Category : Anthropology

(CL) Southeastern’s Karen Swallow Prior: Why the Pro-Life Movement Must Prioritize Nuance, Education and the Imagination Post-Roe

Yet even though she is grateful that Roe has been overturned, Prior cautioned Christians against being hasty with how they move forward, saying that Roe’s absence gives us a unique opportunity to create beneficial legislation.

“For example,” said Prior, “we need to learn the difference between between intervening in the case of an ectopic pregnancy, which is going to be fatal to both mother and child and an abortion.” Because Roe was the law of the land for so long, Christians haven’t had to think through how the answer to such questions will impact the laws we create—but now in some states we have new opportunities.

Said Prior, “We’re going to have to educate ourselves quickly and thoughtfully and not just rush to put legislation in place that would be disastrous or uninformed or medically irresponsible. Of course, we want all of these laws to protect all of the human lives involved, but that’s not something that happens quickly and overnight. We have to really understand what it means to be pro-life and how to apply that in principle.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(AC) Georgette Forney–Why are Anglicans Pro-Life?

People often say that abortion isn’t mentioned in the Bible. But the command to protect and honor Life is implicit in every word of Scripture.

First, we need to understand that the value of human life is based in our creation by God and in our redemption through Jesus. “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own, you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Our lives have value not because they are ours but because they are His! For this reason, we must live our lives giving glory to God and living in His statues. In this way, Scripture firmly contradicts the “my body, my choice” mantra of abortion supporters.

Second, because our lives have value in Him, we as His people are called to protect and honor all Life. The clearest evidence of this is in the commandment, “You shall not murder.” (Exodus 20:13) But even earlier, in the book of Genesis, God declares that the spilling of man’s blood is inherently wrong, due to our status as God’s beloved creation: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.” (Genesis 9:6)

True, society in general believes that murder is wrong. However, Scriptures show that “valuing” Life goes beyond avoiding the act of killing. Honoring the sacredness of Life means serving those in need and sharing the love of God. Christ demonstrates how we should do this: “For I was hungry, and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty, and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in…Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me.” (Matthew 25:41-45) Being a life-affirming Christian means more than opposing death—it means serving those who are hurting, lonely, and broken. It means caring for the “least of these,”—the unborn, the homeless, the single mothers, the elderly, and the handicapped. Because our lives are valuable to God, so theirs must be to us.

God didn’t “forget” to talk about abortion, assisted suicide, or euthanasia in the Scriptures. The gift of Life is proclaimed in all of God’s commands and in everything that God has created, including us.

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Language, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Theology

(World) Erin Hawley and Kristen Waggoner on the historic Dobbs decision–A victory for life and the Constitution

The U.S. Supreme Court’s courageous decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is a win for life and the Constitution. That historic ruling finally reverses the court’s disastrous opinion in Roe v. Wade—a decision that made up a constitutional right to abortion and resulted in the deaths of more than 60 million unborn children. Because of the court’s ruling in Dobbs, states may now fully protect unborn life.

The Mississippi law at issue in the case, the Gestational Age Act, protects unborn children and the health of their pregnant mothers based on the latest science. It protects unborn life after 15 weeks of gestational age—a point in time when babies can move and stretch, hiccup, and quite likely feel pain. It permits abortions to save the life of the mother or for severe fetal abnormalities. Despite the modesty of Mississippi’s law, the lower courts struck it down because no matter what science showed, or how strong a state’s interest in protecting unborn life was, under the Roe regime, states may not protect life until viability—about 22 weeks of gestational age.

Dobbs is a win for life. Fifty years of scientific progress and innovation establish what the Bible has always taught: Life begins at conception. Ultrasound technology allows expectant parents to see the truth of Psalm 139: Children are fearfully and wonderfully made from the very beginning.

Under Roe v. Wade, moreover, the United States has been an extreme outlier in abortion law and policy. As the chief justice noted during oral arguments, the United States is one of only six nations, including China and North Korea, that allow elective abortions through all nine months of pregnancy. The Washington Post recently ranked the United States as the fourth most liberal abortion country in the world. Most countries do not allow elective abortions at all, and 75 percent protect life after 12 weeks of gestation.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Supreme Court, Theology

(Scotus Blog) Supreme Court argues that constitutional right to abortion did not and does not exist

The Supreme Court on Friday eliminated the constitutional right to obtain an abortion, casting aside 49 years of precedent that began with Roe v. Wade.

The decision by Justice Samuel Alito will set off a seismic shift in reproductive rights across the United States. It will allow states to ban abortion, and experts expect about half the states to do so.

In one of the most anticipated rulings in decades, the court overturned Roe, which first declared a constitutional right to abortion in 1973, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which re-affirmed that right in 1992. The decision followed the leak in early May of a draft opinion showing that a majority of the justices were privately poised to take that step. On Friday, they made it official.

The vote was 6-3. Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett joined Alito’s opinion. Chief Justice John Roberts did not join the opinion but agreed with the result and filed a separate opinion. The court’s three liberals, Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, filed a joint dissent.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Supreme Court, Theology

(Local Paper) Mental health experts say deep TMS therapy should have a larger public health impact

He and his wife had just welcomed a new baby boy. Life was supposed to be good, he thought.

“I found myself, in the moments that should’ve been the most joy-filled moments in my life, just feeling absent or despondent,” Hogan said.

Hogan is part of an estimated 10-30 percent of patients with major depression who don’t respond to typical antidepressant medications like Zoloft or Prozac.

But since starting a rather new therapy in 2020, deep transcranial magnetic stimulation, he’s felt better than he ever has.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, Health & Medicine, Psychology

(PD) Ryan Anderson–Anthropological Fallacies

The attentive reader will have noticed that body-self dualism is intimately related to expressive individualism, another key anthropological fallacy of our age. If the body is a mere costume or vehicle—an instrument of the desiring self—then that self should use the body to express its inner truth. Of course the person of the Psalms, of St. Paul’s epistles, and of St. Augustine’s Confessions was also a “self” in the sense of having an interior life. But the inward turn of the biblical tradition was at the service of the outward turn toward God. The person was a creature of God, who sought to conform himself to the truth, to objective moral standards, particularly having to do with his bodily self, in pursuit of eternal life.

Modern man, however, seeks to be “true to himself.” Rather than conform thoughts, feelings, and actions to objective reality (including the body), man’s inner life itself becomes the source of truth. The modern self finds himself in the midst of what Robert Bellah has described as a culture of “expressive individualism”—where each of us seeks to give expression to our individual inner lives, rather than seeing ourselves as embodied beings, embedded in communities and bound by natural and supernatural laws. Authenticity to inner feelings, rather than adherence to transcendent truths, becomes the norm.

Rather than seeing ourselves as what Gilbert Ryle referred to as ghosts in machines, where the real self is the mind, or the will, or the consciousness, that somehow inhabits a body and makes use of the body as a mere instrument, we should see ourselves as incarnate, bodily beings—dependent rational animals, as Alasdair MacIntyre explains. Only if my body is me, if I’m an embodied soul, or an ensouled body, a dynamic unity of mind and matter, body and soul, can we make sense of the truthful positions on these four issues. Given our bodily nature—which itself is a personal nature—certain ends are naturally good for us. Body-self dualism, and its social manifestation in expressive individualism, underlie the rejection of our given human natures with given human goods that perfect our natures.

So any effective apologetics agenda on anthropology would need to center on responding to body-self dualism and the rejection of natural law that expressive individualism entails.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Philosophy, Theology

(Church Times) Bishops unite to condemn ‘shameful’ Rwanda plan for asylum-seekers

The Government’s “offshoring” policy, under which the first people are due to be deported to Rwanda as early as Tuesday, “should shame us as a nation”, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and 23 other bishops, have said.

The policy was included in the Nationality and Borders Act, which came into law in April despite objections and attempted amendments from bishops and other peers (News, 29 April). It was explicitly criticised by Archbishop Welby in his Easter sermon (News, 27 April), and reportedly by the Prince of Wales last week, who is said to have called it “appalling” in a private conversation.

Last week, campaigners failed to win an injunction against the policy in the High Court, which ruled that it was in the “public interest” for the Government to carry it out. An appeal on Monday was rejected for the same reason. A full hearing on whether the policy is lawful is due to take place next month.

In a letter due to be published in The Times on Tuesday, the full complement of bishops who sit in the House of Lords have written: “Whether or not the first deportation flight leaves Britain today for Rwanda, this policy should shame us as a nation.” The letter continues: “The shame is our own, because our Christian heritage should inspire us to treat asylum seekers with compassion, fairness and justice, as we have for centuries.”

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

(NYT front page) Senators Agree On Framework For Gun Safety

Senate negotiators announced on Sunday that they had struck a bipartisan deal on a narrow set of gun safety measures with sufficient support to move through the evenly divided chamber, a significant step toward ending a yearslong congressional impasse on the issue.

The agreement, put forth by 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats and endorsed by President Biden and top Democrats, includes enhanced background checks to give authorities time to check the juvenile and mental health records of any prospective gun buyer under the age of 21 and a provision that would, for the first time, extend to dating partners a prohibition on domestic abusers having guns.

It would also provide funding for states to enact so-called red-flag laws that allow authorities to temporarily confiscate guns from people deemed to be dangerous, as well as money for mental health resources and to bolster safety and mental health services at schools.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, House of Representatives, Politics in General, President Joe Biden, Senate, Violence

(Guardian) Archbp Justin Welby–‘Is a world without violent conflict really possible?’

The effort we are rightly making to support Ukraine in defending itself against aggression needs to be matched by efforts towards negotiation, dialogue, reconciliation and peace. You cannot have one without the other. Our challenge is to put in place the infrastructures of reconciliation and the architecture of peacebuilding that enable disagreement to happen robustly, but not violently.

In a culture that often expects instant results and gratification, this work does not happen overnight. There is no “kiss and make up” moment. More often, there is the gradual transformation – sometimes over generations – of enmity and hostility to respect and trust. I clearly remember a leader in Northern Ireland being interviewed on the radio in the early summer of 1998, a few weeks after the signing of the Good Friday agreement. He was asked whether reconciliation had been “achieved”, and responded that the idea that something called reconciliation could be achieved in weeks, after 30 years of the Troubles and several centuries of bitterness, was absurd.

Deep wounds take a long time to become scars. Each of us carries our own pain, which makes it difficult to apologise and to forgive where we have wronged and been wronged. When we look towards reconciliation, we must also recognise – and have compassion for – our own conflicted and hurting hearts. Reconciliation is often risky and always costly – but it is less costly than the alternative.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology, Violence

(ABC Aus.) Mark Thompson–I contend that twelve bishops did defy the will of the Australian General Synod on marriage and sexual ethics

In a recent opinion piece, Matthew Anstey provided an account of the recent debate in the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia over the meaning of marriage. While this piece largely elaborated the Archbishop of Brisbane’s recent letter to his clergy, it contained such egregious errors of fact and attribution of motive that it calls for a response.

At the General Synod last month, two statements were presented formally at the request of the Diocese of Sydney, though both those statements had been extensively workshopped with members of the synod outside of Sydney — laypeople, clergy, and bishops, women and men, same-sex attracted people and other-sex attracted people. Their final form was greatly improved by this extensive interaction. Both of these statements were reaffirmations of a determination to live according to the teaching of Christ as it is given to us in the Bible.

When each statement was put to the vote, the vote was taken in houses (laity, clergy, bishops). This is an entirely legitimate procedure. There are obvious disadvantages of such a procedure, since it means that the measure must pass in each of the three houses in order to pass overall. There are also very obvious advantages, particularly since the order of voting ensures that laity or clergy are free to vote prior to, and therefore without direction from, the bishops.

In the case of the first statement, specifically affirming the biblical teaching about marriage, the house of laity approved the statement (63/47) as did the house of clergy (70/39), but the house of bishops (which only contains the presiding bishop in each diocese, not every bishop of a diocese) narrowly voted to reject the statement (12/10 with 2 abstentions). This created consternation among many since the synod as a whole had voted so very clearly in support of it (without the bishops 133/86). The twelve bishops who voted against the statement had declined to listen to a very clear majority of the synod.

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Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(TLS) Norma Clarke reviews William Leith’s ‘The Cut That Wouldn’t Heal’

Just as I’m thinking “This sounds like Holden Caulfield. Is he channelling J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye?”, William Leith mentions Karl Ove Knausgaard. Knausgaard’s series of books, My Struggle, chronicles his thoughts and feelings, beginning with his father’s death. Leith orders the series, and when it arrives in the post he is terrified – he feels “dread”, wants to put the books on a high shelf with the spines facing the wall. Then, when he begins reading the first volume, A Death in the Family, he is gripped. Leith often depicts himself having two opposed reactions. In his earlier memoir, The Hungry Years: Confessions of a food addict (2005), he writes: “I am always too empty, and yet too full. I am always too full, and yet too empty”. There’s quite a lot of that here.

Leith came early to the confessional writing game. A Guardian article published in 2005, by which time his tortured relationship to food, drink, money and drugs had become a staple of his journalism, described him as the “poster boy of binge living”. His binge living was driven by anxiety, and the writing about it, displaying his appetite for self-harm and honing his expertise in liking himself less and less, gave him a living. The Cut That Wouldn’t Heal has a present-tense immediacy, beginning ten seconds before his father’s death, but some of the material is recycled from earlier writings. The “cut” of the title is on his father’s leg, and Leith doesn’t press the obvious metaphorical application to himself. Beginning with his birth, which his father didn’t welcome, and continuing through a childhood in which his father was mostly absent, physically and emotionally, Leith charts the many ways he failed to be good enough. His father, a psychologist, apparently didn’t notice or didn’t care that his son was bleeding.

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Posted in Anthropology, Books, Children, Marriage & Family, Psychology

(CT) Mark Fugitt–Pastors in the Valley of Death Row

In 2015, The Week highlighted the psychological impact of witnessing executions. They profiled reporter and spokesperson Michelle Lyons, who spent a decade watching 278 executions. Lyons reported a wearing down over time as she got to know the inmates.

In their survey of San Quentin State Prison employees, many reported anxiety and said they “felt estranged or detached from other people.” Data published by The American Journal of Psychiatry also showed that witnessing an execution had a strong psychological impact on journalists—and could “cause symptoms of dissociative disorder… in the weeks following.”

These journalists often had no close connection to the condemned and actively tried to remain detached throughout the process. They also had no physical contact with the individual, and yet they still showed the same signs of social detachment afterwards.

This means that without the proper care, spiritual advisers will see an impact in the very area that is most required of their ministry: connecting with people. Ironically, that sense of human connection—which causes them pain in watching their parishioner executed—is the very thing that could undermine their ability to be effective in that role in the future.

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Posted in Anthropology, Capital Punishment, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Prison/Prison Ministry, Theology

(World) A conversation with Andy Crouch–How can we live lives of sacrificial love and glorify God in this technological age?

AC: It is this incredible thing. And, you know, the the idea of wiring, although it’s drawn from computers, it’s close to the truth, in the sense that built into our neurons, you know, which are transmitters of chemical and electrical signals, built into our neurons is the capacity for and the need to have another person or other persons over time, pay attention to us, respond to us, mirror back to us who we are. And you know, a generation ago, even when I was born, I’m in my 50s now, doctors might well have told a mother who was giving birth, oh, your child really is a blank slate. Like they just come into the world, you know, they won’t do anything very interesting for a while. And we now know this is so not true. That babies arrive, and literally in the moments after birth, they open their eyes. And they can’t focus their eyes, they don’t have the muscles to focus, you know, to adjust the focus of their eyes. But their eyes are built to focus if they’re a normal sighted baby, six to eight inches away, which is exactly where a baby is when the mother is holding the child. And, and when a baby sees a face, I mean you can see it on their face, they pay attention. They focus on it. And then studies of this show, literally, neurologically, you’re like lighting up, your brain is ready to see a face the moment you’re born. So I start the book that way, because I want us to keep in mind, like what we most need as human beings is this connection with other persons. We absolutely require it to survive. And I actually think it’s something that is a bit in peril and in danger in our technological world, is so many people kind of miss out whether early in life or later in life on that recognition we all need.

WS: Yeah, and that also provides context for another key point that you make fairly early in the book, but I think, I would say pervades the book. And that is this idea that with technology, with the growth and the ubiquity of technology in our lives and in our culture, there also comes this pathology or this condition of loneliness that has also become ubiquitous in our culture, as well. In other words, this deep need for recognition, which now we too often satisfy with technology, which is not really an appropriate satisfaction of that need – it’s impersonal and and not proximate and all of the rest – has created this pervasive loneliness in our culture. You quote for example, Ben Sasse, and others to make that point. Can you, can you say a little more about this idea of loneliness?

AC: Yeah, I mean, if you imagine what, what it was like, not that long ago. I mean, a few generations ago, you would live in a world where every day, you’d be interacting with other people to get things done. Like that, that’s the only way human beings got things done was together, often in fairly stable communities. And then of course, you’d have animals that you worked with, and animals recognize us as well, domesticated animals do. And you, you would also live, if you lived back in the kind of fully Christianized era of Western history, you would live in a world that you saw as personal. You believed you were in a world made by a God who was known as Father and you were part of that whole system, and everything you saw around you was somehow a reflection of God. All those things have been eroded by technology. So first, modernity started to lose the idea that the world was a personal place inherently. And we started to think of the world in terms of kind of, you know, Newton’s science, that was much more like a machine, like a clock. And then we started using machines to get a lot things done. And that means we have fewer, I don’t know, you know, I won’t get into this in the book, but I think it’s kind of striking, we have very lot fewer animals in our lives, actually. The other fewer creatures around us that we care for, starting from when we’re children, and then in the way that agricultural households would have done. And then we start to be able to get things done without actually being in the presence of persons. So we’ve lost the personal world. We’ve lost our connection to kind of these fellow creatures that we have a responsibility for. And then we have, we’ve lost the kind of face to face relationships that human beings have always had. And we have these substitutes, and, but there’s a big difference between personalized and personal. So my devices are very, I mean, they recognize me now. You know, I look at my phone, and it recognizes my face. But that is not the same thing. As you know, even seeing your face on Zoom. And we’ve met, we’ve been together a few times in person, and I remember you and you remember me. But Zoom is a thin version of a thing that every human being needs to thrive. And, and because we have these simulations, or these substitutes, and because we can get a lot done with them, more and more of us live more and more of our lives actually cut off in all these dimensions from what we were actually made for, I think, which is ultimately love. I mean, we’re made for love we’re made, and that starts with recognition and presence with other people.

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Posted in Anthropology, History, Science & Technology, Theology

Food for Thought from John Calvin on his Feast Day—-Do We see The Truth About Ourselves?

For (such is our innate pride) we always seem to ourselves just, and upright, and wise, and holy, until we are convinced, by clear evidence, of our injustice, vileness, folly, and impurity. Convinced, however, we are not, if we look to ourselves only, and not to the Lord also—He being the only standard by the application of which this conviction can be produced. For, since we are all naturally prone to hypocrisy, any empty semblance of righteousness is quite enough to satisfy us instead of righteousness itself….

So long as we do not look beyond the earth, we are quite pleased with our own righteousness, wisdom, and virtue; we address ourselves in the most flattering terms, and seem only less than demigods. But should we once begin to raise our thoughts to God, and reflect what kind of Being he is, and how absolute the perfection of that righteousness, and wisdom, and virtue, to which, as a standard, we are bound to be conformed, what formerly delighted us by its false show of righteousness will become polluted with the greatest iniquity; what strangely imposed upon us under the name of wisdom will disgust by its extreme folly; and what presented the appearance of virtuous energy will be condemned as the most miserable impotence. So far are those qualities in us, which seem most perfect, from corresponding to the divine purity.

–John Calvin, Institutes I.1.2

Posted in Anthropology, Church History

(Scotsman) Church of Scotland General Assembly 2022: Kirk says ministers can conduct same-sex marriages

The General Assembly voted by 274 to 136 to approve a change in church law to allow the move, but ministers who do not want to conduct such weddings will not have to.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Scotland, Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CC) Jason Byassee–The unexpected gift of missional friendship

Joas Adiprasetya, a pastor and seminary professor in Jakarta, Indonesia, has proposed an alternative to our ubiquitous “servant leadership” paradigm. He calls it philiarchy, the rule of friendship. “I have called you friends,” Jesus says, still dripping wet from the foot washing (John 15:15). This friendship is not one-sided. Jesus needs his friends, just as they need him. The rule of philiarchy means we honor others’ personhood and don’t try to subsume it into our projects, our needs, our selves.

Adiprasetya invited me to speak at his seminary. I invited him to Vancouver to teach our students. This isn’t favoritism to a friend. It’s creative friendship. We wanted our students to learn from each other. Our friends and our friends’ friends were blessed. We trusted what we were going to get precisely because we’d spent time together doing nothing but enjoying one another. He introduced me to durian—a fruit banned on public transit across Asia for its pungency and now banned from the Byassee household as well. I heard him preach in Indonesian with the fervor that I wanted among my students in Vancouver. He studied Jürgen Moltmann’s social trinitarianism. I hate social trinitarianism. I knew I was in love.

Creative friendship is worth the risk. Just ask Jesus, Peter, James, and John. When Jesus commands us to love one another, to befriend as God has done in Christ, it is hard to wriggle off the hook. Creative friendship is a means of salvation, not less promised by Christ than the sacraments or the scriptures or creation itself.

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Posted in Anthropology, Canada, Indonesia, Parish Ministry

(CT) Russell Moore on the SBC Report on Sexual Abuse–This Is the Southern Baptist Apocalypse

Someone asked me a few weeks ago what I expected from the third-party investigation into the handling of sexual abuse by the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee. I said I didn’t expect to be surprised at all. How could I be? I lived through years with that entity. I was the one who called for such an investigation in the first place.

And yet, as I read the report, I found that I could not swipe the screen to the next page because my hands were shaking with rage. That’s because, as dark a view as I had of the SBC Executive Committee, the investigation uncovers a reality far more evil and systemic than I imagined it could be.

The conclusions of the report are so massive as to almost defy summation. It corroborates and details charges of deception, stonewalling, and intimidation of victims and those calling for reform. It includes written conversations among top Executive Committee staff and their lawyers that display the sort of inhumanity one could hardly have scripted for villains in a television crime drama. It documents callous cover-ups by some SBC leaders and credible allegations of sexually predatory behavior by some leaders themselves, including former SBC president Johnny Hunt (who was one of the only figures in SBC life who seemed to be respected across all of the typical divides).

And then there is the documented mistreatment by the Executive Committee of a sexual abuse survivor, whose own story of her abuse was altered to make it seem that her abuse was a consensual “affair”—resulting, as the report corroborates, in years of living hell for her.

For years, leaders in the Executive Committee said a database—to prevent sexual predators from quietly moving from one church to another, to a new set of victims—had been thoroughly investigated and found to be legally impossible, given Baptist church autonomy. My mouth fell open when I read documented proof in the report that these very people not only knew how to have a database, they already had one.

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Posted in Anthropology, Baptist, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

(Lifeway) 5 Areas of Life as a Pastor You Can’t Ignore

As you’re reading this, you probably have a commitment hanging over your head or a relentless deadline that won’t stop nagging you. Chances are, you’re tired. You’re a human being, not a human doing. But the Father loves your being more than your doing.

Some recent findings from Lifeway Research’s Greatest Needs of Pastors study show half of U.S. Protestant pastors say they need to focus on time management. Slightly more (55%) believe over-commitment is an issue they need to address.

Based on these findings, most of us in ministry need this reminder: If you never close another gap in your leadership, if you never take your game up a notch, God’s love for you remains full, like a gas tank that never empties no matter how far you drive. Former Lifeway president Jimmy Draper said, “God did not call us first to His service, He called us first to Himself.”

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(IFS) Leonard Sax–Does the Word ‘Gentleman’ Still Mean Anything Today? Here’s Why It Should

Boys are not born knowing what it means to be a gentleman. They must be taught. My concern is that in our current era, many parents have little idea what to say to their son on this topic. So the boy looks to the Internet, and what he finds there is Bruno Mars and Drake, Eminem and Akon, or John Mayer boasting about his collection of pornography.

I have visited more than 460 schools over the past 21 years, and I have found that most boys are hungry to have a conversation about what it means to be a good man. I have led those discussions with boys, where I suggest the following definitions as a starting point for conversation:

  • A gentleman governs his passions rather than being governed by them. As Supreme Allied Commander during the Second World War, Dwight D. Eisenhower would quote Proverbs 16:32: “Greater is he who can rule his own spirit than he who takes a city,” a verse his mother had taught him in childhood.
  • A gentleman never strikes a woman, not even in self-defense.
  • A gentleman never touches a woman without her consent.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Men, Pastoral Theology

The Bishop of Durham calls for end of the Two Child Limit

Bishop of Durham calls for the end of the Two Child Limit with Private Members Bill

Today, a Private Members’ Bill which would abolish the two child limit to Universal Credit was drawn from the ballot, to be introduced in the coming session by the Bishop of Durham. For the last five years, support provided by the child element of Universal Credit has been limited to the first two children. The Universal Credit (Removal of Two Child Limit) Bill would remove the restriction introduced in 2016 and reinstate entitlement of support for all children and qualifying young people.

The Bishop of Durham, the Right Reverend Paul Butler said about the bill: “There is a huge amount of evidence that says that the two child limit is pushing larger families into poverty. There were significant concerns about this raised at the time the limit was introduced, and they have proved true five years later.

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) Poor nations must have access to Covid vaccine, African faith leaders argue

Prominent faith leaders in Africa, including Anglican and Roman Catholic archbishops, have implored the world’s governments to support a People’s Vaccine movement, to ensure that the world’s most vulnerable people have protection against the Covid-19 virus.

On the eve of the global Covid-19 summit of world leaders convened by President Biden, 45 faith leaders issued a joint People Vaccine Alliance statement, calling for an “immediate action to address the massive inequities in the global pandemic response”.

The statement, issued on Thursday, says: “We are one global family, where our problems are tightly interconnected. However, we know the greatest impediment to people getting their vaccinations, tests, and treatment is inequity.

“World leaders must renew their approach to tackling the response to the global pandemic by treating Covid-19 vaccines, tests, and treatment — not as commodities but as public goods, which all people have the right to access. We encourage world leaders to unite and stand in solidarity with people from low-income countries by supporting a People’s Vaccine.”

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Posted in - Anglican: Latest News, Africa, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Roman Catholic

(Stat News) Transfusion of brain fluid from young mice is a memory-elevating elixir for old animals

For a human, one of the first signs someone is getting old is the inability to remember little things; maybe they misplace their keys, or get lost on an oft-taken route. For a laboratory mouse, it’s forgetting that when bright lights and a high-pitched buzz flood your cage, an electric zap to the foot quickly follows.

But researchers at Stanford University discovered that if you transfuse cerebrospinal fluid from a young mouse into an old one, it will recover its former powers of recall and freeze in anticipation. They also identified a protein in that cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF, that penetrates into the hippocampus, where it drives improvements in memory.

The tantalizing breakthrough, published Wednesday in Nature, suggests that youthful factors circulating in the CSF, or drugs that target the same pathways, might be tapped to slow the cognitive declines of old age. Perhaps even more importantly, it shows for the first time the potential of CSF as a vehicle to get therapeutics for neurological diseases into the hard-to-reach fissures of the human brain.

“This is the first study that demonstrates real improvement in cognitive function with CSF infusion, and so that’s what makes it a real milestone,” said Maria Lehtinen, a neurologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, who was not involved in the new research. “The super-exciting direction here is that it lends support to the idea that we can harness the CSF as a therapeutic avenue for a broad range of conditions.”

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Posted in Animals, Anthropology, Science & Technology, Theology

(CC) Timothy Jones interviews Rowan Williams–Eastern wisdom for Western Christians

At the outset of his Confessions we see his renowned prayer that “our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee.” That affirms what you’ve been saying about seeing ourselves as unfinished: even at the beginning of his spiritual autobiography he tees that recognition up.

He does. Because if we see ourselves as finished, if there’s nothing more to long for, it’s as if we are blocking off a pathway toward the deep source of our being, which is God.

If we try to imagine ourselves standing on our own internal foundation, being in ourselves solid, grounded individuals, the truth is we are going to be very disappointed—because the truth is beneath and beyond. Our life opens up to the generous and creative gift of God.

Perhaps no period has riveted so much attention to confessional, personal narratives as ours has. Augustine seemed prescient in this. For him, identity was “storied,” as someone put it.

Our identity is something that always grows. What Augustine doesn’t like is the idea that somehow there’s a moment of static perfection and achievement, after which we can stop growing. Oddly enough, that’s why he’s so critical of the extreme ecclesiastical puritans of his day, the Donatists. What do they mean when they pray, “forgive us our trespasses”? Do they really not expect that they are going to be trespassing every day? So that’s part of the story: an interest in our own growth.

But Augustine looks at his life and experience and says, it’s not me who makes a story of this, ultimately. It is God who does that, because the witness of my life is God.

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Posted in --Rowan Williams, Anthropology, Church History, Orthodox Church, Theology

Australian Anglican Bishops affirm Christian definitions of chastity and unchastity but then narrowly veto support for Marriage

(Please note: for key background material on this you need to read this,that and this; KSH).

In his closing comments the mover of the motion, Archbishop Kanishka Raffel of Sydney, laid out what he understood to be the pivotal moment that the synod had arrived at; what synod was being asked to affirm here is unremarkable and if it could not pass then “something is fundamentally awry”. He reminded the attentive hall that a failure to pass the motion would effectively be adopting a stance contrary to that which had been repeatedly affirmed by successive General Synods.

The vote was called and immediately there was a move to call the vote by houses. Synod voted as follows:

For Against
Laity 63 47
Clergy 70 39
Bishops 10 12

Despite an overwhelming majority (greater than that in favour of same-sex marriage amongst the general population in the recent plebiscite) the Bishops narrowly voted against. Archbishop Raffel asked for leave for a personal statement and reminded the synod that this was a tipping point issue in Provinces around the Communion, going so far as to suggest that if dioceses now proceeded to simply act on their own on this contentious matter there was, perhaps, little point in meeting together in this way in the future.

Following a request from Raffel we adjourned early for lunch.

The mood around the room was best described as sombre. There were tears and prayers amongst many of the orthodox. The common lament was that our bishops could so willingly abandon orthodoxy and in the face of such a clear majority amongst the church.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Tuesday food for Thought from Karl Barth

‘It is undoubtedly a way into the far country, and includes an inconceivable humiliation and condescension and self-abasement of God, that in His Son He wills to become and actually does become a man’ CD IV.2 sec 64, cited by yours truly in the Sunday sermon

Posted in Anthropology, Christology, Church History, Theology

([London] Times) Boomers go on courses to understand young staff

Baby boomer and Generation X bosses are going on courses to help them understand younger employees and get more out of them in the workplace.

Experts say that millennials and Generation Z actually speak a different language to older colleagues, causing friction in the office.

It follows a tribunal last month in which a trainee accountant was sacked after his boss claimed he was “too demanding, like his generation of millennials”.

Dr Elizabeth Michelle, a psychologist who gives workshops on how to handle millennials — a term for people born between 1981 and 1996 — and Generation Z, born from 1997-2012, said: “As a psychologist, I work with so many different things but the main thing people have been interested in is millennials and now Gen Z.

“I think boomers are desperate to be able to work more productively with them and they are very frustrated because they are so different. Managers want to understand their employees better.

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Posted in Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Middle Age, Psychology, Science & Technology, Young Adults

Politico’s overnight Supreme court draft Leak Story that set Washington DC aflutter

The Supreme Court has voted to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, according to an initial draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito circulated inside the court and obtained by POLITICO.

The draft opinion is a full-throated, unflinching repudiation of the 1973 decision which guaranteed federal constitutional protections of abortion rights and a subsequent 1992 decision – Planned Parenthood v. Casey – that largely maintained the right. “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Alito writes.

“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” he writes in the document, labeled as the “Opinion of the Court.” “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, History, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Science & Technology, Supreme Court

(Church Times) Long-term strategy needed to tackle rising child poverty, says C of E report

A cross-departmental strategy with formal government structures and the “active commitment of the Prime Minister” is needed to address rising levels of child poverty in the UK, a new report from the Church of England concludes.

The report, published on Thursday, is based on consultations with 14 charitable organisations, which were contacted by the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, and the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, in January 2021. The organisations, which include the Children’s Society and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, were invited to submit their ideas for a child poverty strategy, focused on tackling the underlying or systemic causes of poverty.

The consensus was that child poverty was a serious issue that was already on the rise before the pandemic, but had worsened during it: 4.3 million children were living in poverty in 2019 to 2020 and at least 120,000 more children were drawn into poverty as a result of Covid-19.

The Prime Minister and MPs, the report explains, have quoted from absolute poverty measures, which suggest that child poverty has remained stable since 2010, rising by only 100,000 between 2010 and 2020. This is measured against a substantial fall of 1.2 million (1.8 million before housing costs) over the previous decade (2000 to 2010), when Labour was in Government.

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

(Economist) Fearmongering works. Fans of the truth should fear it

Hungary’s way of life is under attack, if you believe the ruling party. A Jewish billionaire plots to flood the country with a million Muslims. Perverts want to teach its children sexual deviance. The opposition are spoiling for war with Russia. The only way to stay safe is to back Viktor Orban, the prime minister. On April 3rd his party, Fidesz, won roughly half the vote and, thanks to gerrymandering, two-thirds of seats in parliament. Mr Orban called it a triumph for “our brand of Christian democratic, conservative, patriotic politics”. It was actually a victory for the paranoid style.

The threats the regime describes are largely imaginary. Hungarians are free to follow their traditions if they choose. George Soros has no power over their borders. There is no global conspiracy to corrupt Hungarian children. And the fact that the opposition do not share Mr Orban’s admiration for Vladimir Putin does not mean they are warmongers. No matter. Since Mr Orban took office in 2010 he has won control of nearly every significant media outlet. The opposition leader, Peter Marki-Zay, had only five minutes on public television during the campaign—barely enough to introduce himself, let alone dam a river of lies.

Mr Orban’s victory entrenches a corrupt and semi-authoritarian regime in the heart of the European Union, the world’s premier club of liberal democracies.

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Posted in Anthropology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Politics in General, Psychology

(Washington Post) The remarkable brain of a carpet cleaner who speaks 24 languages

From then on, he was entranced by every language he encountered. His mom’s French record albums. A German dictionary he found at one of his dad’s handyman jobs. A boy from the Soviet Union who joined his junior high class. By then, one of Vaughn’s favorite places was the library. He checked out a beginner’s guide to Russian.

Soon after, he overheard a Russian woman in a grocery store.

“Здравствуйте, как поживаете?”. Vaughn asked. Hello, how are you? He explained that he was trying to learn Russian.

He liked the look he put on that woman’s face.

“Like she was hit with a splash of happiness,” Vaughn remembers.

His teachers and his parents, meanwhile, so often looked at him with disappointment. He’d chosen the wrong sentence when it was his turn to read aloud in class, again. His teacher called his mother to say he wasn’t paying attention, again. His dad was sending him back to his mom’s house, again. Always, it felt to Vaughn like there was something wrong with him.

“I feel like I didn’t know how to guide him to do better,” his mom, Sandra Vargas, says now.

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Posted in Anthropology