Category : * Culture-Watch

(FA) Richard Haass–The Dangerous Decade: A Foreign Policy for a World in Crisis

There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen.” Those words are apocryphally attributed to the Bolshevik revolutionary (and Foreign Affairs reader) Vladimir Lenin, referring to the rapid collapse of tsarist Russia just over 100 years ago. If he had actually said those words, Lenin might have added that there are also decades when centuries happen.

The world is in the midst of one such decade. As with other historical hinges, the danger today stems from a sharp decline in world order. But more than at any other recent moment, that decline threatens to become especially steep, owing to a confluence of old and new threats that have begun to intersect at a moment the United States is ill positioned to contend with them.

On the one hand, the world is witnessing the revival of some of the worst aspects of traditional geopolitics: great-power competition, imperial ambitions, fights over resources. Today, Russia is headed by a tyrant, President Vladimir Putin, who longs to re-create a Russian sphere of influence and perhaps even a Russian empire. Putin is willing to do almost anything to achieve that goal, and he is able to act as he pleases because internal constraints on his regime have mostly disappeared. Meanwhile, under President Xi Jinping, China has embarked on a quest for regional and potentially global primacy, putting itself on a trajectory that will lead to increased competition or even confrontation with the United States.

But that is not all—not by a long shot. These geopolitical risks are colliding with complex new challenges central to the contemporary era, such as climate change, pandemics, and nuclear proliferation. And not surprisingly, the diplomatic fallout from growing rivalries has made it nearly impossible for great powers to work together on regional and international challenges, even when it is in their interest to do so.

Further complicating the picture is the reality that American democracy and political cohesion are at risk to a degree not seen since the middle of the nineteenth century. This matters because the United States is not just one country among many: U.S. leadership has underpinned what order there has been in the world for the past 75 years and remains no less central today. A United States riven internally, however, will become ever less willing and able to lead on the international stage.

Read it all.

Posted in Foreign Relations, Globalization, Politics in General

(NYT) Hilary Mantel, Prize-Winning Author of Historical Fiction, Dies at 70

But it was a long and arduous road to reach those heights, beginning with a tough childhood. “I was unsuited to being a child,” Ms. Mantel wrote in a 2003 memoir, “Giving Up the Ghost.” She endured numerous health problems, leading one doctor to call her “Little Miss Neverwell.” The doctor was the first of many to fail to properly treat her.

Her illnesses later proved so debilitating that she could not hold down regular jobs, steering her to writing. But even then it was a writer’s life of fits and starts. Mainstream success did not come to her until she was well into her 50s….

In her 20s, Ms. Mantel was diagnosed with endometriosis, a condition in which tissue similar to that lining the womb grows elsewhere. Around that time, a doctor ordered her to stop writing. Her response, described in her memoir, was typically forthright: “I said to myself, ‘If I think of another story, I will write it.’”

At 27, having had the endometriosis diagnosis confirmed, she had surgery to remove her uterus and ovaries, although that did not stop the pain. The complications from her illness made a normal day job impossible, she said.

“It narrowed my options in life,” she said, “and it narrowed them to writing.”

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, History, Poetry & Literature

(Guardian) Divine comedy: the standup double act who turned to the priesthood

Josh arrived at Oxford in 2012 to study history, Jack in 2013 for English. Once there, Jack devoted himself to comedy. The first time Josh saw him on stage, he couldn’t get over Jack’s brilliance. After the show, he went over and said: “You should do a sequel of that, but with me in it, too.” Jack was quick and witty. But he was also more honest than other people Josh had met at university. No one else talked about how punishing it was. Likewise, Jack admired how straightforwardly, unapologetically himself Josh seemed. In each other they both discovered qualities they could not see were also in themselves: someone grounded and earnest, who reminded them of home.

Jack is taller, more angular than Josh. The first time Josh saw a Rembrandt self-portrait, he thought: at last, people who look like me getting some representation in art. He has soft features, a stooped posture and droopy eyes that suggest a melancholic disposition. This impression falls away as soon as he speaks. When together, Josh is the more animated of the pair. At any hint of a joke from Jack (and when I interviewed them as a pair, there were many of these – I, the waiter, any passers-by becoming audience while they tried out accents and characters), he throws his head back and slaps his knees appreciatively. Jack is more sensitive and self-critical. He sometimes disappears into himself without warning. We spoke every few months between 2021 and 2022. The deepening of his commitment to Christianity during this period meant that on each occasion we talked, the version of himself from our last meeting had already become an object of some disdain.

There are two distinct routes to faith among those who don’t grow up Christian. The first is person-led. One priest I spoke to followed a girl he fancied into a church. He walked in an atheist and came out a believer. The process isn’t always so quick, of course. One devout Christian, named Chris, told me that it had started on his gap year when he met a Pentecostal Christian in Huddersfield. Every day the two spoke about faith. At the end of the year, Chris went to visit his new friend’s church. There the friend spoke to him through the Holy Spirit. In that heightened state, he told Chris truths about himself no one else knew. After that, Chris could think of no further reason not to become a Christian.

Others arrive at church after trauma.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Humor / Trivia, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theatre/Drama/Plays

(R U) Terry Mattingly–The Last Rites For Elizabeth II

“Queen Elizabeth was one of those people in this mortal life who always thought ahead,” said David Lyle Jeffrey, distinguished senior fellow at the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University. When preparing these rites, the queen was “clearly looking for prayers, Scriptures and hymns that made connections she wanted to make for her family, her people and the world. … I think she succeeded brilliantly.”

An Anglican from Canada, Jeffrey said the events closing the queen’s historic 70-year reign were an appropriate time to explore the “essence of her admirable Christian character.” Thus, the retired literature professor wrote a poem after her death — “Regina Exemplaris (An exemplary queen)” — saluting her steady, consistent faith. It ended with these lines:

She who longest wore the heavy crown

Knew but to kneel before the unseen throne

And plead her people’s cause as for her own,

And there to praise the Lord of All, bowed down,

More conscious of his glory than her high acclaim,

Exemplar thus in worship, in praise more worthy of the Name.

After the “Kontakion of the Departed,” Bishop David Conner, the dean of St. George’s Chapel, noted the importance of this sanctuary to Queen Elizabeth. She had worshipped in the Windsor Castle chapel as a girl, sometimes singing in the choir and taking piano lessons with organist Sir William Henry Harris. The queen included some of his music in the committal service.

“We are bound to call to mind,” said Conner, “someone whose uncomplicated, yet profound Christian faith bore so much fruit … in a life of unstinting service to the nation, the Commonwealth and the wider world, but also, and especially to be remembered in this place, in kindness, concern and reassuring care for her family, friends and neighbors.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Poetry & Literature, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Gallup) U.S. Public Opinion and the Election: the Economy

The importance of the economy in the upcoming election is underscored by measures showing how poorly Americans rate economic conditions today. Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index is at one of its lowest points over the past 30 years (although not as low as in 2008). About eight in 10 Americans rate the economy as “only fair” or “poor,” and over two-thirds say the economy is getting worse, not better.

Americans’ low confidence in the economy persists despite the fact that about seven in 10 U.S. adults say it is a good time to find a quality job, among the highest such readings across Gallup’s history of asking this question.

That seeming contradiction — inflation and the economy as major concerns at a time when employment is recognized as being robust — highlights one of the difficulties in assessing what the public wants to be done about the economy. I will have more on that below.

Surveys show that Americans are personally feeling the negative effects of inflation, highlighting its potency as an issue this fall. My colleague Jeff Jones recently summarized Gallup data on the personal impact of inflation, noting that “a majority of Americans now say they are experiencing financial hardship from higher prices.” Jeff goes on to review a variety of actions the public is having to take in efforts to deal with the issue, including cutting back on spending and reducing travel.

An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll conducted earlier this month similarly shows that twice as many Americans say their personal finances have gotten worse over the past year as say they have gotten better. And over seven in 10 report they “have had to cut back on, at least, one necessity or nicety in the past six months to meet their monthly expenses.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Psychology, Sociology

(Telegraph) Ambrose Evans-Pritchard–Are Overzealous central banks making another horrible mistake, so (we should) batten down the hatches?

The world can kiss goodbye to an economic soft landing. Western central banks are on a misguided mission to restore their damaged credibility, tightening monetary policy violently after the post-pandemic recovery has already wilted and output is nearing contractionary levels.

Britain’s fiscal blitz has the luck of timing. It is a counter-cyclical stimulus, cushioning some of the blow, even if it risks rattling bond vigilantes, and even if it is wasteful in subsidies for the affluent.

Critics say the energy bailout will cap inflation in the short run but stoke more inflation in the long run, to which one can only reply, like Keynes, that in the long run we are all dead. World events are going to wash over such quibbling with a torrential deflationary force.

The central banks are pushing through with triple-barrelled rate rises after the inflation fever has broken; after the commodity boom has deflated; and after key monetary indicators on both sides of the Atlantic have turned negative. They are prisoners of lagging indicators.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, England / UK, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Federal Reserve, Globalization, The Banking System/Sector

(NYT front page) ‘They Are Watching’: Inside Russia’s Vast Surveillance State

Four days into the war in Ukraine, Russia’s expansive surveillance and censorship apparatus was already hard at work.

Roughly 800 miles east of Moscow, authorities in the Republic of Bashkortostan, one of Russia’s 85 regions, were busy tabulating the mood of comments in social media messages. They marked down YouTube posts that they said criticized the Russian government. They noted the reaction to a local protest.

Then they compiled their findings. One report about the “destabilization of Russian society” pointed to an editorial from a news site deemed “oppositional” to the government that said President Vladimir V. Putin was pursuing his own self-interest by invading Ukraine. A dossier elsewhere on file detailed who owned the site and where they lived.

Another Feb. 28 dispatch, titled “Presence of Protest Moods,” warned that some had expressed support for demonstrators and “spoke about the need to stop the war.”

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Science & Technology, Ukraine

(The Big Issue) Child poverty in the UK: the definitions, causes and consequences in the cost of living crisis

Child poverty in the UK is reaching worrying levels. Paltry wages, low benefit payments and a cost of living crisis mean the UK’s poorest families are getting poorer.

Analysis from the Resolution Foundation has projected that a further 500,000 children will fall into poverty by April 2023.

Children’s charities, schools and food aid organisations are working tirelessly to plug the gaps created by the welfare system. Food banks are now being set up in schools so children have enough to eat.

Children are perhaps the most vulnerable group in any society, and often first to feel the effects of rising poverty across society. Here are the basics on what child poverty is, what causes it and the impact it has.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, England / UK, Poverty

(Washington Post) Nicholas Eberstadt–What’s behind the flight from work in post-pandemic America

Since the start of the 21st century, per capita growth dropped to less than half its previous 1950-2000 tempo. With the rate creaking along now at just over 1 percent per annum, incomes would take more than 60 years to double; from 1980-1999, the doubling pace was 31 years.

A significant factor in modern America’s slower growth — and the lower expectations it unforgivingly imposes — is the drop-off in work. The country is aging, of course, but population graying does not explain the collapse of employment for men of the 25-54 prime working age (women’s labor force participation rates have been declining too, but not as steeply). Nor can it account for the anomalous emergence of a peacetime labor shortage in post-pandemic America, even as workforce participation rates remain stuck well below pre-pandemic levels.

Instead, these are manifestations of a troubling, once unfamiliar but now increasingly entrenched syndrome. Call it the “flight from work.”

Although the unemployment rate for prime-age men in August was a mere 3 percent, only 86 percent reported any paid labor. The remaining 11 percent were labor-force dropouts — neither working nor looking for work. These “not in labor force” men, who now outnumber the formally unemployed by more than 4 to 1, are the main reason that the country’s prime male work rate has been driven below its 1940 level — when national unemployment rates were nearly 15 percent.

Astonishingly, yes, the United States has a Depression-scale work problem.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(FA) Nicholas Eberstadt and Evan Abramsky–America’s Education Crisis Is a National Security Threat

The erosion of the United States’ educational edge will eventually weaken the country’s global reach. With a less highly educated workforce than it could or should have, the United States will have less economic, political, and military heft with which to defend its interests and uphold the economic and security architecture that has defined the postwar order. Eventually, Pax Americana will come under pressure. It is not hard to imagine a progressively less peaceable and more economically insecure international environment in which the United States has much less influence as a result of its stagnating pool of high-skilled labor.

Fortunately, the United States still has good options for coping with loss of educational hegemony. But they all require Washington to take initiative—something it seems unaccustomed to lately. Through more active and imaginative diplomacy, the United States could seek to forge new coalitions or alliances that would add human resource ballast to the liberal order. This might entail patient cultivation of new security partnerships with some of tomorrow’s major centers of highly educated labor: India, Indonesia, Vietnam—maybe even Iran. Other intriguing possibilities include a closer integration of Canada, Mexico, and the United States, which might bring North America’s strategic potential more in line with its tremendous demographic and economic potential.

Meanwhile, the United States could attempt to reverse its ominous educational slowdown. Stagnation in educational attainment is impeding economic growth and likely robbing the United States of trillions of dollars in output each year—a price that will only rise if the United States doesn’t shift course. Part of the problem is that Americans do not want to buy a lot of what U.S. educators want to sell, and it is hard to blame them. The quality of public primary and secondary schooling is woefully uneven, and a high school diploma does not always come with marketable skills. Higher education is increasingly bureaucratized, ideological, and expensive. If Americans treated education as if their future depended on it, they would look for far-reaching overhauls, not marginal changes, and they would look beyond teachers’ unions and university administrators for better ideas. Revitalizing the country’s human resources—not just educational attainment, but health, workforce participation, and even family—will increasingly be strategic imperatives for the United States.

The coming demographic and educational changes are predictable. But they are not entirely inevitable, and they are unfolding slowly. The United States has time to adapt and address its educational shortcomings before it is too late. To avoid squandering its educational edge and putting its position of global primacy at risk, however, Washington must acknowledge that education is no longer just a domestic policy issue but a national security issue on which the very future of the United States depends.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Education, Foreign Relations, Globalization

(R U) Giorgia Meloni’s Politics And Faith: Meet The Woman Who Could Be Italy’s Next Leader

Pope Francis has been openly anti-populist, but the Italian people seem open to it now that the situation has gotten more dire economically as a result of COVID-19, rising inflation and an energy crisis triggered by Russia’s attack on Ukraine. The pope has been good about staying away from the morass of Italian politics, leaving it to the Italian bishops to exert influence.

As Vatican observer John Allen Jr. wrote in a recent Crux column: “Italian Catholics also have a commendable capacity to live with contradiction, reflecting a healthy sense of the complexities of things. Small case in point: I recently went to a local pharmacy for a Covid test, and I noticed a poor box to support the hospital founded by Padre Pio atop a shelf. Upon further inspection, it was the same shelf that offered the pharmacy’s collection of jumbo-sized boxes of condoms.”

Meloni is an embodiment of such contradictions. For example, she supports family values and other Catholic doctrines, but has a daughter, named Ginevra, with her boyfriend Andrea Giambruno, a journalist.

Allen said Italy is a place where “the sacred and the secular have been forced by bitter experience to work out a modus vivendi, for the most part respecting the legitimacy and autonomy of the other.”

Despite all these contradictions, Meloni is poised to be prime minister. Her campaign slogan may be “Ready” — but it remains to be seen if she, the majority of her countrymen and the world are ready to see her lead Italy.

Read it all.

Posted in Europe, Italy, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(TLC Covenant) Rowan Williams–Queen Elizabeth’s Anglican Faithfulness

[Archbp Geoffrey Fisher’s book of prayers and meditations]…were the foundations for her thinking about her calling. And they helped her make what must have been a difficult discernment in her later years. As British society grew both more religiously plural and more secular, she responded not by watering down what she had to say in her annual Christmas broadcasts but by gently increasing the references to her faith and to the role of religious faith in general.

Reading through these Christmas texts, it is striking that, as her society ceased to take for granted the frame of reference that was hers, she recognized that part of her task was to remind us of it. Never triumphalist, never aggressive, she simply reiterated her own commitment, her acknowledgment of God’s grace, and her insistence on the need to remember what the Christmas festival was actually about.

Contrary to what some over-anxious and over-apologetic observers might have feared, this did not offend or alienate the faithful of other communities. It reassured them that the monarch understood how and why faith mattered. And that was partly because she was increasingly willing to take part in interfaith events (and was indeed criticized by some Christian rigorists for doing so). This might be at large public events like Commonwealth Day services.

But my strongest memory is of an event at Lambeth Palace, late in my time as archbishop, when we had organized a small exhibition of treasures from different faith traditions and invited the queen to come and view this, to meet a number of religious leaders, and to address the group. What she said in her address was a powerful statement of a genuinely theological rationale for the Church of England’s role in a religiously plural society.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(NYT front page) Health Panel Recommends Anxiety Screening for All Adults Under 65

A panel of medical experts on Tuesday recommended for the first time that doctors screen all adult patients under 65 for anxiety, guidance that highlights the extraordinary stress levels that have plagued the United States since the start of the pandemic.

The advisory group, called the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, said the guidance was intended to help prevent mental health disorders from going undetected and untreated for years or even decades. It made a similar recommendation for children and teenagers earlier this year.
The panel, appointed by an arm of the federal Department of Health and Human Services, has been preparing the guidance since before the pandemic. The recommendations come at a time of “critical need,” said Lori Pbert, a clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, who serves on the task force. Americans have been reporting outsize anxiety levels in response to a confluence of stressors, including inflation and crime rates, fear of illness and loss of loved ones from Covid-19.

“It’s a crisis in this country,” Dr. Pbert said. “Our only hope is that our recommendations throw a spotlight on the need to create greater access to mental health care — and urgently.”

Read it all.

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

(FT top) Vladimir Putin mobilises army reserves to support Ukraine invasion

Vladimir Putin said Russia’s armed forces would call up its reserves immediately to support its invasion of Ukraine and indicated Moscow would probably annex large swaths of the country’s territory.

In an address to his nation that significantly raised the stakes in the war, the Russian president announced “partial mobilisation” ahead of heavily stage-managed votes in four occupied regions of Ukraine to join Russia.

Moscow did not give an official figure for the newly mobilised troops but it is estimated they will significantly bolster the number of Russian forces on the ground in Ukraine, which western officials have in the past estimated to stand at between 150,000 and 190,000.

More than six months since Putin first sent troops into Ukraine in late February, he defined the war as an existential struggle for Russia’s survival against what he described as a hostile west.

Read it all.

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

(Telegraph) Marcus Walker–The Church of England is clearly in rude health. It must recognise its strengths

The interplay of the national and the local and the strength that the Church of England still has in its atrophying muscles should be a cause of serious hope to those leading the national church. But, as Christ says, “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” so if we’re going to build on these strengths, we need to make a conscious decision to invest in them.

The local is our strength. Churches at the centre of their communities, priests at the centre of their churches – with the time to devote to their communities. The CofE knows this – three reports have been commissioned into why some churches grow and some shrink and all three came back with the same answer.

As one, From Anecdote to Evidence put it: “The findings show that single church units under one leader are more likely to grow than when churches are grouped together…There is a strong negative trend between the more churches amalgamated together and the likelihood of decline.”

Communities across the country are concerned that the old model of Anglican Christianity is slowly dying – and often for paltry sums of money, unable to be raised at a local level but easily available at a national level where the Church of England sits on £10 billion of assets. Where your treasure is, there will you heart be also: let’s put our money in our parishes, for that is where the real beating heart of the CofE is found. (And let’s celebrate the fact that we no longer have a recruitment crisis – we are now ordaining more new priests than we have clergy retiring or quitting early.)

Read it all (subscription or registration).

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

(BBC Sounds) A Discussion looking back on the Queen’s funeral especially focusing on the faith issues involved

Herewith the BBC blurb about the show:

Exploring the faith behind the pomp and pageantry of the Queen’s funeral.

Millions will have watched the historic funeral service from Westminster Abbey and the Committal at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was laid to rest. For some, the services will be full of meaning and resonance. Others will be less familiar with the Christian rituals that have evolved over centuries.

Ernie Rea is joined by writer and journalist Catherine Pepinster, Professor Douglas Davies, Rev Dr Giles Fraser and Andrew Carwood MBE (Director of Music, St Paul’s Cathedral) to discuss and illuminate the meaning, symbolism and significance of the Queen’s state funeral.

Listen to it all (28 minutes).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Ministry of the Ordained, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture

(NYT front page) With Sadness and Uncertainty, Britons Close an Elizabethan Age

Queen Elizabeth II was laid to rest on Monday after a majestic state funeral that drew tens of millions of Britons together in a vast expression of grief and gratitude, as they bade farewell to a sovereign whose seven-decade reign had spanned their lives and defined their times.

It was the culmination of 10 days of mourning since the queen died on Sept. 8 in Scotland — a highly choreographed series of rituals that fell amid a deepening economic crisis and a fraught political transition in Britain — and yet everything about the day seemed destined to be etched into history.

Tens of thousands of people lined the route of the cortege past the landmarks of London. In Hyde Park, people watching the service on large screens joined in “The Lord’s Prayer” when it was recited at Westminster Abbey. Thousands more cheered, many strewing flowers in the path of her glass-topped hearse, as the queen’s coffin was driven to Windsor Castle, where she was buried next to her husband, Prince Philip.

“In this changing world, she was a pillar of the old world,” said Richard Roe, 36, who works in finance in Zurich and flew home for the funeral. “It’s nice to have something that’s stable and stands for good values.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, History, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Sermon for The State Funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Come Holy Spirit, fill us with the balm of your healing love. Amen.

The pattern for many leaders is to be exalted in life and forgotten after death. The pattern for all who serve God – famous or obscure, respected or ignored – is that death is the door to glory.

Her Late Majesty famously declared on a 21st birthday broadcast that her whole life would be dedicated to serving the Nation and Commonwealth.

Rarely has such a promise been so well kept! Few leaders receive the outpouring of love that we have seen.

Jesus – who in our reading does not tell his disciples how to follow, but who to follow – said: “I am the way, the truth and the life”. Her Late Majesty’s example was not set through her position or her ambition, but through whom she followed. I know His Majesty shares the same faith and hope in Jesus Christ as his mother; the same sense of service and duty.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture

(NBC) A Terrific Piece about Two Women in the Airline Industry who found out they were Sisters

Posted in * General Interest, Children, Marriage & Family, Travel

(Bloomberg) Atlanta Hospital Closes in the Midst of Poverty and Politics

The Atlanta Medical Center sits on a vast stretch of urban land, just one mile south of Ponce de Leon Avenue — the street that segregationists over a century ago designated as the dividing line between Black and White Atlanta.

That distinction was palpable on Thursday, when a group of Georgia religious leaders held a press conference outside the hospital, calling on Governor Brian Kemp to meet with them, and find a way to stop the planned closure of the 120-year-old medical center, along with others like it in the state.

“Let’s be honest, this is about devaluing Black and Brown and poor people,” said Reverend Shanan Jones, president of Concerned Black Clergy of Atlanta. “Their lives are expendable. Their lives don’t matter.”

Read it all (registration or subscription).

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Pastoral Theology, Poverty, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

King Charles III’s remarks to Faith Leaders Today

I have always thought of Britain as a ‘community of communities.’ That has led me to understand that the Sovereign has an additional duty – less formally recognized but to be no less diligently discharged. It is the duty to protect the diversity of our country, including by protecting the space for Faith itself and its practise through the religions, cultures, traditions and beliefs to which our hearts and minds direct us as individuals. This diversity is not just enshrined in the laws of our country, it is enjoined by my own faith. As a member of the Church of England, my Christian beliefs have love at their very heart. By my most profound convictions, therefore – as well as by my position as Sovereign – I hold myself bound to respect those who follow other spiritual paths, as well as those who seek to live their lives in accordance with secular ideals.

The beliefs that flourish in, and contribute to, our richly diverse society differ. They, and our society, can only thrive through a clear collective commitment to those vital principles of freedom of conscience, generosity of spirit and care for others which are, to me, the essence of our nationhood. I am determined, as King, to preserve and promote those principles across all communities, and for all beliefs, with all my heart.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) Queen’s visits to Aberfan were an example of ‘soft power’, says Archbishop of Wales

The Queen’s repeated visits to the small Welsh mining town of Aberfan, after a disaster which killed 116 children and 28 adults, were an example of her “soft power”, which shaped the UK and its relations with the world, the Archbishop of Wales, the Most Revd Andrew John, said on Friday.

The tragedy, in 1966, when a colliery spoil tip collapsed engulfing a primary school, led to four visits to the town from the Queen — the last in 2012, to open a new school. Archbishop John said that the people of Aberfan found her “deeply consoling”.

“In her role as head of the Commonwealth,” he said, “she presided over a growing fellowship of nations, and she embraced our diverse histories, cultures, and languages, delighting in the sheer variety of this unique assembly. At times, when countries threatened to forsake each other, she displayed the skilful use of that ‘soft power’ . . . that way of exercising power that has depth and reach.

“In Wales, that skill was never more evident than when she visited Aberfan, in 1966. The community of Aberfan found her presence deeply consoling, and Her Majesty would return four more times to this community.”

Read it all (registration or subscription).

Posted in Church of Wales, England / UK, Religion & Culture

(Pzephizo) Peter Wyatt reviews Louise Perry’s ‘The Case Against the Sexual Revolution’

According to Philip Larkin, ‘sexual intercourse began in nineteen sixty-three’. Until today, this sexual revolution, brought about by more effective forms of contraception, has been hailed as an emancipation of human beings. No longer were we subject to the restraints of traditional morality as policed by religious faith, and family mores. Instead, they could act according to our desires, to find pleasure and happiness in any way they saw fit. Why should society have any opinion on what happened between the sheets, as Stephen Fry once said?

In her provocative new book, The Case Against the Sexual RevolutionLouise Perry argues that the picture is far from rosy. Instead of liberation, society has created new forms of oppression: rough sex, hook-up culture, and pornography to name a few. She argues that in all of these women have been the losers. In her view, the much-touted concept of “consent” as the answer to everything has failed and we have arrived at a situation that benefits a minority of men, at the expense of women. 

Her book is fearless in attacking the current orthodoxy, using her own experience as a campaigner in a rape crisis charity, along with extensive research, and she ends the book by quoting the radical feminist Andrea Dworkin (to paraphrase), that it is a lie to equate sexual freedom with freedom. Instead, she offers one piece of advice, ‘get married and stay married’. That is an incredible statement from a secular author! 

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Men, Pornography, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Women

(Spectator) [Former Bishop of London] Richard Chartres–The Queen’s life was anchored by Christianity

She was always reticent about her personal opinions about people and policies. She was reluctant even to divulge whether she had a favourite hymn, knowing that she would be condemned ever afterwards to hear it on every occasion.

During the Diamond Jubilee in 2012, in a speech at Lambeth Palace the Queen was explicit about her own view of the role of the Church of England in a multicultural country. ‘The concept of our established church is occasionally misunderstood and I believe commonly underappreciated. Its role is not to defend Anglicanism to the exclusion of other religions. Instead, the church has a duty to protect the free practice of all faiths in this country.’

The Queen believed that the ‘Defender of the Faith’ should be the friend and protector of all the faiths which make up the national community. She was an assiduous visitor to temples, gurdwaras and mosques. The idea, however, that you could slip the Christian anchorage in favour of a generalised benevolence to all religions was not one she instinctively favoured. To be simply a ‘Defender of Faith’, rather than the Faith, suggests that one occupies an elevated position in which all faiths are seen as more or less adequate local editions of something vaguely lying beyond them all. Spiritual progress and deeper appreciation of other traditions comes from the serious and disciplined choice of a particular way to follow. The Queen was intensely disciplined in every aspect of her life including in its spiritual dimension. Wherever she was, Sunday worship was a priority.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, History, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Current) Marvin Olasky–A Wrinkle in Journalism History

As I began editing World thirty years ago I was proposing policies regarding poverty-fighting and related issues that became known as “compassionate conservatism.” The magazine reflected that viewpoint. Today, “national conservatism” or “Christian nationalism” has little room for compassion. As World resisted paranoid lines regarding vaccines, masks, and church closings—all part of a big government plot—our resistance became part of a larger conspiracy theory: World had gone woke.

American journalism history has valuable lessons on how to deal with conspiracy mongers. In 1955 wealthy William F. Buckley, Jr. started a magazine, National Review, that invigorated a conservative movement in disarray. Within a few years Buckley as editor had to fight off the John Birch Society, which asserted—among other oddities—that President Dwight Eisenhower was a Communist. Buckley said Birch founder and head Robert Welch inferred “subjective intention from objective consequences”: Because bad things had happened, U.S. policy makers must have intended them to happen.

John Birchers scrutinized book-buying decisions by local librarians and demanded that some books be removed. When National Review opposed the Birch campaign to impeach Earl Warren, the Supreme Court’s chief justice, many subscribers complained. When one donor said he had supported National Review financially and wanted it to support his concerns, Buckley said the magazine was “not for sale.”

Buckley owned the magazine and maintained his emphasis on independence even when the business side, led by publisher Bill Rusher, worried about reader and revenue loss. Rusher said a “substantial fraction” of readers “bled away” during 1962 and 1963. A direct mail campaign flopped as many on the mailing lists sided with the Birchers.

Buckley stuck with his principles and wrote to Barry Goldwater, “It is essential that we effect a clean break” with the Birch Society.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Media, Religion & Culture

An All Souls, Langham Place, Tribute to Queen Elizabeth II (1926-2022)

take the time to watch it all.

Posted in Church History, Church of England, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Religion & Culture, Theology

Faith chaplains to comfort mourners queuing for Queen’s Lying-In-State

The chaplain service will start at 9am…Wednesday 14th September…and run until Sunday 18th September. They will be with the crowd during day-light hours.

The chaplains will be identifiable by their Hi-Vis vests with Faith Team printed on them.

They will move along with the crowd and will introduce themselves, have conversations and, only if requested, pray with people.

The Church of England is working in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to organise this collaborative chaplaincy.

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Posted in Church of England, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(PRC) As more states legalize the practice, 19% of U.S. adults say they have bet money on sports in the past year

Around one-in-five U.S. adults (19%) say they have personally bet money on sports in some way in the last 12 months, whether with friends or family, in person at a casino or other gambling venue, or online with a betting app, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

The survey comes more than four years after the Supreme Court effectively legalized commercial sports betting in the United States. As of this month, 35 states and the District of Columbia have authorized the practice in some form, with Massachusetts becoming the latest state to do so in August.

Despite the growth of commercial sports betting in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling, the most common way that Americans bet on sports is with friends or family, according to the Center’s survey, which was fielded July 5-17 among 6,034 adults. Some 15% of adults say they have bet money on sports with friends or family in the last 12 months, such as in a private betting pool, fantasy league or casual bet. Smaller shares say they have bet money on sports in person at a casino, racetrack or betting kiosk in the past year (8%) or that they have done so online with a betting app, sportsbook or casino (6%). All told, 19% of adults have bet money on sports in at least one of these ways in the past year.

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

(Bloomberg) US Rail-Strike Threat puts Further Strains on Weakening Economy

A looming US railway strike has already halted shipments of a critical fertilizer ingredient at a time when American farmers need it the most.

Rail officials are no longer shipping ammonia, an important component of about three quarters of all fertilizer, because it would be dangerous if the hazardous material was stranded during a potential rail strike, according to the Association of American Railroads. Ammonia is used in explosives as well as being an essential nutrient for plants.

While the average consumer rarely thinks about fertilizer, it can make or break crop production. Global food prices have touched records in recent months as inflation ripples through economies and hunger levels rise. The cost of growing food in the US is set to rise by the most ever in 2022.

Any rail disruptions would come at a time of peak demand. After the latest crop is harvested, North American farmers will need to apply fertilizer to replenish nutrients in the soil that are lost during the growing season. The chemicals are already scarce because plants have shut down in Europe due to the energy crisis there, and the war in Ukraine is hampering shipments.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Travel

Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell’s Sermon on the Death of Queen Elizabeth

And where did this come from? This way of being a monarch that was more about service than rule?

At her Coronation, as I’ve already heard said several times, in perhaps one of the most poignant moments of the service, she steadfastly walked past the throne upon which she would sit and knelt at the altar, giving her allegiance to God before anyone else gave their allegiance to her.

Echoing those comforting words of scripture from the Book of Lamentation, which is itself a book written out of the heart of the profoundest grief and tragedy, the Queen said this in one of her Christmas broadcasts –

“Each day is a new beginning… I know that the only way to live my life is to try to do what is right, to take the long view, to give of my best in all that the day brings, and to put my trust in God.”

And let’s not forget that today is September the 11th, a day etched into the corporate memory of the world as we remember another day of horror and sadness when so many died.

And this is what we do. As we remember, as we grieve and mourn in our families, across our world, and in the household of our nation we tell our stories. And how do we make sense of the end of life and of death? How do we live our lives well in the time that is remaining to us? Well, we can do no better than follow the example of Her Late Majesty the Queen, who each day put her trust in God. There’s nothing sensational or mystical about this. The Christian life is a life of simple discipline where each day we choose to live a certain way. Each day we choose to love our neighbour as ourselves. Each day we choose to love God.

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Posted in Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture