Daily Archives: December 7, 2017

(CT) Evangelical vs. Born Again: A Survey of What Americans Say and Believe Beyond Politics

For all the handwringing over what the term evangelical means in the political moment of Donald Trump and Roy Moore, only 1 in 100 Americans would take on the term if it had nothing to do with politics.

Meanwhile, the label is primarily a political identity for only about 1 in 10 self-identified evangelicals.

Overall, 1 in 4 Americans today consider themselves to be evangelicals. But less than half actually hold evangelical beliefs.

And when defined by beliefs and not by identity, evangelicals are less white (58% vs. 70%), more black (23% vs. 14%), and more likely to worship weekly (73% vs. 61%). However, they are not more likely to be Republican or Democrat.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Media, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sociology

Remembering Pearl Harbor 76 years later today

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Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Military / Armed Forces

(ABC) In Australia Same-sex marriage signed into law by Governor-General, first weddings to happen from January 9

Same-sex couples who have already married overseas will have their relationships recognised in Australia from midnight tonight.

After the drama and excitement of the same-sex marriage bill passing the House of Representatives chamber yesterday, the Governor-General signed off on it this morning.

Attorney-General George Brandis said couples had to give a month’s notice of their intention to marry, so the first same-sex weddings will be able to happen from January 9.

Senator Brandis said he became quite emotional when the bill passed and the public galleries erupted with cheers and singing.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

([London] Times) Google’s DeepMind robot becomes world-beating chess grandmaster in four hours

“Many have become chess masters; no one has become the master of chess.” So said Siegbert Tarrasch, one of the most eminent players of the 19th and 20th centuries. In the 21st century, however, the foe appears at last to have been overcome, and what’s more it was managed in little more than the time between breakfast and lunch.

Google’s DeepMind artificial intelligence algorithm taught itself hundreds of years of chess knowledge and tactics and then surpassed all previous human invention in the game — all in four hours. Its AlphaZero program was given the basic rules and worked out unique winning strategies by playing games against itself numerous times, according to details published by New York’s Cornell University. The research has yet to be peer reviewed.

Google’s DeepMind division said that it played 100 games against Stockfish 8, the world-leading specialist software, and won or drew them all, with each program given one minute to ponder each move.

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Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Science & Technology

Newcastle Anglican Diocese had ‘do-nothing’ approach to child sex abuse claims, royal commission finds

The royal commission into child sexual abuse has found powerful paedophiles in the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle were operating under weak church leadership.

Thursday’s report follows another into the national Anglican Church which found that every church diocese in the country, bar one, had received complaints of child sexual abuse in the past 35 years.

The commission looked at alleged child abuse, bullying and cover-ups within the Newcastle diocese, producing a report of more than 400 pages just on the Newcastle Anglicans.

It has found former Newcastle Anglican Bishop Roger Herft’s response to abuse was “weak, ineffectual and noted a failure of leadership”.

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Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Children, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

(AP) America’s homeless population rises for first time in years

The nation’s homeless population increased this year for the first time since 2010, driven by a surge in the number of people living on the streets in Los Angeles and other West Coast cities.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released its annual Point in Time count Wednesday, a report that showed nearly 554,000 homeless people across the country during local tallies conducted in January. That figure is up nearly 1 percent from 2016.

Of that total, 193,000 people had no access to nightly shelter and instead were staying in vehicles, tents, the streets and other places considered uninhabitable. The unsheltered figure is up by more than 9 percent compared to two years ago.

Increases are higher in several West Coast cities, where the explosion in homelessness has prompted at least 10 city and county governments to declare states of emergency since 2015.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Poverty

(NYT) Praise and Alarm From American Jews Over President Trump’s Jerusalem Move

If he was hoping for thunderous applause from American Jews, President Trump may be disappointed.

His announcement on Wednesday that he will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital went down well with those on the political right, who have urged the step for years. They will be telling him so at the White House Hanukkah party on Thursday, they said.

But other Jewish leaders said they were more worried than glad, fearing that the precipitous step would inflame tensions in the region, provoke more terrorism, put peace with the Palestinians even farther out of reach, and worsen the diplomatic isolation of both Israel and the United States. They say they wish he had held off, as previous presidents have done.

“Jerusalem has always been the most delicate issue in every discussion about peace,” said Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, the largest branch of American Judaism. “So we’re very concerned that the announcement will either delay or undermine the very, very important resuming of a serious peace process.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Israel, Judaism, Middle East, Other Faiths, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

Ambrose on the Holy Spirit for his Feast Day

The Holy Spirit, since He sanctifies creatures, is neither a creature nor subject to change. He is always good, since He is given by the Father and the Son; neither is He to be numbered among such things as are said to fail. He must be acknowledged as the source of goodness. The Spirit of God’s mouth, the amender of evils, and Himself good. Lastly, as He is said in Scripture to be good, and is joined to the Father and the Son in baptism, He cannot possibly be denied to be good. He is not, however, said to progress, but to be made perfect in goodness, which distinguishes Him from all creatures.

The Holy Spirit is not, then, of the substance of things corporeal, for He sheds incorporeal grace on corporeal things; nor, again, is He of the substance of invisible creatures, for they receive His sanctification, and through Him are superior to the other works of the universe. Whether you speak of Angels, or Dominions, or Powers, every creature waits for the grace of the Holy Spirit. For as we are children through the Spirit, because God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts crying, Abba, Father; so that you are now not a servant but a son; Galatians 4:6-7 in like manner, also, every creature is waiting for the revelation of the sons of God, whom in truth the grace of the Holy Spirit made sons of God. Therefore, also, every creature itself shall be changed by the revelation of the grace of the Spirit, and shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.

Every creature, then, is subject to change, not only such as has been changed by some sin or condition of the outward elements, but also such as can be liable to corruption by a fault of nature, though by careful discipline it be not yet so; for, as we have shown in a former treatise, the nature of Angels evidently can be changed. It is certainly fitting to judge that such as is the nature of one, such also is that of others. The nature of the rest, then, is capable of change, but the discipline is better.

Every creature, therefore, is capable of change, but the Holy Spirit is good and not capable of change, nor can He be changed by any fault,

Saint Ambrose On the Holy Spirit (Book I), Chapter 5

Posted in Church History, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Ambrose

O God, who didst give to thy servant Ambrose grace eloquently to declare thy righteousness in the great congregation, and fearlessly to bear reproach for the honor of thy Name: Mercifully grant to all bishops and pastors such excellency in preaching, and fidelity in ministering thy Word, that thy people may be partakers with them of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Book Of English Collects

Grant, O Almighty God, that as thy blessed Son Jesus Christ at his first advent came to seek and to save that which was lost, so at his second and glorious appearing he may find in us the fruits of the redemption which he wrought; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God world without end. Amen.

–John Wallace Suter, Jr, The Book Of English Collects (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1940)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

“I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities,
and lack of bread in all your places,
yet you did not return to me,”
says the Lord.

“And I also withheld the rain from you
when there were yet three months to the harvest;
I would send rain upon one city,
and send no rain upon another city;
one field would be rained upon,
and the field on which it did not rain withered;
so two or three cities wandered to one city
to drink water, and were not satisfied;
yet you did not return to me,”
says the Lord.

“I smote you with blight and mildew;
I laid waste your gardens and your vineyards;
your fig trees and your olive trees the locust devoured;
yet you did not return to me,”
says the Lord.

“I sent among you a pestilence after the manner of Egypt;
I slew your young men with the sword;
I carried away your horses;
and I made the stench of your camp go up into your nostrils;
yet you did not return to me,”
says the Lord.

“I overthrew some of you,
as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomor′rah,
and you were as a brand plucked out of the burning;
yet you did not return to me,”
says the Lord.

“Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel;
because I will do this to you,
prepare to meet your God, O Israel!”

For lo, he who forms the mountains, and creates the wind,
and declares to man what is his thought;
who makes the morning darkness,
and treads on the heights of the earth—
the Lord, the God of hosts, is his name!

–Amos 4:6-13

Posted in Theology: Scripture