Posted by Kendall Harmon

In many ways disagreement is healthy. It shows that people really care about things, and perhaps disagreement is an inevitable corollary of all change: it’s often about who has to change, the cost of change, and who has to pay it.

But disagreement can also be divisive, destructive and dangerous to our health, both individually and collectively. It can disguise the many things we do agree about; it can distort people’s understanding of what being a Christian means; and it can dismay and divert those who would otherwise join us.
If disagreement is inevitable then we have to learn to do it better. This suggests finding ways that enable us to understand fully what we disagree about, and why.

These notes set out some ways to help us turn debate and confrontation into dialogue, empathy, shared understanding and the commitment to love each other even when – perhaps especially when – we are deeply opposed.

Read it all (15 page pdf).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 21, 2016 at 3:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Europe's growing army of robot workers could be classed as "electronic persons" and their owners liable to paying social security for them if the European Union adopts a draft plan to address the realities of a new industrial revolution.

Robots are being deployed in ever-greater numbers in factories and also taking on tasks such as personal care or surgery, raising fears over unemployment, wealth inequality and alienation.

Their growing intelligence, pervasiveness and autonomy requires rethinking everything from taxation to legal liability, a draft European Parliament motion, dated May 31, suggests.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentSocial Security* International News & CommentaryEurope* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 21, 2016 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Whether in this referendum or in politics in the coming years, the task of the church is to be incarnate. Politicians of all stripes are sons and daughters of God. They are created in his image, and are given authority by the Creator of all things.

We must be present. It was what Jo Cox was doing when she was killed. She was present in her community; she was listening to those who elected her; she was serving on the front line. That’s a place of mission if ever I saw one.

The church should be a place of reconciliation and of healing. It should be a place where battling sides can come together, and where disagreement is not final.

And evangelical Christians should be the first to step up to serve in politics in a world that has never needed leadership as much as it does today.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 20, 2016 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We need to swap the Romantic view for a tragic (and at points comedic) awareness that every human will frustrate, anger, annoy, madden and disappoint us — and we will (without any malice) do the same to them. There can be no end to our sense of emptiness and incompleteness. But none of this is unusual or grounds for divorce. Choosing whom to commit ourselves to is merely a case of identifying which particular variety of suffering we would most like to sacrifice ourselves for.

This philosophy of pessimism offers a solution to a lot of distress and agitation around marriage. It might sound odd, but pessimism relieves the excessive imaginative pressure that our romantic culture places upon marriage. The failure of one particular partner to save us from our grief and melancholy is not an argument against that person and no sign that a union deserves to fail or be upgraded.

The person who is best suited to us is not the person who shares our every taste (he or she doesn’t exist), but the person who can negotiate differences in taste intelligently — the person who is good at disagreement. Rather than some notional idea of perfect complementarity, it is the capacity to tolerate differences with generosity that is the true marker of the “not overly wrong” person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition.

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 20, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Behind closed doors and in groups of up to 20, bishops, priests and lay members will discuss their views on homosexuality when General Synod, the church’s parliament, meets in York from July 8.

David Porter, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s adviser organising the “shared conversations”, admitted that they would not prevent a split within the church over...[same-sex marriage], but said that clerics should be judged on “how we fracture”.

To that end, the church has produced a manual entitled Grace and dialogue: shared conversations on difficult issues, which says that the debate over sexuality is damaging the Church of England and putting off those who might consider joining.

Read it all (subscirption only)

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

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Posted June 19, 2016 at 3:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the story of how celebrated Harvard scholar Karen King, author of books such as The Gospel of Mary of Magdala, was duped really gets thick. It involves East Germany, BMW brakes, porno films, antiquities scholarship, and an academic fitting the evidence to her prejudices. Really, it’s a story worthy of Werner Herzog. I’m not giving away too much when I say that the papyrus is clearly a fake and proves nothing about Jesus’s marital status.

The Catholic Church puts an enormous amount of emphasis upon marriage. Isn’t this odd for a tradition that was founded upon the teachings of a celibate Messiah? What could celibates know about marriage and sexuality?

Most Catholics have probably heard a millions versions of these questions from people with smug looks on their faces. It is the sort of look that says “I’ve caught the simpletons in a massive contradiction. Let’s watch them squirm.”

My preliminary surveys indicate some, not all, Catholics might be surprised that the perfectly orthodox (small “O”) answer to this question is that there’s nothing odd about the Catholic obsession with marriage, because Jesus is married as well. No, I’m not talking about Swedenborg’s The Delights Of Wisdom Pertaining To Conjugial Love where people get married in heaven. This is different and decidedly not heterodox.

Read it all (from Patheos) and take special note of Addison Hart (yes, the brother of David Hart) and his new book The Woman, the Hour, and the Garden: A Study of Imagery in the Gospel of John.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchBooksHistoryMedia* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 18, 2016 at 10:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




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

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Posted June 17, 2016 at 11:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But what we need most is not declarations of the undoubted meaning of the catastrophe, but lament. We need not commentary, but poetry.

The causes of this kind of calamity lie not simply with a lack of the adequate laws, or with the blaming or this or that group. What hidden rage could possibly cause an individual to murder without compassion or sorrow fifty of his fellow creatures? It cannot be reduced to one simple strand. It is, like most evil, absurd.

We want to generalise - to read the event in the light of cultural themes that are familiar to us - when what happened is filled with hideous and strange particularities.

What the word "tragedy" allows us to do is to sit in the dust bewildered at what has happened; to recognise that others are in agony, and that as human beings, we have been spared that agony not because we are virtuous, but because - this time - our group wasn't in the frame.

The sixteenth century poet Sir Phillip Sidney wrote of tragedy that it

teacheth the uncertainety of this world, and upon how weake foundations guilden roofes are builded.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSexualityUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheodicy

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Posted June 15, 2016 at 7:52 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Coffee drinkers have gotten some good news.

Twenty-five years after classifying coffee as a possible carcinogen leading to bladder cancer, the World Health Organization’s cancer research arm has reversed course, saying on Wednesday that coffee is not classifiable as a carcinogen.

The organization also said that coffee has no carcinogenic effects on other cancers, including those of the pancreas and prostate, and has even been seen to reduce the risk of liver and uterine cancers.

The agency is finally joining other major research organizations in those findings. Numerous studies in recent years have shown no conclusive link between cancer and coffee and have actually shown protective benefits in certain types of cancer.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted June 15, 2016 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some people receive constant reminders on their smartphones: birthdays, anniversaries, doctor’s appointments, social engagements. At work, their computers prompt them to meet deadlines, attend meetings and have lunch with the boss. Prodding here and pinging there, these pop-up interruptions can turn into noise to be ignored instead of helpful nudges.

Something similar is happening to doctors, nurses and pharmacists. And when they’re hit with too much information, the result can be a health hazard. The electronic patient records that the federal government has been pushing — in an effort to coordinate health care and reduce mistakes — come with a host of bells and whistles that may be doing the opposite in some cases.

What’s the problem? It’s called alert fatigue.

Read it all.


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

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Posted June 14, 2016 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireSexualityUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheodicy

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Posted June 12, 2016 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jason Carrier, a pastor at Southgate Baptist Church, which, like Mr. Drewery’s church, is in Springfield, Ohio, is trying to help his church start a “grace-based lending” program that worshipers can use in place of payday lending. The program would direct any fees charged above the principal into savings accounts for the borrower, not into lenders’ pockets.

“In conjunction with a credit union, the money — for lack of a better word, we’ll call it interest — goes into a savings account, so they are learning to save money,” Mr. Carrier said. “To use the service, you have to take some classes, and you have a financial coach that will help you and walk with you along the way.”

Mr. Carrier’s church has already tested its program with several needy members. Ultimately, he said, he would like to directly challenge the payday lenders. “We’d like to have a storefront, just like your Check ’n Gos, but with space in the back for classes and financial coaching.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryAdult EducationMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 11, 2016 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mpho Tutu-van Furth had to give up her priest’s licence last month when she married a woman. But she believes the Anglican Church of Southern Africa will — with a little divine intervention — come to embrace same-sex marriages....

In May in Franschhoek‚ Tutu married Professor Marcelina van Furth‚ a paediatrician who researches infectious diseases at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. The union had the blessing of her parents‚ Archbishop Emeritus Desmond and Leah Tutu.

Van Furth is an atheist – but this has not posed a problem. “It seems to work quite well‚” says Tutu-Van Furth. “I respect her atheism‚ and she's interested in Christianity. She comes to church with me‚ sits in a pew‚ listens to the teaching and asks me about it. She sinks into being a peaceful place and meditates while I pray‚ and that's also fine....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Southern Africa* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSouth Africa* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 11, 2016 at 12:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a nod to changing times, the Anglican Church of Canada’s latest report on physician-assisted dying, rather than opposing the practice, recognizes it as a reality. The report offers reflections and resources around assisted dying and related issues, such as palliative care.
The Supreme Court of Canada struck down last year a ban on physician-assisted death for the “grievously and irremediably ill” as unconstitutional, notes the paper, entitled In Sure and Certain Hope: Resources to Assist Pastoral and Theological Approaches to Physician Assisted Dying, released Thursday, June 9.

