Daily Archives: May 26, 2015

(Gallup) Americans Greatly Overestimate Percent of Gay, Lesbian Persons in the U.S.

The American public estimates on average that 23% of Americans are gay or lesbian, little changed from Americans’ 25% estimate in 2011, and only slightly higher than separate 2002 estimates of the gay and lesbian population. These estimates are many times higher than the 3.8% of the adult population who identified themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender in Gallup Daily tracking in the first four months of this year.

The stability of these estimates over time contrasts with the major shifts in Americans’ attitudes about the morality and legality of gay and lesbian relations in the past two decades. Whereas 38% of Americans said gay and lesbian relations were morally acceptable in 2002, that number has risen to 63% today. And while 35% of Americans favored legalized same-sex marriage in 1999, 60% favor it today.

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Psychology, Sexuality, Sociology, Theology

Economist Don House–Methodist Church is in crisis but hope if+only if its turned around in 15 years

The United Methodist Church has only 15 years to reverse its decline in the United States if it is to have a sustainable future, an economist warned church leaders.

At the same gathering, the church leaders discussed possible missional goals to address that decline and enhance the global denomination’s ministries around the world.

“By 2030, the denomination in the United States will either have found a way to turn around, meaning it is growing, or its turnaround in the United States is not possible,” Donald R. House Sr. told the May 19 combined meeting of the Connectional Table and the General Council on Finance and Administration board. “By 2050, the connection will have collapsed.”

In other words, he predicted that unless things change soon, the denomination in coming decades will not have enough U.S. churches to pay for its connectional structures. Such structures include conferences, bishops, agencies, missions and international disaster response.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Christology, Evangelism and Church Growth, Methodist, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, Theology

(Telegraph) Sacred Mysteries: Christopher Howse on a family on the edge of the Muslim empire

In 1967, as part of the Communist campaign to make Albania an “atheist state”, the 400-year-old church at Laç was destroyed with explosives. Until then it had borne an inscription recording its consecration in 1557 by “Giovanni Bruni, Archbishop of Bar”.

Bruni’s extraordinary life (and more extraordinary death) feature in a remarkable new book by Sir Noel Malcolm, the Oxford historian. With unpublished manuscript evidence, it paints a portrait of the Bruni family, before and after the battle of Lepanto in 1571. What distinguishes the book is the way it integrates their tale into the power struggle between Spain and France, Venice and Rome, and, that behemoth of the Levant, the Ottoman Empire, ruled from 1566 to 1574 by Selim II (pictured here). The soldiers, spies and clerics of the Bruni family were among the Agents of Empire of the title. I can’t tell you how good it is, a future classic. My purpose here, though, is not to review the book but to mention a single fascinating chapter.

Giovanni Bruni was an Albanian speaker, born at Ulcinj (now in Montenegro), then part of Venetian Albania. In the little city of Bar, of which he became Archbishop in 1551, there were 18 churches, with another 48 in the rural parts of the diocese, which extended into the regions beyond the coast occupied by the Turks. Among Bruni’s titles was Primate of Serbia. But, if his task was great, his income was pitiful.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Europe, History, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Serbia

(G+M) George Petrolekas-After Ramadi, Canada should question U.S. strategy to defeat ISIS

So nine months into this campaign, is the strategy working, and are the losses of cities like Ramadi temporary setbacks ”“ just bricks and mortar and not symbolic of anything, to paraphrase General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff in recent congressional trestimony?

Clearly, the strategy has severe problems. To have any chance of succeeding in its present form, it must be seriously re-tuned or altered.

The first is that the air campaign is proving unable to contain IS. It has had successes, most notably in areas like Kobani or around Mosul, where it has degraded IS at the fringes. On the one hand, where it has utterly rooted out IS, as in Kobani, it is difficult to claim a victory after four months of bombing left the city in ruins and likely in need of billions of dollars to repair. On the other hand, while the IS advance has been stopped in places, not enough air power is available to gut the economic wherewithal of IS. The recent success in Ramadi demonstrates that IS can move where air power is not. The coalition’s undisputed technical superiority does not translate into numerical sufficiency.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Canada, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Iraq, Middle East, Politics in General, Terrorism, Theology

In Charleston, SC, area, Veterans, families pack Patriots Point to mark Memorial Day

One by one, they stood. Two or three veterans from World War II, 10 or so who served in the Korean War, even more from Vietnam and then a large number of servicemen and women who served in Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Several hundred people ”“ including numerous veterans and active-duty military ”“ gathered inside a hangar on the USS Yorktown Monday at Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum to honor those who have fought or died while serving in the United States’ armed forces.

The Memorial Day event recognized the sacrifices soldiers and their families have made with a series of videos, prayers, a wreath-casting ceremony and a performance by the Eyrie Overtones handbell choir from Northside Christian School in North Charleston.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, History, Military / Armed Forces

(CC) Samuel Wells–Desired Things

Be your own size. There are 300 billion stars in our own galaxy and a hundred billion galaxies in the universe. Before you tell everyone not to start the party until you arrive, take in the enormity of that reality and your tiniest part in it. Before you say to someone, “Do you know who I am?” ask yourself, in light of the scale of the universe and its venerable age, “Who exactly am I?” Look at the earth, which you share with so many living beings. Many of the tiny ones scurry and multiply in hidden ways that make it possible for you to breathe, heal, digest, and sleep. Realize how you take for granted that the sun will rise tomorrow. If it wasn’t so, what could you do about it? Your life rests in an ecology that you will never live long enough to comprehend, much less thank.

Be gentle. Remember the physician’s mantra, “First, do no harm.” In the words of William Blake, “We are put on earth a little space, / That we may learn to bear the beams of love.” There is so much that we’ve never even paused to imagine. When we look to right and left, we see others who know as little as we do. People tend to do the best they can with what they have and what they know. A little compassion, a little generosity of heart helps us look to our fellow creatures with gentleness rather than bitterness, anger, or condemnation. How often have you commented on what another person said or did with horror, fury, or scorn, only to find yourself, ten years or ten minutes later, saying or doing the same thing? Be sparing with your scorn, lest it rebound on you and make you lamentable in your own sight.

Be a person of praise and blessing.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

How ISIS' Win in Ramadi Reveals New Weapons, Tactical Sophistication and Prowess

In late April, a commander for Islamic State said his forces were ready to launch an offensive to take Ramadi, and the group called for fighters to redeploy to Iraq from Syria.

Three weeks later, the jihadist group seized the capital of Anbar province after relentless waves of suicide bombings.

U.S. defense chief Ash Carter has blamed Ramadi’s fall mainly on Iraqi forces’ lack of will to fight. But Islamic State’s battlefield performance suggests the terrorist group’s tactical sophistication is growing””a development the Iraqis and the U.S.-led coalition have so far failed to counter, said Iraqi officials, former U.S. officials and military analysts studying the organization.

An examination of how Ramadi fell indicates that Islamic State commanders executed a complex battle plan that outwitted a greater force of Iraqi troops as well as the much-lauded, U.S.-trained special-operations force known as the Golden Division, which had been fighting for months to defend the city.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

Kendall Harmon's Sermon for Pentecost 2015

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Posted in * By Kendall, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ecclesiology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pentecost, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Augustine of Canterbury

O Lord our God, who by thy Son Jesus Christ didst call thine apostles and send them forth to preach the Gospel to the nations: We bless thy holy name for thy servant Augustine, first Archbishop of Canterbury, whose labors in propagating thy Church among the English people we commemorate today; and we pray that all whom thou dost call and send may do thy will, and bide thy time, and see thy glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from George Appleton

O Jesus Christ, who art the same yesterday, today and forever: Pour thy Spirit upon the Church that it may preach thee anew to each succeeding generation. Grant that it may interpret the eternal gospel in terms relevant to the life of each new age, and as the fulfillment of the highest hopes and the deepest needs of every nation; so that at all times and in all places men may see in thee their Lord and Saviour.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

O LORD, I love the habitation of thy house, and the place where thy glory dwells.

–Psalm 26:8

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Michael Yon) Email from a US War Hero and former POW in Vietnam

In many cases skill identifiers or other terms are used to describe the soldiers of today. My mind always goes back to a bus station in Cincinnati Ohio in the dark of the night after I had been shown the door by my Christian boarding school in Kentucky. Thrown out for being too “California” in my senior year I figured my life was over before really beginning. Being on the honor roll could not keep you in school if the girls across campus liked you because that was verboten and you had been sent by Satan to tempt them. Late that night the dregs of the earth came out of their lairs with ”˜Where you heading boy?’ Then a clear voice of authority; “Leave him alone or I will stomp you into the cement with these jump boots.”

I asked who and what he was and the paratrooper from Fort Campbell Kentucky said simply “I am a soldier, come with me.” He bought me a grilled cheese and a cup of hot chocolate and an hour or so later he put me on a bus to Lima Ohio where I had family because the good religious folk at Mount Carmel High School saw no need to send me home to California. I told the airborne corporal he might see me again because I had decided in that bus station to become this thing called “soldier.”

I finally got back to California and my dad put his foot down and made my mom agree to sign for me to join the U.S. Army to be a soldier. Of course, I did not tell my mother my goal was to be a soldier like the bus station corporal but told her I would be a nuclear engineer or chaplain’s assistant….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Military / Armed Forces, Teens / Youth

A Litany from The Book of Worship for United States Forces (1974)

Leader: Let us give thanks to God for the land of our birth with all its chartered liberties. For all the wonder of our country’s story:

PEOPLE: WE GIVE YOU THANKS, O GOD.

Leader: For leaders in nation and state, and for those who in days past and in these present times have labored for the commonwealth:

PEOPLE: WE GIVE YOU THANKS, O GOD.

Leader: For those who in all times and places have been true and brave, and in the world’s common ways have lived upright lives and ministered to their fellows:

PEOPLE: WE GIVE YOU THANKS, O GOD.

Leader: For those who served their country in its hour of need, and especially for those who gave even their lives in that service:

PEOPLE: WE GIVE YOU THANKS, O GOD.

Leader: O almighty God and most merciful Father, as we remember these your servants, remembering with gratitude their courage and strength, we hold before you those who mourn them. Look upon your bereaved servants with your mercy. As this day brings them memories of those they have lost awhile, may it also bring your consolation and the assurance that their loved ones are alive now and forever in your living presence.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Military / Armed Forces, Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer

In Pictures: Memorial Day 2015

Take a look at all 30 of them.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Defense, National Security, Military, Marriage & Family, Military / Armed Forces, Parish Ministry

O CAPTAIN! my Captain!

O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up””for you the flag is flung””for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths””for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

–Walt Whitman (1819”“1892)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Military / Armed Forces, Parish Ministry, Poetry & Literature