Monthly Archives: January 2018

Drug firms shipped 20.8M pain pills to West Virginia town with 2,900 people

Over the past decade, out-of-state drug companies shipped 20.8 million prescription painkillers to two pharmacies four blocks apart in a Southern West Virginia town with 2,900 people, according to a congressional committee investigating the opioid crisis.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee cited the massive shipments of hydrocodone and oxycodone — two powerful painkillers — to the town of Williamson, in Mingo County, amid the panel’s inquiry into the role of drug distributors in the opioid epidemic.

“These numbers are outrageous, and we will get to the bottom of how this destruction was able to be unleashed across West Virginia,” said committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., and ranking member Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., in a joint statement.

Read it all.

Posted in Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine

(JE) DC Episcopalians Opt for Open Borders and Transgenderism, Eschew Gendered Pronouns for God

A trifecta of resolutions introduced and passed by the Episcopal Diocese of Washington’s annual convention confirm a further politicized and progressive direction in which the denomination is headed.

Embracing progressive themes, delegates to The 123rd Diocesan Convention approved legislative proposals “On Becoming a Sanctuary Diocese: Offering Sacred Welcome to Immigrants,” “On Inclusion of Transgender People,” and “On the Gendered Language for God” at the Washington National Cathedral on Saturday, January 27.

Resolutions were passed in under one hour and were introduced by a small number of delegates. The Rev. Kimberly Lucas, Rector of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., and a graduate of liberal Union Theological Seminary in New York, sponsored all three resolutions. Two of the three resolutions were submitted by The Rev. Alex Dyer, rector of St. Thomas’ Episcopal Parish in Washington, D.C. Dyer was briefly notable last year on social media for wrapping banners around construction fences at St. Thomas in which an image of a face-palming Jesus was accompanied by political messages including the tagline “a progressive church for a progressive city.”

According to statistics made available by the Episcopal Church, St. Thomas has declined precipitously in the past five years, shrinking from a weekly attendance of 150 down to 75 (-50%). St. Margaret’s has similarly declined from approximately 240 attendees in 2006 down to 130 (-46%).

In the past decade, weekly attendance in the Diocese of Washington has declined 17 percent. Meanwhile, baptisms have dropped 35 percent and weddings have declined 39 percent. In April, the diocesan clergy conference will hear from an organization assisting churches “to move from a place of plateau or decline to sustained congregational health.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology

A Prayer to begin the day from the Lutheran Church

Grant us, we beseech thee, Almighty God, a steadfast faith in Jesus Christ, a cheerful hope in thy mercy, and a sincere love to thee and to all our fellow men; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old received divine approval. By faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear. By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he received approval as righteous, God bearing witness by accepting his gifts; he died, but through his faith he is still speaking. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death; and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was attested as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

–Hebrews 11:1-6

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Telegraph) Church of England calls for daytime ban on betting adverts amid fears of ‘moral crisis’ facing children

The Church of England has called for a ban on betting adverts before the 9pm watershed in a bid to tackle the growing “moral crisis” facing children and young people.

The Rt Rev Alan Smith, the Bishop of St Albans, told The Daily Telegraph that society will reap a ‘terrible harvest’ because gambling is being ‘normalised’ for children and young people.

The Church is calling for the exemption which allows gambling companies to show adverts before the 9pm watershed to be closed and for social media giants to take greater responsibility.

According to official figures, children see an average of 185 gambling adverts a year, equivalent to nearly four a weeks. Premier League football games have around five commercials from betting firms per game.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Gambling, Movies & Television

(AJ) A 100-year-old Anglican priest receives Canada 150 medal

Having reached the age of 100, Canon Ken Cowan is ready to go to the next level. His 101st birthday on March 23, that is.

Cowan, whose youthful appearance belies the fact he was born 50 years after Confederation, before the end of the First World War, and before his birth-province of Saskatchewan became a teenager, was presented with a Canada 150th Anniversary Medal January 21 at his home parish of Christ Church Bells Corners, in the Anglican diocese of Ottawa.

Liberal MP Chandra Arya was on hand at the reception to congratulate Cowan and pin the medal on him as dozens of parishioners, guests and two of Cowan’s sons looked on. The medal is given to Canadians whose generosity, dedication, volunteerism and hard work make their communities a better place to live in.

It was the Rev. Kathryn Otley, rector of Christ Church, who nominated Cowan for the medal. “We made a nomination on Ken’s behalf—without telling him—so it was a big surprise,” she told the gathering.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada

(Wash Post) A retirement account Boom leads to an Urge for Some Americans to Splurge

The remarkable stock market rally of 2017 – in which the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index shot up 22 percent and the Dow Jones industrial average 25 percent – has boosted the nation’s retirement accounts to record heights, making the painful 2008-2009 stock market crash feel like ancient history. And that fervor has not faded with the new year.

That feeling of optimism could spread as more Americans receive their year-end retirement account statements in the mail and online this month, providing concrete evidence of newfound paper wealth.

And some are so confident that they are taking money out – despite it being taxed and potentially hit by an early-withdrawal penalty – assuming it will be replaced as markets continue to surge upward.

“I’ve seen more money requests for extraneous items in the last six weeks than I have in the last five years,” said Jamie Cox of Richmond-based Harris Financial Group, which manages $500 million in savings for about 800 middle-class families.

“There’s a lot of people that are feeling comfortable spending their retirement money right now,” Cox said.

Cox said he is seeing more people take larger withdrawals, $20,000 to $40,000, to fund dream vacations or home improvement.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance & Investing, Theology

(RNS) In Germany, Some in the Roman Catholic Church grapple with blessings for same-sex marriage

The country’s Protestant churches already offer gay couples at least a blessing ceremony, if not a full church marriage, and even the main association for lay Catholics supports allowing blessings. While Pope Francis has ruled out approving gay marriage, he raised expectations of some kind of reform early in his papacy by famously asking “who am I to judge?” about gay people.

“Even though ‘marriage for all’ clearly differs from the church’s understanding of marriage, it is now a political reality,” Bishop Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabrück, the deputy chairman of the German Bishops Conference, said earlier this month.

“We have to ask ourselves how we should deal with people who tie this knot. Some of them are active in the church. So how are we going to accompany them with pastoral care and in the liturgy?” Bode asked. “We could think about giving them a blessing.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Germany, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology

(WSJ) China, Unhampered by Rules, Races Ahead in Gene-Editing Trials

In a hospital west of Shanghai, Wu Shixiu since March has been trying to treat cancer patients using a promising new gene-editing tool.

U.S. scientists helped devise the tool, known as Crispr-Cas9, which has captured global attention since a 2012 report said it can be used to edit DNA. Doctors haven’t been allowed to use it in human trials in America. That isn’t the case for Dr. Wu and others in China.

In a quirk of the globalized technology arena, Dr. Wu can forge ahead with the tool because he faces few regulatory hurdles to testing it on humans. His hospital’s review board took just an afternoon to sign off on his trial. He didn’t need national regulators’ approval and has few reporting requirements.

Dr. Wu’s team at Hangzhou Cancer Hospital has been drawing blood from esophageal-cancer patients, shipping it by high-speed rail to a lab that modifies disease-fighting cells using Crispr-Cas9 by deleting a gene that interferes with the immune system’s ability to fight cancer. His team then infuses the cells back into the patients, hoping the reprogrammed DNA will destroy the disease.

In contrast, what’s expected to be the first human Crispr trial outside China has yet to begin….

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Science & Technology, Theology

(CC) A residential ministry deals with the sex offender registry

Baptist minister Glenn Burns calls the evening of April 7, 2016, the “crucifixion.” It was the toughest test of his 40-year career.

Burns leads a Christian social services ministry in northern Florida called the Good Samaritan Network. Until last April, the nonprofit was headquartered in the town of Woodville, just outside Tallahassee. Its food bank served 7,000 people a month. It also ran a thrift store and a home for women transitioning off the street from sex work. And it operated a Christian home for men reentering society after prison who had no other place to live. Many of them were on Florida’s registry of sex offenders.

It was that last program that got Burns in trouble. As in other states, Florida’s state-run registry puts the names, photos, and addresses of those convicted of sex crimes on a public website. In Woodville, a few neighbors had searched the site and found that 11 of the 16 men at Good Samaritan’s home for ex-offenders were on the list. They called the program to find out why it served people they thought were dangerous. There was a school less than a quarter of a mile away….

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Housing/Real Estate Market, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

John Stott on the Authority of Scripture

My fifth example comes from the contemporary church, and surprisingly enough from the Anglican Church.

At the Lambeth Conference of 1958, the bishops produced quite a good statement about Scripture, and I want to quote this part of it to you:

The church is not over the holy scriptures, but under them, in the sense that the process of canonization was not one whereby the church conferred authority on the books, but one whereby the church acknowledged them to possess authority. And why? The books were recognized as giving the witness of the apostles to the life, teaching, death and resurrection of the Lord, and the interpretation by the apostles of these events. To that apostolic authority the church must ever bow.

So there is the need for the church to bow down before the authority of the Apostles.

So it is time to sum up and conclude:

Firstly, our Lord Jesus Christ repeatedly endorsed the authority of the Old Testament, by appealing to it, and by submitting to its authority himself. And secondly, Our Lord Jesus Christ deliberately provided for the writing of the New Testament by appointing and equipping his Apostles to speak and teach in his name. Thus both the Old Testament and the New Testament, although in different ways, bear the stamp of his authority. Therefore, if we wish to submit to the authority of Christ, we must submit to the authority of scripture. If we wish to hear the voice of Christ, we must listen to Scripture through which he speaks. To the authority of Scripture carries with it the authority of Christ.

So the ultimate question before us tonight, and the ultimate question before the whole church today is: ‘Who is the Lord?’ Is the church the lord of Jesus Christ so that it has the liberty to edit and manipulate his teaching? Or is Jesus Christ the lord of the church so that it must believe and obey him? And since Jesus Christ is Lord there should be no hesitation on our part about our answer to those questions.

Let us pray–we will spend a moment or two of silent reflection and prayer, especially that we ourselves may be submissive and obedient to the Scriptures, and so to Christ:

We desire to thank you very much heavenly Father that you have given us in the holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments an authoritative and definitive revelation of yourself. We ask your forgiveness for times when we have presumed to disagree with what is written in Scripture. We pray for a new humility and a new obedience. We pray the same for the churches from which we come, to which we belong, that they may be truly biblical churches submissive to your authority. Hear us in our prayers, in the name and for the glory of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Listen to it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Theology: Scripture

(Sunday [London] Times) interviews director Andrey Zvyagintsev–‘Russia is going through a period of profound religious crisis’

Was he aware of the risks he was taking? Putin is not big on criticism. “Yes, of course, we were fully aware of what we were doing. We did touch on extremely sensitive issues for Russian people: the authorities and the Orthodox church. We were making serious problems for ourselves, but we knew what we were doing, both me and my producer.”

The Orthodox church, which, disgracefully, has become yet another Putinised institution, is a particularly sensitive target. Zvyagintsev showed the script of the final scene of Leviathan, in which ecclesiastical cruelty and complacency are exposed, only to the actors involved; he didn’t want the others implicated. What on earth has happened to Russian religion?

“Russia is going through a period of profound religious crisis. Religion has become more a kind of ritualism than a profound Christianity. This is really disturbing.

“There’s a line between Christianity and paganism. In Christianity, the line between good and evil is within ourselves. In paganism, the division is between myself and the rest of the world. What I see happening in Russia now is the extremely regressive rise of that antagonistic feeling towards the other, who is deemed evil by those who claim to be good.”

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in Movies & Television, Orthodox Church, Paganism, Religion & Culture, Russia

A Prayer for the Day from Henry Alford

O Lord, who alone canst cast out the evil passions and desires of the soul: Come among us, we pray thee, and by thy mighty power subdue our spiritual enemies, and set us free from the tyranny of sin. We ask it in thy name and for thy glory.

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

The stunning Christian portion of Rachael Denhollander’s full victim impact statement about Larry Nassar

From there:

You have become a man ruled by selfish and perverted desires, a man defined by his daily choices repeatedly to feed that selfishness and perversion. You chose to pursue your wickedness no matter what it cost others and the opposite of what you have done is for me to choose to love sacrificially, no matter what it costs me.

In our early hearings. you brought your Bible into the courtroom and you have spoken of praying for forgiveness. And so it is on that basis that I appeal to you. If you have read the Bible you carry, you know the definition of sacrificial love portrayed is of God himself loving so sacrificially that he gave up everything to pay a penalty for the sin he did not commit. By his grace, I, too, choose to love this way.

You spoke of praying for forgiveness. But Larry, if you have read the Bible you carry, you know forgiveness does not come from doing good things, as if good deeds can erase what you have done. It comes from repentance which requires facing and acknowledging the truth about what you have done in all of its utter depravity and horror without mitigation, without excuse, without acting as if good deeds can erase what you have seen this courtroom today.

If the Bible you carry says it is better for a stone to be thrown around your neck and you throw into a lake than for you to make even one child stumble. And you have damaged hundreds.
The Bible you speak carries a final judgment where all of God’s wrath and eternal terror is poured out on men like you. Should you ever reach the point of truly facing what you have done, the guilt will be crushing. And that is what makes the gospel of Christ so sweet. Because it extends grace and hope and mercy where none should be found. And it will be there for you.
I pray you experience the soul crushing weight of guilt so you may someday experience true repentance and true forgiveness from God, which you need far more than forgiveness from me — though I extend that to you as well.

Throughout this process I have clung to a quote by CS Lewis where he says,

“My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of unjust and just? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)

Larry, I can call what you did evil and wicked because it was, and I know it was evil, and wicked, because the straight line exists. The straight line is not measured based on your perception or anyone else’s perception, and this means, I can speak the truth about my abuse without minimization or mitigation and I can call it evil because I know what goodness is.

And this is why I pity you, because when a person loses the ability to define good and evil, when they cannot define evil, they can no longer define and enjoy what is truly good. When a person can harm another human being, especially a child, without true guilt, they have lost the ability to truly love.

Larry, you have shut yourself off from every truly beautiful and good thing in this world, that could have, and should have brought you joy and fulfillment. And I pity you for it. You could have had everything you pretended to be. Every woman who stood up here truly loved you as an innocent child. Real genuine love for you and it did not satisfy.

I have experienced the soul satisfying joy of a marriage built on sacrificial love, and safety, and tenderness, and care. I have experienced true intimacy in its deepest joy’s and it is beautiful and sacred and glorious and that is a joy you have cut yourself off from ever experiencing and I pity you for it.

You really should read the whole statement in full. There is a reason Judge Aquilina praised Ms. Denhollander for opening the floodgates…[and said] “You are the bravest person I have ever had in my courtroom”–KSH.

Posted in Children, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Sports, Teens / Youth, Theology: Scripture, Violence, Women