Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the last week, there has been news of a potential Primates’ Meeting scheduled to begin October 2, 2017. Consequently, we have received a number of inquiries, both from the media and our membership, asking the question of whether or not the Gafcon Primates will attend.

For all who had hoped that attendance at the January 2016 Primates’ Gathering might restore godly order to the Communion, the results were clearly discouraging. Gafcon is fully committed to guarding the unchanging truth of the Gospel, and restoring the Bible to the heart of the Anglican Communion. In due course, the Gafcon Primates will take counsel and together make a decision about the wisdom of attending future meetings.

The next meeting of the Gafcon Primates’ Council is in April of 2017. We give thanks for the courage that is being shown by our members across the globe, as they share God’s Word both “in season and out of season.” Please continue to pray for the continued growth of this reformation movement.
(Via email-KSH)

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican PrimatesGlobal South Churches & PrimatesSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

8 Comments
Posted August 5, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In retrospect, Facebook’s takeover of online media looks rather like a slow-motion coup. Before social media, web publishers could draw an audience one of two ways: through a dedicated readership visiting its home page or through search engines. By 2009, this had started to change. Facebook had more than 300 million users, primarily accessing the service through desktop browsers, and publishers soon learned that a widely shared link could produce substantial traffic. In 2010, Facebook released widgets that publishers could embed on their sites, reminding readers to share, and these tools were widely deployed. By late 2012, when Facebook passed a billion users, referrals from the social network were sending visitors to publishers’ websites at rates sometimes comparable to Google, the web’s previous de facto distribution hub. Publishers took note of what worked on Facebook and adjusted accordingly.

This was, for most news organizations, a boon. The flood of visitors aligned with two core goals of most media companies: to reach people and to make money. But as Facebook’s growth continued, its influence was intensified by broader trends in internet use, primarily the use of smartphones, on which Facebook became more deeply enmeshed with users’ daily routines. Soon, it became clear that Facebook wasn’t just a source of readership; it was, increasingly, where readers lived.

Facebook, from a publisher’s perspective, had seized the web’s means of distribution by popular demand. A new reality set in, as a social-media network became an intermediary between publishers and their audiences.

Read it all from the New York Times.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingMediaScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted August 24, 2016 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When a bomb threat targeted the Thier Galerie shopping mall in Dortmund in July, police rushed to the scene and asked to scour closed-circuit camera recordings.

There wasn’t much footage to go through. An attempt by the mall operator to ramp up video surveillance last fall had been vetoed by local authorities who feared an assault on patrons’ privacy.

“You can’t just say you want to have more cameras,” said Heike Marzen, the mall’s manager. “There are certain laws we have to follow.”

Branded by its dictatorial past, when surveillance was both dreaded and commonplace, Germany has some of the world’s toughest privacy laws. But after two attacks claimed by Islamic State and a mass shooting this summer, the government is pushing to recalibrate the balance between security and anonymity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 24, 2016 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A group of gay Church of England clergy are set to reveal that they have married their partners, defying the official line taken by church leaders on same-sex marriage.

A dozen gay ministers are to sign an open letter that also urges the church to allow clergy to carry out blessings for parishioners entering into same-sex marriages.

Half the signatories have already declared themselves to be in a gay marriage, including Andrew Foreshew-Cain, who was one of the first priests to openly defy the ruling.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted August 23, 2016 at 11:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Justin Trudeau came to power in Canada, he promised to repair the country's relationship with its Aboriginal people, after centuries of discrimination. A disproportionate number of indigenous women have gone missing or been murdered in recent decades, and suicide attempts have risen dramatically in some communities, writes Stephen Sackur.
Attawapiskat is hard to reach. Generations of Canadian politicians have never lent it a thought, still less a visit. But this ramshackle Aboriginal settlement south of Hudson Bay has been making national news over the past year for the grimmest of reasons.
Last October a 13-year-old girl, Sheridan Hookimaw, headed to the rubbish dump and hanged herself. Since then more than 100 of Attawapiskat's 2,000 First Nation people, most of them teenagers, but one just 11 years old, have attempted suicide.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologySuicideTeens / YouthYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 23, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

St Alban’s Diocese is seeking to attract a wider range of applicants by issuing guidelines on inclusive language.

The style guide, titled ‘What language should we use?’, is a guide for parishes writing parish profiles and patrons and Archdeacons preparing advertisements.

The Rev Jeannette Gosney and the Rev Lucy Davis wrote the guide, which sets out words and phrases to attract a wide range of applicants for clergy posts.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 22, 2016 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Perhaps it doesn’t matter; more and more, the word just feels true, and we’re in an epidemic of diagnosis. But when the bore and the charmer both begin to look like a certain American politician, and the American politician reminds us of the worst of what’s online, which may be what the whole younger generation is like, and it begins to feel as if a new selfishness has taken the future hostage and your dinner companion is not just dull, your recently departed not just a fake, but the future itself is narcissism — it raises the question of what it is that we fear, exactly, when we say the word.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingPsychologyScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 21, 2016 at 12:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Elsa Moluf, 26, an Ada graduate, said the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, still resonated when she thought about personal safety — a feeling compounded recently by a shooting on a Seattle street in broad daylight only a few feet from her. “In the era of terrorism, I think about stuff like, ‘If I go to this crowded festival, what are the chances,’ ” she said.

Baby boomers, to whom millennials are often compared — if only by the force of their numbers — also reached adulthood amid tumult and angst, during the Vietnam War and the struggle for civil rights. But people now in their 20s and 30s say that the 1960s were different, that there seemed to be a clearer goal then — to end racial segregation, poverty or the war. The economy seemed better and the nation’s future more assured.

Now, from niche anxieties like genetically modified crops to defining ones like climate change, questions feel open-ended and unprecedented: Is the food we eat still food? How do you get your head around a threat to the entire planet?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 19, 2016 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If you’ve noticed that colossal lottery winnings are becoming almost common this year, it’s no accident. Four of the 10 biggest jackpots in United States history have already occurred in 2016, an engineered outcome intended to generate mind-bogglingly big winners.

That’s thrilling if you are the rare winner of hundreds of millions of dollars. But whether it’s a good thing for scores of millions of other people who play government-sponsored lottery games is highly questionable, as a close look at the numbers reveals.

What is immediately evident, though, is that the high frequency of enormous jackpots results from skillful planning, says Salil Mehta, an independent statistician. “This was deliberate,” Mr. Mehta says. “The jackpots are growing very rapidly, and at a certain point when the jackpot rises into the hundreds of millions of dollars, there is a buzz, and people start betting much more....

At a minimum, the government ought to be doing no harm to its citizens, yet it appears to be promoting and benefiting from activities that are surely harming the life prospects of many people.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGamblingPsychology* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 16, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It’s known as the historic reversal, and it appears irreversible: Places where the old outnumber kids.

What began in 1995 in a single country, Italy, will spread to 56 nations, economies as diverse as New Zealand and Georgia, by 2030. These are the findings of Joseph Chamie, who spent a quarter of a century studying population patterns at the United Nations in New York and now is an independent researcher.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyGlobalizationSociologyTeens / YouthYoung Adults* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 11, 2016 at 6:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even when the dead bodies Zachary Smeltz lifts for a living are hefty, he makes sure to handle even the burliest corpse in a gentle manner, masking any exertion. “Treat every case like that’s your mom that you’re transferring,” is the motto Mr. Smeltz imparts on the staff of the mortuary transport business he owns that sends him all over New Jersey and Pennsylvania and to other locales, picking up bodies.

Mr. Smeltz is part of an unusual niche in the labor market: He is among a proliferating group of independent entrepreneurs capitalizing on the need to collect the dead from houses, hospitals, morgues and accident scenes. It is a little-known link in the chain of death-to-final-resting-place that is growing as places like funeral homes and hospices as well as governments cut their budgets and increasingly outsource the transport of the dead.

A class-action suit unfolding in California has opened a window onto this often lightly regulated industry: Charons of the highway, who shuttle corpses from one place to another. While in some places, like New York, such work must be carried out under the auspices of licensed funeral directors, in others, like New Jersey and Pennsylvania, private contractors without any special permits may pick up bodies.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchTravel* Economics, PoliticsEconomy* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted August 10, 2016 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I’m meeting more millennials who embrace the mentality expressed in the book “The Abundant Community,” by John McKnight and Peter Block. The authors are notably hostile to consumerism.

They are anti-institutional and anti-systems. “Our institutions can offer only service — not care — for care is the freely given commitment from the heart of one to another,” they write.

Millennials are oriented around neighborhood hospitality, rather than national identity or the borderless digital world. “A neighborhood is the place where you live and sleep.” How many of your physical neighbors know your name?

Maybe we’re on the cusp of some great cracking. Instead of just paying lip service to community while living for autonomy, I get the sense a lot of people are actually about to make the break and immerse themselves in demanding local community movements. It wouldn’t surprise me if the big change in the coming decades were this: an end to the apotheosis of freedom; more people making the modern equivalent of the Native American leap.

Read it all.

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

1 Comments
Posted August 9, 2016 at 3:46 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

How did you keep the meeting safe and secure?

That was difficult. A lot of prayer. The meeting started out really tense because those individuals had never really been in a room together. They were seeing each other as enemies. It’s hard to have a one-to-one sit-down, but to have 50-50 sit down and talk was even more difficult.

But I opened in prayers and set the ground rules and kept everyone accountable; that’s how I was able to stay in control of the meeting and communicate on a level that was not intimidating or threatening.

You knew many of the people in the room already?

A lot of the guys in that room, I know them personally. I know their families. I have ministered to many of their families in times of shootings and gun violence. I built relationships and rapport with a lot of people in that room. It isn’t something that happened overnight, but it has been in process for some time now.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 6, 2016 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is now perfectly clear that the meeting failed in its intention. Far from being rebuked, the leaders of the Episcopal Church said that they intend to continue in their present course and indeed to export their ideas vigorously to the rest of the world.

It seems, from what the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion is communicating, that repentance was never required – which makes the disciplinary measures rather strange.

The mild discipline which was imposed was at once put to the test at the meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, and fundamentally (though not entirely) failed to hold.

Astonishingly, the membership of the taskforce set up to continue the business of the meeting, contains no GAFCON Primate, although Presiding Bishop Michael Curry of the TEC is a member. At best, this is an error of judgement. In truth, it seems symbolic of an unfortunate disdain for the leaders of some of the most thriving of the Provinces in the Communion.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican PrimatesPrimates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016* TheologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 5, 2016 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The reverend was well aware the thousands he spent on raffle tickets could have purchased multiple similar weapons. He said he not only wanted to get the rifle off the street, but also wanted to make sure he funded the girls' trip.

The brouhaha started when Lucas announced his plans to destroy the rifle. After garnering plenty of local press, the Washington Post picked up the story and Lucas told the paper he had picked up the rifle from a gun store, but had left the rifle at the home of a "responsible gun owner" who offered to keep the weapon locked in a gun safe.

The only problem? As of May 11, 2015, any transfer of a firearm, even between private parties when no money changes hands, requires a full background check.

Read it all and you can find a brief bio of the minister Jery Lucas there.

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

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted August 5, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Churches in the UK are setting an example of how to combat hate crimes and racist abuse within their communities, after the divisive EU referendum vote.

The Community and Urban Affairs division of the Church of England highlighted some of these programmes in a new document, Hate-busters and Neighbour-lovers, published last week.

It lists statements, hashtags, welcome events, training, and worship as examples of ways in which dioceses across the country are promoting inclusion, and tackling racism in their communities.

The Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Martyn Snow, wrote in an open letter in June that, despite “some deep divisions to emerge in our nation” since the UK voted to leave the EU, the diocese would be “keeping the values of welcome, inclusion, and international friendship at the heart of our communities”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 5, 2016 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But much more important is the steep upward trajectory of our long-term debt – which remains as dangerous as ever. In its latest long-term outlook, released in June, CBO projected that the federal debt will climb to 141 percent of GDP by 2046 – by far the highest level on record.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentMedicareSocial SecurityThe National DeficitPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted August 4, 2016 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of York has told Premier that Robert Mugabe must leave power.

Dr John Sentamu has said the country has "become rubble" during his leadership.

The 92-year-old president has been in power since 1980.

John Sentamu was speaking as around five million people in Zimbabwe are in need of assistance as a result of the ongoing drought in southern Africa.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of York John Sentamu* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaZimbabwe* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 4, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A police officer with the Washington transit system has become the first American law enforcement officer to be charged with supporting the Islamic State, accused of trying to send financial help to the group after advising a friend on how to travel to Syria to join it.

In court papers filed on Tuesday and made public on Wednesday, federal law enforcement officials charged the officer, Nicholas Young, with attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization.

The charge is based on the allegation that Mr. Young bought gift cards worth $245 and sent their code numbers to someone he believed had joined ISIS in Syria, to help the group pay for mobile phone messaging with its supporters in the West.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/Fire* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 4, 2016 at 6:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A spokesman for Lambeth Palace told The Church of England Newspaper: “The Archbishop of Canterbury was pleased to meet Shaykh Naqib ur Rehman, a leading Sufi Muslim leader from Pakistan, at Lambeth Palace yesterday. The Archbishop received a first-hand account of the situation in Pakistan, which is a highly significant country for faith relationships in the UK.”

However, the son of Salmaan Taseer told the International Business Times he was perturbed by the news. Taseer, who had been kidnapped by the Taliban and held prisoner for four years said: “These people teach murder and hate. For me personally I find it sad that a country like England would allow cowards like these men in.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 4, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Banning resident Jim Bailey and his wife went in recently for their annual physicals. They came away with hundreds of dollars in charges for co-pays and tests.

Bailey, 78, told me that he feels duped.

“The Affordable Care Act dictates that all annual physicals be provided at no cost to the policyholders — no deductibles or co-pays,” he said. “But that wasn’t the case with us.”

Nor will it be the case with anyone else — even though many Americans believe otherwise.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebatePsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 4, 2016 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Unfortunately, many of us who have spoken up in church communities have been told to “pray harder” or “have more faith.” These suggestions might be well intentioned, but they often discourage and isolate those of us in desperate need of support. “It’s a knee-jerk reaction to judge people when they’re vulnerable,” wrote actress Kristen Bell of her own story. “But there’s nothing weak about struggling with mental illness. You’re just having a harder time living in your brain than other people.”
She’s right: Struggling with an illness of any kind makes a person vulnerable, and a sick brain puts a person in a particularly vulnerable state because it’s often impossible to discern the problem from the inside. The sick brain can’t see the sick brain. More often than not, someone in the midst of a depressive episode or panic attack can barely put forth a cry for help.
As people living in Christian community, we should be ready to offer practical knowledge and gracious support to people experiencing mental health crises. With that in mind, here are three ways I believe every church is best positioned to help:

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 4, 2016 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Ansbach bomber was just the latest in a spate of German incidents in the past month. In Wuerzburg, a 17-year-old, who identified himself as an Afghan when he registered as a refugee, rampaged through a train with a knife and an axe, severely wounding several people and reportedly shouting “Allahu akbar.” In Munich, a German-Iranian teenager went on a shooting rampage, killing nine people and himself. In Reutlingen, a pregnant Polish woman was hacked to death by a 21-year-old Syrian refugee.

The Munich killer, who was obsessed with mass shootings, seems to have been more inspired by right-wing fascists than by radical Islam. Some of the attackers had a history of mental problems. But frightened citizens don’t really care about the details. What they see is young Muslim men on the rampage, and authorities who seem helpless and incompetent. The French are demanding to know why two known terror risks were on the loose. Germans want to know why criminals and failed refugee claimants aren’t being forcibly deported.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryCanadaEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 3, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It’s the indirect costs that are high; if anyone wonders why so many of our career politicians are cynics with deep contempt for the public they serve, years of fawning over dumb rich people, pretending to take their silly ideas seriously, assuring each of them that you aren’t like the other stupid rich people, no, you are special, you are smart, and our ten minutes a year friendship punctuated by check writing is deep and sincere—all this tends to corrode the soul. Having a political class who subsist on exploiting the character weaknesses and insatiable narcissism of dilettante plutocrats isn’t the best way to cultivate an ethos of responsibility and patriotism at the highest levels of government.

The fatheaded stupidity of rich liberals is the subtext of the hacked emails: how easily they are exploited, how gullible their vanity makes them, how pathetically eager they are for the hollow satisfaction of a seat next to the powerful. In one sense it’s refreshing: great wealth does not in fact make a nincompoop powerful. Also, it suggests that the real problem with our republic is that what should be our leadership elite is soul-sick: vain, restless, easily miffed, intellectually confused, jealous…

The sense that people like this—a mix of knaves and fools—are running both parties has a lot to do with the anger that fueled both the Sanders and the Trump campaigns. There’s a spiritual disease at work in this, and over time it has the ability to wreck not just individual souls, but our free institutions and the rule of law itself.

Read it all (my emphasis).

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

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


Posted August 3, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But if [Erik] Hurst’s research is accurate (and profit margins from the video-game industry suggest that it is), then the issue becomes much bigger than video games themselves. The portrait that emerges of the young American male indicates an isolated, entertainment-absorbed existence, with only the most childlike social ties (such as with parents and “bros”) playing a meaningful role.

Young men, significantly more so than young women, are stuck in life. Research released in May from the Pew Center documented a historic demographic shift: American men aged 18-30 are now statistically more likely to be living with their parents than with a romantic partner. This trend is significant, for one simple reason: Twenty- and thirtysomething men who are living at home, working part-time or not at all, are unlikely to be preparing for marriage. Hurst’s research says that these men are single, unoccupied, and fine with that—because their happiness doesn’t depend on whether they are growing up and living life.

This prolonged delay of marriage and relational commitment often means a perpetual adolescence in other areas of life. Love and sex are arguably the best incentives for men to assert their adulthood. But in the comfort of their parents’ homes and their gaming systems, young men get to live out their fantasies without the frictions of reality.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEntertainmentMenPornographyScience & TechnologySociologyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 3, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

He was the senior Newcastle cleric with a prominent role on the Anglican Church’s sexual abuse working group in 2003 that developed national professional standards.

But the 13th Anglican Dean of Newcastle, Graeme Lawrence, was also in a “gang of three” protecting a notorious Hunter paedophile priest, and led a Griffith group of offenders to the Hunter who were later defrocked after child sex allegations, the royal commission has heard.

Over the next two weeks the commission will hear evidence Mr Lawrence’s power and influence protected child sex offenders for several decades, but did not end with his defrocking in 2012.

“It is anticipated there will be evidence that Lawrence had, and continues to have, considerable influence in the diocese,” counsel assisting Naomi Sharp told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse sitting in Newcastle on Tuesday.

Read it all from the Newcastle Herald.

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

0 Comments
Posted August 3, 2016 at 5:44 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England is the fastest growing religious group in Finland, growing by 20 per cent over the past year; the Suffragan Bishop in Europe, the Rt Revd David Hamid, has said. But, writing on his Eurobishop blog, Bishop David explained that much of the growth is the result of the continuing arrivals of refugees – many of whom are Anglican – from Sudan and South Sudan.

“Aid agencies warn that the upsurge of fighting in South Sudan will see the humanitarian crisis affecting millions of civilians worsening, he said. “The Finnish government, working with the UN, continues to offer settlement to Sudanese [and] South Sudanese fleeing the violence and war.”

As a result of the new arrivals, the priest in charge of the White Nile Congregations in Finland, part of the Church of England’s Diocese in Europe, finds his work growing. “Our church is fully engaged in many parts of this Nordic country in providing care, a spiritual home and pastoral accompaniment to the new arrivals,” Bishop David said during a visit to Helsinki where he was confirmed a number of candidates at St Nicholas’ Church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeFinland* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 2, 2016 at 4:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even with the U.S. launching airstrikes on an Islamic State stronghold in Libya, the battle to uproot the extremists from the oil-rich North African nation is expected to be long and difficult.

The U.S. began the attacks on Monday and struck again on Tuesday in support of a ground offensive to retake Sirte, a strategic port on the Mediterranean coast. But Islamic State is also entrenched in other pockets across the country, including parts of the eastern city of Benghazi, Libya’s second largest; Derna, another eastern city; and the western town of Sabratha, near the Tunisian border.

The competing militias and centers of power that have stoked Libya’s civil war complicate the fight against Islamic State. The chaos has given the group an opening to gain its first territorial foothold outside its self-declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaLibya* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 2, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Bishop of Lagos Mainland, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Most Rev. Adebayo Dada Akinde, has condemned the proposed immunity for members of the National Assembly.

The bishop spoke yesterday while addressing newsmen in his office in Lagos on the 10th anniversary of his church and his retirement from active service on August 23, as he attains the age of 70.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 2, 2016 at 11:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A devastating story of mass child rape perpetrated by an Anglican paedophile ring is unfolding in the latest hearing of Australia's Royal Commission into child sexual abuse.

The first day of the two-week sessions heard of the crimes perpetrated by Rev Peter Rushton, an Anglican priest who was Archdeacon of Maitland and who died in 2007.

His catalogue of child rape and abuse was finally exposed by an ABC investigation. He led a paedophile ring involving other clergy and lay people from the Newcastle diocese over as many as four decades.

Rushton's godson, Paul Gray, told how he was taken to St Alban's School for Boys in Hunter Valley. This was the 1960s, and boys would be anally and orally raped by groups of men in a locked room called the "f***ing room", according to Daily Mail Australia.

Read it all from Christian Today.

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

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Posted August 2, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Should truth in adver­tising laws apply to religious claims? Should governments be in the business of defining authentic miracles? Which pastors are genuine, and which are fakes?

However fanciful such questions might seem, all these issues are very much alive in contemporary Africa. The Christian upsurge of the past half century has been marked by widespread claims of healing and miracles, often in the context of charismatic revivals and crusades. As in any such great awakening since apostolic times, a number of wild and bizarre claims have been made, and there is some evidence of active fraud. Every society has its own versions of Elmer Gan­try, people who use religious deception as a money-making tool. The question then arises of who is meant to regulate or suppress such outbreaks.

One early attempt oc­curred in Nigeria in 2004, when the National Broad­casting Commission tried to prohibit anyone from showing “unverifiable” miracle healings on television.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfrica* Religion News & CommentaryReligious Freedom / Persecution* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 2, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is just the latest intervention by Christian figures in political debates on the matter. Jozef De Kesel, the Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels in Belgium, which has the world’s most liberal assisted-dying laws, suggested in January that the country’s church-run hospitals should be allowed to opt out of helping patients end their lives. And in June Pope Francis said to a group of Spanish and Latin American doctors that “true compassion does not marginalise anyone, nor does it humiliate and exclude, much less considers the disappearance of a person as a good thing.” He cautioned against a “throwaway culture that rejects and dismisses those who do not comply with certain canons of health, beauty and utility.” Life is sacred, he added, and should shine “with greater splendour precisely in suffering and helplessness”.

Research shows that religious people are more likely than the non-religious to oppose assisted dying. But there is wide variation between faiths. A survey of Britons, carried out by YouGov in 2013, found that only three in ten Muslims felt the law should be changed to allow close friends and relatives to help people with incurable diseases take their own lives, should they wish to do so. Around half of Hindus and Sikhs surveyed agreed, and six in ten Catholics, Methodists, Baptists and Buddhists. Seven in ten Jews, and 77% of Anglicans, supported such a change in the law. For comparison, 85% of people who claimed no faith were in favour of legalising assisted dying.

Some Anglican leaders are starting to shift their positions. The general synod of the Anglican church in Canada, where doctor-assisted dying was recently legalised, has written guidance on the issue for its congregation. Though it does not go as far as to support doctor-assisted dying, it does not oppose its legalisation, either. “The societal and legal context within which the pastoral and prophetic ministry of the church takes place has shifted,” it notes.

Read it all (their title, it would never be mine).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsPsychology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryCanadaEuropeBelgium* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 1, 2016 at 4:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Another gay Anglican vicar has married his long-term male partner, defying the Church of England's ban on clergy entering same-sex marriages.

Rev Paul Collier has kept his position as priest of St Hugh's in the Diocese of Southwark after he converted his civil partnership to a marriage in early June with a celebratory service in London.

Collier admitted his marriage put him at odds with the House of Bishops, the body which issued guidance banning clergy from entering gay marriages. He told Christian Today that he had heard from his bishop, and said he had been dealt with "in accordance with the House of Bishops' pastoral statement on same-sex marriage".

He declined to elaborate but said: "My personal reading of the situation is I am unlikely to obtain any other positions within the Church of England." But he said he would continue to serve as a priest at his current church.

Read it all from Christian Today.

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

1 Comments
Posted August 1, 2016 at 3:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Same-sex marriage and opposite-sex civil partnerships

On Friday, the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Amendment) Act 2016 came into force on the Isle of Man following its approval by Tynwald earlier this year. It will be remembered that homosexuality was only decriminalized in 1992 and official recognition for same-sex couples was not available until 2011, when civil partnerships were introduced. An important aspect of the new law is that it permits opposite-sex couples to enter civil partnerships and, even though it is not part of the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man has become the first jurisdiction in the British Isles to offer such a choice to heterosexual couples.

We will watch with interest the response of the Diocese of Sodor and Man to these developments – perhaps this is something to be left for the in-tray of the next Lord Bishop, following the retirement of Robert Paterson on 11 November 2016?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 1, 2016 at 1:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Isle of Palms became the first town in South Carolina to ban plastic bags last year, and now Charleston and Folly Beach are looking to curb consumption of the single-use bags, possibly by banning them or imposing a fee at checkout counters.

In doing so they could bring the nationwide fight over plastic bags to South Carolina, which happens to be the headquarters of one of the largest packaging manufacturers in North America, a company leading the fight against such restrictions.

Folly Beach City Council is voting at its Aug. 9 meeting on whether to prevent the island’s merchants from distributing or selling plastic bags, and also Styrofoam coolers. Members of Charleston County and city of Charleston government, environmental groups and nonprofit organizations have joined forces on an online survey to gauge how the public feels about measures to curb plastic bag use.

Read it all from the local paper.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentState Government* General InterestAnimals* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 31, 2016 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Like doping scandals today, rigged outcomes and cheating, though not common, certainly did tarnish the ancient Games. Visit Olympia, and you can still see the bases of the “Zanes,” bronze statues of Zeus erected from fines imposed on cheating athletes, with inscriptions naming and shaming the culprits. But nothing diminished the allure of the Olympics. Only Christianity could overcome them. With the banning of pagan practices by the Roman Emperor Theodosius in A.D. 391, their days were numbered, and by 425 the Olympics were no more.

For well over a thousand years the Games survived seismic shifts in politics and society, not to mention long-raging wars. Their religious focus undoubtedly played a major part in their longevity. And they evolved, too, with new contests being introduced (those for heralds and trumpeters were perhaps the most bizarre) while others (such as the mule race) were phased out.

But it was more than all that, and here we arrive at the continuing appeal of the modern Games as well. The philosopher Epictetus put his finger on it. Even as he noted “the cacophony, the din, the jostling, the shoving [and] the crowding” of the ancient Games, he had to admit that “you are happy to put up with all this when you think of the splendor of the spectacles.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureSports* International News & CommentaryEuropeGreece* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 29, 2016 at 11:12 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has begun a “rapid evidence assessment” as part of its investigation into the Anglican Churches in England and Wales, the Inquiry’s Counsel, Ben Emmerson QC, said this week.

Mr Emmerson made his com­ments on Wednesday at the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand, Lon­don, where Justice Lowell Goddard was holding a series of preliminary hearings into the Inquiry’s different strands.

He revealed that the Inquiry’s research team was sifting through information and evidence from 114 different sources. Among them was the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England, which had sup­plied over 7000 items of evidence relating to the diocese of Chichester and the case of Bishop Peter Ball, which are being used as case studies by the Inquiry.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted July 29, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From my vantage point in the evangelical landscape, I am incredibly optimistic about the future of the church. I know we have lots of cause for concern about “the culture,” and I know the church tasked with proclaiming the kingdom in it seems pretty shaky right now. But I when I take a sober look at the young Christians (the millennials!) training for gospel ministry and thinking hard about mission, I like where their head’s at. The rest of us, on the other hand . . .

I find it incredibly interesting, sort of amusing, and more than a bit sad that the attractional church—what we used to call the “seeker church”—hasn’t seemed to grow up at all. Yes, it’s grown big. But growing big and growing up aren’t the same thing. I was thinking about this recently after a few people posted a video of one of the landmark attractional churches featuring a ’90s boy band throwback segment in their worship service. I’m sure it was a lot of fun. I’m also sure it was especially fun for those whose heyday was the ’90s. It’s the same fun that was had by the worship team in my ’90s attractional youth group who were constantly reworking rock hits from the ’70s to make them more Jesusy (“Peaceful, Easy Feelin,” anybody? How about a little “Talkin’ about my Jesus—he’s some kind of wonderful”?).

And it occurs to me that, exceptions being granted, the attractional church is specifically designed for what was said to “work” 20 years ago....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted July 28, 2016 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pew Research Center’s new survey on human enhancement finds a broad wariness about the prospect of technologies aimed at making people smarter, stronger and healthier. Americans who are highly religious tend to be the most concerned about these possible developments, which include genetic engineering, cognitive augmentation and synthetic blood.

Fact Tank sat down with two experts on science and bioethics who have different views on human enhancement – Christian Brugger and Anders Sandberg – to explore what these new findings might mean. Brugger, who is a professor of moral theology at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, Colorado, believes that people are right to be concerned about the social impact of human enhancement. Sandberg, a research fellow at the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University, thinks that, on balance, human enhancement will improve and enrich our lives.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & TechnologySociology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 28, 2016 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Could the jihadists inspired by Islamic State stoop any lower? Father Jacques Hamel was 85 years old. His young attackers reportedly attempted to behead him in front of the altar of his church. They failed in that but succeeded in killing him and in proving, once again, that an evil is stalking the continent and it is willing to plumb any depths in its attempts to terrorise and enslave us.

Christians in other parts of the world will not have been surprised at the blood spilt in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen. Some feel that we, in the West, have turned our backs on their sufferings. “We feel forgotten and isolated,” complained Louis Sako, the Chaldean Archbishop of Baghdad: “We sometimes wonder, if they kill us all, what would be the reaction of Christians in the West? Would they do something then?”

While estimates of the global scale of religious slaughter and harassment differ wildly, there is enough evidence to suggest that religious persecution is widespread and growing. The Open Doors charity is a respected and relatively cautious chronicler of persecution and it estimates that an average of 322 Christians are killed every month as a direct consequence of their faith, while 214 churches or Christian properties are demolished, burnt down or in some way destroyed. Overall, Open Doors records, Christians are subject to 772 acts of violence — including beatings, abductions, rapes, arrests or forced marriages — each month.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 27, 2016 at 9:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The more religious a person is, the more likely they are to oppose genetic engineering that could enhance minds and bodies, and help babies suffering from genetic diseases.

According to a new Pew Research Center survey, many US adults oppose the application of breakthroughs in bio-engineering.

"In general, the most religious are the most wary about potential enhancements," says Pew.

Read it all from Christian Today.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLife EthicsScience & Technology* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 27, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"We welcome todays update on the investigation into the Anglican Church in England and Wales and the acknowledgment from the Inquiry that the material already submitted is relevant and useful. We note that the Inquiry has received a substantial amount of material from us and other core participants and the analysis of this is now underway as is the process of identifying possible witnesses....

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted July 27, 2016 at 3:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The gravity of this crisis has long been hidden by what we like to call the construction of Europe. The energies of our political class have been devoted to buttressing the authority of an enterprise that delegitimizes the nation and promises a new way of bringing humans together. As national political life becomes less and less satisfying, citizens and government officials look elsewhere. The people, unhappy with government, and the government, unhappy with the people, both turn their faces toward the promised land of Europe, a new, post-political way of being, in which each would finally be rid of the other.

These sweet hopes have become less and less plausible. Those who govern and those who are governed remain prisoners of each other. And both are prisoners of a European Union that is now just one more insoluble problem. Neither the institutions of Europe, nor the government of France, nor what is called civil society have enough strength or credibility to claim the attention or fix the hopes of citizens. As rich as we still are in material and intellectual resources, we are politically weak. Nothing seems to have the power to gather us toward the common action we all feel necessary. Faced with crises such as Greek default and the attacks of radical Islamists, we are capable only of offering technical fixes or hollow platitudes. Real political leadership of the kind that calls on our deepest loyalties and highest capacities is nowhere to be seen.

This political weakness has not escaped the attention of those who now attack us. To be sure, when men have at each other, they do not precisely calculate the power ratios, and it sometimes happens that the weaker attacks the stronger. Still, it would be a mistake to look at things this way. When some of our citizens take up arms against us so brazenly and implacably, this means that not only our state, our government, and our political body but we ourselves have lost the capacity to gather and direct our powers, to give our common life form and force....

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted July 26, 2016 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

ST.-ÉTIENNE-DU-ROUVRAY, France — Attendance was sparse at the 9 a.m. Mass on Tuesday at the Église St.-Étienne, a 17th-century church in a working-class town in Normandy. Many regular parishioners were on vacation; so was the parish priest.

Mass was ending around 9:30 a.m. when two young men with knives burst in. They forced the auxiliary priest, the Rev. Jacques Hamel, 85, to kneel. When he resisted, they slit his throat. They held several worshipers and at least one nun hostage, while another nun escaped. Officers from a specialized police unit descended on the church. A short while later, officers shot the young men dead when they emerged from the church.

The brutality in St.-Étienne-du-Rouvray, a suburb of Rouen in northern France, was the latest in a series of assaults that have left Europe stunned, fearful and angry. President François Hollande raced to the town and blamed the Islamic State for the attack; soon after, the terrorist group claimed responsibility, calling the attackers its “soldiers.”

It was the fourth attack linked to the Islamic State in Western Europe in less than two weeks

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 26, 2016 at 4:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Recent fighting in South Sudan has to date forced 37,491 people to flee to Uganda. To put this in context: more refugees have arrived in Uganda in the past three weeks than during the entire first six months of 2016, when 33,838 came there in search of safety.

On 25 July an estimated 2,442 refugees were received in Uganda from South Sudan. Some 1,213 crossed at the Elugu border point in Amuru, 247 in Moyo, 57 in Lamwo and 370 in Oraba. Another 555 were received at the Kiryandongo settlement. The majority of arrivals – more than 90 per cent – are women and children. People are coming from South Sudan’s Eastern Equatoria region, as well as Juba and other areas of the country.

UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards told a press briefing in Geneva that the intensity of the violence that broke out in South Sudan between rival factions loyal to Salva Kiir and Riek Machar has subsided since early July. However, the security situation remains volatile.

Read it all.

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

1 Comments
Posted July 26, 2016 at 12:58 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).

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

0 Comments
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

0 Comments
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

0 Comments
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

0 Comments
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

0 Comments
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.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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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.”

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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....

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.'

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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

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

5 Comments
Posted July 15, 2016 at 6:01 pm [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

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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

0 Comments
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.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireRace/Race RelationsViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralSenate* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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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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0 Comments
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

0 Comments
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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0 Comments
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.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureWomen* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
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.

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

0 Comments
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.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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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.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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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.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireMarriage & FamilyPhilosophyPsychologyRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureSociologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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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.

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

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




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