Category : Rural/Town Life

(BGEA) Jack Munday–Remember the Newtown Tragedy–A Year Later

With news bulletins popping up on my phone and airport TV monitors reporting the breaking news, I called my office and we decided to send a Rapid Response Team of crisis-trained chaplains who had years of fire, police and emergency management experience to assess the need for emotional and spiritual care.

As God would have it, these specially-trained chaplains were already in the New Jersey and New York region as part of our response to Hurricane Sandy.

As the chaplains arrived just a few hours later at a police checkpoint near the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, the police immediately invited the chaplains in and directed them to the Incident Command Center to offer support to the first responders who were first on the scene at the school.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Education, Parish Ministry, Rural/Town Life, Violence

Heart Warming Generosity that Transforms–A first grade teacher Lifts a Connecticut Town

A long-retired first grade teacher who died a couple of years ago in Simsbury, Connecticut, lived very simply and wasn’t aware of how many riches she had ”“ not until her lawyer discovered she was actually quite wealthy. NBC’s Harry Smith reports that she gave it away to the institutions that mattered to her the most in the community.

There are two videos and they are both well worth your time: The first may be foundhereand the second there.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Education, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic, Rural/Town Life, Stewardship

PBS ' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–Legislative Prayer

“This case is about Christians aggressively imposing themselves upon their fellow citizens with the power of government,” says plaintiff lawyer Douglas Laycock. But defense attorney Tom Hungar warned that the case could lead to “government regulating the theological content of prayers, prescribing what is orthodox and what is not in religion.”

Read or watch and listen to it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Rural/Town Life, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

(NY Times) New York Town Divided as Prayer Case Heads to Supreme Court

The most recent meeting of the Town Board here had typical local fare: a new sidewalk proposal, permitting issues and a failed attempt to get a bid on some surplus soil.

Before all of those mundane matters, however, there was one considerably more controversial item on the agenda: a moment of prayer, a practice that has been a religious aperitif to the town’s civic business for more than a decade.

But that could soon change. On Wednesday, the United States Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether those prayers ”” almost always delivered by Christian clergy members to the assembled audience ”” violate the First Amendment clause that prohibits the establishment of religion. The court’s ruling, expected next June, could be one of the most significant church-state decisions in 30 years, and could affect the nature of such invocations in municipal meetings nationwide.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Rural/Town Life, Spirituality/Prayer

My South Carolina County (Dorchester) local option sales tax voted down

The local option sales tax proposal was defeated again Tuesday in Dorchester County, ending a bruising campaign marked by short tempers and personal attacks.

More than 65 percent of voters cast ballots against the proposal, according to unofficial election results.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, City Government, Economy, Politics in General, Rural/Town Life, Taxes

A NY Times Editorial on the Case Coming to the Supreme Court this Week–A Prayer in the Town Hall

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled for the plaintiffs. While prayers before legislative sessions do not necessarily violate the Constitution, the court said, the “overwhelming predominance” of the prayers was explicitly Christian, leading a reasonable observer to understand the town to be endorsing that religion over others, regardless of the town’s intent. (After the suit was filed, the board invited representatives of other religions, including Judaism, the Baha’i faith and Wicca, to deliver the prayer, but after four months the prayers were almost exclusively Christian again.)

Defenders of the board’s practice rely on a 1983 Supreme Court case that upheld prayers before legislative sessions ”” including those of Congress ”” because they are “deeply embedded” in American history. The prayers in Greece are constitutional, the defenders say, because they may be delivered by anyone, and the town does not compel citizens to pray.

But compulsion is not the only issue. As Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote in a 1984 case, when a government appears to endorse one religion, it “sends a message to nonadherents that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community.” After the Greece lawsuit was filed, one of the plaintiffs received a letter, signed “666,” that read, “If you feel ”˜unwanted’ at the Town of Greece meetings, it’s probably because you are.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Church/State Matters, City Government, History, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Rural/Town Life, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

(Local Paper) South Carolina spends plenty to educate doctors, but doesn’t have enough of them

Lyles estimates about 22,000 students graduate from medical school in the U.S. each year. He said there are 28,000 residency positions available, and the extra spots are filled by students who have attended international medical schools, many of them U.S. citizens returning home to practice.

But as the number of medical schools across the country increases and the number of medical students in each graduating class increases too, the number of students who are unmatched every year will continue to grow.

“The number of residency spots is absolutely not keeping pace,” said Dr. Chris Pelic, who counsels MUSC medical students during the interview process. “It’s setting it up for a very difficult situation.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Economy, Education, Health & Medicine, Rural/Town Life

Local Politics (III)-Why Kendall Harmon will be Voting Against a Dorchester Cnty Sales Tax Inxrease

It would be nice if more Christians understood that our faith always has local implications, including our life in public, which is in the polis, and therefore our faith has local political ramifications. The are derivative, yes, they are always penultimate, but they do matter.

This whole campaign makes me sad. It is a pitch to lessen property taxes by raising sales taxes. Allegedly.

It is immoral in all sorts of ways but here are two principle reasons why I will vote no. First, it is a regressive tax. Those least able to will have to pay more tax (and yes it goes on groceries!). And secondly, the other argument I hear all over is all the other counties are doing it so we should to, otherwise we will lose business etc. to nearby counties which already have the (dumb, immoral) tax. This is right out if 1 Samuel where Israel asks for a King since all the other nations have one.

Now this may cause property taxes to be slightly higher, and since we own our home, that will involve us. I don’t know anyone who likes higher taxes, but if this is the implication of my vote this coming November, so be it.

County Leaders should be ashamed of themselves (especially since this is the fourth time they have tried this)–KSH.

Posted in * By Kendall, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, City Government, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Rural/Town Life, Taxes, Theology

Local Politics (II)–Confusion, opposition emerge over Dorchester County local option sales tax

Larry Hargett might be right: Dorchester County residents might not know enough about a local option sales tax yet to vote on it.

If the county councilman is, that’s not good news for leaders pushing the Nov. 5 referendum.

Earlier this year, County Council unanimously approved a referendum for the local election Nov. 5. Now they are visibly frustrated by the sometimes hostile opposition.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, City Government, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Rural/Town Life, Taxes, Theology

Local Politics (I)–Proposed Sales Tax Increase for the County in which I live (Dorchester in S.C.)

Herewith the question as it will read on the ballot November 5.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, City Government, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Rural/Town Life, Taxes

(CT) Jake Meador–Why We Need Small Towns

America’s first great theologian, Jonathan Edwards, spent much of his life serving in a single small parish. Presbyterian theologian B. B. Warfield spent nearly his entire adult life in Princeton, New Jersey, where he taught at the university and cared for his sick wife. The late Dallas Willard taught and ministered in the same philosophy department for nearly five decades. Just recently, my pastor interviewed a dozen fellow pastors who have served in Lincoln, Nebraska, for over a decade. All of them are committed to staying at their churches indefinitely.

But, like so many Westerners, we don’t always practice the virtues of the little way in our communities. Evangelicals are a people of megachurches, national conferences, city-centric thinking (which often comes with derision for small-town life), and ever-expanding religious empires, be they church-planting networks or the Twitter feeds of celebrity pastors. Consider just one example: the rise of video preaching and podcasting, and the cultlike following they have generated around certain leaders.

The point is not to demonize cities or the prominent ministries that grow out of them. God does work through these and other large endeavors.

But what happens when our ambitions and fondness for big run amok?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Rural/Town Life

A portrait Article on the New Vicar at St. Ann’s in Block Island, Rhode Island, Eileen Lindeman

“I was really attracted to this place. I felt like I was being called to come to Block Island,” said [Eileen] Lindeman, who moved here from near San Francisco in late August and now works part-time as vicar, also known as the priest, of St. Ann’s.

Lindeman’s duties involve leading the Sunday worship services, which begin at 9 a.m. each week and last about an hour. At the service, she leads the prayers, “consecrates the elements” (preparing for the holy communion, Lindeman explained) and she also delivers a sermon. She helps lead a monthly Taizé prayer service, which happens the fourth Wednesday of each month. She also performs weddings, funerals and baptisms ”” the first Saturday of her job she said she performed renewals of marriage vows for two couples.

Aside from these roles, Lindeman said she really wants to be there for her congregation, and for the community as a whole, regardless of a person’s religious denomination. She said that often people call or visit with specific situations or concerns ”” sometimes they just want to talk, she said ”” and she wants to have enough flexible time to be there to accommodate each person. According to Lindeman and Parish Administrator Erica Tonner, for a little over a year, St. Ann’s has had an interim priest who has not lived on the island year-round.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Rural/Town Life, TEC Parishes, Theology

(NBC) First flood, now fire–how one New Jersey family plans to recover

One family with several generations of businesses on the Jersey shore wonders how it will rebuild yet again after a fire devastates the boardwalk. NBC’s Brian Williams reports

A great father and son portrait amidst real suffering, the Lord bless them and their community. Watch it all–KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Police/Fire, Rural/Town Life

Eastern Canadian Town to hold referendum about old St. Philip’s Anglican church

The old church, built in 1894, has been a centre of controversy in the town for several years. The Anglican diocese wants to tear down the building, but the Town of Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s has passed motions to have it preserved due to its heritage.

