Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Internal Revenue Service said it will monitor churches and other houses of worship for electioneering in a settlement reached with an atheist group.

The settlement was reached Friday (July 18) in federal court in Madison, Wis., where the initial lawsuit was filed in 2012 by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based atheist advocacy group that claims 20,000 members nationwide.

The suit alleged the IRS routinely ignored complaints by the FFRF and others about churches promoting political candidates, issues or proposed legislation. As part of their tax-exempt status, churches and other religious groups are prohibited from engaging in partisan political activity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General

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Posted July 22, 2014 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The letter arrived in Sue Galloway's mailbox with no return address and a brief message warning Galloway, who is Jewish, to "be careful." It was signed "666."

Across town, Linda Stephens, an atheist, received a similarly worded letter, along with a verbal suggestion from a neighbor that she leave town, because "nobody here likes you."

The women's perceived sin? Challenging the Town Board's long-standing practice of opening monthly meetings with a prayer, a policy the Supreme Court upheld in May in a 5-4 ruling that has done little to calm the debate over what place prayer should have in local politics.

Political leaders in Greece, a quiet, middle-class suburb of Rochester, say the ruling affirmed that there is nothing wrong with what they have been doing since 1999, and with what goes on in scores of state legislatures, Congress and the Supreme Court itself. "It's like you do the Pledge of Allegiance, and you do a prayer," said William Reilich, the town supervisor, a position that serves as head of the board. "This is supposed to be a very light greeting. It's not a service."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Theology

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Posted July 22, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Iraq’s prime minister on Sunday condemned the Islamic State extremist group’s actions targeting Christians in territory it controls, saying they reveal the threat the jihadists pose to the minority community’s “centuries-old heritage.”

The comments from Nouri al-Maliki come a day after the expiration of a deadline imposed by the Islamic State group calling on Christians in the militant-held city of Mosul to convert to Islam, pay a tax or face death. Most Christians opted to flee to the nearby self-ruled Kurdish region or other areas protected by Kurdish security forces.

“What is being done by the Daesh terrorist gang against our Christian citizens in Ninevah province, and their aggression against the churches and houses of worship in the areas under their control, reveals beyond any doubt the extremist criminal and terrorist nature of this group,” al-Maliki said in a statement released by his office, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.

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

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Posted July 21, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Lord Carrington of Fulham (Con): My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that Answer. With some young British Muslims being radicalised, does she agree that it is very important that they are taught at a very young age, either in school or elsewhere, to understand the similarities between all religions, in particular the shared values of the Abrahamic religions, so they can understand that Christianity and Judaism are not the enemies of Islam? Can she suggest the best way to make this come about?

Baroness Warsi: My Lords, it is important that all people, especially young people, have an understanding of the diverse communities in which we live, including different faith communities. My noble friend may be heartened to know from surveys, including a DCLG survey from a few years ago, that 90% of Muslims agreed that people from different backgrounds get on well, as opposed to 87% of the general population; 89% of Muslims agreed that it is possible to fully belong to Britain and maintain a religious identity, compared to 72% of the general population; and 74% of Muslims believe that there should be more mixing between different communities and different ethnic and religious groups, compared to 71% of the general public.

Lord Patel of Bradford (Lab): My Lords, will the Minister say what plans the Government have to work with the media to encourage them to stop publishing demonising articles about whole communities because of the actions of a handful of terrorists?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslam

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Posted July 21, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S. leveled its most-explicit allegations yet of Russia's involvement in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and subsequent efforts to conceal evidence, and European leaders threatened broad new sanctions against Moscow, marking a turning point in the standoff between the West and the Kremlin.

Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday warned Russian President Vladimir Putin "for the last time" to accede to Western demands to disarm pro-Russian separatists and stabilize Ukraine.

Officials in Europe, meanwhile, departed from their initially muted reaction as anger grew across the continent over the attack that left 298 people dead and the chaos at the crash area in eastern Ukraine. Reports that bodies were being handled haphazardly and that separatist guards on the scene were drunk have caused fury in European countries where victims came from, including the Netherlands.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 21, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

GONZALEZ: It's a scene that captured the attention of the country and world. Anti-immigrant protestors blocking buses filled with undocumented Central American migrant children, some adults, from reaching a border patrol station in the southern California community of Murrieta.

The children aboard the buses were just some of the more than 52,000 minors, many of them unaccompanied by adults, who have been detained by immigration authorities since October. It's the largest influx of asylum seekers into the U.S. since 1980.

There are so many migrant children arriving, temporary immigration holding facilities along the border have been filled to capacity, and the children have been flown to other parts of the country, for shelter and care at military bases and other facilities. Overwhelmed by the sheer number of migrants, the government has turned to faith communities for help.

Read or watch and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Mexico* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 21, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The arguments against assisted suicide are strongly held. Many people object on moral or religious grounds, while some doctors say that it conflicts with their oath to “do no harm”. Opponents add that vulnerable people may feel pressure to spare their carers the burden—or, worse, may be bullied into choosing suicide. And there is a broader argument that allowing assisted suicide in some cases will create a slippery slope, with ever more people being allowed (or forced) to take their own lives, even for trivial reasons.

But the arguments in favour are more compelling. In a pluralistic society, the views of one religion should not be imposed on everybody. Those with a genuine moral objection to assisted suicide need not participate. What a doctor sees as harm a patient may see as relief; and anyway it is no longer standard for medical students to take the Hippocratic oath. The hardest argument concerns vulnerable people: they may indeed feel pressure, but that is simply a reason to set up a robust system of counselling and psychiatric assessment, requiring the agreement of several doctors that a patient is in their right mind and proceeding voluntarily.

It is also true that as some countries relax their restrictions on assisted suicide, the practice will become more common and there will probably be pressure for other restrictions to be removed. But there is nothing unusual in this. Moral absolutes are rare. When faced with dilemmas societies draw boundaries and carve out exceptions.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsPsychology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UKEurope* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 21, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...in the past 48 hours, open-source intelligence – and information gathered by national intelligence agencies – has built up a compelling body of evidence that seems to point to what – and who – shot down the Malaysia Airlines jet and its 298 innocent passengers over eastern Ukraine.

It suggests pro-Russian separatists and Russian military personnel shot down MH17, by mistake, with a Buk-M1 surface-to-air missile launcher from near the towns of Snizhne and Torez, according to briefings given by Ukrainian and US intelligence officials at the weekend.

The officials say the missile system was probably supplied by Russia and smuggled across the border into eastern Ukraine in recent weeks.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesTravel* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussiaUkraine* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 20, 2014 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Seventy Palestinians were killed Sunday in a heavy bombardment of a Gaza neighborhood and 13 Israeli soldiers were slain in the most intense day of fighting in Israel’s current offensive against Hamas fighters, officials said. The Hamas military also announced that its fighters had captured an Israeli soldier.

Abu Obaida, a spokesman for the Al Qassam Brigades, appeared on Hamas TV to announce the soldier had been taken prisoner. Minutes later, there were fireworks and shouts of “God is great!” from loud speakers.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said the army was investigating the claim.

Read it all and join in as we continue to pray for peace.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 20, 2014 at 4:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christian families streamed out of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Saturday after Islamist fighters said they would be killed if they did not pay a protection tax or convert to Islam.

“For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians,” Patriarch Louis Sako lamented as hundreds of families fled ahead of a noon deadline set by Islamic State for them to submit or leave.

The warning was read out in Mosul’s mosques on Friday afternoon, and broadcast throughout the city on loudspeakers.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted July 19, 2014 at 2:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We live in intolerant times. A former Secretary of State is disinvited from speaking on campus. Corporate leaders are forced to resign because of their views on marriage. People are forced by the courts to violate their consciences. A prominent Senate leader calls Tea Party activists “anarchists” and, in a speech reminiscent of McCarthyism, brands the businessmen-philanthropist Koch brothers “un-American.” The Internal Revenue Service—harking back to the Johnson and Nixon eras—is accused of targeting individuals and groups for their political views. And government leaders routinely ignore laws they are sworn to uphold.

This is more than intolerant. It is illiberal. It is a willingness to use coercive methods, from government action to public shaming, to shut down debate and censor those who hold a different opinion as if they have no right to their views at all.

Read it all and read part two there also.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted July 18, 2014 at 11:56 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Iran is discussing with the IAEA its development of exploding bridgewire (EBW) detonators, which are safer and more controllable than other detonators and are used by other countries in nuclear weapons. Iran says that their EBW detonators are for oilfield applications. Iran has provided materials to the IAEA, and the IAEA has not come to any conclusions yet.

The IAEA was investigating PMD long before the JPOA went into effect and has many more questions. The EBW discussion is a first step, but the IAEA would like a more systematic approach. However, they leave the door open to piecemeal discussions, requesting further information on neutron transport modeling and calculations (how neutrons split atoms – in a reactor or a bomb) and a site visit to Parchin, where explosives experiments may have been done to give information that is useful only for a bomb.

For the past six months, both sides have stuck by their word as expressed in the JPOA. They are closer to an agreement than ever before.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 18, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

My Lords, this present Bill is not about relieving pain or suffering. It makes that quite clear in its definition of a terminally ill patient to include those whose progressive illness can be relieved but not reversed. This bill is about asserting a philosophy, which not only Christians, but also other thoughtful people of goodwill who have had experience in care for the dying must find incredible: that is, the ancient Stoic philosophy that ending one’s life in circumstances of distress is an assertion of human freedom. That it cannot be. Human freedom is won only by becoming reconciled with the need to die, and by affirming the human relations we have with other people. Accepting the approach of death is not the attitude of passivity that we may think it to be. Dying well is the positive achievement of a task that belongs with our humanity. It is unlike all other tasks given to us in life, but it expresses the value we set on life as no other approach to death can do.

We need time, human presence and sympathy in coming to terms with a terminal prognosis. To put the opportunity to end one’s life before a patient facing that task would be to invite him or her to act under their influence rather than dealing with them.

It is possible to think abstractly that one’s early death would be welcome to one’s nearest family and would spare them trouble. But in fact the best service one could do for them would be to accept their care, and to show appreciation of them at the end of one’s life.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Archbishop of York John Sentamu* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsPsychology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 18, 2014 at 6:44 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pro-Russian rebels shot down a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine after mistaking it for a military transport plane, according to phone-tapped recordings released by authorities in Kiev.

The recordings suggest that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, which had 283 passengers and 15 crew aboard, was targeted by a Cossack unit supporting the separatist forces in the Donetsk region.

It took the rebels about an hour to get to the scene of the crash and work out that the plane was not, as they had thought, a Ukrainian air force Antonov-26 but a passing passenger plane - prompting a Cossack commander to suggest that the aircraft must have been carrying spies.

”They shouldn’t be ****ing flying. There is a war going on,” he says.

Read it all (requires subscription).

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

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Posted July 18, 2014 at 6:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...now, things have changed. Some may point to the pressure Netanyahu was facing from his own cabinet. Only days into the recent round of fighting, Netanyahu’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, announced that his Yisrael Beitenu faction would end its partnership with Netanyahu’s Likud party, a partnership that had guaranteed Netanyahu the largest party in the Israeli coalition. Lieberman cited “essential differences” with Netanyahu over the latter’s overly restrained response to Hamas’ rocketfire. And just yesterday, Netanyahu fired his incendiary deputy defense minister, Danny Dannon, over his unrelenting criticism of the Israeli government’s handling of the current campaign—particularly its acceptance of a ceasefire proposed by Egypt. (The ceasefire, unfortunately, was rejected by Hamas.)

But the more likely explanation is that Israel just didn’t have any other options. Israel could have continued its aerial and artillery exchanges with Hamas, but this campaign did not appear to be damaging either the will or the capability of Hamas. It could have loosened its rules of engagement and struck Hamas more effectively—but doing so would have inflicted unconscionably disproportionate civilian damage. It could have capitulated to Hamas’s ultimatums to release hundreds of security prisoners and reopened Gaza to shipments of arms- and tunnel-making materials. Apart from the moral implications of such a concession, doing so would simply have strengthened Hamas and ensured additional fighting. An extended cease-fire would be ideal. But so far, Egyptian attempts to broker such a cease-fire seem to have fallen on deaf ears. So Netanyahu was left with a choice that wasn’t really much of a choice.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 18, 2014 at 5:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Vladimir Putin’s intransigence over Ukraine risks turning him into a global pariah should the blame for downing a Malaysian Air jet fall on pro-Russia rebels.

The crash of the Boeing Co. (BA) 777, which had 298 passengers on board, follows by less than 24 hours the imposition of new sanctions against Russia that targeted major energy companies and banks. While the rebels denied accusations by the Ukraine government that they shot down the flight, the U.S. said this week that the separatists were being supplied with more heavy weaponry from Russia.

“If there is solid evidence that it is the militants who did it and the weapon originated in Russia, there will be really strong pressure on Putin to really contribute to de-escalation,” Masha Lipman, an analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center, said by phone. “This should change the way all nations, and not just the West, regard this conflict in Ukraine, and Russia’s role in it.”

Read it all.


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

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Posted July 18, 2014 at 4:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mass surveillance of UK citizens is taking place without proper safeguards and in breach of people’s rights to privacy, it was claimed this week.

The British intelligence services share personal communications data collected by the US authorities on a “vast scale” — including on “a very substantial number of people located in the UK,” lawyers claimed at a hearing in London.

The claims came at the start of a landmark challenge to the legality of government intelligence-gathering before the normally secret Investigatory Powers Tribunal, which investigates complaints about the conduct of the security and intelligence services, often behind closed doors.

Read it all (subscription required).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingLaw & Legal IssuesScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 17, 2014 at 7:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Shaw Air Force Base was spared in this round of the Air Force’s budget cuts, losing no jobs, but Joint Base Charleston will have 19 positions eliminated.

The announced cuts were the first permanent jobs lost in South Carolina in what is expected to to be a deep reduction in the military following 13 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. State leaders are preparing to fight for the state’s seven installations, based mostly in Columbia, Charleston and Beaufort.

The installations and their missions, as well as a large National Guard, numerous defense contractors in the Upstate and a high number of retirees, especially on the coast, pump nearly $16 billion a year into the state’s economy, according to a study by the S.C. Department of Commerce.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina

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Posted July 17, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Shorty after the sanctions were unveiled, US President Barack Obama made a statement where he said these measures were designed to bring no inconveniences to US companies and its allies.

"These sanctions are significant, but they are also targeted - designed to have the maximum impact on Russia while limiting any spillover effects on American companies or those of our allies," Obama vowed.

But Putin reminded about the existing agreement between Russia’s oil giant Rosneft and ExxonMobil that has granted the US-based energy corporation access to the Russian hydrocarbon reserves in the Arctic.

“So, don’t they want it [ExxonMobil] to work there? They are dealing damage to their biggest energy companies - and to what purpose?” Putin wondered speaking at a press conference on Thursday.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.EuropeRussiaUkraine

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Posted July 17, 2014 at 5:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One factor in our current turmoil in The Episcopal Church and the larger Anglican Communion is the power and authority of bishops. One way to read the primates’ communiqué is as a rejection of the polity of The Episcopal Church that limits the power of bishops to make policy for the larger church. William White never proposed a distinct House of Bishops separate from the House of Deputies. For him, the clergy and laity meeting together, with their bishops, was adequate, as is still the case in diocesan conventions.

Born and educated in the democratic cauldron of Philadelphia, White did not object to the role of bishops elsewhere, but believed the new American church had an opportunity to return to its primitive roots when, before Constantine, the laity participated in the selection of their bishop, and before 1066, when the power of a bishop was not an extension of the power of the state. For the New England states, White’s new democratic Catholicism went too far. The clergy of Connecticut so objected to White’s proposal to have the first duly elected bishop of the United States consecrated by presbyters, temporarily, until proper Episcopal orders could be attained, they chose (without the vote of the laity) Samuel Seabury as bishop. He sailed for Canterbury, where he would not be consecrated, and then moved on to the non-juror bishops of Scotland.

Seabury believed that apostolic bishops, not a democratic process shared by clergy and laity, should determine the governance and worship of the emergent Episcopal Church. But for William White, who knew how difficult it would be to unify an Episcopal Church out of its very diverse parts, a method of choosing bishops was needed before the choosing could happen. For White, to do otherwise would be like electing George Washington the president, and then having him write the Constitution.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC Polity & Canons* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 17, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A lawsuit brought by a Sudanese Muslim father against a Christian woman to formally establish her as his Muslim daughter was dropped on Wednesday, the lawyer handling the case said, a move that could allow her to depart for the United States.

The case of Mariam Yahya Ibrahim, 27, raised an international furore when a Sudanese court sentenced her to death in May on charges of converting from Islam to Christianity and marrying a Christian South Sudanese-American.

Ibrahim says she was born and raised as a Christian by an Ethiopian family in Sudan and was later abducted by the Sudanese Muslim family. The Muslim family denies that and insists she belongs to them.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 16, 2014 at 4:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We should have learned a lot from the Vietnam War. It showed how ill-suited we are to engineer “regime change.” We signed on with a very corrupt, French-speaking Catholic minority government. When we tried to change horses to a series of generals, things got worse, not better. Vietnam also made it clear that pouring U.S. troops into a place like that doesn’t change the situation on the ground, and it eventually fractured our own society and wore out our own military.

Mr. Just’s protagonist gets it. It takes two deaths to teach him. The first is when he visits a village to inspect an aid project and faces a man carrying a dead woman in his arms. The second is when he is trying to find his way out of the jungle and has to kill a young boy who otherwise would have killed him.

This doesn’t mean the United States can’t interact with the rest of the world without causing damage or getting banged up itself. It simply means that we must make a mighty effort to understand the people with whom we are interacting, and, even more crucially, resist meddling in their affairs, particularly with military force, until we are absolutely certain we know what we are doing. In nearly all cases, that will mean we do not.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 16, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An atheist is set to deliver the invocation in a western New York community whose town board won a U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding its right to open meetings with a prayer.

Dan Courtney, 52, a mechanical engineer, said he asked the town of Greece right after the 5-4 decision in May for an opportunity to deliver the "non-theist" message.

The court's conservative majority declared the prayers in line with national traditions and said the content is not significant as long as the prayers don't denigrate non-Christians or try to win converts. The town argued persons of any faith were welcome to give the invocation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureRural/Town Life* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheism

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Posted July 15, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

William "Jackrabbit" Large pulls his SUV onto the side of a downtown Seattle street, parking behind an Amazon Fresh delivery truck and carrying a product the online retailer doesn't offer: marijuana.

The thin, bespectacled Large is a delivery man for Winterlife, a Seattle company that is among a group of new businesses pushing the limits of Washington state's recreational pot industry by offering to bring marijuana to almost any doorstep.

