Posted by Kendall Harmon

Stunningly, Mr Putnam finds that family background is a better predictor of whether or not a child will graduate from university than 8th-grade test scores. Kids in the richest quarter with low test scores are as likely to make it through college as kids in the poorest quarter with high scores....

There are no obvious villains in this story. Mr Murray suggested that the educated classes preach the values they practise by urging the poor to get married before they have children. But the record of those who tell other people how to arrange their love lives is hardly encouraging. Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama preached the virtues of responsible fatherhood, to no obvious effect.

Mr Putnam sees “no clear path to reviving marriage” among the poor. Instead, he suggests a grab-bag of policies to help poor kids reach their potential, such as raising subsidies for poor families, teaching them better parenting skills, improving nursery care and making after-school baseball clubs free. He urges all 50 states to experiment to find out what works. A problem this complex has no simple solution.

Read it all.



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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Councillors are to discuss how best to manage large-scale funerals after one for a traveller from Cheshire attracted hundreds of mourners.

Holy Trinity Church in Blacon and Chester Crematorium were packed for the service marking 54-year-old Elton man "Pudgie" Evans's life on 30 January.

Cheshire West and Chester Council and Cheshire Constabulary worked together to manage the funeral.

Local residents were advised beforehand and roads shut for the funeral cortege....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* Theology

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Posted March 25, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With a few short-lived and unsustainable exceptions, the story of the last 30 years appears to be one of constantly falling interest rates and disappointing growth. Central banks try to keep stimulating the economy, but investment demand never really seems to gather pace in response to their efforts. Instead, investment seems stagnant and unresponsive to policy during normal periods, but shoots up during events like the dotcom and real estate bubbles, which then burst and leave everyone worse off.

People have been puzzling over this pattern for decades, but it took a speech by Larry Summers to the IMF in 2013 to really crystallise the whole picture, and bring it into the public eye. Ever since, it’s been known by the term he gave the phenomenon: ‘secular stagnation’. But he didn’t invent it. It was first coined by Alvin Hansen in the post-Depression 30s, when technological progress seemed to have ground to a halt.

The revival of the term could be misleading on a number of levels.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEuropean Central BankHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe U.S. GovernmentFederal Reserve* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 25, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For middle-class Americans, it’s never been easier to feel consumed by consumption. Despite the recession, despite a brief interlude when savings rates shot up and credit-card debt went down, Americans arguably have more stuff now than any society in history. Children in the U.S. make up 3.1% of the world’s kid population, but U.S. families buy more than 40% of the toys purchased globally. The rise of wholesalers and warehouse supermarkets has packed our pantries and refrigerators with bulk items that often overflow into a second fridge. One-click shopping and same-day delivery have driven purchasing to another level altogether, making conspicuous consumption almost too easy.

Our stuff has taken over. Most household moves outside the U.S. weigh from 2,500 lb. to 7,500 lb. (1,110 kg to 3,400 kg). The average weight of a move in the U.S. is 8,000 lb. (3,600 kg), the weight of a fully grown hippo. An entire industry has emerged to house our extra belongings–self-storage, a $24 billion business so large that every American could fit inside its units simultaneously.

It would be one thing if all our possessions were making us happier, but the opposite seems to be occurring. At least one study shows that a home with too much stuff can actually lead to higher levels of anxiety. “These objects that we bring in the house are not inert,” says UCLA anthropologist Elinor Ochs, who led a decade-long study on hyperacquisition. “They have consequences.”

Read it all.

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

2 Comments
Posted March 24, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I am not neutral. I agree with Dolce and Gabbana. Elton John is wrong. This is not to insult his children or take away from their humanity; nor is it to demean the character of men who love men everywhere. I am just as queer as both of these men. I have been out as bisexual since 1989 and have withstood a great deal of hostility from both the LGBT community and conservative Christians for refusing to use the label “ex-gay” to describe myself.

I also grew up with a lesbian couple without much connection to my father. In the process of writing my most recent book, Jephthah’s Daughters, I dealt with countless testimonials from children of same-sex couples all over the world. Stefano Gabbana gets us. Part of this is because his craft leads him outside of language to the ineffable world of instinct.

You can tell a child in such a home every day, “we are your fathers,” but our bodies and the rest of the visual environment around us will always reveal such words as false. The day-to-day rhythm of life, that quotidian routine that Gabbana must understand for his art but which Elton John does not have to, acts upon the language of same-sex parenting like a trickle of water wearing down a rock. With each day, in all the small gestures and emotional moments, the child puts together a picture of herself in the world and eventually realizes that the same-sex parents have created a world that is . . . what can we call it? Let’s use the language of theater critics: Contrived. Forced. Implausible.

Synthetic.

Read it all from First Things.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPsychologySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

To understand where this cyber-libertarian ideology came from, you have to understand the influence of “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace,” one of the strangest artifacts of the ’90s, and its singular author, John Perry Barlow. Perhaps more than any other, it’s his philosophy — which melded countercultural utopianism, a rancher’s skepticism toward government and a futurist’s faith in the virtual world — that shaped the industry.

The problem is, we’ve reaped what he sowed.

Generally the province of fascists, artists or fascist artists, manifestos are a dying form. It takes gall to have published one anytime after, say, 1938. But “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” was an utterly serious document for a deliriously optimistic era that Wired, on one of its many valedictory covers, promised was a “long boom”: “25 years of prosperity, freedom, and a better environment for the whole world.” Techno-skeptics need not apply.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryPhilosophyPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 22, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When she repeated this belief at school, the teacher ridiculed her in front of the class and said only "religious nutters" held such beliefs.

This is just one of the stories of discrimination against Christians in the workplace uncovered in a new consultation, which also found evidence that atheists were being discriminated against by some Christians.

Employees feel under increasing pressure to keep their religion hidden at work and they also feel discriminated against when it comes to wearing religious symbols or expressing their beliefs, the consultation found.

Christians in particular feel discriminated against.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted March 21, 2015 at 12:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I think luo has something important to teach us in the face of dementia. In the face of deficit, decline, and death we try hard to cling on. But the lesson of the little word luo is that maybe the path of resurrection lies in letting go. If death is starting now, maybe resurrection can start now too.

Perhaps it’s only when we let go of who and what our loved one was that we can receive who they are now. Perhaps only when we find ways to enjoy who they are now can we reverse the deficit and the decline, because we stop assuming they’re moving away from something good and start appreciating that they’re moving into something new.

Dementia is not a living death. It’s an invitation to see how we can remain the same person yet take on new and rather different characteristics. In that sense it’s a training in resurrection, in which we shall be changed but still recognizably ourselves. Like resurrection, we can’t experience it unless we find ways to let go, to let loose, to be released and forgiven. God welcomes us into eternal life not by keeping a tight hold on us but by letting us go. The challenge for us in dementia is to find ways that we can do the same.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicinePsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted March 21, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On her first morning in America, last summer, my daughter went out to explore her new neighborhood — alone, without even telling my wife or me.

Of course we were worried; we had just moved from Berlin, and she was just 8. But when she came home, we realized we had no reason to panic. Beaming with pride, she told us and her older sister how she had discovered the little park around the corner, and had made friends with a few local dog owners. She had taken possession of her new environment, and was keen to teach us things we didn’t know.

When this story comes up in conversations with American friends, we are usually met with polite disbelief. Most are horrified by the idea that their children might roam around without adult supervision. In Berlin, where we lived in the center of town, our girls would ride the Metro on their own — a no-no in Washington. Or they’d go alone to the playground, or walk a mile to a piano lesson. Here in quiet and traffic-safe suburban Washington, they don’t even find other kids on the street to play with. On Halloween, when everybody was out to trick or treat, we were surprised by how many children actually lived here whom we had never seen.

Read it all.

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

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Posted March 20, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jonathan Haber majored in philosophy at Harvard University. And Yale. And Stanford. He explored Kant’s “The Critique of Pure Reason” with an Oxford don and Kierkegaard’s insights into “Subjectivity, Irony and the Crisis of Modernity” with a leading light from the University of Copenhagen.

In his quest to meet all the standard requirements for a bachelor of arts degree in a single year, the 52-year-old from Lexington, Mass., also took courses in English common law, Shakespeare’s late plays and the science of cooking, which overlapped with the degree in chemistry he earned from Wesleyan in 1985.

Here’s the brilliant part: Mr. Haber didn’t spend a dime on tuition or fees. Instead, he gorged from the smorgasbord of free courses offered by top universities. He documented the project on his website, degreeoffreedom.org, and in a new book exploring the wider phenomenon of massive open online courses, or MOOCs. He didn’t earn a degree — the knowledge may be free but the sheepskin costs dearly — but he was satisfied.

Read it all.

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

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Posted March 20, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Loneliness kills. That’s the conclusion of a new study by Brigham Young University researchers who say they are sounding the alarm on what could be the next big public-health issue, on par with obesity and substance abuse.

The subjective feeling of loneliness increases risk of death by 26%, according to the new study in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science. Social isolation — or lacking social connection — and living alone were found to be even more devastating to a person’s health than feeling lonely, respectively increasing mortality risk by 29% and 32%.

“This is something that we need to take seriously for our health,” says Brigham Young University researcher Julianne Holt-Lunstad, an author of the study. “This should become a public-health issue.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicinePsychology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted March 20, 2015 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Virtual reality is just getting started. A bunch of companies, including HTC, Samsung, and Sony have shown off headsets that immerse you in a virtual world, and Facebook's Oculus — credited with kickstarting the latest craze — has been selling a version to developers for some time now.

But most people have never tried or even seen a VR headset, much less been able to buy one.

That's going to change, fast. Business Insider Intelligence expects VR to be the next big thing in gaming, with 26.5 million units sold in 2020. That would give it a compound annual growth rate of nearly 100% — in other words, sales, on average, will double every year for the next five. So get ready to be immersed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life

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Posted March 19, 2015 at 5:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Marriage is an inherently public institution designed to recognize and protect natural families, she says—not a “government registry of friendships.” Privatizing wouldn’t get the government out of the marriage business. By removing the presumption of biological parentage, courts would be full of custody battles between unrelated individuals, friends, gamete donors, and whoever else claims parentage. And children would suffer.

That’s isn’t a solution. It creates more problems than it solves.

Read and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted March 19, 2015 at 2:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More Americans are saying “I do” more than one time.

Nearly one in five U.S. adults—roughly 17%—has been married two or more times, according to a new analysis by the U.S. Census Bureau of its 2008-2012 American Community Survey. About 4% of U.S. residents age 15 or older have been married three or more times.

The findings—the first snapshot of remarriage trends by the census with levels of geographical detail—are the latest to suggest that, while marriage has declined in the U.S. since the 1960s, remarriage, especially among older Americans, is on the rise.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyMiddle AgePsychologySociology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted March 16, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If religions are natural for humans and give value to their lives, why spend your life trying to persuade others to give them up?

The answer that will be given is that religion is implicated in many human evils. Of course this is true. Among other things, Christianity brought with it a type of sexual repression unknown in pagan times. Other religions have their own distinctive flaws. But the fault is not with religion, any more than science is to blame for the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or medicine and psychology for the refinement of techniques of torture. The fault is in the intractable human animal. Like religion at its worst, contemporary atheism feeds the fantasy that human life can be remade by a conversion experience – in this case, conversion to unbelief.

Evangelical atheists at the present time are missionaries for their own values. If an earlier generation promoted the racial prejudices of their time as scientific truths, ours aims to give the illusions of contemporary liberalism a similar basis in science. It’s possible to envision different varieties of atheism developing – atheisms more like those of Freud, which didn’t replace God with a flattering image of humanity. But atheisms of this kind are unlikely to be popular. More than anything else, our unbelievers seek relief from the panic that grips them when they realise their values are rejected by much of humankind. What today’s freethinkers want is freedom from doubt, and the prevailing version of atheism is well suited to give it to them.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsAtheism* TheologyAnthropologyApologetics

0 Comments
Posted March 16, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last year, the radio host Diane Rehm watched in agony as her husband, John, starved to death over the course of 10 days.

Severely crippled by Parkinson’s disease, his only option for ending the suffering was to stop eating and drinking. Physicians in most states, including Maryland, where he lived, are barred from helping terminally ill patients who want to die in a dignified way.

“He was a brilliant man, just brilliant,” Ms. Rehm said in an interview. “For him to go out that way, not being able to do anything for himself, was an insufferable indignity.”

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 15, 2015 at 2:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Over time, [Robin] Rinaldi decided a baby would add purpose to their lives, but [her husband] Scott wouldn’t change his mind. “I wanted a child, but only with him,” she explains. “He didn’t want a child but wanted to keep me.” When Scott opted for a vasectomy, she demanded an open marriage.

“I refuse to go to my grave with no children and only four lovers,” she declares. “If I can’t have one, I must have the other.”

If you’re wondering why that is the relevant trade-off, stop overthinking this. “The Wild Oats Project” is the year-long tale of how a self-described “good girl” in her early 40s moves out, posts a personal ad “seeking single men age 35-50 to help me explore my sexuality,” sleeps with roughly a dozen friends and strangers, and joins a sex commune, all from Monday to Friday, only to rejoin Scott on weekends so they can, you know, work on their marriage.

Read it all--in my mind from the Brave new World Department.

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

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


Posted March 15, 2015 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Americans continue to name the government (18%) as the most important U.S. problem, a distinction it has had for the past four months. Americans' mentions of the economy as the top problem (11%) dropped this month, leaving it tied with jobs (10%) for second place.

Though issues such as terrorism, healthcare, race relations and immigration have emerged among the top problems in recent polls, government, the economy and unemployment have been the dominant problems listed by Americans for more than a year.

The latest results are from a March 5-8 Gallup poll of 1,025 American adults.

Read it all.

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

1 Comments
Posted March 13, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Organisations are constantly playing around with the levers of financial motivation - offering or withholding money as an inducement or a threat. They use individual and team bonuses, cash rewards, profit sharing and company stock as ways of using economic factors to enhance motivation.

But there are some striking examples of motivation outside this system. The military is a central case. In the armed forces, often for very modest pay, people will do extraordinary things. Even die. It's an astonishing contrast. You can pay someone $38,000 a year to die for you. But you struggle to pay someone $45,000 a year to sit in a room and fill in forms.

This tells us that motivation simply cannot be primarily financial. People can be moved by money, but they can be moved and motivated more by other things. The armed forces also tell us something about where the strongest kinds of motivation come from.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMilitary / Armed ForcesPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 12, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jean Vanier, a Canadian who launched an international network of communities for the mentally disabled, has won the 2015 Templeton Prize worth $1.7 million for affirming life's spiritual dimension.

The U.S.-based John Templeton Foundation announced the award on Wednesday in London, calling him "this extraordinary man" whose message of compassion for society's weakest members "has the potential to change the world for the better".

Vanier, 86, founded the first L'Arche ("Ark") community in 1964 when he invited two mentally disabled men to leave their large institution and live with him in a small house in Trosly-Breuil, a village 95 km (60 miles) north of Paris.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchGlobalizationHealth & MedicinePovertyPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryCanadaEuropeFrance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted March 12, 2015 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Just about everybody has one raging narcissist to deal with, sooner or later -- on the job, in social situations or (God forbid) in the home. How did he get this way, we wonder? What was his childhood like?

For what appears to be the first time, researchers have taken a stab at that question by following and surveying 565 children ages 7 through 11 and their parents -- 415 mothers and 290 fathers.

The results are quite clear: Parents who "overvalue" children during this developmental stage, telling them they are superior to others and entitled to special treatment, are more likely to produce narcissistic children -- who can grow up to become narcissistic adults, unless something is done about it.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted March 11, 2015 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Here’s an uncomfortable question for all of us: When was the last time we shared the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ with anyone? The last time we told someone that Jesus died so that God could forgive their sins, and that we must receive that gift in trusting faith?

According to the Barna Group, although 100 percent of “evangelicals” believe they have a personal responsibility to evangelize, a full 31 percent admit to not having done so in the past 12 months.

Thom Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, notes that his church—the Southern Baptist Convention—is reaching non-Christians only half as effectively as it did 50 years ago. Rainer calls the trend “disturbing.” And indeed it is. “By almost any metric,” he says, “the churches in our nation are much less evangelistic today than they were in the recent past.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchHistoryMulticulturalism, pluralismPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyChristologySoteriology

0 Comments
Posted March 11, 2015 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The suicide rate among today’s male military combat veterans is two and a half times that of any previous war and three times the rate of the male civilian population. That as many as 44 young veterans are killing themselves every day (more often than not by gunshot) is considered a crisis by those responsible for our veterans’ well-being.

Sixteen weeks of training, no matter how professional and intense, cannot prepare a young man for combat when he has been coddled all of his life by well-intentioned but ignorant parents — parents who honestly believe their children are in a constant state of jeopardy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Violent crime against children is down more than 20 percent since the 1950s.

Read it all.

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

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Posted March 11, 2015 at 9:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some people are allergic to the T-word. After a lone gunman stormed Parliament Hill last fall, killing a soldier at the National War Memorial, they said it was not possible to conclude that this was terrorism. More likely, the guy just had mental problems. “I think that we’re not in the presence of a terrorist act in the sense that we would understand it,” said NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair. “I don’t think we have enough evidence to use that word.”

In the Vancouver Sun, Ian Mulgrew argued that Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was no terrorist. He was a victim. “The vast amount of tax money devoted to his petty crimes would have been far better spent providing him with appropriate psychiatric and social care,” he wrote. As for the two people who plotted to bomb the B.C. Legislature, “They, too, seem more sad sack than Satanic.”

Now we know better. Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau’s self-made martyrdom video, released by the RCMP last week, is chillingly clear about his motives. “This is in retaliation for Afghanistan and because Harper wants to send his troops to Iraq,” he said. “We’ll not cease until you guys decide to be a peaceful country … and stop occupying and killing the righteous of us who are trying to bring back religious law in our countries.” (In a very Canadian touch, he signs off by saying “Thank you.”)

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“In 1990, 54 percent of marriages were the first for both spouses,” said Jamie Lewis, an analyst in the Census Bureau’s Fertility and Family Statistics Branch and one of the report’s authors. “Now, newlyweds are more likely to be walking down the aisle for the first time — 58 percent of recent marriages were a first for both. The stabilization or slight decrease in the divorce rate during this period may explain why more marriages today are first marriages."

Below are a few highlights from the report:

About 13 percent of men age 15 and over have been married twice, compared with 14 percent of women.
Between 1996 and 2008-2012, the share of those who had married at least twice increased only for women age 50 and older and men 60 and older.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSociology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentCensus/Census Data* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 11, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Of the many new words that bubbled up from our technological culture in 2014, perhaps the most unsettling is doxxing.

Typically carried out by anonymous online users with axes to grind and little to lose, doxxing involves making someone’s private information public. That includes home addresses, phone numbers, financial histories, medical records—anything that can be found in the endless databases available to canny hackers.

Doxxing can be a drive-by prank on most anyone who draws attention. But more often its targets are singled out for humiliation. In a series of events last year that came to be called GamerGate, certain active video gamers targeted journalists, mostly women, who had criticized the outright misogyny found in many popular video games. The backlash began with the bilious insults that have become astonishingly common online. But it quickly escalated to “revenge blogs” purporting to reveal those journalists’ past indiscretions, and doxxing attacks.

Doxxing is extreme and rare. But it marks the limit of a trend that affects every one of us: aspects of our lives that were once private and fleeting can now be publicly, and permanently, exposed.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted March 10, 2015 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a country recently transfixed by the trial of a famous politician that revealed details of his orgy escapades, and where the president was found to be cheating on his live-in partner, an ad promoting extramarital affairs might not seem like such a big deal.

But even in famously libertine France, the latest advertising campaign — evoking the temptations of Eve with a partly eaten apple — for a dating website geared to married women looking for affairs has spawned a backlash and a national debate.

The ads for the dating website Gleeden, which bills itself as “the premier site for extramarital affairs designed by women,” were recently splashed on the backs of buses in several French cities. Seven cities decided to withdraw the ads, and opponents have mobilized against them on social media, providing the latest example of a prominent cultural divide in France about the lines between public morality, private sexual conduct and the country’s vaunted freedom of expression.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Modern technology provides us with many means to cause our downfall, and our natural moral psychology does not provide us with the means to prevent it. The moral enhancement of humankind is necessary for there to be a way out of this predicament.

If we are to avoid catastrophe by misguided employment of our power, we need to be morally motivated to a higher degree (as well as adequately informed about relevant facts). A stronger focus on moral education could go some way to achieving this, but as already remarked, this method has had only modest success during the last couple of millennia. Our growing knowledge of biology, especially genetics and neurobiology, could deliver additional moral enhancement, such as drugs or genetic modifications, or devices to augment moral education.

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.

Read it all.

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

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Posted March 10, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The crisis of adulthood, then, feeds off of the crisis of Enlightenment values. In an age in which freedom, human resilience and reason are seen as dangerous ideas, if not Eurocentric illusions, our ability to remake our world is diminished. All that’s left is fatalistic, pity-me politics, in which young people languish in a state of permanent imperilment.

But the desire to make your mark in the world is not only expressed politically. It is also a case of just getting on with things – experiencing, experimenting and taking risks. In an age in which 40-year-olds out-drink their children, in which young people would rather stay at home than slum it, young people seem incapable of going out into the world – let alone changing it.

Neiman posits these sorts of growing pains as age-old problems, but they are particularly acute today. For her, the rise of Islamist extremism – and the allure it has to disaffected Western youth – is a direct consequence of the crisis of the Enlightenment and adulthood. The West’s lack of moral purpose, its inability to find meaning in modern experience, leads some to submit to the deadest of dogmas. ‘There is nothing grown-up about behaviour that’s dictated by religious authority. But what alternatives do we offer?’, she asks.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyTeens / YouthYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomy* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted March 9, 2015 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Live at your full potential. Become a better you. Be happier. It’s your time. Live an extraordinary life. Achieve your dreams. Go beyond your barriers. You can, you will.

This is the therapeutic message of Joel Osteen, lifted right from his dust jackets. In contrast with the more classical and philosophically grounded evangelicalism of a Billy Graham or a C.S. Lewis, Ross Douthat termed Osteen’s brand of TV preaching “the gospel of self-help.” But notice it’s not the self-help of the Gospel; self-help is the gospel. The Gospel is the cask to deliver it, shucked and cast out as soon as the intoxicating wine of self-improvement is imbibed.

Contrast this with Pope Francis who, quoting St. Basil of Caesarea of the fourth century, recently referred to money as the “devil’s dung.” We can follow this line of thinking right back to the New Testament. St. Paul used an even stronger word: skubula. Some translations of the Bible use “filth” or “refuse” in its place in the third chapter of the letter to the Philippians. But that’s not what he said. The nearest English equivalent of the vulgar Greek word is…well, you can Google it. Paul, I suspect, wanted to make an unambiguous point: all of his worldly respect, progress, and prosperity – in short, all of his “self-help” – was all skubala compared to the Cross and Resurrection.

Read it all.

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

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Posted March 8, 2015 at 2:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...there are more than 6.5 million people working part time who would like to have more hours.

Randa Jama pushes airline passengers on wheelchairs to their gates at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. This had been a full-time job when she took it last fall, but then a couple of months later, that changed.

"They told me that you're working only Saturday and Sunday from now," she says.

That cut her hours to 12 a week. Sometimes, her supervisors ask her at the last minute to stay late or do an extra shift. Since she cut back on babysitters, she can't accommodate.

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

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Posted March 7, 2015 at 8:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It's a troubling trend and it's not clear what's driving it, the team at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

"The data don't allow us to determine why," said the CDC's Thomas Simon, a suicide expert who helped lead the study. "Is it social media? Is it conventional media? Is it access to other methods?"

What CDC is very worried about is giving troubled a teens a "how-to" guide for how to commit suicide, but the agency also wants parents, teachers, friends and others to be aware of the risks. When media report on certain suicide methods, often officials see a rise in suicides afterwards, using the method described.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologySuicideTeens / Youth* Theology

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Posted March 5, 2015 at 5:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

These days Persson pays less attention to the heckling on Twitter and more to the insults hurled his way by close friends on a WhatsApp group they’ve crudely titled Farts. The unleashed Persson has regressed toward adolescence. At the temporary office for Rubberbrain, jokes about male genitalia and laughter bounce off the ceiling and elicit annoyed floor banging from the upstairs neighbor.

Persson ignores the foot-thumped berating much like he’s done with the armchair trolls. He says he’s taken fondly to the mute button on Twitter, which allows him to tune out unkind people without notifying them that they’ve been blocked. Occasionally, though, his curiosity will get the best of him, and he’ll reply. Lately he’s been responding to his haters with a moving image from the movie Zombieland of Woody Harrelson wiping tears away with a wad of money. “I’m aware that tweeting the image is a little douchey,” he shrugs. He’s equally gauche with people he likes, broadcasting his vacations via chartered jet on Snapchat. As for girls, “I tried to use Tinder, it didn’t work. In Sweden it’s horrible; there’s only like four people.” Hence the $180,000 nightclub bills.

“I’m a little bit making up for lost time when I was just programming through my twenties,” he says. “Partying is not a sane way to spend money, but it’s fun. When we were young we did not have a lot of money at all, so I thought, if I ever get rich I’m not going to become one of those boring rich people that doesn’t spend money.”

Right now he’s spending on the permanent office for his new company–a teenage boy’s fantasy that will include a full-service bar, a DJ booth (he’s learning how to spin) and secret rooms hidden by bookshelves–despite the fact that Rubberbrain is nothing more than a name waiting for an idea.

Little inspiration seems imminent.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With all the changes in healthcare over the past few years, many system and hospital leaders now acknowledge the importance of employee engagement. Employees are the one constant in the healthcare equation, and their ability to persevere during times of change can determine whether a healthcare system maintains its quality of care and patient service.

Yet, for some reason, the concept of physician engagement isn't getting the attention it deserves. Perhaps healthcare leaders assume that physicians are self-motivated and their interest in their patients or research trumps the need to engage them.

But physician engagement is vital to a hospital's or system's success. I

Read it all.

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

3 Comments
Posted March 4, 2015 at 8:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

World War II veteran Erling Kindem found a best bud in his 4-year-old next-door neighbor, Emmett Rychner. But after the unlikely pair enjoyed countless hours of lawn mower races, croquet matches and gardening, Emmett's parents made the difficult decision last year to move from their suburban home south of Minneapolis to a new house in the country.

The distance became even harder to bear as Kindem planned to move with his ailing wife to a retirement community about 30 miles away. "It was good while it lasted," Kindem told NBC affiliate KARE last September. His voice cracked as he reasoned that he would someday see his friend again: "It isn't over."

On Sunday, they were reunited.

Read it all and watch the whole video report.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenPsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted March 4, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One way to think about the role of Christian faith for [Jacques] Ellul is that it establishes the one indispensable tension that stubbornly reasserts the limits of technical means, as it is the tension for which no technical means can be devised — the personal encounter with the sacred Other. Here, dialectic cannot be smoothed out, and any meeting between the two, any real presence — in Christ and the Eucharist, in revelation and prayer — remains inscrutable, which is a point less apologetic than descriptive.

It is the premise of a dialectic, both in Ellul’s method and in society, that has arguably been the biggest stumbling block for readers of The Technological Society, at least in America. The Anglo-American tradition of analytical reasoning and empirical research in the social sciences is inhospitable to continental European approaches that, as Scott Buchanan explained in his 1962 conference paper, allow for “many-storeyed imagination and speculation.” The American preference for more “scientific” methods in social research renders Ellul’s social analysis hopelessly inadequate and too philosophical. Technique, in this light, is a uselessly vague concept; in its place, we prefer to investigate particular technologies and their effects. And by studying only technologies, it is unlikely that we will recognize a “technological system” of the sort Ellul describes; consequently, no dialectical opposite is needed to confront it, assuming it would be a problem if it existed. These sentiments go a long way toward explaining some of the obstacles The Technological Society has had in reaching a wide and sustained readership. They also help explain why of Ellul’s fifty-some books substantially more of his theological than his sociological ones have been translated into English.

But while America was not exactly fertile ground for Ellul’s argument, it was, at least in Ellul’s own estimation, the soil most thirsty for it as readers recognized their society’s over-commitment to technique.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyScience & Technology* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 3, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

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

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Posted March 2, 2015 at 6:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S. is a country of gaps. The wage gap. The wealth gap. And now, the sleep gap. 


The dividing line: Pain. Having chronic or fleeting pain in the prior week caused 57 percent of Americans a significant loss of sleep, according to the 2015 Sleep in America poll, released Monday by the National Sleep Foundation.

People with chronic pain said they got 42 minutes of sleep less than they needed every night. It’s a vicious cycle: Pain makes it hard to sleep, less sleep exacerbates pain.

Missing 42 minutes of sleep wouldn’t be a big deal if sleep weren’t so connected with overall well-being. People who rated their health and quality of life very good or excellent in the survey slept an average of 15 to 30 minutes longer than those who said it was good, fair or poor.

Read it all.

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

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Posted March 2, 2015 at 11:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the list of things we’re not supposed to do anymore gets longer all the time. I recently encountered an article headlined:

IS YOUR HANDSHAKE AS DANGEROUS AS SMOKING?

The answer, in case you are a complete idiot, is: Of course your handshake is as dangerous as smoking. The article explains that handshakes transmit germs, which cause diseases such as MERS. MERS stands for “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome,” a fatal disease that may have originated in camels. This is yet another argument, as if we needed one, against shaking hands with camels. But the article suggests that we should consider not shaking hands with anybody.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychology* General InterestHumor / Trivia* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted March 1, 2015 at 2:54 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

First stop: Pendleton, S.C.

Read it all.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

“No problem,” he said.

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all (requires subscription).


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPoetry & LiteraturePsychology* TheologyAnthropology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMovies & TelevisionPsychology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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


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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Watch it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all from the Telegraph.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all from First Things.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I have a confession.

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read (or better listen to) it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon




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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all and note the whole report is there.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.



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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read or watch and listen to it all.

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

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




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