Monthly Archives: July 2017

(Patheos) Roger Olsen–Is There Any Solution to the Transgender Controversy?

Apparently, some self-identified transgender people want to use restrooms and locker rooms designated for the sex that they are not yet physiologically. In other words, they have not yet undergone, and perhaps do not plan ever to undergo, sex change surgery. So, to be very specific, a person with “male parts” who identifies as female wants to use the locker room designated for females….

…I do suspect the source of controversy is the idea of a person with “male parts” using a locker room designated for girls and women. (I suspect few men really care about females using restrooms or locker rooms designated for boys and men.) To be very specific: I suspect many men and women care about anyone with “male parts” using the same restroom or locker room as their daughters and granddaughters.

So let us please look at the controversy through that lens in order to clarify it.

I propose that we distinguish between gender and sex in this controversy and insist that a person use the locker room (restrooms are really less a problem because women’s have stalls) designated for the sex he or she still is—until he or she has completed sex change hormonally and surgically. Otherwise, the specter (realistic or not) of sexually male persons claiming to be women walking around naked (locker rooms have showers) in women’s locker rooms is unavoidable.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

(SA) Sydney Archbishop’s New Churches for New Communities unveils a 3-year fundraising plan for the construction of ministry facilities in growing areas

The Archbishop’s New Churches for New Communities (NCNC) has held a series of regional dinners, unveiling a three-year fundraising plan for the construction of ministry facilities in growing areas.

In partnership with the Mission Property Committee, which buys land, NCNC’s role is to raise funds to provide emerging congregations across the Diocese with dual-purpose facilities for community and church use.

“We are on a mission to preserve the future of Christianity in these growth areas and these facilities will enable emerging congregations to connect with the communities around them and grow together,” said the executive director of NCNC, the Rev Glenn Gardner.

There was an appeal at the dinners for parish councils to consider including NCNC in their mission allocations budget, and an appeal for ambassadors for this task. “Ours is the only Protestant denomination addressing this vital challenge,” Mr Gardner said.

Read it all.

Posted in Australia, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

(Local Paper) South Carolina historian Joseph McGill wants to observe the 1619 start of slavery in America

They were kidnapped from towns in Ndongo, given Christian names such as Isabella and Anthony, chained onto cramped bunks aboard a Portuguese slave ship for an 8,000-mile trip to Mexico. The ship didn’t make it.

It was plundered at sea by English pirates sailing under a Dutch flag. The pirates brought “20 and odd” of the African captives to the Jamestowne colony, where they were sold as “victualls,” or supplies.

The date was August 1619, and the sale is considered the beginning of slavery as an institution in what would become the United States.

Joseph McGill doesn’t think that should be forgotten.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Africa, America/U.S.A., England / UK, History, Mexico, Portugal, Race/Race Relations

(Good News) 2 Large Congregations Exit Methodism

The largest local church in the Mississippi Annual Conference in terms of worship attendance and one of the 25 fastest growing churches in the U.S. has now officially exited The United Methodist Church. According to lead pastor Bryan Collier, The Orchard Church (Tupelo) reached a settlement with conference leaders that made its departure official as of May 19, 2017….

“There was just no question among [The Orchard’s] leaders that this was right move for us,” said Collier. “Our departure was not about the homosexuality issue per se, but about the general church’s inability to deal with it. Unfortunately, its failure became an enormous distraction to the kingdom work our congregation is called to do.”

“The Orchard fully embraces, as it does with all people, its need to minister to those who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered, and with their families and friends as well,” said Collier. “But the denomination was not helping us do that. The Judicial Council’s recent, convoluted decision is emblematic of [the UM Church’s] inability to put the disagreement to rest. We didn’t want to let this one issue distract us anymore. We know the arguments on both sides, we’re clear in our hearts and minds where we stand, and we’re prepared to move forward accordingly.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Methodist, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Tablet) The Australian R Catholic Church opposes Victoria euthanasia legislation

Archbishop Hart commended efforts to strengthen and better resource Palliative Care but said that was a minimum necessity.

“While the report recommends what it calls safeguards, the truth is that these safeguards are never going to be enough and that there are no flawless medical procedures,” he said. “All procedures and interventions can have complications. I have watched supporters of this proposal and they are going out of their way to convince us that assisted suicide is acceptable, seeking to lessen our human, moral and natural distress because of suicide.

“It seems that on the one hand we are seeking to lessen suicide in our society – an admirable aim – but here we have this report looking to normalise it. When viewed from the perspective of the whole Victorian community these two objectives cannot be reconciled.”

The archbishop said the legislation would impose extraordinary and unreasonable responsibilities on medical professionals, who would be called upon to determine which patients were eligible and how the safeguards were to be applied. This then became a matter for decisions by medical practitioners and not the patients for whom they were required to care.

Read it all.

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Frank Colquhoun

Almighty God, who in thy Son Jesus Christ hast called us in from the bondage of sin to be servants of righteousness: Give us grace to yield our lives wholly to thine obedience; that, being made free from sin, we may have our fruit unto holiness, and hereafter may be made partakers of the life everlasting; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in.
Who is the King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory!

–Psalm 24:7-10

Posted in Theology: Scripture

A Collect for Saturdays

Almighty God, who after the creation of the world rested from all you works and sanctified a day of rest for all your creatures: Grant that we, putting away all earthly anxieties, may be duly prepared for the service of your sanctuary, and that our rest here upon earth may be a preparation for the eternal rest promised to your people in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

(Globe+Mail) As our Northern Neighbors See us-The Trump administration is at war w/ itself, +Trump loves it

Why Can’t He Be Our President?” is the question Rolling Stone slapped on the cover of their most recent issue, featuring Justin Trudeau. Given who’s currently occupying the White House, leading an administration powered by a combustible mix of chaos and malice, the headline is understandable. No, it’s inarguable. The editorial sentiment would have been the same if America’s northern neighbour were led by Andrew Scheer or Tom Mulcair or anyone, really, other than the current President.

Yes, Donald Trump has yet to appoint his horse to the Senate. Then again, we’re only one-eighth of the way through his first term.

Mr. Trump made his name as a builder, but his presidency has so far been more of a demolition project. Sometimes he’s swinging a wrecking ball at adversaries. Sometimes it’s allies. Sometimes it’s his own administration, his own agenda and his own reputation. Sometimes it’s all of the above.

Read it all.

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

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Canada, Ethics / Moral Theology, Office of the President, President Donald Trump

(Nyasa Times) The Anglican Bishop of the Upper Shire calls for the relevance of Christianity

In an interview from Zimbabwe, Bishop Malasa said he also asked the faithful to pray for one another, the Church and the country, because they are salt and light of the world where justice, peace and freedom should always prevail.

“When people chose to be greedy, jealousy, self-centeredness and corrupt, things does not work out for the majority, so we should be praying that this vice should go, and that every person should appreciate the need of the other,” said the Rt. Rev. Malasa.

The Bishop explained that Christianity is irrelevant when its followers do not show love, mercy, humility, peace and compassion on others, adding that the clergy have to cultivate a spirit of servant leadership.

Read it all.

Posted in Nigeria, Zimbabwe

Irwin Stelzer–The Opioid Crisis Is Creating a Labor Crisis

If you wonder what is supposed to happen when the demand for labor outruns the available supply, take a look at the picture below. It’s a Starbucks plea for baristas-the usually young people who make your latte, americano, or coconut milk mocha macchiato every morning. True, this particular branch is located in small-town Colorado, a state in which the unemployment rate is around 2 percent, far below the approximately 6 percent considered “full employment” when I was teaching this stuff. Still, even after recent increases in hourly wage rates, and introduction of an attractive benefits package that includes free college tuition and health care, and free access to Spotify, which I am told is some sort of music app, Starbucks is having trouble filling its ranks.

The Seattle-based chain is not the only employer struggling to find staff. The problem is widespread. One construction executive told me he cannot find roofers, those who left the trade during the Great Recession having found easier and steadier work driving UPS and FedEx vans. A property developer with a $1 billion annual budget has the land on which to build to houses, but can’t find workers, skilled and unskilled, to build them. Amazon, which needs 50,000 workers to fill new positions, 40,000 of them full-time, many with starting salaries of about $13 an hour, will be holding a job fair next week and expects to face difficulties finding suitable candidates. Employers uniformly tell me that higher wages would not attract the workers they need. Before responding, “They would say that, wouldn’t they?” consider opioids.

As Fed chair Janet Yellen told a Senate committee recently, the opioid epidemic is contributing to the labor shortage. Opioids are just the thing to kill the pain of a tooth extraction. For two or three days. And a blessing for the terminally ill. But they are a bane for those who abuse them, and a factor to be considered when analyzing the labor market. Yellen testified, “We’ve had many decades of declining labor force participation by prime-age men. … We’ve seen now unfortunately that it is likely tied to the opioid crisis. … I don’t know if it’s causal, or it’s a symptom of long-running economic maladies that have affected these communities.” One iteration of the now-failed Senate health care bill included $45 billion to combat opioid abuse.

Read it all.

Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(Flowing Data) Marrying Later, Staying Single Longer–Here’s the shifts between 1900 and 2015

Everyone has their own timeline for marriage (if at all), and a number of factors can play a part, whether it be finishing an education, establishing a career, or finding the right person. But looking over the past century, as a whole, people are staying single longer and marrying later.

Using data from the decennial census and the American Community Survey, you can see this shift.

The charts that follow show the timelines in animated form. Each line represents the percentage of people with a certain marital status, given their age. The time span is every 10 years, from 1900 to 2010 and ending at 2015.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Marriage & Family

(Bloomberg) American weddings are getting rarer and smaller—but not cheaper

You’re not the only one spending fewer summer weekends watching other people get married—but don’t worry, the weddings you’re still invited to might feel a little more special these days.

Fewer Americans are getting married, and the ones who still are have scaled back their weddings. Their nuptials are becoming smaller, though not necessarily cheaper, affairs.

Many couples are waiting longer and longer to schedule their weddings. In 2015, the median first-time American bride was almost 28 years old and the median groom almost 30, according to the most recent data available from the Census Bureau. (Ten years earlier, the typical bride was 25.5, the typical groom 27.)

The U.S. marriage rate—the number of new marriages per 1,000 people—has been falling for decades. It fell especially fast during the recession, in 2008 and 2009, but there’s little evidence that people started getting married again even as the economy recovered. And research firm IbisWorld predicts the marriage rate will keep falling over the next five years.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Marriage & Family, Personal Finance & Investing, Sociology

(NPR) Thomas Hegghammer: Aesthetics, Culture Key To Understanding Jihadists

MCEVERS: Just describe this what you call rich aesthetic culture that these jihadis have. Besides the weeping during prayer, what else are we talking about here?

HEGGHAMMER: Yeah, so it’s basically a very sensitive aesthetic universe we’re dealing with, with poetry, singing, art, graphic art, visual art and a whole lot of religious rituals – a lot of things that seem to have no purpose, no kind of military function. And this is what got me interested in this to begin with. It was that you had these hunted men – because terrorists are hunted men. They’re short on time and resources. And you should expect them to spend all their time on useful things like building bombs or writing propaganda or raising funds. But here they are doing all these seemingly useless things. And that I thought was really, really fascinating.

MCEVERS: I mean, I think one reason this might be surprising to people is we think of jihadis as people who forbid culture, right? No pictures. No music. No – I mean, music in the sense that we understand it, right?

HEGGHAMMER: That is right. And there are some kind of boundaries to the creative expression here. For example, they don’t use instruments in their music because instruments are believed to have the potential of arousing sexual desires. So they stay clear of instruments. But they use a cappella voices very creatively so it really sounds like music with instruments.

Read it all.

Posted in Islam, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Mary and Martha [and Lazarus] of Bethany

Generous God, whose Son Jesus Christ enjoyed the friendship and hospitality of Mary, Martha and Lazarus of Bethany: Open our hearts to love thee, our ears to hear thee, and our hands to welcome and serve thee in others, through Jesus Christ our risen Lord; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer