Category : * Culture-Watch

(CNN Business) Most CEOs are bracing for a Recession

CEO confidence has tumbled to the weakest level since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, The Conference Board said Wednesday.

For the first time during the economic expansion, CEO confidence is now in negative territory.

Worse, business leaders are bracing for a potential downturn caused by the Federal Reserve’s quest to tame inflation.

A staggering 68% of CEOs surveyed by The Conference Board expect the Fed’s war on inflation will eventually trigger a recession. The survey, fielded between April 25 and May 9, measured responses from 133 CEOs of mostly public companies.

The good news is that just 11% of CEOs anticipate a so-called hard landing, marked by a deep recession. The rest expect a “very short, mild” recession.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Psychology

Statement Regarding Buffalo Shooting From Mother Emanuel Ame Church In Charleston S.C.

Read it all:

“To my beloved brothers and sisters in Buffalo, New York. It is with a heavy heart that I pen these words to you, your families, and the surrounding community. As the senior pastor of Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston S.C., we can relate to your hurt, pain, and anger; the congregation of Mother Emanuel was in the same place almost seven years ago.

For the last six years, I have personally watched how God continued to strengthen our community and I know that He will do the same for yours. However, it does not negate the reality of your pain, and the testimony of the empty seat of your loved ones. Please know that as you mourn, we mourn with you, and will be here for you if you need anything. In closing, I leave you with the following words that are found in Psalm 121 verses one and two, “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”

May the God of Heaven continue to strengthen you today, tomorrow, and always. In The Strength of The Lord

-Pastor Eric S C Manning

Posted in * South Carolina, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(Cambridge U) Algae-powered computing: scientists create reliable and renewable biological photovoltaic cell

Researchers have used a widespread species of blue-green algae to power a microprocessor continuously for a year – and counting – using nothing but ambient light and water. Their system has potential as a reliable and renewable way to power small devices.

The system, comparable in size to an AA battery, contains a type of non-toxic algae called Synechocystis that naturally harvests energy from the sun through photosynthesis. The tiny electrical current this generates then interacts with an aluminium electrode and is used to power a microprocessor.

The system is made of common, inexpensive and largely recyclable materials. This means it could easily be replicated hundreds of thousands of times to power large numbers of small devices as part of the Internet of Things. The researchers say it is likely to be most useful in off-grid situations or remote locations, where small amounts of power can be very beneficial.

“The growing Internet of Things needs an increasing amount of power, and we think this will have to come from systems that can generate energy, rather than simply store it like batteries,” said Professor Christopher Howe in the University of Cambridge’s Department of Biochemistry, joint senior author of the paper.

He added: “Our photosynthetic device doesn’t run down the way a battery does because it’s continually using light as the energy source.”

Read it all.

Posted in Science & Technology

Cathedrals can light the way to Net Zero says Bishop Usher

Addressing the National Cathedrals Conference in Newcastle, Graham Usher, who is Bishop of Norwich, said that cathedrals can show the way in making changes for achieving Net Zero carbon across the whole Church by 2030, with a route map due for a vote at General Synod in July.

Cathedrals have an impressive track record within the heritage sector, with Gloucester Cathedral becoming the first Grade 1 listed building to install photovoltaic panels in 2016.

Many others have followed suit with green adaptations including solar panels, replaced light fittings, draft exclusion and in some places re-designed precincts to give greater access to green space and a chance for biodiversity to thrive.

The host venue, Newcastle Cathedral, was praised for the installation of an air source heat pump as part of a major recent renovation.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(NYT) With Plunging Enrollment, a ‘Seismic Hit’ to Public Schools

In New York City, the nation’s largest school district has lost some 50,000 students over the past two years. In Michigan, enrollment remains more than 50,000 below prepandemic levels from big cities to the rural Upper Peninsula.

In the suburbs of Orange County, Calif., where families have moved for generations to be part of the public school system, enrollment slid for the second consecutive year; statewide, more than a quarter-million public school students have dropped from California’s rolls since 2019.

