Daily Archives: March 2, 2011

Wednesday Mental Health Break: Bookcase Self-Organizing?

Make sure to watch for the dancing creature and the banana!.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Books, Music

(Her.meneutics blog) Karen Swallow Prior–The Gospel of Grace for Women Who Self-Injure

According to a 2006 Today’s Christian Woman article,1.5 percent of Americans engage in self-harming behavior. This jumps dramatically to 12 percent among college students (most self-injury begins in the teen years). Most self-harmers are female (60-70 percent), and many, although not all, struggle with eating disorders, too. I’ve not seen research on the incidence of self-harm among Christians compared with the general population, but my experience shows that this problem is far from rare within the church….

I’m not surprised that self-punishing behaviors occur among Christians. And this is not to blame the church. For legalism ”” and I would argue that this is what these behaviors are at their core ”” comes in guises both religious and secular. The desire to control the destiny of a few moments, if not our lives, is a fact of the human condition. But it is a fact that directly opposes the gospel of grace. Indeed, our vain attempts to mete out our own justice and punishments and thus save ourselves merely reflect the universal human desire to be our own God. For those who self-harm, the gospel comes as an invitation to trust in the One who has enacted perfect and complete justice before God on our behalf, through his body, so we don’t have to punish our own.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Violence, Women

(Time Magazine) 10 Questions for David Ferrucci, lead IBM researcher for the Watson Computer

If I tell Watson a joke, will it get it? Could it tell me one?
One of the things we programmed it to do was recognize what humans would consider puns. It looks for word associations, for synonymy, for “sounds like.” But does the computer appreciate the humor? No, it doesn’t.

So no chance Watson could be an artist or poet either?
Actually, it could be programmed to have those features. You could train Watson to recognize modern art or classical art, symmetry, shape and color. You could tell it, This is good art, this is bad art. But again, that’s all.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Science & Technology

(Financial Times) Northern Rock to offer 90% mortgages

Northern Rock is poised to launch a range of mortgages offering up to 90 per cent of a property’s value, marking the nationalised bank’s return to riskier lending three years after its collapse and government bail-out….

Northern Rock’s aggressive boom-time lending practices, including the Together mortgage that offered borrowers up to 125 per cent of their property value, caused one of the most high-profile failures of the financial crisis.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, England / UK, Housing/Real Estate Market, Personal Finance, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

The Full Text of the Court in the English Prospective Foster Parents Care Decision

This is an absolutely-must-read-it-all document.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Children, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Sexuality

(CNS) Australian bishop: Have no illusions about classical Anglo-Catholics

Traditionalist Anglicans who remain in the Anglican Church rather than taking up Pope Benedict XVI’s offer of an Anglican ordinariate are wasting their time and spiritual energy clinging to a dangerous illusion, said the Vatican’s delegate for the Australian ordinariate.

Melbourne Auxiliary Bishop Peter Elliott, a former Anglican, urged Anglicans at a Feb. 26 festival in Perth to take up the pope’s offer of “peace.”

“I would caution people who still claim to be Anglo-Catholics and yet are holding back,” he told The Record, Catholic newspaper of the Archdiocese of Perth, Feb. 26. “I’d say ‘When are you going to face realities?’ because there’s no place for a classical Anglo-Catholic in the Anglican Communion anymore.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Australia / NZ, Ecumenical Relations, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(Star-Tribune) The Presbyterian Church deadlocks over a minister who legally married another man

[The Rev. Erwin Barron, a college professor in San Francisco whose church credentials remain with the Presbytery of the Twin Cities [Minnesota] Area, faced a 2 1/2-hour trial before a presbytery panel of six at Oak Grove Presbyterian Church in Bloomington. After almost three hours of closed deliberations, the panel split 3-3. A two-thirds vote was required for conviction, which lawyers said could have led to defrockment.

“I’m relieved,” Barron said. “I wish it was more definitive. … The decision is not clear for the church.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology

(WSJ) High Oil Prices Complicate Housing Recovery

Bigger fuel bills are making this winter harsher for many households. The Energy Information Administration estimates the average household in the Northeast will spend $2,431 on heating oil this winter, up 23.8% from last winter’s total. Businesses from airlines to chemical makers are also facing higher costs.

Most economists think the rise in fuel costs will deter output growth rather than boost inflation. That is because higher energy costs leave less money available to spend on other goods. Given the slack in labor markets and capacity, higher fuel costs won’t translate much into higher wages or prices that would push up core inflation.

The oil-related drag on output, however, means fewer jobs. And faster job growth was a key support for housing in 2011….

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Libya, Middle East, Personal Finance

(NY Times) Well-Oiled Security Apparatus in China Stifles Calls for Change

The nearly instantaneous deployment of the police to prevent even notional gatherings in big cities the past two weeks is just one example of what Chinese officials call “stability maintenance.” This refers to a raft of policies and practices refined after “color revolutions” abroad and, at home, tens of thousands of demonstrations by workers and peasants, ethnic unrest, and the spread of mobile communications and broadband networking.

Chinese officials charged with ensuring security, lavishly financed and permitted to operate above the law, have remained perpetually on edge, employing state-of-the-art surveillance, technologically sophisticated censorship, new crime-fighting tools, as well as proactive efforts to resolve labor and land disputes, all to prevent any organized or sustained resistance to single-party rule.

“It is a comprehensive call to arms for the entire bureaucracy to promote social stability,” said Murray Scot Tanner, a China security analyst at C.N.A., a private research group in Alexandria, Va.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Defense, National Security, Military, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General

(Vancouver Sun blog) Vancouver Anglicans seek $100,000-plus in court costs

The Vancouver-area Anglican diocese is trying to recoup more than $100,000 in court costs from a bitter dispute with conservative dissidents over four church properties.

The diocese, led by Bishop Michael Ingham, recently applied to the B.C. Appeal Court to retrieve a portion of the soaring court costs in a case rooted in a battle over same-sex blessings and how to interpret the Bible.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Law & Legal Issues

(SMH) Mourners cry as one in healing ritual for a broken city in Christchurch, New Zealand

The Maori call it upoko runaka, the farewell for the dead. In Christchurch yesterday, they said, it was also much more: a ritual to heal a broken city, and to reconnect its people with the earth that has so hurt them.

It began with local tribal chief Maurice Gray, in a black suit and holding a tokotoko, a staff carved with his family’s history that is symbolic of his authority as an elder.

He strode into an intersection lined with dignitaries and emergency workers and brandished the tokotoko at a small pile of broken masonry collected from shattered buildings in the heart of the city.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Provinces, Australia / NZ, Inter-Faith Relations, Liturgy, Music, Worship

'Anxious society' a challenge for the Church, Anglican Leaders Told

An annual conference of Anglican bishops in Newcastle has been told the church is even more relevant during times of natural disasters.

The past few months has been described as an ‘onslaught of disaster’ with the Queensland floods, West Australian fires and New Zealand’s double tragedies of the Pike River mine disaster and Christchurch earthquake.

Newcastle Bishop, Brian Farran says in Brisbane, unaffected parishes were critical in providing support to those in the flood zone.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Australia / NZ, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Stress

(ABC Rel. and Ethics) Alister McGrath–Faith and the Prison of Mere Rationality

The problem here is that this defence of the authority of human reason is ultimately circular and parasitical. It assumes and depends upon its conclusion. This philosophical defence of the validity of reason by reason is thus intrinsically self-referential. It cannot be sustained.

The rational defence of reason itself may amount to a demonstration of its internal consistency and coherence – but not of its truth. There is no reason why a flawed rationality will show up its own flaws. We are using a tool to judge its own reliability. We have convened a court, in which the accused and the judge are one and the same.

Reason needs to be calibrated by something external….

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

(Foreign Affairs) Q&A With Steven A. Cook on Egypt's Post-Mubarak Future

Steven A. Cook:… Egyptians and foreign observers have taken to calling recent events in Egypt a “revolution,” but technically speaking it isn’t — at least not yet. Mubarak is gone, but his military remains in charge of the country, the proposed constitutional changes are limited, and much of the security apparatus and even the once-ruling National Democratic Party remain strong (at least outside of Cairo and Alexandria).

Now, the constitutional committee has sought to go beyond the five constitutional amendments and the deletion of one article to which the military is (and Mubarak was) committed. The committee has now put eight amendments on the table, including an explicit reference to writing a new constitution.

It’s important to remember that transitions to democracy are fraught and that revolutions rarely end the way that the people on the barricades hoped they would.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Egypt, Foreign Relations, History, Middle East, Politics in General

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Chad

Almighty God, whose servant Chad, for the peace of the Church, relinquished cheerfully the honors that had been thrust upon him, only to be rewarded with equal responsibility: Keep us, we pray thee, from thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to think, and ready at all times to give place to others, (in honor preferring one another,) that the cause of Christ may be advanced; in the name of him who washed his disciples’ feet, even the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

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