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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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It is a fact well known to certain Episcopalians—both those who have left the Episcopal Church (USA) and those who have remained—that ECUSA and its dioceses have followed a pattern of suing any church that chooses to leave for another Anglican jurisdiction. But the full extent of the litigation that has ensued is not well known at all, either in the wider Church, or among the provinces of the Anglican Communion. (Otherwise -- one would think -- it would never have been deemed to be conduct to be rewarded by this honorary degree, rather than this one.)
Your Curmudgeon proposes to do what he can to rectify this situation, by publishing an annual update on this site of the current status of all past and present cases in which ECUSA or any of its dioceses has been or is involved, from 2000 to date. Feel free to link to this post, to email links to it to other Episcopalians, and to send it to your Bishop -- and feel free to post any updates or corrections in the comments. In another update to be posted as General Convention approaches, I will publish a revised total for all of the money spent by ECUSA and its Dioceses to date on prosecuting all of these lawsuits (and, in the case of the second group below, defending them).
The lawsuits initiated by ECUSA and its dioceses to date are first listed below. They far outnumber, as you can see, the second list of the eight cases begun by a diocese or parish against the Episcopal Church (or a diocese). The listing endeavors to be as complete as I can make it. The first 83 cases, generally grouped by the State in which they each originated, are the legal actions filed since 2000....
Take the time to read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
In her Order denying the motion for reconsideration she stated, “Large portions of the motion are simply the proposed orders previously submitted to the Court or reiterations of the Defendants’ positions at trial.”
The motion had also argued that because the Diocese had argued legal positions in the All Saints case contrary to those now being presented, that Judicial Estoppel should apply. In response, Judge Goodstein sharply noted... “The court finds that the Judicial Estoppel argument is without merit....If the Defendants’ argument in the instant action was correct, no party previously adjudicated to be wrong would be able to correct their conduct in compliance with a court’s holding. Such a result would be contrary to all sense of justice and order... With regards all other matters presented in Defendants’ Motion for Reconsideration, they are hereby denied.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * South Carolina * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The U.S. is a country of gaps. The wage gap. The wealth gap. And now, the sleep gap.
The dividing line: Pain. Having chronic or fleeting pain in the prior week caused 57 percent of Americans a significant loss of sleep, according to the 2015 Sleep in America poll, released Monday by the National Sleep Foundation.
People with chronic pain said they got 42 minutes of sleep less than they needed every night. It’s a vicious cycle: Pain makes it hard to sleep, less sleep exacerbates pain.
Missing 42 minutes of sleep wouldn’t be a big deal if sleep weren’t so connected with overall well-being. People who rated their health and quality of life very good or excellent in the survey slept an average of 15 to 30 minutes longer than those who said it was good, fair or poor.
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The church near the corner of Peace and Blount streets looks as though it could have been there for centuries, with its peaked roof and mottled brick walls – except for the insulating wrap that still sheaths half its exterior.
It’s the first new church building to be built in downtown Raleigh for half a century.
“We wanted to build a transcendent space,” said the Rev. John Yates III, his breath hanging beneath the arching steel bones of the sanctuary. To his left, a construction worker rode an accordion lift to finish the details of a window that reached toward the 60-foot ceiling.
Holy Trinity Anglican Church formed about a decade ago, splitting off from the national Episcopal church alongside scores of other groups.
Read it all from the News and Observer..
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Architecture Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Housing/Real Estate Market
This year is an ignominious anniversary for Mainline Protestantism, commemorating a half century of continuous decline since their membership peaks in the early 1960s. Fifty years ago one of every six Americans belonged to the Seven Sisters of Mainline Protestantism. Today it’s one of every 16 and plunging. Membership has dropped from 30 million to 20 million during a time when Americas population has nearly doubled. And it did so despite Gallup Poll’s insistence that overall church attendance has remained essentially the same for about the last 80 years.
In our current post denominational age, many question why this decline matters. Who cares about the Mainline except the dwindling and increasingly aged members who remain? After all, haven’t evangelical churches, especially nondenominationals, plus Catholicism, more than filled the void? Wasn’t it time for the Mainline to leave the stage, having more than played its part in American and Christian history across 4 centuries? And in the end, didn’t they deserve their own demise?
The answers are yes and no.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Lutheran Methodist Presbyterian United Church of Christ * Theology
On Russian social media, liberal Moscow has struggled to wrap its head around something that seemed like it simply couldn’t happen, until it did. It had been years since Nemtsov, a rising star in Yeltsin-era politics, had been the standard-bearer of Western liberalism, and he could be a silly bon vivant. But he was deeply intelligent, witty, kind and ubiquitous. He seemed to genuinely be everyone’s friend; when I lived in Moscow as a journalist, he was always willing to jaw over endless glasses of cognac. And he was a powerful, vigorous critic of Vladimir Putin, assailing him in every possible medium, constantly publishing reports on topics like the president’s lavish lifestyle and the corruption behind the Sochi Olympics.
How could such a prominent politician — a founder of the opposition Solidarity Party, a sitting member of the Yaroslavl city parliament — be gunned down so brazenly, within steps of the Kremlin? “We didn’t kill members of government,” Gleb Pavlovsky, an independent political consultant who used to work for Putin, told me over the phone. “It’s an absolutely new situation.” Olga Romanova, a prominent opposition activist and a close friend of Nemtsov, said, “There are more cameras in that spot than there are grains in a packet of grain.” When I called her last night, she had just come from the scene of the crime, where her friend still lay on the ground, surrounded by laughing policemen. “It’s the first time I’ve seen a very close person murdered, lying on the pavement,” she said. “It’s terrifying.”
Continue reading the main story
Putin promptly called Nemtsov’s mother to offer his condolences and threw what seemed like the entire Ministry of Internal Affairs on the case. Yet we can be sure that the investigation will lead precisely nowhere.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Europe Russia * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
It offends many Muslims that their religion is connected automatically to the terrorism and cold-blooded massacres that are currently creating chaos in Iraq, Syria and Libya. They believe that terms like “Islamic terrorism,” “Jihadism” and “Islamo-fascism” carry an unfair implication that all Muslims are likely to support such crimes.
“Stop saying these words, they hurt,” a Toronto imam, Hamid Slimi, urged the federal government at a recent conference. He’s the former chairman of the Canadian Council of Imams, currently at work on a global campaign, Muslim Messengers of Peace.
Everyone can sympathize with law-abiding, peace-loving Muslims when they feel accused by implication of atrocities committed far away by people with whom they have no real connection except their religion. But the connection is not as distant as they might like to think.
Read it all from the National Post.
...propagandists for jihad describe life under IS and wartime domesticity. Ms Mahmood gloats about microwaves and milkshake machines seized from non-believers. But they also express the pain of leaving families and the feeling of being very foreign in the Middle East. In a series called “Life of a Muhajirah [emigrant]”, a pregnant woman posts a picture of her ultrasound and worries that her husband will be become a shahid (martyr), though she accepts that this may be God’s will.
By establishing a caliphate, IS, unlike previous jihadist groups, is attempting to build a state. That has opened up roles for women. Fighting, though, is off-limits. “Women in the Islamic State”, a document published in January by an all-female unit of IS known as the al-Khansaa Brigade (translated into English by the Quilliam Foundation, a counter-extremism think-tank in London), explains that women should be mothers and homemakers, while men are by nature restless; “if the roles are mixed the basis of humanity is thrown into a state of flux and instability.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Globalization Religion & Culture Violence Women * Economics, Politics Terrorism * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
...the list of things we’re not supposed to do anymore gets longer all the time. I recently encountered an article headlined:
IS YOUR HANDSHAKE AS DANGEROUS AS SMOKING?
The answer, in case you are a complete idiot, is: Of course your handshake is as dangerous as smoking. The article explains that handshakes transmit germs, which cause diseases such as MERS. MERS stands for “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome,” a fatal disease that may have originated in camels. This is yet another argument, as if we needed one, against shaking hands with camels. But the article suggests that we should consider not shaking hands with anybody.
Read it all.
President Obama isn’t alone in grappling with how best to counter ISIS and its brand of Islamic extremism—and convening summits for just that purpose. Earlier this week, the Muslim World League, a Saudi-backed alliance of Islamic NGOs, wrapped up a little-noticed three-day conference in Mecca on “Islam and Counterterrorism.” With the patronage of Saudi Arabia’s newly minted King Salman bin Abdulaziz and a keynote address by Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand imam of Sunni Islam’s most prestigious university, al-Azhar in Egypt, the program sought to address the nature of terrorism, its relationship to Islam, and what the Muslim community can do to prevent its members from becoming radicalized. The proceedings offered a counterpoint to the U.S. government’s narrative about the nature of the Islamic State and how to confront the group.
Obama has been criticized recently for attempting to delink ISIS (or ISIL, as he would put it) and other terrorist groups from Islam. The president has been sounding this note since the fall, when he insisted, “ISIL is not Islamic.” And there’s reason behind his rhetoric. Obama is seeking to combat rising Islamophobia in many parts of the world, assure Muslims that the United States is not at war with Islam, and fight a war against a barbarous terrorist organization that seeks its legitimacy through Islamic theology. Earlier this month, the White House and State Department hosted a Summit on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE), during which the president once again insisted, “We are at war with people who have perverted Islam,” and “No religion is responsible for terrorism. People are responsible for violence and terrorism.” The president hasn’t gone so far as to deny any connection between terrorism and Islam, but he tends to acknowledge the link by noting how ISIS and similar groups exploit Islam to justify violence while their true motivations are wholly distinct from their faith.
At the conference in Mecca, by contrast, speakers seem to have been less certain that Islamist terror can be divorced from Islam....
Read it all.
Read it all.
Children who sing in a choir, play in an orchestra or take to the stage are more likely to make good moral choices than their fellow classmates, a study has concluded.
But contrary to belief that sport promotes ideas of fair play and team spirit, the research concluded that playing games does nothing to strengthen people’s moral fibre.
Meanwhile those who go to church or other religious observances regularly emerged more likely to fare better in the face of moral dilemmas than their peers who do not.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Children Music Religion & Culture Teens / Youth Theatre/Drama/Plays * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Republican Gov. Nikki Haley has been meeting with some GOP House members — as recently as Tuesday at the Governor’s Mansion — in an effort to merge two competing road repair proposals.
Haley’s plan to fix S.C. roads and a proposal by state representatives had appeared to be on course for a head-on crash. But the two bills soon may become one vehicle, aimed at repairing and maintaining the state’s roads.
In meetings with House GOP caucus members, Haley has indicated a willingness to compromise on gas tax hikes, the size of a cut in the state’s income tax and how to restructure the state Transportation Department.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Travel * Economics, Politics Economy Taxes Energy, Natural Resources Politics in General State Government * South Carolina * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The V-shaped hand sign that made actor Leonard Nimoy famous as Mr. Spock may have seemed from a planet far away. But the “Star Trek” star who died Friday said he created it from childhood memories of his Jewish family.
“I reached back to my early years as a child when I was sitting in a synagogue in Boston with my family at the High Holidays,” he said in 2011 during a visit to B’nai Israel Congregation here. Nimoy was 83 and died in his home in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles.
Before the sold-out audience in suburban Washington three years ago, the actor re-enacted the blessing Jewish leaders recited at that Orthodox service. Prayer shawl over his head, he stuck out his hands in the shape of the sign he adapted for the TV show that ran for just three seasons in the 1960s but became an instant pop culture phenomenon.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Movies & Television Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Judaism
We thought this was great fun--check it out.
The Primate of Australia, Archbishop Philip Freier of Melbourne, and Archbishop Jeffrey Driver of Adelaide are concerned about the effect the changes will have on children and families.
The proposed changes would bring forward by 90 minutes to 7.30pm mature-aged material including violence, sexual content and advertising for alcohol, gambling and M-rated movies. PG-rated material would also be allowed across all channels all day.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Australia * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Movies & Television Religion & Culture * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Bangladeshis on Sunday paid tribute to an American critic of religious extremism killed in Dhaka, in the latest of a series of attacks on writers who support free thinking values in the Muslim-majority nation.
Avijit Roy, a US citizen of Bangladeshi origin, was hacked to death by machete-wielding assailants on Thursday after a book fair, sparking widespread condemnation from home and abroad.
His wife and fellow blogger Rafida Ahmed suffered head injuries and lost a finger and remains in hospital in a serious condition. The attack comes amid a crackdown on hardline Islamist groups, which have increased activities in recent years in the South Asian nation of 160 million people. No arrest has been made.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Religion & Culture Violence * International News & Commentary Asia Bangladesh
A prominent U.S. blogger, known for his writing against religious fundamentalism, has been hacked to death by unidentified attackers in Bangladesh's capital, police said Friday.
The attack on Avijit Roy, a Bangladesh-born U.S. citizen, took place late Thursday when he and his wife Rafida Ahmed, who was seriously injured in the attack, were returning from a book fair at Dhaka University.
It was not known who was behind the attack, but Roy's family and friends say he was a prominent voice against religious fanatics and received threats in the past. No groups have claimed the responsibility.
The local police chief, Sirajul Islam, told The Associated Press that the assailants used cleavers to attack Roy and his wife, who is also a blogger.
Read it all.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.If you want to read the whole 1910 speech you may find it here.
Read it all and follow all the links.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
I fear I will be in trouble once again with some people in the church as I find myself, in conscience, having to go against the line that the churches are taking on so-called three-parent families.
I am, to be clear, firmly in favour despite the opposition shown by some of my colleagues and a powerful lobby of critics from abroad.
A Bill passed by the House of Commons earlier this month will allow for a procedure in which a small proportion of a third person's DNA is used to create an embroyo in order to prevent potentially fatal genetic disorders. Scientists have found techniques to replace faulty mitochondrial DNA - mitrochondria are microscopic energy creating structures in the human cell - with donated DNA, and Britain is set to be the first country to endorse the practice.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Listen to it all and see what you think.
The historian Tom Holland tweeted...[yesterday] morning: ‘What #ISIS are doing to the people & culture of #Assyria is worthy of the Nazis. None of us can say we didn’t know....’
There are a few thousand Assyrians in Britain, many of whom were given right of entry because their grandfathers fought alongside the British in two world wars. They are immensely proud of their heritage, and fond of the British Museum where so much of it remains safe; can one imagine how they feel watching footage of these savages destroying what their ancestors built and which they hoped to pass on to their descendants?
There are currently Assyrian troops fighting alongside the Kurds on the front line with Isis, but they are short of weapons. They say they have got little military support from the West, just as they have received little political support in the past; before the latest crisis broke out Assyrians in Iraq campaigned for a safe haven in the Nineveh Plains where they and other minorities, namely the Yazidi, could protect themselves inside the country. Without support from the Americans, the Baghdad government would not agree, and in light of recent events it seems like a reasonable request now.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Europe Turkey Middle East Iran * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
It was scrappy and horrible at times but United did enough to win. The first-half was dire with the fans screaming 'attack, attack, attack' at every opportunity. Still, they were much better in the second half and deserved to win.
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What's Arnholter's big idea? It's simple. Ambitiously simple. Create a mural made by thousands of people in every state in the country, plus Washington, D.C. Call it the "Mural of America," make it about reminding people that humanity is a shared experience and allot 15 months, 16,000 miles and $175,000 to do it.
"It's important for this country," Arnholter says. "We're always bickering, so we miss the big picture. A woman once told me this project is about 'the cohesion of diversity.' That's the best way I've heard anyone describe it."
Traveling to a new state every weekend, with a break in the winter, Arnholter wants to stop by the Boston Marathon, the Las Vegas Art Festival, the Treme Gumbo Creole Festival in New Orleans and the Broad Ripple Art Fair. He'll use a similar route taken by the Ringling Brothers Circus in the 1900s. He'll live in an RV.
First stop: Pendleton, S.C.
Read it all.
Early in the summer of 2007, a doctoral student named Mehnaz M. Afridi traveled from her California home to a conference in southern Germany. Her official role was to deliver a paper on anti-Semitism in Egyptian literature, a rather loaded subject for a Muslim scholar. Seventy miles away, she had another appointment, and an even riskier agenda.
After the conference concluded, Ms. Afridi drove to the former concentration camp in Dachau, Germany. As she stood before the dun bricks of a crematorium, she prayed. “Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un,” she said in Arabic, meaning, “Surely we belong to God and to him shall we return.”
“I didn’t know that moment would be defining my role,” Dr. Afridi, 44, said a few weeks ago. “I didn’t even realize then that I was at a crossroads. People see the Holocaust and Islam as two separate things, but these stories of faith and catastrophe are not opposites. They are companions.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Education History Religion & Culture Violence * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam Judaism * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theodicy
China’s central bank cut interest rates on Saturday, just days before the annual meeting of the country’s parliament, in the latest effort to support the world’s second-largest economy as its momentum slows and deflation risks rise.
The central bank said the 25 basis point cut in the benchmark interest rate to 5.35 per cent - its second cut in just over three months - and a 25 basis point cut in the benchmark saving rate to 2.5 per cent would be effective from Sunday.
“The focus of the interest rate cut is to keep real interest rate levels suitable for fundamental trends in economic growth, prices and employment,” the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) said in a statement on its website.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Credit Markets Currency Markets Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Asia China
I was saddened to hear Leonard Nimoy died. It was even more sorrowful to find that years of smoking had caught up with him. I caught myself thinking: Spock smoked? Why would an ascetic, someone as fastidious about his health and logical about evidence-based science, ever take up smoking? And that mental jump from the actor to the character was what made Leonard Nimoy’s professional life a burden and a blessing—a hazard for many actors who play an iconic character.
About 20 years ago I was working at a photography magazine and attended an event in the Hayden Planetarium where Nimoy was a spokesman. It was for a photography product launch, although memory of what escapes me. There was a lunch and as the tables quickly filled a colleague and I picked one that had a few seats left. There was one empty seat, and Nimoy walked over, asked if the chair was taken and sat down. He barely touched his salad before he was completely bombarded with questions about Star Trek and Mr. Spock, which he politely and warmly answered, before he made a graceful exit. To confess, during the session I was fighting temptation to add to the pile-on, but it seemed to me that he wanted to talk about photography or anything else. I saw firsthand why he had written his 1975 autobiography, I am not Spock, albeit to great uproar from the Trek fan base. I also understood why he followed it with his second installment in 1995, I am Spock. Obviously Nimoy, no matter what he did or accomplished, was stuck with Spock, and decided to embrace his inner Vulcan science officer.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch History Movies & Television Science & Technology * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
Westminster Abbey has won planning permission to add its first new tower in almost 300 years, which will create public access to a museum of treasures and curiosities housed in the triforium, the church’s attic gallery.
At present, the public can get only a distant glimpse of the spectacular and shadowy space through the stone arches 70ft up at the top of the walls above the high altar.
The only way in is a perilous journey up narrow spiral staircases and along ledge-like passages high above the nave. The spectacular but vertigo-inducing view down to the altar and nave has mostly been enjoyed by maintenance staff and camera crews covering major state events.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Architecture Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues * International News & Commentary England / UK
Oh King of grief! (a title strange, yet true,
To thee of all kings only due)
Oh King of wounds! how shall I grieve for thee,
Who in all grief preventest me?
Shall I weep blood? why thou has wept such store
That all thy body was one door.
Shall I be scourged, flouted, boxed, sold?
'Tis but to tell the tale is told.
'My God, my God, why dost thou part from me? '
Was such a grief as cannot be.
But how then shall I imitate thee, and
Copy thy fair, though bloody hand?
Surely I will revenge me on thy love,
And try who shall victorious prove.
If thou dost give me wealth, I will restore
All back unto thee by the poor.
If thou dost give me honour, men shall see,
The honour doth belong to thee.
I will not marry; or, if she be mine,
She and her children shall be thine.
My bosom friend, if he blaspheme thy name,
I will tear thence his love and fame.
One half of me being gone, the rest I give
Unto some Chapel, die or live.
As for thy passion - But of that anon,
When with the other I have done.
For thy predestination I'll contrive,
That three years hence, if I survive,
I'll build a spittle, or mend common ways,
But mend mine own without delays.
Then I will use the works of thy creation,
As if I us'd them but for fashion.
The world and I will quarrel; and the year
Shall not perceive, that I am here.
My music shall find thee, and ev'ry string
Shall have his attribute to sing;
That all together may accord in thee,
And prove one God, one harmony.
If thou shalt give me wit, it shall appear;
If thou hast giv'n it me, 'tis here.
Nay, I will read thy book, and never move
Till I have found therein thy love;
Thy art of love, which I'll turn back on thee,
O my dear Saviour, Victory!
Then for thy passion - I will do for that -
Alas, my God, I know not what.
--George Herbert (1593-1633)
Our God and King, who didst call thy servant George Herbert from the pursuit of worldly honors to be a pastor of souls, a poet, and a priest in thy temple: Give unto us the grace, we beseech thee, joyfully to perform the tasks thou givest us to do, knowing that nothing is menial or common that is done for thy sake; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
At first, Eva Christiansen barely noticed the number. Her bank called to say that Ms. Christiansen, a 36-year-old entrepreneur here, had been approved for a small business loan. She whooped. She danced. A friend took pictures.
“I think I was so happy I got the loan, I didn’t hear everything he said,” she recalled.
And then she was told again about her interest rate. It was -0.0172 percent — less than zero. While there would be fees to pay, the bank would also pay interest to her. It was just a little over $1 a month. But still.
These are strange times for European borrowers, as if a wormhole has opened up to a parallel universe where the usual rules of financial gravity are suspended.
Read it all from the NYTimes Dealbook.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Credit Markets Currency Markets Euro European Central Bank Personal Finance The Banking System/Sector * International News & Commentary Europe Denmark * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
I am sitting by the swimming pool at the Canyon Ranch resort in Tucson, Arizona, only it is not really a resort, it is a fitness/wellness/life-enhancing centre where people who are very stressed come to detox and, as I am discovering, “find” themselves. But this resort is not brimming with stressed-out women, worn thin and ragged by juggling motherhood, wifedom and being the heads of companies. No. The classes here are full of men – men with great big identity issues.
There is 45-year-old Lee, who has just “gotten divorced” and has, in the course of a month, slept with 15 women. “I don’t see myself as that type of man,” he says, “but I feel so lonely and I don’t know what to do with my life.” There is Ryan, aged 53, who has never married and is in crisis about why he hasn’t. Then there is Steve, 49, a travel agent, long-time married, who has hit a midlife crisis. He says he really does want to buy a Harley-Davidson and head off down Route 66. “Is that wrong?” he asks. “I just don’t know what I want in my life anymore.”
They are all part of a “sandwich generation”: they sit between the baby boomers and the digital natives. And they are a group who have, according to recent statistics, lost their way.
Read it all.
Neuhaus sympathized with [many so-called 'conservatives'] grievances—over abortion and gay rights, challenges to school prayer and to Christian displays in public, and the coarsening of American culture. But he rejected their solution because the groups, he wrote, saw no reason “to engage the Christian message in conversation with public and universal discourse outside the circle of true believers.” Neuhaus instead affirmed the core premise of Enlightenment political thought: the differentiation of public authority into separate, autonomous spheres that valued individual rights.
He argued that the strongest support for these rights came from the Judeo-Christian tradition’s foundational conviction: We are made in the image of God. Demanding absolute obedience to political dictates, whether in the name of God or something else, would undo centuries of political progress, and goes against God’s own gift of free will to every human person.
And so he rejected the Christian right’s political project of establishing an explicitly Christian America. He further reasoned that if the right’s only argument for how Christians could contribute to American public life was through exclusively religious dictates, then it made sense that secular elites were pushing back so strongly.
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...an appreciation for human sinfulness—which Niebuhr drew from his Christian faith—helps us guard against unchecked power in government. But an appreciation for human potential—drawn from the Biblical notion that human beings are made in the image of God—should also lead us to value human freedom. As Niebuhr famously put it in his foreword, “Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.” Importantly, Niebuhr grounded democracy’s necessity in the nature of mankind, without qualification, not in cultural or social factors unique to the West. What is true about human nature in the West is also true of human nature in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Niebuhr then suggests—contrary to the realists who want to appropriate him—that the goodness of democracy should lead us, by love of our neighbor, to make its spread a part of our foreign policy. Niebuhr’s well-known complaint against Wilsonianism wasn’t that it was idealistic, but that it was naive. In Children of Light and the Children of Darkness he applauds the idealism of democracy, even as he understands that it will inevitably be hypocritical: “Hypocrisy and pretension are the inevitable concomitants of the engagement between morals and politics. But they do not arise where no effort is made to bring the power impulse of politics under the control of conscience.” The effort itself is sound in principle; better to be a failed idealist than a successful cynic.
This is the part of Niebuhr that today’s realists fail to hear.
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Cathy Keaton’s health insurance premium will jump nearly $400 each month if the U.S. Supreme Court rules that she’s ineligible for a federal subsidy to lower the price she pays.
The 63-year-old part-time College of Charleston student said she couldn’t afford coverage without the substantial discount she receives.
“It’s very scary for me,” Keaton said. “If I lose this, it means that I will have to make some really hard decisions until I can get Medicare.”
She’s not alone. Insurance premiums for thousands of HealthCare.gov customers in South Carolina could increase by 400 percent if the U.S. Supreme Court rules that they’re ineligible for subsidies this summer.
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A student group in South Africa this month called on all Jews to leave the Durban University of Technology, an act of anti-Semitism that Americans could not imagine on their own college campuses.
But a comprehensive survey of anti-Semitism at American colleges released this week shows that significant hostility is directed at Jews on U.S. campuses, too.
The National Demographic Survey of American Jewish College Students, produced by a Trinity College team well-known for its research on religious groups, found that 54 percent of Jewish students experienced anti-Semitism on campus in the first six months of the 2013-2014 academic year.
Professors Barry A. Kosmin and Ariela Keysar asked 1,157 students in an online questionnaire about the types, context and location of anti-Semitism they had encountered, and found that anti-Jewish bias is a problem for Jews of all levels of religious observance.
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New every morning is the love
our wakening and uprising prove;
through sleep and darkness safely brought,
restored to life and power and thought.
John Keble (1792-1866)
For months he taunted, knife in hand, his voice slightly muffled behind the mask that became the grim symbol of Islamic State barbarism.
But when the identity of the killer known as “Jihadi John” was revealed Thursday, the profile that emerged was disturbingly familiar: a young man whose parents’ decision to immigrate to the West afforded him a comfortable life and an education, but who ultimately found identity and succor in extremist ideology.
His name is Mohammed Emwazi. And despite friends’ descriptions of a polite and quiet man not capable of violence, Emwazi’s links to extremist groups appear to have been long-standing, and he was well known to counterterrorism officials in London before he went to Syria.
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What do you see as trends in seminaries regarding discernment of vocation?
I see an increasing focus on the pastor as a person—an increasing awareness of the importance of self-care and of developing strong spiritual disciplines. It used to be that seminary was a time when people’s spiritual discipline waned and their academic discipline increased. Now many seminaries emphasize integrating the spiritual, reflective process with the academic, which I think is all to the good.
We often talk about burnout as a problem among clergy. How do you understand that term?
When we see pastors who are experiencing burnout, sometimes it is simply because they are working too hard. But more often they are doing a lot of things that are not central to their sense of call. When people are working close to their sense of call and purpose and meaning, they can work really hard without feeling burned out. But when they are doing a lot of things that people are telling them should be done or that feel urgent but aren’t close to the heart, that is a strong indicator of burnout.
It’s been said that most pastors are a “quivering mass of availability,” eager to please everybody. That is a path to destruction.
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As usual your editorial on casino gambling reflects the past and current thinking in South Carolina that we must never move into the 21st century. The attitude of our politicians to keep South Carolina as backward as they can is bad enough. But for The Post and Courier to espouse the same old argument that any form of gambling is going to target the poor and irresponsible is just thinking from the past.
Are we to ignore the reality that if someone wants to gamble he will find a way, no matter the cost or any other obstacle? If you don’t believe that, go to any convenience store and observe who is buying all of those lottery tickets.
Wouldn’t it be something for visitors to Charleston to ride down I-26 through the neck area and see large casinos with hotels and theme park environments rather than the blighted area it now is?
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As reported in [a recent] ...Post and Courier, House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, D-Richland, wants to let voters decide, via statewide referendum, whether to legalize casino gambling.
Rep. Rutherford made his case this way last month: “If you have casinos on the coast and dedicate them as a funding source on our roads, you have something that goes into fixing a problem.”
But if you have casinos on the coast you also have other problems, including a notoriously unreliable source of funding from a cruel tax of sorts imposed to a significant degree on the poor, the gullible, and compulsive gamblers.
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A vision to create "one of the most significant interfaith centres in the world" in the City of London was unveiled on Wednesday night at the launch of a £20-million fund-raising appeal.
The planned centre, Coexist House, is the idea of Dr David Ford, Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Cambridge; and is supported by the Inner Temple, the Corporation of the City of London, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Coexist Foundation.
"Coexist House is designed as much for a secular audience as a religious audience and will not promote any one particular faith," the trustees say in a summary of their feasibility study. "It is a civic endeavour which would improve the way people understand religions and beliefs in all their variety. Nevertheless, it will offer a spiritual space, hospitable to all, in the heart of London."
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Regarding the latest legal victory, [Canon Jim] Lewis told CP that he expects the legal action to continue, as The Episcopal Church will likely appeal the Goodstein decision.
"While it is unfortunate that ministry resources on both sides will continue to be wasted in this fashion, it is entirely in keeping with TEC legal strategy," said Lewis, who drew parallels to a similar property case that took place in Illinois between The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Quincy.
"The court sanctions imposed against TEC in Illinois last week are the perfect illustration of the lengths to which their leadership is prepared to go in pursuit of its scorched earth policy. We have no reason to expect different behavior here in South Carolina."
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Two notable differences in family life in the United States have emerged in the past 60 years: average, middle-class families aren’t economically flourishing and there are fewer traditional family units than ever before. Lerman, now a professor of economics at American University and a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, says these two factors are linked. Changes in family structures have sabotaged the financial confidence of middle-class Americans and led to the decline of working-class men in the labor market, say Lerman and Bradford Wilcox in their 2014 paper for the American Enterprise Institute, “For richer, for poorer: How family structures economic success in America.”
The erosion of the intact family — as defined by Lerman and Wilcox as a retreat in marriage, an increase in cohabitation and out-of-wedlock births, a prevalence of single-parent homes, and a rise in step-families — has affected the economic outcomes of children and thus led to further income inequality between American families.
“Young men and women from intact families enjoy an annual ‘intact-family premium’ that amounts to $6,500 and $4,700, respectively, over the incomes of their peers from single-parent families,” wrote Lerman and Wilcox. “Men and women who are currently married and were raised in an intact family enjoy an annual 'family premium' in their household incomes that exceeds that of their unmarried peers who were not raised in intact families by at least $42,000.”
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New data shows America's use of opioids hasn't declined.
New federal data released Wednesday reveals the state of America’s pain killer use.
According to the numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the percentage of adults age 20 and over using prescription pain killers remains significantly higher than in the past, with people also taking stronger painkillers than before. Between 2011–2012, nearly 7% of adults reported using a prescription opioid analgesic in the past 30 days, compared to 5% in 2003-2006.
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Austria’s Parliament passed a law Wednesday (Feb. 25) that seeks to regulate how Islam is administered, singling out its large Muslim minority for treatment not applied to any other religious group.
The “Law on Islam” bans foreign funding for Islamic organizations and requires any group claiming to represent Austrian Muslims to submit and use a standardized German translation of the Quran.
The law met with little opposition from the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic population, was backed by Austria’s Catholic bishops, and was grudgingly accepted by the main Muslim organization. But it upset Turkey’s state religious establishment.
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This year’s survey works from a baseline of 1900 A.D., and makes projections out to 2050. Within that century and a half there’s some good news about the global human condition that ought to be kept in mind when remembering the bad news of the 20th century and the early 21st. For example: in 1900, 27.6 percent of adults in a world population of 1.6 billion were literate. In 2015, 81 percent of the adults in a global population of 7.3 billion are literate, and the projection is that, by 2050, 88 percent of the adults in a world of 9.5 billion people will be literate—a remarkable accomplishment.
Of the 7.3 billion human beings on Planet Earth today, 89 percent are religious believers, while 1.8 percent are professed atheists and another 9 percent are agnostics: which suggests that Chief Poobah of the New Atheists Richard Dawkins and his friends are not exactly winning the day, although their “market share” is up from 1900.
There were some 267 million Catholics in the world in 1900; today, the world Church counts 1.2 billion members, with a projected growth to 1.6 billion by the middle of the century. Yet in the last quarter of the 20th century Catholicism was displaced by Islam as the world’s largest religious community, as the global Muslim population grew from 571 million in 1970 to today’s 1.7 billion.
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At any given time, around 7,000 aircraft are flying over the United States. For the past 40 years, the same computer system has controlled all that high-altitude traffic—a relic of the 1970s known as Host. The core system predates the advent of the Global Positioning System, so Host uses point-to-point, ground-based radar. Every day, thousands of travelers switch their GPS-enabled smartphones to airplane mode while their flights are guided by technology that predates the Speak & Spell. If you're reading this at 30,000 feet, relax—Host is still safe, in terms of getting planes from point A to point B. But it's unbelievably inefficient. It can handle a limited amount of traffic, and controllers can't see anything outside of their own airspace—when they hand off a plane to a contiguous airspace, it vanishes from their radar.
The FAA knows all that. For 11 years the agency has been limping toward a collection of upgrades called NextGen. At its core is a new computer system that will replace Host and allow any controller, anywhere, to see any plane in US airspace. In theory, this would enable one air traffic control center to take over for another with the flip of a switch, as Howard seemed to believe was already possible. NextGen isn't vaporware; that core system was live in Chicago and the four adjacent centers when Howard attacked, and this spring it'll go online in all 20 US centers. But implementation has been a mess, with a cascade of delays, revisions, and unforeseen problems. Air traffic control can't do anything as sophisticated as Howard thought, and unless something changes about the way the FAA is managing NextGen, it probably never will.
This technology is complicated and novel, but that isn't the problem. The problem is that NextGen is a project of the FAA.
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Only 20 percent of disabled people work, compared to 68 percent of those who aren't disabled, according to September 2014 numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
[Valeria] Jensen saved the playhouse from demolition and founded the four-theater commercial movie house, a nonprofit, in historic Ridgefield. Most of the more than 80 theater employees are disabled. But they weren't there just because they have a disability, Jensen said.
"They're here because they are a really, really valuable employee," she said.
"We are 'The Prospector' after all," she noted. "And as prospectors I work with my prospects to find out what their sparkle is."
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Is a robot uprising coming in 2015?
Maybe – but only to show you up at the arcade.
Led by researchers Demis Hassabis and Volodymyr Mnih, Google-owned DeepMind Technologies has created an artificial intelligence capable of playing simple video games with minimal training. They described their breakthrough today in Nature.
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An interim government would be “alien to the constitution” says Mohammed Bello Adoke, the attorney-general. Mr Jonathan told the FT such a government could only emerge from a military coup. However, he could theoretically push back the polls and extend his tenure on a rolling six month basis by declaring the nation at war with Boko Haram insurgents. This would require the — unlikely — endorsement of two-thirds of the National Assembly. Alternatively if for whatever reason no winner emerges by May 29, the senate president, former army colonel David Mark, would stand in with 60 days to organise elections.
The fear is that without popular legitimacy, any government — military or civilian — will struggle to repair the fissures that will appear should Gen Buhari’s followers in the north believe him to have been cheated of victory. The same applies to a lesser degree to Mr Jonathan’s supporters, with former warlords in the oil-producing Niger delta threatening to take up arms again should he be bullied out of office. In such a febrile environment, there is a risk of ethnic killing especially in the north — as happened in 1965 in the run up to the Biafran civil war.
Nigeria has withdrawn from the brink on a number of occasions since. This time the army, potentially divided and already pinned down by Boko Haram, might have difficulty containing violence across many fronts, and the country’s future as one nation would be at stake. “These next five weeks are among the most dangerous in Nigeria’s history,” says Nasir el-Rufai, a former government minister contesting the Kaduna state governorship.
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Many times we are working with church structures of a different time. I have seen churches with 50 people attending on Sunday morning, and they maintain 12 committees.
There may have been a lot of retirees in the church, so we have committees who meet in the day.
Or there might have been a lot of people without children, so everyone meets at night—on a different night, to ensure that the pastor is at every meeting.
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Given that the connection of Islam to Muslim-majority cultures is particularly strong, does there not need to be, nevertheless, a proper distinction between religion and culture? Should not this be so, even if many cultural practices and values are derived from a particular religious tradition? The problem with identifying culture entirely with religion is that contextualization can begin to look very much like capitulation. The issue becomes sharply focused in the debate about “insiders,” or followers of Jesus within Muslim communities who maintain their Muslim identity. To what extent has there been conversion if people continue to participate in the salat (ritual prayer), make the shahada (the Muslim profession of faith), derive their knowledge of Jesus and devotion to him mainly from the Qur’an and the Hadith, and so on? Other questions concern the relation of communities of such followers (if they are in communities) to other local churches and the worldwide church. Also, how are persons and cultures to be transformed by the Gospel if the status quo ante is largely maintained? There remain serious questions about whether such communities or persons will be allowed to survive within the Dar al-Islam (House of Islam).
We must remember that evangelists and missionaries stand within the apostolic tradition and are not semidetached from it or outside it altogether. This means, for instance, not making up elements of contextualization but using the rich and varied sources of Christian tradition—for example, in patterns of worship, liturgy, the public reading of the Scriptures, and forms of private devotion. In Islamic contexts, we are particularly fortunate that so much has been taken from Eastern Christian traditions and can be reappropriated without violence to the integrity of the Gospel. The problem sometimes is that Western Christian missionaries, and even Westernized indigenous Christians, are unaware of this rich heritage waiting on their doorstep or are suspicious of it. In some places, Islam is an import into an existing Christian culture; elsewhere, both Christianity and Islam have come from outside. Whatever the case, rich resources for inculturation are available because of the historic interaction between Muslims and Christians. Let us use them!
The book represents a brave attempt at assessing the many opportunities and problems for Christian witness in Muslim contexts. I hope it is only the beginning and that some of the issues raised in this review essay will be tackled at the next conference and in any publications that result from it.
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Three men from Brooklyn have been arrested and charged with trying to help the Islamic State, according to a criminal complaint unsealed in federal court on Wednesday.
They had also discussed harming President Obama and carrying out attacks in the United States if they were unable to travel overseas. One of the three men was arrested while trying to fly to Turkey, where authorities say he planned to head to the border with Syria to meet with representatives from the Islamic State. Another of the men planned to follow him there next month, while the third man was helping finance some of these travel efforts.
These are the latest in a string of similar arrests, episodes that have highlighted the concerns of federal officials who have publicly worried that young people in the United States could be lured to join the militant group in Syria.
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“When I got into the field, the notion that you could actually do something about the aging process was viewed as a crackpot idea,” says Richard Miller, director of the Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging at the University of Michigan. “The argument that one can slow aging, and diseases of aging along with it, used to be fantasy, but now we see it like a scientific strategy.”
Nobody is talking about living forever. But as these experts see it, aging is the single most powerful factor in the diseases that are most likely to cut our lives short: cancer, heart problems, immune disorders and degenerative brain conditions like Alzheimer’s. “Everybody knows that the main risk factors for heart disease are high cholesterol, obesity and high blood pressure,” says Dr. Felipe Sierra, director of the division of aging biology at the National Institute on Aging (NIA). “But even stronger than those factors is just being 70 years old.”
And that’s why staving off aging–or at least slowing it–has become such a central focus of research. “We’re going at aging itself,” says David Sinclair, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School. “We might take someone who is showing signs of aging and be able to do something about it, to treat that as a disease. That’s something I didn’t expect to be seeing in my lifetime.”
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Last month, the speaker of the Russian parliament solemnly instructed his foreign affairs committee to launch a historical investigation: was West Germany’s ‘annexation’ of East Germany really legal? Should it be condemned? Ought it to be reversed? Last week, the Russian foreign minister, speaking at a security conference in Munich, hinted that he might have similar doubts. ‘Germany’s reunification was conducted without any referendum,’ he declared, ominously.
At this, the normally staid audience burst out laughing. The Germans in the room found the Russian statements particularly hilarious. Undo German unification? Why, that would require undoing the whole post-Cold War settlement!
Which is indeed a very amusing notion — unless you think that this is exactly what the Russian speaker, the Russian foreign minister, and indeed the Russian President, a man who once called the collapse of the Soviet Union ‘the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century’, are in fact trying to achieve.
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At the U.S. Supreme Court, you know that it's going to be a hot argument when the usually straight-faced Justice Samuel Alito begins a question this way: "Let's say four people show up for a job interview ... this is going to sound like a joke, but it's not."
The issue before the court on Wednesday was whether retailer Abercrombie & Fitch violated the federal law banning religious discrimination when it rejected a highly rated job applicant because she wore a Muslim headscarf.
Alito's hypothetical continued this way: The first of the four applicants to show up at Abercrombie is a Sikh man wearing a turban; the second is a Hasidic man wearing a hat; the third is a Muslim woman wearing a hijab; the fourth is a Catholic nun in a habit. Now, Alito asked Abercrombie's lawyer: "Do you think that those people have to say, we just want to tell you, we're dressed this way for a religious reason? We're not just trying to make a fashion statement." Or, might we reasonably conclude that Abercrombie knows why they are dressed that way?
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A book which helped changed the course of English history, part of the evidence Henry VIII and his lawyers gathered in the 1530s to help win an annulment from Catherine of Aragon and ultimately to break with Rome, has turned up on the shelves of the magnificent library at Lanhydrock, a National Trust mansion in Cornwall.
The book, a summary of the theories of the medieval philosopher and theologian William of Ockham, has been newly identified by a US scholar and expert on the history of Henry’s library. The book was damaged but escaped destruction in a disastrous fire at the house in 1881, and crucially the fly-leaf survived. It still carries the number 282, written in black ink in the top right-hand corner, which Prof James Carley identified as corresponding with an inventory taken in 1542 of the most important of Henry’s books, five years before the king’s death.
Paul Holden, the house and collections manager at Lanhydrock, said: “It was an amazing moment. The old long gallery here is about the length of a football pitch, and the professor lapped it about six times when we found the book.”
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Narrating the details of my seventy-plus year pilgrimage would bore me almost as much as it would bore others. I do, however, remember a few events that might be interesting enough for public airing. One of them is the time that I turned down an invitation to appear in Penthouse magazine.
The phone call—it was the late 1970s, I think—came to our home in Grand Rapids late one afternoon. A pleasant woman asked me if I was willing to fly to New York City to serve on a panel of religious ethicists discussing “evangelicals and sexuality.” When I asked about the sponsorship of the panel, she immediately told me she would get to that topic after some other details, and then she reeled off the proposed date and the amount of a generous honorarium. I persisted: Who was sponsoring the panel? She answered: “I am calling on behalf of Bob Guccione of Penthouse magazine.”
“Oh, for crying out loud!” I exclaimed into the phone, and began to say that I would not do it. But she shot back, mentioning that a well-known professor from a university religion department had assured her that I was the right kind of person to appear in this published discussion. I got angry, urging her to tell the professor and Mr. Guccione what they were “full of.” And I hung up.
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Thirty-seven percent of Americans are satisfied and 61% dissatisfied with the position of the U.S. in the world today. These views are unchanged from last year, even after a series of significant challenges for U.S. foreign policy. Americans' satisfaction is a bit higher than at the end of the Bush administration and at the beginning of the Obama administration, but remains well below where it was in the early 2000s.
The results are from Gallup's annual World Affairs survey, conducted Feb. 8-11. Americans' satisfaction held steady in the past year, even as the U.S. was forced to deal with the rise of Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria, a dispute with Russia over Ukrainian separatists in the eastern part of Ukraine, heightened tensions between the Israelis and Palestinians, and ongoing policy disagreements involving North Korea and Iran. The lack of change may be attributable to Americans' already high level of dissatisfaction with the nation's world position, with those events and the way the U.S. handled them serving to reinforce the dissatisfaction rather than to worsen or even improve it.
Americans have been more likely to be dissatisfied than satisfied with the position of the U.S. in the world since 2004, about the time it became clear that the U.S. military action in Iraq was running into problems that could -- and did -- lead to a prolonged U.S. commitment there. Satisfaction fell to a low of 30% in the final year of George W. Bush's administration and remained low in the very early stages of Barack Obama's presidency. Americans' satisfaction is modestly higher now than at that point, but has leveled off.
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[Elon] Musk, [Bill] Gates and [Stephen] Hawking made headlines by speaking to the dangers that A.I. may pose. Their points are important, but I fear were largely misunderstood by many readers. Relying on efforts to program A.I. not to “harm humans” (inspired by on Isaac Asimov’s “three laws” of robotics from 1942) makes sense only when an A.I. knows what humans are and what harming them might mean. There are many ways that an A.I. might harm us that that have nothing to do with its malevolence toward us, and chief among these is exactly following our well-meaning instructions to an idiotic and catastrophic extreme. Instead of mechanical failure or a transgression of moral code, the A.I. may pose an existential risk because it is both powerfully intelligent and disinterested in humans. To the extent that we recognize A.I. by its anthropomorphic qualities, or presume its preoccupation with us, we are vulnerable to those eventualities.
Read it carefully and read it all (emphasis mine).
Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan has said the tide has "definitely turned" against militant Islamists as regional forces recapture territory.
His comments came hours after Boko Haram militants were blamed for killing 27 people in bombings in two commercial centres in the north on Tuesday.
Boko Haram had hit "soft targets" because of the setbacks it had suffered in battle, Mr Jonathan said.
Regional forces have recaptured eight major towns in recent weeks.
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Water Missions International announced Tuesday that it is doubling its response to severe flooding that impacted southern Malawi in recent weeks.
An agreement between the Charleston-based nonprofit and UNICEF Malawi aims to increase safe water projects from eight to 17 communities in the African country, according to a news release.
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The World Council of Churches condemns the latest attacks and atrocities by the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) most recently against Christian villages in the region of Khabour in the governorate of Hassake, Syria. According to reports received, in the early morning of 23 February large numbers of IS fighters attacked these villages, killing a number of civilians, taking approximately 100 people captive, and provoking a mass exodus from these communities. These attacks seem to be attempts at opening a new corridor towards the Turkish border that could facilitate the procurement of both weapons and mercenaries.
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In other words the Muslim states have often denounced “terrorism,” but only by defining that term to exclude any and all attacks against Israel and miscellaneous other depredations, such as against Americans in Iraq, undertaken in the name of “national resistance.” To countenance terror in some cases is to countenance terror, period. Who, after all, would support terror on behalf of causes that he opposes? Just as the only meaningful test of support for free speech is support for speech with which one does not agree, so the only meaningful measure of opposition to terrorism is to condemn it even if carried out in the service of a cause of which one approves.
This the Muslim world remains reluctant to do. Palestine is its signature cause. Although the Palestinians did not invent terror, it was Fatah and kindred Palestinian groups that in the 1970s, with their attacks on airplanes, ships, trains, embassies, and even the Olympic Games, made terrorism the scourge of international life that it is today and inspired others to emulate their deeds. Yet how many Muslim voices can be heard anywhere decrying Palestinian terror? Even the Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas, which has repeatedly renounced terrorism, continues to honor child-murderers and pay stipends to imprisoned terrorists and the families of deceased terrorists. Its official news agency described last summer’s killers of three Israeli teens as “martyrs.” This past November, when four rabbis were hacked to death in prayer in Jerusalem, Abbas condemned the deed, but that same day, as Palestinian Media Watch has documented, Fatah’s Facebook page signaled to the Palestinians that he did not really mean it. It posted a clip from a television interview with one of Arafat’s bodyguards describing how Arafat sometimes bowed to foreign pressure to condemn terror attacks but would do so insincerely because, the guard explained, Islam allows lying under such circumstances. Any viewer would grasp the implication that Abbas was acting in the same manner as his predecessor.
Aside from playing semantic games with the word terrorism, there is another reason that helps to explain why the world’s Muslim governments maintain a strong front in defense of terrorism even while surveys, like Pew’s, suggest that most Muslims reject violence against civilians. The political dynamics of any community are shaped only in part by the proportion of people who believe one thing or another. They are also shaped by the intensity with which views are held. A huge advantage accrues to those who, in Yeats’s line, “are full of passionate intensity.” Today, in the Muslim world, the passionate ones are the Islamists.
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A NBC News investigation has found that many 911 centers around the country still rely on dated technology instead of something as widely used as Google maps, which means dispatchers may not be able to find you when it matters most. Experts call it a public safety crisis, stating that the majority of wireless calls to 911, some 60 percent of callers, cannot be located by emergency dispatchers.
Read it all and watch the whole chilling video report.
I did know he was a vet and so I did what seemed natural: I thanked him for his service.
“No problem,” he said.
It wasn’t true. There was a problem. I could see it from the way he looked down. And I could see it on the faces of some of the other vets who work with Mr. Garth when I thanked them too. What gives, I asked? Who doesn’t want to be thanked for their military service?
Many people, it turns out. Mike Freedman, a Green Beret, calls it the “thank you for your service phenomenon.” To some recent vets — by no stretch all of them — the thanks comes across as shallow, disconnected, a reflexive offering from people who, while meaning well, have no clue what soldiers did over there or what motivated them to go, and who would never have gone themselves nor sent their own sons and daughters.
To these vets, thanking soldiers for their service symbolizes the ease of sending a volunteer army to wage war at great distance — physically, spiritually, economically. It raises questions of the meaning of patriotism, shared purpose and, pointedly, what you’re supposed to say to those who put their lives on the line and are uncomfortable about being thanked for it.
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Religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq are living at the edge of extinction.
They are marginalized and under threat from the genocidal actions of the Islamic State in Iraq, resulting in the purging of religious and ethnic minorities from their historic homes.
If immediate action is not taken, the existence of religious and ethnic minority communities, such as Christians, Yazidis, Shabak and Turkmen, will continue on a trajectory of precipitous decline into virtual non-existence.
In the last decade, the Christian community has plummeted from approximately 1.5 million to 300,000.
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Maybe you’ve heard the famous story of the blind men and the elephant. The story is told from the vantage point of a king who watches as men grapple with the reality of the massive creature:
One man holds the tail, another its tusks; one person grasps the elephant’s ears, another touches its massive body. Each person insists the creature is as his perspective allows, which is why the story is often quoted in the interest of religious pluralism, even agnosticism.
Except, as Daniel Strange notes in his new book Their Rock Is Not Like Our Rock, the story demonstrates epistemic arrogance, for the king insists he sees the whole elephantine truth that all the world religions miss!
Given this story, when it comes to a theology of religions Strange insists one needs to reveal the foundation upon which they base their authority....
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Samantha Elauf was apprehensive to interview for a sales job at retailer Abercrombie & Fitch in 2008 because the 17 year old wore a headscarf in accordance with her Muslim faith. But a friend of hers, who worked at the store, said he didn't think it would be a problem as long as the headscarf wasn't black because the store doesn't sell black clothes.
Ultimately Elauf failed to get the job, and her story has triggered a religious freedom debate regarding when an employer can be held liable under civil rights laws . The Supreme Court will hear the case on Wednesday.
Like many retailers Abercrombie has a "look policy" aimed to promote what it calls its "classic East Coast collegiate style of clothing."
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It happens every year. In teaching my humanities class, I ask what a philosopher had in mind in writing about the immortality of the soul or salvation, and suddenly my normally loquacious undergraduates start staring down intently at their notes. If I ask them a factual theological question about the Protestant Reformation, they are ready with an answer: predestination, faith not works, etc.
But if I go on to ask them how one knows in one’s heart that one is saved, they turn back to their notes. They look anywhere but at me, for fear that I might ask them about feeling the love of God or about having a heart filled with faith. In this intellectual history class, we talk about sexuality and identity, violence and revolution, art and obscenity, and the students are generally eager to weigh in. But when the topic of religious feeling and experience comes up, they would obviously just prefer that I move on to another subject.
Why is it so hard for my very smart students to make this leap—not the leap of faith but the leap of historical imagination? I’m not trying to make a religious believer out of anybody, but I do want my students to have a nuanced sense of how ideas of knowledge, politics and ethics have been intertwined with religious faith and practice.
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...ECUSA argued, Bishop Lawrence should have been prevented, by the doctrine of "judicial estoppel," from so changing course and citing All Saints as a precedent to Judge Goodstein. Instead, they contended, he was required to stick to the same old arguments his predecessor had made before the South Carolina Supreme Court's 2009 ruling.
Except -- their argument overlooked one small but highly significant detail: as a decision by the State's highest court, All Saints Waccamaw is binding on all churches similarly situated -- including specifically, the Episcopal Church which had lost its argument to that Court -- and on all lower courts in South Carolina.
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Undaunted by the slaughter of 21 Christians in Libya, the director of the Bible Society of Egypt saw a golden gospel opportunity.
“We must have a Scripture tract ready to distribute to the nation as soon as possible,” Ramez Atallah told his staff the evening an ISIS-linked group released its gruesome propaganda video. Less than 36 hours later, Two Rows by the Sea was sent to the printer.
One week later, 1.65 million copies have been distributed in the Bible Society’s largest campaign ever. It eclipses even the 1 million tracts distributed after the 2012 death of Shenouda, the Coptic "Pope of the Bible."
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The number of words we can’t use without offending is ever growing, and if the supporters of the right-to-die movement have their way, it will stretch yet again to include the word “suicide.” At least when that suicide is the result of a dying patient taking a lethal dose of drugs to avoid impending mental and physical anguish.
It’s insensitive at best to use the “S” word in this context, I’ve been informed by several advocates, because people would not be choosing this option because of a psychiatric disorder or despair over life. They don’t want to die; their diseases have forced that on them. Senate Bill 128, legislation recently introduced in California to allow physicians to write lethal prescriptions under tightly controlled circumstances, not only refrains from calling this suicide but would not allow death certificates to reflect how the death occurred.
“The cause of death listed on an individual’s death certificate who uses aid-in-dying medication shall be the underlying terminal illness,” it reads.
In other words, it wouldn't mention the legal drugs that actually caused the death. The public should have a problem with that.
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The Church of England has defended its stance on the Living Wage after it was revealed that cathedrals and churches were hiring staff on salaries below the benchmark.
An investigation by The Sun found that Canterbury Cathedral was advertising for porters and kiosk assistants on salaries between £6.70 and £7.75 an hour. The Living Wage (outside London) is currently set at £7.85.
Lichfield Cathedral was also revealed to be hiring waiting staff on £6.50 an hour, which is the national minimum wage.
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"The Pastoral letter from the House of Bishops was addressed to churches and encouraged them to implement the living wage. The Living Wage Commission, chaired by the Archbishop of York, recognised in its report last year, that a phased implementation may be necessary in some businesses and organisations. It welcomed employers seeking to implement the pay level progressively. What is important is that those who can, do so, as soon as is practically possible. The vast majority of those employed by or sub-contracted to the Church's central institutions are already paid at least the Living Wage and all will be by April 2017...."
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If very few of the sexual acts of today’s identity politics are procreative, that has certainly not inhibited their proponents’ impressive ability to give birth to endless categories of sexual preference. This is the result of more than a mere lack of conceptual contraception. It also indicates the loss of any sense that sex in itself might carry some kind of larger moral significance. Indeed, the plethora of sexual identities now available witness to the fact that there is no longer any basis for rejecting any kind of sexual act, considered in itself, as intrinsically wrong. The multiplication of such categories is part of rendering sex amoral: When everything is legitimate, then nothing has particular moral significance.
This endless expansion of sexual categories is a necessary consequence of what is now the fundamental tenet of modern sexual politics, and perhaps a key element of modern politics in general: That a person’s attitude to sex is the primary criterion for assessing their moral standing in the public square. If you say that sex has intrinsic moral significance, then you set it within a larger moral framework and set limits to the legitimate use of sex. In doing so, you declare certain sexual acts illegitimate, something which is now considered hate speech. This constant coining of new categories of sexual identity serves both to demonstrate this and to facilitate its policing.
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[ISIS] ...militants have kidnapped dozens of people from Christian villages in Syria, a human rights watchdog has said.
According to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the militants stormed at least two villages, inhabited by the ancient Assyrian Christian minority, shortly after dawn, taking some 90 civilians captive.
Nuri Kino, the head of the activist group A Demand For Action, quoted villagers who fled the attacks as saying between 70 and 100 people are being held.
A number of children are understood to be among them.
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The motion had to be filed before an appeal can move forward.
“Their policy of using legal action to drain the finances of dissident congregations is not working. It only deflects denomination resources from projects to promote the faith and speeds the downward spiral of the Episcopal Church,” said the Rev. Jim Lewis, canon to the ordinary for the Diocese of South Carolina, whose parishes left the national church in 2012.
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After analyzing the record to find that TEC had waived any right to claim that there were separate funds in the single account, the Court observed:
During the argument on these issues, TEC argued that it did not freeze the account, PNC did. To say this argument lacks merit would be charitable. While TEC, in a very literal sense, is correct on “who” froze the account, the “why” is the more important issue. PNC froze the account because it received a letter from counsel for TEC which threatened to hold PNC liable if funds were disbursed.There is much more to savor in the Court’s order. It is gratifying to have a trial judge (not the one who rendered the original Quincy decision) see so clearly through TEC’s bullying tactics, and to deal with them accordingly.
The court finds, based upon this record, that the continued threat made to PNC Bank to hold it accountable if funds were disbursed and the continued attempt to collaterally attack the clear order of this court dated October 9, 2013 even after this case had run its course through the appellate process constitutes bad faith, is not grounded in fact or existing law and has resulted in needless, ongoing and expensive litigation.
Accordingly, the court grants the request of the Plaintiffs for fees incurred from December 30, 2014 onward pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 137.
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Elder care is also often done for low wages by new or undocumented immigrants. Will that change?
Manufacturing in the ’20s and ’30s was sweatshop work, largely done by new immigrants. We turned factory work into good jobs with pathways to opportunities. That professionalization was the basis for 20th century prosperity. That’s what the care workforce needs to be. These have the potential to be really good jobs.
You compare investing in home-care workers to investing in railways or the Internet. But aren’t those about growth, not dying?
For working-age adults right now, especially with what they call the sandwich generation–people who are caring for children and aging parents–this is having an impact on their productivity.
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Nadia Bulkin, 27, the daughter of a Muslim father and a Christian mother, spends “zero time” thinking about God.
And she finds that among her friends — both guys and gals — many are just as spiritually disconnected.
Surveys have long shown women lead more active lives of faith than men, and that millennials are less interested than earlier generations. One in three now claim no religious identity.
What may be new is that more women, generation by generation, are moving in the direction of men — away from faith, religious commitment, even away from vaguely spiritual views like “a deep sense of wonder about the universe,” according to some surveys.
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A couple of days ago, a senior African cleric was holding forth on the need to combine religious instruction with, in the broadest sense, sex education. Both at home and at school, declared Archbishop Henri Isingoma, boys must be taught about the higher purpose of sex as "the way God wanted to make the human race continue". Another acute problem, he added, was "ignorance of the responsibilities of men towards women." He was speaking in a webinar organised by a department of the global Anglican church, drawing in clergy and church workers from their own and other Christian confessions.
So...was this one more depressing display of the giant cultural gap between the liberal north and the traditional south, especially over sexuality, which is tearing apart the 80m-strong Anglican Communion, and many other religious bodies?
No, it was nothing of the kind, and that's what made the discussion more worthwhile. The topic was "gender-based violence" which is a catchall term that describes both domestic cruelty and the still-greater horrors that take place on battlefields when soldiers run amok and commit rape. Victims of GBV are mainly female, but they also include men and boys. And the striking thing was that on this exceptionally grave subject, "conservatives" and "liberals" plainly find it useful to talk and cooperate, and the talk goes well beyond platitudes.
Mara Luz, an Anglican church worker from Brazil, said 40% of women in her country experienced some kind of violence; there were well-written laws, but implementation was very poor, especially in remote areas.
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We can only imagine the agony of Edward Mallen’s parents, for whom “a normal Monday afternoon became a horrifying nightmare where one is staring into this appalling abyss of grief” when police knocked on their door last week to say that their 18-year-old son had been killed by a train. Intelligent, gifted, kind and humble, head boy twice over — by all accounts, Edward was a remarkable young man. Twelve A*s at GCSE, a place at Cambridge to read geography, grade eight at piano and popular.
Yet shortly after Christmas depression consumed him. His father said: “Often there is a trigger, some trauma, but there didn’t seem to be in this case. My son had a sickness — a biological sickness — that overtook him very rapidly. It happened over six to eight weeks.” The shocking fact is that this is not an isolated incident. Talking to experts and parents, I get a sense that self-harm, a destructive way of coping with emotional pain, has reached epidemic proportions.
According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ 2010 report on public mental health, half of those who suffer mental-health problems in adult life display difficulties by the age of 14. Three quarters of mental illness is present by the mid-twenties. While three times as many women as men attempt suicide, Office for National Statistics figures show that 78 per cent of suicides in 2013 were male (up from 63 per cent in 1981).
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West Ashley High student Christian Bohn shouted words of encouragement as his classmate James Williams guided an underwater robot — weighted down with a wobbly peg — across a slotted box at the bottom of the pool.
“You got it, you got it!” Bohn exclaimed, as Williams plopped the peg into a tiny hole.
The West Ashley seniors were among more than 50 middle and high school students from six Charleston and Dorchester county schools who competed Thursday in the Charleston Regional SeaPerch Competition at Danny Jones Pool in North Charleston. Students battled it out for a chance to compete in the 2015 SeaPerch National Challenge in May at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
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I am going to speak today, principally, about why discipleship compels us to be concerned with matters of politics and active participation in politics, and a little about some of the issues we face.
We should never lose sight of the fact, when we are engaging in politics as to why it matters so much. We have the great good fortune, whichever party we support, whichever part of politics we come from, to be able to do that without fear in this country. And let us today remember that in many parts of the world, and particularly in Northern Iraq, in parts of Libya, in Northern Nigeria, that were we to gather in a room like this today, it would be almost certainly the cause of our death. And usually in a very terrible way.
And so the business of engagement in politics is in part a celebration of what we have in this country. And a proclamation that we are deeply committed to a society where freedom of expression and justice are at its heart. Where nobody is excluded because they are poor or rich, or one ethnic background or another or a sexuality. But they are all included with equal value in their opinions.
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The Irish Church today is still marked by relatively high levels of religious adherence and participation compared to most of its fellow European countries. Two of the book’s contributors, Elizabeth Oldmixon and Brian Calfano, find most Irish Catholic priests do not feel “burned-out” and report reasonably high levels of job satisfaction, in line with ministers in other religious traditions.
Another contributor, Bernadette Flanagan, finds a lively spirituality still at work within the Church, one that can now be informed by practices from other cultures as well as from the country’s own past.
Throughout the essays, the writers agree the potential is great for an Irish Catholicism that otherwise stands liberated from long relationships to political power and social privilege.
Read it all from the Irish Times.
Most Americans hold on to the hope of eternal life. This belief has remained relatively unchanged in recent decades despite a rise in secularism and the visibility of prominent atheist authors such as Richard Dawkins decrying such ideas as delusions.
In the 1976 General Social Survey, nearly three-quarters of respondents said they believed in a life after death. The percentage holding that belief was unchanged in the 2012 survey.
And for many people, this is a great resource. In general, a number of studies indicate a strong faith and a deeply held belief in the afterlife allows individuals to better cope with their own fears of mortality.
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I only managed 7/12--see how you do.
About a year and a half ago, [Nina} McCarthy took out another, different kind of loan. She went to her pastor, Rodney Hunter, at Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church in Richmond. Hunter helped her borrow $700 so she could make a dent in paying off her mounting credit card debt, then about $8,000.
Here’s how it worked: McCarthy’s church offered funds as collateral so she could qualify for a loan through the Virginia United Methodist Credit Union. McCarthy agreed to repay the loan at an annualized interest rate of about 6 percent – meaning monthly payments of $25 for about 2 1/2 years, drawn right out of her bank account.
McCarthy is one month behind on the church loan, but she’s confident she’ll catch up this month. “I’m real grateful for it,” she said.
The program is called the Jubilee Assistance Fund. In 7 1/2 years, it has helped parishioners of the United Methodist Church secure 14 loans – from $500 to $8,800 – according to Carol Mathis, chief executive of the credit union.
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To state the obvious, Europe does not have state-sponsored pogroms or discriminatory Nuremberg laws. In western Europe Jews are more integrated than ever; often their real worry is of decline through assimilation. In much of the east, there has been a flowering of Jewish life since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Berlin itself boasts Europe’s fastest-growing Jewish community. The far right in Hungary really is anti-Semitic, but in France and the Netherlands these days populists now abjure anti-Semitism, even as they denounce Muslim migrants.
Moving to Israel may fulfil a religious, cultural or political longing for some Jews—but it is hardly safer. As the Danish chief rabbi rightly put it, emigrating to Israel should be out of love, not fear. European democracies must ensure that this remains so. Given their dire history of Jew-hatred—from the Norwich blood libel in 1144 to the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492 to the Nazi Holocaust—Europeans must be ever-vigilant against any sign of anti-Semitism, whether of the old endemic Christian sort or the newer Islamist variety.
Like all Europeans, Jews must be able to live free from the fear of violence. This means greater protection for Jewish institutions. Security forces must try to protect innumerable soft targets, and these days these almost always include Jews.
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“Luther says we live in and through our neighbor,” Duran explains. “Most of our congregations were planted for the neighborhood.” But when neighborhoods changed, congregations often resisted transformation. Members began commuting to attend church. Then, Duran said, “the neighbors became the object of the church’s ministry rather than the subject.” Duran wants the neighbors to be the subject again.
The church’s strategy is to “shut up and learn”—to listen and reconnect with diverse neighborhoods, including the working poor and young adults who grew up in the suburbs but are now relocating in cities. “There are so many people in our neighborhoods who are doing God’s work,” Duran said, “but they just don’t know it yet.”
The ELCA has set up a process by which men and women who have the gifts and skills for ministry but who haven’t attended seminary can be full-time pastors—“lay mission developers”—serving with the blessing of the community and the bishop.
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A fierce debate has been reignited in Quebec over religious accommodation after three mayors blocked Muslim speakers and projects, and opposition lawmakers cranked up pressure on the province’s Liberal government to protect traditional values.
Some Muslim leaders say the moves represent a hardening stand not just against Muslim extremism but against Islam in general – one that is forcing a return to a thorny issue many Quebeckers thought had died down after the high-profile fight over the failed Quebec Charter of Values. As in that debate, Muslims say the new actions taken by the mayors are muzzling their ability to practise their religion, while others argue the moves were made for the greater public good.
Debate over religious accommodation and what motivated last fall’s attacks in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Ottawa were still simmering in Quebec when Islamist terrorists struck the Paris offices of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in early January. The Paris attack resonated strongly in Quebec, also a secularist society with a swelling Muslim population.
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Our world-wide flight from family constitutes a significant international victory for self-actualization over self-sacrifice, and might even be said to mark a new chapter in humanity’s conscious pursuit of happiness. But these voluntary changes also have unintended consequences. The deleterious impact on the hardly inconsequential numbers of children disadvantaged by the flight from the family is already plain enough. So too the damaging role of divorce and out-of-wedlock childbearing in exacerbating income disparities and wealth gaps—for society as a whole, but especially for children. Yes, children are resilient and all that. But the flight from family most assuredly comes at the expense of the vulnerable young.
That same flight also has unforgiving implications for the vulnerable old. With America’s baby boomers reaching retirement, and a world-wide “gray wave” around the corner, we are about to learn the meaning of those implications firsthand.
In the decades ahead, ever more care and support for seniors will be required, especially for the growing contingent among the elderly who will be victims of dementia, or are childless and socially isolated. Remember, a longevity revolution is also under way. Yet by some cruel cosmic irony, family structures and family members will be less capable, and perhaps also less willing, to provide that care and support than ever before.
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Pastor Phillip Heinze began holding church services in a bar when he realized that attending a regular church was uncomfortable for some people. “They say the most difficult thing for us was walking through those doors—that for us church just is a scary place. That was probably the conversation that informed me the most. I said, well, let’s try a new church in place that’s not so scary.” There are a growing number of religious services and conversations in pubs, but the trend has its critics.
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Walker Percy gives fictional life to our contemporary hell ruled by the Prince of this world in both its bestial and angelic expressions. He reveals that we are already inhabiting a city of the dead populated by the corpses of souls. Percy warns against slothfully resigning ourselves to existence in this earthly hell, even though we know that it will eventually work its own self-destruction.
Yet he also cautions against our rising up in wrath against these demonic forces, lest we remake ourselves in their image by returning evil for evil. This more excellent way lies in the formation of true selves in the Body of Christ, not in the redemption of solitary souls through an invisible spiritual inwardness. The more abundant life is found, instead, in the sacramental and communal life of the Church.
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The brother of two of the 21 Coptic Christians murdered in Libya last week has thanked their killers for including the men's declaration of faith in the video they made of their beheadings.
Speaking on a live prayer and worship programme on Christian channel SAT-7 ARABIC yesterday, Beshir Kamel said that he was proud of his brothers Bishoy Estafanos Kamel (25) and Samuel Estafanos Kamel (23) because they were "a badge of honour to Christianity".
Harrowing scenes of the murders have been seen around the world. The last words of some of those killed were "Lord Jesus Christ".
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On the eve of Chinese New Year, photos of a father and daughter traveling to see her grandparents have gone viral – picked up by dozens of blogs and media outlets worldwide.
Seen waiting together in Beijing Capital International Airport, Chen Yen has handcuffed himself to his little girl to ensure she is not kidnapped for use as a future bride.
“I saw a warning by police on the TV to take care as traffickers and pickpockets would be out stealing in the holiday rush,” said Mr. Chen according to reporting by The Daily Mail. “I don’t care about pickpockets, but I do care very much about losing my daughter.”
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