Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

These debt statistics come from Debt.org:

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Doctors rarely talk about death.

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

How does 38 percent sound?

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon




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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

And the right has nothing to contribute to the conversation.

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read or watch it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Read it all and examine the map.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon


It was a Tuesday afternoon when my 15-year-old son called from his academic summer program at a leafy New England boarding school and told me that as he was walking across campus, a gray Acura with a broken rear taillight pulled up beside him. He continued along the sidewalk, and two men leaned out of the car and glared at him.

“Are you the only nigger at Mellon Academy*?” one shouted.

Certain that he had not heard them correctly, my son moved closer to the curb, and asked politely, “I’m sorry; I didn’t hear you ... ”

But he had heard correctly. And this time the man spoke more clearly. “Only ... nigger,” he said with added emphasis.

My son froze. He dropped his backpack in alarm and stepped back from the idling car. Within seconds, the men floored the sedan’s accelerator, honked the horn loudly, and drove off, their laughter echoing behind them....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychologyRace/Race Relations* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

4 Comments
Posted October 12, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An Iraqi provincial leader has issued a plea for US ground forces to head off total collapse in the country's largest province, a swathe of territory that could serve as a springboard for an assault on Baghdad by forces of the so-called Islamic State.

The call by Sabah al-Karhout, the president of Anbar's provincial council, will test the nerve of officials in the Iraqi and American capitals. It comes as a rash of suicide bombings in Baghdad late on Saturday killed more than 50 people and wounded nearly 100, mostly in Shiite districts of the city.

Set beside the ongoing failure of US-led airstrikes to turn the tide in the battle for Kobane, a small Kurdish community in the north of neighbouring Syria, and desperate fighting in the oil refinery town of Baiji, north of Baghdad, Mr Karhout's appeal will leave many in the region and beyond wondering how the US and its allies intend to save an entire country, when seemingly they can't save a single town.

Read it all from the SMH.


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

5 Comments
Posted October 12, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Watch it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEuropean Central BankHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe U.S. GovernmentFederal Reserve* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Europe* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 11, 2014 at 10:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I admire Isabel Sawhill deeply, but I respectfully disagree with this recommendation.

First, American marriage isn’t disappearing, it’s fracturing along class lines. In upscale America — about one-third of the society — marriage is thriving. Most people marry, few children (fewer than 10 percent) are born to unmarried mothers, and most children grow up through age 18 living with their two married parents. Among the more privileged, then, marriage clearly functions as a wealth-producing arrangement, a source of happiness over time, and a benefit to children.

Indeed, scholars today increasingly identify America’s marriage gap — in which the affluent reap the benefits of marriage while the non-affluent increasingly do not — as an important driver of rising American inequality. Wouldn’t it be odd, and sad, if American elites, at the very moment in which the role of marriage as both an indicator and producer of high status in their own lives is crystal clear, decided to throw up their hands in resignation when it comes to marriage in the rest of the society?

Second, changing what we support from “marriage” (a social institution) to “responsible parenthood” (a piece of advice) means downplaying the role of society and putting all responsibility on the individual.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted October 10, 2014 at 4:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Most of the tutors, not all of whom are church members, have just finished a full day at work. “We never start by just opening the books,” said Jon Findley, a bank data-base manager who has been volunteering for 24 years. “These kids bring their day with them. So you listen. It’s important that they know someone wants to hear about their lives. I don’t want to be another person who lets them down.”

Since the program started in 1964—one night a week, that first year, in the church basement—more than 6,000 children have been taught. Now tutoring is available four nights a week. The children who journey downtown from some of the city’s bleakest, most dangerous neighborhoods could be excused for complaining about the hand life has dealt them. But complaining is easy; working to better oneself is hard. The volunteers could be excused—even commended—if they chose only to give money to charities instead. But writing a check is easy; being the person who does something—the one who shows up—is hard.

The rewards, though, are lasting. Tamatha Webster’s daughter no longer has to struggle to learn in chaotic classrooms. She has been a faithful attendee on tutoring nights for seven years now, and because of her intelligence and diligent work has been awarded a scholarship to one of Chicago’s finest private schools.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Laity* Culture-WatchBooksChildrenEducationReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 10, 2014 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Las Vegas is such an impossible, unlikely place, a neon metropolis in the middle of the desert. Equally marvelous and unlikely is the technology that allows me to safely retrieve and freeze my eggs for future use, without a single incision. Because egg freezing only recently lost its “experimental” status and the success rates are not as well known as with embryo freezing, I decided to keep my options open and freeze both eggs and embryos. It feels a little bit like I’m living in a science fiction novel.

Now, a few months post-retrieval, I wonder when and how I will decide to use the eggs I’ve just nourished, protected, collected, and frozen. It’s possible I’ll meet someone and have children the traditional way. It’s possible I’ll marry in time for one child, but need to return to my frozen eggs for a second one. It’s possible I’ll decide to be a single mother, the way my mother was for many years. It’s possible I’ll adopt or decide not to have children at all, and be equally happy. But if I do have a daughter or son some day from the eggs I retrieved, I look forward to telling my child about the unexpected summer night in Vegas when it all started.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicinePsychologyScience & TechnologyWomen* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 10, 2014 at 10:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Midterm elections rarely excite the general public, but 2014 is shaping up to be an especially underwhelming cycle for many Americans. With about a month remaining in the congressional races, 15% are very closely following news about the midterms — down from similar periods before the elections in 2010 (25%) and 2006 (21%).

Our new survey, which was fielded Oct. 2-5, found that an additional 22% of the public said they are following the midterm election news fairly closely, 25% said not too closely, and 39% said not at all.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistorySociology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted October 9, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For many evangelicals, the Osteens are on the periphery of Christianity. They represent the “prosperity gospel”—a message that claims that God will bless the faithful with financial gain. Prosperity preachers often live extravagant lifestyles and point to their wealth as evidence of their message. They often quote biblical passages, taking them very literally, to further their claims that God’s desire is health and wealth.

Many evangelicals, however, assert that God doesn’t work in this way. Faithfulness to God doesn’t mean blessings from above, especially in such worldly pursuits. They try to distance themselves from the prosperity gospel, claiming that it doesn’t represent Christianity but a misunderstanding of it.

It is possible, however, that the Osteens represent not the margins but the center of evangelicalism. Considering the Osteens’ popularity, they garner a sizable audience that shouldn’t be ignored. Additionally, when one compares the Osteens to other popular evangelical authors such as Max Lucado and Rick Warren, several patterns emerge, suggesting that Osteens aren’t that far from what most evangelicals are looking for.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

2 Comments
Posted October 8, 2014 at 1:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Huge expansions in credit followed by crises and attempts to manage the aftermath have become a feature of the world economy. Today the US and UK may be escaping from the crises that hit seven years ago. But the eurozone is mired in post-crisis stagnation and China is struggling with the debt it built up in its attempt to offset the loss of export earnings after the crisis hit in 2008.

Without an unsustainable credit boom somewhere, the world economy seems incapable of generating growth in demand sufficient to absorb potential supply. It looks like a law of the conservation of credit booms. Consider the past quarter century: a credit boom in Japan that collapsed after 1990; a credit boom in Asian emerging economies that collapsed in 1997; a credit boom in the north Atlantic economies that collapsed after 2007; and finally in China. Each is greeted as a new era of prosperity, to collapse into crisis and post-crisis malaise.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEuropean Central BankThe U.S. GovernmentFederal Reserve* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaChinaEurope

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An estimated 2.8 million older adults in the United States meet the criteria for alcohol abuse, and this number is expected to reach 5.7 million by 2020, according to a study in the journal “Addiction.” In 2008, 231,200 people over 50 sought treatment for substance abuse, up from 102,700 in 1992, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a federal agency.

While alcohol is typically the substance of choice, a 2013 report found that the rate of illicit drug use among adults 50 to 64 increased from 2.7 percent in 2002 to 6.0 percent in 2013.

“As we get older, it takes longer for our bodies to metabolize alcohol and drugs,” said D. John Dyben, the director of older adult treatment services for the Hanley Center in West Palm Beach, Fla. “Someone might say, ‘I could have two or three glasses of wine and I was fine, and now that I’m in my late 60s, it’s becoming a problem.’ That’s because the body can’t handle it.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyAlcoholismDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & Medicine* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 7, 2014 at 2:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Rt. Rev. Kee Sloan’s new novel “Jabbock” is almost a lifetime in the making.

Now a bishop in the Episcopal Church for the Diocese of Alabama, Sloan first put pen to paper while in seminary in 1978. The story, he said, is that of a young man growing up south of Vicksburg. In the woods behind his house, he stumbles across a man fresh out of prison, living off catfish caught from the bayou. Through the book, the boy grows up alongside this man as he recovers his faith.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted October 7, 2014 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The switch to Heights Community Church goes hand-in-hand with church leadership’s effort to re-brand the church into something more welcoming to new and younger churchgoers.

The sign outside, on the corner of Grandin Road and Memorial Avenue Southwest, was altered weeks ago, but the change inside the church is intangible.

“What we’re doing, culminating this Sunday in our launch, has been tectonic shifts,” the Rev. Nelson Harris said. “I truly have never been more passionate or excited about my pastoral ministry or this church than I am at this moment.”

Harris, a former Roanoke mayor, has been a pastor for 25 years and was baptized, married and ordained at what is now Heights Community Church. Following a nationwide trend of declining church participation, the crowds for his Sunday sermons were getting smaller.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureTeens / YouthYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted October 7, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Kelly Wood, 29, and her husband Ethan Bushman married last month, waiting seven years after they met in order to further their education and careers.

“I felt if I had gotten married at an earlier age, it would have been too young,” said Wood, a nurse in San Francisco whose husband is 30 and finishing a graduate degree. “Just being older and more established in our careers and our goals in life, that groundwork is letting us enter into marriage as strong as we can.”

Couples in the U.S. are increasingly postponing marriage, a decades-long pattern exacerbated by financial struggles still facing young adults five years after the end of the deepest recession since the 1930s. The delays are contributing to a lower birth rate and less homeownership, limiting consumer spending.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingMarriage & FamilyPsychologySociologyYoung Adults* General InterestPhotos/Photography* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 7, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Peter Hong raises his voice to the congregation he pastors in Logan Square, a mixed-income neighborhood in Chicago. “Your entire debt is paid in full!” he shouts, as “Amen!” and “All right!” echo back from the pews. As he bounds across the stage, his red-checked shirt untucked over jeans, he exudes enough energy to fill the cavernous, high-ceilinged Seventh-day Adventist church that New Community Covenant rents on Sundays.

The pews are packed full, with a multiethnic, multigenerational gathering that includes more than Hong’s fellow Korean Americans. Hong is 44 but brims with youthfulness as he displays his own brand of impassioned preaching, a firebrand of grace. But then the tone of the service shifts as Hong jumps off the stage and confesses without pretense: He is bone-weary from more than 12 consecutive years of ministry. Congregants return the flow of grace, pouring down the aisles in droves to surround and pray for him.

One of the people who approaches Hong is Trinity Evangelical Divinity School professor Peter Cha, who has mentored countless Asian Americans as an educator, pastor, and former staff member with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Asia* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 6, 2014 at 4:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A giant milestone in the moral revolution passed today when the U.S. Supreme Court turned down every single appeal from several states on the issue of same-sex marriage. This decision not to take at least one case under consideration stunned both sides in the same-sex marriage battle. Last weekend’s edition of USA Today featured a front-page story that declared the virtual certainty that the Court would take at least one of the cases and declared same-sex marriage to be “a cause whose time has come.”

Well, same-sex marriage may well be an issue whose time has come in the culture, due to the massive moral shift that has taken place over the last few decades, but the nation’s highest court has decided that now is not the time for it to take up such a case. Faced with the opportunity either to stop same-sex marriage in its tracks or to hand down a sweeping decision tantamount to a new Roe v. Wade, the Court took a pass.

Some will argue that the Court’s decision was a strategic choice intended to preserve its dignity and stature. Already, many defenders of natural marriage are doing their best to argue that the Court’s refusal to take a case is better for the cause of marriage than a sweeping decision in favor of same-sex marriage. The proponents of same-sex marriage had hoped for just such a decision, and attorneys were jockeying for position, wanting to be the lead counsel for the “gay marriage Roe decision.” But make no mistake, the proponents of same-sex marriage won this round, and they won big. They did not get the sweeping coast to coast ruling they wanted, but what they got was an even faster track to the same result.

Read it all.

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

9 Comments
Posted October 6, 2014 at 3:48 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The American official coordinating the international coalition fighting the Islamic State said on Friday that the Iraqi military would not be ready for a campaign to retake Mosul, the largest Iraqi city under insurgent control, for as much as a year.

Mosul has become a symbol of the strength of the Islamist insurgency, which has made the city its stronghold, and of the failure of the Iraqi security forces, which wilted in June as militants swept across the Syrian border and overran the city as they pushed toward Baghdad.

The broad timeline given by the official, retired Gen. John R. Allen, seemed to reflect the immense challenges facing the Iraqi military command and its international partners, including about 1,600 American troops deployed by President Obama, as they seek to rebuild the Iraqi security forces.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UKEuropeMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Brianna and Chris Lindsay married in June, they had the church, the minister, the bridesmaids … and a foot-washing ceremony for the bride and groom.

It was, they said, a sign of their mutual submission.

“First he took off both of my shoes and we had a water basin and pitcher,” said the bride, recalling the five-minute ceremony during which a friend read a poem about the couple. “In return, I got down in my dress, took off his socks. … It probably was a little awkward for us — maybe a little — but we felt like it was an important message to show people.”

In an age of big-ticket destination weddings and reality show “bridezillas,” some evangelical Christians are opting for what writer Catherine Strode Parks calls “ A Christ-Centered Wedding.”

Read it all.

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

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Posted October 5, 2014 at 6:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Both Taylor's loss of "higher times" and Rushkoff's burden of the "infinite present" help us understand why we're so compelled by things like the Rapture—or anything apocalyptic. Living in a flattened timescape, we long for moments to take us out of the profane and everyday. In the absence of "higher times," global disasters and narratives of apocalypse stand in as sacred moments that rupture the monotony of secular time. "Where were you when . . . ?" is a question of almost spiritual gravitas for anyone alive on 9/11 or the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Especially since the advent of mass broadcasts of breaking news, we mark time by shared moments of global calamity and terror, existential pauses that give us transcendent perspective.

These are real if perverted expressions of our longing for the "higher" time we've lost, for pivot points in history, for an escape from the present. In a world where there's "nothing new under the sun," where generations come and go "but the earth remains forever" (Ecc. 1:4), we long to be part of an unexpected story, to witness something significant. But must that "something significant" be the earth's fiery end?

Christians of all people need not buy into the prevailing culture's preoccupation with doomsday. Let the world have its apocalyptic versions of the Rapture—Christians have something better. Surely there are movies to be made about not destruction, but resurrection.

Read it all.

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

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Posted October 5, 2014 at 6:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

She dreamed of the bustling streets of Los Angeles and the leafy towns of Pennsylvania. She dreamed of working two jobs, not three. She dreamed of sleeping, really sleeping, for six or seven hours at a stretch.

But dreams rarely pay the rent. So Ms. Fernandes worked three jobs, at three Dunkin’ Donuts stores in northern New Jersey, shuttling from Newark to Linden to Harrison and back. She often slept in her car — two hours here, three hours there — and usually kept the engine running, ready in an instant to start all over again.

The last day of her life was no different. She got off work at 6 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 25, and climbed into her 2001 Kia Sportage, officials from the Elizabeth Police Department said. She was dreaming again, this time about taking a break to celebrate a milestone with friends. But first, she told her boyfriend, Mr. Carter, during a brief cellphone conversation, she was going to take a nap.

Read the whole heart breaking tale.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 4, 2014 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Pew Research Center recently released a study claiming that a quarter of Millennials will never get married, and those that will won't get married until they're older. While it's true that Millennials are waiting longer to get married, the data ignores generational traits driving young people to tie the knot.

The statistics are grim. In 1960, only 9 percent of adults older than 25 had never married. As of 2012, that number has increased to 20 percent. In 1960, the average marrying age for men was 23-years-old and for women was 20-years-old. Census data from 2012 shows that the average age of marriage has jumped to 29 for men and 27 for women. Over half of never-married adults say they would like to marry someday (53 percent), a third (32 percent) are unsure, and 13 percent say they would never like to marry. These statistics lead Pew to conclude, "When today's young adults reach their mid-40s to mid-50s, a record high share (25 percent) is likely to have never been married."

However, Pew's assumptions ignore core truths about Millennials' views towards marriage and their life-long chances of getting married.

Read it all.


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

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Posted October 3, 2014 at 4:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One of the hardest things for us to do is to envision a future that is different from the present. For instance, we live in an age of paralyzed politics, so it is hard, in the here and now, to imagine what could change that. A second example: It is difficult to think of a scenario where federal gun legislation could be passed over the objections of the National Rifle Association. And a third: Income inequality has been the trend for some three decades; doesn’t it look as if it will always be that way?

What prompts these thoughts are two papers that landed on my desk recently. Although they tackle very different issues, they have one thing in common: They imagine a future that breaks from the present path.

The first is a draft of a speech given earlier this month at TEDMED by Daniel Webster, the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research. (TEDMED is associated with TED Talks.) The second is an article in the latest edition of the Harvard Business Review by Roger Martin, the former dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

No one reasonably disputes that attendance in Christian churches is in sharp decline. The real lingering question is "why?" which is one of the most important questions I take on in my new book, postChristian: What's left? Can we fix it? Do we care?

Though it's not solely responsible, the Internet -- along with the way it changes the way we interrelate, communicate, seek and consume information -- is certainly doing its part to contribute to the decline. And it's not just Church that is feeling the pinch; any hierarchic system in which the institution traditionally has played the role of guard, gatekeeper or mediator is finding their authority challenged.

As for why now, the answer is more complex than any single factor. On the one hand, changing domestic, social and economic systems have caused us to spread out and move around far more than before. The churches, as a result, are no longer social hubs of neighborhoods any more. And along with being social hubs, churches also served as economic engines, as businesspeople networked after worship or over a potluck meal. Now we just use LinkedIn.

Read it all.

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

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Posted October 3, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In many ways, the denominational model, in the strictly proper sense, already is largely a thing of the past, said Larry Hovis, executive coordinator of CBF of North Carolina.

Technically, Baptists constitute one denomination. Popularly, most Baptists have viewed their own religious organization within the wider Baptist family — Southern Baptist Convention, CBF, American Baptist Churches, the various predominantly African-American National Baptist groups — as its own denomination with related organizations at state or regional levels.

Churches in these “denominations” worked together in a system to accomplish shared objectives.

They also provided a theological framework for each other and, in many cases, offered little autonomy to their members, he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted October 3, 2014 at 4:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A little over three years ago, I wrote a column titled “The 2% Economy,” explaining how a recovery with only 2% GDP growth, no new middle-class jobs and stagnant wages wasn’t really a recovery after all. Like everyone, I hoped that once growth kicked up to about 3%, middle-class jobs and wages would finally revive.

But we’re now in a 3% economy, and I’m writing the same column. Only this time, the message is more disturbing. Growth is back. Unemployment is down. But only a fraction of the jobs lost during the Great Recession that pay more than $15 per hour have been found. And wage growth is still hovering near zero, where it’s been for the past decade. Something is very, very broken in our economy.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentFederal ReservePolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 2, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When God answers prayer, he tends to do it in the South.

At least, so say Americans who participated in a new poll from LifeWay Research sponsored by popular pastor and author Max Lucado. Southerners (31 percent) are twice as likely as Northeasterners (15 percent) to say all of their prayers have been answered. African Americans (38 percent) also have a greater propensity to say this than whites (22 percent) and Asian Americans (19 percent).

Overall, one in four Americans report that God answers all their prayers, while eight in 10 say at least some of their prayers are answered. Protestants are just a tad more likely to sense a response: 30 percent said God answers all of their prayers, and 87 percent said God answers at least some. Only 3 percent of Protestants said their prayers are never answered.

Read it all.

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

2 Comments
Posted October 2, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It’s not every day that a coalition of legal minds is rooting for a violent inmate convicted of stabbing his girlfriend in the neck.

When Gregory Holt’s case arrives at the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday (Oct. 7), lawyers won’t be arguing about what landed him a life sentence in an Arkansas state prison, but rather what he wanted to do once he got there: grow a beard in observance of his Muslim religious beliefs.

The state of Arkansas says he can’t. Holt — a convert to Islam who now calls himself Abdul Maalik Muhammad — says he would keep his beard no longer than half an inch. But prison officials, backed by the state’s attorney general, argue that even such a short beard poses security risks.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPrison/Prison MinistryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted October 1, 2014 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics looks into its crystal ball, it sees an aging population in need of care and a construction industry still rebounding from the Great Recession. In the decade from 2012 to 2022, the fastest growth in U.S. employment will take place in the health care, health care support, construction, and personal care fields. These four categories are expected to account for more than a third—about 6.6 million—of all new jobs.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted October 1, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control have confirmed that a person in Dallas definitely has the Ebola virus. Tuesday’s official determination makes the Dallas patient the first diagnosed Ebola case in the United States.

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are holding a press conference at 4:30 p.m.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

21 Comments
Posted September 30, 2014 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The policies available on the Obamacare exchanges are hastening this trend. Many enrollees are opting for the bronze and silver plans, which often carry deductibles upwards of $5,000 and $2,000, respectively.

“The bronze plans are scaring a lot of administrators because the patient liability is so large,” said Debra Lowe, administrative director of revenue cycle at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. “Patients are unaware they have this high deductible.”

Upfront payments aren’t usually required, but more hospitals are asking patients to settle the bill in advance. If patients can’t afford the charges, some hospitals place them into financial assistance programs, such as payment plans or low-interest loans. Others help them sign up for Medicaid or individual coverage on the Obamacare exchanges. Patients can still opt to wait until after the bill goes through their insurance.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted September 30, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Episcopal Church was one of the pioneer churches of Dell Rapids, the Guild being organized when the town was only eight years old. In 1879, the idea of building an Episcopal Church was brought up, and a meeting was held in the sitting room of the Exchange Hotel to discuss raising funds. In the meantime, a warehouse was purchased for $100 and moved to a lot on Pearl Street (now 4th Street) and made suitable for holding church services. The lot was purchased from Peter Morse, the town’s founder.

Read it all.

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

1 Comments
Posted September 29, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While Madison Square Garden’s sold-out shows usually include headliners like Bruce Springsteen, Madonna or Arcade Fire, Sunday’s reception for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to draw an equally massive crowd of nearly 20,000 Indian Americans. Modi’s appearance at the midtown Manhattan entertainment venue is part of his first trip to the U.S. as leader of the world’s largest democracy and comes at a time when people of both countries continue to see each other in a largely positive light.

In India, a majority of the public (55%) has a favorable view of the U. S., including 30% with a very positive outlook, according to a Pew Research survey conducted last spring. Only 16% see the U.S. unfavorably, while 29% offer no opinion. These high ratings are essentially unchanged from late last year, when 56% of the Indian public gave the U.S. positive marks.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Asia* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 28, 2014 at 5:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

LAWTON: Butler says she wants to develop a church setting where she and her congregation members can wrestle together with difficult questions.

BUTLER: What does the Bible mean in our day and age? Does it mean anything? Or does God exist? Questions like that that people are wondering. And then to get to a personal level: I am in pain, my child is sick, where is God in all of this? I need to ask those questions, and I need to have a safe place where I can just say I don’t know the answers.

LAWTON: She’s open about her own struggles, including a painful divorce and the challenges of being a single mother to three children, ages 20, 17, and 16.

BUTLER: I want to be in a community of people who see me as a real person who is asking these questions, who is living through points of pain and fear and questioning just like they are.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 28, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even with their technological head start, the U.S. and its allies are coming late to this battle for hearts and minds. Social media’s volume, velocity and verisimilitude have left the U.S. struggling to counter it and mine the communication for reliable information.

By the end of this year, the Geneva-based International Telecommunications Union projects that 55 percent of the world’s 2.3 billion mobile broadband subscriptions will be in developing countries, where unemployed youth can use them to access messages from Islamic State and other extremists.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationMediaScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* General InterestPhotos/Photography* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 27, 2014 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is heading to New York this weekend to meet with India Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Haley's office said Friday the governor will be joined by her husband and her parents, who were born in India. Haley will also spend some time in private discussions with Modi on Sunday.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaIndia* South Carolina

0 Comments
Posted September 27, 2014 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Inmates in suicide-proof gowns scream and bang on their cell doors one floor below Terri McDonald’s office in the Twin Towers Correctional Facility. The bedlam is a reminder, if she needs one, that the mentally ill population in the largest U.S. jail system is out of control.

It’s a “shameful social and public-safety issue,” said McDonald, the assistant sheriff who runs Los Angeles County’s jails. “I believe we can do better. I believe at some point in the future we’ll look back and wonder, ‘What took so long?’”

That’s been a question for years. Conditions for mentally ill inmates in the county have been a focus of federal probes since 1997, and the number with psychiatric disorders was an issue in a recent debate over a new jail. Keeping a mentally ill person behind bars can cost more than $50,000 annually, while treatment could run two-thirds less. Criminal justice systems from Seattle to Miami with aggressive jail-diversion efforts have cut inmate headcounts -- and lowered recidivism rates.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPrison/Prison MinistryPsychologyMental Illness* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 27, 2014 at 7:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the high divorce rate has ceased to shock or even concern many people. Divorce has become an acceptable, normal fact of life. The predominant view is that many marriages break down through no fault on the part of either spouse: they simply “grow apart.” And so—the thinking goes—one cannot expect married men and women to keep their vows to remain devoted to each other until death parts them. If marriage is a love relationship, and the love has died, is it not pointless to continue with the charade of “marriage”?

But this conventional wisdom is based on a redefinition of what marriage is. In the traditional understanding, the term “marriage” is reserved for the comprehensive union of a man and a woman—bodily, emotional, and spiritual—of the kind that would be naturally fulfilled by conceiving and rearing children together (even though in some instances that fulfillment is not reached). In the alternative view, marriage is seen as an essentially emotional and sexual relationship that, by implication, can be dissolved when the relationship is no longer emotionally fulfilling.

This false view has caused marriage to be fragile and has led to immeasurable tragedy for children, wives, and husbands. In this view, children are only extrinsic additions—burdens or benefits. And if the emotional closeness has been lost, it seems to follow that the marriage itself has simply broken down of its own accord and can be dissolved. This view has led to the rising divorce rates we’re seeing reported.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 26, 2014 at 4:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A California charter school has decided to pull Corrie ten Boom’s Holocaust memoir, The Hiding Place, from its library because the content was deemed too religious. Where to begin? It’s impossible to separate remembrance of the Holocaust from matters of faith; only a modern educator would try.

According to the report of a parent at the school, library staff were told to “remove Christian books, books by Christian authors, and books from Christian publishers.”

When the Pacific Justice Institute, a Christian legal defense group, sent a cease-and-desist notice, the school superintendent responded, “We . . . do not allow sectarian materials on our state-authorized lending shelves.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationHistoryPhilosophyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Europe* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsJudaismSecularism* Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 26, 2014 at 3:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Finally, people behave better if they know their friends are observing. Friendship is based, in part, on common tastes and interests, but it is also based on mutual admiration and reciprocity. People tend to want to live up to their friends’ high regard. People don’t have close friendships in any hope of selfish gain, but simply for the pleasure itself of feeling known and respected.

It’s also true that friendship is not in great shape in America today. In 1985, people tended to have about three really close friends, according to the General Social Survey. By 2004, according to research done at Duke University and the University of Arizona, they were reporting they had only two close confidants. The number of people who say they have no close confidants at all has tripled over that time.

People seem to have a harder time building friendships across class lines. As society becomes more unequal and segmented, invitations come to people on the basis of their job status. Middle-aged people have particular problems nurturing friendships and building new ones. They are so busy with work and kids that friendship gets squeezed out.
Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story
Continue reading the main story

So..[if I could live in a] fantasy world in which I have $500 million, I’d try to set up places that would cultivate friendships.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted September 26, 2014 at 11:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The growing trend of former church buildings being turned into mosques and Islamic centers has reached Kentucky’s largest city where even some once-thriving Southern Baptist facilities are now occupied by Muslims.

“On a trip to England a few years ago, I recall seeing dozens of churches that had become mosques and wondering how it could happen there; now it’s happening here,” said Paul Chitwood, executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

Todd Robertson, pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Louisville, said the religious makeup of the Bible Belt is rapidly changing with declining membership in many Christian congregations and growing participation in Islam and other religions.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted September 25, 2014 at 6:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Doubtless, death is a loss. It deprives us of experiences and milestones, of time spent with our spouse and children. In short, it deprives us of all the things we value.

But here is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long is also a loss. It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.

Americans seem to be obsessed with...a valiant effort to cheat death and prolong life as long as possible. This has become so pervasive that it now defines a cultural type: what I call the American immortal.

I reject this aspiration. I think this manic desperation to endlessly extend life is misguided and potentially destructive. For many reasons, 75 is a pretty good age to aim to stop....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral Theology

17 Comments
Posted September 24, 2014 at 7:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This week concludes our three-part BLOGFORCE challenge. The first challenge was, “Why the Church?” The second was, “Why Anglicanism?” This week, we asked, “Why the Episcopal Church?...”

Holli Powell blogs, “Why Why Why?”

And that’s exactly why the Episcopal Church, at least for this silly, frustrated soul. Because I care enough to keep slogging through this mess with these folks who all care just as much as I do, if not more, rather than separating from everyone and writing my own church creed with a cup of coffee in my hand in my back yard. Because all these arguments and disagreements mean that we are a family, bound together by the blood lines of liturgy and faith and reason, and even if you desperately want to run away from your family sometimes, you don’t get to. Because this institution has survived through hundreds of years in order to be just the thing I needed to remind me that I was a child of God, in order to remind me that everyone else is too. And it will survive hundreds of years more, God willing, in spite of ourselves, to be that for other Grumpy McFussypants just like me.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican IdentityEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 24, 2014 at 6:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian leader, they say, got everything he wanted by attacking Ukraine overtly in Crimea and covertly in the southeast.

The vague cease-fire terms in the southeast are likely to only freeze the conflict. It could leave Russia’s thuggish proxies running the area and create a permanent geographic Taser that Moscow could use to zap Ukraine at will, leaving it unstable and less than sovereign.

The association agreement with the European Union — described by its advocates as the catalyst for broad reform — has been delayed until the beginning of 2016 because of Russian objections, leaving its fate uncertain.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many Yemenis believe that the Houthis are acting as agents of Iran, which backs them. To legitimize their rebellion, the Houthis had to come up with popular proposals to address rising energy prices and incompetence in the government. It was the poor performance of Yemen’s transitional government that allowed them to succeed.

President Hadi, and his government — including Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindwa, who just stepped down — failed miserably to deliver basic services, spur economic development and, most important, create jobs. Unemployment was one of the main drivers of the revolt against Mr. Saleh.

The international community should have supported Yemen to ensure its successful transition to stability and development. Instead, the international community largely turned its back on Yemen as it sank further into poverty, chaos and extremism. The United States concentrated almost solely on counterterrorism, continuing its drone strikes on Qaeda militants. Saudi Arabia turned its attention to other parts of the region, ignoring the potential chaos on its southern border.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaYemenEngland / UKEuropeMiddle EastIran* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 23, 2014 at 5:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United States and several Middle East partners pounded Islamic State targets in Syria Tuesday with waves of warplanes and Tomahawk cruise missiles in an aggressive and risky operation marking a new phase in the conflict.

A statement issued by the U.S. Central Command early Tuesday said that a “mix of fighter, bomber, remotely-piloted aircraft and Tomahawk” cruise missiles destroyed or damaged multiple Islamic State targets in several parts of Syria, where a civil war has been raging for more than three years.

The U.S. statement said “partner nations,” including Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, “participated in or supported” the operation. The involvement of these regional allies are key for the legitimacy and logistics of the operation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIranIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 23, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nearly three-quarters of the public (72%) now thinks religion is losing influence in American life, up 5 percentage points from 2010 to the highest level in Pew Research polling over the past decade. And most people who say religion’s influence is waning see this as a bad thing.

Perhaps as a consequence, a growing share of the American public wants religion to play a role in U.S. politics. The share of Americans who say churches and other houses of worship should express their views on social and political issues is up 6 points since the 2010 midterm elections (from 43% to 49%). The share who say there has been “too little” expression of religious faith and prayer from political leaders is up modestly over the same period (from 37% to 41%). And a growing minority of Americans (32%) think churches should endorse candidates for political office, though most continue to oppose such direct involvement by churches in electoral politics.

Read it all.

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

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Posted September 22, 2014 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The dispatch of troops to west Africa may seem an odd priority when American forces are preparing to confront jihadists in Iraq and Syria and are stretched thin elsewhere. Ebola is a disease that is usually absent from human populations, has been quickly stamped out in the past and in its worst recorded outbreak has thus far caused 3,000 known deaths (see article). Moreover it is unlikely to spread widely in rich countries with good health-care systems. Set against killers such as HIV, the virus that kills some 1.6m people a year, or tuberculosis (TB), which takes another 1.3m lives, an expensive fight against Ebola may seem a misallocation of resources.

Yet Ebola is now growing exponentially, with the number of new cases roughly doubling every three weeks or so. In Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, it is thought to be doubling every two weeks. Previous outbreaks were usually in rural villages where it was easier to contain. At this rate of progress, small numbers quickly become big ones, and there is a real risk of the disease spreading to cities such as Lagos, which is home to more than 10m people. The longer Ebola is allowed to replicate in humans, the greater the risk that it will become more contagious. Some virologists fret that it might even acquire the ability to be transmitted through the air by coughs and sneezes. Although this seems unlikely, nobody wants to find out just how quickly Ebola can adapt to humans.

Read it all.

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

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Posted September 22, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(Please note that the above headline is the one given by NPR to the piece as it appear on thier main page--KSH).

Believing in God isn't like believing, correctly or incorrectly, that there are brick houses on Elm Street. What's at stake is not a simple proposition whose meaning is understood and whose truth is up for discussion. God is an idea that is made intelligible, to the degree that it is intelligible, only thanks to the stories we tell about Him or about ourselves and our history. Believing in God is more like believing that a story is true, or that a story is compelling or worthwhile or worth learning or caring about, than it is like believing some fact.

Herodotus said that history is the history of lies. This is a bit of an overstatement. But I get the point. History is made up of stories and stories are often slightly less than, or maybe slightly more than, the truth.

A story teller, like a bank teller, aims at a good count, a well balanced, transparent accounting. And the value of a good story doesn't ever consist in its matching all the facts....

Read or listen to it all.

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

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Posted September 22, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“My sense of the big picture is that we’re moving toward laws like the one in Illinois, which accepts that the demand for surrogacy isn’t going away but recognizes the hazards and adds regulations and protections,” said Joanna L. Grossman, a family law professor at the Hofstra University law school.

The Illinois law requires medical and psychological screenings for all parties before a contract is signed and stipulates that surrogates be at least 21, have given birth at least once before and be represented by an independent lawyer, paid for by the intended parents.

The law allows only gestational surrogacy, in which an embryo is placed in the surrogate’s uterus, not the traditional kind, in which the surrogate provides the egg. In addition, it requires that the embryo created in a petri dish must have either an egg or a sperm from one of the intended parents.

“That eliminates some of the concerns about designer babies,” Professor Grossman said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 21, 2014 at 12:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On more serious matters, [Bishop Blase] Cupich was asked about reports that he had moderate leanings.

He response was that he was “no saint.”

“Labels are hard for anyone to live up to. ... It's not my agenda, it's not what I feel,” he said. “I'm going to try to be attentive to what The Lord wants.”

He pressed for immigration reform, saying it was desperately needed and “every day we delay is a day too long,” he said.

He said he did not think Pope Francis was sending a message to U.S. Catholics with his appointment. “I think his priority is not to send a message but to send a bishop. ... I think he sent a pastor, not a message,” Cupich said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * Theology

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Posted September 20, 2014 at 9:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Both the abused young girls in Rotherham and the ‘Trojan horse’ affair in Birmingham reveal defects in popular ideas of multiculturalism. Properly understood, multiculturalism means respect for different cultures and a recognition that we cannot treat people as isolated individuals but must see them as part of a wider community that gives meaning and purpose to their lives. It does not mean encouraging people to live entirely separate lives or giving complete autonomy to subgroups in society to order their affairs as they wish. Above all multiculturalism does not rule out commitment to an overarching set of values that can unite a wider community of diverse cultures and creeds. It aims at integration, avoiding both assimilation or alienation. Perhaps the phrase ‘interactive pluralism’ suggested by Rowan Williams would be better than multiculturalism.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Rowan WilliamsAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchMulticulturalism, pluralismReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 19, 2014 at 6:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

That the majority of ISIL’s victims are Muslim does not exclude it from being a religiously motivated movement. For ISIL is part of the group within Islam whose motivation is religious - namely, the removal of apostasy.

We should take our opponents self-identity seriously. They are waging war in the name of Islam and in accordance with their Islamic beliefs. They wish to create the Caliphate. Their commitment is more than a power grab for land – it is a religious zeal and if we ignore it, we will seriously underestimate them.

We must not try to conform Islam to Christian ideals of religion. Jesus and Mohammed were very different in their life as well as in their teaching. Jesus arrived in Jerusalem on a donkey to be executed, a week later, for our sins. Mohammed arrived at Mecca in front of an army of 10,000 soldiers to take the city by force. In countries where Christianity has dominated, mosques can be built, the Qur’an can be read and studied and preached in the streets, and citizens can change religion without fear of persecution, let alone execution. None of these corresponding freedoms are available for Christians in countries where Islam holds sway.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 19, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Caitlin Doughty has been cutting pacemakers out of corpses, grinding human bones by hand, and loading bodies into cremation chambers for seven years. But the 30-year-old mortician doesn’t want to keep all the fun to herself: She thinks the rest of us should get to have a little more face time with the deceased. In her new book, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (that’s a cremation joke), Doughty argues for more acceptance of death in our culture—and tries to spark a wave of amateur undertaking.

Are you really saying that people should handle their loved ones’ bodies? Can we do that?

Most people think dead bodies are dangerous or that they’re required to hire a funeral director to prepare a body. I’m a licensed mortician, but I want to teach people that they don’t need me.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchBooksHealth & MedicineHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The fact that there are now two cowboy churches in the Fort Worth Stockyards is a sign of the times: Dozens of these churches have popped up in the last 15 years, constituting a rapidly growing constituency of new Western Christianity that embraces simple services over big-church productions.

Westby's church is a nondenominational congregation with a relaxed, indoor service featuring lots of music and no formal sermon. Miller's, meanwhile, is associated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas and has been open for a little more than a year with a focus on ministry that goes beyond Sunday morning.

The two pastors don't conflict or compete: They say there are enough cowboys, or at least enough people who want to worship like a cowboy, in the Stockyards to go around.

"Talking to someone about religion is like talking about politics," Miller said. "Talk to them about their horses and their spirituality, that's what they connect with."

Read it all.



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

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Posted September 17, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sketched out scenarios in which U.S. Special Forces might need to embed with Iraqi or Kurdish troops engaged in direct combat with Islamic State fighters.

Under questioning from lawmakers, Dempsey acknowledged that Obama has vowed not to send U.S. ground combat forces back into Iraq, less than three years after the president fulfilled a campaign promise to extricate the military from a long, costly and unpopular war there.

But the general revealed that U.S. commanders have already sought permission, on at least one occasion, to deploy small teams of U.S. advisers into battle with Iraqi troops. Dempsey also suggested that, while Obama has held firm, he might be persuaded to change his mind.

Read it all from the Washington Post.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 16, 2014 at 5:48 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Janna Weaver is proud she’s managed to keep her bamboo plant alive for more than a year. She’s not quite ready for a pet yet, and a child? “Definitely not anytime soon.”

“I want to know who I am before I bring someone else into the equation,” said Weaver, 25, who has a master’s degree in exercise physiology and moved with her boyfriend to Dallas in July. “The longer I wait and the more established I am, the more I’ll be able to provide for the family.”

More U.S. millennial women, those born after 1980, are holding off on motherhood, which bodes well for their economic and social mobility and that of their future children, according to recent research. Odds are that lower U.S. birth rates are here to stay, even if some of the recession-induced decline reverses, said Isabel Sawhill, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

Read it all.

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

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Posted September 16, 2014 at 11:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan means that fewer American soldiers are in harm's way. But new data from the Department of Defense suggests that the drawdown has done little to solve the serious problem of military suicides. The rate of military self-inflicted deaths has stayed roughly the same even as combat deaths have fallen.

Last year alone, 475 active service members took their own lives according to a report published last week by the Department of Defense. In the same year, 127 soldiers lost their lives in the line of duty reported icasualties.org — a website that has been documenting war deaths since the Iraq War in 2003. That's the lowest level since 2008.

The same Department of Defense report said that 120 personnel took their own lives in the first quarter of 2014, a rate of nearly one soldier every day. That compares with 43 soldiers who lost their lives on the front line between January 1 and September 11, 2014.

Read it all.


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

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Posted September 16, 2014 at 6:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Police are trying to track down young women whom they believe have been lured over the internet to travel to Syria by Islamic State (Isis) with the promise of cash for babies.

At least three Somali families in Minneapolis have female members who have disappeared in the past six weeks. They are all from the St Paul area of the city. At the end of last month, a 19-year-old Somali woman from St Paul, who left home saying that she was attending a bridal shower, instead flew to Turkey and joined Isis in Syria.

On Friday, Shannon Conley, 19, from Colorado, pleaded guilty to trying to travel to the Middle East to enrol in Isis. She was arrested at Denver International airport in April with a one-way ticket and had been recruited online by a male militant in Syria.

Read it all (subscription required).


Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenReligion & CultureViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 15, 2014 at 5:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Americans' trust in each of the three branches of the federal government is at or near the lows in Gallup's trends, dating back to the early 1970s. Americans' trust in the legislative branch fell six percentage points this year to a new low of 28%. Trust in the executive branch dropped eight points, to 43%, and trust in the judicial branch, at 61%, is also the lowest measured to date.

The data are part of Gallup's annual update on trust in government, conducted in the Sept. 4-7 Governance poll. Gallup previously documented that Americans' trust in the federal government to handle both domestic and international problems slid to new lows this year.

Americans have generally had the least trust in the legislative branch, consisting of the House of Representatives and the Senate, but never lower than the 28% who do so now. The prior low was the 31% measured in 2011, shortly after Congress and the president engaged in contentious debt-ceiling negotiations.

Trust in the legislative branch had recovered slightly during the previous two years, to 34%, but is down significantly this year....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenateState GovernmentSupreme Court* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 15, 2014 at 1:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A “Yes” vote for independence would be an economic mistake for Scotland and a geopolitical disaster for the west, senior US figures – including Alan Greenspan – tell the Financial Times as Washington wakes up to the chance that its closest ally could break up this week.

Having assumed for months that “No” would win comfortably, Washington has reacted with alarm to opinion polls showing that Thursday’s referendum is going down to the wire. “We have an interest in seeing the UK remain strong, robust and united,” said Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UK--Scotland* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 15, 2014 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If the nation’s economy is on the mend, the voters of 2014 aren’t feeling it.

Despite continued signs of a halting but persistent national comeback, midterm voters remain frustrated and unhappy with the state of the economy, according to the latest POLITICO poll of likely voters in 2014 battleground states. Many appear to blame President Barack Obama: 57 percent of these voters disapprove of his economic leadership.

By every measure in the survey, a gloomy mood still pervades the electorate when it comes to kitchen-table issues: Just 23 percent say their personal financial situation has improved over the past year, versus 30 percent who say it has gotten worse.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 15, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

HIRSCH: I was completely shocked when Gabriel died and I tried to go back to work after a while and I couldn't really function at work and so in order to alleviate my grief I began to write a document in which I wrote down everything I could remember about Gabriel. I suddenly became desperate that I would forget things because I'd lost him so suddenly, so completely. It all was sort of a blur and I wanted to remember and I began to talk to my partner, to my ex-wife, to my sisters, to my mother, to Gabriel's friends and every day I went to a coffee shop and I basically tried to tell the story of Gabriel's life....

GREENE: You've said though that poetry is not a protection against grief.

HIRSCH: On the contrary, poetry takes courage because you have to face things and you try to articulate how you feel. I don't like the whole language of healing which seems to me so false. As soon as something happens to us in America everyone begins talking about healing, but before you heal you have to mourn and I found that poetry doesn't shield you from grief but it does give you an expression of that grief. And trying to express it, trying to articulate it gave me something to do with my grief.....

GREENE: Talking about - mourning and grief it makes me want to hear another passage from your poem. It's on page 73, and it starts with, I did not know the work.....

HIRSCH: (Reading) I did not know the work of mourning is like carrying a bag of cement up a mountain at night. The mountaintop is not in sight, because there is no mountaintop. Poor Sisyphus Greif. I did not know I would struggle through a ragged underbrush without an upward path. Because there is no path, there is only a blunt rock with a river to fall into and time with its medieval chambers. Time with its jagged edges and blunt instruments. I did not know the work of mourning is a laborer in the dark we carry inside ourselves. Though sometimes when I sleep I'm with him again and then I wake. Poor Sisyphus Greif. I'm not ready for your heaviness cemented to my body. Look closely and you will see almost everyone carrying bags of cement on their shoulders. That's why it takes courage to get out of bed in the morning and climb into the day.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenDrugs/Drug AddictionMarriage & FamilyPoetry & LiteraturePsychology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyPastoral Theology

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Posted September 15, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop T.D. Jakes, the founding pastor of the 30,000-member The Potter's House megachurch in Dallas, Texas, is making a weekly program based on his latest book as well as a daily talk show for national syndication in 2015 or 2016.

Jakes' weekly program will be based on his book, Instinct: The Power to Unleash Your Inborn Drive, and his daily talk show is also being developed, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Both shows will be produced through his TDJ Enterprises, a for-profit company, and its partners 44 Blue Productions and Enlight Entertainment. The shows will be targeted for national syndication in 2015 or 2016.

Read it all.

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

1 Comments
Posted September 14, 2014 at 2:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash were deeply religious people whose personal and professional lives were imbued with a sense of spiritual struggle and religious engagement. The 2005 biopic Walk the Line was very good at depicting the sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll aspect of Cash’s life and art, but, like almost all Hollywood movies, it steers clear of religion in general and of evangelical Protestant religion in particular. Also left out the film was the story of Johnny and June Carter Cash’s passionate engagement with Israel, an engagement that grew out of their religious beliefs. John’s interest in Israel started with a wish to visit the Christian holy sites and “walk where Jesus walked.” Cash’s initial visit to the Israel in 1966 was followed by a trip with June in 1968 and developed into a lifelong project to serve as advocates for the State of Israel, even when such advocacy was unfashionable among American performing artists.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMusicReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsEvangelicals* Theology

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Posted September 14, 2014 at 12:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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