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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The court found that the Bank had a contract with the Diocese, as represented by the Bishop in Council and that there was a real guarantee made to honour the loan. Further, the court found that the BiC has an obligation to promote the necessary ordinances to levy the funds required (i.e. general diocesan assets including, if necessary, church buildings and properties should be sold to make good the debt).

This obviously puts the diocese in a dire position. It is widely acknowledged that it will be unable to meet these debts and continue to function in any general sense as it currently does. So where to from here?

It’s less than 24 hours since the judgement was passed down but I’ve been able to canvas a range of responses from senior and informed figures in the Anglican Church of Australia.

Amongst many there is a genuine sorrow for the diocese which is now facing a major crisis, and also for Bishop Ian Palmer who is not in perfect health. But options are limited. This will now be a test of the national church’s understanding of its own mutuality. To what extent should other dioceses get involved to help out? What role should the Primate or the General Synod take? When the crisis first developed a financial advisory group went to meet with then Bishop Hurford. They were, it’s fair to say, sent packing. More recently at a General Synod Standing Committee meeting one member urged the Standing Committee to “either send a condolence card or stand shoulder to shoulder”. But which will it be?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 11, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After more than four decades of serving as the nation’s economic majority, the American middle class is now matched in number by those in the economic tiers above and below it. In early 2015, 120.8 million adults were in middle-income households, compared with 121.3 million in lower- and upper-income households combined, a demographic shift that could signal a tipping point, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data.

In at least one sense, the shift represents economic progress: While the share of U.S. adults living in both upper- and lower-income households rose alongside the declining share in the middle from 1971 to 2015, the share in the upper-income tier grew more.

Over the same period, however, the nation’s aggregate household income has substantially shifted from middle-income to upper-income households, driven by the growing size of the upper-income tier and more rapid gains in income at the top. Fully 49% of U.S. aggregate income went to upper-income households in 2014, up from 29% in 1970. The share accruing to middle-income households was 43% in 2014, down substantially from 62% in 1970.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilySociology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 10, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The chronically homeless, on the other hand, are a subset of the homeless population that is often the most vulnerable. These are people who have been living on the streets for more than a year, or four times in the last three years, and who have a "disabling condition" — that includes serious mental illness, an addiction or a physical disability or illness.

According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, that represents about 20 percent of the national homeless population.

By implementing a model known as Housing First, Utah has reduced that number from nearly 2,000 people in 2005, to fewer than 200 now.

Read or listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPovertyUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsMormons* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 10, 2015 at 4:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After the recent terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, Americans' satisfaction with the way things are going in the U.S. dropped seven percentage points to 20%. This is the lowest level of satisfaction recorded since November 2014, but still above the all-time low of 7% in October 2008.

Read it all.

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

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Posted December 9, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More than four decades of territorial expansion — much of it hard-fought and controversial — transformed Charleston from an 8-square-mile urban enclave with a shrinking population into a 109-square-mile city with rural edges, bustling suburbs, and growing population that could soon overtake Columbia’s to become the state’s largest.

“I knew I had a responsibility to facilitate the city’s growth, in population and size,” said Riley, who was elected to the first of his 10 consecutive terms in City Hall in 1975. “A center city, to remain healthy, must be able to grow as the metropolitan area grows.”

His expansionist goals sometimes courted willing citizens happy to annex into the city, and at other times relied upon clever lawyers and secretive negotiations. Following a particularly large annexation — Daniel Island — opponents compared Riley to Saddam Hussein, the late Iraqi dictator whose attempt to annex oil-rich Kuwait sparked the first Gulf War.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in GeneralCity Government* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted December 9, 2015 at 12:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It's the season of kindness, so one Florida restaurant is doing its part to help others get into the spirit, by offering food that's priced with a "suggested donation." For TODAY NBC's Kerry Sanders reports.

Watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDieting/Food/NutritionPoverty* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted December 9, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On the eve of the Paris summit on climate change, St James’s Church Piccadilly highlighted the perilous state of the polar ice caps by hosting a giant melting ice sculpture.

The artwork entitled ‘Her floe-fall lament (COP21)’ was created by artist and placemaker Sara Mark.

The installation, which lasted less than a day, was created by a column of frozen water, on top of an oil steel drum melting into the cavity below. The steel drum was burnt and was made as hot as possible before installation, and then surrounded by wood ash, not only to separate the sculpture from people who might touch, but to suggest that destruction of trees are not helping the environment.

The work, placed in the centre of the nave, to disrupt normal church proceedings, was an accompaniment to discussions on the end of days and looking to Christ for hope, which is central to the Advent message. After the evening service, everyone processed around the sculpture, to a fire in the courtyard of the church, which cemented the idea of the delicate balance in the environment of heat and cold, which makes up the world.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchArtScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeFrance* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 9, 2015 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This column is presented as an open letter to Michael Bird, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Niagara.

On behalf of the Citizens for Community and all the residents of Guelph, I would appeal to you not to renew the Anglican Church's conditional purchase agreement with HIP Developments for 171 Kortright Rd. W. Yes, you have the legal right to sell the St. Matthias church property - and to the highest bidder. That's all you have though. You don't have the moral right. The land is community space – for the people of Guelph.

You represent the Anglican Church. People expect higher moral standards of churches, not lower. If you sell the property, zoned "institutional" for a much higher "residential" or "high density residential" amount, in the middle of a single home family neighbourhood, the Anglican Church will be held responsible. You will have failed morally.

You can do better. The Anglican Diocese bought the land in 1981 for $110,000. It was zoned "institutional" and for a reason. Communities need lands zoned "institutional" for different faiths, hospices, nursery schools, service clubs, seniors' centres, not-for-profit housing, and a host of other organizations. To buy land zoned for "institutional," and then turn around and sell it for "residential" or "high density residential," at a much higher profit, and to not accept fair market offers from other churches, is immoral. The word on the streets of Guelph is greed. People also aren't interested in money reinvested in Guelph that is more than the value of the property as "institutional." That would be tainted money. It would be totally unjust for Anglican ministries to be financed at the expense of the McElderry neighbourhood and their families.

Read it all.

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

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Posted December 8, 2015 at 4:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After walking more than 200 miles in 14 days from London to Paris to highlight the need for a fair, ambitious and binding climate change deal at the UN climate talks, over 30 pilgrims are returning from Paris on the Eurostar in just a couple of hours. It has been quite a journey, both individually and for the group as a whole.

The pilgrimage began with a wonderful service at St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square, where more than 150 people came to show their support, including the Bishop of Salisbury and Church of England’s lead bishop on the environment, Bishop Nicholas Holtam, and Bishop John Sherrington from the Catholic Diocese of Westminster.

Later that morning we were joined by 150 primary school children from Archbishop Sumner School, who sang and played instruments to welcome the pilgrims as they walked through Kennington. There was even a steel band! It was especially moving since many of the pilgrims were walking for the futures of their own grandchildren.

Read it all.


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

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Posted December 1, 2015 at 3:39 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

KOJA, Nigeria—This was a small town on the docks where steamships stopped when a traveling young nut merchant named Ahmed Musa settled here in the 1940s. He didn’t even lock his doors at night.

Now Lokoja is the fastest-growing city on Earth. His roof looks out over shanties and suburban estates tangling along the Niger River stretch where, a century ago, a British writer gazed across the water and coined the name Nigeria. Lokoja’s metropolitan population of 473,000 is set to rise 78% in the next 10 years, the United Nations projects, quicker than every other sizable town in the world.

The biggest human increase in modern history is under way in Africa. On every other continent, growth rates are slowing toward a standstill for the first time in centuries, and the day is in sight when the world’s human population levels out.

But not here—not yet.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfrica* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 30, 2015 at 4:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hunger and food insecurity are so widespread in the United States they add $160 billion to national health care spending, according to a Christian advocacy group.

The Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, said on Monday (Nov. 23) that hunger was a key factor in the U.S. having the worst infant mortality rate among developed countries.

“It is like a massive terrorist attack,” he said at the presentation of the group’s annual Hunger Report. “All the things that we do that allow the infant mortality rate to be so high — that is in effect killing a hundred thousand babies in communities across this country a year.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationPoverty* Economics, PoliticsEconomy

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Posted November 29, 2015 at 12:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The American student loan crisis is often seen as a problem of profligacy and predation. Wasteful colleges raise tuition every year, we are told, even as middle-class wages stagnate and unscrupulous for-profit colleges bilk the unwary. The result is mounting unmanageable debt.
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There is much truth in this diagnosis. But it does not explain the plight of Liz Kelley, a Missouri high school teacher and mother of four who made a series of unremarkable decisions about college and borrowing. She now owes the federal government $410,000, and counting.

This is a staggering and unusual sum. The average undergraduate who borrows leaves school with about $30,000 in debt. But Ms. Kelley’s circumstances are not unique. Of the 43.3 million borrowers with outstanding federal student loans, 1.8 percent, or 779,000 people, owe $150,000 or more. And 346,000 owe more than $200,000.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducation* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinanceThe U.S. Government* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted November 27, 2015 at 3:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fine for teachers, but it can be tough on parents' schedules and wallets.

In fact, the district says the schedule is so unpopular with families that it expects to loose several hundred students to other school systems.

"My best friend, she and her family, her two brothers, they moved to a private school because of the four-day school week," says fifth-grader Chloe Florence. And that's bad news for Apache Junction Unified, which is funded on a per-student basis.

Jennifer Florence says it just doesn't add up, but her family has decided to stick it out.

"In a philosophical sense we believe very strongly in public education. So we are trying to support the system. Abandoning a ship, it will sink."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinancePolitics in GeneralState Government* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 27, 2015 at 7:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The other [unusual request] involved a lady who came in and wanted to discuss a DIY funeral. After asking a few questions I enquired as to whom the funeral was for. ‘Me’, she said. Seeing the potential challenges of this I looked to establish if she had any children. ‘Yes,’ she said. ‘But they couldn’t face doing it.’ I pointed out the pitfall that if they couldn’t face it, then it would certainly be a tricky proposition with her no longer being around to help. There was a sudden look of comprehension as she said: ‘Oh my goodness, I’ve been such a fool – of course! But it’s been nice talking with you’.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* General InterestHumor / Trivia* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted November 23, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England has said it is "disappointed and bewildered" by the refusal of leading UK cinemas to show an advert featuring the Lord's Prayer.
The Church called the decision "plain silly" and warned it could have a "chilling" effect on free speech.
It had hoped the 60-second film would be screened UK-wide before Christmas ahead of the new Star Wars film.
The agency that handles adverts for the cinemas said it could offend those of "differing faiths and no faith".

Read it all and please take the time to watch the Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life

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Posted November 22, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nods and exhalations of “uh-huh” from the crowd give the brief sense of a revival meeting, making it easy to forget that Hayhoe is, first and foremost, a scientist. The 43-year-old Ph.D. made her name building localized statistical models (“downscaling,” in the argot of her field), which governments from California to Massachusetts use to prepare for a future onslaught of drought, or unprecedented rainfall. She currently heads up the Climate Science Center of Texas Tech University in Lubbock, and has contributed to reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Later this month, she’ll appear at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris on behalf of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a 46-year-old organization devoted to promoting a healthier, safer planet.

But here in the beating heart of Christian America, she’s an apostle of her discipline, faced with a daunting challenge. Of all U.S. religious groups, white evangelical Protestants are least likely to believe in human-caused planetary warming: Only 11 per cent accept the idea, compared to 46 per cent of the broader U.S. population. Yet no movement punches further above its political weight, bringing cash and votes to Republicans who voice their doubts and fears in Washington. If you belong to the 97 per cent of climate scientists who regard global warming as real, man-made and potentially catastrophic, this deep fracture in U.S. politics is an enormous problem.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryCanada* Theology

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Posted November 17, 2015 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Xavier Nogueras, a defense lawyer in Paris, represents twenty French citizens accused of jihadism. A few of his clients are violent and dangerous, he said, but many went to Syria out of idealism, wanting to defend other Muslims against the Assad regime and build an Islamic state. He argued that such people pose no threat to France and that the state shouldn’t permanently embitter them with years of detention. Nogueras resisted tracing his clients’ motives to social conditions in the banlieues. Few have criminal backgrounds; some had well-paid jobs in large French companies. “The most surprising thing to me is their immense humanity,” Nogueras said. He finds jihadists more interesting than the drug dealers and robbers he’s represented. “They have more to say—many more ideas. Their sacred book demands the application of Sharia, which tells them to cover their wives, not to live in secularism. And we are in a country that inevitably stigmatizes them, because it’s secular. They don’t feel at home here.”


I found the lawyer’s distinction between jihadism at home and abroad less than reassuring. Coulibaly’s faith could have led him to kill people in Paris or in Syria; violence driven by ideology could happen anywhere. The “idealism” of clients motivated to make Sharia universal law is, in some ways, more worrying than simple thuggery: even if France dedicates itself urgently to making its Muslims full-fledged children of the republic, a small minority of them will remain, on principle, irreconcilable.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“The deductible, $3,000 a year, makes it impossible to actually go to the doctor,” said David R. Reines, 60, of Jefferson Township, N.J., a former hardware salesman with chronic knee pain. “We have insurance, but can’t afford to use it.”

In many states, more than half the plans offered for sale through HealthCare.gov, the federal online marketplace, have a deductible of $3,000 or more, a New York Times review has found. Those deductibles are causing concern among Democrats — and some Republican detractors of the health law, who once pushed high-deductible health plans in the belief that consumers would be more cost-conscious if they had more of a financial stake or skin in the game.

“We could not afford the deductible,” said Kevin Fanning, 59, who lives in North Texas, near Wichita Falls. “Basically I was paying for insurance I could not afford to use.”

Read it all.

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

6 Comments
Posted November 16, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life

0 Comments
Posted November 13, 2015 at 11:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Amid the stresses of the dot-com bust and the Great Recession, it was only white Americans who turned increasingly to drugs, liquor and quietus.

Why only them? One possible solution is suggested by a paper from 2012, whose co-authors include Andrew Cherlin and Brad Wilcox, leading left and right-leaning scholars, respectively, of marriage and family.

Noting that religious practice has fallen faster recently among less-educated whites than among less-educated blacks and Hispanics, their paper argues that white social institutions, blue-collar as well as white-collar, have long reflected a “bourgeois moral logic” that binds employment, churchgoing, the nuclear family and upward mobility.

But in an era of stagnating wages, family breakdown, and social dislocation, this logic no longer seems to make as much sense.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted November 8, 2015 at 6:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The old image of the “middle class” as an aspirational state of being – upward mobility coupled with a measure of financial stability – hasn’t disappeared. But it’s under stress as much as at any time in the postwar era. Fewer Americans these days call themselves middle class, and many who do use that label see it as a badge of struggle as much as a badge of opportunity.

The middle class is being redefined partly by demographics. In 1970, fully 40 percent of US households were married couples with at least one child under 18 years old. By 2012 that share had declined to 20 percent of US households – a shift that includes more single-parent breadwinners. It’s also being redefined by a changing job market – notably by the rising importance of education on résumés, as well as the disappearance of punch-the-timecard jobs in offices and factories that once produced comfortable lifestyles but were vulnerable to automation.

All this doesn’t mean that living standards for average middle-income families are languishing in a state of permanent deterioration. A good deal of evidence suggests that’s not the case. And while some deride the insecurity of the Gig Economy – the growing legions of people doing freelance, contract, temporary, or other independent work – the changing job market has a bright side for many Americans: greater flexibility, creativity, and self-determination for one’s career.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted November 6, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For more than a half-century, St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Monroeville has played an important, if not unique, role in the life of our diocese as a whole, as I know it has for many of you individually. Its visibility along the Parkway provided the means to proclaim to thousands of drivers every day that Jesus is alive. It was a Spirit-charged community, and members of our clergy and lay leaders alike have been fostered by that charism. And, it was the final resting place for some of our departed sisters and brothers.

As I am sure you are aware, there has not been an active Episcopal Church congregation worshiping at St. Martin’s for several years and the diocese now intends to sell the property.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Departing Parishes* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market

3 Comments
Posted November 5, 2015 at 3:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Ecumenical Patriarch His All Holiness Bartholomew has called for urgent action for climate justice ahead of the UN summit on climate change in Paris in December.

In a lecture held at Lambeth Palace as part of a two day visit, the 'green patriarch' spoke of the ethical and honourable obligation ahead of COP21:
"It is not too late to act, but we cannot afford to wait. We all agree on the necessity to protect the planet's natural resources …. and we are all in this together." The Patriarch urged cities, governments and individuals to voice opinions, make decisions and act to drive a new environmental ethos.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchClimate Change, WeatherGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural Resources* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesOrthodox Church* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 4, 2015 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Back in 1991, the proportion of US prime-age men who were neither in work nor looking for it was just 7 per cent. Thus the proportion of vanished would-be workers has risen by 5 percentage points since then. In the UK, the proportion of prime-aged men out of the labour force has risen only from 6 per cent to 8 per cent over this period. In France, it has gone from 5 to 7 per cent. So supposedly sclerotic French labour markets have done a better job of keeping prime-aged males in the labour force than flexible US ones. Moreover, male participation rates have been declining in the US since shortly after the second world war.

What has been happening to participation of prime-aged women is no less striking. In the US, female labour force participation rose strongly until 2000, when it was among the leaders. The US is the only G7 country to experience a sustained decline in the participation rate for prime-aged females since then. Japan, once far behind, has caught up....

The relentless decline in the proportion of prime-aged US adults in the labour market indicates a significant dysfunction. It deserves attention and analysis. But it also merits action.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe U.S. GovernmentFederal ReservePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 4, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For the student at the center of the federal complaint and all other transgender students at the district's five high schools, the staff changes their names, genders and pronouns on school records. Transgender students also are allowed to use the bathrooms of their identified gender and play on the sports team of that gender, school officials said.

But officials drew the line at the locker room, citing the privacy rights of the other 12,000-plus students in the district. As a compromise, the district installed four privacy curtains in unused areas of the locker room and another one around the shower, but because the district would compel the student to use them, federal officials deemed the solution insufficient.

The dispute highlights a controversy that a growing number of school districts face as they struggle with an issue that few parents of today's teens encountered. The Department of Education has settled two similar allegations of discrimination of transgender students in California, with both districts eventually agreeing to allow the students to use female-designated facilities.

Read it allfrom the Chicago Tribune.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilySports* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted November 3, 2015 at 3:51 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Record numbers of Syrian, Iraqi, and North African migrants have been flooding into Europe, generating a massive humanitarian crisis. Host Bob Abernethy and managing editor Kim Lawton talk with Sean Callahan, chief operating officer of Catholic Relief Services, about how faith-based groups are trying help the refugees and what the US can do to address the crisis. Says Callahan, “What we would like to do is see, at the call of Pope Francis, that we all open our doors a little bit more, and we expedite the process. Currently for the refugees to get in it takes about 18 to 24 months for them to be reviewed, and we’d like to expedite that, because these families are in tragic situations and really need to move quick.”

Reador watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchCharities/Non-Profit OrganizationsLaw & Legal IssuesPovertyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 27, 2015 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Julie Lythcott-Haims noticed a disturbing trend during her decade as a dean of freshmen at Stanford University. Incoming students were brilliant and accomplished and virtually flawless, on paper. But with each year, more of them seemed incapable of taking care of themselves.

At the same time, parents were becoming more and more involved in their children’s lives. They talked to their children multiple times a day and swooped in to personally intervene anytime something difficult happened.

From her position at one of the world’s most prestigious schools, Lythcott-Haims came to believe that mothers and fathers in affluent communities have been hobbling their children by trying so hard to make sure they succeed, and by working so diligently to protect them from disappointment and failure and hardship.

Read it all from the Washington Post.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychologyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 18, 2015 at 3:58 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Church leaders have expressed their anger at the government for denying them a say over new Sunday trading laws, in a major clash between ministers and bishops.
Senior aides to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, protested to ministers that the Church was not properly consulted before George Osborne announced plans to allow shops to open for longer on Sundays.

The Church of England now fears the government will attempt this week to sneak the new law through Parliament without it being scrutinised properly by the Anglican bishops who sit in the House of Lords.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted October 18, 2015 at 7:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S. Department of Justice has established a new office to coordinate investigations into homegrown attacks, something civil rights advocates say is a partial response to Dylann Roof and the mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church.

“It very likely took the Charleston massacre to make this a reality,” said Mark Potok, spokesman for the Southern Poverty Law Center, of the newly created position of Domestic Terrorism Counsel.

Potok said that for much of the past decade, the focus of federal law enforcement has been on foreign terror threats, such as al-Qaida and ISIS. The Justice Department’s move this week represents a return of focus onto warnings that rise at home.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 17, 2015 at 4:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Charleston, New Orleans, Miami and other low-lying cities will be mostly under water by the end of this century unless global carbon emissions are dramatically reduced soon, a new study says.

Published [this past] Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study found that carbon emissions already have locked in at least 5 feet of sea rise by 2100.

But without drastic cuts in emissions, seas could eventually rise by 20 feet or more, the study found. Such an increase would affect at least 20 million coastal residents. Coastal South Carolina, Florida and Louisiana would be particularly hard hit.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryScience & TechnologyUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural Resources* South Carolina

0 Comments
Posted October 16, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England should ask the Government to find more money to support listed churches and cathedrals, a report has recommended.

The Church Buildings Review Group, which was set up under the Reform and Renewal programme earlier this year, and chaired by the Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge, set out the proposal in a report released on Tuesday.

Although the report noted "conspicuous success" in recent years in securing state funds for church buildings, it urged the C of E and the Government to find new ways of funnelling money into maintaining the 16,000 churches under the Church’s care.

"By European standards, the Church of England bears an unusually heavy financial burden of maintaining part of the nation’s built heritage," the report says.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 16, 2015 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Oil is the black gold that funds Isis’ black flag — it fuels its war machine, provides electricity and gives the fanatical jihadis critical leverage against their neighbours.
But more than a year after US President Barack Obama launched an international coalition to fight Isis, the bustling trade at al-Omar and at least eight other fields has come to symbolise the dilemma the campaign faces: how to bring down the “caliphate” without destabilising the life of the estimated 10m civilians in areas under Isis control, and punishing the west’s allies?
The resilience of Isis, and the weakness of the US-led campaign, have given Russia a pretext to launch its own, bold intervention in Syria.


Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 14, 2015 at 5:27 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As part of its Reform and Renewal programme, which was debated in the General Synod in February, the Church of England has today published a report and launched a consultation on proposals to improve the support for its 16,000 church buildings.

The report comes from the Church Buildings review group, which was chaired by the Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Revd Dr John Inge. It constitutes the first attempt in many years to undertake a comprehensive review of the Church of England's stewardship of its church buildings and includes a wide range of statistics, a substantial theological reflection and a survey of various initiatives being taken in individual dioceses. The report goes on to identify a number of principles that should shape the Church's approach and makes some specific recommendations.

The review notes that more than three quarters of the Church of England's churches are listed, and the Church of England is responsible for nearly half of the grade I listed buildings in England. More than half of churches are in rural areas (where 17% of the population lives) and more than 90% of these are listed.

Read it all and follow the link to the full report.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchArchitectureArtHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 13, 2015 at 4:22 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church Commissioners for England has announced that it has signed the PRI Montreal Pledge, an initiative that commits signatories to measuring and publicly disclosing the carbon footprint of their equity portfolio each year.

The Pledge was launched last year in Montreal during the annual conference of the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), which the Commissioners signed up to in 2010, and is also supported by the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI). It aims to attract commitment from portfolios totalling US$3 trillion in time for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 21) in December 2015. At present, nearly 100 organisations representing over US$8 trillion have signed the pledge.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock MarketEnergy, Natural Resources* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 13, 2015 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the spring, Aeterna Zentaris announced the transfer of its library of 100,000 drug compounds to the Medical University of South Carolina in a collaborative venture it hopes will lead to new treatments.

MUSC can make that available to researchers within the University of South Carolina system. It also will own any therapeutic compounds it discovers outside of the company’s areas of interest.

Under the agreement, MUSC will try to provide Aeterna Zentaris with at least 10 development candidates over 10 years starting in 2018. The company also will get the rights to license any of those ideas.

Read it all from the local paper.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Canada* South Carolina

0 Comments
Posted October 13, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

underscoring the incredible momentum to legalize marijuana is the misconception that the drug can’t hurt anybody. It can, especially young people.

The myth that marijuana is not habit-forming is constantly challenged by physicians. “There’s no question at all that marijuana is addictive,” Dr. Sharon Levy tells me. She is the director of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, one of a few programs designed to preemptively identify substance use problems in teens. At least 1 in 11 young adults who begin smoking will develop an addiction to marijuana, even more among those who use the more potent products that are entering the market.

Levy speaks of an 18-year-old patient who had started smoking marijuana several times a day in 10th grade, dropped out of high school, and been stealing money from her parents. “She and her family were at their wits’ end trying to find appropriate treatment in a health care system that doesn’t consider addiction to marijuana a serious problem,” Levy says. “We are simply not prepared for the fallout of marijuana legalization.”

Read it all.

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

2 Comments
Posted October 13, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A college degree practically stamped Andres Aguirre’s ticket to the middle class. Yet at age 40, he’s still paying the price of admission.

After a decade of repayments, Aguirre still diverts $512 a month to loans and owes $20,000.

The expense requires his family to rent an apartment in Campbell, Calif., because buying a home in a decent school district would cost too much. His daughter has excelled in high school, but Aguirre has urged her to attend community college to avoid the debt that ensnared him.

“I didn’t get the warmest reception on that,” he said. “But she understands the choice.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationMarriage & FamilyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingHousing/Real Estate MarketPersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 12, 2015 at 12:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Wall Street’s biggest banks are beginning to build their defences against downturns, signalling an end to the steady thinning of reserves that has helped boost profits in the past five years.

Tapping into reserves set aside for bad loans has become a reliable source of income for the banks in the post-crisis environment, allowing them to offset the effects of weak demand and ultra-low interest rates. Regulators let lenders dip into reserves in this way if they can argue that an improving outlook makes losses less likely.


But the practice is expected to have a limited impact on the banks’ third-quarter profits, which begin to be presented this week, because reserves have been run down about as far as they can go.

While some banks with plump cushions of reserves could still make net reductions, others are at an “inflection point,” said Jennifer Thompson, an analyst at Portales Partners in New York. Lenders with big exposures to energy could see “dramatic” increases in reserves, she said, while related sectors such as materials, commodities and industrials also look vulnerable to rises.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted October 11, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Clergy are being urged to talk about funeral costs during their pastoral visits to grieving families, to help people avoid getting into debt paying for a good send-off for their loved one.

In the past ten years, prices have soared by 80 per cent. The average cost of a funeral in the UK is now £8427.

Last year alone, the cost of dying rose seven times faster than the cost of living, and funeral services were the top transaction on credit cards in 2013.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* TheologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 11, 2015 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The building towers over its sprawling parking lot, its windowless slabs of off-white concrete giving it the authoritative look of a government building. People of all ages trickle into the building seven days a week, sometimes in large crowds. Outside the six floors of the main structure are a number of signs guiding visitors to other parts of the surrounding campus,
including a satellite building and a large courtyard. But this isn’t any kind of government, school or office building — it’s Raleigh’s Providence Baptist Church, one of many megachurches in the Triangle. Findings from the Hartford Institute for Religion Research show these churches attract younger participants to their congregations — more so than many other, smaller churches. That includes college students, who tend to drop out of church for at least part of their college careers, research says.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

0 Comments
Posted October 11, 2015 at 1:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Florida congregation has successfully won the right to build a church in a Jacksonville Beach neighborhood despite objections from local residents and an attempt by the city to prevent construction.

Church of Our Savior, a congregation affiliated with the Anglican Church in North America, will soon build a church in Jacksonville Beach, thanks to a settlement reached earlier this week with city officials.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketPolitics in GeneralCity Government

0 Comments
Posted October 11, 2015 at 1:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hypochondria among Americans may be jeopardising the development of new medicines, as a study reveals that the placebo effect is becoming worryingly powerful in the US.

Huge American drugs trials are increasingly foundering on the unexplained scientific phenomenon, which does not appear to be happening anywhere else in the world.

The findings leave US drugs companies with a serious dilemma. As the difference between receiving a new painkiller and simply thinking that you are receiving a new painkiller evaporates, it is becoming ever harder to tell whether the drug works or not.

This may explain why more than nine out of ten new pain-relief drugs fail at the testing stage.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & MedicinePsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 10, 2015 at 12:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Thank you for reading this article on the Internet.

E-mail the author here! Buy my book here!

Click here to add me to your professional network on LinkedIn.

I invite you to subscribe to my RSS feed.

I also invite you to sign up for my twice-daily e-mail newsletter, The PS, a free, twice-daily distillation of news and views on everything under the sun, delivered fresh to your mailbox every six to eight hours.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* General InterestHumor / Trivia* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 9, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The rooms in the intensive care unit are filled with folded-up walkers and moving boxes. In the lobby, plaques and portraits have been taken off the wall. By this weekend, the last patients will be discharged and Mercy Hospital Independence will close, joining dozens of rural hospitals around the country that have not been able to withstand the financial and demographic challenges buffeting them.

The hospital and its outpatient clinics, owned by the Mercy health care system in St. Louis, was where people in this city of 9,000 turned for everything from sore throats to emergency treatment after a car crash. Now, many say they are worried about what losing Mercy will mean not just for their own health, but for their community’s future.

Mercy will be the 58th rural hospital to close in the United States since 2010, according to one research program, and many more could soon join the list because of declining reimbursements, growing regulatory burdens and shrinking rural populations that result in an older, sicker pool of patients. The closings have accelerated over the last few years and have hit more midsize hospitals like Mercy, which was licensed for 75 beds, than smaller “critical access” hospitals, which are reimbursed at a higher rate by Medicare.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

1 Comments
Posted October 9, 2015 at 12:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Church on the corner of London’s tech hub is starting to build links with the industry. St John’s, Hoxton, is close to Old Street roundabout, often nicknamed Silicon Roundabout because of the proliferation of start-ups and technology firms in the area.

The Vicar, the Revd Graham Hunter, said that he had begun to try to bring Christian technologists together two years ago. “Being in Hoxton, and having Silicon Roundabout and Shoreditch right on the doorstep, I had this sense we needed to engage with that sector,” Mr Hunter said on Wednesday.

In 2013, he met two Christians who worked in the industry, and they began using St John’s to host a fortnightly gathering, Tech City Christians. “They wanted to network, and also pray for each other, and support one another in living out their faith in this sector; getting people to share their stories about what’s going well, and what their struggles are.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 9, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At the agency, “I was fascinated by the creative guys,” he said, especially the copywriters. While there was a lot of interesting characters to be seen at such a firm, there were less savoury aspects of the job that he, as a Christian, had to learn to contend with.
“I went to the cathedral at the time,” he remembered. “I was the only person in the agency who went to church…I was always perplexed by people my age who had no ethical qualms about how we did our business and who we represented.”
Around this time, the United Church of Canada was taking part in a boycott of Nestle, the chocolate maker, for their role in milk formula sales to Third World countries. Nestle was one of his clients and a friend asked a co-worker of his, “ “‘Doesn’t that bother you?’ She said, ‘No, this was business.’”
He began to question his direction in life, wondering: “Maybe it’s not possible to live in this world and be a Christian.” (He now believes it is so.)
It was at this time that “God moved me to look somewhere else.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryCanada

0 Comments
Posted October 8, 2015 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Short on savings? You're not alone.

Twenty-eight percent of Americans have nothing in their savings accounts and another 21 percent don't even have a savings account, according to a new survey from GOBankingRates.

The rate comparison website surveyed 5,000 people and found just 29 percent of them had $1,000 or more in savings account.

Read it all.

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

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Posted October 7, 2015 at 12:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A few months before 9/11, when I first moved to downtown Los Angeles, the city’s high rises teemed with lawyers and bankers. The lights stayed on late — a beacon of industriousness. But as I quickly discovered, they rolled up the sidewalks by sundown. No matter how productive and wealthy its workers, downtown was a ghost town. LA’s urban core was no place to raise a family or own a home. With its patchwork of one-way streets and expensive lots, it was hardly even a place to own a car. The boom of the late 1980s and early 1990s that had erected LA’s skyline had not fueled residential growth. Angelenos who wanted to chase the dream of property ownership were effectively chased out of downtown.

But things change. Last month, I moved back to “DTLA,” as it’s now affectionately known. Today, once-forlorn corners boast shiny new bars, restaurants, and high-end stores. The streets are full of foot traffic, fueled by new generations of artisans, artists, and knowledge workers. They work from cafés or rented apartments, attend parties on hotel rooftops, and Uber religiously through town. Yes, there are plenty of dogs. But there are babies and children too. In a little over a decade, downtown’s generational turnover has replaced a faltering economy with a dynamic one.

What happened? Partly, it’s a tale of the magnetic power possessed by entrepreneurs and developers, who often alone enjoy enough social capital to draw friends and associates into risky areas that aren’t yet trendy. Even more, it is a story that is playing out across the country. In an age when ownership meant everything, downtown Los Angeles languished. Today, current tastes and modern technology have made access, not ownership, culturally all-important, and LA’s “historic core” is the hottest neighborhood around. Likewise, from flashy metros like San Francisco to beleaguered cities like Pittsburgh, rising generations are driving economic growth by paying to access experiences instead of buying to own.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 6, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a landmark ruling, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg on Monday declared the Safe Harbor data-sharing deal as invalid.

The agreement, signed in 2000 between Brussels and Washington, enables companies and international networks to easily transfer personal data to the United States without having to seek prior approval, a potentially lengthy and costly process.

"The Court of Justice declares that the (European) Commission's US Safe Harbour Decision is invalid," it said in a decision on a case brought against Facebook by Austrian law student Max Schrems.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 6, 2015 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The eight-hour workday hasn't changed much since Henry Ford first experimented with it for factory workers. Now, Americans work slightly longer—an average 8.7 hours—though more time goes into email, meetings, and Facebook than whatever our official job duties actually are. Is it time to rethink how many hours we spend at the office?

In Sweden, the six-hour workday is becoming common.

"I think the eight-hour workday is not as effective as one would think," says Linus Feldt, CEO of Stockholm-based app developer Filimundus. "To stay focused on a specific work task for eight hours is a huge challenge. . . . In order to cope, we mix in things and pauses to make the workday more endurable. At the same time, we are having it hard to manage our private life outside of work. We want to spend more time with our families, we want to learn new things or exercise more. I wanted to see if there could be a way to mix these things."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineHistoryPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEuropeSweden* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 5, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The World Bank has said that for the first time less than 10% of the world's population will be living in extreme poverty by the end of 2015.
The bank said it was using a new income figure of $1.90 per day to define extreme poverty, up from $1.25.
It forecasts the proportion of the world's population in this category to fall from 12.8% in 2012 to 9.6%.
However, it said the "growing concentration of global poverty in sub-Saharan Africa is of great concern".

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationPoverty* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance

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Posted October 5, 2015 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Budweiser, three of the largest World Cup sponsors, are demanding that Sepp Blatter step down immediately from his presidency of Fifa, a week after he personally became the subject of a criminal investigation into a corruption scandal that has engulfed the organisation.

Visa, another important sponsor, also joined the call for Mr Blatter to fall on his sword. But the defiant head of Fifa pushed back in a statement through his lawyer, refusing to heed the companies whose deals with Fifa contributed to more than $1.6bn in sponsorship revenue for the body between 2011-14, according to consultancy IEG.

The demands from Coke, McDonald’s and Budweiser’s owner Anheuser-Busch InBev are the strongest yet. All three have urged Fifa to make swift progress in cleaning itself up but to date they had not called outright for Mr Blatter’s resignation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationSports* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 3, 2015 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I did know that the whole student body had been summoned to the auditorium—and I was one of a few people who knew why. All morning long I’d known what was coming, much as I would have liked to stay in the dark. I got a tip the day before that Sweet Briar’s board had determined the college’s financial challenges to be insurmountable. I knew the board had voted to close the school, effective at the end of the semester. I knew that the students and staff whose names I was just learning were on the brink of having their world torn apart. And I knew that I was the chaplain, and that I was going to have to watch it happen.

During lunchtime, while the president delivered the fatal news to the faculty and staff, I attended the regular meeting of students working for the Office of Spiritual Life. My secret charge was to gather as many as possible into the auditorium for the chance to hear the news directly from the president, before it hit Twitter with explosive force. But as we walked up the hill to the auditorium, my phone was already lighting up. A friend at a nearby college forwarded her own faculty announcement: “Is this for real? What’s going on out there?” I responded with brevity bordering on hostility, typing as I walked: “Students don’t know yet. We need ten minutes. Stay off Facebook.”

The assembly was brutal. I sat with a few friendly students but could hardly engage, knowing what I knew and they didn’t. I stared at my phone, waiting for social media to beat the president to his own job. The sound system wasn’t working, and we waited for an eternity of troubleshooting. And then there was no more time, and the president came out and spoke without a mic, projecting his voice. He said he wanted to get right to the point. He said it broke his heart to be there. Then he said Sweet Briar would close its doors. The class of 2015 would be the last graduating class.

And then the whole auditorium burst into tears.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchEducationPsychologyReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomy* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 2, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Those of you who are shortly going to be commissioned as Church Credit Champions have heard God’s call, as the whole church has in recent years, to be a church of the poor for the poor; to seek justice and the common good for all in our society.

You have set up credit union access points in your churches, brought new people onto the boards of local credit unions, supported people struggling with debt through signposting them to debt advice resources.

You have seen the need, and you have met it with love, grace and hope.

We all know that the Christian relationship with money is, at best, slightly ambivalent. We recognise when it’s got the wrong place, but we find it quite hard to find the right place.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 1, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The church has heard a fresh call to be “a church of the poor for the poor” in recent years, the Archbishop of Canterbury said last night as he commissioned volunteers to help churches engage with issues of credit and debt in their communities.

Speaking during a special service at St George-in-the-East in Shadwell, London, the Archbishop told more than 50 volunteers – who have taken part in a pilot scheme in London, Southwark and Liverpool dioceses – that they had “seen the need, and met it with love, grace and hope.”

The first phase of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Church Credit Champions Network is on course to secure benefits worth over £2million for local communities.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I would put it this way: corruption involves, not restriction of voice in general, but its illegitimate restriction, defined in terms of the rules of a given game. When those rules are established and accepted, then the issue of “voice” becomes less problematic: bowling clubs are not acting illegitimately when they restrict their membership to bowlers, rather than opening it up to ping-pong players. Similarly, churches are not acting illegitimately, and therefore are not restricting voice, when they limit ordination to baptized and believing Christians. Thus, the inevitable question of whether “orthodoxy” should restrict the voices of the “unorthodox” must be answered as both “yes” and “no.” “Yes,” if this restriction is built into the canonical structures of the church in question; “no”, if these restrictions derive from structures that are extra-canonically constrained by manipulations of influence. For when there is canonical space for diverse embodiments of, e.g. theological positions in a church, as in both “evangelical” and “catholic” views within the older Anglican ecclesial structures, engaging the Influence Market in a way that restricts those voices becomes a matter of corruption.

This can arguably be shown with the Episcopal Church (TEC): what was once a relatively theologically diverse church, within the limits of its formularies, has become one of the most theologically monochromatic churches in America. This has happened through the ever more deeply engaged Influence Market. On the one hand, there has been nothing “illegal” about the outworking of that market: bishops can ordain whom they wish and appointments can be made according to personal preferences of those in power. But the end result of caving into, let alone deliberately manipulating, these dynamics is corruption, and on two scores.

First, through the suppression of legitimate voices in the Church, it is inevitable that the truth — in this case, the truth of the Gospel — suffers, simply for lack of adequately trained hearts and minds to engage that truth. More corruption follows, through the perversion of critical Christian inquiry. Second, when Influence Markets such as TEC’s are moving ahead at full steam, it is inevitable that more concrete and classical acts of corruption take place: misuse of funds and misuse of canons (the church’s legal process). In an institution where everybody is “on the same side” (because there are few left on any other side), no one wishes to hurt their “friends” by raising questions. This has happened on a number of fronts in TEC in matters involving the national budget (e.g. misusing trust funds to balance the bottom line), discipline (manipulating canons to silence dissenting voices), and the legislative process (not following canonical procedures at General Convention). It represents a matter of corruption, at least in Johnston’s paradigm, where the “legal” Influence Market has finally given way to quite “illegal” activities.

Read it all from the Living Church's Covenant blog (emphasis his).

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: Analysis* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 30, 2015 at 4:54 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Anti-access/area denial, or A2/AD, is a growing problem,” Gen. Philip Breedlove, supreme allied commander Europe and commander of U.S. European Command, told an audience in Washington on Monday. Kaliningrad has given Moscow the ability to better defend the Baltic, while the annexation of Crimea has done the same on the Black Sea, he said.

“The geography of Europe has changed” since the end of the Cold War, Benitez said. “The geography of NATO has changed. In the Cold War NATO’s borders were in the center of the continent, but now the front lines are the Baltics, and you’re drawn to that small land bridge [near Suwalki].”

“The Russians have chosen to make this the new zone of friction, that’s where you’re seeing the air provocations,” such as Russian warplanes flying with transponders off, said Benitez.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.EuropeRussiaUkraine* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 30, 2015 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A poll by Populus for ACS, undertaken online among 1,864 adults in England and Wales on 2-3 September 2015, revealed that a majority (58%) of the public still thinks that Sunday is different from the rest of the week, 61% because it is a shared time with family and friends, and 58% because it is a day of relaxation. Two-thirds (67%) supported the current legislation permitting large stores to open up to six hours on Sundays while 23% opposed it, presumably because they thought it was either too strict or too liberal. Three-fifths agreed that the existing laws provide sufficient opportunities to shop on Sundays (with just 12% dissenting) and a similar proportion felt that, if the laws were relaxed, shop staff would be forced to work longer and their family life would suffer. At the same time, 25% agreed that the present legislation is not convenient for people like themselves and a plurality of 42% that it constrains customers’ choice when they can go shopping. Sunday trading is one of those topics where the outcome of surveys can be radically different dependent upon the question-wording and context.

An online survey by Research Insight for ACS of 70 local authority chief executives in England and Wales between 6 August and 4 September 2015 found that 64% were likely to support deregulation in some form in their own local authority, typically in an out-of-town location. However, 64% were concerned that having different Sunday trading regulations within their local authority would cause confusion for consumers and 69% that it would displace trade from some zones to others.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSociology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 30, 2015 at 8:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The US State Department is seeking a counter-narrative to the propaganda being spread by ISIL, and it is reportedly turning to some of America’s preeminent storytellers for help. According to The Daily Beast, executives from both HBO and Snapchat are part of a team of filmmakers and social media specialists that’s brainstorming how to hamper the effectiveness of ISIL’s messaging.

Citing unnamed industry and government sources, The Daily Beast reports that HBO and Snapchat representatives were invited to Sunnylands, a California retreat known for hosting important government figures, in June to meet with State Department officials on how best to counter the ISIL narrative, which has lured young men from the Middle East, Europe, and even the United States, to join its violent ranks. Mark Boal, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of Zero Dark Thirty, is reportedly part of the team assisting the State Department.

Neither HBO nor Snapchat have responded to requests for comment. The State Department, in a statement to Quartz, neither confirmed nor denied the Daily Beast report but noted that film “is an especially powerful medium for building cross-cultural understanding” of world issues.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationMediaReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Private equity and hedge fund firms have bought more than 100,000 troubled mortgages at a discount from banks and federal housing agencies, emerging as aggressive liquidators for the remains of the mortgage crisis that erupted nearly a decade ago.

As the housing market nationwide recovers, this is a dark corner from which banks, stung by hefty penalties for bungling mortgage modifications and foreclosures, have retreated. Federal housing officials, for the most part, have welcomed the new financial players as being more nimble and creative than banks with terms for delinquent borrowers.

But the firms are now drawing fire. Housing advocates and lawyers for borrowers contend that the private equity firms and hedge funds are too quick to push homes into foreclosure and are even less helpful than the banks had been in negotiating loan modifications with borrowers. Federal and state lawmakers are taking up the issue, questioning why federal agencies are selling loans at a discount of as much as 30 percent to such firms.

Read it all from the front page of today's New York Times.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceStock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. Government* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 29, 2015 at 2:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sir Hector Sants is calling upon the wealthy to lend to credit unions and help run co-operatives in an attempt to raise their profile and fill the vast gap left by the shrinking payday lending sector.

The former chief executive of the City watchdog was appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury last year to lead the Church of England’s task force on credit unions, but said they need greater support to help borrowers seeking short-term loans.

In an interview with FT Money, Sir Hector said: “Join a credit union — it doesn’t have to be your sole bank — and deposit money, which can then be lent out. There are often good terms if you need a loan.”

Read it all from the FT.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchPovertyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted September 29, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Heh.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingHistoryScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* General InterestHumor / Trivia* TheologyEschatology

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Posted September 28, 2015 at 7:24 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After the Obergefell decision, Time magazine writer Mark Oppenheimer was quick to declare that the state should “abolish, or greatly diminish” property tax exemptions for churches that “dissent from settled public policy on matters of race or sexuality.”

Punishing “dissent” seems a strange new role for the American government. In the mid-twentieth century, the Catholic church was a leading advocate against anti-miscegenation laws. The church was able to take a stand contrary to the state on marriage and not be penalized for it, a position now almost unquestionably supported by Americans. And despite the confidence of those like Oppenheimer, the dissenters aren’t even a minority in the more recent marriage controversy. Most Americans favor religious liberty, and a plurality oppose Obergefell.

Allowing conscientious objection is an acknowledgment that the state does not have all the answers. The state has an obligation to make laws, but the state has no obligation to be correct. The independent voices that critique the state make the state better, and should not be silenced. Lose churches, lose the independent voices that prevent the state from having an absolute say in complicated moral matters.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesPolitics in GeneralSupreme Court* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 27, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After two days of denials, the Pentagon disclosed late Friday that a U.S.-trained and equipped proxy force in Syria had turned over some of its supplied weapons to an Al Qaeda affiliate.

U.S. officials said rebels told them a commander of a group of trained fighters gave six pickup trucks with mounted machine guns and a portion of their ammunition, or about 25% of their issued equipment, to Al Nusra Front in exchange for safe passage within their operating area in northern Syria.

The information "is very concerning and a violation of Syria train and equip program guidelines,” said Col. Patrick Ryder, spokesman of U.S. Central Command, which oversees the military effort in the Middle East.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 26, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Since the financial crisis of 2007-08, which Western leader could boast of spreading ownership in any important way? In the U.S. and Britain, the percentage of citizens owning stocks or houses is well down from the late 1980s. In Britain, the average age for buying a first home is now 31 (and many more people than before depend on “the bank of Mom and Dad” to help them do so). In the mid-’80s, it was 27. My own children, who started work in London in the last two years, earn a little less, in real terms, than I did when I began in 1979, yet house prices are 15 times higher. We have become a society of “have lesses,” if not yet of “have nots.”

In a few lines of work, earnings have shot forward. In 1982, only seven U.K. financial executives were receiving six-figure salaries. Today, tens of thousands are (an enormous increase, even allowing for inflation). The situation is very different for the middle-ranking civil servant, attorney, doctor, teacher or small-business owner. Many middle-class families now depend absolutely on the income of both parents in a way that was unusual even as late as the 1980s.

In Britain and the U.S., we are learning all over again that it is not the natural condition of the human race for children to be better off than their parents. Such a regression, in societies that assume constant progress, is striking. Imagine the panic if the same thing happened to life expectancy.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePensionsTaxesThe U.S. GovernmentFederal ReserveForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 26, 2015 at 9:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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