Daily Archives: February 20, 2010

NY Times–Many Successful Gay Marriages Share an Open Secret

When Rio and Ray married in 2008, the Bay Area women omitted two words from their wedding vows: fidelity and monogamy.

“I take it as a gift that someone will be that open and honest and sharing with me,” said Rio, using the word “open” to describe their marriage….

A study to be released next month is offering a rare glimpse inside gay relationships and reveals that monogamy is not a central feature for many. Some gay men and lesbians argue that, as a result, they have stronger, longer-lasting and more honest relationships. And while that may sound counterintuitive, some experts say boundary-challenging gay relationships represent an evolution in marriage ”” one that might point the way for the survival of the institution.

New research at San Francisco State University reveals just how common open relationships are among gay men and lesbians in the Bay Area. The Gay Couples Study has followed 556 male couples for three years ”” about 50 percent of those surveyed have sex outside their relationships, with the knowledge and approval of their partners.

That consent is key. “With straight people, it’s called affairs or cheating,” said Colleen Hoff, the study’s principal investigator, “but with gay people it does not have such negative connotations.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Marriage & Family, Sexuality

Crisis management: For Vatican, it's up to the Irish to heal scandal

For Vatican and Irish participants, the two-day meeting on the handling of priestly sex abuse cases was a major accomplishment, combining a frank admission of mismanagement with truly collaborative discussions on how to avoid such mistakes in the future.

But for much of the wider public, especially in Ireland, the meeting Feb. 15-16 fell short of expectations and was remarkable for what it didn’t do: no bishops were fired, no abuse victims were heard and Pope Benedict XVI made no plans to visit Ireland and build bridges to alienated Catholics.

“Papal whitewash” and “The pope has ‘washed hands’ of our abuse” were two not untypical headlines in Irish newspapers the next day.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Ireland, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

School used webcams to ”˜spy’ on students at home

The Lower Merion School District in suburban Philadelphia last year issued an Apple laptop to each of its 1,800 high-school students. Superintendent Christopher McGinley told parents the goal was “to provide students with 21st-century learning environments both at home and in school”.

What he did not tell them was that each laptop was equipped with security software that allowed the school district to activate the computer’s webcam and view the students at any time, opening a virtual window into their lives.

This unnerving feature was revealed last week when a student and his parents filed a class action lawsuit against the school district, alleging its actions amount to “spying” and violate federal laws and the Fourth Amendment.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Children, Education, Law & Legal Issues, Science & Technology

Michael Yon from Afghanistan–Adam Ray RIP

On Feb. 9th, in a field near a road, an Afghan soldier squatted to relieve himself. He picked the wrong spot. A bomb exploded, blowing off a leg, and he died. Captain John Weatherly, Commander of Charlie Company of the 4-23 Infantry at FOB Price in Helmand Province, mentioned that in passing as he described the series of events that led to the death of Specialist ”“ now Sergeant ”“ Adam Ray, a vigorous 23 year old, born in Tampa, Florida. The bomb the Afghan stumbled upon was near the IED that struck Adam.

Without the thousands of culverts underneath, the roads of Afghanistan would be flooded and washed away during the snow melts and rains. In safe countries, drivers pay as little attention to culverts as we would to telephone poles. As a practical matter they are invisible to us.

In the war zone that is Afghanistan, life and limb depend on noticing normally mundane things like culverts. They are a favorite hiding spot for the Taliban to plant bombs intended to kill Americans driving the roads. Hundreds, even thousands of pounds of explosives can be stuffed inside, launching our vehicles into the sky, flipping them over and over, sometimes killing all. And so, in some areas, soldiers on missions must stop dozens of times to check culverts for explosives. Since we do this every day in front of thousands of Afghans, they know our patterns. In addition to planting bombs in culverts, they plant mines and other bombs near culverts, to get men who stop to check.

Read it all.

Update: An obituary of Adam Ray is here and an excerpt is worth citing:

Sgt. Adam Ray is survived by his parents, Jim and Donna Ray ofFargo, N.D.; sisters, Betsy of Iowa City, Iowa and Amanda of Fargo; brothers, Zachary of Florissant, Mo. and Seth of Fargo; one very loved nephew, Christopher; grandparents John and Doris Ray of Louisville, Ky. and Bobby and Marilyn Sumner of Tampa; and many aunts, uncles and cousins. Adam had some very close brothers and sisters in the military, that should be mentioned for the family bond of the soldiers is as strong as blood.

Another update: I found a small picture there.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Death / Burial / Funerals, Defense, National Security, Military, Parish Ministry, War in Afghanistan

Myths Obscure Voodoo, Source of Comfort in Haiti

Consider a few facts. Voodoo is one of the official religions of Haiti, and its designation in 2003 merely granted official acknowledgment to a longstanding reality. The slave revolt that brought Haiti independence indeed relied on voodoo, the New World version of ancestral African faiths. To this day, by various scholarly estimates, 50 percent to 95 percent of Haitians practice at least elements of voodoo, often in conjunction with Catholicism.

Yet in searching the LexisNexis database of news coverage and doing a Google search this week, I found that Catholicism figured into three times as many accounts of the quake as did voodoo. A substantial share of the reports that did mention voodoo were recounting Mr. Robertson’s canard or adopting it in articles asking Haitian survivors if they felt their country was cursed.

At a putatively more informed level, articles, broadcasts and blogs depicted voodoo as the source of Haiti’s poverty and political instability ”” not because of divine punishment, mind you, but because voodoo supposedly is fatalistic and primitive by nature.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Caribbean, Haiti, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

U.K. Reporter Admits To Euthanasia; Spurs Probe


It’s not everyday that someone in the public eye admits on television to having killed someone. But that is exactly what happened earlier this week in Britain. The BBC aired a prerecorded show hosted by one of its veteran reporters in which he made startling admission.

NPR’s Rob Gifford reports from London.

ROB GIFFORD: Seventy-year-old Ray Gosling has been hosting programs on BBC television for decades. On Monday, in a documentary about death and dying, as he walked through a graveyard in his native city of Nottingham, he said it was time to share a secret that he had kept for a long time.

Mr. RAY GOSLING (Host, BBC Television): I killed someone once. He was a young chap. He had been my lover and he got AIDS. And in a hospital, one hot afternoon, doctors said there’s nothing we can do. And he was in terrible, terrible pain. I said to the doctor leave me just for a bit and he went away. And I picked up the pillow and smothered him until he was dead. Doctor came back and I said he’s gone. Nothing more was ever said.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Media, Parish Ministry

As U.S.-China Tensions Rise, Military Ties Suffer

China’s recent disputes with the United States ”” over climate change, Iran, cyberattacks, currency values, Taiwan and the Dalai Lama ”” involve just about every agency of the U.S. administration.

But just one, the Pentagon, has been singled out for punishment.

It’s a familiar pattern.

“When relations have been good between the U.S. and China, the military relationship has been the last to come along,” notes David Finkelstein, a China expert at the Center for Naval Analyses. “When relations have been bad, it’s been the first to be thrown overboard.”

In the latest example, the Chinese government announced it was suspending contacts between the U.S. and Chinese militaries to protest the Obama administration’s announcement last month of new arms sales to Taiwan, which China regards as a province.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, China, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Globalization

NPR–Officials: Cleric Had Role In Christmas Bomb Attempt

An American-born imam has emerged as a key figure in the story of the Christmas Day bombing suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. The Muslim cleric’s name is Anwar al-Awlaki.

He has admitted to knowing Abdulmutallab, but the relationship is much deeper, intelligence officials say. They suspect he may have directed Abdulmutallab to Yemen for training by al-Qaida operatives before the young Nigerian tried to bring down a Detroit-bound trans-Atlantic airliner on Dec. 25.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, England / UK, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence, Yemen

Pastors Go Part Time As Way To Help Financially Struggling Churches

One pulpit, shared by two part-time ministers who happen to be married.

The temporary arrangement has been the answer to a prayer for Christ Episcopal Church, whose members had been searching for a part-time priest to lead them spiritually without strapping them financially.

For the Revs. Randall Balmer and Catharine Randall, whose careers as college professors, writers and public speakers keep them plenty busy, the arrangement with this small but devoted congregation satisfies a spiritual need the couple have longed to fill.

“What is so great about it is immediately, they understood that we were a team … working together,” said Balmer, a prize-winning historian who has written a dozen books on faith and religion and is professor of American religious history at Barnard College in New York City and a visiting professor at Dartmouth College. “I love being a professor and a priest. For me, one informs the other.”

“It’s wonderful; I’m so happy,” said Catharine Randall, a professor of French at Fordham University in New York and the author of eight scholarly books and several articles and publications related to religion and spirituality.

Read it all from the front page of today’s Hartford Courant.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Parishes

AN ENS story on Executive Council carries the official TEC line on South Carolina

[Presiding Bishop Katharine] Jefferts Schori concluded her remarks by telling council members that “things are heating up in South Carolina.”

She noted that Diocese of South Carolina Bishop Mark Lawrence has delayed the diocese’s annual convention and attributed the delay “supposedly to my incursions in South Carolina.”

“He’s telling the world that he is offended that I think it’s important that people who want to stay Episcopalians there have some representation on behalf of the larger church,” she said, asking for the council’s prayers for the people of the diocese.

In a Feb. 9 letter to the diocese Lawrence said that the convention would be delayed from March 4-5 to March 26 in order for him, the diocesan standing committee and the diocese “to adequately consider a response” to what he called an “unjust intrusion into the spiritual and jurisdictional affairs of this sovereign diocese of the Episcopal Church.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Presiding Bishop, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Austen Ivereigh–Romeward Anglicans: a case of too much politics?

The Australian branch of Forward in Faith — the main association of Anglo-Catholic priests — has become the first group within the Anglican Church to vote to accept the Pope’s ordinariate offer (their 15 February statement is here). FiF Australia, which has 200 members and 16 parishes, will join the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) — which is not in communion with Canterbury, and has already voted to accept the ordinariate proposal — in a working party set up by the Australian Catholic bishops to negotiate terms.

This means that Australia will become, in effect, the test centre for the new ordinariates envisaged by Pope Benedict’s Anglicanorum coetibus.

It will be watched closely by the much larger and more significant FiF in the UK, which has postponed its vote on the ordinariates pending the outcome of the Church of England’s review of its episcopal oversight for priests and their parishes opposed to women bishops.

It was confirmed this week that no group has yet applied to the Catholic bishops of England and Wales for an ordinariate.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Inter-Faith Relations, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Retirees Trade Work for Rent at Cash-Poor Parks

The life of a work-camper, volunteering in places like Falcon State Park in deep South Texas in return for free rent, is not without its bumps. But as Ms. Smith also quickly discovered, the rewards can be deep as well ”” like making cinnamon rolls as part of her job at the camp recreation center, where she and Mr. Smith are working as hosts through the end of March.

“We’re here for three reasons,” she said, as she spread sugar on the dough. “No. 1, we like to travel. No. 2, we like people. And No. 3, we’re on a budget.”

An itinerant, footloose army of available and willing retirees in their 60s and 70s is marching through the American outback, looking to stretch retirement dollars by volunteering to work in parks, campgrounds and wildlife sanctuaries, usually in exchange for camping space.

Park and wildlife agencies say that retired volunteers have in turn become all the more crucial as budget cuts and new demands have made it harder to keep parks open.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--