Monthly Archives: November 2014

An NPR piece on what Happens when the "monster" of Marijuana comes to Uruguay

Foreigners are dreaming big, but the locals seem a bit overwhelmed with all the interest in a new law that was passed legalizing marijuana in the last year.

The law allows Uruguayans to register to grow their own weed, or join growing clubs ”” cooperatives of up to 45 people ”” for personal consumption.

Under President Jose Mujica’s maverick leadership, Uruguay went further than any country in the world: The government will plant, cultivate and ultimately distribute marijuana, too.

Mujica says decades of failed drug war policies necessitated a radical new approach to curb drug violence and addiction. If the government sells dope, the idea goes, the criminals can’t. But the reality has proven complicated, and some advocates say the government has bitten off more than it can chew.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, South America, Theology, Uruguay

(BBC) Ebola outbreak: West Africa death toll nears 7,000

The number of people killed by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has risen to 6,928, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says.

The toll has increased by over 1,000 since the WHO’s last report on Wednesday, but it includes unreported deaths from earlier in the outbreak.

Experts say the infection rate is more significant that the death toll, as it reflects how the virus is spreading.

Infection rates are decreasing in Liberia, but are high in Sierra Leone.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Guinea, Health & Medicine, Liberia, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Sierra Leone, Theology

Rod Dreher–Architect Philip Bess on faith, reason, and urban design

Bess has long served as an unlikely apostle to New Urbanists and conservatives alike, neither of whom seem to get the other. He tells New Urbanists that building good neighborhoods is a necessary condition for building good communities, but not a sufficient one: they must integrate their architectural vision with a broader vision of the good life. To put it in an Augustinian way, you can’t build a city fit for man without a vision of the city of God.

“Urbanism is about human flourishing, and human flourishing requires virtues, which are character dispositions that lead toward certain goods. People aren’t passive receivers of urbanism,” he says. “New Urbanists do a lot of things right, but good urbanism is more than bioswales”””environmentally friendly alternatives to storm sewers””“bike lanes, good coffee, and olive oil.”

Yet the bigger challenge, from Bess’s point of view, is to convince conservatives that New Urbanism is something they should embrace. In a 2005 address presenting New Urbanism to the right, Bess made the familiar Aristotelian claim that “the best life for human beings is the life of moral and intellectual excellence lived in community with others.” The built environment is an indispensible foundation for that.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Architecture, Education, History, Religion & Culture, Rural/Town Life, Urban/City Life and Issues

(NYT Ltr from the Middle east) Jerusalem, the Holy City of Separation

Havdalah, the set of blessings that ends the Jewish Sabbath, means separation. The text talks about separating light from darkness, the day of rest from the six days of work, the holy from the ordinary, Israel from “the nations.” That last one stems from the controversial biblical concept of Jews as God’s chosen people, and is a reminder of the rough reality now playing out in this holy city.

After a torturous week that included a Palestinian terror attack on a synagogue and the attendant Israeli crackdown, about 200 people gathered Saturday night at Jerusalem’s renovated First Station complex for Havdalah and a pluralistic prayer for peace. Pluralism in this case meant among Jews ”” the rabbis up front included Reform and Orthodox, women and men, the descendants of Eastern Europe known as Ashkenazim and of those expelled from Spain, Sephardim.

The overwhelmingly Ashkenazi audience delighted when Rabbi David Menachem, whose grandfather came to Israel from Iraq, asked permission to chant Havdalah in “a Sephardi tune ”” a Jerusalem tune.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, History, Israel, Judaism, Middle East, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(Local paper) The tradition of camp meetings in South Carolina

…in South Carolina, there’s a centuries-old tradition of spending an entire week immersed in family, food, fellowship and faith. At five autumnal “camp meetings” in rural Dorchester County, Christians gather in primitive cabins, universally called “tents,” encircling a central tabernacle.

Asked to describe camp meeting, longtime attendees (and because tents are inherited, there are no other kind of attendees) reliably demur. “You have to experience it,” says Smith’s boss, Barry Stephens, a Mount Pleasant Realtor who remembers riding his stick horse around Indian Field Methodist Campground. Now, there are so many children at play in the grassy expanse created by 99 huddled-together tents that Stephens’ young son wears a T-shirt emblazoned with his tent’s number so he’ll be returned safely if he strays too far.

Leisure has become central to camp meetings.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Children, Church History, History, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

(NBC) Pastor's Stint On The Street Opens Eyes to Plight of Homeless

The pastor of a Sacramento megachurch had already raised the money he sought for a program to provide food and shelter to the homeless. But Rick Cole, who began the fundraiser with a stunt where he would live on the streets, couldn’t leave after only a few days. So, he spent the next two weeks living life as the homeless do ”” and the experience opened his eyes.

“I’ve walked past people that stay in some of the places of homelessness. And really almost not even noticed them, not considered their plight and what’s going on in their life. Now I was living among them,” Cole told NBC News.

Unrecognized by his new neighbors, the 57-year-old pastor spent his days looking for food and worrying about where he’d sleep at night. He didn’t preach he didn’t proselytize. He just listened. “I think I began to experience how people ignore others. I became the one ignored. People walked by me like I didn’t exist.”

Read it all or watch the video.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Poverty, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

(NYT) More Pastors Embrace Talk of Mental Ills

The pastor’s phone rang in the midnight darkness. A man’s voice rasped: “My wife left me and I’ve got a shotgun in my mouth. Give me one reason why I shouldn’t pull the trigger.”

The Rev. Matt Brogli, a Southern Baptist pastor scarcely six months into his first job, was unnerved. Gamely, he prayed with the anonymous caller, trying out “every platitude I could possibly think of.”

Eventually the stranger assured Mr. Brogli that he would be all right. But the young pastor was shaken.

“I was in over my head,” he recalled. “I thought being a pastor meant giving sermons, loving my congregation, doing marriages and funerals, and some marital counseling.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Mental Illness, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Preaching / Homiletics, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Richard Baxter

Keep us, O Lord, while we tarry on this earth, in a serious seeking after thee, and in an affectionate walking with thee, every day of our lives; that when thou comest, we may be found not hiding our talent, nor serving the flesh, nor yet asleep with our lamp unfurnished, but waiting and longing for our Lord, our glorious God for ever and ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Advent, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzzi”²ah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezeki”²ah, kings of Judah.

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth;
for the Lord has spoken:
“Sons have I reared and brought up,
but they have rebelled against me.
The ox knows its owner,
and the ass its master’s crib;
but Israel does not know,
my people does not understand.”

Ah, sinful nation,
a people laden with iniquity,
offspring of evildoers,
sons who deal corruptly!
They have forsaken the Lord,
they have despised the Holy One of Israel,
they are utterly estranged.
Why will you still be smitten,
that you continue to rebel?
The whole head is sick,
and the whole heart faint.
From the sole of the foot even to the head,
there is no soundness in it,
but bruises and sores
and bleeding wounds;
they are not pressed out, or bound up,
or softened with oil.

Your country lies desolate,
your cities are burned with fire;
in your very presence
aliens devour your land;
it is desolate, as overthrown by aliens.
And the daughter of Zion is left
like a booth in a vineyard,
like a lodge in a cucumber field,
like a besieged city.

If the Lord of hosts
had not left us a few survivors,
we should have been like Sodom,
and become like Gomor”²rah.

–Isaiah 1:1-9

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer from Henry Alford at the end of the Church’s year

O Lord Jesus, with whom we have passed another Christian year, following thee from thy birth in our flesh to thy sufferings and triumph, and listening to the utterances and counsels of thy Spirit: Even thus would we also end this year of grace, and stand complete in thee our Righteousness; humbly beseeching thee that we may evermore continue in thy faith and abide in thy love; who liveth and reigneth with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Spirituality/Prayer

(Reuters) Exclusive: U.S. CEOs threaten to pull tacit Obamacare support over 'wellness' spat

Leading U.S. CEOs, angered by the Obama administration’s challenge to certain “workplace wellness” programs, are threatening to side with anti-Obamacare forces unless the government backs off, according to people familiar with the matter.

Major U.S. corporations have broadly supported President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform despite concerns over several of its elements, largely because it included provisions encouraging the wellness programs.

The programs aim to control healthcare costs by reducing smoking, obesity, hypertension and other risk factors that can lead to expensive illnesses. A bipartisan provision in the 2010 healthcare reform law allows employers to reward workers who participate and penalize those who don’t.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General, The U.S. Government, Theology

Archbishop Justin Welby concludes global Anglican tour in Scotland

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, concluded a two-day visit to the Scottish Episcopal Church last night – bringing to a close his 37 visits to every Province of the Anglican Communion.

Archbishop Justin and his wife, Caroline, were hosted by the Most Rev David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Scottish Episcopal Church

(Quad City Times) Illinois Supreme Court rejects the Episcopal Church's appeal in Quincy Case

Local Anglican priests gave parishioners an extra helping of good news during Thanksgiving Day services.

The Illinois Supreme Court on Wednesday denied a petition by the Episcopal Church to review a lower court ruling that decided contested money and property tied to a 2008 split rightfully belonged to the Quincy Diocese of the Anglican Church in North America, the Rev. Thomas Janikowski, public relations director, said Friday.

He shared the news with parishioners at Trinity Anglican Church in Rock Island, where he’s rector, during his Thanksgiving homily and said he saw several “moist eyes” in people grateful to learn the case finally may be over, he said…

The Supreme Court’s denial was a disappointing decision, according to Episcopal Bishop Jeffrey D. Lee, of the Chicago Diocese, which the former Quincy Episcopal Diocese realigned itself with in 2013.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Presiding Bishop, Religion & Culture, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Quincy, TEC Departing Parishes, Theology

(Ntl Post) Black Chicago high school and their white Canadian football coach offer hope

…against this backdrop of racial discord and ongoing black despair, in a place where hope can be hard to find for a young black man, Jamal Brown is part of a new story, a small but promising case study of possibility: It is about his black inner-city high school football team and their white Canadian football coach.

“This is the most positive story that is out there,” says Joe Winslow, a black man born and raised on the South Side, and an assistant with the Wendell Phillips Wildcats. “This is what can happen when people come together.

“This is a white head coach in a black neighbourhood ”” and it ain’t predominantly black ”” it’s black, where there are still gangs running certain neighbourhoods and running certain blocks, and where there are still kids getting jumped because they are wearing Phillips hoodies.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Canada, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Sports, Teens / Youth, Theology

(WSJ) Veterans Seek Help for PTSD Decades After War

Nightmares of a friend dying beside him in a bunker years ago now waken Donald Vitkus. “There is stuff that you carry from the war,” the 71-year-old Vietnam veteran said.

Mr. Vitkus spends his days in and out of therapy at a residential rehabilitation center filled with mostly older veterans, working on his memory while trying to gain control over disturbing recollections and the emotions they surface.

He is one of hundreds of thousands of aging Vietnam veterans who late in life are now seeking help for post-traumatic stress disorder””a mix of flashbacks, depression and sleeplessness springing from a war that ended four decades ago.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Children, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, History, Marriage & Family, Military / Armed Forces, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology