Posted by Kendall Harmon

We Americans live in a society awash in historical celebrations. The last few years have witnessed commemorations of the bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase (2003) and the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II (2005). But one significant milestone has gone strangely unnoticed: the 200th anniversary of Jan. 1, 1808, when the importation of slaves into the United States was prohibited.

This neglect stands in striking contrast to the many scholarly and public events in Britain that marked the 2007 bicentennial of that country's banning of the slave trade. There were historical conferences, museum exhibits, even a high-budget film, "Amazing Grace," about William Wilberforce, the leader of the parliamentary crusade that resulted in abolition.

What explains this divergence? Throughout the 1780s, the horrors of the Middle Passage were widely publicized on both sides of the Atlantic, and by 1792 the British Parliament stood on the verge of banning the trade. But when war broke out with revolutionary France, the idea was shelved. Final prohibition came in 1807, and it proved a major step toward the abolition of slavery in the empire.

What explains this divergence? Throughout the 1780s, the horrors of the Middle Passage were widely publicized on both sides of the Atlantic, and by 1792 the British Parliament stood on the verge of banning the trade. But when war broke out with revolutionary France, the idea was shelved. Final prohibition came in 1807, and it proved a major step toward the abolition of slavery in the empire.

The British campaign against the African slave trade not only launched the modern concern for human rights as an international principle, but today offers a usable past for a society increasingly aware of its multiracial character. It remains a historic chapter of which Britons of all origins can be proud.

In the United States, however, slavery not only survived the end of the African trade but embarked on an era of unprecedented expansion.

Read the whole article.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 30, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I wrote about this fear on my blog, and while the response was mostly positive, some liberals called me paranoid, or expressed doubt about why any teacher would nix the particular texts I listed. I guarantee you that these people do not work in higher education, or if they do they are at least two decades removed from the job search. The academic job market is brutal. Teachers who are not tenured or tenure-track faculty members have no right to due process before being dismissed, and there's a mile-long line of applicants eager to take their place. And as writer and academic Freddie DeBoer writes, they don't even have to be formally fired — they can just not get rehired. In this type of environment, boat-rocking isn't just dangerous, it's suicidal, and so teachers limit their lessons to things they know won't upset anybody.

This shift in student-teacher dynamic placed many of the traditional goals of higher education — such as having students challenge their beliefs — off limits. While I used to pride myself on getting students to question themselves and engage with difficult concepts and texts, I now hesitate. What if this hurts my evaluations and I don't get tenure? How many complaints will it take before chairs and administrators begin to worry that I'm not giving our customers — er, students, pardon me — the positive experience they're paying for? Ten? Half a dozen? Two or three?

This phenomenon has been widely discussed as of late, mostly as a means of deriding political, economic, or cultural forces writers don't much care for. Commentators on the left and right have recently criticized the sensitivity and paranoia of today's college students. They worry about the stifling of free speech, the implementation of unenforceable conduct codes, and a general hostility against opinions and viewpoints that could cause students so much as a hint of discomfort.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 25, 2015 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



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

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Posted July 22, 2015 at 7:07 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nigeria felt slighted when President Obama overlooked the vast nation on his first African trip as head of state in 2009, instead visiting its shrimp-sized neighbor, Ghana, where he lauded the smaller country's democratic achievements.

Obama left Nigeria out again in his 2013 visit to Africa. Now, as he prepares for his third and likely final trip to the continent as president, Nigeria is once more being bypassed in favor of Kenya and Ethiopia.

If democratic achievements play a role in the president's itinerary, Nigerians may be wondering: Why?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeriaAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted July 20, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...were you to tell a clerk you were interested in reading some morally serious contemporary writing, you might be introduced to the books of New York Times bestselling author David Shields.

Sophisticated, ambitious, and widely praised as an exemplar of our age’s ethical-literary sensibility, Shields offers a polemically narcissistic, aggressively atheistic vision of how and why literature should ­matter to us, premised upon the willfully inward, selfish turn that follows from rejecting God and religion. If ­Augustine counseled us to read literature as a means of increasing our love of our neighbors and ultimately our love of God, Shields counsels us to read literature to increase our love of ourselves, because there’s no one else that matters.

As he declares in his most influential work, Reality Hunger: A Manifesto, “So: no more masters, no more masterpieces. What I want (instead of God the novelist) is self-portrait in a convex mirror.”

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 20, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Clint Dempsey scored on a fourth-minute header, added a pair of second-half goals for his first international hat trick, and the United States routed Cuba 6-0 on Saturday to reach its eighth straight CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal.

Dempsey converted a penalty kick early in the second half and added a late goal to raise his tournament-leading total to six. Dempsey's 57 international goals are 10 behind Landon Donovan's American record.

Gyasi Zardes, Aron Johannsson and Omar Gonzalez also scored as the Americans built a 4-0 halftime lead against a Cuban team depleted by five absent players who may have defected.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 18, 2015 at 6:38 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Major Problem I See with American Culture Today

We (America) claim to be a pluralistic society; we celebrate “otherness.” Of course there are individuals and subcultures that strongly oppose pluralism and want to impose their worldview, form of life, on everyone. In fact, that is exactly the problem I see and here decry.

We pretend to be pluralistic when, in fact, we are not. Sure, in the grassroots, pluralism abounds. In public spaces, however, the two values that are expected of everyone are consumerism and tolerance of every point of view and lifestyle—even to the point that people who wish no harm to anyone but who have strongly held personal opinions about right and wrong are looked at as intolerant, as enemies of “freedom.”

We have by-and-large confused tolerance with relativism. If a person or group holds and expresses strong beliefs about right and wrong, especially about behaviors that are assumed not to hurt anyone, he or they are widely criticized as intolerant.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 18, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On Thursday, 24-year-old Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez opened fire at an armed forces recruiting center and a Navy Reserve center in Chattanooga. The apparent anti-military rampage left four Marines and one Navy petty officer dead. We will be updating the page with more information as we learn more. Here are their stories.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 18, 2015 at 8:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The narratives that help illustrate the lack of professional ethics at American universities occur with greater and greater frequency, though most often we fail to note them as such.

If we put our minds to it, we can remember quite a number of unethical stories at American universities in recent years: the sex abuse case that prompted the firing of the president and football coach at Penn State; the pepper-spraying of students at the University of California at Davis; the tragic hazing death of marching band member Robert Champion at Florida A and M University.

These are stories that happened at universities, and their settings, I believe, are not incidental to the narratives. As an author of University Ethics: How Colleges Can Build and Benefit from a Culture of Ethics, I believe our universities are breeding these scandals and ethical compromise. But rarely, even when the press exposes something shameful about a university, do we identify the issue as a lack of ethics.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 17, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Like 1.6 billion Muslims around the world fasting during the holy month of Ramadan, Jeff Cook has been rising before dawn each morning to have breakfast. He doesn’t eat again until breaking his fast with dinner.

But Mr. Cook isn’t Muslim, doesn’t have close Muslims friends, and has never been inside a mosque. The Christian pastor from Greeley, Colo., is fasting for the 30 days of Ramadan, which ends Friday, as part of a nascent effort among American Christians to better understand and support Muslims.

Mr. Cook posted a photo of himself on Twitter holding a sign that read: “I’m Jeff—A Christian in America. I’ll be fasting in solidarity #Christians4Ramadan.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchDieting/Food/NutritionHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

10 Comments
Posted July 17, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The percentage of Americans naming race relations or racism as the most important problem facing the country increased to 9% this month, up from 3% in June. Mentions of race relations as a top problem have risen and fallen multiple times over the past seven months as racially charged events have dominated and then faded from the news cycle.

Americans' mentions of racism and race relations as the most important problem facing the country spiked in December 2014 to 13% amid protests over high-profile incidents of police brutality toward blacks in Staten Island, New York, Ferguson, Missouri, and other places across the U.S. This was the highest figure since May 1992 when 15% of Americans said racism was the top problem after the verdict in the Rodney King case sparked riots in many parts of the U.S.

Read it all.



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

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Posted July 17, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The FBI is investigating two attacks on military centers in Chattanooga in which four members of the military were killed, leading to lockdowns at local hospitals as well as the Army Recruiting Center on Lee highway as well as the Naval and Marine Reserve Center at the Chattanooga Riverpark, where the shots were fired.

A single shooter, identified as 24-year-old Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, drove a silver Ford Mustang convertible to a Lee Highway recruiting center and began firing shots at 10:45 a.m., then led police on a chase to the Amnicola Highway location, where further shots were fired.

Abdulazeez was believed to have been born in Kuwait, and it was unclear whether he was a U.S. or Kuwaiti citizen. It was not immediately clear whether the gunman's first name was spelled Muhammad or Mohammad.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 16, 2015 at 6:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This is an all too little known tale--take the time to watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistorySportsUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted July 16, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Criticism: Thousands of Iranian centrifuges will keep spinning.

The deal doesn't dismantle or close Iran's two uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordow. It does require Iran to reduce its centrifuge inventory by two-thirds and eliminate 98% of its stockpile of enriched uranium. Iran will be allowed to keep about 6,100 centrifuges for the next 10 years and continue some enrichment work.

White House response: Iran's inventory of centrifuges will be cut drastically from nearly 20,000, which is enough to create fuel for as many as 10 bombs. It will be left with only its oldest and least efficient models. No enrichment will be allowed at Fordow, and other activities will be restricted to producing uranium enriched to a level of 3.67%, far below the nearly 90% usually required to make a bomb.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 15, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From all this, the Religion Guy draws three conclusions for journalists.

*Religious groups and their beliefs are far more complex than the news media typically indicate.

* Strong internal disagreements afflict several denominations – the biggest right out in the open being the United Methodist Church – and will continue to make news.

* Finally, and most obvious, a sizable and variegated lineup of religious believers feels bound to strongly resist America’s new redefinition of marriage for the indefinite future.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 14, 2015 at 4:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some social conservatives are so despondent that they speak about retreating from the public space and into their homes and churches, rediscovering “the monastic temperament” prevalent during the Dark Ages.

This response would be a tragedy for society. For all its limitations, the fundamental values cherished by the religious – notably, family – have never been more important, and more in need of moral assistance. The current progressive cultural wave may itself begin to “overreach” as it moves from the certainty of liberal sentiment to ever more repressive attempts to limit alternative views of the world, including those of the religious.

In the next few years, social conservatives need to engage, but in ways that transcend doctrinal concerns about homosexuality, or even abortion. It has to be made clear that, on its current pace, Western civilization and, increasingly, much of East Asia are headed toward a demographic meltdown as people eschew family formation for the pleasures of singleness or childlessness.

Although sensible for many individuals, the decision to detach from familialism augurs poorly for societies, which will be forced to place enormous burdens on a smaller young generation to support an ever-expanding cadre of retirees. It also frames a spiritual crisis in which people no longer look out for their relatives, but only for themselves, inevitably becoming dependent on government to provide the succor that used to come from families.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted July 14, 2015 at 3:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

My own cherished topic is this: Liberalism's decline from a political philosophy of pluralism into a rigidly intolerant dogma.

The decline is especially pronounced on a range of issues wrapped up with religion and sex. For a time, electoral self-interest kept these intolerant tendencies in check, since the strongly liberal position on social issues was clearly a minority view. But the cultural shift during the Obama years that has led a majority of Americans to support gay marriage seems to have opened the floodgates to an ugly triumphalism on the left.

The result is a dogmatic form of liberalism that threatens to poison American civic life for the foreseeable future. Conservative Reihan Salam describes it, only somewhat hyperbolically, as a form of "weaponized secularism."

The rise of dogmatic liberalism is the American left-wing expression of the broader trend that Mark Lilla identified in a recent blockbuster essay for The New Republic. The reigning dogma of our time, according to Lilla, is libertarianism....

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 14, 2015 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Iran and six world powers sealed a historic accord to curb the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program in return for ending sanctions, capping two years of tough diplomacy with the biggest breakthrough in relations in decades.

Diplomats reached the agreement in Vienna in their 18th day of talks, officials involved in the negotiations said. A final meeting was scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m. local time.

The deal, if approved by the U.S. Congress, promises to end a 12-year standoff that has crippled Iran’s economy and drawn threats of military action from the U.S. and Israel. Full implementation would take months and be contingent on the pace at which Iran meets its obligations. It would enable the oil-rich nation to ramp up energy exports, access international funding and open its doors to global investors.

“This is probably going to go down in history as one of the biggest diplomatic successes of the century,” Ellie Geranmayeh, a policy fellow at the European Council of Foreign Relations, said by phone from London.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran

5 Comments
Posted July 14, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Of course, everything turns on the accuracy of the surveys. Most of us, not being statisticians, more or less take them on faith. If Wuthnow is right, though, our faith is misguided. He points out that many surveys of American religion have serious methodological flaws. For example, religion does not always lend itself to straightforward yes/no questions of the sort surveyors ask. In addition, pollsters sometimes fail to account for regional and racial variations.

Most important, response rates are very low. The typical response rate nowadays is about nine or 10 percent, and rarely exceeds 15 percent. “In other words,” Wuthnow writes, “upwards of 90 percent of the people who should have been included in a poll for it to be nationally representative are missing. They were either unreachable or refused to participate.” With such poor response rates, it’s hard to know what the polls reveal about religion in America. This problem is compounded by the fact that the media present the results as accurate representations of what Americans believe—a misimpression that the polling industry, now worth a billion dollars a year, is understandably reluctant to correct—and by the fact that most of us “are unlikely to wade through obscure methodological appendices to learn if the response rate was respectable or not.”

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 13, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

KIM LAWTON, managing editor: What have the events in South Carolina, the debate over the flag and also the tragic shooting in the church—what have they revealed about where we are on these issues?

PROFESSOR TRULEAR: I think they reveal two things, really, and they’re parallel tracks unfortunately, but hopefully they’ll merge up in the distance like regular railroad tracks do. One is uncovered the depth of racism in our country and the ways in which our nation still remains deeply divided. But it’s also uncovered some real people of goodwill. A spirit of forgiveness that started with the families forgiving the young man that shot their family members. And also groups of people from across the country that are holding interfaith rallies and prayer vigils for healing of this racial divide that we have. I don’t think he started, wanted to start a race war. I think we already have the division in place. He’s uncovered it, and now we’re working very hard to try to do some healing.

LAWTON: And what’s the role of the faith community in doing that healing?

PROFESSOR TRULEAR: The faith community is founded on forgiveness.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 12, 2015 at 12:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Kevin Kruse’s Under God: How Corporate American Invented Christian America is an engaging and important book with a somewhat misleading central argument.

Kruse explains how many things Americans take for granted came to be: the presence of “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, the adoption of “In God We Trust” as a national motto, the annual “presidential” prayer breakfast, and the presidential practice of ending speeches with “may God bless America.” Although “In God We Trust” has a longer history, many elements of American civil religion have their roots not in the American founding but in the more recent past.

Nor did expressions of public piety bubble up from the pews. Instead, a coalition of politically conservative business leaders forged ties with likeminded ministers, evangelists, and politicians to fight against New Deal liberalism, Communism, and immorality. Kruse describes their agenda as “Christan libertarianism.” Many individuals played leading roles in this cause: the Congregationalist minister James Fifield, Goodwill Industries founder Abraham Vereide, philanthropist J. Howard Pew, Ronald Reagan, Walt Disney. But the two foremost heroes (or villains, depending on your perspective) were Dwight Eisenhower and Billy Graham.

Read it all from Christianity Today.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 11, 2015 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As some U.S. states have legalized marijuana for recreational and medicinal use, 30% of Americans say legalization will make driving in those states a lot less safe. Another 17% expect it to make driving a little less safe. Half of Americans, however, say it will not make much of a difference.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologySociologyTravel* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted July 11, 2015 at 12:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

1. Americans remain deeply divided on the issue.
While there are plenty of demographic groups that lean heavily in one direction or the other, the general population remains divided in their support of legal same-sex marriage. About half of the general population supports the recent Supreme Court decision (49%). Just over four in 10 Americans disagree with the decision (43%) and 7 percent say they don’t know how they feel about it. Americans are split, as well, on whether legalized same-sex marriage will have a positive (37%) or negative impact (40%) on society. Divisions also emerge when it comes to whether legalizing same-sex marriage is morally right (52%) or morally wrong (43%). And similar proportions of Americans believe same-sex marriage is protected by the Constitution (52%) or say it is unconstitutional (38%).

2. However, most agree that legal same-sex marriage was inevitable.
Americans may be divided on how they feel about the decision, but most perceived the decision to be only a matter of time. Six in 10 Americans say legalization was an inevitability (62%). Evangelicals*—a group Barna defines according to their stance on a number of theological beliefs, outlined below—remain an exception: Just three in 10 say same-sex marriage was a foregone conclusion (31%), half that of the general population. Interestingly, a slim majority of Americans reject the idea that the same-sex marriage movement could accurately be compared to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s (55%).

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted July 11, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The nation’s capital could be on track to join those U.S. jurisdictions where terminally ill patients can legally seek to end their lives with medication prescribed by physicians.

D.C. lawmakers on Friday held a hearing on the Death With Dignity Act of 2015, which would authorize doctors to prescribe lethal medication to patients who have been given six months or less to live and wish to die on their own terms.

The bill, introduced by ­D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), is modeled on the assisted-suicide law in Oregon, where more than 850 terminally ill patients have taken their lives in the 18 years since the statute was passed.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 11, 2015 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The question is posed: Can the United States go on as it has been with a good portion of its working class almost entirely isolated from the promise of our country?

It is a yes or no question. A “yes” involves the acceptance of a rigid, self-perpetuating class system in a country with democratic and egalitarian pretentions — a system upheld and enforced by heavy-handed policing, routine incarceration and social and educational segregation.

A “no” is just the start of a very difficult task. The mixed legacy of the Great Society — helping the elderly get health care, it turns out, is easier than creating opportunity in economically and socially decimated communities — has left the national dialogue on poverty ideologically polarized. And many policy proposals in this field seem puny in comparison to the Everest of need.

But there is one set of related policy ideas that would dramatically help the poor and should not be ideologically divisive. How about a renewed effort to help the poor by refusing to cheat them?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGamblingLaw & Legal IssuesMediaPovertyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted July 10, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Bishop William White of Philadelphia became a bishop in 1787, he was No. 2 in the Episcopal Church's chain of apostolic succession.

When Bishop V. Gene Robinson was consecrated in 2003 -- the first openly gay, noncelibate Episcopal bishop -- he was No. 993. This fact was more than a trivia-game answer during a recent sermon that represented a triumphant moment both for Robinson and his church's liberal establishment.

Standing on White's grave before the altar of historic Christ Church, the former New Hampshire bishop quipped that he did "feel a little rumble" when he referenced the recent Episcopal votes to approve same-sex marriage rites. But Robinson was convinced White was not rolling over in his grave.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychologySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

6 Comments
Posted July 10, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Using nine pens — one each for the families of the victims of the Charleston church killings last month — Nikki Haley on Thursday signed a historic measure that will remove the Statehouse’s Confederate battle flag.

The flag will fly above the Confederate Soldier Monument on the Capitol grounds one more night before being lowered in a ceremony at 10 a.m. Friday and taken to a museum in Columbia where it will be displayed with other Civil War relics.

Attended by dozens of lawmakers, three former South Carolina governors and civil rights activist the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the bill signing was held under the Capitol dome from which the Confederate flag had flown for decades as a show of defiance against integration before being moved to the monument 15 years ago.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina

0 Comments
Posted July 9, 2015 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some Christians are worried that their churches will lose their tax-exempt status as a result of the Supreme Court's decision declaring gay marriage a constitutional right. I'm worried that my church will cease to exist altogether, or at least in its present form.

The United Methodist Church is the largest mainline Protestant denomination in America. Following decades of steep membership losses across all these historic churches, that's kind of like being the tallest building in Topeka. But only the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention have more U.S. members, and the United Methodist Church's international membership is actually growing.

Almost alone among mainline Protestant churches, the United Methodists have remained committed to orthodox Christian standards of sexual morality. Clergy must be celibate when single and monogamous in marriage, which is defined as the union of a man and a woman. Methodist pastors are not permitted to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies.

Read it all.


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

1 Comments
Posted July 9, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was a rough day for tech: The nation’s biggest airline, its oldest stock exchange, and its most prominent business newspaper all suffered technology problems that upended service for parts of Wednesday.

Government officials said that it did not appear that the incidents were related, or the result of sabotage, counter to an endless stream of jokes and conspiracy theories posted on Facebook and Twitter — and even the suspicions of FBI director James Comey.

“In my business, you don’t love coincidences,” Comey told Congress Wednesday. “But it does appear that there is not a cyber intrusion involved.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetMediaScience & TechnologyTravel* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeStock Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 8, 2015 at 4:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The smartphone has become a focal part of our day, in both our work life and our personal life. It has become a vital component of the business arena. We use it to communicate with others, make purchases, follow the news, access entertainment and keep us on time for our daily appointments.

This week on Gallup.com, we explore the rising ubiquity of smartphones in the U.S. today. We will report results from a special survey of more than 15,000 smartphone users' habits, including how often Americans use their smartphones and whether they think it has made their lives better. How often do they buy items with a smartphone, or do they prefer a computer for online purchases? Do they use it to manage their finances? When a new smartphone comes out, do users need to upgrade right away or can they wait until their current phone stops working?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & TechnologySociology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted July 8, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

News that rates of heroin use doubled among women over the past decade doesn't surprise Shea, who's 26 and pregnant. She's also a newly clean addict.

It also doesn't surprise the staff at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Perinatal Addiction Treatment program in New Hampshire, where Shea got help to reduce the odds of giving birth to an addicted baby.

"I came to treatment because I wanted to get well and I wanted to take care of my son and I wanted to get the chance to be a mother," Shea, who asked that her last name not be used, told NBC News.

Shea got off heroin with the help of the program — set up to help women get clean before they give birth, so their babies won't be born addicted.

Read it all (video well worthwhile).



Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted July 8, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Primed by widespread use of prescription opioid pain-killers, heroin addiction and the rate of fatal overdoses have increased rapidly over the past decade, touching parts of society that previously were relatively unscathed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday.

The death rate from overdoses nearly quadrupled to 2.7 per 100,000 people between 2002 and 2013, CDC Director Tom Frieden said during a telephone news conference Tuesday. In 60 percent of those cases, the cause of death was attributed to heroin and at least one other drug, often cocaine, according to Chris Jones, lead author of the report and a member of the Food and Drug Administration's Office of Public Health Strategy and Analysis.

But it is the highly addictive pain-killing opioids, prescribed and sometimes over-prescribed by physicians who are not highly trained in pain management, that concerns officials most, Frieden said.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 8, 2015 at 5:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Recognizing they lacked votes in a key Assembly committee, authors of legislation that would have allowed terminally ill Californians to legally end their lives pulled the bill Tuesday morning.

Senate Bill 128, the End of Life Option Act, had already cleared the state Senate, but faced opposition in the Assembly Health Committee. That included a group of southern California Democrats, almost all of whom are Latino, after the archbishop of Los Angeles increased its advocacy efforts in opposition to the bill.

"We continue to work with Assembly members to ensure they are comfortable with the bill," said a joint statement from Sens. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, and Bill Monning, D-Monterey, and Assemblywoman Susan Eggman, D-Stockton. "For dying Californians like Jennifer Glass, who was scheduled to testify today, this issue is urgent. We remain committed to passing the End of Life Option Act for all Californians who want and need the option of medical aid in dying."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 8, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Putting aside legal arguments about hidden autonomy rights in the Fourteenth Amendment, the Court justifies its decision on the basis of the “new insight” that procreation is accidental to marriage. Its warrant for this claim is that social changes, including recognition of the equal dignity and rights of women, “have worked deep transformations in the structure of marriage, affecting aspects of marriage once viewed as essential” (2, my emphasis). Thus, the Court claims, there is precedent for the view that the procreative potential once thought essential to marriage is in fact no more central to the institution than the race, precedents embodied in the Court’s previous affirmation of liberty rights to contraception and sodomy in Griswold and Lawrence. Rather, the Court now believes that what is essential to marriage is the autonomy right of “self-definition” in one’s intimate relationships and the right to be esteemed for this choice.

If this claim about the essence of marriage was either true or insightful, it would indeed be momentous. Unfortunately, it is neither. The Court’s argument rests on an insidious and profound misunderstanding of what “essential” means—let alone what the essence of marriage is—and a majoritarian understanding of moral progress. While real moral progress often does require us to distinguish what is essential from what is accidental—as when the Court correctly held that race is accidental to the institution of marriage—the Court’s current use of the term invalidates the very distinction it wishes to invoke.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 7, 2015 at 11:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The question before the Supreme Court in Obergefell was not whether a male-female marriage policy is the best or whether government-recognized same-sex marriage is better, but only whether anything in the Constitution specifically took away the power of the people to choose their marriage policy. Yet the Court spoke almost exclusively about its “new insights” into marriage, and was virtually silent on the Constitution. That’s because it had no choice. Our Constitution is itself silent on what marriage is; We the People retain the authority to make marriage policy.

The Court claimed to show that the marriage policy that has existed in the United States for all its history is now prohibited by the Constitution. It failed to do that. As I explain in my forthcoming book, Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom, what the Court actually did was to assume that marriage is an essentially genderless institution and then announce that the Constitution requires states to adopt that same vision of marriage in their laws.

This is all the more remarkable, given that during oral arguments on Obergefell Justice Kennedy pointed out that marriage as the union of man and woman “has been with us for millennia. And it—it’s very difficult for the Court to say, oh, well, we—we know better.” Kennedy at least pretended to be reluctant to redefine marriage judicially. Redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships has, Kennedy pointed out, only been around for ten years. And, he added, “10 years is—I don’t even know how to count the decimals when we talk about millennia.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 7, 2015 at 8:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"Part of liberalism is tolerating illiberality," Mr Freiman rightly says. In the absence of credible evidence that plural marriage in America today would be any more inegalitarian or socially harmful than the old-fashioned patriarchal monogamous marriages that millions of Americans already have, it's hard to justify, at least on liberal grounds, our legal prohibition against more than two consenting adults freely entering into a marital arrangement. As I've argued before, many of the unseemly and unhealthy aspects of existing American polygamous "marriages" are a side-effect of our having made them illegal, and a target for disgust and contempt, much as homosexuality was within living memory.

Perhaps there are other, excellent arguments against legalising plural marriage. But for now, not even extremely sophisticated liberals are making them. Messrs Rauch and Macedo's claims about the harms that would ensue from legalising plural marriage have the same speculative character as some conservative arguments against legal gay marriage. This ought to pique some concern.

Fredrik deBoer, writing in Politico, speculates that liberal opponents of plural marriage remain "trapped ... in prior opposition that they voiced from a standpoint of political pragmatism in order to advance the cause of gay marriage". This is probably right. Now that gay marriage is finally legal from sea to shining sea, it's time for liberals to refine their arguments against polygamy. We need better, more rationally compelling arguments if we wish to be fair in shutting against would-be polygamists the libertarian door that we've just blasted open.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 7, 2015 at 5:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Instead, Kennedy fashioned the opinion around another part of the 14th Amendment, holding that denial of marriage licenses infringed on the liberty of gay men and women by restricting their right to due process. As Justice Clarence Thomas correctly pointed out, liberty under the Constitution has largely been defined as protection against physical restraints or broader government interference — “not as a right to a particular governmental entitlement.” While Kennedy makes a powerful case for an expansive new view of due process, he extends the concept of liberty far beyond prior decisions.

In reality, he has been building to this moment for years, culminating in what might now be called a right to dignity. In his 1992 Casey decision, he upheld Roe v. Wade on the basis of “personal dignity and autonomy [that] are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.” Kennedy wove this concept of protected dignity through a series of cases, from gay rights to prison lawsuits, including his historic 2003 Lawrence decision striking down the criminalization of homosexuality. These rulings on liberty peaked with Obergefell, which he described as an effort of the petitioners to secure “equal dignity in the eyes of the law.” He used the word “dignity” almost a dozen times in his decision and laid down a jurisprudential haymaker: “The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

4 Comments
Posted July 7, 2015 at 4:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The wait is over for the United States.

The reign is over for Japan.

On the strength of Carli Lloyd's first-half hat trick and goals from Lauren Holiday and Tobin Heath, the United States beat Japan 5-2 in Sunday's World Cup final. As a result, for the first time since 1999, the United States holds the sport's most important trophy.

It was the second consecutive win for the United States against Japan in the final of a major tournament, following a win in the gold medal match of the 2012 Olympics, and it leaves the Americans in possession of both of the major titles in women's soccer for the first time since 1999, a year that now shares status as the American high-water mark.

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 6, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Take a look at all 14.

Filed under: * General InterestPhotos/Photography* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted July 4, 2015 at 7:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A pilot who delivered candy to children in Berlin at the end of World War II parachuted sweets down to Orem to celebrate Independence Day.

Gail Halvorsen, 94, also known as the "Candy Bomber," dropped 1,000 chocolate bars attached to tiny parachutes at Scera Park on Friday. He flew over the area three times before releasing the cargo into the hands of the children below.

Deb Jackson, co-chair of the event, estimated more than 50,000 people stood in 100-degree temperatures to watch the 4 p.m. drop.

Halvorsen flew in a fixed-wing bomber from World War II with two escort planes attending, the Daily Herald of Provo reported.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMilitary / Armed Forces* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted July 4, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 4, 2015 at 2:39 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted July 4, 2015 at 1:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 4, 2015 at 12:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMilitary / Armed ForcesMusic* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted July 4, 2015 at 12:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 4, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



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

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

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Posted July 4, 2015 at 11:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

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

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Posted July 4, 2015 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

--Francis Scott Key (1779-1843)

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

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Posted July 4, 2015 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted July 4, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

----David McCullough, 1776

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

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Posted July 4, 2015 at 7:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In Congress, July 4, 1776.

The UNANIMOUS DECLARATION of the THIRTEEN UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted July 4, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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Posted July 4, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nearly seven in 10 millennials, or 69% of those ages 18 to 34, say they have it harder than previous generations in securing a middle-class lifestyle. But the story doesn’t stop at younger Americans feeling they have it harder than older generations. Seventy-seven percent of seniors say that young people today have a harder time achieving a secure middle-class lifestyle compared with their counterparts 20 or 30 years ago. The share of seniors with this view is striking, particularly given that many of them have lived through the Great Depression, World War II, Stagflation, the stock market crash of 1987, and, most recently, the Great Recession.

More than seven in 10 Americans also believe that millennials have it harder when it comes to saving for retirement (81%); owning a home (76%); having a stable, decent-paying job (71%); and having stable, affordable housing (71%).

These are some of the findings from a recent Hart Research survey conducted for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s How Housing Matters Initiative. It also found that millennials are concerned about their housing situation and that many have had personal experience with housing distress. This has caused them to re-assess the feasibility of homeownership, with many millennial homeowners considering whether to rent in the future.

Read it all.

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Posted July 3, 2015 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Before the bullets and bloodshed in the movie theater, Stefan Moton was a teenager who did push-ups and boxing exercises in his bedroom, his dreams fixed on becoming a mixed martial arts fighter. Now, his goals are humbler: Strengthen the sections of his upper body that he can still move. Maybe get a new tattoo. Feed himself again.

“I just try to push it aside and move on,” he said. “Focus on getting better.”

Mr. Moton, 21, who was shot through the spine and left paralyzed from the chest down, is among scores of survivors who have taken the witness stand in the murder trial of James E. Holmes, the former neuroscience graduate student charged with carrying out the midnight rampage at a multiplex here in July 2012. But testimony is narrowly focused on the scene inside Theater 9 and whether the gunman was legally sane or insane when he opened fire. Many stories of Aurora’s painful legacy, which families say remains as raw and urgent as ever, have gone untold in court.

Read it all.

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Posted July 3, 2015 at 8:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The bishops agreed to allow clergy to begin offering same-sex marriages using the new rites after Nov. 1. However, no clergy could be compelled to perform a same-sex marriage, and a bishop had the authority to forbid his clergy from celebrating gay marriages.

The former bishop of Virginia, Peter Lee, explained to the bishops in Salt Lake City the accommodation meant that a conservative priest in a liberal diocese would incur no penalty if he refused to perform a same-sex marriage. The priest would, however, have to pass a couple seeking to be married on to another church or priest to perform the ceremony.

Priests in dioceses where the bishop forbid same-sex marriages may not solemnize gay marriages. A priest who did so would be liable for punishment for disobeying the bishop. A diocese that does not perform gay marriages must pass the couple on to another part of the church that permits gay marriage.

Read it all.

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Posted July 2, 2015 at 3:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nathan Collier said he was inspired by the recent Supreme Court decision that made marriage equal. He said he was particularly struck by the words of dissenting Chief Justice John Roberts who claimed giving gay couples the right to marry, might inspire polygamy.

And so this week, Mr Collier and his two wives, Victoria and Christine, entered a courthouse in Billings, Montana, and sought an application to legalise the trio’s polygamous union,

“Right now we're waiting for an answer," Mr Collier told The Independent. “I have two wives because I love two women and I want my second wife to have the same legal rights and protection as my first.”

He added: "Most people are not us. I am not trying to define what marriage means for anybody else - I am trying to define what marriage means for us."

Read it all.

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Posted July 2, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What does this show us? Three things, I think.

It shows us that tolerance is over. I’m not breaking new ground here–but this must be said. Tolerance is dead. Oppenheimer’s piece ran all of two days after the SCOTUS decision on same-sex marriage. He wants to crush those who dare to stand against the fullest possible acceptance of what Harvard professor Harvey Mansfield has called “samesexuality.” Sexuality liberated from any constraints is now a full-blown worldview. This is paganism, 21st-century version. The body is all; sex is all.

The hippies now wear steel-toed boots. The earlier “free love” movement was all about doing what you want–live and let live. Today’s version of this pagan impulse is militaristic–live and you better approve. There’s a menace, a fury, in this cultural momentum. There will be no tolerance. There will be no dissent. Churches and organizations that stand bravely against the rushing tide of the late stages of the sexual revolution will be crushed.

It shows us that churches and organizations doing much good are imperiled.

Read it all.

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Posted July 2, 2015 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Britain and America may now be post-Christian societies but they don’t need to become anti-Christian societies. Sadly, I see signs that we might be drifting in that direction. There is the mounting campaign to close all faith schools; the questioning of Tim Farron MP’s legitimacy to lead the Liberal Democrats because of his evangelical background; and the fear of the chief justice of the US Supreme Court that opponents of Christian morality “are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent”; no charitable status for faith-based groups and no room for believers in the public square.

Half of me can identify with the anti-religious instinct because, while I’m a Christian seeking space within a secular society, I am also a sceptic about Islam. I’m fearful that, without Christianity’s clear narrative — ending as the New Testament does with the example of Jesus — Islam is a religion that’s too easy for the likes of Seifeddine Rezgui to misinterpret. Most Muslims, of course, hate the heinous crime he committed in their name — but, regardless of what we might think about Islam, thinking the worst is not really a practical option. Nearly three million Britons are Muslims; 1.6 billion of our global neighbours see Allah as the one true God. The challenge must be to understand them and help them to reform their religion — not to drive them and it underground.

I want less vacuous talk of fairness, tolerance and generosity from our politicians. Let’s start getting specific about what we mean by “British values”. Freedom of religion should be a cornerstone of western belief and it must stand as a contrast to the many Islamic states where apostasy is punishable by death.

Read it all from the London Times (subscription required) [emphasis mine].

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Posted July 2, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The murders of 9 churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, rekindled the debate about gun control in America. But some religious leaders are advocating using armed security to defend their congregations.

One church where this is already happening is the Greater Grace Temple in Detroit which has its own 25-strong security force called "The Ministers of Defence". Charles H. Ellis III is its senior pastor.

Listen to it all (a little over 3 minutes).

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Posted July 2, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Updated with new signatories, July 7
Statement in response to the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church resolution regarding same sex marriage

We are deeply grieved again by the Episcopal Church USA (TEC) Resolution to change the definition of marriage in their church canons in their current ongoing General Convention.

By this action, TEC has chosen by its own will and actions in clear knowledge to depart from the Anglican Communion’s standard teaching on human sexuality according to Lambeth Resolution 1:10. This TEC Resolution is another example of such unilateral decisions that are taken without giving the least consideration to the possible consequences on other provinces and the Anglican Communion as a whole, the ecumenical partnerships, the mission of the church worldwide, and the interfaith relations. This Resolution clearly contradicts the Holy Scriptures and God’s plan for creation as He created humankind as man and woman to complement each other physically and emotionally.

Indeed the church must provide pastoral care for all, whether heterosexuals or homosexuals. However the church should not alter the teachings of the Holy Scriptures, that was interpreted by the majority churches globally, to provide such pastoral care. The aim of pastoral care is to restore people to the bosom of God where they encounter His love and design to live a life according to His plan. We are against any criminalization of homosexuals, they are like all of us, need God’s mercy, grace and salvation. The church is intended by its Lord to be the holy leaven to shape society by its spiritual and moral values
in line with God’s design. But sadly, by this action of TEC, the church gives way to the society to alter and shape its values. In other words the church is losing its distinctiveness as salt and light in this world.

“do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2)

This statement is approved by:
The Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer Anis, Archbishop, Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa and Chairman of the Global South.
The Most Rev. Ian Ernest, Primate of the Indian Ocean and General Secretary of the Global South.
The Most Rev. Bolly Lapok, Primate of South East Asia and treasurer of the Global South.
The Most Rev. Stephen Than Myint Oo, Primate of Myanmar.
The Most Rev. Hector “Tito” Zavala, Primate of the Anglican Church of South America.
The Rt. Rev. John Chew, member of the GS Global South steering committee, former GS chairman.
The Most Rev. Onesphore Rwaje, Primate of Rwanda.
The Most Rev. Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya
The Most Rev. Bernard Ntahoturi, Primate of Burundi

* The above mentioned GS Primates are the ones who sent their approval and amendments before posting this statement. We will add the names of those who will send their approval after.

Read it all.

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Posted July 2, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So is polygamy passé? The next slide on our slippery slope to damnation? The next rung on our steep climb towards full civil rights and equality in America?

Whatever your take, there’s no denying that last week’s SCOTUS opinions broke our collective silence on poly rights. If Friday’s ruling was about dignity and equality, as Justice Kennedy made clear, we must continue this debate.

Read it all from Brian Pellot.

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Posted July 1, 2015 at 3:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...we should call Oppenheimer’s arguments what they are: societally destructive. He seems to think that churches losing their privileged positions will be just peachy for society, because the government will then step in and execute the same work with extreme competency. His faith in big government is touching, but naive. Consider how the Great Society programs have fared. The government often does a much worse job of distributing funds and targeting local needs than community-specific outfits that must give local account for their operations.

[Also]...we should challenge Oppenheimer on the way he makes his case. He dislikes Scientology. He’s fit-to-be-tied that the group was given a tax-exemption as a religion. But Scientology is quite different from the vast spectrum of American churches. Oppenheimer has used a tiny group at the margins to deny an obvious truth about the myriad groups at the center. Oppenheimer would nuke a thriving continent to vanquish an unwanted mouse.

He also notes the awkwardness of the IRS determining what is and isn’t a church. But instead of dealing with that problem, he doubles down on it, and encourages exponentially greater government involvement to regulate congregations. A most vexing solution, this. His comments on Yale and universities are in truth a screen to hide his real target: churches, particularly those “that dissent from settled public policy on matters of race or sexuality.”

Here we behold the Oppenheimer Project with unveiled face. It isn’t really about redirecting a few odd dollars and cents currently going to religious nutjobs. It’s about smashing into oblivion those who dare to resist the late stages of the sexual revolution. They no longer deserve to thrive, or perhaps even exist, in this country.

Read it all.

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Posted July 1, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We must contend for marriage as God’s gift to humanity – a gift central and essential to human flourishing and a gift that is limited to the conjugal union of a man and a woman. We must contend for religious liberty for all, and focus our energies on protecting the rights of Christian citizens and Christian institutions to teach and operate on the basis of Christian conviction.

We cannot be silent, and we cannot join the moral revolution that stands in direct opposition to what we believe the Creator has designed, given, and intended for us. We cannot be silent, and we cannot fail to contend for marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

In one sense, everything has changed. And yet, nothing has changed. The cultural and legal landscape has changed, as we believe this will lead to very real harms to our neighbors. But our Christian responsibility has not changed. We are charged to uphold marriage as the union of a man and a woman and to speak the truth in love. We are also commanded to uphold the truth about marriage in our own lives, in our own marriages, in our own families, and in our own churches.

We are called to be the people of the truth, even when the truth is not popular and even when the truth is denied by the culture around us.

Read it all.

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Posted July 1, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One year ago I wrote in these pages about how the InterVarsity ministry at Bowdoin College, with a forty year history of ministering the Christian Gospel, was formally refused access to meet with students on campus facilities. Christian students in the Bowdoin Christian Fellowship were denied access to the funds and facilities for student activities and other benefits enjoyed generally by students participating in voluntary activities on the campus....

One year later, the ministry continues with these important changes to report.

The venue has changed. This Christian ministry, through the help of committed friends, acquired a building on the edge of campus and became a member of the Consortium of Christian Study Centers. The meetings that once took place in the college chapel, the college dining halls, and in buildings reserved for Christians to practice religious faith now take place in a converted living room at the Joseph and Alice McKeen Christian Study Center, named after the first President of Bowdoin College and his first lady.

The challenge to incarnational and invitational ministry has changed. The InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Bowdoin College previously operated primarily from a base on campus and only secondarily retreated to points beyond. Those priorities have been reversed by force of circumstance, and the ministry now operates primarily from its newly acquired space on the edge of campus.

Read it all from First Things.

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Posted July 1, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United States defeated Germany 2-0 in the Women's World Cup semifinal on Tuesday night in Montreal.

Second-half goals from Carli Lloyd and Kelley O'Hara were enough see the U.S. through to the final, where they will meet the winner of Wednesday's clash between England and defending champions Japan.

Read it all.

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Posted July 1, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One reason that this has been rather shocking to American Catholics is that we have had, at least for the last century or so, a fairly benign relationship with the environing culture. Until around 1970, there was, throughout the society and across religious boundaries, a broad moral consensus in our country, especially in regard to sexual and family matters. This is one reason why, in the 1950's, Archbishop Fulton Sheen could find such a wide and appreciative audience among Protestants and Jews, even as he laid out fundamentally Catholic perspectives on morality.

But now that consensus has largely been shattered, and the Church finds itself opposed, not so much by other religious denominations, as it was in the 19th century, but by the ideology of secularism and the self-defining individual -- admirably expressed, by the way, in Justice Kennedy's articulation of the majority position in the case under consideration.

So what do we do?

We continue to put forth our point of view winsomely, invitingly, and non-violently, loving our opponents and reaching out to those with whom we disagree. As St. John Paul II said, the Church always proposes, never imposes. And we take a deep breath, preparing for what could be some aggression from the secular society, but we take courage from a great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us.

The Church has faced this sort of thing before -- and we're still standing.

Read it all.

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Posted June 30, 2015 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[ESPN's Frank Isola said] “Starting with [coach] Pat Riley in the early ’90s, the Knicks held training camp at the College of Charleston in South Carolina for nearly 15 years. It was the team’s home away from home in early October — a time when hope is at its peak for every NBA team. The players, coaches and yes, even the curmudgeon beat writers absolutely fell in love with the place. The weather, the food, but mostly the people make Charleston the beautiful city it is today. I was there with my family last August, in fact.

“Now for all the wrong reasons, Charleston has been in the news lately. And yet in its darkest hour, Charleston sent a powerful message to the world when relatives of nine African Americans gunned down at a local church stood in a courtroom and told a hateful white man they forgive him. Thanks, Charleston.

“On Friday, President Obama delivered a moving eulogy for one of the victims, the Reverend Clementa Pinckney. He even sang ‘Amazing Grace.’ This all took place inside a basketball arena at the College of Charleston — more than ever, a symbol of hope.”

Read it all.

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Posted June 30, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Defenders of tax exemptions and deductions argues that if we got rid of them charitable giving would drop. It surely would, although how much, we can’t say. But of course government revenue would go up, and that money could be used to, say, house the homeless and feed the hungry. We’d have fewer church soup kitchens — but countries that truly care about poverty don’t rely on churches to run soup kitchens.

Exemption advocates also point out that churches would be squeezed out of high-property-value areas. But if it’s important to the people of Fifth Avenue to have a synagogue like Emanu-El or an Episcopal church like St. Thomas in their midst, they should pay full freight for it. They can afford to, more than millions of poorer New Yorkers whose tax bills the synagogue and church exemptions are currently inflating.

So yes, the logic of gay-marriage rights could lead to a reexamination of conservative churches’ tax exemptions (although, as long as the IRS is afraid of challenging Scientology’s exemption, everyone else is probably safe). But when that day comes, it will be long overdue. I can see keeping some exemptions; hospitals, in particular, are an indispensable, and noncontroversial, public good. And localities could always carve out sensible property-tax exceptions for nonprofits their communities need. But it’s time for most nonprofits, like those of us who faithfully cut checks to them, to pay their fair share.

Read it all.

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3 Comments
Posted June 28, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tywanza Sanders was shot protecting his mother. As he died he reached to help Susie Jackson.

“You don’t have to do this,” he told the man who pulled a gun on the Bible study at Emanuel AME Church. “We are no harm to you.”

Tywanza Kibwe Diop Sanders, 26, was hailed as a hero Saturday at a funeral service for him and his relative Susie Jackson, 87, in the sanctuary. So many members of the large extended family were there that church leaders had to ask mourners to give up seats so that immediate family could be seated.

Felicia Sanders, his mother, who was at the Bible study but not shot, had to be helped to her pew. She paused to gaze at her son but could not bear it for long. She lingered, gazing at Jackson, then leaned over to kiss her forehead.

Read it all.

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Posted June 28, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Cynthia Hurd’s love of books couldn’t be limited to a single library, and her “homegoing service” couldn’t be contained in a single church.

Hundreds of mourners showed up Saturday morning for the funeral of the Charleston County librarian, as the city, state and nation continue to grieve for her and the eight other lives lost in the June 17 shooting inside Emanuel AME Church.

Mother Emanuel filled quickly with mourners, and about 200 people unable to get in watched via a video feed from inside the nearby Second Presbyterian Church.

Assistant Democratic Leader U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, said he is a longtime friend of Hurd’s brother, former North Carolina Sen. Michael Graham, and one of his daughters considered Hurd her best friend, “This is a family that makes us all proud,” Clyburn said.

Read it all.

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Posted June 28, 2015 at 11:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Update (June 22): InterVarsity has given CT more details about its reinstatement at 19 California campuses.
"Cal State has not changed the language of their 'all comers' policy," said Greg Jao, vice president of campus engagement. "They have clarified that the policy only requires that (a) we allow all students to become members, which we have always done, and (b) we allow all students to apply for leadership positions.
"We have been assured that we can have a rigorous selection process which reflects InterVarsity’s mission and message as a Christian ministry," he told CT. "We’re confident in our ability to choose leaders who reflect our mission and message."

Read it all.

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Posted June 27, 2015 at 4:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Simply put, mutual responsibility towards offspring naturally demands a long-term commitment (at least 18 years) while mutual attraction and erotic desire does not. What we see in the modern world is the fracturing of a very lofty ideal of marriage back into two different kinds of relationships: those which are primarily focused on children, and those which are primarily focused on erotic love. The battle over the institution of marriage is basically a battle over whether which of these two purposes of marriage ought to have primacy.

The answer that the Supreme Court has given by ruling in favour of same-sex marriage is basically a ruling in favour of erotic love. This should surprise no one. It’s the more culturally popular option, and it’s the view of marriage that the vast majority of heterosexuals already subscribe to. It’s also, in practice, the definition that we’ve been using for a long time. The truth is that most of the material and social supports that exist to help parents with the task of raising children are no longer associated with the institution of marriage in any way – and unfortunately, the pro-family groups that could be providing financial, emotional and practical support to people who are choosing traditional marriage tend to waste their resources fighting fruitless political battles instead.

The challenge, then, is for advocates of the traditional family to stop wringing their hands over the SCOTUS decision and blaming the gays for the demise of the family, and to focus instead on renewing the practice of sacramental marriage by building up communities of support so that the traditional understanding of marriage will become practicable and attractive again.

Read it all.

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Posted June 27, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Regardless of what a narrow majority of the Supreme Court may declare at this moment in history, the nature of the human person and marriage remains unchanged and unchangeable. Just as Roe v. Wade did not settle the question of abortion over forty years ago, Obergefell v. Hodges does not settle the question of marriage today. Neither decision is rooted in the truth, and as a result, both will eventually fail. Today the Court is wrong again. It is profoundly immoral and unjust for the government to declare that two people of the same sex can constitute a marriage.

The unique meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is inscribed in our bodies as male and female. The protection of this meaning is a critical dimension of the “integral ecology” that Pope Francis has called us to promote. Mandating marriage redefinition across the country is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us, especially children. The law has a duty to support every child’s basic right to be raised, where possible, by his or her married mother and father in a stable home.

Read it all.

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Posted June 26, 2015 at 12:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Supreme Court on Friday delivered a historic victory for gay rights, ruling 5 to 4 that the Constitution requires that same-sex couples be allowed to marry no matter where they live and that states may no longer reserve the right only for heterosexual couples.

The court’s action marks the culmination of an unprecedented upheaval in public opinion and the nation’s jurisprudence. Advocates called it the most pressing civil rights issue of modern times, while critics said the courts had sent the country into uncharted territory by changing the traditional definition of marriage.

Read it all and the full text of the decision is there.

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2 Comments
Posted June 26, 2015 at 9:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“As usual, baby names are reflecting a larger cultural shift,” says BabyCenter’s Global Editor in Chief Linda Murray. “Millennials are an open-minded and accepting group, and they don’t want their children to feel pressured to conform to stereotypes that might be restrictive.”

Read it all.

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1 Comments
Posted June 26, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The work of the church is not merely to accept those of us who are transgender, asexual, bisexual, lesbian, gay, queer, and intersex. The work of the church is to accept and celebrate that the church—the body—is itself queer. The body of Christ is queer because it isn’t defined or bound by human constructs or binaries. It transcends and subverts norms and boundaries. It contains multitudes. But the body is also queer simply because its queer members are a vital component of its identity. When I was dating a cisgender (i.e., identifying with the gender assigned at birth), heterosexual man last fall, we were in a queer relationship. My queer identity made the relationship itself queer, even though he was straight. The body of Christ is queer in this same way because it contains queer identities.

It is time for the church to sit down nervously at its own Table and confront its internalized queerphobia. It is time for the body of Christ to come out. Some of us who have come out ourselves are happy to be the friend that talks the church through it.

Coming out is not easy. It is not just about moving forward in celebration and inclusion. It is about accepting that in some ways you are just now becoming acquainted with who you really are. It means recognizing you have missed opportunities for relationship, happiness, and growth. It means grieving the years lost to fear and the heartbreak of relationships with loved ones who cannot understand. It means holding with grace the wounds you will always carry.

Read it all.

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


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Posted June 26, 2015 at 7:18 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

....I haven’t encountered many defenders of U.S. counterterrorism strikes. Last year, I co-chaired a Stimson Center commission on U.S. drone policy with retired Gen. John Abizaid. The commission, which included former senior military and intelligence officials from both Obama’s and George W. Bush’s administrations, concluded in June 2014 that “the Obama administration’s heavy reliance on targeted killings as a pillar of US counterterrorism strategy rests on questionable assumptions, and risks increasing instability and escalating conflicts. While tactical strikes may have helped keep the homeland free of major terrorist attacks, existing evidence indicates that both Sunni and Shia Islamic extremist groups have grown in scope, lethality and influence in the broader area of operations in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.” In dozens of interviews and conversations with national security experts since June 2014, I have yet to find anyone who won’t admit, off the record, that U.S. counterterrorism policy is flailing badly.

So here’s the question: If no one except administration press flacks thinks the whack-a-mole approach to counterterrorism is working, why are we still using it?

To me, that’s one of the unsolved mysteries of the universe, right up there with “what is dark matter?” and “why do we yawn?” Why do smart people like Obama and his top advisors continue to rely on counterterrorism policies that aren’t working?

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 26, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two South Sudanese pastors whose legal plight is drawing comparisons to Meriam Ibrahim have been isolated by Sudan. They won’t be heard from until next Thursday, when a judge lets them speak in a Khartoum court.

The question is what role American advocacy played in their relocation to a higher-security prison earlier this month.

The families of Yat Michael (imprisoned for six months) and Peter Yen Reith (imprisoned for five months) were denied visitation on June 4. The day before, a vocal New York City pastor had attempted to visit the two Presbyterian pastors. A few days before that, a Virginia-based Christian TV network aired a telephone interview the two pastors gave from prison.

William Devlin, who pastors Infinity Bible Church in the Bronx, has long advocated for American pastors to travel to “hard, dangerous, difficult places” in support of persecuted Christians. Sudan ranks No. 6 among the world’s most difficult places to be a Christian.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissionsParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudanAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 26, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One week after the massacre at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, scores of Summervillians gathered in Hutchinson Square to pray together.

The Christian prayer vigil, organized by the Summerville branch of the NAACP, featured uplifting hymns such as “Amazing Grace” and “We Shall Overcome” and pastors from several local churches, including some who knew the victims.

“I started to decline (the invitation to speak) at first because I was so overwhelmed,” said Pastor Kenneth Gerald.

But then, he said, he remembered the Psalm that calls out for the Lord to lead the overwhelmed to a high rock.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* Theology

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Posted June 25, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Millennials, or America’s youth born between 1982 and 2000, now number 83.1 million and represent more than one quarter of the nation’s population. Their size exceeds that of the 75.4 million baby boomers, according to new U.S. Census Bureau estimates released today. Overall, millennials are more diverse than the generations that preceded them, with 44.2 percent being part of a minority race or ethnic group (that is, a group other than non-Hispanic, single-race white).

These latest population estimates examine changes among groups by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin nationally, as well as in all states and counties, between April 1, 2010, and July 1, 2014.

Even more diverse than millennials are the youngest Americans: those younger than 5 years old. In 2014, this group became majority-minority for the first time, with 50.2 percent being part of a minority race or ethnic group.

Reflecting these younger age groups, the population as a whole has become more racially and ethnically diverse in just the last decade, with the percentage minority climbing from 32.9 percent in 2004 to 37.9 percent in 2014.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchSociologyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentCensus/Census Data* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted June 25, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Brushing aside her son's concerns, Rosa Ellington plans to keep attending Wednesday evening Bible studies as she has the past 15 years, despite last week's massacre of nine black worshippers at a nearby church in Charleston, South Carolina.

The sessions had been a sustaining, if mostly uneventful, fixture of her weekly routine, until last Wednesday, when Dylann Roof, a white 21-year-old, is accused of having gunned down the people gathered at the nearly 200-year-old Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the city's historic downtown.

Wednesday night Bible study is a cornerstone of religious life across the Southern United States, and particularly in Charleston, dubbed the Holy City because of its many churches.

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 25, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You need to take the time to watch it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* TheologyEschatologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 24, 2015 at 4:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As Bishop Ernest C. Morris Sr. greeted worshipers arriving for services on Sunday at Mount Airy Church of God in Christ, a woman hurried over and asked a question on the minds of many parishioners at the large black church in Philadelphia: “Bishop, bishop, are we safe this morning?”

The massacre last week at a Bible study in Charleston, S.C., has heightened anxiety among clergy members and the faithful alike, forcing black churches in particular to grapple again with their vulnerability to violent intruders.

But even as ministers around the country report that they are fielding more questions about security, for now at least, there is no rush among churches to follow the path of airports, schools and government buildings that have added metal detectors and armed security guards in the wake of violent attacks.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 24, 2015 at 3:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the past, many families like the McDowells, whose household income is almost $100,000 a year, would already be nestled in a starter home, maybe even on the cusp of upgrading to something bigger and more expensive on the profits from their first house.

But even as the market continues to improve — sales of existing homes in May increased to their highest pace in six years, the National Association of Realtors reported on Monday, and first-timers make up 32 percent of the buyers — it is leaving millions of Americans unwillingly stuck in rental housing.

“It’s more of a new normal,” said Robert J. Shiller, an economics professor at Yale University and a Nobel laureate. “We went through a wrenching experience with the biggest housing bubble and the biggest collapse since 1890. This is an anxious time.”

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 24, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Putnam, not first of all a complainer, this time reaches for extremes: “We” and “Our Kids” are not merely confused or apathetic or drifting. We are clearly in crisis. Or the book could get dismissed as one more complaint about social class and the economic debates connected with both, or all, sides of class division in America. Also, it could be ignored by those who tire of nostalgic reckonings about “the good old days;” Some celebrations of them do appear here.

Putnam lovingly invokes the past as he begins with references to his own childhood years and to locales like the town in which he grew up. Winsomely and with clarity he writes about a time when the boundaries between classes were not as defined and drastic as now. But as he looks at the contemporary scene, he finds plenty of reason to describe the class gulf as “in crisis” and the “American dream” not merely fading for millions, but becoming almost irretrievably out of range for their young.

What’s missing, especially for the millions of “Their Kids” in America today? They lack agencies where “social capital”—an old Putnam phrase—is tended to. Voluntary organizations, support groups, clubs, neighborhood places, which encourage bonding and interaction are disappearing from the scene for the millions who cannot advance.

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 23, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A variety of clues to the motives of Dylann Storm Roof, the suspect in last week’s mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., have emerged. First, we saw the patches he wore on his jacket in a Facebook photo: the flags of regimes in South Africa and Rhodesia that brutally enforced white minority rule.

Then, a further cache of photos of Mr. Roof — seen in several bearing a Confederate flag — was discovered on a website, Last Rhodesian, registered in his name, together with a manifesto, a hodgepodge of white supremacist ideas. The author (most likely Mr. Roof) calls on whites to take “drastic action” to regain dominance in America and Europe.

These themes, popular among white supremacists in the United States, are also signs of the growing globalization of white nationalism. When we think of the Islamist terrorism of groups like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, we recognize their international dimension. When it comes to far-right domestic terrorism, we don’t.

Americans tend to view attacks like the mass murder in Charleston as isolated hate crimes, the work of a deranged racist or group of zealots lashing out in anger, unconnected to a broader movement. This view we can no longer afford to indulge.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 23, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Defenders of the Confederate flag say there is nothing inherently controversial or racist about it. It was adopted by the Confederate armies because the official Confederate national flag, the “stars and bars”, looked too much like the Union’s stars and stripes, and Confederate troops were killed by friendly fire in the smoke and confusion of battle. Its design was based on the cross of St Andrew, featuring in the Scottish and United Kingdom flags.

But what the Confederate flag means to most black Americans today, and to millions of their countrymen, is all too plain. The designer of Georgia’s 1956 flag was an explicit segregationist. The state legislature voted for the new flag after Denmark Groover, a state lawmaker, said it was created to “serve notice that we intend to uphold what we stood for, will stand for, and will fight for”.

Such remarks cannot be unsaid, nor unheard. But while “history cannot be unlived,” in the words of Maya Angelou, people can still change. Half a century after pushing Georgia’s new flag, Groover returned to the state legislature to support changing it. Many other white southerners have trod a similar same path, first clutching the Confederate flag in a burst of reactionary racism, then insisting the symbol had nothing to do with slavery or segregation, and finally, as Groover did, admitting the obvious: “It has become the most divisive issue on the political spectrum and needs to be put to rest.”

Read it all (and if necessary another link there).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 23, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Q. Where is the #CharlestonSyllabus hosted, and what kind of measurable response have you seen so far?

A. It’s on the African American Intellectual History Society’s website. Since Saturday, when it went up, it's had over 55,000 views, averaging 900 an hour. It’s gotten almost 20,000 likes on Facebook, 13,000 mentions and 28,000 engagements on Twitter. We’ve had a few trolls who’ve tried to hijack the thread with rants about how the Confederate flag is not a racist symbol but a source of Southern heritage and pride. But over all, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. By Sunday we had about 10,000 suggestions of books, articles, and other documents.

Q. Why do you think that #CharlestonSyllabus resonates in this current moment?

A. I’m a scholar of African-American history, and so I was thinking about this tragedy as a historical event as I was working through my own profound grief and sadness. This is the worst racial massacre since the Reconstruction era. What happened in Charleston is connected to other race riots of the 20th century, but this one is unique because of its explicitly religious and political intentions. We can’t disconnect it from the current moment, the killings of unarmed black people, the surge in white supremacy, and massive resistance to Obama.

Q. Can you say more about why were you so frustrated by news-media discussions surrounding the Charleston shooting?

A. So much of our conversations about race are rooted in emotions and feelings and not knowledge and facts. What I was hearing on the news lacked historical substance.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingEducationRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 23, 2015 at 6:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If the purpose here is to win the World Cup early next month, the United States is going to have to go through either Germany or France. Although the latter had its slip against the same team the United States beat Monday, in this tournament, the Americans haven't come close to playing as well at their best as Germany and France have at their best.

Now the final opportunity to find fifth gear in advance of that potential game will take place without two of the players who would be integral to it.

Maybe it works out for the best. Maybe Morgan Brian, likely to replace Holiday in the middle of the field, and Christen Press, a good bet to replace Rapinoe wide, will be great against China. The Americans have long touted their depth, and on the oldest roster in the tournament, Brian and Press are two of the potential stars for 2015 and 2019.

Maybe that will give Holiday and Rapinoe valuable time off to rest and recover.

But the clouds that hovered just beyond Commonwealth Stadium on Monday night didn't look like they had any silver linings. They just looked like trouble.

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 23, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationSportsWomen* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.CanadaEngland / UK

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Posted June 22, 2015 at 9:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the spirit of reconciliation, the Confederate flag needs to be removed from the Statehouse grounds.

On Monday, Gov. Nikki Haley gave her support to furling the flag. “We are not going to allow this symbol to divide us any longer,” she said. A growing number of legislative leaders support the idea.

The Legislature has the opportunity to remove the flag before the end of this month’s extended session. It can revise the terms of the session, and vote to bring the flag down.

Do it to honor the nine people who were killed at Emanuel AME Church.

Do it now.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMediaMilitary / Armed ForcesRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 22, 2015 at 7:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

ADHD, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, isn’t just for kids anymore.

Adults in the U.S. have overtaken children in taking medication for the condition and accounted for 53 percent of the industrywide 63 million prescriptions for ADHD drugs last year, according to data compiled by Shire Plc, which makes the top-selling Vyvanse treatment. That compared with 39 percent in 2007, the Dublin-based drugmaker said.

Read it all

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

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Posted June 22, 2015 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even if their faith is lukewarm and compromised, the undercatechized Catholic and the Oprahfied Protestant are still only a good confession or an altar call away from a more authentic Christian life.
--Ross Douthat, Bad Religion (New York: Free Press, 2012), p. 282

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

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Posted June 22, 2015 at 6:44 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As he tugged open the plywood door to his newsstand Saturday morning, Charles Tone turned to one of his customers with a question.

"How can they forgive him?" said Tone, 66. "Man, I don't even know if it can be genuine."

The newsstand at the corner of Manchester and Vermont — the heart of a historically black neighborhood in South Los Angeles — often hums with conversation about politics and sports.

Nationwide on Saturday, people were talking about the massacre of nine black churchgoers, allegedly by a white man, in Charleston, S.C. But among African Americans the subject felt more urgently personal, stirring fear, anger and unease as well as debate about what it means to be black in America.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 22, 2015 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“I want you to know, because the doors of Mother Emanuel” are open, the Rev. Norvel Goff Sr., a presiding elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, said in a rousing sermon there on Sunday, “it sends a message to every demon in hell and on earth.”

Later, with his voice roaring, Mr. Goff added, “Some wanted to divide the race — black and white and brown — but no weapon formed against us shall prosper.”

Here in this city — where steeples dot the skyline, earning Charleston the nickname Holy City — worship normally contained within church walls spilled into the streets on Sunday. Large banners hung from the buildings near Emanuel.

“Holy City ... Let Us Be the Example of Love That Conquers Evil,” read one.

At 10 a.m., church bells across the city began to toll. Nine minutes passed, one minute for each victim.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* Theology

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Posted June 22, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



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

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Posted June 21, 2015 at 9:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hundreds of veterans gathered at Fort Stewart, Georgia, to be honored at a homecoming ceremony that eluded them for decades.

Watch it all.

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

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Posted June 21, 2015 at 2:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Attendees heard prepared statements from multiple speakers, including state Sen. Marlon Kimpson, D-Charleston; Charleston County Council Chairman Elliott Summey; Charleston Mayor Joe Riley; the Rev. Nelson Rivers III of Charity Missionary Baptist Church; and others.

They sang hymns “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” held hands and swayed to a rendition of “We Shall Overcome.”

Statements made during the vigil reiterated common themes of love, faith and unity.

“We share one thing in common. ... Our hearts are broken. We have an anguish like we have never had before,” Riley said.

Read it all from the local paper.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* Theology

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Posted June 20, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One thing that might make a difference in mass killings is a law allowing people to ask police to take guns away from a family member who is acting irrationally. In this case, though, not even that would have helped: The shooter's father is said to have given him the gun in April as a birthday present.

The broader problem — more entrenched, more pernicious and more likely to eat away at the nation — is the racial animosity that still lurks in some quarters. African Americans have suffered its sting often in recent events. A series of unarmed black men, including one in North Charleston, S.C., have been killed by white police officers. And many African Americans have come to believe, a half-century after the civil rights movement took hold, that black lives still do not matter. Or do not matter as much as white lives.

Yes, there has been heartening progress. The president who mourned Thursday is black. So is the attorney general, who opened an investigation to ensure that justice is done. Politicians and congregations, black and white, came together to decry the violence. The alleged killer was pursued by local police and the FBI and taken into custody.

In important ways, America is a different country than it was in 1963

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchHistoryUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 19, 2015 at 3:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

I happened to catch this and I wanted to post it because it says so much about this community right now--here is a Republican talking about a Democrat, a friend talking about a friend, and a Christian talking about his brother in Christ.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* Theology

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Posted June 19, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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