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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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ove, therefore, becomes the hallmark of nonviolent resistance requiring that the resister not only refuse to shoot his opponent but also refuse to hate him. Nonviolent resistance is meant to bring an end to hate by being the very embodiment of agape. King seemed never to tire of an appeal to Anders Nygren's distinction between eros, phila and agape to make the point that the love that shapes nonviolent resistance is one that is disciplined by the refusal to distinguish between worthy and unworthy people. Rather agape begins by loving others for their own sake, which requires that we "have love for the enemy-neighbor from whom you can expect no good in return, but only hostility and persecution."
Such a love means that nonviolent resistance seeks not to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win a friend. The protests that may take the form of boycotts and other non-cooperative modes of behaviour are not ends in themselves, but rather attempts to awaken in the opponent a sense of shame and repentance. The end of nonviolent resistance is redemption and reconciliation with those who have been the oppressor. Love overwhelms hate, making possible the creation of a beloved community that would otherwise be impossible.
Accordingly, nonviolent resistance is not directed against people but against forces of evil. Those who happen to be doing evil are as victimized by the evil they do as those who are the object of their oppression. From the perspective of nonviolence King argued that the enemy is not the white people of Montgomery, but injustice itself. The object of the boycott of the buses was not to defeat white people, but to defeat the injustice that mars their lives.
Read it all from ABC Australia's Religion and Ethics site.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Christology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Queen accompanied her nephew, David Armstrong-Jones, to church near her Sandringham Estate...[this past weekend], just days after his father, Lord Snowdon, died.
Braving wet and cold conditions, the royal party attended the morning service at St Mary the Virgin church in the village of Flitcham, Norfolk.
Read it all from the Telegraph and don't miss the pictures.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK
We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness"--then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.
There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all."
Read it all.
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As [Ralph] Abernathy tells it–and I believe he is right–he and King were first of all Christians, then Southerners, and then blacks living under an oppressive segregationist regime. King of course came from the black bourgeoisie of Atlanta in which his father, “Daddy King,” had succeeded in establishing himself as a king. Abernathy came from much more modest circumstances, but he was proud of his heritage and, as he writes, wanted nothing more than that whites would address his father as Mr. Abernathy. He and Martin loved the South, and envisioned its coming into its own once the sin of segregation had been expunged.
“Years later,” Abernathy writes that, “after the civil rights movement had peaked and I had taken over [after Martin’s death] as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference,” he met with Governor George Wallace. “Governor Wallace, by then restricted to a wheel chair after having been paralyzed by a would-be assassin’s bullet, shook hands with me and welcomed me to the State of Alabama. I smiled, realizing that he had forgotten all about Montgomery and Birmingham, and particularly Selma. ‘This is not my first visit,’ I said. ‘I was born in Alabama–in Marengo County.’ ‘Good,’ said Governor Wallace, ‘then welcome back.’ I really believe he meant it. In his later years he had become one of the greatest friends the blacks had ever had in Montgomery. Where once he had stood in the doorway and barred federal marshals from entering, he now made certain that our people were first in line for jobs, new schools, and other benefits of state government.” Abernathy concludes, “It was a time for reconciliations.”
Read it all (my emphasis).
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You can find the full text here.
I find it always is really worth the time to read and ponder it all on this day--KSH.
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Almighty God, who by the hand of Moses thy servant didst lead thy people out of slavery, and didst make them free at last: Grant that thy Church, following the example of thy prophet Martin Luther King, may resist oppression in the name of thy love, and may strive to secure for all thy children the blessed liberty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
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In terms of religion, this inauguration exhibits the confluence of two major currents of indigenous American spirituality.
One stream is represented by Norman Vincent Peale’s longtime bestseller “The Power of Positive Thinking” (1952). The famous Manhattan pastor is Trump’s tenuous connection to Christianity, having heard the preacher frequently in his youth. For Peale and his protege, the late Robert Schuller of Crystal Cathedral fame, the gospel of Christ’s death for human sin and resurrection for justification and everlasting life was transformed into a “feel-good” therapy. Self-esteem was the true salvation.
Another stream is represented by the most famous TV preachers, especially those associated with the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN). Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn, T. D. Jakes, Joel Osteen and Paula White are the stars of this movement, known as Word of Faith.
Read it all from Michael Horton in the Washington Post.
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
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The uncertainty and turmoil caused by Brexit could prove worthwhile if it acts as a catalyst in the redistribution of power and wealth to the North, a leading figure in the church has claimed.
According to the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, last year’s vote presents politicians with a fresh opportunity to boost prosperity in the region – and to avoid deepening division across the country. The intervention from the senior clergyman comes amid growing concerns about the impact of Brexit on the North’s economy, following reports that the region is twice as dependant on EU trade as other parts of the UK.
Read it all.
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What are the principles for which America fights? This is a trick question. Countries can pursue principles to the point of sparking conflict. They can invoke principles to raise morale. They can follow principles in waging war. But few principles can be turned into a casus belli without driving a country headlong into fanaticism.
It is fanaticism, America’s fanaticism, that the Pulitzer Prize–winning University of Pennsylvania historian Walter McDougall blames when he considers the strategic advantages the United States has squandered since Osama bin Laden led an attack on the World Trade Center in 2001. George W. Bush, whom Americans had elected to the White House a year before the attacks, really did say in their aftermath, “Our responsibility to history is already clear: to answer these attacks and rid the world of evil.” His administration named its original Afghan invasion plan Operation Infinite Justice. And McDougall has a particularly bleak assessment of the Iraq invasion that followed the attack on Afghanistan. “To speak of draining the swamps of Islamo-fascism through democratization of the whole Muslim crescent,” he writes, “was mad.”
If so, it was a madness that has been a signature of American foreign policy at least since the end of the Cold War.
Read it all.
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Washington went on to express his gratitude for the support of "my countrymen" and the "army in general." This reference to his soldiers ignited feelings so intense, he had to grip the speech with both hands to keep it steady. He continued: "I consider it an indispensable duty to close this last solemn act of my official life by commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God and those who have the superintendence of them [Congress] to his holy keeping."
For a long moment, Washington could not say another word. Tears streamed down his cheeks. The words touched a vein of religious faith in his inmost soul, born of battlefield experiences that had convinced him of the existence of a caring God who had protected him and his country again and again during the war. Without this faith he might never have been able to endure the frustrations and rage he had experienced in the previous eight months.
Washington then drew from his coat a parchment copy of his appointment as commander in chief. "Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theater of action and bidding farewell to this august body under whom I have long acted, I here offer my commission and take leave of all the employments of public life." Stepping forward, he handed the document to Mifflin.
This was -- is -- the most important moment in American history.
The man who could have dispersed this feckless Congress and obtained for himself and his soldiers rewards worthy of their courage was renouncing absolute power. By this visible, incontrovertible act, Washington did more to affirm America's government of the people than a thousand declarations by legislatures and treatises by philosophers.
Thomas Jefferson, author of the greatest of these declarations, witnessed this drama as a delegate from Virginia. Intuitively, he understood its historic dimension. "The moderation. . . . of a single character," he later wrote, "probably prevented this revolution from being closed, as most others have been, by a subversion of that liberty it was intended to establish."
Read it all.
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The scale of religious persecution around the world is not widely appreciated. Nor is it limited to Christians in the troubled regions of the Middle East. A recent report suggests that attacks are increasing on Yazidis, Jews, Ahmadis, Baha’is and many other minority faiths. And in some countries even more insidious forms of extremism have recently surfaced, which aim to eliminate all types of religious diversity.
We are also struggling to capture the immensity of the ripple effect of such persecution. According to the United Nations, 5.8 million MORE people abandoned their homes in 2015 than the year before, bringing the annual total to a staggering 65.3 million. That is almost equivalent to the entire population of the United Kingdom.
And the suffering doesn’t end when they arrive seeking refuge in a foreign land. We are now seeing the rise of many populist groups across the world that are increasingly aggressive towards those who adhere to a minority faith.
Read it all.
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Congo Bishops urge settlement of political crisis before Christmas https://t.co/d3iib4OCzT— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) December 22, 2016
Mediators urged Congo’s president and opposition parties to reach an agreement before Christmas on a peaceful settlement to the country’s political crisis, saying dozens already have been killed this week amid protests over the president’s stay in power.
“Enough is enough,” Msgr. Marcel Utembi, one of the Catholic Church mediators, said Wednesday. “A solution must be found as soon as possible by all political actors, but in particular by the government in order to reassure the Congolese people.”
He also conveyed a message from Pope Francis following their meeting this week: “I am concerned by what is happening in your country, which I wish to visit at the opportune moment. I pray for the Congolese people, who need peace so much now.”
Read it all from the WSJ.
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Rashad Ali is a British Sunni Muslim who devotes most of his life to combating extremism and urging young co-religionists to reject the siren voices of jihadism. At the risk of making himself unpopular with some members of his community, he actively assists the government’s efforts to counter hard-line Islamism. He works mostly in his own country but also follows the Muslim scene in many other places.
Like many others working in his field, he is convinced that recent events in Syria have made his life much, much harder. Whether in Britain or in Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia or Morocco (all countries he has visited recently), he finds that ordinary Sunnis are appalled and angry over the suffering of civilians in east Aleppo before and during the collapse of the rebel stronghold.
The news has made them furious with Russia, which claims inter alia to be deploying its fighter-bombers in support of local Christians; angry with Iran and the Shia Muslim militias that it sponsors in Syria; and disappointed with Western countries for doing nothing to restrain the Russo-Iranian coalition. A common grievance, says Mr Ali, a fellow of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, is that Western consciences are moved by the plight of ethnic and religious minorities, such as the Kurds or Yazidis or small Christian sects, but indifferent to ordinary Sunni Arabs.
Read it all.
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A cross-party group of peers has been set up to come up with ways to reduce the size of the House of Lords.
Earlier this month peers voted to reduce the size of the Upper House, which currently has 809 members.
There have been calls to make it no bigger than the Commons, which is set to be cut to 600 MPs.
Read it all.
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“The church is in the [St Marks] cathedral complex signaling the vivid symbolism of the explosion,” says Ishak Ibrahim, a religious freedoms researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. “It aims at terrorizing the heart of Coptic Orthodoxy in Egypt”.
The terrorist group vowed further attacks and declared ‘a war against polytheism’ referring to the Christians’ belief in the trinity pejoratively in a statement.
This particular attack fits in with the pattern of ISIS’s notorious aim to shock and awe, hitting a minority religion and at women. It also shows the difficult position Coptic Christians find themselves in Egypt today, as the largest religious minority in the Middle East at around 10 million people. On the one hand an easy target for a callous terror group. But on the other, living as a second class group in their own country, under a different kind of threat from the authorities.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary Middle East Egypt * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Coptic Church Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
O Tempore, O Mores. George Carey, ex-Archbishop of Canterbury, has been evicted by King’s College London from its "wall of fame" on The Strand (a public gallery of illustrious people associated with the university).
Meanwhile, dozens of other alumni continue to gaze imperiously from an otherwise grey concrete facade. Was Carey too male, pale and stale? Perhaps not, as Desmond Tutu also lost his pane. Yet we smell a rat.
Back in 2010, at the height of the gay marriage debate, LGBT student campaigners demanded the removal of Lord Carey for opposing this policy. The university, however, stood firm, a spokesman explaining that "Lord Carey’s views are his own and offered as part of an open debate".
Read it all from the THE blog.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Education History Psychology Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
A Holy See diplomat has said that Christians face increasing discrimination, even in countries where there is not obvious persecution.
Mgr Janusz Urbanczyk, the Holy See’s permanent representative to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), was speaking last week at a conference in Vienna on combating intolerance and discrimination against Christians across the OSCE region. The region includes 57 countries in Europe, Central Asia and North America.
Mgr Urbanczyk said that even though the OSCE region does not see “blatant and violent persecution” of Christians as in some parts of the world, “manifestations of intolerance, hate crimes and episodes of violence or vandalism against religious places or objects continue to increase.”
In addition, he said, “offending, insulting or attacking Christians because of their beliefs and their values, including in the media and in public debate, based on a distorted and misinterpreted concept of freedom of expression, often goes uncontested.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Law & Legal Issues Psychology Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam Secularism * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The world’s largest Islamic nation is Indonesia, where Muslims represent a large majority of a population of some 250 million. Christians make up about 10 percent of that number, and relations between the two faiths have on occasion been rocky. Matters reached their worst in the late 1990s, a time of economic crisis and the collapse of the long-standing military dictatorship. During the chaos, Christian minorities in regions like Sulawesi were subjected to ethnic cleansing and Chinese Christians in major cities were targeted for violence and mass rape.
In large part, these crimes resulted from economic grievances—Chinese merchants were targeted as scapegoats. Active Islamist terror movements also appeared, with ties to al-Qaeda. For some years, Indonesia seemed to epitomize Muslim-Christian tensions at their most alarming.
Subsequently, conditions have improved enormously, or rather, reverted to traditional norms of tolerance. Although Christians must be very cautious about any attempts at evangelism, congregations worship openly, and Indonesia is now home to some spectacular megachurches.
The most encouraging manifestation of improved attitudes is Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who is commonly known by his Chinese nickname, Ahok. Since 2014, Ahok has been governor of the nation’s capital, Jakarta, a city with a population of 10 million, with some 30 million in the larger metropolitan region.
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One of CEEC’s tasks, prompted by “Guarding the Deposit”, is to consider together the various ways evangelicals will respond to this situation and how the wider church might face the reality of our diversity over human sexuality. “Guarding the Deposit” outlines three broad ways the church might act in 2017 and beyond.
Its hope is that the Church of England will maintain its current teaching and practice as the 2007 Synod committed us to do. Alternatively there may be a full acceptance of same-sex relationships as in a few other Anglican provinces. This would undoubtedly lead to major division within the CofE and the destruction of the Anglican Communion in its current form. There may therefore be an attempt – as in the Pilling Report – to offer some form of supposed via media with official permission for marking of same-sex relationships.
But, as “Guarding the Deposit” argues, this too would both represent a departure from apostolicity and lead to continuing conflict. It would therefore require some form of agreed visible differentiation and structural separation within the Church of England (and wider Communion).
Read it all.
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...something of my own stuckness was softened by the comments this week of the theatre director Alexander Zeldin. His new play is now on at the National Theatre in London and soon to be on in Birmingham. “In this political moment” he said “it is important to feel life strongly”. He is not offering policy proposals but he is contributing to the conversation by amplifying the stories of people, in the few weeks before Christmas, who are in temporary accommodation. In one scene, a son is washing his mother’s hair in the kitchen sink with washing up liquid – and drying it with a filthy tea towel – that on one review night made the audience gasp. The scenes like this are made much more powerful by the fact that there is no special theatre lighting in this production. As the audience, we are in the kitchen, not watching people in the kitchen. The fourth wall that normally separates actors and audience has been dissolved.
In Advent, much of the theological imagery turns on the themes of light brightening the darkness and the anticipation of God becoming a child, vulnerable to the vagaries of human politics and power. Taking our cue from the play, it might be that we need to change the lighting when illuminating the stories of people who are vulnerable and in need of support
Read it allfrom the BBC.
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The Government has shown that it does not care about the persecution of Christians overseas by refusing visas to three prominent Syrian Orthodox archbishops, the most senior Syrian Orthodox cleric in Britain, Archbishop Mor Athanasius Toma Dawod, has said.
Archbishop Dawod, who is the Metropolitan and Patriarchal Vicar of the UK, had invited three of his colleagues from Iraq and Syria to attend the consecration of their Church’s first cathedral in Britain last month.
The clerics were denied visas to enter the UK, however — actions which made a mockery of any claims by the authorities that they were concerned about the persecuted Church in the Middle East, Archbishop Dawod said on Tuesday.
The Archbishop of Mosul, Mor Nicodemus Daoud Sharaf, and the Archbishop of St Matthew’s, Mor Timothy Mosa Alshamany — both from Iraq — were denied visas on the grounds that they might claim asylum and because they did not have enough money, Archbishop Dawod said.
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In the month since the presidential election, many in the American Jews have been in mourning over Donald Trump’s victory. For all too many Jews and the organizations that purport to represent Jewish interests, partisan disappointment has led to a great deal of loose and highly irresponsible comparisons of our present situation to Weimar Germany and the rise of Hitler. It is in that context that a new report from the Community Security Service (CSS) about terrorist incidents and attacks on Jews and Israelis in the United States since 1967 is critical reading for those who wish to re-focus the Jewish community on real rather than imagined threats to its security.
The report, which was written by Yehudit Barsky, one of the top experts on radical hate groups in the country, provides a comprehensive analysis of the recent history of anti-Semitism in the United States. She paints a frightening picture of the rising toll of violence against Jews from two distinct sources: white supremacists and radical Islamists. But more than just seeking to scare Jews about these threats, the CSS has some conclusions and recommendations that should be taken to heart.
This serves as a reminder that for all of the talk about Islamophobia, both before and after the election, Jews and Jewish institutions remain the main targets of religious-based hate crimes in this country. This is a fact borne out by the FBI’s annual reports on hate crimes. The latest available report is from 2014 and that one, like every other issued since the outset of such compilations confirms this fact. In that year, 58.1 percent of all religious hate crimes in this country were directed at Jews. Only 16.3 percent were anti-Islamic.
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The UK today became the first country to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.
Theresa May said that the definition “means there will be one definition of anti-Semitism – in essence, language or behaviour that displays hatred towards Jews because they are Jews – and anyone guilty of that will be called out on it.”
The definition states: “Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
The term was agreed during IHRA Plenary meetings held in Bucharest from 23-26 May this year. IHRA Chair, Ambassador Mihnea Constantinescu, stated at the time that by adopting a working definition, “the IHRA is setting an example of responsible conduct for other international fora and hopes to inspire them also to take action on a legally binding working definition.”
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Egyptian President has declared three days of mourning starting yesterday after an Coptic cathedral was attacked in Cairo leaving 25 people dead and 49 others injured.
President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi called Pope Tawadros II, the Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria to express his condolences and declared a three-day national mourning period. The president also pledged to find the perpetrators and to arrest them.
Read it all and make sure to see the pictures from CCTV Africa.
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Churches are generally tax-exempt, but New Hampshire’s highest court ruled the parking spaces are taxable because they were rented to students for “their own private and secular purpose.”
Todd Selig, Town Administrator of Durham, said “this was not in any way an effort on the part of the town to bring in more revenue. It was simply an issue of equity and fairness.”
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How might Williams go about “contextualizing” the Haystack Monument?
The monument’s bicentennial celebration in 2006 provides clues. The weekend events included twilight vespers, panel discussions on the meaning of mission work today, and Sunday worship services. But the event also featured a critical reflection in which Prof. Denise Buell argued that Christian missionary work is “a justification” for violent forms of cultural imperialism.
All of this reflects what Glenn Shuck, a scholar who taught courses on the history of Christianity at Williams for over a decade, calls the college’s “ironic relationship” with the monument: It is a memorial to something important that happened on campus—but not something of which the college’s faculty is necessarily proud. According to Mr. Shuck, many Williams faculty members regard efforts to translate the Bible into other languages to spread Christianity as inherently racist and imperialist, a view he does not share.
Despite the recent media tempest about the Haystack Monument, the statue seems relatively uncontroversial among students. I spoke with about 15 students walking by the monument this week, and none knew what it represented. Once told, not one took offense.
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Bishops and clergy have given a cautious welcome to a strongly worded government review of the integration of minority communities into British society.
Dame Louise Casey, an experienced civil servant, published The Casey review: A review into opportunity and integration, on Monday. She concludes that work needs to be done to “repair the sometimes fraying fabric of our nation”.
The unprecedented scale of immigration and demographic change in recent decades has led to segregation and division in some deprived communities in the UK, the review states.
“Problems of social exclusion have persisted for some ethnic-minority groups, and poorer white British communities in some areas are falling further behind,” Dame Louise writes in her introduction.
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The dead appeared in court today, staring out from video monitors at their families and friends, their congregation’s pastor, a federal judge, a jury and Dylann Storm Roof, the man charged with firing more than 60 bullets into the nine of them in an effort to start a race war in America.
U.S. attorney Jay Richardson, prosecuting Roof on 33 counts of federal hate crimes, used his opening statement to introduce jurors to the men and women he said Roof killed during a church basement Bible study on June 17, 2015.
As their pictures appeared, Richardson sketched them in words: the Rev. Clementa Pinckney: pastor, husband, father; the Rev. Daniel Simmons: spiritual guide; the Rev. Sharonda Singleton: ray of sunshine, loving mother, track coach; the Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor: singer, whose four young daughters always carried milkshakes to church; Cynthia Hurd: wife, sister, librarian; Ethel Lance: grandmother, church usher; Susie Jackson: called Aunt Susie by everyone, proud matriarch of the sprawling Jackson family; Tywanza Sanders, 26, a man just beginning to see the promise of an extraordinarily bright future; and Myra Thompson, leading her first Bible study.
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....there are two misunderstandings we have to be especially on guard against in deploying the elusive and self-transcending language of the common good. One is what we may perhaps be permitted to call "the Prussian doctrine of the state": the idea of a political organisation comprehensive of all actual and possible communications, which is in itself therefore the concrete universal, the achievement and interpretation of the purposes of God. The universal good may be represented in a form we can conceive synthetically, for practical purposes, by the state or some other established order. But this conceivable form does not anticipate all possible moral demands. Concrete moral demand can always outrun synthetic moral vision; it may call us to do what we do not wholly see. That is the truth of the experience of obligation, the experience of something as required of us which is not wholly, or not yet, self-explanatory and perspicuous.
One of the most memorable features of Gaston Fessard's contribution is his recognition of the "problem" of imagining the universal common good, and his insistence that it cannot be grasped simply as an extension of scale, whether in existing community, on the one hand, or in the activity of communication, on the other.
The Prussian doctrine of the state can migrate into larger-scale bureaucratic organisations of a multinational or international character. One false universal the Scriptures can acquaint us with is that of empire. In the common good, as Gaudium et Spes sought to remind us, there is a thrust towards the universal, but the true universal is not quantitative, realised by extension of organisational scale, scope or rigour, but qualitative, too, requiring a depth of personal "communion," as Fessard names it.
The other misunderstanding we must beware of concerns the relation of the universal common good to history. The truth of history is that time is not, as Richard Wagner conceived it in Parsifal, "turned to space." Language about action in history cannot be assimilated to language about making things. The universal is not an artefact, to be constructed, replicated, copied and so on, with time as a kind of material element out of which it is wrought.
The question of the universal is inevitably a question about eschatology, the "fulfilment of the times." As this is not at the disposal of human imagination, so it is not at the disposal of human construction. What is realised historically can only be watched and hoped for, refracted indirectly through the prism of anticipation.
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Why are suffering Syrian and Iraqi bishops banned from visiting the UK? They only wanted to attend the consecration of the country’s first Syriac Orthodox cathedral, dedicated to St Thomas. They might even have met the Prince of Wales for a cup of tea, but after that they’d have surely returned to serve their rapidly-diminishing flocks and lead them through their daily crucifixions, beheadings, enslavement, murder, rape… Surely the Sunday Express has got this story completely wrong. Bishops banned? Why on earth?
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British officials are encouraging the country to put Christ back in Christmas—even in their workplaces.
“There are a lot of myths out there when it comes to dealing with religion at work. I want to put the record straight: It is OK to hold a party and send Christmas cards,” said David Isaac, chairman of the national Equality and Human Rights Commission.
This week, Christians and politicians alike welcomed Isaac’s assurance following the growing prevalence of more generic terminology in public and office celebrations, such as “season’s greetings” and “Winterval.”
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Italy plunged into political and economic uncertainty early Monday after voters rejected a constitutional reform upon which Prime Minister Matteo Renzi had staked his government. The result is certain to reverberate across a European Union already buffeted by political upheaval and anti-establishment anger.
Ostensibly the vote was about arcane changes to Italy’s Constitution that would have streamlined government. But opposition to the reforms came from the same anti-establishment sentiment — spiked with skepticism of globalization, open borders and the feasibility of an ever-closer European Union — that has transformed the politics of a growing list of European countries.
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Over the past two years, diplomats in Pakistan and the U.S. have scaled back contacts, according to officials in both countries. U.S. diplomats say they are afraid of what the NSA and the FBI might hear about them.
“What happened to Raphel could happen to any of us,” said Ryan Crocker, one of the State Department’s most highly decorated career ambassadors. Given the empowerment of law enforcement after 9/11 and the U.S.’s growing reliance on signals intelligence in place of diplomatic reporting, he said, “we will know less and we will be less secure.”
“Look what happened to the one person who was out talking to people,” said Dan Feldman, Raphel’s former boss at State. “Does that not become a cautionary tale?”
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There are Christians who worry about whether they can or cannot speak about their faith at work. This is a fact. There are Christians who worry about it. However, that is not to say that their concern is justified. Furthermore, we cannot – and should not – extrapolate from (for example) one media report of a Christian being disciplined for doing so to a judgement that all Christians are concerned. This is patent nonsense. Theresa May was following a report that said we should grow up and use common sense.
I did not use the word “scared”. I did not “slam” (as I am being reported to be doing) anyone. I also said clearly that this is not a concern for me and that we should get on with it with confidence.
The bit about secularists was simply that there is too often an assumption that there is a potential tension between the faiths and that others might be offended by Christians talking about their faith or the content of Christmas. This also is nonsense. However, there can be an illiberal element to some liberals who are tolerant only of those who consent to their understanding of liberalism or tolerance. That is true. However, it is not to say that all liberals are illiberal.
Read it all and you can find a Yorkshire post article on this there.
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The House is scheduled to vote Friday on the National Defense Authorization Act. This legislation is passed annually to set the military’s budget and settle other policy issues. A significant hangup had been Democratic opposition to a provision known as the “Russell amendment,” which would have clarified conscience protections for religious groups that receive federal contracts. The amendment is named after Rep. Steve Russell (R., Okla.), who offered the amendment at the House Armed Services Committee.
Forty-two Democratic senators signed an Oct. 25 letter opposing the Russell amendment. They claim it would have authorized bigotry by allowing religiously affiliated contractors to “engage in discriminatory hiring practices” or even to fire employees for using birth control or in vitro fertilization. These accusations are grossly inaccurate, but they led to the amendment’s removal from the final bill. The U.S. now risks losing the crucial work religious service providers do for communities with the support of federal contracts.
Every day, stories of grace and mercy are being written as people of faith help those in need. Catholic Charities has helped single moms fill their basic needs. The Mormon Church, through LDS Charities, has donated wheelchairs to hundreds of thousands of people. The University Muslim Medical Association Community Clinic in Los Angeles provides care for thousands of people in a desperate part of town. The Jewish Social Service Agency supports families of children with autism. Samaritans Purse provides disaster relief across the world.
These groups are being marginalized by the federal government. What happened?
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In what sense is the contemporary progressive the faithful heir of Jim Crow? https://t.co/5lSLWGAR0B— Justin Taylor (@between2worlds) December 2, 2016
Perhaps progressives hope and expect that, under the heavy weight of the law, traditionalists will abandon their religious conviction that sexual relations should be confined to marriage between a man and a woman. If that is the expectation, then the project would appear to be one in suppression or elimination: disagreements about marriage and sexuality should be eliminated by using law to make one side disappear.
More commonly, though, what we hear from the progressive side is that the Christian florist and photographer and marriage counselor are still free to retain their private religious convictions about marriage. They simply cannot act on those convictions while carrying on the business of florist or photographer or counselor. Such religious commitments should be left behind when the believer enters the public square. If a believer is unwilling or unable to make that sacrifice, then she should stay at home or find some other line of work.
This position is overtly segregationist in its strategy for dealing with religious diversity. Those who take this view are analogous to the 1960s segregationist who said, “Of course there’s a place for you: it just isn’t here (in this school, or this section of the bus, or this end of the lunch counter).” In that respect, it is the contemporary progressive, not the Christian florist or photographer, who is the faithful heir of Jim Crow.
Read it all from Professor Steven Smith at PD.
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There is no better example of the expression of good values than in Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan; a story deeply embedded in our collective understanding of what it means to be a good citizen, and which reminds us that our values have not emerged from a vacuum — but from the resilient and eternal structure of our religious, theological, philosophical and ethical heritage.
It reinforces a Christian hope of our values: those of a generous and hospitable society rooted in history; committed to the common good and solidarity in the present; creative, entrepreneurial, courageous, sustainable in our internal and external relations; and values that are a resilient steward of the hopes and joys of future generations in our country and around the world — hopes that are not exclusive, but for all. That is what our values have been when they are at their best.
Burke famously wrote that society is a “partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.” He articulates an idea of loyalty: loyalty to those who have sacrificed much in the past for us to be where we are; to our fellow citizens and to those whose lives will stem from our lives. Speaking of loyalty transforms the abstract idea of values — shared or otherwise — into relationships and practices.
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he governments of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have all outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood as a terror organization and want Whitehall to ban the Muslim Brotherhood’s ability to operate in Britain. These Arab countries insist that Muslim Brotherhood activists are taking advantage of Britain’s tolerant attitude toward Islamist groups to plot terror attacks in the Arab world, allegations that the Muslim Brotherhood denies, claiming that it is opposed to terrorism and violence. Pro-Western Arab states also still resent Britain and America’s involvement in supporting the removal of Mr. Mubarak, who had been a loyal ally of Western policy in the region, dating back at least to the First Gulf War.
The review’s failure to come out strongly against the Muslim Brotherhood is now causing the British government some major headaches. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have reportedly threatened to cancel lucrative trade deals with Britain in retaliation for the inquiry. Meanwhile, the British government has been heavily criticized by the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs as well as highly vocal pro-Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Britain, who claim the review failed to take into account the brutal repression Muslim Brotherhood supporters suffered at the hands of the Egyptian security authorities after President Sisi came to power.
The continuing controversy certainly serves as an indictment of Mr. Cameron’s ill-advised meddling in Egyptian politics. Like many supporters of the Arab Spring, he took at face value the Muslim Brotherhood’s claim to be a reforming and democratic party that would transform Egypt’s political landscape following the endemic corruption of the Mubarak regime.
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The election of Donald Trump has lifted fringe ideologies, such as the alt-right, and little-known political figures, such as Trump’s immigration adviser Kris Kobach, to new levels of national prominence.
It has also elevated a group of evangelical Christian leaders and traditions that are often treated as marginal. Specifically, Trump’s victory has been an unlikely triumph for the prosperity gospel, as well as for a handful of prosperity-oriented preachers from the world of African American televangelism.
The president-elect identifies as a Presbyterian. But his rhetoric during the campaign often reflected the language of the prosperity gospel, a diffuse American Christian movement that links faith, positive thinking and material wealth into “the American religion of winning,” as journalist Jeff Sharlet described it this year.
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Social media giants should block children from sharing explicit images to help to curb Britain’s “sexting” crisis, the health secretary has said.
Jeremy Hunt also heaped pressure on tech and mobile phone companies to tackle sexting among under-18s. Technology existed to allow social media platforms to block explicit images from young users automatically, following a request from their parents, he said.
It is the latest demand from a senior government figure for social media companies to take a greater role in confronting issues such as online porn, cyberbullying and extremism.
Giving evidence to the Commons health committee yesterday, Mr Hunt said the companies needed to show that they were willing to help to improve mental health among teenagers. He warned against an online culture of intimidation and sexual imagery.
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Today some 60% of Americans age 65 or older rely on Social Security for 50% or more of their family income–the average payment is a modest $1,300 a month. For some 33% of families, the benefit makes up 90% to 100% of their income.
There’s a lot at stake for the overall federal budget as well, since entitlement programs are grabbing a larger and larger overall share of federal expenditures. Social Security alone accounts for $1 out of every $4 spent, and Medicare and Medicaid spending make up another 25%. Together these entitlement programs account for most of the future growth in spending, not including interest payments on debt, says MacGuineas.
The surge in Social Security spending is chiefly driven by the aging of the U.S. population. The leading edge of the baby-boom generation of 75 million began heading into retirement just as Obama took office. Back in 2009, the nation’s worker-to-retiree ratio stood at 3.0 to 1. Today, with more boomers having exited the workforce, the ratio has dropped to 2.8 to 1, and by 2035 it is projected to shrink to 2.1 to 1.
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In a revealing personal interview with the Sunday Times, Mrs May confessed that the Brexit debate is keeping her awake at night, but that her faith was guiding her decision making.
She said that while the issues were "really complex" she is also "very conscious" that the government needs to get on with delivering a deal for Britain.
She said: “Well, it is a moment of change. It is a hugely challenging time. And we need to get on with the deal in terms of Brexit. And I’m very conscious of that. I want to make sure that everything we do ensures Britain is a country that works for everyone.
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Melbourne's Catholic and Anglican archbishops have condemned the Andrews government's imprisonment of teenagers in "the harshest of adult prison settings", warning that teen offenders' welfare and chances of rehabilitation are at risk.
Catholic Archbishop Denis Hart and his Anglican counterpart Philip Freier have taken the "unusual step" of writing a joint letter to Mr Andrews offering to boost chaplaincy and pastoral care services to "the most vulnerable and impressionable children" in the care of the state as the youth justice crisis deepens.
Earlier this month rioting teen inmates damaged the Melbourne Youth Justice Centre at Parkville. In response, Premier Daniel Andrews' government moved some inmates to the maximum security Barwon Prison, making "no apology" for the plan.
Read it all from The Age.
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The problem is deeper. Trump’s campaign succeeded in spite of the cast-iron demonstrations of his total indifference to truth (not to mention decency). It has offered not a connected strategy for national reconstruction, but an incoherent series of crowd-pleasing postures; as if Trump’s real aim was not to do anything as president but simply to be president, to be the most important man in the Western world. This election represents a divorce between the electoral process and the business of political decision-making. It is the ersatz politics of mass theatre, in which what matters most is the declaration of victory.
As such, it is the most cynical betrayal of those who are disenfranchised. It confirms that they have no part in real political processes; they can only choose their monarch. They have become detached from the work of politics by the erosion of liberties and economic opportunities – one reason why there is such pressure to displace this on to a feverish defence of archaic “freedoms” such as gun ownership, and on to whatever scapegoated minority can be held responsible for unemployment or general insecurity.
The politics of mass democracy has failed. It has been narrowed down to a mechanism for managing large-scale interests in response to explicit and implicit lobbying by fabulously well-resourced commercial and financial concerns (ironically, one of the things that Trump has undertaken to change). The 2008 financial crisis sent a tremor through that world but failed to change its workings. The effect has been a growing assumption that what goes on in public political debate does not represent any voices other than the privileged and self-interested. And so, for significant parts of a population, “theatrical” politics comes to look like the only option: a dramatic articulation of the problems of powerlessness, for which the exact details of economic or social reality are irrelevant. This delivers people into the hands of another kind of dishonest politics: the fact-free manipulation of emotion by populist adventurers.
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During the six decades of the Castro brothers totalitarian rule, more than two million Cubans fled their beloved island, taking solace in the words of Cuba’s most famous exile, poet and independence hero José Martí: "sin patria, pero sin amo," without a homeland, but without a master.
Countless met their deaths in the attempt to cross the seas and now trekking through the jungles of some seven countries to reach the U.S. border. One of Castro’s most heinous crimes was the massacre of 41 men, women and children attempting to flee Cuba on a tugboat on July 13, 1994. Cuban authorities sprayed the vessel with water hoses, rammed and sank it. This is not something I read. I interviewed survivors at the Guantanamo Cuban refugee camps months later. The Cuban Coast Guard refused to rescue the drowning, they told me.
There were so many other crimes and human rights abuses, largely ignored or benignly viewed by a world that gave Castro the benefit of the doubt, and only slapped him on the wrist occasionally at some forums like the United Nations.
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It is hard to imagine America's favorite holiday as a source of political controversy. But that was the case in 1789, the year of our first Thanksgiving as a nation.
The controversy began on Sept. 25 in New York City, then the seat of government. The inaugural session of the first Congress was about to recess when Rep. Elias Boudinot of New Jersey rose to introduce a resolution. He asked the House to create a joint committee with the Senate to "wait upon the President of the United States, to request that he would recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the many signal favors of Almighty God."
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October 3, 1863
By the President of the United States of America.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward,
Secretary of State
[New York, 3 October 1789]
By the President of the United States of America. a Proclamation.
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor–and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be–That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions–to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness onto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New-York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
The Bishop of Birmingham, Rt Revd David Urquhart, has issued the following response to the Chancellor's Autumn Statement:
Bishop David said: "The political turbulence of the past year and lower growth forecasts have meant the Chancellor has been given limited economic room for manoeuvre. But I welcome the emphasis in the Autumn Statement on long term stability, investment in innovation, in our national infrastructure and on supporting regional growth. To be a nation living within its means is an aspiration worth keeping, even if the revised figures for deficit reduction mean that the goal of its achievement has been moved slightly further away.
The Government is to be commended for wanting to address the situation of those who are 'just managing' and for its emphasis on work as being an important route out of poverty. The increases in the National Living Wage and a partial reversal of planned cuts to Universal Credit announced in today's Autumn Statement are welcome and will offer some help. But at a time when the cost of living is set to rise, more on the lowest incomes will still struggle to get by and they might benefit from more targeted assistance than further increases in the tax free personal allowance, which mostly benefits better off families, as the recent report by the Centre for Social Justice points out.
As the Joseph Rowntree Foundation have highlighted, the four-year freeze on working-age benefits is looking increasingly out of date, especially with rising inflation.
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Red Wednesday is an occasion for people to stand in solidarity with the millions who are targeted for their beliefs and are living in fear. It takes place on the Feast of the Pope and Martyr, St Clement, and a growing number of parishes, schools and groups around the country are pledging their support for the day of witness.
The buildings taking part in the Red Wednesday witness include Catholic, Church of England and Free Churches which are being lit up in red – most notably Westminster and Brentwood Cathedrals, Westminster Abbey and the Liberal Jewish Synagogue at St John’s Wood, as well as Stonyhurst and the Palace of Westminster. “We are also inviting everyone, and especially schools, groups, and university students to wear red – as a symbol of the suffering today of people of faith,” says the event’s coordinator Patricia Hatton. “Priests too can get involved by wearing red vestments to celebrate the Feast of St Clement.”
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Seventy-seven percent of Americans, a new high, believe the nation is divided on the most important values, while 21% believe it is united and in agreement. Over the past 20+ years, the public has tended to perceive the nation as being more divided than united, apart from two surveys conducted shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The latest poll was conducted Nov. 9-13 after a contentious presidential campaign involving the two of the least popular candidates in postwar U.S. history, and as protests erupted nationwide in response to Donald Trump's victory.
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Sarah-Jane Cunningham knew that her Facebook posts about the election were rubbing her family the wrong way, but she didn’t realize the posts would get her uninvited from Thanksgiving dinner.
The 19-year-old said her mother called a week before Thanksgiving and confronted her about the Facebook posts regarding President-elect Donald Trump.
“She asked me if I was going to be disrespectful to my family, and I told her that it could work either way, Cunningham said. "If the things I am saying are disrespectful to Trump supporters, the things they are saying are also disrespectful to me."
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The US city of Bloomington in Indiana has renamed Good Friday and Columbus Day as "Spring Holiday" and "Fall Holiday" to be more "inclusive".
Mayor John Hamilton said the move would "better reflect cultural sensitivity in the workplace", local media said.
Bloomington is a traditionally liberal city. Its county gave Hillary Clinton 58.6% in the presidential election.
But the move sparked a backlash on social media, with opponents condemning it as an act of political correctness.
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I mean, is it the case that liberals believe that artistic performances — theater, music, and so forth — must be limited only to people who share their moral and political views? If I were worried that the Trump administration was going to be hostile to minorities and gays, I would have gone out of my way to make Mike Pence feel welcome at Hamilton, and hoped and prayed that the power of art moved his heart and changed his mind. But that’s not how the audience saw it. They wanted to show Pence that he is not part of their community, and the cast took it upon itself to attempt to catechize Pence at the end of the show. (And people say Evangelical movies are bad because they can’t let the art speak for itself, they have to underline the moral and put an altar call at the end!).
Let’s think about it in religious terms. If you were a pastor or member of a church congregation, and a Notorious Sinner came to services one Sunday, would you boo him as he took his seat in a pew? Do you think that would make him more or less likely to value the congregation and accept the message from the sermon? And if you were the pastor, would you think it helpful to single the Notorious Sinner out among the congregation, and tell him, in a bless-your-heart way, that you hope he got the point of the sermon (him being a bad man and all)? You should not be surprised if the Notorious Sinner left with his heart hardened to the religion and that congregation. Any good that might have been done toward converting him to the congregation’s and the pastor’s way of belief would almost certainly not come to fruition.
Look, I’m not saying that churches should downplay or throw aside their sacred beliefs to be seeker-friendly. Sure, congregations should treat visitors with respect, but the church exists to fulfill a particular purpose, to carry out a specific mission. Its behavior must be consonant with that mission. Nevertheless, a church that repudiates hospitality to guests, and thereby chooses to be a museum of the holy, violates its purpose, and diminishes its power to change the world.
So, do liberals want theaters (and campuses) to be museums of the holy, where the already converted commune with each other? Does one have to be baptized into the mystery cult of liberalism before one is allowed in the door? Because that’s the message from last night’s display at the Richard Rodgers Theater. And if this kind of thing keeps up — Trump will do nothing to stop it, because it benefits him and his tribe — America will lose one more gathering place for all of its people.
This is by no means only the fault of the left.
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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
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A report released Wednesday calls out Allegheny County law enforcement officials and the court system for putting people in jail when alternatives would better serve the defendants and the taxpayers. Too bad it came out after James Marasco died of undetermined causes in the county jail while serving a 10-day sentence for loitering.
The report, by the University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics, indicated the jail’s population had swelled to 2,200 despite falling crime rates. Many are locked up while awaiting disposition of their cases; 81 percent of inmates in the county jail are not serving sentences, compared with a national average of 62 percent. Only 19 percent of county inmates have been charged with violent crimes; the rest are there for drugs or the kind of lower-level crimes that landed Mr. Marasco behind bars.
Moreover, as many as 75 percent of inmates have mental illness, substance abuse problems or both. Mr. Marasco had mental illness and used drugs. Mental illness may be the underlying factor in a person’s crimes and should be taken into account before incarceration. The primary purpose of jail is correction, not treatment. It’s unlikely that a person’s mental illness will improve in jail. The illness is likely to worsen, and that is why mentally ill inmates often incur more disciplinary infractions and serve longer sentences than healthy peers.
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Abu Sayyaf, once written off as one of the global jihadist movement’s also-rans, is gaining strength in the southern Philippines by chasing down high-value victims at sea and ransoming them off for millions of dollars.
After a relative lull for most of a decade, kidnappings have surged to more than 20 annually since 2014, when the group’s main leader Isnilon Hapilon swore allegiance to Islamic State.
That rebranding—and the accompanying brutality, including beheadings—has generated international headlines and raised fears that the island-dotted region could re-emerge as a hub for Islamist terrorists, as it was for al Qaeda in the 1990s.
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(Bp Tim Dakin: Diocese of Winchester photo)
My Lords, I too thank the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, for securing this debate. With Malawi on the brink of a major humanitarian crisis, there is no better time to highlight the challenges facing Africa today. I declare an interest as the chair of a small charity supporting education and development in Africa.
The welfare of the east African nations is of particular importance to me. I was born in Tanzania and spent some of my teenage years in Kenya. In the 1990s, I was the principal of a small college in Nairobi—indeed, we still keep a home situated on an old coffee farm near Thika. Through this previous experience and from regular visits, I have observed the finely balanced life which Kenyan agricultural workers live. Smallholdings are a significant element in the agricultural sector of Kenya. Many city dwellers also have a smallholding upcountry. A severe drought might mean the end of their children’s education. It may also result in families being unable to afford even the most basic medicines or in workers having to resort to desperate means of generating income to support their families.
The economic partnership agreements that we discuss today may have as much of an impact on the livelihoods of east African smallholders as a bumper harvest or a deadly drought. We have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, a sample of the difficulties caused by EPAs. I want to highlight two issues which could specifically affect the smallholder in Africa.
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The United States is one of the richest countries in the world, but it would look dramatically different if its 50 states were organized according to income instead of geography.
If that were the case, residents of the poorest state in the union would have a median household income that’s just above the federal poverty line for a family of four. They would also expect to live shorter lives than people in more than half of the world's countries.
It's not a pretty picture, according to the researchers who carried out this thought experiment.
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Just when it looked as if Donald Trump might be mellowing came the unsettling symbolism of his weekend meeting with Nigel Farage, a seasoned pro of nativist politics. The leader of Britain’s pro-Brexit forces and the U.S. president-elect, Mr. Trump’s campaign manager explained, chatted “about freedom and winning and what this all means for the world.”
Just what does it mean? Kindred spirits or co-conspirators, Mr. Trump and Mr. Farage owe their respective victories – Mr. Farage’s came in June’s British referendum on leaving the European Union – to the popular backlash against globalization that they fomented with their fearful claims about the negative impacts of trade agreements and immigration. Closing their borders, they told voters left behind by technological change and ill at ease with the new demography, was the only way to recover what, in truth, is lost forever.
There is no understating the significance of the anti-globalization backlash in U.S. and British politics. These aren’t just any two countries. The United States and Britain have been the guarantors of the international order since the Second World War. Their “special relationship” led to the end of the Cold War and the growth in world trade and investment flows that lifted living standards almost everywhere and ensured the global peace.
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..you may wonder why this group [some white evangelicals] voted in historic numbers for a man like Trump. Perhaps, as some have suggested, they are hypocrites. Perhaps they are merely partisans. But I will make a further suggestion: They are scared.
Consider that over the course of the past few years, Democrats and liberals have: booed the inclusion of God in their platform at the 2012 convention (this is disputed, but it is the perception); endorsed a regulation that would allow transgendered students to use the bathroom and locker room corresponding to their identity; attempted to force small businesses to cover drugs they believe induce abortions; attempted to force nuns to provide contraceptive coverage; forced Brendan Eich to step down as chief executive officer of Mozilla due to his opposition to marriage equality; fined a small Christian bakery over $140,000 for refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding; vigorously opposed a law in Indiana that would provide protections against similar regulations – despite having overwhelmingly supported similar laws when they protected Native American religious rights – and then scoured the Indiana countryside trying to find a business that would be affected by the law before settling upon a small pizza place in the middle of nowhere and harassing the owners. In 2015, the United States solicitor general suggested that churches might lose their tax exempt status if they refused to perform same-sex marriages. In 2016, the Democratic nominee endorsed repealing the Hyde Amendment, thereby endorsing federal funding for elective abortions. Democrats seemingly took up the position endorsed by critical legal theorist Mark Tushnet [quoted on T19 this past May]:
The culture wars are over; they lost, we won. . . . For liberals, the question now is how to deal with the losers in the culture wars. That’s mostly a question of tactics. My own judgment is that taking a hard line (“You lost, live with it”) is better than trying to accommodate the losers, who – remember – defended, and are defending, positions that liberals regard as having no normative pull at all. Trying to be nice to the losers didn’t work well after the Civil War, nor after Brown. (And taking a hard line seemed to work reasonably well in Germany and Japan after 1945.) I should note that LGBT activists in particular seem to have settled on the hard-line approach, while some liberal academics defend more accommodating approaches. When specific battles in the culture wars were being fought, it might have made sense to try to be accommodating after a local victory, because other related fights were going on, and a hard line might have stiffened the opposition in those fights. But the war’s over, and we won.Read it all.
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
Some evangelical leaders around the globe worry that the recent US presidential election has damaged Christian moral witness, and will fuel discord abroad.
In a conference call Tuesday, a week after Donald Trump’s win, more than 70 ministry presidents, pastors, and scholars spoke with concern as they discussed the ramifications of the American election on the global church.
The call was organized by Doug Birdsall, a former top leader of the Lausanne Movement and the American Bible Society, as part of his new Civilitas Group. Participants included evangelical representatives from Asia, Europe, and South America, as well as a diverse span of US church leaders.
“One of the things that America was stood for in the past was moral leadership and character. Over the past few decades, it has slowly dissipated,” said Hwa Yung, longtime bishop of the Methodist Church in Malaysia. “In this election you have produced two candidates, both of whom are deeply flawed in character. The question people around the world are asking is, ‘Is this what America is today?’ The election has done great damage to your moral standing in the eyes of the world.”
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“You now have billions of people on the internet, and most of them are not that happy with the status quo,” said Ian Bremmer, the president of the Eurasia Group, a research firm that forecasts global risks. “They think their local government is authoritarian. They think they’re on the wrong side of the establishment. They’re aggrieved by identity politics and a hollowed-out middle class.”
Many factors accounted for Mr. Trump’s win: middle-class economic anxiety in the industrial Midwest; an inchoate desire for some kind of change in the national direction; and some mix of latent racism, xenophobia and sexism across the electorate. But as even Mr. Trump acknowledged in an interview with “60 Minutes” aired Sunday, social media played a determining role in the race.
In the past, Mr. Bremmer said, the concerns of Mr. Trump’s supporters might have been ignored, and his candidacy would almost certainly have foundered. After all, he was universally written off by just about every mainstream pundit, and he faced disadvantages in money, organization and access to traditional political expertise. Yet by putting out a message that resonated with people online, Mr. Trump hacked through every established political order.
“Through this new technology, people are now empowered to express their grievances and to follow people they see as echoing their grievances,” Mr. Bremmer said. “If it wasn’t for social media, I don’t see Trump winning.”
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During the 2016 presidential campaign, the label “evangelical” became an especially blurred category both because of the media and because of some evangelical voices. Over the course of the campaign, the press increasingly referred to evangelicals as politically conservative, and predominantly white Christians. For some evangelicals, abortion and future Supreme Court appointments were of primary concern, placed over and against concerns for women, people of color, Muslims, and LGBT persons. This polarization, even among evangelicals, led some to conclude that evangelicals on both sides were increasingly and inextricably bound to and complicit with scandalizing words and actions that degrade people and contradict and betray the gospel of Jesus Christ. At times, these associations have not just been attributed by the press, but clearly and repeatedly captured through evangelicals’ own witness. The reported influence of the evangelical vote in the post-election surveys only intensified this view.
For some who have identified themselves as evangelical, these distorted entanglements now compel them to abandon the term, to adamantly reject further identification with evangelical and with groups associated with it. Only by distancing themselves from the now pervasive and destructive associations with evangelical do they feel they can reclaim or maintain their identity and integrity as followers of Jesus. For these, anything less than this seems like a meaningless and impossible semantic position.
As President and President Emeritus of Fuller Theological Seminary, we lament and reject the disgrace that hateful words and actions by some evangelicals have heaped specifically upon people of color, immigrants, women, Muslims, and LGBT persons in our nation, as we uphold the dignity of all persons made in the image of God. We grieve and condemn the racism and fear, rejection and hatred that have been expressed and associated with our Lord. Such realities do not in any way reflect the fruit of God’s Spirit and instead evoke the sorrow of God’s heart and of our own.
To whatever degree and in whatever ways Fuller Theological Seminary has contributed or currently contributes to the shame and abuse now associated with the word evangelical, we call ourselves, our board of trustees, our faculty, our staff, our students, our alumni, and our friends to repentance and transformation.
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As Paul reminded the Christians in Philippi, “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” So, what difference does having an ultimate transcendent citizenship make for our lives as earthly citizens of the United States of America?
Having a heavenly citizenship allows us to avoid the polar postures of triumphalism on the one hand, and nihilism on the other. It allows us to unequivocally pray for President-elect Trump in his victory and pray for Secretary Clinton in her defeat. Just as we have prayed for President Obama throughout his time in office, we will, without hesitation, pray for President Trump after his inauguration just as we would have prayed for Secretary Clinton had she won the election. We must pray for and meaningfully aid President-elect Trump in “binding the wounds of division” as he put it in his conciliatory victory speech. As citizens of heaven we can have the eyes of our hearts opened to the very real pain and fear that people are feeling in many parts of our country. I received a message this morning from a friend who is a teacher asking for my prayers as she had genuinely frightened African American and Muslim children weeping in her arms today at school. Our call as citizens of heaven is to have open arms of love and compassion like my friend and to work tirelessly on our knees and in the civic square to make sure that their fears are not realized. As citizens of heaven, we are free to celebrate and magnify that which is good, and to rebuke and stand against that which is evil, regardless of which political party or politician is before us. As citizens of heaven, we know full well that all authority on earth comes under the sovereign authority of Almighty God. As citizens of heaven, we are rooted in a great and glorious truth that Christ Jesus our redeemer lives and his Spirit is within us, bearing the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
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In a world tormented by tension and the possibilities of conflict, we meet in a quiet commemoration of an historic day of peace. In an age that threatens the survival of freedom, we join together to honor those who made our freedom possible. The resolution of the Congress which first proclaimed Armistice Day, described November 11, 1918, as the end of "the most destructive, sanguinary and far-reaching war in the history of human annals." That resolution expressed the hope that the First World War would be, in truth, the war to end all wars. It suggested that those men who had died had therefore not given their lives in vain.
It is a tragic fact that these hopes have not been fulfilled, that wars still more destructive and still more sanguinary followed, that man's capacity to devise new ways of killing his fellow men have far outstripped his capacity to live in peace with his fellow men.Some might say, therefore, that this day has lost its meaning, that the shadow of the new and deadly weapons have robbed this day of its great value, that whatever name we now give this day, whatever flags we fly or prayers we utter, it is too late to honor those who died before, and too soon to promise the living an end to organized death.
But let us not forget that November 11, 1918, signified a beginning, as well as an end. "The purpose of all war," said Augustine, "is peace." The First World War produced man's first great effort in recent times to solve by international cooperation the problems of war. That experiment continues in our present day -- still imperfect, still short of its responsibilities, but it does offer a hope that some day nations can live in harmony.
For our part, we shall achieve that peace only with patience and perseverance and courage -- the patience and perseverance necessary to work with allies of diverse interests but common goals, the courage necessary over a long period of time to overcome...[a skilled adversary].
Do please take a guess as to who it is and when it was, then click and read it all.
Amid protests on and off campus and a wider sense of unease among students, University of Pittsburgh leaders today sought to settle nerves frayed by an extraordinarily divisive national election that propelled Donald J. Trump to the presidency.
In an email to campus, Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said electing a president and transitioning power are Constitutional hallmarks of a Democracy. He said the process has been repeated dozens of times in the nation's history.
"However, this election feels different,'' he wrote. "While fierce debate and profound differences are part of all campaigns, this one was more negative, personal and polarizing than any in recent memory.
"And many of us have experienced post-election reactions that were powerfully personal and emotional."
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Three South Carolinians who put their political fortunes on the line backing Donald Trump early in his campaign could be rewarded with jobs in the president-elect's administration.
Those working closely with the Trump transition team say Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster, state Rep. Jim Merrill and Columbia real estate developer Bill Stern are in the best position among Trump's many Palmetto State backers to be offered to work for him in Washington, D.C.
"One thing I learned is, Mr. Trump is extremely loyal," said Ed McMullen, Trump's South Carolina campaign chairman. "Every one of the people who worked on the campaign from start to finish will be in a position to be a part of this administration because Mr. Trump directed that to be the case."
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They may not have gone to Harvard or Yale (though surely some did), but, like Ripepi, they were tired of their values and principles being the butt of everyone’s jokes — including the president’s.
In the end, their support for Trump was non-ideological and not solely a revolt by poorer whites left behind by globalization. These voters turned out for Trump, too, but it was the Ripepis of the world who put this race over the top for Trump.
Voters keep sending Washington a message, and Washington — and the reporters who cover it — keep missing the signal. On Wednesday, pundits kept trying to calculate why progressivism was rejected, and they kept looking past what was right in front of them.
Voters are rejecting big government, big banks, big corporations and big technology. They said no to establishment Republican primary candidates and Wall Street, and they hid from the political statheads trying to track their mood.
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The most important divide in this election was not between whites and non-whites. It was between those who are often referred to as “educated” voters and those who are described as “working class” voters.
The reality is that six in 10 Americans do not have a college degree, and they elected Donald Trump . College-educated people didn’t just fail to see this coming — they have struggled to display even a rudimentary understanding of the worldviews of those who voted for Trump. This is an indictment of the monolithic, insulated political culture in the vast majority our colleges and universities.
As a college professor, I know that there are many ways in which college graduates simply know more about the world than those who do not have such degrees. This is especially true — with some exceptions, of course — when it comes to “hard facts” learned in science, history and sociology courses....
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Certainly, The Times isn’t the only news organization bewildered and perhaps a bit sheepish about its predictions coverage. The rest of media missed it too, as did the pollsters, the analysts, the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign itself.
But as The Times begins a period of self-reflection, I hope its editors will think hard about the half of America the paper too seldom covers.
The red state America campaign coverage that rang the loudest in news coverage grew out of Trump rallies, and it often amplified the voices of the most hateful. One especially compelling video produced with footage collected over months on the campaign trail, captured the ugly vitriol like few others. That’s important coverage. But it and pieces like it drowned out the kind of agenda-free, deep narratives that could have taken Times readers deeper into the lives and values of the people who just elected the next president.
In other words, The Times would serve readers well with fewer brief interviews, fewer snatched slogans that inevitably render a narrow caricature of those who spoke them.
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Professor Helmuth Norpoth of Stony Brook University on Long Island correctly called this election for Donald Trump back in February, when everyone -- and I mean everyone -- was confident that Trump would lose by a big margin. Later in the season, he was joined by a different professor using a different model, but who went contrary to the popular trends and predicted the same result.
The biggest loser in this election was not Hillary Clinton. She lost, and lost decisively, to be sure -- but the professors' models predicted she would lose, and they've been infallible in past elections for decades.
No, the biggest loser -- actually, losers (to use a term beloved of our President-elect) -- are (1) the Beltway elite; and (2) the mainstream media -- who gave it everything they had, and still fell way short.
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"You can always count on Americans to do the right thing -- after they've tried everything else." ~ Winston Churchill
If you are unhappy about the results of yesterday's presidential election, go back and read my previous blog post.
If you are happy about the results of yesterday's presidential election, go back and read my previous blog post.
Yesterday Americans struck a blow for liberty. Political correctness lost; free speech won.
Global elitists lost; ordinary citizens won. Cynics and secularists lost; people of faith won.
The implications of those last three sentences will take time to be felt. But there is a fresh wind blowing; and it is good.
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Notwithstanding a priest's recent comment that the earthquakes in Italy recently are a judgment of God re The Issue, I think God's judgment on this world is best discerned in the course of human history. The decisions we make have consequences, and the consequences come to pass in the course of time. In Paul's repeated words in Romans 1:24, 26, 28, "God gave them up ..." we find that God does not so much visit us with punitive earthquakes as refuse to rescue us from what we have foolishly chosen to do...
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Did you notice something about the quotes? The Trump supporters spoke in less strident, more conciliatory terms. The opponents still seem to be working out the bile of the rhetoric from the campaign.
This reveals a weakness of the pure aggregation approach. Some of the more extreme reactions fairly cried out for follow-up questions.
For Harris, one might ask if one party did all the demonization. It was Hillary, not Trump, who said half of the other side was a "basket of deplorables" … "racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic." Sure, she walked back from that, but only after a backlash of criticism.
For Campolo, Hatmaker and the Muslim Advocates, it would be interesting to ask: "What do you fear? What could Trump do that would pass scrutiny by Congress and the courts?"
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...to those in the United States, regardless of how you voted, this morning we are all even more aware of the fact that our country is in need of healing. There is a need for reconciliation across the divisions of race, ethnicity, class, and political party. While the issues are complicated, it is clear that many in our country are scared and feeling wounded. This is a time for the Church to be a refuge and an example. While living in this earthly kingdom, we must allow our citizenship in the heavenly kingdom to lead us in thought, word, and deed.
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Humility is hard. So is contrition. As is taking responsibility for one's own unjustified arrogance and undeniable mistakes.
But all of that and more is what America's political and media establishments owe to the country. They failed — we failed, I failed — to grasp the extent of the seismic shift that the rise of Donald Trump portended. Trump's campaign and personal behavior are so offensive to so many things that the members of these establishments take for granted, believe in, and valorize, that the thought that Trump could prevail electorally was close to unthinkable for most.
We can't blame James Comey. Hillary Clinton's slide in the polls began before he temporarily reignited his investigation into her State Department emails, and she rebounded from some of that decline over the past week.
The polls were just plain wrong.
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What can we do now? We can, first of all, maintain a prophetic clarity that is willing to call to repentance everything that is unjust and anti-Christ, whether that is the abortion culture, the divorce culture, or the racism/nativism culture. We can be the people who tell the truth, whether it helps or hurts our so-called “allies” or our so-called “enemies.”
Moreover, no matter what the racial and ethnic divisions in America, we can be churches that demonstrate and embody the reconciliation of the kingdom of God. After all, we are not just part of a coalition but part of a Body — a Body that is white and black and Latino and Asian, male and female, rich and poor. We are party of a Body joined to a Head who is an Aramaic-speaking Middle Easterner.
What affects black and Hispanic and Asian Christians ought to affect white Christians. And the sorts of poverty and social unraveling among the white working class ought to affect black and Hispanic and Asian Christians. We belong to each other because we belong to Christ.
The most important lesson we should learn is that the church must stand against the way politics has become a religion, and religion has become politics.
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Prayers following the US election result: pic.twitter.com/G4mSeDAup5— Justin Welby ن (@JustinWelby) November 9, 2016
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Donald J. Trump shocked the world Tuesday, winning election as the 45th president of the United States.
The Republican nominee’s victory came after projections showed him winning the states of Florida and North Carolina, as well as Wisconsin, which a Republican nominee had not won in decades.
Trump, once again, defied all the predictions.
His condemnations of the political establishment and his insistence that he alone can restore American greatness resonated with voters far from the media epicenters of the east and west coast. They came out in huge numbers to lift him to victory in the key battleground states.
Polling organizations will face hard questions as to how they misread Trump’s backing so badly, even though aides to the candidate had long insisted that there were “shy” supporters who were not admitting their allegiances.
Read it all and for some analysis of the voting patterns see fivethirtyeight
Father, we are an anxious and fearful people. For all of our bluster and bragging, we are so easily shaken. We are anxious about money, anxious about the future, anxious about the economy, anxious about the election, anxious about our enemies, anxious about food, anxious about health, anxious about safety, anxious about everything under the sun. We live in so much fear. And we confess that anxiety is fundamentally a form of pride. Our anxiety is our sinful and arrogant reaction to the truth that we are not ultimately in control.
This is a great evil.
Father, as your people, we too live in fear. We have baptized the worries and anxieties of the world. We have feared what they fear, and lived in dread of what they dread. And in our fear and anxiety, we have become reactionary and easily manipulated. And because our anxiety and fear feels so justified by the riskiness of life, we do not feel it to be really sinful. We do not feel the arrogance in our insecurities.
Forgive us, O God, in your great mercy.
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General Orders, May 15, 1776–
The Continental Congress having ordered Friday the 17th. Instant to be observed as a day of “fasting, of humiliation, of prayer, humbly to supplicate the mercy of Almighty God, that it would please him to pardon all our manifold sins and transgressions, and to prosper the arms of the United Colonies, and finally, establish the peace and freedom of America, upon a solid and lasting foundation”–The General commands all officers, and soldiers, to pay strict obedience to the Orders of the Continental Congress, and by their unfeigned, and pious observance of their religious duties, incline the Lord, and Giver of Victory, to prosper our arms.
You are indeed the Giver of Victory. Prosper the arms of Your angelic hosts to establish the peace and freedom of America, upon a solid and lasting foundation. Amen.
John Onwuchekwa, Pastor of Cornerstone Church in Atlanta, Georgia:
Guiding Principles: Corporate prayer takes up a significant time of our corporate gathering—usually 15-20 minutes total, split between four prayers. So we don’t pray for our leaders merely around election cycles, but all the time.
Praying for our leaders routinely and regularly helps to remind our church that we’re appealing to someone who’s actually in control. This regularity especially helps mitigate the fears of people who tend to be consumed with politics under the sun, reminding us that our hope for change here on the earth ultimately lies beyond the sun, not under it.
We keep an eye toward unity in the church. Politics tends to divide—especially when you have a diverse church. As we pray, we’re reminded that the biggest obstacle to the church fulfilling its purpose in the world is disunity.
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Almighty God, to whom we must account for all our powers and privileges: Guide the people of the United States...[and of my community[ in the election of officials and representatives; that, by faithful administration and wise laws, the rights of all may be protected and our nation be enabled to fulfill your purposes; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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First, we can do better ourselves and we can work to make the world better. How we live matters. Public policy matters. Our political and economic choices change other people’s lives. The poor depend upon our making good choices. We can’t bail out. We cannot say “a pox on all your houses” (the Mennonite option) and drop out.
Second, the world will still be a painful place no matter what political choices we make. People don’t stop being sinful even if a nation elects the best politician with the best policies, and no nation ever does that. People will always suffer. The workers and the poor will still suffer the exploitation Leo condemned. No political achievement is ever unmixed with evil. No achievement lasts. Power tends to corrupt.
The answer is Christ and his Church. Leo wrote at the end of Rerum Novarum: “Since religion alone can destroy the evil at its root . . . the primary thing needed is to return to real Christianity.” Treat politics seriously, but don’t expect it to save the world. Someone else will do that.
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For over a century, the best response to Plato’s critique of democracy has been John Dewey’s claim that precious and fragile democratic experiments must put a premium on democratic statecraft (public accountability, protection of rights and liberties, as well as personal responsibility, embedded in a fair rule of law) and especially on democratic soulcraft (integrity, empathy, and a mature sense of history). For Plato, democratic regimes collapse owing to the slavish souls of citizens driven by hedonism and narcissism, mendacity and venality. Dewey replies that this kind of spiritual blackout can be overcome by robust democratic education and courageous exemplars grounded in the spread of critical intelligence, moral compassion, and historical humility. The 2016 election presents a dangerous question as to whether Dewey’s challenge to Plato’s critique can be met.
Yet Clinton is not a strong agent for Dewey’s response. There is no doubt that if she becomes the first woman president of the United States — though I prefer Jill Stein, of the Green Party — Clinton will be smart, even brilliant, in office. But like her predecessor, Barack Obama, she promotes the same neoliberal policies that increase inequality and racial polarization that will produce the next Trump. More important, she embraces Trump-like figures abroad, be they in Saudi Arabia, Honduras, Israel, or Syria — figures of ugly xenophobia and militaristic policies. The same self-righteous neoliberal soulcraft of smartness, dollars, and bombs lands us even deeper in our spiritual blackout. Instead we need a democratic soulcraft of wisdom, justice, and peace — the dreams of courageous freedom fighters like Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Joshua Heschel, Edward Said, and Dorothy Day. These dreams now lie dormant at this bleak moment, but spiritual and democratic awakenings are afoot among the ripe ones, especially those in the younger generation.
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This year’s presidential election may well be the most divisive in U.S. history, pitting liberals and conservatives against one another perhaps more bitterly than ever before, and the two major-party candidates seem in many ways to reflect cultural ills and political corruption that have been brewing for decades. On both the right and the left, countless citizens appear to believe that one candidate or the other will bring about the “end of America.” Conservatives argue that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton will, among other things, transform the Supreme Court into a progressive super-legislature to impose its anti-democratic will for a generation. Meanwhile, liberals maintain that Republican nominee Donald Trump will deport millions of minorities and exacerbate existing racial tension to the detriment of less-privileged Americans.
It is easy to allow the evident failures of our political system — culminating in the simultaneous nomination of perhaps the two most dishonest, corrupt presidential nominees in U.S. history — to consume our focus and destroy our confidence in the future of our country. But as these seemingly endless debates absorb our attention and ongoing rancor pollutes our national dialogue, millions of people around the world face genocide, and they fear for their lives and those of their children.
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The question of whether pot should be legal is a big theme on state ballots this year. Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada are also voting on measures that would make the drug legal to possess and use in small amounts for people over 21. Four other states are voting to legalize medical marijuana: Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and North Dakota.
According to the Atlantic, recent polls show that voters in the five states deciding on recreational marijuana are leaning toward legalization. If all the measures passed, marijuana would be legal for 25 percent of the country's population, up from where it is currently, at 5 percent.
That echoes a national trend. According to a recent Gallup poll, public support for legal pot has climbed to 60 percent — the highest level recorded by the polling group in nearly 50 years. The move toward acceptance might mean more politicians will soon join Pelosi in openly supporting similar measures across the country.
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LAWTON: Greg Smith is associate director of research at the Pew Research Center, which has been polling voters throughout the pre-election season.
SMITH: Many of them say they’re disgusted by it, that they’re disappointed. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not engaged, in fact many of them are engaged, but by and large, people tell us they’re very unhappy with the state of this campaign.
LAWTON: Smith says the high levels of negativity can been seen in the nature of the support for the candidates.
SMITH: On both sides we’re seeing people tell us that the support for their candidate is driven as much by opposition to the other side. That’s not just true of Trump supporters, many of whom say that they are supporting Trump primarily as a matter of opposing Clinton. The same thing is true on the other side. There are many Clinton supporters who say that they’re supporting Clinton for president mainly as a matter of opposing Trump.
LAWTON: The negativity among voters often takes on a moral dimension. Many people of faith are among those raising concerns about the rhetoric that has dominated the campaign.
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Here’s what the actual medical research you need to know about — from scientists, not lobbyists.
1. The research does not show that marijuana is harmless or OK.
2. Researchers at the University of Mississippi’s Natural Center for Natural Products Research have found that marijuana available today may be up to five times stronger than the stuff available back in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. Comparing “hippie pot” to today’s pot is like comparing beer to a bottle of vodka.
3. Medical researchers at Columbia University found that drivers who had used marijuana were more than twice as likely to have a car crash.
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Bishop of Egbu Diocese, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Geoffrey Enyinnaya Okorafor, has appealed to President Buhari, and all the lawmakers in the National Assembly (Senate and House of Representatives), to sincerely implement ‘Change Begins with Me’ measures towards recovering from the economic woes Nigeria has found itself, by slashing all their salaries and allowances.
He also in the theme of the synod, ‘The Fourth Man in The Furnace: X-raying the saving of power of God in all Circumstances”, condemned the proposed sale of national assets by the presidency.
The cleric expressed disgust over the huge earnings by the elected and appointed political office holders.
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Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander, chairperson of the Health and Human Service Committee, and Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau offered the only votes opposing the measure.
"The D.C. City Council has taken another step toward passing a fatally flawed bill that would legalize assisted suicide in Washington, D.C.," said Michael Scott, director of the D.C. Catholic Conference, which represents the public policy interests of the Catholic Church in the district. The conference joined a broad-based coalition of other groups in opposing the measure.
"This bill discriminates against our African-American and Hispanic neighbors, sick seniors, the disabled, the uninsured and all who are vulnerable in our community," Scott said in a statement after the vote. "Our coalition will continue to fight this bill, which has few safeguards to protect the vulnerable and does nothing to help the thousands of D.C. residents desperate for access to better health care and improved social services, such as counseling."
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Hillary Clinton has picked an awful time to hit one of the rough patches that has plagued her throughout the campaign. Now with just days to go until Election Day, there’s added uncertainty about the outcome. But while she may not be on the brink of an Electoral College win the size of Barack Obama’s in 2008 or even 2012, her position as the clear frontrunner in this race endures.
We’re holding at 272 “hard” Safe or Likely electoral votes for Clinton, and an additional 21 electoral votes leaning to her (Nevada and North Carolina). Trump is now at 214, better than Romney’s 2012 total of 206, but also without a clear path to add the 56 additional electoral votes he needs to get to 270. Again, even adding Florida, the two Toss-up House districts, and Leans Democratic North Carolina and Nevada would only get him to 266.
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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
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The combined debt held by U.S. public pension plans will top $1.7 trillion next year, according to a just-released report from Moody’s Investors Services.
This “pension tsunami” has already forced towns like Stockton, California and Detroit, Michigan into bankruptcy. Perhaps no government mismanaged their pension as badly as Puerto Rico, where a $43 billion pension debt forced the commonwealth to seek protection from the federal government after having defaulted on its obligations to bondholders — a default which is expected to spread to retirees in the form of benefit cuts.
While the disastrous outcome of Puerto Rico’s pension plan — which is projected to completely run out of assets by 2019 — represents the worst-case scenario, the same series of events that led to its demise can be found in most public pension plans nationwide.
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...the racism and anxiety that Mr Trump has exploited are, I believe, manifestations of an even deeper pathology — namely, the profound sense of unease that many Americans have about their lives. That unease often takes the form of resentment against elites, but, even more troublingly, it also funds the prejudice against minority groups and immigrants.
Resentment is another word for the unease that seems to grip good middle-class — mostly white — people who have worked hard all their lives and yet find that they are no better off than when they started. They deeply resent what they interpret as the special treatment that some receive in an effort to right the wrongs of the past.
All this is happening at the same time as the Church — at least, the mainstream Church — is struggling against a culture of consumption. Americans find that they have no good reason for going to church. The statistical decline of Christians has led some church leaders to think that our primary job is to find ways to increase church membership. At a time when Christians are seeking to say something confident and useful about “church growth”, what we communicate is superficial and simplistic. You do not need to come to church to be told that you need to be nice.
The Church has failed to help people to live in such a manner that they would want no other life than the life they have lived....
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