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(NYT) The Police Can Probably Break Into Your Phone

In a new Apple ad, a man on a city bus announces he has just shopped for divorce lawyers. Then a woman recites her credit card number through a megaphone in a park. “Some things shouldn’t be shared,” the ad says, “iPhone helps keep it that way.”

Apple has built complex encryption into iPhones and made the devices’ security central to its marketing pitch.

That, in turn, has angered law enforcement. Officials from the F.B.I. director to rural sheriffs have argued that encrypted phones stifle their work to catch and convict dangerous criminals. They have tried to force Apple and Google to unlock suspects’ phones, but the companies say they can’t. In response, the authorities have put their own marketing spin on the problem. Law enforcement, they say, is “going dark.”

Yet new data reveals a twist to the encryption debate that undercuts both sides: Law enforcement officials across the nation regularly break into encrypted smartphones.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Science & Technology

(Wash Post) Bradford Wilcox+Lyman Stone–Divorce is down, despite covid-19

Judging by recent media coverage, Dan would seem to be the poster child for a wave of pandemic-related divorces that have swept America since March. “Why the coronavirus pandemic is leading so many couples to divorce,” read one New York Post headline this spring. The New York Times recently took a similar line: “Considering a Coronavirus Divorce? You’re in Good Company.”

But in real life, the net effects of the pandemic are not nearly as negative as many media reports would suggest.

Consider Katie, a 37-year-old wife and mother living in Virginia. The lockdown was initially stressful for her and her husband as they scrambled to forge a new schedule to cover their two jobs and child care for their toddler. But once they rearranged their schedule, things got better — in part because her husband took on a greater share of child care than he had prior to the pandemic and in part because they began taking walks and talking more in covid time. “It may sound strange, but the stay-at-home order and pandemic truly strengthened our marriage,” Katie observed.

Distress about the state of our unions certainly seems warranted. The tensions arising from being with your partner all day, every day; the disagreements about how to handle sanitation, socializing and schooling; and the stresses occasioned by lost lives, lost jobs and political tempests seem to never end. A major new survey of American families, the American Family Survey (AFS), found that 34 percent of married men and women ages 18 to 55 report the pandemic has increased stress in their marriage.

Yet Katie is not alone. Most married people in America report their unions have gotten stronger, not weaker, in the wake of covid-19. The AFS found that 58 percent of married men and women 18 to 55 said the pandemic has made them appreciate their spouse more, while 51 percent said their commitment to marriage had deepened. Only 8 percent said that the pandemic had weakened their commitment to one another.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Sociology

(Science Mag) Dust Bowl 2.0? Rising Great Plains dust levels stir concerns

Earlier this month, a storm front swept across the Great Plains of the United States, plowing up a wall of dust that could be seen from space, stretching from eastern Colorado into Nebraska and Kansas. It was a scene straight from the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, when farmers regularly saw soil stripped from their fields and whipped up into choking blizzards of dust.

Better get used to it. According to a new study, dust storms on the Great Plains have become more common and more intense in the past 20 years, because of more frequent droughts in the region and an expansion of croplands. “Our results suggest a tipping point is approaching, where the conditions of the 1930s could return,” says Gannet Haller, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Utah who led the study.

The dust storms not only threaten to remove soil nutrients and decrease agricultural productivity, but also present a health hazard, says Andy Lambert, a co-author on the study and a meteorologist at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Monterey, California. The dust contains ultrafine particles that can penetrate cells in the lungs and cause lung and heart disease.

Read it all.

Posted in Science & Technology

(TLC Covenant) Facing Episcopal Church Decline – the Latest Numbers

Average Sunday attendance

Figures for average Sunday attendance (ASA) provide a more objective metric and a more striking message. During the 1990s average Sunday attendance was relatively stable but from around 2000 deep decline set in. This is ongoing. TEC’s average Sunday attendance dropped by over 40 percent between 2000 and 2019. The decline of attendance was most rapid between 2005 and 2010. But recent years have seen a very substantial drop – a fall of 61,000, over 10 percent, in the last four years

Episcopal Church Average Sunday Attendance 2000-19

2000 856,579
2005 787,271
2010 657,831
2015 579,780
2019 518,411

Read it all.

Posted in TEC Data, TEC Parishes

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Christina Rossetti

Lord Jesus, All-pure, purify us that we may behold All-holy, sanctify us that we may stand before Thee. All-gracious, mould us that we may please Thee. Very love, suffer us not to set at naught Thy love; suffer not devil, world, flesh, to destroy us; suffer not ourselves to destroy ourselves; us with whom Thou strivest, whom Thou desirest, whom Thou lovest.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will. All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes which see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”

–Luke 10:17-24

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(SHNS) Terry Mattingly–Remembering Bishop Bill Frey

Episcopal bishops in the 1980s were already used to urgent calls from journalists seeking comments on issues ranging from gay priests to gun control, from female bishops to immigration laws, from gender-free liturgies to abortion rights.

But the pace quickened for Bishop William Frey in 1985 when he was one of four candidates to become presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church. A former radio professional, Frey was known for his bass voice and quick one-liners. His Lutheran counterpart in Colorado once told him: “You look like a movie star, sound like God and wear cowboy boots.”

Other Denver religious leaders sometimes asked, with some envy, why Episcopalians got so much ink.

“I can’t understand why some people want the kind of media attention we get,” he told me during one media storm. “That’s like coveting another man’s root canal.”

A Texas native, Frey died in San Antonio on Sunday after years out of the spotlight. In addition to his Colorado tenure, his ministry included missionary work in Central America during the “death squads” era and leading an alternate Episcopal seminary in a struggling Pennsylvania steel town.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Marriage & Family, Seminary / Theological Education, TEC Bishops

(ENS) 2019 parochial reports show continued decline and a ‘dire’ future for The Episcopal Church

Read it all.

Posted in TEC Data, TEC Parishes

Mark Wroe announced as the Next Bishop of Berwick

Mark was educated at St Mary’s University, London and Anglia Polytechnic University and trained for ministry at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. He served his title at All Saints Chilvers Coton with St Mary the Virgin, in the diocese of Coventry and was ordained Priest in 1997. In 2000, Mark was appointed Priest-in-Charge, and latterly Vicar of St Alban Windy Nook, Gateshead in the diocese of Durham. Mark took up the roles of Priest-in-Charge of St Barnabas and St Jude, and Vicar of Holy Trinity Jesmond in the Diocese of Newcastle in 2007. In 2017, Mark was additionally appointed Area Dean of Newcastle Central Deanery.

Mark took up his current role as Archdeacon of Northumberland in 2019, having been Acting Archdeacon since 2018. He is married to Caroline (a renal consultant and research professor) and they have three school age children. Born in Newcastle upon Tyne and growing up in Chester-le-Street, County Durham, Mark knows the North East well.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(AP) Top Anglican bishops slam ‘disastrous’ bill as Brexit talks teeter

The UK’s most senior Anglican bishops warned Monday that legislation breaching part of the Brexit divorce agreement the government signed with the European Union will set a “disastrous precedent” and could undermine peace in Northern Ireland.

The warning came as Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government told British businesses to prepare for a no-deal economic break with the EU in 10 weeks’ time, after the UK declared negotiations on future trade ties at an end unless the bloc makes major concessions.

In a letter published in the Financial Times, the top archbishops in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland said the government’s Brexit-related Internal Market Bill would give the government power to break international law and had “enormous moral, as well as political and legal, consequences.”

“We believe this would create a disastrous precedent,” said the letter, signed by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who heads the Church of England, and four other archbishops

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Europe, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(C of E) House of Bishops Meeting – Monday 19 October 2020

During the course of two plenary sessions and breakout groups the House reviewed the recommendations of the report, affirming that any response by the Church needs to be sensitive to, and mindful of, the views of victims and survivors.

The House unanimously endorsed a motion fully accepting the IICSA report, unreservedly apologising to victims and survivors for the harm done by the Church and committing itself to urgently implementing the recommendations.

The House also unanimously agreed with the proposal that the Church should move towards establishing an independent safeguarding structure, with a new trustee body responsible for safeguarding to take over responsibility for the Archbishops’ Council. The House also agreed that an interim arrangement be put in place for additional independent oversight of safeguarding, prior to the establishment of the new trustee body.

The House then underlined the importance of a full response to the IICSA report being released in the coming weeks.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(WSJ) Nigerian Protesters Shut Down Africa’s Largest City, Escalating Standoff With Government

Tens of thousands of protesters brought the largest city in Africa to a standstill on Monday, mounting the biggest demonstration in a two-week campaign against police brutality and escalating a standoff with a government that has pledged to restore order.

Groups of placard-waving protesters blocked major roads across Lagos, Nigeria’s sprawling commercial capital and home to an estimated 20 million people. The city’s Ibadan expressway, the country’s busiest road, was blocked by groups chanting: “We want change.” Protesters closed off the city’s airport and stormed the terminal. In a city infamous for hourslong traffic jams, columns of Lagos residents could be seen walking along emptied streets and causeways.

The Lagos protests were the largest of a series of demonstrations on Monday across the West African nation of 206 million people that appeared to significantly raise the temperature between demonstrators and the government.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Nigeria, Police/Fire, Politics in General

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Saint Augustine

O Thou light of my heart, Thou bread of my inmost soul, thanks be to Thee, my joy and my glory, my confidence and my God, thanks be to Thee for Thy gifts. Preserve them to me, for so wilt Thou preserve me myself, and those things shall be enlarged and perfected which Thou hast given me, and I myself shall be with Thee, Who didst give me being. … O Lord, my God, I lay my whole heart upon the altar of Thy praise, a whole burnt-offering of praise I offer to Thee. Let the flame of Thy love set afire my whole heart; let nothing in me be left to myself, nothing wherein I may look to myself; but may I burn wholly before Thee. Lord, let Thy fire consume all that is mine: let all be Thine.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

After this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to come. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.

–Luke 10:1-3

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(WSJ) France Vows to Root Out Islamist Extremism After Beheading of Teacher Samuel Paty

French authorities vowed to crack down on civic groups they said were promoting radical Islam, days after an extremist beheaded a schoolteacher for showing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in class.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin on Monday said that 51 associations, including religious schools and mosques, would be visited by security services this week, and a number of them dissolved. Authorities Monday conducted searches targeting 40 suspected extremist individuals and associations, and have opened more than 80 investigations into extremist sentiment expressed online since the attack, officials said.

“We must stop being naive,” Mr. Darmanin said. “There is no reconciliation possible with radical Islam.”

The actions reflect tensions between parts of France’s Muslim community and authorities in the aftermath of the slaying of the teacher, 47-year-old Samuel Paty, in an attack that shocked the nation.

Read it all.

Posted in Education, France, Terrorism, Violence

(BBC) Archbishop of York enthroned in socially distanced service

The Most Reverend Stephen Cottrell becomes the 98th archbishop, taking over from Dr John Sentamu as the second most senior Church of England cleric.

A limited number of people were allowed to attend the socially distanced service, which was streamed online.

Archbishop Cottrell said he was “delighted and humbled” to take up the role.

“I have begun my ministry at a time of huge hardship and challenge and at the moment Covid19 is having a particularly devastating impact in the north,” he said.

“We don’t know how long the current restrictions will be in place. However, the worship and work of the church goes on bringing much needed hope, relief and practical help to the communities we serve.”

Read it all.

Posted in Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, Church of England (CoE)

(NBC) Wonderfully encouraging story from California–Family’s mission to provide desks for kids in need

“Mitch Couch initially built just one desk for his daughter. After posting a YouTube tutorial, parents needing desks started reaching out, and other volunteers across the country joined in to help build desks for kids in need.”

Watch the whole thing.

Posted in Children, Education, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–What is Real Christian Ministry (1 Thesalonians 1)?

The sermon starts about 18:30 in.

Posted in * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Soteriology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

(Sci Tech Daily) New Blood Test Accurately Predicts Which COVID-19 Patients Will Develop Severe Infection

Scientists have developed, for the first time, a score that can accurately predict which patients will develop a severe form of Covid-19.

The study, led by researchers at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, is published in The Lancet’s translational research journal EBioMedicine.

The measurement, called the Dublin-Boston score, is designed to enable clinicians to make more informed decisions when identifying patients who may benefit from therapies, such as steroids, and admission to intensive care units.

Until this study, no Covid-19-specific prognostic scores were available to guide clinical decision-making. The Dublin-Boston score can now accurately predict how severe the infection will be on day seven after measuring the patient’s blood for the first four days.

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Luke

Almighty God, who didst inspire thy servant Luke the physician to set forth in the Gospel the love and healing power of thy Son: Graciously continue in thy Church the like love and power to heal, to the praise and glory of thy Name; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Eastern Orthodox Church

Fence me about, O Lord, with the power of Thine honourable and life-giving Cross, and preserve me from every evil.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

To thee, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in thee I trust,
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
Yea, let none that wait for thee be put to shame;
let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

Make me to know thy ways, O Lord;
teach me thy paths.
Lead me in thy truth, and teach me,
for thou art the God of my salvation;
for thee I wait all the day long.

–Psalm 25:1-4

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Sunday Food for Thought–Dallas Willard on Discipleship and Living Forever

When Mickey Mantle was dying of diseases brought on by a life of heavy drinking, he said that he would have taken better care of himself had he only known how long he was going to live. He gives us a profound lesson. How should we “take care of ourselves” when we are never to cease? Jesus shows his apprentices how to live in the light of the fact that they will never stop living. This is what his students are learning from him.

–Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy (San Francisco: Harper, 1998), p. 86, quoted by yours truly in the morning sermon

Posted in Christology, Eschatology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Gregorian Sacramentary

May the grace of the Lord Jesus sanctify us and keep us from all evil; may He drive far from us all hurtful things, and purify both our souls and bodies; may He bind us to Himself by the bond of love, and may His peace abound in our hearts.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Now these things happened to them as a warning, but they were written down for our instruction, upon whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let any one who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

–1 Corinthians 10:10-13

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(SA) How Straight Talk Helped One State, Maine, to Control COVID19

The state of Maine has the nation’s oldest population, with an average age of 45.1 versus 38.5 for the U.S. overall. It is also among the country’s poorest. Fewer than one third of residents hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. Yet despite these risk factors, Maine has a remarkably low prevalence of COVID-19: at last count, there have been 5,780 cases (about 430 per 100,000 people), 463 hospitalizations and 143 deaths. The state’s COVID-19 test positivity rate—averaging roughly 0.5 percent—is the lowest in the nation. In comparison, equally rural and far flung North Dakota, with roughly 60 percent of the population of Maine and an average age of 35.5, has suffered 28,244 cases (about 3,700 per 100,000 people), 357 deaths and a test positivity rate of roughly 8.1 percent.

The face of Maine’s successful policy is Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Shah’s rock star status is reflected in his impressive Twitter following, a Facebook fan club and even an electronic road sign on the state’s Route 196 that blinks “In Shah We Trust.” The fact that a self-described “brown guy with a funny name from another state who has been here for 400 days could be viewed as a voice for science,” Shah has tweeted, “speaks more about the character of Maine people than anything else could.” Clearly, that “voice for science” has had a powerful influence. Cell-phone-tracking data indicate that Maine residents have sharply curtailed travel since March. And surveys suggest a general adherence to public health advice on mask wearing and social distancing, even in outdoor spaces such as hiking trails.

Trained in law and economics as well as medicine, Shah takes a broad view of public health that relies on equal parts science, persuasion and empathy. His twice-weekly public radio briefings follow three principles: never shy away from the truth, answer questions directly, and acknowledge the statistics and numbers without overlooking the human element. Our national approach, he says, does not adhere to those principles.

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, State Government

(AH) Rodney Hacking–St. Ignatius of Antioch and the Renewal of the Anglican Episcopate

Ignatius offers a fascinating insight into the heart of a true man of God given over to His will. It is tempting to want to leap from his example and vision of episcopacy to its practice within our own Church at this time, but such a leap needs great care. A bishop in the first decade of the second century cannot fairly be compared even to one of 250 years later let alone in the Church of today. The three-fold ministry was still in an early stage of its development. Even though Lightfoot has cogently argued that a case can be made for regarding episcopacy as being of Apostolic direction, and therefore possessing Divine sanction, long years of evolution and growth lay before it. At this stage too the Church across the Roman Empire faced the daily possibility of considerable persecution and martyrdom. That demanded a particular kind of shepherding and witness.

On the other hand a bishop at the beginning of the third millennium might profitably and properly ask (or be asked) whether endless committees and synods are really the way in which their lives are to be laid down for their flock? An institution requires administration, but in the New Testament list of charisms, administrators are quite low in the order of priorities, and of its pastors at this time the Church has other, more pressing, needs. Rather than imposing upon an already disheartened clergy systems of appraisal (mostly copied from secular models of management) it would be good for parish priests to experience bishops as those who were around so much that they could afford regularly to ”˜drop in’ and just be with them. It is hard to expect the parish clergy to make visiting a priority if their fathers in God do not set an example.

In some dioceses the more obviously pastoral role has sometimes been exercised by a suffragan but as more and more diocesan bishops, at least within the Church of England, are being selected from the ranks of the suffragans the temptation is for those who are ambitious to prove their worth more as potential managers than those given to the ”˜Word of God and prayer’ (Acts 6.2). If the communities within which the bishops are to exercise their ministry of unity and care are too large for them to do their work has not the time come to press for smaller dioceses and for bishops to strip themselves of the remnants of the grandeur their office once held and be found, above all, with their clergy and amongst the people, drawing them together into the unity for which Christ gave himself?

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Ecclesiology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Ignatius of Antioch

Almighty God, we praise thy name for thy bishop and martyr Ignatius of Antioch, who offered himself as grain to be ground by the teeth of wild beasts that he might present unto thee the pure bread of sacrifice. Accept, we pray thee, the willing tribute of our lives, and give us a share in the pure and spotless offering of thy Son Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Prayer Manual

O God, Who art man’s sovereign good, and dost seek the love of Thy children: deliver us from sloth in Thy work and coldness in Thy cause; rekindle in us love by our looking unto Thee, and by our waiting upon Thee renew our strength; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Uncategorized

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Now I know that the LORD will help his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with mighty victories by his right hand. Some boast of chariots, and some of horses; but we boast of the name of the LORD our God. They will collapse and fall; but we shall rise and stand upright. Give victory to the king, O LORD; answer us when we call.

–Psalm 20:6-9

Posted in Theology: Scripture