A 2015 Lenten February Pastoral Letter from the GAFCON Chairman

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"A Church that is no longer able to say ‘it is written’ has placed itself in great spiritual danger, but that is where the Anglican Communion could be led according to a review just released of ‘Living Reconciliation’, a book written to promote the 'Continuing Indaba' project."
My dear brothers and sisters,

I send you greetings in the precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ who by his suffering and death has destroyed death!

The gospel writers normally portray Jesus’ mission as the unfolding of a clear divine purpose so I find it striking that the only occasions when we find him wrestling with choices are the temptations in the wilderness at the beginning of his ministry and in the Garden of Gethsemane as he approaches the cross.

In contrast, we easily become preoccupied with self-centred choices that distract us from the challenges of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. The temptations that Jesus faced remind us that we too are in a lifelong spiritual battle. This is a truth we affirm in the baptism service of the Anglican Church of Kenya which includes the words ‘Do not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified. Fight bravely under his banner against sin, the world and the devil and continue his faithful soldiers and servants to the end of your lives.’

Attacks on Christians in the Middle East and West Africa show us that for a growing number of Christians, confessing the faith of Christ crucified can lead to extreme suffering and cruel death. Now we have seen Islamic militants extend their barbarity to North Africa and turn the sea red with the blood of twenty-one Egyptian Christians beheaded on a Libyan beach for being ‘people of the cross.’ Let us pledge during this Lenten season to pray continually for those facing such ruthless persecution. In the same week as this atrocity, the Church of Uganda celebrated the courageous leadership of Ugandan Archbishop Janani Luwum who died as a martyr at the hands of Idi Amin thirty-eight years ago and whose witness is a continual inspiration and a reminder that the blood of those who die for the cause of Christ is not be shed in vain.

For many of us testing comes in more ordinary ways through life’s trials, in the face of which there can be the temptation to despair and give up. A person who could have done just that was the first missionary to East Africa, Johann Krapf, who was sent by CMS and arrived in Mombasa in 1844. In the same year his wife and baby daughter died of malaria, but he persevered and wrote ‘The victories of the Church are gained by stepping over the graves of her members’. Today, he is honoured as a founding figure of the Anglican Church of Kenya.

We learn the key to such spiritual strength in the face of temptation from Jesus’ experience in the wilderness. He repels the devil’s assaults by the Word of God and challenges the devil’s prompting to turn stones into bread by saying ‘it is written’ as he quotes Deuteronomy 8:3 ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’ (Matthew 4:4).

Jesus here affirms that the words of Scripture are words that come from the mouth of God. They are divine words, not merely human words, and it is by every such word that we are to live, not just those words that we find comfortable in our culture.

A Church that is no longer able to say ‘it is written’ has placed itself in great spiritual danger, but that is where the Anglican Communion could be led according to a review just released of ‘Living Reconciliation’, a book written to promote the 'Continuing Indaba' project.

The review by Dr Martin Davie, a respected Church of England theologian who was until recently Theological Consultant to its House of Bishops, shows that ‘Living Reconciliation’ is not faithful to the Bible’s teaching that reconciliation has evangelism at its heart. What the writers are really concerned about is institutional unity and they simply assume that the deeply divisive promotion of same sex relationships by such Churches as the Episcopal Church of the United States is not a barrier to full and continued fellowship.

According to Dr Davie ‘The New Testament’s emphasis is not on people learning to live with what divides them, but learning to live out what unites them’. The New Testament teaches that reconciliation with each other flows from reconciliation with God through repentance and faith in the gospel message. It does not make sense to call for reconciliation in the Church while at the same time accepting behaviour that the Bible says excludes people from the Kingdom of God unless they repent.

He concludes that the path recommended by the authors of ‘Living Reconciliation’ is ‘effectively a blank cheque for the acceptance of any and every possible form of deviation from New Testament Christianity.’ An introduction and link to the review is given on the GAFCON website.

The GAFCON movement is vital for the future. At its heart is a passion to see the Anglican Communion restored and renewed so that it can confess the faith of Christ crucified with integrity and without confusion and division. This is a call to discipleship for each one of us, so let us learn from Jesus to say ‘it is written’ and stand firm in the power and promises of God.

--(The Most Rev.) Eliud Wabukala is Archbishop and Primate of Kenya and Chairman of the GAFCON Primates Council

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of KenyaGlobal South Churches & Primates

0 Comments Posted February 27, 2015 at 11:47 am

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A.S. Haley—Annual Litigation Survey for the Episcopal Church (USA) 2015

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is a fact well known to certain Episcopalians—both those who have left the Episcopal Church (USA) and those who have remained—that ECUSA and its dioceses have followed a pattern of suing any church that chooses to leave for another Anglican jurisdiction. But the full extent of the litigation that has ensued is not well known at all, either in the wider Church, or among the provinces of the Anglican Communion. (Otherwise -- one would think -- it would never have been deemed to be conduct to be rewarded by this honorary degree, rather than this one.)

Your Curmudgeon proposes to do what he can to rectify this situation, by publishing an annual update on this site of the current status of all past and present cases in which ECUSA or any of its dioceses has been or is involved, from 2000 to date. Feel free to link to this post, to email links to it to other Episcopalians, and to send it to your Bishop -- and feel free to post any updates or corrections in the comments. In another update to be posted as General Convention approaches, I will publish a revised total for all of the money spent by ECUSA and its Dioceses to date on prosecuting all of these lawsuits (and, in the case of the second group below, defending them).

The lawsuits initiated by ECUSA and its dioceses to date are first listed below. They far outnumber, as you can see, the second list of the eight cases begun by a diocese or parish against the Episcopal Church (or a diocese). The listing endeavors to be as complete as I can make it. The first 83 cases, generally grouped by the State in which they each originated, are the legal actions filed since 2000....

Take the time to read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

28 Comments Posted February 24, 2015 at 7:01 am

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South Carolina Dorchester County Judge Diane Goodstein Reaffirms Ruling Against TEC

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For the second time in less than a month, South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Diane S. Goodstein rejected arguments by The Episcopal Church and its subsidiary, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, that the two groups are rightful owners of the churches, symbols and other assets of the Diocese of South Carolina.

In her Order denying the motion for reconsideration she stated, “Large portions of the motion are simply the proposed orders previously submitted to the Court or reiterations of the Defendants’ positions at trial.”

The motion had also argued that because the Diocese had argued legal positions in the All Saints case contrary to those now being presented, that Judicial Estoppel should apply. In response, Judge Goodstein sharply noted... “The court finds that the Judicial Estoppel argument is without merit....If the Defendants’ argument in the instant action was correct, no party previously adjudicated to be wrong would be able to correct their conduct in compliance with a court’s holding. Such a result would be contrary to all sense of justice and order... With regards all other matters presented in Defendants’ Motion for Reconsideration, they are hereby denied.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: South Carolina* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

7 Comments Posted February 23, 2015 at 6:00 pm

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Recent Entries on Welby’s CofE and AC Facilitated Conversations on Sexual Immorality

Posted by The_Elves

Key Entries
A 2015 Lenten February Pastoral Letter from the GAFCON Chairman [Feb 27) [NEW]
Andrew Symes: Grace and Disagreement - what about Truth? (Feb 19)
CofE: Booklets for Welby’s Facilitated Conversations on Sexual Immorality Published (Feb 12)
The Bishop of Sheffield Answers Question on David Porter’s Comments (Feb 10)
Welby Scheme: ‘It’s Not Necessarily About Sitting Down Arguing Over The Scriptures’ - Porter (Feb 6)
David Porter Lays Out Justin Welby’s Sexual Immorality Plans for the CofE (Jan 23)

Other Entries
GAFCON News: Living Reconciliation ‘Deeply Problematic’ (Feb 15)
CofE General Synod 10th to 12th February 2015 Links (Feb 10)

Theological Resources
CEEC: Martin Davie on ‘Living Reconciliation’ (Feb 11)
God’s Plan for Human Relationship and Marriage – Bishop Tom Wright at Humanum 2014


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)

0 Comments Posted February 16, 2015 at 9:12 am

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A S Haley on TEC reconsideration motion—Judge Goodstein: “We, not You, Get to Say What Is Ours”

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read the remarks of Bishop William White, generally recognized as the leading founder of PECUSA, as I reported them in this earlier post (with my bold, again):
. . . And there appeared [at that more general meeting in October 1784] Deputies, not only from the said three States, but also from others, with the view of consulting on the exigency of the Church. The greater number of these Deputies were not vested with powers for the binding of their constituents; and therefore, although they called themselves a Convention . . . yet they were not an organized body. They did not consider themselves as such; and their only act was, the issuing of a recommendation to the churches in the several States, to unite under a few articles to be considered as fundamental.
Moreover, at pages 6-7 the motion again reverses temporal order: "The Diocese [of South Carolina] came into existence as the Diocese when TEC's Constitution was adopted in 1789." This claim is metaphysical, not legal -- if the Diocese did not have any legal existence before its authorized representatives signed ECUSA's Constitution in 1789, then how could their signatures on the Constitution have been authorized? And why did they sign as "Lay Deputies from the State of South Carolina" if the Diocese (i.e., "State") did not yet exist? (The "State of South Carolina" [in the political sense] was not the entity forming PECUSA. The word "State" was also used in an ecclesiastical sense, as the predecessor to the later word "Diocese" -- which began to be used after the State of New York split into two "Dioceses" in 1839.)

The motion goes right on inventing new facts and claiming them to be true....

Read it all.

For more recent stories & commentary on the South Carolina Circuit Court Ruling, see here.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: AnalysisEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts SchoriTEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: South CarolinaTEC Polity & Canons* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments Posted February 14, 2015 at 12:15 pm

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Saturday Night Food for Thought—Teddy Roosevelt’s The Man in the Arena

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
If you want to read the whole 1910 speech you may find it here.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropology

0 Comments Posted February 28, 2015 at 5:00 pm

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(R. Catholic Church in England and Wales) The Scientific Case Against Three Parent Embryos

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all and follow all the links.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments Posted February 28, 2015 at 3:00 pm

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George Carey’s (Little Noticed?) Article in favor of the-3 parent DNA Emergency embryo intervention

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I fear I will be in trouble once again with some people in the church as I find myself, in conscience, having to go against the line that the churches are taking on so-called three-parent families.

I am, to be clear, firmly in favour despite the opposition shown by some of my colleagues and a powerful lobby of critics from abroad.

A Bill passed by the House of Commons earlier this month will allow for a procedure in which a small proportion of a third person's DNA is used to create an embroyo in order to prevent potentially fatal genetic disorders. Scientists have found techniques to replace faulty mitochondrial DNA - mitrochondria are microscopic energy creating structures in the human cell - with donated DNA, and Britain is set to be the first country to endorse the practice.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments Posted February 28, 2015 at 2:30 pm

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Dennis Sansom—Dante’s Inferno: Knowing Ourselves and Knowing God

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Listen to it all and see what you think.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryAdult Education* Culture-WatchBooksPoetry & Literature* TheologyEschatology

1 Comments Posted February 28, 2015 at 2:00 pm

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(Ed West) For modern-day Assyrians their present is under attack from Isis, as is their past

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The historian Tom Holland tweeted...[yesterday] morning: ‘What ‪#ISIS are doing to the people & culture of ‪#Assyria is worthy of the Nazis. None of us can say we didn’t know....’

There are a few thousand Assyrians in Britain, many of whom were given right of entry because their grandfathers fought alongside the British in two world wars. They are immensely proud of their heritage, and fond of the British Museum where so much of it remains safe; can one imagine how they feel watching footage of these savages destroying what their ancestors built and which they hoped to pass on to their descendants?

There are currently Assyrian troops fighting alongside the Kurds on the front line with Isis, but they are short of weapons. They say they have got little military support from the West, just as they have received little political support in the past; before the latest crisis broke out Assyrians in Iraq campaigned for a safe haven in the Nineveh Plains where they and other minorities, namely the Yazidi, could protect themselves inside the country. Without support from the Americans, the Baghdad government would not agree, and in light of recent events it seems like a reasonable request now.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeTurkeyMiddle EastIran* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments Posted February 28, 2015 at 1:02 pm

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(M Evening News) Manchester United Defeat Sunderland 2-0

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was scrappy and horrible at times but United did enough to win. The first-half was dire with the fans screaming 'attack, attack, attack' at every opportunity. Still, they were much better in the second half and deserved to win.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenSports* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

0 Comments Posted February 28, 2015 at 12:30 pm

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(Ind. Star) This dreamer, Doug Arnholter,  has a totally crazy, possibly genius idea—what is it?

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What's Arnholter's big idea? It's simple. Ambitiously simple. Create a mural made by thousands of people in every state in the country, plus Washington, D.C. Call it the "Mural of America," make it about reminding people that humanity is a shared experience and allot 15 months, 16,000 miles and $175,000 to do it.

"It's important for this country," Arnholter says. "We're always bickering, so we miss the big picture. A woman once told me this project is about 'the cohesion of diversity.' That's the best way I've heard anyone describe it."

Traveling to a new state every weekend, with a break in the winter, Arnholter wants to stop by the Boston Marathon, the Las Vegas Art Festival, the Treme Gumbo Creole Festival in New Orleans and the Broad Ripple Art Fair. He'll use a similar route taken by the Ringling Brothers Circus in the 1900s. He'll live in an RV.

First stop: Pendleton, S.C.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchArtPsychology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments Posted February 28, 2015 at 12:00 pm

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Bishop John Gray of the Maori Anglican Diocese Suspended

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments Posted February 28, 2015 at 11:09 am

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(BBC) Sir John Sawers, ex-MI6 chief, warns of Russia ‘danger’

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Russia has become a danger to Britain and the country must be prepared to take steps to defend itself and its allies, the former head of MI6 says.

Sir John Sawers, who recently retired after five years as chief of the Secret Intelligence Service, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that Russia poses a "state to state threat".

Sir John said dealing with such threats would require more defence spending.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeRussia* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments Posted February 28, 2015 at 10:00 am

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(Washington Post) Russian opposition leaders see Kremlin links to Nemtsov slaying

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Russian opposition leaders on Saturday accused the Kremlin of being behind the death of a towering figure of post-Soviet politics, Boris Nemtsov, as they struggled to come to grips with the highest-profile assassination of President Vladimir Putin’s 15 years in power.

Nemtsov was gunned down late Friday, steps from the Kremlin and underneath the swirling domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral — the heart of power in Russia and one of the most secure areas in the nation. The slaying of one of Putin’s most biting critics swept a wave of fresh vulnerability over those in the opposition, and some expressed new fears for their lives.

Putin and other allies said that the assassination was a provocation intended to discredit the Kremlin. There were no immediate suspects brought into custody in the drive-by shooting. Authorities said they were working hard to track down a light-colored sedan that was captured on surveillance cameras as Nemtsov crossed a bridge over the Moscow River on an unseasonably warm February night.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussia* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments Posted February 28, 2015 at 9:41 am

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Archbishop Justin Welby welcomes Korean Anglican leader to Lambeth Palace

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury welcomed the Primate of the Anglican Church of Korea to Lambeth Palace yesterday.

Archbishop Paul Kim is visiting London and Canterbury with directors from the Christian Broadcasting System of Korea (CBS) to give them a better understanding of the Anglican Communion.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* International News & CommentaryAsiaSouth Korea

0 Comments Posted February 28, 2015 at 9:15 am

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(NYT On Religion) Muslim Scholar, Looking to ‘Speak the Truth,’ Teaches the Holocaust and Islam

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Early in the summer of 2007, a doctoral student named Mehnaz M. Afridi traveled from her California home to a conference in southern Germany. Her official role was to deliver a paper on anti-Semitism in Egyptian literature, a rather loaded subject for a Muslim scholar. Seventy miles away, she had another appointment, and an even riskier agenda.

After the conference concluded, Ms. Afridi drove to the former concentration camp in Dachau, Germany. As she stood before the dun bricks of a crematorium, she prayed. “Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un,” she said in Arabic, meaning, “Surely we belong to God and to him shall we return.”

“I didn’t know that moment would be defining my role,” Dr. Afridi, 44, said a few weeks ago. “I didn’t even realize then that I was at a crossroads. People see the Holocaust and Islam as two separate things, but these stories of faith and catastrophe are not opposites. They are companions.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamJudaism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheodicy

0 Comments Posted February 28, 2015 at 9:00 am

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(Reuters) China cuts rates again in face of weak demand, deflation risk

Posted by Kendall Harmon

China’s central bank cut interest rates on Saturday, just days before the annual meeting of the country’s parliament, in the latest effort to support the world’s second-largest economy as its momentum slows and deflation risks rise.

The central bank said the 25 basis point cut in the benchmark interest rate to 5.35 per cent - its second cut in just over three months - and a 25 basis point cut in the benchmark saving rate to 2.5 per cent would be effective from Sunday.

“The focus of the interest rate cut is to keep real interest rate levels suitable for fundamental trends in economic growth, prices and employment,” the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) said in a statement on its website.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina

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Scientific American and Nature Editors Remember Leonard Nimoy

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I was saddened to hear Leonard Nimoy died. It was even more sorrowful to find that years of smoking had caught up with him. I caught myself thinking: Spock smoked? Why would an ascetic, someone as fastidious about his health and logical about evidence-based science, ever take up smoking? And that mental jump from the actor to the character was what made Leonard Nimoy’s professional life a burden and a blessing—a hazard for many actors who play an iconic character.

About 20 years ago I was working at a photography magazine and attended an event in the Hayden Planetarium where Nimoy was a spokesman. It was for a photography product launch, although memory of what escapes me. There was a lunch and as the tables quickly filled a colleague and I picked one that had a few seats left. There was one empty seat, and Nimoy walked over, asked if the chair was taken and sat down. He barely touched his salad before he was completely bombarded with questions about Star Trek and Mr. Spock, which he politely and warmly answered, before he made a graceful exit. To confess, during the session I was fighting temptation to add to the pile-on, but it seemed to me that he wanted to talk about photography or anything else. I saw firsthand why he had written his 1975 autobiography, I am not Spock, albeit to great uproar from the Trek fan base. I also understood why he followed it with his second installment in 1995, I am Spock. Obviously Nimoy, no matter what he did or accomplished, was stuck with Spock, and decided to embrace his inner Vulcan science officer.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistoryMovies & TelevisionScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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(Guardian) Westminster Abbey wins permission to add first new tower in 300 years

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Westminster Abbey has won planning permission to add its first new tower in almost 300 years, which will create public access to a museum of treasures and curiosities housed in the triforium, the church’s attic gallery.

At present, the public can get only a distant glimpse of the spectacular and shadowy space through the stone arches 70ft up at the top of the walls above the high altar.

The only way in is a perilous journey up narrow spiral staircases and along ledge-like passages high above the nave. The spectacular but vertigo-inducing view down to the altar and nave has mostly been enjoyed by maintenance staff and camera crews covering major state events.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchArchitectureReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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A Prayer to Begin the Day from C J Vaughan

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O Lord God, keep ever in our remembrance the life and death of our Saviour Jesus Christ. Make the thought of his love powerful to win us from evil. As he toiled and sorrowed and suffered for us, in fighting against sin, so may we endure constantly and labour diligently, as his soldiers and servants, looking ever unto him and counting it all joy to be partakers with him in his conflict, his cross, and his victory; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

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From the Morning Scripture Readings

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this he is bound to offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people. And one does not take the honor upon himself, but he is called by God, just as Aaron was.

So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him,

“Thou art my Son,
today I have begotten thee”;

as he says also in another place,

“Thou art a priest for ever,
after the order of Melchiz′edek.”

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchiz′edek.

--Hebrews 5:1-10

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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George Herbert on his Feast Day—The Thanksgiving

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Oh King of grief! (a title strange, yet true,
To thee of all kings only due)
Oh King of wounds! how shall I grieve for thee,
Who in all grief preventest me?
Shall I weep blood? why thou has wept such store
That all thy body was one door.
Shall I be scourged, flouted, boxed, sold?
'Tis but to tell the tale is told.
'My God, my God, why dost thou part from me? '
Was such a grief as cannot be.

