Daily Archives: June 11, 2011

(ABC Nightline) Facebook In Your Face: New Facial Recognition Feature Raises a Few Eyebrows

Oh, Facebook, here we go again.

The social media giant is facing a new wave of concerns over privacy protection after launching its latest feature, which allows users to identify their friends automatically in photos without their permission.

The photo tagging tool, called Tag Suggestions, was put into place in December, but it was listed as unavailable until recently.

Read it all (or watch the video version if you so prefer).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Law & Legal Issues, Science & Technology, The U.S. Government

Can Science and Faith Co-Exist? The 31st Annual Christian Scholars' Conference Ӭat Pepperdine

Promoting harmony between the scientific and Christian communities is a focal point of the 31st Annual Christian Scholars’ Conference at Pepperdine University taking place June 16 to 18 on the Malibu, California campus. Current issues in the debate over the coexistence of science and faith such as stem cell research, conservation science, and finding the common thread between science and theology are among the many topics to be explored at the conference….

This year’s Keynoters are:

Francis S. Collins: “Reflections on the Current Tensions between Science and Faith”

John Polkinghorne: “The Quest for Truth in Science and Theology”

Simran Sethi: “Our Daily Bread: Food, Faith and Conservation”

Ted Peters: “Stem Cells: Who’s Fighting With Whom About What?”

You can check out the website here.

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

(BBC Magazine) Denise Winterman–Why do people get married after having children?

According to the latest British Social Attitudes (BSA) Survey, which was conducted in 2008, almost two-thirds of people now see little difference between marriage and living together. Fewer than a fifth of people took issue with it.

Just under half thought cohabitation showed just as much commitment as getting married. When it comes to children, where opinion can often be a bit more traditional, only 28% said they believe married couples make better parents.

So why do it? Psychologist Donna Dawson, who has specialised in sex and relationships, says it is often about making a public statement.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Children, England / UK, Marriage & Family

(TNR) Ruth Franklin on Pamela Haag’s new book on Marriage in the “post-romantic age”

…Haag notes that marriage has undergone a dramatic transformation from the “traditional” partnerships of the nineteenth century, when marriage was “a social institution and an obligation,” to the “romantic” marriages of the twentieth century, when the practice of choosing a partner for reasons of love rather than practicality first became widespread. Now, she argues, we are moving into a “post-romantic age.” People have become far more likely to marry in mid-life, when they already have established careers and friendships; and they are having children much later than their counterparts did 50 years ago. But they continue to organize their marriages around the same assumptions””assumptions that, possibly, no longer work. “The facts, circumstances, and shell of marriage have changed so breathtakingly in the post-liberation era, yet the soul of marriage””its dreams, conscience, ethics, and rules””hasn’t necessarily evolved to keep up,” Haag writes. “Instead we follow viscerally many of the same premises and orthodoxies as our parents, as if marriage is a Procrustean structure to which we must confine ourselves, rather than the other way around.”

The result, Haag argues, is a widespread dissatisfaction with romantic marriage, evident in an epidemic of “low-conflict, low-stress unhappy marriage.” The couples in these marriages are basically cooperative and compatible””they don’t beat each other, abuse drugs or alcohol, or gamble away all their savings””but they are nonetheless plagued by the feeling that their relationship isn’t everything it should be. They haven’t caught up with the times: They’re trying to live out a romantic paradigm in a post-romantic age. Such marriages look stable on the outside, but they’re astonishingly fragile: Haag quotes a study that finds that they account for up to 60 percent of divorces. Unsurprisingly, she includes her own marriage in this group….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, History, Marriage & Family, Psychology

(Australian Ageing Agenda) Paul Russell–No place for euthanasia

If we include euthanasia as an ”˜option’ in critical care we’re making the patient the problem and not the condition. Once we begin to cross that line, does anyone really believe that the ”˜cheaper, quicker option’ won’t begin to take precedence over good palliative care?

We should also consider the problem of elder abuse. As far back as 1994 a study in NSW found that something like 5% of people over the age of 65 were subjected to some form of elder abuse. Elder abuse has been called the epidemic of the century and is known to cost more than $2.6 billion in the US alone each year as the elderly are swindled out of their savings. Elder abuse can also be physical, emotional and even sexual and it’s not hard to imagine that, if euthanasia were an option, that vulnerable aged people might be swindled out of existence as well.

Readers will remember the famous case of Dr. Harold Shipman who, by his own admission, killed 600 elderly, vulnerable people in the UK by his own hand.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

Why a quiet millionaire's suicide will be shown on BBC TV

On Monday the BBC, which has been accused of becoming a ”˜”˜cheerleader’’ for assisted suicide, defended its decision to show Mr [Peter] Smedley’s death in the film.

Sir Terry hopes it will persuade the Government to think again about the law and advocates a system in which doctors are able to prescribe take-home suicide kits to enable terminally-ill patients to choose the right moment to end their lives.

Mrs Smedley said… last night that she did not want to discuss her husband’s death.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Movies & Television, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Switzerland, Theology

BBC TV to Air Documentary this week Showing an Assisted Suicide

Living can be brutal. The other Dignitas customer in the programme ”” not filmed dying, but discussed up to the final handshake ”” is a 42-year-old man who tried suicide twice, failed, and took the journey to certainty. Again, earlier than he truly needed to. The window of opportunity, he saw clearly, would close as he travelled down “the narrowing alleyway” of disability….

The actual nature of the Dignitas experience….is grim. Even discounting the disgraceful fact that 21 per cent of its customers don’t have a terminal disease but depression, and that the Swiss authorities seem unwilling to intervene, there is something horrible ”” a condemned-cell atmosphere ”” about the process: the files, the signatures, the insistence that you practise drinking the stuff in one long draught “and do not sip”, the dreary environs, the anti-nausea drug taken beforehand so that Mr [Peter] Smedley observes how odd it is to be told “ten minutes more”.

Read it all (requires London Times subscription) and you may find a lot more articles on this there.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Movies & Television, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Switzerland, Theology

(London Times) Parisian cemeteries go high-tech as city bids to shake off tired image

Parisian cemeteries are to enter an era of multimedia interactivity under plans to return the capital to what it sees as its rightful place at the cutting edge of change.

The high-tech cemeteries are among 40 plans unveiled this week as Paris Council seeks to transform a city widely seen to have fallen behind London, Barcelona and Berlin. Visitors to the graveyards will be greeted by touchscreens helping them to find the tombs of notable residents or relatives.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, Europe, France, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

A Profile of Diocese of Los Angeles Episcopal Priest Lynn Jay

…after almost 27 years of service to the church, and the Santa Clarita Valley, [the Rev. Canon Lynn] Jay will hold her last sermon July 31.

Her work with countless local charities ”” some she’s played pivotal roles in, such as the SCV Emergency Winter Shelter and the SCV Food Pantry ”” will likely leave a lasting mark in the community long after she steps down.

But perhaps just as memorable for parishioners is her quick wit and unique passion. Jay said she’ll stop a sermon mid-hymn to playfully chide a more impassioned verse from the choir. Sometimes, it’s something to the effect of, “Hey, if we can get two more good verses, I won’t make you guys sing the third,” she said.

Read it all.

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

(Modesto Bee) Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin Priests giving blessings for same-sex couples

Beginning Sunday, Episcopal priests in the San Joaquin Diocese can “perform blessings of same gender civil marriages, domestic partnerships and relationships which are lifelong committed relationships characterized by fidelity, monogamy” and “holy love.”

The change doesn’t mean Episcopal priests will begin marrying same-sex couples, Bishop Chester Talton said. Such marriages are forbidden by state law, although that is under review by the courts.

Instead, Talton said, “what is being authorized is a blessing of relationships, which we’ve chosen to call sacred unions.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Episcopal Church (TEC), Liturgy, Music, Worship, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Sexuality, TEC Bishops

Gregory of Nazianzus "on the continuing indaba and mutual listening"

From here:

Now, if they who hold such views have authority to meet, your wisdom approved in Christ must see that, inasmuch as we do not approve their views, any permission of assembly granted to them is nothing less than a declaration that their view is thought more true than ours. For if they are permitted to teach their view as godly men, and with all confidence to preach their doctrine, it is manifest that the doctrine of the Church has been condemned, as though the truth were on their side. For nature does not admit of two contrary doctrines on the same subject being both true. How[,] then, could your noble and lofty mind submit to suspend your usual courage in regard to the correction of so great an evil? But even though there is no precedent for such a course, let your inimitable perfection in virtue stand up at a crisis like the present, and teach our most pious emperor that no gain will come from his zeal for the Church on other points if he allows such an evil to gain strength from freedom of speech for the subversion of sound faith.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(WSJ) David Gibson–Defining Mortality After Dr. Death

…as with so many aspects of contemporary life, modern medicine overtook religious tradition. In 1981, a presidential commission set “brain death”””the end of all brain activity, including involuntary acts such as responding to pain””as the determination of life’s end. That definition became the standard in all 50 states and in many other countries, and religious communities generally lined up behind it.

But some Christian and Jewish leaders have recently been raising doubts about brain death. A 2008 front-page article in the Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano called for revisiting the brain death definition. It echoed the sentiments of many pro-lifers who felt that the dying were losing out to a desire to cut medical costs or the urgent need for donated organs.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Science & Technology, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Barnabas

Grant, O God, that we may follow the example of thy faithful servant Barnabas, who, seeking not his own renown but the well-being of thy Church, gave generously of his life and substance for the relief of the poor and the spread of the Gospel; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for Pentecost Eve

Almighty God our Father, who after thy Son had ascended on high soon thereafter sent forth thy Spirit in and on the Church, grant that we who have been born again by water and that same Holy Spirit, may be prepared as tomorrow we celebrate and remember how He descends and births thy body of which we are a part, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Ascension, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Pentecost, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

–Hebrews 9:11-14

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture