Posted by Kendall Harmon

Religious freedom in America is under threat, and the battle is already in progress. For the most part, the burden of the struggle has been borne by Christians. America’s Jews, living safely behind the front lines, have paid little heed. But that safety is likely to be ephemeral. If freedom falls for those now fighting for their religious rights, it can fall for all, prominently including a community characterized by its attachment to an ancient and traditional moral code and defining ritual practices.

The threat emanates from a classic question: what is the proper relationship between church and state? The tension is as old as recorded history. It appears in the Epic of Gilgamesh and throughout Greek mythology. Some societies, from the pharaohs of ancient Egypt to Japan’s chrysanthemum throne, imbued their rulers with divinity. In Christendom, western kings answered to the pope while eastern churches supported the emperor. In Islam, the caliph held titles of both temporal and spiritual authority. England maintains an established church still today, while France severed its formal ties to Catholicism more than a century ago. In Jewish tradition, the Second Temple period was replete with conflicts between royals and priests—hence the rabbinic reluctance to embrace the Hasmoneans, priestly usurpers to the throne whose victories are celebrated annually by today’s Jews at Ḥanukkah. In modern-day Israel, selected areas of civil governance have been relegated entirely to religious authorities.

The U.S. Constitution, steeped in classical liberalism, attempted a novel—and ingenious—resolution. It combined the absence of an official, “established” religion with the individual’s freedom to choose and follow his faith.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchEducationHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism

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Posted August 25, 2015 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Army created the Human Terrain System — at the height of the counterinsurgency craze that dominated American strategic thinking in Iraq and Afghanistan late in the last decade, with much fanfare — to solve this problem. Cultural training and deep, nuanced understanding of Afghan politics and history were in short supply in the Army; without them, good intelligence was hard to come by, and effective policy making was nearly impossible. Human Terrain Teams, as Human Terrain System units were known, were supposed to include people with social-science backgrounds, language skills and an understanding of Afghan or Iraqi culture, as well as veterans and reservists who would help bind the civilians to their assigned military units.

On that winter day in Zormat, however, just how far the Human Terrain System had fallen short of expectations was clear. Neither of the social scientists on the patrol that morning had spent time in Afghanistan before being deployed there. While one was reasonably qualified, the other was a pleasant 43-year-old woman who grew up in Indiana and Tennessee, and whose highest academic credential was an advanced degree in organizational management she received online. She had confided to me that she didn’t feel comfortable carrying a gun she was still learning how to use. Before arriving in Afghanistan, she had traveled outside the United States only once, to Jamaica — “and this ain’t Jamaica,” she told me.

She was out of her depth, but at least she tried to be professional.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistanMiddle EastIraq* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has failed to sign a peace deal in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, aimed at ending the civil war in his country.
The government has initialled a draft agreement, but requested a further 15 days before signing in full.
International sanctions had been threatened by mediators if both sides failed to reach an agreement on Monday 17 August.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Ireland* Culture-WatchPovertyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--North Sudan--South Sudan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 18, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are important reasons why it is a gigantic misstep for Amnesty to advocate for the decriminalization of sex buyers. First, the empirical evidence of potential benefits from making it permissible to purchase sex is weak while the costs may be enormous. New Zealand decriminalized prostitution in 2003 and yet the country’s Prostitution Law Review Committee found in its evaluation that a majority of prostituted persons felt that the decriminalization act “could do little about violence [in prostitution].” At the same time, several studies have found that countries where buying sex is decriminalized, sex trafficking is more prevalent.

Second, decriminalizing buying sex seems to be at odds with Amnesty’s core objectives. One of the reasons that there are so many of us who have strongly supported Amnesty for years is the organization’s steadfast commitment to the fundamental rights of individuals, whether they are refugees, prisoners of conscience, or victims of torture. But buying sex is not a human right.

Instead of adopting a harmful proposal, Amnesty should have learned from Sweden’s prostitution policies. In 1999, Sweden made it illegal to buy sexual services, but not to sell them – an approach that is now often called “the Swedish model.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesSexuality* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeSweden

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Posted August 16, 2015 at 1:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Defense Department is taking another look at the military prison in Kansas and the Navy Brig in South Carolina as it evaluates potential U.S. facilities to house detainees from the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, part of the Obama administration’s controversial push to close the detention center.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said a team was surveying the Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth on Friday and will do a similar assessment at the Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston later this month.

Davis said the team will assess the costs associated with construction and other changes that would be needed in order to use the facility to house the detainees as well as conduct military commission trials for those accused of war crimes.

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-N. Charleston, immediately blasted the idea of sending the Gitmo prisoners to the Palmetto State.

Read it all from AP.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPrison/Prison Ministry* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina

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Posted August 15, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. intelligence agencies have evidence indicating Islamic State used mustard agent against Kurdish forces for the first time at least two weeks ago in fighting in Syria, a tactic that the group may have repeated in two subsequent attacks in Iraq, U.S. officials said Friday.

The developments are fueling concerns that Islamic State has acquired a crude arsenal of banned chemicals that could herald a significant escalation of fighting in the region.

“It could be a pattern,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on the intelligence.

Read it all.

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

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Posted August 15, 2015 at 8:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The recent Supreme Court decision which asserted that the right to marry is a constitutional right, including for same sex couples, has raised prompted some commentators to question whether the same could be said of polygamy. Polygamy has long been prohibited and rarely practised in the United States, but at least the practise is quite common in many parts of the Islamic world and sub-Saharan Africa. What is increasingly common in the United States, however, are various forms of 'polyamory', where people have multiple sexual and romantic partners with the full knowledge of their partners.

YouGov's research shows that most Americans (56%) reject the idea that polyamory is somehow morally acceptable, though one quarter of the country does think that polyamorous relationships are morally acceptable. Polygamy, that is marriage between more than two people, is even less acceptable, with 69% saying that polygamy is immoral and only 14% believing that it is morally acceptable.

Attitudes towards polyamory depend significantly on how religious someone is. 80% of people who say that religion is 'very important' in their lives say that polyamory is wrong, but among people for whom religion is 'not at all important' 58% say that polyamory is morally acceptable.

Read it all.

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

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Posted August 14, 2015 at 3:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, has congratulated the Prime Minister and the Coalition for backing a plebiscite on same-sex marriage.

“I believe that marriage is a foundational concept to our society and indeed to human civilisation as a whole, in accordance with God's own plan for all people, and it is intrinsic to the continuation of the human race as the bedrock of the family from which succeeding generations are born.”

“Despite the relentless campaign by some sections of the community, it is only now that other views are starting to be heard in the media, not only from the churches. T

a href="http://sydneyanglicans.net/mediareleases/archbishop-backs-plebiscite-plan">Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyRural/Town LifeSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 14, 2015 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The white Christians I know who care deeply about solving our nation’s racial injustices are those who are embedded in communities with black and Hispanic and Asian Christians. They care not just about issues but about people they love as their brothers and sisters in Christ.

Where we see churches that expand beyond the sameness of ethnicity or economic status, we see people who are willing to stand up for one another in the public square, because they’ve learned to love one another at the family table.

The answer to racial injustice is precisely the way the Hebrew prophets once framed the answer to all social evil. It means working for courts and systems that are fair and impartial. But it doesn’t stop with policies and structures. It must also include people who are transformed, not just by greater social awareness, but also by consciences that are formed by something other than our backgrounds. For that, we need more than national conversations and policy proposals (as important as those are).

We need, nationally, what Abraham Lincoln called “a new birth of freedom.” But we also need, personally, a new birth.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the Episcopal Church we believe in the continuing revelation of God. The Holy Spirit did not retire to Florida after the Bible was written or the Creeds promulgated. The Holy Spirit continues to teach us. I believe that the Holy Spirit has been expanding our consciousness about the dignity and equality of our gay brothers and sisters. That consciousness might well have been developed in society before it was developed in the Church, and now the Church is catching up to the Holy Spirit. The Church is catching up to the broader society.

As to the election of Michael Curry as Presiding Bishop, he was chosen (the first time anyone has been elected on the first ballot) not because he is African-American but because in an outstanding field of four candidates, he is the best person to lead us now. Michael is an inspired preacher and brilliant organizer who passionately invites all to join the "Jesus Movement" - to change the nightmare this world so often is for so many into the dream God has for it.

Although he was not chosen because he is African-American, I do find it holy and good that an African-American was chosen at this time of tremendous racial tension in our country. Our country has a history of racism embedded within it that we have never really faced. Could this be the time to have an honest discussion about that history and move forward as a New Creation?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention TEC Bishops* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted August 14, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jeremy Timm, a Reader, has described the “tears and soul-searching” that he endured before deciding to convert his civil partnership to marriage, knowing that this would result in the loss of his permission to officiate (PTO).

Mr Timm, a Reader in the Howden Team Ministry in Hull, was told by the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, last month, that his PTO would be revoked if he pursued his intention to convert his partnership with Mike Brown.

Writing on the website of Changing Attitude, Mr Timm described being “placed in an impossible situation by the Church of England . . . faced with choosing between marriage or ministry”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsArchbishop of York John Sentamu* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Laity* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 14, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Recently]..there have been two poignant reminders of the prevalence of that attitude, where the advancing years are regarded as a cause for apprehension and fear.
The first was the death of Cilla Black at the comparatively young age of 72.
Although she had problems with her hearing and suffered from arthritis, she was — so far as we know — in reasonable health. But psychologically, she appeared to have been preparing for the end, explaining in interviews last year that she ‘did not want to live longer than 75’.

In this rather bleak outlook, she seems to have been heavily influenced by the experience of her mother, who lived until she was 84 but suffered a good deal in her final years.
The second episode to highlight this fear of old age was the sad case of retired nurse Gill Pharaoh, who recently took her own life at a Swiss assisted suicide clinic, despite the fact she was only 75 and had no serious health issues.

Read it all.

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

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Posted August 14, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

According to Zillow, renters spent 30.2% of income on rent in Q2, the highest percentage since as far back as the data go (1979).

In comparison, the average between 1995 and 2000 was just over 24%.Los Angeles is tops for unaffordability at 49%, with San Francisco not far behind at 47%. In NYC, renters historically have paid about 25% of income for rent, but that has gone up to 41%. Known for being more affordable than other major cities, the luxury condo market has transformed Miami, and renters there now pay 44.5%.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 13, 2015 at 4:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The BBC's John McManus says Archbishop [Josiah] Idowu-Fearon, who is the new secretary-general of the Anglican Communion, has a strong reputation for promoting dialogue between Christians and Muslims.
But the archbishop told our correspondent that efforts to maintain unity were undermined by some fellow Christians who failed to engage with their Muslim counterparts.
"We warned the leadership in my country, the Christian Association of Nigeria: 'Let us listen to the Muslim leadership, because the leadership is not in support of Boko Haram.'
"'Oh no no no,' they said, 'they are always deceiving us. They are all the same,'" he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 13, 2015 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was a formal church setting with nine area Christian leaders present, but no formal sermons were given or messages with the Bible cracked open to a particular passage.

Instead, the clergy spoke off the cuff in a Christian “conversation” Wednesday night on issues of faith and belief.

And that led them into some areas of modern-day debate and concern, such as marriage equality, race and the church’s relevance in a digital age.

“We’ll be having a great debate next April about same-sex marriage and transgender (issues),” said the Rev. Terry Walton, senior pastor at Gainesville First United Methodist Church, at “Christianity Beyond the Catchphrases,” held at Grace Episcopal Church in Gainesville.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & TechnologySexuality* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsLutheranMethodistPresbyterian* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted August 13, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Perhaps John Rhys-Davies was channeling Gimli, his character from The Lord of the Rings' trilogy, because the Welsh actor delivered a soliloquy late Monday about good and evil and even warned of the end of days courtesy of radical Islamic terrorism and political correctness.

"There is an extraordinary silence in the West," said Rhys-Davies on Adam Carolla's podcast posted Monday night. "Basically, Christianity in the Middle East and in Africa is being wiped out — I mean not just ideologically but physically, and people are being enslaved and killed because they are Christians. And your country and my country are doing nothing about it...."

"This is a unique age. We don't want to be judgmental," said Rhys-Davies, who's also known for his role in the Indiana Jones franchise. "Every other age that has come before us has believed exactly the opposite. I mean, T.S. Eliot referred to 'the common pursuit of true judgment.' Yes. That's what it's about. Getting our judgments right."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMediaReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted August 13, 2015 at 7:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The news is the most powerful and prestigious force in contemporary society, replacing religion as the touchstone of authority and meaning. It is usually the first thing we check in the morning and the last thing we consult at night. What are we searching for?

The news does its best to persuade us we must keep up with its agenda - but to what end? What are the ghastly, wondrous, thrilling, destructive, bitter stories for?

It would be most honest to admit that we don't yet know: we're still working it out collectively. We're still among the first generations ever to have had access to news on the current scale and we're struggling to make sense of the deluge of information.

One thing is for sure: we don't yet have the news we deserve.

Read it all from ABC Australia.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Close to 4 million Kenyans consume illegal alcoholic brews, found a 2013 survey by the National Authority for the Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse. The biggest challenge is corruption among government officials, said the agency’s John Mututho.

Some clergy have been joining community members to seek out and storm the makeshift breweries — many just drums or pots hidden in forests, private residences or buried near riverbeds.

“We commend the steps taken by the president. As clergy, we do not encourage drinking,” said Anglican Bishop Julius Kalu of Mombasa. “We urge more steps to ensure those addicted are rehabilitated.”

Kyalo agrees. The president, he said, “took bold steps, but he has to address the root cause of the problem. This is deeply rooted, where people are poor. He must deal with poverty, which is increasing.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Kenya* Culture-WatchAlcohol/DrinkingAlcoholismReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaKenya* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 13, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Daily Express and the Sun both carried critical front pages of the BBC programme’s decision to film in the church, which they claimed was a waste of licence fee money and a highly politicised gesture.

Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, made it clear in a tweet that he fully supported the programme, as well as retweeting a positive piece from the influential Anglican blog, Archbishop Cranmer.

“What do they think the church is for? It is for the poor and the vulnerable, it is to voice things that others cannot voice,” [Bishop] Baines told the Guardian. “Everyone else seems to be allowed to be political apart from the church.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion on Tuesday asked President Muhammadu Buhari to order the closure of schools opened without compliance to due process in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

This was contained in an open letter signed by the Bishop, Diocese of Kubwa, Anglican Communion, Abuja, Rt. Rev. Duke T. Akamisoko, and addressed to President Buhari, a copy of which was obtained by this reporter in Abuja.

The clergyman, who is also an educationist, noted the arbitrary opening and running of private schools within the Federal Capital Territory‎ without following standard guidelines and regulations.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

‘A new refugee camp has opened a few kilometres from Gambella town. Another is being established near the town of Matar, and another in the Asosa region near the permanent camp Sherkole (the new camp has been given the poignant name ‘Sorry’).

‘The churches, however, are usually the first stop for the refugees. They often ask for food and shelter.

‘As well as food aid, there are churches in the refugee camps providing literacy classes and other educational support. In this way, the churches function as community centres for many refugees.

‘We have 15 mission centres in Gambella, each of which is a cluster of churches. Some of the churches are in established refugee camps; some are in villages and towns. We have 16 clergy and 90 lay readers in the area, so we are obtaining first-hand information about what is happening.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchPovertyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaEthiopiaSudan--South Sudan* Theology

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Posted August 12, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Understanding the religious life of early America is an important business, and not just for scholars. That is because all sides in today's religious and constitutional arguments appeal to the past when they lay out their ideas for how things should work in the 21st century.

Conservatives generally want churches and church-affiliated organisations to enjoy wide sovereignty; they cite the First Amendment's guarantee of the free exercise of faith, and also its bar on the establishment of any religion, the so-called "non-establishment" clause. At least since the 20th century, non-establishment has often been taken to mean that the government and judiciary should avoid delving much into the internal affairs of a church, because to take any position could imply state backing for one religious line. Liberals, meanwhile, tend to have an idealised image of the absolute separation of church and state, as laid down by the founding fathers; they use that picture as an argument for keeping religious ideas and taboos out of policymaking. For both camps, Thomas Jefferson's statement of belief in a "wall of separation" between church and state is another important text. Liberals see the wall as protecting politics from religion, while conservatives see it more as protecting religion and its followers from political interference.

But what if both camps are wrong, because in the young American republic, state and religion were never fully separated? Sarah Barringer Gordon, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, says 20 years of research have convinced her that during the early decades of American life, state authorities interfered heavily in the affairs of churches and in doing so, helped to remould the American religious scene. The story she tells is nuanced and intriguing.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchEducationHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 12, 2015 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Taxpayers in the UK donate £2.7 billion a year in aid to countries where Christians are suffering some of the most extreme religious persecution in the world, figures show.

Analysis of official aid statistics shows that four out of five countries listed on a global human rights watch list, charting attacks or official suppression against Christians, receive money from the overseas development budget or through other official agencies.

David Cameron said last year that Christianity is now the “most persecuted religion around the world” and said Britain should be “unashamed” in standing up for religious freedom.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Church of England lay preacher has disclosed that he is preparing to be expelled from ministry to marry his male partner.

Jeremy Timm said he had been forced to “choose between marriage or ministry” by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, but is ready to be stripped of his position in the Church in order to tie the knot.
Mr Timm and his partner, Mike, who live near Howden, East Yorkshire, have been in a civil partnership for six years but are planning to convert it to marriage in September, in open defiance of a ban on same-sex weddings in the Church of England.

The 59-year-old licensed reader, who leads services in six churches around Howden, was faced with the stark choice during a in a face-to-face meeting with Dr Sentamu last month at which he discussed his plans.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Archbishop of York John Sentamu* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted August 11, 2015 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

White-on-black Islamic calligraphy still adorns the establishment that the Islamic State used to recruit fighters and bombers in this town in southeast Turkey.

Known as the Islamic Tea House, it was a hub for bearded men in tunics, who lured young men for explosives training in Syria before complaints from the community led police to shut it down.

“It wasn’t exactly a tea house, but they did drink tea among themselves,” says Mahmoud Tunc, a chatty boy with a whisper of a mustache who works at a tiny tea shop across the street. “They were a carbon copy of the IS guys you see on social media. Even if you put a Quran in front of them, they wouldn’t read it. They would just parrot their stupid ideology. They were not harmful to us but they were very harmful to Adiyaman and Islam.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolenceYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeTurkey* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted August 11, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Wright’s self-discipline, as demonstrated by his daily running routine, is legendary: when he lived in Ottawa, he’d set out every morning before work on a half-marathon from his condo at 700 Sussex Dr. next to the Château Laurier. It was such a reliable habit that CTV’s Danielle Hamamdjian once ambushed him as he loped by the Mac’s on Laurier Avenue in Sandy Hill, at 4 a.m., to ask him about Duffy. He didn’t say much, except that he’d made some mistakes and was co-operating with the authorities.

Succeeding in private equity, as Wright has, takes management talent, steel nerves, and a willingness to do hard things — to make deals worth billions with other people’s money, to combine and break up companies other people built, to cut other people’s jobs. In Wright, those qualities are combined with a moral code derived from his devotion to a traditionalist strain of Anglicanism. It’s a throwback to the faith’s Catholic roots followed in just a few Canadian churches (St. Barnabas in Centretown is the one in Ottawa), featuring ornate services and a social conservatism that’s in deepening tension with the Anglican Communion’s increasingly liberal positions on things such as homosexuality and the ordination of women.

Wright’s a graduate of Trinity College at the University of Toronto — known for its training of Anglican priests and its adherence to some of British academe’s more amusingly stuffy traditions — and has been a lay leader at his Toronto church. He raises money for charity, particularly Camp Oochigeas (for kids with cancer, where he’s also volunteered during his vacations), and serves at soup kitchens.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock MarketPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryCanada

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Posted August 11, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So why would the smarter, more far-seeing leaders of the IRG see the deal as a good one? Certainly there are some attractive features from an Iranian perspective. There is the good news about the progressive dismantling of limits on Iran’s nuclear program. here are the cumbersome and weak inspection procedures that allow Iranian negotiators plenty of wiggle room for incremental cheats. There is the delicious reality that the drive to negotiate the deal has weakened the core alliances that are the heart of America’s strategic position in the Middle East. And there’s more: the prospect of an end to the conventional weapons embargo, the windfall gains from unfreezing assets and the boost to Iran’s economy that will come with the end of the sanctions.

But the real reason the deal is a gift to Iran isn’t in the language of the deal itself; it’s the path the deal opens up for Iran in the region. At a time of unprecedented crisis among Iran’s Sunni Arab rivals, the nuclear deal offers Iran a historic opportunity to aim for the hegemony of the Persian Gulf and to achieve the kind of world power that Shi’a religious enthusiasts and Persian nationalists believe is their due. God Himself, Iranian hardliners can tell the Supreme Leader, has opened this door for Iran; it is his duty and his destiny to walk through it.

So what’s Iran’s path? Simple, unfortunately. If Iran ratifies the deal, confines its cheating initially to the margins and then opportunistically pursues an agenda of regional expansion it can move towards the glittering prize that has dazzled Iranian nationalists since the time of the Shah: effective control over the oil resources of the Persian Gulf.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

....one of the risks of the Assisted Dying debate is that it detracts from the debate about how to improve the experience of the living. Not everyone will think that being ‘an old lady hobbling up the road with a trolley’ is an unbearable loss of dignity, as Pharaoh did.

In his book, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, Atul Gawande argues that:

‘Certainly suffering at the end of life is sometimes unavoidable and unbearable, and helping people end their misery may be necessary. Given the opportunity, I would support laws to provide these kinds of prescriptions to people. About half don’t even use their prescription. They are reassured just to know they have this control if they need it. But we damage entire societies if we let providing this capability divert us from improving the lives of the ill. Assisted living is far harder than assisted death, but its possibilities are far greater, as well.’

Campaigners against assisted dying may disagree with Gawande’s support for prescriptions of medication that would allow a patient to end their lives if things become unbearable. What if life is physically bearable but painful as a result of an illness or disability, but emotionally overwhelming because someone fears being a burden on their family?

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A year after tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians fled communities overtaken by Islamic State militants, their lives are on hold in exile: They won't go back to Iraq, saying it's not safe for Christians, but as refugees they're barred from working in temporary asylum countries such as Jordan. Expectations of quick resettlement to the West have been dashed.

"We've lost hope in everything," said Hinda Ablahat, a 67-year-old widow who lives with dozens of fellow refugees in plywood cubicles set up in a church compound in downtown Amman, the capital of Jordan. "We've been sitting here for a year and nothing's happened."

About 7,000 Christians from northern Iraq have found refuge in Jordan, including about 2,000 living in church-sponsored shelters.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 10, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Liberal arts has not been killed by parental or student philistinism, or the cupidity of today’s educational institutions whose excessive costs have made the liberal arts into an unattainable luxury. In too many ways the liberal arts have died not by murder but by suicide.

To restore the liberal arts, those of us who teach should begin by thinking about students. Almost all of them have serious questions about major issues, and all of them are looking for answers. What is right? What is love? What do I owe others? What do others owe me? In too many places these are not questions for examination but issues for indoctrination. Instead of guiding young men and women by encouraging them to read history, biography, philosophy and literature, we’d rather debunk the past, deconstruct the authors and dethrone our finest minds and statesmen.

But why would any student spend tens of thousands of dollars and, rather than see the world in all its aspects, instead spend his time being indoctrinated and immersed in the prejudices of the current culture and the opinions of his tendentious professors? The job of teachers is to liberate minds, not capture them.

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

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Posted August 9, 2015 at 2:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Indian democracy has not blown up. But Ambedkar’s contradiction persists, and the caste foundation of India’s political structure maintains the hierarchy at the root of the country’s tremendous inequality of status and condition. Much of the careful thought of the nineteenth-century reformers and the founding generation has been shunted aside by the force of caste-based politics on the one hand and capitalist materialism on the other. The political principles on which the Indian state is founded have not been sufficient to create an inclusive, egalitarian society. Although the post-independence generation of Congress politicians promoted a secular vision of the Indian nation, they did not pursue the kinds of reforms that might have brought social reality closer to their political ideal. In doing so, they opened the way for the ascendance of caste-based politics and, ultimately, the more reactionary rise of religion in politics.

Hindu nationalism, with its dual focus on cultivating traditional social practices and providing social services afforded neither by the state nor economic growth, would seem to provide the strongest alternative to a modern capitalist society. But Hindu nationalism itself has adapted to India’s increasing wealth. The upper castes, particularly the Brahmins, once prided themselves on simple, even ascetic, living; they now hold up material success as another sign of caste superiority. The traditional Hindu elite is no longer distinguishable from the modern economic elite.

Prime Minister Modi is the living embodiment of this troubling marriage of Hindu nationalism and capitalism, of traditional social hierarchy and modern materialism. While he has maintained the support of his elite urban business constituents, he has proven himself to be as much a disciple of the Hindu Right as he was in his youth. Even as the RSS offers hope and basic services to thousands of poor, lower-caste youth like Aakash, we cannot take the organization’s apparent social egalitarianism at face value. At its core remains the inequality that has long marked Indian life.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchRural/Town Life* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsHinduism

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Posted August 9, 2015 at 1:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

My argument thus far is that the policymakers in the West and especially in the United States and Britain do not just tolerate dictatorial regimes in the Middle East, but at a minimum, refuse to oppose them and often will actively support them because of a basic sense of insecurity about Muslims exercising self-autonomy and determination. There is a visceral but historically rooted fear of the bogeyman of a united Islam and of Muslims demanding to be treated as equals and not as colonial subjects. Muslims are still the faceless, indistinct mass of dark-skinned natives who cannot be trusted unless they speak, act, and even covet what their imperial masters teach them.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 8, 2015 at 10:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Chapter two of the book is primarily devoted to an in-depth examination of the negative socio-cultural ramifications of redefining marriage and how, if not checked, this redefinition can all too easily lead to further breakdowns in the monogamy, permanence, and exclusivity that bolster the procreativity-oriented reality of comprehensive/conjugal marriage. This is then buttressed with an extremely thorough examination of the judicial overreach and activism involved in the Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage in Obergefell in chapter three. The treatment given to the dissenting opinions in this chapter is worth the cost of admission alone.

The second half of the book, beginning with chapter four, is devoted to defending religious liberty in the wake of Obergefell. Chapter four itself is largely devoted to examining several prominent religious liberty infringement cases that have already occurred. This is then followed in chapter five with a detailed explanation of what religious freedom is, why it is the “first freedom,” and why it is of paramount importance that it be protected, not sacrificed on the altar of the sexual revolution. This “strong-protection” view of religious liberty is then reinforced in chapter six, wherein Anderson shows how detrimental a national SOGI (Sexual Identity and Gender Identity) law(s) would be for religious liberty and for those whose religious convictions commit them to the traditional view of marriage.

The final three chapters examine both the negative sociological ramifications of redefining marriage, particularly for children, and lay out a long-term plan for adherents of traditional marriage to begin rebuilding a marriage culture and strengthening religious liberty against attempts to weaken it. Anderson is optimistic here, but also realistic. He rightly points out that the legalization of same-sex marriage is just the most recent and logical outworking of previous deconstruction done by no-fault divorce, recreational sex, and other trivializations of marriage and sexuality over the past four decades.

Read it all.

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

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Posted August 7, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Is the American Mind–the collective intelligence of what it means to live as independent citizens and individuals in America–increasingly being lost? That is the subject Mark Bauerlein discusses with Richard Reinsch in this Liberty Law Talk. Some have argued that we are Becoming Europe in fiscal and welfare state policies. Others have noted the rise of political correctness as a smothering force in our society. Many have long observed that our education system not only inadequately prepares young Americans in primary schools and colleges and universities for the competitive private sector, but that it is nearly oblivious to the American Founding and the qualities of American citizenship. Mark Bauerlein, in a new volume co-edited with Adam Bellow entitled The State of the American Mind, pulls these critiques together in a powerful, contemporary light with 16 essays by various critics. Our conversation considers these contributions on education, politics, media, and culture.

Listen to it all.



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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While the White House and Congress prepare for a final showdown over the controversial Iran nuclear deal, three American prisoners and one missing American in Iran are awaiting their own fate.

One of the prisoners is Pastor Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-American Christian pastor who has been detained in Iran since 2012. He has become the international face of the brutal persecution of Christians by the Islamic Republic.

Abedini was arrested by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps while visiting relatives and building an orphanage in the city of Rasht. Initially placed under house arrest, he was transferred to Iran’s notorious Evin Prison and later to Rajai Shahr Prison.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissionsParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPrison/Prison MinistryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christian preacher Pastor James McConnell has said he wants to be “exonerated, liberated and set free” after he pleaded not guilty at a Belfast court in connection with charges he faces over a sermon where he branded Islam as “satanic”.

At Laganside court on Thursday, the north Belfast preacher’s solicitor Joe Rice said his client would be pleading not guilty to the case prosecutors have taken under the 2003 Communications Act.

Supporters, including DUP MP Sammy Wilson, gathered outside the court holding placards to protest what they described as the pastor’s right to free speech.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Boko Haram Islamists shot dead at least nine people and set homes on fire in a raid on two villages in conflict-hit northeastern Nigeria, fleeing residents told AFP on Thursday.

All nine victims were gunned down with assault rifles as the jihadis attacked Tadagara around 10:30 pm (2130 GMT), looting thatch-roofed mud homes and shops before setting them ablaze, according to witnesses.

"Boko Haram gunmen came on motorcycles and opened fire on the village after we had retired for the night and killed nine residents," Tadagara villager ‎Shuaibu Nuhu told AFP.

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

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Posted August 6, 2015 at 4:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Prostitution should be decriminalised because men have twice the need for sex that women do, a free market think tank claims in a report published today.
Men’s higher desire for sex means that the oldest profession can never be eliminated so it should be treated like any other job, the paper says. It also suggests that prostitution and erotic entertainment may “help to reduce sexual crime rates”. The report says there are too few studies to conclude that the sex industry damages women.
Catherine Hakim, the report’s author, said the laws on prostitution were outdated, misinformed and redundant in a world in which the internet had fundamentally changed sex lives.
Dr Hakim, a sociologist, said: “The very concept of prostitution is no longer workable in today’s world of fluid sexual markets, where anyone can meet anyone on whatever terms they choose. Decriminalisation is the only workable way forward.”

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMenSexuality* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 6, 2015 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mr Choudary, the former head of the banned Islamist group al-Muhajiroun, was accused of promoting Isis and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on social media.
The preacher gave a 20-minute speech protesting his innocence as he appeared at Westminster magistrates’ court yesterday afternoon. He told the court that it was David Cameron and the police who should be in the dock.
Wearing a long white robe, Mr Choudary, 48, spoke confidently and waved notes around about his case. He said that he wished to represent himself as he appeared alongside Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, 32, from Whitechapel, east London, who is also accused of inviting support for Isis.
Mr Choudary, who was born in Britain, refused to confirm his east London address.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So let’s be clear about what’s really going on here. It is not the pro-life movement that’s forced Planned Parenthood to unite actual family planning and mass feticide under one institutional umbrella. It is not the Catholic Church or the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles or the Southern Baptist Convention or the Republican Party that have bundled pap smears and pregnancy tests and HPV vaccines with the kind of grisly business being conducted on those videos. This is Planned Parenthood’s choice; it is liberalism’s choice; it is the respectable center-left of Dana Milbank and Ruth Marcus and Will Saletan that’s telling pro-life and pro-choice Americans alike that contraceptive access and fetal dismemberment are just a package deal, that if you want to fund an institution that makes contraception widely available then you just have to live with those “it’s another boy!” fetal corpses in said institution’s freezer, that’s just the price of women’s health care and contraceptive access, and who are you to complain about paying it, since after all the abortion arm of Planned Parenthood is actually pretty profitable and doesn’t need your tax dollars?

This is a frankly terrible argument, rooted in a form of self-deception that would be recognized as such in any other context. Tell me anything but this, liberals: Tell me that you aren’t just pro-choice but pro-abortion, tell me that abortion is morally necessary and praiseworthy, tell me that it’s as morally neutral as snuffing out a rabbit, tell me that a fetus is just a clump of cells and that pro-lifers are all unhinged zealots. Those arguments, as much as I disagree with them, have a real consistency, a moral logic that actually makes sense and actually justifies the continued funding of Planned Parenthood.

But to concede that pro-lifers might be somewhat right to be troubled by abortion, to shudder along with us just a little bit at the crushing of the unborn human body, and then turn around and still demand the funding of an institution that actually does the quease-inducing killing on the grounds that what’s being funded will help stop that organization from having to crush quite so often, kill quite so prolifically – no, spare me. Spare me. Tell the allegedly “pro-life” institution you support to set down the forceps, put away the vacuum, and then we’ll talk about what kind of family planning programs deserve funding. But don’t bring your worldview’s bloody hands to me and demand my dollars to pay for soap enough to maybe wash a few flecks off.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ministers will challenge the Church of England to support the biggest shake up of Sunday trading laws in a generation to help boost high streets and cut shopping bills for every household in Britain.
Under plans unveiled in a consultation today, local authorities will be given the power to prevent large supermarkets from opening longer in an attempt to revive Britain's high streets.
The Government will encourage councils to use the new powers to help town centre stores at the expense of larger out-of-town shops.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 5, 2015 at 6:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians are facing growing persecution around the world, fuelled mainly by Islamic extremism and repressive governments, leading the pope to warn of “a form of genocide” and for campaigners to speak of “religio-ethnic cleansing”.

The scale of attacks on Christians in the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America has alarmed organisations that monitor religious persecution, with most reporting a significant deterioration in recent years.

On his recent trip to Latin America, Pope Francis said he was dismayed “to see how in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world many of our brothers and sisters are persecuted, tortured and killed for their faith in Jesus”. He went on: “In this third world war, waged piecemeal, which we are now experiencing, a form of genocide is taking place, and it must end.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 5, 2015 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

China has tightened its grip over the country’s 650m internet users by announcing moves to station police officers inside large internet companies in an effort to heighten censorship and prevent subversion, according to a senior security official.
The move follows a spate of recent efforts to tighten the screws on social media users, as well as a draft cyber security law that will grant authorities broad new powers to control the internet in the country and force web companies to share more data with the government.

Chen Zhimin, the deputy minister of public security, revealed a plan to set up “network security offices” in major internet companies — such as Tencent and Alibaba — “in order to be able to find out about illegal internet activity more quickly”, although he did not specify how the initiative would work.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina

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Posted August 5, 2015 at 7:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In May, authorities in eastern China’s Zhejiang province unveiled rules severely limiting the size and placement of crosses on churches — the codification of a sometimes-violent 2014 campaign that saw crosses torn from more than 300 churches in and around the city of Wenzhou, home to a large Christian community.

The local government now appears to be enforcing the new regulations.

As shown in the Associated Press..authorities last week dispatched demolition crews to shear off the cross that sat atop Lower Dafei Catholic Church outside Wenzhou as parishioners sang hymns in protest.

“They say we have religious freedom. Is this freedom?” one congregation member, surnamed Chen, told the AP. “Have we violated any national laws? We are also good Chinese citizens.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina* Religion News & CommentaryChurch-State Issues* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Diocese of Colombo of the Church of Ceylon has called on political parties and voters to take a stand against corruption and greed in upcoming parliamentary elections.

On 26 June a government spokesperson announced that Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena had dissolved parliament in an effort to clear the way for needed reforms. Voting to elect a new 225-member Parliament is set for 17 August, ten months ahead of schedule.

In a statement to diocesan parishes and the media, the Rt Revd Dhiloraj Ranjit Canagasabey, Bishop of Colombo, underlined the need for reform.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaSri Lanka* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 5, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage, religious leaders feared that religious universities, nonprofits and other institutions could lose their tax-exempt status. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has promised the Senate Judiciary Oversight Subcommittee that his agency would not go after the tax-exempt status of religious colleges and universities that oppose gay marriage.

During a hearing Wednesday conducted by the Senate Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) asked Koskinen whether the IRS would “not, in the absence of a directive by Congress or by the courts,” take action to remove religious schools’ tax exemption.

“I can make that commitment,” Koskinen said, explaining that “we see no basis for changing our examination criteria as a result of this Supreme Court case.”

Read it all from the Washington Post.

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

5 Comments
Posted August 4, 2015 at 4:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The sun rises over the Port of Charleston and with it, the start of another day where a new symbol of Made in America buzzes with activity.

Workers are preparing to load another cargo ship of BMW vehicles, built at the German automaker's plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

While Michigan is still the heartbeat of America's auto industry, South Carolina is one of several southern states that have become a greater focal point for automakers scouting out locations for new plants.

"We really focus on foreign investment, on adding new jobs to our country [and] not just our state," South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley told CNBC.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryTravel* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPolitics in GeneralState Government* South Carolina

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Earlier this year, Dan Price, a graduate of Seattle Pacific University and CEO of Seattle-based Gravity Payments, made headlines nationwide after announcing plans to raise his employees’ base salary to $70,000 a year.

But not everyone at Gravity Payments agrees with his plans to share the wealth. ­­­­­­

Two of his top employees quit in protest. His brother, a co-owner of Gravity Payments, filed suit. Other local companies complained that Price made them look stingy, according to The New York Times (NYT).

It’s as if Jesus’s parable about the workers in the vineyard—where latecomers got the same pay as those who worked all day—has come to life, the NYT points out.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted August 4, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The radical Islamist group Boko Haram has intensified its suicide bombing attacks in northern Nigeria and Cameroon in recent weeks.

On Friday (31 July) a massive bomb exploded in the market in Maiduguri, north-eastern Nigeria – the traditional heartland of Boko Haram violence. At least six died, and 11 were injured.

The previous Saturday (25 July), 20 people were killed when a 12-year-old girl blew herself up in a crowded bar in Maroua, northern Cameroon. Seventy-nine others were injured.

However, on 2 August the Nigerian military said it had rescued 178 people – including 101 children and 67 women – taken captive by Boko Haram in the northern Nigerian state of Borno.

Read it all.

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

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Posted August 3, 2015 at 4:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Lasch understood that democracy is a fiction when people spend their lives working in conditions over which they exert little or no control, compensated by shoddy consumer goods that bring faint comfort when the things that really matter—such as adequate schooling and homeownership, the last vestige of proprietorship for most people today—are out of reach. These social facts don’t produce citizens capable of self-governance but a people who are ruled over by a remote technocratic elite, as Murray has correctly observed, who make decisions for the masses they know little and care even less about.

Even with President Obama’s recent championing of “middle-class economics” and the Republican Party’s occasional concessions to belief in the social destructiveness of economic inequality, both parties cling to different branches of what Lasch called the ideology of progress, redistribution on the left and “a rising tide lifts all boats” on the right. By contrast, Lasch’s vision of the good life is truly radical yet profoundly conservative; it harkens back to traditions now largely dormant in American life where those who worked for a living wanted to build local communities, in the words of 19th-century labor leader Robert MacFarlane, based upon the now forgotten American ideal of “small but universal ownership” of property, which was the “true foundation of a stable and firm republic.” In other words, independence rooted in both liberty and equality.

This producerist ideology, according to Lasch, “deserves a more attentive hearing, on its own terms, than it has usually received.” It holds the answer to the questions critics like Charles Murray raise—and reveals that too many libertarians and conventional conservatives are confused apologists for a system that produces everything they despise: authoritarianism, centralization, and widespread dependence.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryMarriage & FamilySociology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Executives of Planned Parenthood’s federally subsidized meat markets — your tax dollars at work — lack the courage of their convictions. They should drop the pretense of conducting a complex moral calculus about the organs they harvest from the babies they kill.

First came the video showing a salad-nibbling, wine-sipping Planned Parenthood official explaining how “I’m going to basically crush below, I’m going to crush above” whatever organ (“heart, lung, liver”) is being harvested. Then the president of a Planned Parenthood chapter explained the happy side of harvesting: “For a lot of the women participating in the fetal tissue donation program, they’re having a procedure that may be a very difficult decision for them and this is a way for them to feel that something positive is coming from . . . a very difficult time.”

“Having a procedure” — stopping the beating of a human heart — can indeed be a difficult decision for the woman involved. But it never is difficult for Planned Parenthood’s abortionists administering the “procedure.” The abortion industry’s premise is: At no point in the gestation of a human infant does this living being have a trace of personhood that must be respected. Never does it have a moral standing superior to a tumor or a hamburger in the mother’s stomach.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyScience & TechnologySexuality* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Beloved in Christ,

Greetings!

1. As you know, calls for our Australian government to revisit the Marriage Act by granting full legal recognition to same-sex couples have intensified in recent months. Although our government has not signalled how decisions will be taken on this matter, changing public sentiment and international developments may set the conditions under which the Act is significantly revised.

2. Australian Christians have responded to this debate in a variety of ways. I note that some have attempted to mobilise their members to defend traditional values and prevent what is considered the redefinition of marriage, and some have advised they will stop performing all marriages. On the other hand, others believe that marriage should reflect equality for same-sex couples, and there are those who wait to have their relationships recognised in Christian communities. Most Christians I meet feel genuinely torn by the public debate and confused about what is an appropriate Christian response. Without exception, they desire to love and support their children and friends while being faithful to God and upholding the authority of Scripture.

3. As it happens, the Anglican Church of Australia does have a clear and unambiguous position on marriage. Our nationally authorised and instituted liturgies reflect this unequivocal view – to which I subscribe, as follows:
‘Marriage is a life-long union in which a man and a woman are called to give themselves in body, mind and spirit, and so to respond, that from their union will grow a deepening knowledge and love of each other’ (A Prayer Book for Australia, p. 647).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Toronto’s Cathedral Church of St. James has mounted a historical overview of the Anglican church’s often painful relationship with Indigenous peoples, as part of an effort to keep alive the momentum generated by the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in May.

Truth and Reconciliation: A Special Exhibit on the Legacy of the Residential Schools is showing daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the cathedral’s east aisle during July and August. The cathedral is located on the northeast corner of Church and King streets.

The idea of an exhibit was supported by Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada. “The primate was keenly interested, and we thought this was something we could put together fairly quickly,” said Nancy Mallet, cathedral archivist and exhibits committee chair.
- See more at: http://www.anglicanjournal.com/articles/-cathedral-exhibit-extends-spirit-of-the-trc#sthash.Huf4i7CB.dpuf

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryCanada

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Posted July 20, 2015 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

British Muslims who hold “intolerant ideas” and create a climate for extremism will become the target of a new clampdown to be announced by David Cameron today.

In a landmark speech the prime minister will say that a failure of integration has meant that there are people born and raised in this country who do not identify with Britain. Outlining a five-year strategy to combat extremism, he will attack those who hold ideas “hostile to basic liberal values” and who promote “discrimination, sectarianism and segregation”.

Mr Cameron will single out Muslim conspiracy theorists who believe that “Jews exercise malevolent power”, that 9/11 was inspired by the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, and that Britain allowed 7/7 because it wanted an anti-Muslim backlash.

Read it all (subscription required).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nigeria felt slighted when President Obama overlooked the vast nation on his first African trip as head of state in 2009, instead visiting its shrimp-sized neighbor, Ghana, where he lauded the smaller country's democratic achievements.

Obama left Nigeria out again in his 2013 visit to Africa. Now, as he prepares for his third and likely final trip to the continent as president, Nigeria is once more being bypassed in favor of Kenya and Ethiopia.

If democratic achievements play a role in the president's itinerary, Nigerians may be wondering: Why?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeriaAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted July 20, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In advance of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris this December, many publics around the world name global climate change as a top threat, according to a new Pew Research Center survey measuring perceptions of international challenges. This is particularly true in Latin America and Africa, where majorities in most countries say they are very concerned about this issue. But as the Islamic militant group ISIS maintains its hold in Iraq and Syria and intensifies its grisly public executions, Europeans and Middle Easterners most frequently cite ISIS as their main concern among international issues.

Global economic instability also figures prominently as the top concern in a number of countries, and it is the second biggest concern in half of the countries surveyed. In contrast, concerns about Iran’s nuclear program as well as cyberattacks on governments, banks or corporations are limited to a few nations. Israelis and Americans are among the most concerned about Iran’s nuclear program, while South Koreans and Americans have the greatest concern about cyberattacks relative to other publics. And apprehension about tensions between Russia and its neighbors, or territorial disputes between China and surrounding countries, largely remain regional concerns.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchClimate Change, WeatherGlobalizationReligion & CultureScience & TechnologySociology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 19, 2015 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

According to a recent Pew Research Center report, an estimated 77 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where religious freedom is “highly” or “very highly” restricted.

“This, I think, entitles one to use the word ‘crisis,’” said Thomas Farr, director of the Religious Freedom Project at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs.

The RFP hosted an all-day conference on religious freedom at Georgetown University on Thursday (July 16).

Titled “Religious Freedom: Rising Threats to a Fundamental Human Right,” the conference featured a discussion between U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim member of Congress, and Katrina Lantos Swett, of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Baylor University President Ken Starr served as moderator.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General

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Posted July 19, 2015 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

French President Francois Hollande said that the 19 countries using the euro need their own government complete with a budget and parliament to cooperate better and overcome the Greek crisis.

“Circumstances are leading us to accelerate,” Hollande said in an opinion piece published by the Journal du Dimanche on Sunday. “What threatens us is not too much Europe, but a lack of it.”

While the euro zone has a common currency, fiscal and economic policies remain mostly in the hands of each member state. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi made a plea this week for deeper cooperation between the euro members after political squabbles over Greece almost led to a rupture in the single currency.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 19, 2015 at 12:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Major Problem I See with American Culture Today

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"Compromising the truth is a serious blunder" but we must always live out our beliefs with love and grace, Ravi Zacharias has said in a detailed blog post addressing same-sex relationships.

The author and speaker who chairs the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics (OCCA), says he is against gay marriage, and points to the biblical description of one man and one woman in sacred commitment. "So profound is this union that the relationship of God to the Church bears that comparison. He is the bridegroom; the Church is the bride," Zacharias writes.

Responding to the US Supreme Court's recent decision to legalise same-sex marriage, which Zacharias says "sent tremors around the globe," the author warns that we are at "breaking point".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralSupreme Court* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 18, 2015 at 12:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Haley knew early on that she’d attend every funeral, even speaking at them when asked. She wanted each family to feel the state’s embrace of support.

“And I felt the need to go for me,” she says during a rare moment of quiet in a sitting room at the Governor’s Mansion.

Haley wanted to know the nine beyond a list of names.

“I had a need to meet them. I had a need to know, because I knew the forensic story. I knew the investigative part of the story. I needed to know the people.”

Through each funeral, she met them.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsHinduism* Theology

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Posted July 18, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Imagine that an American politician, competing with a dozen other candidates for media attention, launched his presidential campaign by describing the nation’s evangelical Christians as a problem: “They’re charlatans who raise money from poor people to spend on private jets,” he says. “They have multiple affairs and sexually abuse children. And, some, I assume, are good people.”

Millions of evangelical Christians would be fighting mad, and rightly so. While there have been a few, highly publicized cases of professing evangelicals committing these sins and crimes, the overwhelming majority have not. This charge against believers would be what the Bible calls bearing false witness, and what the world calls slander.

No presidential candidate would make such a claim, as no candidate would want to alienate millions of evangelicals. And yet this blanket slander is precisely what Donald Trump did in recent days by describing Mexican immigrants as “bringing crime” to the U.S. and as “rapists.” Mr. Trump then “clarified” his views by suggesting that the problem is “not just Mexico,” but immigrants from other parts of the world as well.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 17, 2015 at 11:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The percentage of Americans naming race relations or racism as the most important problem facing the country increased to 9% this month, up from 3% in June. Mentions of race relations as a top problem have risen and fallen multiple times over the past seven months as racially charged events have dominated and then faded from the news cycle.

Americans' mentions of racism and race relations as the most important problem facing the country spiked in December 2014 to 13% amid protests over high-profile incidents of police brutality toward blacks in Staten Island, New York, Ferguson, Missouri, and other places across the U.S. This was the highest figure since May 1992 when 15% of Americans said racism was the top problem after the verdict in the Rodney King case sparked riots in many parts of the U.S.

Read it all.



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

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Posted July 17, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all from the Huffington Post.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Churchgoers are being encouraged to contact their MPs to highlight the risks involved in proposed legislation to legalise assisted suicide.

James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle, has asked that parishioners either make an appointment to see their MP or write them a letter expressing their concerns about a Private Member's Bill to be debated in the House of Commons on Friday September 11.

The Bill is expected to seek to grant physician assisted suicide for mentally competent, terminally ill adults, who have six months or less to live.

Bishop James, the Church of England's lead bishop on health care, said the proposed legislation, if passed into law, would have a detrimental effect both on individuals and on the nature of society.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Laity* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 16, 2015 at 4:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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


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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...following the Supreme Court ruling, many Christians have already been feeling a keen sense of tribulation.

“I think that’s the next frontier: Are people who have deeply held opinions [about marriage] going to be called bigots and treated like the man who wouldn’t give up his seat for Rosa Parks?” says John, an Episcopalian who lives in a liberal Atlanta neighborhood.

To an extent, he answers his own question by asking that his last name not be used: He's concerned that his beliefs could now get him fired from his public-sector job.

“My hope, going forward, is, you all can do what you want, the libertarian part of me says that’s fine,” John says. “But on the other hand, I want my opinion to be protected and respected by the government. What happens if my child is in school and is taught that her parents are bigoted or somehow wrong?”

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 16, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This is an all too little known tale--take the time to watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistorySportsUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted July 16, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It has been a deadly July in Nigeria. More than 200 people have been killed since June 30 in attacks that have come almost daily in the country's northern and northeastern regions, stronghold of the militant Islamic sect Boko Haram.

Obscured by Boko Haram's headlines, violence also has raged farther south, where a lesser reported, years-long campaign has claimed thousands of Christian lives. Militants among the ethnic Fulani, a predominantly Muslim and nomadic population of cattle herders, are suspected of killing dozens of Christians in the states of Plateau and Taraba in recent months. The two states form the eastern end of Nigeria's "Middle Belt" -- the handful of states straddling the pre-colonial line dividing Nigeria's predominantly Muslim north from its Christian south.

The Middle Belt's most recent violence traces back to March, to a case of cattle rustling....

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 16, 2015 at 4:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The video reveals Dr. Deborah Nucatola, senior director of medical services for Planned Parenthood, discussing the intentional harvesting of organs and other tissues from babies aborted in Planned Parenthood clinics. While reaching with her fork for salad, Dr. Nucatola openly tells a group she believes to be medical researchers that there is a great demand for fetal livers, but “a lot of people want intact hearts these days.”

Dr. Nucatola went on to explain in chilling detail that abortionists often plan in advance how to harvest desired organs, even telling the group that a “huddle” is sometimes held with clinic staff early in the day, so that targeted organs can be harvested from unborn babies.

Her language is beyond chilling as she described how abortions are conducted specifically to harvest intact organs: “We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part. I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.” She also described using an abortion technique that appears to be partial-birth abortion.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 15, 2015 at 3:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Symon Hill, Christian writer and a coordinator of Christians for Economic Justice, said: "Jesus said that where our treasure is, there will our heart be also.

"By hosting events sponsored by arms dealers, Church House Conference Centre is sending a clear message that they are happy to profit from those selling weapons to the dodgiest regimes."

Campaigners are calling on Welby, as President of the Corporation of Church House, for his "assurance that the conference center will never again host events which support and legitimise the arms industry."

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock MarketPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 15, 2015 at 7:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When President Buhari was sworn-in, Nigerians must have expected to hear broadcasts like "every past political office holder should report to the nearest Police Station". Yet instead, it has been a quiet, slow, and seemingly irresponsive Buhari that has been impossible to predict as the nation is gripped by anxiety.

Nigerians expecting a quick and decisive fix were already deriding the President for being "slow and indecisive", and refusing to understand that much more important in finding solutions to the problems of the country is the difficult and often slow task of articulating a plan, based on an ideological framework. Even if you had plans to hit the ground running, it matters where you hit ground.

The fact that the activity of the group gained momentum after Buhari's inaugural pronouncement and slow moves to start off, shows the fundamental need to address the challenge from the root cause. The radicalisation of adherents, and their commitment to their faith-based mission, gives it ability to mutate, splinter, break up into cells and continue with the objective to spread terror. One can assume that momentum gained earlier has been lost due to the delay in determining the new order. One can understand the import of anxieties of the erstwhile service chiefs who Nigerians expected would have been rested long ago. President Buhari it is believed has, by now, received a proper briefing of why the Government did so poorly against the insurgents. Who would tell this better than the men in the situation room, the sacked Service Chiefs? Albeit, it was natural for insurgents to exploit such impasse to revive their deadly attacks that we are witnessing. There seemed to be a letting down of the guard.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Islamic State extremist group has claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on the Italian embassy in Cairo. The BBC reported that ISIL had called western embassies “legitimate targets”.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull recently said it was important not to underestimate or be complacent about the national security threat from ISIL. He also said it was equally important not to overestimate that threat. He called ISIL twisted and wicked but said it wasn’t Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Russia, with their power to conquer or challenge the West.

Australian journalist Martin Chulov has been on the ground in Iraq and Syria for a decade. He is Middle East correspondent for The Guardian and recently won the prestigious Orwell Award for his reporting. In Australia for a series of Guardian lectures, he assesses the current strength of ISIL.

Listen to it all from the Religion and Ethics Report.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Criticism: Thousands of Iranian centrifuges will keep spinning.

The deal doesn't dismantle or close Iran's two uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordow. It does require Iran to reduce its centrifuge inventory by two-thirds and eliminate 98% of its stockpile of enriched uranium. Iran will be allowed to keep about 6,100 centrifuges for the next 10 years and continue some enrichment work.

White House response: Iran's inventory of centrifuges will be cut drastically from nearly 20,000, which is enough to create fuel for as many as 10 bombs. It will be left with only its oldest and least efficient models. No enrichment will be allowed at Fordow, and other activities will be restricted to producing uranium enriched to a level of 3.67%, far below the nearly 90% usually required to make a bomb.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some social conservatives are so despondent that they speak about retreating from the public space and into their homes and churches, rediscovering “the monastic temperament” prevalent during the Dark Ages.

This response would be a tragedy for society. For all its limitations, the fundamental values cherished by the religious – notably, family – have never been more important, and more in need of moral assistance. The current progressive cultural wave may itself begin to “overreach” as it moves from the certainty of liberal sentiment to ever more repressive attempts to limit alternative views of the world, including those of the religious.

In the next few years, social conservatives need to engage, but in ways that transcend doctrinal concerns about homosexuality, or even abortion. It has to be made clear that, on its current pace, Western civilization and, increasingly, much of East Asia are headed toward a demographic meltdown as people eschew family formation for the pleasures of singleness or childlessness.

Although sensible for many individuals, the decision to detach from familialism augurs poorly for societies, which will be forced to place enormous burdens on a smaller young generation to support an ever-expanding cadre of retirees. It also frames a spiritual crisis in which people no longer look out for their relatives, but only for themselves, inevitably becoming dependent on government to provide the succor that used to come from families.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 14, 2015 at 3:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Urgent action is needed to tackle climate change the General Synod pledged today in a wide ranging motion acknowledging that global warming is disproportionately affecting the world's poorest.

Members overwhelmingly backed a call for world leaders to seek to limit the global rise in average temperatures to a maximum of 2 C - widely considered to be the threshold above which the impacts of climate change will be the most severe.

The motion on combating climate change, the Paris climate change conference and the mission of the Church, included a pledge to draw attention to an initiative to pray and fast for the success of the Paris talks.

The Bishop of Salisbury, Nicholas Holtam, the Church of England's lead bishop on the environment, introducing the motion, said: "In the last 150 years we have burned fossil fuels that took one billion years to lay down in the earth. The earth cannot sustain this level of consumption. This is about our 'reading the signs of the times' and 'seeking the common good'.

Read it all.

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Posted July 14, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Iran and six world powers sealed a historic accord to curb the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program in return for ending sanctions, capping two years of tough diplomacy with the biggest breakthrough in relations in decades.

Diplomats reached the agreement in Vienna in their 18th day of talks, officials involved in the negotiations said. A final meeting was scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m. local time.

The deal, if approved by the U.S. Congress, promises to end a 12-year standoff that has crippled Iran’s economy and drawn threats of military action from the U.S. and Israel. Full implementation would take months and be contingent on the pace at which Iran meets its obligations. It would enable the oil-rich nation to ramp up energy exports, access international funding and open its doors to global investors.

“This is probably going to go down in history as one of the biggest diplomatic successes of the century,” Ellie Geranmayeh, a policy fellow at the European Council of Foreign Relations, said by phone from London.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran

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Posted July 14, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When big questions, like the future of Europe, hang in the balance, it can be tempting to toy with grand theories about the ways in which religion affects culture and economics. A famous one was put forward by Max Weber (pictured), who posited a link between capitalism and Protestant ideas of guilt and salvation. Such theories usually contain a grain of truth, but religious determinism shouldn't be pushed too far because there are always exceptions.

Still, as religious-determinist theories go, an interesting one was put forward by Giles Fraser, a well-known left-wing priest of the Church of England, in a recent radio broadcast. He suggested that behind the financial standoff between Greece and Germany, there was a theological difference (between western and eastern Christians) in the understanding of how humans are reconciled with God.

As Mr Fraser recalled, traditional Protestant and Catholic teaching has presented the self-sacrifice of Christ as the payment of a debt to God the Father. In this view, human sinfulness created a debt which simply had to be settled, but could not be repaid by humanity because of its fallen state; so the Son of God stepped in and took care of that vast obligation. For Orthodox theologians, this wrongly portrays God the Father as a sort of heavenly debt-collector who is himself constrained by some iron necessity; they prefer to see the passion story as an act of mercy by a God who is free. Over-simplifying only a little, Mr Fraser observed: "the idea that the cross is some sort of cosmic pay-back for human sin [reflects] a no-pain-no-gain obsession with suffering," from an eastern Christian viewpoint.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankG20 The Banking System/SectorForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermanyGreece* TheologyChristologySoteriology

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Posted July 13, 2015 at 5:52 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Muhammadu Buhari, the Nigerian president, has sacked the country’s army, air force and naval chiefs after allegations of widespread human rights abuses by troops and a surge in violence by Boko Haram insurgents in the north of the country.

Mr Buhari, a former military dictator who ran Nigeria with an iron fist in the 1980s, had pledged in his inauguration speech in May to reform the armed forces but criticism of his failure to fulfil the pledge after almost two months in office was starting to grow.

The president has also moved Nigeria's defence command centre to Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram, and has been pushing for the rapid deployment of a new, regional military force to combat the jihadi sect.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 13, 2015 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Greece has received a tentative reprieve from exiting the euro, but the harsh austerity demands piled onto the recession-damaged country may still ultimately force it out the door, economists say.

Some of them think the chances of a Greek exit form the euro – Grexit – have not in any way diminished now that Greece and its creditors have tentatively approved a three-year, €86-billion bailout package that will boost Greece’s debt, increase taxes and trigger privatizations at what will likely be fire-sale prices.

In a note published Monday, Manulife chief economist Megan Greene said the deal, if approved by both sides and the national parliaments of the euro zone countries “will almost certainly be a failure for both political and economic reasons. The immediate risk of Grexit may be slightly lower following the summit conclusions this weekend, but the overall risk of Grexit is materially higher.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeGreece* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 13, 2015 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The fact that a formal Grexit may have been avoided for the moment is immaterial. Grexit will be back on the table when you have the slightest political accident — and there are still many things that could go wrong, both in Greece and in other eurozone parliaments. Any other country that in future might challenge German economic orthodoxy will face similar problems.

This brings us back to a more toxic version of the old exchange-rate mechanism of the 1990s that left countries trapped in a system run primarily for the benefit of Germany, which led to the exit of the British pound and the temporary departure of the Italian lira. What was left was a coalition of countries willing to adjust their economies to Germany’s. Britain had to leave because it was not.

What should the Greeks do now? Forget for a moment the economic debate of the last few months, over issues such as the impact of austerity or economic reforms on growth, and ask yourself this simple question: do you really think that an economic reform programme, for which a government has no political mandate, which has been explicitly rejected in a referendum, that has been forced through by sheer political blackmail, can conceivably work?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermanyGreece* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 13, 2015 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Greece reached a deal with its European creditors Monday, pledging stringent austerity to avoid an exit from the euro and the global financial chaos that could have followed.

The deal calls for Greeks, already reeling from harsh measures and economic decline, to cut back even further in exchange for more loans without which its financial system would surely collapse. The deal, which still needs approval from Greece's parliament, will be the country's third bailout in five years.

To get to a deal, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had to overcome the fundamental mistrust of many of his allies among the 18 other countries that use the euro, known as the eurozone. Just a week earlier, at his urging, Greeks had voted in a referendum to reject many of the measures he agreed to Monday, and the deal forced him to renege on many of his election promises.

"We managed to avoid the most extreme measures," Tsipras said. "Greece will fight to return to growth and to reclaim its lost sovereignty."

Read it all.

Update: Politico also has a summary article on the deal there.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeGreece* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If humanity wants some quick wins, a good place to start would be road accidents. Traffic killed 1.24 million people in 2010, says the World Health Organisation. That’s about double the toll of homicides and armed conflict combined. Yet we could save many of these lives quite easily. Our failure to do so is in part a simple failure of imagination.

“Road traffic injuries have been neglected from the global health agenda . . . despite being predictable and largely preventable,” says the WHO. Car crashes aren’t considered news precisely because they are routine, remarks the Dutch writer Joris Luyendijk. He says that although road accidents are “the biggest bloodbath in the Arab world”, media instead focus on the much smaller bloodbath of terrorism.

Terrorists killed nearly 18,000 people worldwide in 2013, says the Institute for Economics and Peace. That’s 1.5 per cent of the number killed by traffic. Of course, terrorism might one day escalate to apocalyptic proportions, but then pundits have been predicting that since 2001. Meanwhile, with ever more cars sold, roads will soon probably kill more people than either Aids or tuberculosis.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchGlobalizationTravel* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 12, 2015 at 6:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 11, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A strict monotheist, Soubry wants us to worship the god of finance on a Sunday. All other gods must be smashed, smeared, ridiculed. Only the god of money deserves our true and unquestioning obedience. Well, I do wish she’d stop ramming her religion down our throats. I don’t want to be more productive. I want to lie about on the sofa watching rubbish TV. Or chat aimlessly to the people I love. Or just sit under a tree and do nothing. These are perfectly respectable things to do.

So why is Sunday special? The Christian answer is more complicated than expected. Early Christians moved their “day of rest” from the seventh day of the week to the first day, from Saturday to Sunday. Despite the fourth commandment mandating Saturday, ie seventh day, sabbath observance, this move was partly a way of honouring the resurrection, which happened “on the first day of the week”; partly about distinguishing Christianity from Judaism; and partly a way of colonising the posh Roman sun-worshipping day.

But it also conveniently distanced Christianity, and its new imperial friends, from all that dangerously redistributive stuff about the jubilee, to which the sabbath is fundamentally connected. For the seventh day of the week corresponded to the seventh day of creation, when God rested – and from this derives: 1) rest on the seventh day; 2) rest for the land on the seventh year (which on the Jewish calender is this year); and 3) the forgiveness of all debts – the jubilee – on the seventh times seventh year.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 11, 2015 at 3:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Kevin Kruse’s Under God: How Corporate American Invented Christian America is an engaging and important book with a somewhat misleading central argument.

Kruse explains how many things Americans take for granted came to be: the presence of “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, the adoption of “In God We Trust” as a national motto, the annual “presidential” prayer breakfast, and the presidential practice of ending speeches with “may God bless America.” Although “In God We Trust” has a longer history, many elements of American civil religion have their roots not in the American founding but in the more recent past.

Nor did expressions of public piety bubble up from the pews. Instead, a coalition of politically conservative business leaders forged ties with likeminded ministers, evangelists, and politicians to fight against New Deal liberalism, Communism, and immorality. Kruse describes their agenda as “Christan libertarianism.” Many individuals played leading roles in this cause: the Congregationalist minister James Fifield, Goodwill Industries founder Abraham Vereide, philanthropist J. Howard Pew, Ronald Reagan, Walt Disney. But the two foremost heroes (or villains, depending on your perspective) were Dwight Eisenhower and Billy Graham.

Read it all from Christianity Today.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Supreme Court’s decision in June that legalized same-sex marriage across the country has unleashed a renewed debate over polygamy, leaving some to wonder why marriage should be considered between just two persons.

The first legal challenge involving polygamy came last week after a man from Montana said the Supreme Court’s decision inspired him to apply for a marriage license so he can legally marry a second woman. Nathan Collier, who was featured on the reality television show “Sister Wives,” said he will sue the state if it denies him the right to enter into a plural marriage.

“It’s about marriage equality,” Collier told the Associated Press. “You can’t have this without polygamy.” A county civil litigator Kevin Gillen said he was reviewing Montana’s bigamy laws and expected to send a formal response to Collier by this week.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralSupreme Court

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Posted July 11, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The nation’s capital could be on track to join those U.S. jurisdictions where terminally ill patients can legally seek to end their lives with medication prescribed by physicians.

D.C. lawmakers on Friday held a hearing on the Death With Dignity Act of 2015, which would authorize doctors to prescribe lethal medication to patients who have been given six months or less to live and wish to die on their own terms.

The bill, introduced by ­D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), is modeled on the assisted-suicide law in Oregon, where more than 850 terminally ill patients have taken their lives in the 18 years since the statute was passed.

Read it all.


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Posted July 11, 2015 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In recent days, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Francis have all spoken out on the vital issue of climate change. It is vital, because the long-term future of the Earth and its inhabitants is at stake. It is no less a matter than that.

The issue of climate change led to the landmark Rio Earth Summit in 1992, which set out a framework for action aimed at stabilising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases to avoid dangerous interference with the climate system. What is termed the Conference of Parties (COP) regularly reviews the implementation of the Rio action programme. The next COP will be held next December in Paris and, for the first time in two decades of UN negotiations, will seek to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, aiming to keep global warming below 2°C.

Read it all.

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Posted July 10, 2015 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

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Posted July 10, 2015 at 9:51 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Federation of Law Societies of Canada has approved the law program of TWU as meeting academic and professional standards. The LSUC admits there is nothing wrong with TWU’s law program; its graduates will be fully competent to practise law. But the LSUC claims that TWU’s code of conduct discriminates against the LGBTQ community. The code prohibits numerous legal activities, such as vulgar or obscene language, drunkenness, viewing pornography, gossip and sex outside of the marriage of one man and one woman. Nobody is required to submit to TWU’s standards. Students voluntarily decide to study law (or teaching, nursing, etc.) at TWU rather than at another university.

The LSUC is correct in observing that a married same-sex couple could not study law at TWU. But the same holds true for any unmarried people who do not wish to practise celibacy, not to mention marijuana smokers, heavy drinkers, pornography-viewers and the foul-mouthed.

The court’s “discrimination” mantra is a half-truth, which, as Canadian humorist Stephen Leacock once said, is like half a brick: It will carry further. TWU “discriminates” against anyone who disagrees with a traditional religious moral code. Every charity, political party and ethnic association discriminates against those who disagree with its select beliefs or practices. Forcing majority beliefs on organizations destroys the distinct characteristics of each one, and attacks the authentic diversity that is the hallmark of a free society like Canada.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & PartnershipsYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Daniel] Gai moved back to the country in 2011 and worked for a Denver-based aid agency that builds schools. He married and had a son. And he was there four years ago when South Sudan declared independence.

But soon, history repeated itself — for Gai and his country.

Civil war erupted again.

Gai was in his village, with his wife and newborn, and his elderly father, when rebels attacked.

Just like when he was 6 years old, he and his family started running. They hid in the swamp for more than a week.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPovertyViolenceYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan* Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The question is posed: Can the United States go on as it has been with a good portion of its working class almost entirely isolated from the promise of our country?

It is a yes or no question. A “yes” involves the acceptance of a rigid, self-perpetuating class system in a country with democratic and egalitarian pretentions — a system upheld and enforced by heavy-handed policing, routine incarceration and social and educational segregation.

A “no” is just the start of a very difficult task. The mixed legacy of the Great Society — helping the elderly get health care, it turns out, is easier than creating opportunity in economically and socially decimated communities — has left the national dialogue on poverty ideologically polarized. And many policy proposals in this field seem puny in comparison to the Everest of need.

But there is one set of related policy ideas that would dramatically help the poor and should not be ideologically divisive. How about a renewed effort to help the poor by refusing to cheat them?

Read it all.

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




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