wine, albeit in moderation, and listened to Bach rather than wallowing in Wagner.
Read it all (requires subscription)
What’s striking — and crucial for understanding our populist moment — is the fact that the leadership cadres of both parties aren’t just unresponsive to this anxiety. They add to it.
The intelligentsia on the left rarely lets a moment pass without reminding us of the demographic eclipse of white middle-class voters. Sometimes, those voters are described as racists, or derided as dull suburbanites who lack the élan of the new urban “creative class.” The message: White middle-class Americans aren’t just irrelevant to America’s future, they’re in the way.
Conservatives are no less harsh. Pundits ominously predict that the “innovators” are about to be overwhelmed by a locust blight of “takers.” The message: If it weren’t for successful people like us, middle-class people like you would be doomed. And if you’re not an entrepreneurial “producer,” you’re in the way.
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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children History Marriage & Family * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Housing/Real Estate Market Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- Politics in General Office of the President * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Same-sex marriage in churches, and full access to all three Holy Orders for those in such marriages, are among the goals of a new mission calling for “the full acceptance and affirmation of LGBTI people” in the Church of England.
The LGBTI Mission, launched on Thursday, has put together a programme of goals that it would like to achieve “over the next five years and beyond”. It includes demands for action from the hierarchy, alongside plans to press ahead independently, including the publication of liturgy to celebrate same-sex marriage.
A booklet outlining the programme, published yesterday, lists examples of “discrimination” and “injustice” faced by LGBTI people, and warns of a culture of “collusion and silence” in the Church. Some young LGBTI people do not feel “safe and welcomed”, it says.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
I could quite imagine two adjacent dioceses within the Church of England permitting or prohibiting divorce, and recognizing or not recognizing the leadership of women. It wouldn't be comfortable, but it would be possible. It is simply impossible, however, to imagine one diocese celebrating same-sex sexual unions as equivalent to other-sex marriage, and a neighbouring one holding that this is outside of Christian moral teaching, and therefore (among its clergy) a cause of discipline. These two different views are simply incompatible; two such dioceses could not co-exist in the same Church.
That is why the question for the Church is not about polity alone, but about the Church's doctrine of marriage, and within that, its understanding of human sexuality. There is no middle ground to stand on.
Ritchie appears to share the view of Jayne Ozanne (former Director of Accepting Evangelicals, whom he cites) that change in the Church is "inevitable." To that end, Ozanne cites survey evidence showing that popular opinion is changing, and changing fast. That is one way for the Church to decide its doctrine - on the basis of popular opinion.
Historically, though, the Church of England has pursued a patient engagement with Scripture in order to shape its theology....
Read it all from ABC australia.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Commentary - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Primates Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Primates Primates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Primates Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Primates Primates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016 Anglican Provinces Church of Ireland Episcopal Church (TEC) Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
Let’s ask a question: Why was David Blatt fired as coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers? The man who fired him said it was a matter of “a lack of fit with our personnel and our vision.” Possibly true. But it would be more useful to say this: David Blatt got fired because Chip Kelly got fired before him, and Jose Mourinho before him, and Kevin McHale before him, and so on nearly ad infinitum.
That is to say: firing coaches is how professional sports franchises deal with conflict. And athletes know that this is how professional sports franchises deal with conflict: so when a team hits a bad patch, and the players are underperforming, and the coach is getting angry with them, and relationships are fraying… why bother stitching them up? Why bother salving the wounds? If everyone knows where the situation is headed — sacking the manager — then isn’t there rather a strong incentive to make things worse, in order to hasten the inevitable, put an end to the frustrations, start afresh, get a do-over? Of course there is.
And precisely the same tendencies are at work in many of the key institutions of American social life. This is one of the chief reasons why so many marriages end quickly; this is why so many Christians church-hop, to the point that pastors will tell you that church discipline is simply impossible: if you challenge or rebuke a church member for bad behavior, he or she will simply be at another church the next week, or at no church at all.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Marriage & Family Psychology Sociology Sports * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
But a new NBER working paper from economists at Stanford and the University of Virginia suggests that, when done right, one kind of teacher turnover, at least, can be highly effective: programs for aggressively replacing bad teachers. The authors collected data from a unique Washington, D.C. program called IMPACT, which assesses teachers based on student outcomes and ratings from their peers, rewards those who perform well, and replaces those who persistently perform poorly. In a nutshell, it worked: The teachers pushed out for poor performance were consistently replaced with teachers who performed significantly better. “Under a robust system of performance assessment,” the authors write in their conclusion, “the turnover of teachers can generate meaningful gains in student outcomes, particularly for the most disadvantaged students.”
As we’ve written before, the idea that all teachers must be teachers for life needs to be questioned more often. That’s especially true when one is talking about replacing poorly performing teachers.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Education Marriage & Family * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Politics in General City Government State Government * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Globally, the people who fight in wars or commit violent crimes are nearly all young men. Henrik Urdal of the Harvard Kennedy School looked at civil wars and insurgencies around the world between 1950 and 2000, controlling for such things as how rich, democratic or recently violent countries were, and found that a “youth bulge” made them more strife-prone. When 15-24-year-olds made up more than 35% of the adult population—as is common in developing countries—the risk of conflict was 150% higher than with a rich-country age profile.
If young men are jobless or broke, they make cheap recruits for rebel armies. And if their rulers are crooked or cruel, they will have cause to rebel. Youth unemployment in Arab states is twice the global norm. The autocrats who were toppled in the Arab Spring were all well past pension age, had been in charge for decades and presided over kleptocracies.
Christopher Cramer of the School of Oriental and African Studies in London cautions that there is no straightforward causal link between unemployment and violence. It is not simply a lack of money that spurs young men to rebel, he explains; it is more that having a job is a source of status and identity.
Read it all from the Economist.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Men Psychology Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * International News & Commentary Africa Nigeria * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The killer was at large when Anthony Thompson bolted back toward the white church, its spire rising high and proud in the darkness, its body surrounded by emergency vehicles. He darted for the church’s gate and a side door, the one a white man had entered before allegedly gunning down nine people at Myra’s Bible study.
Someone grabbed him.
“Where you going?” It was an FBI agent.
“I’m Reverend Thompson. My wife’s in that church. I need to go on in and get her.”
“No, no, son. You can’t go in there.”
“Oh yes I can. I’m going in there too. Now let me go!”
Instead, the agent pulled Thompson aside, speaking gently, “You don’t want to go in there.”
Read it all frpom the local paper.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Children Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Psychology Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues Violence Women * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * South Carolina * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
More members of the Church of England now support same-sex marriage than oppose it, new polling suggests.
The finding, from a YouGov survey of more than 6,000 people, suggests the Church’s leadership, which led a high-profile campaign against a change in the law, is at odds with the majority of Anglicans in England for the first time.
It also points to a sharp fall in opposition to same-sex marriage among those who identify as members of the Church of England since the law changed, echoing a shift in wider society.
Read it all from the Telegraph.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships Sociology * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The march itself was barely over before snow began accumulating quickly on every surface in the Washington, DC area. All of the “happy warriors” for Life this year went above and beyond the usual sacrifices they make to come and march because of Snowstorm Jonas, a blizzard of historic proportions.
Among the warriors were dozens of Anglican church members led by the Anglicans for Life ministry along with the Archbishop and a number of other bishops of the Anglican Church in North America.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine History Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Naghmeh Abedini is looking forward to reuniting next week with her husband, Saeed, the Iranian-American pastor freed on Saturday after more than three years in an Iranian prison.
But she’s not rushing the reunion.
In an interview at her parent’s home in Boise, Idaho on Wednesday, Abedini said that rebuilding their marriage after her husband’s imprisonment will take time.
The relationship, she said, has been strained in recent months by the publication of an email she sent to friends and supporters late last year. Her note described “physical, emotional, psychological and sexual” abuse by her husband, who she said was addicted to pornography.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Missions * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Marriage & Family Pornography Prison/Prison Ministry Psychology Violence * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Middle East Iran * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The March for Life — an annual rally held for four decades to protest the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision of the Supreme Court that legalized abortion — has long been dominated by Roman Catholics.
But evangelical leaders expect that on Friday (Jan. 22), there will be more evangelicals walking beside them. That’s the result of Catholic and evangelical conservatives bridging the divide to work on issues of common concern, they said.
Several hundred evangelicals gathered on the eve of the rally at a hotel near the U.S. Capitol, pledging to join forces with Catholics in the anti-abortion effort.
“There’s no tension between evangelicals and Catholics on this issue,” said Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, in an interview. However, he added that Catholics have been “more intentional about communicating the march to their constituents and see the value.”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Science & Technology * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals Roman Catholic * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The number is stark: 57,762,169. That is through the end of last year—the number of legal abortions in America since the Roe v. Wade decision 43 years ago tomorrow on January 22, 1973. That was one of the darkest days in American history, and ever since then America has been at war over abortion. We’re now talking about four decades and more. When the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Roe v. Wade, the Court’s majority attempted to put an end to the abortion question. That’s actually what they thought they were doing. To the contrary, that decision has enlarged and revealed the great moral divide that runs through the center of our culture.
Most Americans actually are probably pretty much unaware of the actual contours of the abortion debate as it emerged in the early 1970s. Going back to 1973, the primary opposition to legal abortion came from the Roman Catholic Church; Evangelicals in the pro-life movement joined later. Until the late 1970s and the awakening of the evangelical conscience on abortion, most Evangelicals didn’t want to talk about the issue, considering it to be an issue for other people in other places. Roe v. Wade changed all of that legally in 1973 ruling that in all 50 states abortion on demand, as it has been called, must be considered a woman’s right. The decision was demanded by and later championed by feminists as one of the great feminist victories. The leaders of that movement claimed, and continue to claim, that the availability of abortion on demand is necessary in order for women to be equal with men with respect to the absence of pregnancy as an obstacle to career advancement.
Furthermore, the moral logic of Roe v. Wade was a thunderous affirmation of the idea of personal autonomy that had already taken ahold of the American mind. As the decision made all too clear, “rights talk” had displaced what had been seen as a higher concern for right versus wrong.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine History Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
You can read more about Jeff there and you can read about St Philip's there.
It is surprising, then, that the whimper [from the 2016 Primates Gathering] has occasioned such a hue and cry. On Thursday the Labour shadow cabinet minister and former Anglican priest, Chris Bryant, declared he had left the Church of England for good. The Church’s decision will one day ‘seem [as] wrong as supporting slavery’ he tweeted. On Saturday the Times published a full-blown invective. The Church has no right, the editorial claimed, to maintain its traditional doctrine of marriage.
The outcry is indicative of a profound shift. Institutions founded on certain precepts to which its members are expected to subscribe shouldn’t be allowed to act on them if those precepts don’t square with a prevailing agenda. Back in 2013 advocates for same-sex marriage argued that the church’s beliefs about sexuality shouldn’t be imposed on the rest of society. That makes sense. But now the church is being told it shouldn’t hold those beliefs at all.
It is easy to overlook how ominous this shift really is. The conviction that organisations and communities cannot determine their own distinct ethos, their own rules for membership and their own criteria for leadership imperils the very survival of a pluralistic society. What is the point of institutions if they don’t have the freedom to organise themselves in the way they see fit?
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Primates Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Primates Primates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016 Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
Deaths from drug overdoses have jumped in nearly every county across the United States, driven largely by an explosion in addiction to prescription painkillers and heroin.
Some of the largest concentrations of overdose deaths were in Appalachia and the Southwest, according to new county-level estimates released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The number of these deaths reached a new peak in 2014: 47,055 people, or the equivalent of about 125 Americans every day.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Drugs/Drug Addiction Marriage & Family * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The pain is palpable at St. Mary's Episcopal Church. The Rev. Ted Berktold doesn't need a tearful 75-year-old woman in his cluttered, book-filled office to tell him that. "This is not personal," she says, "but the Episcopal Church is no longer my church."
"My church is leaving me," another elderly congregant tells someone on the staff....
Other challenges will come first: The Anglican Communion's October 2004 Windsor Report calls on the Episcopal Church USA to halt the blessing of same-sex unions, block the potential consecration of openly gay clergy and express its regret for the pain caused by the Robinson consecration. The report is fueling rumors of an official split between the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church USA.
Read it all (my emphasis).
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A husband had a lot of explaining to do to his irate wife after driving off from a petrol station without her, according to reports in Brazil.
The man, only identified as Walter, was driving back to Argentina following a holiday in Brazil when he made the unfortunate error....
The couple’s 14-year-old son had also failed to spot his mother was missing as he was playing on his mobile phone in the front seat.
Read it all.
A split in the Anglican Church over the issue of homosexuality "would not be a disaster, but it would be a failure", the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.
Speaking ahead of a meeting of Church leaders, Justin Welby said he wanted "reconciliation", but that would mean "finding ways to disagree well".
Views range from liberals in the US - who accept openly gay clergy - to conservatives in Africa, who do not.
There are fears of a permanent schism in the 80m-strong Communion.
Read it all from the BBC.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Primates Primates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
Gov. Nikki Haley wants to spend $19 million to hire 144 prosecutors so that police officers no longer are the ones prosecuting domestic violence cases in South Carolina.
Haley unveiled a number of requests and executive orders in a press conference Thursday aimed at reducing instances of domestic violence in South Carolina, which has been ranked No. 1 in the nation for the rate of women murdered by men.
South Carolina is one of three states in the country where police officers — not lawyers — prosecute domestic violence crimes in the courtroom.
Read it all from the local paper.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Sexuality Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General State Government * South Carolina * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
McIntosh shielded her three sons from much of the domestic violence in their home. She hoped to keep her marriage intact until her youngest son graduated from high school.
"I kept thinking it would get better because I knew the good person in there," McIntosh said. "I knew I wanted to keep a home for my boys and wanted to keep us together."
Finally, Tracy Swinney told his mother she had to leave his father. They divorced, and the family's home was foreclosed. When Dabo learned his parents were divorcing, he cried in the field house at his high school.
Read it all and enjoy the video also.
since same-sex ‘marriages’ became legal in Great Britain in 2014 a number of Church of England laity and clergy have entered into them. In addition the majority report of the House of Bishops Working Group on Human Sexuality (the ‘Pilling’ report) recommended in 2013 that priests should ‘be free to mark the formation of a permanent same sex relationship in a public service’ and if this recommendation eventually becomes Church of England policy the pressure to move from this half way house to the solemnization of same-sex ‘marriages’ will become acute.
What all this means is that although the debate about the blessing of same-sex relationships and the ordination and consecration of those in such relationships have not gone away the new storm centre in the Anglican Communion is going to be same-sex ‘marriage.’
In this paper I provide an introduction to this debate by setting out and assessing the arguments for same-sex ‘marriage’ put forward in reports from the Scottish Episcopal Church, The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. At the end of the paper I will give an overview of what I think we have learned about the key issues in the debate and the challenges facing the Church of England and the Anglican Communion.
Read it all and yes I mean the pdf of the full report.
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You see, the researcher that they're filming, a guy named Harry Harlow [in 1960], was trying to prove-- and I know this is going to sound crazy. He was trying to prove that love is an important thing that happens between parents and children.
And the reason why he felt the need to prove this point was at the time-- and again, I know this is going to sound kind of out there. The psychological establishment, pediatricians, even the federal government were all saying exactly the opposite of that to parents.
Deborah Blum: It's actually one of those things that you say, how could they have thought that? But psychology just didn't believe in love. And if you go back and you pull any of the psychology textbooks, really almost pre-1950, you don't even find it in the index because it was not a word that was used.
Read it all or better listen to it all (emphasis mine).
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...there are three ways we can make Christmas Eve if not perfect then at least good. These come down to us from the pages of the Bible.
First, a good Christmas Eve is when God’s Savior is received. Hear the words of the Angelic messenger: “Do not be afraid.” Though sin, guilt and shame lurk in the closets and storage rooms of our lives, though insecurities and imperfections are at every turn, and debts and failures abound—“…unto you is born a Savior….” The One born in Bethlehem, who lived a perfect life in obedience to his Father dying a shameful death bearing the sins of the world, and rose from the tomb in the power of the Spirit, is alive today. He speaks a word to each of us: “Behold I stand at the door and knock and if anyone hears my voice I will come into him and sup with him and he with me.” When we open to him, accepting his forgiveness, his perfection is draped over us and our true dignity is restored. In the words of a famous carol, “When charity stands watching/and faith holds wide the door/the dark night wakes, the glory breaks/and Christmas comes once more.”....
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GREENVILLE, S.C.--A sign in a classroom here at Berea High School, northwest of downtown in the largest urban district in the state, sends this powerful message: “Failure Is Not an Option. You Will Pass. You Will Learn. You Will Succeed.”
By one measure, Berea, with more than 1,000 pupils, is helping more students succeed than ever: The graduation rate, below 65 percent just four years ago, has jumped to more than 80 percent.
But that does not necessarily mean that all of Berea’s graduates, many of whom come from poor families, are ready for college — or even for the working world. According to college entrance exams administered to every 11th grader in the state last spring, only one in 10 Berea students were ready for college-level work in reading, and about one in 14 were ready for entry-level college math. And on a separate test of skills needed to succeed in most jobs, little more than half of the students demonstrated that they could handle the math they would need.
It is a pattern repeated in other school districts across the state and country....
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On the day before Christmas Eve, Reverend Jonathan Erdman had a heavy heart. In a somber letter to his parish, he announced his decision to resign as rector, effective January 10, 2016. Invoking Martin Luther, he explained the issue of conscience which made this decision inevitable. “After prayer and study of scripture, I am not able to approve same-sex marriage as rector of Calvary.” Jonathan would not perform a gay blessing, nor as shepherd of the flock at Calvary, could he allow one to be performed in his parish. In an act of pastoral concern for the few LGBT members of his parish this may affect, he arranged for same-sex members of Calvary to be married by other clergy at the Episcopal cathedral nearby. Predictably that was not enough.
As soon as General Convention allowed for same-sex blessings in the Episcopal Church, certain members of Calvary Church were eager to begin. I’m sure the self-righteous indignation was palpable as Fr. Jonathan informed this vestry--a different vestry from the one in place when he arrived to which his views on same-sex marriage were specifically addressed--that same-sex blessings would not take place at Calvary Church. Fr. Jonathan apparently did not give priority in his ministry to arguing from the pulpit for or against the secular social agenda strangling the ECUSA. An orthodox high churchman, graduate of Yale Divinity School, and former curate at St. Thomas 5th Avenue under the now-retired Reverend Andrew Mead, Fr. Jonathan Erdman loved and ministered to parishioners from all walks of life and of all sexual orientations. There are some that too quickly confuse the difference between withholding judgment of an individual’s sins and celebrating them (or allowing them to be celebrated under your authority) as a sacrament of the Church.
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"We’ve been praying for this little guy since October when we were matched with him for adoption from China. Since that time, the adoption process has been steamrolling along and we are now all set to travel and pick him up…on December 23!
It has been a blur these past few week, but we are ready and excited to make the trip across the globe and pick up the newest member of our family. And, yes, we are all going – Tyler, Lanier, and all the kids, along with Tyler’s parents – for the two week trek to China!..."
You can read the rest here and there.
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Chai Feldblum isn’t a minor figure. She is the head of the on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, having been appointed by President Obama, and will be in that post until her term expires in 2018. Long before she was elevated to the EEOC chairmanship, Feldblum was known for her view that there are almost no situations in which disputes between religious liberty and gay rights should be resolved in favor of religious liberty.
It fell to Andrew Sullivan (whose voice I miss more and more every week) to defend freedom to the crowd. You really should read the whole Reason report to hear what he had to say. It includes a link to Andrew’s presentation, in which he says that the LGBT-industrial complex needs to keep the bogeyman of Oppression alive (“These people’s lives and careers and incomes depend on the maintenance of discrimination and oppression”), and says that religious liberty is just about the most important American freedom.
The hard truth is that Andrew Sullivan, alas for us all, is irrelevant to the debate now. When I saw him this spring in Boston, he told me that he can’t go on some campuses now because the gay left hates him for speaking out for religious liberty, and in particular for Brendan Eich. Think about that: fewer than four years ago, the president of the United States was formally committed to maintaining traditional marriage in law. Now, we have Court-mandated gay marriage from coast to coast, and Andrew Sullivan, who has done as much or more than any single person to make that happen, is now regarded by the gay rights movement as some sort of reactionary because of his liberal views.
Read it all (emphasis mine).
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
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(Warning--Hard content to confront--KSH).
I’m not writing this article for my father. I’m writing it for the people in the parking lot.
Yes, if you say something, you may ruin the relationship you have with that person. You may get embarrassed in front of the other hockey parents. You may have to go through the awkwardness of filing a police report.
I can understand why a lot of people worry, “But what if I’m wrong?”
If you are wrong, that’s the absolute best case scenario. The alternative is that child is a prisoner in his own home. What you’re seeing in the parking lot or outside the locker room — whether it’s a kid getting grabbed and screamed at, or shoved up against a car — could just be the tip of the iceberg.
Read it all (Hat tip:DR).
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Here are some key findings from the report:
1A declining share of children live in two-parent households. Today, 69% of children younger than 18 are living with two parents, down from 87% in 1960. A record-low 62% of children live with two married parents, while 7% live with two cohabiting parents. Meanwhile, the share of children living in single-parent households has increased threefold, from 9% in 1960 to 26% in 2014.Read it all.
The rising prevalence of divorce, remarriage and cohabitation has caused other changes in family living arrangements, even among those living in two-parent households. In 2014, fewer than half of children (46%) lived in a household with two married parents in their first marriage, down from 73% in 1960.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children History Marriage & Family Psychology Sociology * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Six months have passed since Dylann Roof allegedly shot and killed nine parishioners at an Emanuel AME Church Bible study.
The funerals are over. The flowers and tributes have thinned out on the Calhoun Street church’s sidewalk. President Barack Obama and his press corps have long since left town.
Charleston is trying to move toward normal again, but Deborah Stewart still misses Myra Thompson.
“She wasn’t just my sister-in-law,” Stewart said. “She was my friend.”
Read it all (and note the headline used above is from the print edition).
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues Violence * South Carolina * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Evidence suggesting senior clergy tried to cover up sex abuse by an Anglican bishop has been uncovered by the BBC.
Two priests raised concerns about Peter Ball but were urged to keep quiet or saw no action taken, it has emerged.
And a couple who worked for now-jailed Ball, former bishop of Lewes and Bishop of Gloucester, said they also tried to raise concerns but were ignored.
Ball's offending is the subject of an independent review and a national inquiry is looking at Church abuse.
Read it all.
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
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The parallel is inexact, but peoples and cultures also have to deal with the power of hard memories. Painful traumas and experiences can be passed down generation to generation, whether it is exile, defeat or oppression. These memories affect both the victims’ and the victimizers’ cultures.
Many of the issues we have been dealing with in 2015 revolve around unhealed cultural memories: how to acknowledge past wrongs and move forward into the light.
The most obvious case involves American race relations. So much of the national conversation this year has concerned how to think about past racism and oppression, and the power of that past to shape present realities: the Confederate flag, Woodrow Wilson, the unmarked sights of the lynching grounds. Fortunately, many people have found the courage to tell the ugly truths about slavery, Jim Crow and current racism that were repressed by the wider culture.
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Prof Percy critiques Archbishop Welby’s decision to invite Archbishop Foley Beach of the breakaway Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) to attend the Primates’ meeting, without consulting the official Episcopal Churches in the USA and Canada, and suggests:
‘So the Archbishop of Canterbury could begin proceedings in January by offering an apology to American and Canadian Anglicans for his intemperate gestures towards ACNA, and his lack of consultation, which has undermined them. He should further apologise for dealing in territories and spheres of authority that are simply not his to meddle with.’He also warns against using the widespread belief that the Anglican churches of the global south now form the majority and are the only ones growing numerically to cede ‘more moral ground…to African churches…than might be judicious’ in divisive debates over sexual ethics.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Culture-Watch Globalization Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
A spokesman for the Winchester Diocese said: "Canon Jeremy Davies made an application earlier this year for permission to officiate in the Diocese of Winchester.
"Due to the Church of England's position on same sex marriage, as set out in the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Guidance, Canon Jeremy Davies has been informed that his application has been unsuccessful."
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According to a blogger in the ancient Iraqi city of Mosul, ISIS (also known as ISIL) leaders there have issued a "fatwa" against children with Down syndrome and other birth defects.
The only source for the story is the Mosul Eye, self-described as a "blog … set up to communicate what's happening in Mosul to the rest of the world , minute by minute from an independent historian." It has been repeated by dozens of mainstream and niche news sites, from the British Daily Mail through Fox News to Breitbart.
According to the Mosul Eye's December 14 Facebook entry, "the Shar'i Board of ISIL issued an 'Oral Fatwa' to its members authorizing them to – in the fatwa's words, 'kill newborn babies with Down's Syndrome and congenital disorders and disabled children.'"
Read it all.
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I had expected to see a giant of a man. In fact, Howard reflected the humble Scottish roots of his home. Rather than a six-foot plus giant, Sally and I met a man who she could look at eye to eye, but his welcome and heart was the size of Texas. It was common to hear that he was meeting with students not just to review the current chapter dedicated to their thesis (what the British call a dissertation) but to pray with them. He opened his home to welcome those students and host them, making sure their arrival in Scotland and a foreign land had left them feeling at home.
He engaged in theological discussion and debate as a conservative of deep conviction who demanded that one’s work be thorough but also fair to the views being challenged. He spoke with a soft voice that communicated with clarity and gravity about the way one should regard the Scripture. That captured people’s attention. The depth of his awareness covering a sweep of topics was stunning. Despite all of that ability and knowledge, what struck one about Howard was his humility and devotion to God. His critique was delivered with a gentleness that not only made clear what might be misdirected but also that showed he cared about how that critique was received.
One incident after my time in Aberdeen is still clear to me. On a return visit to Aberdeen, we brought our family with us. Our two girls had been born in bonnie Scotland, but my son had not. It was the first and only time Howard met our son, who was a very young, playful, five-year-old boy at the time. The Marshalls had a tea warmer in the shape of penguin. Another aspect of Howard’s personality is that he had a classic Scottish wit. So Stephen spotted the warmer and was drawn to it. He offered Stephen to let him play with it and got down on the floor with him to share in the moment. Stephen took advantage of his new playmate and promptly placed the penguin on Howard’s head, leaving both of them laughing and my wife nothing short of horrified. But that was Howard, sensitive to where people were coming from with an eye to where they could go. When I remember Howard Marshall, it is this moment that most typifies him as a person.
Read it all from Darrell Bock.
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After more than four decades of serving as the nation’s economic majority, the American middle class is now matched in number by those in the economic tiers above and below it. In early 2015, 120.8 million adults were in middle-income households, compared with 121.3 million in lower- and upper-income households combined, a demographic shift that could signal a tipping point, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data.
In at least one sense, the shift represents economic progress: While the share of U.S. adults living in both upper- and lower-income households rose alongside the declining share in the middle from 1971 to 2015, the share in the upper-income tier grew more.
Over the same period, however, the nation’s aggregate household income has substantially shifted from middle-income to upper-income households, driven by the growing size of the upper-income tier and more rapid gains in income at the top. Fully 49% of U.S. aggregate income went to upper-income households in 2014, up from 29% in 1970. The share accruing to middle-income households was 43% in 2014, down substantially from 62% in 1970.
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Middle-class parents risk turning their children into alcoholics by offering them drinks at home, according to government research which showed that affluent teenagers were twice as likely as the poorest to be regular drinkers.
Young people from middle-class backgrounds are also more likely to have tried alcohol and to continue with the habit once they have started, said the survey of 120,000 15-year-olds.
Charities warned that many parents still mistakenly believe that introducing their children to alcohol at home, even a glass of wine with a family dinner, might protect them from becoming problem drinkers. Despite being legal, it is likely to have the opposite effect, campaigners said.
The study, the first of its kind published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre, a body funded by the Department of Health, found that 70 per cent of boys and girls aged 15 in the least deprived areas had tried alcohol, compared to 50 per cent in the most deprived.
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Syed Rizwan Farook was looking for a woman. A few years ago, not long out of college, he went online to find a match. He was slim, dark-eyed, 6 feet tall and living with a parent in Riverside, his dating profiles explained.
He was Chicago-born, with Pakistani roots. He didn't drink or smoke. He avoided TV and movies, preferring instead to tinker with old cars, work out and memorize the Quran. He had a $49,000-a-year government job as a health inspector and wanted a young wife who shared his Sunni Muslim faith.
"Someone who takes her religion very seriously and is always trying to improve her religion and encouraging others to do the same using hikmah (wisdom) and not harshness," he wrote on BestMuslim.com, one of several dating and matrimonial sites he used.
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The profiles of the suspects behind the Paris terrorist attacks reflect a pattern often seen among perpetrators of previous atrocities—a group of guys who turned from drugs and petty crime to terrorism. What’s new is the potency of the movement that mobilized them.
To many in the West, Islamic State represents a medieval-style death cult. To its sympathizers, estimated to number in the thousands or even tens of thousands in Europe, its radical message of reviving the Sunni Muslim caliphate is strengthened by the fact that it already rules over territory.
Scott Atran, a Franco-American academic who has interviewed hundreds of radical Islamists over years, likens the rise and allure of Islamic State to the ascendancy of the Bolsheviks in czarist Russia and the National Socialist Party in Weimar Germany.
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Darcy Corbitt-Hall recently moved...[to North Dakota] from Alabama.
"Coming to North Dakota and then suddenly realizing I don't have that ability in my church is very upsetting,” Corbitt-Hall says. “I can't align myself with organizations that don't treat everyone the same and don't work for full inclusion."
Along with Darcy, other congregants that attend Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church, share the same beliefs.
Amy Phillips adds, "Marriage equality is a human right. Our church clearly wants to support that right and be able to celebrate the union of all people, any people that want to marry each other."
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The Revd Stephen Trott has tabled a Private Member’s Motion at General Synod, as follows:
“CIVIL PRELIMINARIES TO MARRIAGE IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND
The Revd Stephen Trott (Peterborough) to move:
“That this Synod, noting the Registration of Marriages Regulations 2015 and the growing burden and complexity of the legal requirements imposed on members of the clergy who conduct weddings in the Church of England, invite the Archbishops’ Council to bring forward draft legislation to replace ecclesiastical preliminaries to marriage by universal civil preliminaries, such as those which have been in operation in Scotland … when banns were replaced by a Marriage Schedule issued by the civil registrar.”
He has raised the issue before. I
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On Christmas Eve, Joanne and Bill Gussler scraped up the money they could, traveled to Las Vegas and found a chapel where they exchanged their vows. It was 1955. Money and time were tight. Bill was on a short leave from the Navy, so there was no frill or fancy for their wedding.
“I had daisies when I got married,” Joanne says. “They were cheap, that’s why I had them.”
Sixty years later, at age 80, Joanne is getting the wedding she always wanted to Bill, now age 90.
Read it all and don't miss the pictures.
Fine for teachers, but it can be tough on parents' schedules and wallets.
In fact, the district says the schedule is so unpopular with families that it expects to loose several hundred students to other school systems.
"My best friend, she and her family, her two brothers, they moved to a private school because of the four-day school week," says fifth-grader Chloe Florence. And that's bad news for Apache Junction Unified, which is funded on a per-student basis.
Jennifer Florence says it just doesn't add up, but her family has decided to stick it out.
"In a philosophical sense we believe very strongly in public education. So we are trying to support the system. Abandoning a ship, it will sink."
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Call it medicine. Call it Christian kindness. Call it a miracle, even.
On Tuesday, in a small, windowless office at the Medical University of South Carolina, 3-year-old Diana Maria Gutierrez-Guzman heard her mother’s voice for the first time in her short life.
It was a beautiful thing to watch. Diana, frightened by the noise, turned to her mother for comfort. Her mom started crying.
Read it all and please dont miss the video, all from the local paper.
The Church of England is attempting to clarify its rights over church schools when the Education and Adoption Bill becomes law next year.
At present, there is uncertainty over the position of diocesan boards of education when, under a provision in the Bill, an inadequate school can be forcibly transferred to academy status under a different provider.
The Government has strongly resisted amendments to the Bill, which is intended to speed up the improvement of schools that are giving cause for concern. This will be achieved, the Government argues, by giving Ministers the right to force failing schools to become academies, and circumvent local consultation and objections that have hitherto delayed the process.
Instead of being secured in legislation, the Church’s position will be set out in a Memorandum of Understanding associated with the Bill.
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We tried everything to help Matthew, from acceptance and enabling to tough love, but the trajectory was not a good one and its ending has scarred and devastated our lives forever. I cannot say with certainty that if we had been able to force treatment on Matthew, including anti-psychotic medications, that he would have survived. In addition to suffering from anosognosia, Matthew became very religious after his break, embracing his Judaism, keeping kosher, and he was convinced that taking medication was dishonorable and would offend God.
But I do know that for many, treatment saves lives. The true insanity is that our laws leave those who suffer to fend for themselves. But Congress is now ready to grapple with the issue in a bipartisan bill introduced by Tim Murphy, a Republican from Pennsylvania and the only clinical psychologist in the House, and Eddie Bernice Johnson, a Democrat from Texas who is a psychiatric nurse.
The bill is not perfect. But it does many things to improve the financing, treatment and delivery of services across the range of mental illnesses, and in particular it has provisions aimed directly at helping those like my son.
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Xavier Nogueras, a defense lawyer in Paris, represents twenty French citizens accused of jihadism. A few of his clients are violent and dangerous, he said, but many went to Syria out of idealism, wanting to defend other Muslims against the Assad regime and build an Islamic state. He argued that such people pose no threat to France and that the state shouldn’t permanently embitter them with years of detention. Nogueras resisted tracing his clients’ motives to social conditions in the banlieues. Few have criminal backgrounds; some had well-paid jobs in large French companies. “The most surprising thing to me is their immense humanity,” Nogueras said. He finds jihadists more interesting than the drug dealers and robbers he’s represented. “They have more to say—many more ideas. Their sacred book demands the application of Sharia, which tells them to cover their wives, not to live in secularism. And we are in a country that inevitably stigmatizes them, because it’s secular. They don’t feel at home here.”
I found the lawyer’s distinction between jihadism at home and abroad less than reassuring. Coulibaly’s faith could have led him to kill people in Paris or in Syria; violence driven by ideology could happen anywhere. The “idealism” of clients motivated to make Sharia universal law is, in some ways, more worrying than simple thuggery: even if France dedicates itself urgently to making its Muslims full-fledged children of the republic, a small minority of them will remain, on principle, irreconcilable.
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But more important than any of these is the PR disaster for the Church of England that this case has already created. The public simply does not comprehend why the Church’s official bodies, as opposed to its members generally, are so set against same-sex marriage.
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It is lawful to reject a candidate for a bishopric because of his or her public statements about sexuality, newly published guidance from the Church of England states.
The document, which dates from March, but has only now been posted on the Church’s website, sets out what a Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) can take into account when considering a candidate for a vacant see. “The CNC can . . . lawfully take into account the content and manner of any public statements previously made by him or her about the Church’s traditional teaching on same-sex relations,” the guidance says.
But it also states that “The mere fact that a candidate had publicly questioned the Church of England’s teaching on human sexuality . . . would not be sufficient to raise any issue from this point of view: that is something that clergy are free to do.
“An issue could only arise as a result of the way in which that disagreement had been expressed.”
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This one is a complete wipeout--get the Kleenex and watch it all.
From her dining room in suburban Atlanta, [Elaine] Riddick, 61, points to a half-inch scar above her right eye as she remembers the afternoon in 1967 when her life irrevocably changed. At age 13, Riddick was walking home in rural eastern North Carolina when a grown man from her small town attacked her: Riddick says he raped her and threatened to kill her if she told anyone. She stayed quiet.
A few weeks later, while she was picking cotton, Riddick vomited. She thought she had a virus, but when she started gaining weight, her grandmother took her to the county health department. The young girl was pregnant.
Instead of launching an investigation, welfare officials recommended doctors sterilize Riddick after she delivered her baby. They deemed her promiscuous and “feeble-minded.” Without benefit of a review or accountability process, the government declared Riddick at age 13 unfit ever to reproduce again.
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The Ashley Madison hack may have faded from the headlines but one of its key revelations lingers on in our cultural conversations about sex.
It's present in more recent offerings like Rachel Hills's book The Sex Myth: The Gap Between Our Fantasies and Reality and the romantic comedy Sleeping with Other People, currently showing in cinemas.
That this theme should crop up so repeatedly suggests that we need to be constantly reminded of it - no great surprise, really, since sex is often something that can (if you pardon the phrase) screw with our thinking, feeling, and desiring.
What each of these sex stories reinforces, again and again, is that all of us have great sexpectations that remain, frequently, unfulfilled.
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At least 100 students at a high school in Cañon City traded naked pictures of themselves, the authorities said Friday, part of a large sexting ring.
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The revelation has left parents outraged, administrators searching for missed clues, and the police and the district attorney’s office debating whether to file child pornography charges — including felony charges — against some of the participants.
George Welsh, the superintendent of the Cañon City school system, said students at Cañon City High School had been circulating 300 to 400 nude photographs, including images of “certainly over 100 different kids,” on their cellphones. “This is a lot of kids involved,” he said, adding that the children in the pictures were believed to be students at the high school as well as eighth graders from the middle school.
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Amid the stresses of the dot-com bust and the Great Recession, it was only white Americans who turned increasingly to drugs, liquor and quietus.
Why only them? One possible solution is suggested by a paper from 2012, whose co-authors include Andrew Cherlin and Brad Wilcox, leading left and right-leaning scholars, respectively, of marriage and family.
Noting that religious practice has fallen faster recently among less-educated whites than among less-educated blacks and Hispanics, their paper argues that white social institutions, blue-collar as well as white-collar, have long reflected a “bourgeois moral logic” that binds employment, churchgoing, the nuclear family and upward mobility.
But in an era of stagnating wages, family breakdown, and social dislocation, this logic no longer seems to make as much sense.
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Heroin is no longer only an inner-city problem.
Users are young, educated and often fighting an uphill battle to stay clean while deep in the clutches of a disease that is far from free of stigma.
And the highly addictive drug’s increased use and potency have led to overdose deaths rising dramatically in the nation, state and Lowcountry.
Reported opioid deaths across the state jumped 118 percent from 237 in 2013 to 516 in 2014, a trend mirrored in the tri-county area, according to data from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.
Read it all from the local paper.
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The current American landscape includes more liberal churches that are doing their best to join the sexual revolution and conservative churches that cannot follow. Simple honesty requires acknowledgment that it is the conservative churches that are teaching what Christianity has taught for two millennia.
We are told that holding to biblical authority and the historic Christian faith will lead to our marginalization.
Perhaps so, but it is the more liberal churches that have been hemorrhaging members by the millions for the last four decades and, even in a secularizing age, it is the most secularized denominations that have suffered the greatest membership losses.
We do understand what is at stake in terms of the human judgment of history, but we are far more concerned about the divine verdict of eternity.
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Q:Your article on homesickness was very thought-provoking. Many of my peers and I relocated in our sixties. Although we volunteer, attend houses of worship, have friends and travel, many of us are still lonely for home and sometimes depressed because of it. Has anyone studied this?
A:People of all ages can feel homesick, and longing for the security and comfort of a past home can increase with age, according to a few studies that have included healthy elderly participants.
People often look for new sources of identity as their relationship with career and past colleagues fade. A 2004 study by Norwegian researchers found that elderly Danes and Pakistanis who had settled in Norway decades earlier identified more strongly with their native countries as they grew older, bringing a feeling of homesickness. Connecting to their cultural heritage by decorating their homes with related artwork or talking about their memories supported self-esteem and helped make up for age-related losses in other areas, researchers found.
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The old image of the “middle class” as an aspirational state of being – upward mobility coupled with a measure of financial stability – hasn’t disappeared. But it’s under stress as much as at any time in the postwar era. Fewer Americans these days call themselves middle class, and many who do use that label see it as a badge of struggle as much as a badge of opportunity.
The middle class is being redefined partly by demographics. In 1970, fully 40 percent of US households were married couples with at least one child under 18 years old. By 2012 that share had declined to 20 percent of US households – a shift that includes more single-parent breadwinners. It’s also being redefined by a changing job market – notably by the rising importance of education on résumés, as well as the disappearance of punch-the-timecard jobs in offices and factories that once produced comfortable lifestyles but were vulnerable to automation.
All this doesn’t mean that living standards for average middle-income families are languishing in a state of permanent deterioration. A good deal of evidence suggests that’s not the case. And while some deride the insecurity of the Gig Economy – the growing legions of people doing freelance, contract, temporary, or other independent work – the changing job market has a bright side for many Americans: greater flexibility, creativity, and self-determination for one’s career.
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Children and adults are being harmed by the widespread availability and use of pornography in society, the Bishop of Chester has warned.
The Rt Revd Peter Forster, leading a debate in the House of Lords on the impact of pornography on society, called for action in the face of evidence showing the damaging impact of pornograhy on adults as well as children and young people.
Speaking to peers, Bishop Peter highlighted the exposure of children to harmful sexualised content online.
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For the student at the center of the federal complaint and all other transgender students at the district's five high schools, the staff changes their names, genders and pronouns on school records. Transgender students also are allowed to use the bathrooms of their identified gender and play on the sports team of that gender, school officials said.
But officials drew the line at the locker room, citing the privacy rights of the other 12,000-plus students in the district. As a compromise, the district installed four privacy curtains in unused areas of the locker room and another one around the shower, but because the district would compel the student to use them, federal officials deemed the solution insufficient.
The dispute highlights a controversy that a growing number of school districts face as they struggle with an issue that few parents of today's teens encountered. The Department of Education has settled two similar allegations of discrimination of transgender students in California, with both districts eventually agreeing to allow the students to use female-designated facilities.
Read it allfrom the Chicago Tribune.
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
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Robert's first parish placement in the early 1980s was St. Matthias Episcopal Church in Summerton. The couple's impact on the parish was immediate, said Deb Embry, a parishioner there.
“It is hard to talk about how many lives they have touched and changed,” she said. “They made such a big difference for all of us and gave us such an example of how to live the Gospel.”
Embry, a palliative care and hospice nurse, was a single mother then, trying to figure out her life. She said Martha ministered to her and taught her the Gospel one on one, guiding her to the Scriptures for appropriate wisdom at every turn in her life's circumstances.
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Choking back tears, Kill, 54, announced Wednesday morning that he was retiring immediately, shocking fans across the state as he explained that he could no longer coach the way he wants because of his health issues.
With his wife, Rebecca, tearfully watching near the side of a university stage, Kill told a stunned audience that his seizures had returned, he hadn’t slept more than three hours a night in weeks, he had quit taking some of his medication and that he doesn’t “have any more energy.”
“This is not the way I wanted to go out,” Kill said. “But you all know about the struggles, and I did my best to change. But some of those struggles have returned, and I don’t want to cheat the game.”
Read it all from the Star-Tribune.
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The Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada say that they recognise the “deep pain” that will be caused by next year’s General Synod vote on allowing same-sex marriage in Church; and question whether the Synod’s parliamentary-style procedures are “the most helpful way to discern the mind of the Church, or of the Spirit, in this matter.”
In 2013, Canada’s triennial General Synod approved a resolution asking its Council to prepare and present a motion that would to change the church’s Canon 21 “to allow the marriage of same-sex couples in the same way as opposite-sex couples” with “a conscience clause so that no member of the clergy, bishop, congregation or diocese should be constrained to participate in or authorize such marriages against the dictates of their conscience.”
That motion is due to be debated when the Synod next meets in Toronto from 7 to 13 July 2016. As a doctrinal matter, if approved, the motion would be sent to the provincial synods for information and would need to approved again by the General Synod in 2019 before it would take effect.
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[The] Reverend David West said it was the first lecture the church had banned and admitted the timing was “unfortunate”, saying he only became aware of the content of the talk on Monday....
“We use church property for all sorts of groups, but the content of any group can’t be offensive to the Anglican Church and assisted dying is something the Anglican and mainstream Christian churches object to.”
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Julie Lythcott-Haims noticed a disturbing trend during her decade as a dean of freshmen at Stanford University. Incoming students were brilliant and accomplished and virtually flawless, on paper. But with each year, more of them seemed incapable of taking care of themselves.
At the same time, parents were becoming more and more involved in their children’s lives. They talked to their children multiple times a day and swooped in to personally intervene anytime something difficult happened.
From her position at one of the world’s most prestigious schools, Lythcott-Haims came to believe that mothers and fathers in affluent communities have been hobbling their children by trying so hard to make sure they succeed, and by working so diligently to protect them from disappointment and failure and hardship.
Read it all from the Washington Post.
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...ever-resilient Syrians strive to maintain some shreds of social cohesion amid an overriding sense of insecurity and uncertainty about the future.
Daily conversations on Skype, WhatsApp and other social media applications help people stay in touch with those scattered around the world. One exile has developed a cellphone app to show where his friends are, lights on the screen indicating far-flung locales.
"Every night we spend at least an hour on WhatsApp trying to catch up," says Elia Samman, who runs a waste management business in Damascus, the capital, but is a native of Homs, once the country's third-largest city.
Of nine Homs families his family was close to, he says, only three remain in Syria. The rest have left for Sweden, Germany, Egypt, Persian Gulf nations or other destinations.
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A Richland County jury on Friday afternoon socked a local bar with a $3.85 million negligence verdict in connection with the bar’s role in serving liquor to a drunk man who several hours later rammed his Jeep into a car, killing 6-year-old Emma Longstreet.
The jury, which began deliberations Thursday afternoon and broke for the night, deliberated more than eight hours in the civil case before reaching a verdict sometime before 4 p.m. Friday.
“Justice was served,” said Emma’s father, David Longstreet, who with his wife, Karen, their three children, and Kenny Sinchak, a motorist in another car, brought the lawsuit against the Loose Cockaboose Sports Bar.
The jury found the bar was serving liquor after a state-mandated closing time, and that it had served an obviously intoxicated Billy Patrick Hutto.
Several hours later, Hutto, a repeat DUI offender, ran a red light going 60 mph and slammed into the Longstreets’ car in Lexington County while they were on their way to church. Emma died later in a local hospital.
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In the United States today, thousands of children under 18 have recently taken marital vows — mostly girls married to adult men, often with approval from local judges. In at least one case, a 10-year-old boy was legally married.
How is this possible? The minimum marriage age in most states is 18, but every state allows exceptions under which children under age 18 can wed.
The first common exception is for children marrying with “parental consent.” Most states allow children age 16 or 17 to marry if their parents sign the marriage license application.
Of course, one person’s “parental consent” can be another’s “parental coercion,” but state laws typically do not call for anyone to investigate whether a child is marrying willingly. Even in the case of a girl’s sobbing openly while her parents sign the application and force her into marriage, the clerk usually has no authority to intervene. In fact, in most states there are no laws that specifically forbid forced marriage.
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A friend of mine, happily married for many years, likes to tell a story. Over a 30th-anniversary dinner, and after a little too much wine, he said, “I love you, sweetheart. I’ve never been unfaithful, and I never will be.” He repeated that line a couple more times during the evening—until his wife put down her fork and said with all the warmth of a glacier, “Are you seeing someone else?”
The lesson of the tale: Even when done innocently, emphasizing one’s fidelity a little too often and earnestly can yield unwelcome results. Such may be the case in Rome, where more than 250 Catholic bishops from around the world have gathered in a three-week synod, ending Oct. 25, to discuss “the vocation and mission of the family in the contemporary world.”
Synods, from the Greek synodos for meeting or assembly, are purely advisory. They offer counsel to the pope on matters he chooses. As the Catholic Church’s supreme pastor, he can listen to their advice, ignore them or do something in between. But it is a rare bishop of Rome who would disregard the consensus of his brothers, so synods carry collegial weight.
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“If we don’t do this - what will our silence say?” argued Tara Sing, who spoke as seconder of the reaffirmation motion.
Mrs Sing echoed a call from Archbishop Glenn Davies, in his Presidential Address to the Synod, when he said “It is time that all Christians, especially Anglicans, should enter the discussion and graciously and sensitively explain the reasons why our good Creator has made marriage the way he has.”
Canon Sandy Grant, of Wollongong, moved the resolution, which “affirms once again that marriage, as a gift from God who made us male and female, is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life” and urged the Federal Parliament to uphold that definition.
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If we needed any further persuading that there is no hope of holding the Church together over this, we need look no further than the history and example of what has happened in the USA, or indeed in the worldwide Anglican Communion. Whatever the scolding of the arrogant, Western, liberal élite, Gafcon and ACNA are simply not going to compromise or go away. It is clear that if the Church of England goes the way of The Episcopal Church and abandons its historic doctrine and discipline regarding marriage and sexuality a number of both clergy and congregations will secede from the Church here as they have done in the US and Canada.
We feel, and I speak as one of them, that the teaching of Jesus, the witness of Scripture throughout the Bible, and the tradition of the church, is unambiguous: marriage is between one man and one woman, and all expressions of sexuality outside that relationship are sinful deviations from the will of God. Of course, in our different ways, we all fall short of that ideal, but that does not change God’s will and purpose, nor our obligation to maintain our witness to it, both by our doctrine and our practice. We also feel that this is not an issue that can be fudged or relegated to a secondary or minor status, but that it is fundamental to our witness, both for the good of men and women and for the good of society, not least of children.
The only question worth discussing then is how a dignified and respectful separation can be achieved, in such a way that neither side is disadvantaged or penalized.The worst case would be that we repeat the quarreling and litigation that have disgraced the name of Jesus in the USA. Neither would it be sufficient simply to pension off the clergy who decided to leave, as happened over the ordination of women. There are important questions about local church property and funds to be addressed. But perhaps more importantly or more basically there is the matter of honouring the integrity of both sides, however much we may feel that the others are seriously wrong, and leave God to be our judge.
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The bishop-elect of Dallas, George Sumner, observes that comprehensiveness, while often a point of pride for Anglicans, is in fact a difficult achievement, not to be taken for granted (“After Comprehensiveness,” Anglican Theological Review, Fall 2004). He writes:
We see that Episcopalians are fighting over same-sex relationships, and we assume that Anglicanism is comprehensive, and so we ask, what is the intellectual superstructure that allows us now to remain comprehensive? This is surely a mistake; we assume what needs to be shown. Comprehensiveness assumes that common and more central doctrines form a framework, an encompassing context into which lesser disagreements may be placed and so relativized. Such larger, often tacit, agreements keep a tradition in contention from descending into sheer incoherence. Anglicanism shows comprehensiveness when it achieves these goals of showing the more basic agreement, and so of putting disputes in context. Only pride would assume that such success is the essential quality of our tradition.If what we mean by comprehension is some kind of embrace of a “larger truth” on this issue, Sumner writes, that is the kind of muddled nonsense we must avoid.
Even for Anglicans up is not down, and black is not white; we too should make our yes a yes. We are not exempt from the law of noncontradiction. Either same-sex relationships are a blessing from God, or they are contrary to God’s will. While our tradition may prove comprehensive in many respects, if there is such a disagreement we cannot be comprehensive with respect to it. To deny this is to make of comprehensiveness a kind of transitional object by which we lull ourselves to sleep.Read it all.
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The grim reaper is feeling bullish.
Following success in California — the fifth state where doctors are now free to prescribe lethal doses of medication to terminally-ill or dying patients — so-called “right-to-die” activists have turned their eyes to Maryland, New York and beyond.
“I think that this is a national wave,” Maryland Del. Shane E. Pendergrass, D-Howard, told The Washington Post. Pendergrass plans to sponsor “right-to-die” legislation in January.
It’s a wave with the potential to sweep some of society’s most vulnerable — the elderly, the terminally ill and disabled — prematurely into the hereafter.
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A synod proposal to allow Anglican spouses of Catholics to receive Holy Communion has been rejected by the Archbishop of Birmingham.
The proposal, contained in the working document is due to be discussed at the synod next week.
If approved it would mean Anglicans being allowed to present themselves at Communion during Mass if they were married to a Catholic but unable to attend a service in their own denomination.
Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham, co-chairman of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (Arcic), set up to further unity, has criticised the move, however, saying it did not meet the demands of either the Code of Canon Law or the Ecumenical Directory.
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Reconciliation has been on the hearts and in the minds of our church for decades. In 2015, the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report, the #22Days project, and eighth national Anglican Indigenous Sacred Circle among others further highlighted the issue of reconciliation with Indigenous people, putting it front and centre for and within the Anglican Church of Canada.
Reflecting on survivor testimony and an examination of the Indian residential school system in policy and practice, the TRC was able to determine that history to be nothing short of cultural genocide. The TRC brought to light the traumatic effect of the schools on generations of survivors and their families, as well as the negative social repercussions in Indigenous communities.
“For those who have ears to hear, a conscience to stir, and a heart to move, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has humbled this nation to confess its sin, and to pray for guidance in walking in a new and different way with the First Peoples of this land,” Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, said in his opening sermon at this year’s Sacred Circle.
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A college degree practically stamped Andres Aguirre’s ticket to the middle class. Yet at age 40, he’s still paying the price of admission.
After a decade of repayments, Aguirre still diverts $512 a month to loans and owes $20,000.
The expense requires his family to rent an apartment in Campbell, Calif., because buying a home in a decent school district would cost too much. His daughter has excelled in high school, but Aguirre has urged her to attend community college to avoid the debt that ensnared him.
“I didn’t get the warmest reception on that,” he said. “But she understands the choice.”
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My parents announced their divorce calmly during our first and only family meeting. I was 14 and felt as if I had been punched in the face. There had been none of the clues leading up to it that my friends had described before their parents’ divorces. No screaming or dishes being thrown. Everything was quiet.
My parents said they loved my sister and me very much, that this wasn’t our fault. Later, when I grilled them separately, asking why, they each told me they never gave enough time to their relationship, that it was always all about the family.
“So it is our fault,” I said.
“No, no,” they assured me. They loved my sister and me and loved being parents.
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A video of a “moving and beautiful” ceremony of a deaf couple who wed in Limerick city last weekend is touching the hearts of thousands of people online.
The wedding of Tara Long, 26, from Kileely in Limerick, and Timmy Doona, from Killorglin in Kerry, who are both deaf, left the congregation in tears of joy in St John’s Cathedral in Limerick on Saturday last.
A video of part of the ceremony – where the bride surprised her husband-to-be with a special song performed in sign language – has been posted online by Tara’s brother and has now counted more than 6,000 views to date on YouTube.
Read it all and follow the link to the video.
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The first challenge is leadership. A whole-of-community approach requires leadership that embraces the community. Is there an identifiable leader, whether an individual or a coalition, who is broadly accepted as such and capable of bringing together a range of stakeholders? Do they have a clear vision of the change to which they are leading the community?
The second challenge to overcome is inertia. A whole-of-community approach may require changes in how we work together, how we communicate, how we allocate finite resources - and change is rarely easy. Bureaucratic processes, political turf wars, over stretched personnel, and the time worn "that's not how we've done things in the past" can all contribute to a fairly difficult barrier of inertia. Asking the right questions and having a strong leader can ease some of these strains, but at the core of the implementation, things will have to change in order to address the challenges facing our communities.
The third challenge to successful implementation is turning competitors into partners. Government ministries compete for influence and slices of a finite budget pie. Community organisations compete for funding and recognition in the community and by opinion leaders. Service providers may compete for clients and contracts. Once potential allies are identified, having a clear strategy in place on how to build partnerships is key to a sustainable, effective whole-of-community policy initiative - facilitated by good leadership and a rich understanding of the community brought out through asking the right questions.
Countering violent extremism in Australia is challenging. In order to succeed, we have to overcome existing community tensions and divisions. The Countering Community Division policy framework is presented as a way to gather community insights and resources, facilitate in-depth analysis and understanding of the current situation, and coordinate efforts across stakeholders so that we can begin to reunite the divided and strengthen our communities to counteract further radicalisation.
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For those of us who spend, or spent, most of our twenties single while friends and relations jumped into domestic duties -- leaving us adrift at family and church functions to face the perennial question "Are you dating anyone seriously?" -- this culture has its definite disadvantages.
But the big fat marriage culture has its perks, too. Prime among them: continual, albeit irritating, reminders to grow up and get responsible.
Conversely, today's zeitgeist asks "What's the hurry?" offering reassurance that "Thirty is the new twenty," and "Though you'd never marry this guy, it's fine to move in with him." But today's cultural heirs, bewildered Millennials in their late twenties and early thirties, end up in Meg Jay's counseling office feeling behind and trying to make up for lost time. They form the cautionary tales interspersing research in Jay's recent book The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter -- And How to Make the Most of Them Now.
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Perhaps it's not surprising that the best arguments against assisted suicide — especially advanced by such liberal icons as E.J. Dionne and Victoria Kennedy — are progressive. Liberals are generally happy for government to restrict individual freedoms to prevent violence and killing. They are also generally skeptical of the idea that choice leads to genuine freedom, especially for those without power on the margins of our culture.
Indeed, liberal states such as Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and, until this week, California had all recently rejected such legislation. Britain's attempt to pass an assisted-suicide bill also went down to overwhelming defeat.
To get a victory in California, its supporters were forced to bypass the regular legislative process (which defeated the bill) and instead consider the bill in a healthcare special session, and under unusual rules. This context is as telling as it is disturbing.
Read it all from the LA Times.
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My parish is a short drive from the house. Every Sunday I see the same people at 8:30 a.m.: the older couples whose children are grown, the many young families with their children, the teenagers who came with their parents but who would rather be in bed. This is the Mass I almost always attend alone. There are a few others who are also alone, though not many.
I serve as an acolyte twice a month, and on these Sundays I sit up at the front beside the priest. On other Sundays, I sit near the front of the church with a family I know. Apart from them, I know the director of music and worship, the deacons and the priests. Others in the parish are mainly just familiar faces, although they are the people with whom I take Communion each and every week.
At the end of Mass, I drive home to pick up my wife, Kim, and our three boys for the 10 a.m. liturgy at the Episcopal parish we attend as a family. Like my Catholic parish, this church is thriving, filled with young and old from a variety of backgrounds. There are cradle Episcopalians, ex-evangelicals who found life in the beauty of Episcopal liturgy and disaffected Roman Catholics. Because this is my family’s parish, I know these parishioners more deeply than the ones at my Catholic parish. My children play with their children, and our families regularly hang out together. During the liturgy I sit with Kim and my oldest son while his two brothers are downstairs for Sunday school. When it comes time for the Communion, we process to the altar rail where my wife and my son take Communion together. I cross my arms and am blessed by the priest. Apart from a few children, I’m the only person who does this.
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“Mommy, can I get some candy?”
“Yes,” I replied, undaunted in my attempt to preach the Word. My almost four year-old daughter had recently discovered two things: 1)There is a bowl of hard candy in the church office and 2) Mommy isn’t really interested in teaching a lesson about nutrition or risking a meltdown in the middle of a sermon.
This was not the first time I received such a request, but when I saw a usually placid face on the front row contort with shock and fear, I knew something was terribly wrong.
I whipped around to find my little girl balancing on tip-toe at the communion table. One hand gripped the table cloth laden with lit votives, while her brown curls and pudgy fingers trembled as she attempted to set her own candle aflame.
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[Tiffany Wilson]..and her family had to be rescued from their home near Swan Lake Sunday. Her woke up to her dog wimpering in the back yard, where she say he was under water.
"I panicked because I have a six week old baby, and I have an eight-year-old son. Plus, I have a disabled Dad. So, my thought was to get everybody out."
Walking back into her new reality, Wilson says it was tough to see.
"I cried," stated Wilson.
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But the Elle essay suggests yet another understanding of how secularism interacts with spiritual experience. In this scenario, the key feature of the secular world-picture isn’t that it requires people to reinterpret their numinous experiences as strictly psychological events; it’s simply that it discourages people who have such experiences from embracing any kind of systematic (that is, religious/theological) interpretation of what’s happened to them, and then as a corollary discourages them from seeking out a permanent communal space (that is, a religious body) in which to further interact with these ultimate realities. Under secularism, in other words, most people who see a ghost or have a vision or otherwise step into the supernatural are still likely to believe in the essential reality of their encounter with the otherworldly or transcendent; they’re just schooled to isolate the experience, to embrace it as an interesting (and often hopeful) mystery without letting it call them to the larger conversion of life that most religious traditions claim that the capital-S Supernatural asks of us in return.
What secularism really teaches people, in this interpretation, isn’t that spiritual realities don’t exist or that spiritual experiences are unreal. It just privatizes the spiritual, in a kind of theological/sociological extension of church-state separation, and discourages people from organizing either intellectual systems (those are for scientists) or communities of purpose (that’s what politics is for) around their sense, or direct experience, that Something More exists.
This interpretation – which I think is clearly part of the truth of our time — has interesting implications for the future of religion in the West....what you see in the Elle piece is that in the absence of strong institutions and theological systems dedicated to the Mysteries, human beings and human society can still make sense of these experiences through informal networks, private channels, personalized interpreters. And to the extent that these informal networks succeed in satisfying the human hunger for interpretation, understanding and reassurance — as they seem to have partially satisfied Peter Kaplan’s widow — then secularism might be more resilient, more capable of dealing effectively with the incorrigibility of the spiritual impulse, than its more arid and strictly materialist manifestations might suggest.
Read it all.
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