Daily Archives: December 10, 2009

Diane Francis (Financial Post): The whole world needs to adopt China's one-child policy

The “inconvenient truth” overhanging the UN’s Copenhagen conference is not that the climate is warming or cooling, but that humans are overpopulating the world.

A planetary law, such as China’s one-child policy, is the only way to reverse the disastrous global birthrate currently, which is one million births every four days.

The world’s other species, vegetation, resources, oceans, arable land, water supplies and atmosphere are being destroyed and pushed out of existence as a result of humanity’s soaring reproduction rate.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Canada, Children, China, Climate Change, Weather, Globalization, Politics in General

Stephen Prothero: Atheists need a different voice

A few years ago, I wrote that in America, atheism was going the way of the freak show. I was wrong. Today Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and other “New Atheists” are regulars on best-seller lists and college lecture circuits, and unbelief is enjoying a new vogue. In his inaugural address, President Obama referred to the United States as a “nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus and non-believers” ”” a formula he repeated in his Nov. 7 radio address about the Fort Hood massacre. Recently, various humanist and free-thought groups have announced their presence on billboards across the country. “Don’t believe in God?” read bus signs in Des Moines. “You are not alone.”

Today, most Americans associate unbelief with the old-boys network of New Atheists, but there is a new generation of unbelievers emerging, some of them women and most of them far friendlier than Hitchens and his ilk. Although the arguments of angry men gave this movement birth, it could be the stories of women that allow it to grow up.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Atheism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Nigeria: Breeding Young Priests Through Youth Fellowship

Which minister of God would tolerate any hindrance to the flow of thanksgiving/offering procession during any service or special church event?

This was the challenge the then Vicar of the All Saints Church (Anglican Communion), Ojuelegba, Surulere Lagos, Reverend Caleb Mmaduoma, now Bishop of Ideato Diocese, had 14 years ago.

What started as one young boy’s spirit filled dance to the offering box, whenever the church’s band started rendering exhilarating praise and worship songs during offering or thanks giving period, later became a teething problem which many parishioners had wanted to be done without.

From being a one man’s dance show to the offering box, many other boys joined the dance train and looked up to every Sunday or church event to pour their sorrow and joy to the Lord through their slow paced gyrating dance steps.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Teens / Youth, Young Adults

WSJ Front Page–American Dream 2: Quit paying your mortgage and become a renter

Others on Ms. [Shana] Richey’s block have made similar moves [to default, and then to rent]. Mr. [Jay] Fernandez, the firefighter, moved into 3139 in July, after stopping the $4,800 monthly payments on the home he owned around the corner on Champion Way….

With an income of about $8,300 a month and a rent of $2,200, Mr. Fernandez says he now has the wherewithal to do things he couldn’t when he was stretching to pay the mortgage. He recently went to concerts by Rob Thomas and Mat Kearney. He also kept his black BMW 6 Series coupe, which has payments of about $700 a month.

“I don’t know if I’ll buy another house again, because it’s such a huge headache,” he says.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Personal Finance, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Local paper Front Page: South Carolina Governor Sanford escapes Impeachment

Unless the unforeseen happens, Gov. Mark Sanford has avoided impeachment.

The House Judiciary Impeachment Subcommittee on Wednesday voted 7-0 to recommend that the Legislature censure the governor instead of impeach him for his 2008 state-paid escapade with his Argentine mistress and his June disappearing act.

The subcommittee’s recommendation is generally seen as putting the matter to rest, even though the full 25-member House Judiciary Committee has to consider the recommendation next week and the House could still take up impeachment when it reconvenes in January.

Sanford said he was grateful to the subcommittee members for their deliberative approach and to the public for standing by him.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, State Government, Theology

Reading Practice Can Strengthen Brain 'Highways'

Intensive reading programs can produce measurable changes in the structure of a child’s brain, according to a study in the journal Neuron. The study found that several different programs improved the integrity of fibers that carry information from one part of the brain to another.

“That helped areas of the brain work together,” says Marcel Just, director of the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

Coordination is important because reading involves a lot of different parts of the brain, Just says.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Education, Marriage & Family, Poetry & Literature, Science & Technology

Christian Century: When depression leads pastors to suicide

What kind of personal pain would cause a 42-year-old pastor to abandon his family, his calling and even life itself? Members of a Baptist church in Hickory, North Carolina, are asking that question after their pastor committed suicide in his parked car in September.

Those who counsel pastors say Christian culture, especially southern evangelicalism, creates the perfect environment for depression. Pastors suffer in silence, unwilling or unable to seek help or even talk about it. Sometimes they leave the ministry. Occasionally the result is the unthinkable.

