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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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“…that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain…”
--Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, November 19, 1863
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch History Military / Armed Forces * Economics, Politics Politics in General Office of the President * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
“My Fellow Americans:
“Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.
“And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:
“Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.
“Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.
“They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest -- until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men's souls will be shaken with the violences of war.
“For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.&
“Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.
“And for us at home -- fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them -- help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.
“Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.
“Give us strength, too -- strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.
“And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.
“And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment -- let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.
“With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace -- a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.
“Thy will be done, Almighty God.
You can listen to the actual audio if you want here and today of all days is the day to do that. Also, there is more on background and another audio link there.--KSH.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals Spirituality/Prayer * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Politics in General Office of the President * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr., who helped establish the internationally known Spoleto Festival USA in South Carolina nearly four decades ago, took a final bow Friday as he opened his last festival.
It was Riley who helped persuade the late composer Gian Carlo Menotti to establish the performing arts festival in Charleston as a companion to the composer’s Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy.
Riley has opened every festival now for 39 years. Friday’s was his last because Riley, who has served as mayor longer than anyone else in Charleston’s 345-year history, retires at the end of the year. This year’s festival continues through June 7.
“There is nothing like the Spoleto Festival USA in the world, and for everyone who participates, when the festival is over, they are changed,” Riley told the hundreds gathered in front of Charleston City Hal
Read it all.
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-Watch Aging / the Elderly Psychology * Economics, Politics Economy Personal Finance The U.S. Government Budget Social Security Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
In his visit to the Republic of Ireland earlier this week, Prince Charles changed the climate in which reconciliation can take place, and massively changed it for the better.
In word as well as action, tone as well as content, public as well as in private, he moved the heart of reconciliation away from the political arena.
He took it to a place where the facing of pain, resentment, anguish and agonies (to use his own words) are put at the very centre of leaving our grandchildren “a legacy of lasting peace, forgiveness and friendship” (again, his own words).
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK --Ireland * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Hundreds of former players have filed a lawsuit claiming all 32 NFL teams, their doctors, trainers and medical staffs obtained and provided painkillers to players — often illegally — as part of a decades-long conspiracy to keep them on the field without regard for their long-term health.
The lawsuit reprises some of the allegations made in a federal lawsuit last year on behalf of 1,300 former players against the NFL. That complaint was filed in May, 2014 and dismissed in December by Judge William Alsup of the U.S. Northern District in California. Alsup wrote that the collective bargaining agreement between the league and the NFL Players Association was the appropriate forum to resolve such claims. That decision is being appealed.
The new lawsuit was filed Thursday in the U.S. Northern District of Maryland. It names each NFL team individually as a defendant and lists 13 plaintiffs, including Hall of Fame cornerback Mel Renfro of the Dallas Cowboys and Etopia Evans, the widow of Charles Evans, a running back who played eight years with the Minnesota Vikings and the Baltimore Ravens and retired after the 2000 season. Evans died of heart failure in October 2008 at age 41.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Drugs/Drug Addiction Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Sports * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
By about 4pm, the national Yes vote stood at 62.4 per cent against 36.6 per cent for the No side with 60.2 per cent of the country going to the polls.
Donegal, against some expectations, has approved the amendment to the Constitution by a small margin. Donegal South West has been the closest so far, with 50.1 per cent voting Yes, representing a margin of just 33 votes.
The Yes vote in Dublin was particularly pronounced. Dublin Midwest reported a Yes vote of 70.9 per cent and Dublin Southwest returned 71.3 per cent, in line with an overall 70 per cent positive vote anticipated in the capital. As the result emerged thousands of people gathered, against convention, in the courtyard of Dublin Castle signalling widespread jubilation.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK --Ireland * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
Voters will be given two ballot papers: a white ballot paper for the marriage referendum and a green ballot paper for the age of presidential candidates referendum.
In the marriage referendum people may vote Yes or No to the proposal to include a new clause about marriage in the Constitution.
This new clause provides that two people may marry each other regardless of their sex.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Law & Legal Issues Church/State Matters Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK --Ireland * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Islamic State fighters are celebrating their second major conquest in a week in Syria and Iraq as they pick through the ruins of the historic city of Palmyra.
The sudden advance of the militants into the UN heritage site in central Syria resulted in the rout of a national army, the exodus of refugees and a fresh pulse of regional alarm at the resilience of the self-styled caliphate force.
The UN said one-third of Palmyra’s 200,000-strong population had fled. And Isis militants used social media to show themselves posing amid ancient columns in Palmyra on Thursday. Other images displayed a more familiar theme: the summary slaughter of local men whose blood drenched the road.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary Middle East Iraq Syria * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The public view of religion among young people, according to a YouGov poll - well, alright it’s a poll, but … [laughter] the reputation of religion among young people is actually more negative than neutral: 41% – this was a poll in 2013, when they still got them right – 41% of 18-24 year olds agreed that “religion is more often the cause of evil in the world” and only 14% say it is a cause for good.
The Faith Action Audit reveals something different. It shows the breadth of commitment across the country, the depth of commitment, and above all the strength of experience and good practice. Thanks to Cinnamon [Network] and other bodies like it, this is not mere do-goodery. It is seeking to find best practice and put it into action in the most professional way that can be imagined.
We’ve heard some of the figures, but just a reminder: the faith sector collectively is delivering, according to the audit – I’ll round it – 220,000 social action projects, from which 47 million people benefit.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Poverty Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
You can read about it there. Also, please note that this is 10 time mayor Joe Riley's last one to open: "Mayor Riley helped convince the late composer Gian Carlo Menotti to establish the festival in Charleston almost 40 years ago."
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Art Music Theatre/Drama/Plays * Economics, Politics Economy Politics in General City Government * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Europe Italy * South Carolina
The Nigerian army has relocated at least 260 women and children recently rescued from the militant Islamist group Boko Haram, officials say.
They were taken from a camp in the north-eastern city of Yola and flown to an unspecified military facility.
The women will receive medical help and support as part of their rehabilitation process, the BBC has learnt.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Teens / Youth Violence Women * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Nigeria * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
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-Watch Children Education History Marriage & Family Psychology Young Adults * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Some 239 years after South Carolina lawmakers decided to move the capital from Charleston to Columbia, and more than 65 years after the Capital City’s population eclipsed the Holy City’s, the title of the state’s largest city seems certain to switch back soon.
U.S. Census estimates released Wednesday showed Charleston — as well as Mount Pleasant and North Charleston — among the state’s fastest-growing cities.
Columbia, not so much, and Charleston’s population might have already eclipsed it — even with the Sergeant Jasper emptied out.
The 2015 population estimates — to be released at this time next year — could place Charleston as South Carolina’s largest city for the first time since World War II.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Urban/City Life and Issues * Economics, Politics Economy The U.S. Government Census/Census Data Politics in General City Government State Government * South Carolina
Southern Iraq’s long-shuttered museums are also finally reopening. The National Museum of Iraq reopened in February 2015 after a $40 million renovation. And in Nasiriya, a city famed for its step ziggurat, the director of the antiquities museum, Iqbal Ajeel, proudly displayed the museum’s exquisite Sumerian miniatures and naked figurines to her first group of high school visitors since the 1991 Gulf War forced its closure.
Few Iraqis in the south openly champion separation from the rest of the country, but the chasm is widening. It is not only a question of ISIS imposing its rules on personal behavior and punishing people only slightly out of line. While ISIS destroys museums, the south refurbishes them; while ISIS destroys shrines, the ayatollahs expand them; and while ISIS is burning relics and books, the Imam Ali shrine hosts a book fair where scripture shares space with romantic novels. On the new campus of Kufa University, a burned-down wreck under American occupation when last I saw it, three engineering professors spoke of the golden age that awaits a united Iraq, or at least its Arab provinces, once the militias defeat ISIS.
But a dissenting fourth engineer quietly questioned why the south should bother. As long as al-Sistani’s jihad was defensive he supported it, but why, he asks, shed blood against ISIS for a Sunni population that is neither welcoming nor particularly wanted? The further north the militia advances, the more lives are lost, and the returns from the battle diminish. Compared to the south’s mineral wealth, the Sunni provinces offer few natural resources. Much of their territory is desert, and their feuding tribes will only cause trouble. Better, he argued, to safeguard what the south already has. In short, he said, breaking a taboo by uttering a word he claims many privately already espouse, why not opt for taqsim, partition? A heavy silence followed.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Rural/Town Life Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary Middle East Iraq * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Australia is clearly being asked to take a regional role in this ongoing crisis. What role should we take?
