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

1 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

0 Comments
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

2 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

0 Comments
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

0 Comments
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

0 Comments
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

0 Comments
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

0 Comments
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

0 Comments
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.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
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).

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The first premise of the demonstration hinges on a distinction between natural or innate desires and desires of a more artificial or contrived variety. Examples of the first type include the desire for food, for sex, for companionship, for beauty, and for knowledge; while examples of second type include the longing for a fashionable suit of clothes, for a fast car, for Shangri-La, or to fly through the air like a bird. Precisely because desires of the second category are externally motivated or psychologically contrived, they don't prove anything regarding the objective existence of their objects: some of them exist and some of them don't.

But desires of the first type do indeed correspond to, and infallibly indicate, the existence of the states of affairs that will fulfill them: hunger points to the objective existence of food, thirst to the objective existence of drink, sexual longing to the objective existence of the sexual act, etc. And this is much more than a set of correspondences that simply happen to be the case; the correlation is born of the real participation of the desire in its object. The phenomenon of hunger is unthinkable apart from food, since the stomach is "built" for food; the phenomenon of sexual desire is unthinkable apart from the reality of sex, since the dynamics of that desire are ordered toward the sexual act. By its very structure, the mind already participates in truth.

So what kind of desire is the desire for perfect fulfillment? Since it cannot be met by any value within the world, it must be a longing for truth, goodness, beauty, and being in their properly unconditioned form. But the unconditioned, by definition, must transcend any limit that we might set to it. It cannot, therefore, be merely subjective, for such a characterization would render it not truly unconditioned. And this gives the lie to any attempt -- Feuerbachian, Freudian, Marxist or otherwise -- to write off the object of this desire as a wish-fulfilling fantasy, as a projection of subjectivity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyApologetics

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Imagine that the bowls of heaven, which are filled with the prayers of the saints (us!), are what God pours out in order to reach those of “every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” As we pray to extend His Kingdom, I imagine those bowls filling up. When they overflow, it is not hard to imagine the grace of the Kingdom pouring out of the bowls and into the dreams of those whose hearts are ripe. Of course we still do all we can to carry out mission, but in this season, more fruit with M**lims is coming from supernatural means.

Dumped fuel has a tremendous impact on the atmosphere. It is profound and negative. It should only be done when there is no other way to save lives. Joining in prayer for the extension of the Kingdom and the conversion of hearts and souls to Jesus Christ through all manner of means both natural and supernatural has a tremendous impact on the spiritual atmosphere. It is profound and life giving. It does not cost anything but time, and it pays tremendous dividends.

By the way…you might wonder why I chose to spell M**lim or Isl*m with “*” instead of just spelling it out. It’s because of search engines. Radical M**lims can Google for articles that mention both Christ and Isl*m looking for ways to identify those whom they view are committing apostasy. A simple thing like an * in the spelling is just a safety net for our brothers and sisters in Christ who came from a M**lim background.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: CommentaryAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationPsychologyScience & TechnologyViolence* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We’re all familiar with our Lord’s words that it’s “more blessed to give than to receive.” As it turns out, this maxim is not only true as a matter of faith, it’s empirically true, as well.

This is the subject of a new book, “The Paradox of Generosity: Giving We Receive, Grasping We Lose,” by BreakPoint favorite and Notre Dame Professor Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson, a doctoral student at Notre Dame.

The book is based on research from Notre Dame’s “Science of Generosity” initiative. As Smith and Davidson write in the introduction, “By grasping onto what we currently have . . . we lose out on better goods that we might have gained . . .”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchBooksPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

he local headmaster - now out of work because the schools are closed - has become a fervent anti-Ebola campaigner and social mobiliser.

But Godfrey Kamara is finding it almost impossible to change the community's behaviour.

"It's not working. When they're quarantined people should stay around and have security. And they still wash the dead," said Mr Kamara, accusing Ms Bangura's family of doing just that.

"They washed her body before calling 117. I know it. They shouldn't do that. I tell everyone they shouldn't wash the body but they still don't believe Ebola kills...."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesPsychology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSierra Leone* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted December 2, 2014 at 8:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sometime in 2010, I became flaccid in my soul. What I mean is that I began to think I had some entitlements before God. I told God, “Hey, I am so tired. Can I take a break? I am not going to do anything very wrong, I just think that I deserve to have the opportunity to back off.” Progressively, I became spiritually lazy. Then I broke into a sudden depression that made me understand what Angie went though before the bullet went through her. I thought that the depression would leave, and I would learn my lesson. You know, so I could relate to others. Well, the depression has never really left. I know better how to deal with it, but it is still there. More and more, I backed out of things. You know . . . the entitlements I had. But these entitlements were slowly turning me into someone else.

I love God. However, He and I have a complicated relationship. My greatest prayer is that He shapes me into someone who glorifies Him and I continue to have hope for this from time to time. But, as I backed out of involvement in church (entitlement), became lazy (entitlement), quit working on my marriage (entitlement), picked up the smoking habit again (entitlement), and stopped investing so much in my kids life (entitlement), these actions only served to hurt my soul more deeply, and placed hope further and further out of reach. It was as if there is/was a part of my mind that needed to rebel and give God the middle finger for putting me through so much. “You are going to do this to me, huh? Well, how about I do this to You?”

Who I am today is someone who needs to hope again. I realized this as I was, of all things, watching the latest X-Men. You know, when Professor Xavier goes back in time and talks to his younger disenchanted self? He says, “We need you to hope again.” It struck me at that moment that this was me. I needed to hope again.

Read it all (also used in today's Sunday school class).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPsychologySuicide* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted November 30, 2014 at 1:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The pastor’s phone rang in the midnight darkness. A man’s voice rasped: “My wife left me and I’ve got a shotgun in my mouth. Give me one reason why I shouldn’t pull the trigger.”

The Rev. Matt Brogli, a Southern Baptist pastor scarcely six months into his first job, was unnerved. Gamely, he prayed with the anonymous caller, trying out “every platitude I could possibly think of.”

Eventually the stranger assured Mr. Brogli that he would be all right. But the young pastor was shaken.

“I was in over my head,” he recalled. “I thought being a pastor meant giving sermons, loving my congregation, doing marriages and funerals, and some marital counseling.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchPsychologyMental IllnessReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted November 30, 2014 at 4:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nightmares of a friend dying beside him in a bunker years ago now waken Donald Vitkus. “There is stuff that you carry from the war,” the 71-year-old Vietnam veteran said.

Mr. Vitkus spends his days in and out of therapy at a residential rehabilitation center filled with mostly older veterans, working on his memory while trying to gain control over disturbing recollections and the emotions they surface.

He is one of hundreds of thousands of aging Vietnam veterans who late in life are now seeking help for post-traumatic stress disorder—a mix of flashbacks, depression and sleeplessness springing from a war that ended four decades ago.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineHistoryMarriage & FamilyMilitary / Armed ForcesPsychology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted November 29, 2014 at 11:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Black Friday in the U.S.: like a regular weekend at the malls, only a little more so. Black Friday overseas: like Black Friday used to be in the U.S., including the shoving and fistfights.

Call it America's latest export.

As Americans hunkered down on their couches to score Black Friday bargains online, shoppers in other parts of the world took part in what had been a uniquely American experience: Risking life and limb for dirt-cheap sweaters and discounted TVs.

British police officers were called to stores across the country on Friday to quell surging crowds and fights over deals. Retailers had adopted American-style Black Friday discounts to get a jump on the Christmas shopping season, according to Reuters. Even Brazil got in on the act, with stores offering Black Friday deals.

Read it all.

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

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Posted November 28, 2014 at 2:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...I think Christian community provides something distinctive that you don’t get other places. (Other religious communities provide their own distinctives.)

But I can’t exactly fault young people for not being jazzed about deciding there are better uses of their time than choosing between Corporate Candidate Chet and SuperPAC Steve at the ballot box. And let’s not dump on them for not jumping on board with church, when what “church” often means is “the way we’ve always done it . . . until you’re around long enough for us to trust you to suggest ways we can change.”

The whole Diane Rehm discussion—and the discussion so many churches have—is backward. The question isn’t how to convince young people to show up and vote, or to go to church. The question is, what is it about the “product” that they find utterly un-worth their time?

Read it all.


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

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Posted November 25, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With public revulsion rising in response to snowballing accusations that Bill Cosby victimized women in serial fashion throughout his trailblazing career, the response from those in the know has been: What took so long?

What took so long is that those in the know kept it mostly to themselves. No one wanted to disturb the Natural Order of Things, which was that Mr. Cosby was beloved; that he was as generous and paternal as his public image; and that his approach to life and work represented a bracing corrective to the coarse, self-defeating urban black ethos.

Only the first of those things was actually true....

We all have our excuses, but in ignoring these claims, we let down the women who were brave enough to speak out publicly against a powerful entertainer.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyMediaMenMovies & TelevisionPsychologyViolenceWomen* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted November 25, 2014 at 3:22 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The development and application of such techniques is risky - it is after all humans in their current morally-inept state who must apply them - but we think that our present situation is so desperate that this course of action must be investigated. We have radically transformed our social and natural environments by technology, while our moral dispositions have remained virtually unchanged. We must now consider applying technology to our own nature, supporting our efforts to cope with the external environment that we have created.

Biomedical means of moral enhancement may turn out to be no more effective than traditional means of moral education or social reform, but they should not be rejected out of hand. Advances are already being made in this area. However, it is too early to predict how, or even if, any moral bioenhancement scheme will be achieved. Our ambition is not to launch a definitive and detailed solution to climate change or other mega-problems. Perhaps there is no realistic solution. Our ambition at this point is simply to put moral enhancement in general, and moral bioenhancement in particular, on the table.

Last century we spent vast amounts of resources increasing our ability to cause great harm. It would be sad if, in this century, we reject opportunities to increase our capacity to create benefits, or at least to prevent such harm.

Read it all.

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

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Posted November 24, 2014 at 5:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At this year's Acton University conference, you spoke on how love is an indispensable basis for economic life. To some, that might seem odd if economic life is viewed as the maximization of utility and material well-being.

We can’t enter the marketplace as something other than what we really are, and real human love demonstrates the impossibility of being merely homo economicus (“the economic man”), which is essentially a thesis that reduces human beings to their materiality.

Humans are simultaneously material and transcendent, individual and social. We are not merely individual entities, though we are uniquely and unrepeatably that, even from the first moment of our conception. Yet the whole of our lives we are social and individual, material and spiritual. If we ignore this existential reality, then we fail to understand what it means to be human.

Love—authentic human love—helps us understand this anthropological reality. Even conjugal love offers more than physicality. In this act of love, we offer our whole selves, including our ideals, dreams, and indeed our future to one another—none of which exists in material reality. Love, especially in the biblical sense, is not merely what one wants for oneself, but is a free decision that wills the good of the person one loves. And this transcendent act, this non-material dimension of human anthropology—when open to new life—normatively results in other human persons who are made from the dust of the earth and the breath of life.

Read it all.

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

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Posted November 23, 2014 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the weeks following the initial 2013 publication of my book, The Kennedy Half-Century: The Presidency, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy, I received hundreds of emails, letters, and tweets. Many were filled with personal reminiscences and heartfelt emotion, but mainly the communications demonstrated that people who have followed the assassination story these many years have long since chosen sides.

The concrete is so set that even if a time machine existed, and we could go back and videotape the Dallas event from every conceivable angle, some would not be convinced unless their preferred conspirators were caught red-handed. The controversy about the assassination shows few signs of fading away, especially because (according to a Peter Hart poll commissioned for my book), three-quarters of Americans do not believe the Warren Commission’s conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.

A handful of the messages I’ve received were sent by individuals who insisted they had revelations about President Kennedy’s assassination. I met, spoke by phone, or exchanged correspondence with the most credible of them. After passage of more than a half-century, it is almost impossible to separate fact from fiction, and some intriguing leads proved impossible to confirm because the principals refused to cooperate or are deceased. Nonetheless, some worthwhile particulars emerged.

Read it all

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

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Posted November 22, 2014 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Recently, I played the role of father of the bride for the first time in my life. It was a life-changing event for me; I barely survived. I suspect it was an important day for my daughter too; she was quite animated and very interested in every detail. Months of planning and purchasing led steadily to the special day. Flower choices were debated, color schemes considered and rejected, songs chosen, an organist identified, a soloist, a photographer, a videographer, a caterer, a baker, greeters, readers, feeders, eaters—Eisenhower spent less time planning his visit to Normandy. It was the usual, once-in-a-lifetime kind of event in the chapel of the small liberal-arts college where I teach and the betrothed couple met, graduated and learned about lifelong commitment—like the legal obligations inherent in student loans.

Of course, there was the Friday-night rehearsal. My part was easy enough: Walk slowly down the aisle with a beautiful woman on my arm. After two walk-throughs, I was confident I could handle it. Although I had major parts, both onstage in a tuxedo and as the signer of numerous bank drafts, I had only one line, “Her mother and I,” in reply to the query, “Who gives this woman?” I delivered my line at the rehearsal in a strong, confident voice, accompanied by the thought, “I can do this tomorrow.”

But at 3 a.m., I awoke with a panic attack. I could not do this.

Read it all.

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

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Posted November 22, 2014 at 1:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read them all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted November 21, 2014 at 4:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I had the privilege of being part of a Fordham University event last night on the future of religion, responding (along with a rather more distinguished fellow panelist) to remarks by the religion journalist and academic Molly Worthen on the roots of institutional faith’s present-day developed-world decline. There was, I think, some basic agreement among all of the panelists about some of the patterns and shifts we’re experiencing right now (the decline of institutional authority, the working out of the sexual revolution, the rise of the so-called “nones”), and then a number of interesting things were said about the possible unknowns that might either accelerate or redirect current trends: There was discussion of how institutional-cum-orthodox forms of faith might experience some sort of revival, of how spiritual-but-not-religious forms of faith might represent the vanguard of an entirely new era of religious understanding, and of how religious forces outside the developed world (Islam, Pentecostalism, Chinese Christianity) might matter more to the West itself than a Western-centric vision allows.

All of us were trying, I think, to escape a little bit from the tyranny of extrapolation — the tendency to assume that today’s trends will necessarily be tomorrow’s, and that history happens in a relatively linear and Whiggish fashion. But reflecting on the discussion afterward, it seems worth dwelling a little more the importance of the unexpected in religious history, the ways in which various forms of rupture and reversal can make punditry look foolish.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted November 21, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A new study study reveals that an infant’s brain may remember a language, even if the child has no idea how to speak a word of it.

The finding comes from a new study performed by a team of researchers from McGill University’s Department of Psychology and Montreal’s Neurological Institute who are working to understand how the brain learns language.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicinePoetry & LiteraturePsychologyScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted November 20, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It figures.

Just as churches, seminaries and congregational consultants were wrapping their heads around the concept of “the nones” in religious life, yet another term emerges for yet another category of Americans abandoning the church: “the dones.”

The first group denotes the growing number of Americans with no religion affiliation. “Nones,” which may represent as much as 38 percent of the U.S. population, also are known for generally having had no or very little in the way of religious upbringing.

But sociologists, church historians and congregational coaches have realized for a while that another subset of Americans are answering “none” on surveys about religious affiliations: Those who have grown up in the church and remained active in adulthood — at least until getting tired of church life.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted November 19, 2014 at 3:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:
"When we read, another person thinks for us: we merely repeat his mental process. In learning to write, the pupil goes over with his pen what the teacher has outlined in pencil: so in reading; the greater part of the work of thought is already done for us. This is why it relieves us to take up a book after being occupied with our own thoughts. And in reading, the mind is, in fact, only the playground of another’s thoughts. So it comes about that if anyone spends almost the whole day in reading, and by way of relaxation devotes the intervals to some thoughtless pastime, he gradually loses the capacity for thinking; just as the man who always rides, at last forgets how to walk. This is the case with many learned persons: they have read themselves stupid. For to occupy every spare moment in reading, and to do nothing but read, is even more paralyzing to the mind than constant manual labor, which at least allows those engaged in it to follow their own thoughts. A spring never free from the pressure of some foreign body at last loses its elasticity; and so does the mind if other people’s thoughts are constantly forced upon it. Just as you can ruin the stomach and impair the whole body by taking too much nourishment, so you can overfill and choke the mind by feeding it too much. The more you read, the fewer are the traces left by what you have read: the mind becomes like a tablet crossed over and over with writing. There is no time for ruminating, and in no other way can you assimilate what you have read. If you read on and on without setting your own thoughts to work, what you have read can not strike root, and is generally lost."


Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksPoetry & LiteraturePsychology* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted November 18, 2014 at 9:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If all you need is love, as the Beatles say, perhaps it makes sense that a shrinking share of Americans are even bothering with marriage. In 1960 85% of American adults had been wed at least once; last year just 70% could say the same. Young people are proving particularly reluctant to try: 28% of men aged between 25 and 34 in 2010—and 23% of women—will not yet have tied the knot by 2030, according to estimates from the Pew Research Centre, a think-tank.

There are several reasons for this change in marriage trends. More women are working outside the home, and for fairer pay, so a husband is no longer a meal ticket. And attitudes to cohabitation have shifted: almost a quarter of young adults now live with a partner. Given the exorbitant costs of both weddings and divorces in America, living "in sin" seems increasingly sensible, particularly for the many youngsters who are now drowning in college debt.

But while a larger proportion of Americans are shying away from saying “I do”, those that have done it before remain keen to do it again. Last year 40% of new marriages included at least one partner who had made vows before, according to a new Pew study. Divorced or widowed adults are about as likely to remarry today—57% have done so—as they were in the 1960s. The prospect is certainly more appealing than it ever used to be, as rising divorce rates have yielded a larger pool of possibilities. So In total, 42m adults in America have been married more than once, up from 14m in 1960. “It’s fascinating that among those people eligible to remarry, the share that do has been stable for such a long time,” reckons Gretchen Livingston, one author of the new research.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted November 18, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United States has perfected the art of convenience. For instance, if we don’t want to get out of our car to order food, no problem. We invented the drive-thru, the most iconic of American institutions, where we can sit in the comfort of our car and order food from an unintelligible talking box as we inhale carbon monoxide from the car in front of us. Convenience has become so omnipresent in American society that it is no longer an amenity but a necessity, even a right. When we are robbed of our convenience, we react as if we are being robbed of our property or life.

Rather than standing against this cultural phenomenon, the church often conforms to it. In an admirable but terribly misguided attempt to reach all people, we succumb to our culture’s veneration of convenience. We cram a Sunday service, that blessed celebration of the death and resurrection of Christ, into a single hour or even less. We go to great lengths to minimize any possible inconvenience to church attendees, and in so doing, we communicate to our people that convenience possesses great value. And American Christians have internalized this notion so completely that nowadays people are downright miffed when church goes beyond its time limits, and they have to miss kickoff or tee time or brunch as a result. Convenience has become king, but not just in American society—in American churches as well.

Yet by its nature, Christianity is inconvenient. The story of the Good Samaritan reminds us what true ministry looks like: it requires that we selflessly sacrifice our time, our safety, our money, and, yes, even our convenience, to serve those who are in need. And what more perfect illustration of inconvenience is there than the Incarnation, that God would leave the perfection of heaven to become a man and walk with us through the mess of our lives, even submitting to the most terrible “inconvenience” of all: the crucifixion. Convenience is nothing less than a heresy that runs contrary to some of the most fundamental aspects of what it means to be a follower of Christ.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)Theology: Salvation (Soteriology)

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Posted November 16, 2014 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Carlos Whittaker, a prominent evangelical writer and musician, was singing worship songs on stage in 2005 when he suddenly felt like he was having a heart attack and that he would soon die. An audience of 2,000 people watched, and the band played on, as Whittaker left the stage, not knowing that he was having a panic attack.

Though some people still tell Whittaker that his anxiety could be improved if he would just make his faith stronger and pray more, evangelical leaders and grassroots activists are orchestrating a shift in the way the community approaches mental health issues.

“This has nothing to with whether I believe in Jesus,” Whittaker told the Guardian. “This does not have anything to do with whether or not I am reading my Bible or how hard I am praying. I can pray 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and I’m still going to have to take that little white pill every single day.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & MedicineMusicPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 15, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The other day, something came across my newsfeed about Kourtney Kardashian’s pregnancy style.

I’ll hand it to her; she’s a stylish pregnant lady. And we know this for certain now, because this is her third pregnancy with boyfriend Scott Disick.

But that’s just it. Boyfriend.

It’s head-scratching to me why a couple would have multiple children — all “planned” — but refuse to tie the knot. It seems to me, if you’re building a family together, why not make it official? Yet keeping it unofficial is becoming the new norm.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted November 15, 2014 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is illegal to threaten someone online. But in recent weeks there have been a number of high-profile threats against women — among the targets were several feminist video game critics and an actress who starred in a video about street harassment of women.

But many victims of online threats say they are frustrated because the perpetrators are never caught.

Rebecca Watson says she's had many threats against her on Twitter, in email and on her website, Skepchick. The site focuses on feminism and science; she ignores most of the threats — but once in a while they truly scare her.

Someone sent Watson a link to a man's website. "He was making music and the album was a picture of me — my face with a target on it," she says. And even worse, Watson says, "the name of the album was I Have A Tombstone With Rebecca Watson's Name On It. "

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyScience & TechnologyViolence* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 15, 2014 at 9:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After a talk I gave in London a woman in the audience approached me: middle-aged, tall, and wearing a designer dress. Although she agreed with me on various issues she could not understand why I was critical of military takeovers. “In the Middle East a coup d’état is the only way forward,” she said. “If it weren’t for [Egypt’s president] General Sisi, modern women like me, like yourself, would end up in a burka. He’s there to protect the likes of us.”

As I listened to her, I recalled scenes from my childhood in Turkey. I remembered my mother saying that we should be grateful to General Kenan Evren, who led the coup d’état in 1980, for protecting women’s rights. After the military seized power, a number of pro-women steps were taken, including the legalisation of abortion. Yet the coup would eventually bring about massive human rights violations and systematic torture in police headquarters and prisons, particularly against the Kurds, maiming Turkey’s civil society and democracy for decades to come.

Female adulation of male autocrats is widespread throughout the Middle East. I have met Syrian women who have tried to convince me that Bashar al-Assad is the best option for modern women. The Syrian regime seems aware of this rhetoric, recruiting hundreds of so-called Lionesses for National Defense , who are said to be fighting against Islamic fundamentalism and defending women’s freedom.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureWomen* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 14, 2014 at 4:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The remarkable fall from grace of the evangelical preacher Mark Driscoll could provide case-study materials on public ministry for years to come. The Seattle pastor’s resignation from his megachurch on Oct. 14 and the subsequent dissolution of the church he built had nothing to do with the sort of sordid scandals that in the past brought down preachers such as Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker. Mr. Driscoll’s downfall had a great deal to do with the online world that he had seemed to master, a world that made him famous but also exposed what he called in his resignation letter his “pride, anger and a domineering spirit.”

Boosted by live streaming, podcasts and social media, Mr. Driscoll harnessed the Internet to propel his nondenominational ministry beyond Mars Hill, his local congregation. He was known for his muscular, in-your-face style of preaching about Jesus, depicting Christ as more superhero than lamb of God, once declaring: “I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.” This aggressive posture, visible online and off, paradoxically made the once “cussin’ pastor” famous but also helped bring down his ministry.

“The same rough edges that can land you in hot water are the very same things that attracted, in some cases, tens of thousands of people to you in the first place,” Mark DeMoss, whom Mars Hill hired to do public relations for six months before Mr. Driscoll’s resignation, told me.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchBooksPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 14, 2014 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Prominent author and pastor Rick Warren and his wife Kay recently sat down for an honest and heartfelt discussion about how to fight for an awesome marriage in a society that continually pulls against it.

The couple, who have been married for 39 years, use four seasons to describe different stages of marriage and share tips on how to best draw closer to God and to one another during each seasons.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychology* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A female suicide bomber has blown herself up at a college in northern Nigeria, killing at least three people, witnesses say.

The explosion went off outside a packed lecture hall at the college in Kontagora town, the witnesses added.

Casualty figures are unclear, but lecturer Andrew Randa told the BBC he had seen four bodies.

This is the second suicide attack on a school this week - on Monday, 46 boys were killed in Yobe State.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FirePsychologySuicideReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 12, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A top medical expert in Britain has said that assisted dying will be made legal in UK within the next two years.

The deputy chair of the British Medical Association Dr Kailash Chand has confirmed that a Bill that offers assisted dying to terminally ill patients who are mentally capable and are likely to have less than six months to live will soon be cleared.

UK has been seeing a growing support for the move — influenced by opinion polls suggesting that up to three quarters of the public would support a change in the law allowing assisted dying.

One of the world's most revered religious leaders Desmond Tutu - a Nobel peace laureate and archbishop emeritus of Cape Town has lent his full-fledged support to Britain's plans of legally allowing assisted death.

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 General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 9, 2014 at 5:58 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For millennia, scholars have debated what virtues should be part of the moral life. While the seven deadly sins might be more interesting, the virtues—such as prudence, justice and fortitude—have inspired a good deal of deliberation. Which are most important? Who embodies them, who doesn’t and what challenges do they present to mere mortals?

Into this eternal genre steps a team of right-of-center writers known to be more clever or ironical than your average talk-radio listener. (Think “South Park” conservatives, not the sort who hang out at the American Legion hall.) The stated thesis of “The Seven Deadly Virtues,” as editor Jonathan V. Last writes, is that modern Americans do still value virtue. “The problem is that we have organized ourselves around the wrong virtues.” Or at least our moral system has some serious problems. We’re appalled by Donald Sterling ’s racism but skim over his habit of bringing his mistress to basketball games. We like health and authenticity more than temperance and charity. Nonjudgmentalism seems to trump nearly everything, including courage.

It’s an engaging premise, and it is investigated occasionally in “The Seven Deadly Virtues.” But the book is better read for what it is: an excuse to bring more than a dozen talented writers together, give them fussy-sounding concepts such as “Forbearance” and “Chastity,” and see what happens.

Read it all.

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

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Posted November 9, 2014 at 12:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"Pregnancy and childbirth were very male experiences for me," said a 29-year-old respondent in a study reported Friday in Obstetrics and Gynecology. "When I birthed my children, I was born into fatherhood."

If this statement at first seems perplexing, it's less so when you realize the person talking is a transgender man – someone who has transitioned from a female identity to a male or masculine identity.

He is one of 41 participants in a study of how it feels to be male and pregnant, a study the authors think may be the first of its kind.

Pregnancy as a transgender man is unlike any other kind. No one expects a man to be pregnant, and the study participants said they were often greeted with double-takes, suspicion and even hostility from strangers and health care providers. "Child Protective Services was alerted to the fact that a 'tranny' had a baby," one participant reported.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMenPsychologySexualityWomen* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 8, 2014 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On a dirt field between two tall plum trees, barefoot young women played a surprisingly ferocious game of kickball one evening this week. Sweating in the heat and humidity despite the approach of dusk, they battled with the pent-up energy of teens who have been stuck at home too long.

A crowd of 100, maybe more, gathered to watch. Huge speakers blared the Ghanain hip-hop of Sargo D, making conversation nearly impossible. The spectators stood closely together. Some danced, some moved more subtly to the music. Had there been food and drink, this gathering in Monrovia’s Capitol Hill neighborhood could have been a block party.

Barely six or seven weeks ago, it also would have been impossible.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenGlobalizationHealth & MedicinePsychologyTeens / Youth* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaLiberia* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 6, 2014 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

MPs have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a motion declaring that sex-selection abortion is illegal.

They voted 181 to 1 for a motion brought forward by a cross-party alliance of MPs in an effort to end uncertainty over whether doctors can be prosecuted for the practice. It will now have a second reading in January.

Confusion over the law was exposed last year by the decision of the then Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Keir Starmer, not to bring charges against two doctors caught on camera agreeing to arrange abortions of baby girls purely because of their sex, in a Telegraph investigation.

The case was investigated by Scotland Yard and passed on to the Crown Prosecution Service which said that although there was enough evidence, it was not in the “public interest” to bring charges.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychologySexuality* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted November 5, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Though it has brought advanced care planning to a remarkable number of people, Respecting Choices has encountered some resistance. Britt Welnetz, the organization’s business development consul­tant, said that she is often asked whether a nonphysician facilitator can effectively discuss medical decisions. She explains that the standardized, patient-centered conversation leads to an overall level of patient satisfaction.

Others ask if the Respecting Choices model can work in a community that’s more diverse than La Crosse. Research indicates that it can. The Respecting Choices program was implemented in a hospital in Mil­wau­kee, and the use of advance directives among racial and ethnic minorities in­creased substantially from 25.8 percent to 38.4 percent. Research suggests that it’s knowledge of advance directives, regardless of race and ethnicity, that leads to their use.

The advance care planning facilitator model has gained acceptance both nationally and internationally. Respect­ing Choices has trained more than 10,000 facilitators, as well as nearly 600 instructors and nearly 30 faculty members who can implement system-wide changes. There are facilitators in 47 states in the United States, and Respecting Choices is the national standard of care in Singapore and Australia; the program is also the model for an $8.5 million European Union study of advance-stage cancer patients and end-of-life care.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted November 5, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Brittany Maynard stuck by her decision.

The terminally ill woman who revived a national debate about physician-assisted suicide ended her life Saturday by swallowing lethal drugs made available under Oregon's law that allows terminally ill people to end their lives. She would have been 30 on Nov. 19.

Maynard had been in the national spotlight for about a month since publicizing that she and her husband, Dan Diaz, moved to Portland from Northern California so that she could take advantage of the Oregon law. She told journalists she planned to die Nov. 1, shortly after her husband's birthday, but reserved the right to move the date forward or push it back.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsPsychologyReligion & CultureYoung Adults* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

6 Comments
Posted November 3, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If you went to a wedding this summer, there is a better-than-even chance that the happy couple was already living together. Today, more than 65 percent of first marriages start out that way. Fifty years ago, it was closer to 10 percent.

Cohabitation before marriage, once frowned upon, is now almost a rite of passage, especially for the millennial generation. Young adults born after 1980 are more likely to cohabit than any previous generation was at the same stage of life, according to the Pew Research Center. With more than 8 million couples currently cohabiting, it is obviously a living arrangement with appeal — but it is also one with unique challenges.

Claire Noble and Charlie Sharbel are among those who have decided to share the keys to an apartment. They are both 27 years old and have been living together in Washington, D.C., since August.

Read it all.

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

1 Comments
Posted November 3, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I wrote about poppies last year. You write about them at your peril....

This week I read a piece about an ITV newscaster who had opted not to wear a poppy on screen. It wasn't that she was against it: she did wear one when not in front of the camera. Her argument was that ITV didn't allow her to wear anything as a broadcaster that identified her as a supporter of other charities such as breast cancer awareness, mental health or child poverty (I've forgotten her actual examples). So why, she argued, should the poppy, paid for and worn in support of the Royal British Legion, be an exception to that rule?

I admire the logic and the ethics, but I'm afraid she is misreading the symbolism. She hasn't quite cottoned on to what the public mostly think they are doing when they wear the poppy. In social sciences-speak, she has got the semiotics wrong.

The poppy is far more than the logo of a particular veterans' charity. As the poppy field in the Tower of London moat demonstrates, it is not quite like most other symbols.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHistoryMediaPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 2, 2014 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The first time Nathan Whitmore zapped his brain, he had a college friend standing by, ready to pull the cord in case he had a seizure. That didn’t happen. Instead, Whitmore started experimenting with the surges of electricity, and he liked the effects. Since that first cautious attempt, he’s become a frequent user of, and advocate for, homemade brain stimulators.

Depending on where he puts the electrodes, Whitmore says, he has expanded his memory, improved his math skills and solved previously intractable problems. The 22-year-old, a researcher in a National Institute on Aging neuroscience lab in Baltimore, writes computer programs in his spare time. When he attaches an electrode to a spot on his forehead, his brain goes into a “flow state,” he says, where tricky coding solutions appear effortlessly. “It’s like the computer is programming itself.”

Whitmore no longer asks a friend to keep him company while he plugs in, but he is far from alone. The movement to use electricity to change the brain, while still relatively fringe, appears to be growing, as evidenced by a steady increase in active participants in an online brain-hacking message board that Whitmore moderates.

Read it all.

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

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Posted November 2, 2014 at 4:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even as Americans' trust in government eroded in recent years, people kept faith in a handful of agencies and institutions admired for their steadiness in ensuring the country's protection.

To safeguard the president, there was the solidity of the Secret Service. To stand vigil against distant enemies, the U.S. nuclear missile corps was assumed to be on the job. And to ward off threats to public health, the nation counted on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Now, in the space of just a few months, the reputations of all those agencies - as well as the Veterans Administration - have been tarred by scandal or tarnished by doubt. Maybe a public buffeted by partisan rhetoric and nonstop news should be used to this by now. But, with the CDC facing tough questions about its response to the Ebola outbreak, something feels different. Government is about doing collectively what citizens can't do alone, but its effectiveness is premised on trust.

Read it all.

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

1 Comments
Posted November 2, 2014 at 4:44 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the Christian message isn't burdened down by the miraculous. It's inextricably linked to it. A pregnant woman conceives. The lame walk. The blind see. A dead man is resurrected, ascends to heaven, and sends the Spirit. The universe's ruler is on his way to judge the living and the dead. Those who do away with such things are left with what J. Gresham Machen rightly identified as a different religion, a religion as disconnected from global Christianity as the made-up religion of Wicca is from the actual Druids of old.

The same is true with a Christian sexual ethic. Sexual morality didn't become difficult with the onset of the sexual revolution. It always has been. Walking away from our own lordship, or from the tyranny of our desires, has always been a narrow way. The rich young ruler wanted a religion that would promise him his best life now, extended out into eternity. But Jesus knew that such an existence isn't life at all, just the zombie corpse of the way of the flesh. He came to give us something else, to join us to his own life.

If we withhold what our faith teaches about a theology of the body, of marriage, of what it means to be created male and female, we will breed nothing but cynicism from those who will rightly conclude that we see them not as sinners in need of good news but as a marketing niche to be exploited by telling them what they want to hear.

You can't grow a Christian church by being sub-Christian. That's why there are no booming Arian or Unitarian or Episcopal Church (USA) church-planting movements....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexualityYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Roma constitute the largest ethnic minority in Europe. While many think the continent would be better off without them, the Roma have lived in Europe for more than 1,500 years, and represent one of Europe’s last, great hopes.

But currently, the Roma are among the continent’s most underserved communities. And like Europe’s Jews, and newcomers from Africa and the Middle East, they’re finding themselves caught up in a resurgence of racism and xenophobia.

The unemployment rate for Roma in Bulgaria was 59% in 2010, and 50% in Romania according to a seminal World Bank report, while average unemployment in Bulgaria was 11.6%, and 7.3% in Romania in 2013.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--Eastern EuropeBulgariaRomania* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 31, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If traditional Christian teaching produces despair it is likely that such teaching has somehow been pressed or malformed to obscure the gospel. Whether one identifies as homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual, the hope of the gospel is the same. In the words of Tim Keller, “We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” The profound experience of grace in the gospel provides the onus to a life of faithful discipleship. The homosexual need not stop experiencing same sex attraction in order to “earn” salvation just as straight people need not stop experiencing opposite-sex attraction. What he must do is remain chaste, an ancient word with little currency in today’s culture.

There can be little doubt that traditional Christians often communicate to gays that they must somehow stop experiencing same sex attraction in order to make themselves acceptable to God. This is not the gospel. There is nothing than we can do to make ourselves acceptable to God. What the Bible asks of us is, however, to recognize that sexual relationships with people of the same sex violates God’s intention for human sexuality. The Christian tradition directs us in one of two equally valid directions: celibacy or heterosexual marriage.

Reasonable people ought to respect Gushee’s right to change his mind and to do so publicly. However, it’s important to note that Gushee’s capitulation is not the only possible response to the precipitous change in cultural attitudes toward sexuality.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted October 31, 2014 at 6:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A single friend who recently moved posted a note on her Facebook page: “Was trying out a new church on Sunday when the pastor announced that his November sermon series would be about marriage. ‘And what if you’re not married?’ he asked us. ‘Well, Scripture says “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled.”’

Not the most welcoming way of putting it. “Excuse me?” my friend responded. “In other words, singles, suck it up. Won’t be returning there.”

Most of the responses were supportive, as you’d expect from friends, but several dismissed her concerns or told her, in various ways, to suck it up and stop whining. Other single friends, including widows and single mothers who were single because their loutish husbands left them for Miss Suzy Cupcake, have told me they don’t talk about their struggles because the chances of being dismissed or patronized or even condemned are too high.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyYoung Adults* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 30, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

See how many you can guess on a sheet and then go and read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationPsychologyTravelUrban/City Life and Issues

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Posted October 27, 2014 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"The purpose of the lectures is to encourage persons recognized for scholarship, wisdom, and creativity to undertake serious thought and original writing on an issue of significance for the Christian church and to promote the sharing of such thoughts through a series of public lectures."

Is this what you would choose if you had to pick a topic? Read here for more information.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted October 25, 2014 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I did not know the man I was drinking tea with in the parish hall below my office. He had introduced himself as a retired Episcopal priest a few days before, when he'd called for this appointment. He told me then that he was offering something called "coaching," and was asking for referrals from local clergy. At the time of the call I had thought he was running some sort of sports team, but now, over tea, he was telling me what he meant by the word "coaching."

"We ask five power questions to help people change their lives," he told me (I cannot remember even one of those power questions). "This helps individuals grow and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and recognize his working in their lives."

"So far so good," I thought to myself. "At least up until now he has said things I cannot fault." Still, something felt wrong. And then he told me what coaching had done for him.

"It helped me evolve," he said with a wide smile. Since he appeared to be an average homo sapiens, I awaited an explanation. "Why, just last week I drove up to Maryland and did my first ever same-sex wedding."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 24, 2014 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If the left does own popular culture, it's because they worked hard for it, employing the conservative values of perseverance and creativity. There is a chasm that separates the infrastructure that the left has erected over the last 50 years to celebrate and interpret popular culture and the tiny space that establishment conservatism allocates to popular culture. It is for this reason, more than any claim that American popular culture is irredeemably decadent and leftist, that the right seems lost in the world of movies, music, and bestsellers. Every month, if not every week, important works of popular culture go unnoticed by the right. These are often things that speak to people's souls -- films that wrestle with questions of honor, novels, like Le Guin's about the meaning of sex and politics, music that explores the limits of self-sacrificial love.

And the right has nothing to contribute to the conversation.

In 1967 a college student named Jann Wenner borrowed $7,500 and founded Rolling Stone magazine because he wanted to cover the music and culture that was providing poetry to his generation. Around the same time a student named Martin Scorsese was graduating from New York University's film school, and a young would-be novelist named Ursula Le Guin was having her first five novels rejected. In other words, these artists, and many others, laid the groundwork for what they would eventually become -- the liberal establishment. They played the long game. This is why if musician Mark Turner had been inspired by Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness, a book that imagines a race that can change its gender, there would be an interview in the New York Times, play on the internet, a mention in Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair, maybe even a spot on Letterman. The structure is in place so that when an artist reinforces dominant liberal values, he or she has an instant pipeline to the people.

Read it all.

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

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Posted October 21, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It would be foolish to claim that this framework alone will resolve everything. Easy access to pornography, the hook-up culture, and media portrayals of recreational sex as the norm are difficult to counter. The social expectations that are producing ever more exorbitant wedding events do not get the attention they deserve.

The widening practice of cohabitation is vexing in another way. Young people hesitating to vow themselves to one another permanently are perpetuating the culture of contingency even though they have often been its victims—for example, as children of divorce. And even if the contingency of cohabitation makes lasting relationships somewhat less likely, it does approximate and thus honor marriage in some ways.

So the church and its leaders need great pastoral wisdom to do two things simultaneously:

Walk back from the culture of contingency by explaining and insisting in fresh ways that God intends for active sexuality to belong uniquely to marriage.
Work compassionately with those who have embraced the relative fidelity of cohabitation, even if they have not yet moved to embrace a covenant of marriage or a vocation of celibacy.

If we aim for these two goals, Christians will be better able to speak clearly and work energetically because together we’ll affirm that marriage is good—for everyone.

Read it all.

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

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Posted October 21, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

VALENTE: Transgender isn’t the same as being homosexual or merely cross-dressing. It’s a far more complex phenomenon known clinically as “gender dysphoria,” a severe discontent with one’s assigned sex. Transgender people often take hormones and have surgery to become more like the opposite sex. A little over a year ago, Becker began injecting testosterone. He had his breasts surgically removed.

transgenders-and-theology-post01BECKER: My only regret is throughout this entire process is not starting it sooner.

VALENTE: Emboldened by the new Amazon Online series "Transparent" and "Orange is the New Black" on Netflix, which features a transgender actress, transgender individuals are increasingly speaking out about their needs and their lives. An Episcopal priest recently came out as transgender, and a community of Carmelite nuns in Canada just accepted a novice with both male and female physical characteristics. The novice, Tia Michelle Pesando, has written a book called Why God Doesn’t Hate You.

OWEN DANIEL-MCCARTER (Transgender Activist, Chicago House): Even in the past 14 years, it is an incredible change in the visibility of transgender people in the media, the number of transgender activist organizations, people who are trying to change the law, and the medical system for trans people. It’s remarkable.

Read or watch it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Rev. Don Flowers was at breakfast with a group of minister friends in New York City when he heard news of the U.S. Supreme Court decision not to review a case overturning Virginia's gay marriage ban.

The pastors sat stunned, unsure what it meant, shocked at the speed things could start moving. Talk swiftly turned to ramifications ahead.

Flowers, pastor of Providence Baptist Church on Daniel Island, realized what it could mean back home: Gay marriage could become legal - and soon.

"A grenade has just been thrown down our aisles," Flowers said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 19, 2014 at 12:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

CK: In your evening public lecture at Regent this summer, “Confessions of an Ex-Pastor,” you said, “I wished I’d have lived and ministered more out of a Sabbath heart.” Can you unpack this a bit more?

MB: In my lecture, I made reference to the story in John 12 that during a celebration dinner for Jesus after Lazarus was resurrected, Lazarus had become as interesting, dangerous, and fruitful as Jesus. But the backstory in John 11 begins with Jesus getting some bad news: “The one you love is dying, please come quickly.” Jesus doesn’t come quickly. He delays and, according to Mary and Martha, he delays far too long. “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” I think there’s something compelling about that example of Jesus in the face of what we would consider as one of the greatest ministry crises imaginable for a pastor. The story begins with Jesus resting and ends with Lazarus resting with Jesus.

To draw a larger lesson from that, I think all effective ministry comes out of attentiveness and restfulness. That’s what I mean by a Sabbath heart. What you find in the life of Christ and the life of those who are present with him is an incredible fruitfulness and effectiveness in their ministry that people who are super busy don’t have. They’re not raising people from the dead like Jesus because they themselves are half dead.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 18, 2014 at 12:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...what if living a radical life isn’t what Christ desires for us? What if He’s far more interested in how we approach the mundane, the everydayness of life?

The ordinary?

That’s the premise of Michael Horton’s balancing new book Ordinary: Sustaining Faith in a Radical, Restless World. Horton believes we need to question “false values, expectations, and habits that we have absorbed, taken for granted, and even adopted with a veneer of piety.” (27)

Horton suggests we’ve got a problem, the problem of everydayness: “our lives are motivated by a constant expectation for The Next Big Thing.” (16) Instead of dedicating ourselves to ordinary, everyday callings and people we chase after the radical, the revolutionary, the dramatic. He insists that “Changing the world can be a way of actually avoiding the opportunities we have every day, right where God has placed us…” (16)

So how did we get here and where do we need to go? Horton argues the everyday became so yesterday starting with Boomers, and this has been perpetuated by their children and grandchildren. And the path beyond is a refocusing around God’s own focus...

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology

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Posted October 18, 2014 at 12:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What is really happening at this synod is an earnest effort by pastors of the church to determine how best to encourage people to live the Catholic faith. This is no easy task. A move too far in the direction of merely repeating old formularies will not work. A move away from what constitutes the very definition of what it means to be Catholic will not only erode the church’s self-identity and betray her founder’s mandate, it will also insult and alienate many Catholics who strive to live by the church’s teachings. This is what we pastors call the art of pastoral practice.

The practice is best modeled by Jesus’ encounter with the woman “caught in the very act of adultery” (John 8: 1-11). His interlocutors somehow thought that they could drive a wedge between his allegiance to biblical law and mercy. So they cast the woman before him and demanded that he say whether she should be stoned, as the law stipulated. The tension built as Jesus doodled in the sand. Finally he replied, “Let you who is without sin cast the first stone.”

The story does not end there. Jesus turned to the woman at his feet and delivered gentle, memorable words—a message that makes the whole story an encounter of faithful mercy: “Go and sin no more.” If this model—finding the balance between justice and mercy, which are often in tension—weighs heavily on the minds of bishops gathered in Rome, that will be an achievement for the church and its pastoral model.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchGlobalizationMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 17, 2014 at 7:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dr. Samuel Kabue, coordinator of the Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network says, "The inclusion of persons with disability is not an option but a defining characteristic of the Church."

Members of EDAN, a program of the World Council of Churches, met in the Netherlands to develop a new statement with the working title "Gift of Being: Called to be a Church of All and for All."

The new document aims to build on the WCC interim statement on disability "A Church of All and for All" issued in 2003, the WCC said in a statement.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 17, 2014 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For several millennia, people have worried about whether or not they have free will. What exactly worries them? No single answer suffices. For centuries the driving issue was about God’s supposed omniscience. If God knew what we were going to do before we did it, in what sense were we free to do otherwise? Weren’t we just acting out our parts in a Divine Script? Were any of our so-called decisions real decisions? Even before belief in an omniscient God began to wane, science took over the threatening role. Democritus, the ancient Greek philosopher and proto-scientist, postulated that the world, including us, was made of tiny entities—atoms—and imagined that unless atoms sometimes, unpredictably and for no reason, interrupted their trajectories with a random swerve, we would be trapped in causal chains that reached back for eternity, robbing us of our power to initiate actions on our own.

Lucretius adopted this idea, and expressed it with such dazzling power in his Stoic masterpiece, De Rerum Natura, that ever since the rediscovery of that poem in the 15th century, it has structured the thinking of philosophers and scientists alike. This breathtaking anticipation of quantum mechanics and its sub-atomic particles jumping—independently of all prior causation—from one state to another, has been seen by many to clarify the problem and enunciate its solution in one fell swoop: to have free will is to be the beneficiary of “quantum indeterminism” somewhere deep in our brains. But others have seen that an agent with what amounts to an utterly unpredictable roulette wheel in the driver’s seat hardly qualifies as an agent who is responsible for the actions chosen. Does free will require indeterminism or not? Many philosophers are sure they know the answer (I among them), but it must be acknowledged that nothing approaching consensus has yet been reached.

Read it all.

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

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Posted October 17, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Among the 253 participants in the Synod on the Family which will conclude here in the Vatican on Sunday are eight delegates from different Christian Churches who are sharing insights from their own communities and traditions. Among them is the Anglican Bishop of Durham Paul Butler who has specialised in children and family ministry within the Church of England. As a husband and father of four children, Bishop Butler also brought his own experience to the Synod and especially to those working in one of the English language groups this week.

Bishop Butler sat down with Philippa Hitchen to talk about his impressions of the two-week meeting and about the struggle within the Anglican world of reaching out to people in same-sex relationships while upholding the Church’s teaching on marriage and family life

Read and listen to it all (about 8 1/3 minutes).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychologySexuality* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 16, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Experts who study public psychology say the next few weeks will be crucial to containing mounting anxiety. “Officials will have to be very, very careful,” said Paul Slovic, president of Decision Research, a nonprofit that studies public health and perceptions of threat. “Once trust starts to erode, the next time they tell you not to worry — you worry.”

The risk of Ebola infection remains vanishingly small in this country. The virus is not airborne, not able to travel in the way that, say, measles or the SARS virus can. Close contact with a patient is required for transmission. Just one death from Ebola has occurred here, and medical care is light-years from that available in West Africa, where more than 4,400 people have died in the latest outbreak.

By contrast, in some years, the flu kills more than 30,000 people in the United States. Yet this causes little anxiety: Millions of people who could benefit from a flu shot do not get one.

Read it all.

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

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Posted October 16, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Births outside of marriage are increasing most among those without college degrees and in cohabiting couples – as well as for those in their twenties, as Isabel Sawhill and Joanna Venator correctly note. This trend is driven as much by economic as social change, and so requires economic and well as social solutions.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 15, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The midterm report, presented by Hungarian Cardinal Peter Erdo, was intended as a summary of the synod’s conversation to date, and has no standing as a statement of church teaching. It likely will be significantly modified before a final version is adopted by the bishops on Friday.

One cardinal taking part in the synod told reporters today that some media coverage distorted a proper understanding of the document, falsely suggesting that it contained firm conclusions of the whole body.

“We’re now working from a position that’s virtually irredeemable,” said Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier of South Africa.

“The message has gone out that this is what synod is saying, that this is what the Catholic Church is saying,” he said. “Whatever we say hereafter will seem like we’re doing damage control.”

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted October 14, 2014 at 1:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some of the most interesting debates taking place in Catholicism these days on family and marriage issues revolve around the work of gay Catholics who are orthodox in their stance on church teachings, as articulated in the Catechism and elsewhere.

Yes, this is a complex crowd. There are important debates in these circles about the degree to which homosexual orientation itself should be seen as a unique gift from God and, by implication, a part of God's plan for creation. There are also debates here about the degree to which sexual orientation should be openly celebrated as a key source of a person's public identity. (Can orthodox Catholics use "gay" language in a way that is positive and helps the church?) I get all of that.

All I am saying is that the language used in these discussions is often very close to the language that news consumers are hearing from the Vatican – filtered through the political, not doctrinal, lens of the press. The "tone" of the discussions in this niche in Catholic thought, and some content, is very similar to the current Vatican language that we are reading.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 14, 2014 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For a Church that has historically linked the word “homosexual” with the word “sin,” the idea of welcoming gays in any capacity can appear to be a significant move. Headlines immediately spoke of a “dramatic shift” and a “more tolerant” stance from the church.

But before rushing to conclusions, everyone, on all sides, should calm down.

First, here’s what the document actually is:

The relatio is a mid-Synod snapshot of 200+ Catholic leaders’ conversations that happened in the Synod hall last week. It is a starting point for conversations as the Synod fathers start small group discussions this week.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 14, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Ebola epidemic threatens the "very survival" of societies and could lead to failed states, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned.

The outbreak, which has killed some 4,000 people in West Africa, has led to a "crisis for international peace and security", WHO head Margaret Chan said.

She also warned of the cost of panic "spreading faster than the virus".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHealth & MedicineHistoryPsychology* International News & CommentaryAfricaGuineaLiberiaNigeriaSierra Leone* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 13, 2014 at 4:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Benedict XVI* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

9 Comments
Posted October 13, 2014 at 11:56 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Waiting for your midlife crisis? Relax. It’s probably not coming.

According to a growing body of research, midlife upheavals are more fiction than fact.

“Despite its popularity in the popular culture, there isn’t much evidence for a midlife crisis,” says Susan Krauss Whitbourne, a professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is conducting a continuing study of more than 450 people who graduated from college between 1965 and 2006. The study’s latest installment is scheduled for publication in 2015.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMiddle AgePsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted October 13, 2014 at 11:19 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Using strikingly open language, an interim report of a Vatican synod on modern family life says the church needs to welcome and appreciate gays, and offers a solution for divorced and remarried Catholics who want to receive Communion.

At a press conference to present the report, Cardinal Tagle of the Philippines said the most discussed topics at the Synod so far were the impact of poverty, war and immigration on families.

But one veteran Vatican journalist called the newly proposed language on gays and civil marriages a “pastoral earthquake.”

“Regarding homosexuals, it went so far as to pose the question whether the church could accept and value their sexual orientation without compromising Catholic doctrine,” said John Thavis, a former Rome bureau chief for Catholic News Service.

Read it all.

Update: An AP article is here--read it all also.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyMenPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & PartnershipsWomen* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

3 Comments
Posted October 13, 2014 at 10:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If Christians are to accept...so-called [same-sex] marriage, they must accept that our liturgies and our services, our pastors and priests, our forefathers and foremothers have been for centuries wrong about the meaning of marriage. What they heard, what the pastor read, what their grandparents knew to be true was wrong as rain. And not just a little wrong, but fundamentally mistaken about the most essential elements of marriage. If... [same-sex] marriage is right, then there is almost nothing in the old Book of Common Prayer that is right.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship--Book of Common PrayerParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 13, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon


It was a Tuesday afternoon when my 15-year-old son called from his academic summer program at a leafy New England boarding school and told me that as he was walking across campus, a gray Acura with a broken rear taillight pulled up beside him. He continued along the sidewalk, and two men leaned out of the car and glared at him.

“Are you the only nigger at Mellon Academy*?” one shouted.

Certain that he had not heard them correctly, my son moved closer to the curb, and asked politely, “I’m sorry; I didn’t hear you ... ”

But he had heard correctly. And this time the man spoke more clearly. “Only ... nigger,” he said with added emphasis.

My son froze. He dropped his backpack in alarm and stepped back from the idling car. Within seconds, the men floored the sedan’s accelerator, honked the horn loudly, and drove off, their laughter echoing behind them....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychologyRace/Race Relations* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

4 Comments
Posted October 12, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I admire Isabel Sawhill deeply, but I respectfully disagree with this recommendation.

First, American marriage isn’t disappearing, it’s fracturing along class lines. In upscale America — about one-third of the society — marriage is thriving. Most people marry, few children (fewer than 10 percent) are born to unmarried mothers, and most children grow up through age 18 living with their two married parents. Among the more privileged, then, marriage clearly functions as a wealth-producing arrangement, a source of happiness over time, and a benefit to children.

Indeed, scholars today increasingly identify America’s marriage gap — in which the affluent reap the benefits of marriage while the non-affluent increasingly do not — as an important driver of rising American inequality. Wouldn’t it be odd, and sad, if American elites, at the very moment in which the role of marriage as both an indicator and producer of high status in their own lives is crystal clear, decided to throw up their hands in resignation when it comes to marriage in the rest of the society?

Second, changing what we support from “marriage” (a social institution) to “responsible parenthood” (a piece of advice) means downplaying the role of society and putting all responsibility on the individual.

Read it all.

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

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Posted October 10, 2014 at 4:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Las Vegas is such an impossible, unlikely place, a neon metropolis in the middle of the desert. Equally marvelous and unlikely is the technology that allows me to safely retrieve and freeze my eggs for future use, without a single incision. Because egg freezing only recently lost its “experimental” status and the success rates are not as well known as with embryo freezing, I decided to keep my options open and freeze both eggs and embryos. It feels a little bit like I’m living in a science fiction novel.

Now, a few months post-retrieval, I wonder when and how I will decide to use the eggs I’ve just nourished, protected, collected, and frozen. It’s possible I’ll meet someone and have children the traditional way. It’s possible I’ll marry in time for one child, but need to return to my frozen eggs for a second one. It’s possible I’ll decide to be a single mother, the way my mother was for many years. It’s possible I’ll adopt or decide not to have children at all, and be equally happy. But if I do have a daughter or son some day from the eggs I retrieved, I look forward to telling my child about the unexpected summer night in Vegas when it all started.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicinePsychologyScience & TechnologyWomen* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 10, 2014 at 10:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Katharine Welby-Roberts, the Archbishop of Canterbury's daughter, has lived with depression since she was a teenager and says the stigma she has faced as a result has been as damaging as the illness itself.

Read it all and watch the whole video.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPsychology

0 Comments
Posted October 8, 2014 at 2:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For many evangelicals, the Osteens are on the periphery of Christianity. They represent the “prosperity gospel”—a message that claims that God will bless the faithful with financial gain. Prosperity preachers often live extravagant lifestyles and point to their wealth as evidence of their message. They often quote biblical passages, taking them very literally, to further their claims that God’s desire is health and wealth.

Many evangelicals, however, assert that God doesn’t work in this way. Faithfulness to God doesn’t mean blessings from above, especially in such worldly pursuits. They try to distance themselves from the prosperity gospel, claiming that it doesn’t represent Christianity but a misunderstanding of it.

It is possible, however, that the Osteens represent not the margins but the center of evangelicalism. Considering the Osteens’ popularity, they garner a sizable audience that shouldn’t be ignored. Additionally, when one compares the Osteens to other popular evangelical authors such as Max Lucado and Rick Warren, several patterns emerge, suggesting that Osteens aren’t that far from what most evangelicals are looking for.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

2 Comments
Posted October 8, 2014 at 1:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

American banks are loading up on U.S. government debt, a sign they remain cautious on the economy even with the jobless rate at a six-year low and corporations at their healthiest in a generation.

Commercial lenders increased their holdings of Treasuries (BUSY) and debt from federal agencies in September by $54 billion to an unprecedented $1.99 trillion, data from the Federal Reserve show. Banks have now been net buyers for 12 straight months.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The switch to Heights Community Church goes hand-in-hand with church leadership’s effort to re-brand the church into something more welcoming to new and younger churchgoers.

The sign outside, on the corner of Grandin Road and Memorial Avenue Southwest, was altered weeks ago, but the change inside the church is intangible.

“What we’re doing, culminating this Sunday in our launch, has been tectonic shifts,” the Rev. Nelson Harris said. “I truly have never been more passionate or excited about my pastoral ministry or this church than I am at this moment.”

Harris, a former Roanoke mayor, has been a pastor for 25 years and was baptized, married and ordained at what is now Heights Community Church. Following a nationwide trend of declining church participation, the crowds for his Sunday sermons were getting smaller.

Read it all.

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

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Posted October 7, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Kelly Wood, 29, and her husband Ethan Bushman married last month, waiting seven years after they met in order to further their education and careers.

“I felt if I had gotten married at an earlier age, it would have been too young,” said Wood, a nurse in San Francisco whose husband is 30 and finishing a graduate degree. “Just being older and more established in our careers and our goals in life, that groundwork is letting us enter into marriage as strong as we can.”

Couples in the U.S. are increasingly postponing marriage, a decades-long pattern exacerbated by financial struggles still facing young adults five years after the end of the deepest recession since the 1930s. The delays are contributing to a lower birth rate and less homeownership, limiting consumer spending.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingMarriage & FamilyPsychologySociologyYoung Adults* General InterestPhotos/Photography* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 7, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The discussion preceding the synod of bishops on the family has ignored the most vulnerable party in divorces and remarriages: children. In so doing, it mirrors the discussion of sex and marriage in western culture more broadly, which focuses on the gratification of the desires of adults—however legitimate—while paying no attention to the needs of children.

For some children, no doubt, their parents’ divorce brings relief. For many, however, it leaves a wound that never fully heals. Children find themselves caught between two parties who each have a claim on them. They can frequently feel like pawns in a game, or like a piece of land fought over by conflicting nations. They have to grow up fast to take care of adults who, in their hurt, have begun to act like children.

Divorce ends the world that the child knows. It says that the foundation of her life, the structure that produced her and formed her is no more. This is captured well in the title of a book by a professor of youth ministry, Andrew Root: The Children of Divorce: The Loss of Family as the Loss of Being. The title is not an exaggeration.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 6, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the past few weeks, several large-scale college sexual assault prevention initiatives have launched, focusing on "bystander intervention" — which might be campuses' best bet toward creating a safe environment for students.

Bystander intervention trains students to identify and intervene in potentially harmful situations. For example, bystander training teaches students to interject themselves if they see a clearly incapacitated friend being led off into a sexual situation they would likely have no control over.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationMenPsychologySexualityViolenceWomenYoung Adults* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted October 5, 2014 at 4:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If we are going to reflect on a theme like “The Ethics of Sex, Marriage and Family,” and presume to be doing so on the basis of the canon of scripture, we must be prepared to accept a cardinal reality. To speak of Christian Ethics is to speak of scripture in action, in the lived life of Christian formation and catechesis. Increasingly, very few progressives dismiss the scriptural record on sex, marriage and family. Some of course still do. They are bold to proclaim that the biblical witness is not just wrong in its parts (Genesis 1-3 as ancient Hebrew musing, Paul as wrong or speaking about something else, Jesus as all loving and disinterested in a modern phenomenon like gayness, which exists in a timeframe the bible does not nor could ever be expected to comprehend). The Bible is wrong, outdated, or just not addressing the matter of the challenge of new understandings of sex and human thriving, altogether. If it gets things right, it does so accidentally or inferentially, like the proverbial blind hog finding an acorn.

I mention this right up front because, as with the early church, what we now see is something else: a heavy assault mounted from within Christian circles themselves on prior understandings of the estate of marriage and its goods. Not from cultural despisers or secularists, but from those who purport to argue that their new understanding is indeed scriptural after all. Many secular and religious proponents of same-sexuality had concluded earlier that marriage was a patriarchal invention that no card-carrying proponent of sexual liberation—gay or straight—ought to go near. Inside Christian circles, this has changed.

So alongside those dubious about scripture having anything to say, accidentally or properly, are those who argue that their new understanding of sexuality is somehow biblical after all. In this sense, the debate over marriage, sex and family is one in which both sides, or several sides, all appeal to scripture. That is, not unlike the early church examples just cited. So we must ask: What account of scripture is it that has been brought to bear on our present and older understandings of sex, marriage, and family. Because of its scale, depth, and complex two-testament character, Scripture is infinitely capable of producing multiple interpretations. Irenaeus used the image of a mosaic. One receives a gift of scripture with all its myriad pieces, and the goal of interpretation is to see the face of the king, Jesus Christ, when all the pieces are properly and proportionally assembled....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted October 4, 2014 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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