Posted by Kendall Harmon

In an act of extraordinary heroism, a parish warden stopped an Islamist terrorist from detonating a bomb during Sunday worship at Christ Church Youhanabad near Lahore, Pakistan. Fifteen people were murdered during twin attacks on Christ Church and the neighboring St John’s Catholic Church on 15 March 2015, but the heroism of Zahid Yousaf Goga (pictured with his wife, Akash and three children) prevented further bloodshed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted March 29, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a statement released today Church of England's Chief Education Officer Revd Nigel Genders has expressed support for the launch of a new RE teacher recruitment campaign, Beyond the Ordinary is aimed at encouraging new RE teachers who can now access re-instated Government bursary funding.

"I'm delighted to support the Beyond the Ordinary campaign, which highlights the benefits of a career in RE teaching, a career that is far from ordinary. As an RE teacher you'll address topics that go way beyond the everyday, challenging perceptions and exploding stereotypes. You'll embark on a career that will continue to evolve and inspire you as well as the young people you teach. And the government is offering financial incentives to cover training costs, so now is a great time to explore more about this wonderful vocation. You can find out more and direct anyone who is looking for more information about training to be a RE teacher to http://www.teachre.co.uk/beyondtheordinary."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchChildrenEducationReligion & Culture

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Posted March 28, 2015 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Stunningly, Mr Putnam finds that family background is a better predictor of whether or not a child will graduate from university than 8th-grade test scores. Kids in the richest quarter with low test scores are as likely to make it through college as kids in the poorest quarter with high scores....

There are no obvious villains in this story. Mr Murray suggested that the educated classes preach the values they practise by urging the poor to get married before they have children. But the record of those who tell other people how to arrange their love lives is hardly encouraging. Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama preached the virtues of responsible fatherhood, to no obvious effect.

Mr Putnam sees “no clear path to reviving marriage” among the poor. Instead, he suggests a grab-bag of policies to help poor kids reach their potential, such as raising subsidies for poor families, teaching them better parenting skills, improving nursery care and making after-school baseball clubs free. He urges all 50 states to experiment to find out what works. A problem this complex has no simple solution.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksChildrenEducationMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSociology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 27, 2015 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is doubtless crucial for the Church of England to reconsider its form and presentation, but it cannot do this until it has established what its essential core actually is, and made every effort to communicate and inspire the next generation to its identity. Unfortunately, many of the panellists remained so unified on their desire for radical change, that the real debate about what this core might actually be rarely reared its head. So is there something about the church’s liturgy and worship, its structure and communion, its history and heritage that remains important? If so, is the radical task not to discard these in the name of modernisation, but to excite those to whom they appear foreign? Several times during the proceedings, the discrepancy between the beliefs and opinions of the clergy and those of the laity were noted—evidence again of a church that is lost to its academics and fatally disjointed from its people. But is the radical task, therefore, to give the church up to the people, or to inspire those same people about the riches, dynamism, and truthfulness of the doctrines and Scriptures that lie behind it?

As the church considers its future, one thing is certain: it must not fight for its own survival. Perhaps it will have the strength to realise that there is, actually, nothing distinctive about it that truly needs preserving amongst the denominations, and will show the greatest sacrifice for others by facilitating its own demise. Or, perhaps, it will understand that there is something about the Church of England as the Church of England that is important—something that is not worth fighting for in itself, but which is so crucial to its illuminating truth, so essential to its gospel message, and so intuitive to its mission, that it becomes the foundation of its fighting “for others.” But have we given up on this task? Doubtless reform is needed. But what is the core on which it must be founded? Are we so clear on our own ideas of what needs changing that we can no longer see what doesn’t? Perhaps we still need to ask: What does the Church of England offer the next generation?

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureTeens / YouthYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted March 26, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[James] Eversull's parents were determined to help him. The family drove almost 400 miles from their home in Louisiana to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.

St. Jude was named after the patron saint of lost causes for a reason.

"These children were often turned away," said Dr. Donald Pinkel about his years as a young doctor in the 1950s. He went on to become the first medical director at St. Jude. "A lot of physicians just didn't want to handle this situation — it was so sad."

Read or listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineHistoryMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted March 24, 2015 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For middle-class Americans, it’s never been easier to feel consumed by consumption. Despite the recession, despite a brief interlude when savings rates shot up and credit-card debt went down, Americans arguably have more stuff now than any society in history. Children in the U.S. make up 3.1% of the world’s kid population, but U.S. families buy more than 40% of the toys purchased globally. The rise of wholesalers and warehouse supermarkets has packed our pantries and refrigerators with bulk items that often overflow into a second fridge. One-click shopping and same-day delivery have driven purchasing to another level altogether, making conspicuous consumption almost too easy.

Our stuff has taken over. Most household moves outside the U.S. weigh from 2,500 lb. to 7,500 lb. (1,110 kg to 3,400 kg). The average weight of a move in the U.S. is 8,000 lb. (3,600 kg), the weight of a fully grown hippo. An entire industry has emerged to house our extra belongings–self-storage, a $24 billion business so large that every American could fit inside its units simultaneously.

It would be one thing if all our possessions were making us happier, but the opposite seems to be occurring. At least one study shows that a home with too much stuff can actually lead to higher levels of anxiety. “These objects that we bring in the house are not inert,” says UCLA anthropologist Elinor Ochs, who led a decade-long study on hyperacquisition. “They have consequences.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 24, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was midnight when Babagana crept out of the Boko Haram hideout that had been his home for three days. Once he made his escape, he walked through the forest for hours before he found help. Like the other boys conscripted by the militants, he had been told that he would be hunted down and killed if he deserted.

“I didn’t leave with anything,” Babagana told me. “When the chance came to escape, I only had my pants on. I ran almost naked.”

Babagana was just 16 when militants invaded his town in northeastern Nigeria last May, butchering his parents as he watched, burning down his home, and forcing him to become one of thousands of Boko Haram soldiers.

Babagana still vividly recalls his involuntary induction into a world of misery. Boko Haram militants invaded the rural town of Gamboru in Borno State, burnt down houses and demanded that the local children be handed over to them. Parents who objected were killed, and a couple of children were forcefully taken.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted March 23, 2015 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Shaughnessys celebrate Christmas, Harry says, for some of the same reasons other people do: "Because it's a great time to get together, care for each other and have a party."

"And who doesn't want a tree with pretty lights in their house?" Charlotte chimes in.

Since they aren't Christian anymore, the Shaughnessys shape their own holiday traditions. One year, they stretched Christmas across a week, with celebrations leading up to December 25. "That sounds so Jewish now," Harry jokes. It was anticlimactic, Grace says. When Christmas came, they had nothing left to give, nowhere to go. The ritual was not repeated.

But the Flying Spaghetti Monster stuck.

The Church of the FSM, as "Pastafarians" call it, is a faux religion founded in 2005 to satirize creationism. It has since become a symbol for everything atheists find silly and superstitious about faith.

Read it all.

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

2 Comments
Posted March 23, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I am not neutral. I agree with Dolce and Gabbana. Elton John is wrong. This is not to insult his children or take away from their humanity; nor is it to demean the character of men who love men everywhere. I am just as queer as both of these men. I have been out as bisexual since 1989 and have withstood a great deal of hostility from both the LGBT community and conservative Christians for refusing to use the label “ex-gay” to describe myself.

I also grew up with a lesbian couple without much connection to my father. In the process of writing my most recent book, Jephthah’s Daughters, I dealt with countless testimonials from children of same-sex couples all over the world. Stefano Gabbana gets us. Part of this is because his craft leads him outside of language to the ineffable world of instinct.

You can tell a child in such a home every day, “we are your fathers,” but our bodies and the rest of the visual environment around us will always reveal such words as false. The day-to-day rhythm of life, that quotidian routine that Gabbana must understand for his art but which Elton John does not have to, acts upon the language of same-sex parenting like a trickle of water wearing down a rock. With each day, in all the small gestures and emotional moments, the child puts together a picture of herself in the world and eventually realizes that the same-sex parents have created a world that is . . . what can we call it? Let’s use the language of theater critics: Contrived. Forced. Implausible.

Synthetic.

Read it all from First Things.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPsychologySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted March 23, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In an era of revisionist fairytales such as Frozen and Maleficent, it might be a surprise to find that Branagh’s take on the story of Cinders and her glass slipper is determinedly traditionalist. “I don’t find myself so exercised by a desperation to be new,” he says, pointing out that when you mix a fresh cast with costumes and production design by, respectively, triple Oscar-winners Sandy Powell and Dante Ferretti, “all of these things create a new energy”.

And while the Charles Perrault fairytale has already been immortalised on screen by Disney’s own 1950 animated feature, taking it on held no fear for Branagh, given his experience in re-interpreting Shakespeare. “I choose to be inspired by things that have been done well in the past,” he says. “So, I don’t worry about being compared, because I think that does paralyse you.”

Read it all from the Independent.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMovies & Television* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted March 21, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On the one hand, scientists are excited about these techniques because they may let them do good things, such as discovering important principles about biology. It might even lead to cures for diseases.

The big worry is that CRISPR and other techniques will be used to perform germline genetic modification.

Basically, that means making genetic changes in a human egg, sperm or embryo.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 21, 2015 at 2:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"Matthew was crazy about theology, a total idealist about studying theology. … But he wanted to learn history and philosophy and art and everything else," said Pentiuc. "I don't know anyone else who read so much and absorbed so much, so soon. It was going to take him 10 or 15 years to fully synthesize what he knew and to find his mature voice."

Friends joked that they could say "Go!" and challenge Baker to connect random subjects – such as "Duran Duran," a rock band, "GMOs," a genetics term, and "Apollinarianism," a 4th Century heresy – and "he would come up with authentically deep links between them," said Damick.

It's easy to imagine three or more books emerging from existing lectures, papers and research by Baker, noted Damick. But all the books and academic tributes in the world cannot answer the ultimate questions being asked by loved ones and friends mourning this loss.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOrthodox Church

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Posted March 21, 2015 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On her first morning in America, last summer, my daughter went out to explore her new neighborhood — alone, without even telling my wife or me.

Of course we were worried; we had just moved from Berlin, and she was just 8. But when she came home, we realized we had no reason to panic. Beaming with pride, she told us and her older sister how she had discovered the little park around the corner, and had made friends with a few local dog owners. She had taken possession of her new environment, and was keen to teach us things we didn’t know.

When this story comes up in conversations with American friends, we are usually met with polite disbelief. Most are horrified by the idea that their children might roam around without adult supervision. In Berlin, where we lived in the center of town, our girls would ride the Metro on their own — a no-no in Washington. Or they’d go alone to the playground, or walk a mile to a piano lesson. Here in quiet and traffic-safe suburban Washington, they don’t even find other kids on the street to play with. On Halloween, when everybody was out to trick or treat, we were surprised by how many children actually lived here whom we had never seen.

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

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Posted March 20, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Anglican Church is quietly preparing for a hearing that could see the defrocking of one of its former bishops, five months after the royal commission recommended he face disciplinary action for ignoring complaints from sexual abuse victims.

Keith Slater, whose title remains the Right Reverend, was forced to resign as the Grafton Bishop in 2013 for the way he handled abuse claims from a group of 40 people.

They were men and women who had been sexually, physically and or psychologically abused at the North Coast Children's Home in Lismore between the 1940s and the 1980s.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesSexualityViolence* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted March 19, 2015 at 3:41 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Marriage is an inherently public institution designed to recognize and protect natural families, she says—not a “government registry of friendships.” Privatizing wouldn’t get the government out of the marriage business. By removing the presumption of biological parentage, courts would be full of custody battles between unrelated individuals, friends, gamete donors, and whoever else claims parentage. And children would suffer.

That’s isn’t a solution. It creates more problems than it solves.

Read and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted March 19, 2015 at 2:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nothing falls outside God’s creative and redeeming purposes, which include our being created male and female, the complementarity and fruitfulness built into our being created male and female, and the permanence of marriage, which is a sign of God’s own covenant fidelity. God is a communion of loving Persons; thus married love, St. John Paul II taught, is an icon of the interior life of the Holy Trinity. God keeps his promises; thus the promise-keepers among us who live the covenant of marriage bear witness to that divine promise-keeping by their own fidelity.

In light of all this, the Christian idea of chastity comes into clearer focus. In the Catholic view of things, chastity is not a dreary string of prohibitions but a matter of loving-with-integrity: loving rather than “using;” loving another for himself or herself. The sexual temptations to which the Church says “No” are the implications of a higher, nobler, more compelling “Yes:” yes to the integrity of love, yes to love understood as the gift of oneself to another, yes to the family as the fruit of love, and yes to the family as the school where we first learn to love. “Yes” is the basic Catholic stance toward sexuality, marriage and the family. We should witness to that “Yes” with a joyful heart, recognizing that the example of joyful Catholic families is the best gift we can offer a world marked today by the glorification of self-absorption.

In a pontificate that has reminded us continuously of our responsibilities to the poor, for whom God has a special care, preparations for the World Meeting of Families are also an opportunity to remind our society that stable marriages and families are the most effective anti-poverty program in the world.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenGlobalizationMarriage & FamilyPovertyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 19, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Appallingly high infant mortality rates persist in eight South Carolina counties. Among the awful numbers that fully warrant the “Cradle of Shame” title of a Post and Courier series concluding in today’s paper:

On average, more than 200 newborns have died in those counties during each of the last three years.

Since 2000, 6,696 babies in South Carolina have died before their first birthday.

Eight of our state’s 46 counties lack an obstetrician.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted March 17, 2015 at 10:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some arguments are hard to settle but are too important to avoid. Here is one: whether the social crisis among America’s poor and working class — the collapse of the two-parent family, the weakening of communal ties — is best understood as a problem of economics or of culture.

This argument recurs whenever there’s a compelling depiction of that crisis. In 2012, the catalyst was Charles Murray’s “Coming Apart,” with its portrait of the post-1960s divide between two fictional communities — upper-class “Belmont” and blue-collar “Fishtown.” Now it’s Robert Putnam’s “Our Kids,” which uses the author’s Ohio hometown to trace the divergent fortunes of its better-educated and less-educated families.

Murray belongs to the libertarian right, Putnam to the communitarian left, so Putnam is more hopeful that economic policy can address the problems he describes. But “Our Kids” is attuned to culture’s feedback loops, and it offers grist for social conservatives who suspect it would take a cultural counterrevolution to bring back the stable working class families of an earlier America.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPoverty* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted March 16, 2015 at 2:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England's Chief Education Officer Nigel Genders has contributed to a book by education experts and commentators on selection in secondary schools which explores the complexity of the present system. He concludes that the solution to the extremely complex arrangements caused by parental choice in school admissions and the oversubscription criteria that schools use, is to not focus on admissions but rather on quality of provision.

Published today The Ins and Outs of Selective Secondary Education: A Debate, edited by Anastasia de Waal of Civitas is a wide-ranging collection of essays showing how the old divide between comprehensive and grammar schools has been supplanted by a range of much broader selection processes, across school types.

In his chapter Nigel Genders states: "In those early years (when the CofE was the first body to provide education for all), being able to access any education at all was the pressing concern, not the choice of school. The issue of admissions, as we define it today, was non-existent. It was only as universal provision was achieved that the question of which school a parent should choose for their children became such a significant matter. Schools operated with a catchment area, but the resulting rise in house prices around good schools meant that parental choice was more limited for those who could not afford to live there. However, the freeing up of the system and a greater expectation regarding parental choice of school has meant that the landscape has become increasingly difficult for many to navigate."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchChildrenEducationReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted March 16, 2015 at 1:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As our nation honours at this service all of you who served in Afghanistan – forces personnel and many others, alongside so many of other nations – I ask you to hear those same words today, reverberating around our land: great is your faithfulness. You know about faithfulness.

Today is a moment for us to say thank you: thank you to all who served, whatever your role.

We thank you for your faithfulness: you who left family behind, you who trained hard, you who did not turn from danger, you who suffered injury and you who risked yourselves to care for the injured. I’m told that each wounded person was supported by up to 80 others by the time they got home. Great is your faithfulness.

We also thank those of you who stayed behind, who let your loved ones go

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryWar in Afghanistan

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Posted March 16, 2015 at 1:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This past summer, our newborn son was rushed to a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit because of an unexpected problem with his lung. As we sat there seeing his rapid breathing, watching his oxygen levels rise and fall, and hearing alarms sound what seemed like every minute, our world was shaken. We were reminded of the fallen-ness of creation.

One of the only things that brought me comfort in those days was, oddly enough, the Creeds, with their reminder that God is the maker of heaven and earth. He was not unaware of what was going on with our son, or uncaring, or far removed; rather, He had created our son and was also working to re-create him in the process of healing. And in the meantime, we could run to Him and take refuge in Him as the only thing that remained steady and unchanged.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & Family* TheologyThe Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

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Posted March 15, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“These women,” she said, “had become a quiet, potent force for change. The white community didn’t want black children educated out of their place. Classrooms were spaces where the outside world did not intrude. Within these spaces, Miss Ruby nurtured dignity, self-awareness and obligation to God. She served as a light to others and worked against the mental and spiritual boundaries imposed by Jim Crow. She challenged the students to succeed and understand they were part of a larger world and develop independence and self-sufficiency. She did not call attention to herself while preparing generations of students for their futures.”

Miss Ruby achieved national recognition during her career. Life Magazine and “60 Minutes” featured her. She was a guest on NBC’s Today Show and on ABC’s Good Morning America. She also appeared on the Tonight Show with host Johnny Carson. She received four honorary degrees — from Winthrop, University of the South at Sewanee, the University of South Carolina and Coastal Carolina University.

When she was very ill, she was visited by her close friend, Bishop Fitz Allison, who was accompanied by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Allison said she was the perfect host. “I think he found as much dignity in that room as in Buckingham Palace,” Allison said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchChildrenEducationRace/Race Relations* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted March 13, 2015 at 2:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The idea that Catholics are being radicalised in state schools is "ridiculous" and "offensive", the Conservative MP for Gainsborough will say today during a parliamentary debate on education, regulation and faith schools.

Sir Edward Leigh, who is also the president of the Catholic Union of Great Britain, will say in a speech that "faith schools should hold their heads up high" and should stand for Christian values, according to fragments of his speech seen by the Telegraph.

"[Faith schools] should not engage in the pre-emptive cringe and kowtow to the latest fashion but should stand by the principles that have made them such a success: love for God and neighbour; pursuit of truth; high-aspiration and discipline," Sir Edward will say.

“The idea that Catholics are being radicalised in state schools is as ridiculous as it is offensive,” he will say.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

1 Comments
Posted March 12, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Just about everybody has one raging narcissist to deal with, sooner or later -- on the job, in social situations or (God forbid) in the home. How did he get this way, we wonder? What was his childhood like?

For what appears to be the first time, researchers have taken a stab at that question by following and surveying 565 children ages 7 through 11 and their parents -- 415 mothers and 290 fathers.

The results are quite clear: Parents who "overvalue" children during this developmental stage, telling them they are superior to others and entitled to special treatment, are more likely to produce narcissistic children -- who can grow up to become narcissistic adults, unless something is done about it.

Read it all.

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

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Posted March 11, 2015 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Memories of Boko Haram's murderous spree in his Nigerian hometown haunt Tom Gowon, 9, as he sits on a patch of grass at a refugee camp, sipping steaming porridge from a plastic mug.

"I was lucky because I was not killed," said Gowon, recalling the assault on Baga, Nigeria, in early January. "But they shot and killed my father. My mother was kidnapped by the militants."

Children such as Gowon bear the brunt of Boko Haram's rampage since its fighters kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls last year and conquered enough territory to declare a caliphate that covers one-fifth of Nigeria.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaChadNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 11, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A few years ago, I received in the mail an interfaith calendar along with a letter from Boston-area chaplains urging professors to be sensitive to students who might miss class to observe a holy day. I like to think I am as sensitive as the next guy, but this calendar was so chock full of holidays—including three different Christmases—that it was nearly impossible to find an “unholy” day.

There were birthdays to celebrate—for atheist Bertrand Russell, for scientologist L. Ron Hubbard and for the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie revered by Rastafarians. There were also death days and new years days and days of feasting and fasting. Was I really supposed to excuse Mormon students on Pioneer Day? And Baha’i students on the day of the ascension of their founder, Baha’u’llah?

This hyper-inclusive calendar came to mind when New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last week that the nation’s largest public-school system had decided to add two Islamic feast days, Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr, to its days off. Why stop there? Why not the winter solstice for Wiccans? Or Festivus for worshipers of Saint Seinfeld?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 10, 2015 at 5:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Faith schools, specialist provision for children with autism and a “dementia-friendly” primary in Devon are among the latest wave of free schools to be announced by David Cameron. More than 400 free schools have now been approved since the policy was launched in 2010, creating more than 230,000 places across the country.

A diverse list of 49 further new free schools, which are mainly due to open in September 2016, includes:

All-through schools, which combine primary and secondary education in single institutions, where a pupil can be enrolled at three or four – or even younger – and can stay on until 19.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchChildrenEducationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 10, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Father Matthew] Baker received theological degrees from St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Seminary in Pennsylvania and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School in Massachusetts. He also pursued doctoral studies in systematic theology at Fordham University in New York.

Following his ordination, he began teaching duties at Hellenic College/Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Mass., as an adjunct professor in theology.

He is survived by his wife and six children: Isaac, 12; Elias, 10, George, 8; Ellie, 6; Cyril, 4; and Matthew, 2.

You can read about it there and here. Also, there are many great links there.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & Family* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOrthodox Church* TheologyEschatology

0 Comments
Posted March 8, 2015 at 3:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Putnam then goes on to explain, through the lens of accumulated social-science research, how important parenting and family structure are to life outcomes for children. Early childhood stimulation, appropriate role models, stable expectations and family dinners are all part of the environment needed to produce upwardly mobile adults, and almost all are lacking today for Americans from less educated backgrounds. Many people overcome dysfunctional families, but it is far easier to do so with adequate resources. Economic inequality thus becomes self-reinforcing through the mechanism of absent families.

Putnam points out that while both gender and racial equality have greatly improved over this period, the gains have been completely offset by widening class differences. College-educated Americans have been pulling away from their high school-educated peers within subgroups such as African-Americans, Hispanics and women. There is today a substantial upwardly-mobile black middle class that, like its white counterpart, has moved to the suburbs and segregated itself from the poor.

Back in the 1980s, the debate over black poverty was polarised between liberals who blamed structural (ie economic) factors such as the decline in manufacturing jobs, and conservatives who denounced permissiveness and shifting cultural norms for the breakdown of families. Putnam makes very clear that both of these causes are at work in the present crisis. The huge erosion of middle-class jobs in countless manufacturing industries has led to a decline in real incomes of 22 per cent since 1980 for high-school dropouts, and 11 per cent for high-school graduates. But culture also matters: while rising joblessness produces social dysfunction in all societies, the stresses of the Great Depression did not lead to an explosion of single-parent families because of cultural norms then in place, such as the stigmatisation of unwed parenthood and shotgun weddings. Conservatives who see family breakdown as a simple matter of cultural decay, however, have to explain the emergence of “helicopter parents” and steadily strengthening family bonds among the college-educated.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyPoverty* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinancePolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 8, 2015 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In January, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the euphemistically titled “Human Rights Amendment Act.” The bill would compel Washington’s private religious schools to violate their beliefs about human sexuality by recognizing LGBT student groups or hosting a “gay pride” day on campus. The bill is currently under congressional review.

Provided private schools meet basic standards of safety and education, the government shouldn’t be in the business of coercing them to conform to someone else’s moral beliefs. After all, many families send their children to private schools precisely to escape government moral indoctrination. It is because of these schools’ distinctive creeds that families sacrifice to afford sending their children to private religious schools. Government officials should respect the ability of such schools to witness to their faith.

This is why public policy should protect Archbishop Cordileone’s decision to ensure that Catholic high schools retain an authentic Catholic identity. The revisions to the school handbook foster an equilibrium between institutional integrity and personal liberties. This freedom is exactly what allows all Americans—in whichever school they choose to attend—to live in a diverse and civil public sphere.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 6, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Would you pretend to be Jewish to secure some sort of advantage for yourself? Would you go even further, attending synagogue once a week for a full year, mouthing the ancient prayers, in order to get what you want?

You might think that such behaviour would be an insult to real Jews in the community.

This prompts the question: why is it socially acceptable for atheists and agnostics to feign their commitment to the Anglican faith to get their kids into a good state school? The answer is that the Church encourages them to do so. This kind of strategic middle-class church attendance produces high-achieving schools and swells congregations in many parishes. It suits the Church and it suits the sharp-elbowed – a formidable alliance. The practice seems particularly widespread in London, where it is standard behaviour among well-heeled, well-informed parents. It’s an unwritten rule of middle-class family life.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchChildrenEducationMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

5 Comments
Posted March 6, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many people change faiths, but not like Brad and Chad Jones.

Identical twins, the brothers grew up in Elkin, N.C., a small town in the Bible Belt, the only children of devout Baptists. As boys, they attended the First Baptist Church of Elkin, studied Scripture, went to vacation Bible school and sang in the choir, as did many of their cousins, classmates and neighbors.

Today, Brad, 43, is a Roman Catholic priest in the Diocese of Charlotte, and Chad is an Anglican bishop in Atlanta. Their parents, Jo Anne and Robert, remain faithful members of their Baptist congregation. When their sons visit, each celebrates mass according to his own rite in the dining room or living room of what has become a very ecumenical Jones household.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropology

4 Comments
Posted March 5, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

World War II veteran Erling Kindem found a best bud in his 4-year-old next-door neighbor, Emmett Rychner. But after the unlikely pair enjoyed countless hours of lawn mower races, croquet matches and gardening, Emmett's parents made the difficult decision last year to move from their suburban home south of Minneapolis to a new house in the country.

The distance became even harder to bear as Kindem planned to move with his ailing wife to a retirement community about 30 miles away. "It was good while it lasted," Kindem told NBC affiliate KARE last September. His voice cracked as he reasoned that he would someday see his friend again: "It isn't over."

On Sunday, they were reunited.

Read it all and watch the whole video report.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenPsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 4, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nigeria’s bishops have condemned Boko Haram’s use of children to commit suicide bombings.

“We deplore the fact that young children are used to commit such crimes, and the fact that young Nigerians are used by politicians to intimidate and inflict violence on their political opponents is a disturbing symptom of breakdown of family values in our society,” the bishops said at the end of a five-day meeting on the theme, ‘Good Families Make Good Nations’.

“We wonder: Who are the parents of these young Nigerians? Do these young ones not belong to families?” it said.

It said that many families were currently facing challenges caused by the Boko Haram insurgency and the heightened tension occasioned by the coming general elections, now scheduled for March 28 and April 11.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 4, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the list of things we’re not supposed to do anymore gets longer all the time. I recently encountered an article headlined:

IS YOUR HANDSHAKE AS DANGEROUS AS SMOKING?

The answer, in case you are a complete idiot, is: Of course your handshake is as dangerous as smoking. The article explains that handshakes transmit germs, which cause diseases such as MERS. MERS stands for “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome,” a fatal disease that may have originated in camels. This is yet another argument, as if we needed one, against shaking hands with camels. But the article suggests that we should consider not shaking hands with anybody.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychology* General InterestHumor / Trivia* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted March 1, 2015 at 2:54 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Children who sing in a choir, play in an orchestra or take to the stage are more likely to make good moral choices than their fellow classmates, a study has concluded.