Experts say clergy suicide is a rare outcome to a common problem. But Baptists in the Carolinas are soul searching after a spate of suicides and suicide attempts by pastors. In addition to the recent suicide of David Treadway, two pastors in North Carolina attempted suicide and three in South Carolina died by suicide, all in the past four years.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Suicide, Theology

From Harvard’s Gridiron to Oxford’s Rugby Pitch

By the time the phone rang at 5:30 one morning two years ago, Will Johnson was already intimately acquainted with tradition in college sports. He had stood proud at Harvard Stadium and battled the enemy in the Yale Bowl. He had played in the Game.

But the voice Johnson heard through his sleepy haze was telling him that he still had plenty to learn about tradition.

Johnson was being offered the chance to play in an older rivalry, one between universities that make Harvard and Yale look like expansion teams: Oxford and Cambridge. He could not turn it down, even if it meant moving to a country he hardly knew and playing a sport he had only just met.

On Thursday, Johnson will pull on his navy blue Oxford rugby jersey to face Cambridge in the Varsity Match, which stands alongside the Boat Race in the two universities’ annual tussle for bragging rights. He called it a one-game season.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Education, England / UK, Sports

A Christianity Today editorial: Death to deadly earnest discipleship!

“It is astonishing,” wrote Karl Barth, “how many references there are in the Old and New Testaments to delight, joy, bliss, exultation, merry-making, and rejoicing, and how emphatically these are demanded from the Book of Psalms to the Epistle to the Philippians.”

Indeed, from “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth!” (Ps. 100:1) to “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4)””and dozens of places before and after and in between””we are urged to lead joy-filled lives.

When believers do a little self-reflection, not many of us point to joylessness as the thing that needs attention. Mostly we flagellate ourselves for our undisciplined discipleship. We issue calls to repent of our consumerism, sign ecumenical concords to heal our divisions, and issue manifestos to care for the poor and the planet. No one has yet issued a joint ecumenical statement on the need for Christians to be more joyful.

Wonderful stuff–read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Pastoral Theology, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

Pew Forum: Many Americans Mix Multiple Faiths

The religious beliefs and practices of Americans do not fit neatly into conventional categories. A new poll by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life finds that large numbers of Americans engage in multiple religious practices, mixing elements of diverse traditions. Many say they attend worship services of more than one faith or denomination — even when they are not traveling or going to special events like weddings and funerals. Many also blend Christianity with Eastern or New Age beliefs such as reincarnation, astrology and the presence of spiritual energy in physical objects. And sizeable minorities of all major U.S. religious groups say they have experienced supernatural phenomena, such as being in touch with the dead or with ghosts.

One-third of Americans (35%) say they regularly (9%) or occasionally (26%) attend religious services at more than one place, and most of these (24% of the public overall) indicate that they sometimes attend religious services of a faith different from their own. Aside from when they are traveling and special events like weddings and funerals, three-in-ten Protestants attend services outside their own denomination, and one-fifth of Catholics say they sometimes attend non-Catholic services.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture

Jennifer Senior: The Abortion Distortion–Where is America Really on the Question of Abortion

Most New Yorkers hadn’t heard of Bart Stupak before he attached his devastating anti-abortion amendment to the House’s health-care-reform bill three weeks ago. We know a lot more about him now, of course: that he lives in a Christian rooming house on C Street; that he’s a former state trooper. He has become a symbol of legislative zealotry, living proof that the fight over the right to choose will always attract a more impassioned opposition than defense. (As Harrison Hickman, a former pollster for NARAL, put it to me: “If you believe that choosing the wrong side of the issue means spending eternal life in Hades, of course you’re going to be more focused on it.”) Just a week after the vote, when I reached the Michigan Democrat as he was driving across his district, he seemed dumbfounded that anyone found his brinkmanship surprising. “I said to anyone who’d listen: ”˜Do you want health care, or do you want to fight out abortion?’”‰” says Stupak. He points out that he’d nearly managed to bring down a rule about abortion funding earlier in the summer, this time in a bill about spending in the District of Columbia. “I said, ”˜Look, that was a shot across your bow,’”‰” he recalls. “”‰”˜I was being polite to you. That was a warning.’ And the leadership just blew us off.”

Until it realized it couldn’t, of course. And the results sent chills through the pro-choice world, dampening what was otherwise an impressive victory for Democrats on the issue of universal health care. If Stupak’s amendment holds, then any health-insurance plan that’s either listed on the government-run exchange or accepts federal subsidies””which would likely be almost all of them””would not be allowed to cover abortions. (The Senate bill is better thus far, but what the legislation will ultimately be, assuming it passes at all, is anyone’s guess.) Four days after the vote, Kate Michelman, the former head of NARAL, and Frances Kissling, the former head of Catholics for Choice, warned of an ominous new landscape in a Times op-ed: “The House Democrats reinforced the principle that a minority view on the morality of abortion can determine reproductive-health policy for American women.”

