Posted by Kendall Harmon

This week, as Jews celebrate the Passover holiday, they are commemorating the Bible's Exodus story describing a series of plagues inflicted on ancient Egypt that freed the Israelites, allowing them to make their way to the Holy Land. But over the past century, another exodus, driven by a plague of persecution, has swept across the Middle East and is emptying the region of its Christian population. The persecution is especially virulent today.

The Middle East may be the birthplace of three monotheistic religions, but some Arab nations appear bent on making it the burial ground for one of them. For 2,000 years, Christian communities dotted the region, enriching the Arab world with literature, culture and commerce. At the turn of the 20th century, Christians made up 26% of the Middle East's population. Today, that figure has dwindled to less than 10%. Intolerant and extremist governments are driving away the Christian communities that have lived in the Middle East since their faith was born.

In the rubble of Syrian cities like Aleppo and Damascus, Christians who refused to convert to Islam have been kidnapped, shot and beheaded by Islamist opposition fighters. In Egypt, mobs of Muslim Brotherhood members burn Coptic Christian churches in the same way they once obliterated Jewish synagogues. And in Iraq, terrorists deliberately target Christian worshippers. This past Christmas, 26 people were killed when a bomb ripped through a crowd of worshipers leaving a church in Baghdad's southern Dora neighborhood.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relationsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 17, 2014 at 3:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Social scientists have learned you can't always believe what people tell you. An analysis of 3 places in the Muslim world examines whether peoples' reports of religious behavior match what they do.

Read or listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureSociology* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted April 13, 2014 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"The Drop Box" - Documentary Trailer from Arbella Studios on Vimeo.



Worth every second of the three minutes of your time it takes to watch--touching, heart-rending, and encouraging--KSH.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaSouth Korea* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

2 Comments
Posted April 12, 2014 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The final evening of Jack Chen’s life was indistinguishable from many others. The sophomore returned home from school, ate dinner with his mother and retired to his room. His mother asked him to turn out his light at midnight.

Inside his bedroom, anguish gnawed at him, a darkness invisible to friends and family: He maintained a 4.3 grade-point average at one of the area’s top high schools, was a captain of the junior varsity football team and had never tried drugs or alcohol.

But that hidden pain drove Jack from his Fairfax Station home early the next morning — Wednesday, Feb. 26. The 15-year-old, who pestered his father to quit smoking and wear his safety belt, walked to nearby tracks and stepped between the rails as a commuter train approached.

His death is one of six apparent suicides at Fairfax’s W.T. Woodson High School during the past three years, including another student found dead the next day. The toll has left the school community reeling and prompted an urgent question: Why would so many teens from a single suburban school take their lives?

Read it all from the Washington Post.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHealth & MedicinePsychologySuicideTeens / YouthViolence* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted April 12, 2014 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jeff Bauman knows the exact moment his life was changed forever. It was the moment he looked Boston Bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev in the face.

“He just seemed out of place,” said Bauman in his most recent interview with Brian Williams. “Everybody there was having fun, you know, clapping, taking pictures, and he was just standing there with a backpack ... he just looked really odd. So I looked at him and I stared at him.”

And then, in an instant: a flash, and what sounded like a pop, and he was lying flat on his back.

Watch and/or read it all from NBC.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPsychologyUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted April 11, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Three months after a state judge issued a scathing report on the treatment of mentally ill prisoners, a national report is reaching a similar conclusion.

A report by the Treatment Advocacy Center and the National Sheriff’s Association issued Thursday ranks South Carolina “near the bottom” in the treatment of mentally ill inmates.

The report found the state ranked near the bottom in the availability of public psychiatric beds, efforts to divert mentally ill from imprisonment, per capita spending on mental health “and almost every other measure of treatment for mentally ill individuals.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePrison/Prison MinistryPsychologyMental Illness* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* South Carolina

2 Comments
Posted April 11, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Emma Pierson studied “studied 1 million matches made by the online dating website eHarmony’s algorithm, which aims to pair people who will be attracted to one another and compatible over the long term; if the people agree, they can message each other to set up a meeting in real life. eHarmony’s data on its users contains 102 traits for each person — everything from how passionate and ambitious they claim to be to how much they say they drink, smoke and earn.”

She found that the old adage about opposites and attraction doesn’t hold...

Read it all.

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

2 Comments
Posted April 10, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As many congregations have already split within mainline Protestantism, Northern Seminary professor Scot McKnight said that in 25 years, he suspects evangelical churches will be split on the issue.

“What has happened is that the same-sex marriage/same-sex legitimacy has become the focal point or scapegoat of the culture wars,” McKnight said. “It is Bible, theology and politics all rolled into one big monster.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted April 10, 2014 at 11:19 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I appreciate the spirit (if you will) of... [Barbara Ehrenreich's] argument, but I am very doubtful as to its application. The trouble is that in its current state, cognitive science has a great deal of difficulty explaining “what happens” when “those wires connect” for non-numinous experience, which is why mysterian views of consciousness remain so potent even among thinkers whose fundamental commitments are atheistic and materialistic. (I’m going to link to the internet’s sharpest far-left scold for a good recent polemic on this front.) That is to say, even in contexts where it’s very easy to identify the physical correlative to a given mental state, and to get the kind of basic repeatability that the scientific method requires — show someone an apple, ask them to describe it; tell them to bite into it, ask them to describe the taste; etc. — there is no kind of scientific or philosophical agreement on what is actually happening to produce the conscious experience of the color “red,” the conscious experience of the crisp McIntosh taste, etc. So if we can’t say how this ”normal” conscious experience works, even when we can easily identify the physical stimulii that produce it, it seems exponentially harder to scientifically investigate the invisible, maybe-they-exist and maybe-they-don’t stimulii — be they divine, alien, or panpsychic — that Ehrenreich hypothesizes might produce more exotic forms of conscious experience.

Especially since, by definition, the truly exotic is not likely to repeat itself for the convenience of a laboratory technician. There are kinds of numinous experience that can be technically investigated, in the limited sense that Ehrenreich (rightly) suggests is insufficient to understanding them — you can put a praying or meditating person in a brain scanner and see which areas of their brain seem to be involved in the journey into the mystic, you can look for ways to attempt to recreate those brain states, you can link similar experiences to medical conditions and hallucinogens, etc.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropology

0 Comments
Posted April 10, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At Harvard, Updike’s freshman roommate was Christopher Lasch, who would become the author of “The Culture of Narcissism” (1979). It was a competitive, uneasy friendship. At Harvard, Updike met his first wife, Mary Pennington, to whom he would remain married for more than 20 years. It was their social set in Ipswich, Mass. — the cocktails, the games, the gamboling adultery — that he would describe so lovingly and so wickedly, deploying the full sensorium of his prose, in “Couples” (1968) and in so many short stories.

That Updike had affairs, sometimes with his friends’ wives, is not news. “I drank up women’s tears and spat them out,” he declared in one late poem, “as 10-point Janson, Roman and ital.” Mr. Begley charts some of the details while naming few names, in order, he says, to respect privacy and promote candor.

“It was a matter of certain pride to be sleeping with John,” one friend comments. Mr. Begley suggests that Mary might have been the first in their marriage to have an affair. “Welcome to the post-pill paradise,” he wrote in “Couples....”

Read it all.

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

1 Comments
Posted April 8, 2014 at 3:54 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In Silicon Valley, where personal quirks and even antisocial personalities are tolerated as long as you are building new products and making money, a socially conservative viewpoint may be one trait you have to keep to yourself.
--The opener of a front page article from Friday saying so much more than the author thinks

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingLaw & Legal IssuesMediaPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & TechnologySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted April 7, 2014 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Note that the content is not easy here--KSH.

As you can see in the graph below, regardless of the proposed relationship type, very few women showed interest in having a threesome with two men if given the opportunity....

Men’s desires told a different story. In the casual-sex context, men leapt at the opportunity to have a threesome with two women, their desires far surpassing the midpoint of the scale. Although this desire was lower for more involved relationship categories, men’s interest in an FMF (female-male-female) threesome still hovered at or slightly below the mid-point of the scale for both dating and committed relationship partners.

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenPsychologySexualityWomen* International News & CommentaryCanada


Posted April 6, 2014 at 7:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Those pressing for change therefore need seriously to attend to these complex realities and questions even though they are not as obvious and pressing for most English Anglicans in their parishes as they are for bishops whose ministry connects them with the wider church. Those of us upholding the current teaching and discipline similarly have seriously to address the complex realities and questions we face here and now with the introduction of same-sex marriage and ask those in other parts of the Communion to understand our context as we seek to understand theirs. If we can honestly and humbly acknowledge and wrestle with these challenges then the forthcoming facilitated conversations could, rather than being a belligerent stand-off, still become fruitful dialogues where we might discern together what it means for us to love God and to love our neighbours, both near and distant.

Read it all from Fulcrum.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & PartnershipsViolence* International News & CommentaryAfricaEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted April 6, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

CS Lewis' Screwtape Letters]... musings come to mind looking at the recent inquiry into Millennials’ sexuality published by Rolling Stone; claiming to catalogue the predominant sexual attitudes and habits of my generation and reminding me of my own checkered past.

Cohabitation looks tame compared to the exploits celebrated by the magazine. The “new monogamy” is hailed as “a type of polyamory in which the goal is to have one long-standing relationship (but to) openly acknowledge that the long-standing relationship might not meet each partner’s emotional and sexual needs for all time.” This attitude is regarded as very progressive and preferable to the old-fashioned ideal of monogamy. Interestingly, William Tucker has a new book out arguing just the opposite. When the whole of human existence is taken into account, polygamy belongs squarely in the barbaric past, with monogamy arising alongside sophistication and science. But to read Rolling Stone, one would think that the new monogamy is the ground of stasis, surrounded by fringe millennials who are content with the hookup culture (29 sexual partners by age 20 in one case) or who prefer multiple partner encounters or are so sexually shy that they are addicted to internet pornography (as in the case of an unnamed computer wiz, identified as “nerdy”). The normal couple we meet at the beginning of the story closes out the action at a Las Vegas sex joint, discovering even more ways to live their sex lives to the fullest.

But all the sex, more sex and rock and roll (they even interview a band) is justified because: “at the end of the day, it’s a piece of body touching another piece of body- just as existentially meaningless as kissing.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexualityYoung Adults* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted April 5, 2014 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Dennis Schimpf was growing up the amount of photographs he appeared in were “few and far between.”

“Now kids at 9 or 10 years old are having daily pictures,” he said.

Schimpf is a plastic surgeon at Sweetgrass Plastic Surgery in Summerville, working in cosmetic surgery.

A recent study released by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) shows that there has been an increase in cosmetic procedures – and the survey finds that the selfie trend is the cause for this increase. The selfie trend refers to the action of someone taking a photo of his or herself and posting online on popular social media websites and smartphone applications such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingHealth & MedicinePsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* South Carolina

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Posted April 5, 2014 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Brendan Eich, the well-known techie who has gotten swept up in a controversy about his support of California’s anti-gay marriage law Proposition 8, is resigning as CEO of for-profit Mozilla Corporation and also from the board of the nonprofit foundation which wholly owns it.

Mozilla confirmed the change in a blog post.

“Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it. We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves,” read the post, in part. “We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act. We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better.”

Read it all. There is much more here from Reihan Salam and there from Andrew Sullivan.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

4 Comments
Posted April 3, 2014 at 4:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The cherished idea of the Twitter universe as a gloriously turbulent and fluid place for debate has taken a major hit, thanks to new research from China.

At the same time, findings from the United States have demolished another plank of common wisdom about digital communications. There is, it turns out, no relationship at all between the number of times an online article is shared and the number of times it is actually read.

In a paper published in March, two Chinese social scientists, Fei Xiong and Yun Liu, of Jiaotong University in Beijing, revealed unexpected results from an in-depth study into how opinions form on social media.

The pair analysed 6 million posts from almost 2.5 million Twitter users during a six-month period. In looking at how Twitter users are influenced by the thoughts of other micro-bloggers, the researchers came to what they termed a ''non-trivial'' conclusion, meaning, pretty much, they aren't.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted April 3, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The shooting was the third major gun attack at a U.S. military installation in five years, leaving the nation grappling with the prospect of yet more flag-draped funerals for troops killed on the homefront. A government contractor went on a shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard in September, leaving 12 people dead. In 2009, Army Maj. Nidal M. Hasan opened fire on a group of soldiers at Fort Hood preparing to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan, killing 13 people and wounding more than 30.

Doctors at the Scott & White hospital in Temple, Tex., said Wednesday that they have treated eight of the wounded and that one more was on the way. Three of the patients were in critical condition in the ICU, and five were in serious condition. Seven of them were male, and one was female. Their injuries ranged from mild to life-threatening, a majority of them caused by single-gunshot wounds to the neck, chest and abdomen.

President Obama said he was “heartbroken that something like this might have happened again.” Speaking during a fundraising trip to Chicago, he pledged “to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMilitary / Armed ForcesPsychologyMental IllnessStressViolence* Economics, PoliticsIraq War* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted April 3, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The theism-atheism-agnosticism trio presumes that the real question is whether God exists. I’m suggesting that the real question is otherwise and that I don’t see my outlook in terms of that trio.

G.G.: So what is the real question?

H.W.: The real question is one’s relation to God, the role God plays in one’s life, the character of one’s spiritual life.

Let me explain. Religious life, at least as it is for me, does not involve anything like a well-defined, or even something on the way to becoming a well-defined, concept of God, a concept of the kind that a philosopher could live with. What is fundamental is no such thing, but rather the experience of God, for example in prayer or in life’s stunning moments. Prayer, when it works, yields an awe-infused sense of having made contact, or almost having done so. Having made contact, that is, concerning the things that matter most, whether the health and well-being of others, or of the community, or even my own; concerning justice and its frequent absence in our world; concerning my gratefulness to, or praise of, God. The experience of sharing commitments with a cosmic senior partner, sharing in the sense both of communicating and literally sharing, “dreaming in league with God,” as A.J. Heschel puts it, is both heady and heartening. Even when that partner remains undefined and untheorized.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyAnthropology

0 Comments
Posted April 2, 2014 at 3:52 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

About 35% of adult church members in Britain are single, so clearly the subject of singleness is of considerable personal interest to many people in our churches. Each single person will have a slightly different experience of singleness. There are age differences. Being single at 20 is very different from being single at 30, 40 or 70. There are circumstantial differences: some have never married, others are divorcees, widows or widowers. And there are experiential differences: some have chosen to be single and are basically content; others long to be married and feel frustrated. What does the Bible say to all these people?

So much in our society is structured around couples. It is often just assumed that adults will have a partner and that there is something rather odd about them if they do not for any period of time. Oscar Wilde summed up the view of many: “Celibacy is the only known sexual perversion.”

There is nothing new in this negative view of celibacy. In the first century, Rabbi Eleazar said: “Any man who has no wife is no proper man.” The Talmud went even further: “The man who is not married at twenty is living in sin.” Given that background, it is astonishing how positive the New Testament is about singleness. Paul speaks of it as a “gift” (1 Corinthians 7:7), and Jesus says that it is good “for those to whom it has been given” (Matthew 19:11).

A friend of mine once belonged to a church group for young adults, which had the name: “Pairs and Spares”! Single people can be made to feel like spare parts in their families, social groups and churches.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureSexualityYoung Adults* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted April 2, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Gallup Business Journal: Why has psychological injury become such a concern in the workplace?

Damian Byers, Ph.D.: Health and safety in the workplace is often looked at from a cost point of view. Psychological injury has become a well-recognized category of injury, and the rate of increase is skyrocketing. So the people who are most vociferous about managing it tend to be the finance people. And because of the risk exposure associated with any kind of injury, there's often interest from [corporate] boards as well. But they're usually interested in aggregated macro lag indicators, such as lost-time injury frequency rate or other kinds of overall incident rate indicators, not individual cases.

The problem is that boards and finance people are a long way from the day-to-day work of a line manager. Line managers don't see the cost of psychological injury, but they're accountable for it because they're accountable for team performance. And because the metrics of injury are macro lag indicators, they don't guide decisions or change behaviors for anybody. Lagging indicators don't tell people what they need to do.

What causes psychological injuries?

Dr. Byers: It's almost always [the result of] a failure of management practice and process, particularly a breakdown in the management relationship. In most of the cases that I have analyzed in the organizations that I have worked in, we're talking about bad manager-worker relationships and a well-established, unproductive, poisonous dynamic within a team. These dynamics are the result of poor people management practices and often poor people management tools and policies. The remedy there is well and truly in the hands of senior line managers.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted April 2, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As Dr. Kim Seok-Kwun begins surgery to create a functioning penis for a Buddhist monk who was born female, he is well aware of the unease his work creates in this deeply conservative country. The devout Protestant known as the "father of South Korean transgender people" once wrestled with similar feelings.

"I've decided to defy God's will," Kim, 61, said in an interview before the monk's recent successful surgery to become a man. "At first, I agonized over whether I should do these operations because I wondered if I was defying God. I was overcome with a sense of shame. But my patients desperately wanted these surgeries. Without them, they'd kill themselves."

Kim is a pioneer in slowly changing views on sexuality and gender in South Korea, where many have long considered even discussions of sexuality a taboo. He has conducted about 320 sex change operations over the past 28 years, widely believed to be the most by any single doctor in the country.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMenPsychologySexualityWomen* International News & CommentaryAsiaSouth Korea* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted April 1, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I had hoped that Church of England liturgy would come to include provisions for church blessing of civil partnerships. I fear that the precipitate and profoundly undemocratic way in which the Marriage Bill was hustled into law has set obstacles in the way of persuasive change. The Church of England will now have extreme difficulty in relating to the law on marriage.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted April 1, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church's real problem, however, is not the hypocrisy of closeted prelates. It's that so many priests are perfectly content to solemnise homosexual marriages in church and will indeed be "creative" in finding ways to do so.

How will Archbishop Justin Welby respond? "I think the church has reacted by fully accepting that it's the law, and should react on Saturday by continuing to demonstrate in word and action, the love of Christ for every human being," he told the Guardian in best Rev J C Flannel mode. Uh-huh. Oh, and there will be "structured conversations" to help resolve the problem.

Here's my prediction. As of today, pro-gay clergy will begin to unpick Cameron's "triple lock" banning parishes from holding gay weddings; during the next Parliament it will cease to exist. Priests who want to marry same-sex couples, or indeed marry their own gay lovers, will just do it. Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical parishes that reject the whole notion won't be forced to host such ceremonies, but both these wings of the C of E are moving in a liberal direction, and in the long run demographic change will finish the job.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyMediaPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

4 Comments
Posted March 31, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some employers increasingly are viewing autism as an asset and not a deficiency in the workplace.

Germany-based software company SAP has been actively seeking people with autism for jobs, not because of charitable outreach but because it believes features of autism may make some individuals better at certain jobs than those without autism.

It's a worthy initiative, according to disability experts, since 85% of adults with autism are estimated to be unemployed.

Piloted in Germany, India and Ireland, the program is also launching in four North American offices, according to an announcement Thursday.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted March 30, 2014 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

None of us works anything like as hard as we think we do. According to studies in the US and elsewhere, people routinely overestimate their working hours by at least 10 per cent – when you compare how hard people say they work to diary entries, the two don’t tally.

In itself that isn’t terribly surprising. We are all famously useless at estimating how long we spend doing anything. Time-use studies show we wildly overestimate the amount of housework and underestimate sleep – ask an insomniac how much she slept last night, and she’ll say two hours, when it was actually closer to five.

What is unusual about the work estimates is that the longer people actually work the more they overestimate it. Those who work 37 hours estimate that they work 40. But people who work 50 hours bump up the estimate by a whacking 25 hours and claim to work 75.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropology

0 Comments
Posted March 30, 2014 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon


Slate: It isn’t true that people transgress because something is actually missing?

Perel: We don’t know the exact numbers because people lie about sex and 10 times more about adultery. But the vast majority of people we come into contact with in our offices are content in their marriages. They are longtime monogamists who one day cross a line into a place they never thought they would go. They remain monogamous in their beliefs, but they experience a chasm between their behavior and their beliefs. And what I am going to really investigate in depth is why people are sometimes willing to lose everything, for a glimmer of what?

Slate: And what’s your best guess from your research so far?

Perel: I can tell you right away the most important sentence in the book, because I’ve lectured all over the world and this is the thing I say that turns heads most often: Very often we don’t go elsewhere because we are looking for another person. We go elsewhere because we are looking for another self. It isn’t so much that we want to leave the person we are with as we want to leave the person we have become.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyMenPsychologySexualityWomen* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted March 30, 2014 at 1:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On the subject of sex, a subject that makes so many stammer, clam up or crack wise, Esther Perel, a couples therapist and author, is uncommonly eloquent, even rhapsodic. That particular rhetorical gift is apparently in high demand: Last July, Ms. Perel gave an opening talk at Summit Outside, a three-day meeting of 900 entrepreneurs and creative types held on Powder Mountain in Eden, Utah.

“Think of a moment when you have an experience of major adventure, of novelty, of surprise, of mystery, of risk,” Ms. Perel, 55, asked the audience, which was seated on a grassy lawn stretching out in front of the stage. “A moment perhaps where you express desires in your body that you usually don’t allow yourself to know.” Ms. Perel, a Belgian who speaks nine languages, has a French-sounding accent that implicitly seems to bolster her authority. A video of this event captured the response: At one point, a young man looked around nervously, as if he found the exercise uncomfortable, but some of the guests, their name tags hanging around their necks, closed their eyes, luxuriating in their moment of reflection.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenPsychologySexualityWomen* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted March 30, 2014 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



More than half of the 2.6 million Americans dispatched to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan struggle with physical or mental health problems stemming from their service, feel disconnected from civilian life and believe the government is failing to meet the needs of this generation’s veterans, according to a poll conducted by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The long conflicts, which have required many troops to deploy multiple times and operate under an almost constant threat of attack, have exacted a far more widespread emotional toll than previously recognized by most government studies and independent assessments: One in two say they know a fellow service member who has attempted or committed suicide, and more than 1 million suffer from relationship problems and experience outbursts of anger — two key indicators of post-traumatic stress.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryIraq WarWar in Afghanistan

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Posted March 30, 2014 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More important, perhaps, is this reason to listen to the arguments we are having, even if they often outstrip the legislative reality: the contending voices in this debate, including the many thoughtful church-state scholars who have spoken out on each side, are not really arguing about the effects of these laws. Arguably, they are not even debating their possible effects. The real debate is over the logic of their opponents’ positions.

Here, both sides have a point. Whether you call these laws “Gay Jim Crow” or not, the logic of legislative accommodations for individuals, let alone businesses, that object on religious grounds to the application of antidiscrimination laws does indeed pose a serious threat to our civil-rights laws, which are the foundation of a just, egalitarian modern society. It’s tough to have a regime of civil rights when every such law carries the footnote “unless you really mind.” It’s tougher still when those accommodations are triggered by an assertion of “sincere” religious objections, which courts are rightly reluctant to second-guess.

On the other side, the logic of a regime of robust egalitarianism, vigorously backed by law, leaves little room for conscientious religious objection. It tells individuals who want to engage in public and commercial life but have serious religious objections to the new settlement, “Of course there is room for you. Speak, if you must. But don’t act.” (Sometimes, as the Elane Photography case suggests, that distinction is hard to make.) And it tells them that as long as the law’s commands forbid some conduct without actively discriminating against religion, those commands are absolute. The title of law-and-religion scholar Steven D. Smith’s new book, The Rise and Decline of American Religious Freedom, may be premature. Nonetheless, he is right to worry that “traditional religion and contemporary secular egalitarianism are at some deep level fundamentally incompatible.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 29, 2014 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The response to your Facebook post has been staggering. Was it written on the fly or what?

In the last month, there were four instances where I was subtly or not subtly moved along. I was having lunch with a mother younger than I am who was recently bereaved. Her loss was 14 months ago. I said, "Before the one-year mark was up, did you have people telling you, hinting or saying to you that you should move on?" I asked other people who had lost children. I was hearing the same story. It just made me mad. I jotted off that Facebook post and have been completely astounded by the response—3,780,000 views and more than 10,000 comments.

Aren't most of the comments supportive?

Somebody wrote, "I want to print words around my neck that say, 'Please just read Kay Warren's Facebook post.'"

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychologyMental IllnessReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted March 28, 2014 at 12:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the church has been caring for the sick, both physically and mentally for 2,000 years longer than any government or agency. Most people are unaware that it was the Church that invented the idea of hospitals. For centuries the Church has been a refuge for the outcast, those on the margins, and anyone enduring societal stigma and shame.

Finally, studies have shown that when families or individuals experience the chaos caused by mental illness, the first place they typically call in a crisis is not a doctor, a law office, the school, or the police, but rather they call or go see their priest or pastor. Anyone who’s served as a receptionist for a church knows that they often are required to do triage in mental illness cases. Why is that? Because people instinctively know that churches are called by God to be places of refuge, comfort, guidance, and practical help for those who suffer.

It’s time to stand with those who are suffering.Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchPsychologyMental IllnessReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted March 27, 2014 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:
You’re both Scientologists. Does anything that has been written about Scientology shake your faith?

It’s like anything in our culture. There are so many opinions. Public opinion is breathing and growing and changing all the time. Your own experience is ultimately what’s going to tell you what you think
.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted March 26, 2014 at 5:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Want to be happy in your work? Go to theological college and avoid a career pulling pints. That would seem to be one conclusion to draw from a new study into wellbeing and public policy, which found that employees reporting greatest job satisfaction were vicars, while publicans – who on average earn almost £5,000 a year more – were the least happy in their work.

Overall job satisfaction, in fact, has little to do with salary, according to the figures drawn from Office for National Statistics data. While company chief executives, earning £117,700 a year on average, were found to be the second happiest employees (mean clergy income by contrast is a mere £20,568), company secretaries, fitness instructors and school secretaries, all earning less than £19,000 a year, emerged among the top 20 most satisfying careers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted March 23, 2014 at 3:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Why Osteenification? Because Joel Osteen is the prime provocateur of a seductive brand of American Christianity that reduces God to a means to our ends. A message that beckons multitudes to the table of the Master, not for the love of the Master but for what is on the table. He is the de facto high priest of a new brand of Christianity perfectly suited for a feel-good generation. And while a host of pretenders (including Prince) follow in his train, Osteen is clearly the biggest of the bunch—according to People magazine, “twice as big as the nearest competitor.” And his claim to America’s largest church is just a small part of the story. With one billion impressions per month on Facebook and Twitter, Osteen is the hip new personification of God-talk in America.

But here’s the problem. Behind Osteenian self-affirmations—“I am anointed,” “I am prosperous,” “My God is a ‘supersizing God’”—there lies a darker hue. Behind the smile is a robust emphasis on all that is negative. If you are healthy and wealthy, words created that reality. However, if you find yourself in dire financial straits, contract cancer, or, God forbid, die an early death, your words are the prime suspect. Says Osteen, “We’re going to get exactly what we’re saying. And this can be good or it can be bad” (Discover the Champion in You, May 3, 2004). In evidence, he cites one illustration after the other. One in particular caught my attention: the story of a “kind and friendly” worker at the church. He died at an early age, contends Osteen, “being snared by the words of his mouth” (I Declare [FaithWords, 2012], viii–ix).

This illustration serves to underscore a predictable trend; a trend now pandemic in American Christianity. Osteen and company simply use the Scriptures to communicate whatever they want. Again and again, Scripture is tortured in the process of deluding the faithful. As even the most cursory reading of Proverbs 6 makes plain, being “snared by the words of your mouth” has nothing to do with negatively professing death into one’s own life and everything to do with a divine warning against making rash pledges.

Read it all (with thanks to Timothy Dalrymple at Patheos for this guest post).

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

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Posted March 22, 2014 at 3:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From Facebook to Twitter to Instagram and Google, many big Internet successes depend on coaxing people into sharing every last bit of information about themselves and their lives.

But a five-week old social app, Secret, is testing the limits of just how much sharing Silicon Valley thinks is a good thing. That’s because the sharing is done anonymously. And, as it turns out, much of the chatter is about Silicon Valley itself — offering a rare, unvarnished look at the ambitions, disappointments, rivalries, jealousies and obsessions of the engineers and entrepreneurs who live and work there.

Secret, like a number of other recent apps, connects people anonymously through their address books. Messages appear only as from “friend” or “friend of friend.” Juicy posts that receive a lot of likes or comments also appear occasionally, identified simply by the city or state where they originated.

Read it all.

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

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Posted March 22, 2014 at 12:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

America’s long-term jobless face huge obstacles in returning to steady full-time employment, with just 11 per cent succeeding over the course of any given year, according to new research that raises alarm bells about structural problems in the US labour market.

The study by Alan Krueger, a Princeton University economist who served as a top economic adviser to Barack Obama between 2011 and 2013, shows that even in good times and in healthy states the long-term jobless are “at the margins” of the labour market with little hope of regaining their footing.

A big spike in long-term unemployment – defined as joblessness extending beyond 26 weeks – has been one of the defining features of the US recession and its aftermath. There were 3.8m long-term unemployed in February 2014, according to the latest labour department data, more than double the pre-financial crisis level of 1.9m in August 2008. The share of the jobless who have been out of work for more than six months has nearly doubled over that timeframe, from 19.8 per cent to 37 per cent.

Read it all (if necessary another link may be found there).

Update: There is more from the Washington post there.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHealth & MedicineHistoryPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 21, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There have long been stark economic differences between Fairfax County and McDowell. But as their fortunes have diverged even further over the past generation, their life expectancies have diverged, too. In McDowell, women’s life expectancy has actually fallen by two years since 1985; it grew five years in Fairfax.

“Poverty is a thief,” said Michael Reisch, a professor of social justice at the University of Maryland, testifying before a Senate panel on the issue. “Poverty not only diminishes a person’s life chances, it steals years from one’s life.”

That reality is playing out across the country. For the upper half of the income spectrum, men who reach the age of 65 are living about six years longer than they did in the late 1970s. Men in the lower half are living just 1.3 years longer.

This life-expectancy gap has started to surface in discussions among researchers, public health officials and Washington policy makers.

Read it all.

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

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Posted March 20, 2014 at 3:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Aging baby boomers want to stay in their own homes as long as possible and a way to do that, the so-called village concept, is catching on in South Carolina.

Experts say it's less expensive for baby boomers as they age to live at home than in nursing homes, and people who remain in their homes are often happier and live longer. Some 8,000 baby boomers reach retirement age each day in the U.S.

"The baby boomers do not intend to go into nursing homes," said Janet Schumacher, the coordinator of the Office on Aging in Charleston. "They are looking to each other to provide support."

Virtual villages are associations set up to provide help to members with everything from transportation and home repairs to social and cultural connections. The first was started on Beacon Hill in Boston 13 years ago.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicinePsychologyRural/Town LifeUrban/City Life and Issues* South Carolina

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Posted March 17, 2014 at 5:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the future, it seems, there will be only one “ism” — Individualism — and its rule will never end. As for religion, it shall decline; as for marriage, it shall be postponed; as for ideologies, they shall be rejected; as for patriotism, it shall be abandoned; as for strangers, they shall be distrusted. Only pot, selfies and Facebook will abide — and the greatest of these will probably be Facebook.

That’s the implication, at least, of what the polling industry keeps telling us about the rising American generation, the so-called millennials. (Full disclosure: I am not quite one of them, having entered the world in the penultimate year of Generation X.) A new Pew survey, the latest dispatch from the land of young adulthood, describes a generation that’s socially liberal on issues like immigration and marijuana and same-sex marriage, proudly independent of either political party, less likely to be married and religious than earlier generations, less likely to identify as patriotic and less likely — by a striking margin — to say that one’s fellow human beings can be trusted.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureSociologyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General

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Posted March 17, 2014 at 12:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The head bishop of the United Methodist Church in New York on Monday committed to ending church trials in his region for ministers who perform same sex-marriages, essentially freeing them to conduct a ceremony still prohibited under his denomination’s laws.

As the first sitting United Methodist bishop to publicly make such a pledge, Bishop Martin D. McLee instantly became a leading figure in a decades-old movement within the United Methodist Church, the country’s second-largest Protestant denomination, to extend equal recognition and rights to gay and lesbian members. Though Bishop McLee said that he hoped his approach would heal the church’s deep divisions over homosexuality, more conservative Methodists warned that his actions would push the denomination closer to an irrevocable split.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

3 Comments
Posted March 14, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the Netherlands people with early dementia are already being visited by mobile euthanasia units. In Belgium the law allows euthanasia only when, technically, “the patient is in a medically futile condition of constant unbearable suffering”. Wesley J. Smith, of the US-based Centre for Bioethics and Culture, has listed examples of ways in which the law has been interpreted much more expansively.
It has, for example, permitted the euthanasia of a transsexual left distraught by the results of a botched sex change operation and elderly couples who prefer joint and early death to living alone. Belgian doctors encourage each other to look out for suicidal patients whose organs can be harvested. In one PowerPoint presentation it was noted that patients with neuro-muscular diseases were good potential donors because, unlike cancer sufferers, they have “high-quality organs”.
And don’t think that Britain will be any different. We can’t regulate the banks or the police properly and assisted dying laws would soon become lethal tools in the hands of activist judges, greedy relatives and financially stretched health services. Look at our abortion laws. Introduced to end the horror of back-street terminations, they’re now used to end late-term pregnancies because of a cleft lip or a club foot.

Read it all (subscription required).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsPsychology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted March 13, 2014 at 7:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Legal definitions of insanity still focus on psychosis, the delusions of which are held to diminish responsibility. Medical conceptions include many additional bizarre behaviors, thoughts, and feelings. The legal definition has historically encompassed both questions of agency (he didn’t know what he was doing) and morality (he didn’t know that what he was doing was wrong). The psychiatric profession doesn’t consider mass killers to be necessarily insane, which distresses Peter. For him, the crime defines the illness—as he said, soon after we met, you’d have to be crazy to do such a thing. He found the idea of Adam’s not being insane much more devastating than the thought of his being insane. Peter has searched the psychiatric literature on mass killers, trying to understand what happened to his son. He came across the work of Park Dietz, a psychiatrist who, in 1986, coined the term “pseudocommando.” Dietz says that for pseudocommandos a preoccupation with weapons and war regalia makes up for a sense of impotence and failure. He wrote that we insist that mass killers are insane only to reassure ourselves that normal people are incapable of such evil.

Crimes of passion are relational, whereas plotted crimes such as Adam’s are unsocial. But the dichotomy isn’t clear-cut; most crimes lie along a spectrum. So Sandy Hook was a culmination—neither sudden nor entirely calculated, at least until the very end. James Knoll, a forensic psychiatrist at suny, has written that Adam’s act conveyed a message: “I carry profound hurt—I’ll go ballistic and transfer it onto you.” That’s as much motive as we’re likely to find.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationMarriage & FamilyPsychologyViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheodicy

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Posted March 13, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A somewhat unusual document landed on my desk a few days ago, in page proofs, sent by Eerdmans, the major Evangelical publisher. It is a book about to be published, written by James K.A. Smith, a decidedly Protestant philosopher on the faculty of Calvin College—How (Not) to be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor. Taylor is the much celebrated Catholic philosopher, retired from McGill University, author of the massive book A Secular Age (2007). Smith is of a younger generation; I have read one of his books before—Thinking in Tongues (2010)—a feisty book billed as a Pentecostal contribution to Christian philosophy, in which Smith criticizes Christian philosophers for cutting the ground from under their own feet by accepting the naturalistic premises of secular philosophy—and then trying to find space for the supernatural that their faith must affirm. Smith (whose Pentecostal allegiance is apparently relatively new) instead suggests that Christian philosophy should from the first “think in tongues”—that is, base itself on the assumption that the world is indeed suffused with Spirit, is precisely what Christianity says that it is. I’m not interested in arguing whether that is a good philosophical method, but it is probably good pedagogy: “I won’t try to dissuade you from your view that we are in France; let me rather show you that we are in America”. (Whatever “tongues” Smith thinks in now, he is still listed as a professor of Reformed theology. So I was reminded of Karl Barth in his feistiest days. Barth once observed that he was completely uninterested in dialogue with Hindus or any people from other religions. He was asked, how then did he know that they were wrong. He replied: “I know it a priori”. This is not my style of thinking, but I must admit to a certain admiration for its Calvinist chutzpah! In the book mentioned here, Smith continues in the same vein, except that he now undergirds his argument with Taylor’s phenomenology of our supposedly secular age.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & TechnologySociology* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* Theology

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Posted March 12, 2014 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Americans' economic confidence continued to drop last week, with Gallup's Economic Confidence Index edging down to -20, its lowest weekly score since mid-December.

Americans' economic confidence had recently stabilized after monthly climbs as it recovered from the damaging effects of the federal government shutdown in October. Since the beginning of the year, confidence had remained roughly stable, hovering around -17 and fluctuating by only a point or two each week. The recent drop to -20, though a mere three-point fall, is the largest drop so far in 2014.

The Gallup Economic Confidence Index is the average of two components: Americans' views on current economic conditions in the U.S. and their perceptions of whether the economy is getting better or worse.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life

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Posted March 12, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The newest Utah polygamous family featured in a reality TV show says sharing their story with a wide audience has been liberating.

Brady Williams and his five wives were a bit apprehensive ahead of the airing of a pilot episode in September, but they said this week an interview with The Associated Press that it felt liberating to be open about who they are and what they believe.

"It really is like coming out of the closet," said Brady Williams, 43. "It's very liberating."

His wives feel the same way, including his second, Robyn Williams, 40, who said: "I feel more free to just be who I am and not be so afraid."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyMovies & TelevisionPsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 11, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[A recent study]...has found one in three girls and a quarter of boys are depressed, with many turning to violence, alcohol and unwanted sex to cope with problems.

The study of almost 4500 year 7 to 12 students, also revealed that 34 per cent of girls and 30 per cent of boys felt constantly under strain and unable to overcome difficulties.

More than half had low levels of resilience and of those, 43 per cent felt violence was an appropriate way to solve relationship issues.

A third were drinking at dangerous levels, and one in four lacked the confidence to say no to unwanted sexual experiences, while 16 per cent feel it necessary to carry a weapon.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHealth & MedicinePsychologyTeens / Youth* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ

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Posted March 9, 2014 at 4:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At the heart of any company is its mission. A business' mission defines what it stands for -- its purpose and the reason for its existence. Mission declares the difference a company seeks to make in the world. A strong mission is lofty, ambitious, and sometimes audacious.

Many executives don't realize that mission is an underused asset in improving organizational performance and profitability, and they neglect their ultimate responsibility of aligning their brand and culture with their highest purpose. Failure to meet a company's mission-related needs is failure of leadership.

To instill a passion for the company's purpose, the best leaders in the world hold managers accountable for addressing employees' basic engagement needs. Then they focus on aligning mission, culture, and brand to empower high performance among individuals and teams. By providing this strategic direction, mission-driven leaders maximize employee engagement as a key driver of organizational performance -- and as a strong predictor of business success.

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

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Posted March 7, 2014 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In many ways, [Kayla] Montgomery’s life resembles that of an ordinary high school track athlete. Before every race, she puts on the same lucky green sports bra and size 5 ½ racing flats that carry her 5-foot-1 frame. She is deeply involved with her Methodist church, along with her younger sister and her parents, a nursing student and a pesticide salesman. She carries a 4.70 grade-point average and logs 50 miles a week.

Though examples of elite athletes with M.S. are scarce, some have speculated that Montgomery’s racing-induced numbness lends a competitive edge, especially given the improvement in her times since the diagnosis.

“The disease has no potential to make her physically more competitive,” said her neurologist, Lucie Lauve, who also said she did not know precisely why Montgomery collapsed after races. “If M.S. has made her a better athlete, I believe it is a mental edge.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyReligion & CultureSportsTeens / Youth* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist

0 Comments
Posted March 7, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Canadians are in a funk. Things are better than ever, but people are feeling worse. “The trend lines are disturbing,” EKOS pollster Frank Graves wrote recently, reporting that public pessimism is deepening. “… Only around 10 per cent of Canadians and Americans think the next generation will enjoy a better quality of life.”

Well, maybe they will or maybe they won’t. Meantime, this generation is doing pretty well. Despite recessions, globalization and the inexorable rise of the robots, most of us never had it so good. In 2011, the median real income for Canadian two-parent families with two earners was $100,000 – $13,000 higher than in 2000. The annual average unemployment rate is down to 7 per cent. Despite the soaring cost of housing, nearly 70 per cent of us have an ownership stake in our own homes.

So what’s our problem?...

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenGlobalizationMarriage & FamilyPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 6, 2014 at 3:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In his most recent column, Douthat strives to reframe the current debate about anti-gay discrimination (and even segregation) into one about sincere believers being brutally trampled by gay rights activists eager to bury religious freedom. It’s a failed effort, but a useful failure nonetheless. Arizona’s anti-gay bill may be dead, but several more are alive and kicking, and Douthat neatly anticipates the many straw men, euphemisms, and verbal chicanery anti-gay forces will deploy to make their case.

In fact, Douthat’s column is such an effective piece of homophobic apologia that I expect many red state politicians to borrow from its playbook in the coming months and years. To make their job easier, I’ve laid out the most effective means of disguising raw hatred as religious liberty and rounding discrimination down to “dissent.” If you’re thinking about introducing an anti-gay discrimination bill to your own state’s legislature, you should pay close attention.

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted March 4, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On the first anniversary of the Newtown shootings, Rep. Tim Murphy, a Republican from Upper St. Clair, rose in the House to propose a bill in response to this tragedy and others like it. As the only clinical psychologist in Congress, and in a party that has resisted gun control efforts, his suggestion may seem to some beside the point. That would be a mistake.

The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, the result of a yearlong investigation by a House subcommittee led by Mr. Murphy, is a serious attempt to reduce gun violence by another means.

Although Mr. Murphy’s HR 3717 may not fix every defect in the mental health system, it is a bold, sweeping attempt at reform. It comes at a time when governments have cut their mental-health budgets for community care, leaving the nation’s prison system the last hope for many with mental illness (up to an estimated 50 percent of inmates have a mental illness).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePrison/Prison MinistryPsychologyMental IllnessViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralHouse of Representatives* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted March 3, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...worries that keep you awake are usually really difficult to deal with. Fears that seem small at breakfast are really bad at three in the morning. Most of us can just about deal with it most of the time, but for many, perhaps one in five, something in your mind and brain and soul becomes a real problem, and depression or other mental illness attacks you. Then everything becomes overwhelming, and you need really good help.

Mental illness is just illness, no more or less bad. The problem is that it often does not involve physical signs and people with mental illness gets stigmatised, isolated, ignored and that makes them worse.
- See more at: http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/5259/archbishop-justin-gives-pause-for-thought-on-the-chris-evans-breakfast-show#sthash.98MRxrtT.dpuf

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchPsychologyMental Illness* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted March 3, 2014 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Whatever course the Russian intervention may take, it is not an attempt to stop a fascist coup, since nothing of the kind has taken place. What has taken place is a popular revolution, with all of the messiness, confusion, and opposition that entails. The young leaders of the Maidan, some of them radical leftists, have risked their lives to oppose a regime that represented, at an extreme, the inequalities that we criticize at home. They have an experience of revolution that we do not. Part of that experience, unfortunately, is that Westerners are provincial, gullible, and reactionary.

Thus far the new Ukrainian authorities have reacted with remarkable calm. It is entirely possible that a Russian attack on Ukraine will provoke a strong nationalist reaction: indeed, it would be rather surprising if it did not, since invasions have a way of bringing out the worst in people. If this is what does happen, we should see events for what they are: an entirely unprovoked attack by one nation upon the sovereign territory of another.

Insofar as we have accepted the presentation of the revolution as a fascist coup, we have delayed policies that might have stopped the killing earlier, and helped prepare the way for war. Insofar as we wish for peace and democracy, we are going to have to begin by getting the story right.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMediaPsychology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussiaUkraine* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 3, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What makes [The publicity of the Arizona debate and its]... response particularly instructive is that such bills have been seen, in the past, as a way for religious conservatives to negotiate surrender — to accept same-sex marriage’s inevitability while carving out protections for dissent. But now, apparently, the official line is that you bigots don’t get to negotiate anymore.

Which has a certain bracing logic. If your only goal is ensuring that support for traditional marriage diminishes as rapidly as possible, applying constant pressure to religious individuals and institutions will probably do the job. Already, my fellow Christians are divided over these issues, and we’ll be more divided the more pressure we face. The conjugal, male-female view of marriage is too theologically rooted to disappear, but its remaining adherents can be marginalized, set against one other, and encouraged to conform.

I am being descriptive here, rather than self-pitying. Christians had plenty of opportunities — thousands of years’ worth — to treat gay people with real charity, and far too often chose intolerance. (And still do, in many instances and places.) So being marginalized, being sued, losing tax-exempt status — this will be uncomfortable, but we should keep perspective and remember our sins, and nobody should call it persecution.

But it’s still important for the winning side to recognize its power. We are not really having an argument about same-sex marriage anymore, and on the evidence of Arizona, we’re not having a negotiation. Instead, all that’s left is the timing of the final victory — and for the defeated to find out what settlement the victors will impose.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted March 2, 2014 at 6:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Divorce is not God's will or desire for us. Even where divorce is allowed, it is not commanded, and then it is still a tragedy. Divorce leaves behind devastation and victims in its wake.

That God himself is a divorcee, despite his faultless covenant faithfulness, calls us to a more nuanced understanding of marriage and divorce. In our own marriages, God calls us to follow his example of covenant faithfulness, and has demonstrated how much grace and forgiveness is needed to maintain a relationship in the face of human sinfulness. God's example give us a framework to talk meaningfully about commitment and grace, and yet also to say that in situations of hard-hearted and deliberate covenant violation, divorce was allowed as God's way of officially declaring a broken covenant "broken."

We find wisdom when we view hot topics within the larger framework of Scripture. A discussion on purity should not just be about whether a person is a virgin when they marry (even if they've done "everything but"), but about how they steward their sexuality throughout their lives. Similarly, the litmus test for covenant faithfulness in marriage should not just be about whether or not someone got divorced (even if they did "everything but"), but about how we steward our marriages and make daily attempts to model God's faithfulness to our spouses.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted March 1, 2014 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I do not come to bury our culture (for it may well bury itself). Rather, I write to understand it. And there are few topics that we need to understand more than how our culture is viewing sex. Some of what I say may be familiar. I’m not striving to be creative, really, so much as I am seeking to speak a true word so as to be able to engage folks around me.

Nowhere are modern sexual mores more evident than in pop music. Pop music today is not singularly occupied by sex, but nearly so. And not just sex generally, but increasingly sexual acts. I think it’s important for Christians who want to engage the culture well to know that this development is not merely owing to an aberrant way of life, but to a different worldview. I commend Peter Jones’s The God of Sex, a prescient and underappreciated work from a few years back. Jones helped me to see that many people today have, wittingly or unwittingly, adopted a pagan outlook on life. In our modern neo-pagan world, the body is paramount, sex is cathartic and even gives meaning to life, and there is no telos or purpose for sex and relationships.

I cannot help but think of these matters when I listen, as I infrequently do, to secular rap and R&B.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenMovies & TelevisionMusicPsychologyReligion & CultureSexualityWomen* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsWicca / paganism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 1, 2014 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Radical Islamist rebels running the northern Syrian city of Raqqa have made the Christians living in the area an offer they can’t refuse: pay for protection, convert to Islam, or “face the sword.”

In a statement posted to Jihadi websites and signed by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-designated emir of the future Islamic caliphate of Raqqa, as well as the founder of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria [ISIS] rebel brigade, Christians are urged to pay a tax in order to continue living under ISIS’s protection. The terms are simple: twice a year wealthy Christians must pay the equivalent of half an ounce of gold — about $664 by today’s market value. Middle-class Christians have to come up with half that sum, and poor Christians can get away with paying a quarter, or about $166.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted March 1, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"Who do you like?" asked recent ads on Facebook...featuring young women in alluring poses.

Some of the ads were configured to reach young teens, who were invited to join an app called Ilikeq that let others rate their attractiveness, comment on their photos and say if they would like to date them.

That's how 14-year-old Erica Lowder's picture ended up on display to adult men online. Users of Ilikeq, one of Facebook's fastest-growing "lifestyle" apps, were able to click through to the Indianapolis girl's Facebook page.

"How can Facebook say here's how we're going to protect your kids, then sell all these ads to weird apps and sites that open kids up to terrible things?" asked Erica's mother, Dawn Lowder.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingMediaPsychologyScience & TechnologyTeens / Youth* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 28, 2014 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Married couples will be able to draft their own DIY divorce settlements using an officially-approved financial formula without having to fight over details in court under plans put before ministers today.

Under proposals put forward by the Government’s legal reviewer, prenuptial agreements would become legally binding in England and Wales for the first time.

The Law Commission is also urging the Government to consider devising a specific numerical formula which separating couples could use to calculate how to divide their assets.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychology* International News & CommentaryCanadaEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 27, 2014 at 4:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Warren, founder of Saddleback Church and a best-selling author, will team with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange and the National Alliance on Mental Illness to host a daylong event next month focused on helping church leaders reach parishioners who are struggling with mental illness.

The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church grew out of private conversations Warren had with the local Catholic bishop, Bishop Kevin Vann, after his son's death and his own writings in his journal as he processed his grief. Matthew Warren, 27, committed suicide last April after struggling with severe depression and suicidal thoughts for years.

"I'm certainly not going to waste this pain. One of the things I believe is that God never wastes a hurt and that oftentimes your greatest ministry comes out of your deepest pain," Warren said Monday as he met with Vann to discuss the March 28 event. "I remember writing in my journal that in God's garden of grace even broken trees bear fruit."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchPsychologyMental IllnessSuicideReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

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Posted February 27, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It changed medicine forever. But less than 90 years on is the golden age of antibiotics about to come to a spectacular end? Sarah Freeman reports.

Antibiotics revolutionised global medicine. Since Alexander Fleming made his almost accidental discovery of penicillin in a small London laboratory back in 1928, they’ve saved millions of lives, prevented countless infections turning fatal and seen off a thousand diseases. Yet they’re also in danger of being too successful for their own good.

Suffering a bout of flu? We demand our GP writes a prescription for a course of antibiotics we probably won’t see through to the end. As the unused tablets sit in bathroom cabinets, the bacteria it was designed to kill grows just that little bit stronger. It’s not just humans who have become reliant on them. With disease spreading rapidly through intensively farmed pigs, sheep and chickens, antibiotics have been used to keep the wheels of British factory farming turning for years.

And that’s not all. We pump antibiotics into everything from toothpaste to washing up liquid...

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & MedicineHistoryPsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 23, 2014 at 11:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Steven Holcomb said he was almost blind, and that's obviously very bad for a bobsled driver.

Worse, as it turned out, was that some of those around him were blind to what really was wrong with the American Olympic champion. He was suffering from depression while driving his team to heights U.S. bobsledders had not seen in decades.

Holcomb said competing among world-class athletes is not a good setting for picking up on a condition he shares with more than three percent of Americans, according to various studies.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologySportsYoung Adults* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 22, 2014 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The researchers are quick to note that not everyone uses Twitter, only 14 percent of the US population, and not all who do use it to talk about politics, for example.
Still, looking at how conversations flow on social media can provide new insights into how people communicate in a way that was not possible until very recently.
"You could never do that in the old days when you were running around with a pen and clipboard," said Marc A. Smith, one of the study's authors and director of the Social Media Research Foundation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingMediaPsychologySociology* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted February 22, 2014 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A silent epidemic of anorexia is sweeping through the country’s top independent schools, affecting thousands of teenage girls, experts say.

Girls from aspirational families are the “fastest-growing” group using mental health services as they struggle to cope with the pressure to achieve top grades, according to psychologists. Mental health charities say that many of the top private schools are in denial about the scale of the problem because they do not want to damage their brands.

“Being high-achieving, perfectionist and competitive are all traits that are celebrated in highly academic girls’ schools,” Susan Ringwood, of the eating disorder charity BEAT, said. “They are also among serious risk factors contributing to an eating disorder.”

Read it all (subscription required).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenDieting/Food/NutritionHealth & MedicineHunger/MalnutritionPsychology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 22, 2014 at 10:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For most people with ADHD, these medications — typically formulations of methylphenidate or amphetamine — quickly calm them down and increase their ability to concentrate. Although these behavioural changes make the drugs useful, a growing body of evidence suggests that the benefits mainly stop there. Studies indicate that the improvements seen with medication do not translate into better academic achievement or even social adjustment in the long term: people who were medicated as children show no improvements in antisocial behaviour, substance abuse or arrest rates later in life, for example. And one recent study suggested that the medications could even harm some children1.

After decades of study, it has become clear that the drugs are not as transformative as their marketers would have parents believe. “I don't know of any evidence that's consistent that shows that there's any long-term benefit of taking the medication,” says James Swanson, a psychologist at the University of California, Irvine.

Now researchers are trying to understand why. The answer could lie in sub-optimal use of the drugs, or failure to address other factors that affect performance, such as learning disabilities. Or it could be that people place too much hope on a simple fix for a complex problem. “What we expect medication to do may be unrealistic,” says Lily Hechtman, a psychiatrist at McGill University in Montreal.

Read it all.

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

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Posted February 21, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Alasdair MacIntyre once quipped that “facts, like telescopes and wigs for gentlemen, were a seventeenth-century invention.” Something similar can be said about sexual orientation: Heterosexuals, like typewriters and urinals (also, obviously, for gentlemen), were an invention of the 1860s. Contrary to our cultural preconceptions and the lies of what has come to be called “orientation essentialism,” “straight” and “gay” are not ageless absolutes. Sexual orientation is a conceptual scheme with a history, and a dark one at that. It is a history that began far more recently than most people know, and it is one that will likely end much sooner than most people think.

Over the course of several centuries, the West had progressively abandoned Christianity’s marital architecture for human sexuality. Then, about one hundred and fifty years ago, it began to replace that longstanding teleological tradition with a brand new creation: the absolutist but absurd taxonomy of sexual orientations. Heterosexuality was made to serve as this fanciful framework’s regulating ideal, preserving the social prohibitions against sodomy and other sexual debaucheries without requiring recourse to the procreative nature of human sexuality.

On this novel account, same-sex sex acts were wrong not because they spurn the rational-animal purpose of sex—namely the family—but rather because the desire for these actions allegedly arises from a distasteful psychological disorder. As queer theorist Hanne Blank recounts, “This new concept [of heterosexuality], gussied up in a mangled mix of impressive-sounding dead languages, gave old orthodoxies a new and vibrant lease on life by suggesting, in authoritative tones, that science had effectively pronounced them natural, inevitable, and innate.”

Sexual orientation has not provided the dependable underpinning for virtue that its inventors hoped it would, especially lately....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted February 20, 2014 at 3:24 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...more people every year, locally and across the nation, continue laboring for a paycheck past the time when they could be collecting Social Security.

The average age of retirement in America, which had been on the decline during much of the 20th century, has been rising for the past two decades for a combination of reasons. A recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report found that about 27 percent of people ages 65 to 74 were still in the workforce, compared with just 20 percent in 2002. It predicted nearly one in three people of that age would be part of the labor pool in 2022.

“People today are working later than they have been for quite some time … as long today as in the 1970s,” said Kevin Cahill, a research economist for the Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College. “The incentives have shifted in favor of work.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyMiddle AgePsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 20, 2014 at 11:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Americans are known risk-takers when it comes to their personal finances. While consumer spending has traditionally been one of the great engines of the U.S. economy, it also helped get the country into the Great Recession. So after five years of economic turmoil we’ve presumably become a little better at keeping track of our debts, right?

Not really. Data released Tuesday by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York show that at $11.52 trillion, overall consumer debt is higher than it has been since 2011. And more unsettling, debt is rising at rapid levels. Americans’ debt—that includes mortgages, auto loans, student loans and credit card debt—increased by 2.1%, or $241 billion in the last three months of 2013, the greatest margin of increase since the third quarter of 2007, shortly before the U.S. spiraled into recession.

And on an individual level, many Americans are in a precarious financial position.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe Banking System/SectorThe U.S. GovernmentFederal Reserve* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 20, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it
--Henry Ford

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* General InterestNotable & Quotable* TheologyAnthropology

0 Comments
Posted February 19, 2014 at 8:58 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Madison Holleran, a 19-year-old University of Pennsylvania freshman, died in Philadelphia Friday night in what police called an apparent suicide. Her father later said her death was linked to the “stress” of keeping good grades at her Ivy League school.

According to NorthJersey.com, Holleran jumped off the roof of a parking garage Friday night. Just an hour earlier, the Allendale, N.J., native reportedly posted a photo of the lights at Rittenhouse Square in Center City Philadelphia on her Instagram account.

Holleran was a soccer and track star in her hometown at Northern Highlands Regional High School and called a “perfectionist” by her father, Jim Holleran. He also said she had “grown depressed” while adjusting to college life away from home.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationMarriage & FamilyPsychologySuicideYoung Adults* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 19, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Like other 20-somethings seeking a career foothold, Andrew Lang, a graduate of Penn State, took an internship at an upstart Beverly Hills production company at age 29 as a way of breaking into movie production. It didn’t pay, but he hoped the exposure would open doors.

When that internship proved to be a dead end, Mr. Lang went to work at a second production company, again as an unpaid intern. When that went nowhere, he left for another, doing whatever was asked, like delivering bottles of wine to 27 offices before Christmas. But that company, too, could not afford to hire him, even part time.

A year later, Mr. Lang is on his fourth internship, this time for a company that produces reality TV shows. While this internship at least pays him (he makes $10 an hour, with few perks), Mr. Lang feels no closer to a real job and worries about being an intern forever. “No one hires interns,” said Mr. Lang, who sees himself as part of a “revolving class of people” who can’t break free of the intern cycle. “Is this any way to live?”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted February 18, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two months ago, an escaped mentally ill inmate was walking down the street, blocking traffic. I stopped, and the next thing I knew he started accusing me of killing his mother. Then he attacked me. Fortunately, I was able to subdue him, and we returned him to prison.

Mental illness is not a crime, and the vast majority of people with mental illness are not dangerous. People whose mental illness goes untreated, however, may become dangerous. Tragic headlines around the country too often provide evidence of that fact.

It is against this background that S.C. Circuit Judge Michael Baxley recently found that mentally ill inmates in S.C. prisons receive grossly inadequate treatment. His 45-page order sets forth in shocking detail the deficiencies in the Department of Corrections’ mental health system.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPrison/Prison MinistryPsychologyMental Illness* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentState Government* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted February 17, 2014 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Donald Margulies’s play “Dinner With Friends'"]...underlying subject is the mysterious way in which all relationships — friendships as much as romances — can evolve on a deep level as people grow and change, while, on the surface, things appear to remain stable. Life is sailing smoothly by, then one day the familiar face on the other side of the bed, or across the dinner table, or maybe even in the mirror, looks utterly strange.

--Charles Isherwood in his NYT review of the play in Friday's print edition, quoted by yours truly in Adult Sunday School class this morning on Revelation 2:1-7

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyMiddle AgePsychologyTheatre/Drama/Plays* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 16, 2014 at 11:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“When I saw ‘All My Sons,’ I was changed — permanently changed — by that experience....It was like a miracle to me. But that deep kind of love comes at a price: for me, acting is torturous, and it’s torturous because you know it’s a beautiful thing. I was young once, and I said, That’s beautiful and I want that. Wanting it is easy, but trying to be great — well, that’s absolutely torturous.”

--Philip Seymour Hoffman as quoted in the New York Times.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMovies & TelevisionPsychologyTheatre/Drama/Plays* TheologyAnthropology

0 Comments
Posted February 16, 2014 at 11:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I just returned from a well-known (and well-heeled) Christian college, where roughly 100 demonstrators gathered on the chapel steps to protest my address on the grounds that my testimony was dangerous. Later that day, I sat down with these beloved students, to listen, to learn, and to grieve. Homosexuality is a sin, but so is homophobia; the snarled composition of our own sin and the sin of others weighs heavily on us all. I came away from that meeting realizing—again—how decisively our reading practices shape our worldview. This may seem a quirky observation, but I know too well the world these students inhabit. I recall its contours and crevices, risks and perils, reading lists and hermeneutical allegiances. You see, I'm culpable. The blood is on my hands. The world of LGBTQ activism on college campuses is the world that I helped create. I was unfaltering in fidelity: the umbrella of equality stretching to embrace my lesbian identity, and the world that emerged from it held salvific potential. I bet my life on it, and I lost.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologySexuality* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted February 15, 2014 at 3:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the year 2000, scholars Suzanne M. Bianchi and Lynne M. Casper argued that by some measures, the late twentieth-century revolutions in the American family had slowed. There has been a recent “quieting of changes in the family, or at least of the pace of change,” they wrote.... “Whether the [1990s] slowing, and in some cases cessation, of change in family living arrangements is a temporary lull or part of a new, more sustained equilibrium will only be revealed in the first decades of the 21st century.”

Fourteen years after they wrote those words, it seems fair to say that the 1990s slowing of family change was just a temporary lull. The percent of births to unmarried women resumed its multi-decade increase in the 2000s, and the percent of adults that are married resumed its multi-decade fall. Family life has also continued to change on another less widely cited measure: cohabitation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyMenPsychologyWomenYoung Adults

0 Comments
Posted February 15, 2014 at 11:55 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

How many American marriages end in divorce? One in two, if you believe the statistic endlessly repeated in news media reports, academic papers and campaign speeches.

The figure is based on a simple - and flawed - calculation: the annual marriage rate per 1,000 people compared with the annual divorce rate. In 2003, for example, the most recent year for which data is available, there were 7.5 marriages per 1,000 people and 3.8 divorces, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

But researchers say that this is misleading because the people who are divorcing in any given year are not the same as those who are marrying, and that the statistic is virtually useless in understanding divorce rates. In fact, they say, studies find that the divorce rate in the United States has never reached one in every two marriages, and new research suggests that, with rates now declining, it probably never will.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychologySociology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 15, 2014 at 7:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fourteen percent of adults between the ages of 24 and 34 -- those in the post-college years when most young adults are trying to establish independence -- report living at home with their parents. By contrast, roughly half of 18- to 23-year-olds, many of whom are still finishing their education, are currently living at home.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted February 14, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Facebook said the changes, shared with The Associated Press before the launch on Thursday, initially cover the company's 159 million monthly users in the U.S. and are aimed at giving people more choices in how they describe themselves, such as androgynous, bi-gender, intersex, gender fluid or transsexual.

"There's going to be a lot of people for whom this is going to mean nothing, but for the few it does impact, it means the world," said Facebook software engineer Brielle Harrison, who worked on the project and is herself undergoing gender transformation, from male to female. On Thursday, while watchdogging the software for any problems, she said she was also changing her Facebook identity from Female to TransWoman.

"All too often transgender people like myself and other gender nonconforming people are given this binary option, do you want to be male or female? What is your gender? And it's kind of disheartening because none of those let us tell others who we really are," she said. "This really changes that, and for the first time I get to go to the site and specify to all the people I know what my gender is."

Read it all.

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

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


Posted February 13, 2014 at 8:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Around mid-January]... the sports and pop culture website Grantland published a story called “Dr. V’s Magical Putter” — a piece of “long-form,” as we now call multi-thousand-word, narrative-driven reported articles — about a woman named Essay Anne Vanderbilt, who claimed to have invented a golf putter of unsurpassed excellence.

Over the course of 7,000-plus words, the writer, Caleb Hannan, devoted a lot of space to the contentious relationship he had developed with his subject. Ms. Vanderbilt, who was transgender but in the closet — and also probably a con artist — didn’t like Mr. Hannan’s digging into the details of her personal and professional life. In the final few paragraphs of the story, Mr. Hannan revealed some shocking news: Ms. Vanderbilt had killed herself.

The piece was initially met with praise from across the Internet. (“Great read,” raved a typical Tweet. “Fascinating, bizarre,” read another.) Then the criticism started. Mr. Hannan was accused of everything from being grossly insensitive to Ms. Vanderbilt’s privacy to having played a role in her suicide. The controversy soon grew so intense that the editor of the site, Bill Simmons, felt compelled to address it in an apologetic, if defensive, 2,700-word post of his own. Mr. Simmons stressed that the decision to publish the piece had not been taken lightly and that somewhere between 13 and 15 people had read it before it was posted and had all been “blown away.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingMediaPsychologySports* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted February 11, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At some point before 35-year-old Jesse Ryan Loskarn hanged himself in his parents’ home outside Baltimore, he wrote a painful letter soaked in shame and self-loathing in which he attempted to explain the unexplainable.

The former chief of staff for Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) had lived a secret life, hiding memories of child abuse and his addiction to child pornography. Even as U.S. Postal Inspection Service agents used a battering ram to enter his house, it appeared that he was trying to hide an external hard drive - containing hundreds of videos - on a ledge outside a window.

“Everyone wants to know why,” he wrote, in a Jan. 23 letter posted online by Gay Loskarn, his mother.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesPornographyPsychologySuicideScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted February 10, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some of the language here not the best, be advised, but the content really is solid--KSH.

What was so painful about Amy [Winehouse]'s death is that I know that there is something I could have done. I could have passed on to her the solution that was freely given to me. Don't pick up a drink or drug, one day at a time. It sounds so simple. It actually is simple but it isn't easy: it requires incredible support and fastidious structuring. Not to mention that the whole infrastructure of abstinence based recovery is shrouded in necessary secrecy. There are support fellowships that are easy to find and open to anyone who needs them but they eschew promotion of any kind in order to preserve the purity of their purpose, which is for people with alcoholism and addiction to help one another stay clean and sober.

Without these fellowships I would take drugs. Because, even now, the condition persists. Drugs and alcohol are not my problem, reality is my problem, drugs and alcohol are my solution.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAlcoholismDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & MedicinePsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted February 10, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I’d advocate for an even bigger imaginative leap: one that acknowledges the wide spectrum of pleasures that books (and TV, movies, music, theater, what have you) can offer us and then — and here’s the radical part — doesn’t immediately insist that these pleasures must also be sorted into a moral hierarchy. (This pleasure: good; that pleasure: bad; this one: in the middle.) Can we instead envision a world in which the person struggling through (but enjoying!) “Remembrance of Things Past” and the person tearing through (and enjoying!) “Gone Girl” can coexist on the same strip of sand, beach chairs side by side, each feeling pleasure in her solitary rapt world and neither one needing to cloak that pleasure behind the brown-paper wrapper of guilt?

I’m not a libertarian, politically speaking — I’m Canadian, which puts me slightly to the left of Communist. But increasingly I find myself attracted to a notion I’ll call cultural libertarianism, which might be best summed up in that old saying “Whatever floats your boat.” Which is to say, I’m less and less inclined to drop the hammer on someone who’s sitting in the corner, contentedly reading Dan Brown. Does this mean I’m obliged to acknowledge and celebrate the artistry of Dan Brown? Of course not. For me, personally, Dan Brown doesn’t do it; he leaves my boat unfloated. If you’re interested, I’m happy to share my reasons. But I’m not going to suggest that your enjoyment of Dan Brown is somehow degraded or embarrassing or shameful. I’ve not only lost my fervor to wage a holy crusade against people who enjoy Dan Brown; I’ve lost my faith in the kind of critical crusaders who do.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPhilosophyPsychology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 9, 2014 at 12:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"I think there is a perception that human trafficking is something that happens in large, urban centers or on the coast," said Elizabeth Miller, chief of adolescent medicine at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

But she often sees girls and women with mental health issues, like post-traumatic stress disorder, along with those who need treatment for physical issues like sexually transmitted diseases, malnutrition and other health consequences of trafficking. "This is really uncomfortable stuff, to think that there are young people in our community where adults who should be taking care of them are exploiting them -- using them sexually."

Dr. Miller and other local experts will be discussing the issue in depth tomorrow at an open house, sponsored by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Human Trafficking Coalition at the Andy Warhol Museum. The event comes just weeks after a federal grand jury indicted a man and a woman for sex trafficking of a 16-year-old, and a month after Moon police plucked the 17-year-old girl from the multistate group of four adults who now face charges of promoting prostitution.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyMental IllnessSexualityTeens / YouthViolenceWomenYoung Adults

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Posted February 9, 2014 at 11:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the first hours and days that followed Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death from an apparent overdose of heroin, there was an outpouring of grief on Facebook, on Twitter and in columns by recovering addicts and alcoholics like the journalist Seth Mnookin and the screenwriter Aaron Sorkin about their own struggles with sobriety and the rarely distant fear of relapsing back into the throes of active addiction.

There was also a palpably visceral reaction in the meeting rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, where, according to some in attendance, many discussions since last Sunday quickly turned from the death of a great actor to the precariousness of sobriety, and the fears of many sober people that they could easily slip back into their old ways, no matter how many years they have been clean.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAlcoholismDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & MedicineMenMiddle AgeMovies & TelevisionPsychologyTheatre/Drama/Plays* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 8, 2014 at 11:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Don’t let all the suits and ties fool you. Almost everyone at Year Up has faced almost unimaginable hardship in getting here. Poverty, drugs, foster care, men's and women's shelters—you name it.

Gerald Chertavian: We are going into a professional skills course.

This all out corporate training blitz is the brainchild of Gerald Chertavian -- a Wall Street veteran who believes that he’s discovered an untapped source of talent among the poorest in the country.

Gerald Chertavian: A majority of the young adults growing up in isolated poverty, in our inner cities, want opportunity, want to be challenged, want to be held to higher expectations, and are motivated to actually get a good job. They haven't had any exposure as to how do you do that.

Read it all or watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyUrban/City Life and IssuesYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted February 6, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Modern societies are still at the dawn of understanding what kind of news they need in order to flourish. For most of history, news was so hard to gather and expensive to deliver, its hold on our inner lives was inevitably held in check. Now there is almost nowhere on the planet we are able to go to escape from it. It is there waiting for us in the early hours when we wake up from a disturbed sleep; it follows us on board airplanes making their way between continents; it is waiting to hijack our attention during the children's bedtime.

The hum and rush of the news has seeped into our deepest selves. What an achievement a moment of calm now is; what a minor miracle the ability to fall asleep or to talk undistracted with a friend; what monastic discipline would be required to make us turn away from the maelstrom of news and to listen for a day to nothing but the rain and our own thoughts.

We may need some help with what the news is doing to us: with the envy and the terror, with the excitement and the frustration; with all that we've been told and yet occasionally suspect we may be better off never having learnt. So I wrote a little manual that tries to complicate a habit that, at present, has come to seem a little too normal and harmless for our own good. In what follows, I play the role of my own interlocutor in order to make clear just why I believe this to be so urgent.

Read it all.

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

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Posted February 6, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From cowboys in the pew to a convoy of cranes accompanying the coffin, funerals are no longer necessarily the black-clad sombre affairs of the past.

People are becoming more creative with their final plans, according to the National Association of Funeral Directors, which reports a growing number of bizarre requests. Unusual planned ceremonies include Morris dancers, a Wild West themed funeral and a company director wanting to be buried next to his beloved golf course.

Read it all (subscription required).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism

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Posted February 4, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Gospel tracts, sidewalk evangelism, street preachers with bullhorns—all of these things seem like evangelistic efforts of yesteryear. But if this seems true, where does that leave the state of evangelism today? Is faith-sharing a fading practice, or does it simply look different today? In all their innovative efforts to engage culture, have Christians left this ancient practice so integral to their faith behind?

Barna Group has charted evangelistic practices and attitudes for more than two decades, and the latest study sheds light on the gaps between evangelism in theory and practice, the social groups who are sharing their faith the most, and the surprising ways economics color one's outreach efforts.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyChristologySoteriology

0 Comments
Posted February 3, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Highly Encouraging Churches Give 2nd Chances – In combat it is hard for the wounded to help the wounded. Encouraging churches remind you failure is not final. Encouraging churches remind you of the responsibility and consequences of your actions but also give you the confidence and courage needed to move forward and be a difference maker in the lives of others.

Highly Encouraging Churches Are Vulnerable – As Christian leaders we are on a common journey. When leaders discuss life’s challenges, it encourages others because you are reminded you are not alone....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture

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Posted February 3, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The alleged cheating may be the result of a great deal of pressure on nuclear missileers, which “is not a healthy environment,” James said.

“What I mean by that is although the standard on our test – a passing grade on these tests is 90 percent – the missileers are still driven to score 100 percent, all of the time.”

That’s because commanders there are using the test scores “to be a top differentiator, if not the sole differentiator, on who gets promoted,” she added. “So I believe that a very terrible irony in this whole situation is that these missileers didn’t cheat to pass. They cheated because they felt driven to get 100 percent. Getting 90 percent or 95 percent was considered a failure in their eyes.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 2, 2014 at 6:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[In this next video report]...one brother competes and the other is cheering him on, that could be said of a lot of olympic athletes, but for Alex Bilodeau who won a gold medal in Canada yea years past it is all about the remarkable bond we first learned about in the last winter games; Bob Costas has more.

Watch it all--fantastic and heartwarming.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPsychologySports* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 1, 2014 at 2:27 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The remarkable thing about this confession is, it's true. It's not a moment of great self-esteem, or at which the lost son remembers how inherently worthy he is. By rights, he has no rights. And yet, what does he discover? Well, it is true that he receives no joy from his elder brother. But that is because the Father is irritatingly insistent on showering his tender mercy upon the returning son.

Many Christian churches open their services by inviting the congregation to confess its sins. It might seem as if this a dour reminder of our inadequacies and failings, and a rather grim thing to be doing on a Sunday, when you could be enjoying a late breakfast. But the Christian can confess with confidence - not simply because he or she will find in God a righteous judge, but because "if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." To confess your sin is to express confidence in the gospel of Jesus Christ, the one in whom God displayed both his justice and his mercy. And it is a gloriously counter-cultural testimony to the "admit nothing" world.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyPastoral TheologySoteriology

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Posted February 1, 2014 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Archbishop Stanley Ntagali responded that "homosexual practice is incompatible with Scripture".

He said he hoped the Church of England would "step back from the path" it had set itself on "so the Church of Uganda will be able to maintain communion with our own Mother Church".

Archbishop Ntagali said the Church of Uganda had been encouraged that the country's parliament had amended the Anti-Homosexuality Bill to remove the death penalty, and make other provisions of the bill less severe - all amendments which he said the Church had recommended..

"The Church is a safe place for individuals, who are confused about their sexuality or struggling with sexual brokenness, to seek help and healing," said Archbishop Ntagali.

Read it all and note carefully the accompanying comments of BBC religious affairs reporter John McManus.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of Uganda* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeriaUgandaEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 1, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Travel keeps getting easier for Cuba's surging Christian community even as practicing their faith keeps getting harder. Case in point: Mario Felix Lleonart Barroso, a Cuban Baptist pastor who once appeared on CT's cover and has since become a Bonhoeffer-inspired activist blogger.

Last fall, Lleonart Barroso made an unusually high-profile trip to Washington, D.C., visiting the Congressional Caucus on Religious Freedom and issuing a 30-point challenge to his Communist government. Last weekend, he found his house in central Cuba surrounded by security police, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).

Security agents quickly seized the pastor as his wife and two children watched from inside the house.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FirePsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryCaribbeanCuba* Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 31, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England’s bishops have finally reached agreement on homosexuality – by saying that they might never be able to agree.

They emerged from a frank, day-long meeting behind closed doors, discussing their response to radical proposals to offer wedding-style blessing services for gay couples, and admitted they are deeply divided over the issues and are likely to remain so for years to come.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted January 30, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have written to the presidents of Nigeria and Uganda, after being asked about laws there penalising gay people.

The letter said homosexual people were loved and valued by God and should not be victimised or diminished.

Nigeria and Uganda have both passed legislation targeting people with same-sex attraction.

The letter is also addressed to all primates (heads of national Churches) in the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican PrimatesArchbishop of York John Sentamu* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologySexuality* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeriaUgandaEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted January 30, 2014 at 5:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There must be something legalistic in the human makeup, because cold, rigid, unambiguous, unparadoxical belief is common, especially considering how fervently the Scriptures oppose it.

And yet there is a silent majority who experience a faith that is attractively marked by combinations of fervor and doubt, clarity and confusion, empathy and moral demand.

For example, Audrey Assad is a Catholic songwriter with a crystalline voice and a sober intensity to her stage presence. (You can see her perform her song “I Shall Not Want” on YouTube.) She writes the sort of emotionally drenched music that helps people who are in crisis. A surprising number of women tell her they listened to her music while in labor.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & Culture* Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 30, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The fact is that in one moment, while Christians like me (and maybe like some of you) would be a bit cynical at the simplicity and, yes, the "hokeyness" of skywriting evangelism, potentially up to 133,000 people (using the average daily attendance of the four parks in the resort) actually discussed what it means to trust Jesus. That's something that should not be dismissed.

Now, skywriting is not the ultimate form of evangelism-- that takes feet and faces, not just billboards and signs. Personally, I'm more concerned that I share Christ with my neighbor than some sort of placard, billboard or flyer.

But at the end of the day, I was convicted that maybe those of us who call ourselves "missional" should be a little less cynical about Christians who are trying to get the message out in ways that we might deem cheesy or ineffective.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Theology

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Posted January 29, 2014 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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