And since school funding is tied to enrollment, cities that have lost many students — including Denver, Albuquerque and Oakland — are now considering combining classrooms, laying off teachers or shutting down entire schools.

All together, America’s public schools have lost at least 1.2 million students since 2020, according to a recently published national survey. State enrollment figures show no sign of a rebound to the previous national levels any time soon.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Children, Education, Health & Medicine

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

(Guardian) Social supermarkets offer choice and self-esteem to hard-up workers

In the crypt of a 283-year-old London church, you would not normally expect to see displays of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and fish next to shelves of tinned food, toilet rolls and nappies, and customers with baskets doing their weekly shop.

But from September, that will be the scene at the City of London’s first social supermarket, which is to open in the vaults of Christ Church Spitalfields, a Nicholas Hawksmoor-designed church close to the financial district. It will replace a food bank set up during the pandemic that has been used by 20 to 70 families a week during the past year.

Small social supermarkets have been springing up across the UK in recent years, some of them having started out as food banks. (At a social supermarket users pay for their groceries, but get a large discount.) They cater for low-income families – in the case of Christ Church these are referred by the local primary school – and pay a membership fee and/or a weekly fee for their shop.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Dieting/Food/Nutrition, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Poverty, Religion & Culture

(Economist) Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is running out of steam, again

Eighty years ago the second Battle of Kharkov was raging in what was then the western Soviet Union. The Red Army had heroically driven the Nazi Wehrmacht back from the gates of Moscow. It gathered in a bulge west of Izyum, a town to the south of Kharkov, as Ukraine’s second city was then known. The subsequent Soviet offensive, launched on May 12th, was a disaster. Soviet armies were driven back and encircled. Over 170,000 Soviet troops were killed. Nikita Khrushchev later focused on the battle when denouncing his predecessor as Soviet leader, Stalin. “This is Stalin’s military ‘genius’,” he sneered, citing the crude tactics of frontal assault. “This is what it cost us.”

The Russian army is once again gathered around Izyum. And once more it is on the retreat from Kharkiv, as the city is now called, after another underwhelming campaign. It has been a month since Russia, having abandoned its assault on Kyiv, launched a fresh offensive in the eastern Donbas region. The idea was to encircle Ukrainian troops in a large salient stretching from Izyum in the north to the city of Donetsk in the south, in part by driving south from Izyum.

There have been minor successes. Russia has taken almost all of Luhansk province—it held only the southern part before the war—bar a salient around the well-defended city of Severodonetsk. It has also pushed south of Izyum, taking villages towards Barvinkove, an important rail junction, and the industrial cities of Slovyansk and Kramatorsk. Yet progress has been achingly slow—one or two kilometres a day—and casualties heavy. The war is now dominated by grinding artillery duels, rather than swift mechanised offensives. Much of Donetsk province is still in Ukrainian hands.

Read it all.

Posted in Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(CL) ‘Beam Me Up’…Pastor? Holographic Technology Allows Pastor To Be in Nine Locations at Once

“This really is, I think, putting me in nine locations at one time or has the potential to do that and make it much more personal than if it was just a video or kind of a flat-screen,” Bazet told Fox 13 News.

The hologram producing device can be operated with an iPad or cell phone and can be used to play pre-recorded videos as well. However, the tech doesn’t come cheap, starting at a hefty price tag of $100,000.

Bazet said, “We’ll do whatever we can to actually reach and impact as many people as we can, and, in this case, try a new technology like this.”

Read it all.

Posted in Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(BBC) East Africa drought: ‘The suffering here has no equal’

Families have become desperate for food and water. Millions of children are malnourished. Livestock, which pastoralist families rely on for food and livelihoods, have died.

The drought stretches far beyond this small Kenyan village and the UN’s World Food Programme says up to 20 million people in East Africa are at risk of severe hunger.

Ethiopia is battling the worst drought in almost half a century and in Somalia 40% of the population are at risk of starvation.

Read it all.

Posted in Africa, Climate Change, Weather, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Poverty

A [London] Times article on the new Christian app “glorify”

Both Beccle and Costa understand, nevertheless, that while A-list investors are incredibly helpful, they remain a means to an end. It is the millions of ordinary people looking for meaning and connection that remain their focus. “Everyone’s looking for connection. But a lot of people are getting that connection from the wrong places,” says Beccle. “Because you can jump on your phone and hop on TikTok or Instagram and suddenly you’ve got that superficial connection you think you need, only not to have it as soon as you put your phone away. And so you feel like you have to pick it back up again.”

Both men say they are surprised by the number of people who do not identify as Christian, but who nevertheless find themselves using the app every day. “Increasingly, people are opening themselves up to exploring this side of themselves,” says Costa. He and Beccle hint that the long-term plans for Glorify are grander and more ambitious than simply being a place where users can have some scripture read to them or send prayers to their friends. “The people who have invested in us saw a really big vision. Something gigantic. And they were willing to back that,” says Costa. “We’re very aware of the scale of what we can do. And this is the exciting bit. There’s a crisis of faith in many countries, and it’s spreading. We are reacting to that crisis and breaking down the barriers to provide more access points for people to be able to connect with God.”

Perhaps it will happen. After all, if you can create a piece of technology that manages to unite the Kardashians and Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in their praise, then who knows what else you can do? Beccle seems excited. Costa seems amazed to be here at all. It feels, he says, like “an answer to prayer”.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Globalization, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

(NYT) Jonathan Malesic–My College Students Are Not OK

In my classes last fall, a third of the students were missing nearly every time, and usually not the same third. Students buried their faces in their laptop screens and let my questions hang in the air unanswered. My classes were small, with nowhere to hide, yet some students openly slept through them.

I was teaching writing at two very different universities: one private and wealthy, its lush lawns surrounded by towering fraternity and sorority houses; the other public, with a diverse array of strivers milling about its largely brutalist campus. The problems in my classrooms, though, were the same. Students just weren’t doing what it takes to learn.

By several measures — attendance, late assignments, quality of in-class discussion — they performed worse than any students I had encountered in two decades of teaching. They didn’t even seem to be trying. At the private school, I required individual meetings to discuss their research paper drafts; only six of 14 showed up. Usually, they all do.

I wondered if it was me, if I was washed up. But when I posted about this on Facebook, more than a dozen friends teaching at institutions across the country gave similar reports. Last month, The Chronicle of Higher Education received comments from more than 100 college instructors about their classes. They, too, reported poor attendance, little discussion, missing homework and failed exams.

Read it all.

Posted in Education, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Young Adults

([London] Times) Loyal labrador saves lost Texas woman with dementia

She strayed from a path and fell into the thicket. The search began the next day and security camera video showed Noppe and her dog on a road on the edge of the woods. The following afternoon the search was suspended because of a storm, though volunteers kept looking for her in the rain.

Noppe’s daughter Courtney said a team of tracking dogs had picked up a scent and a helicopter had been sent to try to spot her. At about 3am on May 6, the party turned off their all-terrain vehicles and heard a fateful bark.

“They just went to him and that’s how they found her,” she said.

Her family said that she was not seriously injured. “That dog has no leash, no collar, and stayed by her side for . . . three days,” her son Justin said. “That just shows you the loyalty that that dog has. He was never going to leave her side.”

Read it all.

Posted in * General Interest, Animals, Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family

(Economist) The war in Ukraine is spurring transatlantic co-operation in technology

A command centre to scan the digital realm for global disinformation campaigns. Standardised plugs for electric cars that will work both in America and in the European Union (eu) and so lower the cost of building the infrastructure needed to decarbonise. A transatlantic team to scout for attempts by China and others to manipulate global technical standards in their favour. These sorts of initiatives sound like common sense, but they are difficult in a world where even allies have competing regulators, vying for technological dominion. Happily, a transatlantic diplomatic undertaking that most people have never heard of is trying to change all that.

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The group in question, called the “Trade and Technology Council” (ttc), will convene in Saclay, a suburb of Paris, on May 15th and 16th. A constellation of grand officials from either side of the Atlantic—including America’s secretary of state, commerce secretary and top trade negotiator, and the eu’s commissioners for trade and competition—will be meeting for the second time. Whereas their first meeting in September in Pittsburgh was mainly meant for participants to get to know each other, the gathering in France will assess progress on their work so far and set goals for the next two years.

It is a momentous task. The ttc is the West’s response to efforts by China and others (notably Russia after its invasion of Ukraine) to build an autocratic digital world and bring the physical supply-chains that underpin it under their control. “The big question is whether democratic governments can develop a meaningful alternative,” explains Marietje Schaake of the Cyber Policy Centre at Stanford University. If America and the eu resolve their differences in tech, other countries are bound to follow their lead: the pair account for 55% of the global market for information technology, whose value is expected to reach a staggering $4.4trn this year, according to Gartner, a consultancy.

Read it all.

Posted in Foreign Relations, Globalization, Russia, Science & Technology, Ukraine

Greg and Beth Snyder are leaving the Anglican diocese of South Carolina to head to the University of Tennessee

The Lord has called me to a new ministry, a ministry which He has been preparing me for nearly 5 years. A ministry in the academy to young scientists and their professors. On April 13, I accepted the position as Lecturer in Geology at the University of Tennessee. Just a week later, on April 20 as you know, the Supreme Court ruling came down and not in our favor. I do not fully understand the Lord’s timing in this, but I must believe that it is good, and true and sure.

And I am encouraged in this by knowing that your Wardens and Vestry are ready and able to lead in the interim and to discern the nature of the next pastoral leadership for St. John’s Parish Church. I have seen the giftedness of this special vestry in recent months and you, the people, are all in very good hands.

My position begins at the University of Tennessee on August 1, so there are about two months or so before Beth and I, and Beth’s Mom, June, make the move to Knoxville. I must add that since the Lord has been growing this new call, both of my daughters have returned to Knoxville, and, as you all know, my granddaughter Ellie was born there. I had no idea of this 5 years ago, just as you all have no idea of the great blessing that will be poured out on you in the months and years ahead. “All will be well. All manner of things will be well.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Children, Education, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

C of E national funding to increase 30% to support and develop ministry especially with young people and disadvantaged communities

The Church of England today announced plans for a significant increase in funding for the next three years to support God’s mission and ministry across the country, supporting local parishes and growing many more new worshipping communities to serve the whole nation.

The Church of England today announced plans for a significant increase in funding for the next three years to support God’s mission and ministry across the country, supporting local parishes and growing many more new worshipping communities to serve the whole nation.

The Church Commissioners for England intend to distribute £1.2 billion between 2023 and 2025, up 30% from £930 million in the current three-year period, and plan to maintain this level of funding in the subsequent six years.

In total, this would mean the Church Commissioners plan to distribute £3.6 billion to frontline work of the Church of England between 2023 and 2031, making the Church Commissioners and Archbishops’ Council among the largest grant givers in the country.

The Church Commissioners’ distributions will account for approximately 20% of Church funding, whilst the biggest contribution comes from the faithful and generous giving of churchgoers across the country.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

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

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

Posted in Animals, Anthropology, Science & Technology, Theology

(Washington Post front page) Oil Sales Remain Russia’s Lifeline

Despite the European Union’s drastic measures to wind down imports of Russian oil, Moscow still has plenty of buyers — and at prices steep enough to keep government revenue high and its coffers flush.

Before the war with Ukraine, Russia sold about half of its 7.85 million barrels a day of crude and refined oil to Europe. But with the war and the E.U.’s vow to abruptly end its reliance on Russian oil and gas, the Kremlin has been benefiting from high world prices while looking for new customers and reorienting its export strategy toward Asia.

The windfall shows how hard it is to punish a major oil and gas power such as Russia when so much of the world — especially developing countries — depends on fossil fuels.

Even with “severe oil production cuts” expected this year, Russia’s tax revenue “will increase significantly to more than $180 billion due to the spike in oil prices,” according to Rystad Energy, an independent research firm advising investors. The figure is 45 percent higher than in 2021.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(NYT front page) Overdose Deaths Continue Rising, With Fentanyl and Meth Key Culprits

After a catastrophic increase in 2020, deaths from drug overdoses rose again to record-breaking levels in 2021, nearing 108,000, the result of an ever-worsening fentanyl crisis, according to preliminary new data published on Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The increase of nearly 15 percent followed a much steeper rise of almost 30 percent in 2020, an unrelenting crisis that has consumed federal and state drug policy officials. Since the 1970s, the number of drug overdose deaths has increased every year except 2018.

A growing share of deaths continue to come from overdoses involving fentanyl, a class of potent synthetic opioids that are often mixed with other drugs, and methamphetamine, a synthetic stimulant. State health officials battling an influx of both drugs said many of the deaths appeared to be the result of combining the two.

Drug overdoses, which long ago surged above the country’s peak deaths from AIDS, car crashes and guns, killed about a quarter as many Americans last year as Covid-19.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine

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

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

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

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

For Against
Laity 63 47
Clergy 70 39
Bishops 10 12

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

Following a request from Raffel we adjourned early for lunch.

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

Read it all.

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

(Prospect) Martyn Percy: Why I’m leaving the Church of England

The Church of England badly needs an independent regulatory body to oversee its safeguarding and begin to address the culture of bullying and harassment afflicting many clergy. Some congregations might also be grateful for basic human resources expertise being available to parish churches. The need for an impartial regulator is obvious when one realises that a nervous, declining church, losing its way, quickly collapses into being a members-only club, in which deference to episcopal authority and loyalty to patronage are the only ways to get on.

Such a regulator could firmly bind the CoE to the principles that govern other areas of public life, with authority to call the leadership to account. Good models exist in other professions—the General Medical Council and the Solicitors Regulation Authority, to name but two. The Church must find a way to divorce itself from the political, weaponised, amateur and contorted behaviour that causes people to become ill, self-harm and even commit suicide over these allegations.

Currently, the CoE properly serves few of those with a stake in the safeguarding process. Respondents and claimants alike have been known to cite the conduct of bishops and diocesan safeguarding advisers (DSAs) as further sources of abuse and trauma. Significant numbers of DSAs seem not to know what NST policies consist of (they are, in any case, notoriously fudgy). Core groups, which try to determine the facts of an allegation and the risk that the accused may pose, are also a problem. Most members lack basic legal training or relevant expertise. In fact, they lack adequate training full stop. The minutes of a core group meeting, making life-changing or employment-ending decisions, are sometimes forgotten or entirely mislaid. Where minutes might exist, both respondents and claimants are frequently denied access. If they eventually get to see them, there is no mechanism for challenging or correcting them.

Neither respondent nor claimant has a right to representation at a CoE core group and there is no obvious mechanism for fact checking. Intense and unbounded pastoral gossip sessions ought to have proper checks and balances. There is nothing to stop the train of thought hurtling along, driven by catastrophising and a desire to manage reputational risk. These trains have no braking mechanism, as Father Alan Griffin found to his cost.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(BBC) Sri Lanka protests: Leaders under pressure as anger at economic crisis boils over

Security forces are out in force across Sri Lanka with orders to shoot looters on sight amid continuing protests at the government’s handling of a devastating economic crisis.

Despite a nationwide curfew, there was a second night of arson attacks.

Shops near Colombo were torched, as well as a resort owned by the son of ex-Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The ex-PM is holed up in a naval base after resigning when public fury erupted over fuel and food shortages.

At least nine people have been killed and about 200 injured in unrest since Monday.

Read it all.

Posted in Politics in General, Sri Lanka, Violence

(NPR) Firearm-related homicide rate skyrockets amid stresses of the pandemic, the CDC says

The rate at which Americans were killed in gun homicides leapt by nearly 35% in 2020 to the highest level in more than 25 years, according to new research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Amid the pandemic and recession that followed, gun homicide rates grew most among groups that were already at higher risk, researchers found — including people in poor areas, young men, and Black people.

In 2020, the firearm homicide rate was 6.1 per 100,000 Americans — up from 4.6 a year earlier.

“These findings underscore the importance of comprehensive approaches that can stop violence now and prevent future deaths,” said Dr. Debra Houry, the acting principal deputy director of the CDC.

Read it all.

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

C of E to provide up to £3 million to boost diocesan discretionary funds in face of rising cost of living

Decisions about the distribution of grants will be made at diocesan level but it is expected that people from the following groups will be eligible to apply:

–Stipendiary clergy, including curates
–Self-supporting ministers with a provided house (‘House-for-Duty’)
–Salaried lay workers employed by the diocese or parishes such as youth and children’s workers
–Retired clergy carrying out a specific role in support of Diocesan ministry as agreed by or at the request of a Bishop or Archdeacon

A Church of England report published last year backed targeted support for clergy facing financial challenges such as those with larger families or with no additional household income other than the stipend.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Church of England (CoE), Economy, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance & Investing, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Guardian) God’s own gardens: why churchyards are some of our wildest nature sites

They are in nearly every village, town and city across the UK, thousands of church buildings peppering the landscape. But while many may no longer be in regular use, the churchyards surrounding them – quiet, peaceful and often ancient – amount to what Olivia Graham, the bishop of Reading, equates to “a small national park”. The land beyond the church gate is some of the most biodiverse in the UK because it has largely stayed untouched.

“A churchyard is a little snapshot of how the countryside used to be,” says Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Pippa Rayner, who is working on Wilder Churches, a new initiative with the diocese of Bath and Wells “to enhance churchyard biodiversity across the county”.

“Very often in a highly industrialised rural landscape, the fields around villages may be covered in agricultural chemicals. You often find that the churchyard is the one place in the area where they haven’t been using chemicals,” says Rayner. “The fact that they generally have been managed differently to the rest of the countryside, and they have been looked after in a different way, has enabled species to still be there,” she adds.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Parish Ministry

After 800 years, Church of England apologizes to Jews for laws that led to expulsion

The Church of England on Sunday apologized for anti-Jewish laws that were passed 800 years ago and eventually led to the expulsion of Jews from the kingdom for hundreds of years.

A special service held at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford was attended by Britain’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and representatives of Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby to mark the Synod of Oxford, passed in 1222.

The synod forbade social interactions between Jews and Christians, placed a specific tithe on Jews, and required them to wear an identifying badge. They were also banned from some professions and from building new synagogues. The decrees were followed by more anti-Jewish laws, and eventually the mass expulsion of England’s 3,000 Jews of the time in 1290.

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Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Inter-Faith Relations, Judaism, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture

(FT) ‘We are now living in a totally new era’ — Henry Kissinger

We are now [faced with] with technologies where the rapidity of exchange, the subtlety of the inventions, can produce levels of catastrophe that were not even imaginable. And the strange aspect of the present situation is that the weapons are multiplying on both sides and their sophistication is increasing every year. But there’s almost no discussion internationally about what would happen if the weapons actually became used.

My appeal in general, on whatever side you are, is to understand that we are now living in a totally new era, and we have gotten away with neglecting that aspect. But as technology spreads around the world, as it does inherently, diplomacy and war will need a different content and that will be a challenge.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, History, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Science & Technology, Uncategorized