Posted by Kendall Harmon

Caitlin Doughty has been cutting pacemakers out of corpses, grinding human bones by hand, and loading bodies into cremation chambers for seven years. But the 30-year-old mortician doesn’t want to keep all the fun to herself: She thinks the rest of us should get to have a little more face time with the deceased. In her new book, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (that’s a cremation joke), Doughty argues for more acceptance of death in our culture—and tries to spark a wave of amateur undertaking.

Are you really saying that people should handle their loved ones’ bodies? Can we do that?

Most people think dead bodies are dangerous or that they’re required to hire a funeral director to prepare a body. I’m a licensed mortician, but I want to teach people that they don’t need me.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchBooksHealth & MedicineHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The fact that there are now two cowboy churches in the Fort Worth Stockyards is a sign of the times: Dozens of these churches have popped up in the last 15 years, constituting a rapidly growing constituency of new Western Christianity that embraces simple services over big-church productions.

Westby's church is a nondenominational congregation with a relaxed, indoor service featuring lots of music and no formal sermon. Miller's, meanwhile, is associated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas and has been open for a little more than a year with a focus on ministry that goes beyond Sunday morning.

The two pastors don't conflict or compete: They say there are enough cowboys, or at least enough people who want to worship like a cowboy, in the Stockyards to go around.

"Talking to someone about religion is like talking about politics," Miller said. "Talk to them about their horses and their spirituality, that's what they connect with."

Read it all.



Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* General InterestAnimals* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Theology

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Posted September 17, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sketched out scenarios in which U.S. Special Forces might need to embed with Iraqi or Kurdish troops engaged in direct combat with Islamic State fighters.

Under questioning from lawmakers, Dempsey acknowledged that Obama has vowed not to send U.S. ground combat forces back into Iraq, less than three years after the president fulfilled a campaign promise to extricate the military from a long, costly and unpopular war there.

But the general revealed that U.S. commanders have already sought permission, on at least one occasion, to deploy small teams of U.S. advisers into battle with Iraqi troops. Dempsey also suggested that, while Obama has held firm, he might be persuaded to change his mind.

Read it all from the Washington Post.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 16, 2014 at 5:48 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Janna Weaver is proud she’s managed to keep her bamboo plant alive for more than a year. She’s not quite ready for a pet yet, and a child? “Definitely not anytime soon.”

“I want to know who I am before I bring someone else into the equation,” said Weaver, 25, who has a master’s degree in exercise physiology and moved with her boyfriend to Dallas in July. “The longer I wait and the more established I am, the more I’ll be able to provide for the family.”

More U.S. millennial women, those born after 1980, are holding off on motherhood, which bodes well for their economic and social mobility and that of their future children, according to recent research. Odds are that lower U.S. birth rates are here to stay, even if some of the recession-induced decline reverses, said Isabel Sawhill, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyWomenYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted September 16, 2014 at 11:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan means that fewer American soldiers are in harm's way. But new data from the Department of Defense suggests that the drawdown has done little to solve the serious problem of military suicides. The rate of military self-inflicted deaths has stayed roughly the same even as combat deaths have fallen.

Last year alone, 475 active service members took their own lives according to a report published last week by the Department of Defense. In the same year, 127 soldiers lost their lives in the line of duty reported icasualties.org — a website that has been documenting war deaths since the Iraq War in 2003. That's the lowest level since 2008.

The same Department of Defense report said that 120 personnel took their own lives in the first quarter of 2014, a rate of nearly one soldier every day. That compares with 43 soldiers who lost their lives on the front line between January 1 and September 11, 2014.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologySuicide* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 16, 2014 at 6:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Police are trying to track down young women whom they believe have been lured over the internet to travel to Syria by Islamic State (Isis) with the promise of cash for babies.

At least three Somali families in Minneapolis have female members who have disappeared in the past six weeks. They are all from the St Paul area of the city. At the end of last month, a 19-year-old Somali woman from St Paul, who left home saying that she was attending a bridal shower, instead flew to Turkey and joined Isis in Syria.

On Friday, Shannon Conley, 19, from Colorado, pleaded guilty to trying to travel to the Middle East to enrol in Isis. She was arrested at Denver International airport in April with a one-way ticket and had been recruited online by a male militant in Syria.

Read it all (subscription required).


Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenReligion & CultureViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 15, 2014 at 5:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Americans' trust in each of the three branches of the federal government is at or near the lows in Gallup's trends, dating back to the early 1970s. Americans' trust in the legislative branch fell six percentage points this year to a new low of 28%. Trust in the executive branch dropped eight points, to 43%, and trust in the judicial branch, at 61%, is also the lowest measured to date.

The data are part of Gallup's annual update on trust in government, conducted in the Sept. 4-7 Governance poll. Gallup previously documented that Americans' trust in the federal government to handle both domestic and international problems slid to new lows this year.

Americans have generally had the least trust in the legislative branch, consisting of the House of Representatives and the Senate, but never lower than the 28% who do so now. The prior low was the 31% measured in 2011, shortly after Congress and the president engaged in contentious debt-ceiling negotiations.

Trust in the legislative branch had recovered slightly during the previous two years, to 34%, but is down significantly this year....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenateState GovernmentSupreme Court* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 15, 2014 at 1:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A “Yes” vote for independence would be an economic mistake for Scotland and a geopolitical disaster for the west, senior US figures – including Alan Greenspan – tell the Financial Times as Washington wakes up to the chance that its closest ally could break up this week.

Having assumed for months that “No” would win comfortably, Washington has reacted with alarm to opinion polls showing that Thursday’s referendum is going down to the wire. “We have an interest in seeing the UK remain strong, robust and united,” said Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UK--Scotland* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 15, 2014 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If the nation’s economy is on the mend, the voters of 2014 aren’t feeling it.

Despite continued signs of a halting but persistent national comeback, midterm voters remain frustrated and unhappy with the state of the economy, according to the latest POLITICO poll of likely voters in 2014 battleground states. Many appear to blame President Barack Obama: 57 percent of these voters disapprove of his economic leadership.

By every measure in the survey, a gloomy mood still pervades the electorate when it comes to kitchen-table issues: Just 23 percent say their personal financial situation has improved over the past year, versus 30 percent who say it has gotten worse.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

HIRSCH: I was completely shocked when Gabriel died and I tried to go back to work after a while and I couldn't really function at work and so in order to alleviate my grief I began to write a document in which I wrote down everything I could remember about Gabriel. I suddenly became desperate that I would forget things because I'd lost him so suddenly, so completely. It all was sort of a blur and I wanted to remember and I began to talk to my partner, to my ex-wife, to my sisters, to my mother, to Gabriel's friends and every day I went to a coffee shop and I basically tried to tell the story of Gabriel's life....

GREENE: You've said though that poetry is not a protection against grief.

HIRSCH: On the contrary, poetry takes courage because you have to face things and you try to articulate how you feel. I don't like the whole language of healing which seems to me so false. As soon as something happens to us in America everyone begins talking about healing, but before you heal you have to mourn and I found that poetry doesn't shield you from grief but it does give you an expression of that grief. And trying to express it, trying to articulate it gave me something to do with my grief.....

GREENE: Talking about - mourning and grief it makes me want to hear another passage from your poem. It's on page 73, and it starts with, I did not know the work.....

HIRSCH: (Reading) I did not know the work of mourning is like carrying a bag of cement up a mountain at night. The mountaintop is not in sight, because there is no mountaintop. Poor Sisyphus Greif. I did not know I would struggle through a ragged underbrush without an upward path. Because there is no path, there is only a blunt rock with a river to fall into and time with its medieval chambers. Time with its jagged edges and blunt instruments. I did not know the work of mourning is a laborer in the dark we carry inside ourselves. Though sometimes when I sleep I'm with him again and then I wake. Poor Sisyphus Greif. I'm not ready for your heaviness cemented to my body. Look closely and you will see almost everyone carrying bags of cement on their shoulders. That's why it takes courage to get out of bed in the morning and climb into the day.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenDrugs/Drug AddictionMarriage & FamilyPoetry & LiteraturePsychology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyPastoral Theology

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Posted September 15, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop T.D. Jakes, the founding pastor of the 30,000-member The Potter's House megachurch in Dallas, Texas, is making a weekly program based on his latest book as well as a daily talk show for national syndication in 2015 or 2016.

Jakes' weekly program will be based on his book, Instinct: The Power to Unleash Your Inborn Drive, and his daily talk show is also being developed, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Both shows will be produced through his TDJ Enterprises, a for-profit company, and its partners 44 Blue Productions and Enlight Entertainment. The shows will be targeted for national syndication in 2015 or 2016.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 14, 2014 at 2:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash were deeply religious people whose personal and professional lives were imbued with a sense of spiritual struggle and religious engagement. The 2005 biopic Walk the Line was very good at depicting the sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll aspect of Cash’s life and art, but, like almost all Hollywood movies, it steers clear of religion in general and of evangelical Protestant religion in particular. Also left out the film was the story of Johnny and June Carter Cash’s passionate engagement with Israel, an engagement that grew out of their religious beliefs. John’s interest in Israel started with a wish to visit the Christian holy sites and “walk where Jesus walked.” Cash’s initial visit to the Israel in 1966 was followed by a trip with June in 1968 and developed into a lifelong project to serve as advocates for the State of Israel, even when such advocacy was unfashionable among American performing artists.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMusicReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsEvangelicals* Theology

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Posted September 14, 2014 at 12:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

My first job at 13 was jumping in and out of a milk truck making deliveries. I told myself, "There is no way in God's creation that I'm going to be a milkman when I grow up."

I joined the army. Then, wouldn't you know it, I married a girl whose dad was a milkman.

When he was diagnosed with Parkinson's, he said that if I brought his daughter and grandchildren back to Seattle, he'd give me the business. It beat the hell out of getting shot at. I've been driving this route for 20 years.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchTravel* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted September 14, 2014 at 6:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are three reasons for this invisibility. The political left in the West associates Christian faith with dead white male imperialism and does not come naturally to the recognition that Christianity is now the globe’s most persecuted religion. And in the Middle East the Israel-Palestine question, with its colonial overtones, has been the left’s great obsession, whereas the less ideologically convenient plight of Christians under Islamic rule is often left untouched.

To America’s strategic class, meanwhile, the Middle East’s Christians simply don’t have the kind of influence required to matter. A minority like the Kurds, geographically concentrated and well-armed, can be a player in the great game, a potential United States ally. But except in Lebanon, the region’s Christians are too scattered and impotent to offer much quid for the superpower’s quo. So whether we’re pursuing stability by backing the anti-Christian Saudis or pursuing transformation by toppling Saddam Hussein (and unleashing the furies on Iraq’s religious minorities), our policy makers have rarely given Christian interests any kind of due.

Then, finally, there is the American right, where one would expect those interests to find a greater hearing. But the ancient churches of the Middle East (Eastern Orthodox, Chaldean, Maronites, Copt, Assyrian) are theologically and culturally alien to many American Catholics and evangelicals. And the great cause of many conservative Christians in the United States is the state of Israel, toward which many Arab Christians harbor feelings that range from the complicated to the hostile.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralSenateTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle East* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 14, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Previously, Business Insider examined ranked every state by how quickly the economies were growing. This time around, we calculated which states had the best economies outright.

We ranked each state on seven economic measures: the July unemployment rate; the change in nonfarm payroll jobs from June to July 2014; the 2013 GDP per capita; the 2012 per capita consumption; the 2013 average annual wage; the 2013 exports per capita; and the 2012 government expenditures.

No fair looking until you guess where your state falls if this applies to you. Then go and read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

2 Comments
Posted September 13, 2014 at 12:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Were these publications justified in rejecting this advertisement?

The simple answer is “yes.” And it has nothing to do with the truthfulness of the ad’s message or the lack thereof. Rather, these are independent evangelical publications who hold to a particular view of marriage. They have audiences with expectations about what is and isn’t consistent with a Christian worldview. And they should be free to only publish content that is consistent with both....

We’re now facing a perennial issue where activists on both sides of this debate expect to be invited to every party and demand to be heard in whatever forum they choose. I’m sorry, but a conservative publication should not be shamed for rejecting an ad that flies in the face of their convictions and beliefs. And, similarly, a liberal organization committed to marriage equality should be free to rescind a speaker’s invitation when they learn the speaker holds to a divergent position.

Have we finally arrived at a moment where Christians of mutual goodwill attack their brothers and sisters not only for disagreeing with their position on sexuality, but also for not advertising it for them?


Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyMediaReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

3 Comments
Posted September 13, 2014 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Twenty stories above ground zero, its existence and whereabouts known only to those who needed it, the Family Room served for a dozen years as a most private sanctuary from a most public horror.

It was spartan office space at a 54-story tower at 1 Liberty Plaza for families to be by themselves, a temporary haven where they could find respite from bad weather and the curious stares of passers-by. Piece by piece, without any planning, it was transformed into an elaborate shrine known only to them.

Unconstrained and undesigned, a profusion of intimate expressions of love and loss filled the walls of the room, the tabletops, the floors and, even, the windows, obscuring views of the World Trade Center site below, as if to say: Jim and John and Jonathan and Harvey and Gary and Jean and Welles and Isaias and Katherine and Christian and Judy are all here, with us, not down there in the ruins.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted September 12, 2014 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Preaching is really hard, and many churchgoing people have no idea what goes into preparing a sermon. Perhaps they shouldn't care, but preachers are disappointed to find that many folks think we just preach on Sundays and do little else. There are preachers who wait until Saturday night to get their sermons ready; they are either extremely gifted or stupid and lazy.

The late Rev. Dunstan Stout, a Roman Catholic missionary priest to the American community in Mexico City, was the best homilist I have heard, ever. I knew him in the mid-1960s, and he could deliver a four- to six-minute homily, hard-hitting and even accusatory, and everyone in the church believed he was speaking directly to them...[He said] "a homily or sermon must be Gospel-centered and relevant to the listeners." His final rule on preaching: "Never say anything from the pulpit that you do not believe."

Preachers, past and present, violate Father Stout's rules. Sometimes I suspect the problem is that these preachers have lost their Gospel faith and turned to their own agenda. One hears social justice and political agendas of all sorts preached, but little or nothing of the Gospel.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

7 Comments
Posted September 12, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Examine them all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketTerrorism* General InterestPhotos/Photography* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted September 11, 2014 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Shortly after 9/11, I visited the father of Muhammad Atta, the ringleader of the hijackers, in Cairo. Muhammad al-Amir Atta, the father, told me that, against all evidence, his son was still alive, that it was the Mossad that had framed him. He was angry and aggressive, but also seemed gripped by melancholy, and I sensed he knew the truth: That his son was a mass murderer, and that he was dead. We spoke for a few minutes, and I asked him a question he answered as if it were theoretical. I asked, What would motivate your son to do such a thing to innocent people? He answered, "You can't be a human and do this thing. It's impossible."

That is the crucial truth of 9/11. Osama Bin Laden had gathered to him men who were devoid of love, and who found in al Qaeda a vehicle for expressing their hatred of humanity. On the 10th anniversary of the murderous rampage committed by soulless men, we should remember the victims, and count our own blessings, and recommit ourselves to the suppression of evil and the protection of the innocent.

Read it all.

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

1 Comments
Posted September 11, 2014 at 4:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This really is quite something--explore it and see what strikes a chord with you.

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

0 Comments
Posted September 11, 2014 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Late in the morning of the Tuesday that changed everything, Lt. Heather “Lucky” Penney was on a runway at Andrews Air Force Base and ready to fly. She had her hand on the throttle of an F-16 and she had her orders: Bring down United Airlines Flight 93. The day’s fourth hijacked airliner seemed to be hurtling toward Washington. Penney, one of the first two combat pilots in the air that morning, was told to stop it.

The one thing she didn’t have as she roared into the crystalline sky was live ammunition. Or missiles. Or anything at all to throw at a hostile aircraft.

Except her own plane. So that was the plan.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryWomen* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted September 11, 2014 at 3:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One of the great themes of the Hebrew Scriptures is that God identifies with the suffering. There are all these great texts that say things like this: If you oppress the poor, you oppress to me. I am a husband to the widow. I am father to the fatherless. I think the texts are saying God binds up his heart so closely with suffering people that he interprets any move against them as a move against him. This is powerful stuff! But Christianity says he goes even beyond that. Christians believe that in Jesus, God’s son, divinity became vulnerable to and involved in - suffering and death! He didn’t come as a general or emperor. He came as a carpenter. He was born in a manger, no room in the inn.

But it is on the Cross that we see the ultimate wonder. On the cross we sufferers finally see, to our shock that God now knows too what it is to lose a loved one in an unjust attack. And so you see what this means? John Stott puts it this way. John Stott wrote: “I could never myself believe in God if it were not for the Cross. In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it?” Do you see what this means? Yes, we don’t know the reason God allows evil and suffering to continue, but we know what the reason isn’t, what it can’t be. It can’t be that he doesn’t love us! It can’t be that he doesn’t care. God so loved us and hates suffering that he was willing to come down and get involved in it. And therefore the Cross is an incredibly empowering hint. Ok, it’s only a hint, but if you grasp it, it can transform you. It can give you strength.

And lastly, we have to grasp an empowering hope for the future. In both the Hebrew Scriptures and even more explicitly in the Christian Scriptures we have the promise of resurrection....

Read it carefully (noting especially the original setting as described) and read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

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Posted September 11, 2014 at 1:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When astronauts describe the feeling of sailing around space, looking at our planet from hundreds of miles above, they often invoke the phrase “orbital perspective,” a shorthand for the emotional, psychological, and intellectual effects of seeing “the Earth hanging in the blackness of space.” This experience is characterized by not merely awe, but, as astronaut Ron Garan puts it, “a sobering contradiction. On the one hand, I saw this incredibly beautiful, fragile oasis—the Earth. On the other, I was faced with the unfortunate realities of life on our planet for many of its inhabitants.”

This tension was particularly poignant on 9/11, when the effects of violence on Earth were actually visible from space, as captured in the photograph above. At the time, three people were not on Earth: Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Tyurin and Vladimir Dezhurov, and American Frank Culbertson, making Culbertson the only American not on Earth during the 9/11 attacks.

Over the course of that night and into the following few days, Culbertson wrote a letter to those at home, and his words echo that orbital perspective Garan describes. “It’s horrible to see smoke pouring from wounds in your own country from such a fantastic vantage point,” he wrote. “The dichotomy of being on a spacecraft dedicated to improving life on the earth and watching life being destroyed by such willful, terrible acts is jolting to the psyche.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted September 11, 2014 at 11:54 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President and Mrs. Bush, I want to say a personal word on behalf of many people. Thank you, Mr. President, for calling this day of prayer and remembrance. We needed it at this time.

We come together today to affirm our conviction that God cares for us, whatever our ethnic, religious, or political background may be. The Bible says that He’s the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles. No matter how hard we try, words simply cannot express the horror, the shock, and the revulsion we all feel over what took place in this nation on Tuesday morning. September eleven will go down in our history as a day to remember.

Today we say to those who masterminded this cruel plot, and to those who carried it out, that the spirit of this nation will not be defeated by their twisted and diabolical schemes. Someday, those responsible will be brought to justice, as President Bush and our Congress have so forcefully stated. But today we especially come together in this service to confess our need of God.

Today we say to those who masterminded this cruel plot, and to those who carried it out, that the spirit of this nation will not be defeated by their twisted and diabolical schemes. Someday, those responsible will be brought to justice, as President Bush and our Congress have so forcefully stated. But today we especially come together in this service to confess our need of God.

We’ve always needed God from the very beginning of this nation, but today we need Him especially. We’re facing a new kind of enemy. We’re involved in a new kind of warfare. And we need the help of the Spirit of God. The Bible words are our hope: God is our refuge and strength; an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way, and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.

But how do we understand something like this? Why does God allow evil like this to take place? Perhaps that is what you are asking now. You may even be angry at God. I want to assure you that God understands these feelings that you may have. We’ve seen so much on our television, on our — heard on our radio, stories that bring tears to our eyes and make us all feel a sense of anger. But God can be trusted, even when life seems at its darkest.

But what are some of the lessons we can learn? First, we are reminded of the mystery and reality of evil. I’ve been asked hundreds of times in my life why God allows tragedy and suffering. I have to confess that I really do not know the answer totally, even to my own satisfaction. I have to accept by faith that God is sovereign, and He’s a God of love and mercy and compassion in the midst of suffering. The Bible says that God is not the author of evil. It speaks of evil as a mystery. In 1st Thessalonians 2:7 it talks about the mystery of iniquity. The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah said “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” Who can understand it?” He asked that question, ‘Who can understand it?’ And that’s one reason we each need God in our lives.

The lesson of this event is not only about the mystery of iniquity and evil, but secondly it’s a lesson about our need for each other. What an example New York and Washington have been to the world these past few days. None of us will ever forget the pictures of our courageous firefighters and police, many of whom have lost friends and colleagues; or the hundreds of people attending or standing patiently in line to donate blood. A tragedy like this could have torn our country apart. But instead it has united us, and we’ve become a family. So those perpetrators who took this on to tear us apart, it has worked the other way — it’s back lashed. It’s backfired. We are more united than ever before. I think this was exemplified in a very moving way when the members of our Congress stood shoulder to shoulder the other day and sang “God Bless America.”

Finally, difficult as it may be for us to see right now, this event can give a message of hope — hope for the present, and hope for the future. Yes, there is hope. There’s hope for the present, because I believe the stage has already been set for a new spirit in our nation. One of the things we desperately need is a spiritual renewal in this country. We need a spiritual revival in America. And God has told us in His word, time after time, that we are to repent of our sins and return to Him, and He will bless us in a new way. But there’s also hope for the future because of God’s promises. As a Christian, I hope not for just this life, but for heaven and the life to come. And many of those people who died this past week are in heaven right now. And they wouldn’t want to come back. It’s so glorious and so wonderful. And that’s the hope for all of us who put our faith in God. I pray that you will have this hope in your heart.

This event reminds us of the brevity and the uncertainty of life. We never know when we too will be called into eternity. I doubt if even one those people who got on those planes, or walked into the World Trade Center or the Pentagon last Tuesday morning thought it would be the last day of their lives. It didn’t occur to them. And that’s why each of us needs to face our own spiritual need and commit ourselves to God and His will now.

Here in this majestic National Cathedral we see all around us symbols of the cross. For the Christian — I’m speaking for the Christian now — the cross tells us that God understands our sin and our suffering. For He took upon himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, our sins and our suffering. And from the cross, God declares “I love you. I know the heart aches, and the sorrows, and the pains that you feel, but I love you.” The story does not end with the cross, for Easter points us beyond the tragedy of the cross to the empty tomb. It tells us that there is hope for eternal life, for Christ has conquered evil, and death, and hell. Yes, there’s hope.

I’ve become an old man now. And I’ve preached all over the world. And the older I get, the more I cling to that hope that I started with many years ago, and proclaimed it in many languages to many parts of the world. Several years ago at the National Prayer Breakfast here in Washington, Ambassador Andrew Young, who had just gone through the tragic death of his wife, closed his talk with a quote from the old hymn, “How Firm A Foundation.” We all watched in horror as planes crashed into the steel and glass of the World Trade Center. Those majestic towers, built on solid foundations, were examples of the prosperity and creativity of America. When damaged, those buildings eventually plummeted to the ground, imploding in upon themselves. Yet underneath the debris is a foundation that was not destroyed. Therein lies the truth of that old hymn that Andrew Young quoted: “How firm a foundation.”

Yes, our nation has been attacked. Buildings destroyed. Lives lost. But now we have a choice: Whether to implode and disintegrate emotionally and spiritually as a people, and a nation, or, whether we choose to become stronger through all of the struggle to rebuild on a solid foundation. And I believe that we’re in the process of starting to rebuild on that foundation. That foundation is our trust in God. That’s what this service is all about. And in that faith we have the strength to endure something as difficult and horrendous as what we’ve experienced this week.

This has been a terrible week with many tears. But also it’s been a week of great faith. Churches all across the country have called prayer meetings. And today is a day that they’re celebrating not only in this country, but in many parts of the world. And the words of that familiar hymn that Andrew Young quoted, it says, “Fear not, I am with thee. Oh be not dismayed for I am thy God and will give thee aid. I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand upon” my righteous — on “thy righteous, omnipotent hand.”

My prayer today is that we will feel the loving arms of God wrapped around us and will know in our hearts that He will never forsake us as we trust in Him. We also know that God is going to give wisdom, and courage, and strength to the President, and those around him. And this is going to be a day that we will remember as a day of victory. May God bless you all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

1 Comments
Posted September 11, 2014 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This is a long download but an important file to take the time to listen to and watch. There are a few pieces I would have wished to do differently in terms of the choices for specific content, but the actual footage and the music is valuable.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistoryMusicUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* General InterestPhotos/Photography* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted September 11, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Remember that the more specific you can be, the more the rest of us will get from your comments--KSH.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetHistoryUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

9 Comments
Posted September 11, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It isn't easy, but it is important--I make myself do this every year on this day. Watch it silently, and watch it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* General InterestPhotos/Photography* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted September 11, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



(Courtesy of our son Nathaniel Harmon, who now lives and works in NYC).

Filed under: * By KendallHarmon Family* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* General InterestPhotos/Photography* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted September 11, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Watch and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMusic* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted September 11, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almighty God, Lord of all compassion, We remember the terrible events of this day in America...[thirteen] years ago. We are reminded that we live in a broken and grievously divided world, where some are bent on terror and destruction.

We recall that day when planes speared into the twin towers in New York, that later collapsed in dust and fire to rubble; another hit the Pentagon, and a fourth crashed because brave men fought to stop it reaching its target....

Read it all from the NSW Council of Churches.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted September 11, 2014 at 4:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Smart-crack responses will not get one very far. Thus, when asked, “Are you a member of the organized church?” I can look at the chaos of polities and answer, “No, I am a Lutheran.” Then: “Do you believe in institutional religion?” I can answer, “maybe I would if I were institutionalized and we had good chaplains.”

Two new books reviewed by Kaya Oakes...one by Linda Mercadante, the other by the Smith-Longest-Hill-Christofferson team, teach the smart-cracker to get not smart but wise, as these authors deal with SCNRs—Mercadante’s acronymic coinage for the “Spiritual But Not Religious.”

Mercadante writes: “No matter how organized religions try to ignore, challenge, adapt, or protest it, our society is being changed by this pervasive ethos.” Her studied types, “dissenters, casuals, explorers, seekers, and immigrants (to new beliefs), are often “millennials” who cannot return to the religion of their youth, “in part because many of them never had one.” - See more at: http://divinity.uchicago.edu/sightings/drift-away-martin-e-marty#sthash.e9l1DNGC.dpuf

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchBooksHistoryReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 10, 2014 at 3:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Now]...this week, his name now as much a part of NFL culture as its most famous players and teams, the 55-year-old commissioner began taking on heavy fire for his judgment and ability to perform his self-described job description. Scrutiny, particularly recently, is nothing new, but it has never been harsher than this week, following the publishing of a video Monday that showed former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, and then dragging her unconscious body out of an Atlantic City casino elevator. It was footage, Goodell told the “CBS Evening News” on Tuesday, he had not seen during the NFL’s earlier investigation into the matter.

Goodell’s words eased little of the pressure on the commissioner, and in fact, those in and around the NFL community have begun scrutinizing Goodell’s priorities and, in some cases, calling for his job.

Depending on viewpoint, the NFL was either unable despite its vast resources to procure the same video from the Revel Hotel and Casino that TMZ somehow acquired and published. Or, as TMZ reported Tuesday morning, the league simply never asked for it in an effort to ferry out a lighter punishment for Rice.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyMenSexualitySportsViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Rick Warren, founder and pastor of Saddleback Church in California, described Cathy "was a giant of a man in so many ways: a godly man, a wise husband and father, a business genius, a creative innovator, a humble... servant of Jesus Christ with rock-ribbed integrity, a generous philanthropist, and one who loved greatly, cared deeply for the poor, especially disadvantaged kids, and used his life and work to benefit others." - See more at: http://www.gospelherald.com/articles/52468/20140908/rick-warren-remembers-truett-cathy-godly-man-business-genius-humble-servant-jesus-christ.htm#sthash.bNjEq40B.dpuf

"Truett was a man truly who lived his faith, welcoming the homeless into his own home, improving the lives of thousands of disadvantaged kids, and giving them help and hope. Even after becoming a billionaire CEO, Truett continued to teach his weekly Sunday School class for 50 years. One of the five books he wrote summed up his attitude toward helping young boys in trouble: "It's Better To Build Boys Than Mend Men." Warren wrote on his Facebook page.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsRoman Catholic

0 Comments
Posted September 10, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Gallup's U.S. Economic Confidence Index remained at -17 in the first week of September, the same score as in the last week of August. For the sixth week in a row, index readings have not strayed from a narrow range of -15 to -17.

After the index took a tumble in late July, dropping briefly to -21 -- the lowest weekly reading it has seen in 2014 so far -- it recovered quickly, climbing to -15 in the week ending Aug. 3, and has held near that level since. For the year to date, the weekly index has averaged -16.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, Politics* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted September 9, 2014 at 4:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The diocese of Baton Rouge has asked the US Supreme Court to reverse a Louisiana Supreme Court decision that a priest may be compelled to testify as to what he heard in the confessional in 2008 concerning an abuse case.

The legal step is the latest in a case involving Father Jeffrey Bayhi, pastor of St John the Baptist Church in Zachary, Louisiana, and the sanctity of the seal of confession.

The petition to the US Supreme Court comes after a Louisiana Supreme Court ruling in May outlining arguments that priests are subject to mandatory reporting laws regarding abuse of minors if the person who made the confession waives confidentiality. The state Supreme Court opened the door for a hearing in which the priest would testify about what he heard in the confessional.

Under canon law, the seal of confession is sacred under the penalty of excommunication.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 9, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Whether their situation has been caused by domestic violence, a criminal conviction, a layoff, poverty, or any other number of challenges, clients of Bottomless Closet face significant barriers to gaining employment and self-sufficiency.

“Many times, the women we are working with come from very disadvantaged backgrounds,” says Kendall Farrell. “That can really take a toll on your self-esteem and your confidence, in terms of going out and getting a job – and advancing in a career.”

That’s where her organization comes into play.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchCharities/Non-Profit OrganizationsUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted September 9, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On her 27th day of living in a tiny room at a Tucson church known for pioneering the popular immigrant sanctuary movement in the 1980s, Rosa Robles Loreto swept a courtyard, prayed with a group of parishioners and greeted her uniformed son fresh off his baseball practice.

Robles Loreto is a 41-year-old immigrant who lacks legal status and is facing deportation after getting pulled over for a traffic infraction four years ago. She has vowed to remain in Southside Presbyterian Church until federal immigration authorities grant her leniency.

Robles Loreto is the third immigrant to take sanctuary in a church this year in Arizona, reviving a popular movement from the 1980s that sought to help Central American migrants fleeing civil wars stay in the U.S. by letting them live inside churches, where immigration officials generally do not arrest people.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted September 9, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It has been a little more than three years since the Kansas Cities — both Kansas and Missouri — won a national competition to be the first places to get Google Fiber, a fiber-optic network that includes cable television and Internet running at one gigabit a second. That is about 100 times as fast as the average connection in the United States (on which it would take about two-and-a-half minutes to download 612 kitten photos).

But be careful what you wish for. After a few million in waived permit fees and granting Google free access to public land, the area is finding out that Google Fiber is so fast, it’s hard to know what to do with it.

There aren’t really any applications that fully take advantage of Fiber’s speed, at least not for ordinary people. And since only a few cities have such fast Internet access, tech companies aren’t clamoring to build things for Fiber. So it has fallen to locals — academics, residents, programmers and small-business owners — to make the best of it.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & TechnologyUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted September 8, 2014 at 3:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Can the U.S. compete internationally? Its companies can. Its workers cannot.

That is the key finding from a new survey of Harvard Business School alumni that delves into their views of the U.S. business environment to see where the nation thrives and where it falters.

The survey shows the business executives see, on one hand, an uncompetitive K-12 education system, a poor tax code and a broken political system. On the other hand, they see high-quality capital markets, sophisticated management systems, pathbreaking universities and a vibrant environment for entrepreneurs.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 8, 2014 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mr Putin’s first choice was to suborn Ukraine without invading it, but by demonstrating his willingness to use force, he has sown fear—and, for Mr Putin, fear is the basic currency of politics. A puny, divided response has emasculated the West, which he thinks is bent on weakening and encircling Russia. For him, Russia’s post-Soviet history has been a catalogue of American-inflicted humiliation, which it is his mission to reverse. He wants his neighbours to be weak more than he wants Russians to be prosperous; he prefers vassals to allies.

This world view—a noxious compound of KGB cynicism and increasingly messianic Russian nationalism—propelled him into Ukraine. The idea that his adventurism will end in the Donbas is as naive as the theory that he would be satisfied when his troops wrenched Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia in 2008. This week Mr Putin rattled his sabre at Kazakhstan, still ruled by the elderly Nursultan Nazarbayev: any succession squabble would be an opportunity. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, small, ex-Soviet countries, have Russian-speaking minorities of the kind Mr Putin has undertaken to “protect”. These Baltic states joined NATO in 2004. But what if a Russian-financed separatist movement sprang up, a Baltic government claimed this amounted to an invasion and its NATO allies refused to help? The alliance’s bedrock—its commitment to mutual self-defence—would be shattered.

Mr Putin’s revanchism must therefore be stopped in Ukraine.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UKEuropeRussiaUkraine

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Father Christian Mondor marched across the sand Sunday morning toward the roaring Pacific followed by dozens of disciples, some carrying surfboards and others with bikini strings peeking out of shirt collars. The 89-year-old removed his white vestments and brown Franciscan habit to reveal a black wetsuit.

The crowd hooted and clapped. "Go Father Christian!" shouted Pedro Castagna, 47, clutching a dripping surfboard.

It was reasonable attire for the "Blessing of the Waves," an annual tradition that now attracts more than 1,000 people to a loose, multidenominational ocean-appreciation service, including Jews, Muslims, Mormons and Tongan singers. Sumo Sato, the burly, white-bearded Hawaiian pastor of the H2O Community Church, also made an appearance.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted September 7, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

LAWTON: Across the nation, the number of drug overdose deaths has increased one hundred and eighteen percent since 1999, with more than one hundred people dying from overdoses every day. According to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, those numbers represent a dramatic spike in the abuse of opioid drugs, including prescription pain killers and increasingly, heroin.

MICHAEL BOTTICELLI (White House Office of National Drug Control Policy): We have more people in the United States dying of drug related overdoses than we do motor vehicle fatalities and gunshots. And so from a public health perspective, we know that we have a huge epidemic on our hands.

[KIM] LAWTON: Michael Botticelli is acting director of the White House office, a job often known as the “drug czar.” He says the vast majority of heroin users started after abusing pain medicine.

BOTTICELLI: We know that the availability of very cheap, very pure heroin, has been on our streets. We know that addiction is a progressive disorder and that people often move from one substance to another in essence to basically maintain their addiction.

Read or watch and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted September 7, 2014 at 3:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With oil and natural gas production soaring in the US, consumers might expect lower prices at the pump and on their electric bills.

But that’s not happening. The summer driving season was the fourth most expensive on record, and residential electricity costs ballooned in the first half of 2014.

Meanwhile, US oil and natural gas production surges, fueled by innovative drilling in states like Texas, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania. Today, the US is the world’s largest producer of natural gas, and oil production rivals energy giants like Russia and Saudi Arabia.

So why are American consumers paying more, even as the supply of American fuel expands?

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

4 Comments
Posted September 7, 2014 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

America’s Pastor, historian Grant Wacker’s assessment of the long career of Billy Graham, is to be published at the end of November by Harvard University Press. It is a highly readable study of how ‘a lanky farm kid from North Carolina’ was to have such a major impact on American culture. More an academic interpretation of Graham’s life than a straightforward biography it does contain revelations that will shock some readers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 6, 2014 at 11:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...when Bishop Francis Y. Kalabat walked quietly from a side door into Mother of God’s sanctuary, it was with a grim sense that maybe now, finally, he and his flock would no longer be howling into the abyss. As he had written last month in an open letter that was posted in the church’s lobby, “We wish to scream, but there are no ears that wish to hear.”

For the last decade, in fact, the Chaldean Catholics of Iraq — members of an Eastern Rite church that is affiliated with Roman Catholicism while retaining its own customs and rites — have been suffering at the hands of the same kind of terrorists who killed Mr. Sotloff and Mr. Foley. During that period, the total Christian population of Iraq, the largest share of which is composed of Chaldean Catholics, has dropped to about 400,000 while as many as a million, by some estimates, have fled.

Churches have been destroyed, monasteries attacked, entire cities purged. Congregations have been bombed during worship. The bishop of Mosul, Paulos Faraj Rahho, was abducted and executed by Al Qaeda in Iraq six years ago. So the recent atrocities visited upon Iraqi Christians by ISIS are nothing remotely new. All that is new is an awareness of them outside the Chaldean-American enclaves of San Diego and metropolitan Detroit.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted September 6, 2014 at 11:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Next year, even more corporate workers are likely to be offered high-deductible plans — sometimes known more benignly as consumer-directed plans — and at a rising share of large companies, it will be the only option remaining.

Just as employers replaced pensions with retirement savings plans, more large companies appear to be in a similar cost-sharing shift with health plans. Besides making workers responsible for more of their care, employers hope these plans will motivate employees to comparison-shop for medical services — an admirable goal but one that some say is hard to achieve.

Several big companies started offering consumer-driven plans as their only option in the last couple of years, including JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, General Electric and Honeywell, among others; it is the only choice for Bank of America employees earning more than $100,000.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted September 6, 2014 at 8:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“I have been given the task of sharing the gospel,” said Brandon McCauley, an 18-year-old who just finished his senior year at Lebanon High School in Ohio, where he ran a lunchtime Bible study program. “I am offering you the opportunity to experience Jesus Christ,” McCauley exhorted fellow students, as he debated whether to pursue the ministry instead of higher education.

“I like being different,” said McCauley, explaining his motivation to tell classmates that they will end up in hell if they aren’t saved. “If you sin, you deserve death,” McCauley yelled, before getting choked up and concluding, “I’m the reason that He had to die … I am accepting that You died on the cross for me.”

American adults under 30 increasingly identify with no religion whatsoever, but some teenagers on the edge of this demographic are enthusiastically embracing faith. As the fraction of unaffiliated, agnostic, and atheist surpasses one-third of young people, proselytizing denominations are trying to win over the so-called “nones.”

A landmark Pew Research from 2012 shows that attachment by young people to organized religious bodies is on the decline.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSociologyYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 5, 2014 at 5:44 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the Taskforce for Reimagining The Episcopal Church (TREC) has progressed in our work, we have come to see the raising and unbinding of Lazarus as a helpful way of understanding this moment in the life of The Episcopal Church. We believe Jesus is calling our church to new life and vitality, but the church is held back by its bindings—old ways of working that no longer serve us well.

We write this as we begin the final months of our work, to give you an update about our thinking and emerging recommendations for your prayerful consideration and feedback. We will publish our final report and specific legislative proposals in December 2014....

The Episcopal Church’s structures and governance processes reflect assumptions from previous eras that do not always fit with today’s contexts. They have not adapted to the rapidly changing cultural, political, and social environments in which we live. The churchwide structures and governance processes are too disconnected from local needs and too often play a “gating” or regulatory role to local innovation. They are often too slow and confusing to deal decisively with tough and urgent tradeoffs or to pursue bold directions that must be set at the churchwide level. Our study and observations would suggest, for example, that:

■ General Convention has historically been most effective in deliberatively discerning and evolving the church’s position on large-scale issues (e.g., prayer book revision, reform of clergy formation and discipline canons, women’s ordination, same sex blessings). This should continue to be the primary role of General Convention....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 5, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United States is preparing to launch a "major" border security program to help Nigeria and its neighbors combat the increasing number and scope of attacks by Islamic extremists, a senior U.S. official for Africa said Thursday.

Nigerian insurgents have begun attacking villages in neighboring Cameroon and have been seizing land in northeast Nigeria where they proclaimed an Islamic caliphate.

Assistant Secretary of State Linda Thomas-Greenfield told a meeting of U.S. and Nigerian officials in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, that "Despite our collective efforts, the situation on the ground is worsening.

"The frequency and scope of Boko Haram's terror attacks have grown more acute and constitute a serious threat to this country's overall security," she said. "This is a sober reality check for all of us. We are past time for denial and pride."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireMilitary / Armed ForcesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeriaAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A lot has been written recently about the spiritual-but-not-religious crowd, or the “religious nones”--people who have no particular religious affiliation--and how their numbers are rapidly growing in the U.S. Recent reports place “nones” between just under 20 percent to as much as 23 percent of American adults. The largest segment of the population that claims no religious affiliation are young people under 30 years of age (32 percent), with the next-least-affiliated group those between 30 and 49 (21 percent).

Closer analysis of these trends reveal that the majority of the “nones” are interested in spirituality, and many are still drawn toward certain religious practices. But regardless of how this development is described or measured, the upshot is that people are going to religious services less frequently than in previous generations, and our traditional definitions of religion and religious institutions are mattering less in the daily lives of younger Americans. In our view, however, this does not mean that we are entering a new age of atheism or irreligion, but instead signals what we would describe as a coming wave of religious indifference.

Among the many reasons for the increasing numbers of “nones” and the decreasing ability of religious organizations to successfully appeal to people who otherwise have some religious affinity, we suggest the following five are the most important:

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSociologyYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Decades ago, baby boomers and older Gen Xers pushed to create churches centered on the young, nuclear family. Sadly, this ministry model now excludes many of us. Having outgrown the local church’s core programs, we’re left to usher, teach fourth-grade Sunday school, or attend committee meetings. At times, I can’t help thinking: Been there, done that. Got the Christian T-shirt to prove it.

While local churches work to reach a younger generation, some of their graying members are stepping away. In our 50s, 60s, and beyond, we face a new set of challenges: relationship shifts, loneliness, health risks, divorce, and death. Boomers have begun attending church less frequently, according to Barna Research, while Gen Xers registered a significant uptick in those with no church affiliation.

I recently took an informal survey on my blog, and heard from nearly 500 believers about their church experiences as they’ve gotten older. Most stayed involved, using their extra empty-nester time to serve and continue their relationships with other congregants. But a little less than half said they’d scaled back their involvement from what it had been a decade ago. Those who had downshifted or left cited weariness with church politics, increased career demands, significant time devoted to caring for parents or grandchildren, health issues, and a sense that they’d somehow outgrown their church. “I’m tired of the same programs year after year,” one said. “I want deeper relationships with fewer people, more spiritual exercises like prayer and meditation than the canned studies offered.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyMiddle AgePsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted September 4, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Judged in theological terms, the Osteen message is the latest and slickest version of Prosperity Theology. That American heresy has now spread throughout much of the world, but it began in the context of American Pentecostalism in the early twentieth century. Prosperity theology, promising that God rewards faith with health and wealth, first appealed to those described as “the dispossessed” — the very poor. Now, its updated version appeals to the aspirational class of the suburbs. Whereas the early devotees of Prosperity Theology prayed for a roof over their heads that did not leak, the devotees of prosperity theology in the Age of Osteen pray for ever bigger houses. The story of how the Osteens exercised faith for a big house comes early in Joel Osteen’s best-seller, Your Best Life Now.

According to Osteen, God wants to pour out his “immeasurable favor” on his human creatures, and this requires a fundamental re-ordering of our thinking. “To experience this immeasurable favor,” Osteen writes, “you must rid yourself of that small-minded thinking and start expecting God’s blessings, start anticipating promotion and supernatural increase. You must conceive it in your heart before you can receive it. In other words, you must make increase in your own thinking, then God will bring those things to pass.”

There is nothing really new in this message. Anyone familiar with the New Thought movement and later books such as Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich will see a persistent theme. The important issue is this — Prosperity Theology is a false Gospel. The problem with Prosperity Theology is not that it promises too much, but that it aims for so little. What God promises us in Christ is far above anything that can be measured in earthly wealth — and believers are not promised earthly wealth nor the gift of health.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyChristologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 4, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Gallup's U.S. Job Creation Index held steady in August at +28, tying the six-year high reached in July. This is up from +22 in August a year ago. The index has been fairly flat since May, when it reached +27, after trending up in the first few months of 2014.

Gallup's Job Creation Index is a measure of net hiring in the U.S. as reported by a nationally representative sample of full- and part-time workers. In August, 41% of workers said their employer is hiring and expanding the size of its workforce, while 13% said their employer is letting workers go and reducing the size of its workforce, resulting in the +28 net hiring score.

This is only the second month since 2008 -- the first being last month -- that slightly more workers reported their employer is hiring rather than maintaining the status quo.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted September 3, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"First day of school" photos have filled your Facebook and Instagram feeds. School crossing signs are popping up again on your daily commute. It's back-to-school time.

But not all kids are heading into comparable classrooms: There remains a raging debate over the quality—and equality—of public education in America.

In research conducted for the Barna FRAME, Schools in Crisis by Nicole Baker Fulgham, Barna Group asked Americans what they think about the country's public education: Only 7% of U.S. adults said the public education system in our nation is "very effective." Nearly half (46%) maintain that public schools have further declined in the last five years. A mere one-third of parents of school-age children (34%) say public schools are their first choice for their children.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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

Posted by The_Elves

In Kendall's absence, none of us elves have felt comfortable posting on the shooting of Michael Brown and the Ferguson MO situation, not having found any single article or commentary that really seemed worth recommending and up to T19 standards. But it seems a glaring absence on the blog this week NOT to have posted about Ferguson. So, we'd like to ask T19 readers: what links might you recommend? Especially welcome would be articles / commentaries that get beyond the headlines and give some context or offer a Christian perspective on the events. Thanks in advance. - the elves.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

6 Comments
Posted August 23, 2014 at 7:17 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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 LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireMarriage & FamilyRace/Race RelationsViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 16, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...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.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryPhilosophyPsychology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 14, 2014 at 6:19 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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 LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheism

2 Comments
Posted August 10, 2014 at 12:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident George BushPresident Barack ObamaTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

8 Comments
Posted August 10, 2014 at 6:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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 LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 9, 2014 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 9, 2014 at 11:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 9, 2014 at 8:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted August 7, 2014 at 9:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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-WatchGlobalizationHealth & MedicineScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 7, 2014 at 5:38 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationTeens / Youth* General InterestHumor / Trivia* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted August 6, 2014 at 3:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologySociology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 6, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 5, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPoetry & LiteratureReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPentecostal

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted August 4, 2014 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomy* International News & CommentaryAfricaAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaChina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 4, 2014 at 12:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsWicca / paganism

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Posted August 4, 2014 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

1 Comments
Posted August 4, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-Watch* General InterestAnimals* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted August 4, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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-WatchBooksHistoryPoetry & LiteratureReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted August 4, 2014 at 4:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchMovies & TelevisionScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted August 3, 2014 at 3:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted August 3, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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 LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMediaPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyPastoral Theology

2 Comments
Posted August 2, 2014 at 1:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UKEuropeRussiaUkraine* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 2, 2014 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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 LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureWomen* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

2 Comments
Posted August 1, 2014 at 11:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* International News & CommentaryAfricaAmerica/U.S.A.

4 Comments
Posted July 31, 2014 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchCharities/Non-Profit OrganizationsMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureTravel* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 31, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 31, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Read it all (emphasis his).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted July 31, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted July 31, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted July 30, 2014 at 3:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted July 30, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[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.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingHistoryReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAlcohol/DrinkingAlcoholismHealth & MedicineMarriage & Family* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 29, 2014 at 2:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.”

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyMenPsychologySexuality--PolyamoryWomen* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.


Posted July 28, 2014 at 11:12 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPrison/Prison MinistryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted July 28, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted July 27, 2014 at 11:19 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 26, 2014 at 3:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted July 25, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: South Carolina* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* TheologyEcclesiology

1 Comments
Posted July 25, 2014 at 4:48 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsIraq WarPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 24, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 24, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the Elderly* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingHousing/Real Estate MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 23, 2014 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted July 23, 2014 at 11:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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