"It's an opportunity that should not be missed," Large says with the kind of fast-talking voice meant for radio.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 15, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Gunmen suspected to be members of Boko Haram sect yesterday invaded the Dille Village in Askira-Uba Local Government Area of Borno State, killing five civilians and setting ablaze three churches including the Church of Brethern in Nigeria, EYN, as well as shops and residential buildings.

Unconfirmed reports revealed that unspecified number of the attackers were also killed by military fighter jets that arrived the scene of the incident and bombed them.

This was even as the Nigerian Army High Command yesterday declared that the battle against Boko Haram and terrorism will be defeated though it urged the citizenry to be patient as the development was a new phenomenon whereas the army is a conventionally trained force.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted July 15, 2014 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Egypt has proposed a ceasefire to end a week of cross-border fire between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

The initiative, announced by the foreign ministry, urges a ceasefire starting on Tuesday morning followed by a series of meetings in Cairo with high-level delegations from both sides.

It comes ahead of an urgent meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgyptIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 14, 2014 at 3:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Cyberspace has become shorthand for the computing devices, networks, fibre-optic cables, wireless links and other infrastructure that bring the internet to billions of people around the world. The myriad connections forged by these technologies have brought tremendous benefits to everyone who uses the web to tap into humanity’s collective store of knowledge every day.

But there is a darker side to this extraordinary invention. Data breaches are becoming ever bigger and more common. Last year over 800m records were lost, mainly through such attacks.... Among the most prominent recent victims has been Target, whose chief executive, Gregg Steinhafel, stood down from his job in May, a few months after the giant American retailer revealed that online intruders had stolen millions of digital records about its customers, including credit- and debit-card details. Other well-known firms such as Adobe, a tech company, and eBay, an online marketplace, have also been hit.

The potential damage, though, extends well beyond such commercial incursions. Wider concerns have been raised by the revelations about the mass surveillance carried out by Western intelligence agencies made by Edward Snowden, a contractor to America’s National Security Agency (NSA), as well as by the growing numbers of cyber-warriors being recruited by countries that see cyberspace as a new domain of warfare. America’s president, Barack Obama, said in a White House press release earlier this year that cyberthreats “pose one of the gravest national-security dangers” the country is facing.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 14, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Afghanistan is set to begin an unprecedented audit of the 8.1 million votes cast in the June 14 presidential election, a process that is expected to take at least three weeks and will delay the inauguration of a new president.

Former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani and former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah agreed after marathon talks with Secretary of State John Kerry this weekend to a full audit of the bitterly contested election, which had threatened to split the country along ethnic and territorial lines.

In a political deal also brokered by Mr. Kerry, the two candidates said that in addition to accepting the results of the audit, they agreed that the winner of the election would form a "national unity government" that would include the losing side.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 14, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Recently we learned that]...a critical threshold has now been reached in the 10,000-year history of urban civilization. On Thursday, the United Nations declared for the first time that more than half of the people on the planet live in cities. Only 70 years ago, less than a third did. And by 2050, two-thirds of people will be living in cities.

The rapid pace in urbanization has many causes, such as better transportation and a rise in manufacturing. China, for example, has seen the world’s largest migration as more than 150 million rural people have moved to cities in recent decades for factory jobs and better education after the country embraced a market economy.

But a deeper cause likely drives people to live in close proximity to each other and put up with noise, traffic, pollution, and high prices....Cities are escalators to the good life. They are dream factories. Urban migrants put up with squalor in order to lift their families out of generations of rural stagnation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPolitics in GeneralCity Government* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 13, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Power unites people both in circuits comprised of equals and in circuits comprised of unequals, as it unites the Persons of the Trinity who are equal in nature and being, but ordered in relationality. As exercised within human relationships, power can of course be corrupted: among equals by overreaching itself in tyranny or under-respecting itself in servility; among unequals by impatiently arising into rebelliousness or foolishly dissolving into remissness. Meanwhile, good power remains where it is, a mixture or interpenetration of both liberalism and conservatism, of equality and hierarchy. The electrical current needs both positive and negative nodes. The magnetic field binds both north and south poles.

Lewis was fond of the Latin tag, abusus non tollit usum ('abuse does not abolish use'). Power can be abused, but the fact that a thing can be abused does not mean it cannot be used at all, or even used well; strictly speaking, in fact it implies just the opposite. Therefore I propose that we stop using power as a dirty word and reclaim it as a positive term. Power is a good thing, indeed, it is a divine attribute: 'for Thine is the kingdom and the power . . .' Although it is natural for man 'to try to attain power without recovering grace,' as Maclean puts it, that error tells us nothing about the intrinsic nature of power itself, but only about the gracelessness of human beings.

Lewis considered George Bernard Shaw to be a somewhat graceless author; he satirises him as Pshaw through the mouth of his diabolical character, Screwtape.9 Nevertheless, we leave the last word to this same Shaw who, in a fine epigram with which Lewis would surely have concurred, once opined, 'Power does not corrupt men; fools, however, if they get into a position of power, corrupt power.'

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 12, 2014 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Sudanese court in May sentences a Christian woman married to an American to be hanged, after first being lashed 100 times, after she refuses to renounce her Christian faith.

Muslim extremists in Iraq demand that Christians pay a tax or face crucifixion, according to the Iraqi government.

In Malaysia, courts ban some non-Muslims from using the word “Allah.”

In country after country, Islamic fundamentalists are measuring their own religious devotion by the degree to which they suppress or assault those they see as heretics, creating a human rights catastrophe as people are punished or murdered for their religious beliefs.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 10, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dr Samina Yasmeen: Let me first look at his action, and I think they are anything but Islamic. They really grow out of this belief that anyone who provides a notion of what it means to be a Muslim and has weapons to support it can go to the extent of being as barbaric as he has been and as he has encouraged his own group members and followers to be. Once somebody is convinced of the authenticity of their idea of Islamic notions and identity and if they have weapons they engage in completely barbaric acts.

Noel Debien: And more specifically on the claim to be a "Caliph"?.

Dr Samina Yasmeen: The whole notion of Caliph really is so sophisticated and it's historically based, that for anyone to get up and claim that he's a Caliph really needs to be laughed at. To give you a sense of how the whole institution of Caliphate involved, it really evolved after prophet Muhammad passed away and the question of succession engaged as to who should be the Caliph. Among the Shias and the Sunnis the division existed because some argued that it was in the family line and so they supported Ali to be the next leader and others argued Abr Bakr should be. But essentially based on that experience, the first four Caliphs, there's a relatively general consensus that Caliphs are not agents of Allah because that would give them the same status as prophets. The next most accepted position is that Caliphs are the agents of the prophet, so they carry the message and the activity and the actions that Prophet Muhammad established while he ruled Medina as the Muslim leader. There are others that argued that the Muslim community is really the whole basis for the Caliphate, so Caliphs are agents of the Muslim community, so the Muslim community's rights and responsibilities in some ways even override the Caliph's opinions. Given that, the question is which aspect of Caliphate is he assuming to be appropriate for him?

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted July 10, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Up to 20 people have been killed in the deadliest night of Israeli air raids on Gaza since its current offensive began, Palestinian officials say.

The health ministry said most died in attacks on a house and a cafe in Khan Younis in the south, bringing the overall death toll to 76.

Militants in Gaza continued firing rockets into Israel on Thursday, with sirens sounding over southern towns.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned the situation was "on a knife-edge".

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

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Posted July 10, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We have also decided to name a (Special) Legislative Committee on Marriage for this General Convention to ensure that the work of the Task Force on Marriage and resolutions related to the rapidly shifting contexts of civil marriage in the United States and in several other parts of the world can be given appropriate consideration. This will also make it possible for the Prayer Book, Liturgy & Music legislative committee to give full consideration to the other business that will come before it.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention House of Deputies President Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 10, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For many members of the class of 2014 who borrowed money to attend college, the clock is ticking on what is likely to be their biggest expense after graduation.

They'll have to start paying back their federal student loans in November or December—as the six-month grace period that lenders give new grads comes to an end. But depending on their income—or lack of income, if they're still looking for work—some borrowers may be eligible for much lower payments than they'd anticipated.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationLaw & Legal IssuesYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in General

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Posted July 9, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Anyone who can afford it chooses the United States,” said Lesa A. Slaughter, a fertility lawyer in Los Angeles.

Some lawyers who handle surrogacy tell of ethical problems with intended parents from abroad. Melissa Brisman, a New Jersey lawyer who handled Paulo and João’s surrogacy, had a prospective client from China who wanted to use five simultaneous gestational surrogates. She turned him down.

Mr. Vorzimer, in California, had an international client who wanted six embryos implanted.

“He wanted to keep two babies, and put the rest up for adoption,” Mr. Vorzimer said. “I said, ‘What, like the pick of the litter?’ and he said, ‘That’s right.’ I told him I wouldn’t work with him.”

Read it all from Sunday's New York Times.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 9, 2014 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two years after the Episcopal Church opened the door to same-sex blessings, a local advisory board is urging Bishop Steven A. Miller to allow their use in the Diocese of Milwaukee, saying a majority of area parishes favor allowing them.

Miller said last week that he is reviewing the recommendation of his Standing Committee and will respond later this summer. But he reiterated his reservations, saying the blessing falls short of a marriage rite and as such treats same-sex couples inequitably in the eyes of the church.

"My concern about the rite is that it looks like marriage but says it's not," said Miller, who has voiced support for same-sex civil marriages.

"A blessing still keeps gay and lesbian people in a second-tier status," Miller said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 9, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It may surprise Christians in the West, like ourselves, that we have in one or two generations achieved minority status. But we have. The winds of social change around the world are blowing against strongly held religious views, in part as the legacy of the attack on 9/11. That terrorist act showed the world what fanatical religious beliefs could do. The surprising result of this is that religious freedom has become one of the great issues of this century.

In the correct concern to protect "rights," growing out of the Civil Rights Movement, we have often forgotten that those whose rights stem from their view of God's will especially need protection.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 8, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One such company was hailed last year by the left-wing policy website Demos “for thumbing its nose at the conventional wisdom that success in the retail industry” requires paying “bargain-basement wages.” A retail chain with nearly 600 stores and 13,000 workers, this business sets its lowest full-time wage at $15 an hour, and raised wages steadily through the stagnant postrecession years. (Its do-gooder policies also include donating 10 percent of its profits to charity and giving all employees Sunday off.) And the chain is thriving commercially — offering, as Demos put it, a clear example of how “doing good for workers can also mean doing good for business.”

Of course I’m talking about Hobby Lobby, the Christian-owned craft store that’s currently playing the role of liberalism’s public enemy No. 1, for its successful suit against the Obama administration’s mandate requiring coverage for contraceptives, sterilization and potential abortifacients.

But this isn’t just a point about the company’s particular virtues. The entire conflict between religious liberty and cultural liberalism has created an interesting situation in our politics: The political left is expending a remarkable amount of energy trying to fine, vilify and bring to heel organizations — charities, hospitals, schools and mission-infused businesses — whose commitments they might under other circumstances extol.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 8, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the wake of the brutal murder of Arab teenager Muhammad Abu Khdeir in Jerusalem, allegedly committed by Jewish extremists, Israeli politicians, pundits and even former terror victims have expressed their shock and outrage at the killing. And so have some of the Jewish state’s most prominent rabbis. At a meeting of the Chief Rabbinate Council yesterday, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau condemned the crime, saying bluntly, “This is not the way of the Torah.” Lau’s counterpart, Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, planned a personal visit to the Khdeir family, where he said he wished “to fiercely denounce the outrageous murder that was perpetrated against the innocent young man.” The visit was cancelled due to security concerns over his safety, and so Yosef released a public statement calling his fellow clergy to account: “We as religious leaders need to lead forward with a conciliatory message in order to prevent continued pain and bereavement, so that no one else is harmed.”

Other rabbis have answered this call. Rabbi Amnon Bazak of Yeshivat Har Etzion–a school located where three Jewish teenagers were kidnapped and murdered earlier this month–wrote on Facebook that “It is incumbent upon the religious Zionist world to draw a clear red line, especially for the youth, and say: no more! The Torah of Israel and any understanding of the cruel murder of an innocent boy are an utter contradiction that cannot be countenanced in any way.” Noting that some had attempted to justify the killing, Bazak said that “the religious community must remove these individuals once and for all from the legitimate discourse.”

Rabbi Dr. Benny Lau of Beit Morasha and the Israel Democracy Institute also spoke out forcefully against the murder and called on Israelis to grapple with the hate that led to it.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted July 8, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ordinary Internet users, American and non-American alike, far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in the communications intercepted by the National Security Agency from U.S. digital networks, according to a four-month investigation by The Washington Post.

Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else.

Many of them were Americans. Nearly half of the surveillance files, a strikingly high proportion, contained names, e-mail addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents. NSA analysts masked, or “minimized,” more than 65,000 such references to protect Americans’ privacy, but The Post found nearly 900 additional e-mail addresses, unmasked in the files, that could be strongly linked to U.S. citizens or U.S.residents.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 7, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I don’t need to remind you of the widespread concern about the ill-treatment of the aged and those at the end of life in some of our care homes and hospitals - and this in spite of the many dedicated people working in these fields of care. It seems all the more incomprehensible, then, that we would be considering a change in the law to diminish the protection given to those most vulnerable.

Next month a Bill to legalize “assisted suicide” for those at the end of life will begin its passage through Parliament. This legislation will be presented as a “compassionate” measure, whose sole aim is to relieve the suffering of the sick and the aged. Yet, it is far from compassionate to remove the legal protections provided for some of the most vulnerable members of society. The proposed change to our laws will license doctors to supply lethal drugs to assist the deaths of those expected to live for six months or less. If Parliament allows exceptions to the laws which protect the very sanctity of human life, it would be impossible to predict where this will end. In 1967, the politicians who legalised the killing of unborn children in limited and exceptional circumstances did not foresee how violating the sanctity of human life would lead to the wanton destruction of millions of lives. It is not surprising that many vulnerable people, including those with disabilities, are today worried by Lord Falconer’s “assisted dying” Bill. It might sound reasonable to speak of “choicesat the end of life” - as the campaigners for euthanasia do - but what choice will be left for many?

Read it carefully and read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 7, 2014 at 6:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

WARSI: It had. And therefore, we needed to respond. And we've responded in a number of ways, both proactively and reactively respond to challenges that may arise. And the backlash towards the British Muslim community after the tragic murder of Drummer Lee Rigby, the murder that you mentioned on the streets of London, was exactly one of those cases. And what we found, interestingly, after that tragic murder was that we found a unified British Muslim community who was unequivocal in its condemnation of this attack.

MARTIN: But what about the people who do feel that their country is changing in ways that they don't like? I mean, for example, the whole question of full-face coverings, veils. I know you've spoken about that issue. I know that, you know, France has taken the position that these kind of full-face coverings should just not be permitted in the public sphere, particularly in public places. You've taken a different perspective. But what about people who say, look, I don't want to deal with a bank teller whose face is covered? I don't to deal with a school bus driver whose face is covered? I don't want to deal with a teacher in my children's elementary school whose face is covered? I don't want that.

WARSI: Well, first of all, Britain isn't France. And I think that's a good thing.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted July 7, 2014 at 4:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Politicians around the country speak of him reverently, casting him as the sagacious Obi-Wan Kenobi (or maybe Yoda) of local government and noting that no current mayor of a well-known city has lasted so long.

“To maintain enormous popularity in your city and equal reservoirs of respect professionally among your peers — I don’t think there’s anyone who’s been able to do that like he has,” Stephen Goldsmith, the former mayor of Indianapolis, told me.

I had to visit him. I was exhausted with all the cynicism, including my own, about politics and politicians, and I craved something and someone sunnier. I was curious about the perspective of a leader who had clearly gotten a whole lot right.

What makes for good governance? Riley’s observations warranted attention.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 6, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hong Kong has beautiful vistas, per capita income of $38,000 and partial autonomy from China that includes broad civil liberties, but on Tuesday it also had as many as 500,000 people in the streets in the largest public rally in a decade. Days before, 800,000 Hong Kongers—nearly a quarter of the electorate—ignored government warnings and voted in a mock referendum calling for democratic rights.

These developments in a vital economic hub have China displeased. The Beijing government tried to head them off last month by clarifying its Hong Kong policy in an official white paper, but the effect was to highlight Beijing's heavy hand, stoking local anger. Soon cyberattacks targeted the online polling system of the pro-democracy referendum. And as Hong Kongers rallied on Tuesday, China's mainland Web censors were in overdrive, erasing even more material than on the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre last month.

Beijing won't find much relief ahead if Benny Tai has his way. Over the past year, the youthful 49-year-old law professor has gone from leading legal seminars for Hong Kong civil servants to being branded an "enemy of the state" by Beijing-backed media. His offense: founding a group called Occupy Central with Love and Peace, which threatens civil disobedience in Hong Kong's main business district unless China delivers free elections for the local chief executive in 2017. Mr. Tai believes that if 10,000 people credibly threaten to paralyze the city's commercial core, Beijing will sue for peace.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 5, 2014 at 4:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The term LGBT, representing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, has been in widespread use since the early 1990s. Recent additions - queer, "questioning" and intersex - have seen the term expand to LGBTQQI in many places. But do lesbians and gay men, let alone the others on the list, share the same issues, values and goals?

Anthony Lorenzo, a young gay journalist, says the list has become so long, "We've had to start using Sanskrit because we've run out of letters."

Bisexuals have argued that they are disliked and mistrusted by both straight and gay people. Trans people say they should be included because they experience hatred and discrimination, and thereby are campaigning along similar lines as the gay community for equality.

But what about those who wish to add asexual to the pot? Are asexual people facing the same category of discrimination. And "polyamorous"? Would it end at LGBTQQIAP?

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted July 5, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even the future role of the country’s warlords is uncertain. Karzai has kept most of these men off balance and relatively weak during his tenure, and deserves credit for doing so. Yet these men are not gone from public life. They have continued to profit from contracts and investments largely tied to the presence of foreign militaries: vested economic interest is a major factor that keeps them loyal to the democratic system. Indeed, in the 12 and a half years of Karzai’s rule, many have sanitized their images—shorter beards, fancier suits, more politically correct language. For better or worse, their sons and daughters, who seem more attuned to democratic practices, are now beginning to step into their fathers’ shoes.

Spanta says he doubts anyone could have fared better than Karzai in such a fragmented society. And yet the next president of Afghanistan will inherit a broken chain of command, weak institutions, and a variety of local powers that may prove difficult to bring to heel—all the more so because he will lack the personal connections that Karzai worked so hard to cultivate. “The question of whether the forces from the past will succeed again” or whether modernizing forces will take the country forward—“this has not been finalized.” Almost none of the achievements made under Karzai appear irreversible, Spanta lamented. Instead, Afghanistan remains a place stuck between modernity and its own splintered history. Which way it will move next is anyone’s guess.

Read it all.


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

0 Comments
Posted July 5, 2014 at 3:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This remains one of the most unlikely stories of history. Because Jefferson inserted an abstract truth into a bloody, fratricidal struggle, Lincoln could claim the mantle of the Founders during a bloodier struggle, essentially refounding the country on the best interpretation of its principles. After a further century of African American suffering, striving and demand, Lyndon Johnson could sign the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and hand a pen to Martin Luther King Jr. Slowly, awkwardly, America was learning to understand its own language.

This story justifies a mix of realism and idealism. Our advance toward the ideals of the Declaration has been protracted, violent and often hypocritical. And yet: All men are created equal. The phrase is enough to cause a catch in the throat.

Recently I met with a group of democracy activists from Burma. During lunch, I sat next to a young man who appeared college-aged. I found that he had already spent 5½ years in prison for organizing student protests. The idea of equality still drives people to amazing, almost irrational, sacrifices. It remains the most disruptive, hopeful force of history: All men are created equal. Just a whisper of the words is enough to cause humble people to sacrifice everything; enough to cause tyrants to fear.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted July 4, 2014 at 1:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

... the geopolitics are favorable and the ideological climate is warming. But on a still-deeper level this is shaping up to be an even more American century than the last. The global game is moving towards America's home court.

The great trend of this century is the accelerating and deepening wave of change sweeping through every element of human life. Each year sees more scientists with better funding, better instruments and faster, smarter computers probing deeper and seeing further into the mysteries of the physical world. Each year more entrepreneurs are seeking to convert those discoveries and insights into ways to produce new things, or to make old things better and more cheaply. Each year the world's financial markets are more eager and better prepared to fund new startups, underwrite new investments, and otherwise help entrepreneurs and firms deploy new knowledge and insight more rapidly....This challenge will not go away....

Everybody is going to feel the stress, but the United States of America is better placed to surf this transformation than any other country. Change is our home field. It is who we are and what we do. Brazil may be the country of the future, but America is its hometown.

Read it all (dated, but still oh so relevant).

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

0 Comments
Posted July 4, 2014 at 1:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On July 4, 1826, 50 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died within hours of each other. It’s said that George Washington’s retirement after two terms in office ensured democratic order, but the American experiment was truly vindicated in 1801 when Adams, the nation’s second president, ceded power peaceably to Jefferson, America’s third.

To a world familiar with the failures of monarchism and the convulsions of the French Revolution, the orderly transition between bitter political rivals proved that democracy was tenable.

“Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists,” Jefferson said about the chief parties of his day. It is a message worth repeating during our own fractious times.

Read it all.


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

0 Comments
Posted July 4, 2014 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This has to be the weirdest business deal of the week: The Church of England just sold a chunk of forest-covered land on the Fijian island Vanau Levu for $8.8 million to the government of the Pacific island nation of Kiribati. For the moment, Kiribati plans to use its 20-square-kilometer (7.7-square-mile) plot for agriculture and fish farming. But the investment is really a fallback for its 103,000 residents—a place to live if they must leave their home island.

“We would hope not to put everyone on [this] one piece of land, but if it became absolutely necessary, yes, we could do it,” president Anote Tong told the Associated Press, via the Guardian. Tong is awaiting parliamentary approval of the land purchase before clearing that possibility formally with Fiji’s officials.

Why is Tong preparing for a mass defection to an island 2,000 kilometers away?

Read it all.



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

1 Comments
Posted July 2, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Violence in Ukraine escalated sharply Tuesday, as artillery shells and airstrikes pierced the relative calm of a 10-day cease-fire hours after President Petro Poroshenko allowed it to expire.

Both sides appeared to be readying for a protracted battle after days in which the fighting diminished but did not disappear. It remained unclear whether the Ukrainian military, which has battled pro-Russian separatists since mid-April, would be able strike a decisive blow against the rebels, who have seized territory in eastern Ukraine.

The longer a conflict drags on, the greater the risk of further civilian casualties and the harder it will be for Ukraine’s new government to stitch the society back together. Ukraine’s economy presented a formidable challenge even without a growing insurgency in the country’s industrial heartland. The foreign ministers of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France planned to meet Wednesday in Berlin in a last-ditch effort to restart negotiations, the Russian Foreign Ministry said late Tuesday.

Read it all.


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

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Posted July 2, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A church centre in Norwich that helps homeless people, stranded strangers and elderly people is to shut after landlords rejected a rescue plan.

The All Saints Centre needs £100,000 a year to keep going but has hit money difficulties because of the recession.

A plan by Bishop of Norwich Graham James to assume the lease, which could have brought a rent cut, was rejected by Norwich Historic Churches' Trust.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchPovertyReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted July 1, 2014 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A rights group, International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law, Intersociety, on Monday, observed that Christians living in the Northern part of Nigeria are at greater risks of being killed by the Boko Haram Sect.

The group said over 258 Northern Nigerian Christians have been killed by the deadly sect within the last seven days, with the aim to eliminate Christians in the entire Nigeria and imposing Islamic Religion on Nigeria.

In a statement signed by the chairman, Board of Trustees of the organization, Comrade Emeka Umeagbalasi and released to journalists in Awka, Intersociety alleged that the ethno-religious cleansing campaigns launched in July 2009 was also targeted at forcing the federal authorities in the country to return the presidency to core northern Muslims.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted July 1, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was late when John heard a knock at the door of his house in a village in Borno state, north-eastern Nigeria. “Today”, a voice outside shouted, “will be the end of your life”. Nine gunmen then burst into his house and dragged him outside. After setting fire to his car, they beat him to the ground, shot him twice in the head and left him for dead. Rushed to the nearest decent hospital, he was lucky to survive. A pair of cavernous scars bears testimony to his ordeal. That was two years ago. He is still too frightened to go home.

He is one of a rising tide of people who have been forced out by members of Boko Haram, the extreme Islamist group that has been tightening its stranglehold across the country’s north, while the armed forces strive heavy-handedly and in vain to bring it under control. It has attacked targets farther south, too. On June 25th a bomb it was presumed to have planted went off in Abuja, the capital, killing at least 21 people.

No one is certain how many people have been uprooted. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, a Swiss-based, Norwegian-backed group, reckons that 3.3m Nigerians have fled their homes, not just because of Boko Haram. Inter-communal fighting and floods have added to the toll of families forced to flee. If this figure is correct, Nigeria now has the world’s third-highest number of displaced people, after Syria and Colombia.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsHinduism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 29, 2014 at 1:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fr [Carl] Garner, 71, is walking back from morning prayers to his private apartment at the Hertfordshire estate of the family, which traces its direct ancestry back to Queen Elizabeth I’s trusted chief adviser William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley. The chapel, which celebrates its 400th anniversary this year, follows the example of Good Queen Bess, the Protestant queen who was said to hang crucifixes and light candles in her private chapel while fellow Protestants had stripped altars in outrage at such idolatry. Original stained glass and paintings of the apostles are “proto-Laudian”, laughs Canon Garner, resplendent in his dark robes with red buttons and traditional Church of England square cap.

“Many visitors see me in my formal robes and think I’m part of a film set,” says Canon Garner, who used to be a parish priest in Welwyn Garden City. “The service at 8.45am takes 12 minutes and comprises verses from the Book of Common Prayer. We say prayers to the Queen. Lord Salisbury has a busy day, so it’s deliberately short. It’s a bit like school prayers.” During the service the family dogs often lie solemnly under the pews. On major feast days and saint’s days, a communion service is held.

His predecessor, Canon John Laird, says, “The family believe in the beauty of the traditional language and the King James Bible. They appointed me because I’m a traditionalist.”

Read it all (subscription required).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 28, 2014 at 3:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As lawmakers continue the call for answers into the troubled Veterans Affairs health care system, including South Carolina's Sen. Tim Scott, the White House released findings Friday describing "significant and chronic system failures," substantially verifying problems raised by whistleblowers and internal and congressional investigators.

A summary of the review, ordered by President Barack Obama and conducted by deputy White House chief of staff Rob Nabors, says the Veterans Health Administration must be restructured and that a "corrosive culture" has hurt morale and affected the timeliness of health care. The review also found that a 14-day standard for scheduling veterans' medical appointments is unrealistic and has been susceptible to manipulation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 28, 2014 at 9:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“I just don’t think the evidence is there for these long lists,” said Dr. Molly Cooke, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, who helped research a position paper on cannabis for the American College of Physicians. “It’s been so hard to study marijuana. Policy makers are responding to thin data.”

Even some advocates of medical marijuana acknowledge that the state laws legalizing it did not result from careful reviews of the medical literature.

“I wish it were that rational,” said Mitch Earleywine, chairman of the executive board of directors for Norml, a national marijuana advocacy group. Dr. Earleywine said state lawmakers more often ask themselves, “What disease does the person in a wheelchair in my office have?”

Read it all from the front page of today's NY Times paper copy.

Also, make sure you did not miss this post earlier this week on the same topic featuring Nora Volkow of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesPolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentHouse of RepresentativesSenateState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 27, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For Jerry Conkle, life in America’s fastest-growing metropolitan area moves as slowly as the golf carts that meander through his palm-lined neighborhood at dusk. Most days, he wakes early, reads the newspaper, and then hops into his four-wheeled buggy for a 20-mile-per-hour ride to one of the 42 golf courses that surround his home.

“It’s like an adult Disney World,” Conkle, 77, said of The Villages, Florida, whose expansion has come with virtually no crime, traffic, pollution -- or children.

The mix has attracted flocks of senior citizens, making The Villages the world’s largest retirement community. Its population of 110,000 has more than quadrupled since 2000, U.S. Census Bureau data show. It rose 5.2 percent last year, on par with megacities like Lagos, Nigeria, and Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketPolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

4 Comments
Posted June 27, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sunny Sarajevo was in festive mood on June 28, 1914 for the visit of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand. But it was to be a dark day, and one that changed the world.

By 11 o'clock, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire would be dead, an assassination that plunged Europe into four years of horrific conflict that killed millions.

"There were flags everywhere, the whole city was covered with flags. As children, we had to stand in the front," one witness told Austrian radio in 1994 for the 80th anniversary.

Read it all. Also, I caught this NPR piece running errands this morning.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--Bosnia and Herzegovina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 27, 2014 at 7:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Over the past two weeks, the specter that has haunted Iraq since its founding 93 years ago appears to have become a reality: the de facto partition of the country into Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish cantons.

With jihadists continuing to entrench their positions across the north and west, and the national army seemingly incapable of mounting a challenge, Americans and even some Iraqis have begun to ask how much blood and treasure it is worth to patch the country back together.

It is a question that echoes not only in Syria — also effectively divided into mutually hostile statelets — but also across the entire Middle East, where centrifugal forces unleashed by the Arab uprisings of 2011 continue to erode political structures and borders that have prevailed since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire a century ago.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsIraq WarPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIranIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 27, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Grammar teachers may need to amend their lesson plans after the Vancouver school board approved Monday a policy change that welcomes a brand-new string of pronouns into Vancouver public schools: “xe, xem, and xyr.”

The pronouns are touted as alternatives to he/she, him/her, and his/hers, and come as last-minute amendments to the board’s new policy aimed at better accommodating transgender students in schools.

The vote came after a brief debate that sparked unrest among opponents of the policy who shouted “dictator” and “liar” at trustees, as security guards and police officers watched from their posts at council doors. But supporters waved pink and blue-coloured flags and drowned out the detractors with their cheers once the policy passed. Three previous public meetings were similarly rowdy.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationSexuality* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted June 27, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Meriam Yeya Ibrahim Ishag, the 26-year-old Christian woman whose death sentence for apostasy was revoked, has been released and was taken from Khartoum airport to a safe place while she waits for her travel documents to be sent through. This is according to Antonella Napoli, president of Italian s for Darfur, who posted a message on the association’s Facebook page.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPrison/Prison MinistryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan

1 Comments
Posted June 26, 2014 at 1:27 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The District of Columbia Council on Tuesday approved a "yoga tax" on gymnasiums and yoga classes that has angered fitness buffs in the U.S. capital.

The Democratic-controlled council voted 12-1 to give final approval to a $10.6 billion budget for 2015 that included a sales tax on gyms, yoga studios and other athletic businesses, a spokeswoman for Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said.

The budget also includes a substantial income tax cut that would be offset by expanding the existing 5.75 percent sales tax to such services as tanning salons, health clubs, car washes and bowling alleys. The move is expected to raise $5 million a year.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinanceTaxesPolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 26, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For Niebuhr, Christians have a stake in democratic societies because, given the realism that the Christian understanding of sin requires, Christians know "that a healthy society must seek to achieve the greatest possible equilibrium of power, the greatest possible centers of power, the greatest possible social checks of the administration of power, and the greatest possible inner moral check on human ambition, as well as the most effective use of forms of power in which consent and coercion are compounded." Democracies at their best are, therefore, able to achieve unity of purpose within the conditions of freedom and to maintain freedom within the framework of order.

It is particularly important to note that for Niebuhr democracy is a system of government that does not require the governed to be virtuous. Rather, it is a form of social organization that limits self-interested men from pursuing their interests in a manner that does not destroy community. Of course, a too-consistent pessimism concerning our ability to transcend our interests can lead to absolutist political theories. So Niebuhr is not suggesting that democracies can survive without some sense of justice. Rather he is reminding us that, as he puts it in what is probably his most famous epigram, "man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary."

The task of social Christianity, for Niebuhr, is not to advocate particular solutions for economic or social ills, but to produce people of modesty about what can be accomplished given our sinful condition. It is equally important that same modesty be applied to the church, which is no less under the power of sin. In fact, from Niebuhr's point of view, the sins of the church may even be more destructive given the temptation to identify religious politics with the politics of God.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologySeminary / Theological Education

0 Comments
Posted June 26, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A blueprint to lift one million people out of low pay by 2020 is published...[this week], and could adopted by Labour if it wins power at next year’s general election.

A commission chaired by Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, calls on the Government to champion the gradual introduction of a living wage higher than the national minimum wage in sectors that could afford it. But it rejects the idea of imposing a higher wages floor by law.

The living wage is currently £8.80 an hour in London and £7.65 an hour outside the capital. The minimum wage is £6.31 an hour.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of York John Sentamu* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

4 Comments
Posted June 25, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The archbishop opined that prosecuting politicians and supporters involved in electoral crimes would help address incidence of electoral violence in the country, and engender political stability.

He therefore called on the electoral umpire, INEC, the media and civil society organizations to support the electoral process by mounting anti-violence campaigns across the country.

On the 2015 general election, he called on Nigerians to adhere strictly to the rules governing conduct of elections, bearing in mind that 2015 is the year the USA had predicted Nigeria would break up.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted June 25, 2014 at 6:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A court convicted an Egyptian Christian to six years imprisonment for blasphemy and contempt of religion on Tuesday.

The Luxor court issued its verdict against Kerolos Ghattas, 30, after his arrest earlier this month for posting pictures deemed insulting to Islam on his Facebook page.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

0 Comments
Posted June 25, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For those who argue that marijuana is no more dangerous than tobacco and alcohol, [Nora] Volkow has two main answers: We don’t entirely know , and, simultaneously, that is precisely the point .

“Look at the evidence,” Volkow said in an interview on the National Institutes of Health campus, pointing to the harms already inflicted by tobacco and alcohol. “It’s not subtle — it’s huge. Legal drugs are the main problem that we have in our country as it relates to morbidity and mortality. By far. Many more people die of tobacco than all of the drugs together. Many more people die of alcohol than all of the illicit drugs together.

“And it’s not because they are more dangerous or addictive. Not at all — they are less dangerous. It’s because they are legal. . . . The legalization process generates a much greater exposure of people and hence of negative consequences that will emerge. And that’s why I always say, ‘Can we as a country afford to have a third legal drug? Can we?’ We know the costs already on health care, we know the costs on accidents, on lost productivity. I let the numbers speak for themselves.”

Read it all from Ruth Marcus in the Washington Post.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingTaxesThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted June 25, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Suspected Boko Haram militants have abducted more than 60 women and girls, some as young as three, in the latest kidnappings in northeast Nigeria and over two months since more than 200 schoolgirls were seized.

Analysts said the kidnapping, which happened during a raid on Kummabza village in the Damboa district of Borno state, could be an attempt by the Islamist group to refocus attention on its demands for the release of militant fighters.

Boko Haram has indicated that it would be willing to release the 219 schoolgirls that it has held hostage since April 14 in exchange for the freedom of its brothers in arms currently held in Nigerian jails.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireTeens / YouthViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 25, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Sudanese woman freed from death row on Monday has been arrested with her family at Khartoum airport, sources have told the BBC.

Meriam Ibrahim was sentenced to hang in May for renouncing Islam, sparking widespread outrage at home and abroad.

About 40 security agents detained Mrs Ibrahim - along with her husband Daniel Wani and two sons - at the airport, the sources said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureWomen* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan

2 Comments
Posted June 24, 2014 at 8:23 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The leader of a Nigerian ministry supported by Christian Aid recently shared this update on their work. Along with providing necessities for refugees, they share the Gospel with Islamic militants who are curious about Christ.

“We were able to give out 45 of ‘The Treasure’ audio Bibles to Muslims who were ready to hear. Some of them assured us we shall hear from them when we come back,” the leader shares in his report. “Pray for one new convert who accepted Christ after listening to the Gospel of John.

“This is a great tool for reaching Muslims.”

However, these indigenous missionaries are not immune to danger. The ministry leader says Boko Haram attacks continue daily.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

0 Comments
Posted June 24, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A second priest has defied the Church of England's official line to marry his same sex partner. On Saturday, the Rev Andrew Cain, vicar of St James church in West Hampstead, London, posted on Facebook pictures of his wedding to Stephen Foreshew.

The wedding took place as the first priest to marry his partner, Canon Jeremy Pemberton, confirmed that he had been stripped of the permission to work as a priest in the diocese of Southwell and Nottingham.

Church authorities face difficulties if they try to prevent clergy from contracting perfectly legal marriages.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted June 24, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Methodist church panel weighing whether to reinstate Frank Schaefer, the Pennsylvania pastor who lost his credentials after officiating his gay son's wedding, did not announce a decision Saturday, according to Schaefer's counsel.

The panel, composed of nine lay members and clergy from the church's northeast jurisdiction, heard Schaefer's appeal Friday in Baltimore and had been expected to announce its decision Saturday.

No reason was given for the delay. It is not known when the decision will come, but the panel has 28 days to issue a ruling.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted June 23, 2014 at 11:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two trends made the PCUSA shift so quickly.

First, as the AP reports, the PCUSA has lost thousands of members and hundreds of churches in recent years. Some of this decline is purely demographic. Presbyterians, like most Mainline Protestants, are aging (dying) and have low rates of fertility, intramarriage, and adult retention. But a significant number of churches have left the denomination over its liberal stances. Some are large, like the Reverend Dr. John Ortberg's Menlo Park Presbyterian Church. Many others are small.

As traditionalists leave the PCUSA for more conservative denominations like the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) and A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO), the theology and politics of those who remain in the PCUSA will move to the left. Think about how the realignment of Dixiecrat politicians and other conservative Democrats to the Republican Party moved the Democrats' median ideology to the left. It's the same principle at work.

I also want to offer an additional explanation that no one else is talking about, one that helps explain why the Mainline churches are liberal and becoming more so as they decline. Clergy are significantly more polarized than laypeople. (This 2008 survey of Mainline Protestant clergy is worth studying.) We now know that a bare majority of Americans supports same sex marriage (53%). Surveys indicate that 62% of Mainline Protestants approve of same sex marriage. Mainliners, who comprise only 14% of the population, are more liberal than Americans as a whole on this issue.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & PartnershipsSociology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted June 22, 2014 at 12:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The government and media alliance advancing the transgender cause has gone into overdrive in recent weeks. On May 30, a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services review board ruled that Medicare can pay for the "reassignment" surgery sought by the transgendered—those who say that they don't identify with their biological sex. Earlier last month Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that he was "open" to lifting a ban on transgender individuals serving in the military. Time magazine, seeing the trend, ran a cover story for its June 9 issue called "The Transgender Tipping Point: America's next civil rights frontier."

Yet policy makers and the media are doing no favors either to the public or the transgendered by treating their confusions as a right in need of defending rather than as a mental disorder that deserves understanding, treatment and prevention. This intensely felt sense of being transgendered constitutes a mental disorder in two respects. The first is that the idea of sex misalignment is simply mistaken—it does not correspond with physical reality. The second is that it can lead to grim psychological outcomes.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMediaPsychologySexuality* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted June 22, 2014 at 12:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a country of crippling poverty, ethnic fault lines and decades of war, Islamic piety offers many Afghans a rare thread of national solidarity. To reject Islam is seen as tantamount to treason.

“Religious identity is the only thing that Afghans can claim,” said Daud Moradian, a professor at the American University in Afghanistan. “They do not have a national identity, they do not have an economic identity, and there is no middle or working class here.”

That leaves Josef almost nowhere to turn for protection. The police would be no help. Converts report being beaten and sexually abused while in custody. His family in Afghanistan is also a dead end: His uncles are hunting for him now, too.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistan* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

0 Comments
Posted June 22, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We call upon all Kenyans;

To cease from spreading rumours, incitement and inflammatory and derogatory remarks of any kind that may spiral to ethnic violence due to the volatile atmosphere . The name calling, and ethnic profiling on social media and other public places should stop.
To obey the the rule of law, respect and uphold the Constitution of Kenya and all its instituions.
To exercise patriotism and seek to uphold national unity for the sake of development and the well-being of all. With the political, social, economic, religious and any other differences amongst us, we should acknowledge that we are united by one country- Kenya.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Kenya* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaKenya* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesMethodistPresbyterianRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 21, 2014 at 3:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many find it hard to understand why China is acting so aggressively in regard to its territorial claims in the East and South China Seas. What do leaders in Beijing hope to achieve by alienating its neighbors and undermining regional stability?

Their reasoning is actually simple enough. China wants to wield much more power and influence in Asia than it has for the past few centuries. And for China to have more power, the United States must have less.

They know that America’s position in Asia is built on its network of alliances and partnerships with many of China’s neighbors, including Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam. And they believe that weakening these relationships is the easiest way to weaken US regional power.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaChina

0 Comments
Posted June 21, 2014 at 9:36 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a darkened living room in the Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City, a gray-haired militia commander picked up his phone Friday to read a text message from one of his colleagues on the battlefield.

“Captured six ISIS members in an ambush,” it said, referring to militants from Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, an al-Qaeda splinter group whose advance over the past 10 days has nearly brought the Iraqi state to its knees. “At dawn I killed two, four I gave to the army.”

The message was an example of what members of Iraq’s Shiite militias describe as growing cooperation with the country’s army. As Iraq spirals into chaos, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is now relying on the militias, which once carried out hundreds of attacks on U.S. soldiers, to help him cling to power.

The lines between Shiite militias and the Iraqi armed forces have been increasingly blurred since the withdrawal of U.S. troops in 2011.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraqIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted June 21, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The top legislative body of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted by large margins Thursday to recognize same-sex marriage as Christian in the church constitution, adding language that marriage can be the union of "two people," not just "a man and a woman."

The amendment approved by the Presbyterian General Assembly requires approval from a majority of the 172 regional presbyteries, which will vote on the change over the next year. But in a separate policy change that takes effect at the end of this week's meeting, delegates voted to allow ministers to preside at gay weddings in states where the unions are legal and local congregational leaders approve. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriage.

The votes, during a national meeting in Detroit, were a sweeping victory for Presbyterian gay-rights advocates. The denomination in 2011 eliminated barriers to ordaining clergy with same-sex partners, but ministers were still barred from celebrating gay marriages and risked church penalties for doing so. Alex McNeill, executive director of More Light Presbyterians, a gay advocacy group, said the decisions Thursday were "an answer to many prayers."

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 20, 2014 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

He observed that the country is facing a tripartite war from the Islamic religious sect known as Boko Haram, Fulani Herdsmen and unknown gun men adding, " hundreds of innocent Nigerians have lost their lives to these elements in the last few years. Nigeria is now facing full blown war."

While reading out major headlines from a national Newspapers starting from February 17, [Gabriel] Akinbiyi he observed, "From the headlines you will find out that the country has consistently come under the attack of terrorists. Nigeria is at full blown war"

He observed that "Boko Haram has become a sophisticated and well established international organization. Even if the inventors themselves should be given Nigeria to govern today they would not be able to do better that what obtains now in terms of curbing them.

He however added that only God can deliver Nigeria from their hands. "for God do it for us as a nation, we must return to Him as a nation in repentance and faith, call upon him in earnest prayers and He will do it." He said.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 20, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The head of the Anglican Church in Southeast Asia has questioned Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s silence on the seized-Bibles issue and said it appeared to be a political strategy.

“I am inclined to think that he is conveying that the whole charade is not worthy of his comment. To do otherwise is to dignify what is plainly wicked,” Archbishop Datuk Bolly Lapok said today.

Lapok, who is also chairman of the Association of Churches in Sarawak, also questioned the prime minister's refusal to condemn the action of the extreme minority “that is poisoning inter-religious tolerance”.

“The prime minister’s inaction may be politically smart. But is it morally right?” he said.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Anglican Church in South East Asia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaMalaysia* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 20, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On June 1, my friend Pastor Wang Yi of the Early Rain Reformed Church in Chengdu was arrested while distributing anti-forced-abortion leaflets. The stated grounds for detaining him were “illegal advertising.” He was let go after half an hour. Three days later, Mr. Wang was detained again. This time the arresting officers produced no identification and gave no reason for taking him in. After 12 hours of interrogation, he was finally released at midnight.

When I posted an account of the harassment on Weibo, a microblogging platform, several people protested against the injustice — and many wrote in support of the government’s actions. One netizen commented, “The cops have done a beautiful job!”

I wondered how many of the hostile comments were sincere and how many were made for money: The government employs a cyberpolice force of propagandists known as the 50-Cent Party. But given other recent events, and China’s agonizing history with organized religion, I believe that a good number of the pro-government comments reflected genuine opinion.

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

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Posted June 20, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Rev. Enoch Mark heard American drones were flying into Nigeria to find his two kidnapped daughters—among the 223 schoolgirls held hostage by Boko Haram—he thought his prayers for a speedy rescue might be answered. Two months later, he has lost faith.

As U.S. officials stitch together preliminary intelligence gleaned from the skies, the insurgency on the ground is rapidly seizing territory and eliminating Christians and Muslims who oppose it.

On Sunday, Boko Haram burned down a village called Kwaraglum near Chibok, the town where girls were abducted from their boarding school in April, said a local vigilante stationed nearby. That same day, they also struck another nearby town, Ndagu, said Simon Jasini, whose older brother was among 10 people killed in the raid. The group is suspected of a bombing on Tuesday that killed 14 people watching the World Cup in the city of Damaturu, said a resident who accompanied state officials to the hospital.

Back in Chibok, Rev. Mark and what family he has left head up a mountain each night so they can sleep hidden behind rocks.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 19, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The former Grand Mufti of Egypt, Dr Ali Gomaa, and the Anglican Bishop of Egypt, Dr Mouneer Hanna Anis, were invited to give the keynote addresses at the inauguration of the Studies of Inter-Religious Relations in Plural Societies Programme (SRP) at the Nanyang Technological University, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore from 5-11 June 2014. During their visit to Singapore, they shared their Egyptian experience in "working together as a way of promoting national unity in Egypt."

The President of Singapore, Dr Tony Tan, received Dr Ali and Bishop Mouneer and was keen to hear about the situation in Egypt, especially as their visit coincided with the installation of the new President of Egypt, el-Sisi. He assured both of them that Singapore will stand with Egypt at this very important time. The Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, also received them and wrote in his Facebook page, "I could see that Sheikh Dr Ali Gomaa and Archbishop Dr Mouneer are good friends, working closely together to promote peace and harmony between Muslims and Christians there."

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 19, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Obama administration is signaling that it wants a new government in Iraq without Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, convinced the Shiite leader is unable to reconcile with the nation's Sunni minority and stabilize a volatile political landscape.

The U.S. administration is indicating it wants Iraq's political parties to form a new government without Mr. Maliki as he tries to assemble a ruling coalition following elections this past April, U.S. officials say.

Such a new government, U.S., officials say, would include the country's Sunni and Kurdish communities and could help to stem Sunni support for the al Qaeda offshoot, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, that has seized control of Iraqi cities over the past two weeks. That, the officials argue, would help to unify the country and reverse its slide into sectarian division.

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

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Posted June 19, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

hen President Uhuru Kenyatta blamed "local political networks" on Tuesday for extremist attacks on several coastal villages, Kenyans were left wondering whom to believe: their president or the Somali terrorist group that claimed responsibility.

The Shabab, an Al Qaeda affiliate, claimed that it carried out the attacks, which killed dozens of people Sunday and Monday in Mpeketoni town and several villages near the tourist resort of Lamu.

The attacks — and the political response to them — threatened to deepen ethnic tension in a country still recovering from ethnic violence that followed the 2007 disputed election.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaKenya* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 18, 2014 at 5:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Obama is considering a targeted, highly selective campaign of airstrikes against Sunni militants in Iraq similar to counterterrorism operations in Yemen, rather than the widespread bombardment of an air war, a senior administration official said on Tuesday.

Such a campaign, most likely using drones, could last for a prolonged period, the official said. But it is not likely to begin for days or longer, and would hinge on the United States’ gathering adequate intelligence about the location of the militants, who are intermingled with the civilian population in Mosul, Tikrit and other cities north of Baghdad.

Even if the president were to order strikes, they would be far more limited in scope than the air campaign conducted during the Iraq war, this official said, because of the relatively small number of militants involved, the degree to which they are dispersed throughout militant-controlled parts of Iraq and fears that using bigger bombs would kill Sunni civilians.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 18, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At least 12 women were abducted during the latest attack by suspected Islamists on Kenya's coast, residents have told the BBC.

Fifteen people were killed in the overnight raid on two villages near the town of Mpeketoni, local police say.

Somalia's al-Shabab group said it had carried out the attack but the government is still blaming bandits.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaKenya* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 17, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"The Church, though, is a suffering church in this century. It is growing and in growing it suffers. It carries a cross. That is as true today as ever, and the last few years have demonstrated the truth and cost of that reality. A couple of weeks ago, Caroline and I were in Lahore in Pakistan. Just incidentally. . . just remember in your prayers our diplomatic service around the world. We’ve seen a lot of them in the last year; they are unbelievably good and they get absolutely no credit, anywhere, for the extraordinary work they do [applause]. . . But in Lahore two weeks ago we met some of the clergy and the Bishop of Peshawar who were involved in the bomb explosion last September at All Saints Church, an Anglican church, in which over 200 people were killed. And you ask them: “How are things recovering? Are people still going to church?” “Oh,” they said. “The congregation has tripled.” It is a suffering church and a church of courage.

"In the routine list of dioceses around the world that we pray for, last week was Damaturu, which almost none of you probably would have heard of, in north-east Nigeria. I know the bishop there; that the people of that diocese have been scattered to the four winds by Boko Haram. Its bishop is in hiding and danger is all around for those few Christians who remain. The girls of Chibok kidnapped and still held were from a part of that region, which is a Christian part. The global Church is a profoundly suffering church.

"It is cross-shaped. It carries a cross of suffering, but also it carries a cross for the salvation of the world. That has always been a scandal since the first few centuries. Early doubters, attackers of the Christian Church said: “How can you worship someone who died on a cross?” But it is a scandal of which we should be proud. We boast in the cross of Christ.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted June 17, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In east London, Tower Hamlets has become an enclave of corruption, intimidation and the village politics of Bangladesh. Its mayor, Lutfur Rahman, was thrown out of the Labour party after reported links to the Islamic Forum of Europe, which aims to turn Britain and Europe into an Islamic state.

At last month’s local elections, claims of corruption and intimidation meant that the Tower Hamlets results were only announced five days after the polls closed. An adviser to the mayor threatened that the “civil war” of the borough’s politics would “spill out onto the streets” if Rahman’s election wasn’t accepted. Government inspectors, Scotland Yard and the Electoral Commission are now investigating Tower Hamlets.

But Islamic extremism and political chicanery in the borough have been ignored for years. There have been attacks on gay people, women who are deemed immodestly dressed and businesses selling alcohol. Last week, the East End Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick warned of a “Trojan Horse”-style Islamist plot to infiltrate Tower Hamlets politics.

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

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Posted June 16, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

My Lords, I want to take the opportunity of this debate to raise some questions about the balance of power between London and the regions in our country today. The gracious Speech emphasised the new financial powers to be implemented for the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales. While this is welcome, it highlights even more acutely the need for urgent action to address the very different environment for local government in England, in spite of what the Minister briefly said to us about resourcing local economic partnerships.

It is surely now vital that more power should be devolved from the overly centralist and siloed Whitehall closer to communities that have a stake in the success of places and to where a real link between politicians and positive action can be formed, as the report of the noble Lord, Lord Heseltine, recommended. My conversations in the east Midlands point to a clear consensus that the balance of power between local and central government is not right. Councils are now placed in the impossible position of taking responsibility for abolishing front-line services that are both wanted and needed by local communities. One of the clear messages of the recent elections is surely that a large part of the population has begun to lose confidence in our political processes and that trust has dangerously eroded between the electorate and its representatives.

Read it all (scroll down to 5 jun 2014 11:52 a.m.)

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

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Posted June 16, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Like a trailer for a summer blockbuster, the video begins with loud music and the words “Coming Soon.”

But instead of superheroes or comedians on screen, there are images of a burning American flag and a jetliner hitting the World Trade Center, and the words: “Join the Caravan of Jihad and Martyrdom.”

As the music fades away, the blurred face of a man appears. He makes a direct appeal to Americans to join the fight.

The video ends with footage of a United States passport being burned. Men are heard laughing and shouting an Arabic phrase about God’s greatness.

Although the recruitment video has circulated among extremist groups for some days, intelligence analysts now believe the man with the blurred face is a 22-year-old from Florida who blew himself up last month in a suicide attack on Syrian government forces that killed 37, according to senior American government officials....

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingMovies & TelevisionReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaAmerica/U.S.A.Middle East

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Posted June 14, 2014 at 7:36 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So absolute was the rout of Iraq’s army in Mosul that soldiers stripped off their uniforms in the street and fled. The bodies of those left behind, some mutilated, were strewn amid burned-out troop carriers. Roughly 1,500 jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), outnumbered by more than 15 to one, reportedly seized six Black Hawk helicopters as well as untold plunder from the vaults of Mosul’s banks. They released thousands of prisoners from Mosul’s jails. As the black flag of jihad rose above government buildings, as many as half a million refugees sought sanctuary.

Two and a half years ago, as the last American troops left, President Barack Obama described Iraq as “sovereign, stable and self-reliant”. Today jihadists are tearing the country apart. Mosul is its second city. On June 10th the prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, called for a state of emergency and pleaded for outside help. The next day, in league with rebellious Iraqi Sunnis, ISIS took Tikrit, the home of Saddam Hussein, just two and a half hours’ drive north of Baghdad.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 14, 2014 at 2:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bats are being treated as though they are more important than worshippers, a Conservative peer has said, as he urged a fightback against churches being turned into “historic bat barns”.

Lord Cormack, a committed Christian, told the House of Lords that bats are a causing a "menace" to historic places of worship.

The former MP for South Staffordshire and Vice President of the National Churches Trust said the mammals were "a particular menace to many old churches" pointing to cases where "remarkable 15th-century brasses" were being corroded by bat droppings.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureRural/Town Life* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* General InterestAnimals* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted June 13, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The summit was opened by the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, and the Hollywood star Angelina Jolie. It ran from Tuesday to Friday, and brought together hundreds of politicians, activists, and survivors to discuss how to tackle the scourge and stigma of sexual violence.

Speaking at the opening to the summit, Ms Jolie, a special envoy to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said that she wanted to dedicate the summit to one rape victim she had met in Bosnia. "She felt that having had no justice for her particular crime . . . and having seen the actual man who raped her on the streets free, she really felt abandoned by the world. This day is for her."

Mr Hague announced a further £6 million in government funding for programmes to combat sexual violence, and said that he hoped other nations would pledge more money.

"We began campaigning two years ago, because we believe the time has come to end the use of rape in war, once and for all," he said.

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

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Posted June 13, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mosul's fall matters for what it reveals about a terrorism whose threat Mr. Obama claims he has minimized. For starters, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) isn't a bunch of bug-eyed "Mad Max" guys running around firing Kalashnikovs. ISIS is now a trained and organized army.

The seizures of Mosul and Tikrit this week revealed high-level operational skills. ISIS is using vehicles and equipment seized from Iraqi military bases. Normally an army on the move would slow down to establish protective garrisons in towns it takes, but ISIS is doing the opposite, by replenishing itself with fighters from liberated prisons.

An astonishing read about this group is on the website of the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War. It is an analysis of a 400-page report, "al-Naba," published by ISIS in March. This is literally a terrorist organization's annual report for 2013. It even includes "metrics," detailed graphs of its operations in Iraq as well as in Syria.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq

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Posted June 12, 2014 at 6:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham has set out a list of rules for residents of Mosul as it seeks to impose its Islamist rules on Iraq's second city.

Refering to the area by its ancient name, Nineveh, the group says it has a clear set of instructions for the remaining occupants of the city and surrounding area.

Firstly it tells "anyone who is asking," who its members are and what it is about: "We are soldiers of Islam and we've taken on our responsibility to bring back glory of the Islamic Caliphate."

All Muslims in the city have bee instructed to attend mosque for the five daily prayers.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted June 12, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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