Posted by Kendall Harmon

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that "all states must license marriage between two people of the same sex" and "recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed “out-of-state." Despite this change, the Diocese of South Carolina continues to affirm the historic position of the Christian Church: that God has ordained two states of life for His people, singleness or Holy Matrimony – the joining together of one man and one woman into a holy union. By affirming this position, we stand firmly under the authority of Holy Scripture, in continuity with the two thousand year history of the church, and in accord with the vast majority of Christians around the world. Therefore, it is clear that while the Supreme Court may be changing the civil definition of marriage, it has no authority over Holy Matrimony and the Church’s blessing of the union between husband and wife.

The Bible envisions Holy Matrimony as the life long, exclusive union of one man and one woman. While Christians, like others, experience failure in realizing this vision, it is nevertheless the standard we profess and toward which we strive. We believe that marriage, like all areas of life, can be redeemed, and that by God’s grace all married people can be enabled to live into its unique calling.

The full consequences of the Supreme Court’s cultural and legal innovation have yet to be seen, and will be tested over time. It is our strong belief that this same Constitution, to which they have appealed, must protect the rights of all people to the free exercise of religion. In the light of this conviction, the Diocese of South Carolina will faithfully conduct its ministry in accordance with our beliefs, trusting that this freedom will be upheld.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 26, 2015 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past few days, it’s this: Most people—religious or otherwise—have no idea what marriage is, why it exists, and what we need it for. And what’s worse, they have no idea they have no idea.

Read it all and follow the links.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPhilosophyReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...we should call Oppenheimer’s arguments what they are: societally destructive. He seems to think that churches losing their privileged positions will be just peachy for society, because the government will then step in and execute the same work with extreme competency. His faith in big government is touching, but naive. Consider how the Great Society programs have fared. The government often does a much worse job of distributing funds and targeting local needs than community-specific outfits that must give local account for their operations.

[Also]...we should challenge Oppenheimer on the way he makes his case. He dislikes Scientology. He’s fit-to-be-tied that the group was given a tax-exemption as a religion. But Scientology is quite different from the vast spectrum of American churches. Oppenheimer has used a tiny group at the margins to deny an obvious truth about the myriad groups at the center. Oppenheimer would nuke a thriving continent to vanquish an unwanted mouse.

He also notes the awkwardness of the IRS determining what is and isn’t a church. But instead of dealing with that problem, he doubles down on it, and encourages exponentially greater government involvement to regulate congregations. A most vexing solution, this. His comments on Yale and universities are in truth a screen to hide his real target: churches, particularly those “that dissent from settled public policy on matters of race or sexuality.”

Here we behold the Oppenheimer Project with unveiled face. It isn’t really about redirecting a few odd dollars and cents currently going to religious nutjobs. It’s about smashing into oblivion those who dare to resist the late stages of the sexual revolution. They no longer deserve to thrive, or perhaps even exist, in this country.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 1, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The danger now is that, just as Greece was once a trailblazer in linking a democratic transition to the European project, so it may become an emblem of a new and dangerous process: the disintegration of the EU. The current crisis could easily lead to the country leaving the euro and eventually the union itself. That would undermine the fundamental EU proposition: that joining the European club is the best guarantee of future prosperity and stability.

Even if an angry and impoverished Greece ultimately remains inside the tent, the link between the EU and prosperity will have been ruptured. For the horrible truth is dawning that it is not just that the EU has failed to deliver on its promises of prosperity and unity. By locking Greece and other EU countries into a failed economic experiment — the euro — it is now actively destroying wealth, stability and European solidarity.

The dangers of that process are all the more pronounced because Greece is in a highly strategic location. To the south lies the chaos and bloodshed of Libya; to the north lies the instability of the Balkans; to the east, an angry and resurgent Russia.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeGreece* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 30, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The body of a dead Liberian man has tested positive for Ebola - the country's first reported case since it was declared free of the disease.

Deputy health minister Tolbert Nyenswah said tests confirmed that the 17-year-old man, from a town near the main airport, had died of the disease.

Officials are investigating how he contracted Ebola, Mr Nyenswah said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineHistory* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaLiberia* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

She was remembered as a tireless woman whose devotion to Mother Emanuel, the church in which she grew up, was second only to her commitment to her family: her husband, the Rev. Anthony Thompson, and children, Kevin Singleton and Denise Quarles. When the lights went out in the chandelier above the sanctuary, she called the Fire Department to replace them. A fixture in the church basement, Thompson had her Bible and hymn book in tow when the Rev. Norvel Goff signed her certificate to preach. That was June 17, the evening of her death. A moment you could say she prepared for her entire life.

“My mother actually prepared me for this day,” her daughter Denise said. “She would often say to me, ‘Dee, Mama isn’t gonna always be around, and I want you to be a good girl and always remember what I taught you.’ ... I told my mom I would do exactly as she instructed me to do, but I never thought she would be gone.”

Thompson was entombed in Carolina Memorial Gardens, wearing clothes from her favorite designer, a St. John ivory jacket and dress her daughter picked out. After the service, as mourners spilled out the front doors and down the stairs of Mother Emanuel, a group had assembled along the iron barricade on Calhoun Street. They were singing “Amazing Grace.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiology

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Posted June 30, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The BIS critique goes like this. Low interest rates have sustained the recovery, but the support is fragile. The economy relies too much on debt, which cannot build forever, and artificially high asset prices (stocks, homes, bonds) may someday tumble from unrealistic levels. A new crisis could be severe because governments have already deployed their standard anti-recession tools: cheap credit and big deficits.

The BIS’s most intriguing point is that a new recession or financial crisis might originate with emerging-market countries: China, Brazil, India, Turkey and the like. Although there has been debt repayment in the United States, the opposite has happened in some emerging-market countries, the BIS says. Private firms have assumed dollar loans worth $3 trillion, even though their “debt servicing capacity . . . has deteriorated.” Will defaults follow?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyEuropean Central BankThe U.S. GovernmentFederal Reserve* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 30, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The critiques of forgiveness in recent days are strikingly similar to the critiques against nonviolence during the civil rights movement. In both cases, some advocates for social justice misunderstood the allegiances of the black Christians they criticized. Dr. King and the Charleston families believed forgiveness and nonviolence are on the right side of history. They believed they would be served well on this earth by those tenets, but also that their reward is in heaven. And, clearly, they saw no conflict between forgiveness and full-throated, sacrificial advocacy for change. People so often underestimate the Christian conviction that the ends do not justify the means. The ultimate goal is not to achieve justice on this world, though we pursue that with all of our souls, but to be faithful to God. We believe, ultimately, that faithfulness is justice.

I do not think I could forgive Roof. Forgiveness is not a burden I would place on anyone in the situation of those families. We should reject all calls from those who wish to sweep under the rug the culture and systems of racism that infect people like Roof. We should reject all calls to make excuses for the evil Roof actively embraced and acted upon. He was no passive actor. He was more than simply a result of cultural, economic, or social circumstances. He had agency. And his actions were evil.

But we should also reject all calls to strip the agency and dignity from the mourning families as well. I am not mature enough in the faith to so quickly pass the burden of judgment to God. But I am inspired by those family members to grow in that direction. I am a Christian because of the black church and black faith. When I was far from God, it was the unashamedly Christian black culture, movies, and music of people like Lauryn Hill and Fred Hammond that introduced me to Jesus. It is the black church that so consistently embodies the confounding, radical love of Jesus. What other American community today displays less shame, less reservation, less self-awareness about proclaiming the Christian faith? I will not turn the Bride of the living Christ into a cultural artifact.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 29, 2015 at 5:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I do not forgive Dylann Roof, a racist terrorist whose name I hate saying or knowing. I have no immediate connection to what happened in Charleston, S.C., last week beyond my humanity and my blackness, but I do not foresee ever forgiving his crimes, and I am wholly at ease with that choice.

My unwillingness to forgive this man does not give him any kind of power. I am not filled with hate for this man because he is beneath my contempt. I do not believe in the death penalty so I don’t wish to see him dead. My lack of forgiveness serves as a reminder that there are some acts that are so terrible that we should recognize them as such. We should recognize them as beyond forgiving.

I struggle with faith but I was raised Catholic....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 29, 2015 at 4:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The result has been an obvious change in tone and emphasis — but not teaching or policy — at many churches. Almost all evangelical churches oppose same-sex marriage, and many do not allow gays and lesbians to serve in leadership positions unless they are celibate. Some pastors, however, now either minimize their preaching on the subject or speak of homosexuality in carefully contextualized sermons emphasizing that everyone is a sinner and that Christians should love and welcome all.

“Evangelicals are coming to the realization that they hold a minority view in the culture, and that on this issue, they have lost the home-field advantage,” said Ed Stetzer, the executive director of LifeWay Research, which surveys evangelicals. “They are learning to speak with winsomeness and graciousness, which, when their view was the majority, evangelicals tended not to do.” A handful of evangelical churches have changed their positions. City Church in San Francisco, for example, has dropped its rule that gays and lesbians commit to celibacy to become members, and GracePointe Church in Tennessee has said gays and lesbians can serve in leadership roles and receive the sacrament of marriage. Ken Wilson, who founded the Vineyard Church in Ann Arbor, Mich., published an open letter calling for a greater embrace of gays and lesbians in evangelical churches. But Mr. Stetzer said they are the exceptions.

“Well-known evangelicals who have shifted on same-sex marriage, you could fit them all in an S.U.V.,” Mr. Stetzer said. “If you do shift, you become a media celebrity, but the shift among practicing evangelicals is minimal.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureRural/Town LifeSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsSupreme Court* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 29, 2015 at 3:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At First Baptist Dallas, where the pulpit was adorned Sunday with red, white and blue bunting to honor the Fourth of July, the pastor called the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling “an affront in the face of Almighty God.”

The iconic rainbow colors that bathed the White House Friday night after the court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide represent “depravity, degradation and what the Bible calls sexual perversion,” the Rev. Robert Jeffress said.

“But we are not discouraged,” Jeffress said. “We are not going to be silenced. This is a great opportunity for our church to share the truth and love of Jesus Christ and we are going to do it.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 29, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Rejected in 2006, and again in 2009, attempts to introduce assisted suicide are now back on the table. This also follows rejection in Wales, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Rob Marris MP has introduced an assisted dying bill that is expected to be largely the same as Lord Falconer’s previous effort, which ran out of time before May’s general election. It is anticipated the bill will make it legal to assist in the death of people who are terminally ill with six months or less to live, provided they are considered mentally competent by two doctors. The change is presented as a compassionate response to tragic situations. Cases of people in severe continual pain make us want to be compassionate, and that is a good thing.

But this is a wholly wrong way to look after the most vulnerable. In fact, it does the opposite, putting them in mortal peril. The law must stay as it is now to protect those who are least able to have their voice heard: the disabled, terminally ill and elderly, people who might otherwise feel pressured into ending their lives. Campaigners to change the law make grand promises for the modesty of their goals, but I don’t believe them. The parameters set out for who could ask for a doctor’s help in killing themselves are ambiguous, open to challenge, and not unanimously supported among assisted dying advocates.

For example, many campaigners would like the law to apply to chronic non-terminal conditions.

Read it all.

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

1 Comments
Posted June 29, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

There a many references to the Diocese of South Carolina statement here if you need it.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* By KendallSermons & Teachings* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted June 29, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almost on cue, there were three different news stories about abortion and Down syndrome around the time of the encyclical’s release. New blood screening, for instance, has resulted in a 34 percent increase in such abortions in Britain. Just a few days later, a Washington Post guest columnist argued such routine and systematic screening — not least because between 67 percent and 92 percent end up aborting — constitutes the formal “elimination of a group of people quite happy being themselves” under “the false pretense of women’s rights.” And then there was the story of the truly despicable company stealing the image of a child with Down syndrome for their Orwellian-sounding test kit named “Tranquility.”

You couldn’t ask for a more revealing practice of the throwaway culture Pope Francis so strongly decries. It doesn’t matter that people with Down syndrome are happier than those who are “normal;” our consumer culture’s tendency is to turn everything into a mere object or tool of the market, and when the object or tool is no longer useful, we simply discard it. These children don’t meet the quality-control standards of the consumer, and so the product simply gets thrown out as so much trash.

But one of the central themes of Pope Francis’s encyclical is that all creation has value independent of its value within a consumer culture. In response to my sharing the three stories mentioned above on social media, an old friend sent me a touching e-mail (parts of which are shared here with permission) about her sister with Down syndrome. She remembers that her family was initially sad and worried — but now, looking back, “it truly made no sense....”

Read it all from Charles Camosy in the Washington Post.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 29, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Dan] Price dropped his salary from about $1 million to $70,000 in order to increase pay for many of his employees.

In the weeks that have followed, Price has received hundreds of messages — some from CEOs who followed suit with similar moves and others from critics who feel the decision will destroy Price's company.

Of all the notes that he has received, the most striking to Price was a stack of 33 letters — delivered by mail — from a class of sixth graders at Woodbury Elementary School in Irvine, California.

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 28, 2015 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:

“Catholic teaching maintains that marriage is a faithful, exclusive and lifelong union between one man and one woman joined in an intimate partnership of life and love—a union instituted by God for the mutual fulfillment of the husband and wife as well as for the procreation and education of children.

“Partnerships of committed same-sex individuals are already legal in California. Our state has also granted domestic partners spousal-type rights and responsibilities which facilitate their relationships with each other and any children they bring to the partnership. Every person involved in the family of domestic partners is a child of God and deserves respect in the eyes of the law and their community. However, those partnerships are not marriage—and can never be marriage—as it has been understood since the founding of the United States. Today’s decision of California’s high court opens the door for policymakers to deconstruct traditional marriage and create another institution under the guise of equal protection.

“Although we strongly disagree with the ruling, we ask our Catholic people, as well as all the people of California, to continue to uphold the dignity of every person, to acknowledge individual rights and responsibilities, and to maintain support for the unique and irreplaceable role of traditional marriage as an institution which is fundamental to society.”

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted June 28, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...in one of the ironies in which the arc of history specializes, while the conservative case for same-sex marriage triumphed in politics, the liberationist case against marriage’s centrality to human flourishing was winning in the wider culture.

You would not know this from Kennedy’s opinion, which is relentlessly upbeat about how “new insights have strengthened, not weakened” marriage, bringing “new dimensions of freedom” to society.

But the central “new dimension of freedom” being claimed by straight America is a freedom from marriage — from the institution as traditionally understood, and from wedlock and family, period.

Read it all (emphasis and article title his).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 27, 2015 at 8:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Let’s also recognize that if we’re right about marriage, and I believe we are, many people will be disappointed in getting what they want. Many of our neighbors believe that a redefined concept of marriage will simply expand the institution (and, let’s be honest, many will want it to keep on expanding). This will not do so, because sexual complementarity is not ancillary to marriage. The church must prepare for the refugees from the sexual revolution.

We must prepare for those, like the sexually wayward Woman at the Well of Samaria, who will be thirsting for water of which they don’t even know.

There are two sorts of churches that will not be able to reach the sexual revolution’s refugees. A church that has given up on the truth of the Scriptures, including on marriage and sexuality, and has nothing to say to a fallen world. And a church that screams with outrage at those who disagree will have nothing to say to those who are looking for a new birth.

We must stand with conviction and with kindness, with truth and with grace. We must hold to our views and love those who hate us for them. We must not only speak Christian truths; we must speak with a Christian accent. We must say what Jesus has revealed, and we must say those things the way Jesus does — with mercy and with an invitation to new life.

Read it all from Russell Moore.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted June 27, 2015 at 8:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Regardless of what a narrow majority of the Supreme Court may declare at this moment in history, the nature of the human person and marriage remains unchanged and unchangeable. Just as Roe v. Wade did not settle the question of abortion over forty years ago, Obergefell v. Hodges does not settle the question of marriage today. Neither decision is rooted in the truth, and as a result, both will eventually fail. Today the Court is wrong again. It is profoundly immoral and unjust for the government to declare that two people of the same sex can constitute a marriage.

The unique meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is inscribed in our bodies as male and female. The protection of this meaning is a critical dimension of the “integral ecology” that Pope Francis has called us to promote. Mandating marriage redefinition across the country is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us, especially children. The law has a duty to support every child’s basic right to be raised, where possible, by his or her married mother and father in a stable home.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 26, 2015 at 12:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“As evangelical Christians, we dissent from the court’s ruling that redefines marriage. The state did not create the family, and should not try to recreate the family in its own image,” the leaders wrote. “We will not capitulate on marriage because biblical authority requires that we cannot. The Supreme Court’s actions pose incalculable risks to an already volatile social fabric by alienating those whose beliefs about marriage are motivated by deep biblical convictions and concern for the common good.”

In the statement, the leaders suggest that the Court’s ruling is part of a negative trajectory on marriage and “represents an aftermath that evangelicals themselves, sadly, are not guiltless in contributing to. Too often, professing evangelicals have failed to model the ideals we so dearly cherish and believe are central to gospel proclamation.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 26, 2015 at 11:57 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Supreme Court on Friday delivered a historic victory for gay rights, ruling 5 to 4 that the Constitution requires that same-sex couples be allowed to marry no matter where they live and that states may no longer reserve the right only for heterosexual couples.

The court’s action marks the culmination of an unprecedented upheaval in public opinion and the nation’s jurisprudence. Advocates called it the most pressing civil rights issue of modern times, while critics said the courts had sent the country into uncharted territory by changing the traditional definition of marriage.

Read it all and the full text of the decision is there.

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

2 Comments
Posted June 26, 2015 at 9:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“As usual, baby names are reflecting a larger cultural shift,” says BabyCenter’s Global Editor in Chief Linda Murray. “Millennials are an open-minded and accepting group, and they don’t want their children to feel pressured to conform to stereotypes that might be restrictive.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropology

1 Comments
Posted June 26, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

....the controversial law still faces a bumpy future. Here are five challenges the ACA will face during the next several years:

Healthcare costs are still too high. As many enrollees are discovering, the “Affordable” Care Act is somewhat misnamed. Healthcare costs continue to rise faster than wages or overall inflation, putting a financial burden even on people who have healthcare. A recent study by the Commonwealth Fund found that 23% of Americans who have healthcare coverage are “underinsured,” meaning their out-of-pocket spending on healthcare is more than 10% of their income in a given year. Deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs have been rising because consumers and businesses have been opting for plans with lower premiums—which usually require the patient to bear more of the cost before 100% coverage kicks in. The irony is that insurance has gotten more affordable, but actual healthcare hasn’t.

The ACA includes several long-term provisions meant to explore ways to lower costs, but they may not be nearly enough to offset other trends pushing costs up, such as the retirement of the baby boomers and the development of expensive new drugs. If Congress ever gets serious about improving the ACA rather that faux-repealing it, cost will be the thing to focus on.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinancePolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The work of the church is not merely to accept those of us who are transgender, asexual, bisexual, lesbian, gay, queer, and intersex. The work of the church is to accept and celebrate that the church—the body—is itself queer. The body of Christ is queer because it isn’t defined or bound by human constructs or binaries. It transcends and subverts norms and boundaries. It contains multitudes. But the body is also queer simply because its queer members are a vital component of its identity. When I was dating a cisgender (i.e., identifying with the gender assigned at birth), heterosexual man last fall, we were in a queer relationship. My queer identity made the relationship itself queer, even though he was straight. The body of Christ is queer in this same way because it contains queer identities.

It is time for the church to sit down nervously at its own Table and confront its internalized queerphobia. It is time for the body of Christ to come out. Some of us who have come out ourselves are happy to be the friend that talks the church through it.

Coming out is not easy. It is not just about moving forward in celebration and inclusion. It is about accepting that in some ways you are just now becoming acquainted with who you really are. It means recognizing you have missed opportunities for relationship, happiness, and growth. It means grieving the years lost to fear and the heartbreak of relationships with loved ones who cannot understand. It means holding with grace the wounds you will always carry.

Read it all.

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


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture


Posted June 26, 2015 at 7:18 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The searing shock and lingering pain inflicted by last week’s mass murder at the Emanuel AME Church hasn’t been confined to Charleston. It has extended across our nation. And Americans’ expressions of sympathy and solidarity have helped bolster our community’s spirit in this time of profound sorrow.

So it’s quite fitting that as our nation mourns the nine good people killed at a Bible study meeting, the president of the United States, Barack Obama, will deliver the eulogy today at the funeral of one of those victims — the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who also was a state senator.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 26, 2015 at 6:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Rev. Norvel Goff will walk into Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church for Bible study keenly aware of the crushing burden now on his shoulders: to be a comforter, a teacher, a man of God and most powerfully, a leader of a church whose heart is heavy with the tragic loss of its senior pastor and eight members.

"Even in the midst of tragedy, we still must press forward, and move forward with the understanding that we can still make this world, this community, and our nation a better place to live by living out our faith, not sitting down on it," Goff said in an interview with The Associated Press.

The 65-year-old Goff was named interim leader of the historic church called "Mother Emanuel" at one of the lowest points in its nearly 200-year history. But the Georgetown, South Carolina, native said the church won't dwell on the past, although the slain included the church's senior minister, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 25, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Felecia Sanders doesn’t remember sliding under the round table in the fellowship hall in the basement of Emanuel AME Church. Nor does she remember pulling her 11-year-old granddaughter down with her.

“It was the hand of God that put me under the table,” she later told friends.

But Sanders remembers the blood on the floor, the whispers to her granddaughter to “be still.” She remembers watching her son, Tywanza, 26, bloodied and clinging to life, crawling toward his dying great “auntie,” Susie Jackson, 87. And she remembers Tywanza reaching out, his last act in this world, to stroke Jackson’s soft, gray hair.

Sanders was one of only three people to live through the massacre at the historic church in Charleston last Wednesday, along with her granddaughter and Polly Sheppard, 70, a church trustee. This week, as the trio prepared to bury nine friends and loved ones — including the church pastor — friends say they are struggling with both immeasurable grief and humility over their improbable survival.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheodicy

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Posted June 25, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The victims' families are struggling with the private business of their own grief, using the language of Christian grace. This starts with the belief that God can forgive all sins. In turn, believers should try to do the same for the sake of their own souls and their own desire to live in harmony with God.

What too many whites seem to demand from these families' statements, however, isn't really grace. As the journalist Jamelle Bouie pointed out, people like Santorum insist on what the German theologian and anti-Nazi freedom fighter Dietrich Bonhoeffer called "cheap grace" — the "preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance" from those who have sinned. The forgiveness they want is so cheap that I can only call it "Wal-Mart grace": low-priced but shoddy, destructive of real community and built on exploitation.

Whatever faith you profess — or don't — grace isn't cheap. It's one thing for a survivor of trauma to tell a handcuffed and doomed perpetrator that you forgive him. It's another thing to forgive those who can still harm you. You don't do that without a good reason to believe that the person who harmed you has changed into someone who will not do so again.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 25, 2015 at 7:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There have been so many deaths, not just of the body but the spirit.

We choose to honor Sen. Clementa C. Pinckney, D-Jasper, the pastor of Mother Emanuel, with public viewings at the State House, in Ridgeland, and in Charleston, and with a eulogy by President Barack Obama. Dubbed the “moral conscience of the General Assembly” before his killing, Pinckney was called to preach at 13, appointed a pastor at 18, elected to the S.C House at 23 and the S.C. Senate at 27.

But we choose not to remember Frazier Baker and his family. Baker was appointed postmaster in Lake City in 1897. But he was black, and the whites objected. Eleven set fire to his home, and as the family tried to escape, shot Baker dead. They shot dead Julie, a 2-year-old in the arms of Lavinia, her mother. Lavinia and daughters Rosa and Cora escaped, each shot in the arm. So did son, Lincoln, shot in the arm and stomach. South Carolina would not prosecute. When the federal government did, a mistrial was called because of a deadlocked jury....

Most whites don’t know these stories and perhaps don’t want to know, too embarrassing, too shaming. Many African-Americans don’t know these stories because their grandparents and parents found them too painful to tell.

It’s time to talk, and without the talk, only a little will change.

Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/news/local/article25330030.html#storylink=cpy

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 25, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Millennials, or America’s youth born between 1982 and 2000, now number 83.1 million and represent more than one quarter of the nation’s population. Their size exceeds that of the 75.4 million baby boomers, according to new U.S. Census Bureau estimates released today. Overall, millennials are more diverse than the generations that preceded them, with 44.2 percent being part of a minority race or ethnic group (that is, a group other than non-Hispanic, single-race white).

These latest population estimates examine changes among groups by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin nationally, as well as in all states and counties, between April 1, 2010, and July 1, 2014.

Even more diverse than millennials are the youngest Americans: those younger than 5 years old. In 2014, this group became majority-minority for the first time, with 50.2 percent being part of a minority race or ethnic group.

Reflecting these younger age groups, the population as a whole has become more racially and ethnically diverse in just the last decade, with the percentage minority climbing from 32.9 percent in 2004 to 37.9 percent in 2014.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchSociologyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentCensus/Census Data* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted June 25, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As Bishop Ernest C. Morris Sr. greeted worshipers arriving for services on Sunday at Mount Airy Church of God in Christ, a woman hurried over and asked a question on the minds of many parishioners at the large black church in Philadelphia: “Bishop, bishop, are we safe this morning?”

The massacre last week at a Bible study in Charleston, S.C., has heightened anxiety among clergy members and the faithful alike, forcing black churches in particular to grapple again with their vulnerability to violent intruders.

But even as ministers around the country report that they are fielding more questions about security, for now at least, there is no rush among churches to follow the path of airports, schools and government buildings that have added metal detectors and armed security guards in the wake of violent attacks.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 24, 2015 at 3:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dear Saints,

South Carolinians and residents of the Lowcountry are reeling from the tragic killings that took place in Charleston last week. The actions of Dylann Roof by no means represent the attitudes or beliefs of most Americans or Southerners, but they do highlight the fact that the sin of racism is still with us as a people and a nation. The one bright spot in this otherwise nightmarish event is the way the people of the “Holy City,” both black and white, have come together in a spirit of unity and forgiveness--a testimony to the power of the Christian Gospel. The rioting and acts of violence that have taken place in St. Louis and Baltimore have not occurred in South Carolina, and people everywhere have been awed by our response. Praise the Lord for the spirit of forgiveness and restraint!

However, wounds are still fresh and old battles have been reignited as a result of this tragedy....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 24, 2015 at 2:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the past, many families like the McDowells, whose household income is almost $100,000 a year, would already be nestled in a starter home, maybe even on the cusp of upgrading to something bigger and more expensive on the profits from their first house.

But even as the market continues to improve — sales of existing homes in May increased to their highest pace in six years, the National Association of Realtors reported on Monday, and first-timers make up 32 percent of the buyers — it is leaving millions of Americans unwillingly stuck in rental housing.

“It’s more of a new normal,” said Robert J. Shiller, an economics professor at Yale University and a Nobel laureate. “We went through a wrenching experience with the biggest housing bubble and the biggest collapse since 1890. This is an anxious time.”

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After decades of bitter debate over whether the Confederate battle flag is a proud symbol of regional heritage or a shameful emblem of this nation’s most grievous sins, the argument may finally be moving toward an end.

South Carolina is leading the way for other states, as it considers removing the flag from its capitol grounds in the wake of a horrific racial hate crime.

The historical poignancy is heavy and resonant, given that the killings last week of nine African Americans took place in a church basement just a few miles from where the first shots of the Civil War were exchanged in 1861. Photos that have since surfaced of the accused killer, Dylann Roof, show him posing with the Confederate flag.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 24, 2015 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Putnam, not first of all a complainer, this time reaches for extremes: “We” and “Our Kids” are not merely confused or apathetic or drifting. We are clearly in crisis. Or the book could get dismissed as one more complaint about social class and the economic debates connected with both, or all, sides of class division in America. Also, it could be ignored by those who tire of nostalgic reckonings about “the good old days;” Some celebrations of them do appear here.

Putnam lovingly invokes the past as he begins with references to his own childhood years and to locales like the town in which he grew up. Winsomely and with clarity he writes about a time when the boundaries between classes were not as defined and drastic as now. But as he looks at the contemporary scene, he finds plenty of reason to describe the class gulf as “in crisis” and the “American dream” not merely fading for millions, but becoming almost irretrievably out of range for their young.

What’s missing, especially for the millions of “Their Kids” in America today? They lack agencies where “social capital”—an old Putnam phrase—is tended to. Voluntary organizations, support groups, clubs, neighborhood places, which encourage bonding and interaction are disappearing from the scene for the millions who cannot advance.

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 23, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Q. Where is the #CharlestonSyllabus hosted, and what kind of measurable response have you seen so far?

A. It’s on the African American Intellectual History Society’s website. Since Saturday, when it went up, it's had over 55,000 views, averaging 900 an hour. It’s gotten almost 20,000 likes on Facebook, 13,000 mentions and 28,000 engagements on Twitter. We’ve had a few trolls who’ve tried to hijack the thread with rants about how the Confederate flag is not a racist symbol but a source of Southern heritage and pride. But over all, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. By Sunday we had about 10,000 suggestions of books, articles, and other documents.

Q. Why do you think that #CharlestonSyllabus resonates in this current moment?

A. I’m a scholar of African-American history, and so I was thinking about this tragedy as a historical event as I was working through my own profound grief and sadness. This is the worst racial massacre since the Reconstruction era. What happened in Charleston is connected to other race riots of the 20th century, but this one is unique because of its explicitly religious and political intentions. We can’t disconnect it from the current moment, the killings of unarmed black people, the surge in white supremacy, and massive resistance to Obama.

Q. Can you say more about why were you so frustrated by news-media discussions surrounding the Charleston shooting?

A. So much of our conversations about race are rooted in emotions and feelings and not knowledge and facts. What I was hearing on the news lacked historical substance.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingEducationRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 23, 2015 at 6:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the spirit of reconciliation, the Confederate flag needs to be removed from the Statehouse grounds.

On Monday, Gov. Nikki Haley gave her support to furling the flag. “We are not going to allow this symbol to divide us any longer,” she said. A growing number of legislative leaders support the idea.

The Legislature has the opportunity to remove the flag before the end of this month’s extended session. It can revise the terms of the session, and vote to bring the flag down.

Do it to honor the nine people who were killed at Emanuel AME Church.

Do it now.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMediaMilitary / Armed ForcesRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 22, 2015 at 7:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

ADHD, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, isn’t just for kids anymore.

Adults in the U.S. have overtaken children in taking medication for the condition and accounted for 53 percent of the industrywide 63 million prescriptions for ADHD drugs last year, according to data compiled by Shire Plc, which makes the top-selling Vyvanse treatment. That compared with 39 percent in 2007, the Dublin-based drugmaker said.

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

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Posted June 22, 2015 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This caption came across my Instagram notifications a few weeks back.

I was curious to see the photo this student had taken to commemorate his experience. I never would have expected a picture of a young man standing in front of a mirror in his bathroom with a bewildered smirk on his face.

Yet there he was, a duck-faced teenager staring at his bathroom mirror, smart phone in hand. What this had to do with how much he loved worshiping Jesus was a mystery to me.

This is the world in which we live, the world of the selfie.

Read it all

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 22, 2015 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As he tugged open the plywood door to his newsstand Saturday morning, Charles Tone turned to one of his customers with a question.

"How can they forgive him?" said Tone, 66. "Man, I don't even know if it can be genuine."

The newsstand at the corner of Manchester and Vermont — the heart of a historically black neighborhood in South Los Angeles — often hums with conversation about politics and sports.

Nationwide on Saturday, people were talking about the massacre of nine black churchgoers, allegedly by a white man, in Charleston, S.C. But among African Americans the subject felt more urgently personal, stirring fear, anger and unease as well as debate about what it means to be black in America.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 22, 2015 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Before he became senior pastor of the Fort Lauderdale congregation, [Tullian] Tchividjian’s church plant, New City, merged with the larger Coral Ridge. Seven months in, a group of church members, headed by Kennedy’s daughter, circulated a petition calling for his removal. Church members voted 69 percent to 31 percent to keep him, but a group of congregants formed a new church in response.

Tchividjian was described by the Miami Herald as a pastor who would focus on specific Bible passages rather than on the news, preferred more contemporary music over the organ, and chose podcasting over broadcasting.

The Hartford Institute for Religion Institute’s database of megachurches lists Coral Ridge as having 1,900 attendees. The church began in 1978 under Kennedy, and its weekly services were televised as the Coral Ridge Hour, reportedly reaching up to 3 million people. Kennedy was a founding board member of Jerry Falwell Jr.’s Moral Majority and developed the popular curriculum “Evangelism Explosion.”

Last year, Tchividjian broke up with the Gospel Coalition, a network of Reformed leaders, over a theological dispute. His popular blog was hosted at TGC and he wrote several books with evangelical publishers Crossway and David C. Cook.

Read it all from the Washington Post.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & Family* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 22, 2015 at 5:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Internet is in danger of turning us all into addicts. Time spent online continues to rise among every segment of the world's population, and becomes more natural to each emerging generation. We're hyper-connected, playing our games, sharing our baby photos and watching TV together in collaborative ways that were unimaginable 30 years ago. Thanks to smartphones we check our social media accounts regularly – and in some cases constantly. Their use has become habitual, rewarding, and incredibly hard to give up (even for Lent).

Calling this 'Internet addiction' however is slightly misleading. It's not online media that's the problem, so much as the way that we engage with it. As we do, we're actually getting addicted to something else.

Dopamine is your brain's in-built reward system. It's a neurotransmitter released when you achieve something; when you complete a work task, submit an essay or complete a run. When it enters the right part of your brain, it makes you feel good; successful; purposeful. It can also be stimulated artificially, for instance through the consumption of nicotine or cocaine....

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingHealth & MedicinePsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 22, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At the June 18 launch of the highly-anticipated encyclical Laudato Si (The Care for Our Common Home), Cardinal Peter Turkson acknowledged a critique that the Church is taking sides on scientifically still-debatable topics such as global warming, pollution, species extinction and global inequality’s impact on natural resources.

“The aim of the encyclical is not to intervene in this debate, which is the responsibility of scientists, and even less to establish exactly in which ways the climate changes are a consequence of human action” he said. Instead, the goal of the document is to promote the well-being of all creation and “to develop an integral ecology, which in its diverse dimensions comprehends ‘our unique place as human beings in this world and our relationship to our surroundings,” the cardinal said, quoting the encyclical.

“Science is the best tool by which we can listen to the cry of the earth,” Cardinal Turkson said, noting that regardless of the various positions, studies tells us that “today the earth, our sister, mistreated and abused.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 21, 2015 at 3:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hundreds of veterans gathered at Fort Stewart, Georgia, to be honored at a homecoming ceremony that eluded them for decades.

Watch it all.

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

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Posted June 21, 2015 at 2:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Emanuel AME Church’s 500 or so parishioners may face a decision to seek God, prayer and support Sunday at the historic black church or elsewhere after an attack left their senior pastor and most of their ministerial leadership dead and their hallowed space violated.

Rev. Joe Darby, a senior AME pastor, said Saturday morning Emanuel AME will likely hold services Sunday but is waiting for official word from authorities. The Charleston Police Department is still investigating the murders of nine parishioners and pastors. Word about the church’s opening could come as early as Saturday afternoon, Darby said.

As of Friday members were not expecting to hold services at their historic Calhoun Street building Sunday.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 20, 2015 at 10:38 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In South Carolina, by act of the state legislature, the Confederate battle flag flies over a Confederate War Memorial on the state Capitol grounds. I can see how some white Southerners genuinely regard the flag and its display as nothing more than honoring the Confederate dead, something that is noble even as the cause for which those soldiers died is not. I think about the one ancestor I know of who fought for the Confederacy. He was a poor country farmer, and almost certainly didn’t carry in his head the idea that he was fighting to preserve slavery (though he ultimately was); chances are he only thought that he was fighting for the people of his state, defending his land against invaders. He really did fight bravely, records show. I cannot and will not be ashamed of that man’s battlefield courage, though I wish he had not devoted his courage to the Confederate cause — which was not solely about maintaining slavery, but which undeniably included that evil end.

The widespread use of the Confederate battle flag during the Civil Rights era, to defend white supremacy, removed the benefit of the doubt that might have been extended to those displaying the flag in memory of the war dead. In other words, modern white supremacists robbed the flag, as a symbol, of a plausible claim of innocence. True, Dylann Roof did not display the Confederate battle flag in his rampage inside the church, but it can’t be denied that the Dylann Roofs of the Civil Rights era, and their fellow travelers, did openly associate that flag with their cause. In light of what just happened in Charleston, and considering things from the point of view of black Southerners, I believe that the Confederate battle flag is simply too tainted as a symbol to be displayed in good conscience anymore.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 20, 2015 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

People of faith need to focus on the moral and spiritual elements of the crisis brought about by rapid climate change, Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba, chair of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, said today in response to Pope Francis's encyclical on the issue.

In a statement issued from Cape Town, the Archbishop said:

"I would like to thank Pope Francis for this historic, ground-breaking letter. I look forward to studying it in more detail.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural Resources* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Now: Could you argue that what’s happening in Belgium is on a continuum with what’s happening in America, that the apotheosis of Caitlyn Jenner and the death of Nathan Verhelst are both manifestations of expressive individualism in action? Yes. Could you trace, with Linker and Tocqueville and others, the roots of both forms of individualism in certain Christian ideas, certain (selectively-chosen) gospel admonitions? Yes again. Could you argue that there’s a clear cultural slope that could take Americans, too, from celebrating the man who transitions to womanhood to permitting his medically-administered quietus in the event that the transition doesn’t work out? One certainly could.

But the two stories still represent very different points on the continuum, two very different places on the path away from Christendom. I look at the celebrations of Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner and see, with Bloom and Wilkinson, a gnostic-influenced Christian heresy; I look at the death of Nathan Verhelst and see Belgian Christianity’s eclipse, disappearance, defeat. I look at the United States, sexually permissive but still deeply conflicted on abortion and moving only slowly toward limited forms of physician-assisted suicide, and see a nation that’s Americanized its Christian inheritance but hasn’t yet jettisoned it. I look at the Belgium, or at least the Belgian medical and media culture, portrayed in the New Yorker and see a social reality to which the term “Christian” no longer meaningfully applies.

Again, where precisely the break happens I can’t claim to know. But in Belgium it seems to have happened; here, not yet. Not yet.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineHistoryLife EthicsReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.EuropeBelgium* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 18, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Time is catching up to me and because of that I am considering a change,” McKissick said Sunday night amid the first reports that he was considering retirement.

McKissick, who has more coaching wins than any other football coach at any level, is 88 years old. He has a world-record 621 wins during his career at SHS.

He coached 10 Green Wave football teams to a state championship.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHistoryMenSportsTeens / Youth* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 17, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Joseph] Stiglitz is also particularly critical of the banking system: “If they (the banks) are too big to fail and they know it, excessive risk-taking is a one-sided bet: if they win they keep the profits, if they lose, taxpayers pick up the tab.” He summarises this as socialising losses while privatising gains.

Furthermore, there is a growing chorus of opposition to lax executive pay habits. Fidelity Worldwide Investment has urged companies make their long-term incentive plans less short term in nature, or face votes against remuneration at annual meetings. Last year the Church Commissioners opposed executive pay deals in two-thirds of the companies where they have a holding.

Adam Smith, said to be the father of modern economics, wrote: “Servants, labourers and workmen of different kinds, make up the far greater part of every great political society. But what improves the circumstances of the greater part can never be regarded as an inconvenience to the whole. No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable. It is but equity, besides, that they who feed, clothe, and lodge the whole body of the people, should have such a share of the produce of their own labour as to be themselves tolerably well fed, clothed and lodged.”(2)

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Archbishop of York John Sentamu* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 17, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Here, roughly, is what we know so far about today’s middle-class children: They seldom walk or bike to school, as generations did before them; they rarely work steady after-school jobs (their new work is strictly of the academic and extracurricular variety, one that doesn’t involve a wage); their time is rigidly structured (play dates, cello lessons, summer internships); their mothers spend more time with them than mothers did with their children in the 1960s, even though most women in the 1960s didn’t work.

When confronted with these facts, it is therefore reasonable to ask: What effect does all this involvement and insulation and scrupulous (some might call it psychoneurotic) programming have on our kids? Is it compromising their resilience in some way, or the firmness of their convictions, or their self-efficacy? Are the very things we view as horizon-stretching in fact resulting in a more circumscribed life?

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychologyScience & TechnologyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 17, 2015 at 3:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After years of infertility, Angel and Jeff Watts found a young egg donor to help them have a baby. They fertilized her eggs with Mr. Watts’s sperm and got 10 good embryos. Four of those embryos were transferred to Ms. Watts’s womb, resulting in two sets of twins — Alexander and Shelby, now 4 years old, and Angelina and Charles, not yet 2.

But that left six frozen embryos, and Ms. Watts, 45, had no plans for more children. So in December she took to Facebook to try to find a nearby Tennessee family that wanted them.

“We have 6 good quality frozen six-day-old embryos to donate to an amazing family who wants a large family,” she posted. “We prefer someone who has been married several years in a steady loving relationship and strong Christian background, and who does not already have kids, but wants a boat load.”

In storage facilities across the nation, hundreds of thousands of frozen embryos — perhaps a million — are preserved in silver tanks of liquid nitrogen.

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 17, 2015 at 11:22 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For an hour or two on a foggy morning last December, some students at the University of Iowa (UI) mistook one of their professors, Serhat Tanyolacar, for a fan of the Ku Klux Klan. Mr Tanyolacar had placed a canvas effigy based on Klan robes, screen-printed with news cuttings about racial violence, on the Pentacrest, the university’s historic heart. The effigy had a camera in its hood to record public reactions.

The reaction among some black students was to fear for their safety, and that is not surprising. What is more of a puzzle—for anyone outside American academia, at least—is that students and UI bosses continued denouncing Mr Tanyolacar for threatening campus safety even after the misunderstanding was cleared up. In vain did the Turkish-born academic explain that he is a “social-political artist”, using Klan imagery to provoke debate about racism. Under pressure from angry students, university chiefs issued two separate apologies. The first expressed regret that students had been exposed to a “deeply offensive” artwork, adding that there is no room for “divisive” speech at UI. The second apologised for taking too long to remove a display which had “terrorised” black students and locals, thereby failing to ensure that all students, faculty, staff and visitors felt “respected and safe”. An unhappy Mr Tanyolacar feels abandoned by the university. He left Iowa earlier this month, when his visiting fellowship came to an end, and has suspended his teaching career.

A crucial word in this tale is “safe”. Campus activists have stretched the meaning of safety from an important but second-order concern—shielding students from serious harm—to a defining ambition for any well-run academy.

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 17, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury has joined faith leaders in Britain pledging to fast and pray for the success of key international negotiations over climate change, in a new declaration warning of the “huge challenge” facing the world over global warming.

Representatives of the major faiths, including Archbishop Justin Welby, said climate change has already hit the poorest of the world hardest and urgent action is needed now to protect future generations.

In the Lambeth Declaration, which will be launched tomorrow, signatories call on faith communities to recognise the pressing need to make the transition to a low carbon economy.

The call comes ahead of the international climate change talks in Paris this December where negotiators from more than 190 nations will gather to discuss a new global agreement on climate change, aimed at limiting greenhouse gas emissions from 2020 when current commitments run out.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural Resources* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted June 17, 2015 at 6:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Appealing to the entire world, Pope Francis urged everyone to read his upcoming encyclical on the care of creation and to better protect a damaged earth.

“This common ‘home’ is being ruined and that harms everyone, especially the poorest,” he said June 17, the day before the Vatican was releasing his encyclical letter, “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home.”

He said he was launching an appeal for people to recognize their “responsibility, based on the task that God gave human beings in creation: ‘to cultivate and care for’ the ‘garden’ in which he settled us.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 17, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a wide-ranging interview on ABC radio yesterday, the Bishop of Grafton Sarah McNeil, spoke of the recent diocesan synod held in Port Macquarie.

Bishop McNeil said members of the synod had discussed a number of political issues, including gay marriage, asylum seeker policy and climate change.

The bishop said the synod decided to assess the views of the congregation on gay marriage in the next 12 months, then to present this to the 2016 synod.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 17, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

This proverb does not have much resonance with Americans. In an age of numerous technological advances meant to save us time and energy, we find ourselves working more than ever. Instead of working fewer hours and taking more vacation, we have freely chosen to do the opposite.

We live by the “American Dream” where anyone can achieve anything if we simply “work hard enough.” Often it means “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” in order to realize your dreams.

While these maxims are not inherently bad, we have taken them to a new level and are working more and playing less. Unfortunately the family has been caught in the crossfire. As we continue to put emphasis on work and “getting ahead,” our families are quickly eroding and falling apart.

Read it all

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

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Posted June 17, 2015 at 4:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Bishop of Buckingham has described the Church of England's teaching that marriage is only between a man and a woman as "a lousy definition".

The Rt Rev Alan Wilson was speaking at a discrimination case brought by Canon Jeremy Pemberton against the Church.

He was refused a licence to work as a hospital chaplain by the then acting bishop of Southwell and Nottingham after he married his partner.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted June 16, 2015 at 4:52 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The infidelity business is booming. In a recent interview, Noel Biderman, the CEO of Ashley Madison, a website for people seeking extramarital affairs, observed, “I don’t see an appetite for unfaithfulness waning around the world.” Indeed, the company has 36 million members in 46 countries and is hoping to launch an IPO in London in the not too distant future.

To what does Biderman attribute the company’s success? “Female equality,” he explained to Business Insider recently. “Women are getting greater equality and are generally getting married later than those in two or three generations ago. They are now more willing to put their marriage at risk. That’s only going to increase because economic conditions for women are better and it gives them more choice.”

If an evangelical pastor had said that, he would have been denounced as a retrograde hick trying to keep women barefoot and pregnant by suggesting that women’s liberation would destroy the traditional family. But Biderman can not only point to his company’s bottom line but also decades of social science research to confirm his suspicions.

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 15, 2015 at 7:18 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Scottish Episcopal Church has taken a major step towards letting same-sex couples marry in church. However the process of change will take at least two years. If and when final approval is given, priests will be allowed – but not required – to celebrate weddings between same-sex partners.

The General Synod voted to ask the Faith and Order Board to look at revising the church’s rules on marriage. An overwhelming majority backed the resolution.

“That would also allow our clergy to enter into same-sex marriages,” said David Chillingworth, the Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, and Primus (chief bishop) of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 15, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I never ascended the blogging ranks like Sullivan or Armstrong, and yet I too recently decided to complete my time as a regular blogger here at Christianity Today to pursue writing of a different sort. Like Sullivan, I yearn to slow down. Instead of creating post after post, I want to focus on writing that allows me more time and thought. Blogging itself—its immediacy, its informality, its conversational tone—is fleeting. There’s always an occasion for another update, another issue to comment on.

With such a transient, “what next?” mindset, bloggers and tweeters may experience what media theorist Douglas Rushkoff calls “present shock.” In his book of the same name, Rushkoff explains, “Our society has reoriented itself to the present moment. Everything is live, real time, and always-on. It’s not a mere speeding up… It’s more of a diminishment of anything that isn’t happening right now—and the onslaught of everything that supposedly is.” Our focus upon the present leads to “narrative collapse,” the end of storytelling, the end of understanding our place in the world as something with a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 15, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The decision by Apple, Walmart, Eli Lilly, Angie’s List, and so on was a business decision—even more, a marketing decision. Coming out in opposition to the Indiana RFRA law was one of the shrewdest marketing coups since E.T. followed a trail of Reese’s Pieces. The decision to #BoycottIndiana was not made because it was the politically courageous thing to do; it was made because it was the profitable thing to do. The establishment could express support for a fashionable social norm while exerting very little effort, incurring no actual cost, and making no sacrifice to secure the goal. It had the further advantage of distracting most people from the fact that corporations like Apple have no compunction doing business in places with outright oppression of gays, women, and Christians. Those real forms of repression and discrimination didn’t matter; Indiana’s purported oppression of gays did.

The public statements, often hyperbolic propaganda about the dire consequences of the Indiana law, were cost-free because gay rights activists have successfully argued that opposition to gay marriage is tantamount to racism. Through a powerful and concerted effort, gay activists have succeeded in convincing the establishment that gays are the equivalent of blacks in Selma, and that their opponents—particularly their Christian opponents—are Bull Connors. There can simply be no brooking bigotry! Democrats like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton conveniently forget their previous support for conjugal marriage, and none of their supporters seek to hold them to account. All that matters is that one now deny that there can be reasonable opposition to gay marriage, and affirm that those who maintain that view are rank bigots. Companies like Apple and Walmart eagerly joined the bandwagon once it was clear that the tactic had worked.

There is a deeper reason for corporate support, however. ­Today’s corporate ideology has a strong affinity with the lifestyles of those who are defined by mobility, ethical flexibility, liberalism (whether economic or social), a consumerist mentality in which choice is paramount, and a “progressive” outlook in which rapid change and “creative destruction” are the only certainties. The response to Indiana’s RFRA law shows very clearly that corporations have joined forces with Republicans on economic matters and Democrats on social ones. Corporate America is aligned with the ascendant ­libertarian portion of each party, ensuring a win for the political, economic, and ­social preferences of libertarianism. In effect, there is only one functional party in America today, seemingly parceled between the two notional parties but in reality unifying them in its backing by financial and cultural elites.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyMediaPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 14, 2015 at 4:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In agreeing to debate the options for canonical change, the church made it clear that it has rejected the status quo on marriage. However, it considered three key options on how to proceed: for the Canon to be silent on the question of doctrine of marriage, for a gender-neutral definition of marriage, or for two expressions of marriage – “one that it is between two people of the opposite sex and one that it is between two people irrespective of gender”. The Synod also considered a “conscience clause”, to potentially preclude clerics from any obligation to solemnise a marriage against their consciences.

The Very Rev Kelvin Holdworth, the openly gay Rector of St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow, stated: “if we are going to build a church in which everyone can thrive…we don’t settle on a definition of marriage that some people can’t agree with. Are there really only two definitions of marriage in this room? It isn’t something that you can define…that’s the end of the story…it’s lived, not defined. What I would like is a statement from the church that affirms the lives of people like me, as a gay man.

“I ask you to vote for a church where we do not try to define what each other believes about marriage.”

The Synod passed the motion with a significant majority in favour of change, and also supported the adoption of a conscience clause.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 14, 2015 at 1:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Caitlyn Jenner may have given Americans a crash course in transgender acceptance. But progressive pockets of Europe are moving toward an even higher plane — embracing what advocates describe as a post-gender world that critics say is leaving no room for women to be women and men to be men.

In Berlin, for instance, fresh rules for billboard ads in a district of the liberal German capital read like a new constitution for a land without gender identity. Girls in pink “with dolls” are basically out, as are boys in blue playing “with technical toys.” In ads showing both adult women and men, females cannot be depicted as “hysterical,” “stupid” or “naive” alongside men presented as “technically skilled,” “strong” or “business savvy.”

Adult women — featured alone or otherwise — must not be shown “occupied in the household with pleasure.” And in one stipulation pounced upon by critics, the equal-opportunity board of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg — home to Checkpoint Charlie and remnants of the Berlin Wall — no longer wants to see images of women “smiling for no reason.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyMenReligion & CultureSexualityWomen* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 14, 2015 at 1:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Consent is obviously vital. Having sex when someone is incapable of true consent, or resorting to force or pressure is wrong and abusive.

But is consent enough? Consent, personal autonomy, and choice are the new holy trinity of modern mores. But they neglect bigger questions, such as whether having sex with someone you have just met is a good idea, even if you are sober enough to walk along a two by four suspended four feet above the ground.

It neglects completely the possibility that you might give consent and then regret it.

As cultural values around sexuality have changed, online and traditional media have amplified and exaggerated the changes, thereby reinforcing and accelerating the pace of change.

Read it all from the Irish Times.

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

0 Comments
Posted June 14, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The saddest part of Campolo’s change of mind, however, is that it will not be enough, as early responses from the gay community already indicate. Even a moment’s reflection on the Bruce Jenner affair or a casual conversation with a teenager would reveal to him that the gay issue is, as far as the secular world is considered, done and dusted. All Campolo has done as an evangelical is modify his sexual ethics to conform to the comfortable, safe, middle-class tastes of modern America. He will shock no-one but evangelicals—and, I might add, only evangelicals unfamiliar with his other work.

As the ever lengthening DNA chain of the LGBTQQIAAP lobby indicates, Campolo is just the latest example of a perennial evangelical tendency on matters of culture: He is a day late and a dollar short. And the people whose community he now chooses to serve will not be satisfied with that. One wonders if even he will be satisfied with it in the long run.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted June 13, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bluebird Bio Inc., a Cambridge, Mass., drug company whose market value has more than doubled to $5.94 billion this year, said Saturday that its experimental gene therapy helped a French teenager with sickle-cell disease go three months without a blood transfusion.

Doctors said the result was an encouraging early sign that gene therapy could work in the disease, but that a one-patient study of short duration made it impossible to draw firm conclusions. Study data on the patient was presented Saturday at a meeting of the European Hematology Association in Vienna.

“It’s a promising start, but it’s not definitive,” said Michael DeBaun, a physician at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, who wasn’t involved in the study. “Three months for patients with sickle cell doesn’t tell us enough about the [treatment’s] potential benefits and risks.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyScience & TechnologyTeens / Youth* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted June 13, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We are living through a period of extraordinarily rapid social change. I was in Dublin two weeks ago. It is the city of my birth. It was a remarkable experience to be there in the immediate aftermath of the Constitutional Referendum on same-sex marriage. One of the most conservative and Catholic countries in Europe voted decisively in favour of this change. No wonder the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin reflected that this called for a "reality check" among the churches.

A number of factors have brought that change about. Ireland's young population certainly made its presence felt. It is clear that people's views are being changed by their life experience. Irish Times journalist Fintan O'Toole referred to the "riveting eloquence" of the passionate advocacy of many. But he also described another kind of articulacy and said this: "What actually changed Ireland over the last two decades is hundreds of thousands of painful, stammered conversations that began with the dreaded words, 'I have something to tell you.' It's all those moments of coming out around kitchen tables, tentative words punctuated by sobs and sighs, by cold silences and fearful hesitations."

So people have been changed by the way in which gay relationships have begun to be in the best sense ordinary. They find it hard to do other than accept those relationships among people whom they love and care deeply about.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 12, 2015 at 7:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Of more than 190,000 abortions, 51 per cent were medical, where a pill is taken to end a pregnancy. Ten years ago medical abortions made up only 20 per cent of procedures, while in 2013 the number was 49 per cent.

The total number of abortions last year was down slightly from 190,800 in 2013, and has fallen every year since 2007. Ninety-two per cent of abortions were performed at less than 13 weeks, and 80 per cent were carried out at less than ten weeks, compared with 60 per cent a decade ago.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyScience & TechnologyWomen* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Wales* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 12, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Please go and check them all out there. David Ould gives a particular plug for the Ashley Null presentations, as does yours truly.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, Worship--Book of Common Prayer* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyPastoral TheologySoteriology

0 Comments
Posted June 11, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The film's title alludes to the opening track of Wilson's 1988 debut solo album. The film delivers both in spades. Mercy is certainly shown to Wilson in the film, which skips the darkest period of his life, a fifteen-year-stretch between 1968 and the transformation that came after Melinda Ledbetter (his wife-to-be) met him. During those lost years, he was in and out of psychiatric hospitals, battling auditory hallucinations, spending much of his time in bed, using drugs, and grossly overeating (his weight soared to more than 300 pounds).

Melinda (played by Elizabeth Banks) is really the central character in the '80s narrative, and her perseverance and genuine concern for Brian's well-being ultimately get him out of his abusive relationship with Dr. Landy. Love & Mercy celebrates the gift of Wilson's music by focusing on his most fertile creative period and the light shining through after almost two decades of darkness. What makes the Wilson story so wonderful is its genuinely redemptive arc. With Melinda he has enjoyed a newfound stability (they've been happily married for 20 years) and a return to the music spotlight with 2004's Grammy-winning Brian Wilson Presents Smile and later with the long-awaited release of the masters for Smile in 2011.

While love and mercy may have both landed in the title, justice is also central to the film. In the scene that generates the largest applause, Dr. [Eugene] Landy is served papers for the lawsuit that ultimately cost him his license to practice psychiatry. That may suggest why Love & Mercy is so compelling. It avoids the formulaic quality of so many recent biopics, but it's not ashamed to tug at our heartstrings. And above all, it captures the joy of creation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & MedicineHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyMovies & TelevisionMusicPsychology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But then, in a very curious paragraph, [Mark] Galli stated:

“We’ll be sad, but we won’t panic or despair. Neither will we feel compelled to condemn the converts and distance ourselves from them. But, to be sure, they will be enlisting in a cause that we believe is ultimately destructive to society, to the church, and to relations between men and women.”

I have to admit that I do not understand how those two sentences can be combined. If the view of the “converts” to same-sex marriage and the acceptance of homosexual partnerships is “ultimately destructive to society, to the church, and to relations between men and women,” how can that distance be avoided?

The reality is that it cannot. This is a moment of decision, and every evangelical believer, congregation, denomination, and institution will have to answer. There will be no place to hide. The forces driving this revolution in morality will not allow evasion or equivocation. Every pastor, every church, and every Christian organization will soon be forced to declare an allegiance to the Scriptures and to the Bible’s teachings on marriage and sexual morality, or to affirm loyalty to the sexual revolution. That revolution did not start with same-sex marriage, and it will not end there. But marriage is the most urgent issue of the day, and the moment of decision has arrived.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are other elements to the spirit of the ages, not just disobedience. The spirit of the ages is not spiritual but materialistic. That is why Nicodemus was confused when Jesus said that he must be born again. Nicodemus stated, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?” No Nicodemus, being born again is a spiritual birth not a physical birth. People confuse the kingdom of this world for the Kingdom of God. There is a bumper sticker that reminds me of this. “He who dies with the most toys wins.” Really, I believe that he who dies with the most toys is the biggest loser. He is the one who can’t pass through the eye of a needle.

Another element in the spirit of the ages is individualism. There are positive aspects to individualism like someone who does not conform to the pressures of society like Rosa Parks. She refused to go to the back of the bus just because she was black. Individualism in its worst form however is narcissism. Narcissists are people that believe the rest of the world is there to make them happy and to adore them. I think we have helped this along with the self-esteem school program called “I am special”. As Christians we are individuals but members of the body of Christ, the church. We all have spiritual gifts unique to each of us intended for service to other members of the body. Individualism may be one of the most dangerous elements in the spirit of the ages because folks believe that being an individual means they have a right to do whatever they please. Once again, the church is pointed at as discriminating and bigoted because we don't condone behaviors legally engaged in by consenting adults. For example, just because Marijuana is legal does not mean that it is not harmful. As the electronic highway signs state, “Buzzed driving is drunk driving.”

Another element in the spirit of the ages is the loss of Truth....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 11, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A woman in Belgium is the first in the world to give birth to a baby using transplanted ovarian tissue frozen when she was still a child, doctors say.

The 27-year-old had an ovary removed at age 13, just before she began invasive treatment for sickle cell anaemia.

Her remaining ovary failed following the treatment, meaning she would have been unlikely to conceive without the transplant.

Experts hope that this procedure could eventually help other young patients.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyScience & TechnologyWomen* International News & CommentaryEuropeBelgium* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 10, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

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

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Posted June 10, 2015 at 4:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dr Freier wrote to Mr Abbott and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten because Parliament may soon consider amending the Marriage Act. Mr Shorten is bringing a bill to introduce same-sex marriage, and two other bills are also planned.

“Should changes to the Marriage Act be legislated, I urge on behalf of the Anglican Church that there be provision made for decisions of conscience.

“Ministers of religion recognised by a church or other religious body must have the right to refuse to solemnise a marriage if in doing so that would contravene his or her religious beliefs or the religious beliefs of the church or other religious body,” Dr Freier wrote.

Read it all.

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Posted June 9, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I’ve just devoured James Rebanks‘ The Shepherd’s Life, which is a fascinating and brilliantly written account of his life as a shepherd on the Cumbrian fells (with a little international consultancy on the side to help with the bills). As near as I can reckon, it tells us non-farmers what it really means to live with that connection to a place and to a way of life which is almost completely foreign to a market society. Looking at it from the outside, why would anyone work so incredibly hard for such little reward? But that question only makes sense when you’re thinking of ‘work’ and ‘life’ as two different things. You contract for work in order to have enough money to get on with the things you really want to do.

But for farmers – or at least for Rebanks – it’s not like that. The life and the living are one and the same thing. You have to make enough money to survive, so you work as cannily as you can to maximise your return. But that’s not the heart of it. Rebooks begins by talking about the way sheep on the fells are ‘hefted’ to a specific area. Even though there aren’t any fences, they know their territory, and that’s where they stay. It’s their space. As a one-time walker on the Cumbrian fells, I can attest to the indignation of a Hardwick sheep when confronted by a stranger carrying a knapsack. One definitely gets the feeling that they’re thinking ‘if I had proper teeth, I’d be after you …’.

Rebooks leaves the reader to makes the connection with himself and his fellow farmers. But they too are hefted to their places. Not necessarily the individual farm, because people move from time to time. But to the area, the territory, they are inextricably linked. A lot of Church of England clergy feel just the same about their parishes.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* General InterestAnimals* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 9, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With Canadian children still failing to meet key physical activity targets, a new report is stressing the benefits of outdoor play and urging adults to give kids more freedom.

After a decade under the banner of Active Healthy Kids Canada, ParticipAction is spearheading the annual Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth.

The latest findings, released Tuesday, paint a dire picture with Canadian kids assigned a D-minus for overall physical activity.

The report card found that 70 per cent of three-to-four-year-olds met early years guidelines of at least 180 minutes of daily physical activity at any intensity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & Family* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 9, 2015 at 6:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Our first parents fell into open disobedience because already they were secretly corrupted; for the evil act had never been done had not an evil will preceded it. And what is the origin of our evil will but pride? For "pride is the beginning of sin." And what is pride but the craving for undue exaltation? And this is undue exaltation, when the soul abandons Him to whom it ought to cleave as its end, and becomes a kind of end to itself. This happens when it becomes its own satisfaction....The devil, then, would not have ensnared man in the open and manifest sin of doing what God had forbidden, had man not already begun to live for himself....By craving to be more, man became less; and by aspiring to be self-sufficing, he fell away from him who truly suffices him.
--The City of God 14.13, quoted by yours truly in yesterday's early service sermon


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

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Posted June 8, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The saddest thing for me as a reader was how, in books on the Bible and sex, Vines and Wilson concentrated almost wholly on the biblical negatives, the prohibitions against homosexual practice, instead of giving sustained attention to the high, (yes) glorious Scriptural vision of sexuality. Both authors rightly say that the Bible calls for mutual loving relationships in marriage, but it points to far more than that.

In Genesis 1 you see pairs of different but complementary things made to work together: heaven and earth, sea and land, even God and humanity. It is part of the brilliance of God’s creation that diverse, unlike things are made to unite and create dynamic wholes which generate more and more life and beauty through their relationships. As N.T. Wright points out, the creation and uniting of male and female at the end of Genesis 2 is the climax of all this.

That means that male and female have unique, non-interchangeable glories — they each see and do things that the other cannot. Sex was created by God to be a way to mingle these strengths and glories within a life-long covenant of marriage. Marriage is the most intense (though not the only) place where this reunion of male and female takes place in human life. Male and female reshape, learn from, and work together.

Therefore, in one of the great ironies of late modern times, when we celebrate diversity in so many other cultural sectors, we have truncated the ultimate unity-in-diversity: inter-gendered marriage.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 8, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A new wave of data-intensive “health tech” companies is drawing talent from the internet world as cloud computing, artificial intelligence and intensive data analysis are brought to bear on health.

Former Facebook chief financial officer David Ebersman last week launched a start-up to crunch data and use analytics to improve the identification and treatment of behavioural health issues such as depression and anxiety.

Data gathered from the sensors in smartphones, as well as an analysis of social activity on sites such as Facebook, could one day be used to improve the diagnosis of mental illnesses, Mr Ebersman said. Other executives at his new company, Lyra Health, include chief technology officer Daniel Tunkelang, a data scientist who previously worked at professional social networking company LinkedIn.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationHealth & MedicineScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 7, 2015 at 4:58 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are, broadly speaking, four ways to fight cancer. You can cut a tumour out, with surgery. Or you can try one of three different ways of killing it. Radiotherapy targets tumours with radiation. Chemotherapy uses chemicals that poison all rapidly dividing cells, cancerous ones included. “Targeted therapies”, as their name suggests, recognise particular features specific to cancer cells.

Singly and in combination, these four types of treatment have contributed to a steady increase in the survival rates for most kinds of cancer. Now they may be joined by a fifth. At this year’s meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), in Chicago, the assembled researchers heard about the latest progress in “immuno-oncology”.

Modern medicine provides every reason to think that the immune system—which, after all, is there to keep the rest of the body safe—can and does attack cancers. People whose immune systems have been weakened, either by disease or by medicines designed to help them tolerate organ transplants, run a greater risk of malignancies. Many risk factors for cancer, such as a bad diet, heavy drinking, stress and smoking are known also to affect the immune system. Exercise, thanks to the boost it gives the body’s defences, can improve cancer survival rates.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted June 7, 2015 at 2:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Cornelius Ryan was a 24-year-old war correspondent when he had a chance to see a defining moment in the defining event of the 20th century -- the Allied landings on the coast of France to retake France and bring down Hitler.

Ryan at first witnessed the invasion from a bomber that flew over the beaches. Then, back in England, he scrambled to find the only thing he could that was going to Normandy. A torpedo boat that, he learned too late, had no radio. "And if there's one thing that an editor is not interested in," he said, "it's having a reporter somewhere he can't write a story."

Recalling those five hours off the coast, watching the struggle on the beaches, he remembered "the magnitude of the thing, the vastness. I felt so inadequate to describe it."

But today, as the 71st anniversary of D-Day approaches on June 6, Ryan is most likely to be remembered for being the one who did describe it, who told so many millions the real story of what happened that day, in his book which became the famous movie, "The Longest Day."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UKEuropeFrance* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 6, 2015 at 8:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It's the end of a tough week in Baltimore. Tensions continue in the Freddie Gray case. And now the murder rate has spiked to a 40-year high. One man who understands well what the city is going through is Kurt Schmoke. He's a native son and was elected as Baltimore's first black mayor in 1987. He served three terms, grappling with high unemployment, poor schools and violent crime.

Now the president of the University of Baltimore, Schmoke shares his memories of the city and his thoughts about moving it forward with Morning Edition.

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 5, 2015 at 4:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. productivity, or output per worker hour, just registered another dismal performance. In the first quarter, it was up a bare 0.3 percent from a year earlier.

That has unfortunately become the norm. Productivity has risen just 0.6 percent on average over the past five years.

"This is the worst five-year run for productivity since the early 1980s, and the worst five-year performance on record outside of a recession," J.P. Morgan economists observed in a client note.

Clearly, there is a problem. The trouble is determining what exactly it is—and what, if anything, to do about it.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe U.S. Government* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 5, 2015 at 3:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Few commentators on either side of the ongoing marriage debate would deny that individuals possess a fundamental right to marry. To do so seems ridiculous today. Marital relationships are, as the Supreme Court first affirmed in Meyer v. Nebraska (1923)—albeit in obiter dictum, an aside unnecessary to the decision of the case—an important part of the happiness that individuals have a natural right to pursue.

It may be a surprise to modern Americans to realize that the Meyer case represents the first notable appearance of the “right to marry” language in the American political tradition or its antecedents in liberal political philosophy. It played almost no role in the Civil Rights Movement beyond its invocation by Chief Justice Earl Warren in the 1967 case of Loving v. Virginia (neither King nor Malcolm X made mention of such a right to my knowledge), it was entirely absent from the anti-slavery movement (Lincoln’s Republican Party was formed, in fact, with the twin policy goals of ending slavery and outlawing polygamy), and it was similarly absent from the revolutionary conflict with Great Britain.

The idea of a fundamental right to marry—not just someone of the same sex, but anyone at all—is a relatively new one. Among those who didn’t think anyone—not just homosexuals, but heterosexuals as well—possessed such a right are John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Abraham Lincoln, to name only a prominent few. Why not?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 5, 2015 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Father [Junipero] Serra spent most of his missionary life in Mexico. However, his greatest legacy was founding California’s first nine missions—there are 21—and the 600-mile connecting trail El Camino Real that runs from San Diego to Sonoma. Dozens of roads and schools, including NFL quarterback Tom Brady’s alma mater, are named in his honor. Generations of California fourth-graders have had to construct miniature cardboard models of the missions.

While being Christianized, natives learned how to cultivate crops, raise livestock, weave clothes, make soap and perform other tasks necessary to sustain themselves. Father Serra was as integral to California’s founding as John Winthrop was to the settlement of Plymouth Bay. Gov. Jerry Brown has hailed the priest as “a very courageous man and one of the innovators and pioneers of California.”

Yet revisionist historians take a dim view of the missions. A fourth-grade state history textbook (which my class used in 1997) noted that “for the people who had lived in California for hundreds of years before the Spanish arrived, the growth of the missions was tragic . . . Thousands of Indians died, and by the end of the 1800s much of the Indian way of life had died also.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryMissions* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologySoteriology

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Posted June 5, 2015 at 11:19 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

J.J. Dossen Memorial Hospital, on the southeastern tip of this nation recently declared free of Ebola, has three doctors and spotty electricity. Sixteen of its 46 nurses left during the Ebola crisis. When two motorcycle accident victims needed X-rays, the hospital dispatched them in its only ambulance on a bumpy eight-hour ride to the nearest facility with a machine.

The deadly disease may have receded, but it is still exacting a heavy toll. Run-down, poorly staffed and equipped health facilities allowed Ebola to explode. Since it was identified in early 2014, the epidemic has claimed the lives of 507 health-care workers in three West African countries, all of which already were short of medical professionals. The health-care system was so overwhelmed with Ebola victims that many other patients couldn’t receive care for malaria, heart disease or pregnancy complications. That bill is coming due.

“There are more people who are going to die from Ebola, but not have Ebola,” says Paul Farmer, a Harvard professor and co-founder of the Boston-based charity Partners in Health.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfrica* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 5, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The European Court of Human Rights has upheld the decision of a court in France to allow a paralysed man to be taken off life support.

Vincent Lambert, 39, has been in a coma for seven years after a motorcycle accident left him tetraplegic.

His family have been split over whether he should be kept alive.

The case was taken to the European court last year after France's highest court had ruled in favour of ending his life support.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 5, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“There are just as many ways of being a nonparent as there are of being a parent,” Daum writes in the introduction. “You can be cool about it or you can be a jerk about it.” Unfortunately, almost all the contributors to Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed—with the notable exception of the English novelist Geoff Dyer, whose genuinely funny and self-aware essay correctly labels regret in life as “the jackpot you are guaranteed to win”—come off as jerks.

The contributors are professional writers, and many of them assume this means they are entitled to be moody, crankily eccentric, or even borderline insane. Being a “creative person,” we are told—please insert your own skeptical cough or two here—apparently excuses a multitude of sins, including regular breakdowns and grown-up tantrums. Being a “creative person” also apparently allows for Costco-sized carts filled with delusions of grandeur and hefty doses of drama. (The proverbial carts of parents, meanwhile, are filled with to-do lists, bulk diapers, and even bulkier cases of wine.)

“Writing had saved my life,” Sigrid Nunez writes in her chapter, “and if I could not write, I would die.” Children, apparently, often make a hash of the world of great art: Young humans, the novelist Lionel Shriver notes, “would have messed up my apartment. In the main, they are ungrateful. They would have siphoned too much time away from the writing of my precious books.” Attention, everyone: It is officially time to get off Lionel Shriver’s lawn. But first, should someone inform her that her cultural influence is likely dwarfed by people like, oh, I don’t know, the fertile founder of Chick-fil-A?

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 4, 2015 at 5:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Human life has reached an inflection point—one that matters a great deal for those planning for retirement.

One hundred years ago, the average lifespan was about 42. That's now doubled. People are living longer and trying to stretch their income to make ends meet and stay ahead of inflation, but that's not the inflection point financial advisors are really concerned about—that's just the everyday blocking and tackling on behalf of client portfolios. The emerging challenge goes way beyond that.

Scientists have found the mechanisms that govern aging and are already doing experiments in rats on how to reverse it. They've found species that do not die of old age, such as the jellyfish Turritopsis.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinanceThe U.S. GovernmentSocial Security* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 4, 2015 at 11:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The husband and wife’s resolute commitment to the irreplaceability of each other with respect to their union—their fides—with all its joyous, self-imposed, exacting rigor establishes a moral environment wherein the child has the security of knowing that their identity and personhood has its foundation within the exclusive devotion between just two people. The child’s life and origin begins in the secret, hidden mystery of love between the man and the woman whose shape is made public in their vows of marriage.

To be clear, my point is a moral one and not about biology per se. But what’s true at the moral level is also true biologically: if either member of the union were replaced, the DNA of the child would obviously come from a different pool. To the extent that matters for the determination of a child’s life—and it clearly matters some—that would be enough to indicate that there is something about being begotten from just those two parents and no others that matters to the child’s future....

If my argument is right, gay marriage is not a revolution; it is simply the final stage of the erosion of eros....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 4, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I ask now that grace be extended mutually between those who disagree on this issue. It is clear that prejudice, largely born out of ignorance and fear, exists against members of the LGBT community, but this does not mean that those who voted No in the referendum want to endorse inequality, restrict freedom or maintain intolerance. I strongly urge Methodist families, small groups and larger fellowships to be safe places where LGBT people feel accepted and loved, able to share their stories freely and be involved in the life of the church.
At the same time the referendum result is not compatible with what the Methodist Church in Ireland recognises as the basis of Christian marriage. Our understanding is that marriage is between a man and a woman and so in the context of weddings within Methodist churches our practice remains that no minister has the authority to conduct the marriage of same-sex partners.
As the government of the Republic of Ireland seeks to frame legislation in response to the result of the referendum I call on it to ensure that church and other faith bodies will not be compelled by law to act contrary to their definition of marriage and I expect the government to engage with the Methodist Church and other churches and faith communities to this end.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 4, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Most Rev. John Neill, the archbishop of Dublin from 2002 to 2011, told The Irish Times “the understanding of marriage in the church has evolved, putting partnership first before procreation”, in which context “there is less of a problem about same-sex marriage”. A Yes result would not affect the church’s teaching on marriage and it could continue “to order [its] own affairs,” he said. But he hoped church thinking would evolve “to take account of this distinction.”

He further stated “we now recognise that there are many different types of unions and I don’t see why they cannot have the protection and status of marriage”. He was also “quite happy this wouldn’t affect the status of children.”

However, the Bishop of the United Dioceses of Meath and Kildare, the Most Rev. Patricia Storey said in a pastoral letter to her clergy it was the effect on children and the family that led her to cast a No vote.

“I believe that civil partnerships give gay people clear civil rights and recognition as people committed to one another, and I fully endorse this. However, I do not think that this requires the redefinition of marriage to uphold it, and I do not believe that marriage should be redefined,” she wrote.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Ireland* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The world economy continues to heal at a disappointingly slow pace, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said on Wednesday, but it predicted that growth should return to a healthier rate close to its long-term goal by the end of 2016.

“Global growth is improving, but it’s not good enough,” Catherine L. Mann, the organization’s chief economist, said in a conference call held before the release of the forecast by the O.E.C.D., the research and policy organization of the world’s richest countries. “It’s a B-minus performance.”

The slow growth has had harmful consequences, Ms. Mann said, contributing to weak labor markets and rising inequality in many countries.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomy* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 3, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The segment is the first one which may be found here. "Summer Ash found that after fighting for a healthy heart, her heart started fighting her in ways she hadn't expected." Really well done and amazing.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropology

2 Comments
Posted June 3, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As an undergraduate at a men’s college, I am constantly bombarded with the culture’s view on sex. Guys see how many times a week they can “score” as though sex were a sport and women the ball being tossed around. Once, a drunken classmate of mine, walking toward his room with a girl he had just met at a party, told me, “Don’t worry, bud. You’ll get there one day.” The implication, of course, was that I would one day have the exciting opportunity to “hook up” with a stranger.

Sadly, in spite of my Christian upbringing, no one ever told me what was wrong with the hook up culture. In fact, sex before marriage was encouraged by much of my Christian family and by the unanimous agreement of my Christian friends, who both mentioned preventing unwanted pregnancies, but never voiced the option of abstinence. What is worse, I never heard about the topic of sex in church. It was not until my involvement with a Christian campus ministry that I heard someone speak against premarital sex using biblical teaching.

This being my experience, I urge the Church, particularly parents raising children in the Church, to speak out on this issue and embrace the God’s intention for sex. Parents, do not make your child wait until he is a legal adult to hear about it from someone else. Talking about it may be awkward, but it could save your child from making a huge mistake and dealing with a lifetime of baggage for it.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureScience & TechnologySexuality* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 3, 2015 at 5:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a series of public correspondence, two professors at Episcopal seminaries discuss what they see as problems with the approach taken by the Task Force on the Study of Marriage in evaluating what the Bible has to say about marriage and sexuality. Dr. Wesley Hill is Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at Trinity School for Ministry and Dr. Garwood P. Anderson is Professor of New Testament and Greek at Nashotah House Theological Seminary.

Read it all by following the links provided. Also this morning there is now this.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychologySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySeminary / Theological EducationTheology: Scripture

6 Comments
Posted June 2, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“My mom and dad didn’t tell us why they were putting us on the train. I thought they were coming with us,” said Clara Fergus, a Cree woman from northern Manitoba to a sharing circle on the morning of June 1, at the beginning of the final event of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). “They put us on the train, and then we noticed they didn’t come with us.”

The train took Fergus all the way to the United Church of Canada-run Brandon Indian Residential School, where she would spend the rest of her childhood having her language, culture and identity stripped from her while suffering “all forms of abuse” at the hands of teachers and staff.

“Being away from your brothers and sisters, being away from your grandparents,” said Fergus. “It’s the love that we missed. The hugs. The nurturing…I can’t imagine…if I sent my kids there, and they had to go through that…”

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has spent the last six years documenting stories like Fergus’s, stories of how the Indian residential school system was set up to enact what Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin recently called “an attempt at cultural genocide.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Culture-WatchChildrenEducationHealth & MedicineHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexualityViolence* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When doctors recommended radiation treatment for my thyroid cancer, they explained the treatment’s side effects. I’d have a very sore throat and lose my voice for about six weeks. I was astounded. What? Lose my voice for six weeks? I’m a pastor! How would I cope?

Challenging days were ahead, not only for me, but also for my congregation. We trust in God, but truly did not know how God would meet our needs during this time. Our little church could not afford to pay for pulpit supply—the members had already paid for three weeks of pastors when I had surgery.

I shared my story with the board of deacons. After time for prayer and discernment, the deacons decided that they would be the pastor’s voice during this time. Six weeks—six deacons—yes, we could do it. The six weeks would cover the season of Advent through Epiphany. We traditionally light the candle on the Advent wreath each Sunday during this season, so we developed themes of hope, love, joy, and peace to go with the candle of the week. The deacons, and sometimes their spouses, signed up for the week of their choice.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 2, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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