Posted by Kendall Harmon

The time has come when, as a society, we say that those who are abused are never at fault. In the Church of England, the issue is known as ‘the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults’. It is not simply a question of children. Adults who have been the survivors of previous abuse when they were younger, or who are in a vulnerable position because of pastoral need, are no more to blame than anyone else. They are the objects of a terrible wrong. And I pledge that any allegation brought to the Church will be taken seriously and rigorously investigated.

I long for the day when not only in the institutions of the Church, but also among every Christian, we show that we understand that those who have things done to them are never the ones to be blamed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexualityViolence* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 1, 2014 at 6:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This Synod is an opportunity to express timeless truths about marriage. Why do those truths matter? How do they represent true love, not “exclusion” or “prejudice,” or any of the other charges brought against marriage today? Men and women need desperately to hear the truth about why they should get married in the first place. And, once married, why Christ and the Church desire that they should remain faithful to each other throughout their lives on this earth. That, when marriage gets tough (as it does for most couples), the Church will be a source of support, not just for individual spouses, but for the marriage itself.

You have written so powerfully, Holy Father, of the importance of a new evangelization within the Church: “An evangelizing community gets involved by word and deed in people’s daily lives; it bridges distances, it is willing to abase itself if necessary and it embraces human life, touching the suffering flesh of Christ in others.”

May we humbly suggest that in the context of marriage and family life your words are a call to personal responsibility, not only for our own spouses and children, but for the marriages of those God has put by our side: our relatives and friends, those in our churches and in our schools.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenGlobalizationMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesEvangelicalsRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 29, 2014 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The “squeezed middle” is being forced to endure a lower standard of living more than a decade on from the credit crunch, keeping consumer spending growth below pre-crisis levels.

The EY Item Club predicts that real take-home pay in 2017 will still be below the rate in 2007 because of subdued wage growth.

The economic forecaster’s report will make for uneasy reading for George Osborne as he prepares to address the Conservative party conference today, and it is compounded by further evidence from a free market think-tank of the existence of a “cost of living crisis”.

Read it all (requires subscription).



Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 29, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What is the point of this world synod of Catholic bishops on the family that is starting in Rome on October 5, a week tomorrow?

Most talk in the papers and in the crabbed and febrile world of the internet has been about whether divorced people who remarry should receive Holy Communion. This matters, because Communion is the symbol and channel of a Christian’s spiritual relations with God. And yet Pope Francis, who, we have learnt, is no friend of laws as a substitute for ideals, says that this is not the point of the synod at all.

The Pope often speaks openly when he shares an aeroplane with journalists, and, on the way back from his pilgrimage to the Holy Land earlier this year, he said: “I have not been happy that so many people – even church people, priests – have said: 'Ah, the synod will be about giving Communion to the divorced’.” His difficulty was that he “felt everything was being reduced to casuistry”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

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Posted September 28, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Morningstar Youth and Family Life Center, a 13,000-square-foot facility and a $5.7 million project, is expected to open in a year. As speaker after speaker pointed out at the ceremony, the project is a real-life lesson to never abandon a dream.

Miles, pastor of Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church, is 69. How old was he when first began work to assemble property for the center?

"About 44," Miles said, smiling.

Plans are for the center to serve about 200 people a day, including youths and seniors, with a wide range of programs and services including math, science and computer tutoring; jobs skills training; food and clothing programs; counseling; and sports programs.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted September 28, 2014 at 2:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tommy Montgomery was 9 years old when he watched his hard-drinking, abusive father stab his mother to death in their Charleston home, plunging a knife into her body 38 times. Her screams and the blood-soaked images from that day haunted him for years, stealing his sleep, filling him with anxiety and fueling hallucinations that churned in his brain.

Montgomery dropped out of school, cycled through low-paying jobs and turned to drugs and drink to chase away his demons. In the end, he unleashed his bottled-up rage on others, just like his father had done.

Nine months after he was accused of choking his wife in March 2009, Montgomery killed a church music director in North Charleston, stabbing him 92 times. Then, DNA testing revealed he was responsible for slitting the throat of a woman in a Charleston park three years earlier, police said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 28, 2014 at 11:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the high divorce rate has ceased to shock or even concern many people. Divorce has become an acceptable, normal fact of life. The predominant view is that many marriages break down through no fault on the part of either spouse: they simply “grow apart.” And so—the thinking goes—one cannot expect married men and women to keep their vows to remain devoted to each other until death parts them. If marriage is a love relationship, and the love has died, is it not pointless to continue with the charade of “marriage”?

But this conventional wisdom is based on a redefinition of what marriage is. In the traditional understanding, the term “marriage” is reserved for the comprehensive union of a man and a woman—bodily, emotional, and spiritual—of the kind that would be naturally fulfilled by conceiving and rearing children together (even though in some instances that fulfillment is not reached). In the alternative view, marriage is seen as an essentially emotional and sexual relationship that, by implication, can be dissolved when the relationship is no longer emotionally fulfilling.

This false view has caused marriage to be fragile and has led to immeasurable tragedy for children, wives, and husbands. In this view, children are only extrinsic additions—burdens or benefits. And if the emotional closeness has been lost, it seems to follow that the marriage itself has simply broken down of its own accord and can be dissolved. This view has led to the rising divorce rates we’re seeing reported.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted September 26, 2014 at 4:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fewer than one in five adults worldwide can be considered thriving -- or strong and consistent -- in levels of purpose well-being, as measured by the inaugural Gallup-Healthways Global Well-Being Index in 2013. Residents living in the Americas are the most likely to be thriving in this element (37%), while those in Asia and the Middle East and North Africa are the least likely (13%).

The Global Well-Being Index measures each of the five elements of well-being -- purpose, social, financial, community, and physical - through Gallup's World Poll. Purpose well-being, which is defined as people liking what they do each day and being motivated to achieve their goals, was the lowest performing element of the five elements of well-being. Global results of how people fare in 135 countries and areas in this element, as well as the four other elements, have been compiled in the State of Global Well-Being report.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenGlobalizationMarriage & FamilyPsychologySociology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted September 26, 2014 at 7:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For better or worse, change is not coming next month. This year's synod is supposed to prepare the agenda for another, larger synod in October next year. That second gathering will then make recommendations to the pope, with whom the final decision on any change will lie.

Pope Francis could choose to leave the work of mercy in this area to a commission he established last month for the purpose of simplifying and streamlining the marriage-annulment process. The pope has suggested that as many as half of all Catholic marriages are actually invalid, "because people get married lacking maturity, they get married without realizing that it is a lifelong commitment, they get married because society tells them they have to get married."

Focusing on reform of the annulment process could be appealing to a leader who, for all his innovations, has declared himself a "son of the church" on moral teaching. As the pope has said regarding contraception, "the question is not whether to change the doctrine, but to go deeper and make sure that pastoral care takes account of situations and of what each person is able to do."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & Family* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySacramental TheologyEucharistTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 26, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Consider also the reasons given by Francis and Anne which are partly personal fears and partly about a false altruism. Not wanting to ‘watch the slow decline of a partner’; fear of going to a nursing home; ‘too many people on this earth’- making more pension money available for others; not wanting to ‘dig into our savings’ and not being able to do the things they could at an earlier age. Add this to John Paul’s clear point that he didn’t want to look after them, and it’s almost a ‘perfect storm’ of lack of imagination, lack of a willingness to care and to look towards other alternatives.

There is also an insidious cultural side to this affair evident in the reporting at Moustique. There is no alternate voice here; no suggestion that promoting this story might have a deleterious effect upon others. No help lines promoted, no questioning in any constructive way. The social question, as always, is about the cart and the horse – is the media effectively pushing the issue or is it, as it may claim, simply reflecting the vox populi?

This is not a ‘celebration of choice’; far from it. It is a rationalization devoid of humanity and created, in the first instance by the legal possibility of euthanasia. It is then abetted by whatever it is in that family and that society that confirmed and supported the kind of dysfunction that allowed the children to confirm and assist instead of saying a clear, No, and offering every alternate support, no matter what the cost.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyMediaPsychologySuicideReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeBelgium* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 26, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Craning his neck, he sought the eyes of his daughter, Maureen Stefanides, who had promised to get him out of this place. “I want to go home, to my books and my music,” he said, his voice whispery but intense.

He was still her handsome father, the song-and-dance man of her childhood, with a full head of wavy hair and blue eyes that lit up when he talked. But he was gaunt now, warped like a weathered plank, perhaps by late effects of an old stroke, certainly by muscle atrophy and bad circulation in his legs.

Now she was determined to fulfill her father’s dearest wish, the wish so common among frail, elderly people: to die at home.

But it seemed as if all the forces of the health care system were against her — hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, insurance companies, and the shifting crosscurrents of public health care spending.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & Family

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Posted September 26, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If the church upholds this kind of decision, it is endorsing cruelty, discrimination and exclusion. Pope Francis’ view is that this is exactly the kind of thing that requires the church to exercise mercy not rigidity. But allowing a married gay couple to sing in the choir as an act of “mercy” would merely further expose the fragility of the church’s thirteenth century views of human sexuality. It would put the lie to the otherness of gay people; to the notion that it is essential or even possible for a tiny minority to live entirely without intimacy or love or commitment. It also reveals that gay men have long been a part of the church – and tolerated, as long as they lied about their lives and gave others plausible deniability with respect to their sexual orientation. It is an endorsement of dishonesty.

None of this is compatible with the core moral teachings of the church – about fairness, truth, compassion, forgiveness, mercy and inclusion. And this is clear to large numbers of Catholics – especially the younger generation who will rightly view this kind of decision as barbaric and inhuman. There is only so much inhumanity that a church can be seen to represent before its own members lose faith in it. I recall the feelings of my own niece and nephew who lost a huge amount of respect for the church when they heard a homily denouncing the civil marriage of their own uncle. I notice the outcry among Catholic high school students when a teacher was fired for the very same reason. When a church responds to an act of love and commitment not by celebration but by ostracism, it is not just attacking a couple’s human dignity; it is also attacking itself.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyMediaPsychologySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture


Posted September 25, 2014 at 5:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...in early August, a 27-year-old priest who had just begun working at the parish summoned them to a meeting, according to local news reports. And at that meeting, he told them that they could no longer be choir members, perform any other roles like that or, for that matter, receive communion.

If they wanted those privileges restored, there was indeed a remedy, which the priest and other church officials spelled out for them over subsequent conversations. They would have to divorce. They would have to stop living together. And they would have to sign a statement that marriage exists only between a man and a woman.

Translation: Renounce a love fortified over 30 years. Unravel your lives. And affirm that you’re a lesser class of people, barred from the rituals in which others blithely participate.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyMediaPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Theology


Posted September 25, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A father’s level of education is the strongest factor determining a child’s future success at school, creating a self-reinforcing cycle of poverty and lack of achievement passed down from parents to children in Britain, according to research.

The report from the Office for National Statistics claims that children are seven and a half times less likely to be successful at school if their father failed to achieve, compared with children with highly educated fathers.

A mother’s education level was important to a lesser degree, with a child approximately three times as likely to have a low educational outcome if their mother had a low level of education.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationMarriage & FamilyMenPsychology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted September 24, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Doubtless, death is a loss. It deprives us of experiences and milestones, of time spent with our spouse and children. In short, it deprives us of all the things we value.

But here is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long is also a loss. It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.

Americans seem to be obsessed with...a valiant effort to cheat death and prolong life as long as possible. This has become so pervasive that it now defines a cultural type: what I call the American immortal.

I reject this aspiration. I think this manic desperation to endlessly extend life is misguided and potentially destructive. For many reasons, 75 is a pretty good age to aim to stop....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral Theology

17 Comments
Posted September 24, 2014 at 7:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Camden School for Girls, in London, which describes itself as one of the top 100 schools in the country is refusing to allow the Muslim teenager to start her A-levels unless she stops wearing the veil.

The 16-year-old, who has attended the school for the past five years, was supposed to start her sixth form studies this month. Her 18-year-old sister described the school's decision as “very upsetting” for the family and said: “My sister just wants to wear the niqab for her own reasons and attend a school. I don’t feel like her education should be compromised or the way she dresses should affect the way anyone looks at her.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureTeens / YouthWomen* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted September 24, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Study after study has confirmed that those who are involved in religion and those who are married are healthier, physically and mentally happier and live longer than those who are not.

"The health benefits of marriage are so strong that a married man with heart disease can be expected to live, on average, 1,400 days (nearly four years) longer than an unmarried man with a healthy heart," said Dr. Scott Haltzman, a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

"This longer life expectancy is even longer for a married man who has cancer or is 20 pounds overweight compared to his healthy but unmarried counterpart," Haltzman added. "The advantages for women are similar."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSociology

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Posted September 24, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“My sense of the big picture is that we’re moving toward laws like the one in Illinois, which accepts that the demand for surrogacy isn’t going away but recognizes the hazards and adds regulations and protections,” said Joanna L. Grossman, a family law professor at the Hofstra University law school.

The Illinois law requires medical and psychological screenings for all parties before a contract is signed and stipulates that surrogates be at least 21, have given birth at least once before and be represented by an independent lawyer, paid for by the intended parents.

The law allows only gestational surrogacy, in which an embryo is placed in the surrogate’s uterus, not the traditional kind, in which the surrogate provides the egg. In addition, it requires that the embryo created in a petri dish must have either an egg or a sperm from one of the intended parents.

“That eliminates some of the concerns about designer babies,” Professor Grossman said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 21, 2014 at 12:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The panel, which included doctors, nurses, insurers, religious leaders, lawyers and experts on aging, said Medicare and other insurers should create financial incentives for health care providers to have continuing conversations with patients on advance care planning, possibly starting as early as major teenage milestones like getting a driver’s license or going to college.

It called for a “major reorientation and restructuring of Medicare, Medicaid and other health care delivery programs” and the elimination of “perverse financial incentives” that encourage expensive hospital procedures when growing numbers of very sick and very old patients want low-tech services like home health care and pain management.

And it said that medical schools and groups that accredit and regulate health providers should greatly increase training in palliative care and set standards so that more clinicians know how to compassionately and effectively treat patients who want to be made comfortable but avoid extensive medical procedures.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentMedicaidMedicarePolitics in General

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Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even though the government is working hard to reform the GCSE and ensure that it is rigorous and challenging, it will not be included as one of the humanities options in the English Baccalaureate. This exclusion has not stemmed the rising numbers of those young people who value and want to study the subject, but that is primarily because the Ebacc was not compulsory and schools can still offer the subject as one of the ‘Progress 8’ that will be measured in performance tables.

But recent announcements from the Secretary of State suggest that the Conservative Party’s manifesto is likely to see the EBacc becoming compulsory, and that will have a disastrous impact on the numbers of students able to take a subject which they value so highly.

Perhaps the largest challenge is found in the desperate shortage of specialist or dedicated RE specialist teachers. It is shocking that more RE lessons are currently being taught by non-specialists than by teachers trained in the subject. One can only imagine the outcry if this was the situation with Maths or English. Encouraging new RE teachers requires the government to reconsider their current policy not to provide bursaries to PGCE students wishing to train as RE teachers. Why would anybody want to train to teach a subject which is undermined by central government in such a fashion?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenEducationMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 20, 2014 at 11:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Bishop of Manchester David Walker]...said, "[it is]...more important to get it right than get it quick. . . If we rush at this, we will simply end up repeating tired old failures to reach solutions."

He was interviewed alongside the Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Tim Dakin, by the Church of England's director of communications, Arun Arora. Bishop Dakin appeared more ready to emphasise the extent of the division within the College.

"These are Gospel issues that we are talking about," he said. "They go deep. They are very important to many of us, personally, or by conviction, or by a sense of deep commitment to a way of life."

He went on: "Our different traditions of wisdom and our understanding of reason have actually probably brought us to the point where we have got some deep disagreements and we need to be able to speak the truth in love to one another in a Christian way and then work out what we're going to do."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 19, 2014 at 5:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The College of Bishops of the Church of England has met for three days. Two of the days were devoted to the first of a series of shared conversations in the Church of England on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission.

The context and process for the conversations were set out in a paper to General Synod by the Bishop of Sheffield on 26 June 2014 available here which also identified two outcomes for the process.

The first is to enable the Church of England to reflect, in light of scripture, on the implications of the immense cultural change that has been taking place in society on issues of sexuality. How can the Church "proclaim the gospel afresh in every generation" as a missionary church in a changing culture ?

The second objective is to create space and an environment for the Church of England to live together as a family who disagree with one another. Recognising that this was the experience of the first disciples and apostles who went on to proclaim the Gospel across the world, how can the Church ensure that those with differing views on sexuality continue to share together a place of common baptism and faith ?

Read it all and listen to the podcast linked at the bottom as well.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted September 18, 2014 at 6:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Western society is currently experiencing what can only be described as a moral revolution. Our society’s moral code and collective ethical evaluation on a particular issue has undergone not small adjustments but a complete reversal. That which was once condemned is now celebrated, and the refusal to celebrate is now condemned.

What makes the current moral and sexual revolution so different from previous moral revolutions is that it is taking place at an utterly unprecedented velocity. Previous generations experienced moral revolutions over decades, even centuries. This current revolution is happening at warp speed.

As the church responds to this revolution, we must remember that current debates on sexuality present to the church a crisis that is irreducibly and inescapably theological. This crisis is tantamount to the type of theological crisis that Gnosticism presented to the early church or that Pelagianism presented to the church in the time of Augustine. In other words, the crisis of sexuality challenges the church’s understanding of the gospel, sin, salvation, and sanctification. Advocates of the new sexuality demand a complete rewriting of Scripture’s metanarrative, a complete reordering of theology, and a fundamental change to how we think about the church’s ministry.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted September 17, 2014 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An Anglican clergyman is facing opposition from parishioners over a service in his local church to bless his same-sex civil partnership.

The Rev Dominic McClean, the Rector of 13 parishes around the village of Market Bosworth in Leicestershire, invited parishioners to the special service this weekend to mark his civil union with his partner, Tony Hodges.

The service, taking place in the 14th Century St Peter’s Church in Market Bosworth on Saturday next week was given a go-ahead by the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Rev Tim Stevens, who led the Church of England’s opposition in the House of Lords to the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted September 17, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Janna Weaver is proud she’s managed to keep her bamboo plant alive for more than a year. She’s not quite ready for a pet yet, and a child? “Definitely not anytime soon.”

“I want to know who I am before I bring someone else into the equation,” said Weaver, 25, who has a master’s degree in exercise physiology and moved with her boyfriend to Dallas in July. “The longer I wait and the more established I am, the more I’ll be able to provide for the family.”

More U.S. millennial women, those born after 1980, are holding off on motherhood, which bodes well for their economic and social mobility and that of their future children, according to recent research. Odds are that lower U.S. birth rates are here to stay, even if some of the recession-induced decline reverses, said Isabel Sawhill, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyWomenYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted September 16, 2014 at 11:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

He was appointed Dean of St Albans in 2004 and two years later he and his partner Rev Grant Holmes entered into a civil partnership.

Dr John was shortlisted last year for Exeter but the vote went narrowly against him, even though his performance at interview was outstanding. His name was also withdrawn previously from the Southwark diocesan appointment process because of opposition from the conservative wing.

The shortlisting of Dr John once again is an indication that the Church is taking seriously its pledge to "listen" to the gay community. Last year the Church dropped its prohibition on gay clergy in civil partnerships becoming bishops, which effectively removed the bar against the elevation of clergy such as Dr John, who are openly gay but live within the guidelines stipulated by the Church, which demands celibacy and, controversially, forbids its gay clergy from marrying their partners.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted September 16, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After I published a story about my grandmother’s dilemma on July 24 last year, I received hundreds of emails and letters from readers worldwide. Some wrote about struggles they’d experienced with their relatives. Others were anxious about their parent-care challenges ahead.

“I have never cried when reading a Bloomberg story,” wrote one reader. “I am going to make sure to talk with my grandmother about what she wants when she reaches that point.”

The story was also read by medical professionals. Kojiro Tokutake, a Japanese gastroenterologist, shared his story about his own internal conflict about the value of tube feeding. His experiences formed the basis of another story that I published.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaJapan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 16, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This private university in Nashville – which once had Methodist ties – affirmed that creeds were acceptable, except when used as creeds. Orthodoxy was OK, except when it conflicted with the new campus orthodoxy that, in practice, banned selected orthodoxies.

Ultimately, 14 religious groups moved off campus, affecting 1,400 evangelical, Catholic and Mormon students. Stripped of the right to use the word “Vanderbilt,” some religious leaders began wearing shirts proclaiming simply, “We are here.”

In the furor, some conservatives called this struggle another war between faith and “secularism.” In this case, that judgment was inaccurate and kept many outsiders from understanding what actually happened, according to the Rev. Tish Harrison Warren, an Anglican minister who worked with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Vanderbilt during the dispute.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexualityYoung Adults* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 15, 2014 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

HIRSCH: I was completely shocked when Gabriel died and I tried to go back to work after a while and I couldn't really function at work and so in order to alleviate my grief I began to write a document in which I wrote down everything I could remember about Gabriel. I suddenly became desperate that I would forget things because I'd lost him so suddenly, so completely. It all was sort of a blur and I wanted to remember and I began to talk to my partner, to my ex-wife, to my sisters, to my mother, to Gabriel's friends and every day I went to a coffee shop and I basically tried to tell the story of Gabriel's life....

GREENE: You've said though that poetry is not a protection against grief.

HIRSCH: On the contrary, poetry takes courage because you have to face things and you try to articulate how you feel. I don't like the whole language of healing which seems to me so false. As soon as something happens to us in America everyone begins talking about healing, but before you heal you have to mourn and I found that poetry doesn't shield you from grief but it does give you an expression of that grief. And trying to express it, trying to articulate it gave me something to do with my grief.....

GREENE: Talking about - mourning and grief it makes me want to hear another passage from your poem. It's on page 73, and it starts with, I did not know the work.....

HIRSCH: (Reading) I did not know the work of mourning is like carrying a bag of cement up a mountain at night. The mountaintop is not in sight, because there is no mountaintop. Poor Sisyphus Greif. I did not know I would struggle through a ragged underbrush without an upward path. Because there is no path, there is only a blunt rock with a river to fall into and time with its medieval chambers. Time with its jagged edges and blunt instruments. I did not know the work of mourning is a laborer in the dark we carry inside ourselves. Though sometimes when I sleep I'm with him again and then I wake. Poor Sisyphus Greif. I'm not ready for your heaviness cemented to my body. Look closely and you will see almost everyone carrying bags of cement on their shoulders. That's why it takes courage to get out of bed in the morning and climb into the day.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenDrugs/Drug AddictionMarriage & FamilyPoetry & LiteraturePsychology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyPastoral Theology

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Posted September 15, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From his own wallet, Kowbeidu also supports his siblings and obsesses over spending his money on Western luxuries. After Valerie threw him a 50th birthday party, he made her promise no more. That money could help Liberian children attend school, as he received help.

"I am here because of God's generosity through God's people," he says. "From whence I came, I pray I never forget."

That's largely what made him run for Mount Pleasant Town Council last year, he says.

"This country has given me more than I could have imagined," he says. "I want to give back."

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeMissionsParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMarriage & Family* International News & CommentaryAfricaLiberia* South Carolina* Theology

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Posted September 14, 2014 at 6:24 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Most young people want a happy marriage and family life. As a new report from the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia shows, the choices people make in their relationships prior to marriage matter. Unfortunately, the laissez-faire sexual practices embraced and promoted in our culture today don’t build a strong foundation for marriage.

According to the report, authored by Galena K. Rhoades and Scott M. Stanley of the University of Denver, individuals with more sexual partners and cohabitation experience tend to report poorer marital quality, as do couples with children from prior relationships. And yet, today the average person reports five sexual partners prior to marriage. Less than one quarter (23 percent) have only had sex with the person they marry. Cohabitation is also common, with the majority of people cohabiting prior to marriage. And more than 40 percent of all children are born outside of marriage.

The pathway to marriage is a precarious one today. Sexual freedom and experimentation pervade our culture. Yet they jeopardize the outcomes that most people say they desire. An anything-goes ideology marginalizes intentional decision-making in these most important areas of marriage and sexual activity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyYoung Adults

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Posted September 13, 2014 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Were these publications justified in rejecting this advertisement?

The simple answer is “yes.” And it has nothing to do with the truthfulness of the ad’s message or the lack thereof. Rather, these are independent evangelical publications who hold to a particular view of marriage. They have audiences with expectations about what is and isn’t consistent with a Christian worldview. And they should be free to only publish content that is consistent with both....

We’re now facing a perennial issue where activists on both sides of this debate expect to be invited to every party and demand to be heard in whatever forum they choose. I’m sorry, but a conservative publication should not be shamed for rejecting an ad that flies in the face of their convictions and beliefs. And, similarly, a liberal organization committed to marriage equality should be free to rescind a speaker’s invitation when they learn the speaker holds to a divergent position.

Have we finally arrived at a moment where Christians of mutual goodwill attack their brothers and sisters not only for disagreeing with their position on sexuality, but also for not advertising it for them?


Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyMediaReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

3 Comments
Posted September 13, 2014 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Twenty stories above ground zero, its existence and whereabouts known only to those who needed it, the Family Room served for a dozen years as a most private sanctuary from a most public horror.

It was spartan office space at a 54-story tower at 1 Liberty Plaza for families to be by themselves, a temporary haven where they could find respite from bad weather and the curious stares of passers-by. Piece by piece, without any planning, it was transformed into an elaborate shrine known only to them.

Unconstrained and undesigned, a profusion of intimate expressions of love and loss filled the walls of the room, the tabletops, the floors and, even, the windows, obscuring views of the World Trade Center site below, as if to say: Jim and John and Jonathan and Harvey and Gary and Jean and Welles and Isaias and Katherine and Christian and Judy are all here, with us, not down there in the ruins.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted September 12, 2014 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Now]...this week, his name now as much a part of NFL culture as its most famous players and teams, the 55-year-old commissioner began taking on heavy fire for his judgment and ability to perform his self-described job description. Scrutiny, particularly recently, is nothing new, but it has never been harsher than this week, following the publishing of a video Monday that showed former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, and then dragging her unconscious body out of an Atlantic City casino elevator. It was footage, Goodell told the “CBS Evening News” on Tuesday, he had not seen during the NFL’s earlier investigation into the matter.

Goodell’s words eased little of the pressure on the commissioner, and in fact, those in and around the NFL community have begun scrutinizing Goodell’s priorities and, in some cases, calling for his job.

Depending on viewpoint, the NFL was either unable despite its vast resources to procure the same video from the Revel Hotel and Casino that TMZ somehow acquired and published. Or, as TMZ reported Tuesday morning, the league simply never asked for it in an effort to ferry out a lighter punishment for Rice.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyMenSexualitySportsViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted September 10, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Christian Church as a whole, a body of which the Church of England is one branch, has held a consistent position with regard to sexual ethics over the past two millennia, with a remarkable degree of unanimity. That is, marriage is defined as an exclusive, permanent union between one man and one woman, and that sexual activity outside this union cannot be considered holy. The Church has always sought to uphold this principle while at the same time applying appropriate pastoral practice at the local level, both where the principle has been breached “through weakness and through deliberate fault”, and where men and women despite temptation aim to conform their lives to the historic understanding of Christ’s teaching in this area. But the principle of Christian marriage, deriving from the clear teaching of Scripture, Church tradition, and fellowship with the worldwide body of Christ, cannot be overturned or redefined without a serious fracture in the church today, and a severance from what ties us to authentic Christian faith.

In view of this, Anglican Mainstream, representing the views of many faithful members of the Church of England, lay and ordained, views with dismay the recent statement by Changing Attitude, urging the House of Bishops to rescind the February Statement on marriage, and to allow couples in same sex relationships, especially clergy, to marry, and be blessed in church.

The Changing Attitude statement is unhelpful and should be politely rejected, for the following reasons:

a) the Shared Conversations of Sexuality, Scripture and Mission are about to begin, and the process will last more than two years. After the conversations are over, motions and resolutions can be put before Synod by those on different sides of the argument, and debated. The Bishops have no authority to make the kind of changes demanded by Changing Attitude before this time. In the meantime, Bishops have responsibility to promote and defend the teaching of the Church, and should not be bullied by lobby groups to do otherwise.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 8, 2014 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Changing Attitude England urges a change of policy and practice on the House of Bishops in response to the high levels of anxiety and insecurity being felt LGBTI clergy, licensed lay ministers, and ordinands and the anger and frustration being felt by gay and straight Anglicans.

We urge the House of Bishops to review the Pastoral Guidance document:

There are strong theological arguments for accepting and celebrating same-sex partnerships, including marriage.
Clergy and congregations should be free to conduct services of thanksgiving and blessing for married same-sex couples.
The threat of sanctions against clergy who marry should be removed to enable LGBTI clergy and lay ministers to participate in the mutual conversations.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 8, 2014 at 4:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

ike many Americans, I have changed my mind on gay marriage—though my change of mind has gone the opposite way of most. My support for gay marriage was early and enthusiastic. In high school I wrote a research paper titled “Gay Marriage as a Constitutional and Human Right.” I was earnest and impassioned, motivated by a desire to see justice done and unsure of how or why anyone could disagree.

I triumphantly quoted J. S. Mill’s On Liberty, and cited Socrates in Plato’s Apology, about the limits of religious views on civic matters and the growth of our national wisdom, respectively. The arguments seemed clear. I agreed with Jon Meacham, “society can no more deny a gay person access to the secular rights and religious sacraments because of his homosexuality than it can reinstate Jim Crow.”

Then something changed. As I entered college, I found myself being drawn from social democratism to conservatism thanks to Roger Scruton, and from skepticism back to the Catholic Christianity of my upbringing thanks to Pascal, Chesterton, and David Bentley Hart. But I still held to the consent-based or revisionist view of marriage, rather than the conjugal view defended by Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert P. George. The turning point came when I read a paper by Scruton and Phillip Blond. They distinguished how a romantic union between two individuals of the same sex could have the same level of intensity as that between two individuals of the opposite sex. Yet they said that the conjugal view of marriage did not see exclusivity of romance as the telos of marriage. Rather, it “extends beyond the individuals who marry to the children they hope to create and the society they wish to shape.”

I came to realize the institution of marriage is not merely a private contract between two partners....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyMenPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureWomen* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 7, 2014 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One of the worst career moves a woman can make is to have children. Mothers are less likely to be hired for jobs, to be perceived as competent at work or to be paid as much as their male colleagues with the same qualifications.

For men, meanwhile, having a child is good for their careers. They are more likely to be hired than childless men, and tend to be paid more after they have children.

These differences persist even after controlling for factors like the hours people work, the types of jobs they choose and the salaries of their spouses. So the disparity is not because mothers actually become less productive employees and fathers work harder when they become parents — but because employers expect them to.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyMenWomen* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

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Posted September 7, 2014 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Divorcing parents who try to maintain an amicable relationship for the sake of their children are doing nothing to help them, a major study suggests.

The impact of the split on youngsters is the same whether or not the mother and father keep cordial links, it found.

The findings undermine a Government-backed consensus that the harm caused to children by separating parents can be limited if the couple remain friends.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 6, 2014 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two years after the Episcopal Church voted to allow the blessings of same-sex unions, Milwaukee's bishop has opened the door for blessings to take place in his diocese.

But the new rite, created by Milwaukee Bishop Steven A. Miller, will be available only to those couples already married by civil authorities, and only in churches where the vestry, or parish council, signs off on its use.

The decision, outlined by Miller in a letter to clergy dated Aug. 29, appears to be a compromise between the personal convictions of the bishop, who has criticized the rite approved by the national church as deficient, and most of the clergy in the diocese, who had been pushing for him to allow its use locally.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 5, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

New York state, Minnesota and Washington, D.C., all have pending legislation that would legalize the practice of commercial surrogacy—paying someone to have a baby on your behalf. Reproductive technology has made surrogacy possible since the 1980s, but it remained relatively rare until recent years as the technology improved and the legalization of same-sex marriage increased the number of childless couples eager to have children.

The Catholic Church has long opposed surrogacy, whether paid or unpaid. Nowadays, with increasing pressure for the legalization of paid surrogacy, the church has found itself with an unfamiliar ally: feminists.

The Catholic Church and women's rights groups are accustomed to clashing over policy matters involving contraception and abortion. But now the two camps can often be found working hand in hand when it comes to protecting both women and children from being exploited in the growing and largely unregulated fertility industry.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 5, 2014 at 5:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Decades ago, baby boomers and older Gen Xers pushed to create churches centered on the young, nuclear family. Sadly, this ministry model now excludes many of us. Having outgrown the local church’s core programs, we’re left to usher, teach fourth-grade Sunday school, or attend committee meetings. At times, I can’t help thinking: Been there, done that. Got the Christian T-shirt to prove it.

While local churches work to reach a younger generation, some of their graying members are stepping away. In our 50s, 60s, and beyond, we face a new set of challenges: relationship shifts, loneliness, health risks, divorce, and death. Boomers have begun attending church less frequently, according to Barna Research, while Gen Xers registered a significant uptick in those with no church affiliation.

I recently took an informal survey on my blog, and heard from nearly 500 believers about their church experiences as they’ve gotten older. Most stayed involved, using their extra empty-nester time to serve and continue their relationships with other congregants. But a little less than half said they’d scaled back their involvement from what it had been a decade ago. Those who had downshifted or left cited weariness with church politics, increased career demands, significant time devoted to caring for parents or grandchildren, health issues, and a sense that they’d somehow outgrown their church. “I’m tired of the same programs year after year,” one said. “I want deeper relationships with fewer people, more spiritual exercises like prayer and meditation than the canned studies offered.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyMiddle AgePsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted September 4, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"First day of school" photos have filled your Facebook and Instagram feeds. School crossing signs are popping up again on your daily commute. It's back-to-school time.

But not all kids are heading into comparable classrooms: There remains a raging debate over the quality—and equality—of public education in America.

In research conducted for the Barna FRAME, Schools in Crisis by Nicole Baker Fulgham, Barna Group asked Americans what they think about the country's public education: Only 7% of U.S. adults said the public education system in our nation is "very effective." Nearly half (46%) maintain that public schools have further declined in the last five years. A mere one-third of parents of school-age children (34%) say public schools are their first choice for their children.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted September 3, 2014 at 3:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The false premise goes something like this: Christianity, as a historical social phenomenon, basically adjusts its moral doctrines depending on the prevailing social conditions. Christianity, after all, gets its doctrines from "the Bible," a self-contradictory grab-bag of miscellany. When some readings from the Bible fall into social disfavor, Christianity adjusts them accordingly. There are verses in the Bible that condemn homosexuality, but there are also verses that condemn wearing clothes made of two threads, and verses that allow slavery. Christians today find ways to lawyer their way out of those. Therefore, the implicit argument seems to go, if you just bully Christianity enough, it will find a way to change its view of homosexuality, and all will be well. After all, except for a few shut-ins in the Vatican, most Christians today are fine with sexual revolution innovations such as contraception and easy divorce.

Look, there's obviously some truth in all that. Not every single bit of Christian morality has held constant over a history that spans two millennia, every continent, and almost every culture. And as Christians will be the first to admit, many strands of Christianity have been very accommodating of the idiosyncrasies of its host societies.

But this premise is also fundamentally mistaken, because the history of Christian ethics actually shows that the faith has been surprisingly consistent on the topic of sexuality. Christian opposition to homosexual acts is of a piece with a much broader vision of what it means to be a human being that Christianity will never part with.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 3, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At first I thought this was all a misunderstanding that could be sorted out between reasonable parties. If I could explain to the administration that doctrinal statements are an important part of religious expression—an ancient, enduring practice that would be a given for respected thinkers like Thomas Aquinas—then surely they'd see that creedal communities are intellectually valid and permissible. If we could show that we weren't homophobic culture warriors but friendly, thoughtful evangelicals committed to a diverse, flourishing campus, then the administration and religious groups could find common ground.

When I met with the assistant dean of students, she welcomed me warmly and seemed surprised that my group would be affected by the new policy. I told her I was a woman in the ordination process, that my husband was a PhD candidate in Vanderbilt's religion department, and that we loved the university. There was an air of hope that we could work things out.

But as I met with other administrators, the tone began to change. The word discrimination began to be used—a lot—specifically in regard to creedal requirements. It was lobbed like a grenade to end all argument. Administrators compared Christian students to 1960s segregationists. I once mustered courage to ask them if they truly thought it was fair to equate racial prejudice with asking Bible study leaders to affirm the Resurrection. The vice chancellor replied, "Creedal discrimination is still discrimination."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

3 Comments
Posted September 2, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon ordered a curfew Saturday in the city of Ferguson and declared a state of emergency after fresh violence erupted overnight amid public anger over the shooting death of an unarmed young black man by a white police officer.

The curfew will run from midnight to 5 a.m., starting Saturday night.

“This is a test,” Nixon said at a news conference, saying “the eyes of the world” are watching to see how the city handles the aftermath of the Aug. 9 death of Michael Brown, 18.

The announcement comes after community activists had taken to the streets and social media Saturday in hopes of preventing another night of looting and violence in Ferguson after at least three businesses fell victim to a predawn rampage by young men who targeted local stores as others tried desperately to stop them.

Read it all and join us in praying for all invovled.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireMarriage & FamilyRace/Race RelationsViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 16, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

From Ann Voskamp's blog, A Holy Experience. A beautiful reflection on sending her son off to college, partly written as a letter to her son, partly a reflection on parenting. You may need the kleenex for this! - the elves


[...] Remember how we read a million library books together? I’ll never regret every page we chose over screens.

We ate three meals a day together at a table (and don’t think that doesn’t change the shape of a soul and the world). And we never pushed back our chairs until we’d had our dessert of Scripture. Life is about one thing: Coming to His table and inviting as many as you can to come with you and feast on the only Living Food. We gave you this.

And for better or worse, your Dad and I taught you how to work hard. Make it for the world’s better, son. [...]

And never forget that happiness is when His Word and your walk are in harmony. Never stop keeping company with Christ– and all the sinners, tax-collectors and cast-offs. Be an evangelist and use your words with your hands because your part of a Body and never stop loving God with all your heart, mind and soul, and loving others as yourself. Make that your creed.

It’s true, son: Be different and know everything you do matters. It’s what the Christ followers know: One man with God can change a culture. God didn’t put people in your path mostly for your convenience; He put you there for theirs. Loving the poor will make you rich, I promise.

The only life worth living is the one lost.

And no matter how loud and crazy and broken the world is, child? Let joy live loud in your soul.

Believe that you are His beloved – it’s only when you trust that He loves you that you really begin to live. Really, count a thousand blessings more – why wouldn’t you want joy? Sing to no one and everyone on the front porch in the rain and laugh so much they question your sanity. Pet the dog long.

Because really, none of us knows how long we have. Remember that a pail with a pinhole loses as much as the pail pushed right over. A whole life can be lost in minutes wasted… in the small moments missed. None of this here is forever grace. That’s why it’s amazing grace.

Do it often: grab a lifeline by stepping offline. You’ll see your true self when you look for your reflection in the eyes of souls not the glare of screens.

This is what you always need to know: You have nothing to prove to anyone – if you’re in Him, you are already approved.

Read the full entry here.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyTeens / Youth* General Interest

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Posted August 14, 2014 at 9:49 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Hmmmm. Having children is now categorized as women successfully "meeting their fertility goals." Doesn't matter how you do it, it's all about choice and personal satisfaction. SAD. -the elves
More single U.S. women over the age of 35 are having children, even as the overall birth rates for unmarried women in the United States have dropped, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday. There were 1.6 million births to unmarried women in 2013, the lowest since 2005, when there were 1.5 million, the data showed.

Running counter to the trend were middle-aged and older women having children outside of marriage. The birth rate for unmarried women between the ages of 40 to 44 increased 29 percent from 2007 to 2012 and 7 percent during that time for those aged 35 to 39, the CDC said.

"Many women are postponing births until their 30s, and the stigma of having a child outside of marriage has faded," said Andrew Cherlin, a sociology professor at Johns Hopkins University who has studied the issue but was not involved with the CDC report.

Women who choose to give birth at an older age now have greater medical options for increasing fertility, said Sally Curtin, a CDC statistician and an author of the study. "There's more out there for women to meet their fertility goals," she said.

Here's the full article

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyWomen

2 Comments
Posted August 13, 2014 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Research shows that children are best brought up in families where a mum and dad are present. The role of fathers in the nurture of their children is unique and cannot be replaced by other so-called ‘male role-models’ or, indeed, an extra ‘mother’.

Research tells us that children relate to their fathers differently than to their mothers, and this is important in developing a sense of their own identity....

None of this should detract from the heroism of single parents. They should be provided with every support by the State and by local communities.

There is, however, a big difference between children growing up without fathers because of death or family breakdown, and actively planning to bring children into the world who will not know one of their biological parents and where such a parent will never be part of the nurture of these children.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 9, 2014 at 1:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jeff Bridges has been working on childhood hunger for longer than the children he champions today have been alive. In fact, it’s been a 30-year crusade. In the early 1980s, the Academy Award-winning actor founded the End Hunger Network, an organization focused on feeding children around the world. More recently, he’s focused on feeding kids here in the United States. Motivating the shift in Bridges’ attention is the reality that more than 16 million American kids live in households that are labelled “food insecure” – those that don’t know with certainty where their next meal will come from, or if it will come at all.

Watch the whole video.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchCharities/Non-Profit OrganizationsChildrenDieting/Food/NutritionEducationMarriage & FamilyMovies & Television

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Posted August 9, 2014 at 12:22 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An NHS Trust has withdrawn its offer of an appointment to an Anglican chaplain, after his bishop refused to grant him a licence on the grounds that he had defied the House of Bishops' pastoral guidance by marrying his same-sex partner.

The priest, Canon Jeremy Pemberton, is Deputy Senior Chaplain and Deputy Bereavement and Voluntary Services Manager in the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust. He married Laurence Cunnington in April, and the Acting Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham, the Rt Revd Richard Inwood, then withdrew his permission to officiate.

On 10 June, Canon Pemberton was offered a new job as Head of Chaplaincy and Bereavement Services in the Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. This was conditional on the Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham's issuing him with a licence....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 8, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Before birth, it is accepted practice to inject the heart of the unborn child with potassium chloride to cause death before inducing a stillbirth, or late term there may be a partial birth abortion in which during delivery an instrument is inserted into the child's brain through the back of the neck so it also is born dead. After birth, even the birth of a baby of the same or even less maturity or gestational age, to end the life would be regarded as a criminal offence in most jurisdictions.

Anecdotally, mothers who opt not to have their child given the fatal injection before birth are placed under great pressure to use the technique to prevent the birth of a child with a disability. It is a cognitive dissonance that seems irresolvable that birth, not maturity or gestational age, is what makes the difference in status of the infant.

Cultural attitudes to disability are obviously conflictual. Public reaction appears to condemn the commissioning couple for reportedly deserting a child on the basis of disability and the inherently discriminatory attitude involved, but would presumably have accepted the killing of baby Gammy before birth at the request of the commissioning couple or the agency, if the birth mother had acquiesced.

There are many other conflicts underlying this case.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted August 7, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“We should not be surprised if parents who have ordered a baby and rented a woman’s womb refuse it at birth if it is not healthy and perfect,” said an article published in the Vatican’s semiofficial newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.

“In fact if a child becomes a product to buy, it is obvious that as with any acquisition it must meet with the buyer’s approval.”

The strongly worded commentary was written by prominent Catholic feminist and regular contributor Lucetta Scaraffia, who argued the child’s rejection was to be expected in the “explosive mix” of consumerism combined with a “throwaway culture.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 6, 2014 at 4:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The first priest to marry his same-sex partner is to issue a legal challenge to the Church of England after his offer of a job as an NHS chaplain was withdrawn when his bishop refused the necessary permission.

The Rev Jeremy Pemberton, who married Laurence Cunnington in April, was informed on Friday that Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS trust had withdrawn its offer of a job after Bishop Richard Inwood had refused him the official licence in the diocese of Southwell and Nottingham.

"It this is not challenged," Pemberton said on Sunday, "it will send a message to all chaplains of whom a considerable number are gay and lesbian. This is an area of law that has not been tested and needs to be."

Read it all from the Guardian.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

3 Comments
Posted August 5, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Second-generation pagans — those whose parents were converts to pagan spirituality — are a lot like their peers in other faiths. They often do spirituality their own way. Or not at all.

“Born-to-it pagans just are who we are,” said Angela Roberts Reeder, 43, whose parents were involved in ceremonial magic when she was young.

This week, Reeder said she might continue the tradition by joining a public celebration for the first harvest festival of Lughnasa, also called Lammas, at a Washington, D.C., temple.

“Today, it’s so much easier to be openly pagan than 20 or 30 years ago” when converts often faced strong disapproval by family and society when they came out of the “broom closet,” so to speak, Reeder said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsWicca / paganism

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Posted August 4, 2014 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On a fall day in 2008, the kitchen phone rang inside the Arnetts’ ranch home in Southwick. It was a state social worker, asking if they would consider taking in a “foster child with disabilities.”

The couple didn’t hesitate. They had completed foster-care training two years before, already had cared for a handful of children, and refused to turn away anyone in need.

As devout Christians, they believed God’s work requires sacrifices, including from busy families like theirs raising three boys.

But the social worker didn’t want a quick answer over the phone, insisting instead on a face-to-face visit. A week later, when she and two supervisors showed up at the Arnetts’ house, carrying files and a videotape, they wasted little time before asking, “Have you heard of Haleigh Poutre?”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentState Government* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 3, 2014 at 2:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pattaramon [ Chanbua] was promised 300,000 baht ($9,300) by a surrogacy agency in Bangkok, Thailand’s capital, to be a surrogate for the Australian couple, but she has not been fully paid since the children were born last December.

She said the agency knew about Gammy’s condition four to five months after she became pregnant but did not tell her. It wasn’t until the seventh month of her pregnancy when the doctors and the agency told her that one of the twin babies had Down syndrome and suggested that she have an abortion just for him.

Pattaramon recalled strongly rejecting the idea, believing that having the abortion would be sinful. “I asked them, ‘Are you still humans?’ I really wanted to know,” she said Sunday.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenGlobalizationHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAsiaThailandAustralia / NZ

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Posted August 3, 2014 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The gentle probing in today’s debate, and the view that it is up to the CofE to address such issues, contrasts with the attitude of parliament towards the Church of England in the debates, PQs &c which followed the General Synod’s defeat on 20 November 2012 of the draft legislation to allow women to become bishops. Furthermore, the parliamentary record indicates that during this session of parliament, Sir Tony Baldry has not been required to respond or give a written answer on the marriage of clergy to their same-sex partners.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 2, 2014 at 11:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You need to fill in all three blanks first:
At least ______ % [of] adolescent students in Canada have reported being bullied recently

Among adult Canadians, _____% of males and _____% of females reported having experienced occasional or frequent bullying during their school years

_____% of Canadian workers experience bullying on a weekly basis
Now, see how you did and read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingChildrenEducationHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilySociology* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 2, 2014 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Philadelphia’s St. Paul Baptist Church hired the Rev. Leslie Callahan as its first female pastor, in 2009, she was nearing her 40th birthday and the tick-tock of her biological clock was getting hard to ignore.

She delighted in her ministry but also wanted a husband and children in her life. The husband she couldn’t do much about — he just hadn’t stepped into her life.

“But it was clear to me that I was going to do everything in my power to realize my dream of becoming a parent,” she said.Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureWomen* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

2 Comments
Posted August 1, 2014 at 11:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

'I am sending in a parcel, my pocket Bible and three shrapnel bullets, of which the following is the story’.

These are the opening words of letter 28 year old George Hever Vinall sent to his parents in July 1917 which tells the story of how he survived an artillery attack at the Frond and later found a bullet from the attack lodged in his Bible. It stopped at the verse in Isaiah which reads, ‘I will preserve thee’. George Vinall was so convinced that God had saved him, he became a Bible translator after the war.

Read it all and then read the whole letter about it and watch the accompanying Vimeo video.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksChildrenHistoryMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted August 1, 2014 at 7:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A week after my admission to my friend, I was sitting at a wedding Mass listening to the reading of a prayer written by the bride and groom. It asked that “all called to the generosity of the single or celibate . . . might inspire [name of bride and groom] by their conformity to Christ, and always find in them fiercely devoted friends, and in their house a second home.”

The prayer moved me, in part because I’d been going through my own period of loneliness, but also because it reminded me that the movement for gay marriage is absolutely right to demand that the institution be made more inclusive. Where it goes wrong is in supposing this can be done by asserting a free-floating right to marriage, rather than by insisting on the duty of every marriage to become a place of welcome. We can’t and shouldn’t redesign marriage under the illusion that it can directly include everyone. We need more than one form of solidarity.

Despite my eccentric evolution on gay marriage, I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy a certain fugitive solidarity with those whose paths differ from my own. A strange portion of the intellectual discovery and growth in friendship I’ve enjoyed these past years has come about not despite, but because of, the vexations of the gay marriage debate. Those with whom I disagree have helped me see how the strands of the Christian sexual ethic combine to form a great tapestry, the patterns of which would be much more obscure had they not prompted me to think through how sex intersects with Scripture, nature, culture. For this, I owe them a great debt. I hope that in the years to come I can do something to repay it.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted August 1, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As you plan — or even go — on your summer vacation, think about this: More and more Americans are no longer taking a few weeks off to suntan and sight see abroad. Instead they're working in orphanages, building schools and teaching English.

It's called volunteer tourism or "volunteerism." And it's one of the fastest growing trends in travel today. More than 1.6 million volunteer tourists are spending about $2 billion each year.

But some people who work in the industry are skeptical of volunteerism's rising popularity. They question whether some trips help young adults pad their resumes or college applications more than they help those in need.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchCharities/Non-Profit OrganizationsMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureTravel* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 31, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The government should consider intervening to stop the Church of England sacking gay vicars who marry, a former Conservative chairman has said.

Lord Fowler raised the case in the House of Lords of Jeremy Pemberton, who had his licence to preach revoked after marrying his partner.

He called on the government to "see if there is anything that could be done to help reconcile the difficulties".

Gay marriage is legal in the UK but the Church of England has not accepted it.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 31, 2014 at 6:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Should a fertility treatment clinic implement a policy requiring patients to use only ethnically or racially matched gamete donors? If the idea of such a policy already triggers some element of moral revulsion, you need not read further. But for argument’s sake, here’s why a controversial policy that was in effect until last year at Calgary’s only fertility clinic, and which requires patients to use racially matched sperm donors, is morally, ethically, and legally objectionable.

The policy suggests that a child is disadvantaged by not having an ethnically matched parent. This is a dangerous idea that stigmatizes children who are part of ethnically mixed families. Besides, there is not a shred of evidence that suggests the welfare of a child born (with or without donor gametes) to a person of different ethnicity or race is diminished by the mere fact of that difference.

Individuals who do not have fertility issues are free to seek out partners of any race, colour, ethnicity or creed for procreation purposes. Why then should those seeking fertility treatment be limited to ethnically matched donors? Such limitation stifles patient choice and makes a mess of the ethical and legal concept of autonomy, which is fundamental to medical decision-making in our society. Indeed, it violates professional practice guidelines issued by the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, which stipulate that patients should “be provided with the opportunity to consider and evaluate treatment options in the context of their own life circumstances and culture.” Simply put, decisions regarding a future child’s ethnicity should be made by parents, not by doctors.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 30, 2014 at 5:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More than one in three Americans (36%) say drinking alcohol has been a cause of problems in their family at some point, one of the highest figures Gallup has measured since the 1940s. Reports of alcohol-related family troubles have been much more common in recent decades than they were prior to 1990.

Gallup updated its longstanding trend on this question in its July 7-10 Consumption Habits poll. When first asked in 1947, 15% of Americans said alcohol had been a cause of family problems. The percentage remained low in the 1960s and 1970s, before it ticked up -- to an average of 21% -- during the 1980s.

Reports of family problems due to drinking increased further in the 1990s (27%) and 2000s (32%). The average has leveled off at 32% since 2010, although this year's 36% exceeds the current decade's average.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAlcohol/DrinkingAlcoholismHealth & MedicineMarriage & Family* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 29, 2014 at 2:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I know that for many readers, teasing out these implications makes Kasper’s proposal seem that much more reasonable and admirable, because in their view the Catholic Church desperately needs a way to evolve toward the norms of “sexual modernity” (on same-sex marriage, especially, but other fronts as well). And if this is the entering wedge for that kind of change, well, then so much the better.

That’s a perfectly understandable perspective (about which I say more, in a slightly different form, soon). All I’m saying here is that it needs to be forthrightly acknowledged, rather than hidden away as a kind of footnote to what is officially presented a small pastoral change. That right or wrong, good or evil, merciful or destructive, the Kasper proposal is not a minor tweak to Catholic discipline: It’s a depth charge, a change pregnant with further changes, an alteration that could have far more sweeping consequences than innovations (married priests; female cardinals) that might seem more radical on their face.

For reasons of theology, sociology, and simple logic, admitting the remarried to communion has the potential to transform not only Catholic teaching and Catholic life, but the church’s very self-understanding. These are the real stakes in this controversy; these are the terms, here and in Rome, on which it needs to be debated.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMarriage & Family* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted July 29, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The subtitle deserves to be printed just as written: Polyamorous people still face plenty of stigmas, but some studies suggest they handle certain relationship challenges better than monogamous people do.

Terri Conley, a professor of psychology and women’s studies at the University of Michigan who studies polyamory, has analyzed a sample of 1,700 monogamous individuals, 150 swingers, 170 people in open relationships, and 300 polyamorous individuals for a forthcoming study. She said that while people in “open relationships” tend to have lower sexual satisfaction than their monogamous peers, people who described themselves as “polyamorous” tended to have equal or higher levels of sexual satisfaction.

What’s more, polyamorous people don’t seem to be plagued by monogamous-style romantic envy. Bjarne Holmes, a psychologist at Champlain College in Vermont has found that polyamorous people tend to experience less overall jealousy, even in situations that would drive monogamous couples to Othello-levels of suspicion. "It turns out that, hey, people are not reacting with jealousy when their partner is flirting with someone else," Holmes told LiveScience.

Sheff agreed. “I would say they have lower-than-average jealousy,” she said. “People who are very jealous generally don’t do polyamory at all.”

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyMenPsychologySexuality--PolyamoryWomen* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.


Posted July 28, 2014 at 11:12 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Cameroonian military says members of the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram have abducted the wife of the country's deputy prime minister in the northern Cameroonian town of Kolofata.

A local religious leader and mayor was also abducted from the same town.

Separately, at least five people in northern Nigeria were killed in a blast - residents suspect Boko Haram.

Boko Haram has stepped up cross-border attacks into Cameroon in recent weeks, as the army was deployed to the region.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaCameroonNigeria

0 Comments
Posted July 27, 2014 at 4:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The belief that your partner will be there for you when things go wrong lays a strong foundation for marital happiness. What creates this belief? Surprisingly, it’s not only how your spouse behaves during a crisis, but also how he or she responds when something great happens, according to Shelly Gable, Ph.D., a psychology professor at UC Santa Barbara

Got a promotion? Your spouse could respond actively or passively, constructively or destructively. The best would be active/constructive: “I know you’ve worked so hard for this! Let’s celebrate.” The worst would be active/destructive: “Wow, do you really think you can handle this extra responsibility?” Somewhere in between are a “[yawn] That’s nice, dear,” or worse, “Did you pick up my dry cleaning?”

Celebrating each other’s ­triumphs is a no-brainer for Atherton and Bert Drenth, a 58-year-old health care company owner and a 60-year-old service rep for hospital lab equipment in Guelph, ­Ontario. The couple agree that they have been “each other’s best cheerleaders,” throughout their marriage. When Bert gave Atherton the news, for example, that he’d landed a great new job, she told him, “All your hard work, integrity, reliability, and attention to detail really paid off. I am so proud of you.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 26, 2014 at 4:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Earlier this month, when Ellen Epstein arrived at the Devil’s Thumb Ranch in Tabernash, Colo., for the wedding of her friends Lauren Meisels and Bradley Melshenker, she, like the other guests, found a gift bag waiting for her in her hotel room. But rather than a guide to activities in the area or a jar of locally made honey, the canvas bag contained a rolled joint, a lighter and lip balm infused with mango butter and cannabis, along with this note: “We wanted to show you some of the things we love the best.”

She knew then that the wedding of her fellow Boulder residents would be just a little different from the ones she had attended in the past.

The Meisels and Melshenker nuptials looked as if their inspiration had come not from the pages of Martha Stewart Weddings but from High Times. All of the floral arrangements, including the bride’s bouquet, contained a variety of white flowers mixed with marijuana buds and leaves. Mr. Melshenker and his groomsmen wore boutonnieres crafted out of twine and marijuana buds, and Mr. Melshenker’s three dogs, who were also in attendance, wore collars made of cannabis buds, eucalyptus leaves and pink ribbons.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted July 25, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Buried in the data [of the study] was the revelation that almost half of millennials (43 percent, and higher among the youngest subset) said they would support a marriage model that involved a two-year trial — at which point the union could be either formalized or dissolved, no divorce or paperwork required. Thirty three percent said they’d be open to trying what researchers dubbed the “real estate” approach – marriage licenses granted on a five, seven, 10 or 30-year arms, after which the terms must be renegotiated. And 21 percent said they’d give the “presidential” method a try, whereby marriage vows last for four years but after eight you can elect to choose a new partner.

In total, nearly half of all of those surveyed, ages 18 to 49 – and 53 percent percent of millennials — thought marriage vows should be renewed, and nearly 40 percent said they believed the “till death do us part” vow should be abolished. In other words: Beta marriages! Unions you can test and deglitch, work out kinks or simply abandon course without consequence. “This is a generation that is used to this idea that everything is in beta, that life is a work in progress, so the idea of a beta marriage makes sense,” the study’s author, Melissa Lavigne-Delville, told me. “It’s not that they’re entirely noncommittal, it’s just that they’re nimble and open to change.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologySociologyYoung Adults

4 Comments
Posted July 25, 2014 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After protesters shouting “Go home” turned back busloads of immigrant mothers and children in Murrieta, Calif., a furious Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, the Roman Catholic archbishop of New York, sat down at his notepad and drafted a blog post detailing his shame at the episode, writing, “It was un-American; it was unbiblical; it was inhumane.”

When the governor of Iowa, Terry E. Branstad, said he did not want the migrants in his state, declaring, “We can’t accept every child in the world who has problems,” clergy members in Des Moines held a prayer vigil at a United Methodist Church to demonstrate their desire to make room for the refugees.

The United States’ response to the arrival of tens of thousands of migrant children, many of them fleeing violence and exploitation in Central America, has been symbolized by an angry pushback from citizens and local officials who have channeled their outrage over illegal immigration into opposition to proposed shelter sites. But around the nation, an array of religious leaders are trying to mobilize support for the children, saying the nation can and should welcome them.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsImmigrationPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted July 24, 2014 at 1:27 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mariam Yahya Ibrahim and her family landed in Italy en route to a new life in the U.S.

A woman in Sudan who faced the death sentence for refusing to renounce Christianity safely landed in Italy en route to the U.S. on Thursday after the international community intervened to secure her safe exit, NBC News reports.

Mariam Yahya Ibrahim, 27, was imprisoned for apostasy in February under Sudan’s strict Islamic law, after converting from Islam to marry her Christian husband, a U.S. citizen. Born to a Muslim father but raised Orthodox Christian, she refused to convert back under threat of death.

Read it all.

Update: Per Catholic News Service--#PopeFrancis spent 30mins with #Meriam&family. Thanked her for her "constant witness" to faith. She thanked him for church's prayers,support

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPrison/Prison MinistryReligion & CultureViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted July 24, 2014 at 7:44 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A record 57 million Americans, or 18.1% of the population of the United States, lived in multi-generational family households in 2012, double the number who lived in such households in 1980.1

After three decades of steady but measured growth, the arrangement of having multiple generations together under one roof spiked during the Great Recession of 2007-2009 and has kept on growing in the post-recession period, albeit at a slower pace, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

0 Comments
Posted July 22, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

he divorce statistics for modern Western societies are catastrophic. They show that marriage is no longer regarded as a new, independent reality transcending the individuality of the spouses, a reality that, at the very least, cannot be dissolved by the will of one partner alone. But can it be dissolved by the consent of both parties, or by the will of a synod or a pope? The answer must be no, for as Jesus himself explicitly declares, man cannot put asunder what God himself has joined together. Such is the teaching of the Catholic Church.

The Christian understanding of the good life claims to be valid for all human beings. Yet even Jesus’s disciples were shocked by their Master’s words: Wouldn’t it be better, then, they replied, not to marry at all? The astonishment of the disciples underscores the contrast between the Christian way of life and the way of life dominant in the world. Whe­ther it wants to or not, the Church in the West is on its way to becoming a counterculture, and its future now depends chiefly on whether it is able, as the salt of the earth, to keep its savor and not be trampled underfoot by men.

The beauty of the Church’s teaching can shine forth only when it’s not watered down. The temptation to dilute doctrine is reinforced nowadays by an unsettling fact: Catholics are divorcing almost as frequently as their secular counterparts. Something has clearly gone wrong. It’s against all reason to think that all civilly divorced and remarried Catholics began their first marriages firmly convinced of its indissolubility and then fundamentally reversed themselves along the way. It’s more reasonable to assume that they entered into matrimony without clearly realizing what they were doing in the first place: burning their bridges behind them for all time (which is to say until death), so that the very idea of a second marriage simply did not exist for them.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyMenPsychologyWomen* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySacramental Theology

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Posted July 21, 2014 at 4:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A simplified baptism service could soon be rolled out across the Church of England, in a move away from the ‘wordy’ traditional liturgy. The Additional Texts for Holy Baptism was before Synod for First Consideration, having been changed since it was introduced by the Diocese of Liverpool, following criticisms of it ‘dumbing down’ the service. The Bishop of Sodor and Man moved the motion, explaining the need stemming from the ‘wordy and complex’ nature of the current provision. It is now to be considered by the Revision Committee. The new text shortens the service by omitting elements that are not obligatory. “When a child is brought for baptism he or she comes with empty hands,” Robert Paterson said, “Simply the most precious thing in God’s sight is a child of his creation.” Feedback from families who have taken part in baptism show they remember the symbols of the service more than words. “This is a specific request to draft liturgy to meet pastoral need,” he continued. The Group believed the word ‘submit’, seen in the current text, ‘seemed to some like bullying’. All of these texts in their authorised form would be additional, not to replace Common Worship texts, the Bishop promised, and is subject to yet more synodical processes. He alluded to the backlash over the absence of the devil in the new baptism service. “We all know that, for many people, the devil has been turned into a cartoon-like character of no particular malevolence. “We have no quarrel with standing up to the devil: the problem is helping people with little doctrinal appreciation to understand what we mean by affirming that the devil is a defeated power.” The press was heavily criticised by many speakers in the debate highlighting the omission of the devil and sin from the first trial draft. “Wherever possible, the final ‘Commission’ should be expressed simply and directly, eye-to-eye, and not read from a prepared text.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church Life* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & Family* TheologySacramental TheologyBaptism

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Posted July 21, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

GONZALEZ: It's a scene that captured the attention of the country and world. Anti-immigrant protestors blocking buses filled with undocumented Central American migrant children, some adults, from reaching a border patrol station in the southern California community of Murrieta.

The children aboard the buses were just some of the more than 52,000 minors, many of them unaccompanied by adults, who have been detained by immigration authorities since October. It's the largest influx of asylum seekers into the U.S. since 1980.

There are so many migrant children arriving, temporary immigration holding facilities along the border have been filled to capacity, and the children have been flown to other parts of the country, for shelter and care at military bases and other facilities. Overwhelmed by the sheer number of migrants, the government has turned to faith communities for help.

Read or watch and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Mexico* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 21, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

1 The French don’t care about affairs. Extramarital affairs are widely viewed as morally unacceptable around the world, with one notable exception: France. Only 47% of the French said having an extramarital affair was morally unacceptable in our 2013 survey, while four-in-ten thought it was not a moral issue, and 12% said it was actually morally acceptable. France was the only country out of the 40 we surveyed where less than half of respondents described infidelity as unacceptable. This laissez-faire attitude also extends to premarital sex: only 6% of the French view it as morally unacceptable.

2 The French work less and vacation more than most others. People in France work 1,479 hours a year, much less than the OECD average of 1,765 hours and the U.S. average of 1,790 hours. France also has the most generous amount of paid vacation among 21 of the world’s wealthiest nations, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAlcohol/DrinkingMarriage & FamilySexuality* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 21, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...there are forces at work here that we should recognize, name and resist.

First is the upper-class, competition-driven vision of childhood as a rigorously supervised period in which unattended play is abnormal, risky, weird. This perspective hasn’t just led to “the erosion of child culture,” to borrow a quote from Hanna Rosin’s depressing Atlantic essay on “The Overprotected Kid”; it has encouraged bystanders and public servants to regard a deviation from constant supervision as a sign of parental neglect.

Second is the disproportionate anxiety over child safety, fed by media coverage of every abduction, every murdered child, every tragic “hot car” death. Such horrors are real, of course, but the danger is wildly overstated: Crime rates are down, abductions and car deaths are both rare, and most of the parents leaving children (especially non-infants) in cars briefly or letting them roam a little are behaving perfectly responsibly.

Third is an erosion of community and social trust, which has made ordinary neighborliness seem somehow unnatural or archaic, and given us instead what Gracy Olmstead’s article in The American Conservative dubs the “bad Samaritan” phenomenon — the passer-by who passes the buck to law enforcement as expeditiously as possible.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 19, 2014 at 2:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some of the survey’s findings are not surprising. The arrival of children and the subsequent triangulation of the relationship and lack of bandwidth, time, money and energy makes a couple far more susceptible to the desire to stray. And the rise of the social networks make such straying much easier: easier to start, easier to arrange and easier to hide. (It may make it a little harder to end quietly though, especially if one of the parties feels aggrieved.)

Some other findings are a little more unexpected, however. For the vast majority of folks 18 to 49 years old, at least in Austin, Omaha, Nashville and Phoenix, where this study took place, cheating is an absolute dealbreaker. A full 94% of respondents would rather never marry than end up with a person they knew would cheat and 82% of them have “zero tolerance” for infidelity. Yet 81% of people admitted they’d cheat if they knew there wouldn’t be any consequences and 42% of the survey takers, in equal parts men and women, admitted to already having cheated.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyMenSociologyWomen* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 18, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many, including former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, argue that it would have been the “compassionate” and “caring” thing to do. How difficult it would have been for Denise to argue with me if she was made to feel that she was a “burden” to myself and others. Had assisted dying been legal, I daresay the medics might have agreed with me, and the pressure on her, though subtle, would have been unbearable.

That is one of the many reasons I believe Lord Carey’s arguments to be so profoundly misguided and dangerous. He quotes a dying woman parishioner of his who whispered in his ear before she died that, “It is quality of life that counts, not length of days”. Well, maybe – but who is to decide, when, and on what grounds?

Denise’s quality of life at the time of her prognosis and following it was poor by any standards. However, against the odds the chemo did have an effect and the tumour shrank for a while. Had assisted dying been legal, we might never have had the opportunity to enjoy the precious months together that we were given as the more debilitating effects of the treatment wore off. The despair of the moment would have determined our actions. What a tragedy that would have been.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 18, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As long as that phone is acting as a kind of electronic umbilical cord, parents can tell themselves their children are safe.

But increasingly the smartphone itself is an instrument of harm. Such is the case with a 16-year-old Houston girl named Jada, who entered the spotlight as she publicly confronted the evidence that she had been raped at a party by at least one other teenager. She says she passed out after drinking a beverage that was spiked and only learned of the crime after her classmates began tweeting photos and videos taken of her unconscious, partly nude body. (Houston police are investigating; no one has been charged.)

What happened next is remarkable in ways that instill faith in the human spirit and at the same time provoke disgust at the depravity and lemming-like behavior that teenagers with smartphones are capable of.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingChildrenMarriage & FamilyScience & TechnologyTeens / YouthViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 17, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For many families, the tablet has become the central, shared computing device in the home. It’s a hub for learning, for entertainment, and for staying connected. But what if your tablet was even more interactive? What if it woke up when you came home, recognized your face, and suggested a couple of things you might want for dinner? What if, when asked a spoken question, it could tailor its answer directly to you, instead of just offering a blanket response?

A new device called Jibo can do these things, and it could mark the next step in group computer interaction in the home. But Jibo isn’t a tablet at all: It’s a robot.

Specifically, Jibo is a social robot. You talk to it, ask it questions, make requests. It talks back, provides answers, and takes care of grunt work like setting reminders or scouring the web. It’s meant to act as a helper and a partner in a variety of household experiences, much like a physical embodiment of Siri, Google Now, or any of the voice-activated concierge services available on our smartphones or tablets.

Read it all.

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

1 Comments
Posted July 17, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The conventional wisdom holds that, as societies become affluent, their fertility rate — the number of babies per woman — drops. Children are no longer needed to support their parents in old age, some conventionals say. Some also say that women, once affluent, liberated and armed with contraceptives, eschew pregnancies.

Such reasoning is ahistorical, thinly rationalized by statistics spanning decades rather than centuries. In fact, populations have waxed and waned throughout time, with periods of low population growth often spelling hardship, and those marked by high population growth often signifying good times.

Even the post-World War II baby boom, often explained as an anomaly caused by soldiers returning home from war, is more accurately seen as part of a post-Great Depression boom. U.S. fertility rates began rising in 1938, as the U.S. economy brightened and couples began to believe they would be able to support families. The fertility rates kept rising until the late 1950s, when the average number of children peaked at 3.7, up from 2.3 in 1933.

Read it all from the Financial Post.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenGlobalizationHealth & MedicineMarriage & Family* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 16, 2014 at 4:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The revelation this week about the home burial of Kirsty Allsopp’s mother came as no surprise to us agents of change at the Natural Death Centre charity. Her mother's request for a 'stranger free', private, swift, home interment, expresses an instinctive desire that I hear frequently. The public are now increasingly aware that they have choices, power and knowledge to retake control of how our bodies are treated and cared for after death.

The internet has made information available that is generally suppressed by the industry and misunderstood by many gate-keeping professionals, including medics, registrars and civil servants. In the UK we are very lucky to actually have such freedoms - most other countries are tightly controlled by the state, industry and Church. I am contacted by people from all over Europe and beyond who cannot believe that we are so free to choose and control our funerals. Oh how I love being British.

Many people are also starting to question why we automatically hand over the care of the bodies of those who we have loved and cuddled to strangers, when we can carry out that final act of love and care for them ourselves, if we so choose. I hope Kirsty and her family are greatly comforted by their achievement.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 16, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nigeria's president has accused activists of "playing politics" after his meeting with parents of the abducted schoolgirls was called off.

The #BringBackOurGirls group should be ashamed of manipulating "the victims of terrorism", he said.

Mr Jonathan had been due to hold his first meeting with some of the girls' parents on Tuesday.

Islamist group Boko Haram captured more than 200 girls during a raid on their boarding school in Chibok in April.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted July 15, 2014 at 4:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Concern is growing that access to abortion may be included in the 15-year UN development programme that will replace the Millennium Development Goals from the end of next year.

Cafod has said it will be unable to giving 100 per cent backing to the new goals, currently in draft form, which already contain a commitment to grant universal access to sexual and reproductive health.

The 17 proposed Sustainable Development Goals will replace the eight existing goals, with the primary aim to end poverty by 2030, and contain for the first time a direct reference to women. The fifth goal currently reads: "Attain gender equality, empower women and girls everywhere."

The accompanying text, still in draft form, includes bringing an end to female genital mutilation, as well as a commitment to "ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights." Pro-choice groups such as Marie Stopes International – who received £41.5 million in Government funding this year – are campaigning for a dedicated target on sexual and reproductive health and rights under the current health goal.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 13, 2014 at 2:41 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tova, a self-identified witch who uses her first name only and created the website The Way Of The Witch, spoke with joined HuffPost Live's Ricky Camilleri for a discussion about witch hunts in the 21st century. During the conversation, she shared what life is like for herself and her children in Utah.

"I live in a pretty small community outside Salt Lake City, and we have some pretty tight-held belief systems here. Although [witches] are not really just out there trying to be different, certainly people know that we live in a different way, they know that we practice things they don't understand, and I think it promotes fear," Tova said.

During her kids' earlier years, the family faced social challenges because of Tova's beliefs, she said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsWicca / paganism

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Posted July 11, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An NHS chaplain, Canon Jeremy Pemberton, who in April became the first Church of England priest to marry a same-sex partner, is unable to take up a new post because his bishop is refusing him a licence.

Canon Pemberton is Deputy Senior Chaplain and Deputy Bereavement and Voluntary Services Manager in the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust. He married Laurence Cunnington in April (News, 17 April), in defiance of House of Bishops pastoral guidance, issued in February.

He received an informal rebuke from the Bishop of Lincoln, the Rt Revd Christopher Lowson, but kept his general preacher's licence in the diocese. His NHS post at the trust is also unaffected.

The Acting Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham, however, the diocese in which Canon Pemberton lives, the Rt Revd Richard Inwood, withdrew his permission to officiate

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 11, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We have also decided to name a (Special) Legislative Committee on Marriage for this General Convention to ensure that the work of the Task Force on Marriage and resolutions related to the rapidly shifting contexts of civil marriage in the United States and in several other parts of the world can be given appropriate consideration. This will also make it possible for the Prayer Book, Liturgy & Music legislative committee to give full consideration to the other business that will come before it.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention House of Deputies President Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted July 10, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Anyone who can afford it chooses the United States,” said Lesa A. Slaughter, a fertility lawyer in Los Angeles.

Some lawyers who handle surrogacy tell of ethical problems with intended parents from abroad. Melissa Brisman, a New Jersey lawyer who handled Paulo and João’s surrogacy, had a prospective client from China who wanted to use five simultaneous gestational surrogates. She turned him down.

Mr. Vorzimer, in California, had an international client who wanted six embryos implanted.

“He wanted to keep two babies, and put the rest up for adoption,” Mr. Vorzimer said. “I said, ‘What, like the pick of the litter?’ and he said, ‘That’s right.’ I told him I wouldn’t work with him.”

Read it all from Sunday's New York Times.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 9, 2014 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two years after the Episcopal Church opened the door to same-sex blessings, a local advisory board is urging Bishop Steven A. Miller to allow their use in the Diocese of Milwaukee, saying a majority of area parishes favor allowing them.

Miller said last week that he is reviewing the recommendation of his Standing Committee and will respond later this summer. But he reiterated his reservations, saying the blessing falls short of a marriage rite and as such treats same-sex couples inequitably in the eyes of the church.

"My concern about the rite is that it looks like marriage but says it's not," said Miller, who has voiced support for same-sex civil marriages.

"A blessing still keeps gay and lesbian people in a second-tier status," Miller said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 9, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Barristers’ Society will admit Christians who, as individuals, have practiced their beliefs about sexuality and marriage while attending any Canadian law school other than TWU’s. It is only when these same individuals, adhering to the same beliefs and committed to the same lifestyle, associate with each other in a community to study law, that the Barristers’ Society considers them unfit to practice law in Nova Scotia. Essentially, the Barristers’ Society is punishing the choice to share beliefs and pursue common goals in community. This attacks Charter-protected freedom of association....

Freedom of association is a two-way street: a private institution enjoys the freedom to determine and live out its beliefs, and individuals have the freedom not to join it. Rejecting this two-way street, the Barristers’ Society would deny TWU its freedom to create and operate a law school, only because the Barristers’ Society disagrees with TWU’s beliefs about marriage and sexuality. This is a demand for conformity, and a rejection of the authentic diversity that characterizes our free society.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted July 9, 2014 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted July 9, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A bishop granted permission Tuesday for priests to bless committed relationships of same-sex couples in the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, a spokesperson said.

The Right Rev. Charles G. vonRosenburg authorized the use of "The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant," giving permission to priests to respond to couples who are in committed relationships, including those who have been married in states where same-sex marriage is allowed, according to Holly Behre, Director of Communications for the Episcopal Church of South Carolina.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* South Carolina

11 Comments
Posted July 8, 2014 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Of course choice is good. I aspire to more of it and so do people who have enjoyed much less of it than I have. Offer me more choice, at least in theory, and I'll say Yes. I'll answer your loaded opinion poll and tell you I am in favour of this choice and that choice because who, in this culture, can be against more choice without being a heretic? But talk about choice on that day in the future when I am wholly dependent on the people around me, when my life is almost over and I have far more chance of pleasing others by getting out of their way quietly than of making much difference to my own situation, and my choice won't be about me, it will be about them. And those last days of life, surely, are precisely the moment when choices ought to be about the one approaching the end - and no one else.

How many Parliamentarians who will shortly debate the Falconer Bill on assisted suicide are people with wide enough life experience to empathise with those who see more choice as a threat and not a blessing? How many subscribers to the BMJ put themselves, day by day, into the shoes of people for whom consumer choice is someone else's luxury, even if their editor chooses to use his journalistic position to make a ruling on behalf of ethicists everywhere?

Some of them, to be sure - maybe many of them. Will they encourage the rest to dig deep into their imaginations, to empathise with people who are not articulate, who are used to being done unto, and who have lived on the receiving end of other's choices all their lives?

They are in Parliament to govern on behalf of all citizens. The weak. The poor. The vulnerable. The dying. The ones who don't want to be a nuisance. The ones who do not regard choice as an unalloyed good, as well as the people who are used to choosing. And the medical profession too - despite the sweeping assertions of the BMJ about the nature of ethics, are also in business for those people.

Will the Parliamentarians and the medics empathise beyond their own kind? I hope so. I do hope so.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 7, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Justin, who has cerebral palsy and was born missing parts of his brain, also has a seizure disorder, which has gotten worse lately. He's often silent during his seizures, which means he has to sleep with his parents so they can tell when he needs help. Judy says caring for Justin is a lot like taking care of a newborn....Except Justin is not a baby. He just turned 16 and weighs 100 pounds. He can't talk, he can't walk and he'll always require around-the-clock care. Like the estimated 17 million people in the U.S. taking care of their special-needs kids, Judy's days largely consist of making sure Justin's needs are met....

The faith community is a major source of support for James and Judy Lee. Every Sunday the family attends Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Sacramento. James welcomes people's empathy, but he rejects their pity. He recalled a man at a support group once asking him if he hated God because of Justin's disability.

"I said, 'No, I'm actually thankful that He chose us to take care of Justin,' " he says.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

0 Comments
Posted July 6, 2014 at 2:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Watch it all, and be forewarned, you are not likely going to make it through the whole thing without Kleenex--KSH.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyMusic* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted July 4, 2014 at 12:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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