Posted by Kendall Harmon

Anglican Bishops in Nigeria on Wednesday appealed to the Niger Delta militants to stop the bombing of the oil facilities in their region, saying that shutting down the economy will not address their grievances.

They appealed to the militants to sheath the swords and give peace a chance in the interest of all Nigerians.

Delivering his opening address at the ongoing Church of Nigeria Standing Committee holding in Awka, the Primate of All Nigeria, Most Rev'd. Nicholas Okoh, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to convene a roundtable meeting between the government and them in order to address their grievances.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Think about the people at work who are part of your network — the individuals who help you improve your performance or provide you with emotional support when you are going through a tough spell. If you’re like most people, the colleagues who come to mind are those you get along with and who have a good impression of you. But has anyone in your network actually given you tough feedback?

Your likely answer is “not many.” As I discovered in recent research I conducted with Paul Green of Harvard Business School and Brad Staats of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, people tend to move away from those who provide feedback that is more negative than their view of themselves. They do not listen to their advice and prefer to stop interacting with them altogether. It seems that people tend to strengthen their bonds with people who only see their positive qualities.

In one of our studies, we used four years of archival data on over 300 full-time employees at a United States-based food manufacturing and agribusiness company. The company has a fluid structure that gives employees some discretion in defining the scope, responsibilities, and deliverables of their role on an annual basis.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 21, 2016 at 11:24 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In 2013 the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, declared war on Wonga and other payday lenders crucifying borrowers with 5,000% interest loans. Three years later it looks as if his prayers may have been answered.

CFO Lending, which was fined £34m this week by the Financial Conduct Authority, is just the latest operator brought to its knees by regulators punishing bad lending behaviour. CFO, which traded under brand names Payday First, Money Resolve and Flexible First, will have to hand money back to nearly 100,000 victims of its unfair practices.

Citizens Advice said complaints about payday loans have collapsed by 86% between 2013 and 2016. But campaigners warn that the industry is reinventing itself with still “eye-watering” interest rates on three-month loans aimed at people earning less than £20,000 a year on insecure work contracts.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 21, 2016 at 6:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I've been reading a lot about a "recovering" economy. It was even trumpeted on Page 1 of The New York Times and Financial Times last week.

I don't think it's true.

The percentage of Americans who say they are in the middle or upper-middle class has fallen 10 percentage points, from a 61% average between 2000 and 2008 to 51% today.

Ten percent of 250 million adults in the U.S. is 25 million people whose economic lives have crashed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 20, 2016 at 11:22 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Federal authorities said they are investigating the stabbing of nine people Saturday night in a shopping mall in St. Cloud, Minn., as a possible terrorist act, and a news agency linked to Islamic State said the group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The suspect is a Somali-American man who was known to local police but hadn’t previously been on the radar of counterterrorism investigators in Minnesota, according to an official familiar with the investigation. For years, Minnesota has grappled with the radicalization of some young men in the state’s Somali community.

“We are currently investigating this as a potential act of terrorism,” Richard Thornton, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Minneapolis division, said at a news conference Sunday. “We do not at this point in time know whether the subject was in contact with, had connections with, was inspired by, a foreign terrorist organization.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted September 18, 2016 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Religion is big bucks — worth $1.2 trillion annually to the American economy, according to the first comprehensive study to tabulate such a figure.

“In perspective, that would make religion the 15th largest national economy in the world, ahead of 180 other countries in terms of value,” said Georgetown University’s Brian Grim, the study’s author.

“That would also make American religion larger than the global revenues of the top 10 tech companies, including Apple, Amazon and Google,” he continued. “It would also make it 50 percent larger than the six largest American oil companies’ revenue on an annual basis.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSociology* Economics, PoliticsEconomy* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther Faiths

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Posted September 18, 2016 at 3:41 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“You seem pretty positive, what types of things bring you down?”....

“Show me (role play) how you would show a customer you’re willing to help them by only using your voice....”

“If you’re given a jar with a mix of fair and unfair coins, and you pull one out and flip it 3 times, and get the specific sequence heads heads tails, what are the chances that you pulled out a fair or an unfair coin?”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 17, 2016 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



(Hat Tip: @MaxCRoser+ourworldindata.com)

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 16, 2016 at 8:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I’ll be honest, this made me mad. Hansen oh-so-blithely presumes that he, simply by virtue of his job title, is entitled to special privileges on Facebook. But why, precisely, should that be the case? The entire premise of Facebook, indeed, the underpinning of the company’s success, is that it is a platform that can be used by every single person on earth. There are no gatekeepers, and certainly no outside editors. Demanding special treatment from Facebook because one controls a printing press is not only nonsensical it is downright antithetical to not just the premise of Facebook but the radical liberty afforded by the Internet. Hansen can write his open letter on aftenposten.no and I can say he’s being ridiculous on stratechery.com and there is not a damn thing anyone, including Mark Zuckerberg, can do about it.

Make no mistake, I recognize the threats Facebook poses to discourse and politics; I’ve written about them explicitly. There are very real concerns that people are not being exposed to news that makes them uncomfortable, and Hansen is right that the photo in question is an example of exactly why making people feel uncomfortable is so important.

But it should also not be forgotten that the prison of engagement-driving news that people are locking themselves in is one of their own making: no one is forced to rely on Facebook for news, just as Aftenposten isn’t required to post its news on Facebook. And on the flipside, the freedom and reach afforded by the Internet remain so significant that the editor-in-chief of a newspaper I had never previously read can force the CEO of one of the most valuable companies in the world to accede to his demands by rousing worldwide outrage.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingMediaScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 16, 2016 at 7:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Admittedly, his face has adorned more religious imagery than any other in history.

But now Jesus is being put forward as an icon of an entirely different sort – in the world of fashion.

The Church of England has given its blessing to London Fashion Week with an official video making the Biblical case for the clothing industry.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 16, 2016 at 6:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The eye-popping improvement in economic fortunes last year raises the question: If incomes are up and poverty is down, why is Donald J. Trump’s message of economic decay resonating so broadly?

The answer is in plain sight. While the economy finally is moving in the right direction, the real incomes of most American households still are smaller than in the late 1990s. And large swaths of the country — rural America, industrial centers in the Rust Belt and Appalachia — are lagging behind.

“We ain’t feeling too much of all that economic growth that I heard was going on, patting themselves on the back,” said Ralph Kingan, the mayor of Wright, Wyo. “It ain’t out in the West.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentFederal ReservePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted September 15, 2016 at 11:21 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop of the Diocese of Kaduna, Anglican Communion, Reverend Timothy Yahaya, has lamented the high cost of living Nigerians are presently going through.

He noted that the present hardship was biting hard on the masses, stressing that it was further made worse due to the sharp increase in the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).

Reverend Timothy observed that Nigerian economy was fuel driven; therefore any hike in fuel would have an immidiate effect on virtually every aspect of everyday life in the country.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria

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Posted September 14, 2016 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“I just bootleg the gospel,” Howard Butt Jr. told 1,500 Baptist men in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1954. Butt meant he had no license to preach, but that didn’t stop him from doing it. The 89-year-old well-known author and speaker, as well as creator of the Laity Lodge Retreat Center, passed away yesterday evening from complications related to Parkinson’s.
“Howard was a mentor, a motivator, and a model servant whose mind and heart were profoundly poured out on me at a most critical time,” said Christianity Today International president and CEO Harold Smith.
“His words of exhortation and encouragement to both my wife and me during a challenging first year of executive leadership offered us the assurances of God’s watchcare and direction—even in an industry experiencing such tumultuous change,” Smith stated. “Truly, the power of Howard’s presence in word and deed has left a God-anointed legacy that will inspire me and the entire CT team for years to come.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the LaityStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 12, 2016 at 2:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Obamacare failed because it flunked Economics 101 and Human Nature 101. It straitjacketed insurers into providing overly expensive, soup-to-nuts policies. It wasn't flexible enough so that people could buy as much coverage as they wanted and could afford — not what the government dictated. Many healthy people primarily want catastrophic coverage. Obamacare couldn't lure them in, couldn't persuade them to buy on the chance they'd get sick.

Obamacare failed because the penalties for going uncovered are too low when stacked against its skyrocketing premium costs. Next year, the penalty for staying uninsured is $695 per adult, or perhaps 2.5 percent of a family's taxable household income. That's far less than many Americans would pay for coverage. Financial incentive: Skip Obamacare....

Obamacare failed because it hasn't tamed U.S. medical costs. Health care is about supply and demand: People who get coverage use it, especially if the law mandates free preventive care. Iron law of economics: Nothing is free; someone pays. To pretend otherwise was folly. Those forces combined to spike the costs of care, and thus insurance costs.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

2 Comments
Posted September 12, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Younger Americans are way more optimistic than older ones.

In fact, those under 35 have never been more optimistic about the future than those over 55.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHistoryMiddle AgePsychologySociologyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 9, 2016 at 5:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nigeria is on the brink of "a famine unlike any we have ever seen anywhere", according to the United Nations.

Nearly a quarter of a million children in Nigeria's north east are severely malnourished, according to the UN's Assistant Secretary-General Toby Lanzer.

Millions more are thought to be starving in refugee camps that are too dangerous for aid agencies to reach.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDieting/Food/NutritionPoverty* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 9, 2016 at 4:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last year, it was almost unimaginable that the Republican and Democratic parties would end up nominating their most polarising, politically compromised candidates to contest this year's presidential election. But they did. Waleed Aly, Scott Stephens and Timothy Lynch consider what this means.

In 2016, American voters are faced with the strange prospect of voting, not so much for their favoured candidate, as against their rival.

As a result, neither candidate can really win; they can only hope that the other one loses. But is it enough not to lose? Is something more demanded by this election?

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Australia / NZ* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted September 9, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Amazon seems like a tough place to work, whether you are in the marketing department in Seattle or in a warehouse in Allentown, Pa., where workers have been reported to collapse from exhaustion trying to fulfill their daily quota of shipments. But Amazon is only one especially visible example of the sorry state of work in the digital economy. American workers put in more time on the job than most of their global economic peers, and increasingly, the boundary between work and not-work is a fuzzy one. As a result, the labor force increasingly experiences work as precarious, discontinuous and materially unrewarding.

There is also a problem in the way we talk about our work. As the stability of work that characterized the industrial era becomes rarer, the terms that theologians, philosophers and the magisterium developed to describe the moral significance of jobs—not just terms like career and craft, but vocation and co-creativity, too—become irrelevant. Despite the strength of its social teaching, the Catholic Church, not to mention many Protestant denominations, has yet to develop terms people in the postindustrial West can use to connect their work to their religious commitments.

For most Christian groups, the issue of work is a theological demilitarized zone. Clergy and laity tend not to discuss it. Clergy often have work experience outside the church to draw upon in the (unlikely) event that a congregant seeks guidance on a work issue, but they almost certainly have no theological training on this topic. Courses on marriage and sexuality are staples of university and seminary curricula, but courses on work are rare. This mutually acceptable silence is a great pastoral failure, a squandered opportunity to understand the universal call to holiness in everyday economic life.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 7, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The following may be the most shocking number I give you today: in 2015, 22 percent of lower-skilled men aged 21–30 had not worked at all during the prior 12 months. Think about that for a second. Every time I see it, that number blows my mind. In 2000, the fraction of young, lower-skilled men that didn’t work at all during the prior year was a little under 10 percent. Men in their 20s historically are a group with a strong attachment to the labor force. The decline in employment rates for low-skilled men in their 20s was larger than it was for all other sex, age, and skill groups during this same time period.

You may have a few questions in the back of your mind. If they are not working, where do these young, low-skilled men live? Our basements! According to recent data, 51 percent of lower-skilled men in their 20s live with a parent or close relative. That number was only 35 percent in 2000. In 2014, 70 percent of lower-skilled men in their 20s without a job lived with a parent or close relative.

If they are not working, how do these young men eat? We—the parents and relatives—feed them. When they are in our basements, they come up for food from time to time and raid our refrigerators. I have no information on whether or not they are showering.

Are these young, nonworking, lower-skilled men who are living in their parents’ basements married? You may be surprised to hear this: they are not.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenScience & TechnologyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted September 6, 2016 at 4:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This Labor Day, we draw our attention to our sisters and brothers who face twin crises—deep trials in both the world of work and the state of the family. These challenging times can pull us toward despair and all the many dangers that come with it. Into this reality, the Church shares a word of hope, directing hearts and minds to the dignity of each human person and the sanctity of work itself, which is given by God. She seeks to replace desperation and isolation with human concern and true solidarity, reaffirming the trust in a good and gracious God who knows what we need before we ask him (Mt. 6:8).

A World of Work in Disarray

We behold signs that have become too familiar in the years following the Great Recession: stagnant wages, industry leaving towns and cities behind, and the sharp decline in the rate of private-sector organized labor, which fell by more than two-thirds between 1973 and 2009 down to 7%. Millions of families still find themselves living in poverty, unable to work their way out. Poverty rates among children are alarmingly high, with almost 40 percent of American children spending at least one year in poverty before they turn eighteen. Although this reality is felt nation-wide, this year new research has emerged showing the acute pain of middle and rural America in the wake of the departure of industry. Once the center of labor and the promise of family-sustaining wages, research shows these communities collapsing today, substance abuse on the rise, and an increase in the number of broken families.

Family in Crisis

The family is bent under the weight of these economic pressures and related cultural problems.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 5, 2016 at 4:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O Almighty God and Heavenly Father, who by thy divine providence has appointed for each of us our work in life, and hast commanded us that we should not be slothful in business, but fervent in spirit, serving thee; help us always to remember that our work is thy appointment, and to do it heartily as unto thee. Preserve us from slothfulness, and make us to live with loins girded and lamps burning, that whensoever our Lord may come, we may be found striving earnestly to finish the work that thou hast given us to do; through the same Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

0 Comments
Posted September 5, 2016 at 4:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We honor too the contributions of labor to the strength and safety of our Nation. America's capacity for leadership in the world depends on the character of our society at home; and, in a turbulent and uncertain world, our leadership would falter unless our domestic society is robust and progressive. The labor movement in the United States has made an indispensable contribution both to the vigor of our democracy and to the advancement of the ideals of freedom around the earth.

We can take satisfaction on this Labor Day in the health and energy of our national society. The events of this year have shown a quickening of democratic spirit and vitality among our people. We can take satisfaction too in the continued steady gain in living standards. The Nation's income, output, and employment have reached new heights. More than 70 million men and women are working in our factories, on our farms, and in our shops and services. The average factory wage is at an all-time high of more than $100 a week. Prices have remained relatively stable, so the larger paycheck means a real increase in purchasing power for the average American family.

Yet our achievements, notable as they are, must not distract us from the things we have yet to achieve. If satisfaction with the status quo had been the American way, we would still be 13 small colonies straggling along the Atlantic coast. I urge all Americans, on this Labor Day, to consider what we can do as individuals and as a nation to move speedily ahead on four major fronts.

First, we must accelerate our effort against unemployment and for the expansion of jobs and opportunity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted September 5, 2016 at 1:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The gig economy has been hyped. It poses as the labor market’s new reality. It isn’t. The new reality is how the old reality is being remade. We don’t really know why this happened. A plausible explanation is that the multiplication of alternative work arrangements was a consequence of the Great Recession, which created mass unemployment and shifted bargaining power to companies. People desperate for work can’t be too picky in their choices. Employers seized the opportunities to cut costs.

What’s needed is a check on potential employer abuse. The good news is that U.S. workers may be retrieving some of their lost bargaining power. The supply-and-demand dynamics for labor look more favorable. As the recovery has continued, the unemployed pool has shrunk. In August, the jobless rate was 4.9 percent, down from a peak of 10 percent. In addition, the retirement of baby boomers reinforces the competition for good workers, exerting upward pressure on wages and giving workers more choice.

Other forces push in the same direction. Immigration seems likely to abate. The huge influx of women into the paid labor market seems to have crested. All this shifts the bargaining advantage to workers. It is unlikely to be offset by the advent of more robots, another trend that has been hyped.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O God, who hast taught us that none should be idle: Grant to all the people of this land both the desire and the opportunity to labour; that, working together with one heart and mind, they may set forward the welfare of mankind, and glorify thy holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

0 Comments
Posted September 5, 2016 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...a calling requires certain preconditions. It requires more than desires; it requires talent. Not everyone can be, simply by desiring it, an opera singer, or professional athlete, or leader of a large enterprise. For a calling to be right, it must fit our abilities. Another precondition is love -- not just love of the final product but, as the essayist Logan Pearsall Smith once put it, "The test of a vocation is love of drudgery it involves." Long hours, frustrations, small steps forward, struggles: unless these too are welcomed with a certain joy, the claim to being called has a hollow ring.

--Working: Its Meaning and Its Limits, ed. Gilbert C. Meilaender (Notre Dame: Notre Dame University Press, 2000), pp.124-125, emphasis mine

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

0 Comments
Posted September 5, 2016 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Labor Day is an appropriate moment to reflect on a quiet catastrophe: the collapse, over two generations, of work for American men. During the past half-century, work rates for U.S. males spiraled relentlessly downward. America is now home to a vast army of jobless men who are no longer even looking for work—roughly seven million of them age 25 to 54, the traditional prime of working life.

This is arguably a crisis, but it is hardly ever discussed in the public square. Received wisdom holds that the U.S. is at or near “full employment.” Most readers have probably heard this, perhaps from the vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, who said in a speech last week that “it is a remarkable, and perhaps underappreciated, achievement that the economy has returned to near-full employment in a relatively short time after the Great Recession.”

Near-full employment? In 2015 the work rate (the ratio of employment to population) for American males age 25 to 54 was 84.4%. That’s slightly lower than it had been in 1940, 86.4%, at the tail end of the Great Depression. Benchmarked against 1965, when American men were at genuine full employment, the “male jobs deficit” in 2015 would be nearly 10 million, even after taking into account an older population and more adults in college.

Read it all from Nicholas Eberstadt.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 5, 2016 at 10:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On this day—this American holiday- we are celebrating the rights of free laboring men and women.

The preservation of these rights is vitally important now, not only to us who enjoy them—but to the whole future of Christian civilization.

American labor now bears a tremendous responsibility in the winning of this most brutal, most terrible of all wars.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropology

0 Comments
Posted September 5, 2016 at 9:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O Lord Jesus Christ, who in thy earthly life didst share man’s toil, and thereby hallow the labour of his hands: Prosper all those who maintain the industries of this land; and give them pride in their work, a just reward for their labour, and joy both in supplying the needs of others and in serving thee their Saviour; who with the Father and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

0 Comments
Posted September 5, 2016 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

ZENIT spoke with Father Tarcisio Giuseppe Stramare of the Congregation of Oblates of Saint Joseph, director of the Josephite Movement, about Tuesday's feast of St. Joseph the Worker....

ZENIT: What does “Gospel of work” mean?

Father Stramare: “Gospel” is the Good News that refers to Jesus, the Savior of humanity. Well, despite the fact that in general we see Jesus as someone who teaches and does miracles, he was so identified with work that in his time he was regarded as “the son of the carpenter,” namely, an artisan himself. Among many possible activities, the Wisdom of God chose for Jesus manual work, entrusted the education of his Son not to the school of the learned but to a humble artisan, namely, St. Joseph.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyTheology: Scripture

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On this three day weekend, when we rest from our usual labors, loving Father, we pray for all who shoulder the tasks of human labor—in the marketplace, in factories and offices, in the professions, and in family living.

We thank you, Lord, for the gift and opportunity of work; may our efforts always be pure of heart, for the good of others and the glory of your name.

We lift up to you all who long for just employment and those who work to defend the rights and needs of workers everywhere.

May those of us who are now retired always remember that we still make a valuable contribution to our Church and our world by our prayers and deeds of charity.

May our working and our resting all give praise to you until the day we share together in eternal rest with all our departed in your Kingdom as you live and reign Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

--The Archdiocese of Detroit

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

0 Comments
Posted September 5, 2016 at 7:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In some cases, churches had banded together to use their collective buying power to secure green energy tariffs from companies that bought or produced at least 80 per cent of their electricity from renewable sources, said Tim Gee, campaigns leader at Christian Aid.

A number had saved money but in certain instances this was because the churches had not switched suppliers in a long time, he said.

“The very cheapest electricity supplier is still fossil fuels,” he said, but the churches had still been able to obtain the cheapest available renewable energy tariffs.

The overriding reason for acting, he added, was to send a message to governments and investors that there needed to be a shift away from fossil fuels if the world were to avoid dangerous levels of climate change.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock MarketEnergy, Natural Resources* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is eerie and depressing to read Vance’s account of his mother–a drug addict in and out of rehab, with a series of husbands and boyfriends rotating in and out of the house. He describes a close relative as “a classic welfare queen.” He writes about 9-month-old babies being fed Pepsi in their bottles, and the abuse of food stamps he saw as a cashier at the local grocery store. All of these things were clichés deployed by Ronald Reagan, and dismissed by liberals, when he railed against poverty and welfare in 1980. But the conservative belief that the underclass was caused by federal antipoverty programs is clearly insufficient too. Vance makes it clear that the problem is profoundly cultural, a consequence of wanton commercialism, the loosening of moral standards and a lack of rigorous training for young men. Vance was saved by the Marine Corps and the support of a single loving adult, his grandmother.

Hillbilly Elegy makes the current political dialogue seem fatuous. Both parties are incapable of discussing the real sources of our national dyspepsia, or how to deal with them. Forces like the global economy, racism and federal programs that cultivated dependency have all been part of the problem. But what we have now is something different: a bottom-up crisis of individual responsibility, largely beyond the reach of public policy. Indeed, some of the “solutions” proposed by each of the parties are likely to make things worse.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilySociology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinancePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Kyle Schwartz started teaching third grade at Doull Elementary School in Denver, she wanted to get to know her students better. She asked them to finish the sentence “I wish my teacher knew.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationHealth & MedicineMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 1, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“All hands on deck” may become a thing of the past.

Ship designers, their operators and regulators are gearing up for a future in which cargo vessels sail the oceans with minimal or even no crew. Advances in automation and ample bandwidth even far offshore could herald the biggest change in shipping since diesel engines replaced steam.

Ship operators believe more automation will enable them to optimize ship use, including cutting fuel consumption. “The benefit of automation is as an enabler of further efficiency across the 630 vessels we operate,” said Palle Laursen, head of Maersk Line Ship Management, a unit of cargo-ship giant A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketEnergy, Natural Resources* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 31, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Is the marriage between liberal democracy and global capitalism an enduring one? Political developments across the west — particularly the candidacy of an authoritarian populist for the presidency of the most important democracy — heighten the importance of this question. One cannot take for granted the success of the political and economic systems that guide the western world and have been a force of attraction for much of the rest for four decades. The question then arises: if not these, what?

A natural connection exists between liberal democracy — the combination of universal suffrage with entrenched civil and personal rights — and capitalism, the right to buy and sell goods, services, capital and one’s own labour freely. They share the belief that people should make their own choices as individuals and as citizens. Democracy and capitalism share the assumption that people are entitled to exercise agency. Humans must be viewed as agents, not just as objects of other people’s power.

Yet it is also easy to identify tensions between democracy and capitalism. Democracy is egalitarian. Capitalism is inegalitarian, at least in terms of outcomes. If the economy flounders, the majority might choose authoritarianism, as in the 1930s. If economic outcomes become too unequal, the rich might turn democracy into plutocracy.

Read it all (if necessary another link is there).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 30, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the last few years, despite claims of being a growing economy, the standard of living in Nigeria has continued to fall dramatically. Interestingly, this fall in the human condition seems to have created a fertile environment for the emergence of the kind of deep religious spirituality that has ironically placed our country on top of both the most religious and corrupt nations of the world. One would ordinarily expect that in this environment of widespread moral degeneracy, religious leaders would rise up to their prophetic responsibility of not only speaking truth to power and working for the enthronement of a just social order, but also of showing good example in the manner in their personal conduct. But this is not the case. In a nation where millions of people go to bed hungry every day, some of today’s acclaimed preachers have ridden on the crest of our collective social dysfunction to financial stardom.

Add to this phenomenon the rise of nouveau riche prosperity gospel preachers who continue to feast on the ignorance and gullibility of the people, capitalizing on their socio-economic condition to rob them of their faith and money. Through the prosperity gospel, the hawking of miracles, signs and wonders, the advertisement of God-induced financial breakthroughs, and the crave and craze for hedonistic materialism, the public face of religion in Nigeria has been so battered and badly disfigured, such that if Jesus Christ were to come back today on earth, he would be hard pressed to recognize our version of Christianity as what he bequeathed to us. Just take a cursory look at the lifestyle of some of today’s acclaimed men of God. Their highly materialistic way of life is a brutal affront to the gospel of Jesus Christ. They lack every iota of modesty, frugality, and simplicity.
Today, the Christian gospel has become so reduced to financial inducements and promises of wealth and power. In today’s religious geography, God is more or less a first-aid box, a quick fixer and a money doubler.

Read it all (my emphasis) [Hat tip: ABK).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted August 30, 2016 at 7:00 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

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

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

When it comes to raising money through enterprise, Chris Henderson has one word of advice for the Anglican Church of Canada: think of projects or partners that will be in line with your values—otherwise, it won’t work.

“You’ve got to be true to mission,” he says. “Not being true to mission means you’re almost writing a cheque for failure.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryCanada

0 Comments
Posted August 5, 2016 at 6:30 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

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

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

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

0 Comments
Posted July 31, 2016 at 5:40 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

The world that Disney presents to us is one in which all the sharp edges of real life have been smoothed away. For this reason the Magic Kingdom can never truly be the happiest place on earth in a biblical sense. Unlike Jesus, who entered the real, broken world in order to redeem it, the best Disney can offer is a fantasy of a world that never was. It is a nice place to visit but you really can’t live there.

It is common practice for churches to do with their past what Walt Disney did with his. Churches have a tendency to reimagine the past and make it their ideal. It’s not such a problem for a theme park, but it is a real obstacle for a church, especially when that reimagined world becomes the model for its mission. Churches have often spent decades trying to return to a past that never really existed. The “Christian America” churches try to bring back was not that Christian. The fondly remembered pastor of that golden age was not that golden. Those hallowed church ministries were not as effective as we remember, or if they were, they would no longer be effective today. The sweet fellowship of yesteryear was not that sweet.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEntertainmentMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyEschatology

0 Comments
Posted July 26, 2016 at 2:40 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

Americans' satisfaction with the way things are going in the U.S. dropped 12 percentage points in the past month, amid high-profile police killings of black men and mass shootings of police. Currently, 17% of Americans are satisfied with the state of affairs in the U.S.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologySociology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted July 21, 2016 at 5:00 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.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Thirty-nine grants totalling £14.5 million have today been announced by government for urgent repairs to Church of England and Catholic cathedrals in England. This is the second phase of grants awarded by the First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund.

Welcoming the announcement Dame Fiona Reynolds, Chair, Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England, said: 'Cathedrals are the beating hearts of their communities, offering sanctuary, beauty, collective history, and social and economic support to people of every generation. Cathedrals which benefitted from the first phase of this fund have been repaired and refurbished, and staff and volunteers have time and resources to serve their cities and regions with renewed energy. It is fantastic that more cathedrals are now able to benefit from this scheme. England's cathedrals are a wonderfully diverse group, encompassing not only vast, world-famous medieval buildings such as Durham, Lincoln and Canterbury, but also smaller churches like Wakefield and Leicester which were made cathedrals to serve the growing urban populations of the industrial revolution. These too have become jewels in the centres of their cities and their showcase to the entire nation, as we saw with Leicester Cathedral's events around the re-interment of Richard III.'

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market* Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 21, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The proposed sale is expected to force the food and clothing banks, and the essential pantry and warming center, to move. Depending on who or what type of entity puts in a bid to buy the property, the sale could reshape a prominent parcel between the city’s downtown and a large west side residential neighborhood.

Augusta resident Joseph Riddick, senior warden of the church, said the 40-member St. Mark’s congregation, while now able to pay to maintain the buildings, won’t be able to afford to do so long-term. Also, he and the Rev. Rebecca Grant, the church deacon, said the money they’d spend maintaining and heating the aging facilities will be better spent on the church’s focus of helping needy people in the community.

“This is a building. It’s a wonderful building, but our ministry is people,” Riddick said, standing in the high-ceilinged St. Mark’s Church, beneath its rows of elaborate stained-glass windows and among its wooden pews. “We’re transitioning to a facility for our congregation that we can afford. And the money we use to maintain this campus, we’ll take that money and help people, help those in need. St. Mark’s Church continues and our ministries are going to continue, just in a different place.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market

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Posted July 19, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Over the past week, tens of thousands of people have taken to roaming the streets, interacting with invisible beings that now inhabit our cities.

These fanatics speak in a special language, undertake hours of devotional activity, and together experience moments of great joy and great sorrow.

It is an obsession, many say, that has taken over their lives, and for which they will sacrifice their bodies. They understand the world in a way the uninitiated cannot.

What sounds like a sudden global religious conversion, is, of course, the launch of Pokémon Go, an augmented reality smartphone game that has restarted the popular culture phenomenon of Pokémon. In many ways, however, Pokémon and religion are not so far apart.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyTravel* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* Theology

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Posted July 14, 2016 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

First of all, what is Pokémon GO?
Pokémon GO is a mobile and tablet app game which lets players find Pokémon (Animated creatures, first created in the 90′s, which players have to catch, train and battle with). The game takes place in augmented reality (meaning the game combines real life action with virtual gaming) by using GPS as you walk around towns, cities and other locations to find the Pokémon.

The game has been an overnight sensation with millions playing it around the world.

Why does your church need to know?
Your church might be a ‘PokéStop’ - real life buildings and landmarks that players have to visit to get certain items they need to play the game. Your church could also be a ‘Gym’ where players can battle their Pokémon. (Being Gym means people spend significantly more time battling Pokémon.)

Pokémon Go is therefore giving churches around the country a great opportunity to meet people from their area who might not normally come to church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureTravel* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted July 14, 2016 at 10:00 am [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.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Thousands of people in Juba have fled their homes and are seeking sanctuary in the city’s Anglican and Roman Catholic cathedrals and other places of worship as fierce gun battles rage around them.

The general secretary of the South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC), Father James Oyet Latansio, reports that many areas – including the SSCC compound – are effectively no-go areas. The area around the SSCC compound is “under control of the SPLA Government Forces,” he said.

The SPLA is the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, and the current clashes are between the official South Sudanese army – the SPLA government forces – and opposition SPLA forces. The United Nations’ Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has condemned the violence between the two groups and called for calm.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesEpiscopal Church of the Sudan* Culture-WatchPovertyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan

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Posted July 12, 2016 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceStock MarketThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology


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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureRural/Town LifeUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingMovies & TelevisionPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Prescription drug prices continue to climb, putting the pinch on consumers. Some older Americans appear to be seeking an alternative to mainstream medicines that has become easier to get legally in many parts of the country. Just ask Cheech and Chong.

Research published Wednesday found that states that legalized medical marijuana — which is sometimes recommended for symptoms like chronic pain, anxiety or depression — saw declines in the number of Medicare prescriptions for drugs used to treat those conditions and a dip in spending by Medicare Part D, which covers the cost on prescription medications.

Because the prescriptions for drugs like opioid painkillers and antidepressants — and associated Medicare spending on those drugs — fell in states where marijuana could feasibly be used as a replacement, the researchers said it appears likely legalization led to a drop in prescriptions. That point, they said, is strengthened because prescriptions didn't drop for medicines such as blood-thinners, for which marijuana isn't an alternative.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For the first time ever, readers of Travel + Leisure magazine voted the Holy City No. 1 on the planet in the tourism periodical’s World’s Best City ranking.

It’s also the first time a U.S. destination earned the honor.

Readers also selected Charleston as the No. 1 city in the U.S. and Canada for the fourth consecutive year.

Read it all from the local paper.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchTravelUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomy* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina

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Posted July 7, 2016 at 5:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Prime Minister resigns. There are calls for the Leader of the Opposition to likewise. A petition for a second referendum gathers millions of votes. There is talk of the United Kingdom splitting apart. The Tory succession campaign turns nasty.

This is not politics as usual. I can recall nothing like it in my lifetime. But the hurricane blowing through Britain is not unique to us. In one form or another it is hitting every western democracy including the United States. There is a widespread feeling that politicians have been failing us. The real question is: what kind of leadership do we need to steer us through the storm?

What we are witnessing throughout the West is a new politics of anger. There is anger at the spread of unemployment, leaving whole regions and generations bereft of hope. There is anger at the failure of successive governments to control immigration and to integrate some of the new arrivals.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEuroEuropean Central BankHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted July 2, 2016 at 2:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tower Hamlets: 67.5% Remain

The Area Dean of Tower Hamlets, the Revd Andy Rider

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

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

Read them all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dear Archbishops

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Middleton Place hosted 52 applicants for U.S. citizenship at its annual naturalization ceremony Monday morning, where each person completed the final step in their application process. The new citizens came from 28 different countries, including Mexico, Russia, Thailand, Egypt, India, China, Canada and Peru.

Middleton Place, formerly home to a signer of the Declaration of Independence, hosts the naturalization ceremony to provide Southeastern citizenship applicants the opportunity to be naturalized at a place imbued with American history. The applicants pledge allegiance just in time to celebrate their first Independence Day as American citizens and to vote in their first presidential election.

“It was time to get into a country where I can exercise my rights,” Hines, 40, said. “It gives me a voice.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* South Carolina

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Those who voted to stay within the EU need to acknowledge the overwhelming majority of Leave voters who are not part of the racist fringe that disfigures our society. Men and women who believe with integrity that their vote will help us get something of our identity and even our country back. We need to engage with those who have seen little by way of economic benefit from EU membership, as their towns and villages have suffered decline, and who hope that a more independent Britain offers a chance for change. Understanding and working with these, our fellow citizens for the future of our country, is both essential and urgent, not least so that the future we forge together remains outward looking and closely connected to our continental neighbours. Sadly, too much of what I have read by way of comment from the Remain constituency in these last few days feels engulfed in and paralysed by a bereavement that most UK voters do not share, and for whom even the present turmoil in our political parties and the financial markets may be a sign that for once they have stood up and been counted.

The challenge for Leave voters is perhaps even more urgent, to join in with and even lead immediate moves to isolate those who are trying to use the referendum decision as a building block for a resurgence of racist aggression.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 28, 2016 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When matters didn’t go quite so smoothly, and when some groups in these liberal societies were in fact harmed by these developments, a degree of backlash was inevitable. It didn’t help that elites in many liberal countries made some critical blunders, including the creation of the euro, the invasion of Iraq, the misguided attempt to nation-build in Afghanistan, and the 2008 financial crisis. These and other mistakes helped undermine the legitimacy of the post-Cold War order, open the door to illiberal forces, and left some segments of society vulnerable to nativist appeals.

Efforts to spread a liberal world order also faced predictable opposition from the leaders and groups who were directly threatened by our efforts. It was hardly surprising that Iran and Syria did what they could to thwart U.S. efforts in Iraq, for example, because the George W. Bush administration had made it clear these regimes were on its hit list, too. Similarly, is it that hard to fathom why Chinese and Russian leaders find Western efforts to spread “liberal” values threatening, or why they have taken various steps to forestall them?

Liberals also forgot that successful liberal societies require more than the formal institutions of democracy. They also depend on a broad and deep commitment to the underlying values of a liberal society....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyForeign RelationsIraq WarPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 28, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From self-driving vehicles and semi-autonomous robots to intelligent algorithms and predictive analytic tools, machines are increasingly capable of performing a wide range of jobs that have long been human domains. A 2013 study by researchers at Oxford University posited that as many as 47% of all jobs in the United States are at risk of “computerization.” And many respondents in a recent Pew Research Center canvassing of technology experts predicted that advances in robotics and computing applications will result in a net displacement of jobs over the coming decades – with potentially profound implications for both workers and society as a whole.

The ultimate extent to which robots and algorithms intrude on the human workforce will depend on a host of factors, but many Americans expect that this shift will become reality over the next half-century. In a national survey by Pew Research Center conducted June 10-July 12, 2015, among 2,001 adults, fully 65% of Americans expect that within 50 years robots and computers will “definitely” or “probably” do much of the work currently done by humans.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyScience & TechnologySociology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 28, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Obama administration is rushing to help contain the political and economic turmoil roiling Europe in the aftermath of the U.K.’s surprise decision to leave the European Union, with top U.S. officials seeking to ease tensions between European and British leaders over the timing of the divorce.

As the U.K.’s main political parties struggled to address a leadership crisis, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced plans to visit Brussels and London from Rome on Monday, attempting to gauge, and potentially tamp down, reactions among leaders across the world’s largest trading bloc. The trip is an opportunity to understand how the transition will occur -- something U.K. officials are still figuring out --and stress U.S. commitments to the U.K. and EU, a senior administration official said.

The blitz from U.S. officials come amid new uncertainty over the mechanics of Brexit, which has roiled global financial markets. European leaders this weekend sent new signals they’re eager to consummate the departure of the U.K. as a way to consolidate support for the union and ward off similar populist uprisings in their own countries.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 26, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is time for Project Grit. We warned over the final weeks of the campaign that a vote to leave the EU would be traumatic, and that is what the country now faces as markets shudder and Westminster is thrown into turmoil.

The stunning upset last night marks a point of rupture for the post-war European order. It will be a Herculean task to extract Britain from the EU after 43 years enmeshed in a far-reaching legal and constitutional structure. Scotland and Northern Ireland will now be ejected from the EU against their will, a ghastly state of affairs that could all too easily lead to the internal fragmentation of the Kingdom unless handled with extreme care.

The rating agencies are already pricing in a different British destiny. Standard & Poor’s declared that Brexit “spells the end” of the UK’s AAA status. The only question is whether the downgrade is one notch or two, and that hangs on Holyrood. Moody’s has cocked the trigger too.

Just how traumatic Brexit will be depends on whether Parliament can rise to the challenge and fashion a credible trade policy...

Read it all from Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in the Telegraph.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 25, 2016 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The polls put the PP in first place, but again, without enough seats to form an absolute majority.

Left-wing newcomers Podemos are vying with the established traditional opposition, the Socialists (PSOE) for second place.

Podemos, who were allied with Greece’s Syriza, have campaigned for change. But they are, in many respects, an unknown on which - after Friday’s Brexit vote - many Spaniards may be unwilling to gamble.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeSpain* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 25, 2016 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, rather than economic prosperity, political sovereignty or national greatness, are the condition and possibility of movement into new kinds of relationship with God and neighbour. Yet this conversion demands that as humans we orientate ourselves in a particular way to living in time and the experience of flux and transition that is constitutive of being temporal creatures. Such an orientation rules out a nostalgic division that poses the past as good and the present as intrinsically bad, as well as making judgments about who is and who is not on the "right side of history."

Rather, ways must be found to identify with Christ and thereby dis-identify with the historical idols and cultural systems of domination within which human life is always and already entangled. Politics, understood as action in time through which forms of peaceable common life are cultivated, is a necessary part of any such process of discovery. However, the tragic dimensions of social and political life cannot be avoided and failure is often the result. Yet faith, hope and love demands the risk still be taken.

Some will judge what I am saying as merely swapping one kind of dangerous sentimentalism for another. Nevertheless, I beg those who consider themselves Christians to take up forms of politics orientated to faith, hope and love, yet alive to the fragility of ourselves, others and the world around us and to ignore the siren calls of the politics of nostalgia.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheodicy

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Posted June 24, 2016 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On Thursday, millions of people from across the United Kingdom voted in the Referendum, and a majority expressed a desire that Britain’s future is to be outside the European Union.

The outcome of this referendum has been determined by the people of this country. It is now the responsibility of the Government, with the support of Parliament, to take full account of the outcome of the referendum, and, in the light of this, decide upon the next steps. This morning, the Prime Minister has offered a framework for when this process might formally begin.

”The vote to withdraw from the European Union means that now we must all reimagine both what it means to be the United Kingdom in an interdependent world, and what values and virtues should shape and guide our relationships with others.

“As citizens of the United Kingdom, whatever our views during the referendum campaign, we must now unite in a common task to build a generous and forward-looking country, contributing to human flourishing around the world. We must remain hospitable and compassionate, builders of bridges and not barriers. Many of those living among us and alongside us as neighbours, friends and work colleagues come from overseas and some will feel a deep sense of insecurity. We must respond by offering reassurance, by cherishing our wonderfully diverse society, and by affirming the unique contribution of each and every one.

”The referendum campaign has been vigorous and, at times, has caused hurt to those on one side or the other. We must therefore act with humility and courage — being true to the principles that make the very best of our nation. Unity, hope, and generosity will enable us to overcome the period of transition that will now happen, and to emerge confident and successful. The opportunities and challenges that face us as a nation and as global citizens are too significant for us to settle for less.

”As those who hope and trust in the living God let us pray for all our leaders, especially for Prime Minster David Cameron in his remaining months in office. We also pray for leaders across Europe, and around the world, as they face this dramatic change. Let us pray especially that we may go forward to build a good United Kingdom that, though relating to the rest of Europe in a new way will play its part amongst the nations in the pursuit of the common good throughout the world.”

(Found in a number of places including there).

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

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Posted June 24, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The goal is to unwind Britain’s 43-year membership of the bloc, disentangle and sever the legacy of shared sovereignty, and then reshape the biggest single market on earth.
Three fundamental issues arise.
On substance, what political and commercial arrangements will Brexit Britain demand and will the EU accept them?
In execution, will the exit deal — the divorce and breaking of old obligations — be struck at the same time as a trade agreement covering post-Brexit trade? And if no, is a transition possible to ensure a soft landing?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankStock MarketForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland--Scotland--WalesEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 24, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland--Scotland--WalesEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

30 Comments
Posted June 24, 2016 at 2:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We are told too, with the gun of moral blackmail held to our temples, that Europe's strategic order will unravel if we pick at the EU thread, but this an evasion. The EU is unraveling already because the status quo is intolerable and a failed currency project is sapping its credibility. It is far from self-evident that this supranational venture should be saved in anything like its existing form.

There are certainly grave threats to the world economy, but none have anything to do with Brexit. China's latest mini-boom is already topping, and nobody knows whether the Communist Party has reached the limits of its $28 trillion experiment with credit.

We are seven years into this global cycle and signs of ageing are too obvious to ignore, not least the collapse in US bond yields to depression levels. "More Economic Signs Point to a US Recession", warned a front-page headline across the Wall Street Journal this week. The labour market has buckled. Car sales have slipped. Business investment and profits are both falling....But whether we vote Leave or Remain will not change any of this. All we can do when the next global recession hits is to fall back on Britain's tested institutions and our own elected Parliament to protect us. The EU certainly can't.

Read it all from the Telegraph.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 23, 2016 at 5:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Europe's growing army of robot workers could be classed as "electronic persons" and their owners liable to paying social security for them if the European Union adopts a draft plan to address the realities of a new industrial revolution.

Robots are being deployed in ever-greater numbers in factories and also taking on tasks such as personal care or surgery, raising fears over unemployment, wealth inequality and alienation.

Their growing intelligence, pervasiveness and autonomy requires rethinking everything from taxation to legal liability, a draft European Parliament motion, dated May 31, suggests.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentSocial Security* International News & CommentaryEurope* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 21, 2016 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Our leaving the EU after 43 years of membership would in effect be a divorce. We entered into a contract when we acceded to the Treaty of Rome on 1 January 1973, and now we want to exit the contract. Divorce is a tragic reality in our modern world, and it happens for all sorts of reasons, but that does not make it God’s ideal. On the contrary, he wants us to do everything we can to honour the contracts we freely enter into. ‘When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said’ (Numbers 30:2). The leave camp argues that the EU has morphed into an undemocratic monolith which is a totally different beast from the loose ‘Common Market’ which we joined in 1973. But this a specious argument. As a nation we signed up to the rules of the club (including its voting rules and their amendment over the years) and we have put our name on those treaties (particularly Maastricht in 1992 and Lisbon in 2007) which created today’s EU. If a marriage is struggling, our first duty as Christians is to work to save it, not to rush headlong for the exit. So too should be our attitude to membership of the EU.

As I say, many Christians will take a different view from mine. But what is clear is that our membership of the European Union has a moral and theological dimension as well as an economic and political one. Christians must consider this dimension before they cast their vote on 23 June.

Read it all and it can be found elsewhere also.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchRural/Town Life* Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

15 Comments
Posted June 20, 2016 at 10:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Premiums for health plans sold through the federal insurance exchange could jump substantially next year, perhaps more than at any point since the Affordable Care Act marketplaces began in 2013.

An early analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that proposed rates for benchmark silver plans — the plans in that popular tier of coverage that determine enrollees’ tax subsidies — are projected to go up an average of 10 percent across 14 major metropolitan areas.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsStock MarketForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 15, 2016 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The prospect of Britons voting to leave the EU next week fuelled global market upheaval on Tuesday, with investors rushing for safety and sending the UK currency and stocks to their lowest levels in months.
The accelerating shift, which came after a trio of opinion polls showed Leave leading by significant margins, was most marked in government bonds, where a series of records were smashed as cash flowed into the relative security of sovereign debt.

German 10-year Bunds traded with interest rates below zero for the first time after Japan’s benchmark fell to a new low of minus 0.185 per cent. The UK’s 10-year gilt yield recorded a new low, and the 30-year bond dropped below 2 per cent for the first time.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsStock MarketForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 14, 2016 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What is going on? There is an honorable, decent case for Britain to stay in the union. The problem for the Remain camp is that no one has been making it.

Throughout the campaign, the Remainers have highlighted “experts” from bodies like the International Monetary Fund, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Bank of England, which all think that Britain should stay. They talk of being “shut out” of the room where decisions are made in Brussels.

These warnings sound like the neuroses of career politicians, not the concerns of the public, who see things very differently. Ordinary voters are weighing what is best for National Health Service hospitals and public services. By making the case from a political elite’s perspective, the Remain campaign has alienated, even antagonized, voters.

Instead of advancing arguments, Remainers have resorted to a campaign of exaggeration and intimidation. Vote to leave, they suggest, and food prices will rise. Farming will fold, science will suffer, financiers will flee. Trade will tumble, there will be a global recession. And World War III, apparently.

Far from persuading people, these confected claims come across as hectoring and supercilious.

Read it all from todays NYT op-ed page.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsStock MarketForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 14, 2016 at 11:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jason Carrier, a pastor at Southgate Baptist Church, which, like Mr. Drewery’s church, is in Springfield, Ohio, is trying to help his church start a “grace-based lending” program that worshipers can use in place of payday lending. The program would direct any fees charged above the principal into savings accounts for the borrower, not into lenders’ pockets.

“In conjunction with a credit union, the money — for lack of a better word, we’ll call it interest — goes into a savings account, so they are learning to save money,” Mr. Carrier said. “To use the service, you have to take some classes, and you have a financial coach that will help you and walk with you along the way.”

Mr. Carrier’s church has already tested its program with several needy members. Ultimately, he said, he would like to directly challenge the payday lenders. “We’d like to have a storefront, just like your Check ’n Gos, but with space in the back for classes and financial coaching.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryAdult EducationMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 11, 2016 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The range of culprits is quite large.

Some blame widening U.S. income and wealth inequality. Others point the finger at the fall in religious adherence or cite the increase in education and income of women, making women choosier about whom to marry. Still others focus on rising student debt and rising housing costs, forcing people to put off marriage. Finally some believe marriage is simply an old, outdated tradition that is no longer necessary.

But given that this is a trend happening across the globe in a wide variety of countries with very different income, religious adherence, education and social factors, it’s hard to pin the blame on just a single culprit.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationMarriage & FamilySociology* Economics, PoliticsEconomy* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 10, 2016 at 3:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nearly three in 10 Americans (29%) are satisfied with the way things are going in the U.S., continuing the trend of low satisfaction levels since 2007. Americans' satisfaction has averaged 24% across the 89 months of the Obama administration to date, well below the average 37% satisfaction level since Gallup began measuring it in 1979.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Just Finance Network, formerly known as the Church Credit Champions Network (CCCN), has proposed a nationwide roll out of ‘credit champions’ to help people manage money and debt.

The scheme has already been piloted in churches in London, Southwark and Liverpool and has trained more than 260 volunteers. Organisers believe it is now ready to go nationwide.

Of the Church Credit Champions Network, the Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev Paul Bayes, said that desperate people had been exploited by unscrupulous credit providers locking them into a crippling spiral of debt.

Read it all (may require subscription).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 8, 2016 at 5:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Author of "The Price of Prosperity," Todd Buchholz, discusses his book explaining why America may be in danger of collapse. He speaks on "Bloomberg Markets."

Watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomy* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 8, 2016 at 10:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...63-year-old [Phyllis Swenson of] Fairfax, Virginia, resident is among millions of Americans who haven’t rebounded with the improving U.S. economy. Part-time work at Vienna Presbyterian doesn’t pay all her bills, and almost a year of futile job-hunting has left her desperate.

“Recovery?” she scoffs. “How are we recovering?”

The labor market has staged a strong comeback: Unemployment is 4.7 percent, down from 9.5 percent when the economy started expanding in June 2009. Employers have added an average 150,000 jobs a month this year, though May slowed to just 38,000. The rate at which people quit, a handy measure of job mobility, is trending up.

Yet some Americans still feel a deep sense of betrayal. Their journey back to meaningful work has been brutal -- if they even arrived -- leaving them with depleted savings, increased debt, homes lost to lenders and for some, long searches that stripped away their most valuable possession: self-esteem. Many who did find jobs now earn less, with fewer benefits.

This has helped fuel Donald Trump’s improbable rise and Bernie Sanders’s strong challenge to Hillary Clinton. Thousands cheer at rallies when the Republican front-runner claims he’ll put people back to work and the Democratic contender rails against income inequality.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A discussion paper 'Thinking Afresh About Welfare' has been released today by the Church of England.

The paper, by Rev Dr Malcolm Brown, Director of the Mission and Public Affairs Division of Archbishops' Council, was endorsed by the May meeting of the House of Bishops as a discussion document.

Read it all and follow the link for the full paper.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinancePolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 7, 2016 at 3:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A key feature of American exceptionalism has been the propensity of Americans to create voluntary organizations for dealing with local problems. Tocqueville was just one of the early European observers who marveled at this phenomenon in the 19th and early 20th centuries. By the time the New Deal began, American associations for providing mutual assistance and aiding the poor involved broad networks, engaging people from the top to the bottom of society, spontaneously formed by ordinary citizens.

These groups provided sophisticated and effective social services and social insurance of every sort, not just in rural towns or small cities but also in the largest and most impersonal of megalopolises. To get a sense of how extensive these networks were, consider this: When one small Midwestern state, Iowa, mounted a food-conservation program during World War I, it engaged the participation of 2,873 church congregations and 9,630 chapters of 31 different secular fraternal associations.

Did these networks successfully deal with all the human needs of their day? No. But that isn’t the right question. In that era, the U.S. had just a fraction of today’s national wealth. The correct question is: What if the same level of activity went into civil society’s efforts to deal with today’s needs—and financed with today’s wealth?

The advent of the New Deal and then of President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society displaced many of the most ambitious voluntary efforts to deal with the needs of the poor. It was a predictable response. Why continue to contribute to a private program to feed the hungry when the government is spending billions of dollars on food stamps and nutrition programs? Why continue the mutual insurance program of your fraternal organization once Social Security is installed? Voluntary organizations continued to thrive, but most of them turned to needs less subject to crowding out by the federal government.

This was a bad trade, in my view.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceTaxesThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the United States, nearly one-third of adults, about 76 million people, are either “struggling to get by” or “just getting by,” according to the third annual survey of households by the Federal Reserve Board.

That finding, dismal though it is, represents a mild improvement in general well-being last year, compared with the two years before. The improvement, however, was clearly too little to raise Americans’ spirits: The new survey, which was conducted in late 2015 and released last week, also shows that optimism about the future has tempered.

The Fed policy committee should take the survey to heart when it meets this month to decide whether to raise interest rates. Higher rates are a way to slow an economy that is at risk of overheating — a far-fetched proposition when tens of millions of Americans are barely hanging in there.

Read it all from the New York Times.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 2, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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