Posted by Kendall Harmon

China faces what would be the second default in the nation’s onshore bond market after a builder said it may fail to make a payment next week, the latest sign of stress in the world’s biggest corporate debtload.

Huatong Road & Bridge Group Co., based in the northern province of Shanxi, said it may miss a 400 million yuan ($64.5 million) note payment due July 23, according to a statement to the Shanghai Clearing House yesterday. Chairman Wang Guorui is assisting authorities with an official investigation, it said, without elaborating. Wang was removed from the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Shanxi Committee on July 9 for suspected violations of the law, according to an official statement and media report last week.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomy* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina

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Posted July 17, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Afghanistan is set to begin an unprecedented audit of the 8.1 million votes cast in the June 14 presidential election, a process that is expected to take at least three weeks and will delay the inauguration of a new president.

Former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani and former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah agreed after marathon talks with Secretary of State John Kerry this weekend to a full audit of the bitterly contested election, which had threatened to split the country along ethnic and territorial lines.

In a political deal also brokered by Mr. Kerry, the two candidates said that in addition to accepting the results of the audit, they agreed that the winner of the election would form a "national unity government" that would include the losing side.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 14, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tonight we're about to take you to the place where hundreds of thousands come every year for a tempting bargain. But is it really worth it?

You're about to meet a woman who flew 6,000 milines to get what she really wants, but is it worth it? If plastic surgery had a Mecca, it would be the ritzy district of South Korea. Everywhere you look there are women seemingly trying to look like the plastic doll-like plastic people here.

Thousands travel to Korea from all over the globe to go under the knife. I think the results would be here in Korea because they know the asian face better. Reporter: The plastic surgeons in Korea are regarded as among the best in the world that attracts clients like this lady.

Read or watch it all (note the transcript link at the bottom of the page).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineWomenYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAsiaSouth Korea* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 12, 2014 at 1:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hong Kong has beautiful vistas, per capita income of $38,000 and partial autonomy from China that includes broad civil liberties, but on Tuesday it also had as many as 500,000 people in the streets in the largest public rally in a decade. Days before, 800,000 Hong Kongers—nearly a quarter of the electorate—ignored government warnings and voted in a mock referendum calling for democratic rights.

These developments in a vital economic hub have China displeased. The Beijing government tried to head them off last month by clarifying its Hong Kong policy in an official white paper, but the effect was to highlight Beijing's heavy hand, stoking local anger. Soon cyberattacks targeted the online polling system of the pro-democracy referendum. And as Hong Kongers rallied on Tuesday, China's mainland Web censors were in overdrive, erasing even more material than on the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre last month.

Beijing won't find much relief ahead if Benny Tai has his way. Over the past year, the youthful 49-year-old law professor has gone from leading legal seminars for Hong Kong civil servants to being branded an "enemy of the state" by Beijing-backed media. His offense: founding a group called Occupy Central with Love and Peace, which threatens civil disobedience in Hong Kong's main business district unless China delivers free elections for the local chief executive in 2017. Mr. Tai believes that if 10,000 people credibly threaten to paralyze the city's commercial core, Beijing will sue for peace.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 5, 2014 at 4:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even the future role of the country’s warlords is uncertain. Karzai has kept most of these men off balance and relatively weak during his tenure, and deserves credit for doing so. Yet these men are not gone from public life. They have continued to profit from contracts and investments largely tied to the presence of foreign militaries: vested economic interest is a major factor that keeps them loyal to the democratic system. Indeed, in the 12 and a half years of Karzai’s rule, many have sanitized their images—shorter beards, fancier suits, more politically correct language. For better or worse, their sons and daughters, who seem more attuned to democratic practices, are now beginning to step into their fathers’ shoes.

Spanta says he doubts anyone could have fared better than Karzai in such a fragmented society. And yet the next president of Afghanistan will inherit a broken chain of command, weak institutions, and a variety of local powers that may prove difficult to bring to heel—all the more so because he will lack the personal connections that Karzai worked so hard to cultivate. “The question of whether the forces from the past will succeed again” or whether modernizing forces will take the country forward—“this has not been finalized.” Almost none of the achievements made under Karzai appear irreversible, Spanta lamented. Instead, Afghanistan remains a place stuck between modernity and its own splintered history. Which way it will move next is anyone’s guess.

Read it all.


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

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Posted July 5, 2014 at 3:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a country of crippling poverty, ethnic fault lines and decades of war, Islamic piety offers many Afghans a rare thread of national solidarity. To reject Islam is seen as tantamount to treason.

“Religious identity is the only thing that Afghans can claim,” said Daud Moradian, a professor at the American University in Afghanistan. “They do not have a national identity, they do not have an economic identity, and there is no middle or working class here.”

That leaves Josef almost nowhere to turn for protection. The police would be no help. Converts report being beaten and sexually abused while in custody. His family in Afghanistan is also a dead end: His uncles are hunting for him now, too.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistan* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted June 22, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many find it hard to understand why China is acting so aggressively in regard to its territorial claims in the East and South China Seas. What do leaders in Beijing hope to achieve by alienating its neighbors and undermining regional stability?

Their reasoning is actually simple enough. China wants to wield much more power and influence in Asia than it has for the past few centuries. And for China to have more power, the United States must have less.

They know that America’s position in Asia is built on its network of alliances and partnerships with many of China’s neighbors, including Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam. And they believe that weakening these relationships is the easiest way to weaken US regional power.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaChina

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Posted June 21, 2014 at 9:36 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The head of the Anglican Church in Southeast Asia has questioned Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s silence on the seized-Bibles issue and said it appeared to be a political strategy.

“I am inclined to think that he is conveying that the whole charade is not worthy of his comment. To do otherwise is to dignify what is plainly wicked,” Archbishop Datuk Bolly Lapok said today.

Lapok, who is also chairman of the Association of Churches in Sarawak, also questioned the prime minister's refusal to condemn the action of the extreme minority “that is poisoning inter-religious tolerance”.

“The prime minister’s inaction may be politically smart. But is it morally right?” he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Anglican Church in South East Asia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaMalaysia* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 20, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On June 1, my friend Pastor Wang Yi of the Early Rain Reformed Church in Chengdu was arrested while distributing anti-forced-abortion leaflets. The stated grounds for detaining him were “illegal advertising.” He was let go after half an hour. Three days later, Mr. Wang was detained again. This time the arresting officers produced no identification and gave no reason for taking him in. After 12 hours of interrogation, he was finally released at midnight.

When I posted an account of the harassment on Weibo, a microblogging platform, several people protested against the injustice — and many wrote in support of the government’s actions. One netizen commented, “The cops have done a beautiful job!”

I wondered how many of the hostile comments were sincere and how many were made for money: The government employs a cyberpolice force of propagandists known as the 50-Cent Party. But given other recent events, and China’s agonizing history with organized religion, I believe that a good number of the pro-government comments reflected genuine opinion.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 20, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Intense Protestant missionary activity, most of it from America and Britain, began [in Wenzhou] in the late nineteenth century. Wenzhou now has the largest percentage of Christians in the country—estimated at 15%. No wonder it has been called a “Christian Jerusalem”! What is particularly interesting is that the Christian community, most of it Protestant, has a large number of successful business people, known locally as “boss Christians”. Some of them expressed the opinion in a study that Protestantism would become the majority religion in China, and that this would not only be good for the economy but would help China become a great power (a prospect they welcomed). Until now, there have been relaxed relations between the Christian churches and the local power structure (state and party).

Christianity in China has exploded in numbers in recent decades. The phrase “Christianity fever” was used to describe this. I generally rely on two demographers of religion, Todd Johnson and Brian Grim. In their book The World’s Religions in Figures (2013), they estimate the total number of Christians in China at 67 million (about 5% of the country’s population). There are other estimates, the highest, by the World Christian Data Base (an Evangelical outfit), at 108 million (about 8%). This may be wishful thinking. Official Chinese government figures are much lower (possibly wishful thinking too, as is typical of all statistics released by authoritarian governments). Johnson and Grim estimate that the total of Protestants is 58 million (4.3 of the country’s population), with Catholics far behind at 9 million (0.7%). I would think that the Protestants are mainly Evangelical, many of them Pentecostal/charismatic. All these estimates include both churches that have been officially registered by the government, and those that have not. The distinction is important: The latter category of Christians (often referred to as belonging to “underground” or “house” churches—rather a misnomer, as some of them are very much “above ground” and worshipping in large buildings). However, even if tolerated by local authorities, the members of unregistered churches are very hard to count. I would therefore guess that totals of Christians including both categories are under-estimated.

Just what happened in Wenzhou? And what does it mean beyond that charming little town of nine million people?

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryMissions* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina

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Posted June 13, 2014 at 6:39 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Indian police arrested 17 men they say are members of a fringe Hindu nationalist group on suspicion of killing a Muslim computer engineer, in a case that has renewed concerns about religious violence in the world's largest democracy.

Police said the men beat to death 28-year-old Mohsin Sadiq Shaikh in the western city of Pune because he was Muslim. The attack happened Monday night after days of anti-Muslim incidents, said Additional Commissioner of Police Abdur Rehman. "He was a poor man, returning home after performing prayers at the mosque" and easily identifiable as a Muslim because of his beard and skullcap, Mr. Rehman said.

The killing has stoked fears among Muslims and others that Hindu fundamentalist groups energized by the recent landslide election victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which has Hindu-nationalist roots, could resort to violence.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsHinduismIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 7, 2014 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

North Korea said Saturday it has sentenced a South Korean Baptist missionary to hard labor for life on charges that he spied and tried to set up underground churches, the latest in a string of missionaries to run into trouble in the rigidly controlled North.

North Korean state media said the missionary was tried Friday and admitted to anti-North Korean religious acts and “malignantly hurting the dignity” of the country's supreme leadership, a reference to the ruling Kim family. The rival Koreas have different English spelling styles for Korean names, so the North called the missionary Kim Jong Uk, but Seoul has previously referred to him as Kim Jung Wook.

Christian missionaries have been drawn over the years to totalitarian North Korea, which tolerates only strictly sanctioned religious services. North Korean defectors have said that the distribution of Bibles and secret prayer services can mean banishment to a labor camp or execution

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissions* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPrison/Prison MinistryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaNorth Korea* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 1, 2014 at 4:55 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bergdahl, 28, was freed in exchange for five prisoners who were held at the Guantanamo Bay detention center and is back in the hands of the U.S. military, the officials said.

Bergdahl disappeared when he reportedly walked away from a U.S. military base in eastern Afghanistan in June 2009, carrying only a compass and a bottle of water. He was the only U.S. service member ever to be held captive by enemy forces in Afghanistan.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 31, 2014 at 1:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has said the Christians of Pakistan are a people under siege and joined calls for their churches to be protected and for them to be able to worship in safety.

“Freedom of worship is a universal human right around the world, and all countries need to pay attention to that,” he said.

Meanwhile, condemning the "revolting lynching" of a pregnant Pakistani woman who was stoned to death by her family in front of hundreds of people outside the Lahore high court, the Archbishop told the Times: “I was utterly horrified and every Pakistani I have spoken to is also horrified. It (the stoning) was in no sense a punishment, but but a revolting lynching.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith Relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The threat facing minorities in Pakistan was laid bare on Monday, the day of the Archbishop of Canterbury's arrival in the country, when an American doctor was shot dead in the Punjab province.

Mehdi Ali, a volunteer cardiologist born in Pakistan, was a member of the minority Ahmadi community, which faces persecution in the country.

Security is tight for Archbishop Welby's visit to the country. On Tuesday, he met the diocesan bishops of the Church of Pakistan, the Governor of Punjab, and leaders from a range of faith communities.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith Relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 30, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaBangladeshIndiaPakistan

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Posted May 27, 2014 at 9:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury has arrived in Pakistan to show his backing for the country’s persecuted Christian minority and to ask Muslim leaders for help in building better relations.

The Most Rev Justin Welby is due to meet politicians as well as bishops from the Church of Pakistan before travelling to Bangladesh and India.

The trip, conducted amid tight security, is part of a promise to meet leaders of the Anglican community as early as possible after taking up office and comes as Christians in some parts of the developing world suffer attacks at the hands of Islamist groups.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan

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Posted May 27, 2014 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

India, a giant economic mediocrity, is cursed by having too many economists. Its outgoing prime minister, Manmohan Singh, has a doctorate from Oxford, ran the central bank in the 1980s and led the liberalisation programme that India put in place in 1991 after a currency crisis. Yet as prime minister Mr Singh had little grip or public support, serving at the pleasure of Sonia Gandhi, the populist leader of the Congress party. By the end of his ten-year term he admitted he had failed. In August, as the rupee tumbled, he addressed a gathering of India’s policymaking elite at his house in Delhi. The economy faced “very difficult circumstances”, he whispered.

Mr Singh’s successor could not be more different. Narendra Modi’s economic views have been formed while running the business-friendly state of Gujarat for the past 12 years. Asked some time ago about his economic influences, he described his homespun framework, jotting diagrams on a pad as he spoke. He has studied Singapore and China, but thinks that “India is a democracy and has different requirements”. Striking a balance between farming, small firms and global companies is required, with limited but muscular administration and populist appeal: “Men, machines and money must work together.”

Having run Gujarat well, Mr Modi now faces the far harder task of running India. He has big advantages—administrative competence, control over his party and a majority in Parliament—that should ease decision-making. Unlike Mr Singh, he has also campaigned and won on a platform of aspiration and economic reform. India needs “less government and more governance”, he declared on the campaign trail.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceTaxesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 27, 2014 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is to attend the inauguration of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister of India on Monday.

It is the first time since the two countries won independence in 1947 that a prime minister from one state will attend such a ceremony in the other.

The two nuclear-armed rivals have fought three wars in the past 60 years.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndiaPakistan

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Posted May 24, 2014 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christ is Risen! The response during Eastertide is “He is Risen indeed!” Often the thought of the presence of the Risen Christ bothers me. Where is the Risen Christ now? This seems to be a silly question. Of course, Christ has ascended and is seated at the right hand of God the Father, as described in Romans 8:34. What I am really interested in is ‘Does the Risen Christ have a place in our lives?

Read it all (page 3).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Anglican Church in South East Asia* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsEaster* International News & CommentaryAsiaMalaysia

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Posted May 21, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Father Michael Amaladoss, one of the most respected theologians in India, is said by some to be under suspicion from the Vatican’s watchdog on doctrinal orthodoxy, the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). He was summoned to Rome for a series of “conversations" with the CDF, although reports differ over how cordial these conversations were.

The scrutiny of Amaladoss stems from a book he wrote, The Asian Jesus, which grapples with an issue that has bedeviled Christians in Asia for centuries: how to present Jesus Christ as a genuine fellow Asian to the millions of our countrymen, who often see him as a white European import.

This is not just a matter of visual iconography, but of theology as well: What has Jesus Christ to say to the world religions of India? This is what Amaladoss tries to answer.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooks* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyChristology

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Posted May 21, 2014 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Justice Department on Monday accused five members of the Chinese military of conducting economic cyber-espionage against American companies, marking the first time that the United States has leveled such criminal charges against a foreign country.

Industries targeted by the alleged cyberspying ranged from nuclear to steel to solar energy, officials said. The hacking by a military unit in Shanghai, they said, was conducted for no other reason than to give a competitive advantage to Chinese companies, including state-owned enterprises.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaChina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 19, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ali Husain is a prosperous young Indian Muslim businessman. He recently bought a Mercedes and lives in a suburban-style gated community that itself sits inside a ghetto.

In Gujarat, it is so difficult for Muslims to buy property in areas dominated by Hindus even the community's fast-growing urban middle class is confined to cramped and decrepit corners of cities.

Husain embodies the paradox of Gujarat: the state's pro-business leadership has created opportunities for entrepreneurs of all creeds; yet religious prejudice and segregation are deeply, and even legally, engrained.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsHinduismIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 18, 2014 at 5:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Modi’s new government cannot – indeed, must not – abolish the democratic rules that permit minorities to flourish. With its various ethnic groups, religions, castes, and 30 languages used by more than a million native speakers each (and another 105 spoken by at least 10,000 people), India is more culturally diverse than the entire European Union – but with twice as many people. Without the emphasis on compromise, peaceful dispute resolution, and minority rights inherent to democracy, a united India could not exist.

So Modi’s challenge is to overcome the obstacles to growth-promoting polices using democratic methods. Here, the election has brought good news: the growing strength of India’s growing middle class, a potent ally in the cause of pursuing the needed economic reforms.

That middle class consists of propertied, salaried people, many of them young, who see government as an impersonal enforcer of the law and a neutral arbiter of disputes, rather than as a source of funds and favors. The votes of such people helped Modi win the election. His success in office will depend on how well he can harness the power of the middle class to overcome the political obstacles to the economic growth that its members demand.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 18, 2014 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Incoming Indian leader Narendra Modi told thousands of supporters in one of Hinduism’s holiest cities that he represented a break from past governments after winning the nation’s biggest electoral mandate in 30 years.

“There’s a lot of work that god has put me on this earth for,” Modi said yesterday on the banks of the Ganges River in Varanasi, his constituency, after attending a prayer service at a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction and transformation. “A lot of it is dirty work, but I am up to the task.”

Thousands of people threw rose petals at Modi’s convoy as it made its way through the streets of Varanasi, with onlookers and security officials taking pictures. Earlier, Modi greeted supporters in New Delhi, where his Bharatiya Janata Party said it would nominate him formally for prime minister this week.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsHinduism

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Posted May 17, 2014 at 1:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Like real estate agents the world over, Rahul Rewal asks his clients if they have children or pets, since both limit options. But there is another crucial but often unspoken question: Are they Muslim?

“I tailor the list of places that I show Muslims because many landlords, even in upper-class neighborhoods, will not rent to them,” Mr. Rewal said. “Most don’t even bother hiding their bigotry.”

Discrimination against Muslims in India is so rampant that many barely muster outrage when telling of the withdrawn apartment offers, rejected job applications and turned-down loans that are part of living in the country for them. As a group, Muslims have fallen badly behind Hindus in recent decades in education, employment and economic status, with persistent discrimination a key reason. Muslims are more likely to live in villages without schools or medical facilities and less likely to qualify for bank loans.

Now, after a landslide electoral triumph Friday by the Bharatiya Janata Party of Hindu nationalists, some Muslims here said they were worried that their place in India could become even more tenuous.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsHinduismIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 17, 2014 at 7:58 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Chinese weapons supplier on Friday rejected claims that it sold Syria chlorine gas, an unusual statement from a tight-lipped company that reflects Beijing's desire to distance itself from chemical weapons.

In a statement, China North Industries Corp. said a "comprehensive review" of company records revealed that it has never exported chlorine or chlorine products to Syria. The company, known as Norinco, said it is "a responsible major international defense company" that conforms to the Chinese government's goals on non-proliferation.

The statement followed a report Tuesday from the group Human Rights Watch that documented what it said were signs of the use of chlorine gas in northern Syria in April. Images on the group's website showed yellow canisters with the markings "CL2," the chemical symbol for chlorine gas, and "NORINCO." Chlorine is lethal in high concentrations and was used in chemical warfare as early as the World War I.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & TechnologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChinaMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 16, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

India's main opposition BJP has risen like a phoenix from the depths of despair.

As the leads poured in on Friday morning, it was clear that the party is steaming ahead to its biggest victory in 30 years. This, after two losing two elections in a row - the party was able to mop up only 116 seats in 2009.

Today, the BJP on its own is on course to win more than the 272 which it needs to gain a simple majority, and its 28-party coalition is leading the vote count in over 300 seats.

Read it all.

Update: From an SMH article:
"It's a tsunami ... the BJP has levelled the Congress and this is a new era in Indian politics," BJP chief media spokesman Srikant Sharma told Fairfax Media.

"The Gandhi family is finished. They are no longer a force in Indian politics. India has moved past them, they are history," he said.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia

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Posted May 16, 2014 at 5:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Province of British Columbia formally apologized to Chinese Canadians Thursday for historical wrongs and racism dating back to Confederation.

Premier Christy Clark read the apology into the legislature, which was supported by the Opposition NDP and other MLAs.

“On behalf of the Province of British Columbia, and on behalf of the entire legislative assembly, we sincerely apologize for the provincial government’s historical wrongs,” said Clark.

“We are sorry for the discriminatory legislation and racist policies enacted by past provincial governments. We will ensure that this never happens again.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* International News & CommentaryAsiaChinaCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted May 15, 2014 at 2:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Narendra Modi, the man most likely to become India’s next prime minister, has a wicked turn of phrase. In one of his most memorable remarks, he subverted his strong association with Hindu asceticism by declaring his support for “toilets before temples”. The same phrase, spoken by a Congress party cabinet minister, had provoked outrage from the Bharatiya Janata party of which Mr Modi is head. The BJP said the remark threatened to “destroy the fine fabric of religion and faith”. But the party hierarchy, knowing that its fate depends on the so-called “Modi wave”, barely demurred when its candidate adopted the slogan as his own.

The BJP leader is quite right to declare that India should spend less money on devotion and more on sanitation. According to 2011 census data, nearly half of households have no access to a toilet, forcing inhabitants to defecate in the open. More Indians own a mobile phone than a lavatory of their own. Poor hygiene, not lack of food, is the main reason that 40 per cent of children are malnourished. Much of Mr Modi’s appeal, which has swept through India like a brush fire, lies in his promise to conjure the growth that will eradicate such dire conditions and set his supporters on the road to a middle-class life.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsHinduism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted May 14, 2014 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A number of exit polls are suggesting that Narendra Modi, the leader of India's main opposition BJP, is on course to win the general election.

The BJP dominated the campaign but analysts warn that exit polls have often been wrong in the past.

The main contest in the vote is between the ruling Congress and the BJP. Votes will be counted on 16 May.

Polls ended on the final day of voting on Monday. The Election Commission said voter turnout was a record 66.38%

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia

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Posted May 12, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

India's general election reaches a climax on Monday as opposition challenger Narendra Modi seeks a personal mandate in Varanasi, the holy city on the river Ganges, to govern by his modernized brand of Hindu nationalism.

Modi is the first prime ministerial candidate to stand in the 3,000-year-old city where several religions mingle. Varanasi is an ancient centre of Buddhism but one in six voters is Muslim; Hindus believe that to die here brings salvation by escaping the cycle of reincarnation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia

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Posted May 11, 2014 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Naomi Long, MP for Belfast East and deputy Alliance Party leader, has told the Commons that religious persecution is on the rise.

She opened a backbench business debate on 1 May 2014 by saying that the freedom to subscribe to any religion or none is not offered enough protection by the UN.

She referred to it as a "residual right" and warned that "within the family of human rights it remains on the margins".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeriaAsiaPakistanEngland / UKMiddle EastEgyptSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 2, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The US government has inadvertently empowered warlords and nurtured corruption in Afghanistan, warns a strikingly candid new report from the Pentagon that offers a devastating window into worthy US intentions that ended in exorbitant waste.

The initial US focus on defeating the Taliban and Al Qaeda created mutually dependent relationships between the US government and Afghan warlords “that empowered these warlords” and “expanded their opportunities for financial gain,” according to the study, which was produced by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s “lessons learned” department.

This was caused in large part by a “deluge” of military spending that “overwhelmed” the Afghan government’s ability to absorb it and later encouraged spending habits and graft that impeded the US war effort, the report concludes.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 1, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nearly three quarters of Danwon [High School]’s 11th graders died two weeks ago in the sinking of a ferry that ranks as one of the country’s deadliest disasters in recent decades.

“I’ve seen these kids grow up. I know each of their faces,” said Mr. Kim[In-jea], 57, who lives nearby and said seven of his neighbors lost their children. “To say that this neighborhood feels empty would be an understatement. This neighborhood feels like a morgue.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenEducation* International News & CommentaryAsiaSouth Korea* TheologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted May 1, 2014 at 4:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One of the Indian capital’s best known lobbyists for domestic workers is a Belgian nun. Jeanne Devos founded the National Domestic Workers Movement 34 years ago. It tries to organize among this vast informal workforce, by some estimates as high as 40 million mostly women. Many were trafficked into the work as children.

SISTER JEANNE DEVOS (Founder, National Domestic Workers Movement): That’s a whole network of money, racket—it’s amazing. It’s one of the biggest incomes for most people. Just go to the villages, get them poor children, sell them back in the city.

LEEZA JOSEPH: Domestic workers are very invisible. They are not recognized as workers.

DE SAM LAZARO: Leeza Joseph heads the movement’s Delhi office.

Read or watch and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureWomen* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia

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Posted April 27, 2014 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(The title of the video by ABC is "Miracle in Hell"--KSH).

A New Zealand pastor and his wife have made it their mission to take on India’s billion-dollar sex industry by rescuing young prostitutes from one of the largest "red light" districts on Earth.

The streets of Sonagacchi in Kolkata, India, are home to more than 10,000 prostitutes, many of whom are teenage girls. Most are sold into the sex trade by their families.

Pastor Kerry Hilton and his wife, Annie, who have lived in Sonagacchi for about 15 years, said they were shocked when they first moved to India and stumbled upon them. They had no idea their apartment overlooked the largest sex bazaar in India -- until the sun went down.

"We felt that these women straight away were our neighbors," Kerry Hilton said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissionsParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchPovertyReligion & CultureSexualityTeens / YouthUrban/City Life and IssuesYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndiaAustralia / NZ

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Posted April 24, 2014 at 4:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As priests chanted and smeared vermilion on Narendra Modi’s forehead, the opposition leader prayed that India would make him its next prime minister.

Modi came to this Hindu holy city late last year to worship at a site that has been contested by Hindus and Muslims for centuries. Just yards from where he stood, a two-story wall of metal bars separated the historic temple from a mosque.

Modi has been a polarizing figure in India for years. Now his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has surged in the polls as a discontented electorate has embraced his message of economic growth and corruption-free government. Voters have begun to cast their ballots in national elections, which will continue in stages until May 12.

Read it all from the Washington Post.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsHinduismIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted April 15, 2014 at 7:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"The Drop Box" - Documentary Trailer from Arbella Studios on Vimeo.



Worth every second of the three minutes of your time it takes to watch--touching, heart-rending, and encouraging--KSH.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaSouth Korea* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

2 Comments
Posted April 12, 2014 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The oldest Anglican church in Malaysia recently held a special service to pray for the families and victims of flight MH 370, the Malaysian government and other governments involved in the search and rescue efforts.

The Special Service of Praying for MH 370 was held on Sunday, 6th April in Christ Church, Melaka to allow worshippers to identify themselves, and stand in solidarity with those affected by the tragedy.

The Rt Revd Jason Selvaraj, Assistant Bishop of West Malaysia, said, "We wanted to tell the families that we are concerned and we stand with you at this painful time. We wanted to tell our Malaysian government and its people that our leaders are very much in our prayers as they work on the search and rescue mission.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* International News & CommentaryAsiaMalaysia

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Posted April 12, 2014 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In 1803, in a house overlooking Plymouth harbor, a 14-year-old boy lay dangerously ill. Before this time, he'd never given much time to serious thought about the course his life would take. But during his year-long convalescence, he began to reflect on the possibility of future fame. Would he be a statesman, an orator, or a poet? An eminent minister of a large, wealthy church? Where did true greatness lie? He was shocked out of his reverie—and very nearly out of his bed—by a mysterious voice that uttered the words "Not unto us, not unto us, but to Thy name be the glory."

Adoniram Judson would remember that startling revelation for the rest of his life. With his strong academic training, keen intellect, and linguistic abilities, he might well have become a prominent theologian, scholar, or politician in 19th-century America. But his profound desire to do the will of God led him down a very different path.

"The motto for every missionary, whether preacher, printer, or schoolmaster, ought to be 'Devoted for Life.'"
Adoniram Judson

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryMissions* International News & CommentaryAsiaMyanmar/Burma* TheologyChristologySoteriology

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Posted April 12, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Eternal God, we offer thanks for the ministry of Adoniram Judson, who out of love for thee and thy people translated the Scriptures into Burmese. Move us, inspired by his example, to support the presentation of thy Good News in every language, for the glory of Jesus Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistorySpirituality/Prayer* International News & CommentaryAsiaMyanmar/Burma

0 Comments
Posted April 12, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Afghanistan's Mitra Hemmat: Retail entrepreneur

Mitra Hemmat has occupied rarefied air since returning from Iran to Afghanistan in 2005, where she quickly achieved status as the nation’s top student, and won a scholarship to study in India.

A doctor who wears a black headscarf with a faux diamond broach, at 28 she accepts few limits, and dreams of giving back to her country “to help my people.” She plans to serve through medicine and one day win election to parliament.

“We just want peace; we don’t want to have to think about who is the president,” says Ms. Hemmat. “If it is bad, if things change [for the worse], I will go to another country,” says Hemmat. “My passport is always in my pocket. I would not stay.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistan

0 Comments
Posted April 6, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Afghans flocked to polling stations nationwide tod ay, defying a threat of violence by the Taliban, to cast their votes in what promises to be the nation's first democratic transfer of power.

The turnout was so high that some polling centres ran out of ballot papers.

The excitement over choosing a new leader for the first time appeared to overwhelm the fear of bloodshed in many areas, as Afghans embarked on a major transition nearly 13 years after the US-led invasion toppled the rule of the Taliban.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistan

0 Comments
Posted April 5, 2014 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

China may exempt electric-car buyers from paying purchase taxes as part of expanded state measures to bolster sales of such vehicles after past incentives failed to spur demand, Vice Premier Ma Kai said.

The government may cut or waive the 10 percent auto-purchase tax for new-energy vehicles -- China’s term for electric cars, plug-in hybrids and fuel-cell vehicles -- and slow down the reduction of government subsidies beyond 2015, according to comments from Vice Premier Ma Kai posted on the Chinaev.org website. Ma also urged local governments to help companies develop electric-car rental services.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationScience & TechnologyTravel* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted April 2, 2014 at 9:13 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As Dr. Kim Seok-Kwun begins surgery to create a functioning penis for a Buddhist monk who was born female, he is well aware of the unease his work creates in this deeply conservative country. The devout Protestant known as the "father of South Korean transgender people" once wrestled with similar feelings.

"I've decided to defy God's will," Kim, 61, said in an interview before the monk's recent successful surgery to become a man. "At first, I agonized over whether I should do these operations because I wondered if I was defying God. I was overcome with a sense of shame. But my patients desperately wanted these surgeries. Without them, they'd kill themselves."

Kim is a pioneer in slowly changing views on sexuality and gender in South Korea, where many have long considered even discussions of sexuality a taboo. He has conducted about 320 sex change operations over the past 28 years, widely believed to be the most by any single doctor in the country.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMenPsychologySexualityWomen* International News & CommentaryAsiaSouth Korea* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With the row over the use of the word Allah still simmering, Anglican Christians in Sarawak said they will go all out to defend their right to use the word in worship.

Datuk Bolly Lapok, Anglican Archbishop for Southeast Asia, said they were willing to abandon their calling to be peacemakers and reconcilers, if “turning the other cheek to the provocateurs and extremists in political Islam that are relentlessly stoking the fire of hatred and bigotry is tantamount to sending a wrong message to them”.

He said this in a statement after a mass gathering of its Iban speaking congregation in Sri Aman today.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaMalaysia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted March 29, 2014 at 2:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Pakistani Christian man has been sentenced to death for blasphemy, in a case which sparked fierce rioting in the eastern city of Lahore last March.

Sawan Masih was convicted of using derogatory remarks against the Prophet Mohammed in a row with a Muslim friend.

Hundreds of Muslims attacked the city's Christian Joseph colony, torching homes, when the allegations surfaced.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

4 Comments
Posted March 28, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The saga of MH370, the Malaysian Airlines flight missing for more than two weeks, seems to be entering its final chapter. Earlier this week, engineers developed a method to estimate the plane’s trajectory, and debris appear to have been spotted in satellite images.

While the technique used to track the flight path has been called “groundbreaking,” it actually rests on some fairly old-fashioned physics. In fact, the basic method has been used to conduct satellite search and rescue operations for more than 30 years, predating our always-connected, GPS-enabled world.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & TechnologyTravel* International News & CommentaryAsiaMalaysia

0 Comments
Posted March 27, 2014 at 11:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the earthquake also had quieter consequences that didn't make headlines. In the London Review of Books, Richard Lloyd Parry investigates a peculiar phenomenon revealed in the aftermath of the storm. His piece is called "Ghosts of the Tsunami."

RICHARD LLOYD PARRY: People reported neighbors - neighbors who died in the tsunami - appearing at their houses and coming and sitting down in puddles of water.

MARTIN: Parry has lived in Japan for 18 years and has known it to be a mostly secular culture. In global polls, Japan ranks as one of the least religious countries in the world.

PARRY: But there's a bit more to it than that. I mean I'd got used to seeing, in the homes of friends, these little altars you find to the family ancestors. And I'd always assumed they were nothing much more than a quaint piece of interior decoration. But I realized in following this story and returning to the tsunami zone, that actually the religion of the ancestors is alive and well and very strong.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & Family* General InterestNatural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc.* International News & CommentaryAsiaJapan

0 Comments
Posted March 20, 2014 at 3:41 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The 623rd and final burial plot was filled following a funeral in the Christian Cemetery in Salmabad at the weekend as church and community leaders wait anxiously on a promised donation of new land to come to fruition.

There is little room left to squeeze in any more deceased believers and digging up the footpaths may be the only choice. Otherwise, expats may have no alternative but to pay thousands of dinars to have the bodies of their loved ones repatriated to their home countries in Europe, Asia, Africa or the Americas.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaBahrain

1 Comments
Posted March 17, 2014 at 3:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A devoted Chinese father who carries his disabled son 18 miles to school every day will be provided with government-funded accommodation nearby.

Yu Xukang walks the huge distance with his son, Xiao Qiang, strapped to his back in a specially constructed basket.

The 40-year-old, from Fengyi township in Yibin county in southwest China’s Sichuan province - 2,000 miles west of Shanghai - refused to give up on the boy now aged 12, despite the fact that both his arms and legs are twisted and his back is hunched.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationMarriage & FamilyTravel* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina

0 Comments
Posted March 16, 2014 at 1:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I have been called several times in the last few days, including by journalists, for opinions on our involvement in Afghanistan. The most often asked question is rather simplistic – understandable when a story has to fit into the bookends of other news events, but revealing in that Canadians desire that 12 years should be summarized into a thumbs-up or thumbs-down question. It is also indicative of the collective national withdrawal symptom and its accompanying amnesia.

To that simple question – “Was it worth it?” – the answer is yes. Afghanistan is far better off than what it was in 2001 by almost every possible metric. Certainly, many have died and continue to do so through insurgent actions and improvised explosive devices. Undeniably governance is weak and corruption embedded, but there are no longer public amputations and executions, there is no longer ethnic repression on the scale there once was, health care has improved and there remains a sense of hope. Hope that women won’t just be chattel once again and girls can continue to be schooled, hope that governance will improve, and hope that the roots of democracy and of an improving economic condition can continue to grow.

The Canadian Forces, our police and our diplomats did what they were asked and aside from the broader legacy it can be said that Canada’s presence in Kandahar prevented a Taliban takeover and that Canada set the conditions for the subsequent U.S. surge.

Read it all from the Globe and Mail.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistanCanada

0 Comments
Posted March 15, 2014 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

China is likely to see a series of bond and financial product defaults as the government accelerates financial deregulation and allows more private ownership in the state-dominated sector, Li Keqiang, Chinese premier, said on Thursday.

Future defaults of financial products in China are “unavoidable” but the government will take steps to ensure they do not pose a threat to the wider financial system, Mr Li told journalists at his annual media conference.

China saw its first domestic bond default in recent history a week ago when Chaori Solar, a small Shanghai-based solar panel producer, failed to pay interest on Rmb1bn ($162m) worth of bonds it sold two years ago.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeThe Banking System/SectorPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 13, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Yet there are larger issues behind the electoral spectacle that must not be overlooked. India’s elections have, over the years, deepened and broadened the composition of the political establishment. Sociologists have analyzed the class composition of India’s legislatures and traced the change from a post-independence Parliament dominated by highly educated professionals to one populated by today’s motley crew of MPs, who are more truly representative of India’s rural heartland.

But the fact that, particularly in India’s northern states, voters elect people referred to openly in the press as “mafia dons,” “dacoit leaders,” and “anti-social elements” is a troubling reflection on the way the electoral process has served Indian democracy. In the last four parliaments, at least a hundred members have had criminal cases pending against them. The resulting alienation of the educated middle class means that fewer and fewer of them go to the polls on Election Day.

The poor, however, do. Whereas psephological studies in the United States have demonstrated that the poor do not vote in significant numbers (presidential-election turnout in Harlem averaged 23% before Barack Obama’s two candidacies), the opposite is true in India.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia

0 Comments
Posted March 13, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"God is here, God is here," croons Singapore church official Sun Ho as she struts across a neon-lit stage and thousands of people in the congregation pump their hands and sing along.

Kong Hee, the church's founding pastor and Sun Ho's husband, then takes the stage. In keeping with the electrifying mood, he invites his followers to speak "in tongues" and a pulsing murmur echoes through the auditorium of 8,000 people.

During the service, ushers hand out envelopes for donations, which consume at least a tenth of the salaries of most church members, going to fund different ministries, mission trips and special events.

Welcome to one of Asia's most profitable churches: Singapore's City Harvest.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaSingapore* Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 8, 2014 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A disgraced composer once hailed as Japan's Beethoven apologized Friday for lying about his career but stood by his claim that he was partly deaf.

In his first public appearance since the scandal broke in early February, Mamoru Samuragochi said at a packed news conference in Tokyo that "I am truly sorry for the trouble I caused with my lies."

The 50-year-old had been known for penning highly acclaimed symphonies, and the story of a composer who remained dedicated to his art even after losing his hearing had captivated media.

But his elaborate facade came tumbling down after another man came forward in early February to say that he had actually composed most of Mr. Samuragochi's works. The ghostwriter, Takashi Niigaki, also claimed that in their meetings over an 18-year period, Mr. Samuragochi appeared to have no problems with his hearing.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchMusic* International News & CommentaryAsiaJapan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 7, 2014 at 5:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The REALITY at All Saints’ Church, Peshawar, on Sunday, 22 September 2013

This cataclysmic act committed by two suicide bombers shook the very foundations of our people and changed the very course of not only their lives but of the whole Christian community in Pakistan. It happened after the morning worship of Holy Communion while they were sharing an agape fellowship in the small compound of this historic church. The church was built in 1883 as the first church building of its kind, being designed like a mosque and especially for the use of the native Christians of the local area. Even at that time its foundations were filled with the blood of nine local Christian martyrs. It is located in the heart of the ancient historic city of Peshawar and in the neighbourhood of the famous Qissa Khawani (story tellers) bazaar, which was the hub of the travellers of ancient times when entering from Khyber Pass onto the Silk Route.

My relationship with this ‘gharana’ (family) goes back almost quarter of a century. I have shared their joys and sorrows during these years. I have been their friend and father-figure. Many of them I had Baptized, Confirmed and Married. It has been one of the two largest parishes in the Diocese of Peshawar and a bastion of indigenous Christianity in this famous border area of Pakistan/Afghanistan. Most of the families can claim their lineage in this area for well over a century. One of the most celebrated aspects of their Christian witness has always been their Easter procession, very often numbering up to five thousand young and old, women and children, singing and praying through the winding and narrow streets of the neighbourhood. Almost all of them speak and communicate in the local Pakhtun language and are also well versed in Pakhtun culture. So they have never felt themselves to be either outsiders or unfamiliar with the local customs and traditions. For this reason they were always open and at ease with their Muslim neighbours.

This horrendous tragedy claimed nearly 300 victims of all ages, with 117 passing away and 162 receiving very serious and other injuries...

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther Faiths* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 6, 2014 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...Father Luke is still planning to run this year — along with hundreds of other service members — as part of a “shadow” Boston Marathon in Afghanistan. “After I qualified for 2014, I knew I couldn’t run in Boston this year,” he said. “But I could bring Boston to Afghanistan.”

On Friday, in a telephone interview from Afghanistan, Father Luke said registration for “Boston Marathon/Afghanistan” had opened on Thursday. “And the response has been overwhelming,” with members of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines signing up from throughout Afghanistan, he said.

He said military commanders and Boston Athletic Association officials embraced the idea when he proposed it. (Bagram also hosted a “shadow” Boston Marathon a couple of years ago). So when service members cross the finish line in Afghanistan, they’ll receive the same medals handed out on Boylston Street.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSportsUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistan* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

0 Comments
Posted March 4, 2014 at 1:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a surprise move Monday, North Korean officials freed a Christian missionary from Australia who was arrested for handing out Bibles in Pyongyang.

John Short, 75, allegedly apologized for his behavior and begged for his freedom.

“I now realize the seriousness of my insult to the Korean people on Feb. 16 because I made the Korean people angry, and for this I truly apologize,” Short said, according to a report on the state news agency. “I am willing to bow down on my knees to request this tolerance of (North Korea) and the Korean people.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissions* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaNorth KoreaAustralia / NZ

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Unfortunately, in the eyes of many Central Asians, America’s interest does not extend beyond gas and oil. Washington’s decision to pull back from Afghanistan in 2014 will likely erode American influence at the very moment when it could do the most good — especially as rising prosperity increases pressure for governments to loosen their grip. Greater freedom presents great dangers, as the disillusions of the Arab Spring have so sadly demonstrated.

Yet it may be in Central Asia, rather than the Middle East, Pakistan or Indonesia, where the ideals that both Presidents Bush and Obama have espoused will be most actively pursued in coming years. This is not to suggest that Washington pay less attention to the Arab world, but perhaps it is time for us to listen to our own lectures on the possibilities of a peaceful and intellectually open version of Islam, and to back those societies that are trying most successfully to advance it today.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsia* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted February 27, 2014 at 11:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Brunei's all-powerful sultan, stung by rare criticism, has ordered social media users to stop attacking his plans to introduce harsh Islamic criminal punishments in the placid oil-rich kingdom.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah -- one of the world's wealthiest men -- announced last October that Brunei would phase in sharia law punishments such as flogging, severing limbs and death by stoning beginning April 1.

The move has sparked a growing outcry on social media, the only outlet for public criticism of authorities in the Muslim country where questioning the 67-year-old sultan is taboo.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaBrunei* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 26, 2014 at 4:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I found this very powerful--take a look.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina

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Posted February 26, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A bus full of South Korean Christians who saved money for years in order to visit biblical sites in Egypt and Israel were attacked Sunday by a suicide bomber.

Four people were killed in the bombing, including the Egyptian driver, a church member, and two South Korean guides. At least 14 others were injured, the Associated Press reports.

This is not the first time South Korean Christians have been the target of violence in a foreign country. In 2007, after a 43-day hostage situation left two South Korean missionaries dead in Afghanistan, South Korea subsequently banned citizens from traveling to certain majority-Muslim countries—which proved to be a blessing in disguise for Korean Christians.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* International News & CommentaryAsiaSouth KoreaMiddle EastEgyptIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

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Posted February 18, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S. military has revised plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan to allow the White House to wait until President Hamid Karzai leaves office before completing a security pact and settling on a post-2014 U.S. troop presence, officials said.

The option for waiting reflects a growing belief in Washington that there is little chance of repairing relations with Mr. Karzai and getting him to sign the bilateral security agreement before elections scheduled for the spring.

"If he's not going to be part of the solution, we have to have a way to get past him," said a senior U.S. official. "It's a pragmatic recognition that clearly Karzai may not sign the BSA and that he doesn't represent the voice of the Afghan people."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 10, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O God our Father, who art the source of strength to all thy saints, and who didst bring the holy martyrs of Japan through the suffering of the cross to the joys of life eternal: Grant that we, being encouraged by their example, may hold fast the faith that we profess, even unto death; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsSpirituality/Prayer* International News & CommentaryAsiaJapan

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Posted February 6, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More than 2,000 Christians gathered in Colombo on Sunday (January 26) to protest against a perceived lack of religious freedom in Sri Lanka, following recent attacks on Christian places of worship by Buddhist extremists.

Two churches and a Christian prayer centre were attacked on Jan. 12 by Buddhist mobs claiming they were illegal and aiming to take Buddhists away from their religion.

The prayer centre, belonging to the Church of the Foursquare Gospel in Pitipana, near Colombo, was set alight on the same day as attacks on the Assemblies of God Church and Calvary Free Church in the southern coastal town of Hikkaduwa.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAsiaSri Lanka* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsBuddhism

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Posted January 29, 2014 at 4:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

According to the late Roberto Goizueta, a former boss of The Coca-Cola Company, April 15th 1981 was “one of the most important days…in the history of the world.” That date marked the opening of the first Coke bottling plant to be built in China since the Communist revolution.

The claim was over the top, but not absurd. Mao Zedong’s disastrous policies had left the economy in tatters. The height of popular aspiration was the “four things that go round”: bicycles, sewing machines, fans and watches. The welcome that Deng Xiaoping, China’s then leader, gave to foreign firms was part of a series of changes that turned China into one of the biggest and fastest-growing markets in the world.

For the past three decades, multinationals have poured in. After the financial crisis, many companies looked to China for salvation. Now it looks as though the gold rush may be over.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina

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Posted January 26, 2014 at 1:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An American missionary who has been jailed in North Korea for more than a year appeared before reporters Monday and appealed to the U.S. government to do its best to secure his release.

The missionary, Kenneth Bae, made the comments at what he called a press conference held at his own request. He was under guard during the appearance. It is not unusual for prisoners in North Korea to say after their release that they spoke in similar situations under duress.

Wearing a gray cap and inmate's uniform with the number 103 on his chest, Bae spoke in Korean during the brief appearance, which was attended by The Associated Press and a few other foreign media in Pyongyang.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPrison/Prison MinistryPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaNorth Korea

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Posted January 21, 2014 at 3:42 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Beijing's skyscrapers receded into a dense gray smog Thursday as the capital saw the season's first wave of extremely dangerous pollution, with the concentration of toxic small particles registering more than two dozen times the level considered safe.

The air took on an acrid odor, and many of the city's commuters wore industrial strength face masks as they hurried to work.

"I couldn't see the tall buildings across the street this morning," said a traffic coordinator at a busy Beijing intersection who gave only his surname, Zhang. "The smog has gotten worse in the last two to three years. I often cough, and my nose is always irritated. But what can you do? I drink more water to help my body discharge the toxins."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & TechnologyTravelUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Netherlands nudged past France and Switzerland as the country with the most nutritious, plentiful and healthy food, while the United States and Japan failed to make it into the top 20, a new ranking released by Oxfam showed.

Chad came in last on the list of 125 nations, behind Ethiopia and Angola, in the food index released on Tuesday by the international development organisation.

"The Netherlands have created a good market that enables people to get enough to eat. Prices are relatively low and stable and the type of food people are eating is balanced," said Deborah Hardoon, a senior researcher at Oxfam who compiled the results.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDieting/Food/NutritionGlobalizationHealth & MedicineScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryAfricaAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaEngland / UKEurope

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Everyone knows that Indian Partition was a very bloody affair, but how many of us can name the man given the responsibility of laying the groundwork for it? In July 1947 Prime Minister Clement Attlee appointed Cyril Radcliffe, a barrister, to the task of drawing the boundary lines between the two new sovereign states of India and Pakistan. There had been riots in the country and the British were looking for as orderly an exit from empire as possible.

The guiding principle, crudely, was that as many Hindus and Sikhs as possible should remain within India’s redrawn borders, while the newly created Pakistan would be home to the majority of Muslims. There was the additional problem of populous Calcutta and Bengal in the East. Radcliffe, absurdly, had five weeks to accomplish this: Independence was set for August 15.

Howard Brenton’s new play Drawing the Line, which has been playing to full houses at the Hampstead Theatre (the curtain comes down with a live-stream performance this Saturday, available on a certain newspaper’s website), focuses on Radcliffe as he struggles with an impossible assignment in a country he has never until now visited, pulled in different directions by representatives from Jawaharlal Nehru’s Congress Party and Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s Muslim League

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureTheatre/Drama/Plays* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndiaPakistanEngland / UK

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Posted January 15, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Amid conflicting news reports over changes to the one-child family planning policy in China, disturbing reports continue to arrive about serious abuses of human rights.

On Dec. 31 the BBC reported that a Chinese obstetrician is on trial, accused of stealing newborn babies and selling them to child traffickers.

Zhang Shuxia was accused of selling seven babies, according to the BBC. Apparently she told the parents their infants were sick, and persuaded them to give the children to her.

Just the day before, Radio Free Asia reported that four Uyghur women in China's north-western region of Xinjiang have been forced by authorities to undergo abortions—one of them nine months into her pregnancy.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted January 14, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Months after super typhoon Hayaan destroyed large parts of the Philippines, many survivors say prayer got them through the storm and the difficult times afterwards. “The comment that I have heard is that God can send the cyclone here because the Filipino people are so strong that we can overcome even a storm this strong,” says Catholic Relief Services emergency coordinator Elizabeth Tromans.

Read or watch and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* General InterestNatural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc.* International News & CommentaryAsiaPhilippines

0 Comments
Posted January 12, 2014 at 12:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In much of the world this is a time of new beginnings. In Afghanistan, it is time to mark the beginning of an end: A dozen year commitment of foreign troops to fight the Taliban will wind down this year, meaning 51,000 American soldiers are poised to take their leave from a conflict that appears to be stumbling towards a stalemate, or worse.

The Afghanistan mission has been the longest military engagement in American history. For Canada, which saw 30,000 of its soldiers pass through the country over nine and a half years, it is the largest military operation since the Second World War. One hundred and fifty-eight Canadian soldiers and four civilians died, and by the end of 2010, a total of 1,859 military members had been wounded.

Those grim figures are just part of the reason why Afghanistan’s future should still matter – to Canada and its allies.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistanCanada* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 6, 2014 at 3:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Emmanuel, God with us, who didst make thy home in every culture and community on earth: We offer thanks for the raising up of thy servant Samuel Azariah as the first indigenous bishop in India. Grant that we may be strengthened by his witness to thy love without concern for class or caste, and by his labors for the unity of the Church in India, that people of many languages and cultures might with one voice give thee glory, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistorySpirituality/Prayer* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia

1 Comments
Posted January 2, 2014 at 4:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

India’s one-year-old Aam Aadmi party, formed by a former tax official turned crusading anti-corruption activist, announced on Monday that it will form the local government in New Delhi, after a stunning electoral debut that tapped into public anger against India’s incumbent political elites.

Like Italy’s Five Star Movement led by comedian come politician Beppe Grillo, the AAP is an electoral insurgency, which has tapped into deep Indian disgruntlement – especially among its urban educated voters – at the lack of accountability of established politicians, many of whom seem to treat electoral victories as blank cheques.

The strong wave of support for the party, which has managed to capture 30 per cent of the city’s vote, has shocked and dismayed the political establishment, and triggered near euphoria among disillusioned urban voters hoping for radical change.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia

0 Comments
Posted December 23, 2013 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Asian continent has two majority-Christian nations. One, obviously, is the Philippines. Few nonspecialists would know the other example: East Timor. Lying between Australia and Indonesia, it is one of the world’s newest countries—in fact the first new nation of the present century. East Timor is also definitively Christian, with a reported Catholic population of 97 percent. Those bare-bones facts, though, conceal a heroic and often dreadful history, recalling one of the world’s worst atrocities of the late 20th century.

For centuries, East Timor was a Portuguese colony. (The word Timor simply means “east.”) In 1974, a leftist-led revolution in Portugal precipitated a global crisis at the height of the cold war. The Soviet Union and Cuba staged a massive move into Portugal’s African colonies, and the West feared that Timorese liberation forces might create a communist haven in the South Pacific. To prevent that disaster, the United States and its allies supported an Indonesian invasion of East Timor in late 1975.

Political takeovers can take many forms, but this was no simple case of a change of occupiers, with a set of new flags. During their occupation, from 1975 through 1999, the Indonesians ruled with hideous brutality.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAsiaEast Timor

1 Comments
Posted December 22, 2013 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some more active persecutors tell similar stories. “We harassed them and destroyed their houses. But they have no hatred or anger against us,” said Junos Digal, a member of the mob that attacked Christian targets. Squatting on a mat, with a Bible in front of him, he continued: “They are still suffering. But they have no complaints and they are living happily. There is certainly something special about how their faith enables them to overcome difficulties. This has brought me here. If Jesus could influence people’s lives to such an extent, I would prefer to be a part of that faith,” Digal said.

Asked whether he was worried that other Hindu fundamentalists would not turn their ire toward him for betraying their cause, Digal gave an interesting reply: “Many of us were misled. Now they will accept the reality. I am not worried about that.” Junos's wife, Sailama, embraced Christian faith before he did. She said simply: “My conscience made me take this decision.” She too is unworried about a possible angry reaction from militant Hindus. “ God will protect us,” she says. “If we live, we live for Christ and if we die, we die for Christ.”

The entry of more than a dozen such new converts to their congregation brought joy and comfort to the Christians who had held to their faith amid persecution. “In our suffering, our faith has been strengthened,” said Jayanti Digal. “Even when we were suffering, our faith kept us going. Now we are glad that even those who attacked us have started embracing our faith,” she said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsHinduism

0 Comments
Posted December 16, 2013 at 7:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Delhi police...[Wednesday] cane-charged and water cannoned Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi, several other bishops, nuns, pastors as they led a rally in Parliament Street demanding to end the discrimination against dalit Christians.

Several priests and nuns and lay leaders were injured badly in the police action. Christian leaders then courted arrest and were taken to parliament street police station as they mached on defying police orders.

This is the first time after in1997, that Bishops and Church leaders have been arrested while protesting for dalit cause.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith Relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 14, 2013 at 7:57 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Brian Pellot: Let’s start with some of your general impressions of North Korea. Very few foreign journalists have reported from there in recent years. Why did you go?

John Sweeney: North Korea is the darkest place on earth, both literally and metaphorically. You can actually see how dark the country is from space. It’s almost as if it isn’t even there. It’s also the darkest place I’ve ever been to in terms of information. I used to be a war reporter. I went to Ceaușescu’s Romania, Saddam’s Iraq, Gadhafi’s Libya. I’ve been to about a dozen tyrannies. In Iraq and Libya, I’d meet people who would let you know their government is full of ####. That didn’t happen in North Korea. It feels like bad science fiction there. It’s like walking inside the “The Matrix.” It’s really weird and creepy. I wanted to shed some light on this dark state to show how North Korea is using nuclear blackmail against the West. Behind the mask of this, there is an immense human rights tragedy unfolding.
- See more at: http://brianpellot.religionnews.com/2013/12/10/bbcs-john-sweeney-north-koreas-zombie-gods/#sthash.Woi7GkV8.dpuf

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaNorth Korea

0 Comments
Posted December 10, 2013 at 11:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Persecution is growing because Christianity is growing in the places where people are persecuted,” said Todd Johnson of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

Speaking during a Dec. 5 media call, he characterized anti-Christian persecution as “growing fast.” His research estimates that one in five Christians, 500 million people, currently live in countries where Christians are likely to be persecuted. By 2020, their numbers are expected to rise to 600 million, 25% of the Christian population.

Johnson noted that the Christian population has significantly shifted from Europe and North America to the “Global South”: Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalGlobal South Churches & Primates* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAfricaAsiaSouth America

0 Comments
Posted December 9, 2013 at 7:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Shanghai warned children and the elderly to stay indoors for at least a seventh day out of the first nine this month, intensifying pressure on local authorities to control the worst smog since government monitoring began last year.

The city’s air quality index was at 238, or “heavily polluted” at 5 p.m., according to the local monitoring center. A warning to stay indoors is triggered any time the index exceeds 200. The index surged to a record 482 on Dec. 6 into the “severe” level, the highest of a six-tier rating system, according to the China Daily. That prompted the government to order cars off the road and factories to cut production.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina

2 Comments
Posted December 9, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

China’s yuan overtook the euro to become the second-most used currency in global trade finance in 2013, according to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication.

The currency had an 8.66 percent share of letters of credit and collections in October, compared with 6.64 percent for the euro, Swift said in a statement today. China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Germany and Australia were the top users of yuan in trade finance, according to the Belgium-based financial-messaging platform. The yuan’s share of global trade finance was 1.89 percent in January 2012, while the euro’s was 7.87 percent, Swift said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCurrency Markets* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina

0 Comments
Posted December 3, 2013 at 11:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A World Medical Mission team prays over medical kits as they are assembled and shipped to the Philippines. Take a look.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchCharities/Non-Profit OrganizationsHealth & Medicine* International News & CommentaryAsiaPhilippines

0 Comments
Posted November 23, 2013 at 7:48 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Police in the central province of Henan arrested the pastor Zhang Shaojie, leader of the Church of Nanle County , and more than 20 Christian staff and faithful. The authorities have not stated the reason for detention, but some sources speaking to ChinaAid argue that the pastor has "angered" the authorities for the defense of his faithful against the abuses committed by Communist officials.

