Category : Ethics / Moral Theology

(UMNS) Bishop Kenneth H. Carter reflects on the journey to the United Methodist General Conference in 2020

UM News: What do you make of the responses to the special General Conference both in the U.S. and the central conferences?

Carter: I preached in three successive churches the next three weeks in Florida — Ft. Myers, Clearwater, Jupiter. And I found increasingly that many people felt like they needed to create a counternarrative, to say, but that’s not who I am, or that’s not who our church is in the U.S.

Now many people were in favor of the outcome. Many traditionalists were. I found that they needed a great deal of, at times, pastoral care. They just felt like they were the object of this response, this emotionally intensive response.

And then many LGBTQ persons and some who talked to me were wondering: Do I have a future in the church? Can I go through the candidacy process for ministry?

UM News: I’ve heard from a number of Africans who feel like they’re being blamed for what happened. But of course, Africans are about a third of the voters. What are you hearing?

Carter: So some of the African leaders have talked to me about a couple of things. One, just that their experience is that the U.S. church at times exports its divisions into the African context. The second thing they sometimes say is that they are more than one-issue people. The connection is important in Africa because, for many African leaders and people, mission is not ideological. It’s life and death.

It’s whether you have water or a hospital or access to education for a girl or child. And so that conversation is maturing. I would say the strength of the African relationship to the United States (and I wrote about this in the summer) is the incredible missional partnerships that exist between annual conferences of the U.S. and Africa, and they’re mutual.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Methodist, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology

(David Ould) Newcastle Synod Decision Pushes Australian Anglicans to Precipice

There does appear to be an inconsistency here. Bishop Stuart rightly notes that only an ordinance that has received assent can be referred to the tribunal. But in his pastoral letter he told us that “I have communicated with the Primate and he has indicated that he will refer the Ordinance to the Appellate Tribunal.” Yet how can the Primate refer the Ordinance and have an opinion on it issued if Bishop Stuart has not yet given assent? Make up your mind, please.

So where to from here? Newcastle now has an ordinance in limbo that effectively states that marriage between a homosexual couple is perfectly ok. It is, by any assessment, an attempt to introduce a de facto change in the doctrine of marriage without having the courage to just say “we’re changing the doctrine of marriage” or having provided anything like the necessary theological justification. Given the deep debate over this topic in the recent years (not to mention the repeated motions in General Synod affirming what the church’s doctrine of marriage – not least that it is between a man and a woman), those that claim this is not a change in the doctrine of marriage can only be understood to be disingenuous. Or utterly ignorant of the current debate. The latter is simply impossible. But the bishop is is signalling that he won’t give it assent and so the Appellate Tribunal cannot consider it, even though that’s just what Bishop Stuart wants them to do in order to provide him cover to give assent.

And so Newcastle, led by its bishop, has pushed us further to the cliff edge.

What will the Appellate Tribunal say? Will they even ever meet? Will the Primate publicly back the position of General Synod and call on revisionist bishops to cease their deeply damaging actions? What will happen when the bishops meet in Melbourne next month?

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

(NPR) With Plans To Pay Slavery Reparations, Two Seminaries Prompt A Broader Debate

Among elite U.S. universities, Harvard, Yale, Brown, and Georgetown have all admitted in recent years that at one time they benefited financially from the slave trade. But two Protestant seminaries have now gone a step further, saying that in recognition of their own connections to racism they have a Christian duty to pay reparations.

Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Va., the flagship institution of the U.S. Episcopal Church, announced in September that it has set aside $1.7 million for a reparations fund, given that enslaved persons once worked on its campus and that the school participated in racial segregation even after slavery ended.

Earlier this month, Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, N.J., followed suit with an announcement of a $27 million endowed fund for reparations, from which $1.1 million would be dispersed annually.

“As a theology school, we use the language of confession to acknowledge our complicity with slavery,” says M. Craig Barnes, the Princeton seminary president. In its announcement, the seminary said a historical audit, while showing that the school never itself owned slaves, nonetheless made clear that it “benefited from the slave economy, both through investments in Southern banks … and from donors who profited from slavery.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Stewardship

(FT) WhatsApp hack led to targeting of 100 journalists and dissidents

At least 100 journalists, human rights activists and political dissidents had their smartphones attacked by spyware that exploited a vulnerability in WhatsApp, according to the Facebook-owned messaging service.

The victims of the attack, which was first revealed by the Financial Times in May, were contacted by WhatsApp on Tuesday.

Their phones were targeted through WhatsApp’s call function by customers of the Israel-based NSO Group, which makes Pegasus, a spyware program. Once installed, Pegasus is designed to take over all of a phone’s functions.

Read it all.

Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Politics in General, Science & Technology

(Quilette) Polyamory Is Growing—And We Need To Get Serious About It

Read it all (note: content may not be suitable for all blog readers). Also, please note that the idea that non-monogamy is growing is strongly open to question.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Polyamory, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology

(Vatican News) Abrahamic religions: no to euthanasia, assisted suicide, yes to palliative care

“We oppose any form of euthanasia – that is the direct, deliberate and intentional act of taking life – as well as physician-assisted suicide – that is the direct, deliberate and intentional support of committing suicide – because they fundamentally contradict the inalienable value of human life, and therefore are inherently and consequentially morally and religiously wrong, and should be forbidden without exceptions.”

Representatives of the Abrahamic religions made the statement in a position paper that they signed and released in the Vatican on Monday regarding end-of-life issues, such as euthanasia, assisted suicide and palliative care.

The term, Abrahamic monotheistic religions, derives from the Old Testament biblical figure Abraham who is recognized by Jews, Christians, Muslims and others.

They categorically condemned any pressure upon dying patients to end their lives by active and deliberate actions.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Islam, Judaism, Life Ethics, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(EF) Britons no longer see euthanasia, pornography, drugs as “immoral”

Abortion, pornography, drugs, homosexual relationships – these are some of the issues which most British people no longer consider to be “immoral”.

Kings’ College in London compared figures of 1989 with opinion polls conducted this year on a range of moral issues. In the last 30 years later, there has been a significant fall in the number of people who see gay relationships as morally wrong, down from 40% then to 13% today. The percentage of citizens who believe having children outside marriage is not moral is now 13%, down from 24% in 1989. On the issue of pornography, adult sex magazines were seen as immoral by 38% of the population 30 years ago, a figure that falls down to 22% (the biggest shift happening in the female population).

The number of people who perceive taking soft drugs such as cannabis as morally wrong has also collapsed. In 1989, it was 60%, now it is 29%. Even the consumption of heroin is now seen as acceptable by 33% of the population.

Read it all.

Posted in Drugs/Drug Addiction, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Pornography, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) Consecration of GAFCON bishop in new NZ Church is criticised

“Is this the moment . . . when the fracture in the Anglican Communion becomes irreversible?” Bishop Carrell asked the Archbishop of Canterbury in a message posted on Twitter on Saturday. “Australian bishops out of protocol control, two of their synods greeting a breakaway diocese. Archbishops from Rwanda, Australia and ACNA combine to inaugurate a new Anglican Church!”

On Monday, he said that there was a “range of reactions” to the consecration in his diocese. The failure of bishops in the Communion to inform the diocese of their intention to minister there was “bewildering to many here”.

“I fear that the significance of the weekend’s incursion goes beyond the inauguration of a new Church and is a sign that the slowly emerging schism in the Anglican Communion is speeding up,” he said. “When the two largest dioceses in Australia recognise a new Anglican Church in another Anglican jurisdiction, we have a straightforward confusion of the goal of the Anglican Communion that we seek to fulfil the prayer of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they may be one.”

In their joint statement on Tuesday, the Archbishops of ACNZP, the Most Revd Philip Richardson and the Most Revd Don Tamihere, wrote: “The disrespect for the normal protocols of the Anglican Communion and the lack of courtesy shown to our Church by these boundary-crossing bishops is disturbing, and we will be making an appropriate protest about their actions.

“We are especially concerned at the boundary crossing of bishops from the Anglican Church of Australia. We value our trans-Tasman relationship with our neighbouring Church and are disappointed to find a lack of respect for the jurisdiction of our Church….”

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Church of Australia, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, GAFCON, Marriage & Family, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Boston Globe) As his Alzheimer’s looms, Charles and Pam Ogletree take one last walk in love

What she now wants most is to keep him close: to care for him at home for as long as she can manage.

For the moment, it seems within her grasp. Most of the time, he is easygoing, though there are restless mornings when he paces through the house, flipping switches on and off, trying to escape an unease he cannot name.

Pam knows how quickly things can change. There was a time, late last year, when she thought she might have to let him go, to live in a place with more support, after his symptoms took a brief aggressive turn. Cooking dinner in their kitchen one evening last December, on a day when she could tell he was unsettled, she was startled when he pushed her, knocking over a jar, and then swung a hand at her when she asked him to stop. Alarmed, she called 911.

The responding officers spoke quietly to Charles, calmly asking him to come with them to the hospital. He resisted and was physically combative. In the hallway, overcome by fear and guilt, Pam could not bear to watch as the officers restrained her husband. At Cambridge Hospital, where he was confused but calm, they spent four days in the emergency room, waiting for a bed to open up at McLean Hospital in Belmont. Doctors there adjusted his medication, and the aggression disappeared, allowing him to go home again.

It felt to Pam like a reprieve, and she tried, in its wake, to anchor herself even more firmly in the present.

They still pray together many mornings, Pam kneeling on a sofa cushion on the floor in the living room while Charles sits and listens on the couch beside her. He no longer pipes up with addenda to her prayers, but he seems attentive, even calmed by what she says.

In the beginning, she prayed for him to get better. Now she prays more often for acceptance.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology

(NPR) An Advocate For Kazakhs Persecuted In China Is Banned From Activism In Kazakhstan

One afternoon last month, Serikjan Bilash went to the watchdog organization he co-founded in Almaty, Kazakhstan, to celebrate the opening of its new office.

Since its founding in 2017, the organization, Atajurt Eriktileri, has publicized thousands of accounts of ethnic Kazakhs who are among the primarily Muslim minorities rounded up in detention centers in Xinjiang, China.

But instead of entering the office that day, Bilash hovered outside the door, reaching only his hand in to greet well-wishers. The Kazakh government barred him from political activism for seven years for the charge of “inciting ethnic tensions.”

“I can work as a taxi driver. I can work as a cleaner or a barman. But I cannot work as a political person,” says Bilash, a Kazakh citizen born in China. “I can’t stand up, and I can’t speak openly to my nation. They closed my mouth.”

The punishment against Bilash has bolstered suspicions among Kazakh rights advocates that Kazakhstan’s government is working to silence a prominent critic of China in order to please its powerful neighbor and investment partner. That has sent chills through Kazakhstan’s Chinese-born community.

Read it all.

Posted in China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Islam, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution

(PBS) Youth suicide rates are on the rise in the U.S.

Suicides are on the rise among young Americans of all races, part of a grim national trend that has contributed to lower life expectancy overall, according to new federal data. But a separate study suggests that there are racial disparities in youth suicidal behavior, due in great part because some children lack access to vital resources.

While suicide was the 10th most common cause of death among Americans of all ages in 2017, it was the second leading cause of death among young Americans age 15 to 24, according to new data released [last] Thursday from the National Center for Health Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And no racial or ethnic group has been spared in this rising rate, said Sally Curtin, a statistician with the National Center for Health Statistics who has studied these suicide trends for years and served as the report’s lead author.

“The community at large needs to pay attention and figure out what’s going on, what’s driving these trends,” she said.

According to Heather Kelly, a clinical psychologist with the American Psychological Association, there is an urgent need for more research to seek out evidence-based ways to prevent suicide and help those who struggle with thoughts of self-harm, especially among veterans, the LGBTQ community, youth and young adults.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Stress, Suicide, Teens / Youth, Theology, Young Adults

(NYT) Biggest Late-Night Guests Now Bring a News Angle, Not a Movie Clip

In this supercharged news environment, anchors like Bret Baier and Chris Wallace, both of Fox News, have been late-night guests, as have the CBS News stalwarts Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell. When Ms. King and Ms. O’Donnell were the lead guests on Mr. Colbert’s live show after the State of the Union address in February, they drew an audience of 4.6 million.

Jay Sures, a co-president of the United Talent Agency, which represents many news anchors, said he had noticed a spike in bookings for his clients. “They’ve unintentionally become celebrities based on how the news business has become part of our daily routine in a way it never has before,” he said. “The Trump era has elevated news.”

Mr. Burnett, the former producer for Mr. Letterman, agreed. “As a rule, we weren’t trying to book politicians or pundits,” he said. “You were trying to book things that your audience cared about. Back then, people did not care about politics to the extent that they do now.”

As Mr. Tapper put it: “It’s a reflection of people just being incredibly engaged and fascinated and focused and horrified on everything going on in Washington. It’s definitely a new world.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Entertainment, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Movies & Television, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Donald Trump, Theology

Bishop Alan Smith says society must not accept child gambling ‘crisis’ following report

Responding to the 2019 Young People and Gambling report which was published on Wednesday, Bishop Alan said:

“This new evidence from the Gambling Commission provides welcome and much-needed insight into the world of gambling that children are living in

“There continue to be 55,000 children classed as “problem gamblers” and a further 87,000 at risk. While this remains a national scandal, the Commission uses detached phrases such as: “The 2019 results do not represent a significant increase over time.”

“Tens of thousands of families could be living in a nightmare with their child’s level of gambling activity. When the average spend on gambling by children is £17 per week it is evidence of potential serious family finance problems….

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Gambling, Religion & Culture

(BBC) British Parliament votes to delay Brexit

Boris Johnson has said he will press on “undaunted” with his Brexit strategy despite MPs backing the principle of a further delay to the process.

The PM vowed to introduce legislation needed to implement his “excellent” agreement in Parliament next week.

But he will have to ask the EU for an extension beyond 31 October after MPs backed a motion designed to rule out a no-deal exit by 322 votes to 306.

The EU said it was up to the UK to “inform it of the next steps”.

Ministers have signalled a vote on the PM’s revised Brexit agreement could now take place on Monday, depending on what the Speaker decides.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General

(WSJ) The New Parental Obsession: Checking Kids’ Grades Online

Teachers report mixed feelings about online grade books. Sean Riley, a high-school teacher in Seattle, said students and parents can become so focused on the metrics that they lose sight of the bigger picture. “It starts to turn learning into a series of tasks to be completed instead of a process of exercises to learn more,” he said.

Obsessive grade-checking is also symptomatic of the desire, peculiar to a generation that has grown up with everything just a swipe away, to receive instant gratification. Mr. Riley said this can lead to anxiety and disappointment in some students.

The upside is when students use the information to advocate for themselves.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

(David Ould) Diocese of Perth approves extra-marital sex for clergy and church workers

davidould.net understands this change was the subject of significant debate in the legislative committee for several months prior to synod but liberal voices were insistent.

The revised standard, which now means that sexual activity outside marriage is now considered appropriate for clergy and church workers, was adopted on the voices by synod.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Premiere) Bishops push for better support for women released from prison

The Bishop of Newcastle, together with the Bishop of Gloucester, hosted an event in the House of Lords on Tuesday 15 October to highlight the importance of finding suitable accommodation for women released from prison.

The event, supported by the Church Commissioners and Dame Caroline Spelman MP, brought together people and organisations from across the country who work with women in prison, in the community through Women’s Centres, housing providers and MPs. The event showcased powerful examples of how people are working to drive change for disadvantaged women.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Prison/Prison Ministry, Religion & Culture, Women

(ES) Jonathan Haidt: ‘Many people will soon find themselves mired in perpetual conflict over words’

“When the article came out we were braced for an enormous pushback. It was an explosive time, and things were beginning to get very strange politically in ways we’re only beginning to understand,” he says. “But the climate changed in early 2016, when the number of shutdowns and disinvitations grew, and everything got worse. Things were changing in ways that are really bad for what we do, so Greg and I decided we had to turn it into a book.”

Between the article and the book, which came out last year, Haidt’s research revealed a strong connection between Gen Z’s soaring rates of anxiety and depression (especially among girls), their emotional fragility and their upbringing . “Originally, we didn’t see how it all linked to childhood trends, such as fearful parenting and the decline of play. We also didn’t know, until research was published last year, that there was a sudden radicalisation among white progressives in 2014 about different types of inequality: feminism, racism, misogyny, white privilege, or any other term from the woke vocabulary.

“Another big shift came from changes in social media after 2012, through Twitter and Instagram. This new configuration has been much more effective at spreading outrage, because almost anything can be taken as an example of how awful the other side is if you strip it of context and put it out there.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Language, Philosophy, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology, Young Adults

(Economist) Drawing the line between anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel

One reason debate over Israel gets heated is that both sides question each other’s motives. Supporters of Israel note that anti-Semites often cloak their prejudice in criticism of the Jewish state. They say some views—like saying that Israel should not exist—are by definition anti-Semitic. Pro-Palestinian advocates retort that charges of Jew-hatred are intended to silence them.

Such mistrust has grown in Britain and America, as anti-Semitism has resurfaced at both political extremes. On the left, legislators in America have accused pro-Israel colleagues of dual loyalty, and implied that Jewish money bought Republican support for Israel. In 2012 Jeremy Corbyn, now the leader of Britain’s Labour Party, defended a mural depicting hook-nosed bankers.

The right has used similar innuendo, often by linking liberals to George Soros, a Jewish investor. Muddying matters more, Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, has also denounced Mr Soros. In America right-wing anti-Semitism also takes a more explicit, occasionally violent form. In 2017 marchers in Virginia chanted “Jews will not replace us.” And in 2018 a shooter at a synagogue in Pittsburgh killed 11 people.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Israel, Judaism, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Violence

(Sightings) Peter Sherlock–Religious Discrimination: The Australian Debate

Most submissions in response to the consultation draft of the bill agree that discrimination on the basis of religious belief—or its absence—should be prohibited. In this respect, the bill simply gives effect to article 18 of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, that everyone should have a right “to manifest … religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.” Moreover, in Australia, the national Constitution was written in the 1890s with a view to preventing religious interference in the making of laws. While Parliament still opens each day with the Lord’s Prayer, there arguably is a need for legislative protections against religious discrimination.

Several submissions, however, indicate significant opposition to the bill as it stands because its religious protections would facilitate other forms of discrimination. This includes, for the first time in modern Australia, the introduction of religious exemptions in discrimination legislation covering race and disability, paralleling those in sex discrimination legislation. Furthermore, the bill does not go far enough for some religious groups, who argue it would open them up to what the Catholic Church has described as “lawfare” in relation to employment practices at faith-based schools or agencies. The Sydney Anglican submission, for its part, dramatically argues that, as it is presently drafted, the bill would force the church to make its campsites available for hire for satanic black masses.

All the same, the debate surrounding the bill has largely overlooked two aspects of religious liberty. The first is religious harassment. This is a concept found in other discrimination laws, such as measures to define and prosecute sexual harassment. What will happen when conflicting religious beliefs and behaviors come into contact, including not only religious speech but religious dress, sounds, or rituals? How can the rights of people of no religion be protected? What are the limits of accommodation and respect?

The second regards the nature of power. We can glimpse this point in a unique provision of the bill: companies with a turnover greater than $50,000,000 would be prohibited from preventing its employees from expressing religious views that discriminate against others unless it can prove that such expression would lead to serious financial harm for the company. Discrimination which may lead to the harm of others is acceptable, in other words, unless it is going to cost a business a great deal of money. In modern Australia, money equals power; the widow and her mite would appear to have no protections whatsoever.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Australia / NZ, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution

(NPR) ‘Illegal Superstition’: China Jails Muslims For Practicing Islam, Relatives Say

This August, Aibota Zhanibek received a surprising call in Kazakhstan from a relative through Chinese chat app WeChat. It was about her sister, Kunekai Zhanibek.

Aibota, 35, a Kazakh citizen born in China, knew that Kunekai, 33, had been held for about seven months in a detention camp in China’s Shawan county, in the northwestern region of Xinjiang. For six of those months, Kunekai was forced to make towels and carpets for no pay, Aibota says. On the call, Aibota was told that Kunekai had been released and assigned a job in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang.

That was the good news. But the relative also told Aibota Zhanibek that her 65-year-old mother, Nurzhada Zhumakhan, had been sentenced in June to 20 years in Urumqi’s No. 2 Women’s Prison. According to a verdict sent to Zhanibek ‘s relatives, Zhumakhan was guilty of “illegally using superstition to break the rule of law” and “gathering chaos to disrupt social order.”

As Muslim Kazakhs, Zhanibek’s mother and sister are among the targets of a sprawling security operation by Chinese authorities.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) This is how to honour the referendum: Welby clarifies Bishops’ statement

A binary “winner-takes-all” approach to Brexit does not honour the result of the 2016 Referendum, the Archbishop of Canterbury said this week.

Archbishop Welby has written to clarify the College of Bishops’ statement, issued two weeks ago. He repeats his view that a no-deal Brexit would be a “moral failure”, an expression that attracted “intense criticism”, he reveals.

The College of Bishops produced a statement a fortnight ago which included the sentence: “In writing, we affirm our respect for the June 2016 Referendum, and our belief that the result should be honoured” (News, 4 October).

Archbishop Welby argues, in response to criticism of the statement, in the Church Times and elsewhere: “To honour or respect the 2016 Referendum result is not to sign up to Brexit at any cost.

“Honouring the result means no more than paying proper attention to an outcome that saw 52 per cent of those who voted favouring leave, but 48 per cent favouring remain.”

He goes on: “It does not mean that the Bishops have aligned themselves with any particular political party, faction, or wing within a party.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Church Leaders meet Secretary of State on Northern Ireland political impasse

From here:

“As the leaders all of the main Churches in Northern Ireland, we met in Armagh last evening with the Secretary of State to highlight our strong concerns regarding the continued Stormont impasse. We discussed with him the urgent need for the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly to address issues such as welfare reform mitigations, health and education policy, as well as the urgent economic and wider issues surrounding Brexit. In particular we conveyed our strongly held and shared conviction that the devolved institutions need to be restored before the 21 October to avoid unacceptably wide–ranging abortion legislation being imposed on Northern Ireland. The protection and the dignity of all human life is of vital importance, both women and unborn children – both lives matter.

“We believe that our Northern Ireland political parties have it in their own hands to do something about this. They all need to take risks, especially for the most vulnerable in society, and make the compromises necessary to find an accommodation that will restore the devolved institutions.”

Posted in Church of Ireland, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General

(CT) At the Upcoming Amazon Synod, Roman Catholic Leaders Are Discussing Married Priests, Female Church Leadership, and Climate Change

Right now, the Roman Catholic Church leaders are in the midst of a three-week long meeting discussing the future of their ministry in the Amazon. Among the issues the synod is investigating are how church leaders should respond to chronic priest shortages, the role of women in official church leadership, and environmental degradation.

Under the previous popes, John Paul II and Benedict the XVI, synods—or meetings convening all of the top brass of the Catholic church—were largely symbolic, says Christopher White, the national correspondent for the Catholic publication Crux. Not so with Pope Francis.

“His two synods on the family wrestled with, among other issues, communion. And in the end, after two synods and two years of deliberation, Pope Francis issued a document that allowed for a cautious opening to communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, which did move forward the Church’s pastoral teaching on that particular issue,” said White.

White suggested that the Amazon synod may conclude with similar progress.

“Among the many issues that they’re going to be discussing in Rome over the next three weeks is perhaps relaxing the celibacy requirement for priests because there is such a shortage of priests in the particular region of the Amazon. And they’re grappling with what to do about it,” he said.

White joined digital media producer Morgan Lee and editor in chief Mark Galli to discuss the real or symbolic importance of synods, what makes the Amazon region particularly vexing to the Church, and why Protestants should stay abreast of an important Catholic meeting.Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, Theology

(FA) The Unwinnable Trade War–Everyone Loses in the U.S.-Chinese Clash—but Especially Americans

In late June, the leaders of China and the United States announced at the G-20 meeting in Osaka, Japan, that they had reached a détente in their trade war. U.S. President Donald Trump claimed that the two sides had set negotiations “back on track.” He put on hold new tariffs on Chinese goods and lifted restrictions preventing U.S. companies from selling to Huawei, the blacklisted Chinese telecommunications giant. Markets rallied, and media reports hailed the move as a “cease-fire.”

That supposed cease-fire was a false dawn, one of many that have marked the on-again, off-again diplomacy between Beijing and Washington. All wasn’t quiet on the trade front; the guns never stopped blazing. In September, after a summer of heated rhetoric, the Trump administration increased tariffs on another $125 billion worth of Chinese imports. China responded by issuing tariffs on an additional $75 billion worth of U.S. goods. The United States might institute further tariffs in December, bringing the total value of Chinese goods subject to punitive tariffs to over half a trillion dollars, covering almost all Chinese imports. China’s retaliation is expected to cover 69 percent of its imports from the United States. If all the threatened hikes are put in place, the average tariff rate on U.S. imports of Chinese goods will be about 24 percent, up from about three percent two years ago, and that on Chinese imports of U.S. goods will be at nearly 26 percent, compared with China’s average tariff rate of 6.7 percent for all other countries.

The parties to this trade war may yet step back from the abyss. There have been over a dozen rounds of high-level negotiations without any real prospect of a settlement. Trump thinks that tariffs will convince China to cave in and change its allegedly unfair trade practices. China may be willing to budge on some issues, such as buying more U.S. goods, opening its market further to U.S. companies, and improving intellectual property protection, in exchange for the removal of all new tariffs, but not to the extent demanded by the Trump administration. Meanwhile, China hopes that its retaliatory actions will cause enough economic pain in the United States to make Washington reconsider its stance.

The numbers suggest that Washington is not winning this trade war. Although China’s economic growth has slowed, the tariffs have hit U.S. consumers harder than their Chinese counterparts. With fears of a recession around the corner, Trump must reckon with the fact that his current approach is imperiling the U.S. economy, posing a threat to the international trading system, and failing to reduce the trade deficit that he loathes.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General

(CJ) Are Cities Going to the Dogs?

Brooklyn’s Prospect Park is dog heaven. On sunny Saturday mornings, the park’s open green space, Long Meadow, fills with hundreds of canines frolicking during off-leash hours. The dogs’ owners hover nearby like watchful parents who, when playtime ends, head over to the nearby farmers’ market or go out for brunch. Later in the day, they might make time for doggie yoga or the pet bakery before coming home to their pet-friendly apartment buildings, many featuring dog baths and groomers.

Roughly 600,000 dogs live in New York City, along with half a million cats. About half of U.S. households own a pet, which adds up to at least 77 million dogs and 54 million cats. Generationally, millennials are the most enthusiastic pet owners, with some 70 percent boasting of having at least one pet.

What you’re less likely to see, especially in America’s largest cities, are children. Pets are now more common than kids in many U.S. cities. San Francisco, for example, is home to nearly 150,000 dogs but just 115,000 children under age 18. Farther north, Seattle has more households with cats than with kids. Nationwide, pets outnumber children in apartment buildings. In New York neighborhoods like Long Island City and Williamsburg, wealthy singles have the highest number of pooches per capita.

In a recent Atlantic essay, Derek Thompson wrote about how “America’s urban rebirth is missing a key element: births.” Manhattan’s infant population is projected to halve in 30 years. High-density cities are losing families with children over age six, while growing their populations of college-educated residents without children. Indeed, the share of children under 20 living in big cities has been falling for 40 years.

Young professionals’ four-legged friends have replaced those babies.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance & Investing, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Young Adults

(BBC) Edinburgh hosts world summit on ethical finance

Scotland’s role as a global leader in ethical finance is being highlighted at a world summit in Edinburgh.

Senior representatives from more than 200 companies and organisations are attending Ethical Finance 2019.

Speakers include Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The summit aims to “help define and shape the transition to a sustainable financial system where finance delivers positive change”.

The event is being hosted by the Scotland-based Global Ethical Finance Initiative (GEFI).

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Posted in --Justin Welby, --Scotland, Archbishop of Canterbury, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance, Scotland, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector

(Economist) Is The best way to eradicate poverty in America to focus on children?

Elderly residents of Inez, the tiny seat of Martin County, Kentucky, deep in the heart of Appalachia, can still vividly remember the day the president came to town. Fifty-five years ago, while stooping on a porch, Lyndon Johnson spoke at length to Tom Fletcher (pictured), a white labourer with no job, little education and eight children. “I have called for a national war on poverty,” Johnson announced immediately afterwards. “Our objective: total victory.” That declaration transformed Fletcher and Martin County into the unwitting faces of the nation’s battle, often to the chagrin of local residents who resented the frequent pilgrimages of journalists and photographers. The story never changed much: Fletcher continued to draw disability cheques for decades and never became self-sufficient before his death in 2004. His family continued to struggle with addiction and incarceration.

Today Martin County remains deeply poor—30% of residents live below the official poverty line (an income of less than $25,750 a year for a family of four). Infrastructure is shoddy. The roads up the stunning forested mountains that once thundered with the extraction of coal now lie quiet, cracked to the point of corrugation. Problems with pollution because of leaky pipes mean that some parts of the county are without running water for days. “Our water comes out orange, blue and with dirt chunks in it,” says BarbiAnn Maynard, a resident agitating for repairs. She and her family have not drunk the water from their taps since 2000; it is suitable only for flushing toilets. Some residents gather drinking water from local springs or collect rainwater in inflatable paddling pools.

The ongoing poverty is not for lack of intervention. The federal government has spent trillions of dollars over the past 55 years. Programmes have helped many. But they also remain fixated on the problems of the past, largely the elderly and the working poor, leaving behind non-working adults and children. As a result, America does a worse job than its peers of helping the needy of today. By the official poverty measure, there were 40m poor Americans in 2017, or 12% of the population. This threshold is extremely low: for a family of four, it amounts to $17.64 per person per day. About 18.5m people have only half that amount and are mired in deep poverty. Children are the likeliest age group to experience poverty—there are nearly 13m of them today, or 17.5% of all American children.

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Poverty

Anglicare Australia calls for Robodebt system to be suspended

Anglicare Australia called for Centrelink’s Robodebt system to be suspended at a Senate committee hearing today.

“The Robodebt system has no human oversight – and it puts the onus onto ordinary people to correct robotised mistakes,” said Anglicare Australia Executive Director Kasy Chambers.

“The Government has already admitted that the system that has saddled people with tens of millions of dollars in false debt. But that is just the tip of the iceberg.

“Many people are simply paying these false debts instead of challenging them. In other cases, the debts are so old that the records to contradict them no longer exist.”

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Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance & Investing, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(Diocese of Oxford) A Christian response to Brexit

  1. –Watch over other faith and minority ethnic communities. Hate crimes and crimes against other faiths increased after the 2016 referendum. Reconnect with the mosques, synagogues and gudwaras in your area.
  2. –Encourage truthful and honest debate. The renewal of our politics will need to be local as well as national. Plan now to host hustings during the General Election campaign. Don’t be afraid of the political space but step into it with a message of faith, hope and love.
  3. –Pray in public worship and private prayer for the healing of our political life, for wisdom for those who lead us, for reconciliation between communities and for stability in our government.

Don’t underestimate what we can achieve if every church, chaplaincy and school does something and if every Christian disciple takes some action, however small.

Don’t take on too much either: loving our neighbour through the Brexit process needs to be woven into everything we do anyway, not simply added into busy lives. Don’t be limited by this checklist – you might have even better ideas. If you do, spread them around.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Religion & Culture