Daily Archives: August 23, 2012

(Zenit) Denise Hunnell–Do No Harm? Medical Journals Show Increasing Support for Euthanasia

The British Medical Journal (BMJ), a publication distributed to the members of the British Medical Association, devoted much of its June 14, 2012, issue to endorsing voluntary euthanasia and physician assisted suicide. Raymond Tallis, emeritus professor of geriatric medicine at the University of Manchester, argues in this issue that respect for patient desires and autonomy renders irrelevant any opinion on the matter by the Royal College of Physicians or the British Medical Association. Therefore, all opposition to euthanasia is merely inappropriate paternalism and should be dropped.

In this same issue, Tess McPherson relates the difficult last days of her mother, Ann McPherson, and uses this painful experience as a call for legalized physician assisted suicide and euthanasia. Rather than seeking better pain control, she argues that death is the best option for those suffering at the end of their lives.

Finally, Fiona Goodlee, editor in chief of the BMJ, rounds out the arguments by declaring that legalization of assisted dying is not a medical decision, but rather a societal question. She argues that the role of the physician is compatible with providing euthanasia or assisted suicide and if society wants it, they should get it.

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, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

In Toll of 2,000, New Portrait of Afghan War

Nearly nine years passed before American forces reached their first 1,000 dead in the war. The second 1,000 came just 27 months later, a testament to the intensity of fighting prompted by President Obama’s decision to send 33,000 additional troops to Afghanistan in 2010, a policy known as the surge.

In more ways than his family might have imagined, Lance Corporal Buckley, who had just turned 21 when he died, typified the troops in that second wave of 1,000. According to the Times analysis, three out of four were white, 9 out of 10 were enlisted service members, and one out of two died in either Kandahar Province or Helmand Province in Taliban-dominated southern Afghanistan. Their average age was 26.

The dead were also disproportionately Marines like Lance Corporal Buckley. Though the Army over all has suffered more dead in the war, the Marine Corps, with fewer troops, has had a higher casualty rate: At the height of fighting in late 2010, 2 out of every 1,000 Marines in Afghanistan were dying, twice the rate of the Army. Marine units accounted for three of the five units hardest hit during the surge.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, War in Afghanistan

New Billboards from "American Atheists" Group attack Christianity and Mormonism

David Silverman, president of New Jersey-based American Atheists, atheists.org, unveiled the organization’s newest billboard campaign, which mocks religion in the political landscape. The billboards feature perceived aspects of Christianity and Mormonism that, according to American Atheists, have no place in politics.

In the billboard on Christianity, for instance, God is called “sadistic” and Jesus a “useless saviour.” Christianity is said to promote hate but call it “love.” In the billboard on Mormonism, God is called a “space alien” and the faith is accused of baptizing dead people.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Atheism, Media, Mormons, Office of the President, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(BBC Magazine) How Paris is falling in love with gospel music

France may be the most militantly secular country in Europe, but Paris’s gospel scene is flourishing.

The choir sways and their orange robes sway with them. The conductor, packed in an ice-cream-white suit, urging them on, while out front the Reverend Jean Carpenter – moving quite possibly like nobody has ever moved before in this ancient church in the medieval heart of Paris – sings praise to the Lord.

The person who emailed to say I should go and hear her sing described her voice in one word – “Biiiiiiiiiiig”.

She wasn’t exaggerating.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Europe, France, Music, Religion & Culture

In South Africa, Religious leaders come together and vow to fight corruption

In one of the strongest stances yet taken against corruption, people of all faiths came together in Khayelitsha on Wednesday to launch an anti-corruption campaign led by the Western Cape Religious Leaders Forum.

The forum is supported by Kairos Southern Africa and the SA Council of Churches.

Religious leaders in the city, headed by Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, issued a stern warning to political leaders about their reluctance to deal with corruption.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Anglican Provinces, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Inter-Faith Relations, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, South Africa, Theology, Violence

(Groton Patch) In Connecticut, a Meeting To Consider the Future of TEC's Bishop Seabury Church

The Bishop of the Connecticut Episcopal Diocese said Tuesday he would meet with area clergy next week to discuss the future of the Bishop Seabury Church in Groton.

The building has functioned as a church since it as built more than 30 years ago, and was the subject of a lengthy court battle.

The congregation of 750 members, called Bishop Seabury Anglican Church, split with the Episcopal Church in 2007, then wound up in court over whether it could continue to use the building.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Episcopal Church (TEC), Housing/Real Estate Market, Law & Legal Issues, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut, TEC Departing Parishes, Theology

(Huffington Post) Mark Osler–The New Episcopalian

In the past few months I have read several agonized reports on the supposed death throes of the Episcopal Church. I have not studied the statistics or interviewed masses of people. However, I have traveled in the opposite direction from those who have left the Episcopal church, and am glad that I have.

I’ve been an Episcopalian for a little over a year. I found a church home with strong preaching, a loving community, and attention to scripture, reason and tradition. The liturgy moves me, the clergy challenges me, and I am both inspired and heard. After 10 years as a Baptist, it has been a welcoming new home.

Yes, I do understand that membership numbers are down. Much of that, of course, is because a number of congregations and many individuals left the Episcopal Church when it accepted gay and lesbian clergy several years ago. Being among the first major denominations to resolve this issue, though, is both a blessing and a curse — yes, some people left in anger, but I also know where the church will stand from this point forward, and I agree with that position. The wrenching dislocation of that question is resolved. There is a blessed settledness to that.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Identity, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Brisbane Times) Liberal Christians speak out

Australians must understand that conservative Christian lobbyists do not speak for all people of the faith, according to the Brisbane Anglican leader heading a new progressive advocacy group.

The Very Reverend Peter Catt, the Dean of St John’s Cathedral, announced yesterday the creation of the new group called A Progressive Christian Voice (Australia).

He said the aim of the group was not to be in conflict with the Australian Christian Lobby, which often argued for conservative positions on issues such as gay marriage and surrogacy, but to ensure there were several Christian voices in public debates.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(BP) Christian Pakistani girl, 11, remains jailed

Controversy continues to swirl around Pakistan’s blasphemy law after the arrest of a young Christian girl for defiling words from the Quran.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has asked the country’s Interior Ministry for a report about the Aug. 16 arrest of Rimshah Masih, described as an 11-year-old with Down syndrome in various media reports.

Even so, Nina Shea, director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom and a former member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, suggested an ominous fate for the girl, in a National Review Online blog Aug. 21.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Children, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Pakistan, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Absolutely Hilarious–Two Little Girls Explain The Worst Haircut Ever

From Jeff Cohen: “My five year old cut off my three year old’s hair. A few weeks later, I decided to interview them and get their explanations. Here’s what they told me.”

Listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Children, Humor / Trivia, Marriage & Family

(AP) Middle class share of America's income shrinking

The middle class is receiving less of America’s total income, declining to its smallest share in decades as median wages stagnate in the economic doldrums and wealth concentrates at the top.

A study released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center highlights diminished hopes, too, for the roughly 50 percent of adults defined as middle class, with household incomes ranging from $39,000 to $118,000. The report describes this mid-tier group as suffering its “worst decade in modern history,” having fallen backward in income for the first time since the end of World War II.

Three years after the recession technically ended, middle class Americans are still feeling the economic pinch, with most saying they have been forced to reduce spending in the past year. And fewer now believe that hard work will allow them to get ahead in life. Families are now more likely to say their children’s economic future will be the same or worse than their own.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance, Psychology, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(LA Times) Sujata Bhatt–A good teacher is hard to keep

A great teacher can have a huge effect on a child’s life. So, unfortunately, can a bad teacher. But in education, job performance has virtually nothing to do with opportunities for advancement. Teachers who are consistently successful with students are not given leadership roles that would allow them to reach students beyond their own classrooms, and if they don’t have enough seniority, they can be let go without anyone seeming to care come layoff time. This is enormously frustrating.

I’ve taught for 11 years at the same high-poverty elementary school in the Los Angeles Unified School District. My fourth- and fifth-grade students arrive in my classroom with varying degrees of preparedness, but they leave with a strong set of skills and a desire to continue learning. Both their intellectual curiosity going forward and their test scores reflect what they get from my class.

I’m just one among many hardworking, high-achieving teachers in L.A. Unified and other districts. But we are at risk. A recent study by the educational nonprofit organization TNTP found that each year urban school districts are losing high-achieving teachers because they make little effort to retain them, or to push out the low achievers.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Economy, Education, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Jesus, Master Carpenter of Nazareth, who on the cross through wood and nails didst work man’s whole salvation: Wield well thy tools in this thy workshop; that I who come to thee rough hewn may by thy hand be fashioned to a truer beauty and a greater usefulness; for the honour of thy holy name.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

A Song of Ascents. Of David. O LORD, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at its mother’s breast; like a child that is quieted is my soul. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and for evermore.

–Psalm 131

Posted in Uncategorized

Many at the Federal Reserve Appear Ready to Act Unless Economic Growth and Job Market Improves

Federal Reserve officials in their last meeting discussed a “number of policy tools” that the central bank might use to further stimulate the economy in the face of the weakening recovery, an official account released on Wednesday said, but they remained in wait-and-see mode.

“Many members judged that additional monetary accommodation would likely be warranted fairly soon unless incoming information pointed to a substantial and sustainable strengthening in the pace of the economic recovery,” the account of the meeting that ended Aug. 1 said.

With few signs of a substantial and sustainable strengthening evident this summer, the report will likely solidify investors’ expectations that the bank will take new measures this fall.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Federal Reserve, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government