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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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On a Thursday morning a few months ago, I got a call from my doctor’s assistant telling me that I have Stage 4 cancer. The stomach cramps I was suffering from were not caused by a faulty gallbladder, but by a massive tumor.
I am 35. I did the things you might expect of someone whose world has suddenly become very small. I sank to my knees and cried. I called my husband at our home nearby. I waited until he arrived so we could wrap our arms around each other and say the things that must be said. I have loved you forever. I am so grateful for our life together. Please take care of our son. Then he walked me from my office to the hospital to start what was left of my new life.
But one of my first thoughts was also Oh, God, this is ironic. I recently wrote a book called “Blessed.”
I am a historian of the American prosperity gospel....
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Quite aside from his legal views, what came through that night four years ago was just how keenly interested Scalia was in Church affairs, and how central reflection on his faith was to his life and his worldview.
There are, of course, Catholics who don’t believe Scalia drew the correct conclusions from his religious convictions, seeing his “originalist” view of the Constitution as more about conservative political ideology than genuinely Catholic sensibilities.
What can’t be denied is that Antonin Scalia was a serious Catholic, someone whose faith was a defining element of his life. His passing is a reminder that Catholicism’s contribution to public life in the United States may not always be ideologically coherent or predictable, but it’s profound, and he was a lifelong embodiment of that truth.
Read it all frp, John Allen in Crux.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology
...this goes hand in hand with the general decline of America’s faith in its institutions. We feel less respect for almost all of them—the church, the professions, the presidency, the Supreme Court. The only formal national institution that continues to score high in terms of public respect (72% in the most recent Gallup poll) is the military.
A few years ago I gave a lecture to a class at West Point, the text of which was: You are entering the only U.S. institution left standing. Your prime responsibility throughout your careers will be to keep it respected. I then told them about the Dreyfus case. They had not heard of it. I explained how that scandal rocked public faith in a previously exalted institution, the French army, doing it and France lasting damage. And so your personal integrity is of the utmost importance, I said, as day by day that integrity creates the integrity of the military. The cadets actually listened to that part.
I mention this to say we are in a precarious position in the U.S. with so many of our institutions going down. Many of those pushing against the system have no idea how precarious it is or what they will be destroying. Those defending it don’t know how precarious its position is or even what they’re defending, or why. But people lose respect for a reason.
Read it all.
The world has entered a “new cold war,” Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Saturday, as he held out an olive branch to western powers, urging conciliation.
“Sometimes I think, are we in 2016 or 1962?” Mr Medvedev asked, in a speech that reeled off the long list of familiar Russian grievances — from Nato expansion to western regime change projects — but also included some of the firmest calls for rapprochement with Europe and the US since Moscow’s annexation of Crimea two years ago.
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Filed under: * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. England / UK Europe Russia * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Please take special note in this story about Marty Burbank's gift the reason He did it was because of his pastors sermon.
Watch it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics Stewardship * Culture-Watch Children Education Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
"I'd thought about the families that were bombed. There was one in which the package arrived to the man's home and his little 2-year-old daughter was there. She was almost in the room when he opened the package. Luckily she left, and his wife left. And then he died," Patrik told ABC News' Byron Pitts. "And there were others. And so I spent those days thinking about those people."
Between 1978 and 1995, Kaczynski placed or mailed 16 bombs that killed three people and injured 23 others, according to authorities.
In 1995, before he was identified as the Unabomber, he demanded newspapers to publish a long manuscript he had written, saying the killings would continue otherwise. Both the New York Times and Washington Post published the 35,000-word manifesto later that year at the recommendation of the Attorney General and the Director of the FBI.
A professor of philosophy, Patrik recognized familiar sounding ideas in the manuscript from letters her husband David Kaczynski had received from his older brother Ted, including a 23-page essay in which he raged against the modern world. In the essay, Ted wrote phrases such as, "Technology has already made it impossible for us to live as physically independent beings."
Read it all (or watch the video which is recommended).
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Psychology Mental Illness * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Theodicy
The US establishment’s worst nightmare is coming true. Forget whether they happen to be Democratic or Republican. With record turnouts and by margins few could have imagined possible a few weeks ago, New Hampshire’s voters repudiated America’s elites.
The victors were an ageing socialist who had almost zero name recognition a year ago and America’s most famous reality television host. The scale of Bernie Sanders’ and Donald Trump’s victories were breathtaking.
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Presbyterian Church (USA) is expecting to see a loss of over 400,000 members between 2015 and 2020, according to a reported internal document.
“The slide [from the meeting] also showed that COGA is predicting membership losses of 100,000 for both 2015 and 2016,” reported The Layman.
PCUSA’s Office of the General Assembly and Presbyterian Mission Agency Board Executive Committee held a meeting last Wednesday when projected losses were discussed, according to a recent account by the conservative Presbyterian publication The Layman.
Read it all from the Christian Post.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Presbyterian * Theology
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Psychology Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Personal Finance * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Hamtramck, Michigan was once the home of Polish Catholics and an auto manufacturing plant that employed 45,000 workers. Today it is a much smaller community, more than half of which is Muslim, and it is the only American town with a Muslim-majority city council. Lucky Severson reports from Hamtramck on how dramatically it has changed.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General City Government * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam
But the question remains: If sex is liberated, what is it liberated from, and what is it liberated to?
If sex is just a matter of physical pleasure, then the freedom to enjoy it becomes the default moral position. Any further question concerns the use to which this pleasure is put. Such is implied by Foucault’s title, The Use of Pleasure. This way of seeing things feeds into two other orthodoxies of our time. My pleasures are mine, and if you are forbidding them you are also oppressing me. Hence sexual liberation is not just a release but a duty, and by letting it all hang out I am not just defying the bourgeois order but casting a blow for freedom everywhere. Self-gratification acquires the glamor and the moral kudos of a heroic struggle. For the “me” generation, no way of acquiring a moral cause can be more gratifying. You become totally virtuous by being totally selfish.
Furthermore, it becomes easier to weigh sex in the cost–benefit balance. As society retreats from the vestigial experience of the sacred and the forbidden, we easily imagine that sex has nothing especially to do with love, and that it has lost its sacramental aura. We then try to reconstruct sexual morality in utilitarian terms. Pleasures can be weighed in terms of their intensity and duration, and if there is no more to sex than pleasure we can form a clear and decidable distinction between “good sex” and “bad sex,” qualified only by the principle of consent. It is in these terms that the ethos of sexual liberation is now expressed, with “good sex” being esteemed as the natural outcome of a truly liberated and self-expressing desire—the desire being precisely a desire for pleasure.
If we see sex in that way, as the release of the real me inside, the reward of which is pleasure, then the sexual revolution does not lead to the “withering away of the state,” such as the Marxists foretold. It leads to the withering away of society.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Marriage & Family Psychology Science & Technology Sexuality * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
[Dolores Westfall]...endures what is for many aging Americans an unforgiving economy. Nearly one-third of U.S. heads of households ages 55 and older have no pension or retirement savings and a median annual income of about $19,000.
A growing proportion of the nation’s elderly are like Westfall: too poor to retire and too young to die.
Many rely on Social Security and minimal pensions, in part because half of all workers have no employer-backed retirement plans. Eight in 10 Americans say they will work well into their 60s or skip retirement entirely.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly * Economics, Politics Economy Housing/Real Estate Market Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
Estimates of Americans' debt burden abound, and unfortunately, they're almost all different. But one thing is clear: Americans are carrying a lot of debt, especially millennials, according to Gallup analysis.
Perhaps the most surprising finding from Gallup's analysis is just how few Americans account for that mountain of consumer debt. For example, three out of four U.S. adults (76%) report that they have at least one credit card, but, on average, Americans have 3.4 of them. The percentage of Americans who have credit cards is lowest among millennials (65%) and highest among traditionalists (85%), with Gen Xers (78%) and baby boomers (83%) in between.
Though 76% of U.S. adults report having at least one credit card, just under half of Americans (48%) carry credit card debt, with fewer traditionalists (32%) and more Gen Xers (61%) carrying credit card debt. The Generation X finding isn't surprising, given that they are in their prime child-rearing years and that they have more cards than any other group (4.5).
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Sociology Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy Personal Finance * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The outgoing commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan warned Congress on Tuesday that security there will deteriorate further from a resurgent Taliban unless the U.S. military makes a long-term commitment to stay.
Army Gen. John F. Campbell, who has led the international force since August 2014, said the Afghan military is “uneven and inconsistent” on the battlefield and is beset by corruption. He said the central government in Kabul probably won't be able to fully defend itself until the 2020s.
The warning is the latest from a U.S. military officer that suggests the Pentagon wants to reconsider President Obama's plan to cut the current U.S. deployment of 9,800 military advisors and Special Operations troops in half by the time he leaves office.
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Filed under: * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General Terrorism War in Afghanistan * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Asia Afghanistan * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Psychology * Economics, Politics Economy Politics in General Office of the President * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Let’s ask a question: Why was David Blatt fired as coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers? The man who fired him said it was a matter of “a lack of fit with our personnel and our vision.” Possibly true. But it would be more useful to say this: David Blatt got fired because Chip Kelly got fired before him, and Jose Mourinho before him, and Kevin McHale before him, and so on nearly ad infinitum.
That is to say: firing coaches is how professional sports franchises deal with conflict. And athletes know that this is how professional sports franchises deal with conflict: so when a team hits a bad patch, and the players are underperforming, and the coach is getting angry with them, and relationships are fraying… why bother stitching them up? Why bother salving the wounds? If everyone knows where the situation is headed — sacking the manager — then isn’t there rather a strong incentive to make things worse, in order to hasten the inevitable, put an end to the frustrations, start afresh, get a do-over? Of course there is.
And precisely the same tendencies are at work in many of the key institutions of American social life. This is one of the chief reasons why so many marriages end quickly; this is why so many Christians church-hop, to the point that pastors will tell you that church discipline is simply impossible: if you challenge or rebuke a church member for bad behavior, he or she will simply be at another church the next week, or at no church at all.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Marriage & Family Psychology Sociology Sports * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
But a new NBER working paper from economists at Stanford and the University of Virginia suggests that, when done right, one kind of teacher turnover, at least, can be highly effective: programs for aggressively replacing bad teachers. The authors collected data from a unique Washington, D.C. program called IMPACT, which assesses teachers based on student outcomes and ratings from their peers, rewards those who perform well, and replaces those who persistently perform poorly. In a nutshell, it worked: The teachers pushed out for poor performance were consistently replaced with teachers who performed significantly better. “Under a robust system of performance assessment,” the authors write in their conclusion, “the turnover of teachers can generate meaningful gains in student outcomes, particularly for the most disadvantaged students.”
As we’ve written before, the idea that all teachers must be teachers for life needs to be questioned more often. That’s especially true when one is talking about replacing poorly performing teachers.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Education Marriage & Family * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Politics in General City Government State Government * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The killer was at large when Anthony Thompson bolted back toward the white church, its spire rising high and proud in the darkness, its body surrounded by emergency vehicles. He darted for the church’s gate and a side door, the one a white man had entered before allegedly gunning down nine people at Myra’s Bible study.
Someone grabbed him.
“Where you going?” It was an FBI agent.
“I’m Reverend Thompson. My wife’s in that church. I need to go on in and get her.”
“No, no, son. You can’t go in there.”
“Oh yes I can. I’m going in there too. Now let me go!”
Instead, the agent pulled Thompson aside, speaking gently, “You don’t want to go in there.”
Read it all frpom the local paper.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Children Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Psychology Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues Violence Women * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * South Carolina * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The Most Rev. Justin Welby, the leader of the Anglican Communion, has asserted that the potential presidency of Republican candidate Donald Trump would be "very challenging" and problematic.
Welby made the comments on ITV's "Good Morning Britain" program, when he was asked about his thoughts on Trump's suitability as the next president of the United States and leader of the free world.
"It would certainly be very challenging, wouldn't it?" Welby said, with The Telegraph suggesting that he indicated possible doubts about Trump's presidential campaign.
Read it all.
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General Office of the President * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
On a recent rainy afternoon over veggie burgers at NeueHouse, the co-working space in the Flatiron district, three Vedic meditators were discussing drink options for a new kind of happy hour they were organizing.
“Tonight would be a good night for tea,” Katia Tallarico, 33, a lanky psychotherapist from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, said to Light Watkins, 42, an organizer from Los Angeles typically partial to a hot lemon-ginger elixir.
“It’s O.K., we have a really great water, from Australia,” said Andrea Praet, 34, a trend strategist from Greenpoint, who also runs an urban retreat series, with Ms. Tallarico, called the Uplift Project.
Around 5 p.m., the three made their way over to set up a “bar” and buffet at General Assembly, a fourth-floor technology school and site of New York City’s inaugural Shine: an inspirational, alcohol-free evening.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Alcohol/Drinking Urban/City Life and Issues Young Adults * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Heck, Trump could even win — particularly if Democrats nominate a socialist to oppose him — but the only thing more likely to devastate the Republican Party and the conservative movement than a Trump wipeout in November would be a Trump victory. Either way, he’d cement the Republican Party’s long-term demographic problems and bind conservatism to bigotry and nativism.
This is why I wonder about the self-deception of those GOP elites now cozying up to Trump.
The Hill newspaper last week interviewed major donor Robert Bazyk, who decamped to Trump from Bush. The big spender objects to Trump’s positions on refugees and Muslims, and his “insults and name-calling.” And yet he is funding the man.
If, in future years, Republicans and conservatives are called to explain how Trump happened, they might recall this: Good people could have stopped him, but they didn’t.
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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
The march itself was barely over before snow began accumulating quickly on every surface in the Washington, DC area. All of the “happy warriors” for Life this year went above and beyond the usual sacrifices they make to come and march because of Snowstorm Jonas, a blizzard of historic proportions.
Among the warriors were dozens of Anglican church members led by the Anglicans for Life ministry along with the Archbishop and a number of other bishops of the Anglican Church in North America.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine History Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Sanctions have been lifted on Iran, and a moment of change has arrived. President Obama has called this “a unique opportunity, a window, to try to resolve important issues.” The brilliant ex-diplomat Nicholas Burns has said we are at a “potential turning point in the modern history of the Middle East.” And of course they are right. The diplomacy of the Middle East will now change, for better or for worse, forever.
But be very wary of anyone who claims anything more, and certainly be careful of anyone who claims anything more for Iran itself. President Hassan Rouhani is not Mikhail Gorbachev, and this is not a perestroika moment. Iran is not “opening up” or becoming “more Western” or somehow more liberal. Maybe Iran’s foreign minister will now pick up the phone when John Kerry calls. But other than that, the nature of the Iranian regime has not altered at all.
On the contrary, the level of repression inside the country has grown since the “moderate” Rouhani was elected in 2013. The number of death sentences has risen. In 2014, Iran carried out the largest number of executions anywhere in the world except for China. Last year, the number may have exceeded 1,000. Partly this is because Iran’s chief justice has boasted of the eradication (i.e., mass killing) of drug offenders, many of whom are juveniles or convicted on dubious evidence.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Prison/Prison Ministry Psychology * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Middle East Iran * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Naghmeh Abedini is looking forward to reuniting next week with her husband, Saeed, the Iranian-American pastor freed on Saturday after more than three years in an Iranian prison.
But she’s not rushing the reunion.
In an interview at her parent’s home in Boise, Idaho on Wednesday, Abedini said that rebuilding their marriage after her husband’s imprisonment will take time.
The relationship, she said, has been strained in recent months by the publication of an email she sent to friends and supporters late last year. Her note described “physical, emotional, psychological and sexual” abuse by her husband, who she said was addicted to pornography.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Missions * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Marriage & Family Pornography Prison/Prison Ministry Psychology Violence * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Middle East Iran * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Michael R. Bloomberg has instructed advisers to draw up plans for a potential independent campaign in this year’s presidential race. His advisers and associates said he was galled by Donald J. Trump’s dominance of the Republican field, and troubled by Hillary Clinton’s stumbles and the rise of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont on the Democratic side.
Mr. Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, has in the past contemplated running for the White House on a third-party ticket, but always concluded he could not win. A confluence of unlikely events in the 2016 election, however, has given new impetus to his presidential aspirations.
Mr. Bloomberg, 73, has already taken concrete steps toward a possible campaign, and has indicated to friends and allies that he would be willing to spend at least $1 billion of his fortune on it, according to people briefed on his deliberations who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss his plans. He has set a deadline for making a final decision in early March, the latest point at which advisers believe Mr. Bloomberg could enter the race and still qualify to appear as an independent candidate on the ballot in all 50 states.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch History * Economics, Politics Economy The U.S. Government Politics in General City Government Office of the President * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The March for Life — an annual rally held for four decades to protest the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision of the Supreme Court that legalized abortion — has long been dominated by Roman Catholics.
But evangelical leaders expect that on Friday (Jan. 22), there will be more evangelicals walking beside them. That’s the result of Catholic and evangelical conservatives bridging the divide to work on issues of common concern, they said.
Several hundred evangelicals gathered on the eve of the rally at a hotel near the U.S. Capitol, pledging to join forces with Catholics in the anti-abortion effort.
“There’s no tension between evangelicals and Catholics on this issue,” said Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, in an interview. However, he added that Catholics have been “more intentional about communicating the march to their constituents and see the value.”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Science & Technology * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals Roman Catholic * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Members of St. Paul’s Episcopal and Anglican Cathedral on Fifth Avenue learned this week that the congregation’s former dean has been removed from the Episcopal Church’s clergy as discipline for at least one undisclosed offense.
Parishioners received a letter dated Wednesday from San Diego Bishop James R. Mathes informing them of the disciplinary actions against Scott Richardson, 60, who left the cathedral in 2012 to serve as rector at St. Mary the Virgin in San Francisco. He resigned from his position late last month.
Richardson’s wife, Mary Moreno Richardson, who is also a member of the Episcopal Church’s clergy, remains a priest in good standing, according to the church.
“Obviously, this is a grave matter with serious consequences,” Mathes wrote. “Because of Scott’s significant ministry among us, we are all wounded by this.”
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Parishes * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The number is stark: 57,762,169. That is through the end of last year—the number of legal abortions in America since the Roe v. Wade decision 43 years ago tomorrow on January 22, 1973. That was one of the darkest days in American history, and ever since then America has been at war over abortion. We’re now talking about four decades and more. When the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Roe v. Wade, the Court’s majority attempted to put an end to the abortion question. That’s actually what they thought they were doing. To the contrary, that decision has enlarged and revealed the great moral divide that runs through the center of our culture.
Most Americans actually are probably pretty much unaware of the actual contours of the abortion debate as it emerged in the early 1970s. Going back to 1973, the primary opposition to legal abortion came from the Roman Catholic Church; Evangelicals in the pro-life movement joined later. Until the late 1970s and the awakening of the evangelical conscience on abortion, most Evangelicals didn’t want to talk about the issue, considering it to be an issue for other people in other places. Roe v. Wade changed all of that legally in 1973 ruling that in all 50 states abortion on demand, as it has been called, must be considered a woman’s right. The decision was demanded by and later championed by feminists as one of the great feminist victories. The leaders of that movement claimed, and continue to claim, that the availability of abortion on demand is necessary in order for women to be equal with men with respect to the absence of pregnancy as an obstacle to career advancement.
Furthermore, the moral logic of Roe v. Wade was a thunderous affirmation of the idea of personal autonomy that had already taken ahold of the American mind. As the decision made all too clear, “rights talk” had displaced what had been seen as a higher concern for right versus wrong.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine History Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Deaths from drug overdoses have jumped in nearly every county across the United States, driven largely by an explosion in addiction to prescription painkillers and heroin.
Some of the largest concentrations of overdose deaths were in Appalachia and the Southwest, according to new county-level estimates released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The number of these deaths reached a new peak in 2014: 47,055 people, or the equivalent of about 125 Americans every day.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Drugs/Drug Addiction Marriage & Family * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The slaying of nine people as they studied the Bible at Mother Emanuel AME Church touched Charleston in profound ways: the horror of the hate-filled act, the fear that raw racism lurks where we least expect it, and the desire to see that nothing like that happens again here.
But most profound was the response of victims’ families, who didn’t speak in anger, as would have been justified. Instead they spoke of forgiveness — the message they learned in Bible studies and from church elders.
And the message of peace and love they also heard in the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King.
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It’s been nearly 50 years since civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered in Memphis at age 39.
Had he lived, King would have turned 87 this week in an America that’s dramatically different, in some ways, from the one he knew during the 1960s. The country has an African-American president, for example, and the Confederate flag has finally begun to fade into the mist of history.
Still, there also are distressing echoes of King’s time. Many see voting rights for minorities imperiled again and hear an update of George Wallace’s harsh “us vs. them” rhetoric at Donald Trump rallies. And the murders at a black church in Charleston last summer recall the deaths of four little girls in the 1963 Birmingham church bombing.
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[Michael] Gilbreath (a CT editor at large) hearkens back to the 1963 Birmingham civil rights campaign, to the world of Martin Luther King Jr., Fred Shuttlesworth, and other heroic Christian leaders. Today, we idolize these figures for leading a beleaguered people to the Promised Land. But as Birmingham Revolution makes clear, the civil rights movement was no slam dunk. Uncertainty, scarce resources, and outside hostility could have ground its progress to a halt.
The Birmingham campaign was pivotal. On the heels of defeat in Albany, Georgia, victory in Birmingham restored the movement's momentum. Failure could have crippled it, by drying up funding, discrediting the nonviolent method, and validating fears that the leaders were—take your pick—extremists, rabble-rousers, too Christian, not Christian enough, too Southern, or insufficiently urban.
How—amid the noise and ambiguity, the internal struggles and self-doubts, the bone-deep weariness and constant fear of death—did the Birmingham leaders maintain their focus? And how might their example instruct the church today? Gilbreath gives four answers.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Christology Ethics / Moral Theology
Have not many of us, in the weary way of life, felt, in some hours, how far easier it were to die than to live?
The martyr, when faced even by a death of bodily anguish and horror, finds in the very terror of his doom a strong stimulant and tonic. There is a vivid excitement, a thrill and fervor, which may carry through any crisis of suffering that is the birth-hour of eternal glory and rest.
But to live,—to wear on, day after day, of mean, bitter, low, harassing servitude, every nerve dampened and depressed, every power of feeling gradually smothered,—this long and wasting heart-martyrdom, this slow, daily bleeding away of the inward life, drop by drop, hour after hour,—this is the true searching test of what there may be in man or woman.
When Tom stood face to face with his persecutor, and heard his threats, and thought in his very soul that his hour was come, his heart swelled bravely in him, and he thought he could bear torture and fire, bear anything, with the vision of Jesus and heaven but just a step beyond; but, when he was gone, and the present excitement passed off, came back the pain of his bruised and weary limbs,—came back the sense of his utterly degraded, hopeless, forlorn estate; and the day passed wearily enough.
Long before his wounds were healed, Legree insisted that he should be put to the regular field-work; and then came day after day of pain and weariness, aggravated by every kind of injustice and indignity that the ill-will of a mean and malicious mind could devise. Whoever, in our circumstances, has made trial of pain, even with all the alleviations which, for us, usually attend it, must know the irritation that comes with it. Tom no longer wondered at the habitual surliness of his associates; nay, he found the placid, sunny temper, which had been the habitude of his life, broken in on, and sorely strained, by the inroads of the same thing. He had flattered himself on leisure to read his Bible; but there was no such thing as leisure there. In the height of the season, Legree did not hesitate to press all his hands through, Sundays and week-days alike. Why shouldn't he?—he made more cotton by it, and gained his wager; and if it wore out a few more hands, he could buy better ones. At first, Tom used to read a verse or two of his Bible, by the flicker of the fire, after he had returned from his daily toil; but, after the cruel treatment he received, he used to come home so exhausted, that his head swam and his eyes failed when he tried to read; and he was fain to stretch himself down, with the others, in utter exhaustion.
Is it strange that the religious peace and trust, which had upborne him hitherto, should give way to tossings of soul and despondent darkness? The gloomiest problem of this mysterious life was constantly before his eyes,—souls crushed and ruined, evil triumphant, and God silent. It was weeks and months that Tom wrestled, in his own soul, in darkness and sorrow. He thought of Miss Ophelia's letter to his Kentucky friends, and would pray earnestly that God would send him deliverance. And then he would watch, day after day, in the vague hope of seeing somebody sent to redeem him; and, when nobody came, he would crush back to his soul bitter thoughts,—that it was vain to serve God, that God had forgotten him. He sometimes saw Cassy; and sometimes, when summoned to the house, caught a glimpse of the dejected form of Emmeline, but held very little communion with either; in fact, there was no time for him to commune with anybody.
--Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin
As [Ralph] Abernathy tells it–and I believe he is right–he and King were first of all Christians, then Southerners, and then blacks living under an oppressive segregationist regime. King of course came from the black bourgeoisie of Atlanta in which his father, “Daddy King,” had succeeded in establishing himself as a king. Abernathy came from much more modest circumstances, but he was proud of his heritage and, as he writes, wanted nothing more than that whites would address his father as Mr. Abernathy. He and Martin loved the South, and envisioned its coming into its own once the sin of segregation had been expunged.
“Years later,” Abernathy writes that, “after the civil rights movement had peaked and I had taken over [after Martin’s death] as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference,” he met with Governor George Wallace. “Governor Wallace, by then restricted to a wheel chair after having been paralyzed by a would-be assassin’s bullet, shook hands with me and welcomed me to the State of Alabama. I smiled, realizing that he had forgotten all about Montgomery and Birmingham, and particularly Selma. ‘This is not my first visit,’ I said. ‘I was born in Alabama–in Marengo County.’ ‘Good,’ said Governor Wallace, ‘then welcome back.’ I really believe he meant it. In his later years he had become one of the greatest friends the blacks had ever had in Montgomery. Where once he had stood in the doorway and barred federal marshals from entering, he now made certain that our people were first in line for jobs, new schools, and other benefits of state government.” Abernathy concludes, “It was a time for reconciliations.”
Read it all (my emphasis).
We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness"--then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.
There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all."
Read it all.
As the nation observes the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, correspondent Kim Lawton catches up with the Grammy-nominated a capella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock, which has been singing about racial inequality, social justice, and inspiring spiritual themes for more than 40 years. The women discuss the group’s music video tribute to King, “Give Love,” and the principles taught by King that are still important in race relations today. They also talk about the group’s new CD, “#LoveinEvolution,” which will be released on January 22nd.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship * Culture-Watch History Music Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology
You can find the full text here.
I find it always is really worth the time to read and ponder it all on this day--KSH.
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In her 67 years as a registered nurse, she’s cared for veterans of the Spanish-American War, vaccinated thousands of children with the then new Salk polio vaccine, and was among the first to report the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease. For the past quarter century, until her retirement this month, she has been caring for HIV and AIDS victims at the Veterans Administration hospital in Philadelphia.
“When you have a passion and you impact people’s lives on a daily basis,” she says, “it gives you a purpose.”
As a nursing student, one of her very first patients was a 12-year-old boy, Tommy Rios, who was riding double on the handlebars of a bicycle when he fell and was hit by a car, fracturing his skull and breaking his femur and pelvis. He was in a full body cast, in the hospital, for six months. Molly not only cared for him, but also brought him hoagies — the Philly word for submarine sandwiches — because he wasn’t eating the hospital food.
Molly’s niece Anne Harriott asked her the other day what ever became of the boy.
“I had lunch with him last week,” Molly replied.
Read it all.
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The practical consequences of the primates’ action will be that, for three years, Episcopalians will not be invited to serve on certain committees, or will be excluded from voting while they are there. However, the primates do not have authority over the Anglican Consultative Council, the worldwide body of bishops, clergy and lay people that facilitates the cooperative work of the churches of the Anglican Communion. I serve as a representative to that body, along with Bishop Ian Douglas of Connecticut, a four-time deputy before his election as bishop, and six-time Deputy Rosalie Simmonds Ballentine of the Virgin Islands, and I am planning to travel to Zambia for our scheduled meeting in April and to participate fully.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Primates Primates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016 Episcopal Church (TEC) * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Alabama saw the right look since the first quarter for a pooch kick opportunity. Alabama practiced the kick once a week all year. Alabama felt the game slipping away. And Alabama executed the play perfectly.
The Process worked. In the process, Saban brought his own guts and smiled at the result.
“I thought we had it in the game any time we wanted to do it,” Saban said. “I made the decision to do it because the score was (24-24) and we were tired on defense and weren't doing a great job of getting them stopped, and I felt like if we didn't do something or take a chance to change the momentum of the game that we wouldn't have a chance to win.”
Read it all.
Interesting fodder for the season here.
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Looking back at 60 years removed, we can say several things about the poem [from Matthew Arnold]. Yes, mainstream churches have indeed suffered a collapse in loyalties in Europe, and especially in Britain itself. Bodies like the Church of England are struggling to find solutions for thousands of unneeded buildings. Having said that, there are any number of new and rising churches across the continent — many immigrant, others native. Not, of course, that Larkin was trying to write any kind of social science, but that does provide a needed perspective.
I think, though, that the point in the last stanza demands our attention. Even when people abandon churches and religious institutions, those basic needs and hungers remain, and surprisingly often, they try to satisfy them in explicitly religious ways. That is why it is not ridiculous still to count as Christian the millions of Europeans who label themselves in that way, but whose actual participation in religious activities is close to nil. They still seek and need the “serious,” and where else to find it but in places linked to the dead, and to bygone traditions?
When assessing the appeal of religion, in any era, never ever forget that need for connection to the “serious” past.
Read it all.
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GREENVILLE, S.C.--A sign in a classroom here at Berea High School, northwest of downtown in the largest urban district in the state, sends this powerful message: “Failure Is Not an Option. You Will Pass. You Will Learn. You Will Succeed.”
By one measure, Berea, with more than 1,000 pupils, is helping more students succeed than ever: The graduation rate, below 65 percent just four years ago, has jumped to more than 80 percent.
But that does not necessarily mean that all of Berea’s graduates, many of whom come from poor families, are ready for college — or even for the working world. According to college entrance exams administered to every 11th grader in the state last spring, only one in 10 Berea students were ready for college-level work in reading, and about one in 14 were ready for entry-level college math. And on a separate test of skills needed to succeed in most jobs, little more than half of the students demonstrated that they could handle the math they would need.
It is a pattern repeated in other school districts across the state and country....
Read it all.
The same thing happens to Father Kendall Harmon every year during the 12 days after the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
It happens with newcomers at his home parish, Christ-St. Paul's in Yonges Island, South Carolina, near Charleston. It often happens when, as Canon Theologian, he visits other parishes in the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.
"I greet people and say 'Merry Christmas!' all the way through the 12 days" of the season, he said, laughing. "They look at me like I'm a Martian or I'm someone who is lost. ... So many people just don't know there's more Christmas after Christmas Day."
Read it all.
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On the day before Christmas Eve, Reverend Jonathan Erdman had a heavy heart. In a somber letter to his parish, he announced his decision to resign as rector, effective January 10, 2016. Invoking Martin Luther, he explained the issue of conscience which made this decision inevitable. “After prayer and study of scripture, I am not able to approve same-sex marriage as rector of Calvary.” Jonathan would not perform a gay blessing, nor as shepherd of the flock at Calvary, could he allow one to be performed in his parish. In an act of pastoral concern for the few LGBT members of his parish this may affect, he arranged for same-sex members of Calvary to be married by other clergy at the Episcopal cathedral nearby. Predictably that was not enough.
As soon as General Convention allowed for same-sex blessings in the Episcopal Church, certain members of Calvary Church were eager to begin. I’m sure the self-righteous indignation was palpable as Fr. Jonathan informed this vestry--a different vestry from the one in place when he arrived to which his views on same-sex marriage were specifically addressed--that same-sex blessings would not take place at Calvary Church. Fr. Jonathan apparently did not give priority in his ministry to arguing from the pulpit for or against the secular social agenda strangling the ECUSA. An orthodox high churchman, graduate of Yale Divinity School, and former curate at St. Thomas 5th Avenue under the now-retired Reverend Andrew Mead, Fr. Jonathan Erdman loved and ministered to parishioners from all walks of life and of all sexual orientations. There are some that too quickly confuse the difference between withholding judgment of an individual’s sins and celebrating them (or allowing them to be celebrated under your authority) as a sacrament of the Church.
Read it all.
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With the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, a jump in concerns about religious freedom and an overall secularization of Americans’ views, 2015 was a year of increasing anxiety among people of faith. Barna conducts tens of thousands of interviews every year, and we've compiled our top 10 findings and trends from a vast array of research conducted in the past 12 months....
Read it all.
Even as the Obama administration scrambles to confront the Islamic State and resurgent Taliban, an old enemy seems to be reappearing in Afghanistan: Qaeda training camps are sprouting up there, forcing the Pentagon and American intelligence agencies to assess whether they could again become a breeding ground for attacks on the United States.
Most of the handful of camps are not as big as those that Osama bin Laden built before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But had they re-emerged several years ago, they would have rocketed to the top of potential threats presented to President Obama in his daily intelligence briefing. Now, they are just one of many — and perhaps, American officials say, not even the most urgent on the Pentagon’s list in Afghanistan.
The scope of Al Qaeda’s deadly resilience in Afghanistan appears to have caught American and Afghan officials by surprise. Until this fall, American officials had largely focused on targeting the last remaining senior Qaeda leaders hiding along Afghanistan’s rugged, mountainous border with Pakistan.
Read it all.
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On the eve of Christmas 2015, a review of over 174,000 interviews conducted in 2015 shows that three-quarters of American adults identify with a Christian religion, little changed from 2014, but down from 80% eight years ago. About 5% of Americans identify with a non-Christian religion, while 20% have no formal religious identification, which is up five percentage points since 2008.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Christmas * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture Sociology * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
Forget public Nativity scenes, as court fiat commanded us to do years ago. On Fifth Avenue this year you can’t even find dear old Santa Claus. Or his elves. Christmas past has become Christmas gone.
The scenes inside Saks Fifth Avenue’s many windows aren’t easy to describe. Saks calls it “The Winter Palace.” I would call it Prelude to an Orgy done in vampire white and amphetamine blue.
A luxuriating woman lies on a table, her legs in the air. Saks’ executives, who bear responsibility for this travesty, did have the good taste to confine to a side street the display of a passed-out man on his back (at least he’s wearing a tux), spilling his martini, beneath a moose head dripping with pearls. Adeste Gomorrah.
But you haven’t seen the anti-Christmas yet. It’s up at 59th Street in the “holiday” windows of Bergdorf Goodman. In place of anything Christmas, Bergdorf offers “The Frosty Taj Mahal,” a palm-reading fortune teller—and King Neptune, the pagan Roman god, seated with his concubine. (One Saks window features the Roman Colosseum, the historic site of Christian annihilation.)
Read it all from daniel henninger of the WSJ.
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So what happened? What did Linus van Pelt say?
I am referring, of course, to the controversy that unfolded this past week in Johnson County, Ken., where school officials – after receiving complaints from some in their community – removed the speech by Linus at the pivotal moment in an elementary school production of "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Click here for the previous GetReligion post focusing on the Lexington Herald-Leader coverage of this Christmas wars showdown.
Here was my main point in my previous post: If Linus could not recite the key lines from the Gospel of St. Luke – in response to Charlie Brown's anguished cry of "Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?" – then what was Linus going to say? It appeared, in previous coverage, that no one asked that question.
Read it all and follow the links.
You may have heard about the Kentucky school district that ordered its administrators to scrub any religious references from its various Christmas productions. Most infamously, an elementary school in the Johnson County School District removed the lines from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” where Linus recites the Gospel of Luke’s account of the Nativity of Jesus Christ. This censorship was colossally silly—both because Linus’ speech is the dramatic center of the play, and because of the self-evident absurdity of staging a play with “Christmas” in its title and then deleting the key lines that explain what Christmas celebrates.
According to reports, the district’s attorneys had received a complaint about the planned production and, apparently fearing a lawsuit, they advised administrators to remove all “religious” (i.e., Christian) references from the Christmas-related productions being planned in their schools. According to the district’s website, “The U.S. Supreme Court and the 6th Circuit are very clear that public school staff may not endorse any religion when acting in their official capacities and during school activities.”
Hello! Staging a play about Christmas doesn’t “endorse” the Christian religion, any more than staging “Big River” (the musical version of the Huckleberry Finn story) constitutes an endorsement of slavery or a production of “Sweeney Todd” endorses cannibalism.
Read it all.
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Chai Feldblum isn’t a minor figure. She is the head of the on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, having been appointed by President Obama, and will be in that post until her term expires in 2018. Long before she was elevated to the EEOC chairmanship, Feldblum was known for her view that there are almost no situations in which disputes between religious liberty and gay rights should be resolved in favor of religious liberty.
It fell to Andrew Sullivan (whose voice I miss more and more every week) to defend freedom to the crowd. You really should read the whole Reason report to hear what he had to say. It includes a link to Andrew’s presentation, in which he says that the LGBT-industrial complex needs to keep the bogeyman of Oppression alive (“These people’s lives and careers and incomes depend on the maintenance of discrimination and oppression”), and says that religious liberty is just about the most important American freedom.
The hard truth is that Andrew Sullivan, alas for us all, is irrelevant to the debate now. When I saw him this spring in Boston, he told me that he can’t go on some campuses now because the gay left hates him for speaking out for religious liberty, and in particular for Brendan Eich. Think about that: fewer than four years ago, the president of the United States was formally committed to maintaining traditional marriage in law. Now, we have Court-mandated gay marriage from coast to coast, and Andrew Sullivan, who has done as much or more than any single person to make that happen, is now regarded by the gay rights movement as some sort of reactionary because of his liberal views.
Read it all (emphasis mine).
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
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(Warning--Hard content to confront--KSH).
I’m not writing this article for my father. I’m writing it for the people in the parking lot.
Yes, if you say something, you may ruin the relationship you have with that person. You may get embarrassed in front of the other hockey parents. You may have to go through the awkwardness of filing a police report.
I can understand why a lot of people worry, “But what if I’m wrong?”
If you are wrong, that’s the absolute best case scenario. The alternative is that child is a prisoner in his own home. What you’re seeing in the parking lot or outside the locker room — whether it’s a kid getting grabbed and screamed at, or shoved up against a car — could just be the tip of the iceberg.
Read it all (Hat tip:DR).
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Why is this amazing news for everyone? Because so much of what makes headlines, from debates over Syrian refugees to battles over the content of public school plays (looking at you, Charlie Brown!), has a religion angle. And more often than not, the best coverage of such stories comes from full-time religion beat specialists.
Tennessee readers, feel free to insert celebratory whooping and hollering here (and don't forget to hit the play arrow on the Kool and the Gang video above).
The prodigal Godbeat has come home to Music City!
Read it all (from Get Religion).
According to a 2013 survey by the US Department of Education and National Institute of Literacy, 14 per cent of the adult population (or 32 million people) cannot read properly, while 21 per cent read below a level required in the fifth grade. And 19 per cent of high-school graduates cannot read. In the north-east, illiteracy is lower; in some southern states, such as Mississippi, it is higher. North Carolina is in the middle. This rate has been remarkably stable in recent decades, and it puts the US in 12th place among major industrialised countries (the UK fares only slightly better).
But what is truly startling — and tragic — is the degree to which “the link between academic failure and delinquency, violence and crime is welded to reading failure”, as a report from the Department of Justice states. Apparently 85 per cent of juvenile delinquents and 70 per cent of the prison population struggles to read. Indeed, the link is so well established that pro-literacy groups claim that some states can predict their need for future prison beds by looking at the literacy rates in schools. And, unsurprisingly, half of adults with poor literacy live in poverty, shut out of most 21st-century jobs. As Juli Willeman, head of the Pi Beta Phi group, which runs literacy campaigns, observes: “Reading proficiency predicts future success.” Or the lack of it.
Read it all.
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,,,in the United States of 2015 — weeks before the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif. — someone had insulted and implicitly threatened...[Heba Macksoud] in her favorite ShopRite. It felt to her as if all the toxic language of the Republican presidential campaign, with its various forms of Islamophobia, had infiltrated even a store she cherished for its commitment to diversity.
With Ms. Yu at her side, she went to the Customer Service counter to report what had happened. The agent there called for the store’s assistant manager, Mark Egan. “I’m not done shopping,” Ms. Macksoud recently recalled telling him, “but I don’t feel safe here.”
Mr. Egan was about as much of a Jersey guy as a Jersey guy can get. He grew up in Freehold, Bruce Springsteen’s hometown, and married in the young Springsteen’s parish church, Saint Rose of Lima. Mr. Egan, his hair starting to thin at 43, has worked at ShopRite for 13 years.
He told Ms. Macksoud he would protect her.
Read it all.
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Here are some key findings from the report:
1A declining share of children live in two-parent households. Today, 69% of children younger than 18 are living with two parents, down from 87% in 1960. A record-low 62% of children live with two married parents, while 7% live with two cohabiting parents. Meanwhile, the share of children living in single-parent households has increased threefold, from 9% in 1960 to 26% in 2014.Read it all.
The rising prevalence of divorce, remarriage and cohabitation has caused other changes in family living arrangements, even among those living in two-parent households. In 2014, fewer than half of children (46%) lived in a household with two married parents in their first marriage, down from 73% in 1960.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children History Marriage & Family Psychology Sociology * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The parallel is inexact, but peoples and cultures also have to deal with the power of hard memories. Painful traumas and experiences can be passed down generation to generation, whether it is exile, defeat or oppression. These memories affect both the victims’ and the victimizers’ cultures.
Many of the issues we have been dealing with in 2015 revolve around unhealed cultural memories: how to acknowledge past wrongs and move forward into the light.
The most obvious case involves American race relations. So much of the national conversation this year has concerned how to think about past racism and oppression, and the power of that past to shape present realities: the Confederate flag, Woodrow Wilson, the unmarked sights of the lynching grounds. Fortunately, many people have found the courage to tell the ugly truths about slavery, Jim Crow and current racism that were repressed by the wider culture.
Read it all.
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Across the world, higher education is linked to higher levels of employment and life evaluation, making it the proverbial ticket to a great job and a great life. But the most recent evidence suggests that the link between higher education and graduates' readiness for today's rapidly changing workplace may be broken, says Brandon Busteed, Gallup's executive director of education and workforce development.
Read it all and you can watch the address also.
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As part of his push for the Affordable Care Act in 2009, President Obama came to Central High School to laud this community as a model of better, cheaper health care. “You’re getting better results while wasting less money,” he told the crowd. His visit had come amid similar praise from television broadcasts, a documentary film and a much-read New Yorker article.
All of the attention stemmed from academic work showing that Grand Junction spent far less money on Medicare treatments – with no apparent detriment to people’s health. The lesson seemed obvious: If the rest of the country became more like Grand Junction, this nation’s notoriously high medical costs would fall.
But a new study casts doubt on that simple message.