But how then shall I imitate thee, and
Copy thy fair, though bloody hand?
Surely I will revenge me on thy love,
And try who shall victorious prove.
If thou dost give me wealth, I will restore
All back unto thee by the poor.
If thou dost give me honour, men shall see,
The honour doth belong to thee.
I will not marry; or, if she be mine,
She and her children shall be thine.
My bosom friend, if he blaspheme thy name,
I will tear thence his love and fame.
One half of me being gone, the rest I give
Unto some Chapel, die or live.
As for thy passion - But of that anon,
When with the other I have done.
For thy predestination I'll contrive,
That three years hence, if I survive,
I'll build a spittle, or mend common ways,
But mend mine own without delays.
Then I will use the works of thy creation,
As if I us'd them but for fashion.
The world and I will quarrel; and the year
Shall not perceive, that I am here.
My music shall find thee, and ev'ry string
Shall have his attribute to sing;
That all together may accord in thee,
And prove one God, one harmony.
If thou shalt give me wit, it shall appear;
If thou hast giv'n it me, 'tis here.
Nay, I will read thy book, and never move
Till I have found therein thy love;
Thy art of love, which I'll turn back on thee,
O my dear Saviour, Victory!
Then for thy passion - I will do for that -
Alas, my God, I know not what.

--George Herbert (1593-1633)

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchPoetry & Literature

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A Prayer for the Feast Day of George Herbert

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Our God and King, who didst call thy servant George Herbert from the pursuit of worldly honors to be a pastor of souls, a poet, and a priest in thy temple: Give unto us the grace, we beseech thee, joyfully to perform the tasks thou givest us to do, knowing that nothing is menial or common that is done for thy sake; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistorySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchPoetry & Literature

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Negative Mortgage rates? In Europe, Bond Yields and Interest Rates Go Through the Looking Glass

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At first, Eva Christiansen barely noticed the number. Her bank called to say that Ms. Christiansen, a 36-year-old entrepreneur here, had been approved for a small business loan. She whooped. She danced. A friend took pictures.

“I think I was so happy I got the loan, I didn’t hear everything he said,” she recalled.

And then she was told again about her interest rate. It was -0.0172 percent — less than zero. While there would be fees to pay, the bank would also pay interest to her. It was just a little over $1 a month. But still.

These are strange times for European borrowers, as if a wormhole has opened up to a parallel universe where the usual rules of financial gravity are suspended.

Read it all from the NYTimes Dealbook.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEuropeDenmark* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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(Telegraph) Why do so many middle-aged men feel so lost?

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I am sitting by the swimming pool at the Canyon Ranch resort in Tucson, Arizona, only it is not really a resort, it is a fitness/wellness/life-enhancing centre where people who are very stressed come to detox and, as I am discovering, “find” themselves. But this resort is not brimming with stressed-out women, worn thin and ragged by juggling motherhood, wifedom and being the heads of companies. No. The classes here are full of men – men with great big identity issues.

There is 45-year-old Lee, who has just “gotten divorced” and has, in the course of a month, slept with 15 women. “I don’t see myself as that type of man,” he says, “but I feel so lonely and I don’t know what to do with my life.” There is Ryan, aged 53, who has never married and is in crisis about why he hasn’t. Then there is Steve, 49, a travel agent, long-time married, who has hit a midlife crisis. He says he really does want to buy a Harley-Davidson and head off down Route 66. “Is that wrong?” he asks. “I just don’t know what I want in my life anymore.”

They are all part of a “sandwich generation”: they sit between the baby boomers and the digital natives. And they are a group who have, according to recent statistics, lost their way.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyMenMiddle AgePsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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(WSJ) We Must Remember America is ‘An Incorrigibly and Confusedly Religious Nation’

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Neuhaus sympathized with [many so-called 'conservatives'] grievances—over abortion and gay rights, challenges to school prayer and to Christian displays in public, and the coarsening of American culture. But he rejected their solution because the groups, he wrote, saw no reason “to engage the Christian message in conversation with public and universal discourse outside the circle of true believers.” Neuhaus instead affirmed the core premise of Enlightenment political thought: the differentiation of public authority into separate, autonomous spheres that valued individual rights.

He argued that the strongest support for these rights came from the Judeo-Christian tradition’s foundational conviction: We are made in the image of God. Demanding absolute obedience to political dictates, whether in the name of God or something else, would undo centuries of political progress, and goes against God’s own gift of free will to every human person.

And so he rejected the Christian right’s political project of establishing an explicitly Christian America. He further reasoned that if the right’s only argument for how Christians could contribute to American public life was through exclusively religious dictates, then it made sense that secular elites were pushing back so strongly.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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(Am. Interest) What Realists Get Wrong About Niebuhr

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...an appreciation for human sinfulness—which Niebuhr drew from his Christian faith—helps us guard against unchecked power in government. But an appreciation for human potential—drawn from the Biblical notion that human beings are made in the image of God—should also lead us to value human freedom. As Niebuhr famously put it in his foreword, “Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.” Importantly, Niebuhr grounded democracy’s necessity in the nature of mankind, without qualification, not in cultural or social factors unique to the West. What is true about human nature in the West is also true of human nature in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Niebuhr then suggests—contrary to the realists who want to appropriate him—that the goodness of democracy should lead us, by love of our neighbor, to make its spread a part of our foreign policy. Niebuhr’s well-known complaint against Wilsonianism wasn’t that it was idealistic, but that it was naive. In Children of Light and the Children of Darkness he applauds the idealism of democracy, even as he understands that it will inevitably be hypocritical: “Hypocrisy and pretension are the inevitable concomitants of the engagement between morals and politics. But they do not arise where no effort is made to bring the power impulse of politics under the control of conscience.” The effort itself is sound in principle; better to be a failed idealist than a successful cynic.

This is the part of Niebuhr that today’s realists fail to hear.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Court ruling may quadruple insurance premiums for Obamacare customers in South Carolina

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Cathy Keaton’s health insurance premium will jump nearly $400 each month if the U.S. Supreme Court rules that she’s ineligible for a federal subsidy to lower the price she pays.

The 63-year-old part-time College of Charleston student said she couldn’t afford coverage without the substantial discount she receives.

“It’s very scary for me,” Keaton said. “If I lose this, it means that I will have to make some really hard decisions until I can get Medicare.”

She’s not alone. Insurance premiums for thousands of HealthCare.gov customers in South Carolina could increase by 400 percent if the U.S. Supreme Court rules that they’re ineligible for subsidies this summer.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal Finance* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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(RNS) Anti-Semitism a big problem at US colleges, report says

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A student group in South Africa this month called on all Jews to leave the Durban University of Technology, an act of anti-Semitism that Americans could not imagine on their own college campuses.

But a comprehensive survey of anti-Semitism at American colleges released this week shows that significant hostility is directed at Jews on U.S. campuses, too.

The National Demographic Survey of American Jewish College Students, produced by a Trinity College team well-known for its research on religious groups, found that 54 percent of Jewish students experienced anti-Semitism on campus in the first six months of the 2013-2014 academic year.

Professors Barry A. Kosmin and Ariela Keysar asked 1,157 students in an online questionnaire about the types, context and location of anti-Semitism they had encountered, and found that anti-Jewish bias is a problem for Jews of all levels of religious observance.

Read it all.

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

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“New every morning is the love”

Posted by Kendall Harmon

New every morning is the love
our wakening and uprising prove;
through sleep and darkness safely brought,
restored to life and power and thought.

John Keble (1792-1866)

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchPoetry & Literature

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(Washington Post) ‘Jihadi John’ is a Kuwaiti-born Londoner named Mohammed Emwazi

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For months he taunted, knife in hand, his voice slightly muffled behind the mask that became the grim symbol of Islamic State barbarism.

But when the identity of the killer known as “Jihadi John” was revealed Thursday, the profile that emerged was disturbingly familiar: a young man whose parents’ decision to immigrate to the West afforded him a comfortable life and an education, but who ultimately found identity and succor in extremist ideology.

His name is Mohammed Emwazi. And despite friends’ descriptions of a polite and quiet man not capable of violence, Emwazi’s links to extremist groups appear to have been long-standing, and he was well known to counterterrorism officials in London before he went to Syria.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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(CC) The pastor as person—an interview with Ministry counselor Ross Peterson

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What do you see as trends in seminaries regarding discernment of vocation?

I see an increasing focus on the pastor as a person—an increasing awareness of the importance of self-care and of developing strong spiritual disciplines. It used to be that seminary was a time when people’s spiritual discipline waned and their academic discipline increased. Now many seminaries emphasize integrating the spiritual, reflective process with the academic, which I think is all to the good.

We often talk about burnout as a problem among clergy. How do you understand that term?

When we see pastors who are experiencing burnout, sometimes it is simply because they are working too hard. But more often they are doing a lot of things that are not central to their sense of call. When people are working close to their sense of call and purpose and meaning, they can work really hard without feeling burned out. But when they are doing a lot of things that people are telling them should be done or that feel urgent but aren’t close to the heart, that is a strong indicator of burnout.

It’s been said that most pastors are a “quivering mass of availability,” eager to please everybody. That is a path to destruction.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments Posted February 27, 2015 at 5:45 am

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(Local Paper 2) Ltr to Editor id defense of brining gambling to South Carolina

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As usual your editorial on casino gambling reflects the past and current thinking in South Carolina that we must never move into the 21st century. The attitude of our politicians to keep South Carolina as backward as they can is bad enough. But for The Post and Courier to espouse the same old argument that any form of gambling is going to target the poor and irresponsible is just thinking from the past.

Are we to ignore the reality that if someone wants to gamble he will find a way, no matter the cost or any other obstacle? If you don’t believe that, go to any convenience store and observe who is buying all of those lottery tickets.

Wouldn’t it be something for visitors to Charleston to ride down I-26 through the neck area and see large casinos with hotels and theme park environments rather than the blighted area it now is?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGamblingPoverty* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments Posted February 27, 2015 at 5:31 am

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(Local Paper 1) An Editorial against using Gambling as a means to fix South Carolina’s Roads

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As reported in [a recent] ...Post and Courier, House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, D-Richland, wants to let voters decide, via statewide referendum, whether to legalize casino gambling.

Rep. Rutherford made his case this way last month: “If you have casinos on the coast and dedicate them as a funding source on our roads, you have something that goes into fixing a problem.”

But if you have casinos on the coast you also have other problems, including a notoriously unreliable source of funding from a cruel tax of sorts imposed to a significant degree on the poor, the gullible, and compulsive gamblers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGamblingPoverty* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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(Church Times) Multifaith hub for the City of London

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A vision to create "one of the most significant interfaith centres in the world" in the City of London was unveiled on Wednesday night at the launch of a £20-million fund-raising appeal.

The planned centre, Coexist House, is the idea of Dr David Ford, Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Cambridge; and is supported by the Inner Temple, the Corporation of the City of London, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Coexist Foundation.

"Coexist House is designed as much for a secular audience as a religious audience and will not promote any one particular faith," the trustees say in a summary of their feasibility study. "It is a civic endeavour which would improve the way people understand religions and beliefs in all their variety. Nevertheless, it will offer a spiritual space, hospitable to all, in the heart of London."

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith Relations* Theology

0 Comments Posted February 27, 2015 at 5:00 am

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(CP) SC Judge Rejects Episcopal Church’s Attempt to Take Over one of its Founding Dioceses

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Regarding the latest legal victory, [Canon Jim] Lewis told CP that he expects the legal action to continue, as The Episcopal Church will likely appeal the Goodstein decision.

"While it is unfortunate that ministry resources on both sides will continue to be wasted in this fashion, it is entirely in keeping with TEC legal strategy," said Lewis, who drew parallels to a similar property case that took place in Illinois between The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Quincy.

"The court sanctions imposed against TEC in Illinois last week are the perfect illustration of the lengths to which their leadership is prepared to go in pursuit of its scorched earth policy. We have no reason to expect different behavior here in South Carolina."

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: South Carolina* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments Posted February 27, 2015 at 4:40 am

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A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Euchologium Anglicanum

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almighty and everlasting God, who for the well-being of our earthly life hast put into our hearts wholesome desires of body and spirit: Mercifully increase and establish in us, we beseech thee, the grace of holy discipline and healthy self-control; that we may fulfill our desires by the means which thou hast appointed, and for the ends thou ordainest; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsLentSpirituality/Prayer

0 Comments Posted February 27, 2015 at 4:19 am

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From the Morning Bible Readings

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

--Hebrews 4:12-13

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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(Deseret News) The erosion of families is affecting income inequality

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two notable differences in family life in the United States have emerged in the past 60 years: average, middle-class families aren’t economically flourishing and there are fewer traditional family units than ever before. Lerman, now a professor of economics at American University and a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, says these two factors are linked. Changes in family structures have sabotaged the financial confidence of middle-class Americans and led to the decline of working-class men in the labor market, say Lerman and Bradford Wilcox in their 2014 paper for the American Enterprise Institute, “For richer, for poorer: How family structures economic success in America.”

The erosion of the intact family — as defined by Lerman and Wilcox as a retreat in marriage, an increase in cohabitation and out-of-wedlock births, a prevalence of single-parent homes, and a rise in step-families — has affected the economic outcomes of children and thus led to further income inequality between American families.

“Young men and women from intact families enjoy an annual ‘intact-family premium’ that amounts to $6,500 and $4,700, respectively, over the incomes of their peers from single-parent families,” wrote Lerman and Wilcox. “Men and women who are currently married and were raised in an intact family enjoy an annual 'family premium' in their household incomes that exceeds that of their unmarried peers who were not raised in intact families by at least $42,000.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinancePolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments Posted February 26, 2015 at 6:08 pm

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(Time) America’s Pain Killer Problem is Growing, Federal Data Shows

Posted by Kendall Harmon

New data shows America's use of opioids hasn't declined.

New federal data released Wednesday reveals the state of America’s pain killer use.

According to the numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the percentage of adults age 20 and over using prescription pain killers remains significantly higher than in the past, with people also taking stronger painkillers than before. Between 2011–2012, nearly 7% of adults reported using a prescription opioid analgesic in the past 30 days, compared to 5% in 2003-2006.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & Medicine* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments Posted February 26, 2015 at 11:31 am

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(Reuters) Austria passes “Law on Islam” banning foreign money for Muslim groups

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Austria’s Parliament passed a law Wednesday (Feb. 25) that seeks to regulate how Islam is administered, singling out its large Muslim minority for treatment not applied to any other religious group.

The “Law on Islam” bans foreign funding for Islamic organizations and requires any group claiming to represent Austrian Muslims to submit and use a standardized German translation of the Quran.

The law met with little opposition from the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic population, was backed by Austria’s Catholic bishops, and was grudgingly accepted by the main Muslim organization. But it upset Turkey’s state religious establishment.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments Posted February 26, 2015 at 11:08 am

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(Denver Catholic) George Weigel—World Christianity by the numbers

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This year’s survey works from a baseline of 1900 A.D., and makes projections out to 2050. Within that century and a half there’s some good news about the global human condition that ought to be kept in mind when remembering the bad news of the 20th century and the early 21st. For example: in 1900, 27.6 percent of adults in a world population of 1.6 billion were literate. In 2015, 81 percent of the adults in a global population of 7.3 billion are literate, and the projection is that, by 2050, 88 percent of the adults in a world of 9.5 billion people will be literate—a remarkable accomplishment.

Of the 7.3 billion human beings on Planet Earth today, 89 percent are religious believers, while 1.8 percent are professed atheists and another 9 percent are agnostics: which suggests that Chief Poobah of the New Atheists Richard Dawkins and his friends are not exactly winning the day, although their “market share” is up from 1900.

There were some 267 million Catholics in the world in 1900; today, the world Church counts 1.2 billion members, with a projected growth to 1.6 billion by the middle of the century. Yet in the last quarter of the 20th century Catholicism was displaced by Islam as the world’s largest religious community, as the global Muslim population grew from 571 million in 1970 to today’s 1.7 billion.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryReligion & CultureSociology

0 Comments Posted February 26, 2015 at 9:28 am

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[BBC] Barnabas Fund director Patrick Sookhdeo guilty of sex assault

Posted by The_Elves

The head of a Wiltshire-based Christian charity has been found guilty of sexually assaulting a female member of staff.

Patrick Sookhdeo, from the Pewsey-based Barnabas Fund, was also found to have intimidated two employees who were due to give evidence against him.

The jury at Swindon Crown Court found the 67-year-old guilty on all counts.

Read it all and there is a report from the Western Daily Press

Filed under: * Religion News & Commentary

4 Comments Posted February 26, 2015 at 8:05 am

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(Wired) Why 40-Year-Old Tech Is Still Running America’s Air Traffic Control

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At any given time, around 7,000 aircraft are flying over the United States. For the past 40 years, the same computer system has controlled all that high-altitude traffic—a relic of the 1970s known as Host. The core system predates the advent of the Global Positioning System, so Host uses point-to-point, ground-based radar. Every day, thousands of travelers switch their GPS-enabled smartphones to airplane mode while their flights are guided by technology that predates the Speak & Spell. If you're reading this at 30,000 feet, relax—Host is still safe, in terms of getting planes from point A to point B. But it's unbelievably inefficient. It can handle a limited amount of traffic, and controllers can't see anything outside of their own airspace—when they hand off a plane to a contiguous airspace, it vanishes from their radar.

The FAA knows all that. For 11 years the agency has been limping toward a collection of upgrades called NextGen. At its core is a new computer system that will replace Host and allow any controller, anywhere, to see any plane in US airspace. In theory, this would enable one air traffic control center to take over for another with the flip of a switch, as Howard seemed to believe was already possible. NextGen isn't vaporware; that core system was live in Chicago and the four adjacent centers when Howard attacked, and this spring it'll go online in all 20 US centers. But implementation has been a mess, with a cascade of delays, revisions, and unforeseen problems. Air traffic control can't do anything as sophisticated as Howard thought, and unless something changes about the way the FAA is managing NextGen, it probably never will.

This technology is complicated and novel, but that isn't the problem. The problem is that NextGen is a project of the FAA.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & TechnologyTravel* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments Posted February 26, 2015 at 8:00 am

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Thursday Morning Encouragement—A Movie Theater With a Mission: Employing the Disabled

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Only 20 percent of disabled people work, compared to 68 percent of those who aren't disabled, according to September 2014 numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

[Valeria] Jensen saved the playhouse from demolition and founded the four-theater commercial movie house, a nonprofit, in historic Ridgefield. Most of the more than 80 theater employees are disabled. But they weren't there just because they have a disability, Jensen said.

"They're here because they are a really, really valuable employee," she said.

"We are 'The Prospector' after all," she noted. "And as prospectors I work with my prospects to find out what their sparkle is."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchCharities/Non-Profit OrganizationsHealth & MedicineMovies & TelevisionRural/Town Life* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments Posted February 26, 2015 at 7:30 am

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(CSM) Artificial intelligence can learn Atari games from scratch, say scientists

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Is a robot uprising coming in 2015?

Maybe – but only to show you up at the arcade.

Led by researchers Demis Hassabis and Volodymyr Mnih, Google-owned DeepMind Technologies has created an artificial intelligence capable of playing simple video games with minimal training. They described their breakthrough today in Nature.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments Posted February 26, 2015 at 7:00 am

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(FT’s The World) William Wallis—Five dangerous weeks for Nigeria

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An interim government would be “alien to the constitution” says Mohammed Bello Adoke, the attorney-general. Mr Jonathan told the FT such a government could only emerge from a military coup. However, he could theoretically push back the polls and extend his tenure on a rolling six month basis by declaring the nation at war with Boko Haram insurgents. This would require the — unlikely — endorsement of two-thirds of the National Assembly. Alternatively if for whatever reason no winner emerges by May 29, the senate president, former army colonel David Mark, would stand in with 60 days to organise elections.

The fear is that without popular legitimacy, any government — military or civilian — will struggle to repair the fissures that will appear should Gen Buhari’s followers in the north believe him to have been cheated of victory. The same applies to a lesser degree to Mr Jonathan’s supporters, with former warlords in the oil-producing Niger delta threatening to take up arms again should he be bullied out of office. In such a febrile environment, there is a risk of ethnic killing especially in the north — as happened in 1965 in the run up to the Biafran civil war.

Nigeria has withdrawn from the brink on a number of occasions since. This time the army, potentially divided and already pinned down by Boko Haram, might have difficulty containing violence across many fronts, and the country’s future as one nation would be at stake. “These next five weeks are among the most dangerous in Nigeria’s history,” says Nasir el-Rufai, a former government minister contesting the Kaduna state governorship.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments Posted February 26, 2015 at 6:15 am

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Thursday Food For Thought—What do you do when your church structure is killing you?

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many times we are working with church structures of a different time. I have seen churches with 50 people attending on Sunday morning, and they maintain 12 committees.

There may have been a lot of retirees in the church, so we have committees who meet in the day.

Or there might have been a lot of people without children, so everyone meets at night—on a different night, to ensure that the pastor is at every meeting.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the OrdainedPastoral Care* Culture-WatchPsychology* TheologyEschatologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments Posted February 26, 2015 at 6:00 am

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Michael Nazir-Ali reviews ‘Longing for Community: Church, Ummah, or Somewhere in Between?’

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Given that the connection of Islam to Muslim-majority cultures is particularly strong, does there not need to be, nevertheless, a proper distinction between religion and culture? Should not this be so, even if many cultural practices and values are derived from a particular religious tradition? The problem with identifying culture entirely with religion is that contextualization can begin to look very much like capitulation. The issue becomes sharply focused in the debate about “insiders,” or followers of Jesus within Muslim communities who maintain their Muslim identity. To what extent has there been conversion if people continue to participate in the salat (ritual prayer), make the shahada (the Muslim profession of faith), derive their knowledge of Jesus and devotion to him mainly from the Qur’an and the Hadith, and so on? Other questions concern the relation of communities of such followers (if they are in communities) to other local churches and the worldwide church. Also, how are persons and cultures to be transformed by the Gospel if the status quo ante is largely maintained? There remain serious questions about whether such communities or persons will be allowed to survive within the Dar al-Islam (House of Islam).

We must remember that evangelists and missionaries stand within the apostolic tradition and are not semidetached from it or outside it altogether. This means, for instance, not making up elements of contextualization but using the rich and varied sources of Christian tradition—for example, in patterns of worship, liturgy, the public reading of the Scriptures, and forms of private devotion. In Islamic contexts, we are particularly fortunate that so much has been taken from Eastern Christian traditions and can be reappropriated without violence to the integrity of the Gospel. The problem sometimes is that Western Christian missionaries, and even Westernized indigenous Christians, are unaware of this rich heritage waiting on their doorstep or are suspicious of it. In some places, Islam is an import into an existing Christian culture; elsewhere, both Christianity and Islam have come from outside. Whatever the case, rich resources for inculturation are available because of the historic interaction between Muslims and Christians. Let us use them!

The book represents a brave attempt at assessing the many opportunities and problems for Christian witness in Muslim contexts. I hope it is only the beginning and that some of the issues raised in this review essay will be tackled at the next conference and in any publications that result from it.

Read it all (requires free registration).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeMissionsParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

0 Comments Posted February 26, 2015 at 5:40 am

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Lovely vivid colours from Lincoln Cathedral

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* General InterestPhotos/Photography

0 Comments Posted February 26, 2015 at 5:20 am

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(Washington Post) 3 Brooklyn men-not US citizens, arrested, charged with trying to aid ISIS

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Three men from Brooklyn have been arrested and charged with trying to help the Islamic State, according to a criminal complaint unsealed in federal court on Wednesday.

They had also discussed harming President Obama and carrying out attacks in the United States if they were unable to travel overseas. One of the three men was arrested while trying to fly to Turkey, where authorities say he planned to head to the border with Syria to meet with representatives from the Islamic State. Another of the men planned to follow him there next month, while the third man was helping finance some of these travel efforts.

These are the latest in a string of similar arrests, episodes that have highlighted the concerns of federal officials who have publicly worried that young people in the United States could be lured to join the militant group in Syria.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyViolenceYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

0 Comments Posted February 26, 2015 at 5:15 am

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(Time Magazine Cover Story) Researchers inching toward the seemingly impossible cure for aging?

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“When I got into the field, the notion that you could actually do something about the aging process was viewed as a crackpot idea,” says Richard Miller, director of the Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging at the University of Michigan. “The argument that one can slow aging, and diseases of aging along with it, used to be fantasy, but now we see it like a scientific strategy.”

Nobody is talking about living forever. But as these experts see it, aging is the single most powerful factor in the diseases that are most likely to cut our lives short: cancer, heart problems, immune disorders and degenerative brain conditions like Alzheimer’s. “Everybody knows that the main risk factors for heart disease are high cholesterol, obesity and high blood pressure,” says Dr. Felipe Sierra, director of the division of aging biology at the National Institute on Aging (NIA). “But even stronger than those factors is just being 70 years old.”

And that’s why staving off aging–or at least slowing it–has become such a central focus of research. “We’re going at aging itself,” says David Sinclair, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School. “We might take someone who is showing signs of aging and be able to do something about it, to treat that as a disease. That’s something I didn’t expect to be seeing in my lifetime.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineHistoryPsychologyScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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(Spectator) Anne Applebaum—How Vladimir Putin is waging war on the West – and winning

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last month, the speaker of the Russian parliament solemnly instructed his foreign affairs committee to launch a historical investigation: was West Germany’s ‘annexation’ of East Germany really legal? Should it be condemned? Ought it to be reversed? Last week, the Russian foreign minister, speaking at a security conference in Munich, hinted that he might have similar doubts. ‘Germany’s reunification was conducted without any referendum,’ he declared, ominously.

At this, the normally staid audience burst out laughing. The Germans in the room found the Russian statements particularly hilarious. Undo German unification? Why, that would require undoing the whole post-Cold War settlement!

Which is indeed a very amusing notion — unless you think that this is exactly what the Russian speaker, the Russian foreign minister, and indeed the Russian President, a man who once called the collapse of the Soviet Union ‘the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century’, are in fact trying to achieve.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeRussiaUkraine* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments Posted February 26, 2015 at 4:40 am

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A Prayer to Begin the Day from James Ferguson

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almighty and eternal God, who has so made us of body, soul and spirit, that we live not by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth from thee: Make us to hunger for the spiritual food of thy Word; and as we trust thee for our daily bread, may we also trust thee to give us day by day the inward nourishment of that living truth which thou hast revealed to us in thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsLentSpirituality/Prayer

0 Comments Posted February 26, 2015 at 4:19 am

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The Latest Issue of the Diocese of South Carolina Newspaper

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMedia* South Carolina* Theology

0 Comments Posted February 26, 2015 at 4:00 am

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From the Morning Scripture Readings

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So then, there remains a sabbath rest for the people of God; for whoever enters God's rest also ceases from his labors as God did from his.

--Hebrews 4:10-11

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments Posted February 26, 2015 at 3:59 am

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(NPR) Supreme Court Leans Toward Religious Protection In Headscarf Case

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At the U.S. Supreme Court, you know that it's going to be a hot argument when the usually straight-faced Justice Samuel Alito begins a question this way: "Let's say four people show up for a job interview ... this is going to sound like a joke, but it's not."

The issue before the court on Wednesday was whether retailer Abercrombie & Fitch violated the federal law banning religious discrimination when it rejected a highly rated job applicant because she wore a Muslim headscarf.

Alito's hypothetical continued this way: The first of the four applicants to show up at Abercrombie is a Sikh man wearing a turban; the second is a Hasidic man wearing a hat; the third is a Muslim woman wearing a hijab; the fourth is a Catholic nun in a habit. Now, Alito asked Abercrombie's lawyer: "Do you think that those people have to say, we just want to tell you, we're dressed this way for a religious reason? We're not just trying to make a fashion statement." Or, might we reasonably conclude that Abercrombie knows why they are dressed that way?

Read it all.

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

0 Comments Posted February 25, 2015 at 6:00 pm

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(Guardian) Henry VIII’s evidence to support break with Rome turns up in Cornish library

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A book which helped changed the course of English history, part of the evidence Henry VIII and his lawyers gathered in the 1530s to help win an annulment from Catherine of Aragon and ultimately to break with Rome, has turned up on the shelves of the magnificent library at Lanhydrock, a National Trust mansion in Cornwall.

The book, a summary of the theories of the medieval philosopher and theologian William of Ockham, has been newly identified by a US scholar and expert on the history of Henry’s library. The book was damaged but escaped destruction in a disastrous fire at the house in 1881, and crucially the fly-leaf survived. It still carries the number 282, written in black ink in the top right-hand corner, which Prof James Carley identified as corresponding with an inventory taken in 1542 of the most important of Henry’s books, five years before the king’s death.

Paul Holden, the house and collections manager at Lanhydrock, said: “It was an amazing moment. The old long gallery here is about the length of a football pitch, and the professor lapped it about six times when we found the book.”

Read it all.

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

0 Comments Posted February 25, 2015 at 4:39 pm

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Michael Bird-Paul Holloway Responds to Michael Bird about N.T. Wright and Sewanee University

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Over at Faith Forward, Paul Holloway responds to my earlier post about his denunciation of Sewanee University for awarding N.T. Wright an honorary doctorate.

Thankfully Holloway’s response attempts some actual reasoning and tries to provide some kind of substance to his criticism of Wright rather than resorting to hyperbolic and vitriolic protest as he did previously. Let me say that there is nothing wrong with robust criticism of Wright, for case in point, see John Barclay’s critique of Paul and the Faithfulness of God. The problem is that Holloway’s initial complaint about Wright was filled with inaccuracies, pejorative anthems, and was transparently tribal.

Let me address some of his recent claims.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Conflicts* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySeminary / Theological EducationTheology: Scripture

0 Comments Posted February 25, 2015 at 4:14 pm

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(First Things) Richard Mouw—When Penthouse Magazine Came Calling

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Narrating the details of my seventy-plus year pilgrimage would bore me almost as much as it would bore others. I do, however, remember a few events that might be interesting enough for public airing. One of them is the time that I turned down an invitation to appear in Penthouse magazine.

The phone call—it was the late 1970s, I think—came to our home in Grand Rapids late one afternoon. A pleasant woman asked me if I was willing to fly to New York City to serve on a panel of religious ethicists discussing “evangelicals and sexuality.” When I asked about the sponsorship of the panel, she immediately told me she would get to that topic after some other details, and then she reeled off the proposed date and the amount of a generous honorarium. I persisted: Who was sponsoring the panel? She answered: “I am calling on behalf of Bob Guccione of Penthouse magazine.”

“Oh, for crying out loud!” I exclaimed into the phone, and began to say that I would not do it. But she shot back, mentioning that a well-known professor from a university religion department had assured her that I was the right kind of person to appear in this published discussion. I got angry, urging her to tell the professor and Mr. Guccione what they were “full of.” And I hung up.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPornographyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

0 Comments Posted February 25, 2015 at 4:00 pm

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(Gallup) Americans’ Views of U.S. Position in World Steady—37% satisfied, 61% dissatisfied

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Thirty-seven percent of Americans are satisfied and 61% dissatisfied with the position of the U.S. in the world today. These views are unchanged from last year, even after a series of significant challenges for U.S. foreign policy. Americans' satisfaction is a bit higher than at the end of the Bush administration and at the beginning of the Obama administration, but remains well below where it was in the early 2000s.

The results are from Gallup's annual World Affairs survey, conducted Feb. 8-11. Americans' satisfaction held steady in the past year, even as the U.S. was forced to deal with the rise of Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria, a dispute with Russia over Ukrainian separatists in the eastern part of Ukraine, heightened tensions between the Israelis and Palestinians, and ongoing policy disagreements involving North Korea and Iran. The lack of change may be attributable to Americans' already high level of dissatisfaction with the nation's world position, with those events and the way the U.S. handled them serving to reinforce the dissatisfaction rather than to worsen or even improve it.

Americans have been more likely to be dissatisfied than satisfied with the position of the U.S. in the world since 2004, about the time it became clear that the U.S. military action in Iraq was running into problems that could -- and did -- lead to a prolonged U.S. commitment there. Satisfaction fell to a low of 30% in the final year of George W. Bush's administration and remained low in the very early stages of Barack Obama's presidency. Americans' satisfaction is modestly higher now than at that point, but has leveled off.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationPsychologySociology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments Posted February 25, 2015 at 3:11 pm

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(NYT Opinionator) Benjamin Bratton—Do we understand the REAL dangers of Artificial Intelligence?

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Elon] Musk, [Bill] Gates and [Stephen] Hawking made headlines by speaking to the dangers that A.I. may pose. Their points are important, but I fear were largely misunderstood by many readers. Relying on efforts to program A.I. not to “harm humans” (inspired by on Isaac Asimov’s “three laws” of robotics from 1942) makes sense only when an A.I. knows what humans are and what harming them might mean. There are many ways that an A.I. might harm us that that have nothing to do with its malevolence toward us, and chief among these is exactly following our well-meaning instructions to an idiotic and catastrophic extreme. Instead of mechanical failure or a transgression of moral code, the A.I. may pose an existential risk because it is both powerfully intelligent and disinterested in humans. To the extent that we recognize A.I. by its anthropomorphic qualities, or presume its preoccupation with us, we are vulnerable to those eventualities.

Read it carefully and read it all (emphasis mine).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationPhilosophyPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments Posted February 25, 2015 at 11:09 am

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(BBC) Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan alleges the Tide has turned against Boko Haram

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan has said the tide has "definitely turned" against militant Islamists as regional forces recapture territory.

His comments came hours after Boko Haram militants were blamed for killing 27 people in bombings in two commercial centres in the north on Tuesday.

Boko Haram had hit "soft targets" because of the setbacks it had suffered in battle, Mr Jonathan said.

Regional forces have recaptured eight major towns in recent weeks.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria

1 Comments Posted February 25, 2015 at 8:00 am

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Water Missions International to increase aid to devastated Malawi communities

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Water Missions International announced Tuesday that it is doubling its response to severe flooding that impacted southern Malawi in recent weeks.

An agreement between the Charleston-based nonprofit and UNICEF Malawi aims to increase safe water projects from eight to 17 communities in the African country, according to a news release.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchCharities/Non-Profit Organizations* International News & CommentaryAfricaMalawi* South Carolina

0 Comments Posted February 25, 2015 at 7:00 am

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Computing in the Classroom-From “Teaching Machine” to the promise of 21st c. learning technology

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On November 11, 1953, psychology professor B.F. Skinner sat in a fourth-grade math class, perturbed. It was Parents Day at his daughter Deborah’s school. The lesson seemed grossly inefficient: students proceeded through the material in lock-step, at the same pace; their graded assignments were returned to them sluggishly.

A leading proponent of what he called “radical behaviorism,” Skinner had devoted his career to studying feedback. He denied the existence of free will and dismissed inner mental states as explanations for outward action. Instead, he focused on the environment and the organism’s response. He had trained rats to push levers and pigeons to play Ping-Pong. A signed photo of Ivan Pavlov presided over his study in Cambridge. Turning his attention to a particular subset of the human animal—the schoolchild—Skinner invented his Teaching Machine.

Roughly the size and shape of a typewriter, the machine allowed a student to progress independently through a curriculum, answering test items and getting instant feedback with a few pulls of a lever. “The student quickly learns to be right. His work is pleasurable. He does not have to force himself to study,” Skinner claimed. “A classroom in which machines are being used is usually the scene of intense concentration.” With hardly any hindrance from peers or teachers, thousands of students could receive knowledge directly from a single textbook writer. He told The Harvard Crimson, “There is no reason why the school room should be any less mechanized than the kitchen.”

Sixty years later, Skinner’s reductionist ideas about teaching and learning continue to haunt public education—especially as it’s once again being called upon to embrace technology.

Read it all from Harvard Magazine.

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0 Comments Posted February 25, 2015 at 6:00 am

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World Council of Churches condemns atrocities by ISIS in Syria

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The World Council of Churches condemns the latest attacks and atrocities by the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) most recently against Christian villages in the region of Khabour in the governorate of Hassake, Syria. According to reports received, in the early morning of 23 February large numbers of IS fighters attacked these villages, killing a number of civilians, taking approximately 100 people captive, and provoking a mass exodus from these communities. These attacks seem to be attempts at opening a new corridor towards the Turkish border that could facilitate the procurement of both weapons and mercenaries.

Read it all.

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

1 Comments Posted February 25, 2015 at 5:41 am

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(Commentary) Joshua Muravchik—Muslims and Terror: The Real Story

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In other words the Muslim states have often denounced “terrorism,” but only by defining that term to exclude any and all attacks against Israel and miscellaneous other depredations, such as against Americans in Iraq, undertaken in the name of “national resistance.” To countenance terror in some cases is to countenance terror, period. Who, after all, would support terror on behalf of causes that he opposes? Just as the only meaningful test of support for free speech is support for speech with which one does not agree, so the only meaningful measure of opposition to terrorism is to condemn it even if carried out in the service of a cause of which one approves.

This the Muslim world remains reluctant to do. Palestine is its signature cause. Although the Palestinians did not invent terror, it was Fatah and kindred Palestinian groups that in the 1970s, with their attacks on airplanes, ships, trains, embassies, and even the Olympic Games, made terrorism the scourge of international life that it is today and inspired others to emulate their deeds. Yet how many Muslim voices can be heard anywhere decrying Palestinian terror? Even the Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas, which has repeatedly renounced terrorism, continues to honor child-murderers and pay stipends to imprisoned terrorists and the families of deceased terrorists. Its official news agency described last summer’s killers of three Israeli teens as “martyrs.” This past November, when four rabbis were hacked to death in prayer in Jerusalem, Abbas condemned the deed, but that same day, as Palestinian Media Watch has documented, Fatah’s Facebook page signaled to the Palestinians that he did not really mean it. It posted a clip from a television interview with one of Arafat’s bodyguards describing how Arafat sometimes bowed to foreign pressure to condemn terror attacks but would do so insincerely because, the guard explained, Islam allows lying under such circumstances. Any viewer would grasp the implication that Abbas was acting in the same manner as his predecessor.

Aside from playing semantic games with the word terrorism, there is another reason that helps to explain why the world’s Muslim governments maintain a strong front in defense of terrorism even while surveys, like Pew’s, suggest that most Muslims reject violence against civilians. The political dynamics of any community are shaped only in part by the proportion of people who believe one thing or another. They are also shaped by the intensity with which views are held. A huge advantage accrues to those who, in Yeats’s line, “are full of passionate intensity.” Today, in the Muslim world, the passionate ones are the Islamists.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureSociologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

0 Comments Posted February 25, 2015 at 5:30 am

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(NBC) Many 911 Centers Can’t Locate Callers Because of Old Technology

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A NBC News investigation has found that many 911 centers around the country still rely on dated technology instead of something as widely used as Google maps, which means dispatchers may not be able to find you when it matters most. Experts call it a public safety crisis, stating that the majority of wireless calls to 911, some 60 percent of callers, cannot be located by emergency dispatchers.

Read it all and watch the whole chilling video report.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineHistoryScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments Posted February 25, 2015 at 5:15 am

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(NYT) Hunter Garth—Please Don’t Thank Me for My Service

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I did know he was a vet and so I did what seemed natural: I thanked him for his service.

“No problem,” he said.

It wasn’t true. There was a problem. I could see it from the way he looked down. And I could see it on the faces of some of the other vets who work with Mr. Garth when I thanked them too. What gives, I asked? Who doesn’t want to be thanked for their military service?

Many people, it turns out. Mike Freedman, a Green Beret, calls it the “thank you for your service phenomenon.” To some recent vets — by no stretch all of them — the thanks comes across as shallow, disconnected, a reflexive offering from people who, while meaning well, have no clue what soldiers did over there or what motivated them to go, and who would never have gone themselves nor sent their own sons and daughters.

To these vets, thanking soldiers for their service symbolizes the ease of sending a volunteer army to wage war at great distance — physically, spiritually, economically. It raises questions of the meaning of patriotism, shared purpose and, pointedly, what you’re supposed to say to those who put their lives on the line and are uncomfortable about being thanked for it.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMilitary / Armed ForcesPsychology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

2 Comments Posted February 25, 2015 at 5:00 am

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(Ethics Daily) Elijah Brown—Iraq’s Religious and Ethnic Minorities Face Genocide

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq are living at the edge of extinction.

They are marginalized and under threat from the genocidal actions of the Islamic State in Iraq, resulting in the purging of religious and ethnic minorities from their historic homes.

If immediate action is not taken, the existence of religious and ethnic minority communities, such as Christians, Yazidis, Shabak and Turkmen, will continue on a trajectory of precipitous decline into virtual non-existence.

In the last decade, the Christian community has plummeted from approximately 1.5 million to 300,000.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches

0 Comments Posted February 25, 2015 at 4:40 am

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A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Gregorian Sacramentary

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O God, who willest not the death of a sinner: We beseech thee to aid and protect those who are exposed to grievous temptations; and grant that in obeying thy commandments they may be strengthened and supported by thy grace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsLentSpirituality/Prayer

0 Comments Posted February 25, 2015 at 4:22 am

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From the Morning Scripture Readings

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Take care, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

For we share in Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end, while it is said,

“Today, when you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

Who were they that heard and yet were rebellious? Was it not all those who left Egypt under the leadership of Moses? And with whom was he provoked forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear that they should never enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

--Hebrews 3:12-19

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments Posted February 25, 2015 at 4:00 am

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Jeremy Bouma—Knowing the Elephant: Revelation’s Place in a Theology of Religions

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Maybe you’ve heard the famous story of the blind men and the elephant. The story is told from the vantage point of a king who watches as men grapple with the reality of the massive creature:

One man holds the tail, another its tusks; one person grasps the elephant’s ears, another touches its massive body. Each person insists the creature is as his perspective allows, which is why the story is often quoted in the interest of religious pluralism, even agnosticism.

Except, as Daniel Strange notes in his new book Their Rock Is Not Like Our Rock, the story demonstrates epistemic arrogance, for the king insists he sees the whole elephantine truth that all the world religions miss!

Given this story, when it comes to a theology of religions Strange insists one needs to reveal the foundation upon which they base their authority....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksGlobalizationMulticulturalism, pluralismReligion & Culture* Theology

0 Comments Posted February 24, 2015 at 6:50 pm

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(CNN) Supreme Court to hear religious freedom case Tomorrow

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Samantha Elauf was apprehensive to interview for a sales job at retailer Abercrombie & Fitch in 2008 because the 17 year old wore a headscarf in accordance with her Muslim faith. But a friend of hers, who worked at the store, said he didn't think it would be a problem as long as the headscarf wasn't black because the store doesn't sell black clothes.

Ultimately Elauf failed to get the job, and her story has triggered a religious freedom debate regarding when an employer can be held liable under civil rights laws . The Supreme Court will hear the case on Wednesday.

Like many retailers Abercrombie has a "look policy" aimed to promote what it calls its "classic East Coast collegiate style of clothing."

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

5 Comments Posted February 24, 2015 at 5:00 pm

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(WSJ) Michael Roth—Religion’s Role in the History of Ideas

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It happens every year. In teaching my humanities class, I ask what a philosopher had in mind in writing about the immortality of the soul or salvation, and suddenly my normally loquacious undergraduates start staring down intently at their notes. If I ask them a factual theological question about the Protestant Reformation, they are ready with an answer: predestination, faith not works, etc.

But if I go on to ask them how one knows in one’s heart that one is saved, they turn back to their notes. They look anywhere but at me, for fear that I might ask them about feeling the love of God or about having a heart filled with faith. In this intellectual history class, we talk about sexuality and identity, violence and revolution, art and obscenity, and the students are generally eager to weigh in. But when the topic of religious feeling and experience comes up, they would obviously just prefer that I move on to another subject.

Why is it so hard for my very smart students to make this leap—not the leap of faith but the leap of historical imagination? I’m not trying to make a religious believer out of anybody, but I do want my students to have a nuanced sense of how ideas of knowledge, politics and ethics have been intertwined with religious faith and practice.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHistoryPhilosophyReligion & CultureYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments Posted February 24, 2015 at 4:22 pm

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(Reuters) Church of England accused of double standards over low wages

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England was accused of double standards on Monday (Feb. 23) for offering jobs in cathedrals at lower wages than those it has called on other British employers to pay their workers.

Under the banner headline “Wages of Sin,” the Sun reported that it had found several advertisements for jobs in cathedrals that offered pay well below the “living wage” of 7.85 pounds ($12) an hour, endorsed by the Church and senior politicians.

Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said the Church recognized that no employer could ramp up wages overnight, and was working hard to get to a point where it was paying all of its workers the living wage.

“It’s embarrassing. We’d prefer to be there. We’re getting there as quickly as we can,” Welby, the spiritual head of the 80-million strong Anglican communion, told the BBC.

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A.S Haley—South Carolina Court Makes Short Shrift of ECUSA’s Motion

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...ECUSA argued, Bishop Lawrence should have been prevented, by the doctrine of "judicial estoppel," from so changing course and citing All Saints as a precedent to Judge Goodstein. Instead, they contended, he was required to stick to the same old arguments his predecessor had made before the South Carolina Supreme Court's 2009 ruling.

Except -- their argument overlooked one small but highly significant detail: as a decision by the State's highest court, All Saints Waccamaw is binding on all churches similarly situated -- including specifically, the Episcopal Church which had lost its argument to that Court -- and on all lower courts in South Carolina.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: South Carolina* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments Posted February 24, 2015 at 3:15 pm

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(CT) How Libya’s Martyrs Are Witnessing to Egypt

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Undaunted by the slaughter of 21 Christians in Libya, the director of the Bible Society of Egypt saw a golden gospel opportunity.

“We must have a Scripture tract ready to distribute to the nation as soon as possible,” Ramez Atallah told his staff the evening an ISIS-linked group released its gruesome propaganda video. Less than 36 hours later, Two Rows by the Sea was sent to the printer.

One week later, 1.65 million copies have been distributed in the Bible Society’s largest campaign ever. It eclipses even the 1 million tracts distributed after the 2012 death of Shenouda, the Coptic "Pope of the Bible."

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic Church* Theology

2 Comments Posted February 24, 2015 at 11:26 am

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(LA Times) Karen Klein—Let’s call physician-assisted suicide what it is

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The number of words we can’t use without offending is ever growing, and if the supporters of the right-to-die movement have their way, it will stretch yet again to include the word “suicide.” At least when that suicide is the result of a dying patient taking a lethal dose of drugs to avoid impending mental and physical anguish.

It’s insensitive at best to use the “S” word in this context, I’ve been informed by several advocates, because people would not be choosing this option because of a psychiatric disorder or despair over life. They don’t want to die; their diseases have forced that on them. Senate Bill 128, legislation recently introduced in California to allow physicians to write lethal prescriptions under tightly controlled circumstances, not only refrains from calling this suicide but would not allow death certificates to reflect how the death occurred.

“The cause of death listed on an individual’s death certificate who uses aid-in-dying medication shall be the underlying terminal illness,” it reads.

In other words, it wouldn't mention the legal drugs that actually caused the death. The public should have a problem with that.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & Family* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments Posted February 24, 2015 at 8:00 am

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(Church Times) Investigation into church salaries leads to Living Wage row

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England has defended its stance on the Living Wage after it was revealed that cathedrals and churches were hiring staff on salaries below the benchmark.

An investigation by The Sun found that Canterbury Cathedral was advertising for porters and kiosk assistants on salaries between £6.70 and £7.75 an hour. The Living Wage (outside London) is currently set at £7.85.

Lichfield Cathedral was also revealed to be hiring waiting staff on £6.50 an hour, which is the national minimum wage.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments Posted February 24, 2015 at 6:00 am

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The Church of England Statement on Living Wage

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"The Pastoral letter from the House of Bishops was addressed to churches and encouraged them to implement the living wage. The Living Wage Commission, chaired by the Archbishop of York, recognised in its report last year, that a phased implementation may be necessary in some businesses and organisations. It welcomed employers seeking to implement the pay level progressively. What is important is that those who can, do so, as soon as is practically possible. The vast majority of those employed by or sub-contracted to the Church's central institutions are already paid at least the Living Wage and all will be by April 2017...."

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments Posted February 24, 2015 at 5:45 am

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Carl Trueman on Wesleyan University’s LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM House

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If very few of the sexual acts of today’s identity politics are procreative, that has certainly not inhibited their proponents’ impressive ability to give birth to endless categories of sexual preference. This is the result of more than a mere lack of conceptual contraception. It also indicates the loss of any sense that sex in itself might carry some kind of larger moral significance. Indeed, the plethora of sexual identities now available witness to the fact that there is no longer any basis for rejecting any kind of sexual act, considered in itself, as intrinsically wrong. The multiplication of such categories is part of rendering sex amoral: When everything is legitimate, then nothing has particular moral significance.

This endless expansion of sexual categories is a necessary consequence of what is now the fundamental tenet of modern sexual politics, and perhaps a key element of modern politics in general: That a person’s attitude to sex is the primary criterion for assessing their moral standing in the public square. If you say that sex has intrinsic moral significance, then you set it within a larger moral framework and set limits to the legitimate use of sex. In doing so, you declare certain sexual acts illegitimate, something which is now considered hate speech. This constant coining of new categories of sexual identity serves both to demonstrate this and to facilitate its policing.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationPsychologySexualityYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments Posted February 24, 2015 at 5:30 am

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(Sky News) ISIS Abducts 90 Christians In Syria

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[ISIS] ...militants have kidnapped dozens of people from Christian villages in Syria, a human rights watchdog has said.

According to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the militants stormed at least two villages, inhabited by the ancient Assyrian Christian minority, shortly after dawn, taking some 90 civilians captive.

Nuri Kino, the head of the activist group A Demand For Action, quoted villagers who fled the attacks as saying between 70 and 100 people are being held.

A number of children are understood to be among them.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments Posted February 24, 2015 at 5:15 am

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(Local paper) Judge denies motion to reconsider ruling against Episcopal Church

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The motion had to be filed before an appeal can move forward.

“Their policy of using legal action to drain the finances of dissident congregations is not working. It only deflects denomination resources from projects to promote the faith and speeds the downward spiral of the Episcopal Church,” said the Rev. Jim Lewis, canon to the ordinary for the Diocese of South Carolina, whose parishes left the national church in 2012.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: South CarolinaTEC Polity & Canons* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments Posted February 24, 2015 at 5:00 am

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A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Matthias

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O Almighty God, who into the place of Judas didst choose thy faithful servant Matthias to be of the number of the Twelve: Grant that thy Church, being delivered from false apostles, may always be ordered and guided by faithful and true pastors; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistorySpirituality/Prayer

0 Comments Posted February 24, 2015 at 4:40 am

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A Prayer to Begin the Day from Thomas Wilson

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O Heavenly Father, subdue in us whatever is contrary to thy holy will, that we may know how to please thee. Grant, O God, that we may never run into those temptations which in our prayers we desire to avoid. Lord, never permit our trials to be above our strength; through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsLentSpirituality/Prayer

0 Comments Posted February 24, 2015 at 4:22 am

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From the Morning Scripture Readings

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Therefore, holy brethren, who share in a heavenly call, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession. He was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in God’s house. Yet Jesus has been counted worthy of as much more glory than Moses as the builder of a house has more honor than the house. (For every house is built by some one, but the builder of all things is God.) Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ was faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if we hold fast our confidence and pride in our hope.

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,

“Today, when you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
on the day of testing in the wilderness,
where your fathers put me to the test
and saw my works for forty years.
Therefore I was provoked with that generation,
and said, ‘They always go astray in their hearts;
they have not known my ways.’
As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall never enter my rest.’”

--Hebrews 3:1-11

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments Posted February 24, 2015 at 4:01 am

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A.S Haley—The Episcopal Church is sanctioned again in the Quincy Lawsuit

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After analyzing the record to find that TEC had waived any right to claim that there were separate funds in the single account, the Court observed:
During the argument on these issues, TEC argued that it did not freeze the account, PNC did. To say this argument lacks merit would be charitable. While TEC, in a very literal sense, is correct on “who” froze the account, the “why” is the more important issue. PNC froze the account because it received a letter from counsel for TEC which threatened to hold PNC liable if funds were disbursed.

The court finds, based upon this record, that the continued threat made to PNC Bank to hold it accountable if funds were disbursed and the continued attempt to collaterally attack the clear order of this court dated October 9, 2013 even after this case had run its course through the appellate process constitutes bad faith, is not grounded in fact or existing law and has resulted in needless, ongoing and expensive litigation.

Accordingly, the court grants the request of the Plaintiffs for fees incurred from December 30, 2014 onward pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 137.
There is much more to savor in the Court’s order. It is gratifying to have a trial judge (not the one who rendered the original Quincy decision) see so clearly through TEC’s bullying tactics, and to deal with them accordingly.

Read it all and make sure to follow the link to the full order.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Quincy* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Banking System/Sector* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments Posted February 23, 2015 at 4:36 pm

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(Time Magazine) 10 Questions With Elder Care Thinker Ai-jen Poo

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Elder care is also often done for low wages by new or undocumented immigrants. Will that change?

Manufacturing in the ’20s and ’30s was sweatshop work, largely done by new immigrants. We turned factory work into good jobs with pathways to opportunities. That professionalization was the basis for 20th century prosperity. That’s what the care workforce needs to be. These have the potential to be really good jobs.

You compare investing in home-care workers to investing in railways or the Internet. But aren’t those about growth, not dying?

For working-age adults right now, especially with what they call the sandwich generation–people who are caring for children and aging parents–this is having an impact on their productivity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyMiddle AgePsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments Posted February 23, 2015 at 3:56 pm

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Video of Octopus’ land attack on unsuspecting crab pulls in over 2m views on YouTube

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Watch the whole incredible thing. You may also read more about it there.

Filed under: * General InterestAnimalsPhotos/Photography* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ

0 Comments Posted February 23, 2015 at 3:14 pm

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(RNS) Losing their Faith: More women join the ‘no religious identity’ category

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nadia Bulkin, 27, the daughter of a Muslim father and a Christian mother, spends “zero time” thinking about God.

And she finds that among her friends — both guys and gals — many are just as spiritually disconnected.

Surveys have long shown women lead more active lives of faith than men, and that millennials are less interested than earlier generations. One in three now claim no religious identity.

What may be new is that more women, generation by generation, are moving in the direction of men — away from faith, religious commitment, even away from vaguely spiritual views like “a deep sense of wonder about the universe,” according to some surveys.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureWomen* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheismSecularism* Theology

0 Comments Posted February 23, 2015 at 11:21 am

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Bishop Mark Lawrence—Peace: Here and Now—an Ash Wednesday Reflection

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What do all these words read this day and resonating in my ears have to do with my observance of holy Lent? This I believe:

• If grace-filled obedience not self-imposed deprivation is the pathway to God’s blessing shouldn’t one’s Lenten discipline focus on this?
• If God’s call, not the driven life, is for each of us our apostolic mission shouldn’t that be the place out of which we live our lives and do our work and ministry?
• If we are dust and to dust we shall return (as the words of the Ash Wednesday liturgy reminds us) why am I, and so many of us, in such a hurry?

Then there was this word that came like a lightning bolt across my mind illuminating my whole being: “… you think you have to be some place elsewhere or accomplish something more to find peace. But it is right here. God has yet to bless anyone except where they actually are.” Once again this was a word spoken years ago by Dr. Dallas Willard to John Ortberg’s striving and spiritually dry soul; I noted these words in my journal and then wrote this confession: I repent of this, Lord. I renounce the life tape that has played within me for years that makes peace something relegated to some place “where” or some time “when” and other than here and now in You.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsLentParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyPastoral TheologySoteriology

0 Comments Posted February 23, 2015 at 8:56 am

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(Economist Erasmus Blog) Gender, violence and religion When north and south agree

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A couple of days ago, a senior African cleric was holding forth on the need to combine religious instruction with, in the broadest sense, sex education. Both at home and at school, declared Archbishop Henri Isingoma, boys must be taught about the higher purpose of sex as "the way God wanted to make the human race continue". Another acute problem, he added, was "ignorance of the responsibilities of men towards women." He was speaking in a webinar organised by a department of the global Anglican church, drawing in clergy and church workers from their own and other Christian confessions.

So...was this one more depressing display of the giant cultural gap between the liberal north and the traditional south, especially over sexuality, which is tearing apart the 80m-strong Anglican Communion, and many other religious bodies?

No, it was nothing of the kind, and that's what made the discussion more worthwhile. The topic was "gender-based violence" which is a catchall term that describes both domestic cruelty and the still-greater horrors that take place on battlefields when soldiers run amok and commit rape. Victims of GBV are mainly female, but they also include men and boys. And the striking thing was that on this exceptionally grave subject, "conservatives" and "liberals" plainly find it useful to talk and cooperate, and the talk goes well beyond platitudes.

Mara Luz, an Anglican church worker from Brazil, said 40% of women in her country experienced some kind of violence; there were well-written laws, but implementation was very poor, especially in remote areas.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationPsychologyReligion & CultureSexualityViolence* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments Posted February 23, 2015 at 8:00 am

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([London] Times)  Lethal self-harm—Why are teenage boys so prone to severe depression?

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We can only imagine the agony of Edward Mallen’s parents, for whom “a normal Monday afternoon became a horrifying nightmare where one is staring into this appalling abyss of grief” when police knocked on their door last week to say that their 18-year-old son had been killed by a train. Intelligent, gifted, kind and humble, head boy twice over — by all accounts, Edward was a remarkable young man. Twelve A*s at GCSE, a place at Cambridge to read geography, grade eight at piano and popular.

Yet shortly after Christmas depression consumed him. His father said: “Often there is a trigger, some trauma, but there didn’t seem to be in this case. My son had a sickness — a biological sickness — that overtook him very rapidly. It happened over six to eight weeks.” The shocking fact is that this is not an isolated incident. Talking to experts and parents, I get a sense that self-harm, a destructive way of coping with emotional pain, has reached epidemic proportions.

According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ 2010 report on public mental health, half of those who suffer mental-health problems in adult life display difficulties by the age of 14. Three quarters of mental illness is present by the mid-twenties. While three times as many women as men attempt suicide, Office for National Statistics figures show that 78 per cent of suicides in 2013 were male (up from 63 per cent in 1981).

Read it all (requires subscription).


Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHealth & MedicineMenPsychologyStressSuicideTeens / Youth* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

2 Comments Posted February 23, 2015 at 7:00 am

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Kendall Harmon’s Sermon from Sunday—‘Father Forgive them for they know not what they do’

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Filed under: * By KendallSermons & Teachings* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyAnthropologyChristologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments Posted February 23, 2015 at 6:15 am

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In S.C. Charleston, Dorchester students battle it out in underwater robotics competition

Posted by Kendall Harmon

West Ashley High student Christian Bohn shouted words of encouragement as his classmate James Williams guided an underwater robot — weighted down with a wobbly peg — across a slotted box at the bottom of the pool.

“You got it, you got it!” Bohn exclaimed, as Williams plopped the peg into a tiny hole.

The West Ashley seniors were among more than 50 middle and high school students from six Charleston and Dorchester county schools who competed Thursday in the Charleston Regional SeaPerch Competition at Danny Jones Pool in North Charleston. Students battled it out for a chance to compete in the 2015 SeaPerch National Challenge in May at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenScience & Technology* South Carolina

0 Comments Posted February 23, 2015 at 6:00 am

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Archbishop Justin Welby’s speech at the recent Think, Pray, Vote conference

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I am going to speak today, principally, about why discipleship compels us to be concerned with matters of politics and active participation in politics, and a little about some of the issues we face.

We should never lose sight of the fact, when we are engaging in politics as to why it matters so much. We have the great good fortune, whichever party we support, whichever part of politics we come from, to be able to do that without fear in this country. And let us today remember that in many parts of the world, and particularly in Northern Iraq, in parts of Libya, in Northern Nigeria, that were we to gather in a room like this today, it would be almost certainly the cause of our death. And usually in a very terrible way.

And so the business of engagement in politics is in part a celebration of what we have in this country. And a proclamation that we are deeply committed to a society where freedom of expression and justice are at its heart. Where nobody is excluded because they are poor or rich, or one ethnic background or another or a sexuality. But they are all included with equal value in their opinions.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments Posted February 23, 2015 at 5:45 am

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Notable and Quotable—from a new book Examining the R. Catholic Church in Ireland

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Irish Church today is still marked by relatively high levels of religious adherence and participation compared to most of its fellow European countries. Two of the book’s contributors, Elizabeth Oldmixon and Brian Calfano, find most Irish Catholic priests do not feel “burned-out” and report reasonably high levels of job satisfaction, in line with ministers in other religious traditions.

Another contributor, Bernadette Flanagan, finds a lively spirituality still at work within the Church, one that can now be informed by practices from other cultures as well as from the country’s own past.

Throughout the essays, the writers agree the potential is great for an Irish Catholicism that otherwise stands liberated from long relationships to political power and social privilege.

Read it all from the Irish Times.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

0 Comments Posted February 23, 2015 at 5:30 am

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(ARDA) David Briggs—How religion matters in the face of death

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Most Americans hold on to the hope of eternal life. This belief has remained relatively unchanged in recent decades despite a rise in secularism and the visibility of prominent atheist authors such as Richard Dawkins decrying such ideas as delusions.

In the 1976 General Social Survey, nearly three-quarters of respondents said they believed in a life after death. The percentage holding that belief was unchanged in the 2012 survey.

And for many people, this is a great resource. In general, a number of studies indicate a strong faith and a deeply held belief in the afterlife allows individuals to better cope with their own fears of mortality.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEschatology

0 Comments Posted February 23, 2015 at 5:15 am

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For original material from Titusonenine (such as articles and commentary by Dr. Harmon) permission to copy and distribute free of charge is granted, provided this notice, the logo, and the web site address are visible on all copies. For permission for use in for-profit publications, please email KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com