Posted by Kendall Harmon

Contrary to popular perception, tolerance of all remains one of Britain’s most redeeming features. This is a proud Christian country which is also respectful, and appreciative, of people who hold other faiths in a multi-cultural society. The regret is this is being overshadowed by those who hold extreme positions, whether it be intolerant liberals who don’t want Christians to demonstrate their faith, or the violence meted out against Muslims, and with the most tragic of consequences on occasion. This is a proud Christian country which is also respectful, and appreciative, of people who hold other faiths in a multi-cultural society. The regret is this is being overshadowed by those who hold extreme positions, whether it be intolerant liberals who don’t want Christians to demonstrate their faith, or the violence meted out against Muslims, and with the most tragic of consequences on occasion.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 3, 2016 at 12:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are Christians who worry about whether they can or cannot speak about their faith at work. This is a fact. There are Christians who worry about it. However, that is not to say that their concern is justified. Furthermore, we cannot – and should not – extrapolate from (for example) one media report of a Christian being disciplined for doing so to a judgement that all Christians are concerned. This is patent nonsense. Theresa May was following a report that said we should grow up and use common sense.

I did not use the word “scared”. I did not “slam” (as I am being reported to be doing) anyone. I also said clearly that this is not a concern for me and that we should get on with it with confidence.

The bit about secularists was simply that there is too often an assumption that there is a potential tension between the faiths and that others might be offended by Christians talking about their faith or the content of Christmas. This also is nonsense. However, there can be an illiberal element to some liberals who are tolerant only of those who consent to their understanding of liberalism or tolerance. That is true. However, it is not to say that all liberals are illiberal.

Read it all and you can find a Yorkshire post article on this there.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 3, 2016 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More than half of British Muslims want to “fully integrate” with society, according to the most extensive survey of its kind.

Research involving more than 3,000 Muslims shows that they broadly share the views and priorities of the wider population, rather than being shaped by supposedly “Islamic” concerns. Ninety-three per cent feel a fairly or very strong attachment to Britain and are likely to identify the NHS, unemployment and immigration as the biggest issues facing the country.

British Muslims were more likely than the general population to condemn terrorism, the survey by ICM and Policy Exchange, the right-of-centre think tank, found. They were also more likely to give credence to conspiracy theories that the United States government or Jewish influences were behind the September 11 attacks.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMulticulturalism, pluralismReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 2, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

New video, obtained by ABC News, shows Farook two days before the attack practicing at a local firing range with a pistol and an assault rifle that a friend bought for him

The video shows Farook adjusting the sights on his rifle and then firing at paper torso silhouette targets, one of which was later recovered in the shooters’ vehicle and led authorities to the range.

“They had high-powered weaponry. They had lots of ammunition. They had bombs at their disposal,” said Burguan.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted December 2, 2016 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Europol has warned that militants from so-called Islamic State (IS) will aim to step up attacks on European targets, as they face defeat in the Middle East.
The European police force says more foreign fighters will try to come back to Europe, and "several dozen" capable of attacks could already be there.
Their tactics could include car bombs, kidnappings and extortion, it said.
But the report plays down the likelihood of attacks on critical infrastructure, such as nuclear sites.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEurope* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 2, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

he governments of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have all outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood as a terror organization and want Whitehall to ban the Muslim Brotherhood’s ability to operate in Britain. These Arab countries insist that Muslim Brotherhood activists are taking advantage of Britain’s tolerant attitude toward Islamist groups to plot terror attacks in the Arab world, allegations that the Muslim Brotherhood denies, claiming that it is opposed to terrorism and violence. Pro-Western Arab states also still resent Britain and America’s involvement in supporting the removal of Mr. Mubarak, who had been a loyal ally of Western policy in the region, dating back at least to the First Gulf War.

The review’s failure to come out strongly against the Muslim Brotherhood is now causing the British government some major headaches. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have reportedly threatened to cancel lucrative trade deals with Britain in retaliation for the inquiry. Meanwhile, the British government has been heavily criticized by the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs as well as highly vocal pro-Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Britain, who claim the review failed to take into account the brutal repression Muslim Brotherhood supporters suffered at the hands of the Egyptian security authorities after President Sisi came to power.

The continuing controversy certainly serves as an indictment of Mr. Cameron’s ill-advised meddling in Egyptian politics. Like many supporters of the Arab Spring, he took at face value the Muslim Brotherhood’s claim to be a reforming and democratic party that would transform Egypt’s political landscape following the endemic corruption of the Mubarak regime.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgyptSaudi ArabiaUAE (United Arab Emirates)* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 1, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It has never been easy to put a Muslim character on American screens.

Even in this TV renaissance, most characters are on shows that rely on terrorism — or at least, terrorist-adjacent — story lines. Other kinds of Muslim characters are woefully absent across the dial. Could that change now, after a divisive presidential campaign that included vows by Donald J. Trump to stop Islamic immigration? Or will it be more difficult than ever?

Less than two weeks after Election Day, five showrunners gathered in New York to discuss the representation of Muslims on TV. Howard Gordon, a creator of “24” and “Homeland,” has faced these issues the longest; after “24” emerged as a lightning rod for its stereotyped depictions, he engaged with Islamic community groups to broaden his understanding. (Mr. Gordon is an executive producer of the rebooted “24: Legacy,” debuting in February.) Joshua Safran is the creator of “Quantico,” an ABC series about F.B.I. operatives.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted December 1, 2016 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For at least the first few sessions with men who have survived horrific violence during the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria’s north-east, therapist Kingsley Nworah knows to expect lots of long silences and scepticism.

After he helps the group establish trust, he typically then witnesses a deluge of emotions and often tears from the men as they begin to “face demons”, says Mr Nworah of the International Committee for the Red Cross.

He stresses that far too few from among the more than 2m Nigerians who fled their homes as the Islamist extremist group raped, kidnapped and murdered its way across the region have access to this type of support.

About half of those who endured the war are probably suffering from trauma and its side effects such as depression, say mental health specialists. If this problem is left untreated it will “threaten the future of the country,” says Lateef Sheikh, medical director of a psychiatric hospital in the northern city of Kaduna, where some survivors have been treated.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicinePsychologyReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 28, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Islamic State is being crushed, its fighters are in retreat and the caliphate it sought to build in the image of a bygone glory is crumbling.

The biggest losers, however, are not the militants, who will fulfill their dreams of death or slink into the desert to regroup, but the millions of ordinary Sunnis whose lives have been ravaged by their murderous rampage.

No religious or ethnic group was left unscathed by the Islamic State’s sweep through Iraq and Syria. Shiites, Kurds, Christians and the tiny Yazidi minority have all been victims of a campaign of atrocities, and they now are fighting and dying in the battles to defeat the militants.

But the vast majority of the territory overrun by the Islamic State was historically populated by Sunni Arabs, adherents of the branch of Islam that the group claims to champion and whose interests the militants profess to represent. The vast majority of the 4.2 million Iraqis who have been displaced from their homes by the Islamic State’s war are Sunnis. And as the offensives get underway to capture Mosul, Iraq’s biggest Sunni city, and Raqqa, the group’s self-proclaimed capital in Syria, more Sunni towns and villages are being demolished, and more Sunni livelihoods are being destroyed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 26, 2016 at 3:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the summer of 2015, armed American drones over eastern Syria stalked Junaid Hussain, an influential hacker and recruiter for the Islamic State.

For weeks, Mr. Hussain was careful to keep his young stepson by his side, and the drones held their fire. But late one night, Mr. Hussain left an internet cafe alone, and minutes later a Hellfire missile killed him as he walked between two buildings in Raqqa, Syria, the Islamic State’s de facto capital.

Mr. Hussain, a 21-year-old from Birmingham, England, was a leader of a band of English-speaking computer specialists who had given a far-reaching megaphone to Islamic State propaganda and exhorted online followers to carry out attacks in the West. One by one, American and allied forces have killed the most important of roughly a dozen members of the cell, which the F.B.I. calls “the Legion,” as part of a secretive campaign that has largely silenced a powerful voice that led to a surge of counterterrorism activity across the United States in 2015 as young men and women came under the influence of its propaganda.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 25, 2016 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A search for somewhere convenient for Friday prayers has led to an unusual joining of two communities.

Every Friday, St Paul’s Anglican church in Beaconsfield, just outside Western Australia’s port city of Fremantle, hosts Muslim prayers in its community hall.

Fittingly, the hall was the original church.

Read it all (and there is a video also).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted November 25, 2016 at 10:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It’s very difficult to understand the things that impel people to some of the dreadful actions that we have seen over the last few years unless you have some sense of religious literacy. You may reject and condemn it – that’s fine – but you still need to understand what they’re talking about.

And in order to understand, religious people in Europe must regain the ability to share our religious vocabulary with the rest of the continent. If we treat religiously-motivated violence solely as a security issue, or a political issue, then it will be incredibly difficult – probably impossible – to overcome it. A theological voice needs to be part of the response, and we should not be bashful in offering that.

This requires a move away from the argument that has become increasingly popular, which is to say that ISIS is ‘nothing to do with Islam’, or that Christian militia in the Central African Republic are nothing to do with Christianity, or Hindu nationalist persecution of Christians in South India is nothing to do with Hinduism. Until religious leaders stand up and take responsibility for the actions of those who do things in the name of their religion, we will see no resolution.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEurope* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...yet the “sky is not falling” because her story, like Elizabeth Gilbert’s before her, is hardly new. The gospel of self-fulfillment has been centuries in the making. As Charles Taylor explains in his dense, scholarly A Secular Age, the new invention of the modern age is a self-sufficing humanism that “accept[s] no final goals beyond human flourishing, nor any allegiance to anything else beyond this flourishing. Of no previous society was this true.” In other words, happiness is our only duty today, self-betrayal our only sin. It’s not simply that the lines of morality have blurred in modern times, making truth relative. It’s not even that religious belief has waned. Rather, the good life has been radically redefined according to the benefit of the individual while the former measures of flourishing—God’s glory, society’s health, the family’s well-being—have been displaced. We’re all on the throne now.

Melton is as modern as she boasts—even if her effusive references to “love” and “joy” are reassuringly offered to confirm that her choices are in everyone’s best interest. From the public announcements both of her divorce and her new dating relationship, she wants us to understand this: The greatest gift any of us gives to the world is our true self. Let’s not look to anyone else for permission or feel any obligation for explanation. Humans flourish as they obey their desires.

But the seismic nature of Melton’s recent revelation and the aftershocks felt by her adoring fans suggests that the sky might be falling in some new way. Because while the self-fulfillment narrative isn’t new, here’s what is: how easily and insidiously it gets baptized as a Christian story. Melton hasn’t simply said: I should be happy. She has emphatically said: God should be equally and unequivocally committed to my happiness as I am.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyAnthropologyApologeticsEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted November 21, 2016 at 5:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The US city of Bloomington in Indiana has renamed Good Friday and Columbus Day as "Spring Holiday" and "Fall Holiday" to be more "inclusive".
Mayor John Hamilton said the move would "better reflect cultural sensitivity in the workplace", local media said.
Bloomington is a traditionally liberal city. Its county gave Hillary Clinton 58.6% in the presidential election.
But the move sparked a backlash on social media, with opponents condemning it as an act of political correctness.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMulticulturalism, pluralismPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 21, 2016 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

AS part of efforts aimed at reducing the high level of civilian casualties being recorded in the ongoing war against insurgency in the North East, the British military has begun training of Nigerian soldiers on mitigation of collateral damage.

The development came as the Defence Headquarters in collaboration with the Centre for Civilians in Conflict, CIVIC, also began a multi-stakeholder high level dialogue on strengthening civilian protection and harm mitigation policy practice.

Read it all from the Vanguard.


Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeriaEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 21, 2016 at 1:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Children as young as seven are being signed up to be frozen after their death by the organisation at the centre of the controversy over cryonics.

Cryonics UK, which prepares bodies for long-term frozen storage in the US, said it had about “four or five” children on its membership list. The youngest person it had been asked to freeze was seven, but the arrangements could not be made before the child died.

Tim Gibson, 45, a committee member of Cryonics UK, which operates as a charity, said there was no age limit for children to be frozen. The cost of the procedure is about £45,000 and is offered in the hope that those who have died might be resuscitated in the future.

Read it all (subscription required).


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPsychology* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyEschatology

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Posted November 20, 2016 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Abu Sayyaf, once written off as one of the global jihadist movement’s also-rans, is gaining strength in the southern Philippines by chasing down high-value victims at sea and ransoming them off for millions of dollars.

After a relative lull for most of a decade, kidnappings have surged to more than 20 annually since 2014, when the group’s main leader Isnilon Hapilon swore allegiance to Islamic State.

That rebranding—and the accompanying brutality, including beheadings—has generated international headlines and raised fears that the island-dotted region could re-emerge as a hub for Islamist terrorists, as it was for al Qaeda in the 1990s.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureTravelViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAsiaPhilippines* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 19, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Indonesia’s most prominent Christian politician is to be prosecuted for blasphemy in a victory for conservative Islam in the world’s biggest Muslim nation.

Police named Basuki Tjahja Purnama, the governor of Jakarta, as a criminal suspect, following huge and deadly protests against him in the capital this month. The prosecution of Mr Basuki, who is also unusual among Indonesian politicians in being ethnically Chinese, brings into the open old and sometimes violent divisions between the Muslim majority and practitioners of other religions.

In September, while campaigning for next year’s election to the Jakarta governorship, Mr Basuki joked about political opponents who had cited Koranic verses in arguing that a Christian should not hold high office. He said that they had “deceived” their audience, a statement which has been taken up by his antagonists as a blasphemous commentary on the Koran by a “kafir”, or non-Muslim.

Read it all (requires subscription)

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndonesia* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 16, 2016 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Today at Lambeth Palace ‘In Good Faith’, a new Christian-Jewish dialogue project, was launched. This is a joint initiative of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations, Ephraim Mirvis. Modelled on their own well rooted friendship, this partnership programme will ensure Priests and Rabbis based in close geographical proximity will be encouraged to explore mutual concerns and opportunities for shared action together, initially for the next year.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis explained their vision and hope for the programme and its place within their respective understandings of the role of faith in society.

Archbishop Justin said: “It is in the everyday conversations, the grassroots initiatives and the building of local bridges between Christians and Jews, our synagogues and churches, that we will see real change and the hope for a divided world and nation….. I am so grateful to you for signalling hope when the temptation is to succumb to world-weary cynicism, pessimism, defeatism and even despair.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsJudaism

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon




As of 2014, there were roughly 245 million adults in the United States, including 173 million Christians and 56 million people without a religious affiliation. These are big numbers that, along with many others in the religious demographic pie, can at times make it difficult to fully understand the American religious landscape.

But what if we looked at this big picture a little differently? What if we imagined the United States as a small town, population 100, instead of a continent-spanning nation with hundreds of millions of people? Doing so presents an interesting thought experiment because it allows us to see basic data about the U.S. and its people in a fresh, simple and illuminating way.

The following five charts use data from the 2014 Religious Landscape Study to create a religious demographic profile of the U.S. if the country were made up of exactly 100 adults.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther Faiths

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Posted November 15, 2016 at 6:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This year’s presidential election may well be the most divisive in U.S. history, pitting liberals and conservatives against one another perhaps more bitterly than ever before, and the two major-party candidates seem in many ways to reflect cultural ills and political corruption that have been brewing for decades. On both the right and the left, countless citizens appear to believe that one candidate or the other will bring about the “end of America.” Conservatives argue that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton will, among other things, transform the Supreme Court into a progressive super-legislature to impose its anti-democratic will for a generation. Meanwhile, liberals maintain that Republican nominee Donald Trump will deport millions of minorities and exacerbate existing racial tension to the detriment of less-privileged Americans.

It is easy to allow the evident failures of our political system — culminating in the simultaneous nomination of perhaps the two most dishonest, corrupt presidential nominees in U.S. history — to consume our focus and destroy our confidence in the future of our country. But as these seemingly endless debates absorb our attention and ongoing rancor pollutes our national dialogue, millions of people around the world face genocide, and they fear for their lives and those of their children.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenateTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastEgyptIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 7, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In an interview with CNN earlier this year, Adeeb Joudeh, the current keeper of the key — an old, cast-iron object that's a foot long — considered his family's hereditary task to be a metaphor for religious tolerance.

"For me, the source of coexistence for Islamic and Christian religions is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre," he said.

His counterpart, Wajeeh Nuseibeh, described the vital role of these two Muslim families in Jerusalem to the San Francisco Chronicle in 2005.

"Like all brothers, they sometimes have problems," he said, referring to the feuding Christian sects. "We help them settle their disputes. We are the neutral people in the church. We are the United Nations. We help preserve peace in this holy place."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted November 2, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An elderly Christian widow who survived two years of Islamic State rule over her northern Iraqi town said the jihadists threatened to kill her, forced her to spit on a crucifix and made her stamp on an image of the Virgin Mary.

Zarifa Badoos Daddo, 77, was reunited with her family on Sunday after Iraqi forces drove Islamic State from Qaraqosh as they advanced on Mosul, the militants’ last major urban bastion in the country. The forces found her sheltering in a house they thought was abandoned or booby-trapped with explosives.

Most residents of Qaraqosh – Iraq’s largest Christian town – had fled toward the country’s autonomous Kurdish region more than two years ago as the jihadists approached, but Daddo stayed on with another elderly woman.

Her relatives had long feared she was dead.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted November 1, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians are finally returning to the Church of the Immaculate Conception. In the courtyard, they find piles of shell casings and mannequin torsos riddled with bullet holes. The Islamic State fighters who held the building until just a few days ago used the space for target practice.

The cavernous interior of the church, the largest in Iraq, is charred and black. The floors are strewn with trash. Islamic State fighters destroyed the crosses and burned any religious books they could find. Now a man is searching through the rubble, salvaging scraps of manuscripts in Aramaic, the ancient language spoken by Jesus.

A small group of priests and local people gathers around the altar, and for the first time in two years, the sound of prayer fills the hall. Gunfire and shelling can still be heard not far away. A man goes up to the darkened altar and kisses it, shaking his head in disbelief at the level of destruction. One of the priests finds a few pieces of communion wafer and wraps them respectfully in paper. “This is Christ’s body, after all,” he says.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 31, 2016 at 4:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are indications that life for Christians in Iraq, including in liberated areas of Nineveh, will not be easy. Some see troubling signs that certain politicians in Iraq – and in neighboring regional power Turkey – will try to build their own empires or caliphates on the rubble of the one ISIS attempted.

After the liberation from ISIS of historically Christian towns in the Nineveh region of Iraq last week, Patriarch Luis Raphael Sako of the Chaldean Catholic Church visited several of the newly-freed areas.

“These are our lands, Christian lands and villages,” Patriach Sako, the Baghdad-based spiritual leader of many of Iraq’s Christians said. He added that Christians would soon return to their ancestral lands, according to AsiaNews.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted October 31, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We live in very challenging times for Christians in the West. There are cultural forces that unsettle and disturb the Church, and at times threaten to engulf it.

The tragedy is that many Christians and many church leaders are swept away by many developments that are at odds with our faith. They are lost or missing in action and have become victims of cultural struggles and differences that have always been with us since the very beginnings of Christianity. Others have changed sides and actively campaign against faith positions they once held dear.

There are several developments which I find appalling and which I will loosely group around issues to do with Christianity and western law which have long themselves been linked.

1. It is absolutely chilling that Ashers Bakery in Northern Ireland have lost their case in the Court of Appeal. The original ruling was that Ashers had discriminated against a gay man because they refused to bake a cake that carried a pro-gay marriage slogan. Let’s not forget that Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that retains the previous perfectly serviceable and Christian definition of marriage. The Ashers Bakery contended that they are happy to bake cakes for anyone but would have refused to bake a cake supporting gay marriage even if a heterosexual had asked them to do so....

Read it all (subscription required).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mr. Anderson’s organization compiled a 300-page report at the request of the State Department documenting ISIS genocide of Christians in Iraq. Besides the toxic level of displacement, the report contains graphic detail confirming that at least 1,100 Christians have been murdered by Islamic militants in Iraq since 2003, though the number is almost certainly higher now. Yet U.S. officials seem to be ignoring these findings, even though the report pushed Washington to legally declare ISIS’s actions a “genocide.”

Exile is at the heart of the Christian message. The Old Testament Jews wandered in the wilderness and the savior Jesus Christ “had no place to lay his head.” His apostle Paul wrote four of his New Testament epistles from prison. The Christians in Iraq know this is their story, too. Yet being vanquished forever from this heartland is a terrible fate to contemplate.

Noura’s family is hopeful, but they’ve already lost everything—material possessions and friends and family—to ISIS. The tricycle photo is all that remains of Noura’s other life, and she had to download it from Facebook. She told me that “the hardest thing to lose is my memories.” But her future may be threatened too.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 28, 2016 at 3:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In order that every appearance of pantheism, naturalism or nihilism be avoided, it is not permitted to scatter the ashes of the faithful departed in the air, on land, at sea or in some other way, nor may they be preserved in mementos, pieces of jewelry or other objects. These courses of action cannot be legitimized by an appeal to the sanitary, social, or economic motives that may have occasioned the choice of cremation.

When the deceased notoriously has requested cremation and the scattering of their ashes for reasons contrary to the Christian faith, a Christian funeral must be denied to that person according to the norms of the law.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis Other Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 26, 2016 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Throughout Germany, the pews of churches like theirs are filled increasingly by asylum-seekers. Though two umbrella church organizations told me that they couldn’t provide exact statistics or comment on the nationality of the asylum-seekers attending church, Christoph Heil, a spokesman for the Protestant Church of Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lusatia—which includes 1,300 parishes—confirmed the pattern. “Normally we don’t count the number of asylum-seekers who are baptized because we don’t differentiate between who is an asylum-seeker and who isn’t, but [asylum-seekers asking to be baptized] appears to be a new trend,” he said.

Muslim converts to Christianity that I spoke to in Germany cited the redemptive power of Jesus’s story, and disillusionment with Islam. It’s also worth noting the more earthly forces potentially at work: Germany does not grant refugee status to Iranians as easily as it does Syrians and Iraqis. Around 27,000 Iranians applied for asylum in the EU in 2015, with Germany hosting the overwhelming majority; according to Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, 60 percent of Iranian requests for asylum received positive answers that year. Iranians seeking refugee status must prove that if they are sent home, they stand the risk of being persecuted for their beliefs. In Iran, that often means Christian converts.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermanyMiddle EastIran* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristology

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Posted October 22, 2016 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Religious groups attended a Foreign Office conference this week on preventing violent extremism: a phenomenon described as “the biggest challenge of our generation” by the Minister for Human Rights, Baroness Anelay.

“I have seen allegations that religion can cause violence,” she said on Tuesday. “I would say it is politicians that use religion as an excuse.” She spoke of a desire to use the “expertise and experience” of faith leaders to “find ways to work together to ensure that young people grow up tolerant of each other . . . and be in a strong position to resist the siren call of extremists, who have a very perverted view of what religion comprises”.

More than 50 speakers were scheduled to speak at the conference, to more than 170 participants. They were given the task, Baroness Anelay said, of producing “practical ideas” on how to tackle extremism. The event was “not intended to be something to reach out to people, but us to then go out and put our ideas into practice”.

Read it all.

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

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Posted October 21, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“People can decide for themselves what their graves should look like, but the cemetery will be free of all religious and nationalist symbols,” said Erdem.

He also stressed that the cemetery wasn't just for atheists. Believers too could apply to be buried there, as long as they were happy to keep the religious element of their identity out of sight.

Located close to the city’s Stora Tuna church, the cemetery remains empty for now, but several locals have expressed an interest.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeSweden* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheismSecularism* Theology

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Posted October 20, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mike Berenstain became a designer at Random House and then a children’s-book writer and illustrator for about 10 years before being called in by his overworked parents to help out with the family business in the mid-1980s. Stan died in 2005, and after that, Mike was left in charge of the writing; his mother continued to co-illustrate the stories along with Mike until she died in 2012. Mike took over as sole author and illustrator, and the books began to reflect more of his own personality, even as he served as the faithful executor of his parents’ vision. This led to a disconnect between his family’s stolid, universalist postwar morality and his own.

Stan Berenstain had been born to a secular Jewish family in West Philadelphia, and Jan Berenstain, née Grant, was Episcopalian by birth. Mike and his brother were not raised in any particular religious faith. “They taught me morals and traditions and ethics, but not a particular spiritual identity,” he says. Mike didn’t find religion until he enrolled his children at Quaker schools near his suburban Philadelphia home, which led him to the Presbyterian Church and a mature religious faith of his own.

In 2006, Mike Berenstain, with the agreement of his mother, approached HarperCollins with an idea for a new book series. They had noticed an unusual volume of letters and emails from devoted Christian readers, writing to share their appreciation for the timeless values of the Berenstain Bears books. A light went off: How about an entire series for religious readers?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksChildrenHistoryReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianOther FaithsJudaism* Theology

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Posted October 20, 2016 at 6:00 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

This [past] week many around the world have prayed for the Pakistani Supreme Court hearing for Asia Bibi that took place yesterday. Over the years, I have written a number of articles on these pages describing the horrific plight of Asia Bibi. Asia Bibi is a Pakistani Christian, and a married mother of five, who was sentenced to death by hanging under Pakistan’s notorious criminal code section 295(c), which prescribes the death penalty for “insulting” Mohammed and Islam. What was her “crime?” It was in June 2009, while working in the fields, that she was sent to bring water for the other farm workers. Some of the Moslem workers refused to drink the water she brought as they considered water touched by Christians to be “unclean.” Her co-workers then complained to the local authorities that she made derogatory comments about Mohammed. What was the derogatory comment she was alleged to have made? The Moslem women claimed that Asia Bibi said: “I believe in my religion and in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the sins of mankind. What did your prophet Mohammed ever do to save mankind?” Asia Bibi is illiterate, and is considered to be an uneducated woman, but she asked a deeply profound question.

Read it all from Touchstone.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted October 18, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Built into the Christian faith is a powerful and comprehensive dynamic towards doing good. Of course anybody can conceive of a programme for dealing with what's wrong with the world. The problem is that good intentions are inadequate without motivation. Fortunately, Christianity supplies exactly that. For Christians the motive for good deeds is simply the gratitude we feel in response to God's grace in Christ. There is the expectation that we are to become progressively more like the Christ who redeemed us.

Read it all

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism

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Posted October 17, 2016 at 7:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the tug of war between religious freedom and nondiscrimination rights, the weight seems to be pulling toward the latter.

At least that's the view of 17 religious leaders — including LDS Church Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé — who addressed their concerns with the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights' recent report in an Oct. 7 letter to President Barack Obama, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch.

The report, titled "Peaceful Coexistence: Reconciling Nondiscrimination Principles With Civil Liberties," comes down squarely on the side of civil liberties for individuals, the letter says, and "stigmatizes tens of millions of religious Americans, their communities, and their faith-based institutions, and threatens the religious freedom of all our citizens."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsMormons* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 15, 2016 at 1:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Where the new atheists go wrong, Mr Eagleton says, is in failing to see the symbiotic relationship between the Western world, with all its technological and cultural prowess, and the advent of global jihadism. To back up that point, he might have been expected to focus on America's cold-war role in south Asia, supporting holy war in Afghanistan and treating President Zia-ul-Haq, who took Pakistan down an Islamist path, as a strategic ally. Instead he chose an example a little further to the east:
In the earlier decades of the 20th century, the rolling back of liberal, secular and left-nationalist forces in the Muslim world by the West for its own imperial purposes (it supported the massacre of half a million leftists in Indonesia, for example) created a political vacuum in that vital geopolitical region into which Islamism was able to move.
In other words, to the new-atheist characterisation of militant Islam as "all their fault", a new, gratuitous form of evil in the world which must simply be resisted rather than understood or analysed, Mr Eagleton counter-proposes something more like "it's all our fault." He is not, of course, the only leftist thinker to make that argument.

Mr Eagleton is eloquent when he elaborates on the enduring power of faith as a source of cohesion and inspiration in most human societies. But both he and his new-atheist adversaries can sometimes fall into the trap of bunching together different forms of religion. Religion can do (and mostly does) the commendable job of connecting people's everyday lives and actions with great imperishable truths, without inspiring them to go out and kill themselves and other people. Indeed it can often be a powerful restraint on people's impulse to engage in that sort of act. The discussion only becomes interesting when you acknowledge that religion can have diametrically opposing effects, in different circumstances, and ask why this is so.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPhilosophyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheismIslam* Theology

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Posted October 15, 2016 at 11:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jews rightly take pride in their culture of self-accountability—before the Ultimate Judge and justly established human authorities. This culture has created and sustained a remarkably resilient people. Lamenting the excesses of the current American electoral cycle, the columnist Ira Stoll imagines how much richer the country’s politics would be if “this spirit of self-examination were exported from the Jewish religion into the rest of American culture.” If democracy requires the patient improvement of life in a community, nothing furthers that goal better than the practice of individual and collective self-scrutiny.

But the millennial-long history of Jewish self-restraint also stands as a warning. It is all very well to focus on overcoming your failings. Yet the search for moral perfection can also render individuals, and nations, prey to those who believe in conquest rather than self-conquest and who join in holding you accountable for their misdeeds. The same confessional posture, praiseworthy when standing before the Perfect Judge, becomes blameworthy when adopted before an enemy that has you before a rigged tribunal.

In the 20th century, some modern European thinkers and political leaders began singling out the Jews for their alleged racial or religious or social culpabilities. Many Jews felt obliged to answer apologetically for these supposed failings, instead of exposing the evil ideology that had chosen them for its target. Jewish Marxists, for example, blamed Jewish capitalists and bourgeoisie, even though defamation was leveled equally at Jewish professionals, artisans, journalists and paupers.

No sooner had the politics of Jew-blame reached its genocidal apotheosis in Europe than it was taken up in the Middle East.Rather than accepting the principle of co-existence and concentrating on improving the lives of their own subjects, Arab leaders refused Jews the right to their homeland in a war that they, the Arab leaders, had initiated. Forcing almost a million Jews from their ancient communities in Arab lands, the same leaders blamed Israel for Arab refugees whom they themselves refused to resettle.

This calumny is by now the basis of political coalitions not only at the United Nations and in Europe but on campuses here in the U.S.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 7, 2016 at 11:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The scene still haunts me: It was perhaps the most awful moment of the past year. Against the pale blue sky on a crystal clear Florida day, the space shuttle challenger exploded before our very eyes. Seven brave astronauts, who just a few hours before were chatting with the press, schmoozing with proud relatives and friends, were suddenly gone.

I bring this to your attention because life and death is a major theme of Yom Kippur. We read in our Mahzor
Who shall live, and who shall die?
Who shall attain the measure of man’s days and who shall not?
On Rosh Hashanah, it is inscribed and on Yom Kippur, it is sealed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 4, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Thirty years ago, amid the somber prayers of Judaism’s holiest day, Rabbi Kenneth Berger rose to deliver the Yom Kippur sermon. He spoke to his congregants about a tragedy many of them, including his daughter, had witnessed eight months earlier in the Florida sky: the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger.

Rabbi Berger focused on one particular detail, the revelation that Challenger’s seven astronauts had remained alive for the 65,000-foot fall to the ocean. He called the homily “Five Minutes to Live,” and he likened the crew members to Jews, who are called during the High Holy Days to engage in the process of “heshbon ha-nefesh,” Hebrew for taking stock of one’s soul.

“Can you imagine knowing that in a few moments death was imminent?” Rabbi Berger said at the Congregation Rodeph Sholom in Tampa, Fla. “What would we think of if, God forbid, you and I were in such circumstances? What would go through our mind...?”

He touched on the ordinary ways that people forget to express love for their families, blithely assuming there will always be another day. He recounted the story of a Jewish father, facing imminent death during the Holocaust, who bestowed a final kiss on the young son he was sending away to safety.

“That scene still haunts me,” Rabbi Berger said as the sermon closed, returning to the Challenger. “The explosion and then five minutes. If only I… If only I… And then the capsule hits the water, it’s all over. Then you realize it’s all the same — five minutes, five days, 50 years. It’s all the same, for it’s over before we realize.

“‘If only I knew’ — yes, my friends, it may be the last time. ‘If only I realized’ — yes, stop, appreciate the blessings you have. ‘If only I could’ — you still can, you’ve got today.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchHistory* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyAnthropologyEschatology

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Posted October 4, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Hebrew Bible was revolutionary in its understanding not only of God but also of humanity. Finding God, singular and alone, the first monotheists discovered the infinite value of the human person. It is this insight—that every human is in God’s image regardless of color, culture or class—that must take precedence in human economies, societies and states.

Messrs. Barrat, Ford and Harari are paraphrasing for the 21st century what the book of Psalms had to say, millennia ago, about people who worship the work of their hands: “Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human’s hands.” When technology becomes idolatry it ceases to be life-enhancing and becomes soul-destroying. The moment humans value things, however intelligent, over people, they embark on the road to ruin.

The two dangers of the 21st century could not be less alike: super-intelligent computers and highly barbaric radical Islamists. They will be defeated only by an insistence on the dignity of the human person and the sanctity of human life. That is the message of Rosh Hashana—not only to Jews but to the world.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryScience & Technology* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The hate that begins with Jews never ends with Jews. That is what I want us to understand today. It wasn’t Jews alone who suffered under Hitler. It wasn’t Jews alone who suffered under Stalin. It isn’t Jews alone who suffer under ISIS or Al Qaeda or Islamic Jihad. We make a great mistake if we think antisemitism is a threat only to Jews. It is a threat, first and foremost, to Europe and to the freedoms it took centuries to achieve.

Antisemitism is not about Jews. It is about anti-Semites. It is about people who cannot accept responsibility for their own failures and have instead to blame someone else. Historically, if you were a Christian at the time of the Crusades, or a German after the First World War, and saw that the world hadn’t turned out the way you believed it would, you blamed the Jews. That is what is happening today. And I cannot begin to say how dangerous it is. Not just to Jews but to everyone who values freedom, compassion and humanity.

The appearance of antisemitism in a culture is the first symptom of a disease, the early warning sign of collective breakdown. If Europe allows antisemitism to flourish, that will be the beginning of the end of Europe. And what I want to do in these brief remarks is simply to analyze a phenomenon full of vagueness and ambiguity, because we need precision and understanding to know what antisemitism is, why it happens, why antisemites are convinced that they are not antisemitic.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 30, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This past summer, three elderly members of my summer parish in rural Québec received a diagnosis of cancer at the local hospital, a small-town facility an hour’s drive from cosmopolitan Ottawa and even farther from hyper-secular Montréal. Yet after the diagnosis had been delivered, the first question each of these people was asked was “Do you wish to be euthanized?” That is what the new Canadian euthanasia regime has accomplished in just a few months: It has put euthanasia at the top of the menu of options proposed to the gravely ill.

Then there is Belgium, where, as reported in NR’s October 10 print issue, a minor was recently euthanized by lethal injection. You might think that, with the suburbs of Brussels having become the de facto capital of the ISIS caliphate (Euro-subdivision) and a birth rate so far below replacement level that native Belgians will soon be a rare anthropological specimen, the good burghers of Flanders and Wallonia would have something better to do than hasten the deaths of teenagers, even when the teenagers in their distress request just that. But if you thought that, then, as Richard Nixon famously said, “That would be wrong.”

The more apt mot about all of this lethality masquerading as compassion, however, is from the quotable quotes of another Richard, Richard John Neuhaus, who famously said of the morally egregious and its relationship to law, “What is permitted will eventually become obligatory.” Canada isn’t quite there yet, nor is Belgium; but they’re well on their way, not least because their single-payer health-care systems will increasingly find euthanasia cost-effective — and because the arts of pain relief combined with human support will atrophy in those countries as the “easy way out” becomes, well, easier and easier.

Read it all (emphasis his).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Canada* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted September 30, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Portland chapter of The Satanic Temple has succeeded in its efforts to bring an after-school program called “After School Satan” to a Portland elementary school.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the organization has been approved to begin a program on Oct. 19 at Sacramento Elementary School.

Finn Rezz, one of the group’s leaders, says their program focuses “on science and rational thinking,” and it will promote “benevolence and empathy for everybody.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsWicca / paganism

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Posted September 28, 2016 at 11:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After the 9/11 attacks, Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda had approximately 300 militants. ISIS alone now has, at a low estimate, 31,000 fighters across Syria and Iraq. Understanding how ideology has driven this phenomenon is essential to containing and defeating violent extremism.

But violent ideologies do not operate in a vacuum. A fire requires oxygen to grow. A broader political culture overlaps significantly with some of the assumptions of the jihadi ideology, without necessarily being extreme or agreeing with its violence.

The jihadi ideology preys upon those who are sympathetic to some of its aims. Unless we understand how the ideology relates to wider beliefs, we cannot uproot it.

Read it all (and note the link to download the full report).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 27, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The crisis spawned by Boko Haram has drawn hundreds of thousands of people to a relatively little-known city in Nigeria that has finally become safe enough for them to wait out an end to the awful, deadly war.

With villagers from the countryside pouring in, it is almost as though the entire city, Maiduguri, has become a sprawling refugee camp.

Tented government encampments dot the exurbs where people wait for bags of food to arrive. Once-quaint neighborhoods overflow with cardboard hovels filled with young children who are lucky to eat three meals a day.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 24, 2016 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I meet all sorts in my job. You might say it’s a broad church. A few weeks back I was on another shoot when, during a break, the talk got around to religion. In these interesting times, it often does.

Eventually someone mentioned “believing in the sky fairy”, and there was general approval, a bit of laughter. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t much fussed. Generally speaking I’m in favour of a secular society, one without a state-sanctioned religion and where everyone minds a polite responsibility to go quietly about their business and not bother the neighbours with strongly held opinions on the matter of belief.

The sky fairy comment, as it happens, was in response to a general point someone made about the Anglican church — and this sort of thing is absolutely commonplace. Remembering to treat Christianity with unbridled contempt is an entry-level requirement for most modern conversations about religion in Britain.

Read it all from Neil Oliver (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchMulticulturalism, pluralismPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 20, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Federal authorities said they are investigating the stabbing of nine people Saturday night in a shopping mall in St. Cloud, Minn., as a possible terrorist act, and a news agency linked to Islamic State said the group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The suspect is a Somali-American man who was known to local police but hadn’t previously been on the radar of counterterrorism investigators in Minnesota, according to an official familiar with the investigation. For years, Minnesota has grappled with the radicalization of some young men in the state’s Somali community.

“We are currently investigating this as a potential act of terrorism,” Richard Thornton, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Minneapolis division, said at a news conference Sunday. “We do not at this point in time know whether the subject was in contact with, had connections with, was inspired by, a foreign terrorist organization.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted September 18, 2016 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Religion is big bucks — worth $1.2 trillion annually to the American economy, according to the first comprehensive study to tabulate such a figure.

“In perspective, that would make religion the 15th largest national economy in the world, ahead of 180 other countries in terms of value,” said Georgetown University’s Brian Grim, the study’s author.

“That would also make American religion larger than the global revenues of the top 10 tech companies, including Apple, Amazon and Google,” he continued. “It would also make it 50 percent larger than the six largest American oil companies’ revenue on an annual basis.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSociology* Economics, PoliticsEconomy* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther Faiths

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Posted September 18, 2016 at 3:41 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nearly 225 years after the ratification of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the cause of conscience protected by the principles of “no establishment” and “free exercise” may be losing support in the minds and hearts of the American people.

Appeals by religious individuals and groups for exemption from government laws and regulations that substantially burden religious practice are increasingly unpopular and controversial. So much so that many in the media have taken to using scare quotes, transforming religious freedom into “religious freedom.”

Now the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights appears to be recommending that we make it official: Our first freedom is first no more.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the summer of 1905, the Catholic cassock, and whether to ban wearing it in the streets, sparked a passionate debate in France . For Charles Chabert, a leftwing MP, the black ankle-length soutane was not just an affront to modernity but a reminder of the threat the monarchist Catholic Church posed to the secular republic that he, and his colleagues, sought to consolidate with a bill enforcing a strict separation of state and religion.

Some priests would find it hard to part with the garment, he conceded, but others, “the most clever, the most educated”, would welcome the ban as liberation. Conjuring up an imaginary cleric, shy and buttoned up, Chabert added: “Look at him. The garb makes him a prisoner of his own ignorance . . . Of this slave, let’s make a man.”

Aristide Briand, author of the separation bill, disagreed. By policing garments, the state would be perceived as “intolerant”, and, even worse, the subject of “ridicule”, he quipped.
Fast forward 111 years, France is again debating religious garb — this time, the burkini.

Read it all from the FT (if necessary another link is there).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamSecularism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 16, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some people can be too extreme even for Islamic State.

The self-proclaimed caliphate’s biggest and deadliest franchise outside the Middle East, the “West Africa Province” also known as Boko Haram, fractured in recent weeks over Islamic State’s decision to replace its notorious leader, Abubakar Shekau.

Mr. Shekau hasn’t recognized the August appointment of a rival Boko Haram commander, Abu Musab al-Barnawi, as the group’s new “governor.” The two factions have repeatedly clashed since then and their followers have accused each other of abandoning the true faith.

This split, while weakening Boko Haram in the immediate term, could have dramatic consequences for how jihadists continue their struggle in Nigeria and in neighboring countries. Boko Haram’s areas of influence were cut down by the recent offensives of regional militaries, which were aided by U.S., British and French advisers. But the group still controls large chunks of northeastern Nigeria and operates in parts of Niger, Cameroon and Chad.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfrica* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 15, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Our visit to Syria has been attacked in the Press for giving a "war criminal" (that is, Bashar al-Assad) a photo opportunity and a tool for propaganda. In fact, it was a pastoral visit to the people of Syria, especially Christians, who have suffered so much at the hands of jihadist extremists.

Their ancient churches have been destroyed, they have been killed in their own homes and driven out of their ancient communities. Anna (not her real name), who still speaks the Aramaic of Jesus as her native language, told us of how the rebels (some belonging to the so- called "moderate opposition") dragged out her brother and cousin and shot them dead before her eyes for refusing to convert to Islam. They then shot and wounded her, leaving her for dead.

This is why the leadership of all the churches in Syria, including Syrian Orthodox, Eastern Catholic, Armenian and Evangelical is unanimous in its opposition to the extremists and in its advocacy of peaceful change in the land.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 9, 2016 at 3:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The muezzin’s call to prayer sounded. In minutes, pilgrims lined up in rows around the Kaaba. I made my way to the women’s section, and squeezed into a six-inch space between two ladies. People from all parts of the world, side by side. I prayed that this moment of harmony and peace spread through our world.

There is much more: We prayed under the blazing sun at Arafat, where Prophet Muhammad gave his last sermon. We spent a night in Muzdalifa, under the stars—call it spiritual camping. I collected pebbles to stone the pillars symbolizing Satan. “Will you be stoning the devil or give your proxy to your husband?” a woman asked. With millions converging, people can get trampled. But I put my faith in God and did my own stoning. A lamb was sacrificed to honor Abraham’s sacrifice.

By day five, we had completed our rituals. I was now a Hajji.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted September 9, 2016 at 11:12 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians in Iraq should be given independent rule or allowed to join a region of their choice in a post-war settlement, the leader of the country's largest Church has suggested.

The Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I says in a report this week that should Iraq be reclaimed from Islamic State, there should be an interim political settlement allowing Christian villages in the Nineveh Plain to become "self-administrative".

Many of the Christians who have been forced to flee could return to their homes if Islamic State is defeated, he says.

He calls for a referendum to give Christians a choice on whether they want to be governed from Baghdad, to be part of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan or even place themselves under a "Sunni state".

Read it all from Christian Today.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 8, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a review of Alister McGrath's recent book, The Big Question, Barbara King, a professor of anthropology at the College of William and Mary, takes issue with McGrath's characterization of atheism as lacking the meaning which, McGrath contends, can be found in a religious, and specifically Christian, worldview. That the philosophical implications of atheism should doom the atheist to an arid and desolate existence, King contends, is an unkillable myth: a shibboleth of the faithful as buoyant but as false as the contention that Darwin experienced a deathbed conversion. King ends her article by wondering, "How to make this unkillable myth about atheism into a moribund myth?"

But at least part of the reason this myth about atheists remains unkillable is the fact that so many atheists themselves have espoused it. Indeed, if we tour the last three centuries of pronouncements on the question of meaning, we discover just how much the lungs of atheists have given wind to these sails.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooks* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheism

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Posted September 7, 2016 at 11:18 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians living in the Palestinian territories and elsewhere in the Middle East will this week be urged not to flee from the region as persecution intensifies.

Church leaders who will meet beside the Dead Sea are expected to urge Palestinians in particular to stay put despite the severity of the challenges they face.

Father Issa Misleh, of Jerusalem's Orthodox Church, and spokesman for the Middle East Council of Churches, told The Jordan Times that if Christians left the Middle East as a result of the growing terrorism, the outlook will be dire for the territories.

"This would be the end of the Palestinian cause."

Read it all from Christian Today.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted September 6, 2016 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but in this case they’re wrong. In the foreground is a young woman with fuchsia lipstick, Jackie O-style sunglasses and a colourful headscarf. Behind her is a young man, with a hip, trimmed beard, headphones jammed in his ears and one hand casually resting in his pocket.

They are part of Generation M, and the eponymous book, subtitled Young Muslims Changing the World, is the first detailed portrait of this influential constituency of the world’s fastest growing religion. According to author Shelina Janmohamed, they are proud of their faith, enthusiastic consumers, dynamic, engaged, creative and demanding. And the change they will bring about won’t depend on the benevolence of others: instead, the Muslim pound, like the pink pound before it, will force soft cultural change by means of hard economics.

To demonstrate all that, the cover image was crucial. “When you’re talking about Muslims in particular, but actually people of religion in general, the images you get are really quite depressing,” she says over coffee and baklava in her garden in the outer suburbs of London. “But I think this really captures it. It’s bold, it’s vibrant, the woman’s got so much attitude. They are exactly the kind of people I’m writing about.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksGlobalizationReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted September 3, 2016 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But the law left critics, including some Christian lawmakers, embittered, warning that it will maintain Christian's second-class status. The Coptic Orthodox Church, to which most Egyptian Christians belong, had at first opposed the bill but later backed it—and critics say it bent to heavy government pressure.

Under the law passed Tuesday, Christians must apply to the local provincial governor when they want to build a church.

The law stipulates that the size of the church must be "appropriate" to the number of Christians in the area. According to an official supplement to the law, the governor should also take into account "the preservation of security and public order" when considering the application.

The law "empowers the majority to decide whether the minority has the right to hold their religious practices," said Ishaq Ibrahim, a top researcher in the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A kindhearted Muslim man volunteered to help a Christian student who was mobbed for alleged blasphemy in Zamfara State, Nigeria. Radical Muslims ran amok and set the man's home on fire, killing eight people.

The anger of the Muslims led to a riot in the Abdu Gusau Polytechnic in Talata-Mafara, Zamfara State, a local church leader said to International Christian Concern (ICC). The radical mob of Muslim students destroyed Christian campus offices, after which they proceeded to wreak havoc in the town proper.

"When I heard this from my pastor and one of my members, I immediately called some security officials because the radicals went on rampage in town," said Rev. John Danbinta, Anglican Bishop of Zamfara, in an interview with ICC.

Read it all from the Christian Times.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted September 1, 2016 at 6:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At what point would I rather die?

It has been about two months since the terrorist attack at the Holey Artisan Bakery that led to the deaths of 20 people in my hometown, Dhaka, Bangladesh. By all accounts, the city — at least the part of the city where the attack took place, and where I have lived for the last two decades — is irrevocably changed. There are checkpoints all over the neighborhood; many restaurants and cafes have been shut down; foreigners are sending their families home and schools are yet to reopen. In the evening, the streets are quiet and sad.

But there is an abundance of talk. Everyone is still talking about the incident, playing it over and over in conversation, airing the accounts that have emerged from that night. One story in particular has transfixed everyone: According to some reports, there were two types of victims — the foreigners who were killed immediately by the terrorists, and the Bangladeshis who were murdered later when they refused to acquiesce to the demands of their captors....

Read it all.



Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchBooksPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAsiaBangladesh* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted September 1, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Yesterday I wrote an article for Religion News Service about women and burkinis. But, it was not really about women and burkinis. It was about secularism and its march.

Before you go much further, click here and see this picture at the New York Times. It’s of the French police making a woman take off more clothes to stay on a beach.

So, this is not really about burkinis, but it is about the right of religious people to live out the implications of their beliefs, even in the face of the secular march of the Western world.

Read it all from CT.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 31, 2016 at 1:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We are not told which officials in which diocese have issued this warning, but it is advice which needs to be ignored. To heed such guidance is to surrender to fanatical Islamists; to conceal one’s Christian faith out of fear of the consequences; to hide one’s light under a bushel in order not to provoke some hot-headed Muslim extremist to combat.

Easy for someone to say who’s not in danger of being a target, you may say. But what have we become if we relinquish the vestments of our national faith out of fear of the adherents of another religion? What is ceded? Who is appeased? Where is the victor and who is the vanquished?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A long but important article if you haven't seen it--read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeFranceMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted August 30, 2016 at 6:24 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Every year, Muslim leaders around the world look to the moon to predict the date for one of their most important holidays, Eid al-Adha — the feast of sacrifice.

When Habeeb Ahmed began about two months ago to plan for that holy day, he noticed a potentially fraught coincidence: Eid al-Adha could fall on Sept. 11.

“Some people might want to make something out of that,” said Mr. Ahmed, who was recently elected president of the Islamic Center of Long Island, adding that he could easily foresee how some might misunderstand the festivities, and say, “Look at these Muslims, they are celebrating 9/11.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of Nigeria’s Bishop of Gusau, the Rt. Rev. John Danbinta Garba (pictured) reports a sectarian riot erupted last week at the Abdu Gusau Polytechnic in the city of Talata-Mafara in Northern Nigeria after a Muslim mob attempted to lynch a man who had converted to Christianity. On 21 Aug 2016 a newly baptized Christian was describing his conversion to fellow students when Islamist militants began to assault him. The penalty for apostasy from Islam was death, they said, and attempted to lynch him. Christian students intervened and rescued the convert and a Muslim bystander drove the injured man to the hospital. The mob then turned their sights upon the Muslim good samaritan -- they marched to his home and set it ablaze, killing eight people inside. T

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchLife EthicsReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 29, 2016 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The 18-year-old assailant left a bench and ran toward the priest at the altar, but a bomb in his backpack only burned without exploding, said national police spokesman Maj. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar.

Before he was restrained by members of the congregation, the man managed to take an ax from the backpack and attacked the Rev. Albert Pandiangan, causing a slight injury to the 60-year-old priest’s hand, Mr. Amar said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndonesia* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 28, 2016 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There’s been a lot of negative campaign language about Islam this election season—calls for banning Muslims from entering the US and for patrolling Muslim neighborhoods. But there are also serious attempts to oppose anti-Muslims rhetoric. Correspondent Kim Lawton reports on efforts in Nashville, Tennessee to counter hateful speech by building personal relationships between Christians and Muslims. She talks with Rev. Josh Graves, pastor of an evangelical megachurch and author of How Not to Kill a Muslim: A Manifesto of Hope for Christianity and Islam in North America, along with Muslim community leaders who are participating in the bridge-building efforts.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Convicts in British prisons who preach terrorism and extreme ideology to fellow inmates will be held in high-security “specialist units,” the government announced on Monday, amid efforts to crack down on Islamic radicalization in jails.

The announcement reflects an emerging trend in Europe to isolate terrorism convicts and influential extremists from the rest of the prison population. Prisons are often regarded as potential breeding grounds for would-be terrorists, particularly for young offenders serving sentences for crimes unrelated to terrorism but who nonetheless fall under the spell of older, charismatic inmates.

Last week, Anjem Choudary, one of Britain’s best-known Islamist activists, was found guilty of inviting support for the Islamic State. He could face a lengthy prison term.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPrison/Prison MinistryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 26, 2016 at 3:22 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the United States, diversity has generally been considered an asset. It is frequently cited by public figures as both a source of national pride and a worthy ambition. It is an oft-stated goal of Fortune 500 companies, private colleges and entire sectors of the U.S. economy. And even if Americans don’t claim much diversity in their own social networks, few believe that our differences are not something to be celebrated. At one point it was even argued that America’s religious vitality hinged on its diversity — greater competition between places of worship would contribute to a more vibrant religious culture. However, new evidence suggests that religious pluralism could work in the opposite direction — undermining the vitality of America’s religious communities.

This is not a new debate, but it’s more relevant than ever. The American religious landscape is transforming rapidly. At one time, religious diversity meant: Baptist, Methodist and Episcopalian. Today, it encompasses a multiplicity of religious traditions such as Sikhism, Buddhism, Islam and Hinduism, as well as an increasing variety of noninstitutional belief systems such as humanism, skepticism, atheism and subjective spirituality. Racial and ethnic shifts have also changed the face of Christianity. The U.S. was once a predominantly white Christian country, but fewer than half of Americans (45 percent) identify as white Christian today.

We don’t know for sure that America’s religious pluralism is causing a drop in religious vitality — there are reasons to think the two might simply be related — but there are a number of different ways diversity might erode commitment.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMulticulturalism, pluralismReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* Theology

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Posted August 23, 2016 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Anglican Church, which comprises about 71,500 worshippers, will hold a series of emergency meetings in light of reports of a threat being issued to Christians by a Trinidad and Tobago national sympathetic to socalled Islamic State. Bishop Claude Berkley yesterday told Newsday upcoming statutory meetings of the church, which had been due for the second week of September, will be brought forward in order to treat with the security issues that have arisen in the wake of publication of the claims made in an ISIS propaganda publication which features Shane Crawford calling on supporters to destroy “Christian disbelievers”. The details of the meetings will be finalised in coming days, Berkley said.

Crawford, who was detained during the 2011 State of Emergency, also appears to confirm that former prime minister Kamla Persad- Bissessar was a target, saying it would have been “an honour” to attempt an assassination. However he denies his group held that objective but, instead, opted to kill others.

The Bishop yesterday said there was a need for an “intense and serious discussion” on the rapidly changing security landscape.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesWest Indies* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentarySouth America* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted August 4, 2016 at 5:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A police officer with the Washington transit system has become the first American law enforcement officer to be charged with supporting the Islamic State, accused of trying to send financial help to the group after advising a friend on how to travel to Syria to join it.

In court papers filed on Tuesday and made public on Wednesday, federal law enforcement officials charged the officer, Nicholas Young, with attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization.

The charge is based on the allegation that Mr. Young bought gift cards worth $245 and sent their code numbers to someone he believed had joined ISIS in Syria, to help the group pay for mobile phone messaging with its supporters in the West.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/Fire* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 4, 2016 at 6:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Islamic State said it appointed a new leader for Boko Haram, in a sign that the Nigerian Islamist insurgency is retooling under the command of the terrorist group.

Sheik Abu Mossab al Bornawi was recently assigned to take command of the Nigerian insurgency, Islamic State’s weekly newsletter Al Naba said Tuesday.

The article didn’t say what happened to Abubakar Shekau, the former face of Boko Haram, who hasn’t been seen in videos since early 2015. It also isn’t clear if Mr. Shekau’s followers support the change in management.

Boko Haram, whose war with Nigeria’s government has left more than 30,000 people dead, declared loyalty to Islamic State in 2015. Mr. Bornawi told al Naba that the two groups have decided “to fight and unite under one umbrella.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeriaMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted August 3, 2016 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even with the U.S. launching airstrikes on an Islamic State stronghold in Libya, the battle to uproot the extremists from the oil-rich North African nation is expected to be long and difficult.

The U.S. began the attacks on Monday and struck again on Tuesday in support of a ground offensive to retake Sirte, a strategic port on the Mediterranean coast. But Islamic State is also entrenched in other pockets across the country, including parts of the eastern city of Benghazi, Libya’s second largest; Derna, another eastern city; and the western town of Sabratha, near the Tunisian border.

The competing militias and centers of power that have stoked Libya’s civil war complicate the fight against Islamic State. The chaos has given the group an opening to gain its first territorial foothold outside its self-declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

Read it all.

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

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Posted August 2, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...as Mr. Rashid acknowledges, Muslims in the military face numerous challenges. For one, 15 years of war in Muslim countries has made serving in the military a cultural minefield. Among some non-Muslim soldiers, Islam itself is often seen as the problem, not extremism.

In interviews, Muslim soldiers said they had all encountered at one time or another what one called “knucklehead” comments equating them with terrorists. Things got worse after 13 people were killed at Fort Hood in 2009 by a Muslim Army psychiatrist who said America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were wars against all Muslims.

Other problems come from the cultural barriers, like a ban on facial hair, and dealing with military food that is often rife with pork, forbidden by Islam. Few bases have Muslim prayer services, and only five of the Army’s roughly 2,900 chaplains are imams.

Read it all.

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

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Posted August 2, 2016 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Like doping scandals today, rigged outcomes and cheating, though not common, certainly did tarnish the ancient Games. Visit Olympia, and you can still see the bases of the “Zanes,” bronze statues of Zeus erected from fines imposed on cheating athletes, with inscriptions naming and shaming the culprits. But nothing diminished the allure of the Olympics. Only Christianity could overcome them. With the banning of pagan practices by the Roman Emperor Theodosius in A.D. 391, their days were numbered, and by 425 the Olympics were no more.

For well over a thousand years the Games survived seismic shifts in politics and society, not to mention long-raging wars. Their religious focus undoubtedly played a major part in their longevity. And they evolved, too, with new contests being introduced (those for heralds and trumpeters were perhaps the most bizarre) while others (such as the mule race) were phased out.

But it was more than all that, and here we arrive at the continuing appeal of the modern Games as well. The philosopher Epictetus put his finger on it. Even as he noted “the cacophony, the din, the jostling, the shoving [and] the crowding” of the ancient Games, he had to admit that “you are happy to put up with all this when you think of the splendor of the spectacles.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureSports* International News & CommentaryEuropeGreece* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 29, 2016 at 11:12 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Could the jihadists inspired by Islamic State stoop any lower? Father Jacques Hamel was 85 years old. His young attackers reportedly attempted to behead him in front of the altar of his church. They failed in that but succeeded in killing him and in proving, once again, that an evil is stalking the continent and it is willing to plumb any depths in its attempts to terrorise and enslave us.

Christians in other parts of the world will not have been surprised at the blood spilt in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen. Some feel that we, in the West, have turned our backs on their sufferings. “We feel forgotten and isolated,” complained Louis Sako, the Chaldean Archbishop of Baghdad: “We sometimes wonder, if they kill us all, what would be the reaction of Christians in the West? Would they do something then?”

While estimates of the global scale of religious slaughter and harassment differ wildly, there is enough evidence to suggest that religious persecution is widespread and growing. The Open Doors charity is a respected and relatively cautious chronicler of persecution and it estimates that an average of 322 Christians are killed every month as a direct consequence of their faith, while 214 churches or Christian properties are demolished, burnt down or in some way destroyed. Overall, Open Doors records, Christians are subject to 772 acts of violence — including beatings, abductions, rapes, arrests or forced marriages — each month.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 27, 2016 at 9:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The dreaded Nigeria-based terrorist group, Boko Haram, established links with some international terrorist groups, including Al-Qaeda, the Presidential Fact-Finding Committee on the Abducted Female Students of Government Secondary School, Chibok, has said.

The committee stated this in its report submitted to former President Goodluck Jonathan before he left office.

The 50-page report, which details were never made public, was obtained exclusively by Premium Times.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

ST.-ÉTIENNE-DU-ROUVRAY, France — Attendance was sparse at the 9 a.m. Mass on Tuesday at the Église St.-Étienne, a 17th-century church in a working-class town in Normandy. Many regular parishioners were on vacation; so was the parish priest.

Mass was ending around 9:30 a.m. when two young men with knives burst in. They forced the auxiliary priest, the Rev. Jacques Hamel, 85, to kneel. When he resisted, they slit his throat. They held several worshipers and at least one nun hostage, while another nun escaped. Officers from a specialized police unit descended on the church. A short while later, officers shot the young men dead when they emerged from the church.

The brutality in St.-Étienne-du-Rouvray, a suburb of Rouen in northern France, was the latest in a series of assaults that have left Europe stunned, fearful and angry. President François Hollande raced to the town and blamed the Islamic State for the attack; soon after, the terrorist group claimed responsibility, calling the attackers its “soldiers.”

It was the fourth attack linked to the Islamic State in Western Europe in less than two weeks

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 26, 2016 at 4:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last week, I was browsing the internet for information about the tragic attack in Nice on Bastille Day, when I spotted a story that suggested disturbing new images were circulating of the Isis attacks on Paris inside the Bataclan theatre late last year. I was about to click “Search” — but then I had a second thought and stopped.

Until recently, I assumed that one of the great benefits of the internet was that it could give access to any information we wanted, any time we wanted. But, as the fight with Islamist extremism intensifies, I now realise that this privilege has turned into a curse. These days, the war is not only being waged on the battlefield; a second front has opened up in cyber space. And what makes this second — largely hidden — fight so insidious is that it involves all of us, sitting in our own homes in front of our computer screens or mobile phones.

Isis has taken the media game to a new level. In the past, terrorist and insurgent groups have often used the media to propagate their messages. What makes Isis unusual is that it is not only extraordinarily adept at mastering modern media platforms but that it has made this a strategic priority, to spread fear and attract new recruits. Its media outreach has been so effective that some US intelligence observers even suspect that Isis has studied western consumer giants to replicate their marketing tactics.

It seeks to build “audience engagement” and “reach”, creating memorable “content” that can be easily “shared”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationScience & TechnologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As for Mrs May, she recently (in her old job as home secretary) raised secularist hackles by the emollient terms in which she announced an 18-month enquiry into the operation of Islamic family law in Britain, led by a distinguished Muslim academic, Mona Siddiqui. The adjudication of divorce and inheritance matters by "sharia councils" does pose a dilemma for many liberal-democratic governments. On one hand, Britain (unlike France) allows people to bequeath their property to anybody they choose, and if they choose to make a will on Islamic principles that is formally speaking a free exercise of this entitlement. On the other, a person who grows up deep inside a traditional Muslim sub-culture may feel under overwhelming pressure to accept the adjudication of family affairs on Islamic lines, so there are questions about how free the choice really is.

For secularists (and for Christians of a more militant hue), Mrs May spoke too mildly when she responded by suggesting that the only problem lay in the abuse of a phenomenon which was in itself neutral or benign. What she said, inter alia, was: “Many British people of different faiths follow religious codes and practices, and benefit a great deal from the guidance they offer. [However] a number of women have reportedly been victims of what appear to be discriminatory decisions taken by Sharia councils, and that is a significant concern."

Secularists immediately retorted that some aspects of Islamic family law (for example giving a woman half the inheritance rights of a man, and making it much easier for a man to initiate divorce) are intrinsically discriminatory; the problem lies in the rules, not in their unfair application.

But for someone of Mrs May’s background, there can be no rush to judgment. More than her secularist colleagues, she finds it self-evident that some groups in society can find comfort in “codes and practices” as well as texts, rituals and traditions which seem alien to outsiders.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 20, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In his late twenties, Trump began attending Marble Collegiate Church on Fifth Avenue. Founded in 1628 in the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, Marble Collegiate is one of the few institutions that survives from the city’s founding. Peter Minuit, the governor of New Amsterdam, was the first church elder, and Peter Stuyvesant, the colony’s director general, led worshippers to service every Sunday. The high steeple of its current home, erected in 1854, rises two hundred feet above the pavement, a symbol of uprightness set in stone. Here Trump walked down the aisle after exchanging vows with Ivana and heard the sermons of Norman Vincent Peale, a man whose philosophy would become Trump’s own.

When Trump met him, Peale was already famous as the author of The Power of Positive Thinking, a book that would go on to sell some five million copies. Peale occupied a position at the center of the establishment, though this standing was endangered in 1960, when he joined a group of 150 Protestant pastors, including Billy Graham, that wanted to keep Kennedy out of the White House. The group issued a manifesto asking whether a Catholic could be trusted as president when Rome had shown such “determined efforts . . . to breach the wall of separation of church and state.” Peale led the public presentation of the document and faced an immediate backlash from Union Theological Seminary’s Reinhold Niebuhr and John Bennett, who accused him of “blind prejudice.” The embarrassed Peale apologized and from then on sought to distance his teaching from the harsh realities of politics.

Before Trump made his own foray into politics, he read Peale’s book and adopted its program of “positive thinking.” The two men began to trade public compliments. Peale, always generous in his assessments of human nature, said that Trump had a “profound streak of honest humility.” Trump, not exactly showing that humble streak, said that Peale “thought I was his greatest student of all time.” In a certain sense, Trump was right. Peale has had no more perfect disciple.

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted July 18, 2016 at 2:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The BPT’s philosophy emphasises personal fulfilment — on pilgrimage, says their website, ‘You are free to be the best person you can dream of being’ — but also social conscience: they encourage pilgrims to give something back, whether by picking up litter, buying locally or talking to a stranger. They also promise that ‘You will rediscover your relationship with self and Nature. Engaging with the world in the way your body was designed to do is a sure path to feeling grateful for being alive.’

It is, in short, a very 21st-century kind of spirituality. It has much in common with the atheist church the Sunday Assembly, whose slogan is ‘Live better, help often, wonder more’. Which sounds very much like the self-help tradition — a term Hayward happily applies to pilgrimage. ‘It is a self-help technique, as much as anything else. But religion, of course, is a self-help…’ He checks himself. ‘I mean, would it call itself self-help?’

It’s a complex question, but as far as Christianity goes I think the answer is probably no. Jesus provoked not so much ‘a sense of wonder’ as fear, astonishment, fiercely personal hatred and even more fiercely personal love. He spoke about individual fulfilment, but said that the only way to it was a slow death by crucifixion. He showed compassion, but often in startling ways — negotiating with devils, controlling the weather, raising the dead. It was not your average Ted talk.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureTravel* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther Faiths* Theology

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Posted July 18, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In December 2014, a middle-aged man driving a car in Dijon, France, mowed down more than a dozen pedestrians within 30 minutes, occasionally shouting Islamic slogans from his window.

The chief prosecutor in Dijon described the attacks, which left 13 injured but no one dead, as the work of a mentally unbalanced man whose motivations were vague and “hardly coherent.”

A year and a half later, after Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel slaughtered dozens of people when he drove a 19-ton refrigerated truck through a Bastille Day celebration on Thursday in Nice, France, the authorities did not hesitate to call it an act of Islamic terrorism. The attacker had a record of petty crime — though no obvious ties to a terrorist group — but the French prime minister swiftly said Mr. Lahouaiej Bouhlel was “a terrorist probably linked to radical Islam one way or another.”

The age of the Islamic State, in which the tools of terrorism appear increasingly crude and haphazard, has led to a reimagining of the common notion of who is and who is not a terrorist.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 17, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A well known Christian educator recently confided to me his concern that evangelicals alwasy seem behind in coping with the great issues of our time. They never seem to lead. In proof of his point he pointed to the great similarities between evangelical and secular concerns. When students were agitating on secular campuses, it was not long before students were agitating on Christian campuses. When ecology became an issue nationally, it also became an issue for evangelicals. In the same way, evangelicals tagged along in their concerns with Watergate, social action, race relations, and other issues.

There are different ways of reacting to such a statement, of course, and some of them put the evangelical church in a somewhat better light. For one thing, evangelicals have been in the forefront of valuable movements in the past. In fact, it is their success in some of these that has apparently placed them behind today; for secular agencies have simply taken over areas in which believers in Christ paved the way. The social arena provides many examples. Second, there are areas in which evangelicals are still being creative and are breaking new ground. The work of the Wycliffe Bible Translators, the Medical Assistance Programs of Wheaton, Ill., and L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland may be cited as examples. But one may view these facts and yet still be somewhat uneasy. Are these things adequate? Are there no more areas in which a courageous evangelical witness might pioneer? If there are, why are we so often failing to move into them or even see what needs to be done?

The last question is the point at which we should probably begin to deal with the problem. And the answer to it is that the evangelical church is probably getting its concerns from the secular world rather than speaking to it out of those concerns which it derives from the Scriptures. To put it in other words, the church knows more of the world’s literature than it does its own literature. Or, to rephrase it yet again, in trying to sell itself to the world the believing church has forgotten its unique character and lost its distinctives.
--from an article in Eternity Magazine in 1975 (emphasis mine)

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted July 16, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop Robert will participate in the service, as a sign of our support as a Diocese for all who have been affected. All are very welcome to attend this time for prayer as the Diocese in Europe stands with the people of Holy Trinity, of Nice and of the whole of France.

Read it all.

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Posted July 15, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

....it would be very useful if our political leaders felt able to speak the name of the actual cause for which all those murderous guns and knives and cars are being deployed. Perhaps that is too much to hope.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureTravelViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaTunisiaEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 15, 2016 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Over the past week, tens of thousands of people have taken to roaming the streets, interacting with invisible beings that now inhabit our cities.

These fanatics speak in a special language, undertake hours of devotional activity, and together experience moments of great joy and great sorrow.

It is an obsession, many say, that has taken over their lives, and for which they will sacrifice their bodies. They understand the world in a way the uninitiated cannot.

What sounds like a sudden global religious conversion, is, of course, the launch of Pokémon Go, an augmented reality smartphone game that has restarted the popular culture phenomenon of Pokémon. In many ways, however, Pokémon and religion are not so far apart.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyTravel* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* Theology

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Posted July 14, 2016 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A French company that dismissed a Muslim woman for wearing a head scarf when dealing with clients unlawfully discriminated against her, according to an advisory opinion that the European Union’s highest court released on Wednesday.

The opinion — while not the final word in the case — was the latest intervention in a debate in Europe over the role of Islam in public life and the challenge of integrating foreigners, an issue that has gained resonance in recent years with the large influx of refugees and asylum seekers, many of them from Muslim countries. The question of religion in the public sphere is particularly fraught in France, which has a strong tradition of secularism.

In the advisory opinion, Eleanor Sharpston, an advocate general with the European Court of Justice, sided with the Muslim woman, Asma Bougnaoui, who lost her job with Micropole, a French information technology consultancy, in 2009 after she refused to abide by the company’s request that she remove her head scarf when meeting with clients. She took her case to a French court, which referred it to the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureWomen* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 13, 2016 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For one thing, the targets are too important to be left to just anyone. No one but the Islamic State (or possibly al-Qaeda) would dare attack the Prophet’s Mosque.

For another thing, only the Islamic State has the right kind of experienced personnel on the ground in Saudi Arabia. In the past four years, more than 3,000 young Saudi men have gone to fight with the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. Of them, about 700 have reportedly returned home to Saudi Arabia fully trained and willing to carry out such attacks as these.

Finally, it is the Islamic State that harbours the greatest contempt for Saudi Arabia.

Since the day, two years ago, on which Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State, declared a caliphate in the parts of Iraq and Syria the group had conquered and occupied, he has wanted to overturn the House of Saud.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSaudi Arabia* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 8, 2016 at 4:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With these attacks being carried out by ISIS especially during the Muslim Holy Month of Ramadan, lots of questions have been raised about Islam. This past January, I attended the Mere Anglicanism Conference where one of the premier speakers was Nabeel Qureshi author of Seeking Allah, and finding Jesus.

In his book he describes his dramatic journey from Islam to Christianity, complete with friendships, investigations, and supernatural dreams along the way. Engaging and thought-provoking, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus tells a powerful story of the clash between Islam and Christianity in one man’s heart―and of the peace he eventually found in Jesus.

Now he has developed a study course. In this course he explores Muslim culture, the most common Muslim objections to Christianity, and the core doctrines upon which Islam stands or falls. Compassionate and clear this study develops in further detail the objections to Islam and case for Christianity that Qureshi introduced in his book.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryAdult Education* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* South Carolina

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Posted July 7, 2016 at 1:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As Muslims celebrate the end of Ramadan, many are struggling to comprehend a wave of attacks that killed 350 people across several countries during the holy month and raised the question of what drives the militants to ever more spectacular violence.

The high-profile attacks underline the warnings by many experts that the Islamic State group, especially when on the defensive, will metastasize far beyond its theater of operations.

The extremist group has always sought attention and recruits through terrorism, which has proven to be a winning strategy among its disenfranchised and angry followers.

Read it all.

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

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Whether officially recognized or not, Stedman’s life looks much like that of a chaplain. He convenes like-minded people, invites speakers, coordinates discussion groups, organizes activism. He offers one-on-one pastoral counseling and couples counseling. He officiates at weddings, succors the grieving, helps students resolve conflicts with their families. His flock steadily grows, with more than 900 people now on the YHC mailing list.

And members of the humanist community find that it manages to fuse and catalyze various aspects of their personalities—some might even say souls—in a way that other secular groups can’t. “I appreciate having a place to tackle big, hard questions with people coming at them from a similar perspective to mine,” says Chelsea Blink ’21PhD. She admits she wouldn’t mind if YHC were “churchier,” replete with singing and preaching, but she acknowledges she may be in the minority in that regard.

“Something enviable about religious communities is the regularity of that weekly religious service,” says Stephen Goeman ’17MDiv, who interns with YHC, “and how that can drive people in the congregation to hold others accountable for ethical positions.”

“I love that language of accountability,” adds Stedman, citing a study showing that even nonreligious spouses who attended church regularly were more civically engaged. “We have collectively agreed to these certain moral views. We’ve made a commitment to one another.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationReligion & CultureYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* Theology

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Posted July 5, 2016 at 11:19 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"Three months ago, I invited a group of friends for a unique meeting at the Entebbe exhibition at the Rabin Center: former Mossad operative Avner Avraham, the curator of the exhibit, Akiva Laxer, one of the hostages, and Amir Ofer, one of the commandos, the first to storm into the terminal.

Ofer stressed the link between his own personal history—he is the son of Holocaust survivors—and the Entebbe Operation. As we were touring the exhibition, he recounted his experiences, telling all types of stories, with some being amusing anecdotes of what happened behind the scenes in the planning stages of the operation. For the first time, he brought his parents, who barely survived the horrors of World War II, and his daughter, to the exhibition. That moment that brought together the commando, his parents, the surviving hostage who owes Ofer his life, and Ofer's daughter, didn't leave a dry eye in the house...."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryTravel* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAfricaLibyaUgandaEurope* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 3, 2016 at 4:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“I wrote feverishly, breathlessly, without rereading. I wrote to testify, to stop the dead from dying, to justify my own survival,” he recalled in a 1995 memoir.
The resulting manuscript was published in 1955 in Argentina, to little notice, as “Un di Velt Hot Geshvign,” or “And the World Remained Silent.” The following year, at the urging of French writer Francois Mauriac, Wiesel translated the work into French, and it was published in 1958 as “La Nuit,” or “Night.” An English version was published in the U.S. in 1960.
It had limited early success. The first run of 3,000 copies took three years to sell. Wiesel gained a larger following in the 1970s, as American colleges began delving into Holocaust studies. In 1976, the National Jewish Conference Center in New York convened a meeting on “The Work of Elie Wiesel and the Holocaust Universe.”

Read it all (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchBooksHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermanyPoland* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 3, 2016 at 6:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mr. Wiesel was the author of several dozen books and was a charismatic lecturer and humanities professor. In 1986, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. But he was defined not so much by the work he did as by the gaping void he filled. In the aftermath of the Germans’ systematic massacre of Jews, no voice had emerged to drive home the enormity of what had happened and how it had changed mankind’s conception of itself and of God. For almost two decades, both the traumatized survivors and American Jews, guilt-ridden that they had not done more to rescue their brethren, seemed frozen in silence.

But by the sheer force of his personality and his gift for the haunting phrase, Mr. Wiesel, who had been liberated from Buchenwald as a 16-year-old with the indelible tattoo A-7713 on his arm, gradually exhumed the Holocaust from the burial ground of the history books.

It was this speaking out against forgetfulness and violence that the Nobel committee recognized when it awarded him the peace prize in 1986.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchBooksPoetry & LiteratureReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* Theology

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Posted July 2, 2016 at 4:00 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

Werner Gallmeister, a high-school headmaster here, called the police in January with a worrying message. A 16-year- old student known for his Islamist sympathies had been showing off a smartphone video of an explosive device.

Police already knew the teen. He had been interrogated and suspended from one school after threatening to “break the neck” of a Jewish student. Police in 2015 searched his home. And he was enrolled in a government-sponsored program designed to prevent radical youngsters turning to violence.

Soon after the smartphone stunt, Mr. Gallmeister reported to police that his pupil’s behavior seemed to calm. He was wrong.

Three months later, the teenager, whom German officials and police identify as Yusuf T., allegedly threw a bomb at a Sikh temple in the nearby city of Essen as a wedding was drawing to a close. The Wall Street Journal isn’t using his full name in accordance with German custom. In the attack, three people were injured, one seriously.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHistoryReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 30, 2016 at 3:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Inspired by Instagram accounts like @humansofny, which captures the lives of New Yorkers “one story at a time,” Ms. [Fati] Abubakar snaps portraits of market vendors, refugees and students, posting them to her Instagram account, @bitsofborno, along with quotations or captions that describe them.

Boko Haram has affected nearly all of her subjects in some way.

“When they say there’s an insurgency here, people assume it’s nothing but death and despair,” Ms. Abubakar said. “I want to change the image. You can see, everyday life continues.”

In Maiduguri, she has become somewhat of a celebrity. Civilian vigilante militia members posted throughout the city to guard against Boko Haram look out for her, beating back children who flock to her as she goes about her work.

Read it all.

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Posted June 29, 2016 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the new dispensation, traditional restrictions and attitudes are viewed as judgmental, moralistic forms of socially sanctioned aggression, especially against women and sexual minorities. These victims of sexuality have become the new secular saints. Their virtue becomes their rejection and flouting of traditional sexual morality, and their acts are effectively transvalued as positive expressions of freedom. The first commandment of this new secularist writ is that no sexual act between consenting adults is wrong. Two corollary imperatives are that whatever contributes to consenting sexual acts is an absolute good, and that anything interfering, or threatening to interfere, with consenting sexual acts is ipso facto wrong. Note the absolutist character of these beliefs as they play out in practice. For example, it is precisely the sacrosanct, nonnegotiable status assigned to contraception and abortion that explains why — despite historical protestations of wanting abortion to be “safe, legal, and rare” — in practice, secularist progressivism defends each and every act of abortion tenaciously, each and every time.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 29, 2016 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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