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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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From my vantage point in the evangelical landscape, I am incredibly optimistic about the future of the church. I know we have lots of cause for concern about “the culture,” and I know the church tasked with proclaiming the kingdom in it seems pretty shaky right now. But I when I take a sober look at the young Christians (the millennials!) training for gospel ministry and thinking hard about mission, I like where their head’s at. The rest of us, on the other hand . . .
I find it incredibly interesting, sort of amusing, and more than a bit sad that the attractional church—what we used to call the “seeker church”—hasn’t seemed to grow up at all. Yes, it’s grown big. But growing big and growing up aren’t the same thing. I was thinking about this recently after a few people posted a video of one of the landmark attractional churches featuring a ’90s boy band throwback segment in their worship service. I’m sure it was a lot of fun. I’m also sure it was especially fun for those whose heyday was the ’90s. It’s the same fun that was had by the worship team in my ’90s attractional youth group who were constantly reworking rock hits from the ’70s to make them more Jesusy (“Peaceful, Easy Feelin,” anybody? How about a little “Talkin’ about my Jesus—he’s some kind of wonderful”?).
And it occurs to me that, exceptions being granted, the attractional church is specifically designed for what was said to “work” 20 years ago....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Psychology Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Once a year, Seymour United Methodist Church in Tennessee held a “Laity Day,” in which folks from the pews would handle all the clergy stuff one Sunday -- including the sermon.
The year was 1984, early in the Rev. Charles Maynard’s decade at this fledgling congregation near Knoxville. He already knew that one active member had a knack for motivational speaking, since she coached the University of Tennessee’s Lady Vols basketball team.
“This was before she turned into Pat Summitt, you know? For me, she was just a lady at church named Pat,” said Maynard, now the district superintendent of the region’s Maryville District. “I asked her to speak and she said she didn’t feel comfortable doing that sort of thing. ...
“But the next year, she said ‘yes.’ She talked about teamwork and linked everything to people having their own roles in the Body of Christ. It was all very biblical and she did a great job. I mean, she’s Pat Summitt.”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture Sports Women Young Adults * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Methodist
Americans' satisfaction with the way things are going in the U.S. dropped 12 percentage points in the past month, amid high-profile police killings of black men and mass shootings of police. Currently, 17% of Americans are satisfied with the state of affairs in the U.S.
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Zosima/Dostoyevksy then pushes the idea further:
But when he knows that he is not only worse than all those in the world, but is also guilty before all people, on behalf of all and for all, for all human sins, the world’s and each person’s, only then will the goal of our unity be achieved. For you must know, my dear ones, that each of us is undoubtedly guilty on behalf of all and for all on earth, not only because of the common guilt of the world, but personally, each one of us, for all people and for each person on this earth.This suggests that, in some sense, we are responsible for police brutality; for the decay of the inner city; for police shootings; for lack of sympathy with law enforcement; for politicians and social activists, left and right, that have inadvertently fostered a culture of violence; and so on—“for all people and for each person on this earth.”
To be honest, I don’t quite know what this fully means. We are so locked into an individualistic worldview, that Dostoyevsky’s idea is hard to grasp. But I sense he’s on to something, and we hyper-individualistic Christians would be wise to heed it.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
In these difficult times, we must reject these false choices. Acknowledging that black life has historically been devalued does not inherently devalue the lives of others. Advocating for more and better community policing can happen in a manner that doesn’t marginalize law enforcement. Bearing witness to the legacy of racial division in our community does not undermine the necessary steps toward progress. It is possible to deplore and mourn the conditions surrounding the death of Mr. Sterling and those of Officers Jackson, Gerald and Garafola. We can oppose unnecessary, excessive force just as zealously as we oppose violence against the police.
Officer Jackson not only understood this as a black male police officer, he modeled it for us. In a Facebook post from July 8 he wrote:
I’m tired physically and emotionally. Disappointed in some family, friends, and officers for some reckless comments…. I swear to God, I love this city but I wonder if this city loves me. In uniform I get nasty, hateful looks and out of uniform some consider me a threat…. I’m working in these streets so any protesters, officers, friends, family or whoever if you see me and need a hug or want to say a prayer, I got you.That quotation was shared with me in the initial hours after the shooting. Before the news released the names of the officers, friends of the families were hearing through social media. Upon learning of his death, a friend showed me Officer Jackson’s Facebook page. My friend described him as a “true community police officer.” Officer Jackson’s haunting comments caution us against reductionist thinking. He openly wrestled with his identity as a police officer and a black man. He called on his family and his colleagues to not let hate infect their hearts. He understood the complexities of the moment. He set the example for how we all must proceed.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Race/Race Relations Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The affirmation culture of pop psychology has made its way into the theological academy, at least at mainline Protestant seminaries. We are told that we can be the leaders who will fix the church and that all of our snazzy ideas are totally going to work, indeed, that they are “prophetic” (please stop using that word to describe anyone you know).
Of course, the problem with this system is that then our seminaries send these “prophetic” newly ordained people into actual churches with actual lay people. And the ability of lay people to spot bad ideas is very strong. This combination usually makes for a painful, short marriage. One need only glance at the numbers of clergy who last less than five years in parish ministry to know that perhaps that professor was right. Maybe we are all idiots for wanting to do ministry in churches; the smart ones got out ahead of time.
Or maybe our seminaries could do better by the people they are training. Why are we not telling people in seminary that if they do not want serve in churches then they should not be pursuing ordination? I understand the practical reasons (mostly money), but I am astonished that we do not see the negative endgame for the church, not to mention the damage it does to the individual paying for an education: Paying student loans for a ministerial education that proved worthless is a sure and certain path to embitterment.
When I was in seminary, I remember having an endless number of conversations with people in their 20s who wanted to be ordained but classified themselves as “just not sure” about the church. Most of them were interested in academics. I wonder how many professors of systematic theology or biblical studies we will need in the future. According to the flood of people in our seminaries, I am guessing 4 million.
I would suggest that our seminaries are inadvertently devastating our churches. Most people who are ordained do end up in some kind of ordained ministry at some point in their career. However, if they have been encouraged and you are so special-ed through seminary, then it seems perfectly logical to them that they can make their living being an urban garden planter who occasionally talks about Jesus.'
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Christology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Seminary / Theological Education Soteriology
Throughout his life, Franklin – now 50 and living in Portland, Oregon – has never chosen one. In fact, he’s never had a monogamous relationship in his life, even while he was married for 18 years. “Monogamy has never connected with me, it’s never made sense to me,” said Franklin, who took two dates to his high school prom and lost his virginity in a threesome.
Yet it wasn’t until the 1990’s that he found the language to describe his lifestyle. Until then, he just considered himself “open”.
Polyamory is the practice of intimate relationships involving more than two people with the consent of everyone involved. In recent years, polyamory is working its way to becoming a household term. Researchers have estimated that 4 to 5% of Americans practice some form of consensual non-monogamy. A 2014 blog post by Psychology Today revealed that 9.8 million people have agreed to allow satellite lovers in their relationships, which includes poly couples, swinging couples and others practicing sexual non-monogamy.
And in Portland – home to swingers’ clubs, the most strip bars per capita, and annual porn festivals – it seems you can’t throw a stone without finding a poly relationship.
Read it all.
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Men Psychology Sexuality --Polyamory Urban/City Life and Issues Women * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Now that he is dead — killed by police minutes after the rampage he carried out on his 29th birthday — much of what is known about Long comes from his vast online trail, where he fashioned himself as a lifestyle guru and activist with fans who were aching to know his life story.
As racial tensions escalated nationwide with the police shootings of black men this month in Louisiana and Minnesota, and the killings of five police officers in Dallas, Long's messages grew more pointed.
“I’m not gonna harp on that, you know, with a brother killing the police,” Long said in a video uploaded the day after the Dallas shootings. “You get what I’m saying?”
“It’s justice,” he said. In the same video, he seemed to hint at his own plans: If “anything happens to me … don't affiliate me with anybody.”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Psychology Race/Race Relations Violence * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Joining me for more on this is our managing editor Kim Lawton and Lisa Sharon Harper of the Christian social justice group Sojourners. She’s the author of the new book The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right.
LISA SHARON HARPER: Thank you.
ABERNETHY: On your list of things that need to be done, what’s first?
09HARPER: Number one, we need to deal with the unconscious beliefs that we have about each other. You see, our society is structured according to those beliefs—in fact you go back to Plato, Western civilization, Plato told us back in 360 BC we should structure the republic according to race. But it wasn’t colorized at that point. We colorized it, and then we created a slave-based, race-based slavery system that structured the way we encountered the world. And it creates biases.
KIM LAWTON: And you think though that that’s still having an impact? We’re well beyond slavery now...
HARPER: So imagine 254 years walking around in society and seeing black people in chains, confined in small spaces with overseers. Then another 100 years you see them swinging from trees—this is how criminals are treated in Europe. This is how we came to understand and see black people. And now, when an officer encounters a black person in a car, you actually—he responds to them as if they’re criminal before even meeting them, before listening to their voice.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The program, which included an unusually high number of women speakers for an evangelical gathering, featured Voskamp and poet Amena Brown in a spoken-word segment that featured calls for forgiveness and reconciliation related to racism and privilege.
“We will not be the people who turn a blind eye to injustice,” cried Voskamp.
“We will use our voices, our time, our resources to effect change,” replied Brown.
As the event drew to a close, many pledged to pray more and study the Bible. Charlene Atkins, 49, who attends a mostly black Bible church in Dallas, said she hopes to encourage greater work across racial lines in her church community.
“One of the things that we talked about while out there was helping people who are Christians understand what it means to be as one body in Christ,” she said. “How do we look more like Christ and less like ourselves? I think that would help a lot in the issues that our nation is facing if the church would start to look more like the church.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Theology: Scripture
The Christian church now finds itself facing a new reality. The church no longer represents the central core of Western culture. Though outposts of Christian influence remain, these are exceptions rather than the rule. For the most part, the church has been displaced by the reign of secularism.
The daily newspaper brings a constant barrage which confirms the current state of American society. This age is not the first to see unspeakable horror and evil, but it is the first to deny any consistent basis for identifying evil as evil or good as good.
The faithful church is, for the most part, tolerated as one voice in the public arena, but only so long as it does not attempt to exercise any credible influence on the state of affairs. Should the church speak forcefully to an issue of public debate, it is castigated as coercive and out of date.
How does the church think of itself as it faces this new reality? During the 1980s, it was possible to think in ambitious terms about the church as the vanguard of a moral majority. That confidence has been seriously shaken by the events of the past decade.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Faith-based colleges—and religious liberty broadly—face an uncertain future in California. State legislators in Sacramento are considering a bill called the Equity in Higher Education Act, ostensibly to prohibit religious schools from discriminating against students. Yet it would actually create legal ambiguity, forcing judges to wade into the murky waters of theology to disentangle true religious belief from discriminatory animus.
The bill will be put before the California state Assembly Appropriations Committee in August. If enacted, it could spark similar efforts around the country. Yet instead of regulating the internal affairs of religious institutions, California could simply require them to be clear about their rules. This compromise would protect religious liberty, avoid dangerous legal ambiguity and prevent discrimination.
Under current California law, religious colleges that receive state funds can be exempt from antidiscrimination laws. Institutions qualify for exemptions if they are “controlled by a religious organization” and if application of antidiscrimination laws “would not be consistent with the religious tenets of that organization.” This is what allows faith-based colleges to, for example, enforce a code of conduct that bans same-sex relationships.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Education History Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture Young Adults * Economics, Politics Politics in General State Government * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
America’s widening income divide is contributing to the rise of unmarried parents, new research shows.
A study led by Andrew J. Cherlin, professor of public policy at Johns Hopkins University, finds men and women in counties with greater income inequality were less likely to marry before having a child. The finding pertained mostly to those who hadn’t graduated from college.
Prof. Cherlin and his co-authors concluded that a lack of jobs in the middle of the labor market was the main reason these young adults were delaying marriage and moving straight to having children. The paper was published in the American Sociological Review.
Read it all from the WSJ.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
One of the real tragedies today is that the Church as a whole has not furthered God’s light, equity, love and principles in our land in order to be a positive influence and impact for good in the midst of darkness, fear and hate.
Far too often, we have limited the definition of the Church. While not in all cases, in many cases, “Church” has become an informational, inspirational weekly gathering rather than the group of people that God has ordained from heaven to operate on his behalf on Earth in order to bring heaven’s viewpoint into history. There needs to be a recalibrating of many of our churches to the unified purpose of the Kingdom of God.
The Church and only the Church has been given the keys to the kingdom, so we have unique access to God that nobody else has. It’s about time more churches start using those keys to unlock doors, so that we get greater heavenly intervention in our earthly catastrophe. This is not to negate or downplay the great work countless churches have done throughout time in our land. I applaud and am grateful for all of it. What we have been ineffective at, though, is a unity that increases our impact on a larger collective level. When we unite as so many churches did during the civil rights movement, we can bring hope and healing where we as a nation need it most.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Normally, nations pull together after tragedy, but a society plagued by dislocation and slipped off the rails of reality can go the other way. Rallies become gripped by an exaltation of tribal fervor. Before you know it, political life has spun out of control, dragging the country itself into a place both bizarre and unrecognizable.
This happened in Europe in the 1930s. We’re not close to that kind of descent in America today, but we’re closer than we’ve been. Let’s be honest: The crack of some abyss opened up for a moment by the end of last week.
Blood was in the streets last week — victims of police violence in two cities and slain cops in another. America’s leadership crisis looked dire. The F.B.I. director’s statements reminded us that Hillary Clinton is willing to blatantly lie to preserve her career. Donald Trump, of course, lies continually and without compunction. It’s very easy to see this country on a nightmare trajectory....I’m betting the local is more powerful, that the healthy growth on the forest floor is more important than the rot in the canopy. But last week was a confidence shaker. There’s a cavity beneath what we thought was the floor of national life, and there are demons there.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Marriage & Family Philosophy Psychology Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture Sociology Violence * Economics, Politics Economy Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Fearful that the nation is locked in a spiral of violence and discord, many Americans took what refuge they could in church on Sunday. In tiny storefronts and suburban megachurches, worshipers mourned the deaths of five Dallas police officers at the hands of an African-American sniper who was aiming to kill white officers at a demonstration against police violence. They also grieved for two African-American men killed in shootings by the police in Baton Rouge, La., and Minnesota.
Some prayed for the souls of the men who pulled the triggers. Some thanked God for the sacrifices the police made daily to protect their cities. Some thanked God for the technology that allowed the world to see controversial acts of police violence toward African-Americans.
At St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan spoke of a country “worried, frustrated and fatigued over senseless violence.”
“From Minnesota to Louisiana and Texas, one nation under God examines its soul,” he said. “Sadness and heaviness is especially present in our African-American and law enforcement communities.”
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
However, participants were more hesitant when it came to questions about their own children cohabiting before marriage. Forty-four percent of participants said they would be OK with their child cohabiting, similar to 40 percent who said it would not be OK.
According to a recent Deseret News report an analysis by the Census Bureau data found cohabitation has doubled in the past 25 years, noting that from 2011 to 2013 nearly two-thirds of of women ages 19-44 had lived with a partner outside of marriage.
“America is well beyond the tipping point when it comes to cohabitation,” Roxanne Stone, editor in chief at Barna Group, stated in the report of the survey. “Living together before marriage is no longer an exception, but instead has become an accepted and expected milestone of adulthood."
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Men Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality Sociology Women Young Adults * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Our vision, then, is bigger and bolder than social justice. And we pray and work not simply for reconciliation of blacks and whites, but of both, and all, to Jesus Christ. And precisely because this is a bigger and bolder vision, we must not become naively optimistic nor cynically despairing. The great American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr spent his life trying to show this nation a middle way regarding justice, one grounded in realistic hope. And he did so with these telling words in his The Irony of American History:
Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore, we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore, we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, could be accomplished alone; therefore, we must be saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our own standpoint; therefore, we must be saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Race/Race Relations Violence * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
I have no easy answer to the crisis in which we find ourselves as Americans. But this much is clear: Dallas Christians, black and white, of all denominations, are called to stand together. As one we pray for those harmed. We who do so are already one body in Jesus Christ, in spite of all the fault lines in our society. May the Holy Spirit guide us all in discerning the shape of our common witness. May we all be praying for the welfare of our city and all its inhabitants. May He protect all exposed to danger in their work.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
But Levin's case is not a counsel of despair. Far from it. Nor does he simply dismiss our nostalgia. Instead, we need to learn from it: "To learn from nostalgia, we must let it guide us not merely toward 'the way we were,' but toward what was good about what we miss, and why." Or, as we've suggested here before, we need to "remember forward."
That endeavour informs the second, constructive half of The Fractured Republic. The diagnosis is important: the same mid-century developments we celebrate were Trojan horses that unleashed forces hostile to the institutions, habits, and practices that made them possible. More specifically, what crawled out of those horses were agents of individualism that devoured the mid-level institutions of society, leaving atomistic individuals fending for themselves and/or looking to a behemoth state to save us. The result has been "the collapse of the culture of solidarity."
The creative way forward, then, is to recover a culture of solidarity in the face of atomistic individualism and an abstract state. But what distinguishes Levin's proposal from the nostalgia of others is his almost Hegelian attentiveness to the contingencies of history. So we can't just turn back the clock to consolidation. Riffing on Alexis de Tocqueville, Levin concedes that the "diffusion" that characterizes our society is "a 'generative fact' of our particular time. It can be channelled and directed, perhaps mitigated at the margins, but it cannot be meaningfully reversed, at least in the foreseeable future.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Marriage & Family Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture Rural/Town Life Urban/City Life and Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Decent Americans cannot turn a blind eye to police abuse; they just didn’t really believe the it was happening. Or maybe they didn’t want to believe. Today, there is literally no excuse to be ignorant of the problem.
It would be hard to overestimate the impact that smart phone cameras have had on forcing us to grapple with the fact that this is, in fact, a very real (and all-too-common) problem. The streaming video of the aftermath of the killing of Philando Castile appears to be the latest tragic example. (Note: We still don’t know exactly what happened, so I’m going to withhold judgment on this specific incident—but the video evidence we’ve all seen does not look good for the police.)
And if there’s any good to come from this horrible trend, it may be that the scales are coming off the eyes of a lot of well meaning, if naive, white Americans. My hope is that this will change public opinion to the point that we can change public policy.
Read it all.
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Race/Race Relations Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General City Government * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
A memorial group says the slaying of five police officers in Dallas in an attack blamed on snipers was the deadliest day in U.S. law enforcement history since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Read it all and go to DFW CBS' website for many local angles.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Violence * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
So what do the numbers tell us about the Church in America?
Overall, the Church’s influence on Americans is beginning to fade. A growing number of Americans have given up on God—or at least on organized religion. They have become “Nones,” a term popularized by Pew Research. And their numbers are growing.
Pew’s 2007 Religious Landscape study, which surveyed 35,000 respondents, found that about 16% of Americans claimed no religious affiliation. By 2015, that number had grown to 23%, almost one in four Americans.
Gallup, another well-respected national firm, gives a wider view of the rise of the Nones. In 1967, Gallup found that about 2% of Americans—or 1 out of every 50—claimed no religious preference. By 2014, that number had grown to 16%, or about 1 in 7.
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For the first time ever, readers of Travel + Leisure magazine voted the Holy City No. 1 on the planet in the tourism periodical’s World’s Best City ranking.
It’s also the first time a U.S. destination earned the honor.
Readers also selected Charleston as the No. 1 city in the U.S. and Canada for the fourth consecutive year.
Read it all from the local paper.
“This is a big old ship, Bill. She creaks, she rocks, she rolls, and at times she makes you want to throw up. But she gets where she’s going. Always has, always will, until the end of time. With or without you.”--J.F. Powers’ Wheat that Springeth Green (New York: New York Review Books Classics edition of the 1988 original, 2000), p. 170
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Christology Ecclesiology
Whether officially recognized or not, Stedman’s life looks much like that of a chaplain. He convenes like-minded people, invites speakers, coordinates discussion groups, organizes activism. He offers one-on-one pastoral counseling and couples counseling. He officiates at weddings, succors the grieving, helps students resolve conflicts with their families. His flock steadily grows, with more than 900 people now on the YHC mailing list.
And members of the humanist community find that it manages to fuse and catalyze various aspects of their personalities—some might even say souls—in a way that other secular groups can’t. “I appreciate having a place to tackle big, hard questions with people coming at them from a similar perspective to mine,” says Chelsea Blink ’21PhD. She admits she wouldn’t mind if YHC were “churchier,” replete with singing and preaching, but she acknowledges she may be in the minority in that regard.
“Something enviable about religious communities is the regularity of that weekly religious service,” says Stephen Goeman ’17MDiv, who interns with YHC, “and how that can drive people in the congregation to hold others accountable for ethical positions.”
“I love that language of accountability,” adds Stedman, citing a study showing that even nonreligious spouses who attended church regularly were more civically engaged. “We have collectively agreed to these certain moral views. We’ve made a commitment to one another.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Education Religion & Culture Young Adults * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Secularism * Theology
On this day, 240 years ago, the visionary gentlemen of the 13 colonies pledged their fortunes and their very lives to the cause of liberty.
Given the incredible forces arrayed against them – the British Navy was the dominant sea force of the time, and the British Army dwarfed the ragtag militia forces which combined to make the Continental Army.
Those 56 delegates to the Continental Congress were the co-founders of the greatest and riskiest startup of all time, one in which the battles were drawn not with marketing, product and engineering but with artillery and infantry and navies, in which loss meant not bankruptcy and “working for the man”, but brutal repression and many lives lost.
These founders truly believed in making the world a better place, not the tired line spouted by every startup that creates a new gaming app or development language, but creating real liberty, true representative government that is by its very nature constrained from exercising undue control.
Read it all.
Long, too long America,
Traveling roads all even and peaceful you learn'd from joys and
But now, ah now, to learn from crises of anguish, advancing,
grappling with direst fate and recoiling not,
And now to conceive and show to the world what your children
en-masse really are,
(For who except myself has yet conceiv'd what your children en-masse
--Walt Whitman (1819-1892)
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'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.
By the article establishing the executive department it is made the duty of the President "to recommend to your consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." The circumstances under which I now meet you will acquit me from entering into that subject further than to refer to the great constitutional charter under which you are assembled, and which, in defining your powers, designates the objects to which your attention is to be given. It will be more consistent with those circumstances, and far more congenial with the feelings which actuate me, to substitute, in place of a recommendation of particular measures, the tribute that is due to the talents, the rectitude, and the patriotism which adorn the characters selected to devise and adopt them. In these honorable qualifications I behold the surest pledges that as on one side no local prejudices or attachments, no separate views nor party animosities, will misdirect the comprehensive and equal eye which ought to watch over this great assemblage of communities and interests, so, on another, that the foundation of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality, and the preeminence of free government be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the affections of its citizens and command the respect of the world. I dwell on this prospect with every satisfaction which an ardent love for my country can inspire, since there is no truth more thoroughly established than that there exists in the economy and course of nature an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness; between duty and advantage; between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity; since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained; and since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered, perhaps, as deeply, as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.
Read it all.
"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.
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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)
What was the Founders' attitude toward religion in the country?
Public virtue was seen as necessary for a republic, and most believed that virtue was produced by religion. There was a strong view that religion was necessary to turn out good citizens.
Many of the Founders were well versed in religious and theological matters. How did this affect their work as architects of the republic?
They could quote Scripture. Jefferson and others were tutored by ministers. They were an extremely biblically literate generation. This certainly shaped their view of Providence. The extent to which they believed in Providence would be unimaginable today.
Adams and folks like that continually quoted [Jesus'] statement that a swallow cannot fall without God's knowledge. Washington talks about the invisible hand of Providence. Their biblical knowledge convinced these people that there was an invisible hand of God, and that there was a moral government of the universe.
Read it all.
"In 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
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.
Lord God Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us, and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn: Grant, we beseech thee, that we and all the peoples of this land may have grace to maintain these liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
"Sometimes," said Sam Querrey's coach Craig Boynton after the 6-7 1-6 6-3 6-7 defeat of world number one Novak Djokovic, "even a blind squirrel finds a nut."
If that sounds a cruel verdict when your charge has just pulled off the greatest single performance of his career, you could forgive the bewilderment.
Not since 1968 had a man held four Grand Slam titles simultaneously, as Djokovic did coming in to this week. Not since the Open era began has a man rattled off 30 straight wins at Slam tournaments.
Read it all.
Read it all.
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
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Less than one-third of the colleges and universities in the United States annually ranked as the country’s best schools require students pursuing a degree in history to take a single course in American history. This finding comes from a shocking new report issued today by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA).
Just as Fourth of July celebrations are set to begin, the new ACTA report No U.S. History? How College History Departments Leave the United States out of the Major shows that only 23 undergraduate history programs at the U.S. News & World Report’s top 25 national universities, top 25 public institutions, and top 25 liberal arts colleges require a single U.S. history class.
Read it all.
When matters didn’t go quite so smoothly, and when some groups in these liberal societies were in fact harmed by these developments, a degree of backlash was inevitable. It didn’t help that elites in many liberal countries made some critical blunders, including the creation of the euro, the invasion of Iraq, the misguided attempt to nation-build in Afghanistan, and the 2008 financial crisis. These and other mistakes helped undermine the legitimacy of the post-Cold War order, open the door to illiberal forces, and left some segments of society vulnerable to nativist appeals.
Efforts to spread a liberal world order also faced predictable opposition from the leaders and groups who were directly threatened by our efforts. It was hardly surprising that Iran and Syria did what they could to thwart U.S. efforts in Iraq, for example, because the George W. Bush administration had made it clear these regimes were on its hit list, too. Similarly, is it that hard to fathom why Chinese and Russian leaders find Western efforts to spread “liberal” values threatening, or why they have taken various steps to forestall them?
Liberals also forgot that successful liberal societies require more than the formal institutions of democracy. They also depend on a broad and deep commitment to the underlying values of a liberal society....
Read it all.
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The California legislature is poised to consider legislation that could destroy the ability of numerous faith-based colleges and universities to pursue the mission for which they were created. SB 1146, one of two similar bills recently introduced into the California legislature, would essentially restrict fully faith-based education to seminaries.
As explained in the Biola University news:
If passed as is, this bill would strip California’s faith-based colleges and universities of their religious liberty to educate students according to their faith convictions.
The proposed legislation seeks to narrow a religious exemption in California only to those institutions of higher learning that prepare students for pastoral ministry. This functionally eliminates the religious liberty for students of all California faith-based colleges and universities who integrate spiritual life with the entire campus educational experience.
Read it all.
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The Obama administration is rushing to help contain the political and economic turmoil roiling Europe in the aftermath of the U.K.’s surprise decision to leave the European Union, with top U.S. officials seeking to ease tensions between European and British leaders over the timing of the divorce.
As the U.K.’s main political parties struggled to address a leadership crisis, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced plans to visit Brussels and London from Rome on Monday, attempting to gauge, and potentially tamp down, reactions among leaders across the world’s largest trading bloc. The trip is an opportunity to understand how the transition will occur -- something U.K. officials are still figuring out --and stress U.S. commitments to the U.K. and EU, a senior administration official said.
The blitz from U.S. officials come amid new uncertainty over the mechanics of Brexit, which has roiled global financial markets. European leaders this weekend sent new signals they’re eager to consummate the departure of the U.K. as a way to consolidate support for the union and ward off similar populist uprisings in their own countries.
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For American bankers living in London, the Brexit signals uncertainty about the capital's status as the world's largest foreign exchange market.
US banks will have to decide on moving thousands of jobs to other major European cities such as Dublin, Frankfurt or Paris depending on whether the UK is able to negotiate new trade deals to retain access to the world's largest single market, the EU.
In a memo to staff on Friday, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon indicated that though the company planned to maintain a large presence in Britain, it would face significant hurdles.
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Retired military dogs that are being put up for adoption are getting a second life alongside the soldiers they served with — thanks to Molli Oliver. Watch it all.
In 1990, Neuhaus was invited by the Christian Century to contribute to an ongoing series called "How My Mind Has Changed...."
He catalogued his frustrations: the betrayal of the Civil Rights movement by the rise of identity politics; the abandonment of the poor to a failed War on Poverty and the devastations of the Sexual Revolution; the disparagement of patriotism and the natural family; and most worrisome, acceptance of the lethal logic of Roe v. Wade. "I experienced the illiberality of certain liberalisms," he reflected. But if readers expected a political conversion story, they would be disappointed. Neuhaus instead pointedly reaffirmed his commitment to the liberal tradition. Mourning the "lost dignity of liberalism," he expressed hope that religious believers would remain committed to "modernity's greatest political achievement."
This is advice we do well to remember and heed, especially those of us tempted to opt out of the "civilizational circle" by declining participation in democratic debate. The advances of secular liberalism might seem unstoppable, but they are not. They depend entirely on the credibility of the claim that religion and religiously informed moral judgment are incompatible with open deliberation. Neuhaus dedicated his life, in word and deed, to refuting this assertion. His goal was not to replace liberal politics with political religion. It was to replace an unsustainable arrangement of moralities in conflict with a common morality whose deliberations could draw on transcendent meanings.
Read it all (my emphasis).
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So while it is true that, in the wake of Orlando, or of Jo Cox's murder, or of some future atrocity that lies before us, talk is not enough, we won't be in position to act in some life-giving or productive way until we learn to do two things. First, we must interrupt the simplistic branding of the atrocities that confront us, which only personify both victims and perpetrators in unhelpful ways, while fuelling our own sense of self-righteous rage. Second, we need to learn again what to do with the justified anger that erupts within us as we face the injustices and violence that surround us. Such powerful emotions have to be directed somewhere outwards, yet without merely being vented at targets of convenience. Doing that only expands the dominant cycles of mythic violence.
As we struggle to learn such difficult lessons, we need to find a way to regain confidence that another's wrath trumps our own, so that the concept of justice can be defined according to something beyond our own immediate personal preference.
We might not all be able to imagine this in the traditional imagery of the Psalms, or through the concept of the divine, but we all nonetheless must find a way to imagine it. Any other response to Orlando or to the murder in West Yorkshire falls short of what these victims demand of us.
Read it all.
Whether in this referendum or in politics in the coming years, the task of the church is to be incarnate. Politicians of all stripes are sons and daughters of God. They are created in his image, and are given authority by the Creator of all things.
We must be present. It was what Jo Cox was doing when she was killed. She was present in her community; she was listening to those who elected her; she was serving on the front line. That’s a place of mission if ever I saw one.
The church should be a place of reconciliation and of healing. It should be a place where battling sides can come together, and where disagreement is not final.
And evangelical Christians should be the first to step up to serve in politics in a world that has never needed leadership as much as it does today.
Read it all (my emphasis).
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It has been a long time coming, the relief must be immense. Read it all from the Plain Dealer.
"Americans' confidence in key U.S. institutions has remained relatively low since 2007," the report noted. "That year, the average for the 14 institutions Gallup has asked about annually since 1993 dropped to 32 percent from 38 percent in 2006."
Confidence in organized religion, which saw a record low of 42 percent in 2015, declined for the fourth year in a row to reach a new low of 41 percent.
This represents an 11-percent drop since 2006, a decline surpassed only by banks that moved from 49 to 27 percent. Even so, organized religion is the third most trusted institution behind military (73 percent) and police (56 percent).
Read it all.
The shooter who killed 49 people at an Orlando LGBT nightclub used Facebook to threaten “Islamic State vengeance”, critique US attacks in Syria and research the locations of Florida police offices, a US senator has reported.
Omar Mateen, 29, used the social media network before and during the attack on Pulse nightclub, the deadliest mass shooting in US history, posting what is described as “terrorism-related content” and searching for “Pulse Orlando” and “Shooting”, Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson revealed.
Read it all from the Independent.
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Premiums for health plans sold through the federal insurance exchange could jump substantially next year, perhaps more than at any point since the Affordable Care Act marketplaces began in 2013.
An early analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that proposed rates for benchmark silver plans — the plans in that popular tier of coverage that determine enrollees’ tax subsidies — are projected to go up an average of 10 percent across 14 major metropolitan areas.
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Yousuf told CBS that he knew there was a door behind the panicked crowd, but people were too overwhelmed to unlatch it.
“And I’m screaming, ‘Open the door! Open the door!’ ” Yousuf said. “And no one is moving because they are scared.”
If they did not act, they could be targeted by the gunman, who could have appeared at any moment. They were a few feet from relative safety. Yousuf told CBS that there was “only one choice.”
“Either we all stay there and we all die, or I could take the chance of getting shot and saving everyone else, and I jumped over to open that latch and we got everyone that we can out of there.”
It was a simple act of heroism, but it may have been one of the most decisive actions that took place that morning. Asked how many people left through that exit, Yousuf told CBS that he estimated as many as 60 or 70.
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Many evangelicals who love Lecrae do so not in spite of his middle-of-the-road stances but because of them. American Christians, particularly young ones, are dying for leaders willing to walk away from partisan polarization, and for some, Lecrae may be the model. They fill his concert tours, like the one in April that hop-scotched from one largely white Christian college town to another. They buy his books, listen to his lectures and watch admiringly when he’s on national news doing something like when he brokered a truce between a cop and protesters near his home in Atlanta after the post-Ferguson riots.
“This generation doesn’t have a Billy Graham,” said LaDawn Johnson, a sociologist at Biola University, an evangelical school outside Los Angeles where Lecrae performed in April. “We’ve lost any kind of significant evangelical leader people could point to, and Lecrae is in a position where he could definitely for many young people be that voice and be that model.”
Lecrae was raised mostly by his mother and grandmother in crime-troubled parts of Houston, Denver and San Diego, where, he writes in his memoir, “Unashamed,” he tried to fill the hole left by his absentee father with drugs (using and selling), dreams of being a gang-banger, tons of sex and explosive fights with various violent men who dated his mother. He showed early interest and talent in music and theater, and hip-hop rushed in to fill his void.
Read it all.
The revelation that the 29-year-old man who opened fire on Sunday in a gay nightclub had dedicated the killing to the Islamic State has prompted a now-familiar question: Was the killer truly acting under orders from the Islamic State, or just seeking publicity and the group’s approval for a personal act of hate?
For the terror planners of the Islamic State, the difference is mostly irrelevant.
Influencing distant attackers to pledge allegiance to the Islamic State and then carry out mass murder has become a core part of the group’s propaganda over the past two years. It is a purposeful blurring of the line between operations that are planned and carried out by the terror group’s core fighters and those carried out by its sympathizers.
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At a high school in Florida, students watched the horrors of Sept. 11, 2001, unfold on live TV. When the second hijacked airliner slammed into the World Trade Center’s south tower, the class sat in stunned disbelief. But one student, a classmate recalled, “started jumping up-and-down cheering on the terrorist.”
That was sophomore Omar Mateen, according to one of the accounts from former students in Stuart, Fla., remembering 9/11 and the reaction by the student who, nearly 15 years later, would carry out the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
The recollections of Mateen’s actions could not be independently verified, and the memories could be clouded by the years that have passed. But similar versions were detailed in separate interviews. As the snapshot in time, the recollections appear to offer yet another stitch in the wider tapestry of Mateen’s life and views before Sunday’s rampage, which included his pledge of loyalty to the Islamic State during a call to police during the standoff.
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"After Sunday’s attack in Orlando, as Christians we must speak out in support of LGBTI people, who have become the latest group to be so brutally targeted by the forces of evil. We must pray, weep with those affected, support the bereaved, and love without qualification.
The obligation to object to these acts of persecution, and to support those LGBTI people who are wickedly and cruelly killed and wounded, bereaved and traumatised, whether in Orlando or elsewhere, is an absolute call on our Christian discipleship. It arises from the unshakeable certainty of the gracious love of God for every human being.
Now, in this time of heartbreak and grief, is a time for solidarity. May God our Father give grace and comfort to all who mourn, and divine compassion to us all."
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...there is one particular prayer that Jesus teaches and models. I’m not enough of a world religion scholar to know if it is unique to Christianity, but it is remarkable part of Christian faith and life. It’s the prayer of Stephen as he was stoned and of Jesus on the Cross: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
It is one way we obey Jesus’ command to love enemies, even murderous ones—whether they target us or those with whom we sympathize.
This struck me afresh recently as I recited an Eastern Orthodox prayer of intercession. In the litany of petitions, this one jumped out at me: “Lord, we pray… for those who hate us and those who love us.”
In the Orthodox tradition, this prayer is to be said every evening.
Read it all.
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[Charleston Mayor John] Tecklenburg also drew parallels to Charleston’s loss almost a year ago at Emanuel.
“One year ago this week, we here in Charleston were brought face to face with the same kind of evil that the people of Orlando are being forced to reckon with today, when nine beautiful souls were viciously stolen from us by a racist gunman in the basement of Mother Emanuel AME church,” Tecklenburg said. “We will never forget the horror of that hot, sticky June night, or of the terrible days and weeks that followed.”
He added that the community would never stop giving thanks for the remarkable courage and grace of the Emanuel families, “who looked beyond their own pain to show us the way to hope and reconciliation.”
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The gunman who opened fire inside a crowded nightclub here early Sunday morning, launching a rampage that killed 50 people and injured 53 others in the deadliest shooting spree in the country’s history, had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State before the attack, according to U.S. law enforcement officials.
In a rampage that President Obama said the FBI was investigating as an act of terrorism, this gunman fired a barrage of bullets inside Pulse, a popular gay bar and dance club, forcing people to drop to the floor and rush out through a back entrance during the club’s “Latin night.”
After the first round of gunshots, police said the shooter held hostages for about three hours until officers stormed inside to rescue people and killed him in a shootout, though many details remained unclear about the standoff and the final confrontation.
Witnesses and others said the shooting left a gruesome scene behind, with the bloodshed 20 minutes away from Disney evoking the carnage seen in war zones.
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For 282 years’ worth of Sundays, someone has sat, and stood, and sung, and knelt, and prayed here, in this space, inside these very walls. Someone in a waistcoat, in a hoop skirt, someone holding a homemade rag doll or an imported, porcelain-headed version, has stood at the first strains of the opening hymn. Someone wearing a bustle, or Confederate gray, or denim overalls, or deep black mourning, has unobtrusively bowed his or her head as a sign of humility as the processional cross was carried aloft and down this very aisle toward the altar. Someone in a middy blouse or boxy suit; in knickers or a knitted cloche; in a belted, darted, shirtwaist dress or Army fatigues, has opened the Book of Common Prayer and followed a liturgy dating from 1549. Like these colonists, these forebears, these faithful, this Sunday, in the oldest town in North Carolina, in the oldest standing, active church in North Carolina, in a short-sleeve dress and flats, I’m doing what they did, and what has been done every week for 282 years.
Like nearly everything in Bath, St. Thomas Episcopal Church is mere yards from water. The town was founded in 1705, on Bath Creek, which leads to the Pamlico River, which leads to the Pamlico Sound, and on to the Atlantic. Behind the church — simple, squarish, steeple-less — are fields of crops. The church’s front yard — indeed, its back yard — is randomly dotted with gravestones, both recent and ancient. No fences. No foundation plantings. A few firs, crooked with age. It’s easy to imagine how St. Thomas looked in 1734, when it was constructed. Little, it seems, has changed.
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On March 28, however, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced a revision. The phrase “freedom of worship” would be changed to “freedom of religion.” The notice came in a letter from the agency’s director, Leon Rodriguez, to Sen. James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican who called for the correction last year.
The switch allows the naturalization exam to reflect the actual language of the Constitution: The word “worship” does not appear anywhere in its text, whereas the First Amendment promises “the free exercise” of “religion.” This might look like a slight edit, trivial at best and pedantic at worst. Isn’t “freedom of worship” the same thing as “freedom of religion”?
Not at all, and more is at stake than a semantic squabble over which words immigrants memorize as they prepare to become citizens. Redefining “religion” as merely “worship” diminishes religious freedom by pushing aside important aspects of faith, from street-corner proselytizing to engaging in political life from a religious perspective.
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Nearly three in 10 Americans (29%) are satisfied with the way things are going in the U.S., continuing the trend of low satisfaction levels since 2007. Americans' satisfaction has averaged 24% across the 89 months of the Obama administration to date, well below the average 37% satisfaction level since Gallup began measuring it in 1979.
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The National Cathedral will be removing two images of the Confederate Flag from the building's stained glass windows, after a period of public discussion on issues of race, slavery and justice.
The windows in question memorialize Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson; they were installed in 1953 after lobbying by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
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National Cathedral Will Remove Confederate Flag Stained Glass Windows https://t.co/KzZI7mkq8C— NPR (@NPR) June 9, 2016
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Author of "The Price of Prosperity," Todd Buchholz, discusses his book explaining why America may be in danger of collapse. He speaks on "Bloomberg Markets."
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When I first started traveling to poor countries as a young journalist I was most shocked by the slums.
Tarp cities and shantytowns in Asia, Africa and Latin America — often butted up against wealthy neighborhoods and sleek high-rises — stood out to me as symbols of the distance between the United States and the “developing world.”
But that distance has shrunk in Seattle.
Yes, we’ve had a large homeless population here for as long as I can remember. But the now-ubiquitous knots of tents on traffic medians, the appearance of homeless encampments in neighborhoods and the growth of “The Jungle” alongside I-5 have shown me our city is not immune to extreme poverty — or outrageous disparity of wealth.
And nothing brought that point home quite like visiting “The Jungle” alongside an Anglican Bishop from South Sudan..
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I have also to announce to the House that during the night and the early hours of this morning the first of the series of landings in force upon the European Continent has taken place. In this case the liberating assault fell upon the coast of France. An immense armada of upwards of 4,000 ships, together with several thousand smaller craft, crossed the Channel. Massed airborne landings have been successfully effected behind the enemy lines, and landings on the beaches are proceeding at various points at the present time. The fire of the shore batteries has been largely quelled. The obstacles that were constructed in the sea have not proved so difficult as was apprehended. The Anglo-American Allies are sustained by about 11,000 firstline aircraft, which can be drawn upon as may be needed for the purposes of the battle. I cannot, of course, commit myself to any particular details. Reports are coming in in rapid succession. So far the Commanders who are engaged report that everything is proceeding according to plan. And what a plan! This vast operation is undoubtedly the most complicated and difficult that has ever taken place. It involves tides, wind, waves, visibility, both from the air and the sea standpoint, and the combined employment of land, air and sea forces in the highest degree of intimacy and in contact with conditions which could not and cannot be fully foreseen.
There are already hopes that actual tactical surprise has been attained, and we hope to furnish the enemy with a succession of surprises during the course of the fighting. The battle that has now begun will grow constantly in scale and in intensity for many weeks to come, and I shall not attempt to speculate upon its course. This I may say, however. Complete unity prevails throughout the Allied Armies. There is a brotherhood in arms between us and our friends of the United States. There is complete confidence in the supreme commander, General Eisenhower, and his lieutenants, and also in the commander of the Expeditionary Force, General Montgomery. The ardour and spirit of the troops, as I saw myself, embarking in these last few days was splendid to witness. Nothing that equipment, science or forethought could do has been neglected, and the whole process of opening this great new front will be pursued with the utmost resolution both by the commanders and by the United States and British Governments whom they serve. I have been at the centres where the latest information is received, and I can state to the House that this operation is proceeding in a thoroughly satisfactory manner. Many dangers and difficulties which at this time last night appeared extremely formidable are behind us. The passage of the sea has been made with far less loss than we apprehended. The resistance of the batteries has been greatly weakened by the bombing of the Air Force, and the superior bombardment of our ships quickly reduced their fire to dimensions which did not affect the problem. The landings of the troops on a broad front, both British and American- -Allied troops, I will not give lists of all the different nationalities they represent-but the landings along the whole front have been effective, and our troops have penetrated, in some cases, several miles inland. Lodgments exist on a broad front.
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A federal jury in Minnesota has found three young men guilty of plotting to join ISIS and commit murder overseas, in a case in which six other men have already pleaded guilty. All of the men are Somali-Americans who are in their early 20s; they now face maximum sentences of life in prison.
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Since the beginning of the Great Recession in 2007, the history major has lost significant market share in academia, declining from 2.2% of all undergraduate degrees to 1.7%. The graduating class of 2014, the most recent for which there are national data, included 9% fewer history majors than the previous year’s cohort, compounding a 2.8% decrease the year before that. The drop is most pronounced at large research universities and prestigious liberal arts colleges.
This is unfortunate — not just for those colleges, but for our economy and polity.
Of course it’s not just history. Students also are slighting other humanities disciplines including philosophy, literature, linguistics and languages. Overall, the core humanities disciplines constituted only 6.1% of all bachelor’s degrees awarded in 2014, the lowest proportion since systematic data collection on college majors began in 1948.
Read it all from James Grossman.
The steps of the Lincoln Memorial have seen civil rights demonstrations for decades, notably the 1963 March on Washington, in which African-Americans demanded civil and economic rights, but also in the 1990s as LGBT groups demanded an end to discrimination.
On Saturday (June 4), another group will gather at those same steps. Atheists, agnostics, humanists and other so-called religious nones are converging for the Reason Rally, which according to its website aims to be “the biggest gathering of nonreligious people in history.”
The rally’s main goal is to show that nonbelievers have the numbers, the clout and the organizational skills to be a voting bloc worth courting in the November election.
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More recently, Notre Dame historian George Marsden — a self-described “Augustinian Christian” and so something close to an evangelical, whatever that still means — has argued in his book “The Twilight of the American Enlightenment” that religious traditionalists and secularist liberals can avoid a great deal of acrimony by defenestrating the midcentury idea of a “neutral” public sphere and instead adopting what he and others have termed “principled pluralism.” More recently still, in his new book “The Fractured Republic,” the scholar and journalist Yuval Levin, a Jewish social conservative, has counseled both religious conservatives and secularist liberals that they can repair our dysfunctional politics by comprehending the implications of this one essential truth: that American society is no longer the consolidated unit it once was but a diffuse assortment of subcultures.
True, many religious social conservatives still think it’s their duty to take America back, their disposition expressed in the fierce eloquence of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). But many do not. Many have finally given up on the whole idea of a culture war or are willing to admit they lost it. They are determined only to remain who they are and to live as amiably and productively as they can in a culture that doesn’t look like them and doesn’t belong to them.
In time, this shift in outlook may bring about a more peaceable public sphere. But that will depend on others — especially the adherents of an ascendant social progressivism — declining to take full advantage of their newfound cultural dominance. I see few signs of that, but I am hopeful all the same.
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Millennials are waiting longer to get married than previous generations. According to a 2013 study by the Pew Research Center, only 26 percent of millennials are getting hitched between the ages of 18 and 32. That’s compared to 36 percent of Generation X, 48 percent of baby boomers and 65 percent of the Silent Generation.
One of main reasons people say they’re waiting: Money. Specifically, paying off student loans.
“They are facing dual student loan issues, where maybe their parents only had one set of student loans to deal with. I also think that they’re more expensive,” said Angie Eggum, a financial advisor at Edward Jones Investments.
Eggum said there are some simple steps people can take to make sure they’re financially ready to say “I Do.”
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Delegates to the Episcopal convention last summer approved a marriage equality resolution allowing same-sex couples to be married in an Episcopal church if the local priest is willing. The passage of the resolution came days after the June 26, 2015, ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that legalized same-sex marriage for all Americans.
For some, like Mark McCarty, that was the last straw. McCarty was a member of the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest for 60 years before deciding to leave over the same-sex marriage issue. To him, it is a matter of biblical interpretation. He says no one has been able to show him a Bible passage that OKs same-sex marriage. He prefers the "traditional biblical Anglican worship" referred to in the newspaper ad.
Deciding to leave Heavenly Rest was painful, McCarty said. He will miss the beauty of the building itself, the bell tower, the music and grandeur of the service. But, McCarty said, he believes staying at Heavenly Rest for those reasons, when he opposes the Episcopal Church's theology, would be wrong.
"That's idolatry," he said. "That's building worship.
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Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.
The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.
The ceremonies centered around the mourning-draped veranda of the Arlington mansion, once the home of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Various Washington officials, including Gen. and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, presided over the ceremonies. After speeches, children from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan Home and members of the GAR made their way through the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers and singing hymns.
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The tears streamed down Alix Idrache's face. In the photograph, the streaks reach almost to the high collar of his gray dress uniform.
The moment, captured by a military photographer Saturday during commencement exercises at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., marked the culmination of a journey that began in 2009, when Idrache came to Maryland from his native Haiti, barely able to speak English.
Now 24, he graduated at the top of his class in physics, was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army, and is headed to Alabama to train as a helicopter pilot.
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New Yorkers strolling through Chinatown in downtown Manhattan last Sunday might have noticed an unusual flurry of activity: Jewish men and women, a rabbi in a clerical gown, and a color guard gathering in graveyard tucked away behind a wrought-iron fence. Members of the New York synagogue Shearith Israel, the oldest Jewish congregation in North America, were visiting their historic cemetery at Chatham Square.
In an annual ritual ahead of Memorial Day, they were there for a ceremony that few other synagogues in America could perform: honoring the members of their congregation who had fought in the Revolutionary War.
For Shearith Israel, where I am the rabbi, what is most striking is not that its history stretches back to the Colonial period, but rather that so many of its congregants sided with George Washington against England. New York was known as a Tory stronghold: When English forces expelled Washington’s troops from the city, King George III’s soldiers were greeted with a “Declaration of Dependence” signed by hundreds of New Yorkers, declaring their allegiance to Great Britain.
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Christian morality is being ushered out of American social structures and off the cultural main stage, leaving a vacuum in its place—and the broader culture is attempting to fill the void. New research from Barna reveals growing concern about the moral condition of the nation, even as many American adults admit they are uncertain about how to determine right from wrong. So what do Americans believe? Is truth relative or absolute? And do Christians see truth and morality in radically different ways from the broader public, or are they equally influenced by the growing tide of secularism and religious skepticism?
A majority of American adults across age group, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status and political ideology expresses concern about the nation’s moral condition—eight in 10 overall (80%). The proportion is closer to nine in 10 among Elders (89%) and Boomers (87%), while about three-quarters of Gen-Xers (75%) and Millennials (74%) report concern. Similarly, practicing Christians (90%) are more likely than adults of no faith (67%) or those who identify with a religious faith other than Christianity (72%) to say they are concerned about the moral condition of the nation. Though measurable differences exist between population segments, moral concern is widespread across the demographic board.
Much less widespread, however, is consensus on morality itself. What is it based on? Where does it come from? How can someone know what to do when making moral decisions? According to a majority of American adults (57%), knowing what is right or wrong is a matter of personal experience. This view is much more prevalent among younger generations than among older adults.
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InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA announces that Tom Lin has been selected by the InterVarsity Board of Trustees to become the next president of the campus ministry. He will start on August 10.
Tom has been vice president and director of missions for InterVarsity since February 2011, and also director of Urbana 12 and Urbana 15, InterVarsity’s triennial student missions conference. He succeeds Jim Lundgren, who has served as InterVarsity’s interim president for the past year.
In InterVarsity’s 75 years of campus ministry on U.S. college and university campuses, Tom becomes the first InterVarsity president who began his InterVarsity career working in campus ministry. After graduating from Harvard in 1994, he planted a chapter for Asian American students at Harvard, and another chapter at Boston University. He led numerous student missions projects in the U.S. and overseas, and helped design national training for InterVarsity staff.
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In an America riddled with anxieties, the worries that Mr. [Kody] Foster and his neighbors bring through the doors of the Tapering Vapor are common and potent: Fear that an honest, 40-hour working-class job can no longer pay the bills. Fear of a fraying social fabric. Fear that the country’s future might pale in comparison with its past.
Wilkes County, with a population of nearly 69,000, has felt those stings more than many other places. The textile and furniture industries have been struggling here for years, and the recession and the loss of the Lowe’s headquarters have helped drive down the median household income. That figure fell by more than 30 percent between 2000 and 2014 when adjusted for inflation, the second-steepest decrease in the nation, according to an analysis of census data by the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Still, the regulars at the Tapering Vapor — overwhelmingly white, mostly working class and ranging from their 20s to middle age — provide a haze-shrouded snapshot of an anxious nation navigating an election year fueled by disquiet and malaise.
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US: Rising % of young adults are living with parents— Conrad Hackett (@conradhackett) May 24, 2016
2014 32% pic.twitter.com/jLM94cYDru
The empty nests are filling up: For the first time in modern history, young adults ages 18 to 34 are more likely to live with a parent than with a romantic partner, according to a new census analysis by the Pew Research Center.
Millennials, who have been slower than previous generations to marry and set up their own households, reached that milestone in 2014, when 32.1 percent lived in a parent’s home, compared with 31.6 percent who lived with a spouse or a partner, the report found.
“The really seismic change is that we have so many fewer young adults partnering, either marrying or cohabiting,” said Richard Fry, the Pew economist who wrote the report. “In 1960, that silent generation left home earlier than any generation before or after, because they married so young.”
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Of all the evidence in recent years that white supremacy remains imprinted on American life, the shootings were the most indisputable. A white boy had come of age in the 21st century drinking from the same poisoned spring as lynch mobs across the country in the 20th. He had stepped through loopholes in gun laws broad enough to allow a 21-year-old with a criminal history to purchase a Glock, and carried it into the sanctuary of a church in hopes of avenging imagined wrongs and inciting a race war.
At the same time, in a way without any obvious parallel in recent decades, the offers of forgiveness, prayers, and mercy in the face of judgment were an extraordinary public reminder of the holy power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, its persistence even in an increasingly secular nation, and its capacity to change hearts, minds—and legislatures. Within three weeks of the shooting, the debate about the Confederate flag flying over South Carolina’s State Capitol, a debate that had been entrenched in stalemate in the South Carolina House of Representatives, was over. On July 10, 2015, the flag was removed. As South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley noted, the grace shown on June 19 helped to change the minds of wavering officials.
All this happened in a few terrible and memorable days. And it all deserves to be remembered and commemorated, lamented and honored, as CT seeks to do with the following story.
But none of it is over.
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Choirs may be the ultimate training ground for hopeful boy bands and ensembles. Choristers—who in British and American cathedral choirs usually range from eight to 13, with continental choirs retaining their singers until the age of 19—typically rehearse together daily, making their decision to team up in ensembles of their own making less risky. They form an immediate talent pool of skilled musicians who enjoy making music together, and know one another’s musical likes and personalities. “[British cathedral] choirs are an ideal place for future bandmates to grow up in,” says Simon Kirk, director of music at St John’s College School, which educates the boy choristers of St John's College Chapel in Cambridge. “You work as part of a professional team that tours and records. From the age of nine to ten, the boys work as professional musicians.”
When Barnaby Smith graduated from Westminster Abbey Choir School at 13, he already knew that he wanted to keep singing with some of his fellow choristers. Several years later, four of them formed the acapella ensemble Voces8, which has since won numerous competitions and is now the singers’ full-time occupation. “A small ensemble is like a family,” Mr Smith explains. “Having sung in a boys’ choir was vital. Choir school is a very professional environment where boys depend on one another. It’s not something you do on your own.”
Though top-level choirs are fertile band-making territory, establishing an ensemble can be awkward if it takes place while the boys are still choir members. “You decide who you get along with,” explains Louis Weise, a 17-year-old member of the St Thomas Choir in Leipzig. “If you’re going to do additional rehearsals together and also try to make money together, you really have to get along.”
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Our fundamental problems are the downsides of transitions we have made for good reasons: to enjoy more flexibility, creativity and individual choice. For example, we like buying cheap products from around the world. But the choices we make as consumers make life less stable for us as employees.
Levin says the answer is not to dwell in confusing, frustrating nostalgia. It’s through a big push toward subsidiarity, devolving choice and power down to the local face-to-face community level, and thus avoiding the excesses both of rigid centralization and alienating individualism. A society of empowered local neighborhood organizations is a learning society. Experiments happen and information about how to solve problems flows from the bottom up.
I’m acknowledged in the book, but I learned something new on every page. Nonetheless, I’d say Levin’s emphasis on subsidiarity and local community is important but insufficient. We live within a golden chain, connecting self, family, village, nation and world. The bonds of that chain have to be repaired at every point, not just the local one.
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In this booth, the choice is between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Period.
"That's the scenario people I know are talking about and arguing about," said Stephen P. White of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., author of the book "Red, White, Blue and Catholic."
Many religious conservatives believe they "face a choice between two morally repugnant candidates," he added. "The reality of that choice is starting to drive some people into despair. ... I understand that, but I think it would be wrong for people to think that they need to abandon politics simply because they are disgusted with this election."
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Mo, who attended one of the nation's top colleges, is one of a small group of American citizens and residents whose names were found in ISIS personnel files obtained by NBC News and verified by the West Point Combating Terrorism Center.
In the interview, he recounts his trip to Turkey and then Syria, his ISIS indoctrination, the violence he witnessed and the growing disillusionment that triggered his dangerous escape.
"The Islamic State is not bringing Islam to the world, and people need to know that. And I'll say that…till the day I die," he said.
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Every day, tributes are placed at the memorial in Washington, D.C., and while they are left behind, they are not lost.
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The nuns, who are members of the Dominican order, care for those of all religions and backgrounds — Laub’s mother-in-law was Jewish — and live by the prescient words of its founder, Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, a daughter of Nathaniel Hawthorne: “We cannot cure our patients, but we can assure the dignity and value of their final days, and keep them comfortable and free of pain.” (The Hawthorne Dominicans also operate similar homes in Atlanta and Philadelphia.)
As the nuns cared for their guests, Laub followed them with her camera — it’s her way. Then, even after her mother-in-law died in late September, she found herself returning to Rosary again and again, still wanting to capture something of the kindness that her family had found there. She asked the nuns to sit for portraits, in which she stripped away the background to show their eyes and faces in clear focus. “I wanted them to be quiet,” she said, “so their power could come through.”
The nuns in particular had moved her. She was struck by their tenderness with the dying, how they painted women’s fingernails and combed their hair, changed them into fresh nightgowns and arranged flowers in their rooms. “This is how dying should be,” Laub says. “It doesn’t feel like a place of death. It feels like a place of living.”
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The culture wars are over; they lost, we won. Remember, they were the ones who characterized constitutional disputes as culture wars (see Justice Scalia in Romer v. Evans, and the Wikipedia entry for culture wars, which describes conservative activists, not liberals, using the term.) And they had opportunities to reach a cease fire, but rejected them in favor of a scorched earth policy. The earth that was scorched, though, was their own. (No conservatives demonstrated any interest in trading off recognition of LGBT rights for “religious liberty” protections. Only now that they’ve lost the battle over LGBT rights, have they made those protections central – seeing them, I suppose, as a new front in the culture wars. But, again, they’ve already lost the war.). For liberals, the question now is how to deal with the losers in the culture wars. That’s mostly a question of tactics. My own judgment is that taking a hard line (“You lost, live with it”) is better than trying to accommodate the losers, who – remember – defended, and are defending, positions that liberals regard as having no normative pull at all. Trying to be nice to the losers didn’t work well after the Civil War, nor after Brown. (And taking a hard line seemed to work reasonably well in Germany and Japan after 1945.) I should note that LGBT activists in particular seem to have settled on the hard-line approach, while some liberal academics defend more accommodating approaches. When specific battles in the culture wars were being fought, it might have made sense to try to be accommodating after a local victory, because other related fights were going on, and a hard line might have stiffened the opposition in those fights. But the war’s over, and we won.
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When his son fell prey to America’s latest drug scourge, Joel Murphy, a funeral-home worker, knew his family had plenty of company.
He could see it in the faces of the dead.
Many of the corpses he picked up on the job were men in their 20s, with close-cropped hair, baseball caps and gaunt frames. They made him think of his youngest son, Joseph.
“I see him sometimes, I see him in a lot of them,” he said.
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In reality, however, many working Americans simply can't afford to retire. Fewer workers today than in the past say a pension will be a major income source in retirement, and many have been unable to save sufficiently during the economic slowdown of the past decade. Seven in 10 employed adults told Gallup in April that they are worried about not having enough savings for retirement. As a result, they now need to work as long as possible to build up their retirement nest eggs.
At the moment, most workers are forgoing any thought of retiring before 62, the minimum age to receive partial Social Security retirement benefits, while nearly a third are planning to hold off until after age 67.
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Where does the dialogue come from?
Familiarity. Memory of the way things get said. Once you have heard certain expressions, sentences, you almost never forget them. It’s like sending a bucket down the well and it always comes up full. You don’t know you’ve remembered, but you have. And you listen for the right word, in the present, and you hear it. Once you’re into a story everything seems to apply—what you overhear on a city bus is exactly what your character would say on the page you’re writing. Wherever you go, you meet part of your story. I guess you’re tuned in for it, and the right things are sort of magnetized—if you can think of your ears as magnets.
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Fewer Americans are traveling to fight alongside the Islamic State and the power of the extremist group's brand has significantly diminished in the United States, FBI Director James Comey said Wednesday.
The FBI encountered "6, 8, 10" Americans a month in 2014 and the first half of 2015 who traveled to the Middle East or tried to go there to join the Islamic State, but that number has averaged about one a month since last summer in a sustaining downward trend, Comey said.
"There's no doubt that something has happened that is lasting, in terms of the attractiveness of the nightmare which is the Islamic State to people from the United States," he told reporters during a wide-ranging round-table discussion Wednesday.
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The great shrinking of the middle class that has captured the attention of the nation is not only playing out in troubled regions like Rust Belt metros, Appalachia and the Deep South, but in just about every metropolitan area in America, according to a major new analysis by the Pew Research Center.
Pew reported in December that a clear majority of American adults no longer live in the middle class, a demographic reality shaped by decades of widening inequality, declining industry and the erosion of financial stability and family-wage jobs. But while much of the attention has focused on communities hardest hit by economic declines, the new Pew data, based on metro-level income data since 2000, show that middle-class stagnation is a far broader phenomenon.
The share of adults living in middle-income households has also dwindled in Washington, New York, San Francisco, Atlanta and Denver. It's fallen in smaller Midwestern metros where the middle class has long made up an overwhelming majority of the population. It's withering in coastal tech hubs, in military towns, in college communities, in Sun Belt cities.
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For nearly two and a half centuries, Americans have enjoyed the enormous privilege and responsibility of forming our own government—a privilege rarely experienced throughout most of human history. For most of history, humanity has struggled with the question of how to respond to a government that was essentially forced upon them. But Americans have often struggled with a very different reality; how do we rightly respond to the government that we choose?
To put all of this in historical perspective, the Framers of the American experiment understood that a representative democracy built on the principle of limited government would require certain virtues of its citizens. These would include a restraint of passions and an upholding of traditional moral virtues, without which democracy would not be possible. As the idea of limited government implies, the citizenry would be required to carry out the social responsibilities of the community without the intrusion of government and, thus, citizens would be expected to have the moral integrity necessary for such an arrangement. The Framers of the American Republic also agreed that it would be impossible to have a representative democracy and a limited government if the people did not elect leaders who embodied the virtues of the citizenry while also respecting and protecting society’s pre-political institutions: marriage and family, the church, and the local community.
Thus, the idea of a limited government requires that society uphold and pursue the health of its most basic institutions. When a civil society is weak, government becomes strong. When the family breaks down, government grows stronger. When the essential institutions of society are no longer respected, government demands that respect for itself. That is a recipe for tyranny.
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