Posted by Kendall Harmon

If the opponents of that law were arguing that the Indiana statute tightens the federal standards a notch too far, that would be compelling. But that’s not the argument the opponents are making.

Instead, the argument seems to be that the federal act’s concrete case-by-case approach is wrong. The opponents seem to be saying there is no valid tension between religious pluralism and equality. Claims of religious liberty are covers for anti-gay bigotry.

This deviation seems unwise both as a matter of pragmatics and as a matter of principle. In the first place, if there is no attempt to balance religious liberty and civil rights, the cause of gay rights will be associated with coercion, not liberation. Some people have lost their jobs for expressing opposition to gay marriage. There are too many stories like the Oregon bakery that may have to pay a $150,000 fine because it preferred not to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex ceremony. A movement that stands for tolerance does not want to be on the side of a government that compels a photographer who is an evangelical Christian to shoot a same-sex wedding that he would rather avoid.

Read it all.

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

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Posted April 1, 2015 at 10:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Today, though, as I said above, I think the consensus center-left position has basically shifted toward the argument offered by Garrett Epps for The Atlantic: It doesn’t matter if Stutzman or any other wedding vendor is a nice person with sincere religious beliefs, and it doesn’t matter if she or they would provide her services to gay clients in any other context; her religious anxiety about decorating a wedding chapel for a same-sex couple is no different from the objection to integration of a Southern store-owner whose preacher taught him the races should be separate, and needs to be dismissed with extreme prejudice lest anti-gay discrimination flourish and spread.

And whether you find this view, this analogy, persuasive or you don’t, it has a lot of possible further implications. Because in the annals of American history, both Jim Crow and the means we used to destroy it are, well, legally and culturally extraordinary. So if our current situation with same-sex marriage and religious conservatives really is analogous, there is no obvious reason why we’ve reached any kind stopping point once the florists and bakers have been appropriately fined or closed down.

Hence the following seven questions about future steps, which I’ll pose specifically to Epps and generally to the Indiana law’s many liberal critics. Some are rooted in real-life examples and possibilities; some are much more (I think) unlikely. But I’m still quite interested in whether people would support them if they were to become plausible options a little ways down the road.

Read it all and there is a WSJ editorial on it there.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The election of the erstwhile strongman Muhammadu Buhari as Nigeria’s new president has set in motion what has been rare for the continent and even rarer for his country: a peaceful transition of power from a ruling party to the opposition.

The 72-year-old former general campaigned against the political establishment, courted the youth vote, and won an election broadly considered free and fair.

Mr. Buhari’s upset of an incumbent Nigerian president, said Philippe de Pontet, the Washington-based Africa head for Eurasia Group, a research and risk-consulting firm, is “arguably the most consequential political event in Africa in the last decade.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nigerians are so used to the idea that an incumbent should win presidential elections that President Goodluck Jonathan's failure to beat Gen Muhammadu Buhari needs some explaining. Here are five reasons why the opposition won

Read it all and see what you make of the list.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria

1 Comments
Posted March 31, 2015 at 4:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In his fourth democratic bid for Nigeria’s presidency, former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari finally claimed victory Tuesday, beating incumbent Goodluck Jonathan by more than 3 million votes, according to early counts of the polling.

Results are not yet official, but Buhari has claimed victory, and according to media reports, Jonathan has called his rival and conceded defeat.

The election marks the first time since Nigeria’s 1999 transition from military rule that the People’s Democratic Party has lost the country’s presidency and the first time an incumbent has been ousted from the office.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 31, 2015 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We are not speaking here of the believers across the planet who suffer grievous harm for the sake of faith. We’re talking instead about something else: the slow-motion marginalizing and penalizing of believers on the very doorsteps of the churches of North America, Europe, and elsewhere, in societies that are the very historical strongholds of political and religious liberty.

Men and women of faith in these societies are well-off, compared to many others. At the same time, though, their world is unmistakably darker and more punitive than it used to be. Let us show empathy and solidarity with all people who need it. Repeating the cardinal’s watchword, mercy, we hope that moral and political and intellectual leaders of all persuasions hear it too.

For there is no mercy in putting butchers and bakers and candlestick makers in the legal dock for refusing to renounce their religious beliefs—but that’s what the new intolerance does. There is no mercy in stalking and threatening Christian pastors for being Christian pastors, or in casting out social scientists who turn up unwanted facts, or in telling a flight attendant she can’t wear a crucifix, or in persecuting organizations that do charitable work—but the new intolerance does these things, too. There’s no mercy in yelling slurs at anyone who points out that the sexual revolution has been flooding the public square with problems for a long time now and that, in fact, some people out there are drowning—but slurs are the new intolerance’s stock in trade. Above all, there is no mercy in slandering people by saying that religious believers “hate” certain people when in fact they do not; or that they are “phobes” of one stripe or another when in fact they are not. This, too, happens all over public space these days, with practically no pushback from anyone. This, too, is the new intolerance at work.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureSexuality* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 31, 2015 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After the Supreme Court ruled in 1997 that the RFRA applied only to the federal government, states responded with mini-RFRAs requiring this "compelling government interest" test in their religious liberty cases. Of these, Indiana's RFRA is the 20th.

There is no excuse for refusing to serve a lesbian couple at a restaurant and to my knowledge no state RFRA has ever been used to justify such discrimination. But if we favor liberty for all Americans (and not just for those who agree with us), we should be wary of using the coercive powers of government to compel our fellow citizens to participate in rites that violate their religious beliefs. We would not force a Jewish baker to make sacramental bread for a Catholic Mass. Why would we force a fundamentalist baker to make a cake for a gay wedding?

For as long as I can remember, the culture wars have been poisoning our politics, turning Democrats and Republicans into mortal enemies and transforming arenas that used to be blithely bipartisan into battlegrounds between good and evil. Now our battles over "family values" are threatening to kill religious liberty. And liberals do not much seem to care.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 31, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A study guide designed to promote discussion about the House of Bishops' Pastoral Letter for the General Election has been issued by the Church of England.

The online document, aimed at individual and group study, includes a short summary of each section of the Pastoral Letter and offers questions for consideration and conversation.

Read it all and follow the link to the guide.

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 March 31, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Harmful alcohol use has been identified as one of the leading preventable causes of death and a key risk factor for chronic diseases (such as cancer) and injuries worldwide. Specifically, alcohol use is responsible for 5.9% – about 3.3m – of deaths across the globe every year. While there is an existing body of research on the economic impacts of sustained heavy drinking, however, less is known about the economic cost of binge drinking and the size of its impact on road traffic accidents and arrests.

Binge drinking is characterised by periods of heavy drinking followed by abstinence. It generally results in short-term acute impairment and is believed to contribute to a substantial proportion of alcohol-related deaths and injuries. Overall, ONS statistics would suggest a falling trend in the number of people who binge drink but it is still a sizeable problem – with four in ten young adults consuming up to eight units on at least one day in the week before being interviewed by the ONS.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchAlcohol/DrinkingHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 31, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop of Sheffield Dr Steven Croft says preparations are under way for the Queen's visit to the city's cathedral for her Maundy Thursday service.

The Queen will hand out Maundy money to 89 men and 89 women, the first time the service has been held in Sheffield.

Maundy Thursday recognises the service of elderly people to their community and their church.

Dr Croft said it had been a "huge amount of work for several months - in secret".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly WeekLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted March 30, 2015 at 3:51 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An influential group of bishops have called on Anglican churches to remove their investments from the fossil fuel companies that are driving climate change.

In a declaration and set of requests aimed at focusing the church’s attention on the “unprecedented climate crisis”, the 17 bishops and archbishops said investments in fossil fuel companies were incompatible with a just and sustainable future.

“We call for a review of our churches’ investment practices with a view to supporting environmental sustainability and justice by divesting from industries involved primarily in the extraction or distribution of fossil fuels,” they said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted March 30, 2015 at 12:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop Nicholas has is one of 17 Anglican bishops from all continents who have produced a Declaration calling for urgent prayer and action to tackle what they call an “unprecedented climate crisis”. Their declaration The World Is Our Host: A Call to Urgent Action for Climate Justice, released on Monday in Holy Week, sets a new agenda on climate change.

Bishop Nicholas was the Church of England’s representative on the group that produced the Declaration. Speaking after its launch, he said, “We accept the scientific evidence that human activity is more than 95% likely to be the main cause of global warming. This century began with fourteen of the fifteen hottest years ever.

“That our Declaration is issued in Holy Week and addressed to the Church on Good Friday is a mark of the seriousness with which we view the crisis of climate change.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted March 30, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Thousands of supporters of Nigeria's main opposition party on Sunday demonstrated in the oil-rich state of Rivers, calling for the cancellation of elections locally because of alleged irregularities.

The demonstrators from the All Progressives Congress (APC) converged on the local offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the state capital, Port Harcourt.

"We are here to register our protest that there was no election in Rivers state yesterday (Saturday)," Rivers state governorship candidate Dakuku Peterside told the crowd.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 30, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The National Black Church Initiative (NBCI), a faith-based coalition of 34,000 churches comprised of 15 denominations and 15.7 million African-Americans, has broken its fellowship with Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) following its recent vote to approve same-sex marriage.

The Presbyterian General Assembly, the top legislative body of the PCUSA, voted last June to revise the constitutional language defining marriage. This arbitrary change of Holy Scripture is a flagrantly pretentious and illegitimate maneuver by a body that has no authority whatsoever to alter holy text.

Rev. Anthony Evans, NBCI President noted:

"NBCI and its membership base are simply standing on the Word of God within the mind of Christ. We urge our brother and sisters of the PCUSA to repent and be restored to fellowship."

Read it all.


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

1 Comments
Posted March 29, 2015 at 2:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of (1) the prospects for a free and fair Presidential election in Nigeria in 2015, and (2) progress made by the Nigerian Independent National Electoral Commission towards minimising the possibility of electoral fraud. [HL5761]

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: The British Government is closely following developments ahead of Nigeria’s presidential and gubernatorial elections on 28 March and 11 April respectively. This vote will set Nigeria’s course for the next five years and beyond and as Africa’s largest democracy its impact will be felt well beyond its borders. It is vital the elections go ahead without any further delay on 28 March.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted March 28, 2015 at 10:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Under the shadow of Boko Haram violence, Nigerians head to the polls Saturday (March 28) to elect a president and a deputy in a vote observers say is critical for the country’s stability and economic progress.

In a twist that might have been difficult to predict, many Christians in Nigeria’s north are backing a Muslim candidate to lead their country away from the brink of violence and chaos.

Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim from the north and the leader of the All Progressives Congress party, is challenging the leadership of incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the south who heads the ruling People’s Democratic Party.

Some Nigerians fear that another term for Jonathan would mean institutionalization of corruption and emergence of more Muslim extremist groups in addition to Boko Haram. And they are willing to pin their hopes on a Muslim candidate.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 28, 2015 at 10:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Laws that disparately impact Christians can protect others from Christian attempts to take over society. If these laws are couched in terms of religious neutrality—like the “all comers” policies for student organizations—then those with Christianophobia can endorse them without worry about being stigmatized as bigoted. (There is a similar phenomenon noted in race/ethnicity scholarship. Public policy measures that seem racially neutral can work to the disadvantage of people of color. Restrictive immigration policies are theoretically racially neutral, but disproportionally affect Hispanic Americans.)

This helps to crystallize the current conflict in our society between conservative Christians and those with hatred towards them. Christians face economically, educationally, and socially powerful individuals who seek to drive them from the public square. Many with Christianophobia are convinced that conservative Christians will drag our society back into the Dark Ages and must be stopped with any measure that cannot be defined as overt religious bigotry.

An important challenge Christians have is to convince such individuals that they have the same rights to influence the public square as anyone else. Learning how to communicate, and hopefully find ways to co-exist, with them will help determine whether there will be a persistent cultural conflict or if a truce is possible.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted March 28, 2015 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Just because the Middle East’s descent into chaos is hardly the fault of the Obama administration, that doesn’t mean its policies in the region are not an egregious failure.

The situation in the region is unprecedented. For the first time since the World Wars, virtually every country from Libya to Afghanistan is involved in a military conflict. (Oman seems to be the exception.) The degree of chaos, uncertainty, and complexity among the twisted and often contradictory alliances and enmities is mind-boggling. America and its allies are fighting alongside Iran to combat the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria but in Yemen, the United States and many of those same regional partners are collaborating to push back Iranian-backed Houthi forces. Israel and Saudi Arabia are closely aligned in their concerns about Iran while historical divisions between the two remain great. Iran supports Bashar al-Assad in Syria; the United States and Western allies deplore his policies but tolerate his presence while some of the rebel forces we are supporting in the fight against the Islamic State in that country seek his (long overdue) removal. The United States wants the states of the region to stand up for their own interests — just not in Libya or when they don’t get America’s permission first.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle East* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 28, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Key Points

Millions of Nigerians voting in closely fought poll
President Goodluck Jonathan faces Gen Muhammadu Buhari
Jonathan is Christian southerner, Buhari a Muslim northerner
Delays due to problems with biometric voter cards

Follow it and pray for the election today.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria

0 Comments
Posted March 28, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The most sharply contested election in Nigeria’s post-independence history wound down to a tense conclusion on Saturday amid fears that a polarized electorate would clash regardless of the outcome in a country split on religious, ethnic and sectional lines.

There appeared to be little middle ground between partisans of the incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the south hated in the north for mismanaging a bloody Islamist insurgency at steep cost, and his challenger, Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler, a northerner and a belated democratic convert whose Muslim faith and authoritarian past are feared in the south.

Voters on Saturday morning crowded around registration stations here in the north’s largest city, a packed metropolis of more than five million, as hitches in the process added to the tension. Election officials were more than two hours late in some places, and malfunctioning electronic registration machines — a new system designed to limit endemic fraud — stymied voters in others.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This is just a wonderful picture.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the Elderly* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* General InterestPhotos/Photography* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria

0 Comments
Posted March 28, 2015 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the past six years, Boko Haram has terrorized the northeast region and burned down entire communities, killing thousands of people and abducting many more, including more than 200 missing schoolgirls.

The people driven from their homes are posing a challenge for Nigeria's electoral commission. The U.N. Secretary General's special representative for West Africa and high representative for Nigeria, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, says displaced people must be allowed to vote.

"These elections must be inclusive," Chambas says. "I got the assurance of the electoral commissioner that all efforts would be made to ensure that Nigerians internally displaced, as a result of Boko Haram terrorist activity, are not denied their franchise."

Nigeria is also grappling with a new biometric, voter ID card-reading system, which had hiccups during dry runs ahead of Saturday's vote.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 27, 2015 at 4:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.



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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last month I visited the Syrian refugee camp in Jordan known as Za’atari. With 80,000 occupants, the camp would be the fourth-largest city in Jordan. It occupies a vast desert plain, filled with endless rows of tents that are gradually being replaced with rows of metal-sided caravans. Za’atari is a dreary place, but it is teeming with resilient people.

Residents of camps like Za’atari make up only 20% of the nearly four million refugees who have fled Syria. The rest live in cities, where they are often unregistered and therefore ineligible for services. These refugees tend to live in squalor and are vulnerable to exploitation. Nearly 80% of the refugees are women and children. These figures don’t include the 12.2 million within Syria who are either internally displaced or in urgent need of help.

About 200,000 people have been killed in Syria, many after torture. A photographer, who documented these horrors for the regime but defected, smuggled his photos out of Syria; they were passed on to me by a Syrian non-governmental organization. These emaciated, disfigured corpses could be skeletal Jewish inmates photographed during the liberation of Dachau, but they aren’t. They are Syrian Muslims and Christians—and this is happening now.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPovertyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslamJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 27, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If the brisk pace of population growth and development along South Carolina’s coast seems unusual, that’s not your imagination.

The latest Census Bureau estimates show that few metropolitan areas in the nation are growing so quickly.

Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head and Charleston were the three fastest-growing metro areas on the Atlantic Coast in 2014, as they were in 2013.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentCensus/Census DataPolitics in GeneralState Government* South Carolina

0 Comments
Posted March 27, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The National Peace Committee for the 2015 General Elections, headed by former Head of State General Abdulsalami Abubakar, yesterday met behind closed-doors with President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja.

Members of the committee in attendance included the Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakar, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, Primate Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah, among others.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Most of the music for compline was by English composers, all immaculately sung as plainsong by the senior trebles and adults of the cathedral choir. The centrepiece of the service was Herbert Howells's motet, "Take him, earth, for cherishing", based on a poem by the Roman Christian poet Prudentius, and composed for John F. Kennedy's memorial service.

The RC Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, preached a sermon that emphasised the brutality of medieval wars and the tumultuous life and times of Richard III, a "child of war", a "refugee in Europe", whose reign was marked by unrest and who remained a controversial figure in the continual re-assessment of the Tudor period, "when saints can become bones and bones can become saints".

Baptism did not give holiness of life but gave it enduring shape, he reflected, describing the king as "a man of prayer, of anxious devotions". The Franciscans, Cardinal Nichols believed, would have buried Richard with prayer, even though that burial - which followed the ignominious parading of his naked and violently wounded body through the streets after the battle - had been hasty. He ended with the prayer that Richard "be embraced in God's merciful love".

Read it all.

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

4 Comments
Posted March 27, 2015 at 5:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An exodus from the mainly Christian quarter of Kano, the commercial centre of northern Nigeria, is taking place ahead of elections this weekend, because of fears of violence.

The main bus station in the Sabon Gari suburb is chaotic as thousands of people cram onto coaches heading to the east or west of the country.

"Kano is now closing for business because of the fear of the unknown," says the chairman of the bus station.

They are anxious to avoid a repeat of the communal violence that followed the vote in 2011 when those from different ethnic or religious groups were singled out for attack.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria

0 Comments
Posted March 26, 2015 at 10:22 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Anti-IS Sunnis think they should be armed again, as they were when the Americans fought al-Qaeda in Iraq, IS’s predecessor. But nobody is willing to give them weapons. “We wanted a national army,” says Ghazi Faisal al-Kuaud, a tribesman fighting alongside the government in Ramadi. “Instead they formed the Shia equivalent of IS.”

And Shia distrust of the Sunnis grows at a pace that matches that of the losses from its militias. Overlooking Najaf’s sprawling tombs, gravediggers talk of the brisk business they are doing burying militiamen. “I’ve never had it so busy,” says one. “Not even after 2003 or 2006 [the height of Iraq’s civil war].” The Sunnis “never accepted losing power from the time of Imam Ali, so why would they now?” asks Haider, a Shia shop owner. “Wherever you find Sunnis and you give them weapons, you will find IS,” says Bashar, a militiaman. Many Shias feel that the fight against IS justifies them in excluding Sunnis from government and the security apparatus.

The state that IS wanted to build looks more unlikely than ever to become a lasting reality, and that is good. The ruined territory on which it hoped to build, though, may end up even more damaged than it was at the outset.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What happens as the world becomes even more interconnected…and even more leaderless?

Some argue that globalization is grinding to a screeching halt. In a world of increased conflict and turmoil, where major powers jockey for influence, financial sanctions have become a go-to weapon and even the Internet threatens to splinter, then surely the cross-border flow of money, ideas, information, goods and services will begin to slow—or even reverse.

Others argue that globalization is really just Americanization by other means. After all, the United States still dominates the international financial system. Information hurtling through cyberspace promotes the democratization of information, because it creates demand for still more information and forces autocrats to care more about public opinion. As developing countries develop, aren’t they becoming more like America?

Not anymore.

Read it all and note the link to the full report provided.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 26, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The way to eliminate potholes, or at least diminish their number, is to keep the roads in good shape, with regular resurfacing. But far less is being done than required. And the same goes for the rest of the infrastructure in the US: not just roads, but ports and airports, bridges, railways and power grids, those boring basics that keep a country running. America, to believe the title of a recent television documentary on the subject, is falling apart – literally.

Not so long ago the opposite was true. The US was the shining future that had already arrived. It had the best technology, the most modern cities, the fanciest cars, the most up-to-date airports. The jewel in the crown was the interstate highway system, built in the 1950s and 1960s to knit a continent together.

Alas, sooner or later, youthful beauty fades. And so it is with America’s infrastructure. Many of those projects date back to the immediate post-war years, even to FDR’s New Deal to counter the Great Depression. More than half a century later, they’re in desperate need of overhaul or replacement.

Surveys merely confirm America’s relative slide.

Read it all from Rupert Cornwell.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryTravelUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 22, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tolkien’s political vision doesn’t fit neatly into the simple American two-party system, or into schools of thought developed by others. We wrote a book, The Hobbit Party, to do it justice. In Tolkien’s fiction, that vision involves diverse communities, what we might call “civil society,” and even trade between different species of sentient creatures. If allowed to speak on his own, Tolkien might help bridge the divide between conservative free-market thinkers and distributists.

But there’s a line running through all that nuance that isn’t the least complex, one we tried to capture in the title of the first chapter of our book: “In a Hole in the Ground There Lived an Enemy of Big Government.” Unlike the many self-appointed “radicals” in lockstep with the spirit of his age, Tolkien was the true ­radical—the square peg in the round hole of modernity. In an age of secularism and the growing leviathan state, he was a conservative Catholic calling for the old virtues, a more vibrant civil society, and smaller, less meddlesome government.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksPoetry & LiteratureReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 22, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On the one hand, scientists are excited about these techniques because they may let them do good things, such as discovering important principles about biology. It might even lead to cures for diseases.

The big worry is that CRISPR and other techniques will be used to perform germline genetic modification.

Basically, that means making genetic changes in a human egg, sperm or embryo.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 21, 2015 at 2:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You and President George H.W. Bush oversaw the fall of the Soviet Union. Is there anything to stop Vladimir Putin from going back to some version of that system?

Our response has been severely tepid. I don’t think you can stand up and say that if they keep doing this, there are going to be grave consequences, and then they keep doing it and we don’t do anything....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 21, 2015 at 2:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Christians in particular feel discriminated against.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A £100m recruitment plan for the Church of England has been criticised as a raid on church assets that has not been properly thought out and amounts to “spending the family silver”.

The proposals, submitted last month, are intended to address what Andreas Whittam Smith, head of the Church Commissioners, calls a “relentless decline in membership”. Mr Whittam Smith has previously said this has resulted in the average age of Anglican congregations approaching 70.

The commissioners manage the Church’s historic and investment assets, worth slightly more than £6bn at the end of 2013. Mr Whittam Smith wants to use about £100m of that to boost the number of ordained priests by 50 per cent.

This is in addition to the £2m already approved to train senior clergy and potential leaders in a “talent management” programme, a controversial proposal made in a report chaired by Stephen Green, the former chairman of HSBC and an ordained minister in the Church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church GrowthMinistry of the OrdainedStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

2 Comments
Posted March 21, 2015 at 10:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The proximate cause of Iraq’s unraveling was the increasing authoritarian, sectarian and corrupt conduct of the Iraqi government and its leader after the departure of the last U.S. combat forces in 2011. The actions of the Iraqi prime minister undid the major accomplishment of the Surge. [They] alienated the Iraqi Sunnis and once again created in the Sunni areas fertile fields for the planting of the seeds of extremism, essentially opening the door to the takeover of the Islamic State. Some may contend that all of this was inevitable. Iraq was bound to fail, they will argue, because of the inherently sectarian character of the Iraqi people. I don’t agree with that assessment.

The tragedy is that political leaders failed so badly at delivering what Iraqis clearly wanted — and for that, a great deal of responsibility lies with Prime Minister Maliki.

As for the U.S. role, could all of this have been averted if we had kept 10,000 troops here? I honestly don't know. I certainly wish we could have tested the proposition and kept a substantial force on the ground.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsIraq WarPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistanMiddle EastIraq* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted March 20, 2015 at 3:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Obama last week directed federal agencies to change the way graduates pay back student loans, the latest in a string of measures that aim to make college more accessible and affordable. Governors across the country have echoed the president’s claims that it is time to get college costs under control. Here’s one idea that wouldn’t cost taxpayers a nickel: Stop overregulating Bible colleges.

As it stands, some state education boards are keeping Bible colleges from issuing bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees. Instead, such colleges can only give out diplomas or certificates of completion. Bible colleges have an illustrious history in the U.S.—Congregationalist ministers founded Yale to equip young men for the ministry, after all—but many of today’s more than 1,000 Bible colleges are being relegated to second-class status.

In Illinois, our law firm recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of three Bible colleges, with the backing of the nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom, against the Illinois Board of Higher Education. The IBHE claims that the Bible colleges do not meet the state’s curriculum requirements, and therefore cannot issue degrees.

That claim is absurd.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaState Government* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 20, 2015 at 11:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Gov. Nikki Haley said Thursday she will oppose efforts to reopen the Barnwell County low-level nuclear waste dump to the nation.

At a State House news conference, Haley said the landfill should remain closed to states other than South Carolina, Connecticut and New Jersey, which have exclusive rights to the site.

"We just want the Legislature to know we don't want to go in that direction," Haley said of efforts to open the landfill to other states.

"We don't think that's healthy,” Haley said. "We don"t sell our soul for jobs and money."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in GeneralState Government* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 19, 2015 at 4:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read and listen to it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ukraine urged the European Union on Thursday to stay united in keeping up sanctions pressure on Russia over the conflict in eastern Ukraine, as EU leaders gathered for a two-day summit.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said that Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to divide Europe over Ukraine and that this would be a "disaster for the free world."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussiaUkraine* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 19, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Members of synod for the Episcopal Church of Cuba narrowly voted in favour of returning to the church’s former affiliation with The Episcopal Church at their recent meeting last month in Cardenas, Cuba.

The move came two months after the historic decision by the United States and Cuba to re-establish diplomatic relations after a 54-year hiatus. The Cuban church had been part of a province in The Episcopal Church until the 1959 revolution, which made travel and communication between the two churches difficult. The Metropolitan Council of Cuba (MCC)—which includes primates of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Province of West Indies and The Episcopal Church—was subsequently created to provide support and oversight.

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, and Archdeacon Michael Thompson, general secretary, attended the synod—which ran from Feb. 19 to 22—as representatives of the MCC.

Hiltz said the vote on that resolution, which was 39 in favour and 33 against, showed that the synod was divided on the issue. “When the results of the vote were announced, there was just absolute silence,” he said. “There were some people that were feeling a sense of victory and others who were feeling a real sense of loss.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of CanadaEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.CanadaCaribbeanCuba* Theology

6 Comments
Posted March 19, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Bishop of Rochester has addressed more than 2,000 people at a rally pressing for all political parties to commit themselves to a long term plan for ending the housing crisis.

The Rt Rev James Langstaff, who is chair of Housing Justice, the national voice of the churches on housing and homelessness, told the Homes for Britain event in central London that ensuring decent and secure housing in the right place and at an affordable cost is one of the most important issues for our society.

Read the whole address there.

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

0 Comments
Posted March 18, 2015 at 4:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Nigerian army said on Tuesday it had repelled Boko Haram from all but three local government districts in the northeast, claiming victory for its offensive against the Islamist insurgents less than two weeks before a presidential election.

At the start of this year, Boko Haram controlled around 20 local government areas, a territory the size of Belgium, in its bloody six-year-old campaign to carve out an Islamic state in religiously mixed Nigeria.

But a concerted push by Nigeria's military and neighbors Chad, Cameroon and Niger has regained considerable ground. At the weekend, Nigerian government forces recaptured the city of Bama, the second biggest in northeasterly Borno state.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted March 17, 2015 at 5:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Appallingly high infant mortality rates persist in eight South Carolina counties. Among the awful numbers that fully warrant the “Cradle of Shame” title of a Post and Courier series concluding in today’s paper:

On average, more than 200 newborns have died in those counties during each of the last three years.

Since 2000, 6,696 babies in South Carolina have died before their first birthday.

Eight of our state’s 46 counties lack an obstetrician.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 17, 2015 at 10:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some arguments are hard to settle but are too important to avoid. Here is one: whether the social crisis among America’s poor and working class — the collapse of the two-parent family, the weakening of communal ties — is best understood as a problem of economics or of culture.

This argument recurs whenever there’s a compelling depiction of that crisis. In 2012, the catalyst was Charles Murray’s “Coming Apart,” with its portrait of the post-1960s divide between two fictional communities — upper-class “Belmont” and blue-collar “Fishtown.” Now it’s Robert Putnam’s “Our Kids,” which uses the author’s Ohio hometown to trace the divergent fortunes of its better-educated and less-educated families.

Murray belongs to the libertarian right, Putnam to the communitarian left, so Putnam is more hopeful that economic policy can address the problems he describes. But “Our Kids” is attuned to culture’s feedback loops, and it offers grist for social conservatives who suspect it would take a cultural counterrevolution to bring back the stable working class families of an earlier America.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted March 16, 2015 at 2:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A crackdown by the Obama administration on “tax inversion” deals, which allowed US companies to slash their tax bills, has had the perverse effect of prompting a sharp increase in foreign takeovers of American groups.

In September the US Treasury all but stamped out tax inversions, which enabled a US company to pay less tax by acquiring a rival from a jurisdiction with a lower corporate tax rate, such as Ireland or the UK, and moving the combined group’s domicile to that country.

The move was designed to staunch an exodus of US companies and an erosion in tax revenues, but it has left many US groups vulnerable to foreign takeovers. Once a cross-border deal is complete, the combined company can generate big savings by adopting the overseas acquirer’s lower tax rate.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeTaxesThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Winner of two Pulitzer Prizes and scores of other awards, John Updike (1932–2009) is best known for his graphic but lyrical portrayal of the sexual infidelities of middle America. It was not for nothing that he was called the poet laureate of modern adultery. The most famous of his sixty-some books is Couples, the story of a band of spouse-trading friends, one of whom greeted her lover with the legendary words, “Welcome to the post-pill paradise.”

In his December Public Discourse article, Daniel Ross Goodman wrote that Updike’s two favorite themes were theology and adultery, and that in his writings religion “seems to overpower everything, even sex.” While Goodman deftly explored Updike’s literary brilliance and “wager” for faith, he did not unpack the inner dynamics of Updike’s religion or consider the possibility that it might be problematic. The truth of the matter is that Updike’s religion involved inner contradictions that were resolved only by forging a Christianity subordinated to the spirit of the age.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted March 14, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In an effort to block the state’s involvement with...[same-sex] marriage, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday (March 10) to abolish marriage licenses in the state.

The legislation, authored by Rep. Todd Russ, R-Cordell, amends language in the state law that governs the responsibilities of court clerks. All references to marriage licenses were removed.

Russ said the intent of the bill is to protect court clerks caught between the federal and state governments. A federal appeals court overturned Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage last year. Russ, like many Republican legislators in the state, including Gov. Mary Fallin, believes the federal government overstepped its constitutional authority on this issue.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

6 Comments
Posted March 13, 2015 at 11:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The UK asylum system's "ridiculous" approach to persecuted Christians in the Middle East must be reformed, a conference heard on Saturday.

The speaker, an Egyptian research Fellow at the University of Sussex, Dr Mariz Tadros, also challenged those who caution against Christians' leaving the region.

"I strongly disagree with the idea that, if we let them go, they will not come back," she said. "It's a very male-biased representation of what is going on. [We are hearing from] non-married religious leaders, not the mothers of young daughters at risk of being kidnapped, or of sons feeling almost suicidal."

She described the response of the UK asylum system to Christians seeking asylum as "atrocious", and "ridiculous". She said: "There needs to be pressure on Western governments to say 'Open your borders to allow these people to come.' They are dying of hunger and cold on the borders of Lebanon and Jordan."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle East* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 13, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Armed Forces charity bosses believe the full impact of the Afghanistan conflict is "yet to be seen" as the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and senior members of the Royal Family prepare for a service of commemoration at St Paul's Cathedral.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke of Cambridge, his heavily-pregnant wife Kate, and Prince Harry - who served two tours during the conflict - will also attend tomorrow's ceremony, held to mark the end of combat operations in the country, honour veterans of the campaign and remember the servicemen and women who lost their lives.

The families of some of those killed will also take part in the commemorations and v eterans of the 13-year campaign will march past the cathedral in a parade.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury Anglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 13, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The idea that Catholics are being radicalised in state schools is "ridiculous" and "offensive", the Conservative MP for Gainsborough will say today during a parliamentary debate on education, regulation and faith schools.

Sir Edward Leigh, who is also the president of the Catholic Union of Great Britain, will say in a speech that "faith schools should hold their heads up high" and should stand for Christian values, according to fragments of his speech seen by the Telegraph.

"[Faith schools] should not engage in the pre-emptive cringe and kowtow to the latest fashion but should stand by the principles that have made them such a success: love for God and neighbour; pursuit of truth; high-aspiration and discipline," Sir Edward will say.

“The idea that Catholics are being radicalised in state schools is as ridiculous as it is offensive,” he will say.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Saudi Arabia defended its human rights record on Saturday in its first public reaction to international criticism over last year's sentencing of liberal Saudi blogger Raif Badawi to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for "insulting Islam".

The first 50 of Badawi's lashes were carried out in January, prompting strong criticism of the kingdom's rights record in Western countries, including its laws on political and religious expression and the status of Saudi women.

"Saudi Arabia expresses its intense surprise and dismay at what is being reported by some media about the case of citizen Raif Badawi and his sentence," said a statement carried on state media and attributed to an unnamed "foreign ministry official".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesMediaReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 11, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Although he is largely incapacitated and can’t speak without the aid of a computerized voice, O.J. Brigance believes his life has value.

It was a message of hope the former Baltimore Ravens linebacker hammered home when he came out strongly against the proposed legalization of physician-assisted suicide in Maryland.

“Every day, every hour, every minute, every second of life, is God-given and valuable,” Brigance told members of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee during a March 10 hearing on the Death with Dignity Act. “To enact this legislation would devalue the lives and possible future contributions of Marylanders.”

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 11, 2015 at 5:44 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Les] Modder's 19 years of service includes many glowing fitness reports. He spent several years providing spiritual counsel to Navy SEALS, and in December received a letter of commendation from the head of the Navy Special Warfare Command, who called Modder the "best of the best" and a "talented and inspirational leader."

Modder's Liberty Institute attorney, Michael Berry, said the effort to fire him reflects a broader cultural change in the military.

"I think what we are seeing is a hostility to religious expression in the military now," Berry said. "What we're seeing is this new modern, pluralistic, Navy where service members are encouraged to be hypersensitive, especially about issues of faith, marriage and family."

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What I find most provoking, though, is [Yuval Noah] Harari’s insistence that in dealing with these problems, “nothing that exists at present offers a solution,” and “old answers” are as “irrelevant” now as they were (allegedly) during the Industrial Revolution.

He means this as a critique of religious revivalists in particular: Not only the Islamic State’s seventh-century longings, but any movement that seeks answers to new challenges “in the Quran, in the Bible.” Such seeking, he argues, led to dead ends in the 19th century, when religious irruptions from the Middle East to China failed to “solve the problems of industrialization.” It was only when people “came up with new ideas, not from the Shariah, and not from the Bible, and not from some vision,” but from studying science and technology, that answers to the industrial age’s dislocations emerged.

This argument deserves highlighting because I think many smart people believe it. And if we’re going to confront even modest versions of the problems Harari sees looming, we need to recognize what his argument gets wrong.

New ideas, rooted in scientific understanding, did help bring societies through the turbulence of industrialization. But the reformers who made the biggest differences — the ones who worked in the slums and with the displaced, attacked cruelties and pushed for social reforms, rebuilt community after it melted into air — often blended innovations with very old moral and religious commitments.

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

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Posted March 11, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A few years ago, I received in the mail an interfaith calendar along with a letter from Boston-area chaplains urging professors to be sensitive to students who might miss class to observe a holy day. I like to think I am as sensitive as the next guy, but this calendar was so chock full of holidays—including three different Christmases—that it was nearly impossible to find an “unholy” day.

There were birthdays to celebrate—for atheist Bertrand Russell, for scientologist L. Ron Hubbard and for the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie revered by Rastafarians. There were also death days and new years days and days of feasting and fasting. Was I really supposed to excuse Mormon students on Pioneer Day? And Baha’i students on the day of the ascension of their founder, Baha’u’llah?

This hyper-inclusive calendar came to mind when New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last week that the nation’s largest public-school system had decided to add two Islamic feast days, Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr, to its days off. Why stop there? Why not the winter solstice for Wiccans? Or Festivus for worshipers of Saint Seinfeld?

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

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Posted March 10, 2015 at 5:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Marijuana legalization got a boost on Capitol Hill on Tuesday as a trio of rising stars in the Senate launched an effort to rewrite federal drug laws.

The push to decriminalize at least the medical use of marijuana came from Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Democratic Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.

Their move comes as another sign of how rapidly the politics of marijuana are shifting on Capitol Hill. Long an issue avoided by lawmakers with big political ambitions, marijuana legalization now presents opportunities to make inroads with new voters.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 10, 2015 at 3:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a landmark ruling, a Barcelona judge has decided three sex workers should have been hired full-time by a brothel owner and ordered her to pay contributions to the government so the prostitutes will be eligible for national health care, disability insurance, unemployment benefits and government pensions.

The ruling issued in February - and made public this week - can be appealed and does not create a precedent for Spain's estimated hundreds of thousands of prostitutes, whose ranks are believed to have increased during the country's crushing financial crisis that started in 2008 and lingers with unemployment at 24 percent.

But advocates for sex workers said Tuesday that Judge Juan Agusti Maragall's decision is important because it recognizes the legal inability of some brothel workers to get benefits mandated for employees of companies.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesSexuality* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeSpain* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 10, 2015 at 3:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Every January, tens of thousands of Christian college students from all over the world attend the conference Passion, where they sing, pray, and hear from a variety of pastors, authors, and activists about issues resonating within evangelical culture. For the last several years, conference founder Louie Giglio has made the issue of human trafficking an increasingly central part of these activities. In 2013, 60,000 students gathered at Passion in Atlanta for a late-night candlelight vigil dedicated to celebrating “Jesus, the ultimate abolitionist, the original abolitionist,” Giglio told CNN. The organization’s anti-trafficking project designated Feb. 27 as “Shine a Light on Slavery Day,” encouraging young people to raise awareness by taking selfies with red X’s drawn on their hands.

Human trafficking—and sex trafficking in particular—has become something of a Christian cause célèbre. There are prayer weekends, movies, magazine covers, Sunday school curricula, and countless church-based ministries. More unusual efforts include lipstick sold to help “kiss slavery goodbye” and tattoo alteration services for victims who say they have been “branded” by their captors. An extraordinarily complex global issue has somehow become one of the most energetic Christian missions of the 21st century.

Many of the new anti-trafficking advocates compare their work to the 19th-century abolitionist movement against chattel slavery—with some leaders in the movement referring to themselves (and, apparently, Jesus) as “abolitionists.” But, according to Gretchen Soderlund, author of the 2013 book Sex Trafficking, Scandal, and the Transformation of Journalism, 1885–1917, the better comparison may be to the “white slavery” panic of the late 19th century.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureSexualityViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted March 10, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Faith schools, specialist provision for children with autism and a “dementia-friendly” primary in Devon are among the latest wave of free schools to be announced by David Cameron. More than 400 free schools have now been approved since the policy was launched in 2010, creating more than 230,000 places across the country.

A diverse list of 49 further new free schools, which are mainly due to open in September 2016, includes:

All-through schools, which combine primary and secondary education in single institutions, where a pupil can be enrolled at three or four – or even younger – and can stay on until 19.

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

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Posted March 10, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Events surrounding the apparent suicide of Tom Schweich, Missouri’s Republican state auditor and a contender for the governor’s office, have left some grappling with the connection between anti-Semitism and state politics.

Kenneth Warren, a professor of political science at St. Louis University, said he has no doubt that Jewish candidates face greater obstacles when running for statewide office in Missouri.

“All other things being equal, if you’re running statewide it would be better to be non Jewish,” Warren said. “It’s certainly not going to be a help.”

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

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Posted March 9, 2015 at 11:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Putnam then goes on to explain, through the lens of accumulated social-science research, how important parenting and family structure are to life outcomes for children. Early childhood stimulation, appropriate role models, stable expectations and family dinners are all part of the environment needed to produce upwardly mobile adults, and almost all are lacking today for Americans from less educated backgrounds. Many people overcome dysfunctional families, but it is far easier to do so with adequate resources. Economic inequality thus becomes self-reinforcing through the mechanism of absent families.

Putnam points out that while both gender and racial equality have greatly improved over this period, the gains have been completely offset by widening class differences. College-educated Americans have been pulling away from their high school-educated peers within subgroups such as African-Americans, Hispanics and women. There is today a substantial upwardly-mobile black middle class that, like its white counterpart, has moved to the suburbs and segregated itself from the poor.

Back in the 1980s, the debate over black poverty was polarised between liberals who blamed structural (ie economic) factors such as the decline in manufacturing jobs, and conservatives who denounced permissiveness and shifting cultural norms for the breakdown of families. Putnam makes very clear that both of these causes are at work in the present crisis. The huge erosion of middle-class jobs in countless manufacturing industries has led to a decline in real incomes of 22 per cent since 1980 for high-school dropouts, and 11 per cent for high-school graduates. But culture also matters: while rising joblessness produces social dysfunction in all societies, the stresses of the Great Depression did not lead to an explosion of single-parent families because of cultural norms then in place, such as the stigmatisation of unwed parenthood and shotgun weddings. Conservatives who see family breakdown as a simple matter of cultural decay, however, have to explain the emergence of “helicopter parents” and steadily strengthening family bonds among the college-educated.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyPoverty* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinancePolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 8, 2015 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mr. Cleary’s bill would put the cap at $1,400 and would have all of the sales taxes collected for motor vehicles applied to road and bridge improvements. The bill also seeks additional funding by closing other tax exemptions. And it would make long-term cost cuts possible by turning over local roads under state control to local jurisdictions, with funding assistance for their maintenance. Of the 41,000 miles of state roads, almost 45 percent are a mile or less in length.

Mr. Cleary estimates that his plan would raise $800 million a year, all of which would be directed to the specific purpose of improving the state road system. Indeed, the gas tax should be viewed as a user fee, by which motorists pay for the wear and tear on the state’s highways and bridges. It is evident that the gas tax hasn’t kept pace with the need, and that additional sources of revenue will have to be tapped.

Funding for a safe transportation system is a primary responsibility of the Legislature, and the evidence clearly available to the motoring public shows just how badly the Legislature has fallen down on the job. Lawmakers should take a simple, direct approach that will begin to address the specific problem of road needs, without getting sidetracked on issues of tax neutrality and agency restructuring. Keeping highways and bridges functional and safe shouldn’t be such a difficult problem for the Legislature to address.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchTravel* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceTaxesEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in GeneralState Government* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted March 8, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some countries want nuclear weapons to prop up a tottering state. Pakistan insists its weapons are safe, but the outside world cannot shake the fear that they may fall into the hands of Islamist terrorists, or even religious zealots within its own armed forces. When history catches up with North Korea’s Kim dynasty, as sooner or later it must, nobody knows what will happen to its nukes—whether they might be inherited, sold, eliminated or, in a last futile gesture, detonated.

Others want nuclear weapons not to freeze the status quo, but to change it. Russia has started to wield nuclear threats as an offensive weapon in its strategy of intimidation. Its military exercises routinely stage dummy nuclear attacks on such capitals as Warsaw and Stockholm. Mr Putin’s speeches contain veiled nuclear threats. Dmitry Kiselev, one of the Kremlin’s mouthpieces, has declared with relish that Russian nuclear forces could turn America into “radioactive ash”.

Just rhetoric, you may say. But the murder of Boris Nemtsov, an opposition leader, on the Kremlin’s doorstep on February 27th was only the latest sign that Mr Putin’s Russia is heading into the geopolitical badlands.... Resentful, nationalistic and violent, it wants to rewrite the Western norms that underpin the status quo. First in Georgia and now in Ukraine, Russia has shown it will escalate to extremes to assert its hold over its neighbours and convince the West that intervention is pointless. Even if Mr Putin is bluffing about nuclear weapons (and there is no reason to think he is), any nationalist leader who comes after him could be even more dangerous.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UKEuropeRussiaMiddle EastIran* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 8, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Forces from the group calling itself Islamic State launched a fresh offensive to overrun a string of Christian towns in northeastern Syria on Saturday, setting off violent clashes with local fighters mobilized against the militants.

A mixture of Assyrian Christians and Kurds fought off the Islamic State assault, activist groups said, just a week after extremists took about 250 people in the area—many women, children and elderly men.

The contested towns are along the Khabur river in al-Hasaka province, a strategic gateway that would help Islamic State consolidate territory it holds in Iraq and Syria. The population of the area is predominately Christian, while the Kurds are a minority.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 8, 2015 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The nation’s shortage of doctors will rise to between 46,000 and 90,000 by 2025 as the U.S. population grows, more Americans gain health insurance and new alternative primary care sites proliferate.

A new study announced by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), a lobby for medical schools and teaching hospitals, said “the doctor shortage is real” with total physician demand projected to grow by up to 17 percent as a population of baby boomers ages and the Affordable Care Act is implemented.

“It’s particularly serious for the kind of medical care that our aging population is going to need,” said Dr. Darrell Kirch, AAMC’s president in a statement accompanying the analysis by research firm IHS.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 7, 2015 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Discrimination against Christians is being “ignored” by governments and courts, MPs from across Europe have warned in the wake of a string of cases involving the rights of British workers to wear crosses or discuss their beliefs.

The parliamentary arm of the Council of Europe has issued a formal declaration urging states to recognise the principle of “reasonable accommodation” for the beliefs of traditionalist Christians on issues such as homosexuality for the first time.

The first test of the new call will come as early as this week with the opening of an employment tribunal case involving a London nursery worker who claims she was dismissed for telling a lesbian colleague her beliefs on same-sex marriage.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 7, 2015 at 12:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“We’re moving on Salahaddin,” said Badr Organization spokesman and military commander Karim al-Nouri. “And there are three names that strike fear in the heart of daesh: Hajj Qassem Suleimani, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and Hadi al-Amiri.”

These three figures might not be household names in Indiana, but in Iraq they are the biggest stars within the constellation of Shiite militias that are now trying to drive the Islamic State out of Tikrit, the capital of Salahaddin province. Suleimani, who is the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, regularly travels around the Middle East to lend support to Tehran’s allies; Muhandis, who is the leader of the Kataib Hezbollah militia, was convicted for the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait; and Amiri is the commander of the Badr Organization, one of Iraq’s largest and most prominent Shiite militias. Together, they form the backbone of Iranian influence in Iraq, which is at its highest point in almost four centuries.

Iraq’s Shiite militias have seen their influence skyrocket since last summer, as they have played a central role in beating back the Islamic State’s advance in Baghdad and the surrounding area. Tikrit, however, presents them with new challenges: It is the largest predominantly Sunni city that they have sought to reclaim, and U.S. officials have warned of a sectarian bloodbath if the militias launch an offensive there.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIranIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 7, 2015 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Peace talks aimed at ending the South Sudan conflict have been extended indefinitely after the government and rebels missed the deadline for a deal.

The talks in Ethiopia are being mediated by the East African regional bloc, Igad, which had given both sides until Thursday to reach agreement.

The UN imposed limited sanctions this week and the US warned both sides of further steps if no deal was reached.

The 14-month conflict has displaced 1.5 million people and killed thousands.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 6, 2015 at 12:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tolerance is a worthy value. But as Stanford law professor Michael McConnell explained in a Yale Law Journal article, government’s role is to protect the “full and free” exercise of religion while not making theological judgments. “Toleration presupposes a ‘dominant group’ with a particular opinion about religion (that it is ‘false,’ or at least ‘unwarranted’), who decide not to ‘eradicate’ beliefs they regard as ‘wrong, mistaken, or undesirable.’ ”

Like courts in most free countries, the US Supreme Court has been careful not to pass judgment on any religion. And in each case, it tries to carefully navigate boundaries between religious expression and public needs. Such cool and calm consideration is a badly needed balm for the kind of fiery violence over religion in much of the world.\

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

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Posted March 6, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The real point is that the economic landscape in which we are operating is not only competitive; it is changing constantly. This year, our industry reached an important milestone. For the first time, people are spending more time on mobile devices than on their desktop computers. Time spent on desktops has now fallen to just 40%. And people use mobile devices very differently from the way they use desktops. Seven out of every eight minutes spent on a mobile phone is spent within an app, and the most popular app in the world is Facebook.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 5, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Kenya Eliud Wabukala and his South Sudan counterpart Daniel Dena Bul have appealed to the international community to fast-track peace efforts to resolve the conflict in South Sudan.

Speaking in Mogotio during a church function, the clerics said the on-going war was all about power struggle and not ethnic difference.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of KenyaEpiscopal Church of the Sudan* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 5, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Based on oral arguments this morning, the latest Supreme Court showdown over Obamacare could lead to another narrow ruling determining the fate of the health-care program. Here are five important takeaways from the hearing in King v. Burwell, a challenge an IRS rule providing financial assistance to millions purchasing health insurance through federal-run exchanges offered in states that did not create their own online marketplaces....

(1) The vote will be close. The four justices from the court's liberal wing appear on board with the Obama administration's argument that all exchanges -- whether state or federal -- can offer subsidies. Justice Anthony Kennedy and Chief Justice John Roberts are still potential swing votes. Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito seem to sympathize with the plaintiffs' argument that the text of the Affordable Care Act only authorizes subsidies in state-run exchanges....

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinancePolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Without becoming naïve, people needed to have greater faith in the “other”, Lord Williams said, and reject political and media rhetoric that fosters panic and mistrust of politicians, people in public life, organisations or charities.

“Our politics and our media really thrive on mistrust,” he said. “It seems the basic emotion we’re encouraged to feel by quite a lot of political and media rhetoric is a sort of mild, subdued panic.

“There comes to be a corrosive, circular, enclosed world in which what you are always longing for is a good reason to not trust someone. I don’t think that can be good for us.”

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

3 Comments
Posted March 4, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Supreme Court on Wednesday considers the most serious challenge to the Affordable Care Act since the justices upheld it as constitutional almost three years ago.

At issue is whether millions of Americans who receive tax subsidies to buy health insurance are doing so illegally. If the justices rule that the payments are not allowed, the entire health-care law could be in jeopardy.

The latest showdown between the Obama administration and the conservative legal strategists who have targeted the law since its passage in 2010 focuses on a once obscure phrase in the legislation: “established by the State.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted March 4, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The area that the MNJTF will be covering draws the force's first limit.

Military and diplomatic sources have confirmed that MNJTF soldiers will only operate between the outskirts of Niger's Diffa border town, and the towns of Baga and Ngala in Nigeria.

In other words, the regional force's main task will be to secure the Nigerian side of Lake Chad, which represents "only 10 to 15% of the entire area where Boko Haram operates", according to a diplomat based in the region, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On Russian social media, liberal Moscow has struggled to wrap its head around something that seemed like it simply couldn’t happen, until it did. It had been years since Nemtsov, a rising star in Yeltsin-era politics, had been the standard-bearer of Western liberalism, and he could be a silly bon vivant. But he was deeply intelligent, witty, kind and ubiquitous. He seemed to genuinely be everyone’s friend; when I lived in Moscow as a journalist, he was always willing to jaw over endless glasses of cognac. And he was a powerful, vigorous critic of Vladimir Putin, assailing him in every possible medium, constantly publishing reports on topics like the president’s lavish lifestyle and the corruption behind the Sochi Olympics.

How could such a prominent politician — a founder of the opposition Solidarity Party, a sitting member of the Yaroslavl city parliament — be gunned down so brazenly, within steps of the Kremlin? “We didn’t kill members of government,” Gleb Pavlovsky, an independent political consultant who used to work for Putin, told me over the phone. “It’s an absolutely new situation.” Olga Romanova, a prominent opposition activist and a close friend of Nemtsov, said, “There are more cameras in that spot than there are grains in a packet of grain.” When I called her last night, she had just come from the scene of the crime, where her friend still lay on the ground, surrounded by laughing policemen. “It’s the first time I’ve seen a very close person murdered, lying on the pavement,” she said. “It’s terrifying.”
Continue reading the main story

Putin promptly called Nemtsov’s mother to offer his condolences and threw what seemed like the entire Ministry of Internal Affairs on the case. Yet we can be sure that the investigation will lead precisely nowhere.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/Fire* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussia* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 2, 2015 at 5:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...look where Greece has ended up after five years of crisis resolution. It has had one of the worst performances in economic history; yet we have just concluded an extension of the same policy.

Can this be sustainable? The pragmatists in Europe’s chancelleries say they can roll over loans indefinitely at very low interest rates. Economically, this is the equivalent of a debt writedown; yet politically it is easier to deliver because you do not need to recognise losses. The equivalent statement in a military conflict would be: if you renew a ceasefire often enough, you end up with peace.

This type of argument is not only immoral and dishonest. It also does not work. While you play this game of ex­tend-and-pretend, the real economy implodes: austerity has caused a meltdown in income and employment. Monetary policy mistakes caused a fall in eurozone-wide inflation rates that made it impossible for Greece and other periphery countries to improve the competitiveness they lost in the early years of monetary union.

If the EU deals with Ukraine in the same way it dealt with Greece, you can expect to see a parallel development in a few years.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeGreeceRussiaUkraine

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Posted March 2, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Republican Gov. Nikki Haley has been meeting with some GOP House members — as recently as Tuesday at the Governor’s Mansion — in an effort to merge two competing road repair proposals.

Haley’s plan to fix S.C. roads and a proposal by state representatives had appeared to be on course for a head-on crash. But the two bills soon may become one vehicle, aimed at repairing and maintaining the state’s roads.

In meetings with House GOP caucus members, Haley has indicated a willingness to compromise on gas tax hikes, the size of a cut in the state’s income tax and how to restructure the state Transportation Department.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchTravel* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in GeneralState Government* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 1, 2015 at 12:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
If you want to read the whole 1910 speech you may find it here.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted February 28, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all and follow all the links.

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

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Posted February 28, 2015 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I fear I will be in trouble once again with some people in the church as I find myself, in conscience, having to go against the line that the churches are taking on so-called three-parent families.

I am, to be clear, firmly in favour despite the opposition shown by some of my colleagues and a powerful lobby of critics from abroad.

A Bill passed by the House of Commons earlier this month will allow for a procedure in which a small proportion of a third person's DNA is used to create an embroyo in order to prevent potentially fatal genetic disorders. Scientists have found techniques to replace faulty mitochondrial DNA - mitrochondria are microscopic energy creating structures in the human cell - with donated DNA, and Britain is set to be the first country to endorse the practice.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted February 28, 2015 at 2:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The historian Tom Holland tweeted...[yesterday] morning: ‘What ‪#ISIS are doing to the people & culture of ‪#Assyria is worthy of the Nazis. None of us can say we didn’t know....’

There are a few thousand Assyrians in Britain, many of whom were given right of entry because their grandfathers fought alongside the British in two world wars. They are immensely proud of their heritage, and fond of the British Museum where so much of it remains safe; can one imagine how they feel watching footage of these savages destroying what their ancestors built and which they hoped to pass on to their descendants?

There are currently Assyrian troops fighting alongside the Kurds on the front line with Isis, but they are short of weapons. They say they have got little military support from the West, just as they have received little political support in the past; before the latest crisis broke out Assyrians in Iraq campaigned for a safe haven in the Nineveh Plains where they and other minorities, namely the Yazidi, could protect themselves inside the country. Without support from the Americans, the Baghdad government would not agree, and in light of recent events it seems like a reasonable request now.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeTurkeyMiddle EastIran* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 28, 2015 at 1:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Russia has become a danger to Britain and the country must be prepared to take steps to defend itself and its allies, the former head of MI6 says.

Sir John Sawers, who recently retired after five years as chief of the Secret Intelligence Service, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that Russia poses a "state to state threat".

Sir John said dealing with such threats would require more defence spending.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeRussia* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 28, 2015 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Russian opposition leaders on Saturday accused the Kremlin of being behind the death of a towering figure of post-Soviet politics, Boris Nemtsov, as they struggled to come to grips with the highest-profile assassination of President Vladimir Putin’s 15 years in power.

Nemtsov was gunned down late Friday, steps from the Kremlin and underneath the swirling domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral — the heart of power in Russia and one of the most secure areas in the nation. The slaying of one of Putin’s most biting critics swept a wave of fresh vulnerability over those in the opposition, and some expressed new fears for their lives.

Putin and other allies said that the assassination was a provocation intended to discredit the Kremlin. There were no immediate suspects brought into custody in the drive-by shooting. Authorities said they were working hard to track down a light-colored sedan that was captured on surveillance cameras as Nemtsov crossed a bridge over the Moscow River on an unseasonably warm February night.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussia* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 28, 2015 at 9:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

China’s central bank cut interest rates on Saturday, just days before the annual meeting of the country’s parliament, in the latest effort to support the world’s second-largest economy as its momentum slows and deflation risks rise.

The central bank said the 25 basis point cut in the benchmark interest rate to 5.35 per cent - its second cut in just over three months - and a 25 basis point cut in the benchmark saving rate to 2.5 per cent would be effective from Sunday.

“The focus of the interest rate cut is to keep real interest rate levels suitable for fundamental trends in economic growth, prices and employment,” the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) said in a statement on its website.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina

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Posted February 28, 2015 at 8:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Neuhaus sympathized with [many so-called 'conservatives'] grievances—over abortion and gay rights, challenges to school prayer and to Christian displays in public, and the coarsening of American culture. But he rejected their solution because the groups, he wrote, saw no reason “to engage the Christian message in conversation with public and universal discourse outside the circle of true believers.” Neuhaus instead affirmed the core premise of Enlightenment political thought: the differentiation of public authority into separate, autonomous spheres that valued individual rights.

He argued that the strongest support for these rights came from the Judeo-Christian tradition’s foundational conviction: We are made in the image of God. Demanding absolute obedience to political dictates, whether in the name of God or something else, would undo centuries of political progress, and goes against God’s own gift of free will to every human person.

And so he rejected the Christian right’s political project of establishing an explicitly Christian America. He further reasoned that if the right’s only argument for how Christians could contribute to American public life was through exclusively religious dictates, then it made sense that secular elites were pushing back so strongly.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 27, 2015 at 11:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...an appreciation for human sinfulness—which Niebuhr drew from his Christian faith—helps us guard against unchecked power in government. But an appreciation for human potential—drawn from the Biblical notion that human beings are made in the image of God—should also lead us to value human freedom. As Niebuhr famously put it in his foreword, “Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.” Importantly, Niebuhr grounded democracy’s necessity in the nature of mankind, without qualification, not in cultural or social factors unique to the West. What is true about human nature in the West is also true of human nature in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Niebuhr then suggests—contrary to the realists who want to appropriate him—that the goodness of democracy should lead us, by love of our neighbor, to make its spread a part of our foreign policy. Niebuhr’s well-known complaint against Wilsonianism wasn’t that it was idealistic, but that it was naive. In Children of Light and the Children of Darkness he applauds the idealism of democracy, even as he understands that it will inevitably be hypocritical: “Hypocrisy and pretension are the inevitable concomitants of the engagement between morals and politics. But they do not arise where no effort is made to bring the power impulse of politics under the control of conscience.” The effort itself is sound in principle; better to be a failed idealist than a successful cynic.

This is the part of Niebuhr that today’s realists fail to hear.

Read it all.

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

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Posted February 27, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As usual your editorial on casino gambling reflects the past and current thinking in South Carolina that we must never move into the 21st century. The attitude of our politicians to keep South Carolina as backward as they can is bad enough. But for The Post and Courier to espouse the same old argument that any form of gambling is going to target the poor and irresponsible is just thinking from the past.

Are we to ignore the reality that if someone wants to gamble he will find a way, no matter the cost or any other obstacle? If you don’t believe that, go to any convenience store and observe who is buying all of those lottery tickets.

Wouldn’t it be something for visitors to Charleston to ride down I-26 through the neck area and see large casinos with hotels and theme park environments rather than the blighted area it now is?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGamblingPoverty* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 27, 2015 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As reported in [a recent] ...Post and Courier, House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, D-Richland, wants to let voters decide, via statewide referendum, whether to legalize casino gambling.

Rep. Rutherford made his case this way last month: “If you have casinos on the coast and dedicate them as a funding source on our roads, you have something that goes into fixing a problem.”

But if you have casinos on the coast you also have other problems, including a notoriously unreliable source of funding from a cruel tax of sorts imposed to a significant degree on the poor, the gullible, and compulsive gamblers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGamblingPoverty* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 27, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two notable differences in family life in the United States have emerged in the past 60 years: average, middle-class families aren’t economically flourishing and there are fewer traditional family units than ever before. Lerman, now a professor of economics at American University and a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, says these two factors are linked. Changes in family structures have sabotaged the financial confidence of middle-class Americans and led to the decline of working-class men in the labor market, say Lerman and Bradford Wilcox in their 2014 paper for the American Enterprise Institute, “For richer, for poorer: How family structures economic success in America.”

The erosion of the intact family — as defined by Lerman and Wilcox as a retreat in marriage, an increase in cohabitation and out-of-wedlock births, a prevalence of single-parent homes, and a rise in step-families — has affected the economic outcomes of children and thus led to further income inequality between American families.

“Young men and women from intact families enjoy an annual ‘intact-family premium’ that amounts to $6,500 and $4,700, respectively, over the incomes of their peers from single-parent families,” wrote Lerman and Wilcox. “Men and women who are currently married and were raised in an intact family enjoy an annual 'family premium' in their household incomes that exceeds that of their unmarried peers who were not raised in intact families by at least $42,000.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinancePolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 26, 2015 at 6:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Austria’s Parliament passed a law Wednesday (Feb. 25) that seeks to regulate how Islam is administered, singling out its large Muslim minority for treatment not applied to any other religious group.

The “Law on Islam” bans foreign funding for Islamic organizations and requires any group claiming to represent Austrian Muslims to submit and use a standardized German translation of the Quran.

The law met with little opposition from the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic population, was backed by Austria’s Catholic bishops, and was grudgingly accepted by the main Muslim organization. But it upset Turkey’s state religious establishment.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeAustria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 26, 2015 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At any given time, around 7,000 aircraft are flying over the United States. For the past 40 years, the same computer system has controlled all that high-altitude traffic—a relic of the 1970s known as Host. The core system predates the advent of the Global Positioning System, so Host uses point-to-point, ground-based radar. Every day, thousands of travelers switch their GPS-enabled smartphones to airplane mode while their flights are guided by technology that predates the Speak & Spell. If you're reading this at 30,000 feet, relax—Host is still safe, in terms of getting planes from point A to point B. But it's unbelievably inefficient. It can handle a limited amount of traffic, and controllers can't see anything outside of their own airspace—when they hand off a plane to a contiguous airspace, it vanishes from their radar.

The FAA knows all that. For 11 years the agency has been limping toward a collection of upgrades called NextGen. At its core is a new computer system that will replace Host and allow any controller, anywhere, to see any plane in US airspace. In theory, this would enable one air traffic control center to take over for another with the flip of a switch, as Howard seemed to believe was already possible. NextGen isn't vaporware; that core system was live in Chicago and the four adjacent centers when Howard attacked, and this spring it'll go online in all 20 US centers. But implementation has been a mess, with a cascade of delays, revisions, and unforeseen problems. Air traffic control can't do anything as sophisticated as Howard thought, and unless something changes about the way the FAA is managing NextGen, it probably never will.

This technology is complicated and novel, but that isn't the problem. The problem is that NextGen is a project of the FAA.

Read it all.

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

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




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