But contrary to belief that sport promotes ideas of fair play and team spirit, the research concluded that playing games does nothing to strengthen people’s moral fibre.

Meanwhile those who go to church or other religious observances regularly emerged more likely to fare better in the face of moral dilemmas than their peers who do not.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenMusicReligion & CultureTeens / YouthTheatre/Drama/Plays* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 1, 2015 at 12:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Primate of Australia, Archbishop Philip Freier of Melbourne, and Archbishop Jeffrey Driver of Adelaide are concerned about the effect the changes will have on children and families.

The proposed changes would bring forward by 90 minutes to 7.30pm mature-aged material including violence, sexual content and advertising for alcohol, gambling and M-rated movies. PG-rated material would also be allowed across all channels all day.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 1, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all and follow all the links.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 28, 2015 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I fear I will be in trouble once again with some people in the church as I find myself, in conscience, having to go against the line that the churches are taking on so-called three-parent families.

I am, to be clear, firmly in favour despite the opposition shown by some of my colleagues and a powerful lobby of critics from abroad.

A Bill passed by the House of Commons earlier this month will allow for a procedure in which a small proportion of a third person's DNA is used to create an embroyo in order to prevent potentially fatal genetic disorders. Scientists have found techniques to replace faulty mitochondrial DNA - mitrochondria are microscopic energy creating structures in the human cell - with donated DNA, and Britain is set to be the first country to endorse the practice.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 28, 2015 at 2:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two notable differences in family life in the United States have emerged in the past 60 years: average, middle-class families aren’t economically flourishing and there are fewer traditional family units than ever before. Lerman, now a professor of economics at American University and a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, says these two factors are linked. Changes in family structures have sabotaged the financial confidence of middle-class Americans and led to the decline of working-class men in the labor market, say Lerman and Bradford Wilcox in their 2014 paper for the American Enterprise Institute, “For richer, for poorer: How family structures economic success in America.”

The erosion of the intact family — as defined by Lerman and Wilcox as a retreat in marriage, an increase in cohabitation and out-of-wedlock births, a prevalence of single-parent homes, and a rise in step-families — has affected the economic outcomes of children and thus led to further income inequality between American families.

“Young men and women from intact families enjoy an annual ‘intact-family premium’ that amounts to $6,500 and $4,700, respectively, over the incomes of their peers from single-parent families,” wrote Lerman and Wilcox. “Men and women who are currently married and were raised in an intact family enjoy an annual 'family premium' in their household incomes that exceeds that of their unmarried peers who were not raised in intact families by at least $42,000.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinancePolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 26, 2015 at 6:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The number of words we can’t use without offending is ever growing, and if the supporters of the right-to-die movement have their way, it will stretch yet again to include the word “suicide.” At least when that suicide is the result of a dying patient taking a lethal dose of drugs to avoid impending mental and physical anguish.

It’s insensitive at best to use the “S” word in this context, I’ve been informed by several advocates, because people would not be choosing this option because of a psychiatric disorder or despair over life. They don’t want to die; their diseases have forced that on them. Senate Bill 128, legislation recently introduced in California to allow physicians to write lethal prescriptions under tightly controlled circumstances, not only refrains from calling this suicide but would not allow death certificates to reflect how the death occurred.

“The cause of death listed on an individual’s death certificate who uses aid-in-dying medication shall be the underlying terminal illness,” it reads.

In other words, it wouldn't mention the legal drugs that actually caused the death. The public should have a problem with that.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & Family* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 24, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Elder care is also often done for low wages by new or undocumented immigrants. Will that change?

Manufacturing in the ’20s and ’30s was sweatshop work, largely done by new immigrants. We turned factory work into good jobs with pathways to opportunities. That professionalization was the basis for 20th century prosperity. That’s what the care workforce needs to be. These have the potential to be really good jobs.

You compare investing in home-care workers to investing in railways or the Internet. But aren’t those about growth, not dying?

For working-age adults right now, especially with what they call the sandwich generation–people who are caring for children and aging parents–this is having an impact on their productivity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyMiddle AgePsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 23, 2015 at 3:56 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

West Ashley High student Christian Bohn shouted words of encouragement as his classmate James Williams guided an underwater robot — weighted down with a wobbly peg — across a slotted box at the bottom of the pool.

“You got it, you got it!” Bohn exclaimed, as Williams plopped the peg into a tiny hole.

The West Ashley seniors were among more than 50 middle and high school students from six Charleston and Dorchester county schools who competed Thursday in the Charleston Regional SeaPerch Competition at Danny Jones Pool in North Charleston. Students battled it out for a chance to compete in the 2015 SeaPerch National Challenge in May at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenScience & Technology* South Carolina

0 Comments
Posted February 23, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Our world-wide flight from family constitutes a significant international victory for self-actualization over self-sacrifice, and might even be said to mark a new chapter in humanity’s conscious pursuit of happiness. But these voluntary changes also have unintended consequences. The deleterious impact on the hardly inconsequential numbers of children disadvantaged by the flight from the family is already plain enough. So too the damaging role of divorce and out-of-wedlock childbearing in exacerbating income disparities and wealth gaps—for society as a whole, but especially for children. Yes, children are resilient and all that. But the flight from family most assuredly comes at the expense of the vulnerable young.

That same flight also has unforgiving implications for the vulnerable old. With America’s baby boomers reaching retirement, and a world-wide “gray wave” around the corner, we are about to learn the meaning of those implications firsthand.

In the decades ahead, ever more care and support for seniors will be required, especially for the growing contingent among the elderly who will be victims of dementia, or are childless and socially isolated. Remember, a longevity revolution is also under way. Yet by some cruel cosmic irony, family structures and family members will be less capable, and perhaps also less willing, to provide that care and support than ever before.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenGlobalizationMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 22, 2015 at 12:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On the eve of Chinese New Year, photos of a father and daughter traveling to see her grandparents have gone viral – picked up by dozens of blogs and media outlets worldwide.

Seen waiting together in Beijing Capital International Airport, Chen Yen has handcuffed himself to his little girl to ensure she is not kidnapped for use as a future bride.

“I saw a warning by police on the TV to take care as traffickers and pickpockets would be out stealing in the holiday rush,” said Mr. Chen according to reporting by The Daily Mail. “I don’t care about pickpockets, but I do care very much about losing my daughter.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyWomen* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted February 21, 2015 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Q1. In which battle did Napoleon die?
* his last battle

Q2. Where was the Declaration of Independence signed?
* at the bottom of the page

Q3. River Ravi flows in which state?
* liquid

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducation* General InterestHumor / Trivia

0 Comments
Posted February 21, 2015 at 1:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Treyvon’s case is emblematic of a quiet revolution in juvenile justice sweeping across the country. Driven by the high cost of incarceration and a growing understanding of adolescent behaviors, states and localities are launching initiatives to provide counseling, drug treatment, and other support for young offenders rather than locking them up. The idea is to save money – and try to keep them from committing more crimes by addressing their problems at the roots.

Lucas County, which includes Toledo, is one of the leaders in this movement. Juvenile Court officials here do the “my kid” test with every case. They want to ensure all young people are being treated fairly, and they live by the mantra “The right kid in the right place at the right time” – targeting services to their needs and taking care not to mix children who are unlikely to commit more crimes with high-risk youths.

But they also rely on research instead of just gut instinct. When it comes to deciding whether to lock up arrested youths – while awaiting a hearing or even after they’ve been judged to have done something wrong – they use standardized risk assessments.

As alternatives to lockup, they’ve built a “continuum of care” – various treatment options and levels of court monitoring – so most children can stay connected to family members, school staff, and community groups while reforming their ways.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireMarriage & FamilyRural/Town LifeUrban/City Life and Issues* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted February 17, 2015 at 3:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The divorcing couple invited 50 people to the ceremony, which was followed by a wine and cheese reception. They spoke about the hopes they had when they first married and how they still cared for and respected each other. Then they burned a copy of their marriage certificate in a glass bowl using the candle they had lit at their wedding. Guests were invited to contribute a flower to a special “bouquet of love and affection.” At the end of the 45-minute service, the parting couple gave their weddings rings back to each other. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

If the idea of spouses dissolving their marriage in such a loving way sounds radically enlightened, well, even Meighan admits to a twinge of divorce-ceremony envy. When she split from her first husband more than 20 years ago, “there was too much pain” to formally mark their parting, she says. “But when I did that ceremony, I saw what a powerful healing process it could be.”

Forty percent of Canadian marriages end in divorce. Those who go through it commonly describe the experience as one of the most painful of their lives. Yet there are few established rituals that offer the emotional and spiritual closure couples often need. Some argue that marriages start with ceremony and should end the same way — that marking this significant life event can help prevent adversarial and costly court proceedings, reduce the emotional impact on children and allow the couple to move on. Separation rites can also help church communities when they find themselves caught in the middle of a marriage falling apart.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted February 15, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Anglicans gathered with other faith leaders in London to set recommendations for how faith communities can work collaboratively, together with governments and national and international stakeholders, to end sexual violence in conflict. The two day inter-faith consultation was convened by the We Will Speak Out coalition and UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office – see our coverage of the meeting here.

The Anglicans taking part in the meeting were: Mathilde Nkwirikiye (Anglican Church of Burundi), Archbishop Henri Isingoma (Anglican Church of Congo), Revd Joseph Bilal (Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan), Vijula Arulanantham (Church of Ceylon), Archbishop Francisco de Assis da Silva (Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil), Bishop Margaret Vertue (Anglican Church of Southern Africa), Bishop Ellinah Ntfombi Wamukoya (Anglican Church of Southern Africa), Bishop Christopher Cocksworth (Church of England) and Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin (Church of England).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologySexualityViolence* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 13, 2015 at 5:54 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A new baptism service without mention of the devil was debated by members of the Church of England General Synod today

The synod, which sent the texts through to the next stage of the authorisation process, heard that the new texts are needed because the world has changed so much, even in the last 15 years.

Parents are turning up to have children baptised who have lost the language of Church, if they ever had it in the first place.

Read it all.

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

1 Comments
Posted February 13, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As we ponder this momentous ruling of our nation’s highest court, let us pray that the gifts of the Holy Spirit will guide all of us in our response: Above all, that the gifts of wisdom, right judgment and courage will flourish among us.

Moreover, we cannot fail to proclaim the gospel of life with both vigor and joy: that every life has an inherent God-given dignity from the moment of conception until life’s natural end. And let the words of St. Paul we heard in today’s second reading ring out in our minds and hearts: “If I proclaim the Gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the Gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16).

The mission ahead of us is not committed only to a few. Rather, it is mine; it is yours; it is ours.

With God’s help, which he offers in this Eucharist, may we fulfill this obligation to proclaim the Gospel for the welfare of all our brothers and sisters.

Read it all.

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

2 Comments
Posted February 11, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In 2015, 34% of Americans say they are satisfied with current U.S. abortion policies. This is the lowest percentage since Gallup first asked the question in 2001.

In three of four years since 2012, less than 40% of Americans have been satisfied. Yet between 2001 and 2008, at least 40% were satisfied every year. Gallup asks Americans about their satisfaction with the nation's policies regarding abortion as part of the annual Mood of the Nation Poll, conducted in January. The poll was not conducted from 2009-2011. Between 2001 and 2008, an average of 43% of Americans were satisfied with U.S. abortion policies; since 2012, the average has been 39%.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted February 10, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...Mr McKillop stresses that credit unions are only an alternative to payday lenders, not a competitor. “The model of very short-term lending is not good as a form of financial help. So though many credit unions can make instant loans, they will look at your finances and see if this is a one-off, a way for you to get back on top of your money.”

Last June, Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, launched a scheme to promote credit unions in churches and train volunteers to give financial advice. Martin Groombridge, chief executive of London Capital Credit Union, said it “definitely raised our profile”. Piloted in London and Liverpool, the scheme is set to be introduced around the UK in about a year, potentially marketing credit unions to hundreds of thousands more people.

The Rev Paul Collier, vicar at Copleston church and community centre in Peckham, south London, said debt and payday loans came up as a big concern in his conversations with local organisations, schools and other faith communities. “The older members of our congregation were educated by their parents to avoid debt at all costs, but many have seen their children getting into deep trouble,” he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 9, 2015 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Loneliness and isolation are England’s most widespread social problems and are common even in affluent middle class areas, according to a survey of vicars.

The number of clergy reporting that social isolation is a major problem in their area has risen by ten per cent in the past three years.

The survey published by the Church Urban Fund and the Church of England showed loneliness was the only issue to be cited by clergy as a significant problem in the majority of wealthier, as well as deprived areas.

Social isolation was listed as a more common problem than unemployment, homelessness and poor housing by the 1,812 clergy who completed the questionnaire.

Read it all from the Telegraph.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 9, 2015 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The procedure is not yet allowed anywhere else in the world, partly because it is new and untested in people but also because of the opposition that reproductive medicine often inspires. Mitochondria contain DNA, therefore any child born as a result of such intervention will inherit genes from three people—hence the headlines in Britain this week about “three-parent babies”. If the baby is a girl the genetic tweak in her mitochondria will be inherited by her children, and in turn by her granddaughters’ children. It is a “germ-line modification”, and thus irrevocable.

This ethical objection to mitochondrial donation is decisively outweighed by the good that ought to come from it. Mitochondrial disease is a misery to those who have it and a terror to those who fear they might pass it on to their children; curtailing it would be wonderful. The complaint that this is the first step on the road to “designer babies” is as weak as any other slippery-slope argument: approving one procedure does not mean automatically approving others.

A second objection is that this procedure, like any new technique, might not be safe. Those who must bear that risk are not yet born, and so cannot consent to the treatment. But parents already make medical decisions on behalf of their children, even unborn ones....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 9, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

FAW: After deployment in Afghanistan, Navy reservist Witherspoon ended up living with her mother and felt, she says, like “damaged goods.”

WITHERSPOON: How did I become homeless? Like where do I begin to look? How do I pick up these pieces, because at that point I felt broken, like somebody just pushed me down, and I just fell apart.

FAW: Deployed abroad twice, Army reservist Chiquita Pena, whose husband was also abroad, was jobless and needed a place to live with her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Nayeli. Final Salute got her back on her feet.

PENA: We stereotype homelessness with, you know, for lack of a better term, a hobo or bum or someone who’s a wino or drinking on the street. This is the new face of homelessness.

Read or watch it all.

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

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Posted February 9, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Over the past decade, seminaries of all types have witnessed declining enrollments, especially in M.Div.

programs, the primary degree for those heading into parish ministry. Minority enrollment has shown a steady increase, with Hispanic enrollment leading the way (at a growth rate of 50 percent), but the overall trend is down. The slight growth in advanced degree programs (S.T.D., Ph.D., and Th.D.) and some master’s degree programs has also not compensated for the steady decline in enrollment for the M.Div. degree.

Distance education courses grew more than 100 percent over the decade, but enrollment at seminary extension centers began to decrease. It may be that distance education is pulling students away from extension centers. Time will tell if there is any net gain.

The past decade was difficult financially for most theological schools. Church support declined 24 percent from its high in 2006. Individual gifts grew steadily until 2008 but dropped sharply when the recession hit.

One way that schools compensate for this loss of income is to become more dependent on student tuition, and indeed tuition and fees rose steadily over the decade—by as much as 68 percent...

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedStewardship* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"Who's influenced you the most in your life?" "My principal, Ms. Lopez." "How has she influenced you?" "When we get in trouble, she doesn't suspend us. She calls us to her office and explains to us how society was built down around us. And she tells us that each time somebody fails out of school, a new jail cell gets built. And one time she made every student stand up, one at a time, and she told each one of us that we matter." - Vidal Chastanet

When Chastanet, a 13-year-old from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Brownsville, shared his story in late January with a street photographer who has a popular blog on Facebook, little did he know it would generate a million-dollar fundraising campaign to help his middle school offer inspiring programs to its pupils.

After Brandon Stanton featured Chastanet on his photoblog, "Humans Of New York," the photographer wanted to know more and asked to meet Nadia Lopez, Chastanet's principal at Mott Hill Bridges Academy.

From their meeting, Stanton began profiling the school, its students and staff as he raised funds online to provide a financial boost to the academy's mission. That included helping Lopez fulfill a dream of bringing her students to Harvard.

Read (or better watch) it all from NBC.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingChildrenEducation* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted February 5, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The trend toward bland neutrality is ensured by a process called “bias and sensitivity review.” Testing companies submit each passage and question to anti-­discrimination inspection. States have guidelines on what is and isn’t permitted. Expert reviewers ask, “Does this scene from Hemingway have sexist language that annoys females? Does that question about the Mexican-American War assume something about geography that gives students from the southwest a leg up?”

They spot topics, wording, stereo­types, and assumptions that the most nit-picking critic might flag. The bare chance of inequity moves them to drop a questionable item. From past experience, experts have learned not to take risks. Ten years ago, Diane Ravitch in The Language Police identified pressure groups eager to pounce on a biased test and an offensive book, too. She recounts how one editor told a children’s author whose story had been anthologized but only after every citation of Jews, God, and the Bible had been scrubbed, “Try to understand. We have a lot of problems. If we mention God, some atheist will object. If we mention the Bible, someone will want to know why we don’t give equal time to the Koran. Every time that happens, we lose sales.”

For the tests, educators reason that it is best to avoid certain things outright. The California Department of Education high school exit exam has a long list of excluded topics, ­including:

Dying, death, disease, hunger, famine
Junk food
Divorce
Rats, roaches, lice, spiders
Sex
Religion

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksChildrenEducation* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted February 3, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

MPs have an important free vote in the House of Commons today on the divisive issue of mitochondrial donation, which would allow the creation of IVF babies with DNA from three different people.

The MPs have come under enormous pressure from scientists and charities to support the historic and controversial amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act.

Britain will become the first country ever to allow the procedures if MPs vote yes. The amendment is aimed at preventing serious or deadly genetic disease being passed on to the child.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 3, 2015 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

California legislators have introduced assisted suicide legislation modeled on Oregon's assisted suicide law, energized by the heartbreaking story of Brittany Maynard, a young woman with brain cancer, who moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to Oregon to end her own life Nov. 1.

Before her suicide, Maynard, 29, created videos asking for assisted suicide legislation that drew tens of millions of views, and her mother and husband are now campaigning for legalization.

California S.B. 128, as it is called, would allow doctors to prescribe a lethal dose of medication to terminally ill patients who want to commit suicide. Written by Democratic Sens. Bill Monning and Lois Wolk, the bill has sparked strong opposition.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 2, 2015 at 1:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Through the MPA, the Church of England contributed to this consultation process, affirming the aim of using mitochondrial replacement (or donation as it is also termed) while also differentiating between the two methodologies being proposed; one of which (pronuclear transfer – PNT) required embryos to be created as mitochondrial donors and recipients, the other (maternal spindle transfer) did not. Although the creation of embryos may be licensed by the HFEA, the MPA pointed out that PNT carried greater ethical concerns for many Christians and, indeed, those of other faiths or none.

More significantly, mitochondrial replacement involves modification of the human germ-line, with donor mitochondria being transmitted to future generations through the maternal line. As well as ensuring the techniques were as safe as possible, concerns were expressed that this would not be taken as approval for modifying defective mitochondrial genes that resided in the nucleus. Other concerns had to do with as yet unknown interactions between the DNA in the mitochondria and the DNA in the nucleus; these might potentially cause abnormality or be found to influence significant personal qualities or characteristics.

Such concerns were recognised by the HFEA in its work and recommendations to the secretaries of state.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineHurricane KatrinaLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyMenReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyWomen* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 2, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

He came from Algeria seeking a better life, anticipating an escape from poverty, oppression, and hopelessness. In Paris, he found a low-skill job and had children and grandchildren. As French citizens, they had the right to an education and health care. But they grew up in the ghettos that ring France’s major cities, surrounded by families like theirs, literally on the margins of society. Unable to integrate fully, they had few opportunities for economic advancement. Paradise was never gained.

This story has been repeated millions of times in the countries of Western Europe, with immigrants and their families ending up poor and excluded. In the worst-case scenario, they are recruited by extremist groups that seem to offer what they are missing: a sense of belonging, identity, and purpose. After a lifetime of marginalization, participation in a larger cause can seem worth the lies, self-destruction, and even death that inclusion demands.

In the wake of the attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris and the thwarting of another attack in Belgium, Europe needs to take a good look at itself.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaAlgeriaEuropeFranceSpain* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEschatologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 2, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The opponents of new technologies are always saying things have been rushed, as they did with fracking last week. It’s the last refuge of the person who wants to oppose something but has seen all his arguments shot down. And the change in the law will not create a free-for-all but merely allow clinicians to apply to the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA) for a licence. So each case will be scrutinised and approved by scientists, lawyers and ethicists, who are more competent to do so than your average MP.

Ever since Baroness Warnock’s pioneering report on embryo research in 1984, Britain has regulated advances in genetics and embryology by having parliament set the overall ethical and social tone, then devolving the detail to the HFEA, an approach that is internationally admired. The church is effectively asking parliament to be a regulator of medical research and practice.

Shockingly, I understand that Doug Turnbull, the Newcastle University scientist leading the mitochondrial research, had not once been invited by the archbishops’ council — which advised the Church of England on this decision — to present his case to them before they issued their fatwa against mitochondrial donation.

Read it all.

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

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Posted February 2, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One of the most prominent supporters of a DNA technique designed to eradicate a range of inherited diseases has angrily condemned Church of England claims that MPs were being rushed into a vote to back the process. Consultation had been exemplary, he claimed.

Professor Douglas Turnbull, a Newcastle University scientist who works with women affected by mitochondrial disease, warned that this week’s parliamentary vote could be the UK’s last chance to pioneer the technique.

“I am glad this government has chosen to go ahead with a vote, but I am concerned about how that might play out,” he says. “A good number of MPs don’t appear to like the idea of mitochondrial transfer. If they vote it down then I think the technology could be lost for ever. We are due a new government and when it comes in, it will have other priorities. We may never get this chance again.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMenReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyWomen

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Posted February 2, 2015 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"Changing the human germline represents an ethical watershed; it is right to be cautious, requiring a comprehensive debate and degree of consensus with regard to the ethics, safety and efficacy of these techniques before any change to the current provisions are made.

"We accept in certain circumstances that embryo research is permissible as long as it is undertaken to alleviate human suffering and embryos are treated with respect. We have great sympathy for families affected by mitochondrial disease and are not opposed in principle to mitochondrial replacement.

"A wide number of questions remain to be answered before it would be wise to proceed...."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMenScience & TechnologyWomen* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 2, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As someone who supports all those other liberal causes, yet opposes physician-assisted suicide, I'd ask my fellow progressives to shine a cold hard light on this issue. We have been the target of a decades-long branding campaign that paints hastening death as an extension of personal freedoms. We should bring the same skepticism to physician-assisted suicide that we do to fracking and genetically modified food.

Groups such as Compassion and Choices, the nonprofit advocacy organization spearheading SB 128 and similar bills elsewhere, masterfully employ Orwellian propaganda techniques: Redefine words to mean what you want them to mean. Repeat key points until they acquire an unquestioned air of truth.

“Suicide” is distasteful, so they promote “physician aid-in-dying,” “death with dignity” and the “right to die.” And yet all of these mean taking action to end one's own life. The news media have largely adopted the assisted suicide movement's terminology, so these euphemisms are worth unpacking here.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & Family* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted February 1, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Americans are taking the money they are saving at the gas pump and socking it away, a sign of consumers’ persistent caution even when presented with an unexpected windfall.

This newfound commitment to frugality was illustrated this past week when the nation’s biggest payment-card companies said they aren’t seeing evidence consumers are putting their gasoline savings toward discretionary items like travel, home renovations and electronics.

Instead, people are more often putting the money aside for a rainy day or using it to pay down debt. That more Americans are saving their bounty at the pump comes as a surprise, because the personal savings rate, after rising during and after the recession, has declined steadily over the past two years.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPersonal FinanceEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 1, 2015 at 11:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[joshua] Harris is the oldest of seven children of Gregg Harris, one of the early national leaders of the Christian home-schooling movement and a strong advocate of independent learning. Joshua was 21 when he wrote “I Kissed Dating Goodbye,” a memoir that became a cult classic to young evangelicals by urging them not only to hold off on sex but even dating — saying it was a form of promiscuity to spread around one’s emotional intimacy.

In the years since, nondenominational Christianity became more popular and loose. Informal networks of churches, groups and individuals have formed, such as the Vineyard, Willow Creek and the Gospel Coalition — the last of which Mahaney and Harris were leaders. But these are akin to social groups and not meant to hold one another accountable as denominational organizations often do....

Harris said he expects that studying at Regent College, a graduate school of theology, will broaden his perspective, including on accountability.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenEducationMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Canada* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted January 31, 2015 at 7:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A recent study from Duke University analyzed over 5,200 U.S. children who were born out of wedlock and recommended that unmarried parents marry before a child turns three so they'll create the strongest possible bond. Study author Christina Gibson-Davis writes: "If you think that stable marriage is beneficial for kids, very few kids born out of wedlock are experiencing that." Gibson also found that marriages are more likely to succeed if mothers marry biological fathers rather than a stepfather.

Many experts conclude that cohabitation puts children at risk for instability. As the rate of couples who live together without being married rises radically, children in America are more likely to experience cohabitation than divorce, according to W. Brad Wilcox, Director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia. Wilcox posits that they're also at risk for potential psychological and academic problems, poverty, instability, and child abuse. He writes, "Compared to marriage, cohabitation furnishes less commitment, stability, sexual fidelity, and safety for romantic partners and their children."

Consequently, cohabiting couples are more than twice as likely to breakup and four times as likely to be unfaithful to one another, compared with married couples. A recent study from Drs. Sheela Kennedy and Larry Bumpass found that 65 percent of children born to cohabitating parents saw their parents' breakup by age 12, compared to 24 percent born to married families.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychologyYoung Adults* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted January 31, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Until last July, St. Bernard School in Mt. Lebanon hadn’t had a religious sister as a principal since 1991, leading some students to worry when they found out that Sister Daniela Bronka would be filling the position.

“We thought she’d be really strict and not fun at all,” said eighth-grader Chloe Morycz.

“I thought she’d be really old and have a big veil covering her whole face, but then she turned out to be really young. Like 20,” said fourth-grader Damien Szuch.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

0 Comments
Posted January 31, 2015 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

SIR – Professor Sally Sheldon and a group of academics object to an attempt by parliamentarians to stop the selective abortion of girls (Letters, January 28).
This issue is one that the Telegraph exposed. It is about the abortion of girls purely on the ground of their sex – the first form of violence against women and girls.
The academics’ letter shows beautifully the need to clarify the law. For too long, confused interpretations of the 1967 Abortion Act have passed unchallenged. Professor Sheldon herself has written elsewhere that the idea that sex-selective abortion is illegal is “far from clear”. We cannot sit idly by as a preference for sons results in selective abortion of daughters.
The letter claims that action will require ethnic profiling. This was not true for female genital mutilation – a predominantly cultural practice – and need not be true for sex-selective abortion....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & CultureWomen* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted January 30, 2015 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The ethics of becoming a parent and the ethics of being a parent seem to have a different character and different rules. For example, what counts as selflessness in the latter may be criticised as selfish in the former. Thus, on the model of the ethics of war, we may separate the ethics of parenthood into two phases, which might be parodied as jus ad parenthood and jus in parenthood.

The critique of parenthood as selfish relies on a strong distinction between becoming and being a parent, so that a parent's own selfless dedication to their children cannot count in their favour. The charge is that the decision to become a parent is a selfish one because it effectively hijacks society's sense of justice towards the needs of children once created to socialise the costs of a private and therefore necessarily self-interested lifestyle choice.

My concern in this article has been to reject the strong distinction between the ethics of becoming and the ethics of being a parent, and hence the claim that parenthood is selfish.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 30, 2015 at 1:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dealing with the death of a loved one can be all consuming and overwhelming.

It’s not just the grief that can leave you shattered — but the admin.

You have to pick coffins, book flowers, transport, a church, hymns, an order of service, a venue, music, speeches and food (all within a budget) — and that’s just for starters.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted January 28, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

WHEN the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination line up on stage for their first debate in August, there may be three contenders whose fathers also ran for president. Whoever wins may face the wife of a former president next year. It is odd that a country founded on the principle of hostility to inherited status should be so tolerant of dynasties. Because America never had kings or lords, it sometimes seems less inclined to worry about signs that its elite is calcifying.

Thomas Jefferson drew a distinction between a natural aristocracy of the virtuous and talented, which was a blessing to a nation, and an artificial aristocracy founded on wealth and birth, which would slowly strangle it. Jefferson himself was a hybrid of these two types—a brilliant lawyer who inherited 11,000 acres and 135 slaves from his father-in-law—but the distinction proved durable. When the robber barons accumulated fortunes that made European princes envious, the combination of their own philanthropy, their children’s extravagance and federal trust-busting meant that Americans never discovered what it would be like to live in a country where the elite could reliably reproduce themselves.

Now they are beginning to find out...because today’s rich increasingly pass on to their children an asset that cannot be frittered away in a few nights at a casino. It is far more useful than wealth, and invulnerable to inheritance tax. It is brains.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationMarriage & FamilyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinancePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 27, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Tameka] Hosendove’s oldest son, now a junior at Irmo High School, saw that his family had a need his mother couldn’t handle by herself. He turned to school social worker Donna Carroll for help.

In response, the Irmo High family lifted up the Hosendoves, providing food, clothing, diapers and housing assistance thanks to a fund supported, in part, by $1 donations teachers make in exchange for wearing jeans on Fridays.

Many Midlands schools care for their own in similar ways, recognizing their duties in the lives of their students beyond the classroom. When children face stressful circumstances in their home lives, the consequences spill over into the classroom – they’re hungry, tired, distressed, distracted – and that’s when schools step in to fill a much larger role than academic teaching.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & Family* South Carolina

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Posted January 26, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In one of his last interviews in the job he's held since February 2013, Hagel refers to the "hidden consequences" of "nonstop war" faced by American combat forces since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. He calls the situation "unprecedented in the history of this country."

He tells Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep that such a protracted combat role means that the same people keep rotating back to the front lines: "four, five, six combat tours — [the] same people."

Hagel says that when spoke with a group of six promising young U.S. military officers in a recent meeting, "five out of the six said they were uncertain over whether they were going to stay in the service and most likely would get out.

"And why? Because of family issues, because of stress and strain," he tells Inskeep.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyMilitary / Armed Forces* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 26, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The first time he put a sidecar on his motorcycle, JD Whittaker was in Egypt, carting around radio equipment for the Air Force during the Cold War. When he got home, he built one for his family.

"Kids grow up and, of course, they want to bring their dog," said Whittaker, one of 18 riders and their dogs featured in "Sit. Stay. Ride: America's Sidecar Dogs," a Kickstarter-funded documentary. "When the kids are gone, all you've got left is the dog."

Read and watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyMovies & TelevisionTravel* General InterestAnimals* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted January 25, 2015 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...most viewers are likely unaware of what they are actually seeing. They are not merely watching an historical drama, they are witnessing the passing of a world. And that larger story, inadequately portrayed within Downton Abbey, is a story that should not be missed. That story is part of our own story as well. It is the story of the modern age arriving with revolutionary force, and with effects that continue to shape our own world.

Downton Abbey is set in the early decades of the twentieth century. Though by season four King George V is on the throne, the era is still classically Edwardian. And the era associated with King Edward VII is the era of the great turn in British society. The early decades of the twentieth century witnessed a great transformation in England and within the British Empire. The stable hierarchies of Downton Abbey grew increasingly unstable. Britain, which had been overwhelmingly a rural nation until the last decade of the nineteenth century, became increasingly urban. A transformation in morals changed the very character of the nation, and underlying it all was a great surge of secularization that set the stage for the emergence of the radically secular nation that Britain has become.

Viewers should note the almost complete absence of Christianity from the storyline. The village vicar is an occasional presence, and church ceremonies have briefly been portrayed. But Christianity as a belief system and a living faith is absent—as is the institutional presence of the Church of England.

Political life is also largely absent, addressed mainly as it directly affects the Crawleys and their estate. This amounts to a second great omission.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 24, 2015 at 2:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Now, three weeks into my son’s preschool career and we are already jockeying for a position next year. I’ve spent three paychecks from my part-time job, plus multiple hours of work-at-home time to get the necessary forms filled out and notarized so he can stay in the school.

Earlier this week, a friend dropped off her son’s registration packet with me to hold on to for registration day, since she will be out of town. I asked her how this whole registration thing will go down.

She told me that moms start lining up at 9 a.m. My eyes glazed over. Now I’m starting the registration process again. I am not a stay-at-home-mom, I’m an agent.

Of course, it could be worse. I could be paying for both school AND an admissions coach, who helps parents navigate getting into the best preschools in Manhattan, which cost upwards of $40K in tuition.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted January 24, 2015 at 2:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...demonstrators descended on to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., for an annual march coinciding with a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

Demonstrators at the 42nd annual March for Life on Thursday carried signs ranging from ones that said "Defend Life" and "I am a voice for the voiceless" to "Thank God my mom's prolife." The march is held annually on the same day that in 1973 that the Supreme Court announced its decision in the case of Roe v. Wade, a decision that created a constitutional right to abortion.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife Ethics* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 22, 2015 at 4:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It should have been a fun ­occasion – a boy’s birthday party at a tobogganing centre, ­complete with tea and balloons.

But the event has now turned into the focus of a public row between two families after the mother of the boy holding the party sent a formal invoice to the parents of his friend Alex for a “party no-show fee”.

The document, which included an invoice number, charged Tanya Walsh and Derek Nash £15.95 for the cost of their five-year-old son’s non-attendance at the event, held during the Christmas holidays.

And the Nashes are now being threatened with action at the small claims court if they refuse to pay up, while the mother of the birthday boy has banned her son from ever playing with Alex again.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomy* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

4 Comments
Posted January 21, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In 1979, Larry Lewis picked up a copy of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and saw a full-page ad listing the Southern Baptist Convention among denominations that affirmed the right to abortion.

"Right there beside the Unitarians and universalists was the Southern Baptist Convention," Lewis, a St. Louis pastor who went on to become president of the Home Mission Board (now the North American Mission Board), told Baptist Press. "... That bothered me a lot."

So Lewis did something about it, proposing in 1980 the first of more than 20 pro-life resolutions adopted by the SBC over the next few decades. When Lewis became HMB president of in 1987, one of his first actions was to create the office of abortion alternatives to help churches establish crisis pregnancy centers.

Thanks to Lewis and others, newspapers do not call the SBC pro-choice anymore.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted January 18, 2015 at 5:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In October, Seacoast’s Mount Pleasant Campus pastor took the stage to tell its 14,000 weekend attendees that he felt God calling the church to alleviate, even end, the local foster care crisis.

A few weeks later, 550 church members showed up for two interest meetings to learn more. An orientation meeting drew nearly 100 serious about becoming foster parents, almost as many people as licensed foster homes existing in Charleston County today.

Next week, the first series of foster parents licensing classes is full with 20 couples.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted January 18, 2015 at 1:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

How big a problem is family fragmentation? “Immense,” says Mitch Pearlstein, head of the Minnesota think tank Center of the American Experiment. “The biggest domestic problem facing this country.”

So big he went out and interviewed 40 experts of varying ideology across the nation and relayed their answers in his book Broken Bonds: What Family Fragmentation Means for America’s Future. That’s the good news. The bad news is that none of the experts is confident he has an answer, and neither is Pearlstein.

What is family fragmentation? The facts are easy to state. About 40 percent of babies born in America these days are born outside of marriage. That’s true of about 30 percent of non-Hispanic whites, more than 50 percent of Hispanics and more than 70 percent of blacks.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 17, 2015 at 12:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families, according to a new analysis of 2013 federal data, a statistic that has profound implications for the nation.

The Southern Education Foundation reports that 51 percent of students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in the 2012-2013 school year were eligible for the federal program that provides free and reduced-price lunches. The lunch program is a rough proxy for poverty, but the explosion in the number of needy children in the nation’s public classrooms is a recent phenomenon that has been gaining attention among educators, public officials and researchers.

“We’ve all known this was the trend, that we would get to a majority, but it’s here sooner rather than later,” said Michael A. Rebell of the Campaign for Educational Equity at Teachers College at Columbia University, noting that the poverty rate has been increasing even as the economy has improved. “A lot of people at the top are doing much better, but the people at the bottom are not doing better at all. Those are the people who have the most children and send their children to public school.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationMarriage & FamilyPoverty* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinancePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 17, 2015 at 8:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After high school, I attended a Christian liberal arts college. In the first semester of my freshman year, I signed up for a course with a brilliant, articulate, recently minted DPhil graduate of Oxford University. The textbook for our introduction to the Bible course was Jesus: A New Vision, by Marcus J. Borg, a prominent fellow of the Jesus Seminar. The scholarly project intended to discover “the historical Jesus” apart from creedal commitments or church teaching....

For me, this dose of higher criticism was nearly lethal. Any sense that the Bible was divinely inspired and trustworthy, or that the creeds had metaphysical gravitas, started to seem implausible. The best I could muster was that, somehow mystically, perhaps Jesus was the Christ, existentially speaking....

When I told my father what I was thinking, he was alarmed. He recommended different apologetics works that defended biblical authority. I sloughed them off. Keep in mind that this was an era before figures such as Craig Blomberg, N. T. Wright, and Luke Timothy Johnson had gained notoriety among evangelicals and had written their best work on the historical reliability of the Scriptures.

Then Dad had a brainstorm. He knew that I was enamored with modern philosophy. So one day when I phoned home, he said, “There’s an evangelical theologian who might interest you. His PhD is in philosophy....His name is Carl F. H. Henry. Find the volumes of God, Revelation, and Authority in your library, and read them before you decide to give up the faith.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

3 Comments
Posted January 15, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Declining population growth that shrinks the pool of available labor over the next 50 years will reduce by 40% the rate of growth in global economic output for the world’s 20 largest economies compared to the past 50 years, according to a new study.

The report from the McKinsey Global Institute says that to compensate for the drop in the growth of the labor force, productivity needs to accelerate 80% from its historical rate to keep global growth in gross domestic product from slowing.

Over the past 50 years, global growth increased six-fold, and average per capita income nearly tripled. McKinsey researchers estimate that around half the increase stemmed from gains in productivity and half from the growing labor force.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenGlobalizationMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomy* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 15, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Legal experts and the police said a law allowing assisted suicide in Scotland needed more clarity in order to remove the risk of someone being prosecuted.

There is a "fine line" between assisting someone killing themselves and an act of euthanasia which could result in criminal charges, MSPs heard.

The plans, contained in a backbench bill, have widespread public backing, said supporters.

But opponents believed such a move was "unethical and uncontrollable".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 14, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

it's the second one in in case you get taken back to the beginning.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationViolence* General InterestPhotos/Photography* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan

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Posted January 12, 2015 at 6:57 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two explosions rocked northeast Nigeria on Saturday, including one by a female suicide bomber thought to be just 10 years old who blew herself up in a crowded market, as the US condemned a bloody spike in Boko Haram violence.

At least 19 people were killed at the Monday Market in the Borno State capital, Maiduguri, at about 12:40 pm (1140 GMT) when it was packed with shoppers and traders.

Hours later, a suspicious vehicle that had been stopped at a checkpoint outside the city of Potiskum, in neighbouring Yobe, exploded at a police station as its driver was being taken in for questioning.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 10, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Connecticut Supreme Court's ruling that 17-year-old Cassandra could be forced to undergo cancer treatment sparked thousands of impassioned comments on NPR.org and Facebook.

Cassandra, who is being identified by her first name because she is a minor, had been removed from her home and put in the custody of child welfare authorities after she said she didn't want chemotherapy for Hodgkin lymphoma.

The state and her doctors said that without treatment, she would die. With treatment, she has an 85 percent chance of survival.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyTeens / Youth* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted January 10, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A group of atheists in Rochester, N.Y., has bad news for the Good News Club, a Christian after-school club for children.

The group, consisting of atheists, humanists and skeptics, announced its own after-school program: a Young Skeptics club featuring science, logic and learning activities.

Young Skeptics is being sponsored by a volunteer-led group calling itself “The Better News Club.” Its members come from the Atheist Community of Rochester — the same group that offered the first atheist invocation before a town meeting in Greece, N.Y., after the Supreme Court ruled in May that public meetings could begin with sectarian prayers.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 9, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For some years I worked in two parts of the West Midlands—wonderful places to live and work; I have many friends there still—but they were both characterised as areas that had extremely low aspirations. It was one thing to change the school but if the child went home and was told repeatedly, “Actually, that sort of thing does not make any difference to us. You are wasting your time”, all the work was undone. There needs to be a profound social and cultural change in the family as well.

That was one of the things that struck me when I was reading the comments in the interim report of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility, which reported back in 2012. It summarised its conclusions into seven “key truths”. I will pick out just the first four, which show precisely this connection. The first key truth was:

“The point of greatest leverage for social mobility is what happens between ages 0 and 3, primarily in the home”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchChildrenDieting/Food/NutritionMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 9, 2015 at 4:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Phillipsburg school officials discriminated against a substitute teacher who provided a Bible to a student who expressed curiosity about a verse the teacher had quoted, the federal agency that guards against workplace discrimination found.

In its decision, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission rejected Phillipsburg School District's claim that the teacher, Walt Tutka of Belvidere, was fired for insubordination after he refused to meet with the school board.

The commission noted that the school district failed to provide documents in support of its claim Tutka's termination was based on insubordination. It also found that the reason for the scheduled meeting was disciplinary action for the distribution of religious material after Tutka's termination had been recommended to the school board, the commission's decision says.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted January 7, 2015 at 3:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Oregon holds on to its title as "Top Moving Destination" and continues to pull away from the pack, while the Northeast loses residents for the third consecutive year.

Those are the key findings from United Van Lines' 38th Annual National Movers Study, which tracks customers' migration patterns state-to-state during the course of the past year. The study found that Oregon is the top moving destination of 2014, with 66 percent of moves to and from the state being inbound — that's a nearly 5 percent increase of inbound moves compared to 2013. Arriving at No. 2 on the list was South Carolina (61 percent inbound), followed closely in third by its northern neighbor, North Carolina (61 percent).

The District of Columbia, which held the top spot on the inbound list from 2008 to 2012 and ranked fourth last year, fell to No. 7 this year with 57 percent inbound moves. New additions to the 2014 top inbound list include Vermont (59 percent), Oklahoma (57 percent) and Idaho (56 percent).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilySociologyTravel* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted January 7, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Paula Smalley was hurt in a hit and run accident during the busy holiday season in the last couple of weeks. We are admirers of the ministry of the parish of which they are a part and her husband, Craig, is a former member of the diocese of South Carolina and known to many here. You can see a picture of the whole Smalley clan and offer your own thoughts if you wish there.

I will quote here Craig's recent facebook post: "Friends, a note to say that though we are consumed with the work of rehab and recovery, and not able to respond sufficiently, we are wonderfully overwhelmed with the love, care, and encouragement from so many. We feel much like Wayne and Garth, "we're not worthy," but we are grateful."

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPastoral CareSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingChildrenMarriage & FamilyTravel* TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 6, 2015 at 5:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Americans tend to lack imagination when it comes to breakfast. The vast majority of us, surveys say, start our days with cold cereal — and those of us with children are more likely to buy the kinds with the most sugar. Children all over the world eat cornflakes and drink chocolate milk, of course, but in many places they also eat things that would strike the average American palate as strange, or worse.

Breakfast for a child in Burkina Faso, for example, might well include millet-seed porridge; in Japan, rice and a putrid soybean goop known as natto; in Jamaica, a mush of plantains or peanuts or cornmeal; in New Zealand, toast covered with Vegemite, a salty paste made of brewer’s yeast; and in China, jook, a rice gruel topped with pickled tofu, strings of dried meat or egg. In Cuba, Brazil and elsewhere in Latin America, it is not uncommon to find very young children sipping coffee with milk in the mornings. In Pakistan, kids often take their milk with Rooh Afza, a bright red syrup made from fruits, flowers and herbs. Swedish filmjolk is one of dozens of iterations of soured milk found on breakfast tables across Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. For a child in southern India, the day might start with a steamed cake made from fermented lentils and rice called idli. “The idea that children should have bland, sweet food is a very industrial presumption,” says Krishnendu Ray, a professor of food studies at New York University who grew up in India. “In many parts of the world, breakfast is tepid, sour, fermented and savory.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenDieting/Food/NutritionGlobalizationMarriage & Family* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted January 5, 2015 at 12:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Silence isn't something people usually associate with middle school, but twice a day the halls of Visitacion Valley School in San Francisco fall quiet as the sixth, seventh and eighth grade students meditate for fifteen minutes.

And school administrators tell NBC News that the violence outside of the school, which is situated in one of San Francisco's poorest neighborhoods, was spilling into the school and affecting the students' demeanor.

"The kids see guns on a daily basis," the school's athletic director, Barry O'Driscoll said, adding, "there would be fights here three-to-five times a week."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationHealth & MedicineReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths

0 Comments
Posted January 4, 2015 at 1:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The traditional family is dead. Or at least it is for the tens of thousands of people who are choosing to go online to find the parent of their child.

Men and women are finding each other on what look like dating sites in order to have a baby through artificial insemination (AI). Within a platonic relationship, they then share the child without a binding legal agreement.

Co-Parents.co.uk, was begun by Franz Sof in 2008 when he wanted to meet someone he could bring up a child with. The site now has 10,000 members. This website and others like it also caters for those who, rather than looking for someone to “co-parent” with, are looking for a sperm donor, but want to meet him first.

Read it all (requires subscription).


Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesMenScience & TechnologyWomenYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 3, 2015 at 2:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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