PHILIP FREIER: Well, I think there's a couple of things we could do. One is to look at these countries where many people are wanting to leave for a manifest number of reasons and seek some of the long term solutions that might stabilise those.
But I think that plainly we need to do all we can in association with our regional neighbours in making sure that there are not people simply left starving on boats with nowhere to go.
So the breakthrough that we've had are people being able to come onshore, seems to be the initiative of some fishermen in Indonesia, seems very welcome.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Australia / NZ * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria have entered the Unesco World Heritage site of Palmyra after seizing the town next to the ancient ruins, reports say.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said there were no reports yet of any destruction of artefacts.
The militants had taken control of the nearby airport, prison and intelligence HQ after government forces pulled out of the area, the monitoring group said.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary Middle East Syria * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, the Primate, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), on Wednesday called on Nigerians and the incoming administration led Gen. Muhammadu Buhari to focus on peace and the unity of the country. Okoh told newsmen in Abuja no development could be achieved in any society without peace and unity. He said the current problem of insurgency, regional and ethnic suspicion in the country was a threat to peace and unity. “Peace is a major capital needed to develop the country and there must be a deliberate policy by the incoming administration to reassure Nigerians of peace and unity....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of Nigeria * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa Nigeria * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Last year, a death penalty sentence slapped on a Sudanese doctor for refusing to renounce her Christian faith stirred international outrage and heightened calls on the government to increase religious liberty.
Meriam Yahya Ibrahim was released a month later, but now two Christian pastors have been jailed and they also face a possible death sentence.
The Rev. Michael Yat and the Rev. Peter Yein Reith, both from the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church, have been charged with undermining the constitutional system and spying, offenses punishable by death or life imprisonment.
The clerics are charged with waging a war against the state and assault on religious belief.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa Sudan --South Sudan * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Presbyterian Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
It is religious persecution on a horrific scale, involving massacres, bombings, slavery, beheadings and mass rape.
So why don’t our churches protest against this slaughter of their own?
Yes, Christians are now the prime target of unbelievably barbaric attacks in the Middle East and Africa, yet Australia’s bishops, ministers, priests, church “social justice” units and Christian aid groups — usually so vocal — are now near mute.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Sexuality Violence * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Nigeria Australia / NZ Middle East * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Ten youths have been arrested by Canadian police on suspicion of planning to travel to Iraq and Syria to join Islamic State.
All 10 had their passports confiscated after they were detained at Montreal's Trudeau International Airport at the weekend.
Police said in a statement on Tuesday that none of the suspects had been charged, but investigations were ongoing.
Their families have been informed.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Religion & Culture Teens / Youth Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary Canada
DUP MLA Paul Givan is consulting on an Assembly bill that would allow people with religious beliefs a limited exemption from certain equality law requirements.
He said his private member’s bill would protect Christians who “do not feel there is space being made for their religious beliefs”.
Following the court ruling, DUP leader Peter Robinson said: “We have been listening to people and I think the term ‘reasonable accommodation’ is now what we would like to frame some legislation around – recognising that there are rights on both sides and therefore there has to be a reasonable accommodation between the two. So, I think we are not surprised at the outcome, that’s why we had embarked upon the legislative process.”
Mr Givan said his party leader had no apology to make for last year labelling the commission’s support for the court action “bonkers”.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK --Ireland * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Speaking thirty years ago, Attorney General Meese warned that “there are ideas which have gained influence in some parts of our society, particularly in some important and sophisticated areas that are opposed to religious freedom and freedom in general. In some areas there are some people that have espoused a hostility to religion that must be recognized for what it is, and expressly countered.”
Those were prophetic words, prescient in their clarity and foresight. The ideas of which Mr. Meese warned have only gained ground in the last thirty years, and now with astounding velocity. A revolution in morality now seeks not only to subvert marriage, but also to redefine it, and thus to undermine an essential foundation of human dignity, flourishing, and freedom.
Religious liberty is under direct threat. Just days ago the Solicitor General of the United States served notice before the Supreme Court that the liberties of religious institutions will be an open and unavoidable question. Already, religious liberty is threatened by a new moral regime that exalts erotic liberty and personal autonomy and openly argues that religious liberties must give way to the new morality, its redefinition of marriage, and its demand for coercive moral, cultural, and legal sovereignty.
A new moral and legal order is ascendant in America, and this new order is only possible, in the arena of American law and jurisprudence, if the original intent and the very words of the Constitution of the United States are twisted beyond recognition.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Philosophy Religion & Culture Sexuality * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals Other Faiths Secularism Religious Freedom / Persecution * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Islamic State leaders in Syria have sent money, trainers and fighters to Libya in increasing numbers, raising new concerns for the U.S. that the militant group is gaining traction in its attempts to broaden its reach and expand its influence.
In recent months, U.S. military officials said, Islamic State has solidified its foothold in Libya as it searches for ways to capitalize on rising popularity among extremist groups around the world.
“ISIL now has an operational presence in Libya, and they have aspirations to make Libya their African hub,” said one U.S. military official, using an acronym for the group. “Libya is part of their terror map now.”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Libya * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
As a bishop I have strong views on marriage based on my religious convictions. I have, however, no wish to stuff my religious views down other people’s throats, but I also have a right to express my views in the reasoned language of social ethics. In airing my views in public debate, I do not expect to be listened to on the basis of dogmatic utterance, but on the reasonableness of my argument.
I write then primarily as a citizen of Ireland. I have no affiliation with any group of No campaigners. Some such groups will quote me, but I know how short-lived such affirmation can be. I have said that I intend to vote No, yet there are those of the ecclesiastical right-wing who accuse me of being in favour of a Yes vote, since I do not engage in direct condemnation of gay and lesbian men and women.
My position is that of Pope Francis, who, in the debates around same-sex marriage in Argentina, made it very clear that he was against legalising same-sex marriage, yet he was consistent in telling people not to make judgments on any individual. I know the manner with which the Irish Church treated gay and lesbian people in the past – and in some cases still today – and that fact cannot be overlooked.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK --Ireland * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Speaking at the third synod of the Zaria Diocese of the Anglican Communion in Kaduna State on Sunday, Reverend Asaju urged General Buhari to ensure he prosecutes all corrupt government officials irrespective of their background, and also ensure he revives the nation’s refineries and as well address the problem of unemployment.
The cleric also urged the governors-elect and other elected political office holders across the states to imbibe the tenets of integrity, openness, transparency and prudence in the discharge of their duties.
The 2015 edition of the annual event, which commenced on May 14, has as its theme; ‘Walking in the Light of God’.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of Nigeria * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
[...She asks] “Where and how do I want my establishment to inject itself into secular controversies?”
The essay is well worth reading in full, in part because it shows how L’Engle embodied a deeply articulate and vigorous faith, one that was characterized by liberality and generosity in the best senses. “It is impossible to listen to the Gospel week after week and turn my back on the social issues confronting me today,” she writes. “But what I hope for is guidance, not legislation.”
She goes on to discuss a host of difficult issues, including abortion, divorce, euthanasia, genetic manipulation, and slavery, and her conclusions about the official church’s role are not in every case ones that I agree with myself. She tends to have a more mystical view of how the “Gospel” will necessarily inform the individual believer’s conscience than do I. If she is a conservative, then she is certainly at least what might be called a “liberal conservative” in Peter Lawler’s parlance.
But she certainly is right to point to the necessary task of each individual believer to work for the good within their own spheres of influence regardless of whether the church holds an “official position” on any particular issue.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology
Baroness Shields, the former head of Facebook in Europe, is to become the UK's minister for internet safety and security in the new Conservative government.
The Telegraph understands the American-born entrepreneur turned technology evangelist is to lead the Government's effort to improve online safety in its war against child pornography.
She will also be involved in the UK's war on cybercrime and hacking, including the vital area of cybersecurity, with the aim of keeping the general public safe online.
Her appointment, as a Parliamentary under secretary in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, is part of a push by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, to tackle the problem of illegal child porn online, and to ensure that images of abuse are blocked.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Children Globalization Law & Legal Issues Pornography Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK Europe * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
This week marks one year since Meriam Ibrahim was sentenced to 40 lashes for adultery, and death for apostasy. The campaign for her release was joined by thousands across the globe, including David Cameron, but although Ibrahim is now free, the situation for Sudan's religious minorities continues to worsen.
When the Court of Appeal declared Ibrahim innocent of all charges and released her from prison on 25 June 2014, there was cautious hope that the campaign would lead to wider respect for freedom of religion or belief in Sudan. But just five days after her acquittal, on 30 June, the Church of Christ in Thiba Al Hamyida, North Khartoum, was demolished after being given 24 hours' verbal notice.
As 2014 came to an end, religious minorities faced further restrictions. In particular, the Sudan Evangelical Presbyterian Church denomination (SEPC) has been embroiled in a legal battle to maintain ownership of its properties, which began with a court order to seize parts of the Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa Sudan * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Fear of civil war have gripped parts of the country, the Bishop of Gitega, the Rt Revd John Nduwayo, said this week.
More than 15 people have died since the demonstrations began on 26 April, and some of the 200 people injured are not being well treated because of the lack of medical fees, he has reported. More than 400 protesters are being jailed in "very harsh conditions", and a shut-down of private and social media by the government is preventing the population from getting "balanced information and reality of what is happening on the ground".
The UN reports that 105,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries, including Rwanda.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa Burundi * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Eighteen people have appeared in court in Burundi accused of helping to organise last week's failed coup against President Pierre Nkurunziza.
It comes amid what appears to be a crackdown against those suspected of involvement in the plot.
The BBC has seen evidence of retaliatory attacks, after a hospital where soldiers involved in the coup were being treated was attacked.
The alleged coup ringleader, Godefroid Niyombare, is still on the run.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch History * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa Burundi * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
....Neuhaus had an extraordinary talent for bringing people together—to discuss, debate, and strategize. He regularly convened intellectually and theologically diverse groups to spend a couple of days discussing topics of interest. (In my own case the topics included, civil religion, multinational corporations, ecumenism, faith and politics, and “culture wars,” among others.)
But the most important of these projects was the 1990 founding of First Things. While Neuhaus had previously edited two similar journals, Worldview and This World, they had each been sponsored by larger foundations, the Carnegie and Rockford Institutes respectively. This time around the journal was Neuhaus’s own, to shape as he wished. And shaped it he did, with great talent and flair, bringing together like-minded writers representing Catholicism, evangelicalism, Orthodoxy and Lutheranism, along with fellow travelers from Judaism and Islam.
First Things was the flagship publication of Neuhaus’s Institute on Religion and Public Life, and the concept of “public life” was foundational to his efforts. Neuhaus always insisted that politics is only one aspect of a larger “public square”—one that makes room, as best it can, for a variety of religious, moral, and communal traditions. Boyagoda reminds us that Neuhaus and Berger actually coined the term “mediating structures,” now commonly used in social science, in their 1977 book To Empower People. That short book (just over 50 pages) showed how a wide range of smaller institutions—families, churches, professional associations, teams, guilds, neighborhood organizations, book clubs, schools—can offer a protective, nurturing space between individual and the power-hungry state.
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Emanuella Enenajor, Canada and U.S. economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, has some bad news for the Canadian economy.
In light of the collapse in oil prices, she says, Canada is relying on a resurgent U.S. economy in order to provide a boost to exports and spur investment in activities that aren't related to commodities.
Lofty oil prices have helped foster investment and employment growth in Canada as well as domestic consumption by making imports less expensive. For that reason, the Canadian dollar is often referred to as the petro-loonie since the key role oil plays in the nation’s terms of trade is typically reflected in currency fluctuations. With the price of oil falling recently, the pressure is on for Canada and it doesn't look like the country will be getting much help from its Southern neighbor.
Notwithstanding the fact that economic activity in the U.S. has routinely disappointed so far this year, Enenajor concludes that a pick-up in U.S. growth wouldn’t be a panacea for Canada.
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Marte, the border town in the northern flank of Borno state has again fallen to the Boko Haram sect, security sources and government officials have confirmed.
Security sources said the terrorists, most of whom had fled Sambisa forests and their other strongholds across Borno State, have now regrouped in Marte, a town 112km north of Maiduguri, the state capital.
The deputy governor of Borno State, Zannah Mustapha, confirmed that Marte was seized on Friday.
The news came as soldiers sustained a 24-hour curfew imposed on Maiduguri, the state capital on Thursday after Boko Haram terrorists attempted an invasion of the city on Wednesday night.
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In my previous post, I detailed the sordid story by which the Episcopal Church (USA) has gotten into the debt collection business. Refugees designated to migrate to the United States are advanced travel money by an arm of the U.S. State Department. They land here, and are placed in the hands of (among other agencies) Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM), which helps them relocate into specific communities, find jobs, and settle in. Then EMM sees that they repay their travel advances to the Government, and pockets one-quarter of its debt collection proceeds for its trouble.
It's a nifty racket, and ensures that annually over $300,000 comes into the Episcopal Church's coffers, to help with its bottom line. Meanwhile, the U.S. Government reimburses EMM for all of its other refugee relocation expenses, to the tune of some $14 million annually.
Now thanks to our good friend and frequent commenter El Gringo Viejo, your Curmudgeon has been pointed to this illuminating video message, which tells "the rest of the story," so to speak. It turns out that a good portion of the refugees EMM is assisting are not just any refugees, but are Muslims from some of the countries to which America has sent troops, bombs or both: Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq and (soon) Syria. Listen to Ann Corcoran as she explains what she discovered...
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The Prime Minister, fresh from his election victory, has been warned not to listen to "harsh, strident voices", but to lighten burdens and "build one nation".
Last Friday, David Cameron celebrated the "sweetest victory of all", defying the polls by securing an outright majority in a General Election that had been widely predicted to be inconclusive.
The Bishop of Sheffield, Dr Steven Croft, in a blog post written at the start of this week, counsels him to "reach out to the whole nation, to connect with the disaffected, to listen to the people and to be their servant".
The Bishop warns: "There will be those who see the Conservative majority as a mandate to fulfil and go beyond the manifesto commitments, blind to the risk of increasing the burdens of those who already bear the heavy load (of sickness, disability or the struggle to find sustainable employment)."
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Machete-wielding assailants followed Ananta Bijoy Das on Tuesday morning when he left his house in the northeastern city of Sylhet and hacked him to death, police and friends said.
Das wrote for Mukto-Mona, the blog founded by Avijit Roy, a U.S. citizen who was killed in a similar attack outside a book fair in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, in February. Another writer who protested Roy's killing on social media, Washiqur Rahman, was struck down on a Dhaka street in March.
Activists lay blame for the killings on ultraconservative Islamists who have gained prominence recently in the overwhelmingly Muslim country. They have complained about the slow pace of investigations and have accused authorities of allowing a culture of impunity to take hold.
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The Burundian army has declared it is taking control of Burundi in a radio announcement, according to International Business Times in the UK.
Read it all and join me in prayer for Burundi and the church there.
BREAKING: Police vanish from Burundi's capital as thousands of people celebrate coup attempt.— The Associated Press (@AP) May 13, 2015
Booby traps, tunnels, mines and dense woodland cover thousands of miles.
The Nigerian military's push to invade the Sambisa Forest, the last stronghold of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, capture its leader and wipe the group out is delicate, highly dangerous and unlikely to be completely successful, analysts said.
Government forces have taken over numerous Boko Haram bases in the forest in Nigeria's northeast, rescued hundreds of women and children and released aerial images of terrorists retreating, but it has yet to capture the top leaders of the group or many of its fighters.
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More than 300,000 people are without "life-saving" aid in South Sudan's oil-rich Unity state after heavy fighting forced aid agencies to withdraw, the UN has said.
Government forces have been advancing towards Leer, the birthplace of rebel leader Riek Machar, reports say.
Emergency relief has come to a stop in areas worst-affected by fighting, the UN said.
International mediation efforts to end the 17-month conflict have failed.
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The deciding factors in Volvo’s decision to build its first North American manufacturing plant near tiny Ridgeville — population 2,000 or so — have by now become a familiar economic development tune: a nearby seaport that’s efficient and quality workforce training.
It’s what convinced Daimler AG in March to build a campus in North Charleston that will make the company’s popular Sprinter vans. On Monday, Lex Kerssemakers, CEO of Volvo’s American operations, said the Swedish automaker was lured to South Carolina by the same song.
“One of the main criteria is accessibility overseas,” Kerssemakers said, explaining why Volvo chose the spot along Interstate 26 in Berkeley County, about 30 miles from the Port of Charleston. “And we think we will get a good pool of workers. We can make use of an already established recruiting and training program. That makes us feel very confident.”
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The international community stepped in, investigated, and found enough to warrant a further investigation by the International Criminal Court. In the meantime, the country tried to put things back together. By 2010, post-crisis reforms had come into being along with a new constitution that brought about a coalition government.
These were the first few steps toward reconciliation, but they were surface deep, nowhere near the restoration of the people. David Shibley with Global Advance says their organization was called in to help the church rebuild in 2010. God used them as a catalyst; sometimes it takes someone coming from the outside, speaking into a situation, to be the fresh eyes needed. “God graciously used our first Frontline Shepherds Conference there, five years ago, to bring healing and reconciliation. We saw a marvelous move of God’s Spirit as men who had not talked to each other suddenly were embracing each other, asking for forgiveness.”
Since that time, says Shibley, reconciliation efforts reawakened a sense of belonging to one nation. “The pastoral leaders of that area have been used of God to bring a real healing in that area, and now there is tremendous cooperation among most, if not all, of the evangelical churches of that area.”
Then came the al-Shabaab attack on the Nairobi University campus in Garissa in April. 147 Christian college students were killed. “Since that time, there has been a real galvanizing of the Church in Kenya: kind of a ‘snapping to attention’ that I saw,” explains Shibley.
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While Ebola still haunts Guinea and Sierra Leone, where infections have dwindled but refuse to disappear, Liberia has passed a remarkable threshold: at least 42 days since its last Ebola victim was buried, or twice the maximum incubation period of the virus, according to the W.H.O.
Even before reaching that official marker, the nation was trying to stitch itself back together after more than 4,700 deaths from the disease, by far the most of any nation in the epidemic. Liberia has reopened markets, clinics and schools, eager to move past an outbreak so devastating that it “has changed our way of life,” as President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf put it.
Similar efforts are taking place inside churches as well, bedrock institutions in West African society that were at once a place of succor and a source of contagion during the outbreak.
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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.”
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The irony is that only a few years ago, when the legalization of same-sex marriage didn’t appear so inevitable, gay-marriage advocates eagerly assured a skeptical public that scenarios like those above would never happen. Typical was since-retired California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald M. George, who wrote in the 2008 decision legalizing gay marriage in that state: “Affording same-sex couples the opportunity to obtain the designation of marriage will not impinge upon the religious freedom of any religious organization, official, or any other person.”
The victors have dropped their conciliatory stance. Bubonic plague-level hysteria surged through the media, academia and mega-corporate America in March after Indiana passed a law—modeled on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993—that would enable religious believers to opt out of universally applicable laws under some circumstances.
Amid threats of business boycotts, the Indiana legislature amended the law to ensure antidiscrimination protections for gays and lesbians—but not before a pizzeria in Walkerton shut down for a week amid death and arson threats after its Catholic owners told a reporter that, while they would gladly serve gays in their restaurant, they wouldn’t cater a gay wedding.
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The unexpected outright victory of the Conservative party in the General Election shows that "the British people voted for competence", the chief executive of the Conservative Christian Fellowship (CCF) said on Friday.
The result - a majority for the Conservative party, which secured 331 seats to Labour's 232 - contradicted earlier polls which had suggested a neck-and-neck race.
But Colin Bloom of the CCF, who has predicted for weeks that the Conservatives would get at least 326 seats, was unsuprised. Pollsters had "tried to turn politics from an art into a science", he suggested.
While "absolutely delighted" with the result, he was also "conscious that very many good people from various parties have found themselves now out of public service. My thoughts are with them."
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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.
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“I was very active in the progressive community in my law school, and most of my friends were politically active progressives,” he said. “But I was unprepared for their response when word started filtering out that I had enrolled in divinity school. Some of them literally disowned me; my own roommates moved out. Several folks literally stopped speaking to me and acted as if I had lost my mind.”
His own background was thrown in his face, with friends saying: “Chris, you’re a scientist, you’re a chemist, you trained as a chemist as an undergraduate, how could you possibly believe this insane stuff...?”
Coons’s message was deceptively simple: that we must find ways of “getting past some of our misunderstandings of each other.” The problem: Respecting each other on matters of faith and politics seems beyond our current capacities.
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In the corridors of power, at the very highest reaches of government, a form of educational freemasonry holds sway.
It has nothing to do with Eton College, nor even the Bullingdon Club - both far more commonly-cited lightning rods for resentments about class, privilege and the fast track to power.
Instead, the surest ticket to the top - for Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem politicians alike - is surely a degree in politics, philosophy and economics (PPE) at the University of Oxford.
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Britain’s nail-biting election, and the fragile coalition government it seems likely to produce, are confirming many of Washington’s worst fears about the country’s dwindling influence in the world.
Once the US’ most reliable ally, the UK is now seen as a distant player in the crisis over the Ukraine and the euro, has introduced swingeing cuts to its military and recently rebuffed Washington by joining a China-led bank.
On top of that, the Obama administration is waking up to the prospect that the next government in London could be even more inward-looking as it grapples with Britain’s membership of the European Union and strong support for Scottish independence.
US officials say they still value close intelligence and military ties with the UK, but at times sound almost dismissive about the current British government’s reluctance to play a bigger role in the world.
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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have introduced their daughter to the world, as they left hospital to take her home to Kensington Palace.
The princess, whose name has yet to be announced, slept in her mother's arms during her first public appearance outside St Mary's Hospital, in London.
The princess - who is fourth in line to the throne - was delivered at 08:34 BST on Saturday after a short labour.
Read it all and enjoy the pictures.
Arguments over same-sex marriage played out in the U.S. Supreme Courton Tuesday, but many religious groups opposed to gay marriage aren’t waiting for a ruling.
A court ruling expected two months from now could sanction same-sex marriage nationwide. In anticipation, some congregations and religious advocacy groups are re-emphasizing their teachings on marriage, fine-tuning their approach to gays and lesbians and bracing for legal battles and public criticism.
“The outcome of this decision will shape the landscape of the church’s ministry in the U.S. for generations to come,” wrote Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. In an interview, he added, “If we have a redefinition of marriage across the board by judicial decree then the church will have a responsibility more than ever to articulate what marriage is in the first place.”
The Southern Baptist Convention, the U.S.’s largest Protestant denomination, is preparing a video series and booklets on marriage and how to address homosexuality, Mr. Moore said. The church is hosting symposiums for pastors on “teaching the biblical witness to marriage” while also “equipping them to minister to gay and lesbian people who don’t agree with us,” he said.
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Irish people resent being bullied by either Church or State. Yet, ordinary citizens are being intimidated into voting “Yes”. For over a year, the campaign waged by the Government urged on by the media has been relentless. In the final weeks, reason may triumph over emotion. As they prepare to vote, people will ask, reasonably: what are we being asked to change? The simple answer is: human nature.
This referendum touches the very source of our humanity. Human rights are at the heart of the Constitution. Article 41 recognises the family, based on marriage, as the fundamental unit group in Society. As such it has rights which are intrinsic to it, which the State is obliged to recognise and protect. In other words, the family, which existed before either Church or State existed, not only has a real autonomy within society: it is the ultimate source of society. Past and future converge in the family. Through marriage, future generations come into being. A nation’s culture is passed on primarily through the family. Since the dawn of time, the union of man and woman was simply assumed to be the origin of the family. This is what we are being asked to change.
This is not only Church teaching. It is in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, art. 16.3: “The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.” That Declaration was drawn up against the background of two totalitarian regimes: Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union. In the Soviet Union in particular, Marxist socialism tried to eliminate the family. This trend in Marxism — condemned by Pope Leo XIII in 1891 — was radicalised in Communist China in their “one family, one child” policy. The family has to be destroyed in order to exercise complete control over the people. The autonomy of the family is one of the bulwarks against every State’s innate tendency to become totalitarian, our own State included.
Read it all from the Irish Times..
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Natalie Bennett has said her party is “open to consultation” on the possibility of legalising polygamy and civil partnerships involving three or more people.
The Green Party leader was responding to a question from a man living with his two boyfriends in a polyamorous relationship in London on Friday.
Dr Redfern Jon Barrett, taking part in an event organised by Pink News, said people like himself in three-way relationships faced a “considerable amount of legal discrimination”.
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Judge Fabricius, quoted in local media, said the ruling applied only to Mr Stransham-Ford and that future cases would be debated on their merits.
"It is not correct to say from now on it will be a free-for-all," he is quoted as saying.
The justice and health ministers, as well as the Health Professions Council of South Africa, have opposed the legal case.
Dignity SA said it would welcome an appeal as a chance to test the right to die against the constitution, the Associated Press news agency reports.
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The bronze plaques on Main Street silently tell the toll of the two world wars on this small county: 197 men, listed by name but uncategorized by rank or age or branch of service.
Nonetheless, each is identified as “white” or “colored,” lingering evidence of Greenwood County’s segregated past that Greenwood city officials and leaders of the local American Legion post now want to banish from the city’s memorial to the war dead.
But they cannot, at least for now, without defying the South Carolina Legislature and a law born of a compromise so uneasy that even 15 years after it was reached, people fear that any changes to Greenwood’s tribute would spawn another tortured clash about how this state marks its racial history.
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As a church planter and pastor in Baltimore, my soul is burdened with all of the hurt and pain in my city this week. Though it has been encouraging to know that more people from around the country are praying for my city than ever before, right now I wish the city I love could be famous for different reasons.
The injuries sustained by Freddie Gray and his subsequent tragic death in police custody have rallied Baltimore residents, who had peacefully protested for weeks. Based on the coverage from major media outlets, however, one would believe that the protests have been all about random riots, looting, and fires.
I’ve seen many on social media asking why someone would destroy the neighborhoods where they live and that none of this would be happening if people simply made better choices or parents did a better job of raising their kids. However, we must avoid the temptation of letting the media paint us an overly simplistic picture of Baltimore and her issues.
These protests and riots are not merely the culmination of the past few weeks’ events. They are the collective groaning of years of brokenness from systemic sin in our city under a brewing simmer that had finally reached this boiling point.
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Commenting on the oral arguments before the Court, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), said, “Today is a moment of great consequence. Marriage is a perennial institution, with deep roots in who we are and in our nation’s culture and laws. Marriage is and always will be the union between one man and one woman. This truth is inseparable from the duty to honor the God-given dignity of every human person. We pray that the justices will uphold the responsibility of states to protect the beautiful truth of marriage, which concerns the essential well-being of the nation, especially children. Children have a basic right, wherever possible, to know and be loved by their mother and father together. The Church will always defend this right and looks to people of good will to continue this debate with charity and civility.”
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The rise of extremism has left Christians without hope for a future in the birthplace of their faith, according to a new petition to David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband.
Thousands of evangelicals who attended Spring Harvest are calling on the Conservative, LibDem and Labour leaders to set aside party differences and take new steps against persecution of Christians in the Middle East.
The 4,496 Christians warn that the faith is at serious risk of extinction in the region.
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People have been lining up outside the U.S. Supreme Court for days hoping that they will be among the lucky ones to get a seat for Tuesday's historic arguments on gay marriage.
As of now, gay marriage is legal in 36 states. By the end of this Supreme Court term, either same-sex couples will be able to wed in all 50 states, or gay marriage bans may be reinstituted in many of the states where they've previously been struck down.
Tuesday's Supreme Court arguments focus on two questions: First, whether bans on gay marriage are constitutional; and second, if they are, whether those states with bans may refuse to recognize out-of-state gay marriages performed where they are legal.
The court has scheduled an extraordinary 2 1/2 hours of argument and will make the audio available online later Tuesday.
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The governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano, has taken steps to strengthen the existing relationship between his administration and religious organisations, especially the Anglican Communion, in the state.
Governor Obiano, at a dinner he organised for Archbishops and Bishops of the Anglican Communion at the Banquet Hall of the Governor’s Lodge, Amawbia, described the Church and government as partners in progress in the task of changing lives and building a virile society.
The governor expressed the belief that a healthy relationship with all denominations will avail his administration of the much-needed peace and spiritual backing to actualise its lofty dreams for the state.
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No rain in California—which grows half the country’s fruits and vegetables—is a disaster for all of us. But the drought, now entering its fourth year, is also an opportunity. It’s a chance to take a long-needed hard look at how water is used and conserved, how food is grown, and what sustainable development means.
With 80 percent of California’s water usage devoted to agriculture, that’s the first place to make major changes. “Most watering technology is stupid and doesn’t react to the environment,” says CEO Chris Spain of the water technology firm HydroPoint. “We shouldn’t be talking about a 25 percent reduction in water use, but rather a 95 percent elimination of wasted water.” In fact, many California farmers have already become water technicians, measuring soil and leaf moisture content and treating every drop as utterly precious.
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One thing going on is that the major lifestyle and utility improvements of the past generation–really cheap access to communication, information, and entertainment–are overwhelmingly available to pretty much everyone. On the one hand, this means that recent economic growth assessed in terms of individual utility and well-being is much more equal then when assessed in terms of income. On the other hand, it means that access these benefits seems much more like simply the air we breathe then as a marker of class status, or achievement.
Thus a loss of the ability to securely attain enough of economic security to firmly hold the indicators of what past generations saw as middle-class life shows itself as a loss. And those who focus on security rather than on utility do not see these as offset buy the information revolution.
Read it all and please note it is a follow up to this article previously posted.
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Fundraising site GoFundMe has closed the account that was set up to raise money for Aaron and Melissa Klein, Christians and former owners of a bakery in Gresham, Oregon, who were ordered by a judge Friday to pay a fine of $135,000 for declining to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian marriage ceremony.
"After careful review by our team, we have found the 'Support Sweet Cakes By Melissa' campaign to be in violation of our Terms and Conditions," Oregon Live quoted the site as saying in a statement.
"The money raised thus far will still be made available for withdrawal. While a different campaign was recently permitted for a pizzeria in Indiana, no laws were violated and the campaign remained live. However, the subjects of the 'Support Sweet Cakes By Melissa' campaign have been formally charged by local authorities and found to be in violation of Oregon state law concerning discriminatory acts. Accordingly, the campaign has been disabled," it added.
The account had received $109,000 when the site blocked it.
Read it all from the Christian Post.
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
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Twenty-first-century Britain still aspires to be an international player. We may no longer be kingmaker across large swaths of the globe, but we like to see our influence, and our military assets, being used to destabilise and engineer the removal of some of the more unpleasant dictators who strut the world stage.
To go on doing this, in the belief that next time round what will ensue will be a peaceful, human-rights observing, multi-party democracy is getting us close to the classic definition of madness.
The moral cost of our continual overseas interventions has to include accepting a fair share of the victims of the wars to which we have contributed as legitimate refugees in our own land.
Ironically, all the evidence is that families who come and make their homes in Britain, as asylum seekers and through the free movement of European citizens, add to our wealth, increase job opportunities for all and are not a net drain on housing, healthcare or other public resources. The positive case for a steady level of inward migration into the UK is economic as well as moral.
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Archbishop Metropolitan and Primate of Anglican Church of Nigeria, Nicholas Okoh, yesterday, called on President- elect, Muhammadu Buhari not to give any politician who has defected from any party to join the All Progressives Congress (APC), a position in his government.
Most Revd Okoh described the defecting politicians as lacking in credibility.
He said, ,“If I were the President-elect, I will not give them anything because they are not people to be trusted. They lack credibility, they are people who are destroying the country, and they did not work for the party so why are they joining the party now.”
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Czech man Vit Jedlicka has claimed a 7km2 stretch of land on the west bank of the Danube river as the Free Republic of Liberland, after disputes between Serbia and Croatia rendered it technically no man's land.
It's no half-assed attempted at nation formation either – Liberland already has a constitution, flag, coat of arms, official website, Facebook page and a motto: "To live and let live".
Read it all from the Independent.
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The global economy is awash as never before in commodities like oil, cotton and iron ore, but also with capital and labor—a glut that presents several challenges as policy makers struggle to stoke demand.
“What we’re looking at is a low-growth, low-inflation, low-rate environment,” said Megan Greene, chief economist of John Hancock Asset Management, who added that the global economy could spend the next decade “working this off.”
The current state of plenty is confounding on many fronts. The surfeit of commodities depresses prices and stokes concerns of deflation. Global wealth—estimated by Credit Suisse at around $263 trillion, more than double the $117 trillion in 2000—represents a vast supply of savings and capital, helping to hold down interest rates, undermining the power of monetary policy. And the surplus of workers depresses wages.
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So many thought the Arab Spring would allow the region self-determination, and would shift the gaze of the world away from the twin spectres of oil and Israel. Perhaps the world would finally gaze upon Arabs without racism and Islam without bigotry.
The Arab Spring was a resounding protest against everything, from the corruption of the West's corporate cronies - who exploit the region's natural resources so that they can enjoy the latest luxuries their colonial masters have to offer - to the foreign occupations and humiliations heaped upon all those who dared to think that they had a right to resist.
The Arab Spring was about this magical word, hurriyya, which means different things to different people - but at a minimum, it means freedom from oppression, exploitation, corruption and a servile existence.
But the Arab Spring was like a foetus in an abortion clinic; it never had a chance.
Read it all from Khaled Abou El Fadl at ABC Religion and Ethics.
A day of mostly peaceful rallies to protest the death of Freddie Gray turned confrontational as dark fell over Baltimore on Saturday with demonstrators smashing the windows on police cars, blocking traffic near the Inner Harbor and shouting, “Killers!” at officers dressed in riot gear.
More than 100 officers — wearing helmets, gloves and vests and carrying batons — formed a wall along several blocks of Pratt Street, and began to make arrests. State police in full tactical gear were deployed to the city to respond to a crowd that was becoming unruly.
Protesters shouted: “Killers!” and “You can't get away with this!” and “Hands up don't shoot!” Some threw rocks, water bottles, even hot dog buns and condiments at police mounted on horses, smashed windows at local businesses and looted at least one convenience store.Read it all.
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Regrettably, the Times uses Kallam as a pawn in its story while neglecting to state his case.
Not long ago, tmatt suggested in a GetReligion post that "the most important skill in journalism is the ability to accurately state the views of someone with whom you disagree."
Once again, we have a story where a major American newspaper seems to lack the ability — or desire — to do that.
The result: a biased, ...[poor] piece of journalism.
Read it all from Get Religion.
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Few people will pity the dual-earner couples earning more than $100,000 and paying a penalty for being married. But at a time when lower-earning couples are struggling to get by and less likely than ever to be reaping the benefits of marriage for themselves and their children, more should be done to ensure that the tax and welfare system doesn’t punish them for tying the knot.
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A street vendor from Mozambique, Emmanuel Sithole, lay begging for his life in a gutter as four men beat him and stabbed him in the heart with a long knife. Images of his murder have shaken South Africa, already reeling from a wave of attacks on foreigners, mostly poor migrants from the rest of Africa. Soldiers were deployed on April 21st to Alexandra, a Johannesburg township, and other flashpoints to quell the violence, though only after seven people had been killed. Thousands of fearful foreigners, many from Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, have sought refuge in makeshift camps. Others have returned home.
South Africa has experienced such horrors before. During widespread anti-foreign violence in 2008, 62 people were killed and some 100,000 displaced. Photographs of the murder of another Mozambican man, Ernesto Nhamuave, whom a jeering mob burned alive in a squatter camp, led to declarations that such atrocities would never happen again. Yet no one was charged in Mr Nhamuave’s death: the case was closed after a cursory police investigation apparently turned up no witnesses (who were easily found by journalists earlier this year). The latest violence flared up in the Durban area earlier this month after King Goodwill Zwelithini, the traditional leader of the Zulus, reportedly compared foreigners to lice and said that they should pack up and leave.
His comments poured fuel on an already-smouldering fire. Jean Pierre Misago, a researcher at the African Centre for Migration and Society in Johannesburg, estimates that at least 350 foreigners have been killed in xenophobic violence since 2008.
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It’s a myth to suggest people on benefits must be scroungers. Most people in poverty in the UK are working. Of the children living in poverty, 61% have working parents.
When the Living Wage is introduced, everyone benefits. Morale goes up.
When work feels worthwhile, its quality improves. Raising pay to a living wage would reduce the benefits bill, increase tax receipts and boost the economy by stepping up workers’ spending power.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury and Pope Francis have demanded that European nations take in more of the migrants who are fleeing North Africa and the Middle East, days after hundreds were feared to have died after their boats sank in the Mediterranean.
Up to 400 migrants were believed to have drowned when their boat capsized last week, but as many as 900 people could have died after another boat sank near the coast of Libya on Saturday. The deaths prompted Archbishop Welby to call for a united effort to prevent more deaths.
Speaking to the BBC, he said: "We can't say this is one country's responsibility, the one nearest; that's not right. Of course, we have to be aware of the impact of immigration in our own communities, but when people are drowning in the Mediterranean, the need, the misery that has driven them out of their own countries is so extreme, so appalling, that Europe as a whole must rise up and seek to do what's right.
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I AM surely not alone in thinking that there is something desperately lacking in politics today. I have found much of the output from the political parties in the current election campaign deeply depressing. They seem determined to treat voters as children looking for handouts of sweets, concerned with what’s in it for them, rather than as adult human beings who are interested in the kind of world we are making, both for our own generation and for those who will come after us.
For the most part I find it very difficult to work out what people stand for, and so much of the debate is couched in intensely negative terms, focusing on instilling fear about what the other lot might do if they get into power. It is divisive and it is corrosive – and somebody needs to say “Stop!” and then to try and set us off in a different direction.
Christians cannot of course (thank goodness) impose their moral and political vision on the life of our nation. But we can and must seek to contribute to the formation of a new vision for our shared life and a new way of doing politics. This needs to happen right down at the level of every local church and parish – and at the level of our contribution to political debate.
Churches must seek to become beacons of hope and communities of people who are learning to live differently and to refuse the culture of fear and suspicion which so characterises much of life today.
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In his fine book Enlightenment 2.0, philosopher Joseph Heath notes an effusion from former (and prospective) presidential candidate Rick Santorum. The Republican described how in the Netherlands elderly patients are “euthanised involuntarily” and its fearful residents seek medical treatment abroad. Mr Heath observes that Mr Santorum “seemed not to realise that the Netherlands was a real place, where people might hear what he said, and hope to set the record straight”. But Mr Santorum was unmoved; a spokesperson explained to a Dutch reporter, without retraction or apology, that the former senator “says what’s in his heart”.
Truthiness is not confined to the right of the political spectrum. An article in the magazine Rolling Stone provided a graphic description of a horrific gang-rape of “Jackie”, a student at the University of Virginia. Jackie allowed two years to elapse before telling the story to a visiting reporter. After the account was published, the Washington Post sent its own reporter, who established, as did the police, that few of the reported “facts” of the incident checked out. Rolling Stone later withdrew the piece.
But for Jessica Valenti, a columnist at the Guardian, “it doesn’t matter. Jackie is now another woman who is not believed.” Ms Valenti is rightly indignant that so many women in America suffer assaults like the one Jackie alleged, and that true stories of such attacks are often disbelieved. And one can see how that indignation expresses itself in her vow of truthiness: “I choose to believe Jackie. I lose nothing by doing so, even if I’m later proven wrong.”
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The US shale industry has failed to crack as expected. North Sea oil drillers and high-cost producers off the coast of Africa are in dire straits, but America's "flexi-frackers" remain largely unruffled.
One starts to glimpse the extraordinary possibility that the US oil industry could be the last one standing in a long and bitter price war for global market share, or may at least emerge as an energy superpower with greater political staying-power than Opec.
It is 10 months since the global crude market buckled, turning into a full-blown rout in November when Saudi Arabia abandoned its role as the oil world's "Federal Reserve" and opted instead to drive out competitors.
If the purpose was to choke the US "tight oil" industry before it becomes an existential threat - and to choke solar power in the process - it risks going badly awry, though perhaps they had no choice. "There was a strong expectation that the US system would crash. It hasn't," said Atul Arya, from IHS.
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Take the case of former Charlotte, North Carolina, mayor Patrick Cannon. Cannon came from nothing. He overcame poverty and the violent loss of his father at the age of 5. He earned a degree from North Carolina A&T State University and entered public service at the age of 26 — becoming the youngest council member in Charlotte history. He was known for being completely committed to serving the public, and generous with the time he spent as a role model for young people.
But last year, Cannon, 47, pleaded guilty to accepting $50,000 in bribes while in office. As he entered the city’s federal courthouse last June, he tripped and fell. The media was there to capture the fall, which was symbolic of the much bigger fall of an elected leader and small business owner who once embodied the very essence of personal achievement against staggering odds. Cannon now has the distinction of being the first mayor in the city’s history to be sent to prison. Insiders say he was a good man, but all too human, and seemed vulnerable as he became isolated in his decision-making. And while a local minister argued that Cannon’s one lapse in judgment should not define the man and his career of exceptional public service, he is now judged only by his weakness — his dramatic move from humility and generosity to corruption. And that image of Cannon tripping on his way into court is now the image that people associate with him.
What can leaders do if they fear that they might be toeing the line where power turns to abuse of power? First, you must invite other people in. You must be willing to risk vulnerability and ask for feedback. A good executive coach can help you return to a state of empathy and value-driven decisions. However, be sure to ask for feedback from a wide variety of people. Dispense with the softball questions (How am I doing?) and ask the tough ones (How does my style and focus affect my employees?).
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As our economy continues to improve, there is a crushing weight holding many back: payday loans. While state and local leaders have taken up the cause in certain jurisdictions, this is a national problem that requires Congress to act. Unscrupulous lenders lure those who are already facing financial hardship into a debt trap from which it is very difficult to escape.
Drawn by slick marketing, desperate borrowers are induced to accept unfavorable terms they may not fully understand. The cost of a typical payday loan exceeds 300 percent annual percentage rate. By requiring full repayment from the next paycheck, payday lenders virtually guarantee that the borrower will be forced to ask for a new loan, with additional fees and interest, to pay back the old one.
This violates the underwriting standards applied to virtually every other type of loan. Payday loans perpetuate a cycle of debt, poverty and misery.
Three quarters of the fees payday lenders bring in come from borrowers, mostly low income, who have taken out 10 or more loans in a single year. More than half of all payday loans are renewed or rolled over so many times that consumers wind up repaying at least twice the amount they originally borrowed.
Read it all, another from the long queue of should-have-already-been-posted material.
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Nigeria’s military announced last week that it was raiding the Sambisa Forest, one of the last strongholds of Islamist extremist group Boko Haram. Liberating the forest might be the hardest part of the campaign against the group.
Aided by regional troops and foreign mercenaries, Nigeria’s military has managed to take back nearly all of the towns and villages controlled by Boko Haram in Nigeria’s northeast over the past few months.
But one area remains mostly under their control: Sambisa, a massive expanse of forest that spreads thousands of square kilometers over several states.
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Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s Mayor Moses Tucker had to abruptly end Tuesday night’s council meeting when it devolved into yelling, cursing and personal verbal jabs.
As the full house poured out of the council chambers — many livid with council’s decision to approve the demolition of the St. Philip’s Anglican church built in 1894 — two police officers were on hand in the lobby in case the jabs became physical.
Several residents who wanted to attend the meeting were locked out, as the town wouldn’t allow more than 50 people in the room, citing fire regulations.
The Anglican church building became the centre of contention in the town in 2010 when the steeple was toppled after being partially sawed off in the middle of the night. Church officials wanted to tear down the building, and the group Church by the Sea Inc. wanted to turn it into a museum.
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French anti-terror police believe they have foiled an 'imminent" terrorist attack against "one, maybe two churches" in Paris, the interior minister revealed on Wednesday.
"A terrorist attack was foiled on Sunday morning," said France's interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve in an impromptu media briefing.
Cazeneuve revealed announced that a 24-year-old IT student, of French Algerian origins, was arrested on Sunday in possession of a significant arsenal of weapons. It is believed he was intending to carry out an attack that very day.
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When a school learns that one of its alums has achieved great things, the institution will usually seek to promote those accomplishments. But there are exceptions. If it's discovered, for example, that the former student also happens to be a member of the Ku Klux Klan, or a neo-Nazi, or a convicted felon, then the school will naturally seek to downplay the connection — and to sever any explicit ties between them.
To this list of offenses — normally reserved only for bigots and criminals — we can now apparently add opposing same-sex marriage.
Consider the recent experience of Ryan T. Anderson.
A graduate of the Quaker Friends School of Baltimore, Anderson has achieved far more than most 33-year-olds. He completed his undergraduate education at Princeton and earned a Ph.D. from Notre Dame. He has been cited by a Supreme Court justice (Samuel A. Alito, Jr., in his dissent from the majority opinion in United States v. Windsor, which struck down parts of the Defense of Marriage Act). He was recently named the William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow in American Principles and Public Policy at the conservative Heritage Foundation. And last week he was profiled fairly and respectfully in The Washington Post. (Headline: "The right finds a fresh voice on same-sex marriage.")
No wonder someone thought it made sense to post a link to the profile on the school's website.
But then the predictable uproar began. Before long, head of school Matthew W. Micciche had taken down the link and published first a brief and then a lengthier apology for having posted it in the first place. (Both statements were subsequently deleted. The longer one is quoted in its entirety on Anderson's public Facebook page.)
In his longer apology, Micciche expressed "sincere regret" for his "lack of sensitivity" and the "anguish and confusion" and "pain" the link inflicted on members of the school community who thought the link implied that the school was standing behind Anderson's views....
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The Post and Courier on Monday was awarded the year’s most prestigious Pulitzer Prize for its series about the deadly toll that domestic violence takes on South Carolina women.
The Public Service gold medal went to the newspaper for its “Till Death Do Us Part” articles that were published across five editions in August. Reporters Doug Pardue, Glenn Smith, Jennifer Berry Hawes and Natalie Caula Hauff authored the series.
Their work told the tales of domestic abuse survivors and of the 300 women in the Palmetto State who have been shot, stabbed, strangled, beaten, bludgeoned or burned to death by men during the past decade while legislators did little to quell the bloodshed.
A panel of seven judges from news media and academia called the newspaper’s work “riveting.”
Read it all and take the time to read the whole series.
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Speaking on a visit to religious and political leaders in Egypt, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, told the BBC's Lyse Doucet that the whole of Europe must share responsibility in dealing with the problem.
''It will be demanding, and that's why the burden must be spread across the continent, and not taken by just one country or one area, '' he said.
Read it all and listen to the whole BBC video piece (just under 2 1/2 minutes).
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How many megacities does China have? The United Nations puts it at six [that's incorrect]....
China is urbanizing at a staggering rate—in 35 years, it has added more than 500 million people to its cities. As a result, it looks like the world has vastly underestimated the size and scope of growth in China's megacities, defined as those with more than 10 million people, according to a new report by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development.
Please guess the answer before you go and read it all.
The Archbishop of Canterbury was in Cairo yesterday to show solidarity with Egyptian Christians murdered by jihadists two months ago. His visit was made more timely even as it was overshadowed by yet more murders. As he gave letters of condolence to the families of the victims of Islamic State’s last massacre of Christians, IS released sickening video footage of the next.
The latest film from the terrorist organisation holding the Middle East to ransom is as barbaric as anything it has produced. Prefaced with footage of jihadists vandalising Christian churches, the 29-minute video shows militants holding two groups of prisoners who they claim are members of an “enemy Ethiopian church”. Twelve are shown being beheaded on a beach. At least 16 more are shot in the head elsewhere. Both groups are thought to have been murdered in Libya.
Subject to verification of the footage this brings to more than 50 the number of Christians killed by IS in recent weeks. The strategy is clear. The leadership of the so-called caliphate, under pressure in Iraq, is seeking to expand its reign of terror in North Africa and in particular to sabotage efforts to bring stability to Libya.
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WHO said in a statement in April that the organization's Ebola response was "slow and insufficient." "We were not aggressive in alerting the world," and poor communication caused confusion, it said.
Internal WHO emails show that the organization's leadership put off declaring Ebola an international emergency for at least two months starting in June 2014, the AP said March 20. Among the rationales used in the emails was that a declaration "could be seen as a hostile act" to some West African nations.
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The confirmation of the murder of Ethiopian Christians by Daesh (IS) in Libya has been received with deep sadness. These executions that unnecessarily and unjustifiably claim the lives of innocent people, wholly undeserving of this brutality, have unfortunately become far too familiar. Once again we see innocent Christians murdered purely for refusing to renounce their Faith.
The Christians of Egypt and Ethiopia have had a shared heritage for centuries. Being predominantly Orthodox Christian communities with a mutual understanding of life and witness, and a common origin in the Coptic Orthodox Church, they now also share an even greater connection through the blood of these contemporary martyrs.
This sad news came on the day that His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury visited His Holiness Pope Tawadros II in Egypt to personally express his condolences following the similar brutal murder of 21 Coptic Orthodox Christians in Libya by Daesh in February of this year.
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The Economic Growth and Family Fairness Tax Reform Plan, a brainchild of Senators Mike Lee (R-Ut) and Marco Rubio (R-Fl), is designed, in part, to help middle-income families raise their children. Over the past several months, policymakers have argued about the merits of the plan, and analysts have modeled its distributional effects, albeit with widely different results based on a lack of clarity about some of its provisions.
The crowning jewel of the Lee-Rubio plan is a new child tax credit of $2,500—separate from the existing $1,000 Child Tax Credit—with no phase out for higher income families. Based on our current understanding of the plan, very few if any lower-income families with children would benefit, while the annual cost of extending this tax relief to middle-class and wealthy families is $414 billion.
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Mario Draghi said the euro area was better equipped than it had been in the past to deal with a new Greek crisis but warned of “uncharted waters” if the situation were to deteriorate badly.
The European Central Bank president called for the resumption of detailed discussions aimed at resolving the country’s debt woes and urged the Greek authorities to bring forward proposals that ensured fairness, growth, fiscal stability, financial stability.
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For those who survived the Oklahoma City bombing, this is a tough milestone, but it's also a moment to honor their resilience.
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Look at them all.
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Dan Price was about a mile into a Sunday hike on scenic Mt. Si when he knew what he had to do to change his life — and the lives of others.
His hiking partner and close friend had just been notified that her rent was going up. She had no idea how she would afford the extra couple hundred dollars a month on her salary as the hardworking manager of a luxury spa in pricey Puget Sound.
That's when it hit him. Many of his own employees at Gravity Payments had similar money problems. He was making $1million a year, and the lowest-paid of his workers was averaging about $35,000.
So he decided he would cut his pay, first to $50,000, rising to $70,000 by the end of 2017.
CEO raises workers' minimum pay to $70,000 a year
Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments, reportedly stunned his employees with the announcement that workers' minimum wage would rise over the next few years to $70,000.
That would make his compensation mirror his company's lowest-paid employees — after he gave them generous raises.
Read it all and take the time to see this brief video report so you can see the worker's reactions.
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Even worse for Democrats, the Saez paper found that “information about inequality also makes respondents trust government less,” decreasing “by nearly twenty percent the share of respondents who ‘trust government’ most of the time:”
Hence, emphasizing the severity of a social or economic problem appears to undercut respondents’ willingness to trust the government to fix it — the existence of the problem could act as evidence of the government’s limited capacity to improve outcomes.
The findings of the Saez group are consistent with Luttig’s. Taken together, they suggest that even if Democrats win the presidency and the Senate in 2016, largely on the basis of favorable demographic trends, the party will confront serious hurdles if it attempts to deliver material support to working men and women and the very poor. Redistribution is in trouble, and that is likely to tie American politics in knots for many years to come.
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Some religious leaders have been quick to bless the “framework agreement” with Iran that emerged from deliberations earlier this month in Switzerland over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. That was a mistake.
Christian pastors and lobbyists representing various factions of Mennonites, Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists and other denominations took out a full-page ad in Roll Call this week to “welcome and support” a deal they say “offers the best path to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear-armed state.” The letter cited Matthew 5:9—“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God”—as one Biblical motive for endorsing the framework. It also ticked off reasons why it was “better than alternatives” like “yet another U.S. war with a Muslim country.”
Pope Francis lent his imprimatur to the framework during his Easter blessing, and in an April 13 letter to Congress the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops went so far as to oppose congressional review. The bishops wrote: “Our Committee continues to oppose Congressional efforts that seek to undermine the negotiation process or make a responsible multiparty agreement more difficult to achieve and implement.” Bishops also reminded Congress not to “take any actions, such as passing legislation to impose new or conditional sanctions on Iran.”
The mullahs don’t seem moved by the display of Christian charity.
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Armen Keteyian: Describe your emotional state at that point in time.
Mike Pressler: Really pissed. Really shocked that they would have this party first and foremost. But anyway, I asked each one of 'em to their face, one at a time. The astonishment on their face. And when you know your people, I knew exactly from their reaction to the allegations this was absolutely untrue.
The problem was, few others did. This is how the late Ed Bradley described the media storm surrounding the Duke rape case here on "60 Minutes":
The district attorney, Mike Nifong, took to the airwaves giving dozens of interviews, expressing - with absolute certainty - that Duke lacrosse players had committed a horrific crime.
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On bringing back certain moral vocabulary
There are certain words that have been passed down through the generations that we've sort of left behind. And some of them have quasi-religious connotations, but I don't think they need to. Those are words like grace — the idea that we're loved more than we deserve — redemption and sin. We now use the word sin in the context of fattening desserts, but it used to be central in the vocabulary, whether you're religious or not; an awareness that we all sin and we all have the same sins — selfishness, self-centeredness. And I think rediscovering that word is an important task because without that you're just too egotistical. You don't realize how broken we all are at some level.
On how writing and researching the book changed his religious life
I'm a believer. I don't talk about my religious life in public in part because it's so shifting and green and vulnerable. And so I've spent a lot of time in this book — and if you care about morality and inner life and character, you spend your time reading a lot of theology because over the last hundreds of years it was theologians who were writing about this. Whether you're a believer or not, I think these books are very helpful. It's amazing to read [The Confessions of St. Augustine, about] a guy who got successful as a rhetorician but felt hollow inside; a guy who had a mom, Monica, who was the helicopter mom to beat all helicopter moms, and how he dealt with the conflict with such a demanding mother. And so I read a lot of theology — whether it's C.S. Lewis or Joseph Soloveitchik, a rabbi — and it's produced a lot of religious upsurge in my heart. But it's also fragile and green [and] I don't really talk about it because I don't want to trample the fresh grass.
Read it all (or better) listen to it all (Hat tip: CM).
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It was never hard to see the influence of Methodism, born as a reaction to the complacency and privilege of 18th-century Anglicanism, on Mrs Thatcher. She believed in thrift and hard work, and liked the advice of John Wesley, Methodism’s founder, to earn, save and only then give as much as possible. The acts of generosity listed in the New Testament, from the Good Samaritan’s to that of the woman who anointed Christ’s feet, were possible only because the donors had money, she noted.
But in other ways, Mrs Thatcher moved away from Methodism, and it moved away from her. As she ascended firmly to the upper middle class, she began attending Anglican church. Conspicuous consumption and debt-fuelled growth, often seen as legacies of the Thatcher era, could hardly be further from Methodist values. And in her native east Midlands, Methodist communities and ministers were active in defending coalminers during the strike which she defeated. Methodism has influenced Britain’s centre-left far more than its political right.
In explaining her denominational switch, Mrs Thatcher said that Methodism was “a marvellous evangelical faith” with great music—but “you sometimes feel the need for a slightly more formal service” as well as for more formal theology. In her religious origins, she was informed by a passion that was foreign to the English establishment. But as that puritan passion propelled her into high office, its sharp edges were blunted. The Ritz hotel is an unlikely place for a Methodist woman from the Midlands to end her days.
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