Posted by Kendall Harmon

What's Arnholter's big idea? It's simple. Ambitiously simple. Create a mural made by thousands of people in every state in the country, plus Washington, D.C. Call it the "Mural of America," make it about reminding people that humanity is a shared experience and allot 15 months, 16,000 miles and $175,000 to do it.

"It's important for this country," Arnholter says. "We're always bickering, so we miss the big picture. A woman once told me this project is about 'the cohesion of diversity.' That's the best way I've heard anyone describe it."

Traveling to a new state every weekend, with a break in the winter, Arnholter wants to stop by the Boston Marathon, the Las Vegas Art Festival, the Treme Gumbo Creole Festival in New Orleans and the Broad Ripple Art Fair. He'll use a similar route taken by the Ringling Brothers Circus in the 1900s. He'll live in an RV.

First stop: Pendleton, S.C.

Read it all.


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

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Posted February 28, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I am sitting by the swimming pool at the Canyon Ranch resort in Tucson, Arizona, only it is not really a resort, it is a fitness/wellness/life-enhancing centre where people who are very stressed come to detox and, as I am discovering, “find” themselves. But this resort is not brimming with stressed-out women, worn thin and ragged by juggling motherhood, wifedom and being the heads of companies. No. The classes here are full of men – men with great big identity issues.

There is 45-year-old Lee, who has just “gotten divorced” and has, in the course of a month, slept with 15 women. “I don’t see myself as that type of man,” he says, “but I feel so lonely and I don’t know what to do with my life.” There is Ryan, aged 53, who has never married and is in crisis about why he hasn’t. Then there is Steve, 49, a travel agent, long-time married, who has hit a midlife crisis. He says he really does want to buy a Harley-Davidson and head off down Route 66. “Is that wrong?” he asks. “I just don’t know what I want in my life anymore.”

They are all part of a “sandwich generation”: they sit between the baby boomers and the digital natives. And they are a group who have, according to recent statistics, lost their way.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyMenMiddle AgePsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted February 27, 2015 at 3:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What do you see as trends in seminaries regarding discernment of vocation?

I see an increasing focus on the pastor as a person—an increasing awareness of the importance of self-care and of developing strong spiritual disciplines. It used to be that seminary was a time when people’s spiritual discipline waned and their academic discipline increased. Now many seminaries emphasize integrating the spiritual, reflective process with the academic, which I think is all to the good.

We often talk about burnout as a problem among clergy. How do you understand that term?

When we see pastors who are experiencing burnout, sometimes it is simply because they are working too hard. But more often they are doing a lot of things that are not central to their sense of call. When people are working close to their sense of call and purpose and meaning, they can work really hard without feeling burned out. But when they are doing a lot of things that people are telling them should be done or that feel urgent but aren’t close to the heart, that is a strong indicator of burnout.

It’s been said that most pastors are a “quivering mass of availability,” eager to please everybody. That is a path to destruction.

Read it all.

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

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Posted February 27, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many times we are working with church structures of a different time. I have seen churches with 50 people attending on Sunday morning, and they maintain 12 committees.

There may have been a lot of retirees in the church, so we have committees who meet in the day.

Or there might have been a lot of people without children, so everyone meets at night—on a different night, to ensure that the pastor is at every meeting.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the OrdainedPastoral Care* Culture-WatchPsychology* TheologyEschatologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 26, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“When I got into the field, the notion that you could actually do something about the aging process was viewed as a crackpot idea,” says Richard Miller, director of the Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging at the University of Michigan. “The argument that one can slow aging, and diseases of aging along with it, used to be fantasy, but now we see it like a scientific strategy.”

Nobody is talking about living forever. But as these experts see it, aging is the single most powerful factor in the diseases that are most likely to cut our lives short: cancer, heart problems, immune disorders and degenerative brain conditions like Alzheimer’s. “Everybody knows that the main risk factors for heart disease are high cholesterol, obesity and high blood pressure,” says Dr. Felipe Sierra, director of the division of aging biology at the National Institute on Aging (NIA). “But even stronger than those factors is just being 70 years old.”

And that’s why staving off aging–or at least slowing it–has become such a central focus of research. “We’re going at aging itself,” says David Sinclair, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School. “We might take someone who is showing signs of aging and be able to do something about it, to treat that as a disease. That’s something I didn’t expect to be seeing in my lifetime.”

Read it all.

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

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Posted February 26, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Thirty-seven percent of Americans are satisfied and 61% dissatisfied with the position of the U.S. in the world today. These views are unchanged from last year, even after a series of significant challenges for U.S. foreign policy. Americans' satisfaction is a bit higher than at the end of the Bush administration and at the beginning of the Obama administration, but remains well below where it was in the early 2000s.

The results are from Gallup's annual World Affairs survey, conducted Feb. 8-11. Americans' satisfaction held steady in the past year, even as the U.S. was forced to deal with the rise of Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria, a dispute with Russia over Ukrainian separatists in the eastern part of Ukraine, heightened tensions between the Israelis and Palestinians, and ongoing policy disagreements involving North Korea and Iran. The lack of change may be attributable to Americans' already high level of dissatisfaction with the nation's world position, with those events and the way the U.S. handled them serving to reinforce the dissatisfaction rather than to worsen or even improve it.

Americans have been more likely to be dissatisfied than satisfied with the position of the U.S. in the world since 2004, about the time it became clear that the U.S. military action in Iraq was running into problems that could -- and did -- lead to a prolonged U.S. commitment there. Satisfaction fell to a low of 30% in the final year of George W. Bush's administration and remained low in the very early stages of Barack Obama's presidency. Americans' satisfaction is modestly higher now than at that point, but has leveled off.

Read it all.

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

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Posted February 25, 2015 at 3:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Elon] Musk, [Bill] Gates and [Stephen] Hawking made headlines by speaking to the dangers that A.I. may pose. Their points are important, but I fear were largely misunderstood by many readers. Relying on efforts to program A.I. not to “harm humans” (inspired by on Isaac Asimov’s “three laws” of robotics from 1942) makes sense only when an A.I. knows what humans are and what harming them might mean. There are many ways that an A.I. might harm us that that have nothing to do with its malevolence toward us, and chief among these is exactly following our well-meaning instructions to an idiotic and catastrophic extreme. Instead of mechanical failure or a transgression of moral code, the A.I. may pose an existential risk because it is both powerfully intelligent and disinterested in humans. To the extent that we recognize A.I. by its anthropomorphic qualities, or presume its preoccupation with us, we are vulnerable to those eventualities.

Read it carefully and read it all (emphasis mine).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationPhilosophyPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted February 25, 2015 at 11:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I did know he was a vet and so I did what seemed natural: I thanked him for his service.

“No problem,” he said.

It wasn’t true. There was a problem. I could see it from the way he looked down. And I could see it on the faces of some of the other vets who work with Mr. Garth when I thanked them too. What gives, I asked? Who doesn’t want to be thanked for their military service?

Many people, it turns out. Mike Freedman, a Green Beret, calls it the “thank you for your service phenomenon.” To some recent vets — by no stretch all of them — the thanks comes across as shallow, disconnected, a reflexive offering from people who, while meaning well, have no clue what soldiers did over there or what motivated them to go, and who would never have gone themselves nor sent their own sons and daughters.

To these vets, thanking soldiers for their service symbolizes the ease of sending a volunteer army to wage war at great distance — physically, spiritually, economically. It raises questions of the meaning of patriotism, shared purpose and, pointedly, what you’re supposed to say to those who put their lives on the line and are uncomfortable about being thanked for it.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMilitary / Armed ForcesPsychology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

2 Comments
Posted February 25, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If very few of the sexual acts of today’s identity politics are procreative, that has certainly not inhibited their proponents’ impressive ability to give birth to endless categories of sexual preference. This is the result of more than a mere lack of conceptual contraception. It also indicates the loss of any sense that sex in itself might carry some kind of larger moral significance. Indeed, the plethora of sexual identities now available witness to the fact that there is no longer any basis for rejecting any kind of sexual act, considered in itself, as intrinsically wrong. The multiplication of such categories is part of rendering sex amoral: When everything is legitimate, then nothing has particular moral significance.

This endless expansion of sexual categories is a necessary consequence of what is now the fundamental tenet of modern sexual politics, and perhaps a key element of modern politics in general: That a person’s attitude to sex is the primary criterion for assessing their moral standing in the public square. If you say that sex has intrinsic moral significance, then you set it within a larger moral framework and set limits to the legitimate use of sex. In doing so, you declare certain sexual acts illegitimate, something which is now considered hate speech. This constant coining of new categories of sexual identity serves both to demonstrate this and to facilitate its policing.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationPsychologySexualityYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted February 24, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Elder care is also often done for low wages by new or undocumented immigrants. Will that change?

Manufacturing in the ’20s and ’30s was sweatshop work, largely done by new immigrants. We turned factory work into good jobs with pathways to opportunities. That professionalization was the basis for 20th century prosperity. That’s what the care workforce needs to be. These have the potential to be really good jobs.

You compare investing in home-care workers to investing in railways or the Internet. But aren’t those about growth, not dying?

For working-age adults right now, especially with what they call the sandwich generation–people who are caring for children and aging parents–this is having an impact on their productivity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyMiddle AgePsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted February 23, 2015 at 3:56 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A couple of days ago, a senior African cleric was holding forth on the need to combine religious instruction with, in the broadest sense, sex education. Both at home and at school, declared Archbishop Henri Isingoma, boys must be taught about the higher purpose of sex as "the way God wanted to make the human race continue". Another acute problem, he added, was "ignorance of the responsibilities of men towards women." He was speaking in a webinar organised by a department of the global Anglican church, drawing in clergy and church workers from their own and other Christian confessions.

So...was this one more depressing display of the giant cultural gap between the liberal north and the traditional south, especially over sexuality, which is tearing apart the 80m-strong Anglican Communion, and many other religious bodies?

No, it was nothing of the kind, and that's what made the discussion more worthwhile. The topic was "gender-based violence" which is a catchall term that describes both domestic cruelty and the still-greater horrors that take place on battlefields when soldiers run amok and commit rape. Victims of GBV are mainly female, but they also include men and boys. And the striking thing was that on this exceptionally grave subject, "conservatives" and "liberals" plainly find it useful to talk and cooperate, and the talk goes well beyond platitudes.

Mara Luz, an Anglican church worker from Brazil, said 40% of women in her country experienced some kind of violence; there were well-written laws, but implementation was very poor, especially in remote areas.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationPsychologyReligion & CultureSexualityViolence* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 23, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We can only imagine the agony of Edward Mallen’s parents, for whom “a normal Monday afternoon became a horrifying nightmare where one is staring into this appalling abyss of grief” when police knocked on their door last week to say that their 18-year-old son had been killed by a train. Intelligent, gifted, kind and humble, head boy twice over — by all accounts, Edward was a remarkable young man. Twelve A*s at GCSE, a place at Cambridge to read geography, grade eight at piano and popular.

Yet shortly after Christmas depression consumed him. His father said: “Often there is a trigger, some trauma, but there didn’t seem to be in this case. My son had a sickness — a biological sickness — that overtook him very rapidly. It happened over six to eight weeks.” The shocking fact is that this is not an isolated incident. Talking to experts and parents, I get a sense that self-harm, a destructive way of coping with emotional pain, has reached epidemic proportions.

According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ 2010 report on public mental health, half of those who suffer mental-health problems in adult life display difficulties by the age of 14. Three quarters of mental illness is present by the mid-twenties. While three times as many women as men attempt suicide, Office for National Statistics figures show that 78 per cent of suicides in 2013 were male (up from 63 per cent in 1981).

Read it all (requires subscription).


Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHealth & MedicineMenPsychologyStressSuicideTeens / Youth* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

2 Comments
Posted February 23, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Walker Percy gives fictional life to our contemporary hell ruled by the Prince of this world in both its bestial and angelic expressions. He reveals that we are already inhabiting a city of the dead populated by the corpses of souls. Percy warns against slothfully resigning ourselves to existence in this earthly hell, even though we know that it will eventually work its own self-destruction.

Yet he also cautions against our rising up in wrath against these demonic forces, lest we remake ourselves in their image by returning evil for evil. This more excellent way lies in the formation of true selves in the Body of Christ, not in the redemption of solitary souls through an invisible spiritual inwardness. The more abundant life is found, instead, in the sacramental and communal life of the Church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPoetry & LiteraturePsychology* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted February 22, 2015 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The language of the common good, like the language of property which exemplifies it, is Janus-faced. Looking back it points to a concrete givenness of community, a present and existing form within which we have been given to communicate with others, and which we cannot ignore without great blame. Looking forward, it can invite us to think of a City of God, a sphere of universal community, and encourage us to seek intimations of it from the future. But only so far can it take us. It cannot ease us through the portals of the City of God up the steps of a ladder of dialectical reconciliations.

To the extent that it can open the imagination to be receptive to a further future, it can serve us. But what will take possession of the open imagination? A word of promise from the self-revealing God of the future, to be grasped by faith and hope? Or seven devils worse than those of the past that have been cast out? Nothing in the idea of the common good itself can answer that question for us. Nothing can spare us the task of discerning the prophets.

Read it all.

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

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Posted February 21, 2015 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fifteen years of private psychotherapy practice has taught me that transformations have unexpected catalysts. Therapists are trained to help clients dig deep into their psyches, family histories and daily struggles. But to achieve real change, we need to help people gain space from their problems.

I’ve found that one of the most effective ways to achieve that space – and to ignite a dramatic psychological shift — is to kick back and watch the right film.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMovies & TelevisionPsychology

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Posted February 20, 2015 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In promoting the homosexualist agenda, activists and their allies have argued with the ferocity and absolutism of sturmtruppen that those who have homosexual and lesbian attraction are “born that way,” and that, in all cases, such attraction is immutable. They will often compare homosexual attraction to skin color. Therefore, any antipathy towards those who experience homosexual or lesbian attraction is akin to racism. Thus, moral disapproval by Christians or others of homosexual and lesbian activities and relationships is tantamount to hatred for those persons who have same-sex attractions. Even my occasional blogs about the homosexualists and their agenda always draws the greatest number of comments opposing my views. It has even penetrated deeply into our culture. For example, in the current season of Downton Abbey, set in bucolic Yorkshire during the mid-1920s, the footman Barrow is told by the local village physician that any effort to change his homosexuality is futile. Building on the physician’s remark, today’s activists argue that because homosexuality is 100 percent immutable and heritable (though the search for the homosexual gene has proved elusive even after the entire human genome has long been mapped). Accordingly, any effort to help homosexuals or lesbians change their orientation, or to diminish the attraction for same-sex individuals, or to fail to affirm such attraction, is not only cruel and futile, but also harmful.

But could this truly be so? Is one born homosexual or lesbian? Well, to answer that question, rather than focus on my views and/or the views of conservative Christian academics and researchers, it is important to observe that such claims are rejected by many serious “LGBTQ” academicians and thinkers. The always interesting and deeply thoughtful author, feminist scholar, and lesbian Camille Paglia, writes in her book Vamps & Tramps:

Is gay identity so fragile that it cannot bear the thought that some people may not wish to be gay? The difficulties in changing sexual orientation do not spring from its genetic innateness. Sexuality is highly fluid, and reversals are theoretically possible. However, habit is refractory, once the sensory pathways have been blazed and deepened by repetition….[H]elping gays learn how to function heterosexually if they so wish, is a perfectly worthy aim. We should be honest enough to consider whether homosexuality may not indeed be a pausing at the prepubescent stage when children anxiously band together by gender.
Emphasis added. Building on Ms. Paglia’s point, a number of studies have indicated that today’s teens will often identify themselves as “gay” or “queer,” but the overwhelming majority will no longer consider themselves to be so by their early 20s.

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyScience & TechnologySexuality* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted February 20, 2015 at 6:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When I dive into time coaching clients’ schedules, I consistently discover that people misdiagnose themselves as having a “productivity” problem when, in fact, their bigger issue is an overcommitment problem. When they have committed to more external projects and personal goals and obligations than they have hours for in the day, they feel the massive weight of time debt. One of my coaching clients suffered from a huge amount of false guilt until he realized he had the unrealistic expectation that he could fit 160 hours of tasks into a 40-hour workweek.

Effective time investment begins with accepting the reality that time is a finite resource. This acknowledgment frees you to make choices about what you will and won’t do so you can invest more in what’s most important, feel good about what you do and don’t get done, and still have disposable time left to relax and enjoy yourself. As one of my time coaching clients put it, “I’ve realized there’s only X amount of time, so I need to invest in my priorities and understand that when I choose one activity, I’m not choosing another.”

The single most important factor in feeling like a time investment success or failure is whether or not your expectations of what you will accomplish align with how much time you have to invest.

Read it all.

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

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Posted February 19, 2015 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The divorcing couple invited 50 people to the ceremony, which was followed by a wine and cheese reception. They spoke about the hopes they had when they first married and how they still cared for and respected each other. Then they burned a copy of their marriage certificate in a glass bowl using the candle they had lit at their wedding. Guests were invited to contribute a flower to a special “bouquet of love and affection.” At the end of the 45-minute service, the parting couple gave their weddings rings back to each other. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

If the idea of spouses dissolving their marriage in such a loving way sounds radically enlightened, well, even Meighan admits to a twinge of divorce-ceremony envy. When she split from her first husband more than 20 years ago, “there was too much pain” to formally mark their parting, she says. “But when I did that ceremony, I saw what a powerful healing process it could be.”

Forty percent of Canadian marriages end in divorce. Those who go through it commonly describe the experience as one of the most painful of their lives. Yet there are few established rituals that offer the emotional and spiritual closure couples often need. Some argue that marriages start with ceremony and should end the same way — that marking this significant life event can help prevent adversarial and costly court proceedings, reduce the emotional impact on children and allow the couple to move on. Separation rites can also help church communities when they find themselves caught in the middle of a marriage falling apart.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted February 15, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This is happening all over New England. Church buildings everywhere have become community centers, art galleries and studios, antique shops, private residences. The saddest part of it all is that only a tiny fraction of the members of those congregations join other churches. Most of them stop going to church altogether. The loss of the memories is too painful. "I was baptized in that church, I was married in that church, I had always expected to be buried from that church." There is an idolatry of church buildings, no question about that. I have been reading a history of the first two centuries of Christianity and it is hard not to conclude that there was great strength in those early congregations which had no buildings to meet in but were on fire with the good news of Jesus Christ the Lord. Yet today, when there are empty church buildings all over, it is easy for observers to conclude that faith is dead, that Christian worship has become irrelevant.

All of this has led me to reflect on a factor that has been bothering me for some years now. It is a pretty well-established fact that the most important factor in getting people to come to church and stay there is social. "Someone invited me." "I was shown in to the coffee hour and introduced to people." "People were friendly to me." This is so obvious that it should be addressed with the highest priority in all congregations. I can speak with some authority on this, because I have attended Sunday worship virtually every Sunday of my adult life somewhere, from Hawaii to Washington state to Florida to Minnesota to Maine--literally--and it is very rare for anyone even to acknowledge my presence, let alone escort me to coffee hour. I can name on fewer than ten fingers the number of churches where I have received a friendly greeting. Literally. It's easy to remember them because they were so few. Only one of them was an Episcopal church. Most recently, this past spring, Dick and I were amazed by the friendliness and vitality of the American (Protestant) Church in Paris. It made me want to join immediately. In contrast, I found the American Episcopal Church in Rome (St Paul's Within the Walls) to be singularly unfriendly even though I attended for three consecutive Sundays. Passing the peace has had no effect on this problem. I pass the peace to all my neighbors around me in the pews, and as soon as the service is over they immediately turn away from me as if to get out of the pew as fast as possible.

And that little Baptist church? No one knew that I was an ordained minister. No one knew anything about me at all. I was just an ordinary person who was visiting, a potential new member perhaps. I must have been reasonably conspicuous as a newcomer among 20 people, all of whom knew each other well. I attended services there at least 15 times. I introduced myself, spoke pleasantly to people, praised the service. Did anyone ever make an effort to get to know me? No.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church GrowthMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the OrdainedPastoral Care* Culture-WatchPsychology* TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

According to Christian understanding, in human existence, the personal is also capable of bearing the tragic, ground that is foreign to Modernity, its eradication being the goal of every Modern project. Boundaries are tragic for the ego – they say “no” to its unfettered demands. The “tragic” is viewed as any undesirable event or result in Modernity. It is viewed as suffering and is to be avoided, controlled and minimized.

Classical Christianity understands that the Cross is the way of life and that its paradox turns the tragic inside-out. For the Cross is not an unfortunate requirement, something God is forced to do in order to rescue sinful man. The tragedy of the Cross is also the pattern of healing, wholeness, well-being and eternal life. It is the revelation of true personhood.

All of the arguments regarding new definitions of marriage, aggressive reproductive technologies, gender re-definitions, etc., are made within a model that views any and all suffering as both tragic, needless and unacceptable if at all possible of alleviation. Such a line of reasoning was inevitably on a collision course with an ethic originally rooted in the Cross. The Christian view of personhood is an invitation to voluntary suffering and self-sacrifice. Nothing could be less modern.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted February 15, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What’s at stake: Andrew Sullivan’s decision to shut down his blog has sparkled a conversation about the future of blogging. While most authors recognize that the conversational nature of blogs has decreased over the years, there is less agreement on the fundamental cause behind this trend and what this means for the future of blogging.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted February 14, 2015 at 8:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Anglicans gathered with other faith leaders in London to set recommendations for how faith communities can work collaboratively, together with governments and national and international stakeholders, to end sexual violence in conflict. The two day inter-faith consultation was convened by the We Will Speak Out coalition and UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office – see our coverage of the meeting here.

The Anglicans taking part in the meeting were: Mathilde Nkwirikiye (Anglican Church of Burundi), Archbishop Henri Isingoma (Anglican Church of Congo), Revd Joseph Bilal (Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan), Vijula Arulanantham (Church of Ceylon), Archbishop Francisco de Assis da Silva (Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil), Bishop Margaret Vertue (Anglican Church of Southern Africa), Bishop Ellinah Ntfombi Wamukoya (Anglican Church of Southern Africa), Bishop Christopher Cocksworth (Church of England) and Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin (Church of England).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologySexualityViolence* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 13, 2015 at 5:54 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Citizens of Bangor, Maine, lament the constant mispronunciation of their hometown in a musical parody of "We Are the World."

Watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingMediaPsychologyUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

1 Comments
Posted February 13, 2015 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I would be the only person she spoke to on the record about what happened to her, she said. It was just too harrowing — and “as a publicist,” inadvisable — but she felt it was necessary, to show how “crazy” her situation was, how her punishment simply didn’t fit the crime.

“I cried out my body weight in the first 24 hours,” she told me. “It was incredibly traumatic. You don’t sleep. You wake up in the middle of the night forgetting where you are.” She released an apology statement and cut short her vacation. Workers were threatening to strike at the hotels she had booked if she showed up. She was told no one could guarantee her safety.

Her extended family in South Africa were African National Congress supporters — the party of Nelson Mandela. They were longtime activists for racial equality. When Justine arrived at the family home from the airport, one of the first things her aunt said to her was: “This is not what our family stands for. And now, by association, you’ve almost tarnished the family.”

As she told me this, Sacco started to cry. I sat looking at her for a moment. Then I tried to improve the mood. I told her that “sometimes, things need to reach a brutal nadir before people see sense.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationHistoryPsychology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 13, 2015 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England is to change its laws to allow people who commit suicide, whatever the circumstances, to be buried or cremated according to its funeral rites.

Currently, Church of England clergy are not allowed to conduct the funeral of a person who takes their own life while deemed to be "of sound mind".

Canon Michael Parsons of the Gloucester diocese told the General Synod meeting in Church House, Westminster: "This is widely disregarded by most clergy and even more widely unknown."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologySuicide* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted February 12, 2015 at 8:44 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One of my spiritual mentors, Marlene Talley, held the secret. More than 25 years ago when she observed my tendency to speak without much forethought, she cautioned, "Stop, think and pray before you speak."

When we stop, think and pray before we speak, we find ourselves blessing rather than blasting others, exhibiting patience rather than pushiness, sharing good rather than gossip and choosing caring rather than cutting words.

Otherwise, we find our tongue in drive while our brain is in neutral. It is then that our words become verbal shrapnel that lodges in another person's emotions with disastrous results.

Here's what I have concluded. Words are verbalized thoughts that emanate from our hearts. If we turn to Scripture and use Philippians 4:8 as our thought sifter, our communication will always go from negative to positive....

Read it all.

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

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Posted February 12, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At its heart this book, Gay and Catholic: Accepting My Sexuality, Finding Community, Living My Faith, is an extended effort to assure gay and lesbian people that entering the church will not mean the suppression of their longings and loves. It will, Tushnet promises, mean that those loves will be changed, reshaped, or reconfigured. But it won’t mean that they’ll simply be erased. Borrowing the historic language of vocations, she speaks of “figuring out how God is calling me to love and then pouring myself out into that love.” If gay people fear that becoming a Christian equals a one-way ticket to lifelong loneliness, Tushnet’s book is one long argument to the contrary.

The book has an uncluttered structure. Following several chapters that narrate her upbringing, including her coming out at age 13, her days as a student activist, and her eventual conversion to Catholicism while an undergraduate at Yale, Tushnet simply examines several possible ways that gay Catholics may give and receive love while remaining faithful to traditional Christian sexual ethics. There’s a chapter on friendship—not the anemic variety we now associate with Facebook verbs (“friending” and “unfriending”), but the vowed, lifelong kind associated with the church fathers and saints like Francis of Assisi and Clare, his spiritual sister. There are chapters on intentional community and parish life. There are explorations of service (Tushnet herself volunteers at a crisis pregnancy center, where she speaks of how her “connection to other women does have an adoring and erotic component, and [how she] wanted to find a way to express that connection through works of mercy”). And there are discussions of possible roadblocks gay Catholics may encounter in their search for loving community.

This book articulates, better than anything I’ve been able to find, the real yearnings, fears, and questions of gay Catholics (and other traditionalist Christians). But more than that, it also portrays, in vivid and personal terms, the hope of the church—the hope of the gospel that speaks to those desires and fears and beckons us on, to a brighter future in the household of God. I recommend it wholeheartedly, without reservation, as the best book of its kind.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsRoman CatholicSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted February 12, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As we ponder this momentous ruling of our nation’s highest court, let us pray that the gifts of the Holy Spirit will guide all of us in our response: Above all, that the gifts of wisdom, right judgment and courage will flourish among us.

Moreover, we cannot fail to proclaim the gospel of life with both vigor and joy: that every life has an inherent God-given dignity from the moment of conception until life’s natural end. And let the words of St. Paul we heard in today’s second reading ring out in our minds and hearts: “If I proclaim the Gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the Gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16).

The mission ahead of us is not committed only to a few. Rather, it is mine; it is yours; it is ours.

With God’s help, which he offers in this Eucharist, may we fulfill this obligation to proclaim the Gospel for the welfare of all our brothers and sisters.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryCanada* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 11, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Loneliness and isolation are England’s most widespread social problems and are common even in affluent middle class areas, according to a survey of vicars.

The number of clergy reporting that social isolation is a major problem in their area has risen by ten per cent in the past three years.

The survey published by the Church Urban Fund and the Church of England showed loneliness was the only issue to be cited by clergy as a significant problem in the majority of wealthier, as well as deprived areas.

Social isolation was listed as a more common problem than unemployment, homelessness and poor housing by the 1,812 clergy who completed the questionnaire.

Read it all from the Telegraph.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted February 9, 2015 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But there’s something else. When you watch these clips there’s a troubling ambiguity to them now. One frame around them is: Williams pays tribute to the troops who fought the war and protected him in the desert. He does a lot to make that message explicit, and this part of the performance requires expressions of humility. I’m no solider, I’m no war correspondent, I had no business being there, I’m so grateful for these brave men and women.

When you watch it now, though, you may wonder: Why does this story keep coming up? How is it getting in front of audiences repeatedly over the years?

Let’s take the Lettermen appearance in 2013. Did the show’s producers say, “Hey, it’s the tenth anniversary of Brian almost getting shot out of the sky in the helicopter, let’s have him on…”? Seems unlikely. Letterman says in the clip he either forgot or never knew about the episode. More likely: Williams wanted to talk about it, so they programmed it in. That’s not so modest.

Why is Madison Square Garden halting a hockey game and directing the attention of fans to Brian Williams and his military buddy being “reunited?” Because they knew about this story and thought it would be nice to revisit it 12 years later? Or because NBC promotion people alerted them and asked for the story to be re-told over the PA system?

Read it all.

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

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Posted February 8, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This brings me to a second response to the question, “Have you given up hope?” On the contrary, calling oneself a “celibate gay Christian” may be a way of expressing , not giving up, hope—but expressing it in a way that doesn’t link that hope to orientation change. Claiming the label “celibate gay Christian” means, for me, recognizing my homosexual orientation as a kind of “thorn in the flesh.” When the apostle Paul used that phrase in his correspondence with the Corinthian church, he made clear that his “thorn” was indeed an unwelcome source of pain (2 Corinthians 12:7). But he also made clear that it had become the very occasion for his experience of the power of the risen Christ and, therefore, a paradoxical site of grace (2 Corinthians 12:8). Paul, I think, would have had no qualms about labeling himself a “thorn-pricked Christian”—not because he recognized his thorn as a good thing, in and of itself, but because it had become for him the means by which he encountered the power of Christ. Likewise, living with an unchanged homosexual orientation may be for many of us the means by which we discover new depths of grace, as well as new vocations of service to others .

Commenting on 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and the homosexual partnerships that some of Paul’s readers had been involved in prior to their baptism, J. I. Packer writes about Paul’s gospel :

With some of the Corinthian Christians, Paul was celebrating the moral empowering of the Holy Spirit in heterosexual terms; with others of the Corinthians, today’s homosexuals are called to prove, live out, and celebrate the moral empowering of the Holy Spirit in homosexual terms.

Finding the moral empowering—and the grace and consolation—of the Holy Spirit “in homosexual terms” is, it seems to me, what leads many of us to label ourselves “celibate gay Christians.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted February 8, 2015 at 11:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Canadian adults in grievous, unending pain have a right to end their life with a doctor’s help, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday.

The unanimous ruling, by establishing that the “sanctity of life” also includes the “passage into death,” extends constitutional rights into a new realm. The courts have used the 1982 Charter of Rights to establish gay marriage and to strike down a federal abortion law. The new ruling will change the way some Canadians are permitted to die.

In a brief, powerful opening paragraph, the court explained why it was creating a new constitutional right to autonomy over one’s death in some circumstances: Those who are severely and irremediably suffering, whether physically or psychologically, “may be condemned to a life of severe and intolerable suffering” by the government’s absolute ban on assisted dying. “A person facing this prospect has two options: she can take her own life prematurely, often by violent or dangerous means, or she can suffer until she dies from natural causes. The choice is cruel.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 7, 2015 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo is taking personal responsibility for his platform's chronic problems with harassment and abuse, telling employees that he is embarrassed for the company's failures and would soon be taking stronger action to eliminate trolls. He said problems with trolls are driving away the company's users. "We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we've sucked at it for years," Costolo wrote in an internal memo obtained by The Verge. "It's no secret and the rest of the world talks about it every day. We lose core user after core user by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day.

Costolo's comments came in response to a question on an internal forum about a recent story by Lindy West, a frequent target of harassment on Twitter. Among other things, West's tormentors created a Twitter account for her then recently deceased father and made cruel comments about her on the service; West recently shared her story on This American Life and The Guardian.

Read it all.

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

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Posted February 6, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With the rise of Tinder, mobile digital dating has become a whole new trend. With this, a slew of mobile dating apps and copycats have rushed to fill the niche.

Online dating is not really something new. Sites like eHarmony and OkCupid have long dominated the market. These sites required users to create elaborate online profiles and used algorithms to suggest matches. All this accoutrements, however, have been transformed by the simplicity of Tinder, reports the New York Times.

The app, available for iOS and Android, enables users to scan potential dates based on photos, distance and a short description. To express interest in a potential date, users just swipe right. It is also a cinch to set up, as it uses one's already established Facebook account.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Creativity is a basic human function, and a good economy is one that enables creativity to happen. That is why full employment matters, investment in education is essential, skills development is core, and businesses of all kinds should be given the space to develop and create wealth (and to fail), to create employment and prosperity for the society in which they live, it is a God-given call and function.

The market is an extraordinarily efficient mechanism of distribution in a complex society and hugely liberating of human creativity. No better form of allocation of resources has been found, and the alternatives have always led to inhumanity or even tyranny. At the same time the market cannot create or sustain the shared morality needed to ensure that it works carefully and lovingly at every level.

Adam Smith famously spoke with equal conviction of the dangers of market manipulation as he did of the invisible hand. The experience of 2008 shows that the complexity of human motivation and greed can never be left to the market to deal with. There is no such thing as a level playing field if human beings are involved, and there is no such thing as a fully fair and free market. It doesn't exist.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomy* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 5, 2015 at 5:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The key to eternal life could be a procedure to lengthen chromosomes.

The procedure would allow scientists to lengthen telomeres, the protective caps that are on the end of chromosomes and shorten with age.

The telomeres protect chromosomes from getting damage as cells divide and grow. But as they do, they slowly become shorter and eventually are unable to protect the chromosomes. When that happens, they are liable to deteriorate — thought to be a key part of the ageing process.

The new process allows scientists to lengthen the telomeres, effectively turning back the biological clock and making the chromosomes — and the people that are made out of them — younger.

Read it all.

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

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Posted February 4, 2015 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Denys Munby said to me once, "In Heaven there is no scarcity and in Hell there is no choice." In the created world there are both. The dignity of free will would be meaningless if a choice of one good, such as apples, did not have what the economists call an "opportunity cost" in, say, oranges. If we could have all the apples and oranges we wanted, "living in idleness," as Paul put it, with no "budget constraint," no "scarcity," we would live as overfed pet cats, not as human beings. If we have free will, and therefore necessarily face scarcity, we live truly in the image of God.

Scarcity is necessary for human virtues. Humility, said Aquinas, answers among the Christian virtues to the pagan virtue of great-souledness, or magnanimity, which Aristotle the pagan teacher of aristocrats admired so much. To be humble is to temper one's passions in pursuing, as Aquinas put it, boni ardui - goods difficult of achievement. To be great-souled - which, in turn, is part of the cardinal virtue of courage - is to keep working towards such goods nonetheless. No one would need to be courageous or prudent or great-souled or humble if goods were faciles rather than ardui.

The virtue of temperance, again, is not about mortification of the flesh - not, at any rate, for Christian thinkers like Aquinas (there were others, descendants of the Desert Fathers, who had another idea). On the contrary, this side of Christianity says, we should admire the moderate yet relishing use of a world charged with the grandeur of God.

It is the message of the Aquinian side of Christian thought that we should not withdraw from the world. On the contrary, as Jesus was, we should be truly, and laboriously, and gloriously human.

Read it all From ABC Australia's Religion and Ethics website.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted February 3, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Like many, I discovered Drucker through his extensive writings in the discipline of management. But as I read his books, I got little hints that he might be something more than a gifted writer of bestselling business books. Though some credit him with the founding of management as an academic field, and most associate him with such books as The Effective Executive (1967) and Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, and Practices (1973), I noticed that his earlier works, from the 1940s and 1950s, had more expansive titles such as The End of Economic Man and The New Society. I also learned that his academic training was not in management but in law; he had obtained his European doctorate in international law. I began to see Drucker as a social and political thinker as well as an astute business mind. This is, after all, the man who viewed management primarily as a liberal art.

Since making that realization, I have studied his earlier books. Drucker thought a lot about such things as totalitarianism, decentralization, limited government, an American type of conservatism that he thought had special characteristics, social harmony, the impact of mass production on human beings, and other topics. One subject that preoccupied him in those earlier decades was the Christian faith. In an attempt to draw more attention to a somewhat forgotten aspect of the man and his work, I will in what follows identify and discuss some of Drucker's key themes regarding the Christian faith in relation to society and government.

Read it all.

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

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Posted February 2, 2015 at 4:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

California legislators have introduced assisted suicide legislation modeled on Oregon's assisted suicide law, energized by the heartbreaking story of Brittany Maynard, a young woman with brain cancer, who moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to Oregon to end her own life Nov. 1.

Before her suicide, Maynard, 29, created videos asking for assisted suicide legislation that drew tens of millions of views, and her mother and husband are now campaigning for legalization.

California S.B. 128, as it is called, would allow doctors to prescribe a lethal dose of medication to terminally ill patients who want to commit suicide. Written by Democratic Sens. Bill Monning and Lois Wolk, the bill has sparked strong opposition.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 2, 2015 at 1:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Superstitions abound regarding certain days, numbers, or objects. People fear that somehow Friday the 13th, black cats, broken mirrors, or ladders may have a hand in shaping the future. Most of these superstitions have murky, ancient origins and have been passed down from generation to generation.

Recent surveys show that superstition is alive and well in the Western world. One survey reported that 20 percent of Americans think it’s unlucky to walk under a ladder and 13 percent think a black cat crossing their path will bring bad luck. A survey in Britain found that 77 percent of those in the UK admit to being “at least a little superstitious” and 42 percent say that they are very or somewhat superstitious. How should Christians respond to these superstitions?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyApologetics

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Posted February 2, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Rebecca] West, writing in 1949, was thinking primarily of communism. From the Stalinists recently ascendant in her beloved Balkans to Fabian grandees Sidney and Beatrice Webb in England, from whose dinner parties she had lately been banned for being too argumentative, the socialists of her day were united in their endorsement of the Marxist axiom that all human behavior can be traced back to material motivations. The purpose of this logical razor was to discredit their opponents by attributing all bourgeois beliefs to class interest, with religion and morality reduced to power plays designed to keep the proletariat in subjection.

West was clever enough to realize that vulgar Marxism was just as likely to be directed inward. A socialist, especially a Western European one, was often someone who had perceived within himself certain longings that an earlier age would have properly identified as moral or religious, but whose intellectual equipment could only process these longings as commitment to social justice. An entire generation had developed a warped idea of what moral seriousness sounds like, and they ended up pledging their souls to economics as a result.

The moral vocabulary that now prevails in the United States is less Marxist but no less vulgar, for it is just as adamant that all moral claims be translated into material terms. The only difference is that material self-interest is now permitted to coexist with material altruism. Bad behavior can be condemned only if it is shown to correlate with some quantifiable negative outcome like a greater likelihood of receiving a free or reduced-price lunch among grade-schoolers, a higher incidence of antidepressant use among adults, or a measurable decline in the national GDP. Moral questions are treated as if they were, at the end of the day, merely empirical. We are hesitant, almost to the point of paralysis, about making moral claims on moral grounds.

This error is not the same thing as scientism, that ripe intellectual leftover of the Progressive Era. In fact, it is almost the reverse....

Read it all from First Things.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & Culture* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 1, 2015 at 12:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Americans are taking the money they are saving at the gas pump and socking it away, a sign of consumers’ persistent caution even when presented with an unexpected windfall.

This newfound commitment to frugality was illustrated this past week when the nation’s biggest payment-card companies said they aren’t seeing evidence consumers are putting their gasoline savings toward discretionary items like travel, home renovations and electronics.

Instead, people are more often putting the money aside for a rainy day or using it to pay down debt. That more Americans are saving their bounty at the pump comes as a surprise, because the personal savings rate, after rising during and after the recession, has declined steadily over the past two years.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPersonal FinanceEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 1, 2015 at 11:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last Tuesday, a group of Holocaust survivors, by now gaunt and frail, made their way back to Auschwitz, the West’s symbol of evil—back to the slave-labor side of the vast complex, with its mocking inscription Arbeit Macht Frei (“Work makes you free”), and back to the death camp, where a million and a quarter human beings, most of them Jews, were gassed, burned and turned to ash. They were there to commemorate the day, 70 years ago, when Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz and saw, for the first time, the true dimensions of the greatest crime since human beings first set foot on Earth.

The moment would have been emotional at the best of times, but this year brought an especially disturbing undercurrent. The Book of Genesis says that, when God told Abraham what would happen to his descendants, a “fear of great darkness” fell over him. Something of that fear haunted the survivors this week, who have witnessed the return of anti-Semitism to Europe after 70 years of political leaders constant avowals of “Never again.” As they finished saying Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for mourners, one man cried out, “I don’t want to come here again.” Everyone knew what he meant. For once, the fear was not only about the past but also about the future.

The murder of Jewish shoppers at a Parisian kosher supermarket three weeks ago, after the killing of 12 people at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, sent shivers down the spines of many Jews, not because it was the first such event but because it has become part of a pattern. In 2014, four were killed at the Jewish Museum in Brussels. In 2012, a rabbi and three young children were murdered at a Jewish school in Toulouse. In 2008 in Mumbai, four terrorists separated themselves from a larger group killing people in the city’s cafes and hotels and made their way to a small Orthodox Jewish center, where they murdered its young rabbi and his pregnant wife after torturing and mutilating them. As the Sunday Times of London reported about the attack, “the terrorists would be told by their handlers in Pakistan that the lives of Jews were worth 50 times those of non-Jews.”

Read it all.

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

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Posted February 1, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A recent study from Duke University analyzed over 5,200 U.S. children who were born out of wedlock and recommended that unmarried parents marry before a child turns three so they'll create the strongest possible bond. Study author Christina Gibson-Davis writes: "If you think that stable marriage is beneficial for kids, very few kids born out of wedlock are experiencing that." Gibson also found that marriages are more likely to succeed if mothers marry biological fathers rather than a stepfather.

Many experts conclude that cohabitation puts children at risk for instability. As the rate of couples who live together without being married rises radically, children in America are more likely to experience cohabitation than divorce, according to W. Brad Wilcox, Director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia. Wilcox posits that they're also at risk for potential psychological and academic problems, poverty, instability, and child abuse. He writes, "Compared to marriage, cohabitation furnishes less commitment, stability, sexual fidelity, and safety for romantic partners and their children."

Consequently, cohabiting couples are more than twice as likely to breakup and four times as likely to be unfaithful to one another, compared with married couples. A recent study from Drs. Sheela Kennedy and Larry Bumpass found that 65 percent of children born to cohabitating parents saw their parents' breakup by age 12, compared to 24 percent born to married families.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychologyYoung Adults* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted January 31, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The ethics of becoming a parent and the ethics of being a parent seem to have a different character and different rules. For example, what counts as selflessness in the latter may be criticised as selfish in the former. Thus, on the model of the ethics of war, we may separate the ethics of parenthood into two phases, which might be parodied as jus ad parenthood and jus in parenthood.

The critique of parenthood as selfish relies on a strong distinction between becoming and being a parent, so that a parent's own selfless dedication to their children cannot count in their favour. The charge is that the decision to become a parent is a selfish one because it effectively hijacks society's sense of justice towards the needs of children once created to socialise the costs of a private and therefore necessarily self-interested lifestyle choice.

My concern in this article has been to reject the strong distinction between the ethics of becoming and the ethics of being a parent, and hence the claim that parenthood is selfish.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 30, 2015 at 1:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With the great benefit of having heard all the talks that came before him, Prof. McGrath was able to tailor his remarks to the themes of the other speakers, while at the same time illuminating those points with his own insights drawn from C.S. Lewis' many writings. He sketched his main theme by asking and then answering his own question as he imagined Lewis would: "What can we do to change the story that dominates our culture? Tell a better story -- capture the imagination."

As a starting point for understanding the age we live in, he recommended philosopher Charles Taylor's definitive work, A Secular Age (2007). There Taylor carefully traces the "shift in master narratives" which has taken place since the 1500's: then it was difficult not to believe in God, while today people find it difficult to believe in God.

Taylor draws a sharp distinction between natural and supernatural. While the latter used to be regarded as not impossible, the concept was undermined beginning with the modern philosophies of Descartes and Spinoza, which were amplified by the post-moderns Heidegger and Wittgenstein. But post-modernism asks us to accept things which cannot be proved, based wholly on assumptions. (Philosophy, like theology, is fiduciary in that it asks us to trust the philosophy that is expressed. Yet philosophy will not accept or trust in the existence of God, which likewise cannot be proved.)

C.S. Lewis, said McGrath, is neither modern nor post-modern. He bridges both camps -- he mingles reason with imagination. And this insight will help us break the power of today's master narratives ("metanarratives") over the popular imagination.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchPoetry & LiteraturePsychology* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyApologeticsChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 30, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sure, anti-Christian bigots will sometimes act like intolerant thugs, demanding that a Brendan Eich be fired, or calling for a conservative Christian college to conform to ideological liberalism in every respect. But when that happens, critics (like me) will denounce the bigots, drawing on resources from within the liberal tradition to defend the principle of tolerance for every American, secular and devout, against the illiberal do-gooders who prefer moral purity (as they define it) to freedom.

But that’s not good enough for Hanby, Weigel, and Dreher. They are in mourning for Christianity’s loss of cultural hegemony in the United States.

I’d like to suggest that they should get over it — that, rightly understood, Christianity can be most fully itself when it relinquishes political and cultural rule, when it ceases to identify itself so closely with any particular political order.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 29, 2015 at 7:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The contradiction in Mr. Sisi’s aim of keeping the heterosexual, conservative Muslim man at the top of Egypt’s moral hierarchy is glaring. You can’t trump the Islamists in their piety and lead a campaign against minorities like atheists and gay men even as you condemn extremist violence and show solidarity for free speech and free thinking.

This week we mark the fourth anniversary of the 2011 revolution. Although it has not delivered the political freedoms it called for, it did begin an unraveling of authority that has left Egypt’s self-appointed moral guardians disconcerted and scrambling. Armed with social media, more people are insisting on asking and telling — about personal belief and sexual identity. A reckoning is long overdue in a country where religion and morality have so often been bent to suit the political expedients of its rulers.

Despite the clampdown, atheists are openly challenging such hypocrisy. Social media has allowed those who “deviate” from the authoritarian template to find one another and express themselves in ways that the regime, its men of religion and its media otherwise deny them. A religious revolution has begun, but not on Mr. Sisi’s or the clerics’ terms. We all stand to gain if fathers no longer testify against sons, and families no longer feel the need to prove their loved ones are “real men.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted January 29, 2015 at 7:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tone is equally difficult to achieve; electronic media has no volume control. The US President Teddy Roosevelt spoke of speaking softly and carrying a big stick. Electronic media speaks loudly and carries a big stick – through it we have no other means of speaking, especially in the compressed form that is often used.

For disputes within church communities, Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel makes it quite clear that personal interaction is essential – yet all of us feel that when someone has done something wrong, we should all say so! Electronic media breaks through locked doors, and pierces people painfully. It is not for all of us to set everyone right on everything. There’s a point at which we need to leave it to those who know people to speak to them personally and quietly – in spaces where the tone is subtle and full of love. That is how people can be put back together rather than torn apart and left lying around in electronic media space.

Love often says don’t tweet. Love often says don’t write. Love often says if you must rebuke, then do so in person and with touch – with an arm around the shoulder and tears in your eyes that can be seen by the person being rebuked.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingPsychologyReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I have a confession.

When I was in college, I read a book by a prominent megachurch pastor. The author told me to live like a child of God. He told me God wanted to bless me. He also mentioned that if I only believed, God would give me the nicest house in the neighborhood. That seemed to make sense.

The author explained that he once wanted the nicest house in the neighborhood, and God gave it to him. Here was a man with evidence. Not only did he have the story about the house, and other anecdotes, he also had a very nice set of white teeth (Ah, supernaturally white, I thought).

This was my first introduction to what is popularly called the “prosperity gospel” or the “health and wealth” gospel. At the time, the logic seemed airtight: “If it worked for him, why shouldn’t it work for me?”

If I had dug a bit deeper, though, I would have seen the actual reason it worked for him and not for me. It’s because the prosperity gospel is a pyramid scheme.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* TheologyAnthropology

1 Comments
Posted January 28, 2015 at 3:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In his new memoir, Dear Father, J. Ivy describes the pain of being abandoned by his father. But the book is not just about that relationship and what might have been. It's a retracing of a unique career, and what it took for Ivy to get to the place he is today. A Grammy Award-winning poet and spoken-word artist, Ivy is also the author of the book HERE I AM: Then & Now and has collaborated with Kanye West and Jay-Z.

He tells NPR's Rachel Martin that his path to becoming a writer was a long one....

One of the chapters [in his new memoir] is actually titled ... "Forgiveness is Remembering to Forgive Again." And I learned that because there would be so many moments, you know so many life moments that would happen and ... I wish my father was there for me to pick up the phone and talk to him. A year and a half after that moment, after us reconnecting, he passed away. ... There was a lot of regret, which would lead back to those moments of anger. And there was guilt and there was sadness. And, you know, there were just these things that would reconjure in my mind. And it wasn't until I wrote this poem that I was able to exercise that forgiveness on a regular basis.

Read (or better listen to) it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyMusicPoetry & LiteraturePsychology* TheologyAnthropologySoteriology

0 Comments
Posted January 25, 2015 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingMovies & TelevisionPsychology* General InterestHumor / Trivia

0 Comments
Posted January 25, 2015 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

n his Preface, the Bishop of Coventry notes that that the report is offered as a resource for theological reflection that can "inform the improvisations the church will continue to require in its practice of leadership and anchor them in faithfulness to the gospel…. How do the dynamics of Church life and leadership in the New Testament apply to the Church today? How might we draw faithfully and creatively on the rich traditions of the church over two millennia around authority, responsibility and service? How can we talk constructively about ambition in church life and deal with the realities of disappointment and the experience of failure? These are not just issues for those who exercise senior leadership in the Church of England. We hope this report can contribute to fostering serious thought and prayer about them."

Professor Loveday Alexander, one of the members of the Faith and Order Commission, comments: "What we are offering, as a gift to the Church and as the result of many years of collective reflection, is a theological contribution to practical thinking about leadership development in the Church. We have tried to set out some of the deep spiritual roots of the Church's understanding of what it means to exercise leadership within the body of Christ."

Read it all and note the whole report is there.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted January 21, 2015 at 12:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Instead of being watched by the state through telescreens, we carry our own screens—ones that put more information at our fingertips than an entire government department could have compiled in Orwell’s day. Big Brother has been defeated by capitalist technology.

But if, like most of his contemporaries, he was too gloomy, Orwell got one thing uncannily right. In an appendix to his dystopian novel, he discussed how an idea could be made literally unthinkable if there were no words to express it. The illustration he gave was the word “free.” In Newspeak, “free” could be used only in the sense of “this field is free from weeds” or “this dog is free from lice.” The concept of political or intellectual freedom had disappeared, because no one could put it into words.

What an eerily prescient example to have chosen. In recent years this is more or less what has happened to the word “free.” In 1948, “freedom” still had its traditional meaning of a guarantee against coercion: freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of worship. Since then, however, “freedom” has come to mean “entitlement,” as in “freedom to work,” “freedom from hunger,” “freedom from discrimination,” and so on. Thus, the notion that the state ought not to boss us around becomes harder to convey, and the politician who supports that notion is disadvantaged.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksEducationHistoryMediaPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 19, 2015 at 11:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some people have obvious activities to chop. If you're surfing the web for four hours a day or spending your weekends in a casino, you know what needs to be done. But I'd wager most of us have more difficult decisions to make. Streamlining our schedules and keeping our sanity involves continually choosing the best from among the merely good.

In my interview with Bill Hybels from the Spring issue of Leadership, I asked him what changes he'd made to simplify his life. He talked about scheduling. "I know that sounds like such a boring subject," he said, "but sitting down before God with a calendar and a submitted spirit is one of the holiest things you can do."

That's good advice. I don't think following it will magically make our lives simple. If we wanted simple, we wouldn't have chosen ministry. But bringing our complicated lives before God and submitting every detail to his will—that's a pretty good place to start.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 18, 2015 at 1:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Supreme Court announced Friday it will decide this term a historic question about whether the Constitution requires same-sex couples be allowed to marry or whether states are free to limit marriage to its traditional definition as a union only between a man and a woman.

The court will answer a question left open when it last confronted the issue in 2013 and said that a key portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional and in a separate case allowed same-sex marriages to resume in California.

The court Friday accepted cases from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, where restrictions about same-sex marriage were upheld by an appeals court, to confront the issue. The court will hear oral arguments in April and decide the issue by the time justices adjourn in June.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted January 16, 2015 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Good morning. The British Museum opened its doors on this day in 1759, the first national public museum in the world. Sir Hans Sloane had gathered 71,000 artefacts from many parts of the world and these formed the core of the collection. 5,000 visitors a year to begin with has grown to six million annually now. As success stories go, the British Museum is hard to beat.

I must have been eleven when I first went there. I recall being surprised that not everything in the British Museum came from Britain. My juvenile and literal mind needed broadening. Fortunately my education provided windows onto different cultures and histories. At places like the British Museum many of us realise how much we have to learn from countries we’ve never visited, people we’ve never met and things which happened long before we were born.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith Relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 15, 2015 at 4:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After high school, I attended a Christian liberal arts college. In the first semester of my freshman year, I signed up for a course with a brilliant, articulate, recently minted DPhil graduate of Oxford University. The textbook for our introduction to the Bible course was Jesus: A New Vision, by Marcus J. Borg, a prominent fellow of the Jesus Seminar. The scholarly project intended to discover “the historical Jesus” apart from creedal commitments or church teaching....

For me, this dose of higher criticism was nearly lethal. Any sense that the Bible was divinely inspired and trustworthy, or that the creeds had metaphysical gravitas, started to seem implausible. The best I could muster was that, somehow mystically, perhaps Jesus was the Christ, existentially speaking....

When I told my father what I was thinking, he was alarmed. He recommended different apologetics works that defended biblical authority. I sloughed them off. Keep in mind that this was an era before figures such as Craig Blomberg, N. T. Wright, and Luke Timothy Johnson had gained notoriety among evangelicals and had written their best work on the historical reliability of the Scriptures.

Then Dad had a brainstorm. He knew that I was enamored with modern philosophy. So one day when I phoned home, he said, “There’s an evangelical theologian who might interest you. His PhD is in philosophy....His name is Carl F. H. Henry. Find the volumes of God, Revelation, and Authority in your library, and read them before you decide to give up the faith.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

3 Comments
Posted January 15, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A quarter of Jews in Britain have considered leaving the country in the last two years and well over half feel they have no long term future in Europe, according to a survey published on Wednesday.

Additionally, anti-Semitic beliefs are widely prevalent among the wider public with 45 percent of Britons agreeing with at least one anti-Semitic sentiment, the YouGov poll for the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) group found.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted January 14, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Serving as another indication of the public's perceptions of an improving economy, 45% of Americans now say it is a good time to find a quality job, up from 36% in December, and as high as this indicator has been since May 2007.

Gallup has asked Americans about their views of the job market on a monthly basis since August 2001, when 39% of Americans agreed that it was a good time to find a quality job. These views became less positive through 2003, but then turned the corner. By January 2007, 48% said it was a good time to find a quality job -- the highest Gallup has recorded. Positive views of the job market began to drop that year and dropped further with the onset of the Great Recession, reaching the all-time low of 8% in November 2009 and again in November 2011. Since 2012, these attitudes have been recovering, breaking through the 30% line in 2014 for the first time in six years, and jumping to 45% this month.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

PROFESSOR JAMES GRIMMELMAN: When you start experimenting on people, you start manipulating their environment to see how they react, you’re turning them into your lab rats.

CHRISTIAN RUDDER: The outrage that greeted that particular experiment far outstripped its practical implications.

DANAH BOYD: Why the controversy blew up at the time and in the way that it did is that we’re not sure we trust Facebook.

LUCKY SEVERSON, correspondent: There were tremors of ethical outrage when a major scientific journal revealed that the social media site Facebook had conducted experiments, altering what customers see on their own pages. The outrage was voiced across all forms of media, both traditional ones and digital outlets like YouTube.

Read or watch and listen to it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted January 13, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

How to share the gospel in a bazaar world? Lately I’m seeing the need to reverse what I learned as the linear process from inner conversation to service in the world. What if instead the Spirit is leading us to begin with acts of mercy and justice? How can we use our connective technology to host conversations about real-life experiences, to ask thoughtful questions and then see where our stories intersect the gospel? And then how can we take things deeper, challenging one another to live a life of integrity and purpose, using God’s gifts for the healing of the world?

I’ve also been intrigued by communication models such as the TED talks, the Episcopal Story Project and the Khan Academy. Where I’m serving, the question is this: how do we move the discussion from the (mostly empty) couches in the parish hall to the online world that people can access from where they are, when they have the time? It’s about going where people are, rather than continuing to try to make them come to us.

After finally letting go of some old wineskins, my church is finding creative energy to go after new ones. I don’t know what exactly this will look like, but it is a thrill and a privilege to be a gospel-bearer during this reformation. There is much for us to receive, but we won’t have the hands to do it unless we set down whatever things are no longer working.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryAdult EducationEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingPsychologyReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 12, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“We are in a situation that is a situation of war.” The words of Roger Cukierman, head of the main Jewish representative body in France, reverberated on Sunday at the end of a week that had seen a vulnerable community shattered by the deaths of several Jews in a series of terrorist incidents.

“Jews are very afraid,” says Emmanuelle, a young Jew, who like many did not want her last name used. “There is a real, justified paranoia.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamJudaismSecularism* Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 12, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Navigating the Internet used to mean painstakingly typing the exact address you wanted into your computer. The web browser and the search engine simplified that, giving us the Internet we take for granted today.

Now, across Silicon Valley, companies from tiny start-ups to titans like Google and Facebook are trying to bring the same simplicity to smartphones by teaching apps to talk to one another.

Unlike web pages, mobile apps do not have links. They do not have web addresses. They live in worlds by themselves, largely cut off from one another and the broader Internet. And so it is much harder to share the information found on them.

It is not just a matter of consumer convenience. For Google and Facebook, and any company that has built its business on the web, it is a matter of controlling the next entryway to the Internet — the mobile device.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted January 9, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The terrorist attack in France that targeted a satirical weekly, killing 12 people, has seen an outpouring of solidarity, both in France and around the world, in defense of shared values of free speech and tolerance.

But at the same time, the attack has given new fodder to Europe's burgeoning populist movements – in a way that could prevent mainstream leaders from easing the tensions in their countries magnified by the assault on the magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Rising resentments across Europe call for leaders to act inclusively against Islamophobia, experts say. But the Continent's populist swing, already eating away at support for mainstream parties, could extract a greater political cost than European leaders are willing to make.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEurope* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted January 9, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A show opened in New York recently that didn't get a whole lot of attention, but it features some of the most powerful singing voices you've never heard. You haven't heard them because for most of the performers, this is their first time on the stage. They've been singing their whole lives -- in church, in amateur groups, in the shower -- but like so many who had dreams of making it big, life somehow got in the way.

The show was created by a theater producer and former disc jockey named Vy Higginsen, who has made it her mission to preserve a special part of American culture: African-American music, both gospel and popular music like soul and R&B. She found a pool of untapped talent, men and women in what she calls their "second half of life" just waiting for their chance to shine.

Read (or better watch) it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyMusicPsychology* TheologyAnthropologyChristologySoteriology

1 Comments
Posted January 8, 2015 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But last Sunday, sitting and trying to be unobtrusive on the back row of the circle of chairs at House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver and watching the eclectic crowd gathering around the central altar, I thought of another thing I might say to pastors and churches about offering a welcome.

Apart from any specific programming or practice that a church might implement in order to be more hospitable to LGBT people, I think I’d suggest that churches would simply do well to ask themselves: Do we want—do we really want—queer people walking through our doors and sitting in our pews and sharing in our post-service potlucks? Are we asking about how to welcome them because we feel that we must, or is it that we really do want these people among us because they’re our neighbors and friends?

I watched Nadia on Sunday walking around the room greeting people who were there. I saw her giving long, tight hugs, high fives, and warm smiles to dozens of folks, lingering to talk with them and (it appeared) hear their stories and concerns from the past week. I watched her during the ten-minute interlude after her sermon, as she cradled one of the infants of the congregation on the edge of the room. And my main impression was, This woman just likes this ragtag bunch of people here. She liked them. She was happy to be with that crew. And they, in turn, seemed happy to be in her company. They seemed to want to talk a bit longer with her, and they didn’t resist those hugs and high fives at all.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 8, 2015 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In summary, the rationale behind the PMM is:

funeral services of suicides conducted by Church of England clergy may be in contravention of Canon B38; and
removing this canonical bar [on the use of “the rites of the Church of England” in these circumstances] “would send a very positive message to society at large, particularly if presented in the context that it was actually recognising current practice.”

Not quite the “legalization of suicide” or a “U-turn on funerals” of the headline; essentially an alignment of canon law with current custom and practice that will have little perceptible impact on the families of those involved. If clergy adherence to canon law were a major concern to the Church, infractions such as these are not necessarily the place at which one would start. As the Revd Gavin Foster has observed[1]:

“the requirements of Canon Law were perceived by clergy to be distant, ‘other’, far away and irrelevant to the everyday life of the Church. [Anglican] clergy seemed to be only vaguely aware of the requirements of canon law and would frequently (and quite often knowingly) breach them.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologySuicideReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

9 Comments
Posted January 7, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Days before he was scheduled to die, inmate Frank Van Den Bleeken has been told he won't be allowed to die from an assisted suicide, despite his request. Last fall, a court approved a deal that would have allowed him to end his life.

The planned euthanasia was called off this week, after the doctor who was to oversee the procedure backed out. Belgian justice officials said Tuesday that they will work out a better solution for Van Den Bleeken.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsPrison/Prison MinistryPsychology* International News & CommentaryEuropeBelgium* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 6, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Every year, the American Time Use Survey asks thousands of Americans to record a minute-by-minute account of one single day. For many “prime-age” adults, those between the ages of 25 and 54, a significant chunk of time on weekdays is taken up by work. But for the almost 30 million prime-age Americans who don’t work, a typical weekday looks far different.

Nonworkers spend much more time doing housework. Men without jobs, in particular, spend more time watching television, while women without jobs spend more time taking care of others. And the nonemployed of both sexes spend more time sleeping than their employed counterparts.

One way to see these patterns is to look at what the “average” nonemployed person does with his or her time. That’s the view you see in the charts above. But averages are by nature a simplification, one that can sometimes obscure reality. For example, in the chart above, you can see that from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., about 10 percent of men are consistently spending time on education. That could mean that many men spend a small portion of their days — albeit at different times — on education, or it could mean that about 10 percent of men spend nearly all of their time on education.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dr. Seitz, one of the pledge’s authors, said that as an academic he does not “do the kind of weddings on a regular basis as someone whose full-time job” is in the clergy. And many of those who have signed his pledge appear to be laypeople, or women in traditions in which women do not perform weddings. Like them, he is mostly an observer, and one of his observations is that we are in “a funny time.”

If marriage moves toward becoming just “a contract between two people, the state can take care of that,” Dr. Seitz said. “And it makes a lot of sense — property, custody of children.” But he believes that marriage needs more, and that the state may be weakening, rather than enhancing, the customs and mores that uphold the institution.

Dr. Radner, the pledge’s other author, is on sabbatical in France, which has long separated religious marriage from civil marriage. Seeing the separation up close has only made him more of a fan.

“Just living here made me realize that the church can function rather well,” he said, “and also avoid some of the conflict that we seem to get all embroiled in in the U.S. over sexuality matters, by being somewhat disentangled, practically, from the civil marriage system.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryCanada* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySacramental TheologySeminary / Theological Education

2 Comments
Posted January 5, 2015 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England is embroiled in a row over proposals to sweep away laws that forbid a full Christian funeral to people who have taken their own lives.

Most clergy now regard suicide with far more sympathy than when ‘self murder’ was still a crime, and the move will be seen as reflecting a growing acceptance as more Britons choose to end their lives in clinics such as Dignitas in Switzerland.

But some critics within the Church say the reforms will ‘legalise’ suicide, which should still be regarded a serious sin.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologySuicide* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 5, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For me, moral injury describes my disillusionment, the erosion of my sense of place in the world. The spiritual and emotional foundations of the world disappeared and made it impossible for me to sleep the sleep of the just. Even though I was part of a war that was much bigger than me, I still feel personally responsible for its consequences. I have a feeling of intense betrayal, and the betrayer and betrayed are the same person: my very self.

Calling my experience “disillusionment” does not describe how I feel about those with whom I shared military ser­vice. Nor have I become disillusioned with the ability and dedication of the U.S. military to meet specifically identified objectives.

What began to erode for me in Iraq in 2004 was my perception of good and evil. What I lost was a world that makes moral sense.

Read it all.


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

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Posted January 2, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Across the world, people who reject all religious belief or profess secular humanism are facing ever worse discrimination and persecution, but the existence and legitimacy of such ideas is becoming more widely known and accepted. That is the rather subtle conclusion of the latest report by the International Humanist and Ethical Union, an umbrella body for secularist groups in 40 countries, which in 2012 began making annual surveys of how freedom of thought and conscience are faring worldwide.

In common with lots of other reports on the subject, it noted that many countries still prescribe draconian penalties for religious dissent, through laws that bar blasphemy against the prevailing religions or "apostasy" from Islam. Some 19 countries punish their citizens for apostasy, and in 12 of those countries it is punishable by death. In Pakistan, the death sentence can be imposed for blasphemy, for which the threshold is very low. In all, 55 countries (including several Western ones) had laws against blasphemy; the perceived offence could lead to prison terms in 39 countries and execution in six.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheismSecularism* Theology

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Posted December 22, 2014 at 3:49 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pope Francis issued a blistering critique Monday of the Vatican bureaucracy that serves him, denouncing how some people lust for power at all costs, live hypocritical double lives and suffer from "spiritual Alzheimer's" that has made them forget they're supposed to be joyful men of God.

Francis' Christmas greeting to the cardinals, bishops and priests who run the Holy See was no joyful exchange of holiday good wishes. Rather, it was a sobering catalog of 15 sins of the Curia that Francis said he hoped would be atoned for and cured in the New Year.

He had some zingers: How the "terrorism of gossip" can "kill the reputation of our colleagues and brothers in cold blood." How cliques can "enslave their members and become a cancer that threatens the harmony of the body" and eventually kill it by "friendly fire." About how those living hypocritical double lives are "typical of mediocre and progressive spiritual emptiness that no academic degree can fill."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

3 Comments
Posted December 22, 2014 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There is little doubt that those in favour of changing the law on assisted suicide have talked up a storm. In spite of peers expressing very mixed opinions during debates on the Assisted Dying Bill, the casual observer might be forgiven for thinking that all that remains to be done is to find effective safeguards ensuring that vulnerable individuals are not pressured into requesting assistance for ending their own lives; otherwise the matter is a done-deal. Leaving to one side, the rather important point that finding effective safeguards is proving as elusive as finding the Holy Grail, recent announcements from the medical profession have helped to bring some much-needed perspective to the debate.

The Royal College of Physicians’ recent announcement that, in the light of a thorough survey of its members, it will continue to oppose a change in legislation, is significant...

Read it all and follow the links.

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

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Posted December 20, 2014 at 1:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I' ve worked up a good lather in the so-called “culture war” around homosexuality and same-sex marriage for about two decades now. And I’m just as committed to the Christian view on sexuality as I am to engaging the issue in spirited and civil debate. However, to debate the issue seriously and truthfully, we must seek an honest picture of what our opponents actually believe — working from what we think they believe is neither helpful nor respectful.

While there are people of many diverse beliefs and convictions — including gay and lesbian people — who oppose same-sex marriage, here are 10 foundational truths that inform the traditional, orthodox Christian belief.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted December 18, 2014 at 5:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Though I respected, and continue to respect, both groups [IVCF and Campus Crusade] equally, I eventually chose IVCF because it put more focus on friendship evangelism and less on door-to-door evangelism. Whereas the door-to-door method follows a sales model, with the evangelist approaching a stranger and then taking him through a carefully scripted gospel presentation (the booklet of choice in my day was “The Four Spiritual Laws”), the friendship model attempts first to cultivate a relationship with a non-believer (who might live in your dorm or attend classes with you) and then introduce the gospel in a more casual and natural way.

At the time, I did not possess any theories about the most effective or most biblical method of evangelism. I gravitated toward friendship evangelism because it better suited my personality and because, well, it “felt” right. Like many other Americans, I’ve always hated the “hard sell” and have quickly (if politely) closed the door or hung up the phone whenever a solicitor has tried to sell me something. If I was going to share the message of grace with my fellow students, I did not want it to sound like a sales pitch. I wanted it to rise up organically from our friendship, or at least from a sense of shared interests and passions.

Jonathan Dodson, founding pastor of City Life church in Austin, Texas, has practiced, and clearly respects, both forms of evangelism. However, in his new book, The Unbelievable Gospel: Say Something Worth Believing (a 2015 CT Book Awards winner), he argues that our current social-cultural moment has made the door-to-door model not only less effective, but potentially counter-productive. “Wave after wave of rationalistic, rehearsed (and at times coerced and confrontational) evangelism,” he writes in his preface, “has inoculated, if not antagonized, the broader culture.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyChristologySoteriology

2 Comments
Posted December 18, 2014 at 12:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This school and the Oakland Unified School District are at the forefront of a new approach to school misconduct and discipline. Instead of suspending or expelling students who get into fights or act out, restorative justice seeks to resolve conflicts and build school community through talking and group dialogue.

Its proponents say it could be an answer to the cycle of disruption and suspension, especially in minority communities where expulsion rates are higher than in predominantly white schools.

Oakland Unified, one of California's largest districts, has been a national leader in expanding restorative justice. The district is one-third African-American and more than 70 percent low-income. The program was expanded after a federal civil rights agreement in 2012 to reduce school discipline inequity for African-American students.

At Edna Brewer Middle School, the fact that students are taking the lead — that so many want to be part of this effort — shows that it's starting to take root.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationPsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 18, 2014 at 11:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Eight hours of continuous, unmedicated sleep is one of life’s great pleasures. Actually, scratch “unmedicated.”

--There are no grown-ups. We suspect this when we are younger, but can confirm it only once we are the ones writing books and attending parent-teacher conferences. Everyone is winging it, some just do it more confidently.

--There are no soul mates. Not in the traditional sense, at least. In my 20s someone told me that each person has not one but 30 soul mates walking the earth. (“Yes,” said a colleague, when I informed him of this, “and I’m trying to sleep with all of them.”) In fact, “soul mate” isn’t a pre-existing condition. It’s an earned title. They’re made over time.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMiddle AgePsychology* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted December 17, 2014 at 12:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The reaction among church leaders themselves has been mixed, with some praising the celibacy movement as a valid way to be both gay and Christian. But others have returned to the central question of how far Christianity can go in embracing homosexuality — even if people abstain from sex.

Al Mohler, president of the flagship Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and one of the country’s most respected conservative evangelical leaders, said in an interview that there is “growing and widespread admiration” for Tushnet and others, including Wesley Hill, an evangelical scholar who founded the spiritualfriendship blog.

Given that LGBT people are coming out and “being welcomed,” he said, “it is now safe and necessary to discuss these things aloud in evangelical churches — and that’s hugely important.”

Read it all.

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

3 Comments
Posted December 17, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Six years after candidate Barack Obama vowed to make working for government “cool again,” federal hiring of young people is instead tailing off and many millennials are heading for the door.

The share of the federal workforce under the age of 30 dropped to 7 percent this year, the lowest figure in nearly a decade, government figures show.

With agencies starved for digital expertise and thousands of federal jobs coming open because of a wave of baby-boomer retirements, top government officials, including at the White House, are growing increasingly distressed about the dwindling role played by young workers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe U.S. Government

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Posted December 16, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was the end of his sixth deployment, with barely a month left, the last mission at hand. And nothing was going right.

The best man in his wedding, a man he'd served with since entering the Marines, was hit by an explosive device, burning the man's entire body and claiming three of his limbs.

Then, a helicopter crash killed two American servicemen and several Afghan forces.

Last came the ambush.

Read it all and you can find more about Operation Homefront there.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryWar in Afghanistan* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted December 15, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The American economy has stopped delivering the broadly shared prosperity that the nation grew accustomed to after World War II. The explanation for why that is begins with the millions of middle-class jobs that vanished over the past 25 years, and with what happened to the men and women who once held those jobs.

Millions of Americans are working harder than ever just to keep from falling behind; Green is one of them. Those workers have been devalued in the eyes of the economy, pushed into jobs that pay them much less than the ones they once had.

Today, a shrinking share of Americans are working middle-class jobs, and collectively, they earn less of the nation’s income than they used to. In 1981, according to the Pew Research Center, 59 percent of American adults were classified as “middle income” — which means their household income was between two-thirds and double the nation’s median income. By 2011, it was down to 51 percent. In that time, the “middle” group’s share of the national income pie fell from 60 percent to 45 percent.

For that, you can blame the past three recessions, which sparked a chain reaction of layoffs and lower pay.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Single women, lesbian couples, and straight couples with fertility troubles are increasingly experimenting at home with store-bought goods, in an effort to skirt expensive fertility procedures like Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) and In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF). At-home inseminators enlist friends or acquaintances to donate sperm, or procure free donor samples from dating-style portals like the Known Donor Registry, Pollen Tree, and Pride Angel. Some go a more orthodox route and purchase sperm from FDA-regulated banks, which can cost from about $500 to $1500 per cycle. In addition to saving money, many at-home inseminators say they prefer bedrooms to treatment rooms, because they can personalize the conception experience, imbue it with romance, and reduce stress. Legal experts warn, however, that inseminating at home can compromise a couple’s legal rights.

Embracing the DIY ethos, Mead and Espinosa assembled a kit of store-bought tools over the ten months they tried to conceive.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted December 14, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Within the past year, a series of experiences brought the Rev. Jerome Anderson to his knees.

Not in a posture of defeat, but humble submission to God’s plan.

As a leader in the Christian community, Anderson is accustomed to counseling people during life’s darkest moments, helping them to not just find light at the end of the tunnel, but teaching them how to apply scripture to their situation.

A timeline of the past 18 months of the minister’s life is parallel to the Biblical account of the sufferings of Job in the Old Testament that depicts love, long-suffering and restoration.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheodicy

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Posted December 14, 2014 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“God is our power in mutual relation.” Everything in [Carter] Heyward’s thought flows toward and from this simple, but radical, definition. Note that nothing in this definition requires acceptance of the supernatural. In this view, God is not "a supreme being," but a quality of existence. And although one need not be Christian to accept her definition of God, Heyward can reasonably claim its continuity with the biblical tradition on the basis of Jeremiah 22:15-16, which equates the knowledge of God and the doing of justice, and 1 John 4:7-8, which defines God as love.

Heyward’s autobiographical account of her ordination, A Priest Forever offers some insight as to why Heyward is concerned that God is our power in mutual relation, as opposed to simply being interested in mutual relation per se. Largely this is a matter of re-thinking the language of her Episcopal heritage, a heritage which provided her with the framework for an unconditional spiritual calling to the priesthood. She experienced this calling in early childhood, when she projected it onto an imaginary friend who voiced the desire. During the turmoil of pursuing ordination before it was clear that the Episcopal Church would grant it, she had a series of vivid dreams that left her with a sense that her calling was a non-negotiable demand of her life. And at her ordination, she had a deep spiritual experience that put a seal of confirmation on her calling:

Emily was ordained; then Marie. As Marie stepped back, I stepped forward, catching the bishop’s eye momentarily, and as if strangely transcendent of the time at hand, my whole life seemed contained within the moment: past, present, future. All that had ever mattered to me flooded within me, as a geyser of lifeblood or holy water.

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Culture-WatchPsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologySeminary / Theological Education


Posted December 13, 2014 at 2:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One day in 1967, Bob Thompson sprayed foam on a hunk of metal in a cavernous factory south of Los Angeles. And then another day, not too long after, he sat at a long wood bar with a black-and-white television hanging over it, and he watched that hunk of metal land a man on the moon.

On July 20, 1969 — the day of the landing — Thompson sipped his Budweiser and thought about all the people who had ever stared at that moon. Kings and queens and Jesus Christ himself. He marveled at how when it came time to reach it, the job started in Downey. The bartender wept.

On a warm day, almost a half-century later, Thompson curled his mouth beneath a white beard and talked about the bar that fell to make way for a freeway, the space-age factory that closed down and the town that is still waiting for its next great economic rocket, its new starship to the middle class.

They’ve waited more than a decade in Downey. They’ve tried all the usual tricks to bring good-paying jobs back to the 77-acre plot of dirt where once stood a factory that made moon landers and, later, space shuttles. Nothing brought back the good jobs.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 13, 2014 at 12:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A new troubling trend marks the U.S. church: the decline in Catholic funerals. It will affect Catholic life in the future if a basic tradition dies out. It also affects pastoral life now if people deprive themselves of closure after the death of a loved one.

Those for whom funeral rites are not celebrated today have often been lifelong Catholics who presume their children will arrange a traditional funeral for them when they die. Some parents may want to alert offspring that they want a funeral Mass.

In 1970, according to statistics from the Georgetown University-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), there were 426,309 Catholic funerals in the United States. More than 40 years later, in 2011, there were 412,145, a decrease despite an increased U.S. Catholic population over that time.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More than a thousand participants carried touches and banners through the Christmas-decorated streets of Vienna, with messages such as “Freedom of Religion is a Human Right”, “100 millions Christians suffer persecution”, “Stop the Genocide against Christians”, and not least the leading banner with the text “Murder — Rapes — Burning churches — Forced Islamization”, a clear protest against Islamist behaviour in many countries. The march was led by a priest holding a large crucifix, while Dr. Elmar Kuhn of CSI gave a speech while walking. The Maltese Church, which is located in the middle of the march, was rang its bells in support.

In addition to the usual flyers with information about the situation, the organizers also distributed buttons with the Arabic letter ‘N’. This is the sign that Islamic State and other Islamists paint on the walls of homes and other property belonging to Christians, marking them as targets of attacks, abductions, killing and destruction — a sign now used extensively in the formerly Christian country of Syria. This practice strongly resembles the methods used by German national socialists during the 1930’s to mark up Jewish property. This is a cause of reflection in times where Christians even in the West frequently need police protection due to their conversion from Islam, or due to being too clear and outspoken in their criticism of Islamic ideology.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeAustria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted December 12, 2014 at 6:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Not all lawyers agree that gay rights are being violated in this case. Not all Christians agree a true expression of Christianity is being extended in this case. But at the core of this fight, this is not an argument over what kind of sex students should or shouldn’t be allowed to have.

What we’re really fighting over is the right to diversity. Lost in the fireworks of this case is that Canadian students choose TWU and its Covenant because it reflects their identity. Mr. Ruby’s and the Law Societies fight imply that such identity can’t be trusted in their definitions of public life.

“Within the confines of religion, the most inane nonsense can be believed and practiced and passed on to one’s children. That’s freedom of religion, have a nice time. But when you go to the government and say I want your approval for this, I want tax status for this, then it’s beyond mere freedom of religion, there has to be a primacy for the right to equality,” Mr. Ruby said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryCanada* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted December 12, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A radical overhaul of the Church of England's leadership is under way.

A key report, still unpublished, sets out a programme of "talent management" in the Church. The report has been signed off by the two Archbishops, and a £2-million budget has been allocated. It was discussed by all the bishops in September, and the House of Bishops on Monday. A spokesman said on Wednesday that the Bishops "welcomed the implementation plan prepared in the light of those discussions. Details will be published next month."

The Church Times has seen the report, Talent Management for Future Leaders and Leadership Development for Bishops and Deans: A new approach, prepared by a steering group chaired by Prebendary the Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint, the former HSBC chairman. It speaks of a "culture change for the leadership of the Church", and outlines a two-stage process.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted December 12, 2014 at 5:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The optimism of modern medicine has roots in the Enlightenment, which in turn is rooted in the worldview of classical antiquity: what we call evil is a form of ignorance; it is not rooted in human nature. In this, it is remarkably similar to Confucianism. The Chinese philosopher Mencius (Meng Zi, about 372 to 289 BCE) used a parable to propose that all men are by nature good unless they are deformed. A murderer sees an infant tottering on the edge of a pond. However vicious his murders may have been, he will instinctively pull the child back to save it from drowning. This leaves out two alternative scenarios. The murderer may be a sadist who enjoys watching children drown. Or he may only have concern for children of his own tribe; but the child may belong to the enemy tribe beyond the river.

We started out with the question of how human beings can commit horrible atrocities. Given what biological science can tell us about aggression it is not an inevitable instinct (something, say, similar to the Christian doctrine of original sin), nor simply a deformation of an originally benign human nature (as Enlightenment philosophers thought). Human nature, whatever it is, allows human beings to love and to kill. Religion can induce individuals to do either. Both benevolence and hatred can be learned and taught. Thus I think that we started out with the wrong question. We should have asked: How can it be that horrible atrocities are not committed continuously, all the time? Put differently: How can one sustain a decent society? The answer is that there must be institutions that inculcate decency rather than triggering murderous impulses.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

4 Comments
Posted December 11, 2014 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The National Center for Health Statistics just released its latest data brief summarising the bleak news.

There were only 3.9m births in the US in 2013, according to the report, down about 1% from 2012. The general fertility rate also declined 1% in 2013 to another record low: 62.5 per 1,000 women aged 15–44.

The truth is, birth numbers have been in decline for six straight years, dropping 9% from its peak in 2007, according to the report.

If a slow economy is bad news for the birth rate, it also works the other way: declining fertility and birth rates are bad for the economy. Shrinking labor forces, weaker social security, and other consequences soon follow.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomy* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A new $10 million addition to the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center will enhance the ongoing clinical research that scientists here are able to conduct for veterans with mental health needs. The hospital in Charleston treats almost 60,000 patients every year.

Nearly a third require mental health services.

The majority of them are Vietnam-era veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, more commonly called PTSD.

Read it all.


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

0 Comments
Posted December 8, 2014 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Doug] Williams remembered telling Donnell: “You’ve got all kinds of ability. That little girl right there, you can find a way to feed her and make sure she goes to college, but there’s a price you’ve got to pay. Even when you don’t want to work, you’ve got to work.”

As Donnell intensified his drills and added muscle to his lanky frame, Davis also monitored his progress. Delana did everything she could to support them, working two part-time jobs and drawing money from a trust fund her deceased mother had left. Their needs were many; job opportunities were few in their hometown, Ruston, La.

“He never gave up,” Delana said of Donnell. “He was like: ‘I’m going to the league. That’s what I’m going to do.’ He kept working out consistently, just as if football was still on.”

Donnell finally agreed to seek part-time employment and applied to be a driver for Pizza Hut. He never delivered a single pie.

At Davis’s urging, the Giants signed Donnell on March 13, 2012. He spent his first season on the practice squad and competed primarily on special teams last year. He has broken out this season with 51 catches for 516 yards and a team-leading six touchdown receptions.

Donnell, 26, smiled broadly after a recent practice as he reflected on the uncommon path he and his young family had taken.

“My whole career, nothing has been golden,” he said. “Nothing has been paved out. I’ve always had to work for it, which is not a bad thing. My mom always told me, ‘What the Lord has for you, nobody can take from you.’ I believed in that.”

Read it all.




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

0 Comments
Posted December 7, 2014 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I had been ordained for a month and was meeting with two people appointed to evaluate my fitness for ministry....The question that I've never forgotten was, "Do you preach for a decision?"

The question has haunted me. We preachers proclaim good news and speak about all the amazing ways that good news penetrates, comforts, challenges and transforms lives. But my questioner had a point: proclaiming good news ought to in some way lead to a response, a decision of some kind. Otherwise proclaiming the good news of unconditional divine love can be an exercise in what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called "cheap grace." Preaching ought to lead to people caring more, giving more and living more. It is the assurance of God's presence, to be sure, and it is testimony to God's healing love. But it is also an invitation to do something.

--John M. Buchanan, Christian Century, October 4, 2011, issue, page 3

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyChristologySoteriology

1 Comments
Posted December 7, 2014 at 5:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Archbishop Welby says while the event in the Vatican was a unique event, bringing together so many different religious leaders, it's also crucial to build on that momentum with a programme of implemention and he says he believes the Global Freedom Network has the ability to do that.....

In the Church of England, he says, two dioceses are already very involved in teaching and training people in awareness of this issue to help people ask questions of how they invest, where they buy things from and where those goods might be made.....

In the modern slavery bill currently going through the British parliament, he notes, there are obligations on retailers to look at their supply chains....the Anglican leader also says he's been involved in running ethical funds and has seen first hand the impact that they can have on pressuring retailers to stop the use of slavery in the manufacturing supply chains....

Read it all and listen to the whole interview (just over 4 minutes).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesMenPsychologyReligion & CultureSexualityViolenceWomen* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On the night of his death, he had gone to a religious meeting. While there, he had fumbled a ritual and was told he was forbidden from wearing a sacred headdress until he learned things better. He returned home testy, angry, belligerent, and he didn’t want any medication. His wife left the house and called police. She thought they’d come, help calm him down, and he’d take the medication, simmer off, and everyone would go home. Eight hours later as the police had convinced him to do, he put his daughter in the carrier and placed her on the front porch. Turning to return inside the house, he was shot in the back. He had a knife, but no one said he was brandishing it about.

Yet he had been doing his big talk to the police, about his barrels of black powder and how if people just didn’t leave him the hell alone he’d blow up the house, the neighborhood, and everyone else just for good measure.

His wife was sequestered, confined to a police cruiser. No police officer interviewed her. No one asked what kind of guns he had in the house or how many barrels of powder. She had no chance to explain his medications. Maybe for the first time in Jake’s life, somebody truly believed all his big talk. So the police shot him while he was in tight proximity to a baby in a baby carrier. Police say their sharp shooter was aiming for Jake’s leg, over a distance of perhaps twenty yards.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireMarriage & FamilyPsychologyViolence* TheologyEschatologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 4, 2014 at 5:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...here is the thing: It is no longer true that the divorce rate is rising, or that half of all marriages end in divorce. It has not been for some time. Even though social scientists have tried to debunk those myths, somehow the conventional wisdom has held.

Despite hand-wringing about the institution of marriage, marriages in this country are stronger today than they have been in a long time. The divorce rate peaked in the 1970s and early 1980s and has been declining for the three decades since.

About 70 percent of marriages that began in the 1990s reached their 15th anniversary (excluding those in which a spouse died), up from about 65 percent of those that began in the 1970s and 1980s. Those who married in the 2000s are so far divorcing at even lower rates. If current trends continue, nearly two-thirds of marriages will never involve a divorce, according to data from Justin Wolfers, a University of Michigan economist (who also contributes to The Upshot).

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

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




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