Posted by Kendall Harmon

I wrote about this fear on my blog, and while the response was mostly positive, some liberals called me paranoid, or expressed doubt about why any teacher would nix the particular texts I listed. I guarantee you that these people do not work in higher education, or if they do they are at least two decades removed from the job search. The academic job market is brutal. Teachers who are not tenured or tenure-track faculty members have no right to due process before being dismissed, and there's a mile-long line of applicants eager to take their place. And as writer and academic Freddie DeBoer writes, they don't even have to be formally fired — they can just not get rehired. In this type of environment, boat-rocking isn't just dangerous, it's suicidal, and so teachers limit their lessons to things they know won't upset anybody.

This shift in student-teacher dynamic placed many of the traditional goals of higher education — such as having students challenge their beliefs — off limits. While I used to pride myself on getting students to question themselves and engage with difficult concepts and texts, I now hesitate. What if this hurts my evaluations and I don't get tenure? How many complaints will it take before chairs and administrators begin to worry that I'm not giving our customers — er, students, pardon me — the positive experience they're paying for? Ten? Half a dozen? Two or three?

This phenomenon has been widely discussed as of late, mostly as a means of deriding political, economic, or cultural forces writers don't much care for. Commentators on the left and right have recently criticized the sensitivity and paranoia of today's college students. They worry about the stifling of free speech, the implementation of unenforceable conduct codes, and a general hostility against opinions and viewpoints that could cause students so much as a hint of discomfort.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 25, 2015 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenPsychologyWomen* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 22, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Polygamy may well make for a coalition of strange bedfellows drawn from across the religious and non-religious spectrum in the United States. If the so-called “mainline” churches repeat their same-sex marriage trajectory, they could well provide polygamy some hefty cultural and political ballast (though the impact of that support may not be quite as big as it was for same-sex marriage in light of the continued demographic decline of these denominations).

These Christians would, of course, also need to square their religious heritage around polygamy with the kinds of feminist critiques that informed the overhaul of monogamy during the past 50 or so years. The Reformation proponents of polygamy, after all, only had polygyny in mind, and a very male-dominated version at that. Protestants today would almost certainly need to consider polyandry and, to use a clunky term, polygynandry.

I agree with Douthat and Silk that Americans are going to need to think seriously about polygamy. Douthat is probably right in arguing that many of the arguments liberals put forth on behalf of same-sex marriage will be deployed on behalf of polygamy, but Silk is probably also correct that religious freedom claims will play a role as well. In any case, rather than let fear guide the conversation, perhaps we should embrace an honest, thorough, and thoughtful debate that will likely generate a new set of pro- and con- alliances from a diverse range of people and groups in the United States. It wouldn’t be a reformation of marriage without one.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPhilosophyPsychologySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranMethodistPresbyterianUnited Church of Christ

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Posted July 20, 2015 at 2:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...were you to tell a clerk you were interested in reading some morally serious contemporary writing, you might be introduced to the books of New York Times bestselling author David Shields.

Sophisticated, ambitious, and widely praised as an exemplar of our age’s ethical-literary sensibility, Shields offers a polemically narcissistic, aggressively atheistic vision of how and why literature should ­matter to us, premised upon the willfully inward, selfish turn that follows from rejecting God and religion. If ­Augustine counseled us to read literature as a means of increasing our love of our neighbors and ultimately our love of God, Shields counsels us to read literature to increase our love of ourselves, because there’s no one else that matters.

As he declares in his most influential work, Reality Hunger: A Manifesto, “So: no more masters, no more masterpieces. What I want (instead of God the novelist) is self-portrait in a convex mirror.”

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 20, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Among other recent fake stories was this shocker, allegedly from NBC News: “Christian Pastor in Vermont Sentenced to One Year in Prison After Refusing to Marry Gay Couple.”

Only the story wasn’t from NBC. It was from NBC.com.co—a fake website, filled with ads, and hosted on an overseas website.

“We are all too gullible,” warned my friend, Ed Stetzer, this week.

Hoax stories like these are likely to become more common as hoaxers become more sophisticated, warned Dan Gillmor, a journalism professor at Arizona State who specializes in digital media.

Read it all from Bob Smietana at CT.

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

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Posted July 19, 2015 at 11:42 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Major Problem I See with American Culture Today

We (America) claim to be a pluralistic society; we celebrate “otherness.” Of course there are individuals and subcultures that strongly oppose pluralism and want to impose their worldview, form of life, on everyone. In fact, that is exactly the problem I see and here decry.

We pretend to be pluralistic when, in fact, we are not. Sure, in the grassroots, pluralism abounds. In public spaces, however, the two values that are expected of everyone are consumerism and tolerance of every point of view and lifestyle—even to the point that people who wish no harm to anyone but who have strongly held personal opinions about right and wrong are looked at as intolerant, as enemies of “freedom.”

We have by-and-large confused tolerance with relativism. If a person or group holds and expresses strong beliefs about right and wrong, especially about behaviors that are assumed not to hurt anyone, he or they are widely criticized as intolerant.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 18, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The narratives that help illustrate the lack of professional ethics at American universities occur with greater and greater frequency, though most often we fail to note them as such.

If we put our minds to it, we can remember quite a number of unethical stories at American universities in recent years: the sex abuse case that prompted the firing of the president and football coach at Penn State; the pepper-spraying of students at the University of California at Davis; the tragic hazing death of marching band member Robert Champion at Florida A and M University.

These are stories that happened at universities, and their settings, I believe, are not incidental to the narratives. As an author of University Ethics: How Colleges Can Build and Benefit from a Culture of Ethics, I believe our universities are breeding these scandals and ethical compromise. But rarely, even when the press exposes something shameful about a university, do we identify the issue as a lack of ethics.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 17, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Now that the Supreme Court has taken the decision about same-sex marriage out of the hands of the American people, those of us who believe in marriage have to think about the long-term effort to restore a true understanding of marriage in our nation.

The first step is to clarify what marriage is so that we can explain it to others in a coherent way. Although there is no one way to do this, there are fundamental elements that are a necessary part of any definition.

In this essay, I merely provide one definition of marriage. My goal here is not to “prove” that this is marriage (though I offer some thoughts on each condition), nor is it to engage in a refined academic analysis of the question. I simply want to offer a relatively succinct statement of what marriage is, so that ordinary people who want to defend marriage have a clear baseline from which to understand and respond to developments in our society.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 17, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Matt (again, not his real name) was referred for pain control. He was clear-minded and determined to travel to Switzerland for assisted suicide. He'd been given three months to live, he said, and he wanted to get it over with. When I tentatively asked: "Is there anything you've always wanted to do before you die?" he wistfully outlined his dream holiday. He then let me help plan his travel on this holiday, and enjoyed it in a way he never thought possible. He never went to Switzerland, but had some surprisingly wonderful times before dying peacefully at home of his cancer.

Matt certainly had what Lord Falconer's Assisted Dying Bill calls a "settled intent" to die. It would have been all too easy for a willing doctor to sign off his assisted suicide. But only a small minority of doctors (just under a fifth, according to a recent poll) say they would be willing to process such requests. Most want to work to help patients live well and die well despite illness, not to be a gatekeeper for assisted suicide.

Laws are more than just regulatory instruments. They send social messages. As a society we are clear that suicide is not something to be encouraged or assisted. Legalising assisted suicide flies in the face of that. It sends the message that, if you are terminally ill, ending your life is something that society endorses and that you might want to consider. Is that really the kind of society we want?

Read it all from the Huffington Post.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 16, 2015 at 5:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Reading people’s comments online is an interesting and sometimes troubling study in human nature. And reading comments by professing Christians on Christian sites (as well as other sites) can be a discouraging study in applied theology.

The immediate, shoot-from-the-hip nature of comments on websites and social media is what can often make them minimally helpful or even destructive. Comments can easily be careless. That’s why we must heed Jesus’s warning: “on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” (Matthew 12:36). This caution makes commenting serious business to God.

How [then] Should We Comment...?

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 16, 2015 at 3:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Beyond July’s historic Vanity Fair cover spotlighting Olympic decathlete-turned-reality-television star Caitlyn Jenner, the past year has seen unprecedented representation for the transgender community. From actress Laverne Cox and her Orange Is the New Black co-star, gender-fluid model Ruby Rose, to Kristin Beck, a trans woman and former Navy Seal now running for Congress, to President Barack Obama condemning the persecution of transgender people in his State of the Union address – it’s been a banner year for trans visibility.

But for trans youth, a generation growing up in an era of unrivalled cultural recognition and political appeals, how does it all shake down? We wanted to hear firsthand from transgender teenagers from coast to coast about the issues they live with every day. Struggling with profound body image issues as they strategize their medical transitioning, battling bureaucracy to secure proper legal identification documents or fearing simply going to the washroom – it all makes teen angst look like child’s play.

All this on top of the most difficult challenge: gaining acceptance, understanding and support from family and friends....

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPsychologySexualityTeens / Youth* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted July 16, 2015 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The first breakthrough into the mainstream media came around 4pm at the Washington Post, which did a relatively good job of providing in-depth perspective on the issue. (The Weekly Standard points out some weaknesses in the article though.) The Post (and many other outlets) interviewed Arthur Caplan, director of New York University’s Division of Medical Ethics: “If you’re starting to play with how it’s done, and when it’s done, other things than women’s health are coming into play. You’re making a huge mountain of conflict of interest.”

Most liberal websites defended Planned Parenthood and attack the undercover video. The debate is nothing new, says Vox, though they do pay some attention to objections. Mother Jones says the video is a “nothingburger,” and New York Magazine stridently refers to pro-lifers as “wacky relatives” whom you have to “deal with.” Ashley Feinberg, for Gawker, writes “In reality, the donation of fetal tissue is no different than any other situation in which a patient might donate tissue to scientific research.” Right.

Amanda Marcotte, for Slate, writes “Abortion is gross, no doubt about it. It becomes grosser the later in a pregnancy it gets. But so is heart surgery. So is childbirth, for that matter.” But the problem is not that it’s “gross,” it’s the double evil of killing innocent life and commodifying her body parts. As an article at The Federalist reveals, the human fetal parts trade has a commercial and profitable nature. Incidentally, the group StemExpress—which was implicated in the story—is undergoing website maintenance and has deleted their Facebook account.

The sad thing is, the body of a child in the womb can be killed and used for research, but outside the womb, it would result in first-degree murder charges, as seen in the case of Dr. Kermit Gosnell.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyMediaPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 16, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Revd Dr Andrew Atherstone, Welby’s biographer, says Church growth is the ‘golden thread’ that ties all the reforms together. Welby, he says, wants people to see that decline is ‘not inevitable’. In Africa and China churches are booming. ‘Globally, church growth is normal,’ he says. Welby, he suggests, is ‘very optimistic about turning the Church of England around’.

Yet Atherstone admits that Welby’s tendency to focus on numbers ‘makes some in the C of E nervous’. One Church observer says the reason clergy are panicky about the reforms is that they seem ‘very bottom line — if you can’t get more punters in then you’ve failed’.

Atherstone suggests Welby wants the Church to be more entrepreneurial. The change to dioceses’ funding is intended to encourage that. Instead of the old model of one vicar looking after his medieval parish, the idea is to fund projects that no one has yet tried. Welby, says Atherstone, thinks the Church is too ‘safety-conscious’, smothering start-ups in paperwork.

Critics, on the other hand, say the reforms are merely depressing the workforce. Talented young clergy are ‘in despair’, they say — head office doesn’t seem to grasp what their ministry is really about.

Read it all from the Spectator.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church GrowthMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 16, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hawaii Gov. David Ige has signed a bill that will allow transgender men and women to more easily change the gender on their birth certificate.

The new law eliminates the requirement that someone must undergo gender reassignment surgery before officially making the switch. Ige signed the bill Monday.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologySexuality* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 14, 2015 at 9:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

My own cherished topic is this: Liberalism's decline from a political philosophy of pluralism into a rigidly intolerant dogma.

The decline is especially pronounced on a range of issues wrapped up with religion and sex. For a time, electoral self-interest kept these intolerant tendencies in check, since the strongly liberal position on social issues was clearly a minority view. But the cultural shift during the Obama years that has led a majority of Americans to support gay marriage seems to have opened the floodgates to an ugly triumphalism on the left.

The result is a dogmatic form of liberalism that threatens to poison American civic life for the foreseeable future. Conservative Reihan Salam describes it, only somewhat hyperbolically, as a form of "weaponized secularism."

The rise of dogmatic liberalism is the American left-wing expression of the broader trend that Mark Lilla identified in a recent blockbuster essay for The New Republic. The reigning dogma of our time, according to Lilla, is libertarianism....

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 14, 2015 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a more ethereal sense, singing is an influence for a lifetime. Sometimes it has been derided as not cool but the real truth is that it is something beyond and altogether different; a gift from nowhere.

Well rehearsed, like all the best things in life, it becomes time to appreciate something deep and far more than oneself. It is an ultimate in sustained concentration, a skill too often denied at times by multitasking emptiness, in a rushed existence of stressed over-communication.

The last generation has witnessed the switch to an existence where pace of life is often overwhelming.

Music, whatever genre, is timeless in what it means. Recent reflections on British values are seldom encapsulated in the great Anglican tradition of making time in the present.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineHistoryMusicPsychology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 14, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Amit Singhal, Google’s search chief, oversees the 200 or so factors that determine where websites rank in the company’s search engine, which means he decides if your website lives or dies. His current challenge: figuring out how to spread that same fear and influence to mobile phones.

In a recent interview at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., Mr. Singhal laid out a widely held thesis for why smartphones are fundamentally changing how people are consuming information: Phones have small screens that are annoying to type on, and people have grown so addicted to their phones that they carry them everywhere and go to bed with them by their side. Also, in a shift with big implications for his company’s sway over the Internet, smartphone users spend the bulk of their time in mobile apps instead of the open web on which Google built its business.

Add it all up, and “you have to rethink what search means pretty much from first principles,” he said.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 13, 2015 at 12:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...Uber is not so much a labor-market innovation as the culmination of a generation-long trend. Even before the founding of the company in 2009, the United States economy was rapidly becoming an Uber economy writ large, with tens of millions of Americans involved in some form of freelancing, contracting, temping or outsourcing.

The decades-long shift to these more flexible workplace arrangements, the venture capitalist Nick Hanauer and the labor leader David Rolf argue in the latest issue of Democracy Journal, is a “transformation that promises new efficiencies and greater flexibility for ‘employers’ and ‘employees’ alike, but which threatens to undermine the very foundation upon which middle-class America was built.”

Along with other changes, like declining unionization and advancing globalization, the increasingly arm’s-length nature of employment helps explain why incomes have stagnated and why most Americans remain deeply anxious about their economic prospects six years after the Great Recession ended.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationHistoryPsychologyScience & TechnologyTravel* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What, then, is the relationship between empathy and morality? Traditionally, empathy has been seen as a force for moral good, motivating virtuous deeds. Yet a growing chorus of critics, inspired by findings like those above, depict empathy as a source of moral failure. In the words of the psychologist Paul Bloom, empathy is a “parochial, narrow-minded” emotion — one that “will have to yield to reason if humanity is to survive.”

We disagree.

While we concede that the exercise of empathy is, in practice, often far too limited in scope, we dispute the idea that this shortcoming is inherent, a permanent flaw in the emotion itself. Inspired by a competing body of recent research, we believe that empathy is a choice that we make whether to extend ourselves to others. The “limits” to our empathy are merely apparent, and can change, sometimes drastically, depending on what we want to feel.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 12, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As some U.S. states have legalized marijuana for recreational and medicinal use, 30% of Americans say legalization will make driving in those states a lot less safe. Another 17% expect it to make driving a little less safe. Half of Americans, however, say it will not make much of a difference.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologySociologyTravel* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted July 11, 2015 at 12:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Every Sunday my regular front row at church is filled with little girls (and Sawyer). I’m not really sure why these sweet little gals like sitting on the front row during worship, but I’m glad they do. They all bring their little notebooks and pens, and they draw during the sermon.

No one is playing on iPads or cell phones. No one is sleeping. No one is eating or drinking. There isn’t a single entertaining thing happening (except for my husband’s brilliant and lively sermons), but still they come to me week after week and sit there.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Bishop William White of Philadelphia became a bishop in 1787, he was No. 2 in the Episcopal Church's chain of apostolic succession.

When Bishop V. Gene Robinson was consecrated in 2003 -- the first openly gay, noncelibate Episcopal bishop -- he was No. 993. This fact was more than a trivia-game answer during a recent sermon that represented a triumphant moment both for Robinson and his church's liberal establishment.

Standing on White's grave before the altar of historic Christ Church, the former New Hampshire bishop quipped that he did "feel a little rumble" when he referenced the recent Episcopal votes to approve same-sex marriage rites. But Robinson was convinced White was not rolling over in his grave.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychologySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

6 Comments
Posted July 10, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Shortly after graduating from college in Pennsylvania last year, Elaine Rita Mendus hopped on a Greyhound bus, hoping the $2,000 in her bank account would keep her afloat until the first paycheck. There was only one city in the country that seemed moderately promising for a 6-foot-3 transgender woman in the early stages of transitioning to launch a career.

“I figured, where else will I be accepted?” Ms. Mendus, 24, said. “New York.”

It was a rude awakening. The luckiest break she caught after a monthslong quest to find steady work was a coveted slot at one of the city’s few homeless shelters that give refuge to gay and transgender youths for a few months. It was a blessing, she said, but also “a really strange pill to swallow.”

Americans’ understanding of transgender people has been shaped recently by the riveting, glamorous lives of the former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner and the actress Laverne Cox. The two, though, are far from representative of an economically disadvantaged community that continues to face pervasive employment discrimination, partly as a result of lagging legal protections.

Roughly 15 percent of transgender Americans earn less than $10,000 a year, a rate of extreme poverty that is almost four times higher than the national average, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. They are twice as likely to be unemployed as the general population, though transgender Americans have a higher level of education than the general population. About 16 percent of respondents to a 2011 survey said they resorted to illegal trades like prostitution and drug dealing. Ninety percent said they faced harassment, mistreatment or discrimination on the job. The worst off are black and Hispanic transgender women, particularly those who don’t have the means to alter their physical appearance as much as they would like. For many, coming out means being drawn into a cycle of debt, despair and dreadful choices.

In 1993, Minnesota became the first state to enact a law protecting employees from discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Since then, 18 other states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and scores of jurisdictions have taken similar steps, which today collectively cover about 51 percent of the population.

In 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission began taking the position that discrimination against transgender employees was a form of sex discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That offers individuals valuable legal recourse, but pursuing claims through the E.E.O.C. is time-consuming and generally futile for those who cannot afford to hire a lawyer.

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPovertyPsychologySexualityUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology


Posted July 9, 2015 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We presume to know more than we can know. In periods and places where religious doubt is criminalized, unquestioning faith is likely to appear universal. Where religious faith is treated as naive and intellectually indefensible, few will confess to it. Where it truly is naive and intellectually indefensible, those who can’t identify with it are often treated as having actually rejected faith, and may believe this of themselves.

So let us call this inability to know the state of our fellow’s soul a veil dropped down between his or her sacred inwardness and the coercive intrusions to which the religious and the anti-religious are equally tempted. If the fate of souls is at the center of the cosmic drama, is it difficult to imagine that it will unfold, so to speak, in a place set apart, a holy of holies—that is, a human consciousness? Where better might an encounter with God take place? If God is attentive to us individually, as Jesus’ saying about the fall of a sparrow certainly implies, then would his history with us be the same in every case, articulable and verifiable, manifest in behaviors that square with expectations? Would it be something we should be ready to talk about to pollsters or journalists?

Perhaps the real lack of faith in modern society comes down to a lack of reverence for humankind, for those around us, about whom we might consider it providential that we can know nothing—in these great matters that sometimes involve feigning or concealment, that are beyond ordinary thought and conventional experience, and that can in any case be minutely incremental, since God really does have all the time in the world. Perhaps it is a gross presumption to try to imagine a God’s eye view of things, but I can only think these encounters, every one unique, must be extraordinarily beautiful. If it is hard for us to believe that the God who searches us and knows us also loves us, perhaps we should learn to be better humanists.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Recognizing they lacked votes in a key Assembly committee, authors of legislation that would have allowed terminally ill Californians to legally end their lives pulled the bill Tuesday morning.

Senate Bill 128, the End of Life Option Act, had already cleared the state Senate, but faced opposition in the Assembly Health Committee. That included a group of southern California Democrats, almost all of whom are Latino, after the archbishop of Los Angeles increased its advocacy efforts in opposition to the bill.

"We continue to work with Assembly members to ensure they are comfortable with the bill," said a joint statement from Sens. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, and Bill Monning, D-Monterey, and Assemblywoman Susan Eggman, D-Stockton. "For dying Californians like Jennifer Glass, who was scheduled to testify today, this issue is urgent. We remain committed to passing the End of Life Option Act for all Californians who want and need the option of medical aid in dying."

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* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 8, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Excessive use of computer games among young people in China appears to be taking an alarming turn and may have particular relevance for American parents whose children spend many hours a day focused on electronic screens. The documentary “Web Junkie,” to be shown next Monday on PBS, highlights the tragic effects on teenagers who become hooked on video games, playing for dozens of hours at a time often without breaks to eat, sleep or even use the bathroom. Many come to view the real world as fake.

Chinese doctors consider this phenomenon a clinical disorder and have established rehabilitation centers where afflicted youngsters are confined for months of sometimes draconian therapy, completely isolated from all media, the effectiveness of which remains to be demonstrated.

While Internet addiction is not yet considered a clinical diagnosis here, there’s no question that American youths are plugged in and tuned out of “live” action for many more hours of the day than experts consider healthy for normal development. And it starts early, often with preverbal toddlers handed their parents’ cellphones and tablets to entertain themselves when they should be observing the world around them and interacting with their caregivers.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 7, 2015 at 4:57 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Putting aside legal arguments about hidden autonomy rights in the Fourteenth Amendment, the Court justifies its decision on the basis of the “new insight” that procreation is accidental to marriage. Its warrant for this claim is that social changes, including recognition of the equal dignity and rights of women, “have worked deep transformations in the structure of marriage, affecting aspects of marriage once viewed as essential” (2, my emphasis). Thus, the Court claims, there is precedent for the view that the procreative potential once thought essential to marriage is in fact no more central to the institution than the race, precedents embodied in the Court’s previous affirmation of liberty rights to contraception and sodomy in Griswold and Lawrence. Rather, the Court now believes that what is essential to marriage is the autonomy right of “self-definition” in one’s intimate relationships and the right to be esteemed for this choice.

If this claim about the essence of marriage was either true or insightful, it would indeed be momentous. Unfortunately, it is neither. The Court’s argument rests on an insidious and profound misunderstanding of what “essential” means—let alone what the essence of marriage is—and a majoritarian understanding of moral progress. While real moral progress often does require us to distinguish what is essential from what is accidental—as when the Court correctly held that race is accidental to the institution of marriage—the Court’s current use of the term invalidates the very distinction it wishes to invoke.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 7, 2015 at 11:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"Part of liberalism is tolerating illiberality," Mr Freiman rightly says. In the absence of credible evidence that plural marriage in America today would be any more inegalitarian or socially harmful than the old-fashioned patriarchal monogamous marriages that millions of Americans already have, it's hard to justify, at least on liberal grounds, our legal prohibition against more than two consenting adults freely entering into a marital arrangement. As I've argued before, many of the unseemly and unhealthy aspects of existing American polygamous "marriages" are a side-effect of our having made them illegal, and a target for disgust and contempt, much as homosexuality was within living memory.

Perhaps there are other, excellent arguments against legalising plural marriage. But for now, not even extremely sophisticated liberals are making them. Messrs Rauch and Macedo's claims about the harms that would ensue from legalising plural marriage have the same speculative character as some conservative arguments against legal gay marriage. This ought to pique some concern.

Fredrik deBoer, writing in Politico, speculates that liberal opponents of plural marriage remain "trapped ... in prior opposition that they voiced from a standpoint of political pragmatism in order to advance the cause of gay marriage". This is probably right. Now that gay marriage is finally legal from sea to shining sea, it's time for liberals to refine their arguments against polygamy. We need better, more rationally compelling arguments if we wish to be fair in shutting against would-be polygamists the libertarian door that we've just blasted open.

Read it all.

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Posted July 7, 2015 at 5:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Instead, Kennedy fashioned the opinion around another part of the 14th Amendment, holding that denial of marriage licenses infringed on the liberty of gay men and women by restricting their right to due process. As Justice Clarence Thomas correctly pointed out, liberty under the Constitution has largely been defined as protection against physical restraints or broader government interference — “not as a right to a particular governmental entitlement.” While Kennedy makes a powerful case for an expansive new view of due process, he extends the concept of liberty far beyond prior decisions.

In reality, he has been building to this moment for years, culminating in what might now be called a right to dignity. In his 1992 Casey decision, he upheld Roe v. Wade on the basis of “personal dignity and autonomy [that] are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.” Kennedy wove this concept of protected dignity through a series of cases, from gay rights to prison lawsuits, including his historic 2003 Lawrence decision striking down the criminalization of homosexuality. These rulings on liberty peaked with Obergefell, which he described as an effort of the petitioners to secure “equal dignity in the eyes of the law.” He used the word “dignity” almost a dozen times in his decision and laid down a jurisprudential haymaker: “The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity.”

Read it all.

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

4 Comments
Posted July 7, 2015 at 4:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Rev. Isaac Holt Jr.

Senior Pastor, Royal Missionary Baptist Church

North Charleston

Forgiveness is done as soon as humanly possible by those who know the toxic consequences of not forgiving.

In forgiveness, the benefit is greater for the forgiver than for the forgiven. Forgiveness begins emotional healing. It releases you from the poisonous thoughts of personal revenge and the prison of hatred.

Read it all from the local paper.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 5, 2015 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Before the bullets and bloodshed in the movie theater, Stefan Moton was a teenager who did push-ups and boxing exercises in his bedroom, his dreams fixed on becoming a mixed martial arts fighter. Now, his goals are humbler: Strengthen the sections of his upper body that he can still move. Maybe get a new tattoo. Feed himself again.

“I just try to push it aside and move on,” he said. “Focus on getting better.”

Mr. Moton, 21, who was shot through the spine and left paralyzed from the chest down, is among scores of survivors who have taken the witness stand in the murder trial of James E. Holmes, the former neuroscience graduate student charged with carrying out the midnight rampage at a multiplex here in July 2012. But testimony is narrowly focused on the scene inside Theater 9 and whether the gunman was legally sane or insane when he opened fire. Many stories of Aurora’s painful legacy, which families say remains as raw and urgent as ever, have gone untold in court.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Doctors in Belgium have granted a medically depressed woman the right to end her own life.

The 24-year-old woman, named only as ‘Laura’, told doctors she had suffered from depression since she was a child and wished to end her life, local newspaper De Morgen reported.

Laura, who entered a psychiatric facility when she was 21, told the publication: “life, that’s not for me.”

"Death feels to me not as a choice. If I had a choice, I would choose a bearable life, but I have done everything and that was unsuccessful," she told the newspaper.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsPsychologyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeBelgium* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 2, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The bishops agreed to allow clergy to begin offering same-sex marriages using the new rites after Nov. 1. However, no clergy could be compelled to perform a same-sex marriage, and a bishop had the authority to forbid his clergy from celebrating gay marriages.

The former bishop of Virginia, Peter Lee, explained to the bishops in Salt Lake City the accommodation meant that a conservative priest in a liberal diocese would incur no penalty if he refused to perform a same-sex marriage. The priest would, however, have to pass a couple seeking to be married on to another church or priest to perform the ceremony.

Priests in dioceses where the bishop forbid same-sex marriages may not solemnize gay marriages. A priest who did so would be liable for punishment for disobeying the bishop. A diocese that does not perform gay marriages must pass the couple on to another part of the church that permits gay marriage.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention TEC BishopsTEC Polity & Canons* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 2, 2015 at 3:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So is polygamy passé? The next slide on our slippery slope to damnation? The next rung on our steep climb towards full civil rights and equality in America?

Whatever your take, there’s no denying that last week’s SCOTUS opinions broke our collective silence on poly rights. If Friday’s ruling was about dignity and equality, as Justice Kennedy made clear, we must continue this debate.

Read it all from Brian Pellot.

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

2 Comments
Posted July 1, 2015 at 3:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The BIS critique goes like this. Low interest rates have sustained the recovery, but the support is fragile. The economy relies too much on debt, which cannot build forever, and artificially high asset prices (stocks, homes, bonds) may someday tumble from unrealistic levels. A new crisis could be severe because governments have already deployed their standard anti-recession tools: cheap credit and big deficits.

The BIS’s most intriguing point is that a new recession or financial crisis might originate with emerging-market countries: China, Brazil, India, Turkey and the like. Although there has been debt repayment in the United States, the opposite has happened in some emerging-market countries, the BIS says. Private firms have assumed dollar loans worth $3 trillion, even though their “debt servicing capacity . . . has deteriorated.” Will defaults follow?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyEuropean Central BankThe U.S. GovernmentFederal Reserve* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The critiques of forgiveness in recent days are strikingly similar to the critiques against nonviolence during the civil rights movement. In both cases, some advocates for social justice misunderstood the allegiances of the black Christians they criticized. Dr. King and the Charleston families believed forgiveness and nonviolence are on the right side of history. They believed they would be served well on this earth by those tenets, but also that their reward is in heaven. And, clearly, they saw no conflict between forgiveness and full-throated, sacrificial advocacy for change. People so often underestimate the Christian conviction that the ends do not justify the means. The ultimate goal is not to achieve justice on this world, though we pursue that with all of our souls, but to be faithful to God. We believe, ultimately, that faithfulness is justice.

I do not think I could forgive Roof. Forgiveness is not a burden I would place on anyone in the situation of those families. We should reject all calls from those who wish to sweep under the rug the culture and systems of racism that infect people like Roof. We should reject all calls to make excuses for the evil Roof actively embraced and acted upon. He was no passive actor. He was more than simply a result of cultural, economic, or social circumstances. He had agency. And his actions were evil.

But we should also reject all calls to strip the agency and dignity from the mourning families as well. I am not mature enough in the faith to so quickly pass the burden of judgment to God. But I am inspired by those family members to grow in that direction. I am a Christian because of the black church and black faith. When I was far from God, it was the unashamedly Christian black culture, movies, and music of people like Lauryn Hill and Fred Hammond that introduced me to Jesus. It is the black church that so consistently embodies the confounding, radical love of Jesus. What other American community today displays less shame, less reservation, less self-awareness about proclaiming the Christian faith? I will not turn the Bride of the living Christ into a cultural artifact.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 29, 2015 at 5:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I do not forgive Dylann Roof, a racist terrorist whose name I hate saying or knowing. I have no immediate connection to what happened in Charleston, S.C., last week beyond my humanity and my blackness, but I do not foresee ever forgiving his crimes, and I am wholly at ease with that choice.

My unwillingness to forgive this man does not give him any kind of power. I am not filled with hate for this man because he is beneath my contempt. I do not believe in the death penalty so I don’t wish to see him dead. My lack of forgiveness serves as a reminder that there are some acts that are so terrible that we should recognize them as such. We should recognize them as beyond forgiving.

I struggle with faith but I was raised Catholic....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 29, 2015 at 4:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almost on cue, there were three different news stories about abortion and Down syndrome around the time of the encyclical’s release. New blood screening, for instance, has resulted in a 34 percent increase in such abortions in Britain. Just a few days later, a Washington Post guest columnist argued such routine and systematic screening — not least because between 67 percent and 92 percent end up aborting — constitutes the formal “elimination of a group of people quite happy being themselves” under “the false pretense of women’s rights.” And then there was the story of the truly despicable company stealing the image of a child with Down syndrome for their Orwellian-sounding test kit named “Tranquility.”

You couldn’t ask for a more revealing practice of the throwaway culture Pope Francis so strongly decries. It doesn’t matter that people with Down syndrome are happier than those who are “normal;” our consumer culture’s tendency is to turn everything into a mere object or tool of the market, and when the object or tool is no longer useful, we simply discard it. These children don’t meet the quality-control standards of the consumer, and so the product simply gets thrown out as so much trash.

But one of the central themes of Pope Francis’s encyclical is that all creation has value independent of its value within a consumer culture. In response to my sharing the three stories mentioned above on social media, an old friend sent me a touching e-mail (parts of which are shared here with permission) about her sister with Down syndrome. She remembers that her family was initially sad and worried — but now, looking back, “it truly made no sense....”

Read it all from Charles Camosy in the Washington Post.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 29, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...in one of the ironies in which the arc of history specializes, while the conservative case for same-sex marriage triumphed in politics, the liberationist case against marriage’s centrality to human flourishing was winning in the wider culture.

You would not know this from Kennedy’s opinion, which is relentlessly upbeat about how “new insights have strengthened, not weakened” marriage, bringing “new dimensions of freedom” to society.

But the central “new dimension of freedom” being claimed by straight America is a freedom from marriage — from the institution as traditionally understood, and from wedlock and family, period.

Read it all (emphasis and article title his).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 27, 2015 at 8:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“As usual, baby names are reflecting a larger cultural shift,” says BabyCenter’s Global Editor in Chief Linda Murray. “Millennials are an open-minded and accepting group, and they don’t want their children to feel pressured to conform to stereotypes that might be restrictive.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropology

1 Comments
Posted June 26, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The work of the church is not merely to accept those of us who are transgender, asexual, bisexual, lesbian, gay, queer, and intersex. The work of the church is to accept and celebrate that the church—the body—is itself queer. The body of Christ is queer because it isn’t defined or bound by human constructs or binaries. It transcends and subverts norms and boundaries. It contains multitudes. But the body is also queer simply because its queer members are a vital component of its identity. When I was dating a cisgender (i.e., identifying with the gender assigned at birth), heterosexual man last fall, we were in a queer relationship. My queer identity made the relationship itself queer, even though he was straight. The body of Christ is queer in this same way because it contains queer identities.

It is time for the church to sit down nervously at its own Table and confront its internalized queerphobia. It is time for the body of Christ to come out. Some of us who have come out ourselves are happy to be the friend that talks the church through it.

Coming out is not easy. It is not just about moving forward in celebration and inclusion. It is about accepting that in some ways you are just now becoming acquainted with who you really are. It means recognizing you have missed opportunities for relationship, happiness, and growth. It means grieving the years lost to fear and the heartbreak of relationships with loved ones who cannot understand. It means holding with grace the wounds you will always carry.

Read it all.

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


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Posted June 26, 2015 at 7:18 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

How is it being used?

Last week, US government agency talks that were intended to create a code of conduct for the technology fell apart. Privacy campaigners walked out of the discussions, claiming that companies and government agencies were unwilling to accept that they must always seek permission before using facial recognition technology to identify someone.

Alvaro Bedoya, from Georgetwon University Law Centre in Washington DC, told New Scientist that “not a single company would support [the principle].”

Uses of the technology are becoming increasingly Orwellian. Tesco plans to install screens that scan customers’ faces, determine their age and gender, and show them a relevant advertisement.

In the United States, a company called Face First offers retailers the ability to "build a database of good customers, recognize them when they come through the door, and make them feel more welcome” (in other words, schmooze the big spenders). The product also sends alerts whenever “known litigious individuals enter any of your locations”. Another company, Churchix, uses facial recognition technology to track congregation church attendance.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Putnam, not first of all a complainer, this time reaches for extremes: “We” and “Our Kids” are not merely confused or apathetic or drifting. We are clearly in crisis. Or the book could get dismissed as one more complaint about social class and the economic debates connected with both, or all, sides of class division in America. Also, it could be ignored by those who tire of nostalgic reckonings about “the good old days;” Some celebrations of them do appear here.

Putnam lovingly invokes the past as he begins with references to his own childhood years and to locales like the town in which he grew up. Winsomely and with clarity he writes about a time when the boundaries between classes were not as defined and drastic as now. But as he looks at the contemporary scene, he finds plenty of reason to describe the class gulf as “in crisis” and the “American dream” not merely fading for millions, but becoming almost irretrievably out of range for their young.

What’s missing, especially for the millions of “Their Kids” in America today? They lack agencies where “social capital”—an old Putnam phrase—is tended to. Voluntary organizations, support groups, clubs, neighborhood places, which encourage bonding and interaction are disappearing from the scene for the millions who cannot advance.

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 23, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

ADHD, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, isn’t just for kids anymore.

Adults in the U.S. have overtaken children in taking medication for the condition and accounted for 53 percent of the industrywide 63 million prescriptions for ADHD drugs last year, according to data compiled by Shire Plc, which makes the top-selling Vyvanse treatment. That compared with 39 percent in 2007, the Dublin-based drugmaker said.

Read it all

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

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Posted June 22, 2015 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This caption came across my Instagram notifications a few weeks back.

I was curious to see the photo this student had taken to commemorate his experience. I never would have expected a picture of a young man standing in front of a mirror in his bathroom with a bewildered smirk on his face.

Yet there he was, a duck-faced teenager staring at his bathroom mirror, smart phone in hand. What this had to do with how much he loved worshiping Jesus was a mystery to me.

This is the world in which we live, the world of the selfie.

Read it all

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 22, 2015 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Internet is in danger of turning us all into addicts. Time spent online continues to rise among every segment of the world's population, and becomes more natural to each emerging generation. We're hyper-connected, playing our games, sharing our baby photos and watching TV together in collaborative ways that were unimaginable 30 years ago. Thanks to smartphones we check our social media accounts regularly – and in some cases constantly. Their use has become habitual, rewarding, and incredibly hard to give up (even for Lent).

Calling this 'Internet addiction' however is slightly misleading. It's not online media that's the problem, so much as the way that we engage with it. As we do, we're actually getting addicted to something else.

Dopamine is your brain's in-built reward system. It's a neurotransmitter released when you achieve something; when you complete a work task, submit an essay or complete a run. When it enters the right part of your brain, it makes you feel good; successful; purposeful. It can also be stimulated artificially, for instance through the consumption of nicotine or cocaine....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingHealth & MedicinePsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted June 22, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hundreds of veterans gathered at Fort Stewart, Georgia, to be honored at a homecoming ceremony that eluded them for decades.

Watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 21, 2015 at 2:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What is in Fed officials’ control is what they do today and tomorrow and in their policy meeting Sept. 16 and 17. So by deciding to raise rates then (or deciding not to), they are sending a more powerful signal than any speech or written statement that they believe it is time to start winding down the era of easy money.

The thing is, Ms. Yellen and her colleagues know this, and that comments like those she made Wednesday won’t do much to change it. The best they can do is try to manage expectations so that people don’t assume that a quarter-percentage point rise in the Fed’s interest rate target in September automatically translates to much higher rates in a year or two.

In other words, Ms. Yellen may be an economist, but she is well aware that her tools for managing the economy work via financial markets. So how bond traders interpret the Fed’s words and actions matter a great deal.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsThe U.S. GovernmentFederal Reserve* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 17, 2015 at 5:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Here, roughly, is what we know so far about today’s middle-class children: They seldom walk or bike to school, as generations did before them; they rarely work steady after-school jobs (their new work is strictly of the academic and extracurricular variety, one that doesn’t involve a wage); their time is rigidly structured (play dates, cello lessons, summer internships); their mothers spend more time with them than mothers did with their children in the 1960s, even though most women in the 1960s didn’t work.

When confronted with these facts, it is therefore reasonable to ask: What effect does all this involvement and insulation and scrupulous (some might call it psychoneurotic) programming have on our kids? Is it compromising their resilience in some way, or the firmness of their convictions, or their self-efficacy? Are the very things we view as horizon-stretching in fact resulting in a more circumscribed life?

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychologyScience & TechnologyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 17, 2015 at 3:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For an hour or two on a foggy morning last December, some students at the University of Iowa (UI) mistook one of their professors, Serhat Tanyolacar, for a fan of the Ku Klux Klan. Mr Tanyolacar had placed a canvas effigy based on Klan robes, screen-printed with news cuttings about racial violence, on the Pentacrest, the university’s historic heart. The effigy had a camera in its hood to record public reactions.

The reaction among some black students was to fear for their safety, and that is not surprising. What is more of a puzzle—for anyone outside American academia, at least—is that students and UI bosses continued denouncing Mr Tanyolacar for threatening campus safety even after the misunderstanding was cleared up. In vain did the Turkish-born academic explain that he is a “social-political artist”, using Klan imagery to provoke debate about racism. Under pressure from angry students, university chiefs issued two separate apologies. The first expressed regret that students had been exposed to a “deeply offensive” artwork, adding that there is no room for “divisive” speech at UI. The second apologised for taking too long to remove a display which had “terrorised” black students and locals, thereby failing to ensure that all students, faculty, staff and visitors felt “respected and safe”. An unhappy Mr Tanyolacar feels abandoned by the university. He left Iowa earlier this month, when his visiting fellowship came to an end, and has suspended his teaching career.

A crucial word in this tale is “safe”. Campus activists have stretched the meaning of safety from an important but second-order concern—shielding students from serious harm—to a defining ambition for any well-run academy.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted June 17, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Scottish Episcopal Church has taken a major step towards letting same-sex couples marry in church. However the process of change will take at least two years. If and when final approval is given, priests will be allowed – but not required – to celebrate weddings between same-sex partners.

The General Synod voted to ask the Faith and Order Board to look at revising the church’s rules on marriage. An overwhelming majority backed the resolution.

“That would also allow our clergy to enter into same-sex marriages,” said David Chillingworth, the Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, and Primus (chief bishop) of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 15, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The decision by Apple, Walmart, Eli Lilly, Angie’s List, and so on was a business decision—even more, a marketing decision. Coming out in opposition to the Indiana RFRA law was one of the shrewdest marketing coups since E.T. followed a trail of Reese’s Pieces. The decision to #BoycottIndiana was not made because it was the politically courageous thing to do; it was made because it was the profitable thing to do. The establishment could express support for a fashionable social norm while exerting very little effort, incurring no actual cost, and making no sacrifice to secure the goal. It had the further advantage of distracting most people from the fact that corporations like Apple have no compunction doing business in places with outright oppression of gays, women, and Christians. Those real forms of repression and discrimination didn’t matter; Indiana’s purported oppression of gays did.

The public statements, often hyperbolic propaganda about the dire consequences of the Indiana law, were cost-free because gay rights activists have successfully argued that opposition to gay marriage is tantamount to racism. Through a powerful and concerted effort, gay activists have succeeded in convincing the establishment that gays are the equivalent of blacks in Selma, and that their opponents—particularly their Christian opponents—are Bull Connors. There can simply be no brooking bigotry! Democrats like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton conveniently forget their previous support for conjugal marriage, and none of their supporters seek to hold them to account. All that matters is that one now deny that there can be reasonable opposition to gay marriage, and affirm that those who maintain that view are rank bigots. Companies like Apple and Walmart eagerly joined the bandwagon once it was clear that the tactic had worked.

There is a deeper reason for corporate support, however. ­Today’s corporate ideology has a strong affinity with the lifestyles of those who are defined by mobility, ethical flexibility, liberalism (whether economic or social), a consumerist mentality in which choice is paramount, and a “progressive” outlook in which rapid change and “creative destruction” are the only certainties. The response to Indiana’s RFRA law shows very clearly that corporations have joined forces with Republicans on economic matters and Democrats on social ones. Corporate America is aligned with the ascendant ­libertarian portion of each party, ensuring a win for the political, economic, and ­social preferences of libertarianism. In effect, there is only one functional party in America today, seemingly parceled between the two notional parties but in reality unifying them in its backing by financial and cultural elites.

Read it all.

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Posted June 14, 2015 at 4:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The saddest part of Campolo’s change of mind, however, is that it will not be enough, as early responses from the gay community already indicate. Even a moment’s reflection on the Bruce Jenner affair or a casual conversation with a teenager would reveal to him that the gay issue is, as far as the secular world is considered, done and dusted. All Campolo has done as an evangelical is modify his sexual ethics to conform to the comfortable, safe, middle-class tastes of modern America. He will shock no-one but evangelicals—and, I might add, only evangelicals unfamiliar with his other work.

As the ever lengthening DNA chain of the LGBTQQIAAP lobby indicates, Campolo is just the latest example of a perennial evangelical tendency on matters of culture: He is a day late and a dollar short. And the people whose community he now chooses to serve will not be satisfied with that. One wonders if even he will be satisfied with it in the long run.

Read it all.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

They worked fror 5 years on this movie--3 years on the the storytelling alone. Watch it all.

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

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Posted June 13, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The film's title alludes to the opening track of Wilson's 1988 debut solo album. The film delivers both in spades. Mercy is certainly shown to Wilson in the film, which skips the darkest period of his life, a fifteen-year-stretch between 1968 and the transformation that came after Melinda Ledbetter (his wife-to-be) met him. During those lost years, he was in and out of psychiatric hospitals, battling auditory hallucinations, spending much of his time in bed, using drugs, and grossly overeating (his weight soared to more than 300 pounds).

Melinda (played by Elizabeth Banks) is really the central character in the '80s narrative, and her perseverance and genuine concern for Brian's well-being ultimately get him out of his abusive relationship with Dr. Landy. Love & Mercy celebrates the gift of Wilson's music by focusing on his most fertile creative period and the light shining through after almost two decades of darkness. What makes the Wilson story so wonderful is its genuinely redemptive arc. With Melinda he has enjoyed a newfound stability (they've been happily married for 20 years) and a return to the music spotlight with 2004's Grammy-winning Brian Wilson Presents Smile and later with the long-awaited release of the masters for Smile in 2011.

While love and mercy may have both landed in the title, justice is also central to the film. In the scene that generates the largest applause, Dr. [Eugene] Landy is served papers for the lawsuit that ultimately cost him his license to practice psychiatry. That may suggest why Love & Mercy is so compelling. It avoids the formulaic quality of so many recent biopics, but it's not ashamed to tug at our heartstrings. And above all, it captures the joy of creation.

Read it all.

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Posted June 11, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...we were surprised when former CT editor David Neff on Facebook praised Campolo’s move. As he put it in an email to me clarifying his comment, “I think the ethically responsible thing for gay and lesbian Christians to do is to form lasting, covenanted partnerships. I also believe that the church should help them in those partnerships in the same way the church should fortify traditional marriages.”

At CT, we’re saddened that David has come to this conclusion. Saddened because we firmly believe that the Bible teaches that God intends the most intimate of covenant relationships to be enjoyed exclusively by a man and a woman. We’ve stated this view explicitly in many editorials, and it is implicit but clear in many of our feature stories.

Still, many of our readers become alarmed when a prominent evangelical leader says otherwise. Add the changes of mind to the legal juggernaut sweeping through the land to legitimize gay marriage, and the orthodox can become demoralized. They fear that history will sweep all of us into this view eventually.

But it’s not at all certain that the rapid cultural shift in America on gay marriage will be mirrored in the Christian church. North American and European Christians who believe in gay marriage are a small minority in these regions, and churches that ascribe to a more liberal sexual ethic continue to wither.

Read it all.

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Posted June 10, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Few commentators on either side of the ongoing marriage debate would deny that individuals possess a fundamental right to marry. To do so seems ridiculous today. Marital relationships are, as the Supreme Court first affirmed in Meyer v. Nebraska (1923)—albeit in obiter dictum, an aside unnecessary to the decision of the case—an important part of the happiness that individuals have a natural right to pursue.

It may be a surprise to modern Americans to realize that the Meyer case represents the first notable appearance of the “right to marry” language in the American political tradition or its antecedents in liberal political philosophy. It played almost no role in the Civil Rights Movement beyond its invocation by Chief Justice Earl Warren in the 1967 case of Loving v. Virginia (neither King nor Malcolm X made mention of such a right to my knowledge), it was entirely absent from the anti-slavery movement (Lincoln’s Republican Party was formed, in fact, with the twin policy goals of ending slavery and outlawing polygamy), and it was similarly absent from the revolutionary conflict with Great Britain.

The idea of a fundamental right to marry—not just someone of the same sex, but anyone at all—is a relatively new one. Among those who didn’t think anyone—not just homosexuals, but heterosexuals as well—possessed such a right are John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Abraham Lincoln, to name only a prominent few. Why not?

Read it all.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As one can see, Resolution 2015-A054 offers up a veritable smorgasbord of marriage services for all and sundry. If you are an atheist, the Episcopal Church (USA) is ready to meet you and marry you with its "Civil Marriage Rite"; if it is illegal to marry in your State, the Episcopal Church (USA) will still meet you and bless your union with its "Marriage-Lite Rite"; and if you want the full trappings for your same-sex ceremony, well, ECUSA offers it in modern ("Wedding Rite") and traditional ("Mystical Union") versions, according to your taste.

But the consequence is necessarily the dilution of Christian marriage into a virtually meaningless smear. The message that ECUSA is conveying with its cafeteria-style offerings is that it does not really stand behind any one of them; they all must be equally valid, liturgically speaking, and so "you pays yer money and you takes yer choice." Whether you are really married is between God and you; it is not for the Church to say.

Resolutions A036 and A054, as noted, work in tandem to accomplish this goal. The one would be meaningless without the other -- indeed, until A054 goes into formal effect and its marriage rites are authorized by diocesan bishops in their respective jurisdictions, the canonical violations described in the first Part of this post will continue unabated and unpunished.

In the next Part of this post, we will take a longer view of the Church's abandonment of traditional marriage, and the consequences of that abandonment for two Western institutions of paramount importance: the family, and the "one, true, catholic and apostolic church" itself.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention TEC Polity & Canons* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“There are just as many ways of being a nonparent as there are of being a parent,” Daum writes in the introduction. “You can be cool about it or you can be a jerk about it.” Unfortunately, almost all the contributors to Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed—with the notable exception of the English novelist Geoff Dyer, whose genuinely funny and self-aware essay correctly labels regret in life as “the jackpot you are guaranteed to win”—come off as jerks.

The contributors are professional writers, and many of them assume this means they are entitled to be moody, crankily eccentric, or even borderline insane. Being a “creative person,” we are told—please insert your own skeptical cough or two here—apparently excuses a multitude of sins, including regular breakdowns and grown-up tantrums. Being a “creative person” also apparently allows for Costco-sized carts filled with delusions of grandeur and hefty doses of drama. (The proverbial carts of parents, meanwhile, are filled with to-do lists, bulk diapers, and even bulkier cases of wine.)

“Writing had saved my life,” Sigrid Nunez writes in her chapter, “and if I could not write, I would die.” Children, apparently, often make a hash of the world of great art: Young humans, the novelist Lionel Shriver notes, “would have messed up my apartment. In the main, they are ungrateful. They would have siphoned too much time away from the writing of my precious books.” Attention, everyone: It is officially time to get off Lionel Shriver’s lawn. But first, should someone inform her that her cultural influence is likely dwarfed by people like, oh, I don’t know, the fertile founder of Chick-fil-A?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPsychologyScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 4, 2015 at 5:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The husband and wife’s resolute commitment to the irreplaceability of each other with respect to their union—their fides—with all its joyous, self-imposed, exacting rigor establishes a moral environment wherein the child has the security of knowing that their identity and personhood has its foundation within the exclusive devotion between just two people. The child’s life and origin begins in the secret, hidden mystery of love between the man and the woman whose shape is made public in their vows of marriage.

To be clear, my point is a moral one and not about biology per se. But what’s true at the moral level is also true biologically: if either member of the union were replaced, the DNA of the child would obviously come from a different pool. To the extent that matters for the determination of a child’s life—and it clearly matters some—that would be enough to indicate that there is something about being begotten from just those two parents and no others that matters to the child’s future....

If my argument is right, gay marriage is not a revolution; it is simply the final stage of the erosion of eros....

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 4, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Most Americans (72%) continue to believe the state of moral values in the U.S. is "getting worse," while 22% say it is "getting better." Large majorities have said the state of moral values in the U.S. is declining since Gallup started asking this question annually in 2002.

Americans were slightly less pessimistic about the direction of the country's morals in 2002 and 2003, when two-thirds (67%) said it was getting worse. Pessimism peaked between 2006 and 2008, when more than four in five Americans thought the state of moral values was declining.

Read it all.



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Posted June 4, 2015 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Today, nonbelievers often seem inclined to describe atheism and secular humanism as an “identity” whose claimants should focus on winning cultural acceptance rather than intellectual debates. Here, they are taking their cues from the civil rights movement, particularly the rhetoric of gay liberation. Some organizations, for example, declared April 23 the first “Openly Secular Day,” “a celebration of secular people opening up about their secular worldview, and an opportunity for theistic allies to show their support for secular friends and family.”

“Many atheists are still in the closet,” said Nichelle Reed of Sunday Assembly. Nonbelievers like her hope that if they emphasize good works over grand argument, they can convince the bigots that atheists are decent human beings. Kelly Damerow, the interim executive director of the Secular Coalition for America, said that there is little discussion of moral philosophy among the activists she works with. “We get it. We know we’re good to each other,” she told me. “We would rather show people that we’re good.”

In the short term, this is a smart strategy. The language of tolerance and personal identity has particular appeal to millennials, who account for 40 percent of the atheist and agnostic population, according to the Pew Research Center’s latest study. August E. Brunsman IV, who directs the Secular Student Alliance, said that “nowadays you’re seeing a whole lot of people for whom it’s more important that they’re understood and valued by fellow citizens, not seen as being too weird.”

Read it all.

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Posted June 3, 2015 at 3:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An internationally renowned atheist activist has relocated from India to the U.S. after receiving death threats from an extremist group that has claimed responsibility for at least one of three machete killings of South Asian atheists this year.

Taslima Nasrin, a Bangladeshi gynecologist, novelist and poet, arrived in New York state last Wednesday (May 27). The move was orchestrated by the Center for Inquiry, an organization that promotes secularism and has been working with atheist activists in countries where atheism is unprotected by blasphemy laws.

“Extremist groups have been pretty public that they want Taslima killed,” said Michael de Dora, CFI’s director of public policy and president of the United Nations NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief. “In the last couple of weeks this has been ramping up and that’s why we were so concerned.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAsiaBangladesh* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsAtheism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 3, 2015 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The segment is the first one which may be found here. "Summer Ash found that after fighting for a healthy heart, her heart started fighting her in ways she hadn't expected." Really well done and amazing.

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2 Comments
Posted June 3, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The FBI is operating a small air force with scores of low-flying planes across the U.S. carrying video and, at times, cellphone surveillance technology - all hidden behind fictitious companies that are fronts for the government, The Associated Press has learned.

The planes' surveillance equipment is generally used without a judge's approval, and the FBI said the flights are used for specific, ongoing investigations. The FBI said it uses front companies to protect the safety of the pilots and aircraft. It also shields the identity of the aircraft so that suspects on the ground don't know they're being watched by the FBI.

In a recent 30-day period, the agency flew above more than 30 cities in 11 states across the country, an AP review found.

Read it all.


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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a series of public correspondence, two professors at Episcopal seminaries discuss what they see as problems with the approach taken by the Task Force on the Study of Marriage in evaluating what the Bible has to say about marriage and sexuality. Dr. Wesley Hill is Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at Trinity School for Ministry and Dr. Garwood P. Anderson is Professor of New Testament and Greek at Nashotah House Theological Seminary.

Read it all by following the links provided. Also this morning there is now this.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“My mom and dad didn’t tell us why they were putting us on the train. I thought they were coming with us,” said Clara Fergus, a Cree woman from northern Manitoba to a sharing circle on the morning of June 1, at the beginning of the final event of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). “They put us on the train, and then we noticed they didn’t come with us.”

The train took Fergus all the way to the United Church of Canada-run Brandon Indian Residential School, where she would spend the rest of her childhood having her language, culture and identity stripped from her while suffering “all forms of abuse” at the hands of teachers and staff.

“Being away from your brothers and sisters, being away from your grandparents,” said Fergus. “It’s the love that we missed. The hugs. The nurturing…I can’t imagine…if I sent my kids there, and they had to go through that…”

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has spent the last six years documenting stories like Fergus’s, stories of how the Indian residential school system was set up to enact what Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin recently called “an attempt at cultural genocide.”

Read it all.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After successfully lobbying provincial and federal governments to make it easier to amend sex designations on key identity documents, transgender Canadians are now pushing for another change: to abolish gender references altogether from birth certificates.

The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has agreed to review complaints filed by the Trans Alliance Society and a handful of transgender and intersex individuals, who argue that doctors should stop assigning the sex of a baby based on a quick inspection of the baby’s genitals at birth when there’s a possibility they may identify under a different gender, or no gender, years later.

“Birth certificates (may) give false information about people and characterize them in a way that is actually wrong, that assumes to be right, and causes people … actual harm,” said Morgane Oger, a transgender woman in Vancouver and chair of the society.

“It’s considered true and infallible when it isn’t.”

Read it all from the National Post.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Lasch was not out to define the future, or to shape it either. He was not even, for some extraordinary reason, out to get rich. He had come to describe the cultural carbon clogging the national carburetor. We weren’t going to be made okay by dieting or jogging or protest-marching, or even by opening up our souls. We might, if we paid careful attention to Professor Lasch, become more fully aware of what was afoot in our culture, and what effects it was producing. Light might break through. The rest was up to us.

What was amiss? Much, it seemed. The Culture of Narcissism grew out of Lasch’s earlier study of the modern family, Haven in a Heartless World, in which he had pointed to an alarming decline in the family’s authority. It seemed, on the basis of the more extensive scrutiny supplied in The Culture of Narcissism, that the culture itself was approaching bankruptcy. “Bourgeois society seems everywhere to have used up its store of constructive ideas.”

Liberalism had nothing to offer, said this disillusioned liberal, weary as he was of cultural libertarianism. “Psychological man” had become “the final product of bourgeois individualism,” liberated from past superstitions but seeking the meaning of life. He lives “in a state of restless, perpetually unsatisfied desire.” All of which was congruent with Jimmy Carter’s presidential perceptions. But no White House speechwriter could afford to go where Lasch now led, which was toward arraignment of the “therapeutic” climate that caused Americans to seek “personal well-being, health, and psychic security.”

Read it all.

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Posted June 1, 2015 at 2:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We too easily forget that every good service the government provides comes with a growth in its regulatory power. And that power can be used in ways nobody imagined in the past.

We also forget Tocqueville’s warning that democracy can become tyrannical precisely because it’s so sensitive to public opinion. If anyone needs proof, consider what a phrase like “marriage equality” has done to our public discourse in less than a decade. It’s dishonest. But it works.

That leads to the key point I want to make here. The biggest problem we face as a culture isn’t gay marriage or global warming. It’s not abortion funding or the federal debt. These are vital issues, clearly. But the deeper problem, the one that’s crippling us, is that we use words like justice, rights, freedom and dignity without any commonly shared meaning to their content.

We speak the same language, but the words don’t mean the same thing. Our public discourse never gets down to what’s true and what isn’t, because it can’t. Our most important debates boil out to who can deploy the best words in the best way to get power.
Words like “justice” have emotional throw-weight, so people use them as weapons. And it can’tbe otherwise, becausethe religious vision and convictions that once animated American life are no longer welcome at the table. After all, what can “human rights” mean if science sees nothing transcendent in the human species? Or if science imagines a trans-humanist future? Or if science doubts that a uniquely human “nature” even exists? If there’s no inherent human nature, there can be no inherent natural rights—and then the grounding of our whole political system is a group of empty syllables.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

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1 Comments
Posted June 1, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Those who helped design this network over subsequent decades focused on the technical challenges of moving information quickly and reliably. When they thought about security, they foresaw the need to protect the network against potential intruders or military threats, but they didn’t anticipate that the Internet’s own users would someday use the network to attack one another.

“We didn’t focus on how you could wreck this system intentionally,” said Vinton G. Cerf, a dapper, ebullient Google vice president who in the 1970s and ’80s designed key building blocks of the Internet. “You could argue with hindsight that we should have, but getting this thing to work at all was non-trivial.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The denial of the sex industry's role in perpetuating sexism and its rebranding as "feminist" is a serious impediment to tackling gender inequality. While there is vocal commentary around reducing domestic and sexual violence in Australia, those voices are conspicuously quiet when the violence depicted is in pornography. Too many women's advocates remain complicit in the sexual entitlement and unadorned violence that this industry is making normative.

While campaigns seek longer jail terms that will keep sex offenders out of society, this won't change the terrain that is funnelling more and more young men down this dangerous path. The police cannot arrest their way out of the problem, nor can a lesson on sexual health undo a lifetime of socialisation.

Marches and protests against domestic violence rage on, discussions continue to unpack male entitlement, yet the elephant in the room remains unacknowledged. One of the most omnipresent and unavoidable drivers of sexist violence is seemingly invisible. To address sexist violence, advocates must challenge the lie that pornography is progressive.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetMenMovies & TelevisionPornographyPsychologySexualityViolenceWomen* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 30, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After a lifetime of abusing drugs, Horace Bush decided at age 62 that getting clean had become a matter of life or death. So Mr. Bush, a homeless man who still tucked in his T-shirts and ironed his jeans, moved to a flophouse in Brooklyn that was supposed to help people like him, cramming into a bedroom the size of a parking space with three other men.

Mr. Bush signed up for a drug-treatment program and emerged nine months later determined to stay sober. But the man who ran the house, Yury Baumblit, a longtime hustler and two-time felon, had other ideas.

Mr. Baumblit got kickbacks on the Medicaid fees paid to the outpatient treatment programs that he forced all his tenants to attend, residents and former employees said. So he gave Mr. Bush a choice: If he wanted to stay, he would have to relapse and enroll in another program. Otherwise, his bed would be given away.

“‘Do what you do’ — that’s what he told me,” Mr. Bush recalled.

Read it all.


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

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Posted May 30, 2015 at 12:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At the heart of the gospel is a narrative of creation, brokenness, redemption and reconciliation, and new creation. Kinghorn turns to this narrative for a rich language and set of practices through which each war veteran can understand “what it means to be claimed by a God who created a good world.” He points out that in Jesus Christ, we have a “paradigm of mental health and flourishing.” After all, Jesus was once rumored to suffer from mental illness (Mark 3:21) and endured physical and mental anguish. The church has language and practices to foster healing for veterans: lament, confession, and reconciliation. All of these allow us to “listen, reflect, bear, and grieve” with our veterans.

The church can acknowledge that while war may sometimes be justified, says Kinghorn, it is “always a tragic manifestation of human brokenness.” We also have the hope of the Resurrection, and “the peace that is not simply the attenuation of distress but, rather, the right and ordered alignment of desire toward God and to God’s good creation.” Finally, we have the “healing resources of the community,” which can be brought to bear as we create spaces where veterans can experience reconciliation.

Churches and faith-related organizations have launched programs in recent years to better care for veterans’ mental and spiritual health. The Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas, started the Soul Repair Center in 2012 with a focus on research and recovery methods for those suffering from moral injury. They serve as a resource to educators, caregivers, employers, and religious and nonprofit organizations in general. Partners in Care, initiated by a chaplain in the Maryland National Guard and later expanded by chaplains in the Missouri National Guard, connects soldiers to their local congregations. Wheat Ridge Ministries, a Lutheran organization committed to assisting local congregations’ healthcare ministries, gave a grant to a Lutheran pastor and former Minnesota National Guard chaplain to help widely distribute his book Welcome Them Home, Help Them Heal to congregations.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted May 30, 2015 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In most rich countries the supply of eligible blue-collar men does not match demand. Among black Americans, thanks to mass incarceration, it does not come close. For every 100 African-American women aged 25-54 who are not behind bars, there are only 83 men of the same age at liberty. In some American inner cities there are only 50 black men with jobs for every 100 black women, calculates William Julius Wilson of Harvard University. In theory black women could “marry out”, but few do: in 2010 only 9% of black female newly-weds married men of another race.

When men with jobs are in short supply, as they are in poor neighbourhoods throughout the rich world, any presentable male can get sex, but few women will trust him to stick around or behave decently. Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas, two sociologists, asked a sample of inner-city women of all races why they broke up with their most recent partner. Four in ten blamed his chronic, flagrant infidelity; half complained that he was violent.

Read it all from the Economist.

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

0 Comments
Posted May 30, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When I started researching the death penalty in 1995, roughly 80% of Americans favored its use. The death penalty was a rare point of consensus in American politics, crossing party affiliation and political ideology.

Times have changed. The unicameral legislature of a very conservative state, Nebraska, voted last week, 32-15, to repeal capital punishment. Gov. Pete Ricketts vetoed the bill on Tuesday. But on Wednesday Nebraska became the 19th state to abolish the death penalty after legislators voted to override the governor’s veto.

Clearly, a tide is building against the death penalty in America. One of the most powerful factors is science. DNA evidence in the past 20 years was a strong reason for the exoneration of many of the 153 innocent people released from death row during that period. These people in earlier generations would have been wrongfully put to death. This realization has challenged the conscience of a fair-minded country that doesn’t want to kill innocent people.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchCapital PunishmentPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 29, 2015 at 11:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Tricia Salese called her local pharmacy for a price check on her next prescription refill, she was stunned when the pharmacist told her the cost of her generic-brand pain medication had gone up again.

Salese, 49, started talking fentanyl citrate, the generic version of Actiq, a powerful painkiller, in 2010, and she takes three doses per day. Back then, she said, the price per dose was 50 cents. Now, the pharmacist told her when she called, it was going to cost her $37.49 per dose.

“I thought $25 [per dose for generics] was a lot. $37 is just-- What is this stuff made of? I mean, this is ridiculous,” Salese said.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPsychologyStress* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal Finance* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted May 29, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A liturgy to "mark a person's gender transition" should be devised to help the Church welcome and affirm transgender people, a motion from the diocese of Blackburn suggests. The motion was sent for consideration to the General Synod last month, after being carried by the diocesan synod.

Its origins lie in a service led last year by the Vicar of St Mary's, Lancaster, the Revd Chris Newlands, after a young man had asked to be "rebaptised", explaining that he had been baptised as a girl.

"He said: 'I don't think God knows me; so I would like to be introduced to God as a man,'" Mr Newlands recalled on Tuesday. A liturgy was devised, drawing on the initiation service, which enabled the man to reaffirm his baptismal vows.

"It was just a very simple pastoral response to something which came out of the blue," Mr Newlands said. "It was really moving, as he felt he was in a proper relationship with God. He just wanted God to know his new name."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologySexuality* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted May 29, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Come graduation day, I know I won’t be the only parent with invisible armor who worried that a diploma might be knocked out of reach or rendered irrelevant by bigger issues. There is an epidemic of depression and anxiety in our schools–and I suspect we’re only documenting a fraction of the problem. So while there will be tall young women, cool and confident in their caps and gowns, some will have spent eight weeks at grueling wilderness camps foraging for food because they stopped eating at home. There will be brilliant boys who cut themselves, a tangible reflection of wounds they get in the social-media Thunderdome. There will be kids who don’t have safe homes, or homes at all, and others who have everything but a purpose.

And the school auditorium will be filled with the parents who’ve soldiered on, mortgaged houses to pay for substance rehab, spent more time in emergency sessions with teachers than on vacation, who turned the city upside down to get their son a place at that last-chance school. They know about the impossible choices and disappointments that aren’t in any parenting book. And they include some of the people you think have done everything right. Sometimes what looks like indulgent, competitive helicopter parenting is really a desperate fight to be ordinary. For all of them, this rite of passage is anything but ordinary, but you wouldn’t know it.

Sometimes it feels like a secret society. Kid trouble is the last taboo, after all. We confess to infidelity or Botox or grownup mental-health battles, but we cover up or downplay our most visceral fears about our children even when we’re talking to our oldest friends. It’s the topic that makes us most vulnerable. Which is all the more reason to celebrate a diploma.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPsychologyYoung Adults* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 28, 2015 at 5:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In England and Wales, the Suicide Act 1961 makes it an offence to encourage or assist a suicide or a suicide attempt.

Former Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer said he would attempt to reintroduce a bill that would allow assisted dying in the UK.

He said it was "completely wrong" that terminally ill people did not have the option to end their life.

"Whatever your take on the subject, it should be debated," Lord Falconer told the BBC.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeSwitzerland* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 28, 2015 at 3:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Lying liars lie. That’s clear. But does everyone else lie too? Are we all liars? A new documentary called “(Dis)Honesty – The Truth About Lies” rounds up the research and lays out what we know. Little lies, white lies, big lies, whoppers. What we condemn and what we roll with. It’s quite a smorgasbord. You may think you’re above all that. But are you? And what about the power-brokers who frame our world? What happens when they lie? This hour On Point: the truth about lies.

– Tom Ashbrook
Guests

Dan Ariely, professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University. Founding member of the Center for Advanced Hindsight. Author of “Predictably Irrational,” “Irrationally Yours” and “The Honest Truth About Dishonesty.” Featured in the new documentary film, “(Dis)Honesty: The Truth About Lies.” (@danariely)

Dallas Denery, professor of history and chair of the history department at Bowdoin College. Author of the book, “The Devil Wins.”

Listen to it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted May 28, 2015 at 2:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Federal Reserve's report on the economic well-being of U.S. households is out, and it contains one very interesting finding: A decent share of Americans want to work longer hours even without a raise.

The Fed asked non-self-employed workers whether they'd prefer to work more, less, or the same amount that they now work if their hourly wage was unchanged. The goal of the question was to help gauge the amount of underemployment in the economy, according to the report.

Thirty-six percent of respondents said they'd prefer to work more hours at their current wage. Among those who work part time, the share is even higher at 49 percent. The results might help Fed Chair Janet Yellen and her colleagues connect the dots in a labor market that's still flashing mixed signals.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentFederal Reserve* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 28, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One morning recently, a dozen college students stepped out of the bright sunshine into a dimly lit room at the counseling center here at the University of Central Florida. They appeared to have little in common: undergraduates in flip-flops and nose rings, graduate students in interview-ready attire.

But all were drawn to this drop-in workshop: “Anxiety 101.”

As they sat in a circle, a therapist, Nicole Archer, asked: “When you’re anxious, how does it feel?”

“I have a faster heart rate,” whispered one young woman. “I feel panicky,” said another. Sweating. Ragged breathing. Insomnia....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenDrugs/Drug AddictionEducationHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPsychologyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 28, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Key trends in Americans' views of the moral acceptability of certain issues and behaviors include the following:
--The substantial increase in Americans' views that gay and lesbian relations are morally acceptable coincide with a record-high level of support for same-sex marriage and views that being gay or lesbian is something a person is born with, rather than due to one's upbringing or environment.
--The public is now more accepting of sexual relations outside of marriage in general than at any point in the history of tracking these measures, including a 16-percentage-point increase in those saying that having a baby outside of marriage is morally acceptable, and a 15-point increase in the acceptability of sex between an unmarried man and woman. Clear majorities of Americans now say both are acceptable.
--Acceptance of divorce and human embryo medical research are also up 12 points each since 2001 and 2002, respectively.
--Polygamy and cloning humans have also seen significant upshifts in moral acceptability -- but even with these increases, the public largely perceives them as morally wrong, with only 16% and 15% of Americans, respectively, considering them morally acceptable.
Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & PartnershipsSociology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 28, 2015 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Just over a year ago Lichfield diocese agreed to pilot a fresh approach. 60 people, lay and ordained, gathered one morning in Stafford to think about how to get people talking about death, dying and funerals. They went away to try out a new concept: GraveTalk, with 35 parishes setting up café-style events. Each event involves setting up a space to look like a café, where refreshments are served. People gather in small groups at tables. Conversations are started through a pack of 52 specially written questions covering a wide range of topics, ranging from attitudes to death to personal experiences.

There are no answers, just a space to talk. Facilitators, lay or ordained, make sure the event is running smoothly – and there is always ‘tea and cake’. The trial was researched in partnership with the University of Staffordshire, and the results were overwhelmingly positive: when we make the time and the space, people will talk.

One vicar who piloted GraveTalk said:

“I gave it to them and I went and made coffee while they started discussing it. And I just couldn’t shut them up. When I came to draw them to a conclusion, they wanted to carry on. They thought it was absolutely brilliant. I was really surprised.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEschatology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The American public estimates on average that 23% of Americans are gay or lesbian, little changed from Americans' 25% estimate in 2011, and only slightly higher than separate 2002 estimates of the gay and lesbian population. These estimates are many times higher than the 3.8% of the adult population who identified themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender in Gallup Daily tracking in the first four months of this year.

The stability of these estimates over time contrasts with the major shifts in Americans' attitudes about the morality and legality of gay and lesbian relations in the past two decades. Whereas 38% of Americans said gay and lesbian relations were morally acceptable in 2002, that number has risen to 63% today. And while 35% of Americans favored legalized same-sex marriage in 1999, 60% favor it today.

Read it all.

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

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


Posted May 26, 2015 at 1:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Americans have major doubts about the financial health of Social Security.

A new survey by Pew Research Center finds that 41 percent of Americans think there will be no Social Security benefits for them when they retire and nearly a third expect reduced levels of benefits. (Tweet This)

Some of those fears may be overblown. "People who think they will get zero benefits from Social Security are wrong and they should look at the facts," said Andy Landis, a former claims representative for the Social Security Administration (SSA) and author of "Social Security: The Inside Story."

There are concerns that benefits may be reduced, however.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinanceThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetSocial SecurityPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 23, 2015 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I can write in the midst of—not very conveniently—but I can make progress in the midst of the usual family clamor. But it has to be said, perhaps with some regret, that the first thing that distinguishes a writer is that he is most alive when alone, most fully alive when alone. A tolerance for solitude isn’t anywhere near the full description of what really goes on. The most interesting things happen to you when you are alone....

When I worked on my first book at home, my bedroom was above my father’s study, and I would often hear, not crazy scientist’s laughter, but the sort of laughter where the shoulders are shaking, coming from below. And I continue that tradition. I do find that not only the comic scenes make you laugh but anything that works well. Really, laughter is the successful serendipity of the whole business.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPoetry & LiteraturePsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 22, 2015 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Readers know of the phenomenon at college campuses regarding charges of “microaggressions” and “triggers.” It’s been going on for a while and is part of a growing censorship movement in which professors, administrators and others are accused of racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, gender bias and ethnocentric thinking, among other things. Connected is the rejection or harassment of commencement and other campus speakers who are not politically correct. I hate that phrase, but it just won’t stop being current.

Kirsten Powers goes into much of this in her book, “The Silencing.” Anyway, quite a bunch of little Marats and Robespierres we’re bringing up.

But I was taken aback by a piece a few weeks ago in the Spectator, the student newspaper of Columbia University. I can’t shake it, though believe me I’ve tried. I won’t name the four undergraduate authors, because 30 years from now their children will be on Google, and because everyone in their 20s has the right to be an idiot.

Yet theirs is a significant and growing form of idiocy that deserves greater response.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychologyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 22, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a world of driverless cars, U.S. auto sales would plummet, vehicle ownership falls 50% and opportunities in fleet management, tech and mapping arise.

In a society dominated by self-driving cars, U.S. auto sales might fall 40% and vehicle ownership could drop 50%, forcing entrenched automakers such as Ford Motor Co. and General Motors to adapt or die, according to a Barclays analyst report.

This shift will also create opportunities for tech startups and rental car companies.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyScience & TechnologyTravel* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted May 21, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While some cohabiting adults seem happy enough to live together without marriage, what about their children? It is an important question considering that about one in four American children today are born to cohabiting parents. According to Child Trends, the number of cohabiting couples with children under 18 has nearly tripled since the late 1990s—increasing from 1.2 million in 1996 to 3.1 million in 2014. The National Center for Health Statistics reports that the majority of recent non-marital births (58 percent) are to unmarried women living with their child’s father.

On the surface, the trend away from divorced or unwed mothers raising kids on their own, toward more children living with both of their parents, seems like a positive one for children raised outside of marriage. However, when it comes to child well-being, cohabiting unions more closely resemble single motherhood than marriage. As eighteen noted family scholars stated in a 2011 report from the National Marriage Project, “cohabitation is not the functional equivalent of marriage,” and it is “the largely unrecognized threat to the quality and stability of children’s lives today.”

For children, the differences between cohabiting and married parents extend far beyond the lack of a marriage license. Compared to children of married parents, those with cohabiting parents are more likely to experience the breakup of their families, be exposed to “complex” family forms, live in poverty, suffer abuse, and have negative psychological and educational outcomes.

Read it all.

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

1 Comments
Posted May 16, 2015 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Their ideals were lofty but simple: They would live off the land, farming with Colonial-era tools, along with a band of like-minded men dressed in homespun robes wielding scythes and pickaxes. They would sleep in atmospheric log cabins and other 18th-century structures that they had rescued from the area and that they began to reconstruct, painstakingly, brick by crumbling brick and log by log.

But what if you built a commune, and no one came?

It turns out it’s not so easy to cook up a utopia from scratch. There are 1,775 so-called intentional communities listed in the Fellowship for Intentional Community’s United States directory: eco-villages, pagan co-ops, faith-based retreats and everything in between. But how do you advertise, organize and thrive? “Don’t ask us,” Johannes said. “We failed that class.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths

0 Comments
Posted May 16, 2015 at 10:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The average human's attention span is... oh look, a bird!

According to scientists, the age of smartphones has left humans with such a short attention span even a goldfish can hold a thought for longer.

Researchers surveyed 2,000 participants in Canada and studied the brain activity of 112 others using electroencephalograms.

The results showed the average human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in 2000, or around the time the mobile revolution began, to eight seconds. ''

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As teams take turns to attack the others goal line they use their own set of balls, so by gently under-inflating theirs New England made it easier to both grip and throw especially in cold rain which was falling that day.

What makes it more astonishing is that New England were favourites, and would surely have won anyways. They did and went on to take the prestigious Superbowl a month later.

So why risk it all with underhand tactics?

Listen to it all (just under 5 minutes).

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

0 Comments
Posted May 14, 2015 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So I am going to talk about what I know – depression and anxiety. I find it hard to fully describe what happens in my brain because honestly, I don’t know what is normal and what is not, but I will give it a go.

Getting up in the morning is the hardest part of any day, not because I am lazy, but because waking up hurts. I am so tired every minute of every day, that there is always a need for more sleep, but, I have to get up so I do. This is the first battle I face each day.

Then all I need to do is survive the day. From the moment I am up, I battle negative thoughts. For my whole adult life, I have been unable to look myself in the mirror as me. I always pretend to be someone else, it’s been easier that way. However, recently I have started to be me and it is very hard not to look at myself and hate what I see. This is not about my image so much as just seeing the face of someone you really don’t like so close. Learning to look myself in the eye and seek out something about myself that I actually like takes enormous energy and effort. This is the next big battle of my day.

You can read the rest of her blog post here and an article about it there.

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

0 Comments
Posted May 13, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Brandon Wade thinks monogamy can be monotonous. "The majority of people are not swingers," he said, "but they probably are monogamish." What does that mean? "You get a hall pass to date others."

...And now, for his next act, Wade has created OpenMinded.com, "a safe and stigma-free environment that brings the ease and flexibility of online dating to the currently underserved world of open relationships"

"The traditional model of marriage and monogamy isn't working out for everyone," Wade told CNBC. "In my own case, after three or four years, things get monotonous. ...I think a lot of people suffer from that, especially men."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychologySexualityYoung Adults* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 11, 2015 at 4:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The prevalence of sexting and cyber-bullying among today’s youngsters will lead to an epidemic of depression and anxiety when they grow up, a leading psychiatrist has warned.

Dr Natasha Bijlani, consultant psychiatrist at the Priory Hospital Roehampton, said that teenagers and young adults were already suffering low self-esteem, body image issues and self-harming tendencies because their childhood had been scarred by online and digital abuse.

Some were seeking help while they were still young but they were the “tip of an iceberg”, with many more simply soldiering on, thinking that was how life is nowadays. However, these untreated problems left them vulnerable to serious depression later on.

“Episodes in childhood are often repressed. Children often fear reporting abuse, and only later in life do these issues surface in the form of depression, stress and anxiety and other serious psychological conditions,” Dr Bijlani said. “This relatively new phenomenon of sexting, where explicit texts and ­pictures are sent between smartphone devices, seems to have become endemic, and we are not sure of the long-term consequences.”

Read it all (subsciption required).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingHealth & MedicinePsychologySexualityTeens / Youth* General InterestPhotos/Photography

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians who have so far avoided controversial “culture war” issues will likely be pulled into those battles as their religious freedom becomes threatened due to...[same-sex] "marriage," Dr. John Inazu warned Monday.

Theologically conservative Christian non-profit organizations, including churches, could face losing their tax exempt status or being shut down, and Christian doctors, lawyers, counselors and other professionals could be forced out of their professions, he explained.

Inazu, associate professor of law and political science at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, was delivering a presentation, “Religious Liberty and the American Culture Wars,” at the Ethics and Public Policy Center’s “Faith Angle Forum.”

Read it all.

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

2 Comments
Posted May 9, 2015 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ever since the “big bang” deregulation of Britain’s financial markets enacted by Margaret Thatcher in 1986, the UK has followed a liberalising trajectory that was accompanied by a public enthusiasm for wealth more commonly associated with the US.

During that time, London grew into a global financial centre that has become the favoured residence of the world’s super rich. By a wide margin, it now boasts more billionaires per head than any city in the world. But this election has raised the question of whether British attitudes towards wealth and the wealthy are now shifting.

The campaign has aired popular frustration over inequality and affordable housing, the bashing of bankers and growing resentment towards a London that other Brits regard as a distant haven of rapacious hedge funds. The common thread seems to be a suspicion that what is good for the rich may not be so good for everyone else.

“There is no doubt the political rhetoric has changed — above all from the Labour leadership,” said Ben Rogers, director of the Centre for London think-tank.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock MarketThe Banking System/SectorPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 7, 2015 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

During medical school, I spent countless evenings in a library, half-asleep, poring over textbooks and talking through cases with other medical students. What I did not do, ever, was take a class with anyone studying to be a nurse, physician assistant, pharmacist or social worker. Nor did I collaborate with any of these health professionals to complete a project, participate in a simulation or design a treatment plan. It wasn’t until residency that I first began to understand just how many professions come together to take care of a single patient — what exactly they do, how they do it, and how what I do makes their jobs easier or harder.

As a first-year resident, you finally learn to put into practice the theory of medicine you have been nurturing since fumbling around with organic chemistry models in college. You learn in a safe and hierarchical environment — with senior residents, fellows, consultants and attending physicians each demonstrating, with increasing degrees of nuance and sophistication, how much clinical medicine you have yet to learn and how far you have left to go.

But, in all that time, there is surprisingly little education on what it means to be a leader of a medical team, with its nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, dieticians and case managers. There is even less discussion of how to understand one another’s roles, perspectives, frustrations and limitations....

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted May 6, 2015 at 11:21 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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