Posted by Kendall Harmon

A coalition of institutional investors with $4trn under management, led by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, as trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund (CRF), and the Church Commissioners for England, have again asked ExxonMobil to disclose how it will ensure its business will remain resilient as global efforts to mitigate climate change proceed.

The CRF and the Church Commissioners filed a similar proposal for consideration at Exxon's 2016 annual meeting. Despite Exxon's unsuccessful attempt to exclude the proposal from a vote at the meeting, it received support from 38.2% of voting shareholders, a record for a climate change resolution at the company.

"As investors, we are concerned that, unlike many of its peers, Exxon has not taken the steps necessary to demonstrate its resilience in a lower carbon future," DiNapoli said. "We want to know what Exxon's strategy is for continued profitability as governments around the world live up to their commitment to the Paris Agreement 2 degree scenario."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock MarketEnergy, Natural Resources* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 23, 2017 at 4:41 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The community standards state: "Facebook removes hate speech, which includes content that directly attacks people based on their: race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender, or gender identity, or serious disabilities or diseases."

Johnston's post only cited Scripture and did not directly attack any person.

The Ohio mother contended that with the way the Facebook algorithm is set up is that all that is needed for her account to be frozen is for liberal trolls and LGBT activists to report her account.

Read it all from the Christian Post.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture


Posted February 23, 2017 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The plain truth is that the Washington religious liberty case is going to be resolved in favor of the proprietor of the business, as it should be.

We need to be as deferential as we can to the rights of conscience, especially as they pertain to small/family businesses. I wouldn’t want the state to harshly fine me if I declined to arrange flowers for the Westboro Baptist Church’s annual banquet.

Progressives are fighting a losing battle, and the optics of financially ruining a 72-year-old grandmother are terrible. If progressives are on the right side of history and we are just moments away from same sex unions being celebrated as marriages by virtually everyone of every faith, then find another florist and leave this poor lady alone.

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture


Posted February 18, 2017 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Like I keep saying: this may not be the end of the world, but it is the end of a world. When the might of the State of Washington and the American Civil Liberties Union comes down on the head of gentle, grandmotherly, small-town florist, and seeks her ruin for declining to arrange flowers for a gay wedding, you know that we are dealing with a bottomless well of hatred. You know exactly what we are dealing with here. So, prepare. We are all going to be asked to pay the cost of discipleship. When I interviewed her last summer, Stutzman said to me: “If they can come after me, they can go after anybody.”

True. Expect no justice, tolerance, mercy, or love in these matters. The Religious Right Must Lose. Alliance Defending Freedom, the religious liberty legal organization representing Barronnelle pro bono, is taking tax-free donations to help pay for her defense. If the US Supreme Court refuses to hear the case, or rules against her, the Christian community nationwide will need to step up to pay her fine, and to reward her for having stood in the crucible and held firm, despite the contempt heaped on her head. Today its Barronelle Stutzman; tomorrow it might be you. And one day, it probably will.

I’ll say one more thing here. As regular readers know, I do not like Donald Trump and do not like the glee with which so many of my fellow conservatives view his trashing of longstanding rules and conventions of political behavior. Trump is tearing things down, but what will be left after he’s done that? Having said that, when I contemplate a system and a society that is willing to pour everything it has into crushing a little old Southern Baptist lady who arranges flowers for a living, I find that I have very little enthusiasm for defending that system. A society that would do this to a Barronnelle Stutzman is a corrupt and unjust society. At times like this, it is hard not to adopt a “let the dead bury the dead” attitude toward the whole.

Make sure to take the time to it all and watch the video.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture


Posted February 18, 2017 at 9:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More American employees are working remotely, and they’re doing so for longer periods of time, according to a Gallup survey released on Wednesday.

Last year, 43 percent of employed Americans said they spent at least some time working remotely, according to the survey of more than 15,000 adults.

That represents a 4 percentage point increase since 2012, a shift that meets the demands of many job seekers.

“Gallup consistently has found that flexible scheduling and work-from-home opportunities play a major role in an employee’s decision to take or leave a job,” the polling agency wrote in a report on those and other workplace findings.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetHistoryScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 16, 2017 at 8:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Watch it all. The film is available on Netflix for those interested.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPrison/Prison MinistryRace/Race Relations* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted February 11, 2017 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Transforming Work is an innovative, liberating resource for Christians in the workplace - whether you've been working for one year or forty years - offering a distinctive blend of ingredients. It brings together a group of like-hearted people for eight sessions over a year, creating space between gatherings to reflect, to try things out, and to pray... and leaving time for seeds to grow, discoveries to be made, change to happen and for God to do what only he can do.

You may find out more about this there.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted February 10, 2017 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Wofford College president Ben Dunlap tells the story of Sandor Teszler, a Hungarian Holocaust survivor who taught him about passionate living and lifelong learning.

One of my friends recommended this--it is quite energizing and challenging; KSH.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationMusicRace/Race Relations* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEuropeHungary* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropology

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Posted February 7, 2017 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There is growing concern about the impact of automation on employment - or in crude terms - the threat that robots will eat our jobs.
But if you want to see how important robotics and artificial intelligence can be to a business Ocado is a good place to start.
"Without it we simply couldn't do what we do at this scale," the online retailer's chief technology officer Paul Clarke told me. With margins in the supermarket business wafer thin, continually bearing down on costs and waste has been vital.
At its Hatfield distribution centre I got a glimpse of how far the process of automating the sorting of thousands of grocery orders has come. For now, you will struggle to spot a robot - unless you count a machine that inserts plastic shopping bags into crates - but software is doing a very complex job of sending the right goods in the right crates to the right human pickers.

Read it all (video recommended if you have the time).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 7, 2017 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

No one in the airline industry comes close to Virgin America Inc. on a measurement of efficiency called revenue per employee. That’s because baggage delivery, heavy maintenance, reservations, catering and many other jobs aren’t done by employees. Virgin America uses contractors.

“We will outsource every job that we can that is not customer-facing,” David Cush, the airline’s chief executive, told investors last March. In April, he helped sell Virgin America to Alaska Air Group Inc. for $2.6 billion, more than double its value in late 2014. He left when the takeover was completed in December.

Never before have American companies tried so hard to employ so few people. The outsourcing wave that moved apparel-making jobs to China and call-center operations to India is now just as likely to happen inside companies across the U.S. and in almost every industry.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

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Posted February 2, 2017 at 4:54 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Joshua Ryan Butler, pastor of local and global outreach at Imago Dei Community in Portland, Oregon

I want to change the world. But in the process, I’m tempted to see people as a means-to-an-end rather than servants to be discipled deeper into life with Jesus.

When this happens, I find myself using manipulation and guilt as tools to mobilize volunteers. Instead, I want to emphasize the beauty and grandeur of Christ, and use the tools of celebrating who he is and what he has done to draw others to embody his love and serve the world—because they want to, not because they have to.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 31, 2017 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Massive collections of fake accounts are lying dormant on Twitter, suggests research.
The largest network ties together more than 350,000 accounts and further work suggests others may be even bigger.
UK researchers accidentally uncovered the lurking networks while probing Twitter to see how people use it.
Some of the accounts have been used to fake follower numbers, send spam and boost interest in trending topics.

Read it all.

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

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Posted January 29, 2017 at 3:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We all know the stereotype: silly millennials, tethered to their phones, unable to accomplish the simplest tasks without scrolling their Instagram feeds, snapping their friends and/or tweeting inanely.

But a Nielsen report released last week shows that Americans from 18 to 34 are less obsessed with social media than are some of their older peers.

Adults 35 to 49 were found to spend an average of 6 hours 58 minutes a week on social media, compared with 6 hours 19 minutes a week for their younger counterparts. More predictably, adults 50 and over spent significantly less time on social media, with an average of 4 hours 9 minutes a week on the networks.

Sean Casey, the president of Nielsen’s social division, said that the finding had initially surprised him, because “the going thought is that social is vastly owned by the younger generation.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingPsychologyScience & TechnologyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 27, 2017 at 11:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While the introduction of the Siri virtual assistant in 2011 gave Apple an early presence in AI for consumers, it has since lost ground to rivals such as Google and Amazon. Apple’s penchant for secrecy limited its efforts to improve AI offerings and hire the best talent. That’s because researchers in the field like to publish their findings, something Apple frowned upon in the past. That approach began to change late last year with the hiring of Carnegie Mellon Professor Russ Salakhutdinov and the publishing of its first public AI paper.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 25, 2017 at 7:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fortune Magazine once dubbed [John] Arnold “one of the least-known billionaires in the US.” His profile in the public consciousness is almost nonexistent, and he rarely gives interviews. But among hedge funders and energy traders, Arnold is a legend. John D’Agostino, former head of strategy of the New York Mercantile Exchange, says that in Arnold’s heyday, people in the industry would discuss him in “hushed and reverent tones.” In 2006, Centaurus reportedly saw returns of over 300 percent; the next year Arnold became the youngest billionaire in the country. “If Arnold decided he wanted to beat hunger,” D’Agostino says, “I wouldn’t want to bet on hunger.”

For all the swagger of that description, Arnold himself has virtually none. He is universally described as quiet and introspective. At Enron, a company famous for its brash, testosterone-laced cowboy culture, the perennially boyish-looking trader was reportedly so soft-spoken that his colleagues had to gather in close to hear him at restaurants. “People would read into it, and they would say he’s just being cagey,” D’Agostino says. “And then, after a couple of years, people were like, oh, no, he’s actually like that.”

Read it all from Wired.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock MarketEnergy, Natural Resources* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 25, 2017 at 11:36 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A recently released report says medical debt is the No. 1 reason consumers reported being contacted by a collection agency. If efforts to overhaul the Affordable Care Act result in more people losing their coverage, those numbers could rise.

The study by the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that 59 percent of people who reported they had been contacted by a debt collector said it was for medical services. Telecommunications bills were the second most common type of overdue bill for which debt collectors pursued payment, at 37 percent, and utilities were third, reported by 28 percent.

Unlike other types of debt, people with medical debt were prevalent across a range of income levels, credit scores and ages. A poll conducted in 2015 by NPR, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that many people with health insurance still struggle to pay medical bills. Some 26 percent said health care expenses have taken a serious toll on family finances.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 24, 2017 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In his first full-length book, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby looks at the subject of money and materialism.

Designed for study in the weeks of Lent leading up to Easter, Dethroning Mammon reflects on the impact of our own attitudes, and of the pressures that surround us; on how we handle the power of money, called Mammon in this book. Who will be on the throne of our lives? Who will direct our actions and attitudes? Is it Jesus Christ, who brings truth, hope and freedom? Or is it Mammon, so attractive, so clear, but leading us into paths that tangle, trip and deceive?

Read it all and you can read an extract there.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchBooksPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted January 20, 2017 at 3:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England’s briefing paper was drawn up by its mission and public affairs council, led by Philip Fletcher, and its environment working group, chaired by the Bishop of Salisbury. It is being issued to environmental officers in every diocese and is intended to help to inform bishops and other leading clergy as the church is increasingly pressured by local campaigners to take a stand.

The document says fracking can be “a morally acceptable practice” if it forms part of a transition to a greener economy and is subject to robust regulation and planning procedures. “Having concluded that shale gas may be a useful component in transitioning to a low carbon economy, we are persuaded that a robust planning and regulatory regime could be constructed,” it says.

It also says it is “essential” that legitimate concerns of those who face disruption from fracking are heard and that “appropriate protections and compensation are in place”.

Read it all (subscription required).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 19, 2017 at 11:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

By the time the ordeal ended, 10 hours later, 22 people, including two police officers, were dead, the restaurant spattered with blood and shattered glass.

For months, Dhaka’s diplomatic quarter was a spooked place. Restaurants were empty night after night. Foreigners no longer left the safety of their compounds. Young Bangladeshis found themselves wondering who they could trust: Several of the terrorists came from wealthy, cosmopolitan families, not so different from the young elites who died in the siege.

In an effort to break this trance, the restaurant’s owners decided to reopen the Holey, known for its flour-dusted baguettes and homemade pasta. One of the owners, Ali Arsalan, said he was inspired in part by the staff: When he paid them two months’ salary and suggested they return to their villages to recover from the trauma, they said they would prefer to go back to work

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDieting/Food/NutritionUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAsiaBangladesh* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted January 12, 2017 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For a nation struggling to make sense of deflation, duty and the shock of a graduate trainee being worked to death at one of Japan’s most prestigious companies, “Premium Friday” seems to provide a glimmer of hope.

Following revelations of ruinously excessive overtime demands at Japan’s largest advertising agency, Dentsu, the government wants bosses to order their overworked and under-slept employees home at 3pm on the last Friday of every month.

Proponents of the idea, which include the powerful Keidanren business lobby, argue that workers could use the time for recuperative snoozing or enjoy more leisure activities and rev the economy out of deflation.

It may not, say many labour experts, be quite that simple.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineHistoryPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAsiaJapan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 12, 2017 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Thirteen leading international asset owners and five asset managers with over £2 trillion under management launched the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) today to better understand how the transition to a low-carbon economy affects their investments. The TPI will assess how individual companies are positioning themselves for the transition to a low-carbon economy through a public, transparent online tool. The heads of funds involved launched the Initiative this morning at the opening of the stock market at the London Stock Exchange.

The Initiative has been led by the Church of England's National Investing Bodies and the Environment Agency Pension Fund in partnership with the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics. Data has been provided by FTSE Russell.

Preliminary assessments released today include the oil and gas and electricity utilities sectors. As part of a phased rollout, management quality and carbon performance assessments of additional sectors and individual companies will follow in the coming months.

Read it all from the C of E.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock MarketEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 12, 2017 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On the surface, Hollywood is a land of loose morals, where materialism rules, sex and drugs are celebrated on screen (and off), and power players can have a distant relationship with the truth. But movie studios and their partners have quietly — very quietly, sometimes to the degree of a black ops endeavor — been building deep connections to Christian filmgoers who dwell elsewhere on the spectrum of politics and social values. In doing so, they have tapped churches, military groups, right-leaning bloggers and, particularly, a fraternity of marketing specialists who cut their teeth on overtly religious movies but now put their influence behind mainstream works like “Frozen,” “The Conjuring,” “Sully” and “Hidden Figures.”

The marketers are writing bullet points for sermons, providing footage for television screens mounted in sanctuaries and proposing Sunday school lesson plans. In some cases, studios are even flying actors, costume designers and producers to megachurch discussion groups.

Hollywood’s awareness of its need to pay better attention to flyover-state audiences has grown even more urgent of late, as ultraliberal movie executives, shocked to see a celebrity-encircled Hillary Clinton lose the presidential election to Donald J. Trump, have realized the degree to which they are out of touch with a vast pool of Americans. Tens of millions of voters did not care what stars had to say in support of Mrs. Clinton.

Read it all.

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

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Posted January 9, 2017 at 4:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[SCOTT] SIMON: What are some of the reasons you think more people's families, I guess I should - I almost said why more people are choosing to be cremated. And that might technically be true - but usually after their death.

[BARBARA] KEMMIS: So cremation is simply cheaper than burial. Of course, when you consider a funeral or a memorial service or celebration-of-life expenses, those are extra. And consumers also report that they see extra value with cremation and that they have more flexibility. To put it bluntly, death, even when it's anticipated, is inconvenient.

We don't want to lose our loved ones. We don't want to drop everything and gather and grieve and do what we need to do. But we must. And we can do that. But as families are spread across the country in various states, it's more and more difficult to bring people together on short notice. Cremation can expand the timeframe of grieving and memorializing your loved one.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEschatology

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Posted January 9, 2017 at 8:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




[Sebastian] Kahl wanted to go to the service at the Memorial Church, not just because of what he and his girlfriend went through, but also out of respect for the fates suffered by others. A gesture of compassion. But then he hears the news that the police have arrested the wrong man. His girlfriend is afraid that the terrorist is still running around in the city and that he could kill again and the couple remains at home. They both want to spend Christmas with their families and Kahl feels he has much to be grateful for. He sees his survival akin to "being born again."

5:20 p.m., Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

It is 40 minutes before the services are set to begin, but so many people have come that police have already had to close the church to non-invited guests. The benches inside are full. The closer the hour comes, the more anxious the mood in front of the church becomes. An interpreter tells the heavily armed police that she has to go inside because otherwise the journalists who have traveled from France won't know what is being said from the altar. Some visitors are so brazen that they try to sneak between the Christmas market stalls toward the church entrance. But they don't get far and the police officers react angrily.

A group from the Muslim community Ahmadiyya shows up wearing T-shirts reading: "Love for all, hate for none." When Aiman Mazyek, of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, is allowed to pass with a small entourage, two women standing in front of the church snap: "Of course the Muslims are allowed in."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsAdventChristmas* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 24, 2016 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Churches, parishes, and indi­viduals will be urged next spring to join a global disinvestment mobil­isa­tion to end the dependence on fossil fuels.

The campaign Bright Now will launch the event next May to increase pressure on big investors to move their money away from coal, oil, and gas producers into green-energy technologies.

The campaign, which is run by a Christian charity that campaigns on climate change, Operation Noah, is putting together a resource for churches on how they can disinvest from fossil fuels and reinvest in renewable energy.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchCharities/Non-Profit OrganizationsReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeStock MarketEnergy, Natural Resources* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 23, 2016 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a year when U.S. restaurant chains have bemoaned sluggish traffic, competition from supermarket food and even the chilling effect of the presidential election, one area has continued to thrive: pizza.

Shares of Domino’s Pizza Inc. are up 45 percent this year. And Papa John’s International Inc. is up more than 60 percent. Compare that with a 3.4 percent gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Restaurants Index.

The reasons are pizza is cheap, fast and increasingly easy to get -- thanks to user-friendly mobile-ordering apps and technology that lets diners order from Facebook, Twitter and Apple TV. That’s helped insulate pizza chains from a shift away from eating out.

Read it all.

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

2 Comments
Posted December 22, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Twelve people were killed and more than 45 others injured Monday evening when a 40-ton truck from Poland crashed into a popular outdoor Christmas market in the heart of Berlin and smashed its way about 80 yards through the crowd.

Police said they were still investigating whether it was an intentional attack on the holiday market at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, one of dozens of cherished holiday markets across the city where hundreds of people gather for drinks, snacks and a chance to shop for handmade gifts.

U.S. National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said the U.S. condemned the “horrific incident,” which he said “appears to have been a terrorist attack.”

The incident came on the same day that Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was shot to death in Ankara, and three people were shot and wounded near a Muslim prayer center in the Swiss city of Zurich.

Read it all and the Telegraph has live updates there.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 20, 2016 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Innovative leadership happens in the space between style and substance.

It happens in the middle territory between foundational theology on one end, and trivial, stylistic fads on the other. It happens in the arena of methods, systems and communication tools. That’s why church leadership teachers talk so much about them.

So the next time you go to a church conference or watch a leadership talk, don’t run home determined that the key to breakthrough in your church is to line the back of the platform wall with pallets, or create a viral video for your church Facebook page. When we do that, we’re missing the essence of what truly innovative leaders are trying to tell us.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Every Thanksgiving for the past 10 years, George Dimopoulos has done something amazing.

It's not that he shuts down his Northville, Michigan restaurant, called George's Senate Coney Island. It's that he opens it up even more than usual.

If you are homeless or even just alone for Thanksgiving (or Easter!), you can get a free meal at George's.

"I'm a very good cook," he told TODAY.com. "I cook a lot of good food, and I give a lot of food to people. I don't tell people that I do this; I do this because I believe in God and believe that there are people who need a little help."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchDieting/Food/NutritionPoverty* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted December 12, 2016 at 11:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

By all appearances, we’re in a golden age of innovation. Every month sees new advances in artificial intelligence, gene therapy, robotics and software apps. Research and development as a share of gross domestic product is near an all-time high. There are more scientists and engineers in the U.S. than ever before.

None of this has translated into meaningful advances in Americans’ standard of living.

Economies grow by equipping an expanding workforce with more capital such as equipment, software and buildings, then combining capital and labor more creatively. This last element, called “total factor productivity,” captures the contribution of innovation. Its growth peaked in the 1950s at 3.4% a year as prior breakthroughs such as electricity, aviation and antibiotics reached their maximum impact. It has steadily slowed since and averaged a pathetic 0.5% for the current decade.

Outside of personal technology, improvements in everyday life have been incremental, not revolutionary.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHealth & MedicineScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 6, 2016 at 4:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...before we shout, we need to pay proper attention to the voices of those whose votes have caused this revolution, whether or not we like what we hear.

On both sides of the Atlantic, there has been an almighty cry of anger from a dispossessed and mar­­­­­­­­ginalised working class — the s­o-called “victims of globalisation”. Such people feel frozen out of the post-crash economy, their wages shrinking in real terms while the rich get ever richer. They are routinely accused of xenophobia, or worse, when they express concerns about changes imposed on their com­munities by those who live far away. In the UK, they feel abandoned by the institutions that were formed to represent them: austerity-stricken local government, the Labour Party, and the demutualised building soc­i­eties.

If the C of E was still adequately present in areas of deprivation, it would not have been surprised at the revolution in popular politics that this anger caused (Comment, 1 July). But it has become so discon­nected from many of these communities that it no longer hears what they are saying, let alone amplifies their voices to the nation. And, until the Church re-invests in urban ministry, places the best leaders in the most deprived parishes, and returns to the estates it has abandoned, these voices will continue to go un­­heard.

The Church’s agenda is being set not by the poor, but by academia, the moneyed elites, and certain sections of the secular media.

Read it all from the Church Times.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchPovertyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 3, 2016 at 9:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the last two chapters, he offers a couple of countermeasures:
What we give we gain
What we master brings us joy
These are what he calls the formulation of "divine economics", a kind of upside-down approach to wealth where giving does not result in depletion but blessing, and where overcoming our natural appetite for accumulating wealth is the challenge that brings genuine and deep-seated peace.
"Money buys capabilities," he says.
"It also buys security, but it risks taking us further and further away from being those who wash feet, who dethrone Mammon by subverting the power of wealth to give us a better life."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted December 1, 2016 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Social media giants should block children from sharing explicit images to help to curb Britain’s “sexting” crisis, the health secretary has said.

Jeremy Hunt also heaped pressure on tech and mobile phone companies to tackle sexting among under-18s. Technology existed to allow social media platforms to block explicit images from young users automatically, following a request from their parents, he said.

It is the latest demand from a senior government figure for social media companies to take a greater role in confronting issues such as online porn, cyberbullying and extremism.

Giving evidence to the Commons health committee yesterday, Mr Hunt said the companies needed to show that they were willing to help to improve mental health among teenagers. He warned against an online culture of intimidation and sexual imagery.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingLaw & Legal IssuesScience & TechnologySexualityTeens / Youth* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon




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

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Posted November 25, 2016 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Bishop of Birmingham, Rt Revd David Urquhart, has issued the following response to the Chancellor's Autumn Statement:

Bishop David said: "The political turbulence of the past year and lower growth forecasts have meant the Chancellor has been given limited economic room for manoeuvre. But I welcome the emphasis in the Autumn Statement on long term stability, investment in innovation, in our national infrastructure and on supporting regional growth. To be a nation living within its means is an aspiration worth keeping, even if the revised figures for deficit reduction mean that the goal of its achievement has been moved slightly further away.

The Government is to be commended for wanting to address the situation of those who are 'just managing' and for its emphasis on work as being an important route out of poverty. The increases in the National Living Wage and a partial reversal of planned cuts to Universal Credit announced in today's Autumn Statement are welcome and will offer some help. But at a time when the cost of living is set to rise, more on the lowest incomes will still struggle to get by and they might benefit from more targeted assistance than further increases in the tax free personal allowance, which mostly benefits better off families, as the recent report by the Centre for Social Justice points out.

As the Joseph Rowntree Foundation have highlighted, the four-year freeze on working-age benefits is looking increasingly out of date, especially with rising inflation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceTaxesPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 23, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The combined debt held by U.S. public pension plans will top $1.7 trillion next year, according to a just-released report from Moody’s Investors Services.

This “pension tsunami” has already forced towns like Stockton, California and Detroit, Michigan into bankruptcy. Perhaps no government mismanaged their pension as badly as Puerto Rico, where a $43 billion pension debt forced the commonwealth to seek protection from the federal government after having defaulted on its obligations to bondholders — a default which is expected to spread to retirees in the form of benefit cuts.

While the disastrous outcome of Puerto Rico’s pension plan — which is projected to completely run out of assets by 2019 — represents the worst-case scenario, the same series of events that led to its demise can be found in most public pension plans nationwide.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePensionsStock MarketPolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentState Government* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 4, 2016 at 7:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A strong pat on the back and a reassuring word no longer cuts it when it comes to keeping millennials happy at work.

More than three-quarters of U.K. workers age 18 to 24 say company perks are crucial to their job satisfaction, according to a survey released this week by Perkbox, a company that sells employee gifts. Only about half of baby boomers in the U.K. tied their job satisfaction to the goodies, the survey said.

Amazon gift cards, for example, are the physical representation of a caring, sharing employer, said Saurav Chopra, co-founder of Perkbox. Skyscanner, an Edinburgh-based flight comparison site, gives employees discounts at local sandwich shops and hairdressers. Airbnb provides employees with $2,000 a year good for spending on properties on the home-sharing site anywhere in the world.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 29, 2016 at 2:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ashers Baking is owned by the McArthur family. It offered to bake cakes iced with a graphic of the customer’s own design. Gareth Lee is gay; and to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, in May 2014 he ordered a cake from Ashers bearing the slogan “Support Gay Marriage” and a picture of the Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie. Ashers initially accepted his order but Mrs Karen McArthur subsequently telephoned him to say that his order could not be fulfilled because Ashers was a Christian business and that, with hindsight, she should not have taken the order in the first place. She apologised and refunded his money.

Before Belfast County Court, in Lee v Ashers Baking Co Ltd & Anor [2015] NICty 2 Mr Lee had claimed that he had been discriminated against contrary to the provisions of the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006 and/or the Fair Employment and Treatment (Northern Ireland) Order 1998. District Judge Brownlie found for Mr Lee, concluding that Ashers Baking was liable under the 2006 Regulations for the unlawful acts of its two directors, Mr and Mrs McArthur, and that they, in turn, were liable under Regulation 24 for aiding Ashers Baking to act unlawfully. As a result of their actions, the company had discriminated unlawfully against Mr Lee. They appealed and the matter came before the Court of Appeal in Belfast by way of case stated.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 27, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ashers managing director Daniel McArthur said he and his family were “extremely disappointed” with the ruling .

“If equality law means people can be punished for politely refusing to support other people’s causes then equality law needs to change. This ruling undermines democratic freedom, it undermines religious freedom, and it undermines free speech,” he said.

Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell said the “verdict is a defeat for freedom of expression” and could set a “dangerous, authoritarian precedent”.

“Although I strongly disagree with Ashers’ opposition to marriage equality, in a free society neither they nor anyone else should be compelled to facilitate a political idea that they oppose,” he said.

Read it all from the Irish Times.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 24, 2016 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A recent HBR article presented researched that suggests that many employees spend up to 80% of their time in meetings, on the phone and responding to emails. That doesn’t leave much time to get their individually assigned work done.

Let me be clear. I’m not bashing teamwork and collaboration. We all know that input and insight from several knowledgeable sources can add value to the organization. But are executives confusing the concept of collaboration with consensus? Or worse, perhaps they are using this popular management style as a way to hedge responsibility should something go wrong. As in, “Hey, it’s not my problem! We all signed-off thinking she would make a great hire.” Or, “Hey, it’s not my fault! Everyone agreed that the new product would sell like hotcakes!”

At the risk of being labeled a non-collaborator, I believe the pendulum needs to swing back to the middle.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 21, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking has repeatedly warned of the dangers posed by out-of-control artificial intelligence (AI). But on Wednesday, as the professor opened the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (CFI) at the University of Cambridge, he remarked on its potential to bring positive change – if developed correctly.

"Success in creating AI could be the biggest event in the history of our civilisation. But it could also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks," Dr. Hawking said at the launch, according to a University of Cambridge press release.

Representing a collaboration between the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College London, and the University of California, Berkeley, the CFI will bring together a multidisciplinary team of researchers, as well as tech leaders and policy makers, to ensure that societies can "make the best of the opportunities of artificial intelligence," as its website states.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 21, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With the presidential election looming, more Americans cite the economy (17%) than any other issue as the most important U.S. problem in October, followed by dissatisfaction with the government (12%). Americans' concerns about the major problems facing the country are largely consistent with what they have been throughout 2016.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchSociology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 19, 2016 at 7:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Much could be said about the Redirect Method, but two things stand out to me. First, as a philosopher of religion, I find [Yasmin] Green’s point fascinating. Regardless how one mixes the faith-and-reason cocktail, a theopolitical agenda like ISIS’s is undeniably still dependent upon information. People enlist in groups like ISIS not simply out of blind hate or misdirected zeal, but because they find ISIS’s description of the world reasonable and compelling. Green’s wording is suggestive: in “arming individuals with more and better information,” Google is acting on the assumption that facts may be as fatal to ISIS’s success as bullets. Google’s experiment rests on a perspective shared by many professors of religion; in Kofi Annan’s words, “Education is peace-building by another name.”

Second, this program raises the question of precedent. Though I doubt many net neutrality advocates will rally in support of ISIS, there is reason to be leery of Google’s self-appointed mission to steer users away from certain ideological stances. Given that the dream of the Internet is a pure democracy of information and opinion, do we trust Google to be the gatekeeper of theopolitical correctness? It’s one thing if I search for “crayons” and Google—after receiving a payment from Crayola—directs me to Crayola’s website. But what about topics far more controversial than my coloring hobby? How comfortable are we with the leading search engine employing “targeted advertising campaigns” on disputed religious and political matters?

The dilemma is this: everyone is pro-information, but we tend to see only the information that supports our particular worldview.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesMulticulturalism, pluralismPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 19, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For a storm that inflicted less damage than many had feared, Hurricane Matthew nevertheless impaired or destroyed more than 1 million structures, forced businesses from Florida to North Carolina to close and put thousands temporarily out of work.

In many affected areas, small-business owners were still assessing the damage.

"I've never had anything like this in 12 years of business," said Ami Zipperer, who has two garden supply stores in the Savannah, Georgia, area.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal Finance* General InterestNatural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc.Weather* South Carolina

0 Comments
Posted October 12, 2016 at 3:48 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The global economy is faltering again with growth rates “sliding back into the morass [they have] been stuck in for some time”, according to the Brookings Institution-Financial Times tracking index.

In a publication ahead of this week’s annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, the results will reinforce fears that many countries have become caught in a vicious circle of low growth, popular discontent and a backlash against trade and openness, resulting in more economic weakness.

The annual meetings will encourage policymakers to pursue inclusive and faster global growth as international organisations, finance ministers and central bank governors seek to reassure the public they can co-operate and that they have the necessary tools to break five years of economic disappointments.

Hanging over the meetings is the fear that the failure to improve living standards in advanced and emerging economies was important in the UK’s vote to leave the EU, may propel Donald Trump to the US presidency and will strengthen the hands of populists such as Marine Le Pen in France.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 3, 2016 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S. health-care system remains among the least-efficient in the world.

America was 50th out of 55 countries in 2014, according to a Bloomberg index that assesses life expectancy, health-care spending per capita and relative spending as a share of gross domestic product. Expenditures averaged $9,403 per person, about 17.1 percent of GDP, that year — the most recent for which data are available — and life expectancy was 78.9. Only Jordan, Colombia, Azerbaijan, Brazil and Russia ranked lower.

The U.S. has lagged near the bottom of the Bloomberg Health-Care Efficiency Index since it was created in 2012. Hong Kong and Singapore — consistently at the top — are smaller countries with less diverse populations. Their governments also play a stronger role in regulating and providing care, with spending per capita averaging $2,386 and longevity averaging about 83 years.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 29, 2016 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Think about the people at work who are part of your network — the individuals who help you improve your performance or provide you with emotional support when you are going through a tough spell. If you’re like most people, the colleagues who come to mind are those you get along with and who have a good impression of you. But has anyone in your network actually given you tough feedback?

Your likely answer is “not many.” As I discovered in recent research I conducted with Paul Green of Harvard Business School and Brad Staats of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, people tend to move away from those who provide feedback that is more negative than their view of themselves. They do not listen to their advice and prefer to stop interacting with them altogether. It seems that people tend to strengthen their bonds with people who only see their positive qualities.

In one of our studies, we used four years of archival data on over 300 full-time employees at a United States-based food manufacturing and agribusiness company. The company has a fluid structure that gives employees some discretion in defining the scope, responsibilities, and deliverables of their role on an annual basis.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 21, 2016 at 11:24 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

I don't think it's true.

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“You seem pretty positive, what types of things bring you down?”....

“Show me (role play) how you would show a customer you’re willing to help them by only using your voice....”

“If you’re given a jar with a mix of fair and unfair coins, and you pull one out and flip it 3 times, and get the specific sequence heads heads tails, what are the chances that you pulled out a fair or an unfair coin?”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 17, 2016 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“I just bootleg the gospel,” Howard Butt Jr. told 1,500 Baptist men in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1954. Butt meant he had no license to preach, but that didn’t stop him from doing it. The 89-year-old well-known author and speaker, as well as creator of the Laity Lodge Retreat Center, passed away yesterday evening from complications related to Parkinson’s.
“Howard was a mentor, a motivator, and a model servant whose mind and heart were profoundly poured out on me at a most critical time,” said Christianity Today International president and CEO Harold Smith.
“His words of exhortation and encouragement to both my wife and me during a challenging first year of executive leadership offered us the assurances of God’s watchcare and direction—even in an industry experiencing such tumultuous change,” Smith stated. “Truly, the power of Howard’s presence in word and deed has left a God-anointed legacy that will inspire me and the entire CT team for years to come.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the LaityStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted September 12, 2016 at 2:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In some cases, churches had banded together to use their collective buying power to secure green energy tariffs from companies that bought or produced at least 80 per cent of their electricity from renewable sources, said Tim Gee, campaigns leader at Christian Aid.

A number had saved money but in certain instances this was because the churches had not switched suppliers in a long time, he said.

“The very cheapest electricity supplier is still fossil fuels,” he said, but the churches had still been able to obtain the cheapest available renewable energy tariffs.

The overriding reason for acting, he added, was to send a message to governments and investors that there needed to be a shift away from fossil fuels if the world were to avoid dangerous levels of climate change.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock MarketEnergy, Natural Resources* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 3, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“All hands on deck” may become a thing of the past.

Ship designers, their operators and regulators are gearing up for a future in which cargo vessels sail the oceans with minimal or even no crew. Advances in automation and ample bandwidth even far offshore could herald the biggest change in shipping since diesel engines replaced steam.

Ship operators believe more automation will enable them to optimize ship use, including cutting fuel consumption. “The benefit of automation is as an enabler of further efficiency across the 630 vessels we operate,” said Palle Laursen, head of Maersk Line Ship Management, a unit of cargo-ship giant A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketEnergy, Natural Resources* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 31, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In retrospect, Facebook’s takeover of online media looks rather like a slow-motion coup. Before social media, web publishers could draw an audience one of two ways: through a dedicated readership visiting its home page or through search engines. By 2009, this had started to change. Facebook had more than 300 million users, primarily accessing the service through desktop browsers, and publishers soon learned that a widely shared link could produce substantial traffic. In 2010, Facebook released widgets that publishers could embed on their sites, reminding readers to share, and these tools were widely deployed. By late 2012, when Facebook passed a billion users, referrals from the social network were sending visitors to publishers’ websites at rates sometimes comparable to Google, the web’s previous de facto distribution hub. Publishers took note of what worked on Facebook and adjusted accordingly.

This was, for most news organizations, a boon. The flood of visitors aligned with two core goals of most media companies: to reach people and to make money. But as Facebook’s growth continued, its influence was intensified by broader trends in internet use, primarily the use of smartphones, on which Facebook became more deeply enmeshed with users’ daily routines. Soon, it became clear that Facebook wasn’t just a source of readership; it was, increasingly, where readers lived.

Facebook, from a publisher’s perspective, had seized the web’s means of distribution by popular demand. A new reality set in, as a social-media network became an intermediary between publishers and their audiences.

Read it all from the New York Times.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingMediaScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted August 24, 2016 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When it comes to raising money through enterprise, Chris Henderson has one word of advice for the Anglican Church of Canada: think of projects or partners that will be in line with your values—otherwise, it won’t work.

“You’ve got to be true to mission,” he says. “Not being true to mission means you’re almost writing a cheque for failure.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryCanada

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Posted August 5, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all from the local paper.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The nexus between Big Government, Big Money, Big Influence, and Big Media is sometimes empowered by familial journalistic continuity (e.g., John Dickerson, son of Nancy Dickerson) or a second generation of fashion/glitz and media (Gloria Vanderbilt and Anderson Cooper), but again is increasingly expressed in the corridor “power couple,” the sorts who receive sycophantic adulation in New York and Washington monthly magazines. The Andrea Mitchell/Alan Greenspan power marriage was hailed as a threefer of media, government, and money. What was so strange, however, was just how often wrong were Mitchell in her amateurishly politicized rants and Greenspan in his cryptic Delphic prophecies — and always in areas of their supposedly greatest expertise.

Take also the Obama Cabinet. When we wonder how Susan Rice could go on television on five occasions in a single day to deceive about Benghazi; or John Kerry — in the middle of a war whose results Obama would come to call a “stable” and “self-reliant” democratic Iraq — could warn American youth that the punishment for poor school performance was “to get stuck in Iraq”; or Jay Carney (now senior vice president of global corporate affairs at Amazon) and Josh Earnest could both repeatedly mislead the country on Benghazi, the reason may be not just that they felt their influence, status, and privilege meant they were rarely responsible for the real-world consequences of their own rhetoric, but that they had forgotten entirely the nature of middle-class America, or never really knew it at all.

I get the impression that members of the D.C. elite do not wait in line with a sick kid in the emergency room on a Saturday night, when the blood flows and the supporters of rival gangs have to be separated in the waiting room; or that they find dirty diapers, car seats, and dead dogs tossed on their lawns, or wait two hours at the DMV, or are told that their journalistic assignment was outsourced to India, or read public-school teachers’ comments on their kids’ papers that were ungrammatical and misspelled to the point of being incomprehensible. The elite seems to be ignorant that, about 1975, Bedford Falls flyover country started to become Pottersville.

In forming perceptions about Benghazi, the Iran deal, globalization, or illegal immigration, it is sometimes hard to know who is making policy and who is reporting and analyzing such formulations — or whether they are one and the same. National Security Advisor Susan Rice is married to former ABC television producer Ian Cameron. Ben Rhodes, who drew up the talking-points deceptions about Benghazi and seemed to boast of deceiving the public about the Iran deal, is the brother of CBS News president David Rhodes. Will 60 Minutes do one of its signature hit pieces on Ben Rhodes?

Secretary of State John Kerry — who famously docks his yacht in Rhode Island in order to avoid paying Massachusetts taxes on it — is married to Teresa Heinz, the billionaire widow of the late senator and catsup heir John Heinz. Former Obama press secretary Jay Carney married Claire Shipman, senior national correspondent for ABC’s Good Morning America; his successor, Josh Earnest, married Natalie Wyeth, a veteran of the Treasury Department. Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s “body woman,” is married to creepy sexter Anthony Weiner; perhaps she was mesmerized by his stellar political career, his feminist credentials, and his tolerant approach to deviancy? And on and on it goes.

These Christiane Amanpour/Jamie Rosen or Samantha Power/Cass Sunstein types of connections could be explored to the nth degree, especially their moth-to-the-flame progressive fixations with maximizing privilege, power, and class. But my purpose is not to suggest some conspiratorial cabal of D.C. and New York insiders, only to note that an increasing number of government and media elites are so entangled with each other, leveraging lucrative careers in politics, finance, and the media, and doubling their influence through marriage, that they have scant knowledge of and less concern for the clingers who live well beyond their coastal-corridor moats. And so when reality proves their preconceptions wrong — from Benghazi to Brexit — they have only outrage and disdain to fall back on.

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceStock MarketThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted July 9, 2016 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

Lesley Stahl: You're texting money?

Bob Collymore: You are effectively texting money.

Read or watchit all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all (requires subscription).

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Consider some recent encroachments on liberty.

Read it all from the Boston Globe.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Why are the French so wedded to a failing system?

For starters, they believe that a job is a basic right — guaranteed in the preamble to their Constitution — and that making it easier to fire people is an affront to that. Without a C.D.I., you’re considered naked before the indifferent forces of capitalism.

At one demonstration in Paris, young protesters held a banner warning that they were the “génération précaire.” They were agitating for the right to grow up. As Jean-Benoît Nadeau and Julie Barlow point out in their new book, “The Bonjour Effect,” getting a permanent work contract is a rite of adulthood. Without one, it’s hard to get a mortgage or car loan, or rent an apartment.

Mainstream economic arguments can’t compete. “Basic facts of economic science are completely dismissed,” said Étienne Wasmer, a labor economist at Sciences Po. “People don’t see that if you let employers take risks, they’ll hire more people.” Instead, many French people view the workplace as a zero-sum battle between workers and bosses.

Read it all from yesterday's NY Times.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 13, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ah, the journey to and from work. Last week’s train strikes, keeping many of us in the UK at home, served as a reminder that the commute is not capitalism’s greatest gift to humanity.

The longer the trip, the less worthwhile life feels, data from the Office for National Statistics tell us. Surveys have found that people with a taxing journey sleep poorly, while research by US academics links tough commutes to health problems, such as high cholesterol, hypertension and depression.

The commute is a post-industrial invention. For most of history almost everyone worked at, or near, home. But industrialisation created a separation between people’s living arrangements and their working ones....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyTravel* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted May 5, 2016 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church Commissioners for England have taken home two prizes at this year's Portfolio Institutional Awards - the Best Charity / Fund / Trust Award for the first time since 2013, and the Best Implementation of Responsible Investment Award for the second year in a row.

The awards come as the Church Commissioners have also been given the highest AAA rating in this year's Asset Owners Disclosure Project (AODP) Global Climate 500, coming 10th in the index. The rating recognises the work done by the Commissioners to mitigate the investment risks of climate change through engagement and shareholder resolutions, as well as the Commissioners' support for low carbon investment.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock MarketEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 4, 2016 at 4:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A groundbreaking trial to see if it is possible to regenerate the brains of dead people, has won approval from health watchdogs.

A biotech company in the US has been granted ethical permission to recruit 20 patients who have been declared clinically dead from a traumatic brain injury, to test whether parts of their central nervous system can be brought back to life.

Scientists will use a combination of therapies, which include injecting the brain with stem cells and a cocktail of peptides, as well as deploying lasers and nerve stimulation techniques which have been shown to bring patients out of comas.

Read it all from the Telegraph.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 3, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The man who built Chobani yogurt into a multi-billion dollar brand is giving thousands of employees the financial surprise of a lifetime.

Watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDieting/Food/Nutrition* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 28, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyEschatology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Like that checkout assistant, many of us remain unconvinced by Chancellor George Osborne packaging up what is essentially an increase on the National Minimum Wage for over 25s and rebranding it the “National Living Wage”. Of course it is to be welcomed that Mr Osborne is increasing wages at the bottom level for over 25s. But let’s call it what it is: a new legal minimum wage for over 25s. It is not a living wage in any real sense; it is not paying workers what they deserve and it is not paying workers what they need in order to achieve a decent standard of living in the UK.

The real Living Wage is set according to what experts and the public believe is needed to achieve an above-poverty standard of living. Not earning this can mean having to rely on a food bank even if you are in work. Let’s think about that for a second. Working people should not have to rely on food banks to feed their families.

The new minimum wage also risks setting young against old. There are two million under 25’s who will not benefit from the increased minimum wage. The realLiving Wage (as set by the Living Wage Foundation) makes no distinction for how old someone has to be to expect to be paid fairly for a day’s work.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of York John Sentamu* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted March 31, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Anticipate staffing needs and factor them into any policy or accommodation discussion in order to identify limits and possible areas of flexibility. The Cargill facility had specific staffing requirements on the assembly line. Other types of business can anticipate staffing and productivity issues, for example, during tax season, earnings reporting, or the holiday retail rush.

Conflict avoidance and ethics aren’t the only reason to work toward solutions to religious accommodations. A recent study shows that workers who feel religiously comfortable in the workplace have higher job satisfaction. And, as Noelle Nelson demonstrates in her book Make More Money by Making Your Employees Happy, higher job satisfaction among employees leads to greater profitability for the employer.

As Cargill and other employers are discovering, faith is a part of the whole person that employers ignore at their peril.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted March 19, 2016 at 1:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMilitary / Armed Forces* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...in Libby, Montana, there's a rather unusual woman named Gayla Benefield. She always felt a little bit of an outsider, although she's been there almost all her life, a woman of Russian extraction. She told me when she went to school, she was the only girl who ever chose to do mechanical drawing. Later in life, she got a job going house to house reading utility meters -- gas meters, electricity meters. And she was doing the work in the middle of the day, and one thing particularly caught her notice, which was, in the middle of the day she met a lot of men who were at home, middle aged, late middle aged, and a lot of them seemed to be on oxygen tanks. It struck her as strange. Then, a few years later, her father died at the age of 59, five days before he was due to receive his pension. He'd been a miner. She thought he must just have been worn out by the work. But then a few years later, her mother died, and that seemed stranger still, because her mother came from a long line of people who just seemed to live forever. In fact, Gayla's uncle is still alive to this day, and learning how to waltz. It didn't make sense that Gayla's mother should die so young. It was an anomaly, and she kept puzzling over anomalies. And as she did, other ones came to mind.

Read it all; cited by yours truly in the morning sermon.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 6, 2016 at 12:48 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It’s an improbable sight, but the Whitechapel Bell Foundry still stands on east London’s busy Whitechapel Road, an island in an area all but obliterated in the Second World War. Moreover, it is a business that has been fighting for survival for years, centuries even, and in a high-tech, ever more competitive world is still going strong. It’s no more than what you’d expect from a company that has been in continuous operation since 1570 and claims the title of Britain’s oldest manufacturer.

Alan Hughes’s family has run what is one of only two remaining bell foundries in the UK for four generations. “In its early years,” he says, “there was very little by way of continuity of ownership. The company changed hands frequently, usually staying with one family for just one generation.”

He can be forgiven for having little sympathy for businesses that have seen profits crumble because of something as recent as the arrival of the internet. His sector peaked in the 18th century, shrank and then levelled off again before sinking into steady decline for the past hundred or so years.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 25, 2016 at 11:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We’ve been at the heart of the ‘Aiming for A’ engagement initiative, which successfully filed shareholder resolutions at the BP and Shell AGMs last year. These companies were keen to work with us and our partners, and recommended that shareholders approve the resolutions. The companies are now legally required to step up their reporting of their strategic response to the challenges – and opportunities – posed to their businesses by climate change. This was an excellent example of what investors and companies can achieve when they work together. On the back of similar engagement, Aiming for A has filed more resolutions in the UK mining sector for this year’s AGMs which have been received by the companies in the same spirit.

Sadly, not all companies are responding constructively to the urgent need to mitigate climate change. We’ve been working with the New York State pension fund in the US to file a resolution at ExxonMobil in the United States. Rather than working with us to provide the reporting that institutional investors require, Exxon have gone to the US regulator – the Securities and Exchange Commission – to try to get the resolution struck off so that shareholders do not get the opportunity vote on it at Exxon’s AGM later this year. This week New York State have written to the SEC to ask them to deny this request, and to make sure that shareholders can indicate to Exxon’s board their desire for fuller reporting on the implications of climate change policy.

We are extremely disappointed that even after the Paris climate change agreement ExxonMobil has contested the relevance of the resolution we have co-filed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock MarketEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 25, 2016 at 5:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Unlike his predecessor Steve Jobs, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook has never shied away from taking a political and social stand.

He was the first head of a Fortune 500 company to come out as gay. He pledged to one day donate his personal fortune to charity, and he talks passionately about the importance of social justice, diversity and the environment.

But it's his hard-line stance on privacy that could define his legacy at Apple and set the tone for the way big corporations deal with big government at a time when so much of our lives unfold on the devices we use every day.

How far Cook is willing to take the fight is being tested on a national level now. He ramped up the debate Wednesday when he publicly and vehemently opposed a federal judge's order to provide access to encrypted data on an iPhone belonging to the terrorist couple who killed 14 people in San Bernardino last year.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeTerrorism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Watch it all--so on target its painful!

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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




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