Daily Archives: March 27, 2015

The Economist on Robert Putnam's new book–Class and family in America: Minding the nurture gap

Stunningly, Mr Putnam finds that family background is a better predictor of whether or not a child will graduate from university than 8th-grade test scores. Kids in the richest quarter with low test scores are as likely to make it through college as kids in the poorest quarter with high scores….

There are no obvious villains in this story. Mr Murray suggested that the educated classes preach the values they practise by urging the poor to get married before they have children. But the record of those who tell other people how to arrange their love lives is hardly encouraging. Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama preached the virtues of responsible fatherhood, to no obvious effect.

Mr Putnam sees “no clear path to reviving marriage” among the poor. Instead, he suggests a grab-bag of policies to help poor kids reach their potential, such as raising subsidies for poor families, teaching them better parenting skills, improving nursery care and making after-school baseball clubs free. He urges all 50 states to experiment to find out what works. A problem this complex has no simple solution.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Books, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Theology

(WSJ) Georgette Bennett–An Unusual Religious Alliance to Aid Refugees

Last month I visited the Syrian refugee camp in Jordan known as Za’atari. With 80,000 occupants, the camp would be the fourth-largest city in Jordan. It occupies a vast desert plain, filled with endless rows of tents that are gradually being replaced with rows of metal-sided caravans. Za’atari is a dreary place, but it is teeming with resilient people.

Residents of camps like Za’atari make up only 20% of the nearly four million refugees who have fled Syria. The rest live in cities, where they are often unregistered and therefore ineligible for services. These refugees tend to live in squalor and are vulnerable to exploitation. Nearly 80% of the refugees are women and children. These figures don’t include the 12.2 million within Syria who are either internally displaced or in urgent need of help.

About 200,000 people have been killed in Syria, many after torture. A photographer, who documented these horrors for the regime but defected, smuggled his photos out of Syria; they were passed on to me by a Syrian non-governmental organization. These emaciated, disfigured corpses could be skeletal Jewish inmates photographed during the liberation of Dachau, but they aren’t. They are Syrian Muslims and Christians””and this is happening now.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Judaism, Middle East, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Poverty, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Syria, Theology, Violence

NZ Bible Society publishes a waterproof New Testament to commemorate WWI

The NZ Bible Society has published a commemorative Defence Force New Testament to mark the centennial of WWI.

1500 of the newly minted New Testaments (with Proverbs and Psalms) will be gifted to the NZ Defence Force in an official ceremony next month.

Defence Force Chief, Lieutenant General Tim Keating, says in his foreword to the edition,

“This commemorative edition of the New Testament reminds us of this sacrifice made by New Zealanders 100 years ago, and of the book that brought so many of them peace and comfort as they fought.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Books, Church History, Defense, National Security, Military, Religion & Culture

(Anglican Ink) Bishop of Christchurch resigns from New Zealand Same-sex marriage study group

‘…Bishop Matthews wrote she had informed the chairman of the commission Bruce Gray QC and Archbishop Philip Richardson “I am aware that this matter in the Diocese of Christchurch is causing a high level of angst on all sides. I decided I would be unable to minister effectively in this Diocese and also have membership on the Way Forward Working Group as time progressed. My resignation was a matter of maintaining my integrity and is in no way a judgment on the work that the Way Forward Working Group is attempting to achieve for the next General Synod.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Local Paper) Coastal South Carolina remains a national hot spot for population growth

If the brisk pace of population growth and development along South Carolina’s coast seems unusual, that’s not your imagination.

The latest Census Bureau estimates show that few metropolitan areas in the nation are growing so quickly.

Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head and Charleston were the three fastest-growing metro areas on the Atlantic Coast in 2014, as they were in 2013.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Census/Census Data, Economy, Politics in General, State Government, The U.S. Government

The National Peace Committee calls for credible, peaceful polls in Nigeria this weekend

The National Peace Committee for the 2015 General Elections, headed by former Head of State General Abdulsalami Abubakar, yesterday met behind closed-doors with President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja.

Members of the committee in attendance included the Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, Primate Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah, among others.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Ethics / Moral Theology, Nigeria, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Church Times) Richard III goes to his grave watched by thousands

Most of the music for compline was by English composers, all immaculately sung as plainsong by the senior trebles and adults of the cathedral choir. The centrepiece of the service was Herbert Howells’s motet, “Take him, earth, for cherishing”, based on a poem by the Roman Christian poet Prudentius, and composed for John F. Kennedy’s memorial service.

The RC Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, preached a sermon that emphasised the brutality of medieval wars and the tumultuous life and times of Richard III, a “child of war”, a “refugee in Europe”, whose reign was marked by unrest and who remained a controversial figure in the continual re-assessment of the Tudor period, “when saints can become bones and bones can become saints”.

Baptism did not give holiness of life but gave it enduring shape, he reflected, describing the king as “a man of prayer, of anxious devotions”. The Franciscans, Cardinal Nichols believed, would have buried Richard with prayer, even though that burial – which followed the ignominious parading of his naked and violently wounded body through the streets after the battle – had been hasty. He ended with the prayer that Richard “be embraced in God’s merciful love”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, History, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

The Economist on Mike Smith's new book "Boko Haram: Inside Nigeria’s Unholy War"

Much has been written about extremist groups such as IS and al-Qaeda, which directly threaten Westerners at home or abroad. But little is understood about Boko Haram, its leaders and its beliefs. This is partly because it has made little effort to explain itself to the wider world, unlike jihadists such as IS who reach out to potential recruits using social media, and partly because journalists are unable to enter territory it controls safely. Moreover, its limited regional focus means that most Western intelligence agencies have viewed it as posing little international threat.

This book by Mike Smith, a journalist, sheds light both on its crackpot ideas””Yusuf insisted that the world was flat and that rain was made by God””and on the deep contradictions faced by people who propose to return to a sixth-century lifestyle. When asked why he had computer equipment and hospital facilities at his home, Yusuf replied, “These are technological products. Western education is different. Western education is westernisation.”

Yusuf’s successor, Abubakar Shekau, is a particularly enigmatic figure who is known largely through the brief videos his group has released. In one he justifies selling into slavery the schoolgirls kidnapped in Chibok: “Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell.” Each time Nigerian forces claim to have killed him, new videos emerge, though security officials question whether the same person appears in all the grainy images.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

Charles Henry Brent for his Feast Day–A Historical Plaque for Him from Ontario, Canada

Confronted by the devastating moral and physical effects of opium addiction, Brent became an uncompromising advocate of drug control. He urged international co-operation in eradicating drug abuse and served as president of the Opium Commission at Shanghai (1909) and the Opium Conference at The Hague (1911-12).

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Alcohol/Drinking, Alcoholism, Canada, Church History, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Religion & Culture

Charles Henry Brent for his Feast Day–Bp Mark Lawrence's address on him in 2008

In 1899 a relatively obscure priest working in a City Mission in the slums of South Boston was compiling a book on prayer from articles he had written for the Saint Andrew’s Cross, a magazine of the recently established lay order of the Protestant Episcopal Church known as the Brotherhood of St. Andrew. Seven years before, this celibate priest had left the Order of the Cowley Father’s whose House was just across the Charles River in Cambridge. Although he left the order over a dispute between his superior, Fr. A. C. A. Hall and the Order’s Father Superior in England, the young priest never left the inward embrace of the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience””even less did he leave behind the spiritual disciplines of the religious life he had learned so well under Fr. Hall’s steady hand. Somewhere between his pastoral and social work among the sordidness and squalor of the South End””replete with red light district, street waifs, immigrants and vagrants”” and his late night vigils of intercessory prayer or early mornings spent in meditation, not to mention the full round of parish duties, he found the time to write. In the final chapter of his little book, With God in the World, he wrote words that now appear as strangely prescient for his own life: “Men””we are not thinking of butterflies””cannot exist without difficulty. To be shorn of it means death, because inspiration is bound up with it, and inspiration is the breath of God, without the constant influx of which man ceases to be a living soul. Responsibility is the sacrament of inspiration. . . . The fault of most modern prophets is not that they present too high an ideal, but an ideal that is sketched with a faltering hand; the appeal to self-sacrifice is too timid and imprecise, the challenge to courage is too low-voiced, with the result that the tide of inspiration ebbs and flows.” He was to parse this belief taking root in his soul, with the phrase “the inspiration of responsibility”. Within two short years he would have the opportunity to test these words with his life.

His name was Charles Henry Brent, born the son of an Anglican clergyman from New Castle, Ontario in 1862. How Charles Brent, a Canadian by birth, came to be a priest in of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts and under the episcopacy of the renowned Phillips Brooks, and later, the almost equally celebrated Bishop William Lawrence, is itself an interesting story we haven’t time to explore. Suffice to say that God seemed to be grooming through the seemingly quixotic twists and turns of providence a bishop not merely for the church or for one nation, but for the world””a man, of whom it could be said, he was Everybody’s Bishop.

You may find Part One there and Part Two here. Take the time to read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC)

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Charles Henry Brent

Heavenly Father, whose Son did pray that we all might be one: deliver us, we beseech thee, from arrogance and prejudice, and give us wisdom and forbearance, that, following thy servant Charles Henry Brent, we may be united in one family with all who confess the Name of thy Son Jesus Christ: who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Missions, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Christina Rossetti

O God of patience and consolation, grant we beseech thee that with free hearts we may love and serve thee and our brethren; and, having thus the mind of Christ, may begin heaven on earth, and exercise ourselves therein till that day when heaven, where love abideth, shall seem no strange habitation to us; for Jesus Christ’s sake.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams which they dream, for it is a lie which they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, says the Lord.

“For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfil to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart….

–Jeremiah 29:4-13

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

From the Do not Take Yourself too Seriously Deprtment–THIN MINTS

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Humor / Trivia

Why so many empty church pews? Here's what money, sex, divorce and TV are doing to American Relgn

America’s churches are in trouble, and they are in trouble in communities that arguably need them the most.

One of the tragic tales told by Harvard scholar Robert Putnam in his important new book, “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis,” is that America’s churches have grown weakest in some of the communities that need them most: poor and working-class communities across the country. The way he puts it, our nation’s churches, synagogues and mosques give children a sense of meaning, belonging and purpose ”” in a word, hope ”” that allows them to steer clear of trouble, from drugs to delinquency, and toward a bright and better future, warmer family relationships and significantly higher odds of attending college.

The tragedy is that even though religious involvement “makes a bigger difference in the lives of poor kids than rich kids,” Putnam writes, involvement is dropping off fastest among children from the least privileged background, as the figure below indicates.

Read it all from Brad Wilcox in the Washington Post.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, History, Marriage & Family, Movies & Television, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sociology, Theology