Category : Anthropology

Church Society responds to the House of Bishops’ pastoral letter on civil partnerships this week

The statement concludes:
“With opposite sex civil partnerships, and with those for same sex couples, the Church’s teaching on sexual ethics remains unchanged. For Christians, marriage – that is the lifelong union between a man and a woman, contracted with the making of vows – remains the proper context for sexual activity. In its approach to civil partnerships the Church seeks to uphold that standard, to affirm the value of committed, sexually abstinent friendships and to minister sensitively and pastorally to those Christians who conscientiously decide to order their lives differently.”

While we agree wholeheartedly with this statement, we continue to insist that pastorally sensitive ministry must include calling people to repent of their sin and exercising appropriate church discipline.

Given the confusion in our culture, and even in many of our churches, we believe the House of Bishops should be thanked for making such a courageous and counter-cultural statement.

We continue to have concerns about the trajectory of the Church of England, and some of the details of this statement, but pray that the House of Bishops will continue to provide the pastoral leadership that we need, in accordance with the revealed will of our Lord and Saviour.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(AI) Church of Uganda defends Biblical standards defining marriage

The Church of Uganda has issued a statement responding to criticisms issued by a mega-church pastor who charged the church’s stance on marriage was non-biblical. Pastor Aloysius Bugingo, who is currently estranged from his wife, said the Anglican view that marriage was between one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others, for life, was not found in the Bible.

Pastor Bugingo has made a declaration that the phrase ’till death do us part’ is not biblical, and that it is from Satan! In so doing, the pastor attacks the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Pentecostal Churches, associating them with what he calls a practice from Satan.

I can’t believe that these words are from someone who claims to be a pastor! Nonetheless, I’m not surprised that he is making such a statement after divorcing his wife on grounds of a sickness!

Bugingo claims that he has read the Bible a number of times he is not even able to count! That in itself is an interesting claim, which I wish he were humble enough not to associate himself with. Even if it was true that he has read the Bible countless times, it would be prudent for him to know that it is one thing to read even several times, but another to understand.

He states that no where does the Bible say that the married should not separate. Remember that the Bible is God’s holy, infallible, and innerant word, some versions of which he once set ablaze on an Easter Monday, claiming that they were deceptive!

Read it all.

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

Civil Partnerships – for same sex and opposite sex and opposite sex couples. A pastoral statement from the House of Bishops of the Church of England

7. It has always been the position of the Church of England that marriage is a creation ordinance, a gift of God in creation and a means of his grace. Marriage, defined as a faithful,
committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman making a public commitment to each other, is central to the stability and health of human
society. We believe that it continues to provide the best context for the raising of children, although it is not the only context that can be of benefit to children, especially where the
alternative may be long periods in institutional care.

8. The Church of England’s teaching is classically summarised in The Book of Common Prayer, where the marriage service lists the causes for which marriage was ordained, namely: ‘for
the procreation of children, …for a remedy against sin [and]…. for the mutual society, help, and comfort that the one ought to have of the other.’

9. In the light of this understanding the Church of England teaches that “sexual intercourse, as an expression of faithful intimacy, properly belongs within marriage exclusively” (Marriage:
a teaching document of the House of Bishops, 1999). Sexual relationships outside heterosexual marriage are regarded as falling short of God’s purposes for human beings.

10. The introduction of same sex marriage, through the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, has not changed the church’s teaching on marriage or same sex relationships. A major study of this and other areas of human sexuality is underway (the Living in Love and Faith project). This work, which is expected to be completed in 2020, will then inform further deliberations of the House of Bishops. In the context, however, of the introduction of opposite sex as well as same sex civil partnerships, the teaching of the church on marriage remains unchanged.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Theology

(TGC) D Blair Smith–Why We Need, More Than Ever Before, a Theology of Mankind

At the turn of the 20th century, the Scottish minister and church historian James Orr famously proffered a theory about doctrinal development. God, he suggested, has given to each age of the church a concern for a particular doctrine. According to Orr, the second century was an age of theological prolegomena and apologetics. The third and fourth centuries were concerned with the Trinity, and the fifth through seventh centuries tackled the many nuances of Christology. Reflection on soteriology began in earnest in the Middle Ages with Anselm on the atonement, but was furthered in the 16th century through the reformers’ thought on justification, regeneration, and sanctification. Orr believed the modern era had been reserved for eschatology.

As the 20th century wore on, however, anthropology increasingly took center stage.

Whatever one might think of Orr’s particular historical schema, he intuits something about divine providence that seems apparent: God gives his people certain challenges and opportunities in theological reflection that reflect their age.

Whether it’s our infatuation with the concept of identity, or the increasing ethical questions surrounding AI (artificial intelligence), many in and outside the church will agree that our own age presents myriad questions about what it means to be human. This offers the church a significant opportunity to engage in theological anthropology of wide-ranging depth heretofore not seen in the history of theology.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology

(C Of E) Response to BBC 2 documentary on Peter Ball

“The powerful BBC documentary Exposed: the Church’s Darkest Secret is a stark and important reminder of the serious sexual wrongdoing of Peter Ball against many young men, including Neil Todd who took his own life, and the complete failure of the Church to respond appropriately over a period of many years.

“Both the Gibb Report, An Abuse of Faith, commissioned by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the 2018 IICSA hearing into the case, highlighted our failings and the bravery of those who were prepared to speak out. The documentary brings home in a graphic way the courage of the survivors who shared their story.

“It is a matter of great shame and regret that the Church did not act to address the behaviour of Peter Ball at the time and that survivors were left to fight tirelessly for justice.

Read it all and follow all the links.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

(GR) Any darkness to report? The cathedral dean (and bishop) who led St. John the Divine to relevancy

[Dean James] Morton was a liberal Protestant hero who led an Episcopal sanctuary that served as a Maypole around which activists of many kinds danced. However, his career was closely connected with an even more famous liberal Christian hero — Bishop Paul Moore — who was hiding secrets.

Read it all and the NYT article to which it refers.

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

Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, TEC Bishops, TEC Parishes

(Rod Dreher) When A Bishop Does Right

Whenever you read about bishops here, it’s usually to complain about their failings. I’m delighted to be able to write about something good a bishop has done. In this case, it’s the Antiochian Orthodox Bishop Basil Essey, of Wichita, who corrected one of his priests, Father Aaron Warwick. As I wrote here, Father Aaron published an essay in a dissenting Orthodox online journal in which he called for a strong revision in Orthodox pastoral care for LGBT people — including encouraging same-sex couples to pair off and keep their sex lives within the pairing. Father Aaron insisted that he wasn’t challenging Church teaching, only pastoral practice, but this is a Jesuitical distinction without a difference (no, it really is: this is the tactic the Catholic LGBT activist priest James Martin, SJ, uses).

Father Aaron was scheduled to be elevated to archpriest (sort of like “monsignor” in the Catholic Church) this month, but now, that’s not going to happen quite yet. This went out yesterday:

I don’t know what, exactly, Bishop Basil did, but Father Aaron issued a public apology, and a retraction of his essay….

There is no more difficult stance in contemporary American culture for a cleric, bishop or not, to take than the one Bishop Basil has taken here. When our priests, pastors, and bishops do take those stands, we need to praise them, and praise them publicly. A senior church leader who doesn’t temporize or surrender to the culture — imagine that! God, send us more!

Read it all (cited by yours truly in the morning sermon).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Orthodox Church, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology: Scripture

(Phys.org) Biologists identify pathways that extend lifespan by 500%

Scientists at the MDI Biological Laboratory, in collaboration with scientists from the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, Calif., and Nanjing University in China, have identified synergistic cellular pathways for longevity that amplify lifespan fivefold in C. elegans, a nematode worm used as a model in aging research.

The increase in lifespan would be the equivalent of a human living for 400 or 500 years, according to one of the scientists.

The research draws on the discovery of two major pathways governing aging in C. elegans, which is a popular model in aging research because it shares many of its genes with humans and because its short lifespan of only three to four weeks allows scientists to quickly assess the effects of genetic and environmental interventions to extend healthy lifespan.

Because these pathways are “conserved,” meaning that they have been passed down to humans through evolution, they have been the subject of intensive research. A number of drugs that extend healthy lifespan by altering these pathways are now under development.

Read it all.

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

Anne Kennedy–I’m Worried I Might Die of Boredom

The Episcopal church used to accuse conservatives of being sex-obsessed. It doesn’t matter what private people do in their bedrooms, they would cry. Which can feel like a bit of a fair criticism. It is upsetting that God, of all people, would care so much about what you do with your body, wherever you are, and would particularly care about who you are having sex with. God is love, and sex is love, therefore God loves you to have sex. Stop judging me, Episcopal professors and clergy would say, I don’t care what you do in your bedroom. You’re confusing me with God, I would whisper to myself.

Strangely enough, though, it is not conservatives who are sex-obsessed, at least not as a cultural monolith. It is the people who have already decided they can do whatever they want with their bodies and to hell with anyone like God who might disagree with them. It is these ones who have to bring it up in every situation, every awards ceremony, and now every Netflix show. Wellness itself promises to be about smoothies and good vibes and then ends up being only about sex–and crystals…but mostly sex. And yet I’m the narrow-minded one.

That’s how idolatry works though. It devours everything around it. Whatever you worship is going to demand all your attention and all your love. You end up beclowning yourself without knowing it. You end up with a narrow, foolish, boring life. Whereas if you worship God, and try to do what he says, even about sex, you end up with an astonishing vista of beauty, of glory, with a rich array of friends, of different kinds of love, with a deep interior peace that surpasses all the kinds of wellnesses the world has to offer.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) Lessons-learnt review is launched into Jonathan Fletcher

A Lessons-Learnt review has been commissioned concerning the Revd Jonathan Fletcher and Emmanuel Ridgway Proprietary Chapel, Wimbledon, after allegations of physical beatings and spiritual abuse.

An independent Christian safeguarding charity, Thirtyone:eight, has been asked by Emmanuel Church to undertake the review into the allegations, which emerged in June last year, while Mr Fletcher was Minister of Emmanuel Ridgway Proprietary Chapel from 1982 to 2012, and an influential figure among Evangelicals in the Church of England (News, 5 July).

The allegations involve physical beatings, reminiscent of the beatings administered by John Smyth (News, 13 April 2017; 1 March). Mr Fletcher has admitted that the beatings took place. Last year, he described them as “light-hearted forfeits” in a “system of mutual encouragement”.

In September, a group of clerics condemned the public response of Mr Fletcher to allegations made against him as an attempt “to minimise them, and to feign astonishment that anyone should find his blatantly bizarre and abusive behaviour inappropriate” (News, 27 September).

Read it all.

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

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(1st things) Dale Coulter–A Failed Experiment In Methodist Unity

To some UMC constituencies, particularly those in Africa, the Protocol looks like traditionalists raising a white flag on the verge of victory. With their emphasis on parachurch organizations and networks, the traditionalists seem to have the spirit of the “come-outism” that formed holiness denominations like the Church of the Nazarene in the late 19th century. As Chris Ritter has noted, the rapid growth of Methodism in Africa means that UMC African delegates will soon outnumber all other parties at the General Convention—in which case, they could orchestrate a massive takeover of UMC structures. If only it were that easy.

First, when the UMC was originally formed it had a massive bureaucracy that ultimately morphed into the major agencies currently promoting the national and international mission of the church. Progressives largely occupy the positions within these agencies. This means that any traditionalist victory at a General Conference would be resisted in the official agencies (setting aside the issue of progressives in the Council of Bishops). When you add in the centrists who prefer the status quo of institutional unity driven by theological pluralism, the obstacles become clear. Viewed from this angle, one can understand why traditionalists negotiating the Protocol opted for an exit that would allow them to build a new organizational structure and staff it immediately with like-minded persons.

Second, traditionalists are betting that many local churches will leave to form a new traditionalist denomination. How many, of course, remains to be seen, but the Protocol does not allow local churches or conferences to remain neutral any longer. In its current configuration, the Protocol requires that a choice be made—even if that choice is not to vote and thus remain in the post-separation UMC after the dust settles. The fight will now be taken to the local level.

Finally, there is the question of whether traditionalists want to be stuck with such a heavy bureaucracy even if they could clean house. One consequence of any separation will be dismantling agencies that simply are no longer financially viable. Any churches and conferences left in the post-separation UMC will have to engage in that task quickly if they are to survive.

Read it all.

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

(GR) Terry Mattingly–After decades of fighting, United Methodists avoid a visit from Ghost of the Episcopal Future?

Wait a minute. The crucial language that the “practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” was just approved this past February? That hasn’t been the language in church discipline documents for many years before 2019 and affirmed in multiple votes?

But here is the most crucial point. What, precisely, are the “fundamental differences” that the United Methodists involved in these negotiations — leaders from left and right — cited as the cause of the upcoming ecclesiastical divorce? Was it really LGBTQ issues, period?

Consider this commentary from David French (an evangelical Presbyterian) of The Dispatch:

The secular media will cast the divide primarily in the terms it understands — as focused on “LGBT issues” — but that’s incomplete. The true fracturing point between Mainline and Evangelical churches is over the authority and interpretation of scripture. The debate over LGBT issues is a consequence of the underlying dispute, not its primary cause. …

Thus, at heart, the disagreement between the Evangelical and Mainline branches of Christianity isn’t over issues — even hot-button cultural and political issues — but rather over theology. Indeed, the very first clause of the United Methodist Church’s nine-page separation plan states that church members “have fundamental differences regarding their understanding and interpretation of Scripture, theology and practice.”

Ah, there’s the rub. Who wants to put “Scripture, theology and practice” in a news report — especially at NBC Out and similar structures in other newsrooms — when you can blame the whole denominational war over conservatives refusing to evolve on LGBTQ issues?

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Media, Methodist, Religion & Culture, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Central Florida, TEC Conflicts: Central New York, TEC Conflicts: Colorado, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut, TEC Conflicts: Florida, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, TEC Conflicts: Georgia, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles, TEC Conflicts: Milwaukee, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan, TEC Conflicts: Ohio, TEC Conflicts: Pennsylvania, TEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh, TEC Conflicts: Quincy, TEC Conflicts: Rio Grande, TEC Conflicts: San Diego, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Conflicts: Tennessee, TEC Conflicts: Virginia, TEC Departing Parishes, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A CT Article on the Proposal for the Methodist Split

The eight-page statement details the terms of the split for the nation’s largest mainline denomination:

The undersigned propose restructuring The United Methodist Church by separation as the best means to resolve our differences, allowing each part of the Church to remain true to its theological understanding, while recognizing the dignity, equality, integrity, and respect of every person.

The protocol will still need to be approved by the UMC’s legislative body, but has unanimous support from a diverse 16-member mediation team, including representatives from “UMCNext; Mainstream UMC; Uniting Methodists; The Confessing Movement; Good News; The Institute on Religion & Democracy; the Wesleyan Covenant Association; Affirmation; Methodist Federation for Social Action; Reconciling Ministries Network; and the United Methodist Queer Clergy Caucus; as well as bishops from the United States and across the world.”

“This is very likely to bring to an end this dysfunction that we have suffered through for the past 47 years,” said Rob Renfroe, president and publisher of Good News and pastor of adult discipleship at The Woodlands UMC outside of Houston. “We were never going to find a way to move forward together. Our ultimate goal of setting each other free to do ministry as we believe God would have us do has come to fruition.”

The 12.5-million-member UMC has been in a standoff over LGBT issues for decades, culminating in a vote in favor of its traditional position against same-sex marriage and gay clergy during a special session last year. As a result, some left the UMC, some continued to defy the UMC positions outright, and some challenged the legality of the vote in the denomination’s court—ultimately putting the question of how to move forward before the delegation once again in 2020.

The result of months of negotiation, the new protocol creates a quick, “clean break” for a new, traditionalist denomination that has yet to be created but will receive a $25 million sum at its inception.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Methodist, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NR) Yuval Levin–The Historian as Moralist: The remarkable life’s work of Gertrude Himmelfarb

The passing of Gertrude Himmelfarb, who died on December 30th at the age of 97, is a loss felt keenly by all who had the good fortune to know her.

To family and friends, she was known as Bea Kristol, and embodied character and decency, good humor, and good sense. To Americans with an interest in our country’s intellectual life, she might have been best known as the wife of Irving Kristol. This always suited her humility (let alone her pride in Irving), and you would surely gain some real insight into the aims of the original neoconservatives by reflecting on the fact that Irving Kristol’s wife was a scholar of Victorian England.

But as such a scholar — one whose life’s work spanned an amazing seven decades of wise, independent-minded, reliably fascinating, and brilliantly expressed historical analysis — Himmelfarb has never been sufficiently appreciated. There will no doubt be many remembrances of her unique mix of personal warmth and dignity in the days to come, from many who knew her far better than I did. But a reflection on the ambitions and significance of her work is very much in order too.

She was among the most important American historians of the last century. Her path-breaking work illuminating the intellectual life of 19th-century Britain not only helped transform our understanding of what the Victorians were up to but also provided a rich vocabulary for describing the place of the moral in the social and political lives of liberal societies. And in the process, she helped several generations of politically minded intellectuals in her own day understand themselves, their roles, and their goals more profoundly.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Philosophy, Politics in General, Theology

(ABC Aus.) Albury Anglican priest suggests Church may need to divorce as he pushes for embrace of 21stc Western anthropology

A regional priest has questioned whether it Is time for the Anglican Church to split, as the debate on the Religious Freedom Bill leaves some of his parishioners feeling anxious over the Christmas period.

The picturesque Saint Matthew’s Church, which lies in tranquil gardens in the heart of Albury, has become a battleground over the identity of the Anglican Church’s future.

The push for the Church to become more progressive has become such a personal fight for local priest Father Peter MacLeod-Miller that he has now removed his clerical collar as he campaigns for equality of LGBTQI+ parishioners.

“It’s such a bad brand,” Father Macleod-Miller said.

“It’s a bit like you walk down the street and people associate you with bad things….”

Read it all.

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

(NYT) One Nation, Tracked: An Investigation Into The Smartphone Tracking Industry

For many Americans, the only real risk they face from having their information exposed would be embarrassment or inconvenience. But for others, like survivors of abuse, the risks could be substantial. And who can say what practices or relationships any given individual might want to keep private, to withhold from friends, family, employers or the government? We found hundreds of pings in mosques and churches, abortion clinics, queer spaces and other sensitive areas.

In one case, we observed a change in the regular movements of a Microsoft engineer. He made a visit one Tuesday afternoon to the main Seattle campus of a Microsoft competitor, Amazon. The following month, he started a new job at Amazon. It took minutes to identify him as Ben Broili, a manager now for Amazon Prime Air, a drone delivery service.

“I can’t say I’m surprised,” Mr. Broili told us in early December. “But knowing that you all can get ahold of it and comb through and place me to see where I work and live — that’s weird.” That we could so easily discern that Mr. Broili was out on a job interview raises some obvious questions, like: Could the internal location surveillance of executives and employees become standard corporate practice?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Science & Technology

An interesting Look Back–The Nottingham Statement: The Official Statement of the second National Evangelical Anglican Congress held in April 1977

R
MARRIAGE AND FAMILY
R1
Marriage and God’s purpose
We affirm, as the church in every age has done, that marriage, as the lifelong partnership of a man and a woman, is fundamental to God’s purpose for the whole of society. It meets the physical and emotional needs of individuals made in God’s image and affords a stable environment for the birth and upbringing of children. This most-welcome gift of God has an abiding strength and continuity that will outlast the ebb and flow of cultural change, yet it demands fresh appropriation within the cultural terms of each new generation. Sexual union and the marriage covenant belong together; the one is the appropriate expression of the love involved in the other. The tendency of modern society to separate them–in promiscuity, group sex and other experimental patterns–is one to be opposed at every point.

R2
The calling to a single life
Together with marriage, we affirm afresh the calling of God, given to some, to live singly. This is not a sign of personal failure, nor need it lead to dissatisfaction; on the contrary, the single person can enjoy a rich and fulfilled life in God’s purposes, yet there are special needs attaching to this state that can be met by a caring church fellowship.

R3
Homosexuality
We recognise the growing problem of homosexuality and our need for a better-informed understanding of this condition. There should be a full welcoming place in the Christian fellowship for the Christian homosexual. Nevertheless, we believe homosexual intercourse to be contrary to God’s law and not a true expression of human sexuality as he has given it. More thought needs to be given to the pastoral care appropriate to those with this particular need.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Globe+Mail) Dan Werb–How doctors discovered the true causes of drug addiction

With physicians more likely to become addicted to drugs, compared with the general population, it became a lot more difficult to argue that a drug-dependent person was a “classic psychopath” or inherently “immature and pseudo-aggressive.” The situation was particularly untenable given that, during the fifties and sixties, physicians were the people running most epidemiologic studies and authoring the scientific manuscripts about drug use. They were, unsurprisingly, loath to suggest that the high prevalence of drug addiction among members of their vocation was caused by the fact that doctors are all psychopaths.

And so, instead of blaming that same collective form of psychopathology that they had diagnosed as innate to African-Americans, Latinos and women, epidemiologic papers about addicted doctors quietly gravitated toward different language to talk about drug use and its effects.

In one study from 1966 that compared 100 physicians treated for addiction with 100 matched controls, the authors – physicians themselves, of course – wrote, with a level of subtlety absent in studies of drug use among black Americans, that they found “no correlation between psychiatric diagnosis and drug used” and the study’s participants. As far as the researchers were concerned, doctors couldn’t be crazy, even the ones that overindulged. In a lingering sign of the times, though, the factors the authors deemed most likely to increase the risk of drug use reflected myopic ideas about the root causes of addiction. These included whether participants were married, whether they were Protestant and whether they came from the American South.

Another study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 1970, reported that after 20 years of following a group of college students, half of whom had gone into medicine, twice as many of the physicians had used drugs as the group of people who, one assumes, found less respectable careers. Here, the authors again included variables they assumed most relevant to addiction: having had a feeding problem in infancy, having had a private-school education and scoring badly on a math test. Today this kind of paper wouldn’t even make it to a scientific journal editor’s desk, let alone get published.

What these mid-century epidemiologists overlooked about substance use among doctors were the high levels of stress, anxiety and lack of sleep that characterize the medical profession. Coupled with ready access to highly addictive pharmaceutical drugs and a culture of intense competition, doctors were primed to self-medicate.

Having pragmatically turned themselves into their own guinea pigs, doctors had inadvertently revealed their own heightened drug use and, with it, the fatal flaw behind the racist and sexist addiction science they had popularized. This led to only one conclusion: If morally upstanding, intellectually sophisticated white men were succumbing to addiction in droves, then it could not be a disease of the mind. The upshot was that the kinds of variables included in addiction models expanded beyond an individual’s personality or upbringing.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine, History, Psychology

(CLJ) Tim Kelleher–A Divided Society Is Already Conquered

There is an insight that would seem to get us fairly close to the heart of things. It goes like this: in the philosophy of the East, what needs to be proved is the existence of the self. In the West, it is the reverse; a la Descartes, with Berkeley doubling down, the self is the reality outside of which all else, including the world and other beings, is dubious till proven otherwise.

At this point, we’re painfully aware of the cultural snare, oddly dubbed, identity politics. Like Penny Lane, it is very much in our ears, and in our eyes. And, with barely a squint, the connection between it, and that Western view of self, racks to revealing focus. Identity politics, it turns out, is a sad irony. For what passes as identity here is, in fact, inherently, radically, self-insistent. With each new grievance a new sub-identity emerges, indicting enemies from a pool of usual suspects, as well as those amazed to be cast, suddenly, in the part. Indeed, yesterday’s confederate becomes today’s foe with dizzying regularity. To the less inflamed eye, the syndrome is, in truth, a hunger. One that grows ravenous on its present fare — and in a pattern similar to cancer, whose cells, unlike their healthy counterparts, divide without stopping.

In this case, the agents of division are human. The insistence may be confused, but it is willful, and as potentially hazardous. No stardust here. With little to build on, or with, it is, rather, a race to a dead-end of identity, shrunk beyond meaning. More benevolently: Wile E. Coyote, the moment he realizes he has overshot the cliff. Less benevolently: he is taking us with him. Nothing that has been said should be mistaken for a dismissal of injustice, the individuals and groups burdened by it, or the need for genuine remedy.

I do suggest that, if remedy is what we are really after, the modus operandi of identity politics is not just the wrong way to it, it is no way to it at all. What it lacks is gaping, and fatally flawed, namely, acknowledgement of personal culpability, in the first instance, on the part of everyone, in every social wound. It is the default position of authentic humility, upon which noble things can be built.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Philosophy, Politics in General, Psychology

(Christian Today) C of E groups express opposition to the theology of the newly appointed Archbishop of York

[The] Rev John Parker resigned as both a governor of the school and as a vicar in the Church of England over the disagreement.

He said at the time: “I was basically told by my bishop that if I wished to faithfully follow the teachings of the Bible then I was no longer welcome in the Church. It felt very much like I was being silenced by the Church and the school.”

Kieran Bush, vicar of St John’s, Walthamstow, later backed Rev Parker’s claim, alleging that Bishop Cottrell had “on more than one occasion, told clergy, including John Parker, that if we disagree with the approach the Diocese is taking on matters of human sexuality we should follow our consciences and leave”.

“There were more than thirty clergy at one of the meetings,” he said in a statement in June released through GAFCON, the orthodox fellowship within the Anglican Communion.

Rev Parker was supported during the dispute by Christian Concern, which has criticised the appointment of Bishop Cottrell as Archbishop of York.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(FT) Some of Brazil’s evangelical church preach the Bolsonaro revolution

Paulo Guedes, Mr Bolsonaro’s economy minister, was spotted in Congress recently wearing a bracelet with a Bible verse given to him by an evangelical pastor. “These guys support the president,” he beamed. Mr Guedes is leading his own crusade to bring the free-market economics he learnt from Milton Friedman in Chicago to his homeland. The Universal Church’s message that state handouts are no way to live is music to his ears.

The Sunday service featured on its giant screens the story of a believer who raised himself from scavenging on a rubbish dump at the age of 17 to the ranks of the bourgeoisie. Now a successful lawyer and the proud owner of three apartments, he was invited on stage by Mr Macedo to explain how his devotion to the church had transformed his life. His strict adherence to a rule that believers tithe one-tenth of their income to the church — even when eking out an existence on a rubbish dump — was emphasised repeatedly.

Mr Mendonça says the message is an entrepreneurial one. “The same things you hear at a seminar for people starting their own business — the need to believe in your potential and in what you do, to be creative and to take risks — are exactly the same” as the advice in church, he says.

The formula has worked for Mr Macedo. His personal wealth has been estimated by Forbes magazine at $1.1bn, making him one of the world’s richest religious leaders.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Brazil, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

More Dorothy Sayers on her Feast Day–Why Work?

I have already, on a previous occasion, spoken at some length on the subject of Work and Vocation. What I urged then was a thoroughgoing revolution in our whole attitude to work. I asked that it should be looked upon, not as a necessary drudgery to be undergone for the purpose of making money, but as a way of life in which the nature of man should find its proper exercise and delight and so fulfill itself to the glory of God. That it should, in fact, be thought of as a creative activity undertaken for the love of the work itself; and that man, made in God’s image, should make things, as God makes them, for the sake of doing well a thing that is well worth doing.

It may well seem to you – as it does to some of my acquaintances – that I have a sort of obsession about this business of the right attitude to work. But I do insist upon it, because it seems to me that what becomes of civilization after this war is going to depend enormously on our being able to effect this revolution in our ideas about work. Unless we do change our whole way of thought about work, I do not think we shall ever escape from the appalling squirrel cage of economic confusion in which we have been madly turning for the last three centuries or so, the cage in which we landed ourselves by acquiescing in a social system based upon Envy and Avarice.

A society in which consumption has to be artificially stimulated in order to keep production going is a society founded on trash and waste, and such a society is a house built upon sand….

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Theology

Dorothy Sayers on ‘Tolerance’ on her Feast Day

“In the world it calls itself Tolerance; but in hell it is called Despair. It is the accomplice of the other sins and their worst punishment. It is the sin which believes nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, loves nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and only remains alive because there is nothing it would die for.”

–Dorothy Sayers, Letters to a Diminished Church: Passionate Arguments for the Relevance of Christian Doctrine (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004 ed of the original), p.98

Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology

(CW) Bill Muehlenberg reviews “Reenchanting Humanity” by Owen Strachan

Consider the issue of human sexuality and all the problems we now find associated with it – everything from broken marriages, porn addiction, and gender bender delusions. The world is normalising the promotion of neopagan sexual identity and practices which is causing all sorts of damage and misery.

Says Strachan: “In the twenty-first century, we have witnessed the rise of ideology that seeks to replace divine order with a counterfeit – with what we may call neopaganism. This movement spiritualises sexuality in a design-denying way while rendering sexual practice nothing more than a momentary phenomenon. Sex is both everything and nothing at once.”

The attempt to now mainstream and normalise transgenderism is simply the most recent and most bizarre outworking of all this. A post-biblical age leads to a post-body culture. The great good of the human body as designed by God (consider not just creation but the Incarnation) has been discarded by the sexual radicals.

The lie spoken by Satan to our first parents (‘you can be like God’) has now fully come around: ‘you can now (re)create your own body, and your own sexual identity.’ We can now somehow transcend biology and reality as we choose for ourselves who we are and what we are to become. So now even children are having their bodies horribly mutilated in the vain attempt to become something they are not – and never can be.

In addition to the transgender revolution, there are three other major sexual challenges that the church faces today: feminism, postmarital sexual libertinism, and homosexuality. “Each of these four ideologies is the reversal of biblical teaching and divine design….”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

(Gallup) More Americans Delaying Medical Treatment Due to Cost

A record 25% of Americans say they or a family member put off treatment for a serious medical condition in the past year because of the cost, up from 19% a year ago and the highest in Gallup’s trend. Another 8% said they or a family member put off treatment for a less serious condition, bringing the total percentage of households delaying care due to costs to 33%, tying the high from 2014.

Gallup first asked this question in 1991, at which time 22% reported that they or a family member delayed care for any kind of condition, including 11% for a serious condition. The figures were similar in the next update in 2001, and Gallup has since asked this question annually as part of its Health and Healthcare poll. This year’s survey was conducted Nov. 1-14.

Americans’ reports of family members delaying any sort of medical treatment for cost reasons were lower in the early to mid-2000s when closer to a quarter reported the problem. Since 2006, the rate has averaged 30%.

The pattern is similar for the subset of Americans postponing medical treatment for a serious condition. The rate rose from 12% in 2001 to an average of 19% since 2006. However, the current 25% is the highest yet, exceeding the prior high-point of 22% recorded in 2014.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Personal Finance & Investing, Theology

(R and P) Timothy McMahan King–How Bad Theology Makes the Opioid Crisis Worse

Medically assisted treatment (MAT), which involves using drugs such as methadone or buprenorphine to both manage cravings and, in the case of buprenorphine, block the effects of other opioids, has shown been shown to reduce overdose deaths by nearly 50 percent. A study in Massachusetts found a 59 percent reduction in overdoses for those on methadone and a 38 percent reduction with the use of buprenorphine. However, their use is not allowed in many treatment facilities, prisons and abstinence-based recovery programs.

Why? MAT is effective in part because the medicine includes opioid agonists—meaning they interact with opioid receptors and are able to reduce withdrawal symptoms. They are, in effect, milder forms of the drugs themselves. In a view in which the drug, and not our relationship to it, is the matter of moral concern, this is anathema.

This belief, buttressed by Christian theological developments about substances, holds back progress on addressing addiction and overdoses. An addiction does not involve being taken over by an evil or demonic substance; it stems from a disordered relationship with one. Prohibition and punishment have failed. Approaching addiction as only an individual moral flaw—instead of a public health crisis—has only made things worse. And the eschewal of effective approaches like MAT means more needless deaths.

These beliefs have real consequences. If my doctor had used blame and shame to confront me and then immediately cut me off from pain medicine, I likely would have found myself in the position many others have: seeking them illicitly. Yes, addiction can be harmful but so can the way we have chosen to treat those with addictions as a society.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Theology

(CT’s The Exchange) What Does the Bible Have to Say about Leadership?

Finally, Paul’s letter to Titus provides us with explicit characteristics that we can try to develop and refine in ourselves. In chapter one of the letter, Paul explains what church elders should look like.

He says that elders are to be blameless, faithful to their spouses, and trusted by their children. Elders should be blameless, hospitable, self-controlled, upright, and holy. Most importantly, elders should rely on the “trustworthy message” (the Gospels) so they can encourage others well.

As leaders, we should ask ourselves if we are fulfilling these characteristics. While it is important to remember that we are human and therefore always imperfect, we must also continue to strive to improve ourselves.

Here are a few reflection questions we can ask ourselves:

What is the state of my household? How is my relationship with my husband/wife? Do my children trust me and respect me?
How am I treating others? Am I living out the characteristics that Paul provides in Scripture?
Have I relied on Scripture to guide my leadership lately? How can I improve in this area?
How well am I walking alongside my people and encouraging them with the gospel?

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Dirk Kurston–Why Sexual Morality May be Far More Important than You Ever Thought

Looking at our own sexual revolution, the “having your cake and eating it too” phase would have lasted into the early 2000’s. We are now at a stage where we should begin to observe the verification or falsification of Unwin’s predictions.

Unwin found that when strict prenuptial chastity was abandoned, absolute monogamy, deism, and rational thinking disappeared within three generations of the change in sexual freedom. So how are we doing as we enter the second generation since our own sexual revolution at the end of the 20th century?

  1. As predicted, absolute monogamy has already been replaced with modified monogamy. Common-law relationships are becoming the norm. Although divorce occurred prior to the 1970’s, the mainstream of our culture still maintained the view that marriage should be for life, and common-law relationships were regarded with some distaste. That has clearly changed. Those who actually practice life-long commitments in marriage have become the minority, with couples born prior to the sexual revolution much more likely to maintain a life-long commitment in marriage.

  2. Deism is already rapidly declining, exactly as predicted. Prior to the 1960’s, a combination of rationalism and a belief in God was the norm for mainstream culture. Not only has belief in God greatly decreased since the 1960’s, but there has been a trend to remove the concept of God from government, the educational system, and the public forum. Those who still believe in God sense a strong societal pressure to keep deistic beliefs private. In its place, is a surprising rise in superstition,[7] classified by Unwin as a “monistic” culture, two levels down from the rationalist culture we had prior to the sexual revolution. There has also been a huge increase in the percentage of the population that classifies itself as non-religious, a symptom of the lowest, “zoistic” level of Unwin’s categories.[8]

  3. The swiftness with which rational thinking declined after the 1970’s is astounding. In its place arose post-modernism, characterized by “scepticism, subjectivism, or relativism” and “a general suspicion of reason”.[9] But it gets worse … post-modernism is giving way to “post truth”. In direct contrast to rational thinking, a post-truth culture abandons “shared objective standards for truth” and instead, stands on appeals to feelings and emotions, and what one wants to believe.[10] People can now “identify” themselves as something which flat-out contradicts science and rational thinking and, in many cases, receive the full support and backing of governments and educational systems. Not only do people feel they have a right to believe what they want, but any challenge to that belief, even if supported by truth and logic, is unacceptable and offensive. Here is a quote from Unwin that has become particularly a propos in the last couple decades since our own sexual revolution …

If I were asked to define a sophist, I should describe him as a man whose conclusion does not follow from his premise. Sophistry is appreciated only by those among whom human entropy is disappearing; they mistake it for sound reasoning. It flourishes among those people who have extended their sexual opportunity after a period of intense compulsory continence. [11]

Summary of where our culture is going, given Unwin’s findings

For the first part of the 1900’s, mainstream Western culture was rationalist and experienced enormous technological advances — from horse-and-buggy to cars; from hot air balloons to supersonic flight and spacecraft landing people on the moon; from slide rules to computers. Unwin’s three main predictions — the abandonment of rationalism, deism, and absolute monogamy — are all well underway, which makes the ultimate prediction appear to be credible … the collapse of Western civilization in the third generation, somewhere in the last third of this century.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Philosophy, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

(WSJ) Erica Komisar–We need to be reminded of the great value faith traditions have for our children

As a therapist, I’m often asked to explain why depression and anxiety are so common among children and adolescents. One of the most important explanations—and perhaps the most neglected—is declining interest in religion. This cultural shift already has proved disastrous for millions of vulnerable young people.

A 2018 study in the American Journal of Epidemiology examined how being raised in a family with religious or spiritual beliefs affects mental health. Harvard researchers had examined religious involvement within a longitudinal data set of approximately 5,000 people, with controls for socio-demographic characteristics and maternal health.

The result? Children or teens who reported attending a religious service at least once per week scored higher on psychological well-being measurements and had lower risks of mental illness. Weekly attendance was associated with higher rates of volunteering, a sense of mission, forgiveness, and lower probabilities of drug use and early sexual initiation. Pity then that the U.S. has seen a 20% decrease in attendance at formal religious services in the past 20 years, according to a Gallup report earlier this year. In 2018 the American Family Survey showed that nearly half of adults under 30 do not identify with any religion.

Nihilism is fertilizer for anxiety and depression, and being “realistic” is overrated. The belief in God—in a protective and guiding figure to rely on when times are tough—is one of the best kinds of support for kids in an increasingly pessimistic world. That’s only one reason, from a purely mental-health perspective, to pass down a faith tradition.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Religion & Culture

(NYT Op-ed) David Brooks–I Was Once a Socialist. Then I Saw How It Worked.

I came to realize that capitalism is really good at doing the one thing socialism is really bad at: creating a learning process to help people figure stuff out. If you want to run a rental car company, capitalism has a whole bevy of market and price signals and feedback loops that tell you what kind of cars people want to rent, where to put your locations, how many cars to order. It has a competitive profit-driven process to motivate you to learn and innovate, every single day.

Socialist planned economies — the common ownership of the means of production — interfere with price and other market signals in a million ways. They suppress or eliminate profit motives that drive people to learn and improve.

It doesn’t matter how big your computers are, the socialist can never gather all relevant data, can never construct the right feedback loops. The state cannot even see the local, irregular, context-driven factors that can have exponential effects. The state cannot predict people’s desires, which sometimes change on a whim. Capitalism creates a relentless learning system. Socialism doesn’t.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Philosophy, Politics in General, Theology