Category : America/U.S.A.

(NYT front page) As Hospitals Fill, Travel Nurses Race to Virus Hot Spots

It is a nomadic existence and, in a pandemic, a particularly high-risk one. The nurses parachute into cities like New York, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Green Bay for weeks or months at a time, quickly learning the ways of a new hospital and trying to earn the trust of the existing staff.

At the end of their shifts, they return to their temporary homes: hotels, Airbnb apartments or rented houses. Their families and friends are sometimes thousands of miles away, available only through phone calls or FaceTime.

Last week in Green Bay, where the surrounding county has averaged more than 150 cases a day since late September, a team of four travel nurses worked at Bellin Hospital, grappling with the unrelenting pressure of the emergency room and a Thanksgiving holiday far from home.

More than eight months into the pandemic, many travel nurses have done little else but treat Covid-19 patients.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Pastoral Theology

(RNS) Robert Putnam thinks religion could play a role in healing divisions

Given the huge decline in churchgoing beginning in the 1960s, can religion play a role in turning things around like it did at the beginning of the 20th century?

Garrett: I definitely think there’s a role for religion to play. But religion will have to be innovative in meeting the moment. We have seen some religious innovation aimed at combating the decline in churchgoing — in such things as megachurches, for example. But some of those megachurches are characterized by a theology that is highly individualistic — the prosperity gospel — the idea that God blesses the righteous with riches for themselves. That’s been used to draw people back into religion, but it’s reflective of the destructive, highly individualistic drift over the past half-century, which we chronicle in the book.

For religion to play a role in another upswing, it’s going to have to find a way to speak to a changed social landscape and to remind us our religious traditions speak directly to the situation we find ourselves in today — a situation where we need to take better care of our most vulnerable. We need to think about how we organize a society more fairly. There are great templates in every great religion for how to do this but we have to choose that religious narrative. There’s a moment here where our religious leaders have the ability to shape a religious narrative in order to inform our social problems. We’re seeing some early signs of that happening. For example, the Rev. William Barber, who is organizing “moral marches on Washington” and taking up the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign.

Putnam: King moved America from the bottom up as well as the top down. He did it above all by using the Exodus narrative. He knew it appealed well beyond the Black church he was in himself. The point is religious narratives and religious symbols have a huge power to move lots of people.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(CT) For Pilgrims, Thanksgiving Was a Way of Life

One of the Pilgrim Fathers’ most striking moments of thankfulness occurred the first Sunday after they reached North America. A scouting party of 16 men returned to the Mayflower with a good report about the land. The collective sense of relief spurred an impromptu worship service. As Bradford put it, “They fell upon their knees and blessed ye God of heaven.”

This scene was not an isolated incident. Bradford’s history of Plymouth references the giving of thanks no less than 30 times. The first Thanksgiving, rather than being an anomaly amid the drudgery of forging a new colony, fell within a rhythm of gratitude in the Pilgrims’ life.

Indeed, the first Thanksgiving may have been the 1621 observance of an annual English harvest festival known as Harvest Home. Some have noted this fact in attempt to deny the first Thanksgiving’s spiritual character. In actuality, it underscores the cyclical nature of thanksgiving in Plymouth colony.

Before the Pilgrims faced each day, they first turned to God in gratitude and intercession. The pattern persisted as half their company died that first winter and as crops failed the next year. Weekly, they took seriously observance of the Sabbath, making preparations each Saturday so Sunday could be spent in uninterrupted worship and rest.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History, History, Religion & Culture, Theology

(WSJ) Melanie Kirkpatrick–Thanksgiving, 1789

It is hard to imagine America’s favorite holiday as a source of political controversy. But that was the case in 1789, the year of our first Thanksgiving as a nation.

The controversy began on Sept. 25 in New York City, then the seat of government. The inaugural session of the first Congress was about to recess when Rep. Elias Boudinot of New Jersey rose to introduce a resolution. He asked the House to create a joint committee with the Senate to “wait upon the President of the United States, to request that he would recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the many signal favors of Almighty God.”

The congressman made special reference to the Constitution, which had been ratified by the requisite two-thirds of the states in 1788. A day of public thanksgiving, he believed, would allow Americans to express gratitude to God for the “opportunity peaceably to establish a Constitution of government for their safety and happiness.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Military / Armed Forces, Office of the President

Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Office of the President, Spirituality/Prayer

The 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation

[New York, 3 October 1789]

By the President of the United States of America. a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor — and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be — That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks — for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation — for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war — for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed — for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted — for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions — to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually — to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed — to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness onto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord — To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us — and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New-York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go: Washington

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Office of the President, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

Happy American Thanksgiving to all Blog Readers!

Posted in America/U.S.A., Spirituality/Prayer

(WSJ) Covid Is Resurging, and This Time It’s Everywhere

With a third surge of the Covid-19 pandemic hitting the U.S., many public-health authorities are warning the coronavirus is now so widespread that it will take pervasive new measures to contain it.

New infections surpassed 177,224 on Friday, setting a daily record that eclipsed the highest daily case counts of previous peaks in the spring and summer. The number of new infections was lower Saturday at 166,555, while new deaths numbered nearly 1,300, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The number of people hospitalized with Covid-19, meanwhile, reached 69,455 on Saturday, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

In earlier surges, infections were concentrated in cities such as New York and Chicago, or populous states like Florida and Texas. Many of the outbreaks then were linked to travelers returning from overseas or so-called superspreading events such as conferences, weddings and rallies.

Now, it is everywhere. People are becoming infected not just at big gatherings, but when they let their guard down, such as by not wearing a mask, while going about their daily routines or in smaller social settings that they thought of as safe—often among their own families or trusted friends.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Science & Technology

Samuel Seabury’s First years of Ministry for his Feast Day

Christmas day in 1753 fell on the Tuesday which was but two days after the ordination to the Priesthood just mentioned. The newly ordained priest on the morning of that day, was sent with a note of introduction from the Chaplain of the Bishop of London to the Incumbent of one of the Churches in that city, apparently with the view of assigning to him some duty for the day. The Incumbent gave him but a surly reception, sternly demanding upon his entrance to the vestry-room, who he was, and what he wanted; in silent reply to which demands he presented his note; the comment upon which was, “Hah! Well, if the Bishop has sent you, I suppose I must take you. Give him a surplice, and show him into the desk” (to the Sexton), “and do you, Sir, find your places, and wait there till I come.” A younger clergyman, of more amiable appearance, meanwhile seemed much amused at this splenetic reception. Coming back into the Vestry after the service, the Doctor turning fiercely upon the neophyte, exclaimed, “What is the reason, Sir, that you did not read the Litany?” “Because, Sir, it is not a Litany day.” “And don’t you know that if the Ordinary chooses to have it read on Festival days, it is your duty to read it?” “That may be, Sir, but it is the Ordinary’s business to let me know that.” The old man’s face was black with passion, but before he had time to explode, the younger clergyman came to the rescue, saying: “Doctor, you won’t get much out of this young man; you had better turn him over to me, for I see you don’t want him: come, Mr. Seabury, will you go with me to–Church and preach for me!” “I never preached a sermon in my life.” “Well, of all things I should like to hear a virgin preacher! ” So the young men took themselves off, and after dinner the virgin sermon was preached; though concerning its subject, and the place where it was broached, tradition is silent: as it also is in respect to any further official acts of the preacher during the remainder of his stay in England.

In the year following, 1754, having received his appointment as a missionary of the Society for Propagating the Gospel, he set sail for his native land, and soon after began the regular exercise of his ministry at New Brunswick, in the Province of New Jersey. One of his relatives, writing about this time to another, observed: “Mr. Samuel Seabury has returned to America again; an excellent physician, a learned divine, an accomplished gentleman and a pious Christian;” a record which indicates the reputation which he had in the small circle within which he was then known, and which it was anticipated that his future life would verify.

Not much is known in regard to his work during the short time of his charge at New Brunswick, but the period is interesting, both on account of the evidence of his doctrinal principles afforded by his sermons, and also on account of the evidence of the extension of his influence and reputation in a somewhat wider sphere, afforded by contemporaneous events with which he was associated.

Among his manuscripts are several of the sermons which he preached at New Brunswick….

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Posted in --Scotland, America/U.S.A., Church History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

Veterans Day Remarks–Try to Guess the Speaker and the Date

In a world tormented by tension and the possibilities of conflict, we meet in a quiet commemoration of an historic day of peace. In an age that threatens the survival of freedom, we join together to honor those who made our freedom possible. The resolution of the Congress which first proclaimed Armistice Day, described November 11, 1918, as the end of “the most destructive, sanguinary and far-reaching war in the history of human annals.” That resolution expressed the hope that the First World War would be, in truth, the war to end all wars. It suggested that those men who had died had therefore not given their lives in vain.

It is a tragic fact that these hopes have not been fulfilled, that wars still more destructive and still more sanguinary followed, that man’s capacity to devise new ways of killing his fellow men have far outstripped his capacity to live in peace with his fellow men.Some might say, therefore, that this day has lost its meaning, that the shadow of the new and deadly weapons have robbed this day of its great value, that whatever name we now give this day, whatever flags we fly or prayers we utter, it is too late to honor those who died before, and too soon to promise the living an end to organized death.

But let us not forget that November 11, 1918, signified a beginning, as well as an end. “The purpose of all war,” said Augustine, “is peace.” The First World War produced man’s first great effort in recent times to solve by international cooperation the problems of war. That experiment continues in our present day — still imperfect, still short of its responsibilities, but it does offer a hope that some day nations can live in harmony.

For our part, we shall achieve that peace only with patience and perseverance and courage — the patience and perseverance necessary to work with allies of diverse interests but common goals, the courage necessary over a long period of time to overcome…[a skilled adversary].

Do please take a guess as to who it is and when it was, then click and read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Military / Armed Forces

WWII Vet Still Breaking the Mold at 102

As a Black girl growing up in the early 1920’s, Vivian Corbett never thought the world was her oyster.

“As a little girl in Oklahoma, I never imagined I would be able to do anything of any real significance,” she said.

Now, a century later, former Army 1st Lt. Vivian “Millie” Bailey will tell you there’s very little that hasn’t been significant. She commanded a segregated all-female unit during World War II and has been helping service members ever since. At 102, she continues to live life to the fullest. In fact, she just went skydiving for the first time last month near her home in Columbia, Maryland!

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Military / Armed Forces

Veterans Day Statistics 2020

You can find a page of 4 graphs there. There is also a research summary here and an infographic there. An excellent short summary of the history of Veterans Day may be found at this link. Finally, a link for the Veterans History Project is well worth your time exploring today. The VA’s National Cemetery Administration currently maintains 142 national cemeteries (you can find more facts about the national Cemetery Administration there).Twenty percent (113,365 Veterans interred in FY19) of U.S. Veterans who died (estimated 584,000 in FY19) in the U.S., and Puerto Rico in FY 2019 were buried in a national, state or tribal Veterans cemetery. As new national, state and tribal Veterans cemeteries open, this percentage is expected to increase.

Finally, a 16 page teachers guide for Veteran’s Day 2019 may be found there.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Military / Armed Forces

In Flanders Fields for Veterans Day 2020

Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

–Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)

In thanksgiving for all those who gave their lives for this country in years past, and for those who continue to serve–KSH.

P.S. The circumstances which led to this remarkable poem are well worth remembering:

It is a lasting legacy of the terrible battle in the Ypres salient in the spring of 1915 and to the war in general. McCrea had spent seventeen days treating injured men — Canadians, British, French, and Germans in the Ypres salient. McCrae later wrote: “I wish I could embody on paper some of the varied sensations of that seventeen days… Seventeen days of Hades! At the end of the first day if anyone had told us we had to spend seventeen days there, we would have folded our hands and said it could not have been done.” The next day McCrae witnessed the burial of a good friend, Lieut. Alexis Helmer. Later that day, sitting on the back of an ambulance parked near the field dressing station, McCrea composed the poem. A young NCO, delivering mail, watched him write it. When McCrae finished writing, he took his mail from the soldier and, without saying a word, handed his pad to the Sergeant-major. Cyril Allinson was moved by what he read: “The poem was exactly an exact description of the scene in front of us both. He used the word blow in that line because the poppies actually were being blown that morning by a gentle east wind. It never occurred to me at that time that it would ever be published. It seemed to me just an exact description of the scene.” Colonel McCrae was dissatisfied with the poem, and tossed it away. A fellow officer retrieved it and sent it to newspapers in England. The Spectator, in London, rejected it, but Punch published it on 8 December 1915. For his contributions as a surgeon, the main street in Wimereaux is named “Rue McCrae”.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Military / Armed Forces, Poetry & Literature

Joe Biden is the projected winner of the 2020 presidential election According to Multiple Media Reports

Posted in America/U.S.A., Politics in General

Approximately Where Things Stand as of Saturday Morning

Posted in America/U.S.A., Politics in General

Where Things Stand Friday Morning–(NYT) Biden Makes Gains in Key States as Anxious Nation Awaits Winner

Joseph R. Biden Jr. gained ground in Pennsylvania, Nevada and Georgia on Thursday as the slow-moving vote count in those contested battleground states moved him closer to capturing an electoral majority and defeating President Trump.

As an anxious country waited to learn the winner, the two candidates emerged toward day’s end to make remarks that were dramatically different in tone and content.

In a brief appearance before reporters in Wilmington, Del., Mr. Biden said he remained confident that he would ultimately prevail but did not lay claim to the White House.

“Democracy’s sometimes messy,” said Mr. Biden, who remained ahead in Arizona on Thursday night but lost some ground there. “It sometimes requires a little patience as well. But that patience has been rewarded now for more than 240 years with a system of governance that’s been the envy of the world.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Politics in General

Good Summary of where we are as of Thursday Morning–(Reuters) Biden gains ground in White House vote count as Trump mounts legal challenges

Democrat Joe Biden edged closer to victory in the U.S. presidential race on Thursday as election officials tallied votes in the handful of states that will determine the outcome and protesters took to the streets.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Politics in General

(NYT) Can Biden Still Win? Can Trump Still Win? Yes. Here Are the Remaining Paths.

Joseph R. Biden Jr. has moved much closer to the 270 electoral votes needed to capture the White House with victories in Wisconsin and Michigan on Wednesday, leaving President Trump largely playing defense on a shrinking, if still viable, battleground map.

Mr. Trump’s path, as of late Wednesday, centered on his winning Pennsylvania’s 20 Electoral College votes — in conjunction with other scenarios that involve holding Georgia, erasing Mr. Biden’s lead in Arizona and flipping Nevada, the shakiest state in Mr. Biden’s map.

On Tuesday night, Mr. Biden’s team watched nervously as the campaign’s what-if states — Florida, Ohio, Texas and North Carolina — quickly broke for the president. But by early Wednesday, it was the former vice president, and not the current president, who went on offense, gathering momentum in his effort to recapture Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, once reliable “blue wall” states.

By Wednesday afternoon, The Associated Press had declared Mr. Biden the winner in both Wisconsin and Michigan as Democratic areas of those states began reporting more results.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Politics in General

An Uncertain Election outcome in a Deeply Divided Country

Posted in America/U.S.A., Politics in General

NYT: Election Turns Into Nail-Biter That May Extend for Days

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Politics in General

Reminder–Mom was a Poli-Sci Major, I like the subject in general and follow elections

Today will be no different.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Politics in General

A Prayer for the American General Election from the ACNA BCP 2019

Almighty God, to whom we must account for all our powers and privileges: Guide and direct, we humbly pray, the minds of all those who are called to elect fit persons to serve in ositions of authority up for vote in today’s American General Election of 2020. Grant that in the exercise of our choice we may promote your glory, and the welfare of this nation. This we ask for the sake of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Book of Common Prayer, America/U.S.A., Politics in General, Spirituality/Prayer

(Guardian) Americans have bought record 17m guns in year of unrest, analysis finds

Americans have bought nearly 17m guns so far in 2020, more than in any other single year, according to estimates from a firearms analytics company.

Gun sales across the United States first jumped in the spring, driven by fears about the coronavirus pandemic, and spiked even higher in the summer, during massive racial justice protests across the country, prompted by police killings of black Americans.

“By August, we had exceeded last year’s total. By September, we exceeded the highest total ever,” said Jurgen Brauer, the chief economist of Small Arms Analytics, which produces widely cited estimates of US gun sales.

The estimated number of guns sold in the US through the end of September 2020 is “not only more than last year, it’s more than any full year in the last 20 years we have records for”, Brauer said.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Economy

(NPR) ‘Guns, Protests And Elections Do Not Mix’: Conflict Experts See Rising Warning Signs

Members of a Quaker congregation in Maryland are so concerned that President Trump will prematurely declare victory when states are still counting ballots — a process that could take days — that they are ready to take to the streets in nonviolent resistance.

They say such a scenario would amount to a “coup” — even if it involves legal fights and not military action.

“To use the word ‘coup’ in the United States just seems like such a foreign concept when we’re supposed to be this beacon of democracy,” said Alaine Duncan, an acupuncturist and Quaker who lives just outside Washington, D.C. “But it doesn’t seem like we’re being a beacon of democracy right now.”

With Election Day less than a week away, anxiety, distrust and suspicion are running high. Activists and extremists on both the right and left are worried the other side will somehow steal the election, and they’re making plans for what to do if they believe that’s happening.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Violence

(NYT) They Did Not Vote in 2016. Why They Plan to Skip the Election Again.

Like nearly half of all the eligible voters in her county in 2016, Keyana Fedrick did not vote.

Four years later, politics has permeated her corner of northeastern Pennsylvania. Someone sawed a hole in a large Trump sign near one of her jobs. The election office in her county is so overwhelmed with demand that it took over the coroner’s office next door. Her parents, both Democrats born in the 1950s, keep telling her she should vote for Joseph R. Biden Jr. Anything is better than President Trump, they say.

But Ms. Fedrick, who works two jobs, at a hotel and at a department store, does not trust either of the two main political parties, because nothing in her 31 years of life has led her to believe that she could. She says they abandon voters like “a bad mom or dad who promises to come and see you, and I’m sitting outside with my bags packed and they never show up.”

That is why Ms. Fedrick does not regret her decision in 2016 to skip the voting booth. In fact, she plans to repeat it this year — something that she and a friend have started to hide from people they know.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Politics in General

(Wired) The Russian Hackers Playing ‘Chekhov’s Gun’ With US Infrastructure

Over the last half a decade, Russian state-sponsored hackers have triggered blackouts in Ukraine, released history’s most destructive computer worm, and stolen and leaked emails from Democratic targets in an effort to help elect Donald Trump. In that same stretch, one particular group of Kremlin-controlled hackers has gained a reputation for a very different habit: walking right up to the edge of cybersabotage—sometimes with hands-on-the-switches access to US critical infrastructure—and stopping just short.

Last week the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency published an advisory warning that a group known as Berserk Bear—or alternately Energetic Bear, TEMP.Isotope, and Dragonfly—had carried out a broad hacking campaign against US state, local, territorial, and tribal government agencies, as well aviation sector targets. The hackers breached the networks of at least two of those victims. The news of those intrusions, which was reported earlier last week by the news outlet Cyberscoop, presents the troubling but unconfirmed possibility that Russia may be laying the groundwork to disrupt the 2020 election with its access to election-adjacent local government IT systems.

In the context of Berserk Bear’s long history of US intrusions, though, it’s much harder to gauge the actual threat it poses. Since as early as 2012, cybersecurity researchers have been shocked to repeatedly find the group’s fingerprints deep inside infrastructure around the globe, from electric distribution utilities to nuclear power plants. Yet those researchers also say they’ve never seen Berserk Bear use that access to cause disruption. The group is a bit like Chekhov’s gun, hanging on the wall without being fired through all of Act I—and foreshadowing an ominous endgame at a critical moment for US democracy.

“What makes them unique is the fact that they have been so focused on infrastructure throughout their existence, whether it’s mining, oil, and natural gas in different countries or the grid,” says Vikram Thakur, a researcher at security firm Symantec who has tracked the group over several distinct hacking campaigns since 2013.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia, Science & Technology

(DG) John Piper–Policies, Persons, and Paths to Ruin–Pondering The Implications Of The 2020 Election

This article is probably as close as you will get to an answer on how I will vote in the upcoming presidential election.

Probably?

Right. Only God knows what may happen in the next days.

Nothing I say here is intended to dictate how anyone else should vote, but rather to point to a perspective that seems to be neglected. Yes, this perspective sways my vote. But you need not be sinning if you weigh matters differently.

Actually, this is a long-overdue article attempting to explain why I remain baffled that so many Christians consider the sins of unrepentant sexual immorality (porneia), unrepentant boastfulness (alazoneia), unrepentant vulgarity (aischrologia), unrepentant factiousness (dichostasiai), and the like, to be only toxic for our nation, while policies that endorse baby-killing, sex-switching, freedom-limiting, and socialistic overreach are viewed as deadly.

The reason I put those Greek words in parentheses is to give a graphic reminder that these are sins mentioned in the New Testament. To be more specific, they are sins that destroy people. They are not just deadly. They are deadly forever. They lead to eternal destruction (2 Thessalonians 1:9).

They destroy persons (Acts 12:20–23). And through persons, they destroy nations (Jeremiah 48:29–31, 42).

Read it all.

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

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Tablet Magazine) American liberalism is in danger from a new ideology–Stop Being Shocked

No one has yet decided on the name for the force that has come to unseat liberalism. Some say it’s “Social Justice.” The author Rod Dreher has called it “therapeutic totalitarianism.” The writer Wesley Yang refers to it as “the successor ideology”—as in, the successor to liberalism.

At some point, it will have a formal name, one that properly describes its mixture of postmodernism, postcolonialism, identity politics, neo-Marxism, critical race theory, intersectionality, and the therapeutic mentality. Until then, it is up to each of us to see it plainly. We need to look past the hashtags and slogans and the jargon to assess it honestly—and then to explain it to others.

The new creed’s premise goes something like this: We are in a war in which the forces of justice and progress are arrayed against the forces of backwardness and oppression. And in a war, the normal rules of the game—due process; political compromise; the presumption of innocence; free speech; even reason itself—must be suspended. Indeed, those rules themselves were corrupt to begin with—designed, as they were, by dead white males in order to uphold their own power.

“The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house,” as the writer Audre Lorde put it. And the master’s house must be dismantled—because the house is rotted at its foundation.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Education, Media, Movies & Television, Philosophy, Politics in General, Secularism

(NAE) An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility–For the Health of the Nation

The concerns we face in the United States are great, but they are not greater than God. In creation, God called humans to just and compassionate governance. In reverence to God and with love for others, evangelical Christians engage in the public square — not for our own sake but for the health of the nation and world.

Our responsibility to society is grounded in the truth that all people are made in the image of God. Though we all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, we can find full restoration in our living Lord. Truth that brings life leads to flourishing and results in ongoing hope that guides our day-to-day approach to civic engagement.

We also engage with a gracious and winsome spirit. We should not echo the rage and disrespect that typifies much of today’s political debates. Indeed, as the combative nature of 21st-century public discourse threatens meaningful efforts for the common good, the tone of our engagement will be as strategic as our involvement. Evangelicals of all political persuasions and backgrounds must demonstrate that differing opinions can be handled without demonizing, misrepresenting or shaming.

Therefore, in challenging and in equipping evangelical Christians to be involved in policy making and discourse, the National Association of Evangelicals emphasizes that our involvement should model the servant call of our faith and the care and concern for the other. In so doing, we may find our political efforts not only strengthen the social fabric of our nation but also rebuild the plausibility of the Christian faith in the minds and hearts of our culture.

The NAE was formed in 1942, in part, as a response to theological liberalism and rising fundamentalism. Centered on a standard set of beliefs (see the NAE Statement of Faith), NAE’s founders sought a space for thoughtful and biblical engagement with each other and with culture. We continue in this tradition as we advocate for effective public policy.

Evangelical Christians will not always agree on the specifics of governance or the best roads to social reform. However, from our understanding that all people are made in the image of God, we do hold many callings and commitments in common, including: protecting religious freedom and liberty of conscience; safeguarding the nature and sanctity of human life; strengthening marriages, families and children; seeking justice and compassion for the poor and vulnerable; preserving human rights; pursuing racial justice and reconciliation; promoting just peace and restraining violence; and caring for God’s creation.

While these issues do not exhaust the concerns of good government, they provide a platform from which evangelicals can engage in common action. In view of our civic emphasis to engage the public square with conviction and love, and in light of the aforementioned commitments held by evangelicals, we present the following principled framework that seeks to be comprehensive and consistent, and seeks to serve as a basis for cultivating thoughtful evangelical public engagement.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Theology, Theology: Scripture