In March 2010, the issue made national headlines when an unknown person, or persons, sawed through the church’s steeple, sending it toppling to the ground, where it remains.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canada, Church History, History, Religion & Culture, Rural/Town Life

Forbes Names what it Thinks are America's Fifteen Prettiest Towns

….we went looking for…towns [that] seemingly custom-designed for soaking in the sights, with charming main streets, a variety of activities and beautiful vistas. Whether it’s the fresh air, authenticity or lack of skyscrapers, these enchanting locales deserve a spot on your travel to-do list. To designate Breckenridge and the rest of America’s most picturesque towns, we called on travel experts from Frommer’s, National Geographic, Fodor’s, and Midwest Living magazine, all of whom shared with us selections of what they consider to be among America’s prettiest towns.

Of course, “prettiest” is subjective, and there are many other towns around the country that would fit the bill ”“ but we chose 15 that we think would not only stand out in a beauty pageant, but also provide great options for your next getaway.

Check out the slideshow and see what you make of the list.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Rural/Town Life

(WSJ) Heroin Makes a Comeback, Especially in Small Towns

Heroin use in the U.S. is soaring, especially in rural areas, amid ample supply and a shift away from costlier prescription narcotics that are becoming tougher to acquire. The number of people who say they have used heroin in the past year jumped 53.5% to 620,000 between 2002 to 2011, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. There were 3,094 overdose deaths in 2010, a 55% increase from 2000, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Much of the heroin that reaches smaller towns such as Ellensburg, [Washington,] comes from Mexico, where producers have ramped up production in recent years, drug officials say. Heroin seizures at the Southwest border, from Texas to California, ballooned to 1,989 kilograms in fiscal 2012 from 487 kilograms in 2008, according to figures from the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The heroin scourge has been driven largely by a law-enforcement crackdown on illicit use of prescription painkillers such as oxycodone and drug-company reformulations that make the pills harder to crush and snort, drug officials say.

Read it all (or if necessary another link is there).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Drugs/Drug Addiction, Law & Legal Issues, Rural/Town Life

How the Town of Brunete, Spain (pop. 10k) , has Become Famous–Solving the Dog dropping Problem

In the worldwide battle to get dog owners to clean up after their pets, enter Brunete, a middle-class suburb of Madrid fed up with dirty parks and sidewalks.

ome cities hand out steep fines. But in these tough economic times, the mayor here, Borja Gutiérrez, did not much like that idea. Instead, this town engaged a small army of volunteers to bag it, box it and send it back to its owners.

“It’s your dog, it’s your dog poop,” Mr. Gutiérrez said. “We are just returning it to you.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * General Interest, Animals, City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Rural/Town Life, Theology

Robert Putnam–Crumbling American Dreams

My hometown ”” Port Clinton, Ohio, population 6,050 ”” was in the 1950s a passable embodiment of the American dream, a place that offered decent opportunity for the children of bankers and factory workers alike.

But a half-century later, wealthy kids park BMW convertibles in the Port Clinton High School lot next to decrepit “junkers” in which homeless classmates live. The American dream has morphed into a split-screen American nightmare. And the story of this small town, and the divergent destinies of its children, turns out to be sadly representative of America.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Rural/Town Life, Sociology, The U.S. Government, Theology

(AP) Carolinas work to lure visitors off beaten path

Tourism officials in both Carolinas are working to get visitors down roads less traveled this summer.

A $2.5 million spring advertising campaign touting “Undiscovered South Carolina,” is already showing positive results, and Duane Parrish, director of the state’s tourism department.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Economy, Media, Rural/Town Life, Travel

Future home of Ribble Valley Anglican parishes hangs in balance as C of E seeks reorganization

The future home of six Ribble Valley Anglican parishes is hanging in the balance due to a row over Church of England reorganisation in Yorkshire.

Blackburn Diocese unanimously voted ”˜yes’ at the April synod meeting to accept the parishes of Hurst Green; Mitton; Waddington; Grindleton; Bolton by Bowland, and Gisburn within its boundaries.

It is otherwise unaffected by the plans to reorganise the church structure in Yorkshire.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Rural/Town Life

Iowa Town Named for Muslim Hero Extols Tolerance

ELKADER, Iowa–Amid an expanse of undulating farmland, deep in the steep valley carved by the Turkey River, the town of Elkader sits most of the year in remote obscurity. Population 1,200 and gradually shrinking, it is the seat of a county without a single traffic light.

Improbably enough, this community settled by Germans and Scandinavians, its religious life built around Catholic and Lutheran churches, bears the name of a Muslim hero. Abd el-Kader was renowned in the 19th century for leading Algeria’s fight for independence and protecting non-Muslims from persecution. Even Abraham Lincoln extolled him.

This weekend, for the fifth year in a row, Elkader will welcome a delegation of Arab dignitaries to celebrate this rare lifeline of tolerance, spanning continents and centuries. Coming less than three weeks after the Boston Marathon bombings, which the authorities say were committed by two Muslim brothers, the Abdelkader Education Project’s forum stands more than ever for an affirming encounter between the United States and Islam.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Rural/Town Life

(NPR) For A Black Doctor, Building Trust By Slowing Down

While [Dr. Gregory] McGriff says he is forced to do things most other doctors wouldn’t necessarily do, he also notes that the disparity ”” while seeming unfair ”” has served up a bit of sweet irony: It has helped make him a better doctor. At a time when cost-cutting and understaffing place pressure on physicians to move swiftly through their rounds, McGriff adopted a bedside manner to earn a patient’s trust that has now become his signature at Rutherford Regional hospital.

“I make a point to do something that many of my partners don’t do ”” most physicians don’t do anymore. I sit,” McGriff says. “I sit in the room, and I ask the patient to tell me their story. I’m really interested in these stories, by the way, and every client I meet has a very interesting story.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, History, Race/Race Relations, Rural/Town Life

(Only a Game) “Wild In The Streets” Documents A Historic (And Unusual) Competition

magine two teams with more than a thousand competitors on each side. Imagine a playing field that stretches three miles from goal to goal. And imagine a single ball that both sides are fighting over.

That is Shrovetide Football, which is played each year over two days in Ashbourne, England between members of the town. In his documentary Wild In The Streets, Peter Baxter tells the story of the game that has been played for centuries.

Read it all and take the time to watch the official trailer video.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, History, Movies & Television, Rural/Town Life, Sports

The Latest Images from West, Texas

Check out this resource for your awareness and prayers.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Corporations/Corporate Life, Death / Burial / Funerals, Economy, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Rural/Town Life, Science & Technology, Spirituality/Prayer

(LA Times) In the aftermath of the West, Texas, explosion, a town turns to faith

The crowd that had gathered ”” lighting candles, offering prayers, crying as they tightly embraced family and friends ”” had streamed from the dimly lighted sanctuary of Assumption Catholic Church, but Kelly Nelson lingered behind.

“The people who we lost, these are people I know, I see on a daily basis,” Nelson said. “Knowing that I’m never going to see these people on the Earth again is very difficult for me to handle.”

On Wednesday night, a blast at a fertilizer plant rocked this small east-central Texas town. A day later Nelson and hundreds of others gathered in the red brick Assumption church. Nelson wasn’t the only one to stay behind after the service concluded. A pair of young men sobbed as they knelt before the altar. Others stared blankly forward as they sat in the pews. In a time when residents of West sought hard-to-find clarity, they are relying on faith.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Rural/Town Life, Science & Technology, Theodicy, Theology

Maine Episcopal Diocese offers the town of Richmond St. Matthias church property for free

St. Matthias Episcopal Church property, including two buildings and a half-acre lot, has been offered to the town for free.

The church’s dwindling congregation voted last May to cease holding services at the church at 15 Spruce St., according to a spokeswoman for the Episcopal Diocese of Maine.

Church officials said they offered the church and another building on the same lot to the town, hoping the property could continue to serve the community. One possibility might be as a food pantry, for which it has been used previously, said Heidi Shott, a diocese spokeswoman.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Rural/Town Life, TEC Parishes

William Murchison–The Problem of Evil

Could it not be ”” maybe? conceivably? ”” that politics and consolatory speeches and clever laws need a foundation of realism, one which acknowledges human affairs as the huge mess they are: too big, too inexplicable for the combined power of president and Congress to “change”?

Just a few days lie between Christmas and us. It was around this time, we hear, that the Son of God came to our rescue ”” not to perfect everything at that precise moment, but to invite repentance and amendment of life, before offering his own life as a sacrifice. Don’t believe a word of it? The alternative is to believe another act of Congress will bring us finally to that gun-controlled paradise where the evil, the murderous and the frankly loony embrace the pure of heart. It might happen in heaven. I wouldn’t count too much on watching as politicians throw open the gates.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Religion & Culture, Rural/Town Life, Theodicy, Theology, Violence

Acts of Kindness abound in support of Newtown, Connecticut

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Animals, Children, Marriage & Family, Rural/Town Life, Violence

Wash. Post portrait of a Newtown R.C. Priest in whose parish 1/2 of the children killed were members

That night, Weiss was called to the police station and was assigned to call at the homes of two victims, along with a state trooper and a grief counselor.

He knocked on one door at midnight ”” that of a husband whose wife had been killed in the shooting ”” and the next door at 1:30 a.m.

Weiss knew both families well. They belonged to his church.

In all those hours of counseling and comforting, no one asked the priest, “Why?” The question came later, starting on Sunday, and Weiss did not have an answer.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Rural/Town Life, Theology

Hartford Courant–A Detailed Account of the Sandy Hook Elem. School Methodical Massacre

Completely chilling–read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Education, Rural/Town Life, Violence