Daily Archives: June 20, 2013

Time Magazine asks 10 Questions of movie director Joss Whedon

Does being an atheist make it easier to conjure up a supernatural world?
I think that it gives me a need to write fantasies. I don’t have a fantastical belief, so it’s nice to create a world where there could be one.

At a commencement speech, you told students to embrace death. Is that a theme for you?
Well, it is the one universal truth, and our culture is so terrified of it. I work in Hollywood, where people routinely chop their faces in order to look younger and look like shiny, scary monsters. And everybody says, Well, that’s just fine. Death and life are part of the same thing.

Read it all (may require subscription).

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

(NY Times Op-ed) Eleonore Pauwels–Our Genes, Their Secrets

In Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, the [Supreme Court]… ruled that “a naturally occurring segment” of DNA ”” genetic material that has been isolated from human chromosomes ”” cannot be patented because it is simply a product of nature. For policy wonks, the case was a David-and-Goliath fight, one of the most important patent cases in a decade, with an outcome sure to affect the $100 billion biotechnology industry, no matter how it was decided.

But while the Supreme Court’s ruling has been welcomed enthusiastically by many, the Myriad case has been only a modest victory for the advocates of genetic-data sharing. Indeed, none of the underlying tensions have truly been resolved: we still need to find a way for the biotech industry to keep a competitive advantage without endangering the welfare of patients and slowing medication innovation.

In reality, gene patents were only one part of the problem. A more vexing, and still pressing, issue is how companies withhold genetic data as a trade secret.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Science & Technology, Theology

Archbishop Justin Welby's article for Outlook magazine–'Christians in the World'

[The]…Rev Matthew Reed from the Children’s Society writes that the Church of England, which is so deeply embedded in our communities, could be the ”˜transformational agency’ in our nation. As a church we are incredibly well-equipped to help change not just the lives of children living in poverty, but the society which currently prevents so many children from flourishing. ”˜This is our time,’ he writes; I share this conviction.

For me, two things are now needed. First, we must be confident in our faith that Christ is the source of all goodness. So it’s necessary for us to develop our own personal spirituality, as well as our communal spirituality, so that this encounter with Jesus is driving our understanding of what is right and good. The other is that we need to be confident, but also gracious and wise in how we share that knowledge ”“ so that we influence society in a way that people can hear, rather by the succumbing to the (all too human) temptation to try convincing people with our words alone, rather than our actions.

I am more optimistic about the Church than I have been at any other time in my life. Something is shifting; a spiritual hunger is starting to emerge. In so many ways this is an extremely difficult time for us as a society. But is it also a great opportunity to show people who Jesus is by how we live our lives.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Religion & Culture, Theology

The Bishop of Derby responds to the Governments efforts at the recent G8 Meeting

“The Government deserves huge credit for its efforts in using its Presidency of the G8 to prioritise trade, tax and transparency. The Summit outcomes fall short of what many had hoped and campaigned for, but there has been progress nonetheless that needs to be celebrated. The Government’s announcement that all Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories are ready to sign the Multilateral Convention on Tax Matters is a significant step forward and will help developing countries access more information and retain more of the money they are owed in order to combat endemic problems to their own development such as hunger and child malnutrition..”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Middle East, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Syria

(SMH) Matt Wade–Changes in power as world grows up

You might have heard about peak oil, but what about peak child? When I was born in 1965, about one in three of the world’s people were children. That will fall to one in five in my lifetime – assuming I make it to the ripe old age of 85.

It might not sound dramatic but the repercussions of that shift are Earth-changing. The number of babies being born around the world is unlikely to ever be higher than now, and that means the domination of the world’s population by those in lower age brackets is ending.

Over the past 50 years, the population aged under 15 ballooned from 1 billion to nearly 2 billion. But revised 100-year population forecasts, released by the United Nations last week, show the number of children will flatten out over the next 15 to 20 years and then fall back to 1.9 billion by 2050.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Marriage & Family, Middle Age, Politics in General, Sociology, Theology

(PBS Newshour) How the Government Is Fooling Us About the Solvency of Social Security

The fact that economics tell us to discount — as in make less of — each dollar owed or received in the distant future, however, doesn’t mean a government can ignore those obligations and receipts, especially if there are loads of future obligations relative to receipts.

Take the just-released 2013 Trustees Report on Social Security’s long-run finances. Table IVB6 shows an infinite horizon fiscal gap of $23.1 trillion separating the Social Security system’s projected costs and taxes after taking into account the several trillion in the Social Security trust fund. To give you a sense of how massive this shortfall is — and it grew by fully 8 percent last year alone — it is 50 percent larger than U.S. GDP and almost twice the size of total federal debt held by the public.

Table IVB6 also reports Social Security’s fiscal gap over the next 75 years. It’s much smaller — only $9.6 trillion, and that’s the number people tend to use in discussion. But that number is only 41 percent of the actual economic gap: $23.1 trillion. Thus, the 75-year fiscal gap hides three fifths of the system’s true long-term shortfall.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Budget, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Politics in General, Social Security, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, Theology

(America) John Carr–100 Days of Francis

Pope Francis is approaching 100 days as our Holy Father. The beginning of his papal service has drawn massive attention and offered new ways of carrying out the leadership of the Universal Church. There is amazing interest in this unpredictable story. Washington was both fascinated and appalled by a quick election with no visible campaign, no declared candidates, no consultants or commercials, and the only exit polls were black or white smoke from a chimney.

As part of a panel on the new pope at Harvard (not the typical Harvard forum), I asked how a publisher would respond to this novel. Chapter One is about the first papal resignation in 600 years. Chapter Two focuses on a 76-year-old Jesuit priest riding the bus to work as Archbishop of in Buenos Aries. Chapter Three is the story of the conclave, where the Jesuit is elected and calls himself Francis to show commitment to the poor, peace and creation. Chapter Four covers the early days of the new pope as he asks the crowd to bless him before he blesses them, refuses to move into the Apostolic Palace and spends Holy Thursday in jail washing the feet of young prisoners, including women and Muslims. The response probably would have been “don’t waste your time or mine on such fantasy,” but all this actually happened.

Like others, I’ve been watching this story in amazement. More importantly, I have been reading and listening. I find Pope Francis’ morning homilies on the scriptures a daily source of spiritual challenge and enrichment, both provocative and hopeful. After 100 days, Washington often asks how the office has changed the new occupant of that office, whether the new leader has been able to make any real difference and what this beginning suggests for the future. Here are some thoughts on those questions.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic

A website to Consider–A Glorious Revolution

A Glorious Revolution is the web log of Iain Boyd, Senior Pastor of Trinity Church in Myrtle Beach. The purpose of this blog is to assert a Gospel Centered view not only of the Christian life but also of Anglicanism. The Anglican Church was started when brave men and women were convicted of the truth of the Gospel and called for reform in their churches. Historically, our churches foundational commitment to the Gospel has ebbed and flowed, but it is our opinion that Anglicanism stands or falls on the pure Gospel of Jesus. The current divides in Anglicanism seem to be over the cultural tides of conservativism and liberalism. The Gospel is a third way that transcends these categories. Jesus is more radical than the liberals and more moral than the conservatives. So, we seek to call the Anglican church back to a Gospel centered life that transforms the world starting in Myrtle Beach. In this blog you’ll see frequent posts from reformers both within Anglicanism and without, modern and ancient, commentary on news in the worldwide Anglican Communion, as well as my own musings on film, culture, politics, religion, music and much more. I am happy to report that my good friend, Sami Al Taher will continue to post material here that has stirred his heart to a more radical commitment to Jesus and His Gospel. We will also continue to post material pertinent to Trinity Church under the categories tab “Trinity Tidings.”

See what you make of it.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Blogging & the Internet

Daron Taylor's Sermon from Sunday–Understanding the 73rd Psalm

Listen to it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Becky Worley–Where Teens Go Instead of Facebook (and Why You Should Too)

Remember a few years back, when teenagers left MySpace in droves for this new thing called Facebook? Grown-ups soon followed suit (not that they were ever much on MySpace), and joined Facebook by the hundreds of millions ”“ which made it far less cool for their kids. So where on the Web are teens going now, and what can you learn from them?

A recent study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 94% of American teens still have a Facebook account, but they’re using it less, and using it more carefully. More than half have tightened down their privacy settings and regularly delete or edit previous posts.

But even with tightened privacy settings, teens have realized that Facebook is more like a family picnic than the private party they want it to be. They still share photos and use Facebook messaging, but they are increasingly turning to newer social networks to fill the function of traditional status updates. So which sites are they using ”“ and why?

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Children, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Marriage & Family, Teens / Youth

The Federal Reserve Outlines Its Timeline for Winding Down Stimulus

The Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, said on Wednesday that the central bank intended to reduce its monetary stimulus later this year ”” and end the bond purchases entirely by the middle of next year ”” if unemployment continued to decline at the pace that the Fed expected.

Mr. Bernanke said that the Fed planned to continue the asset purchases until the unemployment rate fell to about 7 percent, the first time that the Fed has specified an economic objective for the bond-buying. The rate stood at 7.6 percent in May.

The Federal Reserve also struck notes of greater optimism about the economic recovery, saying in a statement released after a two-day meeting of its policy-making committee that the economy was expanding “at a moderate pace,” the job market was improving and risks to the recovery had “diminished since last fall.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Economy, Federal Reserve, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Stock Market, 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

Almighty God, who in thy wisdom hast so ordered our earthly life that we should walk by faith and not by sight: Grant us such faith in thee, that, amid all the things that pass our understanding, we may believe in thy fatherly care, and be ever led and strengthened by the assurance that underneath are the everlasting arms, and that thy mercy endureth for ever; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the LORD delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. Evil shall slay the wicked; and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

–Psalm 34:17-22

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

A More Secular Europe, Divided by the Cross

Stanislav Zvolensky, the Roman Catholic archbishop of the Slovak capital here [in Solvakia], was thrilled when he was invited to Brussels three years ago to discuss the fight against poverty with the insistently secular bureaucracy of the European Union.

“They let me in wearing my cross,” the archbishop recalled.

It therefore came as a rude surprise when, late last year, the National Bank of Slovakia announced that the European Commission, the union’s executive arm, had ordered it to remove halos and crosses from special commemorative euro coins due to be minted this summer.

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

(Der Spiegel) David Crossland–How Springsteen Helped Tear Down the [Berlin] Wall

Who brought down the Berlin Wall? It was Polish trade unionists, Mikhail Gorbachev and his perestroika, Ronald Reagan and his Star Wars program, ordinary East Germans demonstrating in the streets and piling into the West German embassy in Prague, and of course Günter Schabowski, the Politburo member who read out that legendary note lifting travel restrictions — “effective immediately” — on the night of Nov. 9, 1989.

A new book published this week ventures to add another name to that list — rock star Bruce Springsteen, who held the biggest concert in the history of East Germany on July 19, 1988, and whose rousing, passionate performance that night lit a spark in the hundreds of thousands of young people who saw him.

Springsteen attracted an estimated 300,000 people from all over the German Democratic Republic — the largest crowd he had ever played to. They were hungry for change and freedom, and seeing one of the West’s top stars made them even hungrier, argues veteran journalist Erik Kirschbaum in his book “Rocking the Wall,”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Europe, Foreign Relations, Germany, History, Music, Politics in General