Category : * Culture-Watch

(World) Depraved hearts–One murder in rural Mississippi underscores the nation’s struggle to contain violent crime

Hours passed. Authorities believe the trio dropped the girls off, then made their way down Highway 61, not far behind Troy Morris. Morris, meanwhile, had pulled over and tried to report his flat tire to the mail service. When that didn’t work, he called Troop M, his highway patrol substation. While he was talking with the dispatcher, a vehicle turned around and stopped beside Morris’ truck. It was the three young men. Norman and Washington remained inside while the driver, Damion Whittley, stepped out and walked up to Morris’ window. Investigators believe he asked for a cigarette or a light. It’s likely Morris had both. He was fond of smoking.

When Whittley walked back to his vehicle, he got a gun. Whatever happened next left Morris dead. Life as they’d known it vanished for the other three men, too, right along with their tail lights as they sped off into the night.

No one can say for sure whether Morris knew Whittley or if Whittley knew him. Most folks around town assumed the motive was robbery. But according to Mark Cochran, owner of Blackwell Hauling, the company that contracted for the postal service, the trucks carried only packages and letters. “No money,” Cochran ­maintains. “Everybody knows that.”

Whatever the motive, Morris’ death was a deeply felt loss, especially at his workplace. Just as calls for defunding police began wreaking havoc on officer recruitment and retention, Troop M lost a career patrolman, a supervisor with 28 years of experience. It also lost a dispatcher. In her last exchange with him that night, the ­dispatcher heard Morris talking with his killer. It was too much. She quit.

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Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Rural/Town Life, Theology

(Washington Post) Sitting all day increases dementia risk — even if you exercise

In news that we shouldn’t take sitting down, a study just published in JAMA finds that people who stay seated for long hours at work and home are at much higher risk of developing dementia than people who sit less.

The negative effects of extended sitting can be so strong, researchers found, that even people who exercise regularly face higher risk if they sit for much of the day.

The study, which involved 49,841 men and women aged 60 or older, “supports the idea that more time spent in sedentary behaviors increases one’s risk of dementia,” said Andrew Budson, a professor of neurology at Boston University and author of “Seven Steps to Managing Your Aging Memory,” who was not involved with the study.

The results also underscore just how pervasive the consequences of sitting can be, affecting our minds, as well as our bodies, and they hint that exercise by itself may not be enough to protect us.

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Posted in Anthropology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(NYT) In El Paso, Migrants With Nowhere to Go Strain a Welcoming City

The city of El Paso, a West Texas way station long accustomed to migrants arriving from Mexico, has begun to buckle under the pressure of thousands upon thousands of people coming over the border, day after day.

The usual shelters have been filled. So too have the hundreds of hotel rooms wrangled by the city to house migrants. A new city-run shelter opened over the weekend in a recreational center, and rapidly filled all of its roughly 400 beds. Another shelter is planned in a vacant middle school.

Mayor Oscar Leeser said over the weekend that the city had reached a “breaking point” and was no longer able to help all the migrants on its own. He welcomed the buses, chartered by the administration of Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, that once again began carrying hundreds of migrants out of the city to Denver, Chicago or New York. The mayor said he was seeking millions of dollars in additional aid from the Biden administration.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Foreign Relations, Immigration, Mexico, Politics in General, Urban/City Life and Issues, Venezuela

(Church Times) Archbishops’ Council is retraumatising us, says group of abuse survivors

Ten survivors of church-based abuse have written to the Archbishops’ Council criticising their treatment after the Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB) was disbanded.

On Sunday evening, a letter was sent to the council by ten of the 12 people who had been awaiting a review of their cases by the ISB when it was disbanded without warning (News, 21 June). They write: “In the period since you closed the ISB we have been left in uncertainty and distress.”

The group criticise the announcement on 14 September that Kevin Crompton had been appointed as an “interim commissioner of independent reviews”….They say that the council’s handling of the situation has caused “harm” to members of the group.

“We have no forum through which to raise these concerns. Collectively, we believe that the harm these decisions have caused needs to be independently assessed and we have asked an expert clinical psychologist to complete this work as a matter of urgency.”

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

(Bloomberg) Investors With $24 Trillion Push Companies to Fight Biodiversity Loss

Investors overseeing $23.6 trillion of funds have kick-started a campaign to pressure 100 companies to ramp up the fight against biodiversity loss.

Axa Investment Managers, Robeco, the Church Commissioners for England, Storebrand Asset Management and 186 other participants in the Nature Action 100 initiative have written to companies demanding “urgent and necessary actions” to protect and restore ecosystems, according to a statement released Tuesday.

The targeted companies include BHP Group Plc, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, Nestle SA, Bayer AG, Inc. and Unilever Plc. They were selected based on their market values and participation in industries ranging from mining, food and pharmaceuticals to chemicals and forestry that are considered vital to reversing biodiversity loss by 2030.

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Posted in Church of England, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Stock Market

A BBC report from Inside coup-hit Niger

Adama Zourkaleini Maiga is soft-spoken, but her eyes suggest steely determination.

The single mother-of-two lives in a quiet, middle-class part of Niger’s capital Niamey, but is originally from Tillabéry, one of the regions worst-hit by violence.

“My mother’s cousin was chief of a village called Téra,” she tells me over lunch. “He was assassinated just seven months ago.

“The terrorists were looking for him and when they found out he’d rented a car to flee, they caught up with him and killed him. They slit his throat. It was a real shock for our whole family.”

Read it all.

Posted in Africa, Foreign Relations, France, Military / Armed Forces, Niger, Politics in General, Terrorism

(NYT) Mammals’ Time on Earth Is Half Over, Scientists Predict

It’s been about 250 million years since reptile-like animals evolved into mammals. Now a team of scientists is predicting that mammals may have only another 250 million years left.

The researchers built a virtual simulation of our future world, similar to the models that have projected human-caused global warming over the next century. Using data on the movement of the continents across the planet, as well as fluctuations in the chemical makeup of atmosphere, the new study projected much further into the future.

Alexander Farnsworth, a paleoclimate scientist at the University of Bristol who led the team, said that the planet might become too hot for any mammals — ourselves included — to survive on land. The researchers found that the climate will turn deadly thanks to three factors: a brighter sun, a change in the geography of the continents and increases in carbon dioxide.

“It’s a triple whammy that becomes unsurvivable,” Dr. Farnsworth said. He and his colleagues published their study on Monday in the journal Nature Geoscience.

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Posted in Animals, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Science & Technology

(Telegraph) A Quarter of Cornish churches fail to offer a Sunday service

More than a quarter of churches in Cornwall are failing to offer a Sunday service, analysis by The Telegraph has revealed.

Across 287 churches in the county, 78 had no forms of Sunday worship advertised on the last weekend of September – a total of 27 per cent.

Of those that did, just 114 advertised that Communion was being offered, considered by many Christians to be the most important sacrament.

Responding to the data, the Rev Marcus Walker, chairman of the campaign group, Save The Parish, said: “It can come as no shock to anybody that if you reduce the number of priests, you reduce the number of services; if you reduce the number of services you reduce the number of people going to church.

“The Church of England has hundreds of millions of pounds to throw at pet causes. Now is the time to put that money back where it was supposed to be spent: parish ministry.”

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Posted in Church of England, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(CH) Master of language: Lancelot Andrewes

The top translator and overseer of the KJV translation, Lancelot Andrewes was perhaps the most brilliant man of his age, and one of the most pious. A man of high ecclesiastical office during both Elizabeth’s and James’s reigns, bishop in three different cities under James, Andrewes is still highly enough regarded in the Church of England to merit his own minor feast on the church calendar.

Though Andrewes never wrote “literature,” modern writers as diverse as T. S. Eliot and Kurt Vonnegut Jr. have called him one of the great literary writers in English. His sermons feel too stiff and artificial and are clotted with too many Latin phrases to appeal to most today, but they are also filled with strikingly beautiful passages. Eliot, a great modern poet in his own right, took a section of an Andrewes sermon and started one of his own poems with it (“The Journey of the Magi”):

A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year for a journey,
and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.

Andrewes served not only as the leader of the First Westminster Company of Translators, which translated Genesis – 2 Kings, but also as general editor of the whole project. He very likely, as Benson Bobrick suggests, drafted the final form of “such celebrated passages as the Creation and Fall; Abraham and Isaac; the Exodus; David’s laments for Saul, Jonathan, and Absalom; and Elijah’s encounter with the ‘still small voice.’”

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Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Language

(Church Times) Mixed reception for new documentation on Church and state relationship in education

Church of England education officials have welcomed the Government’s new Model Articles of Association, which sit alongside an updated national Memorandum of Understanding, as a recognition of the historic relationship between Church and State in education. They describe it as a move that offers “broad and expansive hope” for the development of church multi-academy trusts (MATs) “in a way that suits the local and regional context”.

But the new model documents, published on Monday, have also raised significant concerns. Writing in the Church Times this week, Howard Dellar, who is senior partner and head of the ecclesiastical and education department at Lee Bolton Monier-Williams, describes some of the changes as “exceedingly unwise”, and warned that the new model articles represent a sea change into “very choppy waters”.

One key change is the removal of Single Academy Trust Clauses to support the growth of MATs. Another is that there is now one consolidated model Article of Association, predicated on a majority governance structure, with flexibility to adapt governance provisions according to diocesan policy; previously, there were two separate models for majority and minority C of E governance, reflecting the difference in context between schools converting from voluntary aided and voluntary controlled status.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Church/State Matters, Education, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

(NYT) America Is Using Up Its Groundwater Like There’s No Tomorrow

Global warming has focused concern on land and sky as soaring temperatures intensify hurricanes, droughts and wildfires. But another climate crisis is unfolding, underfoot and out of view.

Many of the aquifers that supply 90 percent of the nation’s water systems, and which have transformed vast stretches of America into some of the world’s most bountiful farmland, are being severely depleted. These declines are threatening irreversible harm to the American economy and society as a whole.

The New York Times conducted a months-long examination of groundwater depletion, interviewing more than 100 experts, traveling the country and creating a comprehensive database using millions of readings from monitoring sites. The investigation reveals how America’s life-giving resource is being exhausted in much of the country, and in many cases it won’t come back. Huge industrial farms and sprawling cities are draining aquifers that could take centuries or millenniums to replenish themselves if they recover at all.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources

(Economist) America says it will send long-range missiles to Ukraine

Month by month Ukraine’s wishlist of weapons has shrunk. At the start of the war came Javelins and Stingers to take out tanks and planes. Then came artillery. himars rocket-launchers followed in the summer. This January it was tanks. And in August the White House even agreed that European allies could send f-16 jets.

Only one major weapon was left: the Army Tactical Missile System, known by its acronym atacms (pronounced attack ’ems). On September 21st that hurdle fell when Joe Biden, America’s president, told Volodymyr Zelensky, his Ukrainian counterpart, during a meeting in the White House, that “a small number” of atacms were on their way, according to reports in the American press the following day. The move, first reported by nbc News, has not been formally announced.

Atacms has acquired totemic status during the war. It is a ballistic missile that can be fired from the himars launchers Ukraine is already operating. Thus far those have mostly fired gps-guided rockets known as gmlrs, which can travel 70km or so. The initial appeal of atacms was that it could go a lot further—the official range is 300km—allowing Ukraine to reach even those facilities which Russia had moved farther behind the front lines.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(Church Times) Anglican environmental chair warns against climate denial

Most Churches in the Anglican Communion are tackling the realities of the climate crisis every day, a global audience has heard. But the overwhelming nature of the crisis, and the attendant denial and cynicism, have hugely undermined efforts to act for change, the chair of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, the Rt Revd Julio Murray Thompson, has said.

Bishop Thompson, a former Primate of Central America, was addressing participants from around the world in webinars on the Lambeth Call on the Environment and Sustainable Development (News, 11 August): part of a structured series on how each of the calls — specific requests determined at last year’s Lambeth Conference — is progressing.

A key part of the [partial 2022] Lambeth [gathering] Declaration was the acknowledgement: “We contribute to the problem. We contribute to the solution. We are both local and global. We connect with one another, share our experiences, and can leverage our networks and Anglican identity to mobilise for action. We do not speak from just one position but from many. We do not only speak to others; we speak also to ourselves.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Stewardship

(PRC) Americans are more pessimistic than optimistic about many aspects of the country’s future

Americans feel generally pessimistic about the future of the United States when it comes to several aspects of society, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. In particular, 63% of Americans are pessimistic about the country’s moral and ethical standards, and 59% are pessimistic about its education system.

Smaller shares are pessimistic about other aspects of the country’s future. Still, more Americans feel pessimistic than optimistic about:

–The United States’ ability to ensure racial equality for all people, regardless of race or ethnicity (44% are pessimistic, compared with 28% who are optimistic)
–The country’s ability to get along with other countries (41% vs. 30%)
–The institution of marriage and the family in the country (40% vs. 25%)

Views on these items differ considerably by party and, in some cases, by race and ethnicity and by age.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A.

(YN) What’s the No. 1 feeling that comes to mind for Americans when thinking about the upcoming 2024 presidential election? “Dread”

What’s the No. 1 feeling that comes to mind for Americans when thinking about the upcoming presidential election?

Dread, according to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll.

The survey of 1,636 U.S. adults, which was conducted from Sept. 14 to 18, offered respondents seven emotions — three positive, three negative, one neutral — and asked them to select any and all that reflect their attitude toward the 2024 campaign.

Dread, the most negative option, topped the list (41%), followed by exhaustion (34%), optimism (25%), depression (21%), indifference (17%), excitement (15%) and delight (5%).

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

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Office of the President, Politics in General

(EF) Only 40% in France want a religious ceremony when they die

More French believe in reincarnation and less in heaven, hell, and resurrection.

A survey conducted in September 2023 by IFOP shows new trends in how people in France think about their own death, burial, and what they expect to find (or not) in another life.

According to the 1,013 people aged 18 or more that have been asked, only 31% believe in life after death, compared to 37% in 1970. Most of these (69%) identify with a certain faith, mainly Christianity.

One of the biggest changes is that more 32% of those who believe in an afterlife, believe it will be in the form or reincarnation (up from 22% in 2004). According to the survey, the typical profile of those who believe in reincarnation arepeople aged 25-34, Roman Catholics, with low income and with conservative socio-political views.

Less people believe in heaven and hell (32%, up from 30% in 1980), and resurrection (24%, down from 30% in 1980).

Read it all.

Posted in France, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) Dilute climate policies at world’s peril, PM Sunak is told

The Government’s decision to row back on its green commitments is shameful and short-sighted, the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham Usher, has said.

In a speech on Wednesday afternoon, the Prime Minister announced plans to delay Net Zero targets, although he said that he still wished to meet the deadline of 2050. Measures an­­nounced included delaying by five years a ban on new petrol and diesel cars and delaying phasing out gas boilers.

If the country continued to im­­pose existing targets, he said, “we risk losing the consent of the British people and the resulting backlash will not just be against specific pol­icies, but against the wider mission itself.”

Bishop Usher, the C of E’s lead bishop for the environment, posted on social media on Wednesday morning, after news had leaked that Mr Sunak intended to water down the targets: “It will be another shame­­ful day if [the Government] rows back on its Net Zero policies. Shortsighted, it will erode credibility at home & abroad. This isn’t the time to seek political advantage with games. Leadership and action are needed, not delay and procrastina­­tion.”

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Bloomberg) Nearly Half of All Young Adults Live With Mom and Dad — and They Like It

Nearly half of all young adults are living with their parents — and they’re not ashamed to say it.

Moving out and living on your own is often seen as a marker of adulthood. But dealt an onerous set of cards — including pandemic lockdowns, decades-high inflation, soaring student debt levels and a shaky job market — young people today are increasingly staying put. What’s more, it’s no longer seen as a sign of individual failure.

Almost 90% of surveyed Americans say people shouldn’t be judged for moving back home, according to Harris Poll in an exclusive survey for Bloomberg News. It’s seen as a pragmatic way to get ahead, the survey of 4,106 adults in August showed.

“We’re in an economy where it’s harder to live independently,” said Carol Sigelman, professor of social psychology at George Washington University. “Adults recognize that it’s tough these days.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Children, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Marriage & Family, Young Adults

(Church Times) Anne Holmes reviews Struggling with God by Christopher C. H. Cook, Isabelle Hamley, and John Swinton

This deeply Christian book names and identifies with the holistic way in which Jesus approached people. It draws on “biblical insights, the lived experience of those who struggle with mental health challenges, the insights of psychiatry and the mental health sciences, and the resources of theology”. This makes it a vital resource for all those wishing to support those thus challenged and for those who care for and about them.

Particular features are a useful summary of specific illnesses in chapter one and close encounters with biblical narratives throughout, notably that on Job and his friends. The authors suggest that Job’s struggles were not outside God’s presence, but were “a valid and essential expression of faith in the midst of utter darkness”. This sense of despair is picked up in chapter three, in a reflection on the dark night of the soul as explored by St John of the Cross in the 16th century. Comparison is made with characteristics of a depressive disorder. The difficulty in disentangling spiritual and psychological struggles is named. This difficulty was the research object of the psychiatrist Glòria Durà-Vilà, who was troubled by the over-medicalisation of deep sadness and published her findings in Sadness, Depression, and the Dark Night of the Soul (Jessica Kingsley, 2017).

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

A NYT front page story on Benedict Arnold–Giving a Traitor His Just Deserts, for 242 Years

Connecticut, 1781. New London is burning after British troops — led by Benedict Arnold — raided the town. Dozens of people are dead. Hundreds are hurt. The sky is full of smoke.

About a month later, soldiers fight in Yorktown, Va., in the last major battle of the Revolutionary War. A rallying cry: “Remember New London.”

And 242 years later, New London has not forgotten.

On a recent Saturday evening, hundreds of people gathered in the streets to burn Benedict Arnold, America’s most famous traitor, in effigy. To the beat of a fife and drum, residents marched the life-sized, two-faced puppet to its execution. Some, in tricorn hats, carried mock bayonets. Others held torches.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Military / Armed Forces

The Latest Edition of the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

The ADOSC Has Launched at CofC

We recently shared that an Anglican campus ministry was newly launched at The College of Charleston. This new ministry has a name, Campus Communion. Curious about ways to partner with Campus Communion or how to stay in the loop? Make sure you subscribe to the newsletter from Taylor Daniel, ADOSC campus minister. You can read his first full update here and don’t forget, subscribe!

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Media, Parish Ministry

(BBC) Quobna Cugoano: London church honours Ghanaian-born freed slave and abolitionist

Artist Che Lovelace was on his way to the coast on the Caribbean island of Trinidad to collect mud to use in carnival celebrations when he received a message that a church in the UK wanted him to create an artwork to commemorate the life of an African man he had never heard of.

Quobna Ottobah Cugoano was a respected abolitionist in 18th Century Britain – but, despite his significant role in the abolition of the slave trade and slavery, his story is not that well-known.

Cugoano was born in the Gold Coast, today’s Ghana. He was enslaved when he was 13 – captured with about 20 others as they were playing in a field.

His destination was the sugar plantations of the Caribbean island of Grenada. On board the ship taking him across the Atlantic Ocean, there was, as Cugoano writes, “nothing to be heard but the rattling of chains, smacking of whips, and the groans and cries of our fellow-men.”

Read it all.

Posted in Art, Church History, Church of England, Ghana, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) Cost-of-living crisis adds to children’s worries, survey finds

Millions of children as young as ten are most worried about not having enough money for their future, the annual Good Childhood report from the Children’s Society estimates.

The report, published on Wednesday, is based largely on a survey of 2001 children (aged ten to 17) and their parent or carer, conducted by the Christian charity between May and June. Of these, more than one third (37 per cent) said that they were either “very” or “quite” worried about having enough money in the future. If that percentage is applied to the whole population, it would suggest that about 2.3 million young people share such worries.

For the first time, the survey included a question on concerns about the cost of living. This proved to be more worrying to children than the environment. Almost half (46 per cent) were either very or quite worried about rising costs, compared with 37 per cent about the environment.

Other worries listed in order of concern were: crime (33 per cent); new illnesses/pandemics, inequality, and online safety (all 30 per cent); homelessness (26 per cent); unemployment (25 per cent); and the refugee crisis (22 per cent).

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Posted in Children, England / UK, Marriage & Family, Poverty

(WSJ) The Unexpected New Winners in the Global Energy War

BIR REBAA, Algeria—Once-obscure corners of the energy world, from offshore Congo to Azerbaijan, are booming as Europe finds new sources of natural gas to replace the Russian supplies that once powered the continent. The shift is redrawing the world’s energy map at a rapid clip.

In Bir Rebaa, deep in the Sahara, the Italian energy company Eni and Algeria’s state-owned energy company are drilling dozens of wells, producing gas from previously untapped fields in a matter of months.

Three pipelines beneath the Mediterranean Sea connect Algeria’s vast gas reserves to Europe. For much of the last decade, Russian gas giant Gazprom had kept prices low, pushing suppliers like Algeria out of the European market.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Algeria, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Globalization

(WashingtonPost) At Japan’s dementia cafes, forgotten orders are all part of the service

The 85-year-old server was eager to kick off his shift, welcoming customers into the restaurant with a hearty greeting: “Irasshaimase!” or “Welcome!” But when it came time to take their orders, things got a little complicated.

He walked up to a table but forgot his clipboard of order forms. He gingerly delivered a piece of cake to the wrong table. One customer waited 16 minutes for a cup of water after being seated.

But no one complained or made a fuss about it. Each time, patrons embraced his mix-ups and chuckled along with him. That’s the way it goes at the Orange Day Sengawa, also known as the Cafe of Mistaken Orders.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Health & Medicine, Japan, Pastoral Theology

(MIT Tech Review) DeepMind’s cofounder: Generative AI is just a phase. What’s next is interactive AI.

Let’s bring it back to what you’re trying to achieve. Large language models are obviously the technology of the moment. But why else are you betting on them?

The first wave of AI was about classification. Deep learning showed that we can train a computer to classify various types of input data: images, video, audio, language. Now we’re in the generative wave, where you take that input data and produce new data.

The third wave will be the interactive phase. That’s why I’ve bet for a long time that conversation is the future interface. You know, instead of just clicking on buttons and typing, you’re going to talk to your AI.

And these AIs will be able to take actions. You will just give it a general, high-level goal and it will use all the tools it has to act on that. They’ll talk to other people, talk to other AIs. This is what we’re going to do with Pi.

That’s a huge shift in what technology can do. It’s a very, very profound moment in the history of technology that I think many people underestimate. Technology today is static. It does, roughly speaking, what you tell it to do.

But now technology is going to be animated.

Read it all.

Posted in Science & Technology

(LA Times) Home insurance and climate change have collided — and we’re all going to pay for it

As another legislative session draws to a close in Sacramento, the problem lawmakers failed to fix is one of the most urgent facing Californians: the slow-moving collapse of the property insurance market as costs from climate disasters mount.

It “is not even a yellow flag issue. This is a waving red flag issue,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday night when asked about the failure of the Legislature to act.

This year, multiple companies, including the state’s largest home insurer, State Farm, have announced they are no longer taking on new residential and commercial properties, citing wildfire risk. In fact, seven of the 12 insurance groups operating in California — together, responsible for about 85% of the market — have pulled back.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Climate Change, Weather, Consumer/consumer spending, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Housing/Real Estate Market, Personal Finance

Archbishop Justin Welby’s Speech to the British-Irish Association

As we all know very well, the trend in post war philosophy, especially in Europe and to some extent in the USA, has been towards the individual as the sole actor in their own drama and the final arbiter of their fate. True, they are caught up in forces more powerful than themselves and find themselves vast desires, but they are always somehow alone.

In the way these trends have emerged into culture there is a great danger of the entirely false idea prevailing that for most of us we are essentially autonomous human actors, protected by markets, rational economic actors, who have the right to live without all but the most essential restraints on what we make of ourselves. That understanding of life is not by any means entirely new but has reached a certain level of predominant thinking in everything from culture wars, through economics to the politics of sexuality. We are more and more individualist.

At the same time, as The Times of London has commented so continually this week, Christian and all religious faith has declined dramatically.

I should be clear that this is not all bad, for Churches are ruined when wealth and power lead them to self-reliance. I rejoice in less of a bossy attitude, and of the church stepping back from telling everybody what to do, here and elsewhere. Except in the House of Lords! It is not the biblical pattern of Jesus who made himself a servant, washed His disciples’ feet, lived a holy life and by His death and resurrection lifted the weary, the outcast and the failure into hope.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Religion & Culture

(CC) Mac Loftin–A better response to the decline of the Christian West

What if, instead, we followed Certeau in insisting that “the plural is the manifestation of the Christian meaning,” that the truth of Christianity is not a fragile artifact to be clung to and defended but something waiting to be made? Certeau reveals the will to self-preservation as a betrayal of Jesus’ call. “The response which it allows cannot remain moored, tied to a delimited space of the call, nor can it be confined to a (social or historical) site of the event. . . . It always has to take risks further on, always uncertain and fragmentary.” Self-styled defenders of Christendom take themselves to be protecting tradition, but in Certeau’s cutting words, they reduce tradition to “a (perhaps beautiful) museum, a (perhaps glorious) cemetery.”

To cling so tightly to the beloved and familiar is to be like Peter on Mount Tabor, striving in vain to nail down the ephemeral. Instead, Certeau urges us to be like Jacob at Bethel:

Always on the move, in practices of reading which are increasingly heterogeneous and distant from any ecclesial orthodoxy, [Jesus’ call] announced the disappearance of the site. Having passed that way, it left, as at Bethel, only the trace of stones erected into stelae and consecrated with oil—with our gratitude—before departing without return.

For the foreseeable future, Christians will be tempted on all sides by jeremiads on the disappearance of “our way of life.” Right-wing nationalists will warn that all the traditional arrangements of family, culture, property, and faith are fading away, transforming into something new and strange. Progressive and mainline leaders will warn that their denominations will die out if they are not made to accommodate the appetites and prejudices of the market. This chorus may well be right. Christianity—at least Christianity as we in the West have known it—may very well be in its last days. But Christians should reject the temptation to rage against the dying of the light, whether by weaponizing state power against those bringing change or by cozying up to the rich and powerful and well-connected. Permanence was never our calling.

In a late work, Certeau describes the Christian mystic as one “who cannot stop walking and, with the certainty of what is lacking, knows of every place and object that it is not that; one cannot stay there nor be content with that. Desire creates an excess. Places are exceeded, passed, lost behind it. It makes one go further, elsewhere.” The loss of the traditional and familiar is certainly a cause for mourning, as the death of anything cries out to be mourned. But—having consecrated these passable forms with our gratitude—we must allow our mourning to pull us forward, elsewhere, on toward the unknown. We as Christians are called to have faith that while our wanderings will bring risk and danger, we might also find grace in being altered by what comes, in listening with attention to the incomprehensible words of the strangest stranger as perhaps the word we have been listening for.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) Christians protest against climate change as UK swelters under 30 degree heat

As the UK sweltered under a ferocious autumn sun this week, Christians took part in 13 climate pilgrimages around the UK, from Glasgow to Brighton, to highlight public concern regarding the climate crisis, and to call on the Government to end new oil and gas expansion.

The Met Office announced that the heatwave in England and Wales this week was the first time since records began that temperatures have been higher than 30ºC for six days in a row in September.

The Revd Vanessa Elston, a pioneer priest in Southwark diocese, took part in a pilgrimage in Battersea. She said: “The public are really concerned about the climate issue. We don’t want to be paying sky-high energy bills to fossil-fuel companies in a cost-of-living crisis. Renewables are cheaper; so it’s high time our leaders made them a viable option on a large scale.”

As temperatures rose, leaders of the G20 group of nations met in Delhi, where they called for peace in Ukraine, agreed that the world needed $4 trillion to fund the energy transition away from fossil fuels, and called for accelerating efforts towards a “phasedown of unabated coal power”; they said that poorer nations needed financial support to ensure a “just transition”.

Before the summit, church leaders representing more than 600 million Christians, had called on the G20 leaders to implement progressive carbon taxes and to end subsidies for fossil fuels, which could raise $3.2 trillion for the needed energy transition.

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Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship