Posted by Kendall Harmon

With public revulsion rising in response to snowballing accusations that Bill Cosby victimized women in serial fashion throughout his trailblazing career, the response from those in the know has been: What took so long?

What took so long is that those in the know kept it mostly to themselves. No one wanted to disturb the Natural Order of Things, which was that Mr. Cosby was beloved; that he was as generous and paternal as his public image; and that his approach to life and work represented a bracing corrective to the coarse, self-defeating urban black ethos.

Only the first of those things was actually true....

We all have our excuses, but in ignoring these claims, we let down the women who were brave enough to speak out publicly against a powerful entertainer.

Read it all.

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

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Posted November 25, 2014 at 3:22 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

All of St. Louis owes a debt of gratitude to the 12 St. Louis County citizens who served on the grand jury that has decided that Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson will not stand trial for the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown.

The debt is owed not for the decision. The debt would have been owed had the grand jurors come back with an indictment.

The debt is owed for hanging in there while all about them the experts and would-be experts speculated about what happened on Canfield Drive shortly after noon on that warm Saturday afternoon.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireRace/Race RelationsUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted November 25, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the weeks following the initial 2013 publication of my book, The Kennedy Half-Century: The Presidency, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy, I received hundreds of emails, letters, and tweets. Many were filled with personal reminiscences and heartfelt emotion, but mainly the communications demonstrated that people who have followed the assassination story these many years have long since chosen sides.

The concrete is so set that even if a time machine existed, and we could go back and videotape the Dallas event from every conceivable angle, some would not be convinced unless their preferred conspirators were caught red-handed. The controversy about the assassination shows few signs of fading away, especially because (according to a Peter Hart poll commissioned for my book), three-quarters of Americans do not believe the Warren Commission’s conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.

A handful of the messages I’ve received were sent by individuals who insisted they had revelations about President Kennedy’s assassination. I met, spoke by phone, or exchanged correspondence with the most credible of them. After passage of more than a half-century, it is almost impossible to separate fact from fiction, and some intriguing leads proved impossible to confirm because the principals refused to cooperate or are deceased. Nonetheless, some worthwhile particulars emerged.

Read it all

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryPsychologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 22, 2014 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It isn’t hard to figure out what made Mr. Nichols so competitive. Born in Berlin in 1931, he got out of Germany at the age of 7, mere steps ahead of the Holocaust. After that, nobody had to tell him that Jews got no favors. Characteristically, he claimed that it was an advantage. “The thing about being an outsider,” he said in 2012, “is that it teaches you to hear what people are thinking because you’re constantly looking for the people who just don’t give a damn.”

Mr. Nichols made his name in the ’50s by improvising supremely sharp-witted comedy routines with Elaine May. The lightning-quick timing that he cultivated on nightclub stages served him well when he took up directing in 1963. During a rehearsal for the Broadway premiere of Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple,” he got into a shouting match with Walter Matthau. “You’re emasculating me!” the actor shouted. “Give me back my balls!” “Certainly,” Mr. Nichols replied, then snapped his fingers to summon the stage manager. “Props!”

Mr. Nichols’s work was unshowy, even self-effacing. “It’s not a filmmaker’s job to explain his technique, but to tell his story the best way he can,” he said. Hence no one will ever think of him as a groundbreaker, a radically original creative artist. He was, rather, an interpreter, and in the studio he almost always did his best work with familiar material like Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (his first film) and the TV version of Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America,” both of which clearly convey the visceral impact of the plays on which they were based. Few of his other films will be as well remembered. Even 1967’s “The Graduate,” which vaulted him into the pantheon of Hollywood superstars, now looks like a period piece, a carefully posed snapshot of a key moment in postwar American culture.

But the fact that Mr. Nichols did make films means that he himself will likely be remembered longer than any other American stage director of his generation.

Read it all.

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

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Posted November 21, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Much has been made of the growing post-Christian sentiment among America's youngest generation of adults. But how has this well-documented turn away from religion affected Millennials' views of Christianity's most sacred text?
Has the "brand" of the Bible suffered or significantly shifted among young adults?

In a recent study among Millennials, conducted in partnership with American Bible Society and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Barna Group sought to discover how changing ideas about Christianity might be affecting perceptions of the Bible. This study—the largest Barna Group has ever done on a single generation's view of the Bible—looked at Millennials' beliefs, perceptions and practices surrounding Scripture. Three significant—and surprising—insights emerged. 1) Practicing Christian young adults maintain a traditional, high view of Scripture. 2) In contrast, non-Christian Millennials hold ambivalent and sometimes extremely negative perceptions of the Bible and of those who read it. 3) And while the screen age has impacted Bible engagement, print remains Millennials' favored format for Bible reading.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSociologyYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyTheology: Scripture

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A shuttered church could soon shine a light on Rhode Island’s dark role in the slave trade.
Church leaders hope it will also help heal a divided state and nation.

The Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island wants to use part of the Cathedral of St. John for a museum that will look at those who made money in the slave trade — and those who opposed it. Churchgoers and clergymen filled both camps.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It figures.

Just as churches, seminaries and congregational consultants were wrapping their heads around the concept of “the nones” in religious life, yet another term emerges for yet another category of Americans abandoning the church: “the dones.”

The first group denotes the growing number of Americans with no religion affiliation. “Nones,” which may represent as much as 38 percent of the U.S. population, also are known for generally having had no or very little in the way of religious upbringing.

But sociologists, church historians and congregational coaches have realized for a while that another subset of Americans are answering “none” on surveys about religious affiliations: Those who have grown up in the church and remained active in adulthood — at least until getting tired of church life.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted November 19, 2014 at 3:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In brief, what students of contemporary Jewry view in narrowly Jewish terms are problems confronting contemporary American religion, period. Recognizing this fact—namely, that America society is mired in a religious recession—points, in turn, to a somewhat different conclusion from the one offered by Wertheimer and Cohen. Theirs is a linear analysis (“if current trends continue . . . ”); but the history of American religion has been decidedly cyclical. Time and again, prophets-of-doom have railed at the disappearance of cherished beliefs and practices, and, time and again, religious revivals have arisen “miraculously” to give the lie to those warnings. Thus, religious decline in the aftermath of the American Revolution was followed by the Second Great Awakening, and the great “religious depression” of the 1920s and 30s was succeeded by the postwar revival of the 1950s.

American Judaism has experienced similar cycles. Young people abandoned Jewish institutions in the 1870s but returned and transformed them a few years later in an “American Jewish Awakening.” In the 1930s, the majority of American Jews received no Jewish education whatsoever, the community was aging, and the birthrate was in free fall. In 1935, the noted sociologist Uriah Zevi Engelman darkly predicted “the total eclipse of the Jewish church in America.” Instead, much to everybody’s surprise, postwar Jews staged a wondrous suburban comeback. By the early 1960s, the American Jewish Year Book was reporting on the “flourishing state of the American Jewish community’s religious bodies,” with “increased congregational memberships,” many “newly established congregations,” “higher enrollments in . . . religious schools,” and a “growing number of adult study groups and student programs.”

There is, of course, no guarantee that history will repeat itself in our day. Wertheimer and Cohen rightly remind us that American Jewry faces urgent challenges, and rightly call for these challenges to be addressed. Still, the rising tide of Orthodoxy, the fact that the malaise of non-Orthodox Judaism is shared by other religions, and generations of experience with the ebbs and flows of religious life should serve to qualify, and to mitigate, their prophecy of gloom. American Jewry remains a great community, and its best years may still lie ahead.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sen. Mary Landrieu’s bid to pass a Keystone XL pipeline bill fell short by the slimmest of margins Tuesday, leaving the $8 billion pipeline still on the table for the ascendant Republican Party to push the project to President Barack Obama’s desk in January.

The 59-41 Senate vote was just shy of the 60 votes needed to pass the bill, following a dramatic six days of whipping by the embattled Louisiana Democrat on an issue that almost all of Washington had expected to sit idle until next year.

The defeat deals a blow to Landrieu’s campaign ahead of her Dec. 6 runoff against GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy, whom polls show running comfortably ahead. Winning on Keystone would have helped her demonstrate her clout on the Hill as a champion of her state’s influential oil and gas industry.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Canada* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 19, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If all you need is love, as the Beatles say, perhaps it makes sense that a shrinking share of Americans are even bothering with marriage. In 1960 85% of American adults had been wed at least once; last year just 70% could say the same. Young people are proving particularly reluctant to try: 28% of men aged between 25 and 34 in 2010—and 23% of women—will not yet have tied the knot by 2030, according to estimates from the Pew Research Centre, a think-tank.

There are several reasons for this change in marriage trends. More women are working outside the home, and for fairer pay, so a husband is no longer a meal ticket. And attitudes to cohabitation have shifted: almost a quarter of young adults now live with a partner. Given the exorbitant costs of both weddings and divorces in America, living "in sin" seems increasingly sensible, particularly for the many youngsters who are now drowning in college debt.

But while a larger proportion of Americans are shying away from saying “I do”, those that have done it before remain keen to do it again. Last year 40% of new marriages included at least one partner who had made vows before, according to a new Pew study. Divorced or widowed adults are about as likely to remarry today—57% have done so—as they were in the 1960s. The prospect is certainly more appealing than it ever used to be, as rising divorce rates have yielded a larger pool of possibilities. So In total, 42m adults in America have been married more than once, up from 14m in 1960. “It’s fascinating that among those people eligible to remarry, the share that do has been stable for such a long time,” reckons Gretchen Livingston, one author of the new research.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What lessons were learned from the ERLC conference that might serve as a guide in the days ahead?

On homosexuality and same-sex marriage, the conference stands alone, at least from my perspective, as an earnest first attempt to move evangelicals in a deliberate direction toward more loving, thoughtful engagement on issues that are deeply visceral and deeply divisive. The conference also highlighted the ongoing attempt to rehabilitate the institution of marriage in a same-sex marriage world.

Simply being against same-sex marriage is an insufficient apologetic for rebuilding marriage as a cultural fixture. When deviations from marriage—such as cohabitation, divorce, and promiscuity—become routine, same-sex marriage can seem intelligible and acceptable. In attempts to halt the dictatorship of sexual relativism, the ERLC is dedicated to helping undo the foundations of the sexual revolution that have chipped away at marriage, not just fixing its symptoms.

The conference also revealed that evangelicals are taking a play out of the pro-life handbook.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsEvangelicalsRoman CatholicSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 18, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Another day, another football player arrested for domestic violence.

Frank Clark, a senior defensive end for the University of Michigan, was arrested Sunday for allegedly attacking his girlfriend in a Perkins, Ohio hotel room. Sports analysts predict Clark will be a third-round NFL draft pick next year. It’s the latest in a string of scandals involving football players this year–including Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Rice and Minnesota Vikings’ Adrian Peterson–that has prompted the NFL to implement a revamped domestic violence policy.

But Drew Pittman, a Christian NFL sports agent whose firm has negotiated almost $1 billion in player contracts, claims we’re missing the real problem. He says America–not just sports–is experiencing an epidemic of men who are not equipped to be husbands and fathers. He’s compiled stories and principles from his career in a new book, First Team Dad: Your Playbook for a Winning Family (foreword by Super Bowl winning coach Tony Dungy), and argues that our real problem is ungodly men. Here we discuss his book, sports scandals, and what he believes every parent can learn about parenting and marriage from professional sports.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyMenSportsViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 17, 2014 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The number of homeless children in the U.S. has surged in recent years to an all-time high, amounting to one child in every 30, according to a comprehensive state-by-state report that blames the nation's high poverty rate, the lack of affordable housing and the impacts of pervasive domestic violence.

Titled "America's Youngest Outcasts," the report being issued Monday by the National Center on Family Homelessness calculates that nearly 2.5 million American children were homeless at some point in 2013. The number is based on the Department of Education's latest count of 1.3 million homeless children in public schools, supplemented by estimates of homeless pre-school children not counted by the DOE.

The problem is particularly severe in California, which has one-eighth of the U.S. population but accounts for more than one-fifth of the homeless children with a tally of nearly 527,000.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Federal drug agents conducted surprise inspections of National Football League team medical staffs on Sunday as part of an ongoing investigation into prescription drug abuse in the league. The inspections, which entailed bag searches and questioning of team doctors by Drug Enforcement Administration agents, were based on the suspicion that NFL teams dispense drugs illegally to keep players on the field in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, according to a senior law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation.

The medical staffs were part of travel parties whose teams were playing at stadiums across the country. The law enforcement official said DEA agents, working in cooperation with the Transportation Security Administration, inspected multiple teams but would not specify which ones were inspected or where.

The San Francisco 49ers confirmed they were inspected by federal agents following their game against the New York Giants in New Jersey but did not provide any details. “The San Francisco 49ers organization was asked to participate in a random inspection with representatives from the DEA Sunday night at MetLife Stadium,” team spokesman Bob Lange said in an e-mailed statement. “The 49ers medical staff complied and the team departed the stadium as scheduled.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionLaw & Legal IssuesSports* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeThe U.S. Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

St. Mary's Episcopal Church, on Main Street in the Thorndike section, is set to close Dec. 7., with the 125-seat church building possibly being put up for sale.

The decision, based on dwindling resources, was made by the Rte. Rev. Douglas J. Fisher, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, in conjunction with the diocesan council.

According to diocesan spokesman, Steve Abdow, canon for mission resources, attendance at Sunday service was averaging about 18 individuals.

"We are hoping to connect them with other churches, Abdow said. "There are Episcopal churches in every direction, though not right within town."

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A few sports may not exist if gambling were not legal for them. Horse racing could be one of them. The college men’s basketball tournament, or “March Madness,” would likely not be so popular if the NCAA did not encourage fans to predict winners with a brackets contest, resulting in the common practice of office-pool betting on even the worst teams.

If sports gambling spreads as a result of being legalized, it will send the wrong message to the most dedicated yet vulnerable fans of sport – children (and the child in adult fans). “I think there needs some attention to be paid to what sport is going to represent to young people,” Bettman said.

Let’s keep the innocence of sport, one based on merit rather than promoting with a belief in luck. In that contest, the arguments of the NBA commissioner lose.

Read it all.

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

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Posted November 16, 2014 at 2:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Watch it all--used in the second sermon this morning by yours truly--KSH.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAlcohol/DrinkingEducationMarriage & FamilySportsYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEschatologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 16, 2014 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United States has perfected the art of convenience. For instance, if we don’t want to get out of our car to order food, no problem. We invented the drive-thru, the most iconic of American institutions, where we can sit in the comfort of our car and order food from an unintelligible talking box as we inhale carbon monoxide from the car in front of us. Convenience has become so omnipresent in American society that it is no longer an amenity but a necessity, even a right. When we are robbed of our convenience, we react as if we are being robbed of our property or life.

Rather than standing against this cultural phenomenon, the church often conforms to it. In an admirable but terribly misguided attempt to reach all people, we succumb to our culture’s veneration of convenience. We cram a Sunday service, that blessed celebration of the death and resurrection of Christ, into a single hour or even less. We go to great lengths to minimize any possible inconvenience to church attendees, and in so doing, we communicate to our people that convenience possesses great value. And American Christians have internalized this notion so completely that nowadays people are downright miffed when church goes beyond its time limits, and they have to miss kickoff or tee time or brunch as a result. Convenience has become king, but not just in American society—in American churches as well.

Yet by its nature, Christianity is inconvenient. The story of the Good Samaritan reminds us what true ministry looks like: it requires that we selflessly sacrifice our time, our safety, our money, and, yes, even our convenience, to serve those who are in need. And what more perfect illustration of inconvenience is there than the Incarnation, that God would leave the perfection of heaven to become a man and walk with us through the mess of our lives, even submitting to the most terrible “inconvenience” of all: the crucifixion. Convenience is nothing less than a heresy that runs contrary to some of the most fundamental aspects of what it means to be a follower of Christ.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)Theology: Salvation (Soteriology)

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Posted November 16, 2014 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

HODA ELSHISHTAWY (Muslim Public Affairs Council): Our biggest problem as Muslims and what we’re facing right now is extremism. We need to nip it in the bud. And that is through creating these healthy communities--and not just here in America but all around the world, so that Muslims can talk about these issues in an open environment and really take back our faith.

[KIM] LAWTON: But it’s been a controversial prospect. Some Muslims fear new projects to combat extremism will imply that the problem is bigger than it really is. And other Muslim voices are pushing for even more internal critique.

ZUHDI JASSER (American Islamic Forum for Democracy): The pathway to get there does involve airing dirty laundry, does involve open public acknowledgement that we have core interpretations, not the scripture, but interpretations of the scripture, that need to be modernized and are used by radicals.

LAWTON: Earlier this year, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, MPAC, released its Safe Spaces Initiative, which the group describes as a toolkit to help mosques and local community centers combat violent extremism. MPAC national policy analyst Hoda Elshishtawy says they recommend a multistep process which starts with holistic projects to help prevent extremism from ever taking hold.

Read or watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted November 16, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Outside of the United States, sports betting and other forms of gambling are popular, widely legal and subject to regulation. In England, for example, a sports bet can be placed on a smartphone, at a stadium kiosk or even using a television remote control.

In light of these domestic and global trends, the laws on sports betting should be changed. Congress should adopt a federal framework that allows states to authorize betting on professional sports, subject to strict regulatory requirements and technological safeguards.

These requirements would include: mandatory monitoring and reporting of unusual betting-line movements; a licensing protocol to ensure betting operators are legitimate; minimum-age verification measures; geo-blocking technology to ensure betting is available only where it is legal; mechanisms to identify and exclude people with gambling problems; and education about responsible gaming.

Read it all.

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

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Posted November 15, 2014 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The other day, something came across my newsfeed about Kourtney Kardashian’s pregnancy style.

I’ll hand it to her; she’s a stylish pregnant lady. And we know this for certain now, because this is her third pregnancy with boyfriend Scott Disick.

But that’s just it. Boyfriend.

It’s head-scratching to me why a couple would have multiple children — all “planned” — but refuse to tie the knot. It seems to me, if you’re building a family together, why not make it official? Yet keeping it unofficial is becoming the new norm.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyMenPsychologyReligion & CultureWomen* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 15, 2014 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dear Brother and Sister Anglicans:

It is a beautiful building, isn’t it? Those white spires reaching into a perfect blue sky! Today, November 14, 2014, that building, the Episcopal Diocese of Washington’s National Cathedral, will for the first time offer Muslim Friday Prayers (Jumu’ah) within the sanctuary.

The prayers, which the Cathedral will proudly webcast live from their website, will be co-sponsored by the leaders of such Muslim organizations as the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS), and Masjid Mohammed (The Nation’s Mosque), as well as South African Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool and the Cathedral’s Director of Liturgy, the Rev. Canon Gina Campbell. CAIR, ISNA, MPAC, and ADAMS are all affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood (the Ikhwan).

I took the photo of the National Cathedral in 2006 while I was with hundreds of Iranian Americans — both Christian and Muslim — protesting the Cathedral’s invitation to former Iranian president Mohammed Khatami to speak there. Family members of those who languished and/or died in Iranian prisons held posters with their loved ones’ pictures. Other signs showed women being stoned — during the years of Khatami’s presidency or tenure as Minister of Culture.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristology

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Posted November 15, 2014 at 9:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In welcoming comments, The Rev. Canon Gina Gilland Campbell of the National Cathedral noted she has learned the patterns and practices of prayer from Muslims, Native Americans, Sikhs and others. Stating that “Openness to those whose prayer differs from our own is one thing” but that preparedness to exercise hospitality is another, Campbell announced that “deep relationships come out of shared prayer.”

No statement was offered noting the use of the Cathedral sanctuary for non-Christian worship, despite the space being consecrated to the worship of Christ. The sanctuary of the National Cathedral has also been used for Tibetan sand painting by monks and for a Native American smudging ceremony, in which a gift of smoking tobacco leaves was offered to welcome spirits from the four cardinal directions.

In his sermon, Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool of South Africa noted appreciation to the church for making the facility available, but explained the group chose not to have prayers in the “main church” (the nave) “lest subsequent generations of Muslims see that as a license to appropriate the church for Islam”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristology

3 Comments
Posted November 15, 2014 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While not the United States' official church, owing to a constitutional ban on such a delineation, the episcopal National Cathedral is nevertheless deeply symbolic, designated by Congress as America's "National House of Prayer." It is the final resting place of American icons such as Hellen Keller and Woodrow Wilson, and has hosted the presidential inaugural prayer services for Franklin Delano Roosevelt, both Bushes and President Barack Obama. Islam is the third-largest religion in the United States, behind Christianity and Judaism, and with an estimated 2.6 million adherents, constitutes approximately 0.8% of the country's population.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted November 15, 2014 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The remarkable fall from grace of the evangelical preacher Mark Driscoll could provide case-study materials on public ministry for years to come. The Seattle pastor’s resignation from his megachurch on Oct. 14 and the subsequent dissolution of the church he built had nothing to do with the sort of sordid scandals that in the past brought down preachers such as Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker. Mr. Driscoll’s downfall had a great deal to do with the online world that he had seemed to master, a world that made him famous but also exposed what he called in his resignation letter his “pride, anger and a domineering spirit.”

Boosted by live streaming, podcasts and social media, Mr. Driscoll harnessed the Internet to propel his nondenominational ministry beyond Mars Hill, his local congregation. He was known for his muscular, in-your-face style of preaching about Jesus, depicting Christ as more superhero than lamb of God, once declaring: “I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.” This aggressive posture, visible online and off, paradoxically made the once “cussin’ pastor” famous but also helped bring down his ministry.

“The same rough edges that can land you in hot water are the very same things that attracted, in some cases, tens of thousands of people to you in the first place,” Mark DeMoss, whom Mars Hill hired to do public relations for six months before Mr. Driscoll’s resignation, told me.

Read it all.

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

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Posted November 14, 2014 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Churches can stop worrying that their pastors' best benefit will be taken away by an atheist lawsuit—for now.

Today, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court's high-profile decision that the longstanding clergy housing allowance was unconstitutional. The 60-year-old tax break excludes the rental value of a pastor's home from their taxable income.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) challenged the law last year in Wisconsin, and federal judge Barbara Crabb agreed the allowance violated the First Amendment by providing “a benefit to religious persons and no one else, even though doing so is not necessary to alleviate a special burden on religious exercise.”

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted November 13, 2014 at 6:24 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The crisis in Ukraine is at risk of spinning out of control, a top U.S. diplomat said, as European leaders remained split over imposing deeper sanctions on Russia for backing a rebellion that’s killed thousands of people.

Russia must stop violating a Sept. 5 cease-fire agreement signed in Minsk, Belarus, Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, told journalists today, citing a growing number of military convoys in Ukraine’s rebel-held regions and increased shelling of the Donetsk airport. Ukraine’s foreign minister said his country is prepared to defend itself after NATO warned Russia was sending combat troops across its border. Russian President Vladimir Putin denies military involvement.

“Is there a risk that the situation is getting out of control? Yes, there is that risk,” Power said. It’s “an extremely worrying period.”

Read it all.

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

2 Comments
Posted November 13, 2014 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Over the past decade or so, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints—usually known as the “Mormon” or “LDS” church—has moved toward greater transparency about its earliest era.

Through the publication of “The Joseph Smith Papers” and new historical essays on the official church website, lds.org, interested readers have been able to learn about the fuzzy period of early Mormonism, the roughly fifteen years from its founding to the settlement in Utah.

Now a new essay, “Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo,” makes frank admissions about the early days of polygamous relations (called “plural marriage” in LDS terminology) at Mormon settlements in Ohio and Illinois.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsMormons* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 13, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[The] Rev Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, executive religion editor for the Huffington Post, moderated the panel discussions. The Christian voice was heard loudly along with other faiths, political experts and US journalists: Bishop Prince Singh from the Episcopal Church, noted that the forum had gathered on the Hindu festival of lights known as Diwali, and said that it was a spiritual discipline to resist the urge to demonize opponents and instead to strive to bring light rather than heat to conversations on potentially divisive issues. This was very much the theme of the forum.

In his day job Paul blogs and hosts a weekly Huff Post podcast dedicated to exploring how religious ideas and spiritual practice inform and shape our personal lives, our communities and our world. Huff Post has an openly liberal/left commentary but does not shy away from debate. They welcome comment but have banned anonymity.

In a moving podcast he recently investigated mental health interviewing Kay and Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, whose son lived with mental illness until his tragic suicide.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Episcopal Church (TEC)* Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetMediaReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UK

0 Comments
Posted November 13, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What is missing, he points out, is as important as what is researched and written upon. There are few or no studies of theologically-oriented sociology, studies of efficient economic growth, the role of pain and suffering in personal growth, persecution and martyrdom, spiritual “retardation” (66-7).

One of his most extensive, and most damning, bits of evidence has to do with the reaction of the sociological community to University of Texas sociology Mark Regnerus’s 2012 article that concluded that “adult children of parents who had had one or more same-sex romantic relationships fared significantly worse as adults on many emotional and material measures than their adult peers who were raised in an intact, biological family” (102). The reaction was vicious, with sociologists attacking like tribesmen protecting a shrine. It is, Smith rightly says, an unsavory episode in recent sociology.

Smith is measured in his evaluation of the goals of the sacred project. Some he sympathizes with, others not. The problem is severalfold. It’s partly that sociology is in denial about itself; it doesn’t admit to its own spiritual agenda. Because the sacred must be guarded, viciously if necessary, sociology has become “boringly homogenous, reticently conflict-averse, philosophically ignorant, and intellectual torpid” (144). The animus of sociology’s project to organized religion, and especially to Christianity, has led it to misread evidence (e.g., secularization theory) and miss trends (e.g., the decidedly unsecular present).

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted November 13, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mormon leaders have acknowledged for the first time that the church’s founder and prophet, Joseph Smith, portrayed in church materials as a loyal partner to his loving spouse Emma, took as many as 40 wives, some already married and one only 14 years old.

The church’s disclosures, in a series of essays online, are part of an effort to be transparent about its history at a time when church members are increasingly encountering disturbing claims about the faith on the Internet. Many Mormons, especially those with polygamous ancestors, say they were well aware that Smith’s successor, Brigham Young, practiced polygamy when he led the flock in Salt Lake City. But they did not know the full truth about Smith.

“Joseph Smith was presented to me as a practically perfect prophet, and this is true for a lot of people,” said Emily Jensen, a blogger and editor in Farmington, Utah, who often writes about Mormon issues.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsMormons* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted November 12, 2014 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Richard Overton, 108, is thought to be the oldest living veteran in the United States. But he’s as active as ever.

On Tuesday, shortly after he served as grand marshal in Austin’s Veteran’s Day Parade, Overton was relaxing on the porch of his Texas home — the same house he bought when he returned from World War II (he paid $4,000 for the house, Austin Fox affiliate KTBC reported in May).

This year’s parade, Overton told The Post, was “fine, lovely beautiful. The best one I’ve seen yet.”

“It made me feel good. I appreciate everything they’re doing,” Overton said. “I had my name and age on the side of the car, and they couldn’t believe it. I was still walking and talking and riding along and everything.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyMilitary / Armed Forces* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

1 Comments
Posted November 11, 2014 at 7:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I never meant to play you this story. Let me tell you why I had to.

Every so often I record interviews as part of a school benefit. People ask me to question their parents, or grandparents, to preserve family history. The stories that emerge are a little like our series StoryCorps.

When the McHone family arranged for me to interview Sylvia and Ron of Crystal Lake, Ill., I didn't know their story. Only shortly beforehand did I learn that they wanted to set down some memories of their son, Capt. Nathan McHone, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2012 at age 29.

This recorded interview was meant to be private, but their story felt so important that I asked if I could share it. They agreed. Thousands of Americans have been through the same experience as the McHone family — but it's rare to hear it told in such a raw and honest way.

But there's no point trying to describe it. Just listen.

Listen to it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyMilitary / Armed Forces* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

2 Comments
Posted November 11, 2014 at 6:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A record 85 entries participated in the annual Veterans Day parade in downtown Columbia Tuesday - one of the largest in the Southeast.

The parade was wending its way around Sumter and Pendleton streets Tuesday morning, starting at 11 a.m. It was set to end near the State House shortly after lunchtime.

Dignitaries included Congressman Jim Clyburn; Major Gen. Bradley Becker, commander of Fort Jackson; and Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin.

Read it all.


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

0 Comments
Posted November 11, 2014 at 5:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Look at them all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyMilitary / Armed Forces* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* General InterestPhotos/Photography* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

1 Comments
Posted November 11, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

25 year-old Kyle Carpenter should not be alive today. But he is, and he wears his scars with pride. After nearly 40 surgeries and two and a half years in the hospital, he got back to fighting shape and completed the Marine Corps Marathon. This summer, Kyle became the second living Marine since the Vietnam War to receive the nation's highest military decoration -- the Medal of Honor.

Watch it all and you can read more about the amazing Marine veteran Cpl. Kyle Carpenter there.

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

0 Comments
Posted November 11, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

My favorite resource--read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted November 11, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a world tormented by tension and the possibilities of conflict, we meet in a quiet commemoration of an historic day of peace. In an age that threatens the survival of freedom, we join together to honor those who made our freedom possible. The resolution of the Congress which first proclaimed Armistice Day, described November 11, 1918, as the end of "the most destructive, sanguinary and far-reaching war in the history of human annals." That resolution expressed the hope that the First World War would be, in truth, the war to end all wars. It suggested that those men who had died had therefore not given their lives in vain.

It is a tragic fact that these hopes have not been fulfilled, that wars still more destructive and still more sanguinary followed, that man's capacity to devise new ways of killing his fellow men have far outstripped his capacity to live in peace with his fellow men.Some might say, therefore, that this day has lost its meaning, that the shadow of the new and deadly weapons have robbed this day of its great value, that whatever name we now give this day, whatever flags we fly or prayers we utter, it is too late to honor those who died before, and too soon to promise the living an end to organized death.

But let us not forget that November 11, 1918, signified a beginning, as well as an end. "The purpose of all war," said Augustine, "is peace." The First World War produced man's first great effort in recent times to solve by international cooperation the problems of war. That experiment continues in our present day -- still imperfect, still short of its responsibilities, but it does offer a hope that some day nations can live in harmony.

For our part, we shall achieve that peace only with patience and perseverance and courage -- the patience and perseverance necessary to work with allies of diverse interests but common goals, the courage necessary over a long period of time to overcome...[a skilled adversary].

Do please take a guess as to who it is and when it was, then click and read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The language is mysterious and ancient. Yet according to a new survey probing what Americans believe on crucial theological issues, a majority of those polled – 71 percent – believe in the Trinity.

But what about that whole "God in three persons" thing? Not so much.

In fact, 75 percent of Catholics polled by LifeWay Research agreed that the "Holy Spirit is a force, not a personal being" – a shocking number in light of the fact that only 52 percent of non-Christian Americans took that unorthodox stance. Among "mainline," mostly liberal, Protestants, 74 percent denied the personhood of the Holy Spirit along with a small majority – 58 percent – of evangelical Protestants.

The spring survey is the latest to show that most Americans affirm traditional religious beliefs, sort of, but turn into "cafeteria" believers who pick and choose whatever makes them feel comfortable when it comes to doctrinal specifics, said LifeWay President Ed Stetzer. Things can get foggy and confusing in the "mushy middle" of the religious spectrum, where Americans worship a "Christian-ish god," rather than the God of traditional Christian faith.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyThe Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

1 Comments
Posted November 10, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For millennia, scholars have debated what virtues should be part of the moral life. While the seven deadly sins might be more interesting, the virtues—such as prudence, justice and fortitude—have inspired a good deal of deliberation. Which are most important? Who embodies them, who doesn’t and what challenges do they present to mere mortals?

Into this eternal genre steps a team of right-of-center writers known to be more clever or ironical than your average talk-radio listener. (Think “South Park” conservatives, not the sort who hang out at the American Legion hall.) The stated thesis of “The Seven Deadly Virtues,” as editor Jonathan V. Last writes, is that modern Americans do still value virtue. “The problem is that we have organized ourselves around the wrong virtues.” Or at least our moral system has some serious problems. We’re appalled by Donald Sterling ’s racism but skim over his habit of bringing his mistress to basketball games. We like health and authenticity more than temperance and charity. Nonjudgmentalism seems to trump nearly everything, including courage.

It’s an engaging premise, and it is investigated occasionally in “The Seven Deadly Virtues.” But the book is better read for what it is: an excuse to bring more than a dozen talented writers together, give them fussy-sounding concepts such as “Forbearance” and “Chastity,” and see what happens.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted November 9, 2014 at 12:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Remarkably, the 26 percent of the 2014 electorate who were white evangelicals, according to exit polls, is higher than the 23 percent of 2004, when evangelicals were lionized as an imposing electoral force. Their key role in reelecting fellow evangelical George W. Bush provoked overwrought rhetoric by some on the left about the threat of impending theocracy. (Bush also won Hispanic evangelicals.)

Much of the public reaction to conservative Christian voting patterns, especially for evangelicals, is hyperbolic—both the warnings of impending theocracy and the claims of demographic collapse. But as religion reporter Mark Silk has noted: “Simply put, the more things changed, the more they stayed the same.” The 2014 exit polls show the “religious layout of the electorate looks almost identical to the last midterm election in 2010, and not much different from the 2012 presidential election.”

Wherever demographic trends lead in the future, conservative Christians were decisive in the 2014 election, and their percentage of the electorate has not declined.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

God bless online media. Almost half of U.S. adults (46 percent) say they saw someone sharing “something about their faith” on the Internet in the last week.

And one in five (20 percent) say they were part of the Internet spiritual action on social networking sites and apps — sharing their beliefs on Facebook, asking for prayer on Twitter, mentioning in a post that they went to church.

“The sheer number of people who have seen faith discussed online is pretty striking,” said Greg Smith, associate director of religion research for Pew Research Center.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Minutes after Gov. Nikki Haley's blowout win Tuesday night, speculation began anew that the governor may not finish out her second four-year term if the eventual Republican presidential nominee comes calling.

Some say the idea of Haley getting a spot on the ticket is a long shot. One obvious strike against her is that she's a Southerner in a region already owned by the GOP.

"She's probably not a first-tier vice presidential candidate simply because she's from a very safe red state, and the eventual GOP nominee may be looking for a VP choice from a swing state," University of Virginia political scientist Geoffrey Skelly said Wednesday. But there are other variables that no one can predict, Skelly added.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenateState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted November 5, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Voters in Washington, D.C., have approved the legal use of marijuana for recreational purposes. Supporters of the D.C. marijuana measure had a 65-29.5 percent lead as of 9:09 p.m. ET, with 20,727 voting in favor.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

5 Comments
Posted November 5, 2014 at 5:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Republicans swept to control of the U.S. Senate by capitalizing on voter anger over President Barack Obama’s handling of the economy, setting up a clash of priorities that will shape his final two years in office and the race to succeed him.

The economy was voters’ most pressing concern as they cast their ballots in the midterm election, with seven of 10 rating conditions poor, preliminary exit polls showed.

More than five years after the recession ended, ordinary Americans still feel pinched. Wages and incomes haven’t recovered even as corporate profits hit records, stocks have almost tripled and the nation’s output of goods and services grew more than $1 trillion from its pre-recession peak.

Read it all from Bloomberg.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The biggest event in this schism occurred in 2008, when the leadership of the entire Fort Worth, Texas, diocese led a break with the parent church, and took with them out of that denomination the property of 47 parish churches in 24 counties – property worth more than $100 million overall. The parent church fought back, but ultimately lost in the Texas Supreme Court. From now on, and in this case, that state court ruled, church property disputes were to be decided by the “neutral principles” approach, no longer deferring to church structure arrangements. Examining the trust document under which the parent church had claimed ownership of the local property, the state court said that did not square with state civil law.

With support from a wide array of mainstream religious organizations and advocacy group, the Episcopal Church took the case to the Supreme Court, arguing that the time had come for the court to abandon the “neutral principles” approach and return to the deference approach. The parent church, it contended, had done everything it could to establish the parent’s dominion over property, and yet that was not enough.

The breakaway congregations in Fort Worth and their bishop urged the Supreme Court to stay out of the case, noting that the Justices had passed up other appeals on the issue, and commenting that the dispute in Texas has not yet become final.

Read it all from Lyle Denniston.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Internet is moving to a shopping center near you.

In Fort Wayne, Ind., a vacated Target store is about to be home to rows of computer servers, network routers and Ethernet cables courtesy of a local data-center operator. In Jackson, Miss., a former McRae’s department store will get the same treatment next year. And one quadrant of the Marley Station Mall south of Baltimore is already occupied by a data-center company that last year offered to buy out the rest of the building.

As America’s retailers struggle to keep up with online shopping, the Internet is starting to settle into some of the very spaces where brick-and-mortar customers used to shop. The shift brings welcome tenants to some abandoned stretches of the suburban landscape, though it doesn’t replace all the jobs and sales-tax revenue that local communities lost when stores left the building.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 4, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sporting an “I voted” sticker yet? On Tuesday, Nov. 4, many citizens across the United States will head to the polls. Others will stay at home, arguing, “My vote won’t make a difference.”

However, two young United Methodist pastors beg to differ.

The Rev. Elizabeth Murray, a provisional deacon in the South Carolina Conference, is director of Hispanic ministries at Mount Hebron United Methodist Church, West Columbia, South Carolina, and a Hispanic/Latino ministry consultant to the conference Office of Congregational Development.

“I vote,” she says, “because I know voting can make a difference in my community, nation and the lives of others. I vote, not only because it is my civic duty as a United States citizen, but also because I have vowed, as a Christian, to do no harm and to do good. I vote to protect the rights of — and promote equality for — women. I vote to make sure everyone has equal access to the right to vote. I vote for my voice to be heard on comprehensive immigration reform.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted November 4, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In Oregon, one recent poll by SurveyUSA showed supporters for marijuana legalization leading by 52 percent to 41 percent; another by Elway Research, for The Oregonian, found them behind by 46 to 44. The only recent public polls in Alaska were conducted by interested parties; unsurprisingly, pro-legalization forces found the question ahead, and opponents found it behind.

The proposal in the District of Columbia is highly likely to pass: An NBC4/Washington Post/Marist poll found support at 65-33 in September. However, Congress can overrule Washington voters’ choice to legalize, and Representative Andy Harris, a Republican from Maryland, has signaled his intention to push Congress to do so.

Florida will vote on medical marijuana. Because the state’s proposal is a constitutional amendment, it must get 60 percent of the vote to pass.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. officials are weighing whether to broaden the air campaign in Syria to strike a militant group that is a rival to the Islamic State and that is poised to take over a strategically vital corridor from Turkey.

Extremists from the al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra group were said Monday to be within a few miles of the Bab ­al-Hawa crossing in northwestern Syria on the Turkish border, one of only two openings through which the moderate Free Syrian Army receives military and humanitarian supplies provided by the United States and other backers.

Over the weekend, rebels said Jabhat al-Nusra forces swept through towns and villages controlled by the Free Syrian Army in Idlib province, west of Aleppo. Rebel groups associated with the Free Syrian Army were routed from their main strongholds, with scores of fighters fleeing toward Turkey or defecting to join the militants, according to opposition activists.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tom Magliozzi, one of public radio's most popular personalities, died on Monday of complications from Alzheimer's disease. He was 77 years old.

Tom and his brother, Ray, became famous as "Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers" on the weekly NPR show Car Talk. They bantered, told jokes, laughed and sometimes even gave pretty good advice to listeners who called in with their car troubles.

If there was one thing that defined Tom Magliozzi, it was his laugh. It was loud, it was constant, it was infectious.

Read it all.

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

8 Comments
Posted November 3, 2014 at 4:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The holy grail for helping youth remain religiously active as young adults has been at home all along: Parents.

Mothers and fathers who practice what they preach and preach what they practice are far and away the major influence related to adolescents keeping the faith into their 20s, according to new findings from a landmark study of youth and religion.

Just 1 percent of teens ages 15 to 17 raised by parents who attached little importance to religion were highly religious in their mid- to late 20s.

In contrast, 82 percent of children raised by parents who talked about faith at home, attached great importance to their beliefs and were active in their congregations were themselves religiously active as young adults, according to data from the latest wave of the National Study of Youth and Religion.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilySociologyTeens / YouthYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted November 3, 2014 at 7:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If you went to a wedding this summer, there is a better-than-even chance that the happy couple was already living together. Today, more than 65 percent of first marriages start out that way. Fifty years ago, it was closer to 10 percent.

Cohabitation before marriage, once frowned upon, is now almost a rite of passage, especially for the millennial generation. Young adults born after 1980 are more likely to cohabit than any previous generation was at the same stage of life, according to the Pew Research Center. With more than 8 million couples currently cohabiting, it is obviously a living arrangement with appeal — but it is also one with unique challenges.

Claire Noble and Charlie Sharbel are among those who have decided to share the keys to an apartment. They are both 27 years old and have been living together in Washington, D.C., since August.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyMenPsychologyReligion & CultureWomenYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted November 3, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"We embrace freedom because we believe fervently in the fullest breadth of individual human possibility, and share a deep conviction that no one's horizons in life should be dictated by the conditions of his or her birth. Nothing is more quintessentially American than that conviction. But interestingly the word 'place' rarely plays any role in this freedom narrative, and in fact, what role it plays tends to be negative."
--Wilfred McClay in Wilfred M. McClay and Ted V. McAllister, eds., Why Place Matters: Geography, Identity, and Civic Life in Modern America (New York: New Atlantis, 2014) p.6


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

0 Comments
Posted November 2, 2014 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almighty God, to whom we must account for all our powers and privileges: Guide the people of the United States (or of this community) in the election of officials and representatives; that, by faithful administration and wise laws, the rights of all may be protected and our nation be enabled to fulfill your purposes; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

--1979 American Book of Common Prayer


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentHouse of RepresentativesSenateState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The first time Nathan Whitmore zapped his brain, he had a college friend standing by, ready to pull the cord in case he had a seizure. That didn’t happen. Instead, Whitmore started experimenting with the surges of electricity, and he liked the effects. Since that first cautious attempt, he’s become a frequent user of, and advocate for, homemade brain stimulators.

Depending on where he puts the electrodes, Whitmore says, he has expanded his memory, improved his math skills and solved previously intractable problems. The 22-year-old, a researcher in a National Institute on Aging neuroscience lab in Baltimore, writes computer programs in his spare time. When he attaches an electrode to a spot on his forehead, his brain goes into a “flow state,” he says, where tricky coding solutions appear effortlessly. “It’s like the computer is programming itself.”

Whitmore no longer asks a friend to keep him company while he plugs in, but he is far from alone. The movement to use electricity to change the brain, while still relatively fringe, appears to be growing, as evidenced by a steady increase in active participants in an online brain-hacking message board that Whitmore moderates.

Read it all.

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

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Posted November 2, 2014 at 4:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even as Americans' trust in government eroded in recent years, people kept faith in a handful of agencies and institutions admired for their steadiness in ensuring the country's protection.

To safeguard the president, there was the solidity of the Secret Service. To stand vigil against distant enemies, the U.S. nuclear missile corps was assumed to be on the job. And to ward off threats to public health, the nation counted on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Now, in the space of just a few months, the reputations of all those agencies - as well as the Veterans Administration - have been tarred by scandal or tarnished by doubt. Maybe a public buffeted by partisan rhetoric and nonstop news should be used to this by now. But, with the CDC facing tough questions about its response to the Ebola outbreak, something feels different. Government is about doing collectively what citizens can't do alone, but its effectiveness is premised on trust.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted November 2, 2014 at 4:44 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the Christian message isn't burdened down by the miraculous. It's inextricably linked to it. A pregnant woman conceives. The lame walk. The blind see. A dead man is resurrected, ascends to heaven, and sends the Spirit. The universe's ruler is on his way to judge the living and the dead. Those who do away with such things are left with what J. Gresham Machen rightly identified as a different religion, a religion as disconnected from global Christianity as the made-up religion of Wicca is from the actual Druids of old.

The same is true with a Christian sexual ethic. Sexual morality didn't become difficult with the onset of the sexual revolution. It always has been. Walking away from our own lordship, or from the tyranny of our desires, has always been a narrow way. The rich young ruler wanted a religion that would promise him his best life now, extended out into eternity. But Jesus knew that such an existence isn't life at all, just the zombie corpse of the way of the flesh. He came to give us something else, to join us to his own life.

If we withhold what our faith teaches about a theology of the body, of marriage, of what it means to be created male and female, we will breed nothing but cynicism from those who will rightly conclude that we see them not as sinners in need of good news but as a marketing niche to be exploited by telling them what they want to hear.

You can't grow a Christian church by being sub-Christian. That's why there are no booming Arian or Unitarian or Episcopal Church (USA) church-planting movements....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexualityYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted November 1, 2014 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Galway Kinnell, who was recognized with both a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award for a body of poetry that pushed deep into the heart of human experience in the decades after World War II, died on Tuesday at his home in Sheffield, Vt. He was 87.

The cause was leukemia, his wife, Barbara K. Bristol, said.

Mr. Kinnell came of age among a generation of poets who were trying to get past the modernism of T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound and write verses that, as he said, could be understood without a graduate degree. He succeeded well enough that all of the volumes of poems he published from 1960 to 2008 — evocations of urban streetscapes, pastoral odes, meditations on mortality and frank explorations of sex — are still in print.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

‘Muslim communities in the West,” wrote Graham Fuller and Ian Lesser in 1995 (“The Geopolitics of Islam and the West”), “are more likely to exert influence on their countries and cultures of origin rather than receive influences from them; over time they may have a substantive effect on the perceptions of secularization and minority rights in the Middle East.”

This shift—from the American Muslim community being perceived as foreign and an extension of the Middle East and South Asia to American Muslims instead influencing the East—is the direction in which Muslims are heading. Rampant authoritarianism in the Muslim world and the regression of Muslim religious establishments funded by the same autocratic governments currently make Islamic reform unlikely in the region.

American Muslims can significantly contribute to the revival of Islam and restore human dignity as a central principle of the faith. From despotic regimes to religious extremism, authoritarianism in the Middle East and South Asia has devastated modern Islamic thought over the last few centuries. American Muslims have the freedom and the intellectual capacity to create positive change for Islamic reform.

Read it all.

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

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Posted October 31, 2014 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If traditional Christian teaching produces despair it is likely that such teaching has somehow been pressed or malformed to obscure the gospel. Whether one identifies as homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual, the hope of the gospel is the same. In the words of Tim Keller, “We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” The profound experience of grace in the gospel provides the onus to a life of faithful discipleship. The homosexual need not stop experiencing same sex attraction in order to “earn” salvation just as straight people need not stop experiencing opposite-sex attraction. What he must do is remain chaste, an ancient word with little currency in today’s culture.

There can be little doubt that traditional Christians often communicate to gays that they must somehow stop experiencing same sex attraction in order to make themselves acceptable to God. This is not the gospel. There is nothing than we can do to make ourselves acceptable to God. What the Bible asks of us is, however, to recognize that sexual relationships with people of the same sex violates God’s intention for human sexuality. The Christian tradition directs us in one of two equally valid directions: celibacy or heterosexual marriage.

Reasonable people ought to respect Gushee’s right to change his mind and to do so publicly. However, it’s important to note that Gushee’s capitulation is not the only possible response to the precipitous change in cultural attitudes toward sexuality.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted October 31, 2014 at 6:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This is a more accurate understanding of the Reformation understanding of the relationship between Scripture and Tradition (and, indeed, explains why Lutherans can consider the Lutheran Symbols authoritative). We cannot simply reject the history of the Church. True, where Tradition is appealed to as a source of new dogma, we are right to resist it. But when Tradition codifies and clearly re-presents the teachings of Scripture, it is to be accepted as a norming influence on our individual reading of Scripture.

Philipp Melanchthon explains the Lutheran position well: “Let the highest authority be that of the Word which was divinely taught,” he explains. “Thereafter that church which agrees with that Word is to be considered authoritative.” And again: “Let us hear the church when it teaches and admonishes,” he writes, “but one must not believe because of the authority of the church. For the church does not lay down articles of faith; it only teaches and admonishes. We must believe on account of the Word of God when, admonished by the church, we understand that this meaning is truly and without sophistry taught in the Word of God.”

Christianity Today’s report suggests that some Protestants have forgotten this right relationship between Scripture and Tradition. We are right to trust in Scripture alone; but it is foolhardy to read Scripture by ourselves.

Read it all.

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

3 Comments
Posted October 31, 2014 at 5:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S. health care apparatus is so unprepared and short on resources to deal with the deadly Ebola virus that even small clusters of cases could overwhelm parts of the system, according to an Associated Press review of readiness at hospitals and other components of the emergency medical network.

Experts broadly agree that a widespread outbreak across the country is extremely unlikely, but they also concur that it is impossible to predict with certainty, since previous Ebola epidemics have been confined to remote areas of Africa. And Ebola is not the only possible danger that causes concern; experts say other deadly infectious diseases - ranging from airborne viruses such as SARS, to an unforeseen new strain of the flu, to more exotic plagues like Lassa fever - could crash the health care system.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

2 Comments
Posted October 30, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While no one would argue that the United States has more bombs, bullets and boots, the question is, “Why does the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) continue to gain territory and to recruit young people to their cause from the western world?”

The Jihadists see themselves in a struggle against evil and we are the face of their evil. We are attempting to win on the battlefield but we are losing the battle for hearts and minds.

Former Senator Birch Bayh referred to the Jihadist ideology as “empty” on Fox New Sunday (October 26th) If only. If only he was correct. We may kill their soldiers but their ideology, while evil, is robust, certain and virulent. The western world in general and the U.S. lack the courage of their convictions because they lack convictions. We have no vision and are lacking in moral authority. Do we honestly think that we could reinstate the draft to compel young men once again to fight this war?

Read it all.

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

3 Comments
Posted October 29, 2014 at 7:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

These debt statistics come from Debt.org:

"More than 160 million Americans have credit cards.""The average credit card holder has at least three cards.""On average, each household with a credit card carries more than $15,000 in credit card debt."

Not only do we have large amounts of credit card debt, we also have student loans, mortgages, cars, and medical debts. Our debt is growing faster than our income, and many middle class workers have trouble staying afloat. Money-Zine evaluated debt growth and income growth over the past few decades and found that "back in 1980, the consumer credit per person was $1,540, which was 7.3% of the average household income of $21,100. In 2013, consumer debt was $9,800 per person, which was 13.4% of the average household income of $72,600. This means debt increased 70% faster than income from 1980 through 2013."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 28, 2014 at 7:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I can never agree with you that the Incarnation, or any truth, has to satisfy emotionally to be right (and I would not agree that for the natural man the Incarnation does not satisfy emotionally). It does not satisfy emotionally for the person brought up under many forms of false intellectual discipline such as 19th-century mechanism, for instance. Leaving the Incarnation aside, the very notion of God’s existence is not emotionally satisfactory anymore for great numbers of people, which does not mean that God ceases to exist. M. Sartre finds God emotionally unsatisfactory in the extreme, as do most of my friends of less stature than he. The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it emotionally. A higher paradox confounds emotion as well as reason and there are long periods in the lives of all of us, and of the saints, when the truth as revealed by faith is hideous, emotionally disturbing, downright repulsive. Witness the dark night of the soul in individual saints. Right now the whole world seems to be going through a dark night of the soul.

There is a question whether faith can or is supposed to be emotionally satisfying. I must say that the thought of everyone lolling about in an emotionally satisfying faith is repugnant to me. I believe that we are ultimately directed Godward but that this journey is often impeded by emotion. I don’t think you are a jellyfish. But I suspect you of being a Romantic. Which is not such an opprobrious thing as being a fascist. I do hope you will reconsider and relieve me of the burden of being a fascist. The only force I believe in is prayer, and it is a force I apply with more doggedness than attention.

Read it all.

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

2 Comments
Posted October 27, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations called attention to the need for a greater response to the Ebola outbreak that has killed nearly 5,000 people in West Africa.

Samantha Power posted on Twitter early Monday, after spending a day in Guinea, that the "scale of need is staggering" and that the "most basic resources will help save lives."

She is on a multistop tour this week of the worst-hit countries, including Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Power also highlighted the efforts of those already working in Guinea to treat patients, build treatment facilities and educate people, including Doctors Without Borders and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaGuineaLiberiaSierra LeoneAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 27, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Doctors rarely talk about death.

Mostly it's because we're in the business of trying to help people prolong their lives, which almost always makes death an unwelcome topic of discussion.

Too often, death is seen as failure, though it shouldn't be. Death is a natural part of the cycle of our lives.

After all the time I've spent working in hospitals I'm less afraid of death than I used to be. It can be scary to see death up close. But the end can seem a blessing after you've watched patients suffer and witnessed medical treatments that were dehumanizing and fruitless.

Even though my medical practice is mostly confined to the office now, I still confront death regularly. As a part of my practice, I decided to be more mindful about it by keeping a list of the patients I've cared for who have died. I call it my necrology.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 26, 2014 at 11:55 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Should coaches and players pray before football games? Perhaps it all depends on what they pray for. Pray for peace? Not the way the game is played today. Pray that the Lord will help you “play to the best of your ability?” Not if that means you have to dampen God-given, psychological, fail-safe systems designed to protect you from injury. Pray to win? Only if you think God, in his infinite wisdom, wants to bring you the thrill of victory while bringing your opponents the agony of defeat. Pray for the Lord’s protection? Not unless you are willing to set limits on what your coach asks you to do with your body. Pray that God might be glorified by the game? Not unless the rules and strategies of the game are radically altered so that that overused platitude actually means something. Ask that the game will glorify God but only after it has been stripped of its bellicosity, purged of its brutality, and infused with a spirit that, far from challenging the best instincts of Christian, actually fosters spiritual growth.

I might venture one unqualified role for prayer in football although I doubt it ever would gain a foothold in a culture where clear thinking doesn’t have a chance against entrenched, unexamined traditions. Does it seem too radical, too idealistic, too traitorous to the ideals of the game to suggest that football Christian coaches, in the stillness of their offices pray that football might one day be redeemed and restored to its created design? And after having prayed that prayer, maybe they should work to realize its vision.

Read it all.

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

1 Comments
Posted October 26, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With Ebola rising as a concern for Americans due to a case of the disease in New York City, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said Friday that the challenge posed by the virus can be met through vigorous effort.

President Kim, himself a medical doctor, called the response by New York officials “impressive” and praised the Ebola patient there as a physician who was willing to go to West Africa to help others with the disease.

“Dr. [Craig] Spencer is a hero,” Kim told reporters at a breakfast for reporters sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor. Far from putting America at risk, “he is doing exactly what’s needed” to protect Americans and others worldwide.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 25, 2014 at 9:38 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If you’re dismayed that one in five Americans (20 percent) are “nones” — people who claim no particular religious identity — brace yourself.

How does 38 percent sound?

That’s what religion researcher David Kinnaman calculates when he adds “the unchurched, the never-churched and the skeptics” to the nones.

He calls his new category “churchless,” the same title Kinnaman has given his new book. By his count, roughly four in 10 people living in the continental United States are actually “post-Christian” and “essentially secular in belief and practice.”

If asked, the “churchless” would likely check the “Christian” box on a survey, even though they may not have darkened the door of a church in years.

Read it all.

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

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Posted October 25, 2014 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The first Ebola patient diagnosed in New York City is a young emergency medicine doctor at Columbia University Medical Center with a passion for improving health care in Africa and other countries.

Craig Spencer, 33, was rushed from his apartment at 546 West 147th Street to Bellevue Hospital at about noon on Thursday, after reporting a fever and stomach pain. About nine hours later, officials confirmed he was infected. In a Sept. 18 Facebook posting, Spencer wrote that he was headed to Guinea, a country where the Ebola virus is raging, to work with the international aid group Doctors Without Borders.

He most recently posted on Facebook from a hotel in Brussels in mid-October, when a friend wished him a safe trip home. A marathon runner and banjo player, the young doctor used his page on Facebook to urge his friends to support his fight against Ebola

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted October 24, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There was the voice of Dr. Tom Frieden of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the telephone Thursday night, at the news conference that Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio and others were holding now that Ebola had come to New York City.

“It is very important that people understand how Ebola is spread and what the risk is,” Frieden said, but then that is something he has been saying all along.

This wasn’t about the state of preparedness at Bellevue Hospital now that Dr. Craig Spencer has been admitted there and officially diagnosed with Ebola. It is quite clear that the city was ready and the state was ready. It’s just as clear that there is no reason for panic.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted October 24, 2014 at 5:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

He says his four suitemates, hailing from Connecticut, Hawaii and spots in between, have helped him adjust to Boston life. But he is still trying to figure out an American culture that is more frenetic and obstreperous than in his homeland.

“People work hard for everything,” he said. “They do things fast, and they move fast. They tell you the truth; they tell you their experiences and their reservations. In Rwanda, we have a different way of talking to adults. We don’t shout. We don’t be rowdy. But here, you think independently.”

Born in rural eastern Rwanda, Mr. Uwayesu was only 3 when his parents, both illiterate farmers, died in a politically driven slaughter that killed some 800,000 people in 100 days. Red Cross workers rescued him with a brother and two sisters — four other children survived elsewhere — and cared for them until 1998, when the growing tide of parentless children forced workers to return them to their village.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationPovertyYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAfricaRwandaAmerica/U.S.A.

1 Comments
Posted October 24, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted October 23, 2014 at 5:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bogus classes and automatic A's and B's are at the heart of a cheating scandal at the University of North Carolina that lasted nearly two decades, encompassing about 3,100 students — nearly half of them athletes.

At least nine university employees were fired or under disciplinary review, and the question now becomes what, if anything, the NCAA will do next. Penalties could range from fewer scholarships to vacated wins.

Most of the athletes were football players or members of the school's cherished basketball program, which won three of its five national titles during the scandal (1993, 2005, 2009).

Read it all.

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

5 Comments
Posted October 23, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Presented October 1 to the Episcopal Business Administrators Conference (EBAC) at the group’s annual gathering in New York, Bishop Sauls details the many ways that the Missionary Society can partner with and support mission and ministry at the local level.

“The fundamental mission of the church is to remember about God,” said Bishop Sauls, who serves as the Chief Operating Officer of The Episcopal Church. “That’s why the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society exists. To help you remind the church about God. That’s why we’re in business – to support the work you do.”

Read it all and note the link to the video presentation.

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

4 Comments
Posted October 22, 2014 at 4:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Beginning just over a century ago, all this changed. Catholics and Protestants alike have now embraced a new ecclesiology based on the consumer model. Adam Graber tells us that this huge shift was sparked by the invention of the automobile: “How Cars Created the Megachurch and put churchgoers in the driver’s seat.” As recently as the turn of the last century my great-grandparents, who lived in rural southeast Michigan, attended a Friends Church. Not because they were Quakers, but because it was near their farm and thus easily accessible. In their world, a megachurch would have been an impossibility. If you couldn’t walk or ride a horse or horse-drawn vehicle over unpaved country roads, you simply couldn’t get there at all.

Now virtually every family has at least one automobile, and this reality has transformed not only our cities, but also our churches. Here’s Graber:
Cars have made distance less of a factor in our lives. For this reason, church goers can choose from a marketplace of churches. But in order to decide, they have to narrow down the options, and when they do, they (naturally) consider their personal preferences first. They’ll try on different churches and see what “fits.”

Pastors, in reaction, are today forced to account for these new dynamics of affinity. Because church shoppers are exploring their options, area pastors often respond by targeting “felt needs.” For pastors, attracting and retaining church goers often means preaching on the topics people are looking for.
The most important consequence of this trend is that the gathered church—as distinct from the church as corpus Christi, which is all-encompassing—has been reduced to a mere voluntary association of like-minded individuals who can join and quit, or come and go at their discretion. The church, like any other commodity in the marketplace, exists only to serve the needs of its individual members.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureTravel* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 22, 2014 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A week after a Washington rabbi was charged with videotaping women disrobing for ritual baths as they converted to Judaism, the national association of modern Orthodox rabbis said Monday that it would require the appointment of ombudswomen to handle any concerns from women about the conversion process.

The association, the Rabbinical Council of America, is eager to contain the damage from the arrest of Rabbi Barry Freundel, a prominent modern Orthodox rabbi who served on the council’s executive committee and, from 2006 to 2013, presided over its committee on conversions. Rabbi Freundel had been considered an advocate for women’s rights in Orthodox Judaism. The local United States attorney’s office has charged him with using a camera concealed in a clock radio to film women as they showered or changed for immersion in the ritual bath, called a mikvah.

The council said Monday that it would not only require the appointment of an ombudswoman for each regional tribunal of rabbis overseeing conversions, but would also name a commission, which would include women as members, to recommend ways to prevent conversion abuses.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenReligion & CultureSexualityWomen* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

0 Comments
Posted October 22, 2014 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Packer came from a lower middle-class background and a nominal Anglican family that went to St Catharine’s Church in Gloucester but never talked about the things of God or even prayed at meals. As a teenager Packer had read a couple of the new books coming out by C. S. Lewis (fellow and tutor in English literature at Oxford’s Magdalen College), including The Screwtape Letters (1942) and the three BBC talks turned pamphlets that would later become Mere Christianity (1942-44). During chess matches with a high school classmate—the son of a Unitarian minister—he had defended Christianity.

Packer thought of himself as a Christian. But the events of that evening would convince him otherwise.

On this cool autumn evening, he made his way west across Oxford, past Pembroke College, and into St Aldate’s Church, where the Christian Union occasionally held services. The lights in the building were dimmed so that the light emanating from the building would be no brighter than moonlight—a recent relaxation of England’s “blackout” regulations to avoid air-raid attacks in World War II.

He entered the doors of the church a dead man walking and was to leave later that night as a resurrected man, knowing himself to belong to Christ.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchEducationGlobalizationYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.CanadaEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology

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Posted October 22, 2014 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

United Methodist Church leaders recently announced they are closing the Wilderness Retreat and Development Center, as well as three other camps the denomination operated in Missouri. Together, the camps served about 2,000 children this summer.

“I’ve wanted to get married at Wilderness since I was 11,” Dyer said. “I have a boyfriend I want to marry, and now they’re taking away my camp.”

The announcement by the church’s Camping and Retreat Board sparked an instant social media campaign — complete with hashtags, blogs, online petitions and more than 2,000 Facebook likes — in an effort to roll back the decision.

The discussion in the Kansas City area has been particularly lively because of its proximity to Wilderness, which hosted more than 600 children at summer camp this year, said D. Garrett Drake, a clergyman and conference staff member who advises the camping board.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardshipYouth Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist

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Posted October 22, 2014 at 7:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The percentage of Alabamians not affiliated with a specific religion surpasses the percentage of white mainline Protestants, ranking it third among "religious" groups, according to new research.

The American Values Atlas was compiled by the Public Religion Research Institute and Social Science Research Solutions, and was released in late September. It found that 14 percent of Alabamians describe themselves as "unaffiliated" when asked about their religious tradition. The "unaffiliated" category ranks third behind white evangelical Protestants (36 percent) and black Protestants (18 percent).

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

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Posted October 21, 2014 at 4:44 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Colorado health authorities suggested banning many forms of edible marijuana, including brownies and cookies, then whipsawed away from the suggestion Monday after it went public.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment told state pot regulators they should limit edible pot on shelves to hard lozenges and tinctures, which are a form of liquid pot that can be added to foods and drinks.

The suggestion sparked marijuana industry outrage and legal concerns from a regulatory workgroup that met Monday to review the agency's suggestion. Colorado's 2012 marijuana-legalization measure says retail pot is legal in all forms.

"If the horse wasn't already out of the barn, I think that would be a nice proposal for us to put on the table," said Karin McGowan, the department's deputy executive director.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchDieting/Food/NutritionDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 21, 2014 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In addition to many drug candidates, there are vaccines in development. In early September, the National Institutes of Health began testing a vaccine, made by a division of GlaxoSmithKline and based on an adenovirus, on twenty volunteers. Another vaccine, called VSV-EBOV, developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada and licensed to NewLink Genetics, started human trials last week. It seems possible that some time next year a vaccine may be available for use on people who have already been exposed to Ebola, though it will still not be cleared for general use. If a vaccine is safe and shows effectiveness against Ebola, and if it can be transported in the tropical climate without breaking down, then vaccinations against Ebola could someday begin.

If a vaccine works, then the vaccinators might conceivably set up what’s known as ring vaccinations around Ebola hot spots. In this technique, medical workers simply vaccinate everybody in a ring, miles deep, around a focus of a virus. It works like a fire break; it keeps the fire from spreading. Ring vaccination was the key to wiping out the smallpox virus, which was declared eradicated in 1979, but whether the ring technique—provided there was a good vaccine—would work against Ebola nobody can say. In any case, epidemiologists would not give up trying to trace cases in order to break the chains of infection.

In the U.S. and Europe, hospitals have made fatal mistakes in protocol as they engage with Ebola for the first time—errors that no well-trained health worker in Africa would likely make. But they will learn. By now, the warriors against Ebola understand that they face a long struggle against a formidable enemy. Many of their weapons will fail, but some will begin to work. The human species carries certain advantages in this fight and has things going for it that Ebola does not. These include self-awareness, the ability to work in teams, and the willingness to sacrifice, traits that have served us well during our expansion into our environment. If Ebola can change, we can change, too, and maybe faster than Ebola.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationGlobalizationHealth & MedicineScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted October 21, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If the left does own popular culture, it's because they worked hard for it, employing the conservative values of perseverance and creativity. There is a chasm that separates the infrastructure that the left has erected over the last 50 years to celebrate and interpret popular culture and the tiny space that establishment conservatism allocates to popular culture. It is for this reason, more than any claim that American popular culture is irredeemably decadent and leftist, that the right seems lost in the world of movies, music, and bestsellers. Every month, if not every week, important works of popular culture go unnoticed by the right. These are often things that speak to people's souls -- films that wrestle with questions of honor, novels, like Le Guin's about the meaning of sex and politics, music that explores the limits of self-sacrificial love.

And the right has nothing to contribute to the conversation.

In 1967 a college student named Jann Wenner borrowed $7,500 and founded Rolling Stone magazine because he wanted to cover the music and culture that was providing poetry to his generation. Around the same time a student named Martin Scorsese was graduating from New York University's film school, and a young would-be novelist named Ursula Le Guin was having her first five novels rejected. In other words, these artists, and many others, laid the groundwork for what they would eventually become -- the liberal establishment. They played the long game. This is why if musician Mark Turner had been inspired by Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness, a book that imagines a race that can change its gender, there would be an interview in the New York Times, play on the internet, a mention in Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair, maybe even a spot on Letterman. The structure is in place so that when an artist reinforces dominant liberal values, he or she has an instant pipeline to the people.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At some point, young people contemplating a clerical career will have to consider just how long there will indeed be a church for them to serve.

This isn’t meant to be panic-mongering, and infinite extrapolations rarely follow exact lines. But if any church is losing 2.6 percent of its attenders every year – not every decade – it should be deeply alarmed. Why isn’t it?

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Departing ParishesTEC DataTEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Federal Reserve policy makers are missing a key element as they assess the health of the labor market: data that includes whether those who are employed are overqualified for their job or would like to work more hours.

As a result, the "significant underutilization of labor resources" that Fed officials highlighted last month as they renewed a pledge to keep interest rates low for a "considerable period" is probably even more severe than currently estimated. And the information gap means policy makers may have more difficulty gauging the right moment to raise rates off zero.

"We have more slack than the official statistics suggest," said Michelle Meyer, a senior U.S. economist at Bank of America Corp. in New York. "Because it's difficult to measure underutilization, there's still a lot of uncertainty as to how much slack remains, which means there's uncertainty as to the appropriate stance of monetary policy."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 20, 2014 at 11:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

VALENTE: Transgender isn’t the same as being homosexual or merely cross-dressing. It’s a far more complex phenomenon known clinically as “gender dysphoria,” a severe discontent with one’s assigned sex. Transgender people often take hormones and have surgery to become more like the opposite sex. A little over a year ago, Becker began injecting testosterone. He had his breasts surgically removed.

transgenders-and-theology-post01BECKER: My only regret is throughout this entire process is not starting it sooner.

VALENTE: Emboldened by the new Amazon Online series "Transparent" and "Orange is the New Black" on Netflix, which features a transgender actress, transgender individuals are increasingly speaking out about their needs and their lives. An Episcopal priest recently came out as transgender, and a community of Carmelite nuns in Canada just accepted a novice with both male and female physical characteristics. The novice, Tia Michelle Pesando, has written a book called Why God Doesn’t Hate You.

OWEN DANIEL-MCCARTER (Transgender Activist, Chicago House): Even in the past 14 years, it is an incredible change in the visibility of transgender people in the media, the number of transgender activist organizations, people who are trying to change the law, and the medical system for trans people. It’s remarkable.

Read or watch it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 20, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Since 1990, the percentage of unchurched adults in America has risen from 30% to 43% of the population. Even as this segment has grown, has their profile changed?

With the aid of more than two decades of tracking research—a sort of cultural time-lapse photography—Barna Group has discovered real and significant shifts in unchurched attitudes, assumptions, allegiances and behaviors. We’ve identified five trends in our research that are contributing to this increase in the churchless of America.

This new study of the unchurched population comes in conjunction with the release of Churchless, a new book from veteran researchers George Barna and David Kinnaman. Churchless draws on more than two decades of tracking research and more than 20 nationwide studies of the unchurched.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted October 20, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

the Pentagon announced Sunday it is putting together a 30-person rapid-response team that could provide quick medical support to civilian healthcare workers if additional cases of the Ebola virus are diagnosed in the United States.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered U.S. Northern Command Commander Gen. Chuck Jacoby to assemble the team, which was requested by the Department of Health and Human Services, said Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby.

The team will consist of 20 critical-care nurses, five doctors trained in infectious disease, and five trainers in infectious-disease protocols.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 19, 2014 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Huntington’s sensitivity to religion-and-world-politics ought to have commended his analysis to the Vatican for thoughtful consideration and serious discussion. Instead, Huntington-the-straw-man-who-prophesied-endless-civilizational-war is dragged out whenever it’s deemed necessary for officials of the Holy See to say that “a war between Islam and ‘the rest’ is not inevitable” (true, if the civil war within Islam is resolved in favor of those Muslims who support religious tolerance and pluralism); or that Christian persecution and dislocation in the Middle East must be handled through the United Nations (ridiculous); or that the path to peace lies through dialogue, not confrontation (true, if there is a dialogue partner who is not given to beheading “the other”).

The Huntington proposal is not beyond criticism. But Huntington accurately described the Great Change that would take place in world politics after the wars of late modernity (the two 20th-century world wars and the Cold War); he accurately predicted what was likely to unfold along what he called Islam’s “bloody borders” if Islamists and jihadists went unchecked by their own fellow-Muslims; and he accurately identified the fact that religious conviction (or the lack thereof, as in Europe) would play an important role in shaping the 21st-century world. Thirteen years after 9/11, and in light of today’s headlines, is Huntington’s proposal really so implausible?

There is something very odd about a Holy See whose default positions include a ritualized deprecation of the Huntington thesis married to a will-to-believe about the U.N.’s capacity to be something more than an echo chamber.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAfricaAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaEngland / UKEuropeMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis Other FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 19, 2014 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

All About Jazz: What would you say is the connection between the deep pathos found within jazz music and the biblical notion of the seat of emotion?

Jeremy Begbie: A great deal of jazz has a streak of pathos, a kind of dark color to it, however joyful or celebratory the piece as a whole may be. A part of that is the pervasiveness of the blues, the blues scale, which brings a tinge of lament and restlessness to the music. Moreover, the blues brings to us the awareness of the fragility and sometimes the injustice of life. Jazz at its best faces up to these things, and actually incorporates those darker tones into a "bigger picture." That's the real miracle of this music: the way it can take up dissonance into a dynamic of hope. I think that's what the best kinds of jazz are doing.

AAJ: How can we relate this idea to the Gospel?

JB: Well, this is very basic to the Gospel, in that, injustice, suffering, and evil are not ignored but are faced and through the cross taken up into God's purposes. So there are very strong resonances here between jazz and the Christian faith.

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

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Posted October 18, 2014 at 2:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Experts who study public psychology say the next few weeks will be crucial to containing mounting anxiety. “Officials will have to be very, very careful,” said Paul Slovic, president of Decision Research, a nonprofit that studies public health and perceptions of threat. “Once trust starts to erode, the next time they tell you not to worry — you worry.”

The risk of Ebola infection remains vanishingly small in this country. The virus is not airborne, not able to travel in the way that, say, measles or the SARS virus can. Close contact with a patient is required for transmission. Just one death from Ebola has occurred here, and medical care is light-years from that available in West Africa, where more than 4,400 people have died in the latest outbreak.

By contrast, in some years, the flu kills more than 30,000 people in the United States. Yet this causes little anxiety: Millions of people who could benefit from a flu shot do not get one.

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

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Posted October 16, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At least 17 Ebola cases have been treated outside of West Africa in the current outbreak, including two Dallas hospital workers who have tested positive for Ebola. Most of these involve health and aid workers who contracted Ebola in West Africa and were transported back to their home country for treatment. Four cases were diagnosed outside of West Africa: A Liberian man who began showing symptoms four days after arriving in Dallas, a Spanish nurse who became ill after treating a missionary in a Madrid hospital and the two Dallas hospital workers who were involved in the treatment of the Liberian man. These cases are compiled from reports by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, Doctors Without Borders and other official agencies.

Read it all and examine the map.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMedia* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaGuineaLiberiaSierra LeoneAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 15, 2014 at 1:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...this is a classic case of predatory pricing: set your price low enough long enough to do real damage to competitors, and reduce their market share, not just immediately, but in the middle to long term.

Now admittedly some pet targets may not be hurt as badly as hoped. Russia will suffer more of an opportunity loss than an actual cost from the price reduction, since the ruble has fallen significantly against the dollar. The Saudis may hope to partially displace Russia as a supplier of oil to Europe (now roughly 1/3 of the total) but refineries would need to be retooled to refine the Saudi’s light crude, so it isn’t clear whether even what amounts to bargain prices will offset this cost (and readers point out that Russian crude may also produced a better mix of distillates for European use, since they are much heavier users of diesel fuel than the US).

But aside from the not-inconsiderable economic impact, the surprise Saudi step looks to be an even bigger geopolitical winner. The US and Riyadh have been at odds for over a year; the Saudis were particularly unhappy over the US failure to try to topple Assad last summer (you may recall the intensity of the Administration warmongering versus the dubious US interest; even Congress showed an unexpected amount of backbone and made its lack of support for Syrian adventurism clear). The Saudis have also long been less than happy with the US refusal to attack Iran (which is a rare case of the US acting as a responsible hegemon and curbing a putative ally with a bad case of blood lust). That unhappiness has ben compounded by the US now effectively helping the Assad regime and working in as distanced a manner as possible with Iran in targeting ISIS.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.EuropeRussiaMiddle EastIranSaudi ArabiaSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 15, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The church has faced steep losses since the early 2000s with a perfect storm of changing demographics, low fertility and departures by traditionalists.

The 2013 reporting year saw a continuation of the downward trend, with a membership drop of 27,423 to 1,866,758 (1.4 percent) while attendance dropped 16,451 to 623,691 (2.6 percent). A net 45 parishes were closed, and the denomination has largely ceased to plant new congregations.

The new numbers do not factor in the departure of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, of which the church continues to report over 28,000 members and over 12,000 attendees, despite the majority of South Carolina congregations severing their relationship with the Episcopal Church at the end of 2012. If South Carolina departures were factored in, the membership loss would be closer to 50,000 persons.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Departing ParishesTEC DataTEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted October 14, 2014 at 3:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

They have health insurance, but still no peace of mind. Overall, 1 in 4 privately insured adults say they doubt they could pay for a major unexpected illness or injury.

A new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research may help explain why President Barack Obama faces such strong headwinds in trying to persuade the public that his health care law is holding down costs.

The survey found the biggest financial worries among people with so-called high-deductible plans that require patients to pay a big chunk of their medical bills each year before insurance kicks in.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinancePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted October 14, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a state where legal marijuana seemingly is everywhere, Colorado public health officials have taken an unusual approach to warning teenagers about the dangers of the drug: likening young pot smokers to laboratory animals.

Concerned about a potential jump in youth marijuana use now that the state has legalized the drug for adults, Colorado is displaying three human-size cages in various communities with signs that bear provocative messages about the drug’s pitfalls, as part of its “Don’t Be A Lab Rat” campaign.

“Does Marijuana really cause schizophrenia in teenagers? Smoke and find out,” one sign says. “Subjects needed. Must be a teenager. Must smoke weed. Must have 8 IQ points to spare,” reads another.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesMediaTeens / Youth* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 13, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital health care worker in Dallas who had “extensive contact” with the first Ebola patient to die in the United States has contracted the disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta confirmed the news Sunday afternoon after an official test.

The infected person detected a fever Friday night and drove herself to the Presbyterian emergency room, where she was placed in isolation 90 minutes later. A blood sample sent to the state health lab in Austin confirmed Saturday night that she had Ebola — the first person to contract the disease in the United States.

The director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Sunday that the infection in the health care worker, who was not on the organization’s watch list for people who had contact with Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, resulted from a “breach in protocol.”

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

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Posted October 12, 2014 at 4:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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