Daily Archives: October 25, 2012

([London] Times) Children as young as 11 ”˜addicted to’ online pornography

Children are getting “unrealistic” expectations about sex as a result of watching online pornography, a study indicates.
The survey conducted by Plymouth University discovered that youngsters are regularly watching porn from the age of 11 and some are “addicted” to it before they are sexually active.
It found that watching the material gives them expectations that are impossible to fulfil and can cause problems in later life once they are in a relationship.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Blogging & the Internet, Children, England / UK, Pornography

Christian Leaders Cross Denominational Lines

An ecumenical summit of leaders from Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist and Presbyterian churches and organizations affirmed common theological ground and sought practical ways of working together during a recent conference in Dallas, TX.

In their statement, titled “Jesus Christ: Our common ground and common cause”, the leaders said “Even as we fully acknowledge the imperfections of Christian institutions and the broken nature of our collective witness to the world, we commit to strive together for a faithful way of being the Church together. Our hearts are burdened for the millions of our neighbors who are estranged from God and the Church.”

The gathering formed working groups and listened to plenary sessions on ecumenical relations and theological education, engaging North American culture, church planting and mission as well as social witness during the four-day meeting. Participants affirmed an ecumenical statement that addresses each of these subjects on the summit’s final day. The leaders agreed to explore working together in areas of church planting, theological education and training. They also committed to meet again for a second summit in 2013. While each of the participants endorsed the statement they were not necessarily doing so on behalf of their respective churches/organizations.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations, Other Churches

Globe and Mail Editorial–Slapping a tax on junk food is still a bad idea

The Ontario Medical Association’s call to slap hot fudge and French fries with a so-called fat tax is a regressive measure that will hurt consumers without any provable benefit. The association is also off-base with its proposal to put graphic photos of diseased organs and limbs on junk food packaging. While the association’s aim of raising awareness is laudable, food is not tobacco and shouldn’t be treated as an inherently harmful substance….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Canada, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Health & Medicine, Taxes

(Telegraph) Neil Tweedie–The assassination of President John F Kennedy: new book points to the KGB

The young American was agitated, increasingly emotional, and had laid a loaded gun on the table. The Soviet Union must grant him a visa as soon as possible, he pleaded. His life was being made intolerable by FBI surveillance and he, a dedicated communist, wished to return to the arms of Mother Russia.

One of the three Soviet diplomats present took the gun and unloaded it before returning it to its owner. There would be no visa in the near future, he explained calmly. Dejected, the American gathered up his documents and departed the Soviet consulate, bound not for his previous home in New Orleans, but Dallas. It was Mexico City, Saturday, September 28 1963, and the man wanting the visa was Lee Harvey Oswald. Fifty-five days later, he would assassinate John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35th president of the United States.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, Europe, History, Office of the President, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Russia

"Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

‘Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop,” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is assistant curator Mia Fineman’s response to a persistent question she has been asked over the past five years: Have digital technology and software programs that alter an image with a few clicks on a comkeyboard destroyed faith in the evidentiary truth of photography?

Her persuasive answer: not nearly as much as we’ve been led to believe. Supported by an astute selection of some 200 works that goes back to the painted daguerreotype and forward to darkroom alchemy from the early 1990s, she argues that photographers have been “lying” to us since the medium’s invention, often with our encouragement.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Art, History

(FT) Zbigniew”‰Brzezinski–US foreign policy ill-served by its election

The prolonged campaign for the White House shows why the US finds it so difficult to pursue a rational foreign policy in a world of unprecedented complexity. Articulating foreign policy in the heat of an election produces an irresistible temptation to proclaim simplistic remedies to complicated foreign challenges.

Hence the hasty public declarations that Syria’s Bashar al-Assad must go even before a realistic US policy to achieve that goal had been formulated. And hence the deference shown to the fevered pleas of Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, for an ultimatum to Iran and the repeated references to the eventual use of US military power, without much consideration for potential regional or even global consequences. Hence, also, the pledge by Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, to announce that on day one of his presidency ”“ without any prior negotiations ”“ he would take punitive steps against China’s “currency manipulations”, irrespective of likely retaliation.

Alas, such a foreign policy ”“ derived from politically expedient, short-term commitments ”“ risks setting in motion dynamics that ultimately lead to international chaos….

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Foreign Relations, Politics in General, US Presidential Election 2012

Cyber-Security Chief on Wave of Web Attacks

The man often credited as being the father of internet defense says it’s still unclear where a recent wave of hacking attacks targeting the U.S. financial industry are coming from.

Gil Shwed is the co-founder and CEO of Check Point Software Technologies. Many recognize him and the company’s other co-founder, Marius Nacht, as the world’s pioneers in cyber-security. Shwed developed his expertise designing systems for an elite technology unit in the Israel Defense Forces years before the internet became a daily part of our lives.

Shwed said today “Iran is definitely capable of launching these kinds of attacks but so is just about any other developed country….”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet, Defense, National Security, Military, Science & Technology

(CSM) Anna Clark–The rise of Evangelical environmentalists could reshape US elections

Demographics are destiny, some say, and there’s plenty of truth to that. If you live in the South, you’re more likely to be an evangelical Christian than if you live in San Francisco. And if you live in San Francisco, you’re more likely to be an environmentalist (or at least recycling your soda can) than if you live in San Antonio.

More unusual are people who combine the two: Evangelical environmentalists. Rare, but rising in influence, evangelical environmentalists are equally well versed in ecology and theology. They and other proponents of the “creation care” movement may be harbingers of a cultural shift, albeit a slow one.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Energy, Natural Resources, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, US Presidential Election 2012

Don Chaffer explores life's storms””including his father's suicide””in a new off-Broadway musical

Can you give us a sneak peek into the plot?

Son of a Gun presents an interesting mashup of music and narrative. And, from a story perspective, it’s funny. It’s a dark comedy with a serious arc to it. It addresses this question of family and how to hack your way through a life that can be filled with pain, and it asks where the redemption is in the midst of all of it.

Is it autobiographical?

The story emerged from my own life experiences. There are plenty of times where we would hit a roadblock in the narrative, like, What should we do next with this character or this thing? And I would say, “Well, here’s what happened to me.” And that would be the best dramatic solution to the problem. So there’s times it’s stunningly true to my own life, but, of course, I did not grow up in a family band. We were not from Appalachia. My dad didn’t play guitar or sing. There were no duels anywhere. And so on….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Music, Religion & Culture, Theatre/Drama/Plays

Michael Ramsey's 1955 Address to the Church Union School of Sociology–Faith and Society

Where is the theology which can give to Christian social thinking and prophetic witness its sanctions and its impetus, the theology which can justify the Church in its attempts to say what ought or ought not to be in the social order? I offer no more than some introductory hints.

We start with the doctrine of the Church as standing over against society. “The Church is the redeemed community comprised of redeemed men and women and children. It is Christ’s new creation: its life is already the life of the world to come. Ontologically, its members are reborn. Sociologically, they have fellowship with the Father and the Son through the indwelling of the Spirit, and no secular concept of fellowship means the same thing. Morally, they are able to fulfil the hardest of Christ’s commandments because his grace enables them so to do. They can turn the other cheek, abandon their goods in a vocation to poverty, or retain their wealth and (only just) be safe in its possession: they can follow a vocation to celibacy or carry out the marriage vow as the heathen cannot be expected to who lack the grace which is at work within the Church. Here is a realm in which Christian sociology is possible, an island-realm amid the perishing world. But do not expect such possibilities in the world that lieth in the evil one. Any moral impact the Church may have upon the world is in God’s hands and cannot be made the subject of theory. Furthermore, expect that any approximations to God’s Kingdom from the side of the world may be bogus and misleading, because pride and titanism infect such efforts and bring them to grief.”

I start with this doctrine of Church over against world because it seems sensible at first sight, and indeed it can claim much support in the New Testament. But we must see how it needs modification, and as it becomes modified the possibilities of Christian social action begin to arise.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Theology

Notable and Quotable

Dependency is woven into human life. We are born needing the care of others, and we die that way. Illness, disability and circumstance often make us dependent on others. The Christian philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre has called human beings “dependent rational animals” to underscore the fact of dependency. Part of becoming “rational” dependent animals, MacIntyre argues, is recognizing that we have an obligation to care for and nurture others just as others have cared for and nurtured us.

–from a Christian Century Editorial, “Giving and Receiving,” in the October 17, 2012 edition, page 7

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Theology

(Church Times) Clergy, Funerals and the Issue of Suitable Music

Imagine no “Imagine”: it’s easy if you are a crematorium with a moratorium on “unsuitable” songs for funerals.

Alongside its most recent survey on popular funeral music, the largest funeral director in the UK, Co-operative Funeralcare, has revealed that one in four funeral parlours has had song requests turned down by clerics. Among them is John Lennon’s song, with its lyrics “Imagine there’s no heaven”….

Huge numbers continue to ask for Frank Sinatra’s version of “My Way”. It has received the highest billing in each of the past seven surveys, and is requested at 15 per cent of all funerals. “Time To Say Goodbye”, by Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli, is next on the list, followed by Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath My Wings”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Music, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(Der Spiegel) German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble Warns Worst Is Yet to Come

The financial markets have been notably calm of late. Stock indexes have ticked upwards and interest rates on sovereign bonds have drifted downwards. The euro has also remained relatively stable against the dollar. And investor panic seems to have dissipated.

But appearances can be deceiving, said German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble on Tuesday. “I’m not so sure that the worst of the crisis is behind us,” he said at a mechanical engineering conference in Berlin, warning that reform efforts needed to be re-doubled to ensure that trust in the euro returns.

His comments were echoed by Yves Mersch, a member of the European Central Bank Governing Council who was also present at the event. He warned that even if calm had returned to the markets, it could be deceptive. “The bleeding has been stopped, but the patient is not yet in the clear,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Foreign Relations, Germany, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(LA Times) Feds sue BofA for $1 billion over loans sold to Fannie, Freddie

The federal government has filed another mortgage-fraud lawsuit against Bank of America, contending that defective loans generated by the bank’s Countrywide Financial Corp. subsidiary caused mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to lose more than $1 billion.

A statement Wednesday from the office of U.S. Atty. Preet Bharara in New York said that after the subprime mortgage market collapsed in 2007, Calabasas-based Countrywide devised a loan-processing system called “Hustle” to “process loans at high speed and without quality checkpoints.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Law & Legal Issues, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Heavenly Father, who hast taught us to show forth thy praise in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs: So fill us, we pray thee, with thy Spirit that we may make melody to thee both in our hearts and with our lives, evermore giving thee thanks for all things, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Frank Colquhoun (1909-1997)

Posted in Uncategorized