Posted by Kendall Harmon

I did not know the man I was drinking tea with in the parish hall below my office. He had introduced himself as a retired Episcopal priest a few days before, when he'd called for this appointment. He told me then that he was offering something called "coaching," and was asking for referrals from local clergy. At the time of the call I had thought he was running some sort of sports team, but now, over tea, he was telling me what he meant by the word "coaching."

"We ask five power questions to help people change their lives," he told me (I cannot remember even one of those power questions). "This helps individuals grow and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and recognize his working in their lives."

"So far so good," I thought to myself. "At least up until now he has said things I cannot fault." Still, something felt wrong. And then he told me what coaching had done for him.

"It helped me evolve," he said with a wide smile. Since he appeared to be an average homo sapiens, I awaited an explanation. "Why, just last week I drove up to Maryland and did my first ever same-sex wedding."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 24, 2014 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that, while context, culture, and class are critically important dimensions of ministry, and that while there is not yet a consensus on the use of a common gender neutral title for priests, to advance the goal of developing and using such titles, it is a necessary first to eliminate any gendered titles for priests still in use in parishes, such as “Father” and “Mother,” while encouraging congregational conversations about thepreferred use of gender neutral titles;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that in all parishes in the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, we commit to ending the use of gendered titles for priests no later than the 231st Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that parishes in which female and male priests serve together shall begin using a specific common gender neutral title, according to the shared preference of the clergy in that parish;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that parishes in which title changes are to occur begin, as soon as is practicable, to engage in congregational education and discussion about the reasons for, and the benefits of this change...

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* TheologyAnthropology

12 Comments
Posted October 24, 2014 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sufferers from of the Ebola virus in West Africa believe that "God has forsaken them", a Liberian Roman Catholic bishop, the Rt Revd Anthony Fallah Borwah, has said.

Bishop Borwah was prevented from attending Pope Francis's recent synod on the family because of the travel ban on countries affected by the virus.

He urged his fellow bishops, and the Church, to remember that it was the poor who are their priority, and said that whole families were being "decimated".

Speaking to the US Catholic News Service, he said: "We are losing our humanity in the face of Ebola. . . This disease makes impossible ordinary human kindnesses, such as putting your arm around someone who is crying."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* International News & CommentaryAfricaLiberia* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 24, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Google just announced a new app called “Inbox” that has the potential to transform the way we email. But it also looks like it’s going to seriously annoy advertisers as a result.

One of the key features of the Google Now-like app is “Bundles.” Basically, Inbox automatically bundles together certain kinds of messages like bank statements and purchase receipts so it’s easy to scan through them quickly.

Another feature likely to catch the eye of advertisers is “Highlights” which helps you find key information like flight itineraries and event info, but it also pulls in information from the web that wasn’t in the original email like the real-time status of your flight.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetMediaScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted October 23, 2014 at 7:48 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In 1999, after receiving allegations of sexual abuse by a priest in his province, Lord Hope, then Archbishop of York, wrote a letter of apology, aware that "this whole business will have caused you deep disquiet and distress and a considerable degree of sadness and pain."

The letter was sent not to the survivor, but to the abusive priest. On Wednesday, it was published as part of a strongly critical report on the Church's response to allegations of abuse against the priest, the former Dean of Manchester, the late Robert Waddington. It details how the failure to implement policies meant that victims were denied an opportunity to see their abuser brought to justice.

The report is the result of an inquiry commissioned last year by the present Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, after a joint investigation by The Times in London and The Australian newspaper in Sydney had revealed allegations against Waddington dating back decades.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Archbishop of York John Sentamu* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 23, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu has apologised to victims of sexual abuse by a former cathedral dean.

Dr Sentamu was responding to a report into how abuse allegations against the Very Rev Robert Waddington, formerly dean of Manchester, were handled.

His predecessor was criticised for not acting on allegations in the report, which found "systemic failures" within the Church of England.

At least two men made claims of abuse in 1999 and at sometime in 2003-04.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Archbishop of York John Sentamu* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 23, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Terror reached Canada this week when a “radicalized” convert to Islam on Monday ran down and killed a soldier with a car and a gunman yesterday invaded the capital. He murdered a soldier at a war memorial before entering Ottawa’s parliament building where he was shot to death.

Canada had until now dodged a terror attack even as Prime Minister Stephen Harper and others had warned that the nation, whether from Islamist extremists or lone wolves looking to settle some real or imagined grudge, was vulnerable.

“It’s hard to see how this won’t change things,” said Andrew MacDougall, a former director of communications for Harper who’s now a consultant in London at MSLGroup. “To see my former place of work lit up in a blaze of gunfire is shocking, disheartening and worrying.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You may find the audio link here if you wish to listen to it (starts after the reading of the gospel, maybe 3 minutes in).

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 22, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A bishop has warned the Church of England must make wholesale change to halt the slide in attendance, or wither away in the 21st century.

Rt Rev Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn, said he feared unless the Church reinvented itself in his own diocese, it would disappear like the region’s textile industry.

The warning from Bishop Henderson follows similar concerns from colleagues around the country that urgent action is needed to prevent dwindling numbers heralding the end of the Church.

Bishop Henderson made the warning as he launched a 12-year-plan to attract younger people to the Church.

Read it all from the Telegraph.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologySoteriology

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Posted October 21, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

And the right has nothing to contribute to the conversation.

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It would be foolish to claim that this framework alone will resolve everything. Easy access to pornography, the hook-up culture, and media portrayals of recreational sex as the norm are difficult to counter. The social expectations that are producing ever more exorbitant wedding events do not get the attention they deserve.

The widening practice of cohabitation is vexing in another way. Young people hesitating to vow themselves to one another permanently are perpetuating the culture of contingency even though they have often been its victims—for example, as children of divorce. And even if the contingency of cohabitation makes lasting relationships somewhat less likely, it does approximate and thus honor marriage in some ways.

So the church and its leaders need great pastoral wisdom to do two things simultaneously:

Walk back from the culture of contingency by explaining and insisting in fresh ways that God intends for active sexuality to belong uniquely to marriage.
Work compassionately with those who have embraced the relative fidelity of cohabitation, even if they have not yet moved to embrace a covenant of marriage or a vocation of celibacy.

If we aim for these two goals, Christians will be better able to speak clearly and work energetically because together we’ll affirm that marriage is good—for everyone.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 21, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Essentially, the “relatio” (or report) published today, at the close of the Synod, will serve as a starting point for future discussion. It was also presented with great transparency, including even sections that did not win the necessary votes for complete approval.

Before we look at five things the synod did, it’s important to understand the unique “form” of this unusual final document. Pope Francis asked to have all of the paragraphs presented in the “final” report, even those that failed to win the majority needed for full passage (a two-thirds majority). Two of those three dealt with LGBT Catholics, and one addressed divorced and remarried Catholics. What’s more, the Pope asked that the voting results be shown alongside all the paragraphs, which were voted on separately. Gerard O'Connell called this a break with 49 years of tradition.

In other words, if the final document was published with only the fully approved texts, those three paragraphs would not appear.

Why might the Pope have chosen to do this?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

4 Comments
Posted October 20, 2014 at 4:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read or watch it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In an age of smartphones, instant messaging and 24/7 availability, it’s increasingly hard to find time to step away and reconnect with one’s self, especially in fast-paced tech hubs like Silicon Valley.

But before you lock your smartphone in a closet for an hour a day, check out some of the apps and websites available for learning and practicing the ancient art of meditation and the more contemporary mindfulness-based stress reduction.

You don’t need a new gadget to meditate — all the equipment necessary comes installed in the product.

But some meditation and mindfulness trainers are using technology in interesting ways. They range from simple meditation timers to complete courses.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 19, 2014 at 12:48 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Rev. Don Flowers was at breakfast with a group of minister friends in New York City when he heard news of the U.S. Supreme Court decision not to review a case overturning Virginia's gay marriage ban.

The pastors sat stunned, unsure what it meant, shocked at the speed things could start moving. Talk swiftly turned to ramifications ahead.

Flowers, pastor of Providence Baptist Church on Daniel Island, realized what it could mean back home: Gay marriage could become legal - and soon.

"A grenade has just been thrown down our aisles," Flowers said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 19, 2014 at 12:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“The friendship between man and wife,” wrote Aristotle in his Nicomachean Ethics, “seems inherently in us by nature. For man is by nature more inclined to live in couples than to live as a social and political being.”

The essential point he is making here, which is in danger of being lost in the modern world, is that marriage is fundamentally natural rather than political. In his Politics, Aristotle reinforces this statement when he states that “man is an animal more inclined by nature to connubial than political society.”

Aristotle was a meticulous student of nature. And as a philosopher, he knew how to place things in their proper order. He understood, therefore, that marriage — with its personal satisfactions, its intimacy, its security and its potential for generating offspring — is naturally superior to the more tenuous and far less personal relationships that are political and social. For much of the same reasons, Aquinas could state that the best of all friendships is that between a loving husband and wife.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPhilosophy* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 19, 2014 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

CK: In your evening public lecture at Regent this summer, “Confessions of an Ex-Pastor,” you said, “I wished I’d have lived and ministered more out of a Sabbath heart.” Can you unpack this a bit more?

MB: In my lecture, I made reference to the story in John 12 that during a celebration dinner for Jesus after Lazarus was resurrected, Lazarus had become as interesting, dangerous, and fruitful as Jesus. But the backstory in John 11 begins with Jesus getting some bad news: “The one you love is dying, please come quickly.” Jesus doesn’t come quickly. He delays and, according to Mary and Martha, he delays far too long. “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” I think there’s something compelling about that example of Jesus in the face of what we would consider as one of the greatest ministry crises imaginable for a pastor. The story begins with Jesus resting and ends with Lazarus resting with Jesus.

To draw a larger lesson from that, I think all effective ministry comes out of attentiveness and restfulness. That’s what I mean by a Sabbath heart. What you find in the life of Christ and the life of those who are present with him is an incredible fruitfulness and effectiveness in their ministry that people who are super busy don’t have. They’re not raising people from the dead like Jesus because they themselves are half dead.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 18, 2014 at 12:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Poor communication, a lack of leadership and underfunding plagued the World Health Organization’s initial response to the Ebola outbreak, allowing the disease to spiral out of control.

In one instance, medics weren’t deployed because they weren’t issued visas. In another, bureaucratic hurdles delayed the spending of $500,000 intended to support the disease response. Meanwhile, fresh information on the outbreak from experts in the field was slow to reach headquarters, while contact-tracers refused to work on concern they wouldn’t get paid.

The account of the WHO’s missteps, based on interviews with five people familiar with the agency who asked not to be identified, lifts the veil on the workings of an agency designed as the world’s health warden yet burdened by politics and bureaucracy.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHealth & Medicine* International News & CommentaryAfrica* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 18, 2014 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This “different spirit” is the key to Welby’s thinking, and it is not one that can be entrusted to our politicians. Whether we choose to accept religious belief or not, it does not alter the reality that religious faith and ideologies hold far more power than guns and bombs. In the first three centuries of the Church it had no armies and pitched no battles, yet it overcame the Roman Empire through love and a gospel of God’s peace. Religious leaders need to be given a place at the top table as much as military commanders. Their insights into the role of religious belief as a driving force in individuals’ lives, along with their status, hold great value and potential to change the stakes.

There is an onus, too, on all of our religious leaders to take the initiative and become more outspoken, addressing those both inside and outside of their respective religions:
Religious leaders must up their game and engage jihadism in religious, philosophical and ethical space. Religious justifications of violence must be robustly refuted. That is, in part, a theological task, as well as being a task that recognises the false stimulation, evil sense of purpose and illusory fulfilment that deceive young men and women into becoming religious warriors. As we have seen recently, many religious leaders have the necessary (and very great) moral and physical courage to see the need for an effective response to something that they have condemned. It is essential that Christians are clear about the aim of peace and the need for joint working and that Muslim leaders continue explicitly to reject extremism, violent and otherwise. Any response must bring together all those capable of responding to the challenge.
Justin Welby talks about treasuring and preserving our values, but also of reshaping them. This would appear to be contradictory, but the context suggests that he is referring to both the values that have built peace and progress and also those that we have developed that bear the hallmarks of selfishness and self-preservation.

This is the battle that Justin Welby is calling for.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 17, 2014 at 3:56 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What is really happening at this synod is an earnest effort by pastors of the church to determine how best to encourage people to live the Catholic faith. This is no easy task. A move too far in the direction of merely repeating old formularies will not work. A move away from what constitutes the very definition of what it means to be Catholic will not only erode the church’s self-identity and betray her founder’s mandate, it will also insult and alienate many Catholics who strive to live by the church’s teachings. This is what we pastors call the art of pastoral practice.

The practice is best modeled by Jesus’ encounter with the woman “caught in the very act of adultery” (John 8: 1-11). His interlocutors somehow thought that they could drive a wedge between his allegiance to biblical law and mercy. So they cast the woman before him and demanded that he say whether she should be stoned, as the law stipulated. The tension built as Jesus doodled in the sand. Finally he replied, “Let you who is without sin cast the first stone.”

The story does not end there. Jesus turned to the woman at his feet and delivered gentle, memorable words—a message that makes the whole story an encounter of faithful mercy: “Go and sin no more.” If this model—finding the balance between justice and mercy, which are often in tension—weighs heavily on the minds of bishops gathered in Rome, that will be an achievement for the church and its pastoral model.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchGlobalizationMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 17, 2014 at 7:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dr. Samuel Kabue, coordinator of the Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network says, "The inclusion of persons with disability is not an option but a defining characteristic of the Church."

Members of EDAN, a program of the World Council of Churches, met in the Netherlands to develop a new statement with the working title "Gift of Being: Called to be a Church of All and for All."

The new document aims to build on the WCC interim statement on disability "A Church of All and for All" issued in 2003, the WCC said in a statement.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted October 17, 2014 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So the first wall is the wall of withdrawal. Many of my Christian friends perceive a growing difference between the secular world and the Christian world, the difference between Jay-Z and Hillsong and the Jesus culture. The difference between Quentin Tarantino and Eugene Peterson, Richard Dawkins and Henri Nouwen, Columbia College and Calvin College. Many of my friends fear they are being written out of polite society because they believe in the Gospel. With that comes a psychology of an embattled minority. With that comes a defensiveness and a withdrawal, a fear, and a withdrawal into sub-culture. I certainly have friends how live in a sub-culture, work in a sub-culture, Christian in the sub-culture, socialize in the sub-culture, and if you live in a broader society, that is governed by the spiritual longing that doesn’t know how to express itself, is withdrawing into your own separate sub-culture really the right thing to do.

I think that’s being governed by fear and not love.

The second wall is the wall of condescension. In a lot of the walls come from a unique psychology which I have observed. Which is a weird mixture of – this is going to sound a little rude – in the Christian culture a mixture of wanton intellectual inferiority complex combined with a spiritual superiority complex.

And the second wall is the wall of condescension. There is sometimes a belief among some people that those who have been with Christ a long time can adopt a paternal attitude toward those who have not been with Christ, or who have come to Christ recently. And this is a caring condescension. It’s people wanting to help. But it’s also a form of pride to know the route God has chosen for each of us. It’s a form of closed-mindedness. It’s off-putting. People who have come to Christ recently may not at all, may not have lived in the church for very long. But they have lived, and read and thought and they haven’t come back from these experiences with empty hands and they have as much to teach as to learn.

The third wall is the wall of bad listening.

Read it all.

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

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Posted October 17, 2014 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For several millennia, people have worried about whether or not they have free will. What exactly worries them? No single answer suffices. For centuries the driving issue was about God’s supposed omniscience. If God knew what we were going to do before we did it, in what sense were we free to do otherwise? Weren’t we just acting out our parts in a Divine Script? Were any of our so-called decisions real decisions? Even before belief in an omniscient God began to wane, science took over the threatening role. Democritus, the ancient Greek philosopher and proto-scientist, postulated that the world, including us, was made of tiny entities—atoms—and imagined that unless atoms sometimes, unpredictably and for no reason, interrupted their trajectories with a random swerve, we would be trapped in causal chains that reached back for eternity, robbing us of our power to initiate actions on our own.

Lucretius adopted this idea, and expressed it with such dazzling power in his Stoic masterpiece, De Rerum Natura, that ever since the rediscovery of that poem in the 15th century, it has structured the thinking of philosophers and scientists alike. This breathtaking anticipation of quantum mechanics and its sub-atomic particles jumping—independently of all prior causation—from one state to another, has been seen by many to clarify the problem and enunciate its solution in one fell swoop: to have free will is to be the beneficiary of “quantum indeterminism” somewhere deep in our brains. But others have seen that an agent with what amounts to an utterly unpredictable roulette wheel in the driver’s seat hardly qualifies as an agent who is responsible for the actions chosen. Does free will require indeterminism or not? Many philosophers are sure they know the answer (I among them), but it must be acknowledged that nothing approaching consensus has yet been reached.

Read it all.

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

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Posted October 17, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even if one ignores some very important issues – such as just what DNA patterns can predict about the likelihood of developing any of the diseases for which risk factor screening is done (basically, little if anything); how using the 23andMe tests to determine health risks is currently prohibited by the FDA in the U.S.; and the potential for obtaining disrupting, disturbing, or even destructive information about family connections (which is a far from trivial possibility) – serious additional concerns arise in this country. These stem from the ongoing absence of genetic privacy and genetic discrimination laws in Canada, a contrast with the U.S. where there are (some) longstanding protections against misuses of DNA data.

This suggests that when someone in Canada gets a report of its findings from 23andMe, there is no way to keep insurance companies or employers from asking about it. Maybe not directly, but during an interview, applicants might be asked if they have ever had any genetic testing and, if so, what was found. Not to reveal that testing was done could be seen as providing a false answer and thereby disqualify the individual from coverage or a job. Maybe this is not as bad as learning a father is not really the man you thought he was, or as pleasing as finding you have a sister who was adopted into another family living nearby, but definitely a more negative outcome than is desirable.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 16, 2014 at 5:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sometimes, though, another analogy makes more sense. In this story, the US is the first to climb a cliff. Other countries are tethered to the US by ropes. The overall pace of ascent depends on the burden of debt each country has to carry. One false move by the US will wreck the entire enterprise. Yet the US will only get to the top if the others also make steady progress. At the moment, they are more in danger of losing their footing, thereby dragging down the US.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe U.S. GovernmentFederal Reserve* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 16, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Births outside of marriage are increasing most among those without college degrees and in cohabiting couples – as well as for those in their twenties, as Isabel Sawhill and Joanna Venator correctly note. This trend is driven as much by economic as social change, and so requires economic and well as social solutions.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 15, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Read it all and examine the map.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The midterm report, presented by Hungarian Cardinal Peter Erdo, was intended as a summary of the synod’s conversation to date, and has no standing as a statement of church teaching. It likely will be significantly modified before a final version is adopted by the bishops on Friday.

One cardinal taking part in the synod told reporters today that some media coverage distorted a proper understanding of the document, falsely suggesting that it contained firm conclusions of the whole body.

“We’re now working from a position that’s virtually irredeemable,” said Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier of South Africa.

“The message has gone out that this is what synod is saying, that this is what the Catholic Church is saying,” he said. “Whatever we say hereafter will seem like we’re doing damage control.”

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 14, 2014 at 1:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some of the most interesting debates taking place in Catholicism these days on family and marriage issues revolve around the work of gay Catholics who are orthodox in their stance on church teachings, as articulated in the Catechism and elsewhere.

Yes, this is a complex crowd. There are important debates in these circles about the degree to which homosexual orientation itself should be seen as a unique gift from God and, by implication, a part of God's plan for creation. There are also debates here about the degree to which sexual orientation should be openly celebrated as a key source of a person's public identity. (Can orthodox Catholics use "gay" language in a way that is positive and helps the church?) I get all of that.

All I am saying is that the language used in these discussions is often very close to the language that news consumers are hearing from the Vatican – filtered through the political, not doctrinal, lens of the press. The "tone" of the discussions in this niche in Catholic thought, and some content, is very similar to the current Vatican language that we are reading.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 14, 2014 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In late July, when it looked like Dr. Kent Brantly wasn’t going to make it, a small news item escaped Liberia. It spoke of Brantly’s treatment – not of the Ebola vaccine, Zmapp, which Brantly later got. But of a blood transfusion. He had “received a unit of blood from a 14-year-old boy who had survived Ebola because of Dr. Brantly’s care,” the missive said.

Now months later, Brantly, who has since recovered from his battle with the virus, has passed on the favor. A 26-year-old Dallas nurse named Nina Pham, who contracted the illness while treating the United State’s first Ebola patient, has received Brantly’s blood. It’s not the first time it has been used to treat Ebola patients. Recovered Ebola victim Richard Sacra got it, as well as U.S. journalist Ashoka Mukpo, who last night said he’s on the mend.

Injecting the blood of a patient like Brantly who has recovered from Ebola and developed certain antibodies is a decades-old, but promising method of treatment that, academics and health officials agree, could be one of the best means to fight Ebola. Called a convalescent serum, it might also save Pham, an alum of Texas Christian University.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHealth & MedicineHistory* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted October 14, 2014 at 6:55 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For a Church that has historically linked the word “homosexual” with the word “sin,” the idea of welcoming gays in any capacity can appear to be a significant move. Headlines immediately spoke of a “dramatic shift” and a “more tolerant” stance from the church.

But before rushing to conclusions, everyone, on all sides, should calm down.

First, here’s what the document actually is:

The relatio is a mid-Synod snapshot of 200+ Catholic leaders’ conversations that happened in the Synod hall last week. It is a starting point for conversations as the Synod fathers start small group discussions this week.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 14, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This latest story from our brave new world may blow your mind, so I’ll read straight from the Chicago Tribune: “A white Ohio woman is suing a Downers Grove-based sperm bank, alleging that the company mistakenly gave her vials from an African-American donor, a fact that she said has made it difficult for her and her same-sex partner to raise their now 2-year-old daughter in an all-white community.”

Now, I don’t doubt the lesbian couple’s love for the child. But I find it troubling which challenges the couple was willing and isn’t willing to tolerate. They’re suing because of the difficulties of raising a black child in a white community, but they were perfectly willing to risk raising the child without a father—a situation that the best evidence suggests poses far greater consequences for the child. Make no mistake: this is one of those stories that’s a mirror of our culture’s view of sex and children.

There is no doubt that having a mom and a dad in the home is the best situation for healthy development of children. The evidence is overwhelming.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 14, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Ebola epidemic threatens the "very survival" of societies and could lead to failed states, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned.

The outbreak, which has killed some 4,000 people in West Africa, has led to a "crisis for international peace and security", WHO head Margaret Chan said.

She also warned of the cost of panic "spreading faster than the virus".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHealth & MedicineHistoryPsychology* International News & CommentaryAfricaGuineaLiberiaNigeriaSierra Leone* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 13, 2014 at 4:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Benedict XVI* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

9 Comments
Posted October 13, 2014 at 11:56 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Waiting for your midlife crisis? Relax. It’s probably not coming.

According to a growing body of research, midlife upheavals are more fiction than fact.

“Despite its popularity in the popular culture, there isn’t much evidence for a midlife crisis,” says Susan Krauss Whitbourne, a professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is conducting a continuing study of more than 450 people who graduated from college between 1965 and 2006. The study’s latest installment is scheduled for publication in 2015.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMiddle AgePsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 13, 2014 at 11:19 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Using strikingly open language, an interim report of a Vatican synod on modern family life says the church needs to welcome and appreciate gays, and offers a solution for divorced and remarried Catholics who want to receive Communion.

At a press conference to present the report, Cardinal Tagle of the Philippines said the most discussed topics at the Synod so far were the impact of poverty, war and immigration on families.

But one veteran Vatican journalist called the newly proposed language on gays and civil marriages a “pastoral earthquake.”

“Regarding homosexuals, it went so far as to pose the question whether the church could accept and value their sexual orientation without compromising Catholic doctrine,” said John Thavis, a former Rome bureau chief for Catholic News Service.

Read it all.

Update: An AP article is here--read it all also.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyMenPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & PartnershipsWomen* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

3 Comments
Posted October 13, 2014 at 10:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If Christians are to accept...so-called [same-sex] marriage, they must accept that our liturgies and our services, our pastors and priests, our forefathers and foremothers have been for centuries wrong about the meaning of marriage. What they heard, what the pastor read, what their grandparents knew to be true was wrong as rain. And not just a little wrong, but fundamentally mistaken about the most essential elements of marriage. If... [same-sex] marriage is right, then there is almost nothing in the old Book of Common Prayer that is right.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship--Book of Common PrayerParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 13, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a new publication, ISIS justifies its kidnapping of women as sex slaves citing Islamic theology, an interpretation that is rejected by the Muslim world at large as a perversion of Islam.

"One should remember that enslaving the families of the kuffar -- the infidels -- and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Shariah, or Islamic law," the group says in an online magazine published Sunday.

The title of the article sums up the ISIS point of view: "The revival (of) slavery before the Hour," referring to Judgment Day.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 12, 2014 at 12:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Is another way of putting it that the focus on divorced and remarried Catholics and on annulments risks overshadowing the bigger question, which is how to prevent marriages from breaking down in the first place?

Absolutely. The preventative approach is important. Of course, we never should be making a choice between helping people who are suffering and trying to prevent them from getting hurt in the first place. We have to do both.

What would be most useful to you as an American bishop out of this synod?

I think the most useful result would be a confirmation of the beauty of the Church’s teaching and a resolve on the part of the Church at all levels, not just the bishops, to support marriage and family.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 12, 2014 at 5:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Watch it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I happened to come across these this week, and I haven't seen them since 1990 when we first caught them on boxing Day in England (really). French with english subtitles, beautifully filmed, and, perhaps most notably, full of Christian themes--KSH.

Filed under: * By Kendall* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologySoteriology

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Posted October 11, 2014 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hope..is like a star—not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, and only to be discovered in the night of adversity.

--C. H. Spurgeon, 1859

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEschatology

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Posted October 9, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of York has been challenged over "discrimination" against a gay clergyman who married his same-sex partner.

Jeremy Pemberton can no longer work as a priest in Nottinghamshire and has been blocked from taking a job as a hospital chaplain in the county.

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell challenged the archbishop over the case as he arrived at Southwell Minster.

However, Dr John Sentamu said he could not comment due to legal reasons.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Archbishop of York John SentamuSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 8, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The court, now entering its second decade under Mr Justice Brian McGovern, has shone a light into some dark recesses of Ireland’s financial and business world, exposing greed and human misery on a grand scale alongside some shoddy and dubious, accounting, auditing, banking, business, legal, regulatory and stockbroking practices.

It has heard of property and other deals involving misappropriation, forged signatures, deceit, lies and secret profits; suspect property and money transfers aimed at avoiding repayment; exorbitant expenses for senior bankers; and slipshod and questionable loans, investments and valuations.

It has also shown existing laws provide limited opportunity to penalise some of these practices and revealed gaps in legislation on corporate crime, including the absence of an offence of reckless lending.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsPersonal FinanceStock MarketThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 8, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

9 What does good disagreement look like?
This is a fundamental question which underlies our conversations. It’s unrealistic to expect everyone to be brought to a single position on same-sex relationships. What we can look for, however, is a way of living with disagreement that honours and respects views we don’t agree with, believing that those who hold such views are not just perverse, ignorant or immoral, but rather are bearing witness to different aspects of the truth that lies in Christ alone. Not only is all truth God’s truth, but God’s truth is ultimately bound to be beyond our grasp because our minds are but miniscule receptors before the great and beautiful Mystery of God.

10 Time is not on our side
Some of our ethical/doctrinal discussions have taken decades, if not centuries, to work through – contraception, remarriage after divorce, the ordination of women. It’s important not to rush debates on profound issues, and it’s also important to keep such Godly conversations in the liquid solution of grace. However, the speed of social exchange in today’s world and the seriousness of our dis-connect with large sections of society on the issue of same-sex relationships mean that we haven’t got the luxury of endless internal debate. We are in real need of faithful, hopeful and pastoral ways forward.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted October 8, 2014 at 5:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Students from affluent families are taking out loans for college at twice the rate of two decades ago, the fasting-growing borrower’s group.

Fifty percent of graduates in the class of 2012 whose parents had incomes of more than $125,700 left college with loans, up from 24 percent about 20 years earlier, according to a study released today by the Pew Research Center. For graduates whose parental income was below $44,000, the rate rose to 77 percent from 67 percent.

“Across the spectrum, student debt has become an important way to pay for college and even graduates from well-off families rely on debt,” Richard Fry, an economist and primary author of the study, said in an e-mail.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationMarriage & FamilyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted October 8, 2014 at 5:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A government ethics committee in Germany has last week argued that laws banning incest between brothers and sisters, who were consenting adults, were an unacceptable intrusion into the right to sexual self-determination.

This intervention came after a much-publicised case, that involved several court hearings. A brother and sister living as sexual partners in Saxony have four children together. They were brought up separately and met when he was young adult and she 16. He was found guilty of incest and served a three-year prison sentence. The couple have tried unsuccessfully to get the case overturned by the European Court of Human Rights.

In July of this year, an Australian judge, Garry Neilson, suggested that the community may now accept consensual sex between consenting adult sibling couples. He opined that views against incest may have changed since the 1950s in a manner similar to those relating to homosexuality.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilySexuality* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted October 8, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

American banks are loading up on U.S. government debt, a sign they remain cautious on the economy even with the jobless rate at a six-year low and corporations at their healthiest in a generation.

Commercial lenders increased their holdings of Treasuries (BUSY) and debt from federal agencies in September by $54 billion to an unprecedented $1.99 trillion, data from the Federal Reserve show. Banks have now been net buyers for 12 straight months.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 7, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The discussion preceding the synod of bishops on the family has ignored the most vulnerable party in divorces and remarriages: children. In so doing, it mirrors the discussion of sex and marriage in western culture more broadly, which focuses on the gratification of the desires of adults—however legitimate—while paying no attention to the needs of children.

For some children, no doubt, their parents’ divorce brings relief. For many, however, it leaves a wound that never fully heals. Children find themselves caught between two parties who each have a claim on them. They can frequently feel like pawns in a game, or like a piece of land fought over by conflicting nations. They have to grow up fast to take care of adults who, in their hurt, have begun to act like children.

Divorce ends the world that the child knows. It says that the foundation of her life, the structure that produced her and formed her is no more. This is captured well in the title of a book by a professor of youth ministry, Andrew Root: The Children of Divorce: The Loss of Family as the Loss of Being. The title is not an exaggeration.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 6, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If you are a Christian who doesn’t smoke, abstains from sex outside your heterosexual marriage and can get your priest to vouch that you go to church at least three times a month, you may qualify for a new Catholic alternative to health insurance.

Taking a cue from evangelicals, a group of traditionalist Catholics on Thursday (Oct. 2) unveiled a cost-sharing network that they say honors their values and ensures that they are not even indirectly supporting health care services such as abortion that contradict their beliefs.

Christ Medicus Foundation CURO, as the group is called, will be financially integrated with Samaritan Ministries International, which was launched in 1991 by an evangelical home-schooling dad. The SMI network now serves 125,000 people and is exempt from the Affordable Care Act.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

4 Comments
Posted October 6, 2014 at 5:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the past few weeks, several large-scale college sexual assault prevention initiatives have launched, focusing on "bystander intervention" — which might be campuses' best bet toward creating a safe environment for students.

Bystander intervention trains students to identify and intervene in potentially harmful situations. For example, bystander training teaches students to interject themselves if they see a clearly incapacitated friend being led off into a sexual situation they would likely have no control over.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationMenPsychologySexualityViolenceWomenYoung Adults* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted October 5, 2014 at 4:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

ECKSTROM: Well, the argument is really about, most immediately about communion for divorced Catholics. So under church law right now, if you are divorced and get remarried outside of the church, you can't get communion. And so what they're arguing about is whether or not they should change that rule and allow those divorced Catholics access to communion.

ABERNETHY: Now there's no voting, no decision-making, no change in this synod. But next year there's going to be another synod next October about the family again, and then, Kim—

KIM LAWTON, managing editor: Well, then there could be some change. I mean, nothing's ever guaranteed, especially when you're talking about the Catholic Church, but this is supposed to be the time for just discussing and debating some of these issues. And then decisions would come later, down the road. And on this issue of divorce and remarriage, you know, the church doctrine is that sacramental marriage is forever. It cannot be dissolved. And so therefore they don't recognize divorce, and therefore if you are divorced and you get remarried, in the church's eyes you're living in adultery, and that's why you cannot take communion and other sacraments. And so what the cardinals are arguing about is does it affect the doctrine that marriage is not able to be dissolved if you change how you treat people who are in those situations? And I think some of the conservatives are worried if you start tinkering around with that, what other issues and areas of teaching can be tinkered around with?

ABERNETHY: But there's a lot more that they could be discussing and probably will be discussing.

Read or watch it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & Family* International News & CommentaryEuropeItaly* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 5, 2014 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pope Francis has summoned bishops from all over the world to Rome to discuss issues concerning families – including hot-button issues like artificial contraception and gay civil unions.

The meeting, called a synod, opened on Sunday and is seen as a test of Francis' vision of a more merciful Church.

Not since the landmark Second Vatican Council half a century ago has a church meeting raised so much hope among progressive Catholics — and so much apprehension among conservatives.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeItaly* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 5, 2014 at 12:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If we are going to reflect on a theme like “The Ethics of Sex, Marriage and Family,” and presume to be doing so on the basis of the canon of scripture, we must be prepared to accept a cardinal reality. To speak of Christian Ethics is to speak of scripture in action, in the lived life of Christian formation and catechesis. Increasingly, very few progressives dismiss the scriptural record on sex, marriage and family. Some of course still do. They are bold to proclaim that the biblical witness is not just wrong in its parts (Genesis 1-3 as ancient Hebrew musing, Paul as wrong or speaking about something else, Jesus as all loving and disinterested in a modern phenomenon like gayness, which exists in a timeframe the bible does not nor could ever be expected to comprehend). The Bible is wrong, outdated, or just not addressing the matter of the challenge of new understandings of sex and human thriving, altogether. If it gets things right, it does so accidentally or inferentially, like the proverbial blind hog finding an acorn.

I mention this right up front because, as with the early church, what we now see is something else: a heavy assault mounted from within Christian circles themselves on prior understandings of the estate of marriage and its goods. Not from cultural despisers or secularists, but from those who purport to argue that their new understanding is indeed scriptural after all. Many secular and religious proponents of same-sexuality had concluded earlier that marriage was a patriarchal invention that no card-carrying proponent of sexual liberation—gay or straight—ought to go near. Inside Christian circles, this has changed.

So alongside those dubious about scripture having anything to say, accidentally or properly, are those who argue that their new understanding of sexuality is somehow biblical after all. In this sense, the debate over marriage, sex and family is one in which both sides, or several sides, all appeal to scripture. That is, not unlike the early church examples just cited. So we must ask: What account of scripture is it that has been brought to bear on our present and older understandings of sex, marriage, and family. Because of its scale, depth, and complex two-testament character, Scripture is infinitely capable of producing multiple interpretations. Irenaeus used the image of a mosaic. One receives a gift of scripture with all its myriad pieces, and the goal of interpretation is to see the face of the king, Jesus Christ, when all the pieces are properly and proportionally assembled....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted October 4, 2014 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read the whole heart breaking tale.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the most Catholic country in Asia, The Philippines, the Church has played a significant role for centuries.

Recently the Catholic Church lost a long battle in a bid to prevent a family planning bill which aims to provide contraceptives to those who need it most.

Read it all and see what you make of the video. Please note that this is part of a series, there are also reports for example from Brazil and Ireland and Ghana.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilySexuality* International News & CommentaryAsiaPhilippines* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 3, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all (my emphasis).

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Dean of Brisbane] Dr [Peter] Catt, the chair of the church social responsibilities committee, launched a stinging attack on the Government.

He said: “A business model that depends to a large extent on losses from problem gamblers and the subsequent harm to individuals and families is unethical.

“Even proceeding on the erroneous assumption that harm is in fact limited to a small percentage of the population, this approach effectively validates the great harm done to a few, for the mild pleasure, financial benefit and convenience of the majority.’’

Dr Catt said the Government policy was exposed as “deeply destructive” to both gamblers and their families.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Culture-WatchGamblingLaw & Legal IssuesPovertyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 30, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The former Anglican Bishop of Winchester, the Right Reverend Michael Scott-Joynt, has died aged 71.

He served as bishop from 1995 until his retirement in 2011.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said the Church of England had "lost a faithful, hard working and distinguished servant".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Twice in the last few months I’ve encountered writers taking note of this shift, and both have made a similar (and provocative) point: The decline of cults, while good news for anxious parents of potential devotees, might actually be a worrying sign for Western culture, an indicator not only of religious stagnation but of declining creativity writ large.

The first writer is Philip Jenkins, a prolific religious historian, who argues that the decline in “the number and scale of controversial fringe sects” is both “genuine and epochal,” and something that should worry more mainstream religious believers rather than comfort them. A wild fringe, he suggests, is often a sign of a healthy, vital center, and a religious culture that lacks for charismatic weirdos may lack “a solid core of spiritual activism and inquiry” as well.

The second writer is Peter Thiel, the PayPal co-founder, venture capitalist and controversialist, who includes an interesting aside about the decline of cults in his new book, “Zero to One” — officially a book of advice to would-be entrepreneurs, but really a treatise on escaping what he regards as the developed world’s 40-year economic, technological and cultural malaise.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 30, 2014 at 4:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The “squeezed middle” is being forced to endure a lower standard of living more than a decade on from the credit crunch, keeping consumer spending growth below pre-crisis levels.

The EY Item Club predicts that real take-home pay in 2017 will still be below the rate in 2007 because of subdued wage growth.

The economic forecaster’s report will make for uneasy reading for George Osborne as he prepares to address the Conservative party conference today, and it is compounded by further evidence from a free market think-tank of the existence of a “cost of living crisis”.

Read it all (requires subscription).



Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 29, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Morningstar Youth and Family Life Center, a 13,000-square-foot facility and a $5.7 million project, is expected to open in a year. As speaker after speaker pointed out at the ceremony, the project is a real-life lesson to never abandon a dream.

Miles, pastor of Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church, is 69. How old was he when first began work to assemble property for the center?

"About 44," Miles said, smiling.

Plans are for the center to serve about 200 people a day, including youths and seniors, with a wide range of programs and services including math, science and computer tutoring; jobs skills training; food and clothing programs; counseling; and sports programs.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted September 28, 2014 at 2:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For more than three years, Barack Obama has been trying to avoid getting into a fight in Syria. But this week, with great tracts of the Middle East under the jihadist’s knife, he at last faced up to the inevitable. On September 23rd America led air strikes in Syria against both the warriors of Islamic State (IS) and a little-known al-Qaeda cell, called the Khorasan group, which it claimed was about to attack the West. A president who has always seen his main mission as nation-building at home is now using military force in six countries—Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

The Syrian operation is an essential counterpart to America’s attacks against IS in Iraq. Preventing the group from carving out a caliphate means, at the very least, ensuring that neither of these two countries affords it a haven (see article). But more than the future of IS is at stake in the streets of Raqqa and Mosul. Mr Obama’s attempt to deal with the jihadists is also a test of America’s commitment to global security. It is a test that he has been failing until now.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 28, 2014 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tommy Montgomery was 9 years old when he watched his hard-drinking, abusive father stab his mother to death in their Charleston home, plunging a knife into her body 38 times. Her screams and the blood-soaked images from that day haunted him for years, stealing his sleep, filling him with anxiety and fueling hallucinations that churned in his brain.

Montgomery dropped out of school, cycled through low-paying jobs and turned to drugs and drink to chase away his demons. In the end, he unleashed his bottled-up rage on others, just like his father had done.

Nine months after he was accused of choking his wife in March 2009, Montgomery killed a church music director in North Charleston, stabbing him 92 times. Then, DNA testing revealed he was responsible for slitting the throat of a woman in a Charleston park three years earlier, police said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 28, 2014 at 11:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fewer than one in five adults worldwide can be considered thriving -- or strong and consistent -- in levels of purpose well-being, as measured by the inaugural Gallup-Healthways Global Well-Being Index in 2013. Residents living in the Americas are the most likely to be thriving in this element (37%), while those in Asia and the Middle East and North Africa are the least likely (13%).

The Global Well-Being Index measures each of the five elements of well-being -- purpose, social, financial, community, and physical - through Gallup's World Poll. Purpose well-being, which is defined as people liking what they do each day and being motivated to achieve their goals, was the lowest performing element of the five elements of well-being. Global results of how people fare in 135 countries and areas in this element, as well as the four other elements, have been compiled in the State of Global Well-Being report.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenGlobalizationMarriage & FamilyPsychologySociology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For better or worse, change is not coming next month. This year's synod is supposed to prepare the agenda for another, larger synod in October next year. That second gathering will then make recommendations to the pope, with whom the final decision on any change will lie.

Pope Francis could choose to leave the work of mercy in this area to a commission he established last month for the purpose of simplifying and streamlining the marriage-annulment process. The pope has suggested that as many as half of all Catholic marriages are actually invalid, "because people get married lacking maturity, they get married without realizing that it is a lifelong commitment, they get married because society tells them they have to get married."

Focusing on reform of the annulment process could be appealing to a leader who, for all his innovations, has declared himself a "son of the church" on moral teaching. As the pope has said regarding contraception, "the question is not whether to change the doctrine, but to go deeper and make sure that pastoral care takes account of situations and of what each person is able to do."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & Family* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySacramental TheologyEucharistTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted September 26, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Consider also the reasons given by Francis and Anne which are partly personal fears and partly about a false altruism. Not wanting to ‘watch the slow decline of a partner’; fear of going to a nursing home; ‘too many people on this earth’- making more pension money available for others; not wanting to ‘dig into our savings’ and not being able to do the things they could at an earlier age. Add this to John Paul’s clear point that he didn’t want to look after them, and it’s almost a ‘perfect storm’ of lack of imagination, lack of a willingness to care and to look towards other alternatives.

There is also an insidious cultural side to this affair evident in the reporting at Moustique. There is no alternate voice here; no suggestion that promoting this story might have a deleterious effect upon others. No help lines promoted, no questioning in any constructive way. The social question, as always, is about the cart and the horse – is the media effectively pushing the issue or is it, as it may claim, simply reflecting the vox populi?

This is not a ‘celebration of choice’; far from it. It is a rationalization devoid of humanity and created, in the first instance by the legal possibility of euthanasia. It is then abetted by whatever it is in that family and that society that confirmed and supported the kind of dysfunction that allowed the children to confirm and assist instead of saying a clear, No, and offering every alternate support, no matter what the cost.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyMediaPsychologySuicideReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeBelgium* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 26, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury was unable and unwilling to do what was necessary to save either of the two initiatives. Consequently, the bishops of ECUSA (who received their invitations to Lambeth as though nothing had happened) had no motivation to change course. Indeed, the latter were only too willing to see the Primates' efforts fail, without their having to do anything overt to torpedo them. And Lambeth itself was both a collegial dud (thanks to the imposed but phony indaba gimmick) and a financial disaster.

By 2008 the hostility and disputes inside ECUSA spilled over into the uncanonical depositions of four orthodox bishops -- three of them diocesan (+Schofield, +Duncan and +Iker). The lawsuits picked up in earnest, and largely remain unabated to this day. These blatantly illegal actions by the new Presiding Bishop of ECUSA directly brought about the formation of what in time became the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA). The division of ECUSA was now formal -- even if most of those whose actions had led to it refused to recognize what had happened.

Dr. Williams' dithering over Lambeth, ECUSA's thumbing its nose at him over pastoral oversight, and its continued actions against dissident bishops and clergy, greatly widened the fractures in the Anglican Communion. Over three hundred bishops from African denominations refused to attend Lambeth, and a number of the Global South primates announced GAFCON's first gathering, timed to take place before Lambeth 2008 even convened. The division within the Anglican Communion was now formal, even though again most refused to recognize what was happening.

After the events of 2008 within ECUSA, there was no longer any reason for the revisionists in ECUSA to hold back in the slightest.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: AnalysisArchbishop of Canterbury Anglican PrimatesEpiscopal Church (TEC)Instruments of UnitySexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Windsor Report / Process* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted September 25, 2014 at 11:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

His deliverance, although he did not know it at the time, was the opening of the Comedy Store above a Soho strip club in May 1979. He is amusing on the strange acts who thrived in this hospitable habitat, none weirder than the expressionist clown Andrew Bailey, aka Podomovski, who held a large pane of magnifying glass in front of his head and made guttural noises with the mic fully in his mouth. At a stroke, Merton points out, this venue loosened the hold of Oxbridge and the TV and radio commissioners and introduced something new to the comedy scene: democracy. He does not mention that this new ecological niche was also especially welcoming to his own style of comedy: deadpan, off‑the‑cuff, reactive, full of jarring interruptions and synaptic leaps. It is one of the paradoxes of Merton's career that he is such an earnest scholar of the mechanics of carefully crafted visual and written comedy – as a boy he collected Super 8 silent films of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton and projected them on to a bedsheet hung on his bedroom wall – yet his own extraordinary talents are best deployed as a virtuoso of winging it.

The book's central episode feels less fresh because Merton has already mined it for material in his act and in interviews: the breakdown he suffered in 1990, the first symptom of which was his inability to stay in his chair for the opening shot of Whose Line is it Anyway?

Merton is clear that this period, which culminated in a six-week stay at the Maudsley Psychiatric Hospital, was a one-off, caused by a reaction to the anti-malarial tablets he took before a trip to Kenya. There is no reason to doubt this, but the preceding account of his erratic journey through the 1980s does give the impression of someone driven almost mad by not having a vehicle for his peculiar talents – and then made manic by suddenly being on the verge of fulfilling them.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksMovies & Television* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted September 25, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If the church upholds this kind of decision, it is endorsing cruelty, discrimination and exclusion. Pope Francis’ view is that this is exactly the kind of thing that requires the church to exercise mercy not rigidity. But allowing a married gay couple to sing in the choir as an act of “mercy” would merely further expose the fragility of the church’s thirteenth century views of human sexuality. It would put the lie to the otherness of gay people; to the notion that it is essential or even possible for a tiny minority to live entirely without intimacy or love or commitment. It also reveals that gay men have long been a part of the church – and tolerated, as long as they lied about their lives and gave others plausible deniability with respect to their sexual orientation. It is an endorsement of dishonesty.

None of this is compatible with the core moral teachings of the church – about fairness, truth, compassion, forgiveness, mercy and inclusion. And this is clear to large numbers of Catholics – especially the younger generation who will rightly view this kind of decision as barbaric and inhuman. There is only so much inhumanity that a church can be seen to represent before its own members lose faith in it. I recall the feelings of my own niece and nephew who lost a huge amount of respect for the church when they heard a homily denouncing the civil marriage of their own uncle. I notice the outcry among Catholic high school students when a teacher was fired for the very same reason. When a church responds to an act of love and commitment not by celebration but by ostracism, it is not just attacking a couple’s human dignity; it is also attacking itself.

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyMediaPsychologySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture


Posted September 25, 2014 at 5:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A father’s level of education is the strongest factor determining a child’s future success at school, creating a self-reinforcing cycle of poverty and lack of achievement passed down from parents to children in Britain, according to research.

The report from the Office for National Statistics claims that children are seven and a half times less likely to be successful at school if their father failed to achieve, compared with children with highly educated fathers.

A mother’s education level was important to a lesser degree, with a child approximately three times as likely to have a low educational outcome if their mother had a low level of education.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationMarriage & FamilyMenPsychology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted September 24, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What prompted you to write this book?

I went to a basketball game a couple years ago, and the crowd was screaming, “Overrated! Overrated!” at the other team. It’s not that I’ve heard people scream that when I’m preaching, but the possibility of being “overrated” myself is something I’ve sensed throughout my life.

For example, I’ve been speaking, writing, blogging, and preaching about justice. It’s easy to fall in love with the idea. But something gets lost in the actual practice and application. When I started sensing this, I personally felt exposed and began to see the problem in the larger church....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPovertyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

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Posted September 24, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the eight years since, Facebook’s News Feed — that LED-lit window through which we glimpse news, memes and snatches of other people’s lives — has not exactly gotten less controversial. But the nature of that controversy has fundamentally changed. Where early college users raged against sharing, and seeing, too much information — of being subsumed, in effect, by the social media noise — our anxieties today frequently involve getting too little of it. Facebook’s latest changes to the News Feed, announced just last week, are essentially tooled to give users more content, more quickly.

Both concerns relate to control. Whether we see too much content or too little, everything we see in Facebook’s News Feed is determined by an algorithm — an invented mathematical formula that guesses what you want to see based on who posted it, where it came from, and a string of other mysterious factors known only to the programmers and project managers who work on it.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationMediaPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 24, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Everyone knows that success in the marketplace requires skills and habits that are usually acquired through good schools, strong families, active citizenship, and even solicitous and judgmental churches. Those relational institutions, however, are threatened, in different ways, by the unmediated effects of both the market and big, impersonal government. We also know that most people find that worthy lives are shaped by both love and work, and that the flourishing of love and work are interdependent. We even know that love and work are both limits on government, even as we know that middle-class Americans who have good jobs, strong families, and "church homes" are also our best citizens.

What we really know should point our political life in rather definite directions. Does our familiar political vocabulary provide us what we need to articulate those directions? Or does it confuse us more in this already confusing time? We have every reason to wonder whether even conservative Americans have access to a plausible account of the reality of our personhood, an account that could serve as the foundation of a public philosophy that would properly limit and direct a sustainable political life for free persons. What we lack most is an authentically empirical theory adequate to the complexities of American life in our time.

The natural inclination of any conservative is to seek out such a theory in our deep and diverse tradition of liberty, rather than invent one out of whole cloth. And if our search is guided by a sense of how our changing circumstances require us to reflect on the relational character of the human person, our tradition will not disappoint. But we have no choice but to look beyond the most familiar fixtures of that tradition toward some neglected American theorists of liberty who have highlighted the shortcomings of an overly individualistic understanding of American life. Complacently excessive individualism is the opiate of the American "public intellectuals" of our time.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPhilosophyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted September 23, 2014 at 8:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

God may not be dead, but considering the imago Dei in philosophical discourse and public policy certainly is. Not only that, but the rational reasons for acknowledging the exceptional dignity of humans are wrongly denigrated as merely reflecting our religious past in which rigid moralism supposedly trumped reason.

Today’s dominant cultural voices argue that an individual’s moral worth should be predicated upon his or her individual capacities of the moment. This view is most acutely expressed in bioethics, the field that wields tremendous influence over health-care public policies and in the ethical protocols of medicine.

The potential that denying human dignity has to oppress, exploit, harvest, and kill the weakest and most vulnerable among us hangs in the air like malodorous evidence of a ruptured sewer line.Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPhilosophyPsychology* TheologyAnthropology

0 Comments
Posted September 23, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a grim assessment of the Ebola epidemic, researchers say the deadly virus threatens to become endemic to West Africa instead of eventually disappearing from humans.

"The current epidemiologic outlook is bleak," wrote a panel of more than 60 World Health Organization experts in a study published Tuesday by the New England Journal of Medicine.

"We must therefore face the possibility that Ebola virus disease will become endemic among the human population of West Africa, a prospect that has never previously been contemplated."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHealth & MedicineScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryAfrica* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted September 23, 2014 at 6:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For centuries the secrecy of the confessional has been sacrosanct, but the Church of England may relax the rules to allow clergy to reveal serious crimes such as child abuse.

Former Bishop of Chelmsford John Gladwin – who last year led an inquiry into clerical sex abuse in the Church of England – is pressing for the changes, along with members of the Church’s ‘parliament’, the General Synod.

But any change will be fiercely resisted by traditionalists who think clergy should retain the trust of worshippers. It will also cause tensions with Roman Catholics, who believe the seal of the confessional should remain inviolable.

Bishop Gladwin’s moves follow a decision by the Anglican Church of Australia to allow its priests to report crimes they hear during confession to the police.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of AustraliaChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySacramental Theology

13 Comments
Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Having served in urban ministry for over 30 years, I see our attention shifting away from planting churches in areas of poverty. In a time of economic struggle many urban churches have had to close their doors—both front and side. It’s possible to conclude that our past efforts were ineffective and created dependency. But every pastor I know who has worked in such ministries talks about lives changed for the better and leaders who were nurtured because the church was there with open doors. I fear we are giving up on such places.

Some of the most creative church starts today are what we call emergent communities. The ones that get the most attention are doing wonderful and essential work, especially in reaching people who have felt alienated from the church. Yet many of these people are the disaffected children of the demographic we’ve always served. We need more of these communities, but we also need to take some of that out-of-the-box vision and focus it on addressing the prevailing poor-door reality of our church.

Whenever I visit our congregation’s vice president and her family of four, I sit on the chair facing the lower bunk of their bed; the space is so tight that our knees touch. The parents sleep on the bottom bunk and the daughters (in college and high school) share the top. They live in a building where families of Mexican immigrants are squeezed into single-room cubicles without kitchen or closet and use a bathroom in the corridor with dozens of other people. This building sits in the shadow of a gleaming high-rise where the penthouse sold for millions. When I say, “in the shadow,” I mean on the same block, in eyesight of public housing projects and rent-stabilized middle-income apartments.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchPovertyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 20, 2014 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For many farmers in the UK it was this year's weather that helped give them their best harvest in living memory.

But in the future it will be technology that helps them get the most from every acre.

With the global population predicted to be nine billion by 2050, experts believe we will need to produce 70% more food.

Edd Banks is one of the growing number of farmers in the UK now practising precision farming.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 19, 2014 at 4:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Bishop of Manchester David Walker]...said, "[it is]...more important to get it right than get it quick. . . If we rush at this, we will simply end up repeating tired old failures to reach solutions."

He was interviewed alongside the Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Tim Dakin, by the Church of England's director of communications, Arun Arora. Bishop Dakin appeared more ready to emphasise the extent of the division within the College.

"These are Gospel issues that we are talking about," he said. "They go deep. They are very important to many of us, personally, or by conviction, or by a sense of deep commitment to a way of life."

He went on: "Our different traditions of wisdom and our understanding of reason have actually probably brought us to the point where we have got some deep disagreements and we need to be able to speak the truth in love to one another in a Christian way and then work out what we're going to do."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted September 19, 2014 at 5:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The College of Bishops of the Church of England has met for three days. Two of the days were devoted to the first of a series of shared conversations in the Church of England on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission.

The context and process for the conversations were set out in a paper to General Synod by the Bishop of Sheffield on 26 June 2014 available here which also identified two outcomes for the process.

The first is to enable the Church of England to reflect, in light of scripture, on the implications of the immense cultural change that has been taking place in society on issues of sexuality. How can the Church "proclaim the gospel afresh in every generation" as a missionary church in a changing culture ?

The second objective is to create space and an environment for the Church of England to live together as a family who disagree with one another. Recognising that this was the experience of the first disciples and apostles who went on to proclaim the Gospel across the world, how can the Church ensure that those with differing views on sexuality continue to share together a place of common baptism and faith ?

Read it all and listen to the podcast linked at the bottom as well.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted September 18, 2014 at 6:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Federal Reserve took two steps toward winding down the historic easy-money policies that have defined its response to the financial crisis, but stopped short of the move markets are awaiting most: signaling when interest rates will start to rise.

With the economy gradually improving, U.S. central-bank officials plan to end the bond-buying program known as quantitative easing after October, hoping to finally stop expanding a six-year experiment in monetary policy that has left the Fed holding more than $4 trillion of Treasury and mortgage bonds.

The Fed on Wednesday also detailed a new technical plan for how it will raise short-term interest rates, something most officials currently don't intend to do until next year. The central bank has kept the federal-funds rate near zero since December 2008 and offered assurances along the way about rates remaining low, another part of its varied efforts to boost the post-financial-crisis economy.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/SectorThe U.S. GovernmentFederal Reserve* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 18, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Western society is currently experiencing what can only be described as a moral revolution. Our society’s moral code and collective ethical evaluation on a particular issue has undergone not small adjustments but a complete reversal. That which was once condemned is now celebrated, and the refusal to celebrate is now condemned.

What makes the current moral and sexual revolution so different from previous moral revolutions is that it is taking place at an utterly unprecedented velocity. Previous generations experienced moral revolutions over decades, even centuries. This current revolution is happening at warp speed.

As the church responds to this revolution, we must remember that current debates on sexuality present to the church a crisis that is irreducibly and inescapably theological. This crisis is tantamount to the type of theological crisis that Gnosticism presented to the early church or that Pelagianism presented to the church in the time of Augustine. In other words, the crisis of sexuality challenges the church’s understanding of the gospel, sin, salvation, and sanctification. Advocates of the new sexuality demand a complete rewriting of Scripture’s metanarrative, a complete reordering of theology, and a fundamental change to how we think about the church’s ministry.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted September 17, 2014 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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