Posted by Kendall Harmon

'...Bishop Matthews wrote she had informed the chairman of the commission Bruce Gray QC and Archbishop Philip Richardson “I am aware that this matter in the Diocese of Christchurch is causing a high level of angst on all sides. I decided I would be unable to minister effectively in this Diocese and also have membership on the Way Forward Working Group as time progressed. My resignation was a matter of maintaining my integrity and is in no way a judgment on the work that the Way Forward Working Group is attempting to achieve for the next General Synod.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and PolynesiaSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted March 27, 2015 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

AW: So much has been written about World War II and the Holocaust, yet you’ve come up with something entirely fresh and different. Take us through how and why you decided to focus on two adolescents, Marie-Laure and Werner, each saddled with their own hardships, coming of age in France and Germany during that time.

AD: Someone told me once that if you took all the pages of all the books written about WWII and dropped them on Germany, it’d cover the whole country! Who knows if that’s actually true, but I was acutely aware that there was a lot of writing about WWII already out there — much of it breathtakingly good, and written by people for whom the war was memory, not history. So for most of the 10 years I worked on All the Light, I was terrified that I’d settle into a pattern of narrative that had lost some of its power because it had been already done.

One strategy I tried was to mimic the language of fairy tale and allegory: the boy, the girl, the ogre, the cursed gemstone, the imaginary citadel. And another was to try balance that sense of otherworldliness against a hyper-realism; to detail everything as carefully as I could. I thought maybe the juxtaposition of those two techniques might help the novel feel different, in the way a Borges or a Calvino story always feels different, even when they’re describing our world.

Eventually I had to keep telling myself the old humanist dictum: the path to the universal runs through the individual.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryTeens / Youth* International News & CommentaryEurope* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 25, 2015 at 4:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

look at the "amici" who actually filed the briefs. The ones that argue against redefining marriage can be counted on the fingers of one hand. More than ninety percent of the "friendly" briefs are from people and groups who want the laws against same-sex marriages struck down.

The latter include this particular amicus brief, filed by the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, President of ECUSA's House of Deputies, and joined by Bishops White and Hahn of Kentucky; Bishops Gibbs, Houghland, Ray and Ousley from Michigan; Bishops Hollingsworth, Bowman, Persell, Williams, Breidenthal, Price and Rivera from Ohio; and Bishops Johnson and Young of Tennessee, along with other denominations, groups and committees. Moreover, there is a list in Appendix A to the brief of nearly 2,000 priests, many of them Episcopal, who have joined in filing the brief as well. All say that they "support equal treatment for same-sex couples with respect to civil marriage" (Brief, p. 1; emphasis added.)

Now these I have mentioned are all bishops and clergy in the Episcopal Church. What business do they have touting their religious affiliation in endorsing the redefinition of civil marriage? Moreover, look at how -- from they very first page -- they disavow and undermine the very authority of any church to define what marriage is (emphasis again added):

While Amici come from faiths that have approached issues affecting lesbian and gay people and their families in different ways over the years, they are united in the belief that, in our vastly diverse and pluralistic society, particular religious views or definitions of marriage should not be permitted to influence which couples’ marriages the state recognizes or permits.

It is not enough for ECUSA's bishops and clergy to say that the Church's traditional definition of marriage is inadequate for "our vastly diverse and pluralistic society." Not only is that definition no longer serviceable to society at large, but also it should not even be "permitted to influence" what society thinks marriage is!

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: CommentaryEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Bishops* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 25, 2015 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Robots and computer programs could almost wipe out human workers in jobs from cooks to truck drivers, a visiting researcher has warned.

Driverless cars and even burger-flipping robots are among the technological advancements gunning for low-skilled jobs across dozens of industries.

University of Oxford Associate Professor in machine learning Michael Osborne has examined the characteristics of 702 occupations in the US, predicting 47 per cent will be overtaken by computers in the next decade or two.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read or listen to it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

To visualize the antireligion argument, we might think of a video showing the World Trade Center in flames to the accompaniment of John Lennon’s song “Imagine”: “Imagine no religion. . . . Nothing to kill or die for.” Movements like the one behind the so-called Islamic State demonstrate to many people that a world without God would be more peaceful, as it would be a world with fewer reasons to hate. If you are fighting for God against the devil, the argument goes, then there can be no peace short of annihilating the enemy.

Armstrong flatly rejects such easy equations. She admits that wars have often been framed in terms of faith and that none of the world’s religions can boast of clean hands in this regard. But she places the primary blame for violence on changing social and economic circumstances, which create larger and more aggressive political entities, commonly headed by warrior elites and dynasties. Armstrong sees a Darwinian pattern: lands with less determined and less confident elites are rapidly swallowed up by their harder-edged neighbors. For multiple reasons, ancient and medieval states sponsored and supported official faiths, which channeled and consecrated warrior ideals. All religions do this to varying degrees.

To oversimplify Armstrong’s argument: states happen, wars happen, and religion blesses them. Religion thus provides a rhetorical framework for warfare—but not, she argues, the motivation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Kara Tippetts, 38, has died. Metastatic breast cancer took her from her pastor husband, Jason, and their four children on Sunday (March 22).

But in her last years of life, her saga of accepting suffering became, in a quietly powerful way, a cultural force for another way of choosing death with dignity, one that refused to hasten death.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted March 23, 2015 at 3:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I am not neutral. I agree with Dolce and Gabbana. Elton John is wrong. This is not to insult his children or take away from their humanity; nor is it to demean the character of men who love men everywhere. I am just as queer as both of these men. I have been out as bisexual since 1989 and have withstood a great deal of hostility from both the LGBT community and conservative Christians for refusing to use the label “ex-gay” to describe myself.

I also grew up with a lesbian couple without much connection to my father. In the process of writing my most recent book, Jephthah’s Daughters, I dealt with countless testimonials from children of same-sex couples all over the world. Stefano Gabbana gets us. Part of this is because his craft leads him outside of language to the ineffable world of instinct.

You can tell a child in such a home every day, “we are your fathers,” but our bodies and the rest of the visual environment around us will always reveal such words as false. The day-to-day rhythm of life, that quotidian routine that Gabbana must understand for his art but which Elton John does not have to, acts upon the language of same-sex parenting like a trickle of water wearing down a rock. With each day, in all the small gestures and emotional moments, the child puts together a picture of herself in the world and eventually realizes that the same-sex parents have created a world that is . . . what can we call it? Let’s use the language of theater critics: Contrived. Forced. Implausible.

Synthetic.

Read it all from First Things.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPsychologySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

To understand where this cyber-libertarian ideology came from, you have to understand the influence of “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace,” one of the strangest artifacts of the ’90s, and its singular author, John Perry Barlow. Perhaps more than any other, it’s his philosophy — which melded countercultural utopianism, a rancher’s skepticism toward government and a futurist’s faith in the virtual world — that shaped the industry.

The problem is, we’ve reaped what he sowed.

Generally the province of fascists, artists or fascist artists, manifestos are a dying form. It takes gall to have published one anytime after, say, 1938. But “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” was an utterly serious document for a deliriously optimistic era that Wired, on one of its many valedictory covers, promised was a “long boom”: “25 years of prosperity, freedom, and a better environment for the whole world.” Techno-skeptics need not apply.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryPhilosophyPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 22, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In an era of revisionist fairytales such as Frozen and Maleficent, it might be a surprise to find that Branagh’s take on the story of Cinders and her glass slipper is determinedly traditionalist. “I don’t find myself so exercised by a desperation to be new,” he says, pointing out that when you mix a fresh cast with costumes and production design by, respectively, triple Oscar-winners Sandy Powell and Dante Ferretti, “all of these things create a new energy”.

And while the Charles Perrault fairytale has already been immortalised on screen by Disney’s own 1950 animated feature, taking it on held no fear for Branagh, given his experience in re-interpreting Shakespeare. “I choose to be inspired by things that have been done well in the past,” he says. “So, I don’t worry about being compared, because I think that does paralyse you.”

Read it all from the Independent.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMovies & Television* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted March 21, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On the one hand, scientists are excited about these techniques because they may let them do good things, such as discovering important principles about biology. It might even lead to cures for diseases.

The big worry is that CRISPR and other techniques will be used to perform germline genetic modification.

Basically, that means making genetic changes in a human egg, sperm or embryo.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 21, 2015 at 2:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I think luo has something important to teach us in the face of dementia. In the face of deficit, decline, and death we try hard to cling on. But the lesson of the little word luo is that maybe the path of resurrection lies in letting go. If death is starting now, maybe resurrection can start now too.

Perhaps it’s only when we let go of who and what our loved one was that we can receive who they are now. Perhaps only when we find ways to enjoy who they are now can we reverse the deficit and the decline, because we stop assuming they’re moving away from something good and start appreciating that they’re moving into something new.

Dementia is not a living death. It’s an invitation to see how we can remain the same person yet take on new and rather different characteristics. In that sense it’s a training in resurrection, in which we shall be changed but still recognizably ourselves. Like resurrection, we can’t experience it unless we find ways to let go, to let loose, to be released and forgiven. God welcomes us into eternal life not by keeping a tight hold on us but by letting us go. The challenge for us in dementia is to find ways that we can do the same.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicinePsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted March 21, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the end, repentance, not love, has come to symbolise Cranmer himself, his life's work being interpreted by his last days. In the eyes of his critics, Cranmer's recantations prove that at best he was weak and vacillating. In the hearts of his admirers, however, Cranmer's last-minute renunciation of his recantations proved his true commitment to the Protestant faith. But what of Cranmer himself, how did he interpret his last days and the meaning they gave to his life? According to a contemporary account, having previously been distraught, Cranmer came to the stake with a cheerful countenance and willing mind.

Fire being now put to him, he stretched out his right Hand, and thrust it into the Flame, and held it there a good space, before the Fire came to any other Part of his Body; where his Hand was seen of every Man sensibly burning, crying with a loud Voice, This Hand hath offended. As soon as the Fire got up, he was very soon Dead, never stirring or crying all the while.
His Catholic executioners surely thought Cranmer was making satisfaction to his Protestant God. Yet his doctrine of repentance would have taught him otherwise, for the God he served saved the unworthy.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* TheologyAnthropologyChristologySoteriology

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Posted March 21, 2015 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jonathan Haber majored in philosophy at Harvard University. And Yale. And Stanford. He explored Kant’s “The Critique of Pure Reason” with an Oxford don and Kierkegaard’s insights into “Subjectivity, Irony and the Crisis of Modernity” with a leading light from the University of Copenhagen.

In his quest to meet all the standard requirements for a bachelor of arts degree in a single year, the 52-year-old from Lexington, Mass., also took courses in English common law, Shakespeare’s late plays and the science of cooking, which overlapped with the degree in chemistry he earned from Wesleyan in 1985.

Here’s the brilliant part: Mr. Haber didn’t spend a dime on tuition or fees. Instead, he gorged from the smorgasbord of free courses offered by top universities. He documented the project on his website, degreeoffreedom.org, and in a new book exploring the wider phenomenon of massive open online courses, or MOOCs. He didn’t earn a degree — the knowledge may be free but the sheepskin costs dearly — but he was satisfied.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingEducationPsychologyScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One popular excuse for sinning I call the “Margaret Mead Method.” I was reminded of it when flipping through my files and finding an article titled “The Virtues of Promiscuity,” the kind of title that gets your attention.

According to a journalist named Sally Lehrman, writing in The San Francisco Chronicle, anthropologists have found that “‘Slutty’ behavior is good for the species. Women everywhere have been selflessly engaging in trysts outside of matrimony for a good long time and for excellent reasons. Anthropologists say female promiscuity binds communities closer together and improves the gene pool.”

Some primitive tribes, these anthropologists claim, assume that women having sex with more than one man will help them survive, and even thrive. At least twenty “accept the principle that a child could, and ideally ought to, have more than one father.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryMarriage & FamilyMediaSexuality* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted March 20, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Marriage is an inherently public institution designed to recognize and protect natural families, she says—not a “government registry of friendships.” Privatizing wouldn’t get the government out of the marriage business. By removing the presumption of biological parentage, courts would be full of custody battles between unrelated individuals, friends, gamete donors, and whoever else claims parentage. And children would suffer.

That’s isn’t a solution. It creates more problems than it solves.

Read and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted March 19, 2015 at 2:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It’s church time, close to 9 a.m. last Sunday.

Katherine Milligan, 66, walks through the central hallway of the Presbyterian Church of Stanley, feeling more uncomfortable, more spurned and more angry than she has in all her 33 years attending this Overland Park church.

“I’m too old. I don’t care what people think,” the Olathe woman said later, defiant in the battle she has joined. “No one is going to tell me I can’t worship in my sanctuary.”

Yet in late April a trial scheduled in Johnson County District Court will effectively determine exactly that. Judge Kevin Moriarty will hear arguments on who owns this $4.4 million house of God, a white modernist building erected in 1978 on a grassy rise at 148th Street and Antioch Road.

For six months, two factions of the church have been embroiled in what both sides agree has been an ugly and hurtful conflict.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/living/religion/article14448485.html#storylink=cpy

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted March 19, 2015 at 11:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nothing falls outside God’s creative and redeeming purposes, which include our being created male and female, the complementarity and fruitfulness built into our being created male and female, and the permanence of marriage, which is a sign of God’s own covenant fidelity. God is a communion of loving Persons; thus married love, St. John Paul II taught, is an icon of the interior life of the Holy Trinity. God keeps his promises; thus the promise-keepers among us who live the covenant of marriage bear witness to that divine promise-keeping by their own fidelity.

In light of all this, the Christian idea of chastity comes into clearer focus. In the Catholic view of things, chastity is not a dreary string of prohibitions but a matter of loving-with-integrity: loving rather than “using;” loving another for himself or herself. The sexual temptations to which the Church says “No” are the implications of a higher, nobler, more compelling “Yes:” yes to the integrity of love, yes to love understood as the gift of oneself to another, yes to the family as the fruit of love, and yes to the family as the school where we first learn to love. “Yes” is the basic Catholic stance toward sexuality, marriage and the family. We should witness to that “Yes” with a joyful heart, recognizing that the example of joyful Catholic families is the best gift we can offer a world marked today by the glorification of self-absorption.

In a pontificate that has reminded us continuously of our responsibilities to the poor, for whom God has a special care, preparations for the World Meeting of Families are also an opportunity to remind our society that stable marriages and families are the most effective anti-poverty program in the world.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenGlobalizationMarriage & FamilyPovertyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 19, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

ZENIT spoke with Father Tarcisio Giuseppe Stramare of the Congregation of Oblates of Saint Joseph, director of the Josephite Movement, about Tuesday's feast of St. Joseph the Worker....

ZENIT: What does “Gospel of work” mean?

Father Stramare: “Gospel” is the Good News that refers to Jesus, the Savior of humanity. Well, despite the fact that in general we see Jesus as someone who teaches and does miracles, he was so identified with work that in his time he was regarded as “the son of the carpenter,” namely, an artisan himself. Among many possible activities, the Wisdom of God chose for Jesus manual work, entrusted the education of his Son not to the school of the learned but to a humble artisan, namely, St. Joseph.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical Seasons* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted March 19, 2015 at 4:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Presbyterian Church approved redefining marriage in the church constitution Tuesday to include a "commitment between two people," becoming the largest US Protestant group to formally recognize gay marriage as Christian and allow same-sex weddings in every congregation.

The new definition was endorsed last year by the church General Assembly, or top legislative body, but required approval from a majority of the denomination's 171 regional districts, or presbyteries. The critical 86th "yes" vote came Tuesday night from the Palisades Presbytery in New Jersey.

After all regional bodies vote and top Presbyterian leaders officially accept the results, the change will take effect on June 21. The denomination has nearly 1.8 million members and about 10,000 congregations.

Read it all and there are many more stories there.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

7 Comments
Posted March 18, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sometimes a news story drags on bit by bit, piece by piece, over the years and becomes so tedious that reporters miss the dramatic cumulative impact. It also doesn't help that long, slow-developing, nuanced religion stories have been known to turn secular editors into pillars of salt.

So it seems with the lawsuits against conservative congregations and regional dioceses that have been quitting the Episcopal Church, mostly to join the Anglican Church in North America, especially since consecration of the first openly partnered gay bishop in 2003.

The Religion Guy confesses he totally missed the eye-popping claim last year that the denomination has spent more than $40 million on lawsuits to win ownership of the dropouts’ buildings, properties, and liquid assets. If that’s anywhere near accurate it surely sets the all-time record for American schisms. And that doesn’t even count the millions come-outers have spent on lawyers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts SchoriTEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Departing Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMediaReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted March 17, 2015 at 12:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Anderson grew up in modern evangelical “purity culture,” with all its widely documented problems. “I listened to story after story of being unable to feel close to God because of shame, being kicked out of one’s home, losing friends, separation from one’s faith community,” Anderson writes. “Many grew up being told over and over that their virginity was the most important thing they could give their spouse on their wedding night, only to reach that point and realize that having saved themselves didn’t magically create sexual compatibility or solve their marital issues.”

With Damaged Goods, Anderson wants to provide healing for those who have suffered from faulty teaching, and help for those who want to find a better, more genuinely Christian way to live. Anderson believes that the purity culture taught her to pride herself on living a celibate life and to look down on others who failed to live up to her high standards. Today, she regrets that prideful and contemptuous attitude and feels compassion for those who were hurt by it.

The church benefits from such course-correction and calls for healing in the wake of false teachings and unhealthy emphases in its teachings on sexuality. However, Damaged Goods goes further than that, conflating the misguided portions of purity culture—a relatively recent and proscribed phenomenon—with the Scripture-based beliefs about sexuality that the church has taught since its founding.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 17, 2015 at 12:41 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Appallingly high infant mortality rates persist in eight South Carolina counties. Among the awful numbers that fully warrant the “Cradle of Shame” title of a Post and Courier series concluding in today’s paper:

On average, more than 200 newborns have died in those counties during each of the last three years.

Since 2000, 6,696 babies in South Carolina have died before their first birthday.

Eight of our state’s 46 counties lack an obstetrician.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 17, 2015 at 10:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some arguments are hard to settle but are too important to avoid. Here is one: whether the social crisis among America’s poor and working class — the collapse of the two-parent family, the weakening of communal ties — is best understood as a problem of economics or of culture.

This argument recurs whenever there’s a compelling depiction of that crisis. In 2012, the catalyst was Charles Murray’s “Coming Apart,” with its portrait of the post-1960s divide between two fictional communities — upper-class “Belmont” and blue-collar “Fishtown.” Now it’s Robert Putnam’s “Our Kids,” which uses the author’s Ohio hometown to trace the divergent fortunes of its better-educated and less-educated families.

Murray belongs to the libertarian right, Putnam to the communitarian left, so Putnam is more hopeful that economic policy can address the problems he describes. But “Our Kids” is attuned to culture’s feedback loops, and it offers grist for social conservatives who suspect it would take a cultural counterrevolution to bring back the stable working class families of an earlier America.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted March 16, 2015 at 2:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More Americans are saying “I do” more than one time.

Nearly one in five U.S. adults—roughly 17%—has been married two or more times, according to a new analysis by the U.S. Census Bureau of its 2008-2012 American Community Survey. About 4% of U.S. residents age 15 or older have been married three or more times.

The findings—the first snapshot of remarriage trends by the census with levels of geographical detail—are the latest to suggest that, while marriage has declined in the U.S. since the 1960s, remarriage, especially among older Americans, is on the rise.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyMiddle AgePsychologySociology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 16, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If religions are natural for humans and give value to their lives, why spend your life trying to persuade others to give them up?

The answer that will be given is that religion is implicated in many human evils. Of course this is true. Among other things, Christianity brought with it a type of sexual repression unknown in pagan times. Other religions have their own distinctive flaws. But the fault is not with religion, any more than science is to blame for the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or medicine and psychology for the refinement of techniques of torture. The fault is in the intractable human animal. Like religion at its worst, contemporary atheism feeds the fantasy that human life can be remade by a conversion experience – in this case, conversion to unbelief.

Evangelical atheists at the present time are missionaries for their own values. If an earlier generation promoted the racial prejudices of their time as scientific truths, ours aims to give the illusions of contemporary liberalism a similar basis in science. It’s possible to envision different varieties of atheism developing – atheisms more like those of Freud, which didn’t replace God with a flattering image of humanity. But atheisms of this kind are unlikely to be popular. More than anything else, our unbelievers seek relief from the panic that grips them when they realise their values are rejected by much of humankind. What today’s freethinkers want is freedom from doubt, and the prevailing version of atheism is well suited to give it to them.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsAtheism* TheologyAnthropologyApologetics

0 Comments
Posted March 16, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last year, the radio host Diane Rehm watched in agony as her husband, John, starved to death over the course of 10 days.

Severely crippled by Parkinson’s disease, his only option for ending the suffering was to stop eating and drinking. Physicians in most states, including Maryland, where he lived, are barred from helping terminally ill patients who want to die in a dignified way.

“He was a brilliant man, just brilliant,” Ms. Rehm said in an interview. “For him to go out that way, not being able to do anything for himself, was an insufferable indignity.”

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 15, 2015 at 2:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Over time, [Robin] Rinaldi decided a baby would add purpose to their lives, but [her husband] Scott wouldn’t change his mind. “I wanted a child, but only with him,” she explains. “He didn’t want a child but wanted to keep me.” When Scott opted for a vasectomy, she demanded an open marriage.

“I refuse to go to my grave with no children and only four lovers,” she declares. “If I can’t have one, I must have the other.”

If you’re wondering why that is the relevant trade-off, stop overthinking this. “The Wild Oats Project” is the year-long tale of how a self-described “good girl” in her early 40s moves out, posts a personal ad “seeking single men age 35-50 to help me explore my sexuality,” sleeps with roughly a dozen friends and strangers, and joins a sex commune, all from Monday to Friday, only to rejoin Scott on weekends so they can, you know, work on their marriage.

Read it all--in my mind from the Brave new World Department.

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

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


Posted March 15, 2015 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Human embryos have been genetically modified for the first time, leading to the prospect of designer babies, according to a leading scientific journal.

Scientists speaking anonymously to Nature have said that several laboratories have altered the DNA of human embryos, with the results of their work now awaiting publication. Although illegal in much of the world, such techniques would not break the law everywhere, being allowed in Russia and parts of South America.

Alterations to individual human genomes have the potential to revolutionise medical care, enabling genetic diseases to be prevented and significantly lessening the risk of others that are partially genetic, such as some forms of breast cancer.

Read it all (requires subscription)

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted March 14, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“These women,” she said, “had become a quiet, potent force for change. The white community didn’t want black children educated out of their place. Classrooms were spaces where the outside world did not intrude. Within these spaces, Miss Ruby nurtured dignity, self-awareness and obligation to God. She served as a light to others and worked against the mental and spiritual boundaries imposed by Jim Crow. She challenged the students to succeed and understand they were part of a larger world and develop independence and self-sufficiency. She did not call attention to herself while preparing generations of students for their futures.”

Miss Ruby achieved national recognition during her career. Life Magazine and “60 Minutes” featured her. She was a guest on NBC’s Today Show and on ABC’s Good Morning America. She also appeared on the Tonight Show with host Johnny Carson. She received four honorary degrees — from Winthrop, University of the South at Sewanee, the University of South Carolina and Coastal Carolina University.

When she was very ill, she was visited by her close friend, Bishop Fitz Allison, who was accompanied by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Allison said she was the perfect host. “I think he found as much dignity in that room as in Buckingham Palace,” Allison said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchChildrenEducationRace/Race Relations* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 13, 2015 at 2:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In an effort to block the state’s involvement with...[same-sex] marriage, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday (March 10) to abolish marriage licenses in the state.

The legislation, authored by Rep. Todd Russ, R-Cordell, amends language in the state law that governs the responsibilities of court clerks. All references to marriage licenses were removed.

Russ said the intent of the bill is to protect court clerks caught between the federal and state governments. A federal appeals court overturned Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage last year. Russ, like many Republican legislators in the state, including Gov. Mary Fallin, believes the federal government overstepped its constitutional authority on this issue.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

6 Comments
Posted March 13, 2015 at 11:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For his sane and timely books, like 2010’s “Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All,” the pediatrician Paul A. Offit takes much abuse from anti-vaccine activists. He has been called a liar, a profiteer and — in the words of one activist group — a “millionaire vaccine industrialist.”

In “What Would Jesus Do About Measles?,” his New York Times Op-Ed last month, Dr. Offit addressed the false conflict that some perceive between medicine and religious faith, writing that if religion “teaches us anything, it’s to care about our children, to keep them safe.” His new book, “Bad Faith,” offers a history of episodes in which fringe groups abjured modern medicine, with deadly consequences. And he continues his argument that religion, properly understood, should welcome vaccines, as well as other medical interventions.

Unfortunately, Dr. Offit’s book is more a fervent attack job than an earnest attempt to understand people with different, if misguided views. His book is thinly sourced and poorly researched, seeming at times as if he began with a conclusion and then went in search of evidence.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHealth & MedicineReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 13, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Toward the end of his life Stott spoke of his “three renunciations.” First, he decided against an academic career, feeling God had called him to be a pastor. Second was Stott’s renunciation of marriage. Third was his renunciation of the episcopate when some wanted him to be a bishop. His pastoral calling, he felt, remained primary.

As to marriage, Stott said this: “I was expecting to marry. I went about with a weather eye, and in my twenties and early thirties was looking for a possible bride. I did have two girlfriends—not simultaneously but one after t’other! But all I can say is that when the time came to decide whether to go forward in the relationship or not, I lacked the assurance that I should. That is the only way I can really explain it” (pp. 271-72). This was more a circumstantial and passive renunciation than an intentional choice.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilySexuality* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Organisations are constantly playing around with the levers of financial motivation - offering or withholding money as an inducement or a threat. They use individual and team bonuses, cash rewards, profit sharing and company stock as ways of using economic factors to enhance motivation.

But there are some striking examples of motivation outside this system. The military is a central case. In the armed forces, often for very modest pay, people will do extraordinary things. Even die. It's an astonishing contrast. You can pay someone $38,000 a year to die for you. But you struggle to pay someone $45,000 a year to sit in a room and fill in forms.

This tells us that motivation simply cannot be primarily financial. People can be moved by money, but they can be moved and motivated more by other things. The armed forces also tell us something about where the strongest kinds of motivation come from.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMilitary / Armed ForcesPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 12, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jean Vanier, a Canadian who launched an international network of communities for the mentally disabled, has won the 2015 Templeton Prize worth $1.7 million for affirming life's spiritual dimension.

The U.S.-based John Templeton Foundation announced the award on Wednesday in London, calling him "this extraordinary man" whose message of compassion for society's weakest members "has the potential to change the world for the better".

Vanier, 86, founded the first L'Arche ("Ark") community in 1964 when he invited two mentally disabled men to leave their large institution and live with him in a small house in Trosly-Breuil, a village 95 km (60 miles) north of Paris.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchGlobalizationHealth & MedicinePovertyPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryCanadaEuropeFrance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted March 12, 2015 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The thrift store has enjoyed something of a new life as of late, birthing chart-topping pop songs and becoming the shopping destination of choice for hipsters looking for vintage wares that are “authentic.” Of course, such stores, often run by Goodwill or the Salvation Army, serve a non-trendy role, too, as a shopping destination of necessity for America’s working class. It was not always thus.

“As early as the colonial era, writers, politicians, and other vocal critics denounced the sale of used goods,” writes Jennifer Le Zotte in New England Quarterly. Partly, it was born of a vague sense that such goods were sullied or unwholesome, but, writes Le Zotte, some of the opposition can be traced to anti-semitism (in this case, directed at Jewish-owned pawn shops).

One such illustration comes from “The Blue Silk,” a short story in the May 1884 Saturday Evening Post, in which the protagonist, Louisa, buys a pre-owned dress from the “Jewess behind the counter” of a resale store. When she wears it to a party, not only is she is socially ostracized for wearing the old dress of another girl, but she comes down with small-pox because of contamination from the resale store. The story neatly combined earnest bigotry with worries of the moral and physical dangers thought to accompany secondhand clothing.

Read it all from Caitlin Moniz and Zack Stanton in the Wilson Quarterly.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchCharities/Non-Profit OrganizationsHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 11, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Just about everybody has one raging narcissist to deal with, sooner or later -- on the job, in social situations or (God forbid) in the home. How did he get this way, we wonder? What was his childhood like?

For what appears to be the first time, researchers have taken a stab at that question by following and surveying 565 children ages 7 through 11 and their parents -- 415 mothers and 290 fathers.

The results are quite clear: Parents who "overvalue" children during this developmental stage, telling them they are superior to others and entitled to special treatment, are more likely to produce narcissistic children -- who can grow up to become narcissistic adults, unless something is done about it.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The suicide rate among today’s male military combat veterans is two and a half times that of any previous war and three times the rate of the male civilian population. That as many as 44 young veterans are killing themselves every day (more often than not by gunshot) is considered a crisis by those responsible for our veterans’ well-being.

Sixteen weeks of training, no matter how professional and intense, cannot prepare a young man for combat when he has been coddled all of his life by well-intentioned but ignorant parents — parents who honestly believe their children are in a constant state of jeopardy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Violent crime against children is down more than 20 percent since the 1950s.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMilitary / Armed ForcesPsychologySuicide* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 11, 2015 at 9:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A few weeks ago, Linda Woodhead suggested in the Church Times that discipleship was a ‘theologically peripheral concept’, and the following week Angela Tilby dismissed the ‘d-word’ as ‘sectarian vocabulary that…shows the influence of American-derived Evangelicalism on the Church’s current leadership.’ The short discussions in each place actually raise not one but three, inter-related, questions:

1. Is ‘discipleship’ Anglican?

2. Is ‘discipleship’ biblical?

3. Is the Church of England biblical?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryAdult EducationMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

2 Comments
Posted March 11, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“In 1990, 54 percent of marriages were the first for both spouses,” said Jamie Lewis, an analyst in the Census Bureau’s Fertility and Family Statistics Branch and one of the report’s authors. “Now, newlyweds are more likely to be walking down the aisle for the first time — 58 percent of recent marriages were a first for both. The stabilization or slight decrease in the divorce rate during this period may explain why more marriages today are first marriages."

Below are a few highlights from the report:

About 13 percent of men age 15 and over have been married twice, compared with 14 percent of women.
Between 1996 and 2008-2012, the share of those who had married at least twice increased only for women age 50 and older and men 60 and older.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSociology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentCensus/Census Data* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 11, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Saudi Arabia defended its human rights record on Saturday in its first public reaction to international criticism over last year's sentencing of liberal Saudi blogger Raif Badawi to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for "insulting Islam".

The first 50 of Badawi's lashes were carried out in January, prompting strong criticism of the kingdom's rights record in Western countries, including its laws on political and religious expression and the status of Saudi women.

"Saudi Arabia expresses its intense surprise and dismay at what is being reported by some media about the case of citizen Raif Badawi and his sentence," said a statement carried on state media and attributed to an unnamed "foreign ministry official".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesMediaReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 11, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Although he is largely incapacitated and can’t speak without the aid of a computerized voice, O.J. Brigance believes his life has value.

It was a message of hope the former Baltimore Ravens linebacker hammered home when he came out strongly against the proposed legalization of physician-assisted suicide in Maryland.

“Every day, every hour, every minute, every second of life, is God-given and valuable,” Brigance told members of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee during a March 10 hearing on the Death with Dignity Act. “To enact this legislation would devalue the lives and possible future contributions of Marylanders.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 11, 2015 at 5:44 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What I find most provoking, though, is [Yuval Noah] Harari’s insistence that in dealing with these problems, “nothing that exists at present offers a solution,” and “old answers” are as “irrelevant” now as they were (allegedly) during the Industrial Revolution.

He means this as a critique of religious revivalists in particular: Not only the Islamic State’s seventh-century longings, but any movement that seeks answers to new challenges “in the Quran, in the Bible.” Such seeking, he argues, led to dead ends in the 19th century, when religious irruptions from the Middle East to China failed to “solve the problems of industrialization.” It was only when people “came up with new ideas, not from the Shariah, and not from the Bible, and not from some vision,” but from studying science and technology, that answers to the industrial age’s dislocations emerged.

This argument deserves highlighting because I think many smart people believe it. And if we’re going to confront even modest versions of the problems Harari sees looming, we need to recognize what his argument gets wrong.

New ideas, rooted in scientific understanding, did help bring societies through the turbulence of industrialization. But the reformers who made the biggest differences — the ones who worked in the slums and with the displaced, attacked cruelties and pushed for social reforms, rebuilt community after it melted into air — often blended innovations with very old moral and religious commitments.

Read it all.

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

1 Comments
Posted March 11, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Marijuana legalization got a boost on Capitol Hill on Tuesday as a trio of rising stars in the Senate launched an effort to rewrite federal drug laws.

The push to decriminalize at least the medical use of marijuana came from Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Democratic Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.

Their move comes as another sign of how rapidly the politics of marijuana are shifting on Capitol Hill. Long an issue avoided by lawmakers with big political ambitions, marijuana legalization now presents opportunities to make inroads with new voters.

Read it all.


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

0 Comments
Posted March 10, 2015 at 3:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Of the many new words that bubbled up from our technological culture in 2014, perhaps the most unsettling is doxxing.

Typically carried out by anonymous online users with axes to grind and little to lose, doxxing involves making someone’s private information public. That includes home addresses, phone numbers, financial histories, medical records—anything that can be found in the endless databases available to canny hackers.

Doxxing can be a drive-by prank on most anyone who draws attention. But more often its targets are singled out for humiliation. In a series of events last year that came to be called GamerGate, certain active video gamers targeted journalists, mostly women, who had criticized the outright misogyny found in many popular video games. The backlash began with the bilious insults that have become astonishingly common online. But it quickly escalated to “revenge blogs” purporting to reveal those journalists’ past indiscretions, and doxxing attacks.

Doxxing is extreme and rare. But it marks the limit of a trend that affects every one of us: aspects of our lives that were once private and fleeting can now be publicly, and permanently, exposed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingHistoryPsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 10, 2015 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At the time of her 2008 visit to Albuquerque, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori

headed a congregation torn, both in New Mexico and nationally, over the role of gays and lesbians in the church.

The Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande was preparing to select a new bishop to replace former Bishop Jeffrey N. Steenson, who resigned in 2007 to join the Roman Catholic Church over the issue.

Several New Mexico congregations had split from the diocese and others were discussing similar moves....

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Rio Grande* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Every January, tens of thousands of Christian college students from all over the world attend the conference Passion, where they sing, pray, and hear from a variety of pastors, authors, and activists about issues resonating within evangelical culture. For the last several years, conference founder Louie Giglio has made the issue of human trafficking an increasingly central part of these activities. In 2013, 60,000 students gathered at Passion in Atlanta for a late-night candlelight vigil dedicated to celebrating “Jesus, the ultimate abolitionist, the original abolitionist,” Giglio told CNN. The organization’s anti-trafficking project designated Feb. 27 as “Shine a Light on Slavery Day,” encouraging young people to raise awareness by taking selfies with red X’s drawn on their hands.

Human trafficking—and sex trafficking in particular—has become something of a Christian cause célèbre. There are prayer weekends, movies, magazine covers, Sunday school curricula, and countless church-based ministries. More unusual efforts include lipstick sold to help “kiss slavery goodbye” and tattoo alteration services for victims who say they have been “branded” by their captors. An extraordinarily complex global issue has somehow become one of the most energetic Christian missions of the 21st century.

Many of the new anti-trafficking advocates compare their work to the 19th-century abolitionist movement against chattel slavery—with some leaders in the movement referring to themselves (and, apparently, Jesus) as “abolitionists.” But, according to Gretchen Soderlund, author of the 2013 book Sex Trafficking, Scandal, and the Transformation of Journalism, 1885–1917, the better comparison may be to the “white slavery” panic of the late 19th century.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureSexualityViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Modern technology provides us with many means to cause our downfall, and our natural moral psychology does not provide us with the means to prevent it. The moral enhancement of humankind is necessary for there to be a way out of this predicament.

If we are to avoid catastrophe by misguided employment of our power, we need to be morally motivated to a higher degree (as well as adequately informed about relevant facts). A stronger focus on moral education could go some way to achieving this, but as already remarked, this method has had only modest success during the last couple of millennia. Our growing knowledge of biology, especially genetics and neurobiology, could deliver additional moral enhancement, such as drugs or genetic modifications, or devices to augment moral education.

The development and application of such techniques is risky - it is after all humans in their current morally-inept state who must apply them - but we think that our present situation is so desperate that this course of action must be investigated. We have radically transformed our social and natural environments by technology, while our moral dispositions have remained virtually unchanged. We must now consider applying technology to our own nature, supporting our efforts to cope with the external environment that we have created.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Much has changed in the world since 2000, and few can deny that many of those changes have been facilitated by technology.

The Internet, in particular—both how much we use it and what we use it for—has dramatically altered the way people live their lives, do their work and engage in their relationships. Pastors are no exception: In the past 15 years, church leaders have significantly increased their use of the Internet and have, by and large, come to accept it as an essential tool for ministry in the 21st century.

In a recent study of U.S. Protestant church leaders, Barna Group looked at pastors’ use of the Internet and their attitudes toward it today compared to 15 years ago, at the turn of the century.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingReligion & CultureScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 9, 2015 at 6:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The crisis of adulthood, then, feeds off of the crisis of Enlightenment values. In an age in which freedom, human resilience and reason are seen as dangerous ideas, if not Eurocentric illusions, our ability to remake our world is diminished. All that’s left is fatalistic, pity-me politics, in which young people languish in a state of permanent imperilment.

But the desire to make your mark in the world is not only expressed politically. It is also a case of just getting on with things – experiencing, experimenting and taking risks. In an age in which 40-year-olds out-drink their children, in which young people would rather stay at home than slum it, young people seem incapable of going out into the world – let alone changing it.

Neiman posits these sorts of growing pains as age-old problems, but they are particularly acute today. For her, the rise of Islamist extremism – and the allure it has to disaffected Western youth – is a direct consequence of the crisis of the Enlightenment and adulthood. The West’s lack of moral purpose, its inability to find meaning in modern experience, leads some to submit to the deadest of dogmas. ‘There is nothing grown-up about behaviour that’s dictated by religious authority. But what alternatives do we offer?’, she asks.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyTeens / YouthYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomy* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted March 9, 2015 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jesus intentionally went to Samaria. His disciples James and John wanted, elsewhere in the Gospel of John, to vaporize the villages there with fire from heaven. But Jesus spoke of water, of living water that could quench thirst forever. Thirst is a type of desperation, the sort of language the Psalmist uses to express the longing for God, as for water in a desert land. We live in a culture obsessed with sex, sex abstracted from covenant, from fidelity, from transcendent moral norms, but beyond this obsession there seems to be a cry for something more.

In the search for sexual excitement, men and women are not really looking for biochemical sensations or the responses of nerve endings. They are searching desperately not merely for sex, but for that to which sex points—for something they know exists but just cannot identify. They are thirsting. As novelist Frederick Buechner put it, "Lust is the craving for salt of someone who is dying of thirst."

The Sexual Revolution cannot keep its promises. People are looking for a cosmic mystery, for a love that is stronger than death. They cannot articulate it, and perhaps would be horrified to know it, but they are looking for God. The Sexual Revolution leads to the burned-over boredom of sex shorn of mystery, of relationship shorn of covenant. The question for us, as we pass through the Samaria of the Sexual Revolution, is whether we have water for Samaria, or if we only have fire. In the wake of the disappointment sexual libertarianism brings, there must be a new word about more permanent things, such as the joy of marriage as a permanent, conjugal, one-flesh reality between a man and a woman. We must keep lit the way to the old paths.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyMenReligion & CultureSexualityWomen* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted March 9, 2015 at 1:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What do photographs of women, taken by women, look like? In honor of International Women’s Day, March 8, I asked seven female National Geographic photographers to share an image they took that revealed a woman’s experience. In a world where gender equality is still elusive, these photographs tell stories of hope, bravery, hardship, and survival. I want to give my thanks to the incredible photographers for their vision and dedication to sharing stories of women’s experiences worldwide.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryWomen* General InterestPhotos/Photography* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted March 8, 2015 at 5:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa has been unable to come to a common mind on the issue of... [same-sex] blessings, but have agreed to continue dialogue on the issue in preparation for the 2016 Provincial Synod.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Southern AfricaSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted March 8, 2015 at 11:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The bishop was not amused.

Not with the video of one of his priests — complete with clerical collar — advocating gratitude for marijuana.

"Now, thanking God for weed might feel a little awkward at first," says the Rev. Chris Schuller — a former rector at St. Thomas' Episcopal Church in the Snell Isle neighborhood — in the short video that's punctuated with the reggae rhythms of Bob Marley.

"Thanking God is going to feel so much better than throwing stones at people who are already stoned," he says.

Read it all from the Tampa Bay Times.

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

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingDrugs/Drug Addiction* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology


Posted March 8, 2015 at 6:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The nation’s shortage of doctors will rise to between 46,000 and 90,000 by 2025 as the U.S. population grows, more Americans gain health insurance and new alternative primary care sites proliferate.

A new study announced by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), a lobby for medical schools and teaching hospitals, said “the doctor shortage is real” with total physician demand projected to grow by up to 17 percent as a population of baby boomers ages and the Affordable Care Act is implemented.

“It’s particularly serious for the kind of medical care that our aging population is going to need,” said Dr. Darrell Kirch, AAMC’s president in a statement accompanying the analysis by research firm IHS.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...there are more than 6.5 million people working part time who would like to have more hours.

Randa Jama pushes airline passengers on wheelchairs to their gates at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. This had been a full-time job when she took it last fall, but then a couple of months later, that changed.

"They told me that you're working only Saturday and Sunday from now," she says.

That cut her hours to 12 a week. Sometimes, her supervisors ask her at the last minute to stay late or do an extra shift. Since she cut back on babysitters, she can't accommodate.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 7, 2015 at 8:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many people change faiths, but not like Brad and Chad Jones.

Identical twins, the brothers grew up in Elkin, N.C., a small town in the Bible Belt, the only children of devout Baptists. As boys, they attended the First Baptist Church of Elkin, studied Scripture, went to vacation Bible school and sang in the choir, as did many of their cousins, classmates and neighbors.

Today, Brad, 43, is a Roman Catholic priest in the Diocese of Charlotte, and Chad is an Anglican bishop in Atlanta. Their parents, Jo Anne and Robert, remain faithful members of their Baptist congregation. When their sons visit, each celebrates mass according to his own rite in the dining room or living room of what has become a very ecumenical Jones household.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropology

4 Comments
Posted March 5, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The real point is that the economic landscape in which we are operating is not only competitive; it is changing constantly. This year, our industry reached an important milestone. For the first time, people are spending more time on mobile devices than on their desktop computers. Time spent on desktops has now fallen to just 40%. And people use mobile devices very differently from the way they use desktops. Seven out of every eight minutes spent on a mobile phone is spent within an app, and the most popular app in the world is Facebook.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 5, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A plurality say they attend church to be closer to God (44%) and more than one-third say they go to learn more about God (37%). Getting outside the humdrum of their everyday lives to experience transcendence—in worship, in prayer, in teaching—is a key desire for many Millennials when it comes to church.

Two-thirds of survey participants say a good description of church is “a place to find answers to live a meaningful life” (a lot + somewhat = 65%). Over half say “church is relevant for my life” (54%), and about half “feel I can ‘be myself’ at church” (49%). Three out of five survey respondents don’t agree that “the faith and teaching I encounter at church seem rather shallow” (not too much + not at all = 62%), and about the same number don’t believe “the church is not a safe place to express doubts” (60%).

That’s a lot of open windows.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted March 5, 2015 at 11:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

These days Persson pays less attention to the heckling on Twitter and more to the insults hurled his way by close friends on a WhatsApp group they’ve crudely titled Farts. The unleashed Persson has regressed toward adolescence. At the temporary office for Rubberbrain, jokes about male genitalia and laughter bounce off the ceiling and elicit annoyed floor banging from the upstairs neighbor.

Persson ignores the foot-thumped berating much like he’s done with the armchair trolls. He says he’s taken fondly to the mute button on Twitter, which allows him to tune out unkind people without notifying them that they’ve been blocked. Occasionally, though, his curiosity will get the best of him, and he’ll reply. Lately he’s been responding to his haters with a moving image from the movie Zombieland of Woody Harrelson wiping tears away with a wad of money. “I’m aware that tweeting the image is a little douchey,” he shrugs. He’s equally gauche with people he likes, broadcasting his vacations via chartered jet on Snapchat. As for girls, “I tried to use Tinder, it didn’t work. In Sweden it’s horrible; there’s only like four people.” Hence the $180,000 nightclub bills.

“I’m a little bit making up for lost time when I was just programming through my twenties,” he says. “Partying is not a sane way to spend money, but it’s fun. When we were young we did not have a lot of money at all, so I thought, if I ever get rich I’m not going to become one of those boring rich people that doesn’t spend money.”

Right now he’s spending on the permanent office for his new company–a teenage boy’s fantasy that will include a full-service bar, a DJ booth (he’s learning how to spin) and secret rooms hidden by bookshelves–despite the fact that Rubberbrain is nothing more than a name waiting for an idea.

Little inspiration seems imminent.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 5, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Liberia has gone a week without reporting any new cases of Ebola, the first time such a milestone has been reached since May 2014, the World Health Organization says.

But officials say there have been 132 new cases in Guinea and Sierra Leone in the week to 1 March.

They have warned that populations are so mobile in the area that there could easily be fresh outbreaks in Liberia.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* International News & CommentaryAfricaGuineaLiberiaSierra Leone* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is somewhat rare today that the church can gather an overflow crowd but the Anglican Diocese of Niagara has succeeded in doing that — unfortunately for all the wrong reasons.

The crowd that gathered were neighbours of Saint Matthias Anglican Church (at the corner of Edinburgh and Kortright roads) concerned that the Anglican Diocese is planning to sell the church and land to a developer who will build 81 units of rental housing geared to students.

It is understandable why the neighbourhood would be concerned. But I would suggest that it should be of concern for all of us in the rest of the city as well. In the whole south end of Guelph, there are only two church buildings — the Salvation Army and Saint Matthias.

Regardless of what you think of churches, these are often the only free or low-rent spaces available for community groups such as scouts, guides, AA, moms and tots groups or places where people can gather in times of celebration or mourning. And while it is true that many churches could do a better job connecting with their community, the Saint Matthias Church community has always had an open and welcoming presence in their neighbourhood. Unfortunately, they themselves now have no say in the matter.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market* International News & CommentaryCanada* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 4, 2015 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With all the changes in healthcare over the past few years, many system and hospital leaders now acknowledge the importance of employee engagement. Employees are the one constant in the healthcare equation, and their ability to persevere during times of change can determine whether a healthcare system maintains its quality of care and patient service.

Yet, for some reason, the concept of physician engagement isn't getting the attention it deserves. Perhaps healthcare leaders assume that physicians are self-motivated and their interest in their patients or research trumps the need to engage them.

But physician engagement is vital to a hospital's or system's success. I

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropology

3 Comments
Posted March 4, 2015 at 8:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Supreme Court on Wednesday considers the most serious challenge to the Affordable Care Act since the justices upheld it as constitutional almost three years ago.

At issue is whether millions of Americans who receive tax subsidies to buy health insurance are doing so illegally. If the justices rule that the payments are not allowed, the entire health-care law could be in jeopardy.

The latest showdown between the Obama administration and the conservative legal strategists who have targeted the law since its passage in 2010 focuses on a once obscure phrase in the legislation: “established by the State.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted March 4, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

World War II veteran Erling Kindem found a best bud in his 4-year-old next-door neighbor, Emmett Rychner. But after the unlikely pair enjoyed countless hours of lawn mower races, croquet matches and gardening, Emmett's parents made the difficult decision last year to move from their suburban home south of Minneapolis to a new house in the country.

The distance became even harder to bear as Kindem planned to move with his ailing wife to a retirement community about 30 miles away. "It was good while it lasted," Kindem told NBC affiliate KARE last September. His voice cracked as he reasoned that he would someday see his friend again: "It isn't over."

On Sunday, they were reunited.

Read it all and watch the whole video report.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenPsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 4, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An urgent national debate is needed to address the disproportionate number of Muslim men among groups convicted of using and selling young teenagers for sex, according to a landmark report.

Failings by police and care professionals led to more than 370 young girls in Oxfordshire falling victim to “conveyor-belt” sex crimes over the past 15 years, a serious case review published yesterday concluded.

It came after six young Oxford girls suffered years of abuse from multiple offenders, some of whom travelled the length of the country for sex in bedsits and guest houses. A review of agencies dealing with the victims identified an “undeniable” link between men of Pakistani heritage and “indescribably awful” crimes across England.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureSexualityTeens / YouthViolenceYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted March 4, 2015 at 5:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingMediaPoetry & LiteraturePsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted March 2, 2015 at 6:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S. is a country of gaps. The wage gap. The wealth gap. And now, the sleep gap. 


The dividing line: Pain. Having chronic or fleeting pain in the prior week caused 57 percent of Americans a significant loss of sleep, according to the 2015 Sleep in America poll, released Monday by the National Sleep Foundation.

People with chronic pain said they got 42 minutes of sleep less than they needed every night. It’s a vicious cycle: Pain makes it hard to sleep, less sleep exacerbates pain.

Missing 42 minutes of sleep wouldn’t be a big deal if sleep weren’t so connected with overall well-being. People who rated their health and quality of life very good or excellent in the survey slept an average of 15 to 30 minutes longer than those who said it was good, fair or poor.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted March 2, 2015 at 11:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Children who sing in a choir, play in an orchestra or take to the stage are more likely to make good moral choices than their fellow classmates, a study has concluded.

But contrary to belief that sport promotes ideas of fair play and team spirit, the research concluded that playing games does nothing to strengthen people’s moral fibre.

Meanwhile those who go to church or other religious observances regularly emerged more likely to fare better in the face of moral dilemmas than their peers who do not.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenMusicReligion & CultureTeens / YouthTheatre/Drama/Plays* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 1, 2015 at 12:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
If you want to read the whole 1910 speech you may find it here.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropology

1 Comments
Posted February 28, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all and follow all the links.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I fear I will be in trouble once again with some people in the church as I find myself, in conscience, having to go against the line that the churches are taking on so-called three-parent families.

I am, to be clear, firmly in favour despite the opposition shown by some of my colleagues and a powerful lobby of critics from abroad.

A Bill passed by the House of Commons earlier this month will allow for a procedure in which a small proportion of a third person's DNA is used to create an embroyo in order to prevent potentially fatal genetic disorders. Scientists have found techniques to replace faulty mitochondrial DNA - mitrochondria are microscopic energy creating structures in the human cell - with donated DNA, and Britain is set to be the first country to endorse the practice.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 28, 2015 at 2:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What's Arnholter's big idea? It's simple. Ambitiously simple. Create a mural made by thousands of people in every state in the country, plus Washington, D.C. Call it the "Mural of America," make it about reminding people that humanity is a shared experience and allot 15 months, 16,000 miles and $175,000 to do it.

"It's important for this country," Arnholter says. "We're always bickering, so we miss the big picture. A woman once told me this project is about 'the cohesion of diversity.' That's the best way I've heard anyone describe it."

Traveling to a new state every weekend, with a break in the winter, Arnholter wants to stop by the Boston Marathon, the Las Vegas Art Festival, the Treme Gumbo Creole Festival in New Orleans and the Broad Ripple Art Fair. He'll use a similar route taken by the Ringling Brothers Circus in the 1900s. He'll live in an RV.

First stop: Pendleton, S.C.

Read it all.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Early in the summer of 2007, a doctoral student named Mehnaz M. Afridi traveled from her California home to a conference in southern Germany. Her official role was to deliver a paper on anti-Semitism in Egyptian literature, a rather loaded subject for a Muslim scholar. Seventy miles away, she had another appointment, and an even riskier agenda.

After the conference concluded, Ms. Afridi drove to the former concentration camp in Dachau, Germany. As she stood before the dun bricks of a crematorium, she prayed. “Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un,” she said in Arabic, meaning, “Surely we belong to God and to him shall we return.”

“I didn’t know that moment would be defining my role,” Dr. Afridi, 44, said a few weeks ago. “I didn’t even realize then that I was at a crossroads. People see the Holocaust and Islam as two separate things, but these stories of faith and catastrophe are not opposites. They are companions.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamJudaism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheodicy

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At first, Eva Christiansen barely noticed the number. Her bank called to say that Ms. Christiansen, a 36-year-old entrepreneur here, had been approved for a small business loan. She whooped. She danced. A friend took pictures.

“I think I was so happy I got the loan, I didn’t hear everything he said,” she recalled.

And then she was told again about her interest rate. It was -0.0172 percent — less than zero. While there would be fees to pay, the bank would also pay interest to her. It was just a little over $1 a month. But still.

These are strange times for European borrowers, as if a wormhole has opened up to a parallel universe where the usual rules of financial gravity are suspended.

Read it all from the NYTimes Dealbook.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEuropeDenmark* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 27, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I am sitting by the swimming pool at the Canyon Ranch resort in Tucson, Arizona, only it is not really a resort, it is a fitness/wellness/life-enhancing centre where people who are very stressed come to detox and, as I am discovering, “find” themselves. But this resort is not brimming with stressed-out women, worn thin and ragged by juggling motherhood, wifedom and being the heads of companies. No. The classes here are full of men – men with great big identity issues.

There is 45-year-old Lee, who has just “gotten divorced” and has, in the course of a month, slept with 15 women. “I don’t see myself as that type of man,” he says, “but I feel so lonely and I don’t know what to do with my life.” There is Ryan, aged 53, who has never married and is in crisis about why he hasn’t. Then there is Steve, 49, a travel agent, long-time married, who has hit a midlife crisis. He says he really does want to buy a Harley-Davidson and head off down Route 66. “Is that wrong?” he asks. “I just don’t know what I want in my life anymore.”

They are all part of a “sandwich generation”: they sit between the baby boomers and the digital natives. And they are a group who have, according to recent statistics, lost their way.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyMenMiddle AgePsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted February 27, 2015 at 3:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What do you see as trends in seminaries regarding discernment of vocation?

I see an increasing focus on the pastor as a person—an increasing awareness of the importance of self-care and of developing strong spiritual disciplines. It used to be that seminary was a time when people’s spiritual discipline waned and their academic discipline increased. Now many seminaries emphasize integrating the spiritual, reflective process with the academic, which I think is all to the good.

We often talk about burnout as a problem among clergy. How do you understand that term?

When we see pastors who are experiencing burnout, sometimes it is simply because they are working too hard. But more often they are doing a lot of things that are not central to their sense of call. When people are working close to their sense of call and purpose and meaning, they can work really hard without feeling burned out. But when they are doing a lot of things that people are telling them should be done or that feel urgent but aren’t close to the heart, that is a strong indicator of burnout.

It’s been said that most pastors are a “quivering mass of availability,” eager to please everybody. That is a path to destruction.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted February 27, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two notable differences in family life in the United States have emerged in the past 60 years: average, middle-class families aren’t economically flourishing and there are fewer traditional family units than ever before. Lerman, now a professor of economics at American University and a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, says these two factors are linked. Changes in family structures have sabotaged the financial confidence of middle-class Americans and led to the decline of working-class men in the labor market, say Lerman and Bradford Wilcox in their 2014 paper for the American Enterprise Institute, “For richer, for poorer: How family structures economic success in America.”

The erosion of the intact family — as defined by Lerman and Wilcox as a retreat in marriage, an increase in cohabitation and out-of-wedlock births, a prevalence of single-parent homes, and a rise in step-families — has affected the economic outcomes of children and thus led to further income inequality between American families.

“Young men and women from intact families enjoy an annual ‘intact-family premium’ that amounts to $6,500 and $4,700, respectively, over the incomes of their peers from single-parent families,” wrote Lerman and Wilcox. “Men and women who are currently married and were raised in an intact family enjoy an annual 'family premium' in their household incomes that exceeds that of their unmarried peers who were not raised in intact families by at least $42,000.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinancePolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 26, 2015 at 6:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

New data shows America's use of opioids hasn't declined.

New federal data released Wednesday reveals the state of America’s pain killer use.

According to the numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the percentage of adults age 20 and over using prescription pain killers remains significantly higher than in the past, with people also taking stronger painkillers than before. Between 2011–2012, nearly 7% of adults reported using a prescription opioid analgesic in the past 30 days, compared to 5% in 2003-2006.

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

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Posted February 26, 2015 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Only 20 percent of disabled people work, compared to 68 percent of those who aren't disabled, according to September 2014 numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

[Valeria] Jensen saved the playhouse from demolition and founded the four-theater commercial movie house, a nonprofit, in historic Ridgefield. Most of the more than 80 theater employees are disabled. But they weren't there just because they have a disability, Jensen said.

"They're here because they are a really, really valuable employee," she said.

"We are 'The Prospector' after all," she noted. "And as prospectors I work with my prospects to find out what their sparkle is."

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchCharities/Non-Profit OrganizationsHealth & MedicineMovies & TelevisionRural/Town Life* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted February 26, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Is a robot uprising coming in 2015?

Maybe – but only to show you up at the arcade.

Led by researchers Demis Hassabis and Volodymyr Mnih, Google-owned DeepMind Technologies has created an artificial intelligence capable of playing simple video games with minimal training. They described their breakthrough today in Nature.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 26, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“When I got into the field, the notion that you could actually do something about the aging process was viewed as a crackpot idea,” says Richard Miller, director of the Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging at the University of Michigan. “The argument that one can slow aging, and diseases of aging along with it, used to be fantasy, but now we see it like a scientific strategy.”

Nobody is talking about living forever. But as these experts see it, aging is the single most powerful factor in the diseases that are most likely to cut our lives short: cancer, heart problems, immune disorders and degenerative brain conditions like Alzheimer’s. “Everybody knows that the main risk factors for heart disease are high cholesterol, obesity and high blood pressure,” says Dr. Felipe Sierra, director of the division of aging biology at the National Institute on Aging (NIA). “But even stronger than those factors is just being 70 years old.”

And that’s why staving off aging–or at least slowing it–has become such a central focus of research. “We’re going at aging itself,” says David Sinclair, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School. “We might take someone who is showing signs of aging and be able to do something about it, to treat that as a disease. That’s something I didn’t expect to be seeing in my lifetime.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineHistoryPsychologyScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 26, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At the U.S. Supreme Court, you know that it's going to be a hot argument when the usually straight-faced Justice Samuel Alito begins a question this way: "Let's say four people show up for a job interview ... this is going to sound like a joke, but it's not."

The issue before the court on Wednesday was whether retailer Abercrombie & Fitch violated the federal law banning religious discrimination when it rejected a highly rated job applicant because she wore a Muslim headscarf.

Alito's hypothetical continued this way: The first of the four applicants to show up at Abercrombie is a Sikh man wearing a turban; the second is a Hasidic man wearing a hat; the third is a Muslim woman wearing a hijab; the fourth is a Catholic nun in a habit. Now, Alito asked Abercrombie's lawyer: "Do you think that those people have to say, we just want to tell you, we're dressed this way for a religious reason? We're not just trying to make a fashion statement." Or, might we reasonably conclude that Abercrombie knows why they are dressed that way?

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 25, 2015 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Thirty-seven percent of Americans are satisfied and 61% dissatisfied with the position of the U.S. in the world today. These views are unchanged from last year, even after a series of significant challenges for U.S. foreign policy. Americans' satisfaction is a bit higher than at the end of the Bush administration and at the beginning of the Obama administration, but remains well below where it was in the early 2000s.

The results are from Gallup's annual World Affairs survey, conducted Feb. 8-11. Americans' satisfaction held steady in the past year, even as the U.S. was forced to deal with the rise of Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria, a dispute with Russia over Ukrainian separatists in the eastern part of Ukraine, heightened tensions between the Israelis and Palestinians, and ongoing policy disagreements involving North Korea and Iran. The lack of change may be attributable to Americans' already high level of dissatisfaction with the nation's world position, with those events and the way the U.S. handled them serving to reinforce the dissatisfaction rather than to worsen or even improve it.

Americans have been more likely to be dissatisfied than satisfied with the position of the U.S. in the world since 2004, about the time it became clear that the U.S. military action in Iraq was running into problems that could -- and did -- lead to a prolonged U.S. commitment there. Satisfaction fell to a low of 30% in the final year of George W. Bush's administration and remained low in the very early stages of Barack Obama's presidency. Americans' satisfaction is modestly higher now than at that point, but has leveled off.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationPsychologySociology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 25, 2015 at 3:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Elon] Musk, [Bill] Gates and [Stephen] Hawking made headlines by speaking to the dangers that A.I. may pose. Their points are important, but I fear were largely misunderstood by many readers. Relying on efforts to program A.I. not to “harm humans” (inspired by on Isaac Asimov’s “three laws” of robotics from 1942) makes sense only when an A.I. knows what humans are and what harming them might mean. There are many ways that an A.I. might harm us that that have nothing to do with its malevolence toward us, and chief among these is exactly following our well-meaning instructions to an idiotic and catastrophic extreme. Instead of mechanical failure or a transgression of moral code, the A.I. may pose an existential risk because it is both powerfully intelligent and disinterested in humans. To the extent that we recognize A.I. by its anthropomorphic qualities, or presume its preoccupation with us, we are vulnerable to those eventualities.

Read it carefully and read it all (emphasis mine).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationPhilosophyPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 25, 2015 at 11:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Samantha Elauf was apprehensive to interview for a sales job at retailer Abercrombie & Fitch in 2008 because the 17 year old wore a headscarf in accordance with her Muslim faith. But a friend of hers, who worked at the store, said he didn't think it would be a problem as long as the headscarf wasn't black because the store doesn't sell black clothes.

Ultimately Elauf failed to get the job, and her story has triggered a religious freedom debate regarding when an employer can be held liable under civil rights laws . The Supreme Court will hear the case on Wednesday.

Like many retailers Abercrombie has a "look policy" aimed to promote what it calls its "classic East Coast collegiate style of clothing."

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

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Posted February 24, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The number of words we can’t use without offending is ever growing, and if the supporters of the right-to-die movement have their way, it will stretch yet again to include the word “suicide.” At least when that suicide is the result of a dying patient taking a lethal dose of drugs to avoid impending mental and physical anguish.

It’s insensitive at best to use the “S” word in this context, I’ve been informed by several advocates, because people would not be choosing this option because of a psychiatric disorder or despair over life. They don’t want to die; their diseases have forced that on them. Senate Bill 128, legislation recently introduced in California to allow physicians to write lethal prescriptions under tightly controlled circumstances, not only refrains from calling this suicide but would not allow death certificates to reflect how the death occurred.

“The cause of death listed on an individual’s death certificate who uses aid-in-dying medication shall be the underlying terminal illness,” it reads.

In other words, it wouldn't mention the legal drugs that actually caused the death. The public should have a problem with that.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & Family* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England has defended its stance on the Living Wage after it was revealed that cathedrals and churches were hiring staff on salaries below the benchmark.

An investigation by The Sun found that Canterbury Cathedral was advertising for porters and kiosk assistants on salaries between £6.70 and £7.75 an hour. The Living Wage (outside London) is currently set at £7.85.

Lichfield Cathedral was also revealed to be hiring waiting staff on £6.50 an hour, which is the national minimum wage.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"The Pastoral letter from the House of Bishops was addressed to churches and encouraged them to implement the living wage. The Living Wage Commission, chaired by the Archbishop of York, recognised in its report last year, that a phased implementation may be necessary in some businesses and organisations. It welcomed employers seeking to implement the pay level progressively. What is important is that those who can, do so, as soon as is practically possible. The vast majority of those employed by or sub-contracted to the Church's central institutions are already paid at least the Living Wage and all will be by April 2017...."

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 24, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If very few of the sexual acts of today’s identity politics are procreative, that has certainly not inhibited their proponents’ impressive ability to give birth to endless categories of sexual preference. This is the result of more than a mere lack of conceptual contraception. It also indicates the loss of any sense that sex in itself might carry some kind of larger moral significance. Indeed, the plethora of sexual identities now available witness to the fact that there is no longer any basis for rejecting any kind of sexual act, considered in itself, as intrinsically wrong. The multiplication of such categories is part of rendering sex amoral: When everything is legitimate, then nothing has particular moral significance.

This endless expansion of sexual categories is a necessary consequence of what is now the fundamental tenet of modern sexual politics, and perhaps a key element of modern politics in general: That a person’s attitude to sex is the primary criterion for assessing their moral standing in the public square. If you say that sex has intrinsic moral significance, then you set it within a larger moral framework and set limits to the legitimate use of sex. In doing so, you declare certain sexual acts illegitimate, something which is now considered hate speech. This constant coining of new categories of sexual identity serves both to demonstrate this and to facilitate its policing.

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

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Posted February 24, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Elder care is also often done for low wages by new or undocumented immigrants. Will that change?

Manufacturing in the ’20s and ’30s was sweatshop work, largely done by new immigrants. We turned factory work into good jobs with pathways to opportunities. That professionalization was the basis for 20th century prosperity. That’s what the care workforce needs to be. These have the potential to be really good jobs.

You compare investing in home-care workers to investing in railways or the Internet. But aren’t those about growth, not dying?

For working-age adults right now, especially with what they call the sandwich generation–people who are caring for children and aging parents–this is having an impact on their productivity.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyMiddle AgePsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted February 23, 2015 at 3:56 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What do all these words read this day and resonating in my ears have to do with my observance of holy Lent? This I believe:

• If grace-filled obedience not self-imposed deprivation is the pathway to God’s blessing shouldn’t one’s Lenten discipline focus on this?
• If God’s call, not the driven life, is for each of us our apostolic mission shouldn’t that be the place out of which we live our lives and do our work and ministry?
• If we are dust and to dust we shall return (as the words of the Ash Wednesday liturgy reminds us) why am I, and so many of us, in such a hurry?

Then there was this word that came like a lightning bolt across my mind illuminating my whole being: “… you think you have to be some place elsewhere or accomplish something more to find peace. But it is right here. God has yet to bless anyone except where they actually are.” Once again this was a word spoken years ago by Dr. Dallas Willard to John Ortberg’s striving and spiritually dry soul; I noted these words in my journal and then wrote this confession: I repent of this, Lord. I renounce the life tape that has played within me for years that makes peace something relegated to some place “where” or some time “when” and other than here and now in You.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsLentParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyPastoral TheologySoteriology

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Posted February 23, 2015 at 8:56 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A couple of days ago, a senior African cleric was holding forth on the need to combine religious instruction with, in the broadest sense, sex education. Both at home and at school, declared Archbishop Henri Isingoma, boys must be taught about the higher purpose of sex as "the way God wanted to make the human race continue". Another acute problem, he added, was "ignorance of the responsibilities of men towards women." He was speaking in a webinar organised by a department of the global Anglican church, drawing in clergy and church workers from their own and other Christian confessions.

So...was this one more depressing display of the giant cultural gap between the liberal north and the traditional south, especially over sexuality, which is tearing apart the 80m-strong Anglican Communion, and many other religious bodies?

No, it was nothing of the kind, and that's what made the discussion more worthwhile. The topic was "gender-based violence" which is a catchall term that describes both domestic cruelty and the still-greater horrors that take place on battlefields when soldiers run amok and commit rape. Victims of GBV are mainly female, but they also include men and boys. And the striking thing was that on this exceptionally grave subject, "conservatives" and "liberals" plainly find it useful to talk and cooperate, and the talk goes well beyond platitudes.

Mara Luz, an Anglican church worker from Brazil, said 40% of women in her country experienced some kind of violence; there were well-written laws, but implementation was very poor, especially in remote areas.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationPsychologyReligion & CultureSexualityViolence* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Filed under: * By KendallSermons & Teachings* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyAnthropologyChristologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted February 23, 2015 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Luther says we live in and through our neighbor,” Duran explains. “Most of our congregations were planted for the neighborhood.” But when neighborhoods changed, congregations often resisted trans­formation. Members be­gan commuting to attend church. Then, Duran said, “the neighbors became the object of the church’s ministry rather than the subject.” Duran wants the neighbors to be the subject again.

The church’s strategy is to “shut up and learn”—to listen and reconnect with diverse neighborhoods, in­cluding the working poor and young adults who grew up in the suburbs but are now relocating in cities. “There are so many people in our neighborhoods who are doing God’s work,” Duran said, “but they just don’t know it yet.”

The ELCA has set up a process by which men and women who have the gifts and skills for ministry but who haven’t attended seminary can be full-time pastors—“lay mission developers”—serving with the blessing of the community and the bishop.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureRural/Town LifeUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomy* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted February 22, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Our world-wide flight from family constitutes a significant international victory for self-actualization over self-sacrifice, and might even be said to mark a new chapter in humanity’s conscious pursuit of happiness. But these voluntary changes also have unintended consequences. The deleterious impact on the hardly inconsequential numbers of children disadvantaged by the flight from the family is already plain enough. So too the damaging role of divorce and out-of-wedlock childbearing in exacerbating income disparities and wealth gaps—for society as a whole, but especially for children. Yes, children are resilient and all that. But the flight from family most assuredly comes at the expense of the vulnerable young.

That same flight also has unforgiving implications for the vulnerable old. With America’s baby boomers reaching retirement, and a world-wide “gray wave” around the corner, we are about to learn the meaning of those implications firsthand.

In the decades ahead, ever more care and support for seniors will be required, especially for the growing contingent among the elderly who will be victims of dementia, or are childless and socially isolated. Remember, a longevity revolution is also under way. Yet by some cruel cosmic irony, family structures and family members will be less capable, and perhaps also less willing, to provide that care and support than ever before.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenGlobalizationMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 22, 2015 at 12:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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