In the wake of this decision, the paper states, “public debate concerning the legal ban on physician assisted dying is in some ways over.”

As a result, the authors continue, “our energy is best spent at this time ensuring that this practice is governed in ways that reflect insofar as possible a just expression of care for the dignity of every human being, whatever the circumstances.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 11, 2016 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a letter released after the vote, the Gafcon UK Panel of Bishops said they offered "to provide alternative episcopal oversight, and thereby your recognition as faithful Anglicans by the worldwide Gafcon movement, which represents the majority of Anglicans worldwide".

The letter was signed by four bishops on behalf of Gafcon UK's panel and four other Anglican clergymen.

Written before the vote, it was released by the traditionalist Scottish Anglican Network in the immediate aftermath of the decision. It said the SEC was "dividing the church" over the issue of gay marriage and promised to "stand united with faithful Anglicans in Scotland seeking to uphold the plain doctrinal and moral teaching of the Holy Scriptures".

Read it all from Christian Today.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal ChurchSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 10, 2016 at 4:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The range of culprits is quite large.

Some blame widening U.S. income and wealth inequality. Others point the finger at the fall in religious adherence or cite the increase in education and income of women, making women choosier about whom to marry. Still others focus on rising student debt and rising housing costs, forcing people to put off marriage. Finally some believe marriage is simply an old, outdated tradition that is no longer necessary.

But given that this is a trend happening across the globe in a wide variety of countries with very different income, religious adherence, education and social factors, it’s hard to pin the blame on just a single culprit.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationMarriage & FamilySociology* Economics, PoliticsEconomy* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 10, 2016 at 3:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church has today passed a first reading of a change to its Canon on marriage (Canon 31). The change is to remove from the Canon the doctrinal statement regarding marriage that marriage is to be understood as a union “of one man and one woman.”

A first reading of the change is the first step in a process and does not represent a final decision. The proposed change now passes from the General Synod to the Church’s seven dioceses for discussion and comment in their Diocesan Synods in the coming year. The opinions from the dioceses will then be relayed back to the General Synod which will be invited to give a second reading of the Canon in June 2017. At that stage, for a second reading to be passed, it must achieve a majority of two thirds in the “houses” of bishops, clergy and laity within the General Synod. The change to the canon would include a conscience clause ensuring that clergy opposed to the change are not required to marry people of the same sex.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyRural/Town LifeSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 10, 2016 at 2:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Scottish Episcopal Church's General Synod has made the first steps of any Anglican Church in the UK towards allowing gay marriage in church.
The synod voted that a change to its Canon law governing marriage should be sent for discussion to the church's seven dioceses.
A further vote will happen at next year's synod.
The proposal would remove the doctrinal clause which states that marriage is between a man and a woman.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyRural/Town LifeSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 10, 2016 at 9:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What we heard today is that the question has been asked of the Archbishop of Canterbury as to what, if any, the consequences of making this change might be. It would appear that the only consequence is very personal to the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

He met Justin Welby two weeks ago and was told directly by him that if the Scottish Episcopal Church goes ahead and makes this change then the Primus will himself be personally removed by the Archbishop from leading the World Anglican-Reformed Dialogue – an ecumenical series of international meetings.

It seems to me that we have come to a new place if the Archbishop of Canterbury is going to personally threaten the Primus of a province of the Anglican Communion if that province makes a decision.

There were a number of people at this afternoon’s synod meeting proudly wearing badges that said: “The Archbishop of Canterbury hath no jurisdiction in this realm of Scotland”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal ChurchSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted June 10, 2016 at 5:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two weeks ago, I went to London and met with Archbishop Justin specifically to ask the question, 'Will this also apply to us if we complete the process of Canonical change in 2017?' The answer is that it will. Most directly, I will be removed from the role of Anglican Co-Chair of the International Anglican-Reformed Dialogue. But other effects are limited. Our bishops will be present and fully involved in the Lambeth Conference planned for 2020. We shall continue to be actively involved in our network of Diocesan Companionships and in the Anglican Networks.

Let me try and explain to you what has happened and what has changed.

The Anglican Communion does not have a central authority, The Provinces - of which our own SEC is one - are autonomous. But clearly we owe a duty and respect to other Provinces, We sometimes say 'autonomous and interdependent'. That delicate balance becomes stressed when Provinces which live in very different contexts address the changing context in which they live in very different ways.

The Global North is experiencing massive social change in respect of human sexuality - not that the church simply follows that. The Global South - and in particular Sub-Saharan Africa - remains deeply conservative and is under pressure from the Islamisation of Africa. The legacy of colonialism makes measured and respectful dialogue very difficult. Different understandings of collegiality and leadership confuse expectations about how issues will be addressed.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican PrimatesPrimates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016Anglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal ChurchSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted June 9, 2016 at 5:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It has been learned today that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has privately threatened to sack the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, David Chillingworth, from ecumenical dialogue if members of the church’s General Synod do not do as they are told with respect to same-sex marriage.

This will be an extension of the sanctions applied to the Episcopal Church of the United States of America by the Primates’ Meeting in January of this year, after ECUSA agreed to acceptance of marriage equality within their own province.

It is fair to say that this communication to our Primus came as a surprise to members of our own General Synod.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted June 9, 2016 at 1:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In closing, I would like to make three final observations. First, I keep being told that there are ‘good arguments’ for the Church to change its teaching on this issue. If there are, then where are they? Jeffrey John is a leading figure in this debate, so how come he offers us here such a poorly researched, implausible and incoherent case? Why is the case being made by SEC, a sister church in the Communion, so thin?

Secondly, what is Jeffrey John doing from the pulpit? He consistently makes the claim that texts ‘must mean this’ when they probably don’t, that Paul ‘certainly would have thought this’ when the majority think he wouldn’t, and that ‘this is what Jesus does’ when the gospels writers suggest the opposite. It is one thing to make a case, even a contentious one; it is quite another to disguise from your listeners that there is another possibility. It is a bit like saying ‘I am not interpreting the Bible; I am simply telling you what it says.’ It is a naked power play, and is wrong whoever does it. Some would call this dishonest; others might label it deceptive. It doesn’t seem to me to be a legitimate way to feed sheep....

Read it all.

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

Update: Robert Gagnon has written on the passage in question there.

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


Posted June 9, 2016 at 7:48 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“While Athenian philosophy was in many respects quite distant from the political cosmologies that characterized the great Near Eastern empires,” writes Yoram Yazony (The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture), “it continued to develop their view of man as being essentially a creature of the state that governs him, and of ethics as a discipline that aims to understand how the virtuous individual goes about contributing to the good of this state” (132).

On this point, the ethics of the Hebrew Bible diverges quite radically: “The very first instruction that the God of Israel issues to Abraham is the command to leave the country of his birth and to sever his ties with it - just that which Socrates presented as being unthinkable.” Other biblical heroes find themselves in similar positions, often standing outside or against the established powers: “virtually all of [them] are portrayed as being in a condition of acute conflict with the rulers of the nations in which they live, and as disobeying their laws and commands almost as a matter of course. Indeed, it often seems as if the authors of the biblical narratives believe that the laws of states, and the commands of the kings who rule them, are no better than empty words, bearing no normative force whatsoever” (132). Hazony doesn't believe this is the case, but the theme of resistance to power is striking.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted June 9, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The most disheartening section of the [Anglican Church of Canada's] report comes in its treatment of the words of our Lord in Mark 10:1-10 and Matthew 19:1-9. Whatever the motivation may have been, the report circumvents a straightforward reading of Scripture. In his disputes with the Pharisees regarding divorce, Jesus invokes the original purpose of God in establishing marriage: namely, to create an indissoluble bond between man and woman. The report comments on these passages (5.2.3.2):
Jesus refuses to be entrapped, and yet also refuses to make a new law; rather, he challenges the “hardness of heart” reflected in both casual and utilitarian practices of divorce and remarriage in the Hellenistic world. Jesus is therefore not stating a timeless doctrine of marriage, but rather giving a pastoral (and political) response to a particular set of practices.
The first sentence in this paragraph is on the right track. Jesus doesn’t fit into the casts forced upon him by some contemporary rabbinic positions regarding divorce. He does not make a “new law” either; in fact he simply reiterates a very old “law,” one going all the way back to creation in Genesis 1 and 2. Further, the report is correct in noting that Jesus probably was concerned about “a particular set of practices,” not least the permissive attitude toward divorce that was common at the time.

It does not follow, however, that Jesus is “not stating a timeless doctrine of marriage.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 9, 2016 at 5:55 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The leader of the Scottish Episcopal Church has conceded that a vote on same-sex marriage this week risks putting it at odds with the remainder of the Anglican Communion.

The Most Rev David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, said the potential split was “a very serious issue” for the Scottish church but added that all sides were committed to maintaining unity.

Members of the church will be asked on Friday to consider a change to canon law, which currently states that marriage must be between a man and a woman, at its General Synod.

Read it all from the (London) Times (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Scottish Episcopal ChurchSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted June 8, 2016 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...63-year-old [Phyllis Swenson of] Fairfax, Virginia, resident is among millions of Americans who haven’t rebounded with the improving U.S. economy. Part-time work at Vienna Presbyterian doesn’t pay all her bills, and almost a year of futile job-hunting has left her desperate.

“Recovery?” she scoffs. “How are we recovering?”

The labor market has staged a strong comeback: Unemployment is 4.7 percent, down from 9.5 percent when the economy started expanding in June 2009. Employers have added an average 150,000 jobs a month this year, though May slowed to just 38,000. The rate at which people quit, a handy measure of job mobility, is trending up.

Yet some Americans still feel a deep sense of betrayal. Their journey back to meaningful work has been brutal -- if they even arrived -- leaving them with depleted savings, increased debt, homes lost to lenders and for some, long searches that stripped away their most valuable possession: self-esteem. Many who did find jobs now earn less, with fewer benefits.

This has helped fuel Donald Trump’s improbable rise and Bernie Sanders’s strong challenge to Hillary Clinton. Thousands cheer at rallies when the Republican front-runner claims he’ll put people back to work and the Democratic contender rails against income inequality.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 8, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This world is no friend to grace…The world is protean: each generation has the world to deal with in a new form. World is an atmosphere, a mood. It is nearly as hard for a sinner to recognize the world’s temptations as it is for a fish to discover impurities in the water. There is a sense, a feeling, that things aren’t right, that the environment is not whole, but just what it is eludes analysis. We know that the spiritual atmosphere in which we live erodes faith, dissipates hope and corrupts love, but it is hard to put our finger on what is wrong….

People submerged in a culture swarming with lies and malice feel as if they were drowning in it: they can trust nothing they hear, depend on no one they meet. Such dissatisfaction with the world as it is is preparation for traveling in the way of Christian discipleship. The dissatisfaction, coupled with a longing for peace and truth, can set us on a pilgrim path of wholeness in God.

Read it all (with our thanks to TS).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)Theology: Scripture

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Posted June 7, 2016 at 3:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A discussion paper 'Thinking Afresh About Welfare' has been released today by the Church of England.

The paper, by Rev Dr Malcolm Brown, Director of the Mission and Public Affairs Division of Archbishops' Council, was endorsed by the May meeting of the House of Bishops as a discussion document.

Read it all and follow the link for the full paper.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinancePolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 7, 2016 at 3:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Of special interest is the "Faith and Order Board Doctrine Committee Paper on the Theology of Marriage" which starts on numbered page 20--take a look.

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

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Posted June 6, 2016 at 10:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is one church separated by a border - but this week Anglicans in the Church of England and in the Scottish Episcopal Church face falling out over the issue of same-sex marriages.

In the progressive corner is the Scottish Episcopal Church - in effect the Anglican church in Scotland - which is preparing to vote for clergy to be allowed to carry out same sex marriages. Meanwhile, its southern neighbours, the Church of England, is on the reactionary side, opposing any such move.

Members of the Scottish Episcopal Church will be asked if they back a change to canon law which currently states that marriage must be between a man and a woman, at the Church’s General Synod in Edinburgh on Friday.

Read it all from The Herald.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Scottish Episcopal Church* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 6, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A key feature of American exceptionalism has been the propensity of Americans to create voluntary organizations for dealing with local problems. Tocqueville was just one of the early European observers who marveled at this phenomenon in the 19th and early 20th centuries. By the time the New Deal began, American associations for providing mutual assistance and aiding the poor involved broad networks, engaging people from the top to the bottom of society, spontaneously formed by ordinary citizens.

These groups provided sophisticated and effective social services and social insurance of every sort, not just in rural towns or small cities but also in the largest and most impersonal of megalopolises. To get a sense of how extensive these networks were, consider this: When one small Midwestern state, Iowa, mounted a food-conservation program during World War I, it engaged the participation of 2,873 church congregations and 9,630 chapters of 31 different secular fraternal associations.

Did these networks successfully deal with all the human needs of their day? No. But that isn’t the right question. In that era, the U.S. had just a fraction of today’s national wealth. The correct question is: What if the same level of activity went into civil society’s efforts to deal with today’s needs—and financed with today’s wealth?

The advent of the New Deal and then of President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society displaced many of the most ambitious voluntary efforts to deal with the needs of the poor. It was a predictable response. Why continue to contribute to a private program to feed the hungry when the government is spending billions of dollars on food stamps and nutrition programs? Why continue the mutual insurance program of your fraternal organization once Social Security is installed? Voluntary organizations continued to thrive, but most of them turned to needs less subject to crowding out by the federal government.

This was a bad trade, in my view.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceTaxesThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted June 4, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Minnesota medical examiner says Prince died of an accidental fentanyl overdose.

The report from the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office was issued Thursday, more than a month after the music superstar was found dead at age 57 at his Paisley Park mansion.

The single-page report said Prince "self-administered fentanyl," referring to a synthetic opioid many times more potent than heroin.

Read it all and Get Religion asks pertinent questions about it there.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & MedicineMusic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 2, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the United States, nearly one-third of adults, about 76 million people, are either “struggling to get by” or “just getting by,” according to the third annual survey of households by the Federal Reserve Board.

That finding, dismal though it is, represents a mild improvement in general well-being last year, compared with the two years before. The improvement, however, was clearly too little to raise Americans’ spirits: The new survey, which was conducted in late 2015 and released last week, also shows that optimism about the future has tempered.

The Fed policy committee should take the survey to heart when it meets this month to decide whether to raise interest rates. Higher rates are a way to slow an economy that is at risk of overheating — a far-fetched proposition when tens of millions of Americans are barely hanging in there.

Read it all from the New York Times.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 2, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The pre-war Pastor Matthew Williams had gone to seminary, was ordained and thought he understood why people suffer. “God allows suffering because this world is temporary,” is how he would have put it.

Then came two deployments as an Army chaplain, one to Afghanistan and one to Iraq. Williams spent a year in an Afghanistan morgue unzipping body bags and “seeing your friends’ faces all blown apart.” He watched as most of the marriages he officiated for fellow soldiers fell apart. He felt the terror of being the only soldier who wasn’t armed when the mortars dropped and bullets flew.

This Memorial Day weekend, Williams is no longer an active-duty military chaplain nor a United Church of Christ minister. He is a guitar player on disability whose outlook on God, religion and suffering was transformed by post-traumatic stress.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryIraq WarWar in Afghanistan* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheodicy

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Posted June 2, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A universal cancer vaccine is on the horizon after scientists discovered how to rewire immune cells to fight any type of disease.

The potential new therapy involves injecting tiny particles of genetic code into the body which travel to the immune cells and teach them to recognise specific cancers.

Although scientists have shown previously that is it is possible to engineer immune cells outside the body so they can spot cancer it is the first time it has happened inside cells.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineHistoryMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 1, 2016 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Once he was declared autistic, it didn’t feel like our relationships were narrowing; it felt like they were expanding—making room for a God-knit little boy who isn’t typically developing. I felt relieved. My heart swelled with joy for who my son is. We felt peace.
That night, we ate cake. We commemorated the end of one journey and the beginning of another. We rejoiced over the fact that doors to much-needed therapy would finally open. We affirmed the personhood of an autistic little boy; we celebrated the face of a boogeyman.
Declan has big brown eyes set into a round face. His smile, when he graces you with it, is angular and cheesy. He spins in circles, around and around like a colorful top. He loves music. His hands flutter like the steady thrum of a heartbeat, clasping and unclasping with rhythmic beauty. The only unprompted observation he has ever made about God was informed by his obsession with circles:
“Look—circle!” he exclaimed from the backseat.

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 1, 2016 at 11:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At the recent General Conference, talk of a formal church split became more salient. A prominent self-professed centrist pastor suggested a three-way division among liberals, moderates and conservatives. Some liberal voices, frustrated by their declining influence, for the first time publicly sympathized with schism. A formal church split appeals to some as the ostensibly easy solution to nearly half a century of conflict over sexuality.

Except there would be little easy about it. Most United Methodist congregations are not homogeneously liberal or conservative or even centrist. A typical local church has a wide range of perspectives, reinforced by the denomination’s clergy appointment system, in which liberal clergy often are appointed by bishops to more conservative churches, and vice versa. A formal denominational schism would likely mean anguishing division in thousands of United Methodism’s more than 30,000 congregations, accompanied by years of litigation. The ultimate winners would be few.

Maybe such a cataclysmic denominational split for America’s third largest church eventually will occur. (A thoughtful proposal at this year’s General Conference allowing liberal churches that dissent from church teaching on sexuality passed in committee, but it got no plenary vote because of deferral of sexuality legislation to the bishops.) Some hope that the bishops’ new study commission on sexuality will propose formal division.

I expect and prefer a less disruptive scenario....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* Resources & Links* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted June 1, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bob Collymore, the CEO of Kenya's largest cell phone provider, Safaricom, says his company sought to solve the problem. While a majority of Kenyans don't have a bank account, eight in 10 have access to a cell phone. So in 2007, Safaricom started offering a way to use that cell phone to send and receive cash. They call it M-PESA: m stands for "mobile;" "pesa" is money in Swahili.

Bob Collymore: It is often referred to as Kenya's alternative currency. But safer and more secure.

Lesley Stahl: You're texting money?

Bob Collymore: You are effectively texting money.

Read or watchit all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPovertyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAfricaKenya* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 1, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The 2015 report (due out quite soon) will be much more specific about the particular operational issues, and lists

Failure to recruit sufficient new clergy and lay leaders
Failure of new initiatives to deliver church growth
Failure of safeguarding processes, and impact of national enquiries (such as the Goddard report)
Failure to gain support for the Renewal and Reform programme
Financial insolvency in a significant part of the church
IT capacity and security.
I wonder how that compares with your own list? I suspect most people would suggest that there is one very significant strategic risk for the church as a whole which isn’t covered by the above list of operational risks: the danger of schism over a major issue of belief or practice. Reading newspaper headlines, or attending to the internal workings of the Church, it would be hard not to notice that the debate on sexuality and its outcome is the ‘major issue’ currently threatening the future of the C of E as we know it.

If that is the case, why would any diocesan bishop act in a way to exacerbate this risk? Yet in the last month, two appear to have done just that.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: CommentaryAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryAfricaSouth AfricaEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 1, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Millennials are waiting longer to get married than previous generations. According to a 2013 study by the Pew Research Center, only 26 percent of millennials are getting hitched between the ages of 18 and 32. That’s compared to 36 percent of Generation X, 48 percent of baby boomers and 65 percent of the Silent Generation.

One of main reasons people say they’re waiting: Money. Specifically, paying off student loans.

“They are facing dual student loan issues, where maybe their parents only had one set of student loans to deal with. I also think that they’re more expensive,” said Angie Eggum, a financial advisor at Edward Jones Investments.

Eggum said there are some simple steps people can take to make sure they’re financially ready to say “I Do.”

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted May 31, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Delegates to the Episcopal convention last summer approved a marriage equality resolution allowing same-sex couples to be married in an Episcopal church if the local priest is willing. The passage of the resolution came days after the June 26, 2015, ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that legalized same-sex marriage for all Americans.

For some, like Mark McCarty, that was the last straw. McCarty was a member of the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest for 60 years before deciding to leave over the same-sex marriage issue. To him, it is a matter of biblical interpretation. He says no one has been able to show him a Bible passage that OKs same-sex marriage. He prefers the "traditional biblical Anglican worship" referred to in the newspaper ad.

Deciding to leave Heavenly Rest was painful, McCarty said. He will miss the beauty of the building itself, the bell tower, the music and grandeur of the service. But, McCarty said, he believes staying at Heavenly Rest for those reasons, when he opposes the Episcopal Church's theology, would be wrong.

"That's idolatry," he said. "That's building worship.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)Episcopal Church (TEC)TEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 31, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Question: How are you doing? Answer: busy… how many times have you heard that? How many times have you said that?
As a pastor, Eugene Peterson is the voice in the back of my head. When I experience challenges in my vocation, my sense of direction, or conflict in my understanding of my role as a pastor, I usually hunt around for what Peterson would say to my situation. He nearly always has the wisdom I’m looking for, and he never lets me off the hook.
Peterson’s vision of the Unbusy pastor has become the paradigm that I’m chasing. Busyness kills the pastoral vocation....Peterson’s probing question is essentially this: If I was not busy making my mark in the world and not busy doing what everyone expects me to do, what would I actually do as a pastor?

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted May 29, 2016 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Anxiety is the most prevalent psychiatric problem of our time. It is also one of the biggest puzzles. Decades of research have gone into probing the mysteries of anxiety and we are still, in many ways, fumbling in the dark. It’s largely inconclusive. Even with my arsenal of CBT techniques, I have runs of days when I have to re-teach myself. During these times I feel constantly nauseated, bloated, without appetite. I feel as if my skin is a translucent green, my guts full of pond scum. I’m convinced people must be able to see my malaise. It can be hard to pull back from these “blips”. Sometimes I do feel as if I’m going back to square one; locked in a vicious cycle of physical pain and churning negative thought, each exacerbating the other.

People have asked me, puzzled, how I can be so good at dealing with “big stuff”, but then find it tricky to leave the house on days when I’m feeling really anxious. It’s a good question. I have sailed through hectic deadlines in offices with only the faintest dapple of sweat on my upper lip. I’ve interviewed shirty celebrities and not felt my colon flutter.

When I have to keep it together, because there’s simply no other option, I often can. All that strength and resolve seem miles away on the days when I wake up feeling anxious. During some of my worst panic attacks I have fantasised about being knocked over by a truck or having a scaffolding pipe drop on my head, to escape the feeling. I had one on my bike once and thought about how easy it’d be to swerve into oncoming traffic.

Those who have experienced panic attacks will know what that desperation for an off switch feels like...."

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 29, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Like other graduates of Wake Forest University’s School of Divinity, Adam Plant walked onstage earlier this month to accept a diploma and a hug from Dean Gail O’Day.

Unlike them, his journey to the Master of Divinity degree took a significant detour.

Three years ago when he began his studies, Adam was a North Carolina woman with a desire to plumb the intersection of faith and sexuality. By the time of the graduation ceremony, Plant had found acceptance and peace as a man.

“Coming out to myself was, I think, one of the hardest things I ever did,” he said. “I think I was most afraid of being wrong. What if I am crazy? What if this is wrong?”

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSexuality* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySeminary / Theological Education


Posted May 28, 2016 at 1:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It’s no longer news that Western culture has undergone a dramatic sea change in its attitude toward homosexuality. Less often noted is where a key impetus for this change has come: the power of narrative.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 28, 2016 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Wherefore, no marvel if new errors have come abroad in all ages, seeing every one of us is, even from his mother's womb, expert in inventing idols.

--From his commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 28, verse 6, from the Fetherstone translation (you can find one source for it here) [Emphasis mine]

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* TheologyAnthropologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted May 28, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The tears streamed down Alix Idrache's face. In the photograph, the streaks reach almost to the high collar of his gray dress uniform.

The moment, captured by a military photographer Saturday during commencement exercises at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., marked the culmination of a journey that began in 2009, when Idrache came to Maryland from his native Haiti, barely able to speak English.

Now 24, he graduated at the top of his class in physics, was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army, and is headed to Alabama to train as a helicopter pilot.

Read it all and absolutely, positively do not miss the picture.

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

0 Comments
Posted May 27, 2016 at 5:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...a calling requires certain preconditions. It requires more than desires; it requires talent. Not everyone can be, simply by desiring it, an opera singer, or professional athlete, or leader of a large enterprise. For a calling to be right, it must fit our abilities. Another precondition is love -- not just love of the final product but, as the essayist Logan Pearsall Smith once put it, "The test of a vocation is love of drudgery it involves." Long hours, frustrations, small steps forward, struggles: unless these too are welcomed with a certain joy, the claim to being called has a hollow ring.

--Working: Its Meaning and Its Limits, ed. Gilbert C. Meilaender (Notre Dame: Notre Dame University Press, 2000), pp.124-125, emphasis mine

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

0 Comments
Posted May 27, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Love will keep us together, the Rev. Eli Sule Yakku of Central Nigeria said at the end of a long day filled with both kind and harsh words on the floor of the 2016 General Conference over lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people and their role in The United Methodist Church.

The day started with a silent vigil by LGBTQ clergy and clergy candidates. Delegates walked past people wearing robes and holding crosses draped with “Shower of Stoles.” Many United Methodist clergy and clergy candidates came out as gay in the past two weeks.

During a particularly tense moment, a delegate rose and asked Bishop William T. McAlilly to step down as the presiding officer.

The decision to accept a recommendation from the Council of Bishops held all votes on human sexuality and referred all that legislation and the entire subject to a yet-to-be named special commission that will examine “every paragraph in our Book of Discipline regarding human sexuality.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted May 25, 2016 at 5:42 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

According to the United Nations, last year some eight million people around the world were displaced from their homes by conflict and social upheaval—the largest number ever recorded in a single year. This coming week (May 23-24), as the UN convenes the first World Humanitarian Summit, correspondent Kim Lawton talks with prominent Roman Catholic theologian and ethicist Rev. David Hollenbach SJ about the global refugee crisis and the moral obligations he believes the US government and individual Americans have to respond.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureTravel* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 25, 2016 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In an America riddled with anxieties, the worries that Mr. [Kody] Foster and his neighbors bring through the doors of the Tapering Vapor are common and potent: Fear that an honest, 40-hour working-class job can no longer pay the bills. Fear of a fraying social fabric. Fear that the country’s future might pale in comparison with its past.

Wilkes County, with a population of nearly 69,000, has felt those stings more than many other places. The textile and furniture industries have been struggling here for years, and the recession and the loss of the Lowe’s headquarters have helped drive down the median household income. That figure fell by more than 30 percent between 2000 and 2014 when adjusted for inflation, the second-steepest decrease in the nation, according to an analysis of census data by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Still, the regulars at the Tapering Vapor — overwhelmingly white, mostly working class and ranging from their 20s to middle age — provide a haze-shrouded snapshot of an anxious nation navigating an election year fueled by disquiet and malaise.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 25, 2016 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When the suffering doesn’t go away through reading the Bible or prayer, the person affected may despair of his or her spiritual ability or maturity. The very thing that should provide unshakable confidence, that should strengthen our faith in Christ, becomes a source of shame if our faith isn’t “strong enough” to beat the illness.

Most of the time when a physician treats a chemical imbalance and there are some manifestations of those challenges, that imbalance doesn’t go away by prayer or by reading your Bible alone. Sometimes medication is needed and there should be not shame in that.

The more Christians struggle with how to deal with mental illness, the more we fail to create a safe and healthy environment in which to discuss and deal with these issues. As a result, many of our Christian churches, homes, and institutions promulgate an aura of mistrust, guilt, and shame.

As more of us are coming forward with our own stories of struggle and pain, I’m encouraged that it’s okay to talk about these things. We have to defeat the shame because the reality is that many Christians struggle with mental illness.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyMental IllnessReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted May 25, 2016 at 5:55 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:
A year ago, retired U.S. representative John Dingell, who for many years served Michigan’s 12th congressional district, was coaching Wisconsin congressman Ron Kind. “Ron,” said Dingell, “never forget that you’ve got an important job, but you’re not an important person. The second you start thinking that you’re an important person, you start to cut corners and think the rules don’t apply to you.”

One doesn’t have to be a legislator or city bureaucrat to risk losing the distinction between one’s self-importance and the important work one is called to do. Would that we all might pull out a report card and do the sort of reflective work Nai-Wang Kwok managed so beautifully.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPolitics in GeneralHouse of Representatives* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 24, 2016 at 7:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(For the original piece to which this is responding please see here--KSH).

There are likely to be many Anglicans, not least in the Church of England, who will welcome the idea that there might be a viable ‘third way’ between supporting same-sex marriages and simply maintaining the Church’s traditional position. However, I would want to argue that there is in fact no viable ‘third way’ on this issue. This is for three reasons.

First, the position of those advocating for LGBT equality has moved on since the days when a blessing of same-sex partnerships might have been seen as acceptable.

Now that same-sex ‘marriage’ is legal in an increasing number of jurisdictions around the world, including England, Scotland and Wales, LGBT advocates will not be content with anything less than the Church coming into line with society and practicing ‘equal marriage’ as well. For example, those Gay and Lesbian Christians such as Canon Jeremy Pemberton who are already ‘married’ are not going to be content with anything less than the Church’s full recognition of their marital status.

Furthermore, even the recognition of same-sex ‘marriages’ is now a relatively conservative position. The new focus of LGBT activism is now the call to move beyond the ‘heteronormative gender binary’ (the idea that humanity is divided into men and women) and recognise a whole multiplicity of different gender identities (Facebook UK now gives you seventy one gender options to choose from) and a whole range of forms of personal relationship to suit these different identities....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Scottish Episcopal Church* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted May 23, 2016 at 12:36 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Of all the evidence in recent years that white supremacy remains imprinted on American life, the shootings were the most indisputable. A white boy had come of age in the 21st century drinking from the same poisoned spring as lynch mobs across the country in the 20th. He had stepped through loopholes in gun laws broad enough to allow a 21-year-old with a criminal history to purchase a Glock, and carried it into the sanctuary of a church in hopes of avenging imagined wrongs and inciting a race war.

At the same time, in a way without any obvious parallel in recent decades, the offers of forgiveness, prayers, and mercy in the face of judgment were an extraordinary public reminder of the holy power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, its persistence even in an increasingly secular nation, and its capacity to change hearts, minds—and legislatures. Within three weeks of the shooting, the debate about the Confederate flag flying over South Carolina’s State Capitol, a debate that had been entrenched in stalemate in the South Carolina House of Representatives, was over. On July 10, 2015, the flag was removed. As South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley noted, the grace shown on June 19 helped to change the minds of wavering officials.

All this happened in a few terrible and memorable days. And it all deserves to be remembered and commemorated, lamented and honored, as CT seeks to do with the following story.

But none of it is over.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 23, 2016 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Our fundamental problems are the downsides of transitions we have made for good reasons: to enjoy more flexibility, creativity and individual choice. For example, we like buying cheap products from around the world. But the choices we make as consumers make life less stable for us as employees.

Levin says the answer is not to dwell in confusing, frustrating nostalgia. It’s through a big push toward subsidiarity, devolving choice and power down to the local face-to-face community level, and thus avoiding the excesses both of rigid centralization and alienating individualism. A society of empowered local neighborhood organizations is a learning society. Experiments happen and information about how to solve problems flows from the bottom up.

I’m acknowledged in the book, but I learned something new on every page. Nonetheless, I’d say Levin’s emphasis on subsidiarity and local community is important but insufficient. We live within a golden chain, connecting self, family, village, nation and world. The bonds of that chain have to be repaired at every point, not just the local one.

Read it all.

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

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Posted May 22, 2016 at 11:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

United Methodists have voted to require church boards and agencies to withdraw immediately from an organization that advocates for abortion on demand. Delegates from across the 12.1 million-member denomination adopted a proposal concluding affiliation with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) on a vote of 425 to 268 (61 percent to 39 percent) during their quadrennial General Conference meeting in Portland, Oregon.

Two United Methodist agencies, the General Board on Church and Society (GBCS) and United Methodist Women (UMW) are coalition members of RCRC.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted May 21, 2016 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Methodists from around the world are in Portland this week for their General Conference, a big meeting about church teachings and laws that happens every four years. This year, at least, the delegates aren’t focused on bureaucratic minutiae. They are considering whether [non-celibate] gay and lesbian pastors should be ordained, and whether same-sex couples should be able to be married in the church. Depending on what they eventually choose, they may effectively decide whether the denomination should schism.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted May 20, 2016 at 5:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...researchers led by Dr Dieter Egli, of the New York Stem Cell Foundation, discovered that when the nucleus is transferred some of the defective mitochondria can go with it, according to a paper in the journal Cell Stem Cell.

But other scientists said that overall the findings of the study were actually grounds for "optimism" as this was a relatively uncommon occurrence.

In the study, the researchers found that half the cell lines created from using the nucleus and donor egg contained a low percentage of mitochondrial DNA from the original egg cell.

In some cases, this original mitochondrial DNA disappeared over a period of six months, but in others it took over the donor cell so that 100 per cent of the mitochondrial DNA matched that of the transferred DNA.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLife EthicsScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 20, 2016 at 1:22 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A proposal to amend the marriage canon to permit same sex weddings in churches will be considered by the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church next month. The proposed changes, which were requested by the Synod in 2015, remove the current definition of marriage in the first clause of the canon and adds a new “conscience clause” to prevent clergy opposed to the move from being forced to conduct same-sex weddings against their will.

The current Canon, C31, begins by defining marriage by stating: “The Doctrine of this Church is that Marriage is a physical, spiritual and mystical union of one man and one woman created by their mutual consent of heart, mind and will thereto, and is a holy and lifelong estate instituted of God.”

The proposed amendment to Canon C31 would replace that wording with a new clause which says: “In the light of the fact that there are differing understandings of the nature of marriage in this Church, no cleric of this Church shall be obliged to conduct any marriage against their conscience. . .”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Culture-WatchMarriage & Family* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 20, 2016 at 11:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Check it out and see how you do.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationPsychology* General Interest* TheologyAnthropology

2 Comments
Posted May 19, 2016 at 1:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When the behaviors and beliefs of Christians mirror those of their unbelieving neighbors, it is evidence that the Church is a product of the culture it is called to transform, and that instead of producing disciples, it has been turning out "belonging nonbelievers," if not "functional atheists."

So, if you want find fault for the recent Court ruling, look no further than the doorstep of the Church and a decades-long ethos of non-discipleship Christianity. The thing is, the solution to our national condition starts at the same threshold.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryAdult EducationMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted May 19, 2016 at 7:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Council of Bishops asked General Conference to delay a debate on homosexuality at this gathering of the denomination’s top legislative assembly until a proposed commission can study church regulations.

Instead, the bishops asked for the body’s permission to name a special commission that would completely examine and possibly recommend revisions of every paragraph in the Book of Discipline related to human sexuality. The commission would represent the different regions of a denomination on four continents as well as the varied perspectives of the church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

8 Comments
Posted May 18, 2016 at 6:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Delegates asked the Council of Bishops to lead the church out of the “painful condition” it is in after an address by Bishop Bruce Ough that called for unity but did not address full inclusion of LGBTQ people.

The Rev. Mark Holland, a delegate from Great Plains, said the May 17 call for unity did not provide a path forward. He asked the Council of Bishops to meet today and bring back a report tomorrow. His motion passed 428-364.

The bishops do not have a vote at General Conference, but they can call for a special session of the General Conference.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted May 18, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A top United Methodist bishop Tuesday acknowledged the denomination’s severe divisions over the role of gays and lesbians, as well as despair over the church’s falling American membership — but he refuted reports that the denomination’s leadership was preparing a proposal to split the church and its assets.

Bishop Bruce Ough, president of the Council of Bishops for the United Methodist Church, speaking to delegates at the church’s legislative gathering in Portland, Ore., did acknowledge high-level meetings at which church leaders across the theological spectrum have “risked exploring what many would consider radical new ideas to organize the United Methodist Church.”

But, he added, the council is “committed to maintain the unity of the United Methodist Church, not a superficial unity to serve as a veneer over our disunity, but an authentic unity born of the Holy Spirit.”

Later in the day, delegates to the General Conference voted to ask the bishops to come back with a recommendation on how the divided church can move forward.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted May 18, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop Bruce Ough acknowledged the pain and anger that has been bubbling up at the 2016 United Methodist General Conference over the full inclusion of LGBTQ people, but said the Council of Bishops supports church unity.

Social media rumors before his announcement indicated the bishops were going to create a special commission to explore the church’s differences and hold a meeting in 2018 to discuss schism.

That is not correct, Ough said. However, he did say the bishops were not in unity with each other.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted May 17, 2016 at 4:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

All over the country, employers say they see a disturbing downside of tighter labor markets as they try to rebuild from the worst recession since the Depression: They are struggling to find workers who can pass a pre-employment drug test.

That hurdle partly stems from the growing ubiquity of drug testing, at corporations with big human resources departments, in industries like trucking where testing is mandated by federal law for safety reasons, and increasingly at smaller companies.

But data suggest employers’ difficulties also reflect an increase in the use of drugs, especially marijuana — employers’ main gripe — and also heroin and other opioid drugs much in the news.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 17, 2016 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Scientists are now contemplating the fabrication of a human genome, meaning they would use chemicals to manufacture all the DNA contained in human chromosomes.

The prospect is spurring both intrigue and concern in the life sciences community because it might be possible, such as through cloning, to use a synthetic genome to create human beings without biological parents.

While the project is still in the idea phase, and also involves efforts to improve DNA synthesis in general, it was discussed at a closed-door meeting on Tuesday at Harvard Medical School in Boston. The nearly 150 attendees were told not to contact the news media or to post on Twitter during the meeting.

Read it all.

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

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Posted May 17, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On Friday, delegates voted 355 to 477 against the proposal, in what is likely a preview of any vote taken on biblical sexuality. In general, Rule 44 was embraced by proponents of gay marriage and opposed by proponents of traditional marriage.

That’s probably because the usual method has been working pretty well for conservative Methodists who favor traditional marriage. Though other mainline denominations have opened the doors to the full participation of gay members, the UMC’s General Conference spent the last 44 years consistently voting to maintain the denomination’s ban on same-sex unions and on ordaining non-celibate clergy.

The UMC’s firm stance doesn’t stem primarily from its American members; less than half of them (46%) agree with the current ban, while 38 percent oppose it. Almost all of the 100-plus proposals on changes to the UMC's stance on human sexuality came from American conferences.

Some even spent the preceding weeks practicing denominational civil disobedience: the day before the conference began, 111 Methodist religious leaders revealed their homosexual orientation in an open letter. A week earlier, 15 clergy and candidates for clergy in the New York Annual Conference did the same thing. And elder David Meredith married his partner at a Methodist church in Columbus, Ohio, on the weekend between the two.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted May 16, 2016 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Amy Moses and her circle of self-employed small-business owners were supporters of President Obama and the Affordable Care Act. They bought policies on the newly created New York State exchange. But when they called doctors and hospitals in Manhattan to schedule appointments, they were dismayed to be turned away again and again with a common refrain: “We don’t take Obamacare,” the umbrella epithet for the hundreds of plans offered through the president’s signature health legislation.

“Anyone who is on these plans knows it’s a two-tiered system,” said Ms. Moses, describing the emotional sting of those words to a successful entrepreneur.

“Anytime one of us needs a doctor,” she continued, “we send out an alert: ‘Does anyone have anyone on an exchange plan that does mammography or colonoscopy? Who takes our insurance?’ It’s really a problem.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 16, 2016 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When they first got Andrew’s diagnosis, she told a night nurse that she just wanted to get her happy-go-lucky little boy back for a single hour. She had not understood then that any reprieve would only mean that they would have to go through losing him all over again — “and each return will be harder than the last as Andrew grows and bonds with us,” she wrote in a post.

By October, Andrew was healthier than he had been in a year, running and playing ball with his siblings. None of the doctors had ever seen this kind of recovery before. They decided to bring him back to the hospital for a bone-marrow test.

Michael Loken, who had analyzed Andrew’s blood work, had not been surprised that Andrew’s cancer returned. He had been working on a paper about R.A.M., the genetic marker that Andrew had. He had tracked 19 other cases of children with the phenotype; three years after the diagnosis, only two were still alive and healthy. When he examined Andrew’s marrow this time, using a sample of 200,000 cells, he got goose bumps. He repeated the test with 500,000 cells. Then he called Lacayo with the news. The cancer had disappeared.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 15, 2016 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

These days, it’s common for people to wait to get married—in 2010, women’s median age when they married was nearly 27, the oldest ever. Back in 1950, the median age for a woman when she first married was just over 20. We think of this as being a natural occurrence, influenced by existing family structures and workforce patterns. But it’s worth noting that this phenomena may have been affected by the concerted efforts of the marriage education movement.

The movement, which brought education on how to date and marry to college campuses around the United States, was at its peak between the 1930s and the mid ‘60s, Beth L. Bailey writes in the Journal of Social History. She finds its roots in a perceived crisis among self-proclaimed “experts” who worried that American society was under threat from urbanization, industrialization, and the increased autonomy of young people. What better place, then, to indoctrinate people on how and why to marry than in the few institutional settings that touched their lives?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHistoryMarriage & FamilyYoung Adults* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 15, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Netherlands has seen a sharp increase in the number of people choosing to end their own lives due to mental health problems such as trauma caused by sexual abuse.

Whereas just two people had themselves euthanised in the country in 2010 due to an "insufferable" mental illness, 56 people did so last year, a trend which sparked concern among ethicists .

In one controversial case, a sexual abuse victim in her 20s was allowed to go ahead with the procedure as she was suffering from "incurable" PTSD, according to the Dutch Euthanasia Commission.

Read it all from the Telegraph.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 14, 2016 at 3:56 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Methodists have debated Christian sexual ethics at every General Conference since 1972, but delegates have repeatedly affirmed traditional teachings. The church prohibits same-sex rites, and clergy must be celibate if single and monogamous if married. For decades what made the difference was Methodism’s large evangelical subculture. But recently the decisive factor has been the church’s growing membership in Africa.

While other mainline denominations shrank, United Methodism grew, thanks to its overseas membership. Since the 1960s the church has lost four million Americans but gained five million new members in Africa, mainly in former French, Belgian and Portuguese colonies, where early 20th-century missionaries didn’t have to compete with British Methodism.

Africans, who are in general theologically conservative, now account for 40% of members and will soon become a majority. This leaves liberal Methodists frustrated. The church’s General Conference has long included colorful protests against traditional sexual standards. These have become more heated: One LGBT activist suggested that protesters show up to this year’s convention with “gallons of piss and vinegar,” adding “just think of the trouble we can cause.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted May 13, 2016 at 3:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Why are the French so wedded to a failing system?

For starters, they believe that a job is a basic right — guaranteed in the preamble to their Constitution — and that making it easier to fire people is an affront to that. Without a C.D.I., you’re considered naked before the indifferent forces of capitalism.

At one demonstration in Paris, young protesters held a banner warning that they were the “génération précaire.” They were agitating for the right to grow up. As Jean-Benoît Nadeau and Julie Barlow point out in their new book, “The Bonjour Effect,” getting a permanent work contract is a rite of adulthood. Without one, it’s hard to get a mortgage or car loan, or rent an apartment.

Mainstream economic arguments can’t compete. “Basic facts of economic science are completely dismissed,” said Étienne Wasmer, a labor economist at Sciences Po. “People don’t see that if you let employers take risks, they’ll hire more people.” Instead, many French people view the workplace as a zero-sum battle between workers and bosses.

Read it all from yesterday's NY Times.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 13, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In reality, however, many working Americans simply can't afford to retire. Fewer workers today than in the past say a pension will be a major income source in retirement, and many have been unable to save sufficiently during the economic slowdown of the past decade. Seven in 10 employed adults told Gallup in April that they are worried about not having enough savings for retirement. As a result, they now need to work as long as possible to build up their retirement nest eggs.

At the moment, most workers are forgoing any thought of retiring before 62, the minimum age to receive partial Social Security retirement benefits, while nearly a third are planning to hold off until after age 67.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePensionsThe U.S. GovernmentSocial Security* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 13, 2016 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

INTERVIEWER

Where does the dialogue come from?

WELTY

Familiarity. Memory of the way things get said. Once you have heard certain expressions, sentences, you almost never forget them. It’s like sending a bucket down the well and it always comes up full. You don’t know you’ve remembered, but you have. And you listen for the right word, in the present, and you hear it. Once you’re into a story everything seems to apply—what you overhear on a city bus is exactly what your character would say on the page you’re writing. Wherever you go, you meet part of your story. I guess you’re tuned in for it, and the right things are sort of magnetized—if you can think of your ears as magnets.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted May 13, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Over the past three days, the United Methodist General Conference also has offered a live demonstration of just how difficult following its rules of order can be.

The final tally on the much-debated Rule 44 — a proposed Group Discernment Process — was 355 “yes” and 477 “no.”

The Commission on General Conference recommended Rule 44 at the request of the 2012 General Conference, which sought an alternative process to Robert’s Rules of Order for dealing with particularly complicated and contentious legislation.

The commission’s aim was to use small groups to give all delegates a chance to weigh in on selected petitions.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

4 Comments
Posted May 13, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I never know how to see my own work clearly—maybe no one does. In August, though, any work I do is complicated by thinking muddied by depression. My deepest depressive cycles follow a fairly simple pattern: one in early winter and another in late summer. I start to slip into the murk, spend a couple of dark weeks beneath the waves, then gradually climb back into the light. I’m a high-functioning depressive: I’ve always been able to get a lot done, even when I’m at my lowest. I’m grateful I’m not laid right out by my depressive spells, though sometimes I think two weeks in the psych-ward would be easier than pushing through the day-to-day with all the light and joy drowned in blackness.

The worst part of my low is the relentless mental monologue. It’s nothing audible; more like the normal self-conscious thoughts most of us experience now and then except uninterrupted and fiercely self-loathing. The voice says “You’re stupid and useless. You’re a waste. You’re a black hole. You’re a piece of garbage, and nobody wants to be around garbage. Toss it and it’s gone.” On and on it goes, day after day for weeks, starting the moment I open my eyes in the morning until I collapse into sleep at night, an endless, monotonous commentary on my day, a narrative of self-hatred. Stupid and useless, not smart enough to really figure anything out, and incapable of doing what actually needs to be done.

I’ve personified my self-loathing voice, and it’s not a raging, snarling demon with fangs and claws, or an evil, faceless ghoul. It’s a fat, middle-aged, balding man who needs a shower and shave.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychology* International News & CommentaryCanada* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 13, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So why are people so gullible?

Perhaps we’ve been approaching this the wrong way. Instead of viewing quackery as a form of knowledge, albeit wrong, we might try approaching it as a religion.

What do I mean?

It seems to me that for a large proportion of people, particularly people on the political Left, pseudoscience has become a secular religion, complete with creation myth, demons and ultimate salvation.

Don’t get me wrong: there’s plenty of pseudoscience on the political Right, too. But often that is motivated by adherence to standard religious philosophy, the idea that the Bible is the world of God and that anything that contradicts it cannot be allowed to be true. On the Left, where many abjure religion, quackery has become the new religion.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologySoteriology

0 Comments
Posted May 12, 2016 at 4:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Liberal Anglican priest Dr Helen Jacobi says she is ashamed of her Church after its General Synod voted today to postpone any "blessings" for gay marriages for at least two years.

The synod, meeting in Napier, decided not to adopt a new liturgy for blessing same-sex unions that was developed over the past two years by a working group led by Auckland lawyer Bruce Gray QC.

Instead it voted to send the issue back to another working group to report back to the next synod in 2018.

"The synod has allowed the views of 'conservatives' to rule, rather than working for the just inclusion of all faithful people in the life of the church," said Dr Jacobi, the minister at Auckland's gay-friendly church St-Matthew-in-the-City.

Read it all.


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

0 Comments
Posted May 12, 2016 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia has tabled the ‘A Way Forward ’ report on blessings of same-sex couples until General Synod 2018, “with a firm expectation that a decision to move forward will be made” at that time.
Archbishop Brown Turei, Archbishop Philip Richardson and Archbishop Winston Halapua will appoint a working group to establish a structure that allows both those who can and cannot support the blessing of same-sex relationships to remain within the church with integrity.
“We are aware of the considerable pain that this decision will cause to those most affected,” said the three archbishops today.
“But we are confident that our determination to work together across our differences will bring us to a place of dignity and justice for everyone.”

Read it all.


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

2 Comments
Posted May 12, 2016 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Wartime looks like this.

The steely greyness of the city. The clouds are so low, but not low enough to hide government helicopters carrying barrel bombs, which usually appear at the same time each day, in the mornings and late afternoons, circling for a while at altitudes of 13,000–16,000 feet, little more than tiny dots in the sky, before dropping their payloads.

What does war sound like? The whistling sound of the bombs falling can only be heard seconds before impact—enough time to know that you are about to die, but not enough time to flee.

What does the war in Aleppo smell of? It smells of carbine, of wood smoke, of unwashed bodies, of rubbish rotting, of . . . fear. The rubble on the street—the broken glass, the splintered wood that was once somebody’s home. On every corner there is a destroyed building that may or may not have bodies still buried underneath. Your old school is gone; so are the mosque, your grandmother’s house and your office. Your memories are smashed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMediaPsychologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 11, 2016 at 6:53 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I saw a friend a few weeks ago who said he was looking for love, commitment and a “monogamish” relationship with a woman.

“Do you need to clear your throat?” joked another friend. “You mean 'monogamy', right?”

He didn't and he's not alone. The term "monogamish" was first coined a few years ago by relationship and sex columnist Dan Savage, who shared that the arrangement he has with his long-term partner, in which they're committed to each other but can have sex with others, is not just a phenomenon for gay men. Savage asserted that these kind of relationships are happening more and more with straight couples across the country, though many will never talk openly about it.

Today, the idea is becoming even more mainstream as we delay marriage and design our lives according to our needs, wants and values—not just the expectations we follow based on what society or our parents would think.

Read it all.

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

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


Posted May 10, 2016 at 4:24 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

New Zealand's Anglican Church is sticking to its guns on ruling out same-sex marriage, but may be open to the idea of blessing same-sex couples that have been married.

The blessing, which would take place in a church, would be spoken in the past tense as the union had already happened and there would be no exchange of rings.

The church is holding its two-yearly meeting, or general synod, in Napier this week, with one of the major items on the agenda a report entitled A Way Forward, which raised the option of blessings for same-sex couples.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted May 10, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The drugmaker Purdue Pharma launched OxyContin two decades ago with a bold marketing claim: One dose relieves pain for 12 hours, more than twice as long as generic medications.

On the strength of that promise, OxyContin became America’s bestselling painkiller, and Purdue reaped $31 billion in revenue.

But OxyContin’s stunning success masked a fundamental problem: The drug wears off hours early in many people, a Los Angeles Times investigation found. OxyContin is a chemical cousin of heroin, and when it doesn’t last, patients can experience excruciating symptoms of withdrawal, including an intense craving for the drug.

The problem offers new insight into why so many people have become addicted to OxyContin, one of the most abused pharmaceuticals in U.S. history.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 9, 2016 at 5:55 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The chatter is getting louder. More voices are joining in all the time as people of all ages and from all backgrounds begin to talk more openly about death, dying and funerals. And Christians have much to contribute: after all in Easter services every year, if not every Sunday, we remember and celebrate our great hope that death is not the end, and that God will bring comfort for the bereaved.

And now the big conversation is really emerging in our culture. The taboo around death and dying is being pushed and challenged . Almost every week there are articles, opinion pieces and comments about death and funerals, sometimes triggered by the death of well-known individuals, and sometimes triggered by personal events. Movements such as Death Café are growing quickly as people begin to face the issues, whether making good financial plans or talking more widely about bereavement and loss.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEschatology

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Posted May 6, 2016 at 6:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ah, the journey to and from work. Last week’s train strikes, keeping many of us in the UK at home, served as a reminder that the commute is not capitalism’s greatest gift to humanity.

The longer the trip, the less worthwhile life feels, data from the Office for National Statistics tell us. Surveys have found that people with a taxing journey sleep poorly, while research by US academics links tough commutes to health problems, such as high cholesterol, hypertension and depression.

The commute is a post-industrial invention. For most of history almost everyone worked at, or near, home. But industrialisation created a separation between people’s living arrangements and their working ones....

Read it all.

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

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Posted May 5, 2016 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Although Bill C-14 unavoidably damages the value of respect for life and puts vulnerable Canadians at risk, its goals include, as its preamble recognizes, maintaining respect for human life at both individual and societal levels and the protection of vulnerable people. Achieving those two goals demands another goal be explicit in the preamble: not allowing medically assisted suicide to become part of the norm for how we die.

So how can we, as far as possible in the current circumstances, achieve these three goals?

The conditions legislated for qualification for hastened death will be critical. They must be very limited and strictly controlled; they underline that it is an exceptional intervention, limited to adults competent at the time of death, terminally ill from a physical disease or disability, in unbearable suffering and giving their informed consent.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 4, 2016 at 11:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After a spike in reports of sexual extortion, or "sextortion," across the Navy, including at the Naval Submarine Base, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service is warning sailors not to engage in sexually explicit activities online.

Sextortion is a crime in which someone requests money in exchange for not releasing sexually explicit images or information.

Both the number of cases and incidents is growing, according to NCIS, which says that since August 2012, perpetrators have targeted at least 160 sailors and marines across the country, resulting in the loss of about $45,000.

Typically, perpetrators will request anywhere from $500 to $1,500.

Read it all from The Day (Hat tip:MY).


Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingScience & TechnologySexuality* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* General InterestPhotos/Photography* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 4, 2016 at 6:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

NB: Carter is not legislation. It is only a Court decision voiding a particular aspect of a particular Criminal Code provision. To be specific: “To the extent that the impugned laws [s. 241 (b) and s. 14] deny the s. 7 rights of people like Ms. Taylor they are void by operation of s. 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982. It is for Parliament and the provincial legislatures to respond, should they so choose, by enacting legislation consistent with the constitutional parameters set out in these reasons.” (§126)

Second, from its very first sentence the bill sounds the final death-knell, for all public purposes, of Abrahamic faith. The Carter/C-14 doctrine of autonomy is a clear repudiation of that kind of faith and the establishment of a new faith in man as utterly independent of God. One does not need to be Abrahamic to understand this. If the Parliament of Canada recognizes personal autonomy as extending a moral right to determine the manner and timing of one’s own death, and to take one’s own life or another’s life, it necessarily recognizes the person—and itself as a deliberative body of persons—as lying outside of all putative divine authority in such matters. In short, the C-14 preamble is the final repudiation of the Charter preamble. “The principles of fundamental justice” (§71) now operate independently of any reference whatsoever to the supremacy of God. The link between “the supremacy of God and the rule of law” is decisively severed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 3, 2016 at 4:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The same week that Kate Grosmaire visited the hospital where her 18-year-old daughter lay in a coma from a gunshot wound to the head, she visited the jail where the shooter was being held by police.

Even before they took Ann off life support, the Grosmaires knew wanted to forgive her murderer, her high school boyfriend Conor McBride.

“Conor has said that act could not have been anything but from God because people alone can’t do that; it has to be from God,” said Kate, who still talks to McBride on the phone once a week. “That was the start of his salvation.”

Since Ann’s death in 2010, Kate and husband Andy Grosmaire have become advocates for an approach to criminal punishment called restorative justice. In their daughter’s murder case, the Catholic couple learned they could push for lighter charges than life in prison.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 3, 2016 at 3:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A groundbreaking trial to see if it is possible to regenerate the brains of dead people, has won approval from health watchdogs.

A biotech company in the US has been granted ethical permission to recruit 20 patients who have been declared clinically dead from a traumatic brain injury, to test whether parts of their central nervous system can be brought back to life.

Scientists will use a combination of therapies, which include injecting the brain with stem cells and a cocktail of peptides, as well as deploying lasers and nerve stimulation techniques which have been shown to bring patients out of comas.

Read it all from the Telegraph.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 3, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Peter did not feel very brave; indeed, he felt he was going to be sick. But that made no difference to what he had to do. He rushed up to the monster and aimed a slash of his sword at its side. That stroke never reached the Wolf. Quick as lightning it turned round, its eyes flaming, and its mouth wide open in a howl of anger. If it had not been so angry that it simply had to howl it would have got him by the throat at once. As it was – though all this happened too quickly for Peter to think at all – he had just time to duck down and plunge his sword, as hard as he could, between the brute’s forelegs into its heart.

--The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (New York: HarperCollins; Reprint ed. 2008), p.120 (my emphasis)

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenPoetry & Literature* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 3, 2016 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pornography is not new, but the digital age has made it more ubiquitous and accessible than ever before. The technological realities of smartphones and high-speed internet have fundamentally changed the landscape of pornography, and ushered it into the cultural mainstream where it enjoys increasingly widespread acceptance.

In Barna’s landmark study, The Porn Phenomenon (now available to purchase online), commissioned by Josh McDowell Ministry, we interviewed thousands of American teens, young adults and older adults about their views on and use of pornography. Here are ten of the most compelling findings:

1. There is Moral Ambiguity Toward Porn, Particularly Among Younger Americans
Perhaps the most sobering finding from the study is the reality of how accepted viewing porn has become in our culture today, particularly among teens and young adults. Around half of adults 25 and older say viewing porn is wrong (54%), and among teens and young adults 13-24, only a third say viewing porn is wrong (32%). This posture toward porn among younger Americans is confirmed by how they talk about porn with their friends: the vast majority reports that conversations with their friends about porn are neutral, accepting or even encouraging. They generally assume most people look at porn at least on occasion, and the morality of porn is rarely discussed or even considered. Just one in 10 teens and one in 20 young adults report talking with their friends about porn in a disapproving way.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPornographyScience & TechnologySociology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 2, 2016 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...mobilising intelligently demands being willing to ask what habits and assumptions, as well as what chances and conditions, have made possible the risk of evil triumphing. And that leads us into deep waters, to a recognition of how what we tolerate or ignore or underestimate opens the way for disaster, the ways in which we are at least half-consciously complicit. If this is not to be the silly we-are-all-guilty response that has rightly been so much mocked, nor an absolution for the direct agents of great horrors, it needs a careful and unsparing scrutiny of the processes by which cultures become corruptible, vulnerable to the agendas of damaged and obsessional individuals.

This can be uncomfortable. It raises the awkward issue of what philosophers have learned to call “moral luck” – the fact that some people with immense potential for evil don’t actualise it, because the circumstances don’t present them with the chance, and that some others who might have spent their lives in blameless normality end up supervising transports to Auschwitz. Or, to take a sharply contemporary example, that one Muslim youth from a disturbed or challenging background becomes a suicide bomber but another from exactly the same background doesn’t. It is as though there were a sort of diabolical mirror image for the biblical Parable of the Sower: some seeds grow and some don’t, depending on the ground they fall on, or what chance external stimulus touches them at critical moments.

If what interests us is simply how to assign individuals rapidly and definitively to the categories of sheep and goats, saved and damned, this is offensively frustrating. But if we recognise that evil is in important respects a shared enterprise, we may be prompted to look harder at those patterns of behaviour and interaction that – in the worst cases – give permission to those who are most capable of extreme destructiveness, and to examine our personal, political and social life in the light of this.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryViolence* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheodicy

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Posted May 2, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In deciding how to vote it is important that we recognise that we are answering a different sort of question from that at general elections but, as there, we also need to keep front and centre the test of what it means to love our neighbours and how our vote can serve the common good. That means not deciding on the basis of what is best for me personally (usually understood in simple financial terms) or even for the UK alone but to look at our personal and national good in the context of international society and the importance of good relationships. It also means trying to step back and take in the bigger picture both historically but also in terms of the present nature and likely future development of the EU. At least three broad areas require serious Christian reflection and evaluation in discerning how to vote.

First, as regards its form, the EU is an international legal and political entity based on treaties between national governments. This means considering a Christian attitude to the role and limits of nations and national identity and the dangers of empire as well as consideration of the principle of the free movement of peoples and how it relates to our sense of belonging and place of national borders. Second, the EU also has motives and aims which shape its ethos. Here Christians must evaluate how it has assisted in moving Europe from war to peace, whether and how it has enabled solidarity both within Europe and between Europe and the poorer parts of the world, and whether, particularly in relation to economic life, it is driven by our contemporary idols in the Western world and, through the Euro and austerity, serving or undermining human flourishing. Finally, as the EU is best viewed as a political community it needs, from a Christian perspective, to be assessed in terms of how well it serves the pursuit of justice and whether its political structures are – or can be - representative of its 500 million people and whether they uphold the principle of subsidiarity which seeks to respect local and national governing structures and non-governmental forms of social life.

In the light of all these issues a number of arguments on both sides need to be rejected by Christians but, after exploring each of these areas, I believe it is possible to sketch out potential Christian arguments for each side of the debate focussing on these issues, often neglected in the wider political debate.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 29, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We have now had confirmed what many recognised to be true from the outset of this tragedy. Yet there remain unanswered questions and unresolved accountabilities. No judicial action can bring back the lives of those who were lost or undo the sorrow of those who continue to mourn them. And we cannot escape the reality that this verdict comes too late for some who did not live to see the consummation of their tireless quest.

At the heart of the Christian faith is a narrative of justice, and justice must be allowed to take its course. But our Christian message is also one of forgiveness, grace and mercy. It is only now that some of the wounds can begin to heal and that some of the hurts can begin to be released – truth and justice are crucial to that process, but grace and mercy must also play their part in the journey forward.

Now is the time for us to show our true dignity; we must not now become consumed by bitterness, recrimination and hate, as we allow justice to take its course. We continue to pray for the families of the 96 and everyone whose lives are affected and scarred by this tragedy.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesSports* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted April 28, 2016 at 11:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The man who built Chobani yogurt into a multi-billion dollar brand is giving thousands of employees the financial surprise of a lifetime.

Watch it all.

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

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Posted April 28, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

‘To Your Credit’, the local churches’ grassroots movement and the Archbishop’s initiative to create a fairer financial system, has released the first of a series of four 10-minute films on ‘Money, Debt and Salvation.’ Six theologians will offer reflections on money and debt.

The Archbishop features in the first of the series, in a call to ‘challenge the sovereignty of money’.

“Credit and debt is one of the key issues that people face because it’s pervasive, it’s everywhere… The reason it’s so important is because the knock-on effect of credit and debt going wrong is so destructive. People’s lives are torn apart, their families are damaged.

“It’s a prophetic thing to get stuck into these issues because we have to challenge the sovereignty of money and finance over every aspect of our life. And to say in quite a revolutionary way, no you’re not in charge, human beings are the ultimate value.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Banking System/SectorPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 27, 2016 at 4:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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