Daily Archives: September 28, 2012

Hanna Pylväinen: 'Breaking Amish,' Burning Bridges

Liberation is a peculiarly American love. And these days it seems particularly beloved when the liberation is one from the tyranny of faith.

Mainstream culture prizes those who convert to secularism, the side of the thoughtful and the free. We read of their escapes””books in recent years include “The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance,” by Elna Baker, and “Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots,” by Deborah Feldman. And we watch their oppression by religion on movie screens and television”””Jesus Camp,” “Sister Wives,” “Big Love””and are relieved by the distance between their lives and our own.

And now we have TLC’s new series “Breaking Amish,” a reality show that follows the lives of five young Amish and Mennonite men and women as they “forgo horses and buggies for New York City’s taxis and subways.” The Hollywood Reporter lauded TLC for acting “not only as documentarian but as liberator.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture

Bad Math: MIT Miscounts Its New Business School Students, now Pays them to Defer

Normally, schools offer scholarships to entice students to enroll. This year, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s business school handed them money to go away.

The Sloan School of Management’s full-time M.B.A. program, usually about 400 students, was oversubscribed by an unusually high number of students this year. Rather than expand the class size, the school asked for volunteers willing to wait a year to enroll, sending out an e-mail just a couple of weeks before the Aug. 23 kickoff barbecue. By that point, many expectant students had quit jobs and secured housing in the Boston area.

How did the math whizzes at MIT get the numbers so wrong?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Education, Young Adults

(USA Today) Women face a host of obstacles to retirement

When Jeanne Majors, 63, took an early retirement in December 2005, she assumed that she would pick up a part-time job and be in good financial shape. She didn’t know that her future would quickly fall apart.

Majors, who is single and lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., learned the hard way about the retirement obstacles that most women face today. When the economy slid into the recession, she lost her part-time job and could not find another.

“They wanted somebody young,” Majors says. “Or if I was a man, somebody would have hired me at my age. I’m not sorry that I retired, but things didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to. Everything went bust.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Economy, Medicare, Pensions, Personal Finance, Social Security, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector, The U.S. Government, Women

(RNS) Vatican walks a fine line on trying to combat blasphemy

Just one week after Pope Benedict XVI ended his successful visit to Lebanon, the country’s most senior Catholic leader called for a United Nations resolution “that will ban denigrating religions.”

Meanwhile in Pakistan, the country’s only Catholic cabinet member, Minister of Harmony Paul Bhatti, this week told an interfaith gathering in Lahore that he will press U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to pass a UN resolution that condemns “defamation and contempt against religions.” Bhatti said “we must not allow anyone to break our harmony” between Christians and Muslims.

Both moves are understandable in light of increasingly popular efforts in predominantly Muslim countries to outlaw blasphemy or defaming religion. But they could prove problematic for the Vatican as it fights to protect the rights of Christian minorities around the world.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Politics in General, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

(BBC Magazine) Should there be child-free zones on planes and trains?

An airline says it will offer baby-free “quiet zones” on its flights. Should all planes and trains follow suit, or do adults need to learn to live with child passengers?

At 35,000ft, the klaxon-like howl of a distressed toddler screeches through a pressurised cabin.

For travellers already stressed by lengthy security checks, crammed into cramped seating and unnerved by the very fact of being so high above ground, it’s almost enough to make them shatter the Plexiglas windows and jump.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Theology, Travel

(New Statesman) George Pitcher ponders the challenges confronting the Archbishop of Canterbury

We start, therefore, with a paradox ”“ the Church of England is deeply rooted in British political life, yet it transcends party politics. [Rowan] Williams has managed this difficult relationship with the nation’s politics remarkably well. With carefully chosen interventions, the outrage of politicians and in some quarters of the media may be seen to have demonstrated that he has got this aspect of his job bang on.

When he suggested in 2008 that our legislature might recognise aspects of sharia in our civil law, some of the more excitable newspaper commentators ranted about tongues being cut out and adulterers being stoned to death. It was left to the Conservative MP Peter Bottomley calmly to point out on BBC radio that, among a Christian, a Jew and a Muslim in the UK, only one person is prevented from marrying according to the rites of his or her own culture ”“ and that this is inequitable.

Since then, Williams may have been more measured in his contributions but he’s hardly been less of a political animal….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Rowan Williams, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) Show us corporate culture has changed, banks told

The banking sector must show “contrition” for past failures and rediscover “a culture of the virtues”, the Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs Council has said, in written evidence to the Parlia­mentary Commission on Banking Standards.

The Commission was set up by MPs in the wake of the Libor scandal in July, to look at the pro­fessional standards and culture of the UK banking sector. The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Justin Welby, is a member of the Commis­sion, which is composed of five MPs and five peers…

The MPA Council’s submission states: “The question is not whether systems have been adequate to identify and deal with the bad apples, but whether the whole orchard needs replanting.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

(NC Register) Benjamin Wiker–Abstracted From Reality: France Bans ”˜Mother’ and ”˜Father’

The reason given by Christiane Taubira, France’s justice minister: ”Who is to say that a heterosexual couple will bring a child up better than a homosexual couple, that they will guarantee the best conditions for the child’s development?” She then reassured critics of the proposed law, “What is certain is that the interest of the child is a major preoccupation for the government.”

If the law goes through, then all references to “mother” and “father” will be erased from the civil code and replaced with the more abstract, cover-all, cover-anything term “parents.”

Let’s focus on that shift to abstraction. It’s more important than you might think, because, as France is now demonstrating, he (or she) who controls the language controls the fundamentally human ability to speak about reality.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Europe, France, Marriage & Family, Men, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Philosophy, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Secularism, Theology, Women

(Anglican Essentials) Anglican Church of Canada $900,000 in the red mid 2012

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canada, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Theology

Tobias Haller responds to Matthew Grayshon's Fulcrum article on Same Sex Marriage

The third section goes awry on the usual special pleading about procreation, including the caveat that it is talking about the “norm” and leaving to one side infertile, elderly, and other couples who do not fit that norm. The problem in this should be obvious, yet it is a logical slip made again and again on that side of the debate: you cannot argue from a norm with exceptions when we are dealing with something exceptional, and when there is an uneven application of the very principle at hand to allow some exceptions and not others. If procreation is essential to marriage, then no one who cannot procreate should be “married” (but allowed to have a “union”).

The final section is the most troubling both theologically and morally. It concludes by asserting, “It is not possible to both affirm the incarnation and assert gay marriage.” On the contrary, it is not only possible, I have seen it; in fact I’ve done it!

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Panorama: Blogs of the Episcopal Church

Read it all; interesting choices in terms of who and what.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Episcopal Church (TEC), Media, Theology

(Reuters) Nigeria says its push against the Boko Haram Islamists is paying off

Nigeria’s “robust” approach to neutralizing a threat posed by Islamist sect Boko Haram using military force, holding indirect talks with the group and improving education in the north is paying off, the Nigerian president said on Wednesday.

Boko Haram, which wants to carve out an Islamic state in northern Nigeria, has been blamed for more than 1,000 deaths since its insurgency intensified in 2010. The United States has designated three of Boko Haram’s senior members as terrorists.

In an interview with Reuters on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly’s annual gathering of world leaders, President Goodluck Jonathan also played down the significance of the government forces’ killing of the sect’s spokesman, Abu Qaqa, in a gun battle in Kano on September 16.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Terrorism, Violence

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Into thy hands, O Lord, I commit myself this day. Give to me a watchful, humble, and diligent spirit, that I may seek in all things to know thy will; and when I know it may gladly perform it, to the honor and glory of thy name.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Dost thou work wonders for the dead? Do the shades rise up to praise thee?…Is thy steadfast love declared in the grave, or thy faithfulness in Abaddon? Are thy wonders known in the darkness, or thy saving help in the land of forgetfulness?

–Psalm 88:10-12

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Anglican Ink) Final meeting to choose the next Archbishop of Canterbury this week

In contrast to past deliberations of the Crown Nominations Committee, the discussion over the selection of a successor to Dr. Rowan Williams have not been leaked to the press or have been the subject of informed “off the record” comment from insiders.

Two names will be presented to Prime Minister David Cameron ”“ the recommended choice and an alternate. Unlike past archiepiscopal appointments, the Prime Minister is not expected to exercise a choice over the names and is likely to submit the recommended name to the Queen for approval.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Religion & Culture