Posted by Kendall Harmon

At its recent General Synod the Anglican Church of Canada took the first step in changing its Marriage Canon to allow for the solemnization of same sex marriages by its clergy. The entire process, beginning with the hasty vote in 2013 and concluding with the vote and miscount this past week, has been flawed and has inflicted terrible hurt and damage on all involved. We absolutely condemn homophobic prejudice and violence wherever it occurs, offer pastoral care and loving service to all irrespective of sexual orientation, and reject criminal sanctions against same-sex attracted people.

Though the change to the Marriage Canon would require a second vote in 2019 in order to come into effect, some bishops have vowed to proceed with same sex marriages immediately, contrary to the explicit doctrine and discipline set out in our constitution, canons and liturgies.

In passing resolution A051 R2 the General Synod has taken a further step in ordaining something contrary to God's Word written and imperils our full communion within the Anglican Church of Canada and with Anglicans throughout the world. We believe that our General Synod has erred grievously and we publicly dissent from this decision. Resolution A051 R2 represents a change to the sacrament of marriage inconsistent with the Scriptures and Apostolic Tradition of the Church Catholic and the Book of Common Prayer. This would be a fundamental departure from the faith and teaching held by the majority of the Anglican Communion on the doctrine of marriage. Sadly, this complicates relationships within the Anglican Church of Canada and as a Province with the Anglican Communion.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of CanadaGlobal South Churches & Primates* Culture-WatchGlobalizationMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 15, 2016 at 6:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A notice on a church website, which was removed after The Sunday Times began making inquiries, read: “A ceremony of commitment and blessing . . . Clive will be resigning his post in the church from the day before.”

The notice requested that guests “make a bit of an effort” by bringing “your favourite savoury or sweet dish to share” and suggested bringing “enough [drink] for yourself and maybe a bit extra just in case”.

The service included a blessing from a liturgy originally intended for civil partnerships, beginning: “God the giver of life, God the bearer of pain, God the maker of love, bless, preserve and keep you.”

Larsen said he did not want to embarrass either the Church of England or David Walker, the Bishop of Manchester, by discussing the details of his departure...

Read it all (requires subscription).

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Posted July 24, 2016 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Living as I do just east of Seattle, I’ve been waiting for a magazine to do the definitive profile of Barronelle Stutzman, the Richland, Wash., florist who’s getting sued to the nines for refusing to provide flowers for the wedding of a gay friend (and long-time customer).

Whereas the New Yorker and the Atlantic have sat this one out, the Christian Science Monitor team stepped in. Their Stutzman piece, which ran last week, leans over backward to give the facts linked to the florist’s side of the story, as well as the views of her critics.

It is part of an intriguing series of seven stories on religious liberty and gay rights and it’s the best treatment I’ve seen yet. The lead story discusses how gay rights is pushing many religious Americans into a corner where they feel compelled to support behaviors their faith condemns as immoral. Look for the Russell Moore quote about the sexual revolution not tolerating public dissent and the John Inazu quote about what will happen to our society when faith-based organizations – if stripped of their nonprofit status – cease to provide social services to the hungry, poor and homeless.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 24, 2016 at 11:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I was one of the people moved to tears on the floor of General Synod when the motion to amend the marriage canon failed to achieve the required two-thirds majority in the House of Clergy. I was in shock that, once again, the church had failed to honour the lives of so many people, created in God's image and revealing Christ's love in their loves. I was filled with sorrow that we, as a church, had been unable to follow the leading of the Spirit—because I do not believe that whatever happens on the floor of synod must necessarily be the will of God. God's will and our own interact in ways far more complicated than that.

And then, less than 24 hours later, the story changed. It’s already an old story: one vote, miscounted, tipped the scales, and the just-barely “no” became a just-barely “yes.” It felt like a miracle as my weeping turned into rejoicing.

But, appealing though that story is, it's too simple, too self-congratulatory. The truth of the matter is, almost one-third of the members of synod voted to withhold access to Christian marriage from people who love people of the same gender. That's fewer people than it used to be, but it's still a lot of people. And the people who feel this way use the Bible to justify their position, claiming that it is actually God doing the withholding. And the church, desiring to be inclusive and compassionate, creates space for these arguments to be heard. As a result, LGBTQ2S+ [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Two-Spirited] persons and their friends and family members were subjected, yet again, to hearing people and their relationships called unacceptable; in need of disciplining; against the will of God; unnatural; abominations. They were, once again, required to put themselves on display and to make their pain and suffering available for discussion, and compete in the sad sport of comparing oppressions.

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture


Posted July 23, 2016 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For its modest size and relatively apolitical ethos, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod seems to be having more than its share of days in court. Three years ago the Supreme Court unanimously vindicated one of its congregations in Hosanna-Tabor v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which recognized that churches have broad autonomy over whom they hire. This fall the justices will take up Trinity Lutheran v. Pauley, a dispute over whether states can deny funds to schools with religious affiliations.

Now the synod’s two million members may have reason to anticipate yet another day in court. Last week in Milwaukee the church’s triennial convention passed a resolution, by a 946-89 vote, committing to support “those who have a religious and moral objection to women participating in the selective service system and being subject to a possible draft.” The text of the final resolution built on proposals by more than three dozen congregations, circuits, districts, or commissions of the synod.

That such a measure was even brought to a vote indicates how swiftly the country’s legal and political culture has been changing. A similar proposal mooted only three years ago was dismissed as unnecessary.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureWomen* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 22, 2016 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Anglican Primate of Australia Archbishop Philip Freier has expressed solidarity with Newcastle Anglican Bishop Greg Thompson and his officers before a Royal Commission public hearing in Newcastle on August 2.

Archbishop Freier said evidence of clergy sexual abuse and predatory behaviour in Newcastle that included a former bishop was “shocking and distressing”.

“We express our solidarity with and prayers for Newcastle Bishop Greg Thompson and his officers who have worked diligently to end the culture of abuse and silence within the diocese,” the archbishop said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureSexualityViolence* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 22, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A line has been crossed in Turkey. You had people who were standing up to the military, but once they stopped the soldiers, they didn’t stop themselves. They lost control. And now they feel they can do whatever they want.

This happened in Istanbul, not in Aleppo. In Aleppo, there is no law, there are no rules, there is anarchy. We’re still in Turkey here. You’re a democracy fighter, you have stopped the army, that’s fine. But once you stop the army, once the soldiers give up, you stop and you tell the world, look what we have done. And they didn’t.

I couldn’t sleep last night. I am preparing for anything. It’s not easy for me. This is my home. I shoot conflicts in other countries and then I come back home. But now I’m preparing for anything to happen in my home.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPsychology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeTurkey* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 22, 2016 at 6:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ahead of Monday’s Commons vote on Trident renewal, church leaders from a range of denominations have signalled their opposition to nuclear deterrents.

Speaking in the House of Lords, the Bishop of Chester said it was “not unreasonable at this time to contribute to our ongoing reflection upon why we have a nuclear deterrent at all’.

The Rt Rev Peter Forster went on: “In 1983 there was a report, The Church and the Bomb, in which it toyed with the hope that the UK might in fact unilaterally renounce its nuclear deterrent, but the Church rowed back from that and has never adopted that position, recognising that it was not equipped to reach such a conclusion in such a complex, political set of circumstances as surrounds this debate.

“Clearly today the UK is set upon ordering a new generation of submarines equipped with nuclear missiles, which will renew this country’s nuclear deterrent until 2060 or beyond. I simply express the hope that, during that period, ever greater efforts will be made to reduce the threat to our world from nuclear bombs and that we will continue to keep under review why we are making such significant decisions, which will have an impact into such a far-distant future—a future that will change in ways we cannot anticipate today.”

Read it all.

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Posted July 22, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the face of the sexual revolution, the Christian church in the West now faces a set of moral challenges that exceeds anything it has experienced in the past. This is a revolution of ideas—one that is transforming the entire moral structure of meaning and life. These challenges would be vexing enough for any generation. But the contours of our current challenge have to be understood over against the affecting reality for virtually everything on the American landscape, and furthermore in the West. This revolution, like all revolutions, takes few prisoners. In other words, it demands total acceptance of its revolutionary claims and the affirmation of its aims. This is the problem that now confronts Christians who are committed to faithfulness to the Bible as the Word of God and to the gospel as the only message of salvation.

The scale and scope of this challenge are made clear in an argument made by the British theologian Theo Hobson. As Hobson acknowledges, “Churches have always faced difficult moral issues and they have muddled through.” Some will argue that the challenge of the sexual revolution and the normalization of homosexuality are nothing new or unusual. He says, “Until quite recently I would have agreed,” but he also says, “It becomes ever clearer that the issue of homosexuality really is different.”

Why is this challenge to Christianity different? Hobson suggests that the first reason is what he recognizes as the either/or quality of the new morality. I agree with him that there is no middle ground in terms of the church’s engagement with these hard and urgent questions.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 21, 2016 at 4:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...that is precisely the allure of today's social media: by enlarging our impersonal connections, it seems to free us from those closer, trickier, more personal ones. It lets us choose who we follow, rather than forcing us to have to find a way to live together. It is a fresh manifestation that, as the writer G.K. Chesterton warned, "A big society exists in order to form cliques. A big society is a society for the promotion of narrowness."

I shut down social media because I needed to shut out online distractions and engage with the people, issues, and work right in front of me.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingHealth & MedicinePsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 21, 2016 at 10:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England's "Shared Conversations" program to resolve its divide over the moral and doctrinal issues surrounding the new thinking on homosexuality have failed to take the testimony of Scripture seriously, 32 members of the 1990 Group of General Synod said in a letter sent to the College of Bishops on 17 July 2016. While progressive members of Synod have applauded the facilitated conversations on the new ethics, seeing them as a fair representation of their views, traditionalists have been less sanguine. Some members of Synod boycotted the talks stating that it proceeded from the faulty assumption that the new ethic had equal moral and intellectual value as the church's traditional teachings. Others who participated in the discussions noted it was unbalanced, with a preponderance of "experts" offering progressive views, or putting forward arguments that had long been discredited by scholars and theologians. Questions about the funding of the process have been raised, as some have observed that two members of the staff of Coventry Cathedral's reconcillation center, who led the program, have their stipends paid by the Episcopal Church. Not disclosing these interests would be akin to an employee of Shell Oil addressing General Synod on climate change without stating his personal interest in the issue.

Read it all.

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Posted July 21, 2016 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Over the last few weeks, as children are beginning to accept me and open up to me, I’ve found myself giving dating advice to the group of 8-year-old girls that flock around me. My best advice so far is, ‘If you have a boyfriend, you do actually need to talk to him!’

‘Abi’s dating advice’ has now developed into to sharing Christian values with regard to sex and relationships. These girls are 8 years old and I trained in children’s and family work rather than youth work for a reason, but children are being exposed to what we might class as adult subjects at a younger and younger age. These are issues that need to be addressed.

As I sat down with my scrambled eggs and avocado lunch one day, I began to reflect on this a little more and my heart just began to break for these girls and the society in which they’re growing up. We live in a culture that doesn’t teach ‘love waits’ but one that says its OK to have as many sexual partners as you like as long as you are safe. And this is filtering through to children in primary school.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineReligion & CultureSexuality* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 21, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The ideological split within German politics is essentially about whether the European commission should become more political after Brexit, or less so. Almut Möller of the European Council on Foreign Relations thinktank said: “All parties can see that the situation requires political answers, but that the European commission isn’t up to it – that’s the dilemma.”

Henrik Enderlein, the director of the Jacques Delors Insitut in Berlin, said: “There are two possible roles the European commission could take in the future: either as a strong, political body that can take [the] initiative in key policy areas and during a crisis, or as a technocratic body that merely protects the treaties. At the moment, it is a hybrid of the two, and that has to change.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 21, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Statement from Bishop Ron Cutler in regards to General Synod 2016

The triennial meeting of the General Synod of our church met in Richmond Hill, Ontario from July 7-12 under the theme "You are my witnesses" (Isaiah 43:10)

This General Synod bore witness to many significant developments in the life of our church. Changes made in 2013, made this gathering smaller, with 229 voting members. Our diocesan delegation was made up of 8 members. As always when our church gathers in this forum, it was an opportunity to hear stories about the many forms of partnerships we are engaged in, both national and international, within the Anglican Communion and ecumenically. We reflected on ethical investing and passed motions in support of investing in ways that support a low-carbon economy. We witnessed to the tremendous work of PWRDF and the Anglican Foundation, and much more. Our church witnessed further steps in the process of self-determination of Indigenous peoples within the Anglican Church of Canada and authorized new worship rites. We received and adopted financial statements and made housekeeping changes to governing documents. All of our witness was framed by worship, prayer, time to listen and learn from Anglicans from across the country, and deepen our relationships.

While we celebrated the working out of God's mission in our common life, overshadowing everything was the 'issue' of whether to amend the Canon on Marriage to explicitly allow for the marriage of same sex couples within the church. Members spent time in discussion groups to listen to one another before the legislative session on Monday July 11. There was more than four hours of debate involving 60 speakers, which was emotional, passionate, reasoned, mostly respectful (although sometimes not), bringing: scripture, theology, personal experiences, process and pain, hopes and fears followed an appeal from the Primate to feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in our midst. The vote on Monday night appeared to have defeated the resolution by one vote in the order of clergy. (To be approved the resolution required a 2/3 majority in each order of Synod: lay, clergy and bishops). When the votes were combined 70% of those present had supported the resolution. The following day, when the paper transcript of the electronic vote was released, it was discovered that there were at least two errors in the electronic system. When the errors were corrected and the votes were properly recorded, the required 2/3 majority in the order of clergy was achieved and the Primate declared that the resolution was in fact carried.
Following the correction of vote, Bishop Jane Alexander of Edmonton wrote: "so yesterday the church tipped in one direction, there was pain and hurt and tears and we all needed one another to hold us up, today the church tipped in the opposite direction and there was pain and hurt and tears and we all needed one another to hold us up. Is it possible that God is telling us that we need one another and for a while we got to stand in the place of the 'other'? May we all reflect on the grace we have been shown." The aftermath of this roller coaster of emotions left most members of synod absolutely drained and like them you might be wondering what we are to do now.
First of all, according to the rules of the General Synod, a resolution which changes the doctrine of the church must be passed by two consecutive meetings of the General Synod by the required 2/3 majorities in order to come into force. Between now and then, it is referred to dioceses and ecclesiastical provinces for consultation - not ratification! Therefore, before General Synod meets again in 2019 we will need to engage in a formal consultative process through our Diocesan Synod. Logically this should happen when our Synod meets in May 2017. With the bruises of this highly divisive debate still fresh, I am hoping that we can take the time to speak and listen to one another, together shaping a diocesan response.
The second outcome to be explored is that the General Synod Chancellor advised us, before the debate began, that there was nothing in the existing Canon on Marriage which explicitly prohibited the marriage of same sex couples in the church. Such exclusions are in the preamble to the Canon. With this knowledge, several bishops have announced that they will immediately give permission for clergy in their dioceses, whose conscience allows them, to begin to officiate at same sex marriages. At this moment I am not willing to give a similar permission. However I will be consulting with persons in leadership throughout our diocese during the summer and will write further on this matter in the early fall. I want to remind you that our diocese currently offers the opportunity for the blessing of same sex couples who have been civilly married. The resolution that asked for this guideline, was approved by an overwhelming majority at our Synod in 2011. I realize that not every member of our diocese will support this change and the current provision in the Marriage Canon that protects the conscience of clergy to not officiate at a wedding, will remain. However the vast majority of people and parishes which wrote to me before General Synod were in favour of this change. All the members of our General Synod delegation, respecting their own consciences, voted to approve the canonical change.
This process has been wrenching for our whole church, especially the members of the LGBTQ2+ community. Yet in the midst of all this, I give thanks for many things. First the way that the General Synod has been surrounded and held up in prayer. Second that we have a process, imperfect as it is, to have this conversation. Third for the leadership of our Primate, who was the epitome of grace under pressure and offered a genuine pastoral presence to both 'sides' of the debate. Fourth for a church which has taken seriously the commandment to love one another. Last but not least, for the engagement of the General Synod members from our diocese, who engaged fully in the process with faith and openness.
Having reflected on Isaiah chapter 43 all week, there are several prophetic words of hope that speak into this moment: "I love you" v.4, "Fear not, for I am with you...I will gather you" v.5, "you are my witnesses and my servants whom I have chosen" v.10, and finally from verse 19: "Behold I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?" May the God who still speaks to us, calling us beloved, quelling our fear, gathering us in and sending us out as witnesses to His love, keep us ever mindful of the new things that are spinning forth from God's own heart.

--(The Rt. Rev.) Ron Cutler

(You may find it there among many places).


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Posted July 21, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was bodyguards for opposition leader-turned first Vice-President Riek Machar and Mr Kiir's presidential guards who fought each other, sparking days of violence earlier this month which killed many hundreds of soldiers and civilians.
Bizarrely, both leaders were inside the building at the time, as were the city's press corps - they videoed themselves cowering as the gunfire erupted around them.
As the shooting stopped, the two men gave a joint press conference appealing for calm.
That the fighting continued for the next few days is either a sign they that do not control their troops, or they care more about settling scores than they do about their people.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 21, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Friedrich Engels was a prophet of marriage in the modern age. Monogamous marriage, he declared in The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, published in 1884, is “unnatural,” setting the practical against the genuinely emotional, reducing persons to commodities, and undermining the real possibility for fidelity and happiness. It thus sets the stage for the great class warfare of male against female and parent against offspring. It is “the first form of family to be based not on natural, but on economic, conditions—on the victory of private property over primitive . . . communal property” and ushers in what he describes as the greatest moral advance of mankind: “modern, individual sex-love.”

While the chief motivation for marriage and children had historically been the accumulation and preservation of wealth and property, he argued, modern legal and economic developments allowed passion and desire to be the main motivation. The law in the early modern period increasingly required that marriage be entered into freely by both parties and that both “must stand on a common footing of equal rights and duties.” It is easier, he condescendingly notes, for the impoverished proletariat to enter into such marriages because they have no real property to preserve in marriage and thus can marry solely for love. If love, however, is the chief motivation for entering into a marriage, then “falling out of” love is naturally a good reason to end a marriage, and the wife—until then rarely permitted legally to divorce—should be as free to end it as the husband.

Where are the children in this evolving picture of marriage? Engels argues that in traditional societies, the motivation for having offspring was largely a matter of economics, honor, family lineage, and so on. In modern societies, children no longer confer any necessary economic advantage and instead are clearly a financial burden. The only possible reason to have them now is natural affectivity, and Engels believes this ought to be the sole reason for having a child—indeed, this motivation safeguards children from the logic of capitalist society. Though parents, particularly mothers, have natural affection for their offspring, Engels insists that children are just one of many effects of marriage, all of which are meant to contribute to the couple’s personal fulfillment. He has absolutely no vision of a further social good to which the having of children might be ordered in the absence of economic considerations.

And on precisely that point he proves prophetic....

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 21, 2016 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The recent failed coup attempt in Turkey raises lots of questions, most of which are well beyond the scope of this blog. However, there are two matters that are very much our concern: freedom of thought, conscience and religion and the more general issue of the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeTurkey* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 20, 2016 at 5:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has welcomed a new scheme to allow community groups to directly sponsor a refugee family.

Archbishop Justin Welby said the scheme would allow churches and other civil society groups “to provide sanctuary to those fleeing war-torn places.”

The Full Community Sponsorship scheme was launched today by Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Archbishop Justin Welby at Lambeth Palace.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 20, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Not long ago, my community lost a beloved young member because of his repeated trespassing onto a dangerous train trestle to take selfies. He posted them with the hashtag #liveauthentic. His last time there, he died while trying to outrun the train. (People take such extraordinary measures to get selfies that so-called “selfie-related deaths” are a global phenomenon. Wikipedia now keeps a tally.) For him and for many others, capturing an experience with a photo, video, tweet, or blog post can hold more importance than the actual experience and reflects a phenomenon that the French philosopher Jean Baudrillard called the hyperreal.

In his 1986 book, America, Baudrillard cited the election of a Hollywood actor, Ronald Reagan, to the presidency as evidence of the hyperreal. Hyperreality describes a postmodern, highly technological society in which the lines between the real and simulations of the real become hopelessly (although often purposely) blurred to the point that we can no longer distinguish between reality and imitations of reality. When someone believes that reality TV actually represents real life, or when Coca-Cola—which was originally a simulation of cocaine—gets labeled as “the real thing,” or when we really feel liked by the number of “likes” on Facebook, we’re dealing with the hyperreal.

For example, this month’s release of the mobile app Pokémon Go—a video game using “augmented reality” (blending virtual reality with our actual surroundings)— has police cautioning players to be more mindful of the real world. One girl was hit by a car while walking into traffic and two men fell off an ocean bluff while playing. More generally, cell phone use plays a factor in one in four car accidents. Texting by pedestrians has grown into such a significant public safety concern that cities, campuses, and companies are taking measures to curb emergency room visits and even deaths from those “distracted while walking.” (Full disclosure: I once sprained my ankle walking down a grassy bank while reading email on my Blackberry. I know of what I write.)

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEntertainmentReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 20, 2016 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As for Mrs May, she recently (in her old job as home secretary) raised secularist hackles by the emollient terms in which she announced an 18-month enquiry into the operation of Islamic family law in Britain, led by a distinguished Muslim academic, Mona Siddiqui. The adjudication of divorce and inheritance matters by "sharia councils" does pose a dilemma for many liberal-democratic governments. On one hand, Britain (unlike France) allows people to bequeath their property to anybody they choose, and if they choose to make a will on Islamic principles that is formally speaking a free exercise of this entitlement. On the other, a person who grows up deep inside a traditional Muslim sub-culture may feel under overwhelming pressure to accept the adjudication of family affairs on Islamic lines, so there are questions about how free the choice really is.

For secularists (and for Christians of a more militant hue), Mrs May spoke too mildly when she responded by suggesting that the only problem lay in the abuse of a phenomenon which was in itself neutral or benign. What she said, inter alia, was: “Many British people of different faiths follow religious codes and practices, and benefit a great deal from the guidance they offer. [However] a number of women have reportedly been victims of what appear to be discriminatory decisions taken by Sharia councils, and that is a significant concern."

Secularists immediately retorted that some aspects of Islamic family law (for example giving a woman half the inheritance rights of a man, and making it much easier for a man to initiate divorce) are intrinsically discriminatory; the problem lies in the rules, not in their unfair application.

But for someone of Mrs May’s background, there can be no rush to judgment. More than her secularist colleagues, she finds it self-evident that some groups in society can find comfort in “codes and practices” as well as texts, rituals and traditions which seem alien to outsiders.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 20, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The discerning citizen needs to be able to make an ethically informed choice as to what they spend their time and money on. If a game encourages players to collaborate and practice making empathetic choices, and connects people in mutually beneficial ways that may result in flourishing and a sense of community, then that's positive.

Adorno's point is that our mass culture reflects the society in which we live and its values. If we are looking to transform the banality of the everyday into something playful and imaginary, this may be a healthy form of catharsis. But if we're not happy and instead feel stressed and in desperate need of constant escape, then we need to look more deeply at what values our society is perpetuating.

Although Adorno's criticisms of mass produced cultural objects has been dismissed as reactionary, he makes a point worth noting. Adorno hopes that we will be critical as opposed to passive citizens and this goal is vitally important in today's media-infused society. In our fast-paced world of multi-media information sources, we require an updated mode of interaction whereby we can critically engage with these technologies. Transferable thinking skills, such as those honed by the study of philosophy, may be one good place to start.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEntertainmentPsychologyMental IllnessScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 20, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

​Zosima/Dostoyevksy then pushes the idea further:
But when he knows that he is not only worse than all those in the world, but is also guilty before all people, on behalf of all and for all, for all human sins, the world’s and each person’s, only then will the goal of our unity be achieved. For you must know, my dear ones, that each of us is undoubtedly guilty on behalf of all and for all on earth, not only because of the common guilt of the world, but personally, each one of us, for all people and for each person on this earth.
This suggests that, in some sense, we are responsible for police brutality; for the decay of the inner city; for police shootings; for lack of sympathy with law enforcement; for politicians and social activists, left and right, that have inadvertently fostered a culture of violence; and so on—“for all people and for each person on this earth.”

To be honest, I don’t quite know what this fully means. We are so locked into an individualistic worldview, that Dostoyevsky’s idea is hard to grasp. But I sense he’s on to something, and we hyper-individualistic Christians would be wise to heed it.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 20, 2016 at 5:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In these difficult times, we must reject these false choices. Acknowledging that black life has historically been devalued does not inherently devalue the lives of others. Advocating for more and better community policing can happen in a manner that doesn’t marginalize law enforcement. Bearing witness to the legacy of racial division in our community does not undermine the necessary steps toward progress. It is possible to deplore and mourn the conditions surrounding the death of Mr. Sterling and those of Officers Jackson, Gerald and Garafola. We can oppose unnecessary, excessive force just as zealously as we oppose violence against the police.

Officer Jackson not only understood this as a black male police officer, he modeled it for us. In a Facebook post from July 8 he wrote:
I’m tired physically and emotionally. Disappointed in some family, friends, and officers for some reckless comments…. I swear to God, I love this city but I wonder if this city loves me. In uniform I get nasty, hateful looks and out of uniform some consider me a threat…. I’m working in these streets so any protesters, officers, friends, family or whoever if you see me and need a hug or want to say a prayer, I got you.
That quotation was shared with me in the initial hours after the shooting. Before the news released the names of the officers, friends of the families were hearing through social media. Upon learning of his death, a friend showed me Officer Jackson’s Facebook page. My friend described him as a “true community police officer.” Officer Jackson’s haunting comments caution us against reductionist thinking. He openly wrestled with his identity as a police officer and a black man. He called on his family and his colleagues to not let hate infect their hearts. He understood the complexities of the moment. He set the example for how we all must proceed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireRace/Race RelationsViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 19, 2016 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Couples who struggle to conceive a child are sometimes given the option of using a donated embryo. In the US this is commonly referred to as "embryo adoption", particularly at Christian clinics, where it is regarded as saving a life - and where the future parents may have to be married and heterosexual to be eligible for treatment.

When Jennifer and Aaron Wilson found they could not get pregnant, they knew exactly what they wanted to do.

The couple from North Carolina had the choice of starting in vitro fertilisation (IVF), in which mature eggs are fertilised with sperm in a laboratory. Or they could have tried to adopt a child already in need of a home.

Instead they applied to a specialist Christian fertility clinic in Knoxville, Tennessee - the National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC) - which promised to help them "adopt" an embryo.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 19, 2016 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The affirmation culture of pop psychology has made its way into the theological academy, at least at mainline Protestant seminaries. We are told that we can be the leaders who will fix the church and that all of our snazzy ideas are totally going to work, indeed, that they are “prophetic” (please stop using that word to describe anyone you know).

Of course, the problem with this system is that then our seminaries send these “prophetic” newly ordained people into actual churches with actual lay people. And the ability of lay people to spot bad ideas is very strong. This combination usually makes for a painful, short marriage. One need only glance at the numbers of clergy who last less than five years in parish ministry to know that perhaps that professor was right. Maybe we are all idiots for wanting to do ministry in churches; the smart ones got out ahead of time.

Or maybe our seminaries could do better by the people they are training. Why are we not telling people in seminary that if they do not want serve in churches then they should not be pursuing ordination? I understand the practical reasons (mostly money), but I am astonished that we do not see the negative endgame for the church, not to mention the damage it does to the individual paying for an education: Paying student loans for a ministerial education that proved worthless is a sure and certain path to embitterment.

When I was in seminary, I remember having an endless number of conversations with people in their 20s who wanted to be ordained but classified themselves as “just not sure” about the church. Most of them were interested in academics. I wonder how many professors of systematic theology or biblical studies we will need in the future. According to the flood of people in our seminaries, I am guessing 4 million.

I would suggest that our seminaries are inadvertently devastating our churches. Most people who are ordained do end up in some kind of ordained ministry at some point in their career. However, if they have been encouraged and you are so special-ed through seminary, then it seems perfectly logical to them that they can make their living being an urban garden planter who occasionally talks about Jesus.'

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySeminary / Theological EducationSoteriology

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Posted July 19, 2016 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) head Jackson ole Sapit has decried the rise in crime rate.
He said widespread insecurity had led to fear and despondency among citizens. Archbishop Sapit said the poor feel insecure while the rich fear being robbed or attacked by criminal gangs, which operate freely. "The Kenyan society is at a crossroads. Husbands are massacring their wives, wives killing their spouses, police shoot indiscriminately and kill their colleagues and those in their custody," said the archbishop.
Speaking at St. Thomas Cathedral in Kerugoya town when he launched Pillar Television Station, Sapit attributed the trend to emerging social challenges which most Kenyans are not able to overcome.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Kenya* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsViolence* International News & CommentaryAfricaKenya* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 19, 2016 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Throughout his life, Franklin – now 50 and living in Portland, Oregon – has never chosen one. In fact, he’s never had a monogamous relationship in his life, even while he was married for 18 years. “Monogamy has never connected with me, it’s never made sense to me,” said Franklin, who took two dates to his high school prom and lost his virginity in a threesome.

Yet it wasn’t until the 1990’s that he found the language to describe his lifestyle. Until then, he just considered himself “open”.

Polyamory is the practice of intimate relationships involving more than two people with the consent of everyone involved. In recent years, polyamory is working its way to becoming a household term. Researchers have estimated that 4 to 5% of Americans practice some form of consensual non-monogamy. A 2014 blog post by Psychology Today revealed that 9.8 million people have agreed to allow satellite lovers in their relationships, which includes poly couples, swinging couples and others practicing sexual non-monogamy.

And in Portland – home to swingers’ clubs, the most strip bars per capita, and annual porn festivals – it seems you can’t throw a stone without finding a poly relationship.

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenPsychologySexuality--PolyamoryUrban/City Life and IssuesWomen* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted July 19, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Now that he is dead — killed by police minutes after the rampage he carried out on his 29th birthday — much of what is known about Long comes from his vast online trail, where he fashioned himself as a lifestyle guru and activist with fans who were aching to know his life story.

As racial tensions escalated nationwide with the police shootings of black men this month in Louisiana and Minnesota, and the killings of five police officers in Dallas, Long's messages grew more pointed.

“I’m not gonna harp on that, you know, with a brother killing the police,” Long said in a video uploaded the day after the Dallas shootings. “You get what I’m saying?”

“It’s justice,” he said. In the same video, he seemed to hint at his own plans: If “anything happens to me … don't affiliate me with anybody.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FirePsychologyRace/Race RelationsViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 19, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In his late twenties, Trump began attending Marble Collegiate Church on Fifth Avenue. Founded in 1628 in the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, Marble Collegiate is one of the few institutions that survives from the city’s founding. Peter Minuit, the governor of New Amsterdam, was the first church elder, and Peter Stuyvesant, the colony’s director general, led worshippers to service every Sunday. The high steeple of its current home, erected in 1854, rises two hundred feet above the pavement, a symbol of uprightness set in stone. Here Trump walked down the aisle after exchanging vows with Ivana and heard the sermons of Norman Vincent Peale, a man whose philosophy would become Trump’s own.

When Trump met him, Peale was already famous as the author of The Power of Positive Thinking, a book that would go on to sell some five million copies. Peale occupied a position at the center of the establishment, though this standing was endangered in 1960, when he joined a group of 150 Protestant pastors, including Billy Graham, that wanted to keep Kennedy out of the White House. The group issued a manifesto asking whether a Catholic could be trusted as president when Rome had shown such “determined efforts . . . to breach the wall of separation of church and state.” Peale led the public presentation of the document and faced an immediate backlash from Union Theological Seminary’s Reinhold Niebuhr and John Bennett, who accused him of “blind prejudice.” The embarrassed Peale apologized and from then on sought to distance his teaching from the harsh realities of politics.

Before Trump made his own foray into politics, he read Peale’s book and adopted its program of “positive thinking.” The two men began to trade public compliments. Peale, always generous in his assessments of human nature, said that Trump had a “profound streak of honest humility.” Trump, not exactly showing that humble streak, said that Peale “thought I was his greatest student of all time.” In a certain sense, Trump was right. Peale has had no more perfect disciple.

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted July 18, 2016 at 2:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The church’s executive pastors met with Noble “over the course of several months” to discuss their concerns about his dependence on alcohol, which eventually resulted in his removal.
“In my opinion, the bible (sic) does not prohibit the use of alcohol, but it does prohibit drunkenness and intoxication,” Noble wrote to his congregation of 18 years. “I never had a problem drinking alcohol socially, but in the past year or so I have allowed myself to slide into, in my opinion, the overuse of alcohol.
“This was a spiritual and moral mistake on my part,” Noble wrote, “as I began to depend on alcohol for my refuge instead of Jesus and others.”
Noble’s addiction—and his church’s concern—are not new. Nearly one in five pastors report that they have struggled with addiction to alcohol or prescription drugs, according to a 2013 survey by Barna Group.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchAlcoholismHealth & MedicinePsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 18, 2016 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

About 2,000 members made the warm walk across the NewSpring Church parking lot in Anderson for each worship service Sunday morning.

Few were fully braced for the news that awaited: Perry Noble, the only senior pastor the church has known, has been removed from his duties for personal issues related to alcohol by the church's leadership team.

Williamston Town Councilman Rockey Burgess said the news "did come as a shock" in the 9:15 a.m. service, even though recent rumors had prepared him to a degree.

"But the church isn't made up of the preacher, and the church doesn't worship the preacher," he said. "The church is the people who go there, and we all love one another."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchAlcoholismReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 18, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Joining me for more on this is our managing editor Kim Lawton and Lisa Sharon Harper of the Christian social justice group Sojourners. She’s the author of the new book The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right.

LISA SHARON HARPER: Thank you.

ABERNETHY: On your list of things that need to be done, what’s first?

09HARPER: Number one, we need to deal with the unconscious beliefs that we have about each other. You see, our society is structured according to those beliefs—in fact you go back to Plato, Western civilization, Plato told us back in 360 BC we should structure the republic according to race. But it wasn’t colorized at that point. We colorized it, and then we created a slave-based, race-based slavery system that structured the way we encountered the world. And it creates biases.

KIM LAWTON: And you think though that that’s still having an impact? We’re well beyond slavery now...

HARPER: So imagine 254 years walking around in society and seeing black people in chains, confined in small spaces with overseers. Then another 100 years you see them swinging from trees—this is how criminals are treated in Europe. This is how we came to understand and see black people. And now, when an officer encounters a black person in a car, you actually—he responds to them as if they’re criminal before even meeting them, before listening to their voice.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 18, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In December 2014, a middle-aged man driving a car in Dijon, France, mowed down more than a dozen pedestrians within 30 minutes, occasionally shouting Islamic slogans from his window.

The chief prosecutor in Dijon described the attacks, which left 13 injured but no one dead, as the work of a mentally unbalanced man whose motivations were vague and “hardly coherent.”

A year and a half later, after Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel slaughtered dozens of people when he drove a 19-ton refrigerated truck through a Bastille Day celebration on Thursday in Nice, France, the authorities did not hesitate to call it an act of Islamic terrorism. The attacker had a record of petty crime — though no obvious ties to a terrorist group — but the French prime minister swiftly said Mr. Lahouaiej Bouhlel was “a terrorist probably linked to radical Islam one way or another.”

The age of the Islamic State, in which the tools of terrorism appear increasingly crude and haphazard, has led to a reimagining of the common notion of who is and who is not a terrorist.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 17, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop Melvin Talbert, retired from the Western Jurisdiction, said he wasn’t sure he would ever live to see the day when the church would elect an openly gay bishop.

“This means our church — at least part of our church — has finally come to the realization that there is no longer any place for exclusion. We are all children of God regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or abilities. We would be blessed to invite all God’s people to their rightful place at the table.”

In a statement issued following Oliveto’s election, Bishop Bruce R. Ough, president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, said, “This election raises significant concerns and questions of church polity and unity.”

Ough clarified that the Council of Bishops does not have constitutional authority to intervene in the election, but “is monitoring this situation very closely.”

He acknowledged that some in the church will view this election as a violation of church law and a significant step toward a split, while others will consider it a milestone toward being a more inclusive church.

“Our differences are real and cannot be glossed over, but they are also reconcilable,” Ough said. “We are confident God is with us, especially in uncharted times and places.”

Read it all from UMNS.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

4 Comments
Posted July 17, 2016 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“The decisions you think are most important turn out not to matter so much after all. But whether you mail the letter, the way you say goodbye or decide not to say it, the afternoon you cancel everything and drive out to the beach to watch the tide come in – these are apt to be the moments when souls are won or lost, including quite possibly your own.”
--Frederick Buechner A Room Called Remember ( New York: HarperOne, 1992) p.149


Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooks* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 17, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The worst plenary session of all was the first one, and it was very telling that what many view as the most important theological question—what does Scripture say and how should we make sense of it—was the one most badly misjudged. I don’t think it is an exaggeration to describe it as an absolute travesty of process. There were three speakers, one of whom supports the current teaching position of the Church, the other two arguing for change. The first person stayed within the brief, and spoke for seven to eight minutes; the second appeared to ignore the brief and spoke for 17 minutes, without intervention from the chair; the third spoke for 12 minutes. So we were offered 8 minutes on the Church’s current and historic teaching, and 29 minutes on why this was wrong. And the dynamic of putting the ‘orthodox’ position first meant that, as in all such debates, the advantage is handed to the others. Added to that, the first speaker, whilst eminently qualified in other ways, was not a biblical scholar, whilst the next one advocating change was. There was no voice from a Catholic perspective, engaging with the reception of Scripture within the tradition, and the ‘orthodox’ view was repeatedly labelled not as the Church’s teaching, but as ‘conservative’.

Even worse than that was the content of the second and third presentations, and the way the format prevented proper interrogation of the claims made. It was claimed that the givenness of sexual orientation is the settled view of Western culture, when it is contested both within and outside the church, is not supported by social-scientific research, and has been abandoned as a basis of argument in secular LGBT+ debate. It was claimed that all the texts in the NT referring to same-sex activity are in the context of porneia, ‘bad sex’, which was either commercial or abusive—which is a basic factual error. It was claimed that St Paul ‘could not have known of stable same-sex relations’ which is not supported by the historical facts. And it was claimed that same-sex relationships were the ‘eschatological fulfilment of Christian marriage’ since they involved loving commitment without procreation. It was not even acknowledged that many in the chamber would find that a deeply offensive assertion, quite apart from its implausibility. But the format of the presentation precluded proper exploration of these authoritative claims. It felt to me like a serious power play, and I felt I had been subject to an abuse of expert power.

All this was made worse when one of the key organisers, having picked up some negative feedback on this, stood up near the end of the day to tell us (in essence) that if you thought this first session was unbalanced, then you were wrong. It confirmed a basic lack of understanding of the concerns raised by those responsible for the process—concerns not of some extreme group at one end of the spectrum, but concerns of those who simply believe in the Church’s current teaching position.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted July 16, 2016 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Christian church now finds itself facing a new reality. The church no longer represents the central core of Western culture. Though outposts of Christian influence remain, these are exceptions rather than the rule. For the most part, the church has been displaced by the reign of secularism.

The daily newspaper brings a constant barrage which confirms the current state of American society. This age is not the first to see unspeakable horror and evil, but it is the first to deny any consistent basis for identifying evil as evil or good as good.

The faithful church is, for the most part, tolerated as one voice in the public arena, but only so long as it does not attempt to exercise any credible influence on the state of affairs. Should the church speak forcefully to an issue of public debate, it is castigated as coercive and out of date.

How does the church think of itself as it faces this new reality? During the 1980s, it was possible to think in ambitious terms about the church as the vanguard of a moral majority. That confidence has been seriously shaken by the events of the past decade.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 15, 2016 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Faith-based colleges—and religious liberty broadly—face an uncertain future in California. State legislators in Sacramento are considering a bill called the Equity in Higher Education Act, ostensibly to prohibit religious schools from discriminating against students. Yet it would actually create legal ambiguity, forcing judges to wade into the murky waters of theology to disentangle true religious belief from discriminatory animus.

The bill will be put before the California state Assembly Appropriations Committee in August. If enacted, it could spark similar efforts around the country. Yet instead of regulating the internal affairs of religious institutions, California could simply require them to be clear about their rules. This compromise would protect religious liberty, avoid dangerous legal ambiguity and prevent discrimination.

Under current California law, religious colleges that receive state funds can be exempt from antidiscrimination laws. Institutions qualify for exemptions if they are “controlled by a religious organization” and if application of antidiscrimination laws “would not be consistent with the religious tenets of that organization.” This is what allows faith-based colleges to, for example, enforce a code of conduct that bans same-sex relationships.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 15, 2016 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

....it would be very useful if our political leaders felt able to speak the name of the actual cause for which all those murderous guns and knives and cars are being deployed. Perhaps that is too much to hope.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureTravelViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaTunisiaEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 15, 2016 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Nuer community in Uganda have condemned renewed fighting in the South Sudanese capital, Juba, between two rival forces from Friday and Monday, describing it as violation of the August 2015 peace agreement.

The community members said the recent violence in the country is likely to increase more suffering for local citizens and places the country to uncertain future or “great danger.”

They also blamed the international community in general and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in particular, that mediated the peace process, for not monitoring its implementation and putting pressure on violators.

Stephen Bar, chairman for the Nuer community in Kiryandongo resettlement camp in Uganda, told Sudan Tribune that what had happened in South Sudan this week was threatening the peace agreement.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South SudanUganda* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 15, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The new Prime Minister Theresa May has said that her Government will give back control to the poor, the stigmatised, and the vulnerable in the UK, and will be driven by the interests of the people, as she succeeded David Cameron as the leader of the Conservative Party and became the second woman to lead the UK.

Speaking outside 10 Downing Street for the first time as Prime Minister on Wednesday evening, she praised Mr Cameron’s “one nation Government” and said that she would work towards the union, “not just of the nations of the United Kingdom, but of citizens, wherever we are or whatever we’re from”.

The Government will not just be led by the “privileged few” but for every one of us, she said: “Together we will build a better Britain.”

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 15, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If there is one certainty, it is that there will be lawsuits. Within days of Bill C-14 being adopted, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association launched a constitutional challenge, saying the “reasonably foreseeable” clause is discriminatory. A group of Christian doctors has challenged the requirement in Ontario that physicians who have a “conscientious objection” to providing assisted death themselves must, minimally, refer patients to another physician who will. (Quebec resolved this debate by allowing objecting physicians to refer to a neutral third party, to a hospital administrator who will, in turn, find a physician who will carry out a patient’s final wishes.)

Almost all of Canada’s 110 Catholic hospitals have also indicated that they will refuse to provide assisted dying, something that will be particularly problematic in small centres with a single hospital.

Quebec law – like federal law – requires a patient to be terminally ill to be eligible for assisted death. It also requires two physicians to sign off on the request, though at the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM), a nurse can provide the second signature. This rule change came because doctors appeared to be rejecting many legitimate requests.

Read it all and if necessary another link is there.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 14, 2016 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Here is statement one and there is statement two.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 14, 2016 at 3:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“I shuddered when I heard Eric Garner saying ‘I can’t breathe.’ I wept when I watched Walter Scott turn and run away and get shot and killed from the back. And I broke when I heard the 4-year-old of Philando Castile’s girlfriend tell her mother, ‘It’s OK. I’m right here with you,’ ” said Scott, referencing three of the dozens of black men killed by policemen over the past two years.

Scott found an outlet for his pain in a series of scheduled floor speeches this week aimed at starting an honest, if also difficult, conversation about race relations in the United States. His first speech Monday focused on how the wrongful actions of police officers should not overshadow the heroism of others. On Wednesday, Scott expounded on the theme in deeply personal terms.

“While, thank God, I have not endured bodily harm, I have felt the pressure applied by the scales of justice when they are slanted,” he said. “I have felt the anger, frustration, sadness and humiliation that comes with feeling like you’re being targeted for nothing more than being yourself.”

In addition to sharing his own experiences being profiled by law enforcement because of his skin color, he mentioned his brother, a sergeant major in the Army, who was accused of stealing his Volvo on a road trip from Texas to Charleston. He also spoke of a former staffer who was stopped so many times he felt compelled to buy a different automobile to avoid further scrutiny.

Read it all and take them time to watch the whole speech.

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Posted July 14, 2016 at 12:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Archbishop Justin Welby: My Lords, having been in the South Sudan twice in the last two years and in Kenya a week ago, is the Noble Lord the Minister encouraging the government of Kenya to use the powers it has in its own area – as most of the leaders of South Sudan have their families, their farms, their education of their children in Kenya – to use that pressure to encourage them to observe their ceasefire? And what is Her Majesty’s Government doing to support the work of the peace and reconciliation commission led by the Anglican Archbishop of South Sudan and Sudan?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South SudanEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 14, 2016 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

America’s widening income divide is contributing to the rise of unmarried parents, new research shows.

A study led by Andrew J. Cherlin, professor of public policy at Johns Hopkins University, finds men and women in counties with greater income inequality were less likely to marry before having a child. The finding pertained mostly to those who hadn’t graduated from college.

Prof. Cherlin and his co-authors concluded that a lack of jobs in the middle of the labor market was the main reason these young adults were delaying marriage and moving straight to having children. The paper was published in the American Sociological Review.

Read it all from the WSJ.

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Posted July 14, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

All eyes have turned to Britain's vote to leave the European Union as having the most drastic political and economic impact onto the 28-nation state but if you look at the country's economic data, bank issues, and the impending constitutional referendum coming up, Italy is like a bomb waiting to explode.

The Italian financial system, which to put it gently, is in a major state of flux right now. While Britain's EU referendum in June was seismic in terms of having economic and political repercussions across the bloc, there is another referendum of equal importance, coming up in Italy in October, and the result could fundamentally alter the state of the already delicate Italian economy.

Italians will have a say on reforms to its Senate, the upper house of parliament, in October. The proposed reforms are widespread, and if approved could improve the stability of Italy’s political set up and allow Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to push through laws aimed at improving the country’s economic competitiveness.

Read it all and make sure to take a careful look at the productivity graph.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeItaly* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 13, 2016 at 12:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was at that point that Mr. [J P] Copeland, the person supporting the electronic voting, discovered that it was in fact my own vote as General Secretary that had been overlooked in the electronic count. Initially, we thought that it had been miscoded as a lay vote, rather than as a clergy vote. We have since been provided, by Mr. Copeland, the list from which the electronic voting was coded, a list prepared by my office. That list described the General Secretary as “clergy, non-voting”. Data-on-the-spot simply coded the information that my office gave them. This error took place in my office, and I take responsibility for it. We were more than well-served by Data-on-the-spot. In fact, without Mr. Copeland’s prompt attention, I am not sure that we would have discovered the nature of the error and had a chance to understand and correct it.

That error was then shared with the assessors, who provide procedural advice to chancellor. In this case the advice we sought was about the proper procedure to inform the synod of this error. They gave the immediate and unanimous advice that it was the role of the chancellor to provide this information. We returned to the head table and the chancellor informed synod of the failure to count one vote.

After a period of some consternation, the Primate in his role as president of General Synod verbally reviewed the chancellor’s new information. Based on that information, he declared that the motion had received, in all three orders, the majority required by the constitution, and that the motion had been passed.

Read it all from Michael Thompson.

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Posted July 13, 2016 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A French company that dismissed a Muslim woman for wearing a head scarf when dealing with clients unlawfully discriminated against her, according to an advisory opinion that the European Union’s highest court released on Wednesday.

The opinion — while not the final word in the case — was the latest intervention in a debate in Europe over the role of Islam in public life and the challenge of integrating foreigners, an issue that has gained resonance in recent years with the large influx of refugees and asylum seekers, many of them from Muslim countries. The question of religion in the public sphere is particularly fraught in France, which has a strong tradition of secularism.

In the advisory opinion, Eleanor Sharpston, an advocate general with the European Court of Justice, sided with the Muslim woman, Asma Bougnaoui, who lost her job with Micropole, a French information technology consultancy, in 2009 after she refused to abide by the company’s request that she remove her head scarf when meeting with clients. She took her case to a French court, which referred it to the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice.

Read it all.

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Posted July 13, 2016 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992 protects those alleging non-statutory offences as well as statutory offences and also protects against "jigsaw identification" where members of the public can piece together clues about a complainant's identity.

[Paul] Butler says: "As you will understand, extreme caution is required, particularly in view of the information already in the public domain. It worth stressing that although Carol has shared some details publicly, she has not waived confidentiality in those she has not shared."

Butler says he is "mystified" how the group can believe the Church can disclose documents provided by Carol's solicitor. "On a wider point, it is singularly unattractive to suggest that because there might be no legal consequences to breaching Carol's confidence, the Church should simply provide sensitive material to a group of individuals with a keen interest in but no connection with the case."

Carol has already expressed herself hurt by the campaign to "clear his name" as it implies that she has not been believed, Butler says.

Read it all from Christian Today.

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Posted July 13, 2016 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




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8 Comments
Posted July 12, 2016 at 3:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One of the real tragedies today is that the Church as a whole has not furthered God’s light, equity, love and principles in our land in order to be a positive influence and impact for good in the midst of darkness, fear and hate.

Far too often, we have limited the definition of the Church. While not in all cases, in many cases, “Church” has become an informational, inspirational weekly gathering rather than the group of people that God has ordained from heaven to operate on his behalf on Earth in order to bring heaven’s viewpoint into history. There needs to be a recalibrating of many of our churches to the unified purpose of the Kingdom of God.

The Church and only the Church has been given the keys to the kingdom, so we have unique access to God that nobody else has. It’s about time more churches start using those keys to unlock doors, so that we get greater heavenly intervention in our earthly catastrophe. This is not to negate or downplay the great work countless churches have done throughout time in our land. I applaud and am grateful for all of it. What we have been ineffective at, though, is a unity that increases our impact on a larger collective level. When we unite as so many churches did during the civil rights movement, we can bring hope and healing where we as a nation need it most.

Read it all.

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Posted July 12, 2016 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Church leaders failed to give police incriminating evidence about disgraced former Bishop Peter Ball in 1993, according to Sussex police documents.

Ball, 84, was jailed last year for sex assaults on 18 teenagers and young men in the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

Files obtained by the BBC indicate Lambeth Palace received six letters detailing indecency allegations shortly after an arrest in 1992.

Ball was cautioned but worked in churches and schools for 15 more years.

Read it all.

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Posted July 12, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Normally, nations pull together after tragedy, but a society plagued by dislocation and slipped off the rails of reality can go the other way. Rallies become gripped by an exaltation of tribal fervor. Before you know it, political life has spun out of control, dragging the country itself into a place both bizarre and unrecognizable.

This happened in Europe in the 1930s. We’re not close to that kind of descent in America today, but we’re closer than we’ve been. Let’s be honest: The crack of some abyss opened up for a moment by the end of last week.

Blood was in the streets last week — victims of police violence in two cities and slain cops in another. America’s leadership crisis looked dire. The F.B.I. director’s statements reminded us that Hillary Clinton is willing to blatantly lie to preserve her career. Donald Trump, of course, lies continually and without compunction. It’s very easy to see this country on a nightmare trajectory....I’m betting the local is more powerful, that the healthy growth on the forest floor is more important than the rot in the canopy. But last week was a confidence shaker. There’s a cavity beneath what we thought was the floor of national life, and there are demons there.

Read it all.

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Posted July 12, 2016 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop Dennis Drainville, diocese of Quebec
We were really prepared for any eventuality, but to lose by one vote was beyond anything I could ever imagine.

The church will live through this, but for the next few days it will be very hard for many people. It’s going to take some time to get our heads cleared about what steps we need to take, moving on from here.

Q: Were you surprised that the Order of Bishops wasn’t the stumbling block?

I was surprised, but we knew it would be very close; we knew we had over 50% of bishops who were in favour of this. It was a surprise that we had the two-thirds majority.

Read it all.

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Posted July 12, 2016 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is time my friends. It is past time.

When the vote was announced I was extremely disappointed. However it is also true that a very significant majority (70%) of General Synod delegates have voted in favour of authorizing same sex marriages. This is good news. Unfortunately, a change to Marriage Canon XXI will not happen at this time. While a strong majority voted in favour in each of the orders of Bishops, Clergy and Laity, the two-thirds threshold required in the Order of Clergy for changing a Canon fell short by one vote.

It is now up to and within the authority of a diocesan bishop to respond in a manner that they deem appropriate.

It is my intention, in consultation with and in partnership with a number of other diocesan bishops to proceed with same sex marriages immediately within the Diocese of Ottawa. While no clergy will be required to officiate at a same sex marriage, those willing may do so with my permission.

Read it all.

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Posted July 12, 2016 at 5:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A resolution to change the marriage canon (church law) to allow for the solemnization of marriages of same-sex couples failed to pass by a fraction of a percentage point at the Anglican Church of Canada’s General Synod July 11.

The vote, which required a two-thirds majority in each of the orders of laity, clergy and bishops, received 72.22% support from the laity and 68.42% in the order of bishops, but only 66.23% percent in the order of clergy—0.43% shy of the 66.66% needed.

The vote came after a five-hour legislative session on the floor of synod, in which over 60 members from all orders and regions of the church spoke about their support, opposition and ambivalence to the motion before them.

Read it all.

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Posted July 12, 2016 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A passionate debate on whether the Anglican Church of Canada should bless same-sex marriages came to a head Monday when delegates to their triennial conference voted against authorizing such unions.

More than 200 delegates to the church's six-day General Synod just north of Toronto rejected the resolution after speakers lined up to make their points, with most speaking in favour of the resolution.

In order to pass, the resolution required two-thirds support from each of three orders — lay, clergy and bishops.

The bishops voted 68.42 per cent in favour of the resolution, and the lay delegates voted 72.22 per cent in favour. However, the clergy voted 66.23 per cent, just missing the percentage needed.

Read it all.

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Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




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Posted July 11, 2016 at 4:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

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Posted July 11, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Eliot Waddingham, 24, a transgender person from Ottawa, said tension over the vote was palpable.

"It is breaking my heart that there are people who see gay marriage as a separation from God and from love," said Waddingham, a longtime Anglican attending the synod as an observer.

"I think 'no' would be a death sentence for our church. It would be driving off the edge of a cliff."

To pass, the resolution to change the marriage cannon requires two-thirds of the delegates to vote yes in each of three orders — lay, clergy and bishops. The bishops' group indicated in February that the threshold would likely not be met. Indigenous bishops have also said they would resist having "Western cultural approaches" imposed on them.

Read it all.

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Posted July 11, 2016 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read them carefull and read them all.

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Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“It is always dangerous to draw too precise parallels between one historical period and another; and among the most misleading of such parallels are those which have been drawn between our own age in Europe and North America and the epoch in which the Roman Empire declined into the Dark Ages. None the less certain parallels there are. A crucial turning point in that earlier history occurred when men and women of good will turned aside from the task of shoring up the Roman imperium and ceased to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of that imperium. What they set themselves to achieve instead—often not recognising fully what they were doing—was the construction of new forms of community within which the moral life could be sustained so that both morality and civility might survive the coming ages of barbarism and darkness. If my account of our moral condition is correct [one characterized by moral incoherence and unsettlable moral disputes in the modern world], we ought to conclude that for some time now we too have reached that turning point. What matters at this stage is the construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages which are already upon us. And if the tradition of the virtues was able to survive the horrors of the last dark ages, we are not entirely without grounds for hope. This time however the barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; they have already been governing us for quite some time. And it is our lack of consciousness of this that constitutes part of our predicament. We are waiting not for a Godot, but for another—doubtless very different—St. Benedict.”
--Alisdair MacIntyre, After Virtue (Terre Haute, Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 3rd. ed., 2007), p. 263

Update: Peter Leithardt's comments on this are also worth pondering:
"The turning point, he says, occurred with a renunciation of the “task of shoring up the Roman imperium,” which required “men and women of good will” to begin to distinguish between sustaining moral community and maintaining the empire. Roman civilization was no longer seen as synonymous with civilization itself. Mutatis muntandis, this is the intellectual and practical transformation that has to take place before we can begin to construct “local forms of community” for the flourishing of civility and intellectual life. We need to acknowledge that our task isn't to shore up America, or the West, or whatever. If we promote local communities of virtue as a tactic for shoring up the imperium, we haven't really grasped MacIntyre's point, or the depth of the crisis he described.

That renunciation is as emotionally difficult as the project of forming local communities is practically difficult."


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Posted July 11, 2016 at 5:57 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Although he praised the “typically Canadian and commendably transparent process” that led General Synod to the marriage canon vote, he said that the conclusions this process led to—that same-sex marriage was theologically possible—“would be difficult to receive” for other parts of the Communion.

In his comments on the vote itself, he expressed concern over how either a “yes” or a “no” would be understood by the wider church.

“However you are led by the spirit in your reflection at this synod on the marriage of gays and lesbians in Canada,” he said, “I pray that your decision may be received in such a way by the provinces of the Communion that it will help, and not hinder, our equally vital agenda to change attitudes that would make people safe.”

Idowu-Fearon, who served as bishop of Kaduna in the Church of Nigeria before becoming secretary general in 2015, said it would be “impossible” to think about the 77-million member Anglican Communion without noting the “historic and ongoing” role Canada has played in it.

Read it all.

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Posted July 10, 2016 at 5:44 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The nexus between Big Government, Big Money, Big Influence, and Big Media is sometimes empowered by familial journalistic continuity (e.g., John Dickerson, son of Nancy Dickerson) or a second generation of fashion/glitz and media (Gloria Vanderbilt and Anderson Cooper), but again is increasingly expressed in the corridor “power couple,” the sorts who receive sycophantic adulation in New York and Washington monthly magazines. The Andrea Mitchell/Alan Greenspan power marriage was hailed as a threefer of media, government, and money. What was so strange, however, was just how often wrong were Mitchell in her amateurishly politicized rants and Greenspan in his cryptic Delphic prophecies — and always in areas of their supposedly greatest expertise.

Take also the Obama Cabinet. When we wonder how Susan Rice could go on television on five occasions in a single day to deceive about Benghazi; or John Kerry — in the middle of a war whose results Obama would come to call a “stable” and “self-reliant” democratic Iraq — could warn American youth that the punishment for poor school performance was “to get stuck in Iraq”; or Jay Carney (now senior vice president of global corporate affairs at Amazon) and Josh Earnest could both repeatedly mislead the country on Benghazi, the reason may be not just that they felt their influence, status, and privilege meant they were rarely responsible for the real-world consequences of their own rhetoric, but that they had forgotten entirely the nature of middle-class America, or never really knew it at all.

I get the impression that members of the D.C. elite do not wait in line with a sick kid in the emergency room on a Saturday night, when the blood flows and the supporters of rival gangs have to be separated in the waiting room; or that they find dirty diapers, car seats, and dead dogs tossed on their lawns, or wait two hours at the DMV, or are told that their journalistic assignment was outsourced to India, or read public-school teachers’ comments on their kids’ papers that were ungrammatical and misspelled to the point of being incomprehensible. The elite seems to be ignorant that, about 1975, Bedford Falls flyover country started to become Pottersville.

In forming perceptions about Benghazi, the Iran deal, globalization, or illegal immigration, it is sometimes hard to know who is making policy and who is reporting and analyzing such formulations — or whether they are one and the same. National Security Advisor Susan Rice is married to former ABC television producer Ian Cameron. Ben Rhodes, who drew up the talking-points deceptions about Benghazi and seemed to boast of deceiving the public about the Iran deal, is the brother of CBS News president David Rhodes. Will 60 Minutes do one of its signature hit pieces on Ben Rhodes?

Secretary of State John Kerry — who famously docks his yacht in Rhode Island in order to avoid paying Massachusetts taxes on it — is married to Teresa Heinz, the billionaire widow of the late senator and catsup heir John Heinz. Former Obama press secretary Jay Carney married Claire Shipman, senior national correspondent for ABC’s Good Morning America; his successor, Josh Earnest, married Natalie Wyeth, a veteran of the Treasury Department. Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s “body woman,” is married to creepy sexter Anthony Weiner; perhaps she was mesmerized by his stellar political career, his feminist credentials, and his tolerant approach to deviancy? And on and on it goes.

These Christiane Amanpour/Jamie Rosen or Samantha Power/Cass Sunstein types of connections could be explored to the nth degree, especially their moth-to-the-flame progressive fixations with maximizing privilege, power, and class. But my purpose is not to suggest some conspiratorial cabal of D.C. and New York insiders, only to note that an increasing number of government and media elites are so entangled with each other, leveraging lucrative careers in politics, finance, and the media, and doubling their influence through marriage, that they have scant knowledge of and less concern for the clingers who live well beyond their coastal-corridor moats. And so when reality proves their preconceptions wrong — from Benghazi to Brexit — they have only outrage and disdain to fall back on.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 9, 2016 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

However, participants were more hesitant when it came to questions about their own children cohabiting before marriage. Forty-four percent of participants said they would be OK with their child cohabiting, similar to 40 percent who said it would not be OK.

According to a recent Deseret News report an analysis by the Census Bureau data found cohabitation has doubled in the past 25 years, noting that from 2011 to 2013 nearly two-thirds of of women ages 19-44 had lived with a partner outside of marriage.

“America is well beyond the tipping point when it comes to cohabitation,” Roxanne Stone, editor in chief at Barna Group, stated in the report of the survey. “Living together before marriage is no longer an exception, but instead has become an accepted and expected milestone of adulthood."

Read it all.

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Posted July 9, 2016 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Our vision, then, is bigger and bolder than social justice. And we pray and work not simply for reconciliation of blacks and whites, but of both, and all, to Jesus Christ. And precisely because this is a bigger and bolder vision, we must not become naively optimistic nor cynically despairing. The great American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr spent his life trying to show this nation a middle way regarding justice, one grounded in realistic hope. And he did so with these telling words in his The Irony of American History:

Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore, we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore, we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, could be accomplished alone; therefore, we must be saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our own standpoint; therefore, we must be saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness.

Read it all.

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Posted July 9, 2016 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I have no easy answer to the crisis in which we find ourselves as Americans. But this much is clear: Dallas Christians, black and white, of all denominations, are called to stand together. As one we pray for those harmed. We who do so are already one body in Jesus Christ, in spite of all the fault lines in our society. May the Holy Spirit guide us all in discerning the shape of our common witness. May we all be praying for the welfare of our city and all its inhabitants. May He protect all exposed to danger in their work.

Read it all.

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Posted July 9, 2016 at 8:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But Levin's case is not a counsel of despair. Far from it. Nor does he simply dismiss our nostalgia. Instead, we need to learn from it: "To learn from nostalgia, we must let it guide us not merely toward 'the way we were,' but toward what was good about what we miss, and why." Or, as we've suggested here before, we need to "remember forward."

That endeavour informs the second, constructive half of The Fractured Republic. The diagnosis is important: the same mid-century developments we celebrate were Trojan horses that unleashed forces hostile to the institutions, habits, and practices that made them possible. More specifically, what crawled out of those horses were agents of individualism that devoured the mid-level institutions of society, leaving atomistic individuals fending for themselves and/or looking to a behemoth state to save us. The result has been "the collapse of the culture of solidarity."

The creative way forward, then, is to recover a culture of solidarity in the face of atomistic individualism and an abstract state. But what distinguishes Levin's proposal from the nostalgia of others is his almost Hegelian attentiveness to the contingencies of history. So we can't just turn back the clock to consolidation. Riffing on Alexis de Tocqueville, Levin concedes that the "diffusion" that characterizes our society is "a 'generative fact' of our particular time. It can be channelled and directed, perhaps mitigated at the margins, but it cannot be meaningfully reversed, at least in the foreseeable future.

Read it all.

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Posted July 9, 2016 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For one thing, the targets are too important to be left to just anyone. No one but the Islamic State (or possibly al-Qaeda) would dare attack the Prophet’s Mosque.

For another thing, only the Islamic State has the right kind of experienced personnel on the ground in Saudi Arabia. In the past four years, more than 3,000 young Saudi men have gone to fight with the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. Of them, about 700 have reportedly returned home to Saudi Arabia fully trained and willing to carry out such attacks as these.

Finally, it is the Islamic State that harbours the greatest contempt for Saudi Arabia.

Since the day, two years ago, on which Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State, declared a caliphate in the parts of Iraq and Syria the group had conquered and occupied, he has wanted to overturn the House of Saud.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSaudi Arabia* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 8, 2016 at 4:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What does Lamentations offer us today?

There are people who are, at this moment, seeing murder, rape, the loss of homes and loved ones, and the destruction of holy places. For them, Lamentations describes reality. We can and should lament with them.

Lamentations, as O’Connor says, provides a bottle for the tears of the world. We cry out to God for those who suffer so terribly from the effects of sin and evil and sheer folly: in wars, racial conflicts, and all manner of injustice and oppression. Lamentations holds up to God the sheer horror of what this suffering feels like, and appeals to him to act justly, to demonstrate his faithfulness. The book affirms God’s sovereignty—his throne is still in heaven even as the devastation of his temple happens on earth—in its closing verses.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheodicyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 8, 2016 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Decent Americans cannot turn a blind eye to police abuse; they just didn’t really believe the it was happening. Or maybe they didn’t want to believe. Today, there is literally no excuse to be ignorant of the problem.

It would be hard to overestimate the impact that smart phone cameras have had on forcing us to grapple with the fact that this is, in fact, a very real (and all-too-common) problem. The streaming video of the aftermath of the killing of Philando Castile appears to be the latest tragic example. (Note: We still don’t know exactly what happened, so I’m going to withhold judgment on this specific incident—but the video evidence we’ve all seen does not look good for the police.)

And if there’s any good to come from this horrible trend, it may be that the scales are coming off the eyes of a lot of well meaning, if naive, white Americans. My hope is that this will change public opinion to the point that we can change public policy.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 8, 2016 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The challenges are this. Alastair Campbell famously said to Tony Blair: “We don’t do God.” Well, I trust that the Church of England, and in particular this Synod, will in this debate, and in the many that will follow it on the consequences of the referendum and the outworkings of that, give sufficient evidence to the world to be convinced of [us] doing God a great deal.

To do God means not to accept fear as the decisive force in our thinking, although we need to be real about its effects on us and the effects of insecurity. The eternal God is our refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms. God is Lord of history and sovereign in events. We are in His hands.

He raised Jesus Christ from the dead. He gives us the Holy Spirit to equip us to live as God’s people in all times and circumstances. Paul reminds us that nothing can separate us from the love of God. The Psalmist brings troubles and victories and lays them before God.

This is a time for remembering the authority and power of God, revealed in Jesus Christ, and of the good news that we have in our hands for all people in this land.

Read it all.

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Posted July 8, 2016 at 10:51 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On the eve of the Shared Conversations at the General Synod in York this weekend, the Council has issued a Q&A designed to puncture notions that scripture could be compatible with same-sex relationships.

And, writing in the Church Times, the Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Revd Julian Henderson, argues that the authority of the Bible “must not be superseded by pastoral, anthropological, and missional arguments”.

The Church should not be worried about being at odds with cultural norms, says Bishop Henderson, who is the president of the CEEC. “The Christian community has never been called to popularity,” he writes. “The gospel is an offence because of its call to repentance.”

Read it all.

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Posted July 8, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A memorial group says the slaying of five police officers in Dallas in an attack blamed on snipers was the deadliest day in U.S. law enforcement history since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Read it all and go to DFW CBS' website for many local angles.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 8, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two Victoria leaders in the Anglican church will argue in favour of allowing same-sex marriage at a national council meeting in Ontario this week — which is coincidentally Pride week.

“We’ve been talking about this since the ’60s. … I look at it as a justice issue,” said Logan McMenamie, bishop of Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and Kingcome Inlet.

The Anglican Church of Canada will discuss and vote on changing the canon definition of marriage from being between a man and a woman to between two persons. Currently, the Anglican church performs blessings for same-sex civil unions.

The vote takes place at the General Synod, a national gathering, held every three years, of the houses that make up the Anglican church: The laity, clergy and bishops. In March, the house of bishops said it was not likely to pass the vote.

Read it all.

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Posted July 7, 2016 at 3:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As technologies and methods advanced, workers in all industries became able to produce much more value in a shorter amount of time. You’d think this would lead to shorter workdays.

But the 8-hour workday is too profitable for big business, not because of the amount of work people get done in eight hours (the average office worker gets less than three hours of actual work done in 8 hours) but because it makes for such a purchase-happy public. Keeping free time scarce means people pay a lot more for convenience, gratification, and any other relief they can buy. It keeps them watching television, and its commercials. It keeps them unambitious outside of work.

We’ve been led into a culture that has been engineered to leave us tired, hungry for indulgence, willing to pay a lot for convenience and entertainment, and most importantly, vaguely dissatisfied with our lives so that we continue wanting things we don’t have. We buy so much because it always seems like something is still missing....

Read it all.

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Posted July 7, 2016 at 2:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As Muslims celebrate the end of Ramadan, many are struggling to comprehend a wave of attacks that killed 350 people across several countries during the holy month and raised the question of what drives the militants to ever more spectacular violence.

The high-profile attacks underline the warnings by many experts that the Islamic State group, especially when on the defensive, will metastasize far beyond its theater of operations.

The extremist group has always sought attention and recruits through terrorism, which has proven to be a winning strategy among its disenfranchised and angry followers.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 7, 2016 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The pair [Of Andrew Symes and Jayne Ozanne] both attended the same local talks in the diocese of Oxford but their different reflections highlight the polarities in the CofE. They both discussed their mutual experience seperately with Christian Today. Symes said: "What I wanted to do is step back and observe what I was expected to do or say. Am I really expected to say, 'I used to think this but actually this person is such a nice person I am actually going to change my views on it'? If that is what I am expected to do then I am afraid the thing has not worked."

Symes and Ozanne framed the debate differently. For Ozanne the Church's struggle over gay marriage is focused on the understanding of "desire and love". She said the debate had been "hijacked" because some people have hang ups about sex.

"Some guys are really focused on sex and don't see the bigger picture which is about love and intimacy and the desire to have a unique relationship. It is the desire to have someone I can love and cherish whom God has chosen for me and is natural to me."

For Symes the debate is really about the authority of scripture and how the church engages with culture.

Read it all.

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Posted July 5, 2016 at 3:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

St Paul in his letter to the Galatians says to them at one point, “Love one another, cease to tear at one another, lest at the end you consume one another.” We are in danger of that in the way that our politics is developing at the moment.

If we are to tackle that, we have to look at some of the fundamental issues which must be put in place if we are to have a society that is capable of creating the agile, flexible, creative, entrepreneurial, exciting society, full of the common good, of solidarity, of love for one another, that is the only way that this country will flourish and prosper for all its citizens, in the world outside the European Union of the future.

The biggest thing it seems to me that we must challenge, my Lords, if we are to be effective in this creation of a new vision for Britain – a vision that enables hope and reconciliation to begin to flower – is to tackle the issues of inequality. It is inequality that thins out the crust of our society. It is inequality that raises the levels of anger and bitterness.

Read it all.

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Posted July 5, 2016 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Uhuru Kenyatta and DP William Ruto have urged religious leaders to help to fight corruption.

This comes after hundreds of billions of taxpayers’ money have been lost in graft scandals.

The two spoke yesterday during the enthronement of the sixth ACK Archbishop at All Saints Cathedral.

They called on religious leaders to play a central role in the country’s economic agenda to ensure stability and unity.

“Let us work together to deal with other human needs and appreciate this partnership because we all want a better place than we found it,” President Uhuru said.

Read it all.

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Posted July 5, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“The Anglican Church in Kenya has always been at the forefront in the fight against corruption in Kenya and has never compromised in rebuking corrupt leaders in the country,” said the preacher of the day, Archbishop and Primate of Tanzania the Most Revd Jacob Chimeledya. “As a leader you cannot remain quiet because being in the top leadership of the church means you have to rebuke and correct whenever necessary.”

Archbishop Chimeledya reminded Archbishop Ole Sapit that he has to be prepared to preach the word at all times. “You cannot choose, whether it’s a good season or bad one you still have to preach. Remember that the kingdom of God is near but it has not fully come because of all the evil that is still happening in the world today,” he said. “Therefore the Church under your leadership has an important role to play. You have to safeguard the Christian faith by safeguarding the orthodox Christian teachings.”

After his recognition and enthronement, accomplished after taking the necessary vows and undertakings, Archbishop Ole Sapit gave his charge which covered a wide range of issues including the importance of peace in the country, his vision for the Anglican Church of Kenya and the need for the church to “remain true to her calling.”

“A lot of questions are being asked about the role of the church in the world today. If Christians form 80 percent of our population, why the corruption, the environmental degradation?” he asked.

Read it all.

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Posted July 5, 2016 at 5:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On this day, 240 years ago, the visionary gentlemen of the 13 colonies pledged their fortunes and their very lives to the cause of liberty.

Given the incredible forces arrayed against them – the British Navy was the dominant sea force of the time, and the British Army dwarfed the ragtag militia forces which combined to make the Continental Army.

Those 56 delegates to the Continental Congress were the co-founders of the greatest and riskiest startup of all time, one in which the battles were drawn not with marketing, product and engineering but with artillery and infantry and navies, in which loss meant not bankruptcy and “working for the man”, but brutal repression and many lives lost.

These founders truly believed in making the world a better place, not the tired line spouted by every startup that creates a new gaming app or development language, but creating real liberty, true representative government that is by its very nature constrained from exercising undue control.

Read it all.

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Posted July 4, 2016 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



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Posted July 4, 2016 at 2:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Members of First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem voted overwhelmingly...[recently] to break from their national denomination, underscoring a schism that has developed over Presbyterian Church (USA)'s embrace of same-sex marriage and the ordination of [non-celibate] gay ministers.

Out of 1,048 votes, 802 members supported bolting to the more conservative Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians, a super-majority of 76.5 percent that church leaders say made clear the congregation's wishes.

"We're ready to get back to our most important thing, which is our ministry," the Rev. Marnie Crumpler, pastor of First Presbyterian, said after the vote. "We're just looking forward to moving forward as an ECO Presbyterian Church."

But amid a bitter divorce, the results of the vote will not be accepted by the mainline denomination, said the Rev. David Duquette, an official of the Lehigh Presbytery, a regional arm of the national church.

Read it all.

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Posted July 3, 2016 at 6:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"Three months ago, I invited a group of friends for a unique meeting at the Entebbe exhibition at the Rabin Center: former Mossad operative Avner Avraham, the curator of the exhibit, Akiva Laxer, one of the hostages, and Amir Ofer, one of the commandos, the first to storm into the terminal.

Ofer stressed the link between his own personal history—he is the son of Holocaust survivors—and the Entebbe Operation. As we were touring the exhibition, he recounted his experiences, telling all types of stories, with some being amusing anecdotes of what happened behind the scenes in the planning stages of the operation. For the first time, he brought his parents, who barely survived the horrors of World War II, and his daughter, to the exhibition. That moment that brought together the commando, his parents, the surviving hostage who owes Ofer his life, and Ofer's daughter, didn't leave a dry eye in the house...."

Read it all.

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Posted July 3, 2016 at 4:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“I wrote feverishly, breathlessly, without rereading. I wrote to testify, to stop the dead from dying, to justify my own survival,” he recalled in a 1995 memoir.
The resulting manuscript was published in 1955 in Argentina, to little notice, as “Un di Velt Hot Geshvign,” or “And the World Remained Silent.” The following year, at the urging of French writer Francois Mauriac, Wiesel translated the work into French, and it was published in 1958 as “La Nuit,” or “Night.” An English version was published in the U.S. in 1960.
It had limited early success. The first run of 3,000 copies took three years to sell. Wiesel gained a larger following in the 1970s, as American colleges began delving into Holocaust studies. In 1976, the National Jewish Conference Center in New York convened a meeting on “The Work of Elie Wiesel and the Holocaust Universe.”

Read it all (my emphasis).

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Posted July 3, 2016 at 6:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

s it true that all defenders of the traditional definition of marriage act out of “condemnation … animosity … casual and deliberate prejudice… [and] hate” towards same-sex attracted people, as Penny Wong suggests? Well, until a few years ago the senator herself opposed the redefinition of marriage; so did her leader Bill Shorten; and so did a number of other political leaders. I do not think they were being hateful bigots at that time.
Straight politicians don't understand what it's like to hide their relationships in fear

Presumably, their views of marriage and family, or of the needs of same-sex people, or of the proper role of the state and culture etc then supported leaving marriage as it was; presumably, over time they were persuaded differently. Others still hold the position these leaders previously held: why presume they are driven by hate? Could it not be that they have real reasons for supporting the traditional conception of marriage? And real questions about the proposed alternative?

Only a decade ago same-sex marriage was a radical proposal with little support among the major parties or general population. The then Penny Wong was in the vast majority. Shifting opinion might be explained by growing sympathy for those with same-sex attraction or changing views (and increasing confusion) about the meaning of marriage. But another reason might be that people have felt pressured into supporting this social change (or cowed into silence) by fear they will be tagged “bigot” if they don’t.

The fact is that many ordinary Australians are both pro-gay people and pro-traditional marriage....

Read it all.

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Posted July 2, 2016 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 2, 2016 at 11:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

....from 1996, Hill’s career saw a rush of productivity, with the arrival of a new collection almost every other year.

In The Triumph of Love (1998), Hill gave a possible reason for this sudden change: “the taking up of serotonin”. Hill struggled with chronic depression for most of his life, and described himself as suffering from an obsessive-compulsive disorder, which slowed his writing process.

But a diagnosis and prescription was an opening of the floodgates. “I don’t know how I survived almost sixty years without the medication I now have,” he said in 2000. “It’s completely transformed my life. The irony is that people say of my recent work: what a grim vision, what hatred and self-hatred. These last six, seven years, I’ve been happier than I’ve ever been before in my life.”

Read it all.

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Posted July 2, 2016 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

That conclusion suggests that the body doesn’t matter. When it comes to what fulfills us, we are not personal animals—mammalian thinkers, to put it starkly—who come in two basic forms that complete each other. We are subjects of desire and consent, who use bodily equipment for spiritual and emotional expression. Fittingly, then, has this new doctrine been called a New Gnosticism.

Beyond marriage, this doctrine entails that sex doesn’t matter, or that it matters only as an inner reality. Since I am not my body, I might have been born in the wrong one. Because the real me is internal, my sexual identity is just what I sense it to be. The same goes for other valuable aspects of my identity. My essence is what I say and feel that it is.

The doctrine is also individualistic. On the old view, you could know important things about me unmediated, by knowing something about my body or our shared nature. And our interdependence as persons was as inescapable as our physical incompleteness and need: as male and female, infants and infirm. But if the real me lies within, only I know what I am. You have to take my word for it; I can learn nothing about myself from our communion. And if I emerge only when autonomy does—if I come into the world already thinking and feeling and choosing—it’s easy to overlook our interdependence. I feel free to strike out on my own, and to satisfy my desires less encumbered by others’ needs.

But again, mere acceptance of this vision of the person isn’t enough to explain Obergefell. The Court did not simply allow new relationships; it required their recognition as marriages, as similar to opposite-sex bonds in every important way. In other words, it didn’t simply free people to live by the New Gnosticism. It required us, “the People,” to endorse this dogma, by forbidding us to enact distinctions that cut against it.

Read it all.

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Posted July 1, 2016 at 11:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Vatican does not track global or countrywide exorcism, but in my experience and according to the priests I meet, demand is rising. The United States is home to about 50 “stable” exorcists — those who have been designated by bishops to combat demonic activity on a semi-regular basis — up from just 12 a decade ago, according to the Rev. Vincent Lampert, an Indianapolis-based priest-exorcist who is active in the International Association of Exorcists. (He receives about 20 inquiries per week, double the number from when his bishop appointed him in 2005.) The Catholic Church has responded by offering greater resources for clergy members who wish to address the problem. In 2010, for instance, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops organized a meeting in Baltimore for interested clergy. In 2014, Pope Francis formally recognized the IAE, 400 of whom are to convene in Rome this October. Members believe in such strange cases because they are constantly called upon to help. (I served for a time as a scientific adviser on the group’s governing board.)''

Unfortunately, not all clergy involved in this complex field are as cautious as the priest who first approached me. In some circles there is a tendency to become overly preoccupied with putative demonic explanations and to see the devil everywhere. Fundamentalist misdiagnoses and absurd or even dangerous “treatments,” such as beating victims, have sometimes occurred, especially in developing countries. This is perhaps why exorcism has a negative connotation in some quarters. People with psychological problems should receive psychological treatment.

But I believe I’ve seen the real thing....

Read it all.

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Posted July 1, 2016 at 10:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the rent earth of the Somme Valley, he laid the foundation of his epic trilogy.

The descriptions of battle scenes in “The Lord of the Rings” seem lifted from the grim memories of the trenches: the relentless artillery bombardment, the whiff of mustard gas, the bodies of dead soldiers discovered in craters of mud. In the Siege of Gondor, hateful orcs are “digging, digging lines of deep trenches in a huge ring,” while others maneuver “great engines for the casting of missiles.”

On the path to Mordor, stronghold of Sauron, the Dark Lord, the air is “filled with a bitter reek that caught their breath and parched their mouths.” Tolkien later acknowledged that the Dead Marshes, with their pools of muck and floating corpses, “owe something to Northern France after the Battle of the Somme.”

In a lecture delivered in 1939, “On Fairy-Stories,” Tolkien explained that his youthful love of mythology had been “quickened to full life by war.” Yet he chose not to write a war memoir, and in this he departed from contemporaries like Robert Graves and Vera Brittain.

Read it all.

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Posted July 1, 2016 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tower Hamlets: 67.5% Remain

The Area Dean of Tower Hamlets, the Revd Andy Rider

“What is clear from the referendum result is that Westminster is out of touch with vast numbers of the British public. . . The communities of Tower Hamlets benefit in part from London’s wealth, and, as a multicultural cosmopolitan slice of London, we were never going to be won over by the rantings of Nigel Farage. What we must remember, though, is that London’s East End was welcoming immigrants from across Europe for at least 250 years before even the EEC was going through its birth pains. Welcome and generosity is what typifies many in this borough.

“Westminster has to listen. Too many are fed up with too few who have it all. Let this be, in Tower Hamlets, London, and across our lands, a turning-point in history where we live what we believe: if anyone matters, then everyone matters.”

Read them all.

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Posted July 1, 2016 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Less than one-third of the colleges and universities in the United States annually ranked as the country’s best schools require students pursuing a degree in history to take a single course in American history. This finding comes from a shocking new report issued today by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA).

Just as Fourth of July celebrations are set to begin, the new ACTA report No U.S. History? How College History Departments Leave the United States out of the Major shows that only 23 undergraduate history programs at the U.S. News & World Report’s top 25 national universities, top 25 public institutions, and top 25 liberal arts colleges require a single U.S. history class.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 30, 2016 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Werner Gallmeister, a high-school headmaster here, called the police in January with a worrying message. A 16-year- old student known for his Islamist sympathies had been showing off a smartphone video of an explosive device.

Police already knew the teen. He had been interrogated and suspended from one school after threatening to “break the neck” of a Jewish student. Police in 2015 searched his home. And he was enrolled in a government-sponsored program designed to prevent radical youngsters turning to violence.

Soon after the smartphone stunt, Mr. Gallmeister reported to police that his pupil’s behavior seemed to calm. He was wrong.

Three months later, the teenager, whom German officials and police identify as Yusuf T., allegedly threw a bomb at a Sikh temple in the nearby city of Essen as a wedding was drawing to a close. The Wall Street Journal isn’t using his full name in accordance with German custom. In the attack, three people were injured, one seriously.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHistoryReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 30, 2016 at 3:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The uncertainty generated has left a series of questions that serves no-one well, least of all the alleged victim.

For that reason, we welcome an announcement this week that the Church of England has launched an independent review into the processes regarding the settlement.

The review is a matter of standard procedure and is not intended to undermine the original decision, but we trust its remit will go beyond mere process without adding further to the distress of the woman involved.

Bell was too important a figure to have his reputation trashed without full transparency and disclosure in the public domain.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureSexualityViolence* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 30, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 30, 2016 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dear Archbishops

I am writing to you as the Presidents of the General Synod to ask that an emergency motion on the outcome of last week's Referendum should be placed on the agenda of the forthcoming meeting in July.

It's now clear that our nation has suffered its biggest cataclysm since the last War. Its causes are complex and it's too early to understand them fully. However, we can now see that the future looks deeply uncertain politically, economically and in terms of the UK's place in the world of tomorrow.

It has, I admit, worried me greatly that our national church has not spoken as an institution about the Referendum. We have all known that the vote was coming since the general election of 2015. It would have been possible to schedule a General Synod debate in February 2016 even though the Referendum date was not yet known when the agenda was being planned. I find it extraordinary that in the face of a national decision wth such momentous ethical and social justice aspects to it (and I would add, theological too), the Synod and the House of Bishops have been collectively silent. It feels to me like a failure of spiritual leadership towards the people of England.

I did not anticipate that the Church of England would take a position on the European Union (though that is in marked contrast to the other national church in these islands, the Church of Scotland). Nor do I expect this now. However, at a time when England is so divided between London and the provinces, when the future of the Union here in Britain is at real risk, and when the entire continent of Europe is facing unprecedented turmoil, it seems to me all the more essential to allow a proper debate to help our nation find wisdom and stability as we move into an unmapped landscape.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Archbishop of York John Sentamu* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 30, 2016 at 7:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What we have learnt from the market moves since Brexit is that Europe is just as vulnerable as Britain. The vote has already triggered a banking crisis in Italy, where the government is struggling to put together a €40bn (£33bn) rescue but is paralysed by the constraints of euro membership.

The eurozone authorities never sorted out the structural failings of EMU. There is still no fiscal union or banking union worth the name. The North-South chasm remains, worsened by a deflationary bias. The pathologies fester.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 30, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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