But is that actually right? Was Stupak’s truly the minority view?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Life Ethics, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Senate

RNS–Episcopal Church Membership Drops by 3 Percent

Domestic membership in the Episcopal Church dropped by 3 percent in 2008, continuing a decline in which the denomination has lost almost 200,000 American members since 2004, according to Episcopal researchers.

The Episcopal Church now counts slightly more than 2 million members in about 7,000 U.S. parishes. Church leaders say they are pleased, however, that the denomination is growing in its non-domestic dioceses, particularly in Haiti and Latin America, where the church counted about 168,000 members in 470 parishes last year.

Still, the church is “swimming against some difficult cultural tides,” Matilda Kistler, who heads a state-of-the-church committee in the denomination’s House of Deputies, said in a statement.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Data

Andrew Klavan: Pride and Prejudice in the Episcopal Church

But if homosexuality is not a sure path to sin, there are other human qualities that are: self-righteousness, recklessness, pride most of all. I believe the diocese of Los Angeles is guilty of all of these.

The American Episcopal Church contains about two million of the 70 million congregants in the world-wide Anglican communion, of which Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is the spiritual head. Since many congregants belong to far more conservative churches in Africa and South America, the archbishop, undoubtedly a friend to gays, nonetheless joined with other leaders in a 2004 plea for the American church to stop promoting active homosexuals. His intent, clearly, was to avoid schism.

When news of Rev. Glasspool’s election reached him, he issued an immediate statement warning American Episcopalians that they had put “our bonds of mutual affection” at risk.

Los Angeles Bishop Jon Bruno’s response was graceless and silly. Archbishop Williams, he said, was “the titular head of our church, and I don’t think we should capitulate to a titular head.”

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles

Elizabeth Weil: Married (Happily) With Issues

I have a pretty good marriage. It could be better. There are things about my husband that drive me crazy. Last spring he cut apart a frozen pig’s head with his compound miter saw in our basement. He needed the head to fit into a pot so that he could make pork stock. I’m no saint of a spouse, either. I hate French kissing, compulsively disagree and fake sleep when Dan vomits in the middle of the night. Dan also once threatened to punch my brother at a family reunion at a lodge in Maine. But in general we do O.K.

The idea of trying to improve our union came to me one night in bed. I’ve never really believed that you just marry one day at the altar or before a justice of the peace. I believe that you become married ”” truly married ”” slowly, over time, through all the road-rage incidents and precolonoscopy enemas, all the small and large moments that you never expected to happen and certainly didn’t plan to endure. But then you do: you endure. And as I lay there, I started wondering why I wasn’t applying myself to the project of being a spouse. My marriage was good, utterly central to my existence, yet in no other important aspect of my life was I so laissez-faire. Like most of my peers, I applied myself to school, friendship, work, health and, ad nauseam, raising my children. But in this critical area, marriage, we had all turned away. I wanted to understand why. I wanted not to accept this. Dan, too, had worked tirelessly ”” some might say obsessively ”” at skill acquisition. Over the nine years of our marriage, he taught himself to be a master carpenter and a master chef. He was now reading Soviet-era weight-training manuals in order to transform his 41-year-old body into that of a Marine. Yet he shared the seemingly widespread aversion to the very idea of marriage improvement. Why such passivity? What did we all fear?

That night, the image that came to mind, which I shared with Dan, was that I had been viewing our marriage like the waves on the ocean, a fact of life, determined by the sandbars below, shaped by fate and the universe, not by me. And this, suddenly, seemed ridiculous. I am not a fatalistic person. In my 20s I even believed that people made their own luck. Part of the luck I believed I made arrived in the form of Dan himself, a charming, handsome surfer and writer I met three days after I moved to San Francisco. Eleven years later we had two kids, two jobs, a house, a tenant, a huge extended family ”” what Nikos Kazantzakis described in “Zorba the Greek” as “the full catastrophe.” We were going to be careless about how our union worked out?

So I decided to apply myself to my marriage, to work at improving ours now, while it felt strong….

Take the time to read it all

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Marriage & Family

A prayer for the feast Day of Karl Barth

Almighty God, source of justice beyond human knowledge: We offer thanks that thou didst inspire Karl Barth to resist tyranny and exalt thy saving grace, without which we cannot apprehend thy will. Teach us, like him, to live by faith, and even in chaotic and perilous times to perceive the light of thy eternal glory, Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, throughout all ages. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology