Posted by Kendall Harmon

In 2013 the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, declared war on Wonga and other payday lenders crucifying borrowers with 5,000% interest loans. Three years later it looks as if his prayers may have been answered.

CFO Lending, which was fined £34m this week by the Financial Conduct Authority, is just the latest operator brought to its knees by regulators punishing bad lending behaviour. CFO, which traded under brand names Payday First, Money Resolve and Flexible First, will have to hand money back to nearly 100,000 victims of its unfair practices.

Citizens Advice said complaints about payday loans have collapsed by 86% between 2013 and 2016. But campaigners warn that the industry is reinventing itself with still “eye-watering” interest rates on three-month loans aimed at people earning less than £20,000 a year on insecure work contracts.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 21, 2016 at 6:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I've been reading a lot about a "recovering" economy. It was even trumpeted on Page 1 of The New York Times and Financial Times last week.

I don't think it's true.

The percentage of Americans who say they are in the middle or upper-middle class has fallen 10 percentage points, from a 61% average between 2000 and 2008 to 51% today.

Ten percent of 250 million adults in the U.S. is 25 million people whose economic lives have crashed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 20, 2016 at 11:22 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Federal authorities said they are investigating the stabbing of nine people Saturday night in a shopping mall in St. Cloud, Minn., as a possible terrorist act, and a news agency linked to Islamic State said the group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The suspect is a Somali-American man who was known to local police but hadn’t previously been on the radar of counterterrorism investigators in Minnesota, according to an official familiar with the investigation. For years, Minnesota has grappled with the radicalization of some young men in the state’s Somali community.

“We are currently investigating this as a potential act of terrorism,” Richard Thornton, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Minneapolis division, said at a news conference Sunday. “We do not at this point in time know whether the subject was in contact with, had connections with, was inspired by, a foreign terrorist organization.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted September 18, 2016 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I’ll be honest, this made me mad. Hansen oh-so-blithely presumes that he, simply by virtue of his job title, is entitled to special privileges on Facebook. But why, precisely, should that be the case? The entire premise of Facebook, indeed, the underpinning of the company’s success, is that it is a platform that can be used by every single person on earth. There are no gatekeepers, and certainly no outside editors. Demanding special treatment from Facebook because one controls a printing press is not only nonsensical it is downright antithetical to not just the premise of Facebook but the radical liberty afforded by the Internet. Hansen can write his open letter on aftenposten.no and I can say he’s being ridiculous on stratechery.com and there is not a damn thing anyone, including Mark Zuckerberg, can do about it.

Make no mistake, I recognize the threats Facebook poses to discourse and politics; I’ve written about them explicitly. There are very real concerns that people are not being exposed to news that makes them uncomfortable, and Hansen is right that the photo in question is an example of exactly why making people feel uncomfortable is so important.

But it should also not be forgotten that the prison of engagement-driving news that people are locking themselves in is one of their own making: no one is forced to rely on Facebook for news, just as Aftenposten isn’t required to post its news on Facebook. And on the flipside, the freedom and reach afforded by the Internet remain so significant that the editor-in-chief of a newspaper I had never previously read can force the CEO of one of the most valuable companies in the world to accede to his demands by rousing worldwide outrage.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingMediaScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 16, 2016 at 7:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Admittedly, his face has adorned more religious imagery than any other in history.

But now Jesus is being put forward as an icon of an entirely different sort – in the world of fashion.

The Church of England has given its blessing to London Fashion Week with an official video making the Biblical case for the clothing industry.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 16, 2016 at 6:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Obamacare failed because it flunked Economics 101 and Human Nature 101. It straitjacketed insurers into providing overly expensive, soup-to-nuts policies. It wasn't flexible enough so that people could buy as much coverage as they wanted and could afford — not what the government dictated. Many healthy people primarily want catastrophic coverage. Obamacare couldn't lure them in, couldn't persuade them to buy on the chance they'd get sick.

Obamacare failed because the penalties for going uncovered are too low when stacked against its skyrocketing premium costs. Next year, the penalty for staying uninsured is $695 per adult, or perhaps 2.5 percent of a family's taxable household income. That's far less than many Americans would pay for coverage. Financial incentive: Skip Obamacare....

Obamacare failed because it hasn't tamed U.S. medical costs. Health care is about supply and demand: People who get coverage use it, especially if the law mandates free preventive care. Iron law of economics: Nothing is free; someone pays. To pretend otherwise was folly. Those forces combined to spike the costs of care, and thus insurance costs.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

2 Comments
Posted September 12, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the last few years, despite claims of being a growing economy, the standard of living in Nigeria has continued to fall dramatically. Interestingly, this fall in the human condition seems to have created a fertile environment for the emergence of the kind of deep religious spirituality that has ironically placed our country on top of both the most religious and corrupt nations of the world. One would ordinarily expect that in this environment of widespread moral degeneracy, religious leaders would rise up to their prophetic responsibility of not only speaking truth to power and working for the enthronement of a just social order, but also of showing good example in the manner in their personal conduct. But this is not the case. In a nation where millions of people go to bed hungry every day, some of today’s acclaimed preachers have ridden on the crest of our collective social dysfunction to financial stardom.

Add to this phenomenon the rise of nouveau riche prosperity gospel preachers who continue to feast on the ignorance and gullibility of the people, capitalizing on their socio-economic condition to rob them of their faith and money. Through the prosperity gospel, the hawking of miracles, signs and wonders, the advertisement of God-induced financial breakthroughs, and the crave and craze for hedonistic materialism, the public face of religion in Nigeria has been so battered and badly disfigured, such that if Jesus Christ were to come back today on earth, he would be hard pressed to recognize our version of Christianity as what he bequeathed to us. Just take a cursory look at the lifestyle of some of today’s acclaimed men of God. Their highly materialistic way of life is a brutal affront to the gospel of Jesus Christ. They lack every iota of modesty, frugality, and simplicity.
Today, the Christian gospel has become so reduced to financial inducements and promises of wealth and power. In today’s religious geography, God is more or less a first-aid box, a quick fixer and a money doubler.

Read it all (my emphasis) [Hat tip: ABK).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted August 30, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I’m meeting more millennials who embrace the mentality expressed in the book “The Abundant Community,” by John McKnight and Peter Block. The authors are notably hostile to consumerism.

They are anti-institutional and anti-systems. “Our institutions can offer only service — not care — for care is the freely given commitment from the heart of one to another,” they write.

Millennials are oriented around neighborhood hospitality, rather than national identity or the borderless digital world. “A neighborhood is the place where you live and sleep.” How many of your physical neighbors know your name?

Maybe we’re on the cusp of some great cracking. Instead of just paying lip service to community while living for autonomy, I get the sense a lot of people are actually about to make the break and immerse themselves in demanding local community movements. It wouldn’t surprise me if the big change in the coming decades were this: an end to the apotheosis of freedom; more people making the modern equivalent of the Native American leap.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted August 9, 2016 at 3:46 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Banning resident Jim Bailey and his wife went in recently for their annual physicals. They came away with hundreds of dollars in charges for co-pays and tests.

Bailey, 78, told me that he feels duped.

“The Affordable Care Act dictates that all annual physicals be provided at no cost to the policyholders — no deductibles or co-pays,” he said. “But that wasn’t the case with us.”

Nor will it be the case with anyone else — even though many Americans believe otherwise.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebatePsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 4, 2016 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But if [Erik] Hurst’s research is accurate (and profit margins from the video-game industry suggest that it is), then the issue becomes much bigger than video games themselves. The portrait that emerges of the young American male indicates an isolated, entertainment-absorbed existence, with only the most childlike social ties (such as with parents and “bros”) playing a meaningful role.

Young men, significantly more so than young women, are stuck in life. Research released in May from the Pew Center documented a historic demographic shift: American men aged 18-30 are now statistically more likely to be living with their parents than with a romantic partner. This trend is significant, for one simple reason: Twenty- and thirtysomething men who are living at home, working part-time or not at all, are unlikely to be preparing for marriage. Hurst’s research says that these men are single, unoccupied, and fine with that—because their happiness doesn’t depend on whether they are growing up and living life.

This prolonged delay of marriage and relational commitment often means a perpetual adolescence in other areas of life. Love and sex are arguably the best incentives for men to assert their adulthood. But in the comfort of their parents’ homes and their gaming systems, young men get to live out their fantasies without the frictions of reality.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEntertainmentMenPornographyScience & TechnologySociologyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 3, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Isle of Palms became the first town in South Carolina to ban plastic bags last year, and now Charleston and Folly Beach are looking to curb consumption of the single-use bags, possibly by banning them or imposing a fee at checkout counters.

In doing so they could bring the nationwide fight over plastic bags to South Carolina, which happens to be the headquarters of one of the largest packaging manufacturers in North America, a company leading the fight against such restrictions.

Folly Beach City Council is voting at its Aug. 9 meeting on whether to prevent the island’s merchants from distributing or selling plastic bags, and also Styrofoam coolers. Members of Charleston County and city of Charleston government, environmental groups and nonprofit organizations have joined forces on an online survey to gauge how the public feels about measures to curb plastic bag use.

Read it all from the local paper.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentState Government* General InterestAnimals* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 31, 2016 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From my vantage point in the evangelical landscape, I am incredibly optimistic about the future of the church. I know we have lots of cause for concern about “the culture,” and I know the church tasked with proclaiming the kingdom in it seems pretty shaky right now. But I when I take a sober look at the young Christians (the millennials!) training for gospel ministry and thinking hard about mission, I like where their head’s at. The rest of us, on the other hand . . .

I find it incredibly interesting, sort of amusing, and more than a bit sad that the attractional church—what we used to call the “seeker church”—hasn’t seemed to grow up at all. Yes, it’s grown big. But growing big and growing up aren’t the same thing. I was thinking about this recently after a few people posted a video of one of the landmark attractional churches featuring a ’90s boy band throwback segment in their worship service. I’m sure it was a lot of fun. I’m also sure it was especially fun for those whose heyday was the ’90s. It’s the same fun that was had by the worship team in my ’90s attractional youth group who were constantly reworking rock hits from the ’70s to make them more Jesusy (“Peaceful, Easy Feelin,” anybody? How about a little “Talkin’ about my Jesus—he’s some kind of wonderful”?).

And it occurs to me that, exceptions being granted, the attractional church is specifically designed for what was said to “work” 20 years ago....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted July 28, 2016 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The world that Disney presents to us is one in which all the sharp edges of real life have been smoothed away. For this reason the Magic Kingdom can never truly be the happiest place on earth in a biblical sense. Unlike Jesus, who entered the real, broken world in order to redeem it, the best Disney can offer is a fantasy of a world that never was. It is a nice place to visit but you really can’t live there.

It is common practice for churches to do with their past what Walt Disney did with his. Churches have a tendency to reimagine the past and make it their ideal. It’s not such a problem for a theme park, but it is a real obstacle for a church, especially when that reimagined world becomes the model for its mission. Churches have often spent decades trying to return to a past that never really existed. The “Christian America” churches try to bring back was not that Christian. The fondly remembered pastor of that golden age was not that golden. Those hallowed church ministries were not as effective as we remember, or if they were, they would no longer be effective today. The sweet fellowship of yesteryear was not that sweet.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEntertainmentMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyEschatology

0 Comments
Posted July 26, 2016 at 2:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Living as I do just east of Seattle, I’ve been waiting for a magazine to do the definitive profile of Barronelle Stutzman, the Richland, Wash., florist who’s getting sued to the nines for refusing to provide flowers for the wedding of a gay friend (and long-time customer).

Whereas the New Yorker and the Atlantic have sat this one out, the Christian Science Monitor team stepped in. Their Stutzman piece, which ran last week, leans over backward to give the facts linked to the florist’s side of the story, as well as the views of her critics.

It is part of an intriguing series of seven stories on religious liberty and gay rights and it’s the best treatment I’ve seen yet. The lead story discusses how gay rights is pushing many religious Americans into a corner where they feel compelled to support behaviors their faith condemns as immoral. Look for the Russell Moore quote about the sexual revolution not tolerating public dissent and the John Inazu quote about what will happen to our society when faith-based organizations – if stripped of their nonprofit status – cease to provide social services to the hungry, poor and homeless.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 24, 2016 at 11:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Not long ago, my community lost a beloved young member because of his repeated trespassing onto a dangerous train trestle to take selfies. He posted them with the hashtag #liveauthentic. His last time there, he died while trying to outrun the train. (People take such extraordinary measures to get selfies that so-called “selfie-related deaths” are a global phenomenon. Wikipedia now keeps a tally.) For him and for many others, capturing an experience with a photo, video, tweet, or blog post can hold more importance than the actual experience and reflects a phenomenon that the French philosopher Jean Baudrillard called the hyperreal.

In his 1986 book, America, Baudrillard cited the election of a Hollywood actor, Ronald Reagan, to the presidency as evidence of the hyperreal. Hyperreality describes a postmodern, highly technological society in which the lines between the real and simulations of the real become hopelessly (although often purposely) blurred to the point that we can no longer distinguish between reality and imitations of reality. When someone believes that reality TV actually represents real life, or when Coca-Cola—which was originally a simulation of cocaine—gets labeled as “the real thing,” or when we really feel liked by the number of “likes” on Facebook, we’re dealing with the hyperreal.

For example, this month’s release of the mobile app Pokémon Go—a video game using “augmented reality” (blending virtual reality with our actual surroundings)— has police cautioning players to be more mindful of the real world. One girl was hit by a car while walking into traffic and two men fell off an ocean bluff while playing. More generally, cell phone use plays a factor in one in four car accidents. Texting by pedestrians has grown into such a significant public safety concern that cities, campuses, and companies are taking measures to curb emergency room visits and even deaths from those “distracted while walking.” (Full disclosure: I once sprained my ankle walking down a grassy bank while reading email on my Blackberry. I know of what I write.)

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEntertainmentReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The discerning citizen needs to be able to make an ethically informed choice as to what they spend their time and money on. If a game encourages players to collaborate and practice making empathetic choices, and connects people in mutually beneficial ways that may result in flourishing and a sense of community, then that's positive.

Adorno's point is that our mass culture reflects the society in which we live and its values. If we are looking to transform the banality of the everyday into something playful and imaginary, this may be a healthy form of catharsis. But if we're not happy and instead feel stressed and in desperate need of constant escape, then we need to look more deeply at what values our society is perpetuating.

Although Adorno's criticisms of mass produced cultural objects has been dismissed as reactionary, he makes a point worth noting. Adorno hopes that we will be critical as opposed to passive citizens and this goal is vitally important in today's media-infused society. In our fast-paced world of multi-media information sources, we require an updated mode of interaction whereby we can critically engage with these technologies. Transferable thinking skills, such as those honed by the study of philosophy, may be one good place to start.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEntertainmentPsychologyMental IllnessScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 20, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The affirmation culture of pop psychology has made its way into the theological academy, at least at mainline Protestant seminaries. We are told that we can be the leaders who will fix the church and that all of our snazzy ideas are totally going to work, indeed, that they are “prophetic” (please stop using that word to describe anyone you know).

Of course, the problem with this system is that then our seminaries send these “prophetic” newly ordained people into actual churches with actual lay people. And the ability of lay people to spot bad ideas is very strong. This combination usually makes for a painful, short marriage. One need only glance at the numbers of clergy who last less than five years in parish ministry to know that perhaps that professor was right. Maybe we are all idiots for wanting to do ministry in churches; the smart ones got out ahead of time.

Or maybe our seminaries could do better by the people they are training. Why are we not telling people in seminary that if they do not want serve in churches then they should not be pursuing ordination? I understand the practical reasons (mostly money), but I am astonished that we do not see the negative endgame for the church, not to mention the damage it does to the individual paying for an education: Paying student loans for a ministerial education that proved worthless is a sure and certain path to embitterment.

When I was in seminary, I remember having an endless number of conversations with people in their 20s who wanted to be ordained but classified themselves as “just not sure” about the church. Most of them were interested in academics. I wonder how many professors of systematic theology or biblical studies we will need in the future. According to the flood of people in our seminaries, I am guessing 4 million.

I would suggest that our seminaries are inadvertently devastating our churches. Most people who are ordained do end up in some kind of ordained ministry at some point in their career. However, if they have been encouraged and you are so special-ed through seminary, then it seems perfectly logical to them that they can make their living being an urban garden planter who occasionally talks about Jesus.'

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySeminary / Theological EducationSoteriology

0 Comments
Posted July 19, 2016 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Over the past week, tens of thousands of people have taken to roaming the streets, interacting with invisible beings that now inhabit our cities.

These fanatics speak in a special language, undertake hours of devotional activity, and together experience moments of great joy and great sorrow.

It is an obsession, many say, that has taken over their lives, and for which they will sacrifice their bodies. They understand the world in a way the uninitiated cannot.

What sounds like a sudden global religious conversion, is, of course, the launch of Pokémon Go, an augmented reality smartphone game that has restarted the popular culture phenomenon of Pokémon. In many ways, however, Pokémon and religion are not so far apart.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyTravel* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 14, 2016 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

First of all, what is Pokémon GO?
Pokémon GO is a mobile and tablet app game which lets players find Pokémon (Animated creatures, first created in the 90′s, which players have to catch, train and battle with). The game takes place in augmented reality (meaning the game combines real life action with virtual gaming) by using GPS as you walk around towns, cities and other locations to find the Pokémon.

The game has been an overnight sensation with millions playing it around the world.

Why does your church need to know?
Your church might be a ‘PokéStop’ - real life buildings and landmarks that players have to visit to get certain items they need to play the game. Your church could also be a ‘Gym’ where players can battle their Pokémon. (Being Gym means people spend significantly more time battling Pokémon.)

Pokémon Go is therefore giving churches around the country a great opportunity to meet people from their area who might not normally come to church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureTravel* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As technologies and methods advanced, workers in all industries became able to produce much more value in a shorter amount of time. You’d think this would lead to shorter workdays.

But the 8-hour workday is too profitable for big business, not because of the amount of work people get done in eight hours (the average office worker gets less than three hours of actual work done in 8 hours) but because it makes for such a purchase-happy public. Keeping free time scarce means people pay a lot more for convenience, gratification, and any other relief they can buy. It keeps them watching television, and its commercials. It keeps them unambitious outside of work.

We’ve been led into a culture that has been engineered to leave us tired, hungry for indulgence, willing to pay a lot for convenience and entertainment, and most importantly, vaguely dissatisfied with our lives so that we continue wanting things we don’t have. We buy so much because it always seems like something is still missing....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingMovies & TelevisionPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 7, 2016 at 2:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Prime Minister resigns. There are calls for the Leader of the Opposition to likewise. A petition for a second referendum gathers millions of votes. There is talk of the United Kingdom splitting apart. The Tory succession campaign turns nasty.

This is not politics as usual. I can recall nothing like it in my lifetime. But the hurricane blowing through Britain is not unique to us. In one form or another it is hitting every western democracy including the United States. There is a widespread feeling that politicians have been failing us. The real question is: what kind of leadership do we need to steer us through the storm?

What we are witnessing throughout the West is a new politics of anger. There is anger at the spread of unemployment, leaving whole regions and generations bereft of hope. There is anger at the failure of successive governments to control immigration and to integrate some of the new arrivals.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEuroEuropean Central BankHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

0 Comments
Posted July 2, 2016 at 2:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Premiums for health plans sold through the federal insurance exchange could jump substantially next year, perhaps more than at any point since the Affordable Care Act marketplaces began in 2013.

An early analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that proposed rates for benchmark silver plans — the plans in that popular tier of coverage that determine enrollees’ tax subsidies — are projected to go up an average of 10 percent across 14 major metropolitan areas.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted June 16, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all from the New York Times.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Lesley Stahl: You're texting money?

Bob Collymore: You are effectively texting money.

Read or watchit all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Consider some recent encroachments on liberty.

Read it all from the Boston Globe.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.


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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the desert climate of Scottsdale, Arizona rest 147 brains and bodies, all frozen in liquid nitrogen with the goal of being revived one day.

It's not science fiction — to some it might not even be science — yet thousands of people around the world have put their trust, lives and fortunes into the promise of cryonics, the practice of preserving a body with antifreeze shortly after death in hopes future medicine might be able to bring the deceased back.

"If you think back half a century or so, if somebody stopped breathing and their heart stopped beating we would've checked them and said they're dead," said Max More, CEO of the Scottsdale-based Alcor. "Our view is that when we call someone dead it's a bit of an arbitrary line. In fact they are in need of a rescue."

Read it all.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I know what it is like to have to juggle creditors to make it through a week. I know what it is like to have to swallow my pride and constantly dun people to pay me so that I can pay others. I know what it is like to have liens slapped on me and to have my bank account levied by creditors. I know what it is like to be down to my last $5—literally—while I wait for a paycheck to arrive, and I know what it is like to subsist for days on a diet of eggs. I know what it is like to dread going to the mailbox, because there will always be new bills to pay but seldom a check with which to pay them. I know what it is like to have to tell my daughter that I didn’t know if I would be able to pay for her wedding; it all depended on whether something good happened. And I know what it is like to have to borrow money from my adult daughters because my wife and I ran out of heating oil.

You wouldn’t know any of that to look at me. I like to think I appear reasonably prosperous. Nor would you know it to look at my résumé. I have had a passably good career as a writer—five books, hundreds of articles published, a number of awards and fellowships, and a small (very small) but respectable reputation. You wouldn’t even know it to look at my tax return. I am nowhere near rich, but I have typically made a solid middle- or even, at times, upper-middle-class income, which is about all a writer can expect, even a writer who also teaches and lectures and writes television scripts, as I do. And you certainly wouldn’t know it to talk to me, because the last thing I would ever do—until now—is admit to financial insecurity or, as I think of it, “financial impotence,” because it has many of the characteristics of sexual impotence, not least of which is the desperate need to mask it and pretend everything is going swimmingly. In truth, it may be more embarrassing than sexual impotence. “You are more likely to hear from your buddy that he is on Viagra than that he has credit-card problems,” says Brad Klontz, a financial psychologist who teaches at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and ministers to individuals with financial issues. “Much more likely.” America is a country, as Donald Trump has reminded us, of winners and losers, alphas and weaklings. To struggle financially is a source of shame, a daily humiliation—even a form of social suicide. Silence is the only protection...

Financial impotence goes by other names: financial fragility, financial insecurity, financial distress. But whatever you call it, the evidence strongly indicates that either a sizable minority or a slim majority of Americans are on thin ice financially. How thin? A 2014 Bankrate survey, echoing the Fed’s data, found that only 38 percent of Americans would cover a $1,000 emergency-room visit or $500 car repair with money they’d saved. Two reports published last year by the Pew Charitable Trusts found, respectively, that 55 percent of households didn’t have enough liquid savings to replace a month’s worth of lost income, and that of the 56 percent of people who said they’d worried about their finances in the previous year, 71 percent were concerned about having enough money to cover everyday expenses.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the ’90s we millennials heard stories about a time when kids performed plays at home and families gathered around their pianos, but we consumed our entertainment from TVs that kept growing in size and programming.

In following our individual channels, choices, and pursuits, we became more isolated. We became anxious, de­pressed, and exhausted and began to wonder if bigger was really better. Now something new is happening. Farmer’s markets are springing up. People are turning off their televisions and creating their own stories on social media through status updates, blogs, and vlogs. People upcycle, knit, and quilt.

Those who grew up with big-box stores and mega­churches are longing for small, deep, and creative communities. These worshipers reject a worship service where paid professionals entertain those attending and instead are committed to making liturgy, art, music, and relationships.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEcclesiologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Denver’s business community took notice of [Karla] Nugent because of her philanthropy. As leader of sales, marketing, and human resources, she’s created a culture of generosity at Weifield. The company donates to more than 30 nonprofits in the city, including organizations that support women, veterans, at-risk youth, and the urban poor. Employees join in the generosity as well, taking bike rides to raise money for MS and building houses for Habitat for Humanity on company time.

In 2014, Nugent won the Denver Business Journal’s Corporate Citizen of the Year Award as well as the award for Outstanding Woman in Business for architects, engineers, and construction.

But light began to flood into Weifield when, several years ago, Nugent decided to bring the community’s needs into the company. After seeing growing income inequality in Denver, she created the Weifield Group apprenticeship program.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 22, 2016 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Robert] Blendon says the poll found that among Floridians who have experienced serious financial problems in the past two years (problems like spending down savings, not being able to afford necessities and racking up credit card debt), 76 percent had health insurance.

Consider the case of Wilson Gamboa — one of the Floridians polled.

Gamboa has a black Suzuki C50 motorcycle in his garage. But he hasn't driven it in two years since his health insurance premiums went up by $50 a month.

"It's been a while," says Gamboa. "I start her up regularly — you know, just to make sure the wheels keep going and the engine stays lubed — but she's sitting there now."

Read it all.

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Posted March 17, 2016 at 6:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The groundswell of residents who opposed opening the Lowcountry’s offshore waters to drilling for oil and natural gas had help from an unlikely white knight: the Navy.

Federal regulators Tuesday removed the Southeast coast from a proposed final ruling on leasing new areas for the work.

The ruling did open more of the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic Ocean. It now goes to a 90-day public comment period and must be approved by Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.

The decision does not end the leasing process for seismic testing and exploratory drilling, but profit for that work is in fees paid by oil industry companies for the results, and the lease applications are widely expected to be dropped.

Read it all.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Just as it is starting to turn the tide against Isil, Iraq is running out of money.

Behind the front lines of the Iraqi desert, where the Nineveh provincial police are training to retake their homes in and around Mosul, they are short of one thing: weapons.

“We have been regrouped here since the fall of Mosul,” said Major Ayman, standing over his line of men in blue uniforms. “We have been waiting here for five months but we have no weapons.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 13, 2016 at 5:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The House of Commons has defeated the Government’s attempt to relax Sunday trading restrictions. On Wednesday evening, MPs voted 317 to 286 to maintain the current rules.

Twenty-seven Conservative MPs defied the Government to vote against a proposal to give local authorities the power to extend Sunday trading hours.

They were joined by Labour and the Scottish National Party (SNP), who announced their opposition to the changes on Tuesday, after press reports had earlier suggested they would abstain or vote in favour. Although there are no Sunday trading restrictions in Scotland, and the Government’s plans affect only England and Wales, the SNP argued that allowing seven-day shopping across the UK would lower the premium pay-rates that Scottish workers currently receive for working on Sundays.

Read it all.

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Posted March 11, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Plans to overhaul Sunday trading laws in England and Wales have been dropped after they were rejected by MPs.

The Commons opposed proposals to allow councils to extend opening hours by 317 votes to 286, as 27 Tories rebelled.

Ministers had sought to limit the rebellion by promising to trial the changes in 12 areas but said afterwards they would respect MPs' views.

Critics of the plans said they would "chip away" at Sunday's special status and put undue pressure on workers.

Read it all.

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Posted March 10, 2016 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Richard Socher appeared nervous as he waited for his artificial intelligence program to answer a simple question: “Is the tennis player wearing a cap?”

The word “processing” lingered on his laptop’s display for what felt like an eternity. Then the program offered the answer a human might have given instantly: “Yes.”

Mr. Socher, who clenched his fist to celebrate his small victory, is the founder of one of a torrent of Silicon Valley start-ups intent on pushing variations of a new generation of pattern recognition software, which, when combined with increasingly vast sets of data, is revitalizing the field of artificial intelligence.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Chick-fil-A is offering free ice cream to families who silence their phones and place them inside a box known as a “cell phone coop” for the entire meal.

The so-called challenge is available at more than 150 of the chain’s locations.

“We really want our restaurant to provide a sense of community for our customers, where family and friends can come together and share quality time with one another,” Brad Williams, a Chick-fil-A operator in Suwanee, Georgia, said in a statement. Williams is responsible for the coop.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingChildrenDieting/Food/NutritionMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted March 4, 2016 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We toiling workers can allow ourselves a wry smile. For most of the last eight years the owners of wealth and inflated assets have had things their own way, while the real economy has been left behind.

The tables are finally turning. The world may look absolutely ghastly if your metric is the stock market, but it is much the same or slightly better if you are at the coal face.

The MSCI index of world equities has fallen almost 20pc since its all-time high in May of 2015, implying a $14 trillion loss of paper wealth. Yet the world economy has carried on at more or less the same anemic pace, and the OECD's global leading indicators show no sign that it is suddenly rolling over now.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceStock MarketThe U.S. GovernmentFederal ReserveEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChinaEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 11, 2016 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What’s striking — and crucial for understanding our populist moment — is the fact that the leadership cadres of both parties aren’t just unresponsive to this anxiety. They add to it.

The intelligentsia on the left rarely lets a moment pass without reminding us of the demographic eclipse of white middle-class voters. Sometimes, those voters are described as racists, or derided as dull suburbanites who lack the élan of the new urban “creative class.” The message: White middle-class Americans aren’t just irrelevant to America’s future, they’re in the way.

Conservatives are no less harsh. Pundits ominously predict that the “innovators” are about to be overwhelmed by a locust blight of “takers.” The message: If it weren’t for successful people like us, middle-class people like you would be doomed. And if you’re not an entrepreneurial “producer,” you’re in the way.

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in GeneralOffice of the President* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted February 5, 2016 at 6:55 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Shops will be allowed to open for longer on Sundays after the Government revealed it was pressing ahead with controversial plans to give local councils powers to relax trading laws.

A host of measures to shake-up shop opening hours will be put forward as amendments to the Enterprise Bill, Sajid Javid, the business secretary, announced today. It comes less than three months after David Cameron, the Prime Minister, was forced to scrap a vote on plans to relax trading laws after they sparked a revolt by 20 Conservative MPs.
However, despite opposition to the proposals from MPs and some retailers, Mr Javid has pushed ahead by unveiling measures to allow councils to introduce zones where shops can trade for longer.

Read it all.

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Posted February 3, 2016 at 7:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Let’s ask a question: Why was David Blatt fired as coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers? The man who fired him said it was a matter of “a lack of fit with our personnel and our vision.” Possibly true. But it would be more useful to say this: David Blatt got fired because Chip Kelly got fired before him, and Jose Mourinho before him, and Kevin McHale before him, and so on nearly ad infinitum.

That is to say: firing coaches is how professional sports franchises deal with conflict. And athletes know that this is how professional sports franchises deal with conflict: so when a team hits a bad patch, and the players are underperforming, and the coach is getting angry with them, and relationships are fraying… why bother stitching them up? Why bother salving the wounds? If everyone knows where the situation is headed — sacking the manager — then isn’t there rather a strong incentive to make things worse, in order to hasten the inevitable, put an end to the frustrations, start afresh, get a do-over? Of course there is.

And precisely the same tendencies are at work in many of the key institutions of American social life. This is one of the chief reasons why so many marriages end quickly; this is why so many Christians church-hop, to the point that pastors will tell you that church discipline is simply impossible: if you challenge or rebuke a church member for bad behavior, he or she will simply be at another church the next week, or at no church at all.

Read it all.

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Posted February 1, 2016 at 3:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Standing at a microphone in September holding up a baby bottle, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a local pediatrician, said she was deeply worried about the water. The number of Flint children with elevated levels of lead in their blood had risen alarmingly since the city changed its water supply the previous year, her analysis showed.

Within hours of Dr. Hanna-Attisha’s news conference, Michigan state officials pushed back — hard. A Department of Health and Human Services official said that the state had not seen similar results and that it was working with a much larger set of data. A Department of Environmental Quality official was quoted as saying the pediatrician’s remarks were “unfortunate,” described the mood over Flint’s water as “near-hysteria” and said, as the authorities had insisted for months, that the water met state and federal standards.

Dr. Hanna-Attisha said she went home that night feeling shaky and sick, her heart racing. “When a state with a team of 50 epidemiologists tells you you’re wrong,” she said, “how can you not second-guess yourself?”

No one now argues with Dr. Hanna-Attisha’s findings. Not only has she been proved right, but Gov. Rick Snyder publicly thanked her on Tuesday “for bringing these issues to light.”

Read it all from the New York Times.

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Posted January 25, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Entering 2016, the future never felt more within reach.

Science fiction will become science fact this year when you take virtual-reality vacations and your dishwasher reorders its own soap. Are you ready for a drone that follows you around like paparazzi?

When we gazed ahead at the devices, breakthroughs and ideas most likely to make waves, two themes emerged. One is liberation: We’re increasingly less shackled, be it to a phone charger or a cable subscription. The other is intelligence: As processing power and bandwidth increase, our machines, services and even messaging apps become more capable.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 30, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Forget public Nativity scenes, as court fiat commanded us to do years ago. On Fifth Avenue this year you can’t even find dear old Santa Claus. Or his elves. Christmas past has become Christmas gone.

The scenes inside Saks Fifth Avenue’s many windows aren’t easy to describe. Saks calls it “The Winter Palace.” I would call it Prelude to an Orgy done in vampire white and amphetamine blue.

A luxuriating woman lies on a table, her legs in the air. Saks’ executives, who bear responsibility for this travesty, did have the good taste to confine to a side street the display of a passed-out man on his back (at least he’s wearing a tux), spilling his martini, beneath a moose head dripping with pearls. Adeste Gomorrah.

But you haven’t seen the anti-Christmas yet. It’s up at 59th Street in the “holiday” windows of Bergdorf Goodman. In place of anything Christmas, Bergdorf offers “The Frosty Taj Mahal,” a palm-reading fortune teller—and King Neptune, the pagan Roman god, seated with his concubine. (One Saks window features the Roman Colosseum, the historic site of Christian annihilation.)

Read it all from daniel henninger of the WSJ.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularismWicca / paganism* TheologyChristologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 24, 2015 at 6:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

,,,in the United States of 2015 — weeks before the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif. — someone had insulted and implicitly threatened...[Heba Macksoud] in her favorite ShopRite. It felt to her as if all the toxic language of the Republican presidential campaign, with its various forms of Islamophobia, had infiltrated even a store she cherished for its commitment to diversity.

With Ms. Yu at her side, she went to the Customer Service counter to report what had happened. The agent there called for the store’s assistant manager, Mark Egan. “I’m not done shopping,” Ms. Macksoud recently recalled telling him, “but I don’t feel safe here.”

Mr. Egan was about as much of a Jersey guy as a Jersey guy can get. He grew up in Freehold, Bruce Springsteen’s hometown, and married in the young Springsteen’s parish church, Saint Rose of Lima. Mr. Egan, his hair starting to thin at 43, has worked at ShopRite for 13 years.

He told Ms. Macksoud he would protect her.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted December 19, 2015 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[The data in the economic background paints]...a very murky picture. This is the first time the Fed has ever embarked on tightening cycle when the ISM gauge of manufacturing is below the boom-bust line of 50. Nominal GDP growth in the US has been trending down from 5pc in mid-2014 to barely 3pc.

Danny Blanchflower, a Dartmouth professor and a former UK rate-setter, said the US labour market is not as tight as it looks. Inflation is nowhere near its 2pc target and the world economy is still gasping for air. He sees a 50/50 chance that the Fed will have to pirouette and go back to the drawing board.

“All it will take is one shock,” said Lars Christensen, from Markets and Money Advisory. “It is really weird that they are raising rates at all. Capacity utilization in industry has been falling for five months.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/SectorThe U.S. GovernmentFederal ReserveForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 18, 2015 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If the Federal Reserve proceeds as expected and raises US interest rates for the first time in almost a decade on Wednesday it will be an affirmation of what Janet Yellen and her fellow policymakers see as the strength of the US recovery.

It will also be at odds with what many in the US’s industrial economy are seeing.

From manufacturing behemoths like Caterpillar and Deere & Co to companies supplying the industrial sector the common theme in recent months has been that, thanks to a strong dollar and a collapse in commodity prices, tough times are back. Some are going so far as to declare the arrival of an industrial recession.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentFederal Reserve* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 16, 2015 at 5:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As part of his push for the Affordable Care Act in 2009, President Obama came to Central High School to laud this community as a model of better, cheaper health care. “You’re getting better results while wasting less money,” he told the crowd. His visit had come amid similar praise from television broadcasts, a documentary film and a much-read New Yorker article.

All of the attention stemmed from academic work showing that Grand Junction spent far less money on Medicare treatments – with no apparent detriment to people’s health. The lesson seemed obvious: If the rest of the country became more like Grand Junction, this nation’s notoriously high medical costs would fall.

But a new study casts doubt on that simple message.

Price has been ignored in public policy,” said Dr. Robert Berenson, a fellow at the Urban Institute, who was unconnected with the research. Dr. Berenson is a former vice chairman of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commision, which recommends policies to Congress. “That has been counterproductive.”

Read it all (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinancePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

10 Comments
Posted December 15, 2015 at 2:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Speaking as the Church of England's lead on the environment, Bishop Nicholas has welcomed today's agreement at the UN Climate Change Summit in Paris. After two weeks of talks, participants have committed to hold the increase in global temperatures to 'well below' 2-degrees above pre-industrial levels, alongside clear rules on transparency and reviews of carbon emissions every five years.

Speaking about the COP21 agreement, Bishop Nick Holtam, said, "is good to have an ambitious agreement about the aspiration. What matters now is that governments actually deliver a low carbon future - the transparency of accountability and process of review will be what ensures that happens. This looks like real progress - there is now a much more positive spirit about what now needs to happen than after Copenhagen six years ago, but we are still at an early stage on the journey."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 12, 2015 at 2:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nearly 200 delegates from nations around the world on Saturday approved a framework to contain carbon emissions, in a move being hailed as a groundbreaking accord that requires the world's economies to take concrete steps to regulate gases linked to global warming.

After two weeks of marathon negotiations conducted in the shadow of the Paris terrorist attacks which shocked the world, national representatives appeared put a stamp of approval on a blueprint that commits signatories to curbing climate-altering greenhouse gases.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius hailed the "historic" measure for transforming the world's fossil fuel-driven economy within decades and turn the tide on global warming.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 12, 2015 at 1:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It's the season of kindness, so one Florida restaurant is doing its part to help others get into the spirit, by offering food that's priced with a "suggested donation." For TODAY NBC's Kerry Sanders reports.

Watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDieting/Food/NutritionPoverty* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On the eve of the Paris summit on climate change, St James’s Church Piccadilly highlighted the perilous state of the polar ice caps by hosting a giant melting ice sculpture.

The artwork entitled ‘Her floe-fall lament (COP21)’ was created by artist and placemaker Sara Mark.

The installation, which lasted less than a day, was created by a column of frozen water, on top of an oil steel drum melting into the cavity below. The steel drum was burnt and was made as hot as possible before installation, and then surrounded by wood ash, not only to separate the sculpture from people who might touch, but to suggest that destruction of trees are not helping the environment.

The work, placed in the centre of the nave, to disrupt normal church proceedings, was an accompaniment to discussions on the end of days and looking to Christ for hope, which is central to the Advent message. After the evening service, everyone processed around the sculpture, to a fire in the courtyard of the church, which cemented the idea of the delicate balance in the environment of heat and cold, which makes up the world.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchArtScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeFrance* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 9, 2015 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After walking more than 200 miles in 14 days from London to Paris to highlight the need for a fair, ambitious and binding climate change deal at the UN climate talks, over 30 pilgrims are returning from Paris on the Eurostar in just a couple of hours. It has been quite a journey, both individually and for the group as a whole.

The pilgrimage began with a wonderful service at St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square, where more than 150 people came to show their support, including the Bishop of Salisbury and Church of England’s lead bishop on the environment, Bishop Nicholas Holtam, and Bishop John Sherrington from the Catholic Diocese of Westminster.

Later that morning we were joined by 150 primary school children from Archbishop Sumner School, who sang and played instruments to welcome the pilgrims as they walked through Kennington. There was even a steel band! It was especially moving since many of the pilgrims were walking for the futures of their own grandchildren.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted December 1, 2015 at 3:39 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The other [unusual request] involved a lady who came in and wanted to discuss a DIY funeral. After asking a few questions I enquired as to whom the funeral was for. ‘Me’, she said. Seeing the potential challenges of this I looked to establish if she had any children. ‘Yes,’ she said. ‘But they couldn’t face doing it.’ I pointed out the pitfall that if they couldn’t face it, then it would certainly be a tricky proposition with her no longer being around to help. There was a sudden look of comprehension as she said: ‘Oh my goodness, I’ve been such a fool – of course! But it’s been nice talking with you’.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* General InterestHumor / Trivia* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted November 23, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England has said it is "disappointed and bewildered" by the refusal of leading UK cinemas to show an advert featuring the Lord's Prayer.
The Church called the decision "plain silly" and warned it could have a "chilling" effect on free speech.
It had hoped the 60-second film would be screened UK-wide before Christmas ahead of the new Star Wars film.
The agency that handles adverts for the cinemas said it could offend those of "differing faiths and no faith".

Read it all and please take the time to watch the Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life

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Posted November 22, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nods and exhalations of “uh-huh” from the crowd give the brief sense of a revival meeting, making it easy to forget that Hayhoe is, first and foremost, a scientist. The 43-year-old Ph.D. made her name building localized statistical models (“downscaling,” in the argot of her field), which governments from California to Massachusetts use to prepare for a future onslaught of drought, or unprecedented rainfall. She currently heads up the Climate Science Center of Texas Tech University in Lubbock, and has contributed to reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Later this month, she’ll appear at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris on behalf of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a 46-year-old organization devoted to promoting a healthier, safer planet.

But here in the beating heart of Christian America, she’s an apostle of her discipline, faced with a daunting challenge. Of all U.S. religious groups, white evangelical Protestants are least likely to believe in human-caused planetary warming: Only 11 per cent accept the idea, compared to 46 per cent of the broader U.S. population. Yet no movement punches further above its political weight, bringing cash and votes to Republicans who voice their doubts and fears in Washington. If you belong to the 97 per cent of climate scientists who regard global warming as real, man-made and potentially catastrophic, this deep fracture in U.S. politics is an enormous problem.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryCanada* Theology

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Posted November 17, 2015 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“The deductible, $3,000 a year, makes it impossible to actually go to the doctor,” said David R. Reines, 60, of Jefferson Township, N.J., a former hardware salesman with chronic knee pain. “We have insurance, but can’t afford to use it.”

In many states, more than half the plans offered for sale through HealthCare.gov, the federal online marketplace, have a deductible of $3,000 or more, a New York Times review has found. Those deductibles are causing concern among Democrats — and some Republican detractors of the health law, who once pushed high-deductible health plans in the belief that consumers would be more cost-conscious if they had more of a financial stake or skin in the game.

“We could not afford the deductible,” said Kevin Fanning, 59, who lives in North Texas, near Wichita Falls. “Basically I was paying for insurance I could not afford to use.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinancePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

6 Comments
Posted November 16, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life

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Posted November 13, 2015 at 11:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Amid the stresses of the dot-com bust and the Great Recession, it was only white Americans who turned increasingly to drugs, liquor and quietus.

Why only them? One possible solution is suggested by a paper from 2012, whose co-authors include Andrew Cherlin and Brad Wilcox, leading left and right-leaning scholars, respectively, of marriage and family.

Noting that religious practice has fallen faster recently among less-educated whites than among less-educated blacks and Hispanics, their paper argues that white social institutions, blue-collar as well as white-collar, have long reflected a “bourgeois moral logic” that binds employment, churchgoing, the nuclear family and upward mobility.

But in an era of stagnating wages, family breakdown, and social dislocation, this logic no longer seems to make as much sense.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted November 8, 2015 at 6:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The old image of the “middle class” as an aspirational state of being – upward mobility coupled with a measure of financial stability – hasn’t disappeared. But it’s under stress as much as at any time in the postwar era. Fewer Americans these days call themselves middle class, and many who do use that label see it as a badge of struggle as much as a badge of opportunity.

The middle class is being redefined partly by demographics. In 1970, fully 40 percent of US households were married couples with at least one child under 18 years old. By 2012 that share had declined to 20 percent of US households – a shift that includes more single-parent breadwinners. It’s also being redefined by a changing job market – notably by the rising importance of education on résumés, as well as the disappearance of punch-the-timecard jobs in offices and factories that once produced comfortable lifestyles but were vulnerable to automation.

All this doesn’t mean that living standards for average middle-income families are languishing in a state of permanent deterioration. A good deal of evidence suggests that’s not the case. And while some deride the insecurity of the Gig Economy – the growing legions of people doing freelance, contract, temporary, or other independent work – the changing job market has a bright side for many Americans: greater flexibility, creativity, and self-determination for one’s career.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted November 6, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Ecumenical Patriarch His All Holiness Bartholomew has called for urgent action for climate justice ahead of the UN summit on climate change in Paris in December.

In a lecture held at Lambeth Palace as part of a two day visit, the 'green patriarch' spoke of the ethical and honourable obligation ahead of COP21:
"It is not too late to act, but we cannot afford to wait. We all agree on the necessity to protect the planet's natural resources …. and we are all in this together." The Patriarch urged cities, governments and individuals to voice opinions, make decisions and act to drive a new environmental ethos.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchClimate Change, WeatherGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural Resources* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesOrthodox Church* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 4, 2015 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Church leaders have expressed their anger at the government for denying them a say over new Sunday trading laws, in a major clash between ministers and bishops.
Senior aides to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, protested to ministers that the Church was not properly consulted before George Osborne announced plans to allow shops to open for longer on Sundays.

The Church of England now fears the government will attempt this week to sneak the new law through Parliament without it being scrutinised properly by the Anglican bishops who sit in the House of Lords.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 18, 2015 at 7:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Charleston, New Orleans, Miami and other low-lying cities will be mostly under water by the end of this century unless global carbon emissions are dramatically reduced soon, a new study says.

Published [this past] Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study found that carbon emissions already have locked in at least 5 feet of sea rise by 2100.

But without drastic cuts in emissions, seas could eventually rise by 20 feet or more, the study found. Such an increase would affect at least 20 million coastal residents. Coastal South Carolina, Florida and Louisiana would be particularly hard hit.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryScience & TechnologyUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural Resources* South Carolina

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Posted October 16, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the spring, Aeterna Zentaris announced the transfer of its library of 100,000 drug compounds to the Medical University of South Carolina in a collaborative venture it hopes will lead to new treatments.

MUSC can make that available to researchers within the University of South Carolina system. It also will own any therapeutic compounds it discovers outside of the company’s areas of interest.

Under the agreement, MUSC will try to provide Aeterna Zentaris with at least 10 development candidates over 10 years starting in 2018. The company also will get the rights to license any of those ideas.

Read it all from the local paper.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Canada* South Carolina

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Posted October 13, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

underscoring the incredible momentum to legalize marijuana is the misconception that the drug can’t hurt anybody. It can, especially young people.

The myth that marijuana is not habit-forming is constantly challenged by physicians. “There’s no question at all that marijuana is addictive,” Dr. Sharon Levy tells me. She is the director of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, one of a few programs designed to preemptively identify substance use problems in teens. At least 1 in 11 young adults who begin smoking will develop an addiction to marijuana, even more among those who use the more potent products that are entering the market.

Levy speaks of an 18-year-old patient who had started smoking marijuana several times a day in 10th grade, dropped out of high school, and been stealing money from her parents. “She and her family were at their wits’ end trying to find appropriate treatment in a health care system that doesn’t consider addiction to marijuana a serious problem,” Levy says. “We are simply not prepared for the fallout of marijuana legalization.”

Read it all.

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

2 Comments
Posted October 13, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A college degree practically stamped Andres Aguirre’s ticket to the middle class. Yet at age 40, he’s still paying the price of admission.

After a decade of repayments, Aguirre still diverts $512 a month to loans and owes $20,000.

The expense requires his family to rent an apartment in Campbell, Calif., because buying a home in a decent school district would cost too much. His daughter has excelled in high school, but Aguirre has urged her to attend community college to avoid the debt that ensnared him.

“I didn’t get the warmest reception on that,” he said. “But she understands the choice.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationMarriage & FamilyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingHousing/Real Estate MarketPersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 12, 2015 at 12:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Wall Street’s biggest banks are beginning to build their defences against downturns, signalling an end to the steady thinning of reserves that has helped boost profits in the past five years.

Tapping into reserves set aside for bad loans has become a reliable source of income for the banks in the post-crisis environment, allowing them to offset the effects of weak demand and ultra-low interest rates. Regulators let lenders dip into reserves in this way if they can argue that an improving outlook makes losses less likely.


But the practice is expected to have a limited impact on the banks’ third-quarter profits, which begin to be presented this week, because reserves have been run down about as far as they can go.

While some banks with plump cushions of reserves could still make net reductions, others are at an “inflection point,” said Jennifer Thompson, an analyst at Portales Partners in New York. Lenders with big exposures to energy could see “dramatic” increases in reserves, she said, while related sectors such as materials, commodities and industrials also look vulnerable to rises.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 11, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The building towers over its sprawling parking lot, its windowless slabs of off-white concrete giving it the authoritative look of a government building. People of all ages trickle into the building seven days a week, sometimes in large crowds. Outside the six floors of the main structure are a number of signs guiding visitors to other parts of the surrounding campus,
including a satellite building and a large courtyard. But this isn’t any kind of government, school or office building — it’s Raleigh’s Providence Baptist Church, one of many megachurches in the Triangle. Findings from the Hartford Institute for Religion Research show these churches attract younger participants to their congregations — more so than many other, smaller churches. That includes college students, who tend to drop out of church for at least part of their college careers, research says.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

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Posted October 11, 2015 at 1:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Thank you for reading this article on the Internet.

E-mail the author here! Buy my book here!

Click here to add me to your professional network on LinkedIn.

I invite you to subscribe to my RSS feed.

I also invite you to sign up for my twice-daily e-mail newsletter, The PS, a free, twice-daily distillation of news and views on everything under the sun, delivered fresh to your mailbox every six to eight hours.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* General InterestHumor / Trivia* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 9, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The rooms in the intensive care unit are filled with folded-up walkers and moving boxes. In the lobby, plaques and portraits have been taken off the wall. By this weekend, the last patients will be discharged and Mercy Hospital Independence will close, joining dozens of rural hospitals around the country that have not been able to withstand the financial and demographic challenges buffeting them.

The hospital and its outpatient clinics, owned by the Mercy health care system in St. Louis, was where people in this city of 9,000 turned for everything from sore throats to emergency treatment after a car crash. Now, many say they are worried about what losing Mercy will mean not just for their own health, but for their community’s future.

Mercy will be the 58th rural hospital to close in the United States since 2010, according to one research program, and many more could soon join the list because of declining reimbursements, growing regulatory burdens and shrinking rural populations that result in an older, sicker pool of patients. The closings have accelerated over the last few years and have hit more midsize hospitals like Mercy, which was licensed for 75 beds, than smaller “critical access” hospitals, which are reimbursed at a higher rate by Medicare.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

1 Comments
Posted October 9, 2015 at 12:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A few months before 9/11, when I first moved to downtown Los Angeles, the city’s high rises teemed with lawyers and bankers. The lights stayed on late — a beacon of industriousness. But as I quickly discovered, they rolled up the sidewalks by sundown. No matter how productive and wealthy its workers, downtown was a ghost town. LA’s urban core was no place to raise a family or own a home. With its patchwork of one-way streets and expensive lots, it was hardly even a place to own a car. The boom of the late 1980s and early 1990s that had erected LA’s skyline had not fueled residential growth. Angelenos who wanted to chase the dream of property ownership were effectively chased out of downtown.

But things change. Last month, I moved back to “DTLA,” as it’s now affectionately known. Today, once-forlorn corners boast shiny new bars, restaurants, and high-end stores. The streets are full of foot traffic, fueled by new generations of artisans, artists, and knowledge workers. They work from cafés or rented apartments, attend parties on hotel rooftops, and Uber religiously through town. Yes, there are plenty of dogs. But there are babies and children too. In a little over a decade, downtown’s generational turnover has replaced a faltering economy with a dynamic one.

What happened? Partly, it’s a tale of the magnetic power possessed by entrepreneurs and developers, who often alone enjoy enough social capital to draw friends and associates into risky areas that aren’t yet trendy. Even more, it is a story that is playing out across the country. In an age when ownership meant everything, downtown Los Angeles languished. Today, current tastes and modern technology have made access, not ownership, culturally all-important, and LA’s “historic core” is the hottest neighborhood around. Likewise, from flashy metros like San Francisco to beleaguered cities like Pittsburgh, rising generations are driving economic growth by paying to access experiences instead of buying to own.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 6, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a landmark ruling, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg on Monday declared the Safe Harbor data-sharing deal as invalid.

The agreement, signed in 2000 between Brussels and Washington, enables companies and international networks to easily transfer personal data to the United States without having to seek prior approval, a potentially lengthy and costly process.

"The Court of Justice declares that the (European) Commission's US Safe Harbour Decision is invalid," it said in a decision on a case brought against Facebook by Austrian law student Max Schrems.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 6, 2015 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Budweiser, three of the largest World Cup sponsors, are demanding that Sepp Blatter step down immediately from his presidency of Fifa, a week after he personally became the subject of a criminal investigation into a corruption scandal that has engulfed the organisation.

Visa, another important sponsor, also joined the call for Mr Blatter to fall on his sword. But the defiant head of Fifa pushed back in a statement through his lawyer, refusing to heed the companies whose deals with Fifa contributed to more than $1.6bn in sponsorship revenue for the body between 2011-14, according to consultancy IEG.

The demands from Coke, McDonald’s and Budweiser’s owner Anheuser-Busch InBev are the strongest yet. All three have urged Fifa to make swift progress in cleaning itself up but to date they had not called outright for Mr Blatter’s resignation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationSports* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 3, 2015 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The church has heard a fresh call to be “a church of the poor for the poor” in recent years, the Archbishop of Canterbury said last night as he commissioned volunteers to help churches engage with issues of credit and debt in their communities.

Speaking during a special service at St George-in-the-East in Shadwell, London, the Archbishop told more than 50 volunteers – who have taken part in a pilot scheme in London, Southwark and Liverpool dioceses – that they had “seen the need, and met it with love, grace and hope.”

The first phase of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Church Credit Champions Network is on course to secure benefits worth over £2million for local communities.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 1, 2015 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I would put it this way: corruption involves, not restriction of voice in general, but its illegitimate restriction, defined in terms of the rules of a given game. When those rules are established and accepted, then the issue of “voice” becomes less problematic: bowling clubs are not acting illegitimately when they restrict their membership to bowlers, rather than opening it up to ping-pong players. Similarly, churches are not acting illegitimately, and therefore are not restricting voice, when they limit ordination to baptized and believing Christians. Thus, the inevitable question of whether “orthodoxy” should restrict the voices of the “unorthodox” must be answered as both “yes” and “no.” “Yes,” if this restriction is built into the canonical structures of the church in question; “no”, if these restrictions derive from structures that are extra-canonically constrained by manipulations of influence. For when there is canonical space for diverse embodiments of, e.g. theological positions in a church, as in both “evangelical” and “catholic” views within the older Anglican ecclesial structures, engaging the Influence Market in a way that restricts those voices becomes a matter of corruption.

This can arguably be shown with the Episcopal Church (TEC): what was once a relatively theologically diverse church, within the limits of its formularies, has become one of the most theologically monochromatic churches in America. This has happened through the ever more deeply engaged Influence Market. On the one hand, there has been nothing “illegal” about the outworking of that market: bishops can ordain whom they wish and appointments can be made according to personal preferences of those in power. But the end result of caving into, let alone deliberately manipulating, these dynamics is corruption, and on two scores.

First, through the suppression of legitimate voices in the Church, it is inevitable that the truth — in this case, the truth of the Gospel — suffers, simply for lack of adequately trained hearts and minds to engage that truth. More corruption follows, through the perversion of critical Christian inquiry. Second, when Influence Markets such as TEC’s are moving ahead at full steam, it is inevitable that more concrete and classical acts of corruption take place: misuse of funds and misuse of canons (the church’s legal process). In an institution where everybody is “on the same side” (because there are few left on any other side), no one wishes to hurt their “friends” by raising questions. This has happened on a number of fronts in TEC in matters involving the national budget (e.g. misusing trust funds to balance the bottom line), discipline (manipulating canons to silence dissenting voices), and the legislative process (not following canonical procedures at General Convention). It represents a matter of corruption, at least in Johnston’s paradigm, where the “legal” Influence Market has finally given way to quite “illegal” activities.

Read it all from the Living Church's Covenant blog (emphasis his).

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: Analysis* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 30, 2015 at 4:54 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A poll by Populus for ACS, undertaken online among 1,864 adults in England and Wales on 2-3 September 2015, revealed that a majority (58%) of the public still thinks that Sunday is different from the rest of the week, 61% because it is a shared time with family and friends, and 58% because it is a day of relaxation. Two-thirds (67%) supported the current legislation permitting large stores to open up to six hours on Sundays while 23% opposed it, presumably because they thought it was either too strict or too liberal. Three-fifths agreed that the existing laws provide sufficient opportunities to shop on Sundays (with just 12% dissenting) and a similar proportion felt that, if the laws were relaxed, shop staff would be forced to work longer and their family life would suffer. At the same time, 25% agreed that the present legislation is not convenient for people like themselves and a plurality of 42% that it constrains customers’ choice when they can go shopping. Sunday trading is one of those topics where the outcome of surveys can be radically different dependent upon the question-wording and context.

An online survey by Research Insight for ACS of 70 local authority chief executives in England and Wales between 6 August and 4 September 2015 found that 64% were likely to support deregulation in some form in their own local authority, typically in an out-of-town location. However, 64% were concerned that having different Sunday trading regulations within their local authority would cause confusion for consumers and 69% that it would displace trade from some zones to others.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSociology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 30, 2015 at 8:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Heh.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingHistoryScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* General InterestHumor / Trivia* TheologyEschatology

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Posted September 28, 2015 at 7:24 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Since the financial crisis of 2007-08, which Western leader could boast of spreading ownership in any important way? In the U.S. and Britain, the percentage of citizens owning stocks or houses is well down from the late 1980s. In Britain, the average age for buying a first home is now 31 (and many more people than before depend on “the bank of Mom and Dad” to help them do so). In the mid-’80s, it was 27. My own children, who started work in London in the last two years, earn a little less, in real terms, than I did when I began in 1979, yet house prices are 15 times higher. We have become a society of “have lesses,” if not yet of “have nots.”

In a few lines of work, earnings have shot forward. In 1982, only seven U.K. financial executives were receiving six-figure salaries. Today, tens of thousands are (an enormous increase, even allowing for inflation). The situation is very different for the middle-ranking civil servant, attorney, doctor, teacher or small-business owner. Many middle-class families now depend absolutely on the income of both parents in a way that was unusual even as late as the 1980s.

In Britain and the U.S., we are learning all over again that it is not the natural condition of the human race for children to be better off than their parents. Such a regression, in societies that assume constant progress, is striking. Imagine the panic if the same thing happened to life expectancy.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePensionsTaxesThe U.S. GovernmentFederal ReserveForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 26, 2015 at 9:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Muhammad Maiyagy Gery heard about a new mobile app from Facebook Inc. that provides free Internet access in his native Indonesia, he was excited.

But after testing it, the 24-year-old student from a mining town on the eastern edge of Borneo soon deleted the app, called Internet.org, frustrated that he was unable to access Google.com and some local Indonesian sites.

Mr. Gery said Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg is an “inspiration in the tech world,” but added that the company’s free Internet effort is “inadequate.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 24, 2015 at 2:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Specialists in infectious disease are protesting a gigantic overnight increase in the price of a 62-year-old drug that is the standard of care for treating a life-threatening parasitic infection.

The drug, called Daraprim, was acquired in August by Turing Pharmaceuticals, a start-up run by a former hedge fund manager. Turing immediately raised the price to $750 a tablet from $13.50, bringing the annual cost of treatment for some patients to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“What is it that they are doing differently that has led to this dramatic increase?” said Dr. Judith Aberg, the chief of the division of infectious diseases at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She said the price increase could force hospitals to use “alternative therapies that may not have the same efficacy.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 21, 2015 at 12:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If the church is the body of Christ, then the megachurch is like an athlete on steroids.

Every major city has a bevy of churches drawing between 5k-25k people. To get a body to grow that big leaders have to use some sort of performance enhancer. These things—typically models, strategies, and techniques gleaned not from the gospel or the Christian narrative, but from the world of business and the narrative of consumer capitalism—serve as performance enhancers that help create enormous congregations with huge facilities and hundreds of programs.

The impact of these practices is akin to using performance-enhancing drugs. They actually alter the form and function of the body, causing real and serious long-term consequences for the church universal.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMovies & TelevisionReligion & CultureSports* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology

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Posted September 21, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Here and elsewhere, the people press and beseech, and Jesus needs a respite.

But, of course, the isolation has a positive content. It’s not about getting away from others but about going toward something else. Jesus isn’t alone. He’s with the Father. Prayer can happen in company. Church worship is corporate prayer. But there must be times when a soul petitions the Father in solitude. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that “faith is not an isolated act. No one can believe alone, just as no one can live alone,” but Jesus’s example shows the periodic necessity of making God your only companion. Too often the world draws you away from him, and so you must slough off your circumstances and address him by yourself, oriented toward nothing else, no outside distractions or commitments. The first commandment is, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Loving your neighbor comes second.

We are in danger of losing these replenishing, corrective moments of solitary faith. Silence and seclusion are harder to find, and fewer people seek them out. You find a lone bench in the park on a fall afternoon, gaze up at the sky through the branches, and begin the Rosary only to have a power walker march by barking into an invisible mic. It’s not just the noise, it’s his connection to absent persons, as if to say that being in one place alone with the Lord is insufficient.

Social media is the culprit. Text­ing, selfies, updates, chats, snapchats, tweets, multiplayer games, blogs, wikis, and email enable people to gossip, boast, rant, strategize, self-promote, share, collaborate, inform, emote, and otherwise connect with one another anywhere and all the time. The volume is astounding. Earlier this year, Facebook boasted 1.23 billion active users, while late last year Twitter’s 200 million users sent 400 million tweets per day. According to Nielsen Media, a teen with a mobile device sends or receives on average around 3,300 text messages per month, in addition to logging 650 minutes of phone calls.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 20, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tiny living (a gentle, left-leaning alternative to hard-edged right-wing survivalism) is a way for people who are already slim to go on dieting. In both its real and imaginary versions, but especially in the latter, it’s invigorating and clarifying. Lack of closet space concentrates the mind, challenging us to reflect on our priorities, or develop some if we don’t have any. In my own life, I’ve noticed in recent years that the pleasures of divestiture — of carting stuff off to the thrift store or the dump — far exceed the pleasures of acquisition. When I see a photo of a clever loft space perched above a compact, TV-free living room with a cool kitchenette in the corner and views of pine trees, I drift off into an alternate existence where smartphones and antacids have no hold over me.

Is any of this new? Of course not. Back in the 1930s, during the Depression, the businessman and tinkerer Wally Byam founded a company called Airstream. Its signature product, a streamlined RV, was a miracle of miniaturization promising freedom and self-reliance. ‘‘I’m here today and gone tomorrow/ I drive away from care and sorrow,’’ reads a vintage postcard from the era that depicts a grumpy bill collector gazing after a departing trailer hitched to a car whose driver wears a huge grin. But Byam’s goals for his homes on wheels weren’t merely escapist; he truly believed that his trailers could save the world, or at least substantially improve it. He organized caravans of the vehicles with the intention, similar to Zach Klein’s, of fostering understanding and togetherness and building, what we now call ‘‘community.’’ Humble spaces, smiling faces — that was the general notion. And it endures. The American Dream is like that. You think it has receded, that it has died, but really, it’s only downsized.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingHousing/Real Estate Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A few years ago, Tim Kreider wrote this for the New York Times:
I’ve often thought that the single most devastating cyberattack a diabolical and anarchic mind could design would not be on the military or financial sector but simply to simultaneously make every e-mail and text ever sent universally public. It would be like suddenly subtracting the strong nuclear force from the universe; the fabric of society would instantly evaporate, every marriage, friendship and business partnership dissolved.
An utterly chilling thought, isn’t it? It makes the Ashley Madison hack look quaint in comparison. I have certainly said and done things in one context that would be troublesome in another. I suspect that my private e-mails, made public, could undo me in a quick minute.

We affirm a right to privacy, yet privacy is largely an illusion. As Sproul rightly if unwisely pontificated, we hide nothing from God. Ironically, the Internet, in becoming such a powerful force in our lives, illustrates this—albeit as a mere idol. If you took the sum total of everything the Internet knows about any one user—search history, website memberships, financial data, e-mail archive—you might well be able to conjure up a reasonable facsimile for Who You Really Are, secrets and all.

Read it all.

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Posted September 16, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A campaign has been launched calling for a ban on the development of robots that can be used for sex.

Such a use of the technology is unnecessary and undesirable, said campaign leader Dr Kathleen Richardson.

Sex dolls already on the market are becoming more sophisticated and some are now hoping to build artificial intelligence into their products.

Those working in the field say that there is a need for such robots.

Read it all.

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Posted September 15, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We’ve built computers that can outplay the finest chess grandmasters in the world, virtual personal assistants that can schedule tasks and control our homes, and algorithms that can predict with increasing accuracy what we’ll want to watch, read, or listen to next.

But true artificial intelligence – a computer that can solve a wide range of problems through reason, planning, abstraction, and learning – hasn’t come about yet. There are machines that are better than humans at specific tasks, but no machine that’s as good as or better than a human at thinking.

We’re getting close to that point, though, Google chairman Eric Schmidt argued in an op-ed for the BBC on Saturday. Mr. Schmidt says artificial intelligence (AI) research has been steadily building since the term was first coined in 1955, and that scientists have made a few big breakthroughs in the past several years.

Read it all.

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Posted September 15, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(Be forewarned--gruesome subject--KSH).

The 29-year-old said others forced her to sell sex for money from age 10 until 17, while she was in the foster care system. She recounted beatings, starvation, forced cocaine and heroin use and seeing the disappearance of other girls who stepped out of line with their traffickers.

The experience left her hooked on crack cocaine and dependent on turning tricks to feed her habit. Yet she still refers to herself as “one of the lucky ones.”

“I was caught and pulled out,” she said. “If it wasn't for an officer here, I think I'd be dead today.”

This is the dark reality of sex trafficking in the Holy City and across South Carolina. Vulnerable children and young adults are forced to sell their bodies and held against their will, deprived of food and sleep and sometimes beaten until they meet a quota of men to service.

Read it all from the local paper.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireSexualityViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Economists at Citigroup argue in a new report that a global recession is now "the most likely outcome" over the next two years.

What exactly do they mean by a global recession?

They point out:

We use the only definition of a recession we know that makes sense when it is used consistently. As stated earlier, we define a recession as a period during which the actual unemployment rate is above the natural unemployment rate or Nairu, or during which there is a negative output gap: the level of actual real GDP is below the level of potential real GDP.

To avoid excessive attention to mini-recessions, the period of excess capacity should have a duration of a year or longer.

Read it all.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Courtney] Holmes tries to encourage the kids to do more than just read and sound out words —he wants them to understand and learn from the books.

"Their memory is being challenged," he said. At the end of each hair cut he asks, "What is this book about?"

"Trims 4 Tales" also sends each child home with a bag of books, encouraging them to keep reading until their next visit — which Holmes hopes will be very soon.

"The joy on their face — it makes me feel like a million bucks just to see that," he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksChildrenMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 3, 2015 at 4:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A new chemical plant is being built in the small African-American town of Mossville in southwest Louisiana, raising significant concerns about health, safety, and environmental impact. The plant’s owner has offered to pay Mossville residents to move out of their homes and sell their churches. The company says it is being generous, but some longtime residents and religious leaders feel they are being forced out. “The church is the hub of the community, as far as relationships and as far as love and caring for one another,” says LaSalle Clarence Williams Sr., chairman of the deacon board at Mount Zion Baptist Church, Mossville’s oldest house of worship.

Read it all.

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Posted September 3, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are at least three reasons why China’s growth might suffer a discontinuity: the current pattern is unsustainable; the debt overhang is large; and dealing with these challenges creates the risks of a sharp collapse in demand.

The most important fact about China’s current pattern of growth is its dependence on investment as a source of supply and demand (see charts). Since 2011 additional capital has been the sole source of extra output, with the contribution of growth of “total factor productivity” (measuring the change in output per unit of inputs) near zero. Moreover, the incremental capital output ratio, a measure of the contribution of investment to growth, has soared as returns on investment have tumbled.

The International Monetary Fund argues: “Without reforms, growth would gradually fall to around 5 per cent with steeply increasing debt.” But such a path would be unsustainable, not least because debts are already at such a high level. Thus “total social financing” — a broad credit measure — jumped from 120 per cent of GDP in 2008 to 193 per cent in 2014. The government can manage this overhang. But it must not let the build-up restart. The credit-dependent part of investment has to shrink.

Read it all.

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Posted September 1, 2015 at 5:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The matinee crowd was anything but typical, as the New York Yankees paid a visit to The Prospector Theater to recognize one theater's incredible off-screen mission.

Watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologySportsTeens / Youth* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 19, 2015 at 9:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are important reasons why it is a gigantic misstep for Amnesty to advocate for the decriminalization of sex buyers. First, the empirical evidence of potential benefits from making it permissible to purchase sex is weak while the costs may be enormous. New Zealand decriminalized prostitution in 2003 and yet the country’s Prostitution Law Review Committee found in its evaluation that a majority of prostituted persons felt that the decriminalization act “could do little about violence [in prostitution].” At the same time, several studies have found that countries where buying sex is decriminalized, sex trafficking is more prevalent.

Second, decriminalizing buying sex seems to be at odds with Amnesty’s core objectives. One of the reasons that there are so many of us who have strongly supported Amnesty for years is the organization’s steadfast commitment to the fundamental rights of individuals, whether they are refugees, prisoners of conscience, or victims of torture. But buying sex is not a human right.

Instead of adopting a harmful proposal, Amnesty should have learned from Sweden’s prostitution policies. In 1999, Sweden made it illegal to buy sexual services, but not to sell them – an approach that is now often called “the Swedish model.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesSexuality* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeSweden

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Posted August 16, 2015 at 2:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sheffield Money will vet companies offering loans of up to £7,500, credit for white goods, savings and bank accounts and provide independent money and debt advice.
It is backed by the Church of England, which is setting up its own credit union, business leaders and companies such as Frees, which offers basic bank accounts to people with poor credit history.
Rev Peter Bradley, dean of Sheffield cathedral and chairman of Sheffield Money, said: “Sheffield Money is a bold and innovative solution to the problem of high-cost credit in our city.
“More people are struggling to make ends meet and for many, trapped in a cycle of borrowing more to cover extortionate loan repayments, this becomes a living nightmare.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 11, 2015 at 6:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Amnesty International has adopted a controversial policy of pressing for the sex trade to be decriminalised, despite warnings from prostitutes and campaigners and protests joined by Hollywood actresses.
Legalising the buying and selling of sex, as well as other parts of the industry such as brothel-keeping, was the best way to protect sex workers, the charity said yesterday.
The decision came after days of debate by 500 delegates at its international council meeting in Dublin.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesMenSexualityWomen* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 11, 2015 at 5:52 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Gallup's Economic Confidence Index is the average of two components: how Americans rate the current economy and whether they feel the economy is "getting better" or "getting worse." The index's theoretical maximum is +100, if all Americans rated the economy as positive and improving, while the theoretical minimum is -100, if all Americans rated the economy as negative and getting worse.

Both components were level for the week ending Aug. 9. The current conditions component averaged -6, the result of 24% of Americans rating the economy as "excellent" or "good," while 30% rated it "poor." The economic outlook component averaged -18, as 39% of Americans said the economy is getting better while 57% said it is getting worse.

Read it all.

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Posted August 11, 2015 at 4:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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