Daily Archives: August 4, 2010

Christian Academics Cite Hostility On Campus

One of the hot debates in academia is now reaching the courts. The question: Do universities discriminate against religious conservatives? Some professors and students say they do, but it’s not an easy charge to pin down.

When Elaine Howard Ecklund began asking top scientists whether they believe in God, she got a surprise. Ecklund, an assistant professor at Rice University and author of the book Science Vs. Religion, polled 1,700 scientists at elite universities. Contrary to the stereotype that most scientists are atheists, she says, nearly half of them say they are religious. But when she did follow up interviews, she found they practice a “closeted faith.”

“They just do not want to bring up that they are religious in an academic discussion. There’s somewhat of almost a culture of suppression surrounding discussions of religion at these kinds of academic institutions,” Ecklund says.

She says the scientists worried that their colleagues would believe they were politically conservative ”” or worse, subscribed to the theory of intelligent design. Ecklund says they all insisted on anonymity.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Religion & Culture

In Recession, Drinking Moves from Bars to Home

When the going gets tough, the tough, um, go drinking. That’s the word from a new Gallup poll showing that 67% of Americans are hitting the bottle, the most since 1985. Another sign of challenging economic times: more and more of those rounds are happening in the kitchen, not at the corner pub.

A new report by Mintel International, a market-research firm, shows that a growing number of Americans are guzzling down wine and spirits at home as opposed to in bars and restaurants, and many are trading down to cheaper brands as they seek fiscally conscious ways to party in a sluggish economy.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Alcohol/Drinking, Economy, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Time Magazine: Will Kenya's Constitutional Vote Lead to Violence?

On Wednesday Kenyans will vote on a new constitution that proposes to take on the corruption, tribalism and impunity that have bedeviled this would-be powerhouse of East Africa since its independence in 1963. But these are anxious days for ordinary Kenyans, despite the peace songs blaring on radio stations, assurances of ample security from the government and even a peace caravan complete with camels. Most people are still shell-shocked after the last national vote, a flawed 2007 poll that led to violence which left 1,300 dead and hundreds of thousands homeless.

Jamia Abdulrahim remembers all too well the weeks when frustrated supporters of opposition candidate Raila Odinga, now the Prime Minister, wrought havoc in the slum of Kibera where she lives. Amid the fires and looting, the children of one of her neighbors were burnt to death. Members of Abdulrahim’s family have not returned to Kibera to this day. Now, as members of parliament and politicians horse-traded and calculated their next moves, the people in Kibera worry. “For a long time, so many of the MP’s were silent,” Abdulrahim says. “When we saw that most of the MPs were voting for ‘yes’ [on the constitution] that was when I slept. Our leaders are our shadows. They reflect whatever we are thinking, whatever we are doing. If they are divided Kenya goes nowhere.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Kenya, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Stepehen Chapman: Will Congress lift the ban on Internet gambling?

The other day, a citizen went before a House committee and urged its members to stop their burdensome interference with her business. “At its most basic level,” said Annie Duke, “the issue before this committee is personal freedom, the right of individual Americans to do what they want in the privacy of their homes without the intrusion of government.”

I know what you’re expecting: At that point, the politicians all had a good laugh and told her to get lost so they could get back to meddling in people’s lives.

But no. Not only did they hear out the winner of the National Heads-Up Poker Championship, they did exactly what she suggested. The committee voted to lift the federal ban on Internet poker and other online gambling, while approving a measure to tax and regulate it.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet, Gambling, House of Representatives, Politics in General, Senate

CNS–Conversion: Ancient prison went from pagan to sacred Christian site

Tradition holds that St. Peter was jailed in Rome’s maximum security Mamertine Prison before he was crucified upside down and buried on the hill where St. Peter’s Basilica was later built.

And now after recent excavations in Rome’s oldest prison, archaeologists say they have uncovered evidence that, while not providing direct proof, does support that belief.

The prison, which lies beneath the Church of St. Joseph of the Carpenters facing the Roman Forum, was closed for the past year as experts dug up old floors and picked away plaster.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Church History, Europe, Italy, Prison/Prison Ministry, Religion & Culture

Writer Anne Rice: 'Today I Quit Being A Christian'

In July, Rice decided she had had enough. She announced her decision on her Facebook page:

“For those who care, and I understand if you don’t: Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being ‘Christian’ or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.”

But, the decision wasn’t an easy one.

“It was very painful,” Rice tells NPR’s Michele Norris. “But I’ve always been public about my beliefs, and I’ve always been public about wanting to make a difference.”

“And frankly,” she continues, “after doing it, I felt sane for the first time in a very long while.”

Read or better listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, Books, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

99 Weeks Later, Jobless Have Only Desperation

Facing eviction from her Tennessee apartment after several months of unpaid rent, Alexandra Jarrin packed up whatever she could fit into her two-door coupe recently and drove out of town.

Ms. Jarrin, 49, wound up at a motel here, putting down $260 she had managed to scrape together from friends and from selling her living room set, enough for a weeklong stay. It was essentially all the money she had left after her unemployment benefits expired in March. Now she is facing a previously unimaginable situation for a woman who, not that long ago, had a corporate job near New York City and was enrolled in a graduate business school, whose sticker is still emblazoned on her back windshield.

“Barring a miracle, I’m going to be in my car,” she said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, House of Representatives, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

David Brooks: The Summoned Self

This is a column about two ways of thinking about your life. The first is what you might call the Well-Planned Life. It was nicely described by Clayton Christensen in the current issue of the Harvard Business Review, in an essay based on a recent commencement talk.

Christensen advised the students to invest a lot of time when they are young in finding a clear purpose for their lives. “When I was a Rhodes scholar,” he recalls, “I was in a very demanding academic program, trying to cram an extra year’s worth of work into my time at Oxford. I decided to spend an hour every night reading, thinking, and praying about why God put me on this earth.

“That was a very challenging commitment to keep, because every hour I spent doing that, I wasn’t studying applied econometrics. I was conflicted about whether I could really afford to take that time away from my studies, but I stuck with it ”” and ultimately figured out the purpose of my life.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Education, Eschatology, Philosophy, Psychology, Theology

AP: Military dog comes home from Iraq traumatized

Gina was a playful 2-year-old German shepherd when she went to Iraq as a highly trained bomb-sniffing dog with the military, conducting door-to-door searches and witnessing all sorts of noisy explosions.

She returned home to Colorado cowering and fearful. When her handlers tried to take her into a building, she would stiffen her legs and resist. Once inside, she would tuck her tail beneath her body and slink along the floor. She would hide under furniture or in a corner to avoid people.

A military veterinarian diagnosed with her post-traumatic stress disorder ”” a condition that some experts say can afflict dogs just like it does humans.

“She showed all the symptoms and she had all the signs,” said Master Sgt. Eric Haynes, the kennel master at Peterson Air Force Base. “She was terrified of everybody and it was obviously a condition that led her down that road.”

Read it all and check out the video as well.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * General Interest, Animals, Defense, National Security, Military, Iraq War

US Treasury yields fall to record low on Fed's 'QE lite' plan

Tim Congdon from International Monetary Research said the Fed has been wasting its powder by using the wrong mechanism to inject monetary stimulus. Instead of buying bonds from pension funds, insurance companies and other bodies outside the banking system, as the Bank of England did with its £200bn gilts purchase, it has been buying from banks. This method has different effects. It has gained less traction because banks have sat on “dead cash”. This has not increased the deposits held by companies and households.

“A really powerful way for the Fed to boost the economy is to buy bonds directly from the public, which will increase the quantity of broad money. They won’t do that because they have a totally different model and in my view they are confused about the transmission mechanism. If they bought say $1.5 trillion of long-dated Treasuries from non-banks I believe they would get the US out of its liquidity trap very quickly,” Mr Congdon said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Economy, Federal Reserve, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

From the Morning Scripture Readings

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, for he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him; but for this I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.”

–John 1:29-31

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to begin the Day

Into thy hands, O Lord, we commend ourselves and all who are dear to us this day. Be with us in our going out and in our coming in. Strengthen us for the work which thou hast given us to do. And grant that, filled with thy Holy Spirit, we may walk worthy of our high calling, and cheerfully accomplish those things that thou wouldest have done; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–F.T. Woods

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

How Much Pain is Necessary in the midst of True Grief?

Earlier this year, the American Psychiatric Association released a rough draft of its new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM. It’s a big book that lists all the mental disorders doctors can use to diagnose mental illness. One of the changes they’re proposing is causing controversy.

Traditionally, the manual has warned doctors away from diagnosing major depression in people who have just lost a loved one in what’s called “bereavement exclusion.” The idea was that feelings of intense pain were normal, so they shouldn’t be labeled as a mental disorder.

But the new DSM changes this….

Dr. Kenneth Kendler, who is on the committee that decided to make this change, says it’s not that the committee feels everyone who has a loss should immediately be diagnosed with depression. For Kendler, there is a clear, bright line between normal grief and clinical depression. Grief is OK ”” depression is not. Depression, by definition, is dangerous and should be treated. Grief is normal and should not.

I caught this by podcast this morning on my run–it is a very thought provoking piece. Do take the time to listen to it all if you can (just under 9 minutes). If not, read the whole thing.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

Anglican Priest Convicted of Sham Marriages

An Anglican vicar has been convicted of conducting hundreds of bogus marriages in a scam aimed at helping African immigrants gain illegal entry into Britain.

A jury at Lewes Crown Court, in southern England, on Thursday (July 29) found the Rev. Alex Brown had violated immigration laws by “marrying” 383 couples over a four-year period at the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul in the village of St. Leonards-on-Sea.

In testimony during the seven-week trial, the prosecution said Brown, who denied conspiracy to facilitate illegal immigration, “knew full well that the vast majority of the marriages were shams.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Theology

The Washington Examiner Interviews Ian Markham of Virginia Theological Seminary

Do you consider yourself to be of a specific faith?

I am a Christian — I love the Lord Jesus. Christ is the prism through which I interpret everything. I don’t interpret the world in terms of complicated bundles of atoms that are ultimately purposeless, but I see everything as an example of the agency and the love of God, and everything held in God’s eternal loving gaze.

How can you trust that your Christian beliefs are correct?

The way of the world is that all knowledge is provisional — it is human constructs in conversation with experience. Therefore, all of us should hold what we believe about the world with some humility.

Now, why I believe what I believe is because it makes more sense of the complexities of human life than the alternatives. My experience of morality, of beauty, of love — all these things point to the divine, which makes theism more likely than atheism. And then if you ask how can I believe in a God that allows so much suffering? Part of the answer is that I can only believe in God provided I know God knows what it’s like to suffer — and that is the Christian claim, that God knows human suffering. So, for me, it has the ring of truth, more so than the alternatives.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Seminary / Theological Education, Theology