Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon




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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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


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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all (requires subscription).

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Estimates for the public services will be laid before you.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons:

Other measures will be laid before you.

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Consider some recent encroachments on liberty.

Read it all from the Boston Globe.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So why are people so gullible?

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

What do I mean?

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

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

Read it all.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Read it all.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.



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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all (requires subscription).

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon




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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all and follow the links.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Read it all.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mercy has been the animating force of Pope Francis’ three-year pontificate. And the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, which the Catholic Church has been celebrating since December, is the greatest expression of the pope’s interest. Millions of Catholics are taking the opportunity to renew their faith and receive plenary indulgences during what Francis has called “a true moment of encounter with the mercy of God.”

Vatican City’s judicial system, however, is not taking the year off. Msgr. Lucio Ángel Vallejo Balda has spent the Jubilee in a Vatican City jail cell, and he could face up to eight years behind bars for crimes against the Vatican City State. He and his co-defendants won’t be the first to be prosecuted by the world’s smallest state.

There are two types of courts within the Vatican: religious and civil. Religious courts punish heretical priests, for example, and their jurisdiction extends beyond the Vatican’s walls. Penalties follow the principle of salus animarum, the salvation of souls. They come in the form of invitations to repentance, expulsion from the priestly state or, in severe cases, excommunication.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeItaly* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 1, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishops and other prominent Christian figures have called on the new Work and Pensions Secretary, Stephen Crabb, to reverse cuts to welfare for the disabled.

Mr Crabb, a former Welsh Secretary, and a Christian, was promoted to the post after the departure of Iain Duncan Smith, who resigned saying that further planned cuts to disability benefit were a step too far. Mr Crabb reversed those cuts, which had been announced in the Budget by the Chancellor, George Osborne....

An open letter, signed by four bishops — including the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan; and the leader of the Iona Community, the Revd Peter MacDonald; and the directors of the think tank Ekklesia and the Centre for Welfare Reform — welcomes the reversal of cuts to Personal Independence Payments. Mr Crabb is urged, however, to go “even further”, and to reverse earlier changes to the payments, which are said to have left thousands of people housebound.

Read it all.

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

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Posted April 1, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Following last weekend’s bombing in Lahore, the British Government is being urged to put freedom of religion at the heart of its foreign policy.

The call came from the Religious Liberty Commission (RLC) of the Evangelical Alliance, who said the Government should increase staff and resources in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to increase its capacity in promoting and defending freedom of religion.

The RLC is made up of three Christian agencies: Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Open Doors and Release International, who have all reported on the persecution of Christians around the world.

In addition to policies and increased resources, the RLC is calling for an ‘extensive drive’ to develop religious literacy across Government departments.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted April 1, 2016 at 5:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has today called for a “tsunami of truth telling” about corrupt influence-peddling on government by business interests.

Makgoba made these comments while delivering an address to a graduation at the Witwatersrand University where he received an honorary degree.

He was responding to the Constitutional Court's judgment on Nkandla.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Southern Africa* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 31, 2016 at 5:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the real target is not Christianity but freedom. Nor is this a war. Wars are fought between nations, by armies, and the intended victims are combatants. Terrorists wear no uniforms, and their intended victims are innocent civilians. I for one will never forget the episode two weeks ago on the Ivory Coast where terrorists gunned down a five-year-old child begging for his life.

There have been ages of terror before, but never on this scale, and never with the kind of technology that has given the jihadists the ability to radicalise individuals throughout the world, some acting as lone wolves, others, like the attackers in Paris and Brussels, working in small groups, often involving family members.

The aim of Isil is political: to re-establish the Caliphate and make Islam once more an imperial power. But there is another aim shared by many jihadist groups: to silence anyone and anything that threatens to express a different truth, another faith, a different approach to religious difference. That is what lay behind the attacks on the Danish cartoons; on Catholics after a speech by Pope Benedict XVI; the murder of Theo van Gogh; and the attacks on Charlie Hebdo. The calculation of the terrorists is that, in the long run, the West will prove too tired to defend its own freedoms. They are prepared to keep committing atrocities for as long as it takes, decades if need be.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted March 30, 2016 at 5:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The suicide bombing Sunday in Pakistan's eastern city of Lahore, along with published comments attributed to the militant Muslim group that claimed to carry it out, have served to grimly underscore the precarious position of Pakistan's Christians.

At least 70 people were killed in the Easter attack, mostly women and children.

Ahsanullah Ahsan, spokesman for Jamaat-e-Ahrar, a breakaway Taliban faction in Pakistan, said the attack specifically targeted Christians.

Read it all.

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

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Posted March 28, 2016 at 5:39 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even Svante L. Myrick, the mayor of this city, thought the proposal sounded a little crazy, though it was put forth by a committee he had appointed. The plan called for establishing a site where people could legally shoot heroin — something that does not exist anywhere in the United States.

“Heroin is bad, and injecting heroin is bad, so how could supervised heroin injection be a good thing?” Mr. Myrick, a Democrat, said.

But he also knew he had to do something drastic to confront the scourge of heroin in his city in central New York. So he was willing to take a chance and embrace the radical notion, knowing well that it would provoke a backlash.

And it has.

Read it all.

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

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Posted March 23, 2016 at 3:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The first questions raised will focus on Belgium’s response to the problem on their home ground. Authorities may have scored a victory by capturing Salah Abdeslam, one of the Isis-aligned plotters linked to the Paris attacks, but they missed a network planning an atrocity with heavy weapons and explosives. This suggests gaps in the understanding and surveillance of the terrorist threat. Given that Brussels sits at the political heart of Europe, this points to a problem that can no longer be described as Belgian alone.

While for some the terrorist atrocities in Paris was a wake-up call, for security forces it had been expected for a while. Terrorist groups, from al-Qaeda to Isis, have long sought to launch a terrorist attack in the style of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, and a string of plots have been disrupted or launched from a francophone network emanating from Brussels. The Paris attack was the realisation of these fears from a depressingly predictable place.

The networks of radicalised individuals with links to Isis have grown as the group continues to hold sway on the battlefield and send back people and plots to their original bases in western Europe. Given the tempo of attacks and the ease with which the networks appear able to acquire weapons and move freely around the continent, Europeans will ask themselves how much longer they will face this threat. I

Read it all or there is another link here.

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Posted March 22, 2016 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If we ask what is driving this assault on the free exercise of religious conviction, the answer is that it is in large part driven by a human rights agenda which sees religion and human rights as antithetical not simply on specific issues, but across the board. As the legal scholar Louis Herkin puts it: ‘The human rights ideology is a fully secular and rational ideology whose very promise of success as a universal ideology depends on its secularity and rationality.’

In addition, there is also deep seated fear about religiously inspired violence. The growing threat of terrorist activity driven by an Islamist ideology has led many governments across the world, including the government in this country, to conclude that religion can be dangerous and that the best way to counteract this danger is seek to suppress the dissemination of ‘extremist’ religious ideas.

What this combination of a secular rights ideology and fear of Islamic terrorism is in danger of leading to, if indeed it has not led to it already, is the undermining of the very rights that human rights advocates and Western governments say that they support.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 21, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The head of the Anglican Church of Kenya Eliud Wabukala has called on Christians to be on the forefront in the fight against corruption.

Speaking in Nakuru on Saturday during the commissioning of an ultra-modern shopping mall, Wabukala urged Christians to desist from taking part in corruption so that they can be emulated by others.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Kenya* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 19, 2016 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Anyone who calls women “pigs,” “ugly,” “fat” and “pieces of a–” is not on my side. Anyone who mocks the handicapped is not on my side. Anyone who has argued the merits of a government takeover of banks, student loans, the auto industry and healthcare is not on my side. Anyone who has been on the cover of Playboy and proud of it, who brags of his sexual history with multiple women and who owns strip clubs in his casinos is not on my side. Anyone who believes the government can wrest control of the definition of marriage from the church is not on my side. Anyone who ignores the separation of powers and boasts of making the executive branch even more imperial is not on my side.

I’m a conservative. I believe in conserving the dignity of life. I believe in conserving respect for women. I believe in conserving the Constitution. I believe in conserving private property, religious liberty and human freedom. I believe in morality more than I do in money. I hold to principles more than I yearn for power. I trust my Creator more than I do human character. I’d like to think that all this, and more, makes me an informed and thoughtful citizen and voter. I’ve read, I’ve listened and I’ve studied and there is NOTHING, absolutely nothing, in this man’s track record that makes Donald Trump “on my side.”

I refuse to let my desire to win “trump” my moral compass. I will not sell my soul or my university’s to a political process that values victory more than virtue.

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture


Posted March 17, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A meme making the rounds on social media has much to say about the state of many Western nations today. Thus it has become quite popular to post it and share it. The short saying, attached to a picture of John Calvin, says this: “When God wants to judge a nation, He gives them wicked rulers”.

Now I realise that far too often stuff like this is passed around without any careful check to see if indeed it is so. I am sure I have been guilty at times of doing this as well. But often I do want to get to the bottom of a matter, and ascertain just what is accurate and what is not.

Since I have long had an interest in Calvin, and since the saying is a neat one, I wanted to make sure he did in fact say it. So I actually spent a bit of time sniffing around on this, as well as asking a few like-minded friends. After a day or two of digging around, the best I can come up with can be gleaned from two Calvin sources.

Neither one says exactly what this meme says, but both come pretty close.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted March 17, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. officials say Secretary of State John Kerry has determined that the Islamic State group is committing genocide against Christians and other minorities in Iraq and Syria.

Read it all.

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Posted March 17, 2016 at 6:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, might have helped prevent a sex abuser bishop being brought to justice for more than 20 years, a public inquiry has been told.

He allegedly failed to pass on "very detailed" allegations made in the early 1990s against the former Bishop of Lewes Peter Ball - who was jailed last year for abusing a string of boys and young men - it was claimed.

It was one of the reasons a "proper" police investigation into Ball's abuse was delayed for more than two decades, the inquiry into historic sexual abuse in England and Wales being overseen by Justice Lowell Goddard was told.

Read it all from the Telegraph.

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Posted March 16, 2016 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"We welcome the plans outlined in today's preliminary hearing by Justice Goddard, for the Anglican Church, as it examines the extent to which institutions and organisations in England and Wales have taken seriously their responsibility to protect children.

As a church we will be offering full cooperation and are committed to working in an open and transparent way, with a survivor-informed response. We are already reviewing our 2008 Past Cases Review, referred to in today's hearing.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesSexualityViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted March 16, 2016 at 2:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The groundswell of residents who opposed opening the Lowcountry’s offshore waters to drilling for oil and natural gas had help from an unlikely white knight: the Navy.

Federal regulators Tuesday removed the Southeast coast from a proposed final ruling on leasing new areas for the work.

The ruling did open more of the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic Ocean. It now goes to a 90-day public comment period and must be approved by Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.

The decision does not end the leasing process for seismic testing and exploratory drilling, but profit for that work is in fees paid by oil industry companies for the results, and the lease applications are widely expected to be dropped.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMilitary / Armed Forces* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 15, 2016 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Just as it is starting to turn the tide against Isil, Iraq is running out of money.

Behind the front lines of the Iraqi desert, where the Nineveh provincial police are training to retake their homes in and around Mosul, they are short of one thing: weapons.

“We have been regrouped here since the fall of Mosul,” said Major Ayman, standing over his line of men in blue uniforms. “We have been waiting here for five months but we have no weapons.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 13, 2016 at 5:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The House of Commons has defeated the Government’s attempt to relax Sunday trading restrictions. On Wednesday evening, MPs voted 317 to 286 to maintain the current rules.

Twenty-seven Conservative MPs defied the Government to vote against a proposal to give local authorities the power to extend Sunday trading hours.

They were joined by Labour and the Scottish National Party (SNP), who announced their opposition to the changes on Tuesday, after press reports had earlier suggested they would abstain or vote in favour. Although there are no Sunday trading restrictions in Scotland, and the Government’s plans affect only England and Wales, the SNP argued that allowing seven-day shopping across the UK would lower the premium pay-rates that Scottish workers currently receive for working on Sundays.

Read it all.

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

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Posted March 11, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A major report released Thursday by two US-based Christian organizations argues for including Iraqi, Syrian, and Libyan Christians as victims of genocide perpetrated by ISIS, ahead of a March 17 deadline for the US State Department to make a finding about whether, and to which categories of ISIS victims, the term “genocide” applies.

Although experts say a finding of genocide would not immediately trigger changes in US foreign policy or the acceptance of refugees and asylum seekers, it’s nevertheless important since both domestic and international law require that acts of genocide be investigated and those responsible indicted and prosecuted.

The 278-page report was released by the Knights of Columbus in partnership with “In Defense of Christians,” a US-based research and advocacy organization devoted to protecting Christians in the Middle East.

Read it all.


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Posted March 10, 2016 at 5:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The economy and dissatisfaction with the government, two issues regularly at the top of Gallup's monthly most important problem list, rank as Americans' top issues in March. Mentions of unemployment are in the double digits for a second consecutive month after hitting a seven-year low in January.

The results are based on Gallup's March 2-6 poll. Beyond the top three problems, at least 5% of Americans mention several other issues. These include immigration, healthcare, race relations, terrorism, the election and the federal budget deficit.

Mentions of the election, at 5%, are not high in an absolute sense, but they are the highest since Gallup began tracking the category in 2001. The prior high was 2% on several occasions, usually shortly after an election took place. Many of the responses in the current survey specifically mention Donald Trump and his role in the election. Those citing the election as the most important problem are primarily independents and Democrats.

Read it all.

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

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Posted March 10, 2016 at 7:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You never know what you’ll discover when you don protective gloves and pore over documents dating back to the 1800s.

A future U.S. president who had a hand in destroying St. John’s Anglican Church in an 1813 fire set by invading American soldiers.

An early figure in the historic Sandwich church who fathered a son through an extramarital affair with a former nun.

For the first time at the University of Windsor, the history department offered a course called public history designed to help connect a community to its past. A handful of students in the course who delved into the records of St. John’s Anglican Church in Sandwich made some interesting discoveries as they researched and created an online exhibit at Public History 497.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryHunger/MalnutritionReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Canada

1 Comments
Posted March 10, 2016 at 6:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Plans to overhaul Sunday trading laws in England and Wales have been dropped after they were rejected by MPs.

The Commons opposed proposals to allow councils to extend opening hours by 317 votes to 286, as 27 Tories rebelled.

Ministers had sought to limit the rebellion by promising to trial the changes in 12 areas but said afterwards they would respect MPs' views.

Critics of the plans said they would "chip away" at Sunday's special status and put undue pressure on workers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 10, 2016 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

They were young and relishing Brazil’s version of the American dream: buying a car, joining a church, starting a family.

With millions of others, they had climbed into the country’s expanding middle class. They had even moved into California, a neighborhood of strivers who had left the big, impoverished city nearby.

“It was that magical moment when everything seemed possible,” said Germana Soares, 24.

Then, in the sixth month of Ms. Soares’s pregnancy, the couple discovered how quickly their fortunes, like those of their nation, could change. A routine exam showed that their son weighed much less than he should. Doctors worried that he, like hundreds of other Brazilian babies born in recent months, had microcephaly, an incurable condition in which infants have abnormally small heads.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentarySouth AmericaBrazil* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* General InterestPhotos/Photography

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Posted March 8, 2016 at 11:48 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

That there's no gender neutral singular pronouns in English makes it difficult to convey the complexities of identity as we understand it in 2015. But a new entry on Dictionary.com is proving that language - like attitudes - does evolve.

The honorific Mx has been kicking around since the 1970s, but has seen a resurgence of late, which is reflected by its entry into the online dictionary on Tuesday. According to Time, the 'M' comes from the traditional prefixes 'Mr' or 'Miss', and the 'x' signifies an unknown entity, the same way it does in algebra.

Whether you're cis, genderfluid, agender, bigender or you just don't particularly feel the need to proclaim your gender to everyone, Mx fits the bill.

Read it all.

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

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


Posted March 8, 2016 at 11:44 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two rival campaigns have been established to persuade Christians how to vote in the EU referendum.

Christians for Britain has been set up by Canon Giles Fraser, Priest-in-Charge of St Mary’s, Newington, in south London, a former canon at St Paul’s Cathedral and Church Times columnist, and Adrian Hilton, who runs the blog Archbishop Cranmer, to urge a “Leave” vote on 23 June.

Shortly after it came into being, the Very Revd Michael Sadgrove, who retired as Dean of Durham last year, established a group, Christians for the EU, to urge a vote to “Remain”.

Both organisations are, at present, little more than websites and social-media accounts, but they intend to hold public meetings and debates in the build-up to the referendum in June.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted March 8, 2016 at 11:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mr Trump does not draw on traditions of European totalitarianism or even appear to know anything about them. He is not consumed with historical grievances; he is not an anti-Semite; he has not tried to build a mass party; and he does not demand the restoration of tradition or an old moral order. Indeed, as a reality television star and cyber-bully on his third trophy wife, he is a good illustration of the breakdown of any moral order possibly remaining.

Rather, Mr Trump represents what autocratic attitudes look like in a modern American context. He is unfriendly towards the free market, the free press, and the free exercise of religion while paying lip service to these values. He is xenophobic, conspiratorial in his worldview, admiring of violence and torture, contemptuous of the weak and unwilling to tolerate criticism or peaceful dissent — but all in the name of correcting excesses of tolerance. Various global and historical comparisons shed light on his style and thinking: Juan Perón, Charles de Gaulle, Silvio Berlusconi, Vladimir Putin. But Mr Trump isn’t importing Latin caudillismo or Russian despotism. He bullies those who resist him in the contemporary vernacular of American celebrity culture.

This is why those arguing that Mr Trump’s policies are more moderate than those of his rivals Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio miss the point. Mr Trump’s authoritarianism is an amalgam not of left and right but of wacko left and wacko right: he thinks that George W Bush was to blame for 9/11 and that Muslims should be barred from the US. Believing both of those things does not make Mr Trump a centrist; it makes him an eclectic extremist. When it comes to policies, he has none in the conventional sense.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistory* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Europe* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The resolution on genocide, introduced by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Nebraska, "expresses the sense of Congress that the atrocities committed by ISIS against Christians, Yezidis, and other ethnic and religious minorities constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide."

"ISIS commits mass murder, beheadings, crucifixions, rape, torture, enslavement and the kidnapping of children, among other atrocities," said the committee's chairman, Rep. Ed Royce, R-California. "ISIS has said it will not allow the continued existence of the Yezidi. And zero indigenous Christian communities remain in areas under ISIS control."

The Islamic State "is guilty of genocide and it is time we speak the truth about their atrocities. I hope the administration and the world will do the same, before it's too late," Royce added.

Read it all.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It’s the rest of it that is so deeply troubling. I have spoken with parents who have told me they don’t let their kids watch the debates because they don’t want them to think that that is an acceptable way for adults to behave. I’ve spoken with high school principals who have told me that their students see little use for politics except as a punchline. I myself wondered whether a single young person watching this spectacle would be moved to enter public service. Would any one of them think that this is a noble calling that is worthy of the best in ourselves?

Over this last weekend, after Donald Trump called Ted Cruz “a liar” and Marco Rubio “a choke artist,” Mr. Rubio pushed back by mocking Mr. Trump’s appearance, the size of his fingers and even the size of his genitalia. Mr. Rubio’s crowds cheered him on, much like first-century Romans at a gladiatorial contest. The media, meanwhile, who share a hefty size of the blame for our descent into gutter politics, sat back in faux-shock, pretending not to know how all this came to be.

When the major candidates for president of the United States are saying and doing such things and are then rewarded for it in poll after poll, then I no longer recognize my own country. Like my father, I don’t know whom I’ll vote for. A pro-life, pro-immigration, economic liberal who is no fan of guns but still a constitutional originalist has no natural home in either party. My father, I suspect, is now similarly homeless. But he would likely say that he didn’t leave the Republican party. The party left him.

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted March 3, 2016 at 5:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Donald Trump rode a powerful tide of voter fury to victories across the country on Tuesday, ending the campaign season’s most momentous day of balloting as the unrivaled favorite for the Republican presidential nomination.

The billionaire mogul’s Super Tuesday rout extended from New England to the Deep South, but he resoundingly lost the night’s crown jewel, Texas, to home-state Sen. Ted Cruz, who also defeated Trump in Alaska and Oklahoma.

Tuesday’s results exposed some vulnerabilities for Trump: He lost late­-deciding voters in many states by wide margins to rival Marco Rubio, a sign that the senator from Florida may have had some impact with his withering assault on Trump’s character. Ohio Gov. John Kasich also came close to beating Trump in Vermont.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 2, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Supporting efforts to resettle vulnerable Syrian refugees is part of the Church of England's mission alongside its work with food banks, street pastors and debt advice services, one its leading bishops says today.

Writing in a blog, Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford, says church groups can provide the 'welcoming flesh on the bones' to efforts by local authorities and other agencies to resettle vulnerable Syrian refugees.

"We are talking about a careful, realistic, grown-up setting about the task of welcoming Syrian refugees, just people in extreme need with all the complexities and riches of any human being. This is not the church saying 'look at us being charitable', but the people of God letting their deeds speak for Him," he writes.

Read it all.

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2 Comments
Posted February 29, 2016 at 3:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We live in a big, diverse society. There are essentially two ways to maintain order and get things done in such a society — politics or some form of dictatorship. Either through compromise or brute force. Our founding fathers chose politics.

Politics is an activity in which you recognize the simultaneous existence of different groups, interests and opinions. You try to find some way to balance or reconcile or compromise those interests, or at least a majority of them. You follow a set of rules, enshrined in a constitution or in custom, to help you reach these compromises in a way everybody considers legitimate.

The downside of politics is that people never really get everything they want. It’s messy, limited and no issue is ever really settled. Politics is a muddled activity in which people have to recognize restraints and settle for less than they want.
But that’s sort of the beauty of politics, too....

Read it all.

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1 Comments
Posted February 28, 2016 at 5:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Host Bob Abernethy and managing editor Kim Lawton talk about the moral dimensions of the migrant crisis with Michel Gabaudan, president of Refugees International, and Mark Smith, senior director for humanitarian emergencies at the Christian group World Vision. Says Gabaudan, “At the end of the Second World War to try to prevent the resurge into the horrors we saw at the time, the community of nations did agree to a certain number of international instruments to be more generous to civilians caught in conflict, and the international humanitarian law was precisely trying to put some rules to how we conduct war and to protect civilians. These have been absolutely violated by the Assad regime, to a large extent by the Russians in indiscriminate bombings, to a lesser extent but still by some of the other groups fighting there. And the second set of regulations was one to protect refugees. The Refugee Convention oblige the state to sign it to receive people who flee for their protection, and we’re seeing in Europe where almost all the countries sign the convention that this is not how they are reacting at present. So we failed the Syrians.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 27, 2016 at 3:22 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I keep thinking of how Donald Trump got to be the very likely Republican nominee. There are many answers and reasons, but my thoughts keep revolving around the idea of protection. It is a theme that has been something of a preoccupation in this space over the years, but I think I am seeing it now grow into an overall political dynamic throughout the West.

There are the protected and the unprotected. The protected make public policy. The unprotected live in it. The unprotected are starting to push back, powerfully.

The protected are the accomplished, the secure, the successful—those who have power or access to it. They are protected from much of the roughness of the world. More to the point, they are protected from the world they have created. Again, they make public policy and have for some time.

I want to call them the elite to load the rhetorical dice, but let’s stick with the protected.

They are figures in government, politics and media....

Read it all.

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

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


Posted February 27, 2016 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The debate on Britain’s membership of the European Union reflects a loss of confidence, and is testing the goodwill of other members who are growing frustrated with it, the Bishop in Europe, Dr Robert Innes, said this week.

Speaking on Tuesday, after the Prime Minister’s announcement last Friday that the referendum on EU membership would take place on 23 June, Dr Innes said that he would be “very sad” if the vote favoured Brexit.

“We British inherit a huge stock of goodwill towards us but I am aware that that goodwill is being used up,” Dr Innes said on Wednesday. “At a time when Europe has some huge issues to deal with, people have been a little frustrated that Britain has actually used a huge amount of the time of its leadership in dealing with what seem to some rather small issues that only pertain to one country.”

He was “saddened”, he said, “that the debate seems to reflect a loss of confidence in Britain in dealing with our European compatriots and neighbours. We are a big player. . . I’d like to see us be a leader.”

Read it all.

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

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Posted February 26, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

AS THE EU Referendum was officially announced on Saturday rival Christian groups have entered the debate setting out their cases.

Co-Chair of Christians for Britain, Giles Fraser, Tweeted: The ‘In campaign seems to be little more than we’d be a few quid better off. Tawdry. Sovereignty and democracy shouldn’t be for sale.”

The ecumenical ‘Christians4Britain’ website, launched earlier this month, says it is a cross-party campaign representing British Christians who believe an EU exit would be better for Britain.

Read it all.

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

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Posted February 25, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We’ve been at the heart of the ‘Aiming for A’ engagement initiative, which successfully filed shareholder resolutions at the BP and Shell AGMs last year. These companies were keen to work with us and our partners, and recommended that shareholders approve the resolutions. The companies are now legally required to step up their reporting of their strategic response to the challenges – and opportunities – posed to their businesses by climate change. This was an excellent example of what investors and companies can achieve when they work together. On the back of similar engagement, Aiming for A has filed more resolutions in the UK mining sector for this year’s AGMs which have been received by the companies in the same spirit.

Sadly, not all companies are responding constructively to the urgent need to mitigate climate change. We’ve been working with the New York State pension fund in the US to file a resolution at ExxonMobil in the United States. Rather than working with us to provide the reporting that institutional investors require, Exxon have gone to the US regulator – the Securities and Exchange Commission – to try to get the resolution struck off so that shareholders do not get the opportunity vote on it at Exxon’s AGM later this year. This week New York State have written to the SEC to ask them to deny this request, and to make sure that shareholders can indicate to Exxon’s board their desire for fuller reporting on the implications of climate change policy.

We are extremely disappointed that even after the Paris climate change agreement ExxonMobil has contested the relevance of the resolution we have co-filed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock MarketEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 25, 2016 at 5:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

To be blunt: The last thing this funeral Mass was about was "spirituality." So search the [New York] Times story and look for the role that terms such as "Christian" and "Catholic" played in its contents. What about "Jesus," you ask? Forget about it.

The strongest religious language in the [New York] Times piece linked a kind of vague, Americanized faith with a nod to current fights over religious liberty.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyMediaReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyChristologyEschatologySoteriology

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Posted February 23, 2016 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The liberation of towns from the Islamic State has had the surprising effect on my Iraqi friends of making them more despondent than they were before. When they are asked when things will turn around, they shrug and say Allah karim, akin to the English expression “when pigs fly.” Just after Sinjar was “liberated,” my former student from there sent me pictures of his family’s Friday lunch spread before and after they devoured it, labeling them Sinjar “before liberation” and “after liberation.”

Iraq is now face-to-face with the classic “day after” dilemma. Many of its towns are demolished and there is no money to rebuild. There is no agreement on which groups should secure and govern the areas and who gets to go back. The most visceral and volatile barrier is the newfound distrust among the local populations of liberated areas, who see one another as collaborators, bystanders or victims of the Islamic State. Left unattended, these “day after” dynamics will — and have already — lead to internecine conflict and political gridlock that will undermine battlefield victories, similar to what happened in 2010 when military successes of the Sahwa, or Sunni Awakening militias, against Al Qaeda in Iraq were squandered due to a lack of lasting national and local political deals.

This is evident in Iraq’s disputed post-IS territories, where both the Kurdistan regional government in Erbil and the Iraqi federal government in Baghdad feel they have greater claims than ever before....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsIraq WarPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 22, 2016 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It's a rare insight into her religious beliefs – and a touching tribute to the beloved father she lost.

In a new book, the Queen writes of her enduring Christian faith and shares a treasured memory of the moment George VI prayed for the nation during the Second World War.

It comes in a forthcoming book from The Bible Society, published to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday later this year.

Read it all.

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

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Posted February 22, 2016 at 7:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In all honesty, I find myself wanting to hit someone, if only to awaken him. This primary season is revealing an astounding blindness in the members of our ruling class, both Right and Left, as well as a remarkable lack of self-criticism. Donald Trump should be no surprise. He’s made in their image.

Read it all.

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

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


Posted February 20, 2016 at 4:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Voters headed to the polls Saturday in the Republican primary contest here, the first in the South, as front-runner Donald Trump looked to hold off rivals in a still-crowded GOP field.

The final days of campaigning in state featured allegations and counterclaims of dirty tricks, long a tradition in the state. At the same time, Mr. Trump continued to dominate headlines and flirt with fresh controversy, calling for a boycott of Apple Inc. on Friday over phone encryption, just after he appeared to make peace following a spat with the Vatican and softened his attacks over the runup to the Iraq War.

In South Carolina, Mr. Trump was the top pick of 28% of likely Republican primary voters, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Marist poll held in the final days before Saturday’s election.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 20, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The General Synod has called on the Government to initiate “a full independent review” of its “highly punitive” benefit sanctioning system.

The call came in a debate on a motion that originated in the Airedale Deanery Synod in the diocese of Leeds. During the debate, the Synod heard a catalogue of examples of how sanctions had been “inappropriate and disproportionately” applied to claimants of Jobseeker’s Allowance.

The Archdeacon of Sheffield, the Ven. Malcolm Chamberlain, said that these included the case of a lady who “had been sanctioned for attending a funeral; she had informed the authorities of this in advance,” and another who missed an appointment because they were “dealing with the police after a burglary in their home during the night”.

Read it all.

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

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Posted February 19, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A majority of people killed by euthanasia in the Netherlands for so-called psychiatric reasons had complained of loneliness, a new study has found.

Researchers in the U.S. found that loneliness, or “social isolation”, was a key motivation behind the euthanasia requests of 37 of 66 cases reviewed, a figure representing 56 per cent of the total.

The study by the National Institute of Health also revealed that the Netherlands was operating a de facto policy of euthanasia on demand, with patients “shopping” for doctors willing to give them a lethal injection for the most trivial of reasons.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsPsychology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeThe Netherlands* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted February 19, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“He was a man. Take him for all in all. [We] shall not look upon his like again.” Those words from Hamlet seem appropriate on the death of US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. He had a powerful effect on the Court and on the law more broadly. Scalia was the most eloquent and prominent proponent of the idea that the Constitution should be interpreted according to the “original meaning” of its words: the meaning they had at the time of their adoption. He argued, in his inimitable style, for a “dead Constitution”—whose meaning is fixed until changed by formal amendment—over a “living Constitution” that a judge can manipulate into whatever shape he wishes.

Moreover, except for Ruth Ginsburg, it is hard to imagine another justice becoming so visible in the broader culture. Many who hated Scalia’s rulings could not help but be entertained by his razor-sharp writing, which he used especially in his dissenting opinions to carve up the majority’s reasoning (my favorite is Planned Parenthood v. Casey, where among other things he referred to the majority’s “Nietzschean vision of us unelected, life-tenured judges—leading a Volk who will be ‘tested by following’” the Court’s rulings obediently). In a talk at my law school last November, he said that he wrote his dissents “mainly for you guys, for law students.” His eloquence inspired generations of lawyers and students convinced by his judicial philosophy.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralSupreme Court* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 18, 2016 at 11:24 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Correctly, we suspect that the system is rigged, our government has become coin-operated and that we’ve been sidelined,” Wendell Potter and Nick Penniman write in their eye-opening new book about money in politics, “Nation on the Take.” They call for a “profound course correction,” like those the United States has periodically undertaken before.

So it’s healthy for American voters to be demanding change. But when societies face economic pain, they sometimes turn to reforms, and other times to scapegoats (like refugees this year). So the historic question for 2016 is which direction the popular revolt among American voters will ultimately take.

Read it all.

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

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


Posted February 18, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Georgia House of Representatives [last] Thursday passed, in a 161-0 vote, a bill known as the “Pastor Protection Act,” to reassure clergy they will not be forced to perform same-sex weddings. The vote is unlikely to end debate over as many as nine other bills meant to expand religious freedom that are currently pending in the Georgia legislature.

In a rare speech before the chamber, House Speaker David Ralston called for lawmakers to come together.

“It is my hope on an issue of this importance, and charged with such deep emotion, that this bill can be the first productive discussion,” he said.

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted February 17, 2016 at 4:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In Uganda, during the eight years in the 1970's when Idi Amin and his men slaughtered probably half a million Ugandans, "We live today and are gone tomorrow" was the common phrase.

We learned that living in danger, when the Lord Jesus is the focus of your life, can be liberating. For one thing, you are no longer imprisoned by your own security, because there is none. So the important security that people sought was to be anchored in God.

As we testified to the safe place we had in Jesus, many people who had been pagan, or were on the fringes of Christianity, flocked to the church or to individuals, asking earnestly, "How do you prepare yourself for death?" Churches all over the country were packed both with members and seekers. This was no comfort to President Amin, who was making wild promises to Libya and other Arab nations that Uganda would soon be a Muslim country. (It is actually 80 per cent Christian)....

It became clear to us through the Scriptures that our resistance was to be that of overcoming evil with good. This included refusing to cooperate with anything that dehumanizes people, but we reaffirmed that we can never be involved in using force or weapons.

...we knew, of course, that the accusation against our beloved brother, Archbishop Janani Luwum, that he was hiding weapons for an armed rebellion, was untrue, a frame-up to justify his murder.

The archbishop's arrest, and the news of his death, was a blow from the Enemy calculated to send us reeling. That was on February 16, 1977. The truth of the matter is that it boomeranged on Idi Amin himself. Through it he lost respect in the world and, as we see it now, it was the beginning of the end for him.

For us, the effect can best be expressed in the words of the little lady who came to arrange flowers, as she walked through the cathedral with several despondent bishops who were preparing for Archbishop Luwum's Memorial Service. She said, "This is going to put us twenty times forward, isn't it?" And as a matter of fact, it did.

More than four thousand people walked, unintimidated, past Idi Amin's guards to pack St. Paul's Cathedral in Kampala on February 20. They repeatedly sang the "Martyr's Song," which had been sung by the young Ugandan martyrs in 1885. Those young lads had only recently come to know the Lord, but they loved Him so much that they could refuse the evil thing demanded of them by King Mwanga. They died in the flames singing, "Oh that I had wings such as angels have, I would fly away and be with the Lord." They were given wings, and the singing of those thousands at the Memorial Service had wings too.

--Festo Kivengere, Revolutionary Love, Chapter Nine

[See here for further information, and, through the wonders of the modern world, you may also find a copy online there].

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Uganda* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaUganda* TheologyChristologyEschatologySoteriology

1 Comments
Posted February 17, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Why is the Middle East in flames and Russia on the rampage? In both Europe and the Middle East, it is common to hear the blame placed on Barack Obama. The US president, it is charged, is a weak and disengaged leader who has allowed international events to get out of control. Many Americans — both liberals and conservatives — make the same accusation. Sarah Palin, darling of the American right, has called Mr Obama “capitulator-in-chief”. Roger Cohen, a New York Times columnist, has blamed Syria’s agony on the “fecklessness and purposelessness” of the Obama administration.

Those who yearn for a more muscular US foreign policy often assume that Mr Obama will prove to be an aberration — and that the next president will “put America back in the game”. But that could well be a misreading of the underlying direction of US politics and foreign policy. The current frontrunners in the presidential election campaign — Donald Trump on the Republican side and Bernie Sanders for the Democrats — have embraced ideas that are isolationist, in all but name. If those ideas prevail, they would make Mr Obama look like a super-engaged internationalist.

Even if Mr Trump and Mr Sanders never get close to the White House, the popularity of their campaigns, and their influence on the more mainstream candidates, suggests that there is now a strong constituency in the US for a retreat from globalism: repudiating international military and economic commitments.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 16, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon


By the article establishing the executive department it is made the duty of the President "to recommend to your consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." The circumstances under which I now meet you will acquit me from entering into that subject further than to refer to the great constitutional charter under which you are assembled, and which, in defining your powers, designates the objects to which your attention is to be given. It will be more consistent with those circumstances, and far more congenial with the feelings which actuate me, to substitute, in place of a recommendation of particular measures, the tribute that is due to the talents, the rectitude, and the patriotism which adorn the characters selected to devise and adopt them. In these honorable qualifications I behold the surest pledges that as on one side no local prejudices or attachments, no separate views nor party animosities, will misdirect the comprehensive and equal eye which ought to watch over this great assemblage of communities and interests, so, on another, that the foundation of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality, and the preeminence of free government be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the affections of its citizens and command the respect of the world. I dwell on this prospect with every satisfaction which an ardent love for my country can inspire, since there is no truth more thoroughly established than that there exists in the economy and course of nature an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness; between duty and advantage; between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity; since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained; and since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered, perhaps, as deeply, as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.

Read it all.

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

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Posted February 15, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...this goes hand in hand with the general decline of America’s faith in its institutions. We feel less respect for almost all of them—the church, the professions, the presidency, the Supreme Court. The only formal national institution that continues to score high in terms of public respect (72% in the most recent Gallup poll) is the military.

A few years ago I gave a lecture to a class at West Point, the text of which was: You are entering the only U.S. institution left standing. Your prime responsibility throughout your careers will be to keep it respected. I then told them about the Dreyfus case. They had not heard of it. I explained how that scandal rocked public faith in a previously exalted institution, the French army, doing it and France lasting damage. And so your personal integrity is of the utmost importance, I said, as day by day that integrity creates the integrity of the military. The cadets actually listened to that part.

I mention this to say we are in a precarious position in the U.S. with so many of our institutions going down. Many of those pushing against the system have no idea how precarious it is or what they will be destroying. Those defending it don’t know how precarious its position is or even what they’re defending, or why. But people lose respect for a reason.

Read it all.

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

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Posted February 13, 2016 at 4:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The world has entered a “new cold war,” Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Saturday, as he held out an olive branch to western powers, urging conciliation.

“Sometimes I think, are we in 2016 or 1962?” Mr Medvedev asked, in a speech that reeled off the long list of familiar Russian grievances — from Nato expansion to western regime change projects — but also included some of the firmest calls for rapprochement with Europe and the US since Moscow’s annexation of Crimea two years ago.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UKEuropeRussia* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 13, 2016 at 12:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We toiling workers can allow ourselves a wry smile. For most of the last eight years the owners of wealth and inflated assets have had things their own way, while the real economy has been left behind.

The tables are finally turning. The world may look absolutely ghastly if your metric is the stock market, but it is much the same or slightly better if you are at the coal face.

The MSCI index of world equities has fallen almost 20pc since its all-time high in May of 2015, implying a $14 trillion loss of paper wealth. Yet the world economy has carried on at more or less the same anemic pace, and the OECD's global leading indicators show no sign that it is suddenly rolling over now.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceStock MarketThe U.S. GovernmentFederal ReserveEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChinaEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 11, 2016 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last month, the archbishops of the Anglican Communion voted to temporarily kick the American branch of the Communion, the Episcopal Church, out of its international association to a degree for its acceptance of gays and lesbians.
Two-thirds of the 37 leaders of the Communion voted for the censorship, suspending the Episcopal Church from voting and decision-making for the next three years.
While the decision is said to have derived from the Episcopal Church’s decision in July of last year to allow its priests to perform same-sex marriages, Father Joe Mikel, priest at St. Timothy Episcopal Church in Chehalis, agrees with the Episcopal Church’s acceptance.
“If you’re gay, a lesbian, transgender human being, do I throw you on the ash heap of life?” Mikel asked. “Are they human beings? Do they need love? Do they long for inclusion and forgiveness … just like me?”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: Primary Source-- Statements & Letters: PrimatesArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican PrimatesPrimates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016Episcopal Church (TEC)TEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted February 11, 2016 at 11:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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