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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

Read it all.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At no time in my life have I felt more palpable anxiety than at the beginning of my experience of clinical pastoral education in seminary. My first visit with a hospital patient went something like this: I said, “Hi. I’m the chaplain on the floor today. What’s your name?” The patient said: “Oh—well, nice to meet you. I hope you have a wonderful day.” And then I hightailed it out of the room.

Thanks to clinical pastoral education, I did get better at this ministry. I learned how to sit in silence when necessary, how to offer prayers, how to be part of difficult conversations in fruitful ways.

Core to my learning was writing up and discussing verbatims—written records of conversations in the clinical setting that approximated the verbal back and forth of visits with patients. In reviewing verbatims, pastoral interns learn how to share and invite people into more meaningful conversations.

The helpfulness of that experience has inspired the idea of another sort of clinical endeavor. The type of conversation that frequently terrifies me now is a little different, but I am no less awkward and no less in need of something like a verbatim to help me with it. Call the course I need CEE: clinical evangelistic education.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church GrowthMinistry of the LaityPastoral Care* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted July 23, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For several weeks prior to the scheduled lift-off of Apollo 11 back in July, 1969, the pastor of our church, Dean Woodruff, and I had been struggling to find the right symbol for the first lunar landing. We wanted to express our feeling that what man was doing in this mission transcended electronics and computers and rockets.

Dean often speaks at our church, Webster Presbyterian, just outside of Houston, about the many meanings of the communion service.

“One of the principal symbols,” Dean says, “is that God reveals Himself in the common elements of everyday life.” Traditionally, these elements are bread and wine—common foods in Bible days and typical products of man’s labor.

One day while I was at Cape Kennedy working with the sophisticated tools of the space effort, it occurred to me that these tools were the typical elements of life today. I wondered if it might be possible to take communion on the moon, symbolizing the thought that God was revealing Himself there too, as man reached out into the universe. For there are many of us in the NASA program who do trust that what we are doing is part of God’s eternal plan for man.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted July 22, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

According to Frederick Dalcho's An historical account of the Protestant Episcopal Church in South-Carolina how many Diocesan Conventions did South Carolina have BEFORE the first General Convention of the Episcopal Church in 1789?

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina

9 Comments
Posted July 21, 2014 at 7:18 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read or watch and listen to it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A woman in her late 20s came to see me recently because her back hurt. She works at a child care center in town where she picks up babies and small children all day long.

She felt a twinge in her lower back when hoisting a fussy kid. The pain was bad enough that she went home from work early and was laid out on the couch until she came to see me the next day.

In my office she told me she had "done some damage" to her back. She was worried. She didn't want to end up like her father, who'd left his factory job in his mid-50s on disability after suffering what she called permanent damage to his back.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetHealth & MedicinePsychologyScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Canada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 20, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As Merrick shares, “What I found helpful is to read those people who are being discussed and try and understand what they’re saying,” for two reasons:

You become a better thinker by honing your argument.
You become a more generous, thoughtful thinker.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted July 20, 2014 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tommy Underwood wasn’t even born when Billy Graham made his preaching debut in Florida, yet the Putnam County native easily recalls stories of the fledgling minister. The one about Billy Graham’s first sermon, for instance, was a particular favorite of Underwood’s late father, and, during a recent visit to the Billy Graham Library, Underwood shared the tale.

It was Easter weekend in 1937 when Billy Graham accompanied his college dean Rev. John Minder on a trip north of Tampa to Palatka, Florida. Tommy Underwood’s father, Cecil, greeted them and asked Minder if he would preach the upcoming weekend at nearby Bostwick Baptist Church. Minder declined and volunteered Billy Graham, much to the 18-year-old’s bewilderment. With knees knocking and four borrowed sermons to fall back on, Billy Graham delivered one after another in front of the 40 or so parishioners.

He concluded his first career sermon eight minutes later.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted July 20, 2014 at 2:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Have you ever heard a sermon about body image?

Aside from the occasional side comment, I've never heard body image given substantial treatment from the pulpit or serious attention from leaders in the church, which is surprising since body image is not a marginal issue in our culture.

Statistics vary, but research shows that somewhere between 80 percent and 90 percent of women are dissatisfied with their bodies. Although the percentage of women with severe eating disorders is between 0.5 percent and 3.7 percent, roughly 3 out of 4 engage in some form of disordered eating.

And in 2013, women had more than 10.3 million surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures, signifying a 471 percent increase since 1997. The top procedures were breast augmentation, liposuction, tummy tuck, breast lift, and eyelid surgery.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted July 20, 2014 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

James Garner, the US star of hit TV series The Rockford Files and Maverick and films including The Great Escape, has died aged 86.

Garner had suffered ill health since a severe stroke in 2008.

"Mr Garner died of natural causes," the West LA Division of the Los Angeles Police Department told the BBC, adding he died on Saturday and his body has been released to his family.

His publicist confirmed to the BBC that he died at home.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchMovies & Television* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

7 Comments
Posted July 20, 2014 at 12:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Rodney Durham stopped working in 1991, declared bankruptcy and lives on Social Security. Nonetheless, Wells Fargo lent him $15,197 to buy a used Mitsubishi sedan.

“I am not sure how I got the loan,” Mr. Durham, age 60, said.

Mr. Durham’s application said that he made $35,000 as a technician at Lourdes Hospital in Binghamton, N.Y., according to a copy of the loan document. But he says he told the dealer he hadn’t worked at the hospital for more than three decades. Now, after months of Wells Fargo pressing him over missed payments, the bank has repossessed his car.

This is the face of the new subprime boom. Mr. Durham is one of millions of Americans with shoddy credit who are easily obtaining auto loans from used-car dealers, including some who fabricate or ignore borrowers’ abilities to repay.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 20, 2014 at 12:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Here are 6 ways corporations act religiously:
1. They give generously from their company’s profits.

Manoj Bhargava, the reclusive founder and owner of the billion-dollar enterprise 5 Hour Energy, is a deeply religious man. He spent his twenties as a monk in India, traveling between monasteries on a spiritual quest. To this day, Bhargava spends an hour each morning in meditation, and he says that while he has “made a lot of money in the West,” he does “not believe in much personal consumption.” Bhargava has committed 90 percent of his company’s profits to charity, primarily to Hindu charities in India.

Bhargava predicts that over the next 10 years the company will give away over $1 billion to charity. Similarly, Christian brothers and business owners in Memphis recently gave their entire $250 million company away to their charitable foundation.

2. They are guided by their sacred texts.

Talia Mashiach is the high-powered founder of Eved, an e-commerce company. She is also an Orthodox Jew who draws upon her faith to lead her business and her employees. Eved now employs 50 people and processes over $80 million annually in transactions. Like many entrepreneurs, she experiences the tensions of integrating her faith with her business, but she gleans guidance from the Torah, the Jewish holy book.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 19, 2014 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A new US geological survey indicates that some parts of the US are at an increased risk of earthquakes, especially along the east coast.

New seismic hazard maps updated for the first time since 2008 show highest risk west but also increased risk east.

"The eastern US has the potential for larger and more damaging earthquakes than considered in previous maps and assessments," the report states.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* General InterestNatural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc.* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

1 Comments
Posted July 19, 2014 at 11:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all and read part two there also.



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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some of the survey’s findings are not surprising. The arrival of children and the subsequent triangulation of the relationship and lack of bandwidth, time, money and energy makes a couple far more susceptible to the desire to stray. And the rise of the social networks make such straying much easier: easier to start, easier to arrange and easier to hide. (It may make it a little harder to end quietly though, especially if one of the parties feels aggrieved.)

Some other findings are a little more unexpected, however. For the vast majority of folks 18 to 49 years old, at least in Austin, Omaha, Nashville and Phoenix, where this study took place, cheating is an absolute dealbreaker. A full 94% of respondents would rather never marry than end up with a person they knew would cheat and 82% of them have “zero tolerance” for infidelity. Yet 81% of people admitted they’d cheat if they knew there wouldn’t be any consequences and 42% of the survey takers, in equal parts men and women, admitted to already having cheated.

Read it all.


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

0 Comments
Posted July 18, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As long as that phone is acting as a kind of electronic umbilical cord, parents can tell themselves their children are safe.

But increasingly the smartphone itself is an instrument of harm. Such is the case with a 16-year-old Houston girl named Jada, who entered the spotlight as she publicly confronted the evidence that she had been raped at a party by at least one other teenager. She says she passed out after drinking a beverage that was spiked and only learned of the crime after her classmates began tweeting photos and videos taken of her unconscious, partly nude body. (Houston police are investigating; no one has been charged.)

What happened next is remarkable in ways that instill faith in the human spirit and at the same time provoke disgust at the depravity and lemming-like behavior that teenagers with smartphones are capable of.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingChildrenMarriage & FamilyScience & TechnologyTeens / YouthViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 17, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A clergyman who led a huge downtown congregation in Chicago has been appointed minister of the most important Presbyterian church in Scotland.

The Rev Calum MacLeod, 46, was chosen as minister of St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, in succession to the Very Rev Dr Gilleasbuig Macmillan, after preaching at the weekend to his new Edinburgh congregation.

Yesterday, in an interview with The Times, he signalled his intention to confront what is widely perceived in the Kirk as raucous secularism within wider society and to seek to increase his congregation.

The contrast between the minister’s new parish and his old church could hardly be stronger. Though both are important city-centre institutions, the Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago has a membership of 5,500, about 11 times larger than St Giles.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* Theology

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Posted July 16, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ms. Yellen, in downplaying concerns about financial stability, said the economic recovery remained incomplete and the Fed’s help was necessary.

“Too many Americans remain unemployed, inflation remains below our longer-run objective and not all of the necessary financial reform initiatives have been completed,” Ms. Yellen told the Senate Banking Committee.

Ms. Yellen’s testimony is likely to reinforce a sense of complacency among investors who regard the Fed as convinced of its forecast and committed to its policy course. She reiterated the Fed’s view that the economy will continue to grow at a moderate pace, and that the Fed is in no hurry to start increasing short-term interest rates.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentFederal Reserve* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted July 15, 2014 at 12:47 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Anglicans seem to be hopeful about their flocks in the United States, even if the warring factions in their Communion keep moving further and further apart.

That was a common theme in two upbeat recent sermons preached by leaders in the progressive and orthodox Anglican bodies now competing in the marketplace of American religion.

In the first sermon, Father Cameron Partridge became the first openly transgender priest to preach at Washington National Cathedral. The June 22 liturgy was part of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride month....

Two days later, an archbishop on the other side of this doctrinal divide [Robert Duncan] spoke for the American Anglicans who believe they have been punished for their defense of 2,000 years of Christian orthodoxy on matters of marriage, family and sexuality.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)Episcopal Church (TEC)* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 15, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"On a sunny day in September, 1972, a stern-faced, plainly dressed man could be seen standing still on a street corner in the busy Chicago Loop. As pedestrians hurried by on their way to lunch or business, he would solemnly lift his right arm, and pointing to the person nearest him, intone loudly the single word, ‘GUILTY!’"Then, without any change of expression, he would resume his stiff stance for a few moments before repeating the gesture. Then, again, the inexorable raising of his arm, the pointing, and the solemn pronouncing of the one word, ‘GUILTY!’

"The effect of this strange j’accuse pantomime on the passing strangers was extraordinary, almost eerie. They would stare at him, hesitate, look away, look at each other, and then at him again; then hurriedly continue on their ways.

"One man, turning to another who was my informant, exclaimed: ‘But how did he know?’ "No doubt many others had similar thoughts. How did he know, indeed?
--Karl Menninger, "Whatever Became of Sin?" which you may find in The Rotarian of January 1974 there, his emphasis (These are also the words at beginning of his famous book of the same title)

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bad stats. When will we learn? Is anybody willing to own it?

Thankfully, at least one person is.

Tyler Charles. Charles is author of the original piece in RELEVANT magazine.

On Monday of this week, Tyler Charles wrote a helpful mea culpa over at High Calling. In it, he admitted what he called his own "amateur" journalism and confessed to being guilty of "hyping bad stats."

In the recent article, Charles confessed, "the statistics upon which my entire article hinged were, how should I say this, um...iffy. At best… the data had been extrapolated from a study designed to determine something completely different."

Charles explains, "after closer examination, the sample size was too small to legitimately make the claims I had clearly and consistently made." Charles stepped forward because "I couldn't justify the conclusions my article suggested."

Read it all from Christianity Today.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 11, 2014 at 9:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tova, a self-identified witch who uses her first name only and created the website The Way Of The Witch, spoke with joined HuffPost Live's Ricky Camilleri for a discussion about witch hunts in the 21st century. During the conversation, she shared what life is like for herself and her children in Utah.

"I live in a pretty small community outside Salt Lake City, and we have some pretty tight-held belief systems here. Although [witches] are not really just out there trying to be different, certainly people know that we live in a different way, they know that we practice things they don't understand, and I think it promotes fear," Tova said.

During her kids' earlier years, the family faced social challenges because of Tova's beliefs, she said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsWicca / paganism

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Posted July 11, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The US Supreme Court yesterday vindicated two Christian-owned companies, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods, that have a pro-life objection to including in their employee health plans certain contraceptive drugs and devices. In a 5-4 decision, the Court said that the government did not meet the test set up by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a 1993 law passed with overwhelming support in Congress and proudly signed into law by President Bill Clinton.

The controversy is over the contraceptives mandate in the 2010 health care reform law, which requires employers’ health plans to cover a wide range of contraceptive drugs and devices, including some the companies and others regard as abortifacients. Churches are exempt from the mandate; after widespread protest, religious nonprofits such as colleges and hospitals were offered an “accommodation”: the insurer provides to the organization a health plan excluding objectionable contraceptives and then announces to the employees that those contraceptives will be paid for by the insurer. No relief at all was offered to companies like those in the cases decided yesterday: religion has no place in commerce, the government claimed. Some 100 lawsuits, by businesses as well as religious nonprofits, have been launched against the contraceptives mandate.

Besides the relief granted to the two companies and others with similar religious claims, what’s most important is the Supreme Court’s rejection of the government’s effort to make business a religion-free zone.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Canada* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 10, 2014 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

RNS: The “Left Behind” books series has sold more than 60 million copies. What do you think when you hear that so many have been influenced by that brand of eschatological thought?

SH: My reaction to the “Left Behind” series is one of amusement and pathos. Pathos because so many people have misunderstood Christian eschatological convictions and turned them into speculative accounts of the so-called “rapture.” I take it to be a judgment against the church that that kind of speculation has gained a foothold.

RNS: You argue that “we may be living during a time when we are watching Protestantism coming to an end.” Some people may look at the hundreds of millions of Protestants in the world and call you crazy. Explain.

SH: My suggestion is meant to be a reminder that Protestantism is a reformed movement. When it becomes an end in itself it becomes unintelligible to itself. Protestants who don’t long for Christian unity are not Protestant. There is also the ongoing problem that Catholics have responded to the Protestant critique in a way that the Protestant critique no longer makes much sense. Accordingly, the question is: why do we continue to be kept apart?

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 7, 2014 at 1:44 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Today is Saturday. This is evident on the face of my sleep-deprived neighbor, here in the fluorescent hallway, shifting her whining toddler impatiently from one hip to the other, scowling at the elevator doors which refuse to open. It is also evident in my own frustration at being obliged to wait several minutes before embarking on errands—jingling the keys in my pocket and watching the painfully slow sequence of floor numbers on the elevator panel. I am caught in the human traffic jam that visits my 20-story building every weekend.

Why the hold up? I live in a historically Jewish building in New York City. On most days, its two elevators service each section of this rather monolithic structure—just enough to keep up with the flow of residents going up and down. But come Friday evening, one of the cars is switched into Shabbos mode, meaning that it stops at every single floor automatically, backing the tenants up like resentful clogs in beige-yellow arteries. It does so for religious reasons, since many observant Jews avoid pressing electric buttons on Shabbat.

Read it all from the Atlantic.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted July 7, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"Sometimes I'm asked to do both [magic and funerals] at once," said Lee, 76, a licensed funeral director from White Plains, New York. "People have come to know both sides of me, so they ask. And I say, why not?"

Lee, who long ago claimed the moniker "mortgician" in his AOL email address, wouldn't call himself a pioneer or part of any special movement in after-death care. But he's among many who are turning the idea of the solemn, sedate funeral on its head.

Call it the rise of the personalized "fun funeral."

The wide range of what's considered "creative" or "unusual" when burying a loved one means there are little to no statistics on such practices, but industry experts say redesigning the standard funeral is increasingly popular.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Today, the abuse that umpires take is more subtle -- but in a way just as sinister. Their mistakes are played back in slow motion by 24-hour sports networks, then piled on by talk-radio hosts and tweeting fans. Major league calls can now be challenged with instant replay, and strike zones get checked by a soul-crushing digital technology called Zone Evaluation. Death threats have been known to appear on their children's Facebook pages. Understandably, some umpires have found they need someone to talk to. And so when Pastor Dean Esskew's phone rings in the middle of the night, as it often does, he knows to pick it up and say "What's wrong?" instead of "Hello."

Pastor Dean, as folks around baseball know him, is the leader of Calling for Christ, a nonprofit ministry that for the past 11 years has tried to ease the anguish of major league and minor league umpires by keeping them close to God. Esskew is 48 and enormous, with a booming, smoky drawl and his own cologne-scented weather. He ministers exclusively to umps, piling through stadium crowds with an awkward, hammering limp acquired years ago when a horse bucked him on the farm in Oklahoma where he lives with his wife. (Debrah Esskew runs a parallel ministry for umpires' wives and girlfriends.)

Before Calling for Christ, Pastor Dean spent 20 years leading small rural churches; his dream was to preach in front of a stained glass window someday, somewhere nice. Now he flies and drives between ballparks all summer to hold informal late-night Bible groups at sports bars after games. He spends about 20 weeks on the road every season, visiting four or five crews a week.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSports* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted July 5, 2014 at 5:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Commentator John McDonough recalls the last great reunion of Civil War veterans from the North and South. It took place July 3-5, 1938, on the 75th anniversary of Gettysburg — at Gettysburg, Pa. At the time, the whole country was almost painfully aware that the last living links to a decisive event were about to slip away.... Between 1861 and 1865, two and a half million men served in the Union Army. Figures are less precise for Confederate forces. About 620,000 were killed on both sides.

Fifty years later, in 1913, more than 50,000 veterans returned to Gettysburg. It would be the largest Civil War reunion ever. Veteran groups talked for several years about a 75th reunion. But by 1938, the roll call of veterans still alive had shrunk to about 10,000. A final reunion became possible when the federal government offered to provide free transportation.

read or listen to it all from NPR.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We pray, O almighty and eternal God, who through Jesus Christ has revealed thy glory to all nations, to preserve the works of your mercy, that your Church, being spread through the whole world, may continue with unchanging faith in the confession of your name.

We pray Thee, who alone are good and holy, to endow with heavenly knowledge, sincere zeal and sanctity of life, our chief bishop, the pope, the vicar of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the government of his Church; our own bishop, all other bishops, prelates and pastors of the Church; and especially those who are appointed to exercise among us the functions of the holy ministry, and conduct your people into the ways of salvation.

A good historial reminder--read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted July 4, 2014 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

'You and I have been wonderfully spared," Thomas Jefferson wrote John Adams in 1812...."

It's easy now, in a nation awash with complaints about what our Founders did not do, what imperfect humans they seem to 21st century eyes, to overlook how startlingly bold their views and actions were in their own day and are, in fact, even today. Who else in 1776 declared, let alone thought it a self-evident truth, that all men were created equal, entitled to inalienable rights, or to any rights at all? How few declare these views today or, glibly declaring them, really intend to treat their countrymen or others as equal, entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

Certainly not America's 20th century enemies, the Nazis and communists; certainly not today's Islamic radicals, who consider infidels unworthy to live and the faithful bound by an ancient and brutal code of law. We are fortunate that the Founders of our nation were enlightened, generous, jealous of their rights and those of their countrymen, and prepared to risk everything to create a free republic.

Breaking with Britain was a risky and distressing venture; could the American colonies go it alone and survive in a world of great European powers?

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 4, 2014 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

--From "Ring out, Wild Bells," part of In Memoriam, Tennyson's elegy to Arthur Henry Hallam, 1850

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

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Posted July 4, 2014 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Self proclaimed know-it-all A.J. Jacobs talks with Scott Simon about lost facts and heroes from the American Revolution.

Listen to it all (just under 3 minutes).

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

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Posted July 4, 2014 at 12:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Watch it all, and be forewarned, you are not likely going to make it through the whole thing without Kleenex--KSH.

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

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Posted July 4, 2014 at 12:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"Today we stand on an awful arena, where character which was the growth of centuries was tested and determined by the issues of a single day. We are compassed about by a cloud of witnesses; not alone the shadowy ranks of those who wrestled here, but the greater parties of the action--they for whom these things were done. Forms of thought rise before us, as in an amphitheatre, circle beyond circle, rank above rank; The State, The Union, The People. And these are One. Let us--from the arena, contemplate them--the spiritual spectators.

"There is an aspect in which the question at issue might seem to be of forms, and not of substance. It was, on its face, a question of government. There was a boastful pretence that each State held in its hands the death-warrant of the Nation; that any State had a right, without show of justification outside of its own caprice, to violate the covenants of the constitution, to break away from the Union, and set up its own little sovereignty as sufficient for all human purposes and ends; thus leaving it to the mere will or whim of any member of our political system to destroy the body and dissolve the soul of the Great People. This was the political question submitted to the arbitrament of arms. But the victory was of great politics over small. It was the right reason, the moral consciousness and solemn resolve of the people rectifying its wavering exterior lines according to the life-lines of its organic being.

"There is a phrase abroad which obscures the legal and moral questions involved in the issue,--indeed, which falsifies history: "The War between the States". There are here no States outside of the Union. Resolving themselves out of it does not release them. Even were they successful in intrenching themselves in this attitude, they would only relapse into territories of the United States. Indeed several of the States so resolving were never in their own right either States or Colonies; but their territories were purchased by the common treasury of the Union. Underneath this phrase and title,--"The War between the States"--lies the false assumption that our Union is but a compact of States. Were it so, neither party to it could renounce it at his own mere will or caprice. Even on this theory the States remaining true to the terms of their treaty, and loyal to its intent, would have the right to resist force by force, to take up the gage of battle thrown down by the rebellious States, and compel them to return to their duty and their allegiance. The Law of Nations would have accorded the loyal States this right and remedy.

"But this was not our theory, nor our justification. The flag we bore into the field was not that of particular States, no matter how many nor how loyal, arrayed against other States. It was the flag of the Union, the flag of the people, vindicating the right and charged with the duty of preventing any factions, no matter how many nor under what pretence, from breaking up this common Country.

"It was the country of the South as well as of the North. The men who sought to dismember it, belonged to it. Its was a larger life, aloof from the dominance of self-surroundings; but in it their truest interests were interwoven. They suffered themselves to be drawn down from the spiritual ideal by influences of the physical world. There is in man that peril of the double nature. "But I see another law", says St. Paul. "I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind."

--Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (1828-1914). The remarks here are from Chamberlain’s address at the general dedicatory exercises in the evening in the court house in Gettsyburg on the occasion of the dedication of the Maine monuments. It took place on October 3, 1889. For those who are history buffs you can see an actual program of the events there (on page 545)--KSH.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What was the Founders' attitude toward religion in the country?

Public virtue was seen as necessary for a republic, and most believed that virtue was produced by religion. There was a strong view that religion was necessary to turn out good citizens.

Many of the Founders were well versed in religious and theological matters. How did this affect their work as architects of the republic?

They could quote Scripture. Jefferson and others were tutored by ministers. They were an extremely biblically literate generation. This certainly shaped their view of Providence. The extent to which they believed in Providence would be unimaginable today.

Adams and folks like that continually quoted [Jesus'] statement that a swallow cannot fall without God's knowledge. Washington talks about the invisible hand of Providence. Their biblical knowledge convinced these people that there was an invisible hand of God, and that there was a moral government of the universe.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 4, 2014 at 8:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In Congress, July 4, 1776.

The UNANIMOUS DECLARATION of the THIRTEEN UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.

To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world....

Worthy of much pondering, on this day especially--read it all.

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

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Posted July 4, 2014 at 8:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"In Philadelphia, the same day as the British landing on Staten Island, July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress, in a momentous decision, voted to 'dissolve the connection' with Great Britain. The news reached New York four days later, on July 6, and at once spontaneous celebrations broke out. 'The whole choir of our officers ... went to a public house to testify our joy at the happy news of Independence. We spent the afternoon merrily,' recorded Isaac Bangs."

"A letter from John Hancock to Washington, as well as the complete text of the Declaration, followed two days later:

"'That our affairs may take a more favorable turn,' Hancock wrote, 'the Congress have judged it necessary to dissolve the connection between Great Britain and the American colonies, and to declare them free and independent states; as you will perceive by the enclosed Declaration, which I am directed to transmit to you, and to request you will have it proclaimed at the head of the army in the way you shall think most proper.' "Many, like Henry Knox, saw at once that with the enemy massing for battle so close at hand and independence at last declared by Congress, the war had entered an entirely new stage. The lines were drawn now as never before, the stakes far higher. 'The eyes of all America are upon us,' Knox wrote. 'As we play our part posterity will bless or curse us.'

"By renouncing their allegiance to the King, the delegates at Philadelphia had committed treason and embarked on a course from which there could be no turning back.

"'We are in the very midst of a revolution,' wrote John Adams, 'the most complete, unexpected and remarkable of any in the history of nations.'

"In a ringing preamble, drafted by Thomas Jefferson, the document declared it 'self-evident' that 'all men are created equal,' and were endowed with the 'unalienable' rights of 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.' And to this noble end the delegates had pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.

"Such courage and high ideals were of little consequence, of course, the Declaration itself being no more than a declaration without military success against the most formidable force on Earth. John Dickinson of Pennsylvania, an eminent member of Congress who opposed the Declaration, had called it a 'skiff made of paper.' And as Nathanael Greene had warned, there were never any certainties about the fate of war.

"But from this point on, the citizen-soldiers of Washington's army were no longer to be fighting only for the defense of their country, or for their rightful liberties as freeborn Englishmen, as they had at Lexington and Concord, Bunker Hill and through the long siege at Boston. It was now a proudly proclaimed, all-out war for an independent America, a new America, and thus a new day of freedom and equality."

----David McCullough, 1776

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O! say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming.
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming.
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

--Francis Scott Key (1779-1843)

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

2 Comments
Posted July 4, 2014 at 7:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almost every American knows the traditional story of July Fourth—the soaring idealism of the Declaration of Independence, the Continental Congress's grim pledge to defy the world's most powerful nation with their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. But what else about revolutionary America might help us feel closer to those founders in their tricornered hats, fancy waistcoats and tight knee-breeches?

Those Americans, it turns out, had the highest per capita income in the civilized world of their time. They also paid the lowest taxes—and they were determined to keep it that way.

By 1776, the 13 American colonies had been in existence for over 150 years—more than enough time for the talented and ambitious to acquire money and land. At the top of the South's earners were large planters such as George Washington. In the North their incomes were more than matched by merchants such as John Hancock and Robert Morris. Next came lawyers such as John Adams, followed by tavern keepers, who often cleared 1,000 pounds a year, or about $100,000 in modern money. Doctors were paid comparatively little. Ditto for dentists, who were almost nonexistent....

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 4, 2014 at 7:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Long, too long America,
Traveling roads all even and peaceful you learn'd from joys and
prosperity only,
But now, ah now, to learn from crises of anguish, advancing,
grappling with direst fate and recoiling not,
And now to conceive and show to the world what your children
en-masse really are,
(For who except myself has yet conceiv'd what your children en-masse
really are?)

--Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Lord God Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us, and who lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn: Grant that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain our liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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

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Posted July 4, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Graduates around the world gather at the end of spring for one final lesson: the commencement speech.

It’s a time when luminaries from business, politics and the arts deliver wisdom (and humor) to students eager for the next stage. Susan Wojcicki recalled watching the first item uploaded to Google Video—a purple, furry puppet, dancing and singing in Swedish—with no idea what to think. Until her children saw it—and cheered. Marc Benioff shared that time he did “what all lost thirty-somethings do: travel to India.”

We’ve pulled together memorable addresses from 2014 (with a splash from the speeches of yore). Did we miss any? Tell us what you think in the comments.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationScience & TechnologyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted July 3, 2014 at 4:51 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Seeing the United States players pinging the ball around with purpose, making determined runs upfield and generally setting the tempo of play after falling behind Belgium, many fans may have thought or yelled out the same thing.

Why couldn’t they play that way earlier?

Coach Jurgen Klinsmann has often thought the same thing. A day after the United States was knocked out of the World Cup in the Round of 16, Klinsmann acknowledged that he would leave Brazil with a set of questions to answer and challenges to tackle.

“When you get out in the Round of 16, clearly it gives you the message you have a lot of work still ahead of you,” he said Wednesday.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 3, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Traci Butler and her husband cut out vacations after the U.S. recession five years ago. This week, the couple is taking their two boys on a weeklong trip that includes a July 4th visit to the nation’s capital, just a few weeks after touring Italy on their own.

In the aftermath of the recession, “things were much tighter,” said Butler, a special education teacher from Washington, Illinois, whose husband works for construction machinery maker Caterpillar Inc. “We didn’t have bonuses for a while. The last two years have been better.”

About 34.8 million people plan to drive 50 miles or more from home during the five days ending July 6, up from 34.1 million last year and the most since 2007, AAA, the biggest U.S. motoring organization, said June 26. The travel recovery is boosting sales for hotels and attractions, a sign that consumer confidence and consumer spending are on the mend, said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyTravel* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

1 Comments
Posted July 2, 2014 at 2:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Pro-life activist] McCullen's activities were indisputably peaceable. Yet the Massachusetts law criminalized them. Had she approached a willing listener to discuss abortion in a covered zone, she would have been subject to three months' imprisonment for a first offense, and two and a half years' imprisonment for each subsequent violation. The statute also prevented McCullen from entering the covered zone to sing or pray quietly.

The Massachusetts law meant that "McCullen [was] often reduced to raising her voice at patients from outside the zone—a mode of communication sharply at odds with the compassionate message she wishes to convey." The zones "also made it substantially more difficult for [her] to distribute literature to arriving patients." The Court noted that these burdens "have clearly taken their toll," citing undisputed testimony that the law substantially reduced the success of McCullen and her fellow litigants in persuading women not to terminate their pregnancies.

In striking down the Massachusetts law, the Court properly emphasized that "it is no accident that public streets and sidewalks have developed as venues for the exchange of ideas." And responding to arguments from the state that the buffer zones helped with administrative enforcement, the Court noted that "the prime objective of the First Amendment is not efficiency."

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 2, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Judge not.

That’s the central message in a Supreme Court ruling Monday that found the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) cannot be used to force a privately held corporation to act against the religious beliefs of its owners.

The high court decided that the 2010 health-care law violates religious liberty by demanding such owners pay for contraceptive insurance that they regard as immoral. Government must not force the employers to act against their faith, the court found, because that would be the same as judging their religious views to be “flawed.”

Read it all.



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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon



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

1 Comments
Posted July 1, 2014 at 5:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The majority opinion handed down today makes several important points worthy of close attention.

First, the Court’s decision affirms the central importance of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 [RFRA]. Interestingly, that Act was made necessary by the Court’s own 1990 decision in Employment Division v. Smith, in which the majority opinion had been written by Justice Antonin Scalia, who joined with Justice Alito in the majority for Hobby Lobby. Responding to that decision, Congress passed RFRA, demanding that any law or policy of the federal government that would violate a citizen’s religious convictions must pass two key tests: It must meet a compelling state interest, and it must do so by “the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling state interest.” As Justice Alito stated, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood did not protest against the compelling state interest of the contraception coverage — only against the four specific birth control products that were mandated. Justice Alito and the majority rightly concluded that the Obama Administration had utterly failed the second test. There were any number of alternatives the administration could have taken that would have accomplished its goals without burdening conscience.

What makes this especially important is the fact that RFRA passed in Congress without a single dissenting vote in the House of Representatives and by a 97 vote majority in the Senate. RFRA had massive support within Congress and public opinion at large. And yet, just 21 years later, it seems that many Americans would gladly violate the religious liberties of some in order to advance liberal social policies for others. Today’s decision underlines the importance of RFRA, but it also demonstrates the massive task of defending religious liberty that lies ahead.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted July 1, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Why are people dishonest? From Main Street to Wall Street, at home and at work, questionable behavior defies people’s best intentions. Now experts in the social sciences are examining why people so often behave contrary to their own ethical aims and what can be done about it, especially in the world of business. “What we find is that when people are thinking about honesty versus dishonesty,” says Dan Ariely, a professor of behavioral economics at the Duke University Fuqua School of Business, “it’s all about being able, at the moment, to rationalize something and make yourself think that this is actually okay.”

Read or watch and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeStock Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 29, 2014 at 4:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fifty-seven percent of Americans say that religion can answer all or most of today's problems, while 30% say that religion is largely old fashioned and out of date. Americans have in recent decades become gradually less likely to say that religion can answer today's problems and more likely to believe religion is out of date.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted June 29, 2014 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One in ten deaths among working-age adults in the U.S. is caused by drinking too much, according to the report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Binge drinking (more than four drinks at a time for men or more than three for women) is responsible for the majority of alcohol-related deaths. Some 71% of deaths related to excessive drinking involved men, and 5% involved those under the age of 21.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAlcohol/DrinkingAlcoholismHealth & MedicineYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted June 28, 2014 at 9:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When I share these [sobering] statistics [on the discontent and discouragement among parish minsiters and their families] with pastors, they slowly, knowingly nod their heads.

Yet when I share these statistics with non-clergy, they are shocked: “How can this be? I had no idea!” A widespread Super Pastor mentality has led us to believe that pastors never struggle, never doubt, never get discouraged, and never wrestle with feelings of failure — just because they’re pastors.
Read more in Briggs' recent book Fail.Read more in J.R. Briggs’ latest book.

But pastors are people, too. Ministry is a significant calling and it is involves broken, sinful, and scandalously ordinary people God calls and uses to shepherd souls. These broken ordinaries are called pastors.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 27, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

They’re living at home in growing numbers. They're not buying homes, which creates ripple effects throughout the housing market. They’re having more babies out of wedlock than in it. Why can’t millennials get it together?

The first and most obvious answer is “jobs.” If you can’t find a stable job, it’s hard to move out of Mom’s basement. It’s hard to commit to a mortgage or a spouse. It's hard, in other words, to launch into the middle-class life that constitutes the American Dream.

Millennials are some of the biggest victims of the financial crisis. Those without a college degree face high rates of unemployment, while those who have a sheepskin are more and more likely to be underemployed in a job that doesn’t require their degree. Even if the student loan crisis has been overstated, the rising cost of college tuition certainly doesn’t help.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSociologyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 26, 2014 at 3:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationSports* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.EuropeGermanySouth AmericaBrazil

1 Comments
Posted June 26, 2014 at 12:54 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

....what Father Kenneth Walker preached about, in a sermon captured on video that has gone viral on the Internet in the days after he was gunned down, at 28 years of age, by a burglar at Mother of Mercy Mission parish near downtown Phoenix. He talked about forgiveness and the need for people living in a sinful, broken and violent world to realize that they may not have much time remaining to get right with God.

“God is all merciful, but he is also perfectly just,” he said. “He will not prevent something from happening, if we bring it about by our own choosing. Nevertheless, God gives time and opportunity to repent before he lets the consequences fall upon us.”

The Bible and church history are full of cases in which God warns people to flee wickedness, he said. In some cases, saints and martyrs suffered and died while God gave a wayward land more time to repent.

“We are in a similar situation today, since we are now living in a world that is increasingly rejecting Christ and casting him out of the public forum,” said Walker. “We have grown far too attached to our own knowledge, our technology and our worldly pleasures — such that we have forgotten God and what he has done for us.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

0 Comments
Posted June 26, 2014 at 9:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This would be the first time in history that we would have made it to the knock out stage in two consecutive World Cups.

I confess to being worried about the Portugal Ghana game, because Portugal has not had a good World Cup and they know they cannot go through unless they win big. So if the Ghana Portgual game to the second half scoreless the conerns is that Portugal loses their incentive and Ghana can then do even better.

All this is beside the point if USA ties or beats Germany--but that is a tall order!! --KSH.

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

0 Comments
Posted June 26, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all from Ruth Marcus in the Washington Post.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Researchers took pains to document the rise and fall in social status, periodically interviewing the subjects as well as those who they felt knew them best, usually close friends. About 20 percent of the group fell into the “cool kid” category at the study’s outset.

A constellation of three popularity-seeking behaviors characterized pseudomaturity, Dr. Allen and his colleagues found. These young teenagers sought out friends who were physically attractive; their romances were more numerous, emotionally intense and sexually exploring than those of their peers; and they dabbled in minor delinquency — skipping school, sneaking into movies, vandalism.

As they turned 23, the study found that when compared to their socially slower-moving middle-school peers, they had a 45 percent greater rate of problems resulting from alcohol and marijuana use and a 40 percent higher level of actual use of those substances. They also had a 22 percent greater rate of adult criminal behavior, from theft to assaults.

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 24, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Take a look and yes, you read that right, it says "coin toss" for some of them.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationMenSports* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.South AmericaBrazil

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Posted June 23, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[NEDA] ULABY: Shows [like many at present] where nearly everyone on the planet sickens and dies appeal to scholar Nancy Tomes.

NANCY TOMES: Oh, I couldn't be happier.

ULABY: Tomes studies the history of epidemics. She wrote a book called "The Gospel Of Germs." She says science-fiction and horror often reflect contemporary fears. So during the Cold War, for example, we saw movies about big, scary, nuclear-related monsters. Now she says we worry about our bodies turning against us. In an age of gluten allergies, genetically modified food and mad cow disease.

TOMES: From what you buy in the grocery store, to what you may be breathing when you walk down the street.

ULABY: Not to mention the viral spread of terror cells in viruses attacking our computers.

Read or listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineHistoryMovies & TelevisionPsychologyScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted June 23, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One in five people in their 20s and early 30s is currently living with his or her parents. And 60 percent of all young adults receive financial support from them. That’s a significant increase from a generation ago, when only one in 10 young adults moved back home and few received financial support. The common explanation for the shift is that people born in the late 1980s and early 1990s came of age amid several unfortunate and overlapping economic trends. Those who graduated college as the housing market and financial system were imploding faced the highest debt burden of any graduating class in history. Nearly 45 percent of 25-year-olds, for instance, have outstanding loans, with an average debt above $20,000. (Kasinecz still has about $60,000 to go.) And more than half of recent college graduates are unemployed or underemployed, meaning they make substandard wages in jobs that don’t require a college degree. According to Lisa B. Kahn, an economist at Yale University, the negative impact of graduating into a recession never fully disappears. Even 20 years later, the people who graduated into the recession of the early ’80s were making substantially less money than people lucky enough to have graduated a few years afterward, when the economy was booming.

Some may hope that the boomerang generation represents an unfortunate but temporary blip — that the class of 2015 will be able to land great jobs out of college, and that they’ll reach financial independence soon after reaching the drinking age. But the latest recession was only part of the boomerang generation’s problem. In reality, it simply amplified a trend that had been growing stealthily for more than 30 years. Since 1980, the U.S. economy has been destabilized by a series of systemic changes — the growth of foreign trade, rapid advances in technology, changes to the tax code, among others — that have affected all workers but particularly those just embarking on their careers. In 1968, for instance, a vast majority of 20-somethings were living independent lives; more than half were married. But over the past 30 years, the onset of sustainable economic independence has been steadily receding. By 2007, before the recession even began, fewer than one in four young adults were married, and 34 percent relied on their parents for rent.

These boomerang kids are not a temporary phenomenon. They appear to be part of a new and permanent life stage.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 23, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Go Team USA go!

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenSports* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.South AmericaBrazil

3 Comments
Posted June 22, 2014 at 4:03 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The zeitgeist is a fickle master, because the zeitgeist is us.

It's no wonder that one of the first tasks of any prophet was to make himself shameful. John the Baptist wore camel hair and ate insects. Isaiah had to walk around naked for years. Ezekiel had to cook his food over dung. Elijah ate only food carried by ravens—nasty carrion birds. The first thing God told Hosea to do was to marry a whore.

Prophets must be fearless, immune to the pressures of kings and crowds, aligned only with the breath of God.

We are in need of prophets now. Christians are scattered, but the world's wind is heavy and unified.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted June 22, 2014 at 12:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Diana Navarro loves to code, and she's not afraid to admit it. But the 18-year-old Rutgers University computer science major knows she's an anomaly: Writing software to run computer programs in 2014 is - more than ever - a man's world.

"We live in a culture where we're dissuaded to do things that are technical," Navarro said. "Younger girls see men, not women, doing all the techie stuff, programming and computer science."

Less than 1 percent of high school girls think of computer science as part of their future, even though it's one of the fastest-growing fields in the U.S. today with a projected 4.2 million jobs by 2020, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationScience & TechnologyTeens / YouthWomen* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted June 22, 2014 at 11:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Prescriptions for narcotic painkillers have surged in recent years. Fatal overdoses and abuse of the drugs have risen, too. Doctors and patients are grappling with how to balance the need for pain relief with the potential for trouble...

Our survey shows that most Americans have taken these kinds of medicines at some point in their lives. A little more that half of the people surveyed said that. The most common reason by far was to relieve some kind of temporary pain: a sprained ankle, surgery, dental procedure. About 1 in 5 said they had taken the drugs for chronic pain.

Seventy-eight percent said they believe there is a link between drug addiction and narcotic painkillers.

A little more than a third, or 36 percent, who had taken narcotic painkillers had concerns about them. And the concern about these drugs was a bit lower for people who hadn't taken them, at about 30 percent.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & Medicine* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 22, 2014 at 4:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"...from wages and retirement plans to vacation policies and commutes—workers are less content with their jobs than they were in 1987, when the research group started tracking the topic. Back then, 61.1% of workers said they were satisfied with their work.

The decline suggests a steady erosion of trust and loyalty between employers and employees, said Rebecca Ray, leader of the organization’s human capital research unit.

“Certainly, the employer contract is dead for the most part,” she said, noting that benefits such as pension plans, 401(k) matches and robust healthcare coverage, which once glued employers and their employees together in a long-term relationship, are disappearing.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted June 21, 2014 at 11:24 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the pending actions against both people represent the church's established response to certain forms of dissent. Stretching back to the early years of the church under Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, church leaders have demanded obedience and punished those who publicly challenged their authority. In 1979 the church excommunicated Sonia Johnson, who engaged in public protest against the church's role in preventing the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. In September 1993 the church disciplined six scholars (known as the "September Six"), several of whom were outspoken feminists.

Mormon excommunications cause tremendous trauma for individuals, families and the church as a whole. Latter-day Saint theology and ritual focus on sealing together couples and families for eternity. Excommunication imperils those sealings. On Ordain Women's website, Ms. Kelly refers to the penalty as "spiritual death" and "evict[ion] from your forever family."

Church discipline also means unwanted negative attention for a church that carefully manages its image. Thus, although other church critics also report heightened ecclesiastical pressure, the recent measures probably do not augur a wave of excommunications. Instead, by disciplining Ms. Kelly church leaders hope to quash Ordain Women while permitting and even engaging more moderate voices for change. While the church has on occasion changed course abruptly—as in 1978 when it ended the ban on men of African descent holding the priesthood—more often change comes slowly and incrementally.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsMormons* Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 20, 2014 at 11:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ministers in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) can preside at same-sex marriages in states where they are legal following a vote this afternoon at the denomination‘‍s top legislative body.

And in the coming year, the denomination’‍s regional presbyteries will vote on whether to change its marriage definition church-wide to include two people regardless of gender.

Strong applause broke out after the overwhelming votes, which came after debate of more than two hours at the denomination‘‍s General Assembly here at the Detroit Cobo Center. But the decisions also came with plenty of anxious words about the looming possibility that more conservatives will join an exodus of estimated 350 congregations that have left for more conservative denominations in recent years as the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) shifts to increasingly liberal stances on sexuality. In 2011, the denomination voted to authorize the ordination of gays and lesbians in non-celibate relationships.

Read it all.

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

8 Comments
Posted June 19, 2014 at 4:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

South Carolina is on one heck of a roll when it comes to tires.

The Palmetto State in the fourth quarter of 2013 elbowed aside Oklahoma as the nation’s leading tire producer, churning out 89,000 a day compared to the Sooner State’s 88,000 a day, according to estimates by Tire Business magazine.

It is also expanding its lead as the export king – last year shipping 30 percent of the nation’s overseas market, three times as many tires as its nearest competitor, Ohio.

“South Carolina is No. 1,” Dave Zielasko, the magazine’s publisher and editor-in-chief, said. “And its not surprising. South Carolina has really been aggressive in attracting these factories.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina

0 Comments
Posted June 17, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Recent college grads, take note: Mentioning a campus religion group on your resume — particularly a Muslim club — may lead to significantly fewer job opportunities.

Two new sociology studies find new graduates who included a religious mention on a resume were much less likely to hear back from potential employers.

The studies used fictitious resumes — with bland names that signaled no particular race or ethnicity. These were sent to employers who posted on the CareerBuilder website to fill entry-level job openings in sales, information technology and other fields suitable for first jobs out of college.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So much grit, so much heart. Wow.

John Brooks' updated Wikipedia page is hilarious.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenSports* International News & CommentaryAfricaGhanaAmerica/U.S.A.

1 Comments
Posted June 16, 2014 at 7:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So sad to see Jozy Altidore carried off after an injury.

Halftime: Ghana Dominates, But U.S.A. Has the Edge.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenSports* International News & CommentaryAfricaGhanaAmerica/U.S.A.South AmericaBrazil

1 Comments
Posted June 16, 2014 at 5:53 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...one out of three children in the United States—more than 15 million—live without the certainty of their father's presence. Among industrialized countries, the United States is a world leader of fatherless homes, surpassed only by Belgium, Estonia, and the United Kingdom, with single mothers heading up a quarter of all U.S. households. Since the 1960s, the number of single-parent homes have more than tripled, and the bulk of those households (76%) are fatherless homes. Tragically, this number doesn't include circumstances in which the father technically lives with the family, but is emotionally or physically absent.

Whether through abandonment, incarceration, death, or workaholism, fatherlessness is a root of many of our contemporary social ills. According to a widely cited report from the U.S. Department of Justice, children from fatherless home are 5 times more likely to commit suicide, 32 times more likely to run away, 20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders, 14 times more likely to commit rape, 9 times more likely to drop out of high school, 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances, 9 times more likely to end up in a state-operated institution, and 20 times more likely to end up in prison than children from homes with a mother and father present.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted June 14, 2014 at 2:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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