Posted by Kendall Harmon

You can read about it there. Also, please note that this is 10 time mayor Joe Riley's last one to open: "Mayor Riley helped convince the late composer Gian Carlo Menotti to establish the festival in Charleston almost 40 years ago."

Filed under: * Culture-WatchArtMusicTheatre/Drama/Plays* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.EuropeItaly* South Carolina

0 Comments
Posted May 22, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[THE] REV. WAYNE MEISEL: We have a generation of young people in their 20s and 30s that define themselves by their commitment to service and justice work. The challenge is that many of them, I think most of them, do not believe the church cares about them or the causes they care about. There’s this bubbling fervor and energy and possibility that we just have to figure out how to both tap and how to support, and then for guys like me to get out of the way.

ABERNETHY: Craig Barnes is the president of Princeton Theological Seminary.

CRAIG BARNES (President, Princeton Theological Seminary): Wayne is a fascinating and charismatic kind of leader. He works best kind of on the margins of schools, churches, and organizations, and he’s a visionary. But he doesn’t work through the system. He works with the students themselves, and he excites students, and they become all caught up in his vision of changing the world and thinking that their life can make a real difference. And this is not just happening in Princeton. This is happening in seminaries all over the country. So it’s a phenomenon.

The students are asking different questions in class. Our professors are developing their syllabi differently to account for this passion they have to not just study ethics but to do ethics along the way. These students actually are devoted to loving thy neighbor. And they won’t tolerate any more sitting in class taking notes on wonderful lectures about social responsibility and then folding up their laptops and just going home.

Read or watch it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted May 22, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

....perhaps the day has arrived in the PCA when progressives need not worry about any negative connotations of the term "progressive." However, it might still be proper to ask, "Towards what are the progressives asking their church to progress? If we follow the path of progress or get swept along by its tide, what will be left behind and where will we end up?" (Or, for real traditionalists, "where up will we end?")

Dr. Chapell places the label "Traditionalists" on those who are "highly committed to Confessional fidelity and are often worried about perceived doctrinal drift." Is there a more pejorative term in America, where you buy your laundry detergent because it is "new and improved," than the term "traditional"? Not even conservatives want to be traditionalists unless they are appealing to "traditional values" (as in "family" or , peculiarly in Mississippi, "traditional Mississippi values" - wink, wink, hint, hint, get it?). Americans fought a great War for Independence so we wouldn't have to be traditional like those stuffy old British. The last thing a true American wants to be is a stick-in-the-mud old fuddy-duddy traditionalist.

In the churches it's the old and soon to pass from the scene folks who attend the "traditional" service, which may not be traditional at all but a service in which gospel hymns are sung with a song leader rather than praise and worship songs with a praise team. The cool kids flock to the contemporary service, where they will not be turned off by robes, minsters leading worship, and too much Scripture and prayer - until that comes to feel like it is traditional in which case they may join Rachel Held Evans who likes her doctrine and morals progressive but her liturgy sort of traditional in The Episcopal Church.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 19, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

My initial reaction to the claim in the subtitle of this celebrity biography was incredulity, but Richard Zoglin has convinced me that Bob Hope (1903-2003) can fittingly be referred to as the most successful entertainer of the 20th century. This place of preeminence is secured by the heights of popularity that he achieved, the number of decades during which his star power continued to shine so brightly, and his triumphing in seemingly every possible form of mass entertainment.

That last point is particularly compelling. Hope rose to success in vaudeville, and then conquered Broadway, before proceeding to the #1 spot in radio, film, and television—holding in the top ten in all three across decades. And the half is yet untold. Hope was a singer and recording artist; on Broadway, he stole the show with "I Can't Get Started," and in his first film he did the same with "Thanks for the Memory," which became his theme song. His initial vaudeville success was as a dancer.

Hope eventually became the most successful live performer going, often setting all-time attendance records for the cities he visited. He had a regular newspaper column, and his I Never Left Home—believe it or not—was the bestselling nonfiction book of 1944. A cultural ambassador during the Cold War, he did historic shows in Russia and China. (During the Iran hostage crisis, he seriously proposed doing his 1980 Christmas special from Tehran.) Hope was considered the greatest emcee in the business—hosting the Academy Awards an astonishing 19 times—and, to bury the lede, he was "the most popular comedian in American history."

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Speaking thirty years ago, Attorney General Meese warned that “there are ideas which have gained influence in some parts of our society, particularly in some important and sophisticated areas that are opposed to religious freedom and freedom in general. In some areas there are some people that have espoused a hostility to religion that must be recognized for what it is, and expressly countered.”

Those were prophetic words, prescient in their clarity and foresight. The ideas of which Mr. Meese warned have only gained ground in the last thirty years, and now with astounding velocity. A revolution in morality now seeks not only to subvert marriage, but also to redefine it, and thus to undermine an essential foundation of human dignity, flourishing, and freedom.

Religious liberty is under direct threat. Just days ago the Solicitor General of the United States served notice before the Supreme Court that the liberties of religious institutions will be an open and unavoidable question. Already, religious liberty is threatened by a new moral regime that exalts erotic liberty and personal autonomy and openly argues that religious liberties must give way to the new morality, its redefinition of marriage, and its demand for coercive moral, cultural, and legal sovereignty.

A new moral and legal order is ascendant in America, and this new order is only possible, in the arena of American law and jurisprudence, if the original intent and the very words of the Constitution of the United States are twisted beyond recognition.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPhilosophyReligion & CultureSexuality* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsOther FaithsSecularismReligious Freedom / Persecution* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 19, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Among my own denomination, the Episcopal Church’s fall is hardly a secret, as Episcopalians everywhere have seen their church decline since 1970s.

There are many reasons cited for the collapse of what was once the closest thing to a state-established church in America.

There’s no doubt that deep theological shifts — in particular left-of-center politics moving the national church beyond orthodox theology and churchmanship — are at least partly to blame. Then there is the whole gay issue, which has divided Anglicans domestically and resulted in major schisms and multi-million dollar lawsuits over church assets and buildings.

Case in point: When was the last time you actually read something positive about Episcopalians? Seriously. Pretty much every major news item these days is a report over a lawsuit, schism or controversial theological change.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted May 18, 2015 at 1:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[...She asks] “Where and how do I want my establishment to inject itself into secular controversies?”

The essay is well worth reading in full, in part because it shows how L’Engle embodied a deeply articulate and vigorous faith, one that was characterized by liberality and generosity in the best senses. “It is impossible to listen to the Gospel week after week and turn my back on the social issues confronting me today,” she writes. “But what I hope for is guidance, not legislation.”

She goes on to discuss a host of difficult issues, including abortion, divorce, euthanasia, genetic manipulation, and slavery, and her conclusions about the official church’s role are not in every case ones that I agree with myself. She tends to have a more mystical view of how the “Gospel” will necessarily inform the individual believer’s conscience than do I. If she is a conservative, then she is certainly at least what might be called a “liberal conservative” in Peter Lawler’s parlance.

But she certainly is right to point to the necessary task of each individual believer to work for the good within their own spheres of influence regardless of whether the church holds an “official position” on any particular issue.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 18, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On those who say religion is unnecessary, given humanity's growing scientific knowledge.

I think science and religion are at some point both about big questions of origin and wonder. And I think, for me, I've always felt that it's important for religious people to have the same kind of philosophical stance they use in their religious life as they do in the rest of their life. And a lot of times I think religion — religions — ask people to sort of turn off the scientific part of their lives and just go and kind of think about God kind of pre-scientifically.

I don't think we can do that. We've got to have a faith that is, in some sense, consonant with the way we think about the world scientifically. And again, I think one of the things the Pew study suggests to us is that if the church can get over its anxiety about talking about God in a grown-up way, we would actually reach out to and speak to more people than we do right now.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMediaReligion & CultureScience & TechnologySociology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Theology

1 Comments
Posted May 17, 2015 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Cathy Rion Starr and Heather Rion Starr, the ministers of the Unitarian Society of Hartford since last summer, were reminiscing recently about a conversation early in their friendship, before they had become either romantic partners or co-workers.

“We had some colleagues in common, who were a same-sex couple serving a congregation in California,” Heather Rion Starr said on Tuesday in the office they share at the church. “And I think I said something about, ‘So-and-so and so-and-so are starting a co-ministry — what do you think about that?’ And you said, ‘Oh I would never want to do that. I would never want to spend that much time with someone.’ ”

“And now here we are,” Cathy Rion Starr said of the church, which will hold the couple’s installation ceremony on Sunday.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted May 16, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Their ideals were lofty but simple: They would live off the land, farming with Colonial-era tools, along with a band of like-minded men dressed in homespun robes wielding scythes and pickaxes. They would sleep in atmospheric log cabins and other 18th-century structures that they had rescued from the area and that they began to reconstruct, painstakingly, brick by crumbling brick and log by log.

But what if you built a commune, and no one came?

It turns out it’s not so easy to cook up a utopia from scratch. There are 1,775 so-called intentional communities listed in the Fellowship for Intentional Community’s United States directory: eco-villages, pagan co-ops, faith-based retreats and everything in between. But how do you advertise, organize and thrive? “Don’t ask us,” Johannes said. “We failed that class.”

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted May 16, 2015 at 10:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. Special Operations killed a senior Islamic State leader in a ground raid inside Syria on Friday night, the White House said in a statement Saturday.

The statement said that Abu Sayyaf, described as having a senior role in overseeing gas and oil operations that have been a key source of revenue for the militant group, had been killed when he “engaged U.S. forces” and resisted capture.

His wife, who was said to be an Islamic State member, was captured during the operation, and a young woman who appeared to be held as a slave of the couple was freed. The young woman was a member of the Yazidi sect in Iraq, the White House statement said.

“We intend to reunite her with her family as soon as feasible,” said National Security Council spokesman Bernadette Meehan.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted May 16, 2015 at 9:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

....Neuhaus had an extraordinary talent for bringing people together—to discuss, debate, and strategize. He regularly convened intellectually and theologically diverse groups to spend a couple of days discussing topics of interest. (In my own case the topics included, civil religion, multinational corporations, ecumenism, faith and politics, and “culture wars,” among others.)

But the most important of these projects was the 1990 founding of First Things. While Neuhaus had previously edited two similar journals, Worldview and This World, they had each been sponsored by larger foundations, the Carnegie and Rockford Institutes respectively. This time around the journal was Neuhaus’s own, to shape as he wished. And shaped it he did, with great talent and flair, bringing together like-minded writers representing Catholicism, evangelicalism, Orthodoxy and Lutheranism, along with fellow travelers from Judaism and Islam.

First Things was the flagship publication of Neuhaus’s Institute on Religion and Public Life, and the concept of “public life” was foundational to his efforts. Neuhaus always insisted that politics is only one aspect of a larger “public square”—one that makes room, as best it can, for a variety of religious, moral, and communal traditions. Boyagoda reminds us that Neuhaus and Berger actually coined the term “mediating structures,” now commonly used in social science, in their 1977 book To Empower People. That short book (just over 50 pages) showed how a wide range of smaller institutions—families, churches, professional associations, teams, guilds, neighborhood organizations, book clubs, schools—can offer a protective, nurturing space between individual and the power-hungry state.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesEvangelicalsLutheranRoman Catholic* TheologyChristologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 16, 2015 at 7:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pew has released another major poll focused in much greater depth on the United States, and it's being widely interpreted as providing evidence that religion (or at least Christianity) is indeed on the decline in the United States.

So was Dennett right, at least about America? Is the future of Christianity in the United States bleak after all?

Short answer: Not necessarily.

A nearly 8-percentage point drop in those calling themselves Christian (from 78.4 percent to 70.6 percent) in just seven years is a big deal. If those numbers are accurate, Christianity is certainly shrinking in America at a rate that, if it continues over the coming years and decades, will produce profound cultural changes.

But we're not there yet.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsRoman Catholic* TheologyChristologySoteriology

1 Comments
Posted May 16, 2015 at 7:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A jury of seven women and five men sentenced Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death by execution, closing one of the most painful chapters in this city's history.

Tsarnaev looked straight ahead, showing no emotion, as the sentence was read. Jurors wiped away tears as the judge thanked them for their service.

"Your service as jurors in this case has been the very antithesis of mob law," U.S District Judge George O'Toole Jr. told the jury. "You can and you should be justly proud of your service in this case."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchCapital PunishmentLaw & Legal IssuesUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted May 15, 2015 at 4:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Emanuella Enenajor, Canada and U.S. economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, has some bad news for the Canadian economy.

In light of the collapse in oil prices, she says, Canada is relying on a resurgent U.S. economy in order to provide a boost to exports and spur investment in activities that aren't related to commodities.

Lofty oil prices have helped foster investment and employment growth in Canada as well as domestic consumption by making imports less expensive. For that reason, the Canadian dollar is often referred to as the petro-loonie since the key role oil plays in the nation’s terms of trade is typically reflected in currency fluctuations. With the price of oil falling recently, the pressure is on for Canada and it doesn't look like the country will be getting much help from its Southern neighbor.

Notwithstanding the fact that economic activity in the U.S. has routinely disappointed so far this year, Enenajor concludes that a pick-up in U.S. growth wouldn’t be a panacea for Canada.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Canada* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 15, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The 11-year-old musical prodigy has been making waves recently with his beyond-his-years skills on the keyboard, and on TODAY Thursday the Jakarta, Indonesia native showed off those talents first in an interview and jam session with Lester Holt, then later in the studio.

Read it all and enjoy the video.

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

1 Comments
Posted May 15, 2015 at 3:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At least eight people were killed in Tuesday’s Amtrak train derailment, and each victim has now been identified. The details of their remarkable lives revealed the depth of this catastrophe: a college dean who, after overcoming an impoverished childhood, was working toward his doctorate; a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy who aspired to become a Navy SEAL; a woman who, at just 39, had become the chief executive officer of an education tech firm in Philadelphia; an Associated Press software architect who was known for his composure, kindness and frequent hugs; a Wells Fargo executive who was an avid cyclist and a constant optimist; a technology company vice president who lived in Maryland and had a wry sense of humor.

The seventh and eighth victims were identified Thursday afternoon: Laura Finamore, 47, a New Yorker who worked in corporate real estate; and Giuseppe Piras, 41, an Italian who sold olive oil and wine and was in the United States on business.

Read all of their profiles....

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted May 15, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...a new report from the Thomas Fordham Institute, a think-tank, may encourage future closures of bad schools, because it suggests that they are good for students. Researchers looked at 23,000 displaced pupils from shut-down district and charter schools in eight Ohio cities between 2006 and 2012. Ohio’s urban public schools have long struggled with competition from charter schools and declining populations (the state’s eight largest cities have lost more than 50,000 students in the past eight years). Those who stayed found themselves in empty or failing schools.

Critics argue that shutting schools destabilises and, in some cases, derails the academic progress of pupils. Not so: the Fordham study found that closures ultimately benefit pupils from wretched schools. Once a school had closed, most of the children ended up in better ones, where they eventually got higher grades. Three years after the closure, children were found to have gained the equivalent of at least an extra month of learning in their new schools. Those who went from a failing charter school to a high-performing one did even better, gaining 58 more days of learning in reading and 88 days in maths.

Most of the closed district schools were in deprived areas. Nearly three-quarters of the children were black and more than 90% were poor. The report concluded that “though fraught with controversy and political peril, shuttering bad schools might just be a saving grace for students who need the best education they can get.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationTeens / Youth* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Canada

2 Comments
Posted May 15, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As a new and renewing church, The Episcopal Church celebrates the joys and challenges of a global community called to mission and filled with hope. Amid growing concern about the state of the Church in turbulent times, there are signs of
growing mission, transformation, resiliency, and the presence of the ever-creative and renewing work of the Spirit. Our Church is changing as we shift our gaze from an inward view on conflict resolution to an outward focus on mission. Hope, collaboration, and joy are the images that will describe the State of the Church as we move into a new triennium.

Over the past three years, a group from across the Church has been listening to stories, analyzing data, and developing a snapshot of our collective health and vitality. This information has been compiled into a State of the Church (SOTC) report,
which will be presented to the 2015 General Convention. This report not only provides a glimpse of the Church in action, as it is now, captured into freeze-frame stillness, but it also will be an important artifact, serving as a point on a historical timeline--something to observe and say wisely with the clarity of hindsight, yes, this is when THIS all began, or ended, or shifted.

Read it all.

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

5 Comments
Posted May 14, 2015 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The new Pew survey on religious affiliation in America, released and much discussed around the internet yesterday, paints a portrait of institutional Christianity in retreat, and the continuing rise of what we call the “nones” — people attached to no organized religion — as a major constituency in American life. The pace of both trends is striking: As Notre Dame’s David Campbell, quoted in this Daily Caller piece, points out, given how quickly the non-affiliated population rose in the late 1990s and early 2000s you might have expected a slowing or a leveling off, but instead the trendline is still steep, from 16 percent “none” in 2007 to 23 percent today (and about 35 percent “none” among Millennials). Meanwhile identification with every major branch of Christianity is down in percentage terms, and only evangelical Christianity is seeing its absolute numbers still increase; the black Protestant churches are holding steady, but in Pew’s numbers Catholicism seems to have joined the Protestant Mainline in a kind of demographic freefall.

I specialize in a certain pessimism about the state of American Christianity, but when a portrait is this dire-seeming it’s useful to offer some qualifiers. So here are three:

1) What’s in steepest decline is affiliation, not religious practice. What we’re clearly seeing happen, in Bible Belt environs as well as on the liberal coasts, is people who once would have identified as Christians socially (as Christmas-and-Easter Methodists, cultural Catholics, etc.) are now dropping the label altogether.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The big trends are clear, the nominals are becoming the nones, yet the convictional are remaining committed.

In other words, Americans whose Christianity was nominal—in name only—are casting aside the name. They are now aligning publicly with what they’ve actually not believed all along.

The percentage of convictional Christians remains rather steady, but because the nominal Christians now are unaffiliated the overall percentage of self-identified Christians is decline. This overall decline is what Pew shows—and I expect it to accelerate.

As I have said before, not one serious researcher thinks Christianity in America is dying. What we see from Pew is not the death-knell of Christianity, but another indication that Christianity in America is being refined.

Read it all.

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

1 Comments
Posted May 13, 2015 at 3:22 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S. military is considering using aircraft and Navy ships to directly contest Chinese territorial claims to a chain of rapidly expanding artificial islands, U.S. officials said, in a move that would raise the stakes in a regional showdown over who controls disputed waters in the South China Sea.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter has asked his staff to look at options that include flying Navy surveillance aircraft over the islands and sending U.S. naval ships to within 12 nautical miles of reefs that have been built up and claimed by the Chinese in an area known as the Spratly Islands.

Such moves, if approved by the White House, would be designed to send a message to Beijing that the U.S. won’t accede to Chinese territorial claims to the man-made islands in what the U.S. considers to be international waters and airspace.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted May 13, 2015 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing, according to an extensive new survey by the Pew Research Center. Moreover, these changes are taking place across the religious landscape, affecting all regions of the country and many demographic groups. While the drop in Christian affiliation is particularly pronounced among young adults, it is occurring among Americans of all ages. The same trends are seen among whites, blacks and Latinos; among both college graduates and adults with only a high school education; and among women as well as men.

To be sure, the United States remains home to more Christians than any other country in the world, and a large majority of Americans – roughly seven-in-ten – continue to identify with some branch of the Christian faith.But the major new survey of more than 35,000 Americans by the Pew Research Center finds that the percentage of adults (ages 18 and older) who describe themselves as Christians has dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years, from 78.4% in an equally massive Pew Research survey in 2007 to 70.6% in 2014. Over the same period, the percentage of Americans who are religiously unaffiliated – describing themselves as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” – has jumped more than six points, from 16.1% to 22.8%. And the share of Americans who identify with non-Christian faiths also has inched up, rising 1.2 percentage points, from 4.7% in 2007 to 5.9% in 2014. Growth has been especially great among Muslims and Hindus, albeit from a very low base.

Read it all.

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

2 Comments
Posted May 12, 2015 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Most of us were trained to minister to a culture that had a Christian baseline, but we weren’t trained how to reach people who don’t accept the Bible as true or know about Christ.
In other words, we were trained to focus on Nominals but now we increasingly need to reach Seculars.

There are resources to help with that.

I’m a big fan of Tim Keller’s book The Reason for God. Many use that curriculum for reaching secular people. I also recommend the work of George Hunter, a professor at Asbury Theological Seminary. His book How to Reach Secular People is good, as is James Emery White’s book called The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated.

Do you deal more with Nominals or Seculars? Has your church made progress in reaching either group? What have you found that works in bringing these people to Christ?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church GrowthMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyAnthropologySoteriology

1 Comments
Posted May 12, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If “religious nature of religious art” seems tautological, blame Western curatorial history for making it not so. Although most important American institutions abound with the art of faith, until recently, those museums provided almost no information about that art’s spiritual inspiration, its ritual use, or where it fit into the roiling histories of popular belief or religious politics. Or as Ena Heller—MOBIA’s founding director and now director of the Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College in Orlando, Florida—remarked in 2004, most museums displayed “an undeniable reluctance to interpret the religious component of art.”

That flaw is breathtaking: Imagine a museum showing Warhols being “reluctant” to talk about late-20th-century consumerism, or an institution exploring German Expressionism being leery of bringing up World Wars. For a decade, MOBIA, which Heller founded in a shoebox in 2005, has acted as a kind of two-cylinder antidote, presenting Christian and Jewish religious art with all the context museums traditionally ignored. And it's done so while maintaining a strictly secular curatorial philosophy, confuting those who think that to concentrate on religion means to evangelize. The victorious Donatello show seemed to assure that MOBIA could continue to explain the cultural influence of the Bible on art—obvious yet ignored—from a perch of true national stature.

Now, it's up to art consumers to internalize the museum’s insight for themselves.

Read it all.


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

0 Comments
Posted May 11, 2015 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians who have so far avoided controversial “culture war” issues will likely be pulled into those battles as their religious freedom becomes threatened due to...[same-sex] "marriage," Dr. John Inazu warned Monday.

Theologically conservative Christian non-profit organizations, including churches, could face losing their tax exempt status or being shut down, and Christian doctors, lawyers, counselors and other professionals could be forced out of their professions, he explained.

Inazu, associate professor of law and political science at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, was delivering a presentation, “Religious Liberty and the American Culture Wars,” at the Ethics and Public Policy Center’s “Faith Angle Forum.”

Read it all.

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

2 Comments
Posted May 9, 2015 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The result was released on Wednesday: a 243-page investigative report, which included a 68-page scientific report and appendices. But, truthfully, all of it could have been boiled down to a single sentence: Tom Brady — one of the most accomplished N.F.L. quarterbacks ever — is more probably than not a cheater.

Nobody called Brady a cheater directly in the report — gathering direct proof of his involvement was hampered partly by his refusal to hand over his text messages and emails — but the investigation did find that “it is more probable than not that Brady was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities.”

Just as it is more probable than not that the Patriots just can’t seem to follow the league’s rules.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted May 7, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“I was very active in the progressive community in my law school, and most of my friends were politically active progressives,” he said. “But I was unprepared for their response when word started filtering out that I had enrolled in divinity school. Some of them literally disowned me; my own roommates moved out. Several folks literally stopped speaking to me and acted as if I had lost my mind.”

His own background was thrown in his face, with friends saying: “Chris, you’re a scientist, you’re a chemist, you trained as a chemist as an undergraduate, how could you possibly believe this insane stuff...?”

Coons’s message was deceptively simple: that we must find ways of “getting past some of our misunderstandings of each other.” The problem: Respecting each other on matters of faith and politics seems beyond our current capacities.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 6, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility on Tuesday for a weekend attack at a center near Dallas, Texas, that was exhibiting cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad - though it offered no evidence of a direct link to the attackers.

An audio statement on the extremist group's Al Bayan radio station said that "two soldiers of the caliphate" carried out Sunday's attack in Garland and promised the group would deliver more attacks in the future

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted May 5, 2015 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

That the Great Recession of 2007-09 made Americans have fewer kids is no surprise, but a new study shows how big the toll was.

Birth rates for U.S. women in their 20s dropped more than 15% between 2007 and 2012, just before and after the recession, the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan policy research group, said in a new analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention released Tuesday.

Among Hispanic 20-somethings, the birth rate dropped 26%. Non-Hispanic blacks? 14%. By contrast, non-Hispanic white 20-somethings saw an 11% decline.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted May 3, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Britain’s nail-biting election, and the fragile coalition government it seems likely to produce, are confirming many of Washington’s worst fears about the country’s dwindling influence in the world.

Once the US’ most reliable ally, the UK is now seen as a distant player in the crisis over the Ukraine and the euro, has introduced swingeing cuts to its military and recently rebuffed Washington by joining a China-led bank.

On top of that, the Obama administration is waking up to the prospect that the next government in London could be even more inward-looking as it grapples with Britain’s membership of the European Union and strong support for Scottish independence.

US officials say they still value close intelligence and military ties with the UK, but at times sound almost dismissive about the current British government’s reluctance to play a bigger role in the world.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 3, 2015 at 6:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Arguments over same-sex marriage played out in the U.S. Supreme Courton Tuesday, but many religious groups opposed to gay marriage aren’t waiting for a ruling.

A court ruling expected two months from now could sanction same-sex marriage nationwide. In anticipation, some congregations and religious advocacy groups are re-emphasizing their teachings on marriage, fine-tuning their approach to gays and lesbians and bracing for legal battles and public criticism.

“The outcome of this decision will shape the landscape of the church’s ministry in the U.S. for generations to come,” wrote Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. In an interview, he added, “If we have a redefinition of marriage across the board by judicial decree then the church will have a responsibility more than ever to articulate what marriage is in the first place.”

The Southern Baptist Convention, the U.S.’s largest Protestant denomination, is preparing a video series and booklets on marriage and how to address homosexuality, Mr. Moore said. The church is hosting symposiums for pastors on “teaching the biblical witness to marriage” while also “equipping them to minister to gay and lesbian people who don’t agree with us,” he said.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 2, 2015 at 9:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Self-esteem, the kind that comes from finding the sweet spot between a healthy fondness for yourself and healthy self-skepticism, tends to get harder to come by the older we get. For a kid, self-esteem can be as close at hand as a sports victory or a sense of belonging in a peer group. It's a much more complicated and elusive proposition for adults, subject to the responsibilities and vicissitudes of grown-up life.

For college students, caught in that muddy crossing between childhood and independence, going through a phase in which they can't tell the difference between caring for themselves and declaring their own importance at every turn may actually be something of a rite of passage, albeit one as ridiculous as returning from a semester abroad with a foreign accent.

But if, in fact, this confusion is more than just a phase, if what we're dealing with is a generation — and, increasingly, an entire culture — for whom self-righteousness and self-esteem are essentially interchangeable, we're in trouble. Because self-righteousness, when you think about it, is a contra-indicator of self-esteem. It's what sets in when genuine righteousness eludes us. And if we spend our lives inside safe spaces writing love letters to ourselves, just about everything else will elude us too.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The bronze plaques on Main Street silently tell the toll of the two world wars on this small county: 197 men, listed by name but uncategorized by rank or age or branch of service.

Nonetheless, each is identified as “white” or “colored,” lingering evidence of Greenwood County’s segregated past that Greenwood city officials and leaders of the local American Legion post now want to banish from the city’s memorial to the war dead.

But they cannot, at least for now, without defying the South Carolina Legislature and a law born of a compromise so uneasy that even 15 years after it was reached, people fear that any changes to Greenwood’s tribute would spawn another tortured clash about how this state marks its racial history.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMilitary / Armed ForcesRace/Race Relations* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina

0 Comments
Posted May 1, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At first glance, a Cadillac dealer’s showroom may not seem like a “mission outpost” of Christianity, but that’s exactly how Holy Cross Anglican Church was described by a visiting bishop when he blessed the congregation last Sunday evening.

Holy Cross Anglican worships at the Gerry Lane Cadillac dealership, in a spacious showroom where SAAB cars were once sold until the Swedish company liquidated three years ago.

Shepherded by the Rev. Ernie Saik, the 70-member congregation began worshipping there in September, but he didn’t want to make it public until the group could be blessed by the Rev. Clark W.P. Lowenfield, bishop of the Anglican Diocese of the Western Gulf Coast of the Anglican Church in North America.

“On this third Sunday of Easter we celebrate 1,982 years ago, when 11 apprentices of Jesus stepped off a mountain after being told to go and make more apprentices … and they changed the world,” Lowenfield preached as the sun streamed through the large showroom windows. “They started mission outposts all over the world. Mark went to Constantinople and Thomas went to India … and they began to establish exactly what you have established here — a mission outpost of the kingdom of God.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As a church planter and pastor in Baltimore, my soul is burdened with all of the hurt and pain in my city this week. Though it has been encouraging to know that more people from around the country are praying for my city than ever before, right now I wish the city I love could be famous for different reasons.

The injuries sustained by Freddie Gray and his subsequent tragic death in police custody have rallied Baltimore residents, who had peacefully protested for weeks. Based on the coverage from major media outlets, however, one would believe that the protests have been all about random riots, looting, and fires.

I’ve seen many on social media asking why someone would destroy the neighborhoods where they live and that none of this would be happening if people simply made better choices or parents did a better job of raising their kids. However, we must avoid the temptation of letting the media paint us an overly simplistic picture of Baltimore and her issues.

These protests and riots are not merely the culmination of the past few weeks’ events. They are the collective groaning of years of brokenness from systemic sin in our city under a brewing simmer that had finally reached this boiling point.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireMarriage & FamilyPovertyUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted April 30, 2015 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almost everyday, it seems, there’s a new story about how “Millennials are leaving the church.” But there’s a problem with these trend pieces: They aren’t true. American Christianity still has plenty of Millennials — they’re just not necessarily in white churches.

Instead, they’re found in places like Iglesia de Dios, a 3,000-member Hispanic megachurch in Nashville. The church was started in the mid-1990s by the Rev. Jose Rodriguez, a native of Venezuala who moved to Nashville in order to get better medical care for one of his children.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted April 29, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Commenting on the oral arguments before the Court, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), said, “Today is a moment of great consequence. Marriage is a perennial institution, with deep roots in who we are and in our nation’s culture and laws. Marriage is and always will be the union between one man and one woman. This truth is inseparable from the duty to honor the God-given dignity of every human person. We pray that the justices will uphold the responsibility of states to protect the beautiful truth of marriage, which concerns the essential well-being of the nation, especially children. Children have a basic right, wherever possible, to know and be loved by their mother and father together. The Church will always defend this right and looks to people of good will to continue this debate with charity and civility.”

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted April 29, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are no easy answers to the issues that plague our communities, but the spirit of unity that was in our midst this week testifies to the hope that we have through the cross of Christ, which reconciles us to God and one another.

We began with a frank assessment of the current challenges facing the Anglican Church in North America in our mission with and among African Americans. The Book of Revelation gives us the multiethnic vision of the Church in which members of every nation, tribe, people, and language offer up their unified praise before the Lamb (Rev. 7:9-10).

This biblical vision leads us to affirm a deeper commitment to both multiethnic and ethnic-specific expressions of the Church; a change that is critical if we are to remain in step with the Holy Spirit in light of the shifting demographics of North America.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina

0 Comments
Posted April 29, 2015 at 4:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One thing going on is that the major lifestyle and utility improvements of the past generation–really cheap access to communication, information, and entertainment–are overwhelmingly available to pretty much everyone. On the one hand, this means that recent economic growth assessed in terms of individual utility and well-being is much more equal then when assessed in terms of income. On the other hand, it means that access these benefits seems much more like simply the air we breathe then as a marker of class status, or achievement.

Thus a loss of the ability to securely attain enough of economic security to firmly hold the indicators of what past generations saw as middle-class life shows itself as a loss. And those who focus on security rather than on utility do not see these as offset buy the information revolution.

Read it all and please note it is a follow up to this article previously posted.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 27, 2015 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Moody Bible Institute professor has called on the school to abandon the term white privilege in discussions about diversity, calling it “inflammatory,” “repugnant,” and “unworthy of Christian discourse.”

“I suggest we should rip the term ‘white privilege’ out of our discourse at Moody,” wrote theology professor Bryan Litfin in a letter to the editor published April 15 in the student newspaper. “The underlying issues that need to be addressed should be described with more wholesome, less divisive terminology.”

Litfin proposes five reasons why he believes the term is “intended to address an important topic” yet isn’t biblical enough to be effective because it is “taken straight from a radical and divisive secular agenda.” “The problem is, the term itself is inflammatory, so the real topic goes unheard because of the offense,” he wrote, concluding, “Why employ terms that divide the body of Christ? As students of God’s Word, let us draw our terminology from the Bible, not the wisdom of man.”

The letter follows an apology he made in March for comments he had made on social media about a campus diversity event.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 27, 2015 at 1:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Our former life is now in our rearview mirror,” Sandy Phillips wrote on Facebook as she and her husband, Lonnie, locked the door of their San Antonio home and steered their new camper north, toward Colorado and the trial of the man who killed their daughter, Jessica Ghawi, and 11 other people inside an Aurora movie theater.

In the years since that July 2012 mass shooting, as the criminal case has inched forward, the Phillipses have traveled the country, arguing for gun control and background checks, unsuccessfully trying to sue ammunition manufacturers, and telling stories about Ms. Ghawi, a 24-year-old budding sports reporter.

Now, the trial of the gunman, James E. Holmes, is scheduled to start on Monday after multiple delays. The loose-knit community of hundreds of survivors, witnesses and relatives of the 12 people killed and 70 wounded were steeling themselves for what is expected to be one of the longest and most emotionally wrenching criminal trials in a state touched by mass shootings.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 27, 2015 at 11:22 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Watch it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted April 26, 2015 at 8:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Few people will pity the dual-earner couples earning more than $100,000 and paying a penalty for being married. But at a time when lower-earning couples are struggling to get by and less likely than ever to be reaping the benefits of marriage for themselves and their children, more should be done to ensure that the tax and welfare system doesn’t punish them for tying the knot.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted April 24, 2015 at 12:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One of the joys of traveling is seeing how other people worship. On vacation my daughter and I visited a shul in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands that had sand on the floor to represent either the Israelite journey through the desert or a homage to the congregants’ Murano Jewish ancestors who used sand to muffle the sounds of their secret prayer services during the Spanish Inquisition. They lived as Catholics publicly, but returned to their Judaism in their basements.

We happened to attend this Caribbean synagogue when the head of the women’s club was having an adult bat mitzvah. The highlight came during her speech, when she surveyed the crowd, appeared to do a mental calculation and announced: “Family hold back!” The lox was delicious, and the whole experience was so great—how could we not join for the off-island rate of $72 a year?

So if you are traveling to the ’burgh and looking for that special something from your synagogue experience: Ask and I’ll set you up. Just not during services. I’ll be busy talking to Finkelstein.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

0 Comments
Posted April 24, 2015 at 6:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

That need to connect—to bridge the divide between reader and writer, between me and you, between me and everyone—is there from the first. In Wallace's first novel, The Broom of the System (which also started life as an undergraduate thesis: he was double major, in philosophy and English), one man is so scared of loneliness that he intends to eat until his body fills the entire world, so he won't be alone anymore. The novel betrays a clever author very pleased with his own cleverness, but you can forgive a 21-year-old the narcissism when you realize the question at the book's core—can we ever really connect with other people?—was an obsession for Wallace, even as his style matured from a theory-based sophomoric snickering to an empathetic, impassioned searching.

"In dark times," Wallace told McCaffrey, "the definition of good art would seem to be art that locates and applies CPR to those elements of what's human and magical that still live and glow despite the times' darkness. Really good fiction could have as dark a worldview as it wished, but it'd find a way both to depict this world and to illuminate the possibilities for being alive and human in it."

I guess you can't properly call David Foster Wallace a religious writer, at least not with the definitions of religion we usually employ. Then again, when I first read him, I sensed a presence beyond the words on the page, a writer who was desperate to connect with the reader but also said what needed to be said. His questions are what I struggle with, too. Who am I? How do I connect with other people? What or who are we headed for, together? How do we get there? What is the best life?

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted April 23, 2015 at 1:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The US shale industry has failed to crack as expected. North Sea oil drillers and high-cost producers off the coast of Africa are in dire straits, but America's "flexi-frackers" remain largely unruffled.

One starts to glimpse the extraordinary possibility that the US oil industry could be the last one standing in a long and bitter price war for global market share, or may at least emerge as an energy superpower with greater political staying-power than Opec.

It is 10 months since the global crude market buckled, turning into a full-blown rout in November when Saudi Arabia abandoned its role as the oil world's "Federal Reserve" and opted instead to drive out competitors.

If the purpose was to choke the US "tight oil" industry before it becomes an existential threat - and to choke solar power in the process - it risks going badly awry, though perhaps they had no choice. "There was a strong expectation that the US system would crash. It hasn't," said Atul Arya, from IHS.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastSaudi ArabiaSouth AmericaVenezuela* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted April 22, 2015 at 3:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When a school learns that one of its alums has achieved great things, the institution will usually seek to promote those accomplishments. But there are exceptions. If it's discovered, for example, that the former student also happens to be a member of the Ku Klux Klan, or a neo-Nazi, or a convicted felon, then the school will naturally seek to downplay the connection — and to sever any explicit ties between them.

To this list of offenses — normally reserved only for bigots and criminals — we can now apparently add opposing same-sex marriage.

Consider the recent experience of Ryan T. Anderson.

A graduate of the Quaker Friends School of Baltimore, Anderson has achieved far more than most 33-year-olds. He completed his undergraduate education at Princeton and earned a Ph.D. from Notre Dame. He has been cited by a Supreme Court justice (Samuel A. Alito, Jr., in his dissent from the majority opinion in United States v. Windsor, which struck down parts of the Defense of Marriage Act). He was recently named the William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow in American Principles and Public Policy at the conservative Heritage Foundation. And last week he was profiled fairly and respectfully in The Washington Post. (Headline: "The right finds a fresh voice on same-sex marriage.")

No wonder someone thought it made sense to post a link to the profile on the school's website.

But then the predictable uproar began. Before long, head of school Matthew W. Micciche had taken down the link and published first a brief and then a lengthier apology for having posted it in the first place. (Both statements were subsequently deleted. The longer one is quoted in its entirety on Anderson's public Facebook page.)

In his longer apology, Micciche expressed "sincere regret" for his "lack of sensitivity" and the "anguish and confusion" and "pain" the link inflicted on members of the school community who thought the link implied that the school was standing behind Anderson's views....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingEducationMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

7 Comments
Posted April 22, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Watch it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted April 21, 2015 at 2:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“It’s my prayer for them and what I know about their lives,” Ms. Jones said in the hushed aftermath of the ceremony. “It’s being present, being attentive, letting the spirit speak. It’s just wanting to be a blessing to my friends.”

Ms. Jones meant those words in concrete as well as ineffable ways. As the founder of a group of young black churchwomen, which she named Shepreaches, she aspires to ease the difficult path of African-American women into the pulpit. For the past two years, her signal event has been a Good Friday service with sermons by seven women.

This year’s preachers range in age from late 20s to early 40s. Some are ordained, others still in seminary, and their affiliations range across traditionally black denominations. What they share in common is that none have served as senior pastors in a field still dominated by men. A few had privately doubted their own right to the pulpit until Ms. Jones issued her call.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPastoral CarePreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureWomen* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

2 Comments
Posted April 21, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Kenneth Morgan, a Gulf War veteran, returned to Detroit four years ago after 30 years away. He left when he was nine years old, traveling the world with his military father, but chose to settle his family in Detroit because, he says, “it’s home. There’s no place like home.” Morgan, his wife, Robin, and their children, Gary Effler and Kenneth D. and Korey Morgan, are renovating a duplex they bought on the East Side for $1,800 plus back taxes.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and Issues* General InterestPhotos/Photography* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

1 Comments
Posted April 21, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Our analysis of the number of missing African-American men relies on the 2010 census, the government’s most recent attempt to count all residents. The census also contains counts of people in prison and in other institutions such as homeless shelters, hospitals, nursing homes and domestic military barracks.

According to the Census Bureau, there were 7.046 million black men 25 to 54 who were not incarcerated in 2010 and 8.503 million black women in this category. The difference between these two figures leads to our headline of 1.5 million missing black men.

Demographers refer to the 25-to-54 age group as prime age, a term this post will use frequently.

Read it all and there is there is more to read there.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyMenRace/Race RelationsSociology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

1 Comments
Posted April 20, 2015 at 3:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Q: You even seem to take certain satisfaction in the disasters of the twentieth-century and to savor the imminence of world catastrophe rather than world peace, which all religions seek.
A: That’s true.
Q: You don’t seem to have much use for your fellow Christians, to say nothing of Ku Kluxers, ACLU’ers, northerners, southerners, fem-libbers, anti-fem-libbers, homosexuals, anti-homosexuals, Republicans, Democrats, hippies, anti-hippies, senior citizens.
A: That’s true – though taken as individuals they turn out to be more or less like oneself, i.e., sinners, and we get along fine.
Q: Even Ku Kluxers?
A: Sure.
Q: How do you account for your belief?
A: I can only account for it as a gift from God.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Taylor Davis

On a moment that Lauryn Hill's "Just Like Water" reminds her of:

"When I was on spring break, I went to Miami. And I went to South Beach at night. And I was having this moment just by myself with God. I was just looking at the waters. I was feeling the sand and the sky and the moon. ...

"I was just so in awe of creation and it was beautiful. When you're in a place of God's presence there's just total peace. Whenever I'm going through anything crazy at Howard, because crazy things happen all the time, whenever I can just center myself and drown in God's presence, I know that things are well and all is amazing."

Read it all and you can listen to the music also.

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

0 Comments
Posted April 19, 2015 at 1:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

During an era under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, when Catholicism was trying to swim against an increasingly secular tide in the Western world, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago was the American prelate trusted by those two popes, almost above all others, to spearhead that project in the United States.

George, who stepped down in November 2014, died at 10:45 a.m. Friday at his residence in Chicago of a cancer that originated in his bladder but spread to other parts of his body, rendering treatment ineffective. He was 78.

He had been on home care since April 3 after being hospitalized for hydration and pain management issues, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Widely acknowledged as the most intellectually gifted senior US prelate of his generation, George was once dubbed the “American Ratzinger.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 18, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Look at them all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEschatology

0 Comments
Posted April 18, 2015 at 12:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dan Price was about a mile into a Sunday hike on scenic Mt. Si when he knew what he had to do to change his life — and the lives of others.

His hiking partner and close friend had just been notified that her rent was going up. She had no idea how she would afford the extra couple hundred dollars a month on her salary as the hardworking manager of a luxury spa in pricey Puget Sound.

That's when it hit him. Many of his own employees at Gravity Payments had similar money problems. He was making $1million a year, and the lowest-paid of his workers was averaging about $35,000.

So he decided he would cut his pay, first to $50,000, rising to $70,000 by the end of 2017.
CEO raises workers' minimum pay to $70,000 a year

Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments, reportedly stunned his employees with the announcement that workers' minimum wage would rise over the next few years to $70,000.

That would make his compensation mirror his company's lowest-paid employees — after he gave them generous raises.

Read it all and take the time to see this brief video report so you can see the worker's reactions.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySacramental Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We take you to Buffalo, New York where a growing grassroots movement has begun among large—and often empty—urban churches across the country. Old and struggling houses of worship have adopted the popular flash mob idea to encourage larger numbers of people to show up at a specific church and attend Mass on a given Sunday. Using social media to organize participants, the goal of a Mass mob is to fill empty pews and collection plates, inspire parishioners to return to church, and support significant sacred sites and houses of worship that have helped define their cities. But some say Mass mobs are not enough of a long-term solution to the many problems historic old city churches face

Read or watch it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted April 17, 2015 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Armen Keteyian: Describe your emotional state at that point in time.

Mike Pressler: Really pissed. Really shocked that they would have this party first and foremost. But anyway, I asked each one of 'em to their face, one at a time. The astonishment on their face. And when you know your people, I knew exactly from their reaction to the allegations this was absolutely untrue.

The problem was, few others did. This is how the late Ed Bradley described the media storm surrounding the Duke rape case here on "60 Minutes":

The district attorney, Mike Nifong, took to the airwaves giving dozens of interviews, expressing - with absolute certainty - that Duke lacrosse players had committed a horrific crime.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMediaMenSexualitySportsViolenceWomenYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 17, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On bringing back certain moral vocabulary

There are certain words that have been passed down through the generations that we've sort of left behind. And some of them have quasi-religious connotations, but I don't think they need to. Those are words like grace — the idea that we're loved more than we deserve — redemption and sin. We now use the word sin in the context of fattening desserts, but it used to be central in the vocabulary, whether you're religious or not; an awareness that we all sin and we all have the same sins — selfishness, self-centeredness. And I think rediscovering that word is an important task because without that you're just too egotistical. You don't realize how broken we all are at some level.

On how writing and researching the book changed his religious life

I'm a believer. I don't talk about my religious life in public in part because it's so shifting and green and vulnerable. And so I've spent a lot of time in this book — and if you care about morality and inner life and character, you spend your time reading a lot of theology because over the last hundreds of years it was theologians who were writing about this. Whether you're a believer or not, I think these books are very helpful. It's amazing to read [The Confessions of St. Augustine, about] a guy who got successful as a rhetorician but felt hollow inside; a guy who had a mom, Monica, who was the helicopter mom to beat all helicopter moms, and how he dealt with the conflict with such a demanding mother. And so I read a lot of theology — whether it's C.S. Lewis or Joseph Soloveitchik, a rabbi — and it's produced a lot of religious upsurge in my heart. But it's also fragile and green [and] I don't really talk about it because I don't want to trample the fresh grass.

Read it all (or better) listen to it all (Hat tip: CM).
link is fixed

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

2 Comments
Posted April 17, 2015 at 6:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Beer has its Budweiser. Cigarettes have Marlboro. And now, from Nevada to Massachusetts, pioneers in the legal-marijuana industry are vying to create big-name brands for pot.

When the legalization movement began years ago, its grassroots activists envisioned a nation where mom-and-pop dispensaries would freely sell small amounts of bud to cancer patients and cannabis-loving members of their community. But the markets rolling out now are attracting something different: ambitious, well-financed entrepreneurs who want to maximize profits and satisfy their investors. To do that, they’ll have to grow the pot business by attracting new smokers or getting current users to buy more.

To hear these pot-preneurs talk is to get a better sense of how the legalized future could unfold and just how mainstream they believe their product can become. Says Joe Hodas, chief marketing officer at Dixie Elixirs & Edibles, a Denver maker of pot food products: “I want to get that soccer mom who, instead of polishing off a glass of wine on a Saturday night, goes for a 5-mg [marijuana] mint with less of a hangover, less optics to the kids and the same amount of relaxation.”

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted April 16, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

2) Finances cripple us.

Years ago, it didn't cost upward of $200,000 for an education. It also didn't cost $300,000-plus for a home.

The cost of living was very different than what it is now. You'd be naive to believe this stress doesn't cause strain on marriages today....

3) We're more connected than ever before, but completely disconnected at the same time.

Let's face it, the last time you "spoke" to the person you love, you didn't even hear their voice.

You could be at work, the gym, maybe with the kids at soccer. You may even be in the same room....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyMenSexualityWomenYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted April 12, 2015 at 12:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You may read the Episcopal Bishop here and and the Roman Catholic Bishop there.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 11, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This month The Library of America will publish Reinhold Niebuhr: Major Works on Religion and Politics, which gathers four of his books, along with writings on contemporary events from the 1920s to the 1960s, a selection of prayers, and sermons and lectures on faith and belief.

The volume is edited by Niebuhr’s daughter Elisabeth Sifton, an editor and book publisher for forty years and the author of The Serenity Prayer: Faith and Politics in Times of Peace and War. We recently interviewed Sifton on why Niebuhr’s writings continue to fascinate and challenge today’s readers.

What’s the aim of this collection, what sorts of pleasures, discoveries, and insights do you hope readers will find?

Reinhold Niebuhr, my father, was a writer and thinker who engaged fully in his times—from 1914 and World War I, through the heady 1920s, into the Great Depression, then World War II, the “nuclear age” and the Cold War. This book shows how he wrestled with the spiritual and political issues of those times: many of them are with us still, and some are with us always. In America—where he was born and raised, his very German name notwithstanding—he worked for better working conditions for people caught up in the rush of industrialization, he called for social justice in all our communities, and he strove for better relations between races. In international affairs, he ceaselessly advocated policies that would lessen the risk of war, and he argued that a rich and newly powerful nation like the US should learn better how to conduct itself vis-à-vis other nations. I hope readers will find wisdom here that deepens their understanding of our world today.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchBooksHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologySeminary / Theological Education

0 Comments
Posted April 11, 2015 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Forty years ago, Lee Elder became the first black golfer to play in the US Masters - but when he qualified for the tournament, he received death threats and wondered whether taking part might cost him his life.

The crowds gathered at the opening hole of the Masters in 1975 were used to watching a black man stride on to the first tee. But Lee Elder was not there to carry the clubs of a white competitor - he was there to play.

It was one of the last colour barriers in US sport.

"When I arrived at the front gate and drove down Magnolia Lane that's when the shakes began. It was so nerve wracking. I said a prayer and asked for help to get me through the day," says Elder.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsSports* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted April 10, 2015 at 11:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Presbyterian Church (USA) regional body located in California has been accused of putting a Korean congregation's effort to leave the mainline denomination to a standstill.

Last year, Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church of Rowland Heights voted overwhelmingly to seek dismissal from PCUSA over the denomination's growing acceptance of homosexuality.

Out of 817 votes casted in the March 2014 vote, 738 voted to leave, 74 voted to stay, and 5 votes were dismissed.

Despite that, the PCUSA Presbytery of San Gabriel has not apparently finalized the dismissal as of this month, according to the Korean-American Christian publication Christianity Daily.

Read it all from the Christian Post.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Well, that discomfort may seem religious, but segregationists felt justified by scripture too. They got over it; their churches got over it; so will yours.

It’s not that simple. The debate about race was very specific to America, modernity, the South. (Bans on interracial marriage were generally a white supremacist innovation, not an inheritance from Christendom or common law.) The slave owners and segregationists had scriptural arguments, certainly. But they were also up against one of the Bible’s major meta-narratives — from the Israelites in Egypt to Saint Paul’s “neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free.”

That’s not the case with sex and marriage. The only clear biblical meta-narrative is about male and female. Sex is an area of Jewish law that Jesus explicitly makes stricter. What we now call the “traditional” view of sexuality was a then-radical idea separating the early church from Roman culture, and it’s remained basic in every branch of Christianity until very recently. Jettisoning it requires repudiating scripture, history and tradition in a way the end of Jim Crow did not.

Except we know now, in a way people writing the Bible couldn’t, that being gay isn’t a choice.

I take a different view of what they could have known. But yes, the evidence that homosexuality isn’t chosen — along with basic humanity — should inspire repentance for cruelties visited on gay people by their churches.

But at Christianity’s bedrock is the idea that we are all in the grip of an unchosen condition, an “original” problem that our wills alone cannot overcome. So homosexuality’s deep origin is not a trump card against Christian teaching.

I know smart Christians who disagree with you.

So do I. I just think their views ultimately point in a post-biblical, post-Christian direction.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted April 10, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At campuses across the country, traditional ideals of freedom of expression and the right to dissent have been deeply compromised or even abandoned as college and university faculties and administrators have capitulated to demands for language and even thought policing. Academic freedom, once understood to be vitally necessary to the truth-seeking mission of institutions of higher learning, has been pushed to the back of the bus in an age of “trigger warnings,” “micro-aggressions,” mandatory sensitivity training, and grievance politics. It was therefore refreshing to see the University of Chicago, one of the academic world's most eminent and highly respected institutions, issue a report ringingly reaffirming the most robust conception of academic freedom. The question was whether other institutions would follow suit.

Yesterday, the Princeton faculty, led by the distinguished mathematician Sergiu Klainerman, who grew up under communist oppression in Romania and knows a thing or two about the importance of freedom of expression, formally adopted the principles of the University of Chicago report. They are now the official policy of Princeton University. I am immensely grateful to Professor Klainerman for his leadership, and I am proud of my colleagues, the vast majority of whom voted in support of his motion.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted April 9, 2015 at 4:36 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Despite the images we’ve seen splashed across the web of Islamic State fighters driving around Syria and Iraq in American Humvees and waving U.S.-made weapons, there really isn’t all that much American military gear floating around out there.

But what equipment has been captured by the radical Islamists has the tendency to float upward toward the leadership who covet the “elite” U.S. gear, according to a group cataloging illicit arms transfers.

Speaking to a small April 7 gathering at the Stimson Center in Washington, Jonah Leff, director of operations for Conflict Armament Research said that American equipment actually “represents a small fraction” of the 40,000 pieces of gear his teams have cataloged in northern Iraq and Syria since last summer. He said that includes only about 30 U.S.-made M-16s and roughly 550 rounds American-produced ammunition.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 8, 2015 at 4:56 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As I am in the US for the first time in many years, I find myself longing for the simplicity of Maua, Kenya, during Easter time. There Easter has none of the commercial trappings we find here. As I enter grocery stores, discount stores, and department stores I am shocked at the amount of space taken by the Easter candy, bunnies and stuffed animals, baskets, decorations, and new spring clothing. These items take more space than any grocery store has for all their goods in Maua.

I recently read that an estimated $2 billion will be spent on Easter candy this year in the US. Two billion dollars to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who asked us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give water to the thirsty, house the homeless, care for the sick and imprisoned, and welcome the stranger.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsEaster* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryAfricaKenyaAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted April 8, 2015 at 3:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If the opponents of that law were arguing that the Indiana statute tightens the federal standards a notch too far, that would be compelling. But that’s not the argument the opponents are making.

Instead, the argument seems to be that the federal act’s concrete case-by-case approach is wrong. The opponents seem to be saying there is no valid tension between religious pluralism and equality. Claims of religious liberty are covers for anti-gay bigotry.

This deviation seems unwise both as a matter of pragmatics and as a matter of principle. In the first place, if there is no attempt to balance religious liberty and civil rights, the cause of gay rights will be associated with coercion, not liberation. Some people have lost their jobs for expressing opposition to gay marriage. There are too many stories like the Oregon bakery that may have to pay a $150,000 fine because it preferred not to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex ceremony. A movement that stands for tolerance does not want to be on the side of a government that compels a photographer who is an evangelical Christian to shoot a same-sex wedding that he would rather avoid.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted April 1, 2015 at 10:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The evening concluded with the story of how Wendy Stovall, an assistant pastor in Utah’s Unification Church, started by Rev. Sun Myung Moon, found her way from Zimbabwe to a London park, where she met a friend from that faith.

Raised as an Anglican, Stovall found little comfort in that tradition after her divorce as a young woman. The Unification Church, she said, held many answers to the theological questions that troubled her. “God,” she said, “was taking a role in my life.”

That view was a common thread in the evening’s tapestry.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureWomen* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianOther FaithsBuddhism

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Every religious tradition has its skeletons and its saints, and sometimes they are the same people. Paul is warning his hearers not to count themselves better than their ancestors, for they all depend on the same rootstock – a root that nourishes the olive tree or the grape vine we cling to as intimate connection to God as Creator of all. That root is why we are here, and it is also why the LDS church is here.

When General Convention shows up here just over 3 months from now, many of the volunteers and dispensers of hospitality will be our sisters and brothers from that tradition. Will we recognize their welcome as a product of the same root, or will we assume that they come from a different and unrecognizable species?

Complexity defines human beings and their relationships, which just might convince us of the otherness of God. Difference is part of God’s creativity, from the riotous diversity of the species of creation to the inner chaos of most human beings. Paul names it when he says he wants to do the right thing, but he does something else instead.[8] Nevertheless, when people stay connected to that one rootstock, God can usually be found to bring something new and holy out of the mess.

Branches that seem radically different grow on the same tree and the same vine, even though we love to hate the ones who are not like us. We often in the church focus our attention on differences in reproductive customs and norms – yet both the grape vine and the olive tree has multiple ways to be generative. Flowers can be fertilized by pollen from the same plant or another one. The fruit and seeds that result are eaten by birds and animals and left to grow far from the original plant, yet they are still related. The vine also generates new branches from its rootstock or from distant parts of its branches. But all those kinds of vines and branches are related, however they come about.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsMormons* Theology

5 Comments
Posted March 31, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After the Supreme Court ruled in 1997 that the RFRA applied only to the federal government, states responded with mini-RFRAs requiring this "compelling government interest" test in their religious liberty cases. Of these, Indiana's RFRA is the 20th.

There is no excuse for refusing to serve a lesbian couple at a restaurant and to my knowledge no state RFRA has ever been used to justify such discrimination. But if we favor liberty for all Americans (and not just for those who agree with us), we should be wary of using the coercive powers of government to compel our fellow citizens to participate in rites that violate their religious beliefs. We would not force a Jewish baker to make sacramental bread for a Catholic Mass. Why would we force a fundamentalist baker to make a cake for a gay wedding?

For as long as I can remember, the culture wars have been poisoning our politics, turning Democrats and Republicans into mortal enemies and transforming arenas that used to be blithely bipartisan into battlegrounds between good and evil. Now our battles over "family values" are threatening to kill religious liberty. And liberals do not much seem to care.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 31, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Freedom and duty often go hand in hand, as Indiana legislators quickly learned last week. After the state approved a law reinforcing religious liberty, a national protest claimed the measure could be used by religious owners of small firms to refuse business to gays and lesbians. In fast retreat, top lawmakers said the new act would soon be amended to prevent such discrimination.

This national upheaval, coming after clashes over similar measures in other states, seems to pit civil rights against religious freedom. In recent years, nearly half the states have followed a federal law in setting strong protections for religious practices. The measures insist that courts find a compelling government interest before imposing a burdensome rule on a person in the exercise of his or her faith.

Whether religious-liberty laws end up violating other rights and interests largely remains to be seen. In at least two cases so far, state courts have ruled they cannot trump anti-discrimination regulations. Yet the rhetoric on both sides about potential harm can often be overhyped and overgeneralized. Each case must be judged on its merits with a calm eye for accommodation and context.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted March 31, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Once again, it is crucial to note that we are talking about legislation, then and now, built on the same template as that used by a bipartisan coalition that including a stunningly wide range of secular and religious groups.

Thus, the Times of 1993 noted:
President Clinton hailed the new law at the signing ceremony, saying that it held government "to a very high level of proof before it interferes with someone's free exercise of religion."

J. Brent Walker, general counsel of the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs called the new law "the most significant piece of legislation dealing with our religious liberty in a generation."

His sentiments were echoed by many other members of an unusual coalition of liberal, conservative and religious groups that had pressed for the new law. The coalition included the National Association of Evangelicals, the Southern Baptist Convention, the National Council of Churches, the American Jewish Congress, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Mormon Church, the Traditional Values Coalition and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyMediaReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted March 31, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Scientology’s power over its followers is coming under new scrutiny because of the HBO documentary “Going Clear,” which premieres March 29 and is based on Lawrence Wright’s 2013 book of the same name. As Wright reported, Scientology has long relied on an arcane lingo that helps induct adherents into founder L. Ron Hubbard’s complex mythology while also isolating them from the outside world. “I’ve had a lot of former Scientologists tell me,” Wright said to me, “that it took quite a while for them to sort out what was a real word and what was a Scientology term.”

Hubbard began his superlatively prolific writing career in the 1930s as a sci-fi author for pulp magazines like Astounding Science-Fiction. At the time he started work on “Dianetics,” the ur-text of Scientology, he was corresponding with a group of prominent sci-fi writers who were all influenced by the ideas of Polish-American philosopher Alfred Korzybski. Korzybski believed that semantic training — correcting the flaws in abstract language that block one’s understanding of concrete things — could help cure various emotional and physical disorders. In part inspired by Korzybski, “Dianetics,” published in 1950, introduced a wide array of neologisms, jargon, and acronyms designed specifically for Hubbard’s new program.

Hubbard liked putting quirky twists on existing words: “Enturbulate,” using the Latin root from “disturb,” means “to upset”; to “hat,” as a verb, is to train for something; “havingness,” “beingness,” and “as-ising” (making something vanish) also pop up frequently. Many of his terms describe the central practice of Scientology: the “audit,” a space-age twist on Freudian psychoanalytic therapy. An “auditor” questions the subject, called the “preclear” — who is held back from spiritual progress by the “engrams,” or recordings of traumatic memories, in his “reactive mind,” a negative unconscious contrasted with the “analytic mind.” The goal is to discover the “basic-basic,” the subject’s original harmful memory, which sometimes dates back to before birth.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted March 30, 2015 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Who (or what) is God?

Does prayer work?

Is there an afterlife?

Can you be spiritual and not religious?

These are just some of the questions TODAY is asking this week in the series "Do You Believe?" An in-depth look at faith and spirituality, this series will examine the many ways spirituality can be communicated and displayed, and feature real-life stories of survival and how faith played a role.

Read it all.


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

0 Comments
Posted March 29, 2015 at 2:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The National Black Church Initiative (NBCI), a faith-based coalition of 34,000 churches comprised of 15 denominations and 15.7 million African-Americans, has broken its fellowship with Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) following its recent vote to approve same-sex marriage.

The Presbyterian General Assembly, the top legislative body of the PCUSA, voted last June to revise the constitutional language defining marriage. This arbitrary change of Holy Scripture is a flagrantly pretentious and illegitimate maneuver by a body that has no authority whatsoever to alter holy text.

Rev. Anthony Evans, NBCI President noted:

"NBCI and its membership base are simply standing on the Word of God within the mind of Christ. We urge our brother and sisters of the PCUSA to repent and be restored to fellowship."

Read it all.


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

1 Comments
Posted March 29, 2015 at 2:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

First, the Episcopal Church needs a strong voice within its deliberations that will continue to champion a classical understanding of doctrine and a disciplined approach to the alteration of the church’s discipline. That is, we need advocates who are willing and able to teach the doctrines of the creeds and to champion authentic Christian discipleship rooted in the sacraments and spirituality that have been handed over to us. The church’s discipline—those things that are not doctrine but around which the church orders its common life—needs to be carefully thought through and alterations to it should be backed by solid theology and connections into our core doctrine. A catholic movement within the Episcopal Church ought to be able to make this case with credibility and conviction. It shoud have a clear sense of why we do what we do and be able to speak sensible with those who disagree and those who are undecided.

Second, there are many in the councils of the church who are quick to dismiss anything coming from an “Anglo-Catholic” source as inherently problematic because of an assumption of bias and irrelevance. Almost every time I opened my mouth in meetings or offered a proposal, there were those on my committee who would immediately suggest that my recommendation was somehow anti-women and anti-lay. As a layman married to a female priest, I found this bizarre! Or, alternatively, that what I proposed was of no interest to the broader church because it only addressed the needs of a shrinking “boutique” spirituality that had no connection or application to modern church life. They had slotted me into a mental pigeonhole and, despite abundant evidence to the contrary, were ready to dismiss me beause of biases they assumed I held (but didn’t).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: AnalysisEpiscopal Church (TEC)Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted March 29, 2015 at 1:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Laws that disparately impact Christians can protect others from Christian attempts to take over society. If these laws are couched in terms of religious neutrality—like the “all comers” policies for student organizations—then those with Christianophobia can endorse them without worry about being stigmatized as bigoted. (There is a similar phenomenon noted in race/ethnicity scholarship. Public policy measures that seem racially neutral can work to the disadvantage of people of color. Restrictive immigration policies are theoretically racially neutral, but disproportionally affect Hispanic Americans.)

This helps to crystallize the current conflict in our society between conservative Christians and those with hatred towards them. Christians face economically, educationally, and socially powerful individuals who seek to drive them from the public square. Many with Christianophobia are convinced that conservative Christians will drag our society back into the Dark Ages and must be stopped with any measure that cannot be defined as overt religious bigotry.

An important challenge Christians have is to convince such individuals that they have the same rights to influence the public square as anyone else. Learning how to communicate, and hopefully find ways to co-exist, with them will help determine whether there will be a persistent cultural conflict or if a truce is possible.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted March 28, 2015 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Just because the Middle East’s descent into chaos is hardly the fault of the Obama administration, that doesn’t mean its policies in the region are not an egregious failure.

The situation in the region is unprecedented. For the first time since the World Wars, virtually every country from Libya to Afghanistan is involved in a military conflict. (Oman seems to be the exception.) The degree of chaos, uncertainty, and complexity among the twisted and often contradictory alliances and enmities is mind-boggling. America and its allies are fighting alongside Iran to combat the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria but in Yemen, the United States and many of those same regional partners are collaborating to push back Iranian-backed Houthi forces. Israel and Saudi Arabia are closely aligned in their concerns about Iran while historical divisions between the two remain great. Iran supports Bashar al-Assad in Syria; the United States and Western allies deplore his policies but tolerate his presence while some of the rebel forces we are supporting in the fight against the Islamic State in that country seek his (long overdue) removal. The United States wants the states of the region to stand up for their own interests — just not in Libya or when they don’t get America’s permission first.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted March 28, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Stunningly, Mr Putnam finds that family background is a better predictor of whether or not a child will graduate from university than 8th-grade test scores. Kids in the richest quarter with low test scores are as likely to make it through college as kids in the poorest quarter with high scores....

There are no obvious villains in this story. Mr Murray suggested that the educated classes preach the values they practise by urging the poor to get married before they have children. But the record of those who tell other people how to arrange their love lives is hardly encouraging. Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama preached the virtues of responsible fatherhood, to no obvious effect.

Mr Putnam sees “no clear path to reviving marriage” among the poor. Instead, he suggests a grab-bag of policies to help poor kids reach their potential, such as raising subsidies for poor families, teaching them better parenting skills, improving nursery care and making after-school baseball clubs free. He urges all 50 states to experiment to find out what works. A problem this complex has no simple solution.

Read it all.



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

1 Comments
Posted March 27, 2015 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We have no respect for a surgeon who goes in but does not cut deeply enough to cure nor a patient who backs out of an operation because it may hurt; yet people can go through their whole lives attending church, listening to searching exposures of human sin, without ever taking it to themselves, or meeting anyone with skill and concern enough to lay the challenge right in their own laps.
--Experiment of Faith (New York: Harper&Row, 1957), p.22 (emphasis mine)

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So what does our fascination with tales of the afterlife tell us? A few things, but the most important recurring theme in Entertaining Judgment is that we partake in narratives that ease anxiety about our lives. In other words, stories about the hereafter make us feel better about the here.

Tales of ghosts, for instance, “beckon us forward toward our future . . . to become the people we are called to become.” Stories from people who returned from the dead might “shine a light into the unknown and tell us something that might assuage our anxieties”; they tell us that human beings can change and grow. Vampire stories satisfy “our desire for an eternal life in which we will be perfected” and “tap into our spiritual and emotional desires to have that which is good now . . . and could only be better when we are perfected spiritual beings.”

Demons and devils may be symptoms of our failure to “take ourselves and our own evil seriously.” Angels teach us that “we are endowed with choice . . . that it is really up to us.” Tales of a heavenly realm have “helped to dry the tears of the suffering and offered the possibility of some greater meaning in our earthly lives.” Hell, too, can assuage doubts about the world’s goodness: For “every real-life spectacle that appalls or irritates—racial cleansing, chemical warfare, children kidnapped and held as sexual slaves, stop-and-go traffic—hell offers itself as a partial explanation, and as a powerful [image] that helps to explain, at least to some extent, the existence of such cruelty and suffering.”

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted March 25, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For reporting purposes at Barna, we often combine atheists and agnostics into one group, which we call skeptics....

[There]..are five demographic shifts among skeptics in the past two decades.

They are younger. Skeptics today are, on average, younger than in the past. Twenty years ago, 18 percent of skeptics were under 30 years old. Today that proportion has nearly doubled to 34 percent—nearly one-quarter of the total U.S. population (23%, compared to 17% in 1991). By the same token, the proportion of skeptics who are 65 or older has been cut in half, down to just 7 percent of the segment.

They are more educated. Today’s skeptics tend to be better educated than in the past. Two decades ago, one-third of skeptics were college graduates, but today half of the group has a college degree.

More of them are women....

Read it all.



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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. auto production is nearing all-time highs on the back of strong domestic demand and steady export increases. But American-made cars and trucks are increasingly loaded with parts imported from Mexico, China and other nations.

The U.S. imported a record $138 billion in car parts last year, equivalent to $12,135 of content in every American light vehicle built. That is up from $89 billion, or $10,536 per vehicle, in 2008—the first of two disastrous years for the car business. In 1990, only $31.7 billion in parts were imported.

The trend casts a cloud over the celebrated comeback of one of the nation’s bedrock industries. As the inflow of low-cost foreign parts accelerates, wages at the entry level are drifting away from the generous compensation packages that made car-factory jobs the prize of American manufacturing.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationScience & TechnologyTravel* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 24, 2015 at 4:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. veterans gather on the Japanese island of Iwo Jima to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the one the most iconic battles of World War II.

Watch it all.



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

1 Comments
Posted March 24, 2015 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[James] Eversull's parents were determined to help him. The family drove almost 400 miles from their home in Louisiana to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.

St. Jude was named after the patron saint of lost causes for a reason.

"These children were often turned away," said Dr. Donald Pinkel about his years as a young doctor in the 1950s. He went on to become the first medical director at St. Jude. "A lot of physicians just didn't want to handle this situation — it was so sad."

Read or listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineHistoryMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 24, 2015 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The film,Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, is based on Lawrence Wright’s similarly titled book-length exposé and will premiere on March 29.

Since news emerged of the documentary, Scientologists have been trying to counter the film’s arguments which isn’t at all surprising considering Scientology’s notorious methods for dealing with its critics in the past.

The film, itself, covers one such stoush the Church had with the US Internal Revenue Service who was ready to rule that Scientology should pay tax because it isn’t a religion.

David Miscavige, the leader of the Church of Scientology, retaliated by persuading thousands of Scientologists to sue individual officials of the agency.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths

3 Comments
Posted March 24, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For middle-class Americans, it’s never been easier to feel consumed by consumption. Despite the recession, despite a brief interlude when savings rates shot up and credit-card debt went down, Americans arguably have more stuff now than any society in history. Children in the U.S. make up 3.1% of the world’s kid population, but U.S. families buy more than 40% of the toys purchased globally. The rise of wholesalers and warehouse supermarkets has packed our pantries and refrigerators with bulk items that often overflow into a second fridge. One-click shopping and same-day delivery have driven purchasing to another level altogether, making conspicuous consumption almost too easy.

Our stuff has taken over. Most household moves outside the U.S. weigh from 2,500 lb. to 7,500 lb. (1,110 kg to 3,400 kg). The average weight of a move in the U.S. is 8,000 lb. (3,600 kg), the weight of a fully grown hippo. An entire industry has emerged to house our extra belongings–self-storage, a $24 billion business so large that every American could fit inside its units simultaneously.

It would be one thing if all our possessions were making us happier, but the opposite seems to be occurring. At least one study shows that a home with too much stuff can actually lead to higher levels of anxiety. “These objects that we bring in the house are not inert,” says UCLA anthropologist Elinor Ochs, who led a decade-long study on hyperacquisition. “They have consequences.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted March 24, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Shaughnessys celebrate Christmas, Harry says, for some of the same reasons other people do: "Because it's a great time to get together, care for each other and have a party."

"And who doesn't want a tree with pretty lights in their house?" Charlotte chimes in.

Since they aren't Christian anymore, the Shaughnessys shape their own holiday traditions. One year, they stretched Christmas across a week, with celebrations leading up to December 25. "That sounds so Jewish now," Harry jokes. It was anticlimactic, Grace says. When Christmas came, they had nothing left to give, nowhere to go. The ritual was not repeated.

But the Flying Spaghetti Monster stuck.

The Church of the FSM, as "Pastafarians" call it, is a faux religion founded in 2005 to satirize creationism. It has since become a symbol for everything atheists find silly and superstitious about faith.

Read it all.

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

2 Comments
Posted March 23, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Radical Islamic groups are using high-quality videos to recruit young Muslims in the US and Europe to join their fight. Now, a Somali Muslim immigrant in Minnesota is fighting back with his own videos—an animated series called “Average Mohamed” that counters extremist ideas about Islam.

Read or watch it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted March 23, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Teachers in Cranston, Rhode Island, have filed a lawsuit against the city's school department after their requests to observe Good Friday were denied in a move they say violated their civil rights.

About 200 teachers contacted the union to report that they were being prevented from taking the day off, although they had provided more than the contractually required 24 hours' notice, said Liz Larkin, president of the Cranston Teachers' Alliance.

However, teachers' requests to observe the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah in the fall were approved, Larkin said.

"That's my big concern here, is equity," Larkin said.

Read it all.

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

1 Comments
Posted March 22, 2015 at 2:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is an off-season like no other in the National Football League. Young players, with many games and millions of dollars potentially ahead of them, are walking away from the country’s most popular sport.

Linebacker Chris Borland of the San Francisco 49ers, one of the top rookies in the N.F.L. last season, is the latest case, and perhaps the most noteworthy. He said Monday that he was retiring because of concerns about his safety, and his decision may have ripple effects well beyond the professional ranks.

“Somebody said we’re at the beginning of the beginning, and that might be true,” Jeff Borland, Chris’s father, said Tuesday in a telephone interview regarding whether his son’s decision would influence parents of young football players.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted March 22, 2015 at 2:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The way to eliminate potholes, or at least diminish their number, is to keep the roads in good shape, with regular resurfacing. But far less is being done than required. And the same goes for the rest of the infrastructure in the US: not just roads, but ports and airports, bridges, railways and power grids, those boring basics that keep a country running. America, to believe the title of a recent television documentary on the subject, is falling apart – literally.

Not so long ago the opposite was true. The US was the shining future that had already arrived. It had the best technology, the most modern cities, the fanciest cars, the most up-to-date airports. The jewel in the crown was the interstate highway system, built in the 1950s and 1960s to knit a continent together.

Alas, sooner or later, youthful beauty fades. And so it is with America’s infrastructure. Many of those projects date back to the immediate post-war years, even to FDR’s New Deal to counter the Great Depression. More than half a century later, they’re in desperate need of overhaul or replacement.

Surveys merely confirm America’s relative slide.

Read it all from Rupert Cornwell.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryTravelUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 22, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"Matthew was crazy about theology, a total idealist about studying theology. … But he wanted to learn history and philosophy and art and everything else," said Pentiuc. "I don't know anyone else who read so much and absorbed so much, so soon. It was going to take him 10 or 15 years to fully synthesize what he knew and to find his mature voice."

Friends joked that they could say "Go!" and challenge Baker to connect random subjects – such as "Duran Duran," a rock band, "GMOs," a genetics term, and "Apollinarianism," a 4th Century heresy – and "he would come up with authentically deep links between them," said Damick.

It's easy to imagine three or more books emerging from existing lectures, papers and research by Baker, noted Damick. But all the books and academic tributes in the world cannot answer the ultimate questions being asked by loved ones and friends mourning this loss.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOrthodox Church

1 Comments
Posted March 21, 2015 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The proximate cause of Iraq’s unraveling was the increasing authoritarian, sectarian and corrupt conduct of the Iraqi government and its leader after the departure of the last U.S. combat forces in 2011. The actions of the Iraqi prime minister undid the major accomplishment of the Surge. [They] alienated the Iraqi Sunnis and once again created in the Sunni areas fertile fields for the planting of the seeds of extremism, essentially opening the door to the takeover of the Islamic State. Some may contend that all of this was inevitable. Iraq was bound to fail, they will argue, because of the inherently sectarian character of the Iraqi people. I don’t agree with that assessment.

The tragedy is that political leaders failed so badly at delivering what Iraqis clearly wanted — and for that, a great deal of responsibility lies with Prime Minister Maliki.

As for the U.S. role, could all of this have been averted if we had kept 10,000 troops here? I honestly don't know. I certainly wish we could have tested the proposition and kept a substantial force on the ground.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsIraq WarPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistanMiddle EastIraq* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted March 20, 2015 at 3:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On her first morning in America, last summer, my daughter went out to explore her new neighborhood — alone, without even telling my wife or me.

Of course we were worried; we had just moved from Berlin, and she was just 8. But when she came home, we realized we had no reason to panic. Beaming with pride, she told us and her older sister how she had discovered the little park around the corner, and had made friends with a few local dog owners. She had taken possession of her new environment, and was keen to teach us things we didn’t know.

When this story comes up in conversations with American friends, we are usually met with polite disbelief. Most are horrified by the idea that their children might roam around without adult supervision. In Berlin, where we lived in the center of town, our girls would ride the Metro on their own — a no-no in Washington. Or they’d go alone to the playground, or walk a mile to a piano lesson. Here in quiet and traffic-safe suburban Washington, they don’t even find other kids on the street to play with. On Halloween, when everybody was out to trick or treat, we were surprised by how many children actually lived here whom we had never seen.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted March 20, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Few of those he influenced identified him with the institutions that claimed his leadership. Many knew him as the consultant who came to their towns and churches to listen and recommend—averaging about 150 on-site church consultations per year. I don’t know if the Guinness Book of World Records includes an award for the most parishes consulted, but Lyle Schaller would no doubt hold the record with thousands and thousands of visits to local congregations. At these churches, he took a repeated approach of gathering statistics and interviewing church leaders, youth, ministers’ spouses, non-leader congregants, and pastors from nearby churches. At the end of each consultation, he reported his 360-degree view, analysis and list of practical suggestions for congregational health and growth. Along the way, he pretty much avoided conflicted churches, at least he declined those obviously in a fight; he identified himself as a consultant and not as a conflict mediator.

Tens of thousands of interviews in churches ranging from mainline to independent and liberal to conservative gave him a mental data base to write, co-author, or edit almost 100 books selling over two million copies. Add his monthly monographs of “The Parish Paper” reaching 200,000 subscribers and we’re talking about penning millions of words about and to the churches of America. His writing style was distinctively his own with long, long sentences including long, long lists.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted March 20, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




Return to blog homepage

Return to Mobile view (headlines)