Posted by Kendall Harmon

A British jihadist who was a leading recruiter for Isis is believed to have been killed by a new clandestine drone programme designed to take out high-value targets in Syria.

Junaid Hussain, 21, from Birmingham, died when a drone hit the Isis-held city of Raqqa on Tuesday. He was third on an American list of Isis targets and is said to have played a key role as an instigator of lone-wolf attacks in Britain, Europe and the US.

He was jailed for six months in 2012 over a computer hack that gained access to Tony Blair’s address book.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastSyria

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Posted September 2, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...once society generally accepts the dark premise that killing is an acceptable way to end suffering–we haven’t yet–there is no way to effectively constrain euthanasia inflation.

This isn’t a “slippery slope” argument but determinable from facts on the ground. Thus, in addition to the physically ill and dying, doctors in Belgium and the Netherlands kill the mentally ill, the healthy elderly “tired of life,” and in Belgium, even engage in joint killings of married couples that fear widowhood and/or dependency.

Switzerland’s legal suicide clinics have facilitated the deaths of people who are not sick for existential reasons. Recently, an elderly Italian woman received assisted suicide because she was in despair over her loss of beauty. The first her family knew that she was dead was when the suicide clinic mailed the family her ashes.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 2, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The American Medical Association remains opposed to physician assistance in dying; the California Medical Association has moved from opposition to neutrality. Litigation has been unsuccessful in seeking judicial affirmation of a right that California’s legislature should establish. Legislation to do this has been authored by Assemblywoman Susan Eggman, chair of the Democratic caucus.

There are reasons for wariness. An illness’s six-month trajectory can be uncertain. A right to die can become a felt obligation, particularly among bewildered persons tangled in the toils of medical technologies, or persons with meager family resources. And as a reason for ending life, mental suffering itself calls into question the existence of the requisite decisional competence.

Today’s culture of casual death (see the Planned Parenthood videos) should deepen worries about a slippery slope from physician-assisted dying to a further diminution of life’s sanctity. Life, however, is inevitably lived on multiple slippery slopes: Taxation could become confiscation, police could become instruments of oppression, public education could become indoctrination, etc. Everywhere and always, civilization depends on the drawing of intelligent distinctions.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 2, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Within the space of a couple of decades, a robot may be writing this article. It will probably be delivering your post. And if it isn’t driving your car, you’ll need to get with the times.

In the last half a decade, artificial intelligence (AI) has moved from a pipedream, or the domain of science fiction, to a reality that is certain to have a profound impact on our lives.

Not only is AI certain to make millions of jobs that exist today obsolete, it will also force us to ask major questions, about privacy, laws and ethics.

Read it all.

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

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Posted September 2, 2015 at 5:00 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.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 1, 2015 at 4:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In less than two years we will have a referendum on our place in Europe. There will be passionate arguments on both sides.

POverlaid Flagseople will say that we should not take the risk of leaving, others that it is less of a risk than staying. There will be talk of national sovereignty, of national confidence, of repatriation of laws, or being bound by European laws over which we have no control. The only certainty is that there will be much heat, probably slightly less light, but that it is a hugely important decision, with thoughtful and committed people, including Christians, on both sides.

But what about those in the UK for whom our membership, or withdrawal, from the Union, is not a major question, those for whom the needs and responsibilities of each day take precedence, and mention of political debates such as this leave them cold?

This new blog is a contribution to the debate. It is a joint initiative between the Church of England and the Church of Scotland...

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The worldwide Anglican Communion’s fifth Mark of Mission calls us “to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth.” Canadian Anglicans are especially conscious of our obligations as caretakers of (in the words of one of our eucharistic prayers) “this fragile earth, our island home.” We are now reminded of it when we renew our baptismal vows. The recent meeting of the Sacred Circle further called to mind the special relationship Indigenous people have with the land, and the often damaging effect settlers continue to have.

I therefore invite all members of the Anglican Church of Canada to join with me on September 1 and pray in an especially intentional way for the integrity of God’s creation, and for the will and the means to confront and resolve the ecological crisis our planet is facing.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural Resources* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As a reader, I expected that Putnam would exhort me to tutor, attend a diverse church, babysit for a single mom, move to a poorer neighborhood—to take action. After all, his fond memories of Port Clinton emphasize its warm social cohesion. Perhaps Putnam assumed the exhortation to personal action was obvious, and omitted it. If so, he missed an opportunity to turn theoretical discussions of inequality into a non-political social movement toward renewed community.

Putnam’s proposals for government transfers, better-paid teachers, and free sports teams may represent helpful stepping stones to children who are socially secure and were raised in a stable, disciplined home, as his poor classmates were. But the children of Our Kids demonstrate painfully that outside influences are too little, too late for those from broken homes.

In 1959, eight out of eight poor parents in Our Kids had been present throughout their children's lives.* In 2015, that was true of two out of twelve. Putnam does not have a plan that will help the kids whose parents have fled.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationHistoryMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinancePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Cities across the nation are seeing a startling rise in murders after years of declines, and few places have witnessed a shift as precipitous as this city. With the summer not yet over, 104 people have been killed this year — after 86 homicides in all of 2014.

More than 30 other cities have also reported increases in violence from a year ago. In New Orleans, 120 people had been killed by late August, compared with 98 during the same period a year earlier. In Baltimore, homicides had hit 215, up from 138 at the same point in 2014. In Washington, the toll was 105, compared with 73 people a year ago. And in St. Louis, 136 people had been killed this year, a 60 percent rise from the 85 murders the city had by the same time last year.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 1, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Boko Haram is trying to expand its activities beyond Nigeria's mainly Muslim north, to include the commercial capital Lagos, as well as other parts of the country, officials say.

Nigeria's intelligence agency says 12 members of the Islamist militant group have been arrested in Lagos since July.

It is not possible to independently verify details of the statement.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by The_Elves

In Canada, now a major oil producer from Alberta’s tar sands, polls are jumping about nervously, as Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper seemed up in April, then down in July. Harper has been in power since 2006, so “regime fatigue” is judged to be a large factor in the public’s ambivalence toward him. The fall in the price of the commodity that accounts for a quarter of the country’s export revenue and nearly 10 percent of its GDP is not his fault — but it’s happened on his watch. This will only aggravate the fatigue. Elections are in October; a credible critique of Harper’s economic policy at a time of falling revenues could tip it for the opposition.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari doesn’t have to face an election soon — he just won one. But like other leaders from oil-producing nations, he does have to cope with a price slump in the commodity, which comprises 80 percent of the government’s revenue. It has meant civil servants in most states are owed months of pay; capital projects have been frozen; and an already restive and divided country shows more signs of revolt.

The turmoil is felt by countries throughout the Middle East — by those desperately reliant on oil revenue (Iraq, Syria and Libya) and those with vast riches (Saudi Arabia).

And yet the Russian Federation, and Scotland buck this trend. Their leaders are the Teflon Kids of the oil slump: Hit by sliding prices but not public scorn.

Read it all

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural Resources

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Posted August 31, 2015 at 12:07 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Terrorism is a multifaceted problem, so the solutions should address the political, economic, social and religious layers. Approaches that reduce the problem to religion do a disservice to at-risk youth and the world at large. The international community would do well to realize that Muslims are the primary victims of terrorism—both literally and symbolically—and they can help marginalize terrorists and prevent recruitment. That’s why governments should avoid statements and actions that result in the alienation of Muslims.

Violent extremism has no religion; there will always be people who manipulate faith texts. Just as Christians do not endorse Quran burnings or the actions of the Ku Klux Klan, and Buddhists do not endorse atrocities against Rohingya Muslims, mainstream Muslims do not endorse violence.

Muslims have historically added much to the flourishing of human civilization. Our greatest contributions were made in eras when the faith cherished mutual respect, freedom and justice. It may be immensely difficult to restore the blotted image of Islam, but Muslims can be beacons of peace and tranquility in their societies.

Read it all.

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

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Posted August 31, 2015 at 6:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

It wants videos with "reasonable messages, better messages" to drown out extremism, and is recruiting Muslims to make them. But will it work?
On a Thursday night late last fall, after leaving the Manhattan office where he works as a digital products specialist, Aman Ali -- a well-known comedian in American Muslim circles -- received an unusual email from YouTube.

“We need you,” read the note, which invited Ali to the company’s sprawling, 41,000-square-foot production facility in Los Angeles and promised a free flight and two nights in a hotel. “Muslim community leaders [are] struggling to have their voices heard against the overwhelming extremist and bigoted content currently surfacing the web.”

The words “Islamic State” appeared nowhere in the note asking Muslims like Ali to “change the discourse,” but the message was clear. The terrorist organization's vast media arm, with its slick recruitment videos, was winning the propaganda war. Muslims needed to figure out a way to fight back and “get your voices heard.”

Read it all

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsTerrorism

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Posted August 28, 2015 at 8:07 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A new report suggesting that marriage is “alive and well” among the rich, but not the poor, is evidence that the “liberal elite” are hypocrites, a researcher said this week.

“It’s very striking that the liberal elite will happily tell everyone that it does not matter if you marry or not, yet nearly 90 per cent, even today, get married if they have children,” Harry Benson, research director at the Marriage Foundation, said on Tuesday.

“They talk a good liberal story, but act in very conservative ways for themselves. . . These modern-day Pharisees tell us how to live our lives, but live their own lives in a completely different way.”

The report from the Marriage Foundation, The Marriage Gap, looks at mothers with children under the age of five. In 2012, 87 per cent of mothers with an annual household income of above £45,000 were married.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSociology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 28, 2015 at 7:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Watch it all--wonderful stuff.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural Resources* General InterestPhotos/Photography

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Posted August 25, 2015 at 6:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Religious freedom in America is under threat, and the battle is already in progress. For the most part, the burden of the struggle has been borne by Christians. America’s Jews, living safely behind the front lines, have paid little heed. But that safety is likely to be ephemeral. If freedom falls for those now fighting for their religious rights, it can fall for all, prominently including a community characterized by its attachment to an ancient and traditional moral code and defining ritual practices.

The threat emanates from a classic question: what is the proper relationship between church and state? The tension is as old as recorded history. It appears in the Epic of Gilgamesh and throughout Greek mythology. Some societies, from the pharaohs of ancient Egypt to Japan’s chrysanthemum throne, imbued their rulers with divinity. In Christendom, western kings answered to the pope while eastern churches supported the emperor. In Islam, the caliph held titles of both temporal and spiritual authority. England maintains an established church still today, while France severed its formal ties to Catholicism more than a century ago. In Jewish tradition, the Second Temple period was replete with conflicts between royals and priests—hence the rabbinic reluctance to embrace the Hasmoneans, priestly usurpers to the throne whose victories are celebrated annually by today’s Jews at Ḥanukkah. In modern-day Israel, selected areas of civil governance have been relegated entirely to religious authorities.

The U.S. Constitution, steeped in classical liberalism, attempted a novel—and ingenious—resolution. It combined the absence of an official, “established” religion with the individual’s freedom to choose and follow his faith.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchEducationHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism

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Posted August 25, 2015 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) militants have destroyed a historic monastery seized in their latest advance across central Syria.

Photographs appeared online of fighters from Isil with bulldozers at the Mar Elian monastery in Al-Qaryatain, in Homs province.

The monitoring group Syrian Observatory of Human Rights said the Catholic monastery was then destroyed "on the pretext that it was used for worshipping others than God".
.....
Isil took Al-Qaryatain and the monastery on August 5, kidnapping an estimated 230 people, including Christians. Some of the older captives have been released, but at least 100 people have been taken as hostages to the de facto Isil capital of Raqqa further to the north.

Read it all

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsTerrorism

4 Comments
Posted August 24, 2015 at 12:53 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Islamic State militants on Sunday blew up the temple of Baal Shamin, one of the most important sites in Syria's ancient city of Palmyra, said Maamoun Abdul Karim, the country's antiquities chief.

The temple bombing would be the first time the insurgents, who control swathes of Syria and Iraq and captured Palmyra in May, damaged monumental Roman-era ruins.

"We have said repeatedly the next phase would be one of terrorizing people and when they have time they will begin destroying temples," Abdul Karim told Reuters.

"I am seeing Palmyra being destroyed in front of my eyes," he added. "God help us in the days to come."

A week ago, the militants beheaded Khaled Asaad, an 82-year-old scholar who worked for more than 50 years as head of antiquities in Palmyra, after detaining and interrogating him for over a month.

Read it all

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsTerrorism

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Posted August 24, 2015 at 12:37 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

French President Francois Hollande on Monday awarded France's highest honor, the Legion d'honneur, to three U.S. citizens and a Briton who helped disarm a machine gun-toting suspected Islamist militant on a train last week.

"Faced with the evil called terrorism there is a good, that's humanity. You are the incarnation of that," Hollande told the four men.

Read it all and there is more here

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsTerrorism

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Posted August 24, 2015 at 12:24 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Stone was cut by the attacker behind his neck, and his thumb was nearly sliced off as the man was wrestled to the ground by the Americans. Sadler said: "The gunman pulls out a box cutter and slices Spencer a few times." He added that the attacker "never said a word."

To Americans who remember Sept. 11, 2001, this kind of response — even down to the “let’s go” — echoes the story of Todd Beamer and the passengers of Flight 93. It’s the right response, of course, to terrorists who threaten innocents.

As Brad Todd wrote days after 9/11, it was the response of ordinary Americans on this flight that meant a repeat of the attacks was much less likely: “Just 109 minutes after a new form of terrorism — the most deadly yet invented — came into use, it was rendered, if not obsolete, at least decidedly less effective. ... United Flight 93 did not hit a building. It did not kill anyone on the ground. ... Why? Because it had informed Americans on board who'd had 109 minutes to come up with a counteraction. And the next time a hijacker full of hate pulls the same stunt with a single knife, he'll get the same treatment and meet the same result as those on United Flight 93. Dead, yes. Murderous, yes. But successful? No.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.EuropeFrance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 24, 2015 at 10:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...Grainy security camera footage showed Khadiza and her two 15-year-old friends, Shamima Begum and Amira Abase, calmly passing through security at Gatwick Airport for Turkish Airlines Flight 1966 to Istanbul and later boarding a bus to the Syrian border.

“Only when I saw that video I understood,” Ms. Khanom said.

These images turned the three Bethnal Green girls, as they have become known, into the face of a new, troubling phenomenon: young women attracted to what experts like Sasha Havlicek, a co-founder and the chief executive of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, call a jihadi, girl-power subculture.

An estimated 4,000 Westerners have traveled to Syria and Iraq, more than 550 of them women and girls, to join the Islamic State, according to a recent report by the institute, which helps manage the largest database of female travelers to the region.

The men tend to become fighters much like previous generations of jihadists seeking out battlefields in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. But less is known about the Western women of the Islamic State. Barred from combat, they support the group’s state-building efforts as wives, mothers, recruiters and sometimes online cheerleaders of violence.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenGlobalizationMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureTeens / Youth* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeTurkeyMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted August 21, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There was a miserable stint in the Army, mercifully shortened by a psychiatrist who thought I had no business being a soldier. There were a couple of romantic relationships with married women. Casting about for something to do, I eventually settled on studying journalism at San Francisco State University.

That’s where I found Islam. A friend introduced me to the Qur’an, and I was entranced by its words, which speak of a God who cares a great deal about the men and women he created. But it was also the people: the Palestinian and African American Muslims who first taught me what it meant to surrender. They welcomed me as no one else had before.

Some people look to faith for ideas of right and wrong, or some understanding of good and evil, or a set of principles with which to order the world. Not me. What I sought, what I ached for, was meaning and belonging. And Islam gave me both.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristologySoteriology

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Posted August 21, 2015 at 5:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Army created the Human Terrain System — at the height of the counterinsurgency craze that dominated American strategic thinking in Iraq and Afghanistan late in the last decade, with much fanfare — to solve this problem. Cultural training and deep, nuanced understanding of Afghan politics and history were in short supply in the Army; without them, good intelligence was hard to come by, and effective policy making was nearly impossible. Human Terrain Teams, as Human Terrain System units were known, were supposed to include people with social-science backgrounds, language skills and an understanding of Afghan or Iraqi culture, as well as veterans and reservists who would help bind the civilians to their assigned military units.

On that winter day in Zormat, however, just how far the Human Terrain System had fallen short of expectations was clear. Neither of the social scientists on the patrol that morning had spent time in Afghanistan before being deployed there. While one was reasonably qualified, the other was a pleasant 43-year-old woman who grew up in Indiana and Tennessee, and whose highest academic credential was an advanced degree in organizational management she received online. She had confided to me that she didn’t feel comfortable carrying a gun she was still learning how to use. Before arriving in Afghanistan, she had traveled outside the United States only once, to Jamaica — “and this ain’t Jamaica,” she told me.

She was out of her depth, but at least she tried to be professional.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistanMiddle EastIraq* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 20, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

No looking, networking, googling or anything else--guess first before you look.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

11 Comments
Posted August 19, 2015 at 11:11 am [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

0 Comments
Posted August 19, 2015 at 8:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has failed to sign a peace deal in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, aimed at ending the civil war in his country.
The government has initialled a draft agreement, but requested a further 15 days before signing in full.
International sanctions had been threatened by mediators if both sides failed to reach an agreement on Monday 17 August.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Ireland* Culture-WatchPovertyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--North Sudan--South Sudan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 18, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It would be hard to imagine a story much more hellish than the lengthy New York Times piece that is racing around the Internet today that ran under this blunt headline: "ISIS Enshrines a Theology of Rape."

However, it is the second piece of the double-decker headline that will be the most controversial and discussed part of this piece: "Claiming the Quran’s support, the Islamic State codifies sex slavery in conquered regions of Iraq and Syria and uses the practice as a recruiting tool."

The bottom line: To make that statement, the Times team needs to show readers specific references in the Quran, by quoting them, and then show proof of how ISIS leaders are interpreting those passages, perhaps through a lens from earlier expressions of the faith. It would then help, of course, to show how mainstream Islamic scholars, and experts outside of Islam, read those same passages today.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMediaReligion & CultureSexualityViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

1 Comments
Posted August 17, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Obama administration just announced a 40,000 reduction in the Army’s ranks. But the numbers don’t begin to tell the tale. Soldiers stay in the Army because they love to go into the field and train; Defense Secretary Ashton Carter recently said that the Army will not have enough money for most soldiers to train above the squad level this year. Soldiers need to fight with new weapons; in the past four years, the Army has canceled 20 major programs, postponed 125 and restructured 124. The Army will not replace its Reagan-era tanks, infantry carriers, artillery and aircraft for at least a generation. Soldiers stay in the ranks because they serve in a unit ready for combat; fewer than a third of the Army’s combat brigades are combat ready. And this initial 40,000 soldier reduction is just a start. Most estimates from Congress anticipate that without lifting the budget sequestration that is driving this across-the-board decline, another 40,000 troops will be gone in about two years.

But it’s soldiers who tell the story. After 13 years of war, young leaders are voting with their feet again. As sergeants and young officers depart, the institution is breaking for a third time in my lifetime. The personal tragedies that attended the collapse of a soldier’s spirit in past wars are with us again. Suicide, family abuse, alcohol and drug abuse are becoming increasingly more common.

To be sure, the nation always reduces its military as wars wind down. Other services suffer reductions and shortages. But only the Army breaks. Someone please tell those of us who served why the service that does virtually all the dying and killing in war is the one least rewarded.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted August 16, 2015 at 2:00 pm [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 1:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Pennsylvania pastor who’s the key suspect in a global insider-trading scheme must remain in custody while being sent to New York for a bail hearing.
A judge in Philadelphia, whose decision on Tuesday to free Vitaly Korchevsky on $100,000 bail was blocked by a judge in Brooklyn, ordered the pastor temporarily detained while he’s transported by U.S. Marshals to the New York borough for the hearing.
Korchevsky made no comments Friday in court in Philadelphia. He whispered to his wife and brother-in-law across the courtroom. Bob Levant, one of his attorneys, said the father of two is the “centerpiece” of a close-knit Ukrainian community in the Glen Mills area.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetLaw & Legal IssuesMediaScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock Market* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 16, 2015 at 12:39 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Veterans of World War Two have taken part in events to mark the 70th anniversary of VJ Day, when Japan surrendered and the war ended.
A memorial event was held at Horse Guards Parade, attended by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.
And the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh joined the PM and former prisoners of war at a remembrance service at St Martin-in-the-Fields church in London.
David Cameron said it was important to "honour the memory of those that died".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted August 15, 2015 at 3:41 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Defense Department is taking another look at the military prison in Kansas and the Navy Brig in South Carolina as it evaluates potential U.S. facilities to house detainees from the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, part of the Obama administration’s controversial push to close the detention center.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said a team was surveying the Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth on Friday and will do a similar assessment at the Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston later this month.

Davis said the team will assess the costs associated with construction and other changes that would be needed in order to use the facility to house the detainees as well as conduct military commission trials for those accused of war crimes.

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-N. Charleston, immediately blasted the idea of sending the Gitmo prisoners to the Palmetto State.

Read it all from AP.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPrison/Prison Ministry* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. intelligence agencies have evidence indicating Islamic State used mustard agent against Kurdish forces for the first time at least two weeks ago in fighting in Syria, a tactic that the group may have repeated in two subsequent attacks in Iraq, U.S. officials said Friday.

The developments are fueling concerns that Islamic State has acquired a crude arsenal of banned chemicals that could herald a significant escalation of fighting in the region.

“It could be a pattern,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on the intelligence.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 15, 2015 at 8:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

She was a cheerleader, an honor student, the daughter of a police officer and a member of the high school homecoming court who wanted to be a doctor.

He was a quiet but easygoing psychology student. His father is a well-known Muslim patriarch here, whose personable mien and habit of sharing food with friends and strangers made him seem like a walking advertisement for Islam as a religion of tolerance and peace.

Today, the young woman, Jaelyn Young, 19, and the young man, her fiancé, Muhammad Dakhlalla, 22, are in federal custody, arrested on suspicion of trying to travel from Mississippi to Syria to join the ranks of the Islamic State.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingPsychologyReligion & CultureViolenceYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted August 14, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The recent Supreme Court decision which asserted that the right to marry is a constitutional right, including for same sex couples, has raised prompted some commentators to question whether the same could be said of polygamy. Polygamy has long been prohibited and rarely practised in the United States, but at least the practise is quite common in many parts of the Islamic world and sub-Saharan Africa. What is increasingly common in the United States, however, are various forms of 'polyamory', where people have multiple sexual and romantic partners with the full knowledge of their partners.

YouGov's research shows that most Americans (56%) reject the idea that polyamory is somehow morally acceptable, though one quarter of the country does think that polyamorous relationships are morally acceptable. Polygamy, that is marriage between more than two people, is even less acceptable, with 69% saying that polygamy is immoral and only 14% believing that it is morally acceptable.

Attitudes towards polyamory depend significantly on how religious someone is. 80% of people who say that religion is 'very important' in their lives say that polyamory is wrong, but among people for whom religion is 'not at all important' 58% say that polyamory is morally acceptable.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--PolyamorySociology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 14, 2015 at 3:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, has congratulated the Prime Minister and the Coalition for backing a plebiscite on same-sex marriage.

“I believe that marriage is a foundational concept to our society and indeed to human civilisation as a whole, in accordance with God's own plan for all people, and it is intrinsic to the continuation of the human race as the bedrock of the family from which succeeding generations are born.”

“Despite the relentless campaign by some sections of the community, it is only now that other views are starting to be heard in the media, not only from the churches. T

a href="http://sydneyanglicans.net/mediareleases/archbishop-backs-plebiscite-plan">Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyRural/Town LifeSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 14, 2015 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The white Christians I know who care deeply about solving our nation’s racial injustices are those who are embedded in communities with black and Hispanic and Asian Christians. They care not just about issues but about people they love as their brothers and sisters in Christ.

Where we see churches that expand beyond the sameness of ethnicity or economic status, we see people who are willing to stand up for one another in the public square, because they’ve learned to love one another at the family table.

The answer to racial injustice is precisely the way the Hebrew prophets once framed the answer to all social evil. It means working for courts and systems that are fair and impartial. But it doesn’t stop with policies and structures. It must also include people who are transformed, not just by greater social awareness, but also by consciences that are formed by something other than our backgrounds. For that, we need more than national conversations and policy proposals (as important as those are).

We need, nationally, what Abraham Lincoln called “a new birth of freedom.” But we also need, personally, a new birth.

Read it all.

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

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Posted August 14, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the Episcopal Church we believe in the continuing revelation of God. The Holy Spirit did not retire to Florida after the Bible was written or the Creeds promulgated. The Holy Spirit continues to teach us. I believe that the Holy Spirit has been expanding our consciousness about the dignity and equality of our gay brothers and sisters. That consciousness might well have been developed in society before it was developed in the Church, and now the Church is catching up to the Holy Spirit. The Church is catching up to the broader society.

As to the election of Michael Curry as Presiding Bishop, he was chosen (the first time anyone has been elected on the first ballot) not because he is African-American but because in an outstanding field of four candidates, he is the best person to lead us now. Michael is an inspired preacher and brilliant organizer who passionately invites all to join the "Jesus Movement" - to change the nightmare this world so often is for so many into the dream God has for it.

Although he was not chosen because he is African-American, I do find it holy and good that an African-American was chosen at this time of tremendous racial tension in our country. Our country has a history of racism embedded within it that we have never really faced. Could this be the time to have an honest discussion about that history and move forward as a New Creation?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention TEC Bishops* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted August 14, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jeremy Timm, a Reader, has described the “tears and soul-searching” that he endured before deciding to convert his civil partnership to marriage, knowing that this would result in the loss of his permission to officiate (PTO).

Mr Timm, a Reader in the Howden Team Ministry in Hull, was told by the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, last month, that his PTO would be revoked if he pursued his intention to convert his partnership with Mike Brown.

Writing on the website of Changing Attitude, Mr Timm described being “placed in an impossible situation by the Church of England . . . faced with choosing between marriage or ministry”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsArchbishop of York John Sentamu* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Laity* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 14, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Recently]..there have been two poignant reminders of the prevalence of that attitude, where the advancing years are regarded as a cause for apprehension and fear.
The first was the death of Cilla Black at the comparatively young age of 72.
Although she had problems with her hearing and suffered from arthritis, she was — so far as we know — in reasonable health. But psychologically, she appeared to have been preparing for the end, explaining in interviews last year that she ‘did not want to live longer than 75’.

In this rather bleak outlook, she seems to have been heavily influenced by the experience of her mother, who lived until she was 84 but suffered a good deal in her final years.
The second episode to highlight this fear of old age was the sad case of retired nurse Gill Pharaoh, who recently took her own life at a Swiss assisted suicide clinic, despite the fact she was only 75 and had no serious health issues.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 14, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The demolition of St. Martin’s Anglican Church is now a done deal as the North Peace Savings and Credit Union moves forward with plans for of a new three story administrative centre at the location.

Negotiations for purchase of a portion of the site, adjacent to the existing credit union building on 100th Street, began back in 2013 and the demolition followed the removal of hazardous materials.

Read it all. You can read about the final worship service there and you can find the location here.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market* International News & CommentaryCanada

1 Comments
Posted August 13, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

According to Zillow, renters spent 30.2% of income on rent in Q2, the highest percentage since as far back as the data go (1979).

In comparison, the average between 1995 and 2000 was just over 24%.Los Angeles is tops for unaffordability at 49%, with San Francisco not far behind at 47%. In NYC, renters historically have paid about 25% of income for rent, but that has gone up to 41%. Known for being more affordable than other major cities, the luxury condo market has transformed Miami, and renters there now pay 44.5%.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 13, 2015 at 4:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The BBC's John McManus says Archbishop [Josiah] Idowu-Fearon, who is the new secretary-general of the Anglican Communion, has a strong reputation for promoting dialogue between Christians and Muslims.
But the archbishop told our correspondent that efforts to maintain unity were undermined by some fellow Christians who failed to engage with their Muslim counterparts.
"We warned the leadership in my country, the Christian Association of Nigeria: 'Let us listen to the Muslim leadership, because the leadership is not in support of Boko Haram.'
"'Oh no no no,' they said, 'they are always deceiving us. They are all the same,'" he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 13, 2015 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was a formal church setting with nine area Christian leaders present, but no formal sermons were given or messages with the Bible cracked open to a particular passage.

Instead, the clergy spoke off the cuff in a Christian “conversation” Wednesday night on issues of faith and belief.

And that led them into some areas of modern-day debate and concern, such as marriage equality, race and the church’s relevance in a digital age.

“We’ll be having a great debate next April about same-sex marriage and transgender (issues),” said the Rev. Terry Walton, senior pastor at Gainesville First United Methodist Church, at “Christianity Beyond the Catchphrases,” held at Grace Episcopal Church in Gainesville.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & TechnologySexuality* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsLutheranMethodistPresbyterian* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted August 13, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Perhaps John Rhys-Davies was channeling Gimli, his character from The Lord of the Rings' trilogy, because the Welsh actor delivered a soliloquy late Monday about good and evil and even warned of the end of days courtesy of radical Islamic terrorism and political correctness.

"There is an extraordinary silence in the West," said Rhys-Davies on Adam Carolla's podcast posted Monday night. "Basically, Christianity in the Middle East and in Africa is being wiped out — I mean not just ideologically but physically, and people are being enslaved and killed because they are Christians. And your country and my country are doing nothing about it...."

"This is a unique age. We don't want to be judgmental," said Rhys-Davies, who's also known for his role in the Indiana Jones franchise. "Every other age that has come before us has believed exactly the opposite. I mean, T.S. Eliot referred to 'the common pursuit of true judgment.' Yes. That's what it's about. Getting our judgments right."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMediaReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted August 13, 2015 at 7:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The recruiting ground for Islamic extremism looks vastly different for western Muslims and Muslims living in the Middle East.

The traditional picture of the Australian recruit is of a young man, poorly educated in his faith. But a visiting Middle East expert says that in Muslim nations recruits are increasingly well-educated professionals who are deeply frustrated by a lack of opportunity.

Professor Hamdy Hassan is a faithful Muslim, the son of a Sheikh, and political scientist at the University of Cairo and Zayed University in Dubai. He's a Visiting Fellow at Deakin University, Victoria, and is sponsored by the Council of Australia Arab Relations

Listen to it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The news is the most powerful and prestigious force in contemporary society, replacing religion as the touchstone of authority and meaning. It is usually the first thing we check in the morning and the last thing we consult at night. What are we searching for?

The news does its best to persuade us we must keep up with its agenda - but to what end? What are the ghastly, wondrous, thrilling, destructive, bitter stories for?

It would be most honest to admit that we don't yet know: we're still working it out collectively. We're still among the first generations ever to have had access to news on the current scale and we're struggling to make sense of the deluge of information.

One thing is for sure: we don't yet have the news we deserve.

Read it all from ABC Australia.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingHistoryMediaPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Close to 4 million Kenyans consume illegal alcoholic brews, found a 2013 survey by the National Authority for the Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse. The biggest challenge is corruption among government officials, said the agency’s John Mututho.

Some clergy have been joining community members to seek out and storm the makeshift breweries — many just drums or pots hidden in forests, private residences or buried near riverbeds.

“We commend the steps taken by the president. As clergy, we do not encourage drinking,” said Anglican Bishop Julius Kalu of Mombasa. “We urge more steps to ensure those addicted are rehabilitated.”

Kyalo agrees. The president, he said, “took bold steps, but he has to address the root cause of the problem. This is deeply rooted, where people are poor. He must deal with poverty, which is increasing.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Kenya* Culture-WatchAlcohol/DrinkingAlcoholismReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaKenya* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 13, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Daily Express and the Sun both carried critical front pages of the BBC programme’s decision to film in the church, which they claimed was a waste of licence fee money and a highly politicised gesture.

Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, made it clear in a tweet that he fully supported the programme, as well as retweeting a positive piece from the influential Anglican blog, Archbishop Cranmer.

“What do they think the church is for? It is for the poor and the vulnerable, it is to voice things that others cannot voice,” [Bishop] Baines told the Guardian. “Everyone else seems to be allowed to be political apart from the church.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 13, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion on Tuesday asked President Muhammadu Buhari to order the closure of schools opened without compliance to due process in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

This was contained in an open letter signed by the Bishop, Diocese of Kubwa, Anglican Communion, Abuja, Rt. Rev. Duke T. Akamisoko, and addressed to President Buhari, a copy of which was obtained by this reporter in Abuja.

The clergyman, who is also an educationist, noted the arbitrary opening and running of private schools within the Federal Capital Territory‎ without following standard guidelines and regulations.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchEducationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 12, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardshipYouth Ministry* Culture-WatchChildren* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural Resources* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted August 12, 2015 at 7:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

‘A new refugee camp has opened a few kilometres from Gambella town. Another is being established near the town of Matar, and another in the Asosa region near the permanent camp Sherkole (the new camp has been given the poignant name ‘Sorry’).

‘The churches, however, are usually the first stop for the refugees. They often ask for food and shelter.

‘As well as food aid, there are churches in the refugee camps providing literacy classes and other educational support. In this way, the churches function as community centres for many refugees.

‘We have 15 mission centres in Gambella, each of which is a cluster of churches. Some of the churches are in established refugee camps; some are in villages and towns. We have 16 clergy and 90 lay readers in the area, so we are obtaining first-hand information about what is happening.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchPovertyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaEthiopiaSudan--South Sudan* Theology

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Posted August 12, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Understanding the religious life of early America is an important business, and not just for scholars. That is because all sides in today's religious and constitutional arguments appeal to the past when they lay out their ideas for how things should work in the 21st century.

Conservatives generally want churches and church-affiliated organisations to enjoy wide sovereignty; they cite the First Amendment's guarantee of the free exercise of faith, and also its bar on the establishment of any religion, the so-called "non-establishment" clause. At least since the 20th century, non-establishment has often been taken to mean that the government and judiciary should avoid delving much into the internal affairs of a church, because to take any position could imply state backing for one religious line. Liberals, meanwhile, tend to have an idealised image of the absolute separation of church and state, as laid down by the founding fathers; they use that picture as an argument for keeping religious ideas and taboos out of policymaking. For both camps, Thomas Jefferson's statement of belief in a "wall of separation" between church and state is another important text. Liberals see the wall as protecting politics from religion, while conservatives see it more as protecting religion and its followers from political interference.

But what if both camps are wrong, because in the young American republic, state and religion were never fully separated? Sarah Barringer Gordon, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, says 20 years of research have convinced her that during the early decades of American life, state authorities interfered heavily in the affairs of churches and in doing so, helped to remould the American religious scene. The story she tells is nuanced and intriguing.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchEducationHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 12, 2015 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Taxpayers in the UK donate £2.7 billion a year in aid to countries where Christians are suffering some of the most extreme religious persecution in the world, figures show.

Analysis of official aid statistics shows that four out of five countries listed on a global human rights watch list, charting attacks or official suppression against Christians, receive money from the overseas development budget or through other official agencies.

David Cameron said last year that Christianity is now the “most persecuted religion around the world” and said Britain should be “unashamed” in standing up for religious freedom.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 12, 2015 at 5:15 am [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 5:50 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 4:52 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.

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

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Posted August 11, 2015 at 3:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Church of England lay preacher has disclosed that he is preparing to be expelled from ministry to marry his male partner.

Jeremy Timm said he had been forced to “choose between marriage or ministry” by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, but is ready to be stripped of his position in the Church in order to tie the knot.
Mr Timm and his partner, Mike, who live near Howden, East Yorkshire, have been in a civil partnership for six years but are planning to convert it to marriage in September, in open defiance of a ban on same-sex weddings in the Church of England.

The 59-year-old licensed reader, who leads services in six churches around Howden, was faced with the stark choice during a in a face-to-face meeting with Dr Sentamu last month at which he discussed his plans.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Archbishop of York John Sentamu* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted August 11, 2015 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There’s no place like home,” repeats Dorothy as she taps those famous ruby slippers together. The place to which she so desperately longs to return is Kansas, that little corner of the world she calls home. One might imagine the Depression-era dustbowl of Kansas is no match for the wonders of Oz, but it’s the place she feels rooted, attached and secure.

In literature and in cinema, there is no shortage of heroes’ journeys that end up back where they started. From Odysseus to Bilbo Baggins to Dorothy, wanderlust eventually turns to homesickness and the pull of the familiar overrides the glories of adventure. But what is it about home that’s such a draw? Dorothy’s repeated attempts to return to Kansas are less about the physical place itself and more about the meaning her attachments there bring to her sense of self. What most people seem to long for and grieve while in exile (even if it’s in the Technicolor land of Oz) are the social connections that friends, family and community bring to their sense of belonging.

Barna recently conducted research into this “sense of place,” asking Americans where they live, why they choose to live there and what they love most about the place they call home. We found that although Americans often move for different reasons, the most consistent characteristics that make a place worth staying in are relational.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyReligion & CultureSociology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 11, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

White-on-black Islamic calligraphy still adorns the establishment that the Islamic State used to recruit fighters and bombers in this town in southeast Turkey.

Known as the Islamic Tea House, it was a hub for bearded men in tunics, who lured young men for explosives training in Syria before complaints from the community led police to shut it down.

“It wasn’t exactly a tea house, but they did drink tea among themselves,” says Mahmoud Tunc, a chatty boy with a whisper of a mustache who works at a tiny tea shop across the street. “They were a carbon copy of the IS guys you see on social media. Even if you put a Quran in front of them, they wouldn’t read it. They would just parrot their stupid ideology. They were not harmful to us but they were very harmful to Adiyaman and Islam.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolenceYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeTurkey* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted August 11, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Wright’s self-discipline, as demonstrated by his daily running routine, is legendary: when he lived in Ottawa, he’d set out every morning before work on a half-marathon from his condo at 700 Sussex Dr. next to the Château Laurier. It was such a reliable habit that CTV’s Danielle Hamamdjian once ambushed him as he loped by the Mac’s on Laurier Avenue in Sandy Hill, at 4 a.m., to ask him about Duffy. He didn’t say much, except that he’d made some mistakes and was co-operating with the authorities.

Succeeding in private equity, as Wright has, takes management talent, steel nerves, and a willingness to do hard things — to make deals worth billions with other people’s money, to combine and break up companies other people built, to cut other people’s jobs. In Wright, those qualities are combined with a moral code derived from his devotion to a traditionalist strain of Anglicanism. It’s a throwback to the faith’s Catholic roots followed in just a few Canadian churches (St. Barnabas in Centretown is the one in Ottawa), featuring ornate services and a social conservatism that’s in deepening tension with the Anglican Communion’s increasingly liberal positions on things such as homosexuality and the ordination of women.

Wright’s a graduate of Trinity College at the University of Toronto — known for its training of Anglican priests and its adherence to some of British academe’s more amusingly stuffy traditions — and has been a lay leader at his Toronto church. He raises money for charity, particularly Camp Oochigeas (for kids with cancer, where he’s also volunteered during his vacations), and serves at soup kitchens.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock MarketPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryCanada

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Posted August 11, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So why would the smarter, more far-seeing leaders of the IRG see the deal as a good one? Certainly there are some attractive features from an Iranian perspective. There is the good news about the progressive dismantling of limits on Iran’s nuclear program. here are the cumbersome and weak inspection procedures that allow Iranian negotiators plenty of wiggle room for incremental cheats. There is the delicious reality that the drive to negotiate the deal has weakened the core alliances that are the heart of America’s strategic position in the Middle East. And there’s more: the prospect of an end to the conventional weapons embargo, the windfall gains from unfreezing assets and the boost to Iran’s economy that will come with the end of the sanctions.

But the real reason the deal is a gift to Iran isn’t in the language of the deal itself; it’s the path the deal opens up for Iran in the region. At a time of unprecedented crisis among Iran’s Sunni Arab rivals, the nuclear deal offers Iran a historic opportunity to aim for the hegemony of the Persian Gulf and to achieve the kind of world power that Shi’a religious enthusiasts and Persian nationalists believe is their due. God Himself, Iranian hardliners can tell the Supreme Leader, has opened this door for Iran; it is his duty and his destiny to walk through it.

So what’s Iran’s path? Simple, unfortunately. If Iran ratifies the deal, confines its cheating initially to the margins and then opportunistically pursues an agenda of regional expansion it can move towards the glittering prize that has dazzled Iranian nationalists since the time of the Shah: effective control over the oil resources of the Persian Gulf.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran

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Posted August 10, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

....one of the risks of the Assisted Dying debate is that it detracts from the debate about how to improve the experience of the living. Not everyone will think that being ‘an old lady hobbling up the road with a trolley’ is an unbearable loss of dignity, as Pharaoh did.

In his book, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, Atul Gawande argues that:

‘Certainly suffering at the end of life is sometimes unavoidable and unbearable, and helping people end their misery may be necessary. Given the opportunity, I would support laws to provide these kinds of prescriptions to people. About half don’t even use their prescription. They are reassured just to know they have this control if they need it. But we damage entire societies if we let providing this capability divert us from improving the lives of the ill. Assisted living is far harder than assisted death, but its possibilities are far greater, as well.’

Campaigners against assisted dying may disagree with Gawande’s support for prescriptions of medication that would allow a patient to end their lives if things become unbearable. What if life is physically bearable but painful as a result of an illness or disability, but emotionally overwhelming because someone fears being a burden on their family?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 10, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A year after tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians fled communities overtaken by Islamic State militants, their lives are on hold in exile: They won't go back to Iraq, saying it's not safe for Christians, but as refugees they're barred from working in temporary asylum countries such as Jordan. Expectations of quick resettlement to the West have been dashed.

"We've lost hope in everything," said Hinda Ablahat, a 67-year-old widow who lives with dozens of fellow refugees in plywood cubicles set up in a church compound in downtown Amman, the capital of Jordan. "We've been sitting here for a year and nothing's happened."

About 7,000 Christians from northern Iraq have found refuge in Jordan, including about 2,000 living in church-sponsored shelters.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 10, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Liberal arts has not been killed by parental or student philistinism, or the cupidity of today’s educational institutions whose excessive costs have made the liberal arts into an unattainable luxury. In too many ways the liberal arts have died not by murder but by suicide.

To restore the liberal arts, those of us who teach should begin by thinking about students. Almost all of them have serious questions about major issues, and all of them are looking for answers. What is right? What is love? What do I owe others? What do others owe me? In too many places these are not questions for examination but issues for indoctrination. Instead of guiding young men and women by encouraging them to read history, biography, philosophy and literature, we’d rather debunk the past, deconstruct the authors and dethrone our finest minds and statesmen.

But why would any student spend tens of thousands of dollars and, rather than see the world in all its aspects, instead spend his time being indoctrinated and immersed in the prejudices of the current culture and the opinions of his tendentious professors? The job of teachers is to liberate minds, not capture them.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksEducationHistoryYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 9, 2015 at 2:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Indian democracy has not blown up. But Ambedkar’s contradiction persists, and the caste foundation of India’s political structure maintains the hierarchy at the root of the country’s tremendous inequality of status and condition. Much of the careful thought of the nineteenth-century reformers and the founding generation has been shunted aside by the force of caste-based politics on the one hand and capitalist materialism on the other. The political principles on which the Indian state is founded have not been sufficient to create an inclusive, egalitarian society. Although the post-independence generation of Congress politicians promoted a secular vision of the Indian nation, they did not pursue the kinds of reforms that might have brought social reality closer to their political ideal. In doing so, they opened the way for the ascendance of caste-based politics and, ultimately, the more reactionary rise of religion in politics.

Hindu nationalism, with its dual focus on cultivating traditional social practices and providing social services afforded neither by the state nor economic growth, would seem to provide the strongest alternative to a modern capitalist society. But Hindu nationalism itself has adapted to India’s increasing wealth. The upper castes, particularly the Brahmins, once prided themselves on simple, even ascetic, living; they now hold up material success as another sign of caste superiority. The traditional Hindu elite is no longer distinguishable from the modern economic elite.

Prime Minister Modi is the living embodiment of this troubling marriage of Hindu nationalism and capitalism, of traditional social hierarchy and modern materialism. While he has maintained the support of his elite urban business constituents, he has proven himself to be as much a disciple of the Hindu Right as he was in his youth. Even as the RSS offers hope and basic services to thousands of poor, lower-caste youth like Aakash, we cannot take the organization’s apparent social egalitarianism at face value. At its core remains the inequality that has long marked Indian life.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchRural/Town Life* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsHinduism

3 Comments
Posted August 9, 2015 at 1:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Silicon Valley version of that “green rush” looks a little different. It involves slick apps, software and founders who talk about big data and algorithms. AngelList, a website where micro start-ups can look for angel investors, lists more than 300 marijuana start-ups in the US — half were founded this year, and a third of those are in California. (Examples include an Amazon for cannabis, a Kickstarter for cannabis, inventory management software and dozens of delivery companies.) Investments in marijuana-related companies have reached $200m over the past 12 months, quadruple the levels of the previous year, according to CB Insights, a venture capital database.

This rush of funding has attracted software engineers such as Austin Heap, a veteran of some half-dozen start-ups. Heap didn’t initially know much about the marijuana industry, other than being a medical marijuana consumer himself. He and a friend (now co-founder) started batting ideas about last autumn and came up with Potbox, a monthly subscription delivery service for organic, farm-to-table cannabis. They met their other co-founder, a 20-year veteran of the industry, because they had been using his marijuana delivery service.

“It feels like a very normal start-up, it just happens to be cannabis,” Heap told me, the day before their launch on July 8. Later that night, he would put the final touches on their social media accounts and website. “Hopefully at about 2:30 in the morning I will be a) still awake and b) getting Cloudflare in place, which will help us deal with any huge spikes in traffic,” he explained with a geeky enthusiasm. “I’m largely tech focused.” Heap says the huge investor interest in cannabis is “refreshing” after years of doing the venture capital dog-and-pony show. “No start-up I’ve worked on has said no to so many investment requests. I think we have something the cannabis industry has never seen.”

Read it all.

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

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Posted August 9, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If the oil futures market is correct, Saudi Arabia will start running into trouble within two years. It will be in existential crisis by the end of the decade.
The contract price of US crude oil for delivery in December 2020 is currently $62.05, implying a drastic change in the economic landscape for the Middle East and the petro-rentier states.
The Saudis took a huge gamble last November when they stopped supporting prices and opted instead to flood the market and drive out rivals, boosting their own output to 10.6m barrels a day (b/d) into the teeth of the downturn.
Bank of America says OPEC is now "effectively dissolved". The cartel might as well shut down its offices in Vienna to save money.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastSaudi Arabia* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 8, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

My argument thus far is that the policymakers in the West and especially in the United States and Britain do not just tolerate dictatorial regimes in the Middle East, but at a minimum, refuse to oppose them and often will actively support them because of a basic sense of insecurity about Muslims exercising self-autonomy and determination. There is a visceral but historically rooted fear of the bogeyman of a united Islam and of Muslims demanding to be treated as equals and not as colonial subjects. Muslims are still the faceless, indistinct mass of dark-skinned natives who cannot be trusted unless they speak, act, and even covet what their imperial masters teach them.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 8, 2015 at 10:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In addition to writing about your own experiences, you personally interviewed U.S., U.K., and Iraqi officials as well as clergy and religious leaders of all faiths. Can you describe some of the insight people of faith had on ISIS?

One of the terrible tragedies in Iraq is the fate of Christians, who were a central part of Iraq. I think there are more Iraqi Christians now in the state of Michigan than there are in Iraq. There were 1.2 million Christians living in Iraq in 2003; today there are 400,000, and most want to leave. I interviewed Reverend Canon Andrew White (vicar of the sole Anglican church in Iraq); he lost a quarter of his flock who were persecuted or forced to pay a tax or be killed. I asked myself, why has the Christian population gone down? It’s ISIS. The terrible violence, you wouldn’t believe it—what they did to people’s children, the churches they blew up and the number of people they have killed. I cite a report in the book about ISIS cooking a two-year-old Syrian girl and serving it to her family.

Can you describe what life is like in Iraq?....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted August 7, 2015 at 4:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Like many of you, I’m continuing to reflect on the tectonic philosophical and moral shifts in our culture crystallized in the Supreme Court decision to legalize same sex marriage—and what that decision means not only for our religious liberties, but for our evangelism, discipleship and mission as followers of Jesus Christ.

Four weeks ago I quoted Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission who stated that there will be a new generation of “refugees” from the current metaphysical-sexual expression culture that we now live in. Yes, there will be refugees—because turning in on yourself and pursuing your own sexual desires as a fundamental liberty never ends well. (See Romans 1:18-32 for a picture of what that looks like). Such a culture cannot keep its promises of personal happiness and fulfillment for individuals whose needs and cravings will inevitably be at odds! Sexual and relational brokenness, desperate loneliness, divorce, broken families, spiritual and emotional wounds will increase with the ever-accelerating sexual revolution which has been blessed by the highest courts of our land. Not only that, but abortion as a gruesome method of birth control and fetal tissue extraction and euthanasia at the other end of life will also increase as the exaltation of personal desires trumps traditional biblical values on the sanctity of life.

In a culture where it’s all about me and my choices, where the bottom-line world view is that the self is the only thing that can be known, and where freedom of sexual expression, self-interests and narcissism reign supreme, here’s the question: what do we as a church, as followers of Jesus Christ, have to offer to those who will be refugees of this new metaphysical-sexual expression regime?

Read it all (his emphasis).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church GrowthPastoral Care* Culture-WatchPsychologyScience & TechnologySexuality* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyApologetics

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Posted August 7, 2015 at 1:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Chapter two of the book is primarily devoted to an in-depth examination of the negative socio-cultural ramifications of redefining marriage and how, if not checked, this redefinition can all too easily lead to further breakdowns in the monogamy, permanence, and exclusivity that bolster the procreativity-oriented reality of comprehensive/conjugal marriage. This is then buttressed with an extremely thorough examination of the judicial overreach and activism involved in the Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage in Obergefell in chapter three. The treatment given to the dissenting opinions in this chapter is worth the cost of admission alone.

The second half of the book, beginning with chapter four, is devoted to defending religious liberty in the wake of Obergefell. Chapter four itself is largely devoted to examining several prominent religious liberty infringement cases that have already occurred. This is then followed in chapter five with a detailed explanation of what religious freedom is, why it is the “first freedom,” and why it is of paramount importance that it be protected, not sacrificed on the altar of the sexual revolution. This “strong-protection” view of religious liberty is then reinforced in chapter six, wherein Anderson shows how detrimental a national SOGI (Sexual Identity and Gender Identity) law(s) would be for religious liberty and for those whose religious convictions commit them to the traditional view of marriage.

The final three chapters examine both the negative sociological ramifications of redefining marriage, particularly for children, and lay out a long-term plan for adherents of traditional marriage to begin rebuilding a marriage culture and strengthening religious liberty against attempts to weaken it. Anderson is optimistic here, but also realistic. He rightly points out that the legalization of same-sex marriage is just the most recent and logical outworking of previous deconstruction done by no-fault divorce, recreational sex, and other trivializations of marriage and sexuality over the past four decades.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 7, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Is the American Mind–the collective intelligence of what it means to live as independent citizens and individuals in America–increasingly being lost? That is the subject Mark Bauerlein discusses with Richard Reinsch in this Liberty Law Talk. Some have argued that we are Becoming Europe in fiscal and welfare state policies. Others have noted the rise of political correctness as a smothering force in our society. Many have long observed that our education system not only inadequately prepares young Americans in primary schools and colleges and universities for the competitive private sector, but that it is nearly oblivious to the American Founding and the qualities of American citizenship. Mark Bauerlein, in a new volume co-edited with Adam Bellow entitled The State of the American Mind, pulls these critiques together in a powerful, contemporary light with 16 essays by various critics. Our conversation considers these contributions on education, politics, media, and culture.

Listen to it all.



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

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Posted August 7, 2015 at 11:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. employers are adding jobs at a steady clip though the labor market is showing little sign of overheating, factors likely to reassure Federal Reserve officials as they weigh their first interest-rate increase since 2006.

Nonfarm payrolls rose a seasonally adjusted 215,000 in July, the Labor Department said Friday. Revisions showed employers added 6,000 more jobs in May and 8,000 more in June than previously estimated.

The unemployment rate, which is obtained from a separate survey of U.S. households, held steady at 5.3% in July.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 7, 2015 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Zainab Bangura, the UN’s special envoy on sexual violence, said yesterday that a document discovered eight months ago that appeared to show Isis trading pre-pubescent girls as sex slaves had been authenticated.
“The girls get peddled like barrels of petrol,” she said. “One girl can be sold and bought by five or six different men. Sometimes these fighters sell the girls back to their families for thousands of dollars.”

In an interview with Bloomberg, she said that the document claimed that children aged nine or under could be sold to Isis fighters as slaves for $165. Older women, from the Christian or Yazidi communities, were worth less, with those over 40 selling for as little as $41.

Read it all 9requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureSexualityViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted August 7, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nestled amongst the nondescript concrete buildings of Silicon Valley, home to start-ups and tech giants, are a surprising number of churches and temples.

They cater to the highly successful and wealthy population of the world’s tech capital. It is surprising because this is a region that is known for its agnosticism, rather than religiosity.

"Silicon Valley attracts people with a type-A personality,” said Skip Vaccarello, author of Finding God in Silicon Valley. "[That type has] the lowest number of people that go to a church on any Sunday. The gods become the things like money, technology, success and so on."

A recent survey listed San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose as having the least church-going population of any place in America.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While the White House and Congress prepare for a final showdown over the controversial Iran nuclear deal, three American prisoners and one missing American in Iran are awaiting their own fate.

One of the prisoners is Pastor Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-American Christian pastor who has been detained in Iran since 2012. He has become the international face of the brutal persecution of Christians by the Islamic Republic.

Abedini was arrested by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps while visiting relatives and building an orphanage in the city of Rasht. Initially placed under house arrest, he was transferred to Iran’s notorious Evin Prison and later to Rajai Shahr Prison.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissionsParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPrison/Prison MinistryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christian preacher Pastor James McConnell has said he wants to be “exonerated, liberated and set free” after he pleaded not guilty at a Belfast court in connection with charges he faces over a sermon where he branded Islam as “satanic”.

At Laganside court on Thursday, the north Belfast preacher’s solicitor Joe Rice said his client would be pleading not guilty to the case prosecutors have taken under the 2003 Communications Act.

Supporters, including DUP MP Sammy Wilson, gathered outside the court holding placards to protest what they described as the pastor’s right to free speech.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 7, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Boko Haram Islamists shot dead at least nine people and set homes on fire in a raid on two villages in conflict-hit northeastern Nigeria, fleeing residents told AFP on Thursday.

All nine victims were gunned down with assault rifles as the jihadis attacked Tadagara around 10:30 pm (2130 GMT), looting thatch-roofed mud homes and shops before setting them ablaze, according to witnesses.

"Boko Haram gunmen came on motorcycles and opened fire on the village after we had retired for the night and killed nine residents," Tadagara villager ‎Shuaibu Nuhu told AFP.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 6, 2015 at 4:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Prostitution should be decriminalised because men have twice the need for sex that women do, a free market think tank claims in a report published today.
Men’s higher desire for sex means that the oldest profession can never be eliminated so it should be treated like any other job, the paper says. It also suggests that prostitution and erotic entertainment may “help to reduce sexual crime rates”. The report says there are too few studies to conclude that the sex industry damages women.
Catherine Hakim, the report’s author, said the laws on prostitution were outdated, misinformed and redundant in a world in which the internet had fundamentally changed sex lives.
Dr Hakim, a sociologist, said: “The very concept of prostitution is no longer workable in today’s world of fluid sexual markets, where anyone can meet anyone on whatever terms they choose. Decriminalisation is the only workable way forward.”

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMenSexuality* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 6, 2015 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mr Choudary, the former head of the banned Islamist group al-Muhajiroun, was accused of promoting Isis and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on social media.
The preacher gave a 20-minute speech protesting his innocence as he appeared at Westminster magistrates’ court yesterday afternoon. He told the court that it was David Cameron and the police who should be in the dock.
Wearing a long white robe, Mr Choudary, 48, spoke confidently and waved notes around about his case. He said that he wished to represent himself as he appeared alongside Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, 32, from Whitechapel, east London, who is also accused of inviting support for Isis.
Mr Choudary, who was born in Britain, refused to confirm his east London address.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 6, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So let’s be clear about what’s really going on here. It is not the pro-life movement that’s forced Planned Parenthood to unite actual family planning and mass feticide under one institutional umbrella. It is not the Catholic Church or the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles or the Southern Baptist Convention or the Republican Party that have bundled pap smears and pregnancy tests and HPV vaccines with the kind of grisly business being conducted on those videos. This is Planned Parenthood’s choice; it is liberalism’s choice; it is the respectable center-left of Dana Milbank and Ruth Marcus and Will Saletan that’s telling pro-life and pro-choice Americans alike that contraceptive access and fetal dismemberment are just a package deal, that if you want to fund an institution that makes contraception widely available then you just have to live with those “it’s another boy!” fetal corpses in said institution’s freezer, that’s just the price of women’s health care and contraceptive access, and who are you to complain about paying it, since after all the abortion arm of Planned Parenthood is actually pretty profitable and doesn’t need your tax dollars?

This is a frankly terrible argument, rooted in a form of self-deception that would be recognized as such in any other context. Tell me anything but this, liberals: Tell me that you aren’t just pro-choice but pro-abortion, tell me that abortion is morally necessary and praiseworthy, tell me that it’s as morally neutral as snuffing out a rabbit, tell me that a fetus is just a clump of cells and that pro-lifers are all unhinged zealots. Those arguments, as much as I disagree with them, have a real consistency, a moral logic that actually makes sense and actually justifies the continued funding of Planned Parenthood.

But to concede that pro-lifers might be somewhat right to be troubled by abortion, to shudder along with us just a little bit at the crushing of the unborn human body, and then turn around and still demand the funding of an institution that actually does the quease-inducing killing on the grounds that what’s being funded will help stop that organization from having to crush quite so often, kill quite so prolifically – no, spare me. Spare me. Tell the allegedly “pro-life” institution you support to set down the forceps, put away the vacuum, and then we’ll talk about what kind of family planning programs deserve funding. But don’t bring your worldview’s bloody hands to me and demand my dollars to pay for soap enough to maybe wash a few flecks off.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For many reasons, then, Boko Haram is a significant and threatening phenomenon, which demands explanation. It is valuable to have Virginia Comolli's thoughtful and wide-ranging account of the movement, which draws on extensive conversations with Nigerians of many backgrounds, apart from archival work. As with any study of a current topic, her book runs the risk of becoming obsolete the moment it appears in print, but it is nevertheless a very useful overview. Surprisingly, many aspects of this strictly contemporary movement are fiercely debated and poorly understood, and Comolli is a sure-footed guide through the scholarly battlegrounds.

She roots the insurgency in some very old-established traditions within North African Islam. Long before the arrival of British colonialism, the lands that became northern Nigeria were ruled by proud sultanates and emirates, of which Kano was the most celebrated. One of the great events in that history was the sweeping jihad movement undertaken at the start of the 19th century by the visionary Fulani reformer Usman dan Fodio. Islamic memories survived powerfully under the British, who worked closely with local political and religious authorities.

That historical legacy is cherished up to the present day, providing an ideological vehicle for popular disenchantment and resistance. Comolli rightly points out that Boko Haram did not spring from nowhere in 2002, but grew out of a series of Islamist, Wahhabi, and fundamentalist sects and student movements that had been flourishing from the 1970s onward. Islamic insurgencies are nothing new to Nigeria, and neither are charismatic and prophetic leaders.

I offer one criticism of an excellent book, namely that Comolli is so focused on tracing the tangled origins of Boko Haram that she underplays the larger political, ethnic, and religious picture, and specifically the role of Christianity. Undoubtedly, she knows that story very well, but most non-specialist readers will not, and they need to be told. A case can be made that Boko Haram is the most aggressive and acute form of a sweeping anti-Christian protest movement.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ministers will challenge the Church of England to support the biggest shake up of Sunday trading laws in a generation to help boost high streets and cut shopping bills for every household in Britain.
Under plans unveiled in a consultation today, local authorities will be given the power to prevent large supermarkets from opening longer in an attempt to revive Britain's high streets.
The Government will encourage councils to use the new powers to help town centre stores at the expense of larger out-of-town shops.

Read it all.

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

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Posted August 5, 2015 at 6:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians are facing growing persecution around the world, fuelled mainly by Islamic extremism and repressive governments, leading the pope to warn of “a form of genocide” and for campaigners to speak of “religio-ethnic cleansing”.

The scale of attacks on Christians in the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America has alarmed organisations that monitor religious persecution, with most reporting a significant deterioration in recent years.

On his recent trip to Latin America, Pope Francis said he was dismayed “to see how in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world many of our brothers and sisters are persecuted, tortured and killed for their faith in Jesus”. He went on: “In this third world war, waged piecemeal, which we are now experiencing, a form of genocide is taking place, and it must end.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 5, 2015 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Bishop of Los Angeles has retaliated against clergy and lay members of St James the Great Episcopal Church in Newport Beach, Cal., for having brought misconduct charges against him under the Episcopal Church’s Title IV disciplinary canons, alleges the Save St James the Great coalition.

According to a supplement filed last week to the complaint, (printed below) attorneys for the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno have harrassed witnesses and members of the parish who had brought charges against him. Bishop Bruno is accused of trying to depose the husband of parish vicar the Rev. Canon Cindy Evans Voorhees and seeking legal sanctions for his alleged non-cooperation with his attorney's demands, and have threatened to bring civil legal charges against those who signed the complaint, accusing them of “malicious prosecution.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Los AngelesTEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedStewardship* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 5, 2015 at 10:23 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted August 5, 2015 at 7:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

China has tightened its grip over the country’s 650m internet users by announcing moves to station police officers inside large internet companies in an effort to heighten censorship and prevent subversion, according to a senior security official.
The move follows a spate of recent efforts to tighten the screws on social media users, as well as a draft cyber security law that will grant authorities broad new powers to control the internet in the country and force web companies to share more data with the government.

Chen Zhimin, the deputy minister of public security, revealed a plan to set up “network security offices” in major internet companies — such as Tencent and Alibaba — “in order to be able to find out about illegal internet activity more quickly”, although he did not specify how the initiative would work.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina

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Posted August 5, 2015 at 7:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, visited one of Tonga’s smallest islands this morning where he prayed and took action to prevent erosion.

On a mission to promote awareness of climate change and to protect the environment, he preached at an Oceanic Eucharist on Pangaimotu Island led by Archbishop Winston Halapua and attended by priests of the Anglican Church of Tonga, members of the local Anglican community and the St Andrew's High School brass band and students.

On the exposed side of the island where the sea is rapidly eroding the land and trees have died, Archbishop Sentamu and his wife Margaret planted mangrove seedlings. They were assisted by the Acting Prime Minister, Hon Siaosi Sovaleni.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and PolynesiaArchbishop of York John Sentamu* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural Resources* TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 5, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In May, authorities in eastern China’s Zhejiang province unveiled rules severely limiting the size and placement of crosses on churches — the codification of a sometimes-violent 2014 campaign that saw crosses torn from more than 300 churches in and around the city of Wenzhou, home to a large Christian community.

The local government now appears to be enforcing the new regulations.

As shown in the Associated Press..authorities last week dispatched demolition crews to shear off the cross that sat atop Lower Dafei Catholic Church outside Wenzhou as parishioners sang hymns in protest.

“They say we have religious freedom. Is this freedom?” one congregation member, surnamed Chen, told the AP. “Have we violated any national laws? We are also good Chinese citizens.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina* Religion News & CommentaryChurch-State Issues* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Diocese of Colombo of the Church of Ceylon has called on political parties and voters to take a stand against corruption and greed in upcoming parliamentary elections.

On 26 June a government spokesperson announced that Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena had dissolved parliament in an effort to clear the way for needed reforms. Voting to elect a new 225-member Parliament is set for 17 August, ten months ahead of schedule.

In a statement to diocesan parishes and the media, the Rt Revd Dhiloraj Ranjit Canagasabey, Bishop of Colombo, underlined the need for reform.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaSri Lanka* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 5, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At least eight people were killed and about 100 others were kidnapped by suspected Boko Haram militants in an overnight raid on a village near Cameroon's northern border, a local government and a military source said.

Tchakarmari, the village targeted early on Tuesday, lies north of Maroua, where dozens of people were killed in a series of suicide bombings by the Nigerian Islamist group last month.

"Residents said the attackers headed back to Nigeria where Cameroon is not allowed to pursue them," the local government source in the Far North region said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaCameroonNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 4, 2015 at 5:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage, religious leaders feared that religious universities, nonprofits and other institutions could lose their tax-exempt status. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has promised the Senate Judiciary Oversight Subcommittee that his agency would not go after the tax-exempt status of religious colleges and universities that oppose gay marriage.

During a hearing Wednesday conducted by the Senate Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) asked Koskinen whether the IRS would “not, in the absence of a directive by Congress or by the courts,” take action to remove religious schools’ tax exemption.

“I can make that commitment,” Koskinen said, explaining that “we see no basis for changing our examination criteria as a result of this Supreme Court case.”

Read it all from the Washington Post.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 4, 2015 at 4:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Email notifications. Buzzing phones. The sound of your coworker munching on lunch. Chances are that by the time you finish reading this article—if you even get that far—at least one of these distractions will have derailed your thoughts; threatening deadlines, work quality and overall productivity.

In his book Your Brain at Work, author David Rock says that the average office worker is interrupted every three minutes, and recovering from this disconnect is costly. In fact, it takes us an average of 23 minutes to fully return to a task after an interruption. That said, discoveries in neuroscience also confirm what we’ve always known: our brains aren’t wired to concentrate intensely for eight hours straight. They get tired! Our minds work in cycles of activity and downtime designed to keep us alert and responsive to our surroundings. But harnessing those cycles to promote productivity proves challenging.

So how can we balance the onslaught of incoming information and the temptation to multitask with the reality of brain science? What can we do to maximize our productivity in the office?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingHealth & MedicinePsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 4, 2015 at 3:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The sun rises over the Port of Charleston and with it, the start of another day where a new symbol of Made in America buzzes with activity.

Workers are preparing to load another cargo ship of BMW vehicles, built at the German automaker's plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

While Michigan is still the heartbeat of America's auto industry, South Carolina is one of several southern states that have become a greater focal point for automakers scouting out locations for new plants.

"We really focus on foreign investment, on adding new jobs to our country [and] not just our state," South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley told CNBC.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryTravel* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPolitics in GeneralState Government* South Carolina

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Earlier this year, Dan Price, a graduate of Seattle Pacific University and CEO of Seattle-based Gravity Payments, made headlines nationwide after announcing plans to raise his employees’ base salary to $70,000 a year.

But not everyone at Gravity Payments agrees with his plans to share the wealth. ­­­­­­

Two of his top employees quit in protest. His brother, a co-owner of Gravity Payments, filed suit. Other local companies complained that Price made them look stingy, according to The New York Times (NYT).

It’s as if Jesus’s parable about the workers in the vineyard—where latecomers got the same pay as those who worked all day—has come to life, the NYT points out.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted August 4, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The people of St. James the Great Church in Newport Beach, California, thought they had their bishop’s long-term support when they moved into the building in October 2013, after the diocese’s long-term property battle with former members who joined the Anglican Church in North America. He was at the ceremony and offered his blessing.

But now they have no building because the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno signed a deal in May to sell it for $15 million to a luxury housing developer. They feel betrayed, and they are fighting back.

In July church members filed a lengthy complaint, or presentment, against the bishop. It charges Bishop Bruno with 147 violations of church law, ranging from conduct unbecoming a bishop to reckless or intentional misrepresentation, under Title IV of church canons.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted August 4, 2015 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After more than a century of being alive, Loren Wade is still punching a clock.

Earlier this week, the long-time Walmart employee celebrated his 103rd birthday with friends, family and coworkers at a party.

The Air Force and World War II veteran gave retirement a try during his 60's, but it didn't take long before he grew bored and opted to continue working, the centenarian told NBC's "Weekend TODAY" in a recent interview. After landing a job with Walmart back in 1983, he still works five day a week at a the location in his hometown of Winfield, Kansas.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyMilitary / Armed Forces* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 4, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The radical Islamist group Boko Haram has intensified its suicide bombing attacks in northern Nigeria and Cameroon in recent weeks.

On Friday (31 July) a massive bomb exploded in the market in Maiduguri, north-eastern Nigeria – the traditional heartland of Boko Haram violence. At least six died, and 11 were injured.

The previous Saturday (25 July), 20 people were killed when a 12-year-old girl blew herself up in a crowded bar in Maroua, northern Cameroon. Seventy-nine others were injured.

However, on 2 August the Nigerian military said it had rescued 178 people – including 101 children and 67 women – taken captive by Boko Haram in the northern Nigerian state of Borno.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaCameroonNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On June 28 a handful of fundamentalist hecklers from the Church of Wells, located in the piney woods of East Texas about three hours northeast of Houston, disrupted services at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church. As reported in national and local media outlets, and astutely analyzed by historian Charity Carney, security removed the activists after they shouted at the popular preacher and they were arrested. While that June Sunday was not the first time the Wells hecklers visited Lakewood, it represented a bold and memorable confrontation with America’s smiling pastor, not unlike the one evangelist Adam Key had with Osteen in 2007.

It is easy to dismiss the Wells hecklers and Key as fundamentalist partisans whose messages appeal to a small number of like-minded followers. However, as my book Salvation with a Smile argues, their actions are part of a longer history of public castigation of popular preachers. And Molly Worthen’s insightful description of evangelicalism’s crisis of authority speaks powerfully to the rhetorical combat between Osteen and his critics, as does Todd Brenneman’s post for this blog.

Lakewood’s heckler episode this summer, while documenting one way to understand Osteen’s popularity, also prompts historical reflection about the summer of 2005 when Joel and his congregation moved into Houston’s Compaq Center, a sports-arena-turned-megachurch. The last decade encompassed Joel Osteen’s ascendancy to the peak of American evangelicalism.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted August 3, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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