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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.If you want to read the whole 1910 speech you may find it here.
Read it all and follow all the links.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
I fear I will be in trouble once again with some people in the church as I find myself, in conscience, having to go against the line that the churches are taking on so-called three-parent families.
I am, to be clear, firmly in favour despite the opposition shown by some of my colleagues and a powerful lobby of critics from abroad.
A Bill passed by the House of Commons earlier this month will allow for a procedure in which a small proportion of a third person's DNA is used to create an embroyo in order to prevent potentially fatal genetic disorders. Scientists have found techniques to replace faulty mitochondrial DNA - mitrochondria are microscopic energy creating structures in the human cell - with donated DNA, and Britain is set to be the first country to endorse the practice.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
What's Arnholter's big idea? It's simple. Ambitiously simple. Create a mural made by thousands of people in every state in the country, plus Washington, D.C. Call it the "Mural of America," make it about reminding people that humanity is a shared experience and allot 15 months, 16,000 miles and $175,000 to do it.
"It's important for this country," Arnholter says. "We're always bickering, so we miss the big picture. A woman once told me this project is about 'the cohesion of diversity.' That's the best way I've heard anyone describe it."
Traveling to a new state every weekend, with a break in the winter, Arnholter wants to stop by the Boston Marathon, the Las Vegas Art Festival, the Treme Gumbo Creole Festival in New Orleans and the Broad Ripple Art Fair. He'll use a similar route taken by the Ringling Brothers Circus in the 1900s. He'll live in an RV.
First stop: Pendleton, S.C.
Read it all.
Early in the summer of 2007, a doctoral student named Mehnaz M. Afridi traveled from her California home to a conference in southern Germany. Her official role was to deliver a paper on anti-Semitism in Egyptian literature, a rather loaded subject for a Muslim scholar. Seventy miles away, she had another appointment, and an even riskier agenda.
After the conference concluded, Ms. Afridi drove to the former concentration camp in Dachau, Germany. As she stood before the dun bricks of a crematorium, she prayed. “Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un,” she said in Arabic, meaning, “Surely we belong to God and to him shall we return.”
“I didn’t know that moment would be defining my role,” Dr. Afridi, 44, said a few weeks ago. “I didn’t even realize then that I was at a crossroads. People see the Holocaust and Islam as two separate things, but these stories of faith and catastrophe are not opposites. They are companions.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Education History Religion & Culture Violence * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam Judaism * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theodicy
At first, Eva Christiansen barely noticed the number. Her bank called to say that Ms. Christiansen, a 36-year-old entrepreneur here, had been approved for a small business loan. She whooped. She danced. A friend took pictures.
“I think I was so happy I got the loan, I didn’t hear everything he said,” she recalled.
And then she was told again about her interest rate. It was -0.0172 percent — less than zero. While there would be fees to pay, the bank would also pay interest to her. It was just a little over $1 a month. But still.
These are strange times for European borrowers, as if a wormhole has opened up to a parallel universe where the usual rules of financial gravity are suspended.
Read it all from the NYTimes Dealbook.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Credit Markets Currency Markets Euro European Central Bank Personal Finance The Banking System/Sector * International News & Commentary Europe Denmark * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
I am sitting by the swimming pool at the Canyon Ranch resort in Tucson, Arizona, only it is not really a resort, it is a fitness/wellness/life-enhancing centre where people who are very stressed come to detox and, as I am discovering, “find” themselves. But this resort is not brimming with stressed-out women, worn thin and ragged by juggling motherhood, wifedom and being the heads of companies. No. The classes here are full of men – men with great big identity issues.
There is 45-year-old Lee, who has just “gotten divorced” and has, in the course of a month, slept with 15 women. “I don’t see myself as that type of man,” he says, “but I feel so lonely and I don’t know what to do with my life.” There is Ryan, aged 53, who has never married and is in crisis about why he hasn’t. Then there is Steve, 49, a travel agent, long-time married, who has hit a midlife crisis. He says he really does want to buy a Harley-Davidson and head off down Route 66. “Is that wrong?” he asks. “I just don’t know what I want in my life anymore.”
They are all part of a “sandwich generation”: they sit between the baby boomers and the digital natives. And they are a group who have, according to recent statistics, lost their way.
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What do you see as trends in seminaries regarding discernment of vocation?
I see an increasing focus on the pastor as a person—an increasing awareness of the importance of self-care and of developing strong spiritual disciplines. It used to be that seminary was a time when people’s spiritual discipline waned and their academic discipline increased. Now many seminaries emphasize integrating the spiritual, reflective process with the academic, which I think is all to the good.
We often talk about burnout as a problem among clergy. How do you understand that term?
When we see pastors who are experiencing burnout, sometimes it is simply because they are working too hard. But more often they are doing a lot of things that are not central to their sense of call. When people are working close to their sense of call and purpose and meaning, they can work really hard without feeling burned out. But when they are doing a lot of things that people are telling them should be done or that feel urgent but aren’t close to the heart, that is a strong indicator of burnout.
It’s been said that most pastors are a “quivering mass of availability,” eager to please everybody. That is a path to destruction.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Psychology Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
Two notable differences in family life in the United States have emerged in the past 60 years: average, middle-class families aren’t economically flourishing and there are fewer traditional family units than ever before. Lerman, now a professor of economics at American University and a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, says these two factors are linked. Changes in family structures have sabotaged the financial confidence of middle-class Americans and led to the decline of working-class men in the labor market, say Lerman and Bradford Wilcox in their 2014 paper for the American Enterprise Institute, “For richer, for poorer: How family structures economic success in America.”
The erosion of the intact family — as defined by Lerman and Wilcox as a retreat in marriage, an increase in cohabitation and out-of-wedlock births, a prevalence of single-parent homes, and a rise in step-families — has affected the economic outcomes of children and thus led to further income inequality between American families.
“Young men and women from intact families enjoy an annual ‘intact-family premium’ that amounts to $6,500 and $4,700, respectively, over the incomes of their peers from single-parent families,” wrote Lerman and Wilcox. “Men and women who are currently married and were raised in an intact family enjoy an annual 'family premium' in their household incomes that exceeds that of their unmarried peers who were not raised in intact families by at least $42,000.”
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New data shows America's use of opioids hasn't declined.
New federal data released Wednesday reveals the state of America’s pain killer use.
According to the numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the percentage of adults age 20 and over using prescription pain killers remains significantly higher than in the past, with people also taking stronger painkillers than before. Between 2011–2012, nearly 7% of adults reported using a prescription opioid analgesic in the past 30 days, compared to 5% in 2003-2006.
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Only 20 percent of disabled people work, compared to 68 percent of those who aren't disabled, according to September 2014 numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
[Valeria] Jensen saved the playhouse from demolition and founded the four-theater commercial movie house, a nonprofit, in historic Ridgefield. Most of the more than 80 theater employees are disabled. But they weren't there just because they have a disability, Jensen said.
"They're here because they are a really, really valuable employee," she said.
"We are 'The Prospector' after all," she noted. "And as prospectors I work with my prospects to find out what their sparkle is."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Charities/Non-Profit Organizations Health & Medicine Movies & Television Rural/Town Life * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Is a robot uprising coming in 2015?
Maybe – but only to show you up at the arcade.
Led by researchers Demis Hassabis and Volodymyr Mnih, Google-owned DeepMind Technologies has created an artificial intelligence capable of playing simple video games with minimal training. They described their breakthrough today in Nature.
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“When I got into the field, the notion that you could actually do something about the aging process was viewed as a crackpot idea,” says Richard Miller, director of the Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging at the University of Michigan. “The argument that one can slow aging, and diseases of aging along with it, used to be fantasy, but now we see it like a scientific strategy.”
Nobody is talking about living forever. But as these experts see it, aging is the single most powerful factor in the diseases that are most likely to cut our lives short: cancer, heart problems, immune disorders and degenerative brain conditions like Alzheimer’s. “Everybody knows that the main risk factors for heart disease are high cholesterol, obesity and high blood pressure,” says Dr. Felipe Sierra, director of the division of aging biology at the National Institute on Aging (NIA). “But even stronger than those factors is just being 70 years old.”
And that’s why staving off aging–or at least slowing it–has become such a central focus of research. “We’re going at aging itself,” says David Sinclair, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School. “We might take someone who is showing signs of aging and be able to do something about it, to treat that as a disease. That’s something I didn’t expect to be seeing in my lifetime.”
Read it all.
At the U.S. Supreme Court, you know that it's going to be a hot argument when the usually straight-faced Justice Samuel Alito begins a question this way: "Let's say four people show up for a job interview ... this is going to sound like a joke, but it's not."
The issue before the court on Wednesday was whether retailer Abercrombie & Fitch violated the federal law banning religious discrimination when it rejected a highly rated job applicant because she wore a Muslim headscarf.
Alito's hypothetical continued this way: The first of the four applicants to show up at Abercrombie is a Sikh man wearing a turban; the second is a Hasidic man wearing a hat; the third is a Muslim woman wearing a hijab; the fourth is a Catholic nun in a habit. Now, Alito asked Abercrombie's lawyer: "Do you think that those people have to say, we just want to tell you, we're dressed this way for a religious reason? We're not just trying to make a fashion statement." Or, might we reasonably conclude that Abercrombie knows why they are dressed that way?
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Thirty-seven percent of Americans are satisfied and 61% dissatisfied with the position of the U.S. in the world today. These views are unchanged from last year, even after a series of significant challenges for U.S. foreign policy. Americans' satisfaction is a bit higher than at the end of the Bush administration and at the beginning of the Obama administration, but remains well below where it was in the early 2000s.
The results are from Gallup's annual World Affairs survey, conducted Feb. 8-11. Americans' satisfaction held steady in the past year, even as the U.S. was forced to deal with the rise of Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria, a dispute with Russia over Ukrainian separatists in the eastern part of Ukraine, heightened tensions between the Israelis and Palestinians, and ongoing policy disagreements involving North Korea and Iran. The lack of change may be attributable to Americans' already high level of dissatisfaction with the nation's world position, with those events and the way the U.S. handled them serving to reinforce the dissatisfaction rather than to worsen or even improve it.
Americans have been more likely to be dissatisfied than satisfied with the position of the U.S. in the world since 2004, about the time it became clear that the U.S. military action in Iraq was running into problems that could -- and did -- lead to a prolonged U.S. commitment there. Satisfaction fell to a low of 30% in the final year of George W. Bush's administration and remained low in the very early stages of Barack Obama's presidency. Americans' satisfaction is modestly higher now than at that point, but has leveled off.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Psychology Sociology * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Economy The U.S. Government Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
[Elon] Musk, [Bill] Gates and [Stephen] Hawking made headlines by speaking to the dangers that A.I. may pose. Their points are important, but I fear were largely misunderstood by many readers. Relying on efforts to program A.I. not to “harm humans” (inspired by on Isaac Asimov’s “three laws” of robotics from 1942) makes sense only when an A.I. knows what humans are and what harming them might mean. There are many ways that an A.I. might harm us that that have nothing to do with its malevolence toward us, and chief among these is exactly following our well-meaning instructions to an idiotic and catastrophic extreme. Instead of mechanical failure or a transgression of moral code, the A.I. may pose an existential risk because it is both powerfully intelligent and disinterested in humans. To the extent that we recognize A.I. by its anthropomorphic qualities, or presume its preoccupation with us, we are vulnerable to those eventualities.
Read it carefully and read it all (emphasis mine).
Samantha Elauf was apprehensive to interview for a sales job at retailer Abercrombie & Fitch in 2008 because the 17 year old wore a headscarf in accordance with her Muslim faith. But a friend of hers, who worked at the store, said he didn't think it would be a problem as long as the headscarf wasn't black because the store doesn't sell black clothes.
Ultimately Elauf failed to get the job, and her story has triggered a religious freedom debate regarding when an employer can be held liable under civil rights laws . The Supreme Court will hear the case on Wednesday.
Like many retailers Abercrombie has a "look policy" aimed to promote what it calls its "classic East Coast collegiate style of clothing."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The number of words we can’t use without offending is ever growing, and if the supporters of the right-to-die movement have their way, it will stretch yet again to include the word “suicide.” At least when that suicide is the result of a dying patient taking a lethal dose of drugs to avoid impending mental and physical anguish.
It’s insensitive at best to use the “S” word in this context, I’ve been informed by several advocates, because people would not be choosing this option because of a psychiatric disorder or despair over life. They don’t want to die; their diseases have forced that on them. Senate Bill 128, legislation recently introduced in California to allow physicians to write lethal prescriptions under tightly controlled circumstances, not only refrains from calling this suicide but would not allow death certificates to reflect how the death occurred.
“The cause of death listed on an individual’s death certificate who uses aid-in-dying medication shall be the underlying terminal illness,” it reads.
In other words, it wouldn't mention the legal drugs that actually caused the death. The public should have a problem with that.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Church of England has defended its stance on the Living Wage after it was revealed that cathedrals and churches were hiring staff on salaries below the benchmark.
An investigation by The Sun found that Canterbury Cathedral was advertising for porters and kiosk assistants on salaries between £6.70 and £7.75 an hour. The Living Wage (outside London) is currently set at £7.85.
Lichfield Cathedral was also revealed to be hiring waiting staff on £6.50 an hour, which is the national minimum wage.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Politics in General * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
"The Pastoral letter from the House of Bishops was addressed to churches and encouraged them to implement the living wage. The Living Wage Commission, chaired by the Archbishop of York, recognised in its report last year, that a phased implementation may be necessary in some businesses and organisations. It welcomed employers seeking to implement the pay level progressively. What is important is that those who can, do so, as soon as is practically possible. The vast majority of those employed by or sub-contracted to the Church's central institutions are already paid at least the Living Wage and all will be by April 2017...."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
If very few of the sexual acts of today’s identity politics are procreative, that has certainly not inhibited their proponents’ impressive ability to give birth to endless categories of sexual preference. This is the result of more than a mere lack of conceptual contraception. It also indicates the loss of any sense that sex in itself might carry some kind of larger moral significance. Indeed, the plethora of sexual identities now available witness to the fact that there is no longer any basis for rejecting any kind of sexual act, considered in itself, as intrinsically wrong. The multiplication of such categories is part of rendering sex amoral: When everything is legitimate, then nothing has particular moral significance.
This endless expansion of sexual categories is a necessary consequence of what is now the fundamental tenet of modern sexual politics, and perhaps a key element of modern politics in general: That a person’s attitude to sex is the primary criterion for assessing their moral standing in the public square. If you say that sex has intrinsic moral significance, then you set it within a larger moral framework and set limits to the legitimate use of sex. In doing so, you declare certain sexual acts illegitimate, something which is now considered hate speech. This constant coining of new categories of sexual identity serves both to demonstrate this and to facilitate its policing.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Education Psychology Sexuality Young Adults * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Elder care is also often done for low wages by new or undocumented immigrants. Will that change?
Manufacturing in the ’20s and ’30s was sweatshop work, largely done by new immigrants. We turned factory work into good jobs with pathways to opportunities. That professionalization was the basis for 20th century prosperity. That’s what the care workforce needs to be. These have the potential to be really good jobs.
You compare investing in home-care workers to investing in railways or the Internet. But aren’t those about growth, not dying?
For working-age adults right now, especially with what they call the sandwich generation–people who are caring for children and aging parents–this is having an impact on their productivity.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Children Health & Medicine Marriage & Family Middle Age Psychology * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
What do all these words read this day and resonating in my ears have to do with my observance of holy Lent? This I believe:
• If grace-filled obedience not self-imposed deprivation is the pathway to God’s blessing shouldn’t one’s Lenten discipline focus on this?
• If God’s call, not the driven life, is for each of us our apostolic mission shouldn’t that be the place out of which we live our lives and do our work and ministry?
• If we are dust and to dust we shall return (as the words of the Ash Wednesday liturgy reminds us) why am I, and so many of us, in such a hurry?
Then there was this word that came like a lightning bolt across my mind illuminating my whole being: “… you think you have to be some place elsewhere or accomplish something more to find peace. But it is right here. God has yet to bless anyone except where they actually are.” Once again this was a word spoken years ago by Dr. Dallas Willard to John Ortberg’s striving and spiritually dry soul; I noted these words in my journal and then wrote this confession: I repent of this, Lord. I renounce the life tape that has played within me for years that makes peace something relegated to some place “where” or some time “when” and other than here and now in You.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Lent Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Theology Anthropology Christology Pastoral Theology Soteriology
A couple of days ago, a senior African cleric was holding forth on the need to combine religious instruction with, in the broadest sense, sex education. Both at home and at school, declared Archbishop Henri Isingoma, boys must be taught about the higher purpose of sex as "the way God wanted to make the human race continue". Another acute problem, he added, was "ignorance of the responsibilities of men towards women." He was speaking in a webinar organised by a department of the global Anglican church, drawing in clergy and church workers from their own and other Christian confessions.
So...was this one more depressing display of the giant cultural gap between the liberal north and the traditional south, especially over sexuality, which is tearing apart the 80m-strong Anglican Communion, and many other religious bodies?
No, it was nothing of the kind, and that's what made the discussion more worthwhile. The topic was "gender-based violence" which is a catchall term that describes both domestic cruelty and the still-greater horrors that take place on battlefields when soldiers run amok and commit rape. Victims of GBV are mainly female, but they also include men and boys. And the striking thing was that on this exceptionally grave subject, "conservatives" and "liberals" plainly find it useful to talk and cooperate, and the talk goes well beyond platitudes.
Mara Luz, an Anglican church worker from Brazil, said 40% of women in her country experienced some kind of violence; there were well-written laws, but implementation was very poor, especially in remote areas.
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You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.
Filed under: * By Kendall Sermons & Teachings * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Theology Anthropology Christology Soteriology Theology: Scripture
“Luther says we live in and through our neighbor,” Duran explains. “Most of our congregations were planted for the neighborhood.” But when neighborhoods changed, congregations often resisted transformation. Members began commuting to attend church. Then, Duran said, “the neighbors became the object of the church’s ministry rather than the subject.” Duran wants the neighbors to be the subject again.
The church’s strategy is to “shut up and learn”—to listen and reconnect with diverse neighborhoods, including the working poor and young adults who grew up in the suburbs but are now relocating in cities. “There are so many people in our neighborhoods who are doing God’s work,” Duran said, “but they just don’t know it yet.”
The ELCA has set up a process by which men and women who have the gifts and skills for ministry but who haven’t attended seminary can be full-time pastors—“lay mission developers”—serving with the blessing of the community and the bishop.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Rural/Town Life Urban/City Life and Issues * Economics, Politics Economy * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Our world-wide flight from family constitutes a significant international victory for self-actualization over self-sacrifice, and might even be said to mark a new chapter in humanity’s conscious pursuit of happiness. But these voluntary changes also have unintended consequences. The deleterious impact on the hardly inconsequential numbers of children disadvantaged by the flight from the family is already plain enough. So too the damaging role of divorce and out-of-wedlock childbearing in exacerbating income disparities and wealth gaps—for society as a whole, but especially for children. Yes, children are resilient and all that. But the flight from family most assuredly comes at the expense of the vulnerable young.
That same flight also has unforgiving implications for the vulnerable old. With America’s baby boomers reaching retirement, and a world-wide “gray wave” around the corner, we are about to learn the meaning of those implications firsthand.
In the decades ahead, ever more care and support for seniors will be required, especially for the growing contingent among the elderly who will be victims of dementia, or are childless and socially isolated. Remember, a longevity revolution is also under way. Yet by some cruel cosmic irony, family structures and family members will be less capable, and perhaps also less willing, to provide that care and support than ever before.
Read it all (my emphasis).
Walker Percy gives fictional life to our contemporary hell ruled by the Prince of this world in both its bestial and angelic expressions. He reveals that we are already inhabiting a city of the dead populated by the corpses of souls. Percy warns against slothfully resigning ourselves to existence in this earthly hell, even though we know that it will eventually work its own self-destruction.
Yet he also cautions against our rising up in wrath against these demonic forces, lest we remake ourselves in their image by returning evil for evil. This more excellent way lies in the formation of true selves in the Body of Christ, not in the redemption of solitary souls through an invisible spiritual inwardness. The more abundant life is found, instead, in the sacramental and communal life of the Church.
Read it all.
“Fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay down his arms.”
Good morning. I’ve been re-reading Peter Ackroyd’s Life of Thomas More recently, prompted to do so by watching Wolf Hall. More’s characterisation in Wolf Hall seemed to drain him of his well attested sense of humour. It puzzled me. Ackroyd has reminded me of More’s wit. Sometimes it’s assumed that no seriously religious person will have a sense of humour at all. ‘Where are the jokes in the gospels?’ I was once asked.
That Jesus had a sense of humour became evident to me once I began to preach. In the Church of England scripture readings are set for every day. One of the many purposes of what’s called the Lectionary is to stop clergy just using their favourite bits of the Bible....
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Employees are literally losing sleep as restaurants, retailers and many other businesses shrink the intervals between shifts and rely on smaller, leaner staffs to shave costs. These scheduling practices can take a toll on employees who have to squeeze commuting, family duties and sleep into fewer hours between shifts. The growing practice of the same workers closing the doors at night and returning to open them in the morning even has its own name: “clopening.”
“It’s very difficult for people to work these schedules, especially if they have other responsibilities,” said Susan J. Lambert, an expert on work-life issues and a professor of organizational theory at the University of Chicago. “This particular form of scheduling — not enough rest time between shifts — is particularly harmful.”
The United States decades ago moved away from the standard 9-to-5 job as the manufacturing economy gave way to one dominated by the service sector. And as businesses strive to serve consumers better by staying open late or round the clock, they are demanding more flexibility from employees in scheduling their hours, often assigning them to ever-changing shifts.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine History Prison/Prison Ministry Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The language of the common good, like the language of property which exemplifies it, is Janus-faced. Looking back it points to a concrete givenness of community, a present and existing form within which we have been given to communicate with others, and which we cannot ignore without great blame. Looking forward, it can invite us to think of a City of God, a sphere of universal community, and encourage us to seek intimations of it from the future. But only so far can it take us. It cannot ease us through the portals of the City of God up the steps of a ladder of dialectical reconciliations.
To the extent that it can open the imagination to be receptive to a further future, it can serve us. But what will take possession of the open imagination? A word of promise from the self-revealing God of the future, to be grasped by faith and hope? Or seven devils worse than those of the past that have been cast out? Nothing in the idea of the common good itself can answer that question for us. Nothing can spare us the task of discerning the prophets.
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Through marriage, it became clear, Mr. Callis had undergone the type of indelible change in a soul that no personal injury or earthly event can undo. “Having someone believe in me and waiting for me back home, that is what gives me purpose. I am more than myself because of our marriage,” he said, expressing his hope that people not give up on marriage even when the sparks of romance seem distant.
All this brought to mind the words of the German Lutheran pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, when he wrote from a Nazi prison to his niece before her wedding: “Marriage is more than your love for each other. . . . In your love you see only the heaven of your own happiness, but in marriage you are placed in a post of responsibility toward the world and mankind. Your love is your own private possession, but marriage is more than something personal—it is a status, an office.”
The story of Ford and Daisy generated lots of discussion on hospital rounds that day. Theirs was not a tale of military or medical rescue, as exciting and perhaps technically interesting as those were. It was one of marital rescue. This covenant has liberated their souls and given them a higher purpose. Each of us that day, married or not, caught a glimpse of where our true north lies and a reminder of when we are at our best—in serving another.
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In promoting the homosexualist agenda, activists and their allies have argued with the ferocity and absolutism of sturmtruppen that those who have homosexual and lesbian attraction are “born that way,” and that, in all cases, such attraction is immutable. They will often compare homosexual attraction to skin color. Therefore, any antipathy towards those who experience homosexual or lesbian attraction is akin to racism. Thus, moral disapproval by Christians or others of homosexual and lesbian activities and relationships is tantamount to hatred for those persons who have same-sex attractions. Even my occasional blogs about the homosexualists and their agenda always draws the greatest number of comments opposing my views. It has even penetrated deeply into our culture. For example, in the current season of Downton Abbey, set in bucolic Yorkshire during the mid-1920s, the footman Barrow is told by the local village physician that any effort to change his homosexuality is futile. Building on the physician’s remark, today’s activists argue that because homosexuality is 100 percent immutable and heritable (though the search for the homosexual gene has proved elusive even after the entire human genome has long been mapped). Accordingly, any effort to help homosexuals or lesbians change their orientation, or to diminish the attraction for same-sex individuals, or to fail to affirm such attraction, is not only cruel and futile, but also harmful.
But could this truly be so? Is one born homosexual or lesbian? Well, to answer that question, rather than focus on my views and/or the views of conservative Christian academics and researchers, it is important to observe that such claims are rejected by many serious “LGBTQ” academicians and thinkers. The always interesting and deeply thoughtful author, feminist scholar, and lesbian Camille Paglia, writes in her book Vamps & Tramps:
Is gay identity so fragile that it cannot bear the thought that some people may not wish to be gay? The difficulties in changing sexual orientation do not spring from its genetic innateness. Sexuality is highly fluid, and reversals are theoretically possible. However, habit is refractory, once the sensory pathways have been blazed and deepened by repetition….[H]elping gays learn how to function heterosexually if they so wish, is a perfectly worthy aim. We should be honest enough to consider whether homosexuality may not indeed be a pausing at the prepubescent stage when children anxiously band together by gender.Emphasis added. Building on Ms. Paglia’s point, a number of studies have indicated that today’s teens will often identify themselves as “gay” or “queer,” but the overwhelming majority will no longer consider themselves to be so by their early 20s.
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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
As New York lawmakers began to consider a bill to legalize physician-assisted suicide, the New York State Catholic Conference launched a new website "to offer Catholics moral clarity and guidance on the church's teachings regarding end-of-life decision-making."
"Talking about death and dying can be difficult and uncomfortable, yet perhaps no conversations are more profound or necessary for all of us," says the "About" section of the site. "The fact is that most of us will face challenging decisions regarding treatment and care at the end of life, either for ourselves or our family members."
Developed with a grant from Our Sunday Visitor, the site provides links to resources, church teaching, advance directives and a variety of Catholic sources all across the country.
The Catholic church teaches that physician-assisted suicide is immoral and unethical.
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ithin the narrow bounds of its theology, the Islamic State hums with energy, even creativity. Outside those bounds, it could hardly be more arid and silent: a vision of life as obedience, order, and destiny. Musa Cerantonio and Anjem Choudary could mentally shift from contemplating mass death and eternal torture to discussing the virtues of Vietnamese coffee or treacly pastry, with apparent delight in each, yet to me it seemed that to embrace their views would be to see all the flavors of this world grow insipid compared with the vivid grotesqueries of the hereafter.
I could enjoy their company, as a guilty intellectual exercise, up to a point. In reviewing Mein Kampf in March 1940, George Orwell confessed that he had “never been able to dislike Hitler”; something about the man projected an underdog quality, even when his goals were cowardly or loathsome. “If he were killing a mouse he would know how to make it seem like a dragon.” The Islamic State’s partisans have much the same allure. They believe that they are personally involved in struggles beyond their own lives, and that merely to be swept up in the drama, on the side of righteousness, is a privilege and a pleasure—especially when it is also a burden.
Fascism, Orwell continued, is
psychologically far sounder than any hedonistic conception of life … Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people “I offer you a good time,” Hitler has said to them, “I offer you struggle, danger, and death,” and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet … We ought not to underrate its emotional appeal.Read it all.
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When I dive into time coaching clients’ schedules, I consistently discover that people misdiagnose themselves as having a “productivity” problem when, in fact, their bigger issue is an overcommitment problem. When they have committed to more external projects and personal goals and obligations than they have hours for in the day, they feel the massive weight of time debt. One of my coaching clients suffered from a huge amount of false guilt until he realized he had the unrealistic expectation that he could fit 160 hours of tasks into a 40-hour workweek.
Effective time investment begins with accepting the reality that time is a finite resource. This acknowledgment frees you to make choices about what you will and won’t do so you can invest more in what’s most important, feel good about what you do and don’t get done, and still have disposable time left to relax and enjoy yourself. As one of my time coaching clients put it, “I’ve realized there’s only X amount of time, so I need to invest in my priorities and understand that when I choose one activity, I’m not choosing another.”
The single most important factor in feeling like a time investment success or failure is whether or not your expectations of what you will accomplish align with how much time you have to invest.
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America, please eat more fruits and vegetables.
A new report by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which convenes every five years, says that the rest of the American diet is having devastating effects: about two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese. And maybe worse, about half of American adults - about 117 million people - have preventable chronic diseases related to poor diet and physical inactivity, the group said.
This dismal diagnosis is the foundation for the group’s report, which provides the scientific basis for the nation’s Dietary Guidelines, the advice booklet that will be issued by the federal government late this year.
“I wouldn’t call it gloomy,” said Marian Neuhouser, a committee member from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA. “I call it reality.”
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arriage is in crisis throughout the Western world. The data from the United States alone tell an unmistakable—and unmistakably sad—story. Fifty years ago, some 70 percent of American adults were married; today the figure is just over 50 percent. Then, close to 90 percent of children lived with their natural parents; today fewer than two-thirds do. The birth rate has declined, and the abortion rate has climbed from less than 1 percent of live births to over 20 percent.
Everyone suffers from the current crisis in marriage, but some suffer more than others. A growing class divide is becoming alarmingly clear. College-educated men and women marry and are unlikely to get divorced. The less educated are less likely to marry, and those who do so are three times more likely to get divorced. Rates of illegitimacy are even more striking. A very small percentage of college-educated women have children out of wedlock (6 percent). Nearly half of women without a college education now have children out of wedlock.
In considering the demise of marriage culture and the decline of the institution of marriage, we are profoundly aware of the challenge posed by the Lord, that “whatever you did to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Matt. 25:40). The effects of the decline of marriage on children are dramatic, unequal, and deeply disturbing. Among the well-educated and economically well-off, the traditional family remains the norm. This is no longer true for children born to less educated and less affluent women. By age fourteen, nearly half of these children no longer live with both parents, posing dire consequences for their futures. Young men raised in broken families are more likely to go to prison. Young women in these circumstances are more likely to become pregnant as unwed teenagers. The dramatic decline of marriage is a major factor in the misery of many in our society.
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hina’s economy is slowing. Brazil is struggling as commodity prices plunge. Russia, facing Western sanctions and weak oil revenue, is headed into a recession.
As other big developing markets stumble, India is emerging as one of the few hopes for global growth.
The stock market and rupee are surging. Multinational companies are looking to expand their Indian operations or start new ones. The growth in India’s economy, long a laggard, just matched China’s pace in recent months.
India is riding high on the early success of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a raft of new business-friendly policies instituted in his first eight months.
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Our subject this morning, then, will be, both in the condemnation and in the punishment of every sinner, God will be justified: and he will be made most openly clear, from the two facts of the sinner's own confession, and God himself having been an eye-witness of the deed. And as for the severity of it, there shall be no doubt upon the mind of any man who shall receive it, for God shall prove to him in his own soul, that damnation is nothing more nor less than the legitimate reward of sin.
There are two kinds of condemnation: the one is the condemnation of the elect, which takes place in their hearts and consciences, when they have the sentence of death in themselves, that they should not trust in themselves—a condemnation which is invariably followed by peace with God, because after that there is no further condemnation, for they are then in Christ Jesus, and they walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. The second condemnation is that of the finally impenitent, who, when they die, are most righteously and justly condemned by God for the sins they have committed—a condemnation not followed by pardon, as in the present case, but followed by inevitable damnation from the presence of God. On both these condemnations we will discourse this morning. God is clear when he speaks, and he is just when he condemns, whether it be the condemnation which he passes on Christian hearts, or the condemnation which he pronounces from his throne, when the wicked are dragged before him to receive their final doom.
Read it carefully and read it all.
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Are human beings born good or born with a volcanic anti-God allergy in their hearts? Answering this theological question is one of THE great challenges for Christians as we stand on the brink of a new millennium.
On one side of the divide stands Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778). Men and women “are born free,” he famously said in his Social Contract, yet “everywhere” they are “in chains.” Rousseau believed that we are born good. His explanation for the deep problems in the world? They came to us from outside us. Error and prejudice, murder and treason, were the products of corrupt environments: educational, familial, societal, political, and, yes, ecclesiastical.
Note carefully that the FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM is located outside men and women, and the MEANS of evil developing comes from the outside in. The NATURE of the problem is one of environment and knowledge.
Augustine (354-430) saw things very differently. Describing the decision by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Augustine writes in The City of God: “Our parents fell into open disobedience because they were secretly corrupted; for the evil act had never been done had not an evil will preceded it.” The motive for this evil will was pride. “This is undue exaltation, when the soul abandons Him to whom it ought to cleave as its end, and becomes a kind of end to itself … By craving to be more” we “became less;” and “by aspiring to be self-sufficing,” we “fell away from him who truly suffices” us.
For Augustine, men and women as we find them today are creatures curved in on themselves. We are rebels who, rather than curving up and out in worship to God, instead curved in and down into what Malcolm Muggeridge once termed “the dark little dungeon of our own” egos.
In this view the FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM is located inside men and women, and the means of evil developing comes from the inside out (note Jesus’ reasoning in Mark 7:18-23). The NATURE of the problem is one of the will.
The difference between Augustine and Rousseau could not be more stark. In a Western world permeated by Rousseau, we need the courage to return to the challenge and depth of Augustine’s insight.
To do so makes the good news of the gospel even better. Think of Easter. What is the image which Paul uses to describe what occurs when a man or woman turns to Christ? New Creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)! Jesus rose to transform the entire created order from the inside out, beginning with our evil wills which he replaces with “a new heart…and a new spirit” (Ezekiel 36:26).
--Kendall S. Harmon from a piece in 2007
Ash Wednesday is the holy day on which you are asked to face the facts about yourself. Letting someone smear ashes on your forehead while telling you that you are dirt is a statement that you have seen and accepted the facts about yourself, and know they’re not in your favor. And, though this isn’t as obvious, it is also a declaration of the good news.
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Principally focusing on John 12:32, "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself" (ESV), Bp. Lawrence related how this verse addresses why suffering so often draws people in varying ways to the foot of the cross. He also shared his own personal experience of seeking the Truth as a young man.
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...We are all over stimulated. Blessed Lent, the sad springtime of the Church's year is the time when we support each other as believers in simplifying our lives; removing fuel from the fires of rage and fear; facing a little more of the shadow world within by laying aside some of our usual comforters...
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The idea of national repentance seems at first sight to provide such an edifying contrast to that national self-righteousness of which England is so often accused and with which she entered (or is said to have entered) the last war, that a Christian naturally turns to it with hope. Young Christians especially-last-year undergraduates and first-year curates- are turning to it in large numbers. They are ready to believe that England bears part of the guilt for the present war, and ready to admit their own share in the guilt of England. What that share is, I do not find it easy to determine. Most of these young men were children, and none of them had a vote or the experience which would enable them to use a vote wisely, when England made many of those decisions to which the present disorders could plausibly be traced. Are they, perhaps, repenting what they have in no sense done?
If they are, it might be supposed that their error is very harmless: men fail so often to repent their real sins that the occasional repentance of an imaginary sin might appear almost desirable. But what actually happens (I have watched it happening) to the youthful national penitent is a little more complicated than that. England is not a natural agent, but a civil society. When we speak of England's actions we mean the actions of the British government. The young man who is called upon to repent of England's foreign policy is really being called upon to repent the acts of his neighbor; for a foreign secretary or a cabinet minister is certainly a neighbor. And repentance presupposes condemnation. The first and fatal charm of national repentance is, therefore, the encouragement it gives us to turn from the bitter task of repenting our own sins to the congenial one of bewailing-but, first, of denouncing-the conduct of others.
--C.S. Lewis, "Dangers of national repentance"
Our first parents fell into open disobedience because already they were secretly corrupted; for the evil act had never been done had not an evil will preceded it. And what is the origin of our evil will but pride? For "pride is the beginning of sin." And what is pride but the craving for undue exaltation? And this is undue exaltation, when the soul abandons Him to whom it ought to cleave as its end, and becomes a kind of end to itself. This happens when it becomes its own satisfaction....The devil, then, would not have ensnared man in the open and manifest sin of doing what God had forbidden, had man not already begun to live for himself....By craving to be more, man became less; and by aspiring to be self-sufficing, he fell away from him who truly suffices him.
--Augustine, The City of God 14.13
Treyvon’s case is emblematic of a quiet revolution in juvenile justice sweeping across the country. Driven by the high cost of incarceration and a growing understanding of adolescent behaviors, states and localities are launching initiatives to provide counseling, drug treatment, and other support for young offenders rather than locking them up. The idea is to save money – and try to keep them from committing more crimes by addressing their problems at the roots.
Lucas County, which includes Toledo, is one of the leaders in this movement. Juvenile Court officials here do the “my kid” test with every case. They want to ensure all young people are being treated fairly, and they live by the mantra “The right kid in the right place at the right time” – targeting services to their needs and taking care not to mix children who are unlikely to commit more crimes with high-risk youths.
But they also rely on research instead of just gut instinct. When it comes to deciding whether to lock up arrested youths – while awaiting a hearing or even after they’ve been judged to have done something wrong – they use standardized risk assessments.
As alternatives to lockup, they’ve built a “continuum of care” – various treatment options and levels of court monitoring – so most children can stay connected to family members, school staff, and community groups while reforming their ways.
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Anyone listening to Pope Francis has heard his call to resist unjust social conditions and go to the margins: to the poor, weak, and defenseless in our “throwaway culture” marked by a “globalization of indifference.”
At the margins, I see twelve-year-old John fighting an addiction he did not seek. I see our daughters and sisters and wives viewed as objects for pleasure, victimized, and even trafficked. And I see a predatory porn industry that is nothing short of euphoric over these developments.
“There’s a greater sense of optimism,” a leader in the porn industry was quoted as saying earlier this year. “I believe the companies that have stood the test of time . . . have figured out a way to stay viable. I would say it’s a new era for the industry.”
It is most certainly a new era. The time has come to join our children at the margins and to defund the industries that prey so viciously and unjustly upon them.
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The divorcing couple invited 50 people to the ceremony, which was followed by a wine and cheese reception. They spoke about the hopes they had when they first married and how they still cared for and respected each other. Then they burned a copy of their marriage certificate in a glass bowl using the candle they had lit at their wedding. Guests were invited to contribute a flower to a special “bouquet of love and affection.” At the end of the 45-minute service, the parting couple gave their weddings rings back to each other. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
If the idea of spouses dissolving their marriage in such a loving way sounds radically enlightened, well, even Meighan admits to a twinge of divorce-ceremony envy. When she split from her first husband more than 20 years ago, “there was too much pain” to formally mark their parting, she says. “But when I did that ceremony, I saw what a powerful healing process it could be.”
Forty percent of Canadian marriages end in divorce. Those who go through it commonly describe the experience as one of the most painful of their lives. Yet there are few established rituals that offer the emotional and spiritual closure couples often need. Some argue that marriages start with ceremony and should end the same way — that marking this significant life event can help prevent adversarial and costly court proceedings, reduce the emotional impact on children and allow the couple to move on. Separation rites can also help church communities when they find themselves caught in the middle of a marriage falling apart.
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I know you better than any person on the planet, having now been married to you almost 40 years (June 21), so I say confidently you are the most extraordinary person I’ve ever met.
Of course I know your weaknesses, as you know mine, but they are NOTHING compared to your strengths. Your wisdom, your character, your gifts, and especially your willingness to always face the truth and never stop growing makes me want to be a better man, a better husband, father, and leader.
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According to Christian understanding, in human existence, the personal is also capable of bearing the tragic, ground that is foreign to Modernity, its eradication being the goal of every Modern project. Boundaries are tragic for the ego – they say “no” to its unfettered demands. The “tragic” is viewed as any undesirable event or result in Modernity. It is viewed as suffering and is to be avoided, controlled and minimized.
Classical Christianity understands that the Cross is the way of life and that its paradox turns the tragic inside-out. For the Cross is not an unfortunate requirement, something God is forced to do in order to rescue sinful man. The tragedy of the Cross is also the pattern of healing, wholeness, well-being and eternal life. It is the revelation of true personhood.
All of the arguments regarding new definitions of marriage, aggressive reproductive technologies, gender re-definitions, etc., are made within a model that views any and all suffering as both tragic, needless and unacceptable if at all possible of alleviation. Such a line of reasoning was inevitably on a collision course with an ethic originally rooted in the Cross. The Christian view of personhood is an invitation to voluntary suffering and self-sacrifice. Nothing could be less modern.
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Here Bonhoeffer answers a question raised in For the Life of the World: Letters to the Exiles (FLOW), particularly in the episode on “The Economy of Love.” In this episode, we ask “What is saying ‘yes’ to another person really all about?” For Bonhoeffer, saying “yes” to another person is an affirmation of God’s world and his purposes therein.
Bonhoeffer invokes the example of Jeremiah, another inspiration for the theme of exile that permeates FLOW. In Jeremiah 32 we read about how, with the Babylonian exile looming, the prophet buys a plot of land and passes along this promise: “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land.” Marriage is a “yes” to God’s creation, even in the midst of exile, and a “yes” to God’s purposes for the life of the world.
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What’s at stake: Andrew Sullivan’s decision to shut down his blog has sparkled a conversation about the future of blogging. While most authors recognize that the conversational nature of blogs has decreased over the years, there is less agreement on the fundamental cause behind this trend and what this means for the future of blogging.
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I would be the only person she spoke to on the record about what happened to her, she said. It was just too harrowing — and “as a publicist,” inadvisable — but she felt it was necessary, to show how “crazy” her situation was, how her punishment simply didn’t fit the crime.
“I cried out my body weight in the first 24 hours,” she told me. “It was incredibly traumatic. You don’t sleep. You wake up in the middle of the night forgetting where you are.” She released an apology statement and cut short her vacation. Workers were threatening to strike at the hotels she had booked if she showed up. She was told no one could guarantee her safety.
Her extended family in South Africa were African National Congress supporters — the party of Nelson Mandela. They were longtime activists for racial equality. When Justine arrived at the family home from the airport, one of the first things her aunt said to her was: “This is not what our family stands for. And now, by association, you’ve almost tarnished the family.”
As she told me this, Sacco started to cry. I sat looking at her for a moment. Then I tried to improve the mood. I told her that “sometimes, things need to reach a brutal nadir before people see sense.”
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Following massive crop failure in most parts of Kirinyaga County due to inadequate short rains late last year, the Anglican Church is buying rice to mitigate the looming famine.
Diocesan Bishop Joseph Kibucwa said the church has so far spent Sh1 million in buying paddy rice from farmers at the Mwea Irrigation Scheme. The cleric said although the programme was started a bit late when the harvesting season was almost ending, the church has managed to secure some reasonable amount of the grain. ''We took some time studying the situation before arriving at this decision to buy the paddy rice and have it stored for use when the looming famine finally starts to bite our people,'' Kibucwa said.
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The United Methodist Church could have openly gay clergy and clergy could officiate at same-sex marriages if a proposal affirmed by a denomination-wide leadership body prevails.
The Connectional Table plans to draft legislation that members hope can be “a third way” in church’s long debate over homosexuality.
The body on Feb. 10 overwhelmingly affirmed a proposal to remove prohibitive language that makes it a chargeable offense under church law for clergy to be “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” or to officiate at same-sex weddings.
The action was not a formal vote, but the reported results of two hours of small-group discussions. The Connectional Table will take up proposed legislative language for an actual vote when it meets in May in Nashville, Tennessee.
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With a history of sherries at church coffee hour and wine during Holy Communion, Episcopalians have long endured — and shared — jokes about their drinking. (For example: “wherever two or three are gathered, there’s a fifth.”) Yet the relationship is complicated.
The denomination stood out a century ago for saying alcoholism wasn’t an evil. And Episcopal clergy played a significant role in the creation of Alcoholics Anonymous.
So perhaps it was surprising that this week a top church leader said the case of Heather Cook — the Maryland bishop now accused of killing a cyclist while driving drunk — revealed Episcopalians’ “systemic denial about alcohol and other drug abuse.” Leaders will review church policies on drug and alcohol abuse for the first time in 30 years when they have their once-every-three-years meeting this summer.
One bishop is already proposing not drinking at the major gathering, and parishes are launching special worship services for people in recovery. Yet the Episcopal Church’s unusual history regarding drinking adds to the complexity of dealing with the issue.
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The Church of England is to change its laws to allow people who commit suicide, whatever the circumstances, to be buried or cremated according to its funeral rites.
Currently, Church of England clergy are not allowed to conduct the funeral of a person who takes their own life while deemed to be "of sound mind".
Canon Michael Parsons of the Gloucester diocese told the General Synod meeting in Church House, Westminster: "This is widely disregarded by most clergy and even more widely unknown."
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General Convention 2009 began to undermine the authority of the BCP when it authorized its Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to develop “theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same gender relationships” (Res. 2009C056; emphasis added)—all the while pretending that no changes were being made to traditional marriage as celebrated in the BCP. In response to its work, General Convention 2012 commended . . . for study and use in congregations and dioceses” certain rites for the “Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant in a same-sex relationship” (Res. 2012A049; emphasis added).
Do you see the subtle word games going on to this point? God forfend that General Convention should be doing anything to alter marriage as such; all it is purporting to do is to develop some experimental liturgical rites to celebrate “same-sex relationships”.
But now look at what has happened. The General Convention’s Task Force on the Study of Marriage has proposed to revise Canon I.18 (“On Marriage”). I’m not going to reproduce all of the proposed changes here; you can see them for yourself, at pp. 4-6 of the document at the link just given. Just notice, if you will, that as the title goes, so goes the Canon—the title is changed from “Of the Solemnization of Holy Matrimony” to “Of the Celebration and Blessing of Marriage.” The words “Holy Matrimony” are removed from Sections 1, 2 and 3, so that the Canon (if amended) will speak only to “marriage” as such; and no longer to what is defined by the Book of Common Prayer as “the union of a man and a woman.”
And what is the significance of that change? Seemingly it is rather subtle on the surface, but beneath the surface it runs very deep, into the heart of the Church....
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One of my spiritual mentors, Marlene Talley, held the secret. More than 25 years ago when she observed my tendency to speak without much forethought, she cautioned, "Stop, think and pray before you speak."
When we stop, think and pray before we speak, we find ourselves blessing rather than blasting others, exhibiting patience rather than pushiness, sharing good rather than gossip and choosing caring rather than cutting words.
Otherwise, we find our tongue in drive while our brain is in neutral. It is then that our words become verbal shrapnel that lodges in another person's emotions with disastrous results.
Here's what I have concluded. Words are verbalized thoughts that emanate from our hearts. If we turn to Scripture and use Philippians 4:8 as our thought sifter, our communication will always go from negative to positive....
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At its heart this book, Gay and Catholic: Accepting My Sexuality, Finding Community, Living My Faith, is an extended effort to assure gay and lesbian people that entering the church will not mean the suppression of their longings and loves. It will, Tushnet promises, mean that those loves will be changed, reshaped, or reconfigured. But it won’t mean that they’ll simply be erased. Borrowing the historic language of vocations, she speaks of “figuring out how God is calling me to love and then pouring myself out into that love.” If gay people fear that becoming a Christian equals a one-way ticket to lifelong loneliness, Tushnet’s book is one long argument to the contrary.
The book has an uncluttered structure. Following several chapters that narrate her upbringing, including her coming out at age 13, her days as a student activist, and her eventual conversion to Catholicism while an undergraduate at Yale, Tushnet simply examines several possible ways that gay Catholics may give and receive love while remaining faithful to traditional Christian sexual ethics. There’s a chapter on friendship—not the anemic variety we now associate with Facebook verbs (“friending” and “unfriending”), but the vowed, lifelong kind associated with the church fathers and saints like Francis of Assisi and Clare, his spiritual sister. There are chapters on intentional community and parish life. There are explorations of service (Tushnet herself volunteers at a crisis pregnancy center, where she speaks of how her “connection to other women does have an adoring and erotic component, and [how she] wanted to find a way to express that connection through works of mercy”). And there are discussions of possible roadblocks gay Catholics may encounter in their search for loving community.
This book articulates, better than anything I’ve been able to find, the real yearnings, fears, and questions of gay Catholics (and other traditionalist Christians). But more than that, it also portrays, in vivid and personal terms, the hope of the church—the hope of the gospel that speaks to those desires and fears and beckons us on, to a brighter future in the household of God. I recommend it wholeheartedly, without reservation, as the best book of its kind.
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As we ponder this momentous ruling of our nation’s highest court, let us pray that the gifts of the Holy Spirit will guide all of us in our response: Above all, that the gifts of wisdom, right judgment and courage will flourish among us.
Moreover, we cannot fail to proclaim the gospel of life with both vigor and joy: that every life has an inherent God-given dignity from the moment of conception until life’s natural end. And let the words of St. Paul we heard in today’s second reading ring out in our minds and hearts: “If I proclaim the Gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the Gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16).
The mission ahead of us is not committed only to a few. Rather, it is mine; it is yours; it is ours.
With God’s help, which he offers in this Eucharist, may we fulfill this obligation to proclaim the Gospel for the welfare of all our brothers and sisters.
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The recent ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada, striking down the long held ban on physician-assisted dying is cause for celebration among many Canadians and cause for great concern among many others.
For those who have long advocated for a person’s right, in the face of immense and intolerable suffering, to end their life with medical assistance the ruling is a victory. For those who hold to the conviction that our life is something larger than any individual person’s “ownership” of it, and is not simply ours to “discard” the ruling is deeply troubling.
Whatever one’s perspective, serious attention needs to be given to the court ruling’s intent and application. While enabling legislation may not be imminent, we know consideration of any new laws will be a matter of intense public interest and debate within Canadian society at large, within the country’s medical community, and certainly within and among the churches, including ours.
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One might wish that the leadership of the Episcopal Church would come to grips with reality. The people of the Diocese of South Carolina voted by an overwhelming majority to leave the Episcopal Church. Any church bureaucracy that would try to force its will on a Diocese where the majority of people have said they no longer want to be affiliated is manifestly evil. They are just trying to suck the life out of the Diocese of South Carolina (and the other dioceses they are suing) by bleeding them dry through lawsuits. (That's just my opinion, of course. But this kind of continued pernicious evil from the Episcopal Church's leadership has been going on long enough that it just makes you wonder what it will take to finally drive a stake through the vampire's heart.)
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In 2015, 34% of Americans say they are satisfied with current U.S. abortion policies. This is the lowest percentage since Gallup first asked the question in 2001.
In three of four years since 2012, less than 40% of Americans have been satisfied. Yet between 2001 and 2008, at least 40% were satisfied every year. Gallup asks Americans about their satisfaction with the nation's policies regarding abortion as part of the annual Mood of the Nation Poll, conducted in January. The poll was not conducted from 2009-2011. Between 2001 and 2008, an average of 43% of Americans were satisfied with U.S. abortion policies; since 2012, the average has been 39%.
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When I asked Rick Doblin if he worries about another backlash, he suggested that the culture has made much progress since the nineteen-sixties. “That was a very different time,” he said. “People wouldn’t even talk about cancer or death then. Women were tranquillized to give birth; men weren’t allowed in the delivery room. Yoga and meditation were totally weird. Now mindfulness is mainstream and everyone does yoga, and there are birthing centers and hospices all over. We’ve integrated all these things into our culture. And now I think we’re ready to integrate psychedelics.” He also points out that many of the people in charge of our institutions today have personal experience with psychedelics and so feel less threatened by them.
Bossis would like to believe in Doblin’s sunny forecast, and he hopes that “the legacy of this work” will be the routine use of psychedelics in palliative care. But he also thinks that the medical use of psychedelics could easily run into resistance. “This culture has a fear of death, a fear of transcendence, and a fear of the unknown, all of which are embodied in this work.” Psychedelics may be too disruptive for our society and institutions ever to embrace them.
The first time I raised the idea of “the betterment of well people” with Roland Griffiths, he shifted in his chair and chose his words carefully. “Culturally, right now, that’s a dangerous idea to promote,” he said. And yet, as we talked, it became clear that he, too, feels that many of us stand to benefit from these molecules and, even more, from the spiritual experiences they can make available.
“We are all terminal,” Griffiths said. “We’re all dealing with death. This will be far too valuable to limit to sick people.” ♦
Read it all from the New Yorker.
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InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) can set and enforce hiring practices based on its Christian faith, the Six Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Thursday. Grounded heavily in the precedent set by the US Supreme Court’s significant Hosanna-Tabor decision in 2012, the verdict maintains that IVCF could legally fire an employee headed for divorce.
In 2013, Alyce Conlon, a former spiritual director at IVCF, filed a lawsuit challenging her firing. She was put on paid leave in 2011 after informing her supervisor she was considering divorce, and terminated that December for what she alleges was "failing to reconcile her marriage." (Her husband filed for divorce the following month.) Conlon claimed that two of her male colleagues in similar situations had not received the same treatment.
“Because IVCF is a religious organization and Conlon was a ministerial employee, IVCF’s decision to terminate her employment cannot be challenged under federal or state employment discrimination laws,” ruled the court. “It matters not whether the plaintiff is claiming a specific violation under Title VII or any other employment discrimination statute.”
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...Mr McKillop stresses that credit unions are only an alternative to payday lenders, not a competitor. “The model of very short-term lending is not good as a form of financial help. So though many credit unions can make instant loans, they will look at your finances and see if this is a one-off, a way for you to get back on top of your money.”
Last June, Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, launched a scheme to promote credit unions in churches and train volunteers to give financial advice. Martin Groombridge, chief executive of London Capital Credit Union, said it “definitely raised our profile”. Piloted in London and Liverpool, the scheme is set to be introduced around the UK in about a year, potentially marketing credit unions to hundreds of thousands more people.
The Rev Paul Collier, vicar at Copleston church and community centre in Peckham, south London, said debt and payday loans came up as a big concern in his conversations with local organisations, schools and other faith communities. “The older members of our congregation were educated by their parents to avoid debt at all costs, but many have seen their children getting into deep trouble,” he said.
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Loneliness and isolation are England’s most widespread social problems and are common even in affluent middle class areas, according to a survey of vicars.
The number of clergy reporting that social isolation is a major problem in their area has risen by ten per cent in the past three years.
The survey published by the Church Urban Fund and the Church of England showed loneliness was the only issue to be cited by clergy as a significant problem in the majority of wealthier, as well as deprived areas.
Social isolation was listed as a more common problem than unemployment, homelessness and poor housing by the 1,812 clergy who completed the questionnaire.
Read it all from the Telegraph.
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FAW: After deployment in Afghanistan, Navy reservist Witherspoon ended up living with her mother and felt, she says, like “damaged goods.”
WITHERSPOON: How did I become homeless? Like where do I begin to look? How do I pick up these pieces, because at that point I felt broken, like somebody just pushed me down, and I just fell apart.
FAW: Deployed abroad twice, Army reservist Chiquita Pena, whose husband was also abroad, was jobless and needed a place to live with her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Nayeli. Final Salute got her back on her feet.
PENA: We stereotype homelessness with, you know, for lack of a better term, a hobo or bum or someone who’s a wino or drinking on the street. This is the new face of homelessness.
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My true-love hath my heart and I have his, By just exchange one for the other given: I hold his dear, and mine he cannot miss; There never was a better bargain driven.
New hearts for old. What a risk to take. My father had no idea what it would involve or how painful it would be; and it was, he tells me. One thing is sure: without my father’s recent change of heart, he wouldn’t feel any pain now... or ever again. Indeed, if he hadn’t given his heart away to my mother three quarters of a century ago, he wouldn’t feel any pain this coming St Valentine’s Day. (Nor would I ever have felt the sun on my face.)
Not scientifically accurate, perhaps, but universally understood. If you want love, you have to give your love away: no new life in your veins without losing the old. My two favourite carols end with the same message. Offer thy heart to the infant king. Yet what I can I give him – give my heart.
There’s no knowing where it could lead, or what pain it might entail.
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This brings me to a second response to the question, “Have you given up hope?” On the contrary, calling oneself a “celibate gay Christian” may be a way of expressing , not giving up, hope—but expressing it in a way that doesn’t link that hope to orientation change. Claiming the label “celibate gay Christian” means, for me, recognizing my homosexual orientation as a kind of “thorn in the flesh.” When the apostle Paul used that phrase in his correspondence with the Corinthian church, he made clear that his “thorn” was indeed an unwelcome source of pain (2 Corinthians 12:7). But he also made clear that it had become the very occasion for his experience of the power of the risen Christ and, therefore, a paradoxical site of grace (2 Corinthians 12:8). Paul, I think, would have had no qualms about labeling himself a “thorn-pricked Christian”—not because he recognized his thorn as a good thing, in and of itself, but because it had become for him the means by which he encountered the power of Christ. Likewise, living with an unchanged homosexual orientation may be for many of us the means by which we discover new depths of grace, as well as new vocations of service to others .
Commenting on 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and the homosexual partnerships that some of Paul’s readers had been involved in prior to their baptism, J. I. Packer writes about Paul’s gospel :
With some of the Corinthian Christians, Paul was celebrating the moral empowering of the Holy Spirit in heterosexual terms; with others of the Corinthians, today’s homosexuals are called to prove, live out, and celebrate the moral empowering of the Holy Spirit in homosexual terms.
Finding the moral empowering—and the grace and consolation—of the Holy Spirit “in homosexual terms” is, it seems to me, what leads many of us to label ourselves “celibate gay Christians.”
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The case of a high-ranking Episcopal bishop charged with drinking and texting before fatally hitting a bicyclist has raised questions about everything from church politics to bike lanes. But no debate about Bishop Heather Cook has been as intense as that about the theology of addiction.
Is it a sin? Does it qualify for forgiveness? Or are addicts blameless victims of disease, inculpable?
And how did these topics impact the leaders of the dioceses of Easton and Maryland — Cook’s last two places of employment — first when she was arrested for drunken driving in 2010, and then last year when she was selected despite that to become Maryland’s first female bishop?
In small church discussion groups, in sermons and on Christian Listservs, the ways Episcopal officials handled Cook have fueled debate about how Christianity really sees addicts.
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Canadian adults in grievous, unending pain have a right to end their life with a doctor’s help, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday.
The unanimous ruling, by establishing that the “sanctity of life” also includes the “passage into death,” extends constitutional rights into a new realm. The courts have used the 1982 Charter of Rights to establish gay marriage and to strike down a federal abortion law. The new ruling will change the way some Canadians are permitted to die.
In a brief, powerful opening paragraph, the court explained why it was creating a new constitutional right to autonomy over one’s death in some circumstances: Those who are severely and irremediably suffering, whether physically or psychologically, “may be condemned to a life of severe and intolerable suffering” by the government’s absolute ban on assisted dying. “A person facing this prospect has two options: she can take her own life prematurely, often by violent or dangerous means, or she can suffer until she dies from natural causes. The choice is cruel.”
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The Church embodies God’s love in two ways: first, when it proclaims the coming of God’s kingdom and the call to repentance this involves and second, equally importantly, when it encourages and supports people as they go through the painful and difficult process of dying to their old selves and adopting a new way of life in obedience to God. So, returning to the debate about sexuality, we see that the Church’s privilege and responsibility is to proclaim the message of the Bible that God has created human beings in his image and likeness as men and women (Genesis 1:27) and that he wills that sex should only take place between men and women in the context of marriage (Genesis 2:24). All other forms of sexual activity, whether heterosexual or homosexual, are explicitly or implicitly viewed as contrary to God’s will and therefore to be avoided by God’s people.
The reason that Sam Allberry’s book is preferable to Alan Wilson’s is that, on the basis of reading the Bible with care and wisdom, Allberry re-affirms this biblical teaching and calls upon the Church to apply it in its teaching and its pastoral care. Wilson, on the other hand, interprets the Bible in a way that distorts the biblical teaching and effectively calls upon the Church to abandon people in their sinfulness by arguing that the Church should accept people’s same-sex activity and even bless it through marriage. This is not loving, because if acted upon, this would cut people off from experiencing God’s re-creative love and participating in his kingdom.
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The best three-month stretch of hiring since 1997 has positioned the U.S. labor market to start delivering stronger wage growth for a wider swath of Americans after more than five years of sluggish recovery from a deep recession.
The economy created more than a million jobs over the past three months, with a steady gain of 257,000 in January and sizable upward revisions to prior months’ figures, the Labor Department said Friday. The hiring spree prompted many previously sidelined American workers to begin the job search, causing the unemployment rate to tick up a tenth of a percentage point to 5.7%.
“The economy seems to be moving full steam ahead,” said Sung Won Sohn, an economist at California State University Channel Islands. Following years of lackluster growth, “I think it’s the beginning of a healthy recovery.”
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David Porter is Director of Reconciliation to the Archbishop of Canterbury
Malcolm Brown is Director of the Mission and Public Affairs Division in the Church of England
Documents from Church of Scotland's Decision to be used.
Listen to it all [Soundcloud] [about 11 minutes long] and see also for background David Porter Lays Out Justin Welby’s Sexual Immorality Plans for the CofE
Interviewer: So I’m here with Malcolm Brown and David Porter and we’re going to talk about the College of Bishops Meeting and what might happen at the College in the week ahead.
Malcolm, how have we got from the Pilling Report to what’s going to be happening at the College of Bishops this week:
Malcolm Brown: Well as you know the Pilling Report actually recommended a process of conversations with facilitators as one of its key recommendations given the intractable nature within the church of some of the questions that it looked at. I think it is common knowledge that the Pilling Report was not, or the Pilling Group, wasn’t unanimous - there was a minority report from one of the bishops, but I think the mood of the whole group, including the bishop who wrote the minority report, was that the experience of sitting down together, and it did actually take about two years for the Pilling Group to come to its report, that process had been extremely eye-opening for everybody who was involved.
I think whether it was the right way of doing this or not, the group was brought together as a bunch of bishops and advisers whose views were very much at odds with each other from the start. Now those didn’t coalesce into an agreement or a consensus but what did happen was that each of them heard a lot from why each of them believed what they did. They began to take each other seriously as people journeying in faith, and even though that did not lead them onto the same journey, it led them into a degree of respect for each other they had never really plumbed before. So the recommendation to move to conversations, carefully designed, with facilitation, across the whole church in fact, is an attempt to say that the real fruit of the Pilling Report wasn’t the attempt, doomed attempt perhaps, to come to agreement, it was the fact that we had learnt to respect each other in new ways, and to understand something of why people who disagreed profoundly, believed with such passion the things that they did.
Interviewer: David can you tell us something about the process that the Bishops are going to be engaged in over the next few days?
David Porter: Well quite simply it is what is says on the tin, it is a process of shared conversation. It is about creating space that they can feel a certain amount of confidence and because somebody’s there holding the ring so that all voices will be heard, that people will be able to engage with each other in a respectful way, to come and to talk about the change that we see in the culture around us in relation to questions of human sexuality and the diversity that exists within the church about how we should respond as people of faith to that. And the process that we have designed is aiming to bring the bishops through a series of conversations where they themselves draw on the various resources, materials that have been provided, their own experience, their own knowledge, their own understanding of Scripture, to look at various aspects of this challenge about what actually is going on out there – how are different groups within the church and different perspectives in the church being held and articulated – and then how do they as bishops respond to that, how do they see that impacts on the church’s mission, the church’s self-understanding.
So that’s the nature of the process.
It’s not sitting down talking to text, it’s not talking about the Pilling Report, it’s not necessarily sitting down arguing over the scripture, although I am sure a certain amount of Biblical discourse will take place.
It’s about saying to busy leaders, as with all of the church, Let’s just take a breath, create the space and talk and see how we then can get a greater understanding of what we think our response as a church should be and why we differ on that.
Interviewer: What do you think would be the ideal outcome? You say you have designed, there have been people who have designed the process. What would be the ideal outcome that that process has been designed to elicit?
David Porter: For me the ideal outcome will be that people will be able to articulate with a measure of empathy the views of others that they don’t agree with, that allows them therefore to see in their relationships with them that they also are seeking to be faithful to the Tradition of the Church, the teaching of Scripture and the Calling of Christ - in our Mission to the world. And that we develop that rapport, that capacity to Disagree Well that means that when we get to the process which is beyond the shared conversations when decisions will need to be made, because you can’t leave it in this space forever, the way that we approach the making of those decisions is done in a way that honours the fact that we are Brothers and Sisters in Christ, and that even though we disagree, we are going to do that in a way that reflects that reality as much as the reality of our own convictions on these issues.
Malcolm Brown: There’s also something lurking here that’s about some things that the church is particularly good at or ought to be good at and that’s offering the world in general a different model of how you can conduct rancorous debate, really difficult debate. And a parallel I’ve drawn once or twice is with the very, very different issue of fracking where my department is caught up in that at the moment, and where a senior geophysicist said to me a while ago: ‘there’s almost no space for rational discussion if this. Everything is taken to be pushing you to one pole or the other in the argument.” And that is actually true of so many areas of our public life – that debate isn’t about where can we agree, where to we disagree, it’s about I’m right, you must therefore not just be wrong but Bad. Now I don’t think actually that is how the church through the centuries has conducted itself. We’ve had our differences, sometimes they’ve been quite bitter, but we’ve also had other ways of doing things which reflect more our commitment to the mind of Christ and the way in which Reconciliation between warring factions was somewhere quite central in His ministry. And if we can get this right, and that’s an if, I think we have a gift here that others may want to emulate.
David Porter: And I think that highlights how this is actually different from happened under the Women Bishops Process, because people are saying this is facilitated conversations, and yes the Women Bishops Process was with a goal in mind because the church had expressed its overwhelming mind. It had reached a legislative cul-de-sac and we used facilitated conversation with a goal to move out of that cul-de-sac and get a way forward.
We are using the Process of Conversation, because what that process showed us was that sitting round talking in a different context that isn’t in the debating forum or the legislative forum does change the game. We are using the lesson of that, but not with the same goal in mind. We are not facilitating this towards an outcome. We are facilitating it towards a shaping of the relationship so that when people do get to the point where outcomes are important and important decisions have to be made, this witness to how, is “look how these Christians love one another” because of how they Disagree Well.”
Interviewer: You’ve both been responsible for drawing up some of the materials that will inform the discussions as they go ahead; have you got a word about what people can expect to find there?
Malcolm Brown: First of all I hope that the materials will lead them very gently and carefully through the process that David has outlined so that some of the fears that are not certainly intended to be substantiated are dispelled. There is a lot of anxiety around about what may lie behind these conversations about hidden agendas and things like that. I hope that we’ve unpacked that sufficiently in the light of Pilling indeed to show that that isn’t the case. That this is as David has described it.
So, there is a lot of process, there’s a lot of reassurance I hope, that says that this is what it says it is and it’s not something hidden.
There’s also a certain amount of modestly academic material that we are sharing with participants. This isn’t by way of discussion papers, this isn’t about saying what do you think of this, what do you think of that, but it is so that those who participate will mainly have at least a rudimentary body of shared reading. They will have read the same things we hope, and will therefore at least understand that some of the things they may not have been exposed to before are actually quite serious arguments. So for instance there are some things that the Pilling Report attempted and didn’t do very well, there are other things that Pilling didn’t even attempt.
On Scripture which is very central to all these arguments, Pilling began to open up some of the discussion among scholars, but in the case of the resources for the Conversations we’ve gone to scholars who have a higher standing among Biblical scholars, who I hope are going to be able to present their case in a way that those who disagree with it can at least see the sense of. These are scholars who do not try to overclaim, they are aware of the stronger and the weaker arguments in support of their position but they take very different viewpoints.
We’ve also tried to expand a bit on the international experience of talking about sexuality within the Anglican Communion, and most interestingly we’ve borrowed, with permission, a fascinating paper that was debated at the Church of Scotland General Assembly back in May on how churches through history have dealt with profound disagreement ..
David Porter: and the other material we have provided is some reflection on what a Process of Conversation is about, and the emphasis being that by and large a lot of people will not change their view and their understandings of process of this, but they may change as people and how they hold that view in relation to the Other. And that reflection on what the process emphasises that – emphasises our responsibility to those we disagree with, as brothers and sisters in Christ. It talks about if you do win the argument how do you care for those who are on the other side of that debate. Because this is as important, at how we conduct it is as important, as whatever conclusions we come to. And that is what we are trying to emphasise through the shared conversations. That we need to give attention to this, as much as the issues under discussion.
Interviewer: David Porter Malcolm Brown thank you very much.
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Twitter CEO Dick Costolo is taking personal responsibility for his platform's chronic problems with harassment and abuse, telling employees that he is embarrassed for the company's failures and would soon be taking stronger action to eliminate trolls. He said problems with trolls are driving away the company's users. "We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we've sucked at it for years," Costolo wrote in an internal memo obtained by The Verge. "It's no secret and the rest of the world talks about it every day. We lose core user after core user by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day.
Costolo's comments came in response to a question on an internal forum about a recent story by Lindy West, a frequent target of harassment on Twitter. Among other things, West's tormentors created a Twitter account for her then recently deceased father and made cruel comments about her on the service; West recently shared her story on This American Life and The Guardian.
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With the rise of Tinder, mobile digital dating has become a whole new trend. With this, a slew of mobile dating apps and copycats have rushed to fill the niche.
Online dating is not really something new. Sites like eHarmony and OkCupid have long dominated the market. These sites required users to create elaborate online profiles and used algorithms to suggest matches. All this accoutrements, however, have been transformed by the simplicity of Tinder, reports the New York Times.
The app, available for iOS and Android, enables users to scan potential dates based on photos, distance and a short description. To express interest in a potential date, users just swipe right. It is also a cinch to set up, as it uses one's already established Facebook account.
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More than a year after the suit was filed, Circuit Judge Diane Schafer Goodstein ruled Tuesday in favor of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina and nearly 40 parishes. They were looking to keep the national Episcopal Church and the parishes that remained affiliated with it from taking local church properties, some dating back to 1680, as well as using the diocese’s seal and name.
St. Philip’s Church on Church Street and St. Michael’s Church on Broad Street in downtown Charleston were in question, among other properties.
The group left the national church in October 2012 after it tried to remove the Right Rev. Mark Lawrence as bishop. Disagreements about homosexuality and other “moral issues” also divided the church.
The 14-day trial, which took place in July in a St. George courtroom, included 59 witnesses and more than 1,200 pieces of evidence.
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The choice to respond in faith or not is right through the Bible. The choice of truth and error is right through the Bible. In the Old Testament, the Jewish scriptures, we see above all in the history of Israel and in the teaching of Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 30:11 ff) and all those books that link in closely to that pivotal book of the Old Testament. In Deuteronomy alone the word ‘choose’ comes more than 20 times; it is fundamental to our understanding of what it is to relate to God and to the world.
We are those who have space, who have free will, who have choice – and then bear the consequences.
For these reasons, even more fundamentally than international law, freedom of religion is a fundamental human right – now enshrined in international law – and should be treated as equal, not subordinate, to other human rights. And for those of us who are Christians, let’s just be quite clear that the church, including the Church of England, has a poor record in this as in many other areas, but perhaps in the last 300 years has begun to learn a little of where it went wrong.
Because human beings are in the image of God, our religious beliefs are a core part of what it is to be human. They form us into who we are; they provide foundations for our deepest convictions, and motivations for our sincerest actions.
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Creativity is a basic human function, and a good economy is one that enables creativity to happen. That is why full employment matters, investment in education is essential, skills development is core, and businesses of all kinds should be given the space to develop and create wealth (and to fail), to create employment and prosperity for the society in which they live, it is a God-given call and function.
The market is an extraordinarily efficient mechanism of distribution in a complex society and hugely liberating of human creativity. No better form of allocation of resources has been found, and the alternatives have always led to inhumanity or even tyranny. At the same time the market cannot create or sustain the shared morality needed to ensure that it works carefully and lovingly at every level.
Adam Smith famously spoke with equal conviction of the dangers of market manipulation as he did of the invisible hand. The experience of 2008 shows that the complexity of human motivation and greed can never be left to the market to deal with. There is no such thing as a level playing field if human beings are involved, and there is no such thing as a fully fair and free market. It doesn't exist.
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Episcopal Bishop Heather Cook was indicted Wednesday on 13 charges in the death of a Baltimore bicyclist, including homicide, drunken driving, texting while driving and leaving the scene of an accident.
Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore City state’s attorney, had announced Jan. 9 that her office was charging the 58-year-old cleric from the Diocese of Maryland with killing Thomas Palermo on a Saturday afternoon in December while he was out for a ride.
Prosecutors have said since January that Cook could face more than 20 years in prison.
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There's another reason why the official rate is misleading. Say you're an out-of-work engineer or healthcare worker or construction worker or retail manager: If you perform a minimum of one hour of work in a week and are paid at least $20 -- maybe someone pays you to mow their lawn -- you're not officially counted as unemployed in the much-reported 5.6%. Few Americans know this.
Yet another figure of importance that doesn't get much press: those working part time but wanting full-time work. If you have a degree in chemistry or math and are working 10 hours part time because it is all you can find -- in other words, you are severely underemployed -- the government doesn't count you in the 5.6%. Few Americans know this.
There's no other way to say this. The official unemployment rate, which cruelly overlooks the suffering of the long-term and often permanently unemployed as well as the depressingly underemployed, amounts to a Big Lie.
And it's a lie that has consequences, because the great American dream is to have a good job, and in recent years, America has failed to deliver that dream more than it has at any time in recent memory.
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The key to eternal life could be a procedure to lengthen chromosomes.
The procedure would allow scientists to lengthen telomeres, the protective caps that are on the end of chromosomes and shorten with age.
The telomeres protect chromosomes from getting damage as cells divide and grow. But as they do, they slowly become shorter and eventually are unable to protect the chromosomes. When that happens, they are liable to deteriorate — thought to be a key part of the ageing process.
The new process allows scientists to lengthen the telomeres, effectively turning back the biological clock and making the chromosomes — and the people that are made out of them — younger.
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Bishop Kee Sloan, head of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama, voted in favor of a new ritual of blessing for same-sex unions that the Episcopal Church approved during its 2012 General Convention.
At the time, he said he wouldn't allow blessings of same-sex unions in Alabama churches. It was too divisive and the state wasn't ready, he said. Now, Alabama is ready, he said. "I just needed to wait for the right time," Sloan told AL.com.
"This is not marriage, and has nothing to do with the federal judge in Mobile or the Supreme Court," Sloan said. "This is blessing a same-sex union."
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Denys Munby said to me once, "In Heaven there is no scarcity and in Hell there is no choice." In the created world there are both. The dignity of free will would be meaningless if a choice of one good, such as apples, did not have what the economists call an "opportunity cost" in, say, oranges. If we could have all the apples and oranges we wanted, "living in idleness," as Paul put it, with no "budget constraint," no "scarcity," we would live as overfed pet cats, not as human beings. If we have free will, and therefore necessarily face scarcity, we live truly in the image of God.
Scarcity is necessary for human virtues. Humility, said Aquinas, answers among the Christian virtues to the pagan virtue of great-souledness, or magnanimity, which Aristotle the pagan teacher of aristocrats admired so much. To be humble is to temper one's passions in pursuing, as Aquinas put it, boni ardui - goods difficult of achievement. To be great-souled - which, in turn, is part of the cardinal virtue of courage - is to keep working towards such goods nonetheless. No one would need to be courageous or prudent or great-souled or humble if goods were faciles rather than ardui.
The virtue of temperance, again, is not about mortification of the flesh - not, at any rate, for Christian thinkers like Aquinas (there were others, descendants of the Desert Fathers, who had another idea). On the contrary, this side of Christianity says, we should admire the moderate yet relishing use of a world charged with the grandeur of God.
It is the message of the Aquinian side of Christian thought that we should not withdraw from the world. On the contrary, as Jesus was, we should be truly, and laboriously, and gloriously human.
Read it all From ABC Australia's Religion and Ethics website.
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Like many, I discovered Drucker through his extensive writings in the discipline of management. But as I read his books, I got little hints that he might be something more than a gifted writer of bestselling business books. Though some credit him with the founding of management as an academic field, and most associate him with such books as The Effective Executive (1967) and Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, and Practices (1973), I noticed that his earlier works, from the 1940s and 1950s, had more expansive titles such as The End of Economic Man and The New Society. I also learned that his academic training was not in management but in law; he had obtained his European doctorate in international law. I began to see Drucker as a social and political thinker as well as an astute business mind. This is, after all, the man who viewed management primarily as a liberal art.
Since making that realization, I have studied his earlier books. Drucker thought a lot about such things as totalitarianism, decentralization, limited government, an American type of conservatism that he thought had special characteristics, social harmony, the impact of mass production on human beings, and other topics. One subject that preoccupied him in those earlier decades was the Christian faith. In an attempt to draw more attention to a somewhat forgotten aspect of the man and his work, I will in what follows identify and discuss some of Drucker's key themes regarding the Christian faith in relation to society and government.
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California legislators have introduced assisted suicide legislation modeled on Oregon's assisted suicide law, energized by the heartbreaking story of Brittany Maynard, a young woman with brain cancer, who moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to Oregon to end her own life Nov. 1.
Before her suicide, Maynard, 29, created videos asking for assisted suicide legislation that drew tens of millions of views, and her mother and husband are now campaigning for legalization.
California S.B. 128, as it is called, would allow doctors to prescribe a lethal dose of medication to terminally ill patients who want to commit suicide. Written by Democratic Sens. Bill Monning and Lois Wolk, the bill has sparked strong opposition.
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Through the MPA, the Church of England contributed to this consultation process, affirming the aim of using mitochondrial replacement (or donation as it is also termed) while also differentiating between the two methodologies being proposed; one of which (pronuclear transfer – PNT) required embryos to be created as mitochondrial donors and recipients, the other (maternal spindle transfer) did not. Although the creation of embryos may be licensed by the HFEA, the MPA pointed out that PNT carried greater ethical concerns for many Christians and, indeed, those of other faiths or none.
More significantly, mitochondrial replacement involves modification of the human germ-line, with donor mitochondria being transmitted to future generations through the maternal line. As well as ensuring the techniques were as safe as possible, concerns were expressed that this would not be taken as approval for modifying defective mitochondrial genes that resided in the nucleus. Other concerns had to do with as yet unknown interactions between the DNA in the mitochondria and the DNA in the nucleus; these might potentially cause abnormality or be found to influence significant personal qualities or characteristics.
Such concerns were recognised by the HFEA in its work and recommendations to the secretaries of state.
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The opponents of new technologies are always saying things have been rushed, as they did with fracking last week. It’s the last refuge of the person who wants to oppose something but has seen all his arguments shot down. And the change in the law will not create a free-for-all but merely allow clinicians to apply to the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA) for a licence. So each case will be scrutinised and approved by scientists, lawyers and ethicists, who are more competent to do so than your average MP.
Ever since Baroness Warnock’s pioneering report on embryo research in 1984, Britain has regulated advances in genetics and embryology by having parliament set the overall ethical and social tone, then devolving the detail to the HFEA, an approach that is internationally admired. The church is effectively asking parliament to be a regulator of medical research and practice.
Shockingly, I understand that Doug Turnbull, the Newcastle University scientist leading the mitochondrial research, had not once been invited by the archbishops’ council — which advised the Church of England on this decision — to present his case to them before they issued their fatwa against mitochondrial donation.
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"Changing the human germline represents an ethical watershed; it is right to be cautious, requiring a comprehensive debate and degree of consensus with regard to the ethics, safety and efficacy of these techniques before any change to the current provisions are made.
"We accept in certain circumstances that embryo research is permissible as long as it is undertaken to alleviate human suffering and embryos are treated with respect. We have great sympathy for families affected by mitochondrial disease and are not opposed in principle to mitochondrial replacement.
"A wide number of questions remain to be answered before it would be wise to proceed...."
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Fears about the impact of technology on the labor market are nothing new. In the early nineteenth century, a group of English textile workers known as the Luddites worried that new technologies like power looms and spinning frames would cost them their jobs. They protested by smashing the machines.
Today, anxiety that new technologies could destroy millions of jobs is as high as ever. In the midst of a major employment crisis, technology continues to reduce the labor needed for mass production, while the automation of routine legal and accounting tasks is hollowing out that sector of the job market as well. The science of robotics is revolutionizing manufacturing; every year, an additional 200,000 industrial robots come into use. In 2015, the total is expected to reach 1.5 million. Adapting the labor market to a world of increasingly automated workplaces will be one of the defining challenges of our era.
Yet no country can afford to ignore the transformation. Globally, some 200 million people are unemployed, up 27 million since 2008. There is a critical need to anticipate coming technological changes and provide the global workforce with the education and skills needed to participate in the modern labor market.
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As someone who supports all those other liberal causes, yet opposes physician-assisted suicide, I'd ask my fellow progressives to shine a cold hard light on this issue. We have been the target of a decades-long branding campaign that paints hastening death as an extension of personal freedoms. We should bring the same skepticism to physician-assisted suicide that we do to fracking and genetically modified food.
Groups such as Compassion and Choices, the nonprofit advocacy organization spearheading SB 128 and similar bills elsewhere, masterfully employ Orwellian propaganda techniques: Redefine words to mean what you want them to mean. Repeat key points until they acquire an unquestioned air of truth.
“Suicide” is distasteful, so they promote “physician aid-in-dying,” “death with dignity” and the “right to die.” And yet all of these mean taking action to end one's own life. The news media have largely adopted the assisted suicide movement's terminology, so these euphemisms are worth unpacking here.
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A recent study from Duke University analyzed over 5,200 U.S. children who were born out of wedlock and recommended that unmarried parents marry before a child turns three so they'll create the strongest possible bond. Study author Christina Gibson-Davis writes: "If you think that stable marriage is beneficial for kids, very few kids born out of wedlock are experiencing that." Gibson also found that marriages are more likely to succeed if mothers marry biological fathers rather than a stepfather.
Many experts conclude that cohabitation puts children at risk for instability. As the rate of couples who live together without being married rises radically, children in America are more likely to experience cohabitation than divorce, according to W. Brad Wilcox, Director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia. Wilcox posits that they're also at risk for potential psychological and academic problems, poverty, instability, and child abuse. He writes, "Compared to marriage, cohabitation furnishes less commitment, stability, sexual fidelity, and safety for romantic partners and their children."
Consequently, cohabiting couples are more than twice as likely to breakup and four times as likely to be unfaithful to one another, compared with married couples. A recent study from Drs. Sheela Kennedy and Larry Bumpass found that 65 percent of children born to cohabitating parents saw their parents' breakup by age 12, compared to 24 percent born to married families.
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How can religion help a trained nurse? You have to face life at its times of physical suffering. Sometimes those are the glorious hours of life, and you see it in all its nobility. Sometimes those are the meanest hours of life, and you see it in all its quaking cowardice. According to what you bring to the things which you must see, and try to remedy, you develop a greater faith or a greater fatalism. I am not going to blame you if you are turned to a greater fatalism by some of the things you see, like crass selfishness, and the fear of death. But I am going to say that, if you can find faith yourself, and keep it, and live by it, you will do a far more creative job with your patients, and you will get a lot more out of life.
I face every day something very like what you face. I see and talk with people who are sick in their souls, sick with fear, sick with resentment, sick with futility, sick with dishonesty about themselves. They come to me with problems I cannot solve, as they come to you with sickness you cannot heal. The first thing I have to do is to get their confidence, so that they can tell me the things that are really on their hearts. And often...then I have to reach into my own experience for something like their problem, so that they know I have faced a similar thing. And then I begin telling them what I, and others, have found as a way out. That brings us right back to Christ. Because, while I cannot answer their problems, He can. There is no joy in the world like watching Him begin to come into somebody's life through the contagion of one's own faith, and then watch them begin spiritually to get well. That is the thrill of my job, as watching them get well in health is the thrill of yours.
But my job isn't just confined to the soul, it has to take in the mind and the body. The other day I sent a friend of mine to one of this city's great-hearted psychiatrists, because I knew he could help in a way I could not. And I am constantly working with medical doctors, so that we can heal people all round. In the same way you cannot confine your healing to the body only. You know how much the mental attitude has to do with getting well, how fear, or not wanting to live, pull people down, and how wanting to live and be well, and faith, pull them up. Sometimes it seems that these attitudes are determinative in what happens to sick people. What do you feel about them? Can you do anything to help? Are they just chemical reactions? Or does the power of suggestion lie very close to faith, and is that power in the hands of everyone who sees a sick person, especially in the hands of the persons who see them most, namely, yourselves?
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I read the Sun's front page article by Doug Donovan regarding Church of the Ascension ("Small church fights Episcopal diocese over land," Jan. 24) with special interest because just about five years ago a group of some 30 of us left the Episcopal Church and founded our own then small Orthodox Anglican congregation, Church of the Resurrection, in Timonium. Ironically, the writer who wrote an article for The Sun about our experience nearly made the same mistake your Mr. Donovan made here some five years later.
At that time, the writer assumed that we left because of the consecration of a... bishop [in a same-sex partnership]. We were pretty clear with that writer that we left for reasons much greater than one bishop. We left because the hierarchy of the Episcopal Church had left us with its swing to modify, even deny, much of the story of salvation through Jesus Christ. The writer, to her credit, presented our rationale relatively fairly.
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