Posted by Kendall Harmon




Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland--Scotland--WalesEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 24, 2016 at 2:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all from the Onion LOL.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* General InterestHumor / Trivia* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope

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Posted June 24, 2016 at 4:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, rather than economic prosperity, political sovereignty or national greatness, are the condition and possibility of movement into new kinds of relationship with God and neighbour. Yet this conversion demands that as humans we orientate ourselves in a particular way to living in time and the experience of flux and transition that is constitutive of being temporal creatures. Such an orientation rules out a nostalgic division that poses the past as good and the present as intrinsically bad, as well as making judgments about who is and who is not on the "right side of history."

Rather, ways must be found to identify with Christ and thereby dis-identify with the historical idols and cultural systems of domination within which human life is always and already entangled. Politics, understood as action in time through which forms of peaceable common life are cultivated, is a necessary part of any such process of discovery. However, the tragic dimensions of social and political life cannot be avoided and failure is often the result. Yet faith, hope and love demands the risk still be taken.

Some will judge what I am saying as merely swapping one kind of dangerous sentimentalism for another. Nevertheless, I beg those who consider themselves Christians to take up forms of politics orientated to faith, hope and love, yet alive to the fragility of ourselves, others and the world around us and to ignore the siren calls of the politics of nostalgia.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheodicy

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Posted June 24, 2016 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a hard-fought and at times bruising campaign, it has been clear that debate about Europe has allowed a number of difficult issues to come to the surface. The debate and the patterns of voting suggest that our politicians in recent years may not have paid sufficient attention to some of the deeper issues which are present in our life. The inevitable and necessary period of reflection which must now follow will allow space for questions of poverty and immigration to be explored.

Those of us who live in Scotland are aware that the outcome of the Referendum is potentially of great significance. We hope that our politicians on all sides will take time for careful reflection and consultation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--ScotlandEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 24, 2016 at 11:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The natural inclination of the Church has been internationalist, because our Christian faith does not recognise borders but sees the world and all its people as one. We are part of a world-wide community with a responsibility to one another and the whole of creation. Over recent years, the urgency of taking that international responsibility seriously has become more clear as global poverty, environmental degradation, and the refugee catastrophe call us to find co-operative and international responses.

It feels as though this vote is a vote against that spirit of international co-operation and those who have campaigned to leave have rarely addressed some of the issues that we in the Church of Scotland feel are crucial. Least of all,this vote hardly seems to be an act of solidarity even with our friends in places like Greece, which is going through so much turmoil at the moment both economically and in bearing the brunt of the refugee crisis.

Today, it is important to recognise that those who were our neighbours yesterday are still our neighbours today.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all and there is more here including:
People in Britain have expressed their discontent with the structures of the EU. Actually, these discontents are widely shared by other Europeans. I hope that EU leaders and officials are able to bring about the reform to European political structures that is needed for these structures to endure. And I pray that they do endure. Because they were constructed to serve the cause of peace and reconciliation after the two terrible world wars. The task of reconciliation is never done, and I want my children and grandchildren to enjoy the kind of European peace which my generation has known.

In the meantime, I continue my own work of pastoring our European diocese, sharing the good news of Jesus and encouraging people in their faith. I pray for the future of the United Kingdom and of our European continent. I long for our continent to be a place of faith, of hope and of neighbourly care, with political institutions that serve the cause of justice, peace and prosperity.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 24, 2016 at 8:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The country has just taken part in a giant democratic exercise – perhaps the biggest in our history. Over 33 million people – from England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar – have all had their say.

We should be proud of the fact that in these islands we trust the people with these big decisions.

We not only have a parliamentary democracy, but on questions about the arrangements for how we are governed, there are times when it is right to ask the people themselves, and that is what we have done.

The British people have voted to leave the European Union and their will must be respected.

I want to thank everyone who took part in the campaign on my side of the argument, including all those who put aside party differences to speak in what they believed was the national interest.

And let me congratulate all those who took part in the Leave campaign – for the spirited and passionate case that they made.

The will of the British people is an instruction that must be delivered. It was not a decision that was taken lightly, not least because so many things were said by so many different organisations about the significance of this decision.

So there can be no doubt about the result.

Across the world people have been watching the choice that Britain has made. I would reassure those markets and investors that Britain’s economy is fundamentally strong.

And I would also reassure Brits living in European countries, and European citizens living here, that there will be no immediate changes in your circumstances. There will be no initial change in the way our people can travel, in the way our goods can move or the way our services can be sold.

We must now prepare for a negotiation with the European Union. This will need to involve the full engagement of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland governments to ensure that the interests of all parts of our United Kingdom are protected and advanced.

But above all this will require strong, determined and committed leadership.

I am very proud and very honoured to have been Prime Minister of this country for 6 years.

I believe we have made great steps, with more people in work than ever before in our history, with reforms to welfare and education, increasing people’s life chances, building a bigger and stronger society, keeping our promises to the poorest people in the world, and enabling those who love each other to get married whatever their sexuality.

But above all restoring Britain’s economic strength, and I am grateful to everyone who has helped to make that happen.

I have also always believed that we have to confront big decisions – not duck them.

That’s why we delivered the first coalition government in 70 years to bring our economy back from the brink. It’s why we delivered a fair, legal and decisive referendum in Scotland. And why I made the pledge to renegotiate Britain’s position in the European Union and hold a referendum on our membership, and have carried those things out.

I fought this campaign in the only way I know how – which is to say directly and passionately what I think and feel – head, heart and soul.

I held nothing back.

I was absolutely clear about my belief that Britain is stronger, safer and better off inside the European Union, and I made clear the referendum was about this and this alone – not the future of any single politician, including myself.

But the British people have made a very clear decision to take a different path, and as such I think the country requires fresh leadership to take it in this direction.

I will do everything I can as Prime Minister to steady the ship over the coming weeks and months, but I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination.

This is not a decision I have taken lightly, but I do believe it is in the national interest to have a period of stability and then the new leadership required.

There is no need for a precise timetable today, but in my view we should aim to have a new Prime Minister in place by the start of the Conservative party conference in October.

Delivering stability will be important and I will continue in post as Prime Minister with my Cabinet for the next 3 months. The Cabinet will meet on Monday.

The Governor of the Bank of England is making a statement about the steps that the Bank and the Treasury are taking to reassure financial markets. We will also continue taking forward the important legislation that we set before Parliament in the Queen’s Speech. And I have spoken to Her Majesty the Queen this morning to advise her of the steps that I am taking.

A negotiation with the European Union will need to begin under a new Prime Minister, and I think it is right that this new Prime Minister takes the decision about when to trigger Article 50 and start the formal and legal process of leaving the EU.

I will attend the European Council next week to explain the decision the British people have taken and my own decision.

The British people have made a choice. That not only needs to be respected – but those on the losing side of the argument, myself included, should help to make it work.

Britain is a special country.

We have so many great advantages.

A parliamentary democracy where we resolve great issues about our future through peaceful debate.

A great trading nation, with our science and arts, our engineering and our creativity respected the world over.

And while we are not perfect, I do believe we can be a model of a multi-racial, multi-faith democracy, where people can come and make a contribution and rise to the very highest that their talent allows.

Although leaving Europe was not the path I recommended, I am the first to praise our incredible strengths. I have said before that Britain can survive outside the European Union, and indeed that we could find a way.

Now the decision has been made to leave, we need to find the best way, and I will do everything I can to help.

I love this country – and I feel honoured to have served it.

And I will do everything I can in future to help this great country succeed.

From there

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 24, 2016 at 6:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The outcome of the EU referendum is now clear.
Within our parishes and across our country, people will be reflecting on the result in different ways. Those who voted Leave will be happy that their voice was heard, and hopeful for our country’s future outside the EU. For those who voted Remain, this will be a day of profound regret and even sorrow. The close final result will only have strengthened these feelings all round.
There will also be those who have felt disengaged from the long political campaign, and who still feel dismayed at the bitterness with which it was often conducted. It will be vital for us all, as we accept the result and deal with what it means, to understand and respect those who take different views of the same event.
In the debates that will come, we will be most effective if we now seek to heal the divisions of the past campaign. However, those divisions were about such deep issues of national identity and indeed self-identity that doing so will be a difficult and costly task. In the Church, it will be achieved through a renewed focus on what is unchanged, and on what is unchangeable.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 24, 2016 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On Thursday, millions of people from across the United Kingdom voted in the Referendum, and a majority expressed a desire that Britain’s future is to be outside the European Union.

The outcome of this referendum has been determined by the people of this country. It is now the responsibility of the Government, with the support of Parliament, to take full account of the outcome of the referendum, and, in the light of this, decide upon the next steps. This morning, the Prime Minister has offered a framework for when this process might formally begin.

”The vote to withdraw from the European Union means that now we must all reimagine both what it means to be the United Kingdom in an interdependent world, and what values and virtues should shape and guide our relationships with others.

“As citizens of the United Kingdom, whatever our views during the referendum campaign, we must now unite in a common task to build a generous and forward-looking country, contributing to human flourishing around the world. We must remain hospitable and compassionate, builders of bridges and not barriers. Many of those living among us and alongside us as neighbours, friends and work colleagues come from overseas and some will feel a deep sense of insecurity. We must respond by offering reassurance, by cherishing our wonderfully diverse society, and by affirming the unique contribution of each and every one.

”The referendum campaign has been vigorous and, at times, has caused hurt to those on one side or the other. We must therefore act with humility and courage — being true to the principles that make the very best of our nation. Unity, hope, and generosity will enable us to overcome the period of transition that will now happen, and to emerge confident and successful. The opportunities and challenges that face us as a nation and as global citizens are too significant for us to settle for less.

”As those who hope and trust in the living God let us pray for all our leaders, especially for Prime Minster David Cameron in his remaining months in office. We also pray for leaders across Europe, and around the world, as they face this dramatic change. Let us pray especially that we may go forward to build a good United Kingdom that, though relating to the rest of Europe in a new way will play its part amongst the nations in the pursuit of the common good throughout the world.”

(Found in a number of places including there).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Archbishop of York John Sentamu* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 24, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The goal is to unwind Britain’s 43-year membership of the bloc, disentangle and sever the legacy of shared sovereignty, and then reshape the biggest single market on earth.
Three fundamental issues arise.
On substance, what political and commercial arrangements will Brexit Britain demand and will the EU accept them?
In execution, will the exit deal — the divorce and breaking of old obligations — be struck at the same time as a trade agreement covering post-Brexit trade? And if no, is a transition possible to ensure a soft landing?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankStock MarketForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland--Scotland--WalesEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 24, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are better and worse reasons for voting to leave and voting to remain. Thus, it is the responsibility of evangelicals to find the best in the arguments they disagree with.

There is a danger when Christians try to play a trump card, such as: “My case is better for missions”; “my case is better for defending Christian freedoms”; “my case enables me to love my neighbor”; “my case frees us from secular un-Christian institutions.” These arguments try to shut down debate. You can love your neighbor and want to vote to leave. And you can believe the EU is a deeply secular institution often intolerant towards Christians, and still believe that membership is best.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 23, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We are told too, with the gun of moral blackmail held to our temples, that Europe's strategic order will unravel if we pick at the EU thread, but this an evasion. The EU is unraveling already because the status quo is intolerable and a failed currency project is sapping its credibility. It is far from self-evident that this supranational venture should be saved in anything like its existing form.

There are certainly grave threats to the world economy, but none have anything to do with Brexit. China's latest mini-boom is already topping, and nobody knows whether the Communist Party has reached the limits of its $28 trillion experiment with credit.

We are seven years into this global cycle and signs of ageing are too obvious to ignore, not least the collapse in US bond yields to depression levels. "More Economic Signs Point to a US Recession", warned a front-page headline across the Wall Street Journal this week. The labour market has buckled. Car sales have slipped. Business investment and profits are both falling....But whether we vote Leave or Remain will not change any of this. All we can do when the next global recession hits is to fall back on Britain's tested institutions and our own elected Parliament to protect us. The EU certainly can't.

Read it all from the Telegraph.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 23, 2016 at 5:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

First, we might well offer a prayer of thanksgiving that we live in a democratic society, where our vote really counts, and where we can freely and safely exercise it. A vote is a valuable commodity!
Second, we might well offer a prayer for wisdom, as we make our decision. This is the kind of decision usually delegated to Parliament alone. The referendum gives us a sense of the vital and life–changing decisions with which we entrust our politicians, and on which we often comment from the safe distance of not having to make them ourselves. Now it is our turn.
Third, we might intercede with God that his sovereignty would reign above all other sovereignties in this knife–edge of a vote.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Ireland* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--IrelandEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 22, 2016 at 11:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In 2001 the churches in Europe jointly and boldly pronounced in Charta Oecumenica a support for a process destined to bring Europe closer together. Churches in the same document stated that “without common values, unity cannot endure.” Now, 15 years later, we find ourselves in a situation in which increasingly vocal political parties and groupings argue against further political and economic integration on our continent. What seemed a logical position 15 years ago seems less evident today. Rather, we see a growing body of opinion that has lost faith in the promise of a united Europe, that distrusts political elites, and that would like to renationalise policies....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 22, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Reflecting on the forthcoming vote, we recognise the historic nature of this referendum and its implications for future generations. The outcome will have consequences for the future not only of the United Kingdom, but for Europe and for the world.

In our view, three things are essential:

• that we pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit;
• that we all inform ourselves of the arguments on both sides of the debate;
• that we each exercise our vote with a view to the common good of all.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--WalesEurope* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 22, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...[Bp Nwokolov] said, “There is a gross imbalance in political appointments in the state. Anglican faithful in the state are shortchanged and marginalised from occupying government positions.

“It’s incumbent on the current administration in the state to strike a balance as well as adopt the principle of equity and fair play in political appointments in order not to relegate any section of the state to the background.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Theology

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Posted June 21, 2016 at 4:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There will be many here who have worried. Those who will go to their surgeries and worry their friends and families. There are the worries, the anxieties, the deep concerns, around our nation – from different views, but anxieties about its future.

And there are the deep and profound anxieties that are lived out daily by those to whom Jo went in Syria, in Darfur and in so many other places, and where she gave her love, as well as in her own constituency.

The promise is that when all is in the hands of God, our deepest anxieties – even our anxieties about the future of our nation, about its stability and about all that makes it what it has been – even those are overcome by the peace of God, which dispels anxiety, brings hope and enables us above all, at the end of all things, to draw together in the confidence that not only our lives but our history is in the hand of God. That not only our joys – the joy of the life that gave joy – but also our sorrows at their lowest are kept and held by God, who will bless us and bless you; who will bless each life in this nation as we turn to him in our need.

May God’s blessing rest upon us. Amen.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Theology

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Posted June 21, 2016 at 3:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Don’t you just love the Church of England’s concept of ‘neutrality’ in the matter of the EU Referendum? A whole sea of bishops has endorsed the Remain campaign (that list has since extended, and is still doing so, and not a single one has demurred over the Cameron-Osborne strategy of terrorising the electorate with ‘Project Fear’). The Archbishop of York declared for Remain a few days ago, and now the Archbishop of Canterbury has done the same (with an emotive video appeal) following his recent smearing of a prominent BeLeaver with the allegation of “legitimising racism”. This coordinated completely coincidental archiepiscopal outpouring of Europhilia comes just a fortnight before the crunch vote which will determine whether we remain party to European political integration, or revert simply to being a member of a looser trade bloc, which is what we were told we were joining in 1973, and so affirmed in 1975. The Prime Minister must be delighted that the Established Church is doing the Establishment’s bidding.

Justin Welby is keen to stress that the Church of England does not have an official line on the EU Referendum. It’s just that it appears so. Imagine if the Government had declared itself to be neutral on the matter, and one by one the Cabinet had toured the TV studios to endorse ‘Stronger In’ while slagging off leading BeLeavers. Do you not think people might detect a hint of predisposition, if not a prejudiced and pre-ordained agenda? It is surely a façade of institutional neutrality which permits the full weight of its collective leadership not merely to express a “personal view”, but to dedicate its entire Church House and Bishopthorpe/Lambeth Palace communications machinery (and so staff and financial resources) to ensure the effective dissemination of that message in the national and social media. This amounts to a ‘non-party campaign‘ under Electoral Commission rules. And to endorse ‘Remain’ with appeals to Christian moral responsibility, as John Sentamu does, is verging on the abuse of religious office and the exertion of undue spiritual influence, which, for some, is a grave matter indeed.

This is not an argument for bishops and archbishops to butt out of the secular political sphere (if such a thing exists): it is a plea for spiritual integrity and reflexive honesty in institutional positionality. One could not credibly assert that the institution of Monarchy is politically neutral on the matter of EU membership if the Queen slags off Boris/Gove/Farage while the Prince of Wales and Duke of Cambridge are singing the enlightened praises ‘Remain’. The institution of Monarchy is not castles, palaces and Crown Jewels: it is princes and kings – living people – in communion with history and ancestry. And so it is with the Church of England: the church is its people. When bishops and archbishops unite to express a unanimous view, it is the church that speaks. Their professed Referendum ‘neutrality’ is a convenient agnostic cloak for a pathological Europhile disposition: everyone knows it’s a ruse to sustain the peace between the pro-EU bishops and the majority Brexit-leaning laity. There is no convenient via media in this referendum: either we remain or leave. It is a very un-Anglican assignation.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury Anglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope

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Posted June 20, 2016 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The referendum has lit the blue touchpaper on a "debate" which is almost entirely undefined in its scope. As we have seen over the past weeks, everything and anything can be dragged into the campaign - which has been used by many as a proxy for every grievance they might have about politics and the political process.

So, we have been in a game with no game plan and no rules of conduct.

What has happened is detrimental to politics and the political process. Both sides have used misleading figures and information to conduct an argument that has been more like a childish spat in the playground than a measured examination of the issues. The electorate have been fed with ever more cooked statistics and exaggeration. It's virtually impossible for the average voter to discover some facts....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 20, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Whether in this referendum or in politics in the coming years, the task of the church is to be incarnate. Politicians of all stripes are sons and daughters of God. They are created in his image, and are given authority by the Creator of all things.

We must be present. It was what Jo Cox was doing when she was killed. She was present in her community; she was listening to those who elected her; she was serving on the front line. That’s a place of mission if ever I saw one.

The church should be a place of reconciliation and of healing. It should be a place where battling sides can come together, and where disagreement is not final.

And evangelical Christians should be the first to step up to serve in politics in a world that has never needed leadership as much as it does today.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 20, 2016 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Our leaving the EU after 43 years of membership would in effect be a divorce. We entered into a contract when we acceded to the Treaty of Rome on 1 January 1973, and now we want to exit the contract. Divorce is a tragic reality in our modern world, and it happens for all sorts of reasons, but that does not make it God’s ideal. On the contrary, he wants us to do everything we can to honour the contracts we freely enter into. ‘When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said’ (Numbers 30:2). The leave camp argues that the EU has morphed into an undemocratic monolith which is a totally different beast from the loose ‘Common Market’ which we joined in 1973. But this a specious argument. As a nation we signed up to the rules of the club (including its voting rules and their amendment over the years) and we have put our name on those treaties (particularly Maastricht in 1992 and Lisbon in 2007) which created today’s EU. If a marriage is struggling, our first duty as Christians is to work to save it, not to rush headlong for the exit. So too should be our attitude to membership of the EU.

As I say, many Christians will take a different view from mine. But what is clear is that our membership of the European Union has a moral and theological dimension as well as an economic and political one. Christians must consider this dimension before they cast their vote on 23 June.

Read it all and it can be found elsewhere also.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchRural/Town Life* Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

15 Comments
Posted June 20, 2016 at 10:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A prayer vigil was held last night in St Peter’s, Birstall, after the murder of Jo Cox, MP for Batley and Spen, outside her constituency advice surgery in the West Yorkshire town.

The Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, and the Bishop of Huddersfield, the Rt Revd Jonathan Gibbs, took part in the service, which was attended by about 300 constituents, as well as fellow MPs, among them Yvette Cooper, Naz Shah, Dan Jarvis, Rachel Reeves, and Mary Creagh.

Bishop Gibbs told mourners that the attack on the 41-year-old mother of two had left people “overwhelmed by shock, grief and a sense of loss.

“We are here for each other, and I know and I hope and I pray that we will be here for each other in the days ahead,” he said. “’Jo grew up in this community, she loved this community and she served this community. And, in the end, she gave her life for this community.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 17, 2016 at 6:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

South Carolina’s two U.S. senators offered two stylistically different but equally emotional reflections to commemorate the anniversary of the Emanuel AME Church shooting.

Each speech — delivered in succession on the Senate floor Thursday on the eve of the anniversary — was in keeping with the lawmakers’ personalities and reputations among their colleagues on Capitol Hill.

Sen. Tim Scott spoke in a deep sorrowful baritone from prepared remarks about the night of June 17, 2015, when Dylann Roof admitted to ending a Bible study by opening fire and killing nine black parishioners.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryAdult EducationDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralSenate* South Carolina

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Posted June 17, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I have met Jo many times, but an interview just before Christmas in the House of Commons stands out. I couldn’t help but be impressed by her journey from Heckmondwike, West Yorkshire, to Cambridge University, the charity sector then to the House of Commons. I was met with a hug - most rare in Parliament I can assure you - and we chatted for an hour about her life over a cup of tea. I think it might have been one of the first times she had sat and taken stock of what she had achieved. Anyone who knew Jo knows she was a tiny woman, absolutely petite, with a blunt brown bob, with a love of bright scarves that always made her stand out in Parliament. You weren’t to be fooled by that diminutive stature though. Sarah Champion MP for Rotherham described her a lion, and I’d agree. She was incredibly fit, and is such a dare-devil she found out she was pregnant with her son while climbing on the Isle of Skye in Scotland.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyMediaViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted June 17, 2016 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An MP has died after she was shot and stabbed in a "horrific" assault in her constituency, police have said.

Jo Cox, Labour MP for Batley and Spen, was left bleeding on the ground after the attack in Birstall, West Yorkshire. A man was arrested nearby....

Tributes flooded in from politicians including David Cameron, Jeremy Corbyn and US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Mrs Cox's husband Brendan said she would want people "to unite to fight against the hatred that killed her."

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted June 16, 2016 at 5:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Are there political implications to much of what takes place at an SBC gathering? Of course there are. You'd have to be blind not to see that. However, it is just as important to listen to the debates about WHY the convention takes some of the stands that it does.

It was nice of AP, in a piece containing very few attributions for quotes from real people, to note that the SBC has not changed its doctrinal stand on the moral status of sexual acts outside of marriage. It would have been nice, however, to have allowed readers to see a few quotes from actual Southern Baptists describing why they supported one type of action for the powerful people who lead the Disney corporation, yet another set of actions for the LGBT victims of a hateful act of terrorism.

Once again, journalists do not have to AGREE with the theological content of these arguments and decisions. But it is inaccurate, flawed, biased journalism to ignore the religious content of these kinds of events. By the way, this happens when journalists cover liberal, "mainline" Protestant events almost as often as it happens with coverage of doctrinal conservatives.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMediaReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists* TheologyApologeticsEthics / Moral TheologySoteriology

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Posted June 16, 2016 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsStock MarketForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 15, 2016 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The prospect of Britons voting to leave the EU next week fuelled global market upheaval on Tuesday, with investors rushing for safety and sending the UK currency and stocks to their lowest levels in months.
The accelerating shift, which came after a trio of opinion polls showed Leave leading by significant margins, was most marked in government bonds, where a series of records were smashed as cash flowed into the relative security of sovereign debt.

German 10-year Bunds traded with interest rates below zero for the first time after Japan’s benchmark fell to a new low of minus 0.185 per cent. The UK’s 10-year gilt yield recorded a new low, and the 30-year bond dropped below 2 per cent for the first time.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsStock MarketForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 14, 2016 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What is going on? There is an honorable, decent case for Britain to stay in the union. The problem for the Remain camp is that no one has been making it.

Throughout the campaign, the Remainers have highlighted “experts” from bodies like the International Monetary Fund, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Bank of England, which all think that Britain should stay. They talk of being “shut out” of the room where decisions are made in Brussels.

These warnings sound like the neuroses of career politicians, not the concerns of the public, who see things very differently. Ordinary voters are weighing what is best for National Health Service hospitals and public services. By making the case from a political elite’s perspective, the Remain campaign has alienated, even antagonized, voters.

Instead of advancing arguments, Remainers have resorted to a campaign of exaggeration and intimidation. Vote to leave, they suggest, and food prices will rise. Farming will fold, science will suffer, financiers will flee. Trade will tumble, there will be a global recession. And World War III, apparently.

Far from persuading people, these confected claims come across as hectoring and supercilious.

Read it all from todays NYT op-ed page.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsStock MarketForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 14, 2016 at 11:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Check them all out.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* General InterestPhotos/Photography* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted June 12, 2016 at 5:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The 23rd June is a date on which we happily do not literally have to fight for our freedom or future, but we are going to make a choice that will change the lives of all of us, and the next generations, both for this country and indirectly for much of Europe. That choice should be made with the same ambition and vaulting idealism as those who gave so much in both wars.

Sacrifice, generosity, vision beyond self-interest, suffering for others, helping the helpless, these are some of the deeply Christian principles that have shaped us. They are principles that show us at our best, as an example to other countries, as a home of freedom and democracy, as a beacon of hope that shines around a dark world. They are forward looking virtues. Those who fought in two world wars were not looking back but forward. Those who built the EU after the two wars, in which millions of Europeans had died, looked forward.

The vision for our future cannot be only about ourselves. We are most human when we exist for others.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 12, 2016 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mpho Tutu-van Furth had to give up her priest’s licence last month when she married a woman. But she believes the Anglican Church of Southern Africa will — with a little divine intervention — come to embrace same-sex marriages....

In May in Franschhoek‚ Tutu married Professor Marcelina van Furth‚ a paediatrician who researches infectious diseases at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. The union had the blessing of her parents‚ Archbishop Emeritus Desmond and Leah Tutu.

Van Furth is an atheist – but this has not posed a problem. “It seems to work quite well‚” says Tutu-Van Furth. “I respect her atheism‚ and she's interested in Christianity. She comes to church with me‚ sits in a pew‚ listens to the teaching and asks me about it. She sinks into being a peaceful place and meditates while I pray‚ and that's also fine....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Southern Africa* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSouth Africa* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 11, 2016 at 12:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In life there is much to fear. Over and again the Psalm describes those things we might be afraid of – the fears we harbour individually as well as the fears we share corporately. Fear makes us want to flee – from God, from one another, often even from ourselves. But over and again that fear is turned into wonder as we see that God is before, behind and beyond it.

Over the 63 years and the 90 years there has been much to fear: at times of personal challenge or national crisis. But just as the psalmist sees through fear to something more stirring and more extraordinary, so we look back on Your Majesty’s 90 years in the life of our nation with deep wonder and profound gratitude. Through war and hardship, through turmoil and change, we have been fearfully and wonderfully sustained.

The one who turns fear to wonder is Jesus.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted June 10, 2016 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On March 28, however, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced a revision. The phrase “freedom of worship” would be changed to “freedom of religion.” The notice came in a letter from the agency’s director, Leon Rodriguez, to Sen. James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican who called for the correction last year.

The switch allows the naturalization exam to reflect the actual language of the Constitution: The word “worship” does not appear anywhere in its text, whereas the First Amendment promises “the free exercise” of “religion.” This might look like a slight edit, trivial at best and pedantic at worst. Isn’t “freedom of worship” the same thing as “freedom of religion”?

Not at all, and more is at stake than a semantic squabble over which words immigrants memorize as they prepare to become citizens. Redefining “religion” as merely “worship” diminishes religious freedom by pushing aside important aspects of faith, from street-corner proselytizing to engaging in political life from a religious perspective.

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 10, 2016 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The House of Bishops has issued a wide-ranging critique of the welfare system, in a discussion paper that refers to the system’s inability to tackle an “enemy which threatens the well-being of our people”.

Starting from the “Five Giant Evils” identified in the 1942 Beveridge report, on which the welfare state was based — Want, Disease, Squalor, Ignorance, and Idleness — the Bishops’ paper adds “a giant which all can see around them, which most experience at some time in their lives, but which few will name. It is the Enemy Isolation.”

The 17-page paper, Thinking Afresh about Welfare: The enemy isolation, has been produced by the Director of Mission and Public Affairs, the Revd Dr Malcolm Brown, in association with the Bishops of Norwich, St Edmundsbury & Ipswich, and Truro. It contains echoes of the House’s pre-election pastoral letter of 2015.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 10, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nearly three in 10 Americans (29%) are satisfied with the way things are going in the U.S., continuing the trend of low satisfaction levels since 2007. Americans' satisfaction has averaged 24% across the 89 months of the Obama administration to date, well below the average 37% satisfaction level since Gallup began measuring it in 1979.

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 9, 2016 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“While Athenian philosophy was in many respects quite distant from the political cosmologies that characterized the great Near Eastern empires,” writes Yoram Yazony (The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture), “it continued to develop their view of man as being essentially a creature of the state that governs him, and of ethics as a discipline that aims to understand how the virtuous individual goes about contributing to the good of this state” (132).

On this point, the ethics of the Hebrew Bible diverges quite radically: “The very first instruction that the God of Israel issues to Abraham is the command to leave the country of his birth and to sever his ties with it - just that which Socrates presented as being unthinkable.” Other biblical heroes find themselves in similar positions, often standing outside or against the established powers: “virtually all of [them] are portrayed as being in a condition of acute conflict with the rulers of the nations in which they live, and as disobeying their laws and commands almost as a matter of course. Indeed, it often seems as if the authors of the biblical narratives believe that the laws of states, and the commands of the kings who rule them, are no better than empty words, bearing no normative force whatsoever” (132). Hazony doesn't believe this is the case, but the theme of resistance to power is striking.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 9, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This common mistake—thinking that the Benedict Option means withdrawal from politics—is likely to be just as common with respect to whatever fad succeeds Benedict.

What was wrong with the culture war? Many particular things, but the overarching problem was the failure of grace toward those outside Christian (or “Judeo-Christian”) identity. God is holy but he is also loving, and his response to the darkness of the world's evil was the cross. In the present age, he withholds his ultimate judgment upon the unholy world. And he calls his people to be holy as he is holy, but also to love the unholy world as he loves it, such that he gave his only son.

Now, what is wrong with the Benedict Option? To the extent that it has sufficient coherence to be criticized, it, too, has many particular faults that could be examined. The overarching problem, however, is the Benedict Option's failure to love the unholy world. The holiness of the church has crowded out its divine mission. The Benedict Option projects the same spirit of resentment and hostility toward the world outside of Christian identity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 8, 2016 at 3:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...63-year-old [Phyllis Swenson of] Fairfax, Virginia, resident is among millions of Americans who haven’t rebounded with the improving U.S. economy. Part-time work at Vienna Presbyterian doesn’t pay all her bills, and almost a year of futile job-hunting has left her desperate.