“Price has been ignored in public policy,” said Dr. Robert Berenson, a fellow at the Urban Institute, who was unconnected with the research. Dr. Berenson is a former vice chairman of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commision, which recommends policies to Congress. “That has been counterproductive.”
Read it all (my emphasis).
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The American public has shown itself to be quite critical in its views of politicians and the federal government, expressing low levels of trust in both. Yet a recent Pew Research Center survey of attitudes about government also finds that Americans pull no punches when assessing the strengths and weaknesses of their fellow citizens.
The public gives the “typical American” a mixed assessment when asked about specific traits. Most (79%) agree that the term “patriotic” describes the typical American very or fairly well, and majorities also view the typical American as “honest” (69%) and “intelligent” (67%).
However, just over two-thirds (68%) say the term “selfish” also applies to the typical American very or fairly well, and half of the public says that the typical American can be aptly described as “lazy.”
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My answer, as you will have guessed is that no, it is not — at least any religion that refuses to assimilate and thereby sign its own death warrant.
The Establishment — the state, the media, the academy, the law, corporations — will grow less and less tolerant as America becomes more secular, as is likely to happen given the stark falling-away from religion of the millennials. And then what will we Christians do? British Christians are facing this calamity because 70 percent of Britons say they have no religious belief, and therefore likely don’t see a problem with the government’s proposal, or even support it.
Now is the time to start thinking and talking about this, an acting on it. If you think voting Republican is going to solve this long-term problem, you are deluded. Politics has a role to play, but in the end, politics reflect the will of the people, and if a majority of the people lose their faith, and with it goes an appreciation for religious liberty, politics will avail us nothing.
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A chaplain’s job is to serve the spiritual needs of everyone in his or her care. A Buddhist chaplain in Oregon has to provide amplifiers for evangelical praise music, drums for Native American circles, and a priest and wafers for mass. When a chaplain for Tyson Foods insists that the job isn’t just to patch people up so they can go out and make more money for Tyson, one has to wonder: Would Tyson pay for a chaplain if the chaplain’s presence weren’t profitable in some way? Would the army, the hospital, or the prison pay for chaplains if they didn’t serve their respective causes? Shouldn’t the local church minister to its members and communities rather than outsource personnel to secular institutions?
One military chaplain in the film tells of soldiers in Iraq coming to him to ask if their souls are endangered. We can only imagine what sorts of things they’ve done in our name. He reassures them that their souls are not in danger: if they’ve followed lawful orders, the culpability for giving those orders is on the head of those who issued them. But can we be so sure? Should the church dispense such assurance so glibly? Could a chaplain who responded “I don’t know” to that question keep her job? And isn’t “I don’t know,” at least in some cases, a more truthful response?
I’m more sympathetic to prison chaplaincy. In a nation that warehouses 2.2 million people, some of the only outsiders who care about the incarcerated come from religious communities. The film follows the work of Calvary Chapel of Southeast Portland, which treats the Oregon prison almost like a campus of its church. Its members offer instant relationship, social capital, and material help when prisoners are released.
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The handsome Washington townhouse where Wayne Hickory practices orthodontics is a landmark of terrorism in America.
In 1919, an anarchist exploded a bomb at what was then the home of the attorney general. The failed assassination set off a wave of violent raids on radicals, Communists and leftists, and the deportation without due process of hundreds of innocent European immigrants — a high point of hysteria in an era known as the first Red Scare.
“Maybe there is something to learn from history,” Dr. Hickory said in a sitting room that now contains advertising for invisible braces. But asked about Donald J. Trump’s call to bar Muslims from entering the United States, Dr. Hickory said that, as implausible as it was, the proposal had prompted a necessary discussion about whether travelers from countries fraught with Islamic extremism should receive increased scrutiny. “Perhaps,” he said, “the line needs to be drawn a little bit more severely.”
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As terrorist attacks fueled by extreme Islamist ideology convulsed cities in the U.S. and Europe over the last 15 years, Los Angeles and its sprawling suburbs were spared.
It couldn't last forever.
The assault on a San Bernardino social services center last week by a U.S.-born Muslim man and his Pakistani wife was an event of national significance, potentially reshaping next year's presidential contest and raising Americans' fears of terrorism to levels not seen since the World Trade Center attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
But the killing of 14 people by Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik has had a particular effect in Southern California, a densely populated region whose residents have at times felt themselves remote from the transatlantic waves of terror that have washed over New York, London, Paris, Madrid and Washington, D.C.
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Several states amended their constitutions to preserve the non-denominationally Protestant nature of the public schools, while barring any public funding of so-called “sectarian,” or Catholic, schools. Though Rep. Blaine’s attempt to pass an amendment to the U.S. Constitution ultimately failed, many states succeeded.
So it is that engines of animus toward Catholics have been transmuted into engines of animus against all religion. Those today who rely on these sordid provisions disclaim any anti-Catholic animus or hostility toward religion. They insist they are merely trying to maintain a “strict separation” between church and state.
That makes no sense. The Douglas County scholarship program does not provide aid to religious schools or any schools. It provides aid to Douglas County students. Not a penny of that money can flow to any school—religious or not—without the private choice of parents. That independent choice breaks any link between church and state.
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As American intelligence agencies grapple with the expansion of the Islamic State beyond its headquarters in Syria, the Pentagon has proposed a new plan to the White House to build up a string of military bases in Africa, Southwest Asia and the Middle East.
The bases could be used for collecting intelligence and carrying out strikes against the terrorist group’s far-flung affiliates.
The growth of the Islamic State’s franchises — at least eight militant groups have pledged loyalty to the network’s leaders so far — has forced a debate within the Obama administration about how to distinguish between the affiliates that pose the most immediate threat to the United States and Europe and others that are more regionally focused. The regional groups, some officials say, may have opportunistically adopted the Islamic State’s brand to bolster their local clout and global stature.
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New Hampshire Episcopalians just reported a banner year. After a decade of consistent losses under now-retired Bishop Gene Robinson, the small diocese reported a nearly 23 percent jump in attendance.
What is the secret to New Hampshire’s sudden reversal of fortune? The diocese, which Bishop Robert Hirschfeld assumed leadership of in 2013, changed whom it is counting in a practice that has been advocated by some in the dwindling denomination.
A sudden influx of worshipers would seem counter-intuitive: ever since Robinson was consecrated the denomination’s first openly-partnered homosexual bishop in 2003, diocesan membership declined nearly 16 percent, marriages down 37 percent, receptions down 51 percent, children’s baptisms down 57 percent, and adult baptisms down 75 percent. In short, it’s been a tough decade, not only in New Hampshire, but in all New England Episcopal dioceses....
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After more than four decades of serving as the nation’s economic majority, the American middle class is now matched in number by those in the economic tiers above and below it. In early 2015, 120.8 million adults were in middle-income households, compared with 121.3 million in lower- and upper-income households combined, a demographic shift that could signal a tipping point, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data.
In at least one sense, the shift represents economic progress: While the share of U.S. adults living in both upper- and lower-income households rose alongside the declining share in the middle from 1971 to 2015, the share in the upper-income tier grew more.
Over the same period, however, the nation’s aggregate household income has substantially shifted from middle-income to upper-income households, driven by the growing size of the upper-income tier and more rapid gains in income at the top. Fully 49% of U.S. aggregate income went to upper-income households in 2014, up from 29% in 1970. The share accruing to middle-income households was 43% in 2014, down substantially from 62% in 1970.
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The chronically homeless, on the other hand, are a subset of the homeless population that is often the most vulnerable. These are people who have been living on the streets for more than a year, or four times in the last three years, and who have a "disabling condition" — that includes serious mental illness, an addiction or a physical disability or illness.
According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, that represents about 20 percent of the national homeless population.
By implementing a model known as Housing First, Utah has reduced that number from nearly 2,000 people in 2005, to fewer than 200 now.
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After the recent terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, Americans' satisfaction with the way things are going in the U.S. dropped seven percentage points to 20%. This is the lowest level of satisfaction recorded since November 2014, but still above the all-time low of 7% in October 2008.
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It's the season of kindness, so one Florida restaurant is doing its part to help others get into the spirit, by offering food that's priced with a "suggested donation." For TODAY NBC's Kerry Sanders reports.
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Faced with one of the greatest refugee crises in modern history, in which some 11 million Syrians have been displaced, 4 million have fled their country, and 700,000—mostly women and children—have risked their lives to reach Europe, some Americans shrink from even the modest humanitarian response outlined by President Obama of resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next year.
Fear is an understandable reaction to danger, but it’s an unreliable guide to policy and, often, to our own well-being. As cooler heads have noted, the refugee application process already includes background checks, in-depth interviews, and vetting by the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, and the departments of state, defense, and homeland security. Refugees from Syria are already given additional scrutiny. The investigation takes from 18 to 24 months.
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Zohra Arastu migrated to the United States from India with her husband, a young surgeon, in 1976.
In addition to being an artist and a mother, she teaches American children how to read translations of the Quran properly. But recently, she has grown more concerned that U.S. presidential candidates are playing the race card against Muslims, preying on “Islamophobia” to gain votes.
“How do we make them stop?” she asked during a forum to promote cross-religious understanding at the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia on Monday night. “They are undoing all that we are trying to do here.”
Read it all from The State newspaper in Columbia.
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The U.S. government should fight, and fight hard, against radical Islamic jihadism. The government should close the borders to anyone suspected of even a passing involvement with any radical cell or terrorist network. But the government should not penalize law-abiding people, especially those who are U.S. citizens, for holding their religious convictions.
Muslims are an unpopular group these days. And I would argue that nonviolent Muslim leaders have a responsibility to call out terror and violence and jihad. At the same time, those of us who are Christians ought to stand up for religious liberty not just when our rights are violated but on behalf of others, too.
Make no mistake. A government that can shut down mosques simply because they are mosques can shut down Bible studies because they are Bible studies. A government that can close the borders to all Muslims simply on the basis of their religious belief can do the same thing for evangelical Christians.
Read it all from the Washington Post.
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The young southern California parents who killed 14 people in a workplace rampage last week had both been "radicalized" into following an extreme form of Islam, an FBI official said Monday.
"As the investigation has progressed, we have learned and believe that both subjects were radicalized and had been for quite some time," David Bowdich, the FBI's assistant director in charge of the Los Angeles office, told reporters.
He added, "The question we're trying to get at is how did that happen, and by whom, and where did that happen. And I will tell you right now we don't know those answers at this point."
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It is worth the time to look at them all.
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Syed Rizwan Farook was looking for a woman. A few years ago, not long out of college, he went online to find a match. He was slim, dark-eyed, 6 feet tall and living with a parent in Riverside, his dating profiles explained.
He was Chicago-born, with Pakistani roots. He didn't drink or smoke. He avoided TV and movies, preferring instead to tinker with old cars, work out and memorize the Quran. He had a $49,000-a-year government job as a health inspector and wanted a young wife who shared his Sunni Muslim faith.
"Someone who takes her religion very seriously and is always trying to improve her religion and encouraging others to do the same using hikmah (wisdom) and not harshness," he wrote on BestMuslim.com, one of several dating and matrimonial sites he used.
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Last week was Thanksgiving.
This week is fright-giving.
So with apologies to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s epic 1933 pep talk:
We have much to fear, including fear itself.
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The congregation laughed as Swasey led them on a witty tour of his own mind, where serious thoughts about sin and forgiveness – “Focus on the Gospel, focus on the Gospel, focus on the Gospel” – crash into, “How the heck did Denver lose to Indy?” or visions from Three Stooges movies or nagging concerns about a superstar quarterback in New England improperly deflating footballs.
It’s hard to focus on the eternal, he stressed, again and again. But it’s crucial to try, because the clock is running and no one knows how much time they have left.
Two weeks later, the congregation gathered in mourning after Swasey – on duty at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs – was killed after he voluntarily responded to calls for help at the nearby Planned Parenthood facility.
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Police and intelligence agencies have an enormously difficult job because radicalization pathways to violence are not always straightforward. Sometimes an individual on the periphery of an investigation, who is assessed as low risk, rapidly becomes a threat. Similarly, an individual considered very dangerous may never act or may disengage from extremism. As the 2009 investigation of al Qaeda operative and New Yorker Najibullah Zazi demonstrated, the manpower needed for physical surveillance of even a single individual requires dozens of agents and hundreds of man-hours, and that doesn’t include the analytic team required to evaluate electronic communications such as email, chat, tweets and phone data.
In the past, Western intelligence organizations intercepted communications that allowed security agencies to move against al Qaeda or ISIS operatives, often before they could strike. Now end-to-end encrypted communications apps like “Telegram” have become standard operating procedure among terrorists. So intercepting and deciphering communications is far more difficult, even for organizations as sophisticated as the National Security Agency or the FBI.
There is no doubt that al Qaeda and its remnants as well as Islamic State have the intention and capability to strike the United States using Western operatives. What happened in Paris can happen here. A false sense of security will be deadly. The U.S. must mobilize at home and lead abroad to defeat this increasing threat.
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Law enforcement officials said the F.B.I. had uncovered evidence that Mr. Farook was in contact over several years with extremists domestically and abroad, including at least one person in the United States who was investigated for suspected terrorism by federal authorities in recent years. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
The officials called the case perplexing, saying that no clear evidence of terrorism had emerged, though the attack was clearly premeditated. The victims were Mr. Farook’s co-workers at the county health department, and the shooting may have involved grievances against them, but it did not fit the mold for workplace violence, either.
The idea that this was a workplace argument that spiraled out of control seems far-fetched, the officials said, given the explosives and the preparation. “You don’t take your wife to a workplace shooting, and especially not as prepared as they were,” said a senior law enforcement official briefed on the investigation. “He could have been radicalized, ready to go with some type of attack, and then had a dispute at work and decided to do something.”
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3.a. To suggest that we should act (though usually without specifying how those of us not physically present could act in the immediate wake of tragedy or terror), instead of pray, therefore, is to ask us to deny our capacity for empathy.
3.b. At the same time, the Bible makes it clear that God despises acts of outward piety or sentimentality that are not matched with action on behalf of justice. The harshest words of Jesus recorded in the Gospels are directed at public leaders who pray extravagantly and publicly but neglect “the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy, and faithfulness” (Matt. 23:23).
3.c. Therefore we must never settle for a false dichotomy between prayer and action, as if it were impossible to pray while acting or act while praying. Nonetheless it is vital, whenever possible, to pray before acting lest our activity be in vain.
3.d. To insist that people should act instead of pray, or that we should act without praying, is idolatry, substituting the creature for the Creator.
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There are many assumptions packed into these attacks on prayer: that all religious people, and specifically Christians, are gun supporters, and vice versa. That people who care about gun control can’t be religious, and if they are, they should keep quiet in the aftermath of yet another heart-wrenching act of violence. At one time in American history, liberals and conservatives shared a language of God, but that’s clearly no longer the case; any invocation of faith is taken as implicit advocacy of right-wing political beliefs.
The most powerful evidence against this backlash toward prayer comes not from the Twitterverse, but from San Bernardino. “Pray for us,” a woman texted her father from inside the Inland Regional Center, while she and her colleagues hid from the gunfire. Outside the building, evacuated workers bowed their heads and held hands. They prayed.
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Change is coming to American megachurches — those behemoths for believers that now dot the religious landscape.
There are more participants in megachurch worship than ever.
“Last weekend 1 in 10 adults and children who went to a Protestant church went to a megachurch — about 5 million people,” said Warren Bird, director of research for Leadership Network and co-author of a megachurch study released Wednesday (Dec. 2).
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Wednesday's mass shooting at a Southern California center for the developmentally disabled came on the heels of other US massacres but differed from most in key ways, including the involvement of multiple people, including a woman, and an apparently well-planned escape route.
In the San Bernardino area near the site of the attack that killed 14, the police said a man and a woman dressed in tactical gear died in a gunfight with the police, as the FBI said the agency was considering the possibility that the shooting could be a terrorist attack.
"These are people that came prepared," San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said in a news conference. "They were dressed and equipped in a way that indicates they were prepared. They were armed with long guns, not handguns."
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From the “Welcome to Bristol” sign at the town line, and along Hope Street’s red-white-and-blue stripe to the postcard-perfect Federal-style homes at its center, Bristol wears its Colonial past proudly. But one September evening, about forty Bristolians gathered in St. Michael’s Episcopal Church to talk about a past the town is not so eager to tell — the great crime that built Bristol: slavery.
Slavery was the economic lifeblood of the entire state for eighty years. Rhode Island passed its first law forbidding enslavement in 1652, but the law changed and the practice flourished apace with its profitability. From before the American Revolution to the Industrial Revolution, the slave trade powered Rhode Island’s rum distilleries and the textile mills, spinning cotton picked by Southern slaves into cheap “negro cloth” that was sold back to the South. Slavery employed the carpenters, the clerks, the bankers and the blacksmiths. Everyone made money from the slave trade, but few made more than the DeWolf family of Bristol.
Family patriarch Mark Anthony DeWolf started slaving in 1769. And for half a century, various DeWolfs transported 12,000 enslaved Africans. But it was Mark Anthony’s second youngest son, James DeWolf, who built the family business into an empire that included a bank, an insurance company and a distillery in Bristol, a sugar plantation in Cuba and a stake in Coventry’s Arkwright Mills.
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We are just back from a jaunt to New York for thanksgiving and we were blessed to get tickets to the play Hamilton as part of our plans. I can only say that it EXCEEDED our expectations and frankly I didn't think that was possible. EVERY facet of the production was outstanding.
Try to plan ahead and go if you can--you will not be sorry--KSH.
Members of Hope Chapel in Colorado Springs gave thanks on Sunday for the life of Garrett Swasey, a church elder and police officer who was killed on Friday in a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic [see original post below].
The congregation of about 100 people watched a video clip of Swasey, a former competitive ice skater, and recalled fond memories of his role as preacher and guitar player for the church’s worship team.
“You don’t realize how much you love someone until you can’t tell them anymore,” said Hope Chapel co-pastor Scott Dontanville, according to The Gazette.
Church members also prayed for Robert Lewis Dear, who is accused of killing Swasey and two others in Friday’s shooting.
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The zoning meeting, in a community room packed beyond capacity, was intended to focus on traffic, lighting and parking impacts from a proposed building.
But the building in question was a new mosque — and the meeting occurred four days after the terrorist attacks in Paris.
A thickly built man interrupted the discussion about stormwater runoff, saying to the small group of Muslims in the crowd, “Nobody wants your evil cult,” and “Every one of you are terrorists. I don’t care what you say. I don’t care what you think.”
The unidentified man pledged to do everything in his power to block the mosque, jabbing his finger toward one of the mosque’s trustees, a civil engineer leading the presentation, according to a video posted by the Free Lance-Star of Fredericksburg.
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At first the rise of charter schools—to 7,000 today from 1,900 in 2000—was thought to be the nail in the coffin for Catholic education, which had been in decline for decades. Charters offer many of the same strengths as Catholic schools: order, kindness, discipline, high expectations (ideas initially borrowed from parochial institutions). But because charters are publicly funded, families don’t have to pay tuition. How could Catholic schools possibly compete with that?
Within the past few years, however, the borrowing has begun to go in the other direction, as Catholic schools poach staff from charter networks, draw from the same donors, and model their operations on charter successes. America’s usual miracle-workers—competition, civil society, entrepreneurial wealth and philanthropy—have come to the rescue of religious education.
Consider the Partnership for Inner-city Education, a nonprofit formed in 2010 to take responsibility for six Catholic schools serving disadvantaged children in Harlem and the South Bronx. The chairman of the Partnership’s board is Russ Carson, an equity-capital pioneer who also helped build KIPP charter schools in New York. Mr. Carson and fellow donors put millions of dollars into upgrading the campuses of these six Catholic schools.
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What are the myths about homelessness?
One is that people come to L.A. to experience homelessness in the great weather, and that's not the truth. Seventy percent of the people in the [homeless] count have been here 10 years or more. Many came here with a dream. That dream didn't work out and they ended up on the streets. The vast majority of the people on skid row are from L.A.
The other myth is that [the biblical] quote — "The poor, you'll always have with you" — [is] a case for inaction. But in one of the books of the Bible, Jesus says, "The poor you'll always have with you to be kind to every day." He's quoting Deuteronomy. So what's being used as a call to inaction [actually says] we've got to look after our neighbors, our brothers and sisters. I say skid row is the biggest man-made human disaster in the U.S. We made this corral-and-containment system. There's a wiser, better approach.
You've already served some big Thanksgiving meals ahead of the holiday rush. Does it annoy you a bit that so much attention is focused on one single day of the year on skid row?
Every day is a big day; every day we have 2,000 meals and hundreds of volunteers. Our big event is the Saturday before Thanksgiving — 4,500 or 5,000 people who come for Thanksgiving dinner. And caring [volunteers] overwhelm us. It should happen every day. And it does here.
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About sunset, it happened every Friday evening on a lonely stretch along the eastern Florida seacoast. You could see an old man walking, white-haired, bushy eye-browed, slightly bent.--Paul Harvey's the Rest of the Story (Bantam Books, 1997 Mass paperback ed. of the 1977 Doubleday original), pp. 170-172
One gnarled hand would be gripping the handle of a pail, a large bucket filled with shrimp. There on a broken pier, reddened by the setting sun, the weekly ritual would be re-enacted.
At once, the silent twilight sky would become a mass of dancing dots...growing larger. In the distance, screeching calls would become louder.
They were seagulls, come from nowhere on the same pilgrimage… to meet an old man.
For half an hour or so, the gentleman would stand on the pier, surrounded by fluttering white, till his pail of shrimp was empty. But the gulls would linger for a while. Perhaps one would perch comfortably on the old man’s hat…and a certain day gone by would gently come to his mind.
Eventually, all the old man’s days were past. If the gulls still returned to that spot… perhaps on a Friday evening at sunset, it is not for food… but to pay homage to the secret they shared with a gentle stranger.
And that secret is THE REST OF THE STORY.
Anyone who remembers October of 1942 remembers the day it was reported that Captain Eddie Rickenbacker was lost at sea.
Captain Eddie’s mission had been to deliver a message of the utmost importance to General Douglas MacArthur.
But there was an unexpected detour which would hurl Captain Eddie into the most harrowing adventure of his life. . Somewhere over the South Pacific, the flying fortress became lost beyond the reach of radio. Fuel ran dangerously low, and the men ditched their plane in the ocean.
The B-17 stayed afloat just long enough for all aboard to get out. . Then, slowly, the tail of the flying fortress swung up and poised for a split second… and the ship went down leaving eight men and three rafts… and the horizon.
For nearly a month, Captain Eddie and his companions would fight the water, and the weather, and the scorching sun.
They spent many sleepless nights recoiling as giant sharks rammed their rafts. Their largest raft was nine by five… the biggest shark ten feet long.
But of all their enemies at sea, one proved most formidable: starvation. Eight days out, their rations were long gone or destroyed by the salt water. It would take a miracle to sustain them. And a miracle occurred.
In Captain Eddie’s own words, “Cherry,” that was B-17 pilot, Captain William Cherry, “read the service that afternoon, and we finished with a prayer for deliverance and a hymn of praise. There was some talk, but it tapered off in the oppressive heat. With my hat pulled down over my eyes to keep out some of the glare, I dozed off.”
Now this is still Captain Rickenbacker talking… Something landed on my head. I knew that it was a seagull. I don’t know how I knew; I just knew.
“Everyone else knew, too. No one said a word. But peering out from under my hat brim without moving my head, I could see the expression on their faces. They were staring at the gull. The gull meant food… if I could catch it.”
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Captain Eddie caught the gull. Its flesh was eaten; its intestines were used for bait to catch fish. The survivors were sustained and their hopes renewed because a lone sea gull, uncharacteristically hundreds of miles from land, offered itself as a sacrifice.
You know that Captain Eddie made it.
And now you also know...that he never forgot.
Because every Friday evening, about sunset...on a lonely stretch along the eastern Florida seacoast...you could see an old man walking...white-haired, bushy-eyebrowed, slightly bent.
His bucket filled with shrimp was to feed the gulls...to remember that one which, on a day long past, gave itself without a struggle...like manna in the wilderness.
In The First Thanksgiving: What the Real Story Tells Us About Loving God and Learning from History, Robert Tracy McKenzie takes the historical challenges posed by the Pilgrims as his starting point. I cannot recall ever reading a book quite like The First Thanksgiving. It is an entertaining retelling of a seminal moment in American history—and a remarkable reflection on how Christians should handle history in general.
American evangelicals seem to have reached a crisis point over the study of history, especially the history of the American founding. For decades, many evangelicals have turned to popular history writers who have presented America, especially of the colonial and Revolutionary era, as a straightforwardly Christian nation. In response, a respected cohort of academic evangelical historians, led by Mark Noll and George Marsden (my doctoral advisor), have concurrently mapped out a more complex view of religion's importance in American history.
While those academic evangelicals at least implicitly disagreed with parts of the "Christian America" thesis, they have struggled to compete with the popular audience won by writers such as Peter Marshall and, most controversially, David Barton. Barton's recent book, The Jefferson Lies, which presented Thomas Jefferson as embracing relatively orthodox Christian views until late in life, unleashed an unprecedented torrent of evangelical and conservative criticism, precipitating the decision by Barton's publisher, Thomas Nelson, to pull the book from distribution in 2012.
Read it all.
It is hard to imagine America's favorite holiday as a source of political controversy. But that was the case in 1789, the year of our first Thanksgiving as a nation.
The controversy began on Sept. 25 in New York City, then the seat of government. The inaugural session of the first Congress was about to recess when Rep. Elias Boudinot of New Jersey rose to introduce a resolution. He asked the House to create a joint committee with the Senate to "wait upon the President of the United States, to request that he would recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the many signal favors of Almighty God."
Read it all.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
[New York, 3 October 1789]
By the President of the United States of America. a Proclamation.
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor–and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be–That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions–to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness onto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New-York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
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