Category : * Culture-Watch
The U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed in two 7-2 rulings Wednesday (July 8) that churches and religious organizations are free to make employment and health insurance decisions based on their convictions.
In one ruling, the justices reiterated their support for a “ministerial exception” that enables churches and other religious bodies to hire and fire based on their beliefs. They had ruled unanimously in 2012 in favor of such an exception. In consolidated cases, two Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles chose not to renew contracts for two fifth-grade teachers based on what they said was poor performance.
In its other opinion, the high court upheld federal rules that protect the rights of employers with religious or moral objections to the Obama-era, abortion/contraception mandate. The opinion came after a seven-year legal battle by the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic order that serves the poverty-stricken elderly, to gain an exemption from the requirement.
The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) commended both decisions as victories for religious freedom.
“If a religious organization cannot recruit leaders who agree with the beliefs and practices of those organizations, then there can be no true religious freedom. The Court recognized that today,” ERLC President Russell Moore said in a written statement of the “ministerial exception” opinion.
High court delivers 2 religious liberty wins https://t.co/InfxcbnRkU
— Tom Roten™ (@TomRoten) July 9, 2020
As I said to a friend today the word “break” in this midst of this current situation has to be put in quotes. In any event it needs to happen somehow even give the limitations .
I have been at this blog since the first part of 2003, and it is time to step back. As I am constantly insisting to my friends, none of us is indispensable, and this is a way of living that out by yours truly. Remember I told you I am the type of person who goes to bed every night just a little sad–only a little–about how much I don’t know (and still wish to find out). So moving away from the information addiction for me will not necessarily be easy–but it is important.
Posts will be catch as catch can until I let you know–KSH.
God made the Sabbath for all time. It was not designed to be of temporary duration, but of eternal. The time will never come when the seventh day is not the blessed, holy rest day of God. “All his commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever” (Psalm 111:7, 8). pic.twitter.com/7eeT3hgr7Q
— Obed Ministry (@ObedMinistry) July 4, 2020
As the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is rising sharply, 54% of Americans say they are worried about the lack of social distancing in their local area. Gallup’s June 22-28 polling marks the first time that this measure has reached the majority level, and it coincides with a record-high 86% of U.S. adults saying they have worn a mask in public in the past week.
As the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is rising sharply, 54% of Americans say they are worried about the lack of social distancing in their local area. https://t.co/4MfZ4Z87FK
— GallupNews (@GallupNews) July 6, 2020
Marking the end of the first half of London Climate Action Week, representatives from UK faith groups have signed an open letter to the UK Government urging it to ensure that its economic recovery strategy is centred on the urgent need to reduce the impact of climate change.
In the letter, the signatories, some of whom are members of the ‘Faith for the Climate’ network, also commit to the goals of the Laudato Si encyclical – an initiative of Pope Francis – to advocate for and model positive initiatives to continue to tackle the Climate Emergency.
The open letter [begins]:
COVID-19 has unexpectedly taught us a great deal. Amidst the fear and the grief for loved ones lost, many of us have found consolation in the dramatic reduction of pollution and the restoration of nature. Renewed delight in and contact with the natural world has the capacity to reduce our mental stress and nourish us spiritually.
We have rediscovered our sense of how interconnected the world is. The very health and future of humanity depends on our ability to act together not only with respect to pandemics but also in protecting our global eco-system.
At the same time, less travel and consumption and more kindness and neighbourliness have helped us appreciate what society can really mean.
We have also seen yet again that in times of crisis, injustice becomes more obvious, and that it is the poor and vulnerable who suffer most….
Marking the end of London Climate Action Week @london_climate on Friday UK faith leaders called on the Government to prioritise the environment, ensuring that the economic recovery is centred on the urgent need to reduce the impact of climate change.https://t.co/IH6AQyPha7
— Church of England Environment Programme (@CofEEnvironment) July 6, 2020
Belfast man Christopher Gault left medicine to join the priesthood in 2014.
With the outbreak of coronavirus, he returned to work as a doctor for six weeks on the front line in Belfast’s Mater hospital.
Coronavirus: The priest treating patients during crisis https://t.co/psn8YqL986
— Rev’d Tim (@revdtim) July 5, 2020
“In Philadelphia, the same day as the British landing on Staten Island, July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress, in a momentous decision, voted to ‘dissolve the connection’ with Great Britain. The news reached New York four days later, on July 6, and at once spontaneous celebrations broke out. ‘The whole choir of our officers … went to a public house to testify our joy at the happy news of Independence. We spent the afternoon merrily,’ recorded Isaac Bangs.”
“A letter from John Hancock to Washington, as well as the complete text of the Declaration, followed two days later:
“‘That our affairs may take a more favorable turn,’ Hancock wrote, ‘the Congress have judged it necessary to dissolve the connection between Great Britain and the American colonies, and to declare them free and independent states; as you will perceive by the enclosed Declaration, which I am directed to transmit to you, and to request you will have it proclaimed at the head of the army in the way you shall think most proper.’ “Many, like Henry Knox, saw at once that with the enemy massing for battle so close at hand and independence at last declared by Congress, the war had entered an entirely new stage. The lines were drawn now as never before, the stakes far higher. ‘The eyes of all America are upon us,’ Knox wrote. ‘As we play our part posterity will bless or curse us.’
“By renouncing their allegiance to the King, the delegates at Philadelphia had committed treason and embarked on a course from which there could be no turning back.
“‘We are in the very midst of a revolution,’ wrote John Adams, ‘the most complete, unexpected and remarkable of any in the history of nations.’
“In a ringing preamble, drafted by Thomas Jefferson, the document declared it ‘self-evident’ that ‘all men are created equal,’ and were endowed with the ‘unalienable’ rights of ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ And to this noble end the delegates had pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.
“Such courage and high ideals were of little consequence, of course, the Declaration itself being no more than a declaration without military success against the most formidable force on Earth. John Dickinson of Pennsylvania, an eminent member of Congress who opposed the Declaration, had called it a ‘skiff made of paper.’ And as Nathanael Greene had warned, there were never any certainties about the fate of war.
“But from this point on, the citizen-soldiers of Washington’s army were no longer to be fighting only for the defense of their country, or for their rightful liberties as freeborn Englishmen, as they had at Lexington and Concord, Bunker Hill and through the long siege at Boston. It was now a proudly proclaimed, all-out war for an independent America, a new America, and thus a new day of freedom and equality.”
—-David McCullough, 1776
Rereading 1776 by #davidmccullough. At the chapter where on June 29th, 1776, the first British warships arrived in New York harbor eventually growing to 400, and 32k troops, in 6 weeks – the largest naval force in history to that time. Imagine what New Yorkers witnessed and felt? pic.twitter.com/2JtzniD5Hj
— Ryan M (@Ryanilbasso) June 28, 2020
Centre of equal daughters, equal sons,
All, all alike endear’d, grown, ungrown, young or old,
Strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable, rich,
Perennial with the Earth, with Freedom, Law and Love,
A grand, sane, towering, seated Mother,
Chair’d in the adamant of Time.
— USSArizona (@USSArizona) July 4, 2020
1. Which of these events actually happened on July 4, 1776?
A) The U.S. declared victory in the Revolutionary War.
B) A group of patriots dressed as Native Americans tossed British tea into the harbor to protest excessive taxes.
C) The Declaration of Independence was finalized.
D) The Constitution was finalized.
E) Paul Revere rode from Boston to Lexington and Concord to warn the patriots that the British would attack by sea….
“Today we stand on an awful arena, where character which was the growth of centuries was tested and determined by the issues of a single day. We are compassed about by a cloud of witnesses; not alone the shadowy ranks of those who wrestled here, but the greater parties of the action–they for whom these things were done. Forms of thought rise before us, as in an amphitheatre, circle beyond circle, rank above rank; The State, The Union, The People. And these are One. Let us–from the arena, contemplate them–the spiritual spectators.
“There is an aspect in which the question at issue might seem to be of forms, and not of substance. It was, on its face, a question of government. There was a boastful pretence that each State held in its hands the death-warrant of the Nation; that any State had a right, without show of justification outside of its own caprice, to violate the covenants of the constitution, to break away from the Union, and set up its own little sovereignty as sufficient for all human purposes and ends; thus leaving it to the mere will or whim of any member of our political system to destroy the body and dissolve the soul of the Great People. This was the political question submitted to the arbitrament of arms. But the victory was of great politics over small. It was the right reason, the moral consciousness and solemn resolve of the people rectifying its wavering exterior lines according to the life-lines of its organic being.
“There is a phrase abroad which obscures the legal and moral questions involved in the issue,–indeed, which falsifies history: “The War between the States”. There are here no States outside of the Union. Resolving themselves out of it does not release them. Even were they successful in intrenching themselves in this attitude, they would only relapse into territories of the United States. Indeed several of the States so resolving were never in their own right either States or Colonies; but their territories were purchased by the common treasury of the Union. Underneath this phrase and title,–“The War between the States”–lies the false assumption that our Union is but a compact of States. Were it so, neither party to it could renounce it at his own mere will or caprice. Even on this theory the States remaining true to the terms of their treaty, and loyal to its intent, would have the right to resist force by force, to take up the gage of battle thrown down by the rebellious States, and compel them to return to their duty and their allegiance. The Law of Nations would have accorded the loyal States this right and remedy.
“But this was not our theory, nor our justification. The flag we bore into the field was not that of particular States, no matter how many nor how loyal, arrayed against other States. It was the flag of the Union, the flag of the people, vindicating the right and charged with the duty of preventing any factions, no matter how many nor under what pretence, from breaking up this common Country.
“It was the country of the South as well as of the North. The men who sought to dismember it, belonged to it. Its was a larger life, aloof from the dominance of self-surroundings; but in it their truest interests were interwoven. They suffered themselves to be drawn down from the spiritual ideal by influences of the physical world. There is in man that peril of the double nature. “But I see another law”, says St. Paul. “I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind.”
–Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (1828-1914). The remarks here are from Chamberlain’s address at the general dedicatory exercises in the evening in the court house in Gettsyburg on the occasion of the dedication of the Maine monuments. It took place on October 3, 1889. For those who are history buffs you can see an actual program of the events there (on page 545)–KSH.
On this day in 1863, a 34-year-old college professor from Maine by the name of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain holds the line on Little Round Top and saves the Union army at Gettysburg (and quite possibly the Union itself.) pic.twitter.com/cAqobQYAs7
— Military History Now (@MilHistNow) July 2, 2020
O! say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming.
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming.
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
–Francis Scott Key (1779-1843)
— Rosie Basset (@RosieBasset) July 4, 2020
About 150 preachers, rabbis and imams are promising to invoke Black abolitionist Frederick Douglass on July 4th as they call for the U.S. to tackle racism and poverty.
The religious leaders are scheduled this weekend to frame their sermons around “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July” on the 168th anniversary of that speech by Douglass. The former slave gave his speech at an Independence Day celebration on July 5, 1852, in Rochester, New York. The address challenged the Founding Fathers and the hypocrisy of their ideals with the existence of slavery on American soil.
The initiative to remember Douglass is led by the Poor People’s Campaign, a coalition of religious leaders seeking to push the U.S. to address issues of poverty modeled after Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s last crusade.
“(The Declaration of Independence) was written mostly by Thomas Jefferson. Yet he owned hundreds of human beings, and enslaved them,” Rabbi Arthur Waskow plans to tell The Shalom Center in Philadelphia, according to prepared remarks. “The contradiction between his words and his actions has been repeated through all American history.”
Religious leaders to invoke Frederick Douglass on July 4th https://t.co/UXxU0AY85U
— news10nbc (@news10nbc) July 4, 2020
(CNBC) Coronavirus forced 62% of summer camps to close this year and early estimates predict the industry will take a $16 billion revenue hit
If you visited Lochearn Camp For Girls, nestled on the shores of Vermont’s Lake Fairlee, during the summer months you’d likely hear the sounds of tennis balls hitting the court, horses trotting in the nearby corrals and girls laughing as they canoe in pristine waters.
But this year, the grounds are much quieter without the roughly 360 campers Lochearn welcomes each summer. Amid the coronavirus outbreak, camp director Tony Oyenarte and his team decided to close the overnight resident program for the 2020 season. “It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make as a camp director and as a businessman,” Oyenarte tells CNBC Make It.
“We’ve been open for 104 consecutive years. We went through the flu of 1918, both world wars, H1N1. But when June 1 came, and we had to make a decision for the summer, it was focused on: Are we gonna be able to deliver an experience that’s going to be safe and is it going to be fun?” Oyenarte says. And the short answer, after much soul searching, was no. “At the end of the day, we just said it’s not going to be the best experience for our campers and our staff.”
Coronavirus forced 62% of summer camps to close this year and early estimates predict the industry will take a $16 billion revenue hit https://t.co/xhnDRPgmQ0
— CNBC International (@CNBCi) July 3, 2020
“Public health, when it does its work best, it’s not telling people what to do. It’s telling people how to keep themselves and their loved ones safe so people can make their decisions about how to do that,” Bibbins-Domingo said.
Lockdown fatigue is not a new phenomenon. During the 1918 flu pandemic, San Franciscans threw their masks into the air when they thought the pandemic was over, not realizing a new deadly wave of flu would hit within weeks, said Chin-Hong at UC San Francisco.
“People are afraid that history is going to repeat itself,” he said.
California’s exuberant optimism that the worst of the pandemic was behind us was fueled by the state’s early success. While many people in California might not know someone who died, Chin-Hong said, in New York, it seemingly felt like everyone knew someone who died.
The public increasingly ignored the rules and demanded their summer on the sand, swimming, sunbathing and just hanging out. Unable to stop the crowds, county officials simply gave up.https://t.co/K7Yiigfscp
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) July 3, 2020
On Sunday 5 July, prisoners and their families will be able to worship together during the first-ever online prison church service broadcast by the Church of England.
This means that, for the first time, prisoners and their families will be able to attend the same church service, wherever they may be. Worshippers outside of the prison service are also welcome to attend.
Recorded at three sites – HMP Stocken in Rutland, HMP Low Newton in Durham and HMP Pentonville in London – the service will include contributions from prison staff and chaplains, along with prayers, reflections and artwork written and created by prisoners.
First online prison church service to be broadcast by @C_of_E this coming Sunday https://t.co/yxEw3VJc6P
— Gerry Lynch (@gerrylynch) July 3, 2020
(EF) Membership of German free evangelical denominations remains stable while Protestant and Catholic churches suffer huge losses
The latest statistics on members of free evangelical churches in Germany show that independent evangelical groups are stable. This contrasts with the heavy losses of the Protestant and Roman Catholic churches.
The Union of Baptist Free Evangelical Churches (BEFG) of Germany reported 80,195 members at the end of the year 2019, 961 less than the year before.
This loss of 1% in its membership is attributed to the fall of baptisms (1,610, almost half than in 2017). Another reason for this slight fall of membership, the Baptist annual report says, has to do with the fact that members who move from one church to another, do not often ask for membership in the new congregation.
Meanwhile, the Union of Pentecostal Free Churches (BFP), reported 62,872 members in 2019, a growth of over 10% if compared to the year 2017.
(Local Paper) As holiday weekend approaches, Charleston-area restaurant workers fear what it might bring
By now, just about everyone in South Carolina is familiar with the graph charting the state’s new coronavirus cases. The trend line looks like a child’s drawing of a mountain cliff or a letter ‘L’ in repose, with a plateau followed by a sharp vertical flourish.
It also perfectly mirrors the fear and anxiety that food-and-beverage employees across downtown Charleston say they experience at work.
With positive tests for the coronavirus progressively thinning out local restaurant staffs, workers say they have less time to keep up with new sanitation protocols and more reason to worry about contracting the potentially deadly virus.
In interviews conducted over the past week by The Post and Courier, multiple employees at half a dozen leading Charleston restaurants have shared a remarkably similar story: They feel abandoned by public officials who championed reopening without restriction and endangered by patrons who mock their masks and flout social distancing rules.
Many front-of-house workers are so tired and stressed that they wish restaurants would revert to offering takeout exclusively, even if it would cost them tips.
“The restaurant industry feels unsafe,” says a former Leon’s Oyster Shop server who last month quit after learning co-workers who were exposed to the virus at a dinner party were still on the schedule.
“The restaurant industry feels unsafe. A lot of people want to get out of there, but it’s so hard to find another job,” a former Leon’s Oyster Shop server said.https://t.co/gU3ORr6ZBT
— The Post and Courier (@postandcourier) July 2, 2020
(The State) South Carolina’s health agency reports an additional 1,629 coronavirus cases, 19 new deaths
South Carolina’s public health agency reported another large batch of confirmed COVID-19 cases on Thursday, the eve of a holiday weekend that has state health officials warning large Fourth of July crowds will only cause the virus daily counts to further surge.
The state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control announced 1,629 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing South Carolina’s total ahead of the long weekend to 39,587 — roughly 27,000 of which were logged by the agency after June 1.
Officials also reported an additional 19 South Carolinians have died as a result of the virus, putting the state’s death toll at 777.
The second day of July marked another large batch of confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Carolina. https://t.co/jLTrY60rGW
— The State Newspaper (@thestate) July 2, 2020
A record 3.9m firearm background checks were conducted in June, according to new FBI figures that underscore the sharp rise in US gun sales since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and civil unrest following the killing of George Floyd.
According to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, the number of firearm background checks conducted last month in the US was 71 per cent higher compared with the same time last year. The monthly figures broke the previous record, which was set in March, when 3.7m checks were conducted.
The latest figures cover a period in which the number of coronavirus cases increased rapidly in many states across the American south and west, including Florida, Texas and Arizona. They also take into account the period of widespread antiracism protests and civil unrest after Floyd was killed in late May.
The FBI database does not convey the total guns sold, however, because background check laws and other rules surrounding firearm purchases vary from state to state. Not all gun buyers in the US are subject to background checks.
Data point to soaring US gun sales in June https://t.co/7qRsJ4upnr
— Financial Times (@FT) July 2, 2020
Our starting point must be to recognise the fact that we all find ourselves between two opposing power systems: the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of this World. It’s a division clearly expressed by Jesus himself (Matthew 22:15–22). In summary, the Kingdom of this World represents those systems, structures and organisations of politics, economics and power that owe no allegiance to God. They set their own agenda and goals and seek to gain them with the aid of political persuasion, finance, the media and even, if necessary, with force.
The Kingdom of the World is proud: delighting in its authority, and displaying it in its buildings, mass media and grand events. Sometimes the Kingdom of this World appears in apparently competing forms, such as left- or right-wing politics, yet, deep down, there is but a single system: a Kingdom of the World that seeks to control all in every way.
The Kingdom of God is, in contrast, very different. It is a countercultural movement across all nations made up of those men and women whose allegiance is not to any power system but to Jesus Christ who has redeemed them. Sometimes, the Kingdom of this World may openly and visibly oppose God’s Kingdom through abuse and persecution. Perhaps more frequently – and more dangerously – it may disguise itself in the language of God’s kingdom and, by doing so, seduce God’s followers into supporting it.
The responsibility of those in the Kingdom of God has always been to resist the direct and indirect attacks of the Kingdom of this World. It’s a long, tough battle and it isn’t over yet. That final victory (guaranteed by the victory of the cross) will only occur at the coming of Christ when, as Revelation 11:15 (NIV) tells us, the ‘Kingdoms of the World’ will become ‘the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah’.
Given this idea of two warring kingdoms, let me lay down three foundation stones for how we are to think about how we live in the world, whether tumultuous or not.
New coronavirus cases in the U.S. rose above 50,000, a single-day record, as some states and businesses reversed course on reopenings and hospitals were hit by a surge of patients.
The U.S. accounts for about a quarter of more than 10.6 million coronavirus cases world-wide, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The nation’s death toll climbed above 128,000.
Cases and hospitalizations are rising sharply in a number of areas.
In Texas, 6,533 Covid-19 patients were in hospitals, according to the state’s Department of Health. For most of April and May that number hovered between 1,100 and 1,800. It broke the 2,000 mark on June 8.
New coronavirus cases in the U.S. rose above 50,000, a single-day record, with cases and hospitalizations rising sharply in a number of areas https://t.co/vxOeu4T6u6
— Frank Zorrilla (@ZorTrades) July 2, 2020
The United States is once again at risk of outstripping its COVID-19 testing capacity, an ominous development that would deny the country a crucial tool to understand its pandemic in real time.
The American testing supply chain is stretched to the limit, and the ongoing outbreak in the South and West could overwhelm it, according to epidemiologists and testing-company executives. While the country’s laboratories have added tremendous capacity in the past few months—the U.S. now tests about 550,000 people each day, a fivefold increase from early April—demand for viral tests is again outpacing supply.
If demand continues to accelerate and shortages are not resolved, then turnaround times for test results will rise, tests will effectively be rationed, and the number of infections that are never counted in official statistics will grow. Any plan to contain the virus will depend on fast and accurate testing, which can identify newly infectious people before they set off new outbreaks. Without it, the U.S. is in the dark.
The U.S. is again at risk of outstripping its COVID-19 testing capacity, and delays at testing providers are piling up, @alexismadrigal and @yayitsrob report. “The testing supply chain wasn’t meant for this kind of onslaught of volume,” an expert says. https://t.co/wPQ8qgQo4F
— The Atlantic (@TheAtlantic) July 1, 2020
(The State) South Carolina reports record coronavirus death toll, 1,497 new cases ahead of July 4th weekend
As the Fourth of July holiday weekend approaches, South Carolina reported its deadliest day yet of the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday.
State health officials announced 24 new confirmed deaths, bringing South Carolina’s death toll to 759 since the outbreak began in March.
The state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control also reported 1,497 new cases of COVID-19, the eighth day in a row more than 1,000 new cases have been added. That brings that state’s total to 37,809.
DHEC announced 1,497 new confirmed cases and 6 new probable cases of COVID-19, 24 additional confirmed deaths and 4 new probable deaths. https://t.co/BgJ187Tyoy
— SCDHEC (@scdhec) July 1, 2020
With less than five months until the 2020 elections, Americans are deeply unhappy with the state of the nation. As the United States simultaneously struggles with a pandemic, an economic recession and protests about police violence and racial justice, the share of the public saying they are satisfied with the way things are going in the country has plummeted from 31% in April, during the early weeks of the coronavirus outbreak, to just 12% today.
Anger and fear are widespread. Majorities of Democrats and Republicans say they feel both sentiments when thinking about the country, though these feelings are more prevalent among Democrats. And just 17% of Americans – including 25% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents and 10% of Democrats and Democratic leaners – say they feel proud when thinking about the state of the country.
However, nearly half of adults (46%) say they feel hopeful about the state of the country, although a 53% majority says they are not hopeful.
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
Germany’s two major Christian churches both recorded a large drop in membership last year. This is a trend that has persisted for a long time, though in 2019, for a change, more Catholics left the church than Protestants. Overall,more than 540,000 Christians turned their back on organized religion. Not since the early 1990s have membership numbers fallen so drastically.
Just over half of all people living in Germany — 43.3 million people, to be exact — are still members of either the Protestant or Catholic church. But that’s a decline of about 5 million compared to 10 years ago. Church membership is also falling because the number of church members dying far surpasses the number of baptisms.
— LearningIntheNet (@NetInthe) June 29, 2020
First came the freezes.
Governors last month started to “press pause” on the next phases of their reopenings as Covid-19 cases picked back up. Now, in certain hot spots, they are starting to roll back some of the allowances they’d granted: no more elective medical procedures in some Texas counties. Bars, only reopened for a short time, are shuttered again in parts of California. And on Monday, Arizona’s governor ordered a new wave of gym, bar, and movie theater closures for at least the next month.
These are measured retreats — a far cry from the lockdowns that much of the country burrowed into starting in March. But leaders are desperately hoping that the incremental approach can make a dent in the spread of the virus at a time when another round of lockdowns — and their accompanying disruptions to education, the economy, and the public psyche — seems beyond unpalatable, both politically and socially.
They come as Texas, Florida, and other states are seeing record highs in daily coronavirus infections and intensive care units are teetering toward capacity, further proof that the coronavirus will run loose when given the chance. They also raise a serious question: whether such half-measures are sufficiently intensive — and were put in place in time — to have the necessary impact.
“This is a good step to getting a handle on the epidemic,” said Ana Bento, a disease ecologist at Indiana University. “It still might not be enough.”
— Steven DeMaio (@stevedemaio) July 1, 2020
Have not many of us, in the weary way of life, felt, in some hours, how far easier it were to die than to live?
The martyr, when faced even by a death of bodily anguish and horror, finds in the very terror of his doom a strong stimulant and tonic. There is a vivid excitement, a thrill and fervor, which may carry through any crisis of suffering that is the birth-hour of eternal glory and rest.
But to live,–to wear on, day after day, of mean, bitter, low, harassing servitude, every nerve dampened and depressed, every power of feeling gradually smothered,–this long and wasting heart-martyrdom, this slow, daily bleeding away of the inward life, drop by drop, hour after hour,–this is the true searching test of what there may be in man or woman.
When Tom stood face to face with his persecutor, and heard his threats, and thought in his very soul that his hour was come, his heart swelled bravely in him, and he thought he could bear torture and fire, bear anything, with the vision of Jesus and heaven but just a step beyond; but, when he was gone, and the present excitement passed off, came back the pain of his bruised and weary limbs,–came back the sense of his utterly degraded, hopeless, forlorn estate; and the day passed wearily enough.
Long before his wounds were healed, Legree insisted that he should be put to the regular field-work; and then came day after day of pain and weariness, aggravated by every kind of injustice and indignity that the ill-will of a mean and malicious mind could devise. Whoever, in our circumstances, has made trial of pain, even with all the alleviations which, for us, usually attend it, must know the irritation that comes with it. Tom no longer wondered at the habitual surliness of his associates; nay, he found the placid, sunny temper, which had been the habitude of his life, broken in on, and sorely strained, by the inroads of the same thing. He had flattered himself on leisure to read his Bible; but there was no such thing as leisure there. In the height of the season, Legree did not hesitate to press all his hands through, Sundays and week-days alike. Why shouldn’t he?””he made more cotton by it, and gained his wager; and if it wore out a few more hands, he could buy better ones. At first, Tom used to read a verse or two of his Bible, by the flicker of the fire, after he had returned from his daily toil; but, after the cruel treatment he received, he used to come home so exhausted, that his head swam and his eyes failed when he tried to read; and he was fain to stretch himself down, with the others, in utter exhaustion.
Is it strange that the religious peace and trust, which had upborne him hitherto, should give way to tossings of soul and despondent darkness? The gloomiest problem of this mysterious life was constantly before his eyes, souls crushed and ruined, evil triumphant, and God silent. It was weeks and months that Tom wrestled, in his own soul, in darkness and sorrow. He thought of Miss Ophelia’s letter to his Kentucky friends, and would pray earnestly that God would send him deliverance. And then he would watch, day after day, in the vague hope of seeing somebody sent to redeem him; and, when nobody came, he would crush back to his soul bitter thoughts,that it was vain to serve God, that God had forgotten him. He sometimes saw Cassy; and sometimes, when summoned to the house, caught a glimpse of the dejected form of Emmeline, but held very little communion with either; in fact, there was no time for him to commune with anybody.
–Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Harriet Beecher Stowe was born #OTD 1811. She wrote the widely popular antislavery novel ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin.’ Credited with mobilizing antislavery sentiment in the North, Stowe was praised, honored, and respected among African Americans during her lifetime. pic.twitter.com/Vwrk1bW7zQ
— Oxford Classics (@OWC_Oxford) June 14, 2019
Major League Baseball is working to begin its season in late July, with a plan to play without fans in the stands because of COVID-19. The Fireflies, along with the rest of the minor leagues, have been prevented from playing this year because of the coronavirus.
Katz, the Fireflies president who has worked in professional baseball for nearly three decades, tells Free Times the announcement that Major League Baseball wouldn’t be providing players for the minors, thus putting a nail in the coffin of the 2020 season in Columbia and 159 other cities, was a “gut punch.”
“Personally and professionally, for the 30 people who work here [full-time], it just hurts,” Katz says. “Our planning process never stops. We started planning for 2020 as soon as we closed the books on the last night of 2019.”
— Chris Trainor (@ChrisTrainorSC) June 30, 2020