Daily Archives: November 18, 2014

(Time) Oxford’s 2014 Word of the Year Is ”˜Vape’

Oxford’s lexicographers keep watch over billions of words every month””from literary novels to academic journals to blogs””and at the end of the year they put their brainy heads together to select a single word that best embodies the zeitgeist. Out of this year’s haze of nominees and debate emerged four little letters.

Vape, a verb meaning to inhale and exhale the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device, beat out everything from bae to normcore. It was coined in the late 1980s when companies like RJR Nabisco were experimenting with the first “smokeless” cigarettes.But, after years of languishing, the word is back, needed to distinguish a growing new habit from old-fashioned smoking. According to Oxford’s calculations, usage of vape, which as a noun can refer to an e-cigarette or similar device, more than doubled between 2013 and 2014.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, England / UK, Globalization, History, Poetry & Literature, Theology

[First Things] Drs Christopher Seitz and Ephraim Radner: The Marriage Pledge

In many jurisdictions, including many of the United States, civil authorities have adopted a definition of marriage that explicitly rejects the age-old requirement of male-female pairing. In a few short years or even months, it is very likely that this new definition will become the law of the land, and in all jurisdictions the rights, privileges, and duties of marriage will be granted to men in partnership with men, and women with women.

As Christian ministers we must bear clear witness. This is a perilous time. Divorce and co-­habitation have weakened marriage. We have been too complacent in our responses to these trends. Now marriage is being fundamentally redefined, and we are ­being tested yet again. If we fail to take clear action, we risk falsifying God’s Word.
The new definition of marriage no longer coincides with the Christian understanding of marriage between a man and woman. Our biblical faith is committed to upholding, celebrating, and furthering this understanding, which is stated many times within the Scriptures and has been repeatedly restated in our wedding ceremonies, church laws, and doctrinal standards for centuries. To continue with church practices that intertwine government marriage with Christian marriage will implicate the Church in a false definition of marriage.

Therefore, in our roles as Christian ministers, we, the undersigned, commit ourselves to disengaging civil and Christian marriage in the performance of our pastoral duties. We will no longer serve as agents of the state in marriage. We will no longer sign government-provided marriage certificates. We will ask couples to seek civil marriage separately from their church-related vows and blessings. We will preside only at those weddings that seek to establish a Christian marriage in accord with the principles ­articulated and lived out from the beginning of the Church’s life.

Please join us in this pledge to separate civil marriage from Christian marriage by adding your name.

Read it all

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Marriage & Family

An important reminder from Arthur Schopenhauer about Books and Reading

From here:

“When we read, another person thinks for us: we merely repeat his mental process. In learning to write, the pupil goes over with his pen what the teacher has outlined in pencil: so in reading; the greater part of the work of thought is already done for us. This is why it relieves us to take up a book after being occupied with our own thoughts. And in reading, the mind is, in fact, only the playground of another’s thoughts. So it comes about that if anyone spends almost the whole day in reading, and by way of relaxation devotes the intervals to some thoughtless pastime, he gradually loses the capacity for thinking; just as the man who always rides, at last forgets how to walk. This is the case with many learned persons: they have read themselves stupid. For to occupy every spare moment in reading, and to do nothing but read, is even more paralyzing to the mind than constant manual labor, which at least allows those engaged in it to follow their own thoughts. A spring never free from the pressure of some foreign body at last loses its elasticity; and so does the mind if other people’s thoughts are constantly forced upon it. Just as you can ruin the stomach and impair the whole body by taking too much nourishment, so you can overfill and choke the mind by feeding it too much. The more you read, the fewer are the traces left by what you have read: the mind becomes like a tablet crossed over and over with writing. There is no time for ruminating, and in no other way can you assimilate what you have read. If you read on and on without setting your own thoughts to work, what you have read can not strike root, and is generally lost.”

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Books, Poetry & Literature, Psychology, Theology

**Great Resource–Pope Francis' Humanum conference Upload page

Check it out and note the speakers included–Nigerian Anglican Archbishop Nicholas Okoh and Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Ecumenical Relations, Inter-Faith Relations, Judaism, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic

[Andrew Wilson] The Case for Idolatry: Why Evangelical Christians Can Worship Idols

[I really hope it’s obvious that this is a parody, but if not: it is.]
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to worship idols. It’s not that my parents raised me that way, because they didn’t; I was brought up in a loving, secure, Christian home. But from childhood until today, my heart has been drawn to idolatry. In fact, if I’m honest, one of the defining features of my identity has been my desire to put something else ”“ popularity, money, influence, sex, success ”“ in place of God.

That’s just who I am.

For many years, I was taught that idolatry was sinful. As a good Christian, I fought the desire to commit idolatry, and repented when I got it wrong. But the desire to worship idols never went away.

I wanted it to, but it didn’t.

So it has been such a blessing to discover that worshipping one God, and him alone, isn’t for everyone. There are thousands of Christians out there who have found faithful, loving ways of expressing worship both to God and to idols, without compromising either their faith or their view of Scripture. In recent years, I have finally summoned the courage to admit that I am one of them. Let me give you a few reasons why I believe that idolatry and Christianity are compatible…

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Posted in * General Interest, Humor / Trivia

(Economist blog) Remarriage in America–I wanna take your hand

If all you need is love, as the Beatles say, perhaps it makes sense that a shrinking share of Americans are even bothering with marriage. In 1960 85% of American adults had been wed at least once; last year just 70% could say the same. Young people are proving particularly reluctant to try: 28% of men aged between 25 and 34 in 2010””and 23% of women””will not yet have tied the knot by 2030, according to estimates from the Pew Research Centre, a think-tank.

There are several reasons for this change in marriage trends. More women are working outside the home, and for fairer pay, so a husband is no longer a meal ticket. And attitudes to cohabitation have shifted: almost a quarter of young adults now live with a partner. Given the exorbitant costs of both weddings and divorces in America, living “in sin” seems increasingly sensible, particularly for the many youngsters who are now drowning in college debt.

But while a larger proportion of Americans are shying away from saying “I do”, those that have done it before remain keen to do it again. Last year 40% of new marriages included at least one partner who had made vows before, according to a new Pew study. Divorced or widowed adults are about as likely to remarry today””57% have done so””as they were in the 1960s. The prospect is certainly more appealing than it ever used to be, as rising divorce rates have yielded a larger pool of possibilities. So In total, 42m adults in America have been married more than once, up from 14m in 1960. “It’s fascinating that among those people eligible to remarry, the share that do has been stable for such a long time,” reckons Gretchen Livingston, one author of the new research.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology, Young Adults

A Terrific Princeton Alumni Weekly profile Piece on Writer and Teacher John McPhee

McPhee taught us to revere language, to care about every word, and to abjure the loose synonym. He told us that words have subtle and distinct meanings, textures, implications, intonations, flavors. (McPhee might say: “Nuances” alone could have done the trick there.) Use a dictionary, he implored. He proselytized on behalf of the gigantic, unabridged Webster’s Second Edition, a tank of a dictionary that not only would give a definition, but also would explore the possible synonyms and describe how each is slightly different in meaning. If you treat these words interchangeably, it’s like taping together adjacent keys on a piano, he said.

Robert Wright ’79, an acclaimed author and these days a frequent cycling companion of McPhee, tells me by email, “I’d be surprised if there have been many or even any Ferris professors who care about words as much as John ”” I don’t mean their proper use so much as their creative, deft use, sometimes in a way that exploits their multiple meanings; he also pays attention to the rhythm of words. All this explains why some of his prose reads kind of like poetry.”

Just to write a simple description clearly can take you days, he taught us (once again I’m citing Amanda’s class notes): “If you do it right, it’ll slide by unnoticed. If you blow it, it’s obvious.”

Read it all from Joel Achenbach.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Education, Poetry & Literature, Theology, Young Adults

(WSJ) Falling Oil Prices Test OPEC Unity

“The upcoming OPEC meeting is going to be the most difficult one during this century,” said Mohammad al-Sabban, a former senior adviser to Mr. Naimi. “It seems that OPEC has forgotten how to cooperate.”

Within the group, officials are increasingly worried its divisions contribute to weaker prices. “If OPEC fails to reach an agreement,” one OPEC official said, “oil prices will keep on falling….”

A collective move to cut output could boost prices, but it would also rob OPEC members of revenue. It is unclear how long such vulnerable OPEC economies as Venezuela and Nigeria could afford to limit production without reopening the spigots.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, History, Middle East, Politics in General, South America, Theology, Venezuela

(Comment is Free) Giles Fraser– the C of E is actually holding up pretty well in an adverse market

It is perfectly understandable that an organisation that believes in resurrection ought to be generally less anxious about the prospect of its own impending death. Or perhaps this lack of anxiety is a form of denial. Whatever the explanation, it seems that the Church of England continues to slip quietly into non-existence; at present it’s on the gentle downward gradient of a 1% loss in membership a year.

The bishop of Truro recently told his diocese that, unless this trend is reversed, the Cornish church will be unsustainable in about six years. Likewise, the bishop of Blackburn has said that the Anglican church is set to go the same way as Lancashire’s cotton mills. But despite these apocalyptic prognostications from the top brass, individual churches just keep on keeping on, often oblivious to the noises-off that speak of death. And I think that the churches are right and the bishops are wrong.

About a million people go to a Church of England church each week. It’s not the glory days of the church, admittedly. But just compare: the membership of the Conservative party is just 134,000 and has been very nearly halved since David Cameron took over. Membership of the Labour party is higher, at about 190,000. And the Lib Dems have just 44,000. But add them all together, and even throwing in Ukip for good measure, and you still don’t have half the number of people who go to church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Religion & Culture

The Church Times story on the approval of Woman Bishops by C of E Synod

The final barrier to women becoming bishops was removed on Monday, when the General Synod, meeting in Westminster, voted to promulge and execute the Amending Canon.

After the vote in July, which gave final approval to the women bishops Measure…and subsequent parliamentary approval, members of the Synod voted by a simple majority to formally enact the change in the law. A small minority of about 30 members voted against.

Speaking after the vote, the Archbishop of Canterbury welcomed the result, admitting that the process has taken a “very, very long time”.

Read it all.

Update: I see an RNS story is there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Religion & Culture, Theology, Women

(CC) Benjamin Dueholm–The war against rest

Maria Fernandes died for the sake of a nap. The 32-year-old held three part-time jobs, and between shifts at two different Dunkin’ Donuts locations she stopped in a parking lot in Elizabeth, New Jersey, to sleep in her car. Fumes from a spilled fuel container that had tipped over””she worried about running out of gas””and exhaust from her vehicle ended her life on August 25. According to her manager, this was the first time Fernandes failed to show up or answer her phone. Her friends remembered a generous, sentimental, spirited young woman.

Fernandes was part of what economist Joe Seneca calls the “real face of the recession”: 7.5 million American workers cobbling together a living from part-time jobs. While the shortage of full-time jobs at adequate wages is a familiar story in America’s lingering downturn, the cruel shortage of sleep is not.

It should be. “A battle against leisure is unfolding,” Ryan Jacob claims in a Pacific Standard article called, provocatively enough, “Are Sundays Dying?” Citing Canadian survey data, Jacob found that even in this last citadel of repose, religious observances, socializing, eating at home, and, yes, sleep had all declined on Sundays between 1981 and 2005. During the same period, time spent working increased dramatically.

Read it all and alert blog readers may remember that I posted Ms. Fernandes tragic story back in October.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Eschatology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sports, Theology

(BBC) Global terror attack deaths rose sharply in 2013, says report

The number of deaths from terrorism increased by 61% between 2012 and 2013, a study into international terrorism says.

There were nearly 10,000 terrorist attacks in 2013, a 44% increase from the previous year, the Global Terrorism Index 2014 report added.

The report said militant groups Islamic State, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and the Taliban were behind most of the deaths.

Iraq was the country most affected by terrorism, the report said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Terrorism, Theology

Ebola in Nigeria: A Survivor’s Story from Ada Igonoh, a 28-year-old doctor

She finally learned the truth and was taken to an isolation ward that had been quickly set up as it became clear Mr. Sawyer’s infection had spread. It was in an old building, with rats and mosquitoes around, she says. There were male and female wards. She didn’t receive any experimental drugs or transfusions of blood from survivors, treatments that have been given to U.S. and European patients and that scientists and doctors believe may help. There was no one to check the levels of potassium and other electrolytes in her body; imbalances can lead to arrhythmia or organ damage.

The ward had just one doctor, who was able to come by only once or twice a day. He would help clean the floor, soiled with vomit and feces by women who were too sick to make it to the toilet or clean up after themselves. “The nurses were so scared, they wouldn’t enter the room. They would put out food in front of the door and we’d have to go and get our food ourselves,” Dr. Igonoh said.

“I was told 90% of the treatment was dependent on me,” she said. She was determined to survive. “I said, even if it’s just a 1% survival rate, I will be part of that 1%,” she said.

She had her iPad with her and looked up everything she could find about the disease. She learned that most victims of Ebola die of shock brought on by their severe dehydration, so she drank oral rehydration solution “like my life depended on it.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Health & Medicine, Nigeria

(WI) Andrew Walker–Evangelicals and the LGBT Community: What Does the Future Hold?

What lessons were learned from the ERLC conference that might serve as a guide in the days ahead?

On homosexuality and same-sex marriage, the conference stands alone, at least from my perspective, as an earnest first attempt to move evangelicals in a deliberate direction toward more loving, thoughtful engagement on issues that are deeply visceral and deeply divisive. The conference also highlighted the ongoing attempt to rehabilitate the institution of marriage in a same-sex marriage world.

Simply being against same-sex marriage is an insufficient apologetic for rebuilding marriage as a cultural fixture. When deviations from marriage””such as cohabitation, divorce, and promiscuity””become routine, same-sex marriage can seem intelligible and acceptable. In attempts to halt the dictatorship of sexual relativism, the ERLC is dedicated to helping undo the foundations of the sexual revolution that have chipped away at marriage, not just fixing its symptoms.

The conference also revealed that evangelicals are taking a play out of the pro-life handbook.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Baptists, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Hilda of Whitby

O God of peace, by whose grace the abbess Hilda was endowed with gifts of justice, prudence, and strength to rule as a wise mother over the nuns and monks of her household, and to become a trusted and reconciling friend to leaders of the Church: Give us the grace to respect and love our fellow Christians with whom we disagree, that our common life may be enriched and thy gracious will be done, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

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