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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt, forget.
I shall not see the shadows,
I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
Sing on, as if in pain:
And dreaming through the twilight
That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember,
And haply may forget.
--Christina Rossetti (1830--1894)
Czech man Vit Jedlicka has claimed a 7km2 stretch of land on the west bank of the Danube river as the Free Republic of Liberland, after disputes between Serbia and Croatia rendered it technically no man's land.
It's no half-assed attempted at nation formation either – Liberland already has a constitution, flag, coat of arms, official website, Facebook page and a motto: "To live and let live".
Read it all from the Independent.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Philosophy Psychology * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Both parents address words to their absent children which they hope, but cannot know, will reach them. Coop records video messages which he transmits back to Earth, though they will take years to arrive. Stone, meanwhile, speaks to the character who seemed to appear to her as Catholics pray to saints, asking that a message be passed on to her departed daughter.
While neither film’s protagonist is religious, “Gravity” is interested in religion in a way that “Interstellar” isn’t. Convinced that she is doomed to die in space, Stone laments that not only will no one on Earth pray for her soul, she was never even taught to pray and doesn’t know how to pray for her own soul.
Improbably traveling to two different space stations, Stone encounters a Russian Orthodox icon of Saint Christopher carrying the child Jesus in a Russian spacecraft and a smiling Buddha statue in a Chinese spacecraft. (Strikingly, the only analogous object on the American space shuttle is a statue of Marvin the Martian — an ironic comment, perhaps, on religiously deracinated Western secularism?)
Read it all.
The global economy is awash as never before in commodities like oil, cotton and iron ore, but also with capital and labor—a glut that presents several challenges as policy makers struggle to stoke demand.
“What we’re looking at is a low-growth, low-inflation, low-rate environment,” said Megan Greene, chief economist of John Hancock Asset Management, who added that the global economy could spend the next decade “working this off.”
The current state of plenty is confounding on many fronts. The surfeit of commodities depresses prices and stokes concerns of deflation. Global wealth—estimated by Credit Suisse at around $263 trillion, more than double the $117 trillion in 2000—represents a vast supply of savings and capital, helping to hold down interest rates, undermining the power of monetary policy. And the surplus of workers depresses wages.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Globalization Psychology Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Politics in General * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
For at the root of the South’s present plight lies the fact that it has today virtually no national program and virtually no national leadership. Is it strange that it should be treated by the rest of the country as such a negligible force? What is it contributing today in the way of political thought? What political leaders has it who possess weight or authority beyond their own States? What constructive policies are its people ready to fight for with the brains and zeal that made them a power in the old days?
The plight of the South in these respects would be perilous at any time. In a period when political currents are deeper and swifter than ever before, with more violent whirlpools, more dangerous rocks and shoals, our is truly a perilous position. Changes which used to be decades in the making now sweep over us almost before we know they are in contemplation. It is true everywhere. In all the countries of Europe the pendulum is swinging, now far to the left, now far to the right. Center parties have lost their power. They are in a very bad way. And the South has belonged to the school politically which sought as a rule the middle of the road, eschewing ultra-conservatism on the one hand and radicalism on the other. With Labor organized and militant, with radicalism organized and in deadly earnest, with conservatism organized and drawing the lines sharply, what is the South to do, what course shall she take, where do her interests lie, what is due to happen to her?
Read it all.
The Post and Courier’s award of the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service on Monday was followed by many calls and emails in congratulation of the recognition of the newspaper’s “Till Death Do Us Part” series on criminal domestic violence. The award also has stirred curiosity about the newspaper’s first Pulitzer award 90 years previously.
That was for an editorial written by editor Robert Lathan about the need for the South to get in step with the rest of the nation. “The Plight of the South” was published by our predecessor newspaper, The News and Courier. It appears on our Commentary page today.
In that editorial, Mr. Lathan, noted that the South was then considered by the rest of the nation as “a negligible force” and cited the need for national leadership and “constructive policies” that would help lead the South out of the wilderness.
Read it all.
So many thought the Arab Spring would allow the region self-determination, and would shift the gaze of the world away from the twin spectres of oil and Israel. Perhaps the world would finally gaze upon Arabs without racism and Islam without bigotry.
The Arab Spring was a resounding protest against everything, from the corruption of the West's corporate cronies - who exploit the region's natural resources so that they can enjoy the latest luxuries their colonial masters have to offer - to the foreign occupations and humiliations heaped upon all those who dared to think that they had a right to resist.
The Arab Spring was about this magical word, hurriyya, which means different things to different people - but at a minimum, it means freedom from oppression, exploitation, corruption and a servile existence.
But the Arab Spring was like a foetus in an abortion clinic; it never had a chance.
Read it all from Khaled Abou El Fadl at ABC Religion and Ethics.
The 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing, as with those before it, focuses attention on one special relationship. That is the bond encapsulated in the word "Anzac", the union of the soldiers of this country with those of Australia during the ill-fated Turkish campaign. In quick time, common characteristics, not least courage, endurance, ingenuity, irreverence and mateship, were attributed to the men of the two nations. The Anzac spirit was born.
So, as a consequence, as Paul Little explores this week, was an intense rivalry. New Zealanders enjoy nothing more than getting one across their big brother. Usually, the chance for this occurs on the sporting field, but, recently, we have been able to crow about stronger economic growth, lower unemployment, a more stable government and near currency parity.
Australians, for their part, try as far as possible to display indifference. For some, the "NZ" in Anzac is a genuine mystery. Largely, though, this attitude is all for show.
Read it all
Watch it all.
A day of mostly peaceful rallies to protest the death of Freddie Gray turned confrontational as dark fell over Baltimore on Saturday with demonstrators smashing the windows on police cars, blocking traffic near the Inner Harbor and shouting, “Killers!” at officers dressed in riot gear.
More than 100 officers — wearing helmets, gloves and vests and carrying batons — formed a wall along several blocks of Pratt Street, and began to make arrests. State police in full tactical gear were deployed to the city to respond to a crowd that was becoming unruly.
Protesters shouted: “Killers!” and “You can't get away with this!” and “Hands up don't shoot!” Some threw rocks, water bottles, even hot dog buns and condiments at police mounted on horses, smashed windows at local businesses and looted at least one convenience store.Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Race/Race Relations Urban/City Life and Issues Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General City Government * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
An Oregon administrative law judge recommended today that the bakers who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding should be fined $135,000.
“[T]he forum concludes that $75,000 and $60,000, are appropriate awards to compensate [the same-sex couple] for the emotional suffering they experienced,” wrote Alan McCullough, administrative law judge for Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries in his proposed order.
Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa located in Gresham, Ore., say the fine is enough to potentially bankrupt their family of seven.
Read it all.
Regrettably, the Times uses Kallam as a pawn in its story while neglecting to state his case.
Not long ago, tmatt suggested in a GetReligion post that "the most important skill in journalism is the ability to accurately state the views of someone with whom you disagree."
Once again, we have a story where a major American newspaper seems to lack the ability — or desire — to do that.
The result: a biased, ...[poor] piece of journalism.
Read it all from Get Religion.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Media Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
Read it all.
I contend that when Australians, gather at the town war memorial, there is a permissive and open attitude towards prayer and the divine, which would not normally feature as part of their expression. They are using the national remembrance our fallen soldiers sailors and airmen, as a vehicle for their own spiritual quest. A very legitimate use of the time!
So, on those cold Anzac Day dawns, deep calls to deep. And whether it be the memory of sacrifice of the life of the soldier, the flickering eternal flame, the sound of the trumpet, the lowering of the flag, God seeks to use it all to bring people back to himself, to draw all into the truth of their identity and connectedness with their loving God. And most are not even aware it is happening.
God, in his unfailing love, will use even Anzac Day to draw all people to himself.
Perhaps we should leave the Anzac myth to be extrapolated by the commentators –to draw out inspiring stories of heroism, mateship, leadership, and sacrifice – but know, that as Christians who have a call to partner with God, there are people standing next to us at Anzac celebrations, who are actually struggling to find answers to the two great questions of life: ‘Who am I, and whose am I?’
Read it all
Historian Stephen Chambers has collected more than 100 rare photographs, many taken by the troops themselves, including poignant images of soldiers from their preparation for the first landings right up until the evacuation.
Read it all
Not that it asked me and not that it needs me and not that I expect it to do anything but mock me for my efforts, but I’m going to defend the Internet.
Lately, humanity has been flattering itself that it was better and kinder before the Internet – as though we never slipped anonymous notes through locker doors in high-school hallways that were echo chambers in themselves, as if we never wrote on actual walls.
To hear us now, you’d think no one ever ever crank-called late at night, dialled up even before dial-up to offer abuse, stared into other people’s windows through our own twitching curtains.
Read it all from the Globa and Mail.
O Heavenly Father, who hast consecrated the state of matrimony to such an excellent mystery, that in it is signified and represented the spiritual marriage and unity betwixt Christ and his Church: Give thy grace, we beseech thee, to all who are joined together in holy wedlock, that they may surely perform and keep the vow and covenant betwixt them made; for his sake who adorned and beautified with his presence, and first miracle that he wrought, the marriage in Cana of Galilee, thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
I continue to deny any knowledge whatsoever of the people in this photograph.
The last shot in regulation is just incredible--watch it all.
The experiment with human embryos was dreaded, yet widely anticipated. Scientists somewhere, researchers said, were trying to edit genes with a technique that would permanently alter the DNA of every cell so any changes would be passed on from generation to generation.
Those concerns drove leading researchers to issue urgent calls in major scientific journals last month to halt such work on human embryos, at least until it could be proved safe and until society decided if it was ethical.
Now, scientists in China report that they tried it.
The experiment failed, in precisely the ways that had been feared.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Marriage & Family Science & Technology * International News & Commentary Asia China * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
it still seems to me there’s a double standard going on.
Here’s what I mean. Some years ago I received a Christmas letter from the head of an evangelical organization. About halfway through he shared that, sadly, he had gotten divorced that past year. But in the next paragraph he had great news: God had given him a new wife!
Well, maybe there were extenuating circumstances, maybe I shouldn’t judge—but it still irritates me how blandly Christians accept this sort of thing. It used to be that, if gay people were expected to live celibately, married people were expected, at least, to preserve marriage for a lifetime. Even if divorce was unpreventable, remarriage wasn’t assumed. That line about “What God has joined together, let no one put asunder” comes from Jesus himself. (Mark 10:8-9).
Gay marriage is only the last in a long series of shifts in sexual morality. Why didn’t premarital sex or cohabitation galvanize our attention, like this has? Where were the protests then? How did divorce and remarriage become about as frequent among Christians as in the general population?
Read it all and she now has a follow up post there.
Gives the job market a few years to bounce back
Opportunity for more specialized student loan debt
Provides more impressive credentials to parents’ friends
Can experience college life anew as mature, wizened 26-year-old...
Read it all.
A couple of months ago I lost my mobile phone. I duly called AT&T, my telephone company, to order a replacement — and received a nasty shock.
“So you are living in Shanghai,” an assistant announced, quoting an entirely unfamiliar Chinese address. Baffled, I explained that I didn’t live anywhere near the Bund; my residence was in Manhattan, New York.
“No, you live in Shanghai,” the voice firmly replied. When I protested vociferously, the AT&T official pronounced the three words that we have all come to dread: “You’ve been hacked.” Somebody, somehow, had managed to break into the AT&T systems and switch my cellphone billing address from New York to Shanghai. Presumably, they were Chinese.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Law & Legal Issues Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Few people will pity the dual-earner couples earning more than $100,000 and paying a penalty for being married. But at a time when lower-earning couples are struggling to get by and less likely than ever to be reaping the benefits of marriage for themselves and their children, more should be done to ensure that the tax and welfare system doesn’t punish them for tying the knot.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family * Economics, Politics Economy Taxes Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Released April 23, 2015 [Via ACNA]
At this significant time in our nation’s history with the institution of marriage before the United States Supreme Court, we reaffirm our commitment to promote and defend marriage—the union of one man and one woman. As religious leaders from various faith communities, we acknowledge that marriage is the foundation of the family where children are raised by a mother and a father together. Our commitment to marriage has been expressed on previous occasions, including the Letter of Shared Commitment and Letter on Marriage and Religious Liberty. This commitment is inseparable from affirming the equal dignity of all people and the necessity of protecting their basic rights.
The state has a compelling interest in maintaining marriage as it has been understood across faiths and cultures for millennia because it has a compelling interest in the well-being of children. Every child has a mother and a father, and every child deserves the opportunity, whenever possible, to be raised by his or her own married mother and father in a stable, loving home. Marriage as the union of a man and a woman is the only institution that encourages and safeguards the connection between children and their mother and father. Although this connection cannot always be realized and sustained—and many single parents, for example, are heroic in their efforts to raise their children—it is in the best interests of the state to encourage and uphold the family founded on marriage and to afford the union of husband and wife unique legal protection and reinforcement.
The redefinition of legal marriage to include any other type of relationship has serious consequences, especially for religious freedom. It changes every law involving marital status, requiring that other such relationships be treated as if they were the same as the marital relationship of a man and a woman. No person or community, including religious organizations and individuals of faith, should be forced to accept this redefinition. For many people, accepting a redefinition of marriage would be to act against their conscience and to deny their religious beliefs and moral convictions.
In this and in all that we do, we are motivated by our duty to love God and neighbor. This love extends to all those who disagree with us on this issue. The well-being of men, women, and the children they conceive compels us to stand for marriage as the union of one man and one woman. We call for the preservation of the unique meaning of marriage in the law, and for renewed respect for religious freedom and for the conscience rights of all in accord with the common good.
The Rev. Dr. Leith Anderson
National Association of Evangelicals
The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach
Archbishop and Primate
Anglican Church in North America
Dr. A.D. Beacham, Jr.
International Pentecostal Holiness Church
The Rev. John F. Bradosky
North American Lutheran Church
Rev. Mark Chavez
North American Lutheran Church
General Association of General Baptists
Most Rev. Salvatore J. Cordileone
Archbishop of San Francisco
USCCB Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage
His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios
Archbishop of America
President of the Holy Eparchial Synod
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
The Most Rev. Robert Duncan
Anglican Church in North America
Bishop, Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh
Rev. Dr. Ron Hamilton
Conservative Congregational Christian Conference
Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison
Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod
Rev. Bruce D. Hill
Evangelical Congregational Church
Great Commission Churches
Steven R. Jones
Missionary Church, Inc.
Imam Faizul Khan
Islamic Society of Washington Area
Most Rev. Joseph E. Kurtz
Archbishop of Louisville
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Most Rev. William E. Lori
Archbishop of Baltimore
USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for
Dr. Jo Anne Lyon
The Wesleyan Church
Most Rev. Richard J. Malone
Bishop of Buffalo
USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth
Dr. Russell Moore
Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
Dr. Gus Reyes
Christian Life Commission, Texas Baptists
Rev. Eugene F. Rivers, III
Founder and President
Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies
Jacqueline C. Rivers
Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies
Chief Operating Officer
The Free Methodist Church – USA
Fellowship of Evangelical Churches
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez
National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference / Hispanic Evangelical Association
Bishop Gary E. Stevenson
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Dr. L. Roy Taylor
Presbyterian Church in America
His Beatitude, The Most
Archbishop of Washington and Metropolitan of All America and Canada
Orthodox Church in America
Dr. Joseph Tkach
Grace Communion International
Rev. Dr. David Wendel
Assistant to the Bishop for
Ministry and Ecumenism
North American Lutheran Church
Rev. Phillip Whipple
United Brethren in Christ Church, USA
David P. Wilson
Church of the Nazarene
Rev. Paul Winter
Dr. George O. Wood
Assemblies of God
A street vendor from Mozambique, Emmanuel Sithole, lay begging for his life in a gutter as four men beat him and stabbed him in the heart with a long knife. Images of his murder have shaken South Africa, already reeling from a wave of attacks on foreigners, mostly poor migrants from the rest of Africa. Soldiers were deployed on April 21st to Alexandra, a Johannesburg township, and other flashpoints to quell the violence, though only after seven people had been killed. Thousands of fearful foreigners, many from Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, have sought refuge in makeshift camps. Others have returned home.
South Africa has experienced such horrors before. During widespread anti-foreign violence in 2008, 62 people were killed and some 100,000 displaced. Photographs of the murder of another Mozambican man, Ernesto Nhamuave, whom a jeering mob burned alive in a squatter camp, led to declarations that such atrocities would never happen again. Yet no one was charged in Mr Nhamuave’s death: the case was closed after a cursory police investigation apparently turned up no witnesses (who were easily found by journalists earlier this year). The latest violence flared up in the Durban area earlier this month after King Goodwill Zwelithini, the traditional leader of the Zulus, reportedly compared foreigners to lice and said that they should pack up and leave.
His comments poured fuel on an already-smouldering fire. Jean Pierre Misago, a researcher at the African Centre for Migration and Society in Johannesburg, estimates that at least 350 foreigners have been killed in xenophobic violence since 2008.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Immigration Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa South Africa * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
It’s a myth to suggest people on benefits must be scroungers. Most people in poverty in the UK are working. Of the children living in poverty, 61% have working parents.
When the Living Wage is introduced, everyone benefits. Morale goes up.
When work feels worthwhile, its quality improves. Raising pay to a living wage would reduce the benefits bill, increase tax receipts and boost the economy by stepping up workers’ spending power.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Archbishop of York John Sentamu * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
One of the joys of traveling is seeing how other people worship. On vacation my daughter and I visited a shul in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands that had sand on the floor to represent either the Israelite journey through the desert or a homage to the congregants’ Murano Jewish ancestors who used sand to muffle the sounds of their secret prayer services during the Spanish Inquisition. They lived as Catholics publicly, but returned to their Judaism in their basements.
We happened to attend this Caribbean synagogue when the head of the women’s club was having an adult bat mitzvah. The highlight came during her speech, when she surveyed the crowd, appeared to do a mental calculation and announced: “Family hold back!” The lox was delicious, and the whole experience was so great—how could we not join for the off-island rate of $72 a year?
So if you are traveling to the ’burgh and looking for that special something from your synagogue experience: Ask and I’ll set you up. Just not during services. I’ll be busy talking to Finkelstein.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Judaism
The Archbishop of Canterbury and Pope Francis have demanded that European nations take in more of the migrants who are fleeing North Africa and the Middle East, days after hundreds were feared to have died after their boats sank in the Mediterranean.
Up to 400 migrants were believed to have drowned when their boat capsized last week, but as many as 900 people could have died after another boat sank near the coast of Libya on Saturday. The deaths prompted Archbishop Welby to call for a united effort to prevent more deaths.
Speaking to the BBC, he said: "We can't say this is one country's responsibility, the one nearest; that's not right. Of course, we have to be aware of the impact of immigration in our own communities, but when people are drowning in the Mediterranean, the need, the misery that has driven them out of their own countries is so extreme, so appalling, that Europe as a whole must rise up and seek to do what's right.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Immigration Politics in General * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Francis * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Media * South Carolina * Theology
That need to connect—to bridge the divide between reader and writer, between me and you, between me and everyone—is there from the first. In Wallace's first novel, The Broom of the System (which also started life as an undergraduate thesis: he was double major, in philosophy and English), one man is so scared of loneliness that he intends to eat until his body fills the entire world, so he won't be alone anymore. The novel betrays a clever author very pleased with his own cleverness, but you can forgive a 21-year-old the narcissism when you realize the question at the book's core—can we ever really connect with other people?—was an obsession for Wallace, even as his style matured from a theory-based sophomoric snickering to an empathetic, impassioned searching.
"In dark times," Wallace told McCaffrey, "the definition of good art would seem to be art that locates and applies CPR to those elements of what's human and magical that still live and glow despite the times' darkness. Really good fiction could have as dark a worldview as it wished, but it'd find a way both to depict this world and to illuminate the possibilities for being alive and human in it."
I guess you can't properly call David Foster Wallace a religious writer, at least not with the definitions of religion we usually employ. Then again, when I first read him, I sensed a presence beyond the words on the page, a writer who was desperate to connect with the reader but also said what needed to be said. His questions are what I struggle with, too. Who am I? How do I connect with other people? What or who are we headed for, together? How do we get there? What is the best life?
Read it all.
The World Bank is teaming up with global religious leaders in a 15-year effort to end extreme poverty by 2030.
About 35 religious groups worldwide, including Bread for the World, Islamic Relief International, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and Sojourners, endorsed the call to action. Supporters include Christians, Jews, Muslims, Baha’is and others.
“Our approach to this staggering need must be holistic, rooted in the spiritual visions of our respective faiths, and built on a shared recognition of the intrinsic dignity and value of every life on Earth,” the call said.
Read it all.
...the Paradiso is very, very deep, so deep that I know I will struggle for the rest of my life to fully comprehend it. Dante knows this, and warns the reader in Canto II, at the outset of the journey across the ocean of Being toward full unity with God, thus:
Turn back if you would see your shores again.To experience God as Dante is about to, and as he is about to reveal to his readers, is to be forever changed. Be warned.
Do not set forth upon the deep,
for, losing sight of me, you would be lost.
Though the lower parts of the journey through the Comedy are chiefly concerned with moral improvement, it would be a gross misreading of the text to construe it as a manual for How To Be Good. If you think that life in Christ is only about believing the right things and behaving in the correct way, you have a very shallow grasp of reality. This is why you can’t really understand the Inferno and the Purgatorio without seeing them through the lens of the Paradiso. (For that matter, the Comedy is Trinitarian: you can’t understand any one book without reference to the other two).
But to enter the text of Paradiso is to plunge into the mystic depths. The best guide I’ve found so far is one that is fairly difficult itself, but one that I also find indispensable: The Metaphysics of Dante’s Comedy, by Christian Moevs (pron. “mayvs”), a Notre Dame scholar who said incredibly nice things about my Dante book yesterday.
Read it all.
Welby’s visit was to offer condolences for Egypt’s most recent witnesses, the twenty Coptic Christians and one Ghanaian martyred in Libya in February. The word ‘martyr’ is derived from a Greek word meaning ‘witness.’
Symbolically, Welby delivered to Pope Tawadros twenty-one letters written by grieving British families. One is believed to have been related to David Haines, the aid worker captured in Syria and beheaded last year.
“Why have the martyrs of Libya spoken so powerfully to the world?” Welby asked. “The way these brothers lived and died communicated that their testimony is trustworthy.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Ethiopia Middle East Egypt * Theology
Suzanne Koty, a Sumter High School English teacher, was named the 2016 South Carolina Teacher of the Year Wednesday night following a celebratory gala that served as a tribute to the teaching profession, the five finalists and all the district Teachers of the Year.
Koty, who teaches English and the International Baccalaureate course called Theory of Knowledge, was introduced by state Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman after a red carpet build-up that included a welcome band, evocative videos and stirring speeches.
“I celebrate this with all of the finalists and all of the teachers of the year,” Koty said, noting that for once in her life she was speechless.
Koty initially worked as a medical assistant but found her career passion when she served as a substitute teacher in the Sumter School District. She won a grand prize of $25,000 and a new BMW to drive for a year. The four finalists each received a check for $10,000.
Read it all.
In his fine book Enlightenment 2.0, philosopher Joseph Heath notes an effusion from former (and prospective) presidential candidate Rick Santorum. The Republican described how in the Netherlands elderly patients are “euthanised involuntarily” and its fearful residents seek medical treatment abroad. Mr Heath observes that Mr Santorum “seemed not to realise that the Netherlands was a real place, where people might hear what he said, and hope to set the record straight”. But Mr Santorum was unmoved; a spokesperson explained to a Dutch reporter, without retraction or apology, that the former senator “says what’s in his heart”.
Truthiness is not confined to the right of the political spectrum. An article in the magazine Rolling Stone provided a graphic description of a horrific gang-rape of “Jackie”, a student at the University of Virginia. Jackie allowed two years to elapse before telling the story to a visiting reporter. After the account was published, the Washington Post sent its own reporter, who established, as did the police, that few of the reported “facts” of the incident checked out. Rolling Stone later withdrew the piece.
But for Jessica Valenti, a columnist at the Guardian, “it doesn’t matter. Jackie is now another woman who is not believed.” Ms Valenti is rightly indignant that so many women in America suffer assaults like the one Jackie alleged, and that true stories of such attacks are often disbelieved. And one can see how that indignation expresses itself in her vow of truthiness: “I choose to believe Jackie. I lose nothing by doing so, even if I’m later proven wrong.”
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When my mother tells me – as she is wont to, at every available juncture – that ‘nothing has changed since I was your age’ she is half right. In a way, it hasn’t – the base level stuff, the mechanics of life. But the culture has.
Partly, this is prompted by Apple, Samsung and Google. Look around a tube carriage at rush hour (as I did when I was writing this), and people are engrossed in technology. Life is as technology centred for teens as it is for adults.
That culture feeds into anxiety and pressure for teenagers in 2015.
Now, if they like, teenagers can date on their phones, talk on their phones, and arrange to sneak out of the house on their phones. They can do their homework using their phones; indeed, some schools are increasingly making use of them as teaching tools.
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Take the case of former Charlotte, North Carolina, mayor Patrick Cannon. Cannon came from nothing. He overcame poverty and the violent loss of his father at the age of 5. He earned a degree from North Carolina A&T State University and entered public service at the age of 26 — becoming the youngest council member in Charlotte history. He was known for being completely committed to serving the public, and generous with the time he spent as a role model for young people.
But last year, Cannon, 47, pleaded guilty to accepting $50,000 in bribes while in office. As he entered the city’s federal courthouse last June, he tripped and fell. The media was there to capture the fall, which was symbolic of the much bigger fall of an elected leader and small business owner who once embodied the very essence of personal achievement against staggering odds. Cannon now has the distinction of being the first mayor in the city’s history to be sent to prison. Insiders say he was a good man, but all too human, and seemed vulnerable as he became isolated in his decision-making. And while a local minister argued that Cannon’s one lapse in judgment should not define the man and his career of exceptional public service, he is now judged only by his weakness — his dramatic move from humility and generosity to corruption. And that image of Cannon tripping on his way into court is now the image that people associate with him.
What can leaders do if they fear that they might be toeing the line where power turns to abuse of power? First, you must invite other people in. You must be willing to risk vulnerability and ask for feedback. A good executive coach can help you return to a state of empathy and value-driven decisions. However, be sure to ask for feedback from a wide variety of people. Dispense with the softball questions (How am I doing?) and ask the tough ones (How does my style and focus affect my employees?).
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Type 'introvert' into a search engine and you are offered 10.5 million web pages in just over half a second. That is mind-boggling, but it is just one example of the rapid rise of interest in introversion that there has been over the last few years. In 2003 Jonathan Rauch wrote an article in 'The Atlantic' which sparked wide debate. Susan Cain published 'Quiet' in 2012 and it rapidly became a best-seller. People have begun to recognise that not everyone is energised by being in company all the time, and this is healthy. Insights about introversion are precious to some, irritate others, and challenge society at many levels. They raise questions in businesses, education, families and leadership theory, to name but a few examples. We love shared space, and often veer towards the kind of group-work which is disabling for introverts. Most communities are challenged by hearing 'the introvert voice' from within.
What, though, do such insights about 'personality type' have to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Church? Jesus died 'once for all' and both introvert and extrovert need salvation just as much as each other. The world is crying out for the hope that Jesus brings, and doubtless some would argue that this gospel priority means we should not be distracted by supposed insights into the human personality. Be careful, though! People differ. Variety is part of the created order. We each engage with others and with God uniquely, and the Church responds to this. A foreign evangelist in France learns to speak French. A youth worker dresses and behaves differently to a bishop. In just the same way, we need to take account of introverts (and extroverts) in the church if we are to grow healthy community.
Introverts are ordinary people. They are not necessarily shy or awkward or self-obsessed. They are often socially able, popular people who are alert, responsive, energetic and creative members of teams.
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The highest-profile seminary in the Episcopal Church is still struggling after turmoil between the dean and faculty members temporarily crippled the school early this academic year.
A letter from 20 students, alumni and former trustees to the Attorney General of New York dated April 20 asks for an investigation of the actions of General Theological Seminary Dean and President Kurt Dunkle and the Board of Trustees. The letter, originally made public on Facebook and reprinted on the blog Episcopal Café, charges that Dunkle and the trustees “may have abandoned their fiduciary responsibilities and taken actions which are likely to result in the closing” of the 198-year-old institution and the sale of its remaining real estate in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. The letter restates earlier allegations against Dunkle while noting that fallout from the initial turmoil resulted in several students departing midyear, while the board “provisionally” reinstated the faculty only for the rest of the academic year, while canceling their academic tenure.
“No new hires have been announced and several top librarians have left,” the letter reads, claiming that “only one entering student has paid a deposit for admission next fall” and that the seminary’s accreditation by the Association of Theological Schools is under review.
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Last year in his maiden speech in the House of Lords, the Bishop of Chelmsford, Stephen Cottrell spoke of the importance of chaplaincy and how the role in schools and colleges should be seen as essential not an irrelevant luxury. As co-sponsors of a new technical college in East London, Bishop Stephen described how his diocese was not just committed to the best technical training but also to enable pupils to understand the modern world. One of the first things the college did was recruit a chaplain, he said.
Although each chaplaincy is very different, what they all have in common is a commitment to serving the needs of the whole school or college. Where their independence and integrity have earned it, they may be the one person the Principal can unburden themself to, or the one person who is able to say that a proposed course of action is not the right one in the light of the college’s values.
Perhaps it’s not surprising after all that chaplaincy is growing - while hard data are not easy to assemble, some 80% of colleges have some level of chaplaincy provision. The number of volunteers in school chaplaincy is also growing, as our last Report ’ The Public Face of God’ illustrated.
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Nigeria’s military announced last week that it was raiding the Sambisa Forest, one of the last strongholds of Islamist extremist group Boko Haram. Liberating the forest might be the hardest part of the campaign against the group.
Aided by regional troops and foreign mercenaries, Nigeria’s military has managed to take back nearly all of the towns and villages controlled by Boko Haram in Nigeria’s northeast over the past few months.
But one area remains mostly under their control: Sambisa, a massive expanse of forest that spreads thousands of square kilometers over several states.
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The Revd Antony MacRow-Wood has been announced as the new Archdeacon of Dorset, succeeding Stephen Waine who has gone to be Dean of Chichester.
Antony is the Team Rector of the North Poole Ecumenical Team, involving Methodist, United Reformed Church and Baptist, as well as Church of England input; and parish priest at St George’s, Oakdale, in the town.
Speaking on the announcement of his appointment, Antony said, “It is an immense privilege to be asked to become the next Archdeacon of Dorset and rather like the Disciples in this Sunday’s Gospel I’m still a little ‘disbelieving with joy’. I’m really looking forward to getting to know the people and clergy of the Archdeaconry and continuing to serve this Diocese. These are exciting times for the Church and mission will be a particular priority for me.”
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Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s Mayor Moses Tucker had to abruptly end Tuesday night’s council meeting when it devolved into yelling, cursing and personal verbal jabs.
As the full house poured out of the council chambers — many livid with council’s decision to approve the demolition of the St. Philip’s Anglican church built in 1894 — two police officers were on hand in the lobby in case the jabs became physical.
Several residents who wanted to attend the meeting were locked out, as the town wouldn’t allow more than 50 people in the room, citing fire regulations.
The Anglican church building became the centre of contention in the town in 2010 when the steeple was toppled after being partially sawed off in the middle of the night. Church officials wanted to tear down the building, and the group Church by the Sea Inc. wanted to turn it into a museum.
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French anti-terror police believe they have foiled an 'imminent" terrorist attack against "one, maybe two churches" in Paris, the interior minister revealed on Wednesday.
"A terrorist attack was foiled on Sunday morning," said France's interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve in an impromptu media briefing.
Cazeneuve revealed announced that a 24-year-old IT student, of French Algerian origins, was arrested on Sunday in possession of a significant arsenal of weapons. It is believed he was intending to carry out an attack that very day.
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When a school learns that one of its alums has achieved great things, the institution will usually seek to promote those accomplishments. But there are exceptions. If it's discovered, for example, that the former student also happens to be a member of the Ku Klux Klan, or a neo-Nazi, or a convicted felon, then the school will naturally seek to downplay the connection — and to sever any explicit ties between them.
To this list of offenses — normally reserved only for bigots and criminals — we can now apparently add opposing same-sex marriage.
Consider the recent experience of Ryan T. Anderson.
A graduate of the Quaker Friends School of Baltimore, Anderson has achieved far more than most 33-year-olds. He completed his undergraduate education at Princeton and earned a Ph.D. from Notre Dame. He has been cited by a Supreme Court justice (Samuel A. Alito, Jr., in his dissent from the majority opinion in United States v. Windsor, which struck down parts of the Defense of Marriage Act). He was recently named the William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow in American Principles and Public Policy at the conservative Heritage Foundation. And last week he was profiled fairly and respectfully in The Washington Post. (Headline: "The right finds a fresh voice on same-sex marriage.")
No wonder someone thought it made sense to post a link to the profile on the school's website.
But then the predictable uproar began. Before long, head of school Matthew W. Micciche had taken down the link and published first a brief and then a lengthier apology for having posted it in the first place. (Both statements were subsequently deleted. The longer one is quoted in its entirety on Anderson's public Facebook page.)
In his longer apology, Micciche expressed "sincere regret" for his "lack of sensitivity" and the "anguish and confusion" and "pain" the link inflicted on members of the school community who thought the link implied that the school was standing behind Anderson's views....
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The Post and Courier on Monday was awarded the year’s most prestigious Pulitzer Prize for its series about the deadly toll that domestic violence takes on South Carolina women.
The Public Service gold medal went to the newspaper for its “Till Death Do Us Part” articles that were published across five editions in August. Reporters Doug Pardue, Glenn Smith, Jennifer Berry Hawes and Natalie Caula Hauff authored the series.
Their work told the tales of domestic abuse survivors and of the 300 women in the Palmetto State who have been shot, stabbed, strangled, beaten, bludgeoned or burned to death by men during the past decade while legislators did little to quell the bloodshed.
A panel of seven judges from news media and academia called the newspaper’s work “riveting.”
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The Anglican Bishop for Ethiopia has hailed as martyrs 28 Ethiopian Christians shot or beheaded in Libya by members of the terrorist group known as ISIS or ISIL.
"I have just learned the horrifying news that as many as twenty-eight Ethiopian Christians have been shot or beheaded in Libya by members of the terrorist group known as ISIS or ISIL. This alarming act of violence against those that ISIS calls “people of the cross” comes just two months after twenty-one other Christians - twenty Egyptians and one Ghanian, were beheaded on a Libyan beach." Bishop Grant LeMarquand said in a letter to be read in Ethopian churches and distributed overseas.
Bishop LeMarquand is Anglican Area Bishop for the Horn of Africa (Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia and Ethiopia) and Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa.
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A robust defence of the Archbishops' programme Reform and Renewal was delivered at a gathering of Evangelicals last week, addressing critics who have questioned everything from its theology to its methodology.
Organised by the Evangelical group Fulcrum, the event, which asked whether the Church of England was "drinking in the last-chance saloon", was addressed by the Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, and the Revd Dr Ian Paul, associate minister of St Nicholas, Nottingham, and lecturer at the University of Nottingham.
The audience heard an unapologetic defence of the drive to tackle numerical decline, and a frank dismissal of some of the programme's most vocal critics.
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Reliable data to quantify how many American workers misuse stimulants does not exist, several experts said.
But in interviews, dozens of people in a wide spectrum of professions said they and co-workers misused stimulants like Adderall, Vyvanse and Concerta to improve work performance. Most spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing their jobs or access to the medication.
Doctors and medical ethicists expressed concern for misusers’ health, as stimulants can cause anxiety, addiction and hallucinations when taken in high doses. But they also worried about added pressure in the workplace — where the use by some pressures more to join the trend.
“You’d see addiction in students, but it was pretty rare to see it in an adult,” said Dr. Kimberly Dennis, the medical director of Timberline Knolls, a substance-abuse treatment facility for women outside Chicago.
“We are definitely seeing more than one year ago, more than two years ago, especially in the age range of 25 to 45,” she said.
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Triangulated between a feminism that preaches perpetual outrage, a porn culture that turns love into a biology lesson (and which has made it into our sit-coms, movies, and music) and a hard conservatism that ignores art, many Western women have lost the capacity to appreciate and create beauty, to wonder and delight, to genuinely love. Bombarded into spiritual catatonia by rage politics, digital devices, easy sex and irony, American women don't seem to have wisdom, but sarcasm. Instead of joy, they trade in snark. They take flirting to be sexual harassment. Claiming to be "spiritual but not religious," they are neither.
Compared to white women, women from other parts of the world offer genuine substance. I was lucky enough to date someone from another culture for several years. She was from India, and had in abundance what most women in the West have lost: what the philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand called "receptivity to values." Values, as von Hildebrand saw them, were not just the moral guideposts that people hold to. As author Thomas Howard phrased it, "by value, [von Hildebrand] did not mean the windy generalities invoked by presidents and mayors in Fourth of July speeches but rather (shall we capitalize it?) That Which is excellent in itself and is to be admired (a very weighty word for von Hildebrand). Interestingly enough, the word 'value' is so massively basic for him that it is far from easy to tweeze succinct definitions of the word from his work, so to speak."
Howard then quotes von Hildebrand:
Values are not only like dew falling from heaven, but also like incense rising to God; each value, in itself, addresses to God a specific word of glorification. A being, in praising God, praises Him through its value, through that inner preciousness which marks it as having been drawn out of the indifferent. Nature praises God...This is true of every work of art, every perfect community, every truth, and every moral attitude. Man...must first of all respond adequately to each value as a reflection of God; he must respond with joy, enthusiasm, veneration, love-and lovingly adore God, Who is the fullness of all value.Read it all.
It should by now be clear that the question of the relationship between science (scientia) and religion (religio) in the Middle Ages was very different from the modern question of the relationship between science and religion. Were the question put to Thomas Aquinas, he may have said something like this: science is an intellectual habit; religion, like the other virtues, is a moral habit. There would then have been no question of conflict or agreement between science and religion because they were not the kinds of things that admitted those sorts of relations.
When the question is posed in our own era, very different answers are forthcoming, for the issue of science and religion is now generally assumed to be about specific knowledge claims or, less often, about the respective processes by which knowledge is generated in these two enterprises.
Between Thomas's time and our own, religio has been transformed from a human virtue into a generic something typically constituted by sets of beliefs and practices. Scientia has followed a similar course, for although it had always referred both to a form of knowledge and a habit of mind, the interior dimension has now almost entirely disappeared.
During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, both religion and science were literally turned inside out.
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Speaking on a visit to religious and political leaders in Egypt, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, told the BBC's Lyse Doucet that the whole of Europe must share responsibility in dealing with the problem.
''It will be demanding, and that's why the burden must be spread across the continent, and not taken by just one country or one area, '' he said.
Read it all and listen to the whole BBC video piece (just under 2 1/2 minutes).
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“It’s my prayer for them and what I know about their lives,” Ms. Jones said in the hushed aftermath of the ceremony. “It’s being present, being attentive, letting the spirit speak. It’s just wanting to be a blessing to my friends.”
Ms. Jones meant those words in concrete as well as ineffable ways. As the founder of a group of young black churchwomen, which she named Shepreaches, she aspires to ease the difficult path of African-American women into the pulpit. For the past two years, her signal event has been a Good Friday service with sermons by seven women.
This year’s preachers range in age from late 20s to early 40s. Some are ordained, others still in seminary, and their affiliations range across traditionally black denominations. What they share in common is that none have served as senior pastors in a field still dominated by men. A few had privately doubted their own right to the pulpit until Ms. Jones issued her call.
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Our long-time friends from church, Mike and Niki Rogan, were driving to the hospital early this morning [4/17/2015] with their seven children, in anticipation of welcoming an eighth child into their beautiful family.
On the way, an oncoming car hit a deer which was thrown into the Rogans' vehicle. Mike did not survive the accident. Niki and the children survived with only minor injuries. Niki gave birth to their son, Blaise, hours after the accident.
Mike served as a corporal in the US Marine Corps and was promoted to sergeant while remaining on with the Reserves. He applied the motto, "Semper Fi" to all aspects of his life, faithfully serving God, country, and family.
Niki is a stay-at-home mom and homeschools her children who range in age from newborn to 15 years, and is left with providing for her family aided by only a minimal life insurance policy.
Read it all from Gofundme.
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How many megacities does China have? The United Nations puts it at six [that's incorrect]....
China is urbanizing at a staggering rate—in 35 years, it has added more than 500 million people to its cities. As a result, it looks like the world has vastly underestimated the size and scope of growth in China's megacities, defined as those with more than 10 million people, according to a new report by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development.
Please guess the answer before you go and read it all.
Kenneth Morgan, a Gulf War veteran, returned to Detroit four years ago after 30 years away. He left when he was nine years old, traveling the world with his military father, but chose to settle his family in Detroit because, he says, “it’s home. There’s no place like home.” Morgan, his wife, Robin, and their children, Gary Effler and Kenneth D. and Korey Morgan, are renovating a duplex they bought on the East Side for $1,800 plus back taxes.
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Books on how to get the most out of your employees almost always follow the same formula. They start by noting that the secret of business success is employee-engagement: an engaged worker is more productive as well as happier. They go on to point out that most employees are the opposite of engaged (a 2013 Gallup Survey that claims that 70% of American workers are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” gets a lot of play). They blame this dismal state of affairs on the legacy of Frederick Winslow Taylor, a Philadelphia-born Quaker who became one of America’s first management consultants and in 1911 wrote a book called “The Principles of Scientific Management”. And finally they reveal the secret of making your employees more engaged: treat them like human beings rather than parts in an industrial machine.
The first two books under review are cases in point. They both rely on over-familiar examples of high-performance companies, such as “funky, funny” Zappos and CNN. They come from the same school of poor writing—sloppy sentences, ugly management jargon and pseudo-folksy style. Stan Slap is particularly slapdash. “The Power of Thanks”, by Eric Mosley and Derek Irvine, claims that a “Positivity-Dominated Workplace creates and maintains competitive advantage”. The best way to do this is to thank people regularly. Mr Slap’s “Under the Hood” claims that the best way to maximise business performance is to look under the bonnet of your company, discover the employee culture that lies inside, and then fine-tune it. Fine-tuning involves things like praising good workers and sacking bad ones (“one of the biggest opportunities to create a legend is when the hammer falls right on the culture and someone has to go”).
Laszlo Bock’s “Work Rules!” is much better. Mr Bock has been head of “people operations” at Google since 2006 and has seen the company grow from 6,000 to almost 60,000 people....
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Our analysis of the number of missing African-American men relies on the 2010 census, the government’s most recent attempt to count all residents. The census also contains counts of people in prison and in other institutions such as homeless shelters, hospitals, nursing homes and domestic military barracks.
According to the Census Bureau, there were 7.046 million black men 25 to 54 who were not incarcerated in 2010 and 8.503 million black women in this category. The difference between these two figures leads to our headline of 1.5 million missing black men.
Demographers refer to the 25-to-54 age group as prime age, a term this post will use frequently.
Read it all and there is there is more to read there.
Carmen Fowler LaBerge, president of the national Presbyterian Lay Committee, said that in the same way the Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ became inhospitable environments for evangelicals to serve, the Presbyterian Church is becoming much the same way.
"We are seeing the environment within the PCUSA change following the affirmation of this particular vote," she says. "That environment is changing pretty rapidly. Presbyteries are becoming inhospitable to pastors who hold traditional views not only on this issue but on underlining issues related to the biblical authority of Jesus as the only way to salvation."
While sexuality might be the presenting issue in this case, LaBerge argues that the real division is rooted in a theological cleansing - fueled by a growing intolerance toward traditional, biblical views.
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it is magnificent in availability. Because of the complete sufficiency of what God has done in Christ, the work is complete in Him. We don’t have to add anything to His work. It is his free gift to us, reliant on His saving work rather than relying on human endeavor. The wonderful news is that salvation and transformation are available to us, freely given. The message is so amazing, it can almost sound unbelievable. Surely there is something I must do in order to win my salvation, cries my flesh, but the Spirit replies, “No it is Christ and His work.” We just receive it by faith.
Once we have been kissed by this heavenly grace, and embraced its transformation, our lives are revolutionized. Rightly received, the Gospel will change our behavior and shapes our voice. As I’ve traveled, I’ve heard wonderful examples of this. Let me share some examples:
The night that he told his parents that he had come to faith in Christ, he told me he was awakened by a scream from his mother. When he opened his eyes, he saw his father’s arm swinging toward him with a knife seeking to kill him for his conversion. He rolled out the window to escape, and fled with only his night shirt. What was amazing was what he said to me, “My faith in Jesus has cost me a lot. I have lost my family, but I have gained more. I have received Christ. I would do it again.”
I stood with a Kurdish lady in front of her home. “There,” she said, “Over there. That’s where I held my son while he died. Saddam’s army fired mortars on us. One of the shells landed here while my son played in the yard. The explosion took both his legs. There was nothing we could do. I held him while he died – bled to death.” It was very dangerous to speak publicly about Christ, but she said, “Only He can give peace in something like that.”
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Q: You even seem to take certain satisfaction in the disasters of the twentieth-century and to savor the imminence of world catastrophe rather than world peace, which all religions seek.
A: That’s true.
Q: You don’t seem to have much use for your fellow Christians, to say nothing of Ku Kluxers, ACLU’ers, northerners, southerners, fem-libbers, anti-fem-libbers, homosexuals, anti-homosexuals, Republicans, Democrats, hippies, anti-hippies, senior citizens.
A: That’s true – though taken as individuals they turn out to be more or less like oneself, i.e., sinners, and we get along fine.
Q: Even Ku Kluxers?
Q: How do you account for your belief?
A: I can only account for it as a gift from God.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury was in Cairo yesterday to show solidarity with Egyptian Christians murdered by jihadists two months ago. His visit was made more timely even as it was overshadowed by yet more murders. As he gave letters of condolence to the families of the victims of Islamic State’s last massacre of Christians, IS released sickening video footage of the next.
The latest film from the terrorist organisation holding the Middle East to ransom is as barbaric as anything it has produced. Prefaced with footage of jihadists vandalising Christian churches, the 29-minute video shows militants holding two groups of prisoners who they claim are members of an “enemy Ethiopian church”. Twelve are shown being beheaded on a beach. At least 16 more are shot in the head elsewhere. Both groups are thought to have been murdered in Libya.
Subject to verification of the footage this brings to more than 50 the number of Christians killed by IS in recent weeks. The strategy is clear. The leadership of the so-called caliphate, under pressure in Iraq, is seeking to expand its reign of terror in North Africa and in particular to sabotage efforts to bring stability to Libya.
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Nestled within our own times, it is easy to think the trajectory of history will lead to an inevitable change within the global Christian church. But history’s lesson is the opposite. A century ago, the modernists believed that the triumph of naturalism would lead to the total transformation of Christianity.
It must have seemed thrilling for these leaders to think they were at the vanguard of reformation, that they were the pivot point of Christianity’s inevitable future. But such was not the case. Traditional stalwarts like Machen and G.K. Chesterton (who were criticized as hopelessly “backward” back then) still have books in print. The names of most of their once-fashionable opponents are largely unrecognizable.
It’s commonplace to assume that contemporary society’s redefinition of marriage, gender, and the purpose for sexuality will eventually persuade the church to follow along. But if we were to jump forward into the 22nd century, I wonder what we would see.
Most likely, we would see a world in which the explosive growth of Christians in South America, China and Africa has dwarfed the churches of North America and Europe. And the lesson we learn from a century ago will probably still be true: The churches that thrived were those that offered their world something more than the echo of the times.
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WHO said in a statement in April that the organization's Ebola response was "slow and insufficient." "We were not aggressive in alerting the world," and poor communication caused confusion, it said.
Internal WHO emails show that the organization's leadership put off declaring Ebola an international emergency for at least two months starting in June 2014, the AP said March 20. Among the rationales used in the emails was that a declaration "could be seen as a hostile act" to some West African nations.
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The confirmation of the murder of Ethiopian Christians by Daesh (IS) in Libya has been received with deep sadness. These executions that unnecessarily and unjustifiably claim the lives of innocent people, wholly undeserving of this brutality, have unfortunately become far too familiar. Once again we see innocent Christians murdered purely for refusing to renounce their Faith.
The Christians of Egypt and Ethiopia have had a shared heritage for centuries. Being predominantly Orthodox Christian communities with a mutual understanding of life and witness, and a common origin in the Coptic Orthodox Church, they now also share an even greater connection through the blood of these contemporary martyrs.
This sad news came on the day that His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury visited His Holiness Pope Tawadros II in Egypt to personally express his condolences following the similar brutal murder of 21 Coptic Orthodox Christians in Libya by Daesh in February of this year.
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A sharp-eyed visitor to Havana and other Cuban cities will notice some odd things: the carcasses of birds strewn at intersections, insignias consisting of a single eye and dagger affixed to doorways and displayed in taxis, people dressed head to toe in white. All are emblems of Santería, a religion with roots in the culture of Yoruba slaves who came to Cuba from Nigeria from the early 18th century. After a period of suppression, it appears to be making a comeback.
Santería is a blending of the Yoruba religion, which acknowledges 401 orishas, or deities, with the Catholicism of the Spanish colonisers. Although at least 60% of Cubans today call themselves Catholics, far fewer are regular churchgoers. Many see no reason not to incorporate Santería rituals into their spiritual lives. A Catholic priest will marry a couple, but a santero might foretell their destiny and, later on, counsel them on how to revive their flagging sex life.
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Archbishop Jensen said it was not the conservatives who were leaving the Anglican mainstream: "This goes back to the behaviour of The Episcopal Church in America. If there is a schism, it is because the American church decided to break with centuries-old tradition and with the biblical position on human sexuality."
He was referring to the consecration of the openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson in 2004. Bishop Robinson recently announced he was divorcing his partner of 11 years.
Archbishop Jensen said many people in The Episcopal Church were unhappy with the direction it took on sexuality. Gafcon was born to hold these people together in unity. "Gafcon is a unity movement, but its horizons are broader than that," he told Christian Today.
"Having realised that the Archbishop of Canterbury was more or less powerless to do anything about The Episcopal Church, the Gafcon primates saw the Anglican Communion itself needed to be renewed and restored and brought into unity around biblical standards. That is our vision: to restore unity and renew biblical standards and reach the world for Christ."
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John Singletary, a local photographer, remembers meeting Scott some years ago at Father to Father, a program to help men who had fallen behind on their child support. Singletary was an employment specialist there and Scott had recently been released from jail for not making his payments. Singletary helped Scott get a job at a construction company. Scott was “elated,” Singletary said. He could tell Scott wanted to be a better father.
When Scott was pulled over on Saturday, April 4, in a used Mercedes he had recently purchased, Romaine could picture what he must have been thinking. He had just taken his coworker at Brown Distribution, 30-year-old Pierre Fulton, to a food pantry at a nearby church so Fulton could get food for his family. He was taking Fulton home.
After the officer approached Scott’s car, Romaine imagined her cousin bracing the steering wheel, trembling in fear. He didn’t want to go to jail. He had a fiancee and children to provide for, a job he couldn’t afford to lose.
He needed to go home.
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The Economic Growth and Family Fairness Tax Reform Plan, a brainchild of Senators Mike Lee (R-Ut) and Marco Rubio (R-Fl), is designed, in part, to help middle-income families raise their children. Over the past several months, policymakers have argued about the merits of the plan, and analysts have modeled its distributional effects, albeit with widely different results based on a lack of clarity about some of its provisions.
The crowning jewel of the Lee-Rubio plan is a new child tax credit of $2,500—separate from the existing $1,000 Child Tax Credit—with no phase out for higher income families. Based on our current understanding of the plan, very few if any lower-income families with children would benefit, while the annual cost of extending this tax relief to middle-class and wealthy families is $414 billion.
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1. Hinduism’s core principle is pluralism.
Hindus acknowledge the potential existence of multiple, legitimate religious and spiritual paths, and the idea that the path best suited for one person may not be the same for another. The Rig Veda, one of Hinduism’s sacred texts, states Ekam sat vipraha bahudha vadanti, or “The Truth is one, the wise call It by many names.”
As a result of this pluralistic outlook, Hinduism has never sanctioned proselytization and asserts that it is harmful to society’s well being to insist one’s own path to God is the only true way. Hindus consider the whole world as one extended family, and Hindu prayers often end with the repetition of shanti – or peace for all of existence.
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I am all for more language to describe love and the varieties of innovative ways to do relationships and chosen family. "Ethical non-monogamy" is a great term that encompasses all the ways that you can consciously, with agreement and consent from all involved, explore love and sex with multiple people.
So here's a simple list to categorize the many flavors of ethical non-monogamy:
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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
Since his appointment as head of the Church of England in March 2013, Justin Welby has been outspoken about poverty and, in particular, the availability of easy credit from payday lenders. He made comments about payday lenders, such as Wonga, and his commitment to support the credit union movement and other services helping people out of financial distress.
CAP hosts a network of hundreds of churches tackling poverty and debt in communities across the UK. Archbishop Justin said: “CAP deals in helping people to get free of the prison of debt, and it’s something I feel passionately about.
“They are serious, highly professional, deeply committed and above all they will treat you as a human being of infinite value, loved by God, who just needs some help to find your own way forward.”
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Early indications from [a] new project by the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) think-tank showed the number of people convicted of terrorism offences has increased in the last five years, as police make growing use of new legislation to disrupt extremist networks.
Hannah Stuart, research fellow at the HJS, said: “We are starting to see with lower level offences and those with a high degree of ideology behind them that there is a revolving door for them.
“We are seeing cases of terrorism recidivism – they serve a sentence and are released, then commit another crime and are jailed again.
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On a moment that Lauryn Hill's "Just Like Water" reminds her of:
"When I was on spring break, I went to Miami. And I went to South Beach at night. And I was having this moment just by myself with God. I was just looking at the waters. I was feeling the sand and the sky and the moon. ...
"I was just so in awe of creation and it was beautiful. When you're in a place of God's presence there's just total peace. Whenever I'm going through anything crazy at Howard, because crazy things happen all the time, whenever I can just center myself and drown in God's presence, I know that things are well and all is amazing."
Read it all and you can listen to the music also.
I turned to historian Bruce Hindmarsh. In studying the life and theology of John Newton, I depended on his groundbreaking research, captured in the book John Newton and the English Evangelical Tradition.
As a professor of spiritual formation at Regent College in Vancouver and a historian of the eighteenth century, Hindmarsh keeps an eye on the cultural influences on Christians today, which certainly includes digital communications technology. His thoughtful perspective brings wisdom and balance to the mobile milieu.
We live in an age of technological advance, with all its glory, conveniences, and consequences. How does this culture harm or hinder the spiritual life of the Christian?
Hindmarsh is concerned with form (the platforms and devices that shape our habits) as much as he is concerned with content (the gossip, slander, and porn that spread through the devices). The medium is part of the message. Our phones are “not just another envelope to throw the same content inside,” he said.
Our unchallenged social-media habits pose one of the most pressing discipleship challenges in the church today, according to Hindmarsh. In our three-part interview series, he offered five concerns and then followed with five practical responses.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Health & Medicine Psychology Science & Technology * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)
What sort of ministers does RME believe the Church needs? Like the Green report, RME is pragmatic in its outlook, favouring a corporate, management-driven institutional approach to ministerial training. It makes a respectful nod towards the words of Jesus in Matthew 9.37, in its single reference to scripture.
Yet, on the whole, it avoids advocating any explicitly theological engagement with ministry, apparently seeing this as peripheral (something the Church doesn't need), a luxury (something the Church can't afford), or - crucially - divisive (causing needless controversy within the Church).
To be asked to minister without an informing vision of God (which is what theology is really all about), however, is like being told to make bricks without straw. What keeps people going in ministry, and what, in my experience, congregations are longing for, is an exciting and empowering vision of God, articulated in a theology that is integrated with worship, prayer, and social action.
Ministry has both vertical and horizontal dimensions, standing at the intersection of God and the world. Both those dimensions need to be sustained. RME's exclusively pragmatic approach to ministerial training risks the loss of its core motivation and inspiration for Christian ministry.
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Because of the work I do in the area of third-party assisted reproductive medicine, I have Google alerts set for “egg donation,” “sperm donation,” and “surrogacy.” Often the daily digest reads like the lineup for a week of reality-TV programming. Stories break with headlines that boggle the mind: “Mother tells of giving birth to her gay son’s baby,” or the recent court decision that a “dead reservist’s parents may use his [frozen] sperm, against widow’s wishes” so they can have grandchildren. Or this dreadful decision from Australia’s foreign minister, who said “Department of Foreign Affairs correct to allow couple to abandon unwanted Indian surrogacy twin” because the couple claims they cannot afford to keep both of the babies.
More recently, news broke of 65-year-old Annegret Raunigk, who lives in Berlin and is pregnant with quadruplets via egg and sperm donation. Because egg donation is illegal in Germany, Raunigk left the country to conceive the babies. If the pregnancy is successful — that is, if it results in live births — she will be the oldest woman to give birth to quadruplets. The current holder of this claim to fame is Merryl Fudel of San Diego, who was a five-time divorcee and 55 years old at the time she gave birth to quadruplets in 1998....
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During an era under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, when Catholicism was trying to swim against an increasingly secular tide in the Western world, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago was the American prelate trusted by those two popes, almost above all others, to spearhead that project in the United States.
George, who stepped down in November 2014, died at 10:45 a.m. Friday at his residence in Chicago of a cancer that originated in his bladder but spread to other parts of his body, rendering treatment ineffective. He was 78.
He had been on home care since April 3 after being hospitalized for hydration and pain management issues, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Widely acknowledged as the most intellectually gifted senior US prelate of his generation, George was once dubbed the “American Ratzinger.”
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United, who began the day eight points behind, dominated the opening period, but their only chance of note saw Wayne Rooney shoot narrowly wide.
Hazard then showed why he is favourite for the PFA Player of the Year prize, netting his 18th goal of the season on the counter-attack following Oscar's fine flick.
The strike, seven minutes before half-time, shifted the momentum of the contest in Chelsea's favour.
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South African President Jacob Zuma has visited a refugee camp in the port of Durban after a fresh outbreak of anti-foreigner violence.
Mr Zuma told those who had fled the violence that it went against South African values and he would bring it to an end.
But he was jeered by some in the crowd who accused him of acting too slowly.
At least six people have died in xenophobic attacks in Durban, with violence spreading to other areas.
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Listen it all, especially appropriate given the remembrance of Oklahoma City this week.
For those who survived the Oklahoma City bombing, this is a tough milestone, but it's also a moment to honor their resilience.
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Studying the cultural history of contemporary worship music means I listen to a lot of albums. Arriving at the dissertation stage of my doctoral studies has required listening to 40 years’ worth of music from one of the most significant movements in modern church life—the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. It’s a lot of music. And trust me, there’s a lot of ugly.
But because I also serve as a worship director at a local church, listening to contemporary worship music is not just a scholarly exercise—it is also serious pastoral business. My people need solid spiritual food from their church music. They need songs that will sculpt their theological imagination and give voice to their praises, prayers, and confessions. The good news is that both as a researcher and as a worship leader, I have found many artists worth hearing.
To find these artists, I had to go beyond the Top 25 song list from the ubiquitous Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI). Today hundreds of talented songwriters are crafting excellent music that will never land on the CCLI charts. Their craft is just as good as that of the heavyweights, and their songs are more musically and theologically diverse. Consider three that represent the breadth and range you’ll find beyond the charts: Liz Vice, Miranda Dodson, and Cardiphonia.
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Police in Australia say they have foiled an Islamic State-inspired plot to carry out an attack at a World War One centenary event.
Police arrested five teenage suspects, charging one 18-year-old with conspiring to commit a terrorist act.
The men were planning to target police at an Anzac memorial event in Melbourne next week, police said.
About 200 police officers took part in the counter-terrorism operation in the city early on Saturday.
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We take you to Buffalo, New York where a growing grassroots movement has begun among large—and often empty—urban churches across the country. Old and struggling houses of worship have adopted the popular flash mob idea to encourage larger numbers of people to show up at a specific church and attend Mass on a given Sunday. Using social media to organize participants, the goal of a Mass mob is to fill empty pews and collection plates, inspire parishioners to return to church, and support significant sacred sites and houses of worship that have helped define their cities. But some say Mass mobs are not enough of a long-term solution to the many problems historic old city churches face
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The baby boom generation is set to leave one last burden to its children and grandchildren – a wave of funeral debt.
The cost of paying for rising numbers of deaths as the unprecedented numbers of post-World War Two babies come to the end of their lives may be too much for many families, a report said.
It predicted that numbers of deaths in Britain, which have been falling for 40 years, will start to go up and increase by 20 per cent over the next two decades.
At the same time the price of a funeral is rising fast, thanks to higher costs for cremation, rising undertakers’ bills as funeral firms are faced with bad debts, and the increasing fees demanded by churches.
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Even worse for Democrats, the Saez paper found that “information about inequality also makes respondents trust government less,” decreasing “by nearly twenty percent the share of respondents who ‘trust government’ most of the time:”
Hence, emphasizing the severity of a social or economic problem appears to undercut respondents’ willingness to trust the government to fix it — the existence of the problem could act as evidence of the government’s limited capacity to improve outcomes.
The findings of the Saez group are consistent with Luttig’s. Taken together, they suggest that even if Democrats win the presidency and the Senate in 2016, largely on the basis of favorable demographic trends, the party will confront serious hurdles if it attempts to deliver material support to working men and women and the very poor. Redistribution is in trouble, and that is likely to tie American politics in knots for many years to come.
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Some religious leaders have been quick to bless the “framework agreement” with Iran that emerged from deliberations earlier this month in Switzerland over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. That was a mistake.
Christian pastors and lobbyists representing various factions of Mennonites, Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists and other denominations took out a full-page ad in Roll Call this week to “welcome and support” a deal they say “offers the best path to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear-armed state.” The letter cited Matthew 5:9—“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God”—as one Biblical motive for endorsing the framework. It also ticked off reasons why it was “better than alternatives” like “yet another U.S. war with a Muslim country.”
Pope Francis lent his imprimatur to the framework during his Easter blessing, and in an April 13 letter to Congress the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops went so far as to oppose congressional review. The bishops wrote: “Our Committee continues to oppose Congressional efforts that seek to undermine the negotiation process or make a responsible multiparty agreement more difficult to achieve and implement.” Bishops also reminded Congress not to “take any actions, such as passing legislation to impose new or conditional sanctions on Iran.”
The mullahs don’t seem moved by the display of Christian charity.
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Armen Keteyian: Describe your emotional state at that point in time.
Mike Pressler: Really pissed. Really shocked that they would have this party first and foremost. But anyway, I asked each one of 'em to their face, one at a time. The astonishment on their face. And when you know your people, I knew exactly from their reaction to the allegations this was absolutely untrue.
The problem was, few others did. This is how the late Ed Bradley described the media storm surrounding the Duke rape case here on "60 Minutes":
The district attorney, Mike Nifong, took to the airwaves giving dozens of interviews, expressing - with absolute certainty - that Duke lacrosse players had committed a horrific crime.
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On bringing back certain moral vocabulary
There are certain words that have been passed down through the generations that we've sort of left behind. And some of them have quasi-religious connotations, but I don't think they need to. Those are words like grace — the idea that we're loved more than we deserve — redemption and sin. We now use the word sin in the context of fattening desserts, but it used to be central in the vocabulary, whether you're religious or not; an awareness that we all sin and we all have the same sins — selfishness, self-centeredness. And I think rediscovering that word is an important task because without that you're just too egotistical. You don't realize how broken we all are at some level.
On how writing and researching the book changed his religious life
I'm a believer. I don't talk about my religious life in public in part because it's so shifting and green and vulnerable. And so I've spent a lot of time in this book — and if you care about morality and inner life and character, you spend your time reading a lot of theology because over the last hundreds of years it was theologians who were writing about this. Whether you're a believer or not, I think these books are very helpful. It's amazing to read [The Confessions of St. Augustine, about] a guy who got successful as a rhetorician but felt hollow inside; a guy who had a mom, Monica, who was the helicopter mom to beat all helicopter moms, and how he dealt with the conflict with such a demanding mother. And so I read a lot of theology — whether it's C.S. Lewis or Joseph Soloveitchik, a rabbi — and it's produced a lot of religious upsurge in my heart. But it's also fragile and green [and] I don't really talk about it because I don't want to trample the fresh grass.
Read it all (or better) listen to it all (Hat tip: CM).
link is fixed
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It was never hard to see the influence of Methodism, born as a reaction to the complacency and privilege of 18th-century Anglicanism, on Mrs Thatcher. She believed in thrift and hard work, and liked the advice of John Wesley, Methodism’s founder, to earn, save and only then give as much as possible. The acts of generosity listed in the New Testament, from the Good Samaritan’s to that of the woman who anointed Christ’s feet, were possible only because the donors had money, she noted.
But in other ways, Mrs Thatcher moved away from Methodism, and it moved away from her. As she ascended firmly to the upper middle class, she began attending Anglican church. Conspicuous consumption and debt-fuelled growth, often seen as legacies of the Thatcher era, could hardly be further from Methodist values. And in her native east Midlands, Methodist communities and ministers were active in defending coalminers during the strike which she defeated. Methodism has influenced Britain’s centre-left far more than its political right.
In explaining her denominational switch, Mrs Thatcher said that Methodism was “a marvellous evangelical faith” with great music—but “you sometimes feel the need for a slightly more formal service” as well as for more formal theology. In her religious origins, she was informed by a passion that was foreign to the English establishment. But as that puritan passion propelled her into high office, its sharp edges were blunted. The Ritz hotel is an unlikely place for a Methodist woman from the Midlands to end her days.
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So when Jesus says ‘No-one comes to the Father except through me’ he doesn’t mean ‘No-one can be saved except by being a card-carrying Christian’, but rather ‘No-one comes to God except by the Logos that is in them’ – that is, by following the reason and conscience that belong to everyone.
We should recognise that God can work through other faiths and philosophies too. St Paul recognised that we are all the children of God, ‘in whom we live and move and have our being’ (Acts 17.28).
That is not to say that all religions are the same. The unique claim of Christianity is that in Jesus God was actually born and died as one of us.
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When a Latin American theologian reads Luke, what themes get noticed that others might underplay?
When you read Luke with poor people who have no hope, or with people hiding from dictators and death patrols, you see things you might not see otherwise. The most important underappreciated theme is what’s often called “the great reversal.” This is the idea, from Luke 13, that when the kingdom of God arrives, the last shall be first and the first shall be last.
Or take Mary’s song (the Magnificat) from Luke’s first chapter (vv. 46–55). It talks about God filling the hungry with good things and sending the rich away empty. Traditional readings of this passage aren’t necessarily wrong, but they can neglect the themes of wealth and poverty. We need a variety of perspectives, including the poor’s, to get at the full meaning.
What are American evangelicals most apt to overlook?
Compared to the other gospel writers, Luke takes care to emphasize the word salvation. We tend to overlook the economic, political, and social implications of this salvation. Luke helps us to see what it looks like for the poor.
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A rector in Chester diocese, the Revd Dr Mark Hart, has challenged the measures of church growth which are at the heart of the Church of England's "Reform and Renewal" programme.
Dr Hart, Rector of Plemstall and Guilden Sutton, trained as a mathematician and engineer. He completed a paper last Saturday, From Delusion to Reality, which looks critically at From Anecdote to Evidence, the 2014 report that examines evidence for which factors cause churches to grow.
The findings in From Anecdote to Evidence are being used as the basis for a re-orientation of central church funding, under plans put forward by the task groups.... The report Resourcing the Future proposes that half the funds should go to projects that show "significant growth po-tential". Another report, Intergenerational Equity, proposes spending Church Commissioners' capital - £100 million has been mentioned - to support diocesan growth plans.
In other words, Dr Hart says, "an awful lot is hanging on this single piece of research."
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