Zhang is part of the Three-Self Movement, the "official" Protestant Church built by Mao Zedong in the early years of his government.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 21, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Four years later, of course, Jeremy Lin is a brand name and a phenomenon, having burst into fame with the Knicks last year and gone on to a lucrative free-agent contract with the Houston Rockets. Just the other night, he put up 21 points at Madison Square Garden in a victory over his former team.

As for the documentary, “Linsanity” has been shown on the festival circuit and in art houses, and is now moving into the download and DVD part of its cinematic life. At one level, the film is a quintessential saga of sporting triumph, with Lin as the perpetual underdog who defies every doubter and conquers every challenge to achieve his dream.

In a deeper way, though, “Linsanity” brings to a mass audience not just an Asian-American sports star, but an Asian-American Christian. The film shows Lin not only tossing in three-pointers and piercing down the lane, but also repeatedly speaking of divine direction, divine intercession, divine will.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMovies & TelevisionReligion & CultureSports* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Asia* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 18, 2013 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Survivors of Typhoon Haiyan flocked to ruined churches on Sunday, kneeling in prayer under torn roofs as the Philippines faced an enormous rebuilding task from the storm that killed at least 3,681 people and displaced 4 million.

At Santo Niño Church, near the waterfront in the flattened city of Tacloban, birds flitted between the rafters overhead as women moved through the pews with collection plates. At the end of mass, the Roman Catholic congregation broke into applause.

Rosario Capidos, 55, sat crying in one row, hugging her nine-year-old grandson, Cyrich.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* General InterestNatural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc.* International News & CommentaryAsiaPhilippines* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

0 Comments
Posted November 18, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

All Girls Allowed (AGA), a leading faith-based organization pushing for an end to the one-child policy, previously stated on Nov. 5 that "all previous speculations about a possible relaxation of China's One-Child Policy have now been put to an end, as the Ministry of Health and Family Planning announced on October 29th that the policy will remain unchanged."

Today, AGA released a new statement:

All Girls Allowed welcomes the news of the policy's relaxation, but expresses disappointment that the Chinese government has not gone the logical and compassionate route—abolishing the policy altogether. ... [T]he greatest indictment against the One-Child Policy is the use of coercion in its enforcement. Untold numbers of forced abortions and sterilizations continue to take place to this day, making it the greatest violence against women and children in the world today.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina

0 Comments
Posted November 15, 2013 at 4:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Bible is "the most dangerous book on Earth," George Bernard Shaw famously warned a century ago. Today, Shaw's words ring true—literally—for the 24 million people of North Korea. Possession of a Bible is a one-way ticket to the gulag or worse.

The worst came true this month for a handful of North Koreans who were caught with Bibles, which are outlawed by the communist regime. The Christians were among a group of 80 North Koreans who were executed by firing squad on Sunday, Nov. 3, according to a report in the South Korean daily, JoongAng Ilbo. Those put to death also included North Koreans accused of watching South Korean DVDs that had been smuggled into the North, or of distributing pornography. The ruling Kim family regime controls every aspect of citizens' lives, including what information reaches them from the world outside North Korea's borders. Bibles, foreign DVDs, the Internet, cellphones that can make international calls—all are banned.

The executions were public and took place in seven cities across the country, according to the JoongAng Ilbo.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaNorth Korea* TheologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted November 15, 2013 at 10:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

China will loosen its decades-old one-child policy by allowing two children for families with one parent who was an only child and will abolish a much-criticized labor camp system, its ruling Communist Party said Friday.

The changes were part of a key policy document released by the official Xinhua News Agency following a four-day meeting of party leaders through Tuesday in Beijing. The document also seeks to map out China's economic policy for coming years.

The labor camp — or "re-education through labor" — system was established to punish early critics of the Communist Party but now is used by local officials to deal with people challenging their authority on issues including land rights and corruption.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPrison/Prison Ministry* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina

1 Comments
Posted November 15, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The mission agency Us is the latest in a series of Anglican agencies raising funds to help people affected by Typhoon Haiyan.

In a statement issued today, the UK-based agency appealed for donations to help them provide food, water, sleeping bags and blankets, plastic sheeting and materials for housing.

"Donations will also fund a long-term rehabilitation programme that will include helping farmers to start growing crops again.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* General InterestNatural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc.* International News & CommentaryAsiaPhilippines

0 Comments
Posted November 14, 2013 at 3:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury has sent a message of prayer and solidarity to all those affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

'We are deeply shocked and saddened to hear of the loss of thousands of lives and of the suffering of millions' caused by the storm, Archbishop Justin Welby said today.

'Our prayers are with all those who are traumatised by the disaster and in desperate need of food, water, shelter and medical attention.'

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* General InterestNatural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc.* International News & CommentaryAsiaPhilippines

0 Comments
Posted November 13, 2013 at 7:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As authorities in this typhoon-ravaged nation struggled Tuesday with a mammoth relief effort, survivors were becoming increasingly desperate, short on food and supplies and terrified about waiting longer for help.

A few residents of hard-hit areas scrawled signs with a simple message: “Help us.”

About five days after the once-in-a-century winds of Typhoon Haiyan gashed the central Philippines, some aid workers said progress has been too slow. Many who want to help are waiting at airports and air bases, hoping to catch rides from the short-handed Philippine military.

Read it all.


Filed under: * General InterestNatural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc.* International News & CommentaryAsiaPhilippines

2 Comments
Posted November 13, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The head of the Red Cross in the Philippines has described the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan as "absolute bedlam".

Officials estimate up to 10,000 people have died in Tacloban city and elsewhere. Hundreds of thousands of people are displaced.

Rescue efforts are being hindered by damage to roads and airports.

Read it all.

Filed under: * General InterestNatural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc.* International News & CommentaryAsiaPhilippines

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Posted November 11, 2013 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The first day of the British royals' visit to Mumbai was marked by gaiety, the second by solemnity. On Sunday, Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, attended Remembrance Day service for martyred soldiers at the Anglican Afghan Church in Colaba.

The prince's mother Queen Elizabeth is the supreme governor of the Church of England which is Anglican.

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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndiaEngland / UK

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Posted November 10, 2013 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Consider giving to local church organizations in the Philippines that are capable of handling donations and capable of empowering local churches, such as the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches or Philippine Relief and Development Services.

Affiliating with international aid organizations that have established relationships and resources (such as the Micah Network, Integral Alliance, World Relief, World Vision, and Samaritan's Purse) is another way you can ensure you will help rather than hurt.

Overall, our research has found that one of the most effective ways to help after a disaster is to make financial contributions to recognized aid organizations. Financial contributions make sure that the right assistance is available at the right time.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchCharities/Non-Profit Organizations* General InterestNatural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc.* International News & CommentaryAsiaPhilippines

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Posted November 9, 2013 at 3:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The dean of St John's Cathedral must curb plagiarism by its preachers by setting up strict guidelines and a committee to investigate the practice, a Baptist University academic says.

The call from Chan Sze-chi, a senior lecturer in the school's religion and philosophy department, comes amid new evidence of plagiarism by several senior priests at the Anglican cathedral and its affiliate, Emmanuel Church, in Pok Fu Lam.

Reverend John Chynchen delivered a sermon at St John's Cathedral in August that was written by an American pastor in 2004 and published on a website called Sermons That Work.

Read it all and for those interested the website for the Cathedral in Hong Kong is there.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 2, 2013 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Archbishop Justin Welby hailed the church’s ‘pioneering’ work with refugees and migrants, which he said offered ‘leadership to the whole Anglican Communion’.

He was spending two days in Hong Kong at the start of a 10-day visit to Anglican Primates in the region, which will also include Japan and Korea.

The Archbishop is visiting every Primate in the Anglican Communion during his first 18 months in office, so that he can get to know each of them in their local context, personally and professionally, in order to foster friendship and mutual understanding.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* International News & CommentaryAsia

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Posted October 29, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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