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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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The takeaway message is this: no one needs churches to be nice or tasteful. If churches have a future, it's in addressing our existential darkness: sin and death. Progressive politics is important, but it doesn't do any deep religious work. And liberals in the church will have to rediscover this after we have won our culture wars. What other religion has such a dark image at its centre? And yet my own brand of liberal Christianity too often seeks salvation through a few gentle verses of All Things Bright and Beautiful or lots of self-important dressing up and wandering around in fancy churches. Devoted atheists are never going to be persuaded by a theology of the cross. But no one whatsoever is going to be persuaded by a theology of nice.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Movies & Television Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Europe Sweden * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Secularism Wicca / paganism * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
During his Sunday morning service, Ulf Ekman announced the he and his wife, Birgitta, are converting to Roman Catholicism.
Ekman is the founder of Word of Life, a megachurch in Uppsala, Sweden. News reports and blogs coming out of the nation reveal the congregation was “partially stunned” after hearing what was packaged as a “special announcement.” The theme was “Follow the Lamb Wherever He Goes."
“For Birgitta and me, this has been a slow process were we have gone from discovering new things, to appreciating what we have discovered, to approach and even learn from our fellow Christians,” Ekman says on his ministry website.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * International News & Commentary Europe Sweden * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals Roman Catholic
One of America’s chief fiscal burdens is the mounting cost of entitlements (Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid) – an obligation that will only grow larger as baby boomers age. In tackling this problem, the United States should look to what many might see as an unlikely model – the European welfare state, Sweden.
“Usually, U.S. policymakers look to Europe to determine what not to do when it comes to social-welfare policy,” James C. Capretta, former associate director of the US Office of Management and Budget, wrote a few years ago.
But, he continued: “When you are in a hole, the prudent first step is to stop digging, and the United States can indeed gain insight into how to ‘stop digging’ the entitlement hole” by studying the reforms that some European countries have implemented. Most notably, he suggested, we should study what Sweden and Germany did to cut their long-term government pension commitments.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Health & Medicine * Economics, Politics Economy The U.S. Government Budget Medicaid Medicare Social Security The National Deficit Politics in General * International News & Commentary Europe Sweden * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Sweden has topped a new global index evaluating the state of the web in 61 countries, with the US coming second and the UK third.
Compiled by Sir Tim Berners-Lee's World Wide Web Foundation, it ranked both the social and political impact of the web.
It found that only one in three people are using the web globally and fewer than one in six in Africa.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Globalization Law & Legal Issues Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Politics in General * International News & Commentary Europe Sweden
A heart stopping thriller of a game. Danny Welbeck's goal was just beautiful. Read it all and see the picture there.
Andriy Shevchenko rolled back the years to score twice as co-hosts Ukraine came from behind to beat Sweden 2-1 in their opening game of the European Championships, in Kiev.
Read it all (and there are three videos at the bottom).
Sweden was the first European country to introduce bank notes in 1661. Now it's come farther than most on the path toward getting rid of them.
"I can't see why we should be printing bank notes at all anymore," says Bjoern Ulvaeus, former member of 1970's pop group ABBA, and a vocal proponent for a world without cash.
The contours of such a society are starting to take shape in this high-tech nation, frustrating those who prefer coins and bills over digital money.
Read it all.
Almighty and everlasting God, who didst send thy servant Anskar as an apostle to the people of Scandinavia, and dist enable him to lay a firm foundation for their conversion, though he did not see the results of his labors: Keep thy Church from discouragement in the day of small things, knowing that when thou hast begun a good work thou wilt bring it to a faithful conclusion; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Since 2010 a group of self-confessed pirates have tried to get their beliefs recognized as an official religion in Sweden. After their request was denied several times, the Church of Kopimism – which holds CTRL+C and CTRL+V as sacred symbols – is now approved by the authorities as an official religion. The Church hopes that its official status will remove the legal stigma that surrounds file-sharing.
All around the world file-sharers are being chased by anti-piracy outfits and the authorities, and the situation in Sweden is no different. While copyright holders are often quick to label file-sharers as pirates, there is a large group of people who actually consider copying to be a sacred act.
Read it all.
A seemingly intoxicated moose has been discovered entangled in an apple tree by a stunned Swede.
Per Johansson, 45, says he heard a roar from his vacationing neighbour's garden in southwestern Sweden late Tuesday and went to have a look. There, he found a female moose kicking about in the tree. The animal was likely drunk from eating fermented apples.
Read it all.
The first page of the first chapter of Henning Mankell’s latest (and apparently last) Wallander novel The Troubled Man is sheer misery. Inspector Kurt Wallander, divorced for 15 years, lives in a flat “where so many unpleasant memories were etched into the walls”; he “reminded himself over and over again of his father’s lonely old age ... now it seemed as if his father was taking him over ... he had no religious hopes of anything being in store for him ... nothing but the same darkness he had once emerged from ... he would be dead for such a long time ... he had seen far too many dead bodies in his life”.
Wallander novels might be prefaced by the sign Dante imagined above the gates of Hell – “lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’ intrate”: “all hope abandon, ye who enter here”: for in these books, the descent is often through deepening layers of horror. The same could be said for much of rest of the now enormously popular, critically acclaimed school of Scandinavian noir – for noir they are, set in the bleakness of towns and forests, dark for much of the year. The cult BBC hit of the year so far, the Danish-made Copenhagen-set The Killing, which ends this weekend, is shot almost wholly at night....
...the most striking commercial success in novel writing in the past five years has come from Marxists who write of people beset with misery who either commit or must deal with acts of extreme sadistic violence. It is not a development that a publisher or an agent would naturally have arrived at as a formula for success. So what explains its extraordinary appeal?
Read it all (requires subscription).
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is to be extradited to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual assault.
Assange has been fighting extradition since he was arrested and bailed in December. He has consistently denied the allegations, made by two women in August last year.
Howard Riddle, the chief magistrate, delivered his ruling at a hearing at Belmarsh magistrates court in London. It is unlikely to be the end of the matter, however, because an appeal is expected, which would delay the final decision until the summer at the latest.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations * International News & Commentary England / UK Europe Sweden
Two explosions in Sweden's capital Stockholm are being investigated as a "crime of terror", officials say.
A car blew up in a busy shopping area on Saturday afternoon, followed moments later by a second explosion nearby.
Witnesses said a man found dead after the second blast had been carrying an explosive device. Two people were hurt.
PM Fredrik Reinfeldt said the attacks were unacceptable in Sweden's "open society", which he said was a democracy that respected different cultures.
Read it all.
In the latest twist in the drama swirling around the WikiLeaks anti-secrecy group, British police officials said on Tuesday they had arrested Julian Assange, its beleaguered founder, on a warrant issued in Sweden in connection with alleged sex offenses.
Mr. Assange, a 39-year-old Australian, was arrested by officers from Scotland Yard’s extradition unit when he went to a central London police station by prior agreement with the authorities, the police said. A court hearing was expected later.
In a statement, the police said: “Officers from the Metropolitan Police extradition unit have this morning arrested Julian Assange on behalf of the Swedish authorities on suspicion of rape.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Law & Legal Issues Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. England / UK Europe Sweden
Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, will hand himself in to police - possibly as early as Tuesday - after a fresh European Arrest Warrant was issued by the Swedish authorities.
Mr Assange is expected to voluntarily attend a police station within the next 24 hours, and will then appear in a magistrates’ court. He is wanted over allegations of sexual assault in Sweden.
He is currently in hiding in the south-east of England but police are understood to have the necessary paperwork to arrest him.
Mark Stephens, Mr Assange’s British lawyer, said: “We are in discussions about him going to the police by consent.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Law & Legal Issues Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Economy The U.S. Government * International News & Commentary England / UK Europe Sweden
The Australian Parliament had been scheduled yesterday to debate a resolution calling on China to free the Nobel peace prize winner Liu Xiaobo.
Liu, 54, was sentenced in December to 11 years in jail. His crime? To co-write Charter 08, a manifesto calling on the Chinese government to give real force to China's constitution. This would separate the ruling party from the state, allow a truly independent judiciary and create a real parliamentary democracy.
The peaceful pursuit of these rights - rights enjoyed by the citizens of every other big power and grandly proclaimed in the constitution - was judged by China's courts to be an "incitement to subvert state power".
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Asia China Australia / NZ Europe Sweden
Norway's Nobel Peace Prize committee has done the right thing in awarding this year's prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. The furious reaction of the Chinese state shows just how complicated doing the right thing will become as we advance into an increasingly post-Western world.
Liu is exactly the kind of person who deserves this prize, alongside Andrei Sakharov, Aung San Suu Kyi and Nelson Mandela. For more than 20 years, he has consistently advocated nonviolent change in China, always in the direction of more respect for human rights, the rule of law and democracy. He has paid for this peaceful advocacy with years of imprisonment and harassment. Unlike last year's winner, Barack Obama, who got the prize just for what he had promised to do, Liu gets it for what he has actually done.
The Chinese authorities tried hard to prevent him getting it. They directly threatened the Nobel committee with negative consequences for Chinese-Norwegian relations. They have since described the award as an "obscenity," forbidden any mention of it in the censored Chinese media, placed Liu's wife under house arrest, detained other critical intellectuals, canceled export talks with Norway — and are now doubtless debating how to play it from here.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Asia China Europe Sweden
A Swedish woman who was paralysed died Wednesday after her respirator was unplugged, in the country's first case of euthanasia since the law was relaxed last month, a Stockholm hospital said.
"The patient who asked the National Health Board to die, died at 5:33 pm (1533 GMT) after her respirator was unplugged," Annakarin Svenningsson, a spokeswoman for Stockholm's Danderyd hospital told AFP.
Sweden's health authority last month authorised passive euthanasia, whereby patients may request the termination of their treatment knowing that this will lead to their death.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics * International News & Commentary Europe Sweden * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" is the first book in Stieg Larsson’s millennium trilogy. First published in 2005, the novels are a literary phenomenon selling more than 30 million copies worldwide. The film adaptation, directed by Niels Arden Oplev, is setting records as well. It has grossed more than $100 million globally and was the top-grossing film in Europe last year. Here is a look at the film.
[BEGIN VIDEO CLIP "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"] has become an international sensation. Her secrets have captivated millions. The story is a literary and movie phenomenon. This year, meet "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." (END VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLIE ROSE: Tell me why this -- the "Millennium Trilogy" has become such a sensation?
NIELS ARDEN OPLEV, FILMMAKER: Well, I think that if you look at the book first, Larsson wrote a book, the first book he wrote is really a classic investigating story. The plot is nearly Agatha Christie kind of plot--
CHARLIE ROSE: Yes.
NIELS ARDEN OPLEV: --rich family, far up north, it’s freezing cold, dark, dark secrets....
Please note-Elizabeth and I went to see this last evening. It is a dark, dense, mysterious and immensely powerful movie that it is ONLY appropriate for adult audiences.
This fine interview (best seen after the film) lasts 27 1/2 minutes--watch it all--KSH.
The Church of Sweden (Svenska Kyrkan) is bleeding members at an increasingly rapid pace, at the same time as membership rolls in Islamic, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox Christian assemblies are on the rise.
Between November 2008 and October 2009, nearly 72,000 people, or roughly 1 percent of the church's 6.8 million members, asked to leave, according to church statistics reviewed by the TT news agency.
The number of people abandoning Sweden's largest church is roughly 20,000 more than the previous year.
Read it all.
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