“Recovery?” she scoffs. “How are we recovering?”

The labor market has staged a strong comeback: Unemployment is 4.7 percent, down from 9.5 percent when the economy started expanding in June 2009. Employers have added an average 150,000 jobs a month this year, though May slowed to just 38,000. The rate at which people quit, a handy measure of job mobility, is trending up.

Yet some Americans still feel a deep sense of betrayal. Their journey back to meaningful work has been brutal -- if they even arrived -- leaving them with depleted savings, increased debt, homes lost to lenders and for some, long searches that stripped away their most valuable possession: self-esteem. Many who did find jobs now earn less, with fewer benefits.

This has helped fuel Donald Trump’s improbable rise and Bernie Sanders’s strong challenge to Hillary Clinton. Thousands cheer at rallies when the Republican front-runner claims he’ll put people back to work and the Democratic contender rails against income inequality.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 8, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This world is no friend to grace…The world is protean: each generation has the world to deal with in a new form. World is an atmosphere, a mood. It is nearly as hard for a sinner to recognize the world’s temptations as it is for a fish to discover impurities in the water. There is a sense, a feeling, that things aren’t right, that the environment is not whole, but just what it is eludes analysis. We know that the spiritual atmosphere in which we live erodes faith, dissipates hope and corrupts love, but it is hard to put our finger on what is wrong….

People submerged in a culture swarming with lies and malice feel as if they were drowning in it: they can trust nothing they hear, depend on no one they meet. Such dissatisfaction with the world as it is is preparation for traveling in the way of Christian discipleship. The dissatisfaction, coupled with a longing for peace and truth, can set us on a pilgrim path of wholeness in God.

Read it all (with our thanks to TS).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)Theology: Scripture

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Posted June 7, 2016 at 3:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A discussion paper 'Thinking Afresh About Welfare' has been released today by the Church of England.

The paper, by Rev Dr Malcolm Brown, Director of the Mission and Public Affairs Division of Archbishops' Council, was endorsed by the May meeting of the House of Bishops as a discussion document.

Read it all and follow the link for the full paper.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinancePolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 7, 2016 at 3:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sarva Dharma Sama Bhava: “All dharmas [truths, or religions] are equally valid.” Indians often cite this noble maxim, which was popularized by Mahatma Gandhi, and the country’s constitution remains firmly secular and democratic. In recent years, though, the country’s religious outlook has darkened to the point that minorities—including both Christians and Muslims—face dangers of severe persecution and violence.

The fact that that threat receives little attention in the West says much about our stereotypes of other world religions. If we saw a situation where tens of millions of Christians were being similarly maltreated by a Muslim regime, Western media and policy makers would speak out vigorously. But when the enemies of religious liberty are Hindu, members of a faith that Americans idealize, the public silence is deafening.

Although India’s Chris­tians do not represent a large proportion of the country’s vast population—only about 3 percent—they number about 40 million, comparable to the larger European nations. India’s Christians suffer from multiple disadvantages, especially because so many derive from people of low or no caste or from tribal communities on the margins of Hindu society. Official reluctance to accept the reality of conversions makes it difficult to assess the true extent of Christian numbers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsHinduism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 6, 2016 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A key feature of American exceptionalism has been the propensity of Americans to create voluntary organizations for dealing with local problems. Tocqueville was just one of the early European observers who marveled at this phenomenon in the 19th and early 20th centuries. By the time the New Deal began, American associations for providing mutual assistance and aiding the poor involved broad networks, engaging people from the top to the bottom of society, spontaneously formed by ordinary citizens.

These groups provided sophisticated and effective social services and social insurance of every sort, not just in rural towns or small cities but also in the largest and most impersonal of megalopolises. To get a sense of how extensive these networks were, consider this: When one small Midwestern state, Iowa, mounted a food-conservation program during World War I, it engaged the participation of 2,873 church congregations and 9,630 chapters of 31 different secular fraternal associations.

Did these networks successfully deal with all the human needs of their day? No. But that isn’t the right question. In that era, the U.S. had just a fraction of today’s national wealth. The correct question is: What if the same level of activity went into civil society’s efforts to deal with today’s needs—and financed with today’s wealth?

The advent of the New Deal and then of President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society displaced many of the most ambitious voluntary efforts to deal with the needs of the poor. It was a predictable response. Why continue to contribute to a private program to feed the hungry when the government is spending billions of dollars on food stamps and nutrition programs? Why continue the mutual insurance program of your fraternal organization once Social Security is installed? Voluntary organizations continued to thrive, but most of them turned to needs less subject to crowding out by the federal government.

This was a bad trade, in my view.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceTaxesThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted June 4, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

How to navigate this new reality? Most conservative Christians fall into one of three broad camps.

There are those who are determined to even more fiercely wage the culture wars, demanding the broadest possible religious exemptions from recognizing same-sex marriage.

There are those who plan to withdraw as much as possible into their own communities to preserve their faith —an approach dubbed the "Benedict Option," for a fifth-century saint who, disgusted by the decadence of Rome, fled to the forest where he lived as a hermit and prayed.

There is, however, a segment that advocates living as a "...[dissenting] minority," confidently upholding their beliefs but in a gentler way that rejects the aggressive tone of the old religious right and takes up other issues, such as ending human trafficking, that can cross ideological lines.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology

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Posted June 4, 2016 at 10:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Anglican bishops on Friday had a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari where they sought to know what his administration is doing to tackle the spate of insecurity, particularly vandalism of oil facilities in the Niger Delta and herdsmen’s attacks in parts of the country.
The Primate, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Most Rev’d Nicholas Okoh, who led the bishops to the meeting at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, disclosed this while interacting with State House correspondents.

“We told him (the President) many things but part of it is that we are all looking for solutions to issues of the herdsmen; the issue of vandalism; on security in one way or the other because the people are asking us and we want to have explanation for the people whom we lead,” Okoh said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism

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Posted June 3, 2016 at 4:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Days after having been stripped and dragged through the streets of her village in the most undignified and inhumane of ways, the gracious and forgiving response of Soad Thabet, an elderly mother and grandmother, is both courageous and inspiring.

The ethos of the Coptic Christian community in Egypt has always been one of forgiveness, as was particularly evident in its peaceful and reconciliatory response to the burning of over one hundred churches and places of ministry in August 2013, and following the brutal execution of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya last year. Having said that, there is currently a rejection of conventional ‘reconciliation meetings’ based on the fact that they have historically been used as a cosmetic short-term solution, without addressing root causes or preventing the recurrence of similar incidents. Despite an ongoing commitment to genuine reconciliation efforts, there is an immediate and pressing need for tangible solutions, as superficial measures that aim to pacify will by no means have a lasting effect, and can never lead to true reconciliation and social cohesion.

It is indeed shameful that such mob crimes can be perpetrated against innocent communities or individuals, of whatever faith or ethnicity, and especially as a result of slanderous and unsubstantiated allegations; and that an elderly woman could be so publicly and indecently humiliated. What is also unacceptable is the utter disinterest (at best) and/or complicit and criminal negligence (at worst) with which the local security services conducted themselves, and the Menia Governor’s initial denial that these crimes actually occurred.

Read it all.

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

1 Comments
Posted June 2, 2016 at 4:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The steps of the Lincoln Memorial have seen civil rights demonstrations for decades, notably the 1963 March on Washington, in which African-Americans demanded civil and economic rights, but also in the 1990s as LGBT groups demanded an end to discrimination.

On Saturday (June 4), another group will gather at those same steps. Atheists, agnostics, humanists and other so-called religious nones are converging for the Reason Rally, which according to its website aims to be “the biggest gathering of nonreligious people in history.”

The rally’s main goal is to show that nonbelievers have the numbers, the clout and the organizational skills to be a voting bloc worth courting in the November election.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheism* Theology

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Posted June 2, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the United States, nearly one-third of adults, about 76 million people, are either “struggling to get by” or “just getting by,” according to the third annual survey of households by the Federal Reserve Board.

That finding, dismal though it is, represents a mild improvement in general well-being last year, compared with the two years before. The improvement, however, was clearly too little to raise Americans’ spirits: The new survey, which was conducted in late 2015 and released last week, also shows that optimism about the future has tempered.

The Fed policy committee should take the survey to heart when it meets this month to decide whether to raise interest rates. Higher rates are a way to slow an economy that is at risk of overheating — a far-fetched proposition when tens of millions of Americans are barely hanging in there.

Read it all from the New York Times.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 2, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...today, we witness a growing interdependence of nations in a globalising world and an increasing number of interconnected political challenges far exceeding the capacity of nation-states to handle them. Because the common good is increasingly trans-national, clinging to maximum sovereignty at the national level won’t always be the right way to promote the goals of justice, peace, freedom and solidarity, even within the UK.

To address these adequately, we need not only inter-governmental cooperation among independent nation states but also effective trans-national institutions.

I submit that the EU, for all its numerous failings and limitations, is one of these necessary institutions.

In the face of an increasing number of border-defying challenges such as security threats, structural and regional deprivation, environmental degradation, threats to peace on Europe’s eastern borders and the immense challenge of the refugee crisis on its southern borders, we need a robust authority with a remit for the common good across European public space.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 1, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More recently, Notre Dame historian George Marsden — a self-described “Augustinian Christian” and so something close to an evangelical, whatever that still means — has argued in his book “The Twilight of the American Enlightenment” that religious traditionalists and secularist liberals can avoid a great deal of acrimony by defenestrating the midcentury idea of a “neutral” public sphere and instead adopting what he and others have termed “principled pluralism.” More recently still, in his new book “The Fractured Republic,” the scholar and journalist Yuval Levin, a Jewish social conservative, has counseled both religious conservatives and secularist liberals that they can repair our dysfunctional politics by comprehending the implications of this one essential truth: that American society is no longer the consolidated unit it once was but a diffuse assortment of subcultures.

True, many religious social conservatives still think it’s their duty to take America back, their disposition expressed in the fierce eloquence of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). But many do not. Many have finally given up on the whole idea of a culture war or are willing to admit they lost it. They are determined only to remain who they are and to live as amiably and productively as they can in a culture that doesn’t look like them and doesn’t belong to them.

In time, this shift in outlook may bring about a more peaceable public sphere. But that will depend on others — especially the adherents of an ascendant social progressivism — declining to take full advantage of their newfound cultural dominance. I see few signs of that, but I am hopeful all the same.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 1, 2016 at 2:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This isn’t the headline in most of the UK media, for some reason, which appears to prefer singling out Muslims and hijabs. There’s nothing quite like a bit of Islamomania in a morning to go with your toast and marmalade, is there? ‘Top EU court adviser backs workplace Muslim headscarf ban‘, says the BBC. ‘EU’s top judge backs workplace ban on headscarves‘, writes the Independent. ‘Senior EU lawyer backs workplace ban on Muslim headscarves‘, proclaims the Guardian., above a picture of Muslim women wearing sky-blue burqas (which the Guardian calls a ‘headscarf’) emblazoned with the stars of the EU flag. ‘Top European Union court adviser says employers should be allowed to ban Islamic headscarves‘, says the Evening Standard, while the Express goes with: ‘Bosses can ban Muslims wearing headscarves at work‘.

It’s left to the Telegraph to take a more equitable and accurate approach to headlines: ‘Bosses can ban headscarves and crucifixes, EU judge says‘, they write (noting that ‘crucifix’ sounds a bit meatier than ‘cross’ in the spectrum of hallowed bling). But even this doesn’t extend to kippahs, tichels, turbans or karas. Why not just say: ‘Bosses can ban religious clothing and jewellery in the workplace’? Or does that leave hanging the fuzzy question of facial hair? Should hirsute tendencies be exempt? If so, why?

The legal opinion (HERE in full) was issued by Juliane Kokott, an Advocate General to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), in response to clarification sought by a Belgian court on what precisely is banned under anti-discrimination laws, following the dismissal of a receptionist who refused her employer’s request not to wear her hijab at work.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMulticulturalism, pluralismReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther Faiths* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 1, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“…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 LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchMilitary / Armed Forces* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President

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Posted May 30, 2016 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“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.

“Amen.”

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 LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President

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Posted May 30, 2016 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Behind the scenes, this development alarmed church elders. They understood the potential for the church to end up being divided amid the nation's polarised politics.

So work began to find consensus between the candidates and when a pre-election deal could not be struck, according to reporters who were tracking the poll and were in touch with delegates, word was quietly sent out to delegates that they should pick a compromise candidate.

That is how Jackson Nasoore ole Sapit, the Bishop of Kericho and a member of the Maasai community, which is not directly implicated in the major tussle of Kenya's "high politics," emerged as favourite and eventually took the main seat.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Kenya* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaKenya

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Posted May 29, 2016 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

New Yorkers strolling through Chinatown in downtown Manhattan last Sunday might have noticed an unusual flurry of activity: Jewish men and women, a rabbi in a clerical gown, and a color guard gathering in graveyard tucked away behind a wrought-iron fence. Members of the New York synagogue Shearith Israel, the oldest Jewish congregation in North America, were visiting their historic cemetery at Chatham Square.

In an annual ritual ahead of Memorial Day, they were there for a ceremony that few other synagogues in America could perform: honoring the members of their congregation who had fought in the Revolutionary War.

For Shearith Israel, where I am the rabbi, what is most striking is not that its history stretches back to the Colonial period, but rather that so many of its congregants sided with George Washington against England. New York was known as a Tory stronghold: When English forces expelled Washington’s troops from the city, King George III’s soldiers were greeted with a “Declaration of Dependence” signed by hundreds of New Yorkers, declaring their allegiance to Great Britain.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

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Posted May 27, 2016 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

According to the United Nations, last year some eight million people around the world were displaced from their homes by conflict and social upheaval—the largest number ever recorded in a single year. This coming week (May 23-24), as the UN convenes the first World Humanitarian Summit, correspondent Kim Lawton talks with prominent Roman Catholic theologian and ethicist Rev. David Hollenbach SJ about the global refugee crisis and the moral obligations he believes the US government and individual Americans have to respond.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureTravel* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted May 25, 2016 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christian morality is being ushered out of American social structures and off the cultural main stage, leaving a vacuum in its place—and the broader culture is attempting to fill the void. New research from Barna reveals growing concern about the moral condition of the nation, even as many American adults admit they are uncertain about how to determine right from wrong. So what do Americans believe? Is truth relative or absolute? And do Christians see truth and morality in radically different ways from the broader public, or are they equally influenced by the growing tide of secularism and religious skepticism?

A majority of American adults across age group, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status and political ideology expresses concern about the nation’s moral condition—eight in 10 overall (80%). The proportion is closer to nine in 10 among Elders (89%) and Boomers (87%), while about three-quarters of Gen-Xers (75%) and Millennials (74%) report concern. Similarly, practicing Christians (90%) are more likely than adults of no faith (67%) or those who identify with a religious faith other than Christianity (72%) to say they are concerned about the moral condition of the nation. Though measurable differences exist between population segments, moral concern is widespread across the demographic board.

Much less widespread, however, is consensus on morality itself. What is it based on? Where does it come from? How can someone know what to do when making moral decisions? According to a majority of American adults (57%), knowing what is right or wrong is a matter of personal experience. This view is much more prevalent among younger generations than among older adults.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 25, 2016 at 2:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




The empty nests are filling up: For the first time in modern history, young adults ages 18 to 34 are more likely to live with a parent than with a romantic partner, according to a new census analysis by the Pew Research Center.

Millennials, who have been slower than previous generations to marry and set up their own households, reached that milestone in 2014, when 32.1 percent lived in a parent’s home, compared with 31.6 percent who lived with a spouse or a partner, the report found.

“The really seismic change is that we have so many fewer young adults partnering, either marrying or cohabiting,” said Richard Fry, the Pew economist who wrote the report. “In 1960, that silent generation left home earlier than any generation before or after, because they married so young.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted May 24, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:
A year ago, retired U.S. representative John Dingell, who for many years served Michigan’s 12th congressional district, was coaching Wisconsin congressman Ron Kind. “Ron,” said Dingell, “never forget that you’ve got an important job, but you’re not an important person. The second you start thinking that you’re an important person, you start to cut corners and think the rules don’t apply to you.”

One doesn’t have to be a legislator or city bureaucrat to risk losing the distinction between one’s self-importance and the important work one is called to do. Would that we all might pull out a report card and do the sort of reflective work Nai-Wang Kwok managed so beautifully.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPolitics in GeneralHouse of Representatives* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted May 24, 2016 at 7:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Diocese of Abuja of the Church of Nigeria, (Anglican Communion), has said that the renewed pipeline vandalism in the Niger Delta, was not in the best interest of Nigeria. It therefore urged those behind the bombing of oil installations in the region to desist from the act. The Church called on the Niger Delta Avengers to cease hostility against the government while embracing dialogue, noting that Nigeria, currently engaged in many battles cannot afford to start another one with militants in the Niger Delta. The Primate Of The Church Of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) and Archbishop of Abuja Diocese, The Most Rev’d Nicholas D. Okoh, made this remark in his Presidential Address to the 3rd Session of the 9th Synod of Abuja Diocese, held at All Saints Church, Wuse. While urging the Federal Government to also tread cautiously in its attempts to resolve the growing crises in the Niger Delta, the Church called on it to seek collaboration with the host communities in its efforts to secure all pipelines.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria

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Posted May 23, 2016 at 4:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The title of Janine di Giovanni’s devastating new book, “The Morning They Came for Us,” refers to those terrible moments in ordinary Syrians’ lives when the war in their country becomes personal. Those moments when there is a knock on the door and the police or intelligence services take a family member away. Those moments when a government-delivered barrel bomb falls on your home, your school, your hospital, and daily life is forever ruptured.

“The water stops, taps run dry, banks go, and a sniper kills your brother,” she writes. Garbage is everywhere because there are no longer any functioning city services, and entire neighborhoods are turned into fields of rubble. Victorian diseases like polio, typhoid and cholera resurface. Children wear rubber sandals in the winter cold because they do not have shoes. People are forced to do without “toothpaste, money, vitamins, birth-control pills, X-rays, chemotherapy, insulin, painkillers.”

In the five years since the Assad regime cracked down on peaceful antigovernment protests and the conflict escalated into full-blown civil war, more than 250,000 Syrians have been killed and some 12 million people — more than half the country’s prewar population — have been displaced, including five million who have fled to neighboring countries and to Europe in what the United Nations calls the largest refugee crisis since World War II.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

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Posted May 23, 2016 at 3:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(For the original piece to which this is responding please see here--KSH).

There are likely to be many Anglicans, not least in the Church of England, who will welcome the idea that there might be a viable ‘third way’ between supporting same-sex marriages and simply maintaining the Church’s traditional position. However, I would want to argue that there is in fact no viable ‘third way’ on this issue. This is for three reasons.

First, the position of those advocating for LGBT equality has moved on since the days when a blessing of same-sex partnerships might have been seen as acceptable.

Now that same-sex ‘marriage’ is legal in an increasing number of jurisdictions around the world, including England, Scotland and Wales, LGBT advocates will not be content with anything less than the Church coming into line with society and practicing ‘equal marriage’ as well. For example, those Gay and Lesbian Christians such as Canon Jeremy Pemberton who are already ‘married’ are not going to be content with anything less than the Church’s full recognition of their marital status.

Furthermore, even the recognition of same-sex ‘marriages’ is now a relatively conservative position. The new focus of LGBT activism is now the call to move beyond the ‘heteronormative gender binary’ (the idea that humanity is divided into men and women) and recognise a whole multiplicity of different gender identities (Facebook UK now gives you seventy one gender options to choose from) and a whole range of forms of personal relationship to suit these different identities....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Scottish Episcopal Church* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 23, 2016 at 12:36 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Government has set out a new post-EU-referendum course focus­ing on key domestic policies, after attracting criticism for its series of U-turns on issues such as schooling and disability benefits in recent months.

The Queen’s Speech, on Wednes­day, included new legislation on housing, education, safeguarding chil­dren in care, and speeding up the adoption process, to better the “life chances” of young people. It also made mention of new counter-extremism measures, defence spend­ing, and a prison-reform Bill.

Under the social-care Bill, a new regulator will be set up to oversee care homes and social services. Those leaving care will be assigned a mentor until the age of 25, and care workers will be supported to find work and affordable housing.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducation* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 22, 2016 at 12:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Our fundamental problems are the downsides of transitions we have made for good reasons: to enjoy more flexibility, creativity and individual choice. For example, we like buying cheap products from around the world. But the choices we make as consumers make life less stable for us as employees.

Levin says the answer is not to dwell in confusing, frustrating nostalgia. It’s through a big push toward subsidiarity, devolving choice and power down to the local face-to-face community level, and thus avoiding the excesses both of rigid centralization and alienating individualism. A society of empowered local neighborhood organizations is a learning society. Experiments happen and information about how to solve problems flows from the bottom up.

I’m acknowledged in the book, but I learned something new on every page. Nonetheless, I’d say Levin’s emphasis on subsidiarity and local community is important but insufficient. We live within a golden chain, connecting self, family, village, nation and world. The bonds of that chain have to be repaired at every point, not just the local one.

Read it all.

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

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Posted May 22, 2016 at 11:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In this booth, the choice is between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Period.

"That's the scenario people I know are talking about and arguing about," said Stephen P. White of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., author of the book "Red, White, Blue and Catholic."

Many religious conservatives believe they "face a choice between two morally repugnant candidates," he added. "The reality of that choice is starting to drive some people into despair. ... I understand that, but I think it would be wrong for people to think that they need to abandon politics simply because they are disgusted with this election."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted May 21, 2016 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What should the church commissioners, who are responsible for its £7 billion investment portfolio, do? They are charity trustees. They have a duty to make a return on the funds entrusted to them. And every penny they can raise means another pound from the collection plate can be used for something else. The answer is, of course, that they must exercise judgment.

The good news is that they are already allowed to. The church commissioners do not, as a result, invest in pornography, tobacco, gambling, non-military firearms, high interest rate lending or human embryonic cloning. But on tax abuse, surely the clearest measure of a company’s social responsibility, they’re not so clear.

Their advisers stated three years ago that “tax ethics should be a subject for investor engagement where it appears that a company’s approach is blatantly aggressive or abusive”. In other words, investment in such companies is permitted so long as the church makes clear that it expects high ethical standards on tax. In this respect, the commissioners have clearly failed.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeTaxesPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 18, 2016 at 3:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Bishop of Salisbury has called for environmental issues take a more prominent role in the debate over Britain's future in the EU.

Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam said Britain has taken stand on the environment in recent years which has made other countries "clean their acts up".

The Church of England speaker on climate change also called for the voices of younger voters to be heard ahead of the June 23 referendum.

“It is not the job of a Bishop to push people to vote in any particular way," he said. "The scope of the debate, however, is something where I do have a duty to speak out.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 18, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Estimates for the public services will be laid before you.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons:

Other measures will be laid before you.

I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your counsels.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 18, 2016 at 6:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In “Notes from Underground,’’ Dostoevsky fired a broadside against all the Victorian do-gooders who dreamt of a perfectly rational society. “You seem certain that man himself will give up erring of his own free will,” he fulminated. He foresaw a ghastly future in which “all human acts will be listed in something like logarithm tables . . . and transferred to a timetable . . . [that] will carry detailed calculations and exact forecasts of everything to come.” In such a world, his utilitarian contemporaries believed, there would be no wrongdoing. It would have been planned, legislated, and regulated out of existence.

We are nearly there. Or so it seems....

I am deeply suspicious of the concerted effort to address all these problems in ways that markedly increase the power of states — and not just any states, but specifically the world’s big states — at the expense of both small states and the individual. What makes me especially wary is that today, unlike in Dostoevsky’s time, the technology exists to give those big states, along with a few private companies, just the kind of control he dreaded.

Consider some recent encroachments on liberty.

Read it all from the Boston Globe.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryPoetry & Literature* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentState Government* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussia* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 17, 2016 at 5:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

DAKAR, Senegal — In a city where nightclubs and mosques coexist peacefully, Islamist violence long felt like a foreign problem — something residents watched on news clips from the Middle East or other parts of ­Africa.

“We just didn’t worry very much about it,” said Abdullaye Diene, the deputy imam of the country’s largest mosque. “Here you can spend your nights drinking at the disco and then shake the hand of the imam.”

But Senegal and its neighbors are facing a new threat from extremists moving far from their traditional strongholds in northwest Africa. Since November, militant groups have killed dozens of people in assaults on hotels, cafes and a beachside resort in West Africa, passing through porous borders with impunity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaSenegal* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 16, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The culture wars are over; they lost, we won. Remember, they were the ones who characterized constitutional disputes as culture wars (see Justice Scalia in Romer v. Evans, and the Wikipedia entry for culture wars, which describes conservative activists, not liberals, using the term.) And they had opportunities to reach a cease fire, but rejected them in favor of a scorched earth policy. The earth that was scorched, though, was their own. (No conservatives demonstrated any interest in trading off recognition of LGBT rights for “religious liberty” protections. Only now that they’ve lost the battle over LGBT rights, have they made those protections central – seeing them, I suppose, as a new front in the culture wars. But, again, they’ve already lost the war.). For liberals, the question now is how to deal with the losers in the culture wars. That’s mostly a question of tactics. My own judgment is that taking a hard line (“You lost, live with it”) is better than trying to accommodate the losers, who – remember – defended, and are defending, positions that liberals regard as having no normative pull at all. Trying to be nice to the losers didn’t work well after the Civil War, nor after Brown. (And taking a hard line seemed to work reasonably well in Germany and Japan after 1945.) I should note that LGBT activists in particular seem to have settled on the hard-line approach, while some liberal academics defend more accommodating approaches. When specific battles in the culture wars were being fought, it might have made sense to try to be accommodating after a local victory, because other related fights were going on, and a hard line might have stiffened the opposition in those fights. But the war’s over, and we won.

Read it all.

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

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Posted May 13, 2016 at 3:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So why are people so gullible?

Perhaps we’ve been approaching this the wrong way. Instead of viewing quackery as a form of knowledge, albeit wrong, we might try approaching it as a religion.

What do I mean?

It seems to me that for a large proportion of people, particularly people on the political Left, pseudoscience has become a secular religion, complete with creation myth, demons and ultimate salvation.

Don’t get me wrong: there’s plenty of pseudoscience on the political Right, too. But often that is motivated by adherence to standard religious philosophy, the idea that the Bible is the world of God and that anything that contradicts it cannot be allowed to be true. On the Left, where many abjure religion, quackery has become the new religion.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologySoteriology

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Posted May 12, 2016 at 4:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia has tabled the ‘A Way Forward ’ report on blessings of same-sex couples until General Synod 2018, “with a firm expectation that a decision to move forward will be made” at that time.
Archbishop Brown Turei, Archbishop Philip Richardson and Archbishop Winston Halapua will appoint a working group to establish a structure that allows both those who can and cannot support the blessing of same-sex relationships to remain within the church with integrity.
“We are aware of the considerable pain that this decision will cause to those most affected,” said the three archbishops today.
“But we are confident that our determination to work together across our differences will bring us to a place of dignity and justice for everyone.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and PolynesiaSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted May 12, 2016 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The great shrinking of the middle class that has captured the attention of the nation is not only playing out in troubled regions like Rust Belt metros, Appalachia and the Deep South, but in just about every metropolitan area in America, according to a major new analysis by the Pew Research Center.

Pew reported in December that a clear majority of American adults no longer live in the middle class, a demographic reality shaped by decades of widening inequality, declining industry and the erosion of financial stability and family-wage jobs. But while much of the attention has focused on communities hardest hit by economic declines, the new Pew data, based on metro-level income data since 2000, show that middle-class stagnation is a far broader phenomenon.

The share of adults living in middle-income households has also dwindled in Washington, New York, San Francisco, Atlanta and Denver. It's fallen in smaller Midwestern metros where the middle class has long made up an overwhelming majority of the population. It's withering in coastal tech hubs, in military towns, in college communities, in Sun Belt cities.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted May 11, 2016 at 4:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For nearly two and a half centuries, Americans have enjoyed the enormous privilege and responsibility of forming our own government—a privilege rarely experienced throughout most of human history. For most of history, humanity has struggled with the question of how to respond to a government that was essentially forced upon them. But Americans have often struggled with a very different reality; how do we rightly respond to the government that we choose?

To put all of this in historical perspective, the Framers of the American experiment understood that a representative democracy built on the principle of limited government would require certain virtues of its citizens. These would include a restraint of passions and an upholding of traditional moral virtues, without which democracy would not be possible. As the idea of limited government implies, the citizenry would be required to carry out the social responsibilities of the community without the intrusion of government and, thus, citizens would be expected to have the moral integrity necessary for such an arrangement. The Framers of the American Republic also agreed that it would be impossible to have a representative democracy and a limited government if the people did not elect leaders who embodied the virtues of the citizenry while also respecting and protecting society’s pre-political institutions: marriage and family, the church, and the local community.

Thus, the idea of a limited government requires that society uphold and pursue the health of its most basic institutions. When a civil society is weak, government becomes strong. When the family breaks down, government grows stronger. When the essential institutions of society are no longer respected, government demands that respect for itself. That is a recipe for tyranny.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 11, 2016 at 1:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

WE progressives believe in diversity, and we want women, blacks, Latinos, gays and Muslims at the table — er, so long as they aren’t conservatives.

Universities are the bedrock of progressive values, but the one kind of diversity that universities disregard is ideological and religious. We’re fine with people who don’t look like us, as long as they think like us.

O.K., that’s a little harsh. But consider George Yancey, a sociologist who is black and evangelical.

“Outside of academia I faced more problems as a black,” he told me. “But inside academia I face more problems as a Christian, and it is not even close.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 9, 2016 at 4:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What is “fair” for one group of Americans—“I get to keep what I earn”—is not only different from what the other group means, it can often be totally contrary to it: “No, because you didn’t build that.” If I get to keep what I earn, then we are not spreading out the benefits of society equally; this would be deemed “unfair” by those who accept any version of egalitarian fairness. And if we were to take what people have earned through their hard work and spread it out equally among the entire population, some of whom may not have worked hard, then this would be deemed “unfair” by those who accept a merit-based view of fairness.

Often enough, this confusing bifurcation about what is “fair” is not only between two opposing camps, but within one and the same person. In some moods, we favor the egalitarian tendencies of fairness, while in other moods, we insist on the merit-based approach. We want “the poor” to be “taken care of” and to “get a fair shake.” But when someone proposes to raise our taxes to bring about a more equal distribution, we’re suddenly less excited about the prospect. This is why we respond positively to appeals to “tax the rich,” as long as the meaning of the term “rich” remains vague enough that it doesn’t include us.

Making the system “fairer,” therefore, has become another one of those slogans that can mean anything to anyone.

Read it all.


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

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Posted May 9, 2016 at 3:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[John] Kerry returned to some of his familiar themes including, first, that those who suppress religious freedom feed angers that make people more susceptible to recruiting by terrorists. Second, religious groups, because when they are demonstrably concerned with “stewardship of the Earth” may have many positive contributions to make. And, third, religions are mandated to help the poor and the marginalized. So their interest in job-creation globally makes them vital.

Some who read or hear Kerry (parts of whose speech are available online) will think he lives in a dream world if he thinks religions are ready to make such contributions. Some will resent his praise of religion, because they see religions by definition opposed to human good.

But the majority, if they tune in and are turned on by the Secretary of State’s words, can be readied to get back to the sources of their faith, heed the community-building (as opposed to terrorist-feeding) uses of religious mandates and promises, and offer hope for a better future. - See more at: http://divinity.uchicago.edu/sightings/religion-global-affairs#sthash.VwD1R87I.dpuf

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 9, 2016 at 9:38 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The center of gravity for both orthodoxy and evangelism is not among Anglo suburban evangelicals but among African Anglicans and Asian Calvinists and Latin American Pentecostals. The vital core of American evangelicalism today can be found in churches that are multiethnic and increasingly dominated by immigrant communities.

The next Billy Graham probably will speak only Spanish or Arabic or Persian or Mandarin. American evangelicals often use the language of “revival” — a word that is sometimes co-opted by politicians to mean a resurgence of a politically useful but watered-down civil religion. A congregation that ignores the global church can deprive itself of revival by overlooking those places where the Spirit is working.

The thriving churches of American Christianity are multigenerational, theologically robust, ethnically diverse and connected to the global church. If Jesus is alive — and I believe that he is — he will keep his promise and build his church. But he never promises to do that solely with white, suburban institutional evangelicalism.

The question is whether evangelicals will be on the right side of Jesus.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 7, 2016 at 12:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In American politics, raising taxes is seen as a sure way to provoke a voter revolt. But in Germany, some politicians see taxing Muslims as a strategy to keep them from becoming radicalized.

The standard-bearer for this unexpected idea is a politician from the Christian Social Union, the folksy right-wing party known for desperately wanting to keep Muslim immigrants from the Middle East from pouring in to its traditionally Catholic southern state of Bavaria.

Strange as it might seem, there are Muslim leaders in Germany who think a religious tax might be a good idea, too. If they can get over the grumbling, mosque-goers may agree.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 7, 2016 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

China has lodged a diplomatic protest with the United States after a U.S. government commission said Chinese violations of religious freedom last year remained “severe,” the Foreign Ministry said.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan U.S. federal government body, said in a report this week that there were “systematic, egregious and ongoing abuses” in China against Christians, Buddhists, Muslims and others.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Thursday (May 5) that China fully respected religious freedom but that year in, year out, the United States attacked China on religion, ignoring the facts and distorting the situation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaChina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 6, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Religious education is not just like learning French. At the Passover meal a few days ago the youngest there asked: “Why is this night different from all other nights?” Unless you are taking part in the meal in the prescribed way, it is not different. If you are, the question has a deep resonance, which is even picked up in Christian Easter rituals (in which a cantor sings the Exsultet (or Easter proclamation) before a lit candle in the dark, with a repeated phrase “This is the night...”).

I fear that the dreary headteachers think we are all the same. They think religion is much of a muchness and a private thing like violin practice. Just as one lot of teaching unions holds its conference over Easter weekend, God forgive them, so the headteachers held theirs this weekend over the Orthodox Easter Sunday. They prefer resolutions to absolution and unholy union business to Holy Communion.

The fundamental question is: whose children do they think they are teaching? It is as though they thought children belonged to the state and must be protected from the beliefs of their parents.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchChildrenEducationMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 4, 2016 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The decision by Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to have his supporters seize and then vacate the parliament building in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone was the act of a man who—at least for now—wants to control rather than destroy the country’s political system.

But this breach has put such a strain on Iraq’s political arrangements, established after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion to balance the interests of the country’s sects and ethnic groups, that once this crisis plays out, there may be not much of a system left to control.

Mr. Sadr, the scion of a prominent Shiite clerical family who once led an insurgency against U.S. occupation forces and was responsible for unleashing some of the country’s worst sectarian violence, denies that he seeks outright power.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsIraq WarPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 2, 2016 at 1:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A bookkeeper named Roy Torcaso, who happened to be an atheist, refused to declare that he believed in God in order to serve as a notary public in Maryland. His case went all the way to the Supreme Court, and in 1961 the court ruled unanimously for Mr. Torcaso, saying states could not have a “religious test” for public office.

But 53 years later, Maryland and six other states still have articles in their constitutions saying people who do not believe in God are not eligible to hold public office. Maryland’s Constitution still says belief in God is a requirement even for jurors and witnesses.

Now a coalition of nonbelievers says it is time to get rid of the atheist bans because they are discriminatory, offensive and unconstitutional. The bans are unenforceable dead letters, legal experts say, and state and local governments have rarely invoked them in recent years. But for some secular Americans, who are increasingly visible and organized, removing the bans is not only a just cause, but a test of their growing movement’s political clout.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 2, 2016 at 11:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Churches should take advantage of the opportunities presented by the shrinkage of the State by delivering “substantial public services”, says a report launched in the House of Lords on Monday.

Amid cuts in public spending, the Church needs to “re-imagine its role and to re-orientate itself more radically towards social action and the delivery of public services”, say the authors of Faith in Public Service, Ian Sansbury, Ben Cowdrey, and Lea Kauffmann-de Vries. The report is published by the Oasis Foundation, a non-denominational social-justice charity. The Revd Steve Chalke, a Baptist minister and the founder of Oasis, has written its introduction.

The report suggests that individual churches could “go further than the delivery of foodbanks and debt advice”, and move more into the provision of health-care and education. They might, however, need more “effective leadership, governance, finance and HR function” to do so.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 29, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In deciding how to vote it is important that we recognise that we are answering a different sort of question from that at general elections but, as there, we also need to keep front and centre the test of what it means to love our neighbours and how our vote can serve the common good. That means not deciding on the basis of what is best for me personally (usually understood in simple financial terms) or even for the UK alone but to look at our personal and national good in the context of international society and the importance of good relationships. It also means trying to step back and take in the bigger picture both historically but also in terms of the present nature and likely future development of the EU. At least three broad areas require serious Christian reflection and evaluation in discerning how to vote.

First, as regards its form, the EU is an international legal and political entity based on treaties between national governments. This means considering a Christian attitude to the role and limits of nations and national identity and the dangers of empire as well as consideration of the principle of the free movement of peoples and how it relates to our sense of belonging and place of national borders. Second, the EU also has motives and aims which shape its ethos. Here Christians must evaluate how it has assisted in moving Europe from war to peace, whether and how it has enabled solidarity both within Europe and between Europe and the poorer parts of the world, and whether, particularly in relation to economic life, it is driven by our contemporary idols in the Western world and, through the Euro and austerity, serving or undermining human flourishing. Finally, as the EU is best viewed as a political community it needs, from a Christian perspective, to be assessed in terms of how well it serves the pursuit of justice and whether its political structures are – or can be - representative of its 500 million people and whether they uphold the principle of subsidiarity which seeks to respect local and national governing structures and non-governmental forms of social life.

In the light of all these issues a number of arguments on both sides need to be rejected by Christians but, after exploring each of these areas, I believe it is possible to sketch out potential Christian arguments for each side of the debate focussing on these issues, often neglected in the wider political debate.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 29, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Anglican Bishop of the Enugu Ecclesiastical Province, Dr. Emmanuel Chukwuma, on Wednesday led a peaceful protest against the recent killings by herdsmen in the South East.
Joined by other clergymen and concerned Enugu State residents, the group marched through the major streets of Enugu to protest Monday’s attack of Nimbo in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State.
The group urged security agencies in the state to live up to their duty of protecting people’s lives and property.
Speaking with newsmen, Chukwuma encouraged Christians to intensify their prayers to conquer the challenge as “the Igbo cannot stay in their land and become strangers”.
He added: “The people of South East should stop patronising, empowering and engaging strangers in menial jobs so that they will stop killing our people.
“The state Governor, Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, said that we should pray and fast but prayer without action is nothing.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 28, 2016 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Tunde] Adeleye who is also the Archbishop of the Church of Nigeria, Calabar Archdiocese of the Anglican Communion, said: "Continued silence by the president over this violence and deadly attacks by Fulani herdsmen could be seen as if he is supporting his tribe's men. He needs to speak now to calm frayed nerves in the country.

"The Fulani herdsmen are now everywhere in the country, not only with their cows but with sophisticated arms. Where or how did they come about such weapons without the knowledge of the security agencies?"

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 28, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

‘To Your Credit’, the local churches’ grassroots movement and the Archbishop’s initiative to create a fairer financial system, has released the first of a series of four 10-minute films on ‘Money, Debt and Salvation.’ Six theologians will offer reflections on money and debt.

The Archbishop features in the first of the series, in a call to ‘challenge the sovereignty of money’.

“Credit and debt is one of the key issues that people face because it’s pervasive, it’s everywhere… The reason it’s so important is because the knock-on effect of credit and debt going wrong is so destructive. People’s lives are torn apart, their families are damaged.

“It’s a prophetic thing to get stuck into these issues because we have to challenge the sovereignty of money and finance over every aspect of our life. And to say in quite a revolutionary way, no you’re not in charge, human beings are the ultimate value.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Banking System/SectorPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 27, 2016 at 4:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two things are clear: the idea that a nation such as Britain can simply withdraw from the European project is a fantasy. Yet the European dream of a realm of freedom springing out of a diverse people rooted in shared values has lost its sparkle. What might a renewed and realistic vision look like?

In the story of Pentecost, people from north, south, east, and west find they can each hear the gospel in their own language. It’s not that there’s just one language and everyone has to speak it; there is a myriad of languages but the barriers to those different languages are taken away. This offers a vision for Europe: not one megastate or one system for everything, but a model of diversity as peace, the harnessing of divergent cultures for enrichment, the challenge and engagement of many systems for the benefit of all.

A renewed and realistic Europe can’t have sharp boundaries: it’s not for one kind of people, and it’s absurd to say Muslims don’t belong. It can’t be about keeping certain people out; it has to be about widening the tent and determining to flourish in new contexts. If it’s worried about mass inward migration, it must invest in the countries from which immigrants are coming and eradicate their reasons for fleeing their homes.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 27, 2016 at 11:22 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Contemporary sociological research provides extensive empirical evidence justifying the claim that polygamy is disadvantageous for society. [John] Witte cites Rose McDermott’s cross-cultural study of polygamy in 170 countries, which showed,

increased levels of physical and sexual abuse against women, increased rates of maternal mortality, shortened female life expectancy, lower levels of education for girls and boys, lower levels of equality for women, higher levels of discrimination against women, increased rates of female genital mutilation, increased rates of trafficking in women and decreased levels of civil and political liberties for all citizens.

At times, the case against polygamy has been made using arguments, often theological, that would not now hold much sway in the contemporary public square. The case against polygamy begins by considering marriage as a public good. The status of being married is not just about the individual persons and their private relationships; the state publicly recognizes marriage because marriage is a central component of the political common good. Legally recognizing polygamy is a matter entirely different from criminalizing three or more people who live together in a sexual relationship. To recognize polygamy in law is to ask for a governmental stamp of approval of such relationships as “marriages.” We may ask, therefore, whether polygamy is to the advantage or disadvantage of the public good.

Witte’s book is not a systematic political or philosophical treatise against polygamy. It rather provides a useful survey of what has been said over more than 2,000 years of discussion of the issue. The truth is that the good of marriage, and through it the good of future generations, is at stake in how we understand marriage and legally define it

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

5 Comments
Posted April 26, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United States is in a cultural crisis. There are gaping fissures between the rich and poor, growing tensions between races, disunity among faith groups, increasing resentment between genders, and a vast and expanding gap between liberals and conservatives. Generation, gender, socioeconomics, ethnicity, faith, and politics massively divide the American population.

And the Christian community has not been immune. Just look at the current election cycle. Candidates like Donald Trump have fiercely divided faith “tribes,” especially evangelicals. In recent research on the presidential race, Barna found that the five unique personal faith segments in America—evangelicals, non-evangelical born again Christians, notional Christians, people associated with non-Christian faiths, and religious skeptics—hold substantially different attitudes and candidate preferences, causing deep tensions and divides.

This splintering and polarization of American culture has made it more difficult than ever to have a good conversation. In research conducted for David Kinnaman’s new book Good Faith, Barna discovered just how difficult it is for most people to reach across these cultural divides. Most Americans indicate that they think it would be difficult to have a natural and normal conversation with minority groups who are different than them.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingHistoryPsychology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith Relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 23, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken control of six churches in the war-torn southeastern city of Diyarbakir in his latest move to squash freedom of speech and religious movement.

The state-sanctioned seizure is just the latest in a number of worrying developments to come out of increasingly hardline Turkey, which is in advanced talks with the EU over visa-free travel for its 80 million citizens.

Included in the seizures are Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox churches, one of which is over 1,700 years old.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeTurkey* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 21, 2016 at 1:07 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted April 21, 2016 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Laura] Turner’s article shows Lewis decrying the dangers of patriotism becoming a demon when it becomes a god. But Lewis has even more pointed wisdom to offer. His devil Screwtape urges the making of “an extreme patriot or an extreme pacifist,” exhorting us that “[a]ll extremes except extreme devotion to [God], are to be encouraged.” We turn blind eyes to this crisis of the extreme to our own peril.

From a life devoted to literature spanning centuries, Lewis offers an alternative to the trap of extremity. “The man who is contented to be only himself, and therefore less a self, is in prison,” Lewis says. “My own eyes are not enough for me, I will see through those of others.” He claims that generous exposure to other voices “heals the wound, without undermining the privilege, of individuality.”

Inspired by her long study of Lewis’s circle of friends, Diana Pavlac Glyer calls for such selfless exploration in her talk “Intellectual Hospitality.” Drawing from the Inklings’ practices, Glyer argues that “the impulse to gather, and the impulse to maintain a healthy space” suggest a discourse of distinction wherein we speak with grace even while maintaining very deliberate differences. We must hear voices other than our own.

Read it all.

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

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Posted April 21, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I know what it is like to have to juggle creditors to make it through a week. I know what it is like to have to swallow my pride and constantly dun people to pay me so that I can pay others. I know what it is like to have liens slapped on me and to have my bank account levied by creditors. I know what it is like to be down to my last $5—literally—while I wait for a paycheck to arrive, and I know what it is like to subsist for days on a diet of eggs. I know what it is like to dread going to the mailbox, because there will always be new bills to pay but seldom a check with which to pay them. I know what it is like to have to tell my daughter that I didn’t know if I would be able to pay for her wedding; it all depended on whether something good happened. And I know what it is like to have to borrow money from my adult daughters because my wife and I ran out of heating oil.

You wouldn’t know any of that to look at me. I like to think I appear reasonably prosperous. Nor would you know it to look at my résumé. I have had a passably good career as a writer—five books, hundreds of articles published, a number of awards and fellowships, and a small (very small) but respectable reputation. You wouldn’t even know it to look at my tax return. I am nowhere near rich, but I have typically made a solid middle- or even, at times, upper-middle-class income, which is about all a writer can expect, even a writer who also teaches and lectures and writes television scripts, as I do. And you certainly wouldn’t know it to talk to me, because the last thing I would ever do—until now—is admit to financial insecurity or, as I think of it, “financial impotence,” because it has many of the characteristics of sexual impotence, not least of which is the desperate need to mask it and pretend everything is going swimmingly. In truth, it may be more embarrassing than sexual impotence. “You are more likely to hear from your buddy that he is on Viagra than that he has credit-card problems,” says Brad Klontz, a financial psychologist who teaches at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and ministers to individuals with financial issues. “Much more likely.” America is a country, as Donald Trump has reminded us, of winners and losers, alphas and weaklings. To struggle financially is a source of shame, a daily humiliation—even a form of social suicide. Silence is the only protection...

Financial impotence goes by other names: financial fragility, financial insecurity, financial distress. But whatever you call it, the evidence strongly indicates that either a sizable minority or a slim majority of Americans are on thin ice financially. How thin? A 2014 Bankrate survey, echoing the Fed’s data, found that only 38 percent of Americans would cover a $1,000 emergency-room visit or $500 car repair with money they’d saved. Two reports published last year by the Pew Charitable Trusts found, respectively, that 55 percent of households didn’t have enough liquid savings to replace a month’s worth of lost income, and that of the 56 percent of people who said they’d worried about their finances in the previous year, 71 percent were concerned about having enough money to cover everyday expenses.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 20, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The present state of affairs, however, is that the theological and ethical diversity of United Methodism has reached a breaking point. I attribute this to what Jonathan Merritt has called America’s “new moral code.” Whereas conservatives have long bemoaned the rise of moral relativism, before our eyes there is occurring a sea change. Relativism is becoming a thing of the past. Absolutism is coming quickly upon us, and it is no less fraught with problems than the relativism it is replacing. From the perspective of our diverse denomination, the arrival of the new moral code presents the greatest danger to unity we have yet faced. Moral absolutism has exposed the holes in our polity that have allowed for an unauthorized regionalization of ethical decision making in the UMC.

Our denomination’s way of ordering its life assumes disagreement, a push and pull worked out through political processes, such as the legislative sessions of our various conferences. This is, as David Brooks has written, the very essence of politics, and our system is inherently political. No one gets everything they want, but the result is that we are able to live, worship, and work together. We resist the old Protestant impulse to part ways when we disagree, and we thereby avoid further fracturing the body of Christ. While the system is not perfect, it does in theory compel us to recognize the perspectives and interests of others. For diversity of thought to inhere within one community, the various factions of that community must abide by the recognized processes for dealing with disagreement.

In recent years, however, the rejection of the church’s way of ordering its life, and hence the theological diversity protected by that order, has undermined our unity with devastating effectiveness. Note that while conservative groups in the UMC have called for division before, they have never had as realistic a chance of accomplishing this as they do today. This desire for division itself was perhaps an early indicator of the trend toward moral absolutism. We might say the same thing about churches that for one reason or another refused to pay apportionments. Yet the primary rationale for division is not now, as it once was, rooted in a call for a more doctrinally and ethically conservative church. It is based on the breakdown of denominational governance that has become increasingly prevalent since 2013.

Read it all and follow the links.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted April 19, 2016 at 3:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For decades, the cultural gap between Southern cities and cities on the East and West Coasts has been narrowing to the point where the cultural riches of a place like Oxford, Miss. — with its literary scene and high end regional cuisine — are almost taken for granted.

But commerce and the Internet have pushed global sophistication into new frontiers. In Starkville, Miss., an unassuming college town that Oxford sophisticates deride with the ironic nickname “StarkVegas,” a coffee bar called Nine-twentynine serves an affogato prepared with espresso from Intelligentsia, the vaunted artisanal coffee brand.

With these cultural markers have come expressions of unblushing liberalism that would have been unthinkable a decade ago. In January, Bernie Sanders drew thousands to a rally in Birmingham, Ala. Last June, after the Supreme Court affirmed the right to same-sex marriage, the city government in Knoxville, Tenn., lit up a bridge in rainbow colors.

The result has been a kind of overlapping series of secessions, with states trying to safeguard themselves from national cultural trends and federal mandates, and cities increasingly trying to carve out their own places within the states.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationHistoryPsychologyReligion & CultureRural/Town LifeUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 18, 2016 at 3:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The first attempt to replicate the United States’s diplomatic advocacy for beleaguered believers worldwide has come to an end.
Five years ago, Canada’s Conservative party campaigned for a new office to champion the cause of international religious freedom (IRF). The office opened in 2013, looking to complement the strengths of the US State Department’s IRF office that it was modeled after.
But six months after the Conservatives lost national elections to the Liberal party, the four-person, $5 million Office of Religious Freedom (ORF) has been shut down.

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Posted April 7, 2016 at 9:42 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Uganda, the Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali, has urged the government of President Yoweri Museveni to release opposition leader Kizza Besigye from house arrest. In a homily given at All Saints Cathedral in Kampala on Easter Sunday, Archbishop Ntagali asked for the government to begin talks with the opposition FDC party (Forum for Democratic Change) to ease tensions in the wake of February’s general elections and to release Dr. Besigye, an Anglican, from confinement.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Uganda* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaUganda* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 6, 2016 at 5:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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