Daily Archives: February 17, 2012

New Attacks Threaten Nigeria's Future

Nigeria, a strategically important oil producer and Africa’s most populous country, is unraveling in violence from a growing insurgency known as Boko Haram that is bent on revenge for the killing of its leader by police. The group is demanding job-creation programs and the imposition of Islamic law in the country’s impoverished north, where it emerged with ferocity nine years ago.

Late Wednesday, about 20 gunmen presumed by officials to belong to the rebel group stormed a prison south of Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, and freed at least 119 inmates, a government spokesman said.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Nigeria, Politics in General, Terrorism, Violence

(WSJ Houses of Worship) Tamar Snyder: When Religion Restricts Forbids Lending

“As business capital is assumed to be both outside the intent of the prohibition and an indispensable element of the modern economy, it was considered appropriate to find a method to allow it,” says Rabbi Daniel Feldman of Yeshiva University. While some authorities historically opposed the heter iska, which is only to be used for business purposes, it is widely accepted as meeting both the letter and the spirit of the law, says Rabbi Feldman.

In our difficult economic times, interest-free loans may be more important than ever. In Dallas, the local Hebrew Free Loan Association offers a variety of them, including for life-cycle events, adoptions, home health care and education. And Hebrew free-loan societies boast inordinately low default rates of less than 1%. “There is a sense of religious obligation on both sides,” says Mr. Sarna.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Judaism, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Digital Trends) FBI could take down Internet for millions on March 8

The Federal Bureau of Investigation may soon be forced to shut down a number of key Domain Name System (DNS) servers, which would cut Internet access for millions of Web users around the world, reports BetaBeat. The DNS servers were installed by the FBI last year, in an effort to stop the spread of a piece of malware known as DNSCharger Trojan. But the court order that allowed the set up of the replacement servers expires on March 8.

In November of last year, authorities arrested six men in Estonia for the creation and spread of DNSCharger, which reconfigures infected computers’ Internet settings, and re-routes users to websites that contain malware, or other illegal sites. DNSCharger also blocks access to websites that might offer solutions for how to rid the computer of its worm, and often comes bundled with other types of malicious software.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Science & Technology, The U.S. Government

Jeremy Lin’s Crossover Crashes Blog

The blog Hoops Analyst has crashed in the last 24 hours. Normally this wouldn’t be problematic for anyone beyond Harlan Schreiber, the site’s founder. But these are not normal times in the NBA, and Hoops Analyst had something like the Zapruder film of the basketball world: In 2010, an amateur geek named Ed Weiland published on Hoops Analyst his vision of Lin lighting up NBA arenas.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Sports

(Vatican Radio) Islam in North Africa

The West looks with great concern towards North Africa, with the changes in the countries marked by the so-called “Arab Spring”. This has led to the downfall of totalitarian regimes which once seemed untouchable! All this is about very complex movements, not only in the societies where it happens, but also involves struggles regarding international interests. Will the populations be able to “control the situation” and direct the changes to their common good? The situation is very complex. These very young democracies have entrusted the power to parties of Islamic matrix, and have come out with new realities causing alarm, especially among the youth, and in the Christians locally. One only needs to look at the results of the last elections in Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco (a country not rocked by the Arab Spring but advancing seriously on the paths of reform through the will of King Mohammed VI).

These scenarios lead us to look at Islam and its spread in North Africa, taking into account the fact that the Christian presence goes back to six centuries before the birth of Islam, and that the Christian communities (Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant) are part and parcel of the local social fabric, a significant part of the cultural richness of the Countries and of the Region, and cannot be considered as a “foreign” body, or a “presence” affiliated to “something” western, as often seen by fundamentalist Islamic movements, motivated by ignorance or political interests!

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Church History, History, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

(NY Times) For Punishment of Elder’s Misdeeds, Afghan Girl Pays the Price

Shakila, 8 at the time, was drifting off to sleep when a group of men carrying AK-47s barged in through the door. She recalls that they complained, as they dragged her off into the darkness, about how their family had been dishonored and about how they had not been paid.

It turns out that Shakila, who was abducted along with her cousin as part of a traditional Afghan form of justice known as “baad,” was the payment.

Although baad (also known as baadi) is illegal under Afghan and, most religious scholars say, Islamic law, the taking of girls as payment for misdeeds committed by their elders still appears to be flourishing. Shakila, because one of her uncles had run away with the wife of a district strongman, was taken and held for about a year. It was the district leader, furious at the dishonor that had been done to him, who sent his men to abduct her.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, Asia, Children, Foreign Relations, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Psychology, Violence, Women

(Church Times) Bishops rally to defend prayer in public

Only a “tiny minority” of coun­cillors object to the saying of prayers at local council meetings, the Bishop of Exeter, the Rt Revd Michael Langrish, said on Tuesday.

Bishop Langrish was speaking after the High Court ruled last Friday that prayers should not be on the agenda for council meetings. The National Secular Society (NSS) and the former Bideford town councillor Clive Bone brought judicial-review proceedings against Bideford Town Council, in Devon, after councillors there twice rejected Mr Bone’s request for prayers to be abolished.

Bishop Langrish said: “My per­sonal experience is that it is a tiny minority who object to it [prayers at a council meeting]; at most of the councils I know in Devon it isn’t an issue. . . Leading public prayers in the chamber is an opportunity to articulate very particular issues that the council is dealing with.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

(RNS) Why Do Mormons Baptize the Dead?

Mormons believe that vicarious baptisms give the deceased, who exist in the afterlife as conscious spirits, a final chance to join the Mormon fold, and thus gain access to the Celestial Kingdom. To Mormons, only members of the LDS priesthood possess the power to baptize.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a Baptist or a Buddhist,” said Kathleen Flake, a Vanderbilt University scholar who has studied the church, “it’s about who has the authority to perform the sacrament.”

Flake said Mormons are encouraged to baptize at least four generations of forebears to seal the family for eternity. So the LDS church has built the world’s most extensive genealogical library in Salt Lake City with 700 employees and more than 2 billion names.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Mormons, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

(AP) Nevada approves regulations for self-driving cars

Nevada is envisioning a day when taxicabs might shuttle fares without a driver, or people with medical conditions that make them ineligible for a license could get around with a virtual chauffeur.

The concept took a big step when Nevada became the first state to approve regulations that spell out requirements for companies to test driverless cars on state roads.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Politics in General, Science & Technology, State Government, Travel

(New Statesman) Nelson Jones–Defending the Faith and the recent Speech by the Queen

Now this all sounds very benign and well-meaning and, indeed, inclusive. But it’s hard not to see it as a subtle attempt to preserve a status for a church that no longer commands the active allegiance of the majority of the population (whichever box people tick on Census forms). No longer a monopoly supplier of faith to the British people, the established church can still be primus inter pares of the wider community of religions and the Archbishop of Canterbury CEO of Faith Inc. Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and others can shelter in the capacious folds of his archiescopal cope, confident that he will defend their interests against the common enemy, the “militant” secularists.

In such a context, it becomes politic for the monarch — whose own role is supposed to embody unity rather than division — to assert that the established church has been responsible for Britain’s tradition of religious tolerance and pluralism. Historically, however, this is at best misleading, at worst a deliberate distortion.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Communiqué of the Anglican-Methodist International Commission for Unity in Mission

The Commission continues to take careful note of bilateral conversations between Anglicans and Methodists in a variety of places around the world. In listening to these reports the Commission was able to further its understanding of the various and diverse challenges posed by ecumenical dialogue.

Considerable benefit was gained from meeting with some of those in the dialogue taking place in the United States of America between The Episcopal Church and The United Methodist Church. This gave the Commission an opportunity to learn more about the way that that dialogue is seeking Full Communion between the two churches….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Reports & Communiques, Ecumenical Relations, Methodist, Other Churches

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Janani Luwum

O God, whose Son the Good Shepherd laid down his life for the sheep: We give thee thanks for thy faithful shepherd, Janani Luwum, who after his Savior’s example gave up his life for the people of Uganda. Grant us to be so inspired by his witness that we make no peace with oppression, but live as those who are sealed with the cross of Christ, who died and rose again, and now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of Uganda, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Christ our God, who wilt come to judge the world in the manhood which thou hast assumed: We pray thee to sanctify us wholly, that in the day of thy coming we may be raised to live and reign with thee for ever.

–Church of South India

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Epiphany, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

The same night…[Jacob] arose and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. And Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and Jacob’s thigh was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Tell me, I pray, your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peni’el, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.” The sun rose upon him as he passed Penu’el, limping because of his thigh. Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the sinew of the hip which is upon the hollow of the thigh, because he touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh on the sinew of the hip.

–Genesis 32:22-32

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

12 Attorneys General Intend to Sue Over HHS Mandate

Attorneys general from a dozen states say they intend to sue over the Obama administration’s contraception mandate that requires many religious employers to violate the teachings of their faith.

In a Feb. 10 letter, the attorneys general voiced their “strong opposition” to the mandate, which they called “an impermissible violation of the Constitution’s First Amendment virtually unparalleled in American history.”

They said that if the mandate is implemented, they are prepared to “vigorously oppose it in court.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Office of the President, Other Churches, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology, State Government, Theology