Posted by Kendall Harmon

The hate that begins with Jews never ends with Jews. That is what I want us to understand today. It wasn’t Jews alone who suffered under Hitler. It wasn’t Jews alone who suffered under Stalin. It isn’t Jews alone who suffer under ISIS or Al Qaeda or Islamic Jihad. We make a great mistake if we think antisemitism is a threat only to Jews. It is a threat, first and foremost, to Europe and to the freedoms it took centuries to achieve.

Antisemitism is not about Jews. It is about anti-Semites. It is about people who cannot accept responsibility for their own failures and have instead to blame someone else. Historically, if you were a Christian at the time of the Crusades, or a German after the First World War, and saw that the world hadn’t turned out the way you believed it would, you blamed the Jews. That is what is happening today. And I cannot begin to say how dangerous it is. Not just to Jews but to everyone who values freedom, compassion and humanity.

The appearance of antisemitism in a culture is the first symptom of a disease, the early warning sign of collective breakdown. If Europe allows antisemitism to flourish, that will be the beginning of the end of Europe. And what I want to do in these brief remarks is simply to analyze a phenomenon full of vagueness and ambiguity, because we need precision and understanding to know what antisemitism is, why it happens, why antisemites are convinced that they are not antisemitic.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This past summer, three elderly members of my summer parish in rural Québec received a diagnosis of cancer at the local hospital, a small-town facility an hour’s drive from cosmopolitan Ottawa and even farther from hyper-secular Montréal. Yet after the diagnosis had been delivered, the first question each of these people was asked was “Do you wish to be euthanized?” That is what the new Canadian euthanasia regime has accomplished in just a few months: It has put euthanasia at the top of the menu of options proposed to the gravely ill.

Then there is Belgium, where, as reported in NR’s October 10 print issue, a minor was recently euthanized by lethal injection. You might think that, with the suburbs of Brussels having become the de facto capital of the ISIS caliphate (Euro-subdivision) and a birth rate so far below replacement level that native Belgians will soon be a rare anthropological specimen, the good burghers of Flanders and Wallonia would have something better to do than hasten the deaths of teenagers, even when the teenagers in their distress request just that. But if you thought that, then, as Richard Nixon famously said, “That would be wrong.”

The more apt mot about all of this lethality masquerading as compassion, however, is from the quotable quotes of another Richard, Richard John Neuhaus, who famously said of the morally egregious and its relationship to law, “What is permitted will eventually become obligatory.” Canada isn’t quite there yet, nor is Belgium; but they’re well on their way, not least because their single-payer health-care systems will increasingly find euthanasia cost-effective — and because the arts of pain relief combined with human support will atrophy in those countries as the “easy way out” becomes, well, easier and easier.

Read it all (emphasis his).

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Posted September 30, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was the one-two punch of cellphones and email that first pulled clergy into the social-media age, followed by digital newsletters, Facebook pages and constantly changing congregational websites. Even in small churches, the work of the "church secretary" has evolved, from answering the office telephone and preparing an ink-on-paper newsletter to serving as an all-purpose online networker.

"The old boundaries are vanishing and, for pastors in some parts of the country, they're almost completely gone," said Vaters, reached by telephone. "That mobile phone is always with you. … Once your church passes 200 members you have to manage things in a different way. You just can't afford to be as accessible to all those church members all of the time."

So what happens today when a member of a congregation rings the pastor's cellphone? Vaters recently addressed that question in a post at Christianity Today's Pivot blog for small-church leaders. The blunt headline: "Why Most Pastors Aren't Answering Your Phone Calls."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPastoral Care* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted September 28, 2016 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After writing Heaven, I heard many stories about the losses of loved ones. People were asking, “How can I be happy”—they probably wouldn’t use that word because it sounds so unspiritual—“when my seven-year-old has just died of leukemia?”

I began to think more and more of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, when he describes himself as “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Cor. 6:10). He doesn’t say “rejoicing, yet always sorrowful.” It’s rejoicing that’s the constant, even as this leaves plenty of room for sorrow and struggle.

Something would be terribly wrong if we weren’t grieving for this world and those who suffer. But is it okay to be happy when we live in a world of hurt? And beyond that, is it actually God’s calling? Because if God commands us to rejoice, he must empower us to rejoice. He must want us to be happy. That’s what got me interested in God’s happiness. Is God happy? Can he be happy when he sees so much sin in the world, when he knows what his Son endured on his behalf, when he sees the persecution of his people? Can we?

Clearly, the answer is yes.

Read it all.

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Posted September 28, 2016 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

My country’s parliament recently passed the first national assisted-suicide legislation in our history. Prompted by the Supreme Court of Canada’s unanimous decision last year to strike down the previous law as unconstitutionally restricting individual rights to life, liberty, and security, Parliament is now arguing over how widely or narrowly to involve Canadian citizens—both patients and health care providers—in assisted suicide.

In Culture of Death, first published in 2000, American lawyer and activist Wesley J. Smith warned that this debate was upon us. A new, updated revision of the book sharpens this warning, drawing on a wide range of cases in Belgium, the Netherlands, Canada, and the bellwether states of Oregon and Washington.

Read it all.

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Posted September 27, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When I was growing up in the ’60s and early ’70s, conservatives were the enforcers of conformity. It was the right that was suspicious, sniffing out Communists and scrutinizing public figures for signs of sedition.

Now the role of oppressor has passed to the left. In Australia, where I spoke, Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act makes it unlawful to do or say anything likely to “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate,” providing alarming latitude in the restriction of free speech. It is Australia’s conservatives arguing for the amendment of this law.

As a lifelong Democratic voter, I’m dismayed by the radical left’s ever-growing list of dos and don’ts — by its impulse to control, to instill self-censorship as well as to promote real censorship, and to deploy sensitivity as an excuse to be brutally insensitive to any perceived enemy. There are many people who see these frenzies about cultural appropriation, trigger warnings, micro-aggressions and safe spaces as overtly crazy. The shrill tyranny of the left helps to push them toward Donald Trump.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMulticulturalism, pluralismPhilosophyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 26, 2016 at 3:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Now we have come full circle. It was widely reported on Saturday that a terminally ill 17-year-old became the first minor to be officially euthanized in Belgium since age restrictions on euthanasia were lifted in 2014. Jacqueline Herremans, a member of Belgium’s federal euthanasia commission (death panel?), said in a French media report, “The euthanasia has taken place.” She further announced that the euthanasia was done “in accordance with Belgian law.” Few details were provided other than the minor child had “a terminal illness.” Belgium is presently the only country in the world that allows terminally-ill children of any age to choose to end their life, but Belgian law requires that the minor be capable of making “rational decisions.” Further, any request for euthanasia must be made by the minor, be studied by a team of doctors, approved by an independent psychiatrist or psychologist, and have parental consent. The only thing missing is the 1,700 special courts and 27 higher courts to give their legal authorization . . . always within the law, of course. The Netherlands also allows mercy killings for children, but only for those aged over 12. Lord, have mercy!

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychologyTeens / Youth* International News & CommentaryEuropeBelgium* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 26, 2016 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Rachel Treweek, the bishop of Gloucester, has said she is highlighting the issue of body image among children to challenge perceptions that physical appearance determines self-worth.

[Last week]...Treweek – the first female bishop to sit in the House of Lords – will visit All Saints Academy in Cheltenham to talk to a group of 13- to 16-year-olds in the first of a series of school visits in her constituency to discuss the issue.

It follows a report from the Children’s Society last month that found one out of three girls aged 10 to 15 was unhappy with her appearance and felt ugly or worthless.

Read it all from the Guardian.

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Posted September 26, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A book I begrudgingly appreciate is The Meaning of Marriage, by Timothy Keller. Keller is not my theological cup of tea. He embraces traditional gender roles and rejects same-sex marriage, and these points are not marginal to his arguments. They are central to his take on the whole institution of marriage. So while I longed to write him off on principle, I found myself nevertheless affirming a great deal of what I read, particularly his take on premarital sex.
One of the reasons we believe in our culture that sex should always and only be the result of great passion is that so many people today have learned how to have sex outside of marriage, and this is a very different experience than having sex inside it. Outside of marriage, sex is accompanied by a desire to impress or entice someone. It is something like the thrill of the hunt. When you are seeking to draw in someone you don’t know, it injects risk, uncertainty, and pressure to the lovemaking that quickens the heartbeat and stirs the emotions.
Many will roll their eyes at this blanket statement. After all, according to Keller, he and his wife were virgins on their wedding night. What does he actually know about what it’s like to have sex before marriage? Surely this is a reductive blanket assessment of casual or committed-but-not-married sex. There are undoubtedly a wide variety of ways to experience unmarried sex. But for me? Yeah. The shoe fits. I can see it now. My relationships with boyfriends were devoid of any true intimacy. Sure, on rare occasions the sex was great—but it was never truly good.

The contrast between unmarried and married sex is significant. The covenant of marriage—the vows to love now and forever—changes everything. It just does.

Read it all (emphasis hers).

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England will see the number of traditional clergy drop by 15 per cent in just 20 years unless it dramatically increases ordinations over the next decade, new figures show.

While falling numbers in the pews have attracted headlines in recent years, senior clerics are also concerned about a separate looming decline - in the pulpit.

Bishops fear a fall in the number of priests could make the task of reversing declining congregations by winning new converts more difficult than ever.

Read it all.

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Posted September 21, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I meet all sorts in my job. You might say it’s a broad church. A few weeks back I was on another shoot when, during a break, the talk got around to religion. In these interesting times, it often does.

Eventually someone mentioned “believing in the sky fairy”, and there was general approval, a bit of laughter. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t much fussed. Generally speaking I’m in favour of a secular society, one without a state-sanctioned religion and where everyone minds a polite responsibility to go quietly about their business and not bother the neighbours with strongly held opinions on the matter of belief.

The sky fairy comment, as it happens, was in response to a general point someone made about the Anglican church — and this sort of thing is absolutely commonplace. Remembering to treat Christianity with unbridled contempt is an entry-level requirement for most modern conversations about religion in Britain.

Read it all from Neil Oliver (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchMulticulturalism, pluralismPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 20, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

McAllister is adamant that taking drugs to end her life would not be suicide. “In suicide,” she says, “you’re choosing between life and death. With the End of Life Option Act, you’re choosing the time and manner of your death, knowing that it is inevitably coming within a short period of time. The law allows you to have a little bit of control over when, where, and how.” She would rather die at home, with an opportunity to say goodbye to family and friends, than in a hospital.

Advocates of right-to-die laws say control, or at least the sense of it, is important to the terminally ill. What people seem to want is the comfort of knowing that they have a way out if pain becomes unbearable or their condition deteriorates too far....

Professor Robert George, who has written extensively on philosophy and ethics, argues that statutes such as California’s diminish respect for the sanctity of life. “Opposition to medicalized killing” is “grounded in a recognition of ... the idea that no one has ‘a life unworthy of life,’ or is ‘better off dead’ or a ‘useless eater,’ ” he writes in an email. “It reflects the belief that nothing should be done that gives credit to or encourages the adoption of these beliefs, even by those suffering pain and tempted to despair.” George rebuts those who argue that individuals should be free to determine their own fates, calling medical assistance in dying “a policy question that implicates many aspects of the common good of our civil society and legal order.” Many who end their lives, he says, are driven by fear and depression. He urges that people facing terminal illness be provided with palliative care and counseling to help make their last months comfortable and peaceful.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted September 13, 2016 at 3:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon


Iain McGilchrist - Depression and the Depths of Hell from Regent College on Vimeo.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted September 13, 2016 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Six months later, police knocked on the door of the Di Nardo family home in Westchester, New York. They carried Marisa’s charred, black purse. Inside was a receipt from the Sept. 10 dinner. She was one of 2,606 people killed by the terrorists who struck the Twin Towers. The purse was all the tangible evidence Marisa’s family had of her passing.

For close to 15 years, Harley buried his grief and avoided thinking about his sister in the doomed tower. It was too painful, he said....

Marisa’s 2002 memorial service was the last time Harley reflected on his sister’s death, he said, until he, his wife and two young children moved to California last year.

His son and daughter asked about their aunt, and Harley found himself wishing he knew more about her last day.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychologyUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted September 11, 2016 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The courage to name and shame chronic liars—and stop giving them a stage—is hard to come by in a competitive marketplace the economic basis of which is crumbling. Gatekeeping power will always bring with it a temptation for abuse—and it will take a long time for people to come to believe that temptation can be resisted even if it is.

But if old media will be hard put to get a new grip on the gates, the new ones that have emerged so far do not inspire much confidence as an alternative. Facebook (which now has more than 1.7 billion monthly users worldwide) and other social networks do not see themselves as media companies, which implies a degree of journalistic responsibility, but as tech firms powered by algorithms. And putting artificial intelligence in charge may be a recipe for disaster: when Facebook recently moved to automate its “trending” news section, it promoted a fake news story which claimed that Fox News had fired an anchor, Megyn Kelly, for being a “traitor”.

And then there is Mr Trump, whose Twitter following of over 11m makes him a gatekeeper of a sort in his own right. His moment of truth may well come on election day; the odds are that he will lose. If he does so, however, he will probably claim that the election was rigged—thus undermining democracy yet further. And although his campaign denies it, reports have multiplied recently that he is thinking about creating a “mini-media conglomerate”, a cross of Fox and Breitbart News, to make money from the political base he has created. Whatever Mr Trump comes up with next, with or without him in the White House, post-truth politics will be with us for some time to come.

Read it all.

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

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Posted September 10, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Younger Americans are way more optimistic than older ones.

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From the official Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination’s Gender Identity Guidance, just released last week:

Even a church could be seen as a place of public accommodation if it holds a secular event, such as a spaghetti supper, that is open to the general public.

Now, churches hold events “open to the general public” all the time — it’s often how they seek new converts. And even church “secular events,” which I take it means events that don’t involve overt worship, are generally viewed by the church as part of its ministry, and certainly as a means of the church modeling what it believes to be religiously sound behavior.

Read it all from Euguene Volokh at the Washington Post.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMulticulturalism, pluralismPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 8, 2016 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Recently I had a surreally disquieting experience. Someone had randomly posted up a photograph of girls in school uniform on my school’s Old Girls’ Facebook page (this school used to be a convent boarding school but is now a girls’ Catholic day school). Above the photo was a caption referring to private schools having to face up to new transgender issues.

I added a one-line comment, saying I hoped that such schools would not give in to political correctness on this matter. There were instant strong objections to my remark. So I added a couple of paragraphs, explaining why Christians follow history, the Bible, biology and common sense on sex and gender and recommending a couple of books. This led to an irrational and angry response on the part of several commentators who demanded that the thread be closed immediately. It was.

I thought of this incident when reading Gabriele Kuby’s book, The Global Sexual Revolution: Destruction of Freedom in the Name of Freedom, recently republished from the German by Angelico Press. Her book, as its title suggests, carefully explains, with the aid of much research and citing many telling statistics, just why western society (it doesn’t apply to the rest of the world) has moved in recent decades from militant feminism to the destruction of marriage and now to an aggressive push for “gender ideology” and the right to “choose” your sex.

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 NetworkingHistoryMarriage & FamilyMenPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyWomen* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

David Ison, the dean of St Paul’s, who was also involved in gathering signatures for the letter, said the status quo was not an option. “I believe that there’s a growing consciousness across the church that our response to lay and ordained LGBTI Christians cannot stay as it is. We need far greater honesty and transparency with one another, and to ensure that all LGBTI people are welcomed and affirmed by a church called to share the redeeming love of Christ with all.”

Responding to the letter, Nicholas Holtam, the bishop of Salisbury, said: “It is not surprising that the bishops are receiving letters from all sides in advance of our meeting next week. We are in a long process, seeking the way forward together. This letter is encouraging of that process, both in content and the number of signatories. It is a very welcome and supportive contribution.”

Paul Bayes, the bishop of Liverpool, said he was glad to receive the letter. “It was especially good to recognise the signatures of synod colleagues from many of the different traditions that make up our richly diverse church,” he said.

Read it all.

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

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Posted September 8, 2016 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We hope that this will be with the sense of urgency and sensitivity that so many of us expressed within Synod. In particular, we pray it will continue to develop the new “relational approach” that has enabled us to bridge our sometimes unhelpful “tribal divides”.

Whilst not wishing to pre-empt the work of the College of Bishops, we would ask that the steps that are proposed create greater clarity and consistency in our approach to this complex issue. In particular, we are keen that the College of Bishops is unequivocal in its acknowledgement that all, including those who identify as LGBTI, are essential to the health and future of our church and mission to the wider world.

Read it all and see the list of signatories there.

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

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Posted September 8, 2016 at 5:38 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On Wednesday, August 17, the Wyoming Supreme Court heard a case that has huge implications for each and every one of us.

The case involves Judge Ruth Neely, who has served with distinction for twenty-one years as the municipal judge in Pinedale, Wyoming. Since municipalities have no authority either to issue a license or solemnize a marriage, you would think that she’s unaffected by all the hoopla over same-sex marriage. But you would be mistaken. Because of her beliefs about marriage, the Wyoming Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics (CJCE) wants to remove her from her job and disqualify her for service anywhere in the Wyoming judiciary.

The story began on a cold Saturday morning in December 2014. Shortly after the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals declared Wyoming marriage statutes unconstitutional, a reporter from the Sublette Examiner called Judge Neely to ask if she was “excited” to perform same-sex marriages. It was only because she had accepted a part-time job as a circuit court magistrate that this question had any relevance at all. In that unpaid position, she was authorized, but not obligated, to solemnize marriages. She gave a perfectly reasonable reply. She said that if she were ever asked, she would help the couple find someone to do the job. However, she would “not be able to do” it herself.

Based on this solitary exchange about a hypothetical scenario, the commission has been waging what they call a “holy war” against her for more than a year. They are not content to send her a letter clarifying what she should have done, nor even a letter of reprimand. Instead, they are leveling the greatest possible punishment allowable by law—and the implications of their arguments are chilling.

Read it all.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Check them all out.

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

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Posted September 7, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It would be good, at this time, for us traditionalists to remind ourselves that Bishop Chamberlain’s commitment to his partner most likely involves the kinds of virtues traditional Christians have long celebrated between people of the same sex: loyalty, comradeship, kindness, and a host of others. The fact that the bishop practices these virtues while experiencing himself as same-sex attracted is no proof that those virtues are thereby diminished. And it is also no proof that he is living a so-called double life.

But maybe I could also say something about what I find myself wishing Bishop Chamberlain might say publicly someday. I find myself thinking about something another Englishman, Martin Hallett, wrote several years ago:

There are probably nearly as many Christians with homosexual feelings who do not believe that homosexual sex is right for Christians as there are those who are advocating its acceptance…. A friend of mine in Sweden (Erik) is a Lutheran priest who believes in the traditional biblical teaching on sexuality and has homosexual feelings himself. He determined, from the beginning of his call to the ordained ministry, that he would be open about his sexuality at every stage…. Ultimately, as more evangelicals make such a public stand, it will seem less costly and will, I believe, have a tremendous impact for the kingdom of God…. [I want to] encourage those leaders in the church who have homosexual feelings but who believe homosexual sex is wrong to be more open. People like Erik… are not a tiny minority in terms of all homosexuals in the church…. I wish their voices could be heard saying that “We believe our homosexuality is part of our value and giftedness to the church, but homosexual sex is a sin.” What a difference this would make to the life, witness, and future of the body of Christ.

What a difference indeed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 7, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Is the idea of being in a celibate relationship possible or helpful? Jayne Ozanne argues vehemently that it is not possible to define or distinguish a sexual from a non-sexual relationships, since no-one can give here a list of things that you can and cannot do in either situation. (In fact, Sean Doherty has offered an answer to that question.) But that is a nonsense position; there is no end of situations where two people are required not to be in a sexual relationship, including a school teacher and pupil, or a professor and undergraduate student. Is it really the case that all such limitations are meaningless? This is the ethical situation of the hair and the beard: suppose (for health and safety reasons) an employee is required not to have a beard. How many whiskers are actually allowed before this constitutes a beard? If I don’t shave for a day, am I contravening this? Or two days? or three? There is no objective answer—subjective judgement is required—but this does not make the regulation meaningless.

Gavin Ashenden argues online and on the radio that Nick Chamberlain’s appointment is very unhelpful. I do like the way he starts the broadcast with a personal expression of support and sympathy for Chamberlain, and that he immediately goes on to agree that the appointment, in principle, is perfectly reasonable, and has clear historic precedent. But he then goes on to criticise Chamberlain’s use of the word ‘gay’, as buying into a sub-Christian and mistaken anthropology which defines us by our sexuality. I disagree with Gavin here, since Chamberlain says very clearly to the Guardian and his sexuality is only part of who he is, and he would much rather talk about ministry. It is notable that he makes no comment along that lines that he wants the Church to change its position.

Then of course there is the intervention by Peter Jensen from Sydney in the name of GAFCON. I don’t really understand why Jensen believes he has a brief to comment on affairs in the C of E; I have never taken it on myself to pronounce on the way he leads his diocese. The letter notes that the appointment is in line with the current position of the Church—but still thinks the appointment is a ‘major error.’ That doesn’t really make sense. What I think he intends to say is that the Church’s current position is a major error. The objection is to ‘same-sex relationships which are not sexual.’ The difficulty here is that I am in a number of same-sex relationships which are not sexual; I call them my friends, and Nick Chamberlain appears to be doing the same. It was interesting to note that, in his interview on Radio 4’s Sunday programme yesterday, he underplayed it as an ‘exclusive’ relationship, saying of his friend that ‘he, amongst many others, helps me stay sane.’

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In Britain and the United States, roughly one in three people older than 65 live alone, and in the United States, half of those older than 85 live alone. Studies in both countries show the prevalence of loneliness among people older than 60 ranging from 10 percent to 46 percent.

While the public, private and volunteer sectors in Britain are mobilizing to address loneliness, researchers are deepening their understanding of its biological underpinnings. In a paper published earlier this year in the journal Cell, neuroscientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology identified a region of the brain they believe generates feelings of loneliness. The region, known as the dorsal raphe nucleus, or D.R.N., is best known for its link to depression.

Kay M. Tye and her colleagues found that when mice were housed together, dopamine neurons in the D.R.N. were relatively inactive. But after the mice were isolated for a short period, the activity in those neurons surged when those mice were reunited with other mice.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicinePsychology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 7, 2016 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But the law left critics, including some Christian lawmakers, embittered, warning that it will maintain Christian's second-class status. The Coptic Orthodox Church, to which most Egyptian Christians belong, had at first opposed the bill but later backed it—and critics say it bent to heavy government pressure.

Under the law passed Tuesday, Christians must apply to the local provincial governor when they want to build a church.

The law stipulates that the size of the church must be "appropriate" to the number of Christians in the area. According to an official supplement to the law, the governor should also take into account "the preservation of security and public order" when considering the application.

The law "empowers the majority to decide whether the minority has the right to hold their religious practices," said Ishaq Ibrahim, a top researcher in the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At what point would I rather die?

It has been about two months since the terrorist attack at the Holey Artisan Bakery that led to the deaths of 20 people in my hometown, Dhaka, Bangladesh. By all accounts, the city — at least the part of the city where the attack took place, and where I have lived for the last two decades — is irrevocably changed. There are checkpoints all over the neighborhood; many restaurants and cafes have been shut down; foreigners are sending their families home and schools are yet to reopen. In the evening, the streets are quiet and sad.

But there is an abundance of talk. Everyone is still talking about the incident, playing it over and over in conversation, airing the accounts that have emerged from that night. One story in particular has transfixed everyone: According to some reports, there were two types of victims — the foreigners who were killed immediately by the terrorists, and the Bangladeshis who were murdered later when they refused to acquiesce to the demands of their captors....

Read it all.



Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchBooksPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAsiaBangladesh* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted September 1, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The greatest force to remold evangelicalism may be psychotherapism. In the past, many evangelical institutions slammed the door shut on humanistic theological liberalism. Ironically, they then let the same way of thinking in by the back door, in the shape of humanistic psychology. As early as 1993, in No Place for Truth, David Wells lamented the ascendency of psychology over theology in evangelical seminaries, where counseling courses and psychology-based programs had already become more popular than theology.

Evangelical institutions largely abandoned an emphasis on Bible exposition, doctrine, and moral living in favor of promoting therapy for practical problems and emphasizing self-actualization. The result of all this has been the proliferation of mega-church and mega-media personality cults, where the message frequently contains more psychobabble than Bible. The charismatic leaders piloting these institutions are often poor at explaining scripture and doctrine.

However, by jumping on the psychotherapeutic bandwagon, evangelical organizations made a grave mistake. Many popular psychotherapeutic concepts, such as self-esteem and repressed memory, have been discredited by contemporary psychological research. If evangelicals had held fast to traditional, scriptural notions like inborn human depravity, they would now be in the strong position of being able to say "I told you so." Instead, evangelical institutions have become havens for debunked pseudoscience. Moreover, the therapeutic orientation has encouraged the current epidemic of religious narcissism.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

0 Comments
Posted August 31, 2016 at 11:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Authorities in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang have banned all forms of religious activity in hospitals in an ongoing crackdown targeting the region's burgeoning Protestant Christian community.

A public notice posted at the Central Hospital in Zhejiang's Wenzhou, a city that has been dubbed "China's Jerusalem" because of its high concentration of Christians, made patients and their visitors unequivocally aware of the new rules this week.

"Religious activities are banned in this hospital," the notice said. The Wenzhou Central Hospital was originally set up as a Protestant hospital.

An employee who answered the phone at the same hospital...confirmed the new measures.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina

3 Comments
Posted August 28, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A growing share of children live apart from one of their parents before reaching adulthood. Many policymakers are concerned about the welfare of these children who (partly) grow up in single-parent households. Numerous papers in various social science disciplines document a strong negative empirical association between parental divorce and a wide range of children’s outcomes. This general relationship is highly persistent, leaving the children of divorced parents economically and emotionally worse off, even in adulthood. Most scholars are aware that it is not clear to what degree this relationship is causal (see, e.g., Manski et al 1992, Painter and Levine 2000, Amato 2010, Bhrolcháin 2013, Gähler and Palmtag 2015). A number of confounding factors that provoke parental divorce – for example, emotional stress or parenting disputes – may also be detrimental to children’s outcomes.

In a new paper, we analyse various outcomes for children who experienced parental divorce (Frimmel et al. 2016).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 28, 2016 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“It’s a moral dilemma,” [Caitlin] Swieca said. “There’s definitely two conflicted feelings: the feeling of wanting to just watch a game and not let the domestic violence thing bother you, and the feeling of not wanting to let the domestic violence issue just fade into the background.”

Swieca tried to make peace with that conflict shortly after Chapman’s arrival with a simple act: She pledged on Twitter that each time Chapman recorded a save, she would donate $10 to an organization that aids domestic violence victims. At least then, Swieca said, she might feel better about Chapman’s helping the team.

She soon found out she was not alone. The Domestic Violence Legal Clinic has worked with Swieca, promoting the hashtag #pitchin4DV and an accompanying Twitter account, for which pledges totaling $5,100 have trickled in from around the country to groups supporting domestic violence victims.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyMenPsychologySexualityViolenceWomen* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 28, 2016 at 12:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bernard Smith spent 22 days face-to-face with death. The stench surrounded him as bodies of men, both young and old, were carted into a mortuary for him to process in Saigon during the Vietnam War.

Smith, 77, of Myrtle Beach, survived the war that took the lives of more than 50,000 Americans, but he is still haunted by hundreds of those souls.

“In the middle of the night, I would scream sometimes,” he said about the nightmares that he still has to this day. “One night, the Grim Reaper appeared in my dream and looked right at me and turned and said, ‘You’re next.’”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

About half of U.S. adults have looked for a new religious congregation at some point in their lives, most commonly because they have moved. And when they search for a new house of worship, a new Pew Research Center study shows, Americans look first and foremost for a place where they like the preaching and the tone set by the congregation’s leaders.

Fully 83% of Americans who have looked for a new place of worship say the quality of preaching played an important role in their choice of congregation. Nearly as many say it was important to feel welcomed by clergy and lay leaders, and about three-quarters say the style of worship services influenced their decision about which congregation to join. Location also factored prominently in many people’s choice of congregation, with seven-in-ten saying it was an important factor. Smaller numbers cite the quality of children’s programs, having friends or family in the congregation or the availability of volunteering opportunities as key to their decision.

Perhaps as a result of the value they place on good sermons, church leadership and the style of worship services, many people – even in this age of technology – find there is no substitute for face-to-face interaction when seeking information about a new religious home.

Read it carefully and read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the OrdainedPastoral CarePreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 25, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Read it all (my emphasis).

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One of the 40 million copies sold of The Purpose Driven Life ended up in the large, paddle-like hands of Michael Phelps.

In between winning Olympic golds, Phelps made headlines for very different reasons: repeated DUIs, parties and pot, weight gain and rehab. A couple of years ago, fellow athlete and friend Ray Lewis (aka “God’s linebacker”) gave the champion swimmer Rick Warren’s bestseller.

“I basically told him, ‘Okay, everything has a purpose, and now, guess what? It’s time to wake up,’” the former Baltimore Raven said in The Washington Post.

In an ESPN special, Phelps said the book “turned me into believing that there is a power greater than myself and there is a purpose for me on this planet” and “helped me when I was in a place that I needed the most help.” It spurred him to reconcile with his dad.

Read it all from Christianity Today.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHealth & MedicineMovies & TelevisionPsychologyRace/Race RelationsSports* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 13, 2016 at 1:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Bailey, 78, told me that he feels duped.

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all (my emphasis).

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

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


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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An Anligcan mission agency has conceded that its experiment with ambiguity has not succeeded. The Us announced that it would change its name back to the USPG.

In a statement last week the Us said that a marketing study found that “while our partners in Britain and Ireland and around the world greatly appreciated the energy, values and practical work embodied in the Us brand, many remained saddened that we were no longer referring to the gospel in our name.”

It would revert to its former initials, USPG, but the letters would now stand for United Society Partners in the Gospel.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeMissions* Culture-WatchHistoryPsychology* Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all (requires subscription).

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A line has been crossed in Turkey. You had people who were standing up to the military, but once they stopped the soldiers, they didn’t stop themselves. They lost control. And now they feel they can do whatever they want.

This happened in Istanbul, not in Aleppo. In Aleppo, there is no law, there are no rules, there is anarchy. We’re still in Turkey here. You’re a democracy fighter, you have stopped the army, that’s fine. But once you stop the army, once the soldiers give up, you stop and you tell the world, look what we have done. And they didn’t.

I couldn’t sleep last night. I am preparing for anything. It’s not easy for me. This is my home. I shoot conflicts in other countries and then I come back home. But now I’m preparing for anything to happen in my home.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPsychology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeTurkey* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 22, 2016 at 6:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 21, 2016 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...that is precisely the allure of today's social media: by enlarging our impersonal connections, it seems to free us from those closer, trickier, more personal ones. It lets us choose who we follow, rather than forcing us to have to find a way to live together. It is a fresh manifestation that, as the writer G.K. Chesterton warned, "A big society exists in order to form cliques. A big society is a society for the promotion of narrowness."

I shut down social media because I needed to shut out online distractions and engage with the people, issues, and work right in front of me.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England's "Shared Conversations" program to resolve its divide over the moral and doctrinal issues surrounding the new thinking on homosexuality have failed to take the testimony of Scripture seriously, 32 members of the 1990 Group of General Synod said in a letter sent to the College of Bishops on 17 July 2016. While progressive members of Synod have applauded the facilitated conversations on the new ethics, seeing them as a fair representation of their views, traditionalists have been less sanguine. Some members of Synod boycotted the talks stating that it proceeded from the faulty assumption that the new ethic had equal moral and intellectual value as the church's traditional teachings. Others who participated in the discussions noted it was unbalanced, with a preponderance of "experts" offering progressive views, or putting forward arguments that had long been discredited by scholars and theologians. Questions about the funding of the process have been raised, as some have observed that two members of the staff of Coventry Cathedral's reconcillation center, who led the program, have their stipends paid by the Episcopal Church. Not disclosing these interests would be akin to an employee of Shell Oil addressing General Synod on climate change without stating his personal interest in the issue.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 21, 2016 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The recent failed coup attempt in Turkey raises lots of questions, most of which are well beyond the scope of this blog. However, there are two matters that are very much our concern: freedom of thought, conscience and religion and the more general issue of the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeTurkey* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 20, 2016 at 5:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Throughout his life, Franklin – now 50 and living in Portland, Oregon – has never chosen one. In fact, he’s never had a monogamous relationship in his life, even while he was married for 18 years. “Monogamy has never connected with me, it’s never made sense to me,” said Franklin, who took two dates to his high school prom and lost his virginity in a threesome.

Yet it wasn’t until the 1990’s that he found the language to describe his lifestyle. Until then, he just considered himself “open”.

Polyamory is the practice of intimate relationships involving more than two people with the consent of everyone involved. In recent years, polyamory is working its way to becoming a household term. Researchers have estimated that 4 to 5% of Americans practice some form of consensual non-monogamy. A 2014 blog post by Psychology Today revealed that 9.8 million people have agreed to allow satellite lovers in their relationships, which includes poly couples, swinging couples and others practicing sexual non-monogamy.

And in Portland – home to swingers’ clubs, the most strip bars per capita, and annual porn festivals – it seems you can’t throw a stone without finding a poly relationship.

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenPsychologySexuality--PolyamoryUrban/City Life and IssuesWomen* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted July 19, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Now that he is dead — killed by police minutes after the rampage he carried out on his 29th birthday — much of what is known about Long comes from his vast online trail, where he fashioned himself as a lifestyle guru and activist with fans who were aching to know his life story.

As racial tensions escalated nationwide with the police shootings of black men this month in Louisiana and Minnesota, and the killings of five police officers in Dallas, Long's messages grew more pointed.

“I’m not gonna harp on that, you know, with a brother killing the police,” Long said in a video uploaded the day after the Dallas shootings. “You get what I’m saying?”

“It’s justice,” he said. In the same video, he seemed to hint at his own plans: If “anything happens to me … don't affiliate me with anybody.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FirePsychologyRace/Race RelationsViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 19, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In his late twenties, Trump began attending Marble Collegiate Church on Fifth Avenue. Founded in 1628 in the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, Marble Collegiate is one of the few institutions that survives from the city’s founding. Peter Minuit, the governor of New Amsterdam, was the first church elder, and Peter Stuyvesant, the colony’s director general, led worshippers to service every Sunday. The high steeple of its current home, erected in 1854, rises two hundred feet above the pavement, a symbol of uprightness set in stone. Here Trump walked down the aisle after exchanging vows with Ivana and heard the sermons of Norman Vincent Peale, a man whose philosophy would become Trump’s own.

When Trump met him, Peale was already famous as the author of The Power of Positive Thinking, a book that would go on to sell some five million copies. Peale occupied a position at the center of the establishment, though this standing was endangered in 1960, when he joined a group of 150 Protestant pastors, including Billy Graham, that wanted to keep Kennedy out of the White House. The group issued a manifesto asking whether a Catholic could be trusted as president when Rome had shown such “determined efforts . . . to breach the wall of separation of church and state.” Peale led the public presentation of the document and faced an immediate backlash from Union Theological Seminary’s Reinhold Niebuhr and John Bennett, who accused him of “blind prejudice.” The embarrassed Peale apologized and from then on sought to distance his teaching from the harsh realities of politics.

Before Trump made his own foray into politics, he read Peale’s book and adopted its program of “positive thinking.” The two men began to trade public compliments. Peale, always generous in his assessments of human nature, said that Trump had a “profound streak of honest humility.” Trump, not exactly showing that humble streak, said that Peale “thought I was his greatest student of all time.” In a certain sense, Trump was right. Peale has had no more perfect disciple.

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted July 18, 2016 at 2:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The church’s executive pastors met with Noble “over the course of several months” to discuss their concerns about his dependence on alcohol, which eventually resulted in his removal.
“In my opinion, the bible (sic) does not prohibit the use of alcohol, but it does prohibit drunkenness and intoxication,” Noble wrote to his congregation of 18 years. “I never had a problem drinking alcohol socially, but in the past year or so I have allowed myself to slide into, in my opinion, the overuse of alcohol.
“This was a spiritual and moral mistake on my part,” Noble wrote, “as I began to depend on alcohol for my refuge instead of Jesus and others.”
Noble’s addiction—and his church’s concern—are not new. Nearly one in five pastors report that they have struggled with addiction to alcohol or prescription drugs, according to a 2013 survey by Barna Group.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchAlcoholismHealth & MedicinePsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 18, 2016 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The worst plenary session of all was the first one, and it was very telling that what many view as the most important theological question—what does Scripture say and how should we make sense of it—was the one most badly misjudged. I don’t think it is an exaggeration to describe it as an absolute travesty of process. There were three speakers, one of whom supports the current teaching position of the Church, the other two arguing for change. The first person stayed within the brief, and spoke for seven to eight minutes; the second appeared to ignore the brief and spoke for 17 minutes, without intervention from the chair; the third spoke for 12 minutes. So we were offered 8 minutes on the Church’s current and historic teaching, and 29 minutes on why this was wrong. And the dynamic of putting the ‘orthodox’ position first meant that, as in all such debates, the advantage is handed to the others. Added to that, the first speaker, whilst eminently qualified in other ways, was not a biblical scholar, whilst the next one advocating change was. There was no voice from a Catholic perspective, engaging with the reception of Scripture within the tradition, and the ‘orthodox’ view was repeatedly labelled not as the Church’s teaching, but as ‘conservative’.

Even worse than that was the content of the second and third presentations, and the way the format prevented proper interrogation of the claims made. It was claimed that the givenness of sexual orientation is the settled view of Western culture, when it is contested both within and outside the church, is not supported by social-scientific research, and has been abandoned as a basis of argument in secular LGBT+ debate. It was claimed that all the texts in the NT referring to same-sex activity are in the context of porneia, ‘bad sex’, which was either commercial or abusive—which is a basic factual error. It was claimed that St Paul ‘could not have known of stable same-sex relations’ which is not supported by the historical facts. And it was claimed that same-sex relationships were the ‘eschatological fulfilment of Christian marriage’ since they involved loving commitment without procreation. It was not even acknowledged that many in the chamber would find that a deeply offensive assertion, quite apart from its implausibility. But the format of the presentation precluded proper exploration of these authoritative claims. It felt to me like a serious power play, and I felt I had been subject to an abuse of expert power.

All this was made worse when one of the key organisers, having picked up some negative feedback on this, stood up near the end of the day to tell us (in essence) that if you thought this first session was unbalanced, then you were wrong. It confirmed a basic lack of understanding of the concerns raised by those responsible for the process—concerns not of some extreme group at one end of the spectrum, but concerns of those who simply believe in the Church’s current teaching position.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 16, 2016 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 12, 2016 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A passionate debate on whether the Anglican Church of Canada should bless same-sex marriages came to a head Monday when delegates to their triennial conference voted against authorizing such unions.

More than 200 delegates to the church's six-day General Synod just north of Toronto rejected the resolution after speakers lined up to make their points, with most speaking in favour of the resolution.

In order to pass, the resolution required two-thirds support from each of three orders — lay, clergy and bishops.

The bishops voted 68.42 per cent in favour of the resolution, and the lay delegates voted 72.22 per cent in favour. However, the clergy voted 66.23 per cent, just missing the percentage needed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“It is always dangerous to draw too precise parallels between one historical period and another; and among the most misleading of such parallels are those which have been drawn between our own age in Europe and North America and the epoch in which the Roman Empire declined into the Dark Ages. None the less certain parallels there are. A crucial turning point in that earlier history occurred when men and women of good will turned aside from the task of shoring up the Roman imperium and ceased to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of that imperium. What they set themselves to achieve instead—often not recognising fully what they were doing—was the construction of new forms of community within which the moral life could be sustained so that both morality and civility might survive the coming ages of barbarism and darkness. If my account of our moral condition is correct [one characterized by moral incoherence and unsettlable moral disputes in the modern world], we ought to conclude that for some time now we too have reached that turning point. What matters at this stage is the construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages which are already upon us. And if the tradition of the virtues was able to survive the horrors of the last dark ages, we are not entirely without grounds for hope. This time however the barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; they have already been governing us for quite some time. And it is our lack of consciousness of this that constitutes part of our predicament. We are waiting not for a Godot, but for another—doubtless very different—St. Benedict.”
--Alisdair MacIntyre, After Virtue (Terre Haute, Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 3rd. ed., 2007), p. 263

Update: Peter Leithardt's comments on this are also worth pondering:
"The turning point, he says, occurred with a renunciation of the “task of shoring up the Roman imperium,” which required “men and women of good will” to begin to distinguish between sustaining moral community and maintaining the empire. Roman civilization was no longer seen as synonymous with civilization itself. Mutatis muntandis, this is the intellectual and practical transformation that has to take place before we can begin to construct “local forms of community” for the flourishing of civility and intellectual life. We need to acknowledge that our task isn't to shore up America, or the West, or whatever. If we promote local communities of virtue as a tactic for shoring up the imperium, we haven't really grasped MacIntyre's point, or the depth of the crisis he described.

That renunciation is as emotionally difficult as the project of forming local communities is practically difficult."


Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryMarriage & FamilyPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureSociology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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


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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

However, participants were more hesitant when it came to questions about their own children cohabiting before marriage. Forty-four percent of participants said they would be OK with their child cohabiting, similar to 40 percent who said it would not be OK.

According to a recent Deseret News report an analysis by the Census Bureau data found cohabitation has doubled in the past 25 years, noting that from 2011 to 2013 nearly two-thirds of of women ages 19-44 had lived with a partner outside of marriage.

“America is well beyond the tipping point when it comes to cohabitation,” Roxanne Stone, editor in chief at Barna Group, stated in the report of the survey. “Living together before marriage is no longer an exception, but instead has become an accepted and expected milestone of adulthood."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyMenPsychologyReligion & CultureSexualitySociologyWomenYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 9, 2016 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What does Lamentations offer us today?

There are people who are, at this moment, seeing murder, rape, the loss of homes and loved ones, and the destruction of holy places. For them, Lamentations describes reality. We can and should lament with them.

Lamentations, as O’Connor says, provides a bottle for the tears of the world. We cry out to God for those who suffer so terribly from the effects of sin and evil and sheer folly: in wars, racial conflicts, and all manner of injustice and oppression. Lamentations holds up to God the sheer horror of what this suffering feels like, and appeals to him to act justly, to demonstrate his faithfulness. The book affirms God’s sovereignty—his throne is still in heaven even as the devastation of his temple happens on earth—in its closing verses.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheodicyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 8, 2016 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On the eve of the Shared Conversations at the General Synod in York this weekend, the Council has issued a Q&A designed to puncture notions that scripture could be compatible with same-sex relationships.

And, writing in the Church Times, the Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Revd Julian Henderson, argues that the authority of the Bible “must not be superseded by pastoral, anthropological, and missional arguments”.

The Church should not be worried about being at odds with cultural norms, says Bishop Henderson, who is the president of the CEEC. “The Christian community has never been called to popularity,” he writes. “The gospel is an offence because of its call to repentance.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Members of First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem voted overwhelmingly...[recently] to break from their national denomination, underscoring a schism that has developed over Presbyterian Church (USA)'s embrace of same-sex marriage and the ordination of [non-celibate] gay ministers.

Out of 1,048 votes, 802 members supported bolting to the more conservative Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians, a super-majority of 76.5 percent that church leaders say made clear the congregation's wishes.

"We're ready to get back to our most important thing, which is our ministry," the Rev. Marnie Crumpler, pastor of First Presbyterian, said after the vote. "We're just looking forward to moving forward as an ECO Presbyterian Church."

But amid a bitter divorce, the results of the vote will not be accepted by the mainline denomination, said the Rev. David Duquette, an official of the Lehigh Presbytery, a regional arm of the national church.

Read it all.

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

1 Comments
Posted July 3, 2016 at 6:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

....from 1996, Hill’s career saw a rush of productivity, with the arrival of a new collection almost every other year.

In The Triumph of Love (1998), Hill gave a possible reason for this sudden change: “the taking up of serotonin”. Hill struggled with chronic depression for most of his life, and described himself as suffering from an obsessive-compulsive disorder, which slowed his writing process.

But a diagnosis and prescription was an opening of the floodgates. “I don’t know how I survived almost sixty years without the medication I now have,” he said in 2000. “It’s completely transformed my life. The irony is that people say of my recent work: what a grim vision, what hatred and self-hatred. These last six, seven years, I’ve been happier than I’ve ever been before in my life.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineHistoryPoetry & LiteraturePsychology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 2, 2016 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

That conclusion suggests that the body doesn’t matter. When it comes to what fulfills us, we are not personal animals—mammalian thinkers, to put it starkly—who come in two basic forms that complete each other. We are subjects of desire and consent, who use bodily equipment for spiritual and emotional expression. Fittingly, then, has this new doctrine been called a New Gnosticism.

Beyond marriage, this doctrine entails that sex doesn’t matter, or that it matters only as an inner reality. Since I am not my body, I might have been born in the wrong one. Because the real me is internal, my sexual identity is just what I sense it to be. The same goes for other valuable aspects of my identity. My essence is what I say and feel that it is.

The doctrine is also individualistic. On the old view, you could know important things about me unmediated, by knowing something about my body or our shared nature. And our interdependence as persons was as inescapable as our physical incompleteness and need: as male and female, infants and infirm. But if the real me lies within, only I know what I am. You have to take my word for it; I can learn nothing about myself from our communion. And if I emerge only when autonomy does—if I come into the world already thinking and feeling and choosing—it’s easy to overlook our interdependence. I feel free to strike out on my own, and to satisfy my desires less encumbered by others’ needs.

But again, mere acceptance of this vision of the person isn’t enough to explain Obergefell. The Court did not simply allow new relationships; it required their recognition as marriages, as similar to opposite-sex bonds in every important way. In other words, it didn’t simply free people to live by the New Gnosticism. It required us, “the People,” to endorse this dogma, by forbidding us to enact distinctions that cut against it.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 1, 2016 at 11:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Vatican does not track global or countrywide exorcism, but in my experience and according to the priests I meet, demand is rising. The United States is home to about 50 “stable” exorcists — those who have been designated by bishops to combat demonic activity on a semi-regular basis — up from just 12 a decade ago, according to the Rev. Vincent Lampert, an Indianapolis-based priest-exorcist who is active in the International Association of Exorcists. (He receives about 20 inquiries per week, double the number from when his bishop appointed him in 2005.) The Catholic Church has responded by offering greater resources for clergy members who wish to address the problem. In 2010, for instance, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops organized a meeting in Baltimore for interested clergy. In 2014, Pope Francis formally recognized the IAE, 400 of whom are to convene in Rome this October. Members believe in such strange cases because they are constantly called upon to help. (I served for a time as a scientific adviser on the group’s governing board.)''

Unfortunately, not all clergy involved in this complex field are as cautious as the priest who first approached me. In some circles there is a tendency to become overly preoccupied with putative demonic explanations and to see the devil everywhere. Fundamentalist misdiagnoses and absurd or even dangerous “treatments,” such as beating victims, have sometimes occurred, especially in developing countries. This is perhaps why exorcism has a negative connotation in some quarters. People with psychological problems should receive psychological treatment.

But I believe I’ve seen the real thing....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheodicy

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Posted July 1, 2016 at 10:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the new dispensation, traditional restrictions and attitudes are viewed as judgmental, moralistic forms of socially sanctioned aggression, especially against women and sexual minorities. These victims of sexuality have become the new secular saints. Their virtue becomes their rejection and flouting of traditional sexual morality, and their acts are effectively transvalued as positive expressions of freedom. The first commandment of this new secularist writ is that no sexual act between consenting adults is wrong. Two corollary imperatives are that whatever contributes to consenting sexual acts is an absolute good, and that anything interfering, or threatening to interfere, with consenting sexual acts is ipso facto wrong. Note the absolutist character of these beliefs as they play out in practice. For example, it is precisely the sacrosanct, nonnegotiable status assigned to contraception and abortion that explains why — despite historical protestations of wanting abortion to be “safe, legal, and rare” — in practice, secularist progressivism defends each and every act of abortion tenaciously, each and every time.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 29, 2016 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Every year around this time—June is of course Pride month in LGBT communities—I go back and reread an older essay by Eve Tushnet called “Romoeroticism.” Tushnet points out that in the nineteenth century, as same-sex love was being newly described as a pathology, a psychological disorder, it was the Catholic Church, of all places, where many same-sex attracted men and women found a home—because it was the Church that, rather than medicalizing same-sex love, celebrated “the possibility of shockingly chaste same-sex love.” When I first read that, several years ago now, it reconfigured my whole way of thinking about being gay and Christian: Yes, Scripture was telling me that gay sex wasn’t the true fulfillment of my longings for same-sex intimacy, but no, it wasn’t telling me to deny the goodness of that longing itself. On the contrary, traditional Christianity, it turned out, was radically pro-same-sex love.

The actual on-the-ground history is messy, of course. Many Catholic parishes aren’t exactly safe places to be out as LGBT, and the rich history of celebrated same-sex love is largely unknown—or suppressed—in many churches. But Tushnet’s point is that the resources are there in Catholicism (and, I would argue, in my own Anglican Communion and other churches too) to dignify and nurture same-sex love. We wouldn’t have to compromise one iota of historic Scriptural, Christian teaching in order to open our doors to gay and lesbian people, to offer them a place free from disdain and rejection and humiliation, and even to affirm their (our!) desire to lay down their lives for a friend.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineHistoryPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* TheologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pope Francis on Sunday essentially backed a cardinal’s suggestion that Christians owe LGBT persons an apology for past mistreatment or neglect, but suggested apologies are probably in order to other constituencies as well, including the poor, exploited women and divorced families.

Francis was speaking in response to a question that linked the call for an LGBT apology to the recent massacre at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub.

The pontiff said gay persons must not be discriminated against, conceding that there are “some traditions and cultures that have a different mentality,” and said apologies are in order whenever there are “people we could have defended and we didn’t.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 28, 2016 at 2:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In many ways disagreement is healthy. It shows that people really care about things, and perhaps disagreement is an inevitable corollary of all change: it’s often about who has to change, the cost of change, and who has to pay it.

But disagreement can also be divisive, destructive and dangerous to our health, both individually and collectively. It can disguise the many things we do agree about; it can distort people’s understanding of what being a Christian means; and it can dismay and divert those who would otherwise join us.
If disagreement is inevitable then we have to learn to do it better. This suggests finding ways that enable us to understand fully what we disagree about, and why.

These notes set out some ways to help us turn debate and confrontation into dialogue, empathy, shared understanding and the commitment to love each other even when – perhaps especially when – we are deeply opposed.

Read it all (15 page pdf).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 21, 2016 at 3:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So while it is true that, in the wake of Orlando, or of Jo Cox's murder, or of some future atrocity that lies before us, talk is not enough, we won't be in position to act in some life-giving or productive way until we learn to do two things. First, we must interrupt the simplistic branding of the atrocities that confront us, which only personify both victims and perpetrators in unhelpful ways, while fuelling our own sense of self-righteous rage. Second, we need to learn again what to do with the justified anger that erupts within us as we face the injustices and violence that surround us. Such powerful emotions have to be directed somewhere outwards, yet without merely being vented at targets of convenience. Doing that only expands the dominant cycles of mythic violence.

As we struggle to learn such difficult lessons, we need to find a way to regain confidence that another's wrath trumps our own, so that the concept of justice can be defined according to something beyond our own immediate personal preference.

We might not all be able to imagine this in the traditional imagery of the Psalms, or through the concept of the divine, but we all nonetheless must find a way to imagine it. Any other response to Orlando or to the murder in West Yorkshire falls short of what these victims demand of us.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UK* TheologyTheodicyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 21, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We need to swap the Romantic view for a tragic (and at points comedic) awareness that every human will frustrate, anger, annoy, madden and disappoint us — and we will (without any malice) do the same to them. There can be no end to our sense of emptiness and incompleteness. But none of this is unusual or grounds for divorce. Choosing whom to commit ourselves to is merely a case of identifying which particular variety of suffering we would most like to sacrifice ourselves for.

This philosophy of pessimism offers a solution to a lot of distress and agitation around marriage. It might sound odd, but pessimism relieves the excessive imaginative pressure that our romantic culture places upon marriage. The failure of one particular partner to save us from our grief and melancholy is not an argument against that person and no sign that a union deserves to fail or be upgraded.

The person who is best suited to us is not the person who shares our every taste (he or she doesn’t exist), but the person who can negotiate differences in taste intelligently — the person who is good at disagreement. Rather than some notional idea of perfect complementarity, it is the capacity to tolerate differences with generosity that is the true marker of the “not overly wrong” person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition.

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 20, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I reminded [Walter Fritz] that I was a journalist; I wrote fact, not fiction. Nor could I accept favors from the subject of a story. But I was curious: What role would the Walter Fritz character play in this hypothetical book, whose underlying ideas, after all, would be entirely his? He gave me a quizzical look. “I wouldn’t have a role in it,” he said.

He wanted, that is, to be the invisible hand.

As I walked back to my car, I realized with something like a shudder that Fritz had hoped to lure me into a trap from which my reputation might never recover. I knew enough about his dealings with King and Laukamp to recognize all the signs: the request for secrecy, the strategic self-effacement, the use of other people for his own enigmatic ends.

Fame and fortune would rain down on me, he’d promised. All I had to do was lower my guard and trust him with all the important details.

This is a really important piece--take the time to read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryPsychology* TheologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted June 18, 2016 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

Read it all from todays NYT op-ed page.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some people receive constant reminders on their smartphones: birthdays, anniversaries, doctor’s appointments, social engagements. At work, their computers prompt them to meet deadlines, attend meetings and have lunch with the boss. Prodding here and pinging there, these pop-up interruptions can turn into noise to be ignored instead of helpful nudges.

Something similar is happening to doctors, nurses and pharmacists. And when they’re hit with too much information, the result can be a health hazard. The electronic patient records that the federal government has been pushing — in an effort to coordinate health care and reduce mistakes — come with a host of bells and whistles that may be doing the opposite in some cases.

What’s the problem? It’s called alert fatigue.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 14, 2016 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The revelation that the 29-year-old man who opened fire on Sunday in a gay nightclub had dedicated the killing to the Islamic State has prompted a now-familiar question: Was the killer truly acting under orders from the Islamic State, or just seeking publicity and the group’s approval for a personal act of hate?

For the terror planners of the Islamic State, the difference is mostly irrelevant.

Influencing distant attackers to pledge allegiance to the Islamic State and then carry out mass murder has become a core part of the group’s propaganda over the past two years. It is a purposeful blurring of the line between operations that are planned and carried out by the terror group’s core fighters and those carried out by its sympathizers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 13, 2016 at 4:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mpho Tutu-van Furth had to give up her priest’s licence last month when she married a woman. But she believes the Anglican Church of Southern Africa will — with a little divine intervention — come to embrace same-sex marriages....

In May in Franschhoek‚ Tutu married Professor Marcelina van Furth‚ a paediatrician who researches infectious diseases at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. The union had the blessing of her parents‚ Archbishop Emeritus Desmond and Leah Tutu.

Van Furth is an atheist – but this has not posed a problem. “It seems to work quite well‚” says Tutu-Van Furth. “I respect her atheism‚ and she's interested in Christianity. She comes to church with me‚ sits in a pew‚ listens to the teaching and asks me about it. She sinks into being a peaceful place and meditates while I pray‚ and that's also fine....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Southern Africa* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSouth Africa* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 11, 2016 at 12:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Watch it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sarva Dharma Sama Bhava: “All dharmas [truths, or religions] are equally valid.” Indians often cite this noble maxim, which was popularized by Mahatma Gandhi, and the country’s constitution remains firmly secular and democratic. In recent years, though, the country’s religious outlook has darkened to the point that minorities—including both Christians and Muslims—face dangers of severe persecution and violence.

The fact that that threat receives little attention in the West says much about our stereotypes of other world religions. If we saw a situation where tens of millions of Christians were being similarly maltreated by a Muslim regime, Western media and policy makers would speak out vigorously. But when the enemies of religious liberty are Hindu, members of a faith that Americans idealize, the public silence is deafening.

Although India’s Chris­tians do not represent a large proportion of the country’s vast population—only about 3 percent—they number about 40 million, comparable to the larger European nations. India’s Christians suffer from multiple disadvantages, especially because so many derive from people of low or no caste or from tribal communities on the margins of Hindu society. Official reluctance to accept the reality of conversions makes it difficult to assess the true extent of Christian numbers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsHinduism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 6, 2016 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all from the New York Times.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The pre-war Pastor Matthew Williams had gone to seminary, was ordained and thought he understood why people suffer. “God allows suffering because this world is temporary,” is how he would have put it.

Then came two deployments as an Army chaplain, one to Afghanistan and one to Iraq. Williams spent a year in an Afghanistan morgue unzipping body bags and “seeing your friends’ faces all blown apart.” He watched as most of the marriages he officiated for fellow soldiers fell apart. He felt the terror of being the only soldier who wasn’t armed when the mortars dropped and bullets flew.

This Memorial Day weekend, Williams is no longer an active-duty military chaplain nor a United Church of Christ minister. He is a guitar player on disability whose outlook on God, religion and suffering was transformed by post-traumatic stress.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryIraq WarWar in Afghanistan* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheodicy

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More recently, Notre Dame historian George Marsden — a self-described “Augustinian Christian” and so something close to an evangelical, whatever that still means — has argued in his book “The Twilight of the American Enlightenment” that religious traditionalists and secularist liberals can avoid a great deal of acrimony by defenestrating the midcentury idea of a “neutral” public sphere and instead adopting what he and others have termed “principled pluralism.” More recently still, in his new book “The Fractured Republic,” the scholar and journalist Yuval Levin, a Jewish social conservative, has counseled both religious conservatives and secularist liberals that they can repair our dysfunctional politics by comprehending the implications of this one essential truth: that American society is no longer the consolidated unit it once was but a diffuse assortment of subcultures.

True, many religious social conservatives still think it’s their duty to take America back, their disposition expressed in the fierce eloquence of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). But many do not. Many have finally given up on the whole idea of a culture war or are willing to admit they lost it. They are determined only to remain who they are and to live as amiably and productively as they can in a culture that doesn’t look like them and doesn’t belong to them.

In time, this shift in outlook may bring about a more peaceable public sphere. But that will depend on others — especially the adherents of an ascendant social progressivism — declining to take full advantage of their newfound cultural dominance. I see few signs of that, but I am hopeful all the same.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 1, 2016 at 2:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Once he was declared autistic, it didn’t feel like our relationships were narrowing; it felt like they were expanding—making room for a God-knit little boy who isn’t typically developing. I felt relieved. My heart swelled with joy for who my son is. We felt peace.
That night, we ate cake. We commemorated the end of one journey and the beginning of another. We rejoiced over the fact that doors to much-needed therapy would finally open. We affirmed the personhood of an autistic little boy; we celebrated the face of a boogeyman.
Declan has big brown eyes set into a round face. His smile, when he graces you with it, is angular and cheesy. He spins in circles, around and around like a colorful top. He loves music. His hands flutter like the steady thrum of a heartbeat, clasping and unclasping with rhythmic beauty. The only unprompted observation he has ever made about God was informed by his obsession with circles:
“Look—circle!” he exclaimed from the backseat.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 1, 2016 at 11:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Question: How are you doing? Answer: busy… how many times have you heard that? How many times have you said that?
As a pastor, Eugene Peterson is the voice in the back of my head. When I experience challenges in my vocation, my sense of direction, or conflict in my understanding of my role as a pastor, I usually hunt around for what Peterson would say to my situation. He nearly always has the wisdom I’m looking for, and he never lets me off the hook.
Peterson’s vision of the Unbusy pastor has become the paradigm that I’m chasing. Busyness kills the pastoral vocation....Peterson’s probing question is essentially this: If I was not busy making my mark in the world and not busy doing what everyone expects me to do, what would I actually do as a pastor?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 29, 2016 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Anxiety is the most prevalent psychiatric problem of our time. It is also one of the biggest puzzles. Decades of research have gone into probing the mysteries of anxiety and we are still, in many ways, fumbling in the dark. It’s largely inconclusive. Even with my arsenal of CBT techniques, I have runs of days when I have to re-teach myself. During these times I feel constantly nauseated, bloated, without appetite. I feel as if my skin is a translucent green, my guts full of pond scum. I’m convinced people must be able to see my malaise. It can be hard to pull back from these “blips”. Sometimes I do feel as if I’m going back to square one; locked in a vicious cycle of physical pain and churning negative thought, each exacerbating the other.

People have asked me, puzzled, how I can be so good at dealing with “big stuff”, but then find it tricky to leave the house on days when I’m feeling really anxious. It’s a good question. I have sailed through hectic deadlines in offices with only the faintest dapple of sweat on my upper lip. I’ve interviewed shirty celebrities and not felt my colon flutter.

When I have to keep it together, because there’s simply no other option, I often can. All that strength and resolve seem miles away on the days when I wake up feeling anxious. During some of my worst panic attacks I have fantasised about being knocked over by a truck or having a scaffolding pipe drop on my head, to escape the feeling. I had one on my bike once and thought about how easy it’d be to swerve into oncoming traffic.

Those who have experienced panic attacks will know what that desperation for an off switch feels like...."

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted May 29, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It’s no longer news that Western culture has undergone a dramatic sea change in its attitude toward homosexuality. Less often noted is where a key impetus for this change has come: the power of narrative.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

According to the United Nations, last year some eight million people around the world were displaced from their homes by conflict and social upheaval—the largest number ever recorded in a single year. This coming week (May 23-24), as the UN convenes the first World Humanitarian Summit, correspondent Kim Lawton talks with prominent Roman Catholic theologian and ethicist Rev. David Hollenbach SJ about the global refugee crisis and the moral obligations he believes the US government and individual Americans have to respond.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureTravel* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted May 25, 2016 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christian morality is being ushered out of American social structures and off the cultural main stage, leaving a vacuum in its place—and the broader culture is attempting to fill the void. New research from Barna reveals growing concern about the moral condition of the nation, even as many American adults admit they are uncertain about how to determine right from wrong. So what do Americans believe? Is truth relative or absolute? And do Christians see truth and morality in radically different ways from the broader public, or are they equally influenced by the growing tide of secularism and religious skepticism?

A majority of American adults across age group, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status and political ideology expresses concern about the nation’s moral condition—eight in 10 overall (80%). The proportion is closer to nine in 10 among Elders (89%) and Boomers (87%), while about three-quarters of Gen-Xers (75%) and Millennials (74%) report concern. Similarly, practicing Christians (90%) are more likely than adults of no faith (67%) or those who identify with a religious faith other than Christianity (72%) to say they are concerned about the moral condition of the nation. Though measurable differences exist between population segments, moral concern is widespread across the demographic board.

Much less widespread, however, is consensus on morality itself. What is it based on? Where does it come from? How can someone know what to do when making moral decisions? According to a majority of American adults (57%), knowing what is right or wrong is a matter of personal experience. This view is much more prevalent among younger generations than among older adults.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 25, 2016 at 2:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When the suffering doesn’t go away through reading the Bible or prayer, the person affected may despair of his or her spiritual ability or maturity. The very thing that should provide unshakable confidence, that should strengthen our faith in Christ, becomes a source of shame if our faith isn’t “strong enough” to beat the illness.

Most of the time when a physician treats a chemical imbalance and there are some manifestations of those challenges, that imbalance doesn’t go away by prayer or by reading your Bible alone. Sometimes medication is needed and there should be not shame in that.

The more Christians struggle with how to deal with mental illness, the more we fail to create a safe and healthy environment in which to discuss and deal with these issues. As a result, many of our Christian churches, homes, and institutions promulgate an aura of mistrust, guilt, and shame.

As more of us are coming forward with our own stories of struggle and pain, I’m encouraged that it’s okay to talk about these things. We have to defeat the shame because the reality is that many Christians struggle with mental illness.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyMental IllnessReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 25, 2016 at 5:55 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(For the original piece to which this is responding please see here--KSH).

There are likely to be many Anglicans, not least in the Church of England, who will welcome the idea that there might be a viable ‘third way’ between supporting same-sex marriages and simply maintaining the Church’s traditional position. However, I would want to argue that there is in fact no viable ‘third way’ on this issue. This is for three reasons.

First, the position of those advocating for LGBT equality has moved on since the days when a blessing of same-sex partnerships might have been seen as acceptable.

Now that same-sex ‘marriage’ is legal in an increasing number of jurisdictions around the world, including England, Scotland and Wales, LGBT advocates will not be content with anything less than the Church coming into line with society and practicing ‘equal marriage’ as well. For example, those Gay and Lesbian Christians such as Canon Jeremy Pemberton who are already ‘married’ are not going to be content with anything less than the Church’s full recognition of their marital status.

Furthermore, even the recognition of same-sex ‘marriages’ is now a relatively conservative position. The new focus of LGBT activism is now the call to move beyond the ‘heteronormative gender binary’ (the idea that humanity is divided into men and women) and recognise a whole multiplicity of different gender identities (Facebook UK now gives you seventy one gender options to choose from) and a whole range of forms of personal relationship to suit these different identities....

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Scottish Episcopal Church* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 23, 2016 at 12:36 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Check it out and see how you do.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationPsychology* General Interest* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted May 19, 2016 at 1:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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