Daily Archives: May 13, 2014

(BBC) Nigeria abductions: Government 'ready' for Boko Haram talks

Nigeria is ready to talk to Islamist militants to negotiate the release of more than 200 abducted girls, cabinet minister Tanimu Turaki has said.

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said on Monday that captured girls who had not converted to Islam could be swapped for jailed fighters.

Mr Turaki said that if Shekau was sincere, he should send representatives for talks.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Ethics / Moral Theology, Nigeria, Politics in General, Teens / Youth, Terrorism, Theology, Violence, Women

(W Post Op-ed) Michael Gerson: Americans’ aversion to science carries a high price

Americans have something of a science problem. They swallow, for example, about $28”‰billion worth of vitamins each year, even though the Annals of Internal Medicine recently concluded that “[m]ost supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death, their use is not justified, and they should be avoided.” Americans often fear swallowing genetically modified plants (and Vermont recently required labeling of food containing genetically modified organisms, known as GMOs), though GMOs have “been consumed by hundreds of millions of people across the world for more than 15 years, with no reported ill effects,” according to the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.

Other opinions are closer to astrology than science. Some deny a link between HIV and AIDS or confidently assert a connection between cellphone usage and cancer. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), during the last presidential campaign, contended that the HPV vaccine causes “mental retardation.” (And, yes, about a quarter of Americans believe in astrology.)

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Science & Technology, Theology

Canon Derek Waller and his wife heading out to South Sudan for new calling

The move for Canon Derek Waller, vicar of St Peter’s Church in Rushden, and wife Jane follows an invitation from long-standing South Sudanese friend Bishop Anthony Poggo to re-visit the country where they both worked in the 1980s.

Derek said: “Bishop Anthony invited us and our adult children to visit our old friends in South Sudan last year. It was a joyful time, as we renewed friendships and worshipped with local Christians.

“As we became aware of the many needs there, we felt a renewed call from God to serve the people and the church. There’s tremendous openness, joy and faith there.

“We realised how much it would mean to them if we returned.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --South Sudan, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Missions, Parish Ministry, Sudan

(CC) Philip Jenkins on the Pentecostal Church–Astonishing Assemblies

The United States has spawned many Chris­tian de­­no­minations, some of which have gone on to thrive internationally. This year marks the centennial of one of the great success stories, the Assemblies of God. Not only have the Assemblies become a truly global church, but they have won far more followers outside their original homeland than within it.

The AG grew out of the famous Pentecostal revival that began on Los Angeles’s Azusa Street in 1906. In 1914, local congregations met in Hot Springs, Arkansas, to form the denomination. Mem­ber­ship reached only 50,000 by the 1920s, but then it proceeded to grow rapidly. The Assem­­blies of God in the United States reached 1 million members by 1971, rising to 3 million today. By comparison, the Episcopal Church since the 1960s has contracted from 3 million members to 2 million.

The church’s expansion in recent years is greater than we would think if we just counted signs explicitly using the Assemblies of God label. Many of the country’s thriving megachurches are affiliated with the AG, but use a more generic label. That practice is not intended to deceive but rather recognizes a popular sense that traditional denominational labels are divisive and sectarian. My own working rule is that mega­church signs should usually read “Com­munity Church (really Assem­blies of God).”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Globalization, Other Churches, Pentecostal, Religion & Culture

(Post-Dispatch) St. Louis author Stephen Miller explores the "age of evangelicalism"

Evangelicals are defined in various ways. What’s your definition of who an evangelical is?

My definition of evangelicals for the book is deliberately broad so as to be inclusive of the range of answers that people on the street might give you if you’re asking them “what is an evangelical?”

Traditionally within evangelical culture the focus is on a very distinct conversion experience in which there is a conscious acceptance of the Christian faith and perhaps even some discernible movement of the Holy Spirit.

In the book you write about what it was like to be an evangelical in the ’70s. How was being an evangelical then different from what it may be like today?

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Books, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

(BBC) Nigeria abduction video: Schoolgirls 'recognised'

The BBC’s Mark Doyle, in the capital, Abuja, says it appears some sort of negotiations will take place because of the large presence of international advisers in the country, including hostage negotiators.

Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden”, had previously said the girls should not have been at school and should get married instead.

The militants have been engaged in a violent campaign against the Nigerian government since 2009.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Nigeria, Teens / Youth, Terrorism, Violence, Women

Kendall Harmon's Sunday Sermon–Through Christ, Called out of Fear and Into Courage (Matthw 14:22-32

Listen to it all should you wish to and also note that there is an option to download it there (using the button which says “download” underneath the link which says “listen”).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, * Christian Life / Church Life, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(HMS) $1.9 Billion in Medicare Waste: ”˜Tip of the Iceberg’

In the first large-scale study to directly measure wasteful spending in Medicare, researchers found that Medicare spent $1.9 billion in 2009 for patients to receive any of 26 tests and procedures that have been shown by empirical studies to offer little or no health benefit.

By analyzing Medicare claims data, researchers in the Harvard Medical School Department of Health Care Policy found that at least one in four Medicare recipients received one or more of these services in 2009. What’s more, those 26 services are just a small sample of the hundreds of services that are known to provide little or no medical value to patients in many circumstances.

“We suspect this is just the tip of the iceberg,” said study author J. Michael McWilliams, associate professor of health care policy. The study appears today in JAMA Internal Medicine.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Budget, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Medicare, Personal Finance, Politics in General, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, Theology

(U Mass Amherst) Underage college men discount dangers of driving after marijuana use

Underage male college students who report using marijuana in the month before they were surveyed had a high prevalence of driving under its influence and of riding with a marijuana-using driver, at a rate more than double that of driving or riding after alcohol use, say researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences and University of Washington pediatrics department.

Among other things, this study found that among marijuana-using students, 44 percent of males and 9 percent of females drove after using the drug, and 51 percent of males and 35 percent of females rode as a passenger with a marijuana-using driver.

Lead author Jennifer Whitehill at UMass Amherst and colleagues say their findings probably reflect the widespread myth that driving after marijuana use is safe. The researchers suggest that developing strategies to combat this belief could help to change social norms and encourage using a designated driver not only after alcohol use, but after a driver has used any risky substance. Study findings are in the current issue of the JAMA Pediatrics.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Men, Psychology, Theology, Travel, Young Adults

(Vatican Radio) Roman Catholics and Anglicans meet for ARCIC talks in South Africa

Catholic and Anglican theologians meet together in Durban, South Africa on Monday for the opening of a fourth session of their current dialogue known as ARCIC III. The theme for this third phase of Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission is to explore the Church as Communion, local and universal, and how, together, they come to discern correct ethical teaching.

The new Catholic co-secretary of the dialogue is Fr Tony Currer, in charge of relations with the Anglican Communion at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Philippa Hitchen caught up with him just ahead of his departure for South Africa to find out more about what this meeting can hope to achieve….

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, Africa, South Africa, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O gracious and holy Father, give us wisdom to perceive thee, diligence to seek thee, patience to wait for thee, eyes to behold thee, a heart to meditate upon thee, and a life to proclaim thee; through the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Saint Benedict

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Paul, Silva”²nus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalo”²nians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

Grace to you and peace.

We give thanks to God always for you all, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brethren beloved by God, that he has chosen you; for our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit; so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedo”²nia and in Acha”²ia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedo”²nia and Acha”²ia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us what a welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

–1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(AP) UN Chief Urges Special Tribunal for South Sudan

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Monday for a special tribunal for South Sudan, saying there are grounds to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed since widespread violence began five months ago.

The U.N. chief welcomed last Friday’s cease-fire agreement by President Salva Kiir and his former vice president, Riek Machar, and demanded an immediate end to fighting, which flared over the weekend. He called for “30 days of tranquility” so farmers can plant crops in peace to avoid famine in the world’s newest nation.

“If the conflict continues, half of South Sudan’s 12 million people will either be displaced internally, refugees abroad, starving or dead by the year’s end,” Ban warned the U.N. Security Council.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --South Sudan, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Sudan, Theology, Violence

New Zealand Anglican debate on Ma Whea? Commission report on Same-sex Blessings to continue

The plan, going into this General Synod, was that half of Monday would be devoted to consideration of the Ma Whea? report ”“ and that by afternoon tea time, a course of action would have emerged.

Instead, synod wrestled until its dinner break with the questions of same-sex blessing and ordination ”“ and then asked its order paper committee to find a slot in today’s schedule to resume the debate.

Until that process has concluded, there’s not a lot more that can be said. Because after yesterday’s first session, in which the Ma Whea? Commission itself described its work ”“ all subsequent sessions have been in committee.

They’ve deliberated by diocese and hui amorangi, then by house ”“ and after afternoon tea, by synod as a whole. Each session in committee, with no observers present.

This much is evident, though: the synod is being urged not to ”˜kick the can further down the road’.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(BBC) India election: Exit polls see Modi win as vote ends

A number of exit polls are suggesting that Narendra Modi, the leader of India’s main opposition BJP, is on course to win the general election.

The BJP dominated the campaign but analysts warn that exit polls have often been wrong in the past.

The main contest in the vote is between the ruling Congress and the BJP. Votes will be counted on 16 May.

Polls ended on the final day of voting on Monday. The Election Commission said voter turnout was a record 66.38%

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Globalization, India, Politics in General