Category :

(WSJ) Virus Research Has Exploded Since Covid-19 Hit. Is It Safe?

Laboratories around the globe increasingly are experimenting with emerging viruses, sometimes giving them new capabilities, as they seek to identify dangerous ones and find ways to combat them.

While the goal is to protect health, some of the projects carry the chance of a misstep that could unleash an epidemic, some scientists say.

Experiments in the U.S. are reviewed in advance by researchers’ institutions or government funders, but risky projects can go forward without being subjected to the highest level of scrutiny, especially in some other countries.

Some scientists and officials in the Biden administration are pushing for more oversight, globally, of risky bioresearch. One focus is laboratory work that enhances a pathogen or endows it with new properties—sometimes called “gain-of-function” research—which is often done to assess its potential to infect humans.

The administration, looking for ways to better weigh the potential benefits of such research against the risks, is considering ideas that include forming a new entity to address global biosecurity.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

Prayers for the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina This Day

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Saint Ambrose

Merciful Lord, the Comforter and Teacher of Thy faithful people, increase in Thy Church the desires which Thou hast given, and confirm the hearts of those who hope in Thee by enabling them to understand the depth of Thy promises, that all Thine adopted sons may even now behold, with the eyes of faith, and patiently wait for, the light which as yet Thou dost not openly manifest; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

–James Manning,ed., Prayers of the Early Church (Nashville: The Upper Room, 1953)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

While the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret. And he saw two boats by the lake; but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had ceased speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a great shoal of fish; and as their nets were breaking, they beckoned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.

–Luke 5:1-11

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Guardian) German election on knife edge as months of coalition wrangling loom

Germany is braced to enter a new “Dutch-style” political era after federal elections on Sunday, as a knife-edge vote points to months of complicated coalition wrangling.

Outgoing chancellor Angela Merkel joined the campaign trail at a rally in the western city of Aachen on Friday night in an attempt to help her designated successor from the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Armin Laschet, close the gap on the centre-left Social Democratic party (SPD).

“We need a stable government,” Laschet told the crowd at the event in his home city. “If you want stability for Germany, the CDU-CSU [Christian Social Union] have to be in first place tomorrow.”

“We will turn this game around,” vowed the conservative Bavarian state premier, Markus Söder, at the event in the southern German state capital. Germany, he warned, must not become an “experimental site for leftwing tomfoolery”.

Read it all.

Posted in Germany, Politics in General

The Economist reviews Richard Power’s new Book ‘Bewilderment’

An ecological epic about deforestation, “The Overstory” brought Richard Powers a wider readership when it won a Pulitzer in 2019. His new novel, shortlisted for this year’s Booker prize, may make him even better known. It is a shorter, more intimate tale that still wrestles with the scientific themes that are his hallmark..

The story is set in Wisconsin and narrated by Theo, a widowed astrobiologist. He is struggling to bring up his son, Robin, whose diagnosis of autism he resists, and whom the novel follows from the age of eight to ten. Robin’s mother, Alyssa, recently died in a car crash; he is disruptive at school. Distressed about global warming and the ruin of the natural world, he is consoled by playing a game in which he and his father imagine life on other planets….

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Ecology, Eschatology, Military / Armed Forces

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Sergius

O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich: Deliver us, we pray thee, from an inordinate love of this world, that inspired by the devotion of thy servant Sergius of Moscow, we may serve thee with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Russia, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from William Temple

O Jesus, Master and Lord, pour into our hearts thine own heroic love; that being filled with love we may know the love which passeth knowledge, and live in the unknown power of love to win men to trust in love, to the glory of God who is love.

Posted in Uncategorized

From the Morning Bible Readings

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

–Matthew 6:19-24

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) The UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) is vital, multifaith environment declaration tells world leaders

Governments must take urgent action at the forthcoming COP26 climate summit “to avert the loss, damage, and forced migration threatened by climate change”, a new declaration signed by religious leaders in the UK says.

The Glasgow Multi-Faith Declaration for COP26, released on Monday, says: “We remind governments of their commitments made in Paris in 2015 to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, and of Article 17 of the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights to protect the environment, the biosphere and biodiversity. We call upon them to take the urgent action needed to avert the loss, damage, and forced migration threatened by climate change.

The declaration is signed by 52 faith leaders from Scotland and across the rest of the UK. Anglican signatories include the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Most Revd Mark Strange; the Bishop of Bangor and senior bishop in the Church in Wales, the Rt Revd Andy John; and the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham Usher, who is the C of E’s lead bishop on the environment.

The summit is due to take place in November in the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC) in Glasgow. Some campaigners have called for it to be delayed until the spring of 2022 (News, 10 September).

Read it all.

Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(FT) Germany’s election: a new era of uncertain coalition politics

With just three days till polling day, Germany’s election is wide open. Rarely has such a crucial democratic exercise been tinged by so much uncertainty. Never before have Germans faced such a broad spectrum of possible electoral outcomes.

Angela Merkel is quitting the political battlefield and the army of voters the chancellor once commanded is now up for grabs. Her departure, after 16 years in power, has disrupted a system that once seemed the model of stability.

“For so many people the primary loyalty was to Merkel — and now she’s going,” says Andrea Römmele, professor of communication in politics at the Hertie School in Berlin. As a result, “we have an extremely high volatility among voters — more than 50 per cent of them are open in all directions.”

Merkel’s party, the Christian Democratic Union, is floundering, unsure about what to do and where to go next. Its rivals, the Social Democrats, are on a roll, with a commanding lead in the polls. But the SPD, like the CDU and its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union, faces an uncertain future. Germany’s old model of two dominant big-tent parties is being replaced by something much more fragmented.

Read it all.

Posted in Europe, Germany, Politics in General

South Carolina Supreme Court sets hearing date for TEC’s appeal from Judge Dickson’s interpretation of the 2017 Collective Opinions in Church Property Dispute

The Diocese disassociated from The Episcopal Church in the fall of 2012, along with 80% of its congregations and members. That action was taken in response to attempts by TEC to remove the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence as Diocesan Bishop. Litigation in this case began the following January. The Diocese and Parishes filed this action seeking a declaratory judgement to clarify the rights of the Diocese and its parishes. In February 2015, the Honorable Judge Diane Goodstein ruled that the Diocese and those parishes in union with it, “are the owners of their real personal and intellectual property and that [TEC and TECSC] have no legal, beneficial or equitable interest in the Diocese’s real, personal and intellectual property.” TEC and TECSC were permanently enjoined from using, assuming or adopting the marks of the Diocese.

Judge Goodstein’s ruling was appealed to the South Carolina Supreme Court, which ruled on August 2, 2017 in the form of five separate opinions. The lack of agreement among those five opinions required clarification. The Diocese and Parishes filed a Motion for Clarification on March 23, 2018.

In his ruling, Judge Dickson made several important conclusions of law. Chief among them was his ruling on the central issue of interpreting the Collective Opinions. As he noted in quoting former Chief Justice Toal, “The Court’s collective opinions in this matter give rise to great uncertainty, so that we have given little to no collective guidance in this case or in church property disputes like this going forward.” He concluded that, “This court must distill the five separate opinions, identify the court’s intent and produce a logical directive.”

With respect to parish property, the law of this case follows the precedent of All Saints Parish, Waccamaw (2009). In his deciding opinion, Chief Justice Beatty, “found that the Dennis Canon, standing alone, does not unequivocally convey an intention to transfer ownership of property to the national church…” In accordance with established South Carolina law, establishment of a trust interest must meet the standard of being “legally cognizable”. Judge Dickson concluded there is no evidence that any parish agreed to the Dennis Canon: “This court finds that no parish expressly acceded to the Dennis Canon” and “defendants failed to prove creation of a trust.” He further concluded, “TEC’s argument that their unilaterally drafted Dennis Canon created a trust under South Carolina law is rejected.”

Read it all and where necessary follow the links.

Posted in * South Carolina, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(NYT front page) Boko Haram Wanes, and a Nigerian City Is Fearful

For over a decade, the extremist group Boko Haram has terrorized northeastern Nigeria — killing tens of thousands of people, kidnapping schoolgirls and sending suicide bombers into busy marketplaces.

Now, thousands of Boko Haram fighters have surrendered, along with their family members, and are being housed by the government in a compound in the city of Maiduguri, the group’s birthplace and its frequent target.

The compound is next to a middle-class housing development and a primary school, terrifying residents, teachers and parents.

“We are very afraid,” said Maimouna Mohammed, a teacher at the primary school, glancing at the camp’s wall 50 yards from her classroom. “We don’t know their minds.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Nigeria, Politics in General, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

The C of E announces there have been one million downloads for its Daily Prayer podcast

The Daily Prayer podcast, which is also integrated into the free Daily Prayer app, brings listeners together twice a day for short traditional services of Morning and Evening, usually led by the Revd Catherine Williams from Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire.

The podcast, available both via the Daily Prayer app as well as all major podcasting platforms, has had just under a quarter of a million unique listeners since launching.

The atmospheric services follow the pattern set out in the Church of England’s Common Worship services, with readings recorded by people around the country and music from St Martin’s Voices, one of the choirs of St Martin-in-the-Fields in London.

The podcast, which was launched in March 2021, has now registered more than 1,000,000 downloads, with around 8,000 people listening a day.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Media, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(ABC Nightline) A portrait of American heroine Yolanda Travis

‘Yolanda Travis, who owns McDonalds franchises in Chicago, wanted to help those in her underserved community get COVID-19 vaccinations and launched a social media campaign to spread the word.’

Watch it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Urban/City Life and Issues

A Prayer to Begin the Day from John R W Stott

O God, our heavenly Father, who so loved the world that thou didst give thine only Son to die upon the cross: Pour thy love into our hearts, we humbly beseech thee; that we loving thee above all things, may give up ourselves, our time, our money, our talents, to thy service; for the sake of him who loved us and gave himself for us, Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Now concerning the matters about which you wrote. It is well for a man not to touch a woman. But because of the temptation to immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not rule over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not rule over his own body, but the wife does. Do not refuse one another except perhaps by agreement for a season, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, lest Satan tempt you through lack of self-control. I say this by way of concession, not of command. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own special gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.

To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain single as I do. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.

–1 Corinthians 7:1-9

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Churchman [1997]) Mark Thompson–Being Clearly and Positively Evangelical

I want to encourage us to be clearly evangelical and to be positively evangelical. I am convinced that the answer to the challenges to which I have alluded lies, not in pointing the
finger at the bad guys or even trying to identify them, but in speaking the truth clearly, simply, and without compromise, and exercising a bold confidence in the God who is sovereign in his
world….

May I suggest that if we are to be clear about the message we have to proclaim in the world there are at least five things we need to do…

1.1 Recommit ourselves to the careful study and preaching of the Bible as the Word of God

1.2 Aim at clarity and simplicity

1.3 Recognize the pressures that are on us to be unclear

1.4 Identify the points at which evangelical truth is under attack today

1.5 Shun the false antitheses others try to thrust upon us

This paper is essentially a plea to stay clear and stay positive. We do not have to jettison clarity for the sake of being positive, nor do we have to abandon all hope for the sake of clarity. Do not fall into the twin dangers which face us: the danger of fudging on what it actually means to be an Evangelical and the danger of falling into a pit of despair and negativity. God has spoken. He has not left us in the dark, nor has he revealed his mind in faltering, obscure tones. And God will triumph. His purposes will be fulfilled. The day is coming when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

So let us be clear about the task that lies before us. Let us be clear about what we believe. Let us be clear about what we do not believe as well. And above all, let us renew our confidence inthe one who loves us and will one day return to take us home.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Church History, Evangelicals, Religion & Culture, Theology

([London] Times) Taliban rule in Afghanistan ‘driving jihadists to join Isis‑K’

Isis-K is growing in power by recruiting disgruntled militants from across central Asia to join its fight against the Taliban, according to a former Afghanistan spy chief.

Rahmatullah Nabil, former director of Afghanistan’s intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security, told The Times that he predicted Isis-K would strengthen its insurgency after at least seven people were killed, including a child, and 30 injured in bombings over the weekend.

Discontent is said to be growing within Taliban ranks, centered on an alleged rift between factions loyal to Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the deputy prime minister who led peace talks with the US, and supporters of Sirajuddin Haqqani, head of the network behind many of the worst suicide attacks of the past 20 years. Haqqani is now the acting interior minister.

Nabil suggested that Taliban fighters who were unhappy with the group’s proclaimed ideological reforms under Baradar, such as allowing women to attend school and hold jobs, would join Isis-K’s ranks. This raises the prospect of a new war for control of Afghanistan between jihadist groups.

Read it all.

Posted in Afghanistan, Asia, Terrorism, War in Afghanistan

(C of E) The youth groups that grew into a church

Born and raised in Ghana, Nicholas moved to the UK 14 years ago, working as a Pioneer Evangelist with young people in Bradford and South East London. Today, he brings this experience and passion with him as serves as Deacon in the Diocese of Southwark.

In 2013, Nicholas came to Thamesmead, Woolwich, and planted a church with young people who had no former connection with church.

He launched a Friday night youth club, a Tuesday night gathering, a Youth Alpha course and from this, a youth congregation that would meet on a Sunday evening.

Nicholas also worked with secondary schools and a youth charity on the estate in Abbey Wood, running football and lunch clubs.

Focused on getting young people off the streets and into a place where they could belong, connect with friends, and build relationships, Nicholas was able to mentor them, with Christian teaching.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), Ghana, Parish Ministry, Teens / Youth, Youth Ministry

(The State front page) DHEC warns against unproven COVID19 treatments

South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control Director Edward Simmer shot down reports that his agency was getting in the way of doctors who push therapeutic treatments that are not considered effective against the virus but that people are now requesting in large numbers.

Simmer said Wednesday the agency was not preventing physicians from prescribing ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, both unproven COVID-19 treatments, or sanctioning doctors that do so, even if it advises against the practice and promotes vaccination as the safest and most effective means of preventing COVID-19 infection.

“We don’t punish physicians or patients for clinical decisions. Nor do we determine what are acceptable uses of available medications,” Simmer said during a five-hour Senate Medical Affairs hearing where physicians testified about COVID-19 treatments. “But what we do offer is the best evidence we possibly can, the best scientific evidence regarding what is effective, both prevention and treatment, for COVID.”

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Health & Medicine

(Yesterday’s New York Times Front page) With hospitals full, non covid19 patients despair

In chronic pain, Mary O’Donnell can’t get around much. At most, she manages to walk for a short time in her kitchen or garden before she has to sit down. “It’s just frustrating at this point,” said Ms. O’Donnell, 80, who lives in Aloha, Ore. “I’m really depressed.”

She had been preparing for back surgery scheduled for Aug. 31, hoping the five-hour procedure would allow her to be more active. But a day before the operation, at OHSU Health Hillsboro Medical Center, she learned it had been canceled.

“Nope, you can’t come, our hospital is filling up,” she said she was told.

Faced with a surge of Covid-19 hospitalizations in Oregon, the hospital has not yet rescheduled her surgery. “I don’t know what is going to happen,” Ms. O’Donnell said, worrying that her ability to walk might be permanently impaired if she is forced to wait too long.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A.

(ITV) Cathedral service marks centenary of Royal British Legion in Suffolk

A special ceremony has been held in Bury St Edmunds to mark the 100th anniversary of the Royal British Legion in Suffolk.

Military representatives from the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force, including veterans from the Legion, were among the guests who came together at St Edmundsbury cathedral on Sunday.

The service paid tribute to the work the Legion has done since it was established and its life-changing and often life-saving support to the Armed Forces community.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, History, Military / Armed Forces, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

A Prayer to Begin the Day from New Every Morning

O Spirit of the living God, who dost sanctify the lives of thy people, and dost build them up into a holy temple for thy habitation: Grant us so to know thy indwelling presence that we may be set free from lesser desires, and by thy grace may be conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ our Lord.

New Every Morning (The Prayer Book Of The Daily Broadcast Service) [BBC, 1900]

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

O taste and see that the Lord is good!
Happy is the man who takes refuge in him!
O fear the Lord, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no want!

–Psalm 34:8-9

Posted in Theology: Scripture

C of E Bishops join calls for emergency G7 meeting to tackle vaccine ‘hoarding’

The Bishops of the Church of England are backing calls for the leaders of the world’s richest countries to halt the “hoarding” of COVID-19 vaccines while billions of people around the world have yet to be jabbed.

Members of the College of Bishops, which is meeting in Oxford, voted unanimously to endorse a statement by two Anglican Communion bodies which demands an emergency meeting of the G7 to commit to vaccine equity.

It warns that potentially millions of vaccines stockpiled by wealthy countries could go to waste after passing their effective “use by” date rather than be shared with those in urgent need.

Earlier this year G7 leaders meeting in Cornwall promised to donate more than one billion doses of vaccine but it is estimated that less than 15 per cent of these have so far materialised.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Stewardship

The Latest Edition of the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

Institution of Kyle Holtzhower as Rector of Christ-St. Paul’s

On Sunday, September 26, 2021 at 5:30 p.m. Bishop Mark Lawrence will Institute and Induct the Rev. Kyle Holtzhower as the Rector of Christ-St. Paul’s, Yonges Island. An institution is a time for celebration throughout the Diocese and a time to hold the new Rector and the parish in your prayers. If you’re unable to be present, do make time to pray. Clergy are invited to process wearing red stoles. View invitation. Learn more about Kyle.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Parish Ministry

(USA Today) Scientists created the world’s whitest paint. It could eliminate the need for air conditioning.

The whitest paint in the world has been created in a lab at Purdue University, a paint so white that it could eventually reduce or even eliminate the need for air conditioning, scientists say.

The paint has now made it into the Guinness World Records book as the whitest ever made.

So why did the scientists create such a paint? It turns out that breaking a world record wasn’t the goal of the researchers: Curbing global warming was.

“When we started this project about seven years ago, we had saving energy and fighting climate change in mind,” said Xiulin Ruan, a professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue, in a statement.

Read it all.

Posted in Science & Technology

(EF) Gen Z: the future of faith?

It is the generation growing up with unlimited access to the internet, provided with instant information and entertainment (‘infotainment’) and unprecedented online connection; but it also has the highest levels of loneliness, social anxiety and mental health issues.

Generation Z, or iGen, as some have dubbed them, is generally defined as those born between 1996 and 2010.

Although of course it is arbitrary to draw a strict line between the profile of those born from one year and another, the characteristics of this generation have evolved from those of Millennials, the previous generation (born between 1981and 1995), creating notable differences which are resulting in new experiences and outlooks.

The period of emerging adulthood that many Gen Zs are currently experiencing is fraught with challenges faced by humans for the very first time.

They have more choice and freedom than ever before, yet are paralysed with doubt.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture, Young Adults

(Local Paper) South Carolina hospital workers describe dealing with death, regret, denial during third COVID19 surge

This time last year, we were contending with the reality that the summer of 2020 was a bust. We had just started the school year, virtually in most cases. Yet hopes were high as we, as a nation, eagerly anticipated the arrival of a vaccine that would herald the end of this pandemic.

As a doctor of 20 years, I anticipated some vaccine hesitance. It is only natural to be wary of the new. I did not, however, anticipate the sustained degree of difficulty it has taken to get even half of South Carolinians vaccinated. We have been at that plateau for months.

This anomaly to me underscores the general loss of confidence in institutions, as well as the tribalism that pervades our society.

As a physician, I honor my oath. I do not question how you came to be at the state you were in. I do not modify my practice based on how well you stuck to preventive medicine guidelines. But as a human, there is an emotional cost that I and my colleagues suffer as we contend with crowded emergency departments, frustrated patients and overworked support staff. And it is so unnecessary.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Health & Medicine