Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all (requires subscription).



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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

"About 44," Miles said, smiling.

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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


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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What prompted you to write this book?

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPhilosophyPsychology* TheologyAnthropology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An Anglican clergyman is facing opposition from parishioners over a service in his local church to bless his same-sex civil partnership.

The Rev Dominic McClean, the Rector of 13 parishes around the village of Market Bosworth in Leicestershire, invited parishioners to the special service this weekend to mark his civil union with his partner, Tony Hodges.

The service, taking place in the 14th Century St Peter’s Church in Market Bosworth on Saturday next week was given a go-ahead by the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Rev Tim Stevens, who led the Church of England’s opposition in the House of Lords to the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

Read it all.


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

1 Comments
Posted September 17, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.



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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I am in no position to teach the Bishop of Salisbury about patristics, but what dear old Irenaeus wrote was “For the glory of God is a living man” (Gloria enim Dei vivens homo). He wrote in Greek, but that bit only survives in Latin. It comes in his masterpiece Adversus Haereses, the point of which is the central belief of Christianity: that God became a man; the Word was made flesh.

The Word of God, Irenaeus says in this paragraph (Book IV; 20:7), dispensed the fatherly grace of God, revealing God to man. (By “man”, homo, he means the kind of creature we humans are. We are also persons, but so are the persons of the Holy Trinity, so that word is better avoided here.)

The Word, Irenaeus wrote, “also protected the invisibility of the Father lest man should ever come to despise God”. However, “He made God visible to man by many methods lest man, entirely falling away from God, should cease to exist”.

Then comes the famous quotation: “For a living man is the glory of God; but the vision of God is the life of man.”

Read it all.



Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchArtHistory* TheologyAnthropology

1 Comments
Posted September 14, 2014 at 12:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 12, 2014 at 4:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Since the Jennifer Lawrence photo hack, Internet security has come under scrutiny. But why do many young women feel the need to take and share nude selfies in the first place? Don’t get me wrong: I think hackers are morally reprehensible and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. But I also think that we need to build an alternative to the dogma “If you’ve got it, flaunt it.” Young women are told that it’s a sign of being proud of your sexuality to “sext” young men—a philosophy that has turned girls into so many flashing beacons, frantic to keep the attention of the males in their lives by striking porn-inspired poses.

Today if you watch the famous Algerian-French singer Enrico Macias singing to his late wife, Suzy, about how he “won her love,” their dynamic seems as if it’s from another planet. Some might watch this decades-old video and imagine her passivity indicates that she wasn’t empowered. But I see something else in her shy manner and dancing eyes: a drama between them that was not for the public to see. The words of his song are certainly moving—“In the exile’s nights, we were together/ My son and my daughter are truly from you/ I spent my life … waiting for you”—and yet there was even more than what those beautiful lyrics revealed.

The pressure on girls today to take sexy selfies comes out of a culture that routinely equates modesty with shame, instead of recognizing it for what it really is: an impulse that protects what is precious and intimate.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingPsychologySexualityTeens / YouthWomen* General InterestPhotos/Photography* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

4 Comments
Posted September 12, 2014 at 3:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Both [Cardinal Walter] Kasper in his address to the consistory and the ITC refer to John Henry Newman’s essay “On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine.” Even today, Newman’s bold analysis and brilliant exposition have not lost their capacity to shock. Focusing on the fourth-century Arian heresy, probably the most dangerous the church ever faced, Newman asserts that during this period the divine tradition committed to the infallible church was proclaimed and maintained far more by the faithful than by the episcopate; that the body of the episcopate was unfaithful to its commission, while the body of the laity was faithful to its baptism; and that it was the Christian people who supported great solitary confessors such as Athanasius, who would have failed without them.

[John Henry] Newman’s controversial essay, which put him under a cloud in Rome (“the most dangerous man in England,” said Msgr. George Talbot), is given full credit in the ITC study. Newman demonstrated, the commission says, that the faithful, as distinct from their pastors, have their own active role to play in conserving and transmitting the faith. For Newman, the commission notes, there is something in the shared life (conspiratio) of pastors and faithful “which is not in the pastors alone.” And the commission draws attention also to the often neglected role of the laity in developing “the moral teaching of the church.”

What if the faithful experience “difficulty” in receiving the teaching of the authorities and show “resistance” to it? Then there is an impasse. It can only be broken if both sides realize they have to think again. The authorities need to “reflect on the teaching that has been given and consider whether it needs clarification or reformulation in order to communicate more effectively the essential message.”

Read it all.

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

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Posted September 12, 2014 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Now]...this week, his name now as much a part of NFL culture as its most famous players and teams, the 55-year-old commissioner began taking on heavy fire for his judgment and ability to perform his self-described job description. Scrutiny, particularly recently, is nothing new, but it has never been harsher than this week, following the publishing of a video Monday that showed former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, and then dragging her unconscious body out of an Atlantic City casino elevator. It was footage, Goodell told the “CBS Evening News” on Tuesday, he had not seen during the NFL’s earlier investigation into the matter.

Goodell’s words eased little of the pressure on the commissioner, and in fact, those in and around the NFL community have begun scrutinizing Goodell’s priorities and, in some cases, calling for his job.

Depending on viewpoint, the NFL was either unable despite its vast resources to procure the same video from the Revel Hotel and Casino that TMZ somehow acquired and published. Or, as TMZ reported Tuesday morning, the league simply never asked for it in an effort to ferry out a lighter punishment for Rice.

Read it all.



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

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Posted September 10, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Thanks to the Jay report, however, we can say that the Hodges rejoinder is not entirely true. The Rotherham problem​—​which we’ll call Childhood Sexual Exploitation, or CSE, because everyone uses that jargon​—​was the subject of repeated scrutiny throughout the period when 1,400 girls fell victim to it, not only by the local government itself but also by social services, private charities and their consultants, the National Health Service (NHS), and the police. The girls were abandoned only partly because so many made a cowardly choice to let a crime go unreported when they could not think of a “non-racist” way to describe it. They were also abandoned because of the way that these agencies tried to do good. The process of “caring for children” was already bad; the distortions and systematic mendacity encouraged by the ideology of multiculturalism and racial and gender theorizing made it worse.

Read it all.

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

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Posted September 9, 2014 at 3:36 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On her 27th day of living in a tiny room at a Tucson church known for pioneering the popular immigrant sanctuary movement in the 1980s, Rosa Robles Loreto swept a courtyard, prayed with a group of parishioners and greeted her uniformed son fresh off his baseball practice.

Robles Loreto is a 41-year-old immigrant who lacks legal status and is facing deportation after getting pulled over for a traffic infraction four years ago. She has vowed to remain in Southside Presbyterian Church until federal immigration authorities grant her leniency.

Robles Loreto is the third immigrant to take sanctuary in a church this year in Arizona, reviving a popular movement from the 1980s that sought to help Central American migrants fleeing civil wars stay in the U.S. by letting them live inside churches, where immigration officials generally do not arrest people.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 9, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Christian Church as a whole, a body of which the Church of England is one branch, has held a consistent position with regard to sexual ethics over the past two millennia, with a remarkable degree of unanimity. That is, marriage is defined as an exclusive, permanent union between one man and one woman, and that sexual activity outside this union cannot be considered holy. The Church has always sought to uphold this principle while at the same time applying appropriate pastoral practice at the local level, both where the principle has been breached “through weakness and through deliberate fault”, and where men and women despite temptation aim to conform their lives to the historic understanding of Christ’s teaching in this area. But the principle of Christian marriage, deriving from the clear teaching of Scripture, Church tradition, and fellowship with the worldwide body of Christ, cannot be overturned or redefined without a serious fracture in the church today, and a severance from what ties us to authentic Christian faith.

In view of this, Anglican Mainstream, representing the views of many faithful members of the Church of England, lay and ordained, views with dismay the recent statement by Changing Attitude, urging the House of Bishops to rescind the February Statement on marriage, and to allow couples in same sex relationships, especially clergy, to marry, and be blessed in church.

The Changing Attitude statement is unhelpful and should be politely rejected, for the following reasons:

a) the Shared Conversations of Sexuality, Scripture and Mission are about to begin, and the process will last more than two years. After the conversations are over, motions and resolutions can be put before Synod by those on different sides of the argument, and debated. The Bishops have no authority to make the kind of changes demanded by Changing Attitude before this time. In the meantime, Bishops have responsibility to promote and defend the teaching of the Church, and should not be bullied by lobby groups to do otherwise.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted September 8, 2014 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Changing Attitude England urges a change of policy and practice on the House of Bishops in response to the high levels of anxiety and insecurity being felt LGBTI clergy, licensed lay ministers, and ordinands and the anger and frustration being felt by gay and straight Anglicans.

We urge the House of Bishops to review the Pastoral Guidance document:

There are strong theological arguments for accepting and celebrating same-sex partnerships, including marriage.
Clergy and congregations should be free to conduct services of thanksgiving and blessing for married same-sex couples.
The threat of sanctions against clergy who marry should be removed to enable LGBTI clergy and lay ministers to participate in the mutual conversations.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 8, 2014 at 4:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Can the U.S. compete internationally? Its companies can. Its workers cannot.

That is the key finding from a new survey of Harvard Business School alumni that delves into their views of the U.S. business environment to see where the nation thrives and where it falters.

The survey shows the business executives see, on one hand, an uncompetitive K-12 education system, a poor tax code and a broken political system. On the other hand, they see high-quality capital markets, sophisticated management systems, pathbreaking universities and a vibrant environment for entrepreneurs.

Read it all.


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

1 Comments
Posted September 8, 2014 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

ike many Americans, I have changed my mind on gay marriage—though my change of mind has gone the opposite way of most. My support for gay marriage was early and enthusiastic. In high school I wrote a research paper titled “Gay Marriage as a Constitutional and Human Right.” I was earnest and impassioned, motivated by a desire to see justice done and unsure of how or why anyone could disagree.

I triumphantly quoted J. S. Mill’s On Liberty, and cited Socrates in Plato’s Apology, about the limits of religious views on civic matters and the growth of our national wisdom, respectively. The arguments seemed clear. I agreed with Jon Meacham, “society can no more deny a gay person access to the secular rights and religious sacraments because of his homosexuality than it can reinstate Jim Crow.”

Then something changed. As I entered college, I found myself being drawn from social democratism to conservatism thanks to Roger Scruton, and from skepticism back to the Catholic Christianity of my upbringing thanks to Pascal, Chesterton, and David Bentley Hart. But I still held to the consent-based or revisionist view of marriage, rather than the conjugal view defended by Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert P. George. The turning point came when I read a paper by Scruton and Phillip Blond. They distinguished how a romantic union between two individuals of the same sex could have the same level of intensity as that between two individuals of the opposite sex. Yet they said that the conjugal view of marriage did not see exclusivity of romance as the telos of marriage. Rather, it “extends beyond the individuals who marry to the children they hope to create and the society they wish to shape.”

I came to realize the institution of marriage is not merely a private contract between two partners....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyMenPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureWomen* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 7, 2014 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This truth is demonstrated in the phenomenal growth of the early church (Acts 2:41–47). These first Christians turned the world upside down not because they discovered a trendy new way to “do church” but because of their striking conformity to Jesus. Notably, the church grew as the believers “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Because devoting yourself seems to lack pizzazz, we tend to make spiritual growth more difficult than it is. But, with few exceptions, those who are growing in godliness are committed to preaching, the sacraments, and prayer. These are the ordinary means of grace. Spiritual growth doesn’t require innovation because God doesn’t work erratically and irregularly (Mal. 3:6). We don’t have to “find God’s wave and ride it” until He surges elsewhere.

Still, the means of grace don’t always seem to work. Maybe we’ve said, “I come to church, partake of the sacraments, spend time in prayer, and I don’t seem to grow.” Assuming that we are diligently and believingly using the means, we shouldn’t too easily dismiss the vital role they are playing in our lives. Imagine saying, “I eat three times a day, but I don’t get any healthier. Eating must not be the answer.” What shape might we be in if we weren’t being fed by God through His ordinary means?

In our church, new members hear this admonition when they profess their faith in Christ: “By the diligent use of the means of grace and with the assistance of your God, continue in the profession which you have just made.” Surely, exercises like maintaining godly associations, using edifying media, sharing our faith with others, engaging in works of service, making diligent use of time, and caring for our bodies will affect our spiritual wellness. But participating in preaching, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and prayer must regulate the routine of any healthy Christian.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyTheology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

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Posted September 7, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Divorcing parents who try to maintain an amicable relationship for the sake of their children are doing nothing to help them, a major study suggests.

The impact of the split on youngsters is the same whether or not the mother and father keep cordial links, it found.

The findings undermine a Government-backed consensus that the harm caused to children by separating parents can be limited if the couple remain friends.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 6, 2014 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Intervarsity Christian Fellowship has been, in modern campus terminology, “derecognized” by California State University schools.

It's not just InterVarsity. Following the same logic being applied, any group that insists on requiring its leaders to follow an agreed upon set of guiding beliefs is no longer kosher (pun intended) at California's state universities. Presumably, even People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals would have to allow Oscar Meyer to lead their campus chapters.

Only in a modern American university would this make any sense.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 6, 2014 at 8:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two years after the Episcopal Church voted to allow the blessings of same-sex unions, Milwaukee's bishop has opened the door for blessings to take place in his diocese.

But the new rite, created by Milwaukee Bishop Steven A. Miller, will be available only to those couples already married by civil authorities, and only in churches where the vestry, or parish council, signs off on its use.

The decision, outlined by Miller in a letter to clergy dated Aug. 29, appears to be a compromise between the personal convictions of the bishop, who has criticized the rite approved by the national church as deficient, and most of the clergy in the diocese, who had been pushing for him to allow its use locally.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

3 Comments
Posted September 5, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

New York state, Minnesota and Washington, D.C., all have pending legislation that would legalize the practice of commercial surrogacy—paying someone to have a baby on your behalf. Reproductive technology has made surrogacy possible since the 1980s, but it remained relatively rare until recent years as the technology improved and the legalization of same-sex marriage increased the number of childless couples eager to have children.

The Catholic Church has long opposed surrogacy, whether paid or unpaid. Nowadays, with increasing pressure for the legalization of paid surrogacy, the church has found itself with an unfamiliar ally: feminists.

The Catholic Church and women's rights groups are accustomed to clashing over policy matters involving contraception and abortion. But now the two camps can often be found working hand in hand when it comes to protecting both women and children from being exploited in the growing and largely unregulated fertility industry.

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

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Posted September 5, 2014 at 5:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Judged in theological terms, the Osteen message is the latest and slickest version of Prosperity Theology. That American heresy has now spread throughout much of the world, but it began in the context of American Pentecostalism in the early twentieth century. Prosperity theology, promising that God rewards faith with health and wealth, first appealed to those described as “the dispossessed” — the very poor. Now, its updated version appeals to the aspirational class of the suburbs. Whereas the early devotees of Prosperity Theology prayed for a roof over their heads that did not leak, the devotees of prosperity theology in the Age of Osteen pray for ever bigger houses. The story of how the Osteens exercised faith for a big house comes early in Joel Osteen’s best-seller, Your Best Life Now.

According to Osteen, God wants to pour out his “immeasurable favor” on his human creatures, and this requires a fundamental re-ordering of our thinking. “To experience this immeasurable favor,” Osteen writes, “you must rid yourself of that small-minded thinking and start expecting God’s blessings, start anticipating promotion and supernatural increase. You must conceive it in your heart before you can receive it. In other words, you must make increase in your own thinking, then God will bring those things to pass.”

There is nothing really new in this message. Anyone familiar with the New Thought movement and later books such as Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich will see a persistent theme. The important issue is this — Prosperity Theology is a false Gospel. The problem with Prosperity Theology is not that it promises too much, but that it aims for so little. What God promises us in Christ is far above anything that can be measured in earthly wealth — and believers are not promised earthly wealth nor the gift of health.

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

2 Comments
Posted September 4, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Gallup's U.S. Job Creation Index held steady in August at +28, tying the six-year high reached in July. This is up from +22 in August a year ago. The index has been fairly flat since May, when it reached +27, after trending up in the first few months of 2014.

Gallup's Job Creation Index is a measure of net hiring in the U.S. as reported by a nationally representative sample of full- and part-time workers. In August, 41% of workers said their employer is hiring and expanding the size of its workforce, while 13% said their employer is letting workers go and reducing the size of its workforce, resulting in the +28 net hiring score.

This is only the second month since 2008 -- the first being last month -- that slightly more workers reported their employer is hiring rather than maintaining the status quo.

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

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Posted September 3, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

St Paul seems an unlikely commentator on mobile technology, but he offers some pertinent thoughts in his letter to the Corinthians. He wrote that while on Earth we perceive God as though “through a lens dimly or darkly” but one day in heaven we will see Him "in full, face to face”. For St Paul, looking through a lens was clearly inferior to taking that glass away and standing face to face in direct contact.

As we hold up our mobile devices, in some ways we create a mediated experience. With a screen between us, we choose to see through glass and forego the ability to be totally present. Yes, we may then have photos to show others, or save for later, but we missed the unrepeatable moment ourselves - and was that a price worth paying?

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

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Posted September 3, 2014 at 6:58 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The false premise goes something like this: Christianity, as a historical social phenomenon, basically adjusts its moral doctrines depending on the prevailing social conditions. Christianity, after all, gets its doctrines from "the Bible," a self-contradictory grab-bag of miscellany. When some readings from the Bible fall into social disfavor, Christianity adjusts them accordingly. There are verses in the Bible that condemn homosexuality, but there are also verses that condemn wearing clothes made of two threads, and verses that allow slavery. Christians today find ways to lawyer their way out of those. Therefore, the implicit argument seems to go, if you just bully Christianity enough, it will find a way to change its view of homosexuality, and all will be well. After all, except for a few shut-ins in the Vatican, most Christians today are fine with sexual revolution innovations such as contraception and easy divorce.

Look, there's obviously some truth in all that. Not every single bit of Christian morality has held constant over a history that spans two millennia, every continent, and almost every culture. And as Christians will be the first to admit, many strands of Christianity have been very accommodating of the idiosyncrasies of its host societies.

But this premise is also fundamentally mistaken, because the history of Christian ethics actually shows that the faith has been surprisingly consistent on the topic of sexuality. Christian opposition to homosexual acts is of a piece with a much broader vision of what it means to be a human being that Christianity will never part with.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At first I thought this was all a misunderstanding that could be sorted out between reasonable parties. If I could explain to the administration that doctrinal statements are an important part of religious expression—an ancient, enduring practice that would be a given for respected thinkers like Thomas Aquinas—then surely they'd see that creedal communities are intellectually valid and permissible. If we could show that we weren't homophobic culture warriors but friendly, thoughtful evangelicals committed to a diverse, flourishing campus, then the administration and religious groups could find common ground.

When I met with the assistant dean of students, she welcomed me warmly and seemed surprised that my group would be affected by the new policy. I told her I was a woman in the ordination process, that my husband was a PhD candidate in Vanderbilt's religion department, and that we loved the university. There was an air of hope that we could work things out.

But as I met with other administrators, the tone began to change. The word discrimination began to be used—a lot—specifically in regard to creedal requirements. It was lobbed like a grenade to end all argument. Administrators compared Christian students to 1960s segregationists. I once mustered courage to ask them if they truly thought it was fair to equate racial prejudice with asking Bible study leaders to affirm the Resurrection. The vice chancellor replied, "Creedal discrimination is still discrimination."

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

3 Comments
Posted September 2, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon ordered a curfew Saturday in the city of Ferguson and declared a state of emergency after fresh violence erupted overnight amid public anger over the shooting death of an unarmed young black man by a white police officer.

The curfew will run from midnight to 5 a.m., starting Saturday night.

“This is a test,” Nixon said at a news conference, saying “the eyes of the world” are watching to see how the city handles the aftermath of the Aug. 9 death of Michael Brown, 18.

The announcement comes after community activists had taken to the streets and social media Saturday in hopes of preventing another night of looting and violence in Ferguson after at least three businesses fell victim to a predawn rampage by young men who targeted local stores as others tried desperately to stop them.

Read it all and join us in praying for all invovled.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireMarriage & FamilyRace/Race RelationsViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 16, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I was fortunate, in my own life, to have a bold counseling professor tell me what he saw—immaturity, arrogance, insecurity. We live in a culture of affirmation, and I believe in affirming young men and women entering ministry or leadership positions. But not without some honest feedback—about their relational patterns, hidden insecurities, and messianic dreams.

Spiritual health is not about climbing some moral ladder, but about what Jesus calls "purity of heart." This means that our inner life matches our outer. Remember, this was the problem of the religious leaders in Jesus' day. They were hypocrites, play-actors, doing life on stage but hollow within.

It takes time and suffering for growth to happen. This is why the poor, broken, and unclean seem to be privileged in the New Testament—they've already hit bottom. Our humiliations breed depth, grace, forgiveness, strength, courage, curiosity, and hope—all the attributes that make healthy leaders. Otherwise we'll quickly experience what happens to anyone living a lie: We'll get caught, fall, or alienate everyone we love.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

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Posted August 14, 2014 at 5:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...to demand that a work be “relatable” expresses a different expectation: that the work itself be somehow accommodating to, or reflective of, the experience of the reader or viewer. The reader or viewer remains passive in the face of the book or movie or play: she expects the work to be done for her. If the concept of identification suggested that an individual experiences a work as a mirror in which he might recognize himself, the notion of relatability implies that the work in question serves like a selfie: a flattering confirmation of an individual’s solipsism.

To appreciate “King Lear”—or even “The Catcher in the Rye” or “The Fault in Our Stars”—only to the extent that the work functions as one’s mirror would make for a hopelessly reductive experience. But to reject any work because we feel that it does not reflect us in a shape that we can easily recognize—because it does not exempt us from the active exercise of imagination or the effortful summoning of empathy—is our own failure. It’s a failure that has been dispiritingly sanctioned by the rise of “relatable.” In creating a new word and embracing its self-involved implications, we have circumscribed our own critical capacities. That’s what sucks, not Shakespeare.

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

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Posted August 14, 2014 at 6:19 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As usual with Facebook, this is not the whole story. For one, it has begun tracking users’ browsing history to identify their interests better. Its latest mobile app can identify songs and films playing nearby, nudging users to write about them. It has acquired the Moves app, which does something similar with physical activity, using sensors to recognise whether users are walking, driving or cycling.

Still, if Facebook is so quick to embrace – and profit from – the language of privacy, should privacy advocates not fear they are the latest group to be “disrupted”? Yes, they should: as Facebook’s modus operandi mutates, their vocabulary ceases to match the magnitude of the task at hand. Fortunately, the “happiness” experiment also shows us where the true dangers lie.

For example, many commentators have attacked Facebook’s experiment for making some users feel sadder; yet the company’s happiness fetish is just as troubling. Facebook’s “obligation to be happy” is the converse of the “right to be forgotten” that Google was accused of trampling over. Both rely on filters. But, while Google has begun to hide negative results because it has been told to do so by European authorities, Facebook hides negative results because it is good for business. Yet since unhappy people make the best dissidents in most dystopian novels, should we not also be concerned with all those happy, all too happy, users?

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeStock Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 10, 2014 at 3:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Like J, with his effortless mastery of big data, these children do not need adult approval before they do things; they are already masters of their world and it is the older generations who must catch up. The millennials grew up with the magical manichean world of Harry Potter and its avuncular headmaster Dumbledore; Generation Z has Katniss Everdeen, the bow-wielding heroine of The Hunger Games, who defies the totalitarian oppressors and starts a revolution.

It will be interesting to see where this generation lands politically — not Ukip, because most have social media friendships that span continents, but will they morph from single-issue activism into democratic party politics or will they, like Everdeen, overturn the existing order? If I were running a political party I would be quite worried about a generation of tech-literate, global-thinking teens raised on a diet of dystopian fiction and the Kardashians. They don’t have much reason to trust adults. And even more alarming, thanks to 3D printers — which they will have mastered long before their parents — they will be able to bypass the arms manufacturers and print their own guns.

Universities and colleges should also be quite apprehensive about Generation Z — there is a growing number of gifted teens who are beginning to wonder whether they will get anything out of university other than a mountain of debt. For the millennials the partying was worth the pain of student loans that they probably won’t pay off before they draw their pension; but for the value- conscious younger generation the idea of education for its own sake is less appealing.

After all, they have online universities and TED talks; any curious teen can probably find a decent liberal arts education online without having to spend a penny on tuition.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyScience & TechnologySociologyTeens / YouthYoung Adults* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 10, 2014 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Parker, the article says, preached in Baptist churches as a young man, before going into medicine. He had, he says, a “come to Jesus” moment where he became convinced that he ought to do abortions. “The protesters say they’re opposed to abortion because they’re Christian,” he says. “It’s hard for them to accept that I do abortions because I’m a Christian.”

The profile portrays Dr. Parker as he prepares women for the abortions he is selling them. He tells them to ignore everything but their own consciences, and then, of course, he informs their consciences that abortion is morally acceptable. “If you are comfortable with your decision, ignore everything from everybody else.”

Apparently, he knows how to ignore everything else, including the conscience. The article quotes him talking a woman through an abortion by telling her that her unborn child is “very small.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLife EthicsReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 9, 2014 at 1:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Research shows that children are best brought up in families where a mum and dad are present. The role of fathers in the nurture of their children is unique and cannot be replaced by other so-called ‘male role-models’ or, indeed, an extra ‘mother’.

Research tells us that children relate to their fathers differently than to their mothers, and this is important in developing a sense of their own identity....

None of this should detract from the heroism of single parents. They should be provided with every support by the State and by local communities.

There is, however, a big difference between children growing up without fathers because of death or family breakdown, and actively planning to bring children into the world who will not know one of their biological parents and where such a parent will never be part of the nurture of these children.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 9, 2014 at 1:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jose Gomez was born in Mexico. He grew up to become a Catholic priest and moved to the U.S. Now he is Archbishop of Los Angeles. And he's been thinking for years about immigrants who fill the pews.

JOSE GOMEZ: We can be a beautiful example for the whole world. What Los Angeles is now is the way the world is going to be, in my mind - with the movements of people.

INSKEEP: People speak more than 40 languages in the archdiocese, which says it serves five million Catholics. Taking office in 2010, Archbishop Gomez confronted a sex abuse scandal. Now he wants to focus on a long-standing passion, immigration. He wrote a book on it, quoting both the Bible and Thomas Jefferson. When we visited his office, he said he wants generous treatment for Central American children now crossing the border.

GOMEZ: It seems that sometimes we see these young immigrants coming by themselves as a threat for our country. When, in reality, they're just looking for safety and for a place where they can grow up as normal, healthy, and good and strong members of society. I think our concern, in the Church, was that we will send them back right away, without really giving them the opportunity to (unintelligible) their situation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 9, 2014 at 8:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What Tolkien and Lewis saw on the battlefield made it easy for them to imagine worlds ravaged by evil. Nevertheless, fortified by their Christian faith—Tolkien a Catholic, Lewis an Anglican—they believed that God and goodness were the deepest truths about the human story. In Middle-earth and Narnia, the ruin or redemption of every person depends on what side he or she has chosen in the conflict.

Is this so unlike our own world? Think of the Nigerian girls kidnapped by Boko Haram; the civilians caught in the genocidal storm of the Syrian regime; the courageous Malala Yousafzai, shot by the Taliban for wanting Pakistani girls to go to school.

The heroic figure is the one who resists evil, who is willing to lay down his life for his friends. Perhaps the character of Faramir in "The Lord of the Rings" expresses it best: "I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend." That may be the vision of humanity that our present world needs most.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryPoetry & LiteratureReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologySoteriology

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Posted August 8, 2014 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Most Revd Clarke said: “One of the most perplexing aspects of the intervention of a former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, into the debate in England on the side of assisted dying was that a fundamental Christian tenet – that our life on earth is not our property to do with as we choose – appeared to have eluded him entirely.

“Much therefore depends on how we understand the significance of earthly life.

“If life is simply a personal commodity...then life is disposable, entirely at the will of the individual ‘possessor’. This is clearly not the Christian perspective and, even for the non-believer, it is not an automatic understanding of the significance of life.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Ireland* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife Ethics* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 8, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An NHS Trust has withdrawn its offer of an appointment to an Anglican chaplain, after his bishop refused to grant him a licence on the grounds that he had defied the House of Bishops' pastoral guidance by marrying his same-sex partner.

The priest, Canon Jeremy Pemberton, is Deputy Senior Chaplain and Deputy Bereavement and Voluntary Services Manager in the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust. He married Laurence Cunnington in April, and the Acting Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham, the Rt Revd Richard Inwood, then withdrew his permission to officiate.

On 10 June, Canon Pemberton was offered a new job as Head of Chaplaincy and Bereavement Services in the Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. This was conditional on the Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham's issuing him with a licence....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 8, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two Americans with Ebola received at least half of the world's supply of a drug that might be able to change the course of the deadly virus.

Some people are asking how to allocate additional doses of this drug and whether it was ethical to give those drugs to American missionaries when they weren't available to West Africans suffering from or fighting the outbreak.

The World Health Organization will convene a panel of medical ethicists early next week to discuss the use of such experimental treatments. The group will probably decide how to allocate medications should more become available.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHealth & MedicineScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 7, 2014 at 5:38 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Clergy within the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh may now sign civil marriage certificates between same-sex couples, Bishop Dorsey McConnell confirmed in a recent open letter to the diocese.

The action builds on Bishop McConnell’s decision in November 2013 to allow clergy to conduct blessings of same-sex relationships.

At that time, same-sex marriage was not a legal option in Pennsylvania, but Bishop McConnell and diocesan chancellor Andy Roman reviewed civil and canon law after the May 20 federal court decision ruling that same-sex couples be allowed to marry in the state of Pennsylvania.


Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted August 7, 2014 at 11:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One of the reasons many churches struggle is they're not a friendly place for men.

Think about the worship service at your church. More than likely, there's a lot of talk about loving each other, but not much about fighting against sin or fighting for each other. There's holding hands when we sing, but not much locking arms as we get marching orders for the mission.

Yes, I'm stereotyping. But, that's what I often hear from many critics of churches. Regardless of its universal application, men need to be challenged to act like men—that's what the Bible does. We need to live out our callings as men, to be and do what God has called us to be and do.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMenPsychology* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Before birth, it is accepted practice to inject the heart of the unborn child with potassium chloride to cause death before inducing a stillbirth, or late term there may be a partial birth abortion in which during delivery an instrument is inserted into the child's brain through the back of the neck so it also is born dead. After birth, even the birth of a baby of the same or even less maturity or gestational age, to end the life would be regarded as a criminal offence in most jurisdictions.

Anecdotally, mothers who opt not to have their child given the fatal injection before birth are placed under great pressure to use the technique to prevent the birth of a child with a disability. It is a cognitive dissonance that seems irresolvable that birth, not maturity or gestational age, is what makes the difference in status of the infant.

Cultural attitudes to disability are obviously conflictual. Public reaction appears to condemn the commissioning couple for reportedly deserting a child on the basis of disability and the inherently discriminatory attitude involved, but would presumably have accepted the killing of baby Gammy before birth at the request of the commissioning couple or the agency, if the birth mother had acquiesced.

There are many other conflicts underlying this case.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted August 7, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“We should not be surprised if parents who have ordered a baby and rented a woman’s womb refuse it at birth if it is not healthy and perfect,” said an article published in the Vatican’s semiofficial newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.

“In fact if a child becomes a product to buy, it is obvious that as with any acquisition it must meet with the buyer’s approval.”

The strongly worded commentary was written by prominent Catholic feminist and regular contributor Lucetta Scaraffia, who argued the child’s rejection was to be expected in the “explosive mix” of consumerism combined with a “throwaway culture.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 6, 2014 at 4:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Will robots ease our toil or become a tool for automation and oppression? People who care about technology seem sharply divided, and passionate, about the topic.

The Pew Research Center asked 1,900 technology experts if robots will help or hurt the workforce over the next 10 years. Nearly half (48%) envision a future in which robots displace significant numbers of workers. The remaining 52% say automation will not displace more jobs than it creates by 2025.

But the numbers were just the starting point for some heated opinions.

“We, as a society, have a lot of decisions to make,” said study co-author Aaron Smith, a senior researcher at the Pew Internet Project. “There’s going to be a lot of debate.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 6, 2014 at 11:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Global health experts at the World Health Organization are meeting to discuss new measures to tackle the Ebola outbreak.

The meeting - being held in Geneva, Switzerland - is expected to last two days and will decide whether to declare a global health emergency.

That could involve imposing travel restrictions on affected areas.

The outbreak began last February and has since spread to four African countries, claiming nearly 900 lives.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHealth & Medicine* International News & CommentaryAfricaGuineaLiberiaNigeriaSierra LeoneEuropeSwitzerland* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 6, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Recent U.S. surveillance flights over northeastern Nigeria showed what appeared to be large groups of girls held together in remote locations, raising hopes among domestic and foreign officials that they are among the group that Boko Haram abducted from a boarding school in April, U.S. and Nigerian officials said.

The surveillance suggests that at least some of the 219 schoolgirls still held captive haven't been forced into marriage or sex slavery, as had been feared, but instead are being used as bargaining chips for the release of prisoners.

The U.S. aerial imagery matches what Nigerian officials say they hear from northern Nigerians who have interacted with the Islamist insurgency: that some of Boko Haram's most famous set of captives are getting special treatment, compared with the hundreds of other girls the group is suspected to have kidnapped. Boko Haram appears to have seen the schoolgirls as of higher value, given the global attention paid to their plight, those officials said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchTeens / YouthViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 6, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Russian crime ring has amassed the largest known collection of stolen Internet credentials, including 1.2 billion username and password combinations and more than 500 million email addresses, security researchers say.

The records, discovered by Hold Security, a firm in Milwaukee, include confidential material gathered from 420,000 websites, ranging from household names to small Internet sites. Hold Security has a history of uncovering significant hacks, including the theft last year of tens of millions of records from Adobe Systems.

Hold Security would not name the victims, citing nondisclosure agreements and a reluctance to name companies whose sites remained vulnerable. At the request of The New York Times, a security expert not affiliated with Hold Security analyzed the database of stolen credentials and confirmed it was authentic. Another computer crime expert who had reviewed the data, but was not allowed to discuss it publicly, said some big companies were aware that their records were among the stolen information.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussia* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 5, 2014 at 5:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A rush of newly insured patients using health services has boosted hospital operators' fortunes but has racked up costs that insurers didn't anticipate, corporate filings and interviews with executives show.

People are getting more back surgeries, seeking maternity care and showing up at emergency rooms more frequently, executives say, boosting income for hospital operators.

At Tenet Healthcare Corp....patient volumes rose 4% in the second quarter compared with a year earlier, while uninsured inpatient admissions slid 22%....

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted August 5, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The first priest to marry his same-sex partner is to issue a legal challenge to the Church of England after his offer of a job as an NHS chaplain was withdrawn when his bishop refused the necessary permission.

The Rev Jeremy Pemberton, who married Laurence Cunnington in April, was informed on Friday that Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS trust had withdrawn its offer of a job after Bishop Richard Inwood had refused him the official licence in the diocese of Southwell and Nottingham.

"It this is not challenged," Pemberton said on Sunday, "it will send a message to all chaplains of whom a considerable number are gay and lesbian. This is an area of law that has not been tested and needs to be."

Read it all from the Guardian.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Keep Me Posted campaign, which is pressing for the consumer’s right to choose how they are contacted by banks, utility companies and other service providers, has been joined by The Church In Wales.

In the face of an increasing trend for businesses to switch their customers to mainly digital communication, the campaign is calling for service providers to give customers the choice to retain paper bills without charge. Research from the campaign shows that it is often the poor and most vulnerable people in society who rely the most on traditional methods of communication.

The Church, which takes very seriously the economic, social and environmental needs of the communities of Wales, and works in areas of deprivation facing economic inactivity, poverty, debt and low skills, has recognised the barriers many people have to using the internet.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Wales* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 4, 2014 at 10:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In 1946 the director of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, poet Paul Engle, interviewed a shy young woman with a Savannah, Ga., accent as thick as honey. Engle could hardly understand a word she said and asked her to respond in writing. On a legal pad, she wrote, "My name is Flannery O'Connor. Can I come to the writer's workshop?"

After looking at samples of her work, he concluded, "Like Keats, who spoke Cockney but wrote the purest sounds in English, Flannery spoke a dialect beyond instant comprehension but on the page her prose was imaginative, tough, alive: just like Flannery herself."

Fifty years ago today, Aug. 3, 1964, one of the great authors of the 20th century, Flannery O'Connor, died in Milledgeville, Ga., at the age of 39 after a 15-year battle with lupus, an autoimmune disease. Born and raised in Savannah, she spent all but five years of her life in Georgia.

Read it all.



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

1 Comments
Posted August 4, 2014 at 4:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After the rows and debates that have dominated for the past few years, one image of Britain's Christians is of a people obsessed with rules around sex and with stopping people from having sex, especially when it is gay sex or sex outside marriage.

But new research strong support for the physical side of love among churchgoers. And they also seem to be more open to same-sex relationships than might perhaps have been imagined from their churches' stance on the issue.

One in 200 regular churchgoers have entered a formal relationship with someone of the same sex, according to research published this week.

A survey conducted by Christian Research for Christian Today found that 0.6 per cent of churchgoers are in a civil partnership, slightly more than the number cohabiting.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & PartnershipsSociology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 3, 2014 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Florida Blue, the state’s largest health insurer, is increasing premiums by an average of 17.6 percent for its Affordable Care Act exchange plans next year, company officials say.

The nonprofit Blue Cross and Blue Shield affiliate blames higher health costs that are a result of attracting older adults this year who previously lacked coverage and are using more services than expected.

Florida insurance regulators plan to release rate information for all companies next week. The exchange plans cover individuals who are not covered by employer-based policies.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsPersonal FinancePolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 3, 2014 at 12:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England has demanded that the British government offers sanctuary to thousands of Christians fleeing jihadists in northern Iraq, warning that ignoring their plight would constitute a "betrayal of Britain's moral and historical obligations".

A number of bishops have revealed their frustration over David Cameron's intransigence on the issue, arguing the UK has a responsibility to grant immediate asylum to Iraqi Christian communities recently forced to flee the northern city of Mosul after militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis) threatened them with execution, a religious tax or forced conversion.

On Monday, France responded to the so-called religious cleansing by publicly granting asylum to Christians driven from Mosul. The Anglican Church argues the UK has an even greater responsibility to intervene, citing its central role in the 2003 allied invasion, which experts say triggered the destabilisation and sectarian violence that shaped the context for Isis to seize control of much of northern Iraq.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 2, 2014 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It’s not easy being a celebrity pastor these days with that pesky Internet around.

Consider the struggles of Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Faced with mounting accusations circulating online — plagiarism, misusing church funds to prop book sales, silencing anyone in his church with the temerity to question him — Driscoll has urged his followers to stay off the Web. “It’s all shenanigans anyway,” he explains.

Steven Furtick, a megachurch pastor in North Carolina, and Dave Ramsey, an evangelical finance guru, have been taking hits, too, as have the wheeler-dealers on the Preachers of L.A. reality show. This, against a backdrop of culture shifts creating strong headwinds against the leader-and-follower model typified by today’s Christian superstars.

What are a megapastor and his followers to do? Remembering the biblical admonitions against idolatry would be a good start.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMediaPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyPastoral Theology

2 Comments
Posted August 2, 2014 at 1:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A week after my admission to my friend, I was sitting at a wedding Mass listening to the reading of a prayer written by the bride and groom. It asked that “all called to the generosity of the single or celibate . . . might inspire [name of bride and groom] by their conformity to Christ, and always find in them fiercely devoted friends, and in their house a second home.”

The prayer moved me, in part because I’d been going through my own period of loneliness, but also because it reminded me that the movement for gay marriage is absolutely right to demand that the institution be made more inclusive. Where it goes wrong is in supposing this can be done by asserting a free-floating right to marriage, rather than by insisting on the duty of every marriage to become a place of welcome. We can’t and shouldn’t redesign marriage under the illusion that it can directly include everyone. We need more than one form of solidarity.

Despite my eccentric evolution on gay marriage, I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy a certain fugitive solidarity with those whose paths differ from my own. A strange portion of the intellectual discovery and growth in friendship I’ve enjoyed these past years has come about not despite, but because of, the vexations of the gay marriage debate. Those with whom I disagree have helped me see how the strands of the Christian sexual ethic combine to form a great tapestry, the patterns of which would be much more obscure had they not prompted me to think through how sex intersects with Scripture, nature, culture. For this, I owe them a great debt. I hope that in the years to come I can do something to repay it.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The government should consider intervening to stop the Church of England sacking gay vicars who marry, a former Conservative chairman has said.

Lord Fowler raised the case in the House of Lords of Jeremy Pemberton, who had his licence to preach revoked after marrying his partner.

He called on the government to "see if there is anything that could be done to help reconcile the difficulties".

Gay marriage is legal in the UK but the Church of England has not accepted it.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted July 31, 2014 at 6:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Should a fertility treatment clinic implement a policy requiring patients to use only ethnically or racially matched gamete donors? If the idea of such a policy already triggers some element of moral revulsion, you need not read further. But for argument’s sake, here’s why a controversial policy that was in effect until last year at Calgary’s only fertility clinic, and which requires patients to use racially matched sperm donors, is morally, ethically, and legally objectionable.

The policy suggests that a child is disadvantaged by not having an ethnically matched parent. This is a dangerous idea that stigmatizes children who are part of ethnically mixed families. Besides, there is not a shred of evidence that suggests the welfare of a child born (with or without donor gametes) to a person of different ethnicity or race is diminished by the mere fact of that difference.

Individuals who do not have fertility issues are free to seek out partners of any race, colour, ethnicity or creed for procreation purposes. Why then should those seeking fertility treatment be limited to ethnically matched donors? Such limitation stifles patient choice and makes a mess of the ethical and legal concept of autonomy, which is fundamental to medical decision-making in our society. Indeed, it violates professional practice guidelines issued by the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, which stipulate that patients should “be provided with the opportunity to consider and evaluate treatment options in the context of their own life circumstances and culture.” Simply put, decisions regarding a future child’s ethnicity should be made by parents, not by doctors.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted July 30, 2014 at 5:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More than one in three Americans (36%) say drinking alcohol has been a cause of problems in their family at some point, one of the highest figures Gallup has measured since the 1940s. Reports of alcohol-related family troubles have been much more common in recent decades than they were prior to 1990.

Gallup updated its longstanding trend on this question in its July 7-10 Consumption Habits poll. When first asked in 1947, 15% of Americans said alcohol had been a cause of family problems. The percentage remained low in the 1960s and 1970s, before it ticked up -- to an average of 21% -- during the 1980s.

Reports of family problems due to drinking increased further in the 1990s (27%) and 2000s (32%). The average has leveled off at 32% since 2010, although this year's 36% exceeds the current decade's average.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAlcohol/DrinkingAlcoholismHealth & MedicineMarriage & Family* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 29, 2014 at 2:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I know that for many readers, teasing out these implications makes Kasper’s proposal seem that much more reasonable and admirable, because in their view the Catholic Church desperately needs a way to evolve toward the norms of “sexual modernity” (on same-sex marriage, especially, but other fronts as well). And if this is the entering wedge for that kind of change, well, then so much the better.

That’s a perfectly understandable perspective (about which I say more, in a slightly different form, soon). All I’m saying here is that it needs to be forthrightly acknowledged, rather than hidden away as a kind of footnote to what is officially presented a small pastoral change. That right or wrong, good or evil, merciful or destructive, the Kasper proposal is not a minor tweak to Catholic discipline: It’s a depth charge, a change pregnant with further changes, an alteration that could have far more sweeping consequences than innovations (married priests; female cardinals) that might seem more radical on their face.

For reasons of theology, sociology, and simple logic, admitting the remarried to communion has the potential to transform not only Catholic teaching and Catholic life, but the church’s very self-understanding. These are the real stakes in this controversy; these are the terms, here and in Rome, on which it needs to be debated.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMarriage & Family* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted July 29, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I think that the boggle line also tells us something about belief. We each of us have what we could call a belief continuum, with taken-for-granted obvious truths at one end (in August, it does not snow in New York City) and whacked-out possibilities at the other (the tooth fairy, a Cubs triumph in the World Series). When we draw a line between the plausible and the ridiculous — our boggle line — I think we become more confident about the beliefs on the plausible side of the line. You are, the boggle line tells you, a sensible, reasonable person. You do not believe in that. So a belief in this — well, a sensible person would take that seriously.

We know already that asserting one kind of belief shapes one’s willingness to commit to another. Benoit Monin, a professor of organizational behavior and psychology at Stanford, and his colleagues have found that when people do something that affirms their lack of prejudice, like disagreeing with blatant racism or expressing willingness, in a laboratory experiment, to hire a black person instead of a white one, that reasonable moral action seems to license them later to express views that seem racist. Seeing yourself as morally reasonable might allow you to make morally risky choices.

So perhaps rejecting the extreme position (I don’t believe in that) might make a less extreme, but still uncertain, commitment seem more plausible. Indeed, you can make a case that this is why heresy is so important. “What people do not believe is often more clearly articulated than what they do believe,” the sociologist Lester R. Kurtz wrote in 1983, “and it is through battles with heresies and heretics that orthodoxy is most sharply delineated.” The sociologists would explain that if this is true, it is because people unite most profoundly in opposition to a common enemy.

Read it all from the NY Times Op-ed.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & TechnologySociology* TheologyAnthropology

0 Comments
Posted July 27, 2014 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The belief that your partner will be there for you when things go wrong lays a strong foundation for marital happiness. What creates this belief? Surprisingly, it’s not only how your spouse behaves during a crisis, but also how he or she responds when something great happens, according to Shelly Gable, Ph.D., a psychology professor at UC Santa Barbara

Got a promotion? Your spouse could respond actively or passively, constructively or destructively. The best would be active/constructive: “I know you’ve worked so hard for this! Let’s celebrate.” The worst would be active/destructive: “Wow, do you really think you can handle this extra responsibility?” Somewhere in between are a “[yawn] That’s nice, dear,” or worse, “Did you pick up my dry cleaning?”

Celebrating each other’s ­triumphs is a no-brainer for Atherton and Bert Drenth, a 58-year-old health care company owner and a 60-year-old service rep for hospital lab equipment in Guelph, ­Ontario. The couple agree that they have been “each other’s best cheerleaders,” throughout their marriage. When Bert gave Atherton the news, for example, that he’d landed a great new job, she told him, “All your hard work, integrity, reliability, and attention to detail really paid off. I am so proud of you.”

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted July 26, 2014 at 4:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If ever a kitchen appliance captured the zeitgeist, this is it: you can now eat your own face, thanks to a selfie toaster.

The toasters are custom built to scorch a particular image into a piece of bread. They cost $75 (£45), and to order one you must send a picture of yourself to the manufacturer.

Read it all (subsciption required).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDieting/Food/NutritionPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 25, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The UN says militant Islamist group Isis has ordered all women and girls in Mosul, northern Iraq, to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM).

UN official Jacqueline Badcock said the fatwa, or religious edict, applied to females between the ages of 11 and 46.

She said the unprecedented decree issued by the Islamists in control of the city was of grave concern.

Iraq is facing a radical Isis-led Sunni insurgency, with cities in the north-west under militant control.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Rt. Rev. James Newcome, who speaks for the Church of England on health, has called for Lord Falconer to withdraw the Bill in favour of a Royal Commission on the subject.

The Bishop of Carlisle said: “It has brought the issues to the forefront of public discussion and highlighted what an important issue this is. Certainly, our hope as the Church of England is that the Falconer Bill will be withdrawn and that, because this is such an important issue, it could be discussed at length by a Royal Commission.”

A Royal Commission would allow the arguments to be “carefully assessed” and for expert opinion to be taken.

He added that the Church of England is in favour of the law on assisted suicide to remain unaltered as it provides a “good balance” between compassion and protection of the vulnerable.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 24, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 23, 2014 at 6:22 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

t's not exactly "The Golden Girls," but for Marcia Rosenfeld, it'll do.

Rosenfeld is among thousands of aging Americans taking part in home-sharing programs around the country that allow seniors to stay in their homes and save money while getting some much-needed companionship.

"It's a wonderful arrangement," said the white-haired Rosenfeld, who when asked her age will only say she's a senior citizen. "The way the rents are these days, I couldn't stay here without it."

She shares her two-bedroom, $1,000-a-month Brooklyn apartment with Carolyn Allen, a 69-year-old widow who has suffered two strokes and no longer wants to live alone.

Agencies that put such seniors together say the need appears to be growing as baby boomers age and struggle to deal with foreclosures, property taxes and rising rents. The typical situation involves an elderly woman, widowed or divorced, who has a house or an apartment with extra room and needs help with the upkeep.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the Elderly* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingHousing/Real Estate MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 23, 2014 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For several weeks prior to the scheduled lift-off of Apollo 11 back in July, 1969, the pastor of our church, Dean Woodruff, and I had been struggling to find the right symbol for the first lunar landing. We wanted to express our feeling that what man was doing in this mission transcended electronics and computers and rockets.

Dean often speaks at our church, Webster Presbyterian, just outside of Houston, about the many meanings of the communion service.

“One of the principal symbols,” Dean says, “is that God reveals Himself in the common elements of everyday life.” Traditionally, these elements are bread and wine—common foods in Bible days and typical products of man’s labor.

One day while I was at Cape Kennedy working with the sophisticated tools of the space effort, it occurred to me that these tools were the typical elements of life today. I wondered if it might be possible to take communion on the moon, symbolizing the thought that God was revealing Himself there too, as man reached out into the universe. For there are many of us in the NASA program who do trust that what we are doing is part of God’s eternal plan for man.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologySacramental TheologyEucharist

0 Comments
Posted July 22, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

he divorce statistics for modern Western societies are catastrophic. They show that marriage is no longer regarded as a new, independent reality transcending the individuality of the spouses, a reality that, at the very least, cannot be dissolved by the will of one partner alone. But can it be dissolved by the consent of both parties, or by the will of a synod or a pope? The answer must be no, for as Jesus himself explicitly declares, man cannot put asunder what God himself has joined together. Such is the teaching of the Catholic Church.

The Christian understanding of the good life claims to be valid for all human beings. Yet even Jesus’s disciples were shocked by their Master’s words: Wouldn’t it be better, then, they replied, not to marry at all? The astonishment of the disciples underscores the contrast between the Christian way of life and the way of life dominant in the world. Whe­ther it wants to or not, the Church in the West is on its way to becoming a counterculture, and its future now depends chiefly on whether it is able, as the salt of the earth, to keep its savor and not be trampled underfoot by men.

The beauty of the Church’s teaching can shine forth only when it’s not watered down. The temptation to dilute doctrine is reinforced nowadays by an unsettling fact: Catholics are divorcing almost as frequently as their secular counterparts. Something has clearly gone wrong. It’s against all reason to think that all civilly divorced and remarried Catholics began their first marriages firmly convinced of its indissolubility and then fundamentally reversed themselves along the way. It’s more reasonable to assume that they entered into matrimony without clearly realizing what they were doing in the first place: burning their bridges behind them for all time (which is to say until death), so that the very idea of a second marriage simply did not exist for them.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyMenPsychologyWomen* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySacramental Theology

1 Comments
Posted July 21, 2014 at 4:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"As many as 1 in 5 of the people in the top half of the tax credit range might actually end up having income that puts them out of the tax credit range, which means whopping bills at tax time," Brandes said. "We're talking about millions of people here."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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




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