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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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KOJA, Nigeria—This was a small town on the docks where steamships stopped when a traveling young nut merchant named Ahmed Musa settled here in the 1940s. He didn’t even lock his doors at night.
Now Lokoja is the fastest-growing city on Earth. His roof looks out over shanties and suburban estates tangling along the Niger River stretch where, a century ago, a British writer gazed across the water and coined the name Nigeria. Lokoja’s metropolitan population of 473,000 is set to rise 78% in the next 10 years, the United Nations projects, quicker than every other sizable town in the world.
The biggest human increase in modern history is under way in Africa. On every other continent, growth rates are slowing toward a standstill for the first time in centuries, and the day is in sight when the world’s human population levels out.
But not here—not yet.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization History Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
...the Archbishop struggles. Why? I can only conclude that (as he has sometimes hinted) his belief in the very existence of a deity can falter. After all, if one starts from an absolute faith that there is a benevolent God, one must simply find ways to explain or discount apparently awkward evidence — of which the problem of pain is an obvious example. If, on the other hand, one is unsure about the existence of God, one does not seek to discount troubling evidence against the theory, but approaches it with an open mind.
I suspect that describes Archbishop Welby. If so, we should not reproach him for responding to an act of great wickedness as he did — though we might enquire whether it was really a good idea to be Archbishop of Canterbury. But what I must reproach him for is this: Paris is now, close to home, and once Welby’s own home, but why should that make the atrocity any more philosophically troubling than a Lisbon earthquake centuries ago? I feel a righteous anger against people who renounce their faith because their aunt died of cancer. Other people’s aunts die of cancer all the time. ‘Why us? Why me? Why now?’ should carry no more force than ‘Why others? Why then?’
The Archbishop’s response was doubtless human, but theologically shallow. Jesus, in His agony (‘My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?) doubted Himself, not God. Straining his ears on last Saturday’s walk, the Archbishop might have heard a rumble from the sky: ‘My Canterbury, my Canterbury, why has thou forsaken me?
Read it all from the Spectator.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues Violence * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary England / UK Europe France * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology Theodicy
Hunger and food insecurity are so widespread in the United States they add $160 billion to national health care spending, according to a Christian advocacy group.
The Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, said on Monday (Nov. 23) that hunger was a key factor in the U.S. having the worst infant mortality rate among developed countries.
“It is like a massive terrorist attack,” he said at the presentation of the group’s annual Hunger Report. “All the things that we do that allow the infant mortality rate to be so high — that is in effect killing a hundred thousand babies in communities across this country a year.”
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The zoning meeting, in a community room packed beyond capacity, was intended to focus on traffic, lighting and parking impacts from a proposed building.
But the building in question was a new mosque — and the meeting occurred four days after the terrorist attacks in Paris.
A thickly built man interrupted the discussion about stormwater runoff, saying to the small group of Muslims in the crowd, “Nobody wants your evil cult,” and “Every one of you are terrorists. I don’t care what you say. I don’t care what you think.”
The unidentified man pledged to do everything in his power to block the mosque, jabbing his finger toward one of the mosque’s trustees, a civil engineer leading the presentation, according to a video posted by the Free Lance-Star of Fredericksburg.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General City Government * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam
The American student loan crisis is often seen as a problem of profligacy and predation. Wasteful colleges raise tuition every year, we are told, even as middle-class wages stagnate and unscrupulous for-profit colleges bilk the unwary. The result is mounting unmanageable debt.
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There is much truth in this diagnosis. But it does not explain the plight of Liz Kelley, a Missouri high school teacher and mother of four who made a series of unremarkable decisions about college and borrowing. She now owes the federal government $410,000, and counting.
This is a staggering and unusual sum. The average undergraduate who borrows leaves school with about $30,000 in debt. But Ms. Kelley’s circumstances are not unique. Of the 43.3 million borrowers with outstanding federal student loans, 1.8 percent, or 779,000 people, owe $150,000 or more. And 346,000 owe more than $200,000.
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Something he is keen to stress is the cross-faith work going on around climate change – particularly in light of the Pope’s encyclical, which he says has had a “huge” impact. Holtam himself recently presented to the Jewish Board of Deputies with former Friends of the Earth Director Jonathon Porritt. “There is a sense that we really want to work across the faith communities,” he says – pointing to an “ecumenical convergence” on the issue. The force of events – an “existential crisis” – was pushing faiths together to find a common solution. Indeed, our meeting coincided with a visit to London by the Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, who insisted at an event with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby that global warming is a “moral crisis” requiring behavioural change.
“What we need to move to is a low carbon economy and therefore there needs to be a positive investment into renewable energy,” Holtam says. “There’s going to become a tipping point at which there are stranded assets and the question is, who’s going to spot when that comes? Because there’ll be a moment when you’re much better off investing in renewables than you are in fossil fuel.” Holtam doesn’t engage directly with corporate executives directly, but what would he say to the senior people at BP and Shell? “There’s a community of common interest,” he observes.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Energy, Natural Resources * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
What are the myths about homelessness?
One is that people come to L.A. to experience homelessness in the great weather, and that's not the truth. Seventy percent of the people in the [homeless] count have been here 10 years or more. Many came here with a dream. That dream didn't work out and they ended up on the streets. The vast majority of the people on skid row are from L.A.
The other myth is that [the biblical] quote — "The poor, you'll always have with you" — [is] a case for inaction. But in one of the books of the Bible, Jesus says, "The poor you'll always have with you to be kind to every day." He's quoting Deuteronomy. So what's being used as a call to inaction [actually says] we've got to look after our neighbors, our brothers and sisters. I say skid row is the biggest man-made human disaster in the U.S. We made this corral-and-containment system. There's a wiser, better approach.
You've already served some big Thanksgiving meals ahead of the holiday rush. Does it annoy you a bit that so much attention is focused on one single day of the year on skid row?
Every day is a big day; every day we have 2,000 meals and hundreds of volunteers. Our big event is the Saturday before Thanksgiving — 4,500 or 5,000 people who come for Thanksgiving dinner. And caring [volunteers] overwhelm us. It should happen every day. And it does here.
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“The test will obviously be the total mobilisation of effort in a focussed way that recognises the long-term needs of security for indigenous populations, and particularly the Christian populations, being harried out of the area at the time.
“For the first time in almost 300 years, we’re facing a conflict that has a distinct theological and religious element which we have not faced before. Recent studies demonstrate the theological basis of extremist groups behind jihadist thinking.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary England / UK Middle East Syria
Fine for teachers, but it can be tough on parents' schedules and wallets.
In fact, the district says the schedule is so unpopular with families that it expects to loose several hundred students to other school systems.
"My best friend, she and her family, her two brothers, they moved to a private school because of the four-day school week," says fifth-grader Chloe Florence. And that's bad news for Apache Junction Unified, which is funded on a per-student basis.
Jennifer Florence says it just doesn't add up, but her family has decided to stick it out.
"In a philosophical sense we believe very strongly in public education. So we are trying to support the system. Abandoning a ship, it will sink."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Education Marriage & Family * Economics, Politics Economy Personal Finance Politics in General State Government * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
About sunset, it happened every Friday evening on a lonely stretch along the eastern Florida seacoast. You could see an old man walking, white-haired, bushy eye-browed, slightly bent.--Paul Harvey's the Rest of the Story (Bantam Books, 1997 Mass paperback ed. of the 1977 Doubleday original), pp. 170-172
One gnarled hand would be gripping the handle of a pail, a large bucket filled with shrimp. There on a broken pier, reddened by the setting sun, the weekly ritual would be re-enacted.
At once, the silent twilight sky would become a mass of dancing dots...growing larger. In the distance, screeching calls would become louder.
They were seagulls, come from nowhere on the same pilgrimage… to meet an old man.
For half an hour or so, the gentleman would stand on the pier, surrounded by fluttering white, till his pail of shrimp was empty. But the gulls would linger for a while. Perhaps one would perch comfortably on the old man’s hat…and a certain day gone by would gently come to his mind.
Eventually, all the old man’s days were past. If the gulls still returned to that spot… perhaps on a Friday evening at sunset, it is not for food… but to pay homage to the secret they shared with a gentle stranger.
And that secret is THE REST OF THE STORY.
Anyone who remembers October of 1942 remembers the day it was reported that Captain Eddie Rickenbacker was lost at sea.
Captain Eddie’s mission had been to deliver a message of the utmost importance to General Douglas MacArthur.
But there was an unexpected detour which would hurl Captain Eddie into the most harrowing adventure of his life. . Somewhere over the South Pacific, the flying fortress became lost beyond the reach of radio. Fuel ran dangerously low, and the men ditched their plane in the ocean.
The B-17 stayed afloat just long enough for all aboard to get out. . Then, slowly, the tail of the flying fortress swung up and poised for a split second… and the ship went down leaving eight men and three rafts… and the horizon.
For nearly a month, Captain Eddie and his companions would fight the water, and the weather, and the scorching sun.
They spent many sleepless nights recoiling as giant sharks rammed their rafts. Their largest raft was nine by five… the biggest shark ten feet long.
But of all their enemies at sea, one proved most formidable: starvation. Eight days out, their rations were long gone or destroyed by the salt water. It would take a miracle to sustain them. And a miracle occurred.
In Captain Eddie’s own words, “Cherry,” that was B-17 pilot, Captain William Cherry, “read the service that afternoon, and we finished with a prayer for deliverance and a hymn of praise. There was some talk, but it tapered off in the oppressive heat. With my hat pulled down over my eyes to keep out some of the glare, I dozed off.”
Now this is still Captain Rickenbacker talking… Something landed on my head. I knew that it was a seagull. I don’t know how I knew; I just knew.
“Everyone else knew, too. No one said a word. But peering out from under my hat brim without moving my head, I could see the expression on their faces. They were staring at the gull. The gull meant food… if I could catch it.”
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Captain Eddie caught the gull. Its flesh was eaten; its intestines were used for bait to catch fish. The survivors were sustained and their hopes renewed because a lone sea gull, uncharacteristically hundreds of miles from land, offered itself as a sacrifice.
You know that Captain Eddie made it.
And now you also know...that he never forgot.
Because every Friday evening, about sunset...on a lonely stretch along the eastern Florida seacoast...you could see an old man walking...white-haired, bushy-eyebrowed, slightly bent.
His bucket filled with shrimp was to feed the gulls...to remember that one which, on a day long past, gave itself without a struggle...like manna in the wilderness.
The Church of England has overwhelmingly backed military intervention in Syria to establish safe routes for refugees. The general synod voted yesterday in favour of a motion that the Archbishop of Canterbury said committed the church to supporting the use of armed force. Justin Welby said that if the motion was passed the “implications are enormous”, adding that he supported it.
It comes as David Cameron today reveals his “comprehensive strategy” for taking on Islamic State in Syria, designed to allay fears that airstrikes alone will not solve the crisis.
The prime minister said there was no “perfect strategy” but added that the UK could not wait for the arrival of a stable government in Syria capable of tackling Isis. “There is a clear and present danger to the United Kingdom from [Isis], based in Iraq and Syria, planning attacks against our country,” he told MPs.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary England / UK Middle East Syria * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Queen will open the Church of England's General Synod today.
Joined by the Duke of Edinburgh, Her Majesty will attend a service at Westminster Abbey to mark the inauguration of the Tenth Synod. Each synod lasts five years.
It will be presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury Most Revd Justin Welby and a sermon will be delivered by Father Raniero Cantalamessa, Preacher to the Papal Household.
After the service the Queen will make her way to the inauguration ceremony in Church House, the Westminster headquarters of the Church of England.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK
The other [unusual request] involved a lady who came in and wanted to discuss a DIY funeral. After asking a few questions I enquired as to whom the funeral was for. ‘Me’, she said. Seeing the potential challenges of this I looked to establish if she had any children. ‘Yes,’ she said. ‘But they couldn’t face doing it.’ I pointed out the pitfall that if they couldn’t face it, then it would certainly be a tricky proposition with her no longer being around to help. There was a sudden look of comprehension as she said: ‘Oh my goodness, I’ve been such a fool – of course! But it’s been nice talking with you’.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * General Interest Humor / Trivia * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Eschatology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Centre-right opposition candidate Mauricio Macri is ahead in the presidential election run-off in Argentina, early results suggest.
With 18% of votes counted, Mr Macri, 56, has about 54.5% to his centre-left rival Daniel Scioli's 45.5%.
Loud cheers erupted at Mr Macri's campaign headquarters after TV exit polls suggested he had won.
A spokesman for Mr Scioli said they would wait for more complete figures to come in before commenting.
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“If ISIS is allowed to define the terms of this engagement then they’ve pretty much won the battle. We have to understand them and meet them where they’re coming from but not capitulate, not really surrender to the terror they’re trying to spread, because that’s the victory they are looking for,” says Rabbi Jack Moline, executive director of the Interfaith Alliance.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Media Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary Europe France * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Faiths Islam * Theology
The Church of England has said it is "disappointed and bewildered" by the refusal of leading UK cinemas to show an advert featuring the Lord's Prayer.
The Church called the decision "plain silly" and warned it could have a "chilling" effect on free speech.
It had hoped the 60-second film would be screened UK-wide before Christmas ahead of the new Star Wars film.
The agency that handles adverts for the cinemas said it could offend those of "differing faiths and no faith".
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Media Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life
“For such an attack, involving so many people, it must have been decided near the highest level,” said Claude Moniquet, a former French intelligence official who heads the European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center. The Islamic State’s military operation, whose senior leaders include numerous former military officials from Iraq, “would never let someone below them direct a strategic operation.”
The roots of the attacks — which struck France’s largest stadium, a crowded concert hall, and a series of restaurants and cafes — may be visible in the suspects’ path to radicalization.
While their stories vary — one had been a student, another a bus driver, another a bar owner — many came from Muslim families that were neither fundamentalist nor extreme. Their radicalization appears to have happened over just the past few years, or even a couple of months.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues Violence * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary Europe France * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology
Boko Haram has become the most deadly terrorist group in the world, killing more people in terrorist attacks in 2014 than ISIS, according to the 2015 Global Terrorism Index.
The GTI attributed more than 6,644 deaths to Boko Haram in 2014, with most attacks occurring in northeastern Nigeria. ISIS killed 6,073 in terrorist attacks in the same year, according to the report.
The GTI noted a 317 percent increase of terrorism deaths in Nigeria, the largest increase ever recorded by any country, where newly elected president Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to contain Boko Haram by the end of 2015.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Cameroon Chad Nigeria Middle East * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam
Mali once again reeled Friday under a terrorist attack, the latest violence in a country that has been racked by war for more than half a century. The current battle pits a confusing array of at least five Islamist groups against a weak central government supported by the former colonial power, France, as the United Nations seeks a diplomatic solution and offers military protection in some areas.
The latest attack, on the Radisson Blu hotel in the Mali capital of Bamako, takes on a special urgency as France tries to deal from last week's devastating Islamist militant violence that left 130 dead.
That attack was carried out by Islamic State, not known to be directly involved in Mali. But its supporters celebrated the Mali attack using the Twitter hashtags #IslamicState, #ParisIsBurning and #Mali_Is_Burning.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary Africa Mali * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam
At first it seems like a heartwarming partnership: Christians join with a prominent nonprofit that purports to save puppies and kittens. But this new movement, ostensibly aimed at reminding Christians of their duty to protect animals, is peddling a theologically questionable and overtly political agenda.
This fall appeared the initiative Every Living Thing, spearheaded by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), a national group that doesn’t manage local pet shelters, despite public perceptions. More than 1,000 Christians have signed a statement invoking the Bible to note that animals are an “especially vulnerable subset of all God’s creatures” that “can be most subject to irresponsible and cruel treatment by humans.”
For centuries Christians have debated animal theology. Last year newspapers reported incorrectly that Pope Francis had assured an aching young boy whose pet had died that “we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ.” Christine Gutleben, director of faith outreach at HSUS, said the pope’s comments seemed to imply “that animals have a soul.” As it turned out, the media mangled the facts. Pope Francis never said such a thing, though in the 1970s Pope Paul VI alluded—pastorally, not as a matter of doctrine—to the idea that all dogs go to heaven.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Energy, Natural Resources Politics in General * General Interest Animals * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
...in the United States, where neither Al Qaeda nor Islamic State has pulled off a major strike since Sept. 11, 2001. Despite the track record, FBI director James B. Comey has warned that Islamic State, an organization that was added to the agency's list of foreign terrorist groups only last year, is now in virtually every state.
"This is sort of the new normal," Comey said in July after announcing the arrests of 10 people believed linked to Islamic State plots, including some suspected of planning attacks to coincide with the July 4 holiday.
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And what about the Christians from the Middle East? Are they part of a resettlement plan into Europe or the United States? Sadly, the Department of State does not support a “special” category to bring, for example, Assyrian Christians into the United States, even though private donors have offered complete funding for the airfare and the resettlement in the United States of Assyrian and other Iraqi Christians. It is a particularly absurd irony for U.S. government officials to say that Christian refugees from the Middle East will not be supported because of their religious affiliation, even though it is precisely their religious affiliation that makes them candidates for asylum based upon a credible fear of ISIS persecution.
To the consternation of the United States and European Union officials (and much of the mainstream media), several EU countries have said that they will admit refugees from the Middle East, but only those who are Christians, and no Moslems need apply. Slovakia is one such country, and I have been informed that intra-governmental task forces in at least two other European nations are contemplating similar action, though no official actions have been announced. However, EU Commission spokeswoman Annika Breithard has stressed that EU states are banned from “any form of discrimination.” Thus, Christians from the Middle East have been driven out of their homes by ISIS and other terrorists, but are given little protection or safe havens as refugees, notwithstanding international law. Yes, we should watch and pray, but we must also remember our obligation from Galatians 6:10, which reads, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General Terrorism * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Europe Middle East * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Even after the Paris atrocities, the West still isn’t joining up the dots. The free world was shocked by 9/11, shocked by the 7/7 London bombings, shocked by the 2008 onslaught in Mumbai, shocked by January’s Paris massacres at Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket.
Now it is shocked by Isis, which it presents as “nihilists”. So they just happen to be the same type of nihilists as al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, Jaysh al-Islam and Boko Haram.
By an amazing coincidence, these all just happen to have the same aim: to spread Islam through holy war using the same tactics of shootings, stabbings, beheadings, disembowelling and human bomb attacks.
Theresa May fatuously said of the Paris attacks that they had “nothing to do with Islam”. David Cameron inched towards realism by saying on Monday night it was “not good enough” to “deny any connection between the religion of Islam and the extremist”. Yet on other occasions he says Islamic terror is a “perversion” of the religion.
Such contortions are an attempt to avoid lumping all Muslims together. But Islam is simply what Muslims practise.
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“It was like Kabul come to Paris,” said one doctor at a military hospital on the outskirts of Paris, as the city’s emergency medical teams responded to the gravest attack on French soil since the Second World War.
At least 415 people were wounded in last Friday’s attacks and rushed to 38 different hospitals in and around Paris.
The city put into action its “plan blanc”, a maximum level of mobilisation designed to deal with “exceptional medical scenarios”. It has been hailed as a testament to France’s renowned public hospitals system that only three of the injured victims are believed to have died in hospital, arresting the death toll at 129 when it could have been far higher.
Parisian hospitals had carried out a drill for a terrorist attack that morning, just hours before the real attacks took place. The “plan blanc”, devised in 2004 for just such a crisis, allowed staff to requisition nurses, surgeons, resuscitation staff, operating theatres, beds, ambulances and psychiatric services.
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Most importantly, we shouldn’t allow our domestic controversy over refugees to cloud the larger issue of what is driving the refugee crisis in the first place—a death cult with aspirations of regional or global dominance. Christian communities that have been in the Middle East since literally the Book of Acts are in danger of extinction, as are those who are in need of hearing the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.
We cannot love our neighbors at the same we’re standing aside and watching them be slaughtered. The Bible grants the state the power and mandate to use force to protect the innocent. That means both engaging ISIS with a strong military response and doing what is in our power to shield the innocent from terror. Anything less is not a sufficiently Christian response.
We cannot forget our brothers and sisters in peril. And we cannot seal ourselves off from our mission field. An entire generation of those fleeing genocide will be asking whether there is an alternative to the toxic religion they’ve seen.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Immigration Terrorism * International News & Commentary Middle East Syria * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
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In targeting Abdelhamid Abaaoud in a raid, French authorities aimed to remove from Islamic State’s ranks a prominent figure who they said blended his battlefield experience in Syria with a network of associates in Europe to mastermind one of the bloodiest terror attacks in French history.
In Syria, the Belgian was a military commander, or “emir of war,” in eastern Deir Ezzour province, according to local activists and news reports, an unusually high rank for a fighter who hailed from Europe. Friends from his early life in Brussels, in the predominantly Muslim district of Molenbeek, recall a “nice guy” who played soccer.
In Paris, officials say the 28-year-old militant assembled a potent arsenal that he planned to deploy against multiple additional targets—including Paris’ La Defense business district—following the attacks that investigators say he coordinated against a stadium, concert hall and other locales, killing 129 people.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary Europe Belgium France * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam * Theology
In other words, for most Evangelicals, Islam is the problem because it warrants the violence of jihadi groups. The claim is not without grounds. Contrary to repeated Muslim denials, key aspects of the ideology of radical violent Muslim groups are indeed rooted in Islamic texts and history. Al-Qaeda, IS, and Boko Haram have their origins mainly in Wahhabi and Salafi thought. These are traditions of fundamentalist Islamic interpretation that have widespread influence across the Muslim world. Founding leaders of jihadi groups have either been students of leading Wahhabi-Salafi scholars or were inspired by their works.
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‘Go forth into the world in peace; be of good courage; hold fast that which is good; render to no one evil for evil; strengthen the fainthearted; support the weak; help the afflicted; honour everyone; love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.’ (from the service for Remembrance Sunday SPCK)
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals Spirituality/Prayer * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military * Theology
As de Gaulle stated in a 1962 press conference:
I do not believe that Europe can have any living reality if it does not include France and her Frenchmen, Germany and its Germans, Italy and its Italians, and so forth. Dante, Goethe, Chateaubriand belong to all Europe to the very extent that they were respectively and eminently Italian, German, and French. They would not have served Europe very well if they had been stateless, or if they had thought and written in some type of integrated Esperanto or Volapük.It is hard to imagine contemporary European politicians speaking like this today. That illustrates the extent to which many European leaders—political, economic, and religious—and a good number of Europe’s citizens have invested their hopes in the bloodless administrative structures that promote top-down technocratic solutions to problems that simply cannot be solved through such means. The problem is that without an animating, morally uplifting vision—be it a humanism informed by and rooted in Judeo-Christianity, de Gaulle’s Europe des Patries, a confidence that one belongs to a civilization with a unique character worth preserving, or some combination of these things—Europe’s moral and cultural hollowing-out will continue amidst an Indian summer of managed decline and self-loathing. This makes it vulnerable to agitation from within, whether it’s from hard nationalists of right and left, or those who wish that the siege of Vienna and the battle of Tours had turned out differently.
At the end of his life, de Gaulle was pessimistic about Europe’s long-term fate. He didn’t think it would succumb to the then very real Soviet threat. Communism, he believed, contradicted key aspects of human nature; hence, it couldn’t last. But the death of European self-belief, already well advanced among many of Western Europe’s intellectuals, according to de Gaulle, was a far more serious long-term threat to Europe.
Unfortunately, I fear, le général will be proven right.
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Faith-based groups, who play a key role in resettling refugees to the United States, say they are dismayed by the wave of anti-refugee fervor set off by the Paris terrorist attacks and are urging supporters to contact elected officials on behalf of victims of the Syrian civil war.
Evangelical Christians, as well as Christians more broadly, are a core group in the Republican electoral base and are among the most passionate advocates for aiding refugees.
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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
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France, Russia and the U.S. moved beyond talk of cooperation and into the far more difficult realm of action, as the “grand and single coalition” French President François Hollande called for to combat Islamic State began coming into view.
President Barack Obama said Wednesday that if Russia shifts its military strategy in Syria to focus on Islamic State, the U.S. would welcome cooperation with Moscow on an intensified military campaign. He said he conveyed that message to Russian President Vladimir Putin in a meeting in Turkey earlier this week.
“That is something that we very much want to see,” Mr. Obama said while in the Philippines for a summit of Asian nations.
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Gunfire rang out in a northern Paris suburb Wednesday as police launched a massive predawn raid to capture at least seven suspects in last week’s Paris terrorist attacks, in an operation targeting a Belgian militant identified as a ringleader of the rampage.
French government spokesman Stephane Le Foll told reporters the seven-hour police raid was over around midday Wednesday.
One woman died when she detonated a suicide vest as police closed in on an apartment housing the suspects in the northern suburb of St. Denis, the French prosecutor’s office said.
In all, seven people were arrested and two suspects were killed, the prosecutor said.
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We tried everything to help Matthew, from acceptance and enabling to tough love, but the trajectory was not a good one and its ending has scarred and devastated our lives forever. I cannot say with certainty that if we had been able to force treatment on Matthew, including anti-psychotic medications, that he would have survived. In addition to suffering from anosognosia, Matthew became very religious after his break, embracing his Judaism, keeping kosher, and he was convinced that taking medication was dishonorable and would offend God.
But I do know that for many, treatment saves lives. The true insanity is that our laws leave those who suffer to fend for themselves. But Congress is now ready to grapple with the issue in a bipartisan bill introduced by Tim Murphy, a Republican from Pennsylvania and the only clinical psychologist in the House, and Eddie Bernice Johnson, a Democrat from Texas who is a psychiatric nurse.
The bill is not perfect. But it does many things to improve the financing, treatment and delivery of services across the range of mental illnesses, and in particular it has provisions aimed directly at helping those like my son.
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Nods and exhalations of “uh-huh” from the crowd give the brief sense of a revival meeting, making it easy to forget that Hayhoe is, first and foremost, a scientist. The 43-year-old Ph.D. made her name building localized statistical models (“downscaling,” in the argot of her field), which governments from California to Massachusetts use to prepare for a future onslaught of drought, or unprecedented rainfall. She currently heads up the Climate Science Center of Texas Tech University in Lubbock, and has contributed to reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Later this month, she’ll appear at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris on behalf of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a 46-year-old organization devoted to promoting a healthier, safer planet.
But here in the beating heart of Christian America, she’s an apostle of her discipline, faced with a daunting challenge. Of all U.S. religious groups, white evangelical Protestants are least likely to believe in human-caused planetary warming: Only 11 per cent accept the idea, compared to 46 per cent of the broader U.S. population. Yet no movement punches further above its political weight, bringing cash and votes to Republicans who voice their doubts and fears in Washington. If you belong to the 97 per cent of climate scientists who regard global warming as real, man-made and potentially catastrophic, this deep fracture in U.S. politics is an enormous problem.
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The truth is that the majority of Muslims are law abiding people who are horrified by the slaughter of innocents in Paris as much as anyone else. The truth though is also that all religions are not the same. We cannot separate Islam from the current crisis we face. We might like to think that it is possible to shoehorn all Islamic practice and theology into a culture of Judeo-Christian human rights, but it is not that simple. A poll earlier this year found that 3 in 10 Muslims think that their faith is incompatible with British values. Other surveys in recent years have found large minorities in favour of introducing Sharia law to the UK or that killing in the name of religion is justified. Our government is spending £40m a year on its Prevent strategy trying to stop the radicalisation of some of our Muslims in a way that our mosques are unable to do.
In an open and genuinely tolerant society, we should be able to ask the difficult questions of others with different views and beliefs and expect a productive dialogue that builds understanding and agreement. Instead we pussyfoot around too scared to criticise aspects of the Islamic faith in a way that we freely do with Christianity, for fear of being accused of Islamaphobia or racism or both.
Read it all and follow the links from the Archbishop Cranmer blog.
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Xavier Nogueras, a defense lawyer in Paris, represents twenty French citizens accused of jihadism. A few of his clients are violent and dangerous, he said, but many went to Syria out of idealism, wanting to defend other Muslims against the Assad regime and build an Islamic state. He argued that such people pose no threat to France and that the state shouldn’t permanently embitter them with years of detention. Nogueras resisted tracing his clients’ motives to social conditions in the banlieues. Few have criminal backgrounds; some had well-paid jobs in large French companies. “The most surprising thing to me is their immense humanity,” Nogueras said. He finds jihadists more interesting than the drug dealers and robbers he’s represented. “They have more to say—many more ideas. Their sacred book demands the application of Sharia, which tells them to cover their wives, not to live in secularism. And we are in a country that inevitably stigmatizes them, because it’s secular. They don’t feel at home here.”
I found the lawyer’s distinction between jihadism at home and abroad less than reassuring. Coulibaly’s faith could have led him to kill people in Paris or in Syria; violence driven by ideology could happen anywhere. The “idealism” of clients motivated to make Sharia universal law is, in some ways, more worrying than simple thuggery: even if France dedicates itself urgently to making its Muslims full-fledged children of the republic, a small minority of them will remain, on principle, irreconcilable.
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“The deductible, $3,000 a year, makes it impossible to actually go to the doctor,” said David R. Reines, 60, of Jefferson Township, N.J., a former hardware salesman with chronic knee pain. “We have insurance, but can’t afford to use it.”
In many states, more than half the plans offered for sale through HealthCare.gov, the federal online marketplace, have a deductible of $3,000 or more, a New York Times review has found. Those deductibles are causing concern among Democrats — and some Republican detractors of the health law, who once pushed high-deductible health plans in the belief that consumers would be more cost-conscious if they had more of a financial stake or skin in the game.
“We could not afford the deductible,” said Kevin Fanning, 59, who lives in North Texas, near Wichita Falls. “Basically I was paying for insurance I could not afford to use.”
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Once again, the world has been shocked by acts of unspeakable violence and brutality. Once again, the world mourns with the families and friends of victims of tragedy. Once again, the world searches for meaning and hope in the terrible wreckage left in the wake of such dehumanizing hatred, senseless bloodshed, and unparalleled loss.
In this time of grief, it is all too easy to see the path the world has laid out for us. It is the path of retributive justice, of reciprocate hatred, of fear and anger. This is the way the world moves; the way governments, militaries, and judicial systems function. But it is at this critical time that we must ask ourselves what our role must be in the aftermath of such tragedy.
The best we can possibly do is to look to the most enduring response to violence and death that there is. The death by crucifixion of Jesus Christ, some two thousand years ago. Unjust powers, motivated by anger and fear, murdered the very incarnation of God. What became of this greatest travesty? God forged it into the greatest triumph over evil that Creation has yet seen. And what of the one who became the victim in our place? “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
In the very darkest hour, Jesus called upon God for forgiveness. We see this message in his teachings, and then echoed in his living and his dying. Profound forgiveness. Profound mercy. Profound grace.
In 2006, an armed man entered a one-room Amish schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He shot ten girls between 6 and 13 years old, five of whom died, and then committed suicide. The response of the Amish community was swift. Within hours of the shooting, an Amish neighbor had visited the family of the gunman and offered comfort and forgiveness. Standing by the body of his murdered granddaughter, a grandfather told several young boys “We must not think evil of this man”. Some 30 of the Amish community attended the funeral of the assailant, and one of the few outsiders permitted to the funeral of one of the Amish girls was the man’s widow.
I sometimes wonder at the capacity of humankind for such forgiveness, but then I realise that I am merely wondering at God’s grace. I look back to the earliest words of the Bible and find that in Genesis 1:27 we were created in the image of God and that in verse 31 God saw everything that had been made and “it was supremely good”.
And, even though much has happened since God set those mighty intentions into play, I hold God’s words close from 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is enough for you, because power is made perfect in weakness.” And in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength”.
Perhaps it is in the darkest hours that the light shines out the brightest, that the vision of the kingdom is clearest, no matter how distant. The path to that kingdom is never so clearly laid, but the vision is there. It is a vision of all nations streaming forward, all division cast aside, all conflict passed, Jew and Gentile together.
So today I mourn for all the victims of this unthinkable violence. I mourn for their family. And their family is this world. Every last person is their neighbor. Every last person is a victim of this tragedy—violence is indeed an evil which harms both victim and perpetrator. I pray for the citizens of Paris, for the country of France, for Europe, for every country the world over, as they bow their heads from the weight of death and useless violence as it continues to visit itself upon brother after brother, sister after sister. I pray for healing, for forgiveness, and for hope in the hearts of the affected families. Wrong has been done, and there is not one person on this world who is not a victim of it.
And I pray that through it all, the goodness of God will continue to shine through. The goodness that was there at the moment of creation, that was created anew in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and that continues to be created as the kingdom of heaven struggles forth in the darkest of times and places.
I pray for forgiveness. I pray for grace. I pray for peace.
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French police raided more than 150 locations overnight as authorities released the names of two more potential suicide bombers involved in the Paris attacks— one born in Syria, the other a Frenchman wanted as part of a terrorism investigation.
The raids came as the hunt continued for members of the sleeper cell that carried out last Friday's gun and bomb attacks that killed 129 people and as France launched its heaviest airstrikes on the Islamic State group's de-facto capital in Syria.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Monday "we are at war" against terrorism.
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As the investigation into the deadly attacks on this city spiraled into a Europe-wide effort, French warplanes pounded the headquarters of Islamic State on Sunday in retaliation for what the government here said was the group's orchestration of the terrorist assault from its base in northern Syria.
The airstrikes by a dozen aircraft, including 10 fighter jets, destroyed a militant training camp and a command and weapons center in Islamic State's declared capital of Raqqah in Syria, the French Defense Ministry said.
It was the biggest such bombardment by France since the country expanded its aerial campaign against Islamic State in September, and was carried out with targeting information supplied by U.S. intelligence.
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“In the face of this brutality, the human family, all people of faith and of good will, must stand together to recommit to respecting and caring for one another, to protecting one another, and to preventing such violence."
“We cannot and do not accept that such a terrorist atrocity can ever be justified in the name of God or of any religion. Violence in the name of religion is violence against religion. We condemn, reject and denounce it. Let us confront it by holding firm to and upholding the democratic, intercultural and human rights values that this terrorism seeks to attack.”
Read it all and follow the links.
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Friday night’s terror attacks in Paris apparently began with a small extremist cell in Brussels, Belgium, where French authorities believe that the attacks were planned out and the operation financed, according to two U.S. federal law enforcement officials who have been advised about the ongoing French probe.
The U.S. sources, speaking confidentially because the investigation is just underway, stressed also that the attackers likely had a substantial understanding of French history culture and Paris in particular, and that it was “highly possible” some had lived in the French capital.
That, the sources said, was evident in how they seamlessly moved about the vast Paris metropolis and set up coordinated attacks at six separate targets – from a stadium to a theater to a restaurant.
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It was 100 years ago that John McCrae wrote his famous First World War poem In Flanders Fields. When he wrote the poem, McCrae was a major and a doctor with the Canadian military in Belgium.
Thanks in part to the famous opening lines from his poem—"In Flanders fields the poppies blow/Between the crosses, row on row"—poppies have become a symbol of remembrance for those killed in war.
To mark the 100th anniversary of the poem, the City of Guelph has created an interactive map journal that explores McCrae's birthplace, his life in the city, his military service and how he came write In Flanders Fields.
Read it all it is well worth the time.
t’s one of the most famous hymns in Christendom: “Eternal Father Strong to Save.” It’s often called “the Navy hymn” because it’s sung at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. But how many of us know the story behind this moving hymn?
The hymn’s author was an Anglican churchman named William Whiting, who was born in England in 1825. As a child, Whiting dodged in and out of the waves as they crashed along England’s shoreline. But years later, on a journey by sea, Whiting learned the true and terrifying power of those waves. A powerful storm blew in, so violent that the crew lost control of the vessel. During these desperate hours, as the waves roared over the decks, Whiting’s faith in God helped him to stay calm. When the storm subsided, the ship, badly damaged, limped back to port.
The experience had a galvanizing effect on Whiting. As one hymn historian put it, “Whiting was changed by this experience. He respected the power of the ocean nearly as much as he respected the God who made it and controls it.”
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This one is a complete wipeout--get the Kleenex and watch it all.
Look at them all (and note there is a slideshow option).
For the next 30 days, Edwards was made to sit, lie and crawl unprotected across open fields while gaseous clouds floated down on him and the other men with little to no medical attention. When the trial ended, Edwards was told never to speak of what had happened to him or he’d face 40 years in prison. He readily agreed, knowing that his claustrophobia would make life in a cell unbearable.
[Rollins] Edwards had no idea what happened to the other men in the study group. He rejoined his unit and was sent overseas with the Army’s 1329th Engineers, seeing duty in Europe and in the Pacific. The decay of his skin, however, had just begun.
Decades later, Edwards’ involvement would finally be acknowledged in 1993, when declassified government documents were released proving that military leaders had deliberately used their own soldiers to test the effects of exposure to mustard gas and other agents. As many as 60,000 enlisted men were subjected to similar such experiments, later investigations showed, though it’s widely accepted they primarily targeted black GIs, along with Puerto Rican and Japanese-American minorities as well.
Edwards, though, is one of the few in the test who survive.
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“When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say, For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today”
-- On many memorials to the dead in war worldwide, as for example that for the British 2nd Division at Kohima, India; there is a debate about its precise origins in terms of who first penned the lines
Watch it all, and, yes, you will likely need kleenex--KSH.
FAW: After deployment in Afghanistan, Navy reservist Witherspoon ended up living with her mother and felt, she says, like “damaged goods.”
WITHERSPOON: How did I become homeless? Like where do I begin to look? How do I pick up these pieces, because at that point I felt broken, like somebody just pushed me down, and I just fell apart.
FAW: Deployed abroad twice, Army reservist Chiquita Pena, whose husband was also abroad, was jobless and needed a place to live with her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Nayeli. Final Salute got her back on her feet.
PENA: We stereotype homelessness with, you know, for lack of a better term, a hobo or bum or someone who’s a wino or drinking on the street. This is the new face of homelessness.
Read or watch it all.
In a world tormented by tension and the possibilities of conflict, we meet in a quiet commemoration of an historic day of peace. In an age that threatens the survival of freedom, we join together to honor those who made our freedom possible. The resolution of the Congress which first proclaimed Armistice Day, described November 11, 1918, as the end of "the most destructive, sanguinary and far-reaching war in the history of human annals." That resolution expressed the hope that the First World War would be, in truth, the war to end all wars. It suggested that those men who had died had therefore not given their lives in vain.
It is a tragic fact that these hopes have not been fulfilled, that wars still more destructive and still more sanguinary followed, that man's capacity to devise new ways of killing his fellow men have far outstripped his capacity to live in peace with his fellow men.Some might say, therefore, that this day has lost its meaning, that the shadow of the new and deadly weapons have robbed this day of its great value, that whatever name we now give this day, whatever flags we fly or prayers we utter, it is too late to honor those who died before, and too soon to promise the living an end to organized death.
But let us not forget that November 11, 1918, signified a beginning, as well as an end. "The purpose of all war," said Augustine, "is peace." The First World War produced man's first great effort in recent times to solve by international cooperation the problems of war. That experiment continues in our present day -- still imperfect, still short of its responsibilities, but it does offer a hope that some day nations can live in harmony.
For our part, we shall achieve that peace only with patience and perseverance and courage -- the patience and perseverance necessary to work with allies of diverse interests but common goals, the courage necessary over a long period of time to overcome...[a skilled adversary].
Do please take a guess as to who it is and when it was, then click and read it all.
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My favorite resource--read it all.
Governor of Nations, our Strength and Shield:
we give you thanks for the devotion and courage
of all those who have offered military service for this country:
For those who have fought for freedom; for those who laid down their lives for others;
for those who have borne suffering of mind or of body;
for those who have brought their best gifts to times of need.
On our behalf they have entered into danger,
endured separation from those they love,
labored long hours, and borne hardship in war and in peacetime.
Lift up by your mighty Presence those who are now at war;
encourage and heal those in hospitals
or mending their wounds at home;
guard those in any need or trouble;
hold safely in your hands all military families;
and bring the returning troops to joyful reunion
and tranquil life at home;
Give to us, your people, grateful hearts
and a united will to honor these men and women
and hold them always in our love and our prayers;
until your world is perfected in peace
through Jesus Christ our Savior.
--The Rev. Jennifer Phillips
Watch it all.
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The interview starts at about 43;30 in--watch and listen to it all.
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From her dining room in suburban Atlanta, [Elaine] Riddick, 61, points to a half-inch scar above her right eye as she remembers the afternoon in 1967 when her life irrevocably changed. At age 13, Riddick was walking home in rural eastern North Carolina when a grown man from her small town attacked her: Riddick says he raped her and threatened to kill her if she told anyone. She stayed quiet.
A few weeks later, while she was picking cotton, Riddick vomited. She thought she had a virus, but when she started gaining weight, her grandmother took her to the county health department. The young girl was pregnant.
Instead of launching an investigation, welfare officials recommended doctors sterilize Riddick after she delivered her baby. They deemed her promiscuous and “feeble-minded.” Without benefit of a review or accountability process, the government declared Riddick at age 13 unfit ever to reproduce again.
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Amid the stresses of the dot-com bust and the Great Recession, it was only white Americans who turned increasingly to drugs, liquor and quietus.
Why only them? One possible solution is suggested by a paper from 2012, whose co-authors include Andrew Cherlin and Brad Wilcox, leading left and right-leaning scholars, respectively, of marriage and family.
Noting that religious practice has fallen faster recently among less-educated whites than among less-educated blacks and Hispanics, their paper argues that white social institutions, blue-collar as well as white-collar, have long reflected a “bourgeois moral logic” that binds employment, churchgoing, the nuclear family and upward mobility.
But in an era of stagnating wages, family breakdown, and social dislocation, this logic no longer seems to make as much sense.
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The current American landscape includes more liberal churches that are doing their best to join the sexual revolution and conservative churches that cannot follow. Simple honesty requires acknowledgment that it is the conservative churches that are teaching what Christianity has taught for two millennia.
We are told that holding to biblical authority and the historic Christian faith will lead to our marginalization.
Perhaps so, but it is the more liberal churches that have been hemorrhaging members by the millions for the last four decades and, even in a secularizing age, it is the most secularized denominations that have suffered the greatest membership losses.
We do understand what is at stake in terms of the human judgment of history, but we are far more concerned about the divine verdict of eternity.
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The old image of the “middle class” as an aspirational state of being – upward mobility coupled with a measure of financial stability – hasn’t disappeared. But it’s under stress as much as at any time in the postwar era. Fewer Americans these days call themselves middle class, and many who do use that label see it as a badge of struggle as much as a badge of opportunity.
The middle class is being redefined partly by demographics. In 1970, fully 40 percent of US households were married couples with at least one child under 18 years old. By 2012 that share had declined to 20 percent of US households – a shift that includes more single-parent breadwinners. It’s also being redefined by a changing job market – notably by the rising importance of education on résumés, as well as the disappearance of punch-the-timecard jobs in offices and factories that once produced comfortable lifestyles but were vulnerable to automation.
All this doesn’t mean that living standards for average middle-income families are languishing in a state of permanent deterioration. A good deal of evidence suggests that’s not the case. And while some deride the insecurity of the Gig Economy – the growing legions of people doing freelance, contract, temporary, or other independent work – the changing job market has a bright side for many Americans: greater flexibility, creativity, and self-determination for one’s career.
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Children and adults are being harmed by the widespread availability and use of pornography in society, the Bishop of Chester has warned.
The Rt Revd Peter Forster, leading a debate in the House of Lords on the impact of pornography on society, called for action in the face of evidence showing the damaging impact of pornograhy on adults as well as children and young people.
Speaking to peers, Bishop Peter highlighted the exposure of children to harmful sexualised content online.
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Women who were raped in churches are among the victims of mass atrocities perpetrated during South Sudan’s 22-month civil conflict, the long-awaited report of the African Union’s Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan, published last week, shows.
The Commission documents acts of “extreme cruelty”, including brutal killings, the mutilation of bodies, and forced cannibalism.
The abuses were conducted “in a systematic manner and in most cases with extreme brutality”, it says. Witnesses in Juba reported sexual violence against women committed by both parties to the conflict, and “extreme cruelty exercised through mutilation of bodies, burning of bodies, draining human blood from people who had just been killed and forcing others from one ethnic community to drink the blood or eat burnt human flesh”.
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Queensland's proposal to reinstate civil partnerships for straight and same-sex couples has received support from Anglicans and Baptists, while other Christians continue to oppose the move.
Of the 30 submissions to the parliamentary committee, most were in support of the return to civil partnerships which were established in the dying days of the Bligh government, but changed into registered relationships in one of the first acts of the Newman government.
The Palaszczuk government legislation would alter the name and once again allow state-sanctioned ceremonies for same-sex and straight couples.
Read it all from the Brisbane Times.
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For more than a half-century, St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Monroeville has played an important, if not unique, role in the life of our diocese as a whole, as I know it has for many of you individually. Its visibility along the Parkway provided the means to proclaim to thousands of drivers every day that Jesus is alive. It was a Spirit-charged community, and members of our clergy and lay leaders alike have been fostered by that charism. And, it was the final resting place for some of our departed sisters and brothers.
As I am sure you are aware, there has not been an active Episcopal Church congregation worshiping at St. Martin’s for several years and the diocese now intends to sell the property.
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The decision not to issue a licence meant he was unable to take up a post as a bereavement manager for the Nottinghamshire-based Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust.
He had claimed the acting Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, the Rt Revd Richard Inwood. had discriminated against him because of his sexual orientation.
However, the bishop told the tribunal that same-sex marriage was against the church's beliefs.
The clergyman, who took his claims to a tribunal in Nottingham, expressed disappointment at the tribunal's ruling but thanked those who have supported the legal action.
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There is a larger point here—that materialism works with a misleading picture of the human beings it seeks to liberate. Central to that humanity, to our fundamental sense of who we are, are our primal identities that, in turn, regularly link us to another anchor in our world—namely, transcendence. People stand on the earth but their heads are in the sky, and so too there is a middle conceptual term between the primordial and the transcendent—between blood and God—and that is the civic, the public square. Indeed, the national liberationists of Walzer’s tale were all committed to creating states that would include citizens not part of the national group (Indian Muslims, Algerian Berbers, Israeli Arabs). As a result, he says,
it makes little sense to claim that religious zealotry in Israel today follows naturally from the nationalism of the Labor Zionists. It follows instead, as it does in India, from the democracy that the Labor Zionists created and then from their failure to produce a strong and coherent secular culture to go with that democracy. The zealots represent the return of what was incompletely ‘negated.’So democratic civic life, known only to liberal nationalisms, gives rise to the antithesis of the liberal founders. Why is that? Because, as Walzer has powerfully argued for years, the best and most efficacious moral and political arguments are ones that “derive from or connect with the inherited culture of the people who need to be convinced.”
This is what the liberationists never squared up. They were nationalists, but nationalists of such a progressive cast of mind that they “imagined that they were struggling toward a single universal vision, with minor variations reflecting national/cultural difference.” Yet, as Walzer shows, “Particular engagements with particular cultures and histories . . . produce particular visions of secularism and modernity.” This means that “modern, secular liberation is ‘negotiated’ in each nation, in each religious community” and “a highly differentiated universe is the necessary outcome. . . . Traditionalist worldviews can’t be negated, abolished or banned; they have to be engaged.” In short, liberal nationalist elites cannot launch a nation out of its own culture, no matter how deeply they believe in their own version of universalism.
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The Ecumenical Patriarch His All Holiness Bartholomew has called for urgent action for climate justice ahead of the UN summit on climate change in Paris in December.
In a lecture held at Lambeth Palace as part of a two day visit, the 'green patriarch' spoke of the ethical and honourable obligation ahead of COP21:
"It is not too late to act, but we cannot afford to wait. We all agree on the necessity to protect the planet's natural resources …. and we are all in this together." The Patriarch urged cities, governments and individuals to voice opinions, make decisions and act to drive a new environmental ethos.
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A clergyman who was denied his permission to work with the Church of England after marrying his same sex partner was not discriminated against, a employment tribunal has ruled.
Canon Jeremy Pemberton, who was a member of the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham, had his permission to officiate (PTO) revoked in June 2014, after marrying his partner Laurence Cunnington in April last year.
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The Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham statement on the matter reads as follows:
The Employment Tribunal that heard the case brought by Jeremy Pemberton against Bishop Richard Inwood has released its findings, dismissing all the claims brought against the Bishop.Please note that there is a link to the full ruling at the bottom of the statement.
A spokesperson for the Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham said: “We are thankful to the tribunal for its work on this complex case and for its findings in favour of the former Acting Diocesan Bishop, the Rt Revd Richard Inwood, on all the claims made against him.
“We recognise that it has been a long and difficult process for all concerned, and we continue to hold them in our thoughts and prayers.
“Churches across the diocese continue to offer a generous welcome to people from all backgrounds. We remain engaged in the on-going shared conversations across the wider Church of England that are exploring questions relating to human sexuality.”
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Back in 1991, the proportion of US prime-age men who were neither in work nor looking for it was just 7 per cent. Thus the proportion of vanished would-be workers has risen by 5 percentage points since then. In the UK, the proportion of prime-aged men out of the labour force has risen only from 6 per cent to 8 per cent over this period. In France, it has gone from 5 to 7 per cent. So supposedly sclerotic French labour markets have done a better job of keeping prime-aged males in the labour force than flexible US ones. Moreover, male participation rates have been declining in the US since shortly after the second world war.
What has been happening to participation of prime-aged women is no less striking. In the US, female labour force participation rose strongly until 2000, when it was among the leaders. The US is the only G7 country to experience a sustained decline in the participation rate for prime-aged females since then. Japan, once far behind, has caught up....
The relentless decline in the proportion of prime-aged US adults in the labour market indicates a significant dysfunction. It deserves attention and analysis. But it also merits action.
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For the student at the center of the federal complaint and all other transgender students at the district's five high schools, the staff changes their names, genders and pronouns on school records. Transgender students also are allowed to use the bathrooms of their identified gender and play on the sports team of that gender, school officials said.
But officials drew the line at the locker room, citing the privacy rights of the other 12,000-plus students in the district. As a compromise, the district installed four privacy curtains in unused areas of the locker room and another one around the shower, but because the district would compel the student to use them, federal officials deemed the solution insufficient.
The dispute highlights a controversy that a growing number of school districts face as they struggle with an issue that few parents of today's teens encountered. The Department of Education has settled two similar allegations of discrimination of transgender students in California, with both districts eventually agreeing to allow the students to use female-designated facilities.
Read it allfrom the Chicago Tribune.
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
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A French doctor convicted last week of having given an elderly patient a lethal injection was hospitalized in critical condition on Saturday after apparently trying to commit suicide, according to media reports said....
The drama came seven days after the doctor, described in court as a “militant supporter of euthanasia,” was convicted of deliberately causing the death of an 86-year-old woman who was in a coma after suffering a severe stroke. Bonnemaison gave her a fatal dose of sedative, the court was told.
He was given a two-year suspended sentence in the woman's death, while cleared of six other charges of euthanasia involving elderly patients with fatal diseases at the hospital in Bayonne where he worked in 2010 and 2011.
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Record numbers of Syrian, Iraqi, and North African migrants have been flooding into Europe, generating a massive humanitarian crisis. Host Bob Abernethy and managing editor Kim Lawton talk with Sean Callahan, chief operating officer of Catholic Relief Services, about how faith-based groups are trying help the refugees and what the US can do to address the crisis. Says Callahan, “What we would like to do is see, at the call of Pope Francis, that we all open our doors a little bit more, and we expedite the process. Currently for the refugees to get in it takes about 18 to 24 months for them to be reviewed, and we’d like to expedite that, because these families are in tragic situations and really need to move quick.”
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Julie Lythcott-Haims noticed a disturbing trend during her decade as a dean of freshmen at Stanford University. Incoming students were brilliant and accomplished and virtually flawless, on paper. But with each year, more of them seemed incapable of taking care of themselves.
At the same time, parents were becoming more and more involved in their children’s lives. They talked to their children multiple times a day and swooped in to personally intervene anytime something difficult happened.
From her position at one of the world’s most prestigious schools, Lythcott-Haims came to believe that mothers and fathers in affluent communities have been hobbling their children by trying so hard to make sure they succeed, and by working so diligently to protect them from disappointment and failure and hardship.
Read it all from the Washington Post.
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Church leaders have expressed their anger at the government for denying them a say over new Sunday trading laws, in a major clash between ministers and bishops.
Senior aides to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, protested to ministers that the Church was not properly consulted before George Osborne announced plans to allow shops to open for longer on Sundays.
The Church of England now fears the government will attempt this week to sneak the new law through Parliament without it being scrutinised properly by the Anglican bishops who sit in the House of Lords.
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...ever-resilient Syrians strive to maintain some shreds of social cohesion amid an overriding sense of insecurity and uncertainty about the future.
Daily conversations on Skype, WhatsApp and other social media applications help people stay in touch with those scattered around the world. One exile has developed a cellphone app to show where his friends are, lights on the screen indicating far-flung locales.
"Every night we spend at least an hour on WhatsApp trying to catch up," says Elia Samman, who runs a waste management business in Damascus, the capital, but is a native of Homs, once the country's third-largest city.
Of nine Homs families his family was close to, he says, only three remain in Syria. The rest have left for Sweden, Germany, Egypt, Persian Gulf nations or other destinations.
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A Richland County jury on Friday afternoon socked a local bar with a $3.85 million negligence verdict in connection with the bar’s role in serving liquor to a drunk man who several hours later rammed his Jeep into a car, killing 6-year-old Emma Longstreet.
The jury, which began deliberations Thursday afternoon and broke for the night, deliberated more than eight hours in the civil case before reaching a verdict sometime before 4 p.m. Friday.
“Justice was served,” said Emma’s father, David Longstreet, who with his wife, Karen, their three children, and Kenny Sinchak, a motorist in another car, brought the lawsuit against the Loose Cockaboose Sports Bar.
The jury found the bar was serving liquor after a state-mandated closing time, and that it had served an obviously intoxicated Billy Patrick Hutto.
Several hours later, Hutto, a repeat DUI offender, ran a red light going 60 mph and slammed into the Longstreets’ car in Lexington County while they were on their way to church. Emma died later in a local hospital.
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Calling directly on the Prime Minister to increase his current offer to accept 20,000 refugees over the next 5 years to 50,000 the Bishops write:
"We believe such is this country's great tradition of sanctuary and generosity of spirit that we could feasibly resettle at least 10,000 people a year for the next two years, rising to a minimum of 50,000 in total over the five year period you foresaw in your announcement. Such a number would bring us into line with comparable commitments made by other countries. It would be a meaningful and substantial response to the scale of human suffering we see daily."
In addition to "recognising and applauding" the announcements made by the Prime Minister the Bishops offer help from the Church of England in encouraging their churches to provide welcome, housing and foster care to refugees as well as to support the Government in its ongoing efforts.
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The U.S. Department of Justice has established a new office to coordinate investigations into homegrown attacks, something civil rights advocates say is a partial response to Dylann Roof and the mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church.
“It very likely took the Charleston massacre to make this a reality,” said Mark Potok, spokesman for the Southern Poverty Law Center, of the newly created position of Domestic Terrorism Counsel.
Potok said that for much of the past decade, the focus of federal law enforcement has been on foreign terror threats, such as al-Qaida and ISIS. The Justice Department’s move this week represents a return of focus onto warnings that rise at home.
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"It started so normal, the day that is," Mintz said on his Facebook post.
Mintz was in his writing class, chuckling with the teacher and other students, when commotion broke out in another room.
"My teacher walked up to the door that connected our classroom and asked if everyone was OK," he said. "No one could tell what the yelling was."
When the teacher knocked, gunshots erupted, like firecrackers. His classmates took off running.
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In the United States today, thousands of children under 18 have recently taken marital vows — mostly girls married to adult men, often with approval from local judges. In at least one case, a 10-year-old boy was legally married.
How is this possible? The minimum marriage age in most states is 18, but every state allows exceptions under which children under age 18 can wed.
The first common exception is for children marrying with “parental consent.” Most states allow children age 16 or 17 to marry if their parents sign the marriage license application.
Of course, one person’s “parental consent” can be another’s “parental coercion,” but state laws typically do not call for anyone to investigate whether a child is marrying willingly. Even in the case of a girl’s sobbing openly while her parents sign the application and force her into marriage, the clerk usually has no authority to intervene. In fact, in most states there are no laws that specifically forbid forced marriage.
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Canon Malcolm Bradshaw, of St Paul's Athens, reports on the emerging ecumenical cooperation in Greece with regard to assistance for refugees. This emerging coordination is a fruit of much Anglican initiative.
On the morning of Thursday 15 October six Christian agencies and Churches came together in the offices of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNCHR), Athens, to learn what each one was doing in the face of the refugee crisis. They were able to share information on the resources that each may have and to explore the possibility of working more cohesively and effectively.
Around the table were Apostoli (the centre for the welfare work of the Orthodox Archdiocese of Athens), International Orthodox Christian Charities, the Jesuit Refugee Service, Caritas, the Salvation Army, the Greek Evangelical Church, the Anglican Chaplaincy in Athens (who joined by representatives of Anglican Alliance and Us) and a representative from UNCHR. All welcomed greatly the opportunity to be informed of what each Church was doing and something of the resources each could bring to the table.
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We're all painfully aware of the toll binge drinking takes on the body but what may be less known is the damage it inflicts on the economy.
Excessive drinking cost the U.S. $249 billion in 2010, or $2.05 per drink, according to a newly-released study by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a significant increase from $223.5 billion, or $1.90 per drink, in 2006.
The financial toll on the economy stems in part from reduced workplace productivity - in other words, hangovers. Crime, accidents and the cost of treating people for health problems caused by excessive drinking also add to the cost.
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Charleston, New Orleans, Miami and other low-lying cities will be mostly under water by the end of this century unless global carbon emissions are dramatically reduced soon, a new study says.
Published [this past] Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study found that carbon emissions already have locked in at least 5 feet of sea rise by 2100.
But without drastic cuts in emissions, seas could eventually rise by 20 feet or more, the study found. Such an increase would affect at least 20 million coastal residents. Coastal South Carolina, Florida and Louisiana would be particularly hard hit.
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A British wife who took her five children to Syria to join Islamic State is trying to flee the country, complaining that the other women there have a violent “gangster” mentality.
Shukee Begum, 33, from Manchester, took her children, all aged under nine, to Syria last year to join her husband, Jamal al-Harith, an Isis fighter and former detainee at Guantanamo Bay.
She later fled Isis territory, but said that she and her children were held by smugglers for a number of months in Aleppo and close to the Turkish border before they were released. The circumstances of her release are unclear. According to Channel 4 news, rebels from Nusra Front, which is affiliated to al-Qaeda, intervened to facilitate it.
Ms Begum is trying to escape Syria, saying that she was shocked by the behaviour of single women in Isis, who revelled in its brutal executions.
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The Church of England should ask the Government to find more money to support listed churches and cathedrals, a report has recommended.
The Church Buildings Review Group, which was set up under the Reform and Renewal programme earlier this year, and chaired by the Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge, set out the proposal in a report released on Tuesday.
Although the report noted "conspicuous success" in recent years in securing state funds for church buildings, it urged the C of E and the Government to find new ways of funnelling money into maintaining the 16,000 churches under the Church’s care.
"By European standards, the Church of England bears an unusually heavy financial burden of maintaining part of the nation’s built heritage," the report says.
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The Taliban insurgency has spread through more of Afghanistan than at any point since 2001, according to data compiled by the United Nations as well as interviews with numerous local officials in areas under threat.
In addition, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan over the past two weeks has evacuated four of its 13 provincial offices around the country — the most it has ever done for security reasons — according to local officials in the affected areas.
The data, compiled in early September — even before the latest surge in violence in northern Afghanistan — showed that United Nations security officials had already rated the threat level in about half of the country’s administrative districts as either “high” or “extreme,” more than at any time since the American invasion ousted the Taliban in 2001.
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Britain’s shallow, celebrity-obsessed culture could leave as toxic a legacy for future generations as the pollution of the planet, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Williams of Oystermouth has warned.
Today’s children are growing up in a culture with few if any real “heroes”, he said, while ideas of “nobility” and even “honour” are quietly disappearing.
The result could be as damaging to the nation’s “moral and imaginative ecology” as the destruction of the environment, he argued.
Britain is in danger of become a more “boring” and “mean-minded” place as a result, he added.
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Reflecting on the geographical make-up of the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop explained that the average Anglican today is “an African woman in her thirties, living in sub-Saharan Africa on less than four dollars a day.”
By comparison Anglicans in the global north have become “the exception”, he said, adding: “On the whole we are, to use Pope Francis’ phrase, a poor church with the poor.”
Asked about the challenges facing such a diverse Communion in the 21st century, the Archbishop highlighted the way that technology has intensified global awareness of diversity.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, explained how Anglican churches are “deeply involved” in reconciliation work in conflict zones around the world, during an interview at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington.
The Archbishop also said the mainstreams of all faiths must “challenge and subvert” radicalisation and religiously-motived violence within their traditions.
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On his calls for gun control on a personal level rather than a legal level
Ultimately, we'll all make the decision what we will do, whether we'll own a lethal weapon and use it or not. We've had a long discussion in this country — decades-long — on gun control, that is government gun control. For me, this is a question of self-control regardless of what the law may allow me to do. I appeal to a higher law. ... I've said publicly, that in our respecting of the Second Amendment, we have to be very careful we don't break the second commandment, which is the commandment against idolatry. We can set up our own idolatry when we declare ourselves the arbiters of right and wrong, and especially, of the value of a human life.
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Oil is the black gold that funds Isis’ black flag — it fuels its war machine, provides electricity and gives the fanatical jihadis critical leverage against their neighbours.
But more than a year after US President Barack Obama launched an international coalition to fight Isis, the bustling trade at al-Omar and at least eight other fields has come to symbolise the dilemma the campaign faces: how to bring down the “caliphate” without destabilising the life of the estimated 10m civilians in areas under Isis control, and punishing the west’s allies?
The resilience of Isis, and the weakness of the US-led campaign, have given Russia a pretext to launch its own, bold intervention in Syria.
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US President Barack Obama has announced that US armed forces have been deployed to Cameroon to help fight against the Islamist militants Boko Haram.
The force, which will be 300 strong, will conduct airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations in the region.
Cameroon and Chad have been targeted by the Islamist militants from northern Nigeria.
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In a small side hall inside a ministry building, a group of young developers and artists huddled over their laptops. Half-filled Fanta and Coke bottles sat forgotten in the center of the table as the group worked in studied concentration while gospel music played in the background. With crumpled candy wrappers lying nearby, the scene was reminiscent of a college dorm hall or cafeteria. But but rather than cramming for exams, these young Kenyans were trying to hack government corruption.
“Corruption has affected everybody in the country directly,” said software developer Brian Birir, a lead organizer for the event last weekend. “It’s something that’s really impeding the development of our country. And it’s in our churches. But very few people are actually fighting it.”
In Nairobi — a city of heavily charismatic and evangelical Christian faiths — religion and technology, two of its most robust economies, don’t always know how to speak to each other.
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Mussie Zerai was once a refugee.
Now the 40-year-old Roman Catholic priest from Eritrea, helps migrants trapped in the North African deserts and rickety wooden boats drifting across the Mediterranean Sea.
“It is my duty and moral obligation as a priest to help these people,” Zerai said in a telephone interview. “For me it’s simple: Jesus said we must love one another as we love ourselves.”
The little-known priest, now based in Rome and Switzerland, was among this year’s nominees for the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize, along with Pope Francis. (The prize, announced Friday, was awarded to the National Dialogue Quartet, which helped build a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia.)
Zerai runs a center that receives calls from distressed migrants who have fled their countries in hopes of finding a better life in Europe. He relays refugees’ GPS coordinates to coast guard and naval authorities so they can launch rescue operations.
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As part of its Reform and Renewal programme, which was debated in the General Synod in February, the Church of England has today published a report and launched a consultation on proposals to improve the support for its 16,000 church buildings.
The report comes from the Church Buildings review group, which was chaired by the Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Revd Dr John Inge. It constitutes the first attempt in many years to undertake a comprehensive review of the Church of England's stewardship of its church buildings and includes a wide range of statistics, a substantial theological reflection and a survey of various initiatives being taken in individual dioceses. The report goes on to identify a number of principles that should shape the Church's approach and makes some specific recommendations.
The review notes that more than three quarters of the Church of England's churches are listed, and the Church of England is responsible for nearly half of the grade I listed buildings in England. More than half of churches are in rural areas (where 17% of the population lives) and more than 90% of these are listed.
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