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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon ordered a curfew Saturday in the city of Ferguson and declared a state of emergency after fresh violence erupted overnight amid public anger over the shooting death of an unarmed young black man by a white police officer.
The curfew will run from midnight to 5 a.m., starting Saturday night.
“This is a test,” Nixon said at a news conference, saying “the eyes of the world” are watching to see how the city handles the aftermath of the Aug. 9 death of Michael Brown, 18.
The announcement comes after community activists had taken to the streets and social media Saturday in hopes of preventing another night of looting and violence in Ferguson after at least three businesses fell victim to a predawn rampage by young men who targeted local stores as others tried desperately to stop them.
Read it all and join us in praying for all invovled.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Children Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Marriage & Family Race/Race Relations Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General City Government State Government * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
...to demand that a work be “relatable” expresses a different expectation: that the work itself be somehow accommodating to, or reflective of, the experience of the reader or viewer. The reader or viewer remains passive in the face of the book or movie or play: she expects the work to be done for her. If the concept of identification suggested that an individual experiences a work as a mirror in which he might recognize himself, the notion of relatability implies that the work in question serves like a selfie: a flattering confirmation of an individual’s solipsism.
To appreciate “King Lear”—or even “The Catcher in the Rye” or “The Fault in Our Stars”—only to the extent that the work functions as one’s mirror would make for a hopelessly reductive experience. But to reject any work because we feel that it does not reflect us in a shape that we can easily recognize—because it does not exempt us from the active exercise of imagination or the effortful summoning of empathy—is our own failure. It’s a failure that has been dispiritingly sanctioned by the rise of “relatable.” In creating a new word and embracing its self-involved implications, we have circumscribed our own critical capacities. That’s what sucks, not Shakespeare.
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On a clear, Sunny July morning, as churchgoers all around Houston take to their pews, dozens of nonbelievers are finding seats inside a meeting room in a corporate conference center on the city’s west side to listen to a sermon about losing faith. But first there’s the weekly “community moment”–remarks on a chosen topic delivered by the group’s executive director, this time focused on how we’re hardwired to read sensationalized news–as well as announcements about an upcoming secular summer camp. In between, a musician sings softly of Albert Einstein.
The men speaking before the assembled gathering–executive director Mike Aus, who regularly leads the group, and Jerry DeWitt, a visitor who heads a similar gathering in Louisiana–are both deeply familiar with the idea of Sunday ritual. Just a few years ago, they were Christian ministers active in the pulpit. Today they’re both nonbelievers leading secular Sunday services.
This is Houston Oasis, a church that’s not a church. It was started in September 2012...
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Atheism
The Christ Church congregation listened in silence as Canon Andrew White talked about one of his parishioners who had been visiting Mosul when Isis overran it. After the jihadis had robbed this widow of her life savings they forced her wedding ring from her fingers. She was lucky. The ring came off. People with stickier rings have had their fingers chopped in half, then been ordered to flee to save their lives.
Many haven’t saved theirs. On his Facebook page Andrew White told of a Christian family of eight who had been shot through their faces after refusing to renounce their faith. A photo that was too horrific for him to publish captured the blood-soaked scene and the family Bible on the couch — still open but never to be read by them again. Elsewhere in Mosul there is a park where the heads of children who’ve been cut in half are put on a stick to warn others that anyone, however young, who refuses to convert to Islam will be put to the sword.
Mr White didn’t stay in Guildford for long. He keeps returning to the most dangerous place on earth and his explanation is simple: you can’t abandon the people you love. It is to the enormous shame of Britain and America that we did not live by the Andrew White principle. America stayed in Germany and South Korea for decades to help to ensure they became the stable nations that they are today. Iraq needed a similar level of commitment. It didn’t get it.
Read it all (if you click on the picture it enlarges).
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General Office of the President President George Bush President Barack Obama Terrorism * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. England / UK * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Hoping that "the name of Christ will not continue to be dishonored," the Acts 29 church planting network founded by Mark Driscoll has removed the Seattle pastor and his Mars Hill megachurch from membership.
“It is our conviction that the nature of the accusations against Mark, most of which have been confirmed by him, make it untenable and unhelpful to keep Mark and Mars Hill in our network,” said Acts 29 in an online statement signed by Matt Chandler and other board members of the network of 500 churches.
Acts 29 came to the drastic decision "with deep sorrow," according to the statement. "In taking this action, our prayer is that it will encourage the leadership of Mars Hill to respond in a distinctive and godly manner so that the name of Christ will not continue to be dishonored."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Books Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
President Barack Obama on Saturday signaled the likelihood of an enduring U.S. military involvement in Iraq, but said airstrikes and other aid would only keep a lid on the crisis until the country's leaders form an inclusive government able to confront the threat from extremists.
"Ultimately, only Iraqis can ensure the security and stability of Iraq," Mr. Obama said from the White House's south lawn. "The U.S. can't do it for them."
Mr. Obama spoke to reporters for the first time since the U.S. launched airstrikes in northern Iraq. The president authorized military and humanitarian operations on Thursday to support Kurdish forces trying to halt the Sunni extremist group calling itself the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General Office of the President President Barack Obama * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Middle East Iraq * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Jose Gomez was born in Mexico. He grew up to become a Catholic priest and moved to the U.S. Now he is Archbishop of Los Angeles. And he's been thinking for years about immigrants who fill the pews.
JOSE GOMEZ: We can be a beautiful example for the whole world. What Los Angeles is now is the way the world is going to be, in my mind - with the movements of people.
INSKEEP: People speak more than 40 languages in the archdiocese, which says it serves five million Catholics. Taking office in 2010, Archbishop Gomez confronted a sex abuse scandal. Now he wants to focus on a long-standing passion, immigration. He wrote a book on it, quoting both the Bible and Thomas Jefferson. When we visited his office, he said he wants generous treatment for Central American children now crossing the border.
GOMEZ: It seems that sometimes we see these young immigrants coming by themselves as a threat for our country. When, in reality, they're just looking for safety and for a place where they can grow up as normal, healthy, and good and strong members of society. I think our concern, in the Church, was that we will send them back right away, without really giving them the opportunity to (unintelligible) their situation.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Immigration Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The United States dropped food and other supplies by air to besieged Iraqi civilians Thursday and President Obama authorized possible airstrikes against Sunni Muslim extremists who punctured Kurdish defenses in a powerful offensive in northern Iraq.
Obama, in a late-night statement delivered at the White House, said that strikes would be launched against extremist convoys “should they move toward” the Kurdish capital of Irbil. “We intend to take action if they threaten our facilities anywhere in Iraq . . . including Irbil and Baghdad,” he said.
The authorization for airdrops, an initial round of which was completed just before Obama spoke, and for potential airstrikes was a major new development in the Iraq crisis that began in early June.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Terrorism * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Middle East Iraq * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Two Americans with Ebola received at least half of the world's supply of a drug that might be able to change the course of the deadly virus.
Some people are asking how to allocate additional doses of this drug and whether it was ethical to give those drugs to American missionaries when they weren't available to West Africans suffering from or fighting the outbreak.
The World Health Organization will convene a panel of medical ethicists early next week to discuss the use of such experimental treatments. The group will probably decide how to allocate medications should more become available.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Health & Medicine Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Expressing concern that his summer vacation is too quickly passing him by, local incoming seventh-grader Matthew Valentine told reporters Tuesday he now has just two weeks left in which to acquire a cool new identity before school starts.
The 13-year-old acknowledged that he must dedicate all his remaining free time to developing a socially acceptable persona he can display to his classmates, noting that he still has a lot of work to do if he is to assemble a recognizable combination of attitudes, style choices, interests, and favorite bands that will win his peers’ approval during the upcoming school year.
“The clock is ticking, and I still haven’t figured out who I’m going to be yet,” said Valentine, adding that he hopes to remake himself as a popular kid, a scenester, a rebel, a hip-hop head, or a member of some other respected social category prior to his first day of classes at Thomas Jefferson Middle School.
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Still scarred by a recession that ended five years ago, Americans are registering record levels of anxiety about the opportunities available to younger generations and are pessimistic about the nation's long-term prospects, directing their blame at elected leaders in Washington.
A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that despite the steady pace of hiring in recent months, 76% of adults lack confidence that their children's generation will have a better life than they do—an all-time high. Some 71% of adults think the country is on the wrong track, a leap of 8 points from a June survey, and 60% believe the U.S. is in a state of decline.
What's more, seven in 10 adults blamed the malaise more on Washington leaders than on any deeper economic trends, and 79% expressed some level of dissatisfaction with the American political system.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Psychology Sociology * Economics, Politics Economy Politics in General House of Representatives Office of the President President Barack Obama Senate * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
A rush of newly insured patients using health services has boosted hospital operators' fortunes but has racked up costs that insurers didn't anticipate, corporate filings and interviews with executives show.
People are getting more back surgeries, seeking maternity care and showing up at emergency rooms more frequently, executives say, boosting income for hospital operators.
At Tenet Healthcare Corp....patient volumes rose 4% in the second quarter compared with a year earlier, while uninsured inpatient admissions slid 22%....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
We lost our innocence in the fall of our first parents, and our return to it is through the redemption which was brought about by Christ’s death and by our slow participation in it. Sentimentality is a skipping of this process in its concrete reality and an early arrival at a mock state of innocence, which strongly suggests its opposite. Pornography, on the other hand, is essentially sentimental, for it leaves out the connection of sex with its hard purposes, disconnects it from its meaning in life and makes it simply an experience for its own sake.
Many well-grounded complaints have been made about religious literature on the score that it tends to minimize the importance and dignity of life here and now in favor of life in the next world or in favor of miraculous manifestations of grace. When fiction is made according to its nature, it should reinforce our sense of the supernatural by grounding it in concrete observable reality. If the writer uses his eyes in the real security of his faith, he will be obliged to use them honestly and his sense of mystery and his acceptance of it will be increased. To look at the worst will be for him no more than an act of trust in God; but what is one thing for the writer may be another for the reader. What leads the writer to his salvation may lead the reader into sin, and the Catholic writer who looks at this possibility directly looks the Medusa in the face and is turned to stone.
By now anyone who has faced the problem is equipped with Mauriac’s advice: "purify the source." And along with it he has become aware that while he is attempting to do that, he has to keep on writing. He becomes aware, too, of sources that, relatively speaking, seem amply pure but from which may come works that scandalize. He may feel that it is as sinful to scandalize the learned as the ignorant. In the end, he will either have to stop writing or limit himself to the concerns proper to what he is creating. It is the person who can follow neither of these courses who becomes the victim, not of the Church’s dogmas, but of a false conception of their demands.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Poetry & Literature Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology
Detroitis the destination this weekend for Pastor Stephen Shaw and more than a dozen members of his Alabama church.
They’re joining an estimated 7,000-10,000 visitors expected at the 99th annual convention for the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World Inc., which begins Saturday at Cobo Center.
The mission is to learn, pray, find fellowship and more. But for Shaw and others, it’s also an opportunity to lift the city with spiritual support.
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True to stereotype, San Francisco is the most leftie city in the union. But would people expect Washington, DC, to come second, ahead of Seattle (where it is legal to smoke pot) or the Democratic stronghold of Boston? On the other end of the scale, Mesa, Arizona is the most conservative large city, with a slew of Texan and Oklahoman municipalities high on the list. The data come from a study appearing this month in the American Political Science Review by Chris Warshaw of MIT and Chris Tausanovitch from the University of California at Los Angeles.
Read it all.
A recent Pew Research Center survey shows that neither world power has a clear advantage when it comes to the hearts and minds of people in Africa. Among the seven sub-Saharan African countries polled this year, at least six-in-ten in each nation say they have a favorable view of the U.S., including roughly three-quarters or more in Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania and Senegal. Broad majorities also rate China positively. The one exception is South Africa – just 45% express a favorable view of China, compared with 68% for the U.S.
Such questions are particularly important to U.S. officials this week as presidents and prime ministers from across Africa converge on Washington for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. The meeting is billed by the Obama administration as the “largest event any U.S. President has held with African heads of state and government” and is meant to strengthen economic and diplomatic ties between the U.S. and African nations. Meanwhile, China has become Africa’s largest trading partner – surpassing the U.S. in 2009 – and just this year announced the formation of the “Africa Growing Together Fund,” a $2 billion investment vehicle created in partnership with the African Development Bank Group.
Read it all.
Second-generation pagans — those whose parents were converts to pagan spirituality — are a lot like their peers in other faiths. They often do spirituality their own way. Or not at all.
“Born-to-it pagans just are who we are,” said Angela Roberts Reeder, 43, whose parents were involved in ceremonial magic when she was young.
This week, Reeder said she might continue the tradition by joining a public celebration for the first harvest festival of Lughnasa, also called Lammas, at a Washington, D.C., temple.
“Today, it’s so much easier to be openly pagan than 20 or 30 years ago” when converts often faced strong disapproval by family and society when they came out of the “broom closet,” so to speak, Reeder said.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children History Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Wicca / paganism
Like most people, I don’t particularly relish encounters with death. But, welcome or not, I’ve had my fair share. I’ve clasped a woman’s hand as her breathing slowed, became sporadic, and finally ceased. Through the cramped hallways of an ancient farmhouse, down which no stretcher could be maneuvered, I helped heft the sheet-wrapped body of a family’s matriarch to carry her to the waiting hearse. When a small Oklahoma church mourned a member who’d fallen asleep at the wheel, late at night, early in life, I was there, thinking of the joyless “Joy the World” the band of believers had choked out the day before that December 26th funeral. In each of these situations, the death of the young or the old, there was within me a desire to lighten the load of grief borne by the survivors, to shine a ray of life into the gloom of death.
Because of that desire, when I first heard about families opting to have a so-called “Celebration of Life” service for their departed loved ones, instead of a funeral, my interest was piqued. Perhaps here was a viable alternative. The name alone effuses a positive, uplifting appeal that “funeral” or “memorial service” can’t begin to match. Celebrations are good, right? And, life, well, who can possibly have any qualms about that? Perhaps this approach to confronting death, at least the ceremonial part of saying goodbye, would help alleviate some of the pain associated with, and expressed in, a more traditional rite. Maybe it was time to have a funeral for the funeral.
So what makes a Celebration of Life different? Rather than a focus upon the loss of a loved one, this service rewinds the present into the past, to draw the mourners back into the life lived by the deceased. It’s like a miniature, enacted biography of the person, with a focus upon those qualities, interests, and achievements that his family and friends found most endearing about him. Whereas a traditional funeral is structured around a liturgy, in this ceremony stories about the person—serious or lighthearted—take center stage. It is his funeral, after all, so shouldn’t it be about him?
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Psychology Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
I realize that people who talk at length about their pets are tedious at best, and often pitiful or repulsive. They post photos of their pets online, tell little stories about them, speak to them in disturbing falsettos, dress them in elaborate costumes and carry them around in handbags and BabyBjorns, have professional portraits taken of them and retouched to look like old master oil paintings. When people over the age of 10 invite you to a cat birthday party or a funeral for a dog, you need to execute a very deft etiquette maneuver, the equivalent of an Immelmann turn or triple axel, in order to decline without acknowledging that they are, in this area, insane.
This is especially true of childless people, like me, who tend to become emotionally overinvested in their animals and to dote on them in a way that gives onlookers the creeps. Often the pet seems to be a surrogate child, a desperate focus or joint project for a relationship that’s lost any other raison d’être, like becoming insufferable foodies or getting heavily into cosplay. When such couples finally have a child their cats or dogs are often bewildered to find themselves unceremoniously demoted to the status of pet; instead of licking the dinner plates clean and piling into bed with Mommy and Daddy, they’re given bowls of actual dog food and tied to a metal stake in a circle of dirt.
I looked up how much Americans spend on pets annually and have concluded that you do not want to know. I could tell you what I spent on my own cat’s special kidney health cat food and kidney and thyroid medication, and periodic blood tests that cost $300 and always came back normal, but I never calculated my own annual spending, lest I be forced to confront some uncomfortable facts about me. What our mass spending on products to pamper animals who seem happiest while rolling in feces or eating the guts out of rodents — who don’t, in fact, seem significantly less happy if they lose half their limbs — tells us about ourselves as a nation is probably also something we don’t want to know. But it occurs to me that it may be symptomatic of the same chronic deprivation as are the billion-dollar industries in romance novels and porn.
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In 1946 the director of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, poet Paul Engle, interviewed a shy young woman with a Savannah, Ga., accent as thick as honey. Engle could hardly understand a word she said and asked her to respond in writing. On a legal pad, she wrote, "My name is Flannery O'Connor. Can I come to the writer's workshop?"
After looking at samples of her work, he concluded, "Like Keats, who spoke Cockney but wrote the purest sounds in English, Flannery spoke a dialect beyond instant comprehension but on the page her prose was imaginative, tough, alive: just like Flannery herself."
Fifty years ago today, Aug. 3, 1964, one of the great authors of the 20th century, Flannery O'Connor, died in Milledgeville, Ga., at the age of 39 after a 15-year battle with lupus, an autoimmune disease. Born and raised in Savannah, she spent all but five years of her life in Georgia.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Books History Poetry & Literature Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
It may have seemed like the makings of a perfect opening night: perhaps popcorn, soda, great seats, the whispering of an excited crowd as the lights went down for a midnight first peek at "Guardians of the Galaxy."
The previews rolled, and then ... whaaaat?
"omg," one moviegoer tweeted. "they started playing rise of the guardians instead of guardians of the galaxy."
How in the galaxy did that happen?
"EVERYONE IN THE THEATRE IS CRYING," the tweeter added.
Read it all.
The U.S.’s most dominant industries look a lot different than they did less than 25 years ago. From 1990 to 2013, the top industries by employment have changed from mostly manufacturing to mostly health-care and social-assistance jobs in the majority of states, according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data analysis of its Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. The states where retail jobs were most prevalent were located mostly in the West in 1990 and now reside predominantly in the Southeast.
Read it all.
It’s not easy being a celebrity pastor these days with that pesky Internet around.
Consider the struggles of Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Faced with mounting accusations circulating online — plagiarism, misusing church funds to prop book sales, silencing anyone in his church with the temerity to question him — Driscoll has urged his followers to stay off the Web. “It’s all shenanigans anyway,” he explains.
Steven Furtick, a megachurch pastor in North Carolina, and Dave Ramsey, an evangelical finance guru, have been taking hits, too, as have the wheeler-dealers on the Preachers of L.A. reality show. This, against a backdrop of culture shifts creating strong headwinds against the leader-and-follower model typified by today’s Christian superstars.
What are a megapastor and his followers to do? Remembering the biblical admonitions against idolatry would be a good start.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Media Psychology Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Eschatology Pastoral Theology
It has become a commonplace idea that today’s frothy financial markets are oblivious to the stream of bad news from eastern Europe, not to mention the Middle East. But that does not mean the news is not really bad at all. New York and London were equally blasé about the origins of the first world war. It was not until three weeks after the Sarajevo assassination that the London Times even mentioned the possibility that a European political crisis might lead to financial instability. Nine days later the stock exchange closed its doors, overwhelmed by panic selling as investors suddenly woke up to the reality of world war. Let no one reassure you that this crisis has somehow been “priced in”. No one priced in the guns of August 1914.
This should give not only historians pause. If great historical events can sometimes have causes that are too small for contemporaries to notice, might not a comparable crisis be in the making today? What exactly makes our July crisis different? Is it because we now have the UN and other international institutions? Hardly: with Russia a permanent member of the UN Security Council, that institution has been gridlocked over Ukraine. Is it because we now have the EU? Certainly, that eliminates the risk that any west European state might overtly take Russia’s side, as France and Britain did in 1914, but it has not stopped EU members with significant energy imports from Russia fighting tooth and nail against tougher sanctions.
What about the role of globalisation in diffusing international conflict? Sorry, you could have made the same argument 100 years ago (indeed, Norman Angell did, in his book The Great Illusion). Very high levels of economic interdependence do not always inoculate countries against going to war with each other.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch History * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Economy Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. England / UK Europe Russia Ukraine * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
When Philadelphia’s St. Paul Baptist Church hired the Rev. Leslie Callahan as its first female pastor, in 2009, she was nearing her 40th birthday and the tick-tock of her biological clock was getting hard to ignore.
She delighted in her ministry but also wanted a husband and children in her life. The husband she couldn’t do much about — he just hadn’t stepped into her life.
“But it was clear to me that I was going to do everything in my power to realize my dream of becoming a parent,” she said.Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Women * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Emory University Hospital in Atlanta said Thursday it was preparing a special isolation unit to receive a patient with Ebola disease “within the next several days”.
“We do not know at this time when the patient will arrive,” Emory said in a statement. The university also did not say whether the patient was one of two Americans battling Ebola infection in Liberia – charity workers Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly.
“Emory University Hospital has a specially built isolation unit set up in collaboration with the CDC to treat patients who are exposed to certain serious infectious diseases,” the hospital said. “It is physically separate from other patient areas and has unique equipment and infrastructure that provide an extraordinarily high level of clinical isolation. It is one of only four such facilities in the country."
Read it all.
As you plan — or even go — on your summer vacation, think about this: More and more Americans are no longer taking a few weeks off to suntan and sight see abroad. Instead they're working in orphanages, building schools and teaching English.
It's called volunteer tourism or "volunteerism." And it's one of the fastest growing trends in travel today. More than 1.6 million volunteer tourists are spending about $2 billion each year.
But some people who work in the industry are skeptical of volunteerism's rising popularity. They question whether some trips help young adults pad their resumes or college applications more than they help those in need.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Charities/Non-Profit Organizations Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture Travel * Economics, Politics Economy Personal Finance * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
This is posted at the bottom of Rod Dreher's post and taken from the comments over at Alan Jacobs' site, but I post it here to make sure it is not missed--KSH
I’ve been reading the Times religiously (a paradoxical adverb, right now) since 1969. I just cancelled my subscription, and told the nice clerk who processed my cancellation that the Times’s smug prejudice toward traditional religious beliefs had just become too much. When asked what I liked about the Times, I told her the arts coverage and the seriousness of its international news. But those assets no longer outweigh its characteristics as (as Alasdair MacIntrye characterized it in 1988) “that parish magazine of affluent and self-congratulatory liberal enlightenment.”
For a while, I enjoyed Stanley Fish’s NYT blog, in which, honest postmodernist that he is, he attempted to gleefully deconstruct the untenability of Enlightenment reason. It was fun watching the altar guild huff and puff at his sacrilege. For a while.
Rod, thanks for defining a tipping point.
What Barro’s tweet was for me, and Egan’s ope-ed for Alan, was the tipping point. I have been reading the Times as a subscriber for nearly 20 years. It sometimes made me furious, it sometimes thrilled me, it usually made me think, and I was almost always grateful for it. I started my Times subscription in south Florida, kept it when I moved to New York City, held on to it when I moved to Dallas, then in Philly, and stuck with the digital version in St. Francisville. I’ve been with the Times for longer than I’ve known my wife. We have a relationship, that newspaper and I.
It has never been friendly to conservatives, of course, and that’s just part of the deal. But the Times plays things reasonably straight — except on coverage of social and religious conservatives. This is not just my view; it’s the unapologetic view of Bill Keller, the former executive editor....
Even though I care about culture and religion more than anything else, I gritted my teeth and read the paper anyway. It was worth it. Besides, they employ David Brooks and they hired Ross Douthat, and that counts for a lot in my book.
I’ve noticed, though, that as gay rights became more prominent in the public square, and as the Times took on a no-holds-barred advocacy role (it’s not just me saying that; two former NYT ombudsmen have made the same observation; I don’t have the links available to me, but you can easily look it up), it’s attitude toward religious believers anywhere to the right of the Episcopal Church left became increasingly nasty. Now the Times not only didn’t try to be fair, it seemed to go out of its way to be hostile. Look, I expect the Times to give ample coverage to gay issues, given the particular prominence of the gay community in NYC, and among the creative elites the paper keeps its eye on. I’m not sure when it happened, or why it happened, but at some point I started to think that the Times really does hate social and religious conservatives. I mean hate.
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Of course, there are schools whose doctrines fit those now held by Jaycen and others whose convictions now contradict centuries of Christian doctrine. Should students attend schools where they can sign doctrinal covenants and then keep those vows? This issue is never explored in the story. Why is this student at George Fox?
Yes, it does matter that the school’s own community seems to be divided — anonymity is crucial — over these doctrines. This is common. That is why it’s crucial — in terms of journalism ethics — for the Times team to quote people on both sides of this debate, even inside George Fox and similar institutions.
Why not cover both sides of the debate? Because, under “Kellerism,” error has no rights, even if that means changing the basic rules of the American model of the press....
Simply stated, many traditional religious believers — even if they are long-time supporters of the Times — are being forced out of the doctrinally defined community that is the church of New York Times subscribers.
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Sarah Blanchard was sorry she skipped a worship service. Sarah Wood apologized for denouncing infant baptisms. And as for the Cheneys, Joseph and Abigail? Well, “with shame, humiliation and sorrow,” they acknowledged having had sex before marriage.
More than 250 years ago, their confessions of sin were dutifully logged by the minister of the church here, alongside records of baptisms, marriages and deaths, notes about meetings heated and routine, accounts of finances, texts of sermons, and, in some cases, personal accounts of conversion experiences from young adults.
Now, in a regionwide scavenger hunt, a pair of historians is rummaging through New England church basements and attics, file cabinets, safes and even coat closets, searching for these records of early American life. The historians are racing against inexorable church closings, occasional fires, and a more mundane but not uncommon peril: the actual loss of documents, which most often occurs when a church elder dies and no one can remember the whereabouts of historical papers.
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Even as overall party identification trends in the U.S. have shifted over the past six and half years, the relationship between religion and party identification has remained consistent. Very religious Americans are more likely to identify with or lean toward the Republican Party and less frequently identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party, compared with those who are moderately or nonreligious.
Gallup classifies Americans as "very religious" if they say religion is an important part of their daily lives and that they attend religious services every week or almost every week. That group constituted 41% of all U.S. adults in the first half of 2014. "Nonreligious" Americans (30% of Americans in 2014) are those who say religion is not an important part of their daily lives and that they seldom or never attend religious services. The remaining group, 29%, are classified as "moderately religious." These people say religion is important in their lives but that they do not attend services regularly, or that religion is not important but that they still attend services.
From 2008 to June 2014, nonreligious Americans have been the most Democratic of the three religious groups, with a net Democratic value ranging between +38 and +19 over that period. Those who are moderately religious have also tilted Democratic, with net values ranging from +23 to +1. Those who are very religious are least Democratic, with net values in the negative range, meaning that on average, this group identifies with or leans toward the Republican Party more than the Democratic Party.
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[This illustration I heard is a...] great story about the power of a good deed. There’s just one problem: Almost nothing about this story is true. It’s one of the most popular myths about Churchill, according Snopes.com and the Downers Grove, Illinois-based Churchill Centre.
How do I know this?
During the sermon, I stopped listening to the pastor and instead turned my eyes on my cell phone. Something about the story just didn’t sit right — it was too good to be true. So whatever spiritual lesson I was supposed to learn in the sermon was soon overshadowed by the wisdom of a Google search.
Things get even worse when a pastor starts quoting statistics.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking History Religion & Culture Sociology * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
More than one in three Americans (36%) say drinking alcohol has been a cause of problems in their family at some point, one of the highest figures Gallup has measured since the 1940s. Reports of alcohol-related family troubles have been much more common in recent decades than they were prior to 1990.
Gallup updated its longstanding trend on this question in its July 7-10 Consumption Habits poll. When first asked in 1947, 15% of Americans said alcohol had been a cause of family problems. The percentage remained low in the 1960s and 1970s, before it ticked up -- to an average of 21% -- during the 1980s.
Reports of family problems due to drinking increased further in the 1990s (27%) and 2000s (32%). The average has leveled off at 32% since 2010, although this year's 36% exceeds the current decade's average.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Alcohol/Drinking Alcoholism Health & Medicine Marriage & Family * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The subtitle deserves to be printed just as written: Polyamorous people still face plenty of stigmas, but some studies suggest they handle certain relationship challenges better than monogamous people do.
Terri Conley, a professor of psychology and women’s studies at the University of Michigan who studies polyamory, has analyzed a sample of 1,700 monogamous individuals, 150 swingers, 170 people in open relationships, and 300 polyamorous individuals for a forthcoming study. She said that while people in “open relationships” tend to have lower sexual satisfaction than their monogamous peers, people who described themselves as “polyamorous” tended to have equal or higher levels of sexual satisfaction.
What’s more, polyamorous people don’t seem to be plagued by monogamous-style romantic envy. Bjarne Holmes, a psychologist at Champlain College in Vermont has found that polyamorous people tend to experience less overall jealousy, even in situations that would drive monogamous couples to Othello-levels of suspicion. "It turns out that, hey, people are not reacting with jealousy when their partner is flirting with someone else," Holmes told LiveScience.
Sheff agreed. “I would say they have lower-than-average jealousy,” she said. “People who are very jealous generally don’t do polyamory at all.”
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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
Amish farmer Raymond Miller developed a taste for Mountain Dew soda, got his GED, and wonders if he should get a pool table after learning to play in prison.
His wife, Kathryn, who had never ridden a public bus before boarding one last year to go to prison for forcibly cutting the hair of her relatives, was introduced to yoga and step classes while behind bars.
The Millers, members of an Amish breakaway sect from eastern Ohio at the center of shocking 2011 hair-cutting attacks on other Amish followers, are trying to settle back into life at home after being exposed in prison to a world their religion is focused on locking out.
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We visit the Islamic Center of Greater Miami to look at the rising number of Latino Muslims in the US—as many as 250,000, according to estimates. Some of the converts say that in Islam they have found theological simplicity and “no intermediaries with God.” The Islamic Circle of North America reports that more than half of the US Latino converts are women. “I just felt that the minute I put my head down to the ground,” says Nadia Echevrria, “I felt like I was really talking to God.”
Read or watch and listen to it all.
The West’s involvement in Afghanistan over the past 12 years has been dominated by one failed opportunity after another. Rather than focusing so massively on the military effort rather than well-informed and better-targeted recovery, for example, the international community could have made a significant difference by supporting a proposal made back in 2002, notably the introduction of electronic ID cards. But the idea was consistently ignored as “impractical.” And yet, in a society where mobile phones are now ubiquitous, it could have served as a relatively reliable voter ID, perhaps preventing stuffed ballots. It could also have helped monitor health, educational, and other crucial data, such as vaccination programs.
For Afghans, the elections are broadly perceived as their last chance before the bulk of foreign troops leave and global development commitment drops even further. Nevertheless, even though Afghans have traditionally proved adept at compromise, the voting abuses may have gone too far. People went to the polls to have their say. To have their vote turned into a shared coalition government primarily because of corruption and abuse of the voting process may only be sending the message that there is no point in democracy.
Yet this does not mean the West should abandon Afghanistan. The last time the West lost interest was after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989. This led to a ruthless civil war during the early 1990s followed by the rise of the Taliban supported by Al Qaeda, Pakistan, and even the United States. By the time Washington understood what was happening, it was too late.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch History * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General War in Afghanistan * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Asia Afghanistan * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Earlier this month, when Ellen Epstein arrived at the Devil’s Thumb Ranch in Tabernash, Colo., for the wedding of her friends Lauren Meisels and Bradley Melshenker, she, like the other guests, found a gift bag waiting for her in her hotel room. But rather than a guide to activities in the area or a jar of locally made honey, the canvas bag contained a rolled joint, a lighter and lip balm infused with mango butter and cannabis, along with this note: “We wanted to show you some of the things we love the best.”
She knew then that the wedding of her fellow Boulder residents would be just a little different from the ones she had attended in the past.
The Meisels and Melshenker nuptials looked as if their inspiration had come not from the pages of Martha Stewart Weddings but from High Times. All of the floral arrangements, including the bride’s bouquet, contained a variety of white flowers mixed with marijuana buds and leaves. Mr. Melshenker and his groomsmen wore boutonnieres crafted out of twine and marijuana buds, and Mr. Melshenker’s three dogs, who were also in attendance, wore collars made of cannabis buds, eucalyptus leaves and pink ribbons.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Drugs/Drug Addiction Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Young Adults * Economics, Politics Politics in General State Government * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
Whenever one is spared an ordeal, initial relief is soon succeeded by a measure of regret that one has been unable to make public the fruits of one’s research. After two weeks in Charleston and five days sitting in the St. George courthouse, the news that I was not to take the stand was hardly a surprise, however, after this morning’s bravura performance by Gettysburg College's Allen Guelzo, who delivered one of the most lucid pieces of witness testimony of the whole trial....
Both Mary Kostel and David Booth Beers did their best with a witness for whom they were unprepared (this is permitted under South Carolina law, as Guelzo was introduced for the purpose of rebuttal of their earlier argument pertaining to the manner in which the national church exercised control over dioceses and states). Kostel focused on the writings of nineteenth century commentators that have been at the center of my counterpart Robert Bruce Mullin’s arguments, but Guelzo fought back, in the process eliciting from the judge the revelation that state law requires that an expert witness have the freedom to offer a critique of a proffered document if he declines to accept it as “learned treatise” (something which came as news to a number of the South Carolina attorneys present for the independent Diocese). Freed from a simple acknowledgment of the statements presented, Guelzo happily explained how most of the advocates of national church hierarchy in the nineteenth century were ritualist partisans and certainly enjoyed no authority from the General Convention to say what they said. Asked for a counter argument from the same era, he proffered Calvin Colton’s Genius and Mission of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States (1853), a source of which, I must confess, I was unaware, but which I’ve no doubt fits the bill. The point at issue is that any notion of a churchwide consensus on polity is simply unsustainable. There followed a fruitless set of exchanges between Guelzo and David Beers in which the latter was in fairly short order outmaneuvered, when he attempted to switch the focus to twentieth century canon law, of which Guelzo did not profess to be an expert.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * South Carolina * Theology Ecclesiology
Just 11 years ago, there were 1.5 million Christians living in Iraq. Since the U.S. war there, that number has plummeted to approximately 400,000 — and it is still falling fast. The chaos created by the U.S. invasion, occupation, and withdrawal, as well as the ongoing Syrian civil war and insurgent-fueled unrest in much of Iraq, has dramatically increased the persecution and pressure on Iraq's Christians and other religious minorities.
ISIS, the emergent Islamist terrorist group that spans from Syria into Iraq, has already taken over Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city. They painted signs on the walls of Christian homes, meant to indicate to all the presence of a minority they hate. They gave Christians a choice and a deadline: Pay an exorbitant tax, convert to Islam, leave, or be put to death. Most have fled after having their property confiscated. Five Christian families, according to The New York Times, had members too ill to flee to Kurdistan or Turkey, and so consented to a forced conversion to Islam. ISIS burned Christian churches, and dug up a shrine many Middle Eastern Christians believe is the final resting place of the prophet Jonah, along with another site said to contain the Biblical prophet Seth.
Reading these headlines and tut-tutting isn't enough. The U.S. owes Christians and other persecuted Iraqi minorities assistance.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Iraq War Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Middle East Iraq * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The single biggest cause of personal bankruptcy in the United States isn't job loss or irresponsible use of credit. It's medical expenses.
An analysis this year by NerdWallet Health found that about 60% of all bankruptcies are health related. And a comprehensive study by Harvard researchers who examined a large sample of 2007 bankruptcy filings found that, "using a conservative definition, 62.1% of all bankruptcies … were medical." That research, published in the American Journal of Medicine, found that most of these "medical debtors were well educated, owned homes and had middle-class occupations."
And although access to health insurance can help stave off medical debt, it doesn't solve the problem. About 10 million insured Americans have medical bills they are unable to pay. The Harvard researchers found that three-quarters of the medical debtors they studied had health insurance.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Personal Finance * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
t's not exactly "The Golden Girls," but for Marcia Rosenfeld, it'll do.
Rosenfeld is among thousands of aging Americans taking part in home-sharing programs around the country that allow seniors to stay in their homes and save money while getting some much-needed companionship.
"It's a wonderful arrangement," said the white-haired Rosenfeld, who when asked her age will only say she's a senior citizen. "The way the rents are these days, I couldn't stay here without it."
She shares her two-bedroom, $1,000-a-month Brooklyn apartment with Carolyn Allen, a 69-year-old widow who has suffered two strokes and no longer wants to live alone.
Agencies that put such seniors together say the need appears to be growing as baby boomers age and struggle to deal with foreclosures, property taxes and rising rents. The typical situation involves an elderly woman, widowed or divorced, who has a house or an apartment with extra room and needs help with the upkeep.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Housing/Real Estate Market Personal Finance The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Right across from our hotel here on Thomas Circle (roughly 14th and Massachusetts Avenue Northwest) is Luther Place Memorial Church with a huge statue in front of Martin Luther, who almost on purpose started the Protestant Reformation. (You could look it up.)
And quite close to that church is National City Christian Church. Both structures are big, imposing and -- by American standards -- quite old.
Those descriptions also fit a church a few blocks away, New York Avenue Presbyterian, which Abraham Lincoln used to attend and which today houses, in its Lincoln Parlor, an early Emancipation Proclamation document, along with the Lincoln pew in the sanctuary.
In fact, as I recently wandered around our nation's capital, I was struck over and over first by how many churches (to say nothing of synagogues, mosques and other houses of worship) help make up the structural and social fabric of Washington, and second, by how much this remains a reflection of the central role religion continues to play in this country.
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At no time in my life have I felt more palpable anxiety than at the beginning of my experience of clinical pastoral education in seminary. My first visit with a hospital patient went something like this: I said, “Hi. I’m the chaplain on the floor today. What’s your name?” The patient said: “Oh—well, nice to meet you. I hope you have a wonderful day.” And then I hightailed it out of the room.
Thanks to clinical pastoral education, I did get better at this ministry. I learned how to sit in silence when necessary, how to offer prayers, how to be part of difficult conversations in fruitful ways.
Core to my learning was writing up and discussing verbatims—written records of conversations in the clinical setting that approximated the verbal back and forth of visits with patients. In reviewing verbatims, pastoral interns learn how to share and invite people into more meaningful conversations.
The helpfulness of that experience has inspired the idea of another sort of clinical endeavor. The type of conversation that frequently terrifies me now is a little different, but I am no less awkward and no less in need of something like a verbatim to help me with it. Call the course I need CEE: clinical evangelistic education.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Laity Pastoral Care * Culture-Watch Psychology Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
The letter arrived in Sue Galloway's mailbox with no return address and a brief message warning Galloway, who is Jewish, to "be careful." It was signed "666."
Across town, Linda Stephens, an atheist, received a similarly worded letter, along with a verbal suggestion from a neighbor that she leave town, because "nobody here likes you."
The women's perceived sin? Challenging the Town Board's long-standing practice of opening monthly meetings with a prayer, a policy the Supreme Court upheld in May in a 5-4 ruling that has done little to calm the debate over what place prayer should have in local politics.
Political leaders in Greece, a quiet, middle-class suburb of Rochester, say the ruling affirmed that there is nothing wrong with what they have been doing since 1999, and with what goes on in scores of state legislatures, Congress and the Supreme Court itself. "It's like you do the Pledge of Allegiance, and you do a prayer," said William Reilich, the town supervisor, a position that serves as head of the board. "This is supposed to be a very light greeting. It's not a service."
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Politics in General City Government * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology
For several weeks prior to the scheduled lift-off of Apollo 11 back in July, 1969, the pastor of our church, Dean Woodruff, and I had been struggling to find the right symbol for the first lunar landing. We wanted to express our feeling that what man was doing in this mission transcended electronics and computers and rockets.
Dean often speaks at our church, Webster Presbyterian, just outside of Houston, about the many meanings of the communion service.
“One of the principal symbols,” Dean says, “is that God reveals Himself in the common elements of everyday life.” Traditionally, these elements are bread and wine—common foods in Bible days and typical products of man’s labor.
One day while I was at Cape Kennedy working with the sophisticated tools of the space effort, it occurred to me that these tools were the typical elements of life today. I wondered if it might be possible to take communion on the moon, symbolizing the thought that God was revealing Himself there too, as man reached out into the universe. For there are many of us in the NASA program who do trust that what we are doing is part of God’s eternal plan for man.
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According to Frederick Dalcho's An historical account of the Protestant Episcopal Church in South-Carolina how many Diocesan Conventions did South Carolina have BEFORE the first General Convention of the Episcopal Church in 1789?
GONZALEZ: It's a scene that captured the attention of the country and world. Anti-immigrant protestors blocking buses filled with undocumented Central American migrant children, some adults, from reaching a border patrol station in the southern California community of Murrieta.
The children aboard the buses were just some of the more than 52,000 minors, many of them unaccompanied by adults, who have been detained by immigration authorities since October. It's the largest influx of asylum seekers into the U.S. since 1980.
There are so many migrant children arriving, temporary immigration holding facilities along the border have been filled to capacity, and the children have been flown to other parts of the country, for shelter and care at military bases and other facilities. Overwhelmed by the sheer number of migrants, the government has turned to faith communities for help.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Immigration Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Mexico * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The arguments against assisted suicide are strongly held. Many people object on moral or religious grounds, while some doctors say that it conflicts with their oath to “do no harm”. Opponents add that vulnerable people may feel pressure to spare their carers the burden—or, worse, may be bullied into choosing suicide. And there is a broader argument that allowing assisted suicide in some cases will create a slippery slope, with ever more people being allowed (or forced) to take their own lives, even for trivial reasons.
But the arguments in favour are more compelling. In a pluralistic society, the views of one religion should not be imposed on everybody. Those with a genuine moral objection to assisted suicide need not participate. What a doctor sees as harm a patient may see as relief; and anyway it is no longer standard for medical students to take the Hippocratic oath. The hardest argument concerns vulnerable people: they may indeed feel pressure, but that is simply a reason to set up a robust system of counselling and psychiatric assessment, requiring the agreement of several doctors that a patient is in their right mind and proceeding voluntarily.
It is also true that as some countries relax their restrictions on assisted suicide, the practice will become more common and there will probably be pressure for other restrictions to be removed. But there is nothing unusual in this. Moral absolutes are rare. When faced with dilemmas societies draw boundaries and carve out exceptions.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Psychology * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. England / UK Europe * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
A woman in her late 20s came to see me recently because her back hurt. She works at a child care center in town where she picks up babies and small children all day long.
She felt a twinge in her lower back when hoisting a fussy kid. The pain was bad enough that she went home from work early and was laid out on the couch until she came to see me the next day.
In my office she told me she had "done some damage" to her back. She was worried. She didn't want to end up like her father, who'd left his factory job in his mid-50s on disability after suffering what she called permanent damage to his back.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Health & Medicine Psychology Science & Technology * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Canada * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
As Merrick shares, “What I found helpful is to read those people who are being discussed and try and understand what they’re saying,” for two reasons:
You become a better thinker by honing your argument.
You become a more generous, thoughtful thinker.
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Tommy Underwood wasn’t even born when Billy Graham made his preaching debut in Florida, yet the Putnam County native easily recalls stories of the fledgling minister. The one about Billy Graham’s first sermon, for instance, was a particular favorite of Underwood’s late father, and, during a recent visit to the Billy Graham Library, Underwood shared the tale.
It was Easter weekend in 1937 when Billy Graham accompanied his college dean Rev. John Minder on a trip north of Tampa to Palatka, Florida. Tommy Underwood’s father, Cecil, greeted them and asked Minder if he would preach the upcoming weekend at nearby Bostwick Baptist Church. Minder declined and volunteered Billy Graham, much to the 18-year-old’s bewilderment. With knees knocking and four borrowed sermons to fall back on, Billy Graham delivered one after another in front of the 40 or so parishioners.
He concluded his first career sermon eight minutes later.
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Have you ever heard a sermon about body image?
Aside from the occasional side comment, I've never heard body image given substantial treatment from the pulpit or serious attention from leaders in the church, which is surprising since body image is not a marginal issue in our culture.
Statistics vary, but research shows that somewhere between 80 percent and 90 percent of women are dissatisfied with their bodies. Although the percentage of women with severe eating disorders is between 0.5 percent and 3.7 percent, roughly 3 out of 4 engage in some form of disordered eating.
And in 2013, women had more than 10.3 million surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures, signifying a 471 percent increase since 1997. The top procedures were breast augmentation, liposuction, tummy tuck, breast lift, and eyelid surgery.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Psychology * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
James Garner, the US star of hit TV series The Rockford Files and Maverick and films including The Great Escape, has died aged 86.
Garner had suffered ill health since a severe stroke in 2008.
"Mr Garner died of natural causes," the West LA Division of the Los Angeles Police Department told the BBC, adding he died on Saturday and his body has been released to his family.
His publicist confirmed to the BBC that he died at home.
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Rodney Durham stopped working in 1991, declared bankruptcy and lives on Social Security. Nonetheless, Wells Fargo lent him $15,197 to buy a used Mitsubishi sedan.
“I am not sure how I got the loan,” Mr. Durham, age 60, said.
Mr. Durham’s application said that he made $35,000 as a technician at Lourdes Hospital in Binghamton, N.Y., according to a copy of the loan document. But he says he told the dealer he hadn’t worked at the hospital for more than three decades. Now, after months of Wells Fargo pressing him over missed payments, the bank has repossessed his car.
This is the face of the new subprime boom. Mr. Durham is one of millions of Americans with shoddy credit who are easily obtaining auto loans from used-car dealers, including some who fabricate or ignore borrowers’ abilities to repay.
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Filed under: * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Personal Finance The Banking System/Sector * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Here are 6 ways corporations act religiously:
1. They give generously from their company’s profits.
Manoj Bhargava, the reclusive founder and owner of the billion-dollar enterprise 5 Hour Energy, is a deeply religious man. He spent his twenties as a monk in India, traveling between monasteries on a spiritual quest. To this day, Bhargava spends an hour each morning in meditation, and he says that while he has “made a lot of money in the West,” he does “not believe in much personal consumption.” Bhargava has committed 90 percent of his company’s profits to charity, primarily to Hindu charities in India.
Bhargava predicts that over the next 10 years the company will give away over $1 billion to charity. Similarly, Christian brothers and business owners in Memphis recently gave their entire $250 million company away to their charitable foundation.
2. They are guided by their sacred texts.
Talia Mashiach is the high-powered founder of Eved, an e-commerce company. She is also an Orthodox Jew who draws upon her faith to lead her business and her employees. Eved now employs 50 people and processes over $80 million annually in transactions. Like many entrepreneurs, she experiences the tensions of integrating her faith with her business, but she gleans guidance from the Torah, the Jewish holy book.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
A new US geological survey indicates that some parts of the US are at an increased risk of earthquakes, especially along the east coast.
New seismic hazard maps updated for the first time since 2008 show highest risk west but also increased risk east.
"The eastern US has the potential for larger and more damaging earthquakes than considered in previous maps and assessments," the report states.
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We live in intolerant times. A former Secretary of State is disinvited from speaking on campus. Corporate leaders are forced to resign because of their views on marriage. People are forced by the courts to violate their consciences. A prominent Senate leader calls Tea Party activists “anarchists” and, in a speech reminiscent of McCarthyism, brands the businessmen-philanthropist Koch brothers “un-American.” The Internal Revenue Service—harking back to the Johnson and Nixon eras—is accused of targeting individuals and groups for their political views. And government leaders routinely ignore laws they are sworn to uphold.
This is more than intolerant. It is illiberal. It is a willingness to use coercive methods, from government action to public shaming, to shut down debate and censor those who hold a different opinion as if they have no right to their views at all.
Read it all and read part two there also.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Psychology Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Some of the survey’s findings are not surprising. The arrival of children and the subsequent triangulation of the relationship and lack of bandwidth, time, money and energy makes a couple far more susceptible to the desire to stray. And the rise of the social networks make such straying much easier: easier to start, easier to arrange and easier to hide. (It may make it a little harder to end quietly though, especially if one of the parties feels aggrieved.)
Some other findings are a little more unexpected, however. For the vast majority of folks 18 to 49 years old, at least in Austin, Omaha, Nashville and Phoenix, where this study took place, cheating is an absolute dealbreaker. A full 94% of respondents would rather never marry than end up with a person they knew would cheat and 82% of them have “zero tolerance” for infidelity. Yet 81% of people admitted they’d cheat if they knew there wouldn’t be any consequences and 42% of the survey takers, in equal parts men and women, admitted to already having cheated.
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As long as that phone is acting as a kind of electronic umbilical cord, parents can tell themselves their children are safe.
But increasingly the smartphone itself is an instrument of harm. Such is the case with a 16-year-old Houston girl named Jada, who entered the spotlight as she publicly confronted the evidence that she had been raped at a party by at least one other teenager. She says she passed out after drinking a beverage that was spiked and only learned of the crime after her classmates began tweeting photos and videos taken of her unconscious, partly nude body. (Houston police are investigating; no one has been charged.)
What happened next is remarkable in ways that instill faith in the human spirit and at the same time provoke disgust at the depravity and lemming-like behavior that teenagers with smartphones are capable of.
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Shaw Air Force Base was spared in this round of the Air Force’s budget cuts, losing no jobs, but Joint Base Charleston will have 19 positions eliminated.
The announced cuts were the first permanent jobs lost in South Carolina in what is expected to to be a deep reduction in the military following 13 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. State leaders are preparing to fight for the state’s seven installations, based mostly in Columbia, Charleston and Beaufort.
The installations and their missions, as well as a large National Guard, numerous defense contractors in the Upstate and a high number of retirees, especially on the coast, pump nearly $16 billion a year into the state’s economy, according to a study by the S.C. Department of Commerce.
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Shorty after the sanctions were unveiled, US President Barack Obama made a statement where he said these measures were designed to bring no inconveniences to US companies and its allies.
"These sanctions are significant, but they are also targeted - designed to have the maximum impact on Russia while limiting any spillover effects on American companies or those of our allies," Obama vowed.
But Putin reminded about the existing agreement between Russia’s oil giant Rosneft and ExxonMobil that has granted the US-based energy corporation access to the Russian hydrocarbon reserves in the Arctic.
“So, don’t they want it [ExxonMobil] to work there? They are dealing damage to their biggest energy companies - and to what purpose?” Putin wondered speaking at a press conference on Thursday.
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One factor in our current turmoil in The Episcopal Church and the larger Anglican Communion is the power and authority of bishops. One way to read the primates’ communiqué is as a rejection of the polity of The Episcopal Church that limits the power of bishops to make policy for the larger church. William White never proposed a distinct House of Bishops separate from the House of Deputies. For him, the clergy and laity meeting together, with their bishops, was adequate, as is still the case in diocesan conventions.
Born and educated in the democratic cauldron of Philadelphia, White did not object to the role of bishops elsewhere, but believed the new American church had an opportunity to return to its primitive roots when, before Constantine, the laity participated in the selection of their bishop, and before 1066, when the power of a bishop was not an extension of the power of the state. For the New England states, White’s new democratic Catholicism went too far. The clergy of Connecticut so objected to White’s proposal to have the first duly elected bishop of the United States consecrated by presbyters, temporarily, until proper Episcopal orders could be attained, they chose (without the vote of the laity) Samuel Seabury as bishop. He sailed for Canterbury, where he would not be consecrated, and then moved on to the non-juror bishops of Scotland.
Seabury believed that apostolic bishops, not a democratic process shared by clergy and laity, should determine the governance and worship of the emergent Episcopal Church. But for William White, who knew how difficult it would be to unify an Episcopal Church out of its very diverse parts, a method of choosing bishops was needed before the choosing could happen. For White, to do otherwise would be like electing George Washington the president, and then having him write the Constitution.
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A clergyman who led a huge downtown congregation in Chicago has been appointed minister of the most important Presbyterian church in Scotland.
The Rev Calum MacLeod, 46, was chosen as minister of St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, in succession to the Very Rev Dr Gilleasbuig Macmillan, after preaching at the weekend to his new Edinburgh congregation.
Yesterday, in an interview with The Times, he signalled his intention to confront what is widely perceived in the Kirk as raucous secularism within wider society and to seek to increase his congregation.
The contrast between the minister’s new parish and his old church could hardly be stronger. Though both are important city-centre institutions, the Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago has a membership of 5,500, about 11 times larger than St Giles.
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Ms. Yellen, in downplaying concerns about financial stability, said the economic recovery remained incomplete and the Fed’s help was necessary.
“Too many Americans remain unemployed, inflation remains below our longer-run objective and not all of the necessary financial reform initiatives have been completed,” Ms. Yellen told the Senate Banking Committee.
Ms. Yellen’s testimony is likely to reinforce a sense of complacency among investors who regard the Fed as convinced of its forecast and committed to its policy course. She reiterated the Fed’s view that the economy will continue to grow at a moderate pace, and that the Fed is in no hurry to start increasing short-term interest rates.
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William "Jackrabbit" Large pulls his SUV onto the side of a downtown Seattle street, parking behind an Amazon Fresh delivery truck and carrying a product the online retailer doesn't offer: marijuana.
The thin, bespectacled Large is a delivery man for Winterlife, a Seattle company that is among a group of new businesses pushing the limits of Washington state's recreational pot industry by offering to bring marijuana to almost any doorstep.
"It's an opportunity that should not be missed," Large says with the kind of fast-talking voice meant for radio.
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Anglicans seem to be hopeful about their flocks in the United States, even if the warring factions in their Communion keep moving further and further apart.
That was a common theme in two upbeat recent sermons preached by leaders in the progressive and orthodox Anglican bodies now competing in the marketplace of American religion.
In the first sermon, Father Cameron Partridge became the first openly transgender priest to preach at Washington National Cathedral. The June 22 liturgy was part of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride month....
Two days later, an archbishop on the other side of this doctrinal divide [Robert Duncan] spoke for the American Anglicans who believe they have been punished for their defense of 2,000 years of Christian orthodoxy on matters of marriage, family and sexuality.
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"On a sunny day in September, 1972, a stern-faced, plainly dressed man could be seen standing still on a street corner in the busy Chicago Loop. As pedestrians hurried by on their way to lunch or business, he would solemnly lift his right arm, and pointing to the person nearest him, intone loudly the single word, ‘GUILTY!’"Then, without any change of expression, he would resume his stiff stance for a few moments before repeating the gesture. Then, again, the inexorable raising of his arm, the pointing, and the solemn pronouncing of the one word, ‘GUILTY!’--Karl Menninger, "Whatever Became of Sin?" which you may find in The Rotarian of January 1974 there, his emphasis (These are also the words at beginning of his famous book of the same title)
"The effect of this strange j’accuse pantomime on the passing strangers was extraordinary, almost eerie. They would stare at him, hesitate, look away, look at each other, and then at him again; then hurriedly continue on their ways.
"One man, turning to another who was my informant, exclaimed: ‘But how did he know?’ "No doubt many others had similar thoughts. How did he know, indeed?
Bad stats. When will we learn? Is anybody willing to own it?
Thankfully, at least one person is.
Tyler Charles. Charles is author of the original piece in RELEVANT magazine.
On Monday of this week, Tyler Charles wrote a helpful mea culpa over at High Calling. In it, he admitted what he called his own "amateur" journalism and confessed to being guilty of "hyping bad stats."
In the recent article, Charles confessed, "the statistics upon which my entire article hinged were, how should I say this, um...iffy. At best… the data had been extrapolated from a study designed to determine something completely different."
Charles explains, "after closer examination, the sample size was too small to legitimately make the claims I had clearly and consistently made." Charles stepped forward because "I couldn't justify the conclusions my article suggested."
Read it all from Christianity Today.
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Tova, a self-identified witch who uses her first name only and created the website The Way Of The Witch, spoke with joined HuffPost Live's Ricky Camilleri for a discussion about witch hunts in the 21st century. During the conversation, she shared what life is like for herself and her children in Utah.
"I live in a pretty small community outside Salt Lake City, and we have some pretty tight-held belief systems here. Although [witches] are not really just out there trying to be different, certainly people know that we live in a different way, they know that we practice things they don't understand, and I think it promotes fear," Tova said.
During her kids' earlier years, the family faced social challenges because of Tova's beliefs, she said.
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The US Supreme Court yesterday vindicated two Christian-owned companies, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods, that have a pro-life objection to including in their employee health plans certain contraceptive drugs and devices. In a 5-4 decision, the Court said that the government did not meet the test set up by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a 1993 law passed with overwhelming support in Congress and proudly signed into law by President Bill Clinton.
The controversy is over the contraceptives mandate in the 2010 health care reform law, which requires employers’ health plans to cover a wide range of contraceptive drugs and devices, including some the companies and others regard as abortifacients. Churches are exempt from the mandate; after widespread protest, religious nonprofits such as colleges and hospitals were offered an “accommodation”: the insurer provides to the organization a health plan excluding objectionable contraceptives and then announces to the employees that those contraceptives will be paid for by the insurer. No relief at all was offered to companies like those in the cases decided yesterday: religion has no place in commerce, the government claimed. Some 100 lawsuits, by businesses as well as religious nonprofits, have been launched against the contraceptives mandate.
Besides the relief granted to the two companies and others with similar religious claims, what’s most important is the Supreme Court’s rejection of the government’s effort to make business a religion-free zone.
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One such company was hailed last year by the left-wing policy website Demos “for thumbing its nose at the conventional wisdom that success in the retail industry” requires paying “bargain-basement wages.” A retail chain with nearly 600 stores and 13,000 workers, this business sets its lowest full-time wage at $15 an hour, and raised wages steadily through the stagnant postrecession years. (Its do-gooder policies also include donating 10 percent of its profits to charity and giving all employees Sunday off.) And the chain is thriving commercially — offering, as Demos put it, a clear example of how “doing good for workers can also mean doing good for business.”
Of course I’m talking about Hobby Lobby, the Christian-owned craft store that’s currently playing the role of liberalism’s public enemy No. 1, for its successful suit against the Obama administration’s mandate requiring coverage for contraceptives, sterilization and potential abortifacients.
But this isn’t just a point about the company’s particular virtues. The entire conflict between religious liberty and cultural liberalism has created an interesting situation in our politics: The political left is expending a remarkable amount of energy trying to fine, vilify and bring to heel organizations — charities, hospitals, schools and mission-infused businesses — whose commitments they might under other circumstances extol.
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RNS: The “Left Behind” books series has sold more than 60 million copies. What do you think when you hear that so many have been influenced by that brand of eschatological thought?
SH: My reaction to the “Left Behind” series is one of amusement and pathos. Pathos because so many people have misunderstood Christian eschatological convictions and turned them into speculative accounts of the so-called “rapture.” I take it to be a judgment against the church that that kind of speculation has gained a foothold.
RNS: You argue that “we may be living during a time when we are watching Protestantism coming to an end.” Some people may look at the hundreds of millions of Protestants in the world and call you crazy. Explain.
SH: My suggestion is meant to be a reminder that Protestantism is a reformed movement. When it becomes an end in itself it becomes unintelligible to itself. Protestants who don’t long for Christian unity are not Protestant. There is also the ongoing problem that Catholics have responded to the Protestant critique in a way that the Protestant critique no longer makes much sense. Accordingly, the question is: why do we continue to be kept apart?
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Ordinary Internet users, American and non-American alike, far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in the communications intercepted by the National Security Agency from U.S. digital networks, according to a four-month investigation by The Washington Post.
Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else.
Many of them were Americans. Nearly half of the surveillance files, a strikingly high proportion, contained names, e-mail addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents. NSA analysts masked, or “minimized,” more than 65,000 such references to protect Americans’ privacy, but The Post found nearly 900 additional e-mail addresses, unmasked in the files, that could be strongly linked to U.S. citizens or U.S.residents.
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Today is Saturday. This is evident on the face of my sleep-deprived neighbor, here in the fluorescent hallway, shifting her whining toddler impatiently from one hip to the other, scowling at the elevator doors which refuse to open. It is also evident in my own frustration at being obliged to wait several minutes before embarking on errands—jingling the keys in my pocket and watching the painfully slow sequence of floor numbers on the elevator panel. I am caught in the human traffic jam that visits my 20-story building every weekend.
Why the hold up? I live in a historically Jewish building in New York City. On most days, its two elevators service each section of this rather monolithic structure—just enough to keep up with the flow of residents going up and down. But come Friday evening, one of the cars is switched into Shabbos mode, meaning that it stops at every single floor automatically, backing the tenants up like resentful clogs in beige-yellow arteries. It does so for religious reasons, since many observant Jews avoid pressing electric buttons on Shabbat.
Read it all from the Atlantic.
"Sometimes I'm asked to do both [magic and funerals] at once," said Lee, 76, a licensed funeral director from White Plains, New York. "People have come to know both sides of me, so they ask. And I say, why not?"
Lee, who long ago claimed the moniker "mortgician" in his AOL email address, wouldn't call himself a pioneer or part of any special movement in after-death care. But he's among many who are turning the idea of the solemn, sedate funeral on its head.
Call it the rise of the personalized "fun funeral."
The wide range of what's considered "creative" or "unusual" when burying a loved one means there are little to no statistics on such practices, but industry experts say redesigning the standard funeral is increasingly popular.
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Today, the abuse that umpires take is more subtle -- but in a way just as sinister. Their mistakes are played back in slow motion by 24-hour sports networks, then piled on by talk-radio hosts and tweeting fans. Major league calls can now be challenged with instant replay, and strike zones get checked by a soul-crushing digital technology called Zone Evaluation. Death threats have been known to appear on their children's Facebook pages. Understandably, some umpires have found they need someone to talk to. And so when Pastor Dean Esskew's phone rings in the middle of the night, as it often does, he knows to pick it up and say "What's wrong?" instead of "Hello."
Pastor Dean, as folks around baseball know him, is the leader of Calling for Christ, a nonprofit ministry that for the past 11 years has tried to ease the anguish of major league and minor league umpires by keeping them close to God. Esskew is 48 and enormous, with a booming, smoky drawl and his own cologne-scented weather. He ministers exclusively to umps, piling through stadium crowds with an awkward, hammering limp acquired years ago when a horse bucked him on the farm in Oklahoma where he lives with his wife. (Debrah Esskew runs a parallel ministry for umpires' wives and girlfriends.)
Before Calling for Christ, Pastor Dean spent 20 years leading small rural churches; his dream was to preach in front of a stained glass window someday, somewhere nice. Now he flies and drives between ballparks all summer to hold informal late-night Bible groups at sports bars after games. He spends about 20 weeks on the road every season, visiting four or five crews a week.
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Commentator John McDonough recalls the last great reunion of Civil War veterans from the North and South. It took place July 3-5, 1938, on the 75th anniversary of Gettysburg — at Gettysburg, Pa. At the time, the whole country was almost painfully aware that the last living links to a decisive event were about to slip away.... Between 1861 and 1865, two and a half million men served in the Union Army. Figures are less precise for Confederate forces. About 620,000 were killed on both sides.
Fifty years later, in 1913, more than 50,000 veterans returned to Gettysburg. It would be the largest Civil War reunion ever. Veteran groups talked for several years about a 75th reunion. But by 1938, the roll call of veterans still alive had shrunk to about 10,000. A final reunion became possible when the federal government offered to provide free transportation.
read or listen to it all from NPR.
We pray, O almighty and eternal God, who through Jesus Christ has revealed thy glory to all nations, to preserve the works of your mercy, that your Church, being spread through the whole world, may continue with unchanging faith in the confession of your name.
We pray Thee, who alone are good and holy, to endow with heavenly knowledge, sincere zeal and sanctity of life, our chief bishop, the pope, the vicar of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the government of his Church; our own bishop, all other bishops, prelates and pastors of the Church; and especially those who are appointed to exercise among us the functions of the holy ministry, and conduct your people into the ways of salvation.
A good historial reminder--read it all.
'You and I have been wonderfully spared," Thomas Jefferson wrote John Adams in 1812...."
It's easy now, in a nation awash with complaints about what our Founders did not do, what imperfect humans they seem to 21st century eyes, to overlook how startlingly bold their views and actions were in their own day and are, in fact, even today. Who else in 1776 declared, let alone thought it a self-evident truth, that all men were created equal, entitled to inalienable rights, or to any rights at all? How few declare these views today or, glibly declaring them, really intend to treat their countrymen or others as equal, entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?
Certainly not America's 20th century enemies, the Nazis and communists; certainly not today's Islamic radicals, who consider infidels unworthy to live and the faithful bound by an ancient and brutal code of law. We are fortunate that the Founders of our nation were enlightened, generous, jealous of their rights and those of their countrymen, and prepared to risk everything to create a free republic.
Breaking with Britain was a risky and distressing venture; could the American colonies go it alone and survive in a world of great European powers?
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Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.
--From "Ring out, Wild Bells," part of In Memoriam, Tennyson's elegy to Arthur Henry Hallam, 1850
This remains one of the most unlikely stories of history. Because Jefferson inserted an abstract truth into a bloody, fratricidal struggle, Lincoln could claim the mantle of the Founders during a bloodier struggle, essentially refounding the country on the best interpretation of its principles. After a further century of African American suffering, striving and demand, Lyndon Johnson could sign the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and hand a pen to Martin Luther King Jr. Slowly, awkwardly, America was learning to understand its own language.
This story justifies a mix of realism and idealism. Our advance toward the ideals of the Declaration has been protracted, violent and often hypocritical. And yet: All men are created equal. The phrase is enough to cause a catch in the throat.
Recently I met with a group of democracy activists from Burma. During lunch, I sat next to a young man who appeared college-aged. I found that he had already spent 5½ years in prison for organizing student protests. The idea of equality still drives people to amazing, almost irrational, sacrifices. It remains the most disruptive, hopeful force of history: All men are created equal. Just a whisper of the words is enough to cause humble people to sacrifice everything; enough to cause tyrants to fear.
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... the geopolitics are favorable and the ideological climate is warming. But on a still-deeper level this is shaping up to be an even more American century than the last. The global game is moving towards America's home court.
The great trend of this century is the accelerating and deepening wave of change sweeping through every element of human life. Each year sees more scientists with better funding, better instruments and faster, smarter computers probing deeper and seeing further into the mysteries of the physical world. Each year more entrepreneurs are seeking to convert those discoveries and insights into ways to produce new things, or to make old things better and more cheaply. Each year the world's financial markets are more eager and better prepared to fund new startups, underwrite new investments, and otherwise help entrepreneurs and firms deploy new knowledge and insight more rapidly....This challenge will not go away....
Everybody is going to feel the stress, but the United States of America is better placed to surf this transformation than any other country. Change is our home field. It is who we are and what we do. Brazil may be the country of the future, but America is its hometown.
Read it all (dated, but still oh so relevant).
Self proclaimed know-it-all A.J. Jacobs talks with Scott Simon about lost facts and heroes from the American Revolution.
Listen to it all (just under 3 minutes).
Watch it all, and be forewarned, you are not likely going to make it through the whole thing without Kleenex--KSH.
On July 4, 1826, 50 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died within hours of each other. It’s said that George Washington’s retirement after two terms in office ensured democratic order, but the American experiment was truly vindicated in 1801 when Adams, the nation’s second president, ceded power peaceably to Jefferson, America’s third.
To a world familiar with the failures of monarchism and the convulsions of the French Revolution, the orderly transition between bitter political rivals proved that democracy was tenable.
“Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists,” Jefferson said about the chief parties of his day. It is a message worth repeating during our own fractious times.
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"Today we stand on an awful arena, where character which was the growth of centuries was tested and determined by the issues of a single day. We are compassed about by a cloud of witnesses; not alone the shadowy ranks of those who wrestled here, but the greater parties of the action--they for whom these things were done. Forms of thought rise before us, as in an amphitheatre, circle beyond circle, rank above rank; The State, The Union, The People. And these are One. Let us--from the arena, contemplate them--the spiritual spectators.
"There is an aspect in which the question at issue might seem to be of forms, and not of substance. It was, on its face, a question of government. There was a boastful pretence that each State held in its hands the death-warrant of the Nation; that any State had a right, without show of justification outside of its own caprice, to violate the covenants of the constitution, to break away from the Union, and set up its own little sovereignty as sufficient for all human purposes and ends; thus leaving it to the mere will or whim of any member of our political system to destroy the body and dissolve the soul of the Great People. This was the political question submitted to the arbitrament of arms. But the victory was of great politics over small. It was the right reason, the moral consciousness and solemn resolve of the people rectifying its wavering exterior lines according to the life-lines of its organic being.
"There is a phrase abroad which obscures the legal and moral questions involved in the issue,--indeed, which falsifies history: "The War between the States". There are here no States outside of the Union. Resolving themselves out of it does not release them. Even were they successful in intrenching themselves in this attitude, they would only relapse into territories of the United States. Indeed several of the States so resolving were never in their own right either States or Colonies; but their territories were purchased by the common treasury of the Union. Underneath this phrase and title,--"The War between the States"--lies the false assumption that our Union is but a compact of States. Were it so, neither party to it could renounce it at his own mere will or caprice. Even on this theory the States remaining true to the terms of their treaty, and loyal to its intent, would have the right to resist force by force, to take up the gage of battle thrown down by the rebellious States, and compel them to return to their duty and their allegiance. The Law of Nations would have accorded the loyal States this right and remedy.
"But this was not our theory, nor our justification. The flag we bore into the field was not that of particular States, no matter how many nor how loyal, arrayed against other States. It was the flag of the Union, the flag of the people, vindicating the right and charged with the duty of preventing any factions, no matter how many nor under what pretence, from breaking up this common Country.
"It was the country of the South as well as of the North. The men who sought to dismember it, belonged to it. Its was a larger life, aloof from the dominance of self-surroundings; but in it their truest interests were interwoven. They suffered themselves to be drawn down from the spiritual ideal by influences of the physical world. There is in man that peril of the double nature. "But I see another law", says St. Paul. "I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind."
--Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (1828-1914). The remarks here are from Chamberlain’s address at the general dedicatory exercises in the evening in the court house in Gettsyburg on the occasion of the dedication of the Maine monuments. It took place on October 3, 1889. For those who are history buffs you can see an actual program of the events there (on page 545)--KSH.
What was the Founders' attitude toward religion in the country?
Public virtue was seen as necessary for a republic, and most believed that virtue was produced by religion. There was a strong view that religion was necessary to turn out good citizens.
Many of the Founders were well versed in religious and theological matters. How did this affect their work as architects of the republic?
They could quote Scripture. Jefferson and others were tutored by ministers. They were an extremely biblically literate generation. This certainly shaped their view of Providence. The extent to which they believed in Providence would be unimaginable today.
Adams and folks like that continually quoted [Jesus'] statement that a swallow cannot fall without God's knowledge. Washington talks about the invisible hand of Providence. Their biblical knowledge convinced these people that there was an invisible hand of God, and that there was a moral government of the universe.
Read it all.
In Congress, July 4, 1776.
The UNANIMOUS DECLARATION of the THIRTEEN UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.
To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world....
Worthy of much pondering, on this day especially--read it all.
"In Philadelphia, the same day as the British landing on Staten Island, July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress, in a momentous decision, voted to 'dissolve the connection' with Great Britain. The news reached New York four days later, on July 6, and at once spontaneous celebrations broke out. 'The whole choir of our officers ... went to a public house to testify our joy at the happy news of Independence. We spent the afternoon merrily,' recorded Isaac Bangs."
"A letter from John Hancock to Washington, as well as the complete text of the Declaration, followed two days later:
"'That our affairs may take a more favorable turn,' Hancock wrote, 'the Congress have judged it necessary to dissolve the connection between Great Britain and the American colonies, and to declare them free and independent states; as you will perceive by the enclosed Declaration, which I am directed to transmit to you, and to request you will have it proclaimed at the head of the army in the way you shall think most proper.' "Many, like Henry Knox, saw at once that with the enemy massing for battle so close at hand and independence at last declared by Congress, the war had entered an entirely new stage. The lines were drawn now as never before, the stakes far higher. 'The eyes of all America are upon us,' Knox wrote. 'As we play our part posterity will bless or curse us.'
"By renouncing their allegiance to the King, the delegates at Philadelphia had committed treason and embarked on a course from which there could be no turning back.
"'We are in the very midst of a revolution,' wrote John Adams, 'the most complete, unexpected and remarkable of any in the history of nations.'
"In a ringing preamble, drafted by Thomas Jefferson, the document declared it 'self-evident' that 'all men are created equal,' and were endowed with the 'unalienable' rights of 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.' And to this noble end the delegates had pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.
"Such courage and high ideals were of little consequence, of course, the Declaration itself being no more than a declaration without military success against the most formidable force on Earth. John Dickinson of Pennsylvania, an eminent member of Congress who opposed the Declaration, had called it a 'skiff made of paper.' And as Nathanael Greene had warned, there were never any certainties about the fate of war.
"But from this point on, the citizen-soldiers of Washington's army were no longer to be fighting only for the defense of their country, or for their rightful liberties as freeborn Englishmen, as they had at Lexington and Concord, Bunker Hill and through the long siege at Boston. It was now a proudly proclaimed, all-out war for an independent America, a new America, and thus a new day of freedom and equality."
----David McCullough, 1776
O! say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming.
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming.
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
--Francis Scott Key (1779-1843)
Almost every American knows the traditional story of July Fourth—the soaring idealism of the Declaration of Independence, the Continental Congress's grim pledge to defy the world's most powerful nation with their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. But what else about revolutionary America might help us feel closer to those founders in their tricornered hats, fancy waistcoats and tight knee-breeches?
Those Americans, it turns out, had the highest per capita income in the civilized world of their time. They also paid the lowest taxes—and they were determined to keep it that way.
By 1776, the 13 American colonies had been in existence for over 150 years—more than enough time for the talented and ambitious to acquire money and land. At the top of the South's earners were large planters such as George Washington. In the North their incomes were more than matched by merchants such as John Hancock and Robert Morris. Next came lawyers such as John Adams, followed by tavern keepers, who often cleared 1,000 pounds a year, or about $100,000 in modern money. Doctors were paid comparatively little. Ditto for dentists, who were almost nonexistent....
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Long, too long America,
Traveling roads all even and peaceful you learn'd from joys and
But now, ah now, to learn from crises of anguish, advancing,
grappling with direst fate and recoiling not,
And now to conceive and show to the world what your children
en-masse really are,
(For who except myself has yet conceiv'd what your children en-masse
--Walt Whitman (1819-1892)
Lord God Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us, and who lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn: Grant that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain our liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Graduates around the world gather at the end of spring for one final lesson: the commencement speech.
It’s a time when luminaries from business, politics and the arts deliver wisdom (and humor) to students eager for the next stage. Susan Wojcicki recalled watching the first item uploaded to Google Video—a purple, furry puppet, dancing and singing in Swedish—with no idea what to think. Until her children saw it—and cheered. Marc Benioff shared that time he did “what all lost thirty-somethings do: travel to India.”
We’ve pulled together memorable addresses from 2014 (with a splash from the speeches of yore). Did we miss any? Tell us what you think in the comments.
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Seeing the United States players pinging the ball around with purpose, making determined runs upfield and generally setting the tempo of play after falling behind Belgium, many fans may have thought or yelled out the same thing.
Why couldn’t they play that way earlier?
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann has often thought the same thing. A day after the United States was knocked out of the World Cup in the Round of 16, Klinsmann acknowledged that he would leave Brazil with a set of questions to answer and challenges to tackle.
“When you get out in the Round of 16, clearly it gives you the message you have a lot of work still ahead of you,” he said Wednesday.
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Traci Butler and her husband cut out vacations after the U.S. recession five years ago. This week, the couple is taking their two boys on a weeklong trip that includes a July 4th visit to the nation’s capital, just a few weeks after touring Italy on their own.
In the aftermath of the recession, “things were much tighter,” said Butler, a special education teacher from Washington, Illinois, whose husband works for construction machinery maker Caterpillar Inc. “We didn’t have bonuses for a while. The last two years have been better.”
About 34.8 million people plan to drive 50 miles or more from home during the five days ending July 6, up from 34.1 million last year and the most since 2007, AAA, the biggest U.S. motoring organization, said June 26. The travel recovery is boosting sales for hotels and attractions, a sign that consumer confidence and consumer spending are on the mend, said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
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[Pro-life activist] McCullen's activities were indisputably peaceable. Yet the Massachusetts law criminalized them. Had she approached a willing listener to discuss abortion in a covered zone, she would have been subject to three months' imprisonment for a first offense, and two and a half years' imprisonment for each subsequent violation. The statute also prevented McCullen from entering the covered zone to sing or pray quietly.
The Massachusetts law meant that "McCullen [was] often reduced to raising her voice at patients from outside the zone—a mode of communication sharply at odds with the compassionate message she wishes to convey." The zones "also made it substantially more difficult for [her] to distribute literature to arriving patients." The Court noted that these burdens "have clearly taken their toll," citing undisputed testimony that the law substantially reduced the success of McCullen and her fellow litigants in persuading women not to terminate their pregnancies.
In striking down the Massachusetts law, the Court properly emphasized that "it is no accident that public streets and sidewalks have developed as venues for the exchange of ideas." And responding to arguments from the state that the buffer zones helped with administrative enforcement, the Court noted that "the prime objective of the First Amendment is not efficiency."
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