Daily Archives: November 24, 2014

(Wash. Post) High court case tests free speech limits on Facebook

About a week after Tara Elonis persuaded a judge to issue a protective order against her estranged husband, Anthony, her soon-to-be ex had this to say:

“Fold up your PFA [protection-from-abuse order] and put it in your pocket

Is it thick enough to stop a bullet?”

Anthony Elonis didn’t deliver the message in person, by phone or in a note. Instead, he posted it on his Facebook page, for all to see, in a prose style reminiscent of the violent, misogynistic lyrics of rap artists he admired.

In its first examination of the limits of free speech on social media, the Supreme Court will consider next week whether, as a jury concluded, Elonis’s postings constituted a “true threat” to his wife and others.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Theology

(Chiesa) What Francis really thinks about Europe

A Europe weary with disorientation. And I don’t want to be a pessimist, but let’s tell the truth: after food, clothing, and medicine, what are the most important expenditures? Cosmetics, and I don’t know how to say this in Italian, but the “mascotas,” the little animals. They don’t have children, but their affection goes to the little cat, to the little dog. And this is the second expenditure after the three main ones. The third is the whole industry to promote sexual pleasure. So it’s food, medicine, clothing, cosmetics, little animals, and the life of pleasure. Our young people feel this, they see this, they live this.

I liked very much what His Eminence said, because this is truly the drama of Europe today. But it’s not the end. I believe that Europe has many resources for going forward. It’s like a sickness that Europe has today. A wound. And the greatest resource is the person of Jesus. Europe, return to Jesus! Return to that Jesus whom you have said was not in your roots! And this is the work of the pastors: to preach Jesus in the midst of these wounds. I have spoken of only a few, but there are tremendous wounds. To preach Jesus. And I ask you this: don’t be ashamed to proclaim Jesus Christ risen who has redeemed us all. And for us too that the Lord may not rebuke us, as today in the Gospel of Luke he rebuked these two cities.

The Lord wants to save us. I believe this. This is our mission: to proclaim Jesus Christ, without shame. And he is ready to open the doors of his heart, because he manifests his omnipotence above all in mercy and forgiveness. Let’s go forward with preaching. Let’s not be ashamed. So many ways of preaching, but to mama Europe – or grandma Europe, or wounded Europe – only Jesus Christ can speak a word of salvation today. Only he can open a door of escape.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Soteriology, Theology, Young Adults

Evangelism is central to being the people of God, says Archbishop Justin Welby

Evangelism is not a survival strategy for the church, but is instead an activity “central to being the people of God”, the Archbishop of Canterbury said yesterday.

Because we worship a God revealed in Jesus Christ who was “sent out to sow, to gather, and to draw back in”, as Christians when we evangelise we reflect the nature of God, he said.

Archbishop Justin, who has made evangelism a priority for his ministry, was speaking at the Church Army’s annual general meeting in central London, where he addressed evangelists from across the UK and Ireland.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Archbishop of Canterbury, Christology, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Soteriology, Theology

(C of E) Cathedrals offer place of peace and prayer in busy lives, reveal new stats

The number of people attending midweek services at cathedrals has doubled in the past 10 years, show new figures published today from the Church of England’s Research and Statistics department. One of the factors attributed is the need for a place of peace in increasingly busy lives.

Midweek attendance at cathedrals was 7,500 in 2003 rising to 15,000 in 2013 (compared to 12,400 in 2012). In a Church of England podcast published today the Dean of Lichfield, Adrian Dorber, said he has seen the need for people wanting a short snatch of peace midweek in what are now very pressurised lifestyles. “At the weekend you’ve got commitments with children doing sport, shopping, household maintenance – life’s run at the double these days and weekends are very pressurised and committed. Taking out half an hour or an hour every week is much more negotiable.”

Anecdote to Evidence research published earlier this year showed that that the highest motivating factors for Cathedral attendance were peace and contemplation, worship and music and friendly atmosphere.

Read it all.

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

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama–An Ethnic Chinese Christian, Breaking Barriers in Indonesia

Mr. Basuki, a 48-year-old Protestant whose grandfather was a tin miner from Guangzhou, China, was sworn in Wednesday [of last week] at the State Palace by President Joko Widodo.

None of Jakarta’s previous governors have been Christian or of Chinese ancestry, except for one who served briefly as an appointee half a century ago (like Mr. Basuki, he was both). And despite Indonesia’s history of discrimination ”” and, at times, savage violence ”” against ethnic Chinese, Mr. Basuki says he considers neither his faith nor his ethnicity to be a political handicap.

“When people told me ”˜the Chinese are a minority,’ my father would say to tell them that we are more patriotic,” Mr. Basuki said in a recent interview. “If one day Indonesia is occupied by a foreign country, my father said he would be in front of the front line to fight for our independence again.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, History, Indonesia, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(NPR) Anesthesia Miracle: No Power, No Oxygen Tanks, No Problem

Waking up during a surgery would be a nightmare, yet that’s a regular problem for patients in low-income countries. Sketchy power grids mean the lights often go out, and with them, the anesthesia machine. In other cases, there are too few oxygen tanks for a surgery, so it’s canceled.

Two decades ago, Dr. Paul Fenton faced those hurdles almost daily while working as an anesthesiologist at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi. The hospital had plenty of anesthesia machines, each provided by a well-intentioned western charity, but none were practical for his clinic.

“So I began tinkering with these old machines, and took a few bits and pieces from each,” recounts Fenton.

The result was a prototype for the Universal Anesthesia Machine (UAM), which delivers anesthesia without oxygen tanks or the need of stable power grid

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anthropology, Health & Medicine, Malawi, Science & Technology, Theology

PBS ' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–Recruiting Radical Muslims

PROFESSOR MIA BLOOM (Center for Terrorism and Security Studies, University of Massachusetts at Lowell): They really don’t have the ballast to be able to say, “No, I don’t think that’s what the Sura al-Tawba says.” They don’t really have the knowledge-base to be able to fend off that kind of manipulation of the religion that these groups are doing to convince them that this is the way that they can be the best Muslims they can be.

LOTHIAN: But some of the foreign recruits join the fight in Syria and Iraq with their eyes wide open. True believers in radical Islam. Professor Asani says they’re also lured by money, housing, wives, and a sense of belonging.

ASANI: You come and fight with us, and your visions, your ideas””you’re going to be valued. You’re going to be at the center of power.

LOTHIAN: And it’s not just young men. Three teenage girls from Denver, Colorado were detained in Germany after apparently trying to join Islamic militants in Syria. It’s reported dozens of French girls have also run away from home to sign up with ISIS.

Mia Bloom, professor of security studies at the University of Massachussetts, Lowell, has been investigating the recruiting of Western girls.

Read or watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Islam, Men, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth, Terrorism, Violence, Women, Young Adults

Bishop Robert Innes Welcomed in Brussels

Bishop Robert completed the third of his official Cathedral installations on Saturday 22 November 2014 with a rousing service in the Pro-Cathedral of Holy Trinity, Brussels ”“ the church where before consecration he served as Parish Priest.

You can find pictures here and his sermon there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Belgium, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Europe, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

Canon Alison Joyce interviewed by the Telegraph

She notes with sadness the general absence of religious coverage in the media ”“ “until there is a crisis, and then, all of a sudden, our voice is needed”. But rather than complain of prejudice, this practical, roll-up-your-sleeves -and-get-on-with-it Christian feels the onus is on churches to say something that is worth printing and broadcasting. And she doesn’t mean Thought for the Day. The mere mention makes her shudder.

Many of the first wave of women priests in the Church of England had been waiting for years, even decades, to be allowed the chance to follow their vocation. Alison Joyce, though, grew up in Sussex, in a house where religion was rarely mentioned.

“My parents were occasional churchgoers, but had no sense of Church membership. I can remember, when I was exploring faith in my mid-twenties, pinning my poor mother to the kitchen wall and saying: ”˜Explain the doctrine of the Trinity to me.’ There was fear in her eyes.”

Canon Joyce, you may have gathered, is not one for half-measures. It was during her postgraduate studies at Bristol that she found Anglicanism, but only after “a church crawl. I also went to the Orthodox, the Methodists, the Catholics and the Plymouth Brethren. As a non- churchgoer, I needed to know what was out there.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Women

(AP) ISIS Is Recruiting And Exploiting Children

Teenagers carrying weapons stand at checkpoints and busy intersections in Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul. Patched onto the left arms of their black uniforms are the logos of the Islamic Police.

In Raqqa, the Islamic State group’s de facto capital in Syria, boys attend training camp and religious courses before heading off to fight. Others serve as cooks or guards at the extremists’ headquarters or as spies, informing on people in their neighborhoods.

Across the vast region under IS control, the group is actively conscripting children for battle and committing abuses against the most vulnerable at a young age, according to a growing body of evidence assembled from residents, activists, independent experts and human rights groups.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

A Prayer at the Start of the Day from the Thought of Thomas Aquinas

Give us, O Lord, a steadfast heart, which no unworthy affection may drag downwards; give us an unconquered heart, which no tribulation can wear out; give us an upright heart, which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside. Bestow upon us also, O Lord our God, understanding to know thee, diligence to seek thee, wisdom to find thee, and a faithfulness that may finally embrace thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Uncategorized

From the Morning Bible Readings

Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

–Galatians 6:6-10

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Vancouver has become the first city in North America to permit prescription heroin–will it work?

Will Vancouver’s experiment work? Studies conducted in Europe””where prescription heroin is common””reveal that the programs have produced improved public health outcomes as well as reduced crime. Prescription narcotic abuse has been a significant problem in the United States, and heroin abuse is a large and growing problem in the country. A recent study from the Center on Disease Control found that heroin use increased 74 percent from 2009 to 2012, and that in 2012 Americans were twice as likely to suffer a fatal overdose than they were in 2010.

While the success of Vancouver’s experiment is far from assured, the city’s willingness to offer prescription heroin reflects a willingness to provide new opportunities for beleaguered addicts.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Canada, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Law & Legal Issues, Urban/City Life and Issues

(FT) World’s most advanced hacking spyware let loose

A cyber snooping operation reminiscent of the Stuxnet worm and billed as the world’s most sophisticated computer malware is targeting Russian and Saudi Arabian telecoms companies.

Cyber security company Symantec said the malware, called “Regin”, is probably run by a western intelligence agency and in some respects is more advanced in engineering terms than Stuxnet, which was developed by US and Israel government hackers in 2010 to target the Iranian nuclear programme.

The discovery of the latest hacking software comes as the head of Kaspersky Labs, the Russian company that helped uncover Stuxnet, told the Financial Times that criminals are now also hacking industrial control systems for financial gain.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Science & Technology, Theology

Residents of Charleston SC's One80 Place homeless shelter see hope for holidays despite hurdles

One80 Place, formerly Crisis Ministries, is spending its first Thanksgiving in a new home – and is giving hope to the hundreds who will pass through its new doors this season without food or shelter or much reason to feel thankful or merry at all.

Many arrive here after crashing hard onto the rock bottom of substance addictions. Others struggle with chronic mental illnesses. Few, if any, know the prosperity of local growth and development.

And most have suffered traumas such as sexual abuse and physical assaults. A surprising number have landed here, with only temporary shelter separating them from the streets, due to domestic abuse.

Read it all from the local paper.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Poverty, Urban/City Life and Issues