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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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[The Rev. Simon] Tatton-Brown, who is due to retire shortly, has admitted that he was wrong to tell children that Father Christmas was not real. He also apologised for telling them how legend has it that St Nicholas, the historical figure on whom Santa Claus is based, resurrected three young boys who had been pickled in a barrel by a wicked butcher who was planning to sell them as ham.
He said that he inadvertently left behind the notes for his speech and had to extemporise.
Kerry Butler, whose daughter Kacey, 9, goes to the school, said that parents were “very upset” about Mr Tatton-Brown’s remarks.
Read it all (subscription required).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Christmas Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Children Education * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The Belgian Senate voted today 50-17 to extend euthanasia to children with disabilities, in a move pro-life advocates worldwide had been fearing would come and expand an already much-abused euthanasia law even further.
The vote today in the full Senate comes after a Senate committee voted 13-4 to allow minors to seek euthanasia under certain conditions and the measure also would extend the right to request euthanasia to adults with dementia. There is still a chance to stop the bill in the House of Representatives, though pro-life campaigners fear it will become law.
“Currently the Belgian euthanasia law limits euthanasia to people who are at least 18 years old. This unprecedented bill would extend euthanasia to children with disabilities,” says Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. “The Belgian Socialist government is adamant that the euthanasia law needs to extend to minors and people with dementia even though there is significant examples of how the current law is being abused and the bracket creep of acceptable reasons for euthanasia continues to grow. The current practice of euthanasia in Belgium appears to have become an easy way to cover-up medical errors.”
Read it all from Lifesite Newsand compare it (including the headline) to the New York Times story there.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Psychology * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
the bishops may also want to consider the significant omissions of fact in the PR's revision of Anglican history since 1998:
that the issue dominated the 1998 Conference because of the threatened actions of the North American churches;
that Resolution I.10 was approved by a vast majority of bishops and continues to be held as normative by virtually all the churches of the Global South;
that the primary ground of the resolution was fidelity to Scripture, and several additional resolutions affirmed this point;
that the North American churches followed through on their threat with the consecration of Gene Robinson despite repeated warnings from various Instruments; and the more "collegial" atmosphere at Lambeth 2008 was purchased at the expense of 280 bishops being absent from Lambeth 2008.
It is astonishing that the PR in fact lacks any reference to The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada.
The Church of England's bishops may wish to consider these omissions of fact, and, by contrast, the recitation of the actual history of the failure of the Instruments of Communion to discipline the North American churches that repeatedly breached Lambeth Resolution 1.10 (1998) in the last 15 years - a recitation which can be found in the October 26 Nairobi Communique and in other communications from Global South Anglican leaders.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops Global South Churches & Primates Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Children Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
Guernsey will not be "forced" into any relationship change with the Anglican Church, the island's Dean has said.
It follows questions raised over the relationship between Jersey and the Diocese of Winchester after a review of how an abuse complaint was handled.
Guernsey's Anglican Dean the Very Reverend Canon Paul Mellor, said it was not clear if any changes would be made.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Children Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Father Jerry Sherbourne, an active-duty U.S. Army Chaplain, and former Anglican priest, was ordained a Catholic priest Sunday, December 8, 2013 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Through the invocation of the Holy Spirit and the imposition of hands, Archbishop Broglio ordained him during a 10:00 a.m. Mass.
Father Sherbourne is now a Catholic priest, incardinated in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, a special Church jurisdiction established by Pope Benedict XVI for Anglicans entering full communion with the Catholic Church while maintaining distinctive elements of their theological, spiritual, and liturgical patrimony.
In preparation for his transition from Anglican to Catholic, Father Sherbourne underwent a two-year formation program approved by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the Holy See, a process that included his ordination as a transitional Catholic deacon.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Military / Armed Forces * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic
Shanghai warned children and the elderly to stay indoors for at least a seventh day out of the first nine this month, intensifying pressure on local authorities to control the worst smog since government monitoring began last year.
The city’s air quality index was at 238, or “heavily polluted” at 5 p.m., according to the local monitoring center. A warning to stay indoors is triggered any time the index exceeds 200. The index surged to a record 482 on Dec. 6 into the “severe” level, the highest of a six-tier rating system, according to the China Daily. That prompted the government to order cars off the road and factories to cut production.
Read it all.
Watch it all it is truly great fun
Couples should not have children if their relationship is not stable enough to merit getting married, a senior High Court judge said yesterday.
Sir Paul Coleridge said those couples whose relationship was stable enough to cope with the rigours of child rearing should marry.
But the judge, who is retiring from the bench next year after decades as a family lawyer and judge, said those who did not feel ready for children should not have them.
Read it all.
As Justin Reckers watched his parents go through a nasty divorce, the wrenching experience gave him a first-hand view of some the worst mistakes couples can make when parting ways.
It also helped shape his career choice. He is now chief executive of Pacific Divorce Management and director of financial planning at Pacific Wealth Management.
Mr. Reckers describes his parent's breakup, which occurred just as he graduated college, as "probably the worst possible divorce scenario you could imagine." There were angry confrontations and the couple ended up bankrupt, he said....
Now 32, the son wants to help others find a less troubled path.Read it all.
The prominent family division judge announced last month that he is to retire early from the bench in April next year, saying he wanted to concentrate on his foundation which works to bring down the divorce rate.
But he has now disclosed that the lack of “support” he received from the legal profession for his stance on marriage was a crucial factor in that decision.
In an interview with The Tablet he said that he could have continued in his role for several more years had it not been for this.
Read it all.
Aside from a pastor's personal weaknesses, what cultural forces make it harder for pastors to stay true in their calls?
We have a cultural tendency to elevate leaders. Maybe it's because they have an extraordinary education or a title or a position. Maybe it is because they have had a great deal of success in the growth of their church, or as an author or speaker. Whatever the reason, we're creating minigods in our minds and hearts. That creates expectations in leaders, and expectations are the foundations for disappointment.
What does that look like in a local church?
Maybe the pastor receives disproportionately large gifts compared to what's given to associates or other staff. Or the senior pastor is seen as the person that we all go to. It's people saying, "The pastor sat at my table," or, "The pastor was over at my house." As if the pastor is a movie star or sports figure.
I don't know how many times in Peacemakers' work, after coming in to help a church, I've heard elders say, "I wanted to say something, but I thought, Who am I?" We elevate pastors to a place where we feel they know so much more than we do, so we don't hold them accountable to some fundamental issues.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Marriage & Family Psychology * Theology Anthropology Christology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Soteriology
One memorable grade-school performance my wife and I attended six years ago included songs about dancing penguins and prancing polar bears sung by fifth-graders dressed in white polo shirts and beige pants, interspersed with poetic student readings about snow and ice (prompting visions of isolation, hypothermia and snow blindness). Imagine a GapKids commercial directed by Ingmar Bergman.
Now, these once-festive and joyous musical events have become monochromatic affairs—both visually and artistically—devoid of any seasonal context. At last year's high-school concert, all of the student performers were dressed in black—formal yes, but also funereal. Moreover, school music directors these days, overburdened by litigation-avoidance strategies, have committed the sin (if that word is still allowed) of not just erasing religion from these concerts but of basically abandoning musicality altogether.
Much of the music is simply bad: mindless melodies and meaningless lyrics, whether saccharine and syncopated or somber and staccato. To ignore the significant body of church music composed to celebrate Christmas—from English carols to Bach cantatas to the full oratorio of Handel —borders on musical malpractice, even if it is motivated by fear of the ACLU. No matter how technically well-executed, Broadway show tunes and "Glee" versions of pop standards will never inspire hope, goodwill and renewal. Wasn't that the whole point of these annual musical celebrations?
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Christmas * Culture-Watch Children Education History Law & Legal Issues Music Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
Dear Father,—Do not be grieved at the slanderous libel in this week's Express. Of course, it is all a lie, without an atom of foundation; and while the whole of London is talking of me, and thousands are unable to get near the door, the opinion of a penny-a-liner is of little consequence.
I beseech you not to write: but if you can see Mr. Harvey, or some official, it might do good. A full reply on all points will appear next week.
I only fear for you; I do not like you to be grieved. For myself I WILL REJOICE; the devil is roused, the Church is awakening, and I am now counted worthy to suffer for Christ's sake... Good ballast, father, good ballast; but, oh! remember what I have said before, and do not check me.
Last night, I could not sleep till morning light, but now my Master has cheered me; and I "hail reproach, and welcome shame." Love to you all, especially to my dearest mother. I mean to come home April 16th. So amen.
Your affectionate son, C. H. Spurgeon.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch Children History Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues * International News & Commentary England / UK
...it is also important to recognise how much the themes of the Narnia books are interwoven with what he was thinking and writing in other contexts around the same time, and with material he had already published in the 1940s — as well as the fact that the first seeds of the actual Narnia narrative seem to have been sown as early as 1939. For example: his 1946 book, The Great Divorce, foreshadows many of the ideas in the Narnia stories — most particularly a theme that Lewis insists on more and more as his work develops, the impossibility of forcing any person to accept love and the monumental and excruciating difficulty of receiving love when you are wedded to a certain picture of yourself. It is this theme that emerges most clearly in his last (and greatest) imaginative work, the 1956 novel, Till We Have Faces. These issues are very much the issues that Lewis is trying to work out in a variety of imaginative idioms from the early 1940s onwards — the problems of self-deception above all, the lure of self-dramatising, the pain and challenge of encounter with divine truthfulness. What Narnia seeks to do, very ambitiously, is to translate these into terms that children can understand. And as to why Lewis decided to address such an audience, there is probably no very decisive answer except that he had a high view of children’s literature, a passion for myth and fantasy and a plain desire to communicate as widely as possible.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Rowan Williams * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Books Children Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology
Faith schools discriminate against the less well-off, a survey has suggested. Comprehensive non-faith secondary schools admit 11 per cent more pupils eligible for free school meals than would be expected given their areas, while comparable Church of England secondaries admit 10 per cent fewer, it was found.
The Fair Admissions Campaign, which wants schools opened equally to all children regardless of religion, said admissions of pupils eligible for free school meals fell below the level in the schools’ areas by 24 per cent at Roman Catholic, 25 per cent at Muslim and 61 per cent at Jewish secondary schools.
The campaign claimed a “clear correlation” between religious selection and socio-economic segregation.
Read it all (subscription required).
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Education Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Personal Finance * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
I hadn’t heard about the controversy over the three-parent embryo until my wife brought it to my attention: The U.K. may soon approve a regulatory proposal that would allow scientists to create a human embryo using the DNA of three individuals. The idea is to remove damaged maternal DNA and replace it with genetic material from another woman, in order to reduce the risk of transmitting a mitochondrial disorder.
This all sounds on the surface very clean and high-tech and altruistic. Yet it turns out that lots of people oppose it, including members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and members of the European Parliament involved in its Bioethics Intergroup. What’s striking is how the opponents span the political spectrum. The open letter from the Bioethics Intergroup, for example, was signed by representatives of both the Conservative and Green parties....
The fear, in other words, is that the DNA modifications will take root not only in the child born of the adjusted embryo, but in all of that child’s descendants....
Read it all.
Three engineering undergrads at Rice University gave a teenager with a rare genetic disease something he'd always wished for: the ability to turn off the light in his room.
It may not seem like much, but for 17-year-old Dee Faught, it represents a new kind of independence.
Dee can't operate a light switch because he can't reach far enough from his wheelchair. He has a disorder called , also known as brittle bone disease. In addition to breaking easily, Dee's bones are tiny. His legs and arms are all twisted up.
The three Rice students heard about Dee in an unusual freshman engineering class. Instead of learning engineering principles from a book, students form teams to come up with engineering solutions for real-world problems.
Read it all.
Between classes, they schemed and conspired. For weeks, the football players at Olivet Middle School in Olivet, Mich., secretly planned their remarkable play.
"Everyone was in on it," says Nick Jungel.
"But the coaches didn't know anything about it," Parker Smith says. "We were, like, going behind their back."
We've never heard of a team coming up with a plan to not score.
Read it all but also make sure to watch the Video.
In charting the differences between today’s families and those of the past, demographers start with the kids — or rather the lack of them.
The nation’s birthrate today is half what it was in 1960, and last year hit its lowest point ever. At the end of the baby boom, in 1964, 36 percent of all Americans were under 18 years old; last year, children accounted for just 23.5 percent of the population, and the proportion is dropping, to a projected 21 percent by 2050. Fewer women are becoming mothers — about 80 percent of those of childbearing age today versus 90 percent in the 1970s — and those who reproduce do so more sparingly, averaging two children apiece now, compared with three in the 1970s.
One big reason is the soaring cost of ushering offspring to functional independence. According to the Department of Agriculture, the average middle-class couple will spend $241,080 to raise a child to age 18. Factor in four years of college and maybe graduate school, or a parentally subsidized internship with the local theater company, and say hello to your million-dollar bundle of oh joy.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Men Psychology Sociology Women * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
A few months before C. S. Lewis died in 1963, he predicted to Walter Hooper, a young American friend, that sales of his books would decline rapidly after his death. Hooper countered: “No, they won’t. And you know why? Your books are too good, and people are not that stupid.”--From this past Saturday's London Times
Lewis was wrong. Hooper, who became Lewis’s biographer and editor, was right. In the 50 years since Lewis died — at the same hour that John F. Kennedy was assassinated — sales of his books have not only not declined, they have rocketed.
The Chronicles of Narnia sell about three million copies annually worldwide in more than 40 languages.
Children raised in single-parent households in the U.S. are far more likely to live in poverty than children with both parents present, according to Census figures released Monday. As a result, far more black and Hispanic children are raised in poverty than white kids.
Among all children living only with their mother, nearly half — or 45% — live below the poverty line, the Census Bureau said. For those living with just the father, about 21% lived in poverty. By comparison, only about 13% of children with both parents present in the household live below the poverty line.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Poverty * Economics, Politics Economy The U.S. Government Census/Census Data * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Sir Nicholas Winton organized the rescue and passage to Britain of about 669 mostly Jewish Czechoslovakian children destined for the Nazi death camps before World War II in an operation known as the Czech Kindertransport.
After the war, Nicholas Winton didn’t tell anyone, not even his wife Grete about his wartime rescue efforts. In 1988, a half century later, Grete found a scrapbook from 1939 in their attic, with all the children’s photos, a complete list of names, a few letters from parents of the children to Winton and other documents. She finally learned the whole story.
In the video [at the link] the survivors gathered to give him a wonderful surprise. Watch it all (Hat tip DR).
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children History Military / Armed Forces Religion & Culture Violence * International News & Commentary England / UK Europe Czech Republic Germany * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Judaism
Feminist author and blogger Jessica Valenti, known for (among other things) advocating free abortions on demand and without apology, recently wrote an apology for her own abortion. Yet, she couldn't even use the word. Instead, Valenti's essay poignantly describes the dire medical circumstances surrounding her unplanned pregnancy, her adoring love for the toddler she already has, the loss of her hope to provide her daughter with a sister, and the traditions she has cultivated around the family table to pass on to her child, such as Sunday sauce.
So it is here, it seems—at the family table—that abortion has finally arrived in its collective meaning for all of us. The semiotics of abortion in American culture has evolved, and with it the images that give its meaning power: from the dark, dirty alley; to the clean, well-lighted clinic; and now, to the warm glow of the family dining room.
Nearly every table set for the family gathering at Thanksgiving this year will have a missing place, if not two or more, since one in three women in America now has an abortion by age 45; the majority of these self-identify as Christian.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Science & Technology Sexuality Women * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
When Xena was rescued, she only had a 1 percent chance of survival. Not only has the dog beaten those odds, but she also has helped an 8-year-old autistic boy find his voice. NBC’s Jill Rappaport reports.
Watch it all from NBC (just under 2 1/4 minutes).
While her husband’s health-care plans founder, Michelle Obama is pressing ahead with her own. Last month, joined by Rosita, a turquoise Latina muppet, and Elmo, a shaggy red one, she announced that Sesame Street’s puppets would promote fruit and vegetables rather than sugary and fatty fare; Cookie Monster may need to find himself a new job. Mrs Obama’s fight against childhood obesity has several fronts (she calls it “Let’s Move!”) but marketing is an important one. In September she convened the first White House meeting on marketing food to children. Their preferences “are being shaped by the marketing campaigns you all create”, she told the assembled executives. “And that’s where the problem comes in.”
To market anything that might appeal to young consumers is to risk a scolding. Advertising entices children to drink and smoke, makes them fat and sexualises them early, its critics allege. To tout even wholesome products to children, some claim, is to exploit their naivety and thus to deceive them. Crusaders like Mrs Obama have helped embarrass companies. Coca-Cola said in May that it would not advertise to children younger than 12 anywhere in the world. Last year Disney promised not to promote junk food on television programmes for children.
Such gestures make the best of an increasingly constraining climate....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Children Media * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
With the help of thousands of volunteers, San Francisco transformed itself into Gotham City to grant a special wish to a 5-year-old boy. NBC’s Joe Fryer reports.
Watch it all--makes the heart glad.
All Girls Allowed (AGA), a leading faith-based organization pushing for an end to the one-child policy, previously stated on Nov. 5 that "all previous speculations about a possible relaxation of China's One-Child Policy have now been put to an end, as the Ministry of Health and Family Planning announced on October 29th that the policy will remain unchanged."
Today, AGA released a new statement:
All Girls Allowed welcomes the news of the policy's relaxation, but expresses disappointment that the Chinese government has not gone the logical and compassionate route—abolishing the policy altogether. ... [T]he greatest indictment against the One-Child Policy is the use of coercion in its enforcement. Untold numbers of forced abortions and sterilizations continue to take place to this day, making it the greatest violence against women and children in the world today.
Read it all.
A signal event in America’s long trial over the tragedy of abortion occurred this week with the publication of a cover story in New York magazine that was simply titled, “My Abortion.” As the cover advertises, the article features “twenty-six personal dispatches from a culture war without end.”
The issue is riveting, offering testimonies from women who have aborted their children—some of them repeatedly. Meaghan Winter begins the article by setting the context in 2013, forty years after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down the Roe v. Wade decision, believing that it has settled the issue....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality Sociology Women * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
...abortion is something we tend to be more comfortable discussing as an abstraction; the feelings it provokes are too complicated to face in all their particularities. Which is perhaps why, even in doggedly liberal parts of the country, very few people talk openly about the experience, leaving the reality of abortion, and the emotions that accompany it, a silent witness in our political discourse. Even now, four decades after Roe, some of the women we spoke with would talk only if we didn’t print their real names.
As their stories show, the experience of abortion in the United States in 2013 is vastly uneven. It varies not just by state but also by culture, race, income, age, family; by whether a boyfriend offered a ride to the clinic or begged her not to go; by the compassion or callousness of the medical staff; by whether she took the pill alone at home or navigated protesters outside a clinic. Some feel so shamed that they will never tell their friends or family; others feel stronger for having gotten through the experience. The same woman can wake up one morning with regret, the next with relief—most have feelings too knotty for a picket sign. “There’s no room,” one woman told us, “to talk about being unsure.”
Read it all. I offer readers a caution here--do not delve into this unless you are in the proper mode, so to speak--KSH.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Religion & Culture Science & Technology Women * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
When it comes to the children of the clergy, stereotypes abound. First, there's the model child, who lives by the rulebook and follows in the footsteps of his or her minister parent. In many churches, this is an expectation as much as it is a stereotype. Yet perhaps the dominant stereotype of the pastor's kid is the prodigal—the wayward child, the rebel who has fallen away from the faith, the backslidden who'd rather strike out on their own than live in the shadow of the steeple.
The underlying assumption of this stereotype, however, is that Christians believe those who've grown up closest to the church are the quickest to leave it. And as with any stereotype, it's worth closer examination to see if any of these perceptions are really true....
Read it all.
Children are facing a health “time bomb” of neck and back pain relating to the use of computers and smartphones, health experts have warned.
More than two thirds of primary school children have reported experiencing back or neck pain over the course of one year, according to research.
The number of children receiving treatment for back or neck pain has doubled in the past six months researchers at Swansea University claim.
Read it all.
AS the Anglican Church gets ready for its next round of royal commission public hearings, the Bishop of the Diocese of Newcastle has sent out a letter warning of the potential for news that “this diocese could have done better”.
Diocese of Newcastle administrator Bishop Peter Stuart’s pastoral letter will be read out in parishes diocese-wide.
Read it all.
Did you grow up reading C.S. Lewis?
I've had a fascination with Lewis since my teens, (but) I didn't grow up reading Narnia. I came rather late to Narnia, but I read quite a bit of Lewis as a teenager—Mere Christianity and The Great Divorce and some of the other books. As a schoolboy in the final year of high school, I read his book on Paradise Lost, which was very important for my English studies.
What was your introduction to the world of Narnia? What captivated you about it?
I suppose I read the Narnia books mostly as a student, and I enjoyed the wit of the books. Humor is very visible in them. I enjoyed the energy of the characterization.
And I just found myself very, very deeply moved by some passages, and I identify a lot with those moments of encounter—where you discover the truth about yourself in the face of God. Those are some of the most moving passages, because Lewis is particularly good at giving you a sense of joy in the presence of God.
Read it all.
Parliamentarians in Iran have passed a bill to protect the rights of children which includes a clause that allows a man to marry his adopted daughter and while she is as young as 13 years.
Activists have expressed alarm that the bill, approved by parliament on Sunday, opens the door for the caretaker of a family to marry his or her adopted child if a court rules it is in the interests of the individual child.
Read it all (from September and from the queue of should-have-already-been-posted).
International adoption is full of ethical and financial challenges, largely because adoptive children are coming from poor countries with opaque bureaucracies, and agencies stand to gain thousands of dollars per child. "The movement has ignored and minimized those challenges," says David Smolin, director for the Center for Children, Law, and Ethics, at Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Ala.
Mr. Smolin, who describes himself as an evangelical, is the father of six biological children and two girls adopted from India. Fifteen years ago, he and his wife discovered that their adopted daughters had been stolen from their birth parents. "We went through a horrible learning experience," Mr. Smolin says. "It's very frustrating to me that the movement arose while these problems still existed." He thinks evangelical groups need to "emphasize other kinds of interventions," including finding extended family to care for the child in his or her home country.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Globalization Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
When Jennifer Pedersen-Giles started to home-school her son Westen six years ago, it was because he needed a more hands-on environment than what public schools could offer. Now the eighth-grader studies writing, music, art, geometry, literature and world religions from his home in Arizona.
Religion, in other words, had nothing to do with his mother’s decision.
She’s not alone. According to the federally funded National Center for Education Statistics, the share of parents who cited “religious or moral instruction” as their primary motivation for home-schooling has dropped from 36 percent in 2007 to just 16 percent during the 2011-12 school year.
Read it all.
The books just keep coming: Collaborative Divorce,Happy Divorce,The Good Karma Divorce, The Creative Divorce. Reading the articles and books, you might get the idea that The Good Divorce is a sacrament, not a disaster...
[So why are they wrong?]
Heartache, financial loss and time detangling bring irreparable setbacks. Lots of spouses get dumped. Eighty percent of U.S. divorces "are unilateral, rather than truly mutual decisions," notes researcher Maggie Gallagher. Still, healthy people can wade through the hurt and make the best of the situation.
That doesn't ameliorate the damage. Children, who never have a say in their parents' parting, become collateral damage and dismissed with the dubious phrase "kids are resilient." Judith Wallerstein, whose landmark 25-year study of divorced families convinced her of its ongoing harm, found that "many of these . . . children forfeited their own childhoods as they took responsibility for themselves, their troubled, overworked parents; and their siblings." The trauma peaks in adulthood, she cautions, undermining love, sexual intimacy and commitment.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Marriage & Family Psychology * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Scientists say they may have found the key to surviving cancer: marriage.
Married people with cancer were 20% less likely to die from their disease, compared to people who are separated, divorced, widowed or never married, according to study published online Monday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Married people in the study fared better than singles no matter what type of cancer. In certain types of tumors — prostate, breast, colorectal, esophageal and head/neck cancers — the survival benefits of marriage were larger than those from chemotherapy.
"Improving social support for our patients may be equally important as providing effective therapy, and it is less costly to develop and implement," said senior author Paul Nguyen, a radiation oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, in a statement.
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Married Americans spend more than those in any other marital status category, across age groups. Americans who have never married spend significantly less, particularly for those younger than 50, suggesting that if the marriage rate increases, overall spending in the U.S. may increase and benefit the U.S. economy.
Married Americans report a daily spending average of $102, followed by $98 among those who are living in domestic partnerships, $74 by divorced Americans, $67 by those who are single and never married, and $62 by those who are widowed. As shown in the accompanying graph, across all age groups, those who are married spend more than those of other marital statuses.
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Q: When did the concept of sexy Halloween costumes for teen and tween girls become cool?
[Annalisa] Castaldo [of Widener University]: Sexy adult costumes have been around for years, but costumes designed for teens and tweens have more recently begun displaying a sexualized edge....
Q: Isn't this simply about playing pretend and seeking attention?
Castaldo: What's most disturbing is that girls have much less choice when they go to the costume store to be seen as anything other than a physical object. The only way they can dress up for Halloween is as something that reveals their body. A boy can be a pirate with baggy pants, an eye patch, a sword and a parrot on his shoulder, The costume matches the character. With the girl, the pirate is wearing a short skirt. As a superhero, she's wearing a short skirt. And my favorite is Cookie Monster with a short skirt. Every costume becomes about the physicality of the body it reveals, not about the characteristics of the character being impersonated.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Sexuality Teens / Youth Women * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
A baptism is all about renouncing the devil, washing away the stain of original sin, and entrusting your child's soul to God. But here's betting that for Kate and William today's ceremony is less about religion and more an opportunity for a happy party, surrounded by the people they most care about, to celebrate the arrival of their son. And if it is, what's wrong with that?
The tradition of having your baby baptised is in decline in Britain: christenings in the Church of England are down by around a half on what they were in 1980, and there's a similar story in the Catholic church. Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury who's presiding at the font in St James's Palace today, says it would be wonderful if the baptism of Prince George led other parents to think about getting their baby christened. And he's right – not because the church needs bums on its pews, but because baptism is an age-old rite of passage that provides one of those all-important moments in family life when we pause, take stock, and think about both where we've come from and where we're going, and how important it is to support one another along the way.
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Those who make this journey must look in two directions, the Archbishop said.
'First, they look at the world. Jesus tells his disciples to let people come to him. To do that they have to be outward looking, in touch with the world, welcoming, generous-spirited, alive with the life of the Christ to whom they will introduce all who come.'
He added that as a Christian, Prince George 'is to share the life of Christ which is in him, regardless of whom he meets, their faith or nature or habits, so that others find life. That sharing may be in words, or generous actions - most likely both - but it will be both very costly and infinitely rewarding.'
The second direction in which Christians must look is towards Christ, the Archbishop said....
Read it all and note the video link at the bottom for those interested.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Sacramental Theology Baptism
The christening of Prince George has taken place in the Chapel Royal at St James's Palace in London.
The prince, third in line to the throne, was baptised by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The christening was private, with only senior royals, four members of the Middleton family, the seven godparents and their spouses among the 22 guests.
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This was made by one of the children at Christ Saint Paul's Yonges Island, South Carolina, and presented to rector Craige Borrett and myself this morning--KSH.
Almost half of all American women (40%) with children under the age of 18 are the primary or sole source of income in their families, according to a major Pew survey released this year. Back in 1960, the share was just 11%. It is a huge social shift.
Once, American mothers were dubbed "soccer moms". Then, after 9/11, we got to know the "security moms". Today's generation are the "breadwinner moms".
But to lump all these millions of women together is simplistic. This story of financial revolution is really two stories.
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Next week, Prince George of Cambridge is to be christened into the Church of England in a 45-minute ceremony at the Chapel Royal of St James’s Palace. As well as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge: The Queen, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall and members of the Middleton family will be present.
Although godparents have yet to be announced, many have speculated over who the honour could be afforded to. Princess Beatrice, Prince Harry, Pippa Middleton and also some of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s friends from university have been picked out by analysts.
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A 22-year-old woman whose life was spared with the help of a Christian adoption agency after her biological mother was raped has been voted Auburn University's 100th homecoming queen and she is now using her inspiring story to encourage people to adopt.
The young woman, Molly Anne Dutton, was elected homecoming queen by the nation's most conservative student body over the weekend after running on a platform advocating adoption, according to a Yellowhammer News report.
Dutton shared the inspiring story of her biological mother who became pregnant after she was raped while living with her husband in California. Her mother's husband threatened to divorce her if she didn't abort Molly but the brave woman chose a different path.
She chose to get help from Birmingham-based Christian adoption agency Lifeline Children's Services and gave birth to Molly and put her up for adoption.
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There is a new and significant piece of evidence in the social science debate about gay parenting and the unique contributions that mothers and fathers make to their children’s flourishing. A study published last week in the journal Review of the Economics of the Household—analyzing data from a very large, population-based sample—reveals that the children of gay and lesbian couples are only about 65 percent as likely to have graduated from high school as the children of married, opposite-sex couples. And gender matters, too: girls are more apt to struggle than boys, with daughters of gay parents displaying dramatically low graduation rates.
Unlike US-based studies, this one evaluates a 20 percent sample of the Canadian census, where same-sex couples have had access to all taxation and government benefits since 1997 and to marriage since 2005.
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In certain parts of America, the word fiancé does not mean what it used to. I first became aware of this when I was reporting a story in a small town in Wisconsin a couple of years ago and “Bug” Smith, a 50-year-old man who worked as a machinist introduced me to his “fiancée.” I was about to say “Congratulations!” but something stopped me. Their union did not have the air of expectant change about it. From their domestic surroundings, it looked like they lived basically as a married couple already, his boots next to hers by the front door, pictures of kids above the mantel. I later found out they’d been living together for 15 years and had two children.
ince then I have come across this phenomenon dozens of times, almost always in working-class couples, and usually younger ones. Someone will introduce me to his or her fiancé. But what they mean is more like my “steady lady” or my “steady man.” It could mean the person they are living with, or the father or mother of their child. It could also just mean the person they’ve been dating for a long time....
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A group of firefighters is making sure the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy are never forgotten by building playgrounds – 26 of them – each honoring a student or teacher who lost their life.
As they help Newtown families heal, they’re also helping communities rebuild -- because each will be in an area ravaged by Superstorm Sandy.
The idea of a playground "was more than just a structure or a place for kids to play on,” said New Jersey firefighter Capt. Bill Lavin and founder of The Sandy Ground: Where Angels Play. “It was a symbol of hope.”
Watch the whole video report.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Children Education Teens / Youth Violence Young Adults * General Interest Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc.
It is the first time that a royal christening has been marked with coins.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's son will be christened on 23 October, just over three months after his birth.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, will perform the christening at the Chapel Royal at St James's Palace.
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The Church of England has launched a fierce attack on the government, describing limited resources devoted to training religious education teachers as a scandal that is affecting "an essential part" of every child's studies.
In an outburst that reflects the church's deepening unease at the government's perceived lack of support for the teaching of RE, it singled out the education secretary, Michael Gove, for implicit criticism, calling on him to work with religious leaders to improve the level of teaching in what is a core subject in the national curriculum.
The criticism comes as a damning Ofsted report, published... [recently], finds that more than half of all schools have been failing pupils in their religious education, a subject that the watchdog claims is increasingly important "in an ever more globalised and multicultural 21st century" because of the way it promotes respect and empathy.
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The drama program — at Harry S. Truman High School — opened this year with one more deficit: its galvanizing teacher, Lou Volpe, retired in June after more than 40 years showing students in an economically slumped, culturally narrow community how to strive for excellence, grapple with challenging ideas, empathize with people different from themselves and enlarge their notions of who they might become. And he brought their theatrical achievements glowing national attention. Under Volpe’s direction, Truman students presented pilot high school versions of “Les Misérables,” “Rent” and “Spring Awakening” — premieres that would determine whether these shows would become available to high schools generally. (All three triumphed.)
Being available, however, hasn’t made all the plays Volpe directed popular choices at other schools. Part of his success — pedagogical and theatrical — Sokolove suggests, comes from his “edgy” repertory. Not for the sake of sensation, but to engage kids in urgent contemporary social debate, he often selects works that raise the eyebrows, and even occasional ire, of local conservatives who object to frank representations of adolescent sexuality (hetero and homo), addiction, rebellion — the usual flash points in the old culture wars. Of the 25,000-plus high school theater programs in the country, fewer than 150 have produced “Rent.” At Truman, 300 kids — about one in five students there — auditioned for it. As one student tells Sokolove, confronting issues that make people uncomfortable is “one of the big reasons to do theater, right?...”
Sokolove, [once a Harry S. Truman High School student himself] landed in a literature class Volpe taught at the time. “Everyone in life needs to have had at least one brilliant, inspiring teacher,” he states. In Volpe, he found one. Read it all (emphasis mine).
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Whenever I criticize the Wild West ethics of the in vitro fertilization industry, I hear from heartbroken people who tell me they would do “anything” to have a baby. I sympathize with the heartache of childlessness. But the willingness of many to do—and of the IVF industrial complex to sell—anything leads to a “me first” sense of reproductive entitlement.
We already know that IVF is no longer limited to infertile married couples—with women in their sixties even using the technique to get pregnant. Now, the universal condition of having two biological parents is about to be shattered.
The United Kindom’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has approved the use of “three-parent IVF” by which eggs from two women are combined and fertilized, creating an embryo with two biological mothers and one father. The point (for now) is to allow parents with mitochondrial disease to have a biologically related child without passing on their condition.
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Ben Phillips explained to me that when he became the principal of a strong Christian school following his years in Memphis public schools, "I wanted more minority students. I think a big part of the problem is that they were closed out by price." So far, the response of conservative Christians has been to advocate for taxpayer-funded tuition vouchers. That project, however, has been fraught with difficulty both because of perceived church-state issues (a modest legal problem) and the resistance of public school supporters—worried about budgets already—to allow any resources to go to the private school system, which they perceive, correctly, to stand in judgment of their own efforts (a much bigger political problem).
Assuming a continuing deadlock over the issue of school choice, the best answer may be for conservative Christians to find other ways to create greater access to their institutions for those from whom they are suspected of fleeing. It is a burden of history not easily shrugged off, even by generations who did not make the world in which they live. We inherit debts other than the kind governments incur on their balance sheets. But the racial unification of the American church might best begin in the Christian schoolhouse before it takes hold in the Sunday services. It is a home mission (as the Baptists might call it) awaiting a champion and a movement.
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The growth of popular faith schools is often blocked because they are used as an ideological "battleground" says the Church of England's head of education.
The Bishop of Oxford, the Right Reverend John Pritchard blamed secular campaigners for questioning the legitimacy of faith schools.
Bishop Pritchard was writing in a report on faith schools for religious think tank, Theos.
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Now, even if you are the most technophobic parent in the world, surely it is not beyond your capabilities to sit down and have a little chat with the kids about hard cash. Start with just how hard it is to earn it. Don’t pull any punches. Show them the money. Literally show them. If children grow up thinking that money only comes in plastic form, they will never, ever understand its true value.
Next time you drag them along to the supermarket, pay with cash. That will teach them what £100 really looks like.
That’s the easy bit. It’s the technology that is likely to faze us most. When I say technology, I mean the inner workings of whatever game it is your child is playing....
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As some of you may remember, that ad brought to light President Obama’s voting record on infants born alive and the reality of my life as a survivor. As some of you may also remember, that fact check was more like a bias un-check, and although the writer questioned the credibility of my use of the word “discarded” in the ad when describing what it was like for me to survive an abortion and be left to die and was blatantly out to attack that ad and me, scores of people and political commentators from across the nation responded to the Post’s article pointing out the bias of the article and the negative treatment of such a painful experience that my family and I have lived through.
What a difference a year makes.
If Josh Hicks, the fact check writer from the Washington Post, was doing that article now, not only would I have all of the damning evidence about the abortion that I survived that was provided to him last year, including copies of my medical records that reflect the abortion that I survived and the statements by my adoptive parents about what they were told about everything that occurred, but I now also have additional information from a medical professional about the circumstances that surrounded my survival and information from my biological family, whom I’ve been blessed to have enter into my life this year, that further solidifies all that happened thirty-six years ago.
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At the heart of [all these]...critiques is the work of Kathryn Joyce, the self-described “secular, feminist journalist” and author of The Child Catchers, who is again decrying the evangelical adoption movement, this time in the pages of “The New York Times.”
In her article, Joyce again paints the picture of evangelical adoption as a well-intentioned, but misguided, movement that exacerbates corruption and harms children around the world. It is a perspective I was first introduced to after reading Joyce’s “Mother Jones” article (“Orphan Fever: The Evangelical Movement’s Adoption Obsession”). I responded to her article at “On Faith and Culture”:
“In the end, Kathryn Joyce curses the darkness without lighting a candle. She attempts to pour cold water on the Christian adoption movement, but her ideas for actually solving the orphan crisis that now affects more than 100 million children are more than lacking; they’re non-existent. We should expect more from even an unashamedly partisan publication like Mother Jones. Not to mention a writer who recently published a 352-page book on the subject. “
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Since the war started in Syria, the country has slowly disintegrated. More than one-third of hospitals have been destroyed, according to the World Health Organisation. According to Save the Children, 3900 schools have been destroyed, damaged or are occupied for non-educational purposes since the start of the conflict.
Syria today is no place for a child and, outrageously, more than 1 million have already been forced to flee with their families to camps and host communities in neighbouring countries. Those are the lucky ones - thousands upon thousands have already been killed. Where is the outrage?
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of South Africa * Culture-Watch Children Globalization Poverty Violence * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Middle East Syria
In the Christian tradition, we have a certain understanding that loneliness is inevitable and part of the human condition. We're created for complete union with God, but unable to fully consummate that union this side of God's Kingdom. There is an Augustinian element of truth from which we cannot escape no matter how much intimacy we do cultivate. Still, that doesn't seem like a sufficient response for our loneliness predicament. If anything, it's an invitation for Christians to communicate more openly about the challenges of the loneliness we are all bound to experience at various seasons of our lives.
In our age of social media, when new "friends" are a click away on Facebook and Twitter users actively form real-time communities around everything from favorite TV shows to breaking political news, we can easily be led to think that loneliness is an outdated phenomenon. But it is not.
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The US home-ownership rate has dropped to an 18-year-low at about 65 per cent – down from a peak of 70 per cent before the crash – and economists say it is set to fall as low as 60 per cent. Some industry watchers are now asking if the US, after a multi-decade push towards home ownership, is shifting towards being a nation of renters.
“With the housing bubble bursting, the home-ownership rate was always going to drop. In some respects this has been healthy as the country has been reversing some of the excess. Not everybody should have been homeowners,” says Michael Gapen, senior economist at Barclays. “But there is now an open question about where it will settle.”
Read it all (if needed another link may be found there. ).
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France has now joined a global struggle against the sexualization of women, especially girls, in public. On Wednesday [last week], the French upper house of Parliament voted to end beauty pageants for girls younger than 16.
The bill, which must still be approved by the lower house, was introduced to fend off a growing popularity of such pageants but also in response to public outrage over a French Vogue photo spread showing child models in tight dresses, lipstick, and high heels. Many in France were also upset that the company Jours Après Lunes came out with a line of “loungerie” – a mix of loungewear and lingerie – for girls as young as 4.
“Let us not allow our girls to think from a young age that their worth is judged only by their appearance,” said Sen. Chantal Jouanno, a champion of the pageant ban.
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Early in the 20th century, it was easy to predict which flocks of believers would produce the most children — with Mormons reporting the highest numbers, followed by Catholics, then Protestants and so forth as fertility rates declined. But things changed as the century rolled on and America became more pluralistic and, in elite ZIP codes, secular.
After Woodstock and the sexual revolution, it was clear that "what really mattered wasn't what religion you claimed to be practicing, but the degree to which you actually practiced it — especially whether or not you were in a pew week after week," said journalist Jonathan A. Last, author of "What to Expect When No One's Expecting...."
"When it comes to people having what people today consider large families — three or more children — there are two Americas out there," he said, and the division is between those who actively practice a faith, especially a traditional form of faith, and those who do not."
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Evangelical adoptions picked up in earnest in the middle of the last decade, when a wave of prominent Christians, including the megachurch pastor Rick Warren and leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention, began to promote adoption as a special imperative for believers. Adoption mirrored the Christian salvation experience, they argued, likening the adoption of orphans to Christ’s adoption of the faithful. Adoption also embodied a more holistic “pro-life” message — caring for children outside the womb as well as within — and an emphasis on good deeds, not just belief, that some evangelicals felt had been ceded to mainline Protestant denominations.
Believers rose to the challenge. The Christian Alliance for Orphans estimates that hundreds of thousands of people worldwide participate in its annual Orphan Sunday (this year’s is Nov. 3). Evangelicals from the Bible Belt to Southern California don wristbands or T-shirts reading “orphan addict” or “serial adopter.” Ministries have emerged to raise money and award grants to help Christians pay the fees (some $30,000 on average, plus travel) associated with transnational adoption.
However well intended, this enthusiasm has exacerbated what has become a boom-and-bust market for children that leaps from country to country. In many cases, the influx of money has created incentives to establish or expand orphanages — and identify children to fill them.
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A barrage of new statistics on American living standards offers some grounds for optimism. A typical American household’s income has stopped falling for the first time in five years, and the poverty rate has stopped rising. At last, it seems, the expansion is strong enough at least to stabilise ordinary people’s incomes.
But the main message is a grim one. Most of the growth is going to an extraordinarily small share of the population: 95% of the gains from the recovery have gone to the richest 1% of people, whose share of overall income is once again close to its highest level in a century. The most unequal country in the rich world is thus becoming even more so.
You do not have to be an egalitarian to worry about this trend. Although some degree of inequality is good for an economy, creating incentives to work hard and take risks, the recent concentration of income gains among the most affluent is both politically dangerous and economically damaging.
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Dennis Hummer, now 45, met Nancy Hess, now 53, working at a church camp in 1988. Over 18 years of marriage, they learned they wanted to spend their time differently from each other. They divorced after Ms. Hess fell for another man. The couple did not have children, but now Mr. Hummer, who remarried and is now stepfather to two girls, find he loves being a “bonus” dad....
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We have now entered a brave new world, where a pregnancy can be terminated simply because the foetus does not meet an arbitrary set of criteria drawn up by the mother - or the wider family.
This moral revolution has been driven by two forces. One is the invention of ever-more sophisticated scanning techniques and other tests, which allow a comprehensive profile of the baby to be provided before the birth.
The second is the aggressively libertarian interpretation of the 1967 Abortion Act, which means that in this country we now effectively have abortion on demand.
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In his first interview since his son's suicide in April, famed pastor Rick Warren told CNN that he knew his son, Matthew, had bought a gun, dismissed rumors that Matthew was gay and said he doesn't blame God for the tragedy.
"I have cried every single day since Matthew died," Warren said Tuesday in an exclusive interview with CNN.
"But that - that's actually a good thing. Grief is a good thing. It's the way we get through the transitions of life."
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This 47thSocial Week is placed in this perspective, with the preparatory document that preceded it. It intends to offer a testimony and to propose a reflection, a discernment, free of prejudices, as open as possible, attentive to the human and social sciences. As Church we offer first of all a conception of the family which is that of the Book of Genesis, of the unity in difference between man and woman, and of fecundity. In this reality, moreover, we recognize a good for all, the first natural society, as accepted also in the Constitution of the Italian Republic. In fine, we wish to reaffirm that the family, understood thus, remains the first and principal subject builder of the society and of an economy to the measure of man, and as such merits to be actively supported. The consequences – positive and negative --, of the choices of a cultural character, first of all, and political regarding the family touch the different realms of the life of a society and a country: from the demographic problem – which is serious for the whole European continent and, in particular, for Italy, to the other questions regarding work and the economy in general, to the upbringing of children, to those that concern the anthropological view itself which is at the base of our civilization (cf. Benedict XVI, encyclical Caritas in veritate, 44).
These reflections do not just interest believers but all persons of good will, all those who have at heart the common good of the country, precisely as happens with the problems of environmental ecology, which can help very much to understand those of “human ecology” (cf. Id, Address to the Bundestag, Berlin, September 22, 2011). The family is the privileged school of generosity, of sharing, of responsibility; school that educates to overcome a certain individualistic mentality that has gained ground in our societies. To support and promote the family, valuing its fundamental and central role, is to work needed for a just and solidaristic development.
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More Americans are struggling to afford food -- nearly as many as did during the recent recession. The 20.0% who reported in August that they have, at times, lacked enough money to buy the food that they or their families needed during the past year, is up from 17.7% in June, and is the highest percentage recorded since October 2011. The percentage who struggle to afford food now is close to the peak of 20.4% measured in November 2008, as the global economic crisis unfolded.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Dieting/Food/Nutrition Marriage & Family Poverty * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Housing/Real Estate Market Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
The Census Bureau is out with the annual report on incomes and poverty. And while you might think that after years of stagnant incomes and elevated poverty rates, we would be inured to the depressing facts contained therein, it still somehow has the power to shock.
For my money, the most depressing fact about the economy is not the fact that household incomes were basically flat in 2012 (the real median household income was down to $51,017 from $51,100 in 2011, a statistically insignificant change). It wasn't even the fact that 15 percent of the U.S. population was living in poverty, according to the official, flawed definition of the term.
Nah, the most depressing result comes when you look at the longer view of household incomes in the United States.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children History Marriage & Family * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--
While the subject of his fiction has shifted in venue and somewhat in tone, it remains in a generational vein. Speaking of his work, Mr. Coupland explained: "I'm interested in people my age and younger who have no narrative structure to their lives. The big structure used to be the job, the career arc, and that's no longer there. Neither is family or religion. All these narrative templates have eroded."--From a 1994 profile article in the New York Times (emphasis mine)
The invitations are in the mail. Jennifer Beltz and T.J. Gurski of Commerce Township, Mich., are defying the odds — they’re taking the plunge a second time.
“When I got divorced, I said, ‘I’m never getting married again,” says Beltz, 41, who works in marketing.
That sentiment seems to be quite common among those jaded by a failed first union: A new analysis of federal data provided exclusively to USA TODAY shows the USA’s remarriage rate has dropped 40 percent over the past 20 years.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Secularism * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
When American University graduate Elyse Barletta, 27, was looking for a full-time nannying position recently in Charlotte, N.C., three families wanted to hire her—all were impressed by her college education.
"They wanted someone who could help with their children's homework," said Barletta, a history major who made the dean's list and is proficient in French.
Experts say young women like Barletta make up a fast-growing segment of the nanny industry: College graduates who could go into law, medicine or other fields but are choosing to become career nannies, sometimes because they struggled to find jobs in their desired professions. These highly credentialed child-minders are being greeted with open arms into middle-class and upper-class families who want to give their kids an edge in an increasingly competitive world.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Education Marriage & Family Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
One family with several generations of businesses on the Jersey shore wonders how it will rebuild yet again after a fire devastates the boardwalk. NBC’s Brian Williams reports
A great father and son portrait amidst real suffering, the Lord bless them and their community. Watch it all--KSH.
At some point in their lives, one of every three Americans will leave Christianity, according to a 2011 study in the Journal of Religion and Society. Called "leavers," "deconverts," or "ex-Christians," they are targets of fresh concern among church denominations watching their numbers shrink. Pollsters and bloggers tick off reasons why so many are leaving, such as intellectual hurdles to belief, immoral or intolerant church leaders, and profound suffering. But the leavers phenomenon is nothing new. It goes back at least to the parable of the Prodigal Son, told by Jesus and recorded in Luke 15:11–32.
What about the people whom the prodigals leave behind? The ones who love the leavers? The ones left to hold down the forts of remaining families and faith communities? Few theological and practical resources exist for the two out of every three Christians who remain with the Father while they watch their "younger brother" leave.
The biblical parable centers on the relationship between a father and his two sons. But the essence of the story remains the same, whether the prodigal is a child, sibling, spouse, parent, or friend. This is why P. C. Ennis Jr. argues in the Journal for Preachers that "it is crucial that periodically we preach on the Prodigal Son. . . . Like the Easter story and the Christmas story, it bears repeating, for the story of the Prodigal Son is the gospel in capsule."
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Pastoral Care * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Teens / Youth Young Adults * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Soteriology
Humans are social animals. Although we exist as individuals, we do not live in isolation. The need for community is woven into our being: to be human is to be part of a community of individuals. We do not reproduce asexually, but by means of the sexual union of two individuals, male and female, which generates the gift of new humanity. Our marriages are not lone, solitary institutions: we may enter marriage as individuals, but marriage finds its truest expression in the “one-flesh union” that unites a man and a woman as one.
The promise of marriage is the communal benefit it offers society. Where questions arise that purportedly imply exceptions to the conjugal definition of marriage, the tacit assumption behind many such questions is a latent and false conception of individuality—that men and women within a marriage are lone actors who unite for the purpose of marriage, fulfill an act of social obligation, and continue on in singular, non-generative roles as the participants in marriage mature. This version of marriage—one where individuals within a marriage itself define marriage—misses the forest for the trees.
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Millennials—people born between 1981 and the early 2000s—are much closer to their parents than previous generations, and they have gained a reputation for being coddled by so-called helicopter parents, say researchers who study Millennials. But when they started joining the workforce in the early 2000s, managers balked at parents getting involved in their kids' workplace struggles or job searches.
That was then. Now, some firms have begun embracing parental involvement and using it to attract and hold onto talent and boost employee morale.
One of them is Northwestern Mutual. Michael Van Grinsven, field-growth and development director at the Milwaukee-based financial firm, says the company does everything it can to accommodate the parents of college-aged interns, including regularly inviting them to the office for open houses.
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With the anniversary of 9/11 days away, high school and middle school students mostly too young to remember the terrorist attacks gathered on the aircraft carrier Yorktown and met one woman who will never forget.
Melodie Homer is the widow of LeRoy Homer, co-pilot of United Airlines Flight 93, one of four the planes hijacked and crashed by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001.
“For many of us who experienced that day, the word ‘closure’ doesn’t really exist,” said Homer, who now lives in North Carolina with her children.
Read it all from this past's weekend's local paper.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children History Marriage & Family Urban/City Life and Issues Violence * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * South Carolina
Through the eyes of a child--take a look (she was a student at Sequoyah Elementary School).
There are numerous causes of the less-than-satisfying economic growth in America: the retirement of the baby boomers, the withdrawal of working-age men from the labor force, the relentless rise in the inequality of the income distribution and, as I have written about elsewhere, a slowdown in technological innovation.
Education deserves particular focus because its effects are so long-lasting. Every high school dropout becomes a worker who likely won’t earn much more than minimum wage, at best, for the rest of his or her life. And the problems in our educational system pervade all levels.
The surge in high school graduation rates — from less than 10 percent of youth in 1900 to 80 percent by 1970 — was a central driver of 20th-century economic growth. But the percentage of 18-year-olds receiving bona fide high school diplomas fell to 74 percent in 2000, according to the University of Chicago economist James J. Heckman.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Education Globalization History Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Politics in General * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Amid increasing calls for legalization of abortion in Africa, botched cases among young women are on the rise, according to recent reports.
Governments are responding by distributing contraceptives, but the Roman Catholic Church, some Muslim groups and anti-abortion groups are waging their own campaigns against contraception, warning it will further escalate the problem.
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Doctors who agreed to arrange illegal abortions based on the sex of an unborn baby have been told they will not face criminal charges, despite prosecutors admitting that there is enough evidence to take them to court, it emerged on Wednesday night.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) was accused of failing to uphold the law after it ruled that it would not be in the “public interest” to prosecute the two doctors exposed in an undercover Daily Telegraph investigation.
Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, on Wednesday night raised the case with the Attorney General. The two doctors were filmed agreeing to arrange terminations for women who requested them purely because they said they did not want to have a baby girl.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Listen to it all if you so desire.
Filed under: * By Kendall * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch Children Poverty * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Middle East Syria * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
From Childstats.gov and cited in this morning's sermon by yours truly:
Sixty-four percent of children ages 0–17 lived with two married parents in 2012, down from 77 percent in 1980....
The percentage of all births to unmarried women rose from 18 percent of total births in 1980 to 33 percent in 1994. From 1994 to 2002, the percentage ranged from 32 to 34 percent. The percentage increased from 2002 through 2008 and remained stable at 41 percent through 2011.
Between 1980 and 2011, the proportion of births to unmarried women rose for women in all age groups. Among adolescents, the proportion was high throughout the period and rose from 62 to 95 percent for ages 15–17 and from 40 to 86 percent for ages 18–19. The proportion more than tripled for births to unmarried women in their twenties, rising from 19 to 64 percent for ages 20–24 and from 9 to 34 percent for ages 25–29. The proportion of births to unmarried women in their thirties more than doubled, from 8 to 21 percent.
In 2011, the poverty threshold for a two-parent, two-child family was $22,811.
Twenty-two percent of all children ages 0–17 (16.1 million) lived in poverty in 2011, which was not statistically different from 2010 but higher than the 16 percent of all children in 2001.
The percentage of children living in families in extreme poverty rose to 10 percent in 1992, decreased to 7 percent in 1999, and was back at 10 percent in 2011.
Millions of students heading back to school are finding significant changes in the curriculum and battles over how teachers are evaluated, as the biggest revamps of U.S. public education in a decade work their way into classrooms.
Most states are implementing tougher math and reading standards known as Common Core, while teacher evaluations increasingly are linked to student test scores or other measures of achievement. Meantime, traditional public schools face unprecedented competition from charter and private schools.
Supporters say the overhauls will help make U.S. students more competitive with pupils abroad. But others worry that the sheer volume and far-reaching nature of the new policies is too much, too fast. Already, the changes have sparked pushback.
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14 photos in all--they are really fascinating.
Society is "losing the plot" as it becomes more secular and less trusting, the UK's outgoing Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks has said.
Lord Jonathan Sacks told the BBC the growth of individualism over the past 50 years was responsible for a pervasive breakdown in trust.
He highlighted the 2008 financial crisis and the declining marriage rate.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children History Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Judaism * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
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Human beings love rituals. Of course, rituals are at the center of religious practice. But even secularists celebrate the great transitions of life with arbitrary actions, formalized words and peculiar outfits. To become part of my community of hardheaded, rational, scientific Ph.D.s., I had to put on a weird gown and even weirder hat, walk solemnly down the aisle of a cavernous building, and listen to rhythmically intoned Latin.
Our mundane actions are suffused with arbitrary conventions, too. Grabbing food with your hands is efficient and effective, but we purposely slow ourselves down with cutlery rituals. In fact, if you're an American, chances are that you cut your food with your fork in your left hand, then transfer the fork to your right hand to eat the food, and then swap it back again. You may not even realize that you're doing it. That elaborate fork and knife dance makes absolutely no sense.
But that is the central paradox of ritual. Rituals are intentionally useless, purposely irrational. So why are they so important to us?
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Almost a tenth of children are given a mobile phone before age five, new research shows.
A uSwitch.com report found the average child gets their first mobile aged 11 years and eight months – soon after starting secondary school. But more than a million received a phone before they started primary school.
Parents claim they need to give their child a phone as security in case of emergencies and to give themselves peace of mind. However a children’s organisation warned giving a child their own phone could encourage them to become sedentary, wasting time in front of screens browsing social networks, rather than being active at play.
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"It was hard to know where to start after my last album. The song Blessings started as a diary entry and God blew us away by using it in the lives of so many around the world. And as I began to write for my new project "God of Every Story", I went back to that deep place of vulnerability before the Lord, and honesty -- with myself. The path God has led our family down is not one I would have chosen for myself. It has been much harder than I had envisioned, yet it has required deeper faith than I ever thought myself capable of. And that's what God of every story is really about: It’s trusting that the same God who orchestrates the rising and the setting of the sun each day pays the same attention to every detail of my life. It’s believing that at the end of the day, we will look back on this amazing God story that is my life and view it as a beautiful sunset, where the blues and reds, the laughter and tears, all meld together to show the faithfulness of God in a way that makes us stand in applause."
"God of Every Story" is a collection of songs about where God's love and grace intersect with our real life situations. It’s about God working all things together for good and love always winning. It’s a celebration of God's faithfulness, even when we don't always understand His plan this side of heaven. Yet we praise Him because He is the keeper of the stars, the One who holds all things together and always, always, deserves our worship.
Read it all (note there is an excerpt from one of her new songs if you wish to listen) and you can find a Godtube interview to watch there.
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Is 27 the new 18 when it comes to living at your parents' house?
According to the US census Bureau, at least 1 in 4 N.J. adults, ages 18-31 live at home and 42% are 24 or older. Experts call it an "epidemic" of millennials leaching off their parents, but does a bad economy and student loan debt crisis justify the situation?
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--
[The new theme title is in honor of this post this post and in reference to cultural degradation in the "new" world of the West in the 21st century--KSH].
Please not that this article will not be suitable for all blog readers
Would you rather teach your kids that sex is dangerous and forbidden or that it is permissible and... well, awesome? Are you a "responsible-sex-is-good" parent, or more in the "scare-them-silly" camp? It seems logical to me that the same way I try to teach my kids to exercise, sleep well and be good people, I would teach them to have healthy sex and sleep with other good people.
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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
Love and marriage. They’re hitched together, traditionally. But more and more today they’re being forced to lead separate lives.
A good marriage can yield all kinds of emotional benefits, including happiness, companionship, and even better health, according to some studies. Marriage also can serve as a strong economic foundation, with each partner supporting the other’s efforts to provide for the family.
But a new study suggests another, more detrimental link between money and marriage: Joblessness or other economic insecurity leads to fewer marriages. That not only deprives those individuals of the benefits of marriage, in a broader context it deprives society of the benefits of marriage as well.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Housing/Real Estate Market Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
As school counselor Jennifer VonLintel gears up for the start of the school year at B.F. Kitchen Elementary School, there are new students to enroll, files to update and schedules to plan — including the schedule for Copper, her registered therapy dog and a popular presence in the hallways of the Loveland, Colo., school.
Three days a week, the 3-year-old golden retriever's assignments can include mingling with kids during recess, being assigned to students who struggle with reading or math anxiety, and providing general companionship and support in the classroom, during counseling office visits, and during after-school programs. Any time a friendly, furry face can provide an extra measure of comfort and assurance, says VonLintel.
When there's a death in a family or a child receives bad news, "with the parents' permission, we'll introduce Copper to the situation," she says. "Kids find comfort in petting him, and sometimes the parents do, too. "
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Last week, when a Tennessee judge forcibly changed an infant’s name from Messiah to Martin, it was hard to decide which was more noteworthy, the parents’ grandiosity in naming their child for the one they consider their Savior or the judge’s religious zealotry in prohibiting the name.
“The word ‘Messiah’ is a title, and it’s a title that has only been earned by one person and that one person is Jesus Christ,” said Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew.
The American Civil Liberties Union has offered to appeal the ruling for the child’s mother, Jaleesa Martin, of Newport, Tenn., who did not return a phone call. The ruling came in a hearing after Ms. Martin and the baby’s father could not agree on a last name for the boy, but the judge took issue with his first name.
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