Daily Archives: April 3, 2014

(Reuters) New Zealand tops social progress index, U.S. Comes in 20th

New Zealand came first in a global index published on Thursday that ranks countries by social and environmental performance rather than economic output in a drive to make social progress a priority for politicians and businesses.

The Social Progress Index (SPI) rates 132 countries on more than 50 indicators, including health, sanitation, shelter, personal safety, access to information, sustainability, tolerance and inclusion and access to education.

The SPI asks questions such as whether a country can satisfy its people’s basic needs and whether it has the infrastructure and capacity to allow its citizens to improve the quality of their lives and reach their full potential.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Education, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Politics in General, Science & Technology, Theology

(SMH) Social media: tools or trivial pursuits?

The cherished idea of the Twitter universe as a gloriously turbulent and fluid place for debate has taken a major hit, thanks to new research from China.

At the same time, findings from the United States have demolished another plank of common wisdom about digital communications. There is, it turns out, no relationship at all between the number of times an online article is shared and the number of times it is actually read.

In a paper published in March, two Chinese social scientists, Fei Xiong and Yun Liu, of Jiaotong University in Beijing, revealed unexpected results from an in-depth study into how opinions form on social media.

The pair analysed 6 million posts from almost 2.5 million Twitter users during a six-month period. In looking at how Twitter users are influenced by the thoughts of other micro-bloggers, the researchers came to what they termed a ”non-trivial” conclusion, meaning, pretty much, they aren’t.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

East London clergy respond to Evening Standard piece–Has Christianity Lost its Way?

The Revd Ric Thorpe, Vicar of St Paul’s Shadwell

I love the English trait of laughing at ourselves whilst allowing a deeper dig at something we hold very dearly. Whether it’s Rev. or the Vicar of Dibley, the Church too is not afraid of caricature or teasing or showing our weak side. It’s a sign of confidence and security. Also it’s not the whole story.

The Church in London is growing in many ways ”“ not least its confidence. Our own church, and three we have partnered with, have grown from 50 members to over 600 in the last nine years. The Church of England has been around for centuries and it is not afraid of change or challenge. Here, the Bishop of London is leading the way forward in raising the profile of the Church’s confidence, compassion and creativity through our strategy for London – Capital Vision 2020.

Instead of closing churches, the Diocese of London is planning 100 new churches in the capital over the next seven years….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

Simon Vibert–Uganda today and the East African Revival

Why we need Ugandan Christians

The East African Revival lives on! Evidences of revival are strong, revealed for me in at least the following four ways

(1) Worship is at the heart of community life
With African rhythm and harmony all you appear to need in order to sing praise to God is a drum! In fact adding extra amplification and electronic instruments (in my view) tended to distract (plus the electricity supply itself is pretty unreliable!)

The Luganda theme chorus was sung several times at every meeting we attended “Tukutendereza Yesu, Yesu Mwana gw’endiga, omusaayi gwo gunnaazizza, nkwebaza, Mulozi” (“We praise you Jesus, Jesus the Lamb, your blood has cleansed me, Saviour, I praise you”). It is quite complex to sing because of the interlocking harmonies ”“ but the power of the message is evident and heartfelt.

Another aspect of worship is the power of testimony: yes, the preaching is important, but so too is the lived experience of the gathered Christians. A couple of us attended a Testimony and Praise meeting at All Saints Church in Kabale. It was hard for us to follow (all in Luganda) but person after person told their story of God’s mercy and faithfulness, interjected by “Praise the Lord” to which the response is “Amen”! There is power in a living, recent testimony of God’s work in a person’s life.

(2) They Pray like they mean it!

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Church of Uganda, History, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology, Uganda

(CW) Trinity Western President Bob Kuhn warns New persecution coming for Canadian Church

Bob Kuhn, Trinity Western University’s newly-named president, says the degree of outright opposition to its new law school could mark the beginning of “a new era of persecution” against the Church in Canada.

“It’s sudden and swift and very powerful,” says Kuhn. “Having practiced law for close to 34 years, I have never seen anything quite like it in terms of the sea-change, a tsunami of societal offence against Christians and Christian views.”

In December, the Federation of Law Societies of Canada gave the school the green light. Now, three of its member-societies (British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia) are in the process of debating whether to allow TWU law school grads to article in their provinces. At issue is the university’s community covenant, which upholds biblical values on sexual relations. Many in the legal community interpret that as “anti-gay.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Canada, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology, Young Adults

(Washington Post) 4 Dead, many Injured in Fort Hood Shooting

The shooting was the third major gun attack at a U.S. military installation in five years, leaving the nation grappling with the prospect of yet more flag-draped funerals for troops killed on the homefront. A government contractor went on a shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard in September, leaving 12 people dead. In 2009, Army Maj. Nidal M. Hasan opened fire on a group of soldiers at Fort Hood preparing to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan, killing 13 people and wounding more than 30.

Doctors at the Scott & White hospital in Temple, Tex., said Wednesday that they have treated eight of the wounded and that one more was on the way. Three of the patients were in critical condition in the ICU, and five were in serious condition. Seven of them were male, and one was female. Their injuries ranged from mild to life-threatening, a majority of them caused by single-gunshot wounds to the neck, chest and abdomen.

President Obama said he was “heartbroken that something like this might have happened again.” Speaking during a fundraising trip to Chicago, he pledged “to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Iraq War, Mental Illness, Military / Armed Forces, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Stress, Theology, Violence

(Vatican Radio) Pope to meet with Britain's Queen Elizabeth in the Vatican

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II will meet with Pope Francis at a private audience in the Vatican on Thursday afternoon. The Queen, who’ll be accompanied by her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, will also have a private encounter with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano during the one day visit to Rome.

The audience with Pope Francis will mark the 87-year-old Queen’s fifth encounter with a Roman pontiff here in the Vatican, beginning with Pope Pius XII whom she met in 1951, the year before her accession to the throne. In 1982 she became the first monarch since the Reformation to welcome a pope to Britain during John Paul II’s pastoral visit to the country and in 2010 she also hosted Pope Benedict XVI on his state visit to the United Kingdom.

Read and listen to it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations, England / UK, Europe, Foreign Relations, History, Italy, Other Churches, Politics in General, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(BBC) Blackburn Catholic school to become Anglican academy

A Catholic primary school is to become a Church of England school because of falling numbers of Catholic pupils.

Sacred Heart RC Primary School in Lynwood Road, Blackburn, Lancashire, will become an Anglican academy, a spokesman for Blackburn Diocese said.

It will no longer come under the control of the council, and will be sponsored by the Cidari Trust, set up by the diocese to run academies.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Children, Church of England (CoE), Education, England / UK, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Anglican-Jewish Commission meeting in Dublin this week

The Anglican- Jewish Commission of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury is meeting in Dublin this week for the first time since its foundation in 2006.

This evening members of the Commission will attend a reception at Áras an Uachtaráin, hosted by President Michael D Higgins. Other guests will include the Church of Ireland primate Rev Richard Clarke, the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Most Rev Diarmuid Martin, the papal nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown, Rabbi Zalman Lent of the Dublin Hebrew congregation and Rabbi David Singer of Belfast Jewish community.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Inter-Faith Relations, Ireland, Judaism, Other Faiths

(WT) David DesRosiers reviews William Tucker's ”˜Marriage and Civilization’

Polygamy interestingly makes a comeback at the dawn of civilization 10,000 years ago, when this rational hunter and gatherer puts down his spear in favor of picking up the farmer’s hoe and shepherd’s staff. At this point, things started getting more interesting: prosperous, polygamous and warlike. With accumulated wealth comes power, and with it, the ability to write societal rules to your benefit.

In short, inequality of wealth and power reintroduces sexual scarcity back into the human story. Those with the most land and largest herds ”” civilization’s new alpha males ”” naturally started taking an unequal share of the women for themselves. In order to release the social tensions created by polygamy, a new warrior class developed to plunder the women and wealth of other people. Extreme examples of the expansionistic logic of polygamy can be seen in Genghis Khan at the top, and in suicide bombers willing to off themselves to get their own harem of virgins to debauch at the bottom.

A central argument of “Marriage and Civilization” is that monogamy, just like polygamy, is an elite-driven enterprise. Monogamy requires self-restraint and forward thinking among the strongest. These powerful few recognize the bellicose logic of polygamy and choose sexual equity because of the internal peace and prosperity that follows. This turn connects the last ape to the founders of Western civilization.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, History, Marriage & Family

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Richard of Chichester

We thank thee, Lord God, for all the benefits thou hast given us in thy Son Jesus Christ, our most merciful Redeemer, Friend, and Brother, and for all the pains and insults he hath borne for us; and we pray that, following the example of thy saintly bishop Richard of Chichester, we may see Christ more clearly, love him more dearly, and follow him more nearly; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Living God, in whom is the fountain of life: So teach us to know thee through Jesus Christ that we may share the power of that eternal life which is in him, and that all our lives may be brought into obedience to thy holy will; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

—Eric Fenn

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiph’rah and the other Pu’ah, “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, she shall live.” But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live. So the king of Egypt called the midwives, and said to them, “Why have you done this, and let the male children live?” The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and are delivered before the midwife comes to them.” So God dealt well with the midwives; and the people multiplied and grew very strong. And because the midwives feared God he gave them families.

–Exodus 1:15-21

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Thomas Friedman on Ukraine, Vladimir Putin and Globalization

My own view is that today’s global economic and technological interdependence can’t, of course, make war obsolete ”” human beings will always surprise you ”” but globalization does impose real restraints that shape geopolitics today more than you think….For reinforcement, I’d point to the very original take on this story offered by Michael Mandelbaum, the Johns Hopkins foreign policy expert whose new book, “The Road to Global Prosperity,” argues that while global economics does not eliminate geopolitics, it does indeed trump global geopolitics today. It’s the key to trumping Putin, too.

As Mandelbaum (my co-author on a previous work) explains in his book, it is not either-or. Geopolitics never went away, even as globalization has become more important. For globalization to thrive, it needs a marketplace stabilized by power. Britain provided that in the 19th century. America does so today and will have to continue to do so even if Putin becomes a vegetarian pacifist.

But get a grip, Mandelbaum said in an interview: “Putin is not some strange creature from the past. He is as much a product of globalization as Davos Man.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Politics in General, Russia, Theology, Ukraine

(NYT The Stone) Is Belief a Jewish Notion?

The theism-atheism-agnosticism trio presumes that the real question is whether God exists. I’m suggesting that the real question is otherwise and that I don’t see my outlook in terms of that trio.

G.G.: So what is the real question?

H.W.: The real question is one’s relation to God, the role God plays in one’s life, the character of one’s spiritual life.

Let me explain. Religious life, at least as it is for me, does not involve anything like a well-defined, or even something on the way to becoming a well-defined, concept of God, a concept of the kind that a philosopher could live with. What is fundamental is no such thing, but rather the experience of God, for example in prayer or in life’s stunning moments. Prayer, when it works, yields an awe-infused sense of having made contact, or almost having done so. Having made contact, that is, concerning the things that matter most, whether the health and well-being of others, or of the community, or even my own; concerning justice and its frequent absence in our world; concerning my gratefulness to, or praise of, God. The experience of sharing commitments with a cosmic senior partner, sharing in the sense both of communicating and literally sharing, “dreaming in league with God,” as A.J. Heschel puts it, is both heady and heartening. Even when that partner remains undefined and untheorized.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, History, Judaism, Other Faiths, Philosophy, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology