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: * Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 27, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In an America riddled with anxieties, the worries that Mr. [Kody] Foster and his neighbors bring through the doors of the Tapering Vapor are common and potent: Fear that an honest, 40-hour working-class job can no longer pay the bills. Fear of a fraying social fabric. Fear that the country’s future might pale in comparison with its past.

Wilkes County, with a population of nearly 69,000, has felt those stings more than many other places. The textile and furniture industries have been struggling here for years, and the recession and the loss of the Lowe’s headquarters have helped drive down the median household income. That figure fell by more than 30 percent between 2000 and 2014 when adjusted for inflation, the second-steepest decrease in the nation, according to an analysis of census data by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Still, the regulars at the Tapering Vapor — overwhelmingly white, mostly working class and ranging from their 20s to middle age — provide a haze-shrouded snapshot of an anxious nation navigating an election year fueled by disquiet and malaise.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 25, 2016 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




The empty nests are filling up: For the first time in modern history, young adults ages 18 to 34 are more likely to live with a parent than with a romantic partner, according to a new census analysis by the Pew Research Center.

Millennials, who have been slower than previous generations to marry and set up their own households, reached that milestone in 2014, when 32.1 percent lived in a parent’s home, compared with 31.6 percent who lived with a spouse or a partner, the report found.

“The really seismic change is that we have so many fewer young adults partnering, either marrying or cohabiting,” said Richard Fry, the Pew economist who wrote the report. “In 1960, that silent generation left home earlier than any generation before or after, because they married so young.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted May 24, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:
A year ago, retired U.S. representative John Dingell, who for many years served Michigan’s 12th congressional district, was coaching Wisconsin congressman Ron Kind. “Ron,” said Dingell, “never forget that you’ve got an important job, but you’re not an important person. The second you start thinking that you’re an important person, you start to cut corners and think the rules don’t apply to you.”

One doesn’t have to be a legislator or city bureaucrat to risk losing the distinction between one’s self-importance and the important work one is called to do. Would that we all might pull out a report card and do the sort of reflective work Nai-Wang Kwok managed so beautifully.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPolitics in GeneralHouse of Representatives* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 24, 2016 at 7:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Government has set out a new post-EU-referendum course focus­ing on key domestic policies, after attracting criticism for its series of U-turns on issues such as schooling and disability benefits in recent months.

The Queen’s Speech, on Wednes­day, included new legislation on housing, education, safeguarding chil­dren in care, and speeding up the adoption process, to better the “life chances” of young people. It also made mention of new counter-extremism measures, defence spend­ing, and a prison-reform Bill.

Under the social-care Bill, a new regulator will be set up to oversee care homes and social services. Those leaving care will be assigned a mentor until the age of 25, and care workers will be supported to find work and affordable housing.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducation* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 22, 2016 at 12:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What should the church commissioners, who are responsible for its £7 billion investment portfolio, do? They are charity trustees. They have a duty to make a return on the funds entrusted to them. And every penny they can raise means another pound from the collection plate can be used for something else. The answer is, of course, that they must exercise judgment.

The good news is that they are already allowed to. The church commissioners do not, as a result, invest in pornography, tobacco, gambling, non-military firearms, high interest rate lending or human embryonic cloning. But on tax abuse, surely the clearest measure of a company’s social responsibility, they’re not so clear.

Their advisers stated three years ago that “tax ethics should be a subject for investor engagement where it appears that a company’s approach is blatantly aggressive or abusive”. In other words, investment in such companies is permitted so long as the church makes clear that it expects high ethical standards on tax. In this respect, the commissioners have clearly failed.

Read it all (requires subscription).

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

0 Comments
Posted May 18, 2016 at 3:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Federal Reserve policy makers indicated that a June interest-rate increase was likely if the economy continued to improve, boosting market expectations they will act next month.

“Most participants judged that if incoming data were consistent with economic growth picking up in the second quarter, labor market conditions continuing to strengthen and inflation making progress toward the committee’s 2 percent objective, then it likely would be appropriate for the committee to increase the target range for the federal funds rate in June,” according to minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee’s April 26-27 meeting released Wednesday in Washington.

Officials were divided over whether those conditions were likely to be met in time. “Participants expressed a range of views about the likelihood that incoming information would make it appropriate to adjust the stance of policy at the time of the next meeting,” the minutes stated.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsPersonal FinanceStock MarketThe U.S. GovernmentFederal Reserve

0 Comments
Posted May 18, 2016 at 1:24 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Estimates for the public services will be laid before you.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons:

Other measures will be laid before you.

I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your counsels.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 18, 2016 at 6:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

All over the country, employers say they see a disturbing downside of tighter labor markets as they try to rebuild from the worst recession since the Depression: They are struggling to find workers who can pass a pre-employment drug test.

That hurdle partly stems from the growing ubiquity of drug testing, at corporations with big human resources departments, in industries like trucking where testing is mandated by federal law for safety reasons, and increasingly at smaller companies.

But data suggest employers’ difficulties also reflect an increase in the use of drugs, especially marijuana — employers’ main gripe — and also heroin and other opioid drugs much in the news.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 17, 2016 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In “Notes from Underground,’’ Dostoevsky fired a broadside against all the Victorian do-gooders who dreamt of a perfectly rational society. “You seem certain that man himself will give up erring of his own free will,” he fulminated. He foresaw a ghastly future in which “all human acts will be listed in something like logarithm tables . . . and transferred to a timetable . . . [that] will carry detailed calculations and exact forecasts of everything to come.” In such a world, his utilitarian contemporaries believed, there would be no wrongdoing. It would have been planned, legislated, and regulated out of existence.

We are nearly there. Or so it seems....

I am deeply suspicious of the concerted effort to address all these problems in ways that markedly increase the power of states — and not just any states, but specifically the world’s big states — at the expense of both small states and the individual. What makes me especially wary is that today, unlike in Dostoevsky’s time, the technology exists to give those big states, along with a few private companies, just the kind of control he dreaded.

Consider some recent encroachments on liberty.

Read it all from the Boston Globe.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryPoetry & Literature* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentState Government* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussia* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted May 17, 2016 at 5:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church Commissioners for England have announced their latest financial results with the publication of their annual report.

The Church Commissioners' total return on their investments in 2015 was 8.2 per cent, exceeding their long-term target rate by 2%. Over the past 30 years the fund has achieved an average return of 9.7% per annum. After taking account of expenditure, the fund has grown from £2.4bn at the start of 1995 to £7.0 billion at the end of 2015.

In 2015, the charitable expenditure of the Commissioners was £218.5 million, accounting for 15% of the Church's overall mission and ministry costs. Commissioners-funded projects ranged from clubs and drop-ins to youth work and food bank hubs, all supported by local churches.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsStock Market* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 16, 2016 at 4:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Amy Moses and her circle of self-employed small-business owners were supporters of President Obama and the Affordable Care Act. They bought policies on the newly created New York State exchange. But when they called doctors and hospitals in Manhattan to schedule appointments, they were dismayed to be turned away again and again with a common refrain: “We don’t take Obamacare,” the umbrella epithet for the hundreds of plans offered through the president’s signature health legislation.

“Anyone who is on these plans knows it’s a two-tiered system,” said Ms. Moses, describing the emotional sting of those words to a successful entrepreneur.

“Anytime one of us needs a doctor,” she continued, “we send out an alert: ‘Does anyone have anyone on an exchange plan that does mammography or colonoscopy? Who takes our insurance?’ It’s really a problem.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 16, 2016 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Why are the French so wedded to a failing system?

For starters, they believe that a job is a basic right — guaranteed in the preamble to their Constitution — and that making it easier to fire people is an affront to that. Without a C.D.I., you’re considered naked before the indifferent forces of capitalism.

At one demonstration in Paris, young protesters held a banner warning that they were the “génération précaire.” They were agitating for the right to grow up. As Jean-Benoît Nadeau and Julie Barlow point out in their new book, “The Bonjour Effect,” getting a permanent work contract is a rite of adulthood. Without one, it’s hard to get a mortgage or car loan, or rent an apartment.

Mainstream economic arguments can’t compete. “Basic facts of economic science are completely dismissed,” said Étienne Wasmer, a labor economist at Sciences Po. “People don’t see that if you let employers take risks, they’ll hire more people.” Instead, many French people view the workplace as a zero-sum battle between workers and bosses.

Read it all from yesterday's NY Times.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 13, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In reality, however, many working Americans simply can't afford to retire. Fewer workers today than in the past say a pension will be a major income source in retirement, and many have been unable to save sufficiently during the economic slowdown of the past decade. Seven in 10 employed adults told Gallup in April that they are worried about not having enough savings for retirement. As a result, they now need to work as long as possible to build up their retirement nest eggs.

At the moment, most workers are forgoing any thought of retiring before 62, the minimum age to receive partial Social Security retirement benefits, while nearly a third are planning to hold off until after age 67.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePensionsThe U.S. GovernmentSocial Security* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 13, 2016 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The great shrinking of the middle class that has captured the attention of the nation is not only playing out in troubled regions like Rust Belt metros, Appalachia and the Deep South, but in just about every metropolitan area in America, according to a major new analysis by the Pew Research Center.

Pew reported in December that a clear majority of American adults no longer live in the middle class, a demographic reality shaped by decades of widening inequality, declining industry and the erosion of financial stability and family-wage jobs. But while much of the attention has focused on communities hardest hit by economic declines, the new Pew data, based on metro-level income data since 2000, show that middle-class stagnation is a far broader phenomenon.

The share of adults living in middle-income households has also dwindled in Washington, New York, San Francisco, Atlanta and Denver. It's fallen in smaller Midwestern metros where the middle class has long made up an overwhelming majority of the population. It's withering in coastal tech hubs, in military towns, in college communities, in Sun Belt cities.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted May 11, 2016 at 4:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The growth of firms such as Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. has been a boon for the background checkers tasked to vet hundreds of thousands of amateur taxi drivers.

But those background scans are undergoing changes of their own as sharing-economy firms bring massive volumes and new pressure to run checks more quickly and frequently, prompting companies to update their offerings and introduce new products.

Background checks were at the heart of a battle that led ride-hailing firms Uber and Lyft to halt operations in Austin, Texas, on Monday.

In a citywide referendum, Austin residents voted in support of local rules requiring fingerprint scans for drivers—regulations that Uber and Lyft spent millions to fight.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyScience & TechnologyTravel* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 11, 2016 at 7:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The drugmaker Purdue Pharma launched OxyContin two decades ago with a bold marketing claim: One dose relieves pain for 12 hours, more than twice as long as generic medications.

On the strength of that promise, OxyContin became America’s bestselling painkiller, and Purdue reaped $31 billion in revenue.

But OxyContin’s stunning success masked a fundamental problem: The drug wears off hours early in many people, a Los Angeles Times investigation found. OxyContin is a chemical cousin of heroin, and when it doesn’t last, patients can experience excruciating symptoms of withdrawal, including an intense craving for the drug.

The problem offers new insight into why so many people have become addicted to OxyContin, one of the most abused pharmaceuticals in U.S. history.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 9, 2016 at 5:55 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In American politics, raising taxes is seen as a sure way to provoke a voter revolt. But in Germany, some politicians see taxing Muslims as a strategy to keep them from becoming radicalized.

The standard-bearer for this unexpected idea is a politician from the Christian Social Union, the folksy right-wing party known for desperately wanting to keep Muslim immigrants from the Middle East from pouring in to its traditionally Catholic southern state of Bavaria.

Strange as it might seem, there are Muslim leaders in Germany who think a religious tax might be a good idea, too. If they can get over the grumbling, mosque-goers may agree.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 7, 2016 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The wildfires spreading around Canada’s oil-sands hub of Fort McMurray may become the costliest catastrophe in the country’s history with losses potentially reaching C$9.4 billion ($7.3 billion).

Insurance losses could reach that high if nearly all homes, cars, and businesses in the Fort McMurray area were destroyed and owners filed a claim to insurers, according to a research note to clients from Bank of Montreal analyst Tom MacKinnon. He said it’s more likely that one-quarter to half of assets would be damaged, leading to total insurance industry losses of C$2.6 billion to C$4.7 billion, as much as quadruple the costliest Canadian natural disaster.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/Fire* Economics, PoliticsEconomy* International News & CommentaryCanada

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ah, the journey to and from work. Last week’s train strikes, keeping many of us in the UK at home, served as a reminder that the commute is not capitalism’s greatest gift to humanity.

The longer the trip, the less worthwhile life feels, data from the Office for National Statistics tell us. Surveys have found that people with a taxing journey sleep poorly, while research by US academics links tough commutes to health problems, such as high cholesterol, hypertension and depression.

The commute is a post-industrial invention. For most of history almost everyone worked at, or near, home. But industrialisation created a separation between people’s living arrangements and their working ones....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyTravel* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 5, 2016 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church Commissioners for England have taken home two prizes at this year's Portfolio Institutional Awards - the Best Charity / Fund / Trust Award for the first time since 2013, and the Best Implementation of Responsible Investment Award for the second year in a row.

The awards come as the Church Commissioners have also been given the highest AAA rating in this year's Asset Owners Disclosure Project (AODP) Global Climate 500, coming 10th in the index. The rating recognises the work done by the Commissioners to mitigate the investment risks of climate change through engagement and shareholder resolutions, as well as the Commissioners' support for low carbon investment.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock MarketEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted May 4, 2016 at 4:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A groundbreaking trial to see if it is possible to regenerate the brains of dead people, has won approval from health watchdogs.

A biotech company in the US has been granted ethical permission to recruit 20 patients who have been declared clinically dead from a traumatic brain injury, to test whether parts of their central nervous system can be brought back to life.

Scientists will use a combination of therapies, which include injecting the brain with stem cells and a cocktail of peptides, as well as deploying lasers and nerve stimulation techniques which have been shown to bring patients out of comas.

Read it all from the Telegraph.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the summer of 1825, young Ralph Waldo Emerson took a break from his theological studies to work on his Uncle Ladd’s farm near Newton, Mass. There he met a laborer known to history only as “a Methodist named Tarbox,” who told Emerson “that men were always praying, and that all prayers were granted.” The idea of constant prayer was not new to Emerson, writes his biographer, Robert D. Richardson Jr., but Emerson “first felt its force for real life” there in his uncle’s fields.

What is prayer? In its simplest form, prayer is an address to a deity. But in “Self-Reliance,” Emerson says that “prayer is in all action”: in the farmer kneeling to weed his field, for example. And clearly Emerson means mindful action: No farmer wakes at mid-morning and says, “Gee, I wonder what I should do today?”

Emerson’s sense of prayer as mindful action appeals to my students at Florida State University, especially as graduation nears and the world of work beckons. I teach English, and in this job market you can say of humanities classrooms what is said often of trenches: There are no atheists there. My students are prayerful, though in the Emersonian way, which is to say they pray by doing, because they know that before they find their place in the world, they have a journey ahead of them.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchEducationHistoryReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In deciding how to vote it is important that we recognise that we are answering a different sort of question from that at general elections but, as there, we also need to keep front and centre the test of what it means to love our neighbours and how our vote can serve the common good. That means not deciding on the basis of what is best for me personally (usually understood in simple financial terms) or even for the UK alone but to look at our personal and national good in the context of international society and the importance of good relationships. It also means trying to step back and take in the bigger picture both historically but also in terms of the present nature and likely future development of the EU. At least three broad areas require serious Christian reflection and evaluation in discerning how to vote.

First, as regards its form, the EU is an international legal and political entity based on treaties between national governments. This means considering a Christian attitude to the role and limits of nations and national identity and the dangers of empire as well as consideration of the principle of the free movement of peoples and how it relates to our sense of belonging and place of national borders. Second, the EU also has motives and aims which shape its ethos. Here Christians must evaluate how it has assisted in moving Europe from war to peace, whether and how it has enabled solidarity both within Europe and between Europe and the poorer parts of the world, and whether, particularly in relation to economic life, it is driven by our contemporary idols in the Western world and, through the Euro and austerity, serving or undermining human flourishing. Finally, as the EU is best viewed as a political community it needs, from a Christian perspective, to be assessed in terms of how well it serves the pursuit of justice and whether its political structures are – or can be - representative of its 500 million people and whether they uphold the principle of subsidiarity which seeks to respect local and national governing structures and non-governmental forms of social life.

In the light of all these issues a number of arguments on both sides need to be rejected by Christians but, after exploring each of these areas, I believe it is possible to sketch out potential Christian arguments for each side of the debate focussing on these issues, often neglected in the wider political debate.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 29, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With temperatures in the region of 40C/100F, Iraq is in a terrible way, both politically and economically. The parliament has not been meeting, there are violent protests in Baghdad, and the oil revenue is starting to dry up. Despite this, we are still working on the front line. Yesterday, Dr Sarah Ahmed, FRRME’s Director of Operations in the Middle East, gave out 25 kg bags of flour to over 1,000 Iraqi IDP families in Erbil, Northern Iraq.

Read it all and do not miss the pictures.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraqIsraelJordan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther Faiths* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 28, 2016 at 7:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The man who built Chobani yogurt into a multi-billion dollar brand is giving thousands of employees the financial surprise of a lifetime.

Watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDieting/Food/Nutrition* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

‘To Your Credit’, the local churches’ grassroots movement and the Archbishop’s initiative to create a fairer financial system, has released the first of a series of four 10-minute films on ‘Money, Debt and Salvation.’ Six theologians will offer reflections on money and debt.

The Archbishop features in the first of the series, in a call to ‘challenge the sovereignty of money’.

“Credit and debt is one of the key issues that people face because it’s pervasive, it’s everywhere… The reason it’s so important is because the knock-on effect of credit and debt going wrong is so destructive. People’s lives are torn apart, their families are damaged.

“It’s a prophetic thing to get stuck into these issues because we have to challenge the sovereignty of money and finance over every aspect of our life. And to say in quite a revolutionary way, no you’re not in charge, human beings are the ultimate value.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Banking System/SectorPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 27, 2016 at 4:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two things are clear: the idea that a nation such as Britain can simply withdraw from the European project is a fantasy. Yet the European dream of a realm of freedom springing out of a diverse people rooted in shared values has lost its sparkle. What might a renewed and realistic vision look like?

In the story of Pentecost, people from north, south, east, and west find they can each hear the gospel in their own language. It’s not that there’s just one language and everyone has to speak it; there is a myriad of languages but the barriers to those different languages are taken away. This offers a vision for Europe: not one megastate or one system for everything, but a model of diversity as peace, the harnessing of divergent cultures for enrichment, the challenge and engagement of many systems for the benefit of all.

A renewed and realistic Europe can’t have sharp boundaries: it’s not for one kind of people, and it’s absurd to say Muslims don’t belong. It can’t be about keeping certain people out; it has to be about widening the tent and determining to flourish in new contexts. If it’s worried about mass inward migration, it must invest in the countries from which immigrants are coming and eradicate their reasons for fleeing their homes.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted April 27, 2016 at 11:22 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the desert climate of Scottsdale, Arizona rest 147 brains and bodies, all frozen in liquid nitrogen with the goal of being revived one day.

It's not science fiction — to some it might not even be science — yet thousands of people around the world have put their trust, lives and fortunes into the promise of cryonics, the practice of preserving a body with antifreeze shortly after death in hopes future medicine might be able to bring the deceased back.

"If you think back half a century or so, if somebody stopped breathing and their heart stopped beating we would've checked them and said they're dead," said Max More, CEO of the Scottsdale-based Alcor. "Our view is that when we call someone dead it's a bit of an arbitrary line. In fact they are in need of a rescue."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyEschatology

0 Comments
Posted April 27, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I know what it is like to have to juggle creditors to make it through a week. I know what it is like to have to swallow my pride and constantly dun people to pay me so that I can pay others. I know what it is like to have liens slapped on me and to have my bank account levied by creditors. I know what it is like to be down to my last $5—literally—while I wait for a paycheck to arrive, and I know what it is like to subsist for days on a diet of eggs. I know what it is like to dread going to the mailbox, because there will always be new bills to pay but seldom a check with which to pay them. I know what it is like to have to tell my daughter that I didn’t know if I would be able to pay for her wedding; it all depended on whether something good happened. And I know what it is like to have to borrow money from my adult daughters because my wife and I ran out of heating oil.

You wouldn’t know any of that to look at me. I like to think I appear reasonably prosperous. Nor would you know it to look at my résumé. I have had a passably good career as a writer—five books, hundreds of articles published, a number of awards and fellowships, and a small (very small) but respectable reputation. You wouldn’t even know it to look at my tax return. I am nowhere near rich, but I have typically made a solid middle- or even, at times, upper-middle-class income, which is about all a writer can expect, even a writer who also teaches and lectures and writes television scripts, as I do. And you certainly wouldn’t know it to talk to me, because the last thing I would ever do—until now—is admit to financial insecurity or, as I think of it, “financial impotence,” because it has many of the characteristics of sexual impotence, not least of which is the desperate need to mask it and pretend everything is going swimmingly. In truth, it may be more embarrassing than sexual impotence. “You are more likely to hear from your buddy that he is on Viagra than that he has credit-card problems,” says Brad Klontz, a financial psychologist who teaches at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and ministers to individuals with financial issues. “Much more likely.” America is a country, as Donald Trump has reminded us, of winners and losers, alphas and weaklings. To struggle financially is a source of shame, a daily humiliation—even a form of social suicide. Silence is the only protection...

Financial impotence goes by other names: financial fragility, financial insecurity, financial distress. But whatever you call it, the evidence strongly indicates that either a sizable minority or a slim majority of Americans are on thin ice financially. How thin? A 2014 Bankrate survey, echoing the Fed’s data, found that only 38 percent of Americans would cover a $1,000 emergency-room visit or $500 car repair with money they’d saved. Two reports published last year by the Pew Charitable Trusts found, respectively, that 55 percent of households didn’t have enough liquid savings to replace a month’s worth of lost income, and that of the 56 percent of people who said they’d worried about their finances in the previous year, 71 percent were concerned about having enough money to cover everyday expenses.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the ’90s we millennials heard stories about a time when kids performed plays at home and families gathered around their pianos, but we consumed our entertainment from TVs that kept growing in size and programming.

In following our individual channels, choices, and pursuits, we became more isolated. We became anxious, de­pressed, and exhausted and began to wonder if bigger was really better. Now something new is happening. Farmer’s markets are springing up. People are turning off their televisions and creating their own stories on social media through status updates, blogs, and vlogs. People upcycle, knit, and quilt.

Those who grew up with big-box stores and mega­churches are longing for small, deep, and creative communities. These worshipers reject a worship service where paid professionals entertain those attending and instead are committed to making liturgy, art, music, and relationships.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEcclesiologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mercy has been the animating force of Pope Francis’ three-year pontificate. And the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, which the Catholic Church has been celebrating since December, is the greatest expression of the pope’s interest. Millions of Catholics are taking the opportunity to renew their faith and receive plenary indulgences during what Francis has called “a true moment of encounter with the mercy of God.”

Vatican City’s judicial system, however, is not taking the year off. Msgr. Lucio Ángel Vallejo Balda has spent the Jubilee in a Vatican City jail cell, and he could face up to eight years behind bars for crimes against the Vatican City State. He and his co-defendants won’t be the first to be prosecuted by the world’s smallest state.

There are two types of courts within the Vatican: religious and civil. Religious courts punish heretical priests, for example, and their jurisdiction extends beyond the Vatican’s walls. Penalties follow the principle of salus animarum, the salvation of souls. They come in the form of invitations to repentance, expulsion from the priestly state or, in severe cases, excommunication.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeItaly* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishops and other prominent Christian figures have called on the new Work and Pensions Secretary, Stephen Crabb, to reverse cuts to welfare for the disabled.

Mr Crabb, a former Welsh Secretary, and a Christian, was promoted to the post after the departure of Iain Duncan Smith, who resigned saying that further planned cuts to disability benefit were a step too far. Mr Crabb reversed those cuts, which had been announced in the Budget by the Chancellor, George Osborne....

An open letter, signed by four bishops — including the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan; and the leader of the Iona Community, the Revd Peter MacDonald; and the directors of the think tank Ekklesia and the Centre for Welfare Reform — welcomes the reversal of cuts to Personal Independence Payments. Mr Crabb is urged, however, to go “even further”, and to reverse earlier changes to the payments, which are said to have left thousands of people housebound.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted April 1, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has today called for a “tsunami of truth telling” about corrupt influence-peddling on government by business interests.

Makgoba made these comments while delivering an address to a graduation at the Witwatersrand University where he received an honorary degree.

He was responding to the Constitutional Court's judgment on Nkandla.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Southern Africa* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 31, 2016 at 5:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Like that checkout assistant, many of us remain unconvinced by Chancellor George Osborne packaging up what is essentially an increase on the National Minimum Wage for over 25s and rebranding it the “National Living Wage”. Of course it is to be welcomed that Mr Osborne is increasing wages at the bottom level for over 25s. But let’s call it what it is: a new legal minimum wage for over 25s. It is not a living wage in any real sense; it is not paying workers what they deserve and it is not paying workers what they need in order to achieve a decent standard of living in the UK.

The real Living Wage is set according to what experts and the public believe is needed to achieve an above-poverty standard of living. Not earning this can mean having to rely on a food bank even if you are in work. Let’s think about that for a second. Working people should not have to rely on food banks to feed their families.

The new minimum wage also risks setting young against old. There are two million under 25’s who will not benefit from the increased minimum wage. The realLiving Wage (as set by the Living Wage Foundation) makes no distinction for how old someone has to be to expect to be paid fairly for a day’s work.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of York John Sentamu* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted March 31, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Denver’s business community took notice of [Karla] Nugent because of her philanthropy. As leader of sales, marketing, and human resources, she’s created a culture of generosity at Weifield. The company donates to more than 30 nonprofits in the city, including organizations that support women, veterans, at-risk youth, and the urban poor. Employees join in the generosity as well, taking bike rides to raise money for MS and building houses for Habitat for Humanity on company time.

In 2014, Nugent won the Denver Business Journal’s Corporate Citizen of the Year Award as well as the award for Outstanding Woman in Business for architects, engineers, and construction.

But light began to flood into Weifield when, several years ago, Nugent decided to bring the community’s needs into the company. After seeing growing income inequality in Denver, she created the Weifield Group apprenticeship program.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 22, 2016 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It's normal for millennials to still live at home these days. But what if you're a millennial who doesn't have a home to go back to?

Growing up, Alkeisha Porter, 23, says she didn't like her mom's husband and her dad had a drug problem. So at 16, she moved out and became homeless.

"I was basically just house-hopping from friends to some family members. Hey, it was comfortable to me. It wasn't cold. I wasn't sleeping outside," she says.

Young people — 18- to 24-year-olds — make up one of the fastest-growing homeless populations in the country. In many big cities like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, where housing is at a premium, finding affordable housing is especially hard.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPovertyUrban/City Life and IssuesYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Anticipate staffing needs and factor them into any policy or accommodation discussion in order to identify limits and possible areas of flexibility. The Cargill facility had specific staffing requirements on the assembly line. Other types of business can anticipate staffing and productivity issues, for example, during tax season, earnings reporting, or the holiday retail rush.

Conflict avoidance and ethics aren’t the only reason to work toward solutions to religious accommodations. A recent study shows that workers who feel religiously comfortable in the workplace have higher job satisfaction. And, as Noelle Nelson demonstrates in her book Make More Money by Making Your Employees Happy, higher job satisfaction among employees leads to greater profitability for the employer.

As Cargill and other employers are discovering, faith is a part of the whole person that employers ignore at their peril.

Read it all.

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

2 Comments
Posted March 19, 2016 at 1:12 pm [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: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted March 19, 2016 at 7:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Robert] Blendon says the poll found that among Floridians who have experienced serious financial problems in the past two years (problems like spending down savings, not being able to afford necessities and racking up credit card debt), 76 percent had health insurance.

Consider the case of Wilson Gamboa — one of the Floridians polled.

Gamboa has a black Suzuki C50 motorcycle in his garage. But he hasn't driven it in two years since his health insurance premiums went up by $50 a month.

"It's been a while," says Gamboa. "I start her up regularly — you know, just to make sure the wheels keep going and the engine stays lubed — but she's sitting there now."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 17, 2016 at 6:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The question then is what exactly Jeremy Pemberton is seeking and how it can be justified. If the argument is that the church’s doctrine is in error or that the bishops are in error in their statements and applications of that doctrine then there are means within the church to rectify those errors. To seek for the state to correct the church’s alleged errors – by judging that the bishops are mis-stating its own doctrine or that the substance of that doctrine must be abandoned - is a step which needs to be defended. Yet I have seen no serious defence of this approach. The decision of Canon Pemberton and his supporters to continue to press their case through the courts means they must address this issue of their chosen means to secure their desired end and clarify what they are wanting the court to decide in terms of directing the church in relation to its doctrine and requirements of ministers....

Finally, looking ahead as we draw near the end of the Shared Conversations, this case highlights the difficulty of implementing what some call for under the title of “good disagreement”. If the case is lost then it has been established that the church has a doctrine of marriage which bishops are right to uphold by refusing to issue a licence to someone in a same-sex marriage. The judgment is clear that canonical obedience is “a core part of the qualifying of a priest for ministry within the Church” (para 120) and that Canon Pemberton is obliged to undertake to pay true and Canonical Obedience to the Lord Bishop but that (given its conclusion as to church doctrine), “Self-evidently he is not going to be able to fulfil that obligation or has not done so….and therefore objectively he cannot be issued with his licence” (para 121). Any bishop who therefore issued a licence to someone in a same-sex marriage would therefore be open to legal challenge. Any attempt to allow clergy to enter same-sex marriages would, it appears, need first to redefine the church’s doctrine of marriage. If, however, Jeremy wins his case then, as noted above, no bishop could refuse a licence on the grounds of the priest being in a same-sex marriage.

In other words, if the church keeps it current doctrine of marriage then it will be very difficult to justify licensing clergy in same-sex marriages but if it changes it or somehow declares it has no fixed doctrine of marriage then it will be very difficult to justify refusing a licence to clergy in same-sex marriages given equality legislation. So, even if it were considered desirable, it is therefore hard to see how, given the law, the church could “agree to differ” on this subject in a way that both enabled same-sex married clergy to be licensed and also protected those unable in good conscience to license clergy in same-sex marriages.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted March 16, 2016 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The groundswell of residents who opposed opening the Lowcountry’s offshore waters to drilling for oil and natural gas had help from an unlikely white knight: the Navy.

Federal regulators Tuesday removed the Southeast coast from a proposed final ruling on leasing new areas for the work.

The ruling did open more of the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic Ocean. It now goes to a 90-day public comment period and must be approved by Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.

The decision does not end the leasing process for seismic testing and exploratory drilling, but profit for that work is in fees paid by oil industry companies for the results, and the lease applications are widely expected to be dropped.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMilitary / Armed Forces* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 15, 2016 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Just as it is starting to turn the tide against Isil, Iraq is running out of money.

Behind the front lines of the Iraqi desert, where the Nineveh provincial police are training to retake their homes in and around Mosul, they are short of one thing: weapons.

“We have been regrouped here since the fall of Mosul,” said Major Ayman, standing over his line of men in blue uniforms. “We have been waiting here for five months but we have no weapons.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 13, 2016 at 5:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Justin Welby captured the attention of the nation in 2013 when he declared war on Wonga and pledged the support of the church in the fight for financial inclusion. And yet, alongside the positive headlines, a common question emerged in response: what does the church really have to offer to people struggling on low incomes and preyed on by exploitative lenders, except perhaps a some spiritual support and comfort?

The answer has come in the form of the Church Credit Champions Network, a project funded by Lloyds Banking Group that has been piloting in London and Liverpool since the spring of 2014. It helps equip local churches to engage with money and debt issues, and has formed a key part of the task group set up by the archbishop of Canterbury and chaired by former City regulator Sir Hector Sants.

The church has both an unmatched “branch network”, with a presence in every community in the country, and a range of different resources, such as people, money, skills and buildings, which are all potentially of value to credit unions and others seeking to increase access to savings and affordable credit in their communities. The network helps churches to listen and reflect on what is happening within their local community in terms of money and debt, and then trains up clergy and church members as ”credit champions”, ready to take practical action.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 11, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The House of Commons has defeated the Government’s attempt to relax Sunday trading restrictions. On Wednesday evening, MPs voted 317 to 286 to maintain the current rules.

Twenty-seven Conservative MPs defied the Government to vote against a proposal to give local authorities the power to extend Sunday trading hours.

They were joined by Labour and the Scottish National Party (SNP), who announced their opposition to the changes on Tuesday, after press reports had earlier suggested they would abstain or vote in favour. Although there are no Sunday trading restrictions in Scotland, and the Government’s plans affect only England and Wales, the SNP argued that allowing seven-day shopping across the UK would lower the premium pay-rates that Scottish workers currently receive for working on Sundays.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 11, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The economy and dissatisfaction with the government, two issues regularly at the top of Gallup's monthly most important problem list, rank as Americans' top issues in March. Mentions of unemployment are in the double digits for a second consecutive month after hitting a seven-year low in January.

The results are based on Gallup's March 2-6 poll. Beyond the top three problems, at least 5% of Americans mention several other issues. These include immigration, healthcare, race relations, terrorism, the election and the federal budget deficit.

Mentions of the election, at 5%, are not high in an absolute sense, but they are the highest since Gallup began tracking the category in 2001. The prior high was 2% on several occasions, usually shortly after an election took place. Many of the responses in the current survey specifically mention Donald Trump and his role in the election. Those citing the election as the most important problem are primarily independents and Democrats.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted March 10, 2016 at 7:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Plans to overhaul Sunday trading laws in England and Wales have been dropped after they were rejected by MPs.

The Commons opposed proposals to allow councils to extend opening hours by 317 votes to 286, as 27 Tories rebelled.

Ministers had sought to limit the rebellion by promising to trial the changes in 12 areas but said afterwards they would respect MPs' views.

Critics of the plans said they would "chip away" at Sunday's special status and put undue pressure on workers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Danny and his wife Linda, who teaches fourth grade at a public school in Canton, Ga., got their health insurance through the state’s Blue Cross Blue Shield plan. Because Danny had torn his Achilles tendon earlier that summer playing basketball, the family had already blown through their $5,000 deductible. Linda’s doctor and their local hospital were both listed as in-network providers, so the Postells didn’t expect they’d have to pay any more out of pocket for Luke’s birth.

But then a stream of mysterious bills started rolling in. Why hadn’t anyone told them there’d be a $1,746 fee for an initial neonatal visit? What is the $240-per-day charge for Luke’s “supervision of care”? Wasn’t this all–$4,279 in the end–supposed to be covered by insurance?

Danny, who knew something about medical billing from his work as a pharmacist, quickly discovered the cause. While the local hospital was considered an in-network provider, the neonatal intensive-care unit at that same facility was not. Once Luke was whisked across that invisible line, wham: everything was out of network. “You’d think someone at some point would have told us that,” Danny says.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance

0 Comments
Posted March 10, 2016 at 4:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

They were young and relishing Brazil’s version of the American dream: buying a car, joining a church, starting a family.

With millions of others, they had climbed into the country’s expanding middle class. They had even moved into California, a neighborhood of strivers who had left the big, impoverished city nearby.

“It was that magical moment when everything seemed possible,” said Germana Soares, 24.

Then, in the sixth month of Ms. Soares’s pregnancy, the couple discovered how quickly their fortunes, like those of their nation, could change. A routine exam showed that their son weighed much less than he should. Doctors worried that he, like hundreds of other Brazilian babies born in recent months, had microcephaly, an incurable condition in which infants have abnormally small heads.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentarySouth AmericaBrazil* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 9, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two rival campaigns have been established to persuade Christians how to vote in the EU referendum.

Christians for Britain has been set up by Canon Giles Fraser, Priest-in-Charge of St Mary’s, Newington, in south London, a former canon at St Paul’s Cathedral and Church Times columnist, and Adrian Hilton, who runs the blog Archbishop Cranmer, to urge a “Leave” vote on 23 June.

Shortly after it came into being, the Very Revd Michael Sadgrove, who retired as Dean of Durham last year, established a group, Christians for the EU, to urge a vote to “Remain”.

Both organisations are, at present, little more than websites and social-media accounts, but they intend to hold public meetings and debates in the build-up to the referendum in June.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted March 8, 2016 at 11:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Worship Center Christian Church in Birmingham announced during services on Sunday morning that it will pay off the payday loans of 48 people struggling with debt.

Those whose loans are being paid off owe a combined total of more than $41,000 and are paying high interest rates of 36 percent and much higher. Payday loans are unsecured cash advances that people use to make it through to the next payday. Payday loan centers proliferate throughout Alabama.

"It's kind of a ticking time bomb with high interest rates," Senior Pastor Van Moody said in an interview after the service. "That's why many people never get out."

Those having their loans paid off will be required to undergo financial counseling and attend financial workshops so they don't get in the same fix again, Moody said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 7, 2016 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Richard Socher appeared nervous as he waited for his artificial intelligence program to answer a simple question: “Is the tennis player wearing a cap?”

The word “processing” lingered on his laptop’s display for what felt like an eternity. Then the program offered the answer a human might have given instantly: “Yes.”

Mr. Socher, who clenched his fist to celebrate his small victory, is the founder of one of a torrent of Silicon Valley start-ups intent on pushing variations of a new generation of pattern recognition software, which, when combined with increasingly vast sets of data, is revitalizing the field of artificial intelligence.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropology

1 Comments
Posted March 7, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...in Libby, Montana, there's a rather unusual woman named Gayla Benefield. She always felt a little bit of an outsider, although she's been there almost all her life, a woman of Russian extraction. She told me when she went to school, she was the only girl who ever chose to do mechanical drawing. Later in life, she got a job going house to house reading utility meters -- gas meters, electricity meters. And she was doing the work in the middle of the day, and one thing particularly caught her notice, which was, in the middle of the day she met a lot of men who were at home, middle aged, late middle aged, and a lot of them seemed to be on oxygen tanks. It struck her as strange. Then, a few years later, her father died at the age of 59, five days before he was due to receive his pension. He'd been a miner. She thought he must just have been worn out by the work. But then a few years later, her mother died, and that seemed stranger still, because her mother came from a long line of people who just seemed to live forever. In fact, Gayla's uncle is still alive to this day, and learning how to waltz. It didn't make sense that Gayla's mother should die so young. It was an anomaly, and she kept puzzling over anomalies. And as she did, other ones came to mind.

Read it all; cited by yours truly in the morning sermon.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 6, 2016 at 12:48 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The second chart paints a gloomy picture -- the picture that Donald Trump may be referring to when he says the true unemployment rate is 40 percent or higher. A 59.8 percent employment-to-population ratio means that 40.2 percent of American civilians 16 and over don't have jobs. That percentage includes high-school students, 100-year-olds and lots of other people who don't want or need jobs, so the true unemployment rate clearly isn't 40 percent. Still, in April 2000 the employment-to-population ratio peaked at 64.7 percent. Now it's significantly lower. What's going on?

The answer that I keep gravitating to is that despite the 4.9 percent unemployment rate, the job market is still pretty weak, and probably malfunctioning in some way. This isn't the only possible answer. In 2014, for example, two economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York divided people responding to the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey (from which the unemployment rate and the charts in this article are derived) into 280 cohorts defined by "birth, sex, race/ethnicity, and educational attainment." They determined that most of the decline in the employment-to-population ratio since 2000 could be explained by the changing makeup of the population.

But demographics aren't destiny.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe U.S. Government* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Chick-fil-A is offering free ice cream to families who silence their phones and place them inside a box known as a “cell phone coop” for the entire meal.

The so-called challenge is available at more than 150 of the chain’s locations.

“We really want our restaurant to provide a sense of community for our customers, where family and friends can come together and share quality time with one another,” Brad Williams, a Chick-fil-A operator in Suwanee, Georgia, said in a statement. Williams is responsible for the coop.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingChildrenDieting/Food/NutritionMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 4, 2016 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United States has a dropout crisis. Sixty percent of people go to college these days, but just half of the college students graduate with a bachelor’s degree. Some people earn a shorter, two-year associate’s degree. But more than a quarter of those who start college drop out with no credential.

Despite the rising cost of education, a college degree is one of the best investments that a young person can make. In 2015, median earnings among workers aged 22 to 27 with a bachelor’s degree were $43,000, compared with $25,000 for those with just a high school diploma. Over a lifetime, a person with a bachelor’s degree typically earns $800,000 more than someone who has completed only high school, even after netting out tuition costs.

The financial prospects for college dropouts are poor, for two reasons. First, dropouts earn little more than people with no college education. Second, many dropouts have taken on student loans, and with their low wages, they have difficulty paying off even small balances. Dropouts account for much of the increase in financial distress among student borrowers since the Great Recession.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHistoryYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 26, 2016 at 8:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It’s an improbable sight, but the Whitechapel Bell Foundry still stands on east London’s busy Whitechapel Road, an island in an area all but obliterated in the Second World War. Moreover, it is a business that has been fighting for survival for years, centuries even, and in a high-tech, ever more competitive world is still going strong. It’s no more than what you’d expect from a company that has been in continuous operation since 1570 and claims the title of Britain’s oldest manufacturer.

Alan Hughes’s family has run what is one of only two remaining bell foundries in the UK for four generations. “In its early years,” he says, “there was very little by way of continuity of ownership. The company changed hands frequently, usually staying with one family for just one generation.”

He can be forgiven for having little sympathy for businesses that have seen profits crumble because of something as recent as the arrival of the internet. His sector peaked in the 18th century, shrank and then levelled off again before sinking into steady decline for the past hundred or so years.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 25, 2016 at 11:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

AS THE EU Referendum was officially announced on Saturday rival Christian groups have entered the debate setting out their cases.

Co-Chair of Christians for Britain, Giles Fraser, Tweeted: The ‘In campaign seems to be little more than we’d be a few quid better off. Tawdry. Sovereignty and democracy shouldn’t be for sale.”

The ecumenical ‘Christians4Britain’ website, launched earlier this month, says it is a cross-party campaign representing British Christians who believe an EU exit would be better for Britain.

Read it all.

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

2 Comments
Posted February 25, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We’ve been at the heart of the ‘Aiming for A’ engagement initiative, which successfully filed shareholder resolutions at the BP and Shell AGMs last year. These companies were keen to work with us and our partners, and recommended that shareholders approve the resolutions. The companies are now legally required to step up their reporting of their strategic response to the challenges – and opportunities – posed to their businesses by climate change. This was an excellent example of what investors and companies can achieve when they work together. On the back of similar engagement, Aiming for A has filed more resolutions in the UK mining sector for this year’s AGMs which have been received by the companies in the same spirit.

Sadly, not all companies are responding constructively to the urgent need to mitigate climate change. We’ve been working with the New York State pension fund in the US to file a resolution at ExxonMobil in the United States. Rather than working with us to provide the reporting that institutional investors require, Exxon have gone to the US regulator – the Securities and Exchange Commission – to try to get the resolution struck off so that shareholders do not get the opportunity vote on it at Exxon’s AGM later this year. This week New York State have written to the SEC to ask them to deny this request, and to make sure that shareholders can indicate to Exxon’s board their desire for fuller reporting on the implications of climate change policy.

We are extremely disappointed that even after the Paris climate change agreement ExxonMobil has contested the relevance of the resolution we have co-filed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock MarketEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 25, 2016 at 5:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More than a year of U.S.-led airstrikes and financial sanctions haven’t stopped Islamic State from ordering supplies for its fighters, importing food for its subjects or making quick profits in currency arbitrage.

This is because of men such as Abu Omar, one of the militant group’s de facto bankers. The Iraqi businessman is part of a network of financiers stretching across northern and central Iraq who for decades have provided money transfers and trade finance for the many local merchants who shun conventional banks.

When Islamic State seized control of the region in 2014, the world’s wealthiest terror group made him an offer he decided not to refuse: You can keep your business if you also handle our money.

“I don’t ask questions,” said Abu Omar, whose money-exchange offices in the Iraqi cities of Mosul, Sulimaniyah, Erbil and Hit charge as much as 10% to transfer cash in and out of militant territory—twice normal rates. “Islamic State is good for business.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Here’s a radical idea: What if we contained the mission of our universities to education? The story behind the story of student debt inflation is the inflation of the university into an expanding behemoth of goods and services that have little to do with education and more to do with expectations of coddled comfort. Rather than being an institution centered on education, the university now aspires to be a total institution that meets every felt need. The campus is now a sprawling complex of fitness centers and cineplexes, food courts and gargantuan coliseums. Students aren’t taking out loans to pay for an education; they’re effectively borrowing money to pay exorbitant, short-lived taxes for the privilege of living in a scripted, cocooned city.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 24, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Unlike his predecessor Steve Jobs, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook has never shied away from taking a political and social stand.

He was the first head of a Fortune 500 company to come out as gay. He pledged to one day donate his personal fortune to charity, and he talks passionately about the importance of social justice, diversity and the environment.

But it's his hard-line stance on privacy that could define his legacy at Apple and set the tone for the way big corporations deal with big government at a time when so much of our lives unfold on the devices we use every day.

How far Cook is willing to take the fight is being tested on a national level now. He ramped up the debate Wednesday when he publicly and vehemently opposed a federal judge's order to provide access to encrypted data on an iPhone belonging to the terrorist couple who killed 14 people in San Bernardino last year.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeTerrorism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Watch it all--so on target its painful!

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We toiling workers can allow ourselves a wry smile. For most of the last eight years the owners of wealth and inflated assets have had things their own way, while the real economy has been left behind.

The tables are finally turning. The world may look absolutely ghastly if your metric is the stock market, but it is much the same or slightly better if you are at the coal face.

The MSCI index of world equities has fallen almost 20pc since its all-time high in May of 2015, implying a $14 trillion loss of paper wealth. Yet the world economy has carried on at more or less the same anemic pace, and the OECD's global leading indicators show no sign that it is suddenly rolling over now.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceStock MarketThe U.S. GovernmentFederal ReserveEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChinaEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 11, 2016 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 9, 2016 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire media owner and former New York mayor, has stated for the first time that he is considering a run for US president, a move that would dramatically reshape the 2016 race for the White House.
Speaking to the Financial Times, the founder of the eponymous financial information group criticised the quality of the debate in the ​presidential ​race. He said ​that ​he was “looking at all the options” when asked whether he was considering putting his name forward.

“I find the level of discourse and discussion distressingly banal and an outrage and an insult to the voters,” Mr Bloomberg said in an interview, before adding that the US public deserved “a lot better”.

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President


Posted February 8, 2016 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are a lot of empty pews in the Anglican Diocese of Quebec's churches, but the treasury is fuller than it has been in years.
As shrewd investing is replacing weekly parishioner offerings as a main revenue source, the diocese is looking to ethical investment to build its portfolio in a socially responsible way that better reflects its values.
In December, the diocese completed the process of selling off its $1.72 million in fossil fuel investments and the $525,000 it had invested in gold and copper mining. In doing so, it added its name to the growing list of organizations that have chosen to divest from oil and gas over climate change concerns.
Bishop Dennis Drainville says the next step for the Quebec Anglicans is an investing shift to renewable energy.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock MarketEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Dolores Westfall]...endures what is for many aging Americans an unforgiving economy. Nearly one-third of U.S. heads of households ages 55 and older have no pension or retirement savings and a median annual income of about $19,000.

A growing proportion of the nation’s elderly are like Westfall: too poor to retire and too young to die.

Many rely on Social Security and minimal pensions, in part because half of all workers have no employer-backed retirement plans. Eight in 10 Americans say they will work well into their 60s or skip retirement entirely.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the Elderly* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted February 7, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sir Jeremy Morse was one of the most intellectually gifted London bankers of the postwar era. He led Lloyds Bank through the challenges of Big Bang, the reorganisation of stock exchange practices and the third world debt crisis, and saw it emerge as one of the strongest of Britain’s retail banking groups.

With the air of a don rather than a City banker, he was skilled at crosswords and brain-teaser puzzles and was even acknowledged as the inspiration for Inspector Morse. The detective’s creator, Colin Dexter, named the character after him because he said that he had never encountered a finer problem-solving mind.

Knowing he had inspired Inspector Morse gave him great pleasure. He was introduced to Dexter in the 1950s at dinners hosted by The Observer for those who had solved their Ximenes crossword. Unlike his fictional alter-ego, Morse said, “I am distressingly unmelancholy.” He drank wine, albeit in moderation, and listened to Bach rather than wallowing in Wagner.

Read it all (requires subscription)

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

0 Comments
Posted February 7, 2016 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What’s striking — and crucial for understanding our populist moment — is the fact that the leadership cadres of both parties aren’t just unresponsive to this anxiety. They add to it.

The intelligentsia on the left rarely lets a moment pass without reminding us of the demographic eclipse of white middle-class voters. Sometimes, those voters are described as racists, or derided as dull suburbanites who lack the élan of the new urban “creative class.” The message: White middle-class Americans aren’t just irrelevant to America’s future, they’re in the way.

Conservatives are no less harsh. Pundits ominously predict that the “innovators” are about to be overwhelmed by a locust blight of “takers.” The message: If it weren’t for successful people like us, middle-class people like you would be doomed. And if you’re not an entrepreneurial “producer,” you’re in the way.

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in GeneralOffice of the President* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted February 5, 2016 at 6:55 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Estimates of Americans' debt burden abound, and unfortunately, they're almost all different. But one thing is clear: Americans are carrying a lot of debt, especially millennials, according to Gallup analysis.

Perhaps the most surprising finding from Gallup's analysis is just how few Americans account for that mountain of consumer debt. For example, three out of four U.S. adults (76%) report that they have at least one credit card, but, on average, Americans have 3.4 of them. The percentage of Americans who have credit cards is lowest among millennials (65%) and highest among traditionalists (85%), with Gen Xers (78%) and baby boomers (83%) in between.

Though 76% of U.S. adults report having at least one credit card, just under half of Americans (48%) carry credit card debt, with fewer traditionalists (32%) and more Gen Xers (61%) carrying credit card debt. The Generation X finding isn't surprising, given that they are in their prime child-rearing years and that they have more cards than any other group (4.5).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchSociologyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 4, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Shops will be allowed to open for longer on Sundays after the Government revealed it was pressing ahead with controversial plans to give local councils powers to relax trading laws.

A host of measures to shake-up shop opening hours will be put forward as amendments to the Enterprise Bill, Sajid Javid, the business secretary, announced today. It comes less than three months after David Cameron, the Prime Minister, was forced to scrap a vote on plans to relax trading laws after they sparked a revolt by 20 Conservative MPs.
However, despite opposition to the proposals from MPs and some retailers, Mr Javid has pushed ahead by unveiling measures to allow councils to introduce zones where shops can trade for longer.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 3, 2016 at 7:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More than 300 eminent academics at Oxford and Cambridge have signed a joint statement calling on the institutions to pursue more “morally sound” investment policies that have no basis in fossil fuels.

The signatories, who include the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams and the Astronomer Royal Lord Rees, say that Oxford and Cambridge should put their multibillion-pound endowment funds to better use in the light of “looming social, environmental, and financial pressures”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Rowan Williams* Culture-WatchEducationLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock MarketEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

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

2 Comments
Posted February 2, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Let’s ask a question: Why was David Blatt fired as coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers? The man who fired him said it was a matter of “a lack of fit with our personnel and our vision.” Possibly true. But it would be more useful to say this: David Blatt got fired because Chip Kelly got fired before him, and Jose Mourinho before him, and Kevin McHale before him, and so on nearly ad infinitum.

That is to say: firing coaches is how professional sports franchises deal with conflict. And athletes know that this is how professional sports franchises deal with conflict: so when a team hits a bad patch, and the players are underperforming, and the coach is getting angry with them, and relationships are fraying… why bother stitching them up? Why bother salving the wounds? If everyone knows where the situation is headed — sacking the manager — then isn’t there rather a strong incentive to make things worse, in order to hasten the inevitable, put an end to the frustrations, start afresh, get a do-over? Of course there is.

And precisely the same tendencies are at work in many of the key institutions of American social life. This is one of the chief reasons why so many marriages end quickly; this is why so many Christians church-hop, to the point that pastors will tell you that church discipline is simply impossible: if you challenge or rebuke a church member for bad behavior, he or she will simply be at another church the next week, or at no church at all.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychologySociologySports* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 1, 2016 at 3:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But a new NBER working paper from economists at Stanford and the University of Virginia suggests that, when done right, one kind of teacher turnover, at least, can be highly effective: programs for aggressively replacing bad teachers. The authors collected data from a unique Washington, D.C. program called IMPACT, which assesses teachers based on student outcomes and ratings from their peers, rewards those who perform well, and replaces those who persistently perform poorly. In a nutshell, it worked: The teachers pushed out for poor performance were consistently replaced with teachers who performed significantly better. “Under a robust system of performance assessment,” the authors write in their conclusion, “the turnover of teachers can generate meaningful gains in student outcomes, particularly for the most disadvantaged students.”

As we’ve written before, the idea that all teachers must be teachers for life needs to be questioned more often. That’s especially true when one is talking about replacing poorly performing teachers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 1, 2016 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“...go-getters” also outperformed the “do-gooders” on the job, seeing the same number of patients in their health clinics while conducting 29 percent more home visits and twice as many community health meetings. (After being recruited, everyone was told about the opportunities for career advancement, so that no differences in performance could be attributed to differing incentives.)

More important, updated data show that communities served by the “go-getters” are doing better on key health benchmarks such as facility-based childbirth, breast-feeding, vaccinations and nutrition. Based on these findings, the Zambian government changed its recruitment advertising as it looks to expand its health-worker program.

These two insights — committing to cash savings, recruiting “go-getters” for community service jobs — are just the tip of the iceberg. We have found that pairing experts in behavioral science with “on the ground” teams of researchers and field workers has yielded many good ideas about how to address the problems of poverty. Hope and rhetoric are great for motivation, but not for figuring out what to do. There you need data.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationPoverty* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaZambia* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 1, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Globally, the people who fight in wars or commit violent crimes are nearly all young men. Henrik Urdal of the Harvard Kennedy School looked at civil wars and insurgencies around the world between 1950 and 2000, controlling for such things as how rich, democratic or recently violent countries were, and found that a “youth bulge” made them more strife-prone. When 15-24-year-olds made up more than 35% of the adult population—as is common in developing countries—the risk of conflict was 150% higher than with a rich-country age profile.

If young men are jobless or broke, they make cheap recruits for rebel armies. And if their rulers are crooked or cruel, they will have cause to rebel. Youth unemployment in Arab states is twice the global norm. The autocrats who were toppled in the Arab Spring were all well past pension age, had been in charge for decades and presided over kleptocracies.

Christopher Cramer of the School of Oriental and African Studies in London cautions that there is no straightforward causal link between unemployment and violence. It is not simply a lack of money that spurs young men to rebel, he explains; it is more that having a job is a source of status and identity.

Read it all from the Economist.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyMenPsychologyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

2 Comments
Posted January 31, 2016 at 3:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When the revolution first erupted, I argued that a political revolution would fail without an accompanying social (r)evolution, to dethrone the million "mini-Mubaraks," weed out endemic corruption, promote equality and egalitarianism, create a meritocracy and more. While the political revolution has stalled, the social and cultural one is in full swing. It has been spearheaded by workers demanding their rights, women struggling for equality, and the growing assertiveness of previously discreet minorities, such as atheists.

Young people have perhaps been the greatest agitators for change and have given their elders lessons in courage, determination and grit - schools have become breeding grounds for rebels.

Whether or not Egyptians heed the call of the shrunken ranks of activist to take to the streets once again, it does not mean they never will again. Egyptians have discovered their latent ability to move immobile mountains and have broken the fear barrier. When they do eventually rise again, a deep social revolution may enable them to unleash their creativity - perhaps even reinventing democracy to suit their needs.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 28, 2016 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Now, on the surface this might sound like a modest gesture. Not a bit of it. The programme is certainly down to earth and extremely practical, and rightly so. Yet it aims at the heart of some of the deepest, most painful and most intractable problems that families can face, and seeks to help put people on a new footing – a footing that Jesus would recognise as healed and renewed.

When I prayed with the children during their assembly yesterday, I prayed especially for those whose households have serious money problems. Where there are such difficulties, it may lead to a whole range of other problems tightening their grip on a family: substance abuse, domestic violence and marital breakdown, among others.

So the way that money is dealt with is about human flourishing at its deepest level – and it is absolutely right that the church is helping to try and break this cycle before it affects another generation. Meanwhile, on a practical level it makes perfect sense for the Church of England, which is involved in the education of a million children around the country, to be using our particular platform to make this contribution.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 27, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Would people join? When the idea of a Church Credit Union was first mooted (some eight years ago), the feedback was positive, but would that general level of interest translate into real live members? The answer to that one is ‘yes it has’. It was with great excitement we watched our first applications come through. We operate an online system that sends us an email every time someone joins and it was marvellous to open the mailbox and see twenty new applicants just on the first day and it is rare a day goes by without at least one new member. And yes, we do have a lot of members who are ordained ministers but we also have PCC members, and Elders, and Office staff and a membership that is as diverse as our churches.

The second question was ‘will people save?’ On the 11th February 2015 the credit union had an empty balance sheet but since then 200 people have become Founder Members of the credit union, investing an amazing £910,000 to add to the £386,000 in deferred shares invested by our denominational partners big and small. We also gained 350 regular savers depositing an average of £40 a month into their accounts.

The next step was would people borrow? Not guaranteed in our perceived debt adverse client base. Again since May, credit union loans have purchased 83 cars, two caravans and a motorbike, we have improved seven homes and furnished two others and helped to pay for one wedding. We’ve also walked alongside 11 households in helping to turn unmanageable debt into affordable credit.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 26, 2016 at 7:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Standing at a microphone in September holding up a baby bottle, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a local pediatrician, said she was deeply worried about the water. The number of Flint children with elevated levels of lead in their blood had risen alarmingly since the city changed its water supply the previous year, her analysis showed.

Within hours of Dr. Hanna-Attisha’s news conference, Michigan state officials pushed back — hard. A Department of Health and Human Services official said that the state had not seen similar results and that it was working with a much larger set of data. A Department of Environmental Quality official was quoted as saying the pediatrician’s remarks were “unfortunate,” described the mood over Flint’s water as “near-hysteria” and said, as the authorities had insisted for months, that the water met state and federal standards.

Dr. Hanna-Attisha said she went home that night feeling shaky and sick, her heart racing. “When a state with a team of 50 epidemiologists tells you you’re wrong,” she said, “how can you not second-guess yourself?”

No one now argues with Dr. Hanna-Attisha’s findings. Not only has she been proved right, but Gov. Rick Snyder publicly thanked her on Tuesday “for bringing these issues to light.”

Read it all from the New York Times.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesScience & TechnologyUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe U.S. GovernmentEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentState Government* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 25, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Michael R. Bloomberg has instructed advisers to draw up plans for a potential independent campaign in this year’s presidential race. His advisers and associates said he was galled by Donald J. Trump’s dominance of the Republican field, and troubled by Hillary Clinton’s stumbles and the rise of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont on the Democratic side.

Mr. Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, has in the past contemplated running for the White House on a third-party ticket, but always concluded he could not win. A confluence of unlikely events in the 2016 election, however, has given new impetus to his presidential aspirations.

Mr. Bloomberg, 73, has already taken concrete steps toward a possible campaign, and has indicated to friends and allies that he would be willing to spend at least $1 billion of his fortune on it, according to people briefed on his deliberations who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss his plans. He has set a deadline for making a final decision in early March, the latest point at which advisers believe Mr. Bloomberg could enter the race and still qualify to appear as an independent candidate on the ballot in all 50 states.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentOffice of the President* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 23, 2016 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In her 67 years as a registered nurse, she’s cared for veterans of the Spanish-American War, vaccinated thousands of children with the then new Salk polio vaccine, and was among the first to report the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease. For the past quarter century, until her retirement this month, she has been caring for HIV and AIDS victims at the Veterans Administration hospital in Philadelphia.

“When you have a passion and you impact people’s lives on a daily basis,” she says, “it gives you a purpose.”

As a nursing student, one of her very first patients was a 12-year-old boy, Tommy Rios, who was riding double on the handlebars of a bicycle when he fell and was hit by a car, fracturing his skull and breaking his femur and pelvis. He was in a full body cast, in the hospital, for six months. Molly not only cared for him, but also brought him hoagies — the Philly word for submarine sandwiches — because he wasn’t eating the hospital food.

Molly’s niece Anne Harriott asked her the other day what ever became of the boy.

“I had lunch with him last week,” Molly replied.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted January 17, 2016 at 6:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The new year was rung in with the surprising news of a small militia occupying a federal building in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, deep in rural Oregon. Armed protestors, calling themselves Citizens for Constitutional Freedom, have called on the U.S. government to reverse policies dealing with public lands that they consider unconstitutional.

The group’s leader, Ammon Bundy, a confessing Mormon, said they would remain there until they “restore the land and resources to the people so people across the country can begin thriving again.” While most media outlets have covered the political and ideological aspects of the group’s motivation, few have considered the issue historically.

One of the first clues came after a militia member identified himself to a reporter as “Captain Moroni.” That name, of course, would most likely not match his birth certificate, but the captain is not just hiding behind a pseudonym. Instead, as others have noted, his choice of nickname is a tip of the hat to the motivation behind his actions: an odd blend of patriotism and Mormonism.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. Government* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsMormons* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted January 13, 2016 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Entering 2016, the future never felt more within reach.

Science fiction will become science fact this year when you take virtual-reality vacations and your dishwasher reorders its own soap. Are you ready for a drone that follows you around like paparazzi?

When we gazed ahead at the devices, breakthroughs and ideas most likely to make waves, two themes emerged. One is liberation: We’re increasingly less shackled, be it to a phone charger or a cable subscription. The other is intelligence: As processing power and bandwidth increase, our machines, services and even messaging apps become more capable.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted December 30, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In 2015, a sense of unease and foreboding seemed to settle on all the world’s major power centres. From Beijing to Washington, Berlin to Brasília, Moscow to Tokyo — governments, media and citizens were jumpy and embattled.

This kind of globalised anxiety is unusual. For the past 30 years and more, there has been at least one world power that was bullishly optimistic. In the late 1980s the Japanese were still enjoying a decades-long boom — and confidently buying up assets all over the world. In the 1990s America basked in victory in the cold war and a long economic expansion. In the early 2000s the EU was in a buoyant mood, launching a single currency and nearly doubling its membership. And for most of the past decade, the growing political and economic power of China has inspired respect all over the world.

Yet at the moment all the big players seem uncertain — even fearful. The only partial exception that I came across this year was India, where the business and political elite still seemed buoyed by the reformist zeal of prime minister Narendra Modi.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryPsychology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted December 30, 2015 at 7:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Forget public Nativity scenes, as court fiat commanded us to do years ago. On Fifth Avenue this year you can’t even find dear old Santa Claus. Or his elves. Christmas past has become Christmas gone.

The scenes inside Saks Fifth Avenue’s many windows aren’t easy to describe. Saks calls it “The Winter Palace.” I would call it Prelude to an Orgy done in vampire white and amphetamine blue.

A luxuriating woman lies on a table, her legs in the air. Saks’ executives, who bear responsibility for this travesty, did have the good taste to confine to a side street the display of a passed-out man on his back (at least he’s wearing a tux), spilling his martini, beneath a moose head dripping with pearls. Adeste Gomorrah.

But you haven’t seen the anti-Christmas yet. It’s up at 59th Street in the “holiday” windows of Bergdorf Goodman. In place of anything Christmas, Bergdorf offers “The Frosty Taj Mahal,” a palm-reading fortune teller—and King Neptune, the pagan Roman god, seated with his concubine. (One Saks window features the Roman Colosseum, the historic site of Christian annihilation.)

Read it all from daniel henninger of the WSJ.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularismWicca / paganism* TheologyChristologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 24, 2015 at 6:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

According to a 2013 survey by the US Department of Education and National Institute of Literacy, 14 per cent of the adult population (or 32 million people) cannot read properly, while 21 per cent read below a level required in the fifth grade. And 19 per cent of high-school graduates cannot read. In the north-east, illiteracy is lower; in some southern states, such as Mississippi, it is higher. North Carolina is in the middle. This rate has been remarkably stable in recent decades, and it puts the US in 12th place among major industrialised countries (the UK fares only slightly better).

But what is truly startling — and tragic — is the degree to which “the link between academic failure and delinquency, violence and crime is welded to reading failure”, as a report from the Department of Justice states. Apparently 85 per cent of juvenile delinquents and 70 per cent of the prison population struggles to read. Indeed, the link is so well established that pro-literacy groups claim that some states can predict their need for future prison beds by looking at the literacy rates in schools. And, unsurprisingly, half of adults with poor literacy live in poverty, shut out of most 21st-century jobs. As Juli Willeman, head of the Pi Beta Phi group, which runs literacy campaigns, observes: “Reading proficiency predicts future success.” Or the lack of it.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted December 20, 2015 at 3:38 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

,,,in the United States of 2015 — weeks before the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif. — someone had insulted and implicitly threatened...[Heba Macksoud] in her favorite ShopRite. It felt to her as if all the toxic language of the Republican presidential campaign, with its various forms of Islamophobia, had infiltrated even a store she cherished for its commitment to diversity.

With Ms. Yu at her side, she went to the Customer Service counter to report what had happened. The agent there called for the store’s assistant manager, Mark Egan. “I’m not done shopping,” Ms. Macksoud recently recalled telling him, “but I don’t feel safe here.”

Mr. Egan was about as much of a Jersey guy as a Jersey guy can get. He grew up in Freehold, Bruce Springsteen’s hometown, and married in the young Springsteen’s parish church, Saint Rose of Lima. Mr. Egan, his hair starting to thin at 43, has worked at ShopRite for 13 years.

He told Ms. Macksoud he would protect her.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted December 19, 2015 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[The data in the economic background paints]...a very murky picture. This is the first time the Fed has ever embarked on tightening cycle when the ISM gauge of manufacturing is below the boom-bust line of 50. Nominal GDP growth in the US has been trending down from 5pc in mid-2014 to barely 3pc.

Danny Blanchflower, a Dartmouth professor and a former UK rate-setter, said the US labour market is not as tight as it looks. Inflation is nowhere near its 2pc target and the world economy is still gasping for air. He sees a 50/50 chance that the Fed will have to pirouette and go back to the drawing board.

“All it will take is one shock,” said Lars Christensen, from Markets and Money Advisory. “It is really weird that they are raising rates at all. Capacity utilization in industry has been falling for five months.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/SectorThe U.S. GovernmentFederal ReserveForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 18, 2015 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two contract extensions in spite of the fact that the City councillors unanimously said no to the rezoning application. Two extensions in spite of the feelings of the neighbours who want the church to remain a church and in spite of the hopes and prayers of local congregations who are longing for usable worship space. Preserve a church as a church? Why do that when you can reap an extra million dollars by selling to a developer who specializes in high-density construction?

The words of Bill Mous, spokesperson for the Diocese, ring hollow to anyone who has a stake in the neighbourhood surrounding the church property. The Diocese "cares deeply for Guelph"? This community does not feel cared for.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 17, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If the Federal Reserve proceeds as expected and raises US interest rates for the first time in almost a decade on Wednesday it will be an affirmation of what Janet Yellen and her fellow policymakers see as the strength of the US recovery.

It will also be at odds with what many in the US’s industrial economy are seeing.

From manufacturing behemoths like Caterpillar and Deere & Co to companies supplying the industrial sector the common theme in recent months has been that, thanks to a strong dollar and a collapse in commodity prices, tough times are back. Some are going so far as to declare the arrival of an industrial recession.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentFederal Reserve* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 16, 2015 at 5:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Across the world, higher education is linked to higher levels of employment and life evaluation, making it the proverbial ticket to a great job and a great life. But the most recent evidence suggests that the link between higher education and graduates' readiness for today's rapidly changing workplace may be broken, says Brandon Busteed, Gallup's executive director of education and workforce development.

Read it all and you can watch the address also.

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

0 Comments
Posted December 15, 2015 at 2:42 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As part of his push for the Affordable Care Act in 2009, President Obama came to Central High School to laud this community as a model of better, cheaper health care. “You’re getting better results while wasting less money,” he told the crowd. His visit had come amid similar praise from television broadcasts, a documentary film and a much-read New Yorker article.

All of the attention stemmed from academic work showing that Grand Junction spent far less money on Medicare treatments – with no apparent detriment to people’s health. The lesson seemed obvious: If the rest of the country became more like Grand Junction, this nation’s notoriously high medical costs would fall.

But a new study casts doubt on that simple message.

Price has been ignored in public policy,” said Dr. Robert Berenson, a fellow at the Urban Institute, who was unconnected with the research. Dr. Berenson is a former vice chairman of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commision, which recommends policies to Congress. “That has been counterproductive.”

Read it all (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinancePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

10 Comments
Posted December 15, 2015 at 2:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After a landlord was convicted of pushing her Muslim tenant down a flight of stairs, a judge ordered her to respect the rights of all Muslims and to take an introductory course on Islam. Now the highest court in Massachusetts is being asked to decide whether the judge violated the landlord's constitutional rights.

The Supreme Judicial Court will hear arguments next month in a case that poses interesting legal questions at a time when the country is grappling with anti-Muslim backlash following deadly attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, both allegedly carried out by radical Muslims.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 13, 2015 at 3:58 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A chaplain’s job is to serve the spiritual needs of everyone in his or her care. A Buddhist chaplain in Oregon has to provide amplifiers for evangelical praise music, drums for Native American circles, and a priest and wafers for mass. When a chaplain for Tyson Foods insists that the job isn’t just to patch people up so they can go out and make more money for Tyson, one has to wonder: Would Tyson pay for a chaplain if the chaplain’s presence weren’t profitable in some way? Would the army, the hospital, or the prison pay for chaplains if they didn’t serve their respective causes? Shouldn’t the local church minister to its members and communities rather than outsource personnel to secular institutions?

One military chaplain in the film tells of soldiers in Iraq coming to him to ask if their souls are endangered. We can only imagine what sorts of things they’ve done in our name. He reassures them that their souls are not in danger: if they’ve followed lawful orders, the culpability for giving those orders is on the head of those who issued them. But can we be so sure? Should the church dispense such assurance so glibly? Could a chaplain who responded “I don’t know” to that question keep her job? And isn’t “I don’t know,” at least in some cases, a more truthful response?

I’m more sympathetic to prison chaplaincy. In a nation that warehouses 2.2 million people, some of the only outsiders who care about the incarcerated come from religious communities. The film follows the work of Calvary Chapel of Southeast Portland, which treats the Oregon prison almost like a campus of its church. Its members offer instant relationship, social capital, and material help when prisoners are released.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPrison/Prison MinistryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEcclesiology

0 Comments
Posted December 13, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Speaking as the Church of England's lead on the environment, Bishop Nicholas has welcomed today's agreement at the UN Climate Change Summit in Paris. After two weeks of talks, participants have committed to hold the increase in global temperatures to 'well below' 2-degrees above pre-industrial levels, alongside clear rules on transparency and reviews of carbon emissions every five years.

Speaking about the COP21 agreement, Bishop Nick Holtam, said, "is good to have an ambitious agreement about the aspiration. What matters now is that governments actually deliver a low carbon future - the transparency of accountability and process of review will be what ensures that happens. This looks like real progress - there is now a much more positive spirit about what now needs to happen than after Copenhagen six years ago, but we are still at an early stage on the journey."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 12, 2015 at 2:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nearly 200 delegates from nations around the world on Saturday approved a framework to contain carbon emissions, in a move being hailed as a groundbreaking accord that requires the world's economies to take concrete steps to regulate gases linked to global warming.

After two weeks of marathon negotiations conducted in the shadow of the Paris terrorist attacks which shocked the world, national representatives appeared put a stamp of approval on a blueprint that commits signatories to curbing climate-altering greenhouse gases.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius hailed the "historic" measure for transforming the world's fossil fuel-driven economy within decades and turn the tide on global warming.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 12, 2015 at 1:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Anglican Diocese of Niagara is giving community groups a two-month window to come up with a revised development proposal for the patch of land at 171 Kortright Rd. W.

The Diocese made the announcement in a news release on Wednesday.

Earlier this year, HIP Developments made a conditional offer on the property that was formerly the St. Matthias Anglican Church. When residents and community groups complained about the proposed six-storey, 325-resident condominium geared toward student housing, the developers offered a plan for stacked townhouses instead.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketPolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryCanada

0 Comments
Posted December 11, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




Return to blog homepage

Return to Mobile view (headlines)