Posted by Kendall Harmon

New Yorkers strolling through Chinatown in downtown Manhattan last Sunday might have noticed an unusual flurry of activity: Jewish men and women, a rabbi in a clerical gown, and a color guard gathering in graveyard tucked away behind a wrought-iron fence. Members of the New York synagogue Shearith Israel, the oldest Jewish congregation in North America, were visiting their historic cemetery at Chatham Square.

In an annual ritual ahead of Memorial Day, they were there for a ceremony that few other synagogues in America could perform: honoring the members of their congregation who had fought in the Revolutionary War.

For Shearith Israel, where I am the rabbi, what is most striking is not that its history stretches back to the Colonial period, but rather that so many of its congregants sided with George Washington against England. New York was known as a Tory stronghold: When English forces expelled Washington’s troops from the city, King George III’s soldiers were greeted with a “Declaration of Dependence” signed by hundreds of New Yorkers, declaring their allegiance to Great Britain.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

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Posted May 27, 2016 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In fact, God’s prospects look a lot better than mammon’s. Projections from the Pew Research Center show that by 2050 Christians will have grown to near 2.9 billion and Muslims to 2.8 billion. With the oil price still low, the property bubble reaching pop, and many economists predicting yet another stock market crash, I’d say that God is holding up pretty well against his old enemy. Moreover, even the heartlands of the new atheism are not future proof against religious revival. On boats throughout the Mediterranean, growing numbers of religious poor are risking everything to make the journey to Europe to share in the wealth we have long been hoarding. In the Calais refugee camp, for example, it feels obvious that this is also a battle between makeshift cardboard churches and mosques and a secular France that is totally puzzled by the resurgence of religious values it has sneered at for centuries. From the favelas of Brazil, to the Mothers’ Union of the sub-Saharan Bible belt, to the archipelago Islam of Indonesia, the poor go for God. And they have more children. Europe will be 10% Muslim by 2050.

Christianity is currently dying in Europe and the US may gradually follow suit. Pew Research predictions have US Christianity declining from three-quarters today to two-thirds in 2050. But Christianity has been around for centuries, and it remains by far the largest ideological collective the world has ever known. This hasn’t died at all. It has simply shifted its global centre of gravity south and east. And the future is China. What has died in Europe is the cosy link between church and state that was first established by the Emperor Constantine. And good riddance. For this link confused the issue, long associating God with the ruling class. With that gone, God is once again released to have a preferential option for the poor. Don’t let this local atheist lull fool you. Religion remains the future.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationPovertyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted May 27, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Only two per cent of Anglicans in England and Wales are converts, a new study suggests.

The director of the Benedict XVI Centre at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, Dr Stephen Bullivant, has gathered statistics on religious affiliation from the annual British Social Attitudes surveys. His report, Contemporary Catholicism in England and Wales, launched on Tuesday in the House of Commons, deals mainly with the Roman Catholic Church, but looks at other denominations for comparisons.

His deduction is that, in a group of 100 Anglicans, 93 will have been brought up as such, five will have started life in another Christian denomination, and only two would have belonged to no religion. (The sample group was 1681 Anglicans.)

Read it all.



Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Church of Wales* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Wales

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Posted May 27, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An Islamic State executioner from Belgium who announced the group’s responsibility for the March 22 terror attacks in Brussels was communicating recently with several young Belgians arrested this week for plotting further attacks, according to officials briefed on the probe.

Four adults and several teenagers were arrested in and around the northern Belgian city of Antwerp on Wednesday after authorities intercepted their communications with Islamic State operative Hicham Chaib, the official said. While Belgian authorities officially acknowledged they arrested four adults on Wednesday, they wouldn’t comment on the minors.

Belgian authorities found evidence that the group had plans to strike densely populated targets, including the central train station of Antwerp, but investigators doubt that those plans were fleshed out. “It’s better to have a less strong judicial file than a terror attack,” the official said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeBelgium* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 26, 2016 at 4:37 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Today the media are reporting on yet another doomsday report that suggests Christianity is in decline.

Researchers at the St Mary’s Catholic University in Twickenham analysed data collected through the British Social Attitudes surveys over the last three decades. It found that in 2014, 48.5% of those asked said they had no religion, compared to 25% that fell into the 'none' category in the 2011 census.

Those who did define themselves as Christian – from a variety of denominations – made up 43.8% of the population. The report said churches in general were struggling to retain people brought up as Christians.

Read it all from the PC website.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted May 26, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Teaching of Christianity in schools is set to be transformed by a new resource from the Church of England, launched today. Understanding Christianity is a set of comprehensive materials and training which will enable pupils from age 4 to 14 to develop their understanding of Christianity, as a contribution to making sense of the world and their own experience within it.

Available to all schools across the country the resource was written by a team of RE advisers from RE Today Services, in collaboration with more than 30 expert teachers and academics, and has been trialled in over 50 schools.

Understanding Christianity was commissioned by the Church of England Education Office with the generous support of Culham St Gabriels, The Sir Halley Stewart Trust, the Jerusalem Trust and an anonymous donor.

Read it all.




Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchChildrenEducationReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted May 26, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christian morality is being ushered out of American social structures and off the cultural main stage, leaving a vacuum in its place—and the broader culture is attempting to fill the void. New research from Barna reveals growing concern about the moral condition of the nation, even as many American adults admit they are uncertain about how to determine right from wrong. So what do Americans believe? Is truth relative or absolute? And do Christians see truth and morality in radically different ways from the broader public, or are they equally influenced by the growing tide of secularism and religious skepticism?

A majority of American adults across age group, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status and political ideology expresses concern about the nation’s moral condition—eight in 10 overall (80%). The proportion is closer to nine in 10 among Elders (89%) and Boomers (87%), while about three-quarters of Gen-Xers (75%) and Millennials (74%) report concern. Similarly, practicing Christians (90%) are more likely than adults of no faith (67%) or those who identify with a religious faith other than Christianity (72%) to say they are concerned about the moral condition of the nation. Though measurable differences exist between population segments, moral concern is widespread across the demographic board.

Much less widespread, however, is consensus on morality itself. What is it based on? Where does it come from? How can someone know what to do when making moral decisions? According to a majority of American adults (57%), knowing what is right or wrong is a matter of personal experience. This view is much more prevalent among younger generations than among older adults.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 25, 2016 at 2:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA announces that Tom Lin has been selected by the InterVarsity Board of Trustees to become the next president of the campus ministry. He will start on August 10.

Tom has been vice president and director of missions for InterVarsity since February 2011, and also director of Urbana 12 and Urbana 15, InterVarsity’s triennial student missions conference. He succeeds Jim Lundgren, who has served as InterVarsity’s interim president for the past year.

In InterVarsity’s 75 years of campus ministry on U.S. college and university campuses, Tom becomes the first InterVarsity president who began his InterVarsity career working in campus ministry. After graduating from Harvard in 1994, he planted a chapter for Asian American students at Harvard, and another chapter at Boston University. He led numerous student missions projects in the U.S. and overseas, and helped design national training for InterVarsity staff.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationReligion & CultureYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

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Posted May 25, 2016 at 1:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon




The empty nests are filling up: For the first time in modern history, young adults ages 18 to 34 are more likely to live with a parent than with a romantic partner, according to a new census analysis by the Pew Research Center.

Millennials, who have been slower than previous generations to marry and set up their own households, reached that milestone in 2014, when 32.1 percent lived in a parent’s home, compared with 31.6 percent who lived with a spouse or a partner, the report found.

“The really seismic change is that we have so many fewer young adults partnering, either marrying or cohabiting,” said Richard Fry, the Pew economist who wrote the report. “In 1960, that silent generation left home earlier than any generation before or after, because they married so young.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted May 24, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the same report a "Catholic feature" of the mission is noted,--classes of adult catechumens, conducted by the brethren; and an intention of having weekly communions, "according to primitive practice," is recorded. To this end the brothers had sought to secure the services of the good missionary priest, Richard Cadle, and to convert him into the Father Superior of their order,--but the worthy man shied at the novel honor. With funds that Hobart had obtained at the East a beautiful tract of land was bought about Nashotah (signifying "Twin Lakes"), and thither, in August, the mission was moved. The following October, Adams and Breck were advanced to the priesthood, and the latter was made head of the religious house. A few theological students answered to the lay brothers of Vallombrosa; they supported themselves by farm work, etc., according to the primitive method at Gambier. The community rose at five o'clock, had services (lauds or prime) at six and nine in the morning, on Wednesdays and Fridays the litany and on Thursdays Holy Communion at noontide, and services at three and half-past six o'clock in the evening, answering to nones and vespers. Now at length, as Breck wrote home with glee, he began to feel that he was really in a monastery. But within a year from that hopeful start it seemed as if the community would be dissolved. Adams had a severe attack of pneumonia, felt unequal to bearing the business burdens of the house, and returned to the East; Hobart lingered a few months longer, and then followed; and Breck began to think of moving further west.

At this period Kenyon College was in such financial straits that it was in imminent danger of being lost to the church,--but a mighty effort was made, collections were taken for it on a large scale among congregations throughout the eastern dioceses, and it was saved; but the extraordinary exertion resulted in a deficit in the missionary treasury that reduced many a poor minister on the frontier to pinching poverty.

One is startled to hear that in 1843 a medical department was annexed to Kemper College and already boasted of the formidable number of seventy-five students. The attention of the church was called to this Protestant Episcopal University west of the Mississippi, which "promised a rich return for its fostering care," and seemed destined to "hand down the name of its beloved founder to other ages." There were but a score of students, however, in the collegiate department, at whose first commencement the bishop presided that summer.

The good example set by his young itinerants in Wisconsin moved him to urge the appointment of two or more missionaries of similar type to operate in Indiana. That diocese now made another attempt to perfect its organization, electing Thomas Atkinson of Virginia as its bishop,--but he declined. Its leading presbyter, Roosevelt Johnson, waived a like offer. Missouri diocese had similar aspirations and electoral difficulties, which it solved by throwing the onus upon the general convention, entreating it to choose a bishop. In 1843, Cicero Stephens Hawks accepted a call to the rectorate of Christ Church, St. Louis; and the favor with which he was received determined the choice of the convention. On the 2oth of October, 1844, (the day of Cobbs' consecration), and in Christ Church, Philadelphia, he was consecrated bishop of Missouri by Philander Chase, now presiding bishop, assisted by Kemper, McCoskry, Polk, and DeLancey.

With this event terminated what is in one way the most interesting period of our hero's life,--the dawn, or morning of his episcopate, with its wide and long vistas, its freshness and promise. Wonderful indeed was the accomplishment of those nine mystic years, especially when we consider that it was before the days of railroads,--that he had to toil painfully in wagons, on horseback or afoot along wretched roads over boundless tracts that the traveler now crosses smoothly, gliding at the rate of a mile a minute in a palace car.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchBooks

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Posted May 24, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Diocese of Abuja of the Church of Nigeria, (Anglican Communion), has said that the renewed pipeline vandalism in the Niger Delta, was not in the best interest of Nigeria. It therefore urged those behind the bombing of oil installations in the region to desist from the act. The Church called on the Niger Delta Avengers to cease hostility against the government while embracing dialogue, noting that Nigeria, currently engaged in many battles cannot afford to start another one with militants in the Niger Delta. The Primate Of The Church Of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) and Archbishop of Abuja Diocese, The Most Rev’d Nicholas D. Okoh, made this remark in his Presidential Address to the 3rd Session of the 9th Synod of Abuja Diocese, held at All Saints Church, Wuse. While urging the Federal Government to also tread cautiously in its attempts to resolve the growing crises in the Niger Delta, the Church called on it to seek collaboration with the host communities in its efforts to secure all pipelines.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria

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Posted May 23, 2016 at 4:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The title of Janine di Giovanni’s devastating new book, “The Morning They Came for Us,” refers to those terrible moments in ordinary Syrians’ lives when the war in their country becomes personal. Those moments when there is a knock on the door and the police or intelligence services take a family member away. Those moments when a government-delivered barrel bomb falls on your home, your school, your hospital, and daily life is forever ruptured.

“The water stops, taps run dry, banks go, and a sniper kills your brother,” she writes. Garbage is everywhere because there are no longer any functioning city services, and entire neighborhoods are turned into fields of rubble. Victorian diseases like polio, typhoid and cholera resurface. Children wear rubber sandals in the winter cold because they do not have shoes. People are forced to do without “toothpaste, money, vitamins, birth-control pills, X-rays, chemotherapy, insulin, painkillers.”

In the five years since the Assad regime cracked down on peaceful antigovernment protests and the conflict escalated into full-blown civil war, more than 250,000 Syrians have been killed and some 12 million people — more than half the country’s prewar population — have been displaced, including five million who have fled to neighboring countries and to Europe in what the United Nations calls the largest refugee crisis since World War II.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

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Posted May 23, 2016 at 3:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

But none of it is over.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Choirs may be the ultimate training ground for hopeful boy bands and ensembles. Choristers—who in British and American cathedral choirs usually range from eight to 13, with continental choirs retaining their singers until the age of 19—typically rehearse together daily, making their decision to team up in ensembles of their own making less risky. They form an immediate talent pool of skilled musicians who enjoy making music together, and know one another’s musical likes and personalities. “[British cathedral] choirs are an ideal place for future bandmates to grow up in,” says Simon Kirk, director of music at St John’s College School, which educates the boy choristers of St John's College Chapel in Cambridge. “You work as part of a professional team that tours and records. From the age of nine to ten, the boys work as professional musicians.”

When Barnaby Smith graduated from Westminster Abbey Choir School at 13, he already knew that he wanted to keep singing with some of his fellow choristers. Several years later, four of them formed the acapella ensemble Voces8, which has since won numerous competitions and is now the singers’ full-time occupation. “A small ensemble is like a family,” Mr Smith explains. “Having sung in a boys’ choir was vital. Choir school is a very professional environment where boys depend on one another. It’s not something you do on your own.”

Though top-level choirs are fertile band-making territory, establishing an ensemble can be awkward if it takes place while the boys are still choir members. “You decide who you get along with,” explains Louis Weise, a 17-year-old member of the St Thomas Choir in Leipzig. “If you’re going to do additional rehearsals together and also try to make money together, you really have to get along.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchEducationMenMusicTeens / Youth* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UK

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Posted May 23, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After years of relentless growth, the number of opioid prescriptions in the United States is finally falling, the first sustained drop since OxyContin hit the market in 1996.

For much of the past two decades, doctors were writing so many prescriptions for the powerful opioid painkillers that, in recent years, there have been enough for every American adult to have a bottle. But for each of the past three years — 2013, 2014 and 2015 — prescriptions have declined, a review of several sources of data shows.

Experts say the drop is an important early signal that the long-running prescription opioid epidemic may be peaking, that doctors have begun heeding a drumbeat of warnings about the highly addictive nature of the drugs and that federal and state efforts to curb them are having an effect.

“The culture is changing,” said Dr. Bruce Psaty, a researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle who studies drug safety. “We are on the downside of a curve with opioid prescribing now.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & Medicine

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Posted May 22, 2016 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Government has set out a new post-EU-referendum course focus­ing on key domestic policies, after attracting criticism for its series of U-turns on issues such as schooling and disability benefits in recent months.

The Queen’s Speech, on Wednes­day, included new legislation on housing, education, safeguarding chil­dren in care, and speeding up the adoption process, to better the “life chances” of young people. It also made mention of new counter-extremism measures, defence spend­ing, and a prison-reform Bill.

Under the social-care Bill, a new regulator will be set up to oversee care homes and social services. Those leaving care will be assigned a mentor until the age of 25, and care workers will be supported to find work and affordable housing.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducation* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 22, 2016 at 12:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal could scream and wave his fists, while Crystal Palace boss Alan Pardew must have felt like cringing after his earlier jig of joy proved premature.

Van Gaal's elation, in what could be his final match as United manager, came after local lad Jesse Lingard produced a fierce strike to secure a 2-1 victory against Crystal Palace in the FA Cup final at Wembley. It completed a commendable show of character, after United recovered from a late goal by Palace in normal time with a Juan Mata equaliser and send the game into extra time.

The disappointing Chris Smalling was then sent off for a second booking, but that did not deny United, as Lingard won the game, sparking those memorable scenes of joy.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenSports* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted May 21, 2016 at 5:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In this booth, the choice is between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Period.

"That's the scenario people I know are talking about and arguing about," said Stephen P. White of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., author of the book "Red, White, Blue and Catholic."

Many religious conservatives believe they "face a choice between two morally repugnant candidates," he added. "The reality of that choice is starting to drive some people into despair. ... I understand that, but I think it would be wrong for people to think that they need to abandon politics simply because they are disgusted with this election."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted May 21, 2016 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This year, May 29th has been designated as a unique Sunday to pray for the Anglican Communion and give to the work of the larger Church. It is an exciting time to be an Anglican, and an important moment to stand for the truth and be counted.

The GAFCON movement is a global family of authentic Anglicans standing together to restore the Bible to the heart of the Anglican Communion, and we are growing. This last month at the Primates’ Council we launched a Bishops’ Training program, announced new appointments, and began work towards the next global conference in 2018.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchGlobalization

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Posted May 20, 2016 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Religious communities, particularly the Catholic Church, have frequently been persecuted by regimes trying to consolidate power. But Albania’s ruthless Communist-era dictator, Enver Hoxha, went further than most, culminating with the 1967 proclamation of the country as the world’s first constitutionally atheist state.

It is no coincidence that most of the newly declared martyrs were priests. Hoxha reserved a special ire for the country’s Catholic clergy—the spiritual, intellectual and political leaders of a religious minority making up little more than a 10th of the population. His hatred stemmed partly from the crucial role the clergy had played in Albania’s cultural and political rebirth.

Most Albanian priests had been educated in foreign universities, and they represented a vital part of the country’s intellectual elite. Under the motto “Religion and Fatherland,” the clergy promoted a traditional reformist patriotism that sought to protect local customs while simultaneously integrating Albania into Europe. They argued for a free and equal state for all of Albania’s citizens, regardless of social or religious background. As such, they embodied a serious threat to Communist rule.


Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryEuropeAlbania* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 20, 2016 at 12:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Kenya* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & Family* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted May 20, 2016 at 10:19 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In downtown San Francisco stands an unusual war memorial looking as it did in the 1920s when it was a hotel and theater. After World War II, Marines wanted a living memorial so they transformed this into a club that, today, honors all vets.

Mary Shea: I look at this building. It's like a ship that sails every February. That once we're inside here, we're safe. We can be ourselves. We don't have to explain to anybody. It's sort of a subliminal language that we all understand.

Mary Shea learned the language of loss when her son was killed. It's a language that cannot be translated and so she and her husband, Bill, felt they could no longer be understood.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsPastoral Care* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted May 20, 2016 at 9:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mo, who attended one of the nation's top colleges, is one of a small group of American citizens and residents whose names were found in ISIS personnel files obtained by NBC News and verified by the West Point Combating Terrorism Center.

In the interview, he recounts his trip to Turkey and then Syria, his ISIS indoctrination, the violence he witnessed and the growing disillusionment that triggered his dangerous escape.

"The Islamic State is not bringing Islam to the world, and people need to know that. And I'll say that…till the day I die," he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 19, 2016 at 3:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

To learn what suffering has to teach requires that we protect the time and space we need to regard, reflect, and pray. Suffering calls us one by one to walk a dark valley. As Flannery O’Connor suggests, "… sickness is . . . a place where there’s no company, where nobody can follow” (163). To speak from that place of exile is to forego the clichés and enter into what Marianne Paget called a “complex sorrow.” In her “Mastectomy Poems” Alicia Ostriker issues a practical corrective to those who dramatize her suffering in a way that would belie the daily experience of life-threatening illness:

Spare me your pity,

your terror, your condolence.

I’m not your wasting heroine,

your dying swan. Friend, tragedy

is a sort of surrender.

Tell me again I’m a model

of toughness. I eat that up.

I grade papers, I listen to wind. (93)

Ostriker’s spunky resistance to stereotypes calls to mind the comment of an Auschwitz survivor I know: To call the Holocaust a “tragedy,” she insisted, is to falsify it and to oversimplify the mystery of the evil that took place. Tragedy is an art form in which the hero “suffers into truth.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchPoetry & LiteratureReligion & Culture* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheodicy

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Posted May 19, 2016 at 2:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Check it out and see how you do.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Every day, tributes are placed at the memorial in Washington, D.C., and while they are left behind, they are not lost.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaVietnam* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted May 18, 2016 at 4:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Responding to asylum seekers and developing younger people as leaders will be among the topics at a refreshed Fresh Expression conference this year.

The November conference will also look at whether those attracted to Fresh Expressions events are from non-church backgrounds, or whether they are returning after feeling rejected by traditional church settings.

Jointly run by Fresh Expressions and the Diocese of Leicester, there will be 16 talks and 25 pairs of consultants will be on hand to share their expertise.

Read it all (may require subscription).

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

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Posted May 18, 2016 at 4:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What should the church commissioners, who are responsible for its £7 billion investment portfolio, do? They are charity trustees. They have a duty to make a return on the funds entrusted to them. And every penny they can raise means another pound from the collection plate can be used for something else. The answer is, of course, that they must exercise judgment.

The good news is that they are already allowed to. The church commissioners do not, as a result, invest in pornography, tobacco, gambling, non-military firearms, high interest rate lending or human embryonic cloning. But on tax abuse, surely the clearest measure of a company’s social responsibility, they’re not so clear.

Their advisers stated three years ago that “tax ethics should be a subject for investor engagement where it appears that a company’s approach is blatantly aggressive or abusive”. In other words, investment in such companies is permitted so long as the church makes clear that it expects high ethical standards on tax. In this respect, the commissioners have clearly failed.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeTaxesPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 18, 2016 at 3:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One of the 276 schoolgirls kidnapped from the Nigerian town of Chibok by Boko Haram was found on Wednesday, the first one to escape the radical Islamist group in nearly two years, activists and the military said.

A band of hunters guiding government soldiers through the Sambisa forest in northeastern Nigeria discovered Amina Nkeki, 19 years old, wandering near a mostly abandoned village and breast-feeding what she said was her infant, said Sesugh Akume, a spokesman for the #BringBackOurGirls activist group.

She told her rescuers that six of her fellow students had died in captivity, Mr. Akume said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 18, 2016 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The nuns, who are members of the Dominican order, care for those of all religions and backgrounds — Laub’s mother-­in-­law was Jewish — and live by the prescient words of its founder, Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, a daughter of Nathaniel Hawthorne: “We cannot cure our patients, but we can assure the dignity and value of their final days, and keep them comfortable and free of pain.” (The Hawthorne Dominicans also operate similar homes in Atlanta and Philadelphia.)

As the nuns cared for their guests, Laub followed them with her camera — it’s her way. Then, even after her mother-­in-­law died in late September, she found herself returning to Rosary again and again, still wanting to capture something of the kindness that her family had found there. She asked the nuns to sit for portraits, in which she stripped away the background to show their eyes and faces in clear focus. “I wanted them to be quiet,” she said, “so their power could come through.”

The nuns in particular had moved her. She was struck by their tenderness with the dying, how they painted women’s fingernails and combed their hair, changed them into fresh nightgowns and arranged flowers in their rooms. “This is how dying should be,” Laub says. “It doesn’t feel like a place of death. It feels like a place of living.”

Read it all and do not miss the pictures.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral CareSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineReligion & CultureWomen* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

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Posted May 18, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Bishop of Salisbury has called for environmental issues take a more prominent role in the debate over Britain's future in the EU.

Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam said Britain has taken stand on the environment in recent years which has made other countries "clean their acts up".

The Church of England speaker on climate change also called for the voices of younger voters to be heard ahead of the June 23 referendum.

“It is not the job of a Bishop to push people to vote in any particular way," he said. "The scope of the debate, however, is something where I do have a duty to speak out.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 18, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Estimates for the public services will be laid before you.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons:

Other measures will be laid before you.

I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your counsels.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 18, 2016 at 6:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Now that the case will return to Adams County (assuming the Church litigators do not waste everyone's time and money with a request for leave to appeal again to the Illinois Supreme Court), the stay against those actions will be lifted, and they can proceed. However, like the claim to the moneys in the bank, the claims in these suits will not be proceeding in a vacuum. Twice now the Illinois Court of Appeals has held that ECUSA had no enforceable trust interest in property held for parishes. The first of those decisions also dealt with the ineffectiveness of the Dennis Canon to create any such trust under Illinois law. It is likely, therefore, but not certain, that these last few isolated claims will fare the same fate as the others. (No one ever made anything by trying to predict what a particular court will decide to do.)

It is nonetheless deplorable that the new Presiding Bishop of ECUSA sees fit to allow his litigators to continue to waste the Church's trust funds and pledge income on litigation for purely punitive purposes. One has to wonder, when it comes to going after realigning dioceses and parishes, just who is in charge of ECUSA after all these years. The irony is that a person who acts as his own attorney (or lets his attorney make all the decisions, which comes to the same thing) has, as those of us in the profession happily admit, "a fool for a client."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts SchoriMichael CurryTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: QuincyTEC Conflicts: San Joaquin* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted May 17, 2016 at 2:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In June the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church will return to the proposal to change its Canon 31 on Marriage, removing the reference to “one man and one woman”, a step it prepared for in the equivalent meeting last year. At that time the Synod was presented with a paper from its Doctrine Committee, considering change to the doctrine of marriage “in the light of Scripture, Tradition and Reason”. That remains the only formal presentation of the questions at issue the church has published to date, so that when the question is asked, in Scotland and beyond, what considerations have led to this moment of decision, it is the sole source for an answer. It is important, then, to be clear what the nature of the guidance has been.

In a series of articles on the Fulcrum site published just ten years ago I discussed the broader question of how the Anglican churches could think together about the gay issue. 2 Between then and now I have written no more on the matter, and return to it now, prompted by the reflections offered to the Scottish Synod, with considerable reluctance. The paper in question devotes two whole pages to a partly critical response to what I wrote then, and I have no wish at all to pursue an argument, direct or indirect, with what they write about me, which was intended, and is taken, in candour and respect. But the issues now at stake, which were large enough ten years ago, are now infinitely greater: disagreements, which have been extended by the arrival of the so-called “equal marriage” on the secular statute-books, now spread out, like a Canadian wildfire, from the sphere of ethics into the sphere of doctrine, and threaten the catholic identity of the church. But in the vacuum of Anglican theological discussion that prevails in Scotland, these fateful deliberations are able to slip by without much notice. As a theologian holding a license from a Scottish bishop, though with no part in any of the Scottish deliberations, I am not quite at liberty to shrug my shoulders when all around me are shrugging theirs.

Read it all from Fulcrum.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 17, 2016 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Enlightenment, as David Bebbington has shown, was a seminal influence on the rise of evangelicalism and its experiential, sensed-based spirituality. Pierre Bayle - prophet of conscience - was not only the darling of the philosophes in the eighteenth century: he played a vital role in the emergence of Continental Pietism. Voltaire, meanwhile, added to his scattering of liberal advocates a number of orthodox admirers. He would have enjoyed the phrase with which a nineteenth-century priest appraised his radioactive ministry: "Dieu, par une ruse diabolique, envoya Voltaire combattre son Eglise pour le regenerer" [God, by a religious ruse, sent Voltaire to his Church to regenerate her].

Finally, Spinoza - "the most impious, the most infamous, and at the same time the most subtle Atheist that Hell has vomited on the earth" - made good on his enduring claim that love is criticism, and criticism is love. Among his posthumous admirers was the Russian philosopher, Vladimir Soloviev, who credited Spinoza with his return to the Christian faith he lost as a teenager. A towering and ecumenical intellect, and perhaps the single greatest influence on the Russian religious renaissance of the twentieth century, Soloviev gracefully eludes the set-piece humour of secularization.

Ideas that savoured of blasphemy to a dualistic, Western mind were here taken as intended. Such examples may be multiplied. Together they confirm my view that modernity is a war of religious ideas, not a war on them. The secular other is a not-so-distant relative - possibly a friend.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryPhilosophy* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* Theology

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Posted May 17, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A number of studies have consistently shown lower mortality among those who are married compared to those who are not. More recently, this phenomenon has been demonstrated in studies of cancer patients, across all types of cancers that have been studied. Curiously, males seem to be benefit more from being married than females.

In a pair of companion papers (here and here) published last month in the journal Cancer, Dr. Elena Martinez and I set out to understand whether the marriage benefit is in fact due to having greater social support or having greater economic resources, or a combination of the two. Using the California Cancer Registry, a large, population-based dataset (containing data from essentially everyone diagnosed with cancer in California), we assessed the role of economic resources in one paper, and whether the benefit of marriage on survival differed across different racial/ethnic groups in a second paper.

We found that having access to greater economic resources including private health insurance and living in higher socioeconomic status neighborhoods were indeed associated with improved survival, and married patients were more likely than unmarried to have greater economic resources. However, to our surprise, these factors barely influenced the beneficial effects on survival rate among married patients. Interestingly, the marriage benefit differed across racial/ethnic groups – strongest among white males, and weaker among foreign-born Asian males and females.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMarriage & Family

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Posted May 17, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In “Notes from Underground,’’ Dostoevsky fired a broadside against all the Victorian do-gooders who dreamt of a perfectly rational society. “You seem certain that man himself will give up erring of his own free will,” he fulminated. He foresaw a ghastly future in which “all human acts will be listed in something like logarithm tables . . . and transferred to a timetable . . . [that] will carry detailed calculations and exact forecasts of everything to come.” In such a world, his utilitarian contemporaries believed, there would be no wrongdoing. It would have been planned, legislated, and regulated out of existence.

We are nearly there. Or so it seems....

I am deeply suspicious of the concerted effort to address all these problems in ways that markedly increase the power of states — and not just any states, but specifically the world’s big states — at the expense of both small states and the individual. What makes me especially wary is that today, unlike in Dostoevsky’s time, the technology exists to give those big states, along with a few private companies, just the kind of control he dreaded.

Consider some recent encroachments on liberty.

Read it all from the Boston Globe.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryPoetry & Literature* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentState Government* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussia* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted May 17, 2016 at 5:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Every parent has an epic barf story, and we trade them like old generals recounting the horrors of war, but despite the terrible things we’ve all seen, it’s likely none of us has a story as hilariously awful as this one. Recently, a dad posted some screenshots of texts he sent to his wife after their toddler threw up in the the car, and his story is so outlandish, it’s got thousands of parents laughing and dry heaving in sympathy.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenDieting/Food/NutritionHealth & MedicineMarriage & Family* General InterestHumor / Trivia

0 Comments
Posted May 16, 2016 at 5:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A massive wildfire burning around the oil sands hub of Fort McMurray, Alberta, is about 1 km (1,094 yards) away from Enbridge Inc's Cheecham crude oil tank farm, but is under control for now, emergency officials said on Monday.

The blaze near the tank farm was stable because the wind was cooperating as Enbridge's industrial firefighters tackled the blaze, the officials said at a news conference.

The entire population of Fort McMurray, about 90,000 people, were forced to flee the Canadian city nearly two weeks ago as the uncontrolled wildfire raged through some neighborhoods and destroyed about 15 percent of structures.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/Fire* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryCanada

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Posted May 16, 2016 at 5:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church Commissioners for England have announced their latest financial results with the publication of their annual report.

The Church Commissioners' total return on their investments in 2015 was 8.2 per cent, exceeding their long-term target rate by 2%. Over the past 30 years the fund has achieved an average return of 9.7% per annum. After taking account of expenditure, the fund has grown from £2.4bn at the start of 1995 to £7.0 billion at the end of 2015.

In 2015, the charitable expenditure of the Commissioners was £218.5 million, accounting for 15% of the Church's overall mission and ministry costs. Commissioners-funded projects ranged from clubs and drop-ins to youth work and food bank hubs, all supported by local churches.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsStock Market* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 16, 2016 at 4:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

DAKAR, Senegal — In a city where nightclubs and mosques coexist peacefully, Islamist violence long felt like a foreign problem — something residents watched on news clips from the Middle East or other parts of ­Africa.

“We just didn’t worry very much about it,” said Abdullaye Diene, the deputy imam of the country’s largest mosque. “Here you can spend your nights drinking at the disco and then shake the hand of the imam.”

But Senegal and its neighbors are facing a new threat from extremists moving far from their traditional strongholds in northwest Africa. Since November, militant groups have killed dozens of people in assaults on hotels, cafes and a beachside resort in West Africa, passing through porous borders with impunity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaSenegal* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 16, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From there:
Today we feel the wind beneath our wings
Today the hidden fountain flows and plays
Today the church draws breath at last and sings
As every flame becomes a Tongue of praise.
This is the feast of fire,air, and water
Poured out and breathed and kindled into earth.
The earth herself awakens to her maker
And is translated out of death to birth.
The right words come today in their right order
And every word spells freedom and release
Today the gospel crosses every border
All tongues are loosened by the Prince of Peace
Today the lost are found in His translation.
Whose mother-tongue is Love, in every nation.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsPentecost* Culture-WatchPoetry & Literature* TheologyTheology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

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Posted May 15, 2016 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all from the Telegraph.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...in an article by the Religion News Service last month, friends of Mr. Hitchens took exception with the book’s conclusions.

Steve Wasserman, a literary agent and editor, and an executor of Mr. Hitchens’s estate, described the book as “a shabby business” in which “unverifiable conversations” are made to “contradict everything Christopher Hitchens ever said or stood for.”

Having evangelical friends is a testament to Mr. Hitchens’s “intellectual tolerance and largeness of heart, not to any covert religiosity,” Benjamin Schwarz, his former editor at The Atlantic, was quoted as saying.

In an interview, Mr. Taunton said that his rather modest claims were being misunderstood.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsOther FaithsAtheism

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Posted May 14, 2016 at 11:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Professional filmmakers, many in Nashville, Tennessee, are beginning to make big profits on faith-based low-budget feature films. The production values are high, and the Christian stories are appealing to large audiences, especially when the movies marketed through churches. Correspondent Dan Lothian says Hollywood is paying attention.

Read or watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture

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Posted May 14, 2016 at 9:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many contemporaries regarded Williams (1886–1945) as an unalloyed genius and polymath. He was at once theologian, mystic, poet, novelist, editor, playwright, and critic, not to mention being an esteemed spiritual mentor and (possibly) a living Anglican saint. Lewis was deeply influenced by him to the point that the figure of Aslan in the Narnia Chronicles was borrowed intact from the angelic archetypal figure of Williams’s novel The Place of the Lion. Meanwhile, Lewis’s novel That Hideous Strength is often regarded as more Williams’s work than Lewis’s. Some of us would quibble about relegating Williams to the rank of merely third among Inklings.

T. S. Eliot also fell under his spell. The better you know Williams’s all too seldom read dramas, the more startled you might be at the numerous clear echoes of his work throughout Four Quartets. Auden himself said he owed his Christian conversion in part to contact with Williams.

Many other far lesser figures, including the present reviewer, attribute their own original religious commitment to the overwhelming power of Williams’s writings. It helps, in my case, to imagine the years around 1970, when interest in spirituality of all kinds was running very high and all manner of options were on the table—the occult and kabbalism, neopaganism and Arthurian mythology. For many of us, at least in Britain, Christianity was nowhere near being a serious option. Perhaps unfairly, it seemed at the time as if the mainstream churches were irretrievably lost in the Secular City.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchBooksHistoryPoetry & Literature* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Theology

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Posted May 14, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The culture wars are over; they lost, we won. Remember, they were the ones who characterized constitutional disputes as culture wars (see Justice Scalia in Romer v. Evans, and the Wikipedia entry for culture wars, which describes conservative activists, not liberals, using the term.) And they had opportunities to reach a cease fire, but rejected them in favor of a scorched earth policy. The earth that was scorched, though, was their own. (No conservatives demonstrated any interest in trading off recognition of LGBT rights for “religious liberty” protections. Only now that they’ve lost the battle over LGBT rights, have they made those protections central – seeing them, I suppose, as a new front in the culture wars. But, again, they’ve already lost the war.). For liberals, the question now is how to deal with the losers in the culture wars. That’s mostly a question of tactics. My own judgment is that taking a hard line (“You lost, live with it”) is better than trying to accommodate the losers, who – remember – defended, and are defending, positions that liberals regard as having no normative pull at all. Trying to be nice to the losers didn’t work well after the Civil War, nor after Brown. (And taking a hard line seemed to work reasonably well in Germany and Japan after 1945.) I should note that LGBT activists in particular seem to have settled on the hard-line approach, while some liberal academics defend more accommodating approaches. When specific battles in the culture wars were being fought, it might have made sense to try to be accommodating after a local victory, because other related fights were going on, and a hard line might have stiffened the opposition in those fights. But the war’s over, and we won.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHistoryLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 13, 2016 at 3:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When his son fell prey to America’s latest drug scourge, Joel Murphy, a funeral-home worker, knew his family had plenty of company.

He could see it in the faces of the dead.

Many of the corpses he picked up on the job were men in their 20s, with close-cropped hair, baseball caps and gaunt frames. They made him think of his youngest son, Joseph.

“I see him sometimes, I see him in a lot of them,” he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 13, 2016 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

INTERVIEWER

Where does the dialogue come from?

WELTY

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church Census 2016 will not go ahead, Churches Together in England (CTE) has said, after the Church of England became the latest denomination to decline to participate, on the grounds of concerns over the administrative workload and time constraints.

The general secretary of CTE, the Revd Dr David Cornick, said on Wednesday: “Our understanding is that the census will not now be taking place in October, and we have informed our members of this.

“The steering group, and a number of national church leaders, have realised that too much remains to be done in too short a time for that to be feasible. Given those circumstances, the data produced would not have been accurate or useful enough to justify the exercise. The steering group will be meeting again to consider how to proceed in the light of this.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted May 13, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So why are people so gullible?

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

What do I mean?

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

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

Read it all.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A diocesan spokesman said the decision was “ the outcome of a church disciplinary process for a historic matter of behaviour, unrelated to the Diocese of Waiapu, deemed to be a breach of church canons, rather than illegal, and not expected of a priest in the Anglican Church.”

However, Dean Godfrey told local newspapers his indiscretion had been no secret. He had confessed to his wife and his bishop in Australia at the time of his misconduct.

“My feeling is that there hasn’t been due process or natural justice in terms of the process of dismissal,” he said.

However the diocese responded that while the Australian diocese may have known of the affair, “it is the first that his bishop, now in New Zealand, has heard of it”.

Read it all (may require subscription).


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyMenPsychologySexualityWomenYoung Adults* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted May 12, 2016 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the interview, the Archbishop said: “This week of prayer seems to have touched a chord that none of us really expected to the degree it’s happened. Port Stanley Cathedral in the Falkland Islands has joined in Thy Kingdom Come. There’s people in Israel and all across the UK. People find they’re motivated and excited about praying with others for those who they long to find the love of Jesus Christ.”

The week of prayer will culminate this weekend with special ‘Beacon’ worship events in numerous cathedrals around the country, led by bishops and contemporary worship leaders. The event at Canterbury Cathedral, led by Archbishop Justin Welby, Pete Hughes and Hannah Heather, with worship led by Seth Pennock and Tim Hughes, will be broadcast live on Facebook.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church GrowthSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted May 12, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Leading voices in the world of education come together in a new book to show how their approach to education can transform young lives for the better.

Schools for Human Flourishing is a collaboration between Woodard Schools, the Schools, Students and Teachers Network and the Church of England Education Office. Set against a background where evidence shows the young are increasingly stressed by modern life this book will be of interest to teachers, students and their parents.

Authors from a range of school settings from inner city London to the privilege of public school, from church schools in England to a school born out of the fragmentation of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, show how they bring fresh approaches to learning and prioritising progress for each child.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchBooksChildrenEducationReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted May 12, 2016 at 6:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fewer Americans are traveling to fight alongside the Islamic State and the power of the extremist group's brand has significantly diminished in the United States, FBI Director James Comey said Wednesday.

The FBI encountered "6, 8, 10" Americans a month in 2014 and the first half of 2015 who traveled to the Middle East or tried to go there to join the Islamic State, but that number has averaged about one a month since last summer in a sustaining downward trend, Comey said.

"There's no doubt that something has happened that is lasting, in terms of the attractiveness of the nightmare which is the Islamic State to people from the United States," he told reporters during a wide-ranging round-table discussion Wednesday.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolenceYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 12, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

Read it all.


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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The great shrinking of the middle class that has captured the attention of the nation is not only playing out in troubled regions like Rust Belt metros, Appalachia and the Deep South, but in just about every metropolitan area in America, according to a major new analysis by the Pew Research Center.

Pew reported in December that a clear majority of American adults no longer live in the middle class, a demographic reality shaped by decades of widening inequality, declining industry and the erosion of financial stability and family-wage jobs. But while much of the attention has focused on communities hardest hit by economic declines, the new Pew data, based on metro-level income data since 2000, show that middle-class stagnation is a far broader phenomenon.

The share of adults living in middle-income households has also dwindled in Washington, New York, San Francisco, Atlanta and Denver. It's fallen in smaller Midwestern metros where the middle class has long made up an overwhelming majority of the population. It's withering in coastal tech hubs, in military towns, in college communities, in Sun Belt cities.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted May 11, 2016 at 4:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For nearly two and a half centuries, Americans have enjoyed the enormous privilege and responsibility of forming our own government—a privilege rarely experienced throughout most of human history. For most of history, humanity has struggled with the question of how to respond to a government that was essentially forced upon them. But Americans have often struggled with a very different reality; how do we rightly respond to the government that we choose?

To put all of this in historical perspective, the Framers of the American experiment understood that a representative democracy built on the principle of limited government would require certain virtues of its citizens. These would include a restraint of passions and an upholding of traditional moral virtues, without which democracy would not be possible. As the idea of limited government implies, the citizenry would be required to carry out the social responsibilities of the community without the intrusion of government and, thus, citizens would be expected to have the moral integrity necessary for such an arrangement. The Framers of the American Republic also agreed that it would be impossible to have a representative democracy and a limited government if the people did not elect leaders who embodied the virtues of the citizenry while also respecting and protecting society’s pre-political institutions: marriage and family, the church, and the local community.

Thus, the idea of a limited government requires that society uphold and pursue the health of its most basic institutions. When a civil society is weak, government becomes strong. When the family breaks down, government grows stronger. When the essential institutions of society are no longer respected, government demands that respect for itself. That is a recipe for tyranny.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 11, 2016 at 1:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The growth of firms such as Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. has been a boon for the background checkers tasked to vet hundreds of thousands of amateur taxi drivers.

But those background scans are undergoing changes of their own as sharing-economy firms bring massive volumes and new pressure to run checks more quickly and frequently, prompting companies to update their offerings and introduce new products.

Background checks were at the heart of a battle that led ride-hailing firms Uber and Lyft to halt operations in Austin, Texas, on Monday.

In a citywide referendum, Austin residents voted in support of local rules requiring fingerprint scans for drivers—regulations that Uber and Lyft spent millions to fight.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyScience & TechnologyTravel* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 11, 2016 at 7:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Wartime looks like this.

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many today remember Bonhoeffer for his radical Christian discipleship and sacrificial involvement in the German resistance movement against Hitler. However, few know him for what he believed was most central to his life and ministry: nourishing the body of Christ through the proclamation of the Word. Bonhoeffer cared deeply for the spiritual life and health of the local church, serving in various pastoral roles in Germany, Spain, England, and America. He even wrote his doctoral thesis—Sanctorum Communio—on the church as a holy community.

The sermon showcases Bonhoeffer’s masterful pastoral instincts. He speaks into this atmosphere of angst and uncertainty with a message of hope—a message the church still needs to hear and re-proclaim today, because no human is beyond fear’s reach. We’ve all encountered its many faces:
“. . . fear of an important decision; fear of a heavy stroke of fate, losing one’s job, an illness; fear of a vice that one can no longer resist, to which one is enslaved; fear of disgrace; fear of another person; fear of dying.”
Fear fills us with loneliness, hopelessness, and desperation. It drives us to decisions and actions that undo us.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 11, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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


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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

'For 200 years the Church of England has been a stable and consistent provider of education for children in communities across the country. Our aim has always been to focus on academic excellence in an environment which equips young people to live life in its fullness. Working in partnership with government and regional school commissioners, the Church of England Education Office will continue to aspire for the best educational experience for all. Where academisation is the best way forward, the Church of England will take an active role through its Dioceses, as set out in the Memorandum of Understanding.

Read it all and follow the links.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchEducationReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted May 10, 2016 at 7:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

WE progressives believe in diversity, and we want women, blacks, Latinos, gays and Muslims at the table — er, so long as they aren’t conservatives.

Universities are the bedrock of progressive values, but the one kind of diversity that universities disregard is ideological and religious. We’re fine with people who don’t look like us, as long as they think like us.

O.K., that’s a little harsh. But consider George Yancey, a sociologist who is black and evangelical.

“Outside of academia I faced more problems as a black,” he told me. “But inside academia I face more problems as a Christian, and it is not even close.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 9, 2016 at 4:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What is “fair” for one group of Americans—“I get to keep what I earn”—is not only different from what the other group means, it can often be totally contrary to it: “No, because you didn’t build that.” If I get to keep what I earn, then we are not spreading out the benefits of society equally; this would be deemed “unfair” by those who accept any version of egalitarian fairness. And if we were to take what people have earned through their hard work and spread it out equally among the entire population, some of whom may not have worked hard, then this would be deemed “unfair” by those who accept a merit-based view of fairness.

Often enough, this confusing bifurcation about what is “fair” is not only between two opposing camps, but within one and the same person. In some moods, we favor the egalitarian tendencies of fairness, while in other moods, we insist on the merit-based approach. We want “the poor” to be “taken care of” and to “get a fair shake.” But when someone proposes to raise our taxes to bring about a more equal distribution, we’re suddenly less excited about the prospect. This is why we respond positively to appeals to “tax the rich,” as long as the meaning of the term “rich” remains vague enough that it doesn’t include us.

Making the system “fairer,” therefore, has become another one of those slogans that can mean anything to anyone.

Read it all.


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

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Posted May 9, 2016 at 3:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[John] Kerry returned to some of his familiar themes including, first, that those who suppress religious freedom feed angers that make people more susceptible to recruiting by terrorists. Second, religious groups, because when they are demonstrably concerned with “stewardship of the Earth” may have many positive contributions to make. And, third, religions are mandated to help the poor and the marginalized. So their interest in job-creation globally makes them vital.

Some who read or hear Kerry (parts of whose speech are available online) will think he lives in a dream world if he thinks religions are ready to make such contributions. Some will resent his praise of religion, because they see religions by definition opposed to human good.

But the majority, if they tune in and are turned on by the Secretary of State’s words, can be readied to get back to the sources of their faith, heed the community-building (as opposed to terrorist-feeding) uses of religious mandates and promises, and offer hope for a better future. - See more at: http://divinity.uchicago.edu/sightings/religion-global-affairs#sthash.VwD1R87I.dpuf

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 9, 2016 at 9:38 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the military and political battle against the Islamic State escalates, Muslim imams and scholars in the West are fighting on another front — through theology.

Imam Suhaib Webb, a Muslim leader in Washington, has held live monthly video chats to refute the religious claims of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. In a dig at the extremists, he broadcast from ice cream parlors and called his talks “ISIS and ice cream.”

Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, an American Muslim scholar based in Berkeley, Calif., has pleaded with Muslims not to be deceived by the “stupid young boys” of the Islamic State. Millions have watched excerpts from his sermon titled “The Crisis of ISIS,” in which he wept as he asked God not to blame other Muslims “for what these fools amongst us do.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted May 8, 2016 at 1:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Shepherding a megachurch is tied in many ways to America’s celebrity culture. There’s a push for big-stage events and around-the-clock access through social media to a pastor’s life and thoughts.

It’s a formula that amplifies the message and multiplies the flock, in congregants who show up on Sunday for worship and in tens of thousands more followers online.

High visibility can also set pastors on a correction-course with humility that evangelical Christians call getting right with Jesus....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 7, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Gérard Dépardieu, the larger-than-life French star who once boasted that he sometimes drank 14 bottles of wine a day, says he has now given up the booze.

“I haven’t been drinking for some time now. I really no longer like drunkenness,” the 67-year-old, who is currently starring of the new Netflix series Marseille, told le Parisien newspaper.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAlcohol/DrinkingAlcoholismMovies & Television* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

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Posted May 7, 2016 at 2:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Take Rose, for example. At the age of 19 and in her first year of university in a town near her home village, Rose and her family were among her tribemates who were targeted for ethnic cleansing.

Their only crime was to be born in the “H” tribe. The “L” tribe hated them for who they were and marked all their homes in the town for killing. Her two brothers were killed, but she survived because a Good Samaritan whisked her to the airport and got her the only remaining seat available on a flight out of the war zone. She had never flown in an airplane, had only the clothes on her back, and didn’t know where she was going.

When she arrived at her unknown destination, she didn’t speak any of the languages spoken there, except a few words of broken English. Someone asked her where she was going and all she could say was, “Take me to the closest Anglican church.” She grew up in a home of committed Anglican Christians so that’s the only thing she could think of.

She ended up in the office of a Church of Uganda Bishop. He and his wife “adopted” her and took her into their family.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Uganda* Christian Life / Church LifeMissionsParish Ministry* Culture-WatchEducationHealth & Medicine* International News & CommentaryAfrica* TheologyChristology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The center of gravity for both orthodoxy and evangelism is not among Anglo suburban evangelicals but among African Anglicans and Asian Calvinists and Latin American Pentecostals. The vital core of American evangelicalism today can be found in churches that are multiethnic and increasingly dominated by immigrant communities.

The next Billy Graham probably will speak only Spanish or Arabic or Persian or Mandarin. American evangelicals often use the language of “revival” — a word that is sometimes co-opted by politicians to mean a resurgence of a politically useful but watered-down civil religion. A congregation that ignores the global church can deprive itself of revival by overlooking those places where the Spirit is working.

The thriving churches of American Christianity are multigenerational, theologically robust, ethnically diverse and connected to the global church. If Jesus is alive — and I believe that he is — he will keep his promise and build his church. But he never promises to do that solely with white, suburban institutional evangelicalism.

The question is whether evangelicals will be on the right side of Jesus.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 7, 2016 at 12:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hallie W. is very down-to-earth and genuinely inspiring. She never phones it in, delivering with sincerity "soulful" messages such as "The dream is free. The hustle's sold separately!" Even though I know various factors—music, mood lighting, adrenaline—conspired to move me that day, I probably was really into it, in that way that exercising—and especially, I've found, exercising in near darkness—engenders a feeling of invincibility and a surge of fiery ambition coupled with the satisfaction of no longer spinning one's wheels.

I can't say how long I'll remain part of this "church." I haven't signed up for a class in weeks for lack of disposable income, and this summer I'm more likely to jog outside to my own playlist, featuring way fewer bass drops. But another SoulCycle location opened in February on Southport, so I'll probably go make an offering of $30, plus shoe rental, just to re-experience it all.

I have my own rules: Wear what you want. Never, ever evangelize about it. And let yourself get lost in the transcendent moment sometimes, however contrived. Who am I to judge anyone's soul journey?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineReligion & CultureSportsUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths

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Posted May 7, 2016 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Charleston’s review of on-street parking in some downtown neighborhoods is pitting residents concerned about bars and restaurants against churches whose services can last two or three hours.

The city’s transportation and legal departments are conducting a 90-day study of residential parking regulations, especially those for downtown neighborhoods.

City Councilman Mike Seekings, chairman of council’s Traffic and Transportation Committee, said the study will examine the rules in 10 special parking districts and the total number of spaces available. It also will clarify the law on changing the hours of special residential parking restrictions.

Read it all from the front page of the local paper.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and Issues* South Carolina

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Posted May 7, 2016 at 11:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In American politics, raising taxes is seen as a sure way to provoke a voter revolt. But in Germany, some politicians see taxing Muslims as a strategy to keep them from becoming radicalized.

The standard-bearer for this unexpected idea is a politician from the Christian Social Union, the folksy right-wing party known for desperately wanting to keep Muslim immigrants from the Middle East from pouring in to its traditionally Catholic southern state of Bavaria.

Strange as it might seem, there are Muslim leaders in Germany who think a religious tax might be a good idea, too. If they can get over the grumbling, mosque-goers may agree.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bach was clearly interested in religious questions. He owned an impressive collection of theological books, and he made annotations in his copy of the Bible. But that isn’t enough to draw up a profile of his faith. Which of his theological books did he really read (which books on our own shelves have we read)? What exactly did he believe? While we cannot reconstruct Bach’s faith, we can try to understand the religious context in which he lived and how it might have shaped his music.

The religious language of Bach’s time was drenched with emotional images: Christ as the bridegroom, the believer as the bride; the heart as the dwelling-place of the divine; the relationship of God and mankind was understood as a sign of deep love.

We find this language all over Bach’s works: “The St. Matthew Passion” begins with a majestic chorus that welcomes the suffering Lamb of God as the “bridegroom,” and later the soprano sings in a deeply emotional aria “Out of love my Savior is willing to die.” In the “Christmas Oratorio,” the alto admonishes the church to prepare for the arrival of the “bridegroom” and later we hear the bass sing, “Tell me, most beloved, how may I glorify you?”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryMusicReligion & Culture* Theology

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Posted May 6, 2016 at 11:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 6, 2016 at 10:18 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bonilla, 22, is one of thousands of Lowcountry students who will graduate from college over the next three weekends. On Saturday, she will receive her degree in biology from Charleston Southern University in a ceremony at North Charleston Coliseum. She will spend her summer applying to medical schools with the goal of becoming a pediatric oncologist.

“I’m very trusting that it will all work out, and I’m excited to be able to take a look at different schools this summer and see where God will take me,” she said.

Bonilla’s interest in oncology stems from a personal hardship even greater than overcoming the language barrier. When she was 17, her mother was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer. Due to her mother’s limited English, Bonilla had to attend doctor’s appointments and translate heartbreaking news.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyYoung Adults* South Carolina

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Posted May 6, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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