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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 future home of six Ribble Valley Anglican parishes is hanging in the balance due to a row over Church of England reorganisation in Yorkshire.
Blackburn Diocese unanimously voted ‘yes’ at the April synod meeting to accept the parishes of Hurst Green; Mitton; Waddington; Grindleton; Bolton by Bowland, and Gisburn within its boundaries.
It is otherwise unaffected by the plans to reorganise the church structure in Yorkshire.
Read it all.
ELKADER, Iowa--Amid an expanse of undulating farmland, deep in the steep valley carved by the Turkey River, the town of Elkader sits most of the year in remote obscurity. Population 1,200 and gradually shrinking, it is the seat of a county without a single traffic light.
Improbably enough, this community settled by Germans and Scandinavians, its religious life built around Catholic and Lutheran churches, bears the name of a Muslim hero. Abd el-Kader was renowned in the 19th century for leading Algeria’s fight for independence and protecting non-Muslims from persecution. Even Abraham Lincoln extolled him.
This weekend, for the fifth year in a row, Elkader will welcome a delegation of Arab dignitaries to celebrate this rare lifeline of tolerance, spanning continents and centuries. Coming less than three weeks after the Boston Marathon bombings, which the authorities say were committed by two Muslim brothers, the Abdelkader Education Project’s forum stands more than ever for an affirming encounter between the United States and Islam.
Read it all.
While [Dr. Gregory] McGriff says he is forced to do things most other doctors wouldn't necessarily do, he also notes that the disparity — while seeming unfair — has served up a bit of sweet irony: It has helped make him a better doctor. At a time when cost-cutting and understaffing place pressure on physicians to move swiftly through their rounds, McGriff adopted a bedside manner to earn a patient's trust that has now become his signature at Rutherford Regional hospital.
"I make a point to do something that many of my partners don't do — most physicians don't do anymore. I sit," McGriff says. "I sit in the room, and I ask the patient to tell me their story. I'm really interested in these stories, by the way, and every client I meet has a very interesting story.
Read or listen to it all.
magine two teams with more than a thousand competitors on each side. Imagine a playing field that stretches three miles from goal to goal. And imagine a single ball that both sides are fighting over.
That is Shrovetide Football, which is played each year over two days in Ashbourne, England between members of the town. In his documentary Wild In The Streets, Peter Baxter tells the story of the game that has been played for centuries.
Read it all and take the time to watch the official trailer video.
Check out this resource for your awareness and prayers.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Charities/Non-Profit Organizations Rural/Town Life Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals
The crowd that had gathered — lighting candles, offering prayers, crying as they tightly embraced family and friends — had streamed from the dimly lighted sanctuary of Assumption Catholic Church, but Kelly Nelson lingered behind.
“The people who we lost, these are people I know, I see on a daily basis,” Nelson said. “Knowing that I'm never going to see these people on the Earth again is very difficult for me to handle.”
On Wednesday night, a blast at a fertilizer plant rocked this small east-central Texas town. A day later Nelson and hundreds of others gathered in the red brick Assumption church. Nelson wasn’t the only one to stay behind after the service concluded. A pair of young men sobbed as they knelt before the altar. Others stared blankly forward as they sat in the pews. In a time when residents of West sought hard-to-find clarity, they are relying on faith.
Read it all.
St. Matthias Episcopal Church property, including two buildings and a half-acre lot, has been offered to the town for free.
The church's dwindling congregation voted last May to cease holding services at the church at 15 Spruce St., according to a spokeswoman for the Episcopal Diocese of Maine.
Church officials said they offered the church and another building on the same lot to the town, hoping the property could continue to serve the community. One possibility might be as a food pantry, for which it has been used previously, said Heidi Shott, a diocese spokeswoman.
Read it all.
Could it not be — maybe? conceivably? — that politics and consolatory speeches and clever laws need a foundation of realism, one which acknowledges human affairs as the huge mess they are: too big, too inexplicable for the combined power of president and Congress to "change"?
Just a few days lie between Christmas and us. It was around this time, we hear, that the Son of God came to our rescue — not to perfect everything at that precise moment, but to invite repentance and amendment of life, before offering his own life as a sacrifice. Don't believe a word of it? The alternative is to believe another act of Congress will bring us finally to that gun-controlled paradise where the evil, the murderous and the frankly loony embrace the pure of heart. It might happen in heaven. I wouldn't count too much on watching as politicians throw open the gates.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Christmas * Culture-Watch Children Religion & Culture Rural/Town Life Violence * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Theodicy
That night, Weiss was called to the police station and was assigned to call at the homes of two victims, along with a state trooper and a grief counselor.
He knocked on one door at midnight — that of a husband whose wife had been killed in the shooting — and the next door at 1:30 a.m.
Weiss knew both families well. They belonged to his church.
In all those hours of counseling and comforting, no one asked the priest, “Why?” The question came later, starting on Sunday, and Weiss did not have an answer.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals Ministry of the Ordained Pastoral Care * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Rural/Town Life * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology Pastoral Theology
Completely chilling--read it carefully and read it all.
Not again. Here. In a school.
All over Connecticut Friday, people greeted each other with downcast eyes and a few mumbled words. Many cried, churches opened for prayer, events were canceled. Some veteran police officers and news reporters found it hard to keep their composure. Even the president fought back tears while speaking of the deaths.
The day felt, to those who remember it, like the somber, chilly day in 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was shot.
Read it all.
We’re more affluent than we were in the 1950s (if you don’t think so, try doing without your air conditioning, microwaves, smartphones, and Internet connections). And we have used this affluence to seal ourselves off in the America of our choosing while trying to ignore the other America.
We tend to choose the America that is culturally congenial. Most people in the San Francisco Bay area wouldn’t consider living in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex, even for much better money. Most metroplexers would never relocate to the Bay Area....
One America tends to be traditionally religious, personally charitable, appreciative of entrepreneurs, and suspicious of government. The other tends to be secular or only mildly religious, less charitable, skeptical of business, and supportive of government as an instrument to advance liberal causes.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Psychology Religion & Culture Rural/Town Life Sociology Urban/City Life and Issues * Economics, Politics Politics in General US Presidential Election 2012
It's rare to find a pastor who is attuned to how "place" informs human experience and community. But a discerning pastor can know more about this than most city planners, if they are attentive to the particular shape of the lives of their congregants and their community. Enter Eric O. Jacobsen (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary), a pastor of 14 years, the last 5 as senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Tacoma. "I am not a trained architect or urban planner, but an ordinary pastor who has always lived within walking distance of my church," he says.
Jacobsen's 2003 "break-out" book, Sidewalks in the Kingdom (Brazos Press), used the tenets of New Urbanism to help Christians recognize the value of local churches in local neighborhoods. Jacobsen calls his newest book, The Space Between: A Christian Engagement with the Built Environment (Baker Academic), a "more mature reflection" on the subject.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Rural/Town Life Urban/City Life and Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Housing/Real Estate Market * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
After decades of grinding poverty under successive military dictatorships, Myanmar’s rice farmers have a chance at a better future through rural reforms ushered in by the country’s quasi-civilian government. Microfinance is at the root of it.
The guarantees of small, low-interest loans to this least developed country’s debt-ridden farmers turn a page in the ledger of rural credit, which had virtually dried up within the small agriculture banking system during the 50 years of military rule, forcing farmers to borrow from money lenders at usurious interest rates.
Small loans ranging from 60 to 600 dollars are being offered to the agriculture sector by organisations like the Livelihood and Food Security Trust Fund (LIFT), a Western donor-backed microfinance initiative facilitated by the introduction last November of a microfinance law in Myanmar (also known as Burma).
Read it all.
Both victims have been described by family members as straight-laced women and diligent employees. [Dana] Woods, of Alvin, was a delivery driver for Papa John’s. [June] Guerry, an Alvin resident, was a stock clerk at Walmart and the mother of a 2-year-old daughter.
Read it all. Also, there has recently been an arrest in the case.
Mark Randall “Mack” Wolford was known all over Appalachia as a daring man of conviction. He believed that the Bible mandates that Christians handle serpents to test their faith in God — and that, if they are bitten, they trust in God alone to heal them.
He and other adherents cited Mark 16:17-18 as the reason for their practice: “And these signs will follow those who believe: in My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
The son of a serpent handler who himself died in 1983 after being bitten, Wolford was trying to keep the practice alive, both in West Virginia, where it is legal, and in neighboring states where it is not. He was the kind of man reporters love: articulate, friendly and appreciative of media attention....
Read it all.
Watch it all--please.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Rural/Town Life * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military
As the residents of tornado-ravaged Joplin, Mo. mark the one-year anniversary of the disaster that hit their community, a diocesan spokeswoman says they are seeing it as an opportunity for hope and continued recovery.
“We’re looking forward to just getting past the anniversary and continuing on our journey of recovery,” Renee Motazedi, development director for Joplin-area Catholic schools, told CNA on May 21.
“As a faith community we are looking forward to what lies ahead, to the opportunities that may come from such a disaster,” she added. “There’s a lot of hope there.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Rural/Town Life * General Interest Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic
While much of the frenzy has centered on Zimmerman's past run-ins with police and on Martin's musings and photos posted to Twitter and MySpace, the avalanche of coverage has been unable to resolve the most critical unknowns: Who instigated the final confrontation? Did Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain, have good reason to feel he was in danger? Did local police handle the case evenhandedly?
Past experience - for example, in the 1991 Rodney King beating - has demonstrated that facts aren't easily agreed to when cases take on a racial tinge. Opinions and preconceptions have even greater currency in an era of 24-hour news and social networking.
Read it all.
Primo Potpourri owner Richard Dutilly from Ocala, Florida has been ”doing “ the festival for nine years.
“It’s a beautiful festival – the best,” he said early Friday.
Coming for nearly three decades are Pete and Evelyn Richards. The couple has been part of the festival for 28 years. Their seashell flower creations are truly one-of-a kind gifts and decorations. The Richards have been married for 60 years and look forward to every spring and their booth at the festival.
Read it all and enjoy the pictures over there.
With the crack of baseball bats across the land, the singing season for Americans is about to begin. At ballparks from Saint Louis to San Diego, people will stand during the seventh-inning stretch and belt "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." They will feel the pleasure of singing a bouncy, easy song with thousands of other fans. They will be cheered by the sunny lyrics, even if their team is down. They will lose themselves in a bond stretching around the stadium, a few minutes of carefree unity.
And when the season's over, that'll be it until next spring.
Adults in America don't sing communally. Children routinely sing together in their schools and activities, and even infants have sing-alongs galore to attend. But past the age of majority, at grown-up commemorations, celebrations, and gatherings, this most essential human yawp of feeling—of marking, with a grace note, that we are together in this place at this time—usually goes missing.
Read it all.
Why were white clergy so reluctant to engage in this issue? It may be because they lead suburban congregations composed by and large of parishioners whose daily lives are socially isolated, antiseptic, homogeneous, and largely segregated by race and class. It may also be the lingering legacy of the South, except that many of the faith leaders, like those in the pews, have moved here from other regions of the country. They have different explanations for the silence. They may simply have been waiting for all the facts of the incident to emerge, and not rush to judgment.
"To be honest, I don't know why," said the Rev. David Charlton, the recently arrive pastor of Sanford's First United Methodist Church. "I don't have a good answer, and it's happened on my front steps."
Read it all (and alert blog readers are asked to note the quote from Bishop Greg Brewer mentioned in the previous blog post--KSH)
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to at KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Race/Race Relations Rural/Town Life Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General
Seven years after Florida adopted its sweeping self-defense law, the shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, has put that law at the center of an increasingly angry debate over how he was killed and whether law enforcement has the authority to charge the man who killed him.
The law, called Stand Your Ground, is one of 21 such laws around the country, many of them passed within the last few years. In Florida, it was pushed heavily by the National Rifle Association but opposed vigorously by law enforcement.
It gives the benefit of the doubt to a person who claims self-defense, regardless of whether the killing takes place on a street, in a car or in a bar — not just in one’s home, the standard cited in more restrictive laws. In Florida, if people feel they are in imminent danger from being killed or badly injured, they do not have to retreat, even if it would seem reasonable to do so. They have the right to “stand their ground” and protect themselves.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Rural/Town Life Violence * Economics, Politics Economy The U.S. Government Politics in General City Government State Government * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
"What concerns us is the message that it sends," said Atheist of Florida member Rob Curry. "A very chilling message that, if you're not a Christian, if you don't believe as we do, then you're not welcome."
Curry's referring to a road-anointing performed on CR 98 last year as part of the "Polk Under Prayer" campaign, where Christians poured olive oil on the asphalt and prayed over it, calling for a revival in the area.
Read it all.
Craig Bartholomew, a philosophy professor at Redeemer University College in Ancaster, Ontario, has been at work on a curious topic. "When people ask what I'm working on, and I say, 'place,' I get a blank stare," Bartholomew says. But examples help. "The home is a place, the city is a place, the university is a place, the mall is a place, and the placial dynamic of all these places must be attended to for people to flourish."
To exist at all, we must be somewhere. And as embodied creatures, we are implaced in specific contexts. Yet in contemporary culture, this aspect of human existence is threatened by what Bartholomew calls a "crisis of place" created by several elements of our technological society. To fully flourish as human beings—and to flourish as entire communities—Bartholomew argues, we need to recover the lost art of placemaking.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Books Philosophy Psychology Religion & Culture Rural/Town Life Urban/City Life and Issues * International News & Commentary Canada * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology
Kerns said he and other officers had met with the church’s pastor, Demarius Hardy, who had promised to work on soundproofing the church. Hardy, who has not responded to requests by the newspaper for an interview, had already moved the drum set to another part of the church and built a wooden partition around it to reduce the noise.
“This is a church,” said Chief Mike Williams. “However, the bottom line problem is the building itself.” Kerns said, “This building is a metal building with a glass front,” which doesn’t do much to keep the noise of amplifiers and drums inside. He said in his most recent discussion with Hardy, the pastor told him he had $1,000 to use for more soundproofing.
Read it all.
Roswell, Georgia--The waiting list for subsidized housing here, just 40 families long a year ago, is up to 500. The number of children eligible for free or reduced lunch is up 50%. A little more than a year ago, the Methodist church began seminars for marriages strained by job losses.
Roswell is a pre-Civil War cotton mill town that grew into a wealthy bedroom community of Atlanta as the metro area prospered. More than half the city's 88,000 residents have four-year college degrees. But Roswell sits in a region with an unusually severe case of long-term unemployment: About 40% of the unemployed in the Atlanta metro area in 2010, the most recent local data available, were out of work for a year or more versus the national average of 29%.
One of them is Marcy Bronner, 57 years old. When she lost her job at Pennzoil back in 2000, it took her seven months to find a new one at Quintiles, a bio- and pharmaceutical-services company....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Rural/Town Life * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- Politics in General City Government
A Republican Party whose more energetic precincts have been gripped throughout the Obama presidency by a desire to expel moderates and upend the establishment will have put itself in the hands of a candidate who, more than anyone in the race, comes out of a moderate, establishment Republican tradition.
But to get there — or get there without a protracted battle — he will have to fend off efforts by his rivals in South Carolina to emerge as the singular anti-Romney candidate.
With little left to lose, Newt Gingrich and Gov. Rick Perry of Texas are already assailing him as a heartless job killer in South Carolina, a state hit far harder by the economic downturn than Iowa and New Hampshire were.
But just fending off that attack may not be enough. He is also heading smack into an issue that has followed him through his national political career: his Mormon faith and the suspicion many evangelical Christians have of it.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Rural/Town Life Urban/City Life and Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- Politics in General * South Carolina
Pseudoephedrine is found in over-the-counter cold medicines such as Sudafed. While these pills may provide relief to cold sufferers, to criminals who are in the business of making meth, these pills are gold. Meth-makers legally buy as much of the raw product as they can at local pharmacies and drug stores.
A federal law designed to crack down on methamphetamine abuse sets a hard limit on pseudoephedrine: No more than nine grams, or about seven packs, per customer each month. But to get around that limit, which is electronically tracked by drug stores in certain states, meth users will team up so that each can buy the maximum at once. [Deputy director Dan] Smoot explained that it's a practice known as "smurfing," named after the little blue cartoon characters, Smurfs, who are small, but mighty as a team.
Caught this one on the morning run. The video is highly recommended if you have time. Did you know that Kentucky is number 3 in America in Methamphetamine production? I didn't. Read it all--KSH.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Drugs/Drug Addiction Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Rural/Town Life * Economics, Politics Economy The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
It’s official: Kayla Helferich of Summerville has the prettiest eyes in the land.
Kayla, 8, won the designation during a Prevent Blindness America banquet in Chicago last week.
She won a $25,000 college scholarship and a spot as the face of the organization’s Star Pupils campaign, which promotes children’s eye health.
Read it all and you just have to love the picture.
The vote by officials in Alabama’s most populous county occurred about a month after Pennsylvania’s capital of Harrisburg sought court protection citing millions in overdue bond payments tied to a trash-to-energy incinerator. A Jefferson filing would eclipse that of California’s Orange County in 1994. The action might reignite concerns among investors over defaults in the $2.9 trillion U.S. municipal bond market.
“It’s going to create attention-grabbing headlines, and the question is how retail investors react,” Peter Hayes, a managing director at BlackRock Inc., the world’s largest asset manager and the owner of $95.6 billion of municipal bonds, said before today’s decision.
Read it all.
Update: I found the following map helpful in terms of locating where Jefferson County is.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Rural/Town Life * Economics, Politics Economy Credit Markets The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- Politics in General City Government
You have to love the picture--read it all.
Watch it all--tremendous stuff.
On a crisp Sunday morning outside this rural Southern town last spring, leather jacketed bikers rode their thundering Harley Davidsons down a quiet country road to a large red barn they call their church.
The lawn was covered with glistening motorcycles and wide-handled choppers. The lot was crowded with bikers exchanging loud greetings and bear hugs as they waited for the Sunday service, which they call a “worship rally” to begin. Their leather jackets – some deeply creased from years spent “serving Satan” – bore patches reading, “Riding for Jesus” and “Jesus Saves Bikers too.” At 10 a.m. the bikers joined hands, bowed heads and formed a large prayer circle that some might have mistaken for something else.
Mike Beasley, the large ponytailed, bandana-wearing preacher of the Angier Freedom Biker Church, spoke out to his flock.
Read it all.
Wearing a bulletproof vest and a ball cap marked "POLICE," Rich Riney grabbed a ringing phone off a wood-paneled wall in the squat, cinder-block building where he works.
"Cottageville Police Department," he said in a perfect, customer-service tone of voice.
Not only is Riney an on-duty patrolman and a lieutenant in this three-man department, he's the receptionist, too. And, thanks to budget cuts, he and the other guys also are part-time housekeepers these days. "We had to get rid of the cleaning crew," Riney said. "And we cut back on landscaping to two times a month instead of every week